Category Archives: Healing

To Live Your Message

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What’s your mission statement?

I was asked that a few months ago and was like, “ummmm…can I get back to you on that?”

What sucks about having a mission statement is the accountability that comes with it. So you have a mission statement that boldly states what you’re all about. Your purpose, your passion, your whole reason for existing… and then the big question that inevitably follows it: So what are you doing to achieve that?

Gulp…

I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but it took me a few years to respond to that question. And here it is:

To live my message.

If ever a mission statement, this for me, felt like a truly powerful and empowering one. I didn’t need to be perfect, I was allowed to make mistakes. Having a mission statement with a specific “goal” in mind (like world peace, or eliminating poverty, or curing cancer…whatever) is extremely intimidating, and honestly, probably unrealistic. But this- living my message, sounded pretty practical and like something I could definitely do.

It was basically daily accountability to do the things I say I’m going to do,
avoid doing the things I say I’m not going to do,
and find flexibility and forgiveness somewhere in the middle.

So the real question isn’t about having a mission to change others or to make some dramatic dent in the world, but to be as truthful, honest, and real as I can possibly be at all times, and hopefully, that helps others feel free to be as truthful, honest, and real as they can be as well. In that, I find freedom, hope, and love. No rules, no super out-of-reach impossible goals to achieve within x-amount of time. No one-size-fits-all rules and expectations.

To do this only required one thing: to be brutally, rigorously honest about who I was and what I was about. No more people-pleasing. No more looking outside me to fill what was lacking inside.

As I began my path of discovery, healing, and self-love, I began to have a lot of “aha moments” and “epiphanies” that I was desperate to share with others (hence this blog). It was tempting to insist that my friends and family do what I was doing, think what I was thinking, and heal the way I was healing. I secretly judged… Sorry…

Little did I realize, though, was that by focusing on the progress and struggles of others, it would not only take away from my own recovery but pull me back. Significantly…

What I found was that in order to help others, or carry a message of healing to those who still suffer, was that I can’t “pull them along” in my own struggles. I had to live my message.

We learn only through our commitment to our own healing and growth. We carry that message of hope and strength by living it; by serving as an example. I believe it is not us who share the message, but the message that shares itself as it comes out in our daily actions and attitude.

If so, what was I sharing?

Self-improvement, personal development, healing, recovery- whatever you want to call it, is all a very intimate process that somehow unfolds itself uniquely in each individual, which is why it requires rigorous honesty, intention, and personal effort and commitment. We recover not through the advice of others, and not by doing things the way others do them, but by committing to healing ourselves, every day, in whatever way works.

No matter how far we have come, we do not have the ability to “teach” people how to live. We do not have the divine knowledge of what is the best path for others to take, and we do not have the right to insist that one way is better than another. We rely on a “program” that works for us and our personal relationship with some form of Higher Power, even if that Higher Power is your dog. Seriously. Whatever works. We never attempt to be another person’s “Higher Power”. All we know, by walking our talk is what worked for us, and this is evident not though an intense advising session but through our actions, thoughts, and behaviors.

It would be truly arrogant of me to try and teach something in which I had no experience or knowledge in, and that lack of experience or knowledge isn’t the things I’ve learned.

The thing I know absolutely nothing about and have no experience with is,
“what’s best for someone else.” 

What I learned through my unfortunate failed marriage with a sex addict, alcoholic, problem gambler is that the more I tried “teaching” him how to “overcome his issues” (as opposed to just living a better life for myself), the more I enabled his addictions, and the more distance I put between us.

All I know is that I have found my “program” transformative, healing, and a vital part of my recovery. Through doing my own personal work, I have met others who have experienced the same recovery and healing. While our stories are all very different (and in some ways very similar), our core commonality was in our commitment to our personal healing and co-witnessing how it transforms and heals us.

No matter where we come from and what our background, we had been supported and encouraged to continue working through our issues in a positive, loving, and supportive way, and this was all we could do. This was ultimately the most effective and influential for everyone involved.

Naturally, when we find something that works to make our lives better, we want to share it with the world. We want others to know and feel the freedom and joy that we once only dreamed of having. But our message, our product, that “thing” we hold dear to us, we only carry it because it carried us. Through a lot of inner-work, and commitment to bettering ourselves, it has now become a part of us, and through this, we are able to carry it in return. And that is how we live our message.

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I Surrender

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“I surrender”

I know it sounds silly to talk about movies, but it was 2012. I watched the movie, “The Life of Pi” and had forever been changed. The take-away for me (which may be different for many) had a significant impact on the way I currently live my life. The first time I heard him say those words, “I surrender” I felt a chill down my spine. It was calling out to me, urging me to say it. “Try it… Say it…say, ‘I surrender”.

My body felt a sudden tension. “No way!” I thought. “I’m not ready! If life is anything like the message in this movie, just look at what happens when we surrender!

It had seemed that Pi had gone through enough pain and suffering. He literally lost EVERYTHING: his family, friends, country, and when he thought he had nothing more to lose, he lost the last of his food, the boat that kept him afloat on an ocean that could care less about about whether he lived or died, and his best friend was dying next to him. On the surface, it felt like he was being punished horrendously…for what…why…?

And yet the storms kept coming…hitting him harder, and stronger. If surrender meant opening my arms to a bigger storm, count me out!

This was not encouraging at all. To surrender meant an increase in suffering. I was not willing to suffer more. I had had enough. But the message kept ringing louder and louder in the back of my mind for years. Something inside me kept calling, begging almost, whispering, “say it..say ‘I surrender‘.”

I knew I had to at some point. But I wasn’t ready.

