Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Marking a Milestone

My Pot Party
September 2014 shall from henceforth be deemed Milestone Month. Initially, it was going to be about turning 50. It’s the marked event that I put in my timeline since June 2010. I just wanted to turn my life around by the time I turned 50. As the time grew closer to September 10, my anxiety increased. I was focusing on the things that I thought needed to be present to have my life “turned around”.  Having noted that I was at an all-time low physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, I am not surprised of the disappointment in my physical change. Simply put, I wanted to be thinner. I've taken off 70 pounds; I wanted to be 100 pounds or more off.  But when I reversed the order and thought about the spiritual, emotional, mental, and then physical changes, I was amazed at how much I had turned my life around. I have a sense of satisfaction in what I've done. I am very grateful. My sense of worth is now solid and able to be affirmed from within me, rather than seeking from others to feed that to me. I made a public declaration of this, to honor myself and my work. I see myself as the gift and my life as the celebration.

This month is also marked by some very significant therapy sessions.  I did some empty chair work that placed me in a chair opposite an empty chair but where I could envision my ex-husband seated. I needed to say the things I hadn't said to him when we were married. There was a lot to be said. There was a boatload of anger and pain and shame to be expressed, released, and left on the therapy floor. I spoke and yelled and cried and screamed some. It was quite cathartic. Wow, did that feel good. Following that session, I was a changed woman! Previous attempts to “get angry” particularly in the therapy setting, were less successful. It was if there had been a lock box on going "there". It has taken two years of hard, dedicated work to get to this point. I write about it here to acknowledge the work I've done, and perhaps for others who may read this and need some encouragement.  I'd often wondered if the work is worth it.  I am here to say, “Yes, it is”. I have a freedom that I have wanted for a long time. I am lighter, and a burden has been lifted. Debra said she saw a paradigm shift in me. I resemble that comment. 

During that session and in the group session that followed later that week, it became clear that I had some unresolved trauma.  It was agreed that EMDR would serve me well in this incident. The session that ensued involved facing perhaps the worst memory of my marriage. Doing this was perhaps one of the most difficult things I have done in my life. The pain and shame of that time in my life was so huge that I would get physically ill and emotional every time it was mentioned or recalled. My goal in therapy was to obtain a sense of peace. I wanted to be released from the grip that memory had over me. I have read Peter LeVine’s Waking the Tiger about physical symptoms of unresolved trauma.  During that session, I experienced exactly what he describes in his book – shaking, flailing, and other physical releases of trapped trauma. During this particular EMDR session, my emotions and thoughts would interject their own messages wanting me to stop. Emotionally, it was painful to face this fear and feel what had been locked within me. I also had to resist the thought that this was embarrassing, that I looked ridiculous, and whatever else the mind’s ego wanted to protect. I stayed true to my resolve. Recovery Healthy Sara prevailed again. That tenacious girl fought to get her breakthrough. Powerfully done, and immensely healing! EMDR is one kick-ass method. 

There was an unexpected and beautiful gift to me for this perseverance. I was given a vision of my husband and me. Instead of the pain, shame, and rejection that represented that initial memory, this new image was one of compassion and acceptance. We still held our brokenness as that had not been addressed, but in that space we weren't carrying the fullness of the shame. We were present for one another. It was a lovely image. I have the gift of this in addition to no longer having the bondage to that trauma. Indeed, this is my new truth. I have it to share as I go forth and to any future relationships. And that is that it isn't the absence of problems, it is the presence of compassion, empathy, vulnerability, honesty, genuine affection and love that creates the kind of intimacy I long for. Hell, yes, this is a milestone.  Hell, yes, this is a breakthrough!

P.S...I want to share how I celebrated my birthday, a particularly great idea for one marking a new season in life. I had a Pot Party! OK, I mean, I had a potting party. I asked for new colorful pots for my new colorful plants to adorn the patio that has been reclaimed as my haven. Now when I take time to reflect and enjoy the sanctity of my personal retreat, I am reminded of the party, this special time in my life, and the many people who love me. I have the pleasure of the beauty of the plants and pots themselves, and the knowledge that like those plants that are flourishing, I too am firmly planted, growing, and blossoming.


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