Living Today – After Pain

I hurt for years. It was bad. The pain enveloped me, which made it impossible for my senses to find clear guidance. I don’t want to go through it again, nor anyone else. For the love of God, let it stop with me. The rolling tide of generational abuse doesn’t need to continue. People pleasing, bowing to bullies, and narcissistic abuse should not be normal everyday life. But it was my life.

I never knew what it meant to be “Present.”

Working with therapists on emotional healing and emotional literacy to recognize my pain has helped me see more panorama.

A child recites her alphabet. She sounds out the letters, combining them, and struggling to form words. When the connection happens inside the child’s mind, it resembles magic, but it’s not. With enough stimulation and fuel, one begins creating words. They will comprehend. Looking back at the alphabet, I don’t grasp why reciting the ABC’s helped me become a proficient reader. I know that it works, and I know that I practiced until I learned. It’s training in the most basic form.

I couldn’t understand the purpose of therapy even though I knew it would be helpful.

Becoming a healthy person takes a process. Some of the stuff I have in me may never completely heal, and I need to live with the limitations of who I am. Overall, I have made significant progress. So can you. Commit to doing the work and learn how to live.

I live now. If I become angry because a coworker says a thing, I’m offended now. I have worked on my emotional literacy and I can respond to the anger itself.

You need tools

What is Emotional Literacy? It’s the ability to identify the feelings you are experiencing. Most people are shallow in noticing our feelings. Feeling scared is different than me knowing I’m terrified and panicked. Name your emotion.

#Trauma: I evaluate the emotion. Is my flashback from an older, emotionally charged time? My childhood was angry. (This is part of the emotional literacy.)

#Emotion: If it is new and not something with a deep root, I handle it differently. Current emotions deserve a valid response also. We have rights as humans and must care about ourselves.

The first step to developing empathy is emotional literacy, or the ability to read or recognize your own emotions and the emotions of others so that you can figure out what they are feeling.

Children and Empathy: Teaching Emotional Literary

Excerpt from The Jungle of My Emotions – “This rage is my jungle. I should know my way through it by now, but I don’t. A therapist will tell you to name the emotions. Instead of rage, get down to the baser emotions. Fear. Insecurity. Feeling utterly alone and vulnerable. When I was negotiating, I was taking it personally. She was attacking me and saying I was wrong. Backed into a corner, I felt powerless. So, I defended my territory.”

Related Content

Hell Is Love – With a Side of Abuse

When I am with you, I seem useless.
With all of my caring
Straining to be my best,
yet, you criticized, scrutinized, and rejected.

I wonder about your parents.
Were you abused? Was your life this hell?
I’ve bowed and pampered you
as I did my own mother.

I fell for her schemes.
But now, I must learn a new way.
Amusing you is impossible.
Impossible, impossible, utterly impossible.

It’s the dog with Mother Hubbard,
Always looking into a cupboard.
I will not give myself to exhaustion,
I’ll not lead a bone-weary trek to the grave.

Photo by Taryn Elliott on Pexels.com

Melancholy

I’m battling through overgrown weeds of depression and the bramble of my mind, getting my thoughts in order. Following the confused tangle causes me to lose my balance. And direction.

I indulge in my despair and failure.

I’m comfortable sitting on the forest floor, and I cry. Scream. I can’t stay here forever. So, I get up and go …again..

Janet West
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

The holidays are a difficult time for me. Our culture has high expectations, and there’s no way for most of us to live up to those. We are disappointed. Somehow I must change my way of living. I need a new view of life, so I will not cry half of the day for two months.

My challenge is yours. Start your own traditions by creating a holiday or non-holiday for you and your family. Live on your terms. Release yourself from other’s chains. And may each year be better than the last

Happy days ahead!

​Healing Your Space

Space, we call it a thing. Star Trek started its program with the words, Space, the final frontier. Conquerors of times before claimed lands, they planted homes and flags saying this area belonged to them, and they now owned it.