To surrender meant having to endure greater suffering, isolation, and the loss of all I thought I knew and believed (i.e., my “ego”)… What I hadn’t realized at the time though, was that through surrendering the ego, I was to discover myself and my purpose.

 

There came a time in my life (a few  years later) when I finally got the guts to say it. When I thought things couldn’t get any worse, I was desperate for freedom, so I said it. I didn’t whisper it either. I screamed it loud and clear: “Ok, God. I’m ready….(gulp)… I… surrender!”

And sure enough, I was granted what felt like Pi’s epic storm scene. A true shit storm. My husband’s infidelity came to the surface, my own ugly demons came staring me in the face, and eventually, my marriage came to crashing ugly end… and I was left thinking, “I’m a failure. A loser. Who on Earth could possibly ever love someone like me…?”

But what came out of that shit storm (shit storm being a serious understatement) was exactly what is promised when we surrender.

Dr. Wayne Dyer says, “your ego wants you to look for the inside on the outside.” He adds, “The outer illusion is the major preoccupation of the ego.”

In other words, when we let our ego lead, the ego feeds us false ideas of what will make us happy, constantly encouraging us to focus on things outside of us to fill that empty void inside of us.

But when we surrender the ego, we are forced to look inside- something we’ve been avoiding our entire lives. And yeah, when we finally have to take a peek at all of that mess…it is NOT pretty… Yet, when we courageously do look inside, we discover…the universe.

The cost is high, and the fear induced by it is great, but it is sooooo worth it. If you think about it, letting go of the ego to discover the universe…and as a side perk, suffering seems to decrease significantly. Now that’s a pretty good deal! An investment with HUGE return.

Suffering is something no one wants to do. And certainly, if we don’t have to suffer, why suffer? If there’s something we can do to remove the suffering from our lives, why not? But there are times in our life when we must endure the storms. There are times when we must embrace the suffering. And it is precisely this- suffering- a very necessary consequence of growth and evolution as a human being.

While it seems counter-intuitive, as we learn to surrender to the universe, we actually find peace. We find the universe, we find our true power, we reconnect and discover that full, infinite loving wholeness inside ourselves.

So perhaps the key to happiness, and yet quite a scary path to embark on, is to surrender. Don’t get me wrong: to surrender is not to give up on your dreams, or to aim a little lower when we don’t get what we hoped for, but to maybe aim a little higher next time, and let go of the outcome…each..and every time.

Life Hack: Feeling is Healing

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Feeling is healing. But “feeling” is not the same as “expressing our emotions”. A great example of the difference between feeling and expressing is this: The other day my older son took a toy from my 1 year-old. My 1 year-old felt really upset about that. He expressed his feelings in two ways: first, he screamed, and then he tried to hit his big brother. While neither are what we would call “good behavior”, unfortunately, they both are pretty normal for that age. Fortunately, we grow up and realize that hitting and screaming don’t get us what we want and usually don’t solve the problems we think we have. Ideally, with the help of positive role models and experience, we learn alternative, more healthy and productive ways of expressing what it is that we are feeling and are able to discern if expressing is even necessary.

Paradoxically, when we feel something and are unable to express it, the feelings are left unattended and can lead to personal and internal negative consequences like a build up of resentment, anger, self-loathing, and sometimes even depression. What’s interesting, though, is that even if we do express what we feel, if we do it in an unhealthy way (like hitting, yelling, screaming, threatening, hurting ourselves, getting drunk, engaging in unhealthy sexual behavior, etc.) we are still left feeling pretty crappy in the end, maybe even a little embarrassed, and mostly unresolved.
*** This is the beauty of life. ***
I think being human IS THIS. An experiment (maybe even a game?) of feeling something and then trying to express it so that it can be resolved. If we are successful, we identify and implement the healthy ways of expression (which for me usually comes with trial and error…lots of error…). If you think about it this way, literally EVERYONE can be a winner! Every opportunity that passes through our life is an opportunity to learn expression – and from expression comes resolution. From resolution comes resilience and ultimately, an openness and love for all that life has to offer (good and bad).
Feeling to heal isn’t just about expressing negative feelings. Positive feelings also need equal expression. Did you know there are actually people that have a hard time expressing gratitude and joy? I know because I used to be one of them (and sometimes still struggle with this). People afraid to show ANY emotion. Interestingly, the consequences of not expressing even our positive feelings leave us (and sometimes others) feeling bummed. Imagine feeling immense joy at your baby’s birth but being completely expressionless and not showing any emotion? Imagine being at your own wedding with an expressionless face? This is why how we express our feelings is so important! It’s a way to connect with ourselves and others.

But in order to heal what’s hurting inside us, we first have to feel it, and to “feel” it means we open ourselves up to it. In other words, we look at it, we allow ourselves to have those feelings, face them, and honestly acknowledge them. They are real! If they weren’t, you wouldn’t have them. To open ourselves up to what is going on inside of us and allow it to flow through is key. Yes, sometimes that means shedding a tear or two! But sometimes the feelings can be so intense we freeze or want to run from them! The good news is that feeling our feelings doesn’t require us to express it immediately or at all. It just requires you to honestly see it and say hello to it.

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This is where the magic lies! Once we are able to honestly see it and say hello to it, somehow, we then are able to successfully and productively express it.
So the next time something happens and you feel something (let’s take anger for example), try saying something like, “oh, something in me is feeling anger. Hello anger. So this is what anger feels like. Yes, I am feeling anger right now.”

I know it sounds cheesy, but it works! What do we do with that anger once we’ve said hello to it? We’ve owned it, we’ve acknowledged it, and we’ve totally taken it in our complete control. We are now empowered with a life-changing opportunity to ask ourselves, “OK! I see am feeling anger right now. How do I want to express that?”

