Life of an Advocate

I wake up. I try to come to grips with the fact this today will be busy, but I will make it through – I have a 100% statistic so far in my life of getting through the day.

I slept like garbage last night, I’m exhausted and I no longer own a coffee pot. I also don’t have the money to buy coffee or the time to make an extra stop on my way to the courthouse.

I throw myself together in 5 minutes and hope that I look presentable enough for court. (Hey, I showered and brushed my teeth, I’m wearing clean and professional clothes, so that’s great, right?)

I arrive at the courthouse and drive around for 10 minutes before finding a space 2 blocks away.

I run to the courthouse so as to avoid being late and accompany my client. Things go smoothly.

Finish my first appointment at late 10am and my next one starts at 10am… across town. I’m definitely going to be late.

Run to my car and try to obey the speed limits as I’m driving, but it’s so tempting. I think to myself “Getting a ticket will make you later and broke.”

Client doesn’t show after all that rushing. Oh well, on to the next. I shake it off.

I return to the office and it’s an absolute mess from yesterday and all the work I did. I clear enough space to start working.

My phone is ringing off the hook and I have 8 phone calls to return already.

I have 3 clients with financial needs waiting for an answer and my director has still not responded.

I have 12 emails in my inbox and most of them require a response today.

I shove a snack into my face as I try to call back a client, no answer. I leave a message. I pray to God my garbled message is understandable. I make a mental note not to eat when I’m calling a client, but who knows when I will be able to get lunch?!

I have a client at the front desk wanting to speak to me and an appointment in 5 minutes.

I’m stressed out to the max and my stomach is growling so much I’m worried someone would be able to hear it through the phone.

I needed to pee at 9 am and still haven’t gone, it’s now 1pm… my bladder may explode.

I’m sitting in a meeting when I get an email from the accounting department about a client financial item. They are issuing checks today… right this minute…and if I don’t get my request in now it won’t get paid for another 3 days.

I leave the meeting and run to my desk and then downstairs to accounting. I run back up to the meeting and try to regain focus.

I shove some food in my face between phone calls. My phone continues to ring off the hook as I’m on the phone and trying to eat.

I have an appointment in another hour. I’m sure she has a lot which needs to be addressed and I know my workload will get worse before it gets better.

I suddenly wonder what it would be like to work in the corporate world again. It would be so nice to have predictable hours, predictable needs and predictable workloads. I can picture my life as boring and average. I wouldn’t be helping people in need, but my skills would still be in high demand. My day would be filled with , human resource functions such as staff trainings, creating documents, running reports, employee files, background checks and interviews.

I’m bored at the simple thought.

Would my life be easier doing many other jobs? Of course it would! But I wouldn’t ever want them. As stressful as my life is, it an be very rewarding. As hectic as it can be, it can be filled with client victories and progress towards risk reduction. As ever-changing as it is, it can sometimes be boring and mundane still. As much as I may travel and it annoys me to “waste my time” on the road, it’s not wasted because it’s bringing vital services to clients who need it. I’m making outreach in rural areas which need me. I’m assisting some of the most vulnerable people on this planet with vital services. Is it sometimes challenging? Absolutely. Is it sometimes very sad and hard to listen to the stores I’m told? Hell yes. There are days where I wonder how someone could hurt another human being like that. But as hard as it is, it’s important to listen to victims. It’s crucial to their story and it’s a huge first step to getting their needs met.

Being an advocate can be hard as fuck.

But I wouldn’t want anything else right now.

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“Mumbo Jumbo” Healing Works For Me

So I went today for a Shamanic healing. What is Shamanic healing you may ask? It’s a alternative therapy which is thousands of years old intended to heal the wounds of the soul, remove ties from negative energies and sever soul contracts.

Basically to some people it’s mumbo jumbo.

But I read about it and I decided it would be helpful given my traumatic past, given all the hurts I’ve endured in my life. What could it hurt?! So I went, I was skeptical, but I did believe that this was something I needed. I need my soul to be healed. I need closure from those who have hurt me. I need a deep and meaningful spiritual healing of my soul. Ever since my breakup in September I’ve not felt like myself. I’ve felt somehow altered, but unable to determine why or how to fix things.

So I went.

The experience was incredible. It was very hard mental work for as much physical activity as it was (I basically just sat and later lay there). It was incredibly emotional for me. It brought up feelings I thought were too far buried to reach. It drug them all out into the light, and once I could see them, I could deal with them. I cried. Oh my god did I cry so hard. I lay on the table sobbing as I reached deep into my soul and cut the ties I had to my ex. I love my ex. He’s an amazing person, and he deserves all the wonderful things in the world, but he and I are not meant to be. I needed to cut that cord, and I did.

