Honoring the In-Between

in-between

I am sitting in the middle of a glorious in-between and I did not want to let this time slip by without showing it the appreciation it deserves.

The in-between is such a special place, it is a place where all things are possible. It is a place of both certainty and uncertainty. You know where you have been, you know what came before but there is no promise of what comes next, just hope.

We can become so focused on the getting there without truly acknowledging the beauty of the in-between.

In thinking of the in-between my mind is gravitating towards a client I had at the beginning of the year..

She was with me much longer than most. Towards the end she was struggling, she was in her own in-between and wanted desperately to arrive. I came in for my shift at the beginning of one week to discover she was gone. I was overjoyed. Good for her, she made it, something worked out, she is going to be okay now, she is on the path towards love and healing. It was the best way to start my day, I was on a cloud.

Then one of the other therapists came in and shared with me the details of the client’s discharge.. I was no longer in my hopeful in-between, I had arrived at the truth and started to descend from my cloud. My client had AWOL’d. More came out about possible human trafficking once she was on the street and a break from reality.

This is why it is so important not to overlook the in-between. Although this was hard for me to hear and reality can be cruel, for a moment I got to experience a different reality for this client wherein she was safe, and loved, and everything worked out as she had told me she wanted it to. For moment all things were good.

Reality is not important in the in-between, just hope. Hope lives its biggest life in the in-betweens.

So as I sit in all of my in-betweens right now I send the universe a note of gratitude.

Thank you for my in-between before soul camp, and before my new job, and before becoming pregnant, and before all the exciting plans I have made for this year. Right now all good and amazing things are possible. Reality will come and I welcome it too, but right now I get to have this magical time with hope and I am grateful.

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Sweet Spot

balance1

I have been sitting in a lot of gratitude this week, particularly around bedtime and when I first wake up in the morning. This gratitude is coming from the balance I have been able to keep these last few months. I do not take it for granted and since I know that in the near future things stand to change I would like to take a minute to give thanks for what I have right now.

I am grateful that my current schedule has allowed me to have time in the evening with my family while still getting to bed at a reasonable time.

I am grateful that my current schedule has allowed for me to soak up 9 restful hours of sleep a night, which I have found is my sweet spot for productivity during the day.

I am grateful to have found a morning routine that starts my day on the right foot. It is a combination of waking up with the sun (not an alarm clock), and still having 2 or 3 hours to myself before having to start my day. I get to have a quiet morning of writing or meditation or anything that suits me (normally it is writing though). Time that belongs to me before I ever have to interact with the world. Starting my day this way has made all the difference for me. In the past my day started with turning on the news and scoping out social media while rushing around my house to get ready for the day. It was stressful and it was self-inflicted at that. I am thankful that I made the needed changes to find my balance and start my day in a positive energy space.

I am grateful for the time change that now gives my husband and I daylight at the end of our day to walk the dog or lay in the hammock. Even if we just go about our evening routine as usual it is nice that we are home together before the sun sets; it does not feel like we have spent the entire day away when we come home and the sun is still up.

Finally I am grateful for my husband who has everything to do with this all being possible (except for the time change of course). His support both emotionally and financially created space for me to walk this path and do so in a way that has felt right to me. I am grateful for the security and stability he brings to my life. I am grateful that my happiness and well-being has always been such a high priority to him. I would never normally say this because of the religious connotation but the truth is, I know I am blessed. I am the one that has made my life into what it is but he created a safe space for me to do it and the support I needed to see it through. Of all the things I am grateful for that I want to be mindful of so I never take them for granted, he will always be at the very top of that list.

Highlights from the Capitol

The trip to the Capitol had some absolute high points. For starters, it is a beautiful city. There are many cute cafes and boutiques, there are Live Oaks and Magnolia trees all over the city which makes it feel less like a concrete jungle. There are a lot of darling details. Not to mention our hotel was fantastic. It had just been remodeled and they paid close attention to the finishing touches, it was something to behold for sure. This post will be a photo recap of some of the highlights from the trip.

I have to start with the pool because that is where we hung out most of the trip.

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The pool was on the 4th floor of the hotel so it had a pretty spectacular view of the city and was the best spot for sunsets.

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In general the views from the hotel were impressive. At night the Live Oak trees around the hotel would light up with twinkle lights. It was magical.

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The first night in the Capitol we went for a walk to the Capitol building by way of one of the many urban parks in the city.

