October is a tough time for me. Being that the fall represents letting go, loss, grief. At least to me, it does.
I have lost a marriage, a baby, and even my gallbladder in the month of October. And yes, we all grieve the loss of something or someone at some point in our lives. My toughest loss, however, was not in the fall. My father left this Earth on a rainy day in the month of February.
I had no idea how to grieve back then and didn’t do it so well. But I learned. After I got sober, I, unfortunately, learned a lot about the proper way to grieve.
Hence, the thought of writing a letter to the grief-stricken has consumed my mind lately. If you are in a state of grief, I hope this letter provides you with some insight of what you are experiencing right now.
My dearest grief-stricken friend,
At this very moment, there is nothing I can say to make you feel better. There is perhaps, nothing anyone can say. What I can share with you is that I understand.
They say. “time heals all wounds“. I found this to be untrue. The pain of loss will always be there. It does, however, get easier. It just takes a long time.
Know this, that you are loved and appreciated. And those around you will love you through this. Whether from a distance or in person.
You may see yourself behaving differently. Maybe you are more flaky or scatterbrained. Perhaps, you are experiencing a higher level of anxiety. Be patient with yourself. You have just experienced a great loss. Therefore, you are permitted to grieve however best works for you.
For most of my life, I believed my soulmate would be a man I would spend my life with – ‘til death-do-us-part. My God had a much better plan for me.
Love at First Sight
Chewy arrived in my world in April 2007. I had let my daughter’s friend live with us for a few months and her mom sent this little fur ball over as payment. Dee put him in my arms and said, “My mom wants me to sell this little guy in front of Walmart and give you the money.”
Watching me falling in love at first sight, Dee came up with a different proposal. “Or maybe you could keep him for yourself”. In the midst of my first divorce, I thought a new friend might help. I took him to meet my new boyfriend (who would become my second husband). From that point on, we were inseparable.
From the start, Chewy showed us what a fighter he was. Before we gave him his shots, he got Parvo. Two obstructions in his first year also led to a couple of surgeries. All the while, tears flowed from our eyes as we felt the insecurity of our “parenting” skills.
We had named him Chewbacca – Chewy for short. I guess the joke was on us. Many a pair of shorts, underwear, Doc Martens, and leather jackets – all chewed up.
Thank goodness for a good dog crate and tennis balls! Oh, how he loved his tennis balls, often falling asleep with one in his mouth. This was usually after a good afternoon of chasing said tennis ball. One of Chewy’s favorite things to do; lose his ball under the couch so either the hubby or myself would have to retrieve it. Once, he even lost it the very moment I had just given it back!
A New Addition
Much to his exasperation, we brought home a sister for Chewy two years later. He was none too pleased. And when we brought little Cherry into our bed to snuggle with the three of us, he froze up like he was dead and would not talk to us. But he got used to her rather quickly and the pair were joined at the hip. Almost literally. They walked side by side, hip to hip. They slept in a Yin-Yang shape together.
They were indeed, Yin and Yang. Or as I called it Addict (Chewy) and Codependent (Cherry). While Cherry was timid and a bit clingy, Chewy was bold, strong and protecting of all.
Throughout the years, Chewy ran the household. If I was in bed on a Saturday morning and the hubby was up and about, Chewy would paw at me until I got up and joined the rest of the family in the Livingroom. On the flipside, once the hubby went to bed, my little guy would paw at me until I joined the family in the bedroom…
Chewy was more of a person than a pup. Scoffing and scolding me when he didn’t get his way. And oh, so prideful when he achieved something like the time he “saved” the hubby from drowning in the river. He just jumped right in and landed in a patch of floating grass. After we pulled him out, he walked about like a prancing pony with his chest all puffed out. Leaping at Cherry as if to say “I can swim! I can swim!”, “Who’s the alpha now b!tch?!!”
Why do I call him my soulmate?
Because no one ever got me the way my Chewy did. If I was depressed and sleeping too long, there was Chewy, pawing at me. Informing me that I have spent too much time in my slumber and that I needed to let him take me out for a walk.
I have been sober for close to 15 years and 11 years of that time has been spent with my Chewy. Indeed, I have at least on one occasion told my sponsor “Chewy ate my 4th step!”
When I suffered from Gastroparesis, he lay by my side when I was sick. Doing Yoga and meditation was a joint activity as he had to practically sit on my lap when I was in meditation and on my stomach while I lay in Savasana.
A few years back, Chewy had a low-grade Sarcoma and was not expected to grow any more tumors. We celebrated his beating cancer, now referring to him as “Heisenchewy”. My little fighter.
A New Chapter
In 2017, the hubby and I decided we had done our best to no avail. We filed for divorce. He moved into a Condo (more him), I bought an RV and moved into a park down by the river (more me). He got the cat and I got the dogs.
Freedom! My daily routine started out with a long walk with the pups, coffee and then Yoga. We took so many walks throughout the day, enjoying and basking in the temple of nature. God’s country. At night, we snuggled and watched Netflix together. We learned to live in a whole new world. A world in which time slowed down. The neighbors got to know us well as we were always out doing something fun and exciting.
Shortly afterward, we had to separate the dogs while Chewy recovered from a degenerative disc condition. Cherry had to stay with my son and for the first time in Cherry’s life, they were not together. This was painful. But I knew it was only temporary.
In late November, I headed to The Big Island for an advanced Yoga teacher training and some additional vacation time. This would be the best vacation of my life. For during this time, I fell in love with a friend I had met in August. In addition, another stay at the Shambhava Konalani Ashram was just what the doctor ordered. Re-centering my spirituality, my Yoga practice & teaching skills, aaaaand falling in love in just 2 weeks! Not too shabby for a woman pushing 50!
“Mom, what is Lymphoma?” was the text I received on the 4th day of my stay at the Ashram. “Why?!!!”, I texted back. “Because Chewy might have it.” I headed to the living room at the Ashram so I could get a good phone service. Upon answering his phone, I could tell by my ex-husband’s voice that this was real. Really f!cked up!!! He was sobbing and informed me that the doctor was pretty confident in her diagnosis.
No, there is no cure for Lymphoma in dogs.
Yes, we could treat him with chemo but it would affect the quality of his life.
No, I did not need to head back early. The tumors were in a very early stage.
So, as I am bonding with 6 other amazing women at the ashram and falling in love with an incredible man, I am now also preparing to say goodbye to my Chewy. My soulmate.
The last two months of his life were spent with lots of hugs, sleeping on the couch at my son’s together. Walking the neighborhood and giving Chewy whatever he wanted. If Chewy wanted a burger, he got a burger. Pizza? It’s yours, buddy!
But sooner than I had hoped, his tail no longer wagged. He only occasionally chased after a tennis ball thrown his way.
One can be as prepared as they might think but never truly ready to say goodbye. It didn’t happen the way I had envisioned it, in the living room of the home Chewy always knew. But rather on a blanket, in the middle of the night at an emergency Pet clinic.
Chewy was struggling to breathe. I called my ex-husband and told him that he might want to meet me at the Pet ER.
After the doctor said Chewy would probably have an extremely rough night, we decided that it was time. This superb facility provided our boy with a full buffet, including chocolate chip cookies. Chewy ate like a king that night.
We cuddled, took pictures, shed some tears, and expressed our undying love to the little guy. I told him how he taught me how to love, how to see things beyond my tiny bubble of a world. I asked him if I had shown enough love, spent enough time…Did he know how better a person I had become because I had my soulmate for the past 11 years?
Then, he let us know. He was ready. We were not. However, his comfort was more important now. He walked over to the doctor and laid down. Two shots were empathetically and kindly given. After which, the doctor checked his heart and let us know that he was gone.
No longer having to hold back the guttural sobs that were waiting to come out, I let loose. This, this was much harder than my two divorces put together. My boy, my Heisenchewy, my soulmate had left for good.
Goodbye, my dearest Chewy. You brought many a Cherry-blossomed day into my life. I am now ready to accept the seasons. Mama misses you with every part of her soul.
