Episode 24: Why Choose Pain




Why Choose Pain

Renegades, how are you my sweet sweet quarantined lovelies? Personally, I’m doing good… Despite everything going on, life here with my kids, my dogs and Pinkus - my family is wonderful. We cannot complain. But that doesn’t mean I won’t- kidding. You know I aim for conscious complaining.

Rather than complaining, I’m doing the thing where I’m trying to analyze all the information and then I call Laurel and dump it on her…Turns out you should ask your friends if that’s okay to do, first. You could freak them out or fuck up their mood. Much like complaining. Ask for 15 and make it conscious then shut the fuck up.

If your friends don’t want to hear you you can do the alternative, give yourself an allotted amount of time to think the thoughts. Or air them on a podcast. Like I’m about to do…

I allow myself to think ALL the thoughts like -what the fuck is happening right now… what part of the movie am I in?

Wait. Are the voices coming from inside the house?

And do we think Adam McKay has started working on the documentary? I can’t fucking wait to see the documentaries about this.

I talk to people and hear about who they chose to quarantine aka align with. Yes align. (did anyone considering choosing this??!)

  • one guy told me that he and his wife made a pact with a couple of friends, one of which, has a boat. They are feeling good about this decision. They get together and play games and cook a couple of times a week…

  • It made me realize I didn’t even consider a strategy... I just assumed it would be my family. To think, I could have actually potentially included more people,.. maybe not included my kids. Could you imagine. Sorry you guys. I know, I know, I”m your mom, but I have to be realistic- I need my friends during a time like this. NOW THAT WOULD BE COLD BLOODED. Next time, I’m going to make sure I have someone to have sex with AND more Clorox wipes. I’m more prepared mentally now.

  • Lesson learned. I know I need to be more calculated, strategic.

Anyway, that’s just some of my brain on corona. The other part of my brain has been starting and stopping podcast episodes like you wouldn’t believe. There are no less than 5 drafts on my computer… I have had several topics I wanted to talk about- coach on- if you will- but try as I might, I couldn’t get into a flow…

I was thinking back to February / March when I was grieving becoming an empty nester.

I experienced an entire grieving process over not having my kids home for our weekly family dinners, them going out on there own and now, now we are having 3 meals and 2 snacks a day together. We are one another’s only friend group. We are spending all the time together- empty nesting is something that is not in the foreseeable future.

I may have been a little bit premature to grieve that…

Sometimes I think the universe or God (whatever you call your higher power) has a funny way of making you aware of these things. God’s like, oh your sad because your kids are growing up and you are all alone now- here. Here you go. You get them 24/7.

It reminded me to stop wishing for things to be different than they are. To allow for the plan- because there is a bigger plan and I’m not interested in fucking with whatever the plans are.

I have enough evidence to prove that I don’t always know what’s best. Shocking. I know.

I don’t know anyone who isn’t experiencing some form of uncertainty, grief, fear sadness or a general anxiety right now; People are consumed with worry. The uncertainty has our brain working in overdrive. Some of you have had pay cuts, you’re working from home- homeschooling, your schedule -a complete 180 - and it’s overwhelming.

The plans we had have been stripped away leaving some grieving for the things we won’t have- morning the losses.

Some are still hanging on, arguing with reality, refusing to accept the current circumstances.

And some who just sort of checked out when we went on lockdown.

Which brings me to todays episode; Being part of this experience and observing myself emotionally, has reminded me of 2 similar experiences I had with my first husband; Our divorce and his death.

Today marks 12 years since he passed. I’m sure that has something to do with me drawing the parallels.

The main difference is that I’m fully here for the pandemic, quarantine and economic shutdown situation we are in. I’m riding all the waves and feelings that are coming up. It can feel a little manic at times. ! There are some days that I’m like, I’m not experienced enough for this wave… it’s to big. Are you fucking crazy? Then there are other days when it’s flat and I have the urge to paddle in and go look for another spot, but I stay. I wait. Then there are the days when the waves are choppy. I want to complain- but I don’t. I’m just riding the waves.

This was not my experience after my divorce or when Chris died. That was more like paddling out while a massive set rolling in during a storm- and then trying to bail but it’s too late. you get wrecked. You’re underwater and you don’t know what direction is up. Or like the end scene of Point Break with Patrick Swayze and baby Keanu. Calling it.

