Spinning Plates when the Plate spinner is grieving

It’s been a little over two weeks since my father passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. I’m working not to focus on counting the days.

For me counting the days leads to rumination and isn’t healthy.

DisclosureThis is just my effort to process and to assess where I am and share that. I have a need to be witnessed. If you read, I thank you for witnessing what I’m going through. I do ask and hope that my sharing will not invite comparisons. I’m not looking to be compared nor am I inviting others to compare themselves to me. I’ve found that comparisons in either direction have been less than helpful, not terribly health either…

I have experience with other types of grief and how the grief cycle plays on my emotions. I’m trying to use this hard earned self knowledge to grieve in a healthy way and if I’m lucky, suffer less.

In the past when I have grieved I have sometimes been able to keep other aspects of my personal & professional life on track and sometimes my personal or professional life has gone completely off the rails.

In the early day or two after my father passed, I was able to keep the plates of my professional life spinning. Forward momentum, doing things helped me dip my toes into the pool of grief. I slowly inched in at times and at others collapsed backwards into the deep end.

Now, a couple weeks later, some of my professional life seems to be a little off the rails. My bank account is empty, literally. I lost one new client project all together, it was a bit flaky and wasn’t looking like a good project. Still if I had been on my game better, I might have done something useful with it.

I have a couple others where the combination of my communication challenges while grieving mixed with general communications challenges that seem to be everywhere have stalled 2 other projects.

The bottom line is that as I attempted to spin up these 2 plates, they never realized a healthy velocity, wobbled and crashed.

I have been able to inch forward on super small maintenance projects, but that’s not remotely sustaining in a financial way.

My father’s passing has required of me in a real sense and even more in an emotional sense the need to help. I’ve been working day and night, compelled to try and bring order out of the chaos of the plates he was spinning with his own business. This is a short term necessity for my emotional health and for my mother’s finances. I am not doing this alone, my mother and my brother are very engaged in this work as well. It’s taking all of us, our combined effort to figure things out and keep things going.

At times this has helped me to continue to only dip my toes in the pool of grief. It kept me busy with practical things.

I definitely still grieved. I did not avoid grief. I definitely have run through all the phases and emotions of the grief cycle repeatedly.

Keeping busy simply helped give my mind a break from grieving 24/7.

And the anxiety of my own finances running out is becoming a bit critical. I’m currently at my mother’s home, 750 miles or so from home. I don’t have the cash to return home let alone cover any of my bills when I get there.

I’ve got 7 days to get my house in order, literally. I’ve pulled that together before and I might again. It simply means picking up new plates and trying to balance and spin them again.

Regardless, as a person that experiences anxiety and has learned many ways of managing it, this new anxiety mixed with the emotions of grief and the circumstances, is not easy.

Again, being able to help other people is an emotional comfort. It’s helping me to manage the anxiety levels and keep things at a level 5 or 6 instead of a 9 or a 10.

I’m grateful for being able to help.

I’m anxious about not being able to do much to help myself.

I’m writing this partly to simply get it off my chest. I’ve shared this anxiety, fear with others and I’m grateful that they were able to hear me out.

I’m doing things to try and get the plates spinning again. I’m just not ‘there’ yet. It’s party challenging as well because this month started on such a positive note. It was one of the first months I’ve had in years where I could see the light at the tunnel, could almost feel the warmth. Large sustaining projects that might have been enough to help me build a new future entirely were in my grasp.

Now, I can’t tell where that is at all. Communications problems on that front have obscured the light and the money I thought would be here by now, is probably at least another month away.

So that’s where I’m at today. I’m trying to help where I can, its the only momentum I have going for me at the moment. I’m working mentally and physically every day (splitting my time between accounting work and equipment work for my dad’s business) and trying to get things started again with my own projects. I crash from exhaustion each night just before 10 and wake up to repeat around 7.

I’m grateful to be getting enough sleep in terms of quantity. The quality isn’t always there. I’ve had a lot of dreams including or involving my Dad. I’ve had a lot of nights where I wake up a half dozen times per night and typically get back to sleep in minutes if not 20-30 minutes at worst.

I’m eating ok. Not outright unhealthy and not as healthy as I would like. A lot of cookies and deserts delivered by caring friends and family right after my father’s passing, have been consumed by yours truly in the last two weeks. I’ve been walking or running a couple miles almost everyday as well, even doing most of that with my Dad’s large dog, Diesel.

Diesel, a Bernese Mountain Dog, may need a new home at some point in the future. He was my Dad’s and he is large. My Mom has not decided to re-home him yet, lots of conflicting emotions, however that might be a next step.

Diesel’s a great dog, but for reasons that might be obvious above, I can’t take him myself. While he was the runt of the litter and maybe two-thirds the size of a normal Bernese, he’s still about 100 lbs and with all the fluff, looks to be 140 lbs. My lease allows for one small pet, something the size of a cat and I’ve got one of those already.

So life is complicated. I write this on a Sunday morning as I prepare to head to Aldi’s and get some yogurt, sweat tea and granola with the last of the money in my bank account.

I’ll be ok. I’ll get through this. I’m not having thoughts of self-harm or ideation or anything. I’m ok enough given the circumstances. I’m just grieving. This is where I’m at.

Processing Grief – less than 2 weeks in

It’s been less than two weeks since my father passed away suddenly, unexpectedly. I have run through the grief cycle with emotions. For about the last twenty four hours, I’ve been hovering in and out of a general feeling of sadness and depression.

Intellectually, I know that I need to feel what I need to feel. I know that I’m going to touch base with all the feels eventually as I go through the grief cycle. Knowing this isn’t making the current step of grief any easier.

