Note: This is one I found in the drafts from last January but I think its worth publishing. As the holidays emerge again as they do every year to remind us to get clear.
I’ve been tight and wound the past 2 days and I just couldn’t place what it was. Coming off my amazing adventure over the new year’s ceremony in the mountains of Colorado with plant medicine and one of my most sacred teachers, I could feel life starting to creep back in. Before I left town, I left a bit of an emotional disaster area at home. My husband deep in his swirling abandonment issues and a mother in law sleeping on my couch, I gratefully left town with some friends to go spend some time with myself in the light. When I came home I realized what I snuck away from was still swirling in the bottom of the drain. It is inescapable, I guess. Or everybody is just so used to me, calling it out, calling it up, asking, pushing, pulling and clearing, so since I was out of town, it just sat…waiting for my return.
So I’ve been watching it. Sort of watching, sort of avoiding, sort of hoping I could float above its reaching claws. But its rolling its paw around my ankle a bit now and I am starting to get pulled into the abyss. In hopes of clearing it before it could clear me I desperately tried to get my loved one’s response to his own pain. I couldn’t help but to ask one night, if he was doing ok…he opened up for an evening, we talked while I cooked. I thought, “ahh ok, its out there. That’s better.” But then I realized it just got boxed up on the shelf, where it still sits. Because something is still there. I know it. I feel it. Its not right. Its not all mine! And it’s not going anywhere. I resent it. I don’t want to nudge you to fix yourself. I want you to push yourself onward and in. But the truth of it is I don’t think you would on your own. You’re content to think that everything is fine. Maybe I’m content to think that everything is fine with what I am willing to tolerate from our arrangement here. Or maybe its just the pattern, you hurt I decide what we are going to do about it.
So the word that came to me today, tolerate. God sent an angel, my friend, life coach and recovery goddess texted me a worksheet, “What Am I Tolerating” typed across the page. It asks me to list them and continued on to give 200+ examples of things you might be tolerating. I used some of the suggestions and then went rogue on my own. Things from having a poorly designed kitchen to no sidewalks and narrow streets in my neighborhood. I purchased the wrong light bulbs in my bathroom I tolerate them! I haven’t even considered to go get the softer light bulbs to replace the harsh LED blue lights. I mean like, duh, make life a little nicer! I’m tolerating my messy closet and the endless laundry, my unfinished paint job at my studio and tolerating the bullshit from my web guy. And in between the listings of my daily resistance towards what is…came some truth bombs. I have been tolerating an indifferent friendship. A friendship that I want more than is given back to me. A friend that I can’t really tell if she likes me. A friend that I would do more for than she would do for me. And it hurts my feelings and I’m tolerating it and have been for awhile.
I’m tolerating watching my emotionally hurting husband numb out. I am tolerating watching him know things aren’t ok but deciding to put it on a shelf. I’m tolerating not being honest with myself, not knowing how to say what I need without telling him what to do. I’m tolerating my co-dependancy. My automatic get in there and fix it for you so it doesn’t have to hurt us anymore.
The worksheet says, “You are tolerating more than you think.” well that became clear as I wrote. But then it says, “You don’t really have to do anything about them. Just becoming aware of and articulating them will bring them forward and in time you will know how to resolve them.” Well ok. So there they are. And it did help to articulate them. To write them and even rewrite them to share again here. It is the steps to bring me closer to what is true for me. To start to unwind the spiraling descent that contracts me. Takes me away from the light and love. Expansion and contraction, I don’t expect expansion all the time, But I do know that contraction is a nudge for me to come back to looking at what I’m gripping against, what I am avoiding getting clear about and tolerating its aftermath?
the evolution of the woman that evolves and evolves,
generations of thought energy moving thru the life blood.
Who is the woman that bore your grandmother?
Don’t you wish you could know more?
What kind of mother did your grandmother only wish she was
did she worry, feel paralyzed or just burry it all?
She was an only child, similar to me
worried about being lonely, alone
not worthy of being loved.
My mother she blazed thru that,
she was ready to face the dis ease
cleansing the uteral life blood that would take her to her knees.
My daughter, like my mother has ideas all her own.
strong women they stand up,
unraveling to disown.
Single mothers like my great grandmother, my mother, never wanted to fall.
My grandmother she held on, to her marriage and it all,
her dis ease, took its toll right up till the end
have to face what hurts and recover from all that’s been.
