Cleaning Up Loose Ends

Early on in my journey of self discovery, which is one of the main elements of Sunlight (so far), I realized that my husband played a big part in my burn out. He was a good chunk of the reason I was laying on the floor, struggling for each breath and having an emotional meltdown. Only it was suppressed because I didn’t know who I was or what I was supposed to do in this life.

It has been three and a half years and I have just clued into the fact that I need to deal with this part of the “story”, this part of my life, my journey. I don’t know how this will all fit together in Sunlight but I do feel both issues need to be addressed.

How is it that you can know something and not know it? This has happened to me before where it took longer than I am proud to admit for the knowledge of a situation to impact me.

My counselling has begun and I am now going to dive into this issue on why I let my husband hold me back. It isn’t really him. It is me. What do I need to heal or protect or assert to advance, to move forward in my life? My will is trapped in this space. It wants out. I want it out. I just need to find the key. Have I given it to my husband?

Here is an excerpt from Sunlight. It was written in September of 2010. Clearly I have an issue that I ‘realize’ at the end of the chapter but it has taken me more than three years to realize it. This part of my life, my journey, could be what has always been missing from my story. It could be why I have so much trouble trying to edit it or find a flow. We will see in time if I am right.

Sunlight_500x800

Backgrounder: Michelle is my therapist and Melinda is my sister.

Michelle assigned me two books to read. The first book I read is The Joy of Burnout by Dina Glouberman.1 I read it steady for four days. That is all I do. I am feeling so good to be doing something useful. I feel in charge and that I have a purpose – to fix me. I am awake. I am alert. Well as alert as I can be. I can not stay focused on the words in the book for the life of me. I reread paragraphs many times to try to get the message but my attention span is so short I am continually losing focus. I decide to keep reading and if I lose focus I will keep on until I bring myself back to the present. What I get from the book is what I get. I was not going to put any extra effort into it. I couldn’t. I would be here for years trying to read this book if I tried to absorb everything with my non-existent attention span.

The book is draining me of my energy. It is not my intention to be mean. I am weak. The book asks more of me than I can give at this time. It wakes me up. It opens a door a crack for me so I can see some light. It gets me off the floor and onto the couch reading. I absorb new words instead of listening to the broken record in my head. I notice I am breathing more normally, not struggling for each breath.

The book asks questions at the end of each chapter that allow me to reflect on my life, heart and mind. I am journalling regularly. I jot down my answers to the questions asked. But as I reflect and write I am experiencing a real physical pain. It is my left side, lower ribs. It is intense and I often have to put the book down. I only seem to experience it when I am reading and writing answers to the questions at the end of the chapter.

 I am glad to have a purpose each day, a goal. My mind is moving in a different direction and it feels refreshing. I feel a bit like a kid who had never seen colour and I have just walked into a candy store and am overwhelmed with colour. It is good but too much for me to take in all at once. Perhaps I am rushing. Trying to take it all in quickly so I can get better and move on with my life.

By Friday I am worse than I have ever been. I can not move. I am in physical pain. I don’t understand how I can feel worse. Wasn’t any of this helping me? I felt so much better yesterday. This is crazy. I reach out to Melinda. I have no idea what we are talking about but when we hang up I find myself laying on the floor in the sun porch. I do not know how I got here but I physically can’t move. It is not just the mental pain or the pain in my chest, but my whole upper body is stiff and sore. I ache.

It takes me a week of moping, laying on the floor deep in my burn-out again, but I manage to slowly pull myself back up to the point where I can read again. As I read and do the exercises at the end of each chapter I find, through reflection, that my husband is equally at the core of my problems as work was. He may actually be the leading cause. He is part of every answer to every question at the back of the book.

 

Self-Sacrifice Is Following Me Around

Pausing for a moment in my parka and boots to think if I have everything I look out the window and I see Chances looking up at me through the door window excited.  His whole body is wagging.  I am excited to see him so enthusiastic for our walk.  It is nothing new.  He has been this way since he joined our family not even a year ago.  His excitement to be with me never grows old.

