Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Back on The Couch

 Hey, I'm in counseling.


Isn't it weird?  That first session?  You're paying for it, right?  So you don't want to waste time.  There's no time for excuses or shame or explanations... you pour out your family history with the same ease you pour out your medical history to your family physician.  I had a good chuckle after my first session over that.  
My baggage just rolls right off my tongue.  Like honey.

When I am in counseling, I almost feel like I'm holding my breath... waiting to be misunderstood or triggered.  It has happened so many times on The Couch.  Maybe I don't explain myself well enough?  Maybe I'm crazy?

I don't really rest on The Couch.  I sit tensely, trying to see myself clearly, trying to get out of my own way.

This counselor and this couch have nothing to do with my marriage.  I need a counselor just FOR ME.  I need to work on the fact that I don't trust myself.  I need to work on my self-worth issues.  

As I sat in my 12-step meeting this afternoon, I took notes.  The people in my group are just really phenomenal, and I write down insights religiously.  As one sister shared, I looked into my little introspection mirror and jotted down a question, "Can I let go of my will for my marriage?"

It is a hard question for me.  That's why I haven't answered it.

I mostly want to scoot the marriage out of the scene for a while, not fuss over where it is or isn't... and just work on daily problems.
Like the shame I feel when I

leave the house in what I'm wearing/drop the kids off late/don't eat healthy/don't clean the porch off/forget something/deny something/sleep too long/breathe too long/exist.

I want to work on trusting me to not let me down.
I feel the need to really root some self-worth down deep in my creature.  My innate has it, but the shells and layers on the outside?  We need help.

I also find that learning to have a list of things to work on is tricky when you struggle with allowing mistakes... or allowing time to take it's vital place in the scheme of things.  Line upon line, all in good time, that's God's latest message to me.  Just take one thing at a time.  TIME.  

My kids were all doing yoga together the other night, and they were getting the poses ALL WRONG.  And it was the cutest thing I'd ever seen.  I loved watching their bums in the air, their crooked little warriors.  They were giggling and jumping and twisting.  
I didn't want them to get it right.  I didn't want them following a flow.  I wanted them to be exactly where they were -exactly, exactly.  They were absolute perfection to me.  Why?  I guess because I EXPECT them to not get it perfect or even right.  
I only expect them to try stuff: new stuff, scary stuff, mundane stuff, tedious stuff, exciting stuff.

Perhaps God feels this way about me, too?

Perhaps He watches me twist and fall and giggle and He smiles down at my PROGRESS.  

It is hard to believe that I can progress while sitting on a proverbial couch, but I can.  My great-great grandpa was a pioneer to this area which meant he was basically a viking man... he settled the high desert with all it's winds and ugliness.  He broke ground, a determined, unwavering man.
And you know what he said was the most productive part of this day?  The part he spent on his couch, thinking about the day and what needed most to be done.
He had a thinking couch.

I can't help but feel a kinship to him -The Pioneer Who Sat Sometimes.  I feel myself breaking ground in my own life, and the most important progress I make is on The Couch.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Why I Do Yoga

I am not athletic.
I am not graceful.
I am not flexible.

I've avoided yoga for ALL of those reasons.
Yoga, to me, seemed like this flowing, beautiful dance reserved for people with pretty wrists and breezy shirts.
I've felt a pull toward yoga for years, and I always sort of fizzled out on it.  I didn't have direction and I only found that I failed myself over and over and over.  I fell, I farted, I fizzled.
Can you relate?

Lately, the pull has been stronger.  I walked into an earthy store a few weeks ago, and the pull screamed at me.
I looked at the Himalayan Salt Crystal Lamps, the fancy yoga mats and loose, empowering shirts. I thought of the books I've been reading, how my yoga practice has shifted, shifted.
I've never been to a yoga studio.  I've done sessions with instructors now and then, in a backyard or cultural hall.

But you know what?  The most effective practice I've ever done, where I have learned the MOST have been done in my front room with ME as the instructor.  Is this because there's a potential yoga teacher hiding under my tight hips and tense shoulders, waiting to get out?
It is simply because MY best yoga instructor is my innate.  I think that's actually true for everyone.

What I've learned as I listen to my innate actually has less to do with my lack of athleticism, grace and flexibility and MORE to do with leaning into discomfort, relaxing with what is.  I'm learning patience.

I haven't been diligent about getting on the mat these days, and I need to.  In the meantime, I have found what I've learned in yoga to be helpful.  Danny took us all to see the new Star Wars movie, and this was tricky for me because
I don't like Star Wars
I usually watch old movies or animated movies

So when things started zooming and shooting and booming, my ANXIETY kicked in.  I couldn't believe it!  What a crazy irritating thing to have happen.  I wanted OUT of that theater.  My 3 year old kept saying, "Turn it off, Mom."  I felt her 100%.  I wanted to turn it off, and I thought maybe I could take the toddler to Denny's and we could escape.
Instead, I took a breath.  I relaxed my muscles.  I applied yoga.
It worked.

I find it works in lots of uncomfy places and situations.

I did a self-guided session Monday morning after some meditation and prayer and it changed the rest of my day completely.  A few days before, I was listening to some Conference Talks.  One piqued my interest.  I had to sit down and highlight.

Search Results

In it, he talks about trials.  He talks about a BIG trial -a tsunami.  And then he talks about a smaller trial: headaches.  Isn't crazy how sometimes the bigger trials are easier to accept than the smaller ones?  It's easier to say, "I miscarried.  This HURTS.  I accept the pain, the sorrow" than it is for me to say, "My body is inflammed everywhere.  This hurts.  I accept it and will live accordingly: more yoga, less sugar, more water, less time online."

He quotes a scripture:
 In Abraham, the Lord God declared, “And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them.”1

Suddenly I could see myself as the Lord of my body... I'm proving my body when I'm in yoga, to see if it will do all things whatsoever I will command it.  Yoga, for me, isn't about force or abs or will-power.  It is about GIVING UP, surrendering to a higher power.
In life, my higher power is GOD.
In yoga, the higher power is my mind.  Mind over body.  The parallel there teaches me so much about the importance of giving my will to God.

I read on in his talk and came to this:
The principle is that the God who created the heavens and the earth knows the grand design of this earth, that He has dominion over all things in the heavens and the earth, and that in order to bring to pass the plan of salvation, He provides us with many different experiences—including some trials—while we are on this earth.
And the Lord said the following to Joseph Smith:
“Know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good. …
“Therefore, hold on thy way … , for God shall be with you forever and ever.”2
The trials of this earth—including illness and death—are a part of the plan of salvation and are inevitable experiences. It is necessary for us to “hold on [our] way” and accept our trials with faith.
However, the purpose of our lives is not merely to endure trials. Heavenly Father sent His Beloved Son,Jesus Christ, as our Savior and Redeemer so we could overcome the trials we face on this earth; in other words, He makes our weak things become strong,3 He atones for our sins and our imperfections, and He makes it possible for us to obtain immortality and eternal life.
President Henry B. Eyring stated: “The test a loving God has set before us is not to see if we can endure difficulty. It is to see if we can endure it well. We pass the test by showing that we remembered Him and the commandments He gave us.”4
“Hold on thy way” is a key choice during times of trial. Turn your heart to God, especially when you face trials. Humbly obey the commandments of God. Show faith to reconcile your wishes with the will of God.

So much good! So much good going on here.
In yoga, my weak muscles become strong as a natural side-effect of my practice.  As I practice surrendering my body to my mind, my body becomes strong where it has been weak.  !!!
I love how he speaks of accepting our trials, of holding them with reverence.  In yoga, it isn't enough to FORCE our way into a pose and then tightly WILL OURSELVES TO STAY IN IT.
In yoga, our mind asks our body to sit in a very uncomfortable -but beneficial -place.  Our body finds success and growth as it endures the pose WELL -meaning as it relaxes and finds a peaceful place in the pose.

