Recovering from Emotional Pain

Recovering from Emotional Pain

“Givers need to set limits because takers rarely do.” ~Rachel Wolchin

The month of June we’ve summed up with the phrase, “the shit show.” There were a lot personal things that happened to us as a family. Things that I’m not at liberty to discuss because I would never out someone for personal satisfaction. I will, however, talk about us during the shit show.

Dom and I have always felt we had much to give. At times we give until it hurts, and then we give some more. But we don’t give blindly. We give to others based on patterns we see in their lives. If we feel they are doing all they can but just can’t seem to get it all together, we’ll come alongside and help in whatever way it might be. It could be a construction project, helping to pay a bill or two, a listening ear, a meal, or even just some coffee to let them know they’re thought of fondly. We give as we see the needs open up. It’s in our nature.

It led us to Maine and on that crazy odyssey I’ve written about on our website. Helping others. Yes. Being taken advantage…yes, that happened too.

But this isn’t a sob story about how others have wronged us. This is a song of victory about how we find out who our people are and who is just using us. Sob stories always involve someone who was “trying” to help someone and got burned. They got bilked out of their money or life savings or some other story like that. It’s the little old lady who’s pills were taken by the unsuspecting drug addict posing as a kind neighbor. Or the lovely but lonely person who had their things stolen by someone who claimed to be a friend.

Crimes happen most often by people the victims knew.

This is similar to what we’ve been through. However, the difference is that as we came to understand we were being taken for a “ride,” we put our foot down and said no…no more.

But does that work? Nope.

We blame ourselves only and take full responsibility for our actions that led to others taking too much from us. No one else is to blame. As soon as we saw that our time and money have been siphoned away from us, we put a stop to it.

There are patterns that we’ve learned over this last year that I feel have helped us reach the end chapter of our four-year odyssey. These patterns are important to understand especially if we want to move forward in our lives.

These patterns don’t look like patterns because it takes time for them to form. When friends and family are involved, the lines to those patterns become fuzzy, blurred, or missing altogether.

How do we really know who needs our help? How do we help without becoming jaded and losing all faith in humanity when we get burned?

The answer, we discovered, has more to do with their conduct and less to do with how we want to help. We used to help others because we didn’t want to see them suffer. It seems noble right? Well, I’m here to tell you that in our case it was nothing more than not wanting to feel BAD or guilty…especially if it was in our power to help. Did you get what I just said? It would seem that our desire to help certain people was really done out of an alterior motive of not wanting to feel bad. It really had nothing to do with the other person.

Now, add to the mix, someone who has done something terrible to your family. They lied, they stole from you, took all your time, and then cried and flipped it all on its head to make us the bad guys. What do we do in that situation? Do we cave in and just let it go? Or do we love ourselves enough not to do something because we feel “bad.” Emotions are powerful things. When people start using your emotions against you, that should be a red flag.

Let’s talk about red flags!

Red flags are those almost invisible things that warn you someone is trying to pull one over on you or isn’t who they keep claiming to be.

My list of red flags:

  1. Someone who never quite gives you all the details, but claims they were wronged. They need help, but you can’t seem to get the truth out of them.
  2. A person who at first seemed to hit it off with you, but over time they pull away and you are left as the only one who communicates with them, and instead of good communication you get a vague sentence or two about nothing at all. You might be willing to chalk it up to “hey we all get busy with our lives” but don’t go there. Just because YOU get busy, doesn’t mean that person who is always on their phone or computer, is busy.
  3. The time suck. This is a HUGE red flag. If a good majority of your own personal free time is taken up with someone else’s problems, which they refuse to handle themselves, you are being taken for a long hard ride down victim ally. Don’t go there. Examples would include doing hard physical labor for someone who could do it themselves but want you to do it for them for free. Driving them places because they no longer have valid insurance due to nonpayment. Paying their bills because they spent their money on “wants” not needs and don’t even have a job or work schedule is sketchy.
  4. Someone asking you to be responsible for their _________ fill in the blank, because they can’t do it. They don’t want to face the consequences for their actions, they want you to be responsible for their stuff or life in general, and will make you feel guilty if you don’t do it. This has a LOT to do with paying for someone else’s lifestyle choices. BLOOD SOAKED RED FLAG.
  5. Someone who claims they have done so much for you, however, nothing was given freely. Instead, you paid fair and square. It would be like if someone sold you a car for $12,000. The car had great sentimental value to the seller. You purchased the car from them. You go on your merry way, and later on, the seller comes back to you wanting something, and when you refuse, they claimed they did something great for you. What did they do? They sold you a car, you purchased the car. It wasn’t given to you. You purchased it with your hard earned money. Don’t ever let anyone make you believe that they gave you so much when there was a price tag attached and you paid in full.
  6. Someone who claims to be one way and talks all the time about being honest, ethical, moral (fill in the blank), and by their constant actions prove they are liars and the opposite of what they claim. Liars always tell the truth…remember that! They’ll tell you with their actions when their words betray them.
  7. If you’re investing more time and money into a friendship and it doesn’t seem that it’s a reciprocal relationship, it might be time to reprioritize. What is happening is that you are allowing yourself to be used, and it isn’t a friendship at all.

Those are just a few red flags. There are many more that I could write, but this post isn’t about red flags. It’s about understanding ourselves and how we move forward despite having our asses handed to us because of the decisions we made.

I refuse to be a victim. One thing both Dom and I say to each other when we feel wronged is, “Victim is not a good look on you.” That is code for change your attitude, you did this to yourself.

It doesn’t mean that we sweep being wronged under the rug. No, on the contrary, it means that we hold those who have wronged us responsible. To not hold them accountable is to remain a victim. We hold them to account for what they have done to us. We do this because we love ourselves and each other. I would never allow anyone to take advantage of my husband’s generous nature. If I saw it happening, I’d nip it immediately. But when we have together made decisions to allow certain people into our lives or to give when we don’t know the full story, we invite uncertainty and become vulnerable. There’s strength in vulnerability and we’ve learned to embrace it. It says to the new person in our lives, “We have no reason not to trust you, but if you give us a reason we will have no choice but to let you go.”

Letting go of people or situations is difficult for some. In a way, it means giving up. But not to us. Letting go is how we say “I love you” to our own souls. It dares us to allow our souls to shine. It dares us to keep our hearts soft and malleable when all our emotions want us to recoil in bitterness and resentment. Letting go also means that those you’ve invested your time and love into are being released from your life. It’s like grieving the loss of a friend or family member while they are still alive.

For us, letting go of friendships have been difficult. We love deeply and fully, and when we need to say goodbye, we realize just how much we’ve invested. When we realize that we made the right choice in letting go of someone, we get to see what they are really made of.

This brings us to the chorus of our victory song, so to speak….

When a friendship or relationship ends, you get to see their true colors unless their true colors were there all along hiding in plain sight. No, the chorus of our victory song is about making the correct choice in ending a friendship and watching that person become destructive, vindictive, and violent as a consequence of our decision. These are all real actions. The person who says they love peace, truth, and love, but destroys your property and puts your child at risk…which would be more accurate? Their words or their actions? It doesn’t feel good while something violent is being done, but it becomes a solidification that you did the right thing in letting that person go.

I might strike a nerve with some in what I’ve expressed. Mostly because we all want to give. But you are responsible for your giving. You might believe that you are doing it out of good will because your heart hurts for this person in need. Just remember, regardless of the outcome of your giving, you are still responsible for your actions. Giving to others never absolves you from being accountable for your actions. Giving to others is very similar to making an investment in something. Would you invest in a company on the stock market that would lose all your money or would you invest wisely? What would happen if you invested and all your money was lost? Would you blame the company or your decision-making process? I know that I wouldn’t blame the company if they lost money, I’d hold myself accountable for not doing the do diligence it takes to make a wise investment.

