Sunday, August 7, 2016

Elements in Processing, Part Two: The Demolition Queen Bids You Adieu

My truth is not a condemnation of yours. - Cheryl Strayed

You don't need to eat all the pizza in Italy to find yourself... ask yourself what you are willing to risk or change, in order to find a sense of freedom, joy and reanimation within your own life. - Elizabeth Gilbert

She'll be coming 'round the mountain when she comes. - traditional folk song, unknown

My path is not for everyone--it's not for anyone, it's for me. I don't recommend divorce. I don't take heartbreak (mine, yours, or anyone's) lightly. Measure for measure each person has to live in his/her own life. Feeling restless is not a reason to fly. Restlessness may be a reason to hop on one foot or take a dance class or practice kundalini yoga or learn the art of beermaking or to try a new hairstyle/color/outfit. I wasn't just restless. 

When you look at your life in the quiet moments, what do you see? 
When you're alone, can you be still? 
Are you happy to spend time with yourself? 
What are you here to do? 
Who are you? 
Do you like yourself? 
Can you stop and stand firmly on the ground and look into a mirror and praise yourself, lift yourself up, love yourself, and breathe? 

My truth is not a condemnation of yours. My parenting is not yours. My love life is not yours. My childhood is not yours. I do not live inside your skin. But you have to live inside your skin. I have to live inside mine. 

I have a new house. My skin is refreshed, reinvented. I burnt my house to the ground, remember? Torched the fucker. I rebuilt, over time---it took so much time and energy and there were pitfalls and I ran backwards and tripped over the beams and hurt myself and others and cried a lot. I was frustrated and impatient, god, I was so, so patiently impatient. It was ungraceful, awkward. But the whole time, I knew. 

I didn't know the outcome of the work that I was putting in. I didn't go in to demolition mode knowing what the new, improved building of my soul would look like at the Grand Opening. I just knew that if I stopped and asked myself really hard questions and answered honestly the really hard answers all along the way, that I would be right. I would arrive. And then i would stay. 

To let something go, you have to stay. 

We have never stayed home long enough to experience the truth about ourselves. -- Enrich Schiffmann

I feel like I ate the shell of my old life and old self and that shell fortified and fostered my growth, my regeneration. I am still here. This is my journey. And my journey took another (totally unforeseen) direction. My footing is sound. I am happy and calm and sure. 

I have so many metaphors. The queen of the dragons, the queen of metaphor, the queen of demolition. The Demolition Queen bids you adieu. 

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Elements in Processing. Spinning Wheel, or Maybe Progress Bar.

It wasn't one specific day that I woke up and realized that I didn't fit into my life anymore, but that's what happened. It's not because I'd eaten too much and had grown out of my dresses (although that happened, and then didn't, and then did again). It wasn't because I married a man and became a wife (that happened.) It wasn't because I had a child and became responsible for another person's survival and well-being (although that happened, too.) 

I didn't fit into my life anymore because my life was a generic model of life, a distant, but widely accepted version of the American dream. The modern family. The life that we all move toward without question. You want this. Of course you do. Who doesn't? Only sad people and weirdos and people who are terminally depressed or homeless drug addicts don't want this. This is the good life. You have arrived.  You don't want to be a drug addict, do you? 

I wanted to believe. The modern American family was what I wanted it because I had it. I fought for that life. As I inched toward it (once I decided to quit fucking around and get "serious" about my life), I found a person to marry. A person who is kind and easy and good. I made a baby. I found a good job. I menu-planned and grocery shopped and cooked holiday dinners and threw birthday parties and anniversaries and scheduled dentist appointments. In the busy life that I lived, there was this nagging feeling, a tug inside, a voice, a dream that would bubble up to the surface and say, "whoa. whothefuckareyou? do you even like this shit? when was the last time you felt like yourself 100%?"

Once I stopped rushing through all the things that I was supposed to want and supposed to do, and looked around, I was overcome by the ohfuck,thiscan'tbeit. We have certainly taken a wrong turn somewhere, baby, where is the map? I had been striving for a normal life for so long that when I was there living in the middle of it all, I was stunned. I knew I was supposed to be happy (after all, I did it!) but I was miserable.  But that's just the thing, isn't it? When you travel toward a destination that's not truly your own, it's gravely unsatisfying when you get there. This place was not mine to reach. I wanted to be proud that I drank so much less and exercised and balanced my bank account and career and my family and my friends. But it never felt right. 

There I was in the middle of someone else's well-earned dream destination. 

It was a historical dream. A community goal. Goals teethed from my grandmother and grandfather. It was a traditional destination. A goal that most of my friends wanted to reach and were reaching left and right. That time in our lives when every person we know is getting married and/or having children and/or buying a house. 

The collective ticking off of boxes. Job. Check. Marriage. Check. House. Check. Baby. Check. Life. Check. 

