Mo Machnamh

Reflections of a phoenix as she rises from the ashes…

My Daddy…

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Dear Dad…

I cannot believe I’m saying this, but I think I’ve done it. I’ve finally forgiven you. Completely. It started in therapy several weeks ago, when I brought up the subject of how you used to cross those boundaries with me. And it was so hard to talk about. I sobbed. But I needed to know, from a professional, if you knew what you were doing. You see, I’ve heard different things about your mental state. Some say that people who are bi-polar know what they’re doing when they’re on a manic high, and some say opposite. But you were diagnosed with far more than just bi-polar, weren’t you…And I haven’t been taking that part into consideration, those other diagnoses, whenever I’ve thought to the dark memories. So I needed to ask a professional of mental health whether or not someone in your condition had any knowledge, really, of what he was doing at those crucial moments in our past when you hurt me so deeply. Because if you didn’t, if you were not fully capable of reasoning right from wrong, then that would mean that you weren’t in the “bad” category of the male species, the perverse category. I really needed to take you out of that category in my mind in order to arrive at this place of forgiveness, Daddy. You can well imagine my tears of relief when my therapist confirmed what I had hoped she would. You didn’t know what you were saying, what you were doing. You had the lines all blurred in your head. She explained it so well to me, and her words initiated one of the biggest turning points in my life…forgiving and loving you fully.

Oh, Daddy, I’m so sorry!! I’m so sorry that I wasted all these years in anger and hurt and unforgiveness! It wasn’t easy, trust me. So often, throughout the years, I was positively torn between the bitterness to which I felt I must cling and the memories and knowledge of who you really are. You were so fun, so free-spirited, so unique, so silly, so funny, and so gifted…You were unlike anyone else I’d ever met, and you were my dad…and I never appreciated that in the moment. I let the darkness take over. I let your battle become mine. I feel horrible about it now. I miss you so much, Daddy. I wish I had something – a teddy bear or something that  I could hold – something that belonged to you and something that I could cry into for moments like this one, when I cannot control the tears and longing I feel for you to be back in my life so we can start over. I want to be your little girl again. I want to believe that I really was your princess, the apple of your eye, your only daughter. Mom said I was, but I have no recollection of this relationship.

On Monday, you’d have been 73 years old had you continued living. I spent the day honouring you, Daddy. Did you see that? Did you feel it? Were you there? Are you here now? Where are you? What’s it like where you are? I have so many questions. Can you help me? Will you please? Can you read this?

I watched The Elephant Man on Monday. My favourite line from the movie reminds me so of you, “Oh, Mister Merrick, you’re not an Elephant Man at all. You’re Romeo.” I would say something similar to you if you were here, Daddy.

I have some favourite memories of us, Daddy…

You took just me to see The Elephant Man. I remember you were trying to connect with me back then. I was a rebellious teenager, about a year younger than I am in the photo depicted above with our dog, and I basically didn’t want much to do with my parents or entire family, really. You started this short-lived thing you and mom called “Father-Daughter Date Nights,” remember? I hated the idea. But secretly, I didn’t. Secretly, I liked the idea of getting all that attention and going someplace fun. (But I wish you hadn’t called it “date nights,” because I was dating back then, and it irked me. But that’s not the point.) The point is, on this one night, you took me to see David Lynch’s The Elephant Man. I had no idea what the film was about. When it came on the screen, I remember being concerned that it was black and white, assuming it would bore me, but you told me to give it a chance, that you thought I’d like it. So I did. Daddy, that film has remained one of my favourites ever since. It touches me beyond expression that you connected with that story. Whenever I hear Previn Barber’s Adagio for Strings, I want to cry. I am playing it now, as I write this. I find it interesting that this piece is also in the Platoon score, a movie about the war you served. That film is also another of my favourites. I am drawn to all such films, like a moth to the flame..probably because of you.  Thank you so much for taking me to see The Elephant Man, and for all our father-daughter times. It was pure ignorance, on my part, not to fully appreciate this  (or you) when you were alive. It will be one of my biggest regrets until the day I die…

And you were so funny! Do you remember the tiny troll doll houses you created for me on my window sill when I was about 10 years old? And you got so into it! You named them “Skookie Dook” and “Book Balook!” Remember? I loved that. All my silliness is from you, really. I passed it onto Ariela. I sometimes think that Seth is secretly silly with his girlfriends. 😉 And do you know how much they would both adore you if you were still around? I know they would. They’d be mighty proud of their grandfather. You’d be perfect with them. Ariela has a special connection with you. She can feel your Spirit, I think. She’s just really fond of you…We speak of you often. She feels about you much the way I have always felt about your dad, Grandpa Jack. Are you with him now? Please give him so very much of my love, and please thank him for protecting me. Are you protecting me now, too? I like to think you are…

Mom says I get a lot of things from you. Everytime she says that, I swell up with pride inside, because despite it all, Daddy, I favour you. To me, you have so many qualities to admire. I love thinking that I’m more like you than Mom, because you’re so interesting!! If things had been different, if you had been mentally available for me, I know that we’d have been the best of friends, and I’d not have to cry whenever I watch fathers and daughters who are close in movies, because I’d be one of them. I know this. My moon sign is the same as your sun sign, did you know that? This means we’d get on fantastically. And in the end, we did, remember?

Proving that point, another of my favourite memories is my last one with you. You and mom came out to see me in California when I lived in that little studio in Hollywood Hills. We had so much fun. I remember feeling, for the first time ever, that we could spend the rest of our lives together in peace. Maybe I was sensing your impending end less than two months later, I don’t know…All I know is that this visit was different from any other. I felt, then, that we’d made peace, and I dared myself to believe it would last forever. It was your birthday. Mom took this photo of me handing you your cake, depicted above. It was my idea to get that cake for you, did you know that? I remember shopping for it with mom at the market. I wanted to put 54 candles on it! And how can I ever forget swing-dancing at The Brown Derby with you on that visit! You were such a great dancer. You must’ve got that from your mom, and I got it from you. I think of you nearly every time I dance, Daddy.

And when you left that little studio in Hollywood Hills, you slipped me a 50$ bill so mom couldn’t see. Did you do that because you could see I wasn’t doing so well? Did you know that I was working at a horrible club, selling my body 6 nights a week to creeps were really were perverse? Did you want to rescue me, Daddy? In your own way? I think you did. I know you knew I was drinking a lot back then, too. And I remember your concern about that, expressed so lovingly to me as you told me that dream you had..I still remember the dream. You told it to me when we were at dinner in Laemmle Square eating Mexican food…whilst I drank a margarita- certainly not my only that night. But I remember that the entire visit, our last together, was good. Nothing went wrong. And I wished that things had always been that way. And I wished that things could always be that way….