I’m feeling very impatient about feeling depressed.

I do not have time for depression. Generally, I cope with anxiety on a regular basis. That’s tera firma for me. I stress about the future and I’m hopeful that I’ll work through it and figure it out.

The depression that caught up with me yesterday started after looking at a pile of pictures. We’d put together a few picture boards for the viewing last week. I was sorting through them, some mine and some belonging to other members of my family. I snapped pictures of pictures (using my iphone) to get copies of some of the pictures I did not have.

When we put the picture boards together, I was concerned we wouldn’t find enough happy, smiling pictures of my Dad.

I was pleasantly surprised that we found a lot of them. It made me happy at the time.

Then yesterday as I was getting copies of these pictures, it struck me that he looked very happy and at the same time was no longer here with us.

I hit a bit of over load with the whole thing and had to move into self care mode. I took a nap, woke up, practice yoga, then went for a run, ate some healthy food, spent some time with his dog (big fluffy dog named Diesel), watched some Mozart in the Jungle with my Mom.

I got a good night of sleep (quantity about 8 hours, with multiple times when I woke up and went back to sleep.)

Today, I got a number of things done, and then around 4pm needed another nap.

The depression I’m feeling is spurred on by my father’s passing, but it’s all wrapped up in my own personal, current crap.

Just before he passed, a number of good things were coming together for me. I was finally starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel.

That hasn’t changed, but my feelings about how well that is or isn’t working out feels depressed today.

It’s just a feeling.

I can take a step back and intellectually see that things are still looking up. But the feeling is sucking a little wind out of my sails.

I’m writing this, sharing it as I need to exorcise these thoughts. I do not have time to be stuck in a depressed stage of the grief cycle right now.

I may need to feel the feels, but I need to survive as well. Some of this is going to have to wait to be felt a different day. I’m well aware of this risk. Not working through emotions in the present usually leads to a bit of festering of emotions.

I simply don’t have the space to eat the entire whale of grief right now. I have a few too many other challenges that have to be dealt with or else, the whale of grief will be even more difficult.

So that’s where I am today. Speaking some of my pain and depression, trying to unload a bit of it, get it out of my system, air the laundry of my mind, take a bite of the grief cycle and swallow it. So that I can move forward a bit further, solve more problems and go from there.

When is it wrong? Putting big rocks in the jar first

The Past Becomes the Present

Last week it was the end of the month and my February is not over yet. All week I was trying to get some big rocks into my jar.

You’ve probably seen the science like repeatable, experiment. Given large rocks, a jar, some water, sand and medium sized pebbles, you are asked to put it all in a jar.

If you put the sand and small rocks in first, the rest will not fit.

If you put the big rocks in first, then the smaller pebbles and then sand and water, it works. The smaller items settle around the big items.

Its a nice visual metaphor for life and priorities.

The human lesson we learn from this physical experiment is to take care of your big priorities first. Later, fit the small worries into place.

I have been working at this with intention all year.

And as the short month of February wound up, I had to refocus. I had new big rocks to contend with.

I worked on getting them into the jar.

February ended, and the big rocks were still not in the jar.February 1st, 2nd, 3rd came and went, still no big rocks in the jar.

Now its Monday the 4th.

My jar is still pretty much empty.

I am real close to having a big and important rock in the jar…. and empty is still empty.

Stupid, Friggin Metaphorical Breakdown

The thing about metaphors, is they are visual examples of a bigger more complex system.

They help us bring clarity of vision and purpose to a universe can appear much more chaotic.

We apply our metaphor, our belief system, our past history, our models of what should work, and we do our best.

When the Metaphorical tire goes flat

And sometimes any of those, might not work in a situation.

Then we have to do the supremely human thing, and adapt a new model.

That’s me today.

Instead of putting all the rocks into a jar at one time.

I need to focus on rapidly putting one bunch of things in at a time. Next I’ll carry it across the room, dump it in a collection bin race back and repeat.

My ultimate goal in my new metaphor is not to fill a jar, and see the accomplishment and be ‘all done’.

I have to shift.

Today, I have to see that the jar was meant to transport and not hold the things. It was not the ultimate destination.

I have no ultimate destination today.

I have flow, I have movement and so will all of my rocks.

The benefit of moving all those rocks out of the way

I’m going to declutter my rock pile. Get most of it moved. I need the space and clarity to refocus on those big rocks.

Sometimes, yes we need to get the big rocks in the jar.

The jar is just a tool. The jar is not even real!

We don’t have to hold ourselves hostage to our beliefs, our mental models about how it ‘should’ be.

We use those models when we need em and shift to the next when its time.

So how might you shift today, this week, this month?

Have you been following

  • an awesome,
  • totally sound,
  • served you very well in the past,
  • tried and true method for being successful, and
  • its not working any more?

Well, now is your chance to use that amazing human adaptability talent and just change it up!

Love to hear your experience and progress with this or lack there of…. Its not all break throughs.

I was stuck on one of my recent big rocks for 4 days, chipping away at it, rolling it around, finding and trying new angles to fit it in and not succeeding, but so so very close.

Sometimes, it helps to simply share where and how we are stuck. I’m not offering to fix nor help here. 🙂

Its your rock and not mine.

However, we are all in this together too. We are flying through space on a common big rock.

Sure it is a paradox and nothing wrong with that.

The funny thing is, funny in another unique human way as opposed to funny ‘ha ha’, sometimes as soon as we express how we are stuck, complain about it even, vent, dump, whatever,

That can clear the air for us, and suddenly we can see through the dissipating smoke and observe the obvious answer. It might have been there all the time. We just needed to expel some hot air and blow the fog away.

