Friday, June 18, 2010

Wide Open Spaces

Failure. Huge, gaping, epic failure. So you thought you wanted to be a social worker? So you were brazen enough to think that you, you of the mega-issues, would be capable of helping anyone with their issues when you haven't even begun to help yourself with yours.

Well, yes, actually I did.

And there is where the feelings of fantastic failure come in.

Who doesn't know what I'm talking about
Who's never left home, who's never struck out
To find a dream and a life of their own
A place in the clouds, a foundation of stone

I left my job for the last time on Tuesday. Taking with me boxes filled with my social work books and tears, tears for what I accomplished, what I didn't, and tears for what I wanted to.

Many precede and many will follow
A young girl's dream no longer hollow
It takes the shape of a place out west
But what it holds for her, she hasn't yet guessed

Sure, there were moments when I reached a client, where for a brief moment I made a difference and I made peace with the fact that the work I was doing was for the most part thankless (I think a prerequisite of any social work job) and there would probably NOT be any Blindside movie in my future (but if there is I want Natalie Portman to play me) and I was almost okay with that. What we do as social workers in not academy award making movies, but rather brief shooting stars. But it wasn't enough for me to not make me feel as if I totally sucked at my job. and in looking back, I cannot adequately articulate what would have made everything okay. All I know is I didn't feel good at my job, I didn't feel valued or respected and I was tired of being looked at as "that bleeding heart therapist who is too soft on the kids." At lunch on my last day somebody said "you just weren't a good fit." To me, that is failure. Pure and simple.

As I'm going through the biggest falling-flat-on-my-face moment I am also doing a yoga practice, and received an email that talked about how loss is about creating space. Without my job a wide open space has been created for me. Space to do what with -I'm not exactly sure yet. Space to hang with my kids, space to do yoga, space to run, space to write, space to grow. I'm grateful that I am lucky enough to be able to have this opportunity to create this space. I know how lucky I am and I am truly grateful, but, at the risk of sounding ungrateful, it is scary. Scary because I feel as if I have been given a sacred gift in this space and I don't want to squander it.

She traveled this road as a child
Wide eyed and grinning, she never tired
But now she won't be coming back with the rest
If these are life's lessons, she'll take this test

I am grateful for all of the gifts of the universe
I am open to all the gifts of the universe.
I am open to Wide Open Spaces.

She needs wide open spaces
Room to make her big mistakes
She needs new faces
She knows the high stakes

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


I admit it. I'm stuck. Stuck and unhappy and down right pissed off at myself, my job, my family. Everything and everybody around me has conspired with the universe to make my life a living hell. They all hate me and are out to get me. As a CBT therapist, if I had a client come in to my office (and they have) spouting this nonsense, my first question would be, "humm, okay, the world is out to get you, that is possible, I mean, karma is a bitch after all, but what else what might be going on?

I don't know

If you did know

Still don't know

Take a matter how silly it seems

I suck

Okay, what else?

Life is a bitch and then you die

What else?

It is really all my fault.
(Now we are getting somewhere.)

So your biggest fear is that things are not going the way you want them to in your life and it is all your fault. Why?

Because I suck


I don't deserve any better.

So, it is easier to blame others than to think that possibly you aren't worthy.


So the real fear isn't that the world is out to get you, it that you aren't worthy of the things you want. Why aren't you worthy? Where is the evidence you aren't worthy?

I hate you

that is okay...

I'm so close and yet so far. So close and yet something keeps holding me back. Namely, myself and this never ending feeling that I'm never going to be successful (define success??) and the rage that comes with it. Yes, rage. Red, blinding, all consuming rage that radiates off me like a heat. So where do I go from here? Why do I keep failing? Why do I keep getting so close and then lose it? What is that wall I need to climb over made of? How do you push through something when you have no idea what it is you are pushing against? All I know that on the other side, over the wall, over the mountain that I have created for myself is success, fulfillment, and peace. Acceptance. Acceptance of myself, of my career, my weight. Acceptance from others around me, instead of this lingering feeling of being out of place of not fitting in. I just want to be good at something. I just want somebody to think I'm good at something. For once I want to finish what I've started. To succeed. But how do define or create success when all you have ever known is failure? Speaking of failure...

