you’ve come a long way, baby

last week, my little sis had surgery (it was brief and she is recovering nicely) and i agreed to meet her at the hospital.  running late, i had to call before hand to send her my well-wishes and get directions to the surgery center.  as i spoke to my dad, i came to realize that it was just him and my mom there with my sister and, now that my sis was actually back in surgery, my parents were alone together in the waiting room.  and it was ok.  neither was pressuring me to get there, neither indicated a need for intercession or a buffer.  i was told all was well and to be safe getting there.

i cried as the realization of this moment washed over me.

but let me back-track just a minute, to give a greater perspective on the significance of this. my parents separated during my senior year of high school and divorced during the freshman year of college.  it was  a bitter time, full of anger and anguish and disappointment for all parties.  my parents found it hard to be around one another without incident, and we existed that way for years, my sis and i serving as buffers, nervous about moments where the two may have to be in the same space as one another.  it was a hard road, full of anxiety and pressure on my sister and i’s part to keep the peace.

but now, (NOW!), they were sitting there, in that waiting room, not best friends but not enemies.  gathered for a common purpose and not needing anyone to intercede.  they have come a long way in healing, and therefore our family has begun to heal.

a friend once told me she believes we pick the families we come into.  that before we’re born, and we’re just little speck babies out there in the universe or heaven or what have you, we pick the life we choose to enter.  i don’t know how i feel about that or if i agree with the philosophy, but it is incredibly empowering to think that we’ve chosen this life.  then i’m not the victim of the things that happened in my childhood or the events of my family.  i chose this life.

i choose this life.

at the start of 2013, i wrote this about the words i wanted my year to focus on, and so many of them have played a vital role in my year.  in preparing for 2014, tho, that phrase above–i choose this life–keeps coming to mind.

i choose the changes i’m making, the direction i want to go.  i choose my health.  i choose to love.  i choose to cherish the humans i’ve been entrusted to care for.  i choose to go into the kitchen and make a delicious, nourishing meal instead of going out for cheeseburgers (ok, i’ll choose that most of the time).

so, cheers to 2014!
“make good choices!”

the thing about family….

today has been a weird day.

i am alone in a quiet house, no other living soul but the cat as he bounds from room to room, chasing imaginary foes.  or friends.  it’s always impossible to know.

i started the day with yoga and coffee and lots of items on my to-do list.  spent the afternoon learning to make wine.  dinner with the honey.  said good-bye to him until Saturday.  read a bit, watched a bit of tv.  got an email from a family member that bothered me.  chatted with my sis about said email.  text dad about said email.

and something happened.
in a strange, round about, unexpected way, i got the response i wanted, that i’ve been hoping to receive for a very long time.

i got acknowledgment and understanding and apology.  just when i was least expecting it.

my cousin recently shared on facebook about a quirk she has that is reminiscent of her dad.  this led to us going back and forth about little things we do that not only remind us of our parents, but also our parents’ parents, etc.  i shared with her how i will say, “i just want a little taste” anytime i ask for a bite of someone else’s food, and make a smacking motion with my mouth.  this is a move my mom and grandma have made many times in life.  and i shared how i sound more and more like my mom when i sing, of the sweet memories this always brings up of singing hymns in our country church.  i always beamed with pride at how beautiful my mom’s voice is.

i carry these quirks and feel connected in such a deep way anytime i realize i’m doing them.

that’s the thing about family.

no matter the road you’ve been on, the pain, the frustration, the misunderstanding.  no matter the time in between conversations…a simple text can make things better.  a quirk can connect you back to those you love, those you want to never forget.  you can forgive in an instant because your love and desire for approval can overshadow even the greatest offenses.

you can speak your truth and hope that someday healing will come.  you can hold the candle high that someday your children will be sharing the quirks they have in common with you.  they will smile knowing you are never far away.

