Too Strong. Too Scared - Chapter 9

    What happens when you have everything you need? What’s left? What comes next? I’ll tell you, death. Death comes next. Maybe not the next day, or decade, but death eventually comes, closing our eyes to the material of this world and guiding our drifting consciousness away into well, I’m not sure actually. I’ve learned that a large number of us are quite concerned about this experience none of us will escape - handing our precious bodies over to death. You telling me you never think about it? Let me tap into your psyche and I’m sure we’ll discover a different answer. I thought I wasn’t scared really until I recognized I was frozen in fear. A 35-year-old woman inside of my 40-year-old body all but panicking at my slow and steady approach to “happily ever after” just about stopped me in my pursuit of “joy after trauma”.

    You see, I’ve been truly happy in my life. I’ve also come close enough to death that I know it’s sensation against my body. I have kissed deaths fingers and bowed as death swaddled my wee babe and carried it’s spirit away. I have come alarmingly close to bliss. I enjoy the pride, celebration, and rewards of great value from my efforts at love, from my conviction to believe in good. Prior to getting pregnant Mr.Lover and I were celebrating great feats of love. We had successfully navigated many hurdles that come when the good life and your brain are at war. We were resilient Mr.B and I. Both as individuals and as a couple. Because of our convictions we created a life where time was plenty, our bank accounts made us smile, and our play was expressive, to say the least. We had a life we were sure existed but took a pinch or two from time to time just to make sure it was real. It was hard too. Don’t get me wrong. Ha, it was brutal actually, but we were in it together, and it was that togetherness that made the results of our efforts so extraordinary.

    Let me say it like this, the year before Mr.B and I were pregnant, we’d reached the tipping point in our relationship. All the hard work we two porcupines put into loving each other had gained momentum and took off. Our love was finally walking easy street. We’d gotten clear on what meaningful business we wanted to nurture as a team, made headway in that vision, had more than enough cash, travelled to Ecuador looking for land, got married, and got pregnant. To us, perfection. We each had a sense of pride. A “we did it” kinda thing. Then shit hit the fan and well, you know the rest. A good two years after that tragic day, after my healing year, puppies, popping my head out of the cave and nurturing MoonTracker into being, I was starting to get my big inspiration brain back. I’ve been a dreamer my whole life. I can’t help but see something and think “how can we make that better?. How do we help more creatures? How can we simplify and broaden access to happy?” At first, the return of my long lost friend was a relief. I honestly didn’t know if that dream-weaver part of me would ever come back. She did. Cool. But then, after bits and pieces of time, projects coming and going, I started noticing something peculiar.

    I would get up to a certain point in my newly refined vision for my life and well, essentially I would freeze. My actions would slow down to a painful pace and I would drag things out that, at any other chapter in my life, I would have flown through leaving rainbows in my trail.  It was excruciating. At some point during this return to life, I also found myself having to admit to myself and my love that I was unhappy. No wonder! For the first time in my life, I knew unhappy personally. Unhappy as in not neutral, not fine, not even this will do. I was the opposite of happy. No not depressed - unhappy (like the mad hatter’s unbirthday). I had an amazingly supportive husband. I had meaningful work that paid the bills. I had a magnificent environment complete with mountains and ocean. I had projects back on the go that filled me with passion even. I even had some peace around motherhood. But still, I was unhappy. It’s a horrible feeling bright light. I’m sorry if you know this right now. That sucks love. Please hear me when I say there’s rock solid hope.

    So anyway, I was back in my jam of magic and inspiration and ideas were flowing like West Coast November rain (that’s a lot). My first big move back as Jamie Jam was to run an intimate “Get What You Want Without Acting Like A Man” women’s group for fiery women with big hearts and sensitive spirits. It was a year-long transformational journey I hosted complete with big healing, loaded with beauty and creativity, good healthy soul food and packed with inspiration, education and empowerment. I loved it. I loved it too much. Here’s what I noticed. After leading my next chapters purely by intuition, wrapping up my women’s group, and seeing my beautiful renewed vision unravelling perfectly before my eyes, my brain turned to tar. My thinking got slow, taking action started to feel heavy, and all I craved was quiet. Turns out, my sweet old brain, the amygdala (almond-shaped let’s say organs for ease that are responsible for our fight flight freeze response), had tagged utter happiness (cusping on bliss. Bodies do like specificity you know) as a danger. Why? Because the very last time I felt deeply elated, whole and connected to a larger meaning, I almost died, lost a baby and my fertility. My world crumbled and it crumbled hard. In that heart-breaking chaos, my brain assumed the danger I suffered was at least in part to my “what dreams are made of happiness”. I have a brain that works - thank god, and that brain was trying anything to keep me from being fulfilled and joy-filled (or to my brain, in the arms of death) again.

    I noticed strange things happening like I was having trouble sleeping (I’m a sleep queen). My digestion was off. All I wanted was peaceful isolation. My workouts were always tainted by this inner chaos and I was having hot flashes. My cycle even stopped (not ready for that transition!). All symptoms of sustained stress to the system. The Naturopathic field typically recognizes these symptoms as adrenal burnout. I paid attention but must admit I got a bit heady about it thinking, “I’m only working two days a week at the clinic, all the other work I’m doing is inspiring and I should be excited by the rest”. Sometimes we really need to smack ourselves and just listen to the signals our bodies give us. I was puzzled, intrigued and like a good emotional detective, I was on the case.