Devastated, by my -walk of shame- Jenny Craig weigh-in last week I came home and angrily went for a run. As I ran, a voice inside my head raged at me, and I was struck by the truth that we say things to ourselves that 1. we would never say to anyone else 2. We talk to ourselves and say things to and about ourselves that we would never let anyone else say. So I let this voice rage and call me every horrible thing under the sun and was brought to tears by the truths I believe about myself. One name kept being repeated: Fatass. Until finally, and for the first time, a small timid voice said "I am not."

Oh yes, you are. Fatass...


Yup! Fatass! Fatty, Fatty two by four...

Until, with a force that shocked me some small part of me that had had enough pushed up and yelled, "I am NOT A FATASS!" I am still here. I am still running. I'm still pushing. I am still going. I AM NOT A FATASS SO SHUT THE FUCK UP!" I'd love to say that was the end of it, but old tapes die hard, but the volume of the inner critic's insults was greatly diminished and I was left to finish my run in relative peace.

Where is the evidence that I am not worthy? In my own head and in the words of that voice that hurls insults at me on a continuous basis. Since our little altercation I have become aware of just how ugly that critic is. The bitch needs to shut the fuck up. Seriously. And telling her that whenever she rears her nasty head is one small thing I can do today to keep moving forward.

I am angry and frightened, and I am left to wander in the darkness and yet I keep fighting. I keep showing up. I keep pushing, digging deep, going... knowing that without darkness, there is no light and that if you have never been lost, how do you know when you are found?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Party Girl Me VS Stepford Wife Me

A few weeks ago I reconnected with my best friend from high school. At the time we were inseparable, we went to (SKIPPED) school together and even worked at the same place. We double-dated to prom with our first loves and later cried together when they broke our hearts. And then I left and up until a few weeks ago, had no contact with her.
The reasons have been diluted by time, but I packed my car and pointed it west and never looked back. I never considered what I might be leaving behind or that I might want to get it back some day. That first trip from Virginia to California was the beginning of an odyssey of making mistakes, bad decisions and then bailing. Lather, rinse, repeat. What amazes me was how easy it was for me to just pick up and leave, to break connections, as fragile as they might have been, and hit the road. It took me many years to realize that no matter where I went, there I was, and that no matter the name of the town, or the latest Jose Cuervo induced bad decision, it was all the same.
I was always running from my latest mistake, terrified they would catch up with me. I remember working in Corpus Christi and having uh..."my past" from California walk in and say, "didn't you used to live in 29 Palms?" "Yes, I did," I replied, "and mistakes like you are the reason I moved 1000 miles away." He just kinda smiled and said, "yeah, I hear ya" and walked away. Face, enjoy being slapped by past.
I keep my sordid past deeply hidden and the Party-Girl I used to be far away from The Stepford Wife I now am. There are no "old friends" on my Facebook page, because I have no old friends. Dead men tell no tales. I don't need my kids hearing stories of the time their mom....The deeper truth is that I don't want to hear those stories. I am afraid of those stories and they fill me with shame, even as they make me appreciate the life I have now.
Now, as I reconnect with my past I am slowly naming the fear and the shame. I'm afraid my old friend won't like me any more. I'm afraid of having being confronted with the hurt I must have caused her when I just left like nothing about my past mattered. I'm afraid of asking, "what happened to us?" No, that isn't completely honest. Maybe it isn't honest at all. What I'm really afraid of is asking, "what did I do to you?" I am deeply ashamed of the wreckage I have left behind for others to clean up, and I realize that I can try to use my new life as a good mom, being a respectable a social worker, and house in the suburbs as evidence that I am a good person and that no matter the past, "all's well that ends well" but my biggest fear is that I haven't changed all that much and I am still that person who couldn't seem to quit fucking up her life and that my past is going to rear its ugly head and snatch away everything that is precious to me today. Maybe because of who I was in the past, I have no right to all I have today.
That Party-Girl seems, even after all these years, determined to rear her big 80's hair. So it is The Party-Girl vs The Stepford Wife. The Party-Girl is scrappier and will probably fight dirtier, but The Stepford Wife has some skills too, and a pretty great life that is more than worth fighting for. And maybe, just maybe, they can learn to stop feeling so much shame over the life they have BOTH lived and contributed to. One thing they do seem to bond over is wondering, "what the hell is she wearing!"

