mindingmybiz

This blog is my shared process in working towards integrating self-awareness with all other aspects of life, while on my way to becoming more authentic and whole.

Archive for the tag “personal growth”

Innocent Bystanders of Parental Wrath

poison injectionThe unfortunate phenomenon of kids being poisoned by a parent’s (or any adult caretaker’s) rage towards another adult in a kid’s family is so nasty, but all too common.  Why are parents so oblivious to the damage they are inflicting onto their child out of their anger towards someone other than their innocent child?

Seriously.  Wake Up.  Open your eyes and look at who the recipient of your rage really is -your innocent child.  Such seething and reckless anger dangerously injects the wrong target – your children – when it is acted out by them being dragged into something that is really none of their business.  Please – for the sake of these children, own your anger, work through it in conscious, productive, and healthy ways.  Find it worthy to muster up enough courage to get help as needed in order to do this.

Common scenario:  A kid’s parent (or adult caregiver) becomes embittered towards another adult in their child’s life — perhaps their other parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, etc., and the embittered parent responds by injecting the CHILD with harmful anecdotal accounts portraying the other adult as not loving the child in some way.  This is done to rally support, garner sympathy, and often in older children can nurse a grudge or put a wedge up in between the child and the other adult where there otherwise would not be one, while simultaneously coercing the child to choose loyalties and protect the parent who is in fact the one injecting them with this poisonous vengeance.  This is often done in the guise of being a victim.  It’s highly effective with children because it exploits their innocence, vulnerability, and dependability on the adult who is initiating this tactic.  It’s sickly manipulative when it continues as a pattern after chances to correct and amend it have been neglected.

I realize there are indeed incidents where a parent in a child’s life truly makes the outright decision to abandon and abdicate their rights and responsibilities that come with providing care for their own child.  That is not what I am referring to in this post.  When that happens, the adult(s) that remain in the child’s life who want to support that child need to intentionally provide healing for the abandonment and neglect of the parent that fled.  This often involves sharing the hurtful truth in a sensitive way that is focused on the child’s feelings and self-concept following parental abandonment.  This is not done by emphasizing how the parent who left did not love them or want them.  That is not why a parent fleas, it is because a parent does not have the wherewithal to be a parent.  This has nothing to do with the child’s loveability or worth.  It is about the parent’s extreme limits, not about the limits of the child’s worthiness of love and care.

When one parent is hurt and angry by the other parent, and they turn around and tell their child that daddy or mommy doesn’t love them and want to see them, that is injecting the child with poison because you’re angry at the other parent.  The child is an innocent bystander that has now become the recipient of your wrath.  How is this loving and fair to the child?  It’s not at all.  It is harmful, and though it is hard and often requires a ton of courage and help to avoid doing – it is completely preventable and up to you to take on, for the sake of your own child as well as your own well being.

I get how difficult it is to not act out of spite when you are hurt and feeling completely wronged by your ex or some other adult in your child’s life.  But your child shouldn’t be expected to be so understanding as they get dragged into something they didn’t cause.  They are innocent and do not need to get dragged in the middle.  So please – get help to keep them out of it.  Get honest with yourself.  If you’re struggling to protect your children from your own pain and bitterness, no matter how valid your pain and bitterness may be, it is never valid to throw your child in the midst of it and inject them with poison as you seethe with anger towards your ex or whomever the adult is that you are actually angry at.

 

Calculated Vulnerability

bleeding heartsVulnerability.

This word is attracting a lot of attention lately.  And it’s earned it.  By its presence, vulnerability has a unique potential to expedite deep connection and intimacy within your closest relationships.  But just because you’re stripping yourself down and risking yourself by becoming vulnerable, doesn’t mean you’re practicing vulnerability in the way it’s earned its due respect.   I believe I’ve got enough personal experience to base this conviction off of.  I have explored venturing out into the territory of vulnerability.  And overall, I have had enough good experiences of becoming vulnerable, to counter the painful experiences, to give vulnerability much respect.  But at the same time, I’ve had enough painful experiences to teach me to avoid practicing vulnerability in a reckless or uncalculated way, albeit I’m continually learning as I go.

