Hold Me

ocean healing1

I am exhausted. Physically. Emotionally. In my soul. It was a challenging week. It was also a really good week. I feel proud of what I accomplished this week. Even in that truth, I am exhausted.

Something that I talk to many of my clients about is different ways to release difficult emotions so they don’t feel like they have to hold everything all the time, allow yourself to be supported. For my writers I encourage them to let the paper hold it for them. For my artists I encouraged them to let the canvas or clay to hold it for them. For my athletes, let the court or the ball, or the track etc hold it for you.

It is easy to be consumed by our feelings, the energy they create. It is okay to feel them, it is also okay accept support.

Right now I am open to support. Hubs and I have decided to go to the beach this weekend. I am grateful. I look forward to being in the ocean, allowing it to support me, allowing it to hold everything I am feeling so I do not have to hold it by myself.

Once the decision was made that we would get away this weekend I felt instant relief. It gave me the boost I needed to finish out my week.

I am at the beginning of what I hope to be a long career of meaningful work supporting others. To do this work I also have to allow myself to be supported.

ocean healing

 

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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

 

I Encourage You to Write

A month or so ago I mentioned that I had been sought out by a few people as a mentor. That has been a nice experience and I have actually taken on another mentee since that original post. I have even had the opportunity to write my first letter of recommendation for another person, which truth be told I am still working on because I want it to be exactly what it is meant to be.

So something that has come up a few times now is the part of the mentor-mentee relationship where I am being asked for tips/advice on this or that as it pertains to whatever thing we are discussing. I realized I have two tips/pieces of advice that are universal no matter who I am speaking with.

  1. Start seeing a therapist
  2. If you don’t have the funds for therapy then start writing until you do and then keep writing once you do.

That is it folks. That is my sage wisdom about life, and becoming an authentic healer/helping professional, and feeling fulfilled and whole.

The see a therapist part is important because you need to have one person in your life that has no other role in your life than to listen. To listen to it all. Anything you have that needs to be heard that is your person across the board.

This is coming from a woman who has a solid relationship with family, a husband, soul friends, girl friends, trust worthy co-workers, mentors.. I have a lot of people in my life that are here to listen. It doesn’t matter. None of them can hold it all for me. Not even my husband.

And here is my truth about that: I would never want them to. Again, not even my husband.

My therapist is my person that helps me with my relationship with myself so I can learn to listen to myself and be the one person responsible for holding all of my stuff. My truth is that if there is any aspect of myself that I am asking someone else to hold because I don’t want to then I am doing it wrong.

There is nothing that my husband, or friends, or family, or co-workers, or mentors can do to make me feel better about something if I am not first willing to hold it for myself and help myself feel better about it.

So I say again: Tip #1: Get a therapist.

Tip #2 is of equal importance. Start writing.

I realize there are a lot of reasons/excuses that are out there for why you aren’t doing this.

I am not a good writer. My grammar isn’t great. I don’t have time. I don’t have a computer. I don’t want anyone to read it and judge me. I don’t know what to write about.

Keep making that list folks. Write down all your reasons/excuses so every piece of you that is fighting against writing has been heard and then START WRITING.

Start writing right now. Don’t even feel pressure to finish reading what I am writing. You have my full blessing to close the window to my blog right now. Just start writing.

Write about whatever you want. Start making lists. The first list can be that list of reasons you don’t want to write. Make your grocery list. Make a list each morning of who you want to be today. Make a list of your heroes and what draws you to them. Write anything just write. Write everyday until you get to the point where going a day without writing feels like going a day without air.

This is how you get to know who you really are. You are not processing your thoughts and feelings with anyone but yourself. You don’t need anyone else’s opinion or input on your life, you only need to be with yourself. Write.

Write and learn who you are. Write to find yourself. Write to learn your own truth. Write to be heard. Write to heal. Write to get it out.

Writing gives you time to be alone and quiet so you can hear your own inner wisdom about your life.

It does not matter how you start. Write on napkins. Write on whatever is next to you, as long as it is not living because that would be problematic. Just write.

If you do only one thing today I encourage you to write.

write1

Entitlement and the Illusion of Scarcity

One of my early morning epiphanies had to do with something that took place back in November. You can read the full back story on this event here. For the purposes of this post I will give a quick recap.

