Finding Beauty in Fraying Threads

The healing process continues. My energy level is mostly back to normal. I still have up days and down days, but I seem to be reaching an equilibrium where every day looks pretty much like the day before. My leg is still swollen from the clot that is stubbornly sitting there, taking its sweet time to dissolve. I still get short of breath sometimes, but nothing remotely close to the symptoms on the day of The Event.

Now that I am pretty much stable, I have been able to do some more exploration into why this whole thing happened and what I can do to prevent it.

One of the most likely causes was the fact that I was taking birth control pills. I say “most likely” because we’re still not entirely sure that was the primary reason. I also tested positive for a genetic mutation that makes me more likely to form blood clots. (It’s apparently extremely rare. I’m very special.) I am hoping beyond hope that it was the birth control, because that means that I can stop taking the blood thinners after 6 months and be done with them for good.

I wasn’t taking birth control to prevent pregnancy, although that’s a really handy side effect. I was taking it to control my period. My apologies to those of you who aren’t in to reading about menstrual issues — skip to the next paragraph if that describes you. At the end of 2011, I bled for 35 days straight. No let-up. The only thing that stopped it and brought me back into balance again was the birth control. And now, I can’t take it. I have bled since The Event, and the blood thinners aren’t making that a pleasant experience, but at least my periods have stopped when they’re supposed to. I don’t trust that luck to continue, however, and my options for resolution are limited.

I’ve been talking to my gynecologist, and the option that I am going to go with is called ablation. It’s a fairly simple procedure that destroys my uterine lining so I won’t bleed. It also essentially makes me infertile, since there’s nothing for a kid to hang onto or get nutrients from. Pregnancy is still possible, though — which would be dangerous for both me and the baby — so once I have healed from the ablation procedure, I’m getting another procedure done that’s similar to getting my tubes tied, just much less invasive. The nice thing about all of this … I get to keep all my parts and my quality of life has the potential to improve tremendously.

The doctor asked me over and over about my plans for children. I assured her that I don’t want to have biological children, and if I did change my mind, which is unlikely, I wouldn’t be averse to adoption or surrogacy. My token line is, “I am an awesome aunt. That’s good enough for me.”

And yet… I am still struggling with this. It’s not that I want children. I really don’t. I love kids – but I value my freedom and independence more. I am single mostly by choice, partially by circumstance. When I was much younger I thought I might want to raise a family, but that shifted around my late 20s. For most of my adult life, I have been childless by choice. So why should this change be such a big deal? I don’t want a kid, now I can’t have one. No harm, no foul, right? … Right? 

So why does this feel like such a big deal?

Maybe it’s the stigma attached to a woman who doesn’t want to fulfill her what society might call her “biological imperative.” Maybe it’s the continuing sense that I am being left out of a club. Maybe it’s residual guilt that I feel like I should want kids. I come from a big extended family that’s pretty tight-knit, and I am the only unattached, unmarried, childless cousin over the age of 20. There are 14 of us – so I feel like an oddball at family gatherings, even if I get to be the cool aunt who lives in the mysterious land of Chicago miles and miles away.

I really don’t know. It’s probably a combination of all of the above and some things I haven’t even considered. I don’t even think it’s worth trying to find the true reason. It’s just enough to know that I am sitting with a loss, even if that loss is something intangible that never existed and will never come to pass.

But honestly? Deep down, the loss that I am mourning is the loss of choice rather than the loss of a potential child. When I was young, I felt threads of possibility reaching out in every direction. And I still do, to some extent. But I am finding growing older to be a little like fraying cloth. Some threads just aren’t available to me anymore. That doesn’t mean the tapestry or rug or whatever-metaphor-you-want-to-use isn’t or can’t be beautiful. It just means I have more limited options on how to create or sustain that beauty.

The key word here is “create” — because even though I won’t ever give birth to a human being, I will continue to give birth to projects, music, art, friendships, harebrained schemes, and rituals. I will breathe life into experiences and ideas and stories and songs. Creation is a pretty multifaceted gig, and I feel like I have been given a second chance at life in order to make a number of possibilities come alive.

Breathing, healing, and dreaming.

Rooted and Still Growing

Oh, this adjustment thing is still up. (Like it will ever end?)

Recently, (and I’d like to believe that this is a result of this conscious alignment work), some rather significant aspects of my life that have been out of whack are finally coming back into balance. And I’m here to tell you, the impact on my well-being is palpable. My life feels more expansive. I am finding that there is more room to breathe. For this, I am beyond grateful.

What was out of balance related to my integrity. I found myself negotiating things I have always considered non-negotiable. It has been such a gift and a blessing to finally find my feet again, and stand more firmly in my values. It feels like, for lack of a better word … home.

But, like anything, there is a shadow side to all of this. I have wanted resolution in these realms for so long, thinking that there would be so much more ease in my life once I had achieved them. Yeah… wrong. Although I have significant sense of relief and expanded opportunity, finding balance in these aspects of my life is serving to highlight the other aspects of my life that need to be brought into alignment.

I still have a job that doesn’t reflect my values, interests, or needs beyond the financial. I still struggle with feeling comfortable in my home, despite my efforts to invoke beauty. There are other more intimate and personal places that need examination and adjustment as well. True balance is fleeting and damn it, it’s hard work. But that just makes it that more valuable a process.

I just need to keep reminding myself that it is such a gift to be able to face the challenges before me having found balance in some truly integral areas of my life. If I can maintain healthy roots, then I can continue to grow. “Maintain” is the key word there. I don’t believe for one second that I have done all the work I need to do in those realms and now I can rest on my laurels. But it’s certainly nice to have a much healthier place to start than I did even a few months ago.

The work begins again. (And again. And again. And…)

Rooted in my values, I align.
Rooted in my boundaries, I align.
Rooted in my integrity, I align.

The plot(s) thicken(s)

I have been too chicken to join an online dating service (so far) but here is one of the things that would be included in my list of relationship criteria:

  • Must be okay with, or (ideally) supportive of hare-brained schemes.

And if I’m really honest…

  • My ideal romantic partner should occasionally have fits of creativity that lead to hare-brained schemes that are then acted upon in some measure.

This is not a post about dating, but it is a post about scheming.

Last weekend I was honored to co-facilitate a weekend intensive about Persephone and her ascent from the Underworld, one of my all-time favorite Greek myths. While we focused on the story quite a bit, the real root of the weekend’s work was around this particular quote from the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas. (My facilitation team and I are not afraid to mix spiritual systems in order to make a good point.)

If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.

Powerful stuff. And a philosophy that I can get behind. Although, embedded within this concept (and one key point of discussion over the weekend) is the idea that, “Yes, you have something to bring forth, and yes, you could miss your window of opportunity to do just that.”

No pressure.

What I found most terrifying about that statement is not that I could miss my window (although that is unnerving), but rather that I don’t know what it is I’m supposed to bring forth. If I don’t figure it out, then I’ll be destroyed by my own ignorance. This sent me into a downward spiral even before the event began, feeling disconnected from my personal work, my purpose, my calling, what-have-you. It wasn’t the best place to be right before I was supposed to step in and facilitate a workshop about this very topic. But I am blessed with an incredibly supportive, wise and talented team. They helped me figure out an approach, and we went with it.

There were some fabulous discussions and insights from the group this weekend, and I felt doors opening all over the place. Maybe it wasn’t about knowing exactly what my work is well enough to give a Powerpoint presentation about it … but maybe it’s all about moving towards the things that feel like they are in alignment with who I am. I know what that feels like – I’ve touched that before. There is a cellular memory at play here, something I’ve worked hard to cultivate and recognize through my spiritual practice. Maybe, for me, it’s all about doing before knowing — at least consciously. Perhaps a better way of putting it is “doing my soul’s work even if my head hasn’t caught up yet.”

That final act of trust must have been just the push I needed, because when I got home, a very large door opened for me. Now… I have had some very poignant spiritual moments, a few of which were in settings straight out of a novel or a movie where the main character should have a poignant spiritual moment. I have been in altered and ecstatic states where I felt supremely connected to what I would call the Divine.

The moment I am about to describe was not one of those moments.

I wasn’t in an idyllic woodland setting by firelight — I was pressing the elevator button to go up to my office on the 4th floor of a professional building in the suburbs. But I still heard myself say out loud… “Your work is to create experiences.” Really. I said it out loud for no apparent reason. Thank the gods no one else was in the hallway as I stood there slack-jawed. I knew exactly what was happening. Could this great and powerful thing that I was to bring forth in order to be my own salvation really be something so freakin’ simple?

Yeah. It really could. Because nothing else has come close to feeling this right. Which brings me back to hare-brained schemes.

I have known for a long time that creative endeavors involving large groups of people bring me joy. Pure, unadulterated joy. I have never felt more alive than when I was writing murder mystery parties for 20 of my closest friends, or when my best friend and I were creating puzzle hunts to go with weeklong personal growth intensives, or my writing-partner-in-crime and I wrote 11 episodes of a narrative urban fantasy podcast that ended up having over 40 characters all voiced by our friends, or…

I love hare-brained schemes. I love experiences that involve other people. I love collaboration. I love creative pursuits that bring connection into the world in unexpected ways. Why shouldn’t my work be connected to what I love? A better question … why wouldn’t it?

My dear friend J (see the aforementioned writing-partner-in-crime) was one of my co-facilitators for the workshop last weekend. When I shared my elevator button experience with him, he immediately jumped into action.

“Tell me three ways you can provide experiences for people. Go.” So I did. It was amazing how quickly they came up and how plausible they all sounded. But he didn’t end there.

“Okay. So for each one of those, tell me about one person you already know who either has a contact who could get you started, knows a group you could join to learn more, or who could give you advice about doing that sort of an event.” Again, I was able to answer right away.

“Now come up with a second person for each item on your list.” This was a little tougher, but I managed. This is going great!

“When will you reach out to each of those people?” I set a deadline. I am all OVER this.

“Last question… why bother?”

*blink*

I paused on this question, but once I started to answer, it rolled right out. Here’s my response:

“Why bother? Because just brainstorming and talking about doing this is lifting my mood. I am at my best when I am engaging a room full of people about something that I am excited about. I feel like the world could use a little more joy, and if this is one way that I can provide an opportunity for people to not only have a little fun, but collaborate and meet other interesting folks while doing it…? Seems like a no-brainer to me. If I can make it happen, I should.”

Then J took a bow and said, “My work here is done.” (This was an online conversation, so I have no way of knowing if he actually took a bow, but I think he should have. He’s rather good at this sort of thing.)

Not all of my schemes are hare-brained, nor are all of them about having fun at a party. But they all have one thing in common … making space for collaboration, inclusion and connection … and gods, does that feel right. I am at the beginning of a journey. Or perhaps in the middle of one. Who knows? All I know is that I am not at the end. Not even remotely. I intend to make the most of it. Delight, here I come.