I’ve learned to practice calculated vulnerability.  Even though I’ve experienced wounds after being vulnerable with people, or within certain contexts which were not suitable for me to do that in, it’s undeniably still worth it to me.  The small but growing evidence of experiencing vulnerability’s dividends paying off are so rich and rewarding, that the wounds cannot override the rewards.  It doesn’t mean I don’t feel the fear or am acutely aware of the risks, or it wouldn’t even BE vulnerability in action.  I still feel the fear, yet I can do it anyway.

Vulnerability is a very rare and indispensable quality when a trusting connection is valued in a relationship.  Even if the word is heard and talked about a lot, the actual embodiment of it is not commonplace, but there’s more to it than just becoming vulnerable for the sake of becoming vulnerable when bringing conscious awareness to it.

Conscious vulnerability comes from a place within, where there is enough inner strength and courage to take that calculated risk within a relationship, for the desired outcome of moving closer and feeling more connected.  This is what makes it worth it.  If it doesn’t go the way you want though, you will feel some pain, to varying degrees depending on the context.  If you would not feel any pain, there is nothing to risk and therefore you are not being vulnerable.

Calculated vulnerability is not demanding that you relinquish your personal power.  A conscious choice to make yourself vulnerable and take a risk with someone stems from your personal sense of power and courage.  This is one reason I believe, many people avoid it, at least it was for me.  When there is a void within, there’s no footing to provide the solid grounding to hold one up when the storms come.  Like a tree with deep roots, the wind may blow hard, but it will not uproot it because of its deep, strong roots underground.  Without being rooted in your own personal power, you are rooted in something else, perhaps subconscious fear, which likely will result in you feeling like a victim if it doesn’t go the way you want.  Self-resentment is likely to ensue, as well as feeling resentful toward this other person for victimizing you.

I used to think people were weak for being so “needy” or when they seemed to have emotional pain and needs or longings.  I see things differently now.  Vulnerability takes great inner strength.  Knowing, seeing, and accepting me and my human needs while surrounding myself with others who are pursing that for themselves and others, nurtures inner strength.

I have been vulnerable with others, not always from a conscious place that was rooted in my own personal power though, and I felt like I needed to control the outcome and the other’s response.  It rarely went well, if ever.  But when I am making the conscious choice to uncover a covered part of me and to bear my soul to another, while it still renders me feeling vulnerable towards being rejected in some way, I can do it with receptiveness to seeing how the other person receives me.  I don’t take it as personally, even though I can still feel an initial sting, it isn’t so much about just me anymore.

Relationships involve taking risks.  I am learning how to take calculated risks when I’m being consciously aware of two dynamics coupled with each other.  The first is what I want for and in the relationship; my desires and longings.  And second, what I’ve observed myself experiencing within the relationship thus far with said person.  Meaning how much I trust and feel this is suitable to warrant taking this risk.  Nothing is for certain but I am consciously calculating these two dynamics and self reflecting as I go.

I also have learned that I have a role to play in how this may turn out by how I approach the other person.  How can I be honest and true to myself, while doing my best to set them up to get it right with me?  If I am hurt or somehow put off by something the other person has done or left undone, do I approach this with harsh criticism, passive-aggressive jabs, or stonewalling (an extreme avoidance)?  Or, do I approach this with opening up from a curious (giving the benefit of the doubt) and vulnerable position, sharing how I am struggling and feeling this out, while trying to more fully understand what’s going on.  When I am afraid, angry, confused, and set off, it is very hard to come to the other person from a vulnerable place.  My tendency has been to come out with either my boxing gloves on or to resentfully withdraw with my middle finger up, in an attempt to protect myself.  Yet I am learning that is how intimacy is usually sabotaged, not protected and grown, in the inevitable midst of conflict.

Owning my power by being vulnerable, which is actually more emotionally honest and straight-up, I can then move forward and not fall back into wanting to either fight or shut-off.  I am putting enough trust in myself to handle whatever comes and being ready for it, even if it stings for a little while.  I don’t do this with all of my relationships to the same degree.  No, I’ve learned I need to exercise discernment based on those two parts of the equation for calculated vulnerability to show up – 1) My desire for the relationship 2) How much I trust this other person and the capacity of the relationship to carry this, even if it gets messy.  It’s a calculated risk.

Calculated vulnerability comes from a place of empowerment, not helplessness and it takes both courage AND wisdom.

