Back to Peace

This week I struggled in a way that feels foreign to me. I couldn’t find grounding. Monday I took a leave of absence from my job and drove to Florida. It was a hard four days there. I kept coming out of my skin. And yet, I kept reminding myself to be. “Be in this moment. Allow for the discomfort and just be without judgment.”

I did. I have. Sometimes failing miserably. I kept returning to years ago when I had several children with severe mental health issues all under one roof. I forgot a lot of it. Until this week.

Tuesday I spent part of the day with my daughter supporting her as she lost another child. I sat in gratitude that the baby never went home with her. I sat in the knowing that the baby is safe. I sat. That’s all I did with her was sit.

My daughter was happy, initially, knowing I was on my way. And then that moment was clouded by the reality that I was on my way which meant she was going to have to own up to her stuff. Or not!

The navigation of it all is daunting. I had forgotten how difficult it is with her. I know nothing. I am having to keep my little one, her first daughter, away from her…leaving her with my mother in-law as I moved into another compartmentalized mode. It all becomes a massive puzzle of what I can and cannot do moment by moment with my daughter. She’s an adult. A stubborn one. She’s dangerous in the way her mind works.

Tuesday was f*cking hard! It wasn’t just witnessing her lack of mental capacity to understand it all. It was the legalities and feeling through the sadness. It was the attitude she carries as if she’s owed something and in no way holds herself accountable. She is nasty and vicious and hurtful. And she hurts because she’s hurt. Her demeanor is one of the most challenging ones I’ve ever encountered.

By the time the afternoon rolled around I was exhausted. I drove back to my in-laws sobbing in the car. I had my guard up for a few hours and I felt I had depleted all of me. She refuses help. She rather be homeless. She refuses assistance for her mental health. She won’t get on birth control. And I know all of this well. I see it in my job. But, shit, when it’s your own kid it tears every fiber inside. I love her. I love her so much and because of that love I have to stay away from her. She will shred that love and use it to manipulate in order to get whatever she feels she deserves.

I am reminded of her strength and determination. I am reminded of mine. No matter what I say it’s not sufficient. And that’s okay. This is her journey. We all have one.

It’s a lot. It’s too much. The energy choked me but I allowed for my spiritual truth to guide us both. My emotions are still surfing sacred water this weekend. I am lead by divinity. I am lead by love.

It will be alright. Both new babies are safe. She will continue to do what she does. I must be a tower of certainty and responsibility while she navigates through her own mind of chaos. She will figure it out in her own manner: A mind that will never see the world the same way most people see it.

All I am asked to do is just be in this moment. Everyday. I returned home last night. A twelve hour drive with a four year old is always challenging. She did great. And my heart today is tender but I’m home. I’m at ease and I’m back to peace.

May you find peace within as well!

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Help the World Through Love

I was taught about the depth of acceptance this weekend. My daughter gave birth to a baby girl on Saturday. The baby is healthy. She will be going into a loving and safe environment. Along her side was a woman I am blessed has come into her life to guide her. She’s helping navigate the roller coaster of emotions. She’s a true earth angel.

My daughter has brokenness in places I pray will heal. Her inability to see things, due to mental disabilities, is heart wrenching to witness. And yet, she is my daughter. She is my heart. The baby was born a day after her 28th birthday. I am grateful for that. I cannot imagine her spending a lifetime celebrating her birthday with a child she had to give to another to raise.

I was blessed to be given moment by moment messages and conversations as she birthed her. Even many miles away I was there holding her hand and her heart. I pray she gets birth control and we stop the madness. She knows no one can force her do anything. It’s a control mechanism that even with my psych degree I cannot comprehend.

A few days before giving birth she begged me to take the new child in with the other two. I told her I couldn’t. I begged her to make responsible choices. The new baby will go to a loving family who has enriched me with compassionate gifts in love. Those lessons are magnificent.

This week I lifted my daughter with sweet kindness, letting her know she was strong; that she was a fighter; that these children were gifts to the world; that in each of those little souls she lives forever. I asked her to be gentle with herself. I asked her to please be mindful…and other intimate conversations that I’m sure she has already forgotten. Regardless of the words sinking in or not, I will continue to show love.

But somethings do stick. Every so often, in her limited capacity to converse, she shares a snippet of words I’ve said to her in the past. My heart skips a beat. I actually do a bit of a happy dance. I get an aha moment and pray more sticks.

I am her mother. She disappears for a bit and returns to me to let me know I have been her mother since she was 9 years old. She tells me that no one else has ever loved her like me. That’s huge! For her and for me. I take it in and accept it. I will continue to love her for however long love lives in me.

