I See You ~

Did you sit across from me on purpose?
Yes, yes I did!

I was afraid you were going to see me
I do see you, you are a beautiful light!

I feel like I’m invisible, I want to be invisible
I see you. You are worthy of being seen, being heard!

Do I have to stay strong? Do I have to stay silent?
Your strength is in speaking your truth!

Will it ever get better, will the pain stop?
It does get better, the pain changes. It ebbs and flows!

Is it okay to ask for help?
Yes, it’s important to ask for help. You’re important!

Will I be okay?
Yes, you will be okay…you Are okay!

As I drive away, I spend the day thinking, that one of the most important gifts we can give another person is to be their mirror.

To understand that to be a mirror for someone is not just a concept, but that sometimes a person’s reflection is non-existent. That sometimes our own reflections may be non-existent.

To be lucky enough to engage with a person who at that moment needs to see the essence of who they truly are, to be their mirror so they can see themselves.

Yesterday, a lesson was etched deep into my soul. It is a true gift to be able to say to another person, “I see you, I hear you, you deserve to be here, you matter!”

Photo by Jovis Aloor on Unsplash

Thank you for reading my books: If I Could Tell You How It Feels, and Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph      

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Lessons from a real and metaphorical mountain climb

I always used the metaphor of climbing a mountain to describe my healing journey. Then I was able to experience a real mountain climb. I am traveling to those 14ers again next week. I’m not sure if I will attempt to climb it again. Last night, I started to fear I would experience HACE (high altitude cerebral edema) again. And even though we have a plan in place this time, I may just stare at its majesty from below 10,000 feet, and with overwhelming gratitude remember these lessons from a real and metaphorical mountain climb.

  • The road to the trailhead is wrought with bumps, divots, potholes, and dusty uneven terrain. It is hot, cold, sunny, cloudy, ever-changing but it’s possible to start the hike by crossing a wooden bridge at the trailhead, or climb the stairs to the safety of my therapists’ office.
  • The air at the trailhead is cleaner, crisper, and alive with possibility and excitement. As I breathe in, my lungs are filled with clean air and I want to take deep cleansing breaths. As I begin to climb into unfamiliar altitude my lungs keep me from moving too fast and I find I gasping for air. I have to remind myself to breathe. I listen to how my Sherpa breathes and try to follow what he is doing and take slow deep breaths. When I listen to him and remember to breathe and take rest stops I am able to keep walking up the mountain.
  • I know there is a rocky, snow-streaked tall foreboding mountain peak just around the corner but I haven’t had the chance to get a glimpse of it yet. Then, as I round the corner I am at once awestruck by the beauty of the two mountain peaks and overwhelmed by the enormity of what I am looking at. I am determined to climb this mountain that is in front of me, to conquer my past, while keeping brave and optimistic while climbing towards the summit.
  • As I turn around I see a breathtaking, almost indescribable scene and I am in the middle of a cirque. Surrounded by mountains on all sides of me. A place to rest, and restore, to reflect and take the time to notice the here and now. I notice the beauty, the critters, the flora, the fauna the many obstacles that I have already overcome just hiking up this far in life and on this trail.
  • I start to notice the wonderful people we encounter along the way. These people are climbing for their own personal reasons but each person has goals and each person is there to help along the way. Support from others in the form of a friendly hello, or a smile or a vote of confidence to keep going. We are all on the same trail and when the terrain gets too steep or when my Sherpa needs to consult with others, he finds the right person to help along our journey.
  • The altitude is starting to get to me now. It has been hard work and I am starting to feel the effects of my journey. I am getting sicker with each step, but I keep telling myself, “take 10 more steps.”  I am starting to lose sight of the reason I am climbing this mountain and focusing instead on just reaching the summit.  I find I am slowly losing my ability to see the beauty around me and all I think about is taking 10 more steps and the reward will come at the top.
  • The rocks are so hard to climb, the switchbacks look confusing to me. I’m scared I will make a wrong turn and fall off this mountain. I am deep in the throws and committed to continue to climb the mountain, but self-doubt seeps in with each step.  I’m scared and getting sick like I felt while facing the absolute truth of my past but I am determined to keep going.
  • I am starting to fade quickly and then I hear the wonderful words from my Sherpa, “This is your summit.” I thought we made it to the very top. When I realize we didn’t, I felt so upset inside. I felt as if I failed myself, my Sherpa and my family. Then I hear that negative voice inside that suggests this is punishment and I would never reach the summit so I began to bargain and plead to keep going, feeling like my ability to conquer “them” was climbing those last 200 feet. Then I realized that this Was my summit. It was beautiful and quiet and wondrous and rocky and very high. I was sitting on top of the world and the view was the same here as it would be 200 ft higher.
  • I was beginning to feel my head get sick but I was overcome with what I accomplished in reality and metaphorically. For me, the metaphor did not break down. For me, it lived up to everything I had worked so hard to accomplish. I climbed up the rope out of the skeleton hands that have tried to keep me down!
  • Then I am sick! I can’t think straight; my legs won’t work the way I want them to and something deep inside of me says get down. I see the look of fear on my Sherpa’s face, I hear the tone in my daughter’s voice, who had climbed the mountain with us, and I feel the urgency as I am being led down the mountain towards safety. Along the way, climbing up the mountain I got sick, coming down the mountain there were moments I wasn’t quite sure I was going to make it. But just as the journey of the mountain is sometimes wrought with sickness and safety concerns, perhaps descending down a mountain pose some challenges too.
  • I was emotionally disoriented for days following the climb. I was scared because I had developed such severe altitude sickness, but I was also proud of my accomplishment. I was scared because I realized how many summits there would be in reality to accomplish before I could feel healthy. I lost sight of the fact, that I had accomplished so much already, and that each summit is a victory, no matter how high the climb. I had to fight to keep my sense of accomplishment. But fight, I did and now I understand just how many summits’ I have accomplished over the years. 