Hold on Thy Way.

I'm not doing so well today.  I'm trying to get back on the mat literally and figuratively.
So this post is me trying to inspire me.
Reminding myself why yoga needs to happen.  A friend of mine recently mentioned that we have 3 primary motivators: Truth, Value, and Control.
For so long, I did any physical exercise because I wanted to control and I placed great value in a thin, fit body.
But today I can honestly say that my practice comes from my seeking truth.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Trust -An Inside Job

I once heard a podcast from Sterling W. Sill that changed my life.  I kept streaming it, entranced by his voice.  I listened to it while I worked and walked, and now that youtube has made life so awesome, I can listen to Sterling W. Sill while I do yoga.  That, friends, is the life.

In his talk, he gives a formula for success -he says that happiness and success are "An Inside Job."  We create it from within ourselves and send it out into the world.
That which we cast upon the waters comes back to us, and all that.

I think I've told you how I buy stuff now.  This is a big deal, a big big thing.  I used to ONLY buy songs on iTunes when I had a gift card, and even then... I was terrified to use it.  What if I WASTED IT on songs that weren't worthy?
THANK GOODNESS Sterling W. Sill's podcast was free.  Mormons are always so sweet about giving their gospel away.

I buy songs now.  I mean, I really buy them.
I give them away a lot too which means I just purchased 100 CDs on Amazon and some sleeves to hold them.  I buy stuff on Amazon.
I bought stuff at the health food store last week.  For myself.

And I don't feel guilty.  I feel good, even.  There's something so exciting about the health food store, right?  It's earthy and smells all at once like coffee and powdered supplements.  There's milk IN GLASS JUGS and honey that costs $50.  I love that I can find yoga pants and homemade soap right next to an entire aisle of flours made out of everything except wheat.  If you're patient and brave, you can crank out your own peanut butter.
It's like Disneyland!
Except more expensive.
And no corn dogs.

I realized the other day that I have books I need to finish.  That means I also bought books for myself. I have a good little group of books to finish.
"Man's Search for Meaning," by Viktor Frankl
A Yoga Book by Baron Baptiste
"Let's Eat Right to Keep Fit," by Adelle Davis
"Death Comes to Pemberley," by P.D. James
"Aura Personalities" by Staci Sadler -a super fun read if you're into studying personalities which I, an avid people watcher, am.

Tonight I bought, "Intimacy Anorexia" by Doug Weiss.
Two years ago, I wasn't reading books at all because
1) They cost money and
2) They burned me.  I believed books more than God and ended up in a WORLD of trouble.

I've learned now that I just need to LISTEN to God as I read.  He lets me know what matters and what doesn't... what is true and what isn't.

These changes are all pretty cool because they're a sign of something I've been searching for: LOVE.
I've talked about this before, so sue me.  But don't stop reading.

So while I am finding a deep and abiding love for my divine self, I am also finding respect for myself as well.  I don't always respect myself, but I'm learning.  I'm progressing.

But here's my question -the one I'm sending out into the dark void I love so much: when does trust come in?
Love, respect and then trust?
Because although I buy songs on iTunes when they move me (or my booty), and although I'm taking $30 honey (couldn't spring for the $50, you know me) in my warm water, I'll be DANGED if I don't trust myself.

I trust my gut.
But do I do what I say I'm going to?
No.  No I don't.  Not usually, but sporadically.  That's hardly a formula for success, and I think Sterling W. Sill would agree with my calculations: not a formula for self-trust.

Trust has come up in my lingo a lot these days.  It's the biggest and majorest hurdle at hand in my marriage.  I so appreciate Brene Brown's video on The Anatomy of Trust because it helps me wrap some sense and wordage to what I'm feeling and struggling with.
The feelings while listening went something like: yes, yes, YES!  Okay, I'm not crazy or expecting too much.  YES!  I love this acronym... I love it.  It makes so much sense!  Boundaries, yes.  Accountability, YES!...
oh, hell.
Oh helly hell.

Girl, we've got work to do.

