True friendship has no limitations.

IMG_0946 Today, I am looking forward to being available for a good friend. This person is someone I have known since high school. We used to party together. I remember (vaguely) one time when her friend carried me out of a house because my legs failed to work after smoking way too much pot and drinking. Before graduation, we had a falling out, but then years later we became close again when our daughters were little. Eventually, the high price tag living in Massachusetts was too much so she and her family moved to Maine while I moved on with my life with its many curveballs. In spite of not seeing her in person, I always enjoyed seeing her updates on Facebook so in that sense we stayed connected.

Melissa was the one who saw her post about losing her dad and told me about it. I only go on Facebook about once a day and for a limited amount of time so I missed it. I reached out via Messenger to let her know how sorry I was. I didn’t expect her to respond, but she did. I knew in that second what I needed to do.

This friend was available for me when I lost my best friend, Christy. She was there at the train station when I was too shocked to drive home. She was there when I went to a meeting later that night and watched my daughter for me so I could try to get support. She was there when I relapsed and drank after 7 years of sobriety because I couldn’t handle the pain of losing the closest person to me. She was there when I lost my job, and again when I started my life over again.

I wasn’t a great friend back then. I took more than what I gave back. I still do that sometimes, and it’s something I work on every day. I don’t want to be selfish in my relationships with people. I feel it in my soul when I have shorted someone. I don’t like it and the awareness holds me accountable. I meditated on how I could best help this person who had given me so much during one of the hardest times in my life.

Meditation is something that has become an integral part of my routine. My latest obsession is following the teachings of Ram Dass, who reminds me of my dad. He looks a lot like my dad, with his Ashkenazic Jewish look and smile. I love listening to his older talks because his sense of humor was similar to my father’s as well – self-deprecating and full of intelligence. The topics he speaks on stress on the importance of seeing the whole picture and how being present in the moment is essential to that picture. Letting go of judgement, of how others perceive you, and understanding that there is a realm of possibility outside of what the 5 senses tell you have been life changing for me.

I can’t get enough of his talks and philosophy of loving the soul. It has brought me to a place of acceptance that no amount of reading a certain page in a certain text would ever have gotten me (12 step reference). I am able to step back and let people be who they are without taking it personally. It also allowed me to move past the awkwardness of not having talked to Kelly in years and reach out to let her know I am here for her regardless.

Recently, I have made an effort to focus on being available for the people I have in my life right now at this moment. My life means nothing without the people I care about in it. I want to be there for those who went out of their way for me. Like my friend Kelly, was for me on March 27, 2000 as I stepped off the train trying to process the fact that I would never see my best friend alive again. Kelly and I haven’t talked in years like we used to, but that all disappeared when she responded to my message in great pain. I recognize that pain. I had the same pain when my father died unexpectedly almost two years ago. It knocks you off of your feet, and in my case, onto a couch for 18 months.

Kelly and I sat at the same table at Prom and danced together. We went to the Senior Dinner Dance together. She made me laugh and became my friend in spite of my many faults. We even got into a huge fight that lasted a whole summer and we worked it out before I went off to college. Ten years later, she rushed to my side without me asking. Now it’s my turn to be there for her and for that, I am grateful. #classof1990

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to Me?

According to Ancestry DNA, I have about 20% of Irish DNA. Granted, it’s part of the 75% European piece of the Elissa pie, but it was enough green to shock me. I don’t know why it came as a shock. Since 1981 U2 has been my favorite band. My favorite part of summer camp werdna piee the counselors from Northern Ireland as a child. My affinity for all things Irish has been with me as long as I can remember. Even the men in my life have tended to be descended from the Emerald Isle, so why the big surprise?

I have always known I was adopted.  There was never a time where I didn’t look around and think “They made this up.” I mean, if you saw my baby pictures, it was kind of obvious. The story always began with “We were so excited when the phone rang announcing your arrival.” Then it would lead into a theory that my birth mother was in the military, that she was too young to take care of me, that she was Mediterranean, and that I was in such a hurry to be born, I was born en route to the hospital in the ambulance. The story always ended with how much my family wanted me. That had to be made clear before we moved on to something else.

As I grew up, I began to notice that there were a few holes in the story. For example, how did we know she was in the military? The hospital where she received her care was a Naval hospital in Chelsea. My birth mother was a patient of a family friend who was her obstetrician. This family friend got in touch with my parents and that is how I was brought to Plymouth.  It was never confirmed that she was in fact- part of the US Navy. That was assumed because you had to be in the Navy in order to be treated at this particular hospital. And why did she need to take an ambulance? Didn’t anyone drive?