Some of the lessons my mountain climb has taught me are that it’s the beauty, fear, wonder, excitement, tears, and help that constitutes being able to say I climbed a real 14,000-foot mountain and a metaphorical unyielding mountain range. 

 

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Thank you for reading my books: If I Could Tell You How It Feels, and Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph    

Just do your best; You’ll find your how!

Change is a fact of life. Our bodies change, as do our cognitive abilities. Sometimes we embrace change, but sometimes change can be frightening. The fear of the unknown and the anticipation of what might be can be paralyzing; the feeling of vulnerability can prevent us from moving forward.

A good friend of mine has been going through extraordinary grief and change the past year. Loss of many kinds, including her mother whom she had an extremely close relationship with, aging in a society where becoming a woman of a certain age can make you feel irrelevant, and also she is experiencing a bit of spiritual uncertainty. Big.Tough.Stuff!

As we were talking yesterday, I found the best thing I could do was to silently offer myself as her mirror. The grief is (appropriately) palpable, but she is also doing some wonderful things both for herself and the community. Personal growth, and being of service to others is one of the constants in her day-to-day life. Sometimes, in the muck and mire of what life throws at us, we forget to see, and often don’t acknowledge that what we do matters.

I go through feelings of irrelevance and self-doubt a lot. Especially when I can feel I am on the cusp of change. Right now, I have hit the pause button on many outside activities in my life. As I work to reconnect with myself; my center, I notice that my interests are heading in a different direction than they have been the past few years. That’s a natural progression for me, as I learn and grow. But, it’s also a bit scary. Although I still could be quite satisfied with the path I have been on, I’m also anxious to listen to what it is I may want to do next.

I find right now, that I am feeling the wind of change calling to me. Just as I was purposefully trying to be a mirror for my friend yesterday, I find Im also seeking out the mirrors in my life. The ones who reflect back who I am without any masks. The person I have been working hard to become, without feeling shame, the need for perfection or control, but who can also firmly set personal boundaries.

As my friend and I were talking, she was describing to me an extremely intensive class she will soon be taking. I started to think about the things I’m willing to let go of now, and the absolute openness of what will come next. Both of us began to get a bit stressed and animated over the, “how are we going to get through this?”

As my friend got up to grab some water, out of my mouth, from somewhere in that wise-mind of mine, I heard myself say the words, “Just do your best – You’ll find the how!”

I think really it was just a random thought that was passing by, but the words came out, and we just starred at each other in silence, stunned into the connectedness of knowing that it will be okay. What happened next? We sat quietly next to each other, understanding that with change comes uncertainty. But that uncertainty only requires us to do our best, and trust that the how will reveal itself in its own perfect timing.

Photo by Mārtiņš Zemlickis on Unsplash

 

Thank you for reading my books: If I Could Tell You How It Feels, and Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph