Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Christmas In November; About Hopelessness, Hope, and Choice.

Most mornings I wake up from nightmares into stunning actuality. I look around at the beautiful room constructed by my husband as my heart pounds because it hasn't quite caught up to reality yet, and I take a deep breath as my eyes adjust. As I rekindle consciousness, my heart fills with gratitude that my life isn't the other way around...where I have to escape into dreams to find reprieve. Instead I simply have to wake.

Minus health issues and various life complications I know I am privileged, even though we each have struggles and blessings. Lately, I have had to search a little more for the positive, which perhaps makes it all the more stunning when found. "Freedom is what we do with what's been done to us."- John Paul Sartre.

For a few weeks to months, due to various complications of personal nature in our lives, including some alarming health issues, I began to feel hopeless and helpless. Globally, in current context, if we are paying even a bit of attention or are sensitive souls, we are perhaps all feeling bits of helpless hopelessness. That energy bleeds into our daily lives. The personal blends context into the bigger picture, and I have had to remind myself that what I choose, my freedom in daily living, matters. Often it feels like just when I begin to get my life together, the pain comes again. It's like one of my favourite Dolly Parton songs from my childhood, ***"Here you Come Again," except I am substituting a circumstance for a person into the peppy, feel good tune. Miranda Lambert crooned in one of her new mellow songs, ****"This moment is heavy. For me I am not ready....forgive me I'm finding my ways...well my body is present. My heart is absent. And my mind is racing. My feet are pacing. It's your tail your chasing. It's the past I'm erasing. And your heart can't be tested- when it ain't well rested. My gears are's a matter of timing. I guess nothing ain't surviving... And your heart can't be tested when it ain't well rested." In short, my heart ain't well rested.

I knew I needed a jump start. I spent weeks fluctuating between marking myself dead, and fighting to live. With my symptoms I feel 80 or death like every day. It's NOT normal for someone my age and I have a tough time convincing practical minds (when it's not staring convincingly on an ultrasound or blood test which luckily I have had to back me up) that it's not drama but my reality, despite the face of energy I put out when I can. I was brought up to mask. I prepared my budget for imminent death and made sure that I validated my children with constant words of affirmation for them to remember. Leaving my future self in the hands of institutions I don't trust made the whole situation more complicated. And then, on one of the days when I just wanted to bury myself in blankets and cocoon myself in safety, I asked my husband if we could bring out the kids' christmas presents.

It was one of the best decisions we have made this year. The entire morning leading up to our mini early christmas I was sick. The pain almost took me to the hospital, but what could they actually do for me there? Experience has suggested nine times out of ten they make my life worse. So I rode the pain out and around 2:00 I knew I was improving enough to concentrate on life again. I threw on a red blouse over my PJs and put on some eyeliner.  (The other pics featured in this post with my Christmas Sweater are from decorating my mom's tree a week earlier- another beauty moment.) I made my case to my hubby for Christmas in November around noon. We madly cleaned our home, our children motivated by possible gifts (although they took a surprising bit of convincing), and put on every christmas light. Both our trees were lit up. I went to my parents for a lovely lunch and came home to a dreamland which my hubby created while I was gone.

This year my husband had worked an extra few days in the summer so we could order our children unusually large gifts. Normally on Christmas, because they still have my grandparents and parents to spoil them plus a myriad of other people who love to shower them with love, we only gift them with something small ( under 40 dollars or so each.) We prefer to share the love with those whom have less in general and our children have a lot. We had two years where we defied this rule. This year, because of all the pain involved with it and consistent tragedy after tragedy, we decided it was time to spoil our own. To spend money on the children we have in our home, even if they do have a lot, and to make it a fun, seize the moment life.

I was excited about these gifts but slightly nervous I wouldn't be able to see them open them. Yes, part of me thought I would die before Christmas. And I guess none of us really know when anyway, but I was feeling so crappy every day that each morning I was ( and am still) surprised I wake up. I think, "Oh wow, another day...I lived." Then that thought is followed by, "Oh shoot, I have to find the energy to live today and somehow drag myself through my beautiful life." Which I am grateful for deep down but it's also exhausting. My grandpa was hospitalized for possible heart surgery and just in case, I didn't want our christmas affected by one more possible tragedy. So this was the context to which I asked for Christmas in November. I am lucky because I have the option. My children will still get mounds of gifts on Christmas. I don't have to worry that opening now will give them nothing later. I realize my privilege and it is immense.

