Expansion Hurts!

I have been largely absent for quite some time, not only from this space but from pretty much everything. As for this space, I had even taken it down for a while mostly because I didn’t have anything to share which remotely resembles what I used to, and I’ve always been reluctant to share too much when it comes to the darker path which life can take sometimes. Why didn’t I just talk about what was going on? Partly because I was too sick to do so, personal reasons, not wanting to be too vulnerable, feeling like a buzzkill, and leftovers of a philosophy that many spiritual seekers find themselves enmeshed in.

A certain philosophy of positivity which often manages to make people feel that they are somehow to blame for all of the pain that comes their way, and that if said pain brings them down that they are almost willfully creating more of the it. Toxic positivity is bullshit, and I’m not even a bit sorry for calling it out. Positivity is important, optimism is necessary, and I still believe that our attitude helps tremendously to shape our experience of life. However, I feel it is a terrible disservice (to put it kindly) to imply that we can just bippity-boppity-boo all of the hardships we experience away. Sometimes life slaps us around, and it would impact any normal person’s being. Feeling our feelings is an important step in the journey of life, and is difficult enough without a sense of shame being placed upon us. Within all trial is opportunity, but we can miss a lot of the expansion of it when we rush the process of pain and healing. The term dark night of the soul doesn’t exist for nothing! Many of us go through one, sometimes more than one, and it can lead to something more amazing than we can imagine. However, we have to go through it and not around it.

So, what has been going on? Where do I even begin? There has been so much turmoil in my life over the last handful of years that I have been lost and feeling broken. At least I have reached a point that I feel I am starting to see the opportunities for growth within it all. It isn’t possible to make this make sense without sharing some of that pain, because it has been leading me to where I currently find myself. Granted, the ground I’m currently standing on is still quaking with the after-shocks of everything that’s happened, but it’s slowly becoming more stable and I feel collected enough to come here and talk about it.

The year before the pandemic hit was rocked by several severe reactions to autoimmune medications which had me largely bound to my bed and couch for months wracked with illness, fatigue, and pain. Simultaneously, a several years-long relationship which had lived long beyond its expiration date was coming to a mind-bending end when the pandemic hit. Full disclosure is that this was a relationship which should have never began. The aftermath of it all was that I had completely lost touch with myself on all levels and was exhausted to the point that I dropped out of life as I knew it. Hell, I even went full blown scorched earth in my relationships with everyone I’d known – family, friends, clients…all of them with little exception. Most of that has turned out to be for the best (for reasons which are personal) but I’m not sure about a few. Right now though, I don’t quite have enough energy to contemplate whether attempting to repair any of those relationships would be for the best, or if a clean slate is what is needed.

Never recovering from exhaustion and illness fully, I began having a series of flare ups and repeated sinus infections over the years since the pandemic began, which only amplified the exhaustion to a fever pitch. Then, someone dear to me became terminally ill, and I used what little stores of energy I had left after completing the bare minimum for myself to try to help. The help that I could give was nowhere near what I could have done in years past, but I gave it my all and then some. Yet, it still left me feeling woefully inadequate. Watching the situation unfold, feeling helpless and stressed has been absolutely terrible. Wishing to be able to do more to help on all levels, and then there’s the helplessness a person feels knowing that someone who means a lot to them is leaving this earth and there’s nothing they can do. As many of you know from experience, the stress and sadness which comes along with this depletes you even if you’re healthier when it happens. The person I’m writing about passed a little over 5 months ago, and things have been chaotic since. The intensity of being sick for so long left me unable to do anything I wished to and thought I would be able to in the aftermath of the situation, but I know that I tried…that I pushed myself beyond my limits.

The stress has been non-stop for years now, the emotional pain has been too. Even though things have been far from ideal, I feel like I am starting to come to terms with it to some degree. There is only so long that a person can sustain the stage of denial when it comes to the way things truly are before they begin to break, and I have come so close to breaking that I had to allow myself to briefly enter the pissed off stage, and then work on acceptance in order to pull myself back from the brink of falling apart. This is where the expansion comes in. I’m seeing glimmers of who I am and who I can become with everything I’ve learned from all of this. One of the hardest things I’m wrapping my head around is how to step up for myself to the same degree I’ve stepped up for others. I was well trained to not only neglect myself (to the point of harm), but to accept the unacceptable in more situations and relationships than I can count. Until very recently, I didn’t realize the extent of it all, and continued to repeat the same pattern of push and crash, until I just couldn’t push any longer.

