The Dysfunctional Dream

How many of you are familiar with rejection? – I am guessing everyone.

From little daily nuances in society to the beast of them all; heartbreak.

And why do they call it heartbreak? – Because it literally feels as if your heart is being ripped from your chest.

But why does it feel so physical?

“The answer is — our brains are wired to respond that way. When scientists placed people in functional MRI machines and asked them to recall a recent rejection, they discovered something amazing. The same areas of our brain become activated when we experience rejection as when we experience physical pain. That’s why even small rejections hurt more than we think they should, because they elicit literal (albeit, emotional) pain.” – Guy Winch

Makes sense right?! Sure.

What still puzzles me though is the question of what causes one particular rejection to feel more or less earth shattering than another?

Law of attraction would answer, that the further out of alignment your thoughts are with that of well being the worse you feel about the catalyst of those feelings. So, if our thoughts determine our emotions than everything is self fulfilling…

That’s heavy and it kinda sucks in a way.  That would mean that we hold ALL responsibility for the way we feel.

But it doesn’t have to suck. It just depends on how you look at it.

Through the filters of modern society, we tend to feel helpless. We are conditioned to rely on others for validation.

Think about it.

We are brought into this world codependent & helpless and continue through life seeking the approval from those around us.

No wonder we struggle. We are, as Abraham would say, “looking for love in all the wrong places”.

The power we seek is not in the love we receive from others, but rather in the love we have for ourselves.

But how does this help to answer the question of what causes one particular rejection to feel more or less earth shattering than another?

Fear.

I think Don Miguel Ruiz explains it best in the excerpt below from The Four Agreements.

“Every human has an emotional body completely covered with infected wounds…The mind is so wounded and full of poison by the process of domestication, that everyone describes the wounded mind as normal. This is considered normal, but I can tell you it is not normal.

We have a dysfunctional dream of the planet, and humans are mentally sick with a disease called fear. The symptoms of the disease are all the emotions that make humans suffer: anger, hate, sadness, envy, and betrayal. When the fear is too great, the reasoning mind begins to fail, and we call this mental illness. Psychotic behavior occurs when the mind is so frightened and the wounds so painful, that it seems better to break contact with the outside world.

If we can see our state of mind as a disease, we find there is a cure. We don’t have to suffer any longer. First we need the truth to open the emotional wounds, take the poison out, and heal the wounds completely. How do we do this? We must forgive those we feel have wronged us, not because they deserve to be forgiven, but because we love ourselves so much we don’t want to keep paying for injustice.

Forgiveness is the only way to heal.”

It sounds logical and simple enough, but I think we can all agree it’s not.

I would love to tell you that I have mastered the art of forgiveness, conquered my fears and cured my diseased mind, but that would be a big fat lie.

What I can tell you is that I know what it is like to feel alone, helpless and out of control; to constantly be reaching for a peace that never comes. I fight with my thoughts daily and sometimes it feels as though that inner voice is not my own.

In moments of great weakness, I begin to listen to that voice, that poison, dripping slowly from my open wounds. Reminding me of how I always end up this way; disregarded and alone.

The darkness becomes warm and familiar in the face of yet another failed attempt at happiness.

Not too long ago in fact, I took a little stroll down memory lane and found myself in the darkness.

After the most recent prospect of love crashed and burned, I was left feeling hopeless. I was exhausted of letting people in and being let down, of always being the one reaching for another, when no one ever seemed to be reaching for me.

And I couldn’t understand why this one hurt so much more than the one before. Especially because it was casual, no empty promises or deep confessions of love like with the one just before.

Perhaps it was the abrupt ending or the strong foundation of trust and communication it was built on that contributed to the gravity of it all.

Alone in the dark, I replayed the memories of our time together, looking for something I did that caused him to change his mind. Was it something I said, the way I looked, how I dressed…?!

I drove myself crazy trying to figure out what was wrong with me and why everyone found it so easy to walk away. Why didn’t I matter?

After some painful soul searching and ugly crying, I found myself numb.

It was just for a moment, but it was enough of a relief to allow a wave of sanity to roll through my head.

I had just purchased another copy of Ruiz’s, The Four Agreements and in that moment the cover of the book flashed in my mind.

Flipping through it, I found the excerpt above (can you guess what inspired this post?).

I realized that these current feelings of abandonment, neglect and disappointment go back much further than this most recent rejection. And I believe now that it was the level of connection with this person that triggered the opening of old wounds. I have only had that type of connection with one other person in my life and they left too.

This was the first time, I felt like I could fully trust someone again after all that time.

