The way is love

Graphically real in a full monty kind of way

Feeling free–It’s about beliefs

It’s one of those days where I feel as if something is changing drastically.

As if my world is moving very differently.

I sat writing this morning wondering what was going on around me. What could I feel so keenly?

And then I thought about it some more and realized that it was more likely something going on inside of me than outside of me.

I tend to attribute changes to my exterior world, at least at first, but I have learned with experience that in a lot of ways we create our own realities.

And I have been feeling very different inside myself for the last few months. I would say it began in September and hasn’t ceased since then.

Of course, the changes within me have happened gradually. Bit by bit parts of me have kind of woken up. The possibility for awareness was always there, but just hadn’t opened its eyes yet. My eyes are now open.

I have been dreaming a lot. And my last dream really made me think.

Dream: I was walking down a hallway with doors on either side and bright light coming from the end of the hallway in front of me. A woman was standing off to the side in one of the doorways and she told me to do something. I very quickly and decisively told her why I wouldn’t, that her request was unreasonable and holding my shoulders square and my back straight, I kept walking right past her without looking back, and walked into the light at the end of the hallway. The woman was shocked and watched me continue walking in disbelief.

I believe the woman was my old self.

I used to believe I wasn’t lovable. That I wasn’t worthy of other people’s love and respect. I don’t believe that anymore.

I used to believe I couldn’t support myself and my son. That I didn’t have what it took to look after myself and my son in this world. I don’t believe that anymore.

I used to believe that being in a relationship meant being treated as second and being disrespected. I no longer believe that anymore.

I used to believe that I had to sacrifice my own happiness for that of my parents. I no longer believe that anymore.

And though I have been coming to these realizations since I left home at 18, it has still taken me 27 years to fully learn these lessons by degrees.

Because I grew up in a household where I was taught I was inconvenient, a nuisance, a suck, less than in pretty much every way, I grew up believing I was unlovable.

And that trickled down into everything else I did. Even though I was a very good student, and was praised highly by my teachers, I never felt good enough. And even though I went on to get a good education, I still believed I couldn’t support myself and my son.

And because my relationship with one of my parents was abusive, I believed that being in a relationship included abuse. So I accepted being treated as second and disrespected.

And sacrificing who I was for my parents was part of the abusive cycle and also being an only child. So much pressure was put on me to look after things when I was far too young, in some ways my parents actually reversed the parent-child role with me.

It is only within the last year or two that I’ve learned to have fun and not take life so seriously. In other words, I’ve stopped being so goddamned hard on myself.

And I laugh a lot more and worry a lot less. And I believe in myself.

This is not a coincidence. We are so often harder on ourselves than anyone else. And take responsibility for others who really are not ours to carry on our shoulders at all.

But I have learned that some people are lazy. Becoming, growing, changing is a lot of hard work, and most people simply don’t want to do it. So they latch onto someone else who they expect to do it for them.

I have been that someone. And when they weren’t happy with their lives, who do you think they blamed? Me. So much easier to blame me than for them to actually grow up and take responsibility for themselves.

But that woman walking down that hallway towards the light was refusing to carry anyone else any longer. I believe that was the look of shock and disbelief on the other woman’s face.

I used to think that if I didn’t carry people no one would love me. I no longer believe that any more.

And no wonder my world looks and feels different. Carrying those false beliefs around must have been a heavy load, and must have obscured my view of my world too.

If my world looks different, I believe that’s a good thing. I am finally seeing myself for who I really am, not who others have wanted, needed or expected me to be.

I feel free. Now I think I’ll go dance and giggle some more.

 

 

 

 

When abusers come to visit

forgiveness 3

I have some guests coming up for the weekend. My mother and my step-father.

When I talk about being abused as a child, it was by my mother.

And, yes, I do still let her into my home. Why?

  • I have a son and he has the right to have a relationship with his grandmother
  • I confronted her about the abuse and she apologized
  • We have worked on our relationship for over ten years and she accepts what she did to me, she doesn’t deny it, and she allows me to be myself

I know most abusers don’t admit their actions. And in that way I suppose I’m lucky, if you could call it that. At least she accepts what she did.

I am under no illusions that she is “better,” however.

She said she doesn’t remember what she did to me. I believe her because a lot of people when they’re abusive and mentally unwell don’t know quite what they’re doing. That’s no excuse, don’t misunderstand me. I still know what she did to me was very wrong, and I am still working through the wounds.

In a lot of ways I find it ironic that I can have her in my home and enjoy spending time with her.

For a while it was still a bit sick, I still wanted to earn her love. When my son was young I still carried that everlasting hope that she’d become the mother I wanted to have. The mother I deserved. But I know now she will not be that woman.

