Monday, June 30, 2008

Nibbling At The Edges

It's Monday. Tomorrow's the first of the month. I've spent countless of either of those days determined to revamp my life complete with a written list from A to Z. These days I know the urge to revamp happens when I'm feeling shame. Revamping is just another way of spelling insanity but that hasn't stopped me from spelling it 100 different ways, thousands of times. Since coming home from treatment 10 months ago alarm bells clang when I start forming a mental A to Z list. God help me if it makes it to the writing stage.

The flip side of that is that often I've thought - oh tomorrow's Monday, the first of the month, the last of the month, whatever, that's tomorrow.....I'll just keep engaging in this behaviour until then.

Shame is such a shitty companion yet today it's letting me know I need to look at what's going on beneath the surface instead of making some list of above surface activity as if that has the power to transform me. Shame could propel me into making a gigantic list with which I could convince myself if I just followed it religiously enough I would be okay. Except I won't let it. To try that would mean I'd also be gritting my teeth, white knuckling it and holding my breath until my rigid walls of perfection crumbled under my humanity. I think the longest I've lasted is 3 weeks. The longest 3 weeks ever. Okay. Really, my record is ten seconds but I could convince myself it's much, much longer if it weren't for those hormones that kick in at the 3 week mark. They mess with my denial every month.

The last few days of stuffing my feelings with food is what I'm feeling shame about this morning. While staying away from my binge foods I skirted around the edges as close as possible. Which is insanity in itself. Let's see how close to the pit I can get. That's right up there with sniffing empty beer bottles or sticking my nose in an empty bag of chips and inhaling deeply. Nibbling at the edges to see how close I can get without tumbling right in.

I wasn't interested in surrendering anything, although the thought did cross my mind. "Later", I said as I ate another cookie. "Later", I shouted as I drank a pop. I've forgotten what it feels like to go to bed certain that I've morphed into the beached whale's sister. It doesn't matter that I'm 60 pounds lighter than the last time I felt this way. I still felt like the morphing process was complete. And that's why recovery from compulsive overeating has nothing to do with weight anyway. Thinner does not necessarily mean healthier. Heavier does not necessarily denote unhealthiness. Recovery has to do with the journey between the head and the heart.

And that journey is taken baby step by baby step. No A to Z list will cut it. As I sat alone in the coolness of the church yesterday I thought about what baby step I could take towards sanity. I thought back to this post and how unwilling I've been to follow through with my gift to myself. I'm still looking for distraction. I sat there and decided a baby step could mean 5 minutes of being present a day. Don't change anything else Hope, just sit for that 5 minutes. Okay I can do that. I sat there very aware of how much grace I need. Of how screwed up life gets when I live it on my own terms and the hell with nudges from the Spirit or advice from a friend. I left church with less shame and more hope.

Then I came home and ate the rest of the cookies.
After all, it wasn't Monday yet.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Cool Safety

A cold slice of watermelon would taste mighty fine right now.
There's something weird about living in a land
where last week we scraped ice off the windshield twice
and today the temperature is edging towards 90F.

We have no heat in our church at the moment.
Last winter we paid a ridiculous amount
to keep the building heated.
Even so the pipes froze once
when the propane ran out.

So this summer we're in the midst of converting
the heating system to something a little gentler
on the pocket book.
The propane tank was already empty early in the spring.
There've been a few Sundays since
where I've kept my coat and gloves on
when I went up to do the first reading
and the responsorial psalm.
Be it coats, gloves, flip flops, or shorts
We all take it in our stride.

Today the building was a nice reprieve from the outside heat.
I went early to sit in the coolness and pray.
Rarely do I see a building as a place of safety.
But that one is for me.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Of Snotty Watershed Moments

Blessed relief came last night
in a most unexpected way.
Yesterday I'd told my hairdresser I just needed a good cry.
You know the kind that's full of snot and gulps and
so many, many tears.
Except those kind take something to set them off.
I can't just will them to happen.
They bring a relief which
tears welling up and spilling over just can't match.

In my email last night was a long letter from a dear reader.
I've often struggled to write something here
that isn't so inward looking.

