Well, it’s always good to try something new I guess. Break a pattern.
I’ve been so hypervigilant at managing John that sometimes I’m sure I don’t see the forest for the trees.
Awoke to a message from the Director of the program saying he’d changed his mind and decided John couldn’t come today. He was scaring other clients yesterday with his outbursts about “killing” and “Hell”. I’m so desensitized to all that right now I feel like I’ve lost perspective on how frightening all that is.
BUT, they’d told me yesterday he could go today and be reassessed and see if his new meds just ordered two days ago had a chance to work. Then they pull this switch on me.
I kind of let him have it. Told him I’d arranged MY whole life around the assurance I was given yesterday by not one but two staff people right up to the end of the work day, that John could still participate.
Curve balls are not a good idea for anyone involved with Schizophrenia. Talk about reinforcing paranoia, he already thinks they all hate him (well he thinks I do too). Telling him he can come, then pulling the rug out just isn’t smart.
Yet I understand they can’t put one person ahead of all the others there who need their services.
John should have never been discharged from the hospital last weekend.
His Dr. doesn’t even look at him, much less me in appointments and disagreed with me two days ago that John needed to go back to the hospital. His interactions with John include a half hour visit every month where 90% of it he spends staring in to his computer screen. I’m over that too.
So, after fighting for John again, the Program Director agreed to let him come today and be assessed and take it from there. I’m going to let them manage the situation, as is their job, as if I wasn’t in the equation.
I’m not cancelling my plans and heading up to Sedona with my good pal Steve for some fun and checking on our new window coverings and to inject some kind of normalcy in to this life of mental illness. It will consume you if you let it. I will constantly be learning about what kinds of boundaries to set. On myself I mean.
Right now it seems getting out of town is my only solace. Just yesterday I went over to his house 3 times in the afternoon as his car was gone and he’s disappeared in a major way (for weeks) twice before. Luckily he was home by the last time I drove over. As much as I tell myself to not cave in to my hypervigilance I can’t control myself. I just keep checking.
I know what it’s like to have a sibling missing and the worst case scenario present itself. Lightning really can’t strike twice in a family, can it? Can I please catch a break?
Thankfully I have an appointment Monday morning with an attorney who specializes in mental health issues to help me navigate things like guardianship and the like. I need a Hero and I need him now.
I’m going to pack my car and trust John is just going to land where he lands today. Let’s see what his safety net can do without me–two case managers, two doctors, and a whole support staff at two facilities.
It’s time, at least for now, that I take off my own case manager hat and see where things land.
All I know is I’m landing here in about four hours, my own safety net.
Ok either this will be the most ballsy or the most narcissistic post of all time. And right now, I’ve reached a stage in my life where I don’t really care what anyone thinks about it..yay! Folks, there are liberations that come after turning 50. A distinct confidence in whatever blunders and awkward maneuvers just start to add to your charm, at least that’s how I’m rockin in. Hey, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!
So today I’m going to write about my face. I got my hair cut pretty short the other day. Shorter than it’s been in a long time. And darker. I just felt like a change and went for it. I’ll reveal that look at the end here (no pre scrolling peeking, I seeeee you!).
It got me thinking about my face. Because, honestly, I’m not a huge fan of my body at the moment. So to throw off the asymmetry further of my already imbalanced 30 lbs too much me from the neck down with a shorter haircut, it better have a purpose.
And what I decided after obsessing about my hair when I got home was I am deciding this haircut is an homage to my face.
I just may as well come out and say it.
I love my face.
I’m just gonna own it.
When you think about it though, it really has very little to do with me. It’s just what I got, luck of the draw, when I came in to this world.
There are many reasons I love my face.
First off, I just think it’s a good face. I think my face is a perfect balance of complex and fresh and simple.
Kind of like my roots now that I think about it. My mother, Dorothy, was literally a fresh faced farm girl from the cornfields of Illinois. She grew up in a small town, with a family farm, in rural LeRoy, Illinois.
My father, on the other hand, grew up in New York City raised in a certain level of sophistication, prep schools, Ivy League education, money.
Maybe my face blends those worlds, like my own version of Green Acres in every smile.
