What if we don’t have to be broken?

I think one of the most difficult parts of growing up is finding the strength to pull the skeletons from your closet. It would seem so much easier to hide them away forever and leave the past in the past, but in everything we have done that we are not proud of, there is a little piece of ourselves hidden among the ashes.

I hear a lot of people say they are broken. I have even said it myself in the past.

What if we don’t have to be broken?

What if there was a way to put ourselves back together?

When I first started writing my memoir, I remember it being very painful at times. Revisiting memories that I had selectively forgotten in order to save my own sanity.

As soon as I opened the door to my childhood, they all came rushing out and the wall of security I had built began tumbling down out around me.

It was from within one of the lowest moments of my life that I found my greatest strength.

One by one, I confronted all the residual emotional patterns that I had built up during those years.

The feelings of disappointment, neglect, abandonment, and loss.

The root of my constant need for approval and codependency.

My fear of love or the loss there of.

Piece by piece, I began putting myself back together.

Until I came to a place of great appreciation for all that I had experienced.

I was a new person the day I finished the first chapter and even more so as I wrote the final page.

And now, as I struggle with the pages of the 2nd, I am reminded of the same reluctance I felt when I wrote my very first blog post.

I know writing this next phase of my story will be just as, if not more of an emotional roller coaster than that last.

The first was during my early childhood and most of it was about my mother and her skeletons. There was aftermath, but it was her aftermath.

This next book will begin as I am entering High school, my mother having  been missing for just short of a year. I was lost and confused, but determined to act like neither of those were true. I don’t even know that girl now.

I picked up one of my old journals for inspiration and I barely got through the first few pages before I had to put it down. I could feel the pain on those pages and worse yet, I knew what was to come.

The moment my mother left me, something in me changed. Something it took years of reflection to understand. I spent a great deal of my life beyond that point feeling as though I always had to prove something to someone. In the earlier years it was proving to everyone else that I was not my mother. Showing them that I could conquer anything and everything she couldn’t.

Needless to say, it led me down a road where I did a lot of things I am not necessarily proud of. Things…the majority of the people in my life have no idea I did and for that matter would have a hard time believing I ever could do.

Up until now, I was not ready to share these things with anyone, let alone the whole world.

But you know what?

The person I am today is not just the result of all of the good things I have done. It is also and maybe more so, everything I have done that I am not proud of, those little piece of myself hidden among the ashes.

I am living proof that in this life, we are not bound by the mistakes of our past or the circumstances placed on us by others.

If telling my story is an inspiration to even just one, it’s worth it. That was the whole reason I started this blog and went on to write the book. So believe me when I say, I am not going to quit now, just because I hit a raw moment!

Thank you to everyone who has been so patient, yet persistent 🙂 in kicking my butt back in gear!

The wheels have started turning and I promise you’ll be the first ones to get a sneak peek!

 

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It is a strange thing; this life.

I am writing to you today from within a fleeting moment of ease.

I don’t know how long it will last or how long it will be before my perception begins to blur, but these moments are scarce at best these days and therefore something to cherish.

It is a strange thing; this life.

A collection of moments woven together through emotional experiences. Creating the unique tapestry we cloak ourselves in for the entirety of our lives.

Seemingly so simple at times, almost mundane.

A settled routine providing much needed comfort in an otherwise chaotic world.

And then other times…it knocks the wind out of you. Sending you into a tale spin so fast all you can do is hold on tight and pray it is over soon.

Up until this week, I had been feeling pretty easy about things. Sure, I was still working through some emotional scars, but it was nothing I couldn’t handle.

And then, before I knew what was happening, manageable took a nose dive into sheer and utter chaos!

Before I knew it, I was behind in every aspect of my life! I won’t bore you with too many of the details (after all we all have our stuff). Basically, I went out of town on business, got sick and per the usual over extended myself on all levels. 😦

Due to a series of unfortunate events, I was behind on yard work, personal projects, social obligations, work obligations, you name it. And when I say behind I mean like a few days for most stuff. Which I’m sure sounds silly to most people, but for someone like me it is an emotional trigger.

I know that I have issues with needing acceptance from others to validate my own self worth and this last week was a perfect example of why that is such an unhealthy habit to have.

I woke up Monday feeling like death and my boss even gave me the okay to take it easy and rest up.

Nice right? Ya, she is amazing 🙂

Unfortunately, the universe had a different plan. All at once emails, phone calls, and notifications began pouring in.

At first I remained calm as I usually do. I began answering each in the order it was received (my normal MO) and repeated the mantra:

“Inspiration will come and I will get it done!”

 

Again, may sound silly, but all a mantra really is, is a way for you to take your mind away from worry (producing negative feelings) and realign you to a more positive manageable place.

