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.

 

 

Shift happens

Last night, on a patio by the water under a blanket of stars, I helped a friend shift.

My new friend believed that finding love was over for her.

She’s an amazing woman. Beautiful, smart, strong and sensitive. She’s raised two wonderful children on her own and thrown herself into a successful career.

In her fifties, having found love and having had her heart broken recently, she doesn’t want to get hurt again.

What a gift that love was. Now she knows there’s a possibility.

I helped move her through her limiting beliefs, into her emotions and her tears.

My friend is worthy of love. She will be alright and safe no matter what happens, however, nothing can happen if she doesn’t allow it to.

The image that came to mind was that a of a walled fortress with a drawbridge. Open the drawbridge I said. What’s the worse that can possibly happen?

She’s been dating but it’s been a series of misses. No kidding.

Healing happened last night. Shift happened.

I believe in the law of attraction. When you’re in a good space you will attract good things. Just as the reverse is also true.

My friend broke part of the shield that keeps her safe last night. I can’t wait to see what comes from it.

Being who she is, she’ll move through the rest of her process on her own.

I’m happy I was able to help her. To love her through her pain and know that she’ll come through it all transformed.

What a gift.

One less heartbeat

Two weeks ago I said goodbye to my companion of 13 years, my beloved sweet cat Minou.

My heart hasn’t been the same since. I’ve never known a pain like this, it’s like nothing I’ve ever felt before. The ache is still there.

My house feels lonely and empty without him. Life won’t ever be the same.

Minou was the best thing that ever happened to me. He taught me how to care and love for a being. He gave me unconditional love in return. He was a constant in my life when so many things weren’t.

He was a rescue. I always say we rescued each other.

He was a beautiful grey manx with green eyes.

Up until the very end he was a fighter.

He was in and out of the vet’s office a few times since the fall. His kidneys were failing. He lost a lot of weight and deteriorated rapidly in the end, losing his mobility.

It was sad to see him this way, a shadow of his former self.

I rushed him to emergency on the day before I was to put him to sleep. He was trembling and crying out in pain. It was heart breaking.

He was passing as I arrived at the animal hospital. I was told he had but a few moments left. So I held him in my arms crying and saying goodbye.

He shocked everyone by coming back to life. I like to think Minou felt he hadn’t given his mom a proper goodbye. I held him in my arms for hours before I made the decision to let him go.

A friend came to keep me company. I regaled her with stories of Minou’s adventures while he sat purring contentedly in my lap.

I guess he wasn’t ready to go because the vet had to change his catheter and then administer twice the dose of the injection to stop his heart. Again an unusual occurrence.

By then all of us were crying. I was telling Minou it was ok to let go and that I’d be ok. Even though my heart was breaking and the last thing I wanted was to let him go.

He passed peacefully in my arms. The love of my life.

The weeks since have been difficult. There’s been a lot of sorrow.

I miss Minou terribly and wish I could have had more time with him.

I imagine him up there creating havoc, chasing squirrels and lying in the sunshine, happy and healthy.

Thank you Minou for being such a good friend. You’ve left your paw prints all over my heart.

Compassion

Compassion.

What does it mean to you?

Lately I’ve been challenged by finding compassion. Compassion for myself, my cat and those around me.

I grew up on a ski hill. Call it nature and nurture I turned into a ski racer. A decent one at that. Along the way I developed something called perfection.

Ski racing is a sport where hundreths of a second make the difference. Where I constantly sought to improve my strength, technique and tactics. It’s a sport where your mettle is tested.

I flew down hills faster than most people drive, constantly seeking speed and a winning line. I was a consistent podium finisher. Always pushing myself to be stronger, faster and smoother.

I lived for speed and for flying down courses with gates coming at you as fast as possible. Always seeking to shave time and to win.

Ski racing was my life and my job. I had teammates, some I liked, others I tolerated. On race day all that fell away. It was time. Time to put all the training I’d done along with mental preparation and make it happen.

Sometimes it did. Sometimes it didn’t. Always I learned. I watched my competition’s lines. I ran the course in my mind and in my body countless times. When the starter counted down I was like a tiger, ready to fly. To lay it all down and give it my all.

That drive is still in me. The passion too. I constantly seek to learn, to better myself and to be the best me I can be.

Sometimes compassion is lost in the process. This hardness appears. The itty bitty shitty committee activates. Sometimes I can pull myself out, sometimes I can’t. I call it the swamp. That icky place where fear, anxiety, sadness and negativity lie.

I coach my clients on how to pull themselves out of that space. To reach for a branch. To grasp at something positive to draw themselves out.

I tell my clients there is no such thing as perfection. It’s something we create to punish ourselves. To keep ourselves stuck. It’s a terrible weight to carry.

I teach them there is no such thing as failure, only feedback. I ask them to highlight what went well and what was challenging. Then I ask them to draw lessons they can take with them the next time they are faced with an experience.

In the end, I am teaching them compassion. Compassion for being human. We are spiritual beings living a human existence. I fundamentally believe that.

My clients give me the opportunity to reflect on the words that come out of my mouth. The chance to apply those lessons to my own life. They give me just as much as I hopefully give them.

I love what I do. I value the trust parents and my clients put in me. It is the greatest gift to be able to work with young humans who never cease to amaze me. It’s my juice.

Heart full.

Gratitude

Gratitude. How does it show up in your life?

I had planned on writing a post on gratitude this week, it seems especially timely after the events here in Ottawa.

A city has been changed in a single day. A loss of innocence has occurred. My heart goes out to the families of both Cpl Nathan Cirillo and Michael Zehaf-Bibeau. Two people died tragically Wednesday in our peaceful city. Things will never be the same.

On the weekend, I was at a conference at the National Arts Center, steps away from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. I had remarked to a friend how wonderful it was to see the military honor our dead by having sentries stand guard at the monument. As a former officer in the Canadian Armed Forces, I felt it a lovely gesture.

I was in an all day business planning session ten minutes away when shots were fired Wednesday, ironically our original location was to be blocks away from Parliament in the lockdown zone.

Shock. Horror. Anger. Sadness. I experienced all of these feelings when I learned of events.

Gratitude. I’m grateful to bystanders who stepped in to come to the aid of Cpl Nathan Cirilio. He was surrounded by people before he died. To emergency responders who run to and not away from danger to keep us safe. I’m grateful to the members of the Canadian Armed Forces who put their lives on the line daily abroad so we can enjoy our freedom here in Canada.

Gratitude. For the simple things. For friends and family reaching out to make sure I was safe. For my home, in a country where events like these are the exception and not the norm. For this beautiful city, our nation’s capital, and the strength of its people.

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.