The Hell that Never Was

This blog has been dedicated to my journey in a long-distance relationship and the challenges my partner and I have faced on our way to a life together. I’ve shared practical experience, frustrations, and deeply emotional stories , but it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. That isn’t because nothing’s been happening. A ton has been happening on so many levels!!! But it has been very nearly impossible to understand myself let alone write about.

Ever heard of Matt Khan? He’s an amazing being with a refreshing perspective that is a great relief to me. When he speaks, it’s kind of like hearing something that I’ve known all along and just couldn’t quite bring into consciousness. Matt’s most recent video had a big impact on me and helped me awaken to the realization that everything here in this blog is now part of the past. While it is recorded and here for others to read and perhaps glean from, it has nothing to do with me now. And that will be true of any post I ever leave here…even this one.

It’s stuff that no longer matters, really. The hardships, the traumas, the obstacles and frustrations…they are here for the world to read, but they are not here for me to cling to and relive. It has been difficult to remember that while things still felt close and very personal. But Stuart and I are totally different people now, having both grown so much this past year. We have many upgraded ways of thinking and feeling. We’ve both learned so much about ourselves and each other. And thanks to Matt Khan, I’ve come to realize that all we’ve been through is nothing more than “the hell that never was.” It may have felt like hell. And it certainly seemed like hell. But really, it was everything just as it had to be. It was just life…messy, surprising, unexpected, challenging and mysterious (and to be fair, some of it was “the heaven that never was” too…the unmeetable expectations, the bright-eyed fantasy, the blush of perfect romance and happily-ever-after).

Since my return to the states in August, I have been taking serious inventory. WTF happened? Why was I getting what I was getting? Did it actually have anything to do with me? Did I have control over anything? Where do I belong? What is it that I want? What’s my purpose? What must I change or simply accept?

For months, I’d been reliving that moment at the airport when I had to decide to stay or go within minutes. It was impacting my ability to make decisions, contributing to states of anxiety I hadn’t experienced in years, and set off all kinds of irrational and negative thinking that I have sometimes successfully and others times not so successfully managed. It had become the dark lens through which I began to see our future, too. Thoughts of, “this is never going to work” and “we just aren’t meant to be together” echoed in my head.

Matt’s words helped me to re-imagine that worst moment of my life differently.¬† After months of flinching at the memory, I was able to remember it all with new clarity what had transpired before and even after, with love in my heart and a deep knowing that is was perfect. I was able to celebrate everything I was feeling in those moments, to love the airport and the people there, to love the inner battle and confusion I felt then and ever since, to send love back through time and space to the me I was then, and to acknowledge that something not only survived to live on but was learning a great deal in the process…the dream hadn’t died. It was still breathing!

Having reframed that experience, there was no stopping me. I started reframing everything (yes, me the woman who wrote a book telling other people to reframe). I felt like a kid who had finally learned to whistle after trying and trying with no success. You won’t believe what happened. The very next day, Stuart put a deposit down on our new house! Just like that. After months and months of searching. After months and months of everything being so damned difficult. After months of feeling like I would never belong anywhere ever again, had lost all purpose, failed miserably, and didn’t know which way to turn.

I wondered when in the thick of it if I’d ever understand why things played out the way they did…if I’d ever feel gratitude again and come to recognize the gifts that came with the pile of crap. I told myself some day…maybe. Who knew someday wasn’t as far off as it seemed?

I entertain no delusions that going back will suddenly be a piece of cake. It’s going to take work, and there will be the same issues to face…language, bureaucracy, constant unknowns! But I’m a lot more sober now and about 10x stronger, and having laid the accumulated past to rest, there is a new lightness and breathing room once more to start over.

So to anyone who’s feeling like there is no light at the end of the tunnel, I can only say, “you’re in the hell that never was” and the way out is loving it all.

 

 

 

Together Apart

Yes, I realize I’ve been quiet. Things have been sort of…unpredictable, uncertain, and intense. This has been a time of letting go. That seems to me to be the lesson again and again. Let go of every concept of how I think things should be. Let go of any and all expectations. Learn to live by a sense of what feeeeels right in the moment even if it seems to be going in the opposite direction of where I thought I wanted to go. The Universe seems to be providing me with immeasurable gifts to hone my intuition, to improve my ability to communicate, to see and release negative habits and thought patterns, to open up to synchronicity and learn to trust it, to learn better and better self-care, and to constantly refocus myself from a place of fear, lack of trust and self-doubt to one of love, faith, and confidence. They are proving to be the hardest lessons of my life. Some days, I just want to leave the planet. Others, I feel more hopeful.