And then, less than two months later, you granted me that wish, didn’t you? You left me with that memory, never to be sullied by any other. You left  this world with nothing but sweet memories for me to cherish of our last time together. Thank you, Daddy. That was the best gift you’ve ever given me. I am so sorry I hurt you, Daddy. It breaks my heart to think of all the times I know I did. You didn’t deserve that. Nobody can hurt a person like a child can hurt her/his parent. I’ve learned this the hard way, and at these times (and others!), I wish you were here for me to cry to, because I know you’d comfort me so sweetly. You were so sweet, Daddy. I hope you’re in peace now. And I hope that you and Joseph “John” Merrick are the greatest of friends. If you’re with him, tell  him thank you for me, please? His tragic life story helped to bring us closer together, to brighten my own.

Oh, Daddy, you’re no crazy man at all. You’re my hero.

I love you with all my heart.

Dad eatingPopsicle

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I Promise…

Today, I need to write for the simple reason that coming here, to this blog, comforts me. It empowers me. It reminds me.

I forgot last night. I forgot who I Am. Who I have Become. I forgot that I am Powerful, Capable, Strong, Steady, Compassionate, and Standing, rather than crouching. I forgot that I can only depend on myself, that I am the only one who can Truly be there for me, nobody else. Other people will always hurt me, fail me, scare me, threaten me, disappoint me, and abandon me. But I will still Be. I will still exist as the Phoenix Rising.

So today, I come here, in spite of everything, and I promise you, my Readers (because in doing so, I’m really promising myself), that I will not call myself a fool or an idiot or any such name for forgetting these things and for trusting someone else. I promise I will not self-injure. When my daughter trusted the wrong boys in her life, boys who hurt her or took advantage of her, I didn’t shame her. I didn’t tell her she was a fool. I didn’t abuse her in any way, shape, or form. Nor would I ever! So why should I do that to myself? I promise I will eat well, rest well, continue my yoga and meditation, let myself cry without shame or fear, and stand by myself, just as I tattooed on my arm that I’d do.

One of the hardest things to do in this life, for me, is to learn to accept the fact that I may have to face this life with nobody by my side but Me. I have such resistance to this lesson, because the little girl in me has so many unmet needs, particularly in the “daddy-sense.” She needs to feel special to a man, to a protector, and to be able to trust that man – that he’ll never take advantage of her, take her for granted, use her, abuse her, or abandon her. She never got this. And then, later in life, when she finally did find such a man, I always left, hell-bent on punishing myself. And here I am, finally absorbing that I do deserve that Man, after all, but it’s too late….And it is for this reason, that I have started this blog, this journey toward Self-Compassion. And it is for this reason, that today is so difficult for me.

What I need to do is get so adept at Self-Compassion, so completely immersed in Self-Empowerment, that my current situation has no choice but to change, and/or I just feel completed on my own – finally. If it takes me a lifetime, I’ll do it. I cannot give up. I may be a late developer, but one thing cannot be said of me, and that is that I give up the fight. Maybe it’s because I have children, maybe it’s because I have Lil, but whatever the reason, I’m still here. Sometimes barely. But I am. And I intend to stay. Right here. By my side. Until my dying day.

I Promise. two faces love&hate

Homage to my Monste

For far too many years, I have been demonising my monster. I had come to think of It as ugly, scary, shameful, and dangerous. It had become, in my Mind’s Eye, my enemy and my biggest secret known only to those closest to me. I was convinced that anyone else who met It would run away from me, never to return. Tonight, I hope to undo all that by literally paying my deepest respects to my monster. I wish to show It gratitude now. And I’ll do so by proudly bringing It into full view; I will introduce It, describe It, and defend It. No shame. Because, you see, I have recently discovered and come to understand that my monster has actually been my biggest ally, my friend, my protector.

It was birthed at a very young age. It came into existence as my knight in shining armour, stepping into an ugly situation that Lil couldn’t handle on her own, and It fought for me. And It has been fighting for me ever since. Sometimes, I can sense how exhausted It feels, and those are often the times I go into depression – so It can rest.

It has the ability to kick, hit, scream, and destroy. It has the ability to become numb. It has the ability to forget. It knows how to stop caring. It knows how to escape. It knows how to hide. It knows how to play make-believe. It knows how to fool. It does all these things and more in a moment’s notice, no bias, no judgement. It only knows how to protect me, so whenever I’ve felt threatened, It’s there, no questions asked. And It does all these things and more with the utmost expertise.

I love my monster now.gooneyMonsterHomage  I feel so much deep appreciation for the purpose It has strived to serve in my life. It’s a bit sad and scary to know that soon, I will be putting It to rest. I fear I’ll be too vulnerable, too inept to handle things on my own. I fear I’ll be taken advantage of and hurt. I fear I simply won’t know what to do. I just fear. But at the same time, I know it’s time. I am undergoing the most supportive therapy I’ve ever experienced. (I finally feel like I can say anything on the couch without fearing I’ll sound like a freak.) I am still showing myself the long overdue compassion for which my body and soul have yearned all these years, and I’m doing that daily. I have proven to myself that I can stand up to scary people without the monster. But most importantly, I don’t feel like I’m lying under a heap of ashes, wings crumpled, unable to fly any longer. No, I feel like I’m standing, now, at the very least. In fact, I feel like I may be flying again, like the Phoenix that I am, sooner than I had suspected when I started this blog. Yes, it’s time.

 FullSizeRender (2)So I will write a letter on some exquisite parchment paper that is tied into a lovely scroll. I will place this scroll in a special place of honour where I can always see It. This will serve as an honouring and compassionate way to put my monster to rest. It won’t be a goodbye letter. No. Because I know It will awaken and take over from time to time, and when it does, I won’t berate myself. Nor will I let anyone else. I won’t abuse myself. Nor will I let anyone else. Not with words or action. I won’t shame myself. Nor will I let anyone else. And I will do all I can to remember that depression is not needed for it to rest again. I’ll simply thank It, yet again, for It’s hard work, and put It back to rest on It’s place of honour….

A Letter to My Mom…

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Dear Mom,

This is a hard letter to write. I know you’re due one from me, and I know the silence from me has been difficult. For that, I am sorry. It isn’t my intention to ever hurt you. It hurts me to think that I do at these times – these times I need distance while I work through my pain. That’s what I’ve been doing, Mom. Working through stuff. Again. I know you don’t totally understand. We come from vastly different generations. Sometimes, I’ll admit, it’s not easy for me to remember that. You’re so young at heart and full of energy and wit. And you’ve made some tremendous, sweeping changes in your life, it seems. This confuses me into believing that you’re more on the same page with me psychologically than I think you may actually be. That is not a put down. Just a gentle observation. 