Chewy visited me in a dream the other night. He was walking around the way he often would, like that prancing pony. “Mommy, where’s my ball?”, he asked. I woke up hoping he had found it and would never lose it again.
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Most people have or have had that one friend they call their Bestie, BFF, Roaddog, Ride-or-Die. I too have been blessed with such a gift. When we became grandmothers (far too young by the way), one week apart, we started calling each other Blessties!
At some point, in our friendship, we became psychically connected. We got hungry at the same time, tired at the same time, thirsty at the same time, and fortunately both our homes had two bathrooms because we literally had to shit at the same time. We both gave birth to two handsome boys and one beautiful daughter, in the same order. The boys we were pregnant with at the same time would make us grandmothers in the same month – August of 2010.
In so many ways, we had the same difficult childhoods. Both suffering traumatic events at very young ages before we even met and we met when we were 11 and 12! No surprise that we both started our real drinking, smoking and drugging careers together at 12 and 13.
We shared a love of Prince and the Revolution. Believing Prince was the most beautiful being that ever walked the earth. But we also fought over who saw Patrick Swayze first.
In high school, some actually thought we were twins. We shared our clothes, shoes, and accessories. Though she was put together much better than me. I was always some kind of a mess, whether it was hair or clothes, that being my nature.
We loved catching a cool buzz from beer and cruising Elysian Park when the sun was setting. I remember walking miles in the heat together to the one store that would sell us Boone’s Farms Wines. We would lie in my bed late at night, talking each other through the spins so we wouldn’t puke. When our one close male friend became a father, we got our hung-over asses to the hospital via bus to congratulate and celebrate with him.
But I was a runner. I ran away from home, friendships, relationships, schools, and yes, even my Bestie. I guess I can better define this as I ran to and from all these things. I hated confrontation, got bored easily and when things got ugly at home (which they did quite often), I hit the road. Sometimes moving to another county with my dad. I would of course, come back on weekends and holidays and hang out with her and we wrote often. When we were together, it was like we were never apart. She would, however, tell me years later that she had abandonment issues because of me and I can truly understand and validate her emotions.
I never understood how we went through a huge separation when we got together with our significant others. I think we both felt uneasy about each other’s men. Much later, it would become obvious that we had both picked abusive men. But we would never call each other out on that, maybe because then, each of us would have to look at our own shit. It doesn’t matter now, though, and we still took every opportunity we could to meet up by ourselves from time to time.
On May 25, 2003, I surrendered. I was done with my other abusive lover and best friend – cocaine. Through the program of Cocaine Anonymous, I became clean and sober. About a month later, my dear friend showed up at my house needing a place to crash. She was living in a laundromat, had lost her kids, home, car and her man. I let her stay one night but had to tell her that I could not put my sobriety on the line for her. I would be willing to take her to meetings, find a treatment center, whatever she needed when it comes to sobriety.
She was not interested but eventually calledthe number to a center I had given her. Two months later, she wrote me from that very center. We were both getting sober together! We both began a new and better way of living, though in different 12-step organizations. No matter, good recovery is good recovery. I celebrated with my best friend, when she got a job, car, home, and then her kids back! We were living the promises.
But once again, it was time for me to leave. This time to another state. There were many reasons: My kids were into too much trouble in California, we couldn’t afford to live there anymore, and my asthma was at its all-time worst. I also, needed to deal with other issues like the end of my marriage to an abuser, panic attacks and chronic illness.
Thankfully, my budget allowed me to come back often to visit.Unfortunately, I got to see my ride-or-die fall back into the world of alcohol. Along with this, was the return of misery, fear, and chaos. There was nothing I could do but pray. Yes, we spoke many times and she found a man we believed was a gift from God. He spoiled her, took her to Hawaii and married her.
“Nothing youconfess,could make me love you less.”
Things crashed down quicky for my Bestie and her marriage.She would later explain some very difficult truths, with guilt and shame. I never judged her. I was never shocked, just saddened. I wished I could be there with her. Though it was starting to seem that my interaction was more of a hindrance than help.
Shortly afterward, her number was no longer in service.She was off Facebook and her family really wouldn’t say what was going on when I asked. So for now, I just don’t know. Today, I get to experience the abandonment that I had put on her many times. Though I always said something. All I have received from my dearest friend is silence.
