Monday, April 30, 2012

If I Feel That Way Again...

After hitting a wall two weeks ago, and really digging deep, giving myself permission to feel the pain of loss (GaGa), and lack of control (skin cancer), my outlook brightened.  I went to therapy and commented how my mood was better after going through the deep ugly cry, and getting it out the week before.  My therapist said allowing those feelings out was the precursor to being in the more pleasant place I was in currently.  I said something about maybe feeling those low feelings again in the future.

My therapist responded, WHEN you feel that way again.

I just chuckled.  The desperate desire to not feel those deep dark painful feelings remains! but now I can laugh at myself because I forget.  There is no place to go to escape the highs and lows.  I cannot wake up and feel "good" each day.  I have to ride the roller coaster of emotions which make up life.  It is getting a little easier bit by bit to accept those low feelings WHEN they come around.

I also had been thinking about my eldest daughter.  She has a multitude of feelings about being left out with her friends at school.  I hear about this frequently.  It hit me that she has to learn to process these uncomfortable feelings of hers, just like I do.   There is something in me as a mother, who wants her to not feel any pain BUT, and this is the biggest BUT of all, we all have to live with the ups and downs of life.   Wouldn't it be a fantastic lesson for her and my youngest to learn it now?!  I can't take away her pain but I can guide her in acceptance at a nine year old level.  And probably the best way is by example.  When I'm tired, I rest.  When I need to cry, I don't hide it.  When I'm excited, I show it.  When I'm frustrated, explain why.  When I'm joyful, dance.  My daughters are watching every move I make.  And pretty much every day I learn something new.

I'm so glad we can afford for me to go to therapy. {big smile}

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Stitches and Sadness

I hit a wall last week.  I was tired all week as my sleep had been interrupted on several occasion with kids playing musical beds and snoring.  The kids had also been out for Easter the week before.  George had been on call for Easter weekend again out of the usual call order, and it was our first holiday without GaGa.  Tuesday, I was exhausted and zombie like.  Losing sleep is hard.

Contributing to the malaise was another procedure on Monday at the Dermatalogist's office.  A larger mole area needed to be removed from a previous biopsy because it revealed moderately atypical cells.  This time I have four stitches on my behind.  After being numbed and cut on for the fourth time since November, it's getting old.  When I'm not tired, I know that this is the course to take because of the melanoma.  

Prior to last week, we received a letter from The Hospice of Baton Rouge, and it contained a summary of "Natural and Normal Grief Responses." I immediately dismissed it, because you know, I am above grief.  {big smile} There's that ego, been there, done that.  After several days of this tiredness, lacking energy and motivation, and sadness,  I took a second look at that grief response list.  There were a couple of items listed that stood out: feeling emotionally numb, feeling restless and finding it difficult to concentrate, feeling exhausted, lacking energy, not being able to make decisions.  Well, we might be on to something here.

What I was hoping is I had grieved it all before she died because it had been such a long journey. Which translates to "I didn't want to feel more sadness, or cry anymore and I'm tired of feeling "negative" emotions."  (I call them negative emotions to differentiate between the easier feelings to go through.  I have to wrap my arms around ALL feelings because they just are and pushing feelings down is detrimental to me)

I looked up the Stages of Grief.  The first is shock and denial.  When I read it, I just started laughing at myself.  I was in such denial that I would have to feel more pain.  Stage 2 is: As the shock wears off, it is replaced with the suffering of unbelievable pain. Although excruciating and almost unbearable, it is important that you experience the pain fully, and not hide it, avoid it or escape from it with alcohol or drugs.  (or food...)

I'm giving myself permission to grieve now,  I cannot pretend that all is fine, and I'm above it.  Being in grief, also means I am more vulnerable to my other triggers.  The people, situations, and thought patterns that I have worked through are coming around again to visit.  It helps to remember; I'm in grief, be kind to myself, the pain will flow through.