It is the lineage of their stories that might hold the key,
revealing patterns and life blood energy,
manifested thru me.
Looking back it all takes shape
You can string together its story.
Life is weird, you can’t see clear until its all so weary.
Its not done yet, its quite a bit early
Don’t know what day it is,
And the path still feels pretty burly.
We got here fast it seems,
Perhaps an experiment delivered from the extremes.
We are better off
turning them off, those talking heads on TV.
Truth got dreary, filled with fear
The mutants took over the wheel.
We gave them our power, devoted to adhere.
They took our minds, and tried to tell us how to be F.I.N.E., fine.
It didn’t work, the box was infected,
Listen close they already detected.
They meant to take us down to our knees.
To pit us against each other so we couldn’t see.
Reaching out, we found out
new ways life could thaw us from freeze.
Here we are in this new existance,
practicing social distance.
Air hugs and quick chats, no pressure to step into story.
Phone calls and long letters,
The internet just might save the world,
Who knew social media would make us feel better?
Creativity sparks and the desire from nature to interact with our hearts
To reach past those things we never had time for,
Music and the arts.
Some places hit harder than others
New places promise an incoming wave
We can’t predict how long we might be sick
Our society hemorrhages from within,
Our only hope is we don’t try to save it.
Let our systems purge their deep dark state they lurk in.
Did this ever feel clear, living life in such fear?
Will we be able to sustain this change?
Bumping up against our aggressions, the pain we’ve walked thru and left thrashing
Thought we knew all there was to know.
Depressed and upset we kill off what’s left and we flirt with the idea of crashing.
The slow descent in that dark well,
We take a deep breath and let our heads go underwater.
Face those big ones, afraid of no one
We walk out much clearer than ever.
We sit in the bed, to let the rhymes in our head,
Tip toe out thru art and story.
We continue on, dropping bombs
On all those structures and chains.
We find a new freedom,
Life dreamed anew
And the death of our life lived in vain.
Our connections much brighter,
Honest and real
We can’t imagine the world we left behind,
We remembered what’s important
The gang is all here
And our hearts have ascended much lighter.
by Jennifer Carmack
So my creativity brings me to my keyboard this morning, whirling around with potential words that could take shape into a masterful structure….or could crash down in a heap. Either way, something is brewing. I’m feeling at my writing the same way I look at my drawing, what is it that is wanting to come through? Its tough to see through the fog. Maybe this is just a stream of consciousness that will turn into my shitty first draft (SFD) or it will be deleted away to never be heard from again. But here’s to hoping of the fog to lift. If I was drawing, I’d start making circles on the page. Priming the pump by getting my hand moving. Making shapes that could form into bigger shapes, and lines and perhaps a face would come through. So this stream of click clack of the keyboard is my equivalent rev up. Its so easy to get distracted, maybe some tea, maybe answer that text back, maybe go draw instead….but no, not yet. Keep clacking away at the keys until something takes shape. Is there some sensation going on in my body, maybe we could talk about that? Man if I was talking to a friend they would hang up the phone on me by now. Get to the point Jen, what is it that you need to say? Maybe there is nothing really. The dreaded blank out. Tap out. Numb out. This week was intense for me. So intense that I went under water physically, mentally and spiritually. I was so tired by the weekend I spent all of Saturday in recovery and today could go 50/50. I know one thing, I don’t want to be domestic. Its hard not to judge myself on those days. Especially when my weekend warrior of a husband is ready to get productive around the house first thing on Saturday morning. I had to have the guts enough to say what I needed which was to take an afternoon nap. Which I did and I was so glad when I surrendered to it. These lessons of radical self care has overtaken my drive. So today my creativity wants to rise to the surface, however my brain is a bit numb. circle circles circles…allergies suck. circles circles circles…man what would it be like to write a book? circles circles circles, did that pychic actually channel my aunt Joanne? circles circles circles…maybe I should write her a letter….
Aunt Joanne. My sweetest aunt and cheerleader. The one who picked me up on Friday nights to spend the weekend dancing around your house. The one who drove me to St. Louis to visit family, and let me spend summer days sitting in front of your large box tv on your 70s green carpet and laugh at Carole Burnett. Your house had the cool stuff, the extra bikes and swing set with monkey bars. Leslie had a record player that lit up and a 4 post bed with canopy. She got to drive first and later on would take me out to experience trying to pretend we were grown. You played the piano and had a pool and hot tub. You let me brush your hair when we would watch tv and you always just let us be ourselves. I never remember getting in trouble by you. There was a freedom that I didn’t have at home when I was with you. I remember family events seated around your kitchen table. I remember beach trips with you and your kids. I remember taco bell and you let us order the expensive nachos bell grande which was more than the kids menu stuff I was allowed to normally get. As we got older you always encouraged me to try new things. You said you were proud of me for trying out for everything. Your poem you sent me about living and doing and having nothing to loose, I hung in my locker at school and I kept until recently when it finally ripped apart.
