Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Becoming More Yourself != Finding Your Place




Soul In Flight II

It's been quite a long time since I blogged for the purpose of blogging. I have some fantastic friends (familee, more like) who happen to share one of the most challenging journeys I've encountered in my adult life. I've had many a word to share with them over the last few years that haven't made their way to my blog. What I find interesting is how much I really haven't shared with those who don't share this particular journey . . . and yet, so much of my healing applies to a great many situations. We all struggle to know who we really are and who we are meant to be. We all want to "fit in". What we don't always realize is that fitting in is NOT the same thing as being more ourselves. We are all built with mechanisms that alert us (sometimes not clearly) that engaging in situations and partnering with certain people are leading us to be LESS ourselves. I firmly believe that we are always meant to be moving towards being MORE ourselves, not less. If a toxic relationship or tragic situation pulls you elsewhere, that's where the hard work comes in. Despite the helplessness and codependency we might feel in those times, we always have a choice to move forward in a healthy way.

As a youngster, I was a lot of things. I was adventurous, happy and organized. I loved to build things (often architectual); I did my best to be honest; I tried new things and often failed without letting it phase me. The list goes on. There are a numerous personality traits I have now that go back as far as I can remember. As a youngster, we typically spent weekdays at one home and various weekends at another home that happened to be close to four hours away. It's not that my parent's were divorced and it's not that we were well off, but we were blessed in that my parents got a BEYOND remarkable wedding gift in the form of a vacation home. There were years we spent with the vacation home as just that, a vacation destination. Likewise, there were years that we spent the majority of our time in the vacation home and simply went to the other house to be sure it was secure. With that said, I had boxes for my things. If our parent's decided we needed to rush off to the other home, my things were pretty much packed and ready to go. I never realized it back then but I had a gift for compartmentalizing, literally and psychologically. Okay. Okay. So, you just flashed back to Psychology 101 and you are not wrong to do so.

My father died when I was eight and my mother when I was eleven. In the midst of my recent journey, I've found myself reflecting on how my own awareness came to me as a youngster. I realized at a very early age that my own parents had pain in their hearts. They had pain that they didn't talk about, pain that blinded them from seeing how it took it's toll on those around them. They put on a good front, tried to keep it together, tried to live up to the image they thought they were supposed to keep up. At times, they did some very mean, brutal, selfish, self destructive, stupid and hopeless things. Granted, my parents had some significant shit rain down on them in their youth at a time when counseling was taboo. They really were victims on more levels than is relevant in today's culture that has psychotherapists visit you in the hospital when good things happen to you. Our parents hurt us in emotional and physical ways; sometimes on purpose, sometimes blindly. What I had to come to realize is that they needed help, likely years before I came to be and that the help they didn't get (intentionally or unknowingly) made their lives go sideways. They made bad decisions. They tried to keep things together with the wrong emotional tools. They felt they didn't have a choice. They were human.

Every child has a right of passage that leads them to the truth that their parents are people and therefore NOT perfect. We are all human, and as such, we sometimes make bad decisions. Sometimes those decisions hurt nobody but us. Sometimes they hurt people around us even if we never meant to. Sometimes bad things happen to us and in our own coping, we somehow get so focused on our own pain that we forget the people around us. Sometimes the "keeping it all together" act falls to pieces. Sometimes we don't think we have a choice but to keep up the facade. If the facade doesn't lead us to be MORE ourselves, it will indeed fall apart. I've seen it happen. It's happened to me. It isn't pretty.

Even as a kid, I had an internal mechanism that allowed me to very swiftly move into "caretaker" role without much of any conscious decision. Our mother suffered mentally and physically and somehow I was up at all hours trying to do something about it. I was what . . . 9? 10? What did I know? It was automatic. It made my own horror, pain and helplessness be so much less apparent. I put my own troubles in a figurative box, working on the assumption that how I was treated wasn't about what he/she really felt about me, but that it was more about them. Really? How the heck did I know that? All I can say is that is how God designed me and clearly, He had His reasons.

Once my mother passed, it was on to the next adventure. A new family, a new sibling dynamic, new parents with their own "put the fun in dysfunctional" methodology we all still joke about. I was really blessed. They all (parents and siblings alike) bent over backwards to take us in. Birth order was screwed up. Discipline routines were screwed up. Everything was upside down for all of us. The key is that even within that new dynamic, there was stability and the availability of relevent expectations. From there, I could heal. I could unpack my boxes. I could empty my compartments. I could parse the ME that was coping from the ME that was always and will always be there and would carry me forward. I had to forgive to move forward, not because those I forgave had a clue but because it set me free to move forward. For me, the forgiveness I cultivated for my parents was about understanding that they didn't realize they had a choice to do the right thing. When they did know they had the choice, they just didn't know they were strong enough to make it. After a lot of years of work re-descovering me, I vowed that I'd never let myself feel that helpless about anything in my life. It took years, but I found my place. MY PLACE is simply being comfortable in my own skin.

