Acceptance

As I’m building my journal therapy practice, a big part of this work has been articulating how I came into reflective writing. With the help of my new marketing goddess, something has really struck me; my whole life has been about creating a safe container for story.

My personal story, the stories of the characters I inhabited, the stories of my performers, the stories of our audience, the stories of my imagination, the stories of the authors I work with, and now I’m creating a safe container for the stories of my clients.

I’ve accomplished this with a fair measure of grace in my professional life. I’m humbled by the ways I’ve seen this emerge with the work I’ve done.
In my personal life, I’ve really missed the mark.

Intimate space is so much more vulnerable, isn’t it? We’re stripped of the filters and layers we create with fourth walls, professional detachment, suspension of disbelief. 

There are no characters in intimacy. Nothing to hide behind, except the generations of trauma and the patterns of behaviour we create in response.

This last month has been a practice in integrity. I’ve said all that I can say. I’ve moved in true alignment. It’s been incredibly painful, but I’m okay with that because I know it’s a necessary step in my evolution.

At the end of September, I began a series of posts exploring my recent breakup through the lens of Elisabeth Kubler Ross’ five stages of grief. As always, the writing was a powerful tool to help me move through the emotion.

It’s been an intense experience, moving through this loss and change without all the usual distractions I would seek out. COVID has made it impossible for me to plan nights out with friends, to date my way through the heartache, and I don’t dare try to drown my sorrows with alcohol, because there are just too many reasons to keep drinking these days. 

I made the conscious choice to sit with the difficult feelings, and see what they would reveal. I recommend this to all of you. It’s painful, but I’ve learned so much.

I accept that my intuition and higher knowing responded in the best way to lead me to that which is meant for me. 

I accept that it is too painful to try to pursue those places, people, and things that are very clearly not meant for me, not able to engage with me, and not interested in me.

I accept that my actions and reactions will always have consequences.

I accept that both people need to be aware, accountable, and willing to change and grow to be able to move through relationship difficulty.

I accept my part in things, but I also accept that it wasn’t all my fault.

I accept that we didn’t create a safe container. I also accept that it’s time now to move ahead with all I’ve learned.

I accept that when things are meant for me, they will be clear to understand and they will fill me with joy and purpose. They will reinforce my potential and my goodness while challenging me to continue to grow.

I accept that no matter how I have wanted things to be different, or how long I’ve wanted things to change, things are exactly as they are.

I accept that it is a bad idea to build my future with anyone but myself until I know, without any uncertainty, that I can do so. 

I accept that my own autonomy and independence are the keys to the security and stability my son and I both deserve. 

I accept that the kind of deep, connected love that I want is out there.

I accept that I will find someone who has the capacity for me.

I accept that this time in my life is meant for me to love myself, and I accept how good it feels to be tucked away in my own company.

I accept that these new tools for working through my emotion are what I’ve always needed. That time, and space, and silence are what are required for my own deep healing.

We all have things in our lives that are difficult to accept. What happens when we arrive at the place where we can sit with all that is happening in the present and find stillness? We don’t have to be happy about it. We don’t have to create some sort of false ‘brave face’. We just have to be aware that the only thing we can control is our response and our ability to remain grounded. 

The next time I enter into intimate partnership, I’ll strive harder to create what I offer my clients; a safe container for truth. 

Depression

People keep asking me if I’m okay.

It’s a yes and no answer because ultimately, I know I will emerge intact, and I can literally feel my resilience at work, but holy mother this is a painful period of my life. And I’m so very tired all the time.

I don’t think I’m depressed, at least not by the big Pharma definition of the term, but I know this is the time for me to be in my shadows, so we’ll say I’m in the depression part of the stages of grief.

I stopped being one of those ‘love and light’ kind of people a long time ago. In fact, I can tell you that my fear of getting too deep into the shadows when I should have in the past has created the current upset that I’m dealing with now.

If I had allowed myself to go deeper, I would have been able to take back more of my threads when my family changed. If I had taken back more of those threads, I’d be more independent and in touch with myself. If I’d done that painful work, I would have had more of a fighting chance at building new love and family, and knowing exactly what I need.

