Suicide Aftershocks Vol II: Intimacy and Grief and Are Massage Therapists Supposed to Cry???

I’ve found that most people who are not blood related or partners will only hug for about 4 seconds. This seems to be the socially acceptable and proper length of time for non-intimate hugs regardless of relationship.  I’m amazed how uncomfortable people become if expected to rise to the circumstantial need of another when it involves hugging, touch or physical comforting when the other is obviously in emotional pain.

Natural!

We all know how vulnerable it makes us to ask for help when we’ve been emotionally ambushed by life.  One person’s pain cannot be compared to another’s.  We’ve all experienced hurt, loss and pain.  While we feel these emotions along with loneliness and sadness over life’s circumstances, we don’t always feel grief.  Grief occurs generally when there’s a death, (or 7 as in my situation). It can also occur when blindsided by an ending of marriage or career.  All of our emotions require our attention and focus in order to integrate.

But grief requires more.  Grief is intimate and crushing and vast.  It requires thoughtful navigation through its depths to survive intact and eventually nurture the ability to access wholeness, light and joy.  Our culture is comfortable with sharing and bearing witness to accomplishments, successes and happy things, but seemingly has lost its ability to witness personal tragedy, grief and the sometimes ugly growing pains of being a human.

During the first months after my husband’s suicide, I asked a few of my married friends if they or their husbands would be willing to let me lie on the couch and be held by either one of them!  I just wanted to be held—to cry—to be witnessed in my grief or simply not be alone with it for an hour or so.   This request was ignored, brushed off with laughter or agreed to with no opportunity being created for it to happen.  I understand and yet I don’t.

Geese 2 047

Backyard Nurturing

Being the capable woman that I am, and unwilling to seek out “companionship” of the one-night-stand sort—

I booked a massage at a reputable establishment and showed up on time.  I informed the 20 something young woman that I was a bit fragile and might cry—that it had nothing to do with her and if I did cry, to please ignore it and move forward with the massage.  Within 20 minutes, I was wrapped in the sheet, sitting on the side of the massage table holding and comforting the therapist as she cried because she lacked the tools to separate her personal issues from mine and did not have the emotional maturity to hold space for my grief (A grief she knew nothing about as I had not shared details).  As I sat holding her, witnessing, comforting and allowing her to show up exactly how she was in that moment, I thought, “WTF?  Am I an idiot?  I’m paying for this?  This is supposed to be about me!  This is what I need from her!”  (MY humanity was showing!)

I realized in that moment that grief makes space.  It opens primal flood gates in our being-ness tearing down all mechanisms of compartmentalization.  It forces access to the deepest parts of ourselves and our shadows and thins the veil between how we are “expected” to behave and show up (shiny and bright) and how we wish we could (tattered and thread bare but real).  Sadly, as a society, we don’t want to see anything other than happy projections.

My grief opened a portal for this young woman to access something she’d turned away from at some point in her life.  Without analyzing it—without speaking or making meaning, we sat in grief together—not exactly how I wanted it, but in communion and authenticity and extremely intimate as we were strangers.(and I was naked wrapped in a sheet in a dark room!)  Our burdens were lighter afterward—although neither one of us would have chosen that scenario.

I realized that I was able to give what I wanted to receive.  There’s a healing power to that.  I did pay and tip this young woman.  I booked another massage at a different location and an almost identical scenario unfolded.  I behaved the same way, with love and allowance, although I paid somewhat begrudgingly this time!  After all, my needs matter just as much as everyone else’s!

While learning a lot about grief and myself through these 2 experiences, I still wanted a massage!  I asked a friend for a referral and was led to a male MT—retired military and specializing in sports massage.  It took me a month to commit.  I finally called and left him this message.  “Hey I’m Kim—I was referred by M.  Here’s the deal–I might cry—been through a lot—if you can’t handle it, don’t call me back.  Thanks.”

Within 30 minutes this therapist called me back laughing and said to come on in, he had daughters and he’d seen worse!  So I did, and I didn’t cry!

