Friday, April 28, 2017

Pelvic Pain Series: Part 1

I’m telling you this so that you can know that it’s possible to be happy even when things aren’t perfect. Or, even if they really suck.

I cringe a little to think I’m coming up on another anniversary of “when the pain started”. I cringe because I always hoped I would be out of pain “by now”. And I’m not yet.

So I’m at almost nine years from when I started feeling pain. It just started one day out of the blue. I was doing all my mom stuff with little kiddos wanting to go out to ride bikes with all the little kiddos in the neighborhood. And I started feeling pelvic pain. Just a little at first.

I could just stop the story there. Because pelvic pain? Who wants to talk about that? Nobody. Including me. It’s just uncomfortable, talking about this unspeakable, clandestine part of the body. It’s one reason I’ve been hiding.

“Now I don’t really understand your wife’s health situation….?” well meaning, or perhaps just curious, people inquire of my husband. He’s become fiercely protective of me. And so, unflinchingly, he looks them in the eyes and says, “She has chronic pelvic pain,” and watches them blanch, glance away, and sidle off before they get too much more uncomfortable information. Nobody wants to talk about pelvic pain. He is a champion.

I’ve wondered sometimes what the difference is. Why I could say, “I have chronic elbow pain,” and it would be no big. Or I could say, “the reason I can’t walk is because of the pain in my toe,” and we could all accept it without blushing and live happily ever after.

But when someone sees you sitting in a little tripod camp chair in the fabric-cutting-line at Hobby Lobby at Christmastime, the last thing they want to hear in response to, “Great chair! I wish I had one! What made you think of that?” is “I have chronic pelvic pain and can’t stand up for more than a few minutes.” Guaranteed.

It’s a little weird to me how bitter I feel writing this right now, when in so many ways I’ve come to so much peace, happiness.

Maybe I feel bitter because I have let my own, and other people’s, social discomfort control me for a very long time. I have let my non-elbow, non-toe, pain become this dark secret. Like my pelvis is inherently bad. Why do we all feel uncomfortable talking about the seat of creation in our bodies? Why are some parts and pieces forbidden to address, to talk about, to accept as part of the great beautiful whole of our glorious bodies that our creator has blessed us with?

I don’t know. I just know that I’ve carried a secret, hiding, shame, about the area my physical pain is located in for many years now. And I’m so done. So here’s Part 1 of the Pelvic Pain Series. And I will continue to add to it. So I don’t have to hide anymore. And you don’t have to hide anymore. And how not hiding is part of being happy.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

hiding from the school bus

I was sailing along down the road two mornings ago. Had just dropped off one of my kids at school. I was listening to a book. And thinking about...a TV show. Yep. Nothing deep. Owning that. Suddenly there was a school bus in front of me that I was about to T-bone. I screeched the brakes, pulled to the right, and came to a stop at the curb of the intersection that the bus just galumphed through, unhesitatingly. I don’t think the driver saw me. Or maybe they are trained not to veer because they are the biggest, and a little car like mine would just be squashed.

I pulled into the parking lot on the corner to catch my breath.

I had almost run a stop sign. Into a school bus.

I have been learning for the last while about how you can store emotions in your body, and that they can make you sick, and have been spending considerable focus releasing trapped emotions in an effort to regain my health. I didn’t want these intense negative emotions that I was currently feeling to stick around, so instead of stuffing them down inside, or pushing them away, or numbing out with food or Netflix, I decided to feel them, and let them go.

I breathed deeply. What was I feeling? My heart was pounding with that ‘almost got into a wreck’ feeling. So much Shame, Guilt, Embarrassment. I mean, it was a school bus! I was feeling Anger. At me. Feeling Gratitude. That I didn’t actually hit it. And that my kids weren’t in the car to see their mom do something so stupid. Ah. Hiding. I wanted to hide this and never tell anyone about it.

Hiding is one of my Things. Hiding when the kitchen’s a mess, hiding that I don’t have the energy to do my makeup and hair some days. But, one of the purposes of this blog is to help me stop hiding. Hiding my lack of perfectness. Hiding my insights into behavior and healing. Hiding who I really am. To stop me from slipping away. Into nothingness. So I will at least write this post, even if I never post it.

I let the emotions come up, wash over and through me. I imagined a great hole in my middle that this river of emotions whooshed through. I let myself just sit and feel them. It was uncomfortable. And it was ok that it was uncomfortable. I let myself feel the discomfort. And breathed through it.