Two weeks ago, Prince died. The news was devastating to me. My youth, memories with my BFF, all that rushed through my raw emotional state. Furthermore, the two of us mourned separately, without any contact.
Is this friendship breakup permanent? I don’t know. Do I like it? Hell no. Can I live with it? Of course. I have a strong support system here and I hope to God that like everything else we experienced together, she does as well. Maybe that support system has recommended she not talk to me. If it will help her, I will truly accept that – for her life, sanity, sobriety, and spirituality.
Because it is not about me. Sometimes it is about what is best for those I love. If for some reason, my friendship has become stale or decayed to another, they will have to let go of me. Just as I have had to let go of toxic friends. This doesn’t always mean that we ourselves are toxic – only the friendship we had is not working anymore. I must remain unselfish when it comes to another’s spirit. That is the beauty of letting go. Giving up another so she can grow, blossom and be reborn. For this reason, I accept being – disconnected.
I’m on the phone making reservationswith a hotel when my husband’s email pops up “Prince Tribute tonight? Sad day huh?”. “What the F#ck?!” I exclaim three times before I realized I was still on the phone with the hotel clerk. “Oh, I am so sorry. I did not realize I said that out loud.” I say. She replies that it is perfectly okay. I then go on to tell her that I just found out about Prince.
We have a nice long chat afterward about how Prince was much more than a music legend, icon, star, etc. He was true musical genius and royalty. He was Prince after all. We finish up our conversation and I head into HR and ask for a hug. I receive one rather quickly. Everyone is truly shocked by the news. But I feel like I’ve been kicked in the stomach. I have a lump in my throat and I am afraid to speak.
I was twelve when I first heard the song “Controversy”. What was this sound? Was it Funk, Rock, Punk, New Wave? There was no label for it. The music was unlike anything I had ever heard and I was raised by a DJ. Then I saw the video (which I would love to share but Prince hated his music being displayed on YouTube so out of respect I will not do this.) The scene in a church-like setting, with stained glass windows, emphasized the spiritual side of Prince’s sound. Mind-blown!
The lyrics of Controversy, alongside Prince’s hair, dress and makeup made me ponder if he was straight or gay. I would soon find out he was obviously straight. The man loved women! Think about that, though he LOVED women. Not just as sexual beings but as spiritual beings to be cared for, nurtured and respected. Someone who seemed to exploit women actually saw us as equals. Prince was, wait for it…a feminist. Though maybe silently in his words, he displayed this loudly in his music.
Then came 1999 and Little Red Corvette. This guy was phenomenal. When he made the movie Purple Rain, I stayed up late for a radio show that was playing the whole soundtrack that night. The song Purple Rain itself just grabbed my inner being. It was beautiful, it was ugly and then it was beautiful again.
At the age of 16, I wore satin, lace, and my hair all wild like Apollonia. As a matter of fact, some of the guys at school called me “Apollonia”. The biggest compliment one could give me at the time. I can’t tell you how many times I watched the movie.
Over the years, Prince never ceased to amaze the world with his oddness. He rarely spoke at awards shows and we rarely saw him do interviews. The more we wanted to get to know his inner being, the more he reverted into mysteriousness. Prince even changed his name to a symbol for a while. WTH? What we didn’t realize was that he was sharing everything about himself through his music.
All we had to do was pay attention to the lyrics, feel the vibrations and hear the sound and his message would come through. Was it all about sex, or were there subliminal messages he was trying to communicate? It all depended on the listener.
Some might have considered him a sex-fiend or a lover of exploiting women. Well, yeah as I said earlier he loved women no doubt. But he was pro-being, pro-expression of men and women’s sexuality. He held no judgment of gender. How very unusual for a man’s man. Because he was too, a manly guy.
On 4/21/2016, I came home to find my husband had queued up Prince on our stereo and had purple candles burning. We then watched the only movie we could find ourselves viewing.
