Tag Archives: tender human journey

going mental…

Seems it’s that time of year, when things have been a bit too dark, for a bit too long. I read an incredible blog post today from Tam which spoke to that. We spend too much time and effort sweeping this stuff under the happy carpet, and it’s taken a very long time for those of us who spend our lives straddling that divide between lightness and darkness to feel less marginalized.

My son had been doing poorly in school for quite some time, and no amount of offering my assistance was helpful – in fact, on the day that I was supposed to be laid off from my job, his school had called me in for an emergency meeting with the vice-principal (thus delaying the inevitable by one whole day). My son was facing a temporary suspension with the ultimatum that in order to stay at the school there would have to be no more unexcused absences nor nonproductive attendance.

For some time now, I suspected that there were other issues at play, but each time I suggested he speak to a psychologist he shrugged and said he didn’t need one, and more recently that it would simply feel like an additional burden to attend to. I suppose this bleak turn of events finally convinced him to make an appointment so I dialled our EAP service provider’s hotline and he asked to meet with a counsellor (his first appointment didn’t actually happen until early December).

He is on the last few sessions and my extended healthcare has run out. The counsellor called me yesterday; we played phone tag a few times and finally ended up speaking today, chatting a bit about what is going on and what some of his concerns were. She said that he is depressed, mildly now, but it was more severe when he first started going.

I had issues with melancholy in my teens too, and well into my adulthood. In my twenties we had at some point determined that I had Seasonal Affective Disorder (which was helped immediately -and amazingly- with light therapy). I had what I semi-jokingly coin my big meltdown in my late thirties (which at the time was termed “Major Depression”) and I still occasionally have struggles with regulating my mood, though my coping mechanisms have improved immensely over the years because I’ve spent so much time on “self-help”, adjunctly assisted by occasional therapy.

One of my son’s issues at the moment is anxiety over our not having enough financial resources… for food… for a roof over our heads… etc. … as a result of my unemployment. Yeah, it kind of sucks to be unemployed, and yes, it definitely affects the ease with which we can carry on with our daily lives, but we haven’t come to the point of having to be concerned about losing our place to live (even though it is crazy expensive on our current budget).

She encouraged me to speak to him about it. Not to merely placate him by saying things like “things will be okay” but acknowledge that there will be some struggle and offer what the solution will be – at least enough of one to put his mind at ease.

I want to posit that this escalation of worry is partly his dad’s doing, in that he discusses with our son my seeming incapability of being an adequate provider, and instead of offering support and assurance, offers his criticism and discusses the hardship the current situation causes him due to his having to assist more during this time of heightened struggle.

But also I think that my son has had it so good throughout his whole life that he doesn’t know that so many people struggle like this every day, all the time. Worse, even. Many, many … much, much worse. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that we live in a very affluent neighbourhood, and that most of the kids that he goes to school with are so spoiled that they have lost sight of what is important and meaningful.

I grew up with socio-economic diversity, and witnessed it daily with the kids I went to school with. I came from a middle class home but there were little kids in my first and second grade classes who were undernourished, unkempt and shabbily dressed. I remember one time a brother and sister were segregated from the rest because they were found to have head lice and the school didn’t want there to be an epidemic. Some of the other kids were unkind to them, taunting them after that. I felt like my heart would break when I saw how they were being treated and I went over with my colouring book and coloured pencils and we coloured together, the three of us; it was my way of showing my solidarity – that we are all equal and the same.

I want to say that in our society we will always have “enough” if we apply ourselves “enough” so as to go out there and not give up, either on ourselves or on the things that we believe in.

I want to say that we have people that care around us. Kind people, who will help us when we need it, not because we owe them anything or that they expect to be repaid but because we mean something to them… because of how we treat others, and how we offer support where we can and embody a generous spirit, always.

I want to say that this feeling of hardship will be a familiar one throughout life, whether it is of a material kind, or one of spirit (and that is the hardest of the two to deal with), and that resilience is the greatest trait that one can learn to develop in life, and like any muscle, it requires a working out in order for it to gain in strength and be able to provide support when one needs it.

I want to say that being grateful and remaining hopeful is most of the battle, and that kindness will always beget kindness.

And I want to say that I love him, and would take the food out of my mouth and the clothes off of my back before I see him unfed and without shelter.

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first step to joy: (doing) nothing

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The title prompt is what Martha Beck suggests as the first of ten daily practices for a happier life (as outlined in The Joy Diet). I have been doing a whole lot of nothing for a while now, and feeling guilty about the lack of productivity. I do “guilt” well.

The truth of the matter is, I haven’t drawn or pulled out my art supplies for quite some time. I think it has to do with the emotional/head space I must be in to create – I must be quiet and still to hear where the medium wishes to take me, or to write out what my internal dialog is saying, neither of which seems to be my natural (or indeed self-induced) state lately. Frenetic, maybe. Despondent, maybe. Hugely dissatisfied, maybe. Listless, maybe. But definitely not quiet nor still. Certainly not both at the same time.

Lately I have been embarrassed by my inner dialog, as it touches on things that I haven’t wanted to consciously address, contenting myself with acknowledging that things were not right and good yet not yet prepared to attend to righting them. Somehow those things have a way of catching up to you, and if you don’t make the choices that very obviously need to be made, the universe urges them along on your behalf. More than once in the recent months I have asked It to be gentle with me; to bring change but in a gentle and less painful manner than in the past.