I had a less than ideal childhood buy who hasn't? The difference lies between those who take ZERO ownership of their decisions and blame what they were dished in childhood for their poor adult decisions. I say that's a load of crap. We all have a choice. If your parents or life treated you in a way that you feel is wrong, you DO KNOW WHAT IS WRONG. Just because you didn't see the "right stuff" doesn't give you a free pass to screw up your life and then blame something or somebody else. When you go and repeat the pattern, don't blame your parents because there really is something inside you that told you that it was wrong all along. You have a choice. You get to choose how you move forward. You get to choose to leave coping mechanisms behind and take your healthy personality traits with you into the future. You get to leave emotional reactions with the people in your past who deserve it . . . instead of appying them to every person you get close to in your future, accusing them of being what your ex (whatever the relationship was) happened to be.

What's tricky is when you get into relationships with people who think that your tragic childhood events make you damaged goods. I've been close to people who think that since I'd been through such obvious crap in my childhood that somehow I was blessed by his or her presence in my world. It's difficult to detect, especially if they have mastered the gift of manipulation. When people use the experiences of my past as a means of trapping me it's difficult to detect. It is NOT impossible though. I still have a choice once I realize what's going on and I have made my choices.

The long and the short of it is that I've had to rediscover ME through all of this. I've had to find my own place and that place has not one thing to do with somebody else's expectations. I have to be ME and if something causes me to be less me, it's not right. Returning to who I am after events that pull me away is the only way to move forward successfully. I did it in my youth and by doing so, knew I could do it in my adulthood. Experience is an amazing thing in that sometimes we don't always know it's going to help us but when it does . . . BAM!. The epiphany that comes with realizing we can heal again is astounding. There are a great many "beyond our control" situations in life but MY progress starts with knowing ME. My place in this world matters not. What matters is that I'm me and that nobody has the power to tell me that my experiences in life make me somehow "less than" they are. I am me, IN ME. I am meant to be me, not less me. Desperately trying to fit in and be what others want me to be won't ever create a niche for me. Desperately trying to be what others expect of you won't ever create a niche for you either. Desperately trying to please others won't ever create a niche for anyone. When you find people who accept you for being YOU, now THAT's how it's supposed to be.

Finding me, BEING me and shedding the behaviors that belong with past situations and people is the only way to pull that off. It's hard work to leave behind those knee-jerk reactions that are tied to years ago and how mom, dad, sister, brother, best friend from way back when, enemy, frenemy, ex-spouse, etc. treated me or made me feel. Feelings of inadequacy, fear, unattractiveness, etc. belong with the people who made us feel that way, NOT with the strangers that become important to us moving forward. More than that, none of those people get to have that control over me.

I am powerful. I am smart. I am attractive. I am truthful. I am me. I've had a wealth of experiences and they've allowed me to be MORE me than I was before and I'm exactly where I fit in.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Get Up and Go




Everlasting Light

Today's sermon at church today was about the story in the fifth chapter of John about the healing at the pool in Bethesda. The story goes that the lame, sick and invalid would gather at this pool and wait for the waters to stir. Upon stirring, it was believed that the first one in the water would be healed of what ailed them. The ironic part to me is that these are a pack of physically ill and/or disabled people, waiting for an exact moment to move physically into the waters. I can only imagine how painstaking it might to be to wait for those moments to race to the water with a failing body. One man had been suffering, alone in a crowd for thirty eight years. He'd evidently struggled to race to the stirring waters all those years and yet failed because he was physically not able and had no help. Jesus picked this man out of the crowd, asked him if he wanted to be made well and upon getting an answer, healed him and told him to get up and go . . . all without the man knowing who HE was. It's yet another stunning example of Jesus' healing.

The fact that Jesus wanted confirmation that this man wanted to be healed is important for me. It's obvious that this man had debilitating physical ailments, having not being strong enough to get to the water first ahead of all who had gathered at the pool with him. What's more important is the spiritual suffering this man has experienced. It's my impression that the question Jesus posed to the man was about being healed spiritually, more so than physically. I believe that God calls us to WANT to be spiritually healed, above all else. After all, our bodies are flawed and designed to be outlived by our spirits.

