needy human being

here’s the thing about a break-up: you don’t just “get over it.” everyone else gets that but me.

but here’s the truth, i want to get over it. i want to stop feeling vulnerable, and shattered, and sometimes good, and then emotional again. i want to move on. i want to stabilize. i want to get my shit together, to feel strong again. i don’t want to worry about someone saying or doing something really sweet or thoughtful or kind and me ending up in a puddle on the floor. i want to have energy and not feel like i need to sleep extra hours during the night (or day, let’s be honest). i want to have the money i need to get the place i need and the car i need. i want to have it all together so i never, ever, ever have to ask for help.

but i don’t/cant/won’t/haven’t….not yet.

i’m a needy human being. perhaps i always was. but i wasn’t allowed to be, or haven’t had the space to be, or, let’s just be real honest, haven’t been brave enough to be. to simply ask for what i need.

and i need a lot right now. i need safe places to take naps and be honest and cry. sometimes i need to build a fort. sometimes i need a smoke. sometimes i need money or a meal or just a ride. i need a lot. and i can’t help that. i can’t make it instantly better. i just don’t have the resources to fix it all.

i hope that will change. i foresee it changing, getting better with time.

but for now, i’m needy. and that is all.

heartbreak holiday

i’m currently sipping crown & coke, eating Thanksgiving leftovers, watching a chick flick with my sister. and i’m happy. i really am.

but there’s still that uncomfortable ache, that grapefruit-sized knot in the pit of my stomach. and i toy with the idea of texting the ex.

several years ago, when the ex and i were still just friends, i did something to hurt his feelings. we didn’t talk for several weeks. not until the night before Thanksgiving. i had decided to stay in and watch Christmas movies. i was near the end of watching Little Women when he text to see if i would wanted some extra sweet potato casserole he’d just made. he wanted to bring me a peace offering.

this year, the night before Thanksgiving involved getting out late from work, an argument with my sister, and prepping for my own sweet potato casserole.

i cried as i peeled each one.

there’s something about the holidays, the memories we wrap around the simplest of activities. the way moving forward pulls us bak and back and ties us to days we can’t get back. watching the parade reminded me of carefree Thanksgiving mornings at my grandma’s, roasting turkey of the first Thanksgiving my friends and i shared together, and peeling sweet potatoes of a sweet man who loved me before i loved him.

this holiday was beautiful, don’t get me wrong. i was pleasantly surprised to spend a quiet afternoon with my mom’s family on Thanksgiving, followed by time with my dad’s family on Friday. there was lots of good food, contagious laughter, fun crafts, youtube video-sharing.

the absence of old traditions made room for new.

which was good, it really was. but still, i miss the old.

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breaking up is hard to do….

there’s no easy way to end a 2 1/2 year relationship.

still, i woke about a week ago, the morning after a hard fight, and somehow i knew. that’s where we were heading.

the fight was nothing special, nothing more than had been fought about many times before. but, as i came soon realize, it was a symptom of bigger problems.

i met B a year before we started dating. he was a regular at the coffee shop where I served as a barista, and had just returned from a trip to Spain. he travelled alone, partying on the beaches and running with the bulls. i could tell he liked me immediately. i invited him for tea on my porch and he wooed me with coffee and conversation at the gallery where i worked. he was a friend to me, but nothing more.

it was nearly a year before my heart started to change. my dad was very ill and in the hospital, and B reached out to me, offered to take me to dinner. i knew if i went to him, i could let my guard down and be held. but still, i held out for another couple months. finally, i knew i was in all the way and told him i would like to start dating.

we did immediately.

i moved in about 5 months later and we began to explore new territory. we were entertained by playing fetch with the cat and enjoyed playing Yahtzee. we had tickle wars and told each other stories about our days. he tolerated me moving (and re-moving and re-moving) the furniture until it felt just right. and i tolerated his incessant sharing of random trivia and any other kind of special knowledge he had.

and every morning i would be greeted with a sweet “good morning beautiful.”

we went through many seasons together. seasons as a couple, and seasons of ourselves. we began to explore different facets of ourselves–he started a business and bought a duplex to renovate and eventually rent, and i made a couple different job changes, eventually daring to start exploring yoga and natural health. everynight we shared stories about our day, and everyday we grew and changed. and not always in the same ways.