I also love that I can’t hide my emotions on my face. Ok sometimes that’s a love/hate situation but mostly it’s a love.
I love it that when I walked in to John’s case manager’s office a couple of weeks ago, he said “You are not doing well. Your face looks totally different today. Your normal shine is gone”. He was right of course. Sometimes as hard as it is, it’s just good to be seen in this world.
I love it that people tell me I look different in all kinds of moods. I love that I have a face that is unpredictable.
I love my nose. Which makes me laugh remembering once years ago, a rival gang in a blog war decided that I was basically hideous because of my “big nose”. That makes me laugh because I really love my nose. Sure it’s maybe big and kind of bumpy in a way (Cindy used to call it the “bumpy ball”) but it reminds me of my mother’s side of the family. And honestly I love the character it gives my face. I remember a friend of Cindy’s (and mine), Neal, used to back in the day call me “pastry nose”. He’d say “I just want to reach over and take a bite of it”. Love it.
I also love my eyes. I love the color and the shape. I think I have kind of cat eyes. I also got those from my mother’s side of the family and I really have my Uncle Junie’s eyes. I look in his face and I see such a reflection, especially the sparkle in his eyes. I know when my eyes are sparkling and when they are not. Another thing I can’t hide well.
I love my smile. That comes from my Dad I think. In fact, as I age, I think I look more and more like my father. And it’s because of the smile I think. Or maybe the way gravity is expressing itself on both of us. But I love looking at photos of us together and seeing our faces age similarly.
I love my skin. Which in itself is a miracle.
I got hit with a bad case of acne, oddly, after high school. I mean BAD. I went to Dermatologists and skin care professionals and was told over and over I’d just have to live with the scars (yes I had those deep pits). What a life sentence at age 20! And I knew even then I had a good face but it was literally scarred for life. Ouch.
Until I came to Arizona and went to one of those home parties -like a Tupperware party but for skin care. Their claim to fame was that all of their products were aloe vera based. I bought one thing. An oil free aloe face cream.
I’ll never forget looking in that dim lit mirror in the bathroom of my first apartment and thinking “those scars are filling in”.
And sure enough they did. I went from being a person who felt children stared at me in grocery lines because of my horrible pitting cystic acne, to a middle aged woman who gets compliments on her skin. Go figure.
Never get too attached to your misery I say. It can turn on you.
I love my lips. Now that has to do with mainly how I know how to use them. I won’t elaborate but I suspect any man I’ve ever made out with will attest to that fact. Dang I miss that. It’s coming. And I know it’s just like riding a bike.
Well I guess that’s enough self aggrandizement for one morning. But I’ll let you in on a little secret. I’m sitting here smiling after writing this post. I dare you to do one. You’ll see what I mean.
It’s good to toot your own horn sometimes.
But in this case I’m sending a nod back to my lineage. To all the faces before me that created this one and handed it to me for my use this time around. I do think I’m wearing it well. And I’ll lower it, closing my eyes in gratitude for one thing they made easy for me in this lifetime. Cuz God knows I got screwed in other ways. But not my face.
If someone invites you to walk through their personal Hell with them, you’d better go armed.
The tricky part is you usually have no idea what or who you are arming yourself against.
In my case, sometimes it’s my brother himself who just this week has thrown so many brick walls and dismantled metaphorical bricks in my direction that I’m vacillating between being frozen out and feeling emotionally assaulted.
Of course I realize all of this comes from his illness (and I do believe it all does-it’s all paranoid crazy thinking such as I’m trying to poison him and hate him and want him dead to inherit his furniture) yet that awareness doesn’t turn that bitter pill sweet.
The landmines you run in to in the “not crazy” part of your life are equally as blunt force and brutal sometimes though too.
Mentally ill people are not the only ones in the equation who become disenfranchised. Families and loved ones can fall right down through those cracks with them. I could write a whole blog on how this happens in the healthcare system (not a blog post, an entire blog itself) but that would just be too depressing. It is what it is. And that’s not what I’m here for.
I’m fortunate enough to have some background in the field so I can speak the language intelligently, combined with a Scorpion like persistence that I probably garner more respect and attention for my brother than most. I know that goes along as well in all kinds of health care, not just mental health.