It was a strange experience to describe to someone who has never felt their soul so deeply. I’ve never been that deep into my subconscious. I actually felt like I had moved out of my body and my soul was still connected to my body, but was in a completely different place. I could still feel my body, but I couldn’t move it. It was just a body, no beautiful spirit within it at that moment.

And in that moment where I was so far from my body, I saw it, a glimmer of white light, my soul. My tender, vulnerable and raw soul. It was connected to Matt. He was connected to me by a silver cord. Together we were dragging each other down under the water of all the emotions we had once felt together and I knew what I had to do.

I wasn’t prepared for how much it would hurt. I wasn’t prepared for the wound I would feel open when I cut that connection. I wasn’t prepared for the fear that came. But I let myself feel it. As I lay there I felt the hurt, the fear and the pain wash over me. I felt that fire of emotion consume that connection and burn it all away. I felt the tears rushing down my face as I watched the wound heal up. I poured my healing light on that wound and watched as it faded away. And even the very second I did it, I knew what I was doing was a good thing. I knew it was what was best for me. And as much as it hurt, as much as I was scared, I did not hesitate.

In some part of my mind I wondered if he felt anything as I did it. I wondered if he felt a nudge of the pain I felt as I cut that connection. In my mind he felt his burden lift too. As I watched myself cut the ties that bound us together I felt him sigh a sigh of relief too.

Afterwards I said intentions to have a healthy life and to keep moving forward. I said aloud what my heart wants so badly. I have never meant words so deeply as those words. I finally understood what I want in this life and I have conviction that I will achieve it.

As we finished, the practitioner asked how I was feeling, and I didn’t feel any different. I felt emotionally drained. I felt like I’d just experienced a loss, but the same as I had when I arrived this morning. Then I stood up to leave and I realized that I felt like I weighed about 50 pounds lighter.

For so long I had been carrying this burden on my shoulders. I had been trying to hold Matt together when I was falling apart myself. All of a sudden that weight was lifted and I was free. The pure joy which came over me next far exceeded anything I’ve ever experienced in my life.

I just felt more “me” than ever before.

I describe it in this way: I was a candle with a glass hurricane, but the hurricane was all covered with soot and ash. It was blackened and dark. The hurricane was there to protect the flame from going out, but the light also was affected. The light was very dim. The room was dark and no one could see. After I felt like that hurricane had been removed. I was exposed, but I was so much brighter. I lit up the entire room with a beautiful golden flame. Finally everyone in the room could see my light. Finally I was exactly who I am, no more and no less, no occlusion. No darkness could touch the light I was providing.

I continued to feel this way for the rest of the day. When I got home there was a letter from Matt. Before this would have sent me into tears. Before this healing it would have triggered a trauma, the wound would be reopened and I would have hurt. I read the letter, it made me laugh instead. Did I miss Matt? Of course I did. But the emotional ties which had previously been there were gone. I missed him but the hurt wasn’t deep like it had previously been. I got a little choked up at the fact that he used our nickname for me, but all in all I considered my reaction about 120% better than the last time.

I know that this healing will be a process for me. I know that just because I feel this way now doesn’t mean the hurt is completely gone. I know that part of me will always love Matt, but that it’s in a friendship. I know that the work I’ve done on my soul today isn’t going to make my life completely changed, but it has completely changed me. It’s completely changed the way that I look at the world.

Moving on… literally

It’s day 14 after my big breakup and things are slowly getting back to ok. My ex and I are now able to talk without me bursting into tears. I’m able to eat and function normally for the most part. We’re able to see one another without awkwardness too much. Tomorrow I’m moving into a new apartment.

Now I’ve lived in this apartment for 2 years, 8 months and 26 days. That’s the longest I’ve lived anywhere since before I left home. This apartment was the first apartment which was MINE and mine alone. I learned how to be single in this apartment. It was my rock for the past few years.

I’ve loved here. I’ve cried here. I’ve heard good news, great news and bad news. I’ve been angry here and I’ve yelled here. I’ve cried tears of joy. I’ve made new friends and lost old ones here. I’ve made love here. I’ve fought here. I’ve studied my ass off the night before an exam here. I’ve graduated here. I’ve created beautiful works of art here. I’ve lost dreams here. I’ve made dreams here. I’ve made dreams come true here. I’ve aged here from my youthful twenties to my wisdom-filled thirties. I’ve made mistakes here and I’ve accomplished goals.

