Archive for inner struggle
Today I contemplate the journey of wholeness, with emphasis on the journey… Last week I had my first listen to Alanis Morissette’s “Limbo No More” (listen here). I was moved to tears, not because I will never have limbo days again, but because I have come to this point in my journey where I am actually feeling excited about my life. I feel myself standing on my own two feet, making intentional decisions about things that stir my soul, relying less and less on other things or people to spark some kind of excitement for me. Darlene often talks about being reborn, crashing through the walls… I don’t really know how it happens, but I know I crashed through something last week.
A journey is unpredictable, even the most well-planned ones. This journey of wholeness is wholly unpredictable. For so long I held myself back, figuring there would be all these determining factors to tell me that I had finally “made it.” I figured I would feel this certain way or know this certain thing or behave exactly like this or that. But I am letting that go. I am letting myself be, trusting my heart, trusting that what I truly desire will manifest in my life in good time, enjoying what already has. We are human beings. Wisdom can recommend better and best paths to take, but our souls also thrive in spontaneity (especially when we have seen and let go of the lies that have trapped us for so long.) The spontaneous aspect of my soul has been so squished for most of my life. Now, I see how daring to embrace my spontaneity is another force propelling me along my path.
Last week I felt like I was on a mountain top… I drank in a bird’s eye view of all I have come through so far… The journey of wholeness is not always easy.
I started counseling 3 and a half years ago after 26 years of searching. The tough parts?… I have anguished over my progress/ lack of progress. I have thought a million thoughts, I have felt a million feelings, I have had highs and lows and everything in between. I have beaten myself up. I have grappled with the truth, trying to make it REAL to me, wondering why it didn’t feel real? Trying to put my questions into words… I have fallen, I have pulled myself back up, sometimes wondering if I really could pull myself back up. I have lost friendships, grown apart from people, I have gained new friends, I have renewed relationships. I have messed up. I have tried things and quit things. I have quit jobs, tried new jobs, and felt confused about what I was doing so many times. I have invested so much money towards my counseling. I have been broke, had to borrow, had to sell things, had to take second and third jobs. I haven’t had a real vacation in years! I have argued and yelled at God… I have wept and wondered why some victories didn’t seem to stick around long enough. I have even doubted at times if it was all going to be worth it, if I would end up quitting anyways…
Well, from where I’m standing right now… on this particular mountain top, with the crisp, fresh breeze, the sunshine, and the view… looking out over my journey with clear eyes and a full heart, right now it feels so much more than worth it. I am overwhelmed with gratitude. And it’s not even Christmas, or my birthday, and I don’t even have a boyfriend… I am envisioning new things for my future and learning to delve into the deep treasures of the NOW, based on who I know I am. I am excited.
I am excited…
Wherever you find yourself on this journey, especially if you find yourself going through some of the tougher parts, I just want to say that it’s worth it.
With love, Carla
“Now hold your hand onto the plow
Work your body till the sun goes down
What’s left of death is more than fear
Let dust be dust and the good lord near”
(click on link above, then press the orange play button at the top to hear the song!)
New foundations give me strong footing to start taking positive action in my life, to start working out who I really am, to put “feet” on my truth and walk it out. I have always worked hard at things; I like to do things well. But now that I have this true foundation of knowing who I really am, effort is taking on a new meaning for me.
I used to hate effort. This was the lie at the root of my hatred of effort: if I have to work or try hard to do something, then that something musn’t be part of the REAL me; therefore, I won’t be being a “genuine” person (because if this desired action was part of the REAL me, then it would just naturally happen without me even thinking about it). This lie was fed by my fear of being judged by others as a fake, as pretending to be better than I really was. It made my attempts to change or grow in certain areas very uncomfortable and twisted; it created a self-made prison that limited how far I would go with my gifts and talents or how much I would pursue my dreams. Mixed in with that was my belief that if I could change enough outward things about myself, then my inside things would get better too. It didn’t work that way.
Doing the work of getting true, strong and deep foundations in place has freed me from these lies. I don’t have to be afraid of not being “genuine.” The more I trust myself, my heart, my good intentions, the more I see how good my heart really is. Rooting myself in this truth does a couple things. First, it frees me to see all parts of myself in the light. I am less afraid to see both my weaknesses and my strengths. In wholeness I give all the parts of myself permission to exist and to be as they are. Some parts need a bit more attention than others; some parts are ready for action and exercise; some parts are still in the early stages of healing.
I also see the roots, the beginnings, of my true potential more clearly. I understand that any kind of thriving requires a process of growth, which will at times require effort. The effort that I take now to grow and change is really different. It’s more like “tilling the soil” kind of effort, working with the good stuff that’s already there to encourage it to grow and flourish. I see that it will involve making mistakes, tweaking this or that, and trying again. What motivates me is not a ruthless drive to “fix” myself. I am motivated to become all that I truly am because I know it is good and worthwhile. I know there is reward and fulfillment for me in doing this work, and I also know that in exercising the real stuff of me, others will benefit in one way or another. I believe this is true for every single person.
I hope you find freedom in your foundations and take joy in putting your hand to the plow~ what you have to offer this world is worth the effort!
My wholeness allows me to encourage my kids to be who they are instead of who I think they might want to be. It makes me confident enough to model confidence to them. There is not a shred of comparison between who I was broken and who I am now ~ whole. Without wholeness our family trip to Mexico would not have been so beautiful and so very close to perfect. I could not be the mother I am today if I had not fixed my foundation, as Carla explained in the previous post.
While in Mexico, I decided to get hypnotised at the hypnosis show one night. The kids had seen the show the week before and said it was the funniest thing they had ever seen. I have had a lot of judgements about hypnosis for the purpose of entertainment, but really had no frame of reference to have those judgements. This was a family show, and the kids told me everything he did the night they saw it. The kids wanted me to do it, and I said no way, but I got thinking about how I had tried to get my son to play pool volleyball, and a few other activities that week. I wasn’t willing to do those same activities myself, and likely for the same reasons; self consciousness. My daughter also held back from a few things that I suspect she really would have enjoyed if she had taken the plunge and jumped in. It dawned on me that I could be an example to them through my participation in things especially if I was nervous and self conscious about doing them. Therefore at the hypnosis show, I put my hand up and got picked to go up on the stage. I was pretty nervous at first, but being in a hypnotic trance was an interesting experience. To be honest, I didn’t think that I could be hypnotized due to my history of abuse and the depth of trust issues that I used to have but it was really fun, and I felt fantastic afterwards for over 24 hours.
I think leading by example is powerful. The next day, my daughter came with me to Spanish lessons. My son took a couple of classes too. My youngest went snorkelling with 2 guides from the entertainment team and didn’t make her father go with her. You should have seen us at the Toga Party the next night, dancing in the dance competition. I was so into just having fun that the guy beside me asked if I knew the dance! Picture me dancing in Mexico on the beach at night, following the Mexican teacher in front of me. Is that enough information for you to get the picture of how much hip movement I was doing in front of all those people?
This is living! This is participating in my own life. This is freedom. This is my life today, and I love it!
It is good to be home from vacation. I’m really looking forward to the plans that Carla and I have for our blog, and to interacting with all of you!
Life is Living!
“Nothing can give it to you because you already have it… And not only do you have it- you are it, you are what you’re looking for already… the ‘I am’ that is stripped of all this and that, the pure experiencing of knowing yourself as… life itself; I don’t have a life, I am life.” – Eckhart Tolle
When I relate to others from a hungry heart, there is this feeling of intense neediness, of strong reliance on them to keep me “together”. This is why I’m so passionate about being whole in and of myself, of valuing myself as I am, for who I am. It’s not self-centered. I want to be whole in relationships too, and that all starts with the sense of my unique and worthy self.
I used to react to others who treated me poorly. There was always things “stringing along” feeling… this anxiety that I had to be just the right way around them in order to be treated well. For the subtlest reasons I would cower inside or adjust my behavior in order to win their favor. Sometimes I would get very quiet. Or other times I would be verbal and defensive, spilling all my emotions and putting myself in a very vulnerable place. For me, the heart of my reactivity was to try to correct their behavior so that they would treat me as valuable. I was trying to correct the “mirrors” to keep telling me I was “okay”. I relied on their treatment of me to define my worthiness. By attempting to correct their treatment of me, I was attempting to keep my small sense of worthiness intact. I gave a lot of my power away and opened myself up to be hurt time and again.
Building on a new foundation of beliefs about who I really am sets me up for a different kind of relating. I don’t need to depend on others to define me anymore. Inside, there is this growing sense of my own value. Just as I am, now. I exist in this moment with all my strengths and weaknesses, my personality, my hopes and quirks, my unique perspectives. I’m not defined by other people; my past reactions and hungry heart behaviours don’t define the real me either. It’s just a simple unalterable fact that I exist as a valuable part of this world. When I enter interactions with others from this truth, everything changes. I don’t have to hop around inside, adjusting myself to someone else’s requirements. Most importantly, to summarize Eckhart Tolle, I’m not relying on someone else to give to me what only I can give myself.