3 days to 30

well, technically, 2 days, 9 hours and some change.

that’s right.  on June 1st, 1983 at 8:16am, i entered this world.  presumably kicking and screaming and flailing and half scared to be out, and half exhilarated to finally be free.  that’s how my life has played out anyway, so i have no reason to doubt it started right at the beginning.

30 is an interesting milestone to be approaching.  about 6 months ago, i mentioned it to a co-worker and he suggested celebrating with “30 days of 30.”  it was a simple concept with a beautiful theme: find a way, every for the 30 days leading up to my 30th, to celebrate/reflect/enjoy life.  essentially make every day a party.  and my birthday would be the 30th day, the biggest celebration of all.

well, the first of May rolled around, which was to be the eve of this great celebration.  suddenly i was panicking.  i had not planned out my 30 days and somehow they snuck up on me.  i scrambled, decided to play it cool, scrambled again, battled with myself on the whole matter, decided to quit the idea and then committed again.  this went on for awhile.

then the 2nd came.  and the 3rd.  and life continued to roll along.  and as i shared dinner parties and bonfires, spring cleaning and weekends away for work, i came to realize something very valuable: i lead a rich and beautiful, albeit challenging and stressful at times, kind of life.  i didn’t need a gimmicky birthday tactic to be reminded of that.

30 is still a monumental type of birthday, tho.  and i don’t approach it lightly.  in fact, i’ve been thinking about it for the last couple of years, what it means to be approaching the end of my 2o’s.

truth be told, my 20’s have been rough.

i graduated college with an english degree and still no greater idea of who i was than when i started.  i worked various odd (i mean really strange) jobs, including but not limited to: debt collections officer, dental assistant, admissions counselor, pizza-making specialist, barista extraordinaire, executive assistant, public relations officer, and so on.  more recently, i’m specializing in the world of wine.

i’ve dated and dumped, dated and been dumped.  i followed one such love affair to Arizona.  i gave away all my possessions to move (except for a trunk full of beloved books) and had nothing when i moved back.  i gave my heart away and had it returned in pieces.  and then i fell for the love of my life.

i found friends that became family, and began to understand what it meant to love someone for who they are; not who i wanted them to be.

i made mistake upon costly mistake.  quit jobs possibly before i should and took jobs i definitely shouldn’t have.  i settled.  and i rose above.

and most of all, i discovered something invaluable: myself.

i came face to face with my faults, admitting i struggle with rejection from others and, more importantly, myself.  i can easily hurt people with my opinions and ideas if i’m not careful.  i am opinionated and willful and stubborn.

i realized just what i have to offer: an articulate voice, a creative prospective, a helping hand, a passion for natural health.  a loving touch, an understanding ear.  a passion and drive that fuels success.

i found yoga and a desire, not just to lose weight, but to love myself well.  to care for and accept my body as it is (ok, i’m still struggling with this one…but the journey continues).

as i washed the dishes this afternoon, i realized that one of my greatest fears when practicing yoga was that i was never really improving.  yogis call it a “practice” for a reason: you accept where you are with grace, but continually push forward to improve.  change is so slow, almost imperceptible, but still present.

i see how this fear has played out into the bigger picture of my life.  change has been so slow at times it was almost imperceptive.  as i turn 30, though, it is evident how this journey of my life has seen great growth and healing and a movement toward wholeness.  reflecting over my 20’s, and comparing where i was this time last year or the year before or 6 years before that, i see a different person staring back at me in the mirror.

for this, i am grateful.

live is a beautiful (and hopefully long!) journey.  as i wave a farewell to my 20’s, and toast in my 30’s, i will remember that truth.

and let it guide me forward.

