Thursday, January 24, 2013

My Bed - The Stories it could tell...

On Sunday morning, I woke up before Gentleman Jack. As usual, I rolled over and breathed in his manly scent. I smiled to myself, with such gratitude, for having him there. In my bed.

I rolled over to my back and other thoughts came to mind. The morning was quiet except for the sounds of his deep breathing and I recalled hearing my husband, in that same spot...

 ******

I recall buying this bed with my husband, being so excited to buy our very first bedroom set. We felt like such grownups. Finally. I recall nursing our daughter in the bed as well.

My mind then went dark. I can remember trying to sleep in the bed with my husband after our marriage was in distress. I remember feeling sick, having him next to me. I wanted him out. I remember how lonely the bed felt - this giant king bed - when I finally had it to myself.

I stayed on my side of the bed for months, never even pulling back the covers on "his" side. Then, one night, I moved to the middle of the bed and made it my own.

At some point, I realized that I needed to make space for another man in my life. I moved back over to my side again and imagined filling that spot with someone special.

Soldier came into my life but only occupied that spot a few times before he was deployed to Iraq for over a year. I can remember feeling safe enough to have him spend the night because my daughters were too small to see him still asleep under the covers before I took them to daycare.

I spent 15 months wishing a man would occupy that spot but it was instead filled with friends who'd spend the night to keep me company. And lovers. Women lovers. I remember one particular evening with a girlfriend that made me long for another man in my life. I needed a MAN in my bed. That spot was made for a man.

I remember Soldier coming home on R & R and sleeping in that spot. I remember the insane amount of out-of-control, out-of-body, and emotionally-disconnected sex we had. I wanted him to FILL that place in my bed... but all he did was lie in it. I felt even more alone and wanted my bed to myself again. I was reminded of how alone I felt at the end of my marriage.

We broke up in this bed. My heart was broken, right here where I'm typing this post.

Then there was my friend with benefits. My sweet now-best-male-friend who occupied that place for a few nights. He reminded me of the warmth and intimacy of sharing my bed with a man. He held me, reminded me that I was worth being loved. 

But that side of the bed? Still wasn't filled.

I recall the night I cried, prayed like I left my own skin, that someone would understand me, love me for who I was in that very moment - no matter how screwed up I was. I prayed that prayer, right here. I felt invisible arms around me, right here.

Right here... I knew I would be okay again.

I remember feeling that safe, intimate, warm connection again the moment I was in GJ's arms. I remember, the first night he spent the night, and breathing him in. I remember feeling, finally, that the place in my bed was filled.

I knew my bed was now occupied by someone other than me.


******

Back in the moment again, I turned my body to him. He awoke enough to wrap his arms completely around me. I fit perfectly, tucked into the shape of his body. Feeling nothing but joy, I fell asleep again.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Lowering the Bitterness Flag; Raising the Flag of Surrender

Being sick in a bed for a week will definitely put some things in perspective. Especially when I spent most of that time alone and unable to move without pain. I'm now a week past the illness and feeling much lighter.

I realize that I've been a victim of bitterness for some time now. I've fallen into some sort of resentfulness and no one I know is immune to it. That's simply just not how I want to live. I recall feeling the same way after my separation and divorce. It's easy to do. I also recall longing for some rescue from the depths that I'd allowed myself to fall. The best rescue, I found, was complete surrender.



That's when I really began searching, reading more, meditating more, breathing more. Do you know that when you are feeling angry or bitter, you literally hold your breath? It puts your entire body into panic mode. I'm trying to stay aware. Watch my thoughts. Listen for the mis-perceptions behind them. Move beyond them by surrendering to something bigger than me. Someone or Some Power who knows the order to the seeming chaos that drives my resentment.

I don't have a plan.

