Meeting The Child Within

ed886ab376896d9b864d9f297022df17I enter into a small, badly-lit room. It’s warm there, cosy, almost oppressingly so. The fireplace is burning, there is steaming tea on the table and the shutters are down, even though it’s a beautiful day outside. A small child is sitting on a comfortable chair, reading. She hasn’t noticed my presence yet. It seems as if she has been sitting there forever, reading near the fireplace, minding her own business, sipping tea. There is a stack of books near her, a closet with her clothes and forgotten toys just behind, a door leading to a small bathroom on her right. Now I suddenly know for sure that she never leaves this room, that she is petrified of going outside. She has given up on life outside of these four walls. She hasn’t talked to anyone in years. Her parents are near, I can sense it, hovering like a threatening presence. I can sense the tension in her muscles because of it. She can never fully relax. She has to keep them outside.

A stab of compassion makes my heart contract and I go stand in front of her, willing her to notice me and to bask in my full attention. That’s what the books on meditation say. I have to give her my full attention so she will bloom and heal.
She puts her book down and looks at me, squinting her eyes.
‘Go away.’
I start at her harsh, hostile tone. Doesn’t she know that I’m here to help?
‘But-’
‘Go away, you’re creeping me out. I know your type, looking at me, seizing me up, searching for my faults so you can mock and criticise me. I can’t stand it! GO AWAY!’ Her voice turns into a roar, her face contracting with pain, her eyes blazing with wild hatred.
I take a step back, not knowing what to do. Why isn’t she grateful that I’m here, giving her the love and care she so desperately needed as a child? Why does she push me away?
I instinctively know that if I try to approach and disregard her wishes, she will attack me. She will kick and scream and throw burning wood in my face.
As my annoyance increases at this unruly child, it hits me that I have turned into my mother. I have turned into a high and mighty adult demanding affection from a helpless child. I have taken society’s expectations with me in this room and have decided what’s best for her without listening to her story, to why she’s here in this room in the first place. This was never going to work.
So I sit down on a chair in a far corner, asking her if this is ok. I can tell she’s uncomfortable.
‘I don’t know. What are you doing here? What do you want?’
‘I want to be your friend and help you.’
‘I don’t need any help. I’m fine. Please stop looking at me.’
I look down and say nothing. I have to respect her wishes, but I’m not giving up on this precious little child.
‘I’ll be here if you need me. You don’t need to change or do anything differently.’
‘I know I don’t need to change! And I’m fine!’
‘I’m not giving up on you.’
‘We’ll see about that. You have abandoned me plenty of times in the past. Why should I trust you now?’
‘Because I’m trying. And I’m sorry for all the times I hurt you. You deserve better. You deserve to be happy and free and comfortable exploring the world. But nobody has taught you how to do all those things. It’s not your fault.’
She stares at me for a second and picks up her book again.
‘Close the door behind you when you leave.’

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You deserve respect and consideration from everyone

It doesn’t matter if the person in question is a stranger or your spouse. It doesn’t matter how that person feels about you or what your relationship is. It doesn’t matter that you are on a first date and the person opposite you doesn’t know you or love you yet. Love is not a requisite for respect and consideration.

If someone is rude to you or completely disregards your needs, wishes or dignity, it’s not about you. It’s about who they are. You didn’t ‘invite’ this person to treat you badly. Everyone knows that they should be considerate towards others, some just choose not to and to test how much they can get away with. If someone takes advantage of your kindness and generosity, see it for what it really is: their bad character.

Someone who treats you without respect will not improve on acquaintance or suddenly realise that they should in fact pay attention to your needs because you are such a lovely person. And if they do, how would the remembrance of how they treat strangers affect you? Why is only someone who is invested in them or who can mean something to them worthy of consideration and good behaviour from their part? Being considerate and respectful is the norm, not some reward you hand out to people who please you in some way.

Pay attention to how you are feeling after you’ve spend time with someone. Don’t try to rationalise it. There is no excuse for treating you poorly, for not showing you the respect that you would show them. End of story. Sometimes (or perhaps oftentimes) we need to keep it really simple. Your life is too short to worry about how others feel about you. It doesn’t matter that much. You are safe. You are your own person. You can survive without other people’s approval. Have your standards, make sure you treat others with respect and consideration, stay close to yourself and how you are feeling and keep your distance from people who honestly just make you feel bad. You don’t need to impress them. You already are wonderful, smart, funny, intelligent and a blessing to be around. If they can’t see that, then it’s their loss. Please stop blaming and criticising yourself. It’s ok to stop trying to get them to like you. You don’t need them in your life. You don’t have to prove to them that you are in fact worthy of kindness, of attention, of love, of care. Of course you are. Wait for the ones who will know your worth all by themselves, without you needing to prove anything. They exist, trust me.

 

Don’t You DARE Turn Me Into Something Acceptable

My anger is not the enemy. It is an ally, shaking me awake when I’m wrapped up in politically correct thoughts, when I gasp and shake my head when I write something bad about others in my journal. ‘Oh my God, how selfish I am. I cannot expect others to cater to my needs. I’m just going to detach until this rant is over and I can go back to my sane self.

wild woman

Well, NO. My anger is not going to let me go back to being sane. She keeps tugging at the chains of my prison, my low self-esteem.
I want you to buy a notebook and keep me with you everywhere so you can hear me. Stop trying to be some bloody saint. You are human with human needs and there is nothing wrong with that. Guess what, if others don’t take care of you by being friendly and being considerate of your needs they have NO PLACE in your life!!! You don’t have to mold yourself into something acceptable or hold yourself back. If I am angry it’s because I don’t feel respected and there is NOTHING shameful about that. Don’t you DARE turn me into something acceptable to please others. I will NEVER be conquered by any convention or politically correct behaviour.

Looks like I have some Kali energy in me that needