Is How We Relate Healthy?

Fire up the spit, because I’m going to roast myself! No, not literally, but figuratively. Before unleashing the mea culpa, I have some thought-provoking questions for you:

  • Do you have a hard time asking for or receiving help or “handouts?” Yet, do you often “give ’til it hurts?” Do you then feel resentful when you help others and they do not acknowledge your actions “enough” or not at all?
  • Is it hard for you to watch someone else suffer? Or are you a “people pleaser?”
  • Are you someone who hates it when someone is unhappy, especially if it’s with you? Do you continually do things to seek validation and approval? Do you have the “need to feel needed?”
  • Or do you feel that there is something wrong with you, to where you try to “make up for it” by being helpful or of service to others?
  • Do you often feel responsible, at fault, or blame yourself for the behaviors and actions of others?

Personally, I have said “yes” to each and every one of these questions for far, far too long. Yet with learning to love myself, I am saying “no” to more and more of them. Today, I am bringing awareness to myself and hopefully to you, the reader, in what healing codependency looks like from the inside. So let’s dive in!

co·de·pend·en·cy
ˌkōdəˈpendənsē/
noun
  1. excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner, typically a partner who requires support due to an illness or addiction.

Power Plays. Throughout my life, I have sought validation from others based on my actions. While the actions have changed as I have “grown up,” that same nagging need was always there, “others will like me if I _______.” This is the basis for loss of personal power and boundaries. By handing over the keys to self-esteem, it is no longer our own. I would then, unknowingly, seek to balance that power loss by manipulating others to be or feel dependent on me through my incessant giving and being of service.

Then when I didn’t receive the gratitude, or validation I sought from others, I would become resentful. “Look what I did for you,” I would think – sometimes I’ve even said this aloud to my children. EEK! Yet folks, this is how it happens: we learn these patterns, typically, from our parents, then we perpetuate it because it’s what we KNOW!

Eventually I would also “turn the knife on myself” and think things like “I’m just not worthy. S/he just doesn’t like me.”In missing my “fix,” I worked harder. Self-care fell to the wayside and “supporting” the other person would become paramount. Here we have a loss of boundaries.

So in giving, I would often overcompensate. Whether it was my energy, my time, gifts or help, the scale of giving was often heavily tipped in the other person’s favor. To the point that when I would withdrawal my energy, the relationship would seem to quickly dissolve. This then would set me up for more seeking by asking “are they still there?” This can be exhausting: for myself and I’m quite sure for the other person, too… more EEK!

This giving to receive is highly manipulative and is a “slight of hand,” is it not? I did these things because I believed I needed to control others to get the love I needed, because I did not believe that I was worthy of love: straight up (or neat).

It has been through awareness that I have begun to shift these patterns more and more, relying less on others to fill my needs. To get out of the seeking habit, after I recognize the seeking pattern, I turn my attention on myself (it was hard at first, because I had learned to focus on the other person and what they were or were not doing). It is here that I ask myself, “What is it that I feel I need from this person?”

The answer has been: acceptance, validation, love or compassion. I then give that to myself to the fullest extent of my abilities, while I breathe and feel into the void that I’ve been avoiding feeling. When the challenge has seemed too tough, I have asked God or The Universe for assistance.

For me, this has been a healing process won minute-by-minute, day-by-day and at times by degrees. The key to changing has been consistently learning to meet my own internal needs for approval. As such, self-care is also important! (lack of self-care just perpetuates these giving/seeking cycles…ironically and sadly… without self-care we just circle the codependency drain – pun intentional.) Note: Seeking support is different from seeking someone else to fill the voids we are avoiding!  

The shame/blame game is an interesting one. As a codependent, I have believed there was something “wrong with me.” This shame had been a big motivator for seeking someone who could “fill the void.” Ironically, this was usually people who choose to not accept blame themselves. Can you see where this is going? I feel shame, and they seek someone to blame. The other person then never has to take responsibility to change and I get to feel like a martyr; victim-mode activated! This cycle continues to self-perpetuate until someone leaves or changes. Self-love helps to heal the roots of shame, as does speaking out; silence perpetuates shame

So as terrible as this sounds, in being co-dependent, I had learned to “feel good” when I was taking the blame for someone else (and secretly controlling them; a secret I kept even from myself!). Yet relating this way only served to reinforce my shame. This may be the plot twist you’re looking for: enabling the blamer supported me in believing I was “holier than him/her.” OUCH!