But the mental health aspect has the added bonus of stigma that shows you things you like and loathe to see in the world around you.
As we lost Cindy at Christmas (her body was discovered Christmas Eve day 1988), that holiday is often very tricky for my family as you can imagine. Anniversaries are hard enough but top it off with a family holiday, it’s a lot.
We spent many years, frankly, just lost in the world trying to navigate without a compass much less a faint sense of True North.
My family has tried many ways to find ourselves in an environment that would both accomodate my brother and help alleviate our pain and in a grand sense of optimism, find a place of joy. And we do our best to cover it up so we’re not wearing it on our winter sleeves for the world to see. We’ve been fortunate to find this on a few occasions (thank you Pam, Jack and Ryan).
One year I had a good friend tell me she’d invite us over for Christmas Eve but “didn’t think (her) family could handle John”. That was like a double whammy on steroids.
Just recently I learned that a friend was concerned about John coming to their home for dinner as we’d been invited. When they were informed John wasn’t coming (he was really not well), this friend was concerned that I was coming without him. So I guess my only option, in this person’s mind, was to stay at home alone with John who was in a bad space in order for what? For their dinner party to not be disrupted with him even from afar? That I might carry his Schizophrenia with me to somehow infect their lovely orderly evening? That John who’s never had one trouble with the law before would suddenly burn up the house or something without me there monitoring him?
These kinds of things make an indelible impression on a person like me. If my brother had a spinal cord injury and was in a wheelchair and needed extra assistance for that reason, having a bad day, would that brother be disinvited to a holiday? A dinner party? Of course not.
It’s one thing to not know how to handle it. It’s another thing to alienate your friend, which in this case would be ME, because of your discomfort.
Now I’m getting worked up aren’t I?
Finding a way to manage this new life, with very little support such as it is and still have a tangible sense of my own life and circle is, what’s the word, well it’s it’s own field of landmines isn’t it?
I don’t know about others but for me, once I hit one explosion, then I don’t have the energy to armor myself against another. I am more apt to find a new path that at least looks clear.
I guess in a perfect world we’d like people to open their minds, understand the pressure and special needs involved here and still welcome a person like me warmly in to the circle. I’ll just say it. I feel like I deserve that.
Yet in reality, we all just want what we want. We all as humans prefer things to be comfortable. I know I do. But my family passed that gauntlet long ago. We’ve just learned a new norm with discomfort. Yet we still, generally are happy optimistic people. Go figure.
My life now is no longer the carefree easy fun party girl life it once was, not by a long shot. But I’m still fun. I promise. Most of the time anyway. That is if I’m invited.
I’m still here.
I’m realizing I need to find a way to drop my armor and find safe nests and get used to being alone even more than I already had. Or better yet, make room for those new faces who walk in smiling asking “so how is this for you?” offering a hand in understanding. I probably need some kind of support group. Well, not probably.
It’s times like tonite I wish I lived in a small town. You’re never more lonely than in a big city with no one to visit with yet you hear the neighbors across the walls of the townhouse.
Or maybe, after a long day of acute unrelenting psychosis overload, I’m just feeling sorry for myself.
I’m headed for a bath, a movie and a cozy bed.
Things will look better in the morning. They always do.
I’m going to take my mind back to the peace and tranquility I felt there to combat the fact that Alfonse has escalated back to a new level of paranoia, directed at me, thinking I’m poisoning him and wanting to “disown” me and that we’re all going to Hell. We may be back at the hospital today to do an involuntary admission. This crisis management style of living is not for the faint of heart.
I think if I can somehow learn to find my center in the midst of these unending hurricanes, I will have elevated to some kind of Zen mastery that people usually spend a lifetime in a monastery to achieve. At least my style of a path to enlightenment has softer surfaces and better food.
While I wait on hold for an assessment about how the rest of my day will look, I will return to the Ranch so I can remember what sanity and bliss looks and feels like. And anchor myself in to something real. I will never give up on John but I’ll also never give up on myself. John has his hospitalizations and I have mine in Tecate, Mexico.