Watching Purple Rain that night, I realized I had never got the true message of the movie. I always focused on the music and the fashion. But it was much more. It told the story of “The Kid’s” struggle with misogyny and not wanting to carry on the cycle of domestic abuse, yet finding himself doing that very thing.
In the end, he makes the most powerful amends to his female band members and girlfriend the only way he knows how, through his music. The hubby and I found ourselves in tears as Prince sang “I would die for you.” Another gift this artist brought to our lives.
As we go through the day we pause, when agitated or doubtful, and ask for the right thought or action. We constantly remind ourselves we are no longer running the show, humbly saying to ourselves many times each day “Thy will be done.” – AA Big Book 87-88.
Pausing my series on The 8 Limbs of Yoga until next week.
Why are you pausing Elysia? I am glad you asked!
During a phone call with a loved one this morning she mentioned that she had signed up for Fabletics but forgot to get the link from my website. A very small thing I asked her to do since I am trying to get my website noticed by my affiliates. Disappointed is a good word to explain this. But I just couldn’t shake this off.
About an hour later my son rang me and I had him on speaker phone but had to go to the living room to grab something. The hubby, having just arrived proceeded to turn on the television at full blast. This was the last straw…
“What’s wrong Ma?”, my son asked. He might have regretted this. “Do I even exist to other people on this fucking planet?!!” I asked. I further ranted about the fact that though, I don’t expect people to be as thoughtful and considerate as I am but when I actually ask for someone to do me a simple favor, they can’t even take the extra 3 seconds to do this. Why am I always the last one people remember to pay back a loan to?
My son replied, “I know I can’t do anything for you but I am listening”. Perfect reply. We finished our talk and I proceeded to stew in my anger.
Maybe it’s the menopause, maybe it’s because I am an empath and I soak up other’s energies (positive and negative). Wait, let’s back up a bit…
Three days ago…
I was informed of the death of a beautiful soul I used to sponsor. For the past 6-7 years, she had struggled with the disease of alcoholism and her attempts at sobriety. It was painful to watch. Either way, we remained close and would often run into each other.
The news was shocking though I did not understand why I was shocked. Alcoholic deaths are not uncommon among the people we meet in the rooms of recovery. After almost 13 years of sobriety, I should be used to it right? Wrong. We never get used to it. We don’t want to get used to it.
I found myself sad for her family, for her son, and for her close friends. Indeed, I spoke on the telephone with her best friend who had been the one to find her body. I sent a quick text to my sponsor in California. She thought we should schedule some time to talk. Why didn’t I think about that?
Why didn’t I think that I needed to be heard? I was sad for everyone else but forgot to be sad for myself. I am always talking and writing about self-care. Yet I forget to do so for myself. Thank God, I have a sponsor (and a good friend) to remind me!
Coincidentally, today was the day I scheduled to speak with my sponsor. It was a good, much-needed discussion, filled with tears and laughter. I needed to speak. I needed to share out loud that I felt I had failed my friend even though I knew I had not.
She’s the sweetest little rosebud that Texas ever knew
Her eyes are bright as diamonds, they sparkle like the dew
You may talk about your Clementine and sing of Rosa Lee
But the Yellow Rose of Texas is the only girl for me
– Mitch Miller
She was a lovely being, inside and out. This is one of the sad parts of recovery. We don’t see each other as the useless pieces of shit that others would. We get to view the inner beauty of each soul we encounter. I might be a hippie who absolutely adores the redneck because we see past the labels that others and even ourselves put on us.
She loved her friends, family and most of all, her son. Though she drank, she still loved and was loved. Her nails were always done in a bright and lovely fashion. She had a beautiful smile and wit that will be missed for a long time coming. I know I will be expecting to run into her at Safeway out of habit for a while until it finally sinks in that she is gone.
As I stated above, she struggled with alcoholism for years. More than that, she suffered from it. The guilt and shame of not being able to quit. How many times had she beat herself up over it? Only she and God know. But I understand all this. I am no better or different, only owning a program today.
This song has been in my thoughts for several days before I even found out that we lost you my dearest. It perfectly states my heart today. Remembering when we went to see Cindy Lauper together and our wonderful talks. You were and always will be a beautiful soul.