Since arriving back in the states, I’ve spent a good portion of my time in Asheville, the city I lived in before I went to France for three months. I also spent time in Virginia, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and presently, New Mexico, where I grew up. All this moving around has been rather disorienting and wearing on my nerves. Being back in the Sandia mountains is helping to alleviate my sense of groundlessness.

Stuart and I have both learned a lot during this intense time of separation. Mostly, we’ve learned that we don’t have control over everything (and probably anything) that happens to us. The only place we have control is over our attitudes and interpretations about it all…and that can be the bigger challenge. One thing is certain; we both have to do what we can to keep ourselves sane and happy right where we are…even if it feels like our lives are growing apart.

Who knows why things have gone crazy apeshit? Who knows why we’re even further apart now than we were before we even got married? Seriously, who knows? I know I don’t. Life is a constantly swirling mystery. I can’t explain it.

Partly for the grounding I mentioned earlier and for other reasons I’ll save for another post, I started an apartment search here in Albuquerque. Talk about swirling mystery! WTF am I doing here? It’s a lot of stress, this current situation. For one thing, I’m up against the crazy catch-22 of “can’t open a bank account without an address; can’t get a car without a loan; can’t get a loan without a job; can’t get a job without a car, etc.” The more difficult part is knowing if I commit to a lease, that’s pretty much the death of some dreams I had when I met and married Stuart. It’s going to cement a lot of moving pieces into place…including me. I’ll be buying a car, furniture, finding some work, setting up my business again. Stuart’s and my relationship will change. Everything will change…again.

“What about Stuart?’, you may ask. “What about France?”

Life seems to have other plans. And that’s okay. That’s just the point. Something really weird is happening, and I just have to trust it.

Will we even stay married? Honestly, we don’t know. We just don’t know. We’re both trying to find our way to the light right now after a year of unbelievable stress loads. It sucks. It hurts. It’s scary. Where are we both supposed to be? What is the nature of our relationship? Nothing has been clear. Then again, I could write a blog in two weeks saying I’m going to France after all. That’s how WEIRD life has been, so I’ve finally cried, “Uncle!” and stopped trying to figure things out. The only thing we know is how important we are to one another…that we love and serve each other in completely mysterious ways…that we can’t imagine our lives without our connection. How it ends up looking though, that’s all in the mystery.

As Stuart said earlier today, tongue in cheek, signing off of Skype, “Go do what you do there, and I’ll continue to do what I do here. And someday, we’ll be where we’ve gotten, and it’ll all makes sense.” It doesn’t get much clearer than that.

Perhaps the deepest lesson I’m coming to appreciate is that all I really have is me, here, now. My relationship with myself is ultimately the one that matters most. So, I have to allow myself to live where I am. I can’t keep trying to live where I am not nor wait for the day when I am. And I have to constantly de-emphasize all the unwanted things that keep happening instead of thinking about them constantly, trying to solve unsolvable problems. I must focus on how I want to feel. Stuart has to do the same. To do anything else would just be insane and create more resistance and more of what we don’t want!!! On the outside, it looks like we’re falling apart. So what? I already know appearances can be very deceiving. Maybe we will fall apart. But for now, we’re just riding the waves…the crazy, ludicrous waves…together apart, as gracefully as we can.

There is an anonymous quote that says, “Your soulmate is not someone who comes into your life peacefully. It is someone who comes to make you question things, who changes your reality, somebody that marks a before and after in your life. It is not the human being everyone has idealized, but an ordinary person, who manages to revolutionize your world in a second.” I would add, “It is a person who unknowingly pulls you inside-out, forcing you to confront every last remaining shadow aspect that keeps you from loving what is.” Thank you, Beloved. I am doing my best to embrace your lessons.

 

 

 

 

Healing Time

So, it’s been several weeks since I’ve written. That’s for several reasons. First, I’ve been somewhat behind in my ability to process my own experiences. Normally, I process by writing, but everything has been happening too fast and furious for that. I think I’m finally starting to catch up. Second, I’ve been all over the place making it hard to settle myself down and write (let alone market my books or have a worklife). I spent a very nice couple of weeks in Asheville visiting friends, then headed back to Virginia before a “little jaunt” to New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, and Connecticut. This tumbleweed is over living out of her suitcase!

