Monday, February 29, 2016

The Flu

The flu is going around our house, first our housemate, then my daughter, now my son and I am seriously exhausted with a sinus headache from hell...so I guess I'm next.

I took a day off work.  Yep.  I even took it easy on the home Ed front.  I took a nap.  I ate easy food (some junky, some with leafy green and avocado goodness).  I didn't hesitate to take care of myself.  I didn't feel guilty calling my coworker to fill in for me.  I know what happens when I don't listen to my body when it tells me to take a break, emotional or physical.  This "suck it up, buttercup." mentality is so damaging to our health as a society.  It's also a sign of low self worth.

Yeah, when I was in my teens and early twenties I could pop some cold meds and push through just about anything.  But I have kids now, I have to be fairly alert.  I can't push myself to the point of desperate exhaustion then come home and make dinner hoping I don't set the house on fire in my stupor.

Becoming so ill was one of the best things that ever happened to me.  Getting my health back and seeing how healing just listening to my body's requests was so enlightening.  Listening to your body heals you in two ways: 1) Physically: You get the rest/nutrition/excersize your body needs. 2) Emotionally: You acknowledge your right to feel healthy, you show yourself your worth, you learn how to put your health needs first.  You learn about the importance of boundaries.

Fibromyalgia healed me.


Saturday, February 27, 2016

Facebook Posts and Lovers

I used to see my friends post on facebook, women I really looked up to (funny how I don't feel like I look up to any women anymore, but that's another blog post) I knew they were married/attached but they rarely shared anything about their significant other on Facebook.  Not many pictures, hardly any description of things they were doing together.  In fact most of the pics were of things they were doing all on their own or with friends. I remember wondering if their partners travelled a lot, or if maybe they distanced relationships with them and didn't share anything because they never did anything together.  Maybe, I thought, they are unhappy with their partners.  It never occurred to me, that they were happy, happy with themselves.  They were able to fill facebook with stuff just about them and what they were interested in because they created space in their lives for themselves.  I had hardly anything for myself. My life was so entwined with my partner's that almost every aspect involved him.  Only my doula work was mine, and even then I depended heavily on my partner for transportation and childcare to allow my business to keep afloat. It was when my health problems demanded that I make space for myself, that I began to realize how much of my time and energy was going to others.  It was also when I realized how unhealthy my relationship was.  There was always space made for my partner, but none for me.  There was literally an apartment across town he could go to to spend the night if he was feeling overwhelmed.  I had the bathroom.  Reading a full chapter of a book, in a different room without interruption was a pipe dream and this was after the kids went to bed.  I reached a point where I no longer needed a co-dependant relationship.  That, despite my illness that made me very physically dependant on my partner, I wanted to rediscover aspects of who I was outside of "mother" and "wife". I needed to become whole, a separate person, but still very much in love. Part of me knew this was the key to my recovery.  I needed to grow outside of the relationship.  This was around the time when everything began to fall apart (or at least very obviously fall apart)  This was not the unwritten contract we had been following for several years.  I can't speak for my ex, but I can imagine it was a rude awakening to have me erect boundaries around my time and physical space, that I never had before. 

So what does this have to do with facebook posts?  This is what: I get it now.  These women who rarely posted about their partners are whole, they have entire parts of their lives that are dedicated to themselves.  They are a part of a family, not the part that holds the family together.  They are pursuing interests outside of their partner's interests and they are encouraged to do so.  They have friends they go out with and share with.  They do not post all over their facebook profiles with lovey pictures and statuses because there's so much more to their lives then their romantic partners. The other night I was talking to a friend about being afraid of becoming too attached to the next person I dated.  I didn't want to lose myself.  Now that I've experienced what I have I don't think I will.  I like all the stuff I am doing.  I love my friends, my freedom, my new jam sessions.  I love who I am so much that I can't see myself ever giving this up.  I could fit a romantic interest into my life, but one will never become my life again.








Thursday, February 25, 2016

Lessons Learned in the Birth Room

Something I learned in the birth room. 