Mom, I’m finally undergoing the long-awaited, much-needed, and intensive PTSD therapy I’ve been needing all these years. I found out that I can see a therapist at this amazing place for veterans and family members for free, and since Dad served during Nam, I’m eligible. It’s been amazing. I’m making tremendous stride, I feel. Part of this process, however, has been bringing up a lot of stuff that I thought I’d either let go or has been buried for many years. It’s been painful, and I’ve needed to distance myself from you, as a result. It isn’t all you, so don’t worry about that. It’s many things. But you’re a large part of it, I’ll admit. That’s why I’m writing this letter. It was the suggestion of my therapist that I write a goodbye letter to the mom I wish I had, to put to rest the idea that I’ll ever have that kind of mom – to sort of come to terms with who you truly are to me. Understand, please, that what I write will not be entirely realistic, but that’s not the point. It’s not meant to be. It’s meant to be a letter written from both the little girl and the adult in me who has had such a hard time accepting your way of parenting and who hopes that by finally saying goodbye to “fantasy mom,” you and I can move forward. Because above all else, you’re my mom, and I hope to have a relationship with you, even if it must be different from what I had hoped it to be. 

So here goes:

Goodbye to the mom who communicates on the same page as I do, who is willing to “go there” and be real. Goodbye to the mom who understands that each of us experience forgiveness differently, and that those of us who need more time are not wrong. Goodbye to the mom who never shames me into believing that if I only trusted in God more, I wouldn’t have all these problems. Goodbye to the mom who uses her religion as a personal healing balm, not as a tool against open communication or realness.  Goodbye to the mom who understands what it means to process pain, how long that can take, who will be there for me, with an open heart and mind, patiently, showing (not just espousing) unconditional love and acceptance throughout my journey. 

Goodbye to the mom who truly knows how to embrace her trauma, her pain, her horrible past in a healthy, evolving way, who doesn’t use food and humour and denial as a way to escape. Goodbye to the mom who can REMEMBER. Goodbye to the mom who is willing to face her trauma and is thus, unafraid of mine. Goodbye to the mom who can have truly honest conversations with me about the past (and present), willing to “go there,” who truly can be deep. 

Goodbye to the mom who puts her children’s needs above her own fear of being unloved, who doesn’t keep company with those who have crossed her daughter and granddaughter’s boundaries, or others,’ for that matter. Goodbye to the mom who doesn’t practically sanctify the dead, those who crossed boundaries with me, who sensitively remembers the pain these people caused me and thus, respectfully doesn’t bring them into conversation around me. 

Goodbye to the mom who is gentle. Goodbye to the mom who never scares me. Goodbye to the mom who never did. Goodbye to the mom who never hurt me and who never will. Goodbye to the mom who set out to give me fun and magical, enchanting memories as a child, to help drown out the negative, who strove to giving me a childhood I could remember with joy and laughter. 

Goodbye to the mom who behaves like a mom at all times – not like a needy child. Goodbye to the mom who understands that those needs must be met by another, especially just after hurting me. Goodbye to the mom who can step outside herself and meet my needs when she’s hurt me, taking full responsibility, and without needing me to make her feel better about herself. Goodbye to the mom who takes extra good care of herself both emotionally and physically, who meets her own inner child’s needs with compassion and complete acceptance.

My dear mom, I see now that due to much of the above, a rather surface relationship with you is all that we can manage before coming up against the same blocks in our relationship. I don’t wish for that to happen anymore than you do – this constant butting of heads due to our differences. I want to accept, as hard as this is for me to do with anybody, that our conversations cannot go deep. I want to accept that I cannot depend upon you for emotional help, because even though you’re quite capable, at times, of being there for me, this type of relationship leads me to having higher expectations than you are seemingly able to deliver, and that leads to more heartache. I don’t want that, and I know you don’t, either. But Mom, this also means that you cannot lean on me, either, please, ok? I know you have many friends and your husband’s family who love you and upon whom you can lean, which is really more appropriate, anyway, right? If our relationship was more balanced, I could offer my ear and shoulder, but unfortunately, it never has been, and I accept, now, that it never will be. 

Mom, I suspect that much, if not all, of what I’ve said may sound like Greek to you, and that this is very likely another generational issue. I wish you did understand me more, but you and I are like night and day, and you probably never will. I accept this. I accept that you may want to defend yourself after reading this, and that if you do, it will irk me to no end. However, you’re entitled to respond as you will, of course, and I’m responsible for my reaction. If I don’t react at all, please know that this is just me trying to take care of myself and not engage in another battle that will lead to yet another long(er) bout of silence and distance. 

Can we start on an entirely new page? I want, so badly, to accept who you are, because ultimately, I know you’ve lived through so much pain, so much hurt and trauma, just like me.

I love you, Mom.

Lily

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Breaking the Chain

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In my last post, I mentioned that I am taking steps to ritualise the releasing of my monster. The first step in this ritual was to write about my robbed childhood, as a way to respectfully acknowledge that it really was, in fact, robbed. I didn’t feel bitterness as I wrote that blog. I just felt a sense of resolve. I missed a childhood. Simple as that.

Tonight’s post will serve as the second step of my ritual. This time, I wish to acknowledge who I actually am.

Since I began this blog and journey of Self-compassion, I have felt tremendous sadness and anxiety over what I have assumed was the loss of my real Self, my inner Self, the pure, untouched child I once was – before the first assault. I have cried and wept over the sense that she is gone to me, or at the very least, hiding in fear of ever returning. And I’ve had to accept that her fear is largely due to my own self-abuse over so many years. But recently, thanks to the excellent PTSD therapy I’m finally undergoing, I have learned differently. My therapist expressed how remarkable she thought it was that through all the trauma I’ve endured, I managed to raise two children without repeating that abuse. I managed to grow into a person who has a sense of how people should be treated with respect and compassion. I managed to grow into a person who is honest. I managed to grow into a person who is real. I managed to grow into a tenacious person, ceaselessly working toward self-improvement, in all its varying forms. How was I able to do this? This is the question my therapist posed to me several times until I got it. With her help, I was able to realise that every time I can acknowledge something decent about myself, I can also acknowledge Lil (the name I use for my inner child on this blog, remember?). She has remained with me. It is she who has this heart of compassion. It is she who knows how children should be treated and who made sure mine were given what she wasn’t. It is she who refuses to live in a bubble of denial. It is she who believes that there’s nothing to hide about herself, so why not be an honest, real person? It is she who won’t give up on being all that she can be, having all the peace and happiness her pure heart desires.

