Emotional Arsonist

emotional-arsonist

I was weary and ready for sleep tonight when it was time for lights out. I did not write yesterday because the words had not yet come to me. Then magically they appeared in the middle of the night as they sometimes do like a song stuck in my head. The longer I lay there trying to ignore them, trying to wait til the morning, the louder the song grew. Until there was only one choice to make, it is time to write.

I woke initially with a pain in my shoulder which makes sense because I am carrying a burden. A burden that weighs heavy on my heart and heavier on my soul.

Before I go further I would like to offer background for this post:
The Unraveling of a Family Tie
and
Boundaries are Hard in Families
will give some context to this post for anyone that wants it.

Out of respect for my family I have been doing what I consider shadow writing on topics related to family issues up to this point. For now I plan to continue to write in the shadows, I may feel differently about this as time goes on, that is yet to be seen.

So in these previous posts I have mentioned a long brewing issue that one family member is at the center of. In recent months another family member has become involved and when this took place a small flame was lit. A flame of negativity and malice, of confusion and mistrust. This small flame has resulted in a raging fire of destruction and disconnection that threatens to engulf my family.

Previously I mentioned that I am not the fire department and I hold no power to extinguish this blaze; that is still my truth. I am one person with a bucket though and today was the day I decided it was time to pick up my one bucket and use it before it was too late.

Up to this point this flame has been somewhat contained. There are two family members who started it and they have been trying to add small pieces of kindling but the fire has burned away from most of the rest of the family so we have been able to remain uninvolved with collective hope that this fire would burn out on its own given enough time. Today a flame from that fire licked my face and that was too close to comfort. It was time to set a hard boundary.

What took place was that my relative who is one of the fire starters emailed the entire family to speak their truth about another family member who they have a waged character war against. This was done as a way to further discredit this person and lambast their integrity. On this issue I remain neutral, this is not my quarrel. What I will not do however is accept any kind of correspondence that will cause further injury to my family. I did not read more than the first line of this person’s email, that was enough for me. From there I took a breath and decided to respond. My response was as follows:

_________________ ,

Please know that as I write this email I bear you no ill will. I believe that you feel that you are doing what you think is right.

With that said, I did not read your email and I will not read any further correspondence that means to further injure our family. When I say family, that includes everyone. You, ______, and _______ will always be part of my family and I will always have compassion for all of you, as I do everyone in the family.

I feel as though you have lost your way and I send you light and love during this difficult time.

As for  __________, there is nothing that anyone could ever say that would convince me that he is anything less than good hearted.

I hope we are able to heal as a family. The disconnection we are experiencing is hurtful and it does not have to be.

I am sending you love and forgiveness.

 

This was my bucket of water. This was my offering and my hope is that the healing energy of love and compassion would act as water to the flame. If not, I have at least set the boundary in an assertive way to let them know I will not accept this kind of correspondence going forward.

This person’s email was entitled “The Truth” and they spoke their truth. I took this as an invitation for the rest of us to speak ours.

I have remained silent and neutral up to this point, as the rest of my extended family has, for reasons I have listed before: hopefully this will blow over, it is none of my business, etc.

This is not blowing over, the flames are growing larger and the moment my relative sent that email to the entire extended family this situation went from being none of my/our business to this person making it our business.
There is a time for silence and a time for action and for me the time for silence ended the moment this person hit the “send” button and spewed this venom on the family.

I still remain neutral on the overarching issue because I do not believe it is my place to pass judgement on who is right or wrong. I might have my private feelings about that but I do not have the authority or the right to pass that judgement openly. I also do not believe that doing so will help me meet my ultimate goal for an outcome which is the healing and preservation of my entire family.

Judgement and anger and other negative emotions would only further insight this fire. To put out a fire you have to introduce a new element: sand, water, etc. Love is my water. Unconditional forgiveness  and compassion are my water. An invitation to heal is my water.

When I sent my response I replied all. No one else in my family had responded to this relative, this is still true. My hope is that I was able to set an example of love, an example that my family will have the courage to follow. My hope is that my family will see me here with bucket and join me with buckets of their own healing truth to share with this family member in an effort to extinguish this flame.

In the end we cannot control this person or their reactions. We are not the fire department and we may not be able to put out this inferno. I will not stand by with my bucket and feel useless though. I will not watch my family burn and do nothing when I have a bucket I can offer. My family may be doomed to burn either way but at least I know I did my part.

Tonight I send out love and light to everyone in my family, we all are hurting in the wake of this crisis. My hope and intention is the light I am sending out be the light that guides my family back to a path of love and connection. We have to come back to each other in love and connection to heal and be whole again.

