Energy, Self

I’ve been thinking alot about what happens after we die and where our soul/spirit/Self goes.

Part of this is reflecting on Willie and that I’m missing him, especially as the second anniversary of his death comes close. But it’s also part of a bigger question that I’ve been looking at for years before this loss as well.

For about the last 15 years I have not only practiced Yoga but also been a teacher of it as well. One aspect of Yoga that called to me and clicked with me when I began was the more “eastern” teachings of the Self and our journey in this life and beyond. I have been drawn towards the Buddhist teachings and principles beyond most else for personal reasons. Since spiritual beliefs are a hot button topic, I will suffice to say that my views are mine and yours are yours. Agreeing to respect each others beliefs is the base for me with regards to this.

In working and meeting with a Buddhist Priest last year to discuss grief and depression she had mentioned a base principle in Buddhism with regards to our journey of life in this body that we have for the “now”. She mentioned that each of us have a path and a reason why we’re in the body and the life that we’re experiencing now, this time. That a baby that is born still may seem like there is no reason for it but maybe that souls reason for being was simply to provide an experience for the mother that SHE needed to learn, or the father… or a sibling… or a doctor or nurse in the room…. the fact is that none of us KNOW and it’s not something for us TO know. We just journey. She explained that maybe Willie had learned and experienced what he was meant to and his journey was done. Or maybe his journey was meant to impart lessons for others and that was what his path was for this time. She impressed upon me that I won’t ever know the “why” that I am looking for and that its ok not to know. That was hard for me to accept. Still not sure I do, on an emotional level.

Watching a show this morning on reincarnation and rebirth brought back that visit and is what has got me musing this morning on this. I do believe, adamantly, that energy – what we are made of – does not just disappear when the body we are in dies. I do not believe in the biblical version of heaven and hell… but rather a belief that our Self moves on and continues. Whether that be into a new infancy and human life or as energy in another form, I don’t know.

I know that I had an odd experience about 2 weeks after Willie died that did make me wonder “where” he is… and more generally… where do we go. Do we wander about for a while or are slotted right back into a new start… who knows. I was at a movie with my youngest son and it was just before the movie was going to start… the house lights were still up and there were very few people in the theatre. My son and I were sitting waiting in our seats and there were so many empty rows around us. A young mother and her very little boy (about 2 years old) came up the stairs and turned into the aisle directly behind ours. I looked over and smiled at him and he smiled at me, a really cute little shy smile. The mother passed by behind me and as her son went past me, he stopped and put his hand on my head. It was the strangest sensation and it gave me goosebumps. My son looked at me questioning and I started to turn around to look at the little boy (who still had his hand on my head)… his mother was about 20 feet away by now and she glanced back, saw what was happening and said clearly “Willie, what are you doing?”… My heart skipped and the little boy said “just touching mommy”… and he let go and smiled and walked off with his Mom. Part of me was shaken but a larger part was calmed and at peace after that moment.

I don’t know so much about the why’s and the reasons and I never will. But I’m starting to see past the need for answers to just being able to know that what is, just is. Not acceptance but knowledge. Acceptance, to me, infers that something is acceptABLE… and this loss isn’t and never will be. So I’m settling for understanding and knowledge and belief that Who he is, still is… and still exists – just not with us here physically anymore.

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Stories

“I would rather have the worst day with you than the best day without you” ….That’s what I said to Willie when asked me why I wouldn’t just accept that he wanted to kill himself. That was the day before he died. We were on our way to what would be his last counselling session and he had tried to explain to me that while he understood that I would be sad at first, that, in the long run, I would “get over it” and life would be ok again. I’ll admit that I looked at him like he had lost all sense… and in a way, he had.

I didn’t know then that it was one of the last conversations that I would have with him or that, in all likelihood, he knew what he was going to do the next day and this was his way of saying goodbye…one last attempt to help me understand and accept his choice.

This isn’t to dwell or re-live though… this is to say that while life does indeed go on and that joy does creep back in and that I do see now that I can live my life with him missing… the truth is that I still feel exactly the same way as I did that day. I accept that I have to live every day of the rest of my life without one of my sons; it doesn’t change what I said that day to him, and it doesn’t change the truth of it. The loss of him will always be there, it won’t ever go away or be not a part of my life. But… it’s not who I am.

We all have a story of our lives. That’s what this thing called life is. Our story of this journey. But who we are… really are… is not our story – we’re not that small and limited. No matter how “big” we feel our stories are, we are more. We are limitless and boundless and unable to be confined and corralled in by beliefs that stop us from living beyond the cages we put ourselves in. A story tells about something… it’s a message, not the subject. Losing Willie is something that happened to me, it’s not who I am. He’s gone and I go on. Just as my other children are part of my story, Willie is and alway will be as well. Just in a different way.