Now—a year later, I’m genuinely happy and joyful most of the time.

I’ve noticed that my friends are all comfortable hugging me again and I appreciate and enjoy it.  I’m grateful they’re allowing me to be my normal “touchy” self, without making it mean anything.  At the same time, I recognize that an important opportunity was missed in their inability to be available to and for my pain.

I make these observations without judgment or finger pointing.  They’re simply observations about our humanity.  I truly believe we all show up the best way we can in any given moment.  I can clearly see events in my past where I wish I had been able to show up more fully for my loved ones.  The question is, “do we grow and learn?”

Because of this great opportunity to lean into;  uncomfortable–unhappy–ugly–raw-painful and dark for 6 long years through so many deaths and leavings, I have cultivated the ability to hold multiple states and perspectives at once;

—to agree and disagree; To want and not receive; To receive and not want what is given; to love and despise; to be joyful and grieving; to reject while at the same time accepting; to be angry and forgiving; to have no clue and yet understand deeply.

Had the massage therapists been able to hold multiple states at once– my pain and the task at hand; empathy without sympathy; interconnection without engagement; what different form of healing might have occurred for us all?

Here’s to loving it all, allowing all aspects of our humanity and relentlessly asking for what we want whether we get it or not!

“Hugging is natural, organic, naturally sweet, free of pesticides, and preservatives. Hugging contains no artificial ingredients. It’s 100% wholesome. No calories, no caffeine, no nicotine.” (borrowed form http://www.poofcat.com)

This month’s challenge!  HUG—hug for more than 4 seconds—Go crazy and be one of THOSE people who hug uncomfortably long!  Hug heart to heart—Put your chin over the hug-ee’s left shoulder and breathe deeply!  Give the gift of connection through hugs—(I’m assuming you won’t hug inappropriately!)

With Warmest Aloha,

Kim

tribal-vector-element-with-eagle-head_MkjbCj8O_L

RISE!

SUICIDE AFTERSHOCKS; Beneficiant & What beauty will I create in the space provided? Vol. 1

In 2011, life happened—like life always does and choices were made by me and my husband resulting in our relocating 5000 miles back to Virginia from Kauai in 2013.  For 5 years those happenings in my world presented as family elders becoming ill, 4 deaths, daily care taking, and all the stressors complicit with up-rooting your entire life, careers,  relationships, and the constant daily logistics of dealing with the overlap of our “living” while navigating the dying, illness and the dismantling of lives that had ended.

Fast forward to June 20, 2016.  By 8:00 a.m. that Monday morning, my husband had taken his own life less than 30 feet from where I stood feeding our dogs.

This is the first time I’ve addressed this in a public format.  I am choosing to do so because I find myself, more than 9 months later, benefiting from exactly where I am because of the choices I made, or didn’t  and because of the choices made by my late husband.

The word beneficiary is defined as, “benefiting from; receiving favor; being granted a privilege, or having a gratuity bestowed upon you.

Most often, we equate being a beneficiary with receiving money, property etc., after another’s death.

Having dealt now with 5 deaths and the myriad of legal-ease, documentation and bureaucracy that is required to “officially” close the books on one’s life, I started to explore just how I truly am benefiting from the way my life has shown up, comfortable or not, through my choices or the choices of others.  Here’s what I’ve come up with so far….

I learned/ I am beneficiary of/ I choose;