During group supervision one day.. Let me pause for a second because it just occurred to me most of my readers are not social workers. A quick side note for my non-social workers; supervision is when the entire social work/clinical team comes together to discuss cases, ethical concerns, and all other pressing matters at the agency and that impact our clients.

Okay so at the end of supervision when the clinical team was getting ready to leave our supervisor asked us to stay for a moment longer so she could get something off her chest. She then spent the next 10-15 minutes pretty much berating the team for not being fully committed to the work and our clients. She even went so far as to call some of us entitled. This lecture came without warning, there had been no issues that any of us were aware of at the agency that triggered this. It also came with no explanation or clarification. She made it clear that she was not talking to everyone but what does that matter?

The truth is she was talking to everyone. Literally. Everyone is here. You are talking to all of us. If this message is not meant for everyone then it seems pretty inappropriate that you are sharing it with everyone. If you need to have a private conversation with someone then by all means but right now, you are in fact talking to everyone.

There was a lot about this incident that bothered me. It felt incredibly passive-agressive first of all. If you have something to say then say it, to the person, directly. This whole talking in shadows to the entire group as a way to shame one person into submission did nothing but spew that negative shamey energy all over everyone.

Second was the use of the word entitled. Apparently that word bothers the shit out of me and I did not know this about myself until it was being thrown at all of us from left field.

I have been sitting with that word ever since to explore what exactly it is that bothers me. I have processed some of my feelings in prior posts but this morning I feel like I finally put my finger on it.

That day when my supervisor pulled the rug out from under us in the way she did, I believe she was operating from a place of scarcity. Scarcity has a direct connection to shame which is why we all felt covered in it after supervision that day.

The definition of scarcity is:

 noun: scarcity; plural noun: scarcities
  1. the state of being scarce or in short supply; shortage

It is the idea that there is not enough to go around. We all like Brene Brown here right? Right. What does Brene teach us about shame? Shame thrives on the feeling of not enough.

shame

 

Now lets look at the word entitled, what does that word even mean?

en·ti·tled
inˈtīdld,enˈtīdld/
adjective
adjective: entitled
  1. believing oneself to be inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment

So that day my supervisor told us a story based in the illusion of scarcity. And followed it with a shame chaser by calling us entitled. As a result here are the messages we received that day in supervision:

Scarcity: What you are doing is not enough.
Shame: You are not worthy/not good enough.
Entitled: You are asking for things you do not deserve.

Here is the thing about shame, there is only one way to balance it: with love. Loving all parts of yourself. Believing that you are worthy. That you are enough, what you have is enough, and what you give is enough.

That is why the word entitled bothered me so much and this whole incident was hurtful. This might be her own truth, but it is not mine.

The work will always be there. There will always be more to do. It will never get done. There is no finish line in social work or pretty much any profession, there is just wrapping up one thing and starting the next.

I give of myself every day while I am with my clients and I know that what I give is enough. That is my truth.

I do not ask for special privileges. I know my worth though and I honor myself the same way I honor my clients, by making myself a priority in my life. I deserve my time and attention as much as any other person in my life. That is my truth.

When you find yourself operating from a place of scarcity and shame I encourage you to look inward and listen. What is your truth in this moment? What voice needs to be heard?

I am grateful that I have been open to having an honest relationship with the parts of myself that have been struggling lately because in doing so they felt heard and as a result they quieted so I was able to hear something else, my truth.

scarcity

It’s All Here. It Always was.

answer

This morning I woke before the sun, 4:40 a.m. to be precise. Something woke me. A smell, a sound, a feeling.. I can’t be sure. I decided since I was partially awake I would go to the bathroom before drifting back off. As I got out of bed Lu decided this was a good idea as well. So, I escorted her outside, took care of myself, and then we both crawled back into bed to for a few more hours of snuggly sleep.

Sleep did not come though. Instead I was met with an explosion of ideas and personal truths. Yesterday I cleared some blocks and anxiety I have been experiencing related to my future, as a result I believe I created room for things that were bubbling underneath my surface that I could not hear over the deafening hum of my own fear and worry.