Go for it today!

Flipping Ground Hog's Day-2

Flipping Ground Hog’s Day

Do you have a movie that you watch everytime it comes on?

Maybe more than one?

I have several. Ground Hog’s Day with Bill Murray is one of those movies for me. Raiders of the Lost Ark is another. Defending your Life, Victor Victoria, Support Your Local Sheriff, Paint Your Wagon, The Fifth Element, The Name of the Rose, The Man Who knew to Little, Stargate, Dune… My list is long.

Ground Hog’s Day is one of the special ones. There’ magic in this movie. Phil, the newscaster played by Bill Murray wakes up at 6 am every day and its Ground Hog’s Day.

Now waking up at 6 am everyday, that’s kind of its own special hell in my world. I’m more of a 7:30 kind of person.

But the magic kicks in when Phil starts to realize that there is potential in his repeats.

He’s immortal. He can learn. He can attempt to achieve the perfect day. He can manipulate people. He can save people. Eventually, he can let it all go and just ‘be’.

Tonight, I watched the Netflix trailer for Russian Doll. It’s a bit of a spin off of Ground Hog’s Day. The character repeats the same night, trying not to die. Every night she dies.

I’m not providing a spoiler. This was all in the trailer.

I started thinking about how someone could flip this plot.

How do you flip Ground Hog’s day?

I’m not talking spinning it off like Russian Doll. I’m talking a full flip.

A flip would have to involve something repeating still or maybe its nothing repeating?

Maybe everyday Phil wakes up and its the day before?

He could incrementally travel back in time re-living his life in reverse. Sort of a Benjamin Button meets Piers Anthony Immortal series with Chronos.

Maybe everyday Phil wakes up and its a new day, the next day, and the thing that repeats is Phil. Phil does every single thing the same. The day is different. The results of the day are different. But Phil himself is on repeat, like a robot. Maybe in his mind he’s aware that he’s on repeat and he’s trying to find the way to break himself from the pattern.

What can he do? His body does every thing the same. Only his thoughts are different.

Maybe the flip is external to Phil. Maybe Phil finds himself in a reality where everyone else is stuck in their own individual Ground Hog’s day. They might all be repeating. They know it, and maybe even confide in it to Phil. But he goes forward each day looking for a way to get everyone else unstuck from their repeat. Maybe every person has to find their own individual way to self -actualize as Phil did in the original. Only after they self-actualize can they become unstuck. Then slowly, one by one it starts to happen and Phil is there to witness everyone ascending out of their Ground Hog’s day.

Or maybe as Phil progresses through each day, he encounters one person each day that is stuck and has to help guide them forward, how to get unstuck. He becomes a kungfu Ground Hog’s day master waking the ‘stuck’, Exorcising them from their suffering.

It’s just a thought.

It comes to me as I think about how much I have been repeating my own days lately. Its winter, February, and I am not getting out much. I’m working on me. I’m working on my future. But I am also sort of looping through the days.

I have the feeling of doing the same sorts of things each day. Its a new day and it feels like the same day mostly.

It’s a phase. I have lived phases where not much happened. I have lived phases where too much happens.

Today, I celebrated two straight days of nothing weird happening, two very ‘normal’ days.

I was sure ready for a normal day or two. It was a bit of a vacation for me.
Tomorrow, when I wake up and my phone alarm is playing,

Then put your little hand in mine
There ain’t no hill or mountain we can’t climb
Babe
I got you babe
I got you babe

Cher ~ I Got You Babe

It will be time for me to start a new loop, a new repeat. Another chance to actualize myself just a bit more, go further, live more, become more of em, let go of who I am not, do for others as best I can, enjoy, love and trust in the next day that will follow.

Flight – tentative topic for storytellers

Tomorrow night is my story telling group. The topic or prompt is flight. The thing is that I’m not coming up with a ‘story’. I’m sort of stuck on a ‘feeling’. And while its nice sometimes to share where we are or what we are feeling, I need to move myself into more of a story mode. I’ve been stuck in feeling mode for at least a week and a half.

That’s not working for me. I’ve written a half dozen failed attempts at stories. They all shared the commonality of being an essay on what I was feeling.

That’s what this is below. The others I have mostly just canned. They were as good or as bad as this one.

imho a little too literary and way too vague.

maybe, probably not worth reading at all. But canning them and trashing them or worse saving them to clutter up my hard drive unseen at all, that process has not gotten me out of this ‘story tellers’ block that I’m in.

Its sort of worse than writers block. I’m writing, its just not necessarily worth telling about or is it?

I don’t know, I give it up to you to choose.

“Flight”

Flight is my current dream. It’s not what I want. Its just the thing I dream of when the fear starts to crawl up my spine.

Run away, leave and get to a safe place.

I do not know where that is. I haven’t felt safe in several years.

My fear tells me that I’m not safe here.

But I stay and fight. I get knocked down by life. I get divorced. I lose my home and then lose the next home and the next home after that too. I lose the new love of my life on top of all of that.

I want to take flight, but I don’t know where to go.

I stay and fight primarily for my kids. They are getting older and better able to take care of themselves, but not all the way yet.

My youngest child has special challenges and might need a parent far longer than many kids. I can’t leave.

But I keep losing my fights.

I am not sure how much I can keep helping my children. I want to help, and then feel like I’m not.

I witness example after example where I do help them. I am happy to do so and don’t know if I can keep that up.