still, our love grew and deepened and i found myself making concessions about my future. perhaps this was simply how relationships were; you had choices in life and every choice meant something else you willingly gave up. and i would. because i deeply loved him. and he deeply loved me. we were in foreign territory.

still, that fight a week ago began to shake things up. i spent the weekend with a sense of impending doom, that we were in the throws of breaking up. nothing was “wrong”, really, at least not overtly. we had just traveled to a friend’s wedding the weekend before and we was an incredibly helpful and giving person, encouraging me and preparing food for us and my friends, driving and lending his car. we hiked and laughed and snuggled at night. i felt truly blessed to have him by my side. but something had shifted and, while i couldn’t name any reason why, i knew we were nearing the end.

finally, i broached the subject Sunday night and the only thing i could come up with to describe what was happening was this:

“i think we’re at the end of our road together.”

i expected anger, defensiveness, arguments. instead, he nodded and all my reserves broke. the tears that had been coming for a couple days came flooding forward. he was agreeing with me. we were acknowledging that the differences were too great, that there were pieces of the puzzle that just didn’t fit. and never would. we loved each other dearly, but we were breaking up.

i saw tears well up in his eyes and he moved forward to hold me. we wept and told jokes and laughed, and wept some more. it is the strangest thing, being able to share everything with a partner, even the grief of the end.

as the week began, i made a game plan for moving out. i would get a storage unit, secure a place to stay for a bit until i could find a suitable apartment, then i would live by myself for awhile. try to rest, recouperate, begin again.

by Tuesday, my plan had me in fits and i began to wonder if we’d made the right decision, was it too late to change our minds, was i forcing something because i was scared of moving forward, and so on. i was staying at the house until i could finish moving, and when i got home he was there. he was gentle and soft, and i found myself being held by him, wondering outloud if we were doing the right thing. like the sensible partner he always was, he reminded me of the differences of our paths, the things he wanted and didn’t want, the things i desperately did.

i stayed with him that night, and the other 2 that followed. as we went to bed last night, my last in the house, he pulled me close and, to my surprise, began to cry. it was our last night together.

“how long did you spend wanting to date me,” i asked. “and how long did i spend wanting to marry you. and look at where we are.”

“i’m so sorry it didn’t work out,” was all he could reply.

these are the things i’ll miss. the little moments before we went to bed or when we woke up in the morning. the sweet, quiet moments that only the people in the relationship can know or understand. the moments that know one else is privy to, where you feel completely understood by another human being, where you feel connected beyond explanation.

i look at the pictures of our earlier todays together, the bright, fresh love in our eyes. idealistic love that hoped beyond hope that love could conquer all. and i look at the love he have now, so powerful and strong that it could set the other free.

this morning, he helped me pack up the last little bits of things and hugged me good-bye, just like we have done for the last 2 1/2 years. no, there’s no easy way to end a relationship of that length and width and depth, but there was something very special about this one. no anger, no hatred. just love, all the way up to the end.

and for that i am grateful.

“‘all you need is love” is a lie ’cause
we had enough and we still said good-bye
now we’re tired, battered fighters

and it stings when it’s nobody’s fault
’cause there’s nothing to blame at the drop of your name
it’s only the air you took, and the breath you left….
    {split screen sadness by john mayer}

layer by layer

money has been tight in these parts lately.

like, really tight.

on top of paying for yoga teacher training, i’ve been working less hours so i can actually attend class and focus on homework and not feel completely stressed out all the time.

the only thing is, my spending has stayed the same.

i’ve insisted on my daily coffee fix–a soy latte made with a delicious helping of honey. an expensive, indulgent choice. feeling the strain and stress of too much going on, i’ve stopped at the taco place or Yats or other take-out place because i just didn’t have the energy to cook. i’ve bought clothes on credit because i got a killer coupon in my email, and spent more at Target than i’ve had budgeted for 2 months.

i believe in living simply, in sacrificing “stuff” for chasing dreams, in doing without so you can pursue a higher calling. i just don’t believe enough to actually do it.

a couple weeks ago, i woke in the middle of the night in a panic. i decided to try meditating and calming my breath to see if this would help (sometimes i am able to feel relaxed enough after meditation to go back to sleep). it didn’t. i was still wide awake. so i reached for our yoga homework and began to read about suffering.