  • I continue to choose raw authenticity when the waves of grief, sadness, regret and reality wash over me.
  • I chose to grieve well—to live the experience completely so I could process it completely and live fully present through it regardless of the pain as a means of self-love so when I arrive at “DONE” I can move forward in freedom.
  • I learned to ask for help, and allowed myself to receive it.
  • Grace—grace for those individuals, family and friends who simply couldn’t show up.
  • Allowance for those who couldn’t show up colored by the fundamental truth and knowing that their inability had absolutely nothing to do with me or their love for me.
  • Deep humility and gratitude for the people who came immediately and who stayed for the dirty work—the aftermath of my raw and seemingly inexhaustible grief, guilt, doubt, self-questioning, etc.. These same people who have stayed and held space for me to find my happiness again and are as equal to the task of allowing my joy as they were my pain.
  • The purge of situations, people and expectations from my life because I was/am no longer willing to show up in familiar roles for “them”. This was painful initially as from the outside looking in I had lost everything.
  • The rebirth of my “beingness” rather than filling a role of “wife, step-mother, friend, caretaker, daughter, sister”.
  • Reclaiming my integrity—self in relation to self. I am no longer willing to let anyone else’s well-being or opinions hold more importance than my own.
  • I continue to benefit from honoring myself—guilt free—for the choices I made knowingly during my marriage and with family members. This gives me the ability to learn from the dichotomy I chose to stay in without victimizing myself or creating drama.
  • I learned to be kind to myself and allowing when I was less than proud of my behavior or reaction in various situations.
  • I learned to “lean into the jib”, and get after creating something beautiful in this huge space that’s been provided.
  • While this may seem harsh or too pragmatic for some, an unnecessary distinction for others,–I fulfilled the terms of my contract—till death do us part—I’m ready for LIFE—and I’m grateful for this feeling of inspiration and excitement.

From one perspective, I “lost” many friendships as people could not hold the space for me to show up other than as the consistent, happy, solution-finding anchor most of my circle experienced me to be.   For others who left, they just couldn’t handle the gritty, ugly, authentic pain as it had the potential of forcing them to rub up against something equally uncomfortable in their own lives.

Beautiful spider web with water drops close-up

Perhaps entangled in all the leavings was an inability of those individuals to allow me the space and the grace of being weak, needy or vulnerable for just a moment in time.  For this I am grateful.  This experience has deepened in me the ability to see beyond a moment and hold space for any moment to morph into the next even more magical possibility.

In the grand scheme of things, that’s the simplicity of what has occurred for all of us these last 9 months.  Moments in time strung together and defined as an experience.

My moments were filled with the crushing weight of holding a loved one while his body released all life that was left as his soul withdrew—by his own powerful choice.  I am the beneficiary of having been imbued with the strength to respond with love and be with him through his death as I was with him through our life.  I was/am blessed with the gift of trust.   This trust allowed me to lean into that vast ocean of grace which was represented by LIFE showing up to support and love me immediately through the people, opportunities, beauty and magical moments that ensued and continue to unfold.

These next 9 months will be the same in that they will be a series of moments strung together which we will define as an experience.

So the questions I ask myself now include, “What beauty will I create in the space that’s been provided?  What intention will I imbue in the moments to come?”

How about you?

With warmest aloha and deep appreciation for all of life,

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RISE!

Kim

Living toothless—the Courage to be Authentic –Jim Carey as “Vera De Milo” and authentic Self-Worth

After breaking out a front tooth at the gum line one otherwise glorious Sunday afternoon on Kauai, I found myself with only one option—get over it and live with it until my dentist could see me Monday!  As my message and work are centered on radical authenticity, recovering from unconsciousness and complete acceptance of our humanity as the only path to integration of our divinity, I couldn’t work myself up into drama or upset or even much embarrassment about my appearance!

Only missing one!

 

My husband tried to “help” my precarious vanity, by laughing hysterically, humming stereo-typical- music for the toothless and being his particular off-center brand of funny.  By bed-time as we were brushing –up teeth and readying for bed I in my sweats and sports bra, he gleefully commented that I kind of  looked like Jim Carey on “In Living Color”playing Vera De Milo!

Jim Carey

Jim Carey as Vera De Milo

Now—I don’t think I’m all that bad to look at, but when I got in to the spirit of play, struck a muscle pose, smiled big while I scrunched up my face and angled just right in front of the mirror—he wasn’t wrong!  At least we went to bed laughing—albeit at my expense!

