Let it

Believe everything happens for a reason. If you get a chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it.”
Harvey MacKay

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Here Lies The Old Me

"... life does not subtract things, it liberates you from them. It makes you lighter so that you can fly higher and reach the fullness."- Facundo Cabral
I sat on my mat and felt my fingertips pulsating against each other as chills ran up and down my spine.
I have been mourning her loss, this former self. Like a deceased loved one, whom I would forever be incomplete without.  I have every right to miss her. She was me, and I loved her. How could I not? 
The words cracked open a stubborn sadness and allowed new breath.
I have not lost her, I have been liberated from her. 

But how? When she was so strong and sure. Have I idealized her and built her into more than she was? Maybe her time was finished, her purpose played out, her further growth impossible. She and I could not exist in the same reality. Her destruction cleared the foundation, leaving open space and freedom. Her rubble became my raw material; lowly and humbled, but crackling with massive potential. Can I just not see the magnitude of who I am and who I am becoming from the midst of the aftermath? It is exhausting to start over. I have no blueprints. No step-by-step instructions. I can only begin, scavenge for tools, and create as I go. I've no choice but to heal, and trust, and try, and see what comes anyway, so why not do so with hope, love, inspiration? Why not do so on purpose?

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Not the time for snark. Be vulnerable.

On those days parts of her died, 
and she had to go on living without them. 
Time and again it happened, 
until there was none of her left.
She was frozen in time,

a ghost,
while everyone moved on around her,
leaving her to haunt herself.

    My crumpled cotton sheets rustle around my ears as I fight to block out the loneliness. I am exhausted- not from lack of sleep, but lack of rest. I haven't rested in months. Half of my family has been gone for days. Days that I filled with museum outings and trail work, cleaning and grocery shopping, library, farm stands, hair cuts and pizza parlors. My younger kids lapped up the "girl time", and I patted myself on the back for making it through, and also for drawing the line when they wanted to sleep in my room and I just couldn't. people. anymore.

Now we are all six together again. I was so excited to welcome them all home. So proud of my non-athletic teenager for gritting out 50 miles of biking. So happy not to feel alone. Alone. I am rarely ever alone. So why to I feel that way? And why when I have that much less reason to feel alone, is it now that it sets it's heavy load on my chest?  I meant to nap. But the words came, and they must be written.

My therapist says that the reason I am incapable of planning for future, whether it be daydreaming, setting goals, setting up calendar items, or even identifying what I want, is because my brain has too much it hasn't processed. It is demanding that I address first things first. We started exploring some EMDR this week. It's kind of fascinating. Like the rapid eye movements trigger a flip book of random memories and my thoughts race from one thing to the next until they land on what my brain finds relevant in the emotional timeline. Memories of being fifteen, joining a competition soccer team on top of my other recreational teams, and musicals, and choir... and showing up early to games, alone. I had worked hard and accomplished what seemed important and impressive in my family circle. The things my brothers did. And no one cared.
How do you feel when you remember this picture of yourself?
I feel irrelevant.
And how does that word, Irrelevant make you feel. I'm used to it. I don't need to be a big deal.
Now please, I need you to be vulnerable.I crumple in on myself like a paper doll and whimper like a toddler. "It really hurts."

The flutter and whir as my mental flip book moves on.
I am somewhere around three or four and my baby brother has just fallen off of the two-story playhouse roof onto his head. My mom is with him and my sister is there too and I want so badly to do something helpful as the EMTs arrive in a flurry and move him to a stretcher. The seat belts are dangling from the gurney. Marky is too small, they are barely using any of them, and all I want to do is buckle the extras so that they don't dangle. I am so small, and well-meaning... and irrelevant.

I am thirty three and facing the wrong side of the finish line at the Antelope Canyon Ultras. I was supposed to run it with Jenna. It was to be my moment of victory. I cheer another stranger through as I sit in a camp chair holding my knee crutch. There is sand in my boot. Friends are gathered here and there. Every once in a while they greet another victor across the line, crowding in to give their congratulations or get a better view to watch for a runner. I'm left staring at a line of butts.

It's a theme in my life. Logic says I am very relevant. I have family who loves me, children who need me, an amazing husband and friends who adore me. But something programmed deep in my subconscious says I don't matter. That if I slipped away, it would go unnoticed. If I disappeared, life would move on.

