Searching For Goodness

Lately I have been searching for goodness. Not looking through rose colored glasses as before, for that distorted my true and clear vision, but by simply honoring the good that has already made a soft landing into my life.

This can be as simple as appreciating a doggie kiss from my circus puppy Lucille, or as complex as excavating the beauty from the abyss of my relationship with  my ex- partner Jane.

Last night I had a wonderful dream.  I was sitting in a light filled room when a beautiful woman who resembled Julie Andrews came into the room and sat down next to me. She took my hand and for the first time in my life, I felt complete.  She then spoke to me in a beautiful British accent:

“Just allow the healing in Katharine, allow the healing to flow through you.” I woke up soon after and just lay in my bed, letting my thirsty soul drink in her words.

 Due to the many circumstances of trauma in my life, I felt the need to keep my heart closed. Now a year into my sobriety, I will try my best to allow my heart to open into: healing, beauty and goodness.

I am making Allow in the Good  my new mission statement, so that when I feel triggered I will remind myself to:

1.  Take three deep healing breaths.

 2. Soften my heart and trust in my own innate worth- ability.

 3. Try to search for the good in every situation – even if I need to use my shovel to find the gift hidden in the morass.

I now raise my glass of O.J in a toast to this beautiful day as I eagerly await the nine o’clock hour to watch the finale of Scandal. Go Olivia Go!

All of Me

 

I am going to try really hard today to stay present and allow myself to be with all of my feelings. I still find it a challenge to luxuriate in all of my emotions, finding it so much easier to split off from my feelings and just feel… nothing.

Growing up in my dysfunctional family of four, feelings were not allowed to be spoken or felt. If I had dared to tell my mother I was anything less than fine, I was told that nobody will like me if I am not smiling and happy. “But what if I don’t feel happy?” I asked. “Just fake it Katharine, nobody likes sad people.”

I wanted so badly to be loved and accepted that I pushed all those confusing dark feelings far down in my gut, keeping my feelings buried by alternately bingeing and then starving, better to focus on my fluctuating weight, then on my feelings.

Now what was I to do? I did right thing. I got married, had a child and there I was, a professional people pleaser, constantly trying to please my angry husband and my demanding daughter. I didn’t understand why or how I ended up here when all I had ever done was try to be good.

Here is the moral of my rambling road of a story:

If you did not have a parent who validated all of you, who mirrored back to you in word and deed that your feelings were just that – feelings – and that all feelings are welcomed here in this family and in your body, then you will spend your life running from your crazy.

I married someone who acted out my long buried rage, giving me permission to then berate him for daring to act out my unspoken and un-allowed feelings. I hid from my true feelings for so long that I couldn’t acknowledge even to myself that what I most deeply wanted was to be with a woman until I was almost forty years old. Sadly, until I changed, the only thing that changed was the gender of my partner, my story remained the same.

 

This morning after waking up I stumbled into my bathroom and gently gazed at my reflection in the bathroom mirror.  I said out loud:

“I love and accept all of me. My fiery temper, my tendency to always speak my truth, and every bit of my me-ness from my frizzy hair down to my weird looking scrunched up tongue.”

I shall continue giving myself permission to feel all my feelings and try my best to not run from them, and in doing this brazen act of self – love and acceptance I will set myself free.

So my friends, love all of yourself. Tell yourself every day that you do matter and it is more than okay to be angry and feel angry and think angry thoughts and that doesn’t make you a bad person, it makes you a real one.

 

Chicken Soup For My Soul

While driving down Yonge Street this morning on my way to the butcher to pick up chicken for my chicken soup, I spotted a woman who was attempting to jay walk.  The car before me had not slowed down for her and she was so mad that even though I stopped to let her cross, she could not summon up the energy to give me the ubiquitous wave. She spent all her energy on glaring at the car ahead of me, even giving the driver the middle finger salute as she made her way across the road.

After this brief exchange took place I reflected on our moment of connection, and how this stranger’s actions had reflected my own behaviour back to me. I was so focused on looking at who in my past did me wrong that I couldn’t see who was directly in front of me doing me right.

When I lived with my now ex- partner Lorraine, she told me that she had no intention of ever committing to me on a permanent basis, even though by that time we had been living together for two years. She tried to wound on purpose when she revealed that information to me, and though her intention to wound was disturbing, I was relieved to hear her finally speak her truth.

When I first moved in to her apartment, she gave me a shelf in her cupboard and an even smaller space in her bathroom for my many toiletries. I came with an Arts and Crafts cherry wood dining room table which she was happy to welcome into her space.

Though I had never lived with a woman before, I knew that this was not the proper way to be welcomed in.  I was so desperate to be loved, so desperate to be saved from my own un- looked at pain that I gladly took the crumb she held out to me and held onto it for dear life.

When she told me that she did not want to be intimate with me anymore, I did not accept it with aplomb. I begged and pleaded for months, debasing myself over and over again.  Deep down in my body/mind I believed that I was not worthy of love and that she was correct in refusing me. It took years of therapy for me to realize that I too was not that interested in having sex with her, for why would I want to be with someone who was so rejecting?  I realized that what I was really interested in, what I was really turned on by, was the No!

