Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Doorstep

Every time I hear a story of when it all fell apart and there came a point when the pain was just too great. It seems that more often than not, you hear the line "and I showed up on _______'s doorstep"I keep thinking about this doorstep scene. Do we gravitate toward it because it seems like something from a movie? Or is that moment truly more significant than all the others surrounding it?

I did the same thing, 3 years ago.  The day I showed up on my mom's doorstep with a baby, a 2 year old, an overnight bag and 2 eyes full of tears. 

That moment was big for me. Big for my relationship with my mom. Big for my relationship with my husband (who I had left behind) and big for my recovery.

I had finally had enough of having the same fight and I was finished, absolutely finished having the same damn discussion every stupid day. I couldn't handle it anymore. And although I knew I wasn't leaving him, I didn't know what I was doing. I only knew I couldn't be there anymore.

So I packed a bag with a million diapers and changes of clothes for my kids and left.

I got in the car and realized I had nowhere to go. Nobody knew anything that was going on and I didn't really want to tell anybody. Of course I wound up at my mom's house, because getting anywhere else would have taken more conscious effort and brain power I simply lacked.

So there I stood, in my doorstep moment. Ringing my mother's doorbell for the first (and only) time ever in my life. Not sure if I wanted her to be home or not. She opened the door and I fell apart on the porch. She got my bags and helped me carry in my little ones and let me cry on her shoulder for at least 20 minutes before I offered any kind of explanation.She invited my in all of my mess into her home and held me in my pain.

I think that's what the big deal about the doorstep is. You stand there, waiting. Hoping that the person on the other side of that door will open the door and accept you in all of your mess. But until they do, you just wait. You just stand there waiting for their open arms to pull you in and take care of you.

Monday, January 12, 2015

pendulating progress

Therapist used a word today that I just really love even though I'm certain I don't understand it yet in the clinical way he means it. But we were about to talk through some really tough stuff and he wanted to make sure before we dove in that I was ready and that I had a safe place to retreat. 

So, we talked through the ways we create a safe place to return after doing something hard/scary. 

"You want to be able to picture a serene and calming place in your mind. Visualize it very clearly and easily. Make sure it's comfortable and inviting." I nodded almost immediately. There are a few happy places in my mind I could recall quickly and easily. Because the truth is this is a beautiful world filled with happy places.
"An important skill is to breath and calm your body. Notice your heart rate. Be able to sooth and calm it afterward." I nodded again, (thank you Sariah for your breathing tracks on the membership area of, Calm your breath to calm your heart She says. Breath in with your heart beat, then notice the beats of your heart at the top of that breath. Keeping the awareness of your heart, release your breath counting the beats. Calm your breath to calm your heart.
"It's so helpful to have a few very close friends to whom you can retreat. Someone whose shoulder you can cry on, who can be with you in your experience and who you can count on." The fastest nod yet. I have many of these people, and a few in particular whose shoulders I cry on regularly. 
"And a physical place you can go that is safe for you. It might be a park, a holy place, a room in your home. Somewhere that you can connect, calm, sooth, and feel safe." Again! I have so many! I have my zen yoga room in my home, my chair in my bedroom, my backyard, the neighborhood park, a temple (or 5) within a 30 minute drive. 

After running through that checklist we dug in and did all (okay, just some) of the hard things. I didn't notice it until I had retreated to my safe people, done some breathing, writing, thinking and processing that I realized what a beautiful thing it is to have my life set up to support me. I have places to go, people to turn to, and many calming habits and tools I didn't have a year ago. 

A year ago he would have said these same things getting ready to go in and process the hard trauma, and he would have started "picture a place in your mind" and I would have (and probably did) burst into tears and stopped breathing because I couldn't even imagine feeling safe or comfortable and there was no place on earth I wanted to be. Today, we blew past that. And the next 3 ways to create a safe home base. 

And so we rode the pendulum. Into the trauma, noticing it, observing it, feeling it, noticing what it means, and then back out to my safe place. Into the trauma and back to breathing. Into the trauma and back at a distance to notice the effects.

