Locked in the trunk of a car*

Or in an MRI machine. Encased within the belly of this beast. A machine of such powerful magnetism that it is able to see through me at the structures in my brain. But you have to be still if you want it to do its work accurately. You must be as still as possible, while inside its belly.

It’s a hassle to get there, this regional hospital is an hour away, halfway between FTT and Pleasantville. It wouldn’t normally be a hassle, but Gummy is sick and not at daycare. Her father is unavailable, and my anger flares up, even though for fuck’s sakes, it’s not his fault he’s got to work. I cannot bring Gummy to the regional hospital where the MRI machine lives because once I am in the belly of the beast, I have to lay very still, and three-and-a-half-year-olds don’t take well to their mothers being swallowed by machines.

A friend who’s on mat leave can take her. Gummy is pleased to go there. The hustle of organizing childcare helps me forget about my anxiety about the procedure.

My pituitary is the subject of this particular inquiry. Unexpectedly, they tell me they need to inject gadolinium into my bloodstream in order to see how this tiny wonder of a gland absorbs it. I give my consent, but harbour misgivings about it. What if I react poorly. Plus, they won’t even give me a picture of my brain, citing the inability to print. Bullshit. I want a picture of my brain.

I go through with it. I lay still, and breathe deeply. When the injection happens partway through the scan, anxiety kicks in, but I tell it to simmer down. I’m fine. It’s so tight in here, and so loud. But I’m breathing. That’s all I can do, and doing it helps. I think about the reasons why. My new RE Dr. B, the one who knows I know things, offered it to me at my last appointment. The conversation went like this:

Augusta: I know this is not why I came today, but I do have a question that’s niggling at me.

Dr. B: Oh, we’ve got time. What is it?

A: So I think part of living well in the present is being able to tell yourself a story about your past that makes sense, one you can live with. And I don’t know why this happened, why my body just bypassed puberty, why it never made eggs, and could never make a baby. I’ve got two hypotheses, but I might go for the rest of my life not knowing, unless you feel you can help me with an answer.

Dr. B: (looks through the file) But your diagnosis is premature ovarian failure? What was your FSH?

A: zero

Dr. B: (continues to flip through the chart): Hum….yeah, 0.00something. So that’s the wrong diagnosis.

A: Yes it’s wrong. So, my two hypotheses are: 1) BPA exposure or 2) trauma.

Dr. B: BPA is unlikely.

A: Really? Even if there were never any grownups at my house when I was a kid and all I ate for 10 years were microwaved meals in plastic bags?

Dr. B: BPA still unlikely. Bulimia is more likely.

A: I was bulimic and anorexic, but that started when I was 17, long after I should have gone through puberty.

Dr. B: What did your MRI say?

A: Never had one.

Dr. B: What? I have all my patients in your condition have an MRI to rule out a pituitary tumour. Do you want one?

A: I never thought a pituitary tutor was likely because I don’t have other symptoms of a pituitary tumour. I mean, I’m 5’10”: I think I grew alright.

Dr. B: Well think about it. It could still explain things. I’m happy to refer you for an MRI.

I went away and thought about it. Admittedly, the biggest draw was obtaining a picture of my brain, which I have yet to see (I think Dr. B will be able to pull it up on his computer when I see him, and maybe I can take a picture with my phone). But the real reason is the rule out. BPA hypothesis is more or less ruled out, according to him. We’ve got only two contenders left: Pituitary adenoma or psychological trauma.My expectation is that pituitary adenoma will be ruled out.

Which leaves me with trauma.

Which is what I’ve thought all along.

Sigh.

*Yes, I intend on going through the Tragically Hip’s discography with my blog post titles for the foreseeable future.

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Courage, my word (part 2)

I had some ‘found time’ on Halloween night. Soybean picked up our girl early for the second half of trick-or-treating, and he then took her home. So I dished out candy, but mostly I worked on my letter, and emailed it to him before I turned in for the night.

What was I expecting? Not much. But I was hoping for a conversation, although not banking on it.