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The second day in the city we went to a local bookstore and cafe for lunch. After we were driving back to the hotel and happened upon this awesome little wooded area. The city is full of mature trees, I really loved that. We got out of the car and walked around for a bit, it was serene. There were birds chirping and everything.

I know I had A LOT to say about the difficult social component of the trip in previous posts and there were parts that definitely were difficult but there were times that took my breath away as well. In the end it actually was a pretty well balanced trip. Sure I wish I did not have to experience some of the awkward interactions and am still processing where I could have led from a more compassionate place but this trip also helped me practice a lot of important things. Self-care, boundary setting, assertive communication, self-compassion, remaining flexible, professionalism.

I am pretty introspective by nature so I know I will be processing all of this for weeks to come and realizing deeper truths about myself based on how I showed up on this trip. I hope that everyone else who went on the trip takes the same opportunity. It is okay if I did get it right the whole time, what is important is what I learn, how I grow, and the love I am able to show myself when I know I got it wrong.

 

NF Types Managing Conflict: Part I

I got back from my girls weekend yesterday afternoon and I have a few posts I would like to share. I am starting here because I have not uploaded any of my photos yet for the other posts I plan to write. There is a lot for me to process so this post will be broken into multiple parts.

The trip had it’s ups and downs. I guess that is just reality because all things do but I was not expecting there to be as many downs as there were. I mean we were on vacation, you don’t go into it expecting issues.

This first post will give context for the second by giving background information leading up to the trip.

It all began a week before the trip. I was getting ready for the Stevie Nicks concert, my Mom and Aunt were on their way to my house and then one of my friends who was going on the trip texted me and was in major crisis. We are friends but she is not one of my people who I share any parts of my own personal struggle with, I was surprised she was reaching out to me. My surprise quickly changed into concern based on what she was saying in the texts, they were dark. I kept encouraging her to reach out to her therapist or at least her Mom or boyfriend. Whoever her people are they needed to know what was happening. She finally agreed to reach out to her boyfriend and we left it at that. It did not sit right with me though so the next day I followed up.

When I spoke with her the next day she tried to minimize the whole thing. I wasn’t comfortable with that. She had a plan, that is all I will say. I was pretty assertive about her needing to speak with her therapist so finally she agreed. I did  not ask to be involved in this but if she was going to involve me I was going to cover my own butt and hold her accountable for taking care of herself.

As our trip grew closer my anxiety began to grow..

What if she has another emotional crisis while we are 4 hours away? What will I do? I don’t want to feel responsible for her. I don’t know what her triggers are. Is it fair to the other girls going that they are in the dark about all of this?

I called two of my own trusted people to process what happened and ask for advice. How do I get through this trip now that this has happened?

My people both advised me to call the two other girls coming on the trip and fill them in so that way we are all prepared if the one goes into crisis while we are away. I did not feel good about this. It felt like I would be breaking the first friend’s confidence if I told the other two. My people convinced me though that it was necessary because it was a safety issue and it was to not only keep our first friend safe but to give the others a chance to consider what they will want their boundaries to be on this trip knowing this information.

I called both of the girls a few days before we were scheduled to leave and I shared just enough information so they had a heads up without actually sharing anything that was said. The first friend was understanding and we agreed that this trip was supposed to be a relaxing trip and that we would both do our part to keep things light and positive while away. The other friend dropped a bomb on me when we spoke.

After I briefly filled her in she said that she was glad I called because she had something to tell me. Apparently she is in the process of being diagnosed with a severe mental health condition and would actually be starting a new anti-psychotic med while we were away on our trip. She assured me that she was stable and was not concerned that any of this would be an issue for the trip. Her assurances did little to ease my anxiety however.

I was not worried about the diagnosis. I believe all things are manageable with the right interventions. My concern was that she would be starting a very heavy medicine that she has never been on before while we are out of town. What if she has a negative reaction? The possible side effects are extensive.

This was just another layer of anxiety to add to the trip for me. I felt responsible for these girls in a way because I was driving. I would be their only mode of transport while out of town. If something were to happen I might have to be taking people to the hospital etc. etc.

This bomb was dropped one day before we were scheduled to leave. This friend explained that she planned to tell the other two so I felt no obligation to warn anyone like I did with the first friend’s issue. I was becoming less and less excited about the trip itself though. This was not shaping up to be the relaxing trip I had hoped for.

The morning of departure arrived and I woke up early still riddled with anxiety. After weighing all my options with hubs I decided to book a second room at our hotel so I could have my own space. One of my big concerns was that it is so a long drive and I was going to need to be relaxed and well rested for our return trip. Having my own room would help with that. It was not an easy decision to make though. We had chosen a nice hotel for this trip. While the rooms were affordable split between four people it was a small fortune when I was paying for it myself. I kept telling myself that I am worth it and that my sanity and self-care is worth it.

