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The A-HA Christmas moment that has changed my life forever: Gratefulness project day 23

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My Christmas holidays went very differently than I expected.

But not on the surface. There it was like it is every year pretty much.

Eating good food, playing cards, relaxing, talking and baking.

No, it was under the surface that it all changed. There was a major KABOOM, A-HA moment that, well, just slid into a family conversation, and I have no doubt changed my life. Completely. For the better.

Sometimes these big life-changing moments just happen (with lots of soul-searching work and forgiveness before them I might add!!!).

My issues with dating aggressive guys come from my relationship with my mother. She was a bully with me as a girl and consequently I tend to feel “comfortable” with guys who get in my face and blame me the way she did.

Some of the men I’ve dated have blamed me for their abusive behaviour, claiming I have done this or not done that, but really it’s because it’s easier for them to blame me than face themselves and the serious problems they have with communicating with people, especially women.

I have known that I had this issue for years. But I don’t think my mother did, or at least I’d never connected the dots for her about it.

So there we were sitting at the dining room table talking about my most recent abusive ex-boyfriend when I connected the dots for my mother. The look of pain and genuine sorrow on her face was quite a gift I can tell you. But during the conversation she, I and my step-father came to the interesting point of, “Why would I want to be with an aggressive guy anyway?” and it was there that it all kind of hit home and came together for me.

As a girl I tried to win my mothers love over and over again. I believed that her treatment of me was about me. It was only later when I saw her begin to try to bully my son that I realized it was about only her.

It’s like in the The Four Agreements when by Don Miguel Ruiz says how people treat you has nothing whatsoever to do with you, whether they treat you well or they don’t, it’s only about them.

That has some very amazing implications. Freedom of mind is one of them.

And I have settled for the bullying treatment because I thought that was somehow what I deserved. And settled is the right word because I have often felt trapped in my relationships, as if I should (I hate that word!) stay because…because…I deserved the pain? The anger? The cruelty? Yes, I guess I’d unconsciously internalized that belief as a child.

But here I am as an adult starting to see that being in these relationships hurts, and I don’t want to keep being hurt by people who “say” they love me, but don’t act like they do. Because you can’t really love anyone by enjoying hurting them or belittling them or bullying them.

And I feel very keenly that my cycle of abusive relationships ended in that A-HA moment (thank you Oprah!).

I had already forgiven my mother and she had already apologized to me many times.

I was at the turning point where I just wanted to stop being attracted to men who enjoyed hurting me emotionally.

And now I’ve turned the corner because the look of pain and sorrow on my mother’s face reinforced what Ruiz said, her behaviour was NEVER about ME!

And the bubble that I was living in that caused me to feel beholden to abusive people burst. And I am eternally happy for it.

And for the first time in years and years I could hug my mother wholeheartedly with no reservations because her accepting my truth was very courageous.

So today I am thankful for forgiveness because I have no doubt that my ability to forgive my mother allowed us to reconcile the past the way we have, and I will forever be thankful for that.

 

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

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Oneness is calm on the surface with a dynamic community living underneath: Gratefulness project day 18

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As I was working on Day 5 of The Proof  by James Twyman, he answered a question I’d been writing about in my journal just an hour before.

I have been letting go of my ego and I feel very peaceful inside myself, and I commented in my journal that it almost seemed boring, but not really.

However, James comments that it’s not a boredom we begin to feel. That instead oneness is quite active.

And I realized that the experience of oneness for me is like a calm lake with a dynamic community living underneath the surface.

I am no longer restless or edgy. The voice I talk to myself with is calmer and more gentle. And my movements are more fluid. My body less stiff.

I have been settling some first chakra issues. And the last one to slowly dissipate is the sciatica.

And the exercise I’ve been doing to help heal it is yoga, which encourages oneness with all things–and so not a coincidence.

So I have this wonderful community moving within me and it feels very centering and grounding.

I know that stopping drinking alcohol has made a big difference as well.

Where I once hid behind the numbness that alcohol brings, I now sit with my feelings and hear them. I have accepted that they are a part of me.

And I suppose not always a comfortable part, and that’s what started me drinking in the first place. But so many people self-medicate when they have emotional issues they find too overwhelming just to sit with.

