Thursday, August 29, 2013

In My Skin

I was sitting at a stoplight this afternoon when out of no-where a wave of "something is not right" flooded over me.  The oddest part is that it was wholely physical. You know that feeling you get in your gut when something is just WRONG?

 Everything in my being knew something was Not Right.  My gut, my skin, my nerves.  Then after that extraordinary awareness came the words.

"This is not what I was supposed to be doing now, this is not where I was supposed to be, these are not the things I was supposed to be thinking and feeling and dealing with."  Yeah, I've thought all those things so often these last six months....but I had never FELT them like this.  It kind of took my breath away.  And then it was gone.  And I was mostly okay.

 I remember someone telling me that grief is like waves and she liked to think of it that way because it gave her some control over it.  You can sit on a beach and let waves wash over you or you can get up and walk away if you need to.  And those waves always retreat back into the ocean.  Sometimes they come hard and fast and sometimes slow and easy...but they are a process not a wall.

How do I get comfortable in my skin again? 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Showing Up

Showing Up

Are holy
And sacred ...

And utterly unique.
There are gifts you were born to give.
Songs you were born to sing
Stories you were born to tell.
And if you do not give it,
The world will simply lose it.
It is yours alone to offer,
No one can give it for you.

And dearest,
Because this is important,
This wounded world
Needs all the songs we can pull from the air,
Every story that helps us remember.
It needs every single gift
Large and small.
And yes,
This grateful world
Does rejoice
Every courageous time,
We are true to ourselves
And to our gifts.

And so it is
Dear heart
We embrace the song
And the story
And all our gifts
Because world has such great need
And because the world exceedingly rejoices
And because
There is no sadder thing
Then to leave this world
Having never really shown up.

This appeared on my facebook feed today and I sure needed it.  I've spent the last week or so in deep pain.  Not interested in writing, sharing, talking.  So very very tired of coping, or not coping.  The therapist who leads the grief  group tells me that sometimes it's the time leading up to a big anniversary that is more painful than the event itself.  David's birthday is Monday and then five days later is the six month anniversary of his death.  It feels big, huge.  Unfair. It could not possibly have been six months. I'm angry and so very sad.  And...what am I supposed to do now? I know also that I have been saying these very same things for six months now.  I feel like a broken record and I am certain that no one really needs to hear it again, I'm not sure I need to say it again.  I have no choice but to feel it over and over again, but I'm sick of it.  so, rant over. 

I am learning every day how important it is to simply show up.  To show up to whatever life asks of me, to hope that whatever gifts I have will shine.  I'm not sure what they are but I learned in David's life and dying that the best gifts are not flashy or big and bright.  They shine quietly, softly, seen with a sideways glance or a quiet hand on a shoulder.  David loved well and people felt loved by him.  It was his greatest gift to the world.  I am grateful to have been loved by him.  Listening to people talk about being loved by David was a gift to me as well. So much quiet joy.  I hope when I am gone I will have done as much.  I hope people will say "she loved well."  So I am practicing showing up.  That's hard work and I am tired tonight.  Sleep well dear ones.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Assumption of Grace

This week has been as hard as any in those first days, only without the anesthetic of shock.  The air cooled and the sun came out and I found myself thinking, "I could just lay down on the driveway in the sun and not get up."  I didn't, but I kept it as my mantra for a day or two.  I could, if I needed to, choose that option.  I won't pretend:  I looked at that driveway for a long time, several times.

I also found myself tilting on the edge of my old anorexia.  I was thinking I was fat (which I'm not) and that I would just stop eating.  Directly on the heels of that thought came another.  "Ah, I must be really stressed."  Life feels like it is spinning out of control but, by God, I can control this...what I eat, if I eat. I have not heard that old anorexic voice in years and years.   I made some lunch.  And later sat down and made some choices about small steps I could take to try to bring some order into what felt so uncontrollable. 

It has got me to thinking about what I leave behind.  I am a leaver, it's easy for me to walk away, it's very difficult to stay.  I have lived here longer than I ever lived anywhere as an adult.  My relationship with David lasted longer than any I had ever been in.  I have been in relationship with the farm family longer than I have almost any other friends.  It's an uncomfortable place for a leaver to be and a small voice says, "see, see how hard this is? Let's just move on."