As far back as I can recall, I remember saying to myself, especially just after being mistreated, “I will never do that to my kids one day. When I have kids, I’m going to…..” I remember watching moms with their children in movies, before my kids were even born, and saying to myself, “That’s the kind of relationship I’m going to have with my kids one day.” I realise, now, that it was Lil saying this to me.

Before I write my next post, I would like to pay homage to her, first and foremost, for never giving up on herself, for refusing to let the bad guys win, and for making sure that all the love and tenderness she wanted as a child was given to her vicariously through the raising of my own kids. Because of this, I was able to to do the one thing I dreamed of doing ever since I played with my dollies: I broke the chain.

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A Robbed Childhood

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This post will serve as part one in a series of steps I’m taking to put my monster to rest. That may sound strange to those of you who don’t know me intimately, but it will all become clear if you choose to follow along.

In order to accomplish what I’m setting out to do here, I need to first acknowledge the childhood I never had. So often, we hear the term “robbed childhood,” and even more often, we use this expression loosely, as a way to stress pain we commonly blame on our upbringing. Due to this kind of overuse, I tend to shy away from saying that “my childhood was robbed,” but in this blog post, I won’t. Because my childhood really was robbed. To spare you the grotesqueness of the original sin committed against me as a child, I’ll simply hi-light other, rather insidious ways that my childhood was stolen. Bear with me, please; while this post may read as self-pity, it is not. I promise things will lighten up significantly throughout this process!

~ As far back as I recall, I was never allowed to fully express my feelings in my childhood home, if at all. I was taught that unless they were compatible with my parents’ swinging mood shifts, they were not valid, and were, in fact, a nuisance or an outright affront. If I dared to express a feeling that opposed my parents, I was penalised – sometimes physically, but always emotionally. This training turned me into a person who could never fully relax. To this day, I experience anxiety each and every time I know I have to leave the house. To this day, I need to know exactly what lies ahead of me in any new situation. To this day, I suffer from a dire need to control my surroundings. To this day, my body shakes all over, and I feel as if I’m leaving it if I have to confront someone. To this day, I need to know everyone’s astrological signs upon first meeting them, in order to better assess how to respond to whom in what way. (And interestingly enough, I, with my otherwise shoddy memory, am quite capable of remembering their replies after being told only once.) The list goes on…

~ I was hardly ever touched lovingly as a child (and later on, not at all). I recall needing so badly to stay perfectly still one day when I was about 5 or 6 while mom stroked the hair behind my ear over and over; I was convinced that if I moved or shifted in the slightest, she’d realise what she was actually doing and stop. I assumed she was unaware of her tenderness  – how else could she have been so? I only recall my father making contact with me physically to beat me. This went on into my teens – his beatings. This turned me into someone who suspected every person who was kind to me – what was his/her real motive? How long would it last? If they knew how bad I really was, they wouldn’t be nice to me. To this day, I assume that if people really knew me, they’d be horrified and not want anything to do with me. It took me years, well into my twenties, to be truly comfortable with physical contact. And it wasn’t until my forties that I was able to enjoy sex with a man sober…

~ I wasn’t allowed to question anything. The word “why” was a forbidden utterance from the mouths of us children. I was not allowed to disagree with anything, either. I couldn’t even express my opinion by way of certain sounds, like sighing or clicking my tongue (which was quite common with teens, especially, back then – not sure if it still is?). If I did any of the above, I was severely punished, often physically so. This turned out a person who was easily swayed by her peers growing up and even beyond, never fully confident of her own opinions, never self-possessing…I stayed small in public. I didn’t speak out. I didn’t disagree with people outwardly. I did far too many things against my will. I was a follower. I struggled with Anorexia for decades. It took me many years to move away from that and free the Fire Horse in me to kick up her hind legs in fury, and for those of you who know me, well, need I say more? 😉 But prior to the me I am now, which is still relatively new, I was timid, scared, and always anxious. Yes, I still feel those things, and yes, it’s a battle, at times, but thankfully, I have the support around me I need to fight that battle and win – – most of the time…

~ I was told I was dumb on a very often basis. My father told me this literally, and both parents told me this in other ways. “You don’t need to worry about getting high marks – as long as you have C’s and D’s, that’s good enough.” “You don’t need to worry about college. Just get married.” “I don’t care if you’re 17 when you’re married, just make me a grandma!” These are not made up quotes, by the bye. My brothers were encouraged otherwise, but I was discouraged. The primary focus was on my appearance, and even that was conflicting. I was expected to look pretty and be “the cute one,” but I was simultaneously told by my father that my mother was jealous of me (which creeped me out to no end.); it was made exceedingly clear how proud they were whenever people paid attention to my appearance, but I was simultaneously given the message that it was what was on the inside that mattered most and that I needed to be more pure, more like the sweet little Christian girl they always wanted and not to be so vain. I later learned that I could never live up to this type of “pure” girl, and they made that abundantly clear in a number of ways throughout the years. This (accompanied by their incessant control and the sexual abuse) turned out not only my long struggle with Anorexia, but also an obsessive sense of vanity and a belief that my appearance was all I had. I still struggle with this belief, from time to time. I doubted every person that ever claimed to love me – why did they love me? I doubted myself. I struggled to believe that I was smart and worthy of being heard for many years into my adulthood. I’ve never made it past a high school degree, really, and I doubt myself to make the kind of money it would take to support myself on my own. I have learned to depend on men, just like my mom wanted. This is one of my most shameful secrets, but there you have it. No sense in hiding it now.

~ I was forced, not taught, to believe in God, but one who was was punitive, terrifying, merciless, and cruel. I was told of this God sometimes before, but always after a beating – either through scripture that my dad would yell at me or how he’d tell me he beat me like that because God told him to in the Bible, and that he did it because he loved me. This went on until I left the home – (well, until I was, essentially, kicked out from my home, but that’s another paragraph). There are not enough words to describe what this has done to me. It’s still a huge battle. I cannot feel God’s grace, and I cannot wrap my mind around this mercy and love people speak about. This kind of confusion has transferred into my relationships with men, too. I have only given you the tip of the iceberg as to how I was spiritually abused, but suffice to say, my quest to know God is a constant struggle.

