What was said; What I heard

I read something that had a pretty big impact on me at a pretty important time which has led to the inspiration for this post. I have not spoken to my mother in a week. This would not generally be note worthy but this time it is. The last time we spoke ended badly and the space I thought I needed to take care for myself expanded from a half hour to multiple days to now a week.

During this week my Dad showed up in his normal role in our family: peace maker/mother fixer. My Dad picks up the messes of others so everything can stay neat and tidy and we can all pretend there is no mess. Dad also takes care of Mom, Mom comes first. Always.

The space has been painful. I feel like a terrible daughter, I feel like I am the problem, I feel like I am breaking my mother’s heart, I feel guilt, I feel shame, I feel like I will be a terrible mother. I feel self-doubt. I worry that my actions are manipulative, I am constantly second guessing myself. I feel unstable, out of control.

As the space has gotten bigger so has my truth; I feel rejected. I feel used. I feel blamed like a scapegoat. I feel resentment. I feel more stable. I am starting to gain clarity. I am starting to truly understand how much bigger than me this is. I am learning how to care for myself since the focus is not constantly on caring for her. My heart is aching. I feel let down.

Yesterday or the day before, I honestly cannot remember now, I was reading a blog that I have been following for a long time. It is a blog similar to my own; personal, searching, honest. I appreciate the honest part most. I admire and appreciate people who are willing to say out loud that life is hard, families are hard, relationships are hard. I see enough posed photos with perfect smiles, sometimes I need the honesty of how devastating losing a pet can be. This blogger shows up in her truth.

So I was reading this post that true to form was painfully honest and I definitely identified with parts of it. My truth is different from hers but I saw myself, my childhood self, in some of her writing.

I wasn’t sure I had the courage to be so honest but right now seems like the time. The only way for things to be different is to do things differently. That means honesty and stepping out from the shadow of denial. Last week my mother and I broke another vase, metaphorically speaking, and despite all his efforts my father was not able to sweep these pieces under the rug like so many broken pieces before it. So now I am going to stand here in the mess I helped make and accept Alma’s invitation to be seen in my truth.

What was said and What I heard:

Calm down: You are acting crazy. You are crazy.
This isn’t going to work: You can’t do this. You made a mistake. You did this wrong.
Your mother is really upset: Your mother is really upset and it is your fault. You need to apologize to your mother. Please fix this for me. I am scared.
Your brother _____________: I love him more. Your accomplishments, life, words, ideas, problems, are less important than his.
Mother-daughter relationships are hard: This is what it is, get used to it. Stop trying to change things. Stop upsetting the apple cart.
What is most important is that we love each other: Do you still love us? Are we good parents? Please don’t leave us. Family comes before everything, including your emotional well-being.
*Silence*: Fuck you. You are the worst. I will not bend. You will give me what I want. Who do you think you are? You owe me this. You are not stronger than me. Don’t make me angry. How dare you. I do not love you.

What I needed to hear:

This started long before you.
This is not your fault.
I own my part.
Take all the time you need, I will be here.
I am ready to really work on this.
The truth, the real honest truth.

 

There are a lot of ANDs that exist in this space of pain but this time I am going to keep my ANDs to myself. I know what they are and that is what matters. I do not feel compelled to make this mess pretty to make myself or anyone else more comfortable. Not this time.

mom

The Girl and the Sea

Once there was a girl who had been holding on too tightly. This was a girl who had always been afraid of losing; losing what, she never quite knew. Her mind, her heart, her self, her future, her favorite doll.. There was just always this nagging feeling that the world was not safe and so she needed to hold on tightly to make it through.

What this girl did not understand is that not everything can be held so tight. Holding too tightly can  make what looks like love feel like suffication. Holding too tightly can leave you white knuckled and arthritic, a body cannot withstand the constant pressure to hold on so tight.

This went on for a long time and for all her efforts she still experienced devastating losses. She never loosened her grip on the things she cared about or needed to hold on to but it did not keep her safe from losing like she had hoped. Still the girl held on too tightly because she knew no other way.

One day the girl went to the ocean and was invited to step out into the crashing waves. With trepidation she followed the leader and felt overwhelmed by the power. She could not hold on out in the current, she had no control. She grasped at the sand on the ocean floor but it slipped from her fingers.  She reached out for her leader and together they were tossed by the incoming tide. She realized there was nothing else she could do so finally she let go.

For a moment she let go of everything she had been holding too tightly and watched as the ocean washed it away; in it’s place she opened her hand and found an acorn. The symbolism she did not understand at the time.

That day the girl learned that when she let go of the things she was holding too tightly her hands were then open to receive what she was truly meant to hold.

the girl and the sea

Counting Down to Soul Camp

shadow work1

I am about one week out from Soul Camp and I cannot wait. I am not going to lie to you, I am more excited about Soul Camp than I am about finishing internship or graduating. This is what I have been looking forward to most about the end of the semester. I swear it is coming at the perfect time too. I am finally done with college and here Soul Camp is to catch me. Gratitude for that for sure.

So I have mentioned that this time around soul camp is about shadow work. I have been doing shadow work since November so I arrogantly thought Oh this is going to be easy..

Then I got dropped kicked in the face by my truth. While the work I have been doing is important and for some might feel deep, for me it is completely surface level. It is part of my work but it is not my TRUE shadow work. My true shadow work is deeper and darker and I don’t even feel like saying more about it because my truth is I would rather just leave my blinders up and not do the work at all.

I’ll just stay up here and work on my relationship with entitlement ignoring what lies beneath..

I am not at all happy about this revelation I have had but I know that is where my real work is right now and I am going to try my best to show in my truth at Soul Camp. I did that last time and although it was AWFUL in the moment I think it brought a lot of the other women their work and gave them an invitation to be messy and awful as well.

I already know two things I can, and really need to do, in order to commit to doing this work while at soul camp. The very thought of it brings up deep feelings of grief for me.. I’ll keep processing it and see where I land.

I am really am so grateful for the timing of soul camp this time around, it is so right. I will be done with something huge and going into a major life transition so the extra support will be awesome. Plus I will be coming back to absolutely no commitments. I do not start my new job right away so I will have ample downtime to process whatever comes up while at soul camp. THAT is the real gift.

 

Spiritual Bypassing

spiritual bypassing

As I am getting to know my shadow piece around self-righteousness something that has come up for me is spiritual bypassing which is directly connected to this shadow aspect. Spiritual bypassing, in my mind, is when we (I) attempt to deny our shadow pieces exist (enter: self-righteousness). Spiritual bypassing is me wanting to stay in my “love the world, heal the world” space without acknowledging my “I want to burn this shit down” piece. What grounds me is remembering my AND. For me to be balanced it cannot just be peace, love, and happiness.. It has to be peace, love, and fuck this day I am taking a nap. or peace, love, and leave me the hell alone. or panic attack, accidentally break a plate, and curse in front of a child. Sometimes there is no peace and love to balance my darkness and my humanness.

I am not some enlightened spiritual being, that is not my  truth – as much as I wish it were. I am human. I am light, and dark, and gray. I am pixie dust, rose petals, and dirty words at inappropriate moments. I am painting, and empathy, and judging some guy for all that cheese he is eating. There has to be room for my light, my darkness, and my absolute humanness.

It is strange to think that something like our spirituality can actually have a shadow aspect, it can and it does. Everything is made up of both, that is the AND.

My truth is I am not without my judgements. I don’t know that I ever will be. That would be a pretty enlightened place but I am not sure I will ever get there truly, not during my human life at least. So rather than have judgement about my judgements I am trying to start by just acknowledging their existence. Once I am able to do that I try to get to know them a little better, like a new acquaintance; what can you tell me about yourself self-righteousness? You tend to pity people, okay, tell me more about that.

Judging my shadow parts does not make them go away, it really seems counter productive. I just have to be honest with myself and stop worrying about what everyone else will think. Ultimtaley this work is not about the world accepting my darkness, it is about me accepting me. Whose to say my darkness is any less special or beautiful than my  light? Me that is who. I am the only person I need to be listening to.

I am getting there. Slowly. But slow progress is still progress.

shadow

Honoring My Inner Child

One night I walked into the living room of the house I grew up in and announced to my mother that I knew what I wanted to do with my life. She turned off the TV, turned her body towards me.. I had her full-attention. I explained my business plan for the restaurant I was going to open where all the food would be free so no one would ever be hungry.

