The way is love

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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.

 

 

 

 

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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

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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.

 

 

 

Having a moment at Walmart: What’s my life coming to!?

Contemplative-Moment

I was doing my grocery shopping yesterday at Walmart, and I realized I had a different Walmart in my head. As I was looking for an extension cord, I was like, “Hey, this is where they usually keep them. Wait! Nothing’s where it was.” And then I realized I was thinking of the other Walmart, from where I used to live with my fiance.

I stopped and stood there and was like, “Why did this happen? Why has my life been so unsettled?” And it made me sad for a moment. I even thought I might cry, right there on my way to the light bulbs.

As I kept shopping and found what I wanted, I realized I’d gotten used to where I lived with him.

Researchers say it takes 90 days to create a routine. And I lived there a little over 90 days. So now I have to continue creating my routine here. I have another 41 days to go. No wonder sometimes I feel like a fish out of water.

I had lived in the same area, in the same house for 17 years before I moved in with my fiance. And since June 2017, I’ve moved twice. Weird juxtaposition.

I rented this apartment because I knew I’d be happy living here for a few years at least. I don’t know if that’s what I’ll choose to do, but the idea of moving again is really not appealing. No wonder!

Eventually I’d like to have a little place surrounded by trees, maybe close to water with a fireplace and a big porch or nice deck in a quiet area. I find as I get older I want more and more quiet. And despite the fact I’m living in a village right now, it is actually a very quiet residential area.

And in that moment, as I was in another time in another Walmart, I missed my life with my fiance. Not the abusive part obviously, but I missed going shopping together and making decisions about our life together.

I don’t mind shopping on my own, I’ve been doing it for years. I raised my son mostly on my own. But I did like the idea of sharing my everyday life with someone I love. I don’t know if that’ll happen for me, I don’t seem to have a very good track record in my relationships, but who knows maybe I’ll get lucky.

In the meantime, I’ll get used to being here, and going to this Walmart. It’s funny how the small, everyday things can make us stop and think.

Only 41 days to go. Wish me luck!

 

 

woman green dress arms wide

From the series, Because I’m a woman and because I can! by Jacqueline Snider, writer and editor

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Our body’s talk: But do we listen?

how-to-heal-yourself-by-talking-to-your-body

Do you ever find it difficult to listen to your body? I do.

My dog is a barker. So to limit her barking in the apartment building, I’ve been picking her up when I take her in and out of the building. That in itself isn’t necessarily bad, but I was carrying her on my right side and I have an old injury on that side of my body so I need to be careful. Was I? No. And now I’m suffering for it.

Yesterday I needed to go to Costco and get my monthly supplies, and as I was waiting for the bus (that was 20 minutes late) I was in a lot of pain. And I cursed myself for not paying attention to the warning signs my body had been giving me earlier in the week. Luckily I’d taken a pain reliever before I’d gone to the bus stop so the aching subsided, eventually.

I am finishing up my groceries today at Walmart and then I’m going to really take it easy this weekend. I’m closer to 50 than 40 (by one year), and though I’ve been strength training for a couple years now, I still need to honour what my body is telling me.

I realized as I was standing there suffering while I waited for the bus that I was putting my neighbours, and even my dog, before my own health. That comes directly from the belief that I can’t take my own space. That I need to earn people’s love and respect before I love and respect myself. I was even willing to put my dog ahead of my own health.

I realized how “crazy” that was and decided not to behave that way anymore. I do want to get along with my neighbours as well as I can, but not at the expense of my health. Also this is an animal-friendly apartment building, so they likely expect, well, some animals.

I looked up in Christiane Northrup‘s book, Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, hip and joint problems and sciatica and they originate in the first chakra, the root chakra, and that is an area in our bodies that deals with independence and dependence. And that is exactly why I’m here living alone, to prove to myself that I can live completely independently and not only survive, but flourish.

So it’s no surprise that I’m having issues with my root chakra. I have had some skin problems on my face that come from root chakra issues, so I am obviously firmly dealing with some old, very significant patterns in my life.

Though it isn’t easy, and is painful not only emotionally but physically, it is helping me realize that I’m really making some great progress in facing my fears.

And today I’m going to continue my gratitude journal by being thankful for my clients.

I am grateful for my wonderful writing and editing clients.

Over the 17 plus years I’ve been working freelance through my business The way is love,I have met and worked with some very amazing clients. Many of whom have become my good friends as well. I have had the privilege to work on novels, screenplays, self-help books, websites, alternative medicine books, and many children’s books too.

My work is part of who I am, and I can’t separate it from myself as a writer and editor. I really love what I do, and feel extremely thankful that I can work at a career that I love getting up in the morning to do. I know not everyone can say that and I’m very thankful I can.

The pain my body has been bombarding me with is yet another example of how wise our bodies are, and how important it is to pay attention to them. And I will do my best to take it easy and help my body heal because in doing so I will be healing my issues with independence as well.

