Dating a Double Amputee

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He will always have prosthetic legs.

That will never change.

 

He’s chosen to embrace it, he’s chosen to embrace the thing that’s made him different. He uses the story of his injury, and his positive outlook on life to inspire and motivate others. He wears shorts without giving it a second thought. It’s been seven years so he’s had time to work through any self-consciousness he’s felt. He’s made peace with himself just exactly as he is. And if you ask him, he’ll say that he wouldn’t change a thing about the accident or his injury, because it’s made him into the person he is today. And he really is amazing.

 

But I’ve had my own process to work through in dating this man, this double amputee that I’ve fallen in love with...

~Seeing him without his legs on- Everyday he takes his legs off before he goes to sleep at night, and puts them on again when he wakes up in the morning.

~Worrying about whether or not he'd fall in yoga class, and worrying about him feeling embarrassed if he did.

~Getting comfortable with the attention he receives, because everywhere he goes, people look and people ask.

~And wondering, would the kids feel embarrassed at the attention he receives, at the playground or at school?

 

The worries and the self-consciousness made me feel guilty. I felt like I was being shallow.

 

And then I wrote about it. I finally moved through the writer's block I'd been having and wrote about what had been just underneath the surface. I took my feelings out of hiding. Surely he had had his own process of embracing his legs, embracing the attention, embracing the falls, and I would have mine too. Instead of feeling ashamed of my feelings, I met them with compassion and understanding. And I was honest with him about my feelings. I spoke from the heart and I was met with love.

 

And now instead of feeling self-conscious, I feel proud, thanks to a friend’s loving advice. His legs are a symbol of all he has been through, of all he has overcome.

 

Ultimately it’s about accepting him for ALL of who he is, and isn’t that the magic ingredient for unconditional love, and isn’t that the challenge in so many relationships? Accepting the ones we love just exactly as they are? And isn’t that what we’re all here to do- support, love, and lift each other up?

 

Yes, I believe it is. And a part of the process of accepting ALL of him has come from accepting ALL of me, and meeting my real feelings with compassion and understanding, instead of judgment. 

 

Inspired, challenged, and filled with gratitude for this path that I’m on, and in love. I am in love with a man that is teaching me how to love better.

 

Falling in Love Again.

It’s been 3 ½ years since my husband’s death. Over the years there have been men who have stirred little flutters in my heart here and there, and they helped remind me that love would grace my life again. But with all the grieving, the mothering, and the finding my own way again, it just wasn’t the right time, and there just wasn’t the right person yet. I stayed positive and hopeful that the great love I was seeking would arrive at a time when I was most ready, healed, and whole. After marking the three year anniversary of my husband’s death, I felt a shift. I had undergone a great deal of healing, my kids were getting more independent, I began gathering a foothold in my business, and I was ready to look and feel radiant again. I began the journey of falling in love with myself.

I made it a daily priority to offer myself an act or offering of self-love, and I journaled about the ways I could love myself through the everyday challenges of life. I quit smoking and I began writing letters to my future soul mate; I knew he was somewhere out there! Three months after I began the journey of falling in love with myself, I fell in love with the man who was everything I had been dreaming up! He was like an answered prayer, and the beautiful part was that he arrived in my life at a time when I felt whole, healed, and radiant all on my own!

The man! Kevin Johnson.

The man! Kevin Johnson.

We found each other at Whole Foods! I first noticed his handsome face, his cool tattoos, and then his legs- he had two prosthetic legs from the knee down. We noticed each other a few times in the store while we shopped. I ended up behind him in line. We made eye contact and shared a few polite words. I walked out of Whole Foods, and there he was again at his bike. I walked past him, we smiled at one another, and then something told me to go back and talk to him. I turned around and he was already looking in my direction. He would tell me later that he had been struggling to come up with the perfect words to start a conversation with me… I walked up to him, I looked at his prosthetic legs, and asked him what had happened. I was instantly drawn into his openness, to the depth I saw in his eyes, and to the inspiring story of how he had survived and found a way to thrive through an 80 foot ziplining fall he’d had six years ago, while giving a tour. I told him the story of my husband’s death, and of the kids I had to get home to- He was so tender-hearted, and I felt so comfortable with him. I gave him my business card, and I couldn’t wait to talk to him again.

That was nearly four months ago. And here I am on an airplane, on my way back home after a weekend getaway together in Seattle. My heart is so full. My kids love him, I love him, and he honors the love I shared with my husband, and welcomes my memories from the past. I cried when I left Seattle as he stayed behind to finish his business trip, as I was just so overwhelmed with the gratefulness that I felt for the love we were creating together!