 

Wanna Tango?

tangoIf you ever want to evolve and grow into your most authentic self — show up in your intimate adult relationship and highly VALUE the relationship and the other person, while valuing yourself all at the same time.  If you devalue yourself, your partner, or the relationship when you face adversity, it won’t grow you much, it will only stunt and restrict your growth.  If you’re OK with THAT- then be OK with not valuing this process enough to jump into the puddle when it rains and pours.  And then at least have the decency to communicate this to your partner – that you are signing up as a casual partner, not an intimate one.  If you want more – then jump in, the rainbow will come.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be a romantic relationship either, as I’ve experienced deep growth in reciprocal friendships with my closest female friends, but romantic relationships sure heighten the intensity and turn up the heat like no other.  It may feel like an excavation and demolition project at times, but that’s when you know…you KNOW you’re dealing with REAL potential for true healing and growth if you and your partner can hang in there while staying emotionally present and honest, albeit doing it imperfectly along the way, yet not giving up on the relationship.  It’s worth it, but it ain’t for the faint at heart.

This is where iron sharpens iron like no other.  I cannot do this while being in a relationship where there is little to no reciprocity, or where there is inequality, because that is not much of a partnership.  There isn’t a superior or inferior position in the relationship, both partners and their experiences are equally valued.  An intimate relationship is much like an intimate dance between two partners, like the Tango, and it takes two – not one – to Tango, or it’s not a Tango, it’s a solo dance with a passive spectator.

As much as I like to dance solo from time to time, to feel free to move to the music in the way my body feels compelled to do without anyone else disrupting my flow, that is not what I want my intimate relationship with my romantic partner to resemble.  That is not an intimate relationship to me, though it doesn’t mean solo dancing never happens either.  Tango dancing is different from line-dancing, they both involve more than one person, but the interpersonal dynamics are much more riveting because you are vulnerable and so is your partner because of the interdependence involved in Tango dancing.  I am not a dance expert, but it doesn’t take an expert to notice how intimate the Tango dance is.  Line-dancing is two or more people dancing without deep interdependence, synchronicity -yes, interdependence, not so much.  When I think of Tango dancing, I think of integration that involves each individual’s uniqueness.  I don’t think you lose your uniqueness or distinct person-hood, you own it and incorporate it.  There is a unique type of unity in the Tango that shouldn’t be confused with conformity, which is what line-dancing is about – conformity, which is beautiful and takes skills to achieve, but it achieves conformity, not intimate interdependence.  In line-dancing, the other person can mess-up without it hugely impacting YOUR own dance moves, but in a dance such as the Tango, it will to varying degrees, impact YOUR dance moves, YOUR rhythm, YOUR groove and balance because there is up-close interdependence involved.  You cannot get away with playing the cavalier avoidant without courting disaster.

I’ve heard that good couples therapy can be as simple as taking Tango dance lessons with your partner.  The body talks without mincing words and it’s all about trusting your partner and yourself with both the right and left hemispheres of the brain (intellectually AND somatically/intuitively).  An intimate romantic relationship is all about giving and receiving, and the ripple effects of BOTH partners either moving or standing still.  This requires trust and repairing ruptures on a continual basis, while growing closer and closer together in the process.  It’s when this doesn’t happen for an extended period of time that the big betrayals are more likely to take place.  I personally don’t believe that major betrayals are immune from being repaired, but I think it’s in the “minor” or every day accumulative interactions that built, protect, and restore trust with major ruptures needing much more intensive actions and care than smaller ones of course, because the wound is much deeper.

A Tango dance – this is what mirrors an intimate relationship to me, a healthy one at least or the kind that I want.  Where I see and FEEL highly valued and relevant and so does my partner.  The relationship gets attention and nurturing or we lose track of each other and start stepping on one another’s feet, dropping one another when they need to be securely held, or leaving each other hanging.

I am learning all these things, sometimes painstakingly, because I have the gift of being in love and being loved in return where it looks like we are doing the figurative Tango with one another in how we relate or dance with each other day in and day out.  Being in tune with each other, and being conscious about nurturing and protecting this relationship while not having to carry the load on my own because it is a shared responsibility (not an obligated one) with my partner.  This is what makes adult romantically committed relationships work for me.  It is a gift that I thank god for every day – I have a partner to “Tango” with.

