Killing Death

“You’ve given me the courage, you gave me confidence, to never be afraid of life, afraid of killing death.” -Circle II Circle

A song from one of my favorite and influential bands. This song in particular has meaning for me in a couple ways. One, meaning is related to my boyfriend, that I’ve had in mind for a while regarding my life, and the other meaning just came to me today. Recently, I got sad news that my uncle’s cancer, which he’s been fighting for months now, made its way to his brain and is slowly taking over. 😦 He was given about six months to live from what my aunt and mom told me. This is such a huge shock to the whole family. My uncle is someone who seems to be invincible; with his hard working ethics and family values at hand he appears as if nothing could ever go wrong. He was a carpenter for most of his life, then resigned to smaller jobs. Still, each one required a lot, and through it all, he gave his all. Since he was diagnosed with cancer almost a year ago, he still worked everyday to make ends meet for himself and my aunt.

With this sad news have been said, I’ve been reflecting on life and what it means to really live. Obviously, life is indeed short. You never know when your time is going to be up. It’s so easy to get caught up in life that you forget it could end. I have sworn to live my life to the fullest for quite a while now, mostly though that took place and more action when I left home and was able to be with Dave fully. I felt my life open up in incredible ways and everyday felt like a blessing rather than a curse. Or, just a day that was going to go by without anything meaningful and or exciting happening. I’m alive now. Everyday, I see the beauty of life. I see it in myself, in Dave and in the place where I’m living.

This morning, I woke up to two deer outside the window. It was wonderful to see this kind of life up close. It’s that type of thing that people tend to take for granted. “Psh, deer? Why would I care about them? See ’em every day, so what?” My attitude is swayed to the extreme opposite of that. “Wow, look at these amazing, delicate but strong creatures coming so close to the house! I want to take in their beauty of life and observe them happily. I am thankful for the deer.” There’s more to life when you can appreciate even the natural world you’re living in. In general, since getting into Buddhism more, I’ve been able to look closer at nature and really appreciate, and connect with it. Having that attitude has helped me greatly and has made me happier-  leaves me with a feeling that life is worth living, that even when you think there’s nothing good left, there’s a small (or large) beauty always around if you look close enough.

In my daily actions, I try to understand more who I am, what I do and how I affect others. Especially with Dave. We have been working hard on our relationship; we have been getting to the core of each others’ soul to unveil our true selves so that we might know each other and love each other more deeply and fully. It’s such a beautiful thing. With this type of connection, I can feel the sacredness that lives inside of us, between us. These are feelings I have come to love and appreciate beyond anything I’ve ever appreciated before. I’ve been working to expand on them and feel fully alive in that sense.

In general, I want to do more with my life. There’s a need inside of me to be more active and accomplish more so that I can feel like I’ve made a difference and an impact, both within myself and others. Dave’s life is my greatest inspiration for my life. It has been for so many years now. Ever since I met him, and got to know him- his personality first, and then his work and passions, I felt that he was someone that was truly happy and that people like that are hard to find…I wanted to live life with such vibrancy. Years passed, we separated, but still, there he was in the back of my mind and when we reconnected and got into a relationship, I saw a crack in my life that was stuck in a rut…when I moved out, I realized that I really could, finally, learn to live and experience life the way he does- completely happy while seeing the sacred and magical in everything.

I’m convinced everything happens for a reason. There’s no doubt that trouble befalls us only to teach us or bring us closer to another truth that’s not yet found. I will live. Breathe. Be close with those whose lives are further along. And I will share the wonder and joy that I perceive so that they may have a glimmer of hope in a darkening world.

Sorrow

“Once You’ve Signed On, You’ve Already Begun”

I heard these words last night, from a practical stranger. He, along with a charming young woman, convinced me I should…this will change my life, they said.

So, I put my name down, and afterwards on the car ride home I asked myself, “what the hell did I just do?”

Nothing bad. I promise. But, significant. Story time.

Once upon a time, Dave told me about this grand forum, run by a company called Landmark. It’s a worldwide organization who’s goal it is to help people through intensive, transformative learning. What I went to last night was just an intro, which was just a small spoonful of what the 3 day weekend forum is like. There, I met a large group of people who said to me that they went through the forum and their lives were changed completely. Of course I’m skeptical…actually, I was skeptical the moment Dave asked me to go to the intro. Yet, I felt that I had nothing to lose. So, what else do they do? Let me explain. All the members are highly trained to work with you to get you to have breakthroughs to the unknowns in your life; they help you see the things inside of you that you’ve never seen before. Through deep questions and motivation and a unique, what I call, “funneling” method, you take a handful of issues in your life, narrow them down and knock them out by creating a brand new possibility for yourself and your future. With this being said, I’d like to share what my intro experience was like.

Since there was no one else that was new at the meeting, I was the one and only lucky chick to go off with that aforementioned charming girl, Amanda, to a separate room where we could talk. It’s interesting because she was the first one I met when heading into the hotel to the meeting. My first thought was, “wow, she looks super nice, I like her!” Her personality was genuine and calming; she really took the time to get to know me as a person, almost as a friend, not just another potential “client” who has a bunch of problems, thinking “let’s get this over with”. She kept eye contact with me the entire time, which didn’t feel intimidating, thankfully. To me, it was a genuine, look into your soul kind of eye contact. Her deep brown eyes that glinted in the lights definitely shone with compassion. Okay, so yes, I pretty much had an instant crush on this woman. (She’s engaged to be married, so I couldn’t get too excited.) Anyway…. back to the talking. So after getting to know each other a little, we went right into a little booklet which had 6 sections in it. In section one, you filled out what did and did not work out in your life. Two, choose the most important one that wasn’t working for you. Three, say what you have, what you do and what you are being when you are in your bad situation. In four, you state what’s missing; you think of who you don’t get to be when you feel suppressed. Section five is about writing a new possibility for yourself. And lastly, you take your declaration, and write it again on the back.

I chose the current situation with my mom. And what I am missing is that I don’t feel like that I can be myself around her, (or my dad), because of them being prejudice against Dave and not giving two craps about what my life is like. The major point is that I feel guilty. They create that feeling within me…that everything is completely my fault and it always will be. Guiltlessness is what I am missing. So in the end, I stated that the new possibility I can create for myself is a life where I am myself! Completely, unbarred and unashamed. I’m not guilty and I’m loving, compassionate and caring for them unconditionally. Personally, I feel that I’ve nailed most of those. The only one that I’m struggling with now is with feeling guilty. Just the other day when my mom was telling me how unbearably down she was, I couldn’t help but to feel that I was truly the cause of her suffering. I know, deep down, that I’m not the cause of her pain, it’s within her, and she needs to be able to let it go.

2 1/2 hours was definitely not enough time to talk about all this with Amanda. We had two halves of a session, and in the second half, she spent more time explaining to me what Landmark was all about and how I can register. To be honest, I wasn’t ready to register. At all. I was planning on leaving there and then thinking about it/talking it over with Dave and then make a decision based on that. But, Amanda slid it in there very smoothly…as she was talking, she gave me the paperwork, and told me there was a little card that I could fill out that would be for registration. I said, okay…and she said just go ahead and start to fill that out…now, at this point, I wasn’t expecting to finish, and I wasn’t expecting that to be for real…yet, it was. So, I’m filling it out and she gave me the seminar dates…there was a session in May and one in June in Philly. Initially, I chose the one in June. Soon after, I mentioned how I wouldn’t be able to afford such a thing but that Dave mentioned in the past this would be a gift for me. So, she went out, got Dave, and I told him the exciting/terrifying news! He shed tears and shared many hugs with me in a brief time. After he signed the papers and agreed to pay for me, we headed out.

Once in the car, I couldn’t believe I actually did it. Dave told me story after story of how this course impacted different peoples’ lives…deeply. Intensely. His daughter, Nicole went through it, and she said she came out a different person. And she was as skeptical as myself initially. Dave said that when he took it, he got verbally violent with some of the session leaders because of the way they were coaching him. They broke through his resistance though, as they are trained to do, and in the end he learned a powerful lesson. All of this leaves me wondering what’s going to happen to me? Am I going to have the same Earth-shaking experience as these others? Is this going to be something where I see something within myself so deeply that I’ll be able to clear up the sky-high walls that’s between my family and I? If so, how in the world are they going to do it? More importantly, how in God’s creation are my parents and family going to take this…will they be open minded enough to take whatever happens to me and what I say into consideration so that we can mend??

Whew. Heavy. I’m still not ready for this. Dave has cried three times today just thinking about what it can do…he admitted that he’s actually scared for what it can do to our relationship. I’m sure it’s nothing bad, but he admitted that he wondered what it would be like if the both of us drastically changed.

Time will tell what is to come. In the meantime, I’m proud to say I’m on this better path…not only for myself, but for my family and for Dave. I’m hoping that there could be some peaceful communication all around with everyone before May.

Here’s to embarking on another big journey and continuing transformation.

Within the Deepest Love lies the Greatest of Sorrows

IMG_0962Why is there this paradox of love and pain that constantly lives and haunts? It’s not always with a significant other, for me, it has to do with my family. There’s a fissure that’s grown deep and wide, slowly breaking us apart. There’s a battle, and unfortunately, I find it in vain. There’s no need to fight, to be sad, to be torn. Yet, all of those things exist and worse yet, they are steadfast. There’s really no easy way to say this, but for me, the cold truth is that my mother has been my pain, love and sorrow for seemingly endless years now. We are light and darkness wrapped in eternal space, two souls capable of depths of love who are trapped within each others’ minds. Is there no way out? I push and she pushes me back, away. All I desperately long for is a bond, a closeness- that basic, human and animal alike maternal love that’s desired at everyone’s core. Life is fleeting, soaring everyday, like a sustained note echoing through an empty hall…it eventually fades away. My mother needs to feel life…we recently had an extremely hard talk. She’s fragile. Her mind, her heart. It’s all the most delicate glass, at the highest spire, always at risk to be broken by a strong gust of wind. She claims that her heart is broken over what I have done, that all the damage has already been done and can’t be taken away…there’s nothing or no one that can change anything. Ever.

My heart is broken over her words. Not only those, but those which suggest a more worrisome issue…her health. That’s always been fragile. Now it’s her mental health as well…she speaks of depression and just going from day to day, practically wishing she would die. There was a time once before where I heard her say things like that, and that was when she was sick in the hospital for weeks and sincerely almost did die. Before that though, she got is such a down slump, a deterioration that I had to witness day after day, and kept saying that she wouldn’t care if she just went. I don’t want that again.

I wanted to kill myself once. I know that slump. It’s the darkest place any human mind can go. I’m still in a slump…not as horrid as that…but depression is still present. Now, even more, because I feel completely helpless for my mother. I need her. She needs me. I don’t want to go on living like this until one day she really does pass away and I have to look back and think of all the time we never spent together when it was totally possible. God forbid I were to pass away before her…it’d be the same thing. She’d regret not getting her head on straight in order to live with me, her only daughter.

Okay, enough about death. Really though, this is killing me. I’ve regretted everything I’ve done to my parents. Yes, I’ve lied to them for years to attain my own happiness, and no it wasn’t right, but now it’s over. I’m never to lie to them, or anyone again. Maybe I need to apologize deeper? Write them a personal letter from the depths of my soul? I’m not sorry I left home, and I can understand how that’s hard on my mom, but no matter what, she should still hold love and concern for me. Especially at this point. I’m still the same woman that I was when I left, if not better. She needs to recognize the good in me. All that I’ve become and all that I’ve been. The bad things are always what seems sticks in life. Somehow, one big wrong or a bunch of little wrongs can outweigh 100.5 good things. My mother needs to see light and hope and understanding. She needs to quit hanging on to whatever demon that dwells within her. It’s poison.

I feel like time is running out…again…and I’m terrified. I feel I am the one responsible to save her…but no, I know that she is the one responsible for herself. Yet, she’s not willing to look within or at me. I’m wondering where to turn and what to do to change all of this so that we can have a healthy relationship. If we never get that back, there’s not much hope for happiness for either one of us.

I’m going to a small group meeting/counseling thing called Landmark on Monday to hopefully get some answers. Dave tells me that the people there are trained to help you to see something inside of yourself that you’ve never seen before. When Dave brought up going, I was in the heated conversation with my mom, so I was angry, I wanted nothing to do with this seemingly useless tactic of talking with a stranger…but now, I feel desperate, but a little more hopeful. I’m willing to try anything, and I hear that these people are not like counselors- they are actually compassionate and empathetic and dig down deep in your soul to pull something out that’s useful. What I’m yearning for is that useful…whatever it may be…insight? so that I can approach my mother in a different and productive way.

Here’s to hoping for a better future with less sorrow, more love

.

Yet Another Dream

The dreams of my mother have been frequent again. I remember when I first moved out that they were and that made sense, because I was nervous and sad…I genuinely missed her and wanted to be back home in a way. The dreams faded as I became more comfortable living with Dave. Dave and I’s life together was the main focus at the time, along with school, and then, I didn’t have any dreams about him or about our situations. So, after a lull of a few months, my mother has been on my mind again. We rarely talk. As a matter of fact, the last time that we actually spoke in a normal, kinda fun way was my graduation weekend, which was almost three months ago. Since then, it’s been hard. We’ve discussed business things…and even there, she’s cold and doesn’t reach beyond whatever the business is that we’re discussing. (Lately it’s been my insurance with them…concerning the dentist and all). The other time that she recently wrote to me, was just to flip out and again, tell me that I’m wrong and that I’m not going to learn…(regarding posting something on facebook that was directed toward my aunt…it wasn’t malicious, but it definitely was a post that I wanted to use to get her attention at the time, because, she’s another one that I can’t seem to get through to). And yes, I’ll admit that publicly putting that kind of thing out there isn’t the smartest choice…it does typically reflect poorly on someone only for the fact that everyone else can see it and will ridicule, and judge, etc. But it was something that I felt justified to do, and I did, and it’s over.

Anyway…the point is, is that my mother will only speak to me if she feels she needs to rant at me for something I did “wrong” or if there’s some kind of business to take care of. In a way, I can understand her concerns…sometimes…but the way she comes across with those things is harsh, not helpful and just plain aggravating. I end up feeling angry instead of helped. Somewhere inside of her, I know she could have the capability of talking to me like a civil human being and nicely expressing her concerns, even if they are over something stupid I’ve done. That’s typically what I’d expect a good parent to do, no matter the age of their child. It’s happened before, believe it or not…and in those moments, I feel a true connection with her, and that makes me happy, thinking that everything is in balance.

I surely do digress.

The dream: I’m standing in the middle of my living room, my parents on one side, and my aunt and uncle on the other. We all seem to be talking normally, when suddenly, I begin to yell at my mom. I unleash the things inside me that I’ve never dared to say before. I say things along the lines of, “The way you brought me up, you were always harsh, and mean, and I know that you did do a good job, but it was still hard. …You’re always so cold and rash about everything…I know that there is something deep down inside of you that you are upset/angry over and  you regret it and that’s why you can’t do anything differently.” After I finished my rant, my mom fell silent, shrunk and pulled her head down. There was an awkward pause before my aunt and uncle changed the subject quickly saying that they had to get going, they hugged me and told me that I needed to come down soon to see the new molding in the bathroom.

I woke up feeling surprisingly and strangely satisfied. I felt that I had exposed something within my mom that she knew as well as I did was true. The way she lowered her head was like how a child does when he or she gets caught red-handed slathering finger paints all over the kitchen walls. Pure shame and maybe guilt…either way, that realization that they’ve done something to upset whoever and they know it. They don’t try to deny it.

In real life…I can bet my whole future of savings that if I were to confront/expose my mother like that, she would rapidly, as always, claim me to be the “effed up one” and say, “Are you out of your goddamned mind?” “You need a psychiatrist.” Not that I would flip out on her, in reality, I would love to just ask her, kindly, nicely, to get to the root of the issue- if there was anything in her past either from childhood or her first marriage that made her feel like she had to be so adamantly in control of her life and others. And what went wrong to cause the bitterness?

That’s the obstacle that I’ve been facing for many years now. I want it to end. I want to talk, but first, she needs to be able to talk with me…things are still to stirred up from me being with Dave…I don’t think it’s a good time. I’m concerned though that that time isn’t going to come.

I guess in the meantime, I will keep on living my life the way I want to…I can’t let her and my dreams of her get in my way and let me down. When the time is right, things will change. Everything in its own time…in its right time and place. Until then, the paradox of my mother will continue to live on.

To Be a Warrior

Another dream plagued me last night. Lately, I’ve been having disturbing dreams that involve my mom. For so many years now I’ve been living, loving and suffering with her. She has been the fulcrum of the balance of my life’s struggles and happiness. Since moving out, it hasn’t gotten any easier. She’s both angry and upset. I know this. And I care. What she thinks, is that I don’t care and never have…that I just threw everything that she’s given me (mentally, intellectually) away…that I just moved on. That’s definitely not the case. What I know is that I do care, and I have cared. She’s been too blinded by her own inner conflict to see. All the blame is on me all the time. I’m the one that is at fault. Therefore, I’m the one that’s not going to make it and I’m going to regret my decisions because there is only “one right way” according to her. So much blame…so much anger…and sadness. She wants me to be near, but can’t be near enough to herself to pull me close. Instead, she holds on to the darkness inside and in result, pushes the light, (myself and others), away. I wish to be near her, too. I want it to be easy. I’d rather my mother not think of me coming and going and the hard sadness that ensues, but see me for who I am and love and embrace me, no matter what…have me come visit, and have everything be okay. It also would be nice if she could open herself up to letting me or anyone help her. Fat chance.

In my dream, I was home, and the house was dim (as in real life at times…just natural lighting) and it was just my mom and I that were home. I was at the fridge looking for something to eat…I lingered there for quite a while, and then chose to go upstairs to see my mom. When I pushed her door open, she was in the half-light of the TV, in bed, and all around were picture frames covered in bed sheets. I became terrified in that instant and asked, “Are…those…pictures of…me?” She slowly turned her head and shifted her body from under the blankets and replied, “yes”.

Thankfully, it was easy to shake this one upon awakening. Yet, it’s still saddening…it hurts to think that she may be doing that…the covering of the pictures could be a metaphor for her avoiding me and just pushing the issue away as to not be hurt or upset by it. …That’s not going to solve anything. What will is the head on confrontation of the issue…and, in the past, yes, we have talked about what I am doing and we both have expressed how we have felt, but every single time the conversation transforms into an argument, yelling. There’s no solace in that.

My mother needs to not avoid me, or hide behind her anger…there’s something deep inside that is affecting her from the past…I wish I could say what that event was that would be making her that way for so long, but I can’t. So, now, I’ve come to the point where it’s up to me to be my own warrior.

In my Zen book, there was a nice lengthy section on heroes and heroism. The main concept was that heroes and warriors were those who took up their own sword and shield and went to battle or on a quest despite the impending obstacles. Warriors have to be aggressive…but not in the conventional way of forcing violence on someone else out of anger, rather being aggressive means really pursuing what you want and going after it no matter what; it means pushing the boundaries to get through to the other side. In other words, your actions that may appear to be an act of rebellion and aggression, are actually actions moving toward peace.

That’s the path that I am on now. I have taken the call to adventure and I’m now travelling through forests of obstacles to get to the grail that I search for: my own happiness. For the most part, it’s going well. I feel accomplished, strong. I want to show the world what I am capable of…I want to show my family what I’m doing. If only they could know all the inner work that I’ve been doing. And have done. Then, maybe they’d understand who I really am. No matter how strong the warrior, you have to feel love. It’s essential. You have to give and take love in order to survive your quest. And, most of the time you will realize that what you are ultimately fighting for is that love. It’s not to be given up. I hold my love close to my heart; it’s woven within my soul, every fiber is imprinted with passion and compassion. I am the warrior of myself. I will continue to fight, stand tall, be aggressive. I have supporters who are on my side, and with them, I will fight, survive, live and thrive.