As I lay in bed I started jotting notes and ideas that were coming to me. Then whole paragraphs, then whole pages. Next thing I knew it was time to really write, this was more than just a middle of the night inspiration.

I am doing some if not most of this writing in my other writing space that is just for me because these are inspirations and ideas and personal truths related to my future both spiritually and professionally; and as I have mentioned before I am choosing for now to keep these things private. I may write a little more here later if I feel struck to do so. For now I just wanted to share something I already knew to be true but that the universe reminded me of this morning: All we need lies within us. What I am looking for, the answers I seek, they already exist within me. I just have to quiet my mind and my fear so I can listen to my own inner wisdom.

Hermit So Hard

ice-cream

I emailed my soul friend today because lately I have been in a place mentaly/emotionally where I am congratulating myself for managing to comb my hair at least once during teh course of the day.

I am in the land of zero fucks given and I needed someone to validate for me that I am not a failure as a human and that we all go through the I-just-want-to-stay-braless-in-my-pajamas-eating-ice-cream-on-the-couch-and-watching-bad-tv-for-a-month-and-not-see-another-human-except-for-my-husband-and-only-because-he-lives-here-not-because-I-actually-want-to phase.

I have been in and out of a funk most of this year so I was reluctant to get on here and write about it because I am sure you guys are sick of hearing about it. I don’t feel like I have had enough posts about gratitude and goodness to balance my mega-funk so I figured I would just not write for a little while until the ice cream works its healing magic.

Of course the decision to not write only amplifies my funk because writing is what I do.

So I have been walking around for days just wanting kick cans and make nasty faces at strangers for no reason other than I am mad I have to see them and I am not home on my couch. And I have been deliberating torturing myself by not allowing myself to write because clearly I am some kind of emotional masochist.

Really I was just trying to shelter you all from ALL OF THIS. Because it’s not pretty folks.

One thing I always struggle with when I am feeling particularly wretched like this is the tendency to compare myself and my feelings with the lives of others I see around me. I look at the outside shell of this person’s life or that person’s life and they are looking beautiful and having a great time and managing to dress themselves in clothes that are ironed and stainless. Meanwhile I am over here sitting in my t-shirt and underwear at 4pm because apparently putting on pants was just asking too much of me today.

So here are a few things I realized while on my latest feed-me-and-leave-me-alone-until-I-say-so funk:

  1. I need to be writing about this. This is real. This is not my highlight reel. I absolutely have my moments of zen and gratitude AND I have my moments where I am a shut in who doesn’t shower for an entire weekend. That is my truth.
  2. I am realizing that maybe other people’s highlight reels are not such a bad thing. What if we all just decided to be 100% about everything all the time? No Thank You! The world would be 100 times more overwhelming if everyone decided to just be super honest about how messed up life can be and how tired they are and that they hate their spouse’s cooking. The world is already a loud, scary, angry place sometimes – the high light reel (although only one piece of the whole picture) brings a balance to all that stuff. I will be a bit more thankful from now on that people I don’t know too well are not burdening me with all their honesty and instead are just letting me see fun pictures of their kids.
  3. When it comes to my/our tendency to compare our lives to the lives of others maybe we should try doing that another way that is less emotionally destructive. Although I am not in the mood to do a single thing other than eat, complain, and mindlessly stare at the television, I did manage to reach out to a few of my girlfriends and one of my soul friends over the last few days. When I compared what I am feeling right now to them they were super awesome about it. They not only did not make me feel like I was burdening them with my funk; they gave me some awesome funkiness from their own lives to compare it to that made me feel way less crazy. They were honest and they were the ones I needed honesty from. When I asked Is it just me? The answer I received was a resounding Hell No Man! To which I let out an enormous sigh of relief and said Oh thank God!

That last one is real important I think. If you take nothing else away from this post, take that. Because for me the comparing my life thing really drove me further into my hole of funk but the comparing my funk to the way my friends experience their funks thing is what pulled me out. One of my friends shared her funk story with me and told me how she wanted to Hermit So Hard – which I totally related to (clearly). Another friend commiserated over how much time is wasted doing chores and that adulting totally blows at times. Another friend is in a crisis that is a bit more serious and I cannot even compare my bad mood to it.