Walking into my Wonderlandy home, I smiled and felt a small flicker I had not recognized in months. It was hope. The kids shut themselves into my daughter's room while we arranged the gifts in the library. I set up the video camera so that my husband and I could simply be in the moment but also have it recorded for posterity sake. I realize we over record moments in this age, but when one feels like they are on death's door and they have little kids, recording moments seems a bit more important. I want them to relive the love.

Fighting back tears at the sudden burst of unexpected joy, I called my life into the room. They came bounding in with exclamations of "Why don't you go first?" and "Should we do youngest to oldest or oldest to youngest or middle to youngest?" They all waited for each other. My husband and I felt that alone was a moment of success. We exchanged the look parents do when they are pleased and full from the life created between them. We decided on an order and the gifts were slowly opened and savoured. The siblings shared each other's excitement and lingered over gifts before they took their own turn. It was actually perfect. My husband cried because he thought of his childhood and his mom recently gone, but was also happy to have his children in front of him. Mixed emotions of pleasure and pain. I teared up when my son, who shows a LOT of emotion but generally surprise is not one of them, looked like he just won a million snow castles and could not believe it. The sound from his mouth made me laugh and choke on tears. It was hope again and it was coming from a child who ripped himself from my body eleven years ago and has created complicated beauty ever since. He gave me the most emotion because of this.

My daughter and I lingered over her gifts. I was particularly excited because even though she is a teenager, she went with her innocence and asked for an American Girl doll to join her collection. To me, this showed me that we have made the right decision by choosing to home school and slow down the pressure to be an adult. Childhood is only 1/4 of life and it should be protected and valued. I snuck a glance at her youthful yet little woman face glowing, and I felt both pain and joy. Pain that she is beautifully growing into a woman and joy for the same fact.

My youngest spouted rainbows as usual. He is a unicorn of magic when it comes to love and goodness. He is a handful, jumping from one thing to a next and in constant need of support, but the pure love he gives radiates from his being.

My small community that I share Instagram with and a couple people outside of that whom are close, didn't think we were crazy for our Christmas in November. They are used to us doing unconventional things. Plus, our trees were up before Halloween in October thus the timeline seemed about right. I received supportive comments like, "So happy to see you celebrating christmas early." or "This makes me so happy to see you happy." Love like that is priceless and I have it. I have it! I knew I had so much even when I was hopeless, which sort of compounded the hopelessness, if that makes sense? Thoughts akin to, "If I have ALL of this, and these people who love and support my Alice ways, and a beautiful wonderland haven, and a castle in my own home created by my guy, and a man whom loves me, and wonder and beauty and daily struggle inside of this bubble, should I NOT be grateful? Shouldn't I feel hope? Shouldn't I feel the beauty instead of simply seeing it?" I recognized it which made not feeling it even worse. I knew I had a choice on how I perceived my life, and I DID choose to see all of the good. But FEELING it. That has to come when it does.

Choice is freedom. But choice comes long before the feeling does at times. Choice of a moment can stir up feeling and that is important. Our choice to screw with timelines despite possible future disappointment, brought on a bunch of unexpected hope. It may not have worked that way, but the important matter was that we CHOSE it with intent.

We had the freedom to celebrate on our own timeline. It was still Christmas, even in November. My husband, the ever willing man to serve, ran to the grocery store to buy chocolate and strawberries. This MAN, this man who chose me, goes above and beyond sometimes to show his love. He is a well of love and wanting love. All he wanted was a wife who loved him and a little family and a little home. He dreamed of me from the day he could imagine family. And I dreamt of a prince like him. He has put me through hell at times, as I have put him through the fires too, but he IS my soul mate even if I do not believe in soul mates. He is THE one because on my wedding day I said he was. More than that, each day we commit again by communication and hard determination. He is the vessel that enables me to live, and I am the spirit that pushes him onward. He made fresh popcorn on the oven top and delicious home made burgers for a supper treat. Each bite was another bit of hope. Each moment slowed into eternity with an exchange in positive energy. We watched a fun movie later and we went to bed satiated.

I can not begin to explain how much I personally needed this last sunday. Our sundays do not involve church nor any other institution. We are not that type of people, but the community that we STILL have when I uploaded the pictures later that night, was better than any support I ever received in over twenty years of church going. Another choice into freedom.

Life can sometimes be done to us. Some things are out of our control. And sometimes it takes a while for our body, mind and soul to catch up. Things take time. We are not ready for freedom until we are. We aren't ready to react to what has been done to us and to take our choice back, until suddenly we are strong. Sometimes this happens in mere seconds. Other times it take different people, circumstances and events of our own making, to bring us back to hope and joy.

