In honor of John

don  1

Two years ago I walked in to a physical therapist’s office not knowing at all what I was facing. I think back to that time in my life and it is hard to remember the fear and pain I was in all the time. It was so pervasive that I was unable to even sense how deep it was. I just lived with it. I did not know what flight, fight or freeze was and how the limbic system worked. I did not understand much of anything that was going to be presented to me in the following years. I had expectations of walking into his office and he would look at me, give me ten exercises and tell me to be on my way. “See ya next week.” I was so wrong.

Every week I would show up and like a terrified animal, I would wrap myself up as tight as I could get and almost cringe as I walked into the office or into his treatment room. I hated that yellow room. It scared me. But the daemons were all of my own making. It took months before he could even touch me to help me. Looking back it is hard to remember what it felt to be that scared all the time. It is hard to remember how hypervigilant I was all the time. I was a terrified human being whose bruises were apparent to everyone. I felt disconnected to everyone and everything. No one knows how really bad it was except John, who stood at the edge of the rabbit hole and extended his hand. It was his pulling me up to the next level that allowed me to fight for myself and ask for more help. His investment in me gave me strength and hope, something no one else had ever done for me.

Something amazing happened. I began to trust him. It was his faith in me and the courage he gave me that allowed this healing to occur. I asked to heal and I made a commitment to work on healing. My wounds were very big, some so deep that I did not even know all the pieces. Together we would eradicate the fear as they surfaced and together we would face them. I spent hours writing and sending him my thoughts; pages and pages of it. He patiently would respond with encouragement and hope. It was his hope, his light that gave me the strength to continue.

And I did continue. I found other guides who joined my crusade to aide me. I would crash and burn continually. I literally fell on my face once, but I spent hours doing face plants in a metaphorical sense. I think back and I wonder why would anyone go through something like this? Well, like the chicken, I wanted to get to the other side. We even would fight as I thought I wanted something I felt he was not providing. He was wise and knew in time I would get what I needed. Like a young child, he nurtured me and showed me that my impatience was not a bad thing but I needed to learn to trust. I still struggle with this but I am so much better.

My wheel has turned and I continue to grow. I have been blessed with a new teacher who I connected with a year ago. She has taken me places I never would have dreamed of before I walked into that small office two years ago. I write this in an effort to encourage others who are as afraid as I was to seek help and support. I am hoping someday I will pay back all that I have received by helping others find the strength to heal. I will never have the words to express the extent of my gratitude for all those who have helped me.

Tomorrow is my last scheduled visit with John. It is bittersweet because he has been such a huge part of my life. But because of his work with me, I know it is time to move on. I am hoping he will let me see him periodically.

Mr. Borden, know this: I will love you eternally. My gratitude will be demonstrated by continuing to work and grow and not falter on this quest. I know I was a challenging windmill, sir. Never doubt your power and magic as you do possess these things. My light burns bright because of your light. It will be with me always. Thank you.

 

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Do nothing

flying heron

The process of living life has many challenges and they are unique to each person. What is also unique is how people deal with things. My way of dealing in the past has been to shut off in fear and respond in anger. It is a common response for people with PTSD. My physical body has a mind of its own and would perpetuate the situation with pain. It has taken me years to understand this and a lot of therapy and help from wonderful people. It has been explain thoroughly and with compassion and empathy. I am grateful and know I have been blessed to receive such support.

But the dilemmas keep coming and that’s life. Truly that it is  what life is about. We are given situations on a continuum: some good, some bad, some great, some tragic and some just perplexing. We must keep going. I have learned this and understand that present moment is not an escape from reality and issues, it is dealing full on with the moment with the clear understanding it is only what is now, not what has been or will be. But that does not make it have any less impact.

