Relationships

Phoenix From The Ashes

Shadow.Ash.Spirit.Flame. - Gabriel García Márquez

Last November I finally told my Dad about my decision to give up alcohol. He’d never really known about my binge drinking or about everything that had happened because of it, mostly because we were not really close for most of my adult life and did not see each other that often. There were a couple of times when in desperate need for peace I asked him to take me to see healers or guides but I never really told him why and he did not ask. So, last November I explained to him that February 2nd, 2016 would be the anniversary of a life-altering decision I made in 2014. I asked him if he would have a thanksgiving hawan (prayer) for me. He said yes, simply and quietly.

Two weeks before Christmas Dad fell sick with pneumonia. It was really bad and on the fourth day the doctor told him there was nothing more he could do. Now, my father is very stubborn and may have decided to fight his illness just to prove the doctor wrong. For whatever reason, he pulled through and even though extremely weakened and still on oxygen and drips twice per week, he was up on Christmas Day, enough to have a few pieces of fruit on the family lunch table. As the days in January rolled by I had decided that I would not burden him with having the hawan for me, so when he called a week ago to ask if I would still like to have it, I was surprised and very moved. I asked him if he was sure he was up to the task and he said that he believed it would be good for him too. It would be a thanksgiving for both of us.

A hawan is a sacred purifying ritual, in which a sacrificial fire is built in a kund, and specific ingredients are burned according to Ayurvedic tradition. These fire ceremonies are performed for all types of occasions: to let go of patterns and obstacles in our lives, for healing, purification of the environment and ourselves, to pray for success with a particular venture, or to express gratitude. Before we began my father welcomed our guests and started to explain why we had gathered together. But the only words he managed to get out were “my daughter” before he was overwhelmed with emotion. I think it moved him that I’d struggled and ‘come home’, perhaps proving him wrong in believing that he failed as a father by never providing a “home” for his daughters to return to. I spoke up and explained that I’d made a choice two years ago which turned my life around and that I felt it best to honour what I’d been given. With my second chance and Dad’s health, our ceremony was a thanksgiving for my life and for his.

img_20160131_184749.jpg

Having not been brought up in the Hindu faith, even though my father is Hindu, I don’t remember much from my childhood in terms of the significance of the ingredients used and of the meaning of the mantras (prayers in Sanskrit) but my stepsister sat right next to me and guided me along.

The mango tree is a symbol of love, prosperity and fertility, and on Sunday it provided the kindling for our fire. Ghee (purified butter) was used to feed the fire and signified light being brought into our lives. Several little blocks of camphor was burned throughout the ritual. Camphor represents the negative qualities in us and when camphor burns, it leaves no trace. Guggul is a resin formed from the sap of the guggul tree, and has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for over two thousand years. It too, shrinks and removes negative energies. Sweet rice was added to the kund too as rice is symbolic of wealth and success.

Samagri is a mixture of spices and each item of the samagri is significant. Ashoka, considered to be sacred tree, is also a herb that fights disease. Loban (frankincense) creates positive energies, creating a seal locking out the inflow of negative. Harmal seeds crackle on being heated, acting like grenades and explosives in the energy field, and drive away the negative astral energies in the environment. Specific Sanskrit mantras were chanted and sung too and these, together with the offerings to the fire create purifying vibrations that are beneficial to all present.

As the fire burned, the fragrant aromas triggered happy childhood memories of running through bamboo arches with deyas full of light, of delicious food and lots of family.

image

Can you see the Phoenix? 🙂

I stared at the flames as they danced in the kund, charring the mango wood black then white. Dad spooned ghee over the ingredients yet to burn and pushed the camphor into unlit corners to ignite. There was forgiveness in those flames and hope in the heat I felt on my face. It is said that the smoke that rises from the kund contains a powerful healing energy, and as it rises to the heavens it purifies the atmosphere, both physically and subtly, encouraging peace.

