Sunday, January 5, 2014
Happy New Year! We made it. "The first year is the hardest" they tell me. I hope to find out they are right. Looking back I must acknowledge that I have made big progress. I never thought I would feel quite as "normal" as I do today. I have acquired many tools. I finally gave myself permission to see a counselor. I think the turning point came when no matter what trick I tried to play on myself, no matter the mantra, essential oil, music, book, I just could not experience the feeling of joy. I was growing impatient with myself. I had talked myself into this mess. I would tell myself "I cant feel joy" everyday until it was true, I couldnt! I went through the VA and was prescribed a machine called Alpha-Stim. It helps me so much. I just clip the electrodes to my earlobes, and turn on the micro current. I cant explain the sensation other than I melt a bit and my breath comes with ease. I know it works with nuero plasticity and since I have been using it and going to counseling on a regular basis, I am much less prone to sudden breakdowns and panic attacks. The same machine is used to treat vets returning from war.
Along with this treatment I have allowed my mind to wonder through the events in Virginia. Initially I thought is best to distract myself with other things or change my line of thinking quickly to something positive, like a mantra. But my counselor suggested I allow myself to make it through the thoughts so that my mind would not keep going back to it. I followed her direction and instead of pushing the memories away or knocking the needle off the record every time it started to play that sad song, I allowed the album to play from the first song until the needle was ticking in the dust. I used my breath to calm me and kept my eyes softly closed. I quickly realized that these are thoughts, memories, that cannot hurt me. My fear of my mind has been greatly diminished due to this exercise.
Trusting myself like this has been empowering. It has helped me make it through many situations. When I was called to speak at the ground breaking of Jacob Sportsmans Memorial Plaza in front of the Mayor and other officials, I trusted myself to come up with the right words. I prepared nothing and as I stood before that crowd and as I felt the compassion shining from the hearts of each person awaiting my words, I managed to speak and felt that I was guided by my spirit to say, among other things, "I am only standing here because Jacob carried me here today, he pushes me out of bed every morning, and leads me through every moment." I felt powerful and strong, even with tears streaming down my face as I spoke to each television reporter.
A few days later was Jakes birthday and one year from the day I got the phone call he was in the hospital. I wasn't planning on doing anything until his best friend Chuck called and said "lets do something for Jakes birthday" so before I knew it we had a downtown bar reserved and all his closest friends toasting and telling stories. It was wonderful and healing, not just for me, I would like to believe it helped each of these young people find some light in the darkness of their grief as well. We drank on the 16th and as the clock past 12am we walked to Jakes Memorial Plaza and set off many sky lanterns. Once we had most of them in the sky we all could hear the train whistle loud and long in the distance. It was eerie and cool. He was watching and he was pleased. We all knew.
Not sure if it was before or after the Birthday bash but Jakes memorial garden was ready to harvest and the farmers market was incredible. The harvest was grand and I was overcome with gratitude for each and every person, man, woman, and child that had planted those seeds and moved that dirt. Kris and his tiny little girlfriend Lindsey were a big part of that garden. He never missed an opportunity to help. The love that people like them put into this project showed up in the crops.
Then came Jakes "angel birthday" I honestly cannot remember what I was doing that day. November 26th. I am pretty sure I was on the phone with people who could console my heavy heart. I do recall telling people on that day and the days leading up to it, that I felt like the Salvation Army on Thanksgiving. I hope I do not sound too ungrateful, but what I am trying to say is, everyone wants to serve the homeless turkey on Thanksgiving but they quickly forget that those people are hungry all year long. So I it felt a bit like many of those who reached out only on this day or week, forgot that my heart was aching all year long and that no day on the calendar made it worse or better.