People have judged her due to her irresponsible acts…her choices. And I remind them that she’s human. She has her journey. She’s not a monster. We can dislike her choices but she is still my daughter and I will continue to love her in spite of it all. She is mentally ill. She is navigating in the capacity of her own awareness. If I rejected every mentally ill person I wouldn’t have a job. She deserves the same love a person who is mentally healthy receives. The lessons in true love are not in loving the easy ones. The true experiences are in accepting and loving the difficult ones. Those are the biggest teachers in our path.

Be kind to those who are suffering. Be loving to the addicts, the lost, the homeless, and those who don’t fit in your spectrum of what is normal. You don’t have to fix them. You just have to be loving. The world has so much hate. We do not need to keep fueling it with fear, anger, discrimination, and lower frequencies.

And…ultimately… show up and be in the presence of those who need a little light. Your heart will expand even wider. You have the capacity to transform another by accepting them. I love you. ~m.a.p.

Open Heart

And there…in the school parking lot I broke. The flood gates opened. I sobbed. I was overcome by grief and anger like I hadn’t in a long time. Frustration hit my core and I felt my heart being pulled in every direction. For hours, since early morning, I had been fighting a migraine. I rarely get them. I had taken plenty of Tylenol but it had been nagging and I knew there was an underlined monster coming to visit. There, in an empty church lot, about to drop my kiddo at daycare, I allowed it all to come undone. 

Her silence broke eventually. “What’s wrong, Mama?”

“I’m sad and angry!” I said softly in between deep inhales and exhales.

“For my baby brother?”

“Part of it. Other parts too!” I kept seeing flashes of my daughter, Kali’s mother, doing what she’s not suppose to do. The anger kept pushing through and I stopped myself from it all until I could get Kali in school and I could leave. 

“I’m sorry, Mama. It’s gonna be okay!” She said from her car seat.  I got out, unbuckled her, and she gave me a giant tight hug. I stood there, her legs wrapped around my torso, holding my daughter’s daughter. Holding a precious gift she gave me and another one about to arrive into our arms. There, I stood holding my lifeline and hers while she kissed my cheeks. My heart grew wider. This parenting business is not easy…ever. 

“I’m gonna be okay, Kali Bug. I am having a bad morning. That’s all.” I looked at her. Her own eyes filled with tears. She feels hard. She knows beyond her years. But, she doesn’t really know the sorrow of her past, or how her birth mother is mentally ill and has intellectual disabilities; how I adopted her mother from a Romanian orphanage at the age of 9; how her mother won’t rationalize or understand the trail of damage she keeps leaving behind. She gives birth to a third child this week. She turns 28 on Friday. Kali doesn’t know of any other mama. She only sees me. She only understands our love…and that she has a new baby brother arriving soon. She doesn’t ask where he’s from. She doesn’t care. 

She only knows love. Her life is fully integrated with it. We make sure of it…every single day.

“I know, Mama. You always okay.” She gave me a thumb’s up. I dropped her and she waited by the glass door until I threw kisses before getting in the car. We do this every single morning. She counts to see how fast I am until I get out to the car and then I throw kisses with my hands and she catches them from inside. Today I threw my heart at her…and she caught in for safe landing. And, that’s all I needed her to do.

Gifts of Love

tutus

I have been an avid student of all my children. Each one has taught me something I didn’t know I had in me, imagined I could do, would want to do, and so much more. My middle daughter’s mental challenges changed me. Her bipolar disorder also enriched my perceptions. I have been turned upside down, right-side up, yet enlightened in ways I can never express. Living with mental illness is a day to day wave and all you can do is surf it without restraints or expectations. When she arrived into my life at the age of 9 from Romania, I knew my life would never be the same. I have witnessed tenacity, perseverance, disorder, disarrangement, and complexity in myself. Our mirrors have reflected personal issues that I wouldn’t have addressed at other times in my life. I have been pushed to learn things of the human spirit I didn’t even know existed. She has taught me the meaning of unconditional love, surrendering, acceptance, forgiveness, grace and patience. I am not a patient person and she has been the button-pusher of constant reminding how much I can tolerate. I am always shocked by how much I can endure and where the lines are drawn.

My daughter, in her struggle for understanding while living with severe anger and mental disorders, has gifted me with the most precious experience of all. She has given me a child, my granddaughter, to raise again as a child of my own. I hope this seventh child will make the rest of this journey magical. This little girl has reshaped my reality. She has allowed me to throw all plans out the door. My daughter is very present inside of this little girl and I marvel at the preciousness of another generation teaching me more about life and myself. I am aware at this love that I wasn’t expecting in this time in middle years.

