Saturday, April 22, 2017

Surviving Year Two: Week 37

Healing My Body/My Heart/My Mind/My Soul

This is Week 37 of my Surviving Year Two Grief Project. Details about all my Grief Projects, as well as Grief Resources can be found here.

I have been working through some newly resurfaced body shame, that feels connected to my Grief. I have been doing a lot of body healing (including lots of doctor and chiropractor visits) which has forced me to be present in my body in a way that has always been scary to me, despite being a weightlifter for 11 years.

I always find it fascinating that when we start to consciously focus on an aspect of healing, transformation almost immediately starts happening, whether we are "doing" something about it or not. It's as if just clearly making the intention and bringing our focus to that aspect of healing changes the energetic vibration — like just having the intention re-calibrates things to prepare for the deeper healing work to come.

I was finally able to see a Sports Medicine Doctor about my injured shoulder and was officially diagnosed with an impingement in my subscapularis muscle with some focused bursitis. Now that my Chiropractor knows what is going on in there, she is doing some focused therapy and it's already helping my shoulder pain tremendously. Because I have Kaiser, it took OVER A YEAR before they would let me see a Specialist, but my rage at the dysfunction of the Kaiser system is for another time!

Clothes I Would Have Never Worked Out in Before

As I have shared previously, going to the doctor as a fat person is a brutal experience of fighting for my right to exist as the size I am (although, I'd like to say that the office of Dr. Neid, the Sports Medicine Doctor I saw at Kaiser, Santa Rosa, had absolutely no body shaming of any kind! Perhaps because he works with weightlifters and knows that athletes come in ALL shapes and sizes). When I have to fight for the rights and safety of my body, it forces me to fight for my own existence. In a time when suicide has been a very real thought in my mind, it is an interesting experience to then fight tooth and nail for my right to exist.

As I care for the healing of my body and the healing of my Grief, I have been experimenting with new clothing. Lots of ladies (and some men) wear very tight leggings to lift in at my gym. I always admired how they looked and yearned for the ease and comfort they must be feeling to be so unrestricted — both in clothing and in body shame. I have also been watching a lot of Glitter & Lazers videos and she regularly highlights cute, very form-fitting workout clothes. One of her "hauls" included leggings by Lola Getts (and FYI, they aren't paying me anything to promote them — I truly am impressed with their workout clothes). When I tried them on, they were extremely form-fitting, supportive and comfortable. I knew I had to lift in them, but I was panicked by showing that much of my body in the gym. I was so used to hiding my body in baggy sweatpants and voluminous t-shirts.

When I wore my new, tight leggings to go lift at the gym, I did see some eyebrows go up, which made me fill with body shame. But I breathed through it and let that shame go and got on with my lifting. I was then filled with so much joy and happiness at having consciously moved through that shame that my weights felt light as air. It was like my body was running on rocket fuel and champagne. It was dizzying and wonderful. In that moment, I realized that other people being uncomfortable around my body is their problem, not mine.

So now, as I move through my grief, missing my husband and the way he relished, loved and supported my body in all its forms, I am learning to love myself with the same fervor and passion. This is liberation. This is healing.

Thanks for witnessing me. See you next week.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Surviving Year Two: Week 36

The Joy in the Grief

This is Week 36 of my Surviving Year Two Grief Project. Details about all my Grief Projects, as well as Grief Resources can be found here

I've been doing a lot of healing work around FEELING all my feelings, without judgment and without stories. I find, when I can connect to the truest, deepest feelings coming through my heart and body, it almost doesn't matter if it is joy, grief, fear or anger. It's all powerful and important and essential to feel.

I remember during the first month my husband died, so many of my friends reached out to me with their own stories of loss and grief. One friend gave me the very sage advice to not let anyone speed up my grief process. He told me about when his father suddenly died and his friends were trying to tell him that "everything happens for a reason" and he should just "let his father go." He finally got really angry and said, "Just let me enjoy my father's death!" When I tell this story, people often either get it, or they don't. I get it, now more than ever. I want to deeply feel all my feelings, including my grief around the loss of my beloved husband. There is a richness and depth in true feelings — something that can actually really be relished and enjoyed, as opposed to siphoning off the feeling because it seems too scary or threatening to feel.

Honestly, it's hard to write and talk about, because it is so body and heart-centered. It is not in the realm of the intellect or the mind. I think a similar modality might be Eckhart Tolle's concept of The Power of Now. Be here now. Feel everything. Don't be afraid. We are held and loved in every moment, even the painful and scary ones. 

Thanks for witnessing me. See you next week.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Surviving Year Two: Week 35

Body Shame

This is Week 35 of my Surviving Year Two Grief Project. Details about all my Grief Projects, as well as Grief Resources can be found here.