When people would ask me my nationality, I would say that I was Mediterranean, because that was the answer for a while. After someone told me I looked French, I would say that I was part French. People would ask me if I was Italian. I didn’t think so. When I was in college I was asked if I was French Canadian. At the time people weren’t crazy about French Canadians so I didn’t want to be associated with that dislike. “Nope, the other kind of French.” I would reply, even though my looks said otherwise.

A few years later I went to Montreal with a friend. One night we were on the Tube, and I saw the reflection of a beautiful girl across from me in the mirrored glass. She had greenish eyes, reddish brown hair, and a medium complexion. I thought she was very pretty and was a little envious. Then my eyes caught my reflection right next to hers and I realized that we looked alike. I had the same complexion, hair color and eye color. Our builds were similar. Until that moment, I had been surrounded by people who did not resemble me whatsoever. I felt ugly until that moment where I realized that I shared this look with everyone around me.

That was a great day.

Earlier that summer, my cousin Larry helped me gain access to my birth certificate and I saw my birth mother’s full name for the first time. Patricia Therese Frappier. There it was. My French identity had been sealed with an accent ague. According to the papers, Patricia was living in Newburyport at the time. I was told later that it was a home for unwed mothers. This tells me that she was most likely from a Catholic family from the area. The blank signature line for the Father’s name also told me that she was alone. She took an ambulance to deliver me at the hospital because chances are she didn’t have anyone who could be with her. Her name was the only one on the certificate. He is a complete unknown. I had an idea of what half of me was, what was the other half made up of?

About 5 years ago, I decided to see what my DNA compilation album is and took the Spit Test that comes in the kit. I sent off my vial and didn’t think anything of it until an email found its way into my inbox with the results. 21% Native American. 20% Irish. Well, certainly explains a lot if you know me at all. Took “born to be an alcoholic” to a whole new level. I didn’t see ANY French Canadian, or a lot of Mediterranean. I did see some Greek, small percentage of Italian, and the token below 1% of African which supports the theory that modern humans began in Africa. Irish? Really? Wow. Native American? Even better.

Unfortunately, I know this is just a representation of what my makeup could be. I won’t really know anything until I hear more of my story. The DNA Pie does solve a few puzzles that I struggled with growing up so that was worth the $99 alone. Seeing a glimpse of who I am in such a unique way was truly breathtaking. The years of obsessing about Ireland makes sense to me now.

St. Patrick drove the snakes from Ireland, as the legend goes. Snakes represent old ideas and practices that are considered undesirable and mostly likely were the Pagan religions that were competing with Early Christianity. St. Patrick drove away the snakes and darkness, and brought in the light. My snakes are self-doubt, depression, self-loathing, and insecurity. I want to continue this journey to find out more about my origins but I can sense the fear growing when I see possibilities of where I can find the truth. I don’t want fear to keep me from asking a retired OB questions about Patricia, even though he may be bound not to answer them. Either way, the snakes of discontent need to leave this island. They need to be driven out from under the rocks and dark corners. Today, on this St. Patrick’s Day, I am ready to drive them out.

 

 

 

Day 10 of 30 Days of Gratitude: I am grateful for YOGA

Yes, I am grateful for YOGA. I am grateful for the peace I get at the end of each practice that quiets the pounding I do on my self esteem. I am grateful for the various poses I breathe myself into. I am grateful for being able to see progress each practice. Granted I feel like a sausage in yoga pants, and if my fat stomach would just find a place to go when I am in child’s pose then I would feel a little better about myself. My weeks feel incomplete without it.

When I was first laid off it felt so good to go almost every day. It was the only time I didn’t think about my former employer, or the people I felt betrayed me. An hour and a half of being in the moment helped me tremendously. Now I am wondering if this ‘down time’ I am experiencing emotionally is because I held off my mourning period through asanas. Regardless, I am going through it now and am hoping asanas can help me move through it.

Power yoga. Hot yoga. Candlelight flow. Vinyasa Flow. Even early morning at 6AM yoga. My brain is still racing back to the land of “This is all YOUR fault.” and the only way I can step out of it is by flowing into the next pose, breathing deeply, and waiting. Being. When I can reach further, stay in the form longer or even try something new the reward is ten-fold. I feel better. It doesn’t last as long as I would like, but as long as I am not in 6 months from now, homeless holding a sign outside of Stop and Shop, and instead just trying to make it to Savasna, then I think I am good.