Suffering

Don Miguel Ruiz’s Four Agreements sit in front of me.

The second agreement is not to take anything personally.

Nothing others do is because of you. What others say or do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. Finally, when you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

I have been suffering. Tremendously.

What do you do when a parent, a loved one, someone you’re supposed to trust volleys words at you that hurt and cause pain? How do you recover from something like that?

I am not thick skinned. I am a sensitive. A big empath with a big heart.

Right now my heart is hurting. I know the suffering is self-induced but I can’t get the words out of my head.

Today I was listening to a documentary. The final words of the piece hit me like a giant wave. It was about being a good person despite bad circumstances. It was about forgiveness and hope.

It was all I could to hold myself while the tears came. Wave after wave of pain, crashing through me. I cried like a dam broke. There is this fear that comes with that level of emotion: “What if I won’t be able to stop?”

Counselors in the past have assured me that I’ll come through it. That my body will allow what is necessary to come up and out.

I’m still emoting.

I started a meditation class a week ago. I walked out of the class knowing there was no way I could come back. At least not right now. The teacher spoke of suffering, of Buddhist principles of non attachment. It was too much. I felt worse. I just could not handle that level of truth in this moment.

I am working one of the toughest steps of my program right now. I am writing on resentments. I get physically ill sometimes from the writing. My levels of frustration, perfection and rejection at the words I am writing come out full bore and manifest in my body. I get headaches that develop into migraines. Nausea and feeling like I’m going to throw up.

I know it’s better out than in but it’s like a Pandora’s Box. All these things that I’ve kept hidden are coming out and I’m shocked at how emotional I get despite so much time passing since the events happened.

I pray for the courage and the strength to pick up the pen and write every day. To see the words appear on paper, to get them out of my head and heart and to allow them to occupy space on a blank page.

One of my readings today spoke about the presumption of being good enough, worthy enough and lovable enough. That I am exactly the right kind of person, in the right place, at the right time.

I never grew up with that message. In fact, it was just the opposite.

It’s up to me to learn it, to voice it and live it.

 

 

 

 

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?

New year, new shift

Well it’s again been a while since I’ve written.

My absence can be explained, in part, by the fact I went back to work. In true Natalie fashion, I went big and did not go home. The Universe blessed me with two wonderful job opportunities within days of each other. I enjoyed both so I went from working in my business from home to working six days a week.

Whoah! Big adjustment.

I love retail. Sales has got to be the toughest job but so rewarding because you get to make people happy. I was fortunate enough to find a job with Twiss and Weber, a fantastic local duo who design and create their own line. They are cutting edge and showcase a lot of local Canadian made designers. Their motto is “Take command of your own style.” They do it with flair. I believe in their dream and am honored to be a part of their team. Their style can be characterized by what would Joan Jett wear to a job interview?

The other job is in communications for a huge financial management transformation project. A complex, multi-year, billion dollar initiative to transform the way the government of Canada conducts its business by bringing value to Canadians and better informed decisions benefitting everyone.

Wonderful opportunities.

I went full speed ahead for two months and hit the wall in December. I had a wisdom tooth removed, hopefully I did not lose wisdom with it. All kidding aside, I realized how much I had on my plate when I stopped. I started clearing, bit by bit I removed items and the Universe helped. My retail boss gave me a seasonal break to focus on my contract and skiing after I missed the busiest Saturday of the year right before Christmas.

Part of my new shift is to honor my commitments. It was my partner who helped me see that being alone on a sales floor after surgery was probably not a good idea and a liability. Shortly thereafter I was removed from the schedule. I panicked. Oh no! I’m being let go. The itty bitty shitty committee took over once again. Instead of walking away with my tail between my legs I went to see my boss and asked what was going on. I think I asked her at least three times if I was being fired. This has happened in the past you see.

Prior to these events I found out on Friday the 13th I wasn’t going to get renewed in January due to lack of funding. Old Natalie would have again slinked away. I fought. Hard.

I went to the top of the food chain and plead my case. They needed to capitalize on their investment and I was just starting to get my legs under me. Meanwhile I leveraged every other contact I had within the organization. I busted my butt to be renewed. A first for me in any governement contract I’ve ever done. Ever.

So here I sit. I’ve shifted. In both my professional life and my personal one but that’s a topic for next time.

How about you? Have you experienced shifts lately? What were the outcomes? I’d love to hear from you so weigh in the comments below.

All my best to a healthy, peaceful and successful year ahead. Keep shifting!

Remembering

I lost a best friend 2 years ago, this post is in his honor.

James I want you to know I spent the day you died doing what I love.  I worked in the morning on my burgeoning business and had a great afternoon running in the woods.  I also went back to painting in studio that night after a year long hiatus.

My partner gave me an idea to remember you by.  I think I’m going to plant a tree.  I know you’d like that, we spent lots of time together surrounded by them and the peace they brought.  We now have a home and I can do this to honor your memory.

I miss you.  I talk to you on my walks sometimes.  I cry, share and inevitably smile. You had that effect on me and still do.  I know you’d want me to be happy and to remember to play. 

I try and remember to play.  It’s easy with an eight year old.  My partner and I are doing a better job of playing too.  Date nights, laughing and playing with his daughter.  Life is good.

I want you to know I carry your spirit wherever I go. I know you’re looking out for me and laughing at me up there.  I need to do a better job of laughing at myself.

Thank you my friend for your love, the lessons you taught me and the impact you still have on my life.

You may be gone but most definitely not forgotten.

I love you.

 

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.

Resurfacing

It’s been two weeks since I wrote.  I have needed the time to process.  A lot has changed since then, for the better.

Where to begin?  I feel as though an incredible weight has lifted.  I think it took me a while to achieve critical mass and to get where I needed to be.  It’s fair to say men distract me.  Well the distraction is over and it’s nice to be back to me and to focus on what it is I want.

I’m an enabler, which has both positive and negative connotations.  I’ve studied sports psychology and possess a host of tools to help people bring out the best in themselves.  In certain circumstances, however, it’s fair to say I can also bring out the worst, mostly by choice.  Because of the environment I grew up in and depending on the circumstances I find myself in I can attract wounded people.  I did just that in this case.  I guess I needed to learn the lesson, it cost me much but when we fell apart horrifically last Friday, I was finally ready to call it quits for good.

I can’t believe I was in a relationship where I allowed all sorts of behaviors to happen and stood by while verbal abuse was hurled in my direction.  He doesn’t see it that way but when you grow up in it and don’t do the work to recognize it how can you?  He is a good person despite what happened, I wouldn’t have invested a year with someone who wasn’t.  In the end, this part of me kept protecting myself, wary, not trusting, not buying in to his words or his plans, watching and waiting. 

I kept asking myself what I was willing to live with, too much kept adding up.  Someone who sleeps far too much, who doesn’t look after their health, who is terrible with money.  I didn’t want to be in the position of being the adult.  I get all those behaviors, I do, they remind me of old me.  In the end I shouldn’t have to settle, to give up having children and to put up with all of that for something that left me feeling unsatisfied.

I saw the psychic I trust last Friday, she gave me the final piece I needed to trust myself.  All I had to do was let go.  And so, it happened.  Two angry kids fighting in adult bodies.  Not what I would have chosen but it’s done.  It’s sad how hurt people hurt people if they choose to.  Not how I would have chosen to do things but then again I haven’t had much choice in this relationship.  My life revolved around him.  I can’t believe it.  That was my choice.  Me giving up all kinds of things so I could see him and for what?  So we could do what he needed to do.  Great.  It would have been nice if just once on a weekend together he asked me what I’d like to do instead of it being all about him.  Not anymore.

It’s been a week and as each day passes, I let go some more and find my way back to happy, back to me.  Today I was given another opportunity which leaves me quietly optimistic.  Throughout this I have been blessed with the presence and support of incredible friends.  I am so grateful for them.

I don’t regret a single moment with him, good or bad but it’s clear we’re on different paths and it was time to do the right thing.  It takes some of us longer than others to get to that choice point.