December is tomorrow. I have radioactive tests on monday and more bloodwork to do. There are dental appointments, counselling appointments, EMDR to try for my grieving hubby, optometrists appointments, physiotherapy weekly, and general life requirements. In that I am sure I will fluctuate back to depression and hopelessness. I know I will. But I also know this- HOPE may not be felt for months or years at times, even when we have beauty in front of us. Sometimes we simply have to hold on and keep choosing. We have to show up and sometimes we have to choose not to show up. Both serve. However, hope can be found in the strangest of places. As Dumbledore tells Harry, "“Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one remembers to turn on the light.” Sometimes hope works the same way. We have to choose to activate it. It is lingering in the shadows waiting. It's ok for hope to be sidelined while we feel what we need to feel. Hope is not for all moments. In fact, I would argue that feeling without hope, improves hope later. It makes one all the more grateful. Hopelessness in small amounts can also serve. But I would not recommend it for long.

"Now that I've worn out, I've worn out the world, I'm on my knees in fascination, Looking through the night, And the moon's never seen me before, But I'm reflecting light. I rode the pain down, Got off and looked up, Looked into your eyes, The lost open windows, All around, My dark heart lit up the skies. Now that I've worn out, I've worn out the world, I'm on my knees in fascination, Looking through the night, And the moon's never seen me before, But I'm reflecting light. Give up the ground
Under your feet, Hold on to nothing for good, Turn and run at the mean dogs Chasing you
Stand-alone and misunderstood. 
Now that I've worn out, I've worn out the world, I'm on my knees in fascination,Looking through the night, And the moon's never seen me before. But I'm reflecting light"- Songwriter Leslie Phillips sung by Sam Phillips**

We may not have the fortitude or strength for choice. But eventually there comes a time when regardless of strength, we have to choose or at least choose someone to choose for us. “It is not our abilities that show what we truly are. It is our choices.”- Dumbledore 

Christmas in November was exactly the amount of magic I needed. It brought me to hope. It was like a movie that speaks to your deepest emotions at a time when you feel nothing and suddenly you hear words set to beautiful imagery and music that shoot straight into your soul. An example would be when we went to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and I escaped into beauty. I teared up inside a suitcase with Newt because I was blown away by the 3D beauty. A tiny sliver of beautiful inspiration. Or when we went to Trolls and I sat through most of the movie thinking "Am I on drugs?!? What IS this?!?" It was trippy but there was one part when Justin Timberlake starts crooning, "You with the sad eyes....Don't be discouraged Oh I realize it's hard to take courage in a world full of people...this world makes you crazy, you have taken all you can bear." And I started crying from the combination of his compassionate voice and the sparkles of colour coming on to the darkness of the screen. I actually don't full out cry often. If I do, it usually takes movies or music to trigger me and I had no idea that a psychedelic children's film I didn't particularly enjoy would give me that moment. Or like the Gilmore Girls revival that brought home the fact that you can live in the most idealistic town possible and still have disappointment. You can live in the place of most privilege and not lead a life of beauty.* It's all about whom one chooses to be.

My hope for the world at large? That we can each recognize choice when it is ours. That we have the strength to implement choice or safe people to rely on to implement it for us. That we choose to see inspiration in big cash movies or small town charm. That we celebrate moments like Christmas in November.

*About The Gilmore Girls Arrival. Gilmore Girls is one of my favourite Tv Shows. I love the writing of Amy Sherman- Palladino in general which is why after my initial feelings I came to agree with this review the most:

 And I felt mostly the same as the article above and I did like this take on it too:
And I agree with this sentiment of overcorrecting Rory in Season 4: and my three ultimate favs? Paris, Kirk and Jess.

Song Choices: **Reflecting Light- Sam Phillips CLICK

****Well Rested- Miranda Lambert CLICK

***Here You Come Again- Dolly Parton CLICK
And a bonus: Justin Timberlake True Colours


Amy said...

Reading this and am smiling and tearing up. I love your family and love that you love so authentically to your heart's leading.On the flip side I am sad that you feel so sick everyday and feel like you could die any day. Ugh. I wish I souls help and change that fro you K! Sending you so much love, grace, light and hope. xoxoxoxooxo

Anonymous said...

This made me cry. Not sure why. I guess I can always relate. Also having a bad couple days myself so that adds to it. Love u. -C

Kmarie said...