I didn’t hear anything from him until 4:40pm on Tuesday, when he barged into my office. I believe he had something planned to say, but the words weren’t coming out of his mouth. He was short of breath and just looked at me in askance with his most intense gaze (which is intense when he’s talking about the weather). With my heart jumping out of my chest at the surprise and emotion, I said the following in an order I can’t recall: “close the door. I don’t know what I’m doing anymore than you do. I’m just trying to be real with you.” He said something about not ignoring me at work from now on. But that particular interaction wasn’t memorable for the words we exchanged.

The reality of it though was that we were at work, and I had a treatment group to run that night. I asked if I could call him after group, and he agreed. In the dark streets, driving back home after a long day, we talked nervously for a few minutes. I knew a fork was coming up ahead; exit and go home, or drive straight to his house. I asked if I could and he agreed.

Like one would gather small change from the pockets of each coat they own, I gathered my courage for what was ahead. I tried to set some boundaries for myself: say the things you have to say, resist the urge to sleep over. I put gas in the empty tank of the car, anticipating a late night departure.

He was on the phone when I arrived and he gestured for me to come in. We sat at his kitchen table, awkwardly at first, but seemingly both happy to be together after a long time apart. What I needed to tell him were all the things I had kept to myself during the relationship. I went back to things said in spring and summer that I let pass by. I did not let myself off the hook at any turn; I forced myself to speak. Waves of shame coursed over me; I had to put my head on the table a few times; and I contemplated leaving my last mental bullet point out of the conversation. But I didn’t. I said everything I had to say.

He was generous. And patient. He listened and gave me the time I needed to express my thoughts. He helped me calm down when I became overwhelmed, but held up good boundaries. He said things too. He needed to talk about how hard it was when I left him; and everyday since. Before I left, we agreed to talk again.

I drove home in the dark, moonless night with a sense of relief and clarity and strength. A fox ran out of the way as I came round a bend. The fox; symbol of discernment and increased awareness, my spirit animal in these times, to be sure. I was shaking a lot that night; and again this week as I was telling Orion about it. He said that shaking is the breaking down of the old ways, the ones poured in concrete within us.

That pattern I have, the one I’ve held onto as if my life has depended on it (because at one point it had), it’s time to let it go. I can’t be in love* with another if I hold on to that pattern. Making sure everything goes well on the outside takes me further in to myself, and makes me much less available to be with the other. And then I end up feeling unseen, unknown by the other. That’s a way I can ensure I stay safe, but alone and misunderstood. It stops here and it stops now.

As for what’s next for Mr. Right Now** and I, I’ve got little to report . Right now, we’re in touch a lot, but haven’t managed to see one another since that night. There is a great deal of affection between us, but whose to say if all the elements are there to build a relationship. And I feel ok with not knowing where this is going. I’m proud of where we are, of where I am.

 

 * Again, there’s a fantastic passage in Love Warrior where Glennon talks about love being less of a feeling, and more of a created and shared space between two people. 

** He’s getting a name change on this blog. Stay tuned.

Courage, my word (part 1)

This past week, I wrote on Sunday night. I wrote on Monday night. What I worked on was weeks in the making. A letter to Mr. Right Now. I made it sound like it was all done and wrapped up with a bow, didn’t I? That’s what I had been telling myself for a few months. Here’s a brief timeline of outside facts:

  • Mid-September: Lunch date with break-up on the menu
  • The day after the lunch date until November 1st: Very little contact, with him avoiding me like the plague at work.

At first, I felt really strong and at peace with my decision to end it. There were a number of things that didn’t feel were a good fit between us.And who was I kidding? How could I juggle full time work (with a long commute), a tiny girl, a delicate co-parenting relationship, a self to tend to, beautiful friendships, and this. What was this anyway?

Well, that was part of the issue. I wanted to define it and he did too. I sat in Orion’s office in late August and said: “This feels like an affair, even if I’m not cheating on anyone.” I wasn’t coping well with just How much he loved and wanted me, when on my end, I was still emerging from marriage breakdown and its attending feelings of brokenness. I felt quite overwhelmed when he let me see the depths of his feelings for me, and didn’t respond well on those occasions. I kept him separate from the rest of my life, and at some point, decided that we would wrap this up sooner than later. I lined up all my reasons and broke it off.