I went through years and years of hating her for what she did, but I didn’t express it and turned it inwards, hence my depression and anxiety.

I think her behaviour really hit home for me psychologically after I had my son. I have always considered my son a miraculous gift, and I could never imagine treating him the way my mother treated me. The idea is abhorrent to me. I am not an abuser, never have been. Maybe that’s why I can forgive her to a certain extent.

I know for myself that keeping that anger alive ultimately only hurts me, and the people I love. If I’d kept holding onto the anger I would’ve become more and more diseased by various physical and mental problems because I’d be holding that hate inside myself. I have decided I just don’t want to do that.

And over the last two years since I had my breakdown, I’ve been slowly ridding myself, layer by layer, of all that pain and hate. It’s been very hard to let go because I’d learned to use it as fuel to keep going on. But now I use love as fuel, and that’s been an eye-opening transition for me.

So when my mother walks through my door this afternoon, I can honestly greet her with my heart. Not a naively hopeful heart, I know she isn’t the mother I really wanted, but in some ways I feel lucky that she’s my mom. And I think that’s healthy, and okay.

 

The good, the discouraging and the perspective

perspective

I feel pretty mixed up today.

I’ve had some really good things happen and some discouraging things happen. I suppose somewhere in between them there’s balance.

Good things

I received a really nice message from a man on a singles site. I had shown interest in him and he let me know that he’s about to meet someone and doesn’t like to pursue more than one woman at a time. He said my profile was very interesting, but he wanted to see how things go with the other woman first. I thought that was very honest and filled with integrity. And I thanked him for letting me know. He’s renewed my faith in the online dating scene.

I also found out that my ex-husband, the father of my son, wants to spend more time with my son. My son has been with me 100% of the time for about six months. I guess his dad is missing him. So I may have my three evenings a week back, and my son may be seeing more of his dad, which is very good. Especially since my son’s 16. He needs a man’s influence in his life too.

Discouraging things

I woke up and realized I have a yeast infection. Often after I take antibiotics I get one. I just feel as if with my woman garden (thank you Jenny Lawson for this term!) it’s been one thing after another. First the UTI, now this. Blah!

I know it’s not really a big deal or even that unexpected, but I’m tired of feeling tired. The UTI kind of knocked me out, and often the yeast infection medication does too.

I’ve been worried about making enough money for a while now, and it’s damned difficult to be productive when all you feel like doing is curling up in a ball and sipping on tea! Something about this feels so November in Canada. It’s a month where everything is going to sleep or dying, we are overwhelmed with grey all around us and it’s getting cold and it’s dark so early we feel like going to bed at 5pm. Not an inspiring month.

And when I went for my healing treatment on Monday apparently the first two chakras are linked to creativity and our financial life. Figures! No wonder my woman garden is unsettled.

Perspective

But then as I was driving back from the pharmacy feeling sorry for myself I realized that compared to some of the things going on in the world, a yeast infection isn’t much. And the UTI isn’t much either. Even my financial concerns are only temporary.

My heart goes out to the families of the victims in Paris and the countless others physically hurt from the terrorist attack. Now that is something really beyond discouraging, and has made me realize I’m having a pretty regular day.

 

The dangers of denying who we are

Jacqueline Snider

I have a history of denying my self.

  • I have been underweight for most of my life.
  • I have lived my life to please others, including my parents, my boyfriends, my husbands and my son.
  • I have denied my feelings to make other people happy.

These behaviours are not uncommon for a woman in North America, and likely in a lot of other places in the world too.

Rather than growing up being encouraged to look within myself for my direction on my health, relationships and career, I was encouraged to be what others were comfortable with me being. And that has done me a lot of harm.

That mentality of living for others, trickles down into all sorts of dangerous and insidious places.

I consider practically starving myself very dangerous. Being on the border of anorexic for most of my life and actually being proud of denying my body what it needed is very sick. It was partly a form of control on my part, but also I was denying the fact that I’m a naturally curvy woman. There’s so much media pressure to be a skeletal woman that it’s hard when you’re more naturally curvy, as most women are and should be.

Trying to please my parents, boyfriends, husbands and even my son comes from my early programming as a little girl. My mother used to yell at me, “Why can’t you read my mind?” so of course I did my best to read hers and everyone else’s. And I became very good at it, which is also pretty sick. That didn’t teach me how to read my own, however. In fact quite the opposite.

And then my feelings suffered immeasurably. Did I even know my own? Or did they change with every person I was with? And I totally lost touch with them when I denied myself so much that I had a breakdown. I was severely depressed.

