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.

 

 

 

You’re just all about your feelings–Don’t be

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There’s nothing behind those feelings, but you’re just all about your feelings.

And, yes, we’re feeling animals, but we’re really about our principles.

Because behind our principles is where our decisions come from. They make us who we are.

So don’t get lost in all those feelings. Because those feelings can stop you in your tracks.

They can stop you from listening to your gut, to your heart. They can stop you from acting.

Our feelings say, what if this… what if that… but your principles say, I know… I can… I’m strong enough…

Because we know what we don’t want. What we won’t do. Who we’re not.

We know. Deep within us we know.

Our feelings may say we’re undeserving, unattractive, small, unworthy, conflicted.

But our principles say we can, we are beautiful, we are bigger than we know and able and ready to be.

So when your feelings bubble up past all those amazing principles. When those feelings stop you from acting, look in the mirror and say, who am I?

Because believe me, you know. You know deep in your gut, in your heart who you are, and then act based on those principles.

Don’t let your feelings make you into someone you’re not.

Remember you have everything inside of you you need to succeed.

The rest is only noise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Freeing the victim within–In that there’s power

naked woman with ambivalent face

It’s a mindset.

Not one we choose, exactly. Well, not one I chose.

For me it came from abuse. Emotional and sexual.

It became programming really. How can a four year old know a way out? Especially an emotional one? The physical one was unavailable. I was cornered, trapped, naked–literally.

The disconnect happens in the mind. You think, how can I deserve this? But I must, it’s happening. Maybe I’m a bad girl. I must be because it’s happening.

And so it continues. Round and round. Keeping you awake at night wondering. Maybe I’m too much. Or not enough. Round and round.

The beginning of madness.

And when they look at my body, why must they touch it? It feels wrong. The attention seems like a secret. Don’t tell anyone. Never tell. I’m your friend. If you want to stay my friend you will never tell. I do, and I don’t.

How can I be sexy when I’m four?

Someone, please help me.

And so it goes. Round and round.

And that four year old grows up.

And she’s beautiful and smart and intuitive and thoughtful–and broken inside.

She’s also reckless. Driven. Filled with rage. Anorexic.

The woman from the girl.

But she wants to be loved. Not like when she was young. She wants to be loved well.

Not chastised, used, manipulated, inappropriately touched. No, she wants gentle kindness, but doesn’t know where to find it.

What does it look like? What does it feel like?

Marriages come, and go. They’re broken too.

Where does it come from, this gentleness? Where can I find it?

Then one day it comes. After the breakdown. After the admission of madness, it comes.

It comes from where I never thought to look before, within.

And the sun begins to shine. For the first time.

From within.

The pain came from without, but the healing comes from within.

The love comes from within.

And so ends the victim within the girl.

Because with light comes truth, not shame.

What happened to me is not me.

Who I am inside, makes me.

And I choose power. I forgive myself for not being loved well.

And I choose instead to be full from within.

And miraculously the madness evaporates with the warmth of the sun.

No more dark corners. No more harsh words. No more locked doors. No more forced open legs.

No more.

The girl within the woman is freed.

So the woman within the girl claims her power.

And that is freedom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Connection and addiction–Creating the love we want and need

Connection. What is it really?

I believe it is different for everyone. And that everyone needs a different level of connection to feel loved, to feel understood, to feel free to love.

I grew up with a very loving father and an emotionally distant, aggressive mother. I moved between unconditional love and neglect and abuse, a seesaw of emotions daily.

What did this do to me emotionally? I sometimes felt worthy of love and respect and other times completely unlovable and inconvenient. And so my personal relationships have mirrored this strange imbalance. There was a conflict going on within myself. A strange war between the side of me that felt worthy and the side that absolutely didn’t.

The war caused me to be capable of deeply loving kind, innocent people and creatures. And made me reckless at times, living filled with rage.