For the last mantras (the ones I am the most fond of because they resonate with me, reminding me of a forgotten time) we rose to our feet. As the others sang I was very quiet, focused on the kund and what was left of the fire. I felt all my mistakes and my shame, guilt and remorse about them, reduced to black ash. I felt a surge of gratitude for all I have learned, for the courage and strength I was given, for all the new blogging friends I’ve made and the relationships with loved ones I was given the chance to deepen. I looked across at my father and he smiled at me. I am so thankful for this second chance. Late morning breezes began to blow, stirring the coconut and fruit trees in our garden into action. I felt love and reassurances all around me, from family, friends, the sky and sunshine, from myself.  Through tears I watched as the wind swirled, picking up the ash and carrying away everything I no longer needed.

“Happy New Year Phoenix, Year 3 is going to be even better.”

Love and light to you all, Phoenix

Advertisements

If I Should Have A Daughter

B (If I Should Have a Daughter)
by Sarah Kay

Instead of “Mom”, she’s gonna call me “Point B.” Because that way, she knows that no matter what happens, at least she can always find her way to me. And I’m going to paint the solar system on the back of her hands so that she has to learn the entire universe before she can say “Oh, I know that like the back of my hand.”

She’s gonna learn that this life will hit you, hard, in the face, wait for you to get back up so it can kick you in the stomach. But getting the wind knocked out of you is the only way to remind your lungs how much they like the taste of air. There is hurt, here, that cannot be fixed by band-aids or poetry, so the first time she realizes that Wonder-woman isn’t coming, I’ll make sure she knows she doesn’t have to wear the cape all by herself. Because no matter how wide you stretch your fingers, your hands will always be too small to catch all the pain you want to heal. Believe me, I’ve tried.

And “Baby,” I’ll tell her “don’t keep your nose up in the air like that, I know that trick, you’re just smelling for smoke so you can follow the trail back to a burning house so you can find the boy who lost everything in the fire to see if you can save him. Or else, find the boy who lit the fire in the first place to see if you can change him.”

But I know that she will anyway, so instead I’ll always keep an extra supply of chocolate and rain boots nearby, because there is no heartbreak that chocolate can’t fix. Okay, there are a few heartbreaks chocolate can’t fix. But that’s what the rain boots are for, because rain will wash away everything if you let it.

I want her to see the world through the underside of a glass bottom boat, to look through a magnifying glass at the galaxies that exist on the pin point of a human mind. Because that’s how my mom taught me. That there’ll be days like this, “There’ll be days like this my momma said” when you open your hands to catch and wind up with only blisters and bruises. When you step out of the phone booth and try to fly and the very people you wanna save are the ones standing on your cape. When your boots will fill with rain and you’ll be up to your knees in disappointment and those are the very days you have all the more reason to say “thank you,” ‘cause there is nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline no matter how many times it’s sent away.

You will put the “wind” in win some lose some, you will put the “star” in starting over and over, and no matter how many land mines erupt in a minute be sure your mind lands on the beauty of this funny place called life.

And yes, on a scale from one to over-trusting I am pretty damn naive but I want her to know that this world is made out of sugar. It can crumble so easily but don’t be afraid to stick your tongue out and taste it.

“Baby,” I’ll tell her “remember your mama is a worrier and your papa is a warrior and you are the girl with small hands and big eyes who never stops asking for more.”

Remember that good things come in threes and so do bad things and always apologize when you’ve done something wrong but don’t you ever apologize for the way your eyes refuse to stop shining.

Your voice is small but don’t ever stop singing and when they finally hand you heartache, when they slip war and hatred under your door and hand you hand-outs on street corners of cynicism and defeat, you tell them that they really ought to meet your mother.

You can find this new book by one of my favourite poets here: http://bit.ly/K_Bhbg

Or you can find it at any of these booksellers:
IndieBound: http://bit.ly/K_Bib
B&N http://bit.ly/k_Bbn
Amazon: http://bit.ly/K_Baz

Yabbering

Zuko_and_Toph

Toph: And then when I was nine, I ran away again. I know I shouldn’t complain, my parents gave me everything that I ever asked for. But they never gave me the one thing that I really wanted. Their love. You know what I mean?

I have a tendency to overshare. It was the most pronounced when I drank. Through the haze of alcohol drinking buddies and even acquaintances became “soul mates”. We were “destined to meet” and obviously had “a real connection” because after a few drinks we were pouring our hearts (and our personal business) out.