There are no marriage plans. No plan for a triathlon. Not even, really, a plan for my career. I've always felt better with a plan. To see others and their plans.... well... it's pissed me off the past several months. I couldn't hold it against them, however, because I know that I'm getting in my own way. I'm trying to control the uncontrollable.... even when I won't trust it. I'm too frightened to believe I know what's best for me anymore. I've been living in the past for too long. The future looks uncertain. I can sit and analyze and get angry and try to figure it out. Eventually, I'm tired and really frustrated. I forgot that I can't make a future happen. And when things were looking really bleak with Gentleman Jack, I realized just how little control I really had anyway.

That's when I knew I had to be aware. Stay present. Stay in the NOW. I have to surrender the past and not bring it into my future. I have to allow the future to be whatever it's going to be. I cannot be frightened.

All that I can do is look at the moment I am in, pray about it, breathe deeply and notice the good, the love, what I can be grateful for in that second. It's helping. I still have my moments but this... is... helping.

One of the sure ways I could tell?

Being around Gentleman Jack this weekend and all that we wanted to do was hold each other. Touch each other. Breathe each other. We would wrap up, a jumble of arms and legs, and fall completely into the moment of BEING with ourselves, our love, our skin, our heartbeats.

His presence in my life is an uplifting, pure touch of greatness... even despite the difficulties. And to know that we only have 2 weeks until we see each other again? Instead of the 4 or 5 weeks we were getting through (barely) for the past several months? It wasn't so hard to say goodbye. We have our lives but we have each other.

And it is so good.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

My Deepest Prayer: A Return to Love

To continue the theme from my last post... let's call it the "clearing of stuff"... I came down with the flu. I have to smile at the symbolism.

My homeopath had just recommended a remedy for how I've been feeling emotionally - as I described in last week's post. (For those interested in the natural medicine aspects of this blog, the remedy she suggested is Sepia.) The remedy fit me to a "T". A day after taking it, *BAM*, the flu.

Now as with anything else I do, my goal is to find the darkness and shine light on it, clear it out. Homeopathy works the same way. If you've been pushing down an emotion, an ailment, allowing something to fester in your body, it will bring it to the surface to clear it out. Yoga does the same thing.

So, although it sucks to be stuck in bed for 3+ days, I feel as if I'm no longer pushing stuff down, but getting it out. *cough* So to speak...

***

I've also been praying. A LOT. Prayers filled with begging and tears. Prayers of desperation. Longing for understanding and clarity. I'm not sure I've prayed like this in some time.

In my prayers, I've asked for so much healing and light. For me. For all that I'm struggling with.

Today, while lying on the couch recovering, I turned to my DVR recordings of Oprah's Super Soul Sunday series. I found a recording of one of my favorite spiritual teachers, Marianne Williamson. The discussion was the 20th anniversary of one of the very first books I ever read on spirituality - written by Marianne: A Return to Love - A Reflection on the Principles of A Course in Miracles

I've quoted Marianne Williamson so much on this blog that she deserves her own label. As a matter of fact, I just created one. Click here to see how often she inspires me.

I don't know why I hear her... and it's like I've never heard her before... Everything she says sounds new and inspiring. Everything she says brings tears to my eyes and joy to my soul.  She even made Oprah cry, right then and there in the interview, with her words. And I've seen Oprah interview loads of spiritual teachers without tears.

As I was watching, I began to add her inspired thoughts to my Facebook page. I typically do this as I'm reading or watching something uplifting and thought-provoking. Then I thought, "I need to blog this!"

A few thoughts:

For anyone who is disturbing to your natural state of peace, pray for their happiness, every day, for 30 days. One of two shifts will happen: either they will behave differently or their behavior will not affect you any more.

A Course in Miracles says our greatest power to change the world is to change our minds about the world. Minds are joined. There is nowhere that you end and they begin.

Beautiful. And although it seems challenging, Marianne advises, "Yet it's easy to sit with anger and toxicity and bitterness? That's easier?!" It's easier to bless than blame...but not immediately.

The principle of divine compensation: the greatness, the love, the highest creative possibility of who you could ever wish to be, is held in trust for you until you are ready to receive it. You can block it all day, every day, but it never goes away. It may come to you in another way, somehow. It is always there for you. It waits, patiently, for your open heart.