I was 10 years old, I was an idealist, and without knowing it I was taking my very first unconscious step in the direction of my future: social work.

When I think back about the girl I was (and still am in many ways) I know I have made her proud.

I know because I never got too old to pick flowers, and never too cynical to see my flowers as weeds. I know because I never gave up my dream of healing the world and never stopped believing I was capable of spreading love on that level. Proud because I took deliberate action towards creating that healing space in the world through my direction with social work. Proud because I went back and picked up all of my pieces and started my healing and vision of love with me, as it should be. I know because I feel the warmth of that little girls sunshine still beaming from my body.

I made that little girl proud. I did that.

May I walk through the rest of my days as certain in this truth as I am now. That little girl had a plan to heal the world, and I know I am making her proud.

magic

Quirks

I still only have the energy for surface level writing currently. I have my next post planned out and written in my head in relation to the shadow work I have been doing but I just do not have the energy to expend on it right now. I have to be in the right frame of mind for that kind of writing and right now I am spiritually and emotionally exhausted. No deep stuff.

Today was a self-care day, Mondays often are. Mondays are my day off this semester and I have been soaking them up because soon enough days off during the week will no longer be a thing.

Today I finished up an assignment that I did not enjoy writing so once it was over I allowed myself to relax. I researched fun stuff for future plans on the horizon. I watched a romantic movie that took place in Italy. I ate kiwi and strawberries and sipped coconut water. I worked on a craft project..

At one point I decided it was time to have my daily cookie and as I returned to my movie, chocolate cookie in hand, I laughed and wondered what people would think if they knew that in our home we ration cookies.

The reason for this truth is less funny, I previously struggled with disordered eating. I say previously but anyone who has struggled with any kind of eating disorder knows that it is an ongoing thing. Good days, bad days, on the wagon and back off again. What has helped me in this area is doing my best to let go of my judgement towards myself. My truth may not be everyone’s truth but for me personally it has been more about working on my relationship with myself and less about the relationship with food. When I am okay with me the rest of my life normally falls into place as well. When I am struggling, that struggle has a ripple effect.

So that particular quirk has a bit of a darker back story but not all my quirks do. To keep this post somewhat surface level I thought it would be fun to share some of my more surface level quirks to see if anyone else can relate.

  • I really hate showering in the morning. I love to shower at night. At night I am like a duck in water, I don’t want to get out, I could stay in the hot water with all my soothing soapy smells for hours. The morning is a different story, I am like a cat with water – frantic and furious. Furious is really the word to emphasize, I am straight up pissed off when I have to shower in the morning. For me it is not refreshing, it does not help me wake up. I am standing there, tired as hell, mad to be awake, and even more mad to be wet. It is awful.
  • I get my best sleep between 5am and 8am. Those three hours are like my power window. I sleep so hard the apocalypse couldn’t wake me. Hubs usually wakes me as he is leaving in the morning and I am able to start shaking the sleepies off but waking up before 8 is painful for me. I can do it but ugh I do not like it.
  • For someone who hates waking up and hates showering in the morning, the morning is surprisingly my favorite time of day. Once I have had about a half hour to get out of angry alligator mode and am feeling a bit more human I am a delight. I love the morning sun the best, I love the bird song and all the goings on that are happening in the world. I love the chill that is still hanging in the air. I actually love mornings, just on my terms.
  • I hate stepping on tile floor with wet feet from the shower. I will stand on the rug from the shower and scoot myself into the bedroom to get dressed if I have to. Anything to avoid wet feet on tile floor.
  • Sometimes I forget to swallow when  am drinking. I am in my head a lot, I am a true  blue dreamer with my head in the clouds and I forget about things like remembering to swallow so I don’t choke. As a result I sometimes choke on what I am drinking when suddenly I come back down to reality and realize there is liquid still in my mouth.
  • I am funny about walking between a tree and any object near to it for fear of encountering a spider web. If you watched me in the morning getting into my car, which is parked next to a tree near our driveway, you would probably wonder what was wrong with me. I flap my hands in front of me as I walk towards the driver side door in an attempt to knock down possible spider webs.
  • As much as I do not  like spiders I cannot kill them. My husband, who also hates spiders, has had to take on the role of spider hunter in our home. I cannot kill insects. I can trap and release but I cannot kill them.
  • Every few months I completely reorganize the books on my book shelf. Right now they are arranged by genre. A few months ago they were arranged by color, that was fun, my shelf looked like a rainbow. I have arranged them by author, by title, etc. I am a creature of constant change, I don’t like things to feel stagnant.
  • I don’t have good emotional boundaries with my dog. True story. If she is stressed I get stressed and visa versa. One time she twisted her foot wrong and she and I were reacting to each other’s energies to the point of panic. My husband separates us sometimes as a result. We’re sensitive creatures what can I say?

