Beginning at the End -and- Healing Well in the Age of Positive Thinking

A word:

This is not the first time I’ve decided to try and start a blog. Many times I’ve wanted to put myself out there before I even knew what I had to say, and I can tell you that is probably the reason that almost none of those blogs saw the light of day, or lived beyond the first post.

The idea for this new blog started as something else entirely, and has been tumbling around in my head for a little while. As it has developed I have begun to really believe that it could be something important for me to do. Possibly in service to others, but definitely in service to myself. This is a journey of self-discovery. A journey of healing from the beginning to the end. A journey of learning to truly forgive, let go, and move forward. A journey that I hope will inspire others, but if the only person inspired is myself, I will feel the success. I have a tendency to overthink and over analyze what needs to happen and how it should progress, but this is something that came to me organically, so I am just going to go where my mind takes me. And although the beginning may feel heavy, a risky place to start, it feels like the right place. I can’t say where things with this blog will travel, or end up, but where it needs to begin is here, at the end.

And with that intro, I give you my first post:

Healing Well in the Age of Positive Thinking

What you think is what will be. Think positively and you will have good things. Negative thoughts bring a negative life. You are what you believe… sound familiar?

We are deep in the age of social media gurus; and a lot of those people tout the same message, it spreads like wildfire across your timeline. Think positively. Don’t be negative. Now, before you get the wrong idea, let me say that these messages in and of themselves are not inherently bad; there’s absolutely nothing wrong with thinking positively. But the spread of the positive living message has led to the way of thinking that people who do not remain positive at all times, about every situation, are bad, or should not deserve our pity because if they would just be positive, then they would not be in that situation. We tend to turn away from them, when the very negative things they may think or say are the cry for help that should be bringing us closer into them. We tell them to just think positively, everything will work out. But there are times when things don’t work out, and on top of the frustrations of that happening, they begin to feel ashamed that they can’t just think positively about it. Furthermore, there are scars from the past that keep some people from being about to feel positive. Scars that sometimes don’t reveal themselves until something obscure happens. In these times they may begin to feel powerless to “fix” their minds and heal, because the thing that everyone says, “think positively,” is not working for them. The message of positive thinking has its merits, but there are times when that is not the all curing answer. (This is not to even begin to broach the subjects of children born with illness, unborn babies, people getting a cancer diagnoses, etc. That is a whole other branch of this topic, which I may find a loop around to at a later date.)

Bad things happen to people. I guarantee someone you know, and probably think you know well, has a story. A big, hidden story. They have tried to patch themselves up the best they can, they have tried to go with the mantra of thinking positively, everything happens for a reason, and the temporary patch works. Temporarily. Life goes along and more things happen, cracking those patches, and then more patches are layered over again and again until one day, there is no patch that can contain the things that have been covered up, they must be dealt with. Now these eruptions do not always open up and exclaim, “here I am, the trauma you endured 20 years ago that you covered up, I’m here, deal with me!” When they erupt it’s more like in the form of something small hurting us and causing us to feel unrelated emotions. We project what we should have felt then, on the situation in front of us now. And to the naked eye, it’s easy to believe, well if we just think positively or be positive about it, it will be okay. However now we are confronting these negative emotions that we don’t understand where they came from, and the fact that thinking positively is just not working for us. It becomes to much to bear.

I’ll close today by saying that I don’t discount the idea of the power of positive thinking altogether. There are indeed times when positive thinking plays a significant role in an outcome. I am just against the notion that it is the cure all. I plan to spend some time in this forum, opening up about personal traumas that have followed me through to adulthood and the things that have caused me to not be able to heal properly. It is my hope that these open journals will help me to heal and move forward, while also encouraging thought, discussion and possibly healing in others. About this endeavor I will think positively.

Stepping Out

It is super scary to step out of hiding. I picture myself standing just inside a cave, where the light is seeping in. Freedom is just on the other side, and nothing is stopping me from leaving, except for myself.

Wave after wave of “what if’s” come crashing into the opening of the cave and I close my eyes and hold my breath. Dozens of ideas come through me, and I file them away in a folder in my phone list, no good. Already having made myself vulnerable in my previous posts, I realize that now it’s time to make that leap, find my focus…but fear holds me down. It keeps me inside where it’s safe.

Fear is supposed to make us grow, but the only way it succeeds in doing so, is if we face it. How can I ask my children to be brave and do difficult things when I cower and let fear hold me back from some of the simplest of tasks.

Fear has kept me from publicly sharing a photo of me and the person I hold most dearly.