I think these repeated traumas have somehow pulled at that dangling string and unraveled a gaping hole in my psyche. I set goals, I trained hard. I took chances and dared greatly and a shattered bone just bigger than a golf ball leveled me. There was some ado in the first few weeks. People care. They are wonderful. But life when on swiftly as I flailed to keep up. Eventually I think I limped back to functionality with my desire burning a little hotter. I set my sights on another 50k. I charged through another 25k, hoping my finish line there would feel triumphant and instead ran sobbing into the arms of a pregnant stranger as a few random people wondered why I was crying.
Then there was pain again, and hospital again, and surgery again, and all of the tests and I was terrified, but I had my brave face on. Don't make a big deal. Don't be a big deal. Then the complete annihilation of my free will and control as I woke up in confusion to find a completely different surgery had been done with different consequences. There was my doctor who had just rifled through my guts, telling me I had almost died and shrugging it off like a joke.
Deal with it.
Oh, I dealt with it. I climbed mountains again, but this time I carried the massive load of depression and anxiety up there with me. I stared life in the face from the mountaintop, in my sports bra, in one degree weather and said, "Antelope Canyon, here I come!" So when I lay quivering in a puddle of paint with a broken foot 6 weeks from race day, I cried uncle. And as I sat at that finish line, I tattooed,"Irrelevant" across my heart as it sank into my stomach.
Victory is not for me.

Imagine one person who wants nothing but the best for you. Someone who is kind, and safe, and wise. Now picture what that person wants for you. 
Celebration. She wants celebration. She was completely aghast when there was not a massive line of well-wishers with flowers in my hospital room. She planned out a highlight reel of my victory race and she'd even picked out the music. I think she wants my victory more than I do sometimes.

There was only one section of my therapy session that didn't include a memory. The flip reel started and then just flip... flip.. flipped like the reel had run out of ideas and was missing the page it needed.
And the words over and over and over, "I have to try again. I have to try again. I have to try...."

I sat agape. I owe it to myself to try again. Giving up sounded so much easier, but I won't be doing that. I am frozen at the knowledge of how hard it will be to set this goal and achieve it. The work it will take and the obstacles I face as I figure out how to drive this reconfigured body to it's limits.

And what you've been through already hasn't been hard? You can do hard.
I can do hard. But I'm scared.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Olympic Trials

I am captivated as a young, lithe athlete rushes through the finish line and collapses to the ground. Her face speaks what my heart feels every day. She can't hear that the din of cheers is comprised of her name. It is just noise. She wraps her arms across her face, afraid to look at the score board to see if she has qualified for her dreams. You can tell she has given everything. Everything. Her gasping breath is pained. Lungs on fire, body wrecked. "Please God, please let it be enough."  But she can't look. She can't bear it if her every effort isn't enough.
Her team mate crawls down into a prone hug and breaks the news. "You are enough. You did it. I'm so proud."

I am grateful for my teammates in life. Who join me in the dirt, lift my head, and pull me close to whisper in my ear, "You are enough. I am so proud."

Thursday, July 7, 2016


Note: This entry is for therapy's sake. It's a vent. It is part of a process. I don't need random advice. I have a therapist.

 "Try to contain and shelve the feelings and memories that we have talked about today. We'll get back to them... and if that feels too stifling or numbing, write."

Well, I'm here.
. . . . . . . . . . .
"Wow. Thank you very much for opening up."
I should have told him as we met and he shook my hand that he was about to know a whole lot about me. I guess sometimes people come to therapy and resist talking about themselves? I don't know. Not me. I'm here to get stuff done.
He's young. But I'm comfortable enough with him. He listens well... I guess that comes with the territory. He thinks I'm a great candidate for EMDR.
I'll be back next week. I'm so ready to be unstuck.

One sticking point that he gleaned as obvious: A long-held notion that has been ingrained in me since I was young, the notion that I am not allowed to be great. My greatness has to lie in facilitating the greatness of others. To become great would be selfish and arrogant. I am not the heroin, not the main role, but forever a sidekick. I don't even get my own life story. I am destined to be supporting role only. Wife, mother, daughter. Always working for someone else's success. It's strange because as much as instinct wants me to resent this role of helper, I have come to love it. I love being crew chief, support, friend. And I'm damn good at it too! But the shadow of it is that I somehow grew up feeling less. This nebulous semi-belief that am not important enough to be anything noteworthy, is inextricably linked with my stuckness over the past two years. Just when I felt I was coming into my own, life cut me down. I rose again, determined to succeed only to be cut down again, and again, and again. Put into my place.

