Monday, November 29, 2010

Party On... or not

I must say, this past week was not the easiest I have ever had: self doubt, foul moods, crying jags… A friend suggested it was likely hormonal (yes, menopause looms just over the horizon) and, if I look at it objectively, there could be more than a little truth to that idea but I also have to acknowledge that my codependent parts were having a party at my expense. And, I cant even complain that they didn’t invite me… it was held in my head. It was a yukky experience with negative voices down calling my every move and interpreting all as doom and gloom. I knew I was losing control to these parts but I could not hold my centre long enough to tell them to take a hike—there was no enforcement of inner boundaries; no self compassion; no reality. All I could do was listen and crumble. Like I said, not too much fun.

Luckily, there was a trusted friend nearby who could stand in place of my centre and express the voice of reason. She stood fast, reminding me continually of what was truth, what was exaggeration and what was downright falsehood. She gave me space to express my fears and self doubt while storing up my inner resources. She was a rock.

Regardless of the stage of our recovery, our codependent parts tend to find us when we are not at our strongest whether it be ill health, financial burdens, or hormonal imbalance. Sometimes we can reason with these parts, set up boundaries or tell them in no uncertain terms to get lost but, at other times, the ability to regain some semblance of sanity flounders. When that happens, we need to have a trusted friend, mentor or counsellor to help us back into self leadership.

As we say at The ARC Institute, it is not so much how many times or how hard you fall it is how effective you are in getting back up and coming back to your centre. I can usually return to Self with the tools I have outlined in the many articles of this blog but sometimes, as I found out this weekend, you just need to reach out and ask for help. And so I did.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Road

Once there were brook trout in the streams in the mountains. You could see them standing in the amber current where the white edges of their fins wimpled softly in the flow. They smelled of moss in your hand. Polished and muscular and torsional. On their backs were vermicular patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. Maps and mazes of a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again. In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery.

This is a quote, the last paragraph actually, in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. If you haven’t read this book I encourage you to do so. Yes, it is at times (okay, mostly) bleak and frightening but it is also a love story of a father and his son. It is a tale of hope and faith, and the brilliant flame within us, waiting to be ignited; waiting to free us from our fears. This flame is what connects us. It is a fiery bond that is shared between all that lives and when we acknowledge and respect that flame to it’s deepest extent we have no choice but to live in compassion and integrity. The whole book is haunting but the last paragraph reverberates throughout my whole being.

I thought of that quote after a conversation with a dear friend. We talked of our longtime friendship and I was able to see, more clearly, how over the years I have hurt her through my fears: how, in the effort to be safe, I pushed her away and had been unforgiving of her mistakes; how I betrayed her in small, seemingly insignificant ways. These were my codependent strategies for living: trust no one; use past traumas as guidelines for today; over extend myself to the place of resentment; avoid intimacy; and always expect the worst. We have talked about this many a time but this conversation was different, it was if the last veil was pushed aside. Perhaps it was because I finally saw how she never gave up on me: always spoke her truth and encouraged me to speak mine. She understood my codependent parts and, while not indulging them, infused our friendship with patience, space and boundaries so that my true self would eventually emerge.

Codependent behaviours can mimic the apocalyptic landscape of The Road. In hopes of a “better” life, our codependent parts can behave like those people in the story who hurt others in their desire to survive. These men and women were not essentially bad but, in fear of dying, they left unlit their internal flame and resorted to atrocities so that they may live. I, in fear of abandonment, dissolution and being hurt, fed off the negative and discounted the value of relationship. I was an island unto myself creating a false sense of security.

McCarthy wrote: "On their backs were vermicular patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. Maps and mazes of a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again". Each of our lives is a map of the world becoming. Before, and in the first few years of recovery, I was too hurt and embittered by the past to see the beauty and power of this truth. I did not treasure it and lost my way: the map became an endless maze of accusations and angry recriminations.

With regards to my friendship, I know it suffered loss because of the fears of my codependent parts. And, I know it cannot be put back together again in the way it was once imagined. It can, however, begin anew, with faith and love and belief that all hurt can eventually find a safe place to heal. As I reflect on this friendship with open eyes and heart experiencing a deep sense of safety, I am more than ever aware of the mystery of life, of “all things … older than man”. I am thankful to my friend and her intrinsic understanding that there was more to me than what my fears manifested.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Coming soon...

