Mo Machnamh

Reflections of a phoenix as she rises from the ashes…

Day 29

I’ve been collecting some things I’m learning and accepting about myself since starting this 40 day Self-Compassion experiment – some happy realisations, some not so happy, but all things I think I’m ready to finally share with you on this 29th day…

The following is a text I got from one of my closest friends of the past 10 years or so:

“Atta girl. I love how you are meeting these challenges and taking them head-on with a positive outlook. So much more different than the Lily I knew 9 years ago. This one’s more take control take action type of girl. Love you.”

My response was one of shock and gratitude. He went on to write:

“I sincerely mean it. You’ve gotten more aggressive and taken on responsibility more directly. You’re more like, “Let me do it. Then I know it will get done right.” When you lost that money in Frisco, you moved on. Something didn’t work, you moved on. I love how you don’t look back and whine about stuff. These aren’t just words, I sincerely mean it. Very inspirational. Your daughter should look to you and take example. As well as others. Keep going strong my love! You are a force to be reckoned with.”

I was so touched by this, that I literally took a photo of the texts and placed that image in a special album on my i-phone. I felt I would need to see it again someday, in case I sink as low as I was 29 days ago. And, of course, I secretly thought to myself, “If he only knew.”

I’m blessed to have people like this in my life who take the time to reflect to me the growth they see in me. Too often, I spend time reviewing all my weaknesses and how much further I’ve yet to go (is that “whining?”), and rarely, if ever, do I spend even a fraction of that time on recognising how far I’ve actually come. I  attribute the failure to give myself kudos to the fact that I’ve been emotionally breaking down for 6 years, at the very least.

Which brings us to the “not so happy.” (And I realise I’m risking making a liar out of my friend here, as some would deem the following as “looking back and whining about stuff,” but I like to see this as purging.)

My marriage. The hysterectomy. Paris. The combination of the three.

When I met my husband, I was soaring. I was happy, living my dream, manifesting on a daily basis one of the main things on my “list-of-things-to-do-before-I-die-so-I-die-happily” list. I’d only one thing left, and even that seemed possible, at the time. But he was in a different head space. He hated Paris. He hated Parisians. He was depressed. And like a good empath, I absorbed all this ugliness. I let it in. It’s my fault for doing this. Not his. But, oh, how tempting it is to be angry at him for this, to say that he destroyed my dream. Yes, I’m afraid I’ve still a lot of work to do on that regard….

And the hysterectomy. I wasn’t sick enough to get that hysterectomy before I met him. I was making progress, healing, doing all the energetic work necessary to keep the poison in my body at bay – to remove it, in fact. But the strain and stress of a relationship gone quickly south, along with the invasion of negative energy (replacing all the positive I’d learned to so effortlessly manifest) had its way, and soon enough, the poison began to grow and infest my power chakra to a dangerous level. I had no choice but to get it removed through further invasion –  this time, by way of French doctors who botched the original plan (to simply remove the poison manually by hand – no cutting) so who ended up cutting – unbeknownst to me, at the time. Needless to say, I felt violated.

Feeling now lower, weaker, and more helpless than ever, or at least in a very long time, I grew to depend on my would-be husband for emotional support. Emotional support that I never got. And not for years following. Any mini-rejuvenating I’ve managed to experience in these past 6 years has been of my own doing. I realise it’s my job to take care of myself, ultimately, but it would’ve been nice to have my husband’s support. I hurt a lot over this one.

And the three of these major life setbacks get all intertwined, becoming one huge, ugly, messy, angry, confusing blob, for lack of a better word. And that blob keeps me from moving forward in my relationship. It keeps me from believing in myself. And far too often, it has kept me from the one thing that I always had in my darkest hours, the one thing that kept me going: hope.

Until now. Doing this Self-Compassion experiment has given me hope for the first time in far too long. It’s only a tiny modicum of hope, but it’s there, nonetheless. Sometimes, I wonder if what I’m feeling really is hope, but then, I realise that if it weren’t, I wouldn’t be getting up every day to meditate and do yoga and say loving things to myself and go on auditions and love my pets and cook delicious meals for myself and dress pretty and try new things and make space for creativity and smile at children…I do wonder if I’m only able to do all this because I’m alone. I do fear that when he moves back I may regress. I do worry that I’ll never be able to move past the blob. But for now, I have hope. Pray it stays this time.

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Day 23

gods-love

I can hardly believe it’s already Day 23 of my Self-Compassion journey!