I used to think of this leaving as a positive thing.  Deal with the issues, the addictions, the disorders, the pain, and move on.  But we never really move on.  They are a part of me. I feel myself circling back around to learn to embrace them and integrate them into the present me. 

If nothing else my hope is that doing so will keep me from falling back into the hole that those things once were.  If all things are touched by grace, perhaps doing so will enrich my life, who I am and what I have to offer others.  I'm gonna work with the assumption of grace. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


Crash.  That's about it really.  Or as they say in grief group...a grief spike.  Yay.  I feel like I am back at the beginning again.  How is that possible?  I couldn't stop crying today.  I cried around the house, I went and sat in the shop and cried, I put my ring back on and cried, then I took it off again  and cried.  Every time I spoke to anyone I cried. Everything overwhelmed me, getting gas, getting the truck inspected, shopping at the market. I hate this house, I love this house.  God.  Help.  Me. 

Maybe I am working up to September 2, his birthday.  Or the 7th, the six month anniversary of his death.  It does seem to work that way.  As if preparing myself for a big day will someone make it easier.  My old belief system at work.  If I can just be really really well prepared I can handle anything.  As some of my friends like to say, "how's that working for you?"  Not too well. 

Several times this week I could've sworn I saw him walking toward me, getting in a car. That hadn't happened to me yet, I thought maybe it wouldn't, but it did.  What a strange and heart-wrenching feeling.

Just keep breathing.  It's just a wave coming in. In the way of waves, it will go out again.  Leaving new smooth sand in it's wake. I can do this.

Monday, August 12, 2013

There was a woman at the festival, Glennon Melton, whose blog I have been following for quite a while. She just wrote a book called, Carry On Warrior.  She is a recovering everything and she tells the truth. 

It would be easy to think she had it easy.  She has this amazing blog, wrote a book, she is beautiful and has a lovely family.  She seems to have it all.  But her telling the truth behind that perfection is a powerful act.  She believes and lives that secrets = shame = fear.  It was amazing to watch this woman talk about all the things so many of us would choose to keep secret.  And she is free and in that freedom an amazing force for good in the world. 

What if I told the truth?  Really told the truth?  To myself?  To others?  What if we all did?  And what if we heard it with love?  What kind of world could we create?  Can you imagine?  It's terrifying and exhilarating all at the same time. 

We build our lives with stories.  The stories we tell ourselves to keep ourselves sane and safe, the stories we tell others to save face.  How do we decide which part of our story defines us?  What part of the story ends up on the cutting room floor?  How would the story change if I picked up some of those pieces and integrated them, chose to tell the whole story, not just the easier parts?

I think I have always had such a strong desire to move on to the next best thing that I have left a great deal behind.  Rather than integrate those separate stories into my life, I have simply left them. 

It might be time to tell the whole story, to find a way to integrate the parts left behind.  What would you share if you did not have to be afraid?

Love Wins

For a few days now I've been trying to sort things out so that I could write.  I'm not sure I'm sorted but I feel an increasing need to try to put thoughts into words.  For the last two weeks I have felt almost normal, then today I crashed again.  I have no idea why, I simply woke up sad and spent the day crying and trying to get myself to do something, anything.  That said, I now know this is simply part of the process and the one thing I know for sure is that this will change.  Again.

What I am most intrigued by are the ideas that have come together for me since attending the WildGoose Festival this last weekend.  It's a kind of Christian Woodstock, complete with rain and mud and music.  I was incredibly uncomfortable at first with all the church and Jesus talk.  I have never been easy with it and since seminary I have struggled even more.  But these folks are redefining church and Jesus, and while I still didn't feel comfortable, I found some ease. 

I often found myself feeling old, or maybe just sad that we are still working on the same ideas.  Much of what were new ideas to these folks where old ideas to me.  Folks talking about simple living and revolution and fighting for equal rights...all old stories but new again.  However, it was wonderful to see the variety of people and the respect they all afforded each other. 

All the large problems and movements can be overwhelming.  I become overloaded by all that needs doing in the world, in my own life.  And we must keep fighting those battles but I think the only way to do it is by simply doing the next right thing.  To look up each morning and do that next right thing that is in front of me.  And all those next right things turn into a life, a movement, a way to save ourselves and each other.  We can only take the hand of the person next to us and walk together for a bit.  We manage big movements with small moments of love, connection and caring.  When we really see each other, speak to each other in truth and love, we change the world.