What we need isn’t always the same as what we want. What we want can often leave us stuck in the past.

So, I’m not okay, but that’s okay. Everything keeps shifting beneath me, but eventually it will settle again. This time, I need to create as much simplicity as possible.

Yesterday someone told me, “We need to be okay with being okay.” I think this is a better goal than attaining happiness all of the time. But to this I would add, we also need to be okay with NOT being okay. It’s important to me to honour these painful feelings, and allow myself to fully feel them. It’s important to me to write, share, speak aloud the truth I find when all of the layers of protection and distraction have been stripped away.

I know where my love is. I know the mistakes I’ve made. I’m getting clear on why I chose things that are out of alignment with my values. I know I can do better.

It’s hard to not regret the decisions, attachments, tolerances. Perspective has granted me the opportunity to see my part of the equation clearly. Regret is a tough one. If we get stuck there, we miss the compassion we deserve.

I was where I was because of trauma and pain. I thought I was doing the best I could at the time. I needed time to see that I wasn’t operating at full capacity and in my full integrity. With compassion, I can forgive myself and be better able to evolve. With compassion for myself, I have compassion for everyone else.

This isn’t a place for making firm decisions about anything. I can share what I’ve learned. I can dig deeper on my own and with my therapist to understand what I truly desire, and how I can stay in alignment. I can lean deeply into the wild landscape of my heart and feel so fully that I am all that I really need. We are fine companions, myself and I.

The biggest lesson over these past eight months is that if I can stay more connected to self, and to my intuition, I know what is right for me. The heavy grey is shifting, but I’m okay to sit in the rain for as long as it takes.

Bargaining

It’s the full moon. The first of two in the month of October. My friend Jenny Arndt tells me that this moon is in Aries and I know that means it’s the moon of my inner warrior. I always give things to the full moon. Things that no longer serve me. So in the interest of release, and for the honour of my personal battle, here’s the next instalment of this post series.

The bargaining phase of Kubler Ross’ stages of grief is described as the point when we struggle to find meaning, we reach out too often, and we tell our story. It’s the ‘what if’ phase. Have you ever tried this exercise in your healing practice? It’s a rabbit hole, to be sure.

I had to take a big breath for this one, and I put pen to paper first.

What if I hadn’t been the first to reach out?
What if I hadn’t decided to be exclusive?
What if I wasn’t afraid that I was running out of chances at love?
What if I decided that he didn’t seem ready?
What if I stopped making plans?
What if I’d put my energy towards me instead?
What if I wasn’t aching for a family again?
What If I’d stayed away last September?
What if I hadn’t offered to help launch that business?
What if I was less attached to my son’s father?
What if I could change my love languages?
What if I were better at trust?
What If I didn’t need to feel adored?
What if I tried harder to feel him?
What if I hadn’t panicked?
What if I’d stayed in school?
What if he hadn’t moved in?
What if I’d invested my energy into my practice?
What if I’d stuck to my guns?
What if I was always running?
What if I’d had more faith?
What if I could have believed he’d be back?
What if I’d done three more sessions?
What if I was wrong?
What if he was wrong?
What if he has more to say?
What if this is exactly what is supposed to happen?
What if we’re both better off this way?
What if I’ve found something I wouldn’t have otherwise?
What if this isn’t the end of our story?
What if it is?

To the moon I give all of these questions that cannot be answered, and I ask for peace and clarity as I move ahead with my journey.

Anger

There are days when all the walking in the woods doesn’t clear me of the desire to scream at the top of my lungs. 

I was in an open, polyamorous triad in which we were raising three children when I lived in Toronto and I was never subjected to the kind of gossip and ear-bending that I’ve endured and witnessed over the last couple of months. This place is too small for its own good sometimes.

Writers write about the experiences that move them. How many songs have been written about break ups? Everyone reading knows my version is only one side of the story, and we’re all grown-ass adults. Sure, you can pick apart my words and try to turn them into something hurtful, but this space has been, and always will be a place for me to process my experiences and create deeper meaning. This practice of articulating my pain has helped a lot of people over the years. It’s probably helped you too once or twice.