To get to Rancho La Puerta, most people fly in to San Diego. Part of the package includes transportation down to the Ranch. I remember the first time I went, feeling like I’d been lifted in a velvet glove when I stepped on to that bus. I was handed a packet for my week, personalized to me with my schedule and all the info I’d need to manuever down there.
This is what the weekly schedule looks like. Look at how many options per hour, all stellar. And you’re right, that was my last mimosa at the airport. Oh yes I like to live it up with I travel.
The drive down to the ranch is gorgeous. This photo doesn’t really do it justice but I’m so dreamy looking out the window driving down there. The drive back isn’t quite as magical for some reason, even though it’s the same road.
I stayed in casita Flores 26 this time. It was near most everything yet still felt so private. I loved it and of course my TWO window seats.
you can also see my little patio there where I found my first two feathers (more on that later)
here on the mantle you see my prayer arrow I made from some of the feathers that came to me (more on that later too)
most evenings my nook looked just like this, see what I mean about soft surfaces?
they turn your bed down every evening- i love that
i even had a comfy big tub this time!
i read a poem from this book every morning, first thing I greeted the day with
Some gorgeous Ranch views here:
as you can see, there is beauty everywhere your eyes rest on
Including here :
that’s Manuel (fanning myself) after our Striptease class–my alltime favorite
I found these perfect T shirts the night before I went, brought one for me, one for Tracy. We were a big hit in class. Manuel even took our photo with him with his camera. Whew!
went to a jewelry making class one evening and made Alfonse a key ring
Here’s Tracy taking a photo of these fairy duster flowers on the dining hall patio
My last morning I went on a meditation hike and I was so bummed I’d forgotten my sunglasses until I took this selfie halfway through on top of the mountain. Duh!
Can you see the shark moving across the valley in the mist?
I always read this one book at The Ranch and finish it on my last night there.
And I always take a photo of myself when I’m finished, with tears in my eyes. The stains of those tears streaks were still on my face when I ran in to Juan Martinez later that evening.
i take this photo so I can always remember this feeling. It will be interesting to see how I compare 20 years from now taking this same photo.
one photo I forgot to add to my feet across the Ranch–so many beautiful sculptures everywhere
and how could I not include a photo of my beloved Sebastian? This one isn’t identical to the other one but close. I adore this man.
Guess I’ll leave this entry on this note.
Please hold a good thought for my dear brother in your heart today.
Oh Hi! I didn’t see you sitting there for a second while lost in space obsessing about purchasing a hammock for our Sedona house. Yes, I’m all about leisure and relaxation since I returned from my spa retreat.
Seeing I can’t build a window seat, I think the next best thing is a hammock on the patio, don’t you?
What do you think of this one?
With this pillow:
The location I’m intending to install this hammock will also have a direct view straight up to Thunder Mountain. Ahhhh…reading and relaxing in a hammock outside. Heaven.
I just love feathering this nest for my family. I love thinking of my Dad and brother as I make selections, like the motorized window treatments for my Dad. I’m thrilled at the thought of my Dad waking up in his cozy bed there and reaching over, pressing a button and the majesty of the best mountain view in the house revealing as that shade lowers before he even rises for the day.
And this hammock being sturdy enough and wide enough to comfortably cradle Alfonse, being a bigger guy. Also I think it would come as no surprise that I like to sprawl. 😉
It’s good to always keep imagining things at their best I think. Plus I’m a natural born Cozy Environment Creator (just made that one up-ha!). I think an element of cozy comfort is essential for, well, just about everything good.
Speaking of Alfonse, I picked him up and brought him home from the hospital yesterday, thank God.
When I got home from Rancho La Puerta, after my little encounter with prosecutor Juan Martinez WHO WAS ON MY SAME FLIGHT (oops did I just shout that?), I went right to see John in the hospital.
I saw Martinez boarding in San Diego and said a quick hello as I scurried past him (he got a middle seat, Southwest ya know). Ran in to him again at baggage claim and we had a nice long talk there plus at the curb after walking out together. He was very reluctant to tell me what he went there for “I don’t want to advertise it”. But I, being me, weasled it out of him with a commitment to keep my mouth shut (sorry). Let’s just say it’s out there should you want to google and he received a very high honor for his profession. He was given a really cool trophy that he had checked in baggage as it was kind of big. Good for him. He deserves it.