My finances are upside down, twisted and squeezed to the point where they almost do not exist. My once pristine credit is too ugly to even look at even more. It’s at that level of ‘too ugly’ where it prevents a person from getting a job.

I’ve reached out to try and get help and only learned that I make too much money. My earnings are above the poverty level and above the level of many starting position jobs.  

And I struggle to make it work. It’s still too low for a family of four.

I am self employed as I’m the only person that can afford to risk employing me at this point.  

I have improved and grown my business month after month for months now, and its no where near enough to cover this months expenses.

It’s this feeling of improving and succeeding to make things better and still failing….

This makes me want to take flight.

Maybe time and space could let me get somewhere that I could fix everything and get caught up with myself.

And yet I know that life doesn’t stop just because we need a time out.

I meditate and meditate and work on my psyche. Its the only thing that keeps me calm enough to keep slogging through the improvements and growth to some day break my hand through the surface of the water and give the signal, “I’m drowning!”

I write this while breathing deeply. I’m soaking in the tub loaded up with baking soda and epson salt. I’m trying to sweat out the toxic cocktail of stress hormones, cortisol and more.

They do not help me hold it together. Cortisol is my enemy. It drives me like a cave man to ‘Get up and fix the problem asshole!’ And like a caveman, or at least like we imagine a caveman, its using all the wrong skills and tools. 

The caveman in me wants to clean or fix things that don’t matter. It wants to declutter and throw things out in preparation for a retreat.

It’s not useful at all at fueling the actual work that is paying off December’s bills.

So I’m trying to soak it out. I need clarity so that I can solve a challenge for a client’s IMDB profile. 

I need to get an invoice out to another client also. I have been helping her get some interesting results and traction for her podcasting project. And I’m not feeling terribly appreciated. 

I’ve done probably a dozen or more hours of work for free on her project. I don’t think she even believes in her own project at this point. 

I do. I can see the path towards her success. I can help her get there. I’m trying to help her get there.

I tell myself if I can help her, it might give me the great example I need for a case study, something that might help me generate more business from clients like her. 

Except maybe they’ll appreciate me and pay for the extra hours.

Or maybe I’ll learn just enough from this where I will be able to achieve the results with a more elegant formulae, no extra hours needed. 

I feel like a gambler that sees every near miss as a win. I recognize this feeling, and there’s not much I can do about it.

I have to pull the lever one more time, because I don’t have any other levers to pull.  It’s my one and only machine that’s paying anything.

I can even see that its paying more, about 4% more than last year even.

A 4% raise on top of too little to pay the bills and cover extra expenses isn’t very satisfactory of a thing.

I build my mouse trap better every week, every month, every year.  At any moment, it could be the moment when things start to zing.

And then I step back and look at the mouse trap and realize its no where even as good as the mousetraps I make for any of my clients.

Deep breaths.

I have something that grew on my shoulder late last November. It feels like a knot in my shoulder at times. I’m getting a biopsy in a week or so.

It too makes me want to fly away.

It’s probably nothing and yet its still there.

Maybe its a mini me, probably nothing and yet still here.

More deep breaths.

My story has no beginning and no endings yet.  

Its just a whole lot of spirals in the middle.

Even if I did take flight, I’d probably just be stuck in a holding pattern myself, spiraling round and round and never quite landing.

So I stay and fight.

Consequences and Boundaries Ep 08 Boundaries Series

Continuing on from Episode 7 where we discussed Emotionally Managing Expectations, today we talk tie it all together and start to look at consequences.

Boundaries imply a consequence. If someone crosses this point, a sequence of events will unfold.  

The point of a healthy boundary is not to control someone else. it is simply a way that we communicate the choices we will make following an event or sequence of events.

So we’ve talked about witnessing the actions of people on social media without taking on emotions for their perceived failure to meet ‘our’ expectations of them.

We can be objective and we can still enforce healthy boundaries, even when we observe hate speech or racist activity.

Nothing about this is easy. 

However, we can learn to witness and act. We can choose to set and communicate healthy boundaries too. We can also simply act without communicating.  We have free will and no obligation to telegraph our actions.

Healthy boundaries with people that we DO have relations with can include communicating our intent.

‘Scrapes’

My tale of surviving a ‘scrape’ when I was seven years old.
Each Monday, I will share a personal story, working from prompts from my local Storytelling group.


The write up… (2.0 after a new edit. have not updated audio yet)

In 46 years, I have never experienced more clarity than when I was seven years old. I’m talking the level of self-knowing that merges 10 millennia of soul experience.

It yields crystal clear understanding.

It is the kind of knowing that makes our soul speak, “I’ve been here before, and I can’t believe I made this mistake again.”

I found myself lying in a pile of construction rubble at the end of an unfinished street, bleeding to death.

That’s when the clarity showed up, followed by a sigh of self-disgust and a bit of pain.

Guilt, shame, doubt, fear weighed equally in my mind and all cast votes confirming my mistake…

It was all going so well.

I had started a hundred feet away. I recall my little brother of five years, observing off to the side. I had the end of the unfinished street lined up in front of me.

I heaved up and pushed the pedal over. The first rounding push for a seven year old on a new bike.

That’s ALWAYS the toughest.

This bike was fast. It was light. It was infinitely lighter than my former Evil Keneival bike. That old bike was loaded down with extra steel. It was heavy with plastic to decorate the bicycle. It had had extra larger tires making it look like the soaring god’s motorcycle too.

It was gone.
It was replaced with this new, brown, golden bike.

