Cracking Open

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3991345044_b37d8372bb_oMy words often feel scripted to me like I’m playing it safe, holding back, sanitizing them, censoring the gritty emotions. I use words like pain, regret, loss and loneliness but do you even understand what I mean when I use those words? I often wonder if you do and why I hold back?

All I want is to crack open my chest and massage my heart back to life with words so powerful the blood can’t help but pump through my veins with passion, allowing the oxygenated blood to bring the healing salve of forgiveness to a system ravaged by self-inflicted hate, anger and shame.

139136870_4fadd2f255_oI am trying to remember the last time I really cried. I think it was nine years ago. My husband and I were fighting over how to pay the condo levy for the new windows we couldn’t afford.  A failed business, maxed out credit cards and credit counseling had left us backed into a financial corner. We needed help. My husband wouldn’t ask his dad and I was tired of my parents always bailing us out. I went upstairs into the bathroom and looked into the eyes of the woman in the mirror, she was overwhelmed and helpless to support her family.  She let out a scream that came from the bowels of her soul and then collapsed into a sobbing heap, pounding her head and fists against the wall and tiled floor, inflicting pain to feel pain.

My husband tried to get into the bathroom and as he pushed the door open, I pushed back. I didn’t want him to witness my pain, my anger, my tears falling uncontrolled. I just wanted to tear my world apart in peace but he found his way to me and he held me until I calmed down and I put the woman in the mirror back in the mirror.

I don’t remember exactly what happened after I stopped crying but the windows were paid for, split almost 50/50 by our parents, and we avoided a lean against our house. Life went on. My husband has probably filed this moment away under things to forget but for me it was a rare moment of raw, uncontrolled emotions and those are so rare that I remember them and hold them close like cherished mementos.

There’s a line from a song by Three Days Grace, “I’d rather feel pain than nothing at all” and it resonates profoundly with me because most days I walk through life numb. I have trained myself to push back every emotion, good, bad, in-between. I can stop tears from falling to the point that I have almost forgotten how to cry. I can put on a smile when I want to scream, I can play nice when all I want to do is run away. I’m guarded. I hold back, physically and emotionally, from engaging with the world. I’m so good at it many people perceive me as standoff-ish. It’s in remembering the moments of extreme agony, where I lost control of my emotions, that I remember what pain, what love, what feeling feels like and yes, I would rather feel pain than nothing at all.

I am ready to learn to cry again, to let down my guard and let others see my emotions, to let others into my world and simultaneously allow myself to be welcomed into the worlds of others. I am ready to erase the loneliness from my vocabulary and to let my words crack me wide open and fill my veins with life-sustaining prose – one uncensored word after another, an IV tapped directly into my soul, each word releasing a link of the chains I’ve entrapped myself with, slowly allowing me to come alive and live my life unashamed of who I am and her arrays of emotions because it’s okay to hurt, it’s okay to cry, it’s okay to love with abandon.

12640988324_89b56bc2c6_oThere will always be pain but I am ready to process the difficult emotions and let them go instead of giving them the keys to my cell. I am ready to live again, to love again and to let myself experience all my emotions so I can process them and where I am broken, let the salve of love heal the brokenness into a new whole.

Will you bear witness to my healing journey? I ask a lot of you, I know I do. Being present as someone bleeds tears of repressed agony is a huge request to ask of anyone, let alone strangers, but in the witnessing and the speaking aloud there is power. The feeling of hands laid upon your soul holding you up so you don’t drown, reminding you to breathe when you forget to, reminding you of your beauty when you feel ugly, and reminding you to look up and see the light that surrounds you, that is power and we all have that power. I am asking, are you ready, willing and able to use your power and bear witness to my cracking open?

Say yes if you are….

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I Am Ready!

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14948052391_ddb365bc4d_oI am ready to be who I was always meant to be. To let go of the pain that holds me prisoner in my past, present and future. A prisoner to a story that I’ve relied on to define me, the story of being out of control of all the shitty things I’ve been through and letting those definitions be my calling card in my present and future. Those crazy, out of control, painful events happened to me, and yes they did shape the course of my life, but they are not who I am.

I am ready to shake the mantle of descriptors like depressed, lonely, uneducated, teen mom, loner and to open myself to immeasurable possibilities and beauty that exist in the world. To take the hands of those willing to teach, to support, to listen and to help me as I learn to trust my instincts and take these steps forward into a future life that will bring everything I need; abundance, love, family and blessings beyond count.