Our relationship, our identities, the family we’ve built, the values we hold; these are all things for which I am so thankful and proud. My wife and I rarely get pictures together aside from a selfie, and we haven’t yet had that dreamy couple photog session. My mom snapped this picture of us and it just captured the pure happiness and love that any couple would love to rush to Facebook and gush over. Before I could even figure out the perfect words to go along with it for a post, I deleted it. Before I even hit publish I already had critics and disapproving voices in my head. This is the same thing that happens every time I begin to see a plan come into focus for this blog. I know what I want to say but I’m scared.

Two things are being accomplished here.

First, I’m publishing this totally gorgeous picture of us because, I love it. And because worrying about the what if’s really scare me, but I gotta dip my toe in the water sometime. My first step out of my comfortable cave is to put up this photo.

Second, I’m ready to make the leap. Topics will vary but be based around my little large family, and can include many things ranging all the way from recipes and paint projects to parenting advice, being gay (cause that’s what I am 🤷🏻‍♀️), and everything in between.

This is me, one step closer to freedom.

Kindness Over Everything

I gave up on making New Years resolutions years ago.

Instead I spend the whole year setting intentions and changing and growing, or staying the same as much as I can. But the one mantra I want to embrace from here on out is:

Kindness over everything.

I used to apologize for taking up space.

I said I’m sorry. A lot. Just ask my bff Terrea. At one point she lovingly offered to smack me every time I said it, but was afraid I might bruise. To be fair, I also tried to make it my resolution to not say it so much, and she was trying to help.

My point is, my entire life I felt like I was in the way. Insignificant, unneeded, inadequate. If I had something to say, no one ever heard it. I was a wallflower. Very few people saw me, really saw me.

I have apologized to poles for accidentally bumping them, people.

Sorry to bother you. Sorry, I need something. Sorry I’m sick. Sorry I exist.

They don’t want to hear what you have to say. You don’t have what it takes to keep up a conversation. What you have to say is irrelevant. You don’t know anything.

Why was I like this? I don’t know. But one thing I do know is that somewhere along the way my self esteem got knocked way the heck deep down low. I didn’t understand why people believed in me. I was a fraud. Somehow I had stumbled through life up until this point, and it was all by accident. That’s what my brain was telling me anyway.

But there have been people in my journey through life that have seen me. Truly seen me. The number is few, but their impact on me is immeasurable. They are the people who have told me what they see in me. Things I couldn’t believe at the time. But they did. It’s true what they say about happiness being an inside job. But the inside job is just the final step. It doesn’t have to be a lonely journey. I might not be in the place I am now without the love of a friend. A family member. An acquaintance of a friend who became like family. People who have come into my life and shown me that I was in a chrysalis. They held up a mirror and showed me the wings they saw folded up inside.

What I’m trying to say, if you have stuck with me this far, is that we all possess a power. Will we use it to help, or…? It’s not hard. It can be spelled out in one word: kindness. And it can be something as small as telling someone the goodness you see inside of them. Tell someone when they have done something that makes you smile. Love. Simple kindness goes a long way. Some of you will never know the stitches you put in my heart. But they hold, strong as ever. And I treasure your time. I pledge to be kind. To use my voice, which wants to be heard, to spread kindness and to show love, and to let people know when I see something in them.

Share your ideas for ways to spread kindness.

Drift With the Wind

As the new year, and new decade begin to break open, so do the feelings of new possibilities.

There’s something refreshing about a new beginning. You feel hopeful, and I’m certainly no exception to this; although it’s been a while since I’ve had the feeling. There was a time when I thought my dreaming days were over. A while back I decided to start this blog, I needed to, even with no clear direction for it.

I could just make out the shape of the thing, but it wasn’t quite in focus yet… and it became a journey of putting some very real and scary pieces of myself out there in the open where I had no choice but to deal with them. Those parts of me which were unhealed, they were stopping me from moving forward and the only person who could clear this hurdle was me.

And I’m here to say that I did the work. It was scary, but it was worth it. Those parts of me are not gone. I wear the scars as badges. But I’m ready to move onward up the mountain free from the burdens.

So full circle, I come to find that the vision is becoming clearer. And I hope that you’ll stick with me here to see this vision become clear to you.

The Feather’s Edge.

There was a woman in my life who, to this day, although she is now an angel, teaches me life lessons. I’m sure in a future post I will love to tell you more about her. But for now I’ll keep it short…She used to tell me that her father said when you saw a white feather it meant that someone soon would pass away, or that someone’s spirit was visiting you. Now when I see a white feather I feel like it’s her. And one of the biggest lessons she taught me was that you never know what can happen, you’re always on the edge of the feather… life can blow you in any direction, at any time.

I’m ready to drift with the wind.

How do you find your worth when you don’t trust the appraisals?

It’s after midnight and I’m lying here, tossing and turning and mulling over the day. Words exchanged and charged emotions that left me feeling vulnerable, and scared. For hours my brain has non stop been looking for a solution, scanning the situation for the right answers, how to change, how to be better. But something new happened this time, I stopped to ask myself why this was still lingering and taking up so much of my peace? This situation passed and things were still okay afterwards. It was just a bump in the road, and we survived. I was looking for a solution to a situation which had already been resolved, punishing myself for something that wasn’t even happening.

This cycle of anxiety seems foreign to some people and yet to many of us this is the reality of our lives. It leaves us feeling broken and scared a lot of the time and worried that we can’t measure up. We feel like we have no value. How did we get here? How did we get to the point where we feel that our worth is so low that we can’t possibly ever have an opinion, have an argument, disagree with something, etc.? There are many different paths that have led us here, each one unique in our understanding of how we have sunk so low in our opinion of ourselves. I’m ready to begin my re-evaluation. It’s not as simple as it sounds, but I’m ready to work on it.

You may have a friend, or even a spouse who needs constant reassurance of their worth to you. Now, some of them may just be a bit narcissistic, but some of us genuinely have a hard time believing that we are worthy of love. Not living in our heads, you might say that is crazy, how can you feel that way? Lots of reasons, but that’s for other posts. Lying here, with my after midnight musings.. I thought, what if I just trusted the appraiser? What if I took stock in what they told me and tried to believe it? What if I decided that it’s okay to disagree sometimes AND still sleep peacefully at night? Because it really is okay. Because I’m a person of value… and I’ll keep saying it to myself until I believe it.

Make Your Peace and Own It Too

Forgive and forget, what a complicated idea. Should we really forget things that should be a lesson to us, what if we forget and the action is repeated? How can we forgive when so many times our transgressors don’t see what they’ve done, and more often we choose to stay silent rather than to let them know what they have done. Like I said, it’s complicated.

Who is it really hurting when you’re holding a grudge, especially if you choose not to confront someone whom you feel has wronged you? Of course, the ideal way to handle it is to talk to the person, but we rarely do. And what happens is they either think they’ve gotten by with whatever happened without you realizing what happened; or they have gone so long without you approaching them that they have long forgotten and/or hope you have; or in some instances they genuinely do not realize they’ve done anything wrong. Now, I’m not telling you that the best thing to do is to never speak your piece, and there are absolutely instances where no forgiveness is justified. This is not about those times. This is about the times when forgiving can heal you. When forgetting doesn’t necessarily mean forgetting the action, but letting go of the hold it has on you, moving on from holding it against the person.

Forgiveness for people who don’t ask for it, or realize they need it is not for them, it is for you. We might be able to find a reason in our minds why they may have acted the way they did, but not always… but we can set the intention to forgive anyway. You may be asking yourself why you’d do this? I don’t know about you, but I cannot hold on to a hot poker too long. Swallowing poison does nothing to your enemy.

When we find it difficult to let go of something, and we aren’t willing to do anything about it, the time comes to ask ourselves why we are letting it have power over us and take up space in our lives. That’s something a great friend asked me recently when I showed my heart in a vulnerable moment. It was a question that freed me. It was when I began to unravel and started this journey. I thought the answer was to confront the situation, but then I asked myself if I wanted to relive the terrible feelings and deal with the consequences of the conflict that would bring me. And letting it go may not have been the number one right answer, but it is the one I chose. And it made me feel better.

The tricky part is when other people want to remind you of the thing. This is where the owning your peace comes in… it is okay to tell people that you have forgiven, that you have let go, and moved forward. Let them know that your peace won’t allow you to go backwards, because the forgetting part isn’t necessarily that you’ve written it out of your mind, but that you’re putting it behind you. It will not stay behind you if you allow it to stay in your conversations or if you’re bringing it up as a character testimony. You can make the choice to continue letting something hold a power over you and take up space in your life, or you can choose to leave it in your past, take away its power, and make room for the new and better things in your life.