I am an empathetic listener and love psychoanalyzing people, so I have a way of getting people to open up to me. Of course, I always opened up about myself too. To an alarming degree at times. Then, the next time Sober Me (with a less than perfect memory of what we talked about) met the recipient of my confessions, I would be embarrassed and worried about how much I’d revealed. My new “friend” would be baffled by what appeared to be an about face on my part. I, on the other hand, would pretty much be ready to bolt.

I know why I did it. I told my personal stories to anyone who would listen, just because I needed approval and love so badly. I needed self-acceptance so much that I wanted someone who heard my stories to tell me that I was still a good person, not broken, or if I was indeed broken, say that I was made the more beautiful for it.

I keep the telling of my personal stories in check now, revealing them to only trusted friends. The reason why I share anything now has also changed. It’s no longer because I desperately seek approval or proof of worth, and is instead to offer understanding and compassion.

“Our stories are not meant for everyone. Hearing them is a privilege, and we should always ask ourselves this before we share: “Who has earned the right to hear my story?” If we have one or two people in our lives who can sit with us and hold space for our shame stories, and love us for our strengths and struggles, we are incredibly lucky. If we have a friend, or small group of friends, or family who embraces our imperfections, vulnerabilities, and power, and fills us with a sense of belonging, we are incredibly lucky.” ~ Brene Brown

~*~

This is Post X, in the A to Z Blogging Challenge 2015. My 26 posts are inspired by the quotes from Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, two Emmy award-winning animated television series created and produced by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. The setting for both series is an Asian-influenced world of martial arts and elemental manipulation. The shows drew on elements from East Asian, South Asian, and Western culture, and (aside from the kick-ass story lines, beautifully developed characters and exceptional storyboards) are where I found a wealth of inspiration and perspective on my own life.

The rest of my A to Z 2015 posts can be found here.

Wisdom In Understanding Others

Earth, Fire, Air, Water

Fire, Earth, Air, Water

Iroh: Fire is the element of power. The people of the Fire Nation have desire and will, and the energy and drive to achieve what they want. Earth is the element of substance. The people of the Earth Kingdom are diverse and strong. They are persistent and enduring. Air is the element of freedom. The Air Nomads detached themselves from worldly concerns, and they found peace and freedom. Water is the element of change. The people of the Water Tribes are capable of adapting to many things. They have a sense of community and love that holds them together through anything. 

It is important to draw wisdom from different places. If you take it from only one place it becomes rigid and stale.

Last night I was out for dinner and drinks at one of my favourite places. A friend of a friend joined us, let’s call him George, and at one point George brought up a guy he knew who was going through a rough patch, “He’s all doom and gloom,” George says of the guy, “then the next minute he’s analyzing everything. He’s the philosopher type, you know. Says whatever he is going through now is something everyone in their thirties has to go through. A sort of crash and burn so you can rise from the ashes sort of thing.”

Everyone chuckled and two of my friends shot me sidelong glances as I am the known philosopher of our group. I smiled at the phoenix reference, even though for a brief moment I wondered if my friends thought I was as annoying as George found his friend. I too, philosophize about a lot of things. I love learning and exploring so I can’t exactly help it. I do try not to wax philosophical every time I hang out with my friends. What made me laugh was that as George was talking about the guy he knew, all I could think was that I wanted to meet the guy to chat. 🙂

I find people’s stories to be interesting learning opportunities. Sharing our stories and the way we individually see life only enriches our shared experiences and fuels our understanding of and compassion for others.

From my story to yours, love and light,
Phoenix

~*~

This is Post W, in the A to Z Blogging Challenge 2015. My 26 posts are inspired by the quotes from Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, two Emmy award-winning animated television series created and produced by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. The setting for both series is in an Asian-influenced world of martial arts and elemental manipulation. The shows drew on elements from East Asian, South Asian, and Western culture, and (aside from the kick-ass story lines, beautifully developed characters and exceptional storyboards) are where I found a wealth of inspiration and perspective on my own life.

The rest of my A to Z 2015 posts can be found here.

Someone Worthy?

Bolin and Korra laughBolin: Korra and I are perfect for each other: she’s strong, I’m strong; she’s fun, I’m fun; she’s beautiful, I’m gorgeous!

Last night I had a dream. Minutes before my wedding was supposed to start I had my maid of honour fetch my groom. I was freaking out and insisted I talk to him. I was flooded with doubts about getting married. I sat nervously at the corner of the bar, (don’t ask me why I was at a bar in my wedding dress). I nervously fiddled with the square placemat on the counter in front of me, lining up its edged with the edge of the countertop as I waited for him.

He walked up with his eyebrows raised, “What’s up babe?”

Words tumbled out of me as he sat down at the corner next to me. “I don’t know what I’m doing? Why do you want to marry me? Why did you choose me?”

My groom was not as eloquent as Bolin, in fact he cracked jokes to make me laugh, whispering that he was marrying me for my bum, my funny face, my cute troublesome ways and because he loved me.

~*~

I woke up in a cold sweat. For one, the groom was someone I’d had a terrible break up with years ago. But the real reason for the panic was the residual feeling from the dream. I could feel the sinking, desperate feeling that comes with insecurity and doubt. I didn’t think I was worth getting married to.

In most of my love relationships I question if I’m worthy. I fear that I am damaged and beyond repair and too needy of reassurances. Of course I try very hard to hide that side of myself and deign to speak of it out loud. But I know it is something I have been trying to address: Where does this sense of unworthiness come from? I understand that the feelings are partly rooted in childhood, but at some point don’t we have to be responsible for our thoughts and actions as adults?

I know I am smart, funny, loving, considerate, creative, pretty (except with bed-hair), and I try. I am working hard to be a better person. I know how much I have grown and I am proud of what I have accomplished. Yet, most of the time I, that feeling is always there, lodged in the pit of my stomach. Deep down, I fear that I am not someone who is worthy of love.

Love and light,
Phoenix

~*~

This is Post S, in the A to Z Blogging Challenge 2015. My 26 posts are inspired by the quotes from Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, two Emmy award-winning animated television series created and produced by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. The setting for both series is in an Asian-influenced world of martial arts and elemental manipulation. The shows drew on elements from East Asian, South Asian, and Western culture, and (aside from the kick-ass story lines, beautifully developed characters and exceptional storyboards) are where I found a wealth of inspiration and perspective on my own life.

The rest of my A to Z 2015 posts can be found here.

Reconnect with Loved Ones

Toph and Korra

Toph: Your problem is, you’ve been disconnected for too long. Disconnected from the people who love you and disconnected from yourself.

Whenever I’m going through something difficult I have a tendency to pull away from loved ones. Especially in the past when I was still drinking. Sometimes it was because I felt ashamed or guilty for how I behaved and apologizing was too uncomfortable to deal with. Other times it was because I wanted to punish myself further and reinforce feeling alone. In other words I wanted to keep feeling sorry for myself. Sometimes I simply wanted space to figure things out, which is fair. But staying away for too long never did me any good.

I used to think that pulling away from loved ones would allow me to ignore my issues, but it didn’t. Over time and through much heartache, I learned that I can’t run away from the people who love me because in the end I need them as much as they need me. We are connected and share a bond because we were meant to be there for one another. Some journeys we cannot undertake alone and we should not put pressure on ourselves to do so.

I’ve learned that it is important to find a group of people (family members, friends, blogging community) who are willing to share your journey, cheering you on, caring for you, learning with you and helping you to heal. It is as important to also allow yourself to be vulnerable enough to ask for help. I did not do that in the past. I was ashamed and did not reach out when I really needed to. I equated vulnerability with weakness when it is actually the opposite. It takes strength to reach out and admit that we need help.

On that note, I am listening.
Love and light,
Phoenix

~*~

This is Post R, in the A to Z Blogging Challenge 2015. My 26 posts are inspired by the quotes from Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, two Emmy award-winning animated television series created and produced by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. The setting for both series is in an Asian-influenced world of martial arts and elemental manipulation. The shows drew on elements from East Asian, South Asian, and Western culture, and (aside from the kick-ass story lines, beautifully developed characters and exceptional storyboards) are where I found a wealth of inspiration and perspective on my own life.