It's hard to watch someone in pain.  But the pain belongs to that person, it is there for a reason, it is part of their journey and lesson.  You can let them know they are not alone, you can acknowledge their feelings, you can assist them in finding their own coping techniques, but never try to "fix" their pain or their situation. It's disempowering.  We build self confidence based on what we have accomplished for ourselves, not on what others have accomplished for us.  We need to listen to our inner voice to find our way through.  When another person steps in and tries to speak louder than our inner voice, several things happen:
1) We begin to question our inner voice's competency to help us face this situation, if this person is stepping in and telling us to do something differently then what we feel is best, we begin to think that maybe we don't really know how to help ourselves.
2)In our uncertainty we hand over our problems to this person who seems to have all the answers to our pain.
3)The person who was trying to fix it becomes overwhelmed and resentful.  Why can't this person figure this out without me?
4)The relationship (family, friend, romantic,medical care provider, support provider) breaks down, leaving the person in pain feeling more alone and very distrustful. Which leads to the person being...
5)Still in pain, less self confident and now looking for another fixer or fix it outside of themselves.

Or

Immeadiately the person in pain sees the fixer's need to get involved and puts up boundaries.

I am a fixer, or at least I was ...I'm working so hard on trying to recognize my "fix it" actions as they happen and take a step back.  I find my main reasons to fix things are these:

I am triggered by what the person is going through, it brings up my own pain and I think that if I can help them through their's maybe my pain will decrease as well. 

I think that fixing their emotional turmoil will make them treat me better.  That if I can stop their hurt, they will stop hurting me.  A defense mechanism.

I don't fool myself into thinking that I am coming from a place of wisdom, when really I am coming from a place of my own discomfort and or fear.  I have seen too much to think I am doing anyone any good as I try to tell them how to fix their problems or end their pain.  The truth is, I can't see all of their motives, fears and memories and even if I could, it's not mine and it would be like stealing for me to take away the confidence of working through something major on your own.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Mr. Sun and Mr. Wind

To the wind and the sun, no matter which tactic you choose to do it,  manipulating another person just to prove a point of who is most powerful is an ego fuelled act of disrespect. I don't care if you are elementals, grow up.

I know people who just bounce back and forth between honey and vinegar to get what they want out of people.  It really is just a need to feel in control, which is sad, because it is a symptom of feeling the opposite way: completely out of control or a complete lack of faith.  

I don't mean religious faith, although truly believing that an all loving being has sent you here for a noble purpose can allow you to release the need to control all aspects of your life and those around you.  More of like the faith that you can deal with or survive something; faith in yourself.  The kind of faith you build when you take responsibility for your actions and choose to fix them for yourself.  Not simply hand them over to someone else to take care of, or blaming others around you while you ignore or repeatedly experience the same consequences.

The last year or so I have been facing my choices, changing my life and looking some very scary things in the face.  Not only did I survive, I flourished.  It is time for me to stop ignoring certain choices that need to be made that will lead to discomfort and conflict.  It is time for me to feed myself so that bowls of honey do not attract me. I need to not fear unpleasant situations vinegar can be a very useful cleansing tool.  It's time for me to stop thinking of other's actions as all powerful in my life.  It's time for me to look up at the sky and ask "Who gives a shit about who's more powerful?  Don't you guys have more important things to do than try to make yourselves feel good by comparing yourselves to others? Also, I like this jacket, I look cool in it, so fuck off."

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

A Note To That Creepy Guy In The Bar

Please be aware that I am no longer one of those "nice girls" that will allow you to slip your greasy hands down her back using the guise of just being a drunk old man. I won't giggle nervously as you breath down my neck and use patronizing terms of endearment to degrade me even more. When I tell you to please stop touching me, it doesn't mean stop touching me if you please, it means it would please me if you took your hands off my body.  If you don't stop and instead try to pull me closer.  I will yell "DON'T TOUCH ME!"  Not because I think it will make you suddenly realize how inappropriate you were being, (because I am sure you know already that grabbing strangers is not appropriate) but because I feel threatened by your obvious lack of respect for my boundaries. I will call attention to this situation, I will have all eyes turn on you and witness your next action, which greatly decreases the chance of it escalating on your part.  You may call me names, but your hands will come off of me.  I will make you look at yourself through the eyes of everyone who stopped to stare. Not only am I not easy prey but I just taught every woman in that pub exactly how to stop your harassment dead in it's tracks, they aren't such easy prey anymore either.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Phone Call

Note: I wrote this yesterday, but didn't manage to finish it until today...

