Well, finally

Well, I finally received the print copy of my article. I started this whole “getting something published” journey back in the spring, and it’s kind of like waiting for a baby to be born. No, not really. Bad example. It’s more like waiting for a vacation you planned well in advance. Yes, that’s a better comparison. You plan the trip, and once you book it, you’re PUMPED. You tell everyone you know about it, you are so freaking excited to go there, and then you kind of have a let down, as you realize you have to spend the next several months just living your ordinary life until the day rolls around. Kind of like the trip I just took to San Diego. I bought it LAST November on cyber Monday (BEST day to purchase online trips, FYI….$600 for round trip airfare and 4 nights in a hotel ON the ocean). We were so excited when we bought it, then had to face the reality of a New England winter and spring (basically just one long cold shitty season), go through the summer and then get excited again as the date finally neared. We just went last week, and it was amazing. And the day I returned home, the paper copy of the American Journal of Nursing was waiting for me. Perfect homecoming after a perfect vacation.

And, I read a book on attachment relationship types on the plane, and it allowed me to let go of the angst which had been building up inside me regarding yet another failed relationship. Sometimes, just having the answer to “why” is good enough.

Well, I am happy again…finally. Feeling at peace and ready to conquer the world again. Thank God….


 

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS Oct. 14/17

 

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Tender moments

Last night my ex husband came over to celebrate our son’s birthday. We have an amicable relationship, but really haven’t spent too much time together this year. He moved out a year ago, after a tense and difficult summer. I think we’ve learned how to co-parent without pressing each other’s buttons by keeping our distance and creating boundaries. Not too shabby for someone I cringed at the thought of last summer.

Our son opens his gift and soon disappears to his room, in his typical teenage boy fashion. My ex and I are left sitting at my dining room table alone. I can’t even remember what we were talking about initially, but the subject changed to my father. I haven’t really shared much about my problems with my dad on here, and I’m not so sure I want to start tonight, but we’ll see…

Jeez, I can’t really go on with the rest of the story without giving you some sort of background on my dad. Hmm…

OK, so in brief… my dad loves me. I know this to be true. I can feel it when I’m with him. He loves me in the best way he can. The only way he knows how. It is difficult for me to accept this way, because I crave so much more. Intellectually speaking, I understand why he is distant. Emotionally, it kills me. Hey, that summary REEKS of someone in therapy, doesn’t it??

So, my ex tells me my dad reached out to him to see the boys. Another long story about why he needs to go through my ex, but I’ll sit on that one for a while. I’m pleased he’s making an effort to see them, but the conversation leads from one thing to another to another and the next thing you know, I’m crying…pouring out a few raw pieces of my soul…to my ex husband. I just couldn’t help it. The tears were down my cheeks before I even realized what was happening. And I just kept talking. Sharing the pain of my unmet emotional needs regarding my father, with the man who also left my emotional needs unmet for the past 20 years. Crazy, huh? The weird thing is, it didn’t feel crazy. He appeared to be listening sincerely, and appeared to feel bad for me. For all I know, I could be wrong about the sincerity, but I really don’t think so. He validated a few of the things I’ve done…things other members of my family have criticized me for. As much negative shit he and I have been through with each other this past year, he still understands what it’s like to have a dysfunctional childhood. At least that’s something we can connect on.

I spent a good half hour there, talking to him about my family, my childhood, the pain, the abuse…and for those moments, it felt like we weren’t in the middle of a sometimes tense divorce. It wasn’t like we were best friends, either. It was like we were two people who understood familial pain, and he was listening to me without judging me. Kind of a big deal, now that I’m looking back on it. We had some moments of tenderness last night.

I stopped crying and we went upstairs so he could say goodnight to the boys. He checked out my drum set and listened to me play a song, and he didn’t laugh at me at all. I’m actually getting kind of decent at Creep….for a 45-year-old brand new drummer mom. We walked downstairs, while he gave me advice on fall lawn care and getting things ready for the winter season around here. It came time to say good-bye and he hugged me. Not a quick, meaningless fake hug…but a long, sincere, probably sympathy hug. Normally, that is the exact OPPOSITE of something I would want to do with him, but I accepted it. And thanked him. And meant it. While I in NO means would even consider reconciling with the man, or even want to spend another evening with him like that, it did prompt me to think of how I don’t have a man in my life to support me during all this, and that left me feeling kind of empty…

You know, even though he’s not apologizing for all his stuff over the years, I forgive him. I forgave him well before last night. That’s the reward of processing your shit. That’s how you know you’re healing…when you can forgive someone who’s not sorry and feel good about doing it. I had told him about forgiving one of my family members, one who had treated me so badly as a child and still can be quite toxic to me. I told him how even though I can’t have this person in my life, because it would just cause me more pain, I’m still loving this person, from a human standpoint, from a distance. I’m wishing this person peace, as I know it can’t be easy being so miserable and agitated all the time. I asked him if he thought that sounded crazy, and he said yes. He and I…simply not on the same energy level. He’ll never “get” me, and that’s ok. That’s why we don’t live together anymore. But, he got me enough last night to create sincere, tender moments between us. And I’m smart enough to know that when those unexpected tender moments arise with someone, I don’t ignore them.  I will heal.

