Archive for wholeness
In this post I was wanting to capture the feeling of learning to fly for ourselves. We are untangling, we are, in bits and pieces, letting go of what we thought was true about ourselves and grasping on to something new, something better. These moments of growth, these little steps, are not so small… Allowing ourselves to see a bit clearer, stepping into the freedom of being more of our true selves each day, choosing to live in the truth even though others may find it hurtful, can feel like leaping across a crevice… There is tremendous courage in these moments.
In an excellent fantasy series by George R.R. Martin (the first book entitled A Game of Thrones), Bran is a curious, adventurous young boy who loves to climb as high as he can, whether it’s in the trees or all along the tops of the castle. But one day he is intentionally pushed from a high castle window, falling far to the ground and becoming physically crippled. Just before he wakes up for the first time, after weeks of being asleep, he has this dream. It struck a deep chord with me and I’d like to share it with all of you. In every moment, we move farther along our miraculous journey. With love ~Carla
It seemed as though he had been falling for years… Fly, a voice whispered in the darkness, but Bran did not know how to fly, so all he could do was fall. The ground was so far below him he could barely make it out through the grey mists that whirled around him, but he could feel how fast he was falling. The ground was closer now… He wanted to cry.
Not cry. Fly.
“I can’t fly,” Bran said. “I can’t, I can’t…”
How do you know? Have you ever tried?
The voice was high and thin. Bran looked around to see where it was coming from. A crow was spiraling down with him, just out of touch, following him as he fell. “Help me,” he said.
I’m trying, the crow replied…
The crow took to the air and flapped around Bran’s hand.
“You have wings,” Bran pointed out.
Maybe you do too.
Bran felt along his shoulders, groping for feathers.
There are different kinds of wings, the crow said…
Bran was falling faster than ever. The grey mists howled around him as he plunged toward the earth below. “What are you doing to me?” he asked the crow, tearful.
Teaching you how to fly.
“I can’t fly!”
You’re flying right now.
Every flight begins with a fall, the crow said. Look down.
Bran looked down , and felt his insides turn to water. The ground was rushing up at him now. The whole world was spread out below him, a tapestry of white and brown and green. He could see everything so clearly that for a moment he forgot to be afraid. He could see the whole realm and everything in it…
“Can a man still be brave if he’s afraid?” he heard his own voice saying, small and far away. And his father’s voice replied to him. “That is the only time a man can be brave.”
Now, Bran, the crow urged. Choose. Fly or die.
Bran spread his arms and flew.
Wings unseen drank the wind and filled and pulled him upward. The terrible needles of ice receded below him. The sky opened up above. Bran soared. It was better than climbing. It was better than anything.
*Please note, this passage is taken from pages 160 to 163. Though it is quoted word for word, I have left some parts out to facilitate easier reading!*
I have been writing some pretty in depth posts about how the belief system gets messed up and altered and how the lies that we owned as the truth have shaped our belief system and imprisoned us in falseness. And I have been getting emails and questions about the “overcoming part”. There are many parts to the overcoming part which is commonly known as “the process”. In the coming weeks I hope to shed a bit more light on this.
Each part of the process has its own difficulty and each part has its breakthroughs and celebrations. The point is to pursue wholeness at each stage; to keep going forward. To keep pressing on because a little bit of freedom is just over that next wall and a little bit more freedom is over the wall after that. A little bit of freedom, a little bit more wholeness, and so on and so on. That is the process of emerging from broken.
Most of my adult life I’ve been what I refer to as a “truth seeker” or “a seeker”, which to me is the same thing. I studied many religions. I studied inspirational speakers and teachers and their work. I studied Greek and Hebrew word origins for 8 years in precept bible studies and did a lot of homework every day. I felt guilty that I didn’t feel purposeful, that I didn’t feel like I was okay or that I fit in and belonged. I practiced gratitude, and felt guilty that I deep down I was unhappy; I practiced positive thinking, I prayed every day but I never felt really right. I remember asking a therapist that I was seeing for one of my major depressions, “when am I going to just get over this stuff, (the past) I have been trying to get over it for 20 years.” He said that the abuse was part of who I was. That I might never get over it.
He might as well have shot me right there. I took his answer to mean that there was no hope that I would ever be free of the past that secretly drug me down into the depths of despair on a regular basis. My past messed with my self esteem, my self worth and my productivity as a person. It had become who I was, I was someone who had been abused. I was someone who had used alcohol and illegal drugs to cope with life. I was someone who struggled with depression and dissociative behaviours. I was someone who identified with being “unfit” and “invalid”. I was “used”, dirty, and shame filled. I was really tired. These things defined me.