I”m going to share with you today a little bit about what I went through when I got divorced and after Chris died and I’m just letting you know; I’ll probably cry. My feelings are fever pitch these days. If you are not in the mood for sad - I totally get it. But I do believe there is a message here that could be useful.

Let’s start with Part 1: Divorce.

Was anyone else too optimistic about their divorce? I think I might have been- maybe I wasn’t being realistic…but I assumed that we would still be friends after not that I would be emotionally stopped in my tracks. I had never imagined the man I married, the father of my children being so enraged that he would lash out for a year and a half in the most unpredictable crazy ways.

nor did I ever imagine that I would become a person who would freeze in fear. That I would be so overcome with feelings of being trapped and controlled. Or that I would believe the most awful things this person would tell me about myself. That I would become frozen unable to comprehend what to do.

I never knew what to expect or what he would do next.

And try as I might, every encounter with him would backfire. My friends, family - our community, witnessed what was happening in total disbelief and yet there was nothing I could do. Someone recommended I start recording all our calls so I could document his behavior… save all the letters and emails he was sending me.

It was like a part time job.

I will state for the record, that upon reflection and review of my actions I can totally see why he lost his mind, but his actions were still totally unacceptable. I just don’t want everyone thinking that it’s the usual story of an ex wife talking shit about her ex husband who is dead and can’t defend himself. I know I’m not perfect. HOWEVER. This is my side of my emotional experience.

The truth is, I looked into restraining orders, I had even considered the possibility that I would have to leave maui and live on the mainland without my kids. I had never felt so hopeless in my life. I I had told one of my best friends that I wouldn’t care if he died. That the only way out was if one of us died…

Knowing what I know now, I can honestly say I was in a state of trauma and locked in fear.

But then one day, in March of 2008 Chris called. He wanted to talk about arranging picking up our son Nick from my place on my scheduled nights to take him to baseball practice-he was going to be coaching the team. It was the first time since our divorce that we were working outside the pre-arranged schedule.working together at all.

I was cautious, but there was a change in his tone and behavior that suggested maybe, just maybe he was genuinely interested in working together as parents.

Over the next few weeks we started communicating again- I was in shock to be honest. We were discussing what we wanted for the kids, how we could co-parent, discussed the possibilities of moving to the mainland. I felt like I could breathe for the first time. That life was actually taking a turn… I told Ryan, my boyfriend and future husband, I think we might actually all have Thanksgiving together! For some reason, I was convinced that if we could all sit down for dinners and holidays we were doing it right.

A few weeks later, the night before Chris had a stroke, we were all together for Nick’s first baseball game. Some of our close friends came down. People were shocked to see Chris and I talking and laughing… of Ryan, who was a photographer, taking pictures of that evening, one in particular is Chris putting Nicks catcher gear on him, the photo is focused on Nick, chris faded in the background.

The evening was more than perfect.

That next morning, Ryan woke me up from nightmare - I was crying hysterically in my sleep. He held me while I told him about my dream… I was in my parking lot, it was dark with the exception of the street lamps and as I was loading my road bike into the back of my truck when this man with a beard in a long robe came up to me with his arms open - I asked him what he was doing and he said, I just want to give you a hug-

Completely freaked out, I said, I don’t know you. Please get away from me.

He replied; everyone knows me here.

I looked around my parking lot, and saw my neighbors walking around, they began awkwardly waving to him. The imagery looked like it was out of the music video Black Hole Sun by Sound Garden. It was weird. I looked to my condo and saw the light on - I thought if I scream someone will save me but I couldn’t.

I climbed into the bed of my truck and tears flowed down my face as he stood in front of me with his arms extended saying , it’s going to be okay, I just want to hug you.

Ryan and I both had plans to meet up with people that morning and were now late. I quickly got out the door and loaded my road bike into my truck and drove across town to meet my friend for a 20 mile ride while Ryan went the opposite direction to surf.

I was totally shook up and distracted by my dream while my friend and I got our bikes ready…Once we were riding, I felt myself settle in… It was early and the air was cool. I happened to look down at my handler bars where my phone was mounted and noticed a missed call from Chris-, I thought, that’s odd… he must need something for the kids. I pulled over on the highway to call him back. With my bike between my legs, traffic flying by on my left and the waves crashing on my right

I listened to him as he told me

wasn’t feeling well and was wondering if I would come get the kids and take them to school-

I said, sure, but I was on my bike and would need 20-30 minutes to get back.