It’s going well. The other day, I even awakened early enough to attend our local cafe’s group meditation they host on sundays. I hadn’t known of this before, but it was very rewarding. I learned that I am far more capable of meditating in the midst of would-be distraction, such as coffee machines, voices, footsteps, etc., than I had assumed. That was nice. And one of the facilitators is a healer who studies Chi Gong, and as she began to discuss how breathing relates to how we give and receive, I decided to share with her a personal struggle with breath I’ve noticed of late, particularly during yoga. When I first began doing yoga in my thirties, I was able to inhale very deeply and exhale very deeply. But lately, I am seemingly incapable of inhaling deeply, despite the fact that I can still exhale deeply. I found that strange and unreasonable, needless to say, but when I shared that with her, she replied that our inhales indicate our ability to receive, and our exhales indicate our ability to give. She suggested that I may be struggling with receiving compliments and love and such from people, but I didn’t resonate with this, so I was ready to toss aside this theory until I realised that although I can receive love from others, I struggle receiving it from myself. To test this, I did a quick memory scan of my emotional state when I last recalled being able to inhale deeply, and sure enough, I recall being in a far more gentle space back then. I was doing all kinds of stuff for myself as I journeyed toward self-healing. That was in my thirties. And as I said at the start of this blog, all that went out the door in the past 6 years…

But before I digress into a place of bitterness and anger along those lines…

I am doing a lot for myself again. And it is my intention to continue for as long as possible along this path. I think the key is to never feel you’ve arrived. To just “keep on keeping on,” as they say, never letting any outsider intrude upon your sacred space of self-love in a damaging way. I won’t do this ever again. That is my plan, anyway.

Another thing I’m doing is attempting to develop a relationship with Mother Mary. I have been searching for a mother figure for so long – someone who will fill up with love the holes of pain my birth mother drilled into my psyche with her abusive tongue and violent temper. Needless to say, I’ve often attracted more dysfunctional womyn (and some men) who behave exactly as she did and bring up many of the same triggers she helped to create in me. After years of being hurt by the protestant Church within its varying sects, my beautiful and courageous cousin Louise turned to the Catholic church for the message of God’s Love to ease the damaging scars of legalism and judgmentalism that her experiences as a protestant had brought her. Some would say that this is crazy – that the Catholic Church is responsible for damaging so many in the same regard. But her personal experience has been anything but, and that is what matters most – one’s personal experience with God. She has found the beauty of God’s Love worshipping as a now converted Catholic, and much of this has to do with the comfort she finds in Saint Mother Mary. She sees Mary as the ultimate Mother to all. As someone who, being without sin, is incapable of wounding any of her children, as so many of our earthly mothers do. To hear her speak of Mary is an eye opening experience for me, to say the least.

The subject of her understanding of Mary came up in conversation today as I relayed to her, through tears, my very justified sadness and anger I feel surrounding my parents and how poorly they raised me. Part of this Self-Compassion journey, as you may have read in “Day 12,” is to finally be coming to a place of realised empathy for that little girl in me who was so deeply wounded by her parents…and still is. Louise, in all her infinite wisdom, suggested that I turn to Mary as my mother. I’d never considered this before. I began to ask a ton of questions, and by the end of the conversation, I had her promising to send me links to meditations I could do to meet Mother Mary, and tonight, I did my first one. Nothing profound happened in that meditation, but I’m going to continue this journey at least until I feel I’m aware of her  presence in my life.

Years ago, a psychic I went to (and only at the recommendation of a girlfriend whom I trusted on such matters – and even then, I remained sceptical enough not to give the psychic any information) told me that she saw a womyn around me. She described her as being dark, with very long, dark hair, and dark clothing. She said that this womyn has been a presence in my life for a long time and is a protective energy or something to that effect. I now wonder if this is Mother Mary. I also did  guided meditation recently to meet my personal guardian angel, and when instructed to ask its gender, I got “female.” This surprised me, as I’d always envisioned and thought of angels as male up until that moment.

Well. There you have it. Some of my discoveries. All of them little gifts I feel I am receiving. I’ll close by sharing a link with you that was recently shared with me. A message about God that I’ve never heard before, and needless to say, it’s still percolating. I’ve a hunch it may have to do that for a good while before I’ll finally be able to wrap my mind around this kind of God. Be prepared, though: if you suspect that we have anything in common in regard to our pasts, you may find yourself sobbing frequently throughout this message. Let the tears flow. They’re healing.

Love…

Day 12…

You know, it’s funny. I didn’t plan to post every 4 days during this 40 Day Self-Compassion journey, but yet, here I am, doing just that. I have a significant relationship with the number 4, both in numerology (birth date) and my own “OCD thing,” for lack of a better way of describing the strange obsession I seem to have always had with this number. But that’s not why I’m posting tonight…

LittleMeAndSammy

I had I breakthrough in couples counselling today. It was so unexpected. I’ve been feeling so numb and shut off from my Heart for what seems like at least a couple months now, if not, more. But without fail, for the past 12 days, I’ve maintained the promise to show myself compassion through daily meditation, rejoining and restarting my yoga routine, compassionate self-talk, and absolutely no self-abuse – physical or verbal. With exception to once in the past 12 days, I have felt virtually nothing whenever I meditate or pray. Nonetheless, I continue to practise loving myself. I’ve definitely noticed that I’m going easier on myself about things and feeling lighter, but not much beyond that…

But tonight, in couple’s counselling, something happened.

My husband was going on and on, venting his anger and bitterness about me, and I found myself going numb and regretting that I’d ever made the decision to stop self-injuring for 40 days. I worried that we’d leave the session, and I’d have no recourse by which to protect myself from being too vulnerable around him. I could feel myself drifting – not into a sleep, but something like an awakened sense of sleep. It’s hard to explain. It’s a rather dreamy place, but not in the romantic way. Get it? Anyway, there I was. I was occasionally noticing the clock and that the session would end in 4 minutes. (There’s that 4 again!) But instead of ending the session at 6:50, our counsellor checked in with me. She started asking me the usual questions, and then, I don’t know what she said, but next thing I knew, I’d begun to cry. She asked me if I needed anything from either herself or my husband, but I answered that I felt too vulnerable to express any needs. Then, she asked me if I’d ever read any books on trauma. She recommended the book Waking the Tiger, by Peter Levine, and I asked if it would help PTSD. That’s when the floodgates started to open. Aware that I wasn’t alone, I tried to stop them from opening all the way, and I fairly succeeded in doing so, but not enough to stop my counsellor from pausing and checking in with me again. And this is when it happened – the breakthrough, because for maybe the first time in my life, I let myself cry for that little, precious girl inside who was so wounded – without feeling shame. For the first time in my life, I didn’t need anyone else to comfort her, because I was comforting her. My husband didn’t reach out to me at all, but this was ok. Oh, sure, I’d have preferred that he’d shown some compassion, but something in me knew I’d be ok even if he never did. Something in me knew that my wounded little girl would be cared for and loved regardless. Because I would care for her and love her. And I did.

And I do.

LittleMeExcited

Day 8…

AriAndMyself

My daughter and I have always enjoyed the most invigorating, mind-expanding, and inspiring conversations, and today was no exception. Some enlightenment I’d like to share today stemming from our talk:

* Just yesterday it occurred to me that The Church judges and practically condemns to hell people who have and use the ability to do the very thing that I was doing on a semi-regular basis as a 4-5 year old child: levitation and/or astral projection. Does this mean they would have tried to cast Satan’s demons from me at age 5 if they’d known? (For *some* reason, I was always aware that my parents could never know about this ability I had to “fly,” as my innocent child-self referred to it.) What struck me about this was that I know I was innocent. I had not let the Devil inside. I had not been playing with Ouija boards or dabbling in “other worldly” activities. I was even being raised in a God-fearing home. God-fearing – ugh. I hate that expression, but sadly, that’s what it was, and that’s what led to my eventual turning away from it all for so many years. But I digress…I was not possessed by the Devil. I was pure. In fact, I was probably more connected to God then than I have ever been. And yet, had I done that as an adult, or had others learned of it, this ability would have been demonised. Since that does not add up to me or seem in the least bit right, I have concluded that this ability is not something to fear – a direct answer to my daughter’s prayer for me the other night, I learned! 🙂 I’ve concluded that this ability (and others that I’ve let wither over the years) is from God and is meant to help others. I intend to discover how. I know that I am very drawn (and always have been) toward empowering others toward their Truth, especially young ladies, so maybe there is a place for my God-given powers there. Who knows? But God does, and as I continue to seek His Spirit and His Truth, rather than depending solely on The Church’s, I know my calling will articulate itself.

* Along those same lines above, I find it interesting how The Church and the Secular World battle over powers. Both are guilty, in my opinion, of rather conveniently, it would seem, picking and choosing which powers are acceptable. The Church has no problem with speaking in tongues and translations thereof in the form of prophecies (aka “channelling” in the Secular World), nor does it have any problem with the laying on of hands for purposes of healing (aka “Reiki” in the Secular World). And The Secular World has no problems with all other powers, but would mock and/or judge as “insane” those Christians who practise speaking in tongues or who prophesy and do Pentecostal hands-on healing. I’m sure there is more, but these are the obvious observations that immediately come to mind to make my point that there is a double standard happening here. I’m concerned that there is so much battle over powers. And I’m embarrassed and saddened that The Church is actually far more judgemental over The Secular world than vice versa in this regard, as they would go so far as to condemn these other practitioners to hell when in fact, having lived in the West Coast for so long, I was privy to such practitioners on a near daily basis, and many of them are healers and give God the credit for their abilities. Many of them follow Jesus, just like those in The Church. Are they going to hell, just because they call it something different? Why do we get so caught up on terminology when it comes to such things as this? I mean, when I was growing up, my parents consulted me frequently for major life decisions. They said I was given the “Gift of Intuition” from the Holy Spirit. In other words, to the Secular World, I was psychic. So what’s wrong with this word? Why is that such a dirty word in The Church, if by its very definition, it’s achieving the same results as one who has the “Gift of Intuition?” There are verses all over the Bible that support having powers, and excuse me, but I don’t think they were labelled as they are now, am I not correct? This is the kind of stuff that makes my head spin. I get so tired of all the battling between the Two Worlds. And The Church even uses its powers to try to “cast out” or even annihilate those of the Secular World. Such close mindedness. Is this really what Jesus had in mind? Is this really what he intended? So why do we care so much that we’re actually battling and judging people over it? It’s so sad to me…Sad because it causes people like me to go on for years not doing anything with the powers bestowed on them, and all those years, who knows? Maybe those people were meant to heal and minister God’s Love to the lost?

* And finally…I was not meant to be a “career womyn.” I was not made for this. It isn’t in my dna. It isn’t a part of what makes me tick. It isn’t Me. For years, I’ve judged myself for not being a career womyn. I’ve judged myself for having been, for the most part, supported by another, and when I wasn’t, for supporting myself through meager means that gave me more time to be creative and play. I don’t know how or what sparked my sudden realisation that I wasn’t made to be a career womyn, but at one point in our conversation, it just hit me. But the best part about this realisation is that it softened me toward myself. It made me see that there is no shame in being different. Just because I grew up during the second and largest feminist movement does not mean that being a different type of feminist makes me less than. I’m proud of my Sisters. I’m proud of their fight toward equality. And I’m grateful. But just because I’m not on somebody’s salary and rubbing shoulders with executives 40+ hours a week wearing designer pant suits does not mean that I’m any less a feminist, any less a strong, independent, powerful womyn. Independence: what does that mean, anyway? Freedom from a man? Financially self-supportive? Merriam-Webster states “self-sufficiency” as a synonym for independence. So I ask, what makes me any less self-sufficient just because I have a man financially supporting me? That’s only one aspect of my livelihood, but that’s not Me. He’s not the reason I am who I am. I’m the reason I am who I am. I have chosen to live in my Truth, and part of that is that I am not a career womyn, and I’ll never fit into that mold, so why try and squeeze myself into it? Part of that Truth is that I am a person who marches to my own tune, not the tune of Societal Dictates. And I love this about myself, and guess what, so does my husband. It’s one of the primary reasons he was drawn to me. And guess what else? He likes supporting me financially. This feeds a need in him. Why should either of us deny that need in the other? I love making money! And I’d love for my husband to make money doing something he enjoys more than what he currently does. And I believe that the sooner I can come to FULL terms (because let’s not kid ourselves here – I’m writing all this mostly for my own benefit, eh?) with who I am and embrace Her wholly, the sooner I’ll be able to make money doing what I love. Could this be one of the benefits of my self-compassion journey? A little gift today? How nice!

Now…time to let it all percolate.

ladyHoldingWorld

Day 4…

“To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance.”

Oscar Wilde

I’ve been quoting Monsieur Wilde for many years, and this has always been one of my favourites. Probably because I’ve always wanted to master the art of self-love, yet even in my most confident hours, I secretly knew that I hadn’t and probably wouldn’t come by that coveted romance easily. Today, I fully realised that I’ve spent 48 years verbally (and eventually, physically) abusing myself. FORTY-EIGHT YEARS! That is a long time. So needless to say, day 4 of trying to the very opposite of this engrained and learned behaviour has been tough, to put it mildly.

My commitments seem simple enough:

1) daily meditation *

2) daily, compassionate self-talk

3) yoga as often as possible *

4) and absolutely no self-abuse whatsoever – physical or verbal

Check, check, check, and…..mmmyeahhhh, it’s that last one that has me going a bit nuts over here. That’s why it’s a good thing that my husband is leaving tonight to stay with a mate for 6 weeks; whenever I get really anxious and want to self-injure, I remember that damn 4th commitment, and instead, I lash out at him. It’s horrible. Then, of course, I feel like a piece of crap, so I want to abuse myself even more, which, you guessed it, makes me lash out even harder at him. And who has the ability to bring out my anxiety more than anyone else on the planet? My husband. Oh, it’s horrible. It’s just so horrible.