The rest of my A to Z 2015 posts can be found here.

Questions of the Year: The Daddy Project

Iroh Zuko Lake Laogai

Iroh: “It’s time for you to look inward and begin asking yourself the big questions. Who are you? And what do you want?

Last month I signed up for a Closeness, Distance and Intimacy in Relationships workshop. I attend developmental workshops from time to time as I am always interested in the psychology behind human behaviour. Our introductory session taught us that intimacy requires mutual self awareness, openness to self re-evaluation and trust. I know I have issues with trust and self worth and I am aware that children who are not shown enough love or support to establish a strong sense of self, develop antagonistic and defensive personalities. As adults, they can sometimes still have difficulty believing in their worth and well, we all know where that can lead: Self doubt = low self esteem = little self respect = self abuse = addictive behaviour. In terms of relationships, we have difficulties with openness and trust.

After our introductory session we were advised to select a current relationship we would like to improve upon. They say that a girl’s relationship with her father affects the quality of her future romantic relationships. Sounds about right, so I decided that my focus for the workshop was going to be Dad and me. We were given standard questions, which are applicable to all relationships, and were encouraged to answer honestly, no matter how painful. I’ve listed them below and if there is a relationship you would like to work on, I encourage you to answer them too.

What am I going to change?
My relationship with my father.

How would I like this relationship to be?
Loving, supportive and open with reassurances of love and affection. I want us to enjoy each other’s company and have freedom of discussion without judgment. I’d like there to be acceptance and guidance from both sides and I want us to feel proud of each other. I want us to forgive each other and appreciate what each can bring to the relationship.

Knowing that I cannot change another person, what can I do to make our relationship this way?
Reach out more. Be more patient, open to understanding and accepting of him. I know he did not have a warm, nurturing or reassuring childhood and it is difficult for him to show affection  the way I believe I need him to.

What blocks are there to prevent me from making these changes?
Fear of rejection.
Fear of judgment.
Fear of effort without reward or appreciation.

What do I usually do when I encounter these blocks?
I find ways to explain away the situation: “It’s not really a bad relationship.” “It’s not his fault for being distant and uncompromising.” “I can’t change him anyway.”
I make excuses: “I’m too busy to call or visit.” “It’s not the right time to talk about such things.”
I do nothing. I block it all out and dismiss my need to have a better relationship with him.

What usually happens then?
The problem never really goes away. I am still left wanting even when I pretend it does not matter. Then I feel disappointed in myself for not trying and ashamed for being short with him. I judge myself harshly for not working to improve our relationship and then the hurt starts all over again.

What do I need to do to get past these blocks?
Tell myself that I love myself enough.
Tell myself that I will be okay if I don’t end up with the relationship that I want.
Be patient. This is very hard for me but I will appreciate every baby step and learn from each set back.
I need to understand that I need this sort of relationship with him. This will be my motivation.
Understand that this change will take courage and persistence.
Understand that I have a lot to offer too, as a daughter, friend and loved one.

Who am I currently in this relationship? (I must have a good sense of self to know the place I am starting from)
A distant daughter. I don’t make an effort either.
A judgmental daughter. I am ashamed of him at times.
I have talked about him as being without hope when in fact I might be the one without hope for him.
I blame him for the break up of his marriage to my mother.
I am jealous at times of his relationships with his step-daughters and with my nephew.
I am not as compassionate or as kind as I should be.
Generous as I am with others, I am far less generous and forgiving with him.

In any close relationship, differences will emerge: views, perspectives, the way we handle stresses and anxieties. Understanding and having a fair sense of self allow us to better handle the inevitable differences between the two people involved. It is important to understand that the differences are not problems in and of themselves. The problems are based on our emotional reactivity to these differences.

Thinking of my answer to the last question, what is the first sentence which comes to mind to describe myself?
I am my father’s daughter. 😦

What did it feel like to identify who I am? (my sense of self)
Eye opening and sad. I realized I am as responsible as my father is for our relationship
But I am hopeful, even though we have our work cut out for us.