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Do you know about Someone’s Son?

Do you know what happened today? I became a published author! Granted, it’s just an essay in a nursing journal, but it’s kind of exciting to me. Not only because it’s validating, in regards to my writing, but because it’s a story that changed my life and I’m just full of joy it’s being shared.  Maybe, just maybe… it will change someone’s perception. That’s how we change the world…one person at a time, one story at a time, right?

I find I do my best writing when I’m being honest. Not necessarily honest about other things and other people, but about myself. When I strip down to the raw details, exposing my flaws, owning my deficits… being real… it doesn’t matter if anyone else likes it, or praises it, or praises me. All that matters is I’m being true. And I think everyone can relate to someone being honest and vulnerable, whether they agree with them or not.

My essay tells the story of a difficult nursing experience I had with an alcoholic.  Spoiler alert: I’m the asshole in the story.  If you want to check it out, you can read it in the American Journal of Nursing by clicking here.

This shameless plug of my newly published essay was written in response to Linda G. Hill’s Stream of Social Consciousness Saturday.

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS September 30-17

 

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Mr. Tin Man

I cried at the gas station today. Just a little. It came out of nowhere, I think. Well, I’m sure all the country music I’m listening to isn’t helping. All in all, I think I’m doing pretty damn well. I’m continuing to make impacts with my patients at work. I’m loving having routines again with the boys being back at school. Family dinners are the best! I’m keeping social with my good friends, the one’s who love me and check in on me and value me. I’m meditating, and attending my meditation class every week. I’m going to therapy, working on getting back to being happy just being me. I’m getting there. But today, as I’m driving around to see my last few patients, I became sad. For some reason, I started thinking those stupid unlovable thoughts again. I hate them. Why can’t they just stay away? I’m doing EVERYTHING I’m supposed to be doing to rid myself of them. Fake it till you make it, then fake it some more, I guess.

I’m standing there, pumping gas, with one more patient to see. The sun is shining warmly. There’s hardly any wind. A perfect afternoon to sneak a few hours in on the boat. But work is work and you just can’t predict how long it’s going to take, and today took longer. That’s probably another thing contributing to my sadness…putting the boat away soon. For all I know, I could’ve had my last day out there already. So anyway, I’m standing there, pumping the gas, and I see a man across the way, finishing fueling up. I look at him. He glances at me and carries on. Nothing special about it. Just an average guy who happened to be pumping gas at the same time as me. Next thing you know, I’m crying. Flooded with the thoughts of my inner critic, or inner child, or whoever the hell it is that knows I’m never going to find the love I’ve been craving my entire life. Boom, back in an instant. I’m swallowing hard, blinking away the tears, wondering why the fuck I’m crying at the gas pump over love. God, what is going on with me? Last year, I was perfectly fine to never have even a conversation with another man again, and now I’m aching with emptiness at the knowing of it’s not ever happening for me.

I think my problem is that I finally opened my heart enough to admit I wanted it to be loved. Yeah, I think that’s it. It’s easier to not want love when you seal that sucker up. Safer. You’re protected that way.

But no, I had to go and open the damn thing up, exposing its vulnerability. And when you open it up, and nothing happens, it’s a weird kind of fragility. It kind of starts to close and harden, like it’s going to heal,  but not like the old shell. Just a light scabbing occurs, and as soon as you move, it cracks open again. And it bleeds…right out your eyes and down your cheeks at the gas station. So yeah, I suppose if I just stay home, lying around, doing nothing with anyone, just being still, stuffing it all down, numbing myself with TV or Facebook or nothing…it might harden enough to last. Harden, mind you. Not heal. Big difference. Because I don’t want to harden my heart. That’s armor. Protects you enough, but doesn’t let anything in at all. I also don’t want it to be raw and hurting, either. Because then, when nothing comes in at all, it burns. Neither one is significant of good living. What I truly want is for this heart to be loved and nurtured and adored and held gently. I want it to be needed. I want it to be healed. God, that’s vulnerable just to admit, isn’t it? To acknowledge I want my heart to be loved, yet admit it isn’t? Admit it hasn’t ever? Admit it most likely never will be? Not the way I need it to be. I’ve learned that lesson. Excessively. Doesn’t mean I won’t still try, even though I know the lesson. I just don’t like the alternative. Which I guess is why I cried today. I don’t like this alternative at all, and apparently, I’m totally onto the fact that I’m faking it. Damn.

I’m getting better, though. I kind of love myself enough to know what I deserve and not to take less, just because that’s all that’s offered. Kind of.