Just wanted to let you know that just because I had an anniversary, I havent given up on writing. Nope, the fact is I just got back from a week long retreat and my fingers are itching to start anew. I should have a new post up soon. So, until then, celebrate your "right to be": dance with joy; cry with full abandonment and indulge your love of whatever or whoever makes you tick with delight.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Anniversary Celebration

Its my anniversary! One year ago today, well, actually, November 8 but I am celebrating early, I started my blog. I had committed to one year and, believe me, it was no small commitment. For one, I am terrible at committing to things. Commitment has this faint resonance that murmurs, forevvvvvver. I can still hear my mother’s voice talking despairingly about “quitters”. This is not to say I haven’t quit things in my life but, in the times I have, the guilt lives on. I remember working for six horrid weeks at Safeway (a story in its own) and in every one of those weeks, coaching myself with “give it another day, it’s not that bad, you can do it”. That was several years ago but there is still a small part of myself that wont let me off the hook for quitting: a commitment is a commitment and a job needs at least a year, you owe that to the employer, you owe it to yourself. Arrgghhhh! What I really owe to myself is living a life that respects me and those around me. But like I said, Safeway is a whole other story. The point is, when I commit to something these days, I take it very seriously. I go in with eyes wide open and say, I will give this a year, if I cannot give it a year, I wont do it. What this ultimately means is that I commit to very little but, when I do commit, I really commit.

And now I deserve a pat on the back. Not only did I successfully fulfill my commitment but I established a writing practice. I had serious doubts about that also: fears of boredom and capability; fears of ridicule and a non-existent muse, but the bottom line is, over 60 articles later, I completed both, I have no plans to stop, and I am immensely proud of myself.

My anniversary present? I am not writing an original blog this week… I am going to cite some of my more interesting articles from the last twelve months.

Thanks for reading and sharing your views…

December’s Climate Change

February’s Interdependent Challenge – note: I have since changed my slogan from Mutuality, Respect and Community to Mutuality, Respect and Leadership. More on that later.

May’s Trust and Safety: Chicken and the Egg series

June’s Hunger articles

September’s Bread series

Monday, November 1, 2010

Jack of the Petit Dumpling

I carved myself a Hallowe’en pumpkin on Sunday. It’s been years since my hands have laid a knife to squash (for purely celebratory reasons, that is) and, you know, it felt good. I wasn’t planning on doing it. In fact, I told a friend a few days ago that I had no plans for Hallowe’en whether that be decorations, trick-or-treaters or crazy faced pumpkins. I live in an apartment, I said, no children live here. Besides, I am on the upper floor, decorations in my window would mean nothing. Jack-o’-laterns are for others to enjoy as they pass by your door, it would be for naught.

I didn’t think about what I had said until two days later, the eve of Hallowmas, when I realized that by saying “it would be for naught,” I was saying that I was unimportant: that my gaze upon a thing of beauty, well, sort of beauty, meant nothing. It was a subtle sort of self negation. Can I not create just for myself? Am I not worth it? Enough, I said, and got up from my comfy chair and walked to the store.

Now 5pm on Hallowe’en is not the time to start gathering pumpkins. We are all out, my local IGA man said. What, I exclaimed, no glossy jacinthe fruits of the vine? No, deeply painted nacarat or lurid shells to carve I asked? He started to back away. Oh come on, I said, what about saffron or even, yes, even a faded ochre husk that cries out to be cut (yet ever so creatively) open? Too late, he had inched his way back behind the boxes of Poptarts and Lucky Charms, lost forever in the land of pastel fantasies. They just don’t hire grocery clerks the way they used to.

I halfheartedly steered myself towards the root vegetables. Perhaps, I thought, maybe, I prayed, please I begged, let there be another form of marrow that will tickle my fancy. And, sure enough, there among the petit pan and carnival, the buttercup and golden acorn was my little wannabe Jack — a flavescent petit dumpling with splendid stripes of glaucus and a subtle croceate. I grabbed him by the nape of his stemmish neck, paid my $2, and ran home with visions of devilment dancing in my head.

It took less than five to perform the lobotomy and, after a few moments of decisive pondering I quickly slashed left, then right and scooped a bit there. An evil eye now watched me as I gave him a leer and pronounced him complete. With a strike of a match, my homunculus was born: a beautiful creation for a person of beauty (uhhh, that would be me) to perceive. Happy Hallowmas to you all!