2014 brought me to the water and in 2015 I will drink deeply from the source and redefine my life. It will be an intense process of shedding an old weary skin and filling out the new skin as I learn to wear it comfortably.

What does that mean exactly? Well I’m not 100% sure yet, I’m still in the very early stages of the process but one thing I am sure of is 2014 brought me the teachers I need: Anni and Tim Daulter, Carrie, Gillian and Jennifer. In 2014 I began to learn a lot of release techniques, and I have been exploring paganism and Wiccan traditions, traditions that have always intrigued me but with my religious upbringing was slow to investigate. The biggest revelation I’ve had since delving into these traditions is that my religious beliefs are not at odds with the more earthy and grounded beliefs of the Pagans and Wiccans. I can find my niche and embrace the best of everything that works for me.

In 2015 I’m going to delve deeper into crystal energy, Reiki healing, psychic awareness, and learn more about the earth centered traditions so I can more thoroughly adopt them into my day-to-day living practices. And most importantly I am going to document this journey on my blog, so please join me as I embark on these new adventures in 2015.

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Making Love

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IMG_20141206_154515“I love making love to you and how you make love to me.”

Society’s interpretation of this statement is usually sexual. If that was the case for you, I am inviting you to read the words again and re-think your first interpretation. While sexual love is amazing, it’s not the only way to love someone deeply, beautifully and with conviction. Those words can and should be defined differently for every couple, and the meaning can evolve and grow through the cycles of our lives. In a dynamic, healthy relationship those words are alive and I will share with you what they mean to me in my relationship at this moment in its growth cycle.

They mean a pilgrimage to Paris. They represent my husband’s willingness to get on an airplane, despite his fear of flying, and meet me in a very vulnerable place, with an openness to facing and working on our relationship with people he had never met.

My husband makes love to me through a willingness to sit and hear my words and be open to change, and to loving me in a different way going forward, even if it’s something outside his comfort zone and even if it means making difficult compromises.IMG_64244612633576

In Paris we rediscovered our love and passion for each other and we built the foundation on which the rest of our lives will be supported. My husband showed up to do the hard work, to name our sorrows, our frustrations and our pain and in naming them, we have taken their strength away. We have released them into the Universe to make more room for love.

Making love to my husband is about listening to him when he talks, really hearing his words. It’s about finding time for laughter and fun and kissing every day, and reminding him to let things go that are no longer serving him. It’s also about giving him space to heal his own wounds and find his own forgiveness, but reminding him that throughout his journey, he is loved deeply and unconditionally. My arms and my heart will be open and ready to love him wherever he is in his process.

Paris gave us the space and the time we needed to hear each others love languages and to work out better ways to make love to each other that will be heard and understood. The more we live our lives out as if everything we do for each other is an act of making love to one another, the more connection and beauty and happiness we will find in life, in our family and in each other.

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Bringing down the Wall

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5104664684_54c2cc0beb_oI stood and let her waft the sage over me, cleansing and preparing me. I closed my eyes and breathed in deeply the earthy scent, asking my body, my mind and my heart to open to the gifts she was offering me.

We had sat and discussed life and expectations and crystals. She is as much teacher as healer. I’m trying to hold on to all the knowledge she has given me, but some of the experience still swirls around in my head as my subconscious  and conscious work through processing it all.

These words are part of my processing, even now I’m not exactly sure what my pen will say or how it will interpret, and I’m trying to just let myself open to the natural flow and let my pen tell me my story. It may not come all at once. She told me the healing continues for 2-3 days so perhaps over that time my pen will have new stories to tell me that it wasn’t ready to delve into and explore at this moment.

I am going to try to find some time for meditation over the next little while. I feel called to make space for that, and to make time for my pen to talk to me, to help make clear the fuzziness, or just to open the paths for me to a place where I can start to find peace and healing.

Twenty years of pain is not washed away in a few of hours spent in the skilled hands of a Reiki practitioner but today was another big step in my healing path.

2379996296_12f3e8e9e0_oShe felt my wall. As she ran her hands over me and felt my energy, she encountered a massive, all-encompassing heaviness. As she was describing it to me I recognized my wall. It is a wall I’ve built around me to keep everyone out, to protect myself from more pain, to distance myself from meeting new people for fear of them seeing my shame, my guilt, and judging me unworthy, in turn creating more pain. Such a vicious loop that just solidifies my fortifications.

