Silver Linings

Look at the world with the wonder of a child. Have fun, just for the fun of it. Look at the world with new eyes. Endings,although painful, are openings for new beginnings. Endings are transitions into new beginnings. Close the door and move on to a new adventure.

Don’t allow endings to block your view of a hopeful future. Endings may cause confusion and sadness for a period of time but don’t allow those temporary emotions to keep you from envisioning the joy and happiness that new beginnings will bring into your life. You only must allow the new beginning to come in.

Look back on what you have learned through the pain but do not allow that to sabotage a future filled with happiness and wonder.

Think deeply. Love profoundly. Find those you resonate with and gather them in close to you. Appreciate what you have and be grateful for those around you.

Look deeply and find the new through child-like faith and wonder.

Tell the past goodbye. Close the door on it. The past does not have to be repeated if you learn the lessons you were meant to learn, take the good, discard the bad and move on.

Remind yourself over and over again to look for the silver lining and on that, place your focus.

Turn the light back on.

A sign of intelligence is that you are constantly wondering.  Idiots are always dead sure about every damn thing they are doing in their life. -Vasudev-

I am a creature of habit.  Consistency and predictability feel good to me.  I love to have fun but it’s better when it’s predictable fun.  The kind of fun where I know where I’m going, I know where I’m going to stay when I get there and I know what I’m going to do while I’m there.  I like knowing when I’m leaving and when I will return.  I don’t have to have everything planned down to the second (a rough estimate will do)  but I’m much more comfortable being able to anticipate possible outcomes.  I do this with everything.  Not just fun stuff.  I am a recovering control freak and I hate admitting it. See if you can wrap your mind around this.  It’s not so much that I want to control everyone around me… I want to control MY environment.  And if that means I have to control the people around me so that MY environment remains safe and stress free, well, I will do my damn best to do so.

Being the ever wondering woman that I am, I traced this all back once again to fear. I can even take it one step further into the labyrinth of my psyche and tie it all up in the big red bow of the fear of not being able to fix an unanticipated problem should it occur.  I’m a fearful control freak fixer.  How’s that for a title? Yes, I was the family Savior who offset that intensity with a shot of comedy which came in handy for disarming warring parties.  If I see I can’t fix a situation, I will most definitely fling some dark humor at it.  Usually it works like a charm.  It’s unexpected.  It catches people off guard and causes them to stop fighting and start laughing.  At the least, it distracts whoever is holding the grenade long enough to reconsider pulling the pin and lobbing it into the middle of the room.  Just for kicks and giggles let’s amend my title to Fearful, Funny, Control Freak Fixer. That’s a lot of “F’s”.  When I seriously think about these things, I’d like to say a lot of “F’s” but not the ones in that title. I’ve done these things so long, I have earned a PhD in Fearful, Funny, Control Freak Fixing!  FFCFF for short. That’s a highly dysfunctional degree. Thank you, thank you very much.

People like me usually avoid change like the plague.  Change is uncomfortable.  Change is scary. Even good change is stressful so it produces the same physiological effects as bad stress.  Even good stress causes rapid heart rate, sweating, dizziness, shortness of breath, rushing adrenaline, etc.  Just like bad stress causes.  Physiologically, good stress and bad stress are no different.  They are only different in how they are perceived.  The physiological manifestation is also the same in fear as it is in falling in love.  Give that a minute to sink in.  The positive form of stress which is beneficial is called “eustress.”  Something like moving to a better house is stressful but it’s eustress.  Rooting out old destructive thought patterns, defense mechanisms and self-defeating behaviors cause eustress.  It hurts but this is one kind of unpredictable fire I will hurl myself into with little hesitation.  I will gladly take on personal suffering if it brings about positive transformation in my life which then flows outward into the lives of the people I love.  If Mamma ain’t happy, nobody’s happy.  Intentionally or unintentionally.

Taking a new direction in life is not always done because you want to.  Sometimes you do it out of necessity.  The old ways aren’t working anymore.  Maybe they never worked but you’ve finally figured out the problem wasn’t everyone else…. it was you all along. Human beings only decide to change when it becomes too painful not to. Intensely personal, big change shakes things up.  Endings and new beginnings cause inner conflict, obstacles (both inward and outward) and general mayhem.  It usually has to get much worse before it gets better.  Re-breaking an improperly healed bone hurts like hell but it has to be done unless you want to limp for the rest of your life.  I’m tired of limping.  I’d like to run or maybe at least kinda jog.

You can’t get a PhD in FFCFF (or the other highly specialized degrees in familial dysfunction) just anywhere.  You have to get it from your family of origin.  They are the ones who have the secret rules and regulations that are passed down from generation to generation.  Your family of origin keeps the storehouse of information you must memorize locked tightly away and they dispense snippets of dysfunctional wisdom to you as you grow up. Finally one day you’re just as educated in outdated coping mechanisms and clouded insights as the rest of the gang.

I’m not only fascinated by the study of spirituality and psychology but also by genealogy.  My people have always been such a mystery.  There was very little family heritage discussed and I discovered through my research it was because there was an awful lot of trauma that these people lived through.  They either just didn’t want to talk about any of it or they couldn’t understand it themselves.  The information I’ve uncovered going back 5 generations and more is sad indeed.  Very unfortunate things happened.  Four and 5 generations ago there was an inordinate number of orphans in different branches of my family tree.  One generation after another, children were losing at least one and sometimes both their parents to then be raised by other people who may or may not really have had an interest in caring for them.  This was on both sides of my family.