I missed him, of course, but felt my logic was airtight. I was SO much better off on my own.

Yet over the last 3-4 weeks, missing him took up more real estate in my mind. In late October, our agency had a day of recognition for the employees. While he had done an outstanding job of not running into me at the office, on that day we were sitting one in front of the other in the large hall. I said a few things to him and congratulated him on the award he received. And my body screamed at me all day to find a way into his arms. For his part, he looked like a guy who was hurting while trying to play it cool.

I think something inside me gave way on that day; like a damn with some structural defects breaking and letting the water rush through it. We texted a little bit back and forth the next day, but he was brief and distant. I had landed in a place of confusion; an uncomfortable place of deep confusion.

I interrupt this cheesy love biopic to ask a question. Have you read Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Merton? It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I can tell you that it was mine. I read that book over the last month, and it was instrumental in making me rethink what happened with Mr. Right Now, and most (all) of my past intimate relationships. The piece I want to highlight here is this: I recognized myself entirely when Glennon described the schism between what was going on inside her and the life she was living outside, especially when it came to her marriage. What impressed me most was her description of how she is healing from that dis-memberment by consciously working on reunion, by bringing her insides to the outside.

Speaking my  truth was something I had worked often and hard on in the past. In truth, I feel that I’ve done well to bring my authentic self to light. Yet in my most intimate relationships, my default position is to quiet myself down to make sure life on the outside “goes well”. This is what I did with Soybean until it ruined us; and this is what I had done with Mr. RN.

When we were together, Mr. RN told me on a few occasions that he perceived I was terrified of him. It made me angry when he said so; it felt like he was crossing a boundary. Plus, I was trying so hard to let this new love breathe; and this reminded me that I was scared. The letter I sent him last Monday was based on the following question: What if I had told him what terrified me about him?  What if I had talked about the real rubs inside the relationship, instead of making nice? What would have happened then?

Thinking. Writing.

“The last time” gets to be so far in the past that I become embarrassed by the length of time between posts, between emails to friends, between resurfacing to check-in with myself. I’m not doing poorly. I’m just, like many of you I suspect, barely keeping all the balls up in the air during this juggling act called motherhood.

I spend a lot of time thinking about writing. It’s laughable. Why don’t I just write about my thinking instead. It’s a good idea, just hard to do in the car, which is when I find space and time for reflection.

I’ve been subtly putting constant pressure on myself to write, which evidently has lead to very little writing.

I was listening to Liz Gilbert’s magic lessons podcast, which I enjoy very much. But I’ve put that aside for now. I was feeling too guilty for not getting up at 4:30am and writing (you know, I could get up at 4:30am to write and follow it by a 5:30 to 6:30am workout, and then get Gummy up and ready for the day, make my lunch, our breakfast, get her to daycare by 8:15am if at all possible. Riiiiiiiight.)

But writing forgives me and waits, despite my neglect. It sits there quietly calling my name, but never imploring or guilt-inducing. It says “I’m here for you”, and asks for nothing in return.

I broke up with Mr. Right Now. He was the most delicious lover. But he saw me as The Woman he’d been waiting for and I couldn’t keep up with that story. When I ended it, I decided it was time to love myself fiercely. Yes, fiercely goddammit. Not just like myself and get to know myself and give myself a break. I decided I have to put all that energy I had for Mr. Right Now and give it me. Because I need it. And possibly deserve it.

Writing is a way I can love myself fiercely. I get to, as Anais Nin says, “taste life twice”. I get to hear my voice more clearly when I write. I feel soothed by it. What are the reasons you write?