This morning was not a good morning.  I got really angry with my kids.  I yelled, again.  They are not taking care of their homeschool supplies, they are dawdling when they should be finding their pencils, their room is a mess again, I was asking them repeatedly to do the same things over and over.   I yelled at them that if they are going to make homeschooling difficult by not listening and acting as a team then we're not going to be able to do it anymore.  Where did that come from? I asked myself.  Expectations.  Suddenly it has become so important that our homeschooling look perfect, our home look perfect... That the most important things are being  lost, love, compassion and making learning fun.

I have been tense since CAS called about concerns that my children are not getting the education they need.

Though CAS decided that opening a file was not necessary, getting a call from them certainly does put one on edge.  So anyways, it was too cold this morning to go grocery shopping, yesterday was not much better and I had to work.  I baked protein muffins yesterday before work, so they would have the proper amount of protein and easy snacks.  I still have some left today, but we are super low on fresh fruits and veggies, everything is frozen or canned.  So this little voice in the back of my head says to me:  what if  CAS were to stop by today and look in my fridge?  This morning we slept in together and cuddled, so they only got to do math and a bit of grammar before lunch then they dragged their feet and I got so angry with them... Or I thought it was with them.  But my frustration was with this sudden feeling of constriction and scrutinization.  I made choices based on knowing my children and my love of learning, now I feel like I'm being threatened, like someone is trying to control me by making my life difficult or at least trying to, if I don't conform to their wishes. I feel like my choices are now coming from fear.  Not of  CAS, but of who is calling them.  I feel like I did last year before I moved to the shelter. This situation totally triggered me and my kids suffered for it.  I can't wait to start the family counselling.  I really want to be the best parent I can be.  I also need to take responsibility for recognizing my fear and not living in it or perpetuating it.  As I read back through this post... CAS is not going to take my kids away because I have frozen carrots,green
beans, strawberries and mangos rather than fresh, that the protein I have to offer is in nut and legume
form.  It's okay that on a day most people wouldn't be doing math and grammar that we didn't get as much done of it that I would have liked.   I'm attentive, I attend parenting workshops, various supportive groups and read parenting books.  My kids eat healthy and are involved in various community events.  No, their socks don't always match and sometimes my son hides his underwear then can't find them so then goes commando or wears long johns under his pants until I go to do laundry and call him on it.  My kids have no problem coming to me when they are upset with something I've said or done and that says a lot about the love and trust in our relationship. So I have stepped out of this fear, but I'd like to learn more coping techniques to help me not get wrapped up in it, even if it is just for 24 hours.


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Bigger than this

I was made for bigger things than this tragic turn of events.  I am made for bigger things than this inner drama.

I have witnessed and held space for birth.  
I have pulled people together to create beautiful works of art and charity.
I have written inspirational pieces, that have helped women through hard times.
I have talked people down from suicide.
I have come back from debilitating illness and trauma and told the tale.

I was made for bigger things than these day to day emotional shifts, highs and lows.
And so were you.








Viscous

It's the morning after a sobering night.  One of those nights where you wake up and wonder did that really happen? Yes, yes it did.  Lastnight I got talking about a subject that was so stressful to me I began to stutter and slur, again.

It was as simple as physical affection with a member of the opposite sex.  There's only one male, aside from family members, that I am comfortable being affectionate with. Over the years we have built trust between eachother, I even allow him to take nude artistic photos of me.  He has seen me vulnerable many times, always respected my boundaries and created a safe space for me to express myself fully.

I feel like, until lastnight, I didn't realize how thick the liquid surrounded me was until I tried to swim through it.