In New York, I received the transmission of Bon Chod from Bon Shen Ling. I’ve been waiting 10 years, since I first heard about the practice, to take it. It was a very powerful experience, though I regret how very quickly the weekend went by and how little practice we actually had to really take in the ritual. I had been recording the chants and drum patterns but was then asked to erase them; I sat outside and cried while hitting the delete button on my phone. It was one of the most painful things I’ve had to do because it was so important to me to learn the practice correctly and well. I want to continue my studies of Chod online when I can, but for now, I just have to be sloppy and wing it. That’s so against my grain!

In Connecticut. I connected with relatives on my Dad’s side of the family. What a sweet, inspiring bunch! It was so special to be reunited with him through them. Even though I hardly know them, they were all very welcoming and loving toward me, and I have to say, it was a very healing experience full of buried memories, forgotten histories, and unknown treasures. It made me realize that my history is important…not something to annihilate as I had once thought. I had learned about the importance of letting go of personal history in my Toltec work and misunderstood the teaching. I tried to erase my past as if it never existed or happened. Now I realize that those stories and connections are an important part of this identity, even if the identity itself isn’t important…if that makes sense. Or as my friend Gene says, “Take the personal out of your history.” My past is to be respected…not as a limitation but as a compass. No one else has my past!

I have to say, New England was gorgeous!!! I probably went at the best time of year. It was cool and the leaves were already changing. Hard to believe I was born up there. I had no memory of its beauty. It makes me want to live there, which is good, because Stuart is drawn to the coast there too. (Now, if it had been the dead of winter, I might be rethinking wanting to live there. But for now, I’ll allow myself to dream of an adorable little house near the coast in our future.)

In addition to seeing the house where I spent my first 6 years, the house of my maternal grandparents now deceased, and my Dad’s old car lot, my cousin took me to a place that had been one of my Dad’s favorites, Kent Falls. There I was able to do little ceremony for myself letting go of 9 of the most hurtful beliefs I carry. On this trip, probably a result of the Chod, and just as a result of everything I’ve been through, I started to gain some clarity and space from the trauma of recent months. I understand better¬† what my work truly is right now…and it has mostly to do with my mind. I felt the energy of my ancestors present and a certain resonance with the place, later discovering it used to be Indian land…well, wasn’t the entire US once Indian land?…but the sacredness of it was still palpable. My cousin was also instrumental in helping me talk out some jumbled inner feelings helping me break out of a mental straight-jacket I’d put myself into. Now I’m back in Virginia planning a visit to New Mexico to visit another sister and her family in the town where I grew up and went to college.

Stuart and I have been trying to decide what comes next for us. We are still gathering the I-130 Petition documents we need. We’re almost there. But should I settle in the US or go back and visit him? If I settled now, he could visit but only for a short time as he couldn’t work on a visitor’s visa. And I couldn’t really go there if I had rent and a car payment here. That would mean a very long year apart while his CR1 was processed.

Our best shot seemed me going back to visit him before settling. With a short-stay visa, I could stay three months. But that would put me back in the states home-less and car-less again in the height of winter. Not a thought I relished. In the process of collecting everything, something…divine guidance…led me to investigate long stay visas in France. I don’t know why I hadn’t looked into it before. I discovered that I could stay up to a year in France as the spouse of an EU citizen without having to obtain residency. It’s looking promising. In fact, I’ve already completed the application (easy peasy!), and I have an appointment at the consulate next week. It only takes three weeks to process, so I could conceivably be heading back to France in November, and not just for three months. We might be able to be together during the entire wait time on his CR1! And I could return in Spring if necessary to get us established here. It seems things are popping into place after popping chaotically for so long. I have to confess though, I found myself overreacting today when we hit a small snag. It seems I’ve been conditioned to expect the worst over the last several months. But I see that, and I’m beginning to feel a lot more hopeful than I have in a long time.

It’s funny. Leaving France was so awful, so painful. I was so sure it was a mistake. But now, looking back on what I’ve experienced since my return, and seeing also how much both Stuart and I have learned and grown, maybe it wasn’t a mistake after all. Painful, yes. It was that. But it wasn’t the end of anything. It was a necessary side-trip to my own healing. Maybe it all had to happen this way. I find it beautiful that my time back has been all about relationships…to my past, to my family. It has truly been a healing time. And maybe now, finally, I have a better relationship with myself.

 

Risks Are There to Be Taken

I love Paulo Coelho. He writes my favorite books. In By the River Piedra, I Sat Down and Wept, which I haven’t read in a very long time, he writes the following pictured quote:

CoelhoI am beginning to understand this. Since December of last year, I have been going through what? An initiation perhaps? Something. I have been so afraid. Last year, Love showed up at my door and said, “Here I am. Take me.” At first, it was a dream. I was in a bit of shock…too much shock to muster up much resistance. I was still in the joy of the miracle.