 

 

Ice Pops

It’s one ice pop tray after another over here. Ice pops: they are a food group unto themselves, those ice pop, as per the Gummy Girl food guide for Youngsters (GGGY). I’ve waived the white flag on that one. I just start feeding them to her at 7am and keep going all day.

blueberry smoothie ice pops

plain yogurt with maple syrup ice pops

mango juice ice pops

avocado-banana-spinach ice pops

vegan chocolate smoothie ice pops

Speaking of frozen treats, there is still currently in existence a little frozen embryo in MD with my and Soybean’s name on it. It’s a perfect little 5-day blast, for whom I had big, personal dreams. Those dreams don’t make much sense anymore. That little blast also was a nearly $700 CDN drain on my bank account recently.

What to do with that little ice pop?

I threw the question out before sending SG the cryopreservation money, but our conclusion was to keep it on ice at this point.

And then last week, Soybean came back from a visit with his brother and asked if we could donate it to him and his wife. It’s been a series of failures for them in their attempt to have kids. They barely share anything with him, but Soybean said they had just come back empty handed from IVF#2.

Yes, my heart said. Yes. Do it.

It’s more complicated than that. I asked Soybean to do his homework (and for fuck’s sakes not leave it to me to do all the legwork, as per usual). But if it all aligns, and it can happen, I say YES.

It’s complicated. There are issues. I know, I know.

But Gummy Girl could have a cousin/full genetic sibling alive in the world. Am I overly romantic to want that? I don’t know. It’s hard not to have feelings about my little ice pop in MD. I want it to become a child, if it can.

I’ll keep you posted. Feel free to tell me I’m insane if you must.

 

 

 

 

 

Pleasure/Pain

“I’ve learned more from pain that I could’ve ever learned from pleasure.”  Pint.erest is unsure who came up with this, so I cannot attribute the quote to a specific author. My apologies if it was you and I’ve failed to give you credit.

Oh Pinte.rest, you do throw eclectic things my way, and I love you for it. On the weekend, you showed me this little quote and it generated thought, and frankly, some resistance. So I will respond to the algorithm-generated content you send to my inbox with a blog post. I trust you will find it, and when you do, please attribute it to me: Augusta.

I’ve learned a whole lot from pain. It’s true. Decades’ worth of learning, and I don’t think I’m done. Some of the most important lessons I’ve learned from pain include the following:

Pain isn’t personal. We all experience it and it’s part of our human experience. It wakes us up, makes us change courses, helps us move forward in a specific direction, or helps us slow down and rest.

Pain can be layered with suffering, or as I’ve come to understand it, all the stories around the pain we have created through conditioning. Which leads me to another little nifty quote that feels true to me: “Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.” (again, who the heck wrote this? Mark Twain? The Buddha? If this was an essay at University, I would get an F). The distinction helps me in the midst of turning my pain into suffering, as I slow down and just breathe through it.

But have I learned more from pain than pleasure? Of course, I have. Am I ok with that? Not entirely. I think I’ve grown biased to what pain can teach me, and neglected to appreciate pleasure for what it can give, beyond the obvious notion that pleasure feels…good.

So pleasure for me, and I suspect for other humans as well (you? tell me about it in the comments, please) is fraught. It comes bundled up with unease, guilt, and shame even. It often comes with a sense that I’ll need to pay for it in some undesirable way.

Take for example sex. It’s been on my mind lately, you know, since it’s come back on the menu of extra-curricular activities. After a delicious night at my new lover’s home, I drove back to my house with a weird sense of unease. ‘What is this about?’ I thought. ‘Ah eff it, I’ll just listen to music and forget it.’ Several hours later, I realized that I have this rumbling fear in me that won’t settle. I have doomsday scenarios popping into my mind. I am waiting for the other shoe to drop. I have the strong sense that I will be punished. My mother, who had been sexually abused as a child, was shaming and harsh with me in my early* sexual explorations. And there is stuff left over from that, naturally.

Who said pleasure doesn’t have much to teach? Take that Pin.terest.

Another example is food. I LOVE LOVE LOVE to eat. I love all kinds of food; I love to cook; I love to go to different restaurants and I’ll part with a lot of my money for some delicious eats. But for so long, I had to punish myself for that love of eating and food, so much so that I turned into a bad habit that turned into a disease. I think for the most part, I’ve been able to uncouple the pleasure/punishment association in the food department, but once in a blue moon I see it go back towards it. And of course, like most of us, I often eat completely mindlessly and don’t really enjoy this thing I really enjoy.

In my opinion, I’ve done well extracting the diamonds out of the pain mine and I will continue to do so. Pain is not about to stop visiting me, or any of us as long as we are living, breathing humans and I’ll have ample opportunities to keep learning from it. What I’m not as good at is distilling the lessons pleasure wants to teach me. And so, my dear Pint.erest, I want to thank you for laying out the path of my spiritual work for the next little while. I owe you.

 

*As a young school age child, say between 5 and 8

 

 

 

 

 

That day

There will come a day, apparently, when you find someone who cherishes you in a way you did not think you could possibly be cherished in this lifetime. This day will come, to thrill you, to scare you, to remind you that there is more to life than what you could foresee.

But what about the fact that he has such a full life and you have such a full life, and you are a MOTHER for goodness sake, you don’t have time for all this adult business. And relationships all come to an end, and you get so fucking hurt, even when the partner you have chosen is a good man, like Soybean was/is. 

There will come a day when your fear, no matter how large it feels, cannot hold a candle to the courage building inside you to walk forward and meet the other person. On this day, fear can no longer pretend to be a good leader: its voice will shrink; its incessant urging will seem trivial; its truth will look like lies.

OMG, what am I doing? There are still so many unknowns about this man. Is that me agreeing to stay over, to make love with him, and to enjoy it so very much? What if I regret this in the morning? What if I change my mind about him? What if….

There will come a day when you realize you are a grown woman who has come to understand and integrate her past, who knows who she is, and who likes herself (enough). And with this understanding and appreciation, you will be able to hear the other admire, appreciate, and be filled with wonder about you. You’ll accept that this is possible, and more than that, that it is happening.

Do I have the right to all this pleasure? This is so hard. Am I really here? Oh shit, this is happening again. I’m in a situation that’s wonderful but I’m checking out because it overwhelms me. Breathe, Augusta, just breathe and be here. Try to be here right now.

There will come a day when you show up at his house, and he’ll have planned the most amazing evening and made the most delicious supper. He will have paid attention to all sorts of little things you forgot you even mentioned to him. He will remember how much you like stars and he will set a Chinese lantern aglow into the night. He will kiss you in the middle of a thought you were having out loud until you forget what you were saying. He will tell you things he’s afraid to tell you. He will make you feel cherished in a way you did not think you could possibly be cherished in this lifetime. Your courage won’t be needed for long; you can just watch it dissolve into trust.

Run

Strange and wonderful days.

I’ve been feeling the ups and downs of an emotional roller coaster. The wind in my hair, the furious pace of the ride, the exhilaration. Big swells of emotion within. And then it occurred to me. I’m not numb anymore.

The date was…a date, with butterflies in my stomach (and in his), wine, conversation. At some point, I was feeling like it was too much about him in the conversation, and I decided to be brave and say something. “You can ask me questions, you know. If you don’t ask me questions, it makes me think you’re not interested.” With his gaze and his words and possibly the entirety of his cells he said “I am very interested.” He held my hands. He kissed them. I liked it.

I am still terrified of all of this. Perhaps not so surprising after the end of a marriage. I told him that my pattern is to run away from relationships when they scare me, and that I was working on not running right now. He said that he would respect whatever I need in the end, but that he would run after me.

 

 

the other side

Infatuation (limerence, as it were) has hijacked my brain. I am at the mercy of neurosecretions. I sustain dopamine hit upon dopamine hit, not to mention the fact that I’m swimming in oxytocin and vasopressin. The increase in dopamine also means a reduction in serotonin, which produces the ideal setting for obsessions to arise, hence my endless ramblings about Mr. Right Now. Mea culpa, my friends. This brainstorm is happening and I’m managing it only half decently.

Outlining worries is helpful. But I figure I should also outline the things about him that make me want to keep going in deeper into this new wilderness.

