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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Inspired Action

In anticipation for the revival, I went back and watched Roseanne from start to finish (Ya, it took a while!). I just watched the last episode.

It was exactly what I needed at the exact moment I needed it.

I forgot how powerful her final monologue was, especially the end.

When it 1st aired, I was barely a teenager, dabbling with the idea of someday becoming a famous writer from a very small town much like, if not exactly the same as, the fictional town of Lanford, IL.

Say what you will about Roseanne, I know it is not everyone’s cup of tea, but this show was a staple in my life. It may not have been as wholesome as Family Matters or Full House, but not everyone’s life was wholesome. Especially not mine.

In the midst of my dysfunction, it was a comfort (although fictional) that not every family was quote on quote normal, but it didn’t matter as long as there was love.

Lately, I have been struggling to find the inspiration to finish the next chapter of my memoir. And then today, I heard this…coincidence? I think not 🙂

Roseanne – Final Monologue – May 20, 1997 (an excerpt)

“…In choosing life I realized that my dreams of being a writer wouldn’t just come true I had to do the work. and as I wrote about my life I relived it and whatever I didn’t like I rearranged. I made a commitment to finish my story, even if I had to write in the basement in the middle of the night while everyone else was asleep.

But the more I wrote the more I understood myself and why I had made the choices I made and that was the real jackpot

I learned that dreams don’t work without action
I learned that no one can stop me but me
I learned that love is stronger than hate

And most important I learned that god does exist and he and/or she is right inside you.
Underneath the pain,
the sorrow,
and the shame.

I think I’ll be a lot better now that this book is done.”

Her last sentence reminded me of how cleansed I felt when I finished Insane Roots. It was like a therapy session of my own making and I think that is why I am struggling so much with the second book.

There are things I experienced during that time that up until now I was not ready to deal with. Pain buried so deep, I had almost forgotten it was there. Or at the very least, grown accustom to its sting.

Revisiting those memories, means the opening of old wounds and breaking down walls it took years to build.

But it also means healing. A necessary process in moving forward. And maybe someday, moving on.

The person you all know today is not the girl in the pages of Insane Roots, nor is she the struggling teenager in the chapters yet to come. She is the woman who survived them.

And I think it’s time to finish her story.

 

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

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!

 

Twice in a Lifetime?

Do you think we have more than one soul mate? I was talking to a friend of mine the other day who so clearly has found hers and she said that if anything ever happens to him that she would have no desire to peruse another love. So I asked her, “Do you think it is possible to have more than one ‘once in a life time love’? Without much thought her answer was no.

I kind of hope she’s wrong!

The older I get the more I wonder if  I will ever get another chance at finding real love. And by real love, I mean knock your socks off, nothing compares to it, completely unconditional love. I was lucky enough to find it once. And sometimes I think that maybe that was it. That he was truly my one and only. If so, that’s okay. Some people never even find that much. I just wish I knew if it was even worth dating anyone any more or if I should just be content in knowing that I’ve had my love story and call it good.

By most people’s standards he wasn’t anything special. He wasn’t rich, he wasn’t successful, he wasn’t gorgeous, but when our eyes met it was abundantly clear that he loved me with all of his heart, just as I was. That is really all I have ever wanted.

Since then, I have attracted a few close fits, a variety of jerks and one that knocked me off my feet, but then just changed his mind   😦

It was after the last that I decided to stop looking. And instead search within myself for completion rather than through someone else.

I have been asked over and over if I worry that I’ll never find someone to share my life with and a few years ago, I would have said yes, but not anymore.

Sure it would be nice to find that kind of love again, but spending all my time worrying about whether I will seems like a sure fire way of causing myself unnecessary stress. Who needs that? Certainly not me!

So that chase is over.

If the right one comes along that’s great, but I’m done searching for him. If it’s meant to be, I’m pretty sure he’ll find me.  I have been blinded by love so many times in the past and I refuse to fall back into those old habits. There is nothing worse than having someone light the flames in your heart and then just walk away.

That is just not fair and it hurts more that if we gave it a try and it just didn’t work out. At least then you know it was because you simply were not compatible rather than having no idea why he changed his mind. Or even more horrible to realize you were just a convenient comfort for him and nothing more.

Yup, I’m done with all of that.

I know I am not perfect, but I am still worth fighting for.

 

Image courtesy of  criminalatt at FreeDigitalPhotos.net