It had a new smell from the foam guard on the handle bars. It made me a little queasy, even today as I remember it. It was some chemical smell that got worse in the heat of the sun and never quite wore off the entire time I owned it.

It was probably a mix of petroleum, PCBs, maybe left over Agent Orange. It will probably haunt me in my hundred and twenties.

“By the way, have you heard that there are children being born right now that will likely live until their one hundred and forties?”

My right leg, my starting leg, reached the bottom of the arc with my left leg at the top and then my right leg was up completing the first revolution.

The second and third were notable rotations too, not for the minute force coming from my chicken leg-thighs. It was in fact impressive because there was measurable velocity, an increase in speed.

After that I lasered in on the target, losing track of the revolutions over and over. My confidence was up there; it was more ‘comfortable’ than ‘high’.

I was in the flow. I had done this now an almost uncountable number of times for a seven year old boy. Was it 1000? Was it 100? Was it 10? At least 5? Probably more like 3!

I was flying. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I was going faster than the other time or two.

The first run had been practice. It was an exploration of the imagination and of what was possible. Plus it was a little exploration of the geography, knocking aside loose rocks.

On the second run, I acquired a terminal velocity allowing my physical body to leave the earth. It lasted from a quarter to a half of a second.

Now, As my feet rolled in circles, I knew this was different. I had attained a level of speed entirely new. Sure I had experienced greater speeds managed and controlled by others. This was different.

I had created this speed. I was controlling this speed.

I was five feet away. I rolled up the gravel slope leaving the new blacktop behind. I could feel the perfect arc of the slope curving my wheels, my bike and myself. All one together, I moved up and up like a rocket ship on a railgun. I curved towards the heavens.

At the top of the slope, the mound rolled the other way, curving off the top and lending my ‘oneness’ with my bike to level out.

I was flying parallel with the stratosphere now.

This was not like my previous attempts.

This time, I did not roll up and over and down the slope on the far side.

This time, I did not briefly lift off, just missing the top and nestle down into the far slope bringing me to earth.

This time, I was free of such things.
I was flying three feet, five feet, past the length of the construction mound entirely.

I was flying seven feet, ten feet and over the loose construction gravel that had washed from the base of the mound.

My moment of clarity was not yet at hand though.

Yes I was free.
Yes I was flying, and Yes I was in control!

And then I wasn’t. I was no longer flying perfectly verticle. I was askew. I was sort of sideways, my bike was sideways with me. We were not ‘one’ anymore.

This was not right, not even close.

Afterall, wheels and nobby tires were needed to cushion my landing. They should grab terra firma and allow me to press upon my peddles in reverse. I would lock up Bendix brakes skidding yards & creating a Nike shaped swoosh in the dirt.

No, I was in trouble. I was all tangled up. I was in a panic. I was going down. I remember flashing images of parts of the bike, of round creek rocks, dust and pea gravel covering blacktop.

There’s no satisfaction landing on round rocks shaped like marbles.

Even worse, some of these marbles were jagged and hot. It was summer or June, or maybe May in the midwest.

I’ll never know what it was BUT something got me. Something was working hard to end me.

I was floundering, bouncing, sliding, and trying to right this new world of chaos. I settled.

Then, I was up. And I was hobbling. And I was scared. And I was crying. And I didn’t know what was wrong. And my systems were not all back online. And I didn’t even know what a ‘system’ was!

That’s when I saw it and I went down again. It looked like it was squirting, gushing, maybe more oozing out of my ankle.

My foot was severed!

Well, not quite severed, but almost cut off, or deep enough to see into the bone, or see pale, bloodless scraped skin that shielded the bone below it. Plus I had cuts and gravel in cuts on my ankle, knees and hands.

The scrape on the ankle was the worst, even if the foot WAS still attached. It was bad.

My hands hurt with scrapes on the palms as well. My brother came running towards me, scared maybe as much as I was.

Because with this much blood, the reality of my situation was just settling into my brain. I was bleeding to death.
Even worse!

This much blood would mean trouble. Trouble of the kind measured in stitches? spankings? groundings? loss of new bicycles? loss of territory and my ability to roam outside of my back yard? worse yet, a ‘scolding’.

I was in that moment where you remember every stupid mistake your soul has ever made. Then add to that every stupid mistake your soul will ever make.
I knew each one in the ‘now’ like a Zen Master.
I felt with all of my being several things at once.

  • ●  I had gotten myself into this scrape taking things past a dangerous limit.
  • ●  I had gotten myself this avoidable injury.

● I would get more pain from stitches or scoldings or the dreaded ‘monkey’s blood aka Mecuricome’. It would soon coat my wounds to protect them from infection, and it would burn.

I crawled over to my new bike. It had a new small tear in the back of the vinyl seat cover.

I inched up and hobbled my bike for a couple hundred feet towards home. The bike’s sweet sickly chemical smell mixed with my fear and blood and dried up tears.

If I was going to lose my bike, might as well ride it out of the scene one last time. So I hopped on heading for home.

I was working up a new batch of tears. These were the tears of fear. They are the defensive weapon of choice for all children. Kids do not truly understand what these tears of fear will illicit in the adult essence of a human they call Mom or Dad.

They come unbidden to any child caught in a stupid act facing the future wrath of worried parents.

I arrived home with my little brother blazing a faster path, cutting in front of me as we rolled into the driveway.

He was riding a bike matching my own. They were a pair. His bike would be easy to identify in the future with its unmarred seat lowered a couple inches below my own.

He jumped off his bike, dropping it to the ground and breaking a rule, yelling, “Brett’s hurt, Brett’s bleeding.”

