Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Transitional times

Well first of all there's this: 

Yes I cut off my dreadlocks.

This was a decision that was a long time coming - I'd been thinking about it for a few weeks when I finally did it. It was time. I felt called by my spirituality to have dreadlocks and I felt called by the Universe to let them go. I had begun to use them to hide behind - my being was wrapped up in my appearance instead of who I am inside, my outside was no longer reflecting my inner journey. So, much to my family's dismay - it was time for them to go. I feel much lighter and more authentic - more me. I can focus on my inner journey instead of my outer appearance. It is kind of scary and to be honest, I miss them sometimes - I miss who they made me appear to be. But this is more honest and now I can really focus on my spiritual work. That is part of what's scary too, I can't hide anymore, not that I've been very good at hiding on this blog, but in other aspects of my life I do very well.

This all happened after I returned from an unschooling conference in New Jersey. It was the Life Without Instructions Conference and I came home feeling more committed to unschooling than ever before. I felt supported and less alone. The kids and I went without my beloved and we had a wonderful time in spite of missing him. I took time out for myself - I practiced good self care, while at the same time letting myself be honest and vulnerable. I gave the kids more freedom than they've ever had and I think it was really good - I think it built more trust in our relationships. I feel as though I grew as a human being and a mother. It was a very good experience all in all. I sometimes wish I could go back - even if it's just for a few hours - to get recharged. I admit this experience is one of the reasons I was able to be brave enough to lose my dreadlocks and put myself out there - no more hiding.

Real life waited for me here at home. Everyone got sick when we got home and we've all been battling colds, ear infections and the like since we got back. We're all on the mend now and the kids and I agree that it was worth it - we wouldn't have changed a thing.

I've faced some challenges since getting back. I've embraced the transitions in my life and I've committed to my spiritual journey through the 12 steps - I'm working daily with my sponsor - we've begun step four and I'm being challenged beyond my comfort zone, but I know I'm doing what's necessary for my recovery - one day at a time.

I've also faced some difficult times at our homeschool co-op and have discovered that I can not be what everyone wants me to be and that I can make mistakes and be talked about behind my back without it destroying me or my serenity. There are a lot of angry people in the world and I won't lie and say it doesn't hurt, because knowing that there are people who never took the time to really get to know me have decided to not like me or what I do hurts. I can't control how other people react to me or my decisions though, so I will do my best to keep working my program and be who I am to the best of my ability. My self confidence is shaken and I'm feeling really really vulnerable, but I will continue on to the best of my ability until I can't do it anymore. Then I will step back and take care of myself. I'm not there yet - I can still try to put myself out there - for now anyway. Co-op so far (we're only a few sessions in) is not as positive an experience as it was last year - I'm hoping that it will get better, but my expectations for the year were obviously too high - I need to just live in the moment to the best of my ability and take it all one day at a time. 

So that's where I'm at. I have some big plans coming up next month. I'm doing some work on my core beliefs using a kit that some good friends developed and I'm writing a book for National Novel Writing Month. I've decided to write a memoir about my struggles with depression. I want to focus on the journey through my last depressive episode with my family, but I'm going to let my muse take me where she wants to go - the Universe will guide me in my writing and it will be whatever the world needs from my story.

Last but not least, I'm at 253 days of abstinence - that's 8.34 months without sugar and white flour. I'm still trying to find the food plan that helps me lose the weight, but my abstinence is strong and my serenity keeps me going. One day at a time.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Morning Musings

Okay, if you read my last entry you know that I've been at an unschooling conference this week with my kids. It's been an amazing journey, but one constant I've maintained while here is my morning routine. I do my OA step readings, say my prayers, and do my meditative coloring with my coffee and light box. While sitting here coloring, I've been going over some of the choices I made to share of myself this week in some of the sessions. I've been open and vulnerable, sharing about my suicide attempt, my struggle with Arlo's death and depression, and my spirituality. I was thinking about how that made me feel and why I shared those things. I felt the inspiration to sit and write about my musings.

When I was a teenager and young adult and even just before my last serious bout of depression, that I would have shared these things from my past to garner sympathy and expressions of love. I was very needy at those times in my life and I needed, or rather thought I needed, to feed on that energy. Wow have things changed for me. Now I share these things for many other reasons. I share my struggles with mental illness to educate and to reach out to others who maybe feeling the same so they know they are not alone and that it does get better. I share about my loss because that was a defining time in my life and a lot of what I've been through including my responses to mental illness was colored by that experience. I share about my spirituality because that is part - a big part - of who I am, I'm a shamanic, druid, 12 stepping, pagan. I'm more willing now in my life to share of myself because I'm in a pretty good spot and am finally beginning to feel that I'm worth knowing.

