Suicide Aftershocks: VOl IV Positivity as Self-hatred –Socially acceptable grief and Apparently I’m either not sad enough or too happy –Who Knew?

Time continues to pass for us all and as I approach the 15 month “post suicide” marker, I’m amazed by the expectations people have about how they think I should behave.

Situationally, if I’m not sad enough I’ve gotten called out in some shaming way for being too happy, and then reminded—like I might forget—that my husband did kill himself.  Or, I’m sad for a moment in time and am quickly reminded that it’s been long enough—buck up and think positively.  As though thinking positively when I feel lost or alone or afraid is a panacea for all that ails me.

Initially when this began happening, I thought, “Well, I can’t please everyone so screw it!”  (or something a bit less kind!)  The first few happenings did throw me.  I second guessed myself, briefly thinking maybe they’re right.   It was easy to do because I’m still juggling the “why” question about my husband’s choice and what part I played, if any, in how the situation unfolded.  Guilt and shame can be an easy go-to when things are FUBAR.

A few weeks ago I asked my friend T—she and her husband showed up immediately the morning of the suicide-“how did I present—how did I act that day”?  So much of those first 24 hours felt like I was a watcher and removed one

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degree from the reality occurring around me.

 

She said that I had a weird smile on all day and that I was trying to take care of everyone else.  The policeman assigned to babysit me, her, the 5 dogs and the other 2 people who came to support me.

That was me trying to hold the state of positivity.  Keep the mask on.  Hold the illusion that all is well or will be.  You’re not good enough to expect support unless you’re bright and shiny, so stay shiny.

Of course, I wasn’t holding that as a conscious thought at the time.  Hindsight and deep exploration in the breakdown of the world I’ve known allows me to see that illusion clearly now!

When “positive thinking” is used in this manner—shaming self and hiding, ignoring, suppressing, distancing or judging our thoughts and emotions, we are making orphans of various aspects of ourselves.  Abandoning any part of self is an act of self-hatred.  Ugly or mean thoughts are nothing to be ashamed of, and when not acted upon are generally benign.  We are human.   We bring our past to the table until we learn to bear witness to and include all of our experiences and thoughts with curiosity rather than judgment.

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Abstract business background.

These last 6 years I’ve been primarily a caretaker for others in various situations and varying degrees of F-ed up! My world went quiet after my husband’s suicide which left a lot of time for me to consider my patterns of behavior and ways of being.  I was faced with many opportunities to be “positive”.

The whole construct of positive thinking is exclusive and perpetuates the unhealthy dichotomy of ; good/bad; right/wrong; now/then, while at the same time creating the expectation of an unobtainable state.  The state of ALWAYS being positive!  No matter what we do, we will still be human with a wide range of emotions and a society that thrives on labeling and judgment.

Love of self would allow all thoughts and aspects of self to well-up, including them and witnessing them as part of the whole that we are.  After all—it’s just a thought.  I don’t take action on all my thoughts and none of them should be judged as unworthy.  Some thoughts are simply no longer useful.  What if thoughts are simply surfacing in our awareness to be healed or learned from—transformed and/or released?   What if some thoughts are the fast-track to self healing is inclusion?

What if we simply allowed all of our experiences to be just experiences—Zen like, neither good nor bad—neither positive or negative?  Simply markers in time that we can either learn from and transform, or repeat and judge.  Inclusion is always an option.  And as thought precedes action—awareness of our thoughts creates dynamic changes in our actions which changes our experiences.Mayan Mystery Pyramid

As for me—I’m happy to be happy and I’m happy for the moments when I’m not. The sad/hard moments are opportunities to make distinctions and to clarify and heal aspects of my life so there can be more forward movement in whatever direction I choose.

So rather than “positive thinking”, perhaps a shift to appreciation and gratitude as a choice in awareness and a way of life might be more inclusive and allowing for all aspects of self to integrate. This shift creates inclusion where all thoughts are welcome, the perceived positive and negative!

Of course, we’re always well served when in control and mindful of what comes out of our mouths!

Here’s to growing awareness and inclusion of every part of “ME” and thoughtful awareness of how we choose to express!

With warmest aloha,

 

Kim

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RISE!

 

This month’s challenge:

A practice in Positive thinking to notice what you like rather than what you don’t.  We’re not seeking to change anything about you –simply creating a new habit of looking for what’s “right” wonderful and inspiring!

3x daily stop and notice your surroundings and acknowledge what’s beautiful, appealing, abundant, joy filled or things you like.

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.

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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

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RISE!

Dos Equis to Retire “The Most Interesting Man in the World” Perhaps I could be the “Most Interesting Woman…”

“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 saver of 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 the “smooth Harold website (,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”.         

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

imagesCASNN3H3       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 your most interesting self!

In growing awareness,

Kim

 

The Dog Park, Beingness, and the River of Grace

 

“Play is the exultation of the possible.” Martin Buber

As I return home from the dog park here on Kauai, I’m in awe once again over how much I learn about play, fun and the simplicity of approaching life with curious, excited expectations.

Our dog park here on island is an amazing space with a 100 yard fence dividing small dogs from big making it the perfect track to invite a chase.  Having 3 dogs, two small and one big, they are most often segregated and pining away for the greener grass on the other side.  But that’s another story!

Post dog-park nap time!

Our big dog, MacTavish, is the definition of pure beingness when he’s at the park.  He is indiscriminate and invites every dog to chase and play.  He understands boundaries and honors them without personalizing.  He graciously slows down for dogs that aren’t as fast as he is to allow them to stay in the chase.  He’s gentle with the elderly dogs and aware of where the humans are so as not to bowl them over.  He stays in sync with the way the other dogs and their humans are showing up and truly enjoys exactly how that is represented on any given day. In short—his true nature is joyful, gracious and courteous. 

I believe that the key to this presence is showing up with no expectations.  It doesn’t matter how often we go to the park, he is equally excited and appreciative to be there and naturally falls in to the rhythm of the day by simply allowing what is. 

When we approach life with that excited curiosity and leave our expectations behind, that’s when we can find the rhythm of our lives and easily fall into the flow—that river of grace– that supports us in sharing our true nature and joy with all of life.

Joyfully sharing my joy with warmest aloha, Kim