When reality set in, when the changes I was facing became clear, when I began to realize (or my mind began to convince me) that I was losing everything I knew to gain a big question mark, a huge fear entered the picture…that very same inexplicable fear of which Paulo writes.

Of course, I gave it explanation because I couldn’t bear the inexplicable. I gave it a name and face and whatever else I needed to feel safe. And without even realizing it, I made this illusion, this golem, my partner. I invited it in and had conversations with it. I allowed it to counsel me, and I took its advice. But I didn’t know what I was doing.

I was talking myself out of a dream. I was squeezing the life out of my vision. To feel safe, I was posing every scenario, every possible negative outcome, every excuse not to change my life. I was waiting for the next step to appear because I wanted less risk, more assurance, certain non-negotiables in place. I was overhashing decisions, considering and reconsidering every angle.

I started to doubt what I said I wanted. I was creating the timeframe and locking myself into it. Since it wasn’t happening in my timeframe, I interpreted that as “it’s never going to work.” The instant I believed the lie that I couldn’t have what I wanted, I no longer knew what I wanted. I became confused. Everything became so much more complicated than it really was. I was trying so damn hard to control everything. And it was all me! I was standing in my own way, pushing away my own dream!

Somehow, I woke up from that. Somehow, through grace and inner work, I managed to see that it was pointless to allow fear to make my decisions, to keep me frozen in place, terrified of what might be waiting for me. Fear was robbing me of my ability to dream! It was filling me with rigidity and confusion. “A has to happen first. Then B has to be in place. Then C must be ready to go. Then D has to align. The E has to happen.” But what I was being asked to do was step toward what I wanted, no questions asked…no promises…just faith in my desire.

Stuart and I have been waiting for my house to sell since October of last year. We’ve also been waiting for him to find our new place in France. We’ve been waiting for finances to improve. And with each passing day, waiting has brought more waiting.

Waiting. For what? Nothing. I really thought we had to wait. But the only thing I’ve been waiting on is for FEAR to leave the room. I could have been waiting forever. As soon as I resolved to move forward, I felt such a weight drop from me. I felt elated. I felt on-track. We both felt a lot less stressed out. I got calls for two showings to the house less than an hour apart (and two more today). After weeks of moping around not knowing what to do next, the next steps became obvious.

We’re no longer waiting. I’m leaving for France at the end of next month. We’ll make due where he is and look for our new place together, and my house will sell when it sells. In the meantime, I will LIVE LIFE! I will step toward that which fills my heart with song even though my boots shake. Risks are there to be taken. Right, Paulo?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Missing Someone

I wrote the following post last week and never posted it. I knew the intensity of the feelings would lift, and I wanted to be able to look back upon it from a stronger place. I’m posting because it shares another facet of my long distant romance. I know I’m not in this alone; there are a growing number of LDR (long distance relationship) couples out there. Speaking as one, it sometimes it feels like this:

* * *

I have a heart. I feel. Today, I hurt. I miss my love more than I can say. This pain is unlike any I’ve ever know. It’s its own unique blend of powerlessness and grief, frustration and ache. I’m kind of taken aback by the power of these feelings today. And I’m even more pissed that no one seems to get it. I just want to be with the person I love. That’s all. Is that too much to f&#*ing ask?

Some days, it’s not so bad. He’s living his life. I’m living what’s left of mine. There’s shit to do. Today, however, all I can feel is the total lack of satisfaction. I want to throw a tantrum. I want to scream and destroy things. Anything not to feel this dull ache and void. Anything not to be in this awful waiting.

Do you, you people in relationship who see your honey on a regular basis, do you appreciate that you do? Do you appreciate the fact that you can not only get a hug, a real hug, but that you can feeeeel it…the body heat, the muscles, the softness, the energy of love? Do you appreciate the fact that you can get on with your life because you’re not in some kind of god-forsaken limbo waiting for all the pieces of your puzzle to come together?

Stop what you’re doing. Just stop. And make a beeline for your love in the next room. Touch each other and look into each other’s eyes and appreciate what you’ve been given. Appreciate it for all of us who are separated from those we love. Drop to your knees in ecstatic gratitude for the simple pleasure of a caress and know you have been given a privilege and a treasure more valuable than gold.

* * *

The fact is, I may call this time a “limbo” but there’s a lot going on here under the surface…stuff beyond my understanding. I just have to trust the process. Now, I can say that going into that dull ache and void wasn’t so bad after all. It passed. I’m still here, but I’m a little less attached to time and a little more surrendered. What else can I do? Feelings come and go.