 

 

woman green dress arms wide

From the series, Because I’m a woman and because I can! by Jacqueline Snider, writer and editor

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Going it alone: Doesn’t come naturally but I’m doing it anyway (with help)

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This isn’t going to be easy. Coming to terms with living my life based on my own wants and needs.

I can feel that I have an internal struggle going on.

I realize some people would have no problem choosing themselves first. That is so not me, however.

I often feel conflicted. Even unworthy at times. But at least I no longer believe I’ll disappear. Cease to exist because I’m not living my life for someone else.

I was watching one of my favourite shows, Midsomer Murders, a British murder mystery show, and a character on one of the episodes struck me. He was an old man named Tom, who’d come from a very abusive home and had ended up killing his father to stop his father from killing his mother in a drunken rage. He lived rough and slept by a campfire with forest creatures. He’d never really come to terms with what he’d done. And he found the simplicity and peace of nature a balm.

As I was watching him curled up by his fire with a family of foxes curled up not far away I realized that is what I want. I don’t want to live rough, but I do want peace, my own space, animals around me and to live my life based on my own terms.

Some people in the village didn’t like Tom squatting on someone’s land. They thought he was disreputable and eccentric. But he lived there anyway, on a friend’s land, and ignored what the villagers thought of him.

And I realized I’ve never been good at that. Just doing what I want and need. I am getting much better at it and followed my gut and my heart when I rented this apartment and chose to live on my own for the first time.

Somehow I just knew it was the right thing to do for me and that it would work out, which it has. Better than I would ever have expected. And from that I am learning that I can and do make very good decisions for myself when I act on my gut and listen to my heart.

I realized that sometimes I focus on what is worrying me rather than what is good in my life, and by doing that I’m likely attracting more of what I don’t want into my life.

I’m going to make a concerted effort to focus on the good things. On all the things that are going so well. And on how much my intuition has helped me already.

One of the women at my church has been posting photos on Facebook every day about gratitude. I think that’s a wonderful idea. Because focusing on what brings us joy, what we find beautiful and spellbinding about our life is bound to bring more magic into it.

I’m grateful for my family and friends

And so today I want to say how grateful I am for the support of my family and friends when I chose to move here on my own. One friend even said she was amazed at how courageous I was to leave an abusive relationship and choose to go it alone. And to me she is an amazingly courageous woman herself, being a very successful partner in a large accounting firm. Not an easy position for a woman to attain. She must’ve been very courageous herself to get to where she has.

So being here is not only because I had the courage to do it. I also had family and friends behind me who believed in me too, and my decisions to live my life the way I wanted to.

Wherever we get, it’s not only our own doing. There are always people who have helped us and supported us along the way. I see that very clearly now.

So as I learn to live here on my own and make my space and life what I want, I can remember and be grateful for all the people in my life who helped me and encouraged me to get here.

That makes living here a lot easier. And I’m very lucky to be part of such a loving community.

 

woman green dress arms wide

From the series, Because I’m a woman and because I can! by Jacqueline Snider, writer and editor

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The seasons help us look within: November in Canada

sadday

November in Canada can be very dreary.

Today it is. It’s overcast, which means we can’t see the sky, and the air is very heavy. The cloud cover is like a blanket stifling us, telling us to stay inside and sleep. Hibernate.

Maybe I’ll just curl up for a nap.

The trees have mostly shed their leaves for the winter months to come. The only colour we see is from the fall leaves scattered on the ground and the conifer trees that remain green all winter.

It’s as if the world has become grey, which is in direct contrast to how beautiful it is here during the spring and summer, and even early fall.

It’s days like this that I find it particularly hard to focus and work. November is my least favourite month, and we have a couple weeks of this coming up in the forecast.

December is often bright, crisp and cold with white snow everywhere that sparkles like jewels. I much prefer that, even though it becomes a lot colder, than the dreariness of November.

I know November is the month that helps us prepare physically and psychologically for the cold to come. The temperature slowly drops and we adjust more and more to the layers of clothes we must wear, the hats, mittens and gloves, and the boots. Sometimes it feels as if it takes forever to get dressed just to go out the door.

My dog isn’t very patient with that, but what can I do? She doesn’t need anything and I need layers. Such is life.

And as I sit here looking out my living room windows seeing roof tops and grey clouds I wonder if I’ll get anything done today at all. If I do it’ll be a struggle.

And here in Canada more people pass away in the winter months from November to February, and I can understand why.

We’re creatures that feel the seasons just like any other.

And winter here is when many of the living things become dormant, at least for a few months. So I suppose if anyone was planning on leaving this mortal coil it makes sense the colder months kind of encourage that.

At my church it can be rather overwhelming how many funerals happen in winter. Last winter it was particularly hard on our minister, who lost many faithful parishioners she knew very well. We’ll have to wait and see what this winter will bring.

I suppose it’s on my mind a bit because my father is getting quite old. He is beginning to lose his memory and is losing weight. And a small part of me wonders if his body will decide to give up this winter.