And what have I been doing since then? I have been denying myself the right dose of anti-depressant medication. At first I took the full dose, but as I got better I tried to wean myself off of it. I experienced a boomerang effect that I caught fairly quickly, but it scared the hell out of me. My mind had started racing again, I couldn’t sleep, and my anxiety climbed. I went back up to only the half dose. And now I ask myself why. Why was I denying my brain and body what it needed?

That’s my pattern. It’s almost automatic, and it’s taken me almost two years to see that. I went to the pharmacy yesterday to get more pills and the pharmacist took me aside and asked me why I’m behind on my prescription. She reminded my I should not stop them. And with her insistent, rational words I had my ah-ha moment (thanks, Oprah!) and I thought, “My God, I’ve been doing it again!”

This time I wasn’t hard with myself like I would’ve been and I took the full dose last night for the first time in over a year.

I consider this a personal victory.

I don’t care when I realize these old automatic self-destructive habits are still part of my life, I’m just thrilled with myself when I do.

We must learn to be gentle with ourselves. And I moved another step in that direction yesterday.

 

 

 

The only constant in life is change

Change isn’t always an easy thing to accept.

And I know what it feels like to be faced with change I didn’t really want and found hard to accept.

It happens to everyone, eventually.

It happened when my best friend died when I was 5, when my parents separated when I was 10 and the list goes on from there.

But facing change is part of life’s challenges. Part of what being human is all about.

And more often than not change is an opportunity, even if it doesn’t feel like it or look like it to begin with.

Even the most difficult experiences I’ve lived through have been positive in some ways too. I’ve learned how strong I am and that even through mourning and adversity I can survive and even thrive.

But what people often don’t talk about are the emotional successes that come from living through change.

I learned through the tragic death of my best friend when I was 5 that it was okay for me to go on and live and have other friends despite his not being able to. So I chose to live my life and enjoy my friends partly to honour him. A life-affirming decision.

I learned from my parents’ separation and divorce that if I was not happy in a relationship I had a right to get out of it. That my feelings and needs and wants are important. And that I have a right to make a choice.

I have learned from losing love that the love I want exists and that I was right to keep looking for it and believing in it.

And these are some of the things I’ve learned from change.

I’ve also learned that I have a choice as to how I choose to respond to the changing events in my life.

Ironically some of the cruelest people I’ve known have taught me how to face the world with love.

I used to be very, very angry, which made me feel very vulnerable. But once I accepted my own vulnerability because I have no control over anyone but myself, I started to see that I could choose my response to anything and everything.

And I realized facing my world with anger wasn’t working for me. That my vulnerability came from feeling as if I had no control over things that happened to me in my life, and it was true I didn’t. But, that wasn’t my fault. Things change.

So I decided not to be negatively influenced by the people I hated and didn’t respect and didn’t like, but instead to choose my own way of handling the changes in my life.

Since I made this decision, the way I see and therefore experience my whole world has dramatically changed.

Change isn’t always fun or easy, but it is normal and I can see positive in everything.

And I also know I can make choices for me. And that despite my history, I am not bound by it in any way.

That is one of my most liberating realizations yet.

Some things happened to me that were pretty shitty, but that doesn’t mean I have to believe my life will be shitty.

Those changes happened and they were hard to handle, but they have helped me become the woman I am, and that is definitely a positive thing.

So, I accept that my life will change and I know it will. Some of the changes will be my own choices and others I will choose how to face, and I know I will face them with love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love ripples in the water

I now realize all that happened to me before has helped me get here.

Like the ripples in the water caused by a single stone, the stone I threw got me here.

To have enough courage to love with all my heart was no small feat. And that was the stone.

I call it love.

It was not an easy path for me.

I used to believe I attracted the toxic relationships into my life.

But I now know it was that I believed I deserved them that brought them to me, which I believe no longer.

Now I face my world with love. And the world faces me with love as well.

And I’m in love.

I wasn’t sure I’d ever be in love again. I felt broken inside.

But I feel broken no longer.

Instead I waded into the pool, the pool of love.

And my love is there with me.

And we frolic and touch, listen and speak. Love and sigh with contentment.

We talk of building our lives together, and being with each other.

And all my love dreams have come true.

I feel as if I’m in love for the very first time, and it’s more than I imagined.

I am renewed. He has my heart completely, and I have his.

And to this love I say I love you more every day.

You are my all and everything. Come swim with me, for all time.

 

 

 

 

Honouring our dead–Letting go

Yesterday was our All Saints service at my church, where we honour the dead.

As our minister reads out the names of the recent dead, family members and friends move to the front to light candles in their memory.