I don’t know if I was consumed with emotion just having left The Ranch and bawled my eyes out right before leaving, removing any trace of makeup that even had a chance to last on my face or the fact that I had this weird disheveled ponytail and a crumpled dress when I saw him so lost all hope at self consciousness, but I just overflowed with raw emotion talking to him. I told Juan Martinez how proud of him I was and as a crime victim survivor how much I sincerely appreciated his efforts and sacrifice for all crime victims. I told him I knew it wasn’t a well compensated job and one he’d devoted his entire life to and that wasn’t lost on me. And then I reached over and gave him a big unsolicited hug. And he hugged me back and did that little downward glance he does and smiled and thanked me nodding his head. It was really a moment.
He had given me his number one day in court for me to contact him about something so after asking me how I was doing with our case, appeals, the horrible Judge we had (he knew her by name without me telling him), he asked me to call him to meet for lunch sometime. Now don’t get any ideas on that. Juan Martinez has never been flirtatious with me even a smidgeon. He’s in a very long term committed relationship with someone and he wasn’t reaching out to me like that. I just get the feeling that he sincerely cares about me as a human being. Imagine that.
Ok well anyway, so back to Alfonse. The night I visited him on my way home, he wasn’t doing great at all, yet was scheduled for discharge two days later. I was a bit concerned as he was quite paranoid, yelled at a male staff member, told me over and over “I don’t care if everyone hates me, I’ll go to Heaven and people will like me there”. Things like that. He wasn’t connecting well with me at all. I spoke with his nurse who said he hadn’t been like that all day and this had just risen up. It can be that labile.
Oddly though, even through his paranoia directed to some regard at me, he gave me the longest deepest hug when I saw him. Like he was holding on for dear life. I hugged him back with the same ferocity. I guess it was an evening for hugging.
I just kept telling him I loved him, I’d made him a present and I’d see him the next day with cigarettes (he almost ran out while I was gone).
Sunday he was better, less voices, less paranoia.
When I walked in yesterday to retrieve him, I was greeted with a bright smile. He nearly ran over to me and wrapped his arms around me and if I’d eaten recently I might have had a Heimlech Maneuver projectile response. He just kept exclaiming “I love you my dear Sister, thank you so much for coming to get me”. There’s my Alfonse I know and love.
We finished up all the paperwork and met with Janet, the Social Worker my Dad had been talking to daily while I was gone that week. As we sat down, with John, in the meeting room he exclaimed “don’t I have the most beautiful sister? She was a cheerleader! They only take the beautiful girls as cheerleaders”. ha! It’s like night and day as just days before he was telling all the staff how evil I was and how I was plotting to kill him so I could take all his belongings and inheritance for myself. Sigh….paranoia doesn’t discriminate. I just normally am not included in it. Good thing it didn’t stick.
I took him out to lunch, then to the Indian reservation to get cigarettes. The whole way home, he kept thanking me “thank you so much for driving me here, I don’t like driving in all that traffic while I’m on my medication”. That was music to my ears because the less confident he is in driving the more easily I can keep track of him. He shook my hand that day in front of Janet assuring me he would only drive to the store and QT.
We also talked about putting him back on the Niacin we tried when he first moved out here. John was the most stable , for 9 months actually, when he was taking that Niacin. I’d purchased a book by Abram Hoffer, a contemporary of Linus Pauling the Vitamin C guru that was all about this theory. When John was living with me all last summer I put him on this protocol and he willingly tried it. We kept titrating his dose up until he had his first “Niacin flush” (essentially a hot flash) and then knew his dose.
Why I ever let him go off that reveals my own denial. People with mental illness will feel better then go off their meds and relapse. I guess caregivers like me are not immune to this phenomenon.
Anyway, he’s back on it so I’ll be curious to see just how important it is for his recovery.
