The Emotional Hangover

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IMG_20140831_233300Lying in my sleeping bag, damp, cold and shivering, a mosquito buzzing around my ears. I feel it on my back, maybe even in the sleeping bag with me, biting, annoying, my skin crawling with itchiness real and imagined. I feel completely alone and I shiver with a cold that runs deeper than my chilled toes. There is nobody to warm me up but myself so I curl into a ball deep in my sleeping bag and hope sleep finds me but I lay there wanting so much to feel the warmth of another human being wrapped around me.

It was a weekend of baseball, booze, camping, hanging out with new friends, learning new games (slip and slide flip cup) and just generally having a good time. I am the quiet one, the non-drinker, the non-smoker, the one in the shadows holding the light so others can see. I am not loud, or obnoxious. I am the responsible one that catches the drunk when they stumble.

But oh how I wish I could be the one partying it up, the one willing to play, willing to be looked after, willing to stand in the light and be seen. My choice to opt out comes from a place of fear, fear of being seen for who I am and of being defined by my pain, my anger and my mistakes. Instead I take the safe route and I choose not to drink. I use my medications as my excuse but it goes so much deeper than that.

I don’t drink because I’m an angry drunk, a raging drunk, a pitiful crying drunk. Alcohol follows the path of least resistance and it finds its way between the cracks to my dark place, where I keep my anger, my rage, my pain all bottled up. The alcohol lets everything loose, it breaks me wide open. I lose the ability to keep the tears in check and they fall uncontrolled. It can and has ruined the fun for everyone, so I choose not to bring that to a party, which means I choose not to drink.

So I play the part of the responsible one. I let others enjoy themselves and then I’m there to catch them before they stumble into the fire or otherwise hurt themselves or cause any damage, to help them get back to the campsite safely or to the bathroom and back without hurting themselves. I stay hidden in the shadows. I take all the pictures of everyone having a good time but you won’t find me in any of the photos. I will be a phantom memory to most within a week or so when baseball season ends. I will be the “oh who was that girl?” and the “y’know so and so’s wife (friend, whatever), does anyone remember her name?” questions.

It’s not that I didn’t enjoy myself because I did. It was nice to have a weekend away from the kids and to just hang out and have absolutely nothing to do and nowhere important to be. To laugh and to feel like a member of the group, even if it was only for a few days. It’s just so hard to feel like a real, integrated member when I’m working so hard to keep my dark secrets hidden and play nice, and to feel like if they knew the real me, my story, I would not be as welcome, and yet I don’t really give them a chance either because giving them a chance means taking the risk of exposing myself.

For most of the weekend I shifted aside my needs so my husband could thoroughly enjoy himself, play ball and be one of the guys and I encouraged him to let go and have fun. On the last night after he’d had too much to drink I held him wrapped in his sleeping bag until he stopped shivering and fell into a deep sleep, sleeping off the last of the effects of the alcohol, but in the darkness of the night I felt encompassed by a sense of utter loneliness despite being surrounded by a campsite full of friends. It was hard not to give into the overwhelming twinges of resentment and self-recrimination, angry because I’m not more outgoing, wishing I could just drink and be part of the life of the party instead of being the responsible one all the time, and being so afraid of letting my demons out to play and ruining the night for others, that at the end of it all I end up all alone cold and shivering in my sleeping bag.

I didn’t drink much at all, yet I woke up feeling hung over and exhausted, almost worse than some of the drinkers. It was an emotional hangover brought on by repressing everything I felt, the overwhelming loneliness, being frustrated by how much my anger and pain poisons my life, and all the artifices I use to keep people on the outside so they can’t see, really see the person I am, pain and all.

I won’t ever be the life of the party and as much as I envy those who find it so easy to let go, I’ve accepted that that’s not who I am but I’ve realized I also have a limit where I need some attention too, like wanting to be held until I am warm again. Some day maybe just maybe I will find the strength to step into the light and be seen, and be the one to stumble trusting that someone will be there to catch me when I do.

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Meeting Needs

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2822745259_86e9306308_oMy son just turned four.

The first day of the new school year is less than a week away and I haven’t signed him up for kindergarten yet. In my heart I don’t want to but I’ve had to face some tough, emotional, letting go kind of stuff over the last month. One of the issues that surfaced was finding space and time for me in my life and accepting that I am worthy of that space and time.