But really, what I came away with was this:

Show up to your life.  Be brave.  Tell the truth.  Be kind. Love wins.

But most of all:

 Love wins.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

We are all just walking each other home

I've read several things today about Silence.  The silence we offer others and the silence that is required of us by others or ourselves.  Something in me knows this is important.  It hasn't quite coalesced but I thought maybe writing would help it come together.  After reading two writings about silence, the title quote was in my inbox.  Again.  Somehow they all come together. 

We are so afraid of reaching out and connecting with others, known or unknown.  As a culture we seem to have perfected the art of seeming to connect without actually having to do it.  I fear it's getting worse.  I know, as an introvert, I welcome blogs, email, facebook, etc as a means of connection without having to put out the energy required to be present face to face.  I dithered for several hours last night about going to a party, dithered until it was too late and the choice was made for me.  I should have gone, I needed the connection, but it made me tired to think about it.  This morning I regret it.  A dearly loved friend reached out to me yesterday after several years of not connecting.  Another called to ask if I wanted to get together.  My uncle sent another message reminding me to consider applying to the Peace Corp.  I finished my home visit, opening my life up to being present for a dog needing safe harbor.  Every day there are so many opportunities to be truly present, it's kind of overwhelming.  I find myself withdrawing to the safety of solitude.  And yet what has saved me over and over in this process is connection and speaking some of my truth.

I think of all the silence I have kept around my life.  Writing about this grief process has been one of the first truth tellings I have ever done.  And it brings me peace, comfort, connection.  I have been told that it does the same for others.  It has opened a door for connection that would have never happened otherwise.  I find myself wondering what would happen if I broke silence more often?  What if I broke silence and told some of the other stories?  The secrets I keep because of fear, shame, tiredness, wanting that part of me to be done and in the past? 

Connection through breaking silence, even if it is simply by making eye contact and offering a smile to a stranger, seems to be what saves us.  Over and over again.  I am grateful for the world we live in that allows breaking silence in the relative safety of technology, but I worry about that ease and safety as well.  I see us shying away from eye contact, touch, concrete reality.  In the end I think that is what saves us.  Looking into anothers eyes, pulling their arm through mine as I say, "Come on, let's walk together for awhile."  We are all just walking each other home.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

I have had an amazing week.  Many times I found myself simply feeling enthusiastic about being alive.  Each and every time I noticed, it took me by surprise.  I have been finding more and more of myself again.  While I miss David, I am grateful to be moving into who I am as me.  I am recognizing the parts of myself that I let go of, that I altered, when I was with David.  I know I've said this before, but it all just keeps spiraling around again and again.  Each time there is more clarity, less grief. 

I let him take care of me, which was such a joy and such a deep deep breath.  But I am remembering that I can take care of myself too.  Not in the same way, not with the same end goals but in my own way.  I finally took the "girl" weed eater out of the car, put it together, charged it up and actually used it.  I can't tell you how great it felt to cut down weeds.  My next challenge will be cutting wood with the chainsaw.  Later. 

I applied to be a foster dog person.  Something I always wanted to do but couldn't because David's response was always, "No more dogs!"  or "which three are you going to get rid of?"  We laughed, and he tried to keep me in check, and it was okay.  But now is different.  I feel like a teenager, trying to figure out who I am in the world.  Maybe that's a nice place to be, back at the beginning but with skills and knowledge that were beyond me back then.  We'll see. 

I am feeling more at peace with the work I do as well.  I find myself taking it in new directions, at least in my head, and that is good too.  We'll see what this year brings.  What I know is true is that I am good with kids, how that continues to manifest - I have no idea.  But it's interesting to me again, rather than an obstacle to be overcome. 

I like feeling like this and it terrifies me.  I know I will struggle again, be in great pain, probably even find myself back on my knees trying to breathe.  But I am starting to know that it passes and the spiral moves ever upward.  I will not stay there, I will move forward into the unknown.  And I am beginning to believe that it will be good. To paraphrase a saint whose name I cannot remember:  All is well and all manner of things will be well.