Coloring Outside of the Lines With My Questions

outside-the-lines 2014 is almost over.  In less than a month, I will hopefully be divorced.  This past year has been a long and bumpy road, but I chose to walk it even though I never hoped or planned for this.  Nonetheless, I am walking through this valley, be it as sloppy and imperfect as it is, I nevertheless made the conscience decision to walk through it the best I can.

My uphill battle is experienced mostly within, at the prompting of me taking in messages targeted at blaming and shaming me through upholding biased standards of perfection to my face that despite my best efforts, I cannot seem to meet or sustain meeting them for long.  The source of the pain that’s directed at me through blame and shame is real and valid.  It is human, yet I need to be mindful of what I will take on and what I will not.

I have gotten lost in the shuffle to gain approval from others, especially those who I thought were close to god and that god approved of, because that ultimately is what I was and am after – secure intimacy with the divine.

Who is god?  What is god like?  How do I feel his presence?  I want to feel fully known and fully loved, without feeling like I need to earn it or prove my loveability.  I’m trying to define what I am after, and it is this felt-sense of love and security that is just THERE, because that is the nature of love.  I do not need to fear being abandoned by love because of me being who I am.  I can rest securely in being me, and in being loved.  Why do I hunger for this?  Why is it so strong?  Why can’t I silence it without the painfully unwanted side effects of going numb inside?  This hunger for divine love calls me out and is relentless in getting met.  Why???  Is it because it is more available and accessible to me through experiencing and embracing this hunger for divine love instead of shutting it up?

In this current season of my life, I need to write out god’s name with a lower case ‘g’.  The uppercase spelling of god represents something to me that I am questioning because I fear it.  Love and fear at their core, have irreconcilable differences.  Love delivers security; fear delivers insecurity.  Love calms me; fear freezes me.  Love opens me up inside; fear closes me up inside.

What is love?  I read that god is love in the bible.  But what is the bible?  It is an ancient book written by humans who lived long ago, in a very different culture and historical setting.  What do I personally share in common with those humans who wrote texts that are included in the bible?  Well, for starters I share in common living on this planet called earth and interacting with the earth and all who share this earth through human flesh and blood.  So, there are some similarities that permeate through gender, racial, historical and other socio-cultural barriers.  But, how much of the writing in the bible is more of a representation of that particular culture’s context in which the writing came from, and how much of the bible’s writing is more of a representation of the timeless and ever relevant nature of the divine and of humanity?  Doesn’t god meet us where we are at?  But people in the bible were at a different place than I am at, due to a variety of factors like what they knew and didn’t know about the planet earth, humanity, neuroscience, human anatomy and other cultures and people far away from their own geographical locations. Many educated people in this time believed the earth was flat and that the earth was at the center of the universe, no?.  Yet, god still entered into the human race and met humanity where it was at within that specific time and culture.  That is what I take as the essence of the christmas story.  It was the divine entering into humanity as a fetus in a woman’s uterus and taking upon our limited human nature and experiencing that which only humans can experience through their human flesh and blood, no?  god had to enter into the human race through a particular culture (Jewish), at a particular point of history which enveloped their current understanding and discovery of science, medicine, politics, religion, culture, history, psychology, philosophy, etc., which defined and confined their understanding of what it is to experience being human and how the divine transcends those very humanly confined elements of socio-cultural/historical context.

I want love.  That’s all.  I want divine love, to receive it and redistribute it to those I come into meaningful contact with.  That is the artful masterpiece I’m envisioning within me.  It’s a work in progress, always.  I’m bringing it back to the basics, which is love.  Though I have areas of personal and unique weaknesses, strengths, wounds, talents, abilities, understandings, misunderstandings, shame, pride, fear, accomplishments, unfinished business – all which are still works in progress – I am totally human and I am a masterpiece because I was made by the divine, whom I call god, whom this book called the bible says is love and that seems to cross over sociocultural categories.

What does fear and love have to do with one another?  I keep finding myself coming back to a timeless and relevant message that resonates within me that I found in the bible:  “there is no fear in love.  but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment.  the one who fears is not made perfect in love.”  – 1 john 4:18

The masterpiece within me is my human heart which is fused with the divine, my essence is growing in perfect love, which drives out fear.  Divine love does not enlist or trust in the power of fear, because fear does have power; the power to coerce.  – Yuck.  I’m finding how repelling that is becoming to me.  That is not love, that is control based in fear.  Love transforms by driving out fear, not by eliciting it or by ignoring it, but by expelling it.