In the time it took me to get there, I had changed. Grown out of the wanting of that life. I certainly didn't want things anymore. I didn't want a bigger house or a nicer car or more jewelry or finer clothes (ok, I do have a fantasy about wearing only Eileen Fisher and Sanuks). I didn't want to work more to make more money to buy more stuff. I wanted to work just enough to feed myself and my family and keep my life full of joy and not to be burdened by being the keeper of things. Things feel heavy and cumbersome and loathsome. And I hate cleaning and dusting and washing things. What a huge waste of my precious time. Time is the only thing we can never have more of. 

The life that I thought I wanted didn't serve me. It wasn't true for me. As scary as that was, it was way scarier to pretend that I wanted it. It was like l was in jeopardy of disappearing or disintegrating. If I ignored that sinking feeling, if I turned away from the truth, I would just dissolve. There would be no Heather. She would forever be lost, dusting little trinkets after working seventy hours a week to pay for her extravagant shopping trips to Nordstrom Rack and fancy Cameron Mitchell dinners.  

I didn't want to be lost forever. So, I fucked shit up. Made a big ol mess. And then spent a whole lot of time cleaning that up (ugh.) And now, I live in a very clean soul and house. I am living in my truth and working and reading and laughing and playing and loving myself, my daughter, and my friends. I'm going to bed. More later. As always. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Glass Doors: Finding Compassion in Relationships When You Are Awakening

You all have seen it happening, the riptides of my sorrow and anger and depression gave way to rebuilding and awakening and living again and again, and now again. Those dark waves tore under and over and mixed with the greatest joy of my life (at the time), my only sunlight in that tumultuous sea, my daughter, who was a source of fear/insecurity and perfect wondrous joy.  

As selfishly as I have lived my life so far, I realized today that I am still living selfishly. My compassion has grown and expanded, be sure. My selfishness has turned into disappointment because other people I love are not yet where I am. I feel, for the first time, like a missionary. I want to run around and yell, "Wake up! There is so much more to life than this."  And when my loves are not fully awake, I take that on and take it in. 

How do you tell people you love that they are walking dead? 

My impatience is my enemy. I want it all to happen now. Go. I have spent the majority of my life being impatient. As a young kid always wanting to be older. As a teenager wanting the future to come now so I could live on my own and make my own decisions.  In my 20s I just wanted a real love, a true lover and marriage and to be settled, even though I was not ready for that, I so desperately wanted it. Once I was married, I wanted the hardship of early marriage and childrearing to end and give way to the middle of marriage where everything felt settled and when your kid could make her own breakfast. Until now, I wanted to be somewhere else in my life. Always looking to that place and never looking where I presently stood. 

Now, I want everyone to wake up and be with me in this space, where for once I feel happy and light and free. Maybe this is progress? Maybe this is part of my awakening. I am not looking to the future or rushing into what's next, but I'm impatient for everyone else to come with me now. To grow instantly and meet me here. (It's funny because there are plenty of people in my life who have been "here" all along. Thankfully, they never rushed me. Growing pains, sigh.)  Why am I rushing you, as if this is a thing that could be rushed? What's my hurry? 

I don't want you to miss out, that's true. But, my hurry is simple: I don't want to be alone. I don't want to live in this new space by myself. My old fears of abandonment and being alone are still here, smaller, more tame, but those fears are like lightening bugs lighting up in the darkest night, small but very bright and flitting all over, tough to catch. Can I be ok staying here by myself and then continuing on alone? 

There are many signs of how my growth impacts me and the people in my life. My kid meditates and smudges the house when she's feeling off. She took her meditation CD to school and had them listen to it during resting time. Half of my old friends do yoga now. The other half want to (I can feel it.)  Communication has improved between me and my mama. We are all in this together. 

All of this has been swirling around in my head for awhile. And then I read Mark Nepo today: August 2 from The Book of Awakening 

We want so badly to share our innermost experience with our loved ones, but often, like the mermaid, we forget that not everyone can go where we go. Indeed, we all share this mysterious fact--that no one can go into our depth completely. We must travel there alone. It is where we commune with God.


Never was this clearer to me than when wheeling Anne, my partner of twenty years, to the operating room where she would have surgery for cancer, I went as far as I could and watched her grow smaller through the glass doors. I realized then, that whether it be our quarrel with God or with dead parents or with the limitations of our humanity, each of us must go beyond the glass doors of our experience alone. And the work of compassion is to guide our dear ones as far as we can and to be there when they return. But no one can go beyond the glass doors for us or with us.

Leave it to the call-and-response swirling energy to send me just the thing I need to read today just in time, just before I set my thoughts, words, and actions into the cast of my heart. Mark Nepo made me feel just like him and the mermaid and then I'm not alone. And yet, I can't go where you go. You can't come with me. Glass doors.

Today I will be a student, patient with myself. And then, patient with you. You will be where you are today. I will be where I am. I will love you where you are (haven't I always? My impatience is way more about me than you.)  I will hold space for you in my depths and be here when you return. I'll be the one bouncing up and down with a bottle of champagne and balloons ever so happy to see you.