Victories

This is traditionally a time of year to look forward and make resolutions for the coming year and set goals for what you want to achieve. While that’s certainly something that I tend to do, it’s harder for me right now. Grieving and moving through a depression makes it tough for me to plan and look forward sometimes. It’s a work in progress and getting better but it’s still a challenge. A close friend suggested that I focus on, and write down, the victories that I’ve achieved and celebrate those…. So here it is for the last year and a half…

1. I’m still here to write this list. There have been times this past almost couple of years that that wasn’t always clear that I would make it – but I have.
2. My kids are amazing! Ok, this may not seem like my victory but it is. Recognizing and celebrating the fact that I had something to do with them turning out so great is a big thing for me. Owning the great job I did as a parent didn’t come easy after losing Willie and the guilt that I still battle with.
3. I am living where I have wanted to be for many years. After many years of wanting to move to Victoria I finally made that happen. Gave away or sold almost all of my physical belongings and moved with only what would fit in 2 car loads … a new start in a place that is truly home.
4. I have a job that I love. I didn’t settle or give up. It was a struggle and many months of searching but I found a job that fits with how I wanted to live my life.
5. I am letting love into my heart again.
6. I’m having good hours – not yet at full good “days” but getting there …there were many times that I doubted that I would ever have that again, but I am.
7. I’m setting goals. For anyone who has lived with not wanting to be around you’ll understand how much that means to plan for the future – even if the future plans are just a week in advance.
8. I can talk about past events and remember them with laughter… still often times with tears… but now with laughter as well and more often.
9. I can read again. The ability to focus on words on a page – reading for pleasure – was lost to me for a very long time. Now, that’s coming back, thankfully.
10. I have hope. That alone is the biggest victory of all.

House of cards

We all have our “story” and our beliefs. What we know to be true about who we are and what we are…a story that is crafted and honed to solid and held to with fierce determination at times as truth. But what happens when the story we have always carried with us, the story that has shaped our actions and continues to is faulty? What do you do when you realize that you’re not happy and you’re not able to enact the changes you know you want to and need to in order to facilitate a healthy direction in your life? What do you do when you come to the truth that the only thing that is stopping you is your “story”?

I have spent my whole life taking emotions and feelings and controlling them. Making them go away or be muted so that I can function and be strong and do what I need to do. Starting with a temper that I was told I had to learn how to control in my early teens. A well-meaning discussion that set the groundwork for me. The rage inside me that was from something else… untouched and even unacknowledged… it came up as an uncontrollable temper in my pre-teens and continued to get worse as I got older. By the time I was 13 or 14 I had kicked holes in walls, bitten through pillows and destroyed more belongings in my fits than I wanted to think about. Always followed by remorse and hating myself for what I had done. Regret, So when I was told I had to get it under control I did just that. I would seethe and pace and see red but I wouldn’t lash out physically or verbally. It took a while but I learned to control it. I still felt it but I didn’t express it.

So it began. The rage turned inwards. I became anorexic, then bulimic when I realized that starving myself might actually kill me. My Dad passed away when I was 14. I had to be strong and supportive for my Mom. So I was. My relationship with her fell apart and I moved out at 15. I needed to be self-reliant. So I was. The years passed and I went from a sloppy teenager to a married woman with an almost compulsive organizational streak. Sexually assaulted shortly into my first marriage I took that experience and pushed it down. I wasn’t going to be someone who was changed or “damaged” by that… It wouldn’t affect me. So it didn’t. Outwardly.

Highly structured and detail oriented. List making, budgeting and meal planning to perfection. I did it all… worked around my husbands schedule, made all the meals at home, baking from scratch…always “yes” to every volunteer request at school. PAC president, hot lunch coordinator, scout leader, walking school bus and crossing guard – you name it, I was involved. Single parenting through most of it. People asked me how I did it all and made it look so easy. My answer was always the same “I just do – I love it”. And I did. My boys were, and are, my driving force and my greatest joy. I loved it all.

Every now and then through cracks would appear. Nights of tears that wouldn’t stop. Old behaviours that would rear up and I would have to struggle to control again. Eating habits always barely held in check. Compulsive exercising to try to achieve a body that I wouldn’t despise in the mirror.

Two marriages down. The constant in my life always being that my boys were my life to me. Oddly enough, I didn’t strive to control them ever. Instead, wanting to instill and impart in them a strength and a self-reliance so that I would know they would be ok. Raising them to question and ask and not just accept norms at face value. I wanted them to be independent of me and to even question my directions and guidance for them.

Then losing Willie.

My “story” that I am strong enough to get through anything, that I am in control of my emotions and that I can deal with it is shattered.

The walls of my house of cards, held together by sheer will that I want them there tumble.

As the months flit past the structure of my life unravels

Leaving only the foundation I started with – me.

Bare and raw and flawed.

The foundation that my life and my beliefs have been built on is cracked and unstable.

Now open to be seen. My “story” laid before me to see finally. The base belief that has shaped my actions and the story that I have lived with my whole life apparent to me. A consciousness that in order to move forward, this is what needs to be processed and what needs to be examined.

Awareness that the groundwork needs to be done to ensure that as I rebuild, it’s with a core that’s strong and whole and healthy.

The rest of my life to be lived without boundaries. Undefined by limitations place by myself or others.

I am not my story. I am simply….Me.