Now, I owe him for that.
I didn’t even realize this debt was still outstanding until I set out to capture these words.

I remembered all the details and his actions. But I did not note the debt at the time.

My moment of clarity had passed by then. I mentally rolled into the void of unknown fear. It was fear of stitches, of monkey’s blood, and of recriminations. A harsh look being terrible and verbal lashings being the worst possible scenario.

My brother’s words served to be the alchemy that pulled it all together though. He was the hero of that day.

My tears were flowing but his affirmation, that blood flowed too, prompted audible sobs in me.

Now, Sobs plus blood

plus the magical words that someone is bleeding,

This magical combination grants a temporary safe harbor.

Screen doors flew open and I do not recall who, my Dad, probably my Mom, came running through the door.

Then I was in the small new bathroom of our new house. The sink was running and the death sentence was finally pronounced.

It was the type of sentence that brings relief but it doesn’t matter anyway as the result is just as fatal…

“You won’t need stitches, so lets put some monkey’s blood on it and then get you a bandaid.”

Oh, ironic fate, everyone knew that monkey’s blood burned!

Later, yes, the recriminations came. I paid for my crimes against my body. I paid for being thoughtless and stupid.

I might have been grounded from returning to the mounds of construction gravel for a week or two.

Fast forwarding through my life…

I relived this experience many times, first as a kid and then as a teenager and you guessed it, even as an adult.

Each scenario was slightly different. The tears and the escape home generally didn’t happen. No one willingly chases after monkey’s blood after all.

As an adult, I bested my 10-12 foot flight into a new record that spanned an entire intersection.

I almost lost my foot for real that time, but that’s another tale.

In every scenario, I became one with my past and present. Each time the familiar clarity of having gotten myself into a stupid scrape welcomed me with a hug.


Is a Happily Even After Relationship Possible?

I’ve recently completed the Conscious Uncoupling process. What follows, my understanding or lack there of are not a reflection of the lessons taught, how they were taught etc.

What follows is my pause. It includes my consideration during the pause of several fundamental things.

The Conscious Uncoupling process helps us to come into awareness that we can be happy  after the end of a relationship or marriage, and instead of clinging to the idea of ‘Happily ever after’ we side step into the new necessity of working to live Happily even after the end of a relationship.

That was a wonderful mind opener for me as I ended a three year relationship recently. It was a much more positive potential than the experience of ending a twenty three year marriage had been once upon a time in my past.

Walking through the process of Conscious Uncoupling, a healthy and loving way of letting go, helped me heal and grow from the most recent relationship and from many relationships that had ended long before this recent one.

I found myself growing closer to my newest former girlfriend, who simultaneously but separately was working through the Conscious Uncoupling process too.

How does a couple Consciously Uncouple separately?

In our case, I read the book and worked through the exercises. She did the same.  We sometimes but definitely not always, shared some notes, or worked through some perspectives together.  In our case, we did not see a coach or seek Conscious Uncoupling counseling together, nor did we actively do the lessons together.

We did a lot of healing. We let go of a lot of baggage that we had gathered during or maybe before our relationship.

The vitriol that crept in to the final days of our relationship, and fueled the mutual decision to end the relationship had evaporated. We dealt with each other with respectful intent, love for ourselves first and love towards each other where that did not conflict with love for ourselves and our new paths.

We discovered that we were at a place in life where our previous relationship just didn’t work based on the things we needed in life in general. There were a few things on an interpersonal level that were not working.

On the whole, I personally could see many of the positives and the reasons why I had fallen in love with this person.  I could and still do see some of the things that crossed boundaries I requested, that could not or would not be agreed to. I believe I have heard that she still sees similar things from me, things I cannot or will not do.

The love is still real.

And then I came to the big question…. (We both probably did).

What does our happily even after relationship look like?

This is all new territory for me. I’ll add that I am friends or Facebook friends with many but not all former partners in my life.  There are a few that I have simply never regained contact with as the end of our relationships happened decades before Facebook.

I have no ill will and feel friendly or loving towards the women who were part of my past.

I have never had a sexual relationship with a former lover once our relationship ended.

There is an intellectual side of me that has read too much science fiction that understands the concept of friends with benefits. There is also the wiser side of me that has loved and lost and lived and healed and grown that currently does not view that type of thing as part of my likely future.

I generally look and want a deep and connected loving relationship.

I definitely found that in my most recent relationship.

And now that’s over, so what do we do with what we have left?

I haven’t a clue. I’m writing to process through this a bit. I’m a bit stuck as to where to go, and I need to process this through further. I’m happy to entertain conversation, thoughts, criticism, new ideas, new perspectives etc.

I do not know. I do not know what I do not know. I have time and space to figure it out too.

Breaking down the concepts of a Happily Even After Relationship

These concepts are emotionally loaded and for good reason.  ‘Even’ is an attempt to reframe the word ‘Ever’. It changes world views from the black and white of you are either sad and lonely for ever or you are happily together for ever after into a happy, healthy gray area.

The dialectic kicks in and we go from having an either or choice to a third choice that is really a range of choices.

Choices help us find hope. Hope gives us something to try and a new life can open up and grow from there.

In my experience, we may not actually ‘heal’ from a break up. Our hearts to do not mend and grow over. That pain, that hole in our heart is and will always be there due to the loss of the person that is no longer in our life.

Instead, we grow. Our hearts and ability to love grow. What seems like a big wound to our heart, becomes proportionally smaller. The wound is not smaller. Our hearts grow bigger. We gain the ability to love another or others in general.

My heart still aches for the girl I had to say good bye to when I was 18 and leaving my hometown for the military.  I’m 46 today and that was 28 years ago.