I’m turning 46 this year. I think that’s kind of a long time to go without being loved. Or loved in the right way. I know some people never find love. Never have children. Never got to grow up having family. So many of us never find what we yearn for. I’ve been told by just about every man I’ve been with that I want too much. I always felt so ashamed for that, trying to figure out how to stop being so needy and how to just be happy for what’s offered to me. I’m trying to not do that anymore. Though there’s not really any men in my life to try it on, so I guess the “trying” part will have to wait. However, I’ve just recently discovered the concept of “attachment types” and let me tell you, it’s opened my eyes. (Thank you, Deborah!) You can read about them here. I’ve got to figure out how to stop being attracted to these “avoidance” types. Or, figure out how to change myself to a “secure” type. Not happening any time soon, I’m sure. In the meantime, I’m filling my days  with work, my kids and my friends. (I’ve got my drum lessons in an hour…working on a Metallica song!) Trying to fill up as much of the day as I can so I don’t notice what’s lurking. But I notice, anyway. Funny how you can be surrounded by people and still feel lonely. I know I won’t be able to stay this way forever. It will either harden back up, or it will just break. So for now, I’m just protecting it and loving it the best I can, and hoping someday, my love for myself will be enough.

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Inner Voices


I keep using the phrase, “ebb and flow” lately, when referring to my life…my healing…my whatever. I’m over a year and a half into this “work” I’ve been doing, and lately… I have more days than not where I feel I haven’t made much progress at all. I can’t even bring myself to read my posts from last year, back when I was badass. Back when I was fixing appliances and taking names. Back when I spoke my truth and became empowered. Back when I learned what brought me joy and I did it.  Back when I knew my worth.

OK, I suppose that last sentence is a bit misleading. It’s not that I don’t know my worth. I know it. I’m just having a hard time feeling it. Yes, there’s a difference. Feeling it, (or not feeling it, in this case), is that inner voice. My inner critic. My superego. The one who laughs at my intellectual self, who is the one who tells me I’m worthy. My intellectual self uses all the new language I’ve learned, all the research and knowledge I’ve gained, and says it to my inner self. Over and over and over. But my inner self is ebbing….or is it flowing? I’m never sure which is which, when talking about life’s highs and lows. Anyway, my inner voice isn’t matching up to my intellectual voice anymore. And I hate it.

God, I was so freaking strong when they matched up. I was powerful. Even I wouldn’t have messed with me back then. Hell hath no fury like an empowered woman who knows her worth! I became that way by removing all of my triggers. Easy! Live in a bubble and all is well…tra, la la….

My bubble was so perfect, so believable…I didn’t think I needed it anymore. That’s a core dilemma, isn’t it? Stay in the bubble so you don’t get hurt, or go out of the bubble so you can attempt to live a real life? TOUGH decision! In the words of my future boyfriend, Garth Brooks,

And now I’m glad I didn’t know
The way it all would end the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance I could have missed the pain
But I’d of had to miss the dance”.  

I swear, sometimes I think Garth is the male country version of Oprah…speaks to my heart. Anyway,  I’ll save you the details, but right now…I’m outside the bubble. I can’t even get back in, because the only way out is to pop it and hope for the best. And well, the best didn’t happen. I know, I know…that’s how life goes. Trust me, my intellectual self has been telling me that for weeks now. That’s what’s interesting about being outside the bubble this time. The first time, which just so happened to be right after I realized I had been living in a cocoon my entire life, well that first time was so raw and eye opening, I didn’t really mind it. I liked it. For the first time in my life, as painful as it was, I felt like I was living.  I saw life and felt experiences, painful or not, with a new clarity…from a new perspective. My inner self and my intellectual self matched up quickly. The puzzle pieces started falling into place and my year of “work” paid off.

Of course, I didn’t completely realize that in order to stay in that place, I had to live in the bubble. Bubbles are transparent, and you don’t even notice them if you stay busy enough. But I’m not so busy anymore. I sold my company. I have a much less stressful job. I’ve been separated long enough that it feels normal now. The kids are busy and off conquering the world, now that one of them has a car. I don’t need to journal 10 times a day anymore. I have time. And when you’ve got time on your hands, and your inner voice is telling you you’re not worthy, life gets difficult.

So, I’m spending my time flip flopping between the two voices. One saying, “Other people get those things, Jami. You don’t. That’s just how it is.” And the other is saying, “You are worthy and things will come when they are supposed to. Trust the process.” They say a lot of other things, but I’m trying to make a long story a little less long (sorry). I spent my entire life listening to that first inner voice, the one who knew I wasn’t supposed to have the things I long for in life. I never even asked for them, because I knew. That’s toxic shame for ya…it’s a bitch. I had no clue that another voice even existed, let alone knew the things it would say to be true. And I feel blessed to have been able to figure out a way to listen to that second voice last year. Not only listen to it, but believe it. I believed it right up until about two months ago. That’s when I hit the ebb, (or flow?)  and started to realize that I had been wrong all along. “Other people get those things, Jami. You don’t. That’s just how it is.” Right now, most of me feels like maybe I was just faking it all last year, because this is what feels real right now. My empowered self feels like an act. Fooled you, suckers! And guess what? Even admitting that makes me feel ashamed. Gosh! (read that like Napoleon Dynamite). Staying miserable is easier…

My saving grace in all of this is that the difference between this time…the difference between hearing that voice now and when I heard it my entire life before, is that I have that intellectual voice now. My tool box is at least over halfway full.  I never had a counter voice before. I never flip flopped. I was just unworthy, plain and simple. No argument to be made, as the opposing side did not exist to me. At least now, I have an argument. And even though my inner voice is kicking ass right now, I am holding on to a thin thread of hope that if I focus on the process, my intellectual voice will prevail.