It’s a very moving time, and as they file up to the front and cry and comfort each other I shed tears too.

Once the names are read out of the congregations’ loved ones, we can all go up and light candles for our memories of people we’ve known who have passed away.

Yesterday I lit a candle for an old boyfriend of mine who killed himself. I still consider him the love of my life, and I still miss him.

But, for the first time, I also decided to mourn a relationship that didn’t really get started.

A wonderful man that I met isn’t ready to date, which I understand.

I have been missing him and realize that I need to let him go and move on, I can’t keep hoping he’ll contact me because it’s hurting me.

I am therefore mourning his loss.

I cried quite a bit yesterday about that. And also my old boyfriend and the agony he must’ve been in to take his life.

Losing people is something that doesn’t completely go away. That is something that I’m learning.

I used to hide from the feelings of intense loss of connection, but that has only hurt me more. I realize that now more than ever.

The relationship with the wonderful man didn’t even really get started and I still miss him a lot. And I have come to realize that that is who I am. Who I have been and who I want to be.

I feel deeply and I lose deeply.

I can’t avoid who I am anymore and be true to myself, and if I try to be someone else I end up with people who don’t feed my soul.

I don’t want that.

So I will mourn my old boyfriend and the wonderful man I didn’t get to date.

I will be true to my inner feelings.

And it hurts, and makes me sad.

And I will go on remembering them and how they loved me.

An how I loved them.

 

 

Our heart’s truth

The idea of truth seems to be coming up a lot these days.

I suppose all of us tell more or less the truth at any one time.

And it’s interesting feeling it through different people.

Some people wear their hearts on their sleeves and others make decisions based on the practicalities of life.

I’ve done both, but I’ve found that the more detached I am from my heart the worse personal decisions I make.

There is something so vulnerable about telling your heart’s truth, but at the same time it’s really the only place you can live that’s truly you.

And I’ve found that the more we make decisions based on the practicalities the less we truly honour who we are.

In North America, we are not raised to listen to our inner selves. Our goals are often created for us from outside of ourselves, and we’re expected to conform to what needs to be “done” to attain them.

And in this way so many people become disconnected from who they are. Many people aren’t even aware of their inner selves or what their hearts are trying to tell them.

I didn’t really realize how important my heart was until after I had my breakdown. There’s something about hitting the bottom that teaches you that the only authentic way to get better is to live through your heart. And that scared me to death.

I had glimpses in my life of living through my heart and I felt as if they almost destroyed me. So I backed away from it and started being invincible. I closed off a part of myself and made decisions based on fear and defensiveness and even anger.

And the relationships I attracted to myself were as well.

So many people are afraid and protecting themselves and even angry because they’ve lost love. And when people feel vulnerable they can become quite nasty. In our society it’s so much more socially acceptable to be angry and aggressive than sad and vulnerable.

And so I adopted that attitude as well. I became superwoman and in doing so almost destroyed myself.

After hitting the bottom I finally gave myself the permission to be vulnerable. Completely and totally open to my own feelings, whatever they were.

I went through different levels of shame, helplessness, fear, vulnerability and being heartbroken.

But as I started to realize that who I truly was was nothing to be ashamed of. That I was actually far more able than I’d ever realized. That everyone feels fear. And that being vulnerable is simply part of the human condition, my heart mended itself.

And as my heart healed something amazing happened, instead of seeing the world from a point of fear, I saw it from a point of love.

And I realized that telling my inner truth had brought me to a place of love.

I had always believed that it was stronger and safer to hide my truth and act as if I was totally strong and impervious even if I wasn’t.

But breaking open taught me that hiding my truth only hurt me all the more.

It has been one of the most revelatory experiences I’ve ever lived through to come to be able to express my inner self.

It was hard work, but much easier than continuing to bury my true feelings to seemingly protect myself.

Now my choices are all totally different.

The people who I attract into my life are also different. They’re more able to speak from their hearts as well, in their own special ways.

And I no longer feel that telling the truth is weak. On the contrary, it has released me from not being genuine with myself, and therefore allowed me to make much healthier decisions for me, and what I want and need from my life.

I can only imagine how living from my heart will continue to influence the rest of my life.

It has already helped me feel love where I used to feel anger. It has already attracted honest and gentle people into my life where I used to attract liars and bullies.

I can’t help but feel that the best is yet to come.

 

 

 

 

 

Finding truth

I don’t make rules anymore.

So often we make them when they seemingly make sense, but then something changes and we feel like we should (I hate that word) stick to our rules even when they don’t feel right anymore.

So, I’ve given up on holding myself to my rules.