Having repeated positive experiences can rewire the brain's anxiety response, so why not be physically affectionate with my male friends (not talking sex) until I learn positive associations?  I know how devastating one negative experience can be on the healing process, that's why.

I know how people can use your physical affection as an excuse to violate boundaries, make it your fault when you tell them "No."  "But you let me do ___________,  so I thought this would be cool with you."  Or "why did you lead me on..."  Part of me believes they are right, social programming has taught me be chaste or be promiscuous there is no safe space in between.  I can communicate boundaries all I like, but if the other person is only hearing what they want to hear...

This is when my little voice, the one that used to be loud, bold and joyful whispers to me:  "Your
strength is in seeing the risk but living joyfully anyways.  Fearing pain doesn't always stop you from
experiencing it, you'll just experience it as a feeling of constant confinement.  Go out, take baby steps if you need to but don't lock your heart away."

Monday, February 8, 2016

Head On

After years of both procrastination and inability, I finally wrote and passed my G1.  The world is opening up and if I work hard, I will be driving my kids around in a year.

This was the first time I felt like I'd use it after I wrote it.  I'm actually looking forward to my driving lessons.  There's no fear there anymore, which is a huge deal as the fear of driving hasn't left me since Konrad's mother's death in a car accident 19 years ago. This may have something to do with my self confidence rising after surviving the craziness that was my life last year.  Getting through something tough is the best confidence builder ever.

I'm not sure if I'm going to buy a car right away...as I am trying to pay down my credit card and don't want to use my line of credit.  But when I look into college courses, writing workshops etc...a vehicle may be exactly what I need to help increase my income...eventually.

I thought I would feel like partying, but really I just want to take a bath and shave my legs.  Ohh yeah, and buy lipstick, that will be my gift to myself. I will be going out for a couple of drinks with a friend later tonight, because I won't be driving home (cuz that's an option now! EEEE!).

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Interdependent

So I put it out there...this need to unwind, let off steam.  Suddenly there's all these people who want to hang out and do cool things with me.  This week's looking pretty good.  I'm a hermit when I'm writing, but I need to draw from something other than my recycled thoughts. I love people, I love sharing experiences with them.

I remember when I first moved out, everything I needed came to me when I put it out there.  Then for some reason I stopped asking.  I stopped saying "hey, I need this."  I don't know why, because it clearly works.  Maybe I thought, "okay I'm good now, I can do this on my own, thanks."
I forget I never do anything completely on my own.  Ever.  Everything I do has some sort of interaction involved either before or after in order to complete it. Life is a series of interactions and relationships.  I have to stop thinking of myself as independent when I'm interdependent, we all are.  I just keep mentally separating myself from others with this idea of "making it on my own." 
I'm scared of becoming dependent on someone again.  So I try to be completely independent which is not helping my emotional state at all.  I need to recognize I need not be either.  I am a working part of a whole system, this system needs me like I need it.  I'm not talking economically, I am talking about relationships, action/reaction, give and take.  I felt very isolated for a long time, but it's time to let go of that viewpoint and open up to my community.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Clip, Shift, Solder

Some people are simply not going to understand.  They think they have an idea, but they don't.  It's going to take a long time for my mind to rewire.  Five years of wiring to clip, shift, and solder.  Then there's the good parts, the memories that I can't simply shut off, because they have made me who I am today.  Many of these memories involved my children growing and learning.  To shut them down and pretend they never happened is just as damaging as compulsively reliving them.  I cannot and will not block out the half decade in which my children grew up, simply to avoid thinking of my ex. So as such this is going to be messy and sad. There is going to be mascara running rivers and eyes bloodshot swollen. There's going to be anger and blame before the acceptance. But I can do this.  I'm not scared of the dirty work, but I understand if it's painful for you all to witness.  I understand if sometimes you need to take a step (or two) back.  I won't take it personally, I've got this.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Can't Be A Hermit

I really need to blow off some steam this weekend.  I need to dance, laugh and have a beer.  I need to create with another person.  I am snapping at my kids, actually I yelled at them yesterday and today, I hate yelling. I need to refill my cup.