My grief still comes in waves, as I’m sure it always will, but I know now that there’s enough space for all of it- for the new love that’s here now, and for the love and pain from my past. My new love embraces my kids with his heart wide open, and sends love out to my husband. I’m so inspired by this man who thrives as a double amputee, who is an incredible athlete, a meditator, a motivational speaker, and who radiates love and resilience. This is a man who inspires me to be the best version of myself!

Never lose faith in the possibility of great love, great love is always possible when you believe!

 

No Longer My Husband

I pulled one of the cards from my angel deck that read, “Release Your Ex,” and at first I thought, well, I think I already have… I spent the last 3 ½ years processing my grief, healing, and finding my way again, and at this point in my life, I feel pretty darn good.

But that card kept ringing in my head.

And so before bed that night, I consciously asked to release any “married” energy that might stand between me, and falling in love again with someone new. And then it dawned on me, I was still referring to Mitch as my husband in my conversations with others, and in my own thoughts. I decided the only appropriate way to talk about him would be as my late husband, or as simply, my girls’ father. And in my mind, I reassured Mitch that I was ready for his Earthly roles to be fulfilled by someone new and by someone very special. And that felt ok, that felt right. I will always love Mitch, and I’m sure that he knows that.  

The next morning I spoke with my best friend, and she told me that that night she’d had a dream about me and Mitch, and that in the dream, we weren’t together anymore, and that we both seemed at peace with that.

Honor wherever you are in your own process, and no judgement, only love.

 

 

Journal Prompting:

What in your life is seeking release?

What doors need to close in order for new doors to open?

What would you love to say yes to right now?

What in your life is calling out for a deep surrender?

The Pre-Dating World

Styling and Photography:  Peter Lin Carrillo.

Styling and Photography: Peter Lin Carrillo.

I wouldn’t go as far as calling what I’ve been doing dating, but more like talking, entertaining possibilities… I was married, happily married, (don’t get me wrong, we had our share of downs too), but the point is that I liked being married, and I never chose to get unmarried, but life had different plans… So, it’s easy for me to be married, feel married, act married, even though I am so not married, and at this point just getting my feet wet, merely entertaining the ideas of what it might mean to start a new relationship.  So, needless to say, it hasn’t been the cleanest, easiest transition. In fact, I feel like I’m quite bad at the whole thing! Oh, and so easy to fall into playing the roles you used to play, and project onto others the roles played by past lovers… So, how to be present, and actually tune into whoever it is that is standing right in front of you? Be present, be compassionate with yourself and give yourself lots and lots of grace through it all. And the only reason I can say that with any sort of confidence is because that is precisely what I was not doing… So, I think so far, this particular season for me is all about loving myself even when I have imperfect deliverance with my communication, even when I am triggered by my past and freak out, even when I feel totally unlovable, even when I’m convinced I’m in love at “hello,” even when I stumble and fall along the way and make an ass out of myself… cause if I can stick around and love me long enough to help me up, dust off the dirt, give me a hug, a pep talk,  a dose of humility, and lots and lots of patience, well then, that is just a beautiful start to this whole new world of pre-dating for me. And so yesterday, my friend, photographer, and stylist, Peter Lin Carrillo took my photo. Lots of them actually, to help me with the re-branding of my business, provide photo content for my new online courses and workshop series, and little did I know, help me step into feeling beautiful again after the busyness of grieving and mothering. And so, perhaps this pre-dating world will also get easier as I step into owning who it is that I am and loving that woman, and feeling beautiful and on top of my game, as it relates to all aspects of life. Ready to own it! Wish me luck :)

"When you think of love, do you think of pain?"

“When you think of love, do you think of pain?” How many of us are carrying around all the pains of what we experienced as the result of an open heart? These song lyrics struck a chord in my heart. I loved with all of my heart, and then the person who I loved died. My heart was broken. 2 ½ years has shown me that we have the tremendous ability to heal and mend our wounds, and that the desire to give and receive love is as natural as anything… And so then, in moving on from a broken heart (all in our own natural timing, of course), what do we want to carry forward into the future, into our next experience of love? Cause those lyrics, “when you think of love do you think of pain,” resonated me with very deeply because when I think of Mitch, yes, I think of the love we shared, but I also think of the sheer earth shattering pain of what it was to lose him… and do I want to carry that pain and that fear of loss into the next relationship? Cause I know now, death is a real possibility, break-ups, betrayals, they are all real possibilities, but do I want to carry around a shield to protect myself from those potential heart-breakers, or do I want to be mindful that those potentials exist and risk loving anyway? Cause the thing is, it feels so good to love, and it feels so good to receive love, it feels so natural… So, to hold it all, cause the potential in living with an open-heart is to experience the greatest love and the greatest pain. And in playing it safely, am I really willing to forgo loving again with all that I am? No, and that is a choice we make, and it’s a choice that takes courage, especially if we’re wise to how painful it can feel, and also to how damn good it can feel. And so I can choose to look back with the fondest of memories, knowing that a heart open to love is a beautiful thing indeed.