Now, I’m not talking about moral principles or values. Those I have and live by because they are an integral part of who I am.

But rules are somehow outside of myself, and often I create them to “control” something that I feel needs to be controlled. And often that need falls away.

And so many of our rules come from our limiting beliefs. We aren’t aware of it at the time we’re making them, but then later, if we really pay attention to how we feel, they don’t feel right. And if we ask our hearts what is right, the rules often fall away.

It’s really unfortunate that as children we’re taught that rules are more important than people’s feelings. We aren’t taught that being flexible and understanding is strong, but instead have this image of rule followers as the socially optimal person.

I remember in elementary school a teacher told me that the sun had to be yellow. I liked the sun to be orange, but she stood over me as I coloured and what did I do because she was making the “rules”? I coloured the sun yellow. But when I was at home, my sun was always orange.

People who tow the line and conform are portrayed as honourable and valuable members of society, and people who question the status quo or move outside of socially acceptable circles are labelled trouble makers or black sheep.

I have some experience with this because as I grew up my extended families labelled me a black sheep because I lived in the big bad city of Toronto, because I didn’t want to conform and because I had a mind of my own. A particularly unattractive thing for a girl to have. The fact that I was really bright only added to the division.

One day in my chemistry class in Grade 11, my teacher said, “The highest mark on the last test was 98%, and imagine it was a girl.”

There was dead silence.

And then I said, rather loudly, “What do you mean imagine it was a girl!?”

He spun around and said, “Ha! I knew you’d say something!”

Damn right! At least he was doing it to goad me. He actually wasn’t sexist at all. (Lucky for him or I would’ve made his classroom life hell.) I did very well in Grade 11 chemistry.

So often people shun what they don’t want to understand.

But because I was born thinking outside the box, I have a lot of trouble with people who expect other people to conform to their ideas of acceptable behaviour. I mean who are they to decide what’s okay and what isn’t as far as acceptable behaviour is concerned.

I have found that people who can’t accept difference are often extremely narrow minded and insecure within themselves. They cling to their “rules” of how life should be because they feel unhinged without them. They have no strong inner moral compass so they grab onto ideas that make them feel confident about themselves from the outside in.

And they often consider keeping up appearances extremely important as well.

How could the sun only be yellow? That’s one of the weirdest ideas I’ve ever heard, but to the teacher it was gospel. I was about 5 years old and I knew she was rigid and narrow minded even at that age.

People latch onto these ideas and often don’t question them. That is not me. So I’ve had my share of heated discussion and debates about all sorts of ideas.

I remember talking with the husband of a friend of mine who worked for The Star newspaper in Toronto. He actually believed that what was printed in the paper was the truth. I couldn’t believe it. I explained to him that each newspaper comes from a distinct political slant and that truth is in the eye of the beholder, or in this case the slant of the writer. He didn’t agree at all, no matter how much we jousted back and forth. He just wanted to believe that what was written down was the truth.

I suppose that’s an easier way to live in a way, if you’re comfortable with being misled and lied to. If you don’t really want to find out your own truth, that is.

I grew up with a bully for a mother so from a really young age I fought for my own self. I wasn’t a malleable child, I didn’t want to be mothered and I was smart enough to know the way things are aren’t the way they have to be.

It has taken me until midlife to truly get that I create my reality, and that I don’t have to fight for it, it’s already mine.

The fighting made me strong, but it’s not who I truly am. I’m a very kind, gentle person at heart and I don’t want to control anyone. I only fought because I had to to maintain my sense of inner freedom and self. It drove my mother crazy because I was unbreakable. And believe me she tried. That was until I grew taller than her and could’ve thumped her if I’d wanted to. Then, like a bully does, she backed down.

But all that fighting took something from me too. It took me farther and farther away from who I truly am.

As I’ve realized very recently, I face the world with love. But the bullying led me away from that. I couldn’t love my mother into stopping her abuse. I was only a child. I did what I had to, but now I don’t have to anymore.

And as I’ve come to feel, love is far stronger than hate, and so much easier to live by.

Now I attract kind, gentle people to me who are very much like myself. What a relief that is. I don’t always have to have my guard up. I don’t have to be constantly defensive. If someone treats me in a way I don’t want, I simply talk with them about it. Or let them go from my life.

And people who only want to follow rules aren’t the kind of people I can relate to. I let them be. But I find lots of open minded people everywhere. I guess I attract them now, along with people filled with love.

So, I have learned to let my rules go. Sometimes they still pop up now and then, but invariably they become obsolete.

And they always remind me that personal freedom is rooted in finding your own truth.

And truth has nothing to do with rules.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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