Heart break and healing

This blog originally started as a dating blog. It morphed into a relationship blog and is now mostly a blog on my personal life and my adventures in sports psychology.

I haven’t spoken of the relationship I was in, in some shape or form, for eight years in a long time. I’ve kept that part of my life private after exposing some of it here with not so great results.

I’m choosing to talk about it today because it’s been affecting me and has caused my silence here. We are no longer together, nor do we have any contact anymore, however, the night before Valentine’s Day a call from him sent me into a tail spin that lasted for two weeks.

I made the decision back in November that we couldn’t be friends anymore because I wasn’t strong enough not to be affected by him or to slide right back into a relationship and lose myself again as I’ve done time and again over the years.

I grew up in alcoholism and one of the side effects resulted in me being a very good codependent. I’m in recovery now and am learning to be my own person through program.

It’s easy for me to turn myself inside out to please a man. I’m a great chameleon, I’ll be whatever you want or need me to be. I’ll throw myself under the bus to make you happy. Whatever activities I enjoy will slowly disappear and I’ll stop seeing my friends. It’ll be all about you and I to the exclusion of everything else. I’ll look to you to make me happy. Not very healthy is it? Well that was me.

I’m happy to say I’ve changed but it’s still very easy for me to slip into old ways of thinking and behaving. I’ll be in program for the rest of my life as a result. It’s the only way for me to be the best version of myself.

Eight years. Eight. Years.

It’s a long time to be with someone as a partner or friend. We raised his daughter together. Being her step mom is the single best thing I’ve ever done with my life and I’m so very grateful for the opportunity.

I tell a brief version of our story in the rooms of my program when I am asked to speak. It goes something like this. We were both adult children of alcoholics and neither one of us were in program at the time. We both had trust and commitment issues and it was drama all the time. We tried so hard to make it work. I grew up with a mom who stood by my dad no matter what so that’s what I did.

So many people tried to reason with us, including our families, to try and make us see the light but we were stubbornly trying to make something work that just couldn’t.

I was watching a series on Netflix last night. One of the characters said something about a love so intense yet bringing out the worse in each other. I teared up because that was us. Love was never the issue between us, we were.

I thought I had grieved when things ended between us in November. I went around in an unconscious miserable coma for weeks. I’d go to work. Come home, cry, go to bed and start all over the next day. Then all of a sudden the fog lifted and I started feeling moments of happiness and peace.

Then after three months of silence, I got a three minute phone call from him inviting me on a ski trip. As soon as I hung up, I burst into tears and called my sponsor. I cried for three days. The depth of my emotion scared me. I had no idea where all this sadness was coming from. Turns out I wasn’t done grieving.

I turned to old coping mechanisms and became a little hermit. I hid in bed and did what I needed to get by. I did make it out to program meetings but I was a shell of my former self. It took time but I’m happy to say I’m back.

I’ve come to realize an eight year relationship isn’t something I’m going to get over quickly. It’s going to take time to heal and that’s alright. Program has taught me I am right where I need to be. Dating other men in the interim isn’t the solution either. It’s a good codependent idea but not a very viable one. Besides which, until I’ve sorted myself out, what good am I to anyone else?

So I sit here with a smile on my face, knowing I’m doing better emotionally and that lightness always comes after darkness.

 

 

Recovery

Where to begin?

This is the most honest, soul bearing post I have yet to write.

My parents have come and gone on their annual visit. For most, this is likely a happy event. Not so much for me.

You see I grew up in alcoholism.

In a high functioning family, very driven and accomplished. From the outside everything looked good. On the inside, not so much.

I knew from a very young age that something was very wrong.

I won’t go into details here but suffice it to say that it’s a miracle I’m still here. What I have been through and then later in life, done to myself is horrific, painful and sad.

I’m a grateful member of Al-Anon. It’s a 12 step program for families and friends of alcoholics. I’ll be in recovery for the rest of my life because I know how dangerous it is to stray away from the fold, my program and my sponsor.

I had a slip this winter. I went back to old coping mechanisms and come spring realized the power of my self-destruction. I rarely do things in half measures. It’s a hallmark of this dis-ease.

I’m picking up the pieces now yet again.

I thought when I had walked through the doors of Al-Anon three years ago that I had hit rock bottom. Little did I know that I would be hitting several more rock bottoms. The fellowship and my program saw me through all these moments.

I’m there once again. I’m slowly coming out of it.

I’m heading off to a treatment program for codependency and family of origin issues. I’ve been in therapy in some shape or form for a large part of my life and from a very young age.

I believe in the healing power of therapy and especially group therapy. There’s something magical that happens when strangers come together and listen to each other’s stories and pain. There’s validation that I’m not crazy. That I’m simply a spiritual being living a human existence. As we all are.