Oftentimes, we realize that we either don’t need to after all, OR we are at a MUCH better place emotionally and mentally to find a truly positive and productive (and less harming way) of resolving the underlying problem.

Life can be hard. Why make it more difficult than it has to be?

The Cure for Loneliness?

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This week marks the 3rd month since my husband left and the feeling of loneliness has suddenly crept up on me unexpectedly. Trying to figure out how to overcome my loneliness, I started by asking myself, “how do I cure this loneliness!?” And so I started thinking of times when I did NOT feel lonely, and decided to do more of that.

This is what I got:

  • Laughter
  • Doing what I like (activities)
  • Talking to someone
  • Feeling of being heard
  • Sense of enjoyment in small things (like a great cup of tea/coffee, wine and cheese, or the smell of jasmine flowers in the wind, just for an example)
  • Being/going somewhere new
  • Trying something new (food or activity)
  • Playing with my kids / watching my kids play
  • Walking my dogs
  • Being in nature
  • Helping others
  • Dancing
  • Writing/Journaling/Blogging
  • Learning something fascinating
  • Reading a good book
  • Listening to friends talk about their lives
  • Changing the environment
  • Traveling
  • Warm baths
  • Getting out of my comfort zone

Then I asked myself: why is loneliness so bad?

Maybe it’s not..

Actually, if we don’t get used to loneliness, we will always run from it. And sometimes it’s inevitable. Maybe it’s something that once we are able to “deal with it” it doesn’t overpower us or cripple us and lead us to do things that we later regret. It doesn’t put us in unhealthy relationships for the sake of “not being alone”.

Being alone and being lonely are two totally different things. Being alone is a great thing to do sometimes. Pooping for example, is a great thing to do by yourself alone… Feeling lonely, however, is feeling disconnected. So we desperately search for some kind of connection, even if it’s shallow, fake, or damaging to our well-being. That leads to us feeling MORE lonely, not less. Like a drug that temporarily leaves us feeling “relaxed”; the moment it wears off, we are back to our feeling of loneliness, and we immediately grab for our drug of choice again- and sometimes that drug of choice is not just something we put into our bodies, but things we do with our bodies or what we allow to be done to our bodies.

The moment we are able to connect with ourselves, we realize that the thing we were running from the WHOLE time was never loneliness, but ourselves. We were running from ourselves, our feelings, our emotions, and after being away from ourselves for so long, that abandoned “place” has been left messy.

REALLY MESSY…

So let’s go back to ourselves, clean up the mess, and find peace so that there is nothing to run from. When the place we come back to is all cleaned up, it starts to really feel like “home” and being “home” starts to feel good.

It becomes a place that we not only find comfort and peace at,
but a place that other people genuinely find peace and comfort as well.

This makes us happy people and makes us better partners, parents, lovers, friends, workers, you name it.

There is only one way out of our suffering and that is through it. The longer we spend running away from it, the longer we’re going to spend our lives thinking that something is chasing us. We run, and run, and run away from that loneliness, not realizing that no matter how fast we run, it’s not at our heels, its INSIDE us. We CAN’T run from it…

After we have run as far as we could run, feeling exhausted and defeated, with no more distractions at our disposal, we have no where else to go…but… inside.

So why waste any more time? Go inside and say hello to this loneliness. Clean up the mess, and finally feel at home, be at true genuine peace, once and for all. Then throw a house-warming party and invite all your friends. Now it’s party time!

Work In a Relationship 

I was with a friend at lunch who was talking about struggles with her boyfriend and I was caught of guard when she said, “I want to get married. If we get married, all these problems will go away…”

This morning I reflected on that. What is it that makes a relationship “work”? I can’t speak for everyone but what I’ve come to believe is that, regardless of a paper document confirming the legal connection between two people, what really makes a relationship work, is…”work”.

I know I’m going to get a lot of people that are going to say “if it takes work then it’s too much and you should just walk away.” That’s of course not the kind of work I’m talking about. The work I’m talking about isn’t helping around the house or being patient enough to sit and listen to your partner complain or talk about stuff you’re not interested in.

The kind of work I’m talking about is the commitment to stay when you want to run away. The capacity to hold your partner’s flaws and not hold it against them. The work of doing your own personal and emotional healing so that your own emotional baggage doesn’t become a subconscious and silent weapon of attack on them. The work of being able to say you’re sorry and admit when you’re wrong. The strength to overcome your own fears and insecurities so that they don’t cloud your judgement and bring you to do or say things you’ll later regret. The capacity to step back and allow your partner to work on their own problems without your intervention. The work of trust, faith, acceptance. The work of looking at a flaw and instead of seeing it as a problem needing fixed, a starting point in the relationship to ask yourself, “can I fully and wholly embrace and accept this or is it a deal breaker?” And if you’re already in a relationship, being able to see the flaw and ask yourself, “is this something I can let go and be content with?”

The list is probably endless, but it really all boils down to the work we do internally, learning what it really means to LOVE another person, to love yourself, and not get stuck in that one way road of “what my partner is or can do for me” or the masochistic “I must kill all parts of me to make my partner happy, and then once they are happy I can be happy.”

It’s about being real with what is. Because what is is all that there is. What comes after that is the result of love or lack of.

This Takes Courage, But Mostly Determination To Heal

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Finishing up the book, “Love Your Enemies” (Salzberg and Thurman) they provide some “at home” meditation practices. Since I’ve taken several meditation courses and practice daily, the loving kindness/compassion meditations were no stranger to me. The idea that you wish well everyone, including those that you don’t like, is actually very effective in cultivating compassion and getting over a lot of unresolved anger and bitterness- the poison to your soul.