Alcohol is a legal one, along with smoking cigarettes, but the illegal drug trade is a huge moneymaker because so many people can’t handle their feelings.

I believe that if mental illness didn’t have such a stigma people wouldn’t resort to treating themselves so often. (And there’d likely be a lot less mental illness.)

And at first treating yourself makes you feel as if you’re handling things, even taking responsibility for your issues–just like everyone else. But it’s actually very unhealthy because you’re bottling up what needs to come out.

And believe me it will come out, one way or another.

That’s what my breakdown was all about.

As my doctor said, my cup ran over.

So I have given up drinking for good.

I’d rather see my life for what it is, and myself for who I am.

I’m not saying it’s going to be easy all the time, but it’s definitely easier than avoiding my feelings and hurting people and myself in the process.

So today I’m grateful for my connection to all things. How the universe or God moves through me and has given me the courage to be completely present in this life.

It is only recently that I’ve come to really understand that our life is a gift, and that we’re all here for a reason.

 

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

My ego played on my deepest fears: Gratefulness project day 17

"Look, I'm happy to drop my attachment to ego, but please, don't expect me to give up coffee!"

The two months I lived on my own, I had lots of time to think about how I truly wanted to live my life.

At first, I really believed I wanted to live alone. The idea of having my own space without ever being interrupted or called upon seemed like pure bliss. However, the novelty of that wore off really quickly.

When I started to feel as if I were at the spa, I sensed something temporary.

Yes, I had my cat to keep me company, and yes I had my dog, but because I work from home I became more and more aware that I really do like living with other people. I started to feel as if no one would notice if something happened to me. Well, only my dog because she needed to go out a few times a day, but no people would notice my absence from the world.

Of course that’s not really true, but the feeling made me stop and think.

And then when my dog could not tolerate the apartment and I sent her to live with my dad, I realized I just didn’t want to do it. For all my wishing that I had my own space, the novelty had completely worn off after just two months.

I could not have foreseen my dog’s reaction to the apartment of course, but my plan had been to move in with my fiance and his kids. So it’s not such a big surprise living alone didn’t suit me. That, after all, had not been my goal.

After doing a lot of thinking and reading, I have realized it was my ego convincing me I wanted to live alone. It followed the fear I felt when I’d had a particularly upsetting argument with my fiance. That argument triggered some old feelings in me and I have realized I projected old scenarios onto that argument. My ego came out in full force and caused me to run, believing I HAD TO GET AWAY.

That old fight or flight reaction.

I’m actually quite proud of myself for seeing that I did project onto the situation and my fiance. It often happens quite unconsciously, which it did, but I may never have realized it, but I have.

So, fast forward to now where I see that I was deep in my ego, I can also see what I want all the more clearly.

And that is definitely not living alone.

Our egos can be so persuasive, calling out all our old fears to the forefront.

And that’s definitely what happened to me.

But, I also didn’t believe I could handle myself. I didn’t have faith in my own strength or power to look after myself, so my ego had fertile ground to send me running.

I no longer believe the lies my ego was reinforcing.

I know I can look after myself, I have before and I can now.

I also know I’m strong too.

I had the courage to set out on my own and look after things until I realized what I truly wanted and needed in my life.

It was my journey back to myself, I guess I can say.

And I have realized that it’s not where I am but who I’m with that makes all the difference to me.

I am attached to the people, not where I am, and where I once thought it was the move itself that scared me it was not.

I’m very happy it only took me two months to realize all this. I could’ve lived the rest of my life believing my ego over and over again.

But I will not.

I know my ego is there trying to tear me down, especially when I feel vulnerable. But I am learning to look within and really feel how things truly feel inside of me. When I do that my ego dissolves.

And so I know who I love and why, and I am finding my way back to them step by step.

 

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

Listen to the silence: Gratefulness project day 16

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We become one

The peaceful silence of snow falling.

The sound of rain on your umbrella.

The snoring of your dog.

The purring of your cat.

The beating of your lover’s heart.

The in-breath of the universe’s air.

The out-breath of your worries.

The moment when time stands still.

Just before the sun rises in the morning.

Or the moon shines down long, luxurious streams of light.

We become one.

 

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

Ahimsa, and don’t forget to breathe!: Gratefulness project day 15

ahimsa

I started reading The Proof by James Twyman and Anakha Coman quite a while ago, and I got about halfway through and stopped. I remember a feeling of being overwhelmed, maybe even some fear about continuing, so I didn’t.