 

An aside: When I got out of bed to come and write I did what I normally do when I write in the middle of the night. I lit my candles to bring light and love to darkness, I lit my salt lamp with the same intention, and I made myself a cup of tea. Then I took my tea and nested in blankets on the couch for comfort. The tea I often make for middle of the night writing is a brand that has what I think of as “love notes” on the tag. When I looked at the love note on my tea it was as though the Universe knew what I am trying to do with my healing bucket of water and was sending me support and assurance in its own way.

cosmic-support

 

That Wasn’t My Best Me

energy

This last week was not one of my best and I certainly did not show up with my light turned up. Between bad energy at internship, Thanksgiving not going according to plan, and then hubs and I both getting the flu over the weekend.. I have not been at my best emotionally, physically, or mentally.

I am so close to the end of the semester and having a break from internship, there is piece of me that is tempted to just sit in this place of anxiety and negativity until the break. Why though? Why would I deliberately put off feeling better? Because it would be more work to actively try and feel better while I still have work to do and assignments to complete rather than just allow myself to give into what feels easy, this negative energy.

I had been doing so well with my intention of turning up my light. I am disappointed that I was so easily derailed by other people’s energy, illness, and just life in general. How committed was I if it was that easy to give in?

I think it is good though. It causes me to reflect and realize how easy it is to forget our purpose. This is not something I can be passive about. It is something I have to be actively engaged in everyday. Waking with intention, going to bed with gratitude. I admit I have been doing neither for last few days.

I can give myself space though, I have been ill and in a medicated delirium. Now that I am starting to feel better though I would like to get back to having mindful intention and gratitude. I have felt incredibly unbalanced the last week or so. That is how it goes sometimes though. I can try to show up as my best self everyday but the truth is I am human and sometimes I am going to show up in very human ways which may not feel like my best spiritual self.

So tonight as I am getting ready for a very big week that I know I have underlying anxiety around I would like to show my dark pieces love. My sick pieces, my vulnerable pieces, my scorned pieces, my jealous and angry pieces, my very human and beautifully flawed pieces that show up in painfully honest ways.

I am doing my best and my best looks different depending on the day. Today my best was taking care of body while it healed from the flu and giving Lu a bath after she rolled in the dirt even though I was completely exhausted.

Yesterday my best was making a conscious effort not to puke on my husband.

Tomorrow I will start my day with whatever intention is awake inside of me and I will give the day my best, whatever that looks like tomorrow.

Back in My Day: In Defense of a Generation

When I first started this blog I was 28 and returning to college for the first time in over 5 years. Most of my time back in the classroom has found me surrounded by people 10+ years younger than myself. My best friend at school is 12 years younger than me. At first I had a lot to say about the way these  millennials did things. If you go far enough back you will find multiple disparaging posts about these annoying millennials and how the way they do things is wrong and the way I do things is right.

I was an ass. I was still operating from a place of dichotomous thinking, there was little to no room for gray in my life back then. This is an area where I personally feel I have experienced much growth in the last 4 years. Now instead of leading from a place of judgement I generally lead from a place of celebrating differences.

This leads into the purpose of this post. This week brought with it some negative energy. The negative energy was not a huge shocker, that is just where our nation has been this year unfortunately. It feels like every week I am trying to balance negative energy and protect myself from allowing to get beneath the surface. This week was different though. It was not negative energy being spewed at me from the news, or social media, or even people in my cohort.. It came up at internship. At the end of supervision we were addressed as a group and comments were made about “work ethic” and “expectations”.. The word “entitlement” came up. It was unexpected and left a lot of people on edge.

Shortly after supervision I met with my supervisor for my end of semester review. I got high marks across the board and plenty of complimentary feedback. My supervisor ended the review by making it clear I was doing an excellent job and supervision was not about me. I was grateful for the good review, obviously that is important, but it did not change the way I felt about what took place in supervision.

Everyone I work with on the clinical team is doing an excellent job in my eyes. We all give 100%, we each have our own unique talents we bring to the team, we are all mindful of self-care and model for our clients everything we are talking about with them when in session.  I have worked with jaded cynical people in the past, I have compassion for them, burn out is a very real thing, but this is a team of highly committed clinical workers who care about our population.”Entitled” is not a word that would cross my mind when describing the group of women I am privileged enough to learn from and with. It was all a bit puzzling and left quite a few of us very uncomfortable. None of us could figure out what triggered this. It was not explained. Had we done something wrong? I definitely did not see it.