So today I feel relieved and happy about the progress made. Now to master the art of swinging into the trauma and back out. And of course to make that more consistent.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Soul Loves

My friend Jane shared a Glennon video with me, all about the things your soul loves.
(Go click the link, you won't be sorry. It's beautiful.)

I thought "My goodness, Glennon has a beautiful soul doesn't she?" which, of course, she does. 

Then I thought of my friend Jane, and thought "my goodness, Jane has a beautiful soul, doesn't she?" which, of course, she does. 

Then Hil, Michelle, Scabs, Harriet, the list of beautiful souls I've been blessed to know goes on and on and on. I thought of my WoPAs, all the WoPAs, my family, my friends, and so many loved ones. I walk around all day long surrounded by beautiful souls. 

Then I thought I'd try to find my soul, but that sounded hard, so I instead I decided to start where Glennon started. By finding things my soul loves. 
  • good books
  • stepping on fallen leaves
  • campfires in the dark
  • crisp morning air
  • laughing - and making people laugh
  • connective conversations
  • writing
  • breathing slowly
  • making things grow
  • learning
  • healthy dark dirt
  • a long swim in a cold COLD lake
  • other souls
So I shared those things with a few close friends, and realized that my soul is beautiful. It loves beautiful things. But it also loves less-beautiful things. 
  • pie. lots and lots of pie
  • being right
  • controlling the behavior of the people around me
  • admiration
  • breaking things (ice throwing contest anyone?)
  • doing things I deem IMPORTANT
  • validation
  • feeling powerful
Jane swears that the ego is what loves all that validation and being right, the anger is probably responsible for breaking things, and well, I still don't see anything wrong with loving pie. 

I suppose the question for me is the same as it has always been. 

When I strip away everything else, does my soul love the "right" things? Am I enough?

On the day I wrote this post (more than a month ago) I answered this question with a resounding yes! But as with all things, it ebbs and flows. Some days I see my own soul's beauty, and some days I don't. Today I don't know if I can put a big fat "of course I am!!!" at the end of all this. But I do see that my soul loves beautiful beautiful things.

Friday, October 24, 2014


I'm still coming down off the high of The Togetherness Project's latest conference.

I wonder if I'll ever get used to that feeling. I wonder if it's possible to max out the number of times you connect with someone, or hear a story for the first time and just sit in awe of the people in front of you. I wonder if I'll ever stop coming away from these things stunned by the goodness that fills the room.

I hope not. Because being part of Togetherness has given me the opportunity to have the sacred experience of hearing people's stories. Being a witness to their greatness and hearing who they are in one of the most incredible things I've ever been able to do. It has given me extraordinary experiences and put me in the presence of greatness over and over again and that's something I cannot imagine being "used to". 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

2 years

2 years ago we moved from one place to another, we weren't really sure if we'd make it together and we were fairly certain we didn't like each other much. We weren't really sure if we'd always live together after that or not.

These last 2 years have been times of pain and hurt and growth and seeing things as they are. 

A short time ago Husband and I purchased a home together. A new home. Where we will (happily) live with our family. 
We purchased it with faith that this new emotional space we've found filled with acceptance and love will last. 
We purchased it knowing that we are excited about our life together. 
We purchased with our eyes wide open to trials and pain and hurt - fully aware that all of that can (and probably will) come screaming back to the forefront of our lives, and that we are capable of handling it more maturely than we ever have before. 
We purchased FULL of hope and love. And I am praying we can in turn FILL this home with faith and love. 

Because though things feel about a million times better than they did 2 years ago, we all know this goes just one day at a time, so all we can do is have faith and love.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Compassion Came Out

For too many years I felt alone in my home. I felt like it was my job to run the house, run a business (at home with baby) and run our lives. 
I tried to work recovery. I tried to serve in my church. I tried to stay healthy. I tried to do it all and I felt zero support from Husband in my efforts. He worked a lot and was in school and during the rare moments that he was at home, he wasn't really present. 
It's easy to look back now and say I was simply overwhelmed. I had way too much on my plate and way too little support; but at the time I simply felt unqualified for life. I felt like everybody I saw around me could do it all and there was something wrong with me because I was breaking at the seams.