She built up this really, REALLY succinct message about how trust is built and right at the last minute when she HAS you, really has you, she turns it around and says something incredibly profound like, "we have to trust ourselves before we accept trust from others."
An Inside Job.

God's latest message to me has been, "to accomplish a large goal, do one thing at a time."

This message has been coming through for weeks, and I hear it.  But I've been shrugging going, "Okay, YES.  But WHAT IS THE LARGE THING?  The large goal?"

I believe it is building trust with myself.
It's a hard row to hoe.  And I surely know how to tackle those and surely know how much I hate it in the beginning, wear out in the middle and feel like a sweaty champ of the entire garden at the end.

What's the first step?  I feel like I could work the 12-steps JUST for this issue, and I plan on it.  I added a column to my Step 4 for all of the times I've broken trust in relationships with others and myself.  How long will it take to write down all of the times I haven't trusted God?
Hard stuff.

I will take the advice of someone I revere, right along with Sterling W. Sill:

Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Place

In my mind there always existed this imaginary sort of place where everything was as I felt it should be... my personality, my home, my finances.  I felt it was the CORRECT place.  For EVERYONE.

In that place, there was neatness, organization, optimal health, classy style that attracted but didn't flaunt, beautiful and culturally sound arts, good music, smiles, a few pets and a garden.  There are people who have pieces of that place, and I spent a lot of time studying them, using scriptures to back up each step in my journey.
Organize yourselves, people!

I felt tense when I was around someone who didn't fit into my place.  If they were too loudly dressed or refused to smile or didn't till their own earth or didn't place what I perceived to be adequate importance on dust and stuff, I felt uneasy.  I felt the need to control my external circumstances.
And it turned out that the place -the place I had in mind and kept a firm eye on always -was a very lousy place.  The journey toward it was forced and tense and filled with chemicals and workout gurus who talked about abs like they were the point of my workout.  I was in a constant state of worry -I worried about other people -what they weren't doing, what they were doing, what they thought of my home and outfit and mode of teaching and serving and cooking.  
The Place was so shallow I couldn't SINK INTO ANYTHING REAL.

I started Recovery for me but BECAUSE of Danny.
Today I worked my recovery for me BECAUSE of me.

My last post was about progress -how I'd seen it in myself.  I knew typing it was risky.  Yesterday, I was hit with
LOOK you need improvement here.
LOOK you can improve here.
LOOK you just played the martyr.
LOOK you just made a decision motivated by control.
LOOK you are more worried about what others think than God.
LOOK you are triggered!

I came home from work, sat in the big, ripped up recliner that The Place had chucked far from it and prayed.
The recliner is situated right next to three big windows, though no sun shone through.  The day was overcast and grey.  My legs were covered in a big blanket.  As I sent up my plea to Heaven asking for I don't even know what, the sun came out.  It covered my body and I felt literal warmth.  My body relaxed and I fell asleep.
It was as if God reached through the clouds and commanded the universe to let me sleep.  I would open my eyes and they'd fall again.
I needed heavy, quiet sleep.

I woke up to My Place.  It isn't THE PLACE.
My house looks like the inside of my soul -cluttered, colorful, creative, and a little crazy.  

I don't believe My Place is for everyone.  This isn't hypothesis.  My Place makes other people uncomfy to the point of action.  People clean My Place a lot.  There isn't optimal health here, but there's a constant striving for truth about our bodies and the miraculous science behind them.  There's protein in the fridge and vitamins in the cupboard and yoga mats against the wall.  The point of the workout in My Place is truth, not abs.

As I drove to work today and snowflakes fell on my windshield, I was hit with God's ever-present passion for variety.
Nature varies beautifully -the desert holds a sacred kind of beauty I can't seem to even WANT to leave... the space, the air, it has nothing to hide, nothing to hold back.
Every snowflake is different, the prints on my hand are different than the prints of the hands that GREW inside of me!  The very waves on their hands were shaped and formed by the fluid my body created to protect them while they formed. The mountains in the distance that shot up in the horizon with no pattern, no symmetry at all.
Hair colors, eye colors, body colors.
Zebras, for crying out loud!  Can you get more varied than a white horse striped all over in black?  Or is it a black horse striped all over in white?!
I'm sure this is God's favorite riddle for the world.