In LIving Color–Vera De MIlo

Things got more interesting a few days later after the Periodontist had to pull the remainder of the tooth.  Interesting because for this I had to fly to Oahu for multiple appointments and a 12 hour day of business, shopping and public exposure.  After the tooth-pulling, the tray holding my temporary tooth kept filling with blood—making my whole upper set look like some garish Halloween costume—teeth swimming in blood!  The bleeding stopped as soon as the pressure of the tray with fake tooth came out.

Lucky me!  Another opportunity to be authentically exposed in my current toothless reality!  I decided while at my second appointment after the Doctor told me how disturbing and distracting my bloody swimming teeth were, to go toothless for the remainder of the day.

Tray with tooth–sans blood!

This seemed doable—I could shop and eat easily, communicating with closed mouth facial expressions and hand gestures’.  It was all good!  Until… I realized I had left my cell phone on Kauai!  As payphones are no longer readily available, I had to go to the help desk of the store I was in and ask the cute young attendants toothlessly to use their phone! 

This was the true moment of complete acceptance for me.  I enjoyed the rest of the day shopping, smiling big and speaking with reckless abandon—as though I had all my teeth!  What the hell—I live on Kauai, not Oahu anyway!

Our society is quite conditioned to “first impressions”,  the current collective view of beauty and the meaning we assign to any deviation from what’s “socially acceptable” as far as appearance is concerned.   Most of us develop our meter of self-worth based on this unexamined societal conditioning and the difference between what society says is okay and how we view ourselves within that framework.

Circumstances placed me in a situation where I could have disengaged from the day, jumped on the next flight home and hunkered down alone in the living room until I could comfortably wear my dental tray with tooth.   Or I could embrace the toothless, less than attractive reality I found myself in and enjoy the moment and the possibilities it might bring.     

Me–the current reality!

So while the way I see myself might still be a bit off from the “reality” of how others see me,  I am grateful to have been able to courageously and relatively easily represent myself—my true self, which has nothing whatsoever to do with how I look!  (oh—and I’m truly sorry if I scared anyone!)

Xena–Warrior Princess-The way I see myself!

So, where might you be in denial about a reality in your life?  Are you willing to courageously step into authenticity before you’re forced to make a choice?

Joyfully and with warmest aloha and all my teeth!

Kim

Perhaps I am the most interesting Woman in the world!

“The Most Interesting Man in the World”

                                                                                                              “The weight of his words would break a lesser mans Jaw.”  Dos Equis 

Jonathan Goldsmith, the gorgeous actor (?) who portrays the “Most Interesting Man in the World” for Dos Equis beer;   http://dosequis.com/  quite possibly could be!  After reading several articles about him, I discovered that he is a renaissance man, self-made multi-millionaire, rescuer of a damsel in distress from sharks and saved a stranded, injured hiker on Mt. Whitney.

The commercials are smart, fast-paced and funny!  Even more so now that I know the history of said “Interesting Man”.

After forcing my husband to listen to me read quotes from, http://www.smoothharold.com/top-30-facts-about-the-most-interesting-man-in-the-world/    and laugh hysterically—mostly alone—I pondered if I might be considered for the potential role of “Most Interesting Woman in the World”                                                                                                                                                                                               

SO Interesting!

Take Fact #1“He lives Vicariously through himself.”   That’s a pretty nice definition of consciousness!  And interesting!

After all, I own my own business.  I have been written about (albeit only cursorily).  I’ve been on television—perhaps by accident.  I’ve saved countless small creatures from imminent death or disfigurement and on many occasions I’ve rescued myself from bad relationships, situations and/or decisions.  I’ve helped clients and friends with good counsel (so I’ve been told!)  And I personally feel as though the weight of MY words might break a lesser woman’s jaw!

This clearly qualifies me for the position!   (If you fall off the pedestal you put yourself on, does it hurt as much?)

Here’s hoping you have a fun, silly and fabulous day enjoying life and laughing at yourself!

                                Joyfully and with warmest aloha, Kim

Pure Presence

Me with Dogs

"Pooh and Piglet"
Present with friends!

