Gallery-Written · Life · Mind & Spirit~Reflection, Habits & Self Care · Uncategorized

Lessons in Letting go.

The other day I was playing fetch with our puppy. Despite my inconsistent training she’s proving to be a very clever dog. I throw the ball, she runs to get it and when I yell “come” she brings it back to me. The part we’re still working on though is “give.” Most of the time she grips the ball firmly in her teeth and she holds on. If I try to forcibly pull the ball from her teeth she resists, or she pulls back. She will not share the ball until she is ready. But I’ve found if I gently hold the ball, while reminding her to “give” she seems to come to an understanding that the game can resume if she lets go. As we practice she comes to this realization quicker and quicker.

And as we played it got me thinking about what I let go of, and what I hang onto in my own life. Not unlike the dog I/we want to enjoy the game. And I don’t know about you, but when I started out regardless of what was happening I was all about the game. I would run after lots of things with vigour. But I can be a stubborn bitch too, ha! When it comes to releasing, I often struggle to let go. Somethings I can let go of easily. Usually the lighter things, the joy, the achievements. I can face them easily, I can even share them and talk openly about them, knowing that these things put me in a good light. I accept them and the game resumes. But other things I find difficult to let go. The darker parts of myself, anger, resentment, shame, my efforts to control (sometimes in the name of good or love), looking for validation, begging for attention, feeling embarrassed about all of the above and again the anger that has been an ever present companion in my grief. All of the things I/we might wrestle with. So maybe we hide them. Not just from others, we try to hide them from ourselves. Or we defend or deflect, we right fight, or shove them deep down so we don’t have to face it. We bare our teeth, and if anyone tries to get in there and look at what we are holding onto we resist. It seems no one understands why we must keep holding tightly to it. So we pull back, or we fight, or we twist ourselves up so no one can get it. No one must see it. But before we know it this friendly game of fetch and release, has become a tug-o-war.

Sometimes it’s internal, and it affects our physical and mental health (ahem, me). Sometimes it’s external, maybe we lash out, blame, runaway or hide. most likely it’s a combination. And we think we have no choice.

So we hold on. But I’m discovering if you hold onto it, you never get to escape it. Somehow, someway it’s right there even if we run from it. And you start to think the people around you are to blame. Why do they always have to test you? If not them, is the universe testing you? You find yourself thinking, “Seriously? What the f*ck!” all the damn time.

I’ll give you an example from my own life. My husband and I have been trying for another baby off and on for the last several years. The last couple of years I had been working really hard on myself, and my health issues. We were doing what we could and seeking fertility treatments. I couldn’t let go of this picture in my head of having another. But I started to realized the dream was getting in the way of enjoying what I had right in front of me. I would either feel really good and clear, or really bad and confused about everything (not just fertility). So after a lot of thought I finally decided to call it quits, I called the clinic and canceled the treatments for the cycle. And I thought I was ok with it. But I kid you not, the next several days I could not escape pregnant women. Every woman I see is pregnant. And then the final kick in teeth. Not even a week later, several people I know announce their pregnancies. One of which is a teenager, and the other is a drug addict. And while that news is great for them, I think my head almost exploded. I was home alone so I lost it. I beat up our garbage can while trying to rage clean. I went to town and tried to distract myself, but I couldn’t stop crying. I was bawling in traffic so I turned around and went home. I think I had let go of the dream, but I hadn’t let go of the emotional toll that infertility brings. Those emotions where just waiting to explode.

I had felt so angry and scared, knowing it’s not fair, ashamed of myself for secretly hoping the drug addict would miscarry, feeling that I’m not worthy as a woman if I can’t do this easily, fearing maybe I’m not worthy as a mother. I still hadn’t faced those things because they are so ugly. And what if I find out they are true? So I held them right there in my teeth, and as I resisted letting them go they persisted. And despite the struggle it’s so hard to admit that we are the only one standing in the way of game. By holding onto those emotions we stand in the way of our own peace and happiness.

But here’s the good news. I’m also discovering we always have a choice. And you don’t have to become a hermit or tell off every person you encounter. Because friends it’s never about “them,” or those things that happened to you. This is about you and how you feel about yourself after they happen.