That’s what faith is, right?

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Rebirth, part two.

What’s with me and all these rebirths? You’d think one would be sufficient. That’s the thing about me…if I’m going to do something, I’m going to DO it. I’m hard-core like that.

I had a rebirth last year. That’s what I like to call it…”rebirth“. It’s easier than saying “I lived my life traumatized, numb and in pain until I couldn’t take it anymore and experienced PTSD, spent a year in therapy, learned to meditate, had a spiritual awakening, learned to write, sold my business, left a bad marriage, told my soul piercing embarrassing shame story to the world…and to my family…, released 30+ years of shame and guilt, discovered my self-worth and emerged a new me“. A “Rebirth” is easier, right?

I felt like I was back in a cocoon this past month. Even though I emerged as a butterfly last year, I never really took flight. I came out with my new wings and just sat there for a bit, looking at them in wonder. I even got comfortable moving them up and down, feeling a little pride in having them. Earlier this summer, I thought I was about to take that first flight. It was pretty amazing to realize it was finally happening. I can remember saying to my therapist, “don’t you think it’s too soon?” I was scared. However, my inner voice was telling me this was a go, so I went. If I’ve learned one thing this year, it’s to listen. So, I flapped my wings and got ready for flight. But the flight got canceled. Dammit, I hate it when that happens! You get all packed up, build anticipation, make all the plans…and they cancel the damn flight. And like most people, when your exciting travel plans abruptly disappear, you get pissed. I became angry, sad, even in denial for a bit. I kept trying to talk them into rescheduling the flight, explaining why I needed it so bad. Nope. Once a flight is canceled, you just have to suck it up and wait for the next one.  My problem is, I had a hard time sucking it up. I was like a little kid, stomping my feet, pouting, crying…”Whyyyyyyyyy????  Even though I knew exactly why. Intellectually, I understood everything. Emotionally? Hell no. My inner child still needs some work. She’s fragile. I get it. She’s been through hell. I don’t blame her for feeling rejected, resentful, hurt, unworthy… that’s what traumatized inner children do when flights get canceled. And those feelings are so painful, they decide, “well, I’m never going to try to fly again, if this is how it’s going to end up!”  I ended up believing her, for a bit. That’s been our survival tactic our whole lives. Numb, avoid, protect. So easy to slip back into. My inner voice was telling me to stop, but my inner child is a little bit louder…

Here’s the thing…all those things I wrote in the first paragraph, describing my original “rebirth”…those things don’t just go away. So sure, I spent some time feeling unworthy, swearing I’d never fly again. But it didn’t last long. Not long at all. And to tell you the truth, the flight wasn’t even cancelled. It was just rerouted to a place I wasn’t expecting to go to. It’s like booking a trip to Hawaii and as you’re buckling your seat belt, they announce you’re going to Cuba. “Wait…I think there’s been a mistake. I’m supposed to be going to Hawaii. I paid for Hawaii. I packed my hula skirt and everything….”  Too bad the pilot doesn’t care about what you planned for. He’s the one flying the plane. Flying that plane.  So, I did some thinking. Did I want to try Cuba? I’ve heard some people go there now, but not many. It’s rich with culture, but not the safest place. There’s a pretty decent chance you are going to get hurt there, even if there are some nice parts to it. No, I decided….I did not want to go to Cuba. Even though it hurt to know my Hawaii dreams were dashed, I didn’t want to take the risk of getting hurt in Cuba. I’m pretty sure they have a sub-par medical system there, and most likely, the hurt I receive there won’t be as easy to heal. My inner voice was telling me I was worth so much more than Cuba, and I listened. So, I unbuckled, grabbed my bags, and cried my way off that plane. Picture one of those kids in the toy store having a temper tantrum. Yup, not pretty. I cried for a few weeks, wishing I could change the past. Angry at the pilot for making me think we were going to Hawaii. Angry at myself for not noticing the fine print on the ticket. Sad at the realization I was never going to get that hula lesson, even though I was SO damn ready to try the hula.

Here’s where the rebirth comes in….

In the old days, I would have stayed on that plane. I would have put my desires aside and taken whatever was handed to me, because it was better than nothing. I still would have cried and felt the anger, even though I was on a trip. I would have shamed myself for doing so. And those negative feelings would have lasted FOREVER. Seriously…they may fade, but they leave an imprint in your soul and shape the rest of your life.