Christmas past.

whenever i get gloomy about the state of the world,
I pull out this:

big table 10

i think of this day.
this day, just over 2 years ago.
this day, when i slid on a patch of ice on the interstate and travelled across three lanes into the guard rail.
this day, when i came home shaken and scared and was promptly offered a shot of whiskey and warm spot at the table.
this day when, after Christmas shopping with Kel, we had the brilliant idea to buy everyone “Christmas pajamas” and have our “family photos” taken.

this day, and so many like it, when i felt i had a home with these dear friends.

just another manic monday.

actually, it’s quite the opposite here.

the house is quiet, except the low hum of 90’s punk rock coming from B.’s computer as he works an editing project.

the dishes are done except for a couple mugs filled with “sleepybear tea,” as B. calls it.

my feet are tucked up under B. and i am warm and cozy, reading a book.

then a text from a friend, asking randomly, “were you attracted to B. before you started dating him?”  the question strikes me as funny, and i want to answer, “yes, and no.  and yes.  and definitely no.”  i look at B., intensely focused on his work, and have to smile at the journey we’ve had so far.

we became friends, or at least met, one day at the coffee shop, shortly after he’d returned from a visit to Spain.  he was sharing pictures with my coworker and i casually interjected myself into the conversation.  that was the beginning for him, but not for me.  for me, it would be still be many moons before i fell for this man.

we continued to meet occasionally here and there, seeing each other at the coffee shop and neighborhood events.  occasionally i would invite him to a backyard bonfire, and he would bring me a coffee and pastry to share during late nights at the gallery.  he was a good friend.

but that’s all i would let it be.  even when my sis insisted i date him (“B.’s a good guy!” she would argue), i shook my head.  “no, no, no.  he’s just a friend.”

(cue a little Biz Markie…. “so you say he’s just a friend.”)

ok, enough of that….

what happened on that evening in July i can only describe as divine, for it was like a cloud had been lifted.  a veil had been pulled back from the windows of my eyes.

B. text to ask if i wanted to play tennis.  it was the first night in over a month where the heat subsided a bit, and a light breeze was blowing.  he was serving, calling the scores in a British accent as he enjoyed doing, and a thought went through my mind.  a quiet, simple thought sailed through like a whisper on the breeze.

“i could do this for the rest of my life.”

that was the beginning of a new and different type of relationship for us, as i quickly realized my feelings ran much deeper than even i could have expected.  we began dating and found such happiness in being together.  B. used to wonder why things didn’t happen sooner, but i have to say that was divine as well.

i was in a much different place when B. and i met, and even as we continued to be friends.  the change didn’t happen, in fact, until i began to love myself.

in the spring, in the midst of a crazy relationship type situation, a friend quietly reminded me, “Christie…you don’t have to do this.  if you want to marry someone who can be a rock to you, that’s ok.”  that was the catalyst, the place where something changed.  i had not, up until that point, given myself permission to have a healthy, loving relationship.

over the following months, i resolved that i had had enough pain in this area.  if a relationship could not be loving, supportive, gracious and gentle, i wanted nothing to do with it.

then the lights came on and there was B.  this wonderful man who fit all my qualifications (and more!) and had been doing so under my nose for nearly a year.

was i attracted?  yes, i must have been, though i never knew it or understood why.  regardless, things worked out in the time they should have.  and not a minute sooner (or later).

so, on this quiet Monday evening, i find myself thankful for so many things, for sharing tea and stories about the weather.  for little kisses here and there.  for playing fetch with the cat.  for love and this special place in the journey we find ourselves, as our story continues to evolve.

journey toward healing.

(this one’s for Mindy)

hello, my name is Christie.  i’m a co-dependent.

in college, i remember doing a presentation for my first upper-level English class.  we were to present our argument for the themes we found in the plays we were assigned.  i read, i explored commentary, i prepped out the wa-zoo.  in the end, my part of the speaking lasted a long less than it was supposed to, but i did an excellent job answering my classmate’s questions.

that’s how i feel about writing this blog post.

it’s been weeks, months even, and although i’ve had nearly a dozen topics i’d like to write about, for some reason i’ve shied away from actually putting finger to keyboard.  i didn’t think i had much to actually say until a dear friend asked a question this morning during our run, and i found myself going on for nearly 2 miles with my answer.