The mind is our most priceless commodity. It creates, modifies, regenerates, releases, and forces us to see past the boundaries of time and space. My daughter has taught me to love fiercely in a way that I didn’t know was available. She is not capable of understanding many of the issues that created the loss of permanency for raising her daughter. Her dissociative identity disorder does not permit her mind to see normalcy and stability. She will forever be stuck at 13 years of age. The older she gets the more noticeable it becomes. But, she’s taught me to see the exceptions to all the rules.

Recently while I held this two year old in my lap I told her what I say every day, “I love you, sweetheart.” She immediately responded as a matter of fact, “I know.”

My husband and I laughed out loud and she returned the giggles in exaggerated form. She has brought tremendous light into our home. I am grateful for this journey. I never imagined it in a million years. There are days I don’t think I will survive another childhood but then love is seen through the eyes of a sweet baby girl and I know that God is staring right at me. Who else is gonna join me to dance with tutus and tiaras? Who else will sit and listen to fairy tales and stories of unicorns and wizards? This journey is a pure gift of love!

Getting Lost

lost 3

This morning on the way back from visiting a community college, my daughter and I got lost in the back roads.  She doesn’t do well with adventures, especially after stressing over college paperwork.  I, on the other hand, while the grandbaby slept peacefully in her car seat, dove into the possibilities of finding a new place, exploring my surroundings, and prayed I didn’t run out of gas.  I get lost often.  Things get lost.  Words get lost.  People get lost.  Life can become a lost playground if we aren’t present for the most part.  Each day gets lost into night and so on.  The hardest part of “lost” is never truly expressing it to someone.  When a relationship is over (regardless if it’s of lovers, parents, children, or friends) there is a lapse of time that can mend and then there isn’t.  Waiting for the perfect opportunity is like waiting for a unicorn to swift us away.  It only happens in the mind.

I used to have an amazing sense of direction.  I don’t anymore.  I go into a new trail, a mountain hike, and if I am not consciously present I will find myself in the middle of unchartered territory. Just like this morning, it happens often.  I rarely question the wrong turn.  I somehow know that I will get through the moment.  My daughter said, “Mom, do you know where you are going? (Several times with much expressed anxiety). And, I answered, “Nope…but all roads lead somewhere!” Not an answer that securely assures a fearful person. Complete exasperation came from the passenger side.  What I have found is that in those lost moments I get the chance to enter a new direction.  Beauty unfolds because I am not on track.  Getting lost is never a waste of time in this sense.  The unknown unfolds and opportunities arise in the most awed-stricken ways.  It’s magical and mysterious.  What an amazing ride!

Sometimes losing someone is just like that…you don’t know how amazing they are until you are in a different terrain.  We take people for granted.  We, as divine entities, have those awakening moments of appreciation but the human part of us clouds them.  We don’t know our asses from our heads at times.  My best friend, Bobbie, has a saying, “Get your head out of your ass.  It wasn’t meant to be worn as a hat.”  Getting lost in the world is magical.  Getting lost in our own turmoil, chaos and mind is a dangerous place.  We are our worst enemies.

I have a way of learning.  I need space, nature and time.  I need to be outside and roam endlessly in the freedom of the world.  This is why I love traveling.  I have on a bucket list the places I will visit and explore in order to find me.  With each journey I know something will open up.  Getting lost is not scary (not in my absent-minded little head).  I am not daunted by this and have never been.  I am, however, intimidated by the loss of people who I love and mean the world to me.  I am perplexed at the way folks come into my life and quickly manage to leave without clearing up issues.  This type of loss from humanity aches inside in a way I avoid…but can’t escape.  We all go through it.

An hour later, and many mountain back roads, we found the way home.  Now hungry and aggravated, my 18 year old laughs.  She said, “I wasn’t really worried!  I was just concerned that we would run out of gas or wouldn’t find a place to eat.” (As if we were on an isolated island with Tom Hanks and Wilson).   I know she thinks that I am an airy-fairy hippie.  I get lost in our conversations, laughter, and love.  She knows this part of me well enough to feel that I can get us back on track while singing (horribly) to the great radio tunes.  It was a gorgeous morning.  The haze over the Blue Ridge Mountains was astonishing and seductive.  I kept saying that “as long as I follow the mountains I know we can make it home.”  And, just like that I found home to be right there in the car surrounded by two beautiful souls, bemused by my yearning to be an explorer.  Getting lost never felt so great!