After all of this unfolded in the last 3-4 years, I’ve just now begun to make my way through the emotions attached to the realization that pushing so hard doesn’t always mean that things will go as planned and dreamed of. In some ways, I feel like who I always thought I am was only true to a certain degree. There was a lot of fear based behavior and belief attached to my psyche which got violently ripped away, and left me in a place I’ve never been before. It has been scary, and soul shattering. Now though, it seems like things are starting to settle into whatever the new normal, for both life and even my very being, are going to be. It is going to be an interesting time, and now that I’ve pulled some of the barbs out of myself, there is a glimmer of anticipation and carefully excited curiosity emerging about what life is going to look like now that the entire fucking slate has been wiped clean.

One thing which has helped me to not throw in the towel is a visit to an ear, nose, and throat doctor. Little did I know that I have a severely deviated septum and a few other major sinus issues which have been causing a lot of misery throughout my life. It was bad during childhood, since then off and on, and majorly kicking my butt in the last two years. I will be heading for surgery soon to get a few things repaired. The doctor has warned me that the first few weeks are going to be pretty awful. However, after I heal from the procedures (which will be a 3-in-1) which take from 3-6 months for full recovery, I should feel better than I have in years. I’ll be able to breathe, my entire face will no longer be so full which means that the pain in my face, eyes, teeth, ears, and headaches should be gone, and the most exciting part is that I won’t be constantly fighting infections which should mean an increase in my physical energy levels. Perhaps my vertigo issues will improve too. It gives me hope to know that this can be solved. Since I’ve apparently had this issue since birth and didn’t know until now, I could very well come out of the other side of this being more well than I’ve ever been, and that’s exciting to me. No matter what, I know that there will be enough improvement that it will be life changing for the better. Might sound kinda crazy to be looking forward to a painful surgery, but here we are.

Until it’s done, I am working on accepting that my energy levels are going to continue to be extremely low. My creativity, spirituality, and many other things have been attempting to emerge and I haven’t been able to make it happen, understandably (see, I really have been getting better at being kind to myself). Another lesson about push and crash, I suppose. At least now, I know that there is light at the end of the tunnel and I am looking forward to the day that I’ll be able to flourish again in key areas. Patience has never been my strong suit, but being this sick and worn out for so long has taught me about the need for it. Now that sure relief is in sight, the impatient part of me is chomping at the bit to get this over with so that I can move forward, but the newer (and improved) part of me which has been forced to learn patience and acceptance knows that I just have to hang in there a while longer and that I have a lot to look forward to. Even without being so sick, there has been more than enough to make things feel hopeless at times, but I will not surrender. Instead, I am seeing the last handful of years as fertilizer. Now, I just have to wait and see what kind of seeds were in that packet being planted. Bet they’ll be beautiful!


New Beginnings

After many years on this blog, it felt like the perfect time for a fresh start. I’ve been mostly absent from this space for several years for various reasons, but I feel like the best way to put it succinctly is that I’m undergoing a life reboot. For quite some time, I wasn’t sure that I wanted to come back to the blogging world. Once I decided to work my way back into it, there was some inner debate as to whether to keep this blog alive, or to begin a new one.

As you can see, my decision was to keep this one and start over. The “Pull Up A Toadstool” name is one which I still love and feel still suits me, so here I am. There will still be random types of content, like in the old days. However, I have undergone so many changes in the past several years that it was time to start fresh and move forward in ways which reflect the person I’ve become. It’s exciting!

I cannot say that I will be here regularly yet, but the goal is to get to that point. Health issues have been the main theme in my life, and frankly I’ve spent the vast majority of the past few years in what can best be described as a void. There has been no art, writing, physical activity, and very little socializing. It has been a blur of severe flare-ups (of mostly my CFS with a little help from other conditions), with the accompanying fatigue, pain, and brain fog. In the last few months though, I’ve been seeing glimmers of hope.

In many ways I’m at square one, because my physical state is weakened. That’s just the reality after spending over two years mostly on the couch or in bed. The good news though, is that I’ve been able to resume a little more activity around the house and spend more time in an upright position. The biggest thing right now is to slowly attempt to build back some physical endurance, which has historically brought the brain fog and creative energy back to more functionality. As I have never been in a severe state for this long, I have no idea how long the rebuilding process will take this time.

There is a degree of worry that my condition has progressed to a point that my level of functioning just won’t be what I’d like it to be in order to do all of the things I wish to do. But and this is a big but, for the first time in well over a year I am feeling those glimmers of interest in the things that I love to do. So, I’m shoving the worry aside and getting to work on rebuilding from the ground up. With all that has transpired in recent years, I feel a bit like a phoenix, making my rise from the ashes.

If there are any of you still here from before, I’m glad you’ve stuck around. For anyone new who discovers this space, welcome! I’ll be back as soon as possible with something to say or show to all of you.