Relationships are almost the same as investing in stocks except that with bad relationships if you’re not careful you could end up losing your integrity if you don’t stay true to your soul. And that is more costly than any dollar figure you could throw out there.

As we close the last chapter of Our Nightmare Four Year Odyssey, I can say with all certainty that investing in the right relationships will help heal the wounds from bad investments. Forgive yourselves for making the wrong choices, and love yourself enough to make new friends. Invest in yourself by being a true friend to your soul. You won’t be disappointed and it will help you recover from the emotional pain of being personally accountable.

Understanding My Own Inner Dialogue

Understanding My Own Inner Dialogue

Something has happened to my rich inner silence. I don’t know if it’s the fact that I’m nearing 50 years old or if I’m just changing but I used to have a very deep sense of silence in me. For a very long time, there was no inner dialogue. I never thought of myself as stupid if I made a wrong choice, I didn’t wonder why people would make the choices they do…I just didn’t think that way. I had a silent mind in terms of speaking to myself. In times of abject vulnerability I have been known to say things about myself that were less than kind but for the most part, I don’t carry the burden of self-hate. In my early life as a pre-teen and young adult, I did have a LOT to say inwardly about my outward appearance, which lead to an eating disorder. But that was a very long time ago. I silenced that voice that said I wasn’t worthy if I wasn’t “thin.”

There were grunts and groans in my soul, but none that expressed itself in a way that made sense. Until now. My mind has grown chatty. I have an opinion about everything, even if I don’t express it. My brain is on fire now with loads of inner dialogue. And yet, I’m surprised by it; thrilled to finally hear my own inner thoughts. How did this happen? What caused me to break from that joyful deep silence I enjoyed for so long?

I have never been one to NOT have an opinion. If you ask me a question, I’ll give you an answer. Dialogue with others I can do. It’s this interesting inner dialogue that has me intrigued. Nonetheless, I embrace this emerging new sense of self.

I often hear other people’s inner dialogue when they say things like, “I’m an idiot because I don’t know how to talk to others,” or “I look so ugly in that photo,” or “If I could do life over again…” fill in the blank.

How many of you have a sharp critical inner dialogue? It’s that voice that tells you-you’re not good enough, thin enough, pretty enough, smart enough, daring enough, and on and on. Those voices are cutting and designed to keep you in the dark about your true worth.

My dirty secret is that I don’t have a critical inner dialogue. I don’t second guess who I am, how I live, how I love, or even my own being.

I can state the obvious without attaching worth to it. Do you know how to do that? Take for instance the featured photo of my gorgeous daughter Shoshannah and me. The photo was taken on June 8th at her wedding. My son Noah was commenting to his girlfriend, “Mom doesn’t like to have her photo taken.” I had to think about that for a moment and I started to wonder why. I didn’t wonder why he said it, because it was true, I don’t like to have my picture taken…but why? I thought about that question from the time the first photo was taken until I got home last night from Maryland.

My inner dialogue got jump started. And I finally knew the answer! The obvious answer (which is wrong) would be that I don’t like the way I look. That’s not true. I actually love everything about my body and the way I look. It’s me. It’s who I am in the flesh. The real answer is that photos of me have never reflected who I am inwardly…but how can they? The whole thing almost feels like a weird riddle. So I don’t enjoy seeing photos of myself. It’s like that old saying, “Never judge a book by its cover.” Photographs feel like a betrayal to me. I don’t know if that makes sense, but that’s why I don’t like them. I never have, even as a child. I never liked having to stand and smile, or sit and gum it up for the camera. It feels weird and makes me feel out of place and completely uncomfortable. It’s a good solid reason why I don’t have loads of selfies. I don’t find enjoyment or pleasure in seeing photos of myself, but I do know that those who love me, want to see me in a photo. I much prefer to be behind the camera capturing moment to moment life as it happens. However, I will say that even if I’m behind the camera, I HATE posed photos.