*Special Note!: My article Contexting Geese (click to visit) was published recently on the multi-author blog, Wisdom a la Carte. I found this blog via facebook, and it’s another great resource for thought-provoking insight! I’ll be writing more on that theme here, in coming weeks!*
I saw the new movie “Invictus” this past weekend~ what a great film. It tells the story of Nelson Mandella’s first months as president of South Africa after being released from prison. According to the movie, the poem “Invictus” was his favorite; it kept his hope alive through all his years of imprisonment and remained his inspiration as he began as president. Morgan Freeman portrays Mandella so beautifully, a man who walked his path with a deep and confident purpose to use his power for good. In the film, his character quotes this poem (Invictus) by William Ernest Henley as scenes of his prison life fade in and out on the screen. Here is the beginning and end of it:
“Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul…
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul.”
It can be overwhelming to believe yourself to be the “master of your fate and captain of your soul.” But I believe there is real freedom in embracing this as true. In brokenness, I imprisoned myself in the lie that my soul wasn’t capable of believing the truth about myself, for myself. I learnt this lie from others, but the walls of that prison had become familiar to me. At some point, I had decided to stay there, deceptively trapped.
In the middle of this self-imprisonment was my unconquerable soul. A seeking, unrelenting, beautiful soul.
I tried closing my eyes and moving forward anyways. Didn’t work. I called out to others wanting them to break free for me; not possible. I tried banging against the walls, chastising myself for being in there at all, willing myself to just believe the truth (already!) and somehow be magically transported to a different place. That didn’t work either.
What ultimately frees me from a lie-prison is not closing my eyes to it or trying to block it out, bust through or ask someone else to get me out. Now I see that I can light a lamp, cast this light on the walls, the ceiling, the floor… face the lies with open eyes. For so long they appeared large and looming; they were too scary to face. But knowing the truth about my soul, the goodness of my heart, changes everything. With new courage, I stop my vigorous efforts and look around. I see. Cracks appear in the structure and more light shines in.My soul IS capable of looking at the lies and rejecting them. And, my soul is the only one that can do this work for myself.
As grateful as I am for other beacons of light in my life, at the core of living whole is this choice that only I can make. The choice is mine and mine alone to grasp my lamp and keep my eyes open, to see how I’ve gotten entangled, to see what is really true and what is not true. Just like with any death, with any shift from the old to the new, no other being can take that step for me. It is this ability to embrace the truth completely on my own in these pivotal inner moments that propels me forward. Wow, there is some kind of joy and freedom in THAT.
How does this poem strike you on your own path of wholeness?
Do you ever watch those renovation shows on TLC or a home and garden channel? Do you find it difficult to only watch the first half? I don’t spend a lot of time watching TV, but if I see the beginning of one of these types of shows, I HAVE to watch the entire thing, or at least flip back to behold the dramatic transformation at the end. I’m struck by our human thirst for transformation. There is something so moving and exciting and hopeful about seeing the before and after of a home or room or garden being redone, or a makeover where personal beauty is revealed in a new unexpected way.
Along my own transformative journey, I desire less and less to receive help (though there is a time and place for that) and am now seeking new habits of thinking, new ways of talking to myself, “parenting” myself, and interacting with life and others- essentially, I’m seeking better ways of helping myself. In true freedom, I can see that change does not fundamentally involve changing the outer things. It’s easy to get stuck trying to fix all the outer things in an effort to change the inner things. And this has a place too, but at the deepest root of change there lies a decision to believe differently about a thing, to believe differently about myself, to believe differently about others and my interactions with them. The outward transformation ripples out from a change at the root.
I open myself up to receive new definitions of love and what is “best”. And what I’m discovering is that in order to receive the new, I have to let go of the old. It’s a continuous flowing process. Old comfortable habits of reacting to mistreatment, or trying to feel valuable by defining myself with outward things are cumbersome. They take up too much inner space, and they rob me of having the clarity and the receptivity to receive what is better, more alive, more life giving. Sometimes embracing the new feels like going over a jump on a snowmobile at 120 km/hr. Thrilling and scary at the same time. But the more I make room to receive the new, the more familiar it becomes to me. The more I see my new habits improving my life, the more I inclined I am to seek out even better ones.
For Christmas I wish you whatever amount of courage, vision and desire you need to let go of that which holds you back from thriving in the life you were created to live, to engage in the process of continually receiving and letting go. Merry Christmas.