I was right. That room saved the entire trip. If I had it all to do over I would pay twice what I paid for the room because having my own room was priceless.

The Marvelous Mundane

When my husband got off work today he called, as he always does, and we talked, as we always do.

How was your day?
Update me on this..
Oh hey! Guess what..
I have news..
What’s for dinner?
I can’t wait to see you.

I have so much gratitude for the stability I experience in this relationship. I never knew someone like me, a creature of change and unpredictability, could find so much joy in the little everyday goings on of life. He is was makes the difference, it is in him that I find the joy.

I would rather discuss how his conversation went with the fence company than do anything else with anyone else.

My gratitude for tonight is for him and our life. He has brought love and joy to everyday chores like cleaning the bedroom and going to to the grocery. He has brought laughter and ruckus to tasks that previously felt tedious like washing the car or doing laundry.

I am grateful for our everyday moments. Conversations about this and that, plans for the weekend, updates on this situation at the office, creating a grocery list.

My friend and I were talking about how sometimes you feel yourself slipping into that nothing is ever good enough place, that place of comparing your life to the highlight reels of those around you.. She said something beautiful about how even when she falls under a cloud she knows she is okay because she can still see the beauty happening around her. Yeah! I totally get that.

I fall under my clouds or get lost up inside of them from time to time but I am still able to find love and joy in the everyday goings on of the life I created with this other person. That is how I know I am okay because as much as I would like to have it all figured out and perfect I can look around me and be so in love with a moment where we are just chopping vegetables together.

Quirks

I still only have the energy for surface level writing currently. I have my next post planned out and written in my head in relation to the shadow work I have been doing but I just do not have the energy to expend on it right now. I have to be in the right frame of mind for that kind of writing and right now I am spiritually and emotionally exhausted. No deep stuff.

Today was a self-care day, Mondays often are. Mondays are my day off this semester and I have been soaking them up because soon enough days off during the week will no longer be a thing.

Today I finished up an assignment that I did not enjoy writing so once it was over I allowed myself to relax. I researched fun stuff for future plans on the horizon. I watched a romantic movie that took place in Italy. I ate kiwi and strawberries and sipped coconut water. I worked on a craft project..

At one point I decided it was time to have my daily cookie and as I returned to my movie, chocolate cookie in hand, I laughed and wondered what people would think if they knew that in our home we ration cookies.

The reason for this truth is less funny, I previously struggled with disordered eating. I say previously but anyone who has struggled with any kind of eating disorder knows that it is an ongoing thing. Good days, bad days, on the wagon and back off again. What has helped me in this area is doing my best to let go of my judgement towards myself. My truth may not be everyone’s truth but for me personally it has been more about working on my relationship with myself and less about the relationship with food. When I am okay with me the rest of my life normally falls into place as well. When I am struggling, that struggle has a ripple effect.

So that particular quirk has a bit of a darker back story but not all my quirks do. To keep this post somewhat surface level I thought it would be fun to share some of my more surface level quirks to see if anyone else can relate.

