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?

 

 

Blinded by Hope

Oh what a fool…

Those who give their hearts to another.

The sweet taste of deception on their breath.

A child I was

In those all too gracious hands.

A beautiful love

Struck down in its prime by fear

Never to know it’s true potential

It’s power

It’s magnificence.

Drained 

Battered

And bruised.

Not by its failure.

But rather

A baracade of bruises 

Broken hearts

And all together

Awful things.

A fight for love 

Is not a path for the weak

The weary

Or the insecure.

It is a dual for the chosen

A proud moment in time.

One where love conquers all

And all fear is shattered.

It is a love worth fighting for

A future worth the risk.

A battle for the determined

The diligent

The true.

Great love 

Does not stem from the willing

The easy

The meek.

It blooms from the weary

The forgotten

The wronged.

For only they 

Know the true value 

In all they have yet to love.

My Golden Buzzer

I noticed something about myself recently. A confirmation that I have made great strides on this journey of reconnecting with myself and others.

I would like to share my experience in the hopes that it may be helpful to anyone who has ever felt lost.

What I noticed was that I have been able to consistently be at peace with where I am in any given moment. I allow myself to feel, but then to let go. I have found a love for myself that is nurturing and safe. Alleviating the need to constantly search for it in something or someone else. In times of sorrow, I reflect. In times of anger, I reflect.

And in times of joy and peace, I savor.

It has allowed me to fill my mind with appreciation. Appreciation that holds me together during times of hurt and disappointment. Appreciation that helps me grow in those moments of reflection.

It brings me to a peaceful state of gratitude. Where I stand strong and ready to move forward.

As a result, I have found that people’s opinions no longer carry such a hefty weight. Sure I value them and take them to heart, but in the end any decision I make will be mine alone.

Instead of spending all day on the phone asking people what I should do about something, I ask a few in my inner circle for their thoughts, ponder them for a while and then when the time is right I go with the decision that best resonates with me.

It may sound like a simple, normal process to some, but for me it was not. I would over think every situation I was faced with. However big or small, I would over think it to death. Which meant I was always thinking about the fact that I had to make a decision about it and all the possible outcomes. I am pretty sure that is what they mean by driving oneself insane. I was on my way to crazy town thinking like that. Where is the joy in any of those moments?

That was the problem. After years and years of winding myself up into a state of exhaustion, I had slowly pushed away all my joy, all my peace of mind. I didn’t know what was genuine anymore. I was physically present, but never really there. It is what eventually caused me to up root everything and move to Colorado.

It has been two years now and when I look back on that time, that person, well I don’t know if I could even begin to explain it to you.

Becoming aware of such a powerful shift in my consciousness was much like the Golden Buzzer on America’s Got Talent…haha (click here if you don’t know what I am talking about)

The scene goes in slow motion as you see the joy rise up in them as the confetti covers their face. Its that gasp for breath as they try to comprehend the gravity of what has just happened. All their hard work and dedication has lead up to that moment and in a split second their lives are changed.

Only this time its my Golden Buzzer…its my hard work and dedication that is changing my life, changing me for the better. 🙂

Not very long ago I wrote to you about a challenge I had given myself after reading The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. I decided to tackle the most challenging of the four: Don’t Take Things Personally.

For along time this had been a major struggle in my life. Much to the point where it was turning me in to a recluse. My mind was always distracted from the moment at hand, thinking about what others may think of me, needing their approval. It made me so uncomfortable that I just stopped socializing.

I remember one day in reconnecting with my uncle after many years, he made an observation that finally made me aware of the shift in myself that had taken place in my life (some time in college I’m guessing).

We were talking and I made the comment that I didn’t go out much because I wasn’t a social butterfly.

“What?! You have always been super social, what are you talking about?”

I was flooded with emotion. It was like this switch finally turned on a light inside of me that had been dormant for years. He was absolutely right. Back when we lived together (just after I graduated high-school) I was always out socializing. And I remember being pretty fearless. I was who I was and although I would adhere to social graces and common courtesy, I didn’t really care that much about your opinion of me.

Having social anxiety was just the story that I had been telling myself over and over again for years. So long that there was no doubt in my mind that it was true. But it wasn’t true.

For me, the cure for my anxiety was merely mastering a way to find peace in any circumstance no matter how uncomfortable. Surrendering to what is without losing sight of what is yet to come.

When I learned to appreciate the excitement of life’s challenges, I was able to be grateful for the experience. Because all those challenges and experiences are what makes me who I am.

And that is exactly what was missing. For all these years, that something I had been searching for was me.