~ I was not cared for medically. Twice, I desperately needed to be seen and treated by a physician, and twice, I was not. The first time, my father crashed the car when I was 6 years old, sending me flying, head first, from behind the driver’s seat to the floor of the front passenger’s seat, hitting my head on the dashboard along the way. I developed what I suspect must have been a concussion, which later manifested itself into seizures, and then, full-blown epilepsy. At the time of the accident, my father told me to stop crying, I was fine, and by the time we got home, they assumed all was well, and I was sent to bed. Two years later, I began having petite mal seizures, which made me spill things and break dishes. My mother would rage at me when this happened. My eyes would roll back in my head when they were angry at me, and they assumed I was mimicking my teacher, who had a habit of fluttering her eyelids. So they’d yell at me more to stop that. By the time I was 12, I couldn’t take it any longer, and decided I needed to let them know that there was something wrong with me. I was terrified to even speak to them about it, because I didn’t know if they’d believe me, or if they’d get really angry with me – for what, I’d no idea, but this was the nature of my existence on a daily basis.  The second time was when the school nurse and psychologist in high school told my parents that I needed to be hospitalised for Anorexia, and they were advised to take me to the hospital for evaluation to be admitted. They were angry about having to do this, but they did it anyway, and I could sense it was only to shut up the school officials. We were told to come in as a family, and first, my family was interviewed without me, and then, I was interviewed alone. After this, the doctor told my parents he wanted me to be checked into the Eating Disorders Unit. My parents led the doctor to believe they’d go home and discuss it as a family, and we left. But I knew. I knew they were angry. And as I expected, after dropping the boys off to a local pizza parlour, they brought me home and proceeded to scream and yell at me about how dishonouring I was, how shameful, how they should not be asked to put out money for my rebellion, and so forth and so on. I guess it was considered “rebellious”to them that I was sick and needed help. I dared myself, at that moment, to quietly utter the following, thinking they wouldn’t hear above all the yelling: “You don’t care.” Well, they heard, and after asking me to repeat it, my mom threw an ice-cold glass of water at me. All I was wearing was my night tee. I’ll never forget that. This lack of care turned me into a person who is always afraid I won’t be believed if I’m sick, that I’m a nuisance to my husband if he has to take care of me, that unless I’m diagnosed with something horrible, I don’t have a right to be cared for by him – yet at the same time, I’m dying to be cared for, so when someone who I think should care for me doesn’t show it the way I need, I get hurt and angry…And then, I don’t feel worthy. It’s a conflicting cycle. I also still have epilepsy, and as a result, I cannot drive a car, which limits where I work. I suffer panic attacks that required me to get my dog registered as a service animal. He goes everywhere with me, but this is not conducive to getting work. But all that just feeds into my lack of self-confidence to support myself anyway, so there it is…

~ I couldn’t confide in my parents. I had no knowledge of an “open door” policy with either of them. In fact, their door was, quite literally, often closed off to us kids. They were so wrapped up in their own relationship and world, they didn’t have room for us. We were simply their kids, to be controlled, to use for errands and chores, to make them look a certain way. We were, for the most part, on separate islands. Me and David on one, Glenn on another, and my parents on another. Sometimes, my parents were on separate islands from each other. And before my teens, I was on an island all alone – often with my dog or whatever pet we had at the time. At any rate, if something horrible happened to me, at any point, I couldn’t tell anyone. There was nobody to tell. I had to keep it to myself, tightly packed away somewhere in my body. I was given the message that I was a nuisance, that I was in the way, and that I didn’t matter. This turned me into a person with secrets. So many secrets. So many horrible things happening all around me, and nobody to share them with. Over the years, after leaving my home, and for over a decade, I just kept storing more and more horrible memories, that now (and I only just learned that this is normal for traumatised people in therapy today) I have difficulty focusing and remembering things. I have the sense that I am split into 3 parts – and these three parts of me are not yet integrated. They all feel like a separate person, although it’s not the same as split personality. It’s different. I don’t know who to trust, and too often, I have trusted the wrong people, and I keep wondering why that still happens. When will I ever learn? Part of me so longs to confide and trust in someone, but I don’t have the sense of who that worthy person is all the time. It’s bizarre, because I’m otherwise a very good judge of character. This conflicting sense of who I am is a byproduct of my robbed childhood, I’m learning.

~ My privacy was violated. I had none. My parents read my diary over a period of about a week, and then, quizzed me on things to which they already knew the answer to see if I’d lie, and then, they told me to either repent of my ways, or I was no longer welcome in the home. Up until this point, I’d been dying to get out of that house, so needless to say, I didn’t “repent.” I went to live with friends in my senior year of high school, never to return, except for the week it took me to pack my belongings after graduation and take a one way flight to California. I had no real destination. I just knew I wanted to be in Los Angeles, so I made my way from northern California down….And got married and pregnant at 19. Two years too late for mom, I guess.

I have only touched on some of the ways my childhood was robbed. And here’s the best part: the only way I was able to recognise the above was to keep checking in, as I would begin each paragraph, and asking myself what I did for my own children, how I raised them…And only by answering this, was I continually able to figure out how my childhood was robbed. Because, you see, even with all the abuse going on around me, even through all that trauma, I knew from my early youth that when I became a mom, I would simply do the opposite with my kids, and this would ensure them a real childhood, one that I never had. And I did just that.

And that is the perfect segue to step two. Stay tuned…!

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We really can choose how we want to feel…!

I don’t know about you, but personally, I’ve always found it unnerving when people toss around maxims like, “we choose our feelings” or “we are each responsible for our own feelings” or “nobody can make you feel what you do,” etcetera, etcetera…Not only did this conjure up feelings of inadequacy in me, but mainly, I don’t like feeling confused. And this particular adage confused the f*** out of me. And feeling confused is often a trigger toward feeling out of control. Not a good thing for Lily. 😉 But today, I feel lighter. Yes, today is a good day. And why? Because I believe I have actually landed upon what that saying really means! And I did this quite by happenstance. Allow me to elaborate…

If you’ve been following my blog, you know that it began around the same time that I decided to put myself on a 40 day Self-Compassion journey. Since then (now well beyond the 40 days!), I’ve been diligently showing myself respect, nurture, and love in ways I’ve never before realised were possible. I have seen huge changes in the way I handle things, and a few of the more significant changes have been posted on this blog. Today, I’ll be posting yet another of those changes, as I explain how that once unsettling phrase has suddenly become clear to me.

(To continue with this post, I need to explain that I have a name for my inner child, which happens to also be the nic-name my beloved Grandpa Jack had for me back in the day. As I’m not ready, however, to share that name with the public, I’ll be referring to her as just “Lil,” which is also a shortcut way to saying “little.”)

