What if I’m not strong enough?

I can do this

I got it

Just break

I can’t

(Feeling weak, not feeling strong enough)

What if

I get it, the fear is still there. You can’t let it paralyze you.

What if I can’t?

That’s why we’re here, that’s why you invited us here…when you don’t feel strong enough, we lift you up

So many times I thought I couldn’t make it, this guy was there for me

I just helped her find the strength she already had

And now we are all here supporting you

Whether you like it or not

ABC’s a million little things…this show!! It’s like they are in my head sometimes…only more concise and articulate.

A couple months back, I was invited to join a women’s group on social media. The goal of the group: to support each other, to show up for one another in whatever way we feel comfortable. Gatherings are offered, though mostly we post and comment uplifting messages and advice.

The reason I mention this is that in this unraveling I experienced, I found myself, I found my people, and I found that lifting others makes me happy as well. But it doesn’t happen all by itself…we have to invite people into our circle, our world.

You can’t have the reward if you don’t take the risk. There’s a quote that sums it up beautifully:

When we are hurt or in pain, it’s tough to see the truth in this, I know. I truly believe it though, and the version of myself that I used to be was scared to take a leap, afraid of rejection, of judgment. These days, I’m still afraid, yet it doesn’t stop me the way it used to.

So I invite you all to cheer me on, lift me up, allow me to be part of your circle, and to let me show you your superpowers when you just can’t find them. It’s scary and it’s tough, and sometimes feels a little weird…just try it.

Feeling…supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

So I mentioned that I had some good news…I’ve been thinking about how to share some of my “wisdom” with others and I kept coming back to Louise and Sam’s rules for life that I blogged about previously. Louise Dietzel has an office in my state and so I decided to write her a letter and ask if I could share her rules in a children’s book (Sam passed away years ago).

I carefully crafted a letter reminding her of our previous encounters years and years ago. I explained to her that I have been healing from depression and that I feel a need to share what has helped…I asked for an opportunity to discuss sharing her rules.

And now for the best part: the minute she opened my letter and read it, she called me. I was in the midst of making pancakes and cutting up melon while 5 kids set the table. To say it wasn’t a good time would’ve been an understatement. But I took the call, listened and answered and asked if I could call her back in a little while.

After I hung up the phone, I started to jump up and down. I was smiling ear to ear and couldn’t find any words to describe the feelings…the kids asked, “do you have to go pee?” I smiled and told them that I was really really excited. It’s only a couple weeks later, on the eve of my resulting meeting with Louise, that I finally found the word to describe how I was feeling after that phone call:

SUPERCALIFRAGILISTICEXPIALIDOCIOUS

Stay tuned to hear about my wonderful meeting with her!!

Friendship Follow-Up

Faced with changing and evolving friendships, I’ve been examining what I expect out of my friendships. One of the things I didn’t realize is so important to me is being physically present. I’ve had pen pals in the past, and though the letters were a bright spot for me, they were punctuated by seeing friends in real life. The outings and visits sparked more conversations and commonalities to continue to build a relationship, galvanizing the connection.

a hug or looking into a friends eyes is the ultimate affirmation of friendship.  It cements the connection and relationship between myself and the other person, and it is the most authentic and meaningful way to show someone you care

I suppose that’s part of why we become friends with those we spend the most time, like our colleagues. And I suppose that’s why people like me, who work alone, struggle with friendships…or maybe it’s the other way around? Huh.

Grief 5 Years Later…

I’ve experienced a lot of loss in my family, my husbands family, classmates, community members…but the loss of my dear friend Laura was the roughest on me (sorry mom). When you choose to bring a person into your circle, into your life, it’s got a different significance than who you happen to have in your life already.

Laura was kind, thoughtful, but also down to earth and flawed. She held her flaws close, but shared them with me from the beginning…we had a comfort with each other almost right away that was easy. I’ll never forget the evening she told me about the lump in her neck…

We were having dinner together on an early November evening. She had the roasted garlic potato soup and I had the pumpkin ravioli. We chatted quite a while and when I noticed the lump on her neck, she said she’d have it checked as soon as her insurance kicked in in January. While I completely understood waiting for financial reasons, I told her not to let it go longer than that. But that evening, I had the thought: it’s cancer and she’s going to die. I can’t explain it, to have not just a feeling, but the sure and certain knowledge of what was to come was overwhelming. Sure enough, the doctor saw her on a Wednesday in January and took it out two days later on his lunch break, telling her he was 99% sure it was cancer. From there, scans and tests and chemo…and by July she was cancer free. But she struggled to shake a cough, taking steroids to reduce inflammation changed her appearance and did little to help..In October, they did a biopsy of her lungs, and she was hospitalized for good after that. Early November brought news that she wasn’t conscious, relied on a ventilator, and had an uphill battle. I knew she would not come back to us, I knew that life had been too hard for her, that she didn’t want to fight anymore, and that she knew letting go was the kindest thing her family could do for her. Her paperwork was quite clear: after two weeks on a ventilator, with no signs of improvement, she was to be taken off life support. She only lasted a week on the machines, her body just couldn’t keep going.

Laura was one of the most perfect imperfect people I’ve ever met. She was nurturing and gentle, and a dear friend. I’ve been finally allowing people into my heart again, and though I’ve been hurt, I’ve also been healed. I’m not much for heaven and all that, but I believe she is with me, and that she sent me a couple of wonderful people to help fill the Laura-shaped hole in my heart.