Hence the unexpected (though perhaps largely overdue) boot out of our old place into a new one (which, though more costly, is also a much better space in more ways than I can enumerate – feeling extreme gratitude for this) and a small claims court notice that arrived this week from someone who I had buried deep within myself in an attempt to heal myself from the sharpness of what transpired between us, much like an oyster does with the grain of sand that eventually becomes a pearl.

Unfortunately his patience with my process was not as generous as my own need for it was, and so I am having to look at finding a resolution to something I had not yet been prepared to address.

Such is life, and here I am, examining the wound and finding a way to heal myself of its cause. While I understand that the wounding and how I chose to participate was of my own doing, I also feel that acknowledging that another person’s actions did not have my best interests at heart even while holding their own interest out for my consideration. While what occurred was done with my consent, it was still inconsistent with right and honourable action, even within his own paradigm. My lesson here is in my choosing and accepting terms which did not sit well with my deepest self, the resulting fallout being a feeling of self-betrayal – so not once but twice betrayed.

This is one story of many other stories which have collectively shaped who I am today, and many more will come before the last and final story comes. I know I am not alone in the making of poor choices, and while they are uncomfortable and make us squirm they also sharpen and hone who we become (for the better) once all is said and done. If nothing else, they certainly provide much in the way of creative fodder for my written endeavours.

All this also happens to coincide with my taking part in a group reading (rereading, in my case) of Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ Women Who Run With The Wolves, which is facilitating this self-examination in what will hopefully be a gentle and supportive manner. After listening to Brené Brown’s The Power of Vulnerability this weekend, I realize that I am not alone in my struggles; that what I wish for most from those I reach out to during my most difficult moments is empathy vs. sympathy and that should the same be expected of me, that I am wise enough to extend the same in kind.

Natural alchemy…

photo courtesy Linda Treger (c) 2011

Oh how I love the ocean. It is a place, on a sunny day, when all four elements unite, with me at its locus, a nexus of spirit holding it all inside, woven into each other and indivisible.

Many years ago, during a most challenging time –though truthfully, they all feel strung together, these times, like a very long necklace strand of beads, with only the size of the beads varying– I would escape from the office I worked at near Del Mar and head to the beach. It was only ten minutes away and I could get in a good half hour walk.

Sometimes I would start with my feet firmly planted in the sand, right on the edge of earth and sea, and with eyes closed focused on the solidity of the earth, the tendrils of the sun reaching out to touch my shoulders and upturned face, the wind stirring against my skin and the waves of the ocean rhythmically washing over my feet.

In those moments I would find a sense of peace and balance that mostly eluded me otherwise.

P.S. Lynda–I miss you, you beautiful soul…

Non-visual journal entry… well, sort of…

Stargazing Tip for April 9

The Moon huddles quite close to the brightest star of Virgo tonight. Spica is a little to the upper left of the Moon as they rise in early evening.

Big Hand for a Little Star

Stardate: April 9, 2009

The tears are flowing this morning, a relentless stream following the inner crease of my eye, along my nose and down my cheeks to be deftly wiped away before they escape. I don’t know why today is any different than yesterday, or tomorrow. Since being let go from my job at the beginning of January, it’s all been like one long flowing day, punctuated with stress here and there, but otherwise rather dull and numbing.

How is it that every time change occurs in my life, it has to be everything all at once? Is it my sense of impatience in general that controls even the manifestations of my higher self? Are we both equally impatient? And yet, I must be patient, for I have been waiting for what seems like an eternity for something to happen that will push me into the place where I will flourish. Perhaps this is it. If only it wasn’t so gut-wrenchingly devastating at the same time. I wish I could muster up more enthusiasm in light of these developments.

Perkily, Steve went apartment hunting yesterday, online, and found a junior one bedroom apartment that he’s put dibs on in Costa Mesa. Funny how the very construct we met upon so many years ago has also facilitated our separation. It’s not as though it happened suddenly, and blind-sided us. It became a wedge, like a curtain drawn between hospital beds, and severed our connection. While there is a fondness between us, we’ve lost our soul connection. I wonder, sometimes, if it was ever really there.

I wonder what the point of our union was in the first place. If it was to get me here to California, it has seemingly failed in its purpose, since I will be leaving to go back to Canada shortly. Of course, that too is my choice. I could stay here, but I have no where to go. Doesn’t seem like much of a choice. I don’t feel safe here. And I’m not sure why I feel any differently about being in Canada, but some things reach me at gut-level and I’ve intuited this as being the best course of action.

I am afraid. I am afraid of being alone for the rest of my life. I am afraid that I will amble from one job to the next as a means of paying my bills without deriving any joy or satisfaction out of my daily work. I fear that I will not be able to support myself and Gabriel to a standard that will match what we are leaving behind. I fear that he will also someday abandon me in favor of living with his father. I fear that I will never figure out what it is that I am here to do on this earth, making it all a pointless exercise in futility, like pounding sand. I fear that I will start off this new segment of my life with so much less than I started with, and that I won’t have the strength, ambition or focus to make it back to good. Sometimes I fear I’ve made such a mess of things that it is too far gone to fix; that it’s irreparably damaged.

I have this sense of diminished worth that I carry like a mantle. Who gave this to me, I wonder? Was it intended to protect me during my meandering through life? Did I put it there to protect myself from undue interest; to not have to measure up to anything because I was running under the radar? How can it be that I have not been able to maintain an intimate relationship with another human being? Am I meant to be alone?

I get these inspirational quotes via email. Today’s is “Love is the master key that opens the gates of happiness” attributed to Oliver Wendell Holmes. Some days they inspire me; other days, like today, they merely sound insipid.