This realization that I felt holier than someone else has certainly been something that I completely avoided recognizing about myself! Going a step further: I’m seeing where I may be unintentionally creating codependent children. EEK-cubed! (choking back vomit & tears…) 

Enter the Narcissist/blamer-codependent continuum. After recognizing that I have been teaching my children what I have learned, I see where I have also been the blamer/narcissist! After all, the two are just different sides of the same coin. Both seek power in manipulative and under-handed ways. Both act as victims and thus lack personal responsibility: the narcissist in blaming the codependent, AND after the end of the relationship, the codependent often blames the narcissist for making them a victim.

In the beginning of the relationship, as a codependent, I sought void-filling from the narcissist. Later, the narcissist sought refuge in my ability to accept blame. We’d like to think that there are clear-cut roles. However, it’s very interesting that we can easily find articles written by a codependent, but where are all of the articles written from the narcissist’s viewpoint? Regardless of how we cut it or label ourselves or the “other,” if we are in these relationships we are part of the problem: codependent or not!

In seeing my relationship patterns now, I am further breaking free as this way of living no longer serves me.

Breaking free bears reiteration, the keys are self-love and self-care.  Giving myself more freely of these gifts has increased my awareness, my desire for and motivation for change. Again, when we see the patterns emerging, we must turn a good dose of compassion and love onto ourselves. Remember: Focusing on what the other person is or isn’t doing only keeps us stuck. Compassion and love for ourselves is the way. When in doubt, rinse and repeat. Then do it again!

Finally, holding anger against someone else or ourselves hurts us more than anyone else. Self-forgiveness is often harder to give. Yet, it is in forgiving ourselves that we free ourselves from our own confines. If we had known better, we sure-as-heck would’ve done better. We live what we learned, until we choose differently. Love you, boo! ❤️

April is Alcohol Awareness Month. 

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Namaste

Images: Google

Prayer Circle Request

Prayer is a personal thing for each of us. For me, I both believe in the power of prayer and in force multipliers; the more people praying with the same intention boosts the power of the prayers.

With that in mind, on this day I am writing to ask a prayer. A loved one of mine is needing help and is refusing it. Please pray that this anonymous individual receives the care that is needed, in the best and highest way.

In return, I will pray for each person who replies and requests any prayers. I ask that anyone requesting a prayer also prays for those who are also on the list.

Thank you, in advance. Positive thoughts, I believe, are also a form of prayer and are very welcome in this circle.

May peace be with you and yours.

Namaste

Image: Google

Navigating The Spaces Between (NatPoWriMo)

How confusing it can be

When nothing is as it seems

Traveling along seams

Between what was, what could be,

& what is yet to be…

Navigating the spaces between.

~~

Betwixt

One may feel tricked

Yet it is here

We can choose differently.

Seeds in spring sprout

Some seedlings become great trees

While others give in to rot

~~

Navigating the spaces between

New seeds planted and sprout

What are we watering?

Navigating the spaces between.

Allowing Through Heartache to Let Go

 

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Heartaches make us through breaking us, for in breaking apart the beliefs that we hold dear, we rebuild ourselves in better and better ways. This can be hard to understand when in the midst of heartbreak, for often we hold onto the pain, or we hold onto the good things that we “lost,” that we fail to see the full picture.

While heartbreak is a painful process to go through, there are ways in which we can make it easier for ourselves. Just as we cannot force a paper cut to heal, we cannot force our broken hearts to heal. In fact, by forcing the process, we end up delaying it further. It is through allowing the healing process that we arrive more quickly at our destination.

The first step here is awareness: seeing and hearing what we are thinking. When we see the process as a classroom in which we learn about ourselves, we become witnesses to our own rebirth. By becoming aware of our thoughts, we become present with what is happening within us.

The next step is being willing to see our thoughts, almost as if written on a chalkboard, while we sit back in our seats – witnessing them without punishing ourselves, or judging our thoughts. This can be a challenge, as we have usually spent our entire lives putting “good and bad” labels on e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g that we think or do. So here we put down the scorecards and allow our thoughts to flow (see, we’re allowing again). It is in this witness seat where we begin to see the bigger picture. Just as a student sees the lesson best when 1. in the classroom and 2. from the desk/not with a nose on the chalkboard, we must be willing to both be present as well as sit back some so that we can see.