Being in the moment… facing the fear… not letting others define me… standing up for myself. These are doors to freedom on my path of wholeness. It’s Christmas and I’ve been buying gifts, receiving gifts. Giving and receiving… A couple of weeks ago I was playing piano at the ballet studio I accompany at and they were making up a dance to the song “Little Drummer Boy” (performed by Josh Groban). I was brought to tears, which surprised me. But the beauty of the music and the story in the lyrics triggered some deep emotions.
In the middle of the song, the little drummer boy decides to present himself exactly as he is. He plays his drum and gives all that he has to offer in that moment. All he has to offer… Whether or not it was a virtuosic performance or a stumbling attempt at rhythm, it was his best at that point in time. Somehow he wisely knew that giving his best in that moment was a better gift than waiting to give something more refined or perfected in the future…
Having developed some strong perfectionist tendencies, I find great encouragement in realizing that what I have to offer (particularly in my relationships) in this moment is all that I have, and it is the best that I have. And it is enough. One of the biggest lies that I lived in was the lie that what I have to give is not enough. Still at times, fear tempts me to look into the past at my mistakes or to peer into the future for some kind of idealized “me”. But as I go along this journey, I see that it is impossible to move forward with this belief. Taking the next step, and the next and the next, involves a continuous giving of exactly who I am right now. My best right now, IS enough to give. And it is complete in the point of time it is given.
As the moments pass, my best will change. I will try, and succeed or fail, and keep trying, keep learning, keep stepping, keep giving. And as I do this (put “feet” on giving my best), my best will become more seasoned and rich. But this will be because of my own deep growth- not because I’ve decided to TRY harder. This Christmas, as I interact with friends and family, I will give my best. With the knowledge that it is good enough, I will give it joyfully.
From my last post, “The Decision to Wake up and Live” Carla asked:
“Darlene, I can relate to a lot of these fears and am also starting to feel gratitude for difficult decisions I made in my past that make for a much more fulfilling present. I’m interested in what you say about being “afraid of how I would have to relate to others if I was to embrace wholeness.” Can you expand on that? What’s it like to relate to others in wholeness now?”
Here is my answer;
Carla, I was specifically referring to not dissociating when I wrote that part of the post. I was so afraid of facing people and facing my fears of them. When I used dissociation, as a way to deal with situations and a way to deal with others, as soon as someone said anything that made me feel unsafe, I just disconnected. Since I was working on my dissociative identity disorder and working on becoming one, I knew that when I was no longer dissociating I would have to actually be in the moment, face the fear, reassure myself that I was not in danger and actually deal with people.
Once I got through that part, then I moved on to the fear of standing up for myself and I think that is what your question is about. There were people in my life that disrespected me and disregarded me. There were people that didn’t ever consider my feelings and I began to realize that it was up to me to set the boundary in order for that treatment to stop. I only wanted to be treated as equally valuable, which is not really a lot to ask, but I also knew that this request would be hard for people who had devalued me my whole life. So I was afraid that I would be rejected again and that I would be laughed at and looked down on if I stuck up for myself. I imagined that I was so worthless to them, that they would say that I was not worth the effort for them to care about my feelings. I thought that rejection would kill me, and although a few people in my life did react this way, it didn’t kill me. It made me stronger. It made me more determined to move forward in my recovery.
The bottom line is that I had let others define me. I had let others decide that I was not worth much, and they treated me that way, and because I believed them, I let them. When I began to live in wholeness, I began to redefine myself, to own the truth about myself and embrace that I am not worthless, I am worthy. I am worthy of life, happiness, respect, love and I am valuable. I have something to offer others in relationships. I am not just a servant. I don’t deserve to be the fall guy for everyone else’s unhappiness. With that redefining of myself, I learned that in those situations where I was being discounted as a person, I could ask questions such as “why are you talking to me like that? Why do you think you can treat me like that?” and these questions were empowering for me. (they also caused people to pause…as though I had slapped them.. lol)
Just because someone treats me as though I don’t matter, doesn’t mean that I don’t matter. Just because someone thinks I am stupid or unimportant, doesn’t mean that I am. It is one thing for me to know that, but a whole other thing for me to draw the line against being treated like that. Living in wholeness and relating in truth has a lot to do with this kind of understanding.
Oh and one last thing; although most people didn’t like this new me at first, (the one that refused to be treated like dirt) I have flourished in the true definition of myself and have wonderful relationships today, based on truth and equality.
I grew up striving to find proof outside of myself that I truly was okay. This was my addiction. It was 2 fold: one part of it was constantly trying to figure out what other people thought of me, and the other part involved modifying my “outsides,” morphing myself, to try and fulfill what I believed other people’s expectations of me were. Like all addictions, it was extremely burdensome, but I did it to help myself survive.