For instance, my great grandmother on my mother’s side was widowed twice by the age of 35 and only had 1 child (my grandmother).  I could not locate her on any later census records so it appears that she died also.  My grandmother survived and went on to marry a man, have 12 children and then be abandoned by him. My mother was one of those 12 children and she wound up in a Baptist Children’s Home with the other siblings until she turned 18. What an emotional train wreck.

My great-great grandmother on my father’s side of the family was also widowed very young and had only one child from that marriage. That was my great-grandmother. My great grandmother married a man and had 4 children.  After discovering that he was having multiple affairs and drinking constantly she divorced him even though it was the 1950’s.  One of those 4 children was my grandmother.  My grandmother married a man and had 3 children. He moved her to Washington state and abandoned her there with their 2 children. On top of that, she was expecting another child at that time.  She had a college education, luckily, so she went to work to take care of herself and her 3 children.  He showed back up again and moved them to Idaho.  Finally he moved them all back to our home state, then took it upon himself to disappear yet again.  When he was found, he had become a black jack dealer in Las Vegas, Nevada.  He finally came home and she allowed him to come back into the family.

I’m telling you these family stories to establish a framework, a flow chart of sorts, to help you to see how family dysfunction doesn’t just spring up overnight.  It is planted, fertilized and it grows. The stories of death, widows, widowers, orphans and abandonment go back even further than the ones I’ve mentioned. Generation after generation of fear, anger, loss, sadness and despair pile upon each other when nothing extinguishes or counteracts any of it.  Layer upon layer it builds, rotting and stinking until it’s so deep that everyone is flailing in the muck, drowning and dragging anyone they can grab hold of down with them.  They don’t intentionally want to drown anyone else, they just want out and their own flailing destroys those that come near.  It is a black hole of angst with a soul crushing gravitational pull that seems inescapable.  Things aren’t always as they seem.  It can most certainly be escaped.  The deal is though, that someone has to figure out what is going on and put a stop to it.  Someone has to find the main power source and flip the switch. The gravitational pull that has kept everyone struggling in the dark has to be broken.

My personal excavation of long dead ancestral stories has proven fruitful.  I have located the main power source that has fueled the black hole which consumed them.  I’m flipping the switch.  No more. It stops with me.  As much so as I possibly can.  I don’t want this legacy for my children, even though once again history has repeated itself in my generation.  My oldest son grew up a child of divorce and at the ages of 1, 2 and 7, my youngest children lost their father to death. I too became a young widow.  It seems like a curse, doesn’t it?  A repeating set of circumstances that keeps presenting itself until someone learns the lesson to be gained from it.  I think I’ve got it.  My finger is poised on the switch.

I am in no way saying I’ve discovered the secret to cheating untimely, young, physical death.  I am speaking of something much bigger than that.  Physical death is simply a transition from one life form to another.  We are energy spirit beings and we do not die.  We change forms.  When the biological form we now inhabit ceases to have the ability to sustain life, by either being broken beyond repair or simply wearing out from decades of use, the form stops functioning.  It dies.  Like an old motor vehicle that just won’t start and run anymore.  When the biological form we inhabit  is of no further use to us, our true selves, our spirit beings, step out of the vehicle and into a new and different existence.  Death is just another part of life.  It is guaranteed.  If you have been born into this world, you will one day pass out of it by the process we call death. Whether tragically young, at a ripe old age or somewhere in between.  Death will happen to us all.  Bearing that in mind we can cross that off as being the main power switch that needs to be flipped to shut down the black hole.  Death cannot always be predicted or circumvented.

I want to paint a picture so vivid for you that you cannot help but feel the magnitude of my discovery and then consider it long enough in respect to your own lives, that insight can occur to assist you in your own personal growth and change.

What I have discovered is that the main switch that got flipped was a switch that had been shut OFF.  Not turned on.  The switch that was flipped off long, long ago which cast my family into darkness was labeled…..

L O V E

I’m going to try to draw as much of a straight line as I can to connect the dots.  I want you to be able to see and make sense of how this all began and then snowballed into the tangled knotted mess that it became.

In the beginning, it appeared that the men, the fathers, died or were killed in war.  Records showed they were solid citizens who owned land and earned money to provide for their very large families.

The families appear to have been separated so that other members of the extended family could assist in raising the numerous children.  This was obligation and not necessarily because the children were loved or wanted.  It was the way things were done way back then.  You “took care of your own” whether you wanted to or not.  Most families had many, many children.  Ten or more children was not uncommon.  That is a lot of mouths to feed and taking on someone else’s young children was a burden.  They weren’t old enough or big enough to work on the farms or be productive in any way.  The orphaned and abandoned children were basically housed and fed until they were old enough to be put to work.  When they could leave and be on their own they did.

These children never knew what it felt like to be consistently loved. They never knew what it was to be wanted. They never knew what it felt like to be safe within their own home.  They were picked up and carted off at such young ages that they didn’t know why they were being taken away… they just were.  FLIP!

They grew up feeling they didn’t fit in and knowing they were a burden.  They worked as soon as they could and they left as soon as they could.  Alone.  FLIP!