"You give yourself permission to grieve by recognizing the need for grieving. Grieving is the natural way of working through the loss of a love. Grieving is not weakness nor absence of faith. Grieving is as natural as crying when you are hurt, sleeping when you are tired or sneezing when your nose itches. It is nature's way of healing a broken heart." - Doug Manning

"To spare oneself from grief at all cost can be achieved only at the price of total detachment, which  excludes the ability to experience happiness" Erich Fromm

"While grief is fresh, every attempt to divert only irritates.  You must wait till it be digested, and then amusement will dissipate the remains of it." Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

~~~It is amazing when I find a quote from 300 years ago that speaks to exactly what I'm feeling~~~

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

At Home In The Fringe

The Methodist church I attend has a Center for Spirituality (sounded so woo woo to me a few years ago, not so much anymore) and I have been moseying over during our Sunday School hour for the last few months. When I walk in and sit down with these ladies (and a man or two), I feel at home. Feeling at home is sacred to me now because I recognize it. Everything that is brought up and discussed is music to my ears. On a few Sundays, I was verklempt like therapy - like good group therapy which I have never done,  just studied about in my Masters classes. As I have been passionately pursuing all things healing for my inner self, attending this class has been an unexpected bonus, right in my own backyard.

The book we are currently reading is Richard Rohr's Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps. I am fairly giddy aobut this topic. I attended a 2 day workshop of his last year and I sat transfixed to what he was saying...for six hours. I wrote about it at the time as THE best revival I had ever attended. And I have post traumatic stress from revivals I attended in my youth.

Father Rohr puts together ideas that do not seem to go together. As a Franciscan Priest, he is on the fringe of the Catholic church from what I'm told and barely hanging on and I like this about him. As you learn the deep truths of your life, your authentic self, being on the fringe is not the scary place that I thought it use to be. My faith is in a loving God and I feel his warmth all the time now and I don't live in fear of his retribution. And feeling that loving God up close and personal now makes me want to act in a loving manner towards the "least of these."

From the introduction of Breathing Under Water: "We cannot stop the drowning water of our addictive culture from rising, but we must a least see our reality for what it is, seek to properly detach from it, and build 'a coral castle and learn to breathe under water.' The New Testament called it salvation or enlightenment, the twelve step program called it recovery."

I embarked on a journey to find out why I couldn't lose weight and keep it off. I knew it was something deep, yet I had no idea in the process that I would embrace the concepts of codependency or Twelve Step ideas, and become closer to God.

Therapy led me closer to God!

I never would have put counseling therapy and God together because maybe no one I knew did it, or in my mind they were completely separate. Now I see God and the holy spirit everywhere, including in myself.

This is what healing is all about. Bring on the fringe. I feel so at home in the fringe.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Learning to Golightly, One Emotional Mess at a Time

This morning I had the most uncomfortable feelings. I wanted to escape myself.

I really wanted to escape myself.

I wanted to run and hide from the agitation, the frustration, the anger, and the despair. I have been through this before and I will go through it again. I have learned that the feelings will move through eventually. Each time it happens to this magnitude, my sense is that it will never end. It feels like it will NEVER end. These are the types of feelings that I didn't allow myself to feel but ate through mindlessly on a daily basis. I pushed them down and used food to numb the pain, the anxiety, the angst and even unbelievably excitement. I did not know how to feel despair nor joy, the two ends of the emotional spectrum.

The problem with stuffing myself (or any compulsive activity that we humans engage in to avoid feeling) is those feelings stay buried and fester. As I journey to go lightly, to be more emotionally, physically and mentally healthy, I have embarked on having these feelings rise up and out. Therapy has dug up really old deep hurts and released them to a more tolerable level. Yoga has released them. I've learned when I laid on the massage table this week and felt tears come to my eyes, massage is a releaser. Normally, I would ask the professional, "Does this usually happen?" But, I didn't have to ask. I did not need verification, I've been on this journey a while and I am starting to be very familiar with myself. {smile}

Another difference today, dear reader, is that I can write this blog and not feel compulsed to explain why I was a mess this morning. I just was. The feelings just were. My feelings are neither right nor wrong. They just are. I am truly beginning to understand this truth expressed by my therapist so long ago when I had no clue as to what she was talking about. Being right or wrong was very imperative back then.

Now I understand it more fully, one aha moment at a time.

I am fine just as I am, and actually quite wonderful. I don't have to justify my actions, my thoughts, my views, my weight, my religion to anyone. I can be who I am, just as I am, just as my creator made me. Wow!

That is so incredibly freeing.

The first time I wrote this I had tears in my eyes and now I have a positive affirmation. Hot mess to positive affirmation all in a day's time, that is going lightly.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Going With The Flow