They were honest though and as a result we were able to really be with each other. So after all of this I decided I would write after all because maybe it will make someone else feel better to know that sometimes asking me to put on pants is just asking too much. Hopefully the next time you are in a funk you will remember this post and either feel better because you know other people feel this way or you can tell yourself Well at least I had my shit together enough to put on pants and take a shower today. Because honey sometimes you have to celebrate the little things. Life is exhausting, am I right?!

Soulful Art: Part I

We did not make a single plan this weekend and as a result we have both been happy as clams with our shells closed tight. We watched a movie together, donated some items to red cross, took Lu on an outing, and then retreated for introvert time.

Hubs hid out in the office more than likely do math, and I set myself up on the living room floor to paint.

Yesterday I worked on an art project for internship. I cofacilitate a group every week with an MHC intern from my university. Every other week we take turns leading and coming up with the topic/content for group. This week was my week, I did boundaries. Next week will be the MHC intern’s turn and then the following week will be mine again.

I know for my next opportunity to lead I want to do an art project with the group to help them process the topic I have chosen. I am going to build on what I have started with boundaries and discuss the metaphorical masks we all wear in order to feel safe and accepted by the outside world. We will literally be creating masks. One side will be adorned with our outside self and the other side will be decorated with our inside self.

In order to stick with my intention of not asking my client’s to do work I would not be willing to do myself, I created my mask yesterday. I wanted to see what parts felt difficult for me, and where/how I felt stuck while working on it so I will be able to help my clients if they struggle in a similar way. I find that I am able to lead a more authentic discussion and processing after if I have done this work myself because I will have better insight based on my own experience with it and may be able to offer a different perspective for them.

For example, a few things I recognized while creating my mask were:

  1. The stuff on the outside is not always fake. Often when we talk about the idea of masks we are often referring to fakeness, they are not being authentic because they are not letting me see behind the mask.. I definitely thought this. It is not that our outside mask is inauthentic to the point  of fakeness, it is just not the whole truth. It is a version of the truth, the version we are comfortable showing. Almost everything on the front of my mask is authentic for me, it is just not the whole story.
  2. The stuff on the inside is not necessarily bad. I think that is another misconception we make, at least I know I have. It is easy to assume a person is wearing a mask and maybe only showing their highlight reel because the stuff they do not want you to see is bad. What I realized when I being honest about what I allow to be seen on the outside and what I keep on the inside on my own mask is that while some of it is darker and I hide it inside because of stigma and shame and not wanting to feel judged, some of it is really special and beautiful but I have traditionally kept it on the inside because it means so much to me that I keep it just for me and don’t want to share it.
  3. There is so much more beneath the surface. On the outside of my mask I put exactly what felt right to me, I only put what spoke to me and told me they were meant for the outside. I did the outside first and when I was done it felt honest, Yep that looks accurate. Then I did the back/the inside. I realized there was so much I wanted to include that I really didn’t have enough room on the mask for everything to be seen. I chose to edit and try to make it as honest as possible understanding that I would not be including everything due to space limitations. Again, the outside felt honest too but it was only a small fraction of the whole picture. We all have so much bubbling under the surface that the outside world may never see, save for a few trusted people.

That last realization really struck me on a deeper level. It helped me truly understand what people say about how You never really know a person or You never know what a person is going through etc etc. I mean seriously. When we interact with people it is like we are seeing just one star in a dark sky so we think that is all there is when in truth there is an entire universe that is constantly expanding inside that person but because we can’t see it we would never know. Fuck right?! It’s wild when you really think about it.

So here is the mask I created. Excuse the poor picture quality, the inside image came out blurry and I decided I didn’t care enough to take another shot.

Addendum: It occurred to me after I had already published this post that maybe “I didn’t care enough to take another shot” is not the whole truth. Maybe my inside self did not actually want to be soon 100%. Maybe this is the real reason I didn’t take a second shot to clarify the image and maybe on some intuitive level, without being fully aware I was doing it, I took a quasi-blurry photo on purpose. There is a whole expanding universe bubbling beneath my surface, it is quite possible I don’t want you to see more than a few of my more noticeable stars. 😉