I think it was just before Thanksgiving when I got into an accident on a rainy morning in my wonder woman pajamas after dropping Jojo at school. It was so surreal. I remember making a left next to a four runner that lost control flipped around and was coming head on towards me. The weird thing is, I am usually the type of person who starts shaking and has to poop when I just have to slam on the brakes because the guy in front of me stops short. But not this day. I was calm. I remember thinking out loud. "this is crazy, they are about to hit me." But I never even twitched, no heart pounding, nothing. They swerved left, I swerved right and we ended up just crunching each other passenger fenders. I gotta believe, I was being protected.
I obviously am not very good at remembering dates but in November we also had the unveiling of Jakes grave marker. We had a small private gathering with chairs, a canopy and all his closest friends and family. We took shots of Johnny Walker and toasted. Everyone loved the stone which was a collaboration between me, his brothers and his friend Jon Meza. I am pretty proud of this representation of Jake. Now his friends can look at his grinning face and talk shit with him when ever they want.
Thanksgiving was magical. I made it my intention to experience joy with my family. As I do many mornings, as soon as I open my eyes I did a loving kindness meditation before any acid could hit my brain. Kinda sets the tone. Then I did my Alpa-stim with a gratitude visualization of each of my loved ones faces. By the time I arrived I was busting at the seams to share my love for these shining pieces of my heart. We danced, sang, hula hooped, drank great wine ate delicious food prepared with love and even had a yoga competition! I finally found the joy I was seeking and was proud that I helped create it as well.
Even though Steve and I broke up on the 20th, Christmas was joyful too. Initially I thought his timing sucked. What a dick! I have just been handed the torch for the big Italian Christmas Eve party because my parents are to ill to pull it off anymore. So much to do. Not really what a girl should be thinking when her fiance comes home from Christmas shopping and says "I am leaving tonight, there is no point of waiting any longer." But, ya, thats where my head was, which I guess speaks volumes. I cant say I blame the man. I withdrew emotionally months ago. No matter what our problems are, I have to respect the fact that they are really symptoms of the disease of grief and the stress from the trauma we have experienced within the last 14 months. I am still Steves biggest fan. He kept me alive when I could not sustain my life alone. He kept the laundry clean, food in the fridge and my belly, he monitored any medication I wanted to take in the beginning to sleep or find relief from the pain. I am not exaggerating when I say, he saved my life. The fact is I am proud of him and grateful to him for leaving me and his timing was perfect. What I wanted from him was to make me feel safe in the world when in fact, that is my job, I am my safe place. I thought changing our finances would be that safety but the fear I was feeling probably would not have subsided if he had offered up a 10 million dollars and a fat pension plan . The fear was from within me. I had also have never been broken up with or been single at all for that matter since I was 18 years old. So after a couple days of a tearful pity party, I quickly realized, this obstacle was yet another opportunity for growth. My new favorite quote comes to me "The cure for despair is always growth." So here I am growing like a daisy from the manure. I have signed up with a trainer, been hitting the gym. Reunited with my young niece, who has been a gem and although she thinks its perfect timing because she needs a good mentor right now, her words through her recovery are helpful to me as well.
I have challenged myself to stay unattached for 12 months. I know this work is necessary, there are lessons to be learned about myself and life in general. As I work on my vision board, I plan to face some fears and cross some bridges that have always been off limits. I have never traveled alone for pleasure, never attended a meditation workshop or major event without a partner. I have never even spent more than 1 night alone in my own house in my life or made it through an entire weekend without being accountable for my time to another person. Being 100% in charge of me is outside my comfort zone. I am already realizing that my better half has always been my place to hide, my excuse for not doing many things that I feel little scared of doing. I never realized what a little girl I really am and how few things I have experienced on my own. When your with someone who is watching out for you, you can just kinda go on auto pilot. Just yesterday as I visited library after library buying up their used magazines for my vision board I noticed a sensation as if I were traveling to a foreign land. I was conscious of everything from the landscape to the buildings architecture. This was a big aha moment for me. I wonder what else I will discover that I never noticed as I was being lead by the hand through life. I have plenty more "I nevers" and I will tell you about each one as I step outside my comfort zone to meet with each one. Keep your hearts open and your smiles on! I love you all!!