Yet there was her letter, telling me how my navel gazing
has affected her journey.
I leaned my head against the wall, looked out the window
and sobbed my heart out as I read her words.

Snot, gulps and many tissues later
I felt more whole, less hurting.
My own hope restored by her
gift of words.
What earlier had seemed so difficult
was once again manageable.

Today was my turn to chair my home group 12 step meeting.
I went feeling tender,
tears being my barely-under-the-surface side kick.
We started with a few members and within
half an hour the number around the table had doubled.
I had prayed earlier to simply get out of God's way
in the meeting. To open myself to breathe space
in between what was being shared.
To hold each person up to the light.

I spent time before the meeting
litsening to a young man
a stranger to our town
share his story with me.
Blessed before the meeting even started.

During the meeting I was able to share
that my feelings were not a permanent sentence
yet it was a necessary place
for me to be today.
I told them of our mutual friend
who is in palliative care.
Last night he was rushed to the hospital by ambulance.
His days numbering less than a handful.
Some there know him as well.

After the meeting ended
there were many hugs
offers of coffee or lunch.
They sensed I needed companionship
in order to gain strength to go to the hospital.

10 minutes later we were breaking bread together
and a while after that one of them came with me
to the hospital to visit our friend.

He was barely coherent
not recognizing all who know him.
I sat for a while just watching him breathe
I went to his bedside and spoke to him
his eyes fluttering open
unable to form words with his mouth
though he tried.
I told him of the medallion
yet sensed he had not the strength to hold it.

I met his wife
on the elevator
and pressed his 30 year medallion
into her palm.
She said it had come just in time
as she closed her fingers over it.
She said his 25 year medallion was always in his pocket
and he'd hoped years ago, when he first fell ill with
another serious illness, to make it that far.
Now here was 30.

As I left the hospital and walked to my van
I suddenly realized
what a privilege it was
just to be able to walk.
Despite my weariness I had a flutter of
wanting to jump up and down a bit
because I can move my legs at will.
Just a few days ago my friend still had that ability.
Last night that ability ended for him.
He is bed bound now until his angels carry him home.

Some days all I need is perspective.
Let me rephrase that.
Every day all I need is perspective.
It doesn't make life's problems any less painful
they still need to be addressed
and embraced
but it reminds me that whatever
is happening
it's temporary.
Temporary can feel permanent
especially in the moment
but it isn't.
It just is what it is.
Today I can accept that
with a little more hope
than I had yesterday.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Journey Just Is

Today I embraced the sadness that's been
my companion all week.
Risen from the depths
it's been begging for release.

The tears came amidst a therapy session.
Grief rolled down my cheeks
its outlet found.
Decisions to be made.
Needs voiced
without apology
yet without expectation.

I wanted an easier, softer way.
My body has been letting me know lately
that easier and softer instead of
honest and direct
is too high a price to pay.

Yesterday the doctor recognized
the grief etched within me.
I saw it in his startled eyes
as he opened the door and
looked at me.
When he asked if I was there
only for injections
I sidestepped his question.
Kept it to lighter, safer stuff.
This kind of pain
needs to be felt,
not numbed
in order to heal.

So now the needs have been voiced
the easier softer way
has been put to bed
honest and direct
has taken its necessary place.

Part of me wants to jump up and down
protest that this journey
is too fucking hard.
But really the journey just is what it is.

Awareness feels like a double edged sword.
It cuts one free
and inflicts pain.

This too shall pass.
Not around
but through.
Always through.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

You Da Bomb

It's been a day.
Needled up in both shoulders.
Carpet bombing is what my doctor calls it.
Shove needle in, wiggle it around
can't locate spot that burns,
hit the bone, draw back and then
bomb the area with pain killer and hope it works.
We talked about alternatives to this.
Acupuncture was suggested as my best bet.
Somehow I don't think acupuncture involves carpet bombing.
I'm going to give it a try the next time the pain gets unbearable.

I left the CD recording of the radio doc with my medical doc.
He's a regular listener of the show and had to work ER that night so missed it.
I appreciate having a dr. who sees me as more than a list of symptoms.
We chat about the sale of the land and the documentary
as he pokes needles and wipes away blood.
Just another day in paradise.

The hospital was the next stop.
A CT scan of my head to make sure my brain's intact.
I don't expect the scan to show anything
other than my brain is indeed still there.
The dizziness and nausea are still semi faithful companions though
so a month ago the doc said he was anal
and wanted to take a look just to be on the safe side.
Today was the day to do so.
C'est la vie.

A quick trip up the elevator
to see a friend who is palliative
only to find out he wasn't in the hospital anymore.
His new 30 year medallion of sobriety was in my pocket.
Have I missed the chance to give it to him?
I still haven't made the phone call to find out.

Grocery shopping and gasoline finished out the day.
It is a privilege to be able to buy groceries.
We shop every other week at best so our cart was full.
I hope to be a good steward of what I bought.

When I go for my walk I watch
many vehicles driving by.
I live on the route that takes people [eventually]
to Alaska.
Daily I think about what a privilege it is to
be able to get in a vehicle and drive anywhere.
People bitch and moan about the price of gas.
It's a dollar thirty eight a litre here.
That's over 6 buckaroos a gallon.
But I say it's still a privilege to be able to buy gas
and go our merry way.
Yes,we buy less and we go on our merry way less.
But still we go.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Of Melancholy and Laughter

I feel melancholy today.
Down right blue.
Bitchy, too.
Hormonal as all get out.

Last night's dream was of little girls being abandonded or abused
and although I was in the house with them
I couldn't do anything to protect them
although I tried.
Wretched living conditions.
Scary men.
Sleep didn't come until after 2 am.

Dearest one and I snarked at each other a bit today.
I managed to halt my snarkiness instead of feeding it.
Then I looked inward and took inventory.
What was my part?
That's the only part I can do anything about.
Festering resentment
that should have been addressed
when I first started nursing it.
Or rather, should have been voiced instead of
feeding it at all.
What a concept.

I heard it said once that every time a person relives a resentment
their part gets smaller and the other person's gets bigger.

One good thing that came out of today
is that I realized how very little I snark anymore.
Snarkiness used to be my modus operandi.
I had no other tools to deal with things that pissed me off
other than to let them build and release,
build and release.

It never occured to me that I could calmly,
without getting emotionally all het up,
simply state my need, observation, thought
and leave it at that.

I didn't have to make it all about me.
Or them.
And so it goes.

Today's mail brought a CD version of the radio documentary in all its fullness.
Also some books I bought with birthday money.
One called Telling Secrets.
Very fitting considering the content of the documentary.

Another book was one I have looked at for the past 4 years.
Now it's part of my own library.
It's a humourous little book called The Little Monk. Reading it was a good antidote for my melancholy. I sat and laughed outloud as I read each simple statement and the explanation in brackets of how the little monk came to write it. It's a book of fiction compiled of our common human experience. Here's some of my favourites, fitting considering my day:
"Keep in mind that living with you may serve as enough penance to get into heaven." (On a day of bitter words.)

"If you lose your face, persevere; if you lose your head, halt. (On a day jam packed with contradictions.)

Silence was made so that we can listen to God. When God speaks through his creatures, don't cut him off. (At the bedside of a brother who at old age had returned to talking like a little child.)

Screaming Nightmares

I had a nightmare while I napped this afternoon.
Narrowly escaping the clutches of a rapist
I raced down several flights of stairs
ending up in the office of someone I thought would save me.
Except he acted like I was not in distress.
Just at the point where either he acknowledged my panic,
tears and fear or
I would start screaming at him
I woke up.
I think it was too traumatic to
deal with the pain
if this person had chosen to ignore my plight.
I'm thankful I woke up before I found out.

My shoulders are too sore for me to sleep.
It's been two months since my last set of injections.
Having them is a little like being in labour.
I grit my teeth and have to be reminded to breathe.
The doctor wiggles the needle around, sometimes hitting the bone
by mistake, until he finds the spot that burns.
Without finding it the medicine is wasted.
In goes the freezing and then comes some blessed relief.
I knew it was time to get them again when I found myself
taking pain killers with my morning meds today.
I've never done that before.
Did I mention that I hate taking pills?