My heart still aches for my wife of 23 years. It has been about four years since our marriage ended.

My heart hurts with the recent loss of my love of the last three years.

And this time, I’m wise enough for the first time in my life to be conscious of the reality that my heart will grow larger and these hurts will proportionately inflict less pain.

So I’ve got that going for me.  🙂

Relationships?

So I’m in this new phase where I do not know what type of relationship I will have with my former love.

The definition per google of a relationship

  • the way in which two or more concepts, objects, or people are connected, or the state of being connected.
  • the state of being connected by blood or marriage.
  • the way in which two or more people or organizations regard and behave toward each other.

Connection, regard, behavior

These three words stand out the most out of these definitions. I feel and digitally speaking I am still connected with my former love.

I have a very high regard for her. I love her. I am doing my best to behave with kindness and respect and even a helpfulness as we work together to continue disconnecting from the relationship we just had.

Keeping things in balance, I am aware of some of her personality flaws. She knows many of mine as well. We opened up, we shared and trusted each other to be heard. We did our best to build a healthy relationship that was not built on bullshit.

I am all too familiar with some of her behaviors that hurt me or drove me to the conclusion that I could not stay in a relationship with her. I asked for boundaries to be set and she weighed those requests and decided that it did not serve her to agree and follow them. Likewise I did the same for some of her boundary requests.

She now lives a couple hours away. Our relationship started up as a long distance relationship.

Temptations to Repeat

So after a couple months of letting go of pain and anger and growing a little more connected, some of the seeds that we originally built our relationship on are reset.

I’m not going to lie. It is early in this break up process and I can see and feel some temptations to try to rekindle something of what we once had.

And

As recently as yesterday, I experienced some of the pain of what became of that relationship and the boundaries that cannot be met.

A New Positive Relationship of what form?

When we humans choose to ‘enter into a relationship’ the what and the how usually have significance. Our choices as to the type or stage of a relationship matters.

It drives how we connect, what level we might connect, how we regard the other person, and how we behave towards the other person.

How physically close people get are a result of the nature of the relationship.

How often people communicate stems from the form.

The words we choose and the topics we talk about might also stem from the form.

“A new opportunity does not mean A New Hope” ~ Obi Wan Kenobe

We could be just friends. We might just be facebook friends, liking and sometimes commenting on things.

We could be hiking buddies.

We could be platonically connected in many ways.

With two hours of distance between us, we’ll likely not run into each other without coordination.

We could choose to do nothing and let the connection and the friendship wither on the vine so to speak. We could slowly or quickly go our own separate ways, taking the individual lessons from our time together and moving on.

At forty-six, that feels a bit wasteful to me.

Personally, I’m tired of letting people go. I’m looking for more connection not less. This is a disconnecting world in many ways right now.

And yet, I’m not sure where this will go. I can go on and I can be happily even after. I believe that she can go on and I feel she can be happily even after too (not putting words in her mouth, but I feel she has this potential.)

The question remains, can we find some new type of Happily Even After Relationship?

We do not have blood ties in terms of family. We do not have many financial ties remaining, or that will remain for too much longer.

We’re in this place where if we want to have a Happily Even After Relationship, we have to invent what form that will take and then make it.

And so far, the epiphany has not struck me. She is asking others as well for advice and perspective.

I’ve read of former relationships where people stayed connected as friends, as business partners, as coparents, as acquaintances and even roommates and other things.

I haven’t happened upon the concept of the form that feels like the fit yet. I’m open and looking and part of me suspects that time may help or time may wash away the sand castle on the beach and the connection might simply fade back into the sea.

Thank you for listening. I’d love it if you shared a reaction, idea or perspective, but mostly and simply grateful that you have come this far with me.

Holding Space – Different Phases of life

Inspiration

I am working through some of my understanding of holding space for others. I do not know what I do not know. This writing should not be viewed as a guide or teaching.

I have observed recently through personal encounters and multiple Meetup group and support group meetings that people hold space differently depending on the phase of life that they are in and the phase of life of the person they are listening.

This is very marked between adults and children and can be very marked between people of different levels of age, phases of life and more.

The ideal of holding space and hearing to understand someone’s feelings, maybe as they share a painful feeling might not require doing things differently.

And it does.

To listen, we have to communicate well enough to understand, seek clarity about the concepts being expressed and gather feedback to insure we are hearing correctly and if hearing correctly maybe also to gauge if we are listening deeply enough to understand.

I have a daughter with special needs and it can be challenging for me to hold space for her.

I do not always here her words due to volume or enunciation. She can get frustrated with me if I fail to hear and she dislikes repeating herself and never actually increases the volume of her words.

I have witnessed others, close family members and friends struggle with only listening deeply.

It is common for them to try to end the pain and jump into fixing mode, the opposite of holding space.

I have witnessed people in support groups also attempt to jump to fixing other people, especially when the emotions shared include anger. It seems easier for people to hold space for sadness for example, and not as easy to hold space for people experiencing anger.

What is holding space?

“Holding space is the process of witnessing and validating someone else’s emotional state while simultaneously being present to your own.” ~ Connor Beaton

There are multiple steps with holding space. The person holding space, needs to be and remain grounded. They listen without trying to fix; listen to understand.

The person doing the holding does not take on the pain of the person they are in the trenches with, the holder is there to listen deeply not do the fight or take the pain for or from someone.

Why is it so hard to hold space for someone?

“Do not try to change anything, and resist the urge to do anything. You are only creating a safe space for the other person to express and feel their feelings.” ~ GoodTherapy.org

What stages is the space holder adept at? What stage is the space holdee in currently?