I wanted to be defined differently but could not seem to ever get past the past. I wanted to be “washed clean” and all that great stuff that I heard when I went to churches, but it didn’t seem to happen for me. I could not have tried harder. For well over 20 years I was preached at, prayed over went to self help programs, seminars, conferences, well you name it, I tried it. The dirty feeling didn’t go away for very long; it always came back.
I felt like I had to hide all these feelings because everyone else said that they were “saved” or free or healed but never said exactly what that meant and I thought I must be doing something wrong, or that I was just plain ungrateful. No matter how often I picked myself up, my past seemed to be there, and I was getting really tired. But one day, on perhaps the darkest day before the dawn, I met someone who gave me hope. I met a therapist who had a different way of looking at things then other therapists I had been to. I was told that I could get over my past, I just had to learn how. I had to face it, dig down deep into my past and expose the lies that I had accepted as truth, and replace them with real truth. And so it began.
Stay tuned I will continue….. Darlene
Restless to be…
Restless to be in action…
Restless to take this for a spin, a test ride, a real ride.
Restless, like a horse in its stall, who’s just healed from a fall… Bandaged leg unwrapped, tender but strong, with a gleam in her eye for the long horizon… the brimming horizon… pawing the ground… breath steaming in and out… The walls around her have waited patiently. They watch her now, and when she gives the signal they’ll step aside to let her go… to let her run.
Not restless like I used to be. Not restlessly anxious to escape, to grasp at straws or distract myself with excitement. Not restless to hide, to run away, to quiet the cynic or appease the crowd.
Restlessly alive. Like the shudder of leaves, the swirl of birds in a chattering flock, the hurried ushering of water towards the falls… to do what’s next and to be what is now, right now. Restless and accepting all at one time. Whole… and Becoming.
Restless to let what’s growing inside, what’s taken root, to let it use my feet and do some walking. Less talking more walking. Restless to use my hands and form what’s mine, to give it life, to make it real, believing that what I feel is true and what I envision, I am worthy of. Restless not to make it happen, but to let it happen… to walk towards it and be carried. Restless to accept. Restless to build. Restless to live out what I have so gratefully received.
I read a really interesting article in the paper this week. The reporter interviewed a few high end restaurant servers who shared how they actually dreaded Valentine’s weekend at the restaurant. Couples sat awkwardly across from each other, looking unhappy and not really knowing what to talk about. Pressure was high to get all the details right. An evening of high expectations rarely fulfilled, with more tension than enjoyment.
My life used to be like this! High expectations of finding some kind of “finally” love to satisfy my hungry heart. The vacuum in me was constantly asking, “Am I loved? Am I okay? Am I loving?” and I believed the warm fuzzies of romantic love would answer those questions once and for all. They did, for the first few weeks with any guy I dated. But the feelings never lasted, and then I was lost again. This was my labor of un-love, the slippery illusion of salvation-by-warm-fuzzies falling from my hands time after time. Not only was I left empty, I also felt these pangs of despair that my life could have no real purpose if I was single.
How grateful I am to know that’s not true… Throughout my depression, having those warm fuzzy feelings were some of the only times I felt truly alive. I believed this was love. The lie entangled me beyond my romantic relationships; I thought loving someone meant I should always have those warm feelings for them and act accordingly (and vice versa). My family believed this too, and so we rarely aired out conflicts in our home. We learned to keep true feelings inside so that no one’s feathers would get ruffled. Some of us labored to get all the details right so that what looked “perfect” on the outside would be proof that we were okay on the inside.
Finding the roots of real love relieves me from this labor. Being whole in my relationships means I am learning to bring my true self to the table when I interact with others. I can see now that trying to please them at the cost of ignoring who I really am only leads to destruction in one way or another- true relationship doesn’t last on that kind of foundation. Learning to love myself means I’m not depending on other people to fix me or fill my “holes”. I don’t need to take advantage of them, and I don’t need to let them take advantage of me either. Instead, we can exchange our real selves with each other. We share our truth and enrich each other’s lives. Real relationship practices mutual respect and equality. It is honest and knows it doesn’t have to be perfect or get all the details right . It desires to grow, to deepen, to learn, to tell the truth, to discover… All these things are at the root of true love.
The warm fluffy feelings are still fun and I have no intentions of banning them from my life! But, I’m not trying to control them anymore. I’m not demanding anything of them in an effort to heal my hungry heart. They come and go based on how real the love I’m practicing is. Kind of like cooking an amazing meal- the aroma is a by-product of the timely combination of good ingredients- it doesn’t happen right away, and it’s free to come and go.
This year I get to spend Valentine’s Day with dear friends; I am so excited to celebrate real love in my growing relationships with them.
For more information on the photographer of the beautiful photo in this post, visit this link!
Everywhere I go I have the privilege of meeting people and impacting their lives. Usually I can plant a few seeds that take root and grow the desire for wholeness and freedom from things that hold people back from being all they can be and all of who they are.
While I was in Mexico last month, I met an interesting man in his late twenties, who by his own admission, was not quite ready to let go. He reminded me so much of myself when I was younger that my heart was touched. Even though I found myself intently listening to his story, on another level I found myself reminded of things I had not thought of for a long time. He triggered intense memories about my resistance to recovery and how frightening it was to think of giving up my coping methods. I recalled the fear that I had of living in freedom and even where I still struggle in a few areas. I was reminded of the absolute terror of learning to trust myself, the fear I had of finding out who I really am and what it took for me to learn to live in that wholeness.
In the two weeks since I have been home, I’ve realized a deeper understanding of how scared that I was to get healthy; to face and deal with my issues and live a whole life in freedom from the chronic depression and dissociation that I lived with for so long. My dissociative identity, constant depressions and my obsession with my weight and body image had become like a blanket of comfort for me. They were the spin that I lived in. They were me; my identity. They were my survival mode and they made me feel safe. I believed that that these coping methods were the solution; how could they ever be the problem? Every time I tried to let go of the cozy blanket of survival, even to let go of one small piece of it, I felt naked, exposed, freezing, scared and way too vulnerable. I felt out of control. Control was essential if I was to feel safe. Deep down inside in my subconscious, I felt sure that I would die without the security blanket of coping methods that I had developed over the years.
It is necessary to develop these coping methods especially when we are children however a huge part of my recovery process was about realizing that I was no longer a child, and that so many of my coping methods were developed to protect myself as a child. They did evolve into adult coping methods, but the problem was that they were based in childlike thinking. I had to recognize that these problems were indeed coping methods, recognize the lies I believed which gave them their basis, replace those lies with the truth, and then realize so much of the protection I developed was no longer necessary. Then I had to re-parent myself with my new grid of understanding.
It wasn’t that the abuse or that I was so devalued was a lie; it was that I thought I had some control over it or that I should have been able to have some control over it; that I thought I deserved it and that I brought it on myself ~ that was the lie. I developed my survival methods for protection in two ways. The first one was to be able to deal with and live with the abuse itself. The second was to protect myself from further abuse.
In my process through therapy, on my journey to wholeness, I threw off the security blanket of coping methods one layer at a time and learned a new way to live. Some days I do feel exposed and sometimes I still get scared, but I find that as time goes by, I get more and more comfortable with my new life.
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
According to the Canadian Oxford Dictionary:
Self Help: 1. The theory that individuals should provide for their own support and improvement in society. 2 the act or faculty of providing for or improving oneself
Selfish: 1 Deficient in consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure; actuated by self-interest
I was recently part of a conversation where someone shared their belief that self-help can lead a person to become self-centered and selfish. Have you heard this sentiment before? I think it’s based out of fear. And I’d like to explore it here!
Does self-help make a person selfish?
The answer could fill a book (now, would that be a “self help, self help” book?…lol!) I have a few thoughts to share, and I’d love to hear your’s as well. For starters, what is self help? From Oxford’s definition, it sounds like it’s a method, an act of learning how to provide for/improve/support one’s own self. I would add that to help myself, I am really learning to lead myself in better ways of living. It goes beyond learning how to cope. From my personal experience, this has involved stretching out to my past (facing and getting rid of a lot of old garbage and lies) and also getting to know my deep passions and goals for my future. Both dynamics are helping me to live whole and alive in my present.
Beneath all of that, I think this is key: what drove my whole process of recovery was that I wanted to be me, the real me. I wanted to live my own unique life to the FULL, and I was willing to go through the pain, years of counseling, financial investment, and time commitment to find that life. I wanted to know my purpose for being on this earth (which has a lot to do with the question: how can I impact the world through being me?) Yes, I wanted to find relief and healing from my own pain. But I also wanted to learn how to live in a healthy outward way. I wanted to be a healthy, contributing, thriving part of this world. I believe this deep desire is at the heart of any person’s pursuit of self help, whether they realize it or not.
Some stages of my recovery do involve varying degrees of self care and inward attention, which might appear to be selfish. And, as I become more of the real me, others might feel like they have to relate to me differently, which is uncomfortable for them (I think that’s where the fear comes in). The thing with recovery is that we can’t know exactly what we’ll be like throughout the process. Our real selves may turn out to be very different than what people were used to before. I can understand how disconcerting that might be to others. But does that mean we’re selfish?