There’s a letting go. A normalization happens. Secrets come out. Monsters fade away. Light is shed on the most painful topics of this very human existence we all share.

There is laughter and tears. Joy and pain. Exhilaration and suffering.

This is a great big gift and a reminder to place the focus on me and my healing.

I’d like to say that the visit I had with my parents was a good one. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. There were a lot of good parts, however, there were some truly awful pieces that have left me gutted and gasping for air.

The level of denial, manipulation, control and abuse in my family is staggering.

I feel like a martian because I’m the only one in recovery.

I have yet to find the gratitude that others in the fellowship have for the disease of alcoholism because all I can see is what it’s taken from my family and my life.

I hate the disease. I’ve been ripped open again by it and I despise it. I hate the toll it’s taken on my parents, my brother and our estranged family.

My friends see courage and strength when they look at me. Right now I’m a mess as I type these words. All I can do is breathe.

All I can do is go back to basics and practice self-care. Sleep has been elusive again and I know that doesn’t help whatsoever. It makes things so much worse.

I’m trying really hard not to isolate and hide. I’m bumping up my meetings, making sure I get exercise, eat well and get out. I connect with my sponsors and touch stones and I am working the snot out of my program right now.

It’s all I can do until this heaviness lifts and lightness comes back.

I was reminded in readings today to act as if, to stick to a routine until it becomes more comfortable and normal again. Whatever normal is.

It’s huge to share this piece of me so publicly. This dis-ease has impacted every facet of my life and my business.

It is my greatest hope that as I progress through the step work that things somehow become easier. That there are less roller coaster rides, huge highs and devastating lows. Less darkness and much, much more light.

In sharing this story, I hope to impact others’ lives in some small way.

I hesitate to push the publish button.

Please be kind.

Thank you.

 

 

Courage

Courage. What does it mean to you?

I’ve been told lately that I’m courageous. I take risks by opening up, being honest and expressing my feelings.

It takes courage to change. Courage to walk a path that requires surrender, faith, and work, with the hope that I’ll shift. That life will unfold differently for me.

I’ve often had the courage to change. I’m curious about the world and people. I enjoy personal development and growth. I believe in the best in people and in change. I also know you have to be ready and willing.

I’ve been dealing with a lot of profound change recently and along with it, grief. I’m grieving many endings and have faith acceptance will come in its own time. If there’s one thing I know, my will won’t make it happen faster and I cannot control when the process is complete. It’s a journey and I trust things will fall into place and all will be well.

When the emotions come, I allow them to surface and release them. I don’t stuff them, overanalyze them or deny them. They are part of the process. Tears are healing.

I was crying uncontrollably the other day. A dam had burst and with it the floodgates opened. I allowed myself to cry, to feel and to let go.

Not knowing what to do with myself after a while, I decided to go for a hike. To use my body to process my emotions, release them and reconnect to my self through nature.

The hike was intense. Up an escarpment. At the beginning of the trail I jogged down the steps and up the hill and quickly found myself out of breath. I came to a first set of falls. I took a moment to stop, take a picture and catch my breath.

I continued along the path and was soon stepping from rock to rock. My heart pumping and my lungs acting like a bellows. I took breaks admiring the beauty around me.

I arrived at the first lookout and kept going to the second lookout. I could see far over the fields to the river and beyond. The view was breathtakingly beautiful.

As I continued I came to the stream that fed the falls, I was able to stop for a drink. I pushed on and climbed some more. More rocky steps and signage indicating I was less than halfway.

Still I climbed until I felt I had achieved what I came to do. Due to time limitations I turned back. The descent even sweeter than the climb. Taking the time to get a drink of water, to take pictures and breathe in the beauty surrounding me.

At the end of the trail I felt triumphant. I had the courage to take on a really hard climb. I did not try to make it all the way to the top, instead I enjoyed my journey. Rested, drank and appreciated the beauty around me.

Very much like a metaphor for life isn’t it?

Recovery

Again it’s been a while since I’ve written, I know I say that every time. 

My blog doesn’t judge me, doesn’t hold a grudge and I’m pretty sure it’s happy when I visit 🙂

My silence can be attributed to a serious injury and recovery.  I had a really bad ski accident at the end of December.  Turns out I’ve severed my achilles so I’m out for the season and am told it will take a full year to recover.

For a type A, go getter, who wanted it all yesterday kind of girl it’s been a really humbling experience to put it mildly. 

I was in denial for a solid 5 weeks until I saw the orthopedic surgeon who promptly declared, after performing a small test, that my achilles was indeed severed. Then the tears came and with it the grief.  The loss of a ski season certainly but also a loss of identity.