Which self would I like to bring to the relationship?
My authentic self: loving, kind, understanding, generous, grateful, affectionate, hopeful and creative.

In what ways would I be different if I was that self instead?
I would be optimistic about our relationship, instead of hopeless. I would be understanding and flexible, not forceful but adaptive. I would tone down my reactivity and turn up my empathy.

What difference would being like this bring to the relationship?
Perhaps more understanding, tolerance and the opportunity for growth.

What is my detailed plan of action from this point? And what can I do to cope more positively with the differences and similarities between Dad and me?
Make a concerted effort to keep in touch more and to visit.
Get to know more about him. Be patient, open and understanding.
Understand that lots of planning and no action will lead me nowhere.
Understand that courageous acts of change require small manageable steps. There will inevitably be setbacks, maybe even failures, but I won’t take them personally and I won’t give up. I can take a time out if I need to, but I won’t give up.

I am actively working on my relationship with Dad. It is slow going and I’ve decided that’s okay. For now. I’m interested to know if any of you found the questions helpful or at least thought provoking. Copy and paste the questions onto a document and carry it with you to answer one day when you feel ready. I found that removing the pressure of assuming that I’ll actually talk to Dad about all of this, and writing out my answers, helped me to focus and be honest about my feelings.

~*~

Here are the questions in an easy to copy format:

1. What am I going to change?
2. How would I like this relationship to be?
3. Knowing that I cannot change another person, what can I do to make our relationship this way?
4. What blocks are there to prevent me from making these changes?
5. What do I usually do when I encounter these blocks?
6. What usually happens then?
7. What do I need to do to get past these blocks?
8. Who am I currently in this relationship? (I must have a good sense of self to know the place I am starting from)
In any close relationship, differences will emerge: views, perspectives, the way we handle stresses and anxieties. Understanding and having a fair sense of self allow us to better handle the inevitable differences between the two people involved. It is important to understand that the differences are not problems in and of themselves. The problems are based on our emotional reactivity to these differences.
9. Thinking of my answers to the last question, what is the first sentence which comes to mind to describe myself?
10. What did it feel like to identify who I am? (my sense of self)
11. Which self would I like to bring to the relationship?
12. In what ways would I be different if I was that self instead?
13. What difference would being like this bring to the relationship?
14. What is my detailed plan of action from this point? And what can I do to cope more positively with the differences and similarities between us?

Love, light and good luck to you,
Phoenix

~*~

This is Post Q, in the A to Z Blogging Challenge 2015. My 26 posts are inspired by the quotes from Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, two Emmy award-winning animated television series created and produced by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. The setting for both series is in an Asian-influenced world of martial arts and elemental manipulation. The shows drew on elements from East Asian, South Asian, and Western culture, and (aside from the kick-ass story lines, beautifully developed characters and exceptional storyboards) are where I found a wealth of inspiration and perspective on my own life.

The rest of my A to Z 2015 posts can be found here.

My In-Case-Of-Emergency Person is Leaving

sisters2

Going through the envelope of documents my sister left for me in the passenger seat of her old car (my new car), I could not help feeling a rush of emotion. She was so organized. The car was spotlessly clean, of course,  with a full tank of gas, of course. The envelope contained all relevant ownership docs, service records, transfer docs, even a traveler’s prayer. She gave me her moon key-chain too.
Today she leaves with her baby for a new life abroad. My mother, who also lives abroad, has been here for the past week, in order to fly back with my sister today.
While I am 100% supportive of the move and very happy for my sister and nephew, I can’t help but feel lonely. I know I have many cousins here who I am close enough to, but my sister is leaving.
I know we will skype and keep in touch on whatsapp, and we will visit each other when it’s possible,  but my sister is leaving.
She grounds me. She has grounded me the most throughout this past year. And not in the form of a shoulder for my sober journey woes, but as a sounding board, fellow philosopher / psychologist, clown, ocd partner in crime, and trusted friend. We talk every day even if it is just to touch base. We get each other. We understand each other’s histories, motivations and wishes. I was in the delivery room with her when my nephew was born three years ago. When I quit drinking a year ago, it was because she forced me to face the demon. While this past year has been wonderful and growth filled for me, it has been a year of struggle and frustration for her. I endeavoured to remind her to see life’s beauty and to always have hope. We are a pair. And my sister is leaving today. 😦

Update:

Thanks for all the support friends. I am doing much better. My sister and I have been keeping in contact and we are both adjusting nicely. I do miss her, especially this last week as my ex and I have been talking about our recent break-up. But I am looking at this experience as an opportunity to learn how to become more self-reliant. I’m okay. Hugs to all.