At the end of my review my supervisor shared with me that after our site visit a few weeks back our seminar instructor shared with her that some of the students from the younger generation were “entitled”. They did not feel they needed to work long hours or weekends, this kind of thing. I started to wonder if this message that was relayed was even for us. None of us have given any trouble about the hours expected of us, we all work weekends without complaint.

This was all disappointing to me on many levels. I was disappointed that someone from the school was engaging in what felt like gossip when it was relayed back to me. I was disappointed that my supervisor took this information and made negative generalizations about an entire generation of people as well as casting negative judgments about the younger generations work ethic just because it might look different. I was disappointed that a moment of negative talk between two professionals seeped into supervision and had a negative impact on the clinical team. This could have stopped at any point but it didn’t. That is how energy works, it just keeps growing until someone breaks the cycle, until sees it for what it is and consciously makes the decision not to engage, not to let it in.

I am not going to lie to you it took me a day or two to get to the point where I felt I could break the cycle.

I have had the opportunity to process this with a few people, hubs was ultimately what helped me balanced it. I know people like to shit on millennials, especially the prior generations. They are called vapid, narcissistic, selfish, out of touch with reality, lazy, entitled.. so on and so on..

I remember when I was child my dad’s dad would tell me stories about how he walked a mile in the snow to get to school when he was a child in Wisconsin. My mom’s dad told us about how during the depression he caught squirrels and bull frogs on the farm in Missouri and that was dinner most nights.

The point they were always trying to make: you have it so easy. Not just me either. Your parents had it so easy, you have it so easy, and your kids will have it so easy too. They griped about the decay in moral fiber, groaned about how baby boomers have no work ethic because my parents would take on vacations – how dare they take time off work. 

This is how it goes. The former generation is always looking down their nose at the upcoming generation saying “you are doing it wrong”. You see this cross-culturally as well, this is not something we have trade marked in America. It is part of the human condition to think your generational cohort is/was the best. I can’t disagree either, mine is totally the best we have The Labyrinth and The Goonies.

What one person may be looking at and calling “entitled” another person may be calling self-care or work/life balance.

This is progress, this is what it looks like. It is a shift in thinking, it is a change in work ethic, technology, attitude, ideas.. Change is constant no reason to be afraid of it. No reason to call names. There is room for everyone.

Even though it was made clear this message was not meant for me it still made me very uncomfortable because I just do not agree with it. Over time of getting to know all these beautiful people who are 10+ years younger than me I have personally learned that yes, they do things differently (sometimes I feel super old working with them because they know things I don’t know and do things I don’t do), and that is not bad or wrong or any other negative judgment one may want to attach to them. I am just as open to learn from them as I am to learn from my mentors who are 10+ years older than me. Both generations have a lot to offer in terms of their approaches to the work and their life perspectives.

I do believe in work/life balance. That does not make me entitled. I will practice self-care and I will also make my clients my top priority when I am at work. I will have boundaries and I will say no in my personal life and my professional life and that does not make me selfish. My approach to social work practice will be my own and it will not be any more or less valuable than any other’s, it will be mine though. Our differences are what make this a great profession, I thought that was a given, for some maybe it isn’t. I do not hold any of this against them, I just see it differently.

work-life

Sacred Femininity

divine

I need to start by saying that after my last post I was sitting in a bit of a vulnerability hang over. It is not easy to not only see your own darkness, but to sit in it and then allow others to see it as well. My ability to not only acknowledge the existence of my shadow pieces but to give them voice when needed and love them just as they are is what healing looks like for me.

This kind of ties into my current inspiration which is the healing power of feminine energy. Feminine energy to me is nurturing, it is creation, it is love, it is divine, it is pure and unending, it is acceptance on every level. I just finished my latest painting and it has to do with creation, and transformation, and evolution, and how all things are connected, and the power of feminine energy. There is a lot of symbolism in this piece. It was also in part inspired by the female body.

transformation

It felt so good to be painting again. After I finished it I kept seeing more and more symbolism in what I had created, even beyond what my initial inspiration was.

It felt really good to sit in this healing feminine energy after the darkness I allowed myself to sit in and share, after weeks of being exposed to toxic energy out in the world.. I have been talking for a while about how to balance the negative energy that exists in the world right now this goes back to that. There is balance in everything; darkness is balanced by light, negative and positive, hate and love, destruction and creation, masculine energy and feminine energy. In the middle of each of these extremes is the balance, the gray area.

