Overcoming the Disconnect

Life gives you a lot of opportunities to learn lessons.

The beginning of this week wasn’t bad, but I was definitely not on my highest flying disk. I know that I had slipped off after my hair was cut, but I couldn’t figure out what to really do about it. Monday came and I had to do a bunch of errands to pay some bills. It felt good to take care of some things that I had been neglectful of taking care of, but it left me with less than forty bucks to stay a float for two weeks.

Money has been a sore spot for a while. I have been so lucky that my school has had my back while I am out on leave. The union has been paying for my short-term disability. I am so grateful that they have my back, that I feel horrible when I feel like I am coming up short.

Like most cancer patients, I am sure a lot of us weren’t in a good spot financially before we got sick.  I was laid off and unemployed for a few years. How I was able to keep my house? I still don’t know. My bank account is in the perpetual red. I haven’t had money to buy clothes or shoes in years. All those times I bitched about money when I was younger, seem stupid to me now.

Anyway, whenever I pay what bills I can…I sometimes see the rest of the obligations I have and feel like a loser for not knowing how I will ever be solvent. Sometimes I don’t even know where to begin. It can be another cause of slipping off a high flying disk.

Of course, if you listen to the Law of Attraction advice, one of the best ways to stay in a place where you don’t have money is to focus on what you don’t have. So, for now I am trying to stay really grateful for what I do have…which is a lot when you think about it.

Yet, this little mental mind jockeying combined with a little self-conscience about my hair and nerves about getting a second infusion this week made life a little blah. I tried to make it a point to do some activities for fun, but I was thrown for a big curve ball on Wednesday.

I got home Tuesday night to find that my furnace wasn’t working. I knew there was no way I could afford a repairman, and my father is not always good in these types of situations. I covered up in every blanket I could get my hands on and found a way to sleep through the night. Michigan was getting cold. I could hold out for a few nights, but it isn’t like I could go through the whole winter without heat.

When I got up the next day, I had an appointment for a free massage. As I drove out, tears just streamed down my face. What was I going to do? I had to try and see if my father was interested in helping, but I hated the idea of asking him for money again.

I used my massage to calm me down. I was so sure that he would shoot me down that I knew that I had to reframe my thinking or I would get exactly what I feared. My energy and vibration lifted. I drove back home to find two packages and two cards in the mail. I had signed up with a group of Chemo Angels. Each cancer patient is assigned two angels who would send cards and letters to lift their spirits while going through treatment. It was an unexpected surprise from strangers. I opened them up and let the awe of knowing that these people really cared about me wash over me. I believe the massage earlier helped me to receive these gifts.

After I felt a little cheered up, I called my father. He asked me how I was doing and I said I wasn’t great. I told him about the furnance and he went into a mini tirade about bills and him being broke. I found myself begin to sob…I couldn’t even ask him for help. I felt so bad for needing help. I think he was thrown for a loop and kicked in saying that he would take care of things. It felt like he finally understood that I needed him to act like a Dad who knew his daughter needed help.

I love my father. I took care of him when he was diagnosed with cancer. I became his sudo wife when my mom died. I hung out with him a lot. Sometime after my sister decided to move back from Virginia, I began to distance myself from him. I spent so much time with him that I felt like I couldn’t have a life. I had taken a loan out for school before he got sick and used it to live on when I took a leave of absence to take care of him. When I became unemployed, I couldn’t pay the loan. This kind of became a sore spot. The funny thing is, he had just paid for my sister’s wedding and it was the same amount.

Now that I have faced the fact that I am a lesbian, I have trouble feeling like I am nothing but a big disappointment to him. In some ways, I am sure he already knows. Still, the dream that I was following for most of my life was one that I knew would be acceptable to him. Have a great job, a guy, maybe some kids. Be an upstanding citizen. Go to church. It was the path I am sure everyone feels like they are suppose to follow. The problem was, it was never my path. It is what I thought I needed to do, not what I wanted to do.

Still, I feel like staying true to myself is like becoming an embarrassment to him. Would he still be proud of me? Would he think less of me? The pain in having these questions answered is what keeps me away along with the fact that the reason I don’t drive out to his house is because I don’t have enough money to pay for the gas.

The boys are well aware of this dilemma I have with him. Max was getting pissed off because I didn’t want to ask my father for help in the first place. He was rather short with me during that day and than invited me over. Max apologized for getting frustrated with me, but he said that he saw me slipping into old patterns and it was pissing him off. Part of the reason why my father would get pissed when I called him in an emergency is because I never tell him what is really going on in my life. I have shut him out and it put Alex and Max in a strange position. It puts them in a place where my father would feel animosity toward them where it wasn’t necessary. My desire to protect my father from any obligation toward me is what makes him feel bad. The point is he wants and deserves to know me more and I am the one who is hiding, avoiding any display of the true me.