Love Like Water

lovelikewater

Reading my daily meditation book, Mark Nepo writes, “Only love, with no thought of return, can soften the point of suffering.” This little sentence allowed the release of some deep seeded tears this morning. I’ve been waiting. I’ve waited all week for some kind of major emotional surrender. This morning, before light casted over darkness, the soft tears rolled down caressing my face. With them they left a trail of confirmation: I have done all I needed to do as a parent. I’ve done what I could do under the circumstances. The rest is up to God.
Love has a way of erasing the deepest level of suffering. It also has a way of releasing. Many times we believe that the love part is what causes the pain in the first place. We carry the erroneous idea that “if I wasn’t so loving I wouldn’t be so hurt; if I turn away and was out of sight it wouldn’t be happening this way.” I believe the love part is what allows the humanness to surrender and divinity to make us whole. What causes pain is the insistence of trying to control another into what you feel is right for them. It is all a magic trick, an illusion, of the times and how we’ve been programmed to believe. We have little control of anything. But, we like to pretend that we do!
As I hold my book while drinking my coffee I continue to read his words: “Most things break instead of transform because they resist. The quiet miracle of love is that without our interference, it, like water, accepts whatever is tossed or dropped or placed into it, embracing it completely.” Ah! A deep sigh for these words echoing from the page.
My daughter has a decision to make today. She was given two choices yesterday that will be determined of how she lives this new journey away from abuse. In her lack of mental capacity to reason or logically analyze she will pick the one she feels is best for her. It’s up to her. She will carry with her the baby girl that has been a light in our home for a week and a half. This business of being a parent doesn’t get easier, but it is never boring. Love is letting go. Love is allowing spirit to do what needs to be done for the higher betterment of all involved. I wholeheartedly believe this with every breath I take.
Love softens that entrance of all suffering while releasing the unknowns. There is no formula to an open heart.  It requires faith. It is made of grace, compassion and forgiveness. All we can do is love another and allow for the love to return however fit. This morning it is all I can continue to do…to love unconditionally without expectations. All I am called to do is love….
“The stuff in our lives doesn’t change. It is we who change in relation to it.” – Molly Vass

We are Small

Yesterday I was cleaning out my computer files.  And, in some forgotten corner of computer space this message came out onto the screen.  My daughter, now about to turn 17, has a way of teaching me so much with her vibrant and funny personality.  As I read this entry I was taken back to that night that she shared this with me.  It is so wonderful when God reminds us through a lost file that we are small but so significant!  Enjoy:

November 19, 2005

Last night we went to the mall and while there we ate.  My little, Angelica (10 years old) out of nowhere broke into conversation explaining her favorite day in her life.  She has a habit of busting out of nowhere talking about things completely different from what we are discussing at the moment.  She speaks as her mind wishes.  She began by telling me that this favorite day was last year at her friend Victoria’s sixth birthday:

“My bestest day ever was last year at Victoria’s birthday party.  We were in her backyard laying on the grass looking at the stars and everything was so peaceful.  We took out flashlights and pointed them to the sky and the light never reached.  It was incredible.  I was so blown away.”

“What was so special about that?”  I asked, perhaps a little too cynical because I just couldn’t see where she was going with this.

“Mom, everything seemed so big but the stars were bright and so far.  It made me think about how tiny and very small we are on this world.  It made me think about how God must be so big to take care of so many things at a time.  I mean, can you imagine the job He has trying to take care of people, animals and the earth?  That’s a lot for Him. We are like little ants when He looks down from Heaven.  I just think it is weird that we are so small and He still thinks of each one of us, especially when we pray to Him.”

“And that night was really special to you?”  I asked again, dumbfounded by her energy while she spoke and nodded and her olive-green eyes flickered in delight as she dug into her fries.  The excitement of this conversation was all over her.  She just smiled and continued talking.

“Mom, we are so small aren’t we?  It is such a miracle to live in such a huge place with so many pretty things.  Don’t you think it’s incredible that God has to be watching people and the universe too?”

“It is incredible.  It is amazing that you get it at such a young age.  Never, ever, ever forget it.”

She nodded in assurance, “I can’t, I mean I won’t, cause it was the best day of my life.”
_______________________________________________________________
So with this I came home, inspired to write the following poem:

We are Small

Among a blanket of stars
we lay upon His requests,
blown away by magnitude,
by the mere joy
of knowing we are alive
because of something

bigger than us.
We are small,
and at times smaller
than the tiniest organism
when our faith vanishes.
So many questions come and go
in disregard
because we are not puppets

 

or little ants walking around,

but souls that live to learn,
and learn to live by wonder
in this vast universe.
We are just like stars:
shinning light from the
reflection of Heaven

making miracles
in each passing breath.

We are the angels on earth…we are divine.