Over the holiday weekend, I invited my Irish husband over for what has become our shared non-traditional celebration over what is commonly referred to as “Thanksgiving,” but which I have chosen to celebrate with my Cherokee ancestors in mind. This leaves little room for traditional Thanksgiving festivities, needless to say. We had loads of fun, both of us allowing our inner children out to play, and getting much closer than we have been in a very long time. It was the best. We even decided to decorate the tree together on friday! Come late that night, however, things changed, and quite suddenly, my Lil felt threatened and needed to retreat. Immediately sensing this, I put my hand to my Heart, a physical act, which I have recently learned to associate with Self-compassion, whether I’m able to speak soothing words to her or not. Despite what was happening around me, I managed to stay in that space with her. Her safety and trust in me is of the utmost, as I continue to coax her out of her hiding place. It may take a long while before she fully trusts me, but I’m not giving up on her – ever again….

My husband left on saturday afternoon with the gap between us wider still. He has since withheld the warmth and love he gave me on those two blissful days. In the past, this would have infuriated me. In all likelihood, I’d have sent a long email going on and on about myself and how all this was making me feel, and it may have been peppered with a few “how dare yous” and other attempts at trying to get him to hear my hurt and reach out to me. To fix me. To make it all better. To meet my needs. And I certainly would not have shown any concern for his feelings. No, only mine, because mine would be all that mattered as Lil screamed and hollered for her unmet needs to be tended.

Instead of doing that, however, I have stayed connected to Lil. I have spent significant time with her, asking her, “what do you need? what do you want? what would you like to do?” I have stayed present and aware of how she’s feeling, and by doing this, I have been able to meet her needs. She has expressed feelings of fear, abandonment, and confusion. But instead of punishing her for those feelings (through verbal or physical abuse) or ignoring them altogether, thereby causing her to scream or act out until they’re met, I’ve acknowledged them. I have not indulged them, but I have let her know I understand long enough for her to feel heard. Before she can justify sulking in a corner to lick her wounds for days on end, however, I have explained to her that she has nothing to fear, because I am here now, and I will protect her; I will never hurt her or let anyone else hurt her. And I have eased her confusion by also explaining to her that she is not being punished, she has done nothing wrong, that her playmate’s sudden retreat has nothing to do with her. I will administer the healing balm to her wounds. I have quite literally spent time telling her the things she needs to hear to feel safe again, and it’s amazing how little time that has actually taken. She’s pure and simple. She doesn’t need much. Just reassurance from me that she’s safe and protected and not a bad girl. We forget how easy it truly is to love a child, don’t we. But it is, and in so doing, I’ve learned that as I meet her needs, they quickly dissolve into a space of trust and calm, and suddenly, I’m realising that I have just chosen how I feel. 

Remarkable, isn’t it?

I wish this ability for my husband. I truly do. He sent me one of those emails I used to send. Granted, his wasn’t full of direct accusation and threatening statements (our pasts are vastly different), but it was evident that he was reaching out for me to meet his needs, to make him feel all better, to replenish him again, as I had over those two amazing days…He did not show concern for or ask how I was doing since the sudden departure of that bliss. I was tempted to yield to Lil’s desire to kick and scream, but instead, I returned that email with a calm, truthful, and compassionate reply and was thus, better able to express the real need behind her desire for a tantrum. I was even able to reach out to his little boy, who was clearly not getting his needs met by my husband. By doing it this way, I let Lil know I had it under control. This gives her the message that as long as I’m there, she can rest easily, knowing her needs will always be met. (And she has my full permission to get my attention if I ever ignore her again. You read it here!)

So here’s to Lil, for trusting me enough to let me know how she’s feeling, and here’s to the Phoenix I’m becoming, for listening to her and realising that by meeting her needs on my own, not by pressuring someone else to do it for me, I am finally able to not only grasp the meaning of that once unnerving maxim, but I am also able to accomplish its challenge!

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Beginning Anew…

Today commemorates a day of mixed emotions for some of my ancestors’ Cherokee tribe, as well as for other Native American tribes and lineage. This year, I’d like to honour what was originally known as Green Corn Ceremony amongst the Cherokee people, a type of thanksgiving ceremony that started as early as 1,000 B.C. The key things that stand out to me about this ceremony and festival are: leaving grudges behind & and beginning anew. It is in that Spirit that I share this blog post with you today.

The timing of my most recent tattoo is perfection.

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It says, in Hebrew, “I’ll stand by you,” which, if you read the last blog, you’ll know to be the title of a Pretender’s song, sung exquisitely by Chrissie Hynde and my new lullaby to someone very special to me…It’s done in the colour of the PTSD Awareness ribbon, placed on my right arm (right side of body symbolises protector, amongst other things) just by the wrist of the same hand I frequently use to place on my Heart as I say soothing, compassionate things to Self now – whenever I need protection. I got this tattoo yesterday, just in time to commemorate this day of  starting anew, at Native Soul Tattoo (how perfect is that for its name, eh) in the mecca of artists district in Chicago, otherwise known as Pilsen, my very own neighbourhood. Yes, I’m proud. 😉

I’ve gleaned further empowerment from this experience by having paid for it with this:

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I used to work at “Needless Markup” (otherwise known as Neiman Marcus) back when I last returned to the States in 2009. I was at an extreme low in my life, having just undergone a very invasive hysterectomy, and suffering its effects both hormonally and physically, not to mention all the lows that had come with some other choices I’d made around that time. (See Day 29 for more reference.) When my precious Soul-Mate and cat, Ierne, passed away, she left with me the strength to leave that place of abuse, the place that brought me to tears on a daily basis, and she empowered me to believe I could do better. Needless to say, I never stood by myself at that workplace. But I sure did on the 17th, didn’t I! I stood by myself and protected myself against one of the most violent of abusers I’d ever come across in a workplace, and ever since then, I’ve been a changed person – I’ve begun anew!   And the above cut of my portion of a class-action lawsuit against this corporate monstrosity (in which I was all too happy to participate) arrived only this week, within a couple days of my new tattoo’s inception. I immediately knew how it was to be spent. Ah, sweet justice. Take that, Needless Markup assholes! (Ok, not quite in the Green Corn Ceremony spirit, I know, but I just had to!)

The day after that horrible incident at rehearsal on the 17th, I felt so proud that I knew I needed to reward myself for this latest achievement with something that resembled or stood for the Phoenix rising that I’m becoming again. So I did a search and bought this, which was created by an artist I found on Etsy.com who goes by the name DramaGirl, as if that isn’t more perfect!

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She painted that Phoenix rising from the ashes on the back of a darling jean jacket I wear with pride today! And when did this item arrive in my box? Why, yesterday, of course, when I returned from Native Soul Tattoo! Beautiful synchronicity. (I believe I’ve been further rewarded by being cast in a new and far better production by a company called “Benevolent Theatre” opening in February, in which I play the only female lead! The fact that it has the word “benevolent” in its name is so telling if one is to consider the last company I experienced.)