As part of the getting and staying grounded process, I feel like people holding space might need to perform an inner diagnostics review on their own ability to hold space.

It might help for them to acknowledge what phase of life are they in and which phases of life have they lived through?

For example, I have no experience living as a sixty year old woman nor a ninety year old man.

I can potentially hold space for a person of a greater age than myself and before doing so acknowledge that my life experiences might be inadequate to hear as deeply as they might need.

It might be possible though that I may have had a great deal of experience with people in specific phases of life. Even if I have not lived that phase, I might have experience holding space for others of that phase.

Knowing our strengths, weaknesses and working with/on each

This type of experience might even be a strength or the lack there of might be a weakness.

Knowing where our strengths or weaknesses are might help us to hold the space more effectively.

Stepping Aside when the pain gets in

Anyone that attempts to hold space for others will sooner or later slip up.

They will accidentally take on some of that pain, some of the feeling being shared will cross a boundary.

All of us that would hold space need to be aware of this potential and ready to act.

Ideally, we would re-ground ourselves and diffuse those feelings that are not our own, let them go.

If we do not, our next stage of defense is to speak up and step aside.

Pardon me, I need to take a personal moment.

Do something to create space and come back to ourselves.

There will be times when some people who are having space held for them, they will not always want to let go.

Sometimes in the midst of their pains, they might even unconsciously push their pain on others or attempt it.

We need to establish safe boundaries for ourselves when holding space in this circumstance. Be safe, ground, step away if necessary.

Taking on someone else’s pain, pain that is not our own, it only amplifies, multiplies (literally) the pain and a faux or duplicate pain at that.

But I don’t want to work my shit, again

I am working my shit.

When I woke up this morning, serendipity lobbed me a soft easy pitch of an article about mirroring and its impact on relationships.

I simply wanted to roll out of bed and get hopping. This is a crunch day for me in several ways.

Its been a great week so far, and I have some important milestones that I have to hit today.

Even as I write this on my quick lunch break, I’ve already achieved one. I have a couple more to hit, even though in a worst case scenario, one is enough today.

These are the anxious thoughts sort of running through my head, and the last thing I want to do is traipse down the rabbit hole of things like

Why did my recent relationship end?

And yet, I need to work my shit.

And the voice in my head is saying ‘not today’ there are other priorities today.

And my mental processor is already cranking into gear and warning signal idiot lights are flashing

EPIPHANY!!!   EPIPHANY!!! EPIPHANY!!! EPIPHANY!!!

So I make a mental note of it and try and go about my day.

That’s not how Working your shit works!

First, you can’t work your shit until you own your shit.

No matter how good the epiphany is, no matter how enlightening it is, you have to do something with it.

If an epiphany strikes you in the woods and you don’t make a sound, its as if it never happened.

We have to work these epiphanies.

We have to work our shit.

We have to stand up and speak them and claim them and say, this is my shit. I own it.

Then we have to work it into something less worse than the shit it started out as.

Public Praise, Private Criticism

There is an interesting concept in interacting with people. Its the concept that when we praise people, we should do this publicly (when possible) and when we offer up compassionate criticism, we should do this privately(when possible).

There are exceptions to this, such as in a management dynamic, a ‘boss’ or manager should invite public criticism.

Similarly, Tony Robbins makes a terrific case for publicly firing a bad client.

Conscious Uncoupling and untangling My Shit from Hers

Ok, so this is the shit I am currently working.

and

I do not know what I do not know.

and

I do know that if I publicly attempt to untangle my shit from hers, that will not serve either of us. We are working to compassionately disconnect, mindfully end our relationship while feeling what we have to feel.

Did I mention that I do not know, what I do not know?

So I’m working to work ‘only’ my shit as best I can. I’m also working to learn more about the Conscious Uncoupling process (books in the mail, arrives any day now.)

I have worked through my epiphany in a private support group. It has helped, and at the same time, this epiphany as to the new why…

Well that is simply distracting.

It brings up in me feelings of what ‘could have been’ if only this or if only that.

The truth for me is that I have a new beed on the Why.  And I have no idea what to do about that why and if there is anything I can do.

Part of the why touches on the core of who I am, not my shadow or my darker issues… This epiphany touches on the light and sometimes, even our light can result in a shadow response from others.

Let me server up an analogy.

We could and do have a massive ball of fusion and fire and light shining in our solar system, and that light can be shaded and colored by a lens or a filter like sun glasses into many other types of light that are not as bright.

Well that can happen with people too.

Our light can be filtered and even distorted like a mirage by someone else as they filter that light through their own lens. Like a mirage, they might see something that is better than it really is or they might see something worse than it really is.

Like a light that shines on someones hands as they make shadow puppets on a wall, when our light shines on someone else and it casts their shadow on a wall, they might freak the hell out or over time grow to resent the light that brings this shadow into focus.

This can go both ways in a relationship. It can even go both ways at the same time.

The Question I’m asking myself

Do we have to find that perfect person that casts no shadow to be happy? (answer is self evident, there is no perfect person)

or

Do we need to find a way to evolve our relationship to a place where we can dim our light to help the other ground hog avoid their shadow? (answer is self evident, this is the path to codependent behaviors)

or

Do we personally have to find a way to accept the shadow that is cast by the beings of light around us, and work what we can work and trust that they will work what they can work? (answer is self evident and yes. Anything less is controlling.)

and

Are there other questions???

I’m just one person and I’ve already mentioned that I don’t understand Breakups.