My family life created the vacuum, let the big question “am I okay?” go unanswered. The church that I grew up in contributed to my dis-ease, creating bars that held me back from finding the answer. Church introduced me to self-examination. I fully value being self-aware, but the purpose of this examination was to create guilt and shame.“Examine your heart before doing this or that… Make sure your motives are right… Man looks at the outside, but God looks at the inside [so make sure your insides are good]…” Constant, heavy, suspicious examination. This became one of my biggest slave masters and I became a master at doing it. I was striving desperately for the answer to my question, but if an answer felt “too good to be true” I doubted it. I doubted myself all the time, because how could I know whether my “insides” were good or bad, whether I was on the right track? This self-doubt was the root of my depression and angst.
At age 26 I was so weary. A friend recommended a counsellor to me and I was willing to try whatever it took to find relief. This counsellor was able to help me discover the real truth about myself, for myself. He was a light, already fired up, someone I could spend some time with to get my own light burning again. He was a master not at “fixing me”, but at fanning into flame the truth that was still burning deep down inside myself. The truth he helped me to discover was that my heart is good. Fully and completely good. No questions asked, no proof required, in all its ramifications and outward actions, uniquely beautiful and good intentioned. It was the kind of truth-discovering that’s hard to explain. It just feels really good, like Christmas morning… Deep down, unabashed, grinning ear to ear truth. For someone like me, it was easy to doubt at first, to be suspicious of. But after awhile, my hungry heart couldn’t get enough. For a time, I needed this source outside of myself and outside of the church to tell me this truth, over and over again. Now that my own light is burning brighter, I’m getting the hang of it for myself. I’m rebuilding my foundation, setting myself up for a life of living as my true self, fulfilled and excited to be alive.
“Nothing is more difficult than competing with a myth” Francoise Giroud
What are the myths that you live with, in your own personal life? This quote which I read in a book about financial myths, reminded me of all the other myths that affected me and held me back from a life of wholeness and fullness.
Realizing which myths were stuck in my belief system and busing them, was KEY for me in my recovery from dissociative identity disorder and chronic depression. For the sake of length, I am going to keep this very simple and talk about some simple ideas that cracked the code for me.
My mother used to say things like “if you were not so loud then I wouldn’t be in such a bad mood”. If I got hit or punished because I was too loud, I believed that it was my fault because I caused her to be in a bad mood; not only did I believe I deserved the punishment, but I also believed that her mood was my fault. This might sound right at first. I was loud, I got spanked. But there is this little tiny thing in there that isn’t right. I didn’t get spanked or punished if I was loud when she was in a good mood. The spankings were inconsistent and her moods were inconsistent. Things were worse for me when she was upset about something else. She took her moods out on me. I was compliant; my brother however fought her. He got it a lot worse than I did.
I tried to be a better daughter. I tried not to cause her to be in a bad mood and not just because I would get punished, but because I began to believe that love was something I had to earn. If she was happy with me, then I knew she would love me. There is something really wrong with this belief.
I am not suggesting that this is always the case. Every parent makes mistakes and feels bad about taking their moods out on the kids once in a while. I am talking about this type of scenario contributing over time, to the false things that I started to believe about myself. I learned that I was a problem; that my mom would be happier if I were different; that I got in the way; that I was the cause of her distress.
These are the kinds of things that make kids believe that they are not good enough, and that everything is their own fault; abuse and devaluing treatment is deserved. Somehow it seems to be communicated by the adult in these cases, that the treatment you get is exactly what YOU deserve. The wrong idea begins to grow about what we deserve.
This idea is so accepted that when I first heard it I strongly disagreed. I had spent my life being accountable for the bad things that happened to me.
Then we grow up. We have learned to live in our victim belief system. We accept the truth we have been conditioned to accept; that we don’t deserve better then what we have and our abusers still abuse. Usually we meet more people that like to mistreat others. They seem drawn to us, or maybe we are drawn to them because being treated like dirt is comfortable to us by now. We can’t figure out what the heck is wrong with us. We know that we have choices, but they don’t seem to stick. There is a thick layer of confusion surrounding all these thoughts, but we can’t seem to sort it out.
In my process it was key for me to do some major myth busting. I had to see the chain of events that led to my belief system being wrong and I had to do some heavy duty work to change this fact. I had to realize and acknowledge that I truly believed these lies about myself, and I had to realize what was really true about myself. I had to find a way to throw out the lies and replace them with the truth.
Have you thought about the myths that you have living in your internal system?