While I was unpacking my books on Friday, I came across the book again and I put it aside. I started reading it for the second time yesterday, and I was struck once again by how synchronous our lives can be.

The book is about how we are all filled with the Oneness of the universe. That we are not separate. And that we were born feeling connected, and as we grew we learned to feel separate. He has developed this book of a 40-day practice to teach us how connected we actually are to everything and everyone around us.

He opens the book by talking about slowing down, which I wrote about only a couple days ago in my blog. I had forgotten what James and Anakha had written, so when I read that I was like, “Here I am once again finding a book on my shelves just at the right time.”

One time I was reading about a book on Facebook and it was a Louise Hay book called You Can Heal Your Life. For some reason I looked in my book shelves just in case I had it, and there it was. To this day I still don’t know how I acquired it or how it ended up in my shelves.

Coincidence? I don’t think so.

Admittedly, I do have a lot of books, I suppose I could lose track, but still, it was pretty amazing.

So I am reading The Proof again. It’s a daily practice for 40 days. I think it fits well with my Gratefulness Project so I will blog about both.

Yesterday, day 1 of The Proof, I was supposed to concentrate on slowing down. Ironically I had gone to my Sunday morning yoga so I was quite mellow already. Twyman and Coman suggested I focus on a word, ahimsa, all day, which I did. Ahimsa means non-violence and compassion for all living things. I put it on my wallpaper on my phone, and every time I looked at my phone I said it.

I think the holidays are a perfect time to become more contemplative. Especially when one year changes to another. It’s a time to look back and to look forward, but above all to be where you are.

It allows me to put where I am in perspective.

  • Is this where I thought I’d be?
  • Do I like where I’m going?
  • Would I do anything differently if I could do it over again?

Good questions to ask yourself.

I have certainly asked myself these questions.

My answers are no, yes, yes, respectively.

What are yours?

Today I’m grateful for my book shelves, which hold such wonderful, serendipitous gifts like The Proof.

Ahimsa everyone!

And don’t forget to breathe.

 

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

Slowing down doesn’t mean doing less, it means experiencing more: Gratefulness project day 13

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I like the way the universe has orchestrated my life to move more slowly, especially recently.

Obviously a lesson I must learn. Slowing down (hence the yoga in my life!).

I tend to jump ahead when I would be better off taking my time.

I suppose I’ve always been impatient.

Likely a way to fill up my life doing, but also it runs in my mother’s family.

A lot of Type A personalities there!

Also a lot of failed marriages (80%!), and serious drinking (bordering on an “ism”).

So I suppose I come by it honestly, as they say.

But I’m learning that just because that’s where I come from that doesn’t mean it’s me, it doesn’t have to define me.

No, I have my father’s side in me too.

And then I have personal choice, let’s not forget that.

I have been choosing to try and slow down my whole adult life (and likely even before), but it’s only recently that I’ve identified it as important to who I am.

To the essence of me, myself and I.

I have always been very introspective. And a keen observer of human nature, but I have gotten caught up too much in other people’s needs and wants, and not enough in my own.

I see now that I need to know what my own needs and wants are to be half of any relationship. No one else can tell me what they are (though believe me people have tried!).

But if I don’t know, I can end up following rather aimlessly what other people “think” I should do or be or think or feel or whatever. (There’s that word should again. Not good.)

So over the holidays this year it’s going to be kind of different.

I didn’t put up a tree. I am not getting people Christmas gifts (I don’t have the money). And I’m not going to drink because I’ve stopped.

That alone will make it a very different holiday experience.

Also I have plans to work on myself and my communication skills so I will continue writing and I have books I want to read as well.

(I’m also knitting a sweater, which will definitely help me slow down. Just sayin’.)

I admit consciously slowing down doesn’t exactly feel natural to me, but over time I’m sure I’ll get used to it.

I know I can’t and don’t want to go on blundering around like I think in some ways I have in the past.

So today I’m grateful for the universe’s choice to teach me how to change my rhythm of life to one that enjoys smelling the flowers, breathing deeply, and laughing and being joyous.

I’m ready for it. And probably have been far longer than I ever realized.

 

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

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