They don’t call them “Growing Pains” for no reason. Have you ever seen a Caterpillar break out of the cocoon and become a butterfly? The transformation process is a struggle! But then one day the Butterfly emerges and realizes it’s true potential. It’s simply magnificent.
This summer has been quiet strange and somewhat intense for me as compared to last year because I’ve been having “growing pains” this summer. Mostly these pains are self-inflicted as I’ve challenging myself in different aspects of my life to break old habits, smash the old paradigms of my thought processes, let go what no longer serves me and rise to be my highest best version of my myself. Yes, quite a change from last summer. Last summer allowed myself to stay still, rest and enjoy living on the beach. This summer, well, living on the beach is great but it’s time to focus on the other areas of my life that perhaps I’ve been ignoring or neglecting.
In July 2010 I had a major heart event that was related to my Congenital Arrhythmia. This “event” which was not a heart attack but an electrical problem in my heart was the first sign that something wasn’t right my body. But then I believed ignorance was bliss. I got out of the hospital and met my “friends” for happy hour the next night. But that was just the beginning of what only can be described as a storm that totally ripped apart my life. Over the next year and half I continued to have rhythm disturbances. I wore a heart monitor for three weeks to be sure It wasn’t time for a pace maker. I took two medications every day and rarely missed a happy hour.
Well, the combination of too much medication and too many happy hours destroyed my stomach and polluted my Liver causing Non Alcoholic Steatohepitiis. That’s when happy hour stopped being happy. I was sick more days than I was well but I was still working full time. I hid how sick I really was from everyone including family, friends, coworkers & bosses. I hid it because I hadn’t made my decision yet as to what I was going to do about the situation. I knew my life would have to change. I wasn’t sure I wanted it bad enough. I wasn’t sure life meant that much to me to fight that hard. I wasn’t ready to let go and I sure as hell wasn’t ready to lose everything I thought I needed. “I thought I needed.”
I called my Mother after I had a doctor’s appointment with a specialist at Temple University Hospital in Philly. It was time for me to come clean with her. It was serious and she needed to know. She was the first the person I admitted the truth to. She was the first person I told just how sick I really was. I’ll never forget her crying into the phone and saying, “Linda, just so you know, I’m not strong enough to watch another one of my children die. If you chose to continue living this way and die, you will be taking me with you because I just can’t do it again. I can’t!”
Her words sat on my chest like an elephant. I almost couldn’t breathe when I got off the phone. After crying for a few hours I made my decision and started the hardest job of my entire life. I started reclaiming my spirit but diving into meditation and yoga. I started reclaiming my health but quitting drinking, smoking and eating gluten. I reclaim my emotional well-being by disassociating myself from people who as it turned out were just drinking buddies and not real friends. I reclaimed my heart from an unhealthy relationship and man who treated me like crap.
That was the day I said, “What the fuck! How did I let things get this bad? How did I neglect myself this much? Why didn’t I see it before now?” Nothing like a Mother’s Guilt to open your eyes to the truth. My Mom is and always has been about “keeping it real.” But, now I can say my Mother not only gave me life but she also saved my life that day with her words. I am 100% healthy now. My Liver is 100% healthy. My arrhythmia is for the most part stabilized. It only acts up occasionally. But I only take a very low dose of one medication. I’m still a non smoker and I still don’t drink alcohol. While the Liver specialist said I could have a glass of wine, beer or champagne now and again, I don’t indulge because it can and has adversely affected my arrhythmia. The Premature Atrial Contractions & Tachycardia that I get are innocent for the most part but can really freak you out especially when you wake up out of a dead sleep feeling like your heart just stopped. It’s not worth it.
But, back to the reason I am writing this blog. I didn’t mean to retell my story. If you follow my blog, you probably read it before. I’m very proud of myself for having the balls and determination to reclaim my life and pull myself back from the edge. But, I’m still struggling some areas of my transition. As a natural introvert, alcohol used to grease the wheels for me and help me interact socially without constant anxiety. Going to happy hour was a social outlet and after my first drink I was actually quite extroverted, popular, fun, animated & chatty. But this new authentic Linda is more reserved and quiet. It’s hard for to enter new social environments especially alone.
Some friends from my former life invite me happy hour with them and say, “Oh, come on. You can come out. Just drink a soda!” That cracks me up because I tried it. I order a soda and I am ready to leave after about an hour. They knock back two Martinis or glasses of wine and nurse the last one begging me to stay until they finish. Meanwhile, it’s hard for me to understand their version of English and I get a headache from the noise. It’s not fun. I LOVE going out to Dinner! I enjoy going out to Dinner! Can’t we please eat a meal together while you drink? Then I can enjoy dessert and coffee while you nurse your after dinner drink. We will both be happy😄👍 But, it doesn’t seem to roll that way. I would go out dinner ever Friday night I could find someone who didn’t need to go to happy hour. Thankfully, I do have a few true friends who make an effort for me and will have dinner or go out for coffee with me.
As I’ve stepped away from the bar social scene and my old crowd, I’ve been exploring other interests. But honestly, a lot of these activities require me to go into new groups, new environments by myself for the first time. That is very hard for me with nothing to grease the wheels for me. Last night I went to a new Drum Circle on the beach a 1/2 mile from my house. I went alone. I didn’t know anyone. But, I pushed through my anxiety and did it. I enjoyed it. The facilitator also owns a Yoga studio which is perfect. I will go back. It’s was a first step in finding a new social outlet and new tribe of like minded people.
I was telling my story about last night to my friend, Brian, earlier this afternoon. He and his wife own Herban Legend in Smithville, NJ. I bought my Djembe Drum from him last year. After I told him the story, he got a big smile on his face and proclaimed, “I am proud of you and you should be proud of yourself!” He made me laugh. I felt like I was five and my Dad just told me he was proud of me. I then told him next I was going to go to an Open Mic Night on a Saturday night at the local Coffee Shop and read some of my poetry. He laughed and told me I was starting to talk crazy and winked at me.
This brings me back to my first sentence. They don’t call them “growing pains” for no reason. But if you want to grow, you have to leave the comfort zone and be extraordinarily horribly uncomfortable time to time. There is no way easy way around it.
Well, now I will be working up my nerve to read my poetry out loud at the Open Mic Night some Saturday Night. I will tell you this… It won’t be tonight😁 I grew enough last night. It’s time to chill out and just “be” for a while😁👍
Are you experiencing “growing pains”? Are you pushing yourself to expand and be open? Tell me your stories! Motivate me! Inspire me! Challenge me! But, most importantly, grow with me!
(C) 2015 Linda A. Long – All Rights Reserved
“Life is best when lived passionately”
Art by; Jonas Kunickas
The song “Daughters” by John Mayer has always been especially moving to me. The truth is my Dad dying when I was seven was very traumatic for me and honestly fucked me up a bit in relationships. But, thankfulky, I have a strong Mother who not only gave me life but saved my life too. I’m the best Linda I’ve ever been. I’m finally ready to share myself and my life. I’ve finally grown enough that I am ready to let someone in.