My light is aflame and I am embracing my own sacred femininity because my truth is that the sacred feminine energy that each of us possesses is what will save the world. The Dali Lama said the world will be saved by the western woman, some thought that meant Hillary, some think it means western women as a whole, I think it has to do with being in tune with our collective feminine energy. That nurturing, maternal, infinite loving energy. That is what will save the world. I am stepping into that energy in my own life and am seeing the impact it can have. What would happen if we all led from a place of love and light?

dali-lama

 

Sharing My Light

light

I have mentioned previously that in my groups class we take run an actual mutual aid support group made up of the members of class and every week to class members get to co-facilitate the group together with a predetermined topic. Last night was our last night of group and it also happened to be my night to co-facilitate. Our topic was loss.

When I initially was assigned to be the last group and given the topic of loss nothing about this rattled me. I was doing the group with a close friend we had both done groups before, and I was well versed in the topic of loss thanks to prior experiences.. it was going to be fine.

Well a lot had changed since the beginning of the semester. For starters my friend was no longer in the class so I had been assigned a new partner, someone I had never worked with before and whom I did not know at all. On top of that we were going the week after the most contentious election in recent history.

My new partner was fabulous. I could tell the moment I met up with her to discuss a game plan. We were going to work together just fine. We came up with ideas for questions to fall back if needed we started brainstorming about ice breakers and how to close the session out. The ice breaker was particularly tricky.. a lot of my go-to ice breakers had already been used earlier on in the semester by other co-facilitators. I even went so far as to read a book about ice breakers for ideas.. They all felt so forced and cheesy to me though.

The concern about having to go right after election week really started to grow over the weekend.. I had not been on social media much as I was giving myself a break from all the negativity so I did not know that a rift was beginning to form within our cohort online. Apparently a few members of our cohort had voted for Trump, totally their right, and one in particular seemed to becoming more and more vocal with their opinions about how the rest of the country, who did not vote for Trump, was responding to his win. I am sure a lot of people saw this kind of thing happening on their feed, FB has become a bit of a trash can since the election unfortunately.

So this person was apparently making comments on other members of the cohort’s posts about protests that are going on, or articles they would post.. It didn’t sound good. One of my friends that I went to dinner with mentioned that this person had started making unwanted comments on one of her posts and was not backing down. This person in question is known for being outspoken, personally I have always seen this as a strength because I have never seen them take it to a negative place, but it seems like right now it was getting very negative and hostile. I would brush all of this off as none of my business, and did for the most part, my only concern is that some of this people that now seem to be feuding a bit are in my groups class. I started to get nervous..

Is this going to bleed into class? Is this going to bleed into the group I have to co-facilitate? Do I feel that I am able to hold space for a discussion that could come out of this? I did not know any of the answers to these questions.

So our anxiety leading up to the day of class was our lack of an ice breaker and not knowing what the hell to expect from the class. I mean the topic is loss, many people are feeling a definite loss associated with the outcome of the election (myself included), we could be in for a heavy conversation. At this point I did not know how I ever felt so confident at the beginning of the semester.

Then I woke up yesterday morning and had a moment of clarity in my morning meditation.

What have I been saying since last week? Turn up your light, be an example of love, do whatever it is you do – sing, dance, paint.. Paint. That is what I do. I am an artist. That is one way I can turn up my light, suddenly I knew exactly what to do for the ice breaker and it would also address the negative energy that might be present.

I called my partner, shared my idea, we brainstormed together and both agreed this was a great way to go. I thought about bringing in my own art supplies but decided I did not want everyone using my personal stuff and getting their energy on it. So I ran by the art store, got some cheapo acrylics, brushes, and a canvas.

At the beginning of class we invited everyone up to the front of class where we had set up the canvas, paints, and brushes. We asked everyone to paint a little something on the canvas that speaks to how they are currently feeling, the energy they are bringing to group tonight, or just a little something that they feel represents them.

It was great! Everyone was laughing and painting. Some were very thoughtful and used lots of colors, others made a little mark and were done. Everyone responded to it in their own way, which was great because it created such diversity on the canvas. There were peace signs, flowers, hearts, suns, inspiring words like “empower you” and “breathe”.. The group member who I was a bit concerned about, the one who seems to be struggling with other members of the cohort, painted something that I thought was very telling.. It was a big “equal” sign with a line through it. It was a bold red and was by far the largest symbol painted on the canvas.

At the end of group we processed our painting and what everyone thought. Some people asked questions about some of the symbols they were seeing, a question was asked about the big red symbol.. The group member who painted it blurted almost explosively that it stands for “unequal” because that is how they feel about society right now essentially. That group member did not participate in group last night but by opening the floor to creative expression at the beginning we were still able to give that member a voice, maybe in a way that felt a bit safer for them to express themselves. I feel good about that. I also hope that all the peace, love, and flowers present next to their symbol helped it to feel balanced, and in turn helped this person feel balanced.