I know things in your family might not have worked out how you had hoped. That fears and disordered thinking crept in and paralyzed you. You helped others in recovery and ultimately died in the grips of that disease. Maybe that is why you were called to that work. And why we are all called to the work that we do in this word, its is so we can heal ourselves.
I see the lineage of pain. From person to person in our tribe the wave has hit us all different. I know the alcoholism as it were wiped out any connections that felt safe. So much so the relationship with my own mother was called to the table. How do I reconcile all of it? Its super hard and something I guess I will hold for the rest of my life. I don’t know how to put it down as of now. I don’t like this rock in my backpack, its too heavy to carry. But I guess I don’t get that choice. Because otherwise I have to fit into a box that doesn’t carry my body. I can’t have the freedom to live how I see myself living in order to have something sacred with my mom.
At times, angry, lonely and disconnected. I guess that is the plight of the wave recovery. Showing up to the life that I am sitting with. Learning to love the ways I can and hoping that this wave doesn’t knock down the next line of kids as hard. Unbridled honesty is the only way I know how to swim to the crest of the wave. Begging my angels to be pushy and show me how to heal. What can you see from your shifts of perspective? Growing as these human fragile shells on this earth.
Family is an illusion it seems. Family isn’t broken or whole. Family isn’t more or less than the expectations we hold on to. Every sphere of our family has its own family. Its own partnerships. Its own life of its own. Family isn’t perfect and wears no shoulds. There’s a lineage of broken lines and the shoulds of those lines are outdated. Your sisters, your mothers, your children are there own. There’s no suffering because there is no loss. It either works or it doesn’t. Autonomy is all there is.
There is this weird optical illusion about life, I can’t tell what’s real or this altered state of perception. Its trippy, but not usually in the feel good, crystals and oils, mystical nature kind of way. Its more like the “what the fuck is all of this?” kind of way. I’m constantly asking myself, what do I feel? Where am I in relationship to all of these weird people and things I have created around me? It’s starting to feel like a cage. From this point of view, it’s the center of the hurricane. And it is impossible to grab onto something true, its all a blur as it goes by. I’ve been standing here probably my whole life, but it seems like in the last year the roar of the winds have gotten louder. “Who are you Jennifer?” it screams? “stand up, stand up, stand up on your own two feet!”
“I can’t, I don’t know, I’m not good enough, I’m weird, what I like it isn’t gonna work, what I want isn’t sustainable, it might hurt me, what about my kids, what about my life, my comfort, my marriage? ” goes the internal response, over and over again.
Someone told me that different parts of the brain has different personalities. That its my hippocampus’ job to keep me alive and not make a complete fool of myself or ruin my life completely. So its doing its job and a damn good job at that. It finds ways to show me its undeniable truth that I cannot dare to create my life. That structure, function and safety are above all the highest on the survival skills list. To be honest I can’t remember if its called the hippocampus, so we will just call her survival girl. She’s shouting in the wind, “When you try to create something your life gets chaotic! Remember college??” And her voice is personified by all the advice that is thrown at me like a dish towel. “this is how to run a business, this is how to make people happy, this is how to be a mother, this is how you show up to life!”
These swirls of advice, the shrapnel of expectations, the couches of comfort that are caught in the voluminous wind, break my arms, break my fingers, breaks my heart, when I reach my hand in to grab at them. No one in the swirl seems to understand me. Or I don’t seem to understand them. They can see that I don’t know how to do this life that well. I can’t seem to prop myself up enough or make it look any different from painful. I have clenched down trying to find my place in the wind, and I am afraid of who might come out if I unclench too much, because she seems to ruin everything. She seems to have a vendetta against comfortable. She doesn’t have a savings account. She doesn’t know the obstacles sitting at her own toes…. But she knows something about that creative force from the ether that zeros down in the center of the destruction. The vortex, that tornado that lifts you up out of comfort and throws you down into something more true.