With the last person I fell for, I was always on guard. I never fully let him in. When it ended, it hurt, but not like this. Not like every muscle in my body was twisted up in knots.

This time, I allowed myself to be vulnerable and got completely caught up in the excitement of the moment. It all felt easy and fun, no pressure or obligations, just pure enjoyment in being close to one another.

When everything came to a crashing halt, so did I.

But that’s how we learn right?!

“First we need the truth to open the emotional wounds, take the poison out, and heal the wounds completely.”

It’s funny  how we convince ourselves that sparing someones feelings as best you can in love and war is better than a clear cut rejection like, “I’m sorry, I just don’t feel the same way.”

Sure, the knife goes in a bit deeper, but it twists less and after all isn’t that what prolongs the torture and agony of a broken heart?

For example, years ago, a guy told me he really cared for me but that he didn’t want to do the whole relationship thing. He has had two girlfriends since then, one of which he is currently dating. I kept hanging on to the idea of us, thinking that someday the timing would be right and it would all work out.

I don’t fault him for it, it is hard to look someone in the eyes and tell them you don’t love them. It’s like leaving behind a stray dog or telling a kid their parakeet died…not a pleasant experience.

Would it have been nice to know months earlier that he just wasn’t that into me, sure, but I learned a great deal about myself in the process and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

Seems like so long ago now, I remember there was a time I thought I would never get over him and now he is just someone I used to know.

When we are feeling broken, we have a tendency to cling to the smallest shred of hope that someday everything will work out…

Here is where the hard truth comes in.

In most cases, someday never comes.  Trust me.

It is best to be honest with others and yourself in times such as these.

Clinging to the past, clouds your judgement, hinders your growth, and more importantly, prevents you from moving forward.

Embrace the chaos of opening old wounds. You have to remove the poison before they can fully heal.

“How do we do this?

We must forgive those we feel have wronged us, not because they deserve to be forgiven, but because we love ourselves so much we don’t want to keep paying for injustice.

Forgiveness is the only way to heal.”

 

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You Matter

There are only a handful of people in my life that I have truly opened up to. And if you are one of those people, you know how hard that is for me to do.

The two things that hurt me the most are being lied to and being disregarded/dismissed. More so, when the build up of false hope and greatness proceeds being left behind.

From a very young age, I was made to feel as though I didn’t matter, I wasn’t important, to the one person who held my whole world in their hands. She walked away from me as if I never meant anything to her and as a result, I find it extremely hard to believe that I really could matter to anyone the way they matter to me.

I am not saying that is true, in fact I know  in my mind that it is not, but my heart is another story.

With every new friendship/relationship, I am constantly on guard. Waiting for the day they decide to walk away or hurt me in some way. For anyone who understands the law of attraction, you can clearly see how I am bringing this all on myself.

There in itself lies the challenge.

There is this emptiness, this worry, in my mind that never seems to go away. There is this constant state of fear that resides in the pit of my stomach. And with every failed friendship/relationship it grows larger.

And it is not so much an issue of self esteem or confidence, although I am sure many would argue as such. I know I am a person of value. I am aware of all my good (and bad) qualities and I am proud of the person I am today. So I can assure you there is something different at play here.

It is instead and inability to trust that the intentions of others are honorable.

And I am not talking about trust as in cheating, I have never really been the jealous kind and besides I am not just talking about relationships, I am talking about friendships too.

In the time I have been on this earth, I have encountered so many people who claimed to care for me dearly. Those who promised they would always be there and most of them are not here today. And many I would find out later were not the people I thought they were to begin with.

Two great examples can be found here.

Situations like these have arisen over and over again. It is a wonder I can still find the courage to open up at all.

I guess maybe somewhere down deep inside, hidden behind the emptiness in my heart is a hope for something more from this life and the people I share it with. A hope that drives the courage to face another day.

Perhaps it is what gives me the strength to keep moving forward, when all I want to do is run away and hide from a world that has proved to be so cruel.

One that dangles happiness on a string only to pull it away just before you grasp it.

Eventually, there comes a day, much like today, when frustration & exhaustion drive you to anger. And for me anger has always been the path to moving forward.

For in anger, there are no feelings of unworthiness, but rather that of animosity; resentment from ever being made to feel that way in the first place.

 

For those of you that have stuck around for all these years, stayed true to your word and accepted me unconditionally, thank you is simply not enough.

If it was not for you, I would hold no hope for the hearts of men.

Truth would seem like a fairy tale and love…well…I am not sure I’d know what that was.