her general argument was simple: most of our suffering is not born of the circumstances around us. that is pain, yes, but suffering results from our own attachment to the circumstance. slowly, but surely, the lights began to go on upstairs and i began to realize, without judgment, that i am the author of my own suffering. at least in the area of money. if i do not have enough, it is not because i am the victim of not being paid enough or of my poor decision making re: student loans, but because i spend more than i make. plain and simple. i am unwilling to deny myself pleasure to take care of business.

a couple weeks ago, one of our instructors for teacher training mentioned that regular, steady practice helps bring behavioral and thought patterns to the surface. only by encountering ourselves in a similar situation, over and over again, do you begin to see what we so often try to hide behind busyness and noise.

so, here i am in one of the most stable places in my life–great relationship, living in the same place for nearly 2 years, same job for almost a year. and these money issues are surfacing clear and bright. for so long i’ve believed that money was only an issue when i wasn’t making as much. on more than one occasion in the past, i’ve gotten tangled up in money issues, quit everything i was doing, and took on a more “responsible” job to help heal the finances. once they were in better shape, i considered myself better.

but the truth is, the problems were always there, i just had more money (therefore, more margin). but the problems were always there.

the new challenge is to continue ignoring the issue or accept the invitation before me, the invitation to learn from this challenge. the invitation to accept my limitations, embrace them, find a way to let them go and try on new patterns of behavior. and so, layer by layer, i come to see myself in a much clearer light.

Yoga Teacher Training Week 1: An invitation to a spiritual life

Whether we seek something called spirituality, holiness, or enlightenment, the route to it is through our humanness, complete with our strengths AND our weaknesses, our successes AND our failures. You might say that we use ourselves to discover ourselves.
  -Judith Lasater

About 3 years ago, I walked out of and away from the Christian church. I had a very clear directive from above: to let go, follow my own inner wisdom and be free. It was as if chains had been cut and I could not only walk in freedom, I felt like I was flying. I no longer felt suppressed or oppressed, or any of the other “pressed”s. I stopped worrying about what god or christians thought of me and my decisions and started living, actually living, my own life.

Ever since I was a child, I was a devout student of Christianity. I knew the stories backwards and forwards, could quote the Bible at a turn, wondered and sought and journaled about the divine, specifically in the form of Jesus, and gobbled up spiritual books like candy. I knew how the writings of Merton differed from those of St. Augustine, and why Anne Lamott was such a revolutionary. I enjoyed my time of study and seeking, but when I left the church, I left that all behind.

I was burned out, exhausted, emotionally/spiritually bankrupt and I just needed a sincere space to rest and just BE.

Still, even as I wrestled with my anger toward the church and my frustration with spirituality as I had known it, I found that the only and rare times I was able to pray was during my practice. I didn’t often know who I was directing my prayers with as God had become a faceless, distant character. And my prayers didn’t look like they once had-instead of large questions and appeals they became statements. Instead of asking for peace for myself or someone I loved, I simply repeated the statement over and over as I moved through the poses and movements. Somewhere, deep down, I knew I would need to nurture my spiritual self but could only find myself capable of doing that when practicing yoga.

Prior to leaving the church, I engaged in a 9-month spiritual journey through my church in which I’d done a lot of deconstructing. We dug deep into the structure of all we’d been taught to believe about being “Christians” and examined the very fabric of our creations. All that deconstruction, I know, eventually set me free from the constructs I had been operating in.

As yoga teacher training approached, I began to sense the time had come to rebuild.

Our first gathering/class time was last Tuesday and one of the first questions we had to answer was, “Which area of your life do you sense is needing the most attention at this time: Intellectual, Social, Emotional, Physical and/or Spiritual.”

Ding ding ding. I’ll take Spiritual for $200, Alex.

There is something about standing on this precipice. Having avoided it for nearly 3 years, and having been hurt and wounded by “spiritual” people for the nearly 25 years prior to that, I’ve been hesitant to proceed. It is as if I’ve been standing on the edge of cliff, knowing I’ll have to eventually take the leap, and all I can utter is “fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck.”

Then I open my homework assignment and start reading “Living Your Yoga” by Judith Lasater, and chapter one is titled “Spiritual Seeking.”

Shit.

How did I get here? How did this once curious, open-hearted child get so jaded and scared? How do I open my heart to the vastness of all that is beyond? How do I allow myself the possibility of experiencing spirituality beyond the confines of religion, and namely Christianity? 

These have been my true Week 1 Homework Questions, and I have a feeling I will spend the next 20 weeks (and the many years after) trying to answer them.

 

 

a lesson in detoxing

as i mentioned in my last post, i just completed a five-day detox. that means that for the last five days, i’ve moved very intentionally when it came to food. i woke up early to prepare my meals, had a list of nourishing options at my disposal, knew what my day would consist of and stayed within those boundaries.

i chose a hybrid of detox options from sources i trust and came up with this:

day 1 & 5: raw food. banana, avocado, juice, etc. no caffeine, sugar, wheat, meat, etc.

day 2-4: Ayurvedic detox soup (mung beans with lots of delicious spices–cumin, turmeric, fresh ginger, etc.) + sautéed greens for each meal. detox tea, also with lots of yummy spices to sip through the day. fresh juice. no caffeine, sugar, wheat, meat, etc.

i felt amazing.
my head felt clear, my yoga practice focused, my body light and manageable. and not once, not one single time did i feel starved. i ate when i felt hungry, and stopped when feel. i felt nourished and generally content.

an equally important part of a detoxing period is rest and reflection. rest, so the body can use that energy to work on detoxing the cells. and reflection to discover ways in which we perpetuate the build-up of toxins in our systems.

it’s true that some toxification we have no direct control over–air quality, car exhaust, secondhand smoke, etc. but a good deal of it comes from our personal choices, what we put into our bodies. namely, food and drinks and smoking. rest and reflection gives us the space to seek those out.

a few things arose during my rest and reflection over the last few days. of course, the temptation to do too much, as i mentioned in my post a couple days back. here are a couple more:

1. i rarely put my needs first.
this can manifest in a variety of ways, from allowing someone to repeatedly take advantage of my time to not using the bathroom until all my work is done. food and nutrition, of course, take a hit as i put work before lunch or helping a friend before planning a meal.

2. i overdose daily on electronics.
from when i wake up to when i go to bed, i have my finger on some piece of technology, scrolling Facebook, checking email (writing blogs! ha). i can’t disconnect, and have to admit my bigger problem is detaching from other’s opinions.

3. i have a distorted view of what it means to care for my body.

this is the big one, and actually didn’t come up until i was done with the detox. in the past, any time i’ve fasted or detoxed (whether for health or spiritual reasons) I’ve sustained myself on the vision of what i would eat/drink/consume once the fast was up. i made promises to myself of large lattes from Starbucks and 3 egg omelets w/ bacon and some more.

so, when my sis invited my to dinner at a fav restaurant on the night of my 5th day, i decided i’d been a good enough girl and would make that meal my re-entry into the world. no huge indulgences, no alcohol or anything like that, but i would order a dinner and enjoy it so much.

or so i thought.

i ordered fish & chips and, compared to the wildly seasoned meals i’d been having, it was quite bland. i felt neither satisfied nor content and didn’t finish the meal. in fact, i felt let down. the meal i’d been looking forward to wasn’t adding up.

a latte will help, i thought, and began to dream of the coffee and honey i’d forgone during my detox.

i woke up late, ran out the door without breakfast, and raced to coffee shop for a honey, soy latte. it felt delicious at first, soul-warming and grounding. but without any food to absorb the espresso, my system quickly went haywire. and now i sit, just after the lunch hour, feeling fidgety, shaky, hungry and irritated. where is the peace i experienced during my fast? where is the contentment?

i sacrificed them at the altar of desire.

and that is my greatest lesson from this detox session. i sacrifice myself often at the alter of desire, avoidance, laziness, etc. i gladly change in my self to feel temporary satisfaction.

they say admitting you have a problem is the first step. here’s to the beginning of a long journey!

doing too much

the summer between my sophomore and junior years of college, i dedicated my summer to working in West Oakland, CA in a neighborhood called “Lower Bottom” (birthplace of the Black Panthers). it was there that i had one of the first profound prophecies over my life.

not from a shaman, yogi, guru, pastor or priest.

no, these words were simple and to the point and came from the mouths of the middle school girls i was charged with mentoring.

