Tarred, Feathered, and Upside Down on the Tree of Life

Snip snip goes the scissors cutting the strings, separating me further from the life I’ve known.  Having always played by the rules, always taken the harder path.  Worked hard.  Always I’ve worked hard.

Fighting to survive . . . fighting to not give up.  Never feeling like I’m enough.  I must learn more, do more, be more.  Then . . . maybe then I’ll be enough.  Maybe then I won’t have to fight so hard to exist, to live.  Maybe then I won’t have to work so hard to prove that I’m worth having here.  That I’m worth feeding, worth housing without working myself into an early grave.

Always haunted by this feeling that if I don’t do as I’m told, then my basic necessities for survival will be ripped from underneath me.  Keep in line, keep my mouth shut, and do as I’m told or I could be out on my ass.  Over time, I pulled any parts of myself that might get me into trouble or fired so that I could continue providing for my family.  Not wanting to be a burden on anyone.

I worked so hard for so long, doing everything right.  Willingly and consciously sacrificing myself for my son to have a solid foundation in which to begin his own life.

He turned 20 this September.  He tried to call me, but I found that I couldn’t answer.  The pain and disappointment of what he’s done is just now starting to sink into me, especially upon hearing how many years in prison he’ll most likely be serving.

“What was it all for?” I ask myself.  “What was the point of all of my sacrifice?  . . . What is the point of me now?”

Since the fateful day of seeing the news clip which featured my son being walked into court in handcuffs, I have found it increasingly difficult to stuff myself away in the name of necessity and survival.  It’s become more difficult to keep my mouth shut about what I’m really feeling.  Less effort goes into trying to be invisible.

It’s hard to be afraid of what others may think or do to you when the one thing that had made your life worth living has been taken away from you.

I have lived such a muted and unexpressed life.  I have played it so safe.  I have so much more inside of me than I’ve dared to show or share.  I would deeply regret my life if I failed to live up to my true potential, and so far I’ve barely tapped into it.

I found out a little over a week ago that my current work assignment will be ending, today being my last day.  Being a consultant, my agency is looking for a new assignment, but I can’t help but feel like the universe is trying to get a message across to me with all the kicking, biting, and slapping it’s doing while I’m face first in the dirt.

If ever there was a time in my life that I was being given the green light to start doing my thing, this would be it.  A world turned upside down with everything I’ve known until now being ripped away from me all at once.  There is a rare freedom felt in a moment like that.  Freed from the fear of loss with everything to gain.

Death And Rebirth In Mid-Swing

Nearly two weeks ago (June 10, 2015 to be exact), I received some news that has forever altered my life.

But first let me back up to the week before that.  June 2 I celebrated my 38th birthday.  It was a great birthday.  I was at work, but a coworker had scooted away around lunch time (which is nothing unusual), but returned along with half of the office, singing happy birthday with a great big cake for me.  It was all done with such warmth and sincerity that it was easily one of my best birthdays.  I had people calling and texting me that I hadn’t heard from in awhile.  It filled me with such a feeling of being loved and cared about.

This was a welcomed change of pace after an incredibly challenging year both professionally as well as personally.  My girl kitty dying, starting a new job after nearly 6 years, moving a month after starting the new job, a series of events that led to me kicking my beloved 19 year old son out of the house and he went to go live with my mom, one of my step dads dying (which hit me harder than I would’ve previously imagined), finding out my dad’s colon cancer had returned, and then having to work triply hard so as to not lose my job right around the Christmas holidays.

Which I did manage to keep, but I paid a steep price for it with my health.  After months of dragging my knuckles on the ground I finally went into the doctors and found that I had middle ear infections and was immediately put on round 1 of antibiotics and loaded up with all kinds of other things.  I was told that it was probably going to take a 2nd round and that it may take awhile to get better and to just be patient with the process.

I hadn’t taken an actual vacation in over two years, and it was around this time that I realized I was in dire need of some time off.  I started to feel very strongly that I wanted . . . needed to take off 2 weeks in June to go see Jay in The Netherlands.  It’s been over 3 years since we first met, and my god have we been through some shit together.  We weren’t even on speaking terms with each other when I first felt the desire to go see him for a couple of weeks.

I was so worn down by life at this point, that I was able to actually start seeing beyond my own bullshit to my real and true feelings.  I had let unimportant things get in the way of our relationship.  I wanted to try again.  Luckily, he felt the same.  I booked the trip and was scheduled to leave June 5th for two weeks.  After which, I would have a week at my current job assignment and then scheduled to begin a new assignment on July 1, which I’m very excited about.

