Sometimes we must unravel so we can be properly knit back together, the way we were meant to be. Prior to going through therapy, I was generally an easy going person, at least on the outside. As a child I learned to appear “perfect” so others would like me. It wasn’t a sustainable approach and by my late 30’s I completely imploded, shattering the perfect image I unconsciously worked my whole life to maintain. When I embarked on my healing journey, I noticed I wasn’t so agreeable anymore. If someone offended me, I would speak up in a blundering hurtful way. I didn’t know how to have a productive, healthy voice. I was practicing skills I had not used before. In my “perfect” state I brushed away offenses, “No problem, I ‘m fine.” But I wasn’t. I was just shoving all that hurt deep inside for the sake of being liked. Practicing speaking up was hard at first, then it got easier and more productive.
Now, I’m noticing a new development. I don’t always desire to say anything. It takes more to offend me. I’m noticing that times when I used to be easily hurt I am now not so bothered. I’m not shoving the hurt away, it’s just not there. I have an increased capacity to stop and understand this other person is not likely trying to hurt me. That perhaps their sharp edges are unhealthy ways of protecting their tender parts and they don’t know another way yet to deal with that.
I am certainly not saying this like, “Oh, look at me! I’ve got it all together.” Oh heck no! Anyone close to me knows all to well that I still have work to do. I am not tooting my own horn but rather the horn of the power of dealing with your inner garbage. I’m noticing as I go through this healing journey a sense of becoming who I was meant to be. The me I thought I was supposed to be was a very messy and hurtful product. 39 years worth of knitting together was unravelled to begin anew. 15 years later I am still seeing the benefits of the journey. I have a long way to go. I am not fixed, just well into the process. I am so grateful we can change. I am grateful we can unravel and be reknit into the creation we were meant to be. Healing is possible. Wounds from the past do not have to dictate who we are forever.
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Come and join me on this wonderful Journey Forward!
We rush through our days, flitting from event to event but often forget to stop and savor the moments. Life becomes a blur. We lose our purpose (or never stopped long enough to even ponder what it might be). Maybe right now, in this moment, you can stop. Stop reading and just be still. Notice your breath, what it feels like to breathe. Notice what’s around you, the sounds, smells, sights, air. Feel your body. What’s it like to be in your own skin? Notice tension or pain. Let your shoulders relax. Unclench your jaw. Breathe. You can do this throughout your day. Take time to be still and simply notice (without judgment) what’s happening the moment.
I believe we can take the dawn of a new day and apply it to every moment. Each fresh start brings another opportunity to do something better, change a behavior, or try again. Sometimes we need that reminder as we step into a new year with intentions to change something that we don’t like about ourselves, our job, our location…
Sometimes we get stuck thinking we must be perfect or don’t bother, but as Yoda says, “Failure, the teacher is.” We learn so much when we pick ourselves up and get back in to whatever it was we were trying to do differently. Add friends, supporters, and encouragers to the equation to create a beautiful mix of grace and connection that can exponentially increase our chances of creating true change.
Anna is slowly healing. She goes to Pulmonary Rehab Monday through Friday where she walks, bikes, lifts tiny weights, and stretches. Tuesdays are the exception because that’s the day she goes to the clinic to see various medical personnel and her counselor. Yesterday, while waiting for her during one of her appointments, I was reading Jesus Calling. It’s a daily encouragement…like God calling you to tell you just how much He loves you.
It started out, “This is a time of abundance in your life…you are now traipsing through lush meadows drenched in warm sunshine…” at about this point I literally sighed, scoffing at these words. Abundance?!? A Meadow?!? Uh, no, I’m sitting in a hallway-turned-waiting-room on a rain soaked, dreary Durham day. My daughter is struggling to recover from her lung transplant. This isn’t my home. I am not working because I am busy taking care of my daughter and without working in my counseling practice I don’t make money. Hello! Abundance??? I don’t think so.
It was a lovely rant. As I stopped to take a breath, I realized instantly that I had missed the point. All those things that are hard in my life right now are true. I am also deeply loved by God. I could stop here and that would be enough. But wait! There’s more! My daughter is being cared for by one of the top lung transplant teams in the country. We are warm and dry on this cold wet day. I have access to healthy food and clean water…I am living in abundance! Sometimes it just takes tilting my brain to see things from a new perspective.
Do you remember a time when you did not prepare adequately for something that resulted in a negative experience and then you spiraled into a pool of shame? I do! I’m an Adjunct Professor for Dr. John Townsend’s Masters in Counseling graduate school at Concordia University in Irvine CA. Recently, I was teaching a live class and couldn’t get a video I wanted to show to work. I did not prepare, I just assumed I would have no problem.
After class I started beating myself up for not having taken the time to prepare the video for class. I went into an accurate yet harsh spiral that moved into an inaccurate and harsh spiral. I could feel all of this icky energy in my stomach and hearing the message, “You should not be a professor! You are not good enough for this task!” I felt the all too familiar pull toward a shame spiral over it.
Eventually I also employed skills to battle the spiral. I reminded myself that I was using a harsh voice. The truth is I wasn’t prepared and it took away from valuable class time. The harshness came from a meanness toward myself which then shifted to inaccurate shaming statements that I shouldn’t be teaching and that I’m not good enough. I made a mistake, yes, but that is not a definition of who I am.
I didn’t magically feel better after battling the shameful harsh judge inside of me, but I did stop the powerful avalanche of all the ways I fail from dislodging and suffocating me. The next day, I shared this experience with my husband and later a trusted group of women (we had scheduled this gathering weeks before-I’m so grateful for God’s perfect timing!). It felt good to speak it aloud and also hear their encouragement. We all need it!
This reminds me of the power of Dr. Townsend’s book, People Fuel. We need others to hear our hurts and help us activate our healthy coping skills. Our healing journey is just that, an ongoing journey. For me to ignore or dismiss the disappointment I felt would only set me up for further damage and deny my actual experience. That denial would lead to stuffing my authentic experience and pretending I was fine. This pretending leads to disconnection with others because I then project the “I’m perfect” facade and no one can relate to that. The disconnection with others leads to unhealthy behaviors like quitting things I love after making a mistake (I have a history of doing this!). Instead, I embrace my reality because it gives me an opportunity to choose community over isolation, healthy over unhealthy, and growth over stagnation. This embracing also reminds me that perfection is unachievable and never what God intended. 🙂