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.

A Little Bit Brighter

There have been a few times in my life when I have examined myself and realized that I felt a little lost. It was that kind of feeling where if someone had asked me to describe myself, I wasn’t really sure how I would respond. I am sure that this is something that is totally normal. After all, we all go through various stages in life, we spend time growing and changing and adapting to the world. I think it is in those uncertain times when we really do our growing, when we find the person that we are, or will become. We choose that direction at the fork in the road, and the conditions of those paths shape us. But there are times when life just happens to us, and the fork in the road is blocked by a wall making no easily accessible path. For the last few years I have been at that wall; sometimes sitting there pondering it, sometimes beating my head against it, celebrating at it, living by it, curled up in a ball next to it, hiding from it, ignoring it… in general, just stuck. Stuck is a scary, dark place to be.

So much of my thirty-two years have made sense to me. It seemed that in spite of the trauma I had endured, or bad experiences I had encountered, I always had that disposition which allowed me to see the glass as half full. It wouldn’t matter who you asked and about which age, I was consistently described as a kind person who could see the best in anyone. Kind became who I was, and who I wanted to be. I set my goals by this, and dreamed about making a difference in the world.

Nothing would break this resolve for almost thirty years. Not the sexual abuse I suffered at nine, or the silencing I experienced from not being heard; not the pain from 3 years later when I was heard and had to endure the process of seeing someone convicted; not the mental torment of being an abuse victim; not the failed marriage at the end of college; not the crappy self-punishing relationships that would follow… I was unbreakable. I forgave people who didn’t ask for forgiveness, who never even admitted to me that they had done wrong. I looked at things from other peoples’ points of views to explain their behaviors, I felt for them and excused them. Little did I know that this process was less of a kindness and more of a coping mechanism. That’s not to say that empathizing with people and attempting the understanding of another person is not okay or right, but just that the deep need I had to do this in particular was a way for me to cope with the things that had happened to me, and the way I was treated by some people. I felt indestructible, and if anything, my experiences empowered me to want to go forward and find a way to do good in the world. To be good in the world, for the world.

And then I hit that wall. I cannot tell you the exact moment that I hit the wall and began to crack. One day the world began to feel way too big, and the troubles of the world began to sit directly on my shoulders. I stopped feeling like I deserved to have anything good in my life because there were others in the world who had nothing or less than nothing. I felt like what is the point of doing anything when how could a microscopic spec possibly make a real difference? This didn’t necessarily stop me from being kind, or finding empathy for others, but I began to lose sight of a purpose in the world, and I started seeing the scales of good and bad people tip out of balance. For a person that lived so long wearing rose colored glasses this was very overwhelming and confusing. Outwardly I remained the same as I always had been, but inside I struggled with the feelings that it just didn’t matter.

Having a very rough pregnancy which ended in a truly traumatic birth really did me in. As a lot of people know, eclampsia ended my pregnancy 11 weeks early, and my beautiful boy was born at 29 weeks. I woke up in the hospital no longer pregnant, and my baby had been taken to another hospital. It would be about 5 days before I would be released to go and meet him. I was in so much pain but I pushed through it Because my sole purpose became helping him thrive. Oh he was so sick, what a tiny 2 lb baby hooked up to monitors and a machine breathing for him. I couldn’t hold him much, and there were times when my holding him was actually bad for him. I had to learn what to do if his sats dropped and he turned blue. And once or twice he did turn blue…in my arms. During this time I was 1400 miles away from home and lived in a Ronald McDonald House. This is a very condensed version of events. My mom flew up and drove me home 68 days after he was born. We came home with an oxygen generator and medications. We spent 4 days in the car stopping every 2 hours to get him out of the car and sleeping in hotels where every 3 hours I had to feed/pump and administer medications. Two times his oxygen machine ran out of battery and it was almost catastrophic and when we finally made it home it became one specialist after another for months. I saw a crisis in everything, I was scared of my own shadow. The wall grew even larger. I felt strong for him, but I was more broken than ever. I wanted to be the person that I used to be, but that person was shattered and damaged beyond recognition. I tried to live the same way, but I was just a shell.

It’s cliche to say that love lifted me, but it did. The love of my son, eventually of my daughters, and of a woman who saw through the shell and reached in and began dusting off the broken pieces, these things began healing me. This didn’t happen all at once, and has not always been a pleasant experience. At times I’ve felt that there wasn’t any hope, I was broken beyond repair and I was going to just have to learn to live with this new version of myself. But little by little pieces of the old me, my true self began to slip through, fighting with the parts of me that felt the weight of the world, that saw a crisis in every move, who wanted to hide from it all. I’m not saying I could never have achieved this on my own, but I could not move forward with these journals without giving credit where credit is due, and credit is due to the woman who helped me glue myself back together and reminded me who I am inside.

If it weren’t for her I never would have had the courage to open up these wounds so that they could heal. I would have continued piling on patches and telling myself everything was cool. Maybe writing about all of this in a public forum is self-indulgent, I don’t know. I could just go to therapy or write it down in private, but I think that for me, opening myself up to be vulnerable has been crucial. The first two blog posts felt difficult, painful, but necessary. After publishing the second one I felt a odd sense of peace that I couldn’t explain, like I knew I was going to get better. It’s a relief from a pressure you didn’t realize you had until the pressure begins to wane. The figurative wounds were opened and the draining has begun making room for the literal healing to happen.

I am standing at this wall at the fork in the road, but the wall has begun to weaken, there are spots where I can see to the other side. Finally, I am beginning to break through.

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.