    It sucked. I’d seen so many clients like this before, I know adrenal burnout as a professional (it’s really kicking the asses right now of my fireball big-hearted gals on a mission in the world. We’re calling it the superwoman complex) and am pretty well aquatinted with the pathology of it. Hmmm, I am about to test out two new courses about fear and time, I wonder …universe are you playing me here??? Oh sorry, this is not a conversation with the universe …is it? Shall I continue? Right then. Now’s a good time to pee or refill your herbal tea.

OK so, Let’s sum this up by saying I was too scared and too strong to move forward. I was too strong to settle for less than an epic passion-filled life. I found a way to nurture the mother inside me with or without birthing babies. I learned how to live with the scars of my heart. I promised myself I would continue to provide a life for my dream. I would never bow out, never settle for hopeless, or living in emotional pain. Yet I was far too scared to re-experience the utter pinnacle of despair that came at the top of my “dream life sundae” so to speak. Hmm. Without even knowing it consciously, I was stuck in and wading my way through tar. The passionate warrior in me was fighting forward, unwavering in my mission to reclaim joy, and my brain had drilled a hole in my gas tank:(.

    Basically, in the hours of my trauma, the world outside of me froze for a mere flash of time. In that freeze, my brain calculated and programmed in all things I needed to avoid in my life going forward in order to stay safe. On the other hand, in that freeze the remaining loose boundaries I had firmed up like an 8 pack of abs, and the ability to tolerate negative shit from others in my life was obliterated. What a nice balance said no one sane ever. Without knowing it I was checked out of the hospital that cold January day almost five years ago subconsciously terrified of happiness and unable to settle for less. Ok then. 

    What did I do? Stopped fighting. You see it was the fighting between myself and myself that was stressing my body so much my adrenals were burning out. It took me so much effort to forge ahead using sheer will because my brain was trying to stop me. Me & me. I feel like the band “21 Pilots” needs to capture this in a song. We’ve all done this and I guarantee you the majority of us are doing it right now. This very moment somewhere in the back of your mind you’re in conflict about something. Ooooooooo.

    I had to get hold of these opposing parts of myself and lovingly have a come to Jesus talk. What’s a girl who’s used to being the protective warrior do when her efforts are actually hurting the one she’s trying to protect (this time - me)? What does a scared little body do when it’s sure it’s very fulfilment will be its demise? Can you see how moving through tar might be an adequate metaphor for me during this time? Looking back can you see maybe where you got stuck without realizing it? Go for it. Reflect a bit. It’s worth it hun. So often folks it’s not the physical symptom that impedes us, it’s the emotional stuff. Fight a losing battle for too long and you get physical symptoms. Pay attention to your symptoms. They’re your primary language. Listen.

    My fiery bighearted sensitive go-getters friends you’re gonna hate this: I had to slow down - on purpose. I had to watch myself make commitments I knew I wasn’t ready to keep, temporarily cage my excited visionary birdie who’s wings had just finally healed, and calm my inner warrior from the terror of possibly not getting to experience the birth of not only my own children but my vision too. All in the name of healing the divide in my head. It felt impossible. I’m a tough cookie and this was a bitch. I’d be at cross-fit working out both feeling the frustration of not being able to fruitfully push myself, and the frustration of not wanting to forcefully push myself. It was ridiculous and real. #thebattleisreal. I had to tease out what I wanted from what I thought I should want. I had to fish out guilt I had about retiring my inner warrior and what the heck that even meant for me personally. I had to f around with my wiring so I could just let go of giving a shit and move the heck on. I had to stop caring in a way. I had to leave the trauma. I had to leave the trauma. I had to leave the trauma. Sorry, this statement keeps echoing in my mind. Fuck. The gift here? I was put into a position that made me realize: if I’m to come back into the world scarred and rawer, more real, If I’m to give my all, no more holding back what I think is unacceptable, then I need to reconfigure my relationship to time and space. I have to get non-linear (but that’s a perspective that deserves its own story). I had to drop parts of me I was so used to relying on; The Responsible One, The Warrior, The Healer, and just move on without boxes or structures that I’d used to navigate my life. I had to blow the top off happy, drop the labels and just be me everywhere in every way. I had to start a new story. I have to start a new story. Big breath. “Look up” I’m saying to myself. “Remember the moon, Jamie. Remember the moon”. You too sweet flower. Look up, and I’ll be looking too.

    I’m writing this a week before my fortieth birthday. This chapter is fresh. I haven’t yet walked away. I haven’t yet forgotten the stalemate. My life looks nothing like I thought it would at this age. Yet, I do feel as I thought I would. I’ve worked hard in my life to understand myself and those around me. I’m more confident, at peace and sure of myself and my right to take up space than ever. I know the exhaustion that is left in my body and in my warring mind. I won’t rush it. Not anymore. But again I have an amazing environment to support me while I shed this latest skin and grow my next one. I go to cross-fit where brilliant people remind me that it’s ok to give my all again. I have wonderful women patiently waiting for me to be ready to bring my magic back. To start and lead my group again. They believe in what I believe in - that we can have it all. That together we’re stronger. That we sometimes need help. I have this beautiful man I created a baby with named Brady Patterson who stares me in the eyes with as much passion and truth as I do him. So the stalemate it appears is melting. All because of love sweetheart. All because of love. Look up dear flower. Look up and I’ll be looking too. xo J

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