2018: Celebrating Wholeness & Completion

For 2019, I’m choosing to celebrate the New Year differently. For the first time, I’m going to ring in the New Year solo. In the past, I would have been in a panic to be alone. While I do have places where I could celebrate, I’m actually looking forward to the solitude. This desire is quite a shift for me and I believe the lessons I’ve learned from 2018 are a large part of it, having lead to a new experiences of wholeness and completion.

Overcoming Fears & Seeing my Strengths
As I look back over what brought me to this place of desiring solitude on New Year’s Eve, I can see the road was tough at times. In 2018, there were several significant events that lead to lessons in compassion, forgiveness and realizing my strengths.

This year, I lost out on a relationship because I felt emotionally left out and alone when he was over-scheduled and his life demands kept him away physically and especially emotionally. In my fear of rejection and abandonment, I grasped more strongly thus creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.

It has taken me most of the year to both see my own part more clearly and to have compassion and understanding of where he was coming from. Uncovering this process has lead to forgiveness for him, and even more so for myself. Through this loss, I learned compassion and forgiveness.

The breakup was untimely in that it was just a few days before my father had a brush with death. It was a one-two punch that threatened to take me under. I found that while my father was drowning in the bottom of a bottle, that legally I could do nothing if he refused care or treatment. Part of my lesson was one of surrender.

Once he chose to detox, due to his medical conditions, he was ineligible for inpatient rehab at any local facilities! He almost lost his life during the process when he had several detox seizures. Later, he fell and broke his back, further complicating his recovery. It was a difficult process for him, we’re all fortunate that his will helped him through.

This situation showed me both my strengths and weaknesses. I saw where my skills and tools both as a PT and spiritual traveler were called into action. Surrender showed up again when I saw where I needed help and turned to Al Anon. It was there that I learned that my father nor his addiction were my problems; my problems came from my own within.

It was up to me to focus on myself while having compassion for him; not fighting him to quit drinking. In trying to control my father, or a lover for that matter, I only lose control of myself and in so doing, steal from them their ability to recognize their own need for accountability. Much like the adage: you can lead a horse to water, you just can’t make him drink, I had to see where my tendency to help can be perceived as similar to waterboarding. While a bit of an exaggeration, the idea still stands. 

Later, still working through these circumstances, I witnessed a man tragically taking his final breaths. This rocked me to my core and lead me to a new understanding that life is brief, best enjoyed fully and that suffering is optional. This situation helped me to take the edge off of my need for perfection for perfection’s sake, recognizing the wasted energy in it.

My recent work with The Enneagram System has furthered my understanding of the struggle within each person and personality. While I am very much just on the river’s edge of understanding here, the take home message has been one of compassion, a form of surrender that leads to forgiveness. I see now where the vast majority of people are really doing the best that they can do. Our responses to others are often based on unconscious fears. As such, it is up to each of us to uncover these hidden fears, so that they no longer control and drive us. 

2019 Wholeness
For so long, I have felt this indescribable irredeemable deficiency* and sought external fixes to my internal lack. My personal fears whisper of lack, shame, rejection and abandonment. It is my duty to recognize these fears and the clues when they crop up so that I am not ruled by them. Writing has been one means to understanding and sharing my process to uncover the shame of my perceived deficiencies.

Through meditation, self-care (including writing) and a deeper spiritual understanding, I now see that I have been complete all along. Now I’m in a place where I can surrender into the truth that I am (and have been) whole and complete all along, as Unity intended. Now I see the feeling of an irredeemable deficiency is my blessing as much as it is my curse for it drives me into greater degrees of compassion and forgiveness.

May we each see our fears for what they are: our gift to propel us forward, or our curse if we allow it. May we see and experience ourselves in our highest truths, as we are each truly whole and complete. Through self-compassion and self-forgiveness, we see.

Namaste

*Irredeemable Deficiency is a term coined to describe The Enneagram Four’s Experience

Recovering from Heartbreak: Taking it to the Next Level

Healing from heartbreak can be a drawn out and difficult process. It can seem to take forever because we don’t like feeling hurt or that we are broken. Often we suppress our feelings and try to rush the process in our desire to feel “A-OKAY” which can further prolong the process.

Idealizing the person and the relationship keeps us stuck and from moving forward. These thoughts become an addiction. It is up to us to choose when we no longer wish to ruminate, when we would like to move forward. Just as with changing any habit, to be successful, we must replace our old habits with new ones. Initially, this takes effort and near constant redirection. Here are some of the tools I have found helpful in breaking the habit of idealization:

  • Burn Letters – This can be very transformative. Pour out your emotions onto paper. Say whatever is on your mind, or that needs to be gotten off of your chest. Then place the paper into the fireplace, or fire pit and let your feelings be transformed. The stronger the feelings, the more times this may need to be done. For some, it may be one and done. For most, it may require repeated efforts.
  • Sh*t List – List out the things you did not like or that went wrong. Yes, focus for a little bit on the negative. When we are idealizing someone or something, then we are avoiding the negatives.
  • Gratitude – Each time you think on the ex lover or relationship, mentally thank your ex for showing you what you want in your next relationship. In relationship, we experience examples of what we liked while learning through contrast what we do NOT want again.
  • Wish List – List out all the things that you want in your NEXT RELATIONSHIP. Feel into as many items as you can as you list them out.
    • Additional suggestions:
      • Make an A to Z list. Challenge yourself to find at least one thing for each letter.
      • Read and feel this list everyday.
      • Record the list in your own voice. Listen to it daily.
      • When you start to think about the ex-lover or that relationship, look at the list.
      • Share the list with a trusted friend who will NOT ridicule you.
      • Allow this list to live in your heart.
  • Radical Self-Care – What have you not been doing for yourself? Were there good self-care habits that fell to the wayside when you were in relationship/grieving?
    • Some ideas:
      • Love & forgive yourself more. The Ho’Oponopono Prayer* is amazing: “I Love You. I am sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you.”
      • Change your schedule.
      • Tidy your home, office or car.
      • Drive to work differently.
      • Exercise your body. This helps to get the emotions moving, too.
      • Fast (safely).
      • Eat foods that are right for your body.
      • Meditate.
      • Take a salt bath.
      • Go to the spa, get a massage, or have some energy healing done.
      • (Re)Connect with friends.
      • Journal.
      • Seek counseling or hypnotherapy.
      • See an Acupuncturist.
      • EFT

Rebuilding Connections with Ourselves and Others

Pushing and pulling, we move through life. Resisting and stopping, we stagnate and can die inside. We are human beings, yet all of this action means we are constantly doing and disconnecting. What if we’re always busy doing so much that we’re missing the point?

I remember as a child that I always wanted to be older, bigger and wiser. Then, in my mid-life, I wished to go back to where I could be more playful again. So I’m learning to seize the moment and enjoy life more in the now, being with what is.

All of our doing and multi-tasking prevents us from knowing ourselves and from being ourselves. This prevents authenticity within and between ourselves and others. How can we shift this? By being more authentic ourselves.

Slowing down, unfolding and releasing the need to go-go-go as well as decreasing the need to multi-task with everything helps us to reconnect with our own being as well as with others. In being more and doing less, we allow our true selves to shine through.

May we each connect more fully with ourselves, becoming increasingly authentic so that we may foster greater connections with others. The more we can accept ourselves, the more we begin to accept our faults that we see in others. (See what I did there?)

Namaste

Allowing the Transformation

It is in allowing, instead of fighting against the shackles, that we set ourselves free.

It can be a challenge to have patience when we’ve decided to make changes in our lives. We often move from status quo to “green light go, go, go” in .24 seconds. When we push to have the changes take place, we create greater resistance as we are actually acting out of fear. When we rush we also ignore the parts of us that are holding back and not ready for the new. Out of fear we begin to create and new obstacles come into play.

As much of a challenge as it can be to do, once we decide to take those steps we must sit back and wait for the next steps to unfold; much like a rose. When we rush and push, we will be unable to hear the small quiet voice within giving us our next steps or instructions. Breathing into the need to push, leaning into it, and allowing it to exist, helps us in our transformation.

Here is a prime example. After a break up, I wanted to “be okay” with everything and to no longer be upset at him, myself, and the circumstances behind the broken relationship. Pushing to be better “right now” only resulted in my frustration growing larger and further blocking my ability to think and act clearly. Finally, I recognized what I was doing to myself: pushing past my own limits and leaving the broken pieces of me to fend for themselves.

When I find myself doing this, I find it best to do the following sequence:

  • Sit quietly (at least mentally) and allow as many of the painful emotions to surface as able. Take note of where they reside in the body.
  • Return to the center, and feel the mantra, “I am willing to love myself as God does, infinitely.”
  • By repeatedly breathing this intention into the restricted spaces within, the tempest falls apart with each mindful breath.
  • “Rinse and repeat” when the tempest returns, begin the process again.

While I’ve still not reached my final resolution, I’ve reached a greater sense of peace and calm in the midst of this tempest. When it begins to read its head up again, I return to this sequence; it is the path to freedom. For it is in allowing, instead of fighting against the shackles, that we set ourselves free.

Namaste

Detoxing Addictions both Emotional and Chemical

A few weeks ago, I posted a prayer request for a loved one to receive the support s/he needed. This person was not eating regular meals, and instead was drinking a superhuman amount of vodka per day. Since then, s/he has started the detox process and is eating again, returning to human status.

In developing compassion for this individual, I started to look at my own addictions. In doing so, I recognized that on a basic level it doesn’t matter what we’re addicted to: an addiction is an addiction is an addiction.

Each substance or behavior keeps us out of our own control and power. When we are addicted to something we feel powerless to change and so we don’t. Various addicts like to think they are better than others, but I no longer feel this is true… just my humble opinion. Each addiction steals our power.

So with this in mind, I chose to initiate the process of stepping away from addictions (chemically with junk foods, alcohol, coffee/caffeine, and emotionally with unhealthy habits of relating). At first, my biology craved the sugar and the caffeine. Those effects were minimized for me with an herbal detox.

The more challenging aspect has been the emotional response. For it is now that I am recognizing that the emotions I was suppressing with my addictions have begun to surface. To stay on top of these emotions, it has been important for me to keep centered and grounded. Meditation and self-care have been saving graces. Prayer and support of friends have also been tremendous in getting me through.

For several days, I have felt like I’ve been surfing in a bad storm. There have been periods of grace, yet overall it’s been tumultuous. To keep on my surfboard through the emotional waves, I have dropped into my center and grounded by imagining my consciousness being in the “bowl” of my pelvis. At times I have also imagined my tailbone sprouting roots that go downwards into the center of the earth, which takes away all that no longer serves me.

Furthermore, softening into the emotions allows for grace. Journaling has also helped. The big move, however, has been finding my willingness to forgive and send love to any others involved; including myself. At times it has felt like every trespass and each grievance had bubbled up. In finally seeing each item as a part of me that had not healed, I have become more compassionate towards myself…and others.

This detox and getting away from my addictions has helped me to see all of the emotions I was tucking away for another day. All of these chemical distractions were what I used to avoid feeling my emotions. To avoid feeling myself.

I also recognized during this time that my focus on others has kept me from taking responsibility for myself. In blaming others, I failed to see where I was failing myself.

Change takes effort. Yet we are worth the effort. When we can make these changes that support ourselves, we can further support others.

Each light that is lit helps to spark the light in others.

May we each find the solace we seek within ourselves and our Higher Power, instead of the things that are external and uncontrollable.

Namaste

Living Our Dreams

How can you fully grasp the new dream if you’re still holding onto the old reality?

Surrender is the name of the game. Repeatedly giving over all which does not serve to our higher power. This opens our channels so that we can receive the new dream.

Remaining grounded and connected to ourselves keeps us in awareness. While focusing on others keeps us wallowing in our own suffering, for we cannot see the power we have to get out. We must ask for support to receive it. If we are distracted, then we stay in struggle as we must walk through or ask to have the old removed.

As we clear, it is important for us to remain curious and open “like a child.” It is here that we are more receptive. One step leads to the next. At times it may feel like the wrong step. Yet in remaining open and curious we are able to more clearly see. It is best to avoid certainty, as this closes the waves of possibility. In our openness, we allow for more to be created.

It’s about loving and forgiving the parts of ourselves and others who have lived in the belief that love is found through suffering. When these thoughts and stories surface, be willing to love and forgive the parts of you that believe it and anyone else who helped you create that. Again, this helps us to see and live the new dream.

Namaste

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

The 8-Minute Miracle Shift Every Parent and Child Needs

After an emotionally stressful day at work taking care of post-divorce fall-out, and wrestling with some personal demons, I drove directly to my children’s school to pick them up. They were in their after-school programs and being away from them all day, it had been my habit to make a bee-line to each of their classroom doors. Sometimes when I get to my son’s classroom, he refuses to look at me and drags his feet to leave. I believe now that he must be able to see or sense the stress I’m feeling.

Tuesday, my emotions were too mixed up for the bee-line and I knew it. I waited until I could park in the furthest spot to give myself some privacy. It was then that I set an 8-minute meditation timer with the background sound of a “winter fire” (insight Timer App is AMAZING and free!). Once I closed my eyes, I allowed my emotions the oxygen, light and space they needed to “burn out” on their own. In 8 lovely minutes, I went from feeling like pulling some of my hair out to “I’m ready to be a calm, nurturing mom.” Allowing the emotions and thoughts is the key: to force peace, or any other emotion, just pushes them away!

When I walked into my son’s classroom, he played a game of peek-a-boo, to hide the wide smile on his face. He could tell my mood before I crossed the threshold. From kid pick up to bedtime, we had an amazing night! I even took the kids for a quick trip to the grocery store (something I usually avoid as much as possible). Though I did have to give the kids a few behavioral reminders, I didn’t lose my patience once (that’s a feat!).

In reflecting on this shift, I recognized that when I picked up the kids, it had been my habit to want to rush home so I could “relax.” As if rushing leads to relaxing?! Plus, when did the relaxation ever really come before the kids were in bed?! I’m seeing where this just made the kids, particularly my son, edgy (well, and me, too). So now, I’m committing to NOT rushing to relax, NOR putting it off until later. Why not now? Really!

So today I relaxed first and took a lot of pressure off of all of us. Now why didn’t I think of this before?! I really don’t know. It now seems so simple. BUT, I realized it and now I know how to do it differently!

Namaste

P.S. It is also important to add that I did some visualizations today, seeing my son being happy and grateful to see me when I picked him up. I do believe this was part of how I saw the need to do the meditation that shifted me into relaxation mode pre-pickup.

P.S.S. I believe this type of mini mental break can help improve any caregiver-dependent frustration. Use it at will! Really.

The Nihilism of Parental Perfectionism

As a new mother, I was especially keen on how I viewed what would make me a better mother and what wouldn’t. I was very judgmental in my views of myself. My views became so narrowed in their focus, however, that I was missing the bigger picture. In trying to live up to an unrealistic self-imposed standard, I set myself up for failure, I argued frequently with my husband and most importantly, I was not very present as a mother. 

I’ve since begun to see things differently. Perhaps post-divorce means I’ve let go of some of my over-bearing tendencies. Or perhaps I’m now able to see the forest through the trees. It’s all a work in progress.

As adults, my kids won’t care how long they were breastfeed, how long their mother made their baby food from scratch, how many times she washed their cloth diapers or how many play dates she arranged. No. I’ve decided what has mattered and what will matter most to them revolves around how present I can be for them as a mother. To hear what they’re saying and what they’re not saying when they are feeling whatever they are feeling. By being able to “be there” for them, I am also showing them how to show up for life: fully present and fully accounted for.

Yes, they do have more “screen time” than I’d like to admit. Yet there are some boundaries that I have set. I’m doing my best to keep them present, for the days of their time at home are numbered. What I want for my grandchildren are parents that can show their love by being present. As Thich Nhat Hanh has said, “The Present Moment is a gift.” In a way, I’m paying things forward.

I am grateful to have recognized this while my children are still relatively young. Sadly, this shift did not occur overnight. Yet, now that I am more aware and more present, this understanding helps me to keep my focus on what’s important: being present with my kids.  

So that also means less screen time for mama now, too. I have discovered how much I had been escaping the present via my writing, texting, blogging and time spent over the years on dating sites, and social media sites. Now when I find myself “searching” online for something, I often find what I’m seeking is a greater degree of presence in my own life. Yet, somehow I’ve feared it. By focusing on being perfect on the outside, I had been neglecting the inside. In letting go of another layer of Perfectionism, I am able to be more present and to enjoy what I have more and more.

Namaste 

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