A lot has happened in the past 2 years, 8 months and 26 days and there’s no good way to sum up everything other than I’ve made memories here. This apartment has been the one stable thing in my life despite all the ups and downs I’ve had in the past 2 years, 8 months and 26 days; and now I’m moving out tomorrow.

I’m terrified.

I’m moving to a new town where new neighbors live. I’m moving farther away from my friends, my family and my support system. I’m moving to a town where the only person I really give two shakes about is now my ex, and we’re no longer together. This move is suddenly terrifying.

Up to this point I’ve been excited. As I boxed things up I anticipated leaving this place with joy, excitement, happiness. I lovingly packed my things in paper and in boxes and I thought about my new apartment and all the memories I’d make there, but now I don’t want to leave the memories I already have.

I’m terrified to be alone…really alone. I’m scared to move away because I’m worried that my bipolar will make me sick… again, like the last time I lived away from my support system. I’m scared that I won’t like the landlord there. I’m scared that I’ll lose my job in that town and be stuck commuting to a job in a different town again; wasting my time, energy and money on the drive every damn day.

This feeling came over me as I was driving home from work today. I realized that it was the last time I’d drive “home” to this town, at least for a while. Next time I drove “home” it would be to my new apartment in my new town. I’m realizing that the reason I took the job I have now was to be closer to him, to be with him, to rationalize moving closer to him and eventually moving in with him; and now I want to be farther away from him, but I can’t run away. Even “home” will only be a few blocks away from him starting tomorrow and it breaks my heart that I’ll be so close and yet unable to have him.

And so here I sit surrounded by my life packed in boxes. All my memories packed up in neat little cubes waiting to move to a new place. Waiting to be unpacked in their new place in my new apartment.

And I’m terrified.

But sometimes you need to pack up your life, your doodads and your clothes and your knickknacks and move on…literally. Sometimes you need that push in order to do something great. So that’s what I plan to do; do something great in this next chapter of my life.

It’s been 2 years, 8 months and 26 days… it’s time to move on.

The Deer in my Path

So I’m on day 8 post-breakup and things are still about the same. I still hate most everything and everyone, especially people who have good news or have moved on with their lives. So many people I know are coming out with big news of weddings and babies, and I’m so happy for them… but so sad for myself.

In other news, every morning I’ve been seeing a deer. I’m not sure if it’s the same deer, but it’s in the same spot every day rain or shine. Now I’m all for symbolism, so I looked it up, and here’s what it said about the symbolism of deer:

“A deer is often a sign not to be too hard on yourself. Still the voice of the self critic and treat yourself with gentleness and understanding, be yourself and continue along your path. Seek out your inner treasures and use them generously to help those around you. Trust that kindness and graciousness will be well received.

We are also reminded that we cannot push towards change in others, rather we gently nudge them in the right direction with love and understanding. Lead by doing and showing the way.

Deer is a messenger of serenity, can see between shadows and hear what isn’t being said. Deer teach us to maintain our innocence and gentleness so we can share our open-heartedness with others.”

Now this says a lot to me. First, I’m being INCREDIBLY hard on myself relating to this breakup. I’m blaming myself for a lot of things which I’m not fully responsible for.

Second, I’d love for anything for my ex to change for the better. He’s an amazing person and I’d love nothing more than for him to be the man I see in him and live up to what he’s capable of, but I can’t force this. He has to make that choice for himself, and that’s a difficult reality for me to deal with. I’m trying as hard as I can to nudge him in the right direction, but we’ll see what happens.

Last I’d love a little more serenity. Right now I’m incredibly stressed out…

SERENITY NOW! SERENITY NOW!

Serenity now

I know that with time I will feel that peace, but I’m being a little impatient, ok? My heart is a big open wound and I’d like to have it heal just a little already.

For now every time I see my deer, I will think about being one minute closer to healed, one step closer to change, one tiny bit easier on myself and one nudge away from something amazing.

Dear Ex

Dear ex,

It’s been 5 days since our breakup. I hate the world less. I hate you less. But I’m starting to miss you. Given all that has happened I know that I should think that I’m better off without you, but I don’t feel that way. There’s so many reasons for me to not want you, but I still love you and none of those reasons will ever trump that one thing.