In order for me to continue to grow on this path, I need to be authentic and vulnerable in all areas of my life, not just with the people and places I feel most comfortable being it. Of course, the thought of being that way with my family was excruciating. So, the boys told me that they wanted to see my father at my infusion appointment. Immediately, I thought no way. First, how would you like to be tethered next to someone you have been hiding from for 6 hours with no way out? They said, maybe he needs to see his daughter hooked up to IVs and bald to understand that I am human and vulnerable. Maybe he needs to feel like he is contributing to my emotional needs and not always the financial ones. Maybe he still needs to know that I need my Daddy.

As the Universe usually knows how to manifest these things, my sister decided to spend the night in my cold house. Maybe to get away from her husband, maybe to feel like she was giving me some support. She took me to my appointment and drove back to my house to meet the furnance guy. She had already scheduled my father to come a little latter, but the furnance guy was done and gone before the original appointment was scheduled to even start.

I did my labs and met with my doctor per usual, without my posse with me. I knew that someone would join me at the infusion room, so I wasn’t too worried. They started with the pre drugs and I got a little sleepy. When I woke up, my father was there. There is a one person maximum guest policy in the room. He had brought me some lunch. It was nice to see him there. The thing is that I do enjoy my father’s company. We are buddies. I don’t have to say all the shit that is on my mind. What he needs to know is that I still enjoy his company and I still care about what is going on with him and his life, just like he wants to be a bigger part of my life.

We hung out for three hours, and my brother showed up from out of town. It was a pleasant surprise. They swapped out and had a great time. It was one of his last vacation days and even though he was having car problems, he still made it over. I got a beautiful picture from my nephew, and my brother made me into a zombie with a Walking Dead app on his ipod.

My brother suffers from the same painful lack of vulnerability that I have. We totally got it from our parents. We are so busy trying to keep up appearances that we kill ourselves a little bit. I have had a Renassance, and I feel like he may be on the verge of one soon as well. I believe that part of the mix needs to be us sharing what we have been feeling and doing with one another. The thing about sibblings is that we are genetically connected and we carry the same family drama and tropes from childhood. We can use each other to heal from those wounds so we can live more fulfilling lives.

When the infusion was through, I had my brother drop me off at Alex and Max’s. That way, I had someone to watch me until I feel a little more comfortable being alone. While my brother was there, I could feel him completely open up. We shared our drag videos with him, my recent art work, talked about all kinds of things and just saw him relax and unwind. He didn’t feel like he had to be anywhere or answer to anyone for a while. The release of responsibility is sometimes a bigger vacation than a trip around the world.

When it was time for him to leave, I basked in the day that I had. Just 24 hours earlier, I had dreaded the idea of what would happened…but now I realized it was exactly what needed to happen. In order to really heal, I need to be me. I need to have my family in my life.

The boys and I had some great conversations. We are a unit, maybe a dysfunctional one. I don’t have to worry about losing Alex and Max, but we do need to open ourselves up to more people and more experiences in our lives. We had been doing it, but when I slipped up…they got tripped up too. One of the favorite places for me to be is in their presence, but they made a good point as to say that I need to feel like I can achieve the same amount of happy with them as without them. My enjoying my house, my family, new friends, and/or new experiences should not suffer because I am afraid of not having it with them. In reality, having a great time without them is giving them a gift. The same goes for the two of them. They should be open to having experiences by themselves individually, or even together with out me. It is what fuels us and makes us enjoy each other even more when we are together.

It is not as if I didn’t know this, but I had always assumed that they placed it on my head like I was the desperate one. In reality, they told me that it is as hard for them to do things without me as it is for me to do them without them. One of the biggest ways I could help out is to be more assertive. I need to not be always available to them. I should voice my opinions more and take my leave when I know that I am drained as opposed to when I think they want me gone. They had become as dependent on me as I was on them. This had served us well recently, but now we want bigger returns on our growth journey and this is the next step.

It is not meant to be sad, it is meant to be expansive. This is what can get us to our next level of success and enlightenment. We have filled out trivial pursuit pie hearts with our pieces to an overflow capacity. Yet, there are still empty spots waiting to be filled with the contributions of others. We can’t do that for one another.

Because of the love I was feeling from everyone, and the increasing amount of a-ha moments, I have to tell you that I felt very little pain from my infusion. Even yesterday I felt great. And, as a big surprise, I got another visit from my whole family. Unannounced, they showed up to check on me and we even went out for dinner. I can’t tell you the last time that happened. Instead of feeling put out, I really enjoyed it. I even let my father drive my car for the first time. Not because I wouldn’t let him drive it, but because in a round about way he asked to.

It gives me hope that new beginnings are starting. The hierarchy and false pretenses of the past may be finally falling away. Maybe this whole cancer journey was just a catalyst to make these important life changes, a huge moment to stop the crazy spinning of what we perceive life is (work, work, and little play) and focus on our truth, our love, and our path.

Lesson from Ina

Ina is the super sweet and amazing canine that is owned by Alex and Max. I was with Alex on the day that Ina came into our lives. She is the cutest ginger color Labrador you can imagine. Although I never really thought I would like big dogs, she has always been a pal of mine. I consider her like my own.