“What day is it?” asked Pooh.   “It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.  “MY FAVORITE DAY.” said Pooh.

As I sit this early rainy morning in the home I love on Kauai, I am overwhelmed by my gratitude and contentment to be exactly where I AM, how I AM and who I AM.    I’ve been home for 3 weeks now after a long 6 months of being more gone than home, (physically and mentally) and I finally feel like I’m here—now. 

This feeling of pure presence is weighty and light all at once.  It’s comforting and familiar and foreign all at the same time.  I realize sitting here how much I’ve lived this presence and neglected allowing it over these last months.

Like so many of us, life kept happening at a break-neck pace and while I showed up, not all of my engagement was conscious or intentional.  Not all of my engagement was reflective of the woman I think/say I am or of the woman I am becoming.  Interesting, because I am becoming said woman in part because of my awareness of this lack of intention and presence. 

I was blessed and fortunate to be with my parents on the east coast for much of my mother’s dying process and to be her caretaker the last few weeks of her life.  Her process kept me focused on her and my birth family and the ever present needs of what was happening there.  I can see, now, how I neglected my Kauai life, family and friends, my work, goals, health and well-being. 

Today is my favorite day because of this feeling and this allowing of me to just sit—to simply be and to enjoy the sound of the rain and feel the contentment, grounding and peace of being here, now. 

The awareness and ability, in action, which I trust to more deeply cultivate is pure presence to whatever is happening in the moment, without gauging its presumed level of importance compared to other concurrent events.

So, may today be YOUR favorite day and if today happens to become tomorrow—may it be our favorite day, too!!

Joyfully and with warmest aloha,  Kim

Communication [or a lack there of] & Unrealistic Expectations

Communicate Clearly or Leave it up to Chance?

No Jay Walking on Kauai!

The 2010 holiday season is almost over which leaves us with only a couple of more opportunities this year to interact cleanly with family and friends.  For me, CLEANLY  means responsibly, with no hidden agenda, no undelivered or unspoken communications, no assumptions or assigned meaning, no story making, no pretending, embellishing, misleading, or withholding information, and no subjugating my true nature, peacefulness and desires for the good of anyone else.  This means allowing them—the family and friends I’m interacting with, the same courtesies, without judgment while maintaining healthy boundaries.

Hhmmmmm—my first response is, “Fat Chance with my crowd”!   Translated, I clearly have not mastered the above list.  When mastered, this will be a life of the highest integrity, the most loving allowance of self and others and a profoundly uplifting model of authenticity.  So how do you eat this elephant of uncovering your authentic self and letting go of expectations?  Like any big project, one bite at a time!

Recognizing  Hidden Expectations

   A good first step is to recognize where you harbor expectations that you’ve conveniently forgotten to mention to the person(s) you have expectations of!  Next time you feel let down in a situation, ask yourself if you clearly communicated to the other person just what you wanted.  I know for myself, if I’m disappointed or let down by a situation or person, it’s because I didn’t fill them in on what I wanted.  It sets up our friends and loved ones for failure when we expect them to magically or intuitively know what we want in any situation.  I’ve heard so many girl friends complain, “If he/she really loved me, they’d just know what to do”.   As romantic as that sounds, and as much as I’m sure I would enjoy it, it’s unrealistic, selfish and irresponsible to expect.

Unrealistic—Self-explanatory unless you date on psychic network for singles.

Selfish to expect anyone else to care more about what you want when you’re too lazy to be bothered with asking.

Irresponsible because it’s your job and no one else’s to meet your own needs or make the requests necessary to have them met.

So these last 2 days of the year, intention to be conscious and aware of what you’re seeking, what would be nice to experience, what your preferences might be.  Then, as you interact with your loved ones, coworkers, clients, etc. rather than risk being disappointed, BE BOLD and simply, clearly and concisely ASK for what you want!  (coming soon—What to do when you Ask and DON”T receive!!!)

Happy New Year, Hau’oli Makahiki Hou!

Kim