I've forgotten how pain can distort one's perspective.
And how exhausting it can be.
Just typing all this has reminded me
to cut myself some slack.
It's okay to feel whiny.
Pain can do that to a person.
No wonder I ignored my list of simple chores today
and had a nap instead.
Sometimes I get so used to being in pain
I find myself functioning as if I'm not in pain.
I mean, I ignore my body's signals
until it shouts so loud I have to pay attention.

I needed the injections a week after my last set.
The emotional drain of doing the radio documentary
had the effect of escalating pain
as if the injections had never been.
But then I had a few days of relatively little or no pain
and thought I could hold out a little longer.
That's been my reality since the end of April.
A day or two of no pain followed by
unrelenting pain.
Give me a day or two of no pain and
I think I can hold out a little longer.

I wonder if my body ever thinks it's living a nightmare
that it's owner will not acknowledge.
No wonder it's screaming at me.
This morning I made the appointment
to get injections this week.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Icy Daylight

Dearest one said this morning they could bring on global warming any time now. This after telling me that youngest son had to scrape the ice off his windshield before he could go to work. It used to be that I guaged what time it was in the night by how dark it was. Pitch black meant the middle of the night. We are now in the season where dusk is as dark as it gets. To have eternal daylight and ice on windshields occuring within hours of each other doesn't add up here. Scraping ice off the windshield is supposed to coincide with shortening daylight. Oh right, yes, that's right. Two nights ago we reached the pinnacle of long daylight hours. We are now officially on the waning side of daylight hours. Perhaps the ice was just to remind us of that fact. Gah.

I guess in the spirit of gratitude at least it wasn't snow.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

600 Steps

This is post number 600.
Not sure there's any significance to that.
It has reminded me that putting one foot in front of another
for 600 posts has me further along on the journey.
Or at least in a different place.
It's sometimes embarrassing to be so honest with you all.
And sometimes embarrassing how much navel gazing I do in public.
Such as write about post 600.

Oh well. It's certainly been a journey.
So if I'm going to take navel gazing to a new height
is there a post of mine that you especially remember
or that made a difference?
Or is it just watching the twists and turns over time
that keep you coming back?

It's late.
I'm tired.
Dearest one is out of town on work related business.
Once upon a time we used to celebrate when
the other person would get the bed all to themselves
for a night when one of us was away.
Not sure when that changed.
But sleeping alone is not my idea of a good time anymore.
I'm tempted to wake the energizer bunny and see if she wants to sleep in my bed.
She has a habit of sleeping right up against me in a very comforting manner.

Anyhow sleep must come so I leave you with this poem by Mary Oliver. I think it sums up my journey through treatment and beyond especially.

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice --
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do --
determined to save
the only life you could save.

~ by Mary Oliver ~

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Weird and Weirder

I got this meme, listing ten weird things about oneself, from truevyne and tagged myself. Feel free to tag along.

1. Once I get a song stuck in my head - oh the poor saps who have to put up with it until my infatuation has run it's course. I guess the only saving grace is that I don't actually sing the song, just put it on endless repeat for months days at a time. Ok, weeks.

2. You gotta fold a towel a certain way to look right to me. Dearest one overheard me talking to my mom about this one day and afterwards wanted to know what "right" looked like. The man is the king of folding towels now. They look like they've been pressed when he's done folding them. I haven't folded more than a few towels since. Worked myself right out of a job. Towels folded in half and then again in half, then folded in thirds, finished end facing out, look fantastic.

3. However much I love all those nicely folded towels on the shelf there's usually a mass of dirty ones on the floor. Those look fine to me, too. Go figure.

4. I should be asking dearest one and kidlets what's the weirdest thing about me. I'm sure they could list ten things faster than I can type. (Leave 'em in the comments family.)I love to type. If I didn't have problems already with my shoulders I would be happy to get paid to type the day away.

5. I love a bawdy joke, a crude joke, dark humour, I do. Or a funny bumper sticker or what have you. On the weekend a lesbian friend of my sister's, bought a pin which said, "I can't even think straight." I'm still chuckling over that one. Repeating these jokes to the wrong people is met with stunned silence. The only problem is I can't usually tell who fits the criteria of wrong people until after the fact.