The big truth for me? I feel far less selfish now than I used to. I am less needy and more interested in engaging with the world. I have never been as free as I feel today. I have never understood what it means to give of myself with no strings attached, to be excited about other people’s lives as I am about my own life, to exercise my gifts and abilities in ways I was totally afraid to do before. I judge others less; I judge myself less. I’m learning how to speak my truth in ways that benefit others and myself equally. I take good care of myself because if I don’t, the real Carla won’t be as vibrant as she’s meant to be in this world! In gaining peace and fulfillment for myself, I find I naturally want to help others find that for themselves. I’m no saint, but I have grown. And I wouldn’t be becoming all these things now if I hadn’t self-helped myself.
I know one things for sure: if I hadn’t learned how to help myself, I would not be writing on this blog! So I think my answer to the question is pretty clear! But what do you think? I’d love to know.
I got a lot of emails and private messages about my last blog post “The longing for Family, Love and Self Love” some of our readers misunderstood me, and offered comfort and even therapy. I think the title was misleading.
I want to (hopefully) clarify a few things. I am not writing these blog posts from a victim’s viewpoint, but from the magnificent vista of freedom and wholeness that I enjoy and embrace in my life today.
I am sad that my relationship with my parents is what it is, but the message that I want to deliver is, that while I used to be very conflicted and held back by the knowledge that I was just not important to them, I am not held back by that anymore. I have become my own person and have risen above the need for their approval. I approve of me today; I define myself and believe my value to be equal to every other human beings value.
There is so much freedom in the acceptance that my parents are not likely going to change. They have their belief system, which is not related to mine anymore. Their definition of love is not the same as mine. Their definition of family is not the same as mine either. There is even greater freedom in accepting that I don’t need them to accept me or approve of me or even for them to KNOW me in order for me to be valid, valuable or right. My existence does not depend on what they think or how they view the world with me in it. I no longer live under the rules of obligation ~ and respect is a two way street.
When I told my mother that she could not treat me with such disrespect if she wanted to continue to have a relationship with me, she dismissed me. That fact alone tells the story.
Freedom is no longer living with the expectation that one day I will do just the right thing and magically, someone will notice me and believe I am worthy of interest. I am worthy. My worth does not come from someone else. My worth comes from somewhere deep inside me; the acceptance and acknowledgement of my self worth grew out of the process and the work that I did to become whole and to overcome the mental health issues that I struggled with.
Freedom and wholeness is knowing who I am and living each day to the fullest! I like who I am today and my life isn’t missing a thing!
Please add your comments or suggestions! I would love to hear from you.
To your freedom and the continued pursuit of wholeness!
P.S. On this same subject, I plan to write some articles about the power we have as parents when we notice our children and the results we get when we love, encourage and acknowledge them for who they are. If it were not for my past, I would not be so sensitive to this issue, but I would also not be so knowledgeable about how to use my power to empower others instead of using it to control others.
“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!
It all depends on the foundation. For so long I worked high up in the rafters, trying to fix this, trying to fix that. Looking out the windows… obsessed with looking out the windows at expressions, reactions, actions, small gestures. Painfully anguishing about getting the details of living life right. Had to get it right, had to get it right…
I hired an inspector. “What is wrong with my house?” I asked him. “It isn’t working. The top is swaying back and forth it’s so heavy, everything in the middle is creaking and groaning. I’m in a constant state of motion sickness!”
He did some in-depth analyzing and said, “It’s your foundations, friend. They’re built with the wrong kind of stuff. You believe you have to act ‘right’ in order to be right. You believe most everything about you, the real you, is wrong. A foundation like that won’t work for you. It’s no wonder everything from the ground up is trying so desperately to tear away.”
He showed me what a good foundation looks like. “In the context of building material, let’s consider one of the most famous carpenters in history, Jesus. He defined himself by saying, ‘I am.’ Not ‘I do’, but simply ‘I am.’ It was the same ‘I am’ kind of stuff that God looked at on the 6th day and described as ‘GOOD.’ Your identity is made of the same stuff. You are. And the stuff of you is just as good as the stuff of anyone else. Forget about perfect in this lifetime, but know that it’s good.”
So I took my foundations to task. I stopped focusing on upstairs and started digging, started putting this truth into place here, this truth into place here. For quite some time, I looked like a big hole. But that was okay. Tall buildings need deep foundations. When I wanted to despair at my lack of “visible” progress, I just reminded myself of that again and again.
They’re really coming together. They will require maintenance work forever, but I’m fine with that. I have this feeling of peace that comes more and more frequently. My house is settling into these new foundations, like a pair of really great shoes with stellar support. Ahhhhh…. NOW I can move around! Now the motion sickness is passing. Now my windows let light in and my doors open and close in healthier exchange. And now I can work on my “heights” with clarity, excitement and true purpose.
There is freedom in the foundations.