I actually had a completely different post all ready to go yesterday and I couldn't press "Publish" on it. It felt dishonest. Not that my writing wasn't true and authentic (I always strive for that), but more that there was something much bigger that was present in my grief process and I wasn't acknowledging it, because I was too scared to. So I deleted my original post and took some photos related to how I'm currently feeling this week.

I don't weigh myself at home, because I learned a really long time ago that the numbers on a scale don't have a lot of meaning and yet carry tremendous power over my happiness. However, when I go to the doctor, I do get weighed and that happened this week. The last time I was weighed, it was about a year ago and I was fresh in my grief. I had stopped eating and therefore had lost 20 lbs. I actually have a post all about that day and how traumatic it was for me to be "congratulated" on my grief weight loss.

Body Shame II

So it's been a year since that day and guess what? I have gained the weight I lost in grief back, plus a bit more. So I of course get the alarmed "we need to talk about your weight" talk with my doctor. I calmly explained that a year ago, I was in deep grief and not eating. I am eating again and lifting a bit more weight at the gym. My body is trying to regulate itself. My clothes still fit, so I think my body may be redistributing itself. I might be building up muscle again. As usual, my calm explanation of how I know my body works was met with willfully deaf ears. I was threatened with being forced to take the well-known to be totally useless "wellness classes" if I didn't lose the weight by my next visit. These kinds of threats only make me never want to never return to the doctor, sacrificing my actual health maintenance to avoid the painful experience of a medical professional harassing me about something that I cannot permanently change.

While I am proud that I fought for myself in the doctor's office, I have felt the energetic repercussions of that experience all week. When normally, I often admire my body in photos or in the mirror, I have noticed that I have been falling back into some very old patterns of self-hatred. When I look at my naked body, I start to see it through the lens of our demented American culture, that sees a body like mine as something to make fun of and be disgusted by. Instead of seeing my strong, healthy, capable body, I see "too much" and the desire to shrink down into nothing overwhelms me.

Add to that, my current heartbreak and confusion around dating as a 44-year-old widow and the body shame goes through the roof. Who would want to be with a body like mine? These are old, hard, sad feelings that overwhelm me. Is this a part of grief, as well? My husband LOVED my body. He celebrated it every day. When we walked down the street, it was women with bodies like mine that turned his head. He relished my strength and my curves and my vastness. I miss seeing the look in his eyes, as he would gaze at me — a big lopsided grin on his face — like he couldn't believe how lucky he was to be with a woman like me. I miss him. I miss feeling strong and loving and appreciating my body. I'm scared I will never feel that way again. I'm scared no one will ever look at me the way my husband did.

Thanks for witnessing me. See you next week.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Surviving Year Two: Week 34

Maps of Scars

This is Week 34 of my Surviving Year Two Grief Project. Details about all my Grief Projects, as well as Grief Resources can be found here.

As I continue to get older, I think about all the life experiences that have "marked" me, both inside and out. Some of them were quite traumatic and left deep scars, and yet as I plan for my Healing Ritual on my 12-year Wedding Anniversary in May, I am realizing that those life experiences also made me who I am. My husband's sudden death is no exception. Living through that and surviving as a widow has marked me, changed me, and made me into a person I was not before. This transformation has both good and bad aspects and that is very interesting for me to think about this week.

Who am I now? Who is this Spinster Widow I have become? Who is this Solo Crafting Witch, who spends her nights cuddling furry beasts and dreaming of the past? What does her future hold?

Thank you for witnessing me. See you next week.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Surviving Year Two: Week 33

Living with Death & Embracing the Spinster
This is Week 33 of my Surviving Year Two Grief Project. Details about all my Grief Projects, as well as Grief Resources can be found here.

One year and 33 weeks. The roundness of this number sits with me today. As Spring arrives to my part of the world, I watch the new life sprout from death all around me. New flowers burst forth from the dark earth. My kitties bring in fat gophers and leave bloody trails through the house. The flowers on the altar drop their petals. Death is everywhere, all the time, and so is birth and new energies. We cannot have one without the other.

I am more solid in my "new life" as a Spinster Widow. I work. I lift weights. I make art. I call my friends on the phone and hope that some day I will have more energy to go out and do things. I don't date. I cuddle with my two kitties as much as possible. Their furry wildness helps me remember my own animal needs — my own call to the wild. I feel close to going feral myself, which in some ways is the "spinster's greatest fear" — to lose her home and have to survive in the wilderness with no tribe and family to call her own. I feel that call to the wild in the wet, foggy mornings, as I get ready to go lift weights before work. Instead of tearing off my clothes and running into the woods, I grab my coffee and my bags and drive to the gym in the dark. I am choosing to stay here, with the people but the wildness is running through my veins. I am unattached. I am untethered. I am a Spinster Widow.

Thank you for witnessing me. See you next week.