This was my life as I knew it leading up to June 10th, in which I found myself sitting next to Jay on the couch when I received the fateful news.  And thank god I was, because heaven help me if I had been sitting by myself in my apartment in the Seattle area upon hearing what I did.

I was alerted to the fact that *something* had happened but wasn’t given any details surrounding it.  Due to the time difference and the fact that I hadn’t told everyone I was traveling internationally, I woke up to frantic “Are you okay?!” messages from my brother and a missed call from my mother.  Initially I remained calm and speculated on what the problem could be, with Jay.  But the more I thought about it, the more I began to panic because it was all highly unusual and made no sense.

Right as I was getting ready to wake up all of North America in order to find out what in blue blazes was going on, I received a text from my mother that simply read, “I tried to call.  Look up komo news Bjorn Anderson.”

Can I just stop here for a moment and say that these are the absolute last kind of words that a mother ever wants to see?

Something bad had happened to my baby.  My boy.  I didn’t yet know what, but I did know that it wasn’t going to be happy news such as, “19 year old wins Powerball lottery!”

I imagined a number of horrible things, including a terrible car accident.  I was already falling apart, my entire body shaking like a tree in a hurricane, crying and saying no, no, no, no, no not my boy, not my baby . . . Jay grabbing ahold of me and trying to hold me still, letting me know I didn’t have to look yet if I didn’t want to . . . but I had to.  I had to know my son’s fate.  I had to know if he still lived or if I had lost him.

In the days that followed, I was most haunted by the scene I first saw in the news clip, unable to comprehend it.  Watching people on the news I don’t even know, talking about my son.  This boy I had given birth to.  This young man that I love with all of my heart and that I had spent the last 19 years of my life dedicated to caring for and raising until last September . . . was now being paraded before me in handcuffs and a prison uniform . . . for the attempted murder of my mother.

I’ll leave it up to you to look up the details of their story if you so choose.

The rest of my vacation was spent calling everything in my life into question.  Grieving.  Processing.  Integrating.  Taking stock of my life, gaining clarity.  Decisions were made.

I’ve returned to the States, and today I return to work . . . but this will be my final year here.

I’ve lived the majority of my life on my own.  Soldiering through crisis after crisis with no one to depend on but myself.  But this absolutely crossed a line with me.  If it wasn’t for the care, love, patience, and support given to me by Jay and his family . . . I wouldn’t still be here.  Maybe in body . . . but me . . . the soul and spirit inside of me, would no longer be in this world.

It was made very clear to me that my new home is there and where I belong now.  I’ve returned only to start wrapping my life up here and to give time for us to make all of the necessary arrangements and planning.

My main reason for sharing what’s happened in this way is because I’d rather get it all out in the open for everyone to see.  I want my friends, coworkers, and family to all be aware of this huge transition that I am in because I don’t want to be isolated by it.  I don’t want to feel like I have to hide this big secret from everyone and be alone in it.

I don’t want to be isolated from any of you due to my sorrow and grief, which allows me to also openly share with you my joy and happiness of my upcoming wedding and move overseas.  These things have always gone hand in hand in my life.  A paradox of simultaneous deep grief and unbridled joy.

There’s no reason for me to hide any of it, as they are both a part of life.  I wish to share both with you, so that no part of me has to hide in the darkness anymore and feel lonely.

Although, much of that loneliness has already been alleviated by my soon to be husband, Jay.  We’ve begun to move in sync with each other, switching my worldview to one centered in *us* instead of *I*.  This is brand new for me.  I’ve never known this feeling before.  I feel that it really suits me.  I feel like it’s something that I’ve been longing for and missing all along.

In the coming days, weeks, months I wish to openly share this transition.  This bittersweet goodbye to an old life and hello to a new life.  A death and rebirth in mid-swing.

Love

The Fire Within

Some days when I look out at the world around me, I see everyone as someone that I have to protect myself against.  On those days, my long time companion of anxiety is along for the ride.  It’s hard to breathe.  It’s cold, lonely, and exhausting.  It’s harder for me to remember a time when life was good.  Small things start to feel like huge catastrophes.

On those days I feel like a big screw up in life.  I wonder what the point of me is.  I wonder why people tolerate me.  I feel invisible to the world.  I don’t feel like I matter, and I don’t feel like I am making any difference by being here.  I feel like I should be apologizing to each person I come in contact with, for not being more.  Not from a place of self pity, but from a lack of seeing it any other way.  On those days, that is just what is for me.