I know that anger fueled me for a lot of my young life. The fact that it was my mother who didn’t really want to love me made learning that I was worthwhile that much harder. Mothers are supposed to love their children, aren’t they? I grew up knowing that was not true.

It was not a given. I did not have my mother’s love. And because of that I did not have that mother-daughter connection.

It has affected my life in many different ways.

I was very emotional, passionate and loving. I was reckless and angry. I was driven to achieve at school, and did, being highly competitive. I used my body physically to keep my anger at bay. I was extremely physical and challenged myself to keep up with all the neighbourhood boys, no matter what their ages were.

I started keeping a journal and writing poetry to express emotions that no one knew about or would listen to. I fell in love with my cats, and looked after them and loved them with my heart. I loved babies and children, babysitting regularly. I worked from a really young age to keep busy and because it was expected of me. I had good friends that I confided in, and was sometimes betrayed by. And I had boyfriends who treated me well and others who really didn’t.

And as I got older I realized that the connection I needed and wanted in my relationships was of a certain quality, of a certain depth. And that I was capable of giving it, but not all people were able to give it in return. That became a difficult issue for me because the side of me that felt unworthy of love settled.

I didn’t know that the settling would bring people into my life that were not good for me. As they say, hindsight is 20/20.

A pivotal moment in my life was when I found out one of my old boyfriends had killed himself. He had a terrible childhood with his father, who tried to kill him many times. My old boyfriend was already taking drugs regularly at 17 and by 19 was an addict. He took uppers, muscle relaxants, caffeine pills, smoked hash, and God knows what else. By the time we split up, at 19, he was already incapable of functioning in society. And at 33 he killed himself.

He was a man who I totally connected with. He was sweet and gentle, and loved me openly. We were fearlessly in love with each other and connected so deeply that I think the power of our connection kind of blew us away. And we were young and didn’t know how unusual and wonderful our connection was until we broke up and were apart.

I think we both looked for that connection in other people after that, and though I can’t speak for him, I never found it again. Not until recently.

And it is through my connection to my old boyfriend that I can feel how profoundly connection affects us. He turned to drugs to cope with his childhood, with the lack of love and the violence he lived through at the hands of his father, but was still able to connect with me. But once our connection was gone after we’d broken up, how did his life go?

I think he had trouble finding the level of connection again, or maybe had trouble giving it. Likely the drugs interfered with his relationships greatly. I broke up with him because he was unable to work or support himself. He likely couldn’t maintain good relationships with others either because he was only marginally functional because of his drug use.

It obviously didn’t make his life worthwhile to him. I was heartbroken when I found out he’d killed himself. He was such a gentle soul.

After I found out he was gone, I wondered if our connection had been real. If it had ever really existed, and I think I kind of gave up. It was not long after that I was in a very bad relationship with my ex-husband and had a breakdown because I just couldn’t hold it all together anymore.

My breakdown taught me that I was living a life that wasn’t mine. That I was in a marriage that had to end. That I was working at a job that was soulless for me.

And that I’d been battling depression for most of my life, unknowingly. I’d been attacking myself from within with all that rage and feelings of being unworthy.

And as I went through counselling and took my medication I started to come more and more back to myself. And the connection that I had at one point had with myself and my old boyfriend came back to me. And my whole life changed after that.

And it has continued to change. I now know that the connection I had with my old boyfriend was real. I have found it with another and within myself. And since then my life is becoming what I want and need it to be.

I no longer feel incapable or helpless or unlovable.

It has been a long road, and I have learned through other people who I’ve loved how important living our own lives is. I now know and will never forget that the love I need and want exists and is there for me. I can give it and I can receive it.

I am far stronger and more courageous than I once believed.

I am so sorry that my old boyfriend couldn’t keep fighting. I am so sorry that he felt he couldn’t go on. I am sure that his need for drugs clouded his perceptions and made his life harder, not easier.

I will focus on my connection to others and myself, and remember that distance creates hopelessness, and none of us are every truly without hope.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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