My moving through the dissolution of this relationship doesn’t leave me blameless. I’ve written plenty about how I contributed to things going sideways.

When two people make the difficult decision to end a relationship, the most healing thing they can do is move on with their lives. To those of you who think it’s helpful to report on what you see or hear other people are up to, check yourself. If you actually have something to say, beyond the realm of hearsay and speculation, address these things with love and care. Tend to your own fires because when other people’s problems become so fascinating to you, I can bet your house is burning to the ground while you’re gawking out the window.

Oh, this anger is a ball of fire in my chest and a claw around my throat. 

I am quick to arrive in this angry place when I feel misunderstood and unheard. It’s part of what sank the boat. Though I’ve come a long way in managing my anger, I still need to create space for it. When I’m angry and trying to protect myself, nobody else is getting in. This means they aren’t seen, or heard. It’s a vicious cycle, and it ended in a stalemate. It was something we both created and perpetuated, and there was no clear way for the light to get back in.

Someone needed to soften. To lay down their arms and open them instead. Someone needed to take the step forward and say “I’m sorry, I’m here, I want this and I want to walk through this with you.” It couldn’t happen. I was too tired of the cycle. I’m guessing he was too. 

There are moments when it’s easy to be bitter about all the promises and hopes and ideas that will never really be fulfilled. There are moments when I just can’t understand why I wasn’t good enough to make it work. Moments where I can’t believe how I behaved, and feel such shame about the choices I have made for myself over these last eight months. The unfairness of it all is suffocating, and this place of disappointment isn’t one I like to dwell in, but it’s there.

The second stage of grief is anger. 

What have you lost? How are you angry about it?

Denial

I’m not convinced it was supposed to go down like this.

When we met, I felt like I was pulled into his orbit by a force that was bigger than both of us. I had to find out what that feeling was all about. This was back before I learned what it means to rest in the feminine and let things come to me. Still, once I’d set it in motion, he seemed just as intrigued as I was.

As we began to create space together, it felt like home. He said all the right things. I was fascinated by the way he looked at the world. There was something so charming and so old-fashioned about his approach to so many things. The age difference didn’t deter me. Not right then. I was sure we’d figure it all out.

Here are the lessons:

  1. It’s impossible to be sure about anything without time. 
  1. One should not confuse chemistry with cosmic purpose.
  1. In love, you will see early on the exact behaviours that will drive you apart. Most of us ignore these revelations. 
  1. No conclusions should be drawn about the capacity of a relationship until you’ve allowed yourself to sit in someone else’s darkness.

I couldn’t do that last part. I kept excusing it. I kept rationalizing it. I kept trying to heal it. I kept focusing on the way it pulled me into my own darkness, and how I’d suddenly fallen back into patterns that I thought I’d moved past.

Sit in someone’s darkness. How does it feel? How are they accountable for how their darkness affects you? How accountable are you for how you respond to the darkness? Love cannot only live in the light.

I wrote so much poetry. How could such beautiful words pour out of me if we were just going to stay trapped in toxic cycles? Where is the beautiful life we were going to create? Where are the mountains we were going to move?

When do we finally stop wondering if some little thing will change the course? When do we accept that this is exactly where we are, and truly allow ourselves to move forward?

There are moments, in the forest, when I am so aware of my wholeness. The cool, sweet decay of the carpet of leaves and the wet, alive fragrance of the ferns are the cycle to which I belong in a pure and untouchable way. In these moments my soul feels too big for even me to contain, and I realize with tenderness how difficult I must be to love. 

I feel so wild and yet so rooted in the domestic. So demanding of connection, and yet connected so deeply to myself that I cannot bear what I perceive to be a threat to the strange little girl who dwells inside me. I must learn to stop defending her to the death. I must learn that she is wise enough and pure enough to speak for herself.

She can rest in this messy place, and pluck out a few curious pieces to amuse herself with until what is meant for her steps forth from the strange and chaotic universe. I have to trust her, and let her lead. I’ve kept her behind my back for far too long.