You see my whole identity is wrapped up in being an athlete.  As someone near and dear said my soul lives for winter and the fun I can have on the slopes.

So I went through all 5 stages of the grieving process.  I hid in bed for weeks.  I’m pretty much housebound in a walking cast and since it’s my right leg, I can no longer drive.

So I’ve become very dependent on my partner, friends and neighbors for errands.  I have at least another 8 weeks in the walking cast so my freedom won’t come anytime soon.

I’ve learned so many lessons.  Years ago I learned to ask for help.  I’ve had to relearn that one in spades.

As a girl friend, who was laid up with an injury for the major part of year, said an injury happens for a reason and shifts things.  Boy did it ever.  My life and my relationship have taken direct hits.

My heart goes out to my partner who has been a great support throughout this process.  He was on the receiving end of the my anger, sadness and melancholy.

As for me, I’ve started rehabilitation and have come out of the heavy cloud of grief.  As spring approaches, I can appreciate the sounds of birds, the warmth of the sun when I sit on the bench on my doorstep and the coolness of the air.

Small joys.

Presence

Presence.  A simple word, a much more difficult concept.  I’ve blogged about being present before.  A friend commented on a previous post and said it was time I left the past.  It’s gotten me thinking.

I’m with a good man.  He’s exactly what my soul needs at this moment.  He and I had met briefly prior to my relationship.  It was a happy accident that I sat with a whole weekend off in front of me yesterday wondering what I was going to do with myself when I messaged him.  We hadn’t chatted since the previous split with my former partner.  He invited me up to his place on the Big Rideau.  More beauty, more kindness and more care than I think I deserve, horrible self defeating thought, but it’s where I’m at.

I’m challenged with staying present with him.  The grief I feel is written all over my face, at any moment I lose it and the waves come.  He just stops what he’s doing, holds me and tells me it’s going to be alright.  That time heals, that I need to let go, that the man I was with does not deserve this much space or attention or pain.  I get all this at a head level, I do, but my heart oh my heart.  It feels like it’s been split, shattered into a thousand pieces, I feel adrift, lost and it’s all I can do to come back and stay present.

I want to be present, to stay grounded, calm, and peaceful.  I also want to release whatever is being worked out in me, I want it out.  Every last bit of it so I can move on.  So I can make better choices and attract the kind of happiness I so richly deserve.

Emotional hang over

I’m exhausted.  Not sure if it’s because I’ve been working my ass off at my new job literally and figuratively or because I’m in the midst of grieving.  I slept in today on my day off.  I fully intended to go skiing, instead, my bed held me captive or rather I chose to stay firmly within its warm embrace.  Every day in the past week I’ve woken up feeling spent, tired from the bouts of crying.  Tears must really take a toll on the body, even now, despite all the sleep or maybe because of it, I’m tired.  Beyond tired, I feel emotionally hung over.

I’ve been playing with the feeling of being emotionally hung over all week and it resonates on many levels.  I am grieving heart break.  It’s happened more times than I can count with him.  It doesn’t make it any less painful or sad.  I’m glad I’m out of the pattern we created together, however, there is a mourning which is part of the process obviously.  I’ve come to learn how important it is to honor and allow my feelings to show up.  I want this sadness out of me but I know I’m exactly where I need to be and I can’t rush the process.

In the meantime I’m taking care of myself.  Reaching out to friends when I need to.  Isolating when I need to do that too.  I feel grounded and peaceful.  Appreciating and enjoying the smiles and lightness when they come too, there are blessedly more and more of those moments.

Sundays

I’m seeing a pattern emerge on Sundays.  Sundays are my day off, so when I wake up my thoughts automatically seem to drift to where I’d be if I was still in relationship.  At the chalet with him, a day of skiing ahead of us to look forward to.  Inevitably sadness comes, and with it a sense of loss.  Yesterday I got up, did my meditation, went for a walk and then on to brunch with friends.

I guess the Sunday pattern was biding its time because sadness hit on the drive home when a song came on the radio, all of a sudden great tears were running down my cheeks and grief washed over me.  I’ve learned to allow my feelings to rise up, and to stay present  to them knowing eventually they will pass.  Stuffing them does not work, they just come back in more insidious ways.  I go back to basics when emotions hit.  Yesterday I got myself home, made myself a cup of tea, reached out to a friend and sat out in the sunshine with a book. 

There is an energy to Sundays I am not sure I like, I will go with it for now, allowing whatever comes up to come up as I am sure it’s part of the process.  Once I’m ready I intend to shift Sunday energy to more positive, hopeful and peaceful places.