Where was I? Oh, yes, being fat…

The beauty standards of the modern age would have you believe that because I’m fat, I must hate myself or devalue my own sense of self-worth. Even when I say out loud “I’m fat” or “I’m a big girl” or “Where’s the fat lady store, I need to get a dress for the wedding” I’m met with shock as though saying I’m fat was a bad thing. My worth is not tied to my outward appearance. Being fat is a symptom of having a mitochondrial illness. It is nothing more than a sign that something is seriously wrong with my body and I’m doing everything I can to figure that out.

I came to a place of body acceptance about four years ago. I didn’t always accept my body although I loved myself fully. I hated that it betrayed me at every twist and turn. Ever since I contracted Lyme’s Disease in 1993, my body has never been the same. I’ve spent half my life dealing with the ravages of autoimmune disorders, environmental sickness, mitochondrial problems, and the only thing anyone could see is what? My fat?

I’m fat. There, I said it. Now you say it and let’s clear the air, because it’s no secret nor is there anything to be ashamed of, unless, your personal worth is tied to how you look on the outside.

I’m also kind, exceptionally generous, wise, understanding, warm, intelligent, amazingly loving (even if you don’t deserve it), worthy, joyful, interesting, fully engaging, a good friend, very resourceful, a businesswoman, a mother, a wife, a lover, a healer, and one who doesn’t take this life for granted.

I. am. worthy.

What does your inner dialogue say about you? We hear people’s thoughts all the time. I often hear people who have lost massive amounts of weight shame their own bodies when they were big. They shame their former body betraying themselves with harsh words and criticism as though it’s all different now that they are thin. Not true. The devaluation and loathing of our physical form doesn’t allow us to accept ourselves as we are. We desperately want others to accept us as we are, and yet, we shame ourselves at every turn, betraying our own beings. And for what? The loss of a few pounds?

My inner dialogue inwardly stirred and started to rumble when my son’s girlfriend Aizlin sent me photos of me at the wedding.

What was stirring? Deep compassion and understanding for where I am in healing my body and feeling like my ankles were going to pop off in those shoes. Yes, that last part was a joke, but so very true. My body doesn’t handle environmental stresses very well and it always retaliates by exploding on me. Being gentle with myself is of the utmost importance if I am to heal.

I am not well, but I am getting better. Everyday day I get a little stronger. My heart feels like it will burst with each new day because I know I am one step closer to reaching my goal of complete healing.

Often people at my age look at photos of themselves or their peers and think, “You look so OLD!” and with that begins the journey of trying to look like they are 25 years old again. I don’t want to be 25. In 20 years I want to look back at myself in appreciation of where I was at that time in my life and how much I loved myself. I love myself enough to try new things even if they might seem crazy to others, all in an effort to stay off of all medications and steroids. I refuse to bow down to the illnesses that ravage my body. Instead, I boldly try to make my life better. Isn’t it amazing how we will go to the ends of the earth for our loved ones…walk through fire if need be, but when it comes to our own person, we won’t even act kindly towards ourselves?

Love and acceptance of our outer selves help to soothe the restless soul. A restless soul is one that longs for us to be fully present. It longs for us to say beautiful things about our own being. Our souls have immeasurable worth if only our conscious and unconscious minds would acknowledge it.

Our society has a lot to say about outward beauty. But outward beauty cannot instill a true sense of worth. It can only invoke desire and/or inspiration, and neither of those things feeds our souls or make us whole.

Let us strive each day to love ourselves more deeply. To silence the word “perfection” or “perfect” from our vocabulary because there is no such thing as perfection. Perfection implies that one can do no better, that they could never be more. We can always improve, strive to be the best version of ourselves we can be. That doesn’t make us perfect, but it does make our souls sing.