They married and had children of their own.  They knew how to work but they didn’t know how to love.  How can a person know how to love if they have no understanding of what love really is?  People who never received the unconditional nurturing love of parents have short circuits emotionally.  Guess work is all a person like this can do.  Guessing and mimicking superficial examples they observe in others who appear to have this thing called “love.” Maybe love appeared to be a house to live in and something to eat every day.  Maybe that’s love.  Maybe love is having a spouse. But once you acquire a spouse, you have to take care of  that person not just physically but emotionally. There’s more to it than just possessing another human being and calling them “wife” or “husband.”

And what about the children that came out of these relationships? They were children, being raised by an adult or adults, who didn’t know how to love anyone, because they were not loved themselves when they were children.

You cannot give something away that you do not possess.

Down through the generations of loss and abandonment, the women in my family formed very dark opinions about men. I know for a fact what my grandmother and great-grandmother thought.  I know because they drilled it into me from an early age.

  • Men are bad.
  • The only thing men want is sex with whomever will give it to them.
  • Men are undependable thus worthless.
  • Men leave.
  • If you want anything in this life, do not sit around thinking some man is going to give it to you.  You get your butt educated and take care of yourself. Nobody is going to take care of you but you.
  • If you want children, fine.  But don’t expect to get any help from a man in raising them or caring for them.  He’ll be around about long enough to make them, then he will be off to another woman.
  • Don’t let a man run over you.
  • He’ll use you for a doormat as long as you lay there.
  • Own your own property.  That way, when he leaves you, you will have a safe place for yourself and your children.

My God, my God. These women who came before me were living in utter darkness and had no hope whatsoever that life could be, should be, was INTENDED to be different. They didn’t believe good men existed, so, there were only differing degrees of bad, hurtful men.  The way they understood men was sort of on a continuum. Like a scale from 1 to 10.

A (1) on the scale could possibly kill you in a drunken rage.  A (10) might intermittently have a job and maybe go to church with you on Easter and Christmas.

The men who appeared better than that on the surface were surely liars and probably secretly beat their wives, or gambled or drank too much.  Just not in places where anyone would ever see any evidence.  I am not kidding.  To put it on paper in black and white reveals the absolute absurdity of their skewed belief system.  I remember my aunt saying, “Even ugly men cheat.  They just cheat with ugly women.”  Oh my God in heaven above please help me!  Their beliefs were absolute blanket statements that left no wiggle room. Half the world’s population was determined to be evil or at the least just ignorant and useless. What a crock of shit.

The black hole caused by the initial deficit of love so very long ago had sucked these people in so far that they didn’t even believe love existed.  It was just a fairytale.  The words, “I love you”, were reserved for children on occasion but that didn’t come easily either. I think there was a fondness between some of the adults but never any outright displays of affection or verbal affirmation.

My saving grace came in the form of my grandmother who raised me until she died a couple of weeks after I turned 13 years old.  She taught me that courage was being afraid but doing good things anyway.  She saw to it that I had formal music lessons and became a classical pianist.  She instilled in me that education was the key to everything and not going to college wasn’t an option.  She showed me the unconditional love of a parent for a child. She believed in me.  She was my only safe place. And then she was gone.

There was a second time that light penetrated the darkness that I had inherited. It was the bright flame that my husband, the father of my three youngest children, bounded in with and waved around in front of my face.  He waved that light around and said things to me like, “I love you,” and “I’m not going to leave you,” and “I know you don’t believe me but I’m going to show you.”  He even told me once he was going to “wear me down.” And he did just that.  I learned that there really are good men. He showed me that it didn’t matter how difficult things got, he would absolutely never leave me. He knew how to love and once he started loving me he never stopped… until someone killed him.

It doesn’t matter what the struggle is that you, me or anyone else comes up against in life.  Struggles will come.  That’s just the way it is on planet earth.  The difference in how the story plays out is whether you face that trouble with love or you face it with fear.  I’ve said before that I believe hate is not the opposite of love.  Fear is the opposite of love.

Where fear abounds, the light of love will be snuffed out.

The women that came before me wore their thorny crowns of fear jammed tight onto their heads.  The branches of suspicion, mistrust and doubt kept out any new ideas or fresh hope that could have changed their way of moving and being in their lives.  The blood of their ancestors suffering dripped down their creased brows and into their tired eyes, blinding them to any hand of love that may have reached out to wipe it away.

I choose to defeat fear.  I choose to defeat fear by acknowledging it and dismissing it, with a wave of my hand or a nod of my head.  I choose to believe there are good men as well as good women in the world.  Simply by acknowledging these things and changing my expectations, I flip the switch marked L O V E back on in my life. I don’t have to accept pain and mistreatment as a standard.  I get to choose to move through the tunnels of sadness that will sometimes appear in my life, always following the beacon of light that ever beckons me to break free once again into the warm light of love. You see, the love never leaves us.  It never goes away.  The dark times that come, only dim our experience of the love for a short while, unless we focus on the darkness.

What we focus on, we become.

My desire is to focus so steadfastly on the light of love, that eventually I will become that light.  What I have, I can give away to those who need it and want it.