I am forever wanting to learn and train to make a real difference in the world. I wanted to be a chiropractor, a massage therapist, a dancer, a singer, an artist, a yoga instructor, an author, a midwife, a naturopath... so many things. But what was the point of all that training and experience if my role in life was going to end up being "just" mother anyway? I have been told whenever I get bold enough to want to go back for schooling in something particular, "Some of us aren't meant for greatness. Some of us are just meant to help others become great."
That's good, I guess. Don't get me wrong, I love being a wife and mom. I think it is one of the most important roles in the world. I love helping others become great, reach their goals, strive for more.
 I love it!

BUT WHAT ABOUT ME?!  Do I ever get to cross a finish line? Do I ever get to receive a certificate? Have enough training to be a voice of authority? Break a record? Win a trophy? Try for more without having my body and soul crushed before I get there?  I watch others experiencing these moments of accomplishment and feel an overwhelming sadness that these things can never be mine. Great things are not for me.

Even typing this out feels horrible and selfish a wrong. I'm whining. I'm sinning. My focus is in the wrong place. I should be more humble. And if anything ever feels off emotionally, it's my own fault. Adapt. Accept. Control myself. Deal with it. And don't forget to be grateful.

And so with trauma, PTSD, depression, anxiety- all the things that are beyond conscious control, comes guilt. Guilt. Guilt. Guilt. Shame. Shame. Shame.
If you feel bad it's because you failed. 

I'm failing. At being a sidekick.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016


 Wednesday yoga. My escape to me. I set out breakfast, kiss the babes goodbye and pull out of the driveway. There are only two albums on the busted hard drive of my car stereo. They were there when we bought the car. The Dreaming Out Loud album from One Republic has been haunting me. It just fits right now. The morning sun streams down on grand mountain views and the nearby grasses that have gone golden in the heat of summer. The lyrics catch in my throat as the road winds down, down, and the puzzle pieces of feelings fit into place.

...Stop and stare
I think I'm moving but I go nowhere
Yeah, I know that everyone gets scared
But I've become what I can't be...
I turn up the volume and just live in it for a minute. This is me. Stop and Stare. 
...Stop and stare
You start to wonder why you're here not there
And you'd give anything to get what's fair
But fair ain't what you really need....

The lyrics swim in my head and live in my chest.
I start the song over and listen again. I pull into the parking lot. 9:11. I have 4 minutes til class starts. I sit and let the song play out.

The studio is under construction, but everyone settles into their sanctuaries and lets the growth be uncomfortable. Fitting. The theme of the class is change. Julz always knows. I don't have to say a thing. This is why I keep coming back. My needs are seen and met. Maybe it's cosmic, maybe it's coincidental. But coming here to practice makes me feel seen by the Divine if only for 75 minutes a week. 

I know you. I see you. All of you. Exactly as you are. And you are perfect. Let's work.

Julz is one of my many, many angels. She thinks she's just my yoga teacher. But she is the embodiment of Hope. Was I ever that to my students?
We sit in stillness and listen to breath. We stretch and breathe space into all of our places. We find balance in movement. We make all of the effort and sit in acceptance at the brink of our own limitations. My shoulders hurt. I honor them with different positioning and ask them to please keep trying. They do. 
My body is exhausted. Not 4 days ago I was sobbing aloud in excruciating pain, begging for mercy, retching uncontrollably, being rushed to the ER. And here I am on a yoga mat. Still. Quiet. Tired. Still just trying.

Sometimes I wish I knew how to give up. I am almost always so grateful that I don't. I don't know how.  
I'm just so tired. 

When class is over I sit in my car and answer text messages from other angels. Aaron, Jenna, Julio. I just sit as the car gets hotter in the sun, avoiding real life until I realize I need to get home and take my medicine. On the way home I have an epiphany. I think I wanted a 50k so badly through these couple of years purely for the finish line. To feel like I finished something. Accomplished something difficult of my own choosing. To feel like I earned a brief moment of recognition for my struggles. I just wanted a victory.  I pull into the garage and sit a while longer until my kids come and find me, and I'm mom again.
I get a call from an unfamiliar number as I eat my avocado salad. It's a therapist's office. We've called so many. Only one has called back. This one takes my insurance. They can't get me in with the person I wanted to see, but would I be willing to see another therapist? I've never heard of him. Okay. I'll take what I can get. I have to start somewhere.