The house we live in

Big change tends to stir up those things we repress. It draws out any ugliness we try to cover with the “New” thing or the “New” experience. I guess the real adventure is embracing every part of the process – not just the shiny newness, but all the brokenness that brought you there in the first place. Since we moved I have been a lost and found box of emotion. I have tried detaching, scare tactics, distraction, numbing, close up magic (just kidding) – none of it works. At the end of the day I look like an out of control emotional crazy person, and basically, I am.

Over the last six or so months I have been a little obsessed with personalities. There is a part of me that always wants | needs to know the “whys” of things. Why things happen, why two people can look at the same situation and come to separate conclusions…etc. Back in September a friend introduced me to the Enneagram (read: diagnosed me). The nerdy researcher in me began reading everything and anything I could get my hands on. It’s an absolutely fascinating concept, and dare I say, spot on. I am familiar with various other methods of personality typing, but this one described me perfectly, to the point where I may have had a small identity crisis. If you aren’t familiar, and are willing to see yourself in the best and worst sense, I would encourage you to check it out.

On my quest to gain a better understanding, I realized my biggest enemy, other than grief, is stress. When I am stressed I either get very sick or basically turn into a monster. I could be a monster to those closest to me, those within a 3 to 5,000 mile radius, or just to myself. I researched introvertedness, logical | critical thinking, sensing, feeling, judging; all the ways we as humans emotionally react to any given situation. I am incredibly hard on myself, the expectations I chase are more often than not impossible to catch. When I disappoint myself I take it out on others. When I am angry or lonely or sad or frustrated, but cannot put words or emotion to it – I project. It is a vicious cycle, one I am desperately attempting to correct. Stress inspires a way of acting/reacting that gives me visions of what I would have been like as a cavewoman – absolutely terrifying. If this were a sitcom we would flash to a scene: me in torn clothes, feeding on raw meat, blood trickling down my face, dirt smeared skin, and grunts and growls being my only form of communication. It also gives me an appreciation – like a deep tear inducing appreciation – for friends and family who love me in spite of my gnashing of teeth and/or disappearing acts.

Who we are and why we are those people is an important study. I was insulted at first by my personality typing and I was incredibly unkind to myself as a result. I am thankful for so many of the things that make me, me – but there are scary parts – there is a wildness that needs – not taming so much as love…self love. I read a quote the other day that basically said – the words you say to yourself, become the house you live in. Throat.Punch. The house I live in is weighed down by words of frustration, sadness, and weariness. Words of joy and gratefulness are certainly scattered in there – but self reflection is no joke. I need to strengthen my walls with encouragement, lower my expectations, accept my lack of control. I need to stop withholding grace – be OK with time: time for growth and healing.

I have been horrible at balancing life this last month. I have been difficult, cold, and ambivalent. Here’s to embracing all the messy broken parts – accepting responsibility and owning the process. Part of showing myself grace, is also a practice in showing it to others, better than I have in the past. Recognizing we are all works in progress – and the only way we can do this life is together is by simply loving ourselves and one another. Love has no expectations or pro and con lists; it is kindness, it is grace. And when we do a crappy job, which we ultimately will, love is owning that failure and trying again, over and over and over.

numbing

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Truth.

 

Hearing her say this, then reading it on paper – my mind was (and still is) blown. This describes so many years of my life, especially the last three. To see my life summed up, in thirty-one words, somehow made me feel normal – gave me a better understanding of myself – and the science behind it just makes sense to me. The last three years I existed in a constant state of numbing. I can barely give people hugs without wanting to crawl out of my skin – not because I think they have lice or smell bad or want to creepily smell my hair – but because hugging means you’ve missed someone – you’re happy to see them – you love them – you want to be close to them. Nope…sorry, I don’t want to feel ANY of those emotions, let alone all of them at once! I am safe in my Misie-sized bubble with a withering stare sending people at least five feet outside it. When I was in my twenties I had A LOT going on – 100% inside my head, locked away for no one to ever know – I maintained a state of numbness by working crazy hours, always being busy, over exercising, and disappearing into a life that required no commitment – at least not the stable kind.  [Disclaimer – because you know there’s always one or two – I loved my twenties in all their messiness; they shaped who I am today, significantly…but there was also a lot of pain and sadness that caused me to shut.it.down] I eventually became very ill and required some serious integrative intervention (liquid diets, therapy, new eating habits, sleep…the list goes on). Even with this help, these changes, my go to reaction to anything out of my control was to numb | is to numb.