I thought of Satan's plan -effective as it would have been to have make the choice that would bring us salvation, it lacks variety completely.

The Place was built sort of upon The Principle of Opposition.  One Way to Rule Us All!

But there exists in me a drive that goes BEYOND this life... a drive that existed before my fingerprints and hair color and passion for yarn... a belief that variety and choices is MY way.

My Place is simply that -Mine.
Because I've never had enough self-love to give validity to My Place, it has waited in a dark and dusty corner, shivering and ratty and patient.  I loved others more than myself, and others had Their Place.  I wanted that.  I wanted a Home Within.  Recovery has helped me dust it off, polish it up and start really setting up camp.
I started the process BECAUSE of Danny, and YES I was resentful as I polished.  Sometimes resentment gives me my very best grunt work performances.
But presently, I work on My Place BECAUSE of me and BECAUSE I love God and Jesus very much.  Very very much.  I loved Jesus before, but I didn't love Him with THIS kind of love -the kind of love that proves there IS A HEAVEN because THIS love is deeper than mortal love.  I can't wrap my mortal mind around what I'm feeling, you know?  It goes beyond romance, it goes beyond sibling love, it truly goes beyond anything mortal!  It's immortal intimacy.

Yesterday I talked about progress.  Today I'm talking about NOT PERFECTION.
My Place is a friggin' mess.  Probably forever.  But okay.

Today I did yoga with the mantra, "I awaken" and I added what came natural afterward.
What came natural?  Well, thank you for asking:
I awaken my true identity.

I awaken My Place.

I find I still lean toward others, longing for Their Place.  It gives me nothing but grief and a cleaner microwave.
Today I did some dusting in My Place.

I thanked God for others and their places, for what they all send out into the world -their gifts, their process of healing, their methods and magics.
And I practiced gratitude for the way I am -the open Alicia with all her ways and workings.

Then I logged on here and was vulnerable because although it makes other people squirm sometimes, I am vulnerable for a reason.  I've been chucking it down lately in the name of conformity which is just a fancy was of saying, "I'm scared."

I hope Your Place gets dusted today and that you're able to do something very Your Placey.  Like garden or spit or run or build or sketch or chart or wash or cry or dance or sing or rhyme.

Your Place has the potential to save lives, namely your own. It has the power to tap you into spirituality, health, serenity, and peace.  
For though our places are different, they share One common denominator:

And where God is, so is a love of variety -within you is a deep and relentless passion for variety, for YOU and not HER.
Comparison is the thief of joy because it chips away at that core passion.

So here's to Places.  To our Zions within.
It takes a very real trek to get there, and you won't trade it for anything.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Taking it Personally

I didn't know about porn before I got married.  I mean, I knew OF porn.  I knew it was a thing out there in a galaxy far, far away.  But I had never seen it, not really.  When Danny told me he'd had issues with porn in the past, I figured it was no big deal because
1) Sex is a need for men.
2) Danny wasn't having sex.
3) I would have sex with Danny after we were married.

I didn't realize that Danny's porn stuff had NOTHING to do with me.  I thought I had Main Sway in his sexual actions and behavior... not in a controlling, manipulative way, but in a, "if I give him enough, everything will be fine" kind of way.
I believed sex was a duty as a wife.
When Danny began acting out soon after we were married, it took over my life.  I took it personally -VERY personally.
My life became sexualized in ways I never thought possible.

I worked out so I would be thin and sexually attractive for Danny.
I kept the house clean so Danny would be attracted to me.
I made big efforts to attract Danny to me with my cooking.

Life became a string of domestic, physical, emotional and social performances... all for Danny.  All to be seen, to be what I viewed as loved.
I believed SEX was the most important sign of love.