I still hold some resentment toward Husband because I felt like he had abandoned me. And instead of seeing that I was drowning and trying to help, he was adding more for me to do.
"We really need you to keep working, can't you do anything to get more clients?"
"I looked at porn again today, if we could just have sex more....." and
day after day with no conversations at all.

We're heading into a busy work week for him and he'll be gone an awful lot. He works 13-14 hour days and he has picked up some extra shifts which means that yesterday was his only day off in a 9 day stretch. He will be exhausted at the end of every day and come home to sleep. He won't be present. He won't help around the house. I won't get an extra set of hands for bedtime, or getting my littles where they need to be. I'll be on my own again - which brings up all those unsettled feelings of resentment. 

I had expressed this concern to him in a less-than-kind discussion. I whined and pissed and moaned and told him I hate that he does this. I reminded him of his uselessness and exhaustion when he works too much. I told him I was too tired to take it all on again. I laid it all out and he sat there - removed from the conversation thinking that I'm crazy.

Yesterday (the only day off) he did a lot of stuff. He tried to catch up some household chores, he took the kids out for a fun afternoon at a local hands-on children's museum and by the end of the day he was exhausted. I ran from one appointment to the next all day, and when I sat down to dinner at 6:15 knowing that I had somewhere to be at 6:30, I took a second to look across the table. I saw the familiar bloodshot eyes and sagging lids. I saw the slumped posture and the heavy hands. I saw the exhaustion all over his face and (though I'm not proud of it) I was so glad. I wanted him to understand how I felt during those years. I wanted him to see what he put me through. And in that moment I was prepared to show him exactly why our discussion about him doing this to me again this week was heated. Why I still felt strongly about it.
This is how I felt every day for 3 years! All the while you asked me to make more money, take on more work, be more available to you and be a better person! This is how I still feel every day at 6:15 knowing that you'll technically be off work in 15 minutes but won't come home for another hour or 2. This is the time of day when the only reason I don't run out the front door screaming is that it would take too much effort. This is the part where you start counting down the minutes until an extra set of hands comes home - but the car never pulls up and there is no extra set of hands. THIS IS WHY I HATE YOU. 
I thought all of those things, and I was well prepared to say them. So I opened my mouth, and by the grace of God none of that came out. Compassion came out instead. 

"I can tell you have been working hard all day and you are totally exhausted. I can see that you could really use some help right now, and that you're overwhelmed. I'm so sorry for that and I know that you know I'm about to leave and you're facing bedtime alone and that probably feels like yet another mountain to climb. I'm so sorry that I won't be here to help tonight."

I still felt all of the resentment and the sick pleasure that maybe he was finally understanding a little tiny piece of what I went through. I wasn't feeling compassion as I spoke - but compassion is what came out of my mouth. 
After my other appointments, when I came home to do the remaining dishes and laundry, THEN I felt compassion and gratitude. I was thankful that he took the time to play with my Littles. I was relieved that he made the effort to make my week easier. And most importantly, I truly felt compassion for that horribly exhausting evening. Because the feeling is familiar to me, and (finally) I was sorry he experienced it too. 

It's such a strange thing to open your mouth prepared to say one thing, and have something different come out. But I am glad it did. I am glad that what I spoke became true a few hours later. And though I haven't asked him, I feel comfortable saying that those words were at least a little healing for him.

In Buffalo House we often miss the boat, but there are still many many signs of improvement, growth and learning.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Missing the Boat

Sometimes we sit in therapy together and I think "this is it! THIS is the big thing that will change it all! I can tell, that _______ is just around the corner!"

A few weeks ago we had been shown some very clear issues in therapy. Highlighted in big bold letters above our heads.

So I went about my day knowing that everything would be different when I came home.

But when I took off my shoes and headed to the bedroom to put them away, there was the lingerie, laying out on the bed waiting for me to "love him".

I saw it and immediately contacted Friend, "He DOESN'T get it! And he never will! He's a fool and a psycho and a sex addict!"

There we were, 6 hours later, him trying to have sex to show love and me seeing him in the worst possible light.

This is what they mean when they say "it takes time. there will be setbacks. it won't all set in immediately. getting help doesn't mean curing it immediately."