6. I can sit with piles of books, papers, stuff around me. But not with any residue of any kind on my fingers. Must wash hands immediately and go sit myself back down amongst the junk. Dearest one recently watched a show about slobs on tv and turned to me with a 'omg, she'll never change' look on his face.

7. Tie your long hair back if you want to come into my kitchen. Pugs excepted. LOL can you imagine a pug with long hair?

8. Family Feud is my favourite game show. Growing up on the prairies without cable tv,meant I wasn't introduced to this game show until I went east for college. Today, being a pj/couch day, I thoroughly enjoyed watching it.

9. To our friends dearest one and I are known as the heckler and the diplomat. Guess which one I am?

10. I wake up with a mowhawk hairstyle every day of my life. On the weekend I slept at oldest son's place after finishing the Relay For Life. His first comment when he came home again and saw me? "It's been a while since I saw the mowhawk." Thankfully a shower and a hair dryer fix the situation.


The energizer bunny is sleeping at my feet. She spent the 5 minutes before that barking at an imaginary enemy down the hallway. I had to open a bedroom door so she could tentatively peek and reassure herself that no enemy lived within. Youngest son's room does look like a warzone at times though. Well, then again, so does mine.

Yesterday my in-laws came over to work in our garden. They have just a little raised garden bed now and were happy when we offered to plant potatoes here for them. Yesterday they came to hill them and do a bit of weeding, something my mother-in-law especially enjoys. She with leukemia and he with congestive heart failure and there they were each with a hoe, enjoying a sunny afternoon in the garden. I picked weeds by hand, putting them in a 5 gallon bucket to throw over the fence. 15 gallons later the garden was weeded. I even found the Lavatera which had germinated despite the competition from the rag weed.

All that weeding means I have less spoons today than normal. Bending over to weed still takes a lot out of me. More than I realized. I have nearly 20% of my blood volume bypassing picking up oxygen as it does the loop and when I bend over my lungs protest and beg for air. Well, they don't beg for it until after I go horizontal so overnight they went into overdrive and are protesting as I type. Breathing deep hurts and makes me cough. I had hope to resume walking and yoga today but I think a day on the couch is going to be the wisest choice I can make.

Dearest one has a final exam tonight. He could use some prayer. Going to school plus teaching full time has left him feeling exhausted. The worst/best of it is that this will continue to be his reality as he was awarded a tenure track position this spring. That means he has 3 years to complete his Master's degree and then he'll receive tenure. On top of all that he is working hard on inner issues which he says is more exhausting than school and work combined. He is one courageous man. He's in a place where it's too late to stop the momentum of inner work/growth yet has days when the new awareness is so painful he'd like to erase the forward movement he's made if only to take a momentary breather. He's goes on a work related trip later this week and gets to see only daughter as a bonus.

Energizer bunny is now snoring gently at my feet. It's time to join her. Not in sleeping on the floor, mind you, but in sleeping. It's only 8:30 am. My body is screaming at me to pay attention and get some rest. I am grateful that spoonless posts are not the norm anymore, although they have been in the picture more often of late. This too shall pass.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Bone weary, heart happy

Thank you for the feedback on the radio documentary.
It does my heart good when people 'get it.'
It makes a difference to the producers as well.
I'm surprised by the number of people who cried during the listening.
Concentric circles where our stories intersect
create strong emotional responses.
If that's the wrong geometric figure excuse my mistake.
I've had little sleep in the past 24 hours.
A hot shower, some pain killers to ease the hip/knee/back pain
and I am off to la la land until tomorrow sometime.

I am bone weary yet heart happy after participating in
the Relay For Life last night.
The human body was never made to go 12 hours through the night
with 30 minutes of sleep.
Then again, it was never meant to grow cancer cells either.
I walked 4 to 5 hours of the 12.
You all know what a miracle and a privilege that is.