On those days I am usually quiet and pulled inward.  Contemplative.  I don’t want to make contact or communicate with another human.  I have a need to be quiet.  Re-charging.

On those days I make it okay to not be social.  I make it okay for others to misunderstand my actions.  I make it okay to not have to be immediately responsive.

Because I need to be still.  So still.  And quiet.  So quiet.

I have to let everything that’s been up and flailing it’s arms inside of me, to tire out and settle down.  Sometimes it can take awhile and the only thing that works, is for the *main* me to be so incredibly still . . . and . . . quiet.

Just like a rowdy classroom where the teacher is able to silence the entire room simply by standing there in a strong and silent presence.  A silence so powerful and strong that it cuts through the noise like a knife.

It reconnects the little girl me, who sometimes gets herself worked up into a froth, back to the big girl me who knows what is needed and what is best.

There are the days when the storm is quelled within.  Where I let go of the darkness that I wrap around me like a security blanket, where a completely different world is found on the other side, begging to be explored.

On these days, I must be expressive.  I can’t be quiet and I can’t be still.  I feel bigger and expanded.  Something in me swings open the shutters to let the warm summer breeze through to play.  From my core a silent song pulsing outward commands me to sing and be in movement.  Forcing me into a state of perpetually falling in love, warming and coloring the world around me.

I feel I have so much in me to give that my greatest desire becomes sharing all that I have freely with all.  I want to sing everything I say.  I want to dance in twirls and swirls on tiptoes as I sing out my heart.

It’s such a force of nature, it causes incredible physical pain to restrain it in any way.  It must be expressed.  It must be allowed entry into this world.

But I’ve always been such a serious little thing.  You would never catch me doing anything to bring attention to myself.  Wanting to join in on the reindeer games, but not knowing how to do it in the way that I feel flowing through me.  What comes out of me doesn’t look anything like what I see around me, so I know it will attract attention that I don’t want.  It makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong.

My differences from others has scared me so much that I’ve used all of my will power to keep this part of me still and silent under the surface.  Making me appear serious.  Making me known for being serious, intense, and stubborn.  I’m far from serious.  I’m just trying to keep any of my uniqueness from showing.  I have always been in the state of mind that others are dependent on me, so that means I can’t take any chances or risks that might endanger my ability to provide for them.

I’ve paid the price of not allowing that energy to have an outlet for expression, with my health.  I’ve lived with severe anxiety since I was 14.  Deep soul crushing depression from my teens through my 20s.  I know what true insanity feels like.  Not the kind people joke about when they’re being a little strange or are under temporary stress.

My life was a continual living hell.  I soldiered through.  I didn’t complain.  I didn’t reach out for help.  I put on a brave face.  I felt like I was dying every single day.  That was all I had ever known.

I continued this way until my late twenties, when something in me broke furreals.  I went down into the darkest depths of hell a person can imagine, and swam around in those waters for years waiting for someone to show me the way.  Nobody ever showed up.  Things continued to break in me, each one deeper than the one before.  Down into depths I previously didn’t know existed.

Down and down I went into the rabbit hole.

Until everything I thought was real and everything I thought was me was ripped away and I was left alone at the very bottom of a deep dark well staring up into pitch black darkness.

More time passed.  Afraid.

Until I reached a point where I had nothing left to lose, and like a feather floating down to Earth the final wrapping I used to tie myself small, fell away.

I lifted myself back up from the ground.  I closed my eyes . . . took a deep breath, and for the first time in a long time I could hear my internal soul song.

Having gone far beyond fear and terror, I extended my arms and the dance of Life that I had squelched tight in fear for so long, once again found it’s way into the World.  With it came a love so deep and profound, anything petty and unimportant was instantly burned away. . . anything that wasn’t real and true went up in flame.

Once the fire purified the path, then . . . then the Joy began to pour through.  Pure Ecstatic Joy that flowed through every vein of my body like warmed golden honey.  Everything in me opened up and became Radiated Light.  The world around me transformed into the Golden World and sparkled with Divinity’s Love and Consciousness.

Tired of fighting against it, I finally surrendered to all of who I was.

If I only had one message to give from all of this, it would be this.  Nothing is worth the hidden price you pay for denying your True Self entrance into the world.  Nothing.

The Fire Within