Yesterday, Ina taught me a very powerful lesson.

She has recently been super stoked to take car rides. Sure, every dog likes them, but Alex and Max have been making a habit of giving her one a day. You can tell that she really LIVES for these rides. It doesn’t matter if she didn’t get outside to play as much as she liked, or if the house cats were getting annoying, one of these rides just put her on the highest of vibrational disks.

How do I know? I often have the benefit of sitting next to her in the back seat. When she is allowed to come with us, she immediately jumps in and takes her usual seat. This is actually my seat, but I give it to her because it is the only back window that opens. Alex cracks the window open, and she shoves her face out.

As we roll out, her head is held high. Her eyes are wide open. Her ears are tossed back and she winces as the cool breeze travels through her whiskers. She soaks in every house, every person, and every car. Her energy just reads inexplicably happy and I find myself enjoying every minute of watching her.

When it gets to be a little chilly, she will lie down on the back seat and rest her noise in my lap. She is not anxious. She relaxes as I rub her back and collects the warmth. Once she is ready, she sits up and takes up her old post. She is never concerned that the joy she feels from being in the window is going to go away. She laps it up, as much as she can, until she can’t take it anymore. After her short respite, she regains her strength and goes back to her favorite activity. There is no discomfort or fear.

I have observed this pattern for months. Last night, we made a quick stop. Alex and Max went in to get some groceries and I hung out with Ina in the car. Once the boys left the car, Ina’s energy changed. Her eyes became concerned and she was no longer content to hang out in her seat.

Yes, she knew that Alex and Max were getting food, but this seemed more metaphysical.

Alex and Max constantly give unconditional love to Ina, and her in return. They eat, sleep, work, and play together. They are best buddies. The fact that Alex and Max understand that these rides put her in her highest vibrational self only adds to the joy and love.

Like Ina, Alex and Max represent a similar relationship for me.

As I observed Ina in their absence, she became disconnected from that source energy she was so connected to only moments before. Even though I was there, and she loved and trusted me, the absence of their attention dramatically took her off her highflying disk. Knowing that I didn’t represent the same to her as they did, I began to feel a little inadequate. I felt my energy slip as my worthiness to her did. Luckily, I was able to take myself out of the situation to make some observations.

How often have I had such a good time with Alex and Max that I didn’t want to see them go? Knowing that we can’t be together all the time, how often have I also felt distraught when I detected their distance? Sometimes even knowing that they are going to come back is not enough to soothe the feeling of lose that we are observing. The ability to self-soothe comes into question. Can I be distracted enough to pass the time? Can I find in me enough worth to ride the storm in the absence of what I want?

I reflected on the strangeness of the predicament. No Reader’s Digest type magazine talks about these kinds of families or relationships. I have actually been told that if I wanted to get married to a guy that I had to give up the gays. I have always known that our relationship goes beyond these trivial titles and roles.

I continued to watch Ina’s nervous energy. She was curled up on the front seat, desperately searching for her loves. I continued to feel a sense of lack. I was there, ready to love her and shed attention on her but she couldn’t receive it. She was so focused on the lack, that she couldn’t receive the warmth of my love.

I can understand how my relationship with Alex and Max can impede a personal and intimate relationship of my own.  When I think of the type of relationship I want, I know I want one like Alex and Max’s. It is a partnership of two equals. They are best friends. They love unconditionally and communicate frequently. They trust and respect one another to tell the truth, even when it hurts. They are each other’s cheerleader. They got each other’s back equivocally. They share many interests and genuinely enjoy each other’s company.

I feel swept up in their love of each other, and in their love of me. I know that Ina knows exactly how this feels.

In order for me to find this other, I am going to have to be able to release my fear of losing my relationship with Alex and Max. I have to trust that when we can’t be together, we are really not that far apart. I have to know that our individual expansion is our collective expansion. I need to trust that I can be vulnerable with someone who has earned the right to deeply see me and not feel like it has to distract or pinch off another relationship that I treasure so thoroughly.

Honestly, I felt so filled up by the love I got from the boys that I realized after surgery that if I didn’t experience it with anyone else that it would still be enough. The difference now is that I know that there is way more of that love available for me, just in another package. It is the kind of love that creates universes. It is accessible and available to me at any time. There is no need to fear the lack of any of it.

What I do need to do is recognize that I too often forget this power and my worth. I cower in the car, waiting for my peeps to return in order to remind me of my connection to source. I ignore others who are dying to love me for fear of cheating on this sacred bond. The pain of loving someone who is inhibited by these things is too much to make a real relationship work.

I thanked Ina for such a valuable life lesson. When Alex and Max returned, we got back on the road and Ina gleefully returned to her bliss. She was so fulfilled that she passed out once we got home in glorious splendor, bathed in the security and love of her family pack.

Leave it to a dog to demonstrate how we should live and love.