Today, I begin anew. Today, I am that Phoenix, rising from the ashes, wings spread, poised to fly, and ready to envelop myself with the love and protection that I need. And thanks to an amazing session with my therapist yesterday before getting my tattoo, I am also very near ready to let go of the huge grudge I’ve been holding against the monster I created who protected me when I couldn’t. (Stay tuned for that one…)

Thank you for reading! And may today bring you all the peace you so deserve as you learn to trust your Self for the compassion and protection you equally deserve!

Adventures of an Empowered Womyn…

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I think I may have just experienced and come through victoriously my first real test of Self-Love. I’d say I passed with flying colours! Hopefully this adventure’s outcome will be just one of many to come, and let’s pray the tests get easier, while we’re at it, eh? The story I’m going to share with you does not require, for purposes of my blog, all the “he said/she said” details, but if you’re really interested in the full version, please contact me. Anyway, I’m excited to share my latest adventure, so here goes:

So remember how I said in the last blog that my therapist had posed that question as to whether or not I would be able to stop others from disrespecting me or treating me poorly in any way – whether or not I’d extend my Self-compassion outward in this way? I mean, I’ve been real good, so far, with not letting Lily treat my inner little girl poorly, doing all I can to make up for the years of abuse I inflicted on her and let her suffer at the hands of others, treating her with compassion, nurture, and reassurance…I’ve been real good at doing that since this last attempted journey toward Self-compassion began sometime in September. (I just really, really, really want to coax her out of her hiding place! Poor thing.) Well, anyway, that question she asked had me stumped: how was I to know if I’d be able to do this? Especially around my husband? How was I to know I’d not let myself down? Little did I know, then, as I wrote that last blog and pondered these questions with such angst that I’d be faced with an opportunity to do something quite like that…Only not with my husband, but rather, in a situation where I have NEVER been confident to stand up for myself and say “no” to any sort of abuse: The Workplace.

I showed up on monday prepared, as usual, to work hard, diligently, and off-book, as required. I have a good reputation as a professional actor – on time, respectful, compassionate & considerate with my co-workers, appreciative, hard-working, diligent, and pretty much all heart. It’s what I love – the stage. I can’t be any other way. It’s easy to leave my worries behind and throw any/all emotional “stuff” into my character, both at rehearsals, and on performance nights. This is the head/heart space in which I was existing last monday, as it was at every rehearsal prior. Apparently, this was not to be the case with my scene partner that night. He showed up later than the already late time rehearsal had to start that evening due to his personal matters, and when he arrived, he seemed frazzled. He then proceeded to tell the director/writer and stage manager that he’d not be able to get to rehearsals until an hour after call-time from this point onward. No bother – let’s just get started, was my approach to it all. We did. We’re going along in our scene, as usual, and at a stopping point, I seized the opportunity to speak to the director about a certain blocking choice that my partner had chosen to do (the director gave us pretty much free reign when it came to blocking the three scenes I shared with this actor), which was taking me out of the scene, out of my character and into my head, as I struggled to justify the forced reaction to his choice I was compelled to take; his lunging at me, getting right in my face (the blocking choice in mention) whilst yelling profanity and/or cruel insults at a very loud volume were two combined choices that gave me no choice but to move backward and away, and this felt “off” to me, somehow. (I’m one of those actors who needs to justify everything I’m saying and doing – and by this, I mean I simply need to connect to it on some level, at least in such a way that I stay connected to the character and the story.) I deliberately took this issue up with the director, not the actor, because I know better than to mess with an actor’s ego in any way, shape, or form – especially one like the ego I’d already sensed this actor possessed since the table read, when we first met. Plus, it wasn’t his problem – it was mine. I was the one having difficulty staying in character, and as he’d done this at least the past two times in rehearsal, he seemed pretty content with this decision. That being the supposed case, I decided I needed to get down with it, too. So I took it up with our director as gingerly as possible. Regardless of how I expressed myself, it didn’t bode well with my scene partner. He began interrupting to defend himself, and I calmly tried to keep things on target, briefly addressing him respectfully and mindfully when he interrupted, and then, returning to the director to try and continue what I’d started. He continued to interrupt, each time sounding more and more defensive and irritated. I finally asked him why he was getting defensive. This further aggravated him, and he raised his voice louder to say, “I’m not getting defensive!” The argument of whether or not he was being defensive lasted all but less than a minute before he’d begun yelling at me, at which point I threw my hands up in the air and walked out to get some space and peace. (Inwardly, I was getting frightened of his anger, which seemed horribly misplaced, and I needed to get away so I could take care of myself.) The stage manager was right on my heels, following me into the loo, and saying that I didn’t need to return until he calmed down. She said she was scared, too. (She later confessed to me that she would no longer work with him, and here-tell, she’s subsequently left the production.) He had gotten pretty loud and irate over this. It was bizarre. She finally had to return to speak to our director/writer, and after making sure I’d be ok, she left.

And that’s when I took the first step. Still shaking and heart pounding, I went to stand by the heater and let its warmth calm my body. I put my hand on my heart, and I softly whispered, “That must’ve really scared you, honey. You must feel really scared right now. Understand, he’s taking this personally for his own reasons, none of which have anything to do with you, ok? So what you have to do is just go back in there and protect yourself. I’ll protect you, ok? I won’t let him hurt you. I promise. You can trust me. I’ll take care of you.” I have never done this before in a workspace situation. In fact, it’s such a foreign concept to me that I literally had to ask myself what that meant, and the only way I could determine the answer was to ask myself what I’d do if someone had been treating my daughter this way. All it took was a millimeter of second for me to envision the horror of someone treating Ariela like that before I had my answer. I am Mama-lioness, hear me roar.

But first, I am womyn. And not just a womyn, but a moon child, a Cancer, ruled by the moon…nurturing. Walking by him, seeing him sitting on the steps with his head down, I allowed myself to turn around and sit down quietly next to him. You see, in that moment, I truly knew that all he needed was the Feminine. After all, he’s got a little boy inside him, too, and maybe that little boy was running scared at that moment. My nurturing, compassionate energy would be the healing balm we both needed to speak like the adults that we are to each other and go back into rehearsal with our heads held high. The show must go on, as they say, right?