I have decided that I will consecrate my space and time to a few hours each morning while my four-year-old is at school playing, socializing and learning. I have also decided that there will be a compromise. He will go for half days instead of full days, giving us our afternoons for quiet time, exploration time and one on one time. In this way we will find balance. He will get to experience kindergarten, I will have the time to work on my courses that I’ve signed up for and we’ll still have our time together.

My little guy is super excited about starting school. Picked out a new pair of Spider-Man sneakers and asked me if he would get a “boy dress” after he saw all of his sister’s new clothes! His Daddy thinks we should buy him a kilt.

I am super excited too. I will be learning more from the sacred living movement. Currently I’m signed up for Medicine Woman and the Postpartum course, and I will likely be adding a Sacred Essence course which is all about the essence of flowers. I’ve also signed up for another course, The Woman’s Healing Arts Teacher Training, and there’s another course I started back in the spring that I need to get back to and finish. My next three to four months will be bursting full of learning.

Then there’s my writing. I have set myself a goal to be published by “Elephant Journal” before the end of the year (2014). I have one friend from high school who has been incredibly encouraging and she is helping me with editing and the focus of my pieces. The other day she dared me to submit a piece by the end of the day and I did! Then I got my first rejection notice. Oh yes that was disappointing but only for a brief moment. All writers, even the best, have rejection letters and this one wasn’t even a true rejection letter, it was a “we like your piece but it needs some tweaking before we can publish it” letter. So I am taking their advice and re-working it a bit, and hopefully I will be ready to re-submit it soon.

Between my courses, my writing, my long list of books I want to read and even some time to do some crafting, my mornings will be very busy and for the first time in my life I feel like I have a true vision of my future and I am really excited. I have the flutters of butterflies in my stomach when I think of all the ways I can bring healing, connection and abundance to other women in my community and to be able to do it in such a way that I can also support my family. It will be a truly incredible blessing.

Unfortunately as excited as I am to embark on this journey of growth and learning there is a dark side. Choosing to send my son to school is going against every fiber of my soul and I am really hoping I have made the right decision. I really wanted to home school him, or un-school him as the case might be, and having to compromise that ideal is proving emotionally difficult. I think it’s why I’m procrastinating on signing him up because in a way I feel like I’m failing my son by giving into the system. The truth is I am not a failure and I’m not failing my son for making this decision to put my needs first because once I’m finished with the bulk of my education and get my business going, I will be able to re-visit home schooling and by then I will be able to meet the needs of my children far better because I took this time to meet my own needs first.

Feeding my Soul

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2683676764_8ed0b79dbe_bFriday I was in my element! I could cook without worrying about the mess. The party wasn’t at my house. I was just providing the food. So I cooked!

I planned my menu, shopped for missing ingredients, and then concocted, mixed, rolled and poured until I had enough food to feed a small army.

I always make too much.

I go above and beyond because I love to share my love of food as well as my ability to feed people well. Friday I got to do just that.

I made veggie squares, salami rolls, roasted pineapple wrapped in bacon, humus, a four layer dip, cauliflower pizza with marinara sauce, and the pièce de résistance, the chocolate birthday cake, a two layer slwpid-20140523_182940.jpgab cake with Oreo cream cheese icing sandwiched between the two layers which I then iced in milk chocolate icing with Oreo crumbs sprinkled on top. Mmmmm good!

Everything was good!

Oh I dream of a huge kitchen with space to experiment, with elbow room to roll, pound, mix, shape and create food to feed and entertain the souls of my friends and family. Room to make a mess and actually enjoy the mess, instead of feeling like I’m fighting for every inch of usable counter space.

I’ve had friends over on a spur of the moment invitation for brunch and whipped up a feast of waffles, muffins, bacon and sausages.

I love feeding people, and I’m always trying new ideas, experimenting, and creating amazing food to share. The process is inherently artistic as you are taking basics like flour and eggs and turning them into something soul inspiring.

I came home Friday night and I was still in my artistic mode, still feeling incredibly inspired so I pulled out my new beads and sat and played with them, stringing different beads together until I created something beautiful, a flower.

20140526_183906It’s all about creating beauty.