i can’t even remember who was the first to say it, but i’m confident i heard it multiple times from multiple girls. they would look at me after I said and/or did something, raise one eyebrow (which was always a sure sign they disapproved), cock their head, smoosh up their little mouths and say:

“Christie…you’re doing too much.”

of course, it would take me the greater part of a decade to understand what they were trying to say. initially, i was defensive and denied their claims. i wasn’t doing too much, i just cared, liked to help, wanted to be active, yada yada yada.

but as the years have worn on and my body has worn out, i’ve come to understand the wisdom in such simple words.

hello, I’m Christie, and i do too much.

this past week, i decided to embark on a detox. this is nothing new to my life. multiple experts in the natural health and healing circuit recommend a regular detox. detoxes relieve the digestive system of the burden of digesting food and can better focus on removing the build-up of harmful toxins from the system. there are many detoxes out there, but i chose a hybrid of raw & Ayurvedic practices. my detox started with only consuming light, raw fruits and vegetables on Tuesday to ease my body in, moved into a soup/sauteed greens option from Ayurveda on Wed-Fri, and will finish tomorrow with more raw foods to ease my body out.

along with the nutritional detox, most experts stress a mental/emotional detox as well. mine must have been ready for it because i woke from a bad dream Tuesday night, crying into the dark, tears of release. i wanted to let the days of the detox be more intentional, focused on reading the signs of my body, honoring the need to rest and nap.

Wednesday had other plans.

i knew i would need to work at the studio for about 5 hours, then head to a friend’s to clean for 2. then i planned to go see a movie by myself. except a project was overdue and sent me running around town to the printer, then miscommunication between staff meant covering the evening shift at the studio, then the POS software was giving me fits and warranted 2 calls to the help line. i got home at 9:15p and collapsed into bed.

i do too much.

this reality has been a hard one to accept. i moved from denial to anger (why CAN’T I do whatever i want?!) to bargaining (ok, if i just nap here and here, i can still do ALL THIS STUFF!) to depression and acceptance, which i find myself toeing the line as i wrestle with feeling sad at the thought of missing out and then relieved when i just allow myself to rest.

no matter the stage, though, the truth was undeniable. i began to notice a pattern of really exerting myself–accepting every offer to hang out/do coffee/grab a drink, attending every event i thought would be interesting or was invited to, etc–then crashing. it was as if i went back to the well and found it completely dry but my body/mind/spirit completely parched. and i panicked. i retreated. sometimes involuntarily.

one such event happened several years ago. a friend who lived in Chicago agreed to let me borrow her apartment when she was out of town. i packed my backpack, hopped on the MegaBus and, several city buses later, arrived in her place. a wave of exhaustion rushed over me and i laid down for a nap, that turned into bedtime, that rolled into the next day and afternoon and night. i ventured out only once for dinner. i felt sick but something told me i just needed the rest. all my grandiose plans to explore the city and journal and have adventures went out the window. my reserves were depleted and, finally being away from the voices and temptations in my own city, i could hear my body/mind/spirit crying out for a break.

this detox period has heightened those senses. today, after working/running errands all morning, i considered squeezing in a movie with Indy Film Fest (they’ll be gone tomorrow and i haven’t watched NEARLY enough, i argued with myself), before heading back to the studio to work all evening. i kept going back and forth, should I? shouldn’t I? when i sat down to eat my lunch of soup and a banana, i realized how sleepy i was. then i recalled how i woke in the middle of night and evaluated the fact that i am not consuming as many calories, and realized i would probably need a rest more than i need to battle traffic to hurry to the movie, then battle traffic to hurry back to the studio.

so i took a rest.

i would love to say it made all the difference, but i’m not sure. it did, however, leave me refreshed for my evening shift, not depending on caffeine to keep me going. for that i am grateful.

but still, what does it mean to say no? to live in balance?

this, i am still learning. living for so long suppressing the cues of my body has left me a bit out of touch. yoga helps. detoxing helps. but mostly think i will just need time and practice. practice listening. practice weighing options and disciplining myself to choose just one. practice appreciating the details of my daily life-the sun shine in thru the doorway, the way my cat contorts his body during a nap on the couch, the smile of my honey when i come home. all those things that get lost in my “fear of missing out.”

hello, my name is Christie and i am in process.