Now, since my first rebirth…since I filled up my emotional tool box… I got off the plane. I allowed myself to have the emotions, because hey…it does suck when your plans are foiled. We’re talking HAWAII, people!!! It’s disappointing. I even shamed myself a bit, but…and here’s the great part…I realized what I was doing. I noticed the old behavior. I could tell I was back in my cocoon again and was about to feel that familiar sense of suffocation. And even though it took a few weeks of struggling…I changed my thought process, and I am now out of that cocoon. Maybe Hawaii will happen some day, maybe it won’t. But I sure as hell am not going to Cuba.

Instead, I went to the jewelers. I’ve been procrastinating having my wedding band cut off. It was my grandmother’s, and we all know how attached I am to her, and this ring. But we also all know I’m never going to get back to my marriage weight in order to get it off my fat finger, so I had it cut off yesterday. Damn you, French fries!! I may never meet my soul mate, but I’d hate to miss on him taking me to Hawaii because he kept walking when he saw my ring. Or maybe I’ll just take myself to Hawaii. Either way, it’s time for a new me…again. My wings are out and I think they’re ready. Commence “Rebirth, part two”.

 

 

 

 

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS Sept. 2/17

 

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Vulnerability: Part 2

Well, you know shit’s going down when I write two posts in a week…

My last post was about the power and beauty of being vulnerable. I talked about how that’s the only way to truly connect with people…to be real, open and honest about who you are and how you feel. I talked about how it’s so hard to do, because it’s risky. You risk having your heart stepped on if you hold it out to someone in wide open vulnerability. But, if you want someone to hold your heart and nurture it, then you gotta pull it out and cross your fingers.  It’s the only way to feel love…by being vulnerable and putting it out there.

Yeah, it’s risky for sure. It takes courage, no doubt about it. You actually have to be pretty damn brave to be vulnerable. Well, to consciously be vulnerable.  You don’t see weak sissies holding their hearts out there, all exposed, all vulnerable and shit. Nah, they wall off their hearts like a fortress. No one’s getting anywhere NEAR that tender spot.  And if they do become vulnerable, it wasn’t on purpose. Someone snuck up on them. It’s easy to protect yourself by not holding out hope to avoid disappointment. Who wants to feel the pain of a broken heart? Well, apparently…I do. Over and over and over again.

Jesus, then that must mean I’m a fucking warrior.

I don’t feel like a warrior right now. I feel like a baby deer that got hit in the middle of a dark road, and the driver stopped, but didn’t take it to the vet. He just looked at that broken, damaged deer…feeling sorry for it, but at the same time, blaming it for running in front of his car like that. I mean, why would someone take a deer to the vet? It’s just a deer. There’s millions of deer out there, and they get hurt and die slow deaths every day. Why go out of your way to save this one? Sure, the driver might start to feel a little guilty, but he pushes it out of his mind fairly easily. Come one now, all he was doing was driving along. It’s not his fault the deer got in the way.  Deer are stupid…

OK, that analogy got a bit off track, but you get the gist…

So, I’m walking that oh so thin tightrope right now, where one side is me falling into the pit of despair. You know, the place of shame and self-doubt, the place where I realize it’s not all these other people who have the problem…it’s me. I’m the damaged one.  The place where I feel pretty damn comfortable admitting that I’m not good enough. That I’m too needy. That if I just say it a different way, or if I just act a different way, then the person I just handed my heart to will pick it up and love it. And the other side of the tightrope is where I feel empowered and worthy of someone taking me to the damn vet after they accidentally run me over. Or maybe I’ll just take myself to the damn vet. Maybe I don’t need a driver at all! My problem is that I can’t consistently stay on either side. I just keep swinging back and forth between the two, and if you don’t pay close enough attention to what I’m doing, you might think I’m bat-shit crazy. So pay attention.

Tonight, I had a revelation. I thought about how I work so hard to heal people. How I have these amazing experiences where I make people feel like they matter, where I don’t judge, where I accept things for what they are.  People tell me all the time how compassionate and loving I am when they hear these stories, or get to experience them first hand. They tell me I am special, loved and worthy. But I’m wondering tonight…am I only doing those amazing things with people to overcompensate for what’s wrong with me? If I create these experiences with my patients, with strangers on the street, with my friends…experiences that result in people accepting my love and giving it back in return…does that make up for the other people in my life who don’t want my love, the people who can’t seem  love me? Is that why I’m doing it all? Am I trying to create love in places it wouldn’t normally exist, in order to ease the pain of it not existing where it should? Do I think this will make me feel less “less than”? Does it even matter? I think it might. Or maybe not. Lately, I’ve been asking what it is about me that keeps love just out of reach. It must be something about me, as I end up repeating the same scenario over and over and over. Sure, these people like me. They actually think I’m kind of great, in certain scenarios. But, as soon as I ask for too much, I’m not so great anymore. Maybe I want that kind of connection so badly, people just can’t handle the amount of love I have to give. I really do have a lot of love to give. Maybe too much. Maybe I’m too intense, and that type of connection I’m craving really doesn’t exist anywhere, so I’m setting myself up for failure by even wishing for it. Maybe I really am too demanding. Maybe I should tone it down a bit. All of it. My expectations. My passion. My needs. My wants. My desires. My love. If I did that, then maybe I could get something, and maybe getting something is better than getting nothing. Does anyone ever really get more than something? Does that really exist?

Wow, that’s almost kind of easy to talk myself into. Of course it is…that’s how I’ve rolled my entire life. How’d that work out for me so far? Not so good. Yet, I’m finding myself leaning towards doing it again tonight…

Yeah….I think maybe I’ll hold out hope for a little bit longer. At least, that’s how I feel right this minute. Tomorrow, I might beat myself up again, but right now I think I want to hold on to the idea that I’m not craving something that’s just a fairy tale. Sure, I still feel like that baby deer, alone, bleeding and crying in the middle of a dark road. The driver has since moved on to wherever he was going. People feel bad when they hit a deer, but they tend to forget about it once they go back to their daily routine. Oh, and you know, there’s more than one driver in my life, by the way. One who just keeps circling me from time to time. “Oh, here he comes….oh, nope…he’s leaving again….” I’m just going to have to get used to the fact that he isn’t ever going to stop long enough for me. It sucks, but it is what it is. All I can do is feel the pain, for as long as I need to, and hopefully find myself dancing in the woods again. Ha ha…that’s so easy to SAY, isn’t it???  Just get used to it. Good one, Jami….

The good thing is, I’ve lied in this road before. I know I will stop bleeding. Eventually, I always do. How do you think I got all these scars? Warriors have scars, they say. So yes, I will try to hold out hope for a little bit longer. Faith is taking that first step, even when you can’t see the staircase. God has a bigger plan for me, and this, right now, bleeding in the road alone…is not it. There’s got to be someone out there who’s searching for an intensely loving, previously traumatized, tightrope walking deer, right?

 

 

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When vulnerability is good

When you have a year like I just had, you learn to pay attention. Like, when my old friend Kara, who is not someone I regularly talk to, happens to send me a text with a link to a podcast, I pay attention. Even though listening to a podcast is something I’d never imagine myself doing. I always thought they’d be boring, which really isn’t fair of me, considering there’s about a million different ones out there, but it is what it is. Let me backtrack a few steps… I hadn’t spoken to Kara in months, when she crossed my mind the other day as I was buying theater tickets. I thought it would be a nice way for us to catch up, seeing a show and spending the night in Boston. I bought the tickets without asking her, and next thing you know, she’s texting me, telling me she’s listening to one of Brene Brown’s podcasts and thinking of me. I ignore the Brene Brown part, because I have no idea what she’s talking about, and I tell her how weird it is that she’s texting me the same day I’m thinking of asking her to get together. She says yes, and we chat a bit and the conversation ends.

A few hours later, she shoots me another text, letting me know she’s coming into town (she lives a good hour away) and asked if I had a free hour or so. Totally last-minute, and her text came as I was in an appointment, so I didn’t answer right away. By the time I answer her, 20 minutes had gone by. I tell her which town I’m in (which is a good half hour away from the town I live in, the town she expects me to be in) and she just so happens to be coming upon that exit that very minute. Ten minutes later, we are sitting having an unexpected dinner together in a town neither of us are normally in. The stars aligned perfectly, so I paid attention.

She talked of these podcasts she was listening to. She commutes to work, so has plenty of time for them. As she’s talking about it, I’m thinking, “I never have down time for listening to someone talk”, but of course, I don’t say that out loud. I listen, and honestly, they do sound kind of interesting. Dr. Brene Brown has spent her career studying shame and guilt. Sounds awful, doesn’t it? Anyway, she said one of them made her really think of me, because they spoke of how most people think that the worst part of sexual abuse/assault is the physical act itself, but really, the worst part is the shame that follows. People can get over the physical part, but the shame never leaves. I nodded my head, knowing all to well what she was talking about. I looked at my friend as she described how it affects people’s lives forever, especially relationships, because that shame doesn’t allow us to be vulnerable. And we don’t allow ourselves to become vulnerable by sort of walling ourselves off. It’s a protection type of thing. The gist of it, as I interpreted it, was that people who have relationships with me, platonic or romantic, don’t get the whole me, because I don’t allow that vulnerability. It’s too risky. Or I don’t deserve it. Or I know it’s never going to work out, so I don’t put myself in the position of being hurt. God, that was spot on. Not so much in regards to the me right now, but it sure as hell described me for most of my life. And honestly, it takes a lot of work even now to allow myself to be vulnerable, but I do. Of course, with vulnerability comes the risk of shame…