She describes it as a "download from God"; an undeletable file called "God's will". But unless you're open to it, you won't recognize it. If you feel bitterness, you'll see "bitter" on your screen. Whatever is in your mind, which shows up as open-heart or closed-heart, is what you will notice in your life.

Dammit! I know this! This is why I'm eternally trying to clear the clouds to see the light! I know it's there! Why am I not feeling worthy of it?

"Everything that's happening is the perfect life lesson."

....which I think is part of the problem. There has been so much that I've been fighting and so much that I want to learn from. Still, I keep questioning, "Am I where I'm supposed to be?"

"A Course in Miracles says the goal of the curriculum is the attainment of inner peace."
The question, then, is... can I find peace in this moment? In every moment? Can I allow my emotions to be a reminder that I'm looking at life through the eyes of fear? Can I trust that there is love in every moment?

"I'm looking at those grey clouds and deciding that the sky is grey... rather than remembering that the sky is blue. Dear God, allow me to look at this differently."

And again.... the one that ALWAYS comes up in my life:

"Only what I am withholding is lacking in every situation."

That one is SOOOO hard for me. Yet, I witness its truth whenever I embrace it.

I saw my daughter going into a "it's not fair!" fit the other day and I quickly redirected her to help her sister with her homework. Within 10 minutes, they were both happy.

Helping someone else really does help us. It's just so difficult to remember when I or anyone is feeling the "woe is me" feeling.

I love how she sums up the Course:

"It's not written with the tone of (condescending finger point) 'You SHOULD..'! It's written with the tone of, 'Just thought you might like to know this is how it is. So whatcha gonna do, Marianne? Are you gonna hold on to anger? Are you gonna hold on to bitterness? Are you gonna hold on to grievances? Or are you going to remember these principles:
- Only what you are not giving can be lacking in any situation.
- I am only here to love.
- I am only here to forgive.'
I'd also like to add, from years of studying the Course, one of my favorite quotes:
 "I am only here to be truly helpful. I am here to represent Him who sent me. I do not have to worry about what to say or what to do, because He Who sent me will direct me. I am content to be wherever He wishes, knowing He goes there with me. I will be healed as I let Him teach me to heal."

Marianne continues:
"What I've learned is that life has presented me with the perfect lessons to hone my spiritual muscles. The Course also says, 'It is not up to you what you learn. It is up to you whether you learn through joy or pain.'"

Juuust what I needed to hear right now. Still learning. Still clearing out the stuff.

One final thought:

Michaelangelo would say that when he would choose a piece of marble from a quarry, he imagined that God had already created the statue inside the marble. He said his job was to get rid of the excess marble. 

"As with us, it is our job to get rid of the excess useless fear and thought-forms of the world that hide the light of the soul."

What else is there?

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Thoughts to end 2012 and begin 2013

I'm so ready to get back to some sort of normal routine. Even my trips to see Gentleman Jack haven't been normal. We went from 4 -5 weeks without seeing each other to 2 weeks together practically every day. It feels like an emotional roller coaster because I'm so sad, exhausted or feeling forced indifference when we're not together and then so happy and relaxed when we are.

I'd like to say that this will be a coherent post but I doubt it will be. I've started so many posts during the past 2 weeks that I've not finished. So many thoughts. So many feelings. I know I left you all hanging on Christmas day...

***

Here's one I typed on January 2:

After yet another not-so-positive encounter with the ex’s new wife – I swear that woman despises me – I left their house begging and praying for another way to look at things. I do realize that as long as I allow her actions, stare-downs, snide comments, and so forth to bother me, then I’m handing over my power to her. There has to be another way of dealing with it.

A friend mentioned that perhaps she’s like Tardar Sauce, the cat. She only looks grumpy. Ok, that’s a start.

Then this morning, I woke up to a note about Humor and Openness from Pema Chodron:

"Learning how to be kind to ourselves is important. When we look into our own hearts and begin to discover what is confused and what is brilliant, what is bitter and what is sweet, it isn’t just ourselves that we’re discovering. We’re discovering the universe. When we discover the buddha that we are, we realize that everything and everyone is Buddha. We discover that everything is awake, and everyone is awake. Everything and everyone is precious and whole and good. When we regard thoughts and emotions with humor and openness, that’s how we perceive the universe."