Monday, April 19, 2010

Gotta Get Moving

I really need to get moving. I wonder why even though I have ideas I would like to blog about, I don't. It is not for lack of time, I waste enough of it on Facebook etc...

List of topics to visit:
Magic moments and Strawberry Wine
The Last Ten Pounds
Ex Bffs
I know there is more.

Okay I guess starting a list is a beginning!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Less Like Hurting More Like Healing

I have promised myself that unitl I go back to work I will hit Starbuck's after I drop the kids off at school and write something. My writing muscle has atrophied from lack of use, but then again so have my quads. I don't however think that I'm going to be able to wake up one morning and magically run a 5K. I know I'm going to have to work my running muscles back into shape slowly and that it will probably hurt, so I guess it will be the same with my writing muscle. (That sounds a little perverted, sorry) So be gentle, this is my first workout and I'm at the couch potato stage not the 5k... yet.

Less Like Hurting
More Like Healing....

When Zoë had her tonsils out last summer, she spent approximately a week being unable to eat, drink, or talk with out pain. She was beyond uncomfortable, irritable and just ready to be done with the recovery process already. Through tears of pain and frustration she looked up at me and plaintively wailed, "I don't want my tonsils out any more, Mommy!" My heart broke for her. Now I'm the one recovering from surgery (again!) and 10 days after my hysterectomy I wailed, "I don't want my uterus out anymore!"

This is, without a doubt, the most difficult recovery I have been through. Everything hurt. It hurt to move. It hurt to breathe, it hurt to lie still. It just hurt. In the midst of all the pain and in the middle of the sleepless nights I stared asking "why?" Why so much pain? Why such a hard process this time? After all, I made it through open heart surgery last year. You might think that this surgery would be a breeze after that, but you would be wrong. So as I began to contemplate the genesis of my pain I came to believe that the pain was trying to tell me something, an important lesson that I was failing to learn. I also came to realize that the pain was not going to turn me loose until I heard what it was trying to say and I believed that understanding what was at the heart of the pain would somehow (PLEASE) banish it.

Where was all this pain coming from? I had expected and prepared for a lot of pain. Was I just getting what I expected? Was I focusing on the physical pain so I did not have to deal with the reality of what having a hysterectomy ultimately signified, or was my body itself crying out in protest against what had been taken from it?

It seemed that everyone I had spoken to who had had this surgery regarded it as the worst thing ever and the last conversation I had with my doctor before being taken to the OR was regarding my fear of the pain. So even though I attempted to focus on positive healing thoughts in the last minutes of awareness before surgery I think it was a case of too little too late. My expectation of pain was the majority of what I put out into the universe and pain was now the majority of what was coming back.

The pain also provided me with something to focus on rather that what I had just lost. There will absolutely not be a miracle, late-in-life, surprise-but-oh-so-longed for baby. Whoever that serene little girl with the blue eyes like lakes of sky I have dreamt about for years is, she is not mine. The pain filled my mind and body so that the reality of my loss was unable to bubble to the surface and drown me in tears. I could focus on the physical pain, point to yet ANOTHER scar and say "see this, it HURTS" and receive understanding but when I spoke of the loss of potential motherhood, people wrinkled the foreheads in confusion and started at me with disbelief, "but you have two perfect children?!

Maybe the pain was a physical manifestation of loss, my body adjusting (and not happily) to the now empty cavern that had once held Caleb and Zoë. Twisting and pulling, my body ached with the loss of vital organs that had sustained two lives inside me, the loss of the potential for any life to grow again, the loss of my youth. It seems to strange that my "childbearing years" (I hate the phrase) are behind me and that I have had all the children I am ever going to have. Yes, I am thankful for the beautiful boy and girl that fill my heart, soul and life with so much love, light, laughter, noise, frustration and worry, but my children are like chocolates, Two is just not enough. I could gorge myself on my children everyday and still keep coming back for more. To me it makes sense that I would want more. Who doesn't want more chocolate?