So, dinner ends and we hug and go our separate ways. She ends up sending me links to the ones she was talking about, where Brene Brown was on Super Soul Sunday with Oprah Winfrey, and even though I would never normally listen to them, I knew I was supposed to…because the stars don’t align things up for no reason, right? And plus, she had me at Oprah…

I listened to them. Twice. And then next thing you know, I’m asking her if she has the link to Brene’s TED talk podcast, which started it all…and my life shifted. Just like that. You see, I have been struggling with feelings of rejection, insecurity, shame and guilt…well, pretty much my entire life. But more recently, it’s been a struggle due to a few specific relationships in my life. The struggle has sort of come to a head in recent weeks and left me in one of my funks that’s pretty hard to shake. It’s the result of me allowing myself to become vulnerable, and the risks did not pay off, and I easily slipped back into the swamp of shame. It’s crazy how it’s not even a conscious effort to go back to shame. It just happens. You wake up and there it is. Like it never left. I am unworthy.  It took me a bit to claw my way out of that dark area… in a sort of “fake it till you make it” kind of way. I still felt the feelings, but I made some decisions based on the knowledge I’d gained in my practice of therapy and mediation…my journey… and prayed I’d eventually get my heart to match up to this intellectual knowledge and decision. You know… when you know what you need to do, in your brain, but your heart yearns for something else. It’s tough, but the pain of it never working out for me was enough to make these decisions. And once I made them, I found myself wanting to wall off my heart so it wouldn’t be hurt again. Nope, I’m not ever going to put myself in that position again!  But, listening to these podcasts, well, damn… I felt the shift that day! I don’t know if it’s because it’s coming from an analytical researcher or what, but Jesus…was it validating! And it opened my mind to a new perspective. Creativity, growth and joy breed from vulnerability. I think I just found the key to opening my heart without regret. Without shame. Without guilt. Yes, I think someday I just might put myself in that position again! I know I will not ever be able to do this subject justice, so please, if any of you have even a hint of wonder or recognition about this, just click here . 

Because, if any of this resonates with you, then the stars are aligning right now by having you stumble across this post. Watch the podcast. You won’t be disappointed.

 

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS Aug. 26/17

 

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Childhood memories

Isn’t it funny what the brain decides to hold on to from the past? As you get older, the memories become more faded, sometimes disappearing altogether.

I do have a few childhood memories locked in the vault. For some random reason, these ones aren’t going anywhere. And they pop up in my mind, off and on, with no rhyme or reason.  And for the most part, they all suck. Like the time someone ran over a yellow lab in front of my bus stop. We arrived in the morning to see its guts all over the side of the road, and no one cleaned it up for days, I think. I remember waiting for the owners to tearfully come, but it never happened. Or maybe it did happen, and my brain doesn’t feel like remembering that part. That’s the thing about these old memories…I think the brain fills in the blanks when it can’t remember something, even if the filling in part isn’t true. Then, you end up second guessing yourself. “Am I remembering this right?”

Another memory that’s been locked in the vault comes from around 1st grade. Let me tell you, I might have well been invisible in 1st grade. I did not say a peep. I had no friends. I sat by myself at recess, leaning against the wall with my head in my lap, hoping no one would approach me, while simultaneously hoping someone would approach me. And this was years before any of my childhood trauma! God, it’s not easy being a painfully shy child. Anyway, this memory had nothing to do with me. This one girl brought something in for show and tell. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t even show and tell day. I think she just found something cool and wanted to share it with us. Her name was Catherine Wilson. She held this magical mystery item cupped in her hands, carefully walking to the front of the class. I can remember the teacher telling us to be careful when we looked. It seemed like a BIG deal, whatever it was. I could not wait to see it! Everyone was buzzing with anticipation and crowded around her like paparazzi. I was last in line, of course. The kids were pointing and commenting and even though I was standing like a statue in the back of the room, I was filled with anticipation, too. I was dying to see what was in there. Finally, after everyone had gotten their fill of seeing “it”…  “it” was right in front of me. I hesitantly peered over the little Dixie cup she was holding, and nestled gently on top of some Kleenex was a tiny, delicate, sky blue Robin’s egg. I’d never seen anything like it. So fragile looking. So amazing. The only eggs I’d ever seen were the ones in my refrigerator.  Gosh, Catherine Wilson was so lucky. Nothing this magical ever happens to me…

The teacher had us settle down and we went about whatever it was that 1st graders did back in the early 70’s. Catherine put the cup on the corner of her desk as she did her work. At some point, we all got up from our seats for something. Maybe lunch, or to get books, or recess or something that doesn’t really matter to this story. What matters is what happened when we returned to our seats. Or more correctly, when Catherine returned to her seat. Someone broke her Robin’s egg. I think time stood still for a minute. We all took turns looking in the paper cup. The pastel blue shell was crushed. No one was saying anything. She started crying. I can remember her face like it was yesterday. It wasn’t a typical six-year-old kid’s whiny cry. I don’t remember any sound coming from her at all, actually. But her face, and the sorrow it conveyed….well, that’s stayed with me for almost forty years.