Once I realized that I was encouraging her to say No to sex, I stopped asking her to sleep with me. Now why would I want her to say No? The trail of No’s lead back to my childhood. I was never told I was a good child, rarely praised for my excellent grades, only told how weird I was and how everything I did was not correct.

 

” Mommy, may I stay inside to read my new Nancy Drew book? ”

No! Go play outside with all the other ‘normal’ kids.”

” Katharine, you are bad girl talking back to your mother! I never talked back to mine!”

“But Mommy, maybe you should have talked back!”

No, Katharine, you are wrong!”

“Why do you have to ask questions about everything, Katharine?”

And so on, and so on…

 

My understanding of  love could be summarized in this way:

Love Hurts

So it made sense that when I became an adult, I would be attracted to and attract into my life women who reflected back to me my distorted version of myself, because I was still looking backward to my past, where my wounds began.

It has not easy for me to stay in the present, I must constantly remind myself that I am deserving of a love that doesn’t use shame as its calling card. In my not so distant past, if asked to choose one lesbian out of a line up, I inevitably would choose that lesbian who would share her great big fat No! with me.

Not anymore!

I know now I am deserving of a relationship with a kind and caring woman, a woman who will spend the rest of her life wanting to make sweet love to me, offering her heart and her home, and not just a drawer and a corner of her heart.

In return I will share my heart, my hard earned wisdom and my secret chicken soup recipe!

henini

 

henini

i’m mourning the loss of my tribe.

i’m mourning the loss of my dream

of sharing a holiday meal

with all my relations.

 

i’m mourning the loss of

adopting a child from china,

giving me that second

chance at a family

of my own.

 

i’m mourning the loss of my innocence.

i’m mourning the loss of all

my illusions.

i’m mourning the loss of

my last hiding place.

 

i have lost the battle,

that has raged on

for so long,

i can’t even remember who

started the war.

 

i surrender.

 

i live now in this

arid desert,

nothing here but

dust and deserted dreams.

 

“i am alive,

i am alive!”

said my still throbbing heart

to the sand, to the

sky, and to me.

 

here i am.

henini.

Un-Happy Mother’s Day

 Mother’s Day. Different year. More grief. Much more grief. Last year I was still awash in hope, still ridiculously grateful for a Mother’s Day text from my daughter.  I have worked hard to heal a 46 year dance with addictions ( food being my number one drug of choice, with a soupçon of shoplifting and obfuscating the truth to round out the mix).

While part of me celebrates my freedom from self- tyranny another part, is heartbroken at all the destruction I find in my wake. My relationship with my daughter is fractured at best, and I don’t think she cares that ‘now’ I’m better. I really tried to be a better mother than my mother but I was in many ways exactly like her.

I so want to believe in the redemptive powers of love and forgiveness, but I must accept that my daughter might never forgive me. I know I have no control of how my daughter, or anyone really, responds to me,  and the loss of control is especially difficult . As Sunday inches closer, I find myself feeling more and more panicked. I am so sorry for all the things I have done to my daughter, and accept the likelihood that we might never speak again.

I need to talk now about inter-generational trauma. My grandmother Gertie and her brother Bennie came to live in Canada with their father Shumuel, while my great grandmother Ruchel was left behind. Gertie was just fifteen when she left Poland, and never quite recovered from the loss of her mother. I’m not certain why her mother was left behind, but looking at her photo she appears to have had arthritis or some other immune system issue as her hands seem to be quite swollen at the knuckles.  I have a sense that my great grandfather, who my mother says was quite a playboy, took this opportunity to leave his sick wife behind and begin life anew in Canada.

My grandmother tried to send for her mother, but at only fifteen with no adult assistance and with a limited grasp of English, she couldn’t make it happen. I’m certain losing her mother in this way impacted her life in a myriad of ways.

She married my grandfather when she was quite young and had two children in quick succession, my aunt coming nine years later. My mother tells me that her mother could not be tender with her, not even when brushing her hair. My mom had to go to her neighbours house next door, where her aunt (her brother’s wife) would brush her hair into two long pigtails.

So it is no wonder that my mother parented in much the same way. There was no tenderness in my home, and I who was so starved for tenderness, found food as my soft place to fall. I  swore to myself that when I had children, I would be kind and tender and listen to them and comb their hair gently, because my mother, just as her mother before her, had immense difficulty staying soft and present to brush my long curly hair into submission.

One summer day when I was eight years old, I walked into the barbershop at our local strip mall in Ville St Laurent and had the barber give me a boy’s haircut. I came home with a crew cut to my mother’s horror, but I could not handle the pain of her trying to comb my thick tangled hair with a teeny tiny comb used to get rid of dandruff.

When my daughter was a baby, I remember turning to my mother in anger and saying  “See, it’s not that hard to be a good mother!”

Except it is. I remember when my daughter Victoria was three. She was in our big Jacuzzi bathtub playing with her bath toys  when I asked her how her day went at pre-school. She said ” Fine.” When I asked her for more information she said ” I don’t want to share”. I told her that when I was her age I would have given anything to have my mother ask about my day. She answered ” Well, that was you, not me”

Of course she was correct, and for a different mother who wasn’t dealing with trauma, that would have been fine, but for me this was exceptionally triggering. Her reaction to my long unmet desire for connection created a domino effect, for the more I pushed the more she retreated.