But one of the meditations the authors recommended in this book, while similar to the “I pray that ___ receives all he/she wants in life, including the experience of inner peace, joy, and unconditional love” thing I’ve been doing, had a drastic difference in that it required me to see my “enemy” as my “partner”, my teammate, and someone “winning the battle with me”.

It’s hard to change our image of someone we’ve determined to be an enemy into genuinely believing they are an ally. And maybe this isn’t something that can be applied universally…I don’t know… but you never know until you try! So I tried.

The idea was to open your mind just enough to consider that your enemy sees you just as horribly as you see them, and then see yourself just as they see you. I know my ex-husband saw me as a controlling, selfish, bitch. He said I was manipulative, judgmental, and crazy. Of course I didn’t want to see myself as that kind of person! Me? Nooooo… All of those horrible things? But seriously… why not just try it? So I did.

Ok.. So here I am, standing in front of him (this is in my imagination) and I’m a manipulative, judgmental, crazy, controlling selfish bitch. Ugh… I don’t want to be anywhere near this person. I can’t talk to her, I can’t share my feelings. I don’t feel safe, and I want to be defensive with everything she says and does. I want to give her the cold shoulder or maybe just pretend she doesn’t exist! I can feel my bitterness and anger toward her grow. She talks of love and forgiveness, but she’s so bitchy and crazy! I hate her!

Ok…now step out of that. How did it feel? How does this person feel whenever they think of you or see you?

It felt horrible! I am not that person!

Great! Now think how the other person feels when you put ALL of your judgments and opinions about them on them. Even if you don’t say it out loud, even if you think you can fake your way to a “pleasant” encounter with them, your feelings about that person pour out of you through your attitude and behavior even if you don’t think they do.

Can you now try and paint a positive picture of them in your mind? Can you? Just for pretend. Just for fun. Try. Try to see them as being extremely happy, full of joy, and having all the things they want in life, a new lover, a new child, a new home, maybe even having tons of money and going on really awesome vacations with their new family… (oh…I can feel my heart sinking already…)

As Salzberg and Thurman put it, “if you’re really daring, imagine your enemy winning the battle with you, imagine your enemy being happy to see you!”

Yes…the natural instinct/reaction for me was a defiant “NO!”

But keep in mind, this is all just pretend. You are safe. You can pretend…

Ok…So I did…

The end result… magic.

Salzberg and Thurman state, “in visualizing yourself from the enemy’s perspective, you start to see that what makes you vulnerable to your enemies is your SENSE of being fundamentally different from them…When you truly grasp that it is the projection of your own hurt and anger and fear that turns someone into your enemy, it releases the energy you previously invested in defending yourself and your ego.”

It took a bit of creativity and imagination to paint my ex as my co-partner in winning the battle. I had to think of ways in which we were winning together. Where in this life were we partners, happy, successful, and united?

I came to realize that even if the marriage didn’t work out, and even if he never loved me, he and I are the Mommy and Daddy of our baby, literally, FOREVER. We, together, created this magnificent, amazing, miracle. Not only did we create this miracle together, but we are also on the path together to raise him to the best of our abilities. We can make it a pleasant path or a miserable path, and we, together, get to make that decision (the battle!) The commonality may not be the “method” or “beliefs” about what is the best way to raise our baby, but the hope and intentions for making the best life for him are the same. The hope and intentions for making the best life for ourselves as well, is the same. We also partnered up in the marriage, and we now have the same path in life moving forward: both of us have to navigate our future lives, fill our lives with joy, peace, and love. How we go about that might be different, but we are technically on the same boat. So why do I need to get in his way as he navigates his path? And why should I allow him to get in my way?

It’s tempting to hold things against him, the betrayal, the abuse, and hostility. I could hold that story and keep it with me as I move forward on this journey. But why would I do that? What purpose does it serve? How does that benefit me? What joy does it give me? How does it serve my baby and his future? It doesn’t. So let it go already. Let the story go and re-write it into a heroic wonderful ending.

The more I see him as this “partner”, the more I grow to truly love (i.e., accept and respect) him, and genuinely hope, from the bottom of my heart, that he finds all the happiness he can get on his journey. Instead of spending my precious energy feeling bummed that the relationship didn’t turn out the way I had expected, I can spend that energy resolving my personal feelings of anger, fear, and jealousy. How amazing and empowering it is to be able to transform that negative feeling into one of support, compassion, and cooperation.

Yeah, I didn’t get what I want. That’s life. How long do you want to spend bitching and moaning about that? Transforming all that sadness into something so much more powerful and wonderful is where we BOTH come out a winner. As Salzberg and Thurman put it, “now that enemy you so disliked becomes your ally: your teacher, your helper, even – dare I say it – your friend.

He may never know about any of this, but the good news is, it doesn’t matter. The next time you have an encounter, you can be positive knowing that the energy radiating out of you toward him is that of loving kindness, cooperation, support, compassion, and good will.

And the next time you have a slight feeling of negativity creep up, continue to practice this meditation. Because the fact of the matter is, we’re all just walking each other home.

A Journey to Inner Peace

I think we spend our whole life wandering for something we lacked at some point in our young lives. For me, it was a relationship bond. Since I didn’t get it from my parents or siblings, my whole childhood and young adult life was spent on a subconscious journey looking for something or someone that would make me feel “bonded” like one would feel in a deeply intimate relationship found in a parent-child relationship. That feeling of being unconditionally loved, protected, supported, maybe even adored… Even if I thought I had found someone to fill my void, somehow I always felt afraid, anxious, and isolated. Would they leave me? Hurt me? Abandon me? Abuse me? Betray me? I felt as if I was a beggar for “love”, and that even a small crumb of affection was enough, so long as I felt someone “cared” about me. This was truly a life lacking inner peace.