Like I said, it worked for a while.

Until, people started getting antsy!

One negative to punctuality is that you end up setting an expectation. People are not used to waiting more than a few hours to receive a response from me, so when it is approaching the day mark they begin to wonder if I received their email.

So now Jane Smith’s one email and one phone call just turned into more emails and more phone calls.

And the list grows….

Every new request felt like someone placing another barbell on my chest.

All the while a portion of my mind was still focused on the previous heartbreak I was already dealing with and making a list of all of the personal tasks I had still not tended to.

It was too much.

And I had been here before; a bitter sweet realization.

The complete shut down. Depression.

Seeing as I am a frequent traveler through the town of The Overwhelmed , I knew I would be able to climb back out of it, but the question was how long would that take and was there a way to speed up the process?

So yesterday, after work ended, I decided to turn off  my phone. At this point, I knew social interaction was an absolute no go. Especially considering how emotionally vulnerable I was feeling. I even posted a message on FB letting everyone know that I was detaching so no one would worry when I didn’t respond to their calls/texts. Basically my way of saying, “I love you all, but please leave me alone!!”.

So I stayed up to 4 AM getting caught up on work. It wasn’t like I was going to sleep anyway! 🙂

And besides, it was worth the peace of mind it gave me when I started back up today.

Now… I have finished work and for the first time in almost a month I finally felt like writing, well more so I felt like sharing.

In a world where the list of aliments is never ending, I don’t think many people understand how diverse & debilitating depression is. And more importantly, how to properly give those suffering from it the support or in many cases the distance they need.

Before I gained the mechanisms to deal with my depression, tale spins such as the one I just described could have lasted much longer or resulted in a more serious outcome.

As unhealthy as it can be sometimes to love others more than yourself, in the case of depression it can sometimes prevent you from taking it to the extreme. I know what something like taking my own life would do to the ones I care about, so for me that will never be an option on the table. I am blessed in that respect. My struggle is my savior.

I have also had the benefit of studying psychology and as with most psych majors, the first person I picked apart was myself 🙂 Not everyone is as blessed to have this advantage.

I guess the point I am trying to get across is that you just never know where a person is at in life or what could send them over the edge. For that reason, is it not just better to be kind?

Depression is something I have dealt with and hid quite well through out most of my life, so believe me when I tell you that you may think you know what someone is dealing with at any given moment, but chances are you have no idea.

I can sit here now and clearly see the patterns in my behavior and I think while it was happening I had some awareness of it, but when my limits were tested as quickly as they were, there was little left to do than surrender.

My brain was all twisted up and the only way of releasing the pressure was to let go and ride out the storm.

There was nothing anyone could do for me in that moment, except leave me alone, but there was no way for anyone to know that because I would never tell them.

See how in essence I create my own misery? It’s sad really how clear it is to realize that after the fact!

The take away is that with each relapse comes the additional clarity to better deal with those that have yet to come. And there will be more.

As anyone with depression will tell you, it is not something that can be cured.

It is something that must be conquered.

To anyone feeling lost,

You are not alone.

Your feelings are valid and not meant to be understood by anyone but you.

Your heart will heal when it’s ready and only you can decide when it is time to move on.

You are not obligated to explain yourself for needing time alone with your thoughts or for anything for that matter.

It is okay to be selfish and even a little frivolous at times.

You are not perfect, but neither is anyone else.

You are going to make mistakes. Sometimes the same ones, over and over again. Go easy on yourself. Being alive can be challenging and unexpected. You are only doing the best you can with what you have and that is all you have within your power to do.

Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. I know you have wounds deeper than most, but you will never find the one meant to heal them, if you don’t let them try.

And most importantly, find a way to love yourself.

Even if it takes a life time.

 

Image courtesy of Janpen04081986 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Until That One Day Comes

Last night for the first time in a very long time I experienced an extreme amount of anger. It sounds like a bad thing and maybe it was at the start, but amidst the rage came a great clarity.

And today, I woke up changed.

You see, I am not one to get mad easily. Sure, I get frustrated quite often and emotional from time to time. After all, I am only human.

Otherwise, for the most part, I am generally pretty laid back. I like to think that I do my very best to be as forgiving and understanding as possible. I realize that no one is perfect, certainly not me. We are all just doing our best to get through life given the challenges we are faced with.

So for that reason, I try to do anything within my power for those that I care about. I will even endure a massive amount of mistreatment from them and still allow them back in my life over and over and over again.

Until that one day comes…

There is no telling when or what will cause it, but for one reason or another the moment will come when everything changes and there is no going back.

For, by the time I reach this point, I no longer care about the consequences of speaking my mind. The words I utter still come from the heart, but they are no longer sugar coated for fear of burning a bridge.