I am also learning (not quite there) that I cannot control the outcome by trying to change others. The only person I have control over is me. I do not even have control over the situation. I must deal head on with whatever it is and know the one thing I can control is my reaction. My reaction is as unique as I am and they vary from situation and issue. My biggest hurdle is my safety level. This has been extremely difficult for me to get a handle on. Because I often do not feel safe, I react (and I was going to type poorly but that is not fair either) with the methods I know. I have to build my repertoire of reactions. And one of the reactions I am going to work on is not feeling guilty for not being perfect and having reactions.

So in answer to the issue I am facing currently and in response to the question what are you going to do about it: the answer is NOTHING. I am going to do nothing about it. I am going to let go of the tight grip I have and see what happens. I am clearly aware that my safety feels threatened and I need to evaluate if that is truly the situation. And that is all I am going to do. One reaction at a time.

Turing 60

river morning

This coming week, we are off to the River. It is the first trip this year. Usually, we go up just when the ice is flowing off and the trees are just starting to wake up. But we did not this year. I need the River so much right now. Next Sunday, I will turn 60 and I cannot think of a better place to be. I am struggling mightily with this. I have all sorts of phobias and fears associated with aging. The alternative is not very enticing either. I am grateful for being alive this long.

fledgling eagle

The last couple of years have been a review of my past. I have been looking at things with the guidance of some wonderful people who have helped me to see things for what they are. I feel I have grown wiser and more balanced. I would not trade the experience for anything and yet, I never want to go through it again either.

But now, here is this number staring at me. I cannot avoid it. My mother did not see 60. She died at 59 from an aggressive lung cancer. I was 23. I thought she was not really old. I remember her mother, my Gram, when she was 65 and she WAS old. She had kinky grey hair, and boney gnarled fingers. Her eyes were sunken with dark circles. She had a tough life until her daughter, my Aunt took her in. My Aunt and Uncle were millionaires and they took great care of her. Gram died in her sleep at 92. My Aunt died bitter at 89. Her life was her husband and my Uncle died suddenly six years before and nothing was the same for her. She too, went in her sleep while in hospice care. Although my Aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer at 21, she survived with no re-occurrence. She and my Uncle had a great life, especially in retirement. I never saw my Aunt as being old.

My Aunts Ashes and Flowers

MY Aunt B

My father lived to be 71. He went in pieces. He had several bypass surgeries and had his leg amputated when he was in his early 50’s. His side of the family has factor V Leiden which is a blood condition that causes clots. They did not know much about it back then. His mother, my Nana, had it too. He slowly built up plague on his tubing and that caused him to lose the leg and other plumbing issues. It is his illness that causes me great fear. I also have the condition. There is nothing to do about it accept take Coumadin. I was diagnosed with it in 2003 when they found five clots, one located almost in my heart. I was totally blessed and have written about the experience as they all miraculously disappeared. But every time I have cramping in my legs, which I have often, I think…crap…here it comes.

dancing geese

This past month I have been having some major health issues. I have been like the golden goose and passing kidney stones. This condition came about from being over medicated years ago. The drugs caused my right kidney to stop working. I got it functioning back to 41%. This past few months, I have been passing stones again after none for several years. This past week, Tuesday, I was pleased to give birth to triplets, one stone being almost an inch long. One of my dearest friends, who lacks sympathy, has decided I should polish the stones (I have over 30 ) and open up a jewelry shop and call it Pissery Barn. In reaction to having a slow moving collection of stones in my urinary plumbing, I ended up becoming toxic. My output slowed down and what was coming out was battery acid. Yes, I have an immensely high threshold for pain. This was coming on for a couple of weeks. I finally went to the doctor who immediately reacted with more drugs. These drugs, I think, have caused another reaction which is to thin my blood too much. Yesterday and the night before, I was in horrible pain with leg cramps. The solution was to simply stop the drugs and eat a salad.

End of day

End of day

But all this, after not having anything so critical was very scary and disheartening. And then…there is turning 60.

I know I have so much to live for. This is the best time of my life so far. I have something I never had before and that is feeling safe. I think the fear of being so ill suddenly shook my newly built foundation. I have so little faith in western medicine. It was just like I was just getting my head fixed and my spirit in line and then the body went out of alignment. I have heard though that this is not that unusual in the healing process. I am hopeful that this too shall pass. I will find solace in the beauty and peace of the River and I am sure it will help heal me.