When she was in Grade Five, I brought a large pink stuffed animal to her school, and held it up to the window of her classroom. Victoria told me later that that was one of the most embarrassing moments of her life. I couldn’t understand why, and felt confused that my notion of bringing her happiness had brought her pain. I just couldn’t separate my own needs from hers.

I have failed my daughter in so many ways. I wanted her to feel that I was her safe haven, the one person she could bring truest self to for comfort and conversation, instead I am the last person she would come to for solace.

I didn’t only screw things up for Vicky. I made sure she graduated from high school and helped her to find a food services program that led to her working in the food service industry. I am ridiculously proud of her. She is currently working full time while in school full time, the first female in our family to do so.

I can only hope that my daughter finds her way back to me. In the meantime, I tell myself to breathe through the panic down to the grief. Grief that I failed, just like my mother and her mother before her, to show up for my daughter in the ways that she needed me to be. It’s important for me to feel the grief.

It’s how I know I’m finally here. Here in my body, where I belong.

 

Take The Time To Be Kind

Yesterday evening in my ongoing attempt to meet my beloved, I went to a nutrition course at my local Metropolitan Community Church. MCC is primarily an LGBT church, so I signed up for this course not for nutritional information but for the possibility of sitting next to a sexy dyke, sending her my love vibes as I ask her to pass the persimmon, or the parsley.

I came to class a bit late which was unusual for me as I tend to show up early, so I didn’t pay particular attention to the ‘No parking after 5 pm’  sign that was literally right in front of my car. In my defense, I am short and somewhat near-sighted so it wouldn’t have been organic for me to have looked up and again, I was rushing!

Since the class was only one hour long, I had brought my puppy Lucille with me, promising her a trip to the dog park after class.  I walked into to the church and then into a fairly dark room where the nutritionist was speaking to a group of ten people. The nutritionist was both strident and perky, two qualities that should never be brought together in one person.

 I found a seat and said hello to the group, strangely no one acknowledged my presence. I was getting a lot of hostile vibes sent my way, I understood that the nutritionist was in the middle of speaking, but felt a few seconds spent on acknowledging my presence would have gone a long way on making me feel comfortable and a part of the whole.

As the long hour was coming to a close, a man rushed into the church and pointed to me and said “The police are here with a tow truck, they are about to tow your car away along with your little dog!” I ran outside just in time to prevent my car with dog in tow, from being taken far far away. After thanking the man profusely, I asked him how he knew it was my car the police were going to tow away. He told me that he lived right across the street and had watched me go into the church next door.

I was so grateful, as this adventure in towing would have cost me over a hundred dollars not to mention traumatizing my poor little pooch. I drove away thinking how this one man’s small act of kindness had saved my ample ass big time.

This morning I walked down to Ollife’s in Rosedale to buy some eggs for my breakfast. When I went to the front counter to pay for the eggs the young man who was serving me took my carton and opened the crate to see if any of the eggs were cracked. I was impressed with his diligence and commented. He told me that his mother had taught him to be thorough and that he knew I would be upset when I came home and found one of the eggs had cracked. How lovely!

I felt very cared for in both the above situations, realizing how these small micro-moments of kindness, strung together like tiny Christmas lights, make me feel more connected to my own well of kindness.

After eating my delicious eggies, I decided to write this tiny blog where I (hopefully!) inspire a micro- kindness movement. No big gestures necessary. Perhaps you ask the elderly woman in front of you at the check out line if she needs help carrying her groceries to the car. Perhaps you smile and say hello to the man who takes your subway token as you make your way to work. Perhaps you stop to hold the door open for a mom struggling to hold the hand of her rambunctious toddler.

Really any small gesture of kindness will suffice, just begin!

#microkindnessmovement

I see you

I have found one year into my sobriety of sorts (healing my 46 year addiction to numb out with food) that after the first few months, the hardest part and still the hardest part, maybe even harder now, most definitely harder now, is to feel all my feelings that I haven’t felt since I was fourteen, when I discovered the pure relief of escape using food as my vehicle of choice. 

 I am astonished at the depth of my self loathing and self abnegation. I feel weighted down by a tonne of grief at being alone here on earth at the age of sixty.

It’s terrifying to be emotionally naked without my usual escape routes. Today I received an email from a client and my first thought before I read it was ‘How did I fuck up now?’ I am distraught and so ashamed that after all the work I have done to heal my wounds, my go to gut response is still –

‘BOOM! YOU IS BAD!’

I’m not sure what to do or how to proceed. Perhaps the not knowing is a good thing. I have spent a lifetime ‘trying’ – to be good, to be thin, to be normal, whatever the fuck that is. Perhaps not trying so hard and just being gentle with my grief will help.

 Today my grief and I are going to the beach where we will sit together and each will say to the other:

‘Hello there, I see you’.

Well, at least I am going to say that to my grief, I am not sure what she will say to me…