Amy: Thank you. I am glad we met on a similar space years ago as you are an integral part of my life. these words of affirmation mean a lot and your acknowledgement of how you see us. Thank you for sending me all those beautiful attributes. Xo

C: Well that is flattering to evoke emotion in a piece and have it resonate. Always a boon for a writer I think and I deeply value your feedback in that regard. I did tear up once writing it too so it WAS written with emotion. Im sorry you have been having bad days. Please feel free to call or email if you would like to discuss more. xo. Love u 2.

S said...

Feeling very emotional after reading this. I can relate to your journey so much. Once I had also lost all my hope just like you. Something inside me was dying, each day. But in some moments, in a fraction of a second or a minute, I also felt some hope within me. As something was dying within me and withering away, something else was also growing, something unknown ...inside of me...First this unknown and unexplainable glimmer of hope stayed for a few minutes...then it went away for many days...then it returned lasted longer next went away again only to come back...this continued for many days.
When we go through a major life crisis...we are transformed without our knowledge. Transformation is taking place. Now it looks hard and hopeless but after some months, everything will look up...sometimes, we go through some unknown and mysterious processes of life, what is there at the end of the tunnel is difficult to grasp now...the mind is playing tricks and the body is giving away...
But at the end of the tunnel, there is something waiting for us...a major life lesson or a transformation of our persona or just, gratefulness....
I agree with you that sorrows and discomforts makes us more aware and more happy when we come to see happiness at enables us to love life does not make sense when difficulties are going on but later it makes us appreciate life even more...
When I was in pain , I could not see anything or feel anything properly. I could not accept my pain gracefully because my mind and body was under medical/chemical influence induced by my ill health and medicines. But when I was recovering, I could feel everything so took me months/years to fully feel alive... but I would say pain healed me and transformed me...taught me what is more important and what is not...
I am sure, you will get better each day in your journey...there is so much to absorb, learn,grow and outgrow....but at the end of it all, you will see light.

Take care,

Kmarie said...

S: I am both sorry and relieved you can relate. I always love your insights. I think with various kinds of physical decay or things that don't work how they are supposed to- there is legitimate grieving. Waiting for tests to rule out dangerous things also has a form of letting go and a different perspective on life. Chronic illness has given that to me for years but having ONE more thing to add to the complexity of my body almost threw me over. I am so so so so so tired. But you understand that. I have a lot of fight in me usually but takes a lot... Yet I am still grateful and aware.
Yes when you are overwhelmed with pain and exhaustion sometimes all you can do is deal. But the recovery time is both the worst and the moment when things often change. Like coming out of surgery. The surgery is scary and life threatening but for the person the hard part comes after...the days of pain, possible complications, being out of it, side effects, and dealing with pain....but months later- usually the person ( if it was a necessary procedure) is glad to have done it...( hopefully! ...generally...I can't think about it too much:) Anyway, thank you for your story. It is hopeful. From what I hear many other thyroid patients said the same thing- like they are on deaths door...also anaemic patients simply because the body is not keeping up and is very mixed up. Your story with your thyroid is another one to add to mine.:)
Light is here- I see it, but then it fades behind darkness waiting...and I think I am ok with it but yes, it would be nice to see the warmth a bit more regularly.
Thanks love

Ashe said...

It certainly is curious how a young person can be dragged down so horribly. But it happens. Nightmares are interesting too. If you're unable to turn into one of those lucid dreamers, I hope you'll always be able to force yourself awake to get out of it when they come. Or comically wake yourself up. I swatted myself awake once dealing with imagined arachnids and have been giggling about it since. I wish you luck with the thyroid thing too. Been there, done that, didn't like it. Maybe yours will pull itself around too, or at least you'll be given the right dosage to make everything feel normal again. But don't you go dyin' on us any time soon. Not only do them young'uns need their mammy and the Mister needs his Missus, some of us quite enjoy the purty things you repin on Pinterest. :P
(And so the emotionally challenged INTJ sends awkward heartfelt sympathies.)

Kmarie said...

Ashe: Ha ha story of my life. Although soon I wont have youth going for me... LOl that is funny. You had thyroid issue and a thyroid nodule? How did that go? I am on nothing and thus far do not think I will be given anything at least till all the tests are done which with our health care - waiting is a long time....but thank you lol...I do love Pinterest! (And of course my family goes without saying) Lol my bestie is an INTJ and I rather like the awkward lack of feeling combined with genuine care. Tis sweet:)

Kmarie said...

Also Ashe was yours thyroid or parathyroid? Mine is in the very rare parathyroid. Finding a surgeon is immensely difficult as it DOES have to come out...but I would prefer not to risk a tracheamoty...and with my ferritin levels very risky when not done right.