so, here i am, making the jump and realizing that if i begin anywhere, it would likely have to start with the confession above.  every week, if i’m able, i sit cross-legged in a circle with a bunch of “brave comrades”–alcoholics, those affected by alcoholics, and addicts of every kind.  each week, we introduce ourselves, and work toward some kind of healing by sharing our stories and words of hope and encouragement with one another.

then it’s on the mat for some downward dog and sun salutations.  that’s right, we have a meeting based on the 12-steps then do an hour of yoga together.

i’ve never experienced anything so healing.

listening to this group of people speak so openly about their issues, to hear them share their stories of recovery and failure and success with boldness and, most importantly, without shame….i found what i had always longed to find in the church: a place i could be myself.

“co-dependency” never meant much to me, until i realized i was one.  so many have asked what that means, and i can only speak from my perspective, though there are a whole host of characteristics.  for me, being a co-dependent means i frequently overextend myself for others, don’t often know where i end and others begin, tend to find my identity in my relationships, and struggle to take care of myself.

owning my co-dependency has definitely been it’s own kind of struggle; i even choked up a bit the first time i introduced myself to the group.

because our group is a sister to the 12-step meetings alcoholics/narcotics anonymous follow, there is a lot of bleed-over in terms of advice and, most importantly slogans.  two of these slogans are: “hit the pause button” and “if it’s hysterical, it’s historical.”  these two phrases have become incredibly important to me, especially in my current relationship.  when i find myself about to react in my old ways–misunderstand, shut-down emotionally, etc.–i hear the new voices say “hit the pause button.”  in other words, take a breath.  stop thinking.  remove yourself from the situation, if necessary.  breathe again.  and again.  and again.  until you’ve calmed down and figured out what’s happening.

the second slogan, “if it’s hysterical, it’s historical,” is a great way of remembering that our pasts have a way of causing irrational responses in our current days.  when we were little people, things happened to us that caused wounds.  this is the same for most childhoods, no matter how healthy the situation.  as little people, tho, we did not have the rationality to accurately understand what was happening.

as adults, we constantly encounter situations that touch those old wounds and, instead of admitting it hurts, we get “hysterical”–crying, yelling, etc.  it’s important to remember that the present situation is usually not the true cause for our reaction, and that we must dig deep to find that old spot that needs healing.

although seemingly small things, i am so thankful that these little tools help me in my relationship with B. already, i have had to employ them to keep from perpetuating the cycles started with my grandparents and beyond.  cycles of bitter argument followed by withholding of affection and other forms of harsh treatment.  i desire, more than anything, to learn to love, first myself and then those around me in gentle, nurturing ways.

hello, i’m christie, and i’m healing.  one day at a time.

Image

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(this blog brought to you from a quiet hospital room at St. Vincent’s)

my grandma called the hospital room this evening to check on my dad.  she lives in El Salvador and, after wondering why she hadn’t heard an update from anyone, decided to call the room and check on him.  my sister and i, second only to my stepmom, have been by his side for hours and hours so i was able to give her all the info we know: we know nothing.

yes, they’ve drawn blood, done scans, had pow-wow’s with the doctors and nurses.  yes, he’s been in the care of two hospitals now for 3 days.  yes, they changed meds.  yes, he’s resting now.

but no, we still don’t know anything.

she said she wished she could be here and that she was praying, and we got off the phone.  as we were hanging up, it struck me how different things get as you grow older.  for a span of time, you immediately call your parents in the event of an emergency.  you want them close, want the strong comfort of your father’s presence, crave the almost overbearing attention of your mom.  over time, your siblings get pulled into the fold.  then comes the day when it’s your spouse that gets the call, and eventually your children.

the distribution of responsibility shifts onto the next generation.

it strange, sometimes, to think of myself as the adult worthy of being an “emergency contact” for my parents when i still feel like i need so much from them, when i still feel quite like a child at times.