I have been feeling very blah lately. My therapist says that I like to figure out why because that is who I am. Yet maybe I need to try something else? Is this a way of trying to control "negative" feelings, or to judge myself whether I should be feeling bad about anything, instead of meeting the feelings with kindness and wonder and letting them flow through? I have always felt the need to rationalize my feelings and it impedes them flowing through.

The facts: My mother in law, my ally, died one month ago after a long harrowing bout with cancer.
In December, I found out I had Melanoma In Situ on my lower leg which is clear now.
Summer is approaching and I will lose my sacred alone time which rejuvenates my soul so much.

My friend Karen C L Anderson who has written a book and a blog, "Before and After: A Real Life Story" recently posted Michael J. Fox's quote from this past Sunday's Parade section. “I don’t look at life as a battle or as a fight. I don’t think I’m scrappy. I’m accepting. I say ‘living with’ or ‘working through’ Parkinson’s. Acceptance doesn’t mean resignation – it means understanding that something is what it is and that there’s got to be a way through it. I look at it like I’m a fluid that’s finding the fissures and cracks and flowing through.”

I love how he puts this. It encapsulates my journey "To Golightly." Acceptance is the first step. Acceptance of my past and who shaped me, and the untrue stories I carried about myself, of the people around me, and acceptance of who I authentically am. Life is fluid, and that old saying to go with the flow makes sense now in a way that I could never have fathomed.  

This past weekend, George mentioned to me that it might be feasible in our future, to buy another house. We visited this nearly 3 years ago and did not go through with it. I jump on this new house hunting idea like white on rice. Weeks prior, while riding my bike in the back of the neighborhood I noticed that a house was on the market which started my mind going. It was just a bit bigger with the perfect layout (upstairs bonus room for the kids, office space for George and TWO computer nooks to hide my messy office) By Sunday, I had called the realtor to look at it, and contacted another friend to find out the value of our home. This dream house was under contract but that didn't stop me, I began a strategic search of homes for sale in our price range and area on the internet. We did go and look at one house that afternoon in a nearby neighborhood.  An adrenaline of excitement was flowing for the first time in a while.

That evening in bed, we discussed the house and mutually agreed that we should not start this endeavor, as it is so much work. GaGa just died and we need time to process. It has been a long year plus. We are tired. I now understand the truth about not making big decisions after losing important persons in your life.

I had a judgement of myself going on about this process and my desire to get a little more space. I run it over in my head whether it's a good idea to leave this fantastic location, or just stay put and upgrade our current home, etc. And then it occurred to me that I really enjoy looking at houses online and in person. And bottom line, there hasn't been much fun, or many planned joyful activities of late. Seriously, not much fun at all. I watched a loved one very painfully shrink to nothing over a two year period and we all suffered. I was diagnosed with skin cancer for gosh shakes. I NEED SOME FUN! If dreaming about potential future homes is fun, then I should not judge it and just enjoy it and dream yet move slowly and thoughtfully.

So for now, I will accept GaGa's death and the feelings that come my way, my blahness and also that I enjoy looking at houses online. I will go with the flow knowing that there is a way through.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

My Friends: SPF and Rashguards

I went in last week for my three month mole check after my diagnosis of melanoma at the end of November. I have three fresh new scars. I'm awaiting the results of three moles that were questionable. I knew this was likely. I would much rather have them taken off and tested when the only treatment for this cancer is to keep hacking off tissue to get clean margins where the mole resided.

I haven't fully accepted this melanoma diagnosis although I am reminded every day that I shave my legs. The diagnosis occurred at the beginning of December when my mother in law was dying, and it was Christmas. It happened and I was there but it hadn't sunk in. The reminder card from my Dermatology clinic came and I waited until after the burial in PA to make the appointment.

I haven't fully accepted that I have to become the sun czar for myself and my children and I need to intimately know every brown spot on my body including scalp,ears, eyes and butt cheeks. SPF, shade, rash guards and hats are my new friends and I wasn't ready to put them in my circle on such a permanent basis although I always was aware. A lot of this damage had already been done prior to my twenties.

It just takes time for the psyche to accept this new information. It's a process I believe. Having three new scars is helping me progress in this process of acceptance. But the timing is good, as the humidity and temperature is rising for ridiculously hot summer coming. I am working to get more prepared. In my early youth going to the pool was a social event, and picking out just the right swimsuit was always a part. Now I am searching Lands End for a long sleeve rash guard and skirted bottom. Times they are a changing. The point is I am alive. I have scars but I am alive.

*The results came back, and two moles were atypical, one more than the other so I will have a little more flesh removed and a couple of stitches but overall, very good news. I am grateful.