I can’t think of anything else I need so I open the door and Chances immediately goes from upright wagging tail dog to sitting patiently but bouncing for glee inside.  He is waiting for his treat. I noticed this habit last week.  He was jumping for my hands, nipping and licking them looking for food.  In that moment I realized I had been packing a peanut butter sandwich with me lately for our walks and he got use to them more than I did.  Funny how habits form. Well today my hands are empty and since he is anticipating a peanut butter sandwich I want to get him one.  He is such a good puppy.

I open the door telling him I will be right back. He looks at me and cocks his head to the side wondering what is up.  He heard his name but I am not giving or doing anything exciting to his knowledge.  I make a peanut butter sandwich and begin to head out again. Handing him pieces of torn bread as we walk.  It occurs to me that I forgot a hanky.   I need a hanky on my walks.  Once again I tell him I will be right back and head back inside.  After grabbing that necessity I put my hand on the door handle.  He sees me through the window and is excited.  Almost jumping out of his skin.  He has a look in his eye, are we going now, huh, are we?   I realize I need to use the washroom.  I won’t go.  I look into his puppy dog eyes and he is so excited.  I don’t want to hold him back from his this moment any longer.  These morning walks are the highlight of his day and I’m taking forever to get out the door. I won’t make him wait.

SMACK!  Awareness hits me.  I have done this before. I have held off going to the bathroom for Craig – not wanting to be an inconvenience – and I’m even doing it for my dog!  The most devoted and forgiving being in my house!  

“We leave the office and I stand in the hall thinking I should go to the washroom but second guess that because I don’t want take up any more of Craig’s time away from work. I hop on the elevator not saying much to Craig.”  

Excerpt from Sunlight

When will this self-sacrificing end?!  When will I stop putting basic needs of mine in second place?  I wonder if I will battle self-sacrifice issue my entire life? Karma gives me this lesson to bare and I wonder what I did in a past life to require it.  Noticing these little moments is the beginning of change.  Flicking on my awareness switch two years ago has allowed more and more lights to come one.  Albeit they are slower than I would like but I guess that is part of the journey.

A Bit of Sunlight – A Road Trip

It is a gorgeous day. I feel like I am floating down the highway as I drive to Esterhazy. I love it. I am going to meet Frances, my mom’s first cousin. My mom said that there were no relatives left on her mother’s side. None of them had kids and all her mother’s siblings have passed on. But I couldn’t believe it. I see how families multiply and grow, there had to be someone who could tell me about my grandmother Nellie. I can’t believe this dream of mine is coming true. This is really happening. I have found a treasure box in my family tree.

I feel guilty about cancelling a counselling session and not showing up at yoga practice but I really feel that I have to do this. As I drive I kind of dissolve into the blue sky in front of me. I wonder if the houses I past, the abandoned farm yards of families long ago suffered as I suffer now.

Did the women accept their world and environment? Did they enjoy parenting and cleaning? Or did they long for something more? Did their longing kill them? Did they get to do what they wanted to do? Could they dream past their present situations? Did they find happiness in the small, everyday things? 

Looking at the houses and I wonder where the gardens were, where the kids played, did the mother have a special spot in the yard or a favourite window to look out of? Did she garden out of necessity or did she enjoy it?  I can almost imagine kids running around outside but only there was more trees around the yard back then.

When we live in one world, a world of pioneers, can we even imagine living in a world outside of that?  Can we imagine and have the opportunity to move towards our passions?

Photo was taken through my car window in 2007 along HWY 11 in Saskatchewan, Canada.

 

A Bit of Sunlight: Deserving

September 21st, 2010

Dear Self,

I just finished reading Eat, Pray, Love.  I am now confused as to what happened in the book or the movie or both.  Not sure.