My husband’s response to my unraveling…

It seems only fitting that I write this today, after all it’s our 19th wedding anniversary.

He’s always been wonderful, spoils me, gives me room to be me, and makes me feel loved. But this last year, maybe longer, he’s been especially…adaptive, flexible, appropriately responsive, and steady (among other things, but these are the words I choose to add today).

In the interest of keeping this post from being reallllllly long, I’m going to make a list of issues and his responses as opposed to telling about each mini crisis…but if there’s anything you’re wondering, please comment, and as always, feel free to share any of my posts that you feel may reach someone!

  • Miscarriage: my last one threw me into a downward spiral, and he could tell I needed to brood. He gave me space to do that. He also gave me room to cry and be cranky without taking it personally.
  • Many naps: Depression can make you sleepy, and many evenings and weekends, I would disappear to my room to take a nap. This often meant he was doing dinner and the kid on his own, which wasn’t typical, but he never complained. He would wake me for dinner occasionally or wake me to do my evening meds, and he never made me feel bad about it.
  • Avoiding gatherings: whenever I felt like skipping a nieces birthday party or dinner with my folks, he would always make me feel okay about it and go on his own. It was just what I needed. He always made the appropriate excuses or apologies for me, and never made me feel like I was doing something wrong.
  • Depression: the loss of interest and apathy, he always tried to be honest without being selfish or manipulative or shaming. He was open to suggestions and discussion or silence and inaction.
  • Therapy appointments and bills: He worries about money, it’s just how he is wired, but from the very beginning, he never once complained about the cost of therapy and medications that I’ve needed. He has been incredibly supportive of my therapy appointments and subsequent need for a nap or a good cry afterwards.
  • New friendship with a guy: This is the big one, because for some reason, this guy I became friends with was able to reach me in a way my husband couldn’t. I had been down for a long time, sleepwalking through my life after my best friend passed. And though Phil supported me the best he could at the time, it was someone outside of our daily life that was able to reach me. And it was weird for Phil at first, I was so excited to have a new friend that made me think and feel things again, that it came across as something else…he would tease me about having a boyfriend, but I always knew I could be honest with my husband and I was. I said, “yes, it seems like that to you, but it’s a nice feeling to know that someone, who isn’t in my circle of responsibility, wants to hear what I have to say.” I reminded him that the flirty side he said he saw was just excitement at the thought of a new friend, since I’ve always struggled with friendships in the past. My amazing husband accepted that, said it was still weird to him but ok. He was okay that this man, who wasn’t him, helped me feel engaged in my life, he was okay that this man helped me to see I needed therapy, and he was okay that I leaned on someone else for awhile. He was even okay when I was sad that this friend hurt my feelings. And he was even okay when I talked about how my friends wife was jealous of our friendship. My husband empathized with her situation, but still gave me room to have him in my life.

And in turn for all of his adaptations and patience, I’m getting better all the time. Giving me all that support made it possible to move through some darkness and walk out into the light feeling strong and well. Our relationship is steadily improving, not that it wasn’t good, but after all these years, it’s important to reconnect. We are preparing for next years big anniversary with a party, and we are both happier and focusing on us again. He’s amazing and I’m grateful for the wonderful partner that I have by my side.

Spirit Animals…hmmm

When I first started to respond to the realization that I was unraveling, breaking down, I wanted to share with others what I was learning. I wanted to save others the trouble of falling apart, and give them a pat on the back for putting themselves first. So I volunteered to give a talk at our local wellness network. This is a group of other child care providers like myself with whom I feel comfortable and that they would benefit from hearing my story.

In the process of preparing a presentation, I came across an image that I have clung to throughout this process.

This image became a guide for me in a way, and I have been integrating reminders throughout my life in the form of jewelry, knick knacks, stickers…it helps to be cued whenever my mind wanders! It doesn’t hurt that I love the ocean…

Finding a spirit animal, or at least a favorite animal, can give a little direction, a little inspiration, and even a little hope. For a more in depth view on spirit animals, check out a guest blog

And by the way, here’s a little about my symbol of choice:

The Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle, known as “Honu,” symbolizes good luck, endurance and long life. Turtles can show up as a person’s guardian spirit, known as “Aumakua.” When lost, turtles are excellent navigators and often find their way home.Nov 3, 2014

The Meaning Behind Hawaiian Symbols | Walk Stories™ – OluKai

*Anyway, the presentation was well received: we brainstormed signs of depression, possible strategies, and I shared some quotes that seemed to reach folks. I was touched by the common issues we have all been facing and the openness that flourished in the room that night. See my next post for more about this…

Witnessing vulnerability…

This morning I had the distinct privilege of watching two women lift each other up. It was really wonderful and such a simple, but powerful, moment.

Two women with kids close in age, playing same sports, both experiencing similar personal challenges…just casual acquaintances on Facebook. One posts lots of quotes/statements relating to her struggle and triumph, and the other comes over and says “thank you for what you post, I’m in a similar situation and I love reading your thoughts” (or similar to that effect). The response is a shared smile and subsequent conversation about how great it feels to reclaim our free will, our independence, our joy…we need to be who we are and have the support of each other!

A few specific things stuck out for me:

  • Both women took an emotional, social risk. BRAVO!
  • If we don’t lift each other up, then who will?
  • Sharing helps. Just sitting there watching the looks on their faces as I listened, I could see the effect.
  • You just never know what people are struggling with, so err on the side of kindness and compassion.