My ancestors did the best they knew to do with their limited understanding.  If they would have learned better, they would have done better.  They weren’t ready.  We evolve as we are so able.  I thank them for the good things they taught me. I thank them for shelter, food and clothing. I thank them for the music they gave me. I proudly take that with me. I release the skewed generational teaching that fear makes me safe by barricading my heart away from others.  I allow those illusions and delusions to go.

As I write these final words, I am weeping.  The profoundness of this discovery is so far-reaching that it changes absolutely everything.  Not just for me but for my children and my children’s children.  For the good people in my future who will show up wanting to love me and who need my love.  I will allow love and give love and accept love with an open heart that is unafraid.  This is big stuff.

The light of love is on and I am home.  Finally.

Love,

Me

Who am I?

IMG_2741“Forget safety.  Live where you fear to live.  Destroy your reputation.  Be notorious.” –Rumi

Who am I?

For the longest time, I lived my life based on my perception of what others wanted me to be. While I was entrenched in this way of thinking, I didn’t even know I was doing this to myself.

I grew up in an incredibly dysfunctional family. I make no bones about this fact. You may or may not be aware that in those kinds of families everyone has a designated role to play. If you do not play your designated role, and play it perfectly, you are soon pushed back into place by any means necessary. If you choose at some point to get yourself healthy and discontinue the dysfunctional role-playing, more than likely you will have to leave the family or at least radically limit your exposure.  There really is no way to sugarcoat that fact or make it more palatable.  If you want more information on this, do a Google search for Roles in Dysfunctional Families or look into Family Systems Psychology.

Although there was an incredible amount of dysfunction going on inside the walls of our house, to the outside world all seemed relatively normal. “Normal” of course being a highly subjective term. Daddy went to work, daddy came home. Mamma cooked, cleaned and did the laundry. The kids did well in school. I participated in extracurricular activities as did my brother. Our house was nothing special but it was a decent little house in a nice quiet neighborhood. Everyone played their role. What happened inside those walls was quite a different story but to the outside world we blended in. Conservative. Christian. Middle-class.

I remember sitting on the church pew on Easter Sunday looking down at my little feet dangling, not touching the floor. Black patent leather Mary Jane shoes and white ruffled socks. White gloves on my hands and an Easter hat. I already knew my place in the world at that early age and I had already learned to lie.  By lying I mean that I had been thoroughly indoctrinated in public social graces. Baptism by submersion in respectability.  If asked how I was doing, my response was always, “I’m fine, thank you.”  I never questioned the beliefs my family held or how they lived until I was much older

Questions……...

There came a time in my life when I began to question absolutely everything. It was about the time I realized that the dysfunctional things that went on behind the front door of our house when I was growing up did not go on behind the front doors of everyone’s homes. This questioning, of course, was all done silently inside my own head, never daring to believe it appropriate to voice my confusion or my rapidly forming contrary opinions about life and how it should be lived.

My internal questioning and silent appraisal of my life and my family of origin never stopped after that point in time. I am like a dog with a bone when I grab hold of something I want to figure out.  Now I have a collection of answers that resonate true for me and with those answers, I have found a tenuous peace.

When I reached young adulthood, I registered with the political party that my family identified with. I attended the same Christian denomination that my family had been affiliated with. I thought about my actions and my behaviors in light of what would my family think (if they found out) of me doing this and that, or such and thus. I had always felt like a sort of misfit anyway, never really feeling a part of that family system for reasons I will discuss at a later time. My private thoughts about them and the life we led were even traitorous, so it is no wonder I was perceived as a little “different.” That feeling of not completely fitting in, I now know, was a blessing in disguise because it is what drove me further into wanting to comply with their agenda and eventually becoming so miserable with myself and my life that I no longer had a choice but to break away to find a better way of living, thinking and being in the world.

Compliance earns love………

The people of my origin taught me one irrevocable thing. Compliance earns love.

It’s a sad fact but it is true that in most dysfunctional families compliance does earn acceptance and the illusion of shaky undependable love. Look like we look, do what we do, say what we say, be as we are. That is the formula for total acceptance, love and belonging. This allows you to limp along until the fateful day you realize that you don’t  like how they look and you don’t really want to do what they do and you certainly don’t want to be as they are. If you are like I was, the day eventually comes where you press the big red detonate button and actually say something out loud. God forbid! Clutch your pearls! Heads start to spin as if possessed by demons and others stare you down with looks that could kill you dead where you stand.  Let the games begin! Release the hounds!

For those brave souls that decide to begin finding out who they really truly are, this is probably the most uncomfortable (to put it lightly) situation to be faced. Differentiation from one’s family of origin can be horribly painful.  In some families this is met with outright hostility.

Don’t step across that line. Don’t go to that church. You better go to church! Don’t go over there. Don’t marry that person. Don’t go to that school. Don’t go into that profession. Don’t move there. Why do you want to associate with them?

Sometimes the questions never come. Everyone just stops talking. They ignore it. They ignore you. Everyone pretends that the mutant isn’t doing anything out of the ordinary. Until Thanksgiving or Christmas and you say something about a political opinion or difference in spirituality or really anything that doesn’t jive with the world as they know it and then the shit hits the fan.

It’s a very difficult and heartbreaking thing to choose to be your own person, to be different, when you know there will be a withdrawal of love for expressing those feelings and those differences. It is very, very difficult to have the guts to do what you have to do to be true to yourself. But it’s also very, very worth it to have the intestinal fortitude to be true to yourself.