  • I really hate showering in the morning. I love to shower at night. At night I am like a duck in water, I don’t want to get out, I could stay in the hot water with all my soothing soapy smells for hours. The morning is a different story, I am like a cat with water – frantic and furious. Furious is really the word to emphasize, I am straight up pissed off when I have to shower in the morning. For me it is not refreshing, it does not help me wake up. I am standing there, tired as hell, mad to be awake, and even more mad to be wet. It is awful.
  • I get my best sleep between 5am and 8am. Those three hours are like my power window. I sleep so hard the apocalypse couldn’t wake me. Hubs usually wakes me as he is leaving in the morning and I am able to start shaking the sleepies off but waking up before 8 is painful for me. I can do it but ugh I do not like it.
  • For someone who hates waking up and hates showering in the morning, the morning is surprisingly my favorite time of day. Once I have had about a half hour to get out of angry alligator mode and am feeling a bit more human I am a delight. I love the morning sun the best, I love the bird song and all the goings on that are happening in the world. I love the chill that is still hanging in the air. I actually love mornings, just on my terms.
  • I hate stepping on tile floor with wet feet from the shower. I will stand on the rug from the shower and scoot myself into the bedroom to get dressed if I have to. Anything to avoid wet feet on tile floor.
  • Sometimes I forget to swallow when  am drinking. I am in my head a lot, I am a true  blue dreamer with my head in the clouds and I forget about things like remembering to swallow so I don’t choke. As a result I sometimes choke on what I am drinking when suddenly I come back down to reality and realize there is liquid still in my mouth.
  • I am funny about walking between a tree and any object near to it for fear of encountering a spider web. If you watched me in the morning getting into my car, which is parked next to a tree near our driveway, you would probably wonder what was wrong with me. I flap my hands in front of me as I walk towards the driver side door in an attempt to knock down possible spider webs.
  • As much as I do not  like spiders I cannot kill them. My husband, who also hates spiders, has had to take on the role of spider hunter in our home. I cannot kill insects. I can trap and release but I cannot kill them.
  • Every few months I completely reorganize the books on my book shelf. Right now they are arranged by genre. A few months ago they were arranged by color, that was fun, my shelf looked like a rainbow. I have arranged them by author, by title, etc. I am a creature of constant change, I don’t like things to feel stagnant.
  • I don’t have good emotional boundaries with my dog. True story. If she is stressed I get stressed and visa versa. One time she twisted her foot wrong and she and I were reacting to each other’s energies to the point of panic. My husband separates us sometimes as a result. We’re sensitive creatures what can I say?

I don’t feel as connected to this surface level writing but it fulfills my need to write and keeps me in a comfortable place while I allow myself to come up for air.

 

 

 

Victim Mentality

victim mentality

As I take the next month to prepare myself for soul camp I thought it might be a good time to really sit down with some of my shadow pieces that I try to deny and ignore and get to know them better. I have been doing this for a while; I have gotten to know my manipulative piece pretty well and in doing so have found love and gratitude for her which has resulted in her not having to work so hard. I have also been doing a lot of work with my entitled piece, that relationship is a work in progress but there is progress so I am satisfied with that. I am finding the same truth with each shadow piece I work on/with; the more attention I give my shadow pieces the easier it becomes for me to find compassion for myself in these dark places. In addition I realized the more compassion these pieces get the less I need them.

This is what wholeness looks like for me, talking openly about my darkness and showing it light by not keeping my shadows as dirty little secrets that I am ashamed of. There is no reason for me to be ashamed of my shadows, everyone has them, everyone. Your shadows may show up differently but they are there, just beneath the surface, just like mine.

One shadow piece that I am aware of but have had trouble building a relationship with up to this point is my victim mentality. This is my piece that allows me to be innocent and untouched by the events of my life. This is the piece that keeps my hands clean and points the finger. “It wasn’t my fault, he was a habitual liar”, “I was the victim, I had no control”, “This happened to me, pity me”.

I have made some progress with this shadow piece over the years, the truth is though it has been slow going and I have been stuck for quite some time. The first step towards showing this piece light and love came roughly 5 years ago when it finally sunk in that I am the common denominator to everything that has ever happened in my life. I do not get to have clean hands when it comes to failed relationship after failed relationship, I do not get to have clean hands when jobs do not work out, I do not get to have clean hands in regards to why I struggled in college my first go around. I do not have clean hands. My hands are dirty.

Taking accountability for how I show up in relationships was a huge step forward for me. I credit this epiphany for the success of my marriage thus far. My husband came into my life just as I was starting my journey into self-discovery and from the beginning he has been on board with all that comes with my process of rebuilding and putting my pieces back together. By me taking accountability for how I show up in our interactions with one another he has been willing to do the same. We don’t have relationships all figured out by any means, although owning our stuff and recognizing when we are projecting or trying to play the victim is part of what has made this relationship different and healthier for both of us compared to any relationship either of us experienced previously.

Aside from holding myself more accountable in my social and intimate relationships I have to admit I have experienced very little growth with this shadow piece. There are relationships where I know I still play the victim, like with my family. There are parts of my past that I still view through the lens of victimhood, unwilling to take any accountability. I recognize this to be true, it does  not mean I have any insight into how to pull back that curtain and show these shadows light though. I am stuck and I know it. I have been for some time.

One of my intentions for soul camp this time around is to absolutely work on my relationship with this shadow. She has been surrounded by darkness for a long time and I would love to bring her the light and remind her the goodness and fullness of love. I know I will continue working with my entitled shadow piece, and my self-righteous shadow piece as well as any other shadow that rises to the surface ready to feel the light again. I say again because I believe that every piece of me was born in light and love. The process of loving my shadows is a process of guiding long lost family members home.

soul work