Here are two posts I wanted to share with you:
joyful subversion and subversive redux.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Skippety Do Da

It's been a long but terrific day.
Shopping with my soon to be daughter in law
reminded me how much fun it is to shop with another woman.
Especially her.
I figured out I can suck my belly in
in order to get the dress to fit.
But there's no such thing as
sucking in one's boobs.
What a dilemna.

Went to an AA meeting that was fantabulous.
The meeting opened with just two of us.
15 minutes later five more had joined in.
Sat there realizing I was feeling incredible peace.

On my way to see a friend at the hospital
I passed the homeless shelter in town.
On the grass sat a woman singing her heart out
in the key of pain and suffering.
She was singing Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah."

My counseling appointment came next.
A hope filled session
complete with challenges and new insight.

Met dearest one and a friend for coffee.
Lots of joking and laughter and an opportunity
to be generous that was received with surprise and quiet acceptance.

Bought myself a toy to celebrate my birthday tomorrow.
I always wanted one of them as a kid and so I get to be
a kid again at 46.
That's how I'll be spending my birthday.
Skipping around and around and around.

Stood in line at the grocery store.
Privileged to be able to buy the basics
plus a treat.

Came home and soon the house was filled with friends
who came to listen to the radio documentary with us.
First they all took a turn with my new toy and we all got to be
kids together again.
Cheering each other on as we attempted and succeeded
in being more coordinated than we ever thought possible.
Then they sang me happy birthday
and I felt loved.

Listened and heard the radio piece as a story
instead of the cut and paste, cut and paste version
that's been reverberating
in my head.
I done good.

People sometimes belly ache
(sucking that belly in or not)
about getting older.
Like it's a burden
instead of a gift.
So, so much goodness.
My cup overflows.


Sunday, June 08, 2008

More Birthday, Less Belly

One of the most frequent hits I get on this blog is for the term belly button birthday, which I wrote about nearly a year ago and reread today. It's a term used to differentiate between your birth day and the day you celebrate your sobriety.

This will be a full week. For those of you who are so inclined, my spiritual director, Fr. Charlie, is having surgery in a few days and prayers would be appreciated. He often talks about the ripple effects of transformation in a person's life. I am a beneficiary of the ripples of his own transformation. And I think you may be, too. He has held out a beacon of hope for me when I've been unable to see any way out of the miry clay. This past week he kept asking me the same hard question half a dozen times during our session. It took that many tries before I was willing to consider the question and answer. Fr. Charlie's seen every avoidance tactic I employ and is not fizzed by them in the least. God bless him.

The radio documentary airs this week. That same day I will see my therapist, say goodbye to a friend who was recently diagnosed with cancer and has only a few weeks to live, and visit another friend who has been on the brink of death so many times that I've pulled back from the friendship because I can't handle that we're not going to grow old together. Those are more words than any sentence should contain. Oh well. Trying to wrap my head around death continues to befuddle me.

My birthday is the following day.

This year I have more birthday, less belly. Typing that makes me grin because my brain goes into overdrive with too much information. Sorry. Sixty pounds less weight means less belly. The same wonderful rising bread dough punched down flesh that comes after babies and more babies and weight gains and losses and the ageing process that makes it all go south eventually. When you live as far north as I do going south has a nice ring to it. Okay, okay, I'm done being corny. Considering that I was born 12 weeks too early in a time when survival was not expected, I'm grateful for every year I age. No, I don't always embrace that pimples, wrinkles and grey hair can coexist. But in the whole scheme of things, every day is a bonus. I get to live this day.

Friday night I will be on a team for Relay For Life. For 12 hours through the night, one of our 10 member team will be walking around the track with 140+ other teams. The event is held at night to remind us that cancer never sleeps. You know, with my chronic health issues, what a gift it is that I can take part in something like this. Yes, I'll be spoonless for a while afterwards, but I will bounce back. I will bounce back. Well, with my extra skin and less belly, I'll bounce a little further. Everyone should be so lucky. And they aren't. And I'm really aware of that today.


A change is as good as a rest. I've mulled over the past few months whether it was time to give the blog a final rest but as you can see opted for a change instead. The coolest new feature is found on my blogroll where you can see when those blogs have last been updated.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Of Presence and Presents

It seems like such an old pattern, one that's been mine since childhood: I'd rather go looking for distraction than be present in this moment. Distraction was the fuel that kept my addictions alive and growing while I was dying spiritually and relationally.