I can honestly say when I began evaluating these things in my life, I had never even considered why I had chosen my political party and that was just a drop in my bucket of questions. I didn’t even know why they (my family) were members of that political party. Probably because their families had been members of that political party. My gosh. Why? Why don’t people think for themselves? Someone, somewhere, please tell me WHY?

I started tearing everything I had been taught to believe apart.  Analyzing, questioning, reading, asking other people questions. Of course, as my luck has it, I could not authentically ascribe to much of my family’s firmly held beliefs and ideologies. Couldn’t do it. Still can’t. To put it more succinctly, I won’t. My conscience and education will not allow those things to continue any longer.

I know you want complete and total love and acceptance. We all do. But guess what? You’re not going to get it if it’s based on being exactly who somebody else wants you to be. Or, excuse me, you’re not going to get it from those who wish to control you if you are true to yourself and that self happens to be radically different from the status quo. That kind of love, in my humble opinion, isn’t really love anyway. Real love accepts you for who you genuinely are. Not for who it wants you to be.

As an experiment, think about absolutely everything around you. Everything in your life. No matter how seemingly small and inconsequential that thing appears to be. For instance, why are the rooms in your house painted the colors they are? Is it because that’s the color of the walls in your house where you grew up? Is it because someone you live with decided for you what color your walls should be? Maybe you don’t really give a flying fig what color the walls in your house are and that’s ok too.

What kind of house do you live in? Are you expected by someone else to live in that type of house or maybe it’s to give you an appearance you want to show to the world? That car you drive? Is it because your friends, father or your husband approves of Ford or Chevrolet or Mercedes?

Think of the church you attend. Have you ever questioned its’ doctrines? Are you allowed to question your church’s doctrines or beliefs? Have you ever visited other churches to see what they’re like? Have you ever studied other types of spirituality? Or are you afraid to do that because someone gave you the impression that if you did not believe what they told you to believe you would be excluded or shunned? This is a tough subject. A bitter pill to swallow. How far are you willing to go to get along? How much of your soul are you willing to sacrifice to fit in?

Lost…………

Some of us decide it’s just easier to shut our conscience off and close our hearts and minds. We decide to just go along to get along. Whether it’s with our parents or our spouses or our brothers and sisters. Even with our grown children. We never really discover who we truly are at a deep soul level in this world because we fear rejection by those who are important to us. We are afraid.  We’re afraid they will think we are wrong. We’re afraid they will think we are bad.  We’re afraid they will call us “lost.”

The truth of the matter is, if we don’t search our souls, hearts and our minds to discover who our authentic selves are crying out to be, we truly are lost. We are so lost that we are shut down and we feel hopeless. We feel discontented and depressed. And we may not even know this is why we feel at such a loss in our own lives.

You don’t have to be like anyone else. You don’t have to be like your parents or your siblings. You don’t have to be like the other people you know. You get to choose. Let me liberate you right here, right now! You can choose what your own life looks like! You already know down deep inside. You just have to get to a place where you can allow yourself to know.

Begin the journey……

Finding out who you truly are doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a very long journey. It’s a journey that I’ve been on for what feels like my entire life. There will be setbacks and radical life changes will happen which will force you to reevaluate again and again. If you’re not reevaluating, you’ve stopped growing. In order to begin this journey consider the things that you love. What brings you happiness? What are you interested in? Conversely, what makes you feel upset or uncomfortable? Consider those things, then read. If you don’t agree with the political party that you belong to at this point in time, research other political parties. If the religious organization or branch of spirituality that you currently practice doesn’t resonate truth in your soul, began a spiritual journey. Don’t be afraid to read books and talk to people who are in other places on their spiritual journey. Figure out what you believe. Then experience it.

What I am asking you to do is to free yourself from the long-held belief that in order to be lovable you must become the ideal of someone outside yourself. I am asking you to bravely began to consider finding your special place in this world. I am asking you to leave behind old ways of negative thinking. I am asking you to challenge yourself in ways that you have never challenged yourself before. I am asking you to learn to say, ” No, I don’t want to,” and to encourage you to stand in broad daylight and proudly proclaim, “I don’t like that!”  I want to challenge you to make the sentence, “I don’t agree,” easy to roll across your teeth and past your lips.

I’m not encouraging you to become belligerent just to cause a stink. If you honestly, down in your heart agree with what everyone around you thinks and says and feels and does, then by all means carry on. What I am challenging you to do is to become uniquely you. To recognize that if you have that feeling down deep in your gut that this stuff just isn’t right and it just doesn’t feel good, to work up the courage to just say, “No. Not me. Not anymore.”

I am not saying that compromise isn’t a healthy part of living peacefully with others. Compromise is essential in good relationships. As Dr. Phil has said on many occasions, “I’d rather be happy than be right.” If it’s something that doesn’t compromise your authenticity, it’s not worth battling over.

Repercussions………

Will there be repercussions from radically becoming your authentic self? Yes. I’m sorry to have to say this but people will leave your life. Even if you can accept them remaining as they are, some will just not accept you changing. You will make them uncomfortable. You will make them begin to question themselves. They don’t want to do that. That’s why they’ve remained the same for so long. Never changing, never growing, never truly becoming anything other than what they were told to be. But, then again, they’re not as brave as you and I. We are rebels with a cause. We dig deep and we go hard. Go big or go home. Find something worth fighting for. Find something worth believing in. Find a cause. Find a challenge that makes your soul sing. I promise if you look you will then find new, exciting people who think in the new ways you think and feel how you feel. You are not alone.