I’ve reminisced about this egg tragedy off and on ever since. No rhyme or reason to why I thought about it. I never had any emotional feelings when I thought of it. I mean sure, it was a sad story, but forty years later, it just kind of became the  “Oh, that was the time Catherine Wilson brought the Robin’s egg to school and some kid crushed it”.  Not that I told that to anyone. I guess that’s just the conversation I have in my head, with myself, when I remember random things. Yes, I have conversations with myself in my head…don’t judge.

OK, now fast forward to a few weeks ago. I’m scrolling through Facebook and see a photo of someone I know with someone else I don’t know and I click on something and next thing you know, I’m on someone elses page, who I don’t know,  knee-deep in their photos. Like I said earlier, don’t judge…you know you do it, too. Anyway, it’s the page of a local radio personality and I happen to come across a photo of her 7th grade yearbook. I look at the names on the page and realize it’s my grade. At my school. Puzzled, I thought “Wow, I didn’t know I went to school with Cat Wilson”. It took my 45-year-old brain a few moments to process that “Cat” is short for “Catherine”… duh… and the next thing you know, I can see that little blue Robin’s egg, clear as day. I stared at her 7th grade photo. Yup, even 6 years later, I’m sure that’s the face I’d been remembering all these years. Or had I? What if it was never Catherine Wilson at all? What if it was some other random classmate. I honestly couldn’t remember any of the other girls in that class. It very well could have been one of them, and my brain filled in the blanks for me. Or, maybe it wasn’t a memory at all and just a crappy dream. I had to find out.

I send a text to our mutual friend, telling of the sad, sad day at Hyannis West Elementary school in the early 70s. He relays the story and sure enough, it’s her. She hadn’t thought of that story in a long, long time. I think maybe she forgot. Or put it away someplace where she didn’t have to look at it. Can you blame her? That story sucks. Luckily, we just randomly crossed paths and I was able to bring that shit right back up to the surface! We end up connecting on Facebook (legitimately, this time) and go back and forth a few times, reminiscing about it.

Turns out, she’s a blogger, too. She wrote about this same story today, which you can read here.

So, at this point, we all know this is a tragic, sad story about the brutal demise of an already dead Robin’s egg. A tragic story that sort of became “just” a story, as the years passed. Until I read her blog. You see, now it’s not just a story about some rambunctious  6-year-old poking his thumb into some other kid’s pastel egg. It’s about bullying. It’s about not liking part of your childhood. It’s about kids making other kids feel bad for not fitting in to whatever is considered “normal”.  God, this little girl got picked on for loving butterflies…

As soon as I read about her tormentors, my heart went into my throat for a second….“Oh God, please don’t tell me I bullied her”. Yeah, I had my spurts of being one of those asshole kids. At the time, I never knew why I acted that way. The behavior just sort of oozed out of me. All I knew was I felt terribly ashamed afterwards. Which, at the time, was confusing…because I hated that feeling, yet I bullied more than once. Of course, as an adult, I can now see why I acted that way. Trauma creates trauma.  Luckily, I was fairly confident I only ruined a few kids lives back then, and was pretty sure she wasn’t on the list. But it doesn’t matter. I might as well have bullied her. I made other girls feel the way she did, so what difference does it make?

I’ve spent the past few days thinking about this. Of course, I’m now a completely different person than that damaged kid I used to be. I think I’ve spent most of my adult life trying to make up for being that kid. Not just to the girls I picked on during those few difficult years, but also to the girl I treated the worst…me. I’ve been thinking how when a child grows up knowing inherently that they are bad, they eventually end up acting out that role. I can’t speak for the other bullies out there, but for me it was almost like a way to have some sort of control over at least something in my life. No, I wasn’t consciously aware of that at the time I was being a jerk, but I’m pretty aware of it now. I had no control over anything back then. Not the feelings of abandonment, not the emotional neglect, not the sexual and physical abuse…nothing. I just absorbed it all, like a sponge. Total acceptance. This is just how my life is. This is all I get.

Forty years and tons of therapy later, I’m slowly learning that this is not just how my life is. I do have control over things (well, some things) And I am compassionate. I am not a bully, and frequently bend over backwards to prove otherwise. Well, not really to prove otherwise. I sincerely find joy in bringing peace to others. It helps me on my own journey to peace. You just never know what people are going throughwho spent part their lives being tormented, whether it was by a school bully or a sibling or a husband or a stranger. You never know who has a voice in the back of their head, telling them “this is all I get”. Sometimes, all it takes is a small act of compassion, or more commonly…a small act of validation…to quiet that voice, or to change the words to “I am worth more”.  And that’s something we all should be saying.

 

 

 

 

 

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How I escaped from my cocoon while running a business and raising two kids without completely losing my mind

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