Jessie J’s song “Masterpiece” passionately captures how I interpret me in my current season with all that’s evolving within me.  I’m finding myself meditating on it and experiencing god’s presence.

my emerging scattered story

Broken-Mirror-collage-wall-art_thumbI’m in the process of picking up the scattered pieces of my life and trying to make sense out of it, out of me.  Integration.  Cohesiveness.  Wholeness.  In short: Who the fuck am I?  I want to move forward, not backwards.  I seek progression, not regression.  Yet I’m finding an integral part of my goals to moving forward comes with revisiting my past, however many times I need to for resolution.  Each revisit to the past will open up something that’s needed.

In going back to revisit my past, I realize that it feels like I’ve lived several different lives.

My Korean life was the first part of my 11 months of living.  Then after being adopted and coming to the United States at 11 months, I had no place to put that self other than to bury it deeply into an unconscious state.  That was my first “life” that was abruptly ended, without my choosing.  I cut that part away from me.  It was necessary for survival.  That’s survival 101 post-preverbal trauma in a nutshell.  It was obviously not a conscious decision, it happened on its own.  Survival for kids tends to take on a life of its own, without needing conscious permission from anyone.

I entered school as a minority, being raised by White parents.  That in and of itself should explain a lot of things.  If not, try imagining yourself (or your young child if you’re a parent) moving to a foreign country as a child, being raised by adults of a different race and you having a visibly drastic different look than the those who you depend on for survival and are surrounded by everywhere you go.  You’re a kid, you can’t escape it, not even in your own home.

In my adolescence, survival required that I find out who to be so I could fit in.  Seeking social acceptance amongst peers without a foundation of an integrated sense of self in place does things to kids.  Of course the kid wouldn’t know it, few adults seem to grasp it, even though it’s developmentally logical and makes perfect sense if you’re not looking at troubled kids through a lens of disdain through projection based on one’s own fragmented self.  Some adults don’t have that because it was brainwashed out of them through social conditioning towards conformity in their own lives.  Adulthood tends to do this if adults don’t fight the necessary battle to live consciously and authentically.  I have struggled with this pull myself.  It’s a human struggle.

One of my survival tactics when I was an adolescent was to dump all of my White friends and replace them exclusively with Asian friends.  If any of you are reading this now, I am sorry.  It was my attempt at an integrated self, while also trying to survive without a foundation of a coherent self yet.

Adoption has many complexities, and transracial adoption adds even more.  There are many beautiful aspects to adoption.  A child who lost her family and home is given one.  That in and of itself is beautiful.  But let’s not forget or pretend that there would not be an adoption without a traumatic loss preceding it.  Even with all the beautiful parts of adoption ensuing, they will never erase what took place which necessitated the adoption.  Loss.  Loss of what many people take for granted who perhaps were not adopted: family origins, family medical history, a birth mom, a birth father; all vital parts of what forms a human’s identity.  Lost.

Me revisiting parts of the past that I can remember is something I need to do, for me.  There are questions I have that will most likely never be answered.  Never.  That is part of the lost territory that comes with adoption.  I’ve accepted that.  I haven’t had much of a choice to do otherwise and I cannot afford to obsess or rearrange my life around trying to get those answers while abandoning the life I have built for myself in the present tense.  I have my own family now.  But I’m finding that the questions I do have that could be answered by the people I do have access to in my life today, need to be asked.  They may not get answered though, I can’t control that part.

When I was in high school, I hung out with other Koreans, dated an international student from Korea.  It was not a healthy relationship.  How could it be?  I was searching for something I didn’t even know I was searching for, my intangible elusive identity which when looking back, seems like it was playing hide-n-seek with me.  I was an adolescent to boot, of course I was searching for my identity in that relationship.  It was the perfect storm for unconscious longings/losses to arise and resolve.  It makes perfect sense to me.  At least now it does.

When I was in college, I felt myself distancing from my Korean/Asian friends after no longer sharing the bond of drunkenness together.  If any of you are reading this now, I am sorry.  After getting wasted and facing charges of a DWI even though I was honestly innocent, I got just enough conscious awareness to at least wake-up and realize “this is not the life I want, this is not who I want to try to be anymore”.  My search for who I really am, my real self, continued.  So, I joined the church.  I reasoned that even though I was an Asian-American, I was raised by White parents within a predominantly White culture within the church.  I reasoned, why not try to embrace that part of me?  My inner-White girl emerged.