One of the manipulative tools that people can use to keep you entrenched in the same ole’ way of being, is to try to make you believe that if you change, no one will love you, no one will want you, and you will be alone. This simply is not true. Once you began to look outside the realm of people who are exactly like you have always been, entirely new worlds of possibilities will open up before you. The red carpet of life will roll out and you will discover new people, new places and new things to see, do, investigate and become. Let me encourage you dear friends, to just take one step on the journey to becoming who you really were intended to be. One tiny step is all it takes to begin to completely change your life. Don’t be afraid. Don’t allow old conditioning to keep you locked in the prison of should, could and ought to.

Somewhere along the way did you lose yourself? If you realize you have lost your self, try to think back and discover when that happened. It’s possible that you may discover that you never truly established a unique “self”. Sadly, you may discover yourself to be a composite of those who came before you and those who now surround you. This may explain the nagging anxiety that you feel. This may explain the loneliness that shrouds you even when you’re in a crowd and what is lurking behind the smile that you have perfected..

The marriage that does not fulfill you may be the result of living someone else’s choices for you and someone else’s expectations for your life. The career that you hate? Maybe it was never what you truly wanted to do with your life but someone else’s opinion of what would be good for you. Do you live where you live because that’s where you feel the most at home or is it because if you chose to leave to follow your own heart and your own dreams, other people would be upset with you for abandoning them? Dare to ask yourself such questions. When you find the answers, be brave enough to sit with those realizations for a while in silence. Think, contemplate, pray if you so choose, ask more questions but don’t just do nothing.

Love or fear?………

I have come to believe that the opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of love is fear. Every decision you make is either made from a position of love or a position of fear. Every thought you think is either a thought of love or a thought of fear. What are you afraid of?

In my own life, I have grown weary of fear making my decisions for me. When my oldest son was around 12 or 13 years old, he said something very profound to me. We were having a conversation about something he wanted to do. I know I used the words, ” I’m afraid if you…”  He looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Mom, you are afraid of everything.”  I was stunned. I am usually extremely verbose with an opinion on just about everything. In this instance and at that moment, I had absolutely nothing to say. No reply whatsoever. No defense of myself. The reality that he had spoken to me shocked me into silence. After that incident I did a lot of self-analysis and I got a whole lot better. When I realized what I was doing to myself and to him, I changed for the better.

It was also around this same time that I married my best friend and the man who would assist me in becoming more fully myself than I had ever been.  He was my soul mate in the sense of the word that it was not all candles and roses.  He challenged me.  He questioned me.  He encouraged me to defend my beliefs and form new ones if I could not defend my old ones.  He loved me and kept telling me he loved me even when I could not find a single thing to love about myself. Elizabeth Gilbert said, “A true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.”  This man most certainly did all those things.  He also became a dad to my oldest son, gave me three beautiful children and a home where I felt safe.  Then tragedy struck my life once again.

He was driving home from work in another town one day and a man driving a truck, pulling a trailer with a small bulldozer on it crossed the center line, over corrected and flung the bulldozer into the front of his car.  At 3:59 pm that day he called to tell me he was on his way home.  At 4:25 pm, he was dead.

Once again terror struck my heart and fear sprung to life in my mind. After I had finally come to really accept that the world wasn’t always a dangerous and rejecting place, it demonstrated in one heinous act of cruelty that it was in fact a living hell to be only survived at its worst and tolerated at it’s best.  My heart grew cold and my light went dark, returning me to a loathsome yet familiar place of fear. That was nine long years ago and I have turned the lights back on and redefined myself and my life yet again.

To a large degree I have redefined myself on my own terms.  I struggle with loss of love and at times not truly believing I will ever have that kind of love again.  On good days I am content with my lot in life and on bad ones I simply have nothing to say and I try not to even think.  I am in no way the woman I was 9 years ago on the day he left me. Left us. I have had to fight harder than I’ve ever fought in my life.  Digging always deeper in my spiritual journey.  I’ve cried more in these last nine years than in the entirety of my life.  I’ve also felt more alone.

I discovered it really is true that you can’t miss something you’ve never had.  Before I met my husband I did not know what complete acceptance and unflinching love felt like. I didn’t have a clue what it felt like to receive such a magical gift.  I surely didn’t know how to give it to someone else in a romantic relationship because I had never had the opportunity to dig deep enough with someone else to learn the skills it takes to live that journey. I had certainly never seen that kind of love in my family of origin and I had no close friends who claimed to have it in their relationships.  I genuinely had that kind of love with this man.

We were not perfect.  We argued and we were both opinionated.  He was an athlete and I a musician.  He was a logical, rational mathematician and I a right-brained therapist.  He believed in cold hard facts and I believed truth was relative. We were opposites. What we had in common was that we admired the uniqueness of each other and appreciated the fact that together we could do anything. He had the good stuff I didn’t and I had the good stuff that he didn’t.  Together we had it all.

