The Seeking Spirit

I came across a term today that struck me and inspired me to put to words something that has been on my mind for the last year or so.
“The asking animal”, a term used to describe the human animal. What it is that makes us different from the other animals that we share nature with. Got me thinking though… are we all “asking”, or as I phrase it, seeking?

There are those of us who are seekers. Those who hunger and thirst for the “why” and for so much more that the status quo in life. Those who aren’t content with just accepting. Those who see where they are, not as the destination, but as just part of the journey. Not to say that this is the same as being always looking for the next best thing or the greener grass just on the other side of the fence. I’m talking about seeking and journeying towards more intangible gains. The striving to understand, to grow and become “more”. To desire to expand and experience rather than to be complacent. The wanting to be a better Self, a more aware Self, a more realized and actualized Self.

There are those who simply exist and bumble along in their lives. Like someone who simply drifts in the canoe down the river while the oars rest in the bottom of the boat. Maybe enjoying the ride and even looking around and appreciating the view. Happy with the direction of travel but not in control of where they go or how they get there even. They never wonder if there is a different stream to travel; one that might offer an alternate environment. They never think to take time to rest in a nook, to get out of the current for a bit. They never pick up the oars. They never even think to, never mind act on the thought. They never think of the even more radical idea of getting out of the boat altogether and striking out on foot for the mountain in the distance. The live aimlessly and complacently with whatever comes their way.

It didn’t take me long to realize that the option of simply drifting isn’t for me. Seeking and growing is who I am and how I live my life. It goes beyond just acknowledging that I am in control of my reactions to what comes my way. It’s an awareness that , in most ways, I can orchestrate how my life is lived and experienced. I may not always have control over what comes my way, but the reality is that I, we, have more input than we think we do.

To seek, to yearn and be in a constant state of growth. This is who I am. Life took a bit of a veer off for me in my twenties as I stumbled through a bad marriage and trying to live as I “should” but about 15 years ago, I made a choice to change the way I was living. I embraced who and how I am. Embraced that the striving and constant yearning to seek is me…and that it’s how I need the people who I keep close to me to be as well.

This past couple of years, living with grief and pain and finally seeing that I am the builder of my life, again. Putting it back together again after it had been torn apart by loss. Part of that entailed rediscovering that my Self craves holding the rudder and oars of my vessel. That it’s who I am. That I am happiest when the people I hold dear to me not only accept but share this embodiment of living. Choosing to cultivate relationships with the people in my life as purposely as I need to craft the rest of my environment for my Self to live. Making choices in drawing closer to those who grow and feed my spirit through friendship, chosen family and loves. Persons who support me and nurture me and accept me, as I do for them. The joy of being with those who lift me up and who I delight in seeing thrive in their travels through life. Hard choices also being made to release from my life those who merely drift and whose path encumbers mine in an unhealthy and suffocating manner. Understanding that for some, the oars will never be used and it’s time to wish them well and watch them drift away.

It means being happy and content with what and where I am but knowing that to stagnate here and to stop yearning and growing and opening my mind and my heart is to die.

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Freedom from fear

I want to be free. A simple thought and one that overwhelmed me today. Not just that though…an accompanying thought instantly flashed that what I want is to be free of the fears that bind me.

  

The irony is that I’m not a fearful person… I’ve worked hard in my life to live my life not guided or limited by my fears. A childhood of debilitating shyness – shyness that impacted my actions to the point of anxiety and terror at new situations and people – bringing me to a decision in my early twenties to make a conscious choice to do things in spite of my fears…many times because of my fears. My choice of career at the time -personal trainer and fitness instructor- was one that truly terrified me to even consider. Which was part of the reason I did it. I was tired of being ruled by my fears. Tired of not doing what I wanted because of my fears.

 

Each fear I found I conquered and left in the dust. Scared of heights… Zip lining in whistler turned that into a thirst for more,  more adventure, more that I was frightened of but would not only do, but love.

It’s not that I’m not still afraid and scared ,  but it doesn’t stop me. Feel the fear and do it anyways.

 

So my shock today when I had that thought that I want to feel free … And that I don’t feel that….because I’m afraid. It was as if my Self just simply shone a light on something I haven’t seen in the past couple of years…

 

The deeply internalized fear that has been so buried that the surprise hit me hard today.

 

A fear of feeling. If I allow myself to feel good and to have joy and love and passion then that means that I also am opening myself up to the potential to feel the pain of loss and the hurt of emptiness.

 

I lost my son and that pain sparked a fear beyond any that I could process. The fear that I would ever feel that pain again.

A fear so big that I wasn’t even aware it was there…affecting my actions and my choices these past 2 years.

A fear that fights with my nature and my Self on the most basic of levels.

 

My nature, my core Self is one of connection with others and my Self. Sincere, genuine and intimate connection. This fear of feeling pain has been, and is, causing a struggle and fight that is tearing me apart.

As the haze of the initial grief burns off leaving me finally starting to move forward I’m able to see clearer.

Able to see that in some altered rationale in my mind this fear has a hold that I don’t want it to have.

That the fear of feeling pain has translated to a course of action that has brought me where I am now. A constant dance of drawing near and pushing away. My core, my Self, yearns for that connection and wants to embrace what I need and want. My fear has caused me to pull back every time anyone gets close enough that I feel that connection. So a dance ensues… With the fear , unknown and without my awareness until now, adeptly carrying me expertly away from the click… Because the most assured way to not be hurt by loss is to not have anything to lose.

 

So here I sit today and I ponder and I confront… And a conscious decision is made and this fear, like all the others, will fall as well…because I want to be free… And that means free of this fear.

It means letting people in and not pushing them away or pulling myself back. It means that the fear that has stopped me from intimacy … The fear that I’ll feel… Has to be faced and overcome.

The freedom starts now even, before actions. With awareness and intentions that will fuel and drive actions.

 

Don’t stick your *&%# in crazy

Not necessarily for the younger or easily offended reader…

We all have different communication styles and ways of perceiving information that comes our way. We draw from past experiences and references and interactions that have shaped how we process and assimilate information and feelings and emotions that we experience.

Depression, other mental illnesses and so many more things impact how we communicate and how others can communicate with us. There are the brutal and derogatory phrases that float around like “don’t’ stick your dick in crazy” which essentially captures the sentiment that people with mental illness are incapable of having mature, coherent and meaningful interactions because of their mental health status.

It’s a crude way of stating what is done every day. Someone who is identified as mentally ill is marginalized very often. I mean, let’s face it, loving with and being partnered with someone with a schizo-affected disorder isn’t easy. Neither is living with someone with OCD that controls their lives. Even “just” depression puts huge strains on a relationship and even the most amazingly supportive partner(s) will run out of what it takes to dance that dance. PTSD has a knack for tossing grenades of hell into a seemingly great day or moment just for the hell of it with no rhyme or reason – that always makes for fun. It clouds a person’s ability to sequence thoughts and formulate emotional reactions at times. Everyone is affected differently by any myriad of mental illness.

I can attest that living with depression and PTSD is exhausting. It’s a rollercoaster that you don’t want to be on and that you are so sorry when you look around and see that the seats are filled with other people being dragged along.

Being in the life of a partner who has a mental illness is a daunting task. Dealing with emotional swings and drops is one thing but just watching what the person afflicted is going through is hard too. I used to cry just watching how much pain Willie was in with his mental illness… and that I couldn’t fix it. Now being the one who has partners and friends who I see are dealing with me – the guilt and self hatred for what I put them through is horrible. The urge to isolate and just not be around anyone gets overwhelming sometimes.
I have always considered myself a good communicator and someone who not only listens well but also is able to express myself clearly and rationally and with a lot of thought given to making sure that I’m not clouding communication with emotions rather than getting what needs to be conveyed out there. Recently a partner brought to my attention that because of my PTSD and depression, there are “ways” to communicate with me that will take into account how those issues affect my ability to communicate. Does this mean that I’m not actually able to communicate and interact as well as I think I am? AM I living in a delusion that I am a functional partner in a relationship? Maybe the fears and worries I have that I am the problem is true – regardless of how many times they try to assure me that I’m not.

This has made me think … was my original thought last year that I am too damaged and “broken” to be in a relationship accurate? If there is a “way” that I need to be handled and communicated with so that I don’t fuck up communication in a relationship…. Should I even try? Maybe I should be keeping it at light and fluffy and friends with benefits rather than trying to establish and maintain a committed relationship.

I ask myself if I have been deluding myself that I do communicate well… maybe my own judgement is so altered by depression and ptsd that I actually AM the problem in relationships and that maybe the “don’t stick your dick in crazy” isn’t such a bad idea after all. Maybe I am too “crazy” to be on the receiving end of said member. Not that any of my relationships are at that point anyways… I am still too messed up to get that close to anyone.

Want or need?

We all have needs and wants and we’ve all had it drilled into us that wants are different from needs. That we don’t “need” all the things that we think we do; that, in fact, most of the things we think we can’t live without are just materialistic wants.

But what about when the line between what is a need and what is a want becomes blurred?

