Thursday, September 5, 2013

Into Something Light

I woke up sad.  Angry.  Hurt and frustrated.  I received some upsetting news from home a few days ago involving the abuse of a child, a relative, and was not only upset by the abuse, but by the actions of those around her while she was being abused.

Sometimes I feel so far away. The emotions were exacerbated thinking about what I could (or couldn't) do even if I was back home in Alaska.  I wouldn’t have known about it and things were kept so hidden that it wasn’t likely I, or anyone else, could have done much more than what had already been done to try to protect and help the little girl.   Sometimes, abuse of one child ignites a fire of pain in me that feels like I’m feeling the abuse of thousands.  Even worse, I know the numbers of the abused overtime stretches well into the millions, if not deeper.   It’s like a storm, a storm I can’t deny or make smaller. So, I stood in it, trying not to let the deep feelings of pain, sadness and loss overcome me by letting them coarse through me.

I tried to soothe myself but found I just wasn't ready to be soothed yet.  I still needed to feel.  So I felt.  I cried.  I talked.  I wrote.  I meditated.  I let the torrent of emotion take me over. I stood with it while it raged.  

By mid-afternoon I was exhausted.  I was depleted.  I took a shower.  I felt clean and fresh.  I folded laundry.  I felt productive.  I felt organized.  I felt in control of my little space.

I listened to music based in faith.  I was reminded of the delicate nature of love and hope.  I allowed my mind to nestle itself in between gentle sounds and powerful words that blanketed my soul, with a life-sustaining embrace.

As I let the music seep into my body, I hadn't realized how much I was holding on to the emotion in my body.  How much I was holding myself back, from even breathing to my full capacity. Fear is almost always the root of anger so when we are angry, we are often guarded. Taut.  I took a deep inhalation and as I let go, let my chest deepen.  I encouraged my eyes to soften, which they did so easily it surprised me.  It was almost as if they were just waiting for my mind to give them permission to relax.  My jaw followed suit, releasing my teeth from a slight clench I hand’t noticed was happening.  With another deep inhale, I felt the muscles attached to my vertebra release their grip on my spine, creating more space.

All of a sudden, I was quite hungry and looking around my small apartment, cooped up.  I wanted to see the space I’d created in my body reflected in the world around me.  I walked outside, looking to explore a new area, someplace I’d never been.  I found this small traditional Peruvian restaurant.  I wanted to try something new from a part of the world I didn't know.  

I sat in a booth by the window.  I had spiced popped corn kernels with tzatziki sause while I was looking over the menu.  What an interesting combination of flavors, I thought. Warm, creamy, slightly spicy and crunchy. The placemats were made of a deep, earthy colored fabric. The water glass looked more like a goblet. The servers smiled genuinely and with a hint of curiosity in my direction. Almost as if they knew this dinner was a little bit of a secret moment, just for me.  Maybe it was because I was looking for it, or maybe it was because it just was; either way, the restaurant was warm and had a rhythm to it, like a beating heart.  I took it in, feeling each moment as it pumped fresh perspective into my body.  Looking, listening, breathing, eating.  

Noticing the way my innerself was reconnecting to the outside world, after being so emotionally depleted, I wrote this poem:

Sitting alone I ponder
Entirely public, I think
Nestled in my own understanding
of what it's like

to be.

Reaching in I write
to observe and reflect

I am not alone

but connecting

to the part of me
and the part of you
we most protect.

in this moment there are people
I didn't see at first

settling into myself
I can better hear their experience
better try to understand life through their lens

I sit and rest my lips
not pursed or waiting

in a smile, I breathe
and release the joy therein

all there is
all I’ve held
I let go.

Simply to relax.

I release my muscles
into something light

something soft
and supportive.

something strong, something sweet.
the joy of being connected
through the pain of life.

Really, you just can't break.

will your soul cease.

never will you expire.

You are you
in blood, in truth
in fire.

My muscles into something light.

When things become easier, progress

Something AWESOME just happened.

So many of you know that I had a really rough, somewhat nasty divorce and custody battle. It was pretty brutal and super long (4 years total in court/hearings/etc). When my ex-husband and I first split it was so heated, so intense. I remember for the first 2.5-3 years whenever I got an email from him I took a sharp intake of breath and all my muscles tensed. We were just not able to communicate and we were fighting tooth and nail over our son - the person we both most care for, yearn for and love.

He's a good person, a good dad but when we first divorced we couldn't find any middle ground, at all. It always felt like we were trying to etch a space in rock that just wouldn't break open. But the one thing we held on to each was that we knew the reason why this was so difficult was because we each loved our son so much. And that created a light at the end of this proverbial tunnel of difficulty that made the work bearable.

We've been divorced now well over 6 years and the custody stuff ended close to three years ago. We've worked really, really hard. We've learned how to listen better, how to say things more gently. I remember when he was talking to me on the phone about Una, something to do with school or his health or something - and made a half-joke, something that broke the tense, business like communication we'd had for so long. I was shocked for a second, like jolted. Then, I smiled so big and thought oh My God, we're breaking new ground! It's becoming less hard!

I got a email yesterday about something to do with my son's health. He had to move forward on one of our son's health situations (nothing big at all, super minor) and was informing me. He said some things that caught my eye - the Dr's last name was my ex-husbands, and that the doctor would perform the treatment at no cost but he'd accept donations. And I was like, oh - ok. I can do that. No problem I can send a donation!

I get an email back immediately that said it was a joke and they were able to find at home remedies that worked just as well. He said he was Dr. Kennedy and the donations thing was a joke. I was so shocked at first, I'm sure my face turned beet red and I had this huge smile on my face. We had never gone so far as to pull a prank on the other person. Ever. I was so thrilled that we'd finally gotten this far! I feel like we are now engaging on a level of respect and trust and even humor! We are finally letting our shoulders slack and saying, hey - we are in this together, right? Let's be friends. We aren't besties, but hey, it's a start!
— feeling great.

Divorce is hard, especially with children.  But the best thing you can do for your child is work as hard as you can on developing and maintaining a strong and healthy relationship with his other parent.  Step by step.