Here is an interesting article on the Schizophrenia / Niacin connection if you’d like to read more:
I also spoke with John about staying off Diet Coke as he now had two whole weeks without it and he agreed. I explained to him that we need to make a focus on removing things that could be hurting his brain and doing things that could help it. He was alert enough to discuss this with me and he agreed to try it. “I’ll just drink water Kathy. I’ll be ok with water”.
I’m telling you, he just breaks your heart with sweetness sometimes.
I had tweaked my back that morning sanding the callouses off my feet (don’t ask) so I just reclined in his Lazy Boy while he settled in. I watched him nest around the condo, doing laundry, checking the frig, throwing things away, sitting down at intervals to pet his cat Lazlo and talk to him, lay on his bed, etc. It was so heartening to see John just behaving in ways that were normal. With Schizophrenia, a normal state of being is a state of bliss.
He wanted to spend the night by himself in the condo so I agreed. Balancing that fine line of giving him independence while standing guard over his mental health is something I’ll be learning my whole life probably. I want to consider him well and have him see that in me, expecting the best from him yet at the same time not let him fall through the cracks. It’s a tricky maneuvering sometimes.
John called me this morning, anxious. He said he’d not slept well last night, that the Prolixin was giving him “heart pain”. “I might have had a heart attack”. I’ve learned to not discount his fears and just assured him he could see the RN at Momentum and have her assess him. He showed up in the ER just last month thinking he was having a heart attack and actually did get a total cardiac workup and is totally clear in that dept. But there’s no reassuring that kind of fear.
I’m learning to just say “we will get it checked out at the Dr. tomorrow” (thankfully he has an appt) and let him be heard.
It’s more likely he’s experiencing anxiety but try to convince someone who’s anxious of that. You just stay with what is their reality and do your best to reassure.
So we’re out of the weeds.
John willingly went right back to Momentum (his day treatment program) today and asked me if I’d come spend the night with him tonite, fearing he might have a “heart attack”. So that’s what I will do. Happily.
One thing is for sure, I will never give up on my brother. To my dying day, I will hold vigil over his wellness and his capacity to heal. If I can do that for him , just imagine how I might apply that for myself.
My first encounter with Sebastian Skinner was on the bus down to the Ranch last Saturday. Now please pardon me, particularly you Sebastian if you are reading which I hope you are, as I’m going to reveal a side of me that may not be quite so attractive.
When I see men who look like Sebastian I often objectify them with preconceived notions. Well, first let me show him to you so you know what I mean.
But wait, put that head on a body that Adonis would aspire to and there you have it.
His head is almost shaved now and his beard more closely cropped but you get the idea. Tall, lean, six pack abs, smooth skin, cool tattoos and…well, all that.
Someone on the bus just assumed, understandably, that he was a fitness instructor at the Ranch and asked him what he taught down there.
He responded “I offer the Watsu and Waterdance” and launched in to what was probably the first of 606 explanations of what he practices, all delivered with the same even and passionate tone. He didn’t seem to tire of describing it to people.
Now I was a little surprised that he did Watsu there. I was expecting to hear something like “body sculpt” or “extreme cycling” or something uber fitnessy like that.
Watsu is a healing art and one I’ve been curious about for years. I just didn’t realize men who looked like that were drawn to something that subtle, that feminine for lack of a better word.
Ok so now that my preconceived impressions and objectifications are disrobed for everyone to see, let me explain to you how Sebastian Skinner proved me wrong and became a serious healer in my life.
The pool where they practice the Watsu is near one of the spas at the Ranch. It’s also across from the library and near the salon. So I walked past it at least once a day.
As I strolled past on my way to get my pedicure or take a jacuzzi and nude sunbathe in the spa or check out my library book, I noticed Sebastian in the pool offering a session.
I tried not to gawk and invade their privacy but what I saw kept catching my eye. That of a healer completely in tune with his patient.
I saw something that I really didn’t expect in this young handsome supremely fit and gorgeous man. He looked to me in a deep state of meditation and connection with his partner, oblivious to the outside world. Total focus.
It impressed me.
So much so that I decided to take the plunge and walk right in to that spa and make an appointment.