And for those of you who have left me on the shelf, assuming that I would always be there…how foolish of you. I hold no desire to be part of your collection, nor will I tell you when I decide to walk away, but I assure you, I will.

In the end it is your loss I suppose, but I wonder if there will ever be a day when you hold remorse for the damage you inflicted on an already wounded heart.

A heart that was meant to be treasured, but instead, was treated like just a random acquaintance or notch in your belt.

This life is too short for any of us to spend our time wasted on those who do not see our worth.

Actions speak louder than words and words are not actions…pretty sure someone famous said that! 🙂

We tend to get caught up in the declarations & promises of others, but those are just words and if not followed up with actions then they literally mean nothing.

And with every disappointment lies a lesson, usually one of personal growth. Therefore, there is no other direction but forward and sometimes the only way forward is through forgiveness and reflection.

Both of which are not always easy, but they are necessary in order to begin telling a new story!

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

 

Gratitude For Love Lost

Have you ever wondered what your life would be like now if you had changed just one major life altering decision? Paths that would no longer cross and the new ones that would.

Would you still have met the same people by some divine intervention or do we truly design our own destiny? Who would you know, who would you be, what kind of life would you have now?

I can remember so many times in my life when I was caught in a whirlwind of struggles. In the midst of it all I was convinced I knew what I wanted, what I needed.  I had this perfect idea of what would make me truly happy, what I thought was surely meant to be. And basically in every case I was wrong. Not getting what I wanted turned out to be the best thing for me every time.

I look back on those moments now and I am very thankful I was wrong!

My first steady relationship is a wonderful example of that. I was a freshman and he was a junior. I couldn’t give you a reason now, but for one or another, I fell for him very fast. I am not so sure it wasn’t a classic example of transference. My mother had just abandoned me and here was this person showing me love and affection. Did I really fall for him or was I just filling the void?

Either way, in the moment, I was just that, in the moment. Completely caught up in this forever love that when it ended just a few months later, I was devastated. I pleaded with the heavens to bring him back to me and by the time they finally did, the spark was gone. Sure, we had chemistry based on our history together and our friendship over the years that followed, but that crazy love feeling that was there in the beginning was just gone one day. I can’t really explain it other than to say that it was as if a veil had been lifted. Not that this was a bad thing. Completely the opposite actually. You see, when this happened, I began to understand that things are not always what they seem and more importantly that I didn’t always know what was best for me.

Now I am not saying I completely learned my lesson after that either…lol

In fact much to the contrary. Sometimes we have to repeat a process over and over before we truly understand the meaning of it. And that is exactly what I did in my early dating years. It wasn’t until a few years ago when I took a step back to reevaluate my life and reconnect with myself that I finally noticed a pattern and began exploring its roots.

I have spent relationship after relationship working so hard to please the other person that I completely put my own personality aside. So much so that I completely lost touch with who I really was and what I really wanted in this life. Over and over again, I created this grand illusion of a love that would last forever. And time and time again I was wrong.

When I was a teenager, I thought my life would never be complete until I ended up with my first love and then the love after that and the love after that, and…well you get the point. I was convinced I knew what I wanted, who I wanted and how I wanted us to live.

Looking back on this time in my life is very strange for me. I am so far removed from who I was then that it is almost hard to comprehend that I was ever that way. It is amazing how much one can learn from a heart break even 20 years later. Sometimes those that hurt us the most can also be our best teachers.

I learned another great lesson in love from one of my closest friends in the years after high-school. He was my person. I trusted him with all my heart. I never had a doubt that he truly cared for me. I, along with many others swore we were destined to be together, but we could never seem to get together. We came very close once, but I ended up meeting someone else and moved half way across the country with him (that’s a story for another day). He showed his true colors many years later when I moved home and fell right back in to the swing of the olden days. I won’t tell you the story now, but if you are interested, you can find it here  🙂

It took many years for me to realize that the reason the timing was always off was simply because it was not meant to be. Knowing what I know now about myself, I know I would have never truly been happy with him nor him with me. I was in love with the idea of us at the time, but the us of today just wouldn’t work and imagine all I would have missed out on had I taken that road. It is situations such as these, that I can’t help but believe there was a greater force keeping us apart. Something saving us from ourselves.

Besides, I would have been no good for anyone back then. I had no idea who I really was. It took losing myself over and over again to finally find the real me. I no longer need someone else’s love and affection to give me purpose anymore and it is so freeing.

I have so much love for my previous objects of affection because if it had not been for them and our failed attempts at love, I may still be lost.

Someplace I know I will never be again!