Her words filled me with love and hope. “You need to work on taking the wall down, or at least removing a few bricks so that we can help you.”

Those words were comforting and beautiful. My wall was seen and felt and recognized. Most of the time I feel invisible because of my wall, and my wall is invisible because I keep it that way. My wall is my camouflage. I project on to it what I want people to see. Taking it down will be hard because it means allowing people to see me as I am, no artifices or dressing up, just vulnerable and naked and scarred.

Many people will not be comfortable with what they will see when the wall comes down. Some will grab the bricks and mortar and beg me to put the wall back up because dealing with my vulnerability and pain will force them to face their own and it’s hard work to face your vulnerability and pain. If I refuse to rebuild my wall and make them comfortable, several fall outs are possible. Some may pick up the pieces of my wall and hurl them at me in anger, others may pull away and quietly disappear but the ones that I choose to focus on are the ones that extend me a helping hand to pull the wall down so my light can shine, so my pain is seen, recognized and allowed to heal in the safety of their presence, and what chooses to grow in the wall’s place will be nourished by the love and support of the people brave enough to see me for everything that I am, the dark and the light of me.

It’s a constant process. Every day it’s getting up and looking into my pain, my past, my present and future and weighing every decision based on love and openness and being willing to put down the bricks and mortar so at the very least I’m not building my wall any higher or wider. Some days if that’s all I manage, it’s still a victory. The wall may not be any smaller but it didn’t get any bigger either.

My Reiki practitioner gave me such a gift when she saw my wall. To be seen in my pain and vulnerability, to have space held for my weaknesses and to be asked to step out from behind the wall and shine despite whatever burdens I carry, is a huge gift and I thank her for that. I don’t feel so invisible any more and that’s an empowering feeling. It gives me strength to face my journey knowing that my pain, my past, and my worthiness has been seen and accepted by another. It is a validating moment and sometimes validation is exactly what we need to give us the strength to fly.

My wings are ready. Maybe I won’t break my wall down, maybe I’ll climb up to the top of it and jump off, spread my wings and learn to fly. Maybe that’s why I have spent all this time building it so high…

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A Dozen Roses

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3293365635_689005da3f_oShe brought me roses again.

It was my Mother-in-law’s tradition. Every Mother’s Day weekend I would always find a white box tucked in our front door delivered by the Kiwanis Club of Ottawa.

I loved those roses. They were a thank you, a connection of love from one mother to another, a reminder I was good enough. Good enough as the wife of her oldest son, as the mother of her grandchildren and as the daughter she never had the opportunity to birth herself.

My Mother-in-law left us nearly ten years ago after a six-year victory run with end stage breast cancer. She lived with grace in pain and with love in life. Her strength of spirit was immense and it infected every part of her life and it conquered her cancer.  It wasn’t her cancer that killed her, at least not directly. After six years she was getting tired and it was time to move on. The Good Lord came for her and even to her last she didn’t go without a fight.

She fell trying to get out of bed. She got caught in the blankets and fell to the floor, the phone tumbling out of her reach, preventing her from calling for help. She lay there for a while until her husband came home from work and she was rushed to hospital where she went in for emergency surgery to repair her broken leg. Unfortunately a couple of days later she developed a blood clot in her lungs.

We stood around her bed, holding her, loving her and, albeit reluctantly, making space to let her go, making it okay for her to move on to her next phase. The emotions in the room were thick, pain, love, grief, loss, colliding in a kaleidoscope of intentions, each of us needing to be held in our own way. That is a moment etched in my heart and sealed with burning tears. I remember the closeness of the room, the people pressed in close, the desire to run away from the pain but not being able to let go. Our lives would never be the same again…

She passed just before Mother’s Day 2005. The first time the roses were not in the door was a shock to my system, it was the cosmos reminding me she was gone and I would never receive my roses again. Each year on Mother’s Day I think of my roses and there is an empty vase that will not get brought out to be filled with them.

Friday she brought me my roses again and she filled my vase with love and hope and affirmation.

I lay on the Reiki table, my friend passing her hands over me and she saw the image, it came to her as she was close to my heart and passing on my right side. A pious woman with a veil holding a bouquet of roses.