(lifted this from your Facebook page Sebastian, hope it’s ok)
The Ranch was pretty hot and sunny the beginning of last week. And I, being me, decided it would be kind of cool to test Mother Nature and nude sunbathe then take two water exercise classes back to back on my first day there, without sunscreen. Ouch! (don’t judge, I already know how over enthusiastic it was 😉 ).
So I picked a time in the evening when it wouldn’t be as intense with the sun and my sunburn.
7pm Thursday night sounded perfect. Gave me some time to ease in to the idea too.
Dinner at the Ranch is served between 6-7:30. This is a highlight of the day where we gather to share stories and experiences of our eventful days over white table cloths and four courses of healthy, gourmet, life enhancing meals. Some of my best memories and friendships made are over those dinners.
I love the fact that we are all showing up generally with no makeup, sometimes with our yoga clothes still on and hair piled up in a pony tail from the last class and no pretention.
That Thursday, Sebastian ended up in line with my friend Tracy and I and asked if he could join our table for dinner.
“Of course” we both chimed. You see by now, Sebastian had come up in many dinner table conversations already over the week. He was a bit of a Boy Wonder based on the sharings people were serving up about their amazing Watsu/Waterdance experiences. Words I heard describing him were “sweet” and “soulful” and “humble” and “amazing”. Not just the Watsu itself, but Sebastian himself.
I was so glad I’d made an appointment and kind of scared shitless at the same time. I know myself well enough to know that’s a good sign something’s about to shift.
Sebastian sat next to me at the white table clothed dinner table and in his usual quiet confident sort of Buddhist-like demeanor asked me how I was doing, that he was looking forward to our session in an hour and asked what I thought looked good on the menu.
Each evening there are four courses but two entrees to choose from. You can also choose the “combo” if you want a sampling of each. Which is great for the indecisive , like me. 😉 Sebastian quietly asked “what are you going to get? I think the combo looks good”–a Mexican tamale plate and an eggplant parmesan. I agreed.
(example of a dinner menu)
We enjoyed our first courses and told our waiter we were on the “fast track” dinner plan as we had to get to our appointment by 7pm.
Imagine my surprise when right after my salad plate was lifted, my “combo” plate was delivered in front of me. We normally order our entrees at that stage of the meal but mine appeared like a rabbit out of a hat!
“I ordered for you” Sebastian quietly said to me.
Little did he know, our session started right at that moment.
I’ve been caretaking my brother for so long and been out of the dating scene for over a year now that having a man take charge like that was something so foreign to me it literally took my breath away. Even as I write this I feel my breath becoming a little more shallow, just remembering that feeling. A gesture so simple yet so profound.
Careful what you ask for, they say.
We finished our meal just a little before 7 and Sebastian left first to set up the pool area I assume. I joined him there just in time for my session.
He first began by quietly explaining to me how the process goes down – the mechanics of it. He asked if I wanted to try the underwater portion of it called Waterdance.Of course, I replied. Just like dinner, I tend to want to try everything on the menu.
He explained that he would tap my third eye when it was time and then would lightly pinch my nose to signal he was about to apply the nose plugs. Then each time he was to submerge me, he’d tap me three times somewhere on my body, I was to take a deep inhalation, hold my breath then blow out half the air as he took me under in order to not float back up. He assured me he’d take me under in increments and that I could come up anytime I felt afraid or anything.
That’s when the panic set in. I’m very used to covering up how scared I am which of course I did this time but I keep it real here and the second he started cradling me in his arms like a baby gently swishing me from side to side I became consumed with thoughts of “I gotta get out of here!”. Lightning fast through my mind I’d convinced myself I could just pay him and leave the pool. This was too intense, too vulnerable, too intimate, too something.
Thankfully I know this feeling well and know to just breathe and ride it out, which I did.
Then the tremoring started bubbling up. It rose first in to my jaw, an uncontrollable wave of energy moving up and taking possession of my face. I just let my jaw shake and shake and then rising up behind the earthquake like a tsunami were the sobs. Tears in my eyes now as I write this. Long held tears for God knows what falling in to that 96 degree saline pool, the temperature of amniotic fluid he’d said.