While I was reading the book I folded corners over of pages that resonated with me.  I thought I would now reflect on those pages or comments from the end to the beginning – yes in that order.  I will see if I can finish reflecting prior to a nap.  I hope this venting of feelings will be healing in some way.

The last thing she, Elizabeth Gilbert, says that really hung on me is the concept of ‘paying back’ people who have helped us live and showed us kindness.  I always feel like I need to pay back to these people.  There is this constant pull to owe someone something.  People give me so much that I feel forever in debt to society as a whole.  EPL (Eat, Pray, Love) says that we should maybe stop trying to pay back and instead continually say thank you sincerely and honestly for as long as we have voices.  Somehow this never feels like enough to me.  I am forever feeling undeserving of people’s help.

I need to get past this part of myself that feels like I owe somebody, or everybody, something. I need to get past this part of me that always feels guilty for living. Guilty for receiving love. I’ve often told myself that my life is too good to be true so something bad is going to happen. I feel guilty all the time. I feel undeserving.

On Saturday after my sutra study class Debra, the facilitator and yoga instructor, and I were chatting. She was telling me about things her business advisor has told her. He said that in our culture people pay with money as a means to say thank you. Some cultures give food for sacrifice but in our culture it is monetary and it should be honored and respected. Spend it wisely.

She also mentioned another piece of worldly advice from her business advisor. She said that you can’t be all things to all people. While I know this I forget it or subconsciously feel that it doesn’t apply to me.  I bend myself in every direction to make everyone happy and am flooded with guilt if someone is not.

A Bit of Sunlight – November Sutra Study

Dear Self,

At sutra study today it was just Debra and this tall blonde lady. I missed her name but I liked her. She was straight to the point, open, honest and not ashamed at how she feels or sees the world.

The focus of the discussion today was on how to heal ourselves and to not feel the bad feelings that cause us suffering. We need to reflect on why people make us feel the way we do and find a way to forgiveness. Forgiveness does not mean acceptance of their behaviour but a means for us not to carry around anger, pain, guilt, jealousy or any other unhealthy emotions.

All of the five translations to study sutra 1.33 discussed the idea of balancing emotions. If you do not let good or bad feelings control and dominate your mind and actions then you will see the world more clearly. Emotions are responses to events. Events that are history, over immediately after they happen. So why do we carry the memory of them with us? Why do we let the emoitions linger? Each situation has a different reason but it all is too do with how the mind works.

Many times I have felt upset only to have it fade into happiness without my being aware. I cry and then all of a sudden I get an email and am lifted and see hope. This moment of hope, or happiness will be a moment as well. I need to find that spot where I can be stable. Where I can be content. I need to find Joy. Like what we studied in our first sutra class – our natural state. I am exhausted bouncing between my emotions.  I want off this roller coaster.

Devi, from her book The Secret Power of Yoga translates this sutra as the following:

To preserve openness of heart and calmness of mind, nurture these attitudes:Kindness to those who are happy.

Compassion for those who are less fortunate.

Honour for those who embody noble qualities.

Indifference to those whose actions oppose your values.

At first when Debra read this to us I thought, ‘Duh of course. That makes perfect sense. Why wouldn’t I be happy for someone who is happy?’ Then she gave the example of someone starting a business that would compete with her yoga studio. How can she find it in herself to be happy for them when it is at her expense?

What a great example. She did find peace and happiness for this yoga studio. She settled down and remembered that we all have gifts to give and who she can’t reach perhaps this studio can.

She gave examples of the others too but I can’t even remember them now. The one about happiness just stuck with me – how simple it seemed and it wasn’t.  It could be one of the hardest things to do.  Like, why isn’t Craig happy for my happiness in quitting my job?  Does that apply here?

Debra broke down the four attitudes to try and maintain: friendliness, compassion, goodwill and neutrality. It all sounds so easy but it isn’t. How can I apply this to my life? To my emotions with Craig, with working, with being a mother and wife?