Everything is an Illusion -and- A Beginning For Me

I can’t tell you exactly why putting my words out there just feels like the right thing to do these days. What I can tell you is that there have been days when I felt so isolated and alone in my feelings, and I came across a friend who shared just a glimpse of their pain, of their understanding, of their growth, and without them even knowing, it let me see that I was not alone. There is hope. You see we are told all the time to just be strong, just go on, just look on the bright side, that we are afraid to let people see what might be conceived as a weakness. So we begin the toxic practice of burying our feelings, of not letting anything perceived as negative or hurt come through. We are afraid that people will turn away from us and they do, they absolutely do. Because seeing a “weakness” in someone else makes us afraid there might be a weakness in us… or even worse it angers us because we know that we are supposed to hide that weakness, we can’t show others we are not happy and cheerful and strong at all times.

It’s these perceptions and social parameters we place on each other that lead so many to become even more broken. What if everyone could see into our hearts? Could see that just because you have a season of hard times it doesn’t make you weak… what if we could help each other understand that during those seasons we didn’t just plow through and persevere… but that we persevered because we felt those things and we handled them and we grew from them, and the handling and growth is what led us to be strong? So many times, especially in the age of social media, we see the things that people are going through, but it is through very filtered lenses. We think wow, look what they have battled and they are smiling all the while!! Why can’t I be so strong? What is wrong with me? My problems seem like nothing in comparison. We don’t stop and think that before the smiles there was pain that had to be vanquished. We forget that they are human. We forget that we are too.

It’s time for us to realize that most of the things we see out there are illusions, smoke and mirrors. One of my favorite quotes is from Teddy Roosevelt, “Comparison is the thief of joy,” and it resonates because it is so true. Comparing what we have inside of us to what we see out there in the world is so harmful because just like the pain we are hiding, we have no idea what is behind the sunny side that others are showing. We don’t know what seasons they went through to get to where they are. We see what people want us to see. We tell ourselves that no one wants to know our pain, and we bury it. We pretend to be shiny happy people like everyone else, and the cycle continues. We hide.

I want to start a project that encourages people to open themselves up to be receptive to someone who might be in silent pain. To check on each other. To say, I’m here if you need to talk. To remind you that you are strong even if you feel weak, you are valued. I want to be a receptacle for people to put their feelings out there. Even if they are a stranger, they can reach out, send an email, remain anonymous if they wish. The concept is still rolling around in here, but I want to put it out there and make it real, even in its tiny baby stage. If this sounds like something you would like to be involved in, please feel free to comment or contact me 💖💖.

I wish you well today.

It’s Okay to Not Be Okay

Look forward, move on, get over it, think positively… these messages cloud our systems. Don’t look weak, don’t let it get you down, you get the picture.

All of these adages have some credibility and in general they can be helpful, but oftentimes they have the potential to also be harmful. I think that in our society we are so focused on being the happiest, the most fulfilled, the strongest, that we forget the most basic and simple truth: We are HUMAN. Sometimes before we tell someone to just be happy, think positively, or to move on, maybe we should let them know it’s okay to not be okay.

For so much of my life I have thought, wow, I am so good at getting through things! I was unbothered. Life was good, I was good, it was all good! Don’t get me wrong, life has been good to me, but the times when it wasn’t, I thought that strength meant not letting it get me down. So I buried it. I didn’t get through it, I didn’t move on from it, I just covered it up and sat on top of it and kept on smiling. But a facade will always crack. It’s not solid, it does not hold up. Years of repressed negativity came creeping up and it made me feel anything but strong. Broken, weak, lost. How could I continue to smile, or flourish, or uplift others when I couldn’t even figure out how to keep myself together? I needed to not be okay. Desperate, I continued trying to replace the parts, patch up the facade, plaster a smile over the pain. Some days I didn’t want to get out of bed, leave the house, look in the mirror. Guilt and misery crept in because I could see the things in my current life I had to be thankful for and to be happy about, but I was poisoned by the things left inside of me I had not dealt with. Move forward, smile, be happy… I wanted those things and struggling with my toxic insides made me feel like I would never have them again. I was broken, defeated.

It’s never too late. I thought that if something happened 20 years, or even 5 years ago I should be able to just toss it aside and move on, I didn’t have the right to let it affect me so. This was just another unrealistic and unfair burden I had placed upon myself. One by one I began to face up to the darknesses that lived inside of me. Sounds easy, but it wasn’t, believe me. But I did what I should have done from the very beginning, I let myself process and handle those darknesses, I was not okay and it was okay. And as I processed, I finally began to heal. Then, and only then was I able to begin to manifest light again, to smile again,to move forward and think positively. Before I could move on, I needed to not be okay and I needed to know that it was okay.

Maybe you need to not be okay, and that’s okay. Don’t live with your darkness longer than you have to because the world wants you to think positively and move on. Because trust me, there is only so far you can go when you’re dragging a boulder with you.