Politics did not bleed into group. Group went well. At the end was passed around self-care stickers for everyone to pick from, they were a big hit too. I cannot control how everyone experienced our group last night but I know I turned up my light. I realized that being able to hold space for others starts with being able to hold space for yourself.

In a little while I will be leaving for internship. I am walking into this day with continued commitment to turn up my light and be an example of love.

Letting It All Out: Part II

pride

Saturday night once my paper was finally complete it was time for girls night with my social work friends. One of my girlfriends came to my home to ride with me to the restaurant downtown. I was still getting ready so they gave us an awesome opportunity to catch up while I did my make up and picked out earrings.

We chatted about school, and internship, and the election, and life. It felt like another nice deep breath, much like my time with hubs and Lu earlier in the day had felt.

At dinner my girlfriends and I caught each other up on life, and internships, and fulfilled each other’s general need for self-care through meaningful connection. Much as I expected sparks flew.

After dinner one of my girlfriends and I decided to go downtown for some dancing. The best of that decision is we caught the tail end of Pride. We watched the fireworks from the Pride festivities that had been going on all day and then danced among those who had spent the day celebrating. It was everything.

There were rainbows everywhere, everyone was dancing, it was the most joyful scene and my heart was so full. At the end of the night after dancing at multiple bars my girlfriend and I were sitting at one of my favorite bars watching everyone else dance and celebrate. My friend and I started commenting on how much hope it restores in us to see our LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters be so free. A dark cloud is hanging over our nation yet we are still able to wave our rainbows and dance our dances and sing our songs and raise our collective light.

We will not stop dancing, we will not stop singing, we will not dim our light to meet others in their darkness. Love does conquer hate. Love conquers all.

Tonight as I drove home from drum circle I crossed a bridge on the interstate that leads me into the city. It was lit up with rainbow colors and from the bridge I could see multiple buildings downtown lit up with rainbows as well. I wish we could have the rainbows all year long as a reminder of love because in a rainbow there is room for every color just like in this world there is room for every person. Colors belong to everyone and this world belongs to everyone.

I am grateful for this amazing reminder of what love looks and feels like on a broader level.

pride1

Letting It All Out: Part I

smudge

I needed a lot of space for self-care this weekend. I think hubs and I both did. I do not think we were alone. With every interaction I had with the world this weekend I saw it around me.. I felt it. That need to be gentler, softer, to taking a deeper breath..

Negative energy was hanging over our home Saturday mid-morning. I was on a deadline all weekend and was feeling the anxiety associated with that. Hubs came to me because his anxiety was building over the level of disarray in the home. We could both feel this energy building and decided to hit the reset button. I took a break from my paper and we went for a walk with Lu. As we were walking I was helping him be in the moment using mindfulness. I was walking him through how to let go of the anxiety associated with our mess at home. We focused on the feeling of the breeze against our skin, the different colored leaves we were seeing all around us, we made sure not to rush Lucy and allow her to smell everything she wanted to smell – it was her walk too. We decided to walk up to the vegan tea shop and have lunch. We both ordered a tea and a light lunch and then sat outside with Lu reading various vegetarian and music magazines.

As we ate people came up to love on Lu, others stopped to chat about this or that. I bonded with the employee who took our order over the hat I was wearing, my HRC Love Conquers Hate cap, as it was pride weekend downtown. She was also wearing her rainbow ribbon in support. It was nice.

After our lunch we took our tea to go and walked over to the park. Lucy and I chased squirrels together and then chased each other around a pine tree until she decided to jump in a huge pile of pine needles, I followed suit. Hubs just sat back and laughed at us.

On the walk home I found a great stick I thought Lucy would like; turns out she was much too tired after our romp in the pine needles. I thought it was too great to leave behind so I added it to my growing collection of leaves and acorns I had been picking up along the way and took it home with us.

Hubs asked what I was going to do with the stick, I paused for a moment and then replied that I planned to paint it, tie ribbons to it, and glue on some bells. This way when our home has funky energy in the future we can use our joyous bell stick (I have decided that will be its name) and clear the energy.

When we got home hubs came up with a priorities list for what part of the mess bothers him most and we got to work. Before we got started I had him pick out an oil and a color he wanted the diffuser set to as well as an intention for the work we were doing. We both said the intention out loud a few times, I dropped in the oil he chose – serenity- and set the diffuser to light blue. It took us less than an hour to completely clear the negative energy from our home once we were home as well as get it picked up. Hubs said this was his version of smudging the house, I’d say it was pretty effective.

Here is the mid-point result of my joyous bell stick. It is painted and ready for adornment.

self-care