He said no baby, you don’t understand.

I’m not okay.

His voice. His words. I knew then he was wasn’t okay. My thoughts went straight to my babies…

I asked him where nick was- who was 7 at the time. He said right here- I asked him to put him on the phone.

I said Nick, baby I need you to be a big right now, okay?

Momma, is my daddy dying. I said no.. no , just listen. The ambulance is going to come and you need to let them in. And when your sister wakes up please get her.

I’ll be right there, okay?

Okay.

okay. Now let me talk to your dad.

Chris got back on the phone and I told him to call 911 and his brother- that I was going to call Ryan to head over as well.

He said, okay.

I raced back to my truck and headed their direction. Of course traffic was doing what traffic always does in the morning - I couldn’t believe I was stuck in traffic . The entire time I thought, Is this really happening.

Finally, I made it to my exit and as I went to make my right turn the ambulance with Chris passed me and went left. Time slowed down as I watched the van pass me and I thought,

is this our story? Is this how it ends for us??

I couldn’t believe my eyes- but at the same time I was entirely focused on my kids - their wellbeing- and I couldn’t think about anything else other than them and making sure they were okay. When I pulled up to my old house the kids came running out into the driveway. They told me about the ambulance and their dad- I looked at Ryan, at Chris’s brother and his wife in total disbelief, but then something came over me.

In that moment I heard my voice, not my usual thinking all the thoughts voice- but a very clear voice that said to me: we move forward until we are told not to.

What happened to me over the next 24 hours is almost indescribable. I was moved by something greater than me. God, the universe, consciousness. Whatever you want to call it. It was guiding me.

I thought it best to send the kids to school and only mention what had happened to a few of our closest friends until we knew more.

I called and told chris’s best friend Dan - he and his wife were our couple friends who we traveled with shared holidays- you know the sort. After the divorce my relationship with them was strained to say the least, you’d never known any of that during this call…Dan headed to the hospital to be with Chris right after we hung up.

I spoke with my dad, his words to this day I’ve not forgotten; death is knocking on the door honey. I’m sorry this is happening to you all- Chris is a good man, I hope I get to shake his hand when I come out in a few weeks.

Nothing seemed real. Time no longer existed the way it did. When I finally heard from the hospital and was able to talk to Chris the confirmed he had had a stroke, but was stabilized. I asked him if I could bring the kids over to see him. He insisted that the kids couldn’t see him like this; with all the tubes, drugged up… I insisted that it was no trouble - that we would be on the other side near the hospital that evening to get a kitten and we could just drop in for hugs and kisses. That they would just want to see their dad regardless of all that…. He said no.

I said, if you change your mind let me know. I’ll call you in a bit.

Nick and Faith spoke with their dad that afternoon after school. Asking him about the ambulance. The hospital. Words and sentences that sounded so innocent out of their mouths, yet had a new meaning in my mind.

A few hours later, we were at the humane society playing with kittens trying to decide which one we would be brining home… this was something we had already planned on doing and like I said, I was moving forward until I was told not to.

While we were finalizing the paperwork, my phone rang. It was Joanne, Dan’s wife. I thought, maybe she’s just checking in… if she calls back, I’ll take it. I sent it to voicemail.

She called right back.

I walked outside into the parking lot and listened to her tell me that Chris had another stroke but that this one was massive- and as I looked around this dark parking lot, I thought oh my god, I could feel the tears starting streaming down my face. I looked up to see the street light and found myself glancing around- and it all felt so familiar - I knew it from my dream. That man trying to comfort me - I knew right then and there he was going to die.

I had Ryan drop me off at the hospital and take the kids along with our new kitten home. I had to be with Chris. When I entered the hospital room he was lying there, induced in a coma to prevent further mini strokes from happening- he looked so peaceful. I held his hand and whispered how much I loved him, how much our babies loved him promised him that no matter what- I would honor him and his legacy as a father; because regardless of the fact that this man was the worst ex husband the first year of our divorce, he was the worlds best father. There wasn’t a person who knew him that didn’t think that.

