I call it my Super Mama Group. Organized by a non-profit agency, our group includes a good number of women who, due to varying circumstances (including death), parent one or more children with no type of support from the father. This week, we talked goals. I was absolutely inspired to hear those of the others. And I admitted that, regardless, I have none currently. Why? Last November through May was among the top four most difficult stretches of my life. (You read about the other three in GAPS Guide.)
You already know that, during those months, my dad died. This event was strongly influenced by severe mental illness in our family, thus all the more a tragedy. The launch of my book -a project my dad was so proud of- was going to be a bright spot in an otherwise terrible time. And then more terrible things happened, in direct relation to my announcement of its upcoming launch. Yep.
The details are not as relevant as the effects. Through a series of incredible challenges, I became tired, discouraged, disheartened, and somewhat disillusioned. When I eventually realized I had done all I could to turn things around, and it was time to let the Universe do the rest, I bought a tent, put my son and I in the car, and hit the road.
When our group’s facilitator insisted tonight that I set a specific goal of sustainable housing, I spoke truthfully. Right now, I am in a deep internal process of redefining my relationship with pretty much everything in my life, including with myself. But as I sat, I realized I do have goals -they are just not as “normal” as career, housing, or money.
On the long-ish drive home, I realized that my goals, right now, are these:
1. Continue to simplify/streamline; to release anything and everything that is non-essential. Remember my dishwasher and the iRobot vacuum? Those are very much a part of that. I released two hours per day of dishwashing and another hour of floor care. This freed me up to start walking 10000 steps a day. A simple activity, with profound effects. I also started checking my physical mail -far away from my house as it is- just once a month. I set my son’s therapy appointments in stone, and stopped agreeing to reschedule them. I wrote out our schedule for family and therapists, with breathing room around each event, and said we were available for the times in between. All of these steps have helped so much. Today I received yet another form asking for the history of me and my son. The questionnaire -required to access a “support” program- is very long, involved, detailed, and convoluted. Upon receiving it -and the notice that it is due tomorrow- I felt defeated. I wondered whether it is worth accessing support. But then an idea came: I’m going to physically tear out from GAPS Guide the ‘Our Stories’ section and staple it on. Done! See? Streamlining! Awesome indeed.
2. Allow my grieving. In the 6-month period referred to earlier, I lost a lot. In a timely article this spring in Oprah magazine, Martha Beck referred to a stretch like this as a “rumble strip”. Sometimes life flows; sometimes it ebbs. Last winter and spring was a Big. Long. Ebb. There has definitely been recovery, but I’m also aware that very soon I will be experiencing the first anniversaries of each of those losses. My dad found in a coma. Three days before his birthday. Four days before Christmas. Six days before my birthday. And remaining in a coma through the whole stretch and beyond. And then, despite the doctor’s hope for his full recovery, dying. And before and after that, more utterly unanticipated, massive losses. What do we hang on to then? Not a lot. Hopefully, we simply manage to crawl through it all, and eventually come out the other side, able to stand again. I’ve done that, and now there are the anniversaries. So when a friend asked for a commitment this Christmas, I spoke truthfully again, and said, “I’m aware I’m about to go through a whole series of anniversaries of painful events. I’m actually going to just let myself be, to just flow, so that whatever comes up in me has room to live, to be felt, to resolve.” Yes. This is what is true for me -the need for that room.
3. Access child care. I’m going to ask family and friends for two weekends a month for the next while. In that time, I will write, rest, get a massage, draw, paint, immerse in adult conversations that go on uninterrupted for hours and hours and hours, and -wait for this wild dream- immerse in a church service with zero distractions. I’m not even religious but, oddly enough, I go to church almost every Sunday. And I itch to go to it and just be able to drop all the way in. Because those things heal me.
4. Ask for help with GAPS Guide. I’m going to ask YOU! If it’s not a fit -because you need to do a bunch of #3 yourself- no worries. And if it is, awesome! (Watch for those invitations.)
5. Write whatever comes up for me. This will be a shift from this blog’s previous focus of GAPS-specific tips. It won’t be wildly random stuff, but it will cover the much wider concept of “healing in general”. I like talking with you guys about this stuff. And most of us hanging out here have a LOT in common. I’m going to trust that the less-GAPSy stuff might resonate with you, too. I believe that the more aspects of life and recovery we talk about, the more healing we all find -whether that’s from an imbalance of gut flora or from an imbalance in anything else: like three hours spent completing a form to get one hour of support service, or being asked to “finish grieving within the year”.
What will the reality of all of this look like? I’m not sure yet. I’m just going to let it flow because that, my dear friends, is my whole point 🙂
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