She is beckoning me forward and her call has gotten so loud its making me ache! I literally feel her churning around in my uterus, that goddess of creation and she’s insatiable. She used to be like starting up an old chevy. Turing over the transmission, over and over with no luck. But this time she started and shes purring to get out on the road. She’s sexy and creative. She’s tough and unapologetic for who she is. She wears boots, has wings and listens to her heart. Her heart’s beauty radiates and calls everyone’s attention and she knows it and it only encourages her onward. She understands life and loves it through ALL of her senses. She shows up in ways that no one else would and can feel the power in that affect. She dances, she moves, she loves, she works, she creates and says yes and says no and eats pizza. She might worry, but won’t admit it. She might be tired, but still stands up. She just keeps fucking going.
She asks me, “do you trust me?” I don’t …but I respond, “I do. I trust you. You are the artist. You are the creator, the goddess of the universe. You know what you need to make this vision happen and I trust you will find the resources to see it through.”
I don’t like the word “busy”. The weight of its energy sits in my guts. In the spirit of exploring how to stay out of nervous system shut down, I’m exploring this feeling of busy for myself. Not just how busy as an action feels, but “busy” as an idea of being. So there’s the common statement, we all use when asked how we are…”I’m just so busy” or sometimes its not even a statement, its this look of exhaustion as the eyes look upward and the body moves down in a slump with a sigh.
I get it. I get the reality of busy. It happens. I’m a mom, a business owner, a wife, a dog owner, and live in a town where it takes 30 minutes to drive 5 miles. Every phone call, text message, email and Facebook post seems to want to pencil in another task on my calendar. But I’m starting to get a new awareness, thanks to a good ole fashion, 3 month sabbatical from teaching. The crazy part is I felt busy before, but now as I have canceled most of my daily calendar it amazes me how life fills itself back in. I can still find myself to be busy or even worse, not busy and not knowing how to cope with that. So I’m examining this phenomenon. What comes up in my body when I think of being busy? Whats my payback to busy?
Well, first thing that comes up is when I identify as busy, it gives me a sense of self worth. Busy means I’m working hard, and I do what it takes to make it. At all costs, I am in survival mode and to survive means I am doing something important. Which this serves me at times, when I am building a business or raising a baby. But the flip side of that feeling is I’m in survival mode. My nervous system is firing off and nothing is regulated. I’m stressed and moody and it leaves me feeling lonely because “survival mode” isolates me. It keeps people from being able to help me. One my nose is to the grindstone, I’m resentful about it and no one knows where to jump into my crazy, to help. Its funny throughout the years of being in business for myself, the busier and more frantically I have worked myself, the harder it is to find staff to help. As I have gotten more aware and balanced, help has appeared, which has allowed me to expand and find balance in my life in other ways. But back to busy. Busy provides kickbacks…adrenaline, which is highly addictive.
Busy also is kind of an image. “Look at her she does it all. She’s so busy.” I mean part of that could be the accolades of looking busy. But part of that is a buffer. If I look busy, then they won’t ask much of me. Or I will have some sort of excuse to say no. Because its hard for me to say no just because I want to. Built in excuses of motherhood, business commitments etc. are way too convenient and become a way of isolating, and not honest.
And then there is the action of being busy. How does that feel in my body? Well at first it can be invigorating. A way to prove to myself my strength, commitment and determination. But overtime it gets exhausting for sure. The reason for this to me is that it usually tends to speed up frantic behavior (think: burning the candle at both ends). So my nervous system cranks up and my ability to be present drops dramatically. I can’t hear what people are saying to me, I resent being disrupted and get short with people that show up in my day. I start shutting down and hating life. Left over time, my body knows how to pull the plug, sickness sets in.
When I’m weening myself off this busy high, its tough. Big fears start to creep in like lazy, what do I do with myself and not knowing how not to obsess about surviving is a throbbing ache. Shifting out of busy takes a different kind of work. A willingness to let go of the driving force of busy. A willingness to let divine timing and even some grace, step in the center of my task.
I’m learning that my body is a large walking nervous system, and its feeling its way through my day. Words carry energy and busy is one of those words that sticks to my head space and automatically creates a state of being. In small doses slipping into busy is harmless but overtime seems to snowball into an array of self-destructive thought patterns that take a simple, very common phrase like “I’m busy” into dark places.