I connected with the light. And in my meditation prayed for the emotions to be released. Used my tools of releasing emotions. Sat there for probably 20 minutes. Breathing deeply through all of this. Until I felt a shift in my heart where I had felt such heaviness. So I think I let it go.

I’m feeling a little more heaviness now as I write, so I think I’ll check in with myself again to see if there is more for me to release.

This is exactly the opposite of how I have handled emotions for most of my adult life. I didn’t really have any tools for expressing emotions other than yelling, and I didn’t want to yell at people, so I mostly just stuffed all of my negative emotions down inside my body instead of releasing them, or talking through them. Until they became a great smoldering crockpot of yuck, simmering up on a high shelf I never looked at. I breathed shallowly so that I wouldn’t smell it.

At some point in my life, the shelf broke, and the crockpot came crashing down with all it’s blistering poison. And I finally had to start sorting through the things that were making my body sick. I know what it’s like to have a toxic crockpot.

A little at a time, I’m trying to build new patterns. And be gentle with myself when I revert to the old ones. Sometimes healing comes one step, one almost wreck, at a time.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

rethinking perfect

A few days ago I woke up from a nap at dinner time (still technically dinner time, right? People eat late in some places…) and  went to the kitchen to investigate dinner possibilities. I entered into the chaos of grocery bags filling the island, the table covered with projects, and the sink filled with dishes, children strewn across the house.


Earlier in my Mom Life I would have been either paralyzed by mommy guilt at the mess and lack of healthy dinner steaming at the table Leave it to Beaver style, or depressed and snippy in my martyrdom at having to first organize the mess to even get to the dinner prep.

But something in me was changing.


Did everything need to be hard? Was half the stuff in my life extra hard because I made it hard? With all my crazy unrealistic expectations? Did I make life grueling because the harder I worked the more worth I had?


I had been pondering these questions for a while now, and finally, things inside me were shifting.


No, I didn’t have to make this hard to prove my worth. No, I didn’t have to meet somebody else’s expectations of what dinner as a family needed to look like.


After all, I was The Mom!


That was actually huge for me to choose into. Most of the time I looked around in a panic thinking, “Wait! I’m The Mom??”


The Mom was supposed to know all answers to all questions. The Mom was to make all the right choices instinctively. The Mom was to maintain a lovely home full of lovely, clean, well-mannered children.


Sheesh. Talk about unrealistic expectations!


The Mom was the daunting perfection captured in the TV of yesteryear, seared unmercifully into my brain. Such a burden to live up to. Such a burden to know you’re not living up to.


But suddenly, here I am, a new The Mom. A The Mom that says, hey, we can love each other and enjoy each other without this having to look perfect right now.


So I put on a Brave playlist from my phone and started singing and dancing around the kitchen. (Yes, singing and dancing). And I squished the groceries over on the island, turned on the broiler,  and opened a bag of tortilla chips. One kid grated cheese and another opened a can of beans, and when the nachos were coming out from under the broiler I called to the kids in the the living room who were currently in a dog pile in the middle of the floor, to grab a blanket and spread it across the floor for our living room picnic.


So. Dang. Fun.


And guess what? Dishes and kitchen chores and blah blah blah all eventually got done after dinner.


But what I would have missed, if I had chosen into grouchy The Mom or blamey The Mom? I would have missed  questions about the peso compared to the dollar,  a recital of a school dance routine (very close to the beans…) and dad sharing a music video with significant lyrics from our life with our kids.


Would that have happened if I’d stepped into paralyzing, mommy guilting, martyrdom because it didn’t look perfect? No. It just wouldn’t have. I know. Because I’ve done it before a million times.


And now, I’m rethinking ‘perfect’.



Tuesday, April 18, 2017

cramming

When I was in college I took French. Unfortunately, I had never learned to study a little every day.

French was a particularly difficult subject to cram. I simply couldn’t cram it all into my head the day before the test because at least part of the test was actually speaking in conversation. All my old cramming study tricks, like acronyms and such, didn’t help much when I actually had to converse. It takes daily memorization and daily outloud practicing dialog with another person to gain mastery over speaking a language.