I don’t feel as connected to this surface level writing but it fulfills my need to write and keeps me in a comfortable place while I allow myself to come up for air.

 

 

 

Reclaiming Righteous

mask

It was as if a flood gate opened in me yesterday after I wrote about my intention to work on my relationship with my shadow pieces leading up to soul camp. Suddenly a million voices rose ti my surface ready to accept my invitation to be seen. The first in line, self-righteousness.

Apparently some of my shadows are very open to a relationship, it was just up to me to send the signal. So I spent the day with self-righteousness yesterday listening to my own inner wisdom and exploring my truth a little deeper.

I started my relationship with this piece here, where I explored my initial reactions to the word righteous. Towards the end of the post I spoke about reclaiming the word righteous, and I still have that intention; getting to know my own self-righteous piece has helped me understand there is more work to do before I am able to get to that point.

First things first, get out of victim mentality. I wrote that post with an outside perspective. “I am uncomfortable with this word because of others”. That is true, but it is a partial truth. A fuller truth is I am uncomfortable with this word because of my own sense of self-righteousness. I have to be able to see myself in all of this to fully embrace this shadow and reclaim this word.

Here is where I am going to start..

When I started this blog 5 years ago I was absolutely caught in a trap of dichotomous thinking patterns. I was judgemental of others while unwilling to process the source in myself where the judgement stemmed from. Therapy helped me with this, so did being in the two social work programs. I recognized something though while I was spending the day getting to know self-righteousness; while I may have moved away from black and white thinking and judgement into the gray area of AND there is still room for judgement to exist here in the form of self-righteousness.

This kind of judgement might even be more toxic actually than the judgements I was casting previously. I remember when I first started back in college I was making observations and judgements about all kinds of stuff, “these millennials and there addiction to their cell phones”, “her clothes are not professional”, “that professor isn’t qualified”. My professional piece is a pretty judgemental piece I admit. I really had to reign her in.

Now as I have been waking up to my higher spiritual self and my own truth I cast aside these judgements and have been much more open to different ways of doing things and allowing each person to be as they are rather than as I think they should be. At least I thought I was doing this.

Apparently my spiritual piece has some shadows as well; enter self-righteousness. I sat in front of a man the other day who was caught up in his own victim mentality and I judged him for it. That is my truth whether I want to see it or not. My thoughts were not “this guy is bad or wrong”, no my self-righteousness does not pass those kinds of judgements. My thoughts were “this poor man doesn’t even realize he has the power to change this”. My self-righteous piece passes judgement disguised as pity.

I look around and see a world full of people that have not woken up to this thing or that thing that I think they should be waking up to and I pity them. I pity them from my place up here on the top of the mountain of enlightenment. And while I just tried to say it is not a judgement of right vs. wrong or good vs. bad, that’s a lie. It totally is. I am up here and you are down there, and I am right and you are wrong.

This is why people do not like to do shadow work. It is not fun to be this honest with yourself. We like to let our happy flag fly, and our freak flag fly, and our I’m-a-great-mom flag fly.. However, we certainly don’t want anyone to see our judgement flag, or our manipulation flag, or our I’m-over-here-being-a-jerk flag.

Well that is the flag I am flying right now. I’m over here being a jerk.

My truth belongs to me. It makes me feel good and centered and connected. The things that makes me feel this way may feel like utter torture to others. I do not need tolook at others and pity them or judge them in order to feel sound in my truth. If the words I am speaking are truly my truth they should make me feel this way on their own.

Old habits die hard. I thought I was shedding judgement and instead I was just dressing it in new clothes.

I am grateful that my own self-righteous shadow piece rose to the surface and accepted my invitation to build a healthier relationship. I will definitely being working with this piece while at soul camp. I am curious to see what a little unconditional self-love will do for my self-righteous/judgement pieces.