Feet First!

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I’m not sure exactly when it clicked for me. The past 6 months, I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching. Not just the sitting in silence, pondering life part. I mean the making lists and digging REALLY deep into who I am and who I want to be. Maybe it was turning 44—a mid-life crisis sort of thing. Maybe it was having my dream job and still feeling unhappy and unsatisfied. Whatever started this ball rolling, I am glad it did. I have never felt more empowered, motivated, and aligned as I do right now, in this moment.

This uneasiness I was feeling, this sense of having  no purpose, no path—it literally brought me to my knees. And I’m being completely honest here. I spent much of April and May of this year in bed. In tears. In complete and utter hoplessness. If I had the job I always wanted, the love of my life by my side, two magnificent boys ensconced at top-notch colleges, my elderly parents still alive and living with me, all the material things I wanted, why the hell was I in complete and utter despair? What the hell was wrong with me?

Yes, I’ve lived with depression my entire life. I know its in’s and out’s. I know its lies and destruction. I know how it seeps into your blood and into your soul. I know how that bitch sneaks into your bed at night and steals every ounce of happiness you had, with no reason, no rhyme, no warning. This was beyond that. This was a completely new thing. This was me floating helpless with no idea where I was going. I was no longer just depressed; I was lost. I, the real me, was gone.

I’ve been changing my eating habits and fitness habits since the first of the year. I’ve blown up over the last 18 years. I mean, BLOWN UP. I was about 100 pounds overweight. And I think here is where the moment of clarity came to me. It was on a treadmill, when I thought I couldn’t go any further. I was about to push the “stop” button on my treadmill, when I looked at my time. I was on there for 40 minutes. At a high speed and incline. When I first started in February, I could barely do 10 minutes with no incline and at a low speed.

Wait a second? Did I really do that?  Did I really come this far in a few months?  And I did this on my own. Yes, with support, but ultimately I was in control. It was when I realized how strong I could be physically that I realized how strong I am emotionally and mentally. I have been through so much shit in my life—I mean seriously. And here I am. Still. No matter what life has thrown at me, I’ve gotten through. And there it was, the truth I needed. Everything I needed was inside ME. I didn’t need to look to a job, to my love, to my nice car—-what I needed to thrive was me.

Now, I feel free. Is everything perfect and happy? No. Is my depression suddenly gone? No. But, now I know that the power lies inside me to overcome anything life throws at me. I am scared to death. I’m flying without a lifeline. I’m starting my own business to coach others to find themselves, to harness their power, and to do so with writing. I’m so excited I can hardly contain myself.

I’m jumping in feet first! And I’ve never felt so fearless in my life.

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Droplets of Life

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I had an experience yesterday which honestly rocked me to my core. I was eating a Labor Day picnic lunch with my parents and my husband, when a piece of chicken got stuck in my throat. I panicked, which of course made it worse, and it lodged deep in my throat. I couldn’t breathe. My military-trained husband remained calm and gave me the Heimlich Maneuver…..twice to no avail. I started to see stars, the light started to fade. Finally, as I lay over the sofa, another thrust and out came the blockage. I didn’t stop shaking for hours. I’m still feeling the pain in my throat and my ribs.

Talk about a wake-up call! I suffer from severe anxiety and worry over the slightest things. But, I can tell you, in that instant–I wasn’t worried about if my bills were paid or if my hair looked ok and my make-up just right….I was worried about my husband. I would be leaving him with the care of my elderly parents. I was worried about my boys–would I see Harrison’s National Geographic photo shoot? Would I see Holden’s world-changing invention? What would my parents do if they lost a child? I was thinking about how I would never again feel the sun on my face or the water in my eyes.

Today, as most days, I went for a swim. It is my calming place, my sanctuary. It is where I feel most at peace. With all the chaos that lives in my head on a daily basis, I need a place to quiet the noise and allow me to just be. I find that in the water. My favorite thing to do is to stand under our pool fountain and watch the streams of water hit the surface, as the hot sun beats its rays on my face. Today, I noticed something different. Today, I noticed that these individual drops of water make their way through the fountain and come together in a stream, which then hits the surface and creates a ripple effect throughout the pool.

But, when those streams of water hit the sun, just right, they create this beautiful kaleidoscopic prism effect that looks like a rainbow.  I had never really noticed this before. It was magnificent. Aren’t our lives like those droplets of water? We come into this world as a single entity, but we come together with our parents, our friends, our spouses, our children to form a stream that flows through everything we do. And every once in a while, we get our chance to shine in the sun and spread our kaleidoscope to the world. Our light shines. Then we create a ripple that touches others and impacts them and carries them further on their journey, till we come to the end. Our ripple is gone. But, the effects can still be felt by those left behind.