Each day when I wake up I want to text you first thing. It’s hard choosing to be without you. I miss talking to you, you’ve been my best friend for the past few years. I’ve shared things about my life that I’ve never shared with anyone else. You’re the first one I want to tell about my good news, and the first one I want to tell about my terrible day. You’re the last person I want to say goodnight to.

I didn’t cry today… until now.

That’s pretty good. Not great, but getting there.

I still remember the first time we met. Your hair was longer then. You looked like a wreck. You were wearing Birkenstocks, torn jeans and a yellow tee shirt. My friend told me you weren’t good enough for me, but I didn’t care what she said. I looked into those eyes, and I was hooked. I never wanted to look into anyone else’s eyes.

I already knew your heart by the time we met in person. I’d known you for months. You shared your dreams with me. You shared stories that you had never shared with anyone before you and I had ever met in person. You shared your heart with me before you even knew you’d done it, something which took you by surprise as well.

I don’t know why, but I could tell you anything and know that you wouldn’t treat me any differently regardless of how fucked up it seemed to me. You knew you were just as fucked up inside. We were both a little damaged around the edges, but we both accepted the flaws of the other, and together it worked.

For years we developed our relationship. We developed our own patterns, our own inside jokes, our own memories. We built a life together for these past few years. We shared laughter and we’ve shared tears. We’ve been afraid together. We’ve been excited together. I know every inch of your body and you know every inch of mine. We know what the other is thinking even before a word is said.

But now I don’t know where we stand.

I have news I want to share, but I can’t share it with you anymore.

I have struggles I want you to help me with, but I can’t share my burdens with you.

Most of all I just want to look into those eyes one more time and not see anger like what was there the night we broke up. I want to feel the way things used to feel. Not like the world is falling apart around me, but like it’s falling into place.

My friends are trying to help me get through this. They are saying terrible things about you, but they don’t really know you like I do. How can those things possibly be true? How could I have fallen in love with someone who my friends think isn’t worthy of my love? Why would I stay with someone who doesn’t appreciate me or deserve me?

I miss you.

I miss your smile and everything about you. I miss our inside jokes and our patterns. I miss our memories. I even miss things that once drove me crazy about you, like when you’d leave your socks on the floor.

Oh dear ex, where did things go so wrong? How can we fix them?

I don’t know if we can, but I want to try.

I still love you more than anything.

Maybe that’s enough.

Getting back on the horse (literally)

I’m in day 4 following my breakup… everything still sucks, but it sucks less than what it did yesterday.

I had a riding lesson today, which is something I love and just started doing this summer. There’s something about seeing the world from the top of a horse that does something to your troubles.

Tonight I rode a horse who gave me troubles in the past. She never stayed in a trot when I wanted her to. She walked when I wanted her to trot. She pulled at my reins. She never listened when I told her which way to go.  She grazed with the bit in her mouth all the time we were riding (which is not good for those who have no experience with horses).

But tonight was different, not in the way that the horse behaved, but in the way that I behaved. I decided to throw myself into improving my riding. I had a decent day, I didn’t cry, I didn’t want to kill anyone. I decided to give this lesson my absolute all and leave my problems at the stable door.

It started with a look. The horse looked at me, and I could just tell she knew what I had been through. It was a look that says far more than any amount of words. It was a look that although we are from a different species, she understood what I was feeling. She knew I was hurting.

I brushed her, saddled her and walked her to the arena. I didn’t say much to her. I did all of this gently and quietly. I had never saddled a horse on my own. I’ve only been taking riding lessons for 3 months and even then only one night a week. But I managed to do it all on my own. Before I got into the saddle, I gently stroked her face and she gave me that look again. It was a kind look.

“It’s ok, friend. I’m here for you.” she told me with her eyes, “You can do this.”

And with that, I got back on the horse.

horse

At first the ride was difficult, but as I got used to the feeling again, it got easier. I walked and trotted the horse. I posted trot on a full lap around the arena, something I have never been able to do before because of my own error. But I was so determined to have something that was just mine just for tonight that it came so easily.

As we walked towards the setting sun in the pasture I thought about how beautiful the world could be and I actually smiled for the first time in 4 days. And I thought about how good the day had been. Nothing special happened, but this day was good. I didn’t cry. I kept my food down. I didn’t think of him. Things which had been so difficult yesterday were somehow so much easier today. And as we trotted down the second hill, I realized that all I needed to do was keep getting in the saddle and eventually things would all fall into place.

And I decided in that moment to keep riding and see where it took me, one foot in front of the other.