What I’ve learned through years of failed relationships, rejection, and loss is that we will always feel fear, anxiety, and “lonesomeness” if we are always looking for strength from external sources (other people, money, sex, drugs, you name it). It’s cliche and frankly pretty annoying to hear that over and over again, but unfortunately (and fortunately) it’s true. It’s unfortunate because that leaves us completely responsible for our own inner peace and strength. It’s fortunate because that gives us complete power over our own inner peace and strength. When we are at peace, genuinely, from the inside, there is no sense of lack. We feel full and are thus not grasping at the false sense of security we cling to on external matters like money, what our body looks like, and the “bonds” of relationships, etc.).  In other words, we are at peace with what we have and who we are, and we are not obsessing over what we feel like we need or currently don’t have.

I was always looking for security in the bonds of relationships when I was supposed to find it in myself. Even now as I am grieving the loss of my marriage, I have to be honest about what it is that is shaking my inner peace. Is it truly grief? If it is grief, how much longer is it going to be grieving before it’s me just throwing an extended self-pity party? Perhaps this sadness is me feeling bitter for not getting the “bond” I was hoping to get through my marriage.

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If I had to be brutally honest, the ironic thing is I never “really” had it in any relationship. That “bond” never existed in any previous relationships, nor did it exist in the marriage I was so desperately trying to hang on to. The reason I didn’t have it wasn’t necessarily because the people I was with were jerks (most of them were! But that’s not why I didn’t get my “bond” I was looking for). The main reason was because I was looking for it in the wrong places.

I was SO desperate for that bond that I kept desperately grasping for that thing that I’ve never had like a mad man blindly grasping for anything in the darkness. I started noticing a pattern in how my relationships developed. When I thought I was close to getting that “bond” or even thinking that maybe I “had it”, somewhere in my subconscious I may have thought that it was something I was naturally entitled to, and thus when my relationships didn’t make me feel secure the way I thought they should, I got angry.  I lashed out. I blamed. Maybe I even subconsciously believed that the other person “owed” it to me…?

But is it possible to miss something you never felt? Is it possible to grieve something you’ve never had and thus never “lost”? If I had never known the flavor of chocolate, would I live my whole life searching for my long lost chocolate? Maybe I had a sniff of it, or thought I saw someone else with it… or maybe I even heard an amazing story about it and it peaked my interest so much that I set out looking for this amazing chocolate…It sounded divine…It sounded like heaven… “I MUST HAVE THIS!” I told myself…

Getting out of meditation is usually when I get my “aha moments” and today I had this one:

“Just let it go. You never had it and you obviously don’t have it now. It doesn’t mean you’ll never have it, but just that you don’t need to throw a fit because you can’t have what you currently don’t have. If you really needed it, you would have it! The fact that you don’t have it and have made it this far in life, means you don’t need it. At least, for now…”

**Granted, I actually do have this with my children, and with so many of my friends and family members. Sadly, I was only looking for it in a romantic partnership and thus couldn’t see that I had it already.

While I can’t say this is true across the board, it just resonated with me today. It told me it was time to get over it and live life already! I’ll be fine! Just like I’ve always been! Me chasing after something I obviously didn’t need has only gotten in my way, kept me from my purpose and passion, and created unnecessary suffering. Ugh…so much needless suffering… Why would I do that to myself?

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be loved and valued, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with wanting to be in a meaningful and loving relationship, but there is something seriously wrong about demanding it and throwing a fit or allowing your happiness and inner peace to disappear if you don’t get it.

Reminder to self: 1) If you want something, you have to be willing to give it, and screaming and demanding shit isn’t going to make you or anyone happy. BE LOVE. That shit makes people happy, including yourself (yup, even when things aren’t going your way). 2) Sit tight! Enjoy the ride. Literally, that’s your only choice at this moment anyway! By being love, you get love. By being present, you find inner peace. And THIS is where true strength and joy are found.

When it hurts just enough…

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From birth to 15, my life was spent looking for acceptance. My father was a functioning alcoholic and my mother MIA. We were financially well off, but my clothes were worn, tattered, and filthy. As a child, I was abused both physically and emotionally. The pain of feeling neglected, abandoned by my mother, not having any parental affection, and so ashamed and embarrassed by my appearance and fear that people would find out about my situation at home, I kept my head down, stayed quiet, and rarely spoke unless spoken to. For 15 years I grew up thinking my voice was not important, my thoughts were worthless, and my life had no value to myself or anyone else. After a series of traumatic events, I attempted suicide twice and was hospitalized. I was diagnosed as depressed and put on medication. I hated that feeling of being on medication. I couldn’t have ups and downs. It was all just…blah…

There was this little spirit inside me that demanded I fight for my freedom, so I did. I decided that I didn’t want to feel blah. I wanted the opportunity to feel ups and downs and to deal with them. So I stopped my medication, did some research, and fought like hell to be free. I started an exercise program, changed my diet, changed my circle of friends to positive supporting people, and started doing things that inspired me. I have never needed medication after that. I’m not saying depressed people reliant on medications should stop their medications. All I am saying is that it was a personal choice that I was able to make and follow through with.

When I was 30, although I was no longer “depressed” I always felt a little anxiety when in social situations. The lack of self-esteem and fear of rejection from childhood was so strong that my tendency was to shut down and avoid social events at all costs. People called me “shy” and an “introvert”. I had liked those labels because it gave me an excuse to not have to get out of that comfort zone. Yet it was so lonely and I didn’t want to feel lonely. So I decided I was going to stop having this social anxiety and just start saying hi to people and make conversations and go to social events. Similar to when I was a teen, the transition was hard. It took so much work and determination (and a few rejections) but I was absolutely, positively committed to bettering my life. As a result, I made tons of friends, tried things I’d never do, and am free from social anxiety.

There are tons of examples of how I saw something I didn’t like about myself, or felt insecure about, and decided I didn’t want it anymore, and determined to change it. But the key to achieving it all was simply determination and a changed mindset.

Here’s a story (not sure of the author) that reiterates my point:

One day, a child was walking down the street and saw a dog on a porch that was just sitting there, whimpering, whining and moaning. The child was curious as to why he was whimpering, so he went and knocked on the door and an older woman came out and said, “Can I help you?” The child said, “what’s wrong with your dog?” The older woman replied, “What do you mean?” The boy went on,”he’s sitting here moaning and groaning.” The older woman said, “Well, he’s actually sitting on a nail.” The boy was startled, “What! Your dog is sitting on a nail!? Why doesn’t he get off?” The older woman replied, “Well, it just doesn’t hurt him enough.”

I loved this story and is one of the reasons why I was able to turn my life around. I was in pain. For years. I was in so much emotional pain I thought it was worth it to end my life. I hated that pain and I didn’t know what to do with it. I had no adult role models, and no one even noticed that I was suffering deeply inside. For years, I did all kinds of manipulative tactics to get people to notice me, give me attention, validate my existence, show me some affection. I wanted people to prove to me that I was lovable. I don’t say this because I was not lovable. I say this because I didn’t feel lovable and was always looking outside of me, desperately, for someone to take on that job of loving me. NEVER in all my years had I thought that I could be the first person to love me…

It hurt so bad, but I stayed on that nail for a long time. If I whimpered loud enough, someone would surely come to my rescue! If I moaned deep enough, someone would surely feel pity for me and give me the attention I wanted and needed. If I cried and whined about my sad, sad stories, someone would swoop me up and save me from my woes and loneliness… I had hoped.

And it never happened. And the pain just kept getting deeper and deeper.

There is a way out of suffering, and it isn’t through something outside of you. It isn’t found in others, it isn’t found in food, drugs, alcohol, sex, anger, fear, and violence. There is a way out of suffering, and it isn’t through preoccupation, distraction, social media, your cell phone, and definitely NOT located in simply working harder towards your goals (yeah, you read that right…).

The only way out is through
and because the problem is within,
you GOTTA GO WITHIN.

I spent years and years in therapy. I looked actively for positive and loving mentors, and I took their advice to heart. I tried things I didn’t think would work. I read things I didn’t fully agree with. I kept an open mind. I did things that made me feel like a fool (like meditation circles). I had to get immensely honest with myself, intimate with my thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. I had to learn to be humble and say sorry. I had to own my mistakes and make amends when possible. I had to get vulnerable… I did the work required to find what I needed to free myself from suffering and inner turmoil. I had to fight my inner demons, the ones that were screaming distraction, to take the easy way out and blame others or expect others to change.

You see, when I finally took personal responsibility for my life, my goals, my happiness, AND MY PAIN, I had found freedom. Being accountable for who you are, where you are, what you are, how you respond, what you think and feel… it’s an extremely empowering and positive place to be. You can be that dog sitting on the nail, complaining about how bad it hurts… or you can look deep inside yourself, and do whatever it takes to turn that inner turmoil into inner peace. BOTH of them are not easy. BOTH of those paths probably come with some discomfort. But if you wanna stop suffering… get off the nail.

After that is the healing process. Healing is hard work. Healing is NOT distraction and forgetting how bad it hurt. Healing is not “F*** him! I don’t care!” It means cleaning up the wound, so that it is not susceptible to future contamination or infection. It means figuring out why the hell you wanted to sit on that damned nail for so long anyway! Honestly! Why!? And then, CHANGE your thinking, your daily habits, and behavior.  Commit to it. Commit to yourself

The whole moral of the story is this: THIS is YOUR life. Literally, only YOU can decide how bad you want it to hurt and how much longer you want to suffer before you… (gulp)… gotta own it and change.

 

Why Stay?

A friend of mine going through a similar situation I was in asked me, “why stay?” I hadn’t actually thought deeply about why I ended up staying for so long even after I realized the truth about my husband. Here was my response:

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Why Stay…? I asked myself that for 3 years. Even after separating several times, and wanting to get back, I kept asking myself, “what is it that makes me want to stay or go  back? What was it in this relationship that I was hoping to get that I couldn’t get elsewhere?”
In the beginning, what I thought I was after was unconditional love. I wanted to “be” unconditionally loving. I wanted unconditional love too, as my family of origin resulted in me struggling with feelings of abandonment, neglect, and lack of feeling “worthy”. I tried to “prove” I could make my marriage work, and that I was such a good wife that he would miraculously change from his “evil ways” and come to me with revelation that I was his true love and would then become my hero, my perfect husband…if I “loved him” enough…then he would love me enough…
I confused “unconditional love” with “unconditional stay”.
I look back and laugh at myself now, because in all honesty, I had never once thought, “I can truly love and accept this man unconditionally, exactly as he is, right now.” My mind was always thinking of who he “could be” and what our future “could look like” if only he would change…
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As I got further along in my recovery (12-steps for codependency), and started taking responsibility for my life, feelings,  and happiness, I started seeing the benefit of staying in the marriage wasn’t so much that the relationship was turning out in my favor (it was certainly not!), nor hoping he would get sober and become the man of my dreams (definitely never happened), but that *I* was becoming the person of MY dreams. I was starting to see things about myself that I had never wanted to acknowledge. I was healing parts of myself that were neglected for so long. My blurred vision of reality was starting to become clear. By staying in the marriage, I was able to use the triggers as “opportunities”. I call them AFGOs (Another F-ing Growth Opportunity).
When my husband did something that triggered me, I noted it as an AFGO. Pretty soon, I got pretty skilled at dealing with all the AFGOs (being married to an addict, AFGOs are always in plentiful supply!).
My addict husband unknowingly served as the catalyst for me to break through my limitations by destroying the very foundation of my existence, and from those burning embers, I was to rebuild myself. The greatest relationship I had ever had- who knew!?- was with a sex addict, gambling addict, alcoholic. He tore up my precious ego, challenged the ideas I had of myself, and exposed my personal flaws that were keeping me from claiming my true potential… and the whole process hurt like hell…oh it hurt like hell…
Unknowingly, this man took all those ideas and expectations I had about life and pried them from my death gripping hands, forcing me to to become vulnerable. The fight stressed me, shredded me to pieces, and pushed me to my limits…finally fallen to my rock bottom, I had only two choices…Stay down or grow up! I had to grow up.
Still, I stayed. But this time, my choice to stay was no longer about the relationship. It was no longer about getting anything, or of any outcome. It was about taking my AFGO and running with it, to use it to my full advantage. I was determined to overcome this.
Dr. Wayne Dyer says people like this are like turds that won’t flush. We keep flushing but they’re still there! You keep trying and trying and they’re back again. Instead of being upset every time they do or say something, eventually, I realized, I had to learn how to allow their presence without letting it get me into a crazy mess. Once I figured that out, I was able to leave the relationship. He had nothing left to offer and I had nothing left to give.
I wouldn’t change a thing about my past. To this day, I honor him. It was the best thing that ever happened to me.

The Little Soul & The Sun

Once upon no time, there was a little Soul who said to God, “I know who I am.”

And God said, “That’s wonderful! Who are you?”

And the Little Soul shouted, “I’m the Light!”

God smiled a big smile. “That’s right!” God exclaimed. “You are the Light.”

The Little Soul was so happy, for it had figured out what all the souls in the Kingdom were there to figure out.

“Wow,” said the Little Soul, “this is really cool!”

But soon, knowing who it was was not enough. The Little Soul felt stirrings inside, and now wanted to be who it was. And so the Little Soul went back to God (which is not a bad idea for all souls who want to be Who They Really Are) and said,

“Hi, God! Now that I know Who I am, is it okay for me to be it?”

And God said, “You mean you want to be Who You Already Are?”

“Well,” replied the Little Soul,” it’s one thing to know Who I Am, and another thing altogether to actually be it. I want to feel what it’s like to be the Light!”

“But you already are the Light,” God repeated, smiling again.

“Yes, but I want to see what that feels like!” cried the Little Soul.

“Well,” said God with a chuckle, “I suppose I should have known. You always were the adventuresome one.”

Then God’s expression changed. “There’s only one thing…”

“What?” asked the Little Soul.

“Well, there is nothing else but the Light. You see, I created nothing but what you are; and so, there is no easy way for you to experience yourself as Who You Are, since there is nothing that you are not.”

“Huh?” said the Little Soul, who was now a little confused.

“Think of it this way,” said God. “You are like a candle in the Sun. Oh, you’re there all right. Along with a million, gazillion other candles who make up the Sun. And the sun would not be the Sun without you. Nay, it would be a sun without one of its candles…and that would not be the Sun at all; for it would not shine as brightly. Yet, how to know yourself as the Light when you are amidst the Light -that is the question.”

“Well,” the Little Soul perked up, “you’re God. Think of something!”

Once more God smiled. “I already have,” God said. “Since you cannot see yourself as the Light when you are in the Light, we’ll surround you with darkness.”

“What’s darkness?” the Little Soul asked.

God replied, “It is that which you are not.”

“Will I be afraid of the dark?” cried the Little Soul.

“Only if you choose to be,” God answered. “There is nothing, really, to be afraid of, unless you decide that there is. You see, we are making it all up. We are pretending.”

“Oh,” said the Little Soul, and felt better already.

Then God explained that, in order to experience anything at all, the exact opposite of it will appear. “It is a great gift,” God said, “because without it, you could not know what anything is like. You could not know Warm without Cold, Up without Down, Fast without Slow. You could not know Left without Right, Here without There, Now without Then.”

“And so,” God concluded, “when you are surrounded with darkness, do not shake your fist and raise your voice and curse the darkness. Rather be a Light unto the darkness, and don’t be mad about it. Then you will know Who You Really Are, and all others will know, too. Let your Light shine so that everyone will know how special you are!”

“You mean it’s okay to let others see how special I am?” asked the Little Soul.

“Of course!” God chuckled. “It’s very okay! But remember,’special’ does not mean ‘better.’ Everybody is special, each in their own way! Yet many others have forgotten that. They will see that it is okay for them to be special only when you see that it is okay for you to be special.”

“Wow,” said the Little Soul, dancing and skipping and laughing and jumping with joy. “I can be as special as I want to be!”

“Yes, and you can start right now,” said God, who was dancing and skipping and laughing right along with the Little Soul.

“What part of special do you want to be?”

“What part of special?” the Little Soul repeated. “I don’t understand.”

“Well,” God explained, “being the Light is being special, and being special has a lot of parts to it. It is special to be kind. It is special to be gentle. It is special to be creative. It is special to be patient. Can you think of any other ways it is special to be?”

The Little Soul sat quietly for a moment. “I can think of lots of ways to be special!” the Little Soul then exclaimed. “It is special to be helpful. It is special to be sharing. It is special to be friendly. It is special to be considerate of others!”