Personal

Disclaimer: this article was written pre-COVID-19

Personal space isn’t so easily defined. Do you run and hug a new coworker? Is a handshake necessary? When talking with someone do you leave a two feet distance? What about crowded places, are you in their space? Every culture has their own comfort level. And within each culture there are variations. Children and parents can hug and snuggle without discomfort, but you wouldn’t walk up to a stranger and act the same way. Not unless you wanted to be punched. For etiquette read- >Don’t Stand Too Close.

Some days boundaries are natural. Put up a fence. Close the door. Hide in a closet. I can do these things. The one thing I have trouble with is an emotional cut-off. How do you close the door without hurting people? Clearing your emotional space is as important as cleaning your room. Sometimes they go hand in hand.

Emotional and Mental

If you were raised by controlling parents, emotional and personal space is probably an issue for you. I didn’t have the right to my own religion. Barely had the right to my choice of clothing. There was no arguing about politics or doctrine. In my state this is normal. Strict parenting meant good wholesome children. Spare the rod and spoil the child.

But when a child has no right to privacy, or they are threatened for having an opinion that is different, a line is crossed. I call foul. Emotional space is every bit as important as physical. Don’t let anyone take your life – space.

There’s a lot of information about boundaries. Here are a few links.

Getting Space in a Relationship

The Emotional Space Theory

BOOK – Codependent No More – Melody Beattie

The above blog post was originally posted in the winter of 2017, but became corrupted. Reinstated today, October 11, 2020.

Confinement

Stay in your lane, boy.

The other day, my therapist asked me how I was doing in this worrying time. Without familiar touch and close contact, some people become depressed, she said. I smiled and told her I’d enjoyed the freedom this time has brought me. I don’t like human contact except with my closest family.

Every culture has their comfort level. And in each culture, there are differences. The area is not so easily defined. How do you decide how close to stand to someone? Are you in their territory?

“You create within your mind your own cages that confine you.”

Steven Redhead, Life’s Impressions

Reset

Moments such as these are history makers. They are a little uncomfortable, a little too tight, like a pair of new jeans. If we break them in, they’ll be old favorites. But until then, we have to learn to live as they are today. This is a time for rethinking our lives.

It is not a right or wrong challenge, contrary to the talk around the water cooler. We don’t need to pick sides. Let the others dispute over the correct number of people allowed to gather. Or, if any, should congregate.

Know one thing, it matters how well you can adapt.

When Everything Changes, Change Everything.

Book by Neal Donald Walsch

For me, this is time for space clearing. Healing, learning, and creating are on the list today. I can do things differently. When the rules are changing, pay attention.

I wish you health and joy in the coming days. And remember to take care of those you love.

Namaste.

artwork by Arna Baartz

Good Grief. I Sigh.

Shall we? Let’s do it together. I’m serious. On the count of three—One, Two, Three, Sigh. There are days when I can’t hold it inside any longer. At work, every thing seems frustrating. If one more person calls to ask if I can rush a work order, it’s possible I might freaking yell at them.

Do you sigh a lot? Here’s what science says it could mean.

Excessive sighing can be your body’s way of crying out for help.

The Indian Express – article, Do you sigh a lot?

With me, sighing comes from the forbidden. It’s the anger I’m not allowed to express. Hope is gone. And I am overwhelmed by the weight of the mountain I need to move. I sigh in frustration.

There is power inside me, even if I’ve forgotten. I look for quick fixes and something outside of myself for help. But, usually, I already have a solution. JKB

The act of sighing, both intentionally and spontaneously, appears to induce signs of relaxation in low-anxiety people as well as those with high trait anxiety…

Psy Post—Sighing reduces physiological tension in anxiety-sensitive individuals, study finds.
Sighs

If you’re exhausted, be kind to yourself and take a break. Make space for rest. Lighten the load if you can. Even an imaginary vacation can help for a time. Or grab a friend virtually and do a movie night together. In these days when everyone is working from home, I’m still commuting to work. I’m not complaining since it’s good to have a paycheck, I only need others to understand that I am not feeling the boredom from staying home. I would welcome my place, some couch time, and Netflix. But it’s against some companies’ policies.

We’re going to kick this thing.

I’m reading the book, You Are A BadAss. It’s a bit cheesy in its positive spin, but I needed it this week. A short shove in the right direction.

This is the book I’m reading (listening to)currently. View on Goodreads

Never apologize for who you are. It lets the whole world down.

Jen Sincero, You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life

“We only get to be in our bodies for a limited time, why not celebrate the journey instead of merely riding it out until it’s over?” 

― Jen Sincero, You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life

The top picture is from an instragram post

Boundaries are Healthy

Sometimes when I’m in the bathroom, my cat will sit on the floor and stare at me. It’s creepy. You may ask why I don’t lock my cat out. I feel guilty. She is home alone all day, so I think I shouldn’t limit my time with her. But, I resent her stare.

Games we play

This game we play, you may recognize it. My cat stares, and I feel guilty. I pet her and allow her to rub around my legs. There’s only so much I can take with all that attention. We both mean well.


The funny thing about it, when I am with her, as in overextended vacations, she still meows when she doesn’t see me in the room with her. If I step outside to take out the trash or run an errand, it’s no different. She still wants the same amount of attention as she did when I’m home for a few hours. So in my great reasoning, I don’t think it’s because she misses me.
I read somewhere that a cat’s memory is only a few minutes. Cats don’t know how long it’s been.

This guilt I feel is hollow. I am projecting how I would feel in her shoes (paws). So why am I feeling so miserable? What do I want? I like it when we snuggle up on the couch together. I love it when she greets me in the morning. Even when I come home. The time when I’m in the bathroom and staring at me is my fault. I let it happen. If I want to be alone at that time, I need to close the door. A simple thing.

Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Pexels.com

How often do we do this? We yell at people unnecessarily instead of metaphorically and physically closing the door. Have you ever said, “Yes, I’ll do that for you,” when you feel like vomiting at the thought of doing it? We go along with things when we have other plans. We say yes to their idea even when we disagree. It’s not necessary. We think our actions are kind. All we’re doing is building up a reason to hate someone we usually love. That’s what resentment does. It builds a wall of hate. If enough resentment builds, what happens? We yell. We scream. We blame. We walk away in anger. Is this what we want? Is it inevitable?

Kids need boundaries

ASLA 2006 Student Awards

A study was conducted. There was one playground with a fence and one without any borders. The children without a fence clustered towards the center. If you place a fence around a playground, the children used the entire area to play. I found this to be interesting. Boundaries in life are giving freedom. Ironic.

Right here and now

I have the right to close my bathroom door. I have the right to ignore my phone. I feel freer knowing I can fence off my time, declaring ownership. I can put up a barricade and stick my flag in the ground. It’s my time! Right here and now. Kings do it, presidents do it, astronauts do it in their country’s name, and so can you. If it helps, you can make yourself a flag and put it in the middle of your room or outside your closed door. Name your kingdom. Just remember, you’re the enforcer. Tell everyone you will call them later.

If this hasn’t been part of your life before, people may not honor your boundary. But if you continually tell them, they will learn to respect your fence. With cats, children, spouses, or parents, it’s no different. They learn what we teach them. If we teach them that it’s okay to call us names and hurt our feelings (by allowing it), that is what we will get. Some people in your life will need retraining. I like thinking of it as an experiment. Who is the easiest to teach? How long did it take? How did they react in comparison to a different person? Be firm, but not rude. repeat the same line 30 or 40 times if necessary. “I can’t talk now. I’ll call you at 5:00.” Don’t explain. Don’t vary. I’ve used this technique several times, and it’s like magic, but you have to state it firmly and without emotion.