Writing and meditating can only do so much.  Today while walking to the grocery store I remembered my daily walks before I met my ex, when my kids were in strollers and I lived where there were sidewalks.  I try to do that now, but it becomes a struggle just to get my son to not stop every ten steps.  Yes, I understand that he is stretching his imagination by hiding behind every single lamp post, but I have needs too, and if I don't meet them every once in a while, I turn into the very troll he's imagining he is hiding from.  

I think I may also need to get laid.

Unfortunately, I don't believe that is an itch that I should scratch anytime soon...

So I will settle for a beer, a live band and some good company.  

Little Talks

What was life like before all this fear?  What was it like to not fear love?  What was it like to be able to imagine making love to someone else without anxiety gripping my chest?  What was it like to trust that the next relationship would be better?  To not assume everyone will be filled with lies and anger? 

What happened to that beautiful hopeful woman?  Where is she? I told myself I would never be broken, that I would always start each day new.  My strength was my ability to love, to be open, to not judge anyone before I got to know them. I thought my meditation, my communication, my compassion for others could see me through anything.  

I judge everyone now.  I have a few good days of freedom then a nightmare and I'm back to living in fear again.  When will this be over?  When will I feel safe again?  I thought if I buried myself in work I would be occupied and the fear would go away.  I know that I am not depressed because I am able to find genuine joy in many things.  It's not generalized anxiety because I can try new things without fear. I answer my phone without hesitation now, I can go to the pub and be social with no nervousness.  It is always around relationships with men and sex.  I don't trust my heart.  That's why I don't date, that's why I don't feel like I can be physically intimate with anyone.  My heart just loves, it loves people in pain and people in pain love my heart.  I keep making up these rules for myself, like I can't date someone while I want to date someone...???  That I can't be in pain and date.  That I have to be completely healed before dating.  But what if I can't completely heal because I'm scared of dating and refuse to face that fear?

I took a 20 minute break and prayed for guidance, my chest relaxed, my tears stopped and this is what my inner voice said to me:

Dear Amber,

Stop worrying.  It will come.  This won't last forever.  I love you.  You have learned, you have grown.  Trust yourself.  I love you.  I love you.  Go out, love being around people, do not expect anything else of yourself right now. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Goodbye Curls

There's this man in my town.  I've known him and his daughter since I moved here.  Warmth radiates off of him, you can tell he genuinely wants to make others happy.  He volunteers at the local Foodbank, he donates his time for music and art events to raise money for various local not for profits.  He was a calming presence while he produced my radio show, and he gave me an amazing hug and said just the right thing on a day that I really needed it.

He has a little girl just a bit older than my own.  You can see they have a great connection, and it's heart breaking because he has cancer.

I want to help him.  I want to support him, but I have very little money of my own.  So yesterday I saw that there are people shaving their heads and taking donations for cancer research and awareness on Feb 4th.  So I decided to do the same, but ask people to sponsor me by donating money to his medical fund instead.  If you'd like to donate to the fund click on this link: https://www.gofundme.com/qzex8wdc

Thank you.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Halfway to Spring!

Today it got quiet, my mind wanted to go to stressful things.  But I watched my roommate walking my kids home and I realized how amazingly lucky I have been.  Things worked out so beautifully.  Yeah, I've had my emotional struggles, but it all came together in the end.

I just have to keep my focus on my goals and make sure I am taking time to rest and restore as well.  I've been dotting my i's and crossing my t's.  I've been diligently paying off debts and I'm genuinely excited about what my future holds: a driver's license and travel as well as workshops and courses to improve my writing.  My life is going to be MINE and fabulous.

In a few days I will be able to really dive into my part in an upcoming fundraiser.  I love sales, when I am selling something I believe in.  I'll be selling sponsorships in the form of silent auction items and other advertising opportunities for an event supporting The Children's Foundation of Muskoka.  A truly great organization that financially assists low income families with registering their children in music/art/sports programs.  This kind of work is my favourite. :).

I have been making new friends, planning art adventures and doing a crazy push up challenge.  However tonight, I will be lounging in the bathtub, reading a book and resting my soul.