Over the next 6 hours we waited while they tried performing a surgery to reduce the swelling and remove the clots. This is when they discovered that one of Chris’s arteries in his neck never fully matured and that the other artery was over compensating - doing a majority of the work… that had he not been as active and healthy as he was, he wouldn’t have lived as long as he did… that there was nothing that could be done.

The doctors still needed to wait and see what would happen over the next few hours… I went home around 5in the morning, and laid in bed. I couldn’t sleep. I didn’t know what I was going to tell my kids or how I was going to hide what I knew to be true, when it was written all over my face.

But I continued moving forward.

I got the kids ready for school, informed their teachers and staff of the situation.

People in the community started to hear and were showing up with food, some were calling - unbeknownst at at the time, my phone wasn’t receiving all calls- truly a blessing because I didn’t know what to say to anyone.

I cleaned my house.

I laid down to close my eyes- there was a sort of exhaustion I was experiencing but I didn’t sleep… I felt out my body and mind- I can’t tell you how long that moment lasted, but the voice that said we move forward until we are told not to, told me to go be with my children.

I shot out of bed and told Ryan he had to get my to my children right away. I called the school and requested that they bring them out front so I could be with them and take them home.

As soon as we pulled up my phone rang- it was chris’s brother. I looked at my babies as I listened to him tell me that there was nothing else they could do; that he had been having mini strokes despite being in an induced coma and that his brain would never recover.

I hung up the phone and held my kids on the sidewalk outside their school. How do a 4 and 7 year old comprehend the news that their dad has died? That the life they thought they had, one with a dad, was no longer their life?

Their plans were canceled. Their futures totally unknown.

I had spent the last 24 hours being guided by something greater than me- I felt Chris the entire time- I knew before the call came that is was over.

but hearing the words that he died put me right back in my body and mind. The unknown- now known. If only we as humans could process things on a spiritual level-without our brains-

Thoughts about how it couldn’t be a coincidence that we came together the way we did over the last 6 weeks. That something greater did that- and how fucking grateful I felt because I became so keenly aware of how petty - and childish we had become- that none of that mattered at the end of the day. The schedules the money the contracts the words.

He was hurt. And God did I do some incredibly selfish shit that provoked him- his anger.

How could I have been so childish…

I can’t believe I said I wouldn’t care if he died… how fucking horrible. Never have I been more wrong in my life. Never have I been more humbled.

I couldn’t stop the thoughts. They came from every direction.

And this is why I’m talking about this.

Our world changed in an instance. What was, would never be again. Things would not go back to normal. There would be a new normal. And I had no idea what that looked like because this possibility - my children losing their father was never a consideration. It wasn’t in the plans.

There was absolutely nothing I could do.

Rather than allowing myself to feel our loss, sit in the uncertain - grieve for my the man who gave me my children, allow myself to feel humiliated for for how childish we were - I judged myself. Shamed myself. My brain went to town.

Emotionally,

I believed if I didn’t keep it together we wouldn’t make it. That there was no time to be sad or grieve - that it was my job to make sure we survived and I couldn’t be weak, I had to keep my shit together. There wasn’t any part of me that thought, I should talk to someone, get emotional support- I didn’t know what trauma was and even if I did, I imagine I would have argued that this wasn’t trauma…That this is life. It’s hard… get a helmet.

No one tells you that when white knuckle your way through pain, you miss the point.

Not to mention, and this is no different from the current situation a lot of us are facing today, one thing happens and it triggers a series of events that seem completely out of your control- things that are suddenly your problems. Problems you are not prepared for.

This is when I started to hit the escape button harder - faster-

I thought if we moved we could start over. No one would know our story. I was convinced that everything would be fine if I got married; my kids would have a dad - a family. It would be the happy ending we all needed to be okay.

I went from 0 to 60

I moved my family to Austin sight unseen.

Decided to open a lingerie store.

I got engaged

I thought I was doing everything I needed to. I got all the things in place so no one would miss what they had lost… I mean, miss the person, of course. But, not feel a void.

And yet, it wasn’t enough.

I felt like I was swimming up stream for years because of what had happened. I felt like no one could possibly understand what this was like, they’d never get it. How could they, even I didn’t get it.

3 years later my world started cracking around me;

It started with Ryan- I was convinced he wasn’t the man I should marry, but I had no choice. It was too late. I had to. Especially for my kids. They already lost one dad, I couldn’t take away another…

I was convinced that I was the only source of income and if Chris hadn’t fucked me over, I wouldn’t be in this position.