Growing up without a mother, having lost mine at age 5 after her being sick and absent at least a year before that has crafted me in to a woman who knows how to nurture but not allow it in easily. That has shown up in my life over and over in countless ways. Yet the craving is deep.
The Ranch itself mothers me. But this took it to a whole new level.
This gorgeous, hunky, young beautiful man is one of the most maternal people I’ve ever met, at least toward me. Who would have guessed?
So much for my preconceived notions on the bus. I love it when I get proven wrong sometimes.
Once I’d released that flood of tears back to the womb, I finally was able to let go in to this Shaman’s arms. He’d gently placed his hand softly over my heart as I was crying and would at times stroke my face. I was able to fully let go in to that embrace, that intimacy and I began to heal.
Sebastian had mentioned at the table that he’d worked with a woman who he just knew wasn’t ready for the submersion portion as she just needed more time above the water’s surface to let go. As the timelessness of the session unfolded I wondered if that would be me. If it was that obvious that I’d had trouble letting go so he’d keep me at the surface. Which would be ok as at that point I really did trust him.
So I was delighted when I felt that tap to my forehead and the nose plugs applied. I knew we were going deeper now, together.
It was easy and hard until it was nothing but easy as he dropped me down over and over again, gaining more confidence with each deep dive. Finally toward the last several submersions I was feeling like I didn’t even need to know how to breathe. I was so completely safe and comfortable under the water being pulled and swirled and compressed and expanded and rebirthed. My lungs didn’t gasp as I surfaced but just emitted a tiny puff of stored air. It was as gentle as a dolfin, as sensual as a mermaid, as safe as baby in her mother’s arms for the first time. (more tears now).
(found this pic online but this is exactly what it looks like)
The words kept coming to me the entire last half of the session “you are being transformed right now…your life is changing”.
For me the experience was as much about the practice as the practitioner. I’d gone on a journey with Sebastian all week, learning to trust him, unbeknownst to either of us. I feel like God selected him to be there to help me heal in his arms. I do think it was that deep.
He gave me the post Watsu instructions and I followed them. I felt so incredibly and unexpectedly energized! I went back to my room and something kind of unusual happened. I walked in to the bathroom and the overhead light started dramatically flickering and buzzing. I wondered if the bulb was getting ready to burn out and turned it off.
I read for awhile then went to bed. Wide awake again at 4am I put on the bedside lamp to read and it started doing the exact same flickering thing. It was then that I realized my energy field was changing.
I walked away from the bed and the bulb went steady. I came back to it and it started flickering.
Now I knew we were in new territory and my entire field was undergoing an expansion and transformation.
I just know it was from the Watsu.
This trip was my fourth time there and I can easily say this was the peak experience of all the peak experiences I’ve had at Rancho La Puerta.
When I got out of bed the next morning, I put on this song, one of my all time favorites. I probably listened to it at least 30 times during my week down there. I realized this is the soundtrack to my Watsu session. I also realized that if I had my choice of how to be ushered out of this life, out of this body at the end of this lifetime, I’d like it to be in a Watsu session with this music playing in the background. Take a listen and prepare to get dreamy.
There is so much to add but I will just include that during my trip down there, representing a distinct shift in my asking for what I need and my father listening and responding, he offered to send me back again this year “as soon as possible”. He heard how desperate things have been with John and how depleted I’d gotten and he wants to help me, hold me up, support me so I don’t drown.
So I decided I’ll do Watsu again at the Ranch for my birthday in November.
I want to be reborn again in my 54th year. As I outlived all the females in my family the year I turned 37, every passage is stepping in to new territory, sometimes terrifying, sometimes exhilarating, always daunting.
I will be ushered in to my next chapter this year in 96 degree saline water, cradled, supported, loved by a beautiful Shaman.
I hope it’s Sebastian’s week again that week but I will trust God to send me exactly who I need.
In the meantime, I’m watching lights and lamps and signs of life all around me as I keep swimming through my year, through my life.
My Shaman Sebastian and me at the Friday night party
Take a look at a video explaining Watsu and Waterdance by Sebastian’s teacher and Warm Water Alchemy Founder Dave Towe
Thank you Sebastian Skinner for taking me deep and helping me transform.