Letter in Time

My three year old nephew wanted to see photos of his mummy as a little girl so, being the unofficial family historian, I went looking. I came across a letter I wrote in 1995 to my future self as part of a cousins project. I somehow managed to convince eight of us to write letters to our future selves that we promised to open a decade later. Hilarity ensued when we opened our time capsules as we had also saved photos of ourselves hoping to embarrass one another a decade later. A few of us, myself included, surrendered the same letters to the time capsule once more, to be opened in ten years.

It’s funny, even twenty years ago I was quite dramatic. Aside from the usual love-struck lines about “the love of my life” back then, there are sentences that make me pause now:

Excerpt: “Ten years from now I will be an archaeologist. I would’ve visited Egypt and stood at the foot of Ra. I have been climbed the Great Pyramids and the explored Grand Canyon. I have been to the Pyramid of the Moon and the Pyramid of the Sun.”

I didn’t go back to school to get that degree. So many things happened around that time: my parents’ terrible divorce and my subsequent emotional disconnect from them; my dad’s decision not to allow me to transfer to a university with the archaeology program because it was too far from home; my anger about that channeled into the pub on campus; the less than intelligent choices I made back then; the incident that summer in Florida.

I think I spent the greater part of two decades running from everything that happened back then. Of course, with alcohol being my running companion many more mistakes were made. I judged and damned myself for everything that happened and that guilt never really went away. I blamed myself for so much, and while it is important to own up to and acknowledge mistakes I’ve made, it has taken me a long time to accept that I also critically judged myself as broken, hopeless and unworthy because of those mistakes. I’m still working on reversing the self-inflicted damage.

Excerpt: “I have stopped trying to hide from myself. I have stopped being an ass to my mom and I make her smile instead of cry. I have forgiven myself and therefor my dad for destroying our relationship. I can hug my parents again. To my future self: I hope you still believe in unicorns and magic, and that faeries do exist as people who see light and goodness. There IS magic in this world. I hope you found your house by the sea and that all your dreams are coming true. I hope you have forgiven yourself for the mistakes in your past.”

Well, I have stopped being an ass to my mom, and Dad and I are in a much better place than before. I’m doing an okay job with forgiving myself for most of my crap. Would you believe me if I told you that I have accomplished most of this in the one year I’ve been sober? Amazing isn’t it? Needless to say I still look for the light and goodness in everyone I meet, and I still, and always will believe in magic.

Hugs, Phoenix

Booze-free Breakups, Blueberries and the Brightside

A few days into Sober Singledom and I’m doing alright. The episodes of being Miss Bitch while driving (swearing in sign language at incompetent and inconsiderate motorists, or grinding my teeth when faced with ineptitude at the office) are becoming less and less. Today is a rough one. I know my temper is short these days so I am reminding myself to breathe. Nevertheless, I have learned a few tricks while finding my way about this unfamiliar territory.

THE BOOZE-FREE BREAKUP

It’s remarkable how much this week has reminded me of the first few days after quitting, with the odd sleeping hours and the over-thinking. It’s ridiculous! Without the usual alcohol numbing escape I am analyzing everything. In between the “WTF” and the “How dare he?” questions, [Okay Phoenix, give Mr. Potato Head back his angry eyes] there are the “What if it’s really me?”, “What if I’m f***ed up?” and “What if I’m unlovable and will never be a compatible with anyone?” feelings. I know it’s okay to be sad, feel vulnerable and have my mind’s cogs turning and questioning everything.  I’m going with it but being careful not to get carried away by it. I accept that my sadness and regret stem from the fact that I’ve lost something that was a part of me, into which I put time, effort and emotion. It is natural for me to feel regret and loss but I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that I am NOT back to square one. I am not the same person I was before the relationship began and today’s Me has so many new opportunities that the old me didn’t.