The third step is to see the patterns that emerge. This is done by “rinsing and repeating” the first two steps: being aware and witnessing. With time, the patterns begin to emerge when we see our thoughts in the witness seat.

The next step is to allow the patterns to shift. Often, we want to force a shift as soon as we have a thought we don’t desire by forcing the change. However, this is like peeling the scab off of the papercut; we actually keep the undesirable thought energy in place.

When the pain feels too much to bear, it is important to keep breathing, to feel where we feel supported (the bed, floor, chair, etc), and to keep being aware. If we slowly count to 10, we can begin to feel the wave crest and then fall.

When I get stuck mentally, I find that my body also gets stuck. It is during these times that I begin to journal, stretch, walk/move, be grateful, or by taking a salt bath. Most of all: the most important thing is to KEEP BREATHING! The more areas of our bodies we can breathe into, the easier it is for the emotions to keep moving, too. For it is when we hold our breaths that the energy and thoughts get stuck, too.

Allowing to let go. It can be both more challenging and also easier than we may think. So please allow yourself to heal, to shift and to be moved.

Namaste

Becoming The Love You’ve Been Looking For

Fantasies about knights in shining armor started at a young age for me. I wanted a man to save me from my miseries; to whisk me away on his stead into the sunset. Fairytales, it seems, were a vast part of my psyche.

Then in my late thirties when my marriage dissolved and I was left to face my life, with my miseries and messes, I turned away by looking for the knight in shining armor again; and to no avail. In seeking, I upped my misery. Yet while I sought, I also began to look inward. This blog, in all of its iterations, reflects a good part of that journey.

Today, I am seeing that the love and acceptance I’ve sought in others was quietly waiting…right here, inside of me. Yes, I’ve read in books this concept of self-love. Yet, it was only recently that I began to experience it as a regular part of my daily life and reality.

How has this come to be, you may be wondering? It really is more simple than you may want to believe. If you’ve been following my story, you may see the pattern. It is about the consistent application of self-love and self-compassion in the face of e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.

To be more specific: The places where we have built walls must be torn down. Those walls are the thoughts and beliefs that block us from our own light, our own love and in maintaining those walls, it eats up our energy.

This place of self-love is behind those walls. It can feel scary to “walk into” those blockades, for each brick is a thought we have taken the time to place and mortar together to form these walls. Then we take to painting our beliefs of who we are, like murals, on these walls. So to look closely at any of the murals or walls is to question our very own self-concept. It can feel like death to question who we are. In a way it is: it is the death of who we believed we were.

Furthermore, we feel vulnerable when we take those walls down. As each of those bricks was formed in the belief that life or love hurts us. Yet the reality is that those very walls keep us locked in with the pain, while the love we seek remains on the other side of the keep.

The very thing we seek is within us. It is up to us to break down the walls that separate us from ourselves and hence from others. We can be so busy blaming others for our pain that we avoid seeing how we are hurting ourselves and creating the very things that keep us locked in that hell.

So go to those walls. Breathe through the fear, the heartache. Write, cry, dance and be moved by the emotions that you’ve been keeping locked up. In freeing them, you free yourself. With each wall you break down, you will find another measure of love for yourself.

It is in “feeling the rainbow” of human emotions that we become who we are here to be: ourselves unlimited, ourselves being free.

Namaste

Becoming a Best Friend

Everyone needs a best friend, someone to turn to when life gets tough and someone with whom to celebrate the good stuff. Friends can come and go, moving to new places, having their own life changes or even passing on. The one person we know that is with us from birth to death is our own selves. Yet, how many of us are friends with ourselves, much less our own best friends?

It can be a challenge to see ourselves in this light, as we can see into our own depths. We know our own darkest secrets and thoughts. And we judge ourselves for it to no end. However, if our own best friend were to confess to us their own “sins,” we would most likely forgive them. Yet we often hold ourselves to the highest standards and repeatedly beat ourselves down for not meeting them.

It is time to break these habits of self-reprisal. It is time to put down the arms and begin to give ourselves the grace, compassion and love that we so easily dispense to others. Perhaps one of the easiest ways to do this is to see ourselves as innocent babies, ones who are here to love and to be loved.

Love didn’t hurt you. Someone who didn’t know how to love hurt you. Don’t confuse the two. ~ Tony Gaskins, Jr.

We can continue this practice into present day by forgiving ourselves for how we have trespassed against ourselves. We can then become aware of what ways in which we punish ourselves. Then we can choose differently by granting ourselves just a little bit more grace, love and compassion.

By feeling into the places where we don’t feel loved, we can begin to heal the wounds within. It is here that we are learning to become our own best friends.

Heart Meditations to Heal Thyself

Namaste

Radiating Love: A Meditation

This is a daily mediation that I started about 3 weeks ago. It has been very helpful in keeping me from becoming overwhelmed when things gets tough. Some of my friends and coworkers have mentioned the differences they’ve seen, even without my telling anyone what I’ve been up to.

At least once a day for 5-10 minutes:

  • Sit upright with feet flat on the floor or ly down on your back.
  • See your body as a vase or vessel, imagine emptying it in the way that feels best for you.
  • Usually I visualize the wind emptying out the vessel, and when it’s been “real bad,” I imagine I “flush” the toilet. Yet without water filling back in.
  • After emptying out as much as possible, then visualize golden light like liquid sunshine filling your body, pouring in from the top of your head.
  • When the vessel is full, begin to see the light radiating outwards from you. Allow the rays to expand as far out from you as you can.
  • Call upon this image of a radiating you as you go through your day, especially when things get tough.

Consistency with this exercise increases its effectiveness. There are some days where you may notice it is easier than others.

Go forth and radiate!

Namaste

Losing the Illusion: Facing Disappointment

Branching into new territories brings about the need to clear out the old thoughts and beliefs that crowd the paths. Facing fears, outdated beliefs of “what ought to be,” and stored up emotions (reminds me of “lions, tigers and bears, oh, my!”) allows us to clear the way for further exploration and opening into bigger and better opportunities for ourselves. Today, many of those illusions, those thoughts of “what ought to be,” smacked me in the face, much like a wayward branch on a hike.

The unwanted thoughts and feelings have been gnawing at the pit of my stomach. Like a boomerang they fly out, only to come right back again. “By 42, I should be in a better place: secure with myself, my finances and living as a “whole” family. What is this: changing my name post-divorce, not having full custody of my kids and figuring out “how to get out of debt?” And I should be “solid” by now in who I am, not still trying to “find my voice.”” These thoughts cycle like an un-merry, merry-go-round. No wonder I feel dizzy and my insides feel turned upside down.

Acknowledging these feelings, putting them “on paper,” even saying them out loud via this blog, helps me to see them differently, to put them into perspective. “Who is saying this?”

These thoughts are not me, yet I have been listening to them. Today, I choose to rewrite my story, to see something new, to see something different and open into a new reality. Today, I am putting pen to paper and allowing the ink and new ideas to flow. Those old thoughts? I am letting them to keep going down the path they are on, while I choose a new one. Today, I’m creating a new map, and calibrating my compass; my sense of where I am and where I am going.

Digging deeper: What do you want to do differently, starting today? To get to a new place, it’s important to start exactly where we are – not where we “ought to be”… for to navigate from the wrong place, just gets us further away from obtaining our dreams.

Namaste

Fading into Infinity

Under rocks

Hidden well

Sheltered from storms

Isolated in a shell

Finite existence

Personal hell.

~~

Budding desires

Something new

Building fires

Clearing out

Impaling spires

Dying to live.

~~

Breaching boundaries

Branching out

Building strength

Confidence renewed

Retreats bidden

From which she grew.

~~

Accepting it all;

What she had to do

Crescendo of momentum

Then blowback from changes made

Old remains laying decayed

Fuel the internal fires

No longer contained

External expression

No longer implosion

Touching upon golden threads

Waking up the living dead.

~~

Merging with The Myriad

The All

Imbued with bliss

Nothing can touch this

An open vessel

No longer lidded

Feels the infinite

Within it

A simple treasure

After clearing

Is given

Welcome it says,

You’re part of the

Infinite

~~

Namaste

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