When I joined the church as an active participant and embraced my “believer status” it had several effects on different parts of my life.  In looking back I did not find those experiences to be very integration friendly, at least not beyond theory.  I would not have known any better though, it was my familiar dance…just another version of what I’d lived through before–shoving parts of myself away in order to fit in with an external system.  This period of time in my life formed much of my adult belief system.  I was in my early-mid 20’s, and that is developmentally normal around that age, for anyone.

At this point, I was starting to become a little more sloppy at burying my former identities.  I got so good at survival out of necessity and habit, but it was starting to catch up to me, and yet I continued to do what I felt I needed to do in order to survive within the church social system — to not be condemned (survive).  I became an avid student of the Bible.  I could talk Bible.  I could debate Bible.  I could make myself survive.  I will not deny that a certain part of me was able to emerge and I liked her, I sharpened my intellect through becoming an amatuer feminist theologian, and am damn proud of it.  But, that part of me was still isolated from the other parts.  It became a good way to bury the former parts of me and resurrect ONLY the new “Christian” me, at least I subconsciously reasoned.

I did meet god, in a real, transcendent, and profound way during those years.  Even though I had fragmented identifies all over the place that I wasn’t even remotely aware of, he showed up and came to me.  Yet there were so many divisions between the scattered parts of my own self, it became harder to know which parts of “me” I consciously “allowed” god to meet.

And now present tense, me and god are introducing all parts of my life to one another.  I’m re-introducing parts of my own self to other parts of my own self, and emerging more whole, more integrated, more authentic, one step at a time.  god has always seen all of me, all my parts, the parts I like and take pride in, and the parts I don’t like and wish I could make them go away.  The way I see god and my own unique spirituality is slowly but surely emerging, and it is mine.  I’m learning to not outsource my spirituality while invalidating my own inner wisdom.  It’s my spirituality, it’s my walk with god, not the institutional church’s or an external authority figure’s, I’m taking that back.

Survival is no longer cutting it for me.  I want to be free, I want to live fully.  Therefore, I can no longer hold to the rigid belief system I once had without having doubts.  That was a good way of hiding, of surviving, yet I’m no longer wanting to hide parts of me anymore and only survive, as tempting as that sometimes is just so I can temporarily feel accepted in the moment.  It’s bullshit.  The cost is no longer worth it to me.  I am reconstituting as I integrate within my own self, and I believe this is my lifelong pursuit, my lifelong journey, which includes somehow sharing that with those who get it because they value this for themselves too.

I feel like my soul is coming alive and I will not invalidate it.  It is messy.  It is painful.  But I am worth it and I would not have it any other way.  As you can see, I’ve been there, done that and have found it doesn’t work for me.

This is my emerging story.  What’s yours?

My life is to be continued….

Self Check-In

synchronicity-2Whenever I’ve been unclear and ambivalent about how to proceed in any given situation, especially relationally, I’ve often gone outward to seek guidance.  It has proven to be useful and beneficial, but it can also keep me dependent on external sources of wisdom while stunting my own development of discernment.

I’ve been confused about where to go for guidance when facing a crossroads.  Do I go inside myself because I know myself best, or do I seek wisdom and guidance from others because they have a more objective perspective?  I’ve often thought it was an either/or approach, yet I’m realizing I don’t have just one “right” option.  Wisdom and discernment often come through BOTH avenues; inside and outside of myself, from trusting myself AND trusting others who’ve earned my trust.  Wisdom can be imported from external sources, or it can be imported from my own internal sources of wisdom within.  god as I understand it is the source of all wisdom, and discerning Hhs voice is what I am after.  He does speak to me from within, for he dwells within my inner-spirit.  It’s just a matter of unveiling his voice, which is often unconventional.

My current ambition involves the practice of going within myself, first.  Whenever possible, I do a self check-in, using the tools of Dr. Dan Siegel’s acronym of SIFT.

Sensations
Images
Feelings
Thoughts

-SIFT.

