Nelsonian Knowledge

I am alternating between two books right now, both from the little free library near my home. Both Sides Now was my book of choice last night mainly because I accidentally left my other book in the car and I was not in the mood to go retrieve it in my nightgown.

Both Sides Now is an enthralling read, it is the kind of book that makes you lose time because you are so in it, AND it is intensely anxiety producing for me. Last night I could feel the palpitations wanting to start, my levels of panic rising with each mini chapter I would complete.

It is a memoir that details the intimate moments of excruciating loss. Loss on a level that most of us hope and pray never to experience. Loss that we do not want to even recognize can exist because then we have to see a truth no one wants to face: if it could happen to them , to could happen to me.

This morning I woke up thinking about how I do it, the thing we all do. I sit secure in the knowledge that I am going to live to see the end of this day, that everyone I love is going to live to see the end of this day. That my health will be with me for years and years and years to come because I am only 33 and have my whole life ahead of me.

I do know better.

I have worked with individuals and families that had their lives uprooted by a new reality when death and illness came to their doorstep in unexpected ways. I have been of the front lines of a cancer diagnosis, I have been in the fox hole with the families and individuals during certain aspects of treatment, I have co-facilitated caregiver support groups for other terminal illnesses, I have experienced the fallout – sat in the emotional aftermath of loss with family members and loved ones.

I have also experienced much of this first hand in my own life with family and friends.

So I do know better.

I know better because I have sat in the hospital room with my 20 something year old family member who was about to undergo treatment when just a few days before the news came that the cancer was back. I know better because I carry the stories of a close friend who lost all her hair because of the meds she had to take, I know better because time and time again in my young life I have witnessed and experienced my own suffering stemming from this broken illusion of time, and control, and certainty in a future that none of us have ever truly been promised.

Still, I sit in my willfulness ignorance as often as possible because I am not ready, and I am not sure I ever will be ready to face the truth: All we have is now. That is all we ever have. This exact moment. That is it.

This morning I sent my husband to work with a silent prayer on my lips that the Universe will bring him home to me this evening. I prayed for this today and that everyday this will continue to happen until we are old and ready to face our mortality with many happy full years behind us. I said this silent prayer to the Universe all the while secretly knowing that there will never be a time in my life that I will feel as though I have had enough, I will always want more from life no matter my age or experience.

So I will go on making plans, and planting gardens, and dreaming dreams of things to come. I will look to the future with hope and certainty AND I will be thankful right now, this very moment, for all that I have. Love, connection, the privilege of knowing what it feels like to be wrapped in my husband’s arms, every experience I have had in this life of mine because none of it was promised, not one day, not one minute. To argue with my husband is a privilege that I take for granted while another person might be willing to give up everything to argue with a loved again. When we both return home tonight I will remember this and I will  be grateful.

Sitting with this uncomfortable reality, allowing myself to set down my willful ignorance about life’s harsh truths, makes it so clear just how truly entitled we all are every single day. One of life’s fundamental truths is that nothing is ever promised yet we walk around every moment of every day so sure of the next.

now

 

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Starting Small with my Biggest Shadow

shadow

My personal work this year has been all about embracing my shadow parts and working towards self-compassion in my dark places. It has been about as fun as it sounds, and that is to say its been no fun. No fun at all.

This work came up organically for me after a very awkward and upsetting supervision last year. I see now how everything is connected. I needed to be doing this work at exactly this time in my life so my supervisor showed up for me in a way that opened the door. Apparently that was the soul contract she and I made.

So all year one by one my shadows have been presenting themselves to me and I have been doing the work, all the while knowing exactly what I am working towards: Victim Mentality. That is the piece of me that casts the longest shadow, it is the cloth all my other shadows are cut from.

It has only been in the last month that this shadow piece has finally hit home. I mentioned this before, there is a reason we show up as the victim in our life, it is because being on the other side of it, the place of true accountability is so painful.

The universe has sent me so much support as I walk this path though and for that I am grateful.

A few weeks ago my husband and I were discussing our upcoming trip to Michigan and it was agreed that this time we would make a road trip out of it rather than fly like we normally do when we visit that part of the country. That was my husband’s compromise because I am in no way feeling up to flying right now. I am terrified to fly and I just do not have it in me. My end of the compromise was to work on my list of fears.

It is a long list. I am afraid of a lot. So we agreed to start small. Spiders and the dark. I am making good progress with my fear of the dark. Spiders are a different story. So far I have not had the opportunity to work on it because thankfully there have been no spiders in the house for sometime. That will come when it comes.

Lastly I agreed to work on my fear related to driving. That is not a small one, that is actually one of my bigger ones. It is related to a traumatic accident I was in 20 years ago that left my face permanently disfigured. None the less, I am doing my work. I have taken three road trips in the last month where I was driving, that is pretty huge for me. The first was the longest and I had a car full of people. The second was the shortest but I was completely alone which is a major anxiety trigger for me when driving, especially if I have to go on a major highway. The last one was with one other person.

Next week my husband and I will be driving to an island off the coast of Georgia to meet his parents for a long beach weekend; he has agreed to let me drive part of the way so I can continue to do this work. Essentially I am doing exposure therapy to help myself with these aspects of my PTSD. It all ties into my stepping out of victim mentality as well. My husband did not know that I am doing work around victim mentality when we made this agreement, without realizing it he helped me ease into this work with small ways in which I can step out of the role of victim.

One of the biggest pieces of my work showed up finally this last week. It has always been there but because I have been sitting in victim mentality for so long I was not able to see it. I was in denial and blaming for a very long time, anything I could do to not have to own this very painful part of my story.

Now that I am aware of it signs and symbols have been popping up all over the place. They are all showing up to support me through this. Tomorrow my husband has agreed to go with me to a lecture being held that speaks directly to what I am working on. I think it will help give me insight as I move forward. I am looking forward to it and again very grateful for his willingness to stand by through this.