I've been reflecting heavily on this lately.
I went shopping on Saturday.  Shopping can be stressful because I worry about food costs, personal preparedness, and making sure I buy food that is actually GOOD and not CRAP.
I battle the shame that comes to me from living paycheck to paycheck.
I also battle children.  The first believes we need to buy EVERYTHING for EVERYONE in the world!  The second believes we need to buy LOTS OF THINGS for HIM.  And the third runs circles around the circus, throwing chocolate and small toys in the cart while I debate the real meaning of charity with my 8-year old and check "painkillers" off the list.

A few years ago, shopping was pretty similar except I objectified women.  I viewed them as THREATS.  I felt less than.  If a beautiful woman passed by me in produce, a began sizing her up... I set myself at odds with her.  I measured her perceived strengths with my own.  I battled shame, and it had the potential to take my serenity away at best and ruin my entire day at worst.
I would never be that tan.
I would never be that fit.
I would never look so beautiful.
I would never have half the grace she possessed.

As I've worked on recovery, I haven't necessarily focused on NOT objectifying women.  I've mostly just worked on trying to let God take the wheel, on remembering that I can live my own life -a life that includes Danny but is not lived FOR Danny. I've learned about my own worth.  I've read good books about God, and I've found God everyday -all around me.  And somewhere along the line, I started seeing God in others.

My life began to strip off sexualization and objectification.
As I went the freezer section on Saturday, a very beautiful woman stood nearby.  She was VERY beautiful.  Did I say that?  I had to stop and stare for a minute -and I felt longing.
But guess what I felt right after that?
"Oh, look -she's with her parents.  She's shopping for them, caring for them.  What a sweet daughter."

And then I FORGOT about her.
It was nice to be able to admire a physically beautiful person without feeling shame, resentment or fear.  I SAW her as a daughter.

It was freeing.
Recovery is a freeing blessing that way.
I still remember the day I walked by the magazines in the check out line and SAW -REALLY SAW -the lies.  For years, I would see them and feel shame, resentment, fear... longing to see the photoshopping as LIES and not TRUTHS.

Its a truly miraculous gift of grace from God and Recovery to catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and love who I see, to love the stretch lines and scars and most of the wrinkles (still struggling with those rail road tracks between my brows though).

Here's the part where I completely SWITCH THIS AROUND.  So hold on for a sec.

When I began recovery, Danny took it personally.  Just as I took his addiction personally, so did he personalize my recovery.  As I took some tiny, scared, shaking steps forward and did things like
*Buy songs on i-tunes that helped me feel empowered
*Called a sponsor
*Went to counseling

He felt threatened.  I remember asking him if he like the songs I'd bought and he told me he felt like they were the anti-Danny songs.
I remember feeling confused -the songs weren't about him at all.  Recovery was MY thing, my side of the street, my worth, my journey!

But it didn't feel that way to him -just like his addiction didn't feel that way to me.

This parallel has also brought me a great deal of reflection.
A few nights ago, Danny said, "When you started recovery, I was scared.  I was worried it would make you resentful and mean.  But what its done is made you into a really incredible woman."

That blew me away, to hear that.
I've always been incredible, but in those painful years where I thought Dr. Laura was a prophet of God, I FORGOT.
I forgot to just BE.  I forgot to create, to slow down, to live and breathe and go on walks with God.  I forgot how precious I am to Him, how precious He is to me.

I still struggle with a lot of crap, but today I'm grateful that I've taken this journey.  I'm grateful that I went as far as I did into a sexualized reality.  The journey out has brought me wisdom, friends, and a better relationship with myself and God and others.

Right now, I'm going to hop on my mat and do some yoga.  I'm going to give my soul what it needs and take a pain pill because my BODY WANTS SUGAR and I've been giving it sugar since Thanksgiving.
We're taking this week off and my head hurts.

Needless to say, I'll be working the 12-steps AGAIN after I finish this round.  I need to work it for my unruly creature side who only wants Netflix and chocolate.  It's time to make amends to my soul... step by step.