I said previously that I am not the woman who I was 9 years ago when he was killed.  Before he entered my life, I had been a single mother of one child.  After he left, I was a single mother to four children.  Previous to him, I was a hard driven career oriented woman who worked countless hours because I genuinely loved the work and felt it was a calling rather than a paycheck. After him, I was a stay at home mother to a one-year old, two-year old, a seven-year old and a son in college. My life was radically changed forever.

I had to ask myself the question once again.  Who am I?  Who the hell am I now?  I didn’t know the answer then.  Sometimes I still don’t know the answer as I struggle to redefine and rediscover myself one day at a time.  It is a never-ending process but I have made leaps and bounds.  I do know what I authentically like and don’t like. I usually know what I need and don’t need in my life.  I will not lie and tell you there are not pockets of fear in my life.  There are.  My fears primarily circle the drain around any type of romantic attachment and losing people who are dear to me. I have learned some things about myself in this part of my life also.

Come out of the darkness…….

I have learned that just because I love someone, it does not automatically mean they will die or someone will kill them.  That became an irrational fear of mine and it was with me for quite some time. I have accepted that loss will come no matter how hard I kick against it or how loudly I scream trying to frighten it away.  There is no escaping the fact that if two people love each other dearly and make a lifetime commitment, one of them will die first unless a freak accident takes them both at the same time. Someone will die first. If this fear raises its ugly head at me, I will fight it. It will not stop me from living a happy, joyous life in this regard, if and when the possibility of love is presented to me again. I simply will not allow fear to make my decisions. I know now that loving is a risk worth taking.

I have realized that since I had been, in the past, loved so completely, despite all my self-perceived flaws and eccentricities, that someone else can love me that way too. I am absolutely worth loving and deserving of being loved, respected and honored for who I uniquely am.

I realized that I was placing myself in relationships that I subconsciously knew were destined for failure, in order to shield myself from suffering the pain I would feel if I actually found genuine love again and at some point lost it.  I’ve learned to listen to my intuition and be brave enough to exit associations that I know are not a good match for me, or for them as a matter of fact.  I now trust that I do know what is best for me and my life and I don’t allow anyone to convince me otherwise.

I realized that I have intentionally pushed away emotionally sound people who would have loved me and wanted to love me.  I pushed them away because of the irrational fears of losing them and that the loss would be beyond what I could psychologically and emotionally stand. I pushed them away because I felt an unworthiness. I felt in some way tainted by my life situations. I have learned that these are ludicrous and self-defeating thought patterns and behaviors and I choose to make the effort to defeat those demons repeatedly until they give up and go away forever.  I’ll take the chance on eventually suffering loss if taking that risk brings me solid, unwavering love in my life.  If it happens again, I will live again.  Just like I lived this time and will continue to live until it’s my turn to leave this planet.

In conclusion…..

I have learned.  I have survived.  I have grown.  I am not finished yet.

If I can do this, you can do this.  I promise.  I swear to you that you can.  If you are sick and tired of being sick and tired or if you are absolutely fed up with living a life you never wanted, much less dreamed of living, you can change that. You can change your life literally by first changing your perception of your life,

You must take the first step.  Reach out to someone.  I can direct you to books to read.  We can have discussions and look for answers together.  Make comments in the comment section and let’s start a dialogue.  Hopefully, the comment section will work correctly. We can create a community of people who are all looking for answers and finding them together.  Even if they may not be the same answers for everyone.

I hope at the least, I have encouraged you to ask yourself if you are living your life authentically.  I hope you begin today with the simple question….

Who am I?

I know when you start to find out the answer to that question, you and a whole lot of other people are going to like the new you.  I know I will.

Love,

Me

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Predictable Endings

“One day she finally grasped that unexpected things were always going to happen in life.  And with that, she realized the only control she had was how she chose to handle them.  So, she made the decision to survive using courage, humor and grace.  She was the Queen of her own life and the choice was hers.” -Queenism-

We all have major themes that define our lives.  Our lives are not chaotic messes as it appears they are sometimes.  There is a rhyme and a reason for everything that happens.  No coincidences.  No event or situation without merit and value.

These repeating themes are there because these are the things we need to work on or work through for our personal spiritual growth.  Maybe they keep repeating because we don’t deal with them in a productive manner and we have to keep facing them over and over again until we figure out a better way to respond. A more loving way to respond.  Both to others and ourselves.  Perhaps we face them repeatedly because we aren’t understanding the lesson we need to learn from them.  Nothing happens in our lives randomly.  Nothing.

If a vinyl record gets scratched, the needle will get stuck in the scratch or in the groove it is traveling in as the record spins on the turntable.  Painful events in our lives are like the scratch in the record.  Sometimes we get stuck in the gouge made by the painful event in our lives and we just can’t move on.  Or we think we have moved on but we make a rotation and there it is again.  Anger.  Grief.  Betrayal.  Heartache. Loss. Insecurity.  Sometimes our needle gets stuck in one of those grooves and it just goes around and around and around, never making any progress for years, never going on to finish the song.  Never moving along to the next song on the album.  Spin, skip, spin.