Finding My Way Again.

Sifting through a life of dreams, he was the captain of our ship, and when he died, all of our dreams seemed to die too, or were just lost in the confusion of it all… which were mine, which were his, and which were ours?

In an instant, 2 ½ years after his death, it all comes flooding back to me as I walk though the campgrounds across the street from my house. And there it was, a symbol of all we’d dreamed, in a 6x12 homemade camper. My heart swells. Wait, that was my dream too. He opened my eyes to a whole new way to exist in this life, and it always seemed like his. Until I saw that little camper, and I remembered my own heart. Dreams of  homestead living in the redwood forests of Northern California, mine, consciously living in harmony with the Earth, mine. Oh my gosh, my heart sinks into the pit of my stomach, a deep ache for all that I’d forgotten that I loved in this life. He showed me the way, yes, and then he died, but these dreams were still very much alive in my heart. He awakened in my heart these dreams, and they were mine now too. He opened the door for me to finally walk through, and with tears, I find the love again, and I release a little bit more of the ache. Oh love, disentangling myself from the pain that came from the loss. I feel my heart open a bit more. Scared as hell, I decide to let my heart lead anyway, with a new commitment to myself to remember my heart, and to follow the path of love.

Love looks a little different now...

Oh the topic of love… I have spent many months praying for the moment when I feel ready for love again… setting my intentions around letting go of my marriage, letting go of my sadness, to open to the prospect of falling in love, the head-over-heels dizzying kind. And then I reconnected with an old friend from childhood, and my gosh, it felt so good to share in the friendship, it was so comfortable, felt so safe, so much laughter and easiness, so much flow in our conversation. And then all of a sudden, my ideas about love shifted... Yes, I still wanted the head-over-heels dizzying romance part, but I also wanted the friendship, the trust, the laughter, the easiness, the fun, the playfulness, the emotional sharing and deep conversations long into the night… My husband, Mitch, and I had the head-over-heels dizzying part of love, but the friendship took much longer to cultivate, in fact we were still cultivating that part up until he died… Reconnecting with my friend from childhood helped transform the concept of love for me. Unfortunately, this friend of mine lives a five hour plane ride away, and even if it blossoms into nothing more than a rekindled friendship, I will be forever grateful for the shift in my definition of love that our relationship provided.

A Widow's Journey Through Parenting, Two Years Later...

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There’s been some sadness under the surface… just out of my awareness… too busy, too healed to get sad… But then today, out for a walk with Ava and Amelie and we met some of our neighbors, a young couple, around my age, so happy, and somehow I mentioned Mitch, and that he died. And then I thought, why did I just bring that up with complete strangers? Cause as I walked away I nearly started crying, and I haven’t cried over Mitch in a while… I knew I needed to come back to my sadness after the girls went to sleep for the night, and so that brings me to the present moment. Here I am writing about it, processing it, cause I know by now that feelings don’t just go away because we are asleep to them… Sadness. I watched a few videos of Mitch tonight, just to hear his voice, see him again in action. And it hit me, as time moves along, Ava’s memories are getting farther and farther away from her consciousness. I asked her the other day if she remembered her daddy or if she just remembered him through pictures, and she shook her head no that she didn’t remember him, but that yes she remembered him through the pictures… Oh, this is where the sadness has been. Even as I type the words, as they spill out onto the screen, tears, and there haven’t been tears in a while. She doesn’t remember him anymore, and Amelie never even met him. And he was such an awesome guy. They’ll never really know how much I loved him apart from the way I talk about him, the stories that they hear, or the pictures that they see. And that’s what’s been hurting my heart. Ahhh, the tension in the back of my heart has softened, I understand why I just “brought it up” with that younger couple this evening… these feelings needed witness, they needed moving. They needed release. I told Ava a few times over these past two years that when the time was right, a loving man would come into our lives that would do all the things that a daddy would do. Her eyes lit up, she wanted to meet him immediately… I do want that for my little girls. I want them to have a dad. I’m focused now on building my business and my financial platform, fully healing from my broken heart, and being mom and dad to the girls, but when the time is right, me, Ava, and Amelie will fall in love with a very special man, someone that would be Mitch-approved. A lovely vision indeed. And so for now and for always, I’ll tell Ava stories about Mitch, the adventures, the love. She and Amelie will always know how loved they were by their daddy.