If I still feel confused and ambivalent, I have the option of going to others I trust.  They can be friends, a therapist, family members, recovery fellow-travelers, a pastor, books, podcasts, blogs, etc.  These are some of the options I have when trying to discern where God is lovingly guiding me.  When I do seek out external sources of guidance, I am still the one who is ultimately discerning what feedback resonates and what does not.  Using the SIFT tools while receiving feedback is always an option I can take.  They empower me in helping me wake up and make a conscious choice, weighing what is going on inside of me AND the feedback I’ve heard from others.   The process of discernment often involves a conscious and intentional dialogue within me and with trusted others.  It is not a monologue, at least for me.

Ultimately, I am the one who must live with the decisions I make for my own life.  How I discern applying my value-system with its certain expectations, limitations and boundaries will evoke judgement from others and within, always.  But it is my life I am trying to live out, not somebody else’s, so fearing the judgment is a major distraction in gaining discernment.  The truth is, everybody judges everybody, myself included.  So, then what?

Love frees me because it feeds me.  It frees me from fearing the inevitable judgment that is part of living life on earth.  Judgement will come, as surely as gravity pulls me back down to the ground after I jump.  Checking in with myself from a place of love and being fed, in the midst of judgments are what will keep me centered.  Love feeds me, judgment robs me.

Jesus is my Center.  He dwells within me.  He showed me explicitly on the cross how to judge myself aright – as loved, and as worthy to die for.   When I am love-hungry I’m ripe for Jesus’ love to enter in, yet I’m also vulnerable to fearing judgments and internalizing (feeding off) them.  This is what robs me of living life to the fullest extent.  Jesus came to give life, not take it.

“The thief approaches with malicious intent, looking to steal, slaughter and destroy; I came to give life with joy and abundance.” -John 10:10

Self check-ins based in love, not fear are the way for me to go.  Interchanging judgment with punishment in the verse below helps me get this, because judgment sure can feel like punishment to me, just as chewing on food that I crave, but not being able to swallow it.

“Love will never invoke fear.  Perfect love expels fear, particularly the fear of punishment.  The one who fears punishment has not been completed through love.”  – 1 John 4:18

 

 

Re-purposing Feelings

repurposed bathtub

In recovery, I learn that I am the one who is responsible for my feelings.  This used to sound like bad news, but I’m starting to see it’s not.  On the contrary, it’s empowering and freeing because it detaches the shame which has disabled me from taking responsibility for my feelings because shame freezes me and restricts growth and healing.

Taking ownership of my feelings becomes non-threatening when I can detach blame from it because blame does not fly solo, it has a co-pilot named Shame.  Shame is silent, not violent so is easily undetected, but it’s life-threatening to recovery because it distorts my self-image and my self-image guides my thoughts, feelings and behaviors.

I believe my true-self is inherently good, per the God of my understanding.  I can say this while also acknowledging the presence of brokenness and loss due to injuries I’ve sustained and inflicted upon others.  I can acknowledge that I am inherently good AND  acknowledge that I am both a giver and receiver of real pain and loss.

Taking up responsibility for my feelings is not tantamount to taking the blame for my feelings.  Articulating this is vital for my own healing and growth from having enmeshed boundaries with others when it comes to feelings.  The enmeshed boundaries stem from enmeshment between blame and responsibility.  When it comes to taking responsibility for my feelings, I first need to remove blame from having the feelings.

Blame entails assigning responsibility for wrong or fault.  Feelings are not on trial, they can be examined without trying to find fault.  Feelings are neutral.  They are neither “right” nor “wrong”.   In my recovery, I learn through practicing with others how to unmask and identify my feelings that are often disguised through anger or judgment due to lack of self-awareness.  The feelings I feel inside get revealed when I do not feel like I am on trial for having the feelings.  When I sense that the validity of my feelings will be put on trial by others, my feelings will put on their masks.  Their favorite masks seem to be rage and judgmentalism to deflect the shame onto others.

My most intense feelings are like emissaries sent on behalf of my subconscious-self (the parts of my inner life that get tucked away from consciousness in order to cope, not to heal).  In holding into the conscious belief (faith) that my true-self is inherently good, I hold onto another belief (through faith) that intentionally envisions my mind, body and spirit working together in their own unique ways to move me towards health, wholeness and harmony, and preserving that state.

For this reason, feelings serve an extremely vital role:  achieving and preserving homeostasis within an environment of motion.