I found myself getting more angry and resentful the longer chris had been dead. I blamed him for us losing everything on maui- for taking my name off the life insurance policy and forcing me to have to deal with his family. For fucking me over financially. I was a total victim. I would have thoughts like, I bet you’re laughing about this from the grave. You’re actually getting the last laugh.

It never occurred to me that I was drinking to buffer. Or that the pills I was popping were a sign that maybe I wasn’t okay. Or that me having an affair was not my fault.

It is safe to say, that I blew my world up.

4 years after Chris died, spring of 2012 I found myself divorced for the 2nd time. My affair was being tweeted about. I didn’t know how I would make it. How I would take care of my kids by myself. Support us. I felt like dying. Like I might die if something didn’t give.

There is no playbook on how to grieve, but I can tell you for sure that trying to avoid it, is definitely not the solution. It will catch up to you.

I reached out for help.

This was the beginning of me trying to find my way back home. And it was painful,- Really dark and painful.

The kids and I started talking about their dad and his death, their experience with it, really for the first time.

I gave up drinking. Which was so necessary, but I was a bit disillusioned by this action. I thought, if I quite drinking my life will get better. Originally when I set out to heal, I believed my drinking was the problem. Listen it wasn’t helping, but it was only a symptom.

I have 5 years of no drinking and damn if that didn’t reveal some shit.

It turns out just because you give up sugar or sex or drinking you wont start feeling better. You actually start to feel worse because you will face every emotion you’ve been trying to avoid.

We think we can escape the feelings by drinking, eating, fucking, shopping- you can’t. You just postpone it. And unfortunately, you pile on more like hangovers, weight gain, credit card debt, shame…

you’re delaying the inevitable and you’re doing yourself a massive disservice.

It took me 10 years to surrender and to my world- to stop trying to make sense of Why chris passed and Why me/us? To start seeing the beauty and purpose in our loss.

I wouldn’t be the mother or woman I am today otherwise. The relationship I have with Nick and Faith is the way it is because of everything that happened. And I wouldn’t change that. We have the most beautiful life.

I can sympathize with feeling like you can’t handle the pain of grief and uncertainty. I hear you when you tell me that you want life to go back to normal - that you can’t handle working from home and homeschooling, that you don’t know what is going to happen and that you’re scared.

I want you to know that it’s okay to feel that way. I’m going to encourage you to feel all of it. We are in the river of suck, but it is temporary. Learning how to row row row your boat gently up the stream is our work right now.

To navigate these waters- yourself- as compassionately as you can.

I’ve been listening to Wayne Dyer of recent and He talks about how easy it is for us to practice patience when we know what’s going to happen. When we feel sure and certain about an outcome or our life we can let things go. It’s leaning into the unknown that can be really fucking uncomfortable. To practice faith when things are not going our way is what we need to learn. To be grateful for every little thing we still have.

When we know our outcomes. It gives us a sense of control and certainty. The greatest struggle we are facing is the idea that we had plans, we were suppose to be busy doing all the thing- and now we can’t. We felt safe in our jobs, salaries, schedules, routines. All of that has been stripped away and we are forced to just be. And yet we argue with reality, we think if we can get things back to the way they were, everything will be fine.

Cultivating trust and practicing gratitude will prevent you from becoming resentful and angry. It will ease the suffering and anxiety of what you are thinking might happen.

Earlier this year I attended a healing ceremony and received a bracelet that said SATA. It’s an acronym for surrender, allow trust accept. This has by my GPS since March 14th.

Just a moments surrender to your feelings to what is happening right now, will bring you a sense of peace even if just momentarily. You can loosen your grip a bit around the struggle and allow- and if you can trust- that no matter what the outcome is that you will be okay- accept it. You’re on the road my friends.

What if what is happening is happening for your greater good?

We will come out of this Renegades. And we will be better than ever. We have a real opportunity to grow and evolve emotionally. Don’t take the detour. Let’s move though this river of suck with grace, not force. When the waves seems too big, approach them with ease. You will learn to ride them - it takes practice. And they never last that long. You were made for this. I promise. And I want to thank you for listening to me today. Next week we will resume our normal not crying but coaching voice. In the meantime, I love you Renegades- sending you a tight energetic consensual hug from 6 ft away. 10 second hold. Love you