Ok, maybe I can work with that. Can I look at her actions and smile? Can I offer myself a break for taking her so seriously when there is nothing I’m doing to harm her in any way? Can I look at her and love her despite her fears, her jealousy, her spitefulness?

***

Yes, that's me. Still trying to find a way to accept the new wife but still struggling with thoughts of how I really feel about her. I really want to yell in her face. Yell and scream and cry the ugly cry. Then hug her until she breaks down all of the walls she's hiding behind.

That's kind of where I am with everything, right now. I'm feeling all sorts of feelings from anger and resentment, to goofy happiness, to frustration, to peaceful acceptance, to hope and faith for so much good, to fear of the worst. Of course, if you were around me in real life, all that you would see is me being me. Loving and kind and open and smiling... doing what I'm supposed to do.

But I AM very aware of the unstableness. It feels like an acute unsettling. I may be feeling lots of things but joy is missing. Something is lacking.

I'm aware of the depth of this and doing all that I normally do to nurture myself. I'm allowing myself whatever I'm feeling at the time - even if I have to cry in a quiet place, yell in the mirror, laugh with GJ over Skype or dance around the living room in completely happy silliness. I'm aware that the last time I felt this, my hormones were off pretty severely.

Of course, Gentleman Jack is picking up on all of this because he's so fucking intuitive. The man senses energy from miles away. It's so weird.... and lovely. And irritating.

He tries to assure me that perhaps something's going on with me hormonally, but then he chides himself on not taking my feelings at what they are. But then he feels more comfortable thinking there's an explanation other than, "She's not into our relationship anymore." Quite the contrary, actually, he is still so much good in my life. He frustrates the hell out of me too. I long for him and then I want to push him away. I'm tired from work, parenthood, domesticity, taking care of everything and everybody. Just tired. I long for respite. I long for the joy to come back. I long for SOMETHING.

My life is a blessing. I'm aware of all of the good. I'm accepting of where I am although it's a little frightening to feel so off. I feel as if I'm letting everyone down in some way because I'm not really all there. I'm not always able to feel joy for someone when they're feeling it. I'm not always able to feel disappointment for someone when they're feeling it. I'm disconnected, somehow.

The good news is that I can stand back and acknowledge these things instead of buying into them wholeheartedly. As Pema said above, I'm "discovering my own universe"... or at least the solar system I'm spinning in at the moment. I'm looking at it with humor and openness, as best as I can, in whatever moment I'm in.

  • GJ and I are getting back to our normal routines of only 2 weeks apart again. We're Skyping once a week - because seeing his face lights up my world. 
  • My daughters come home tonight for the first time since Christmas Day. We'll be celebrating one of their birthdays this weekend and then back to school on Monday.
  • I'm taking a retreat, alone, next month to just be in nature. To breathe. To step outside of my life. 
  • I'm paying attention to my thoughts and asking for a different way of thinking when they're harmful. 
  • I'm watching the words that I say and rewording them, at least in my mind, to be the truth that I'd like them to be. 
  • I'm nurturing my body with a detox after so much rich food and drink from the holidays. I'm riding my bike trainer, again, in the evenings because cycling makes me smile. I'm doing a yoga class with a friend, at least once a week. 
  • I'm nurturing my soul by reading every night. I'm allowing myself the absence of the computer in the evenings after being on it all day long - even though that messes with my blog reading and writing. (Sorry.)
  • I'm acknowledging the random thoughts and beliefs that seem to be digging their way up to my conscious mind. I'm looking at them, asking myself if they're real or not.
  • I'm taking every moment of 2013 with as much gentleness as I can muster, to heal whatever needs healing. 

I know me and I know that this darkness will dissipate and reveal a beautiful new light that was always there. I have to move all of the "stuff" out of the way. That's what I'm doing.

I hope your year brings light too.