When we lost Birdie I reached an entire other level of numbing – there is numbing for self preservation and then, there’s numbing for survival. My goal every single day was to survive – to wake up, get out of bed, eat something, have the guts to open the curtains and let light in. Laughter was a foreign sound; going to the store was the scariest thing because there were babies, toddlers, pregnant women there; friends were having babies left and right and it felt like the greatest insult. When you can see your dearest friends expanding their families and feel hate – this is the deepest darkest space for the soul. The thought of crying in front of people I loved, let alone some stranger in the check out line, instantly made me want to never ever leave the house (because crying is weakness apparently in my world). Numb. Numb. Numb. Shut it out, pretend it doesn’t exist. There was no joy, no gratitude, and no happiness. They are beginning to creep in every once in awhile, and this makes me appreciate time – how it allows us to soften, our eyes to widen, and lets light sneak past the darkness and seep through the cracks in our walls. I don’t believe time heals wounds, but I do believe, if we’re open to it, it will give us the space we need to process, to understand, to feel what needs to be felt before our wounds keep us locked in the house, never wanting a hug again.

something i need to hear

I wrote this to Birdie before she was born. 33.5 years of advice in a basic, unassuming form. I have learned that most things in life are as simple has your decision to act. Life happens to everyone, it is complex – it’s size and weight may change, but we always determine our participation, our reactions, our perception of it. Although these words are my own, I find I need the reminder more often than not…well, more like everyday.

Don’t apologize for who you are or let anyone make you question it. Be gracious in these things but fiercely protective. Follow your heart – don’t surrender to archaic expectations/rules. Be honest with others, but most importantly, yourself. Manipulation and unspoken expectation only hurt you. Don’t wish for “five minutes from now,” live in each moment, memorize and cherish them. Own your decisions. Take a drive – destination unknown. Stay up all night sharing truth. Confrontation is not a bad thing. Practice selflessness. Say what you mean, mean what you say; don’t drag it out. Remember from where you came. Learn to say No. Chase things that move your soul. Be brave. Never let any problem or challenge be bigger than you – you can do anything.
Music is everything.
Laugh through the lines on your face and cherish each one – joy left its mark on you. When you learn what it is to love, don’t fear it – embrace it – not everyone knows its face. Dance parties cure most things. Save your money. Seek richness in relationship…let yourself be known. Failure is only a stepping stone to getting it right – it is not a definition or road block. Stand up for those you love and those without a voice. Seek beauty beneath the surface…every layer has a story.

a process

The thing about grief is…there is no thing. No one can tell you how to go through it. No one can tell you if you’re doing it wrong. I understand there are five stages – they define general feelings you will process – general feelings. I don’t discount the years of study that created this logic, however at this point, they are the most simplistic terms to describe our hearts, and that seems offensive in some way. Maybe the five stages are more for those supporting you – it gives them something to grasp, a definition to satiate their helplessness. In my brief experience, the depths at which the soul grieves, supersedes the generic.

I thought I could describe a state; make a map of sorrow. Sorrow, however, turns out to be not a state, but a process. C.S. Lewis – A Grief Observed

To me – grief cannot be defined, each person translates it differently. The definition we give to each day’s emotion will change and warp and at times revisit itself. It swirls around quickly and then slows down. We are not given the luxury of determining it’s weight or timing, we only get to determine our stride in it’s midst. We will make attempts to move forward and discover versions of ourselves we never imagined. The people we were before Bridie, well, they seem like strangers. We now walk around in shells of our former selves; this will change. In grace we will heal. It will be an indefinite process, and those human shells – they will be filled with more mature, defined people. There is no map, there is no timeline. Our stages of grief will be just that, ours.

Perspective

In the most simple terms – we are penetrable. We cannot keep out the bad, the destructive, the unknown we attempt to control. The last two weeks have been constant reminders of how vulnerable we are no matter our beliefs or our imagined idea of “holding it together.” Friday we learned one of our co-workers, a 32 year old single mom, fit and healthy, lives 90% organic – went in to her doctor with a cough came out with a world altering diagnosis – she has stage 4 breast cancer that has spread from her lymph nodes to her hip and vertebrae. There are no words heavier, what do you say? This is one example in a series of unfortunate stories to flow through our group of friends and acquaintances.
Here is the perspective I am finding – life is meant to be lived. Life is not meant to be bigger than us. It is not an avenue with which to only benefit oneself, but is the greatest opportunity to impact others. The invitation for relationship is everywhere. Even introverted cynics like myself need to step out and build relationship, you never know what you can add to the life of another. Although we are penetrable in terms of the bad, we are more so to those things founded in love. We all seek it in various ways, why not be vehicles for it to others? I need to challenge myself more – not just in patience and grace, but in stepping out – being available to the unknown. Love and the act of loving are greater than any cancer, violence, unknown we may face. We not only need to be better at showing it but strong enough to accept it.**
**in my humble opinion