What works for you? Leave a comment.

Adapted and Reblogged from a previous date, 1/06/13 Limitations-Boundaries-and-Those-Cute-Picket-Fences

The Goal is Being Alive

I had been restless, tired of putting up with leftovers. I’d had a lot of second-hand crap. Friends invited me to concerts–if their original date didn’t show. Or sometimes, I stayed in the car while she and a friend met the band and received autographs. It sucked. How did I get into this situation? One day I woke up and realized I wasn’t the first choice in my friend’s life. I was putting more effort into relationships than I was getting. It pissed me off. I’m not the second. When had I started down this path? I didn’t intentionally date taken men or choose friends who didn’t want to hang with me. But it all cracked, and I had enough.

It tested me…

I grew up in a hard-knocks rural lifestyle. If you don’t earn it, you don’t deserve it. Work hard, and take pride in your accomplishments. Park them in the driveway so the neighbors can see. But I was also torn between two worlds. I had earned my old world, the one I left, the mom me. Since I left it, somehow, I no longer had access to the worthiness I had achieved under its umbrella. My ex-husband kept the money. Society withheld the honor.

I couldn’t square the old with the new world I entered. In this modern world, I was a penniless, lonely, divorced female. I didn’t like this person I had become. I was sad and unfulfilled. I lived only to make it another day.

On the advice of a therapist, I planned to make some solo journeys. It seemed reasonable. It would be time away from toxic relationships, and I could readjust my expectations. Recalibrate. Learning to feel good on your own isn’t easy, but that was the plan. Solo Journeys. At least, it was the door I kept trying to go enter. Heaven is my witness; I tried. 

The universe or God had a surprise. I met someone who liked doing the same things I enjoyed – hiking, drinking coffee, etc. I could do it alone. I was willing to prove I could. But maybe I’ve done enough. I don’t know. One thing I’m learning is that not everything is accomplished through hard work and pounding on doors. maybe I’ve done enough. I don’t know. I’m adoring my journeys currently. I’m making peace with my life. I’m alive.

It’s Simple

We wish for the good old days when times were simple. Snapping green beans on the front porch or eating homemade ice cream. What I desire the most is the idle time to spend daydreaming.

I feel bad about the struggles on the other side of the world, but I’m limited to what I can do. I can listen to Beatles music. Maybe say a few lines of Rumi. It’s not by any means stopping the skirmishes of fighting tribes. I don’t wish for the old days, not really. They had their issues. Days were devoted to food preparation and lives cut short by disease. What I want is simplicity—living with this moment—making the most of what I have now. I don’t want to be always thinking about the fun of tomorrow or worrying about the issues that are not in my control.

This We Have Now

This we have now
is not imagination.

This is not
grief or joy.

Not a judging state,
or an elation,
or sadness.

Those come and go.
This is the presence that doesn’t.

From Essential Rumi
by Coleman Barks

The next time you’re watching the news and paying your bills while trying to phone your mom and pet your cat, stop. Do one thing. Only one. Choose your activity wisely and give it your full attention.
Save your sanity and realize your limitations. It’s okay if you can’t fix everything. It’s okay if you can’t save the world. We can put on our tie dyed shirts and chant OM.

Recommendation: The No Impact Man by Colin Beavan

The New Rule by Rumi

It’s the old rule that drunks have to argue and get into fights.

The lover is just as bad. He falls into a hole.

But down in the hole he finds something shining,

worth more than any amount of money or power.

Last night the moon came dropping its clothes in the street.

I took it as a sign to start singing,

falling up into the bowl of sky.

The bowl breaks. Everywhere is falling everywhere.

Nothing else to do.

Here’s the new rule: break the wineglass, and fall toward the glassblower’s breath.

translated by Coleman Barks
This writing is an updated version of a previous post, The Simple Life. Thank you for reading.