I keep thinking today, what is my ripple to the world? How many prismatic moments do I have left to share? If I learned one thing yesterday, it’s that our lives truly hang by a thread. We have no control…..we think we do. But, truly, we don’t. I want to leave a mark somehow, some way. I have to find a way to worry less and love more. To be happy more and to give of myself more. To be more forgiving and less judgmental.

And the best day to start is now….the first day of the rest of my life.

Walking Through Fire

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All my life, I’ve been an outsider. Maybe not on the surface, but I was an inside outsider. I never felt comfortable in my skin. I’ve always felt just a little off somehow. Even as a child of 4, I can remember feeling broken. It’s difficult to explain to someone who has never been there. I had what most would call a perfect childhood—2 loving, married parents. Upper middle class family in a nice neighborhood. My parents were always there, giving me all the love and support one girl could ever need. But, it never filled up what seemed like a black hole inside of me.

The first event I remember was when I was 4. We were on vacation at an amusement park and I wanted to ride a kiddie roller coaster ride for the 8th time. My parents just wanted to move on through the park, but I insisted. When I was given that final “no”, I snapped. I tore off my clothes. Right there. In front of everyone. It was the first real “meltdown” in what would become the normal of my life. I had no emotional regulations. I hated everyone one minute and desperately loved them the next. My emotions had more ups and downs than that stupid kiddie coaster. It was constant. It was exhausting. For 13 years, I plugged my way through school. I immersed myself in academics and books and hid my true self from others. To everyone around me, I was normal. Except I wasn’t and I knew it. I knew there was something fundamentally wrong with me.

Relationships with friends and boys were full of constant drama. I couldn’t keep friends. I had a few long-term boyfriends, but they were mostly clung to out of fear of being alone. I didn’t care about them, I just needed someone to help me. After high school, I was sexually assaulted in college. That was the absolute straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back. I went downhill from there. I stayed in a mentally and emotionally abusive relationship(obsession, really) for far too long. I went crazy on drugs, alcohol, and sex when that ended. I was on a downward spiral with no escape. Till I saw one on my college adviser’s wall and hopped a plane for a study abroad in England.

It was just what I needed. I got myself together and in the process, got pregnant. My English boyfriend and I got married out of necessity and started a family. I thought having a baby might be the catalyst to bringing what was broken inside of me together, but it didn’t. Nothing did. Those years were full of screaming, crying, throwing of objects, etc. and that was me, not my two toddlers at home. My marriage stood no chance and neither did I. During our separation, I went to counseling for the first time in my life. I never even considered it before, as I was raised to be a strong woman and never ask for help. This is where I got my answer. Borderline Personality Disorder. This was 6 years ago, at age 37. I had walked around for 37 years thinking that I was just fundamentally broken.

As I read more on this disease, I finally understood myself. I understood I was not alone, but felt hopeless, since many of us cannot hold jobs, friendships, and marriages. I was destined to be alone. But, I was in for a surprise. The universe threw my high school freshman boyfriend into my orbit. I kept trying to convince him that I was too damaged to love. Too broken to put back together. But, he persisted. He read everything he could on my disease, bought books, joined online support forums. And in the process, he became the light on my darkness. My now husband walks through hell and back every week because of me and my BPD. I’ve learned through the years and DBT on how to try to control my emotions and quiet my meltdowns, but it’s always there bubbling under the surface.

I just need to thank him.

For taking care of me.

For loving me, no matter what.

For understanding me when no one else does.

For being the one that wipes the tears from my face.

For stepping away from me when he knows I need space.

For ducking when I throw things.

For putting his arms around me, even when I push him away.

For never giving up on me.

For seeing me as imperfect perfection.

For walking on eggshells and knowing my triggers.

For walking through fire and broken glass and never complaining.

For simply being my light through the broken cracks.

For pulling me back from the edge every day.

Cracks in the Foundation

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San Andreas Fault

by

Allison Cline-Saia

 

I wake up wondering if this will be the day–

every single day the cracks get deeper

the crevices  grow                           wider

the space between will never be filled.  Gaps

like the Grand Canyon

years and years of slow melancholy stripping away

the bits of me still there.

Seismic shifts in the tectonics that slam together

and drift apart.

The ever-changing landscape of me morphing

Continuously in cyclic fashion —

Never constant

Yet somehow solid.