As our parents age we start thinking about these things.

So on this dreary November day I’m wondering about what’s going to come. The natural cycle of life is taking hold of us, and we’re turning inward and taking stock. I suppose that’s what the change of seasons is for.

Looking within and slowing down to stay warm, sleep more and value our loved ones.

woman green dress arms wide

From the series, Because I’m a woman and because I can! by Jacqueline Snider, writer and editor

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Not disappearing: Having a voice and using it

red head girl giving speech

Why is it that I often feel adrift without someone else’s expectations fueling my life?

When I was younger I didn’t even see I was motivated more by outside expectations than my own. Now I see it, again and again, and it frustrates the hell out of me.

From a very young age, I have not taken well to being told what to do. Partly because I was told what to do all the time. But throughout my life I have consistently rebelled against the status quo. There’s something about it that doesn’t fit with who I am at all. I am seeing that now.

But despite that there’s a part of  me that wants some normalcy, some influences in my life. I know that comes from feeling as if I have disappeared because I’m living alone. But I think I have denied who I am for most of my life to try and have a life like other people, whatever that means.

The idea that other people live normal lives is false. I realize that now. Behind every door is a world unlike any other in many ways.

I wasn’t brought up to love my unique me, I was expected to conform, to disappear even into the woodwork. Feeling invisible is not natural for me. I know people who are abused sometimes try to be invisible. But for me my personality doesn’t shrink, it expands.

I suppose a part of me might feel that to really grow I need to be reflected through someone else. That I need a mirror to really be here.

However I am coming to realize that is not at all true. I moved in here on my own on purpose to finally come to terms with the fact that I am a whole person even when no one else is around.

Because I work from home, I am afforded a large amount of time to myself, and it is through this time that I’m coming to terms with who I am.

I’m not sure why society doesn’t encourage individuality. I know that the climate is changing in that respect and more people are speaking up about their experiences and who they are, as the world gets smaller because of social media.

I certainly feel connected to people through my work. Writing my blog, and editing people’s novels really helps me feel that I’m making a solid contribution to the world that is based on who I truly am.

And I have contributed to the world in some very significant ways that people often don’t acknowledge.

I am a daughter and step-daughter, I have a step-brother and step-sister, I am a mother. I live with a dog and cat who I rescued. I have friends and my tribe who look forward to seeing me. I make a difference in many lives. These people care about me and hold me in their hearts.

It’s easy to forget this as we get caught up in the minutia of daily life and the workings of our mind.

And for all these people it’s important that I exist. That I am a part of their lives. Just as much as they’re important to me in my life. We so often forget that it is our connection to others that brings us meaning.

And the connection I have with others is liberating. They do not “expect” me to be a certain way. No, that is old baggage I am learning to let go from my childhood.

Likely everyone has these holdover issues that make us feel less than. It is something I am laying to rest, and it may take me the full year to do it, but I will.

In the meantime I will grapple with it and continue acknowledging that my contribution is already significant and real.

The only reason I would actually disappear is if I let myself, and as I’m coming to realize that is not me at all.

I have a voice and I’m going to use it.

I am using it.

 

woman green dress arms wide

From the series, Because I’m a woman and because I can! by Jacqueline Snider, writer and editor

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Banana bread and healing: Baking is good for the soul

banana bread

I’m making banana bread today. It’s a recipe from my great-great grandmother all the way from England. The bread comes out a gorgeous colour and texture, and tastes so good!

There’s something about the colder weather that brings out the baker in me. We’ve had a cold snap that’s brought me back to the oven.

I love to bake, and it’s very healing I find. Taking simple ingredients and making something beautiful is creating at its best.

I find I also go within myself when I bake. It’s almost like meditating in a way.

It was my mother who taught me to bake, ironically. I’m sure she believed girls should know how to bake. (There’s that evil word “should” again, but in this case I’m thankful.)

Since I’ve been baking from a young girl, I’m rather good at it. I can smell when something’s done. I can touch the bread and know by its bounce how cooked it is.

And I’ve been looking forward to making the bread since I took the ripe bananas out of the freezer yesterday.

I’m going to bring a loaf to my friend’s tonight. I’m being invited for duck, so I think bringing a loaf made with love is a great way to contribute.

Food brings people together.

I have had an issue with food since I was young. I didn’t give myself enough. It was a way I could control my life, but also food didn’t taste that great to me.

Originally my love of baking came from wanting to create rather than eating what I made.

It was only after I started taking an anti-depressant, when I was scarily skinny from depression, that food started to actually taste good.

As I learned that 80% of the serotonin our brain uses is produced in our stomach, I came to understand that I hadn’t been producing enough. Hence the breakdown, but also the lack of interest in food. The two were definitely connected for me.

So now I’m a healthy weight and bake to create and to eat. The best combination possible.

 

woman green dress arms wide

From the series, Because I’m a woman and because I can! by Jacqueline Snider, writer and editor

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