Does feeling busy really have a positive impact on my contribution to my community? I’m finding it does not. In fact, in slowing down, staying present, mindful and nurturing myself, I notice my creativity is up. The production of what I can offer has way more value and insight. I am listening more and more available to people that need my support. I am working on choosing what makes me busy and staying present to what boundaries make most sense for me to stay protected, even when I am “busy”.
Featured Image art by http://www.ilovemega.com/blog/massive-wheatpaste/
The only thing that truly changes in life is your perception. My greatest, life changing growth is not when I changed my external circumstances but when I changed the way I perceived them. I realized (yet again), that what I think of others and the big dramas that take over my life, in the midst of the cyclone of thoughts and played out scenarios, is when its best I take a second look at myself and my part in the whole picture. Every episode of dramatic thought in regards to someone else, is a direct invitation to the party of deeper work on my own behalf.
It is never about them and how they aren’t measuring up. Those are judgments. The questions I am starting to ask myself…What wound in me would have me see it this way? What story or pattern is coming up that has come up in my past? How am I attempting to write this off and check out as fast as possible? How do I avoid, deflect and give up going deeper to save my precious point of view?
When I can see my relationships from god’s point of view, I can see things in a way that shifts me. I am not in control of others behavior or any external circumstances. I choose to continue to grow and uncover those places inside of me that want to hide out. I remember that emotions are a way for my soul to get my attention. If I follow into places of joy I can learn what I love. If I follow into places of anxiety, anger, fear, I can learn how to uncover what I love and how I might grow towards love.
Once upon a time, anxiety ruled. It lived in my psyche like an overgrown bush. I was too overwhelmed to cut it down. Like where the fuck do you even start?! A life riddled in self destruction, driven by this beast. What do I do to just feel like a normal human being? The more normal I try to be, the more the beast would start to talk.
“You can’t do this…why did you say that?…you can’t relate to them…you aren’t anyone people want to like.” ah the voices, the analytical, judgmental voices. They like to come in right after a social situation. The voices convince me I have no social skills. Which I probably don’t…but “so what! Who does?” is what my oh so mindful voice would say in response.
I’ve buried myself in the self help books and the shamans, the irresponsible relationships and work to show my world how good I could be. Desperately trying to fix myself and prop myself up so I could get out of the car. All the while, lying and stealing, hiding and drowning in the street drains while trying to appear to be normal.
The weirdest thing is, the chaos of the anxiousness became this strange addiction. I’m an expert at creating the perfect storm to conjure this thing up! Like not paying bills on time can really get the heart racing. Or avoiding creditors phone calls can really be a way to bury yourself in deception. Because it really isn’t about the “right” or “wrong” of the late paid bills, but the way I find nooks to hide out in and bathe in the anxious juices of self sabotage. If I didn’t have my own way to conjure up this capital A, I’d hook on to your monster and feed him a little, so he’d pay me some attention too. So maybe as I reflect on these days that I want to believe are in the past…the truth of it is, maybe I am not so far away from all this as I had hoped.
Ya know, I want to be zen, I really do. I do a lot of things to help curb the appetite of the anxiety monster. And most days I stay true to my diet of feel good and strong in my own skin.
Something just dawned on me… maybe that anxious burn arising in the center of my core, is a bat signal to my soul somewhere hiding out in my consciousness. The ping to the universe….ping…Jennifer. Earth to Jennifer.
Because when I get home alone, and the house is quiet, and my to do list is long and/or my kids are doing the kid things, and I’m full of guilt and anxiety, and all I want to do is watch the Real Housewives or read my tarot cards or smoke weed so I can numb out the call of my soul. Because who is this person anyway? And what the hell does she want? I can’t understand her, she seems so different than what I want to portray. She’s kind of like all over the place, and she doesn’t know what the fuck to do, and isn’t quite sure that any of this matters. And she likes potato chips and herbal tea. She loves people, and would give them anything they needed because it actually makes her feel good. She would rather be an artist than any other job because its way more fun to create than to maintain. She sees herself living like a gypsy or a hippie or a “I don’t give a fuck and I am peaceful about it kind of soul”. But she has no clue of how to actually attain that in this world, I mean she tries, moments at a time. But this full of duality, anxiety driven world we all live in has got her surrounded some days. So she prods me to acknowledge the monster and sit with the burn. To trim back that over grown bush, limb by limb, even if it grows back. She sends out her bat call so I will finally look for the places shes hiding and acknowledge shes there and she wants something. She wants me to know her, to listen to her and to quit acting like there is something or someone out there that is so much more important. She’s tired of that shit.