When I do not allow my feelings to serve in that vital role, I will become at high-risk for tolerating and even seeking out interactions with others and myself, where I am mistreated and exploited, often with my cooperation.

Maintaining self-care includes feeling my feelings and paying attention to the messages they bring from deep within.  The messages about my own self-image which my feelings bring to my awareness can be corrected and assessed, but feeling the feelings cannot be bypassed in this process no more than exhaling can be bypassed in order to remove carbon dioxide from within my lungs.

The messages feelings bring are often felt through sensations within my body.  It isn’t just information in the form of words that need to be processed for me to feel my feelings – that is bypassing feeling my feelings and thinking my feelings, it’s skipping over a natural process that needs to take place – feeling my feelings.  That is what my experience is teaching me.  I’m learning when I feel the feelings, I am not needing to only talk or think about the feelings, but to feel them IN MY BODY.

This is a new and welcomed practice to me.  I believe it is divinely inspired, God is healing me up within a loving community of others who are trusting Him with the process for themselves as well.

Gonna Hear Me Roar

kitty gonna roar

To anyone who wants to listen, listen up…

I am currently listening to blasting  Roar by Katy Perry.

This is so therapeutic for me.

First, I gotta address the haters in my head….the constant critics..

They say, “Why are you blogging as if you’re writing in a private journal entry, but in public?  Don’t air your dirty laundry out in public.  Do it in private, please.”

My response:  I gotta take a shit.

If you’ve been holding in your bowels for years on end and you’re about to burst, you just do it.  My figurative bowels consist of conforming (out of fear) to the majority within my closest psycho-social environment, while constipating anything that poses a possible threat to this goal of conformity, even when it is within my own head.

I’m welcoming a developing condition of enmity to conformity within my psycho-social environments and I need to do it loud and proud.  If not, I am at risk of shrinking back to my previously conditioned default of fear-driven conformity, which is extremely likely the stem of many of my past “mental/mood disorders” and even physical ailments, such as my over-a-decade battle against the voice disorder, MTD (Muscle Tension Dysphonia).

Therefore – an essential part of my own recovery is being out LOUD about it.  Privacy and secrecy are all fine and dandy and serve their legitimate purposes and I will confine myself to those purposes when I determine they serve my recovery best, but I believe they can also be overrated when it comes to healing from shame and fear.

My hope is that me finding my true voice and authentic-self – out LOUD, and lovingly wooing her out of the darkness of shame and fear will provide inspiration, hope and permission for others to embark on the same courageous life-long journey in their own territory.  It’s an uphill battle, and I cannot do it alone, but I alone have got to take the steps to do this.

Peace.

Relational Allergies

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When it comes to choosing people to walk closely with in life, I’m discovering I have an aversion to people of any color, shape and size who scapegoat people who are seeking sanity through becoming self-aware and therefore healing in the process.

I am currently experiencing an allergic reaction to people who continue to chose to be unaware of their true-authentic selves.  Not to imperfect people, but to people who are perfectly content with inauthenticity.  Perhaps I will gain an elevated tolerance level for these allergy triggers in time.  But for now, it looks like allergy season is in full effect and I’m discovering what types of personalities I am allergic to in this current season of my own life.

It is essential for me to identify what types of people/relationships I am allergic to.  I will then be able to tailor my daily dose of welcoming people, places and things into my life accordingly.  Only identifying the individual allergens isn’t enough, just as working in a barn when I’ve learned I have hay fever isn’t fitting.  I can expand my recovery-plan to include environments.  Identifying environments that incubate dependencies on my allergy triggers’ environments will serve me well.

I cannot completely avoid interacting with all environments that house my allergic triggers without robbing myself of benefits also, but I can confine my interactions within these environments to be as minimal as possible.  God, give me wisdom to know the difference.

Big picture.  Small Picture.  One Picture.

 

 

 

Trust: Who, not how

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I am learning WHO to trust.  Not HOW to trust, but WHO.

It can be deceiving.

Just because someone holds a trustworthy position like mother, father, spouse, pastor, therapist or teacher – does not equate the person as being trustWORTHY.  I am learning this the hard way.

I have no trouble with trusting others.  I am a very trusting person when it comes to others, too trusting.  The trouble I’m experiencing is not how to trust, but who to trust. My recovery makes it clear that this theme is central for me to articulate, first to myself then to others.

 

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