BUSY, NOT BOOZY

Ok, maybe I’m overdoing it a bit with the alliterations but work with me. I have a plan. I’ve been keeping myself busy without running from the rough stuff. I know I need to process everything to get through it, but I’m also taking care of ME in little ways, with mani-pedis, full body scrubs and moisturizing. You know how after a break-up, life feels surreal? Well being in contact with my own skin helps me to feel present and grounded. I’ve gotten a haircut and covered the 3mm of gray hair that would’ve frustrated me a week from now. I went to the dentist to clean and polish my pearly whites. I keep a new canvas with paints and brushes at the ready and try not to binge watch TV series, unless I really need to. I have my girls on call for silly pep talk or a heart to heart, and reach out on my blog when I need to. (Thanks so much to all of you for reaching back). I cleaned my apartment and de-cluttered my kitchen. Oh! Speaking of kitchens…

BLUEBERRIES

I can’t run to booze, cigs, or weed to alter my mood, so I’m keeping my fridge stocked with feel-happy foods. Did you know that there are many foods that actually have a positive effect on our mood? Blueberries, strawberries and raspberries contain nutrients that help reduce stress and depression. Dark chocolate (yum) is high in magnesium, a mineral that calms muscles and reduces stress and anxiety. It also contains phenylethylamine (the same chemical generated by the brain when falling in love), causing the release of endorphins. Salmon and walnuts are packed with omega-3 which helps fight depression and mood swings. Avocados, coconut milk, almond milk and mushrooms all contain vitamin D which can improve mood by enhancing the production of the happy hormone, serotonin. Synthesized by the body in response to sunlight, serotonin becomes a feel-good neurotransmitter. Greek yogurt is a mood and immune system booster. Green tea, which is my go-to hot beverage, is full of theanine, an antioxidant which acts as a calming agent. I always knew bananas were a happy food and add them to my smoothies a few times per week. They are full of energy, vitamin B6, tryptophan, iron, magnesium and potassium. In fact, one banana has enough stress-reducing magnesium for the entire day!

THE BRIGHTSIDE

My impatience won’t last and I have admitted that the Universe is not really out to get me. I am so thankful that I am not dissolving into tears which I may very well have been doing if I’d been drinking. Being weepy and sorry for myself always came hand in hand with being too drunk.

I tell myself that the over-thinking and super analyzing is going to get me where I need to go much quicker. Instead of swallowing the rough feelings with whichever drink of choice as I would’ve done before, I am woman-ing up (with my pillow in hand) and allowing those pesky feelings to be sorted out.

My ex and I are on good terms and that’s a relief. We might even become better friends down the road because there was no damning, reckless,hurtful or resentful behaviour by either party in the end.

Because I have a sober head and able to stop an emotional meltdown, I am happy to report that I don’t see any risk of me turning to hook-ups to feel less needy. I know it is natural to feel that way after a break up as I am out of my comfort zone and just want to feel safe again, but that won’t happen by jumping into waiting arms or onto a waiting body. The age old advice: “The best way to get over someone is to get under someone else” is utter BS. Those rebound relationships are never good. For me anyway. All my life, all they have ever done was delay the process of healing.

All these blueberries and dark chocolate and body treatments are actually good for my skin. Taking care of myself is comforting and protective in a way. I feel safe and fairly stable.

Remaining sober and taking care of myself physically has allowed me to be more present and recognize the positive things that are happening. I found the gumption to request and receive a raise at work which allowed me to buy my sister’s car. She is migrating so the sale of the car will help cover her start up costs. New articles are being published and proposals for future commissions have been accepted. I have seven articles due, my mom is visiting next week and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let a break up, or booze jeopardize the positive adventures coming my way – career-wise, creatively or otherwise.

Love and light, Phoenix.

Click here for Blueberry Coconut Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate Bits