What amuses me is that the age of 61 does not bother me a bit. Maybe I will just skip 60.

all photos @jdemeis 2014

The Steady Path

Spring on Lake Ontario

Spring on Lake Ontario

It is time for my Sunday morning post. I used to write every day and although I enjoyed it, I turned the limited time I have before work into my time for meditation. It was a trade-off that has helped me to start my day with a little more calm and being a lot more grounded. I also have begun my nightly ritual of sitting in the garden and ending the day out there. We have not had a lot of nice weather lately and I feel cheated when it is too cold or raining, especially after the winter we had. Sunday is a perfect day to recap the newest steps and thinking from the previous week.
I am trying to reach a state which is what this recent part of my journey has been about. Homeostasis: the tendency of a system, especially the physiological system of higher animals, to maintain internal stability, owing to the coordinated response of its parts to any situation or stimulus that would tend to disturb its normal condition or function. I have been diligently working in many areas of my life to achieve this very difficult and sometimes elusive state. I have been reading and from my fellow bloggers, there seems to be a lot of us who are struggling with this. I wonder if it is actually a natural state or being human is made up of highs and lows. I think that is true, but there is a degree of height and depth that needs to be maintained in order to be whole and healthy.
The one thing that keeps the pendulum from erratically swinging is trust. I suck at trust. Anyone who has lived a life like mine would have issues with that. And it is not from living in the past either; it is living in the present completely and being aware. I have had to learn forms of protection and I am learning to instinctively know true danger in the present moment and what is a trigger from the past.
The next step I have taken is to let go. This has been very hard for me as the lack of control is frightening. But, I never really did have control, only the illusion. I am finding this hard because I have always been a goal setter and a scheduled achiever. The big issue is to feel safe and comfortable with simply trusting that the path will be laid out before me and it will be the right one. It does not help that I turn 60 in less than a month. I do not want to waste my precious life only to end up… see; I cannot go there as this only demonstrates my lack of trust that things will be fine. It is so easy to fall into this thinking. I am struggling with my mortality and the concept of being the big 6 0. However, I have never been so aware and my past is no longer a weight I lug around. There is  freedom in the wisdom of letting go. Having a spiritual path is the greatest privilege of being human.
And speaking of traveling a spiritual path, I realized that although the last two years have been a concentrated effort working with mentors and support, this journey actually began when I was very young. At one point around the age of eight, I wanted to devote my life to God and become an Episcopal nun. I got very heavy into Christian studies at 15 in an attempt to find refuge from the storm of my home life. I joined youth groups and was very active in my church. My first real mentor was a priest friend who faded from my life around the time I was 27. He has returned to my circle in the past year as a support. When I was in my forties, I turned to a Pagan path and studied the ways of the Goddess. I have a blended approach now which has only been enhanced by the work and influence of my recent experiences and studies. I have been reading metaphysical authors such as Florence Shinn and Napoleon Hill for over fifteen years and belong to all kinds of email groups with varying degrees of spiritualism.
So I am not new to being spiritual. I am new to the healing and being more even. My path is actually very long and had many turns twists, pot holes, trenches, mud pits and mountains. There will be more of that as long as the Devine allows me to walk the path. The difference is that the holes are not so deep and the mountains are easier to get over. I am equipped with gear to get myself back on my way and the confidence to work through the ruts and tunnels…most of the time. I am human and have doubts, worries and fear still. I am very new to this trust thing and have to keep working until this becomes a solid piece of my knowledge and inner being. Most days I am up to the challenge. What is a new part of me is that I allow the down time to heal and gain strength to move on, as moving on is what I desire. And as the path I travel on steadies a bit more, I move on with my eyes and heart open, trusting myself, being aware and mindful of the great possibilities of life. Amen, So Mote it be, and Namaste.