All these things just are - they are facets of who I am and to hide them would mean hiding my light and I don't want to do that anymore. Did I second guess myself after sharing - Hell Yes! I was afraid the first day I talked about some of those things, but as the week went on and I realized that the people around me wanted to know who I am, it got easier. I no longer share this stuff to garner sympathy and to get kudos - I share them to, hopefully, help others to see things can get better and that a family can survive trauma and even thrive once they come out on the other side.

I wish sometimes that I didn't have depression and that my kids didn't have to see me at my worst, but on the other hand I believe the Universe give us all, the experiences we need in life. My children, though it was difficult, have learned compassion, independence, and how to come out on the other side of a trauma stronger and more able. This is a lesson I sometimes wish they didn't have to experience, but they are richer people for it. I try to protect my children sometimes to their detriment I believe, so the Universe took matters into Her own hands and brought the lesson my children needed through me.

Okay that got deep fast. It felt good to get it out on this page though. It's amazing to me the way the Universe showers us with blessings - even if they are hidden inside darkness - there needs to be darkness to see the light and to be honest, coming out of the dark into the light is one of the best feelings in the world.

These are just a few of the things I learned this week. How blessed am I.....

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Pushing my boundaries - in a good way ;)

Okay well this week from Monday through Thursday my unschooled children and I are at an unschooling conference - the Life Without Instructions Conference - in New Jersey. I'm pushing myself outside my comfort zone in a lot of ways, just by being here and honestly other than being a little tired and a lot anxious - I'm doing really well.

As many of you may know a few short years ago I struggled with a really bad breakdown of sorts after a long bout of depression - I ended up in therapy with my husband by my side clutching a stuffed bear the hospital gave me and the blanket my little Arlo Edward was wrapped in at the hospital (Arlo is the son I lost through miscarriage). I was unable to attend therapy for quite a while without my husband - I was really unable to do much of anything without him. This began a really dark period of my life that ultimately ended up with me in the hospital because I was trying to die by starvation. It was my third suicide attempt - feelings I thought I'd worked through in my teen years raised their heads again and this time I was ready for the help I desperately needed.

Why am I telling you all this? Well for a long time after that - years actually - I was too socially anxious to go anywhere without my beloved husband. I rarely, if ever went anywhere without him. Last year we started attending a homeschool co-op, the kids and me - without my beloved - that was a huge step for me. He eventually started attending with us (car issues) and I have to admit I was relieved because even after a few months it was really hard for me. Now I find myself hundreds of miles away from home, at a hotel, alone with the kids, pushing myself to connect with strangers. Luckily a couple of friends are here, so I have them to go to if I get too uncomfortable, but there are many, many many more people I've never met before.

Originally my beloved was supposed to be here with us and I've attended a bunch of talk sessions that blew my mind and I knew would be of great benefit to him as well, but in a lot of ways I'm really glad he had to stay home. I'm so proud of myself to putting myself out there and pushing beyond my comfort zone. I've met incredible people and I've shared of myself - I've let myself be vulnerable in a way I couldn't for a really long time. I'm also learning to trust myself again and to more importantly trust my kids on this journey of unschooling.

They, especially my daughter, has just blossomed before my eyes. The first day was really hard for me because I felt abandoned by my children - imagine my surprise - I really thought I was doing well at the letting them be free and trusting them to be off on their own making friends. I was wrong - I cried that first night in my room alone because they didn't want to spend time with me. I worked through it though - talked it out with my husband - shared my feelings with my teens. They assured me that they loved me and promptly took off to do their own thing. Isn't that beautiful, they are so assured of my love and my trust and that I know they love me, that they could take a few minutes to reassure me and then knew that I'd be okay. Wow! How far we've come from me sitting in a near catatonic state on the couch in so much pain I couldn't communicate with them - them on the phone with their father - him panicking calling my therapist.

I share all this not to gain sympathy, but to share my joy and serenity that I've come through the darkness into the light and now I'm able to be here, as anxious and nervous as I am, to share my light.   I also share this for others who may be in a dark place in their life to tell them - to tell you - Don't Give Up - it does get better - it may take time and work and patience and love, but it does get better. I'm a great example of that.