More Perspective and Some Great News…

So, last I posted, my best friend was awaiting a surgery date to remove a brain tumor. I’m thrilled to report that her surgery was a success, the tumor was benign, she’s recovering well and back in the flow of her life.

It’s been pretty remarkable to watch her navigate such an emotionally and physically challenging disruption. It’s been inspiring to witness her handle it with grace, dignity and stoicism. That’s not to say she never expressed feelings of fear, frustration and intense discomfort, of course she did. But she moved so quickly into acceptance at each turn and expended the bare minimum of energy on the things over which she had no control.

That’s the great news! She’s alright. And when you think about the possible alternative outcomes, that’s where perspective comes in and profound gratitude.

Do we need to be faced with actual mortal perils to elicit this state of gratitude? Maybe sometimes, especially during tough times, the trick really is to contemplate all of the possibilities of what could be so much worse in order to appreciate what is wonderful in our lives.

Acceptance, perspective, gratitude…all feel very passive but they’re so powerful. I’m looking forward to exploring and expounding on how people hone these skills and rely on them especially in crises.

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God-Damn, Mother-Fucking Perspective!

Scan 2I’m certain you’ll excuse my language when I disclose that my best friend was just diagnosed with a brain tumor. So I can cuss as much as I fucking want, right? And blaspheme for good measure?

Talk about limbo, she’s currently waiting for her surgery to be scheduled. She won’t know the outcome or what, if any, permanent damage has occurred until she’s well into the month long initial recovery period (how long does it take to fully recover from brain surgery? No one knows). So, in the meantime, she’s on steroids and pain meds and functioning in the fog, ruminating over the possibilities and maintaining an admirable sense of humor and stoicism.

“Surviving Limbo” has felt like an apt title for a blog about living in-between married and divorced, but since I chose it I’ve felt a subtle shame due to the relatively first world, non-dire nature of such circumstances. It’s certainly a painful inconvenience to struggle with identity and philosophical crises and restructuring a family. It can be life-degrading, even life-threatening but there’s a measure of exaggeration in the application of the word “surviving.” You only have to witness someone truly imperiled to recognize the distinction between lifestyle issues vs. life and death issues.

One of my ambitions has been to broaden my scope and tell other peoples’ stories of surviving limbo, whether facing divorce, mortal threats, or any significant transitions, how we survive and thrive in the midst of ambiguity, doubt, fear and confusion, fascinates me.

It’s dreadful that I now find myself compelled to pursue this course, not by my own self-motivation but by the provocation of my closest, dearest, life-long friend living out the epitome of surviving limbo. I won’t say her name. I won’t tell her story right now (it’s just begun and she may not want it told) but tonight I’m fixated on perspective.

A wise teacher once said, “if you have a problem, you just need a bigger problem.” None of us really need that bigger problem, we just really need to recognize the potential, the frailty of our existence, the fact that we live in a state of limbo from the moment we’re born until the moment we die; the whole of our experience, at least in this incarnation, occurs in the in-between state. All unknown and rich with variables from the most exhilarating and joyous to the dreadful and agonizing. We live here, perpetually. Sometimes, that is highlighted by surprises, like an unexpected love affair, employment opportunity, or … brain tumor.

So, how we live and thrive in this overall limbo can be informed by how we live and thrive in the most challenging and traumatic limbos. These are the stories I want to explore and share in the hopes of providing insights, inspiration and perspective.

To be continued…

Photo: Miles Bitton

5 Reasons to Come Down Off That Ledge!

Five Things To Remember When You Are Feeling your Worst

5. You have felt happiness before and you WILL surely feel it again.

4. Life is short, with a max of around 100 years to put in total, you may as well take a shot at seeing if something better comes along. In the end you’ll die anyway but in the meantime, even one or two amazing moments will be well worth sticking around for.

3. The best, most inspiring, authentic, effective people have been right where you are at least once. You are in stellar company.

2. Someone loves you. Someone has loved you. Someone will love you. Imagine, actually, know in your heart that someone loves you. Try to hone in on what that thought elicits for you. Feel it. Bottle it…save it for whenever you need it.

1. You deserve life. You would not exist if you didn’t. I’m not commenting on how good a person you are or are not (at least with me, when I’m feeling like shit about myself there’s no talking me out of it). But, even if you are the worthless piece of crap you’re telling yourself you are (you’re not by the way, but if you insist)…the proof is in the pudding. You are here, therefore you are meant to be here. I can’t fathom that you would be here, even as you struggle, if there wasn’t some mission, minor or major, for you to fulfill.

My advice here is heartfelt and lighthearted and it is truly what worked for me in my scariest moments. That said, I am not an expert nor a psychologist. If you are in any danger of harming yourself, please seek help immediately from a loved one and/or a professional.

You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

Uh, yeah, this guy’s gonna show us how it’s done!

Video

Nothing puts things in perspective (and can make me feel like a whiny puss) like witnessing a fellow human being overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles! If he can do this, I, you, most of us can most certainly deal with our lots.

Watch the whole thing. And get high off the inspiration! 🙂

Mother’s Little Helpers…

I don’t mean to make light of mental illness. It is not funny. And, there are people near and dear to me who have been afflicted. Still, with one in four women taking psych meds, a person has to wonder (or at least I do), is there something wrong with all of these women? Or is there something wrong with the paradigm in which we live? I mean, are that many women just inherently flawed?

Consider that this statistic doesn’t even include women who abuse alcohol, street drugs, or obtain prescription meds illegally.

It’s a hard question to ask and harder to answer. Have we developed into a society that is so oppositional to women’s needs that women are forced to get stoned in order to keep going? Or, are we women spoiled? Lacking endurance? What’s the problem? What’s not working?

This is a topic dear to my heart. I had a run in with a psychotropic medication. Within hours of taking Prozac only ONE time, I became legitimately suicidal, crying inconsolably for hours and panicked, with my children still in my care. It was one of the most frightening episodes I’ve ever experienced. I had been suffering from depression in the aftermath of my husband leaving. But, I was not suffering from a chronic chemical imbalance, I was responding authentically to a true life crisis. My preference at the time would have been for the drug to work. Upon reflection, I am grateful it didn’t work. I had to go through the grueling, sometimes debilitating stages of grief and recovery. I had to leave no emotional stone unturned. Frankly, I still wake up on many days thinking  – “Really? This is my life? Really?” – as I stare longingly at my pillow, wishing to slink back under the covers and dream the perfect dream to assuage my anxiety and insecurity. But, I get up and I care for my kids and I do what I can, one little bit at a time.

All of that said, I did what works for me. I incorporated exercise and lots of reading, writing, soul searching, healthy foods, water, time with friends, therapy (which was hit and miss and dependent on available funds). I don’t doubt that meds help people. In fact I know people who have been helped by them. But, I know more women who are lingering in an odd sedated dissatisfaction, mellowed enough to function but too mellowed to let the inertia of discomfort push them toward evolution and perhaps the dreaded, “change.”

This is a tough issue. Are we all fucked up? Or are we just women? Hormonal, moody, needy, demanding, stoic, sensitive … the full spectrum of human?

Some among us are indeed bipolar, clinically depressed and/or chemically imbalanced. But as those numbers increase, should we ask why? When more women are medicated than not, does crazy become normal?

I don’t have the answers. I’m asking the questions right now and intend to revisit this topic.

It’s Wine O’clock Somewhere

My neighbor/friend/comrade in overwhelmed parenthood-ness, likes to say, as the sun sets on our block, “it’s wine o’clock.” This is broadcast to me via a yell from down the street, a text message or a whisper accompanied by the removal of wine from her fridge and distribution into our glasses. For her, an appropriate wine glass. For me, a shot glass (or as she calls it, “a thimble”). I feel like a midget drinking from my tiny wares. But my petite frame renders me an undignified lightweight. Even though I only partake once in a while, those nights are a little mellower, a little funnier, a little closer to manageable. With a little imbibing our veils come off, I learn more about her wilder, thinner, more exciting days and she learns more about mine. It’s a bonding thing. So, why not drink more or at least more often? Continue reading