It was my Mother-in-law and it was her way of saying she is still with me, still loving me, and is still looking out for me and my family. She brought me the roses to remind me I am more than enough for all I need to be and do in this world, I just have to remember and own my inner strength and beauty.

I’m trying to. Every day I’m working on remembering the love she carried for us and still does. She is everywhere around us. My youngest has never known her alive and yet when he sees her picture he has told us he knows her, he’s seen her, at her house. I believe she has visited him during one of our visits to see Grandpa.

I’m opening myself up to the comfort of her embrace and accepting the gift of her roses into my life and sharing the gift with my family so that we all might heal from our grief. Next spring it will be ten years since she left us in body but her spirit has never left us. We must all open ourselves up to the gifts she continues to bring us whenever we need them most.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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Remembering….

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SP 106 WMSitting in the tub, the water too warm, my skin perspiring from the steam that wisps across the surface. The music carries me, the words touching a place I’ve not taken the time to look into for a while. The candles flicker casting friendly shadows around me and the mix of salts and energies float in the water that holds me. Rose petals, shells, dried leaves, bits of US money, the scents of various essential oils, individually unrecognizable in their mixing but together they are the scent of my retreat in August.

The memories of new friends, of peace and quiet in a beautiful house, of sitting and listening to the world around me and connecting with myself again. There in that peaceful place I could hear the voice in my head that the world around me had drowned out for way too long.

Then I came home and I tried desperately to hold on to my intentions, the peace, the love, the connections but in the craziness of my real world, I was very overwhelmed and struggling to find my center within my own inner peace that for such a brief moment in August I had found.

It was really hard to come home, even as much as I had missed my family, I had missed me even longer and I was afraid of losing her again.

So here I sit in my bath surrounded by the energies of my friends’ intentions which they had cast into the salts and I let them embrace me with their strength. It reminded me of my own intentions cast that day as we sat in circle, holding space for each women to open their heart and fill the bowl with words and offerings of love and need and desire. Babies, new beginnings, strength to make difficult decisions, honouring new connections, finding space for our dreams in a chaotic world that tries to snuff them out, and for abundance in personal and business lives. The requests were as varied as the women and as universal as womanhood and motherhood.

The fundamental intention I brought away from the retreat with me was my need for change. Change in my relationship with my husband most of all but change in general too. I am tired of being sick, I am tired of being tired, I am tired of feeling like my life is out of control and I am powerless to change things. I have worked on making some of those changes but it’s a slow process and part of it is accepting that I can only control myself. Change starts with me.

Perhaps even more importantly though than recognizing my need for change because I’ve known for a long time that change was necessary, I had just been struggling with finding my way, was that I found the strength within myself to stand up and believe that I am worthy of the effort to make those changes. I had diluted and deluded myself into believing that I didn’t matter, that I wasn’t worth my effort or the effort of others and the needs of others were more important than my own but I was wrong.

I truly am worthy. Worthy of being loved and loving myself and everything else branches out from believing in my worth: respect, acceptance, self-care, etc… I am worthy of all of these gifts and they are worth fighting for.

Of course I have to get out of the tub first…..

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Love is Not a Mistake

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wpid-wp-1413783567264.jpegI have made many mistakes. Many of those mistakes have in return fundamentally changed who I am.

Motherhood started out as a mistake, a responsibility thrust into my young arms that felt too weak to bear the weight. I made so many mistakes but my son was not one of them. He was a gift. A gift I just wasn’t quite ready to receive or fully appreciate. As a result I fumbled around the world of motherhood very lost and distrustful of my instincts. How could I know anything? How could I possibly get anything right?

But I did get one thing right.

Love.

I just forgot sometimes….

Even early on in my pregnancy when my son’s biological father was encouraging me to “get an abortion”, I chose life for my unborn child. I walked out into the world and looked into the eyes of the people around me and wondered why they had any more right to life than my child did?

In that moment I chose love.

I didn’t even recognize it as love until I looked into my son’s eyes and finally met him in the quiet of the hospital room after everyone had gone home. When the nurse came to get him after his feed and I asked her to leave him with me for a while so I could really meet him, fall in love with him, just hold him and smell his beautiful smell. I didn’t want to send him back to the nursery. He was mine and I loved him.

Love didn’t pave our path with bricks of gold or lay pillows on the ground to cushion us when we stumbled and many times we lost the path completely. Loving someone is hard and it is work and it is staying when you want to run and learning from and apologizing for mistakes and most of all its forgiveness when forgiveness seems impossible.