Well, I don’t think he had the same notion in mind. In fact, looking back, I’m beginning to question his motives entirely, but I digress…

This guy was having none of my compassion. Nope. Not good enough. He needed to roar. He needed to push away any possible hope of agape love. It was astonishing, really. I finally had to get up and tell him that this conversation wasn’t real, and that I could only have a real conversation with anyone, at any time. “It doesn’t get more real than this, baby!” was all he could bark at me, as he got up and proceeded to follow me into the room. His yelling continued, and to be heard, I had to raise my voice loudly enough to say what I’d promised my little girl I’d say, “YOU DO NOT GET TO TREAT ME THIS WAY. HOW DARE YOU TREAT ME LIKE THIS!” Ohhhhh, that did it. He flipped. He came after me, lunged at me, screaming now, in my face, the director had to hold him back – it was scary, people. SCARY. And guess what? Even though I began walking out toward the loo again, terrified to my bones, guess what I did?? With the added confidence of feeling the supportive Sisterhood presence by my side (stage manager), I continued to turn around and yell the same protective sentence at him, over and over again. “How DARE you treat me this way!!!” Oh, my, god. I’m telling you, it was amazing!!! I’ve never done this! NEVER! This was the strongest, most empowering, most courageous act of self-protection I have ever taken in such a situation. And furthermore, I’ve never even been in a situation as volatile as this in a workspace! I mean, sure, I’ve been treated horribly, but not in this way. Leave it to me to wait for the worst possible situation before I finally crack my whip. Hah!

Now, I must confess something to you. As empowered as I was to do what I did for myself on monday night, do you know what I kept thinking, both during and after his abuse? I kept thinking that he had some nerve yelling at me as though I were his wife. Wow. Think about that. I suppose you, my Reader, needn’t. But I sure do…

But I don’t want to end on a sad note. I want to tell you that I took something great away from this experience. I took away a bit of knowledge about myself that I couldn’t previously tap. I now know that I can do this. I can face any monster with a roar equal to his and say, “NO.” This may sound hoaky or whatever to some of you, but to me, it’s huge. And in time, I trust that my way of going about it will be, perhaps, less clumsy, for lack of a better word. And maybe it wasn’t clumsy this time. I don’t know. I’m still feeling it all out. All I know is that I have no regrets. I will take this feeling of empowerment to my grave. Shows come and go, but gifts such as the one I got that night are pure gold. The kind of gold that shines eternally from within, so brightly that, treated with care, its rays can dissolve even the ugliest of monsters.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged…-Joshua 1:9

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I’ll Stand by You (by Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders)

Oh, why you look so sad? Tears are in your eyes.
Come on and come to me now.
Don’t be ashamed to cry, let me see you through
‘Cause I’ve seen the dark side too.
When the night falls on you, you don’t know what to do
Nothing you confess could make me love you less.

I’ll stand by you, I’ll stand by you.
Won’t let nobody hurt you, I’ll stand by you.

So if you’re mad, get mad, don’t hold it all inside.
Come on and talk to me now.
Hey, what you got to hide? I get angry too.
Well, I’m a lot like you.
When you’re standing at the crossroads
And don’t know which path to choose
Let me come along ’cause even if you’re wrong…

I’ll stand by you, I’ll stand by you.
Won’t let nobody hurt you, I’ll stand by you.
Take me in, into your darkest hour
And I’ll never desert you, I’ll stand by you.

And when, when the night falls on you, baby
You’re feeling all alone, you won’t be on your own.

I’ll stand by you, I’ll stand by you.
Won’t let nobody hurt you, I’ll stand by you.
Take me in, into your darkest hour
And I’ll never desert you, I’ll stand by you.
I’ll stand by you, won’t let nobody hurt you.
I’ll stand by you, won’t let nobody hurt you.
I’ll stand by you, I’ll stand by you.
Won’t let nobody hurt you, I’ll stand by you.
Take me in, into your darkest hour
And I’ll never desert you, I’ll stand by you.
I’ll stand by you, won’t let nobody hurt you, I’ll stand by you.

Post 40 Day Reflections

So it’s been a long while since I updated my 40 day Self-compassion journey, and I recently noted that it’s actually well past the 40 day mark. Then I realised that I hadn’t even noticed this, because I thought I was still aiming for that 40th day due to the fact that without fail, I’ve maintained my promises! Still meditating, doing yoga, speaking kindly to my Self (even apologising with my hand to my heart on the rare occasions I slip up and say something unkind), and just generally loving my Self better.

I have noticed that in so doing, I have begun vocalising in a more confident manner – especially at work. My daughter joked the other day, “I like this new kick ass actor you’ve become!” My husband poses the biggest challenge for me on this journey, so far, as it’s never been easy for me to courageously disallow mal treatment in a calm and confident manner with him. My therapist asked me the other day, when I told her how I won’t speak or treat my Self poorly any longer, “That’s great. My next question would be when will you make sure others don’t treat you poorly either?” I had to really stop and think about that for a moment. It’s so much easier to do it for one’s Self, but to really stand up and confidently, with compassion for your Self and other, disallow any maltreatment from others is an entirely different ballgame, it seems. The very thought of this scares me, actually. I fear I’ll fail my Self around him.

Spiritually, I’ve had a few (three, to be exact) powerful and moving experiences during meditation, but apart from that, I still feel disconnected from God. My mind, I’m afraid, is still bound up by the dogmatic brainwashing I had to endure. But this is part of the trauma that I’ll be confronting in my new psychotherapy treatment at Road Home – the program for veterans and their family members. I finally found intense treatment for my PTSD, and I couldn’t be more blessed by this.

An unfortunate effect of starting such treatment, however, is to experience a setback, and I’ve noticed that some old triggers have resurfaced. Really horrible ones like panic attacks, fear and hatred of sex, and a general sense that something terrifying is about to happen. This concerns me, but I’m trying to keep things in perspective: I’m still here. My feet are still on the ground. I’m still in my body. And I’m clinging to the message I’m told that God doesn’t leave us, despite what I actually emotionally believe.

But I don’t want to end on a bad note. I just wanted to update a bit, as today was my first real day off in a really long time, and after this, it will get very busy again until after the show closes – and then, it’s Christmas! I’ve no idea what I’ll be doing for this holiday, but I feel blessed that I’ve a roof over my head, central air to keep me warm and cozy, and 4 loving pets (plus one in Spirit – Queen Ierne!) to love in return! There are so many people out there with not even one of these things, and when I am inside my warm flat and look outside at the freezing cold and grey skies and remember this, I feel so much appreciation.

Happy Holidays, gentle readers! I’ll leave you with a quote from the play in which I’m currently cast, which my character says to one of her young, female employees who comes from an emotionally abusive household, and who reminds me of “old” (much younger!) me, “When you are loved, it gives you strength, and when you love back, it gives you courage.” Now consider that in terms of Self-love… 😉

lookingAtSelf