Live Like a Mighty River—Deep Wisdom from Poet Ted Hughes

Here, my friends, is a letter that is worth reading. Click on the quote below to read the entire letter. Please share your thoughts in the comments.

The only calibration that counts is how much heart people invest, how much they ignore their fears of being hurt or caught out or humiliated. And the only thing people regret is that they didn’t live boldly enough, that they didn’t invest enough heart, didn’t love enough. Nothing else really counts at all.

Ch…ch…ch…changes

My apologies for my lengthy absence/silence. The last year has been a time of deep work and profound changes. I find it hard to write—words just don’t seem adequate somehow. Yet, here I am.

The work that was started on the cushion and continued in DBT continues to deepen. Each morning, I sit outside and rediscover myself in the nesting robins feeding their young or the fantastically loud “blatt” of the trumpeter swans. I watch the working of my mind and am usually aware when my emotions spin out of control. Funny thing, that awareness. First, it acts like a clutch, enabling me to disengage when my emotional engine goes nuts. This is a good thing. The engine may be racing, but I’m not laying down rubber, yay! But it doesn’t slow the emotions down. It does help me to keep from piling on *old* emotions.

What do I mean by that? This is new for me too, so please bear with. Previously, for example, Bri would say or do something that would trigger me. Suddenly, I would be flooded with emotions:

  • reactionary anger: a learned emotion. This is how my mother reacted when I did the same thing, so it’s my hard-wired reaction. My most embarrassing anger, cuz it just tends to come out and it tends to be very harsh and unflexible.
  • remembered anger & pain. This is how I felt as a child being abused at my mother’s hands.
  • shame and frustration. See the first bullet. Unfortunately, shame tends to generate more anger to cover it up and make it go away. It’s a vicious circle.

Somewhere around the beginning of June, there was a profound shift. Bri’s actions still triggered me, but it was just the reactionary anger, which I was able to clearly see. Since then, I’ve been able to handle those reactions without adding in emotional memories of my own shit or judgements of the situation. It’s like I can simply see the situation for what it is, without piling on the emotional baggage.

This has been such a profound change in my life that I have spent the last month “checking” it. Asking B if I seem different (yes), asking if I still seem different (yes). Checking in with myself. Yep—something has changed.

As if that weren’t enough, I applied for and was accepted to be one of the artists in a group project that Workman Arts is producing for Nuit Blanche. So my first art show ever is gonna be a big one. {grin} I don’t like to start small. This is also no small matter. I’m creating a sculpture representing a woman who lived at the Toronto Hospital for the Insane for many years. She insisted that everyone call her Angel Queen XIII, and they did. My kind of broad ;^). Anyway, I’m learning about sculpture and planning this life-sized work of art. For someone who is trying to transition careers and become an artist, this is about as big as it gets.

Oh yeah, there is one more thing. My ex-husband, the one who had a sex-change operation before our divorce was even completed, apologized in his her own way: she made me the beneficiary of her life insurance policy. Her common-law spouse at the time of her death wasn’t too happy about this, precipitating a court challenge. Toronto courts are overloaded and slow, so it’s taken over a year to get the case heard. But I’ve had my day in court and the judge ruled in my favour and I can’t believe we’re gonna be out of debt finally and able to buy a house. So, yet another huge thing. And not just because we can buy a house, but because this allows me to be an artist and a homemaker and not worry about going back to work at a job that would likely crush my soul again. So I can let go of another thing that I’ve been worrying about ever since I left work on disability two years ago.

Needless to say, such major changes are dangerous territory to navigate when one has an emotional disorder. In spite of my new awareness, or possibly because of it, I have been doing a lot of pulling back over the past while. My emotions are all over the place: the court stuff brings back memories of my ex and his transition to womanhood, an extremely painful and difficult period in my life. As those arise, I am doing my best to deal with them and not let the past poison the present. The money stuff, while good, is also change and creates emotional waves to be dealt with.

Most days, I feel good if I get a decent dinner made and some time spent in the studio on one of the various projects on the go. Things need to get finished. Plus planning to buy a house, relocate Brianna, figure out how to switch schools, when would it work best for her, how will this all work. I’ve been verging on overwhelmed much of the time, though I’ve been coping with it. Actually, I’ve been coping rather well, and part of that coping has been my pulling back to just the essentials. So I apologize if I’ve neglected my friends in favour of my family—just now, that’s what I need to take care of myself.

And that’s where I’m at. Though it is difficult sometimes, it is a good place. May you find peace where ever you find yourself.

Sunday morning musings

I woke up this morning crying. Looking deeper, I realized I was grieving for everything this illness has cost me and those around me. I feel guilty for imposing this on those I love. Laying in bed, I watched the guilt and pain and shame swirl around. And then I let it go and focused on scritching the kitty who had climbed on top of me and was furiously kneading away. I let the present pull me away from that morass.

I saw my illness as an aneurysm. My job is to clamp off the many blood vessels that feed the monster: physical activity, art practice, therapy, work stress, home stress, family stress, money stress, PMS/PMDD—so many factors it’s easy to be overwhelmed. Pick one and focus on it…

PMDD

Research shows a possible link between ovulation and PMDD. It occurs to me that there are new medications on the market that supress ovulation for months at a time. When they first came out, I thought it was ridiculous to be on the pill simply to not have to deal with having a period. And it is! But, it’s a very reasonable treatment consideration for someone like me. Next steps? Book an appointment with my family doctor to discuss it. Research these birth control pills online.

Family-wise, it’s a long weekend for us. House cleaning is in order, but needs to be balanced by play, including outdoor time.

I feel myself getting overwhelmed. Just thinking about all the things that need doing, my brain goes into panic mode. So ta for now.

Mayhem and Recovery

This was a bad morning. Perhaps it’s the fact that we all seem to be fighting off/coming down with cold bugs. Maybe it’s the onset of that time in my cycle I like to call “PMS hell”. Maybe it’s the onset of the bitter cold (-23C this morning, -10F for you imperialists). It’s also possible that Brianna’s “bad day” and her resultant attitude was a factor. It doesn’t matter in one sense, it’s done with and over. Yet I want to be cognizant of triggers and make a plan to avoid a repeat.

But the time for that is later. Now is time to practice letting go, slowing down, and practice the moment. It’s what I’m doing now, not what happened this morning. When emotions calm down (Ativan helped), then I can reflect. Now is time to take care of myself.

Difficult, difficult, difficult. Easy, easy, easy. More like, a little from column A and a little from column B. Now it’s time to bundle up!