They are instead, blunt, straight to the point and comprised only of my final thoughts; my way of saying farewell.

No matter how much love I have for this person, in this moment, the love I have for myself over rules and anger becomes the fuel for a positive change.

The few people who have managed to push me this far, should consider themselves very special. For the depth of love needed to cause me to feel this level of anger is a rarity. A rarity that if treasured will lead to great loyalty and if abused…well there is no going back.

However, this does not mean that I will ever be nasty towards that person in the future, should our paths cross again. To be nasty would mean that I was still harboring the anger that pushed me to the breaking point in the first place and that is simply not possible anymore. Besides, it would be counter productive not to forgive and taste the freedom of moving forward without ill feelings lingering from the past.

I have said it numerous times before and I’ll say it again…we are all flawed. There is no telling what someone else is going through at any moment in time and we can only help them as much as they are willing to let us. Part of the growing process is knowing when you are no longer wanted/needed and to learn to bow out gracefully. It is not our responsibility, or within our power for that matter, to change people. Any time spent trying to could surely be better utilized.

Doesn’t it seem like it would be in our best interest (and theirs) to find a way to forgive them, accept them for where they are and come to a place where we are able to genuinely wish them well with no ulterior motives?

 

 

Getting Back to Basics

Well I must say, I am in a really amazing place right now! I hope it’s contagious 🙂

I have taken a step back from the chaos of the past six months and it has given me great clarity.

I can see now how easy it can be to lose sight of where we are headed in life. Even when you think you have it all figured out, life has a way of derailing you down a path you never planned.

Sometimes it is a complete dead end and you end up having to track back through the mud and the muck of past lessons you have not quite mastered.

Other times it is simply a detour…you get lost along the way for a bit, but eventually you begin to recognize old patterns and you manage to follow the breadcrumbs right to where you were meant to be.

I wouldn’t say I hit a dead end…it was more like I picked up the wrong trail of breadcrumbs for a while, went in circles for a bit, but eventually ended up back where I needed to be.

It was a humbling experience.

I thought I was an expert at positive thinking. There was no way I would ever fall back into feeling negative all the time! I was wrong, but it was a good reality check for me. I discovered a lot of areas in my life that I still needed to work on and old self defeating behaviors that I thought I had mastered.

I learned that I still have a tendency to take on more than I can handle sometimes and that I have a very  hard time admitting that to anyone…especially myself.  For me, failure in any form is perhaps the feeling I hate the most. Rejection is right up there with it, but that is easier to swallow because it is more like an incompatibility than something you didn’t succeed in. When I interview for a job and I don’t get the position or I go out with someone new and it doesn’t go quite well, I simply chalk it up to not being the  right fit. Failure on the other hand carries all the weight of the expectations associated with the goal you did not reach or the relationship that didn’t work out. Moments of failure are like poison to my normal routine of positive thinking.

It is easy to stay positive when everything in your life is going great, but the real challenge is finding a way to do it when everything seems to be falling apart. But once you do, you will find strength you never knew you had and  discover all the  power to change your circumstance within you.  You are no longer filled with anger and sadness, because you are too preoccupied with finding ways to better your life and the life of those around you.

After this recent reflection, I have a greater appreciation for my life and all of the people in it, regardless of their role. I believe that everyone enters our lives for a reason. Some may treat us poorly, but in most cases those people are the catalyst for some major growth.  I think that is why forgiveness is so freeing. When we place all the blame for our circumstances on others, we carry around the weight of all the pain we associate with them. Replaying significant moments over and over in our mind, stirring up old negative feelings, until it completely prevents us from ever moving forward.

But when we forgive, it is like purging the mind. We are able to look back on those moments with gratitude because we know the role they played in helping us become the person we are today.

Sure it is easier to sit around and bellyache about the painful things that have happened to you in the past, but you are only wasting the small amount of time we have on this earth. Nothing will ever change until you step up and take charge of your own life.

It is not the fault of previous lovers that you are afraid of love or the fault of your parents that you are insecure. It is yours.

Your life went on after those experiences and every day you had a choice as to whether or not to try and move forward and you didn’t. So year after year, you not only carry the weight of the past, but you add to it. Until one day, you begin to accept your fears as simply being a part of who you are. They become an excuse for you to take the easy way out and just settle for your life instead of creating it.

And that is all fine and good if you are happy, but are you? I mean really happy? Or are you just settling for the life you think you have to live?

I know it sounds a little harsh, but it’s true. It would be very easy to blame my mother for all of my insecurities, abandonment issues and fears of failure. And I am pretty sure most would agree she played a role, but that was then and this is now.

Recently, I asked myself those questions. I took a long hard look at every aspect of my life and made myself answer honestly.

And I am not ashamed to admit that my answer was NO for a lot of them. And that was okay because I took it as a challenge. I moved my energy from feeling bad about the less desirable aspects of my life to figuring out what it was that bothered me and finding a way to turn things around.

The difference it has made in me has been transformative and still expanding every day.

I am not saying I won’t run into another detour, but let’s hope this time I make a few less circles around the trail!

 

New Beginnings

For the past few days there has been a robin at my house that has been relentlessly attacking the windows. The most obvious reason is that it is mating season and he most likely saw his reflection so he was persistently staking his claim. So, I covered the exterior windows to remove the reflection, but he didn’t go away. In fact, as I was getting into my car to leave, he flew at my car window and then just sat on the hood looking at me.

“What do you want?!” I said looking at him through the windshield. He just tilted his head and flew away.

Frustrated, I just rolled my eyes and left.

A close friend of mine reminded me that birds are messengers and that he was trying to tell me something. I had no idea what that could be and then today it hit me.

For me, seeing a robin usually fills me with great joy because they are a sign of spring and spring is a time for new beginnings. However, this robin was making me angry and just seemed to be adding to my already sober and defeated mood.

My life since last fall has been in a bit of turmoil. I won’t go in to the details, but lets just say that every aspect of it has been a challenge. From work to house repairs to my love life, everything has been in what feels like a constant state of upheaval.

Each day it was becoming harder and harder to find peace. Something I had thought I mastered. I was very wrong.

The downward spiral started in September and by March, when I was beginning to think I had a handle on everything again, my greatest weakness reared its ugly head.

I felt broken and ashamed.

Mostly, I was disappointed in myself for allowing others the power to take my joy away, for letting their actions dictate my self-worth and my mood. I was better than that! I have done the work, found my center, my peace. So how in the world did I end up here again?

Because I am human.

Because I am a person who feels with great intensity and loves from the deepest caverns of my soul. I look for the best in people and when I don’t see it, I just look that much harder.

Call me naive, but I think the words we utter to another, whether it be a boss making promises to an employee or a lover professing their love, should be taken as truth or never spoken.

Perhaps that is the lesson here.

The only intentions one can truly count on are our own.

Last night for what is now going on almost a month, I couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned til 3AM playing the disappointments of the days past, over and over in my head. Until it all became too much.

The emptiness in my heart so heavy I could hold back the tears no longer. So I cried. And I begged the lord to make it all go away. Pleading with him to take away this pain, this love and the memories that keep swimming around in my brain. It had been a very long time since I felt this alone, this defeated, this heartbroken.

In that moment, I would have given anything to be angry. But with all the love in my heart, it was just not possible.

Catching my breath, still pleading for a resolution, I eventually fell into the only place of peace I have found these days…sleep.

I awoke this morning with an overwhelming feeling of disappointment that I had to struggle through yet another day.

And then it came…the anger. What a relief!

Sounds weird I know, that anger would be a relief, but it was.

Just feeling the anger, reminded me of who I was. I was no longer debilitated with sadness anymore, but rather empowered with madness! Not just at those who hurt me, but at myself.

How dare I allow the actions of others to bring me back down to a place I swore I would never be again. They have no power over me unless I let them and why did I let them?

I let them because I gave them much more credit than they deserved. I was not unworthy of their kindness or undeserving of their love. If anything, perhaps they were unworthy of mine?

“The biggest coward of a man is to awaken the love of a woman without the intention of loving her.” – Bob Marley

And for me, after anger comes clarity. You see, I am a person who believes in second chances, but there is rarely a third. Once I get pushed to the limit, there is usually no going back. For by that time, I have learned too much to revisit old feelings. Call it self preservation I guess, but by the time I have reached this point the words of another that once had so much power lose all meaning.

I know people can change and I will never rule out the possibility of them doing so. After all, this life is a learning experience for all of us. However, actions become their only hope in convincing me that the change is real.

And more importantly, this entire experience has taught me that I still have a great deal of growing to do myself. They say that timing is everything and as humans we want what we want and we want it right now!

It is important to remember though that perhaps the reason we are not getting what we want is because either we are not ready for it, it is not ready for us or it simply is not meant to be. And if it is not meant to be than there is surely something even better waiting around the corner. We just have to have faith that it will come to us when the time is right.

When I think about my little robin “stalker” now, I can finally see the message. Anger was door to the peace I was seeking and joy the window to new beginnings.

For anyone who is feeling down, left behind or unworthy, I hope you found this helpful. Just remember, you are the creator of your own reality and only you should have power over the way you feel.

Never give that power away.

 

Image courtesy of PaulR at FreeDigitalPhotos.net