Observation #1: Emotionally, he appears to be a grown up. Last Thursday, when I got triggered by him not asking me about something that mattered, I asked to have some space to gather myself emotionally that evening. I said I wouldn’t text. His response: “Take care of yourself. Good night, and I’ll talk to you tomorrow.” I was not ready to tell him about the triggering interaction (which would have seemed neutral to everyone, but because of my particular interpersonal history and how emotionally overwrought I was, ended up being triggering). I appreciated his response and enjoyed some brain rest that night.

Observation #2: He is not rushing/pressuring himself or me about what’s happening between us. He is taking me out on my birthday tomorrow and sounds so excited about it. When I said I was looking forward to it, but was feeling nervous, he responded in such a lovely way. I specifically said that the nervousness was coming from the desire/fear of getting closer to him. He reminded me that all that’s happening right now is two people getting to know each other and laughing a lot. I’ve been telling myself that, but it was reassuring to hear it from me.

Observation #3: He has a past and he owns it. He’s already talked to me about his marriage ending, his friendships, his family relationships, his worse moments and his best ones. He shares openly. And he does ask me questions and listens, but we’ll have to see how I feel this is going as we progress.

Observation #4: From everything I’ve seen, he has a good sense of boundaries. He wants me to come to his house, but agreed that we should see each other in a public place again first. He talks to me at work, but remains’ office appropriate’ in his interactions. He won’t stand for me apologizing for things I don’t need to apologize for. He takes responsibility for his own choices. He has been affectionate in his communications with me, but has also showed some appropriate, respectful restraint. He called me ‘darling’ in a text recently, which probably pushed me over the edge. For some reason, this banal term of endearment goes straight to my heart.

Observation #5: There is limitless ease in our interactions. It’s like we speak the same language, even though we are from different backgrounds. We make each other laugh. We like to talk about everything. His gaze looks right through me.

Oh shit. I’m in trouble, right?

repetition compulsion

I’d like to start with a birthday shout out to my beloved friend Bunny. Happy Birthday, Bunny. I love you so much, dear friend. You all know her and love her too, so stop by her place and wish her well on her birthday. And if you’ve been a follower of her weblog, you are in a state of eager anticipation for her yearly birthday post which includes a view of her lower extremities and backyard. Some years with flowers, some years with snow, some years with a baby bump, some years with Buns.

I realize it wasn’t cool to leave you hanging with regards to the date thing, so here is an update.

The brunch lasted from 10:30am to 3pm. There was an ease of conversation, lots of laughs, 2 trips to the bathroom for me, one cocktail each, and two nervous, giddy people.

He texted as soon as he got home and asked when if he could see me again.

Of course.

You know I like you, I said.

It’s been a lot of butterflies in my stomach and remembering that I am a sexual being since then. Whaaa? I think that part of me has lied dormant for so many years that I assumed it had simply vanished.

I’m not 100% sure about this guy. There are no red flags and he’s a really solidly good human being. And boy, do I want to fuck him (pardon my crudeness).

But there are a few things that worry me. Can I just write them down here in an effort to organize my thoughts?

Worry #1: He smokes. I have no moral qualms about smoking, but a whole shit-ton of physiological qualms about it. It makes me nauseous. I have a strong aversion and I’m not sure I can get past it. But I like him enough to want to try.

Worry #2: He talks a whole lot, which is funny and interesting, but asks few questions about me. He does ask questions about me, but the ratio of him talking about himself and him probing into who I am as a person is about 5 to 1. Which is the same ratio that existed between Soybean and I. Notice that Soybean and I are no longer a couple.

There are more layers to worry #2.

And this is the part I am working on. I can’t keep repeating the past. I learned to silence myself as a child because it was the safest option at the time. This pattern hasn’t served me well as an adult. And so, I won’t let myself re-enact the same old story. I’m SO DONE with the same old story.

My good friend whose shoulder I sobbed on yesterday reminded me this morning that I deserve everything I need and want. And that I do not need to settle for anything less.

My friend is right. So we’ll see about Mr. Right Now.