I wear layers upon layers of bruises from all the mistakes I’ve made in the last eighteen years of motherhood. I don’t doubt my son has his own layers of bruising. Sometimes it doesn’t seem fair that my introduction to motherhood and his introduction to the world had to come with such painful lessons. The effects of those lessons still ripple through our lives and we’re trying to find forgiveness in a chaos that seems unyielding to any efforts at finding peace. Even in the good moments anger breaks through and smashes the fragility of the bubble that is encapsulating the laughter and connecting fibers being forged by our moment of happiness. As the bubble disperses it is like our world is exploding and though I try to keep it together as with the thin film of a bubble when it pops, it disappears like it was never there and we find ourselves yet again staring across a painful abyss filled with blame, repercussions, anger and resentments.

Many tell me they would have given up on my son by now, that it’s time for some tough love, “let him learn his lessons the hard way” they say. It feels like he’s learned too many lessons the hard way. Moments where I ignored my instincts, made uneducated choices, gave into pressure to follow society’s ideas and notions, or failed to ask for or find help or apologize when I should have or hold my temper when my depression was raging out of control and the pressures of meeting the outside world’s demands trumped meeting my son’s need for love, like the day I lost my cool because he was struggling to practice French dictation words and I screamed out in frustration and smashed my head into the wall leaving a hole in the drywall. Then there were tears and broken spirits and emotional bruises as we tried to pick up the pieces.

I had no idea what I was doing. What I should have done was let the dictation go and pull him into my arms and hold him and tell him it was okay, the dictation didn’t matter, I loved him and would help him. The pressures of meeting the demands of the teacher, the school system, the expectations of society in general that were labeling him a problem child overwhelmed me. I just wanted to prove them all wrong.

They were wrong. They are wrong. I never had to prove them wrong because there was nothing to prove. Love was more important than all that, but I didn’t understand that then.

I do now.

And I’m sorry.

Sorry doesn’t fix the broken walls or broken spirits. That takes work, a lot of painful, slogging through mud and emotional trenches work, not to mention the willingness to dive head first into the trenches and face the demons of the past, the demons of our emotions and behaviours that created the abyss I find myself staring across into the blue eyes of a soul so broken he hides from me in his video games where he finds an outlet for his pain and anger by blowing things and other characters/people up. His video game world is safer than the real world and it was my mistakes that drove him into that world because I forgot that love is more important than anything, than video games, or toys, or money, or meeting society’s expectations, or getting our way and insisting on showing him who’s in charge and that we can make him do what we want him to do regardless of his own will and desires – an illusion of power at best.

After eighteen years I’m trying to hold the memory of looking into the trusting eyes of the seven and a half pound child laid in my arms by a twist of fate he had no control over, and remember the overwhelming waves of love I felt and my need to hold him close and protect him. If only I had spent more time listening to that instinct like when he had night terrors and I sat next to him singing “Jesus Loves You” over and over, drawing him out of the terror with my soothing voice that had rocked him to sleep so many times.

Now my soul is doing the singing, calling to my son to remember the moments in the chaos where love conquered the fear and anger, to remember the love that holds him and surrounds him no matter what because society is wrong and I was wrong. He is amazing and wonderful and talented. He may not fit into the mold society wants him to but it just means he thinks different, he sees the world around him in a different light and somehow he will make it work for him, despite society trying very hard to stuff him in a box and get him to “get in line”.

It will take time, patience, healing and most of all it will take love. That’s my commitment going forward, I will radiate, enclose him and even smother him in love, until the raw wounds become aching scabs, then itchy scars and with some luck at some point even the scars will fade to a barely visible lightness, and we will find our peace, rebuilt upon a solid foundation of love. The scars may never disappear but some day I want the memories to be faint whispers of by-gone stories instead of festering wounds filling an abyss that separates us.

I’m ready  to let love build us a bridge over the abyss. I am ready to heal. I’m ready to do the hard work. I’m ready to forgive myself and let my mistakes go and I am hoping that my son can eventually forgive me too, and help me build that bridge. Surrender the future to love and we will find our way, the path will meet us where we are and if we stay true to love, it’ll show us the way forward.

To my son: you are the child that made me a mother and I will always love you and that isn’t and never was a mistake.

 

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