I had previously deemed light as good or beautiful, and dark as bad or ugly. So I hid what I thought may be perceived as dark. Or I focused my energy on trying to figure out who was right and who was wrong, what was good, what was bad. But by doing so I denied the dark, and in turn I denied a part of myself. And the more I hid it (or the more I lashed out), the more I held onto what I believed were dark emotions. And the more I held them close, the more they blinded me. It became harder and harder to see or fully experience the light. And although at times I’ve wished it wasn’t so, I’m coming to accept that I/we are and will always be a combination of light and dark. And as I peel back each layer in this self discovery journey, I find more and more light and dark. Sometimes it’s not easy to let go, and as I learn I often make mistakes. Like I said, I’m stubborn. But now when I’m playing the stories in my head on repeat and I feel a lot of emotions bubbling up, I know there is something I’m holding back. So instead of fighting it, I gently hold myself there. I try to be aware of it, accept it as it is. Just cry, or yell, just feel it. I know I won’t let go until I’m ready. So I lay more love on it. I ask myself why I feel that way, I ask myself what I need, and if there’s anything I can do. And lately I’ve found it really effective just to look at myself in the mirror and say, “I was there and I acknowledge those feelings, thank you for the experience, I’m willing to let that go now.”

And while it’s taking a lot of patience and practice on my part, I keep getting better at it. And each time I let go, I accept myself more, I love myself more, I feel stronger physically and mentally. And the award for all of this hard work; I notice more and more light as I get back in the game. So bring it on self! Let’s play ball!

What are you holding on to? How do you let go? For those of you that are struggling with the chronic condition we call life today. I hope you can find enough self compassion to love yourself in whatever way you see fit. When life gets heavy, let love do the lifting.

Love you,

Jessie.

Gallery-Paint · Gallery-Written · Kiddos · Life · Marriage

Happy Mother’s Day to those in the trenches of infertility.

Thank you to How to Buy a Baby, whose words inspired this doodle.

Mother’s Day weekend can be really hard when you’re infertile and in the trenches, trying add to your family. It hurts so badly. While you may not hold a child in your arms yet, you are a mother the moment you open your heart to the idea of your child.

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You are a mother to hope. You are a mother to strength. You are a mother to perseverance. You birth these emotions and nurture them month after month in the place of a child in your arms, you nurture them FOR the child that will hopefully come. This is not a meaningless task. It has merit. Your hope for a child in your arms makes today particularly painful but you are mothering already on your journey to that reality. And that counts.

Gallery-Written · Life · Uncategorized

The way it comes out is right! Learning to walk with what hurts.

The other night my son wanted to break a wishbone with me. Naturally I have a jar of wishbones ready for all of our wishing needs. And every time we compete for one, he yells, “you’re never gonna win!”

It always makes me laugh, but in my head there’s a little voice that says, “story of my life.”

He won, and his happy little bounce as he silently made his wishes made me happy. But it got me thinking. I’ve been making a lot of wishes the last while. Actually I’ve been making a lot of wishes my whole life. Usually I’m wishing that something were different. I have a big list of wishes ready, but I never seem to win.

It’s just so frustrating sometimes. And while I try to make myself think positively, I quite often feel like I come up short. I don’t think I’ve ever had something just come easily to me. It seems like there’s always a catch. Some rocky terrain to cover before I can get where I wanna be. And then I just wish I was stupid, maybe then I could be content. Maybe then I could stop dreaming and just settle. Maybe I could stop comparing myself to every other woman, artist or mother. I wish I didn’t care so much about everyone else’s feelings, and I just wish someone would put mine first. Choose me first. I wish I felt desirable, and I wish I could just fuck cause I want to, instead of on some fucking schedule. I wish I could just enjoy love, without the fear of loss always hanging over me. I just wish I could be like the cool kids and not give a fuck, but the fact is I will always give too many. Sometimes I am crippled by all the fucks.

Sometimes it makes me think I should hide. It makes me want to run away. Pretend to be someone else. Try on another life, see if I fit. But I’m not someone else. I’m me. Even all the fucked up and annoying fucks I shouldn’t give, are me. All of the emotions that keep bubbling up even though I try to ignore them, are me. I don’t wanna ride the complain train. But I’m not sure what to do when everything that’s happened is out of my control. And I don’t know what to do with the angry feelings that keep trying to come out of me.

I recently attended a workshop though, and our instructor said “the way it comes out of you is right.” She said “Work on one area at a time, but remember to take a step back every now and then so you can see the bigger picture.”

Obviously she was meaning the art, but life is art, and I didn’t realize how badly I needed to hear those words. So instead of running from this funk I’m in. I’m trying to walk with it, let it come out of me. So I went walking last night. I was thinking and trying to figure out if I’m even on the right path. If I don’t even know what I wanna do or where I wanna go, how can I get where I want to be?