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking this week on this and how it affects my life and more importantly, my quality of life.

The truth is that we only need a few simple things to exist. Food, shelter.. really not much to live. Our society has become so stuck on wants that are perceived as needs that there is almost a disgusting sense of greed that so many think they need to have a life.

When I moved a year and a half ago, it was a long distance move from one city to another and I decided to make this the time to purge my “things” and start over. I held onto the most important items but very much cleansed my life of most of my material objects. What happened is that I have found myself living with the sense of “I have what I need, I don’t need more than this”.. true in one sense but the reality that has become obvious to me lately is that sometimes something that you think is just a want is really a need… when you look at living versus existing.

I can live anywhere… yet I moved to Victoria – and specifically to the area of Victoria that I did – because of a need to have a certain lifestyle to have a quality of life that’s not just a want anymore, but a need – a need to be happy. Being able to walk to work instead of drive in gridlock commuting… being close enough to the ocean and beautiful beaches to walk to on a whim and sit and stare and smell the air…having an apartment with character instead of a cookie cutter look… these are all, on the surface, extraneous wants yet to me, they have become needs for me to have a life that is fulfilling. Going back to the morning rushing and exhausting end of day from commuting hell is not something that is permissible now to me. This lifestyle is a need for me. Non-negotiable to my happiness; and my happiness is finally on my radar.

Just like we need food to fuel our bodies and enable us to live, our souls need nourishment too. You can argue that having love and companionship isn’t necessary and in some sense that’s true. I have spent the last long while living the truth that while friends are nice and feel good, anything beyond that isn’t a need for me. That I’m all good alone and that I don’t need anyone in my life to make me complete… and that is a truth… I can exist alone. Yet having recently started to let people into my life and my heart, it has shown me that what I have always perceived as a want may in fact be a need. Not in the way that I can’t live without love and companionship, but with an awareness that for my life to be the quality that I need, then having people who I love and hold close to me is fundamental to that happiness. Living openly in relationships that fulfill who I am and how I love is a need to me now in my relationships, no longer just a want.

We always hear “life is too short to live without….” and the simple truth is that it’s not the quantity of life, it’s the quality of the life we choose to live with that’s important. Sometimes the wants become needs and we don’t realize it.

Weekend introspection

“It has been said that something as small as the flutter of a butterfly’s wing can ultimately cause a typhoon halfway around the world – Chaos Theory”

As the two year mark since Willie’s death passes I am thinking on cause and effect and where I find myself in my life now.

There are times that we make conscious decisions to do something that we know will have an effect. Other times, we are unaware of how what we do affects others.

I’m someone that has been blessed to have many friends in my life who have helped me in the past, I’ve been the recipient a few times of anonymous “angels” that have provided for me at a time of need; I arrived home once after moving after separating from my husband at the time to find a bag of groceries on my doorstep. To this day I have no idea who did that for me and I hope they know how much of a difference it made to me… not only that week but to this day. Having a friend and client approach me one day and tell me simply that they were going to fix my transmission for me… because they could afford to and I couldn’t – and they cared for me and my family and wanted to help. Being able to buy a house because of help from people who share that belief that if you CAN help, then it’s right to do so. I believe strongly in the premise of “paying it forward” and even if I can’t do something on that scale, I do what I can… always have.

I count myself as incredibly blessed and lucky in my life in so many ways – even at my low points I recognize that I have it pretty good, comparatively. I have a place to live that I can afford without concern. Enough food to eat and my bills always paid on time. Beyond the material things in life, I have a life filled with not only friends, but acquaintances that I enjoy spending time with. I have a lifestyle that I love that I have finally made a reality after years of wishing to live differently. I recently have been lucky enough to have found love again – in spite of my protestations that I don’t want or need it in my life – and again, in a lifestyle format that is what I want, with more than one partner to call “mine”.

This past weekend was spent connecting with old friends and making some new ones… as well as a turning point in a great direction in new relationships. Emotionally draining and exhausting but renewing and empowering at the same time.

The many moments of overwhelming emotion this weekend that were caused by the knowledge that as happy as I find myself in so many moments… I also have that depth of grief and loss that is still there and still felt so profoundly. Ruffling every blink of joy the same way that a butterfly’s wing tip can cause a fury of destruction.

I hope only that those close to me – and those new to me – understand that the smile on my face and the love in my hugs is just as sincere as the tears of hurt when they flow. Both part of me… and neither lessened by the existence of the other – coexisting and balancing in my life. When the tears stop, I am grateful for those still with me to enjoy the laughter that DOES flow just as freely now – finally.