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

She Gathers Rain.

Ya know what? Marriage can be weird. It can really stretch you. Most people would assume (I think) that I have a decent marriage. And I do. We don’t beat on each other, and to my knowledge we don’t cheat on each other. We are good partners. BUT, the last several years we’ve gone through many changes! And with those changes we’ve had growing pains. We have been the best and worst of friends. And although I love him, there have been times that I thought I hate him. Although I had never been a jealous person, following a friends divorce, there were times I absolutely convinced myself he had to be cheating too. And there have been times I absolutely hated myself. Ironically because I myself have (mentally) flirted with a line we swore we would never cross. Through the years, when we have struggled, I wondered if this marriage is right for me. I think we both found it easier at times to tell the other person what they’re doing wrong, rather than look at ourselves. There have been times I wondered if it would be easier to throw in the towel. But somehow we never did. The last couple years we’ve gone through a lot of pain and loss, both together and individually. And it was challenging because we both had to deal with these things in our own way. It’s challenging because we can both be “fixers,” it was hard to allow each other to just go through what we needed to. He immersed himself in work. I expressed it outwardly through the arts. And although I had been feeling great, I’ve been in a lot of pain recently. I’ve also been pretty emotional as sift through a lifetime of buried shit. And as I peel back each layer I’ve been telling him everything that I’ve been holding back in my head and heart. And it’s been overwhelming for him I think, he doesn’t love talking about emotions. Sometimes it even seemed to make him angry. Sometimes I thought he wasn’t listening. Sometimes I thought he didn’t care. He’d ask me why I’m putting myself through this torture. But something inside of me just knows I need to do this, and I couldn’t stop now even if I tried.

Tonight though I was sitting naked, crying in the shower, trying to get some relief from the pain. He tried to comfort me. He didn’t try to fix anything. He didn’t tell me this too shall pass (I know it will). He said he was sorry I’m hurting. He said sometimes I make him think of the song “She gathers rain.” He wondered if it’s what I’ve been going through. And when he played it I just cried even more. Although I think and hope this marriage has what it takes, I know I can’t control anything within it except myself. And I know what I’ve believed about love has evolved. I know most people don’t want to hear it, but I know this will heal me. I know I am whole. And I also know that the more I love myself the better I am getting at loving and allowing others to love me.

I read a quote the other day that said, “sometimes love doesn’t meet us at our best, it meets us at our mess.” And as we shift into yet another chapter I think it may be true. Because as I sat weeping in that shower I thought I don’t need anyone to “get me” anymore but in his own way I think this guy actually does. Maybe he always did? He sees me. And I’ve never loved him more!

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

Dark Nights

From my “Dark Nights” collection.

Thankfully I’m not in this place anymore. But as I was going through some of my things I found this. There are others, little rhymes that scratch at the surface of how I’ve felt in the past. These are things I didn’t dare to share before. I was too ashamed. I would try to hide these parts of myself from my husband, the guilt, the shame, jealousy, resentment. Feeling like he’d never understand. So I tried to keep a lot of heavy emotions at bay and honestly I didn’t just hide from him, I hid from myself for years. In the light of day I’d try to white knuckle it, and mostly do ok. But I might blow up at the kid or curse out my husband under my breathe. And I’d wonder why they always gotta be testing me? Ha!

And then other days I didn’t do so great. I’d criticize everyone, society, my family, sometimes even my friends choices. There’s always something else you can focus on. Someone else you can criticize. For some reason in the light of day we think we can look outside of ourselves for the problem. But on the dark nights you can’t see anything but what’s inside of yourself.

And sometimes lately I’m still frustrated with myself, as I sift through years of mental build up I just want to get to the finish line. But I’m coming to realize there is no destination to get to in this life. Just more understanding. And as I re-visited this poem I was amazed and really proud of how far I’ve come. I want to share all of it, and I’m caring less and less how it’s judged. I’m getting to a point where I can honestly say I’m grateful, I’m thankful for all of it. The highs, the lows, the light and the dark. I can see how much I’ve risen above this moment, and as I give thanks, I feel a renewed sense of purpose to reach for the next experience. ‘Cause now I know the answer is never out there, it’s always, ALWAYS in me.

Love, Jessie

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

Think Grey in May.

In late 2010 I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. A benign (non-cancerous) but hormone secreting tumor, on the pituitary gland. Since then I have painted and drawn brains many times, as my brain is often on my mind. Since then I have had to adjust and even give up what I think my life and dreams should look like. I have grieved many times because of it.

I have had struggles to say the least. But as the great Frida Kaloh once said “at the end of the day we can endure much more than we think we can.” And as I was creating this piece for brain tumour awareness month I was struck by this truth. In my lived experience I have discovered that life will always find ways to bring us to our knees. But this is the amazing thing. We all have these choices. In every moment. I have the control to change how I am reacting to any given situation. I don’t fake positivity. But I now try to bring love to the situation. I legit say I’m sorry this is happening, I say this to myself, then I ask myself what I need. How I can love myself through this. When life gets me down, love brings me back up.

So here’s to 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 today in whatever way you see fit.

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Hey all thanks for being here. If you enjoyed this story I hope you’ll also check out https://smartandsmitten.com/2019/07/21/to-all-of-the-people-i-knew-before/