Thursday, May 21, 2015

I Have Promised Myself.

*PICTURE CAPTION: I also promised myself I would sometimes (once every few weeks) wear more make up and dress up even though it takes precious stores of energy. I promised myself when I DO feel young ish, that I will make goofy faces with my kids and be ridiculous because I CAN.*

I have promised myself, like those who are sick often do, that when I am better I will sing. I will sing because I have the lung capacity to do so without gasping for air. I will sing along with the radio, no matter if I am off key nor spectacular, because it feels like a joyful explosion of energy. That moment when I used to belt out Defying Gravity while I scrubbed the cookie bowl was pure magic. When it's taken away it feels like a loss. However, I am trying to make the most of it and enjoy the sounds and nuances of music I can not always hear when I am cranking out sound. It's a different type of joy and a usage of different senses I suppose.

I have promised myself, like those who have blood disorders can only understand, that when my blood is strong enough to be allowed to walk around the block- that I will WALK. I will take each step and be thankful that my blood and my oxygen are working together to allow my muscles to stretch and grow. I will be thankful that every step is not a danger to my heart. I will feel the pavement beneath my feet. I will walk and walk until my muscles burn pleasantly. I am trying to  learn the beauty of Being and of sitting on the couch and allowing the boredom to create imaginative moments. Pinterest is a way of creating that exerts energy with a slight click of the button. I can inspire with one click and be inspired. Technology is a balm for when I have the energy to use it. I will try to remember what the feeling of easy energy was like and have more consideration for those who are permanently restricted to feel the ease of youth, energy, and function of body.

All I want is freedom. Freedom to walk when I want to and to run. I suppose my freedom is of the mind.

I have promised myself, like those who are bedridden know, that if I ever am honoured to have full capability in my body, I will DANCE. I'm awful at it due to Dyspraxia, but I miss the moments when I could swing my kids around the room without clutching my heart or having to sit and gasp for air. I want to forget my wide eyed fears and just be.

I have promised myself that I will live in gratitude. There are moments when I take a few fast breaths that I am awed at the intricacy of living; the guiding oxygen of life that flows from one moment to the strong and natural yet so easy to be taken away...the fragile existence of being me. I sat on my deck soaking up the rays thankful that I was not quite at the point to stay in a hospital bed. I burned my face simply because I could not manage to get myself inside after five hours. The sounds of the birds, the hot sun warming my consistently cold, un-oxygenated limbs, and the fresh air were simply too beautiful to leave. I sat and simply was. I watched my husband work and tried not to feel guilty. After an hour, I felt myself surrender to my Being. I felt my heart turn to the breeze and watch the birds take flight. I realized that I can be a different sort of presence in the world. Perhaps I can not energetically move but I can be captured by the unassuming grace of movement.

I have promised myself, that in moments when I get caught up in the craziness of life, that I will remember this feeling. I miss gardening, painting, and doing. I miss the physical exertion of a chore well done. I feel lucky to have excuses to stop the treadmill of life...but it's been a few months and I am finding part of the loss tough to face. When the loss of a skill or life ability drags on for more time than expected, the changes that ensue have to be faced. I am facing them. I will wash away my negative thoughts. I am trying to find new ways of contributing to my family life and world but I have to walk through grief before I can embrace the new way of Being. I will not remain in darkness. There is hope to be found.

I have promised myself that I will not be a martyr nor a victim, but I will also not illegitimate my own struggle and hardship. To embrace either would be a disservice to those who suffer and those who live well. I am worse off than some, and much better than most of the world. Comparison is the worst sort of self abuse and I will have none of it. However, I will take the knowledge. In it I am not walking alone.

"I like living. I have sometimes been wildly,  despairingly, acutely miserable racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing."- Agatha Christie.

I have promised myself, that indeed, being alive is a grand thing in most cases, and in my case, most certainly, it is a specific oxygen depleted sort of beauty. When life is focused on oxygen, breathing and blood - it suddenly simplifies. My light is being restored as my body replenishes itself. Each day I wake I am healing. This fight in my life, is only one fight of many. While I survive, I make it my life because it is my only time to BE.

"This fight of my life is so hard, so hard, so hard but I'm gonna survive oh these are beautiful times. My heart's burning bad and its turning black but I'm learning how to be stronger."- Owl City.

* I currently have a rather serious blood depletion that has not responded as well as would like to treatment and is affecting everything. Also, A few months ago I was also diagnosed with advanced Lyme and three co- infections...which makes sense given the last decade of health issues in my life. Probably the Fibromyalgia was symptoms of Lyme. Things can only get better with knowledge of how the body is coping and where to proceed, right?:)*

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Into the Realm of Kindreds and "Best" friends/ Friendship of Women

It has been almost twelve years of close friendship. It is not my longest friendship, a few of my friends from elementary/ high school are going on twenty plus years, however, we don't have continual contact like I do with her. Our friendship is different.

Growing up I had a large handful of friends I could count on. I was lucky enough to live in a small town with a group of peers I valued and connected with. I esteem and live with gratitude for each friendship that has graced my life since my childhood.

But I want to especially honour this kindred soul of mine. I have seen our relationship on screen between Elphaba and Galinda (Broadway's Wicked), Rachel and Monica (Friends), Anne and Dianna (Anne of Green Gables), Anne and Leslie (Parks and Rec), Amy Poehler and Tina Fey (Baby Mamma)...Basically, the substance that "Beaches" was made out of is what our friendship IS.

It's a different sort of love story. A validation of Being. For almost twelve years we have spoken on almost a daily/weekly basis for hours. I only had one other relationship with this level of communication and it was for five years way back in high school. I could never sustain that level of consistency with anyone else even if I wanted to (outside of my husband and children.) I don't know why that is - it just IS.

Perhaps some of the kindredness of our souls is from our efforts in the beginning years? Our first and only fight a couple years into our relationship about our children helped us form boundaries. Our children are the same age and also best friends. Since that disagreement we decided on what we would prioritize in our relationship...ten years later and we still have not shared harsh words. We have our annoyances but we don't talk about them. We agree to just give them time and pick up when we have settled or we verbalize our concerns in considerate ways. Respect is a crucial element of our friendship. We also know how the other ticks. She is an INTJ and I am an INFJ. We are an excellent match due to our future orientated, perspective taking, introverted nature. Our foray into psychology and personality cemented our understanding.

We have many differences. Her children are in school, mine our homeschooled. She knows my passionate standpoints on this subject but she also knows that I understand, respect and even admire her decisions regarding her own kids. I know why they are in school and I support her. She knows why my children are not and she supports me. Our stances our similar regarding the earth and people in it. We both grew up VERY differently regarding religion. I was immersed in it, she did not even know who Moses was. Needless to say this made for some very enlightening and fun conversations for both of us. Funny enough, if it does ever get to stances in faith, we both know we are very similar in our priorities on this subject and neither of us are too engrained in anything to challenge the other. We simply accept.

She knew me pre Aspie diagnosis and post. She has not defined me by either, yet also strangely validated my ways of being. As we talked more she had her own self discoveries in this area. We have interchanged a few traits and helped each other become a more balanced version of our own selves.

Personality aside, I have given great thought to what makes our relationship different. There have been many times when I have felt guilt because other friendships, while amazing, could never attain what I have with her, and I know that sometimes that hidden hope is there for others. We all long for friendships that are strong, true and feel like family. She is more of my family than most of my birth family. I put her next in line after my husband and children. Her children are more than cousins. I can't duplicate that relationship with anyone else simply because it takes a lot of investment of time, explanation and communication.

The first few years of our friendship were spent with both of us explaining ourselves, our beliefs, our mindsets, and our stances. We spent hours exchanging personal information and challenging each other to see an alternative side or researching different perspectives to share with each other while NOT expecting the other to conform to anything. We know (and keep private) what decisions we each choose in certain situations. It also helps that we go through similar stages of family changes. We don't always share the same interests but our interest in human development keeps us in tune with each other. I know I will never get her to enjoy watching certain Super Hero movies or Musicals for hours...but I have converted her to a few....and she knows I will never love watching reality shows although a few of her episodes I found immensely interesting. She will never be a writer by choice, and I will never be as social or attend as many events as she does.

The biggest factor in our friendship is our openness. It took vulnerability, and loads of it, to get to this point. She knows what I say to everyone and most details of my life. She is someone to face the days with when my husband is at work. We both know we would choose our husbands and kids over each other and we are ok with that. We respect each other's space and fall into the ebb and flow of life. There are weekends we don't speak or weeks we suddenly don't talk for awhile but one of us calls and it picks up again quickly.

Early in our relationship we agreed that since we spoke every day and shared almost every interaction we had with anyone, that when we were with other people, we would split up and visit separately. We felt it was not fair to be one of those 'best' couples that rub the joy of belonging into everyone's face. Of course we present a unified presence at times, but mostly, we both know we will go over every detail of the event with each other the following day, so there is no need for us to stick like glue to the other's side. We are stable and secure in our relationship, so unless we are both feeling ill or hugely intimidated, we will spend more time visiting with others around us than with each other.

We are not hilariously funny together though we have our moments. She went to Florida for over two weeks and I forgot to hug her. I thought of it, but it seemed awkward at the time because I am the LEAST huggy person in the world, she knows that, but I felt like I should have hugged her just in case. While she was gone it felt like a piece of my world was missing. She has been gone for longer before but when it's so far away it seems more profound for some reason. We do not text nor do we keep in contact when we are having family time. When she is gone- she is gone- and I get to miss her.

I have often joked that she is my "other therapist." Just hearing her voice instantly calms me in a panic attack. I know this by experience. I can talk through any fear or concern with her, without feeling judged, and am always better for it. Many studies show - -woman friends have the potential to create a calming effect in each in a way men do not tend to experience. While I have found some women do the exact opposite, great friendships DO calm the soul.

Marilyn Monroe once said, "I'm selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes. I am out of control and at times a little hard to handle but if you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell do not deserve me at my best." The first award for this goes to my husband. He has seen my at my worst when no one has and sometimes even laughs about it. He knows more about me than anyone ever could and he still adores me which is baffling. I have a sting that comes with the power of observation. Yet he reveres who I am. Second place goes to my three children because they see it all. Being in a homeschooled environment means seeing mommy's craziness. Plus, they get to hear all my conversations with her so they know my stances as much as she does. My kids also weirdly adore me despite my little fits and outbursts. They love to tease. My daughter is the Rory to my Lorelei. My sons are my champions and cuddle cups, but my best friend takes third place and I am more than honoured a handful of people in the world love me at my best and my worst.

I may be a Hermit in many ways but I also have extremely enriching relationships inside my home and in some of the outer world. I can't explain the particular Kindred that comes with Alexandria*, but I can say that if she died, a piece of my soul would forever die too. With anyone I regard, I would feel deep grief with death, but with Alexandria it would reach a level that could almost follow up close to my husband and three children in a different non family way. I have been asked so many times what  the difference between my relationship with her and other close friends is. I tell my other friends not to count her in any comparison because she is outside of that realm and should not be the standard other friends try to achieve. It would be unfair to all involved to do so.

I do know that acceptance is one of the largest factors in our friendship. It's not just general acceptance...we know what each other is like in dire illness, we know the different changes in religion and their affects on people, we are both unafraid of hell (which is huge in respecting the other' stances without feeling fear)...we know key differences in how we both work in the world yet our fear is strangely absent with each other. Without fear, acceptance thrives and with acceptance comes understanding which creates a bond that is very tough to break.

If this type of friendship is going to happen it will be both in a natural way and with a ton of work, investment and time for both parties involved. Every person deserves one or two people in their lives, for different time periods, that will stand beside them in acceptance and understanding. I have been lucky enough (see Friendship label) to have many beautiful other Kindreds in my life. Just because it is not at the same level of belonging does not mean that their friendships are less. All wonderful friendships are simply different and awe inspiring in their own right. I hope my children one day have at least one Soulmate or Kindred who completely gets them but even if they do not, if they have even one of the relationships I had with the many amazing counterparts I have shared on my journey in life- I will be happy. Acceptance and Understanding with at least ONE- but more than that, for themselves FIRST- this is my wish for my children, friends, and for the world at large and it takes bravery. I wish self acceptance, vulnerability and bravery combined with compassion for our future generations.

*Name has been changed for privacy reasons.
Because this is her favourite show:

Saturday, May 2, 2015

A Case For Introversion. Delights of a Hermit. Maybe it's a bit of an Aspie mentality?

I LOVE being indoors. I love the outdoors too but only enough to be inspired by them and get ideas to bring them indoors. My yard is large enough to soak up the fresh air and my home is full of plants, greenery and inspiring artwork. I am a Hermit and happy with it. In fact, any personality test I get, whether the day I am born (which is the sign of the Hermit) or my INFJ type, states that I need the maximum time alone in a comfortable environment in order to thrive. Being socialized and being sociable are two completely different principles. I am not sure if this is just me or if it's part of being an Aspie...but I do know other Aspies who are not as introverted as I am. However, I am often mistaken for an Extrovert. If I feel I am helping someone or contributing to their lives, I will be a prominent fixture initially, until I am either too drained to go on or until (in most cases) I have set them up with people, books or information they need to move forward in life without me. This scares people. Perhaps I trigger abandonment issues? I try to ease out of lives without them even considering that I helped or enhanced. I find most people gently leave my life because I either mirror something they would prefer not to see so they distance from me or I slowly distance myself by setting them up with their new connections. It is so much easier on them if they feel in control. There have been a few times in my life when I have not been ready for someone to leave, but they have because life was calling them excitedly to new ideas or paths...working on letting go and boundaries helped me see that even if they are not present in my life, I am still allowed to care from the sidelines.

I love the concept of people, even darkness in them or messiness, but BEING with people on a regular or DAILY basis, even with my best intents, can eventually cause hospital trips. I can actually take on their physical or emotional issues. I love to help heal and counsel. I love to see people balanced or whole or embracing their messy humanness. This means I do not want to contribute to a sense of harm nor a feeling that they were not enough. I have no problems giving versions of truthful insight if that is what needed, but even truth is relative and I tell them only to take what feels true to them. Sometimes this is enough for them to leave me. Who wants to face their demons other than Idealists?

Many of my relationships gave me so many new perspectives on life. I find I am best long distance or for short spurts of closeness followed by long months of absence. The friends who have managed to stay in my life have some easy flow of this sort of existence. Sometimes people know what they wanted to see FROM me but never really who I am. 

I find most people prefer those like them. True colours can be ignored, corrected or misunderstood even if a person is truly giving understanding, compassion and thoughtful advice back. Very few people know who I am in all my forms. I am known for what I was to them or what role I played in their life. Nothing is wrong with relationships that work this way but I DO need time away from this and to hold close the few people in my life who actually KNOW me (my children, husband and best friend are the core. But I also have a small core beyond this intimacy with a few others that work with a little less input but not less value.) My own parents only know facets of me and in childhood it was easy to be misunderstood with Autism, sensory issues, undiagnosed Dyspraxia and my personality.  I mirror what is chosen to see. I found I can induce fear... of life with a lack of conventions and rules, of the way I genuinely live, of who I am deep down... my beliefs, my reasons for choices...most of it scares people. I used to make the error of trying to explain or expose and it was always misunderstood because of fear or a boxed mind. Thus, I took a step away from most people in boundaries not because I am anxious or depressed but because I know they probably can not handle who I am or my beliefs (people tend to prefer people who have lots of black and white ethics and belief patterns) and I no longer can handle trying to shield or explain all the time. It's one of my many weaknesses and I just am not a place in my life where I have that energy I did in my twenties to sustain that tenacity.

I know when I am anxious or depressed. I am well trained in all of the signs, as most of my sensory overload my entire life was treated mistakenly as either anxiety or depression. Plus, I have experienced legitimate depression and anxiety, and one who has gone through it KNOWS the difference. Both Depression and Anxiety need to be taken seriously and I do not minimize them. (Please see side labels for different posts on PTSD, PPD, and PMDD or Anxiety) but I do want to challenge the mentality that a happy life is lived outside the home or in social contexts and that a sign of depression is when it is not.

I am as Introverted as they come. Reading Susan Cain's book was a validation but nothing was new to me. I KNOW I do better with less people in my life or at least less physical presence of people. I prefer my friends in email, online or with visitation spurts. There are only 5 people in my life I can see constantly and those are my husband, kids and best friend. Even then, I need a break. This is not to say that I devalue people. My INFJ personality loves to heal, to counsel and to bring forth new ideas and inspiration into the world, and especially to friends that I love. I don't love them any less simply because I am fine seeing them once or twice a year with some emails in between.

My home is my haven (see Home Decor Label on side.) It's my canvas, my art, my inspiration, my sanctuary, my garden, my dream, and the place where I become simply by being. I find that when I am around too many other voices I lose sight of my purpose. I am enlightened, inspired and hope filled within my walls. I find The Source, or God or the Universe or  Energy, or whatever name you want to put on it, most tangible when I am creatively living my purpose inside my home. I home school my children because I also believe they need this environment even if a couple of them are light extroverts whom I concede to feed their need for more people by having friends in our home. I prefer most play dates at our house but we do go out also.

My newly constructed Master Bedroom:) 

None of this is unhealthy. None of these factors mean I give less to the world. None of these factors play into the types of depression I have had in the past. Depression in the past has accompanied the following factors: too many people speaking into my life, feeling out of control due to hormonal fluctuations, traumatic experiences or lack of sleep. Disclaimer: I am NOT saying that shutting oneself in a home is not a sign of depression because some extroverts or those who thrive on being alive outdoors will have this as a significant sign of depression. But for myself, I could live almost 100 percent happy in my home forever. I go outside. I love to visit my parent's, grandparent's and best friend in their cozy havens, and I love trips to nearby cities, but even these have to be spread out in moderation. This is because I get immensely drained by sensory overload, other people's energies and moods, and the world in general.

My theory is that if women were considered equal back in the day as the seers, monks, advisers to the court or whatever without being mistaken for a Witch, I would have been respected. Women who were most often the Natural healers with herbs ect, the Douala's or Midwifes, the women who spoke up or were different or had incredible insight were subject to death simply because they were women. If I was a male monk during those moments, I would have never been pushed to go beyond what I do in normal circumstances without a clinical label being slapped on it. In fact, people would have admired my seclusion. I would have been praised for my bravery to be alone. I would have been revered for the capability to be able to have such quiet. This does not mean I do not value the beauty of actively going out into community or being in nature. I take these exercises in humanity seriously enough to give of myself even when it drains me at times, or to be revived in nature when there is a change of pace needed. However, outside is full of sensory drains for an Autistic Introvert. Being with people is full of colourful energies and emotions for an INFJ/ Scorpio.***

I am often told from enlightened people who understand depths, that I can often be a mirror in short conversations. People who get frustrated with me do not understand whom they are really frustrated with: themselves. I am a mirror who shows what people want or whom they are. I absorb their energies and emotions and while with them, become what they are, while knowing where I begin and where they start. Often this is not seen or this difference is not understood. That does not make them any less. It is completely understandable. I hear that many balanced Aspies often are mirrors. My personality type is rare in all it's manifestations (including Autism) and it is not meant to be understood by most.

I never get myself confused with another person nor do I find myself EVER wanting to be someone else. I did however, make this mistake often in my twenties (wanting to be something I wasn't) and that in itself revved up anxiety and depression. I am who I am and am happy with it. Would I love to trade in some Dyspraxic traits? YES, but sometimes we have to come to 70 percent peace with our flaws. The other 30 percent is healthy anger or frustration inspiring what we can change (or blog posts to help those who also struggle!:)

There are a few closed doors from people who misused their presence in my life but it takes a lot to get me to the point to ever fully close a door. Understanding happens once individual emotions are worked through. Because I need to find the beauty in myself when most people do not see it, I will find the beauty in them when they cannot see it themselves. This way of life can hurt but it is not meant to be hurtful. It is simply allowing life to take it's course of ebb and flow. I have made the mistake of trying to explain this to ease hurt but have found it only amplifies it. I WILL be there for a smile if we bump into each other and I will eagerly hear about their lives. There is a difference between not being friends and not being present if life demands a presence. If life demands it- I will be there and I will always love.

Sometimes we need to close doors. Not because someone was bad or wrong for us but because life is asking us to take a new journey that needs alone time or a new acquaintance. Sometimes we have simply gone as far as we can go without repetitive or unchanging behaviours which can trigger unhealthy states. We can't stay stagnant without ill health. The trick is allowing this to happen without being wounded to our core. I used to feel wounded when someone moved on either physically or in spirit but now I celebrate it after the initial (and natural) sadness. They have a new journey and I was lucky to be part of theirs for awhile.

I am a happy hermit. I see the frenzy, stress and dis-ease of many who claim to love busyness or tons of people. Some extroverts genuinely do, but the rest? I think it's partially conditioned...especially if they are not content in at least 70 percent of themselves. Where do all the lessons get them? Where do the Degrees take them? The constant interactions? Where does the endless pursuit of knowledge, stability or  adventure take them? If it's for pleasure's sake partaking in life - it is all good, but if it is the driving force to what is perceived as happiness - how exactly is that working for them? I do not thrive or need the identification of busyness or participation to have value. Nor do I believe I am less compassionate or human by being more isolated. I am balanced except when I am not...and I am okay with that too. I am inspired, hopeful and part of the world we all create. I am no less because I decide to spend less time outside my home...and if there are any other fellow Hermits and their less isolated cousins, the Introverts, I want you to know that you are fine if you enjoy the content and quality of your life in quiet. You bring beauty.

I look at all the unique souls in my life I have been blessed to have different types of relationships with and my heart swells with gratitude. Relatives or nemesis who challenged me by misunderstanding or being cruel forced me to face myself in these circumstances because I could not change them, and learned how to grow in my own boundaries. I can honestly say that the amount of true wrong relationships in my entire life equals less than two hands. The rest of the people have been a variety of relationship depths that took up permanent residence in my heart. My heart is full of spots that stretch to fill if they enter back in, and comfortably fill in whenever they are not around.

I believe my life is fully lived. I adore my existence about 97 percent of each day even though I live with physical pain everyday. Most of our life has been formed by hard choices and counter cultural ways of existing which are definitely not easy but for me, they have been rewarding. We never are running to various appointments. Our kids are not in every possible sport, music lesson, extra curricular ect. We pick two extra events per year and stick with that. We have most of our days to JUST BE...which seems to be what most people want but do not think they can attain. Stepping out of the rat race is tough and comes with a few of it's own problems but our beautiful existence of reading, learning, going outside, drawing, playing casually on instruments of choice, rough and tumble creativity, maintaining and putting down roots and learning new skills is worth it for the precious time we have on this earth. My husband does not strive to crawl up any career ladder thinking it will hold the key to a more beautiful life...everything just IS...and in that BEING we find our belonging and meaning. Some have accused us of taking the easy route. In every choice it has been an intentional route that ruffles MANY feathers and causes many people to feel judged or like we are just lucky...that is not how it happens but unless one digs deep- one will never know.

I have my own set of problems and joys and I regret none of them. Envy is not something I take with me. I do take the pain of others and myself and I take doses of anger and definitely impatience, but gratitude is a gift that keeps my perspective a little more healthy. I do believe this is because of my introverted existence. I wish I could be a fully realized Hermit but in my circumstances this would not be possible. I have kids to raise and a place in society that DOES demand a bit of extroverted participation, but I like to have a certain amount of isolation because it enables me to realize higher levels of intuition, knowledge, wisdom, and truthful awareness. This also reflects soul searching and truth. The secrets of a Hermit existence would take too many posts to unlock. This is just a facet. Being a Introvert is not greater than being an Extrovert, but it is not less either as so much of our cultural authority suggests. It is simply different. A way of Being that benefits from solitude and rest.

May you find your way of Being in the world and follow it avidly without apology and with greater compassion.

These two songs are a couple of my favourites describing this way of life:)