As I walked though, I noticed that my path has gotten smoother just by continuing to walk it. Some parts of the trail have blown in, so I’ve found other routes. Even on the bumpy parts I’ve noticed I’m starting to make my own little groove. And it got me thinking maybe the problem isn’t my path, maybe the problem is that I’m always comparing my path to others. Life, art, love, feelings, fertility—wishes, none of these things are meant to be a competition. Each one is just a path. And we will each have our own experience. For whatever reason, my circumstances have provided me with the odd bumpy and winding path. But I’ve gotten pretty damn far despite all that. I do get tired, but I know now that my strength is in my perseverance.

So maybe if I keep going I can make more wishes come true for myself. I have already made it a point to try to choose myself, and to love myself first. It feels right, it feels good. And come to think of it, I could even go fuck myself. Check another wish off the list. Ha! I’m always giving too many fucks anyway, maybe it’s about time I lay some of those fucks on myself.

And maybe one day, I’ll even be thankful for all of the wishes that didn’t come true. Sometimes it’s been the blocked paths that have pushed me to take another route. Sometimes those roadblocks, led me down paths that turned out to be even better than what I had imagined.

I think I just need to remember that just because one path is messed up, it doesn’t mean the journey is ruined. And maybe I don’t need to know exactly where the path is leading me yet, I just need to walk it. One step at a time. Find my own way. Make my own groove. Just keep working on one area at a time, and try to remember to step back now and then and appreciate how far I’ve come. If I like how it’s coming along, I can keep going. But if I don’t, I can always choose to go in another direction.

I’m just realizing that what really fucks me up most of the time, is that I start to think the picture I’m making is wrong because it doesn’t look like anyone else’s. And it never seems to turn out exactly how I envisioned it in my head. But maybe it’s not supposed to?

I want to end up with a sunny picture as much as the next guy, but maybe I’ve gotta paint with the colours I have right now. And I’ve been handed some dark ones. So why hide it. I can’t seem to get rid of what hurts, so I’ll hold it. Work with it. Walk with it. I need to honour it as it comes out. Sometimes when I’m too close to it, it seems like a mess. But when I take a step back and look at the big picture, it’s kind of a beautiful mess. The picture will never be perfect. But I’m learning however it comes out of me it’s just right!

Thanks for joining me! I hope you’ll also check out https://smartandsmitten.com/2019/07/21/to-all-of-the-people-i-knew-before/

Gallery-Paint · Gallery-Written · Kiddos · Life · Marriage · Uncategorized

#1in4 Couples experience pregnancy or infant loss.

I have read so many heartbreaking and touching stories this October, and I felt like I had to commend everyone for their bravery. It is not easy to allow yourself to be so vulnerable about such a personal thing. But I believe in my heart that our stories connect us. In times of hardship our stories ensure that we are not alone. And as thankful as I am that these topics are becoming less taboo, I have noticed a recurring theme in these stories and the comments that follow, and I thought I’d take this opportunity to ask a teeny favour of everyone. Could we just stop grading how bad each other have it? One person opens up and it creates a dialogue. Which is beautiful. But for some reason when we speak of our loss, especially pregnancy loss, we feel the need to grade each loss. “Oh Becky, I’m so sorry for your loss. I had a miscarriage last fall, but it wasn’t as bad. I was only a few weeks.”

It wasn’t as bad? Is it really less of a loss? Or just loss? Why do we do that to ourselves?

My husband and I have been trying to grow our family for the past 12 years. In that time we have had one successful pregnancy. I have always said I am very fortunate, because technically I have never had a pregnancy loss. Sometimes I even feel silly for getting upset about our struggles because it seems that some couples have it worse. Which frankly is just nuts. We try to grade how bad we have it in comparison to someone else. And from there we grade to what degree we’re allowed to be sad? It’s ridiculous. I do it too. I say well I have a step child and I birthed one kid, and I didn’t end up needing IVF yet, or I’ve only had a blighted ovum, that’s not a real miscarriage. But the fact is just because someone has it worse doesn’t mean your situation is not hard. Hard is hard. Loss is loss. Whether you have just begun trying to start a family but you’re worrying more and more as each month passes, or you’re a veteran to the infertility game. It’s ok to feel like it’s unfair-because it is. And whether you had a blighted ovum or a miscarriage the truth is you had joy and hope for a new life the second you saw that positive pregnancy test, and to lose that is devastating. So never feel like you don’t have a right to your feelings. As was once said to me; “you were a mom from the first time you cried about getting your period.”

It’s true.

It hurts when your heart is ready, but your arms remain empty. It’s painful, we don’t need to figure out if it’s more or less painful than what someone else is enduring —it’s just painful. That’s all.