Beauty as food, as a beaded flower, as a poem, and even as the art of loving someone else. Touching them, awakening them, vibrating them. All of this is fuelled from the same creative need to fill the soul with beauty, to connect with a world on a level that is more than trudging through life and making do. It’s about stopping to hear your heart beat, to listen, really listen, to the whispers of your soul and let it free to create something beautiful.

This weekend I did all this and more. My soul stretched its wings and created food, art, words and love. Then I released my creations into the world to connect with the souls of others. This is how life should be lived, how my life should be lived. Sharing, giving, opening up, creating, loving…. If I can base my life on those principles I will find the happiness I am looking for, longing for….

What a rush!

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The words rushed out of my pen. The first page of the letter started awkwardly but as I found my stride the words were just there, unbidden, demanding to come out. It felt so incredibly amazing to write a letter again. It was like the unclogging of an artery. You could almost hear an audible pop as the detritus dislodged and flushed free. I didn’t want to stop, I just wanted to be left alone so the words could flow with uninterrupted glee to dance across the pages and tell my stories. To connect my ideas, my experiences, my dreams, my hopes together as in a beautiful woven necklace of multi-coloured beads. Hoping the words make sense when they are read but not entirely caring. Letters are so much less about making sense as just a free flow of ideas. It’s inspiring, perhaps illogical at times, but definitely inspiring.

After writing that letter I feel like some ideas are making more sense for me now and I have better words to explain myself, to be understood with. Other ideas have become clearer but need to incubate a little longer before they can be born. And some ideas were cast aside as I realized in working through them that they really didn’t make any sense. That’s what writing letters for me is, a mental work-out of epic proportions that puts my ideas through their paces and only the fit survive to be born. The rest are rinsed away with the detritus.

So here’s to a successful first step in my re-kindling of my letter writing habits. Now to choose my second victim (insert evil laugh here)….

“Here I am, Hear My Words”

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1964799_10151887478276618_1939716282_nI sat, quietly chatting with my husband, waiting for the Arcade Fire concert to begin. Lucky to be there courtesy of a last-minute half price ticket sale. My husband and I used to go to concerts a lot before our third child was conceived and my husband embarked on his second round of schooling. I missed the energy of the live shows. I waited impatiently for the main act to start, passing the time checking in with Facebook, discovering who else was at the show.

The opening acts were not really my thing but many enjoyed them. To be honest even the main act, Arcade Fire, I was mostly familiar with their radio releases. I’ve never been a downloader of music, even when it was easier to do, and though I’ve requested their albums, I had never received them. This concert would introduce me to a lot more of their work.

I would not be disappointed.

The show started, the music building in intensity, inviting people in their seats and on the floor to get up and to get ready to move, to be a part of the music. Everyone contributed to the energy of the evening.

The songs had no titles for me. I experienced the music in a raw explosion of emotion. Words, stories, memories, musical notes beating, strumming, ringing and drumming through my soul.

I had to move! I had to dance!

I don’t experience music as just notes and sounds to be appreciated. I experience music as raw energy flowing through me, echoing off my tight, tense stressed-out muscles, resonating through every fiber until the muscles vibrated with a need to move, to stomp my feet, clap my hands, and just move and sway and move…

I felt the muscles in my back resisting and holding tight as I twisted and gyrated but I refused to give in to the pain, to the pent-up anxieties, the rage that pulled my muscles tight. I fought against all the crazy emotions and stresses of everyday living that were stored in the clenched muscles across my shoulders and down my spine.

And I moved!

And it felt amazing!

The experience continued for two hours, two incredible hours. It filled me with inspiration. Ideas to write. I ached to write before time buffed the edges of the memories into soft, fuzzy dreams, reducing the vivid pictures in my head to old worn out black and white photographs.

I want to remember…

To remember how the music made me feel, how I moved and danced like no one was watching (judging?), how the beat tapped into my soul and released emotions fueling my desire (need?) to write, to express myself, to be heard, to be seen in my rawest, aching form.

The music ebbs away and the memories grow rapidly fuzzier, my soul retains the vibrational inspiration to write, to move, to be seen, to scream out,

“Here I am, hear my words!”

and with some luck, someone will hear them and feel the resonating echo of the music and also be inspired….