Distraction, being stuck, avoiding this present moment, all came to a head yesterday. Next week I'll be turning 46 years old. Last year on my birthday I decided to gift myself with no more binge eating. One day at a time, sometimes one nanosecond at a time, by the grace of God and my willingness, it continues to be a gift. I've often pictured my binge eating self as a ravenous animal tearing away at flesh, out of breath and still not satiated. I've certainly wanted to go there this past year. For today I ask God to help me choose not to.

I've been mulling over for a few weeks now what this year's gift will be. Centering prayer is the answer that's kept coming to me. Centering prayer places me right smack dab in today. One on level I see that as a huge gift. On another it seems like torture. Which is why I keep mulling it over, hoping another answer will appear. Yesterday as I went to do Yoga though, I decided that centering prayer would dovetail quite nicely at the end of my session. So I set my pocket timer for 20 minutes and began.

I cried from beginning to end.

From my journal:
"The tears just kept coming. First of all that I'm being called to this kind of prayer ~ that it will be my birthday gift to myself ~ as I acknowledged that I start to sob. The safest place ~held in God's embrace ~ feels so scary of a place to go. So I told God that. I cried out, "Daddy, I'm scared."
Then I got an image of one of my prayer candles, lit within me. Acknowledging the Divine presence within me I saw it expand and fill my being. More tears. What people have been commenting on ~ my peaceful countenance, my brightness, my radiance, is all His doing. His presence within me shining. Like a firefly who simply glows because that's what it's created to do. All I can do is surrender to God and being illuminated happens despite me. I can stop striving.
Then came whispering into my heart, "intimacy is found in me." And I laid there and sobbed and thought about where I've been looking for that intimacy. In that moment I knew that true intimacy flows out of my intimacy with Christ and that when it's present it's because Christ is at the core of it. Otherwise it's a false intimacy. In Him, With Him, Through Him.
The phrase "Merciful Jesus" kept coming to me. With Reconciliation tomorrow how else can I approach Him?"
Then today, as I met with Fr. Charlie, came more clarity into why distraction remains such an attractive option. One of my recovery heroes, Earnie Larsen has a phrase, "Who's driving your bus?" by which he means, whenever you find yourself reacting to someone, or a situation, what age are you? Is it your 5 year old self driving the bus of your life, the teenage self or your adult self? Where are you reacting from in that moment? My little girl self survived childhood by looking for distraction. It was a necessary tool back then. Back then. When I resist living in this moment I am letting my little girl drive the bus of my life today. Realizing this doesn't magically fix anything but it does give me a new awareness. It makes choice possible.

During the Sacrament of Reconciliation today Fr. Charlie emphasized two things:

God loves you as you are.
God's graces are being poured over you.
Know this.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Flipping Pages

Tagged by Steve to complete Dr. Benton Quest's meme.

Here are the rules:

Step One – pull out a book on the book shelf.
Step Two – go to page 123.
Step Three – read and write out the 5th sentence.
Step Four – tag 5 more people.

Unlike Steve, who looked in 8 books, I looked in nearly 3 times that many. Darn. I have many books with scads of lines highlighted and not one of them was on page 123, line 5. So here is my excerpt from By Way of Grace by Paula Huston:
"We are in the presence of God, and like human lovers who 'are content, sometimes, with being near or within sight of the person they love without speaking to her, and without even distinctly thinking of her,' we simply rest in God's nearness."

And then here are several of my favourite books with quotes from page 123, just not on line 5. And yes, Steve, I did want to cheat, badly.

"But the God of the impossible won't ignore my cry." ~ Carlo Carretto in Letters from the Desert

"Most of us are living a life of addiction to our past - its mistakes and the guilt we carry - or to a future that drives us like a tyrant." ~ Fr. Francis Stroud, S.J. in Praying Naked: the spirituality of Anthony de Mello

"Gratitude makes us whole, not stuff" ~ Earnie Larsen in Destination Joy

"There is a kind of knowing, a kind of powerful conviction, that comes from spiritual emptiness." ` Richard Rohr in Everything Belongs.