Added to the ‘no cram factor’ was my real fear of not being perfect in dialog. When it came to dialoguing with another person in French, I could barely speak at all because I was so afraid to make a mistake. My accent was passable, I could read and basically understand what I read, and even what was spoken to me-- but I was terrified when I had to speak out loud for fear of getting it wrong in front of someone. I expected myself to be fluent before speaking.

So I went totally overboard when “extra credit” opportunities showed up. There was one time we had to give a presentation in front of the class. I knew this was my opportunity to utilize all other skills and creativity to boost my grade. For my presentation I acted as an M.C. for a French fashion show. I dressed super funky, and then dressed up roommates and friends and got them to come to my French class to walk across the room as models. I painted large impressionist-ish watercolor posters of fashions for the background. I used my clip board as part of my act to flamboyantly announce each new fresh face, though it really it was just a reference crutch for all the things I was supposed to say in French about each model and fashion. It was so over the top that my teacher just blinked.

I likely got every possible point to boost my grade. But when it was time for me to sit just one on one with him in the hallway, during the actual test, and have a short conversation in French where he asked me simple questions and I answered, and vice versa, I froze. I rarely even practiced dialoguing out loud with another person for fear of embarrassing myself by getting it wrong. When it was time to actually speak my own unrehearsed, unmemorized words without notes, I was paralyzed.

The deep fear of not being perfect has kept me from dialoguing with people for a long while. The fear of embarrassing myself. The fear of not saying it just right. The fear of making someone uncomfortable, of ruining my relationships by speaking up. Having that all crammed inside me has made me sick. Like a great simmering crock pot of unspokenness, that I periodically cram more things in.

I don’t mean I want to lash out and hurt people with my words. I don’t advocate hurting people. I mean being who I really am. Asking my questions. Having the courage to speak up. To speak my truth. To go big and get it wrong. To give myself space say one thing, evolve, and say another. To say what’s in my heart even if the way I say it, well, just sucks. To open my mouth anyway, and let the words tumble out because I can’t keep them inside perfectly anymore. I’d rather have them outside imperfectly. And gain mastery by actually speaking my language.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Source-validation

I realized it was more than self-validation. 

I thought I had come upon this fantastic, super effective way to finally fill the bottomless cup inside me. The bottomless cup that made me fight with my husband because he couldn't fill my dark void; that made me scream inside for validation while my sloshy words spilt across our relationship. 

Enter Self-Intervention. 
My mother, in her wise-woman wisdom, suggested I make my own lists of my sacrifices and my contributions. The ones the hand-wringing woman inside me wailed on and on about unabashedly--I normally keep her on a short leash, but she tragically broke free the other day and caused quite a stir.


Enter Epiphany. 
Lack of validation was making me feel 70% bad. But even perfectly worded validation from my husband would only make me feel 20% good. Meaning- he couldn't fix it. 

In other words, his validation couldn't fill me, no matter what he said. Sigh for me. Sigh for him. 

This epiphany made me eager to try out these lists. This was now about me, not about him. 

Enter Lists. 
Sacrifices. Contributions. I scribbled down the words. I connected with the Light before I started and asked My Maker for help. 

And more than an epiphany occurred. 

Sacrifices. I finished the list. There were big items. I read through the list. And sighed. But this time, a good, deep satisfied sigh. And an empty space inside me filled. Deep satisfaction flooded me. "Worth it," my Soul said to me. 

Contributions. I finished the list. It was long. I read through the list. And laughed. A bubble of joy. And Light flooded me. Deep, knowing Light. It filled me in a way that no other compliment or accolade ever had- because it stayed. Compliments and accolades faded like the last bite of a cookie that just made you want another. But not this Light. It was jubilant. Otherworldly. Steady. Independent. Like it would not matter if I never got complimented again because that once empty space had a no vacancy sign. And the wailing woman could finally rest. 

And I was like, "self-validation rocks!"

I walked around for a week talking about how this was the solution. 

But today I realized that it was more than self-validation. 

It was Source-Validation. 

I tried a couple more times to self-validate and it just sorta fell flat. "What is wrong with my miraculous solution," I wondered with a crinkled heart. 

I left out the miracle. 

My self-validation worked because I had connected to Source. Connected to the Light. Something Beyond me had helped with the miracle. That was what filled the dark space with Light as I read my sacrifices and contributions. It told me a True thing. 

And so the flooding of joy and satisfaction was not beyond me, but from Beyond me, and ever accessible.