When I began to realize that the pain was all of those things, I began to see it as less like hurting and more like healing, healing from the physical trauma of major surgery and as the healing acceptance of the reality of my loss which allowed me to finally see my hysterectomy not as a interruption of a phase of my life but as a completion.

The pain is slowly abating, but I'm not rushing it. Healing not hurting I keep telling myself. While hurting was something I found so hard to manage, I see healing as necessary process that I can accept and embrace.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Climbing Fearless!!

Yes, I am quoting Hannah Montana. I have a six year old girl at home. Shoot me.

I can almost see it
That dream I'm dreaming but
There's a voice inside my head sayin,
You'll never reach it,
Every step I'm taking,
Every move I make feels
Lost with no direction
My faith is shaking
but I Got to keep trying
Got to keep my head held high
There's always going to be another mountain
I'm always going to want to make it move
Always going to be an uphill battle,
Sometimes I'm gonna to have to lose,
Ain't about how fast I get there,
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side
It's the climb...

There's been a lot of climbing lately. A lot of journey with not a lot of destination. A lot of keeping my head down and pushing through, knowing there is a finish line somewhere down the road but that the only way to get there is to put one foot in front of the other and keep...well..climbing... the summit will arrive at some point.

I took a job. The perfect job? Well, no, but at this job I can gain valuable experience that will allow me to deal with what ever walks in my door as a social worker. It also gives the State what they need in order to deem me worthy of opening up a private practice next year. So I climb upward and onward trying to keep myself open to the experiences I am being offered. And of course there are many. I've never worked with the chronically mentally ill before. Everyday they inspire me. I knew I would learn a lot...but be inspired? It never crossed my mind. And yet, there it is, as I watch them reach for a brief lucid moment, or fight off psychosis...I am inspired. And I love it. In the past week and a half I have made memories that will last a lifetime, and I am just beginning!

Tomorrow I run my first 5K since surgery. The climb to this summit has been equal parts heart wrenching and heart lifting! I guess that makes it WHOLEhearted! :) I have learned so much the past seven months. One thing I have learned is the depth of my own strength both mental and physical. I have never thought of myself as physically strong person. But getting out there and fighting my way for every step I can and refusing to let the six inch war wound on my chest stop me showed me just how much strength I have. Who knew. Somebody this week suggested that my next challenge should be a triathlon and I thought "yeah, I could do that!" Before surgery my first thought would have been, "yeah, NOT in a million fecking years could I do something like that?!" After surgery however it doesn't seem out of the realm of possibility.

The climb is merely showing up. Showing up to run and put one foot in front of the other.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Being Braver

So I climbed into my hip suit and my cool SUV and headed out to my first job interview. They offered me the position right then and there. I was floored. I had some major concerns about what having a job that far from home (1hr 15min) would do to the kids. For 24 hrs I went back and forth..everything else about the job fit: the money, the fact it was clinical and would count toward license, sounded good. I didn't even mind the drive. If you live in Houston, chances are you commute. An hr commute is prob the norm. Then I did the math. The kids would need to be dropped off by 6:45am and would not be picked up until 5:30pm. Dude, that is a lot of hours! No matter how great the job sounded I couldn't wrap my mind around nor could I justify leaving my kids for that long. I got scared that this was the only job I would ever be offered and I should just count myself lucky that somebody would hire me at all. Maybe I should just shut up and take the dang job. I just couldn't though. Couldn't do it.

In the end I called them and declined the offer. I did however tell them that I would be willing to work contract. I would be willing to work a couple full days a week, including Sat, or mornings, or afternoons, but I really need to be there either in the mornings or afternoons for the kids. I can't drop them off half asleep at daycare and see them only in the evenings to nuke some corndogs and pray homework has been done already.

This brings up a lot of shame issues for me. I have NEVER felt like a good mom. Not ever. Most times I feel that my kids are working out some horrible karma by being entrusted to my care. It seems like everyone else has it so much more together than I do. I really need to keep reminding myself that we all have issues and challenges and I'm probably not as horrible as I think I am. I mean, hey, Caleb is officially a teenager and STILL talks to me. Must be doing something right! :)