Tagging whoever wants to play along.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

An Ember Letter

I came across a post on a new to me blog today that prompted me to write an email to a friend. An "ember letter" of my own, if you will.

What's that you ask? An ember letter is officially a letter between a postulant and their Bishop that lets the Bishop know how it is with them.

When I read the post I immediately thought how healthy recovery demands a daily ember letter of sorts. If not between myself and God, at least within myself. It could also be between me and my sponsor or another supportive person. The minute I start avoiding any of those options I am isolating and headed down a dangerous path. The problem is that isolating can feel so cozy and comfortable.

Last week my therapist asked me to take a step back and question what being stuck was doing for me. What the payoff was. I came to the conclusion, hashing it out with Bobbie, that stuck means avoiding being present to myself or to life around me. Stuck feels cozy and comfortable.

But it's where I'm at. That much I can be honest about. This week I've returned to Centering prayer because it's one 20 minute period of the day where I'm present or at least very aware of my inability to be present. It requires an honesty of me that is unavoidable. I didn't know 20 minutes could be so long.

I'm having a love/hate relationship with being stuck.
Waiting, waiting for something to happen.
It's such an old pattern.
Time to make a new groove.

In the true spirit of an ember letter
I know I am in a better place than I was a year ago.
A year ago I was preparing to go to treatment and feeling very scared.
A year ago I didn't have the tools and skills to do anything but
avoid my feelings at any cost.
A year ago I didn't know what it cost me physically to spend so much energy in avoidance mode.
For many days now I've written in my body journal
"tired, so very, very tired."
That's too high a price to pay any longer.
I see that now.
Grace to be present.
Not straining, nor striving.
Just be.
That's my prayer.

One Lone Bird

I am not a morning person.
I doubt I ever will be.
But when you live in a land
where the sun is now close
to never sleeping
one becomes a morning person
by default.

It seemed like just last week
I got up to go pee
and knew it was the middle of the night
because there was darkness.
Last night I got up
and looked outside and thought
it's that time of the year.
Where one has to be a master of shades of grey
to discern how close
to morning it is.

Then one lone bird sang
in the twilight.
Way too close to morning.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Day Is Done

It's time for a soak
in the shower and then bedtime.
I love my bed.
I love showers, too.
It's been a full day.
Mowing lawns.
Planting flowers.
A walk with dearest one.
Cleaning, dusting, vacuuming.
Chicken tacos for supper.
Ice cream for dessert.
Tomorrow might be a day
with no spoons
but today was worth it.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Easy Does It

There should be a halt button on blogs with a hand in your face that asks if you're whiny before they let you in. Don't say I didn't warn you. Go ahead and change the channel. I may still be whining when you return but chances are I'll be over myself by then. At least temporarily. We can always hope.

Seven years ago I had an episode of Bell's Palsy. It's never really gone away. Today one half of my face is tingling like I've been to the dentist and if I look in the mirror it has itself a mild case of dropsy. Having it flare like this is like getting a tap on the shoulder, reminding me to take better care of myself.

Dearest one is beside me listening to Supertramp as I type. A song that starts out with whistling. I turned to him and said, "Oh, are you whistling?" I've never heard a person whistle who wasn't also cheerful and I thought maybe some of his mood would rub off on me. Dearest one starts the song over half a dozen times and sometimes whistles along just to confuse me. I turn to him every time and catch him whistling once. Eventually I tell him to stop messing with my head. The half that still moves anyway.

Youngest son is in the livingroom watching mana depleting television.(Diablo fanatics live here) That's what we call it in our house. A year ago, when I was in a chronic pain group, I learned of a study which found people subjected to violence on tv had depleted immune systems for 2 hours afterwards and conversely when they watched something uplifting their immune systems got a boost for the same time. I don't really enjoy violent shows but that was motive enough for me to stop watching them altogether.

It's slowly dawning on me as I type that your immune system may be under attack from reading my blog today. However, if you whistle while you read, there's a chance you'll come out even.