(You’ll be relieved to know that we start marital counselling tomorrow, and starting next thursday, we’re going to a marriage conference that meets weekly at our church for 7 or 8 weeks.)

I hate that it’s so much easier for me to love myself when I’m not in a relationship with a man. I hate that I distrust men so much that it comes between me and Jesus, the only man that won’t ever hurt me. I hate that the one man I seemingly find impossible to leave is the one man that can bring me to my lowest form of self on a repeated basis. I hate that at forty-eight years old, I’m only just now getting that to love oneself is not just the beginning of a life-long romance, but something that I may not have ever really done.

Or have I? Is it possible to love oneself and then fall out of love with oneself, or is Oscar correct in his assessment of it being “life-long?” Because I can swear that in my thirties, thanks to Sark, The Artist’s Way, countless meditative baths, and a husband who embraced living in Truth, even when it meant losing me to my own…I can swear I loved myself then. I really felt happy! From ages 33-41, I grew toward increasing confidence, and I was gentle with myself. I lived in honesty, both to self and others. It hurt, at times, but I was so supported by those around me on this venture that it was possible to do without regrets and self-abuse. I flew. My Phoenix wings were spread so wide and far that it took me all the way to Paris, my dream – alone, no job, no place to live, and not even a grasp of the language. I never felt such bliss.

What happened to me? Why did I stop loving myself? How could I betray myself like this? How could l go from making my dream come true through sheer confidence to…this? These questions lurk in the pit of my Soul on a daily basis.

And for the past 6 years, since I was 42, I have shrunk. I have gone from Phoenix with wings spread wide to a crumpled heap of withering bird on the ground, wings flat and lifeless, covered in grey and black ashes of despair and hopelessness. Dramatic? Yeah, it is. But it’s truly the closest to expressing how I feel without frightening my children (in case they’re reading this). It devastates me that I stopped loving myself….

So this is Day 4. This is how I feel. But I’m going to plough forward. I’m going to maintain my commitments. That’s my commitment to You, my Reader, because promising You is more valuable right now than promising myself.

One day…

sadphoenix

 * Angel Guided Meditations (find on Spotify!)

* Yin Yoga Collection

Self-Hatred to Self-Love in 40 Days…

selfabuseThis is yesterday.

I have given myself 40 days to go from what you see above to what you see below.

selflove

This inspiration can be attributed to two people: my daughter and Kristin Neff. After a horrible day spent verbally abusing myself, my daughter (who knew nothing of this) sent me the following message in a text late last night:

“Hey mom. Going to sleep. But it just occurred to me that I think you should be told that you’re Perfect. I love you” (This was followed by some emoji gold stars and half moon.)

We’ve always been extraordinarily connected and close, but synchronicities like this never cease to amaze me. So I called her and asked her what provoked this message. In that short conversation, she reminded me of Kristin Neff’s talk on “The Space Between Self-Esteem and Self-Compassion.” When I first saw this, I was intrigued, but was so low that I thought I’d never be able to achieve the kind of compassionate self-talk that Kristin exemplified. I wanted to, but it just seemed so far-reaching. But yesterday, I hit a new low in verbal self-abuse. Perhaps it was my lowest? They say you can only go up from the bottom. Regardless, I knew something needed to change. I decided to try it before going to sleep. I put my hand on my heart, and I said all the things to myself that I wish someone had said to me after and during the provoking incident earlier that day. I spoke aloud as I did this. I immediately began to cry. Who was the first person we’d run to when we were little if we had a boo boo? Provided she wasn’t abusive, it was our moms, yes? And as soon as they’d say or inflect in their tone of voice anything along the lines of “poor baby,”we’d sob even harder. Maybe we weren’t really crying in the first place, but if our moms or anyone nurturing paid attention to our boo boo, we’d surely start, wouldn’t we? And I don’t think this ever changes. I know that if I’m hurting and putting up a tough front and someone comes along and says in that perfectly soothing voice, “How are you, really?” (or something derivative thereof), I start to cry. Don’t you? That’s what happened to me. I finally spoke soothingly to myself, and instant waterfall.  And the more I spoke, the more keenly aware I was of my heart. My heart actually felt hurt. I could feel its aching for love. It was as if the need was insatiable and that this insatiableness was what made it ache. This, then, made me realise that my self-abuse has gone on for so long that I may never be able to give myself enough love! It was a strange but oddly comforting feeling. To know that I could but put my hand on my heart, at any point in time, and speak words of compassion and understanding, and things would instantly improve. So simple. Yet so hard to remember. Why? Why is it so hard to remember to do something that will make us feel so much better? And then, even if we do remember, why do we so often refuse to do it?

I hope to do this daily. I hope to change my default reaction of self-abuse to one of self-compassion. Make it a habit. I think if I do this every day for 40 days (til Halloween, to be exact) and then, on top of that, disallow myself any bodily self-harm, I may stand a chance at really changing. It helps that I’m not allowed to drink until 31 October (thanks to a deal I made with my dear friend Alecs), because talk about bodily self-harm! Seems I have a hard time saying no to just one or two drinks. 😉

I also plan to spend these 40 days meditating as often as possible. I began today by choosing a few different ones on Spotify that focus on empowerment, the Holy Spirit, self-compassion, Jesus…In church this past weekend, I was reminded through the sermon that too often we forget that this whole path we’ve chosen is about relationship to and with Jesus, rather than facts and knowledge and such. When we focus on the latter, that’s when all the uncertainty sets in, and this uncertainty separates us from the Love, which is Christ. That’s definitely been my experience lately. I’ve literally felt my Heart turn off, become numb and reactionless, as I’ve gotten more and more in my analytical headspace. I miss my Heart. I think true enlightenment comes when you stop caring about what you don’t know. I’m not quite there yet. I still care about all the things I don’t know or to which I don’t have definitive answers. I long not to care so much. I long to get in that headspace of silent peace and acceptance. Is that intellectual suicide? Or is that what faith is? I don’t know. I don’t know anything. There are just too many answers out there. Too many differing opinions and philosophies. It makes my head spin sometimes. Maybe I’ll discover more after these 40 days of meditation and self-love.

I’ll be in touch…

Addendum.

Hello, readers.

This is a very short addendum to a former post in which I negatively referenced past and current relationships I’ve shared with significant males. I would like to qualify that statement by saying that both my daughter and son’s father (two separate men) have turned their lives around drastically and have, thus since, apologised to me, taken responsibility, and asked forgiveness with regard to the ways they hurt me, and I have, likewise, done the same with them. I am a blessed womyn to be on such good speaking  and relational terms with both my children’s fathers and stepfather. I was very angry when I wrote that post, and they were merely mentioned to make a point, not to hold them accountable. I am happy to say that the pain experienced in those marriages is truly “water under the bridge,”and I would like to publicly apologise to them both, as well as to the other influential men who played a large role during my children’s educating years, for making it seem otherwise.

Respectfully,

Lily

“She Can’t Even Get Her Own Act Together.”

Those words hit me like a punch in the gut tonight. A note to all you people out there with mobile phones to be more mindful of “butt dialling.”

I’d just been mulling over whether or not I should write on the topic of shame tonight, and my phone rang. It was an actress I’d worked with on a recent production. I had just sent her an invitation to subscribe to this blog, and I figured she wanted to either ask who I was (we didn’t get to know each other much, and we had no scenes together), or maybe, I figured, she just wanted to ask me not to email or text her again. It wasn’t until I heard her say, “And now she wants to be a life coach….” that I realised it was an accidental call. So I did what any healthy, masochistic person would do: I listened. Well, you know the rest of that sentence. There was more said to the listening audience she *knew* about, but it was only her description of which one I was in the show. Nothing as juicy as her shaming words. If only she knew…

If only she knew how closely those words echo my own. If only she knew that those words are so loud in my head that I have so much as told my poor intern she’ll have to wait even *longer* to cash in on all her hard earned time and energies for that indefinite coaching I promised in return. And if only she knew how much that alone shames me.

If only.

Those are Shame’s favourite words, it would seem. Oh, Lily, if only you hadn’t said that, done that, thought that, etc.; fill in the blanks – this list could go on for an eternity. I had thought maybe I’d write about all the things for which I’m ashamed, but now I wonder what purpose would that really serve? I rather already did some of that in the first post, anyway. No, I think I’ll just write about my current battle with Shame.

Shame and I are very intimate these days. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that I’m having a torrid affaire with Shame. Yes, Shame and I are practically “doing it.” Shame really likes to manipulate and dominate, I’ve learned. And control. I think It gets off most on the control, which is related, but not exactly the same as the first two traits mentioned. Shame has near perfect control over me right now. “Ah, let’s see, how can I make Lily hurt herself this time? How long can I keep her on her bed today? How much can I make her believe that shit her husband tells her when he’s hurting? How far can I push her – to the point of no return? HOW MUCH CAN I DO TO MAKE HER LOSE EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE SO IT’S JUST ME AND HER?”

You see, that’s what It wants. It wants me all to Itself. It wants to dominate my life, my every breathing, waking, sleeping thought, fantasy, and dream. I can *feel* this. I am doing little things, though, little things to not let It get the best of me. For example, today, when I heard that voice on the other end of the line say those words I somehow knew, even then, would be the title of this post, instead of hurting myself, crying, texting her something snarky, calling someone up for a pity party, etc., I let myself stand there, in the middle of the room, and *feel.* And you know what? It didn’t really hurt after a while. In fact, it just inspired me! Because now, here I am, writing! HA! Take THAT, Shame! And a nod and and wink to my hurting sister by whose fearful judgment I was able to glean the perfect title for my blog. 😉

…..

I just got off the phone with my daughter. If God exists, she is proof of it. She told me that everything I’m experiencing, even my doubts about God (another playground for Shame), were created by God. I asked how, and she said that when He created me, He knew He was creating an inquisitive mind that would always want proof, and that all this doubt I’m currently experiencing is just all part of what’s shaping me for something for which He’ll use me in the future. She was so confident and matter of fact about it. I love my kids.

Back to Shame. (Don’t worry, my fiendish friend, I’m not breaking up –  – yet.) My hope in writing this blog is twofold: that it will help others who struggle with the same, and that my own relationship with Shame will lighten up a bit. You see, that’s my problem, I move too fast in relationships. I’ve always done this, and my relationship with Shame is no exception. As soon as we met, we were like soul mates. I really want to lighten this up a bit – develop more of a sense of humour about it all. Treat this torrid affaire more like a one-night stand. There’s something I know plenty about. Wait, was that Shame talking? Silence! It’s *my* blog! There we go – that’s what I mean. This is how I want to handle Shame. Can I get an amen?

 

 

Give & Take

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I grew up in a home with parents whose marriage was anything but equal. Dad was certifiably insane and thus, extraordinarily selfish, and mom was certifiably sane and thus, his selfless caretaker – mostly, at our (her three children’s) expense. Like all reasonable kids who come from abusive homes, I vowed never to become like mom. When I had kids, they came before any partner, and likewise, I took no interest in selflessness. I would probably say that I fell into a bit of extremism on both regards. I’m now paying dearly for all this. I turned out two adult kids who abused that power with me; I’ve since learned that I “falsely empowered” them – an actual term I read about recently in The Intimacy Factor, by Pia Mellody. And I’m admittedly, shamefully, and sometimes grotesquely selfish in my relationship with men – only with men. Womyn don’t remind me of dad, so there is no threat of falling into my mother’s pattern of co-dependency, and when there was, I was gone! With the opposite sex, on the other hand, I have almost consistently managed to attract into my life, as partners, selfish, stubborn, and dramatic men with narcissistic leanings (hello, dad!!), and my husband is no exception. So needless to say, our relationships become a battle of who will get their way, because I sure as hell ain’t gonna become like my mom!

So today, on the phone with my straight-shooting, Sagitarrian daughter, I was going over (in a very “scratch-the-surface”kind of way, so as not to overwhelm her) my most recent marital woes to explain why we’ve recently decided to re-enter couple’s therapy. Naturally, and as usual, thanks to the past 5 years of heartache she’s had to witness, she didn’t waste time nor mince words in expressing her strong feelings on the subject of my union with him. In his defense, I reminded her that he came from a family that never dealt with feelings and never addressed anything beyond the surface, so imagine the shock to his system when I come along, California girl that I am (which, mind you, is not to be confused with American), and simultaneously, he decides to go sober. Her response? “Then you’re the perfect person for him, Mom.” She went on to say that he’s probably learned more from me than any other person and that I’ve given him so much through this. Brief pause on the phone as I took this in for a moment, and then I, Ms. I’m-never-gonna-let-a-man-take-more-from-me-than-I-give-like-mom-did, asked her, “So what do I get from him?” Her reply was what provoked this blog post. She told me that it’s ok to give more in a relationship to someone than what one gets, because a lot can be learned in selflessness. Wow. With the help of my wise, 24-year old daughter, I do believe I’ve landed upon the reason why this marriage remains such an incessant struggle for me. I have not accepted my gift from him – to learn selflessness. It’s too hard-hitting for me, thanks to my past, thanks to watching dad take from mom, leaving her crying in a heap too many times than I care to recall. Each time I resist being selfless, my life gets that much harder, and my marriage suffers intensely.

I am miserably married right now. He is selfishly, proudly, and agressively struggling to be heard, to have his voice heard as never before, thanks to his Irish head-in-the-sand family upbringing, and I am selfishly refusing to hear him thanks to my narcissistic father and co-dependent mother, as I shudder in fear to become a doormat. It’s pretty messy.

I’m pretty messy…. After another bout of struggling to get him to admit responsibility and own up to what I felt he owed me, and him coldly, cruelly refusing me until I was ready to crack, I’ve got self-inflicted bruises aching to appear all over my body and 4 lovely red lines on my wrist promising to never let me forget this night. For the moment, though, it dried my eyes and steadied my breathing long enough to finish this post, and who knows, maybe I’ll actually be able to evolve from the whole ugly ordeal…Please, God?

 

Forgiveness & Its Violator

 

 

I originally started this blog, because I am on a venture toward freedom found in forgiveness, and I have been getting some discoveries along the way. The way I’m doing it is to read one chapter per week of “Choosing Forgiveness” by Nancy Leigh DeMoss and then meeting with a womyn from my church to go over the workbook part of it together. I’m halfway through the book now, and today, I started a list of all the people I’ve not forgiven and what they did to me. Mind you, I’m not talking about forgiving my neighbour for littering or an old high school teacher for humiliating me in front of all my classmates (although, come to think of it, maybe Mr. Getchel should go on the list, too..??). No, I’m going for the jugular; I’m attempting to forgive my sexual violators. (And yes, there is an “s” at the end of that horrible word.) I figured that if I can forgive those creeps, I can forgive anyone, right? Including my high school gym teacher, my husband, previous co-workers, a local shopkeeper, ex-boyfriends…to name a few! (You know what? I’m over Mr. Getchel. Couldn’t care less about sports.)

One of my reasons for being so unable to forgive is the good ole obvious:self-righteousness. So ugly. It’s pretty embarrassing to admit this, but I am really attached to that one. But being attached to it like I am has kept me from accepting God’s grace, which is precisely what I need in order to extend it toward others. My self-righteousness has me in a place of feeling I don’t even need his grace for my sins, because hey, those sins are NOTHING compared to how I was wronged, right? So as long as I feel that way, I miss out both on feeling his infinite grace and extending it toward others. Ugh.

Knowing this, why do I stay so attached to my self-righteousness? Why do I choose to miss out on so much peace and compassion and gentleness? I got my answer to this today.

Holding onto this self-righteousness is a way to self protect!

Hear me out, please. When my first sexual violator committed his heinous act on my little 5 year old body, needless to say, I was never the same. Instead of making him the monster, I became the monster. At least in my own head I did. And if I could eventually become a monster in a more concrete way than just feeling like one, I could make sense of that creeping feeling that I was a monster (which often had me more than a little confused). And later in life, when the rage set in, I did just that. But from that moment onward, I was convinced that anyone who looked at me could see the monster if only they looked closely enough. (This was only exacerbated with each violation, of course.) So I learned to keep people at arm’s length. Especially my male partners, as I got older. One way to do this, I learned, was to cheat. One foot in the door, one out. And I ran. As fast and as hard as I could, away from the monster. Away from me. Away from the innocent little girl who absorbed my first violator’s monster and every one after that.

By the time I left my second of two abusive husbands at age 26 (the second of whom was married with two kids when we started our affair), I decided it was high time I adopted an entirely new attitude if I was going to survive the life of a single womyn – one who couldn’t escape judgement as married, so would surely attract ten times that amount otherwise! I became a feminist, and I celebrated my independence abundantly and began to discover things that made me feel powerful again. I developed an overall strive toward sexual freedom and hedonism in every sense of the word as I knew it. And I stopped apologising for doing things that my male counterparts did all the time, yet who still managed to escape societal judgement. And voilà, the seed of poloyamoury was planted.

So basically, and to glaze only the tip of the iceberg, I was a slut in high school, a two-time divorcee/cheat/marriage-wrecker before I hit 26 (not to mention a single mom with two kids under the ages of 6 also at age 26), who eventually became a feminist with unshaven armpits, lesbian-turned-bi-sexual, polymourous, 3-times divorced/4-times married, twice-hospitalised for anorexia, Sunset strip clubbing, private dancing (yes, that kind), hormonally-challenged (aka “mad”), art (aka “nude”) modelling, free-spirited (aka “rebellious and mouthy”), tattooed, new-age-turned-Jesus-following actress. And I was still running as fast as I could from the monster I knew was really me.

Yeah, I was judged a lot. Still am, I’m sure. What’s not to judge? Don’t get me wrong, some of those things on that list above are not things I feel I need to change about myself, even as a follower of Jesus. I know many would disagree, but that’s not what this post is about… My point is that I really cannot recall a day in my life when I didn’t feel judged or prone to it – given enough time getting to know me. Including today…So you see? Being self-righteous protects me from those piercing eyes, sideways glances, quiet murmerings, fearful and worried expressions, outright insults, subtle criticisms, and blatant dislike. Being self-righteous allows me to own my sins and/or easily-judged ways without shame, without contrition. Contrition that leads to feeling God’s grace.

And this all stems from sin. Sin committed upon me at a ridiculously young and innocent age. And it’s those sickos that I have to forgive. This isn’t gonna be easy, is it…

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