In dissecting the cataclysmic events in my lifetime, I have discovered that regaining balance seems to be one of my major recurring themes. Coming back to center after being knocked out of orbit.  Finding my footing again after tragedy.  Regrouping and moving forward stronger and with even more determination to live out my life’s purpose with clarity, passion and meaning.  I have also discovered that I don’t recover well from grief and loss. I hide from it.  I construct elaborate defense mechanisms to make sure that a certain challenging situation never happens to me again. I pretend that everything is okay and I’ve moved along just fine.  And I have moved along.  Moving along “just fine” has meant grabbing the situation by the throat and choking the living daylights out of it by micromanaging and controlling anything and everything that could remotely appear to be leading to similar circumstances.  This makes it appear to myself that I’ve got everything under control and exponentially lessens the probability that THAT will not happen again.

When I begin digging around in my own head, I don’t always like what I discover about myself.  I believe myself to be one way because I tell myself I am, but in fact, I have pulled the wool over my own eyes. I want to remove the wool.  I want to see myself as I truly am, not just what I want to believe I am.  I want to know why I do the things I do and think the things I think.  I suppose that is why I was drawn into an education and career in psychology.  If I can understand why I am the way I am, I can learn new ways of thinking and being in the world.  The events that have completely knocked me into the middle of next week have been the very pivotal points in my life that have provoked me to dig deeper into my own soul for answers.

Out of those things have come a lifelong quest for spiritual meaning in life.  Not the religiosity that tells me exactly what to do, how to think and how to be, or face being banished to the pit of hell for eternity type of thing. That doesn’t interest me at all.  The type of spirituality that  looks for the answers to the bigger questions.  Why am I here? Just what exactly is it that my soul intended to accomplish in this lifetime? How does it all fit together in the big scheme of things?

I don’t pretend to know all the answers to these things and I don’t think anyone has all the answers.  It’s impossible to grasp completely how God and the Universe functions.  My little glob of grey matter behind my eyes and between my ears doesn’t have the capacity to completely sort out concepts so vast.  But I do know I have a much better handle on it than I did decades ago.

A biggie for me in learning to bring myself back to an even keel after a huge shift in my life circumstances is learning to trust.  I have a very hard time trusting that everything will be alright. Some of the situations that I have lived through were so horrendous that I honestly didn’t think I would live through them.  And to be honest, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to live through them at the time.  The delusion that I have lived, in order to keep any of this from happening again, is that I can micromanage my life into being safe.  What I’ve done in actuality is micromanage my life into a ditch.  I stopped dreaming.  I stopped daring to defy gravity.  After all, if I get up too high and an engine goes out what happens next ain’t pretty.  But you know what? That same engine probably will never go out again in the exact same way.  Statistically it’s just not significant enough to be having this much of a major impact on how I choose to live my life.

Sometimes I choose to participate in situations that I know will fail simply BECAUSE I KNOW they will fail.  Better the Devil I know, than the Devil I don’t.  I know what to do when the predictably bad thing happens, so go for it. At least it’s familiar. At least I think I have some kind of control over how to recuperate afterwards.  This dysfunctional thinking came from deciding a long time ago that lots of really bad unavoidable things happen in my life and it is much better if I can just see them coming. I have consciously and subconsciously refused to take risks on really great things and truly wonderful people who would have brought me happiness, peace and a sense of fulfillment.  Down deep inside I believed that it was arrogant to believe I could have stability, because when that engine unexpectedly drops out way up above the clouds somewhere… well, I just might not make it out alive again.  Don’t tempt fate. I’d rather the endings in my life be predictable. If the endings are predictable, I can control and temper my emotions and reactions to that ending. I can already see around those corners and have Plans B, C and maybe even D in place before Plan A even starts to smoke, much less explode.

This all sounds absolutely insane.  And it is.  But it’s a lot more common than most people know.

I see people all the time who have never lost anyone significant to death or those they have lost were on the periphery of their lives and the absence was not really felt on a daily basis.  The pain was short-lived and easy to ignore.  I know women who never suffered through multiple miscarriages.  I know women who have never been sexually traumatized at any stage of their lives.  I know people who have never been through divorce.  There are even women who have never been punched in the face and had their noses broken and their eyes blacked.  But guess what?  Those women aren’t me.

I have lived through each and every one of those things and more.  A toll has been taken.

It actually astounds me that my intelligence hasn’t disintegrated to the level of a bobble head doll.  That many blows to the psyche has the potential to rend and shred the strongest of dispositions until all that remains is a blank stare and a psychotropic shuffle.  I did do 8 years worth of antidepressants after my husband was killed but so what?  “Better living through chemistry,” is a mantra in sophisticated circles.

A very long time ago I got the idea that all this stuff somehow hooked together and if I studied enough, thought enough and analyzed enough, I could make sense out of the seemingly random, chaotic, brain bashing events of my life.  I’ve been looking ever since.  And yes, I’ve found answers that make sense to me.  The searching doesn’t stop and I doubt it ever will.  I am not a victim.  I am a survivor.  That’s how I survived and how I continue to survive.  But I want more than that.  I want to thrive.

I’ve also learned something else that makes a lot of sense to me.  None of it matters if I don’t continue to challenge myself and to reach back and help someone else who has taken a beating both physically and mentally.  I can’t “fix” anyone.  I’m still daily working on myself.  What I can do is talk about what I’ve been through, what I’ve learned and maybe, just maybe make it a little easier for another soul wandering through the maze that is life on planet earth.  I will  never have all the answers.  This is just life as I know it.

Love,

Me