Once the healing is done, this invalid of a man, wrought with loneliness for not having anyone to befriend or help him all these years is called to simply GET UP and GO . . . and he DOES! Jesus didn't tickle his feet asking if he could feel it. Jesus didn't hold the man's hand and tell him to try sitting up, or try putting weight on his legs. Jesus doesn't wait for him to discover his healing and exclaim "I can feel my legs" or "I can see". Jesus doesn't waste any time letting the man acclimate to his newfound strength. Jesus wants him to trust fully that he can not only carry his own weight but carry the mat that has been his home for all these years, and carry them AWAY from this place. The fullness of the healing happens all in the moment this man stands, physically and spiritually.

There have been times for me when life experiences have called me to get up and go. I wouldn't compare them to the profound healing this man experienced but it helps me relate to him. One does not need to lose function of their limbs to feel paralyzed. One does not need to lack visual acuity to be blinded and one does not need to live on a mat to feel unwelcome. I've had times when I had no idea what would come next. The biggest act of faith is in the getting up, trusting that God has given you the capacity to go and trusting that the path ahead will be made clear.

I hope I always hear Him when He asks if I want to be healed, that I'm not too afraid to say yes and that I always trust enough to get up and go when He tells me to do so.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Burning at These Mysteries




Burning at These Mysteries

I'm constantly challenged by the difference between what I believe about faith versus what I see displayed by others who proclaim their religion for all to see. I've recently made a life-changing decision that I did not come by easily. I am no longer married and I was the one to initiate the divorce. There it is... I did it. I said it.

I don't walk around wearing a sandwich board about the divorce or any of my reasons. I'm not gathering troops to side with me on the issue. I'm just doing the best I can given the changes that are still in progress. What cuts me to the core are those who judge me for "calling it quits" on my marriage without knowing me or the situation. What's worse are that some of these people are slandering me in a public way. Just today, a pastor I've never met before decided to state something publicly about me throwing my husband under a bus. Seriously?!?! Does he really minister to his congregation with this level of blind, public judgment? Anyone with a pulse knows that a person does not file for divorce on a whim. It's a mystery to me that a Pastor would throw stones like this. I'm glad that scars are tougher than regular skin because I just grew a new patch of scar tissue where that stone struck.

If you're reading this Pastor man, pray for me. Pray for me to listen to God and follow Him according to His will. All I can do is the best I know how to do, prayerfully and as humanly faithful as possible. God hates divorce, I realize that. Even so, God knows my heart and I trust that He will hold me accountable for my sins in this world. God's grace is enough.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I Burn But Am Not Consumed


I Burn But am Not Consumed

So often, important decisions and changes put us in a position of being under fire. Slander, lies, moral platitudes, manipulation and judgment come from places we'd never even presume. We must realize that most stones are cast from those who don't know the full truth of the situation. Hearsay, popularity, gossip and finger pointing seem to prevail with little truth in the mix. How can anyone point fingers without knowing all sides of the situation? Even knowing the basics of all sides, God is the only one who knows the real truth of the matter. Leave the judgment to Him.

If you find yourself under fire, withstand the fire but do not be consumed by it.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

De-Cloistering





There are many times in life that we all find ourselves building walls around (or compartmentalizing) aspects of our spirit in order to protect ourselves. Sometimes that allows us to go a bit numb in certain areas to avoid further harm to our souls. It's a natural coping mechanism that helps us endure situations beyond our control. What we sometimes fail to realize is how it will effect us when we let those walls back down. It's like when an appendage falls asleep and it starts to recover. You all of a sudden find yourself on pins and needles, not really able to control the muscles, moving into more severe pain and then gradually we regain full function. Healing is essential but it doesn't come without a certain level of discomfort as we regain use of whatever it is we've preserved behind our emotional walls.

When you are ready to "de-cloister", knock down those walls, but be prepared for the pins and needles as the circulation kicks in.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Initial Post


In my quest to stay up-to date I've begun my own blog journey. My blog title is inspired by a fractal I made in December of 2007. The title represents a condition of life that we all encounter from time to time. It's been my experience that the true grit of my own character is best found in those moments where everything seems to be spinning at once. Choices are made, new journeys begin and growth ensues.


About my art...

I've been working with Fractal Art for over two years now. You're probably wondering what fractals have to do with art since you likely remember them from math class. In essence, much of nature contains visual fractals, that is, similar patterns that are visible at different levels of magnification of the same object. What fractal art does is take the mathematical principles and generates them as images. I enjoy it because it taps in to both my desire to learn new things as well as my artistic imagination.


More to come...

My deviantART page