“Yes!” God agreed, “and you can be all of those things, or any part of special you wish to be, at any moment. That’s what it means to be the Light.”

“I know what I want to be, I know what I want to be!” the Little Soul announced with great excitement. “I want to be the part of special called ‘forgiving’. Isn’t it special to be forgiving?”

“Oh, yes,” God assured the Little Soul. “That is very special.”

“Okay,” said the Little Soul. “That’s what I want to be. I want to be forgiving. I want to experience myself as that.”

“Good,” said God, “but there’s one thing you should know.”

The Little Soul was becoming a bit impatient now. It always seemed as though there were some complication.

“What is it?” the Little Soul sighed.

“There is no one to forgive.”

“No one?” The Little Soul could hardly believe what had been said.

“No one!” God repeated. “Everything I have made is perfect. There is not a single soul in all creation less perfect than you. Look around you.”

It was then that the Little Soul realized a large crowd had gathered. Souls had come from far and wide ~ from all over the Kingdom ~ for the word had gone forth that the Little Soul was having this extraordinary conversation with God, and everyone wanted to hear what they were saying. Looking at the countless other souls gathered there, the Little Soul had to agree. None appeared less wonderful, less magnificent, or less perfect than the Little Soul itself. Such was the wonder of the souls gathered around, and so bright was their Light, that the Little Soul could scarcely gaze upon them.

“Who, then, to forgive?” asked God.

“Boy, this is going to be no fun at all!” grumbled the Little Soul. “I wanted to experience myself as One Who Forgives. I wanted to know what that part of special felt like.”

And the Little Soul learned what it must feel like to be sad. But just then a Friendly Soul stepped forward from the crowd.

“Not to worry, Little Soul,” the Friendly Soul said, “I will help you.”

“You will?” the Little Soul brightened. “But what can you do?”

“Why, I can give you someone to forgive!”

“You can?”

“Certainly!” chirped the Friendly Soul. “I can come into your next lifetime and do something for you to forgive.”

“But why? Why would you do that?” the Little Soul asked. “You, who are a Being of such utter perfection! You, who vibrate with such a speed that it creates a Light so bright that I can hardly gaze upon you! What could cause you to want to slow down your vibration to such a speed that your bright Light would become dark and dense? What could cause you ~ who are so light that you dance upon the stars and move through the Kingdom with the speed of your thought–to come into my life and make yourself so heavy that you could do this bad thing?”

“Simple,” the Friendly Soul said. “I would do it because I love you.”

The Little Soul seemed surprised at the answer.

“Don’t be so amazed,” said the Friendly Soul, “you have done the same thing for me. Don’t you remember? Oh, we have danced together, you and I, many times. Through the eons and across all the ages have we danced. Across all time and in many places have we played together. You just don’t remember.”

“We have both been All Of It. We have been the Up and the Down of it, the Left and the Right of it. We have been the Here and the There of it, the Now and the Then of it. We have been the male and the female, the good and the bad; we have both been the victim and the villain of it.”

“Thus have we come together, you and I, many times before; each bringing to the other the exact and perfect opportunity to Express and to Experience Who We Really Are. And so,” the Friendly Soul explained further, “I will come into your next lifetime and be the ‘bad one’ this time. I will do something really terrible, and then you can experience yourself as the One Who Forgives.

“But what will you do?” the Little Soul asked, just a little nervously, “that will be so terrible?”

“Oh,” replied the Friendly Soul with a twinkle, “we’ll think of something.”

Then the Friendly Soul seemed to turn serious, and said in a quiet voice, “You are right about one thing, you know.”

“What is that?” the Little Soul wanted to know.

“I will have to slow down my vibration and become very heavy to do this not-so-nice thing. I will have to pretend to be something very unlike myself. And so, I have but one favour to ask of you in return.”

“Oh, anything, anything!” cried the Little Soul, and began to dance and sing, “I get to be forgiving, I get to be forgiving!”

Then the Little Soul saw that the Friendly Soul was remaining very quiet.

“What is it?” the Little Soul asked. “What can I do for you? You are such an angel to be willing to do this for me!”

“Of course this Friendly Soul is an angel!” God interrupted. “Everyone is! Always remember: I have sent you nothing but angels.”

And so the Little Soul wanted more than ever to grant the Friendly Soul’s request. “What can I do for you?” the Little Soul asked again.

“In the moment that I strike you and smite you,” the Friendly Soul replied, “in the moment that I do the worst to you that you could possible imagine ~ in that very moment…”

“Yes?” the Little Soul interrupted, “yes…?””Remember Who I Really Am.”

“Oh, I will!” cried the Little Soul, “I promise! I will always remember you as I see you right here, right now!”

“Good,” said the Friendly Soul, “because, you see, I will have been pretending so hard, I will have forgotten myself. And if you do not remember me as I really am, I may not be able to remember for a very long time. And if I forget Who I Am, you may even forget Who You Are, and we will both be lost. Then we will need another soul to come along and remind us both of Who We Are.”

“No, we won’t!” the Little Soul promised again. “I will remember you! And I will thank you for bringing me this gift ~ the chance to experience myself as Who I Am.

” And so, the agreement was made. And the Little Soul went forth into a new lifetime, excited to be the Light, which was very special, and excited to be that part of special called Forgiveness.

And the Little Soul waited anxiously to be able to experience itself as Forgiveness, and to thank whatever other soul made it possible. And at all the moments in that new lifetime, whenever a new soul appeared on the scene, whether that new soul brought joy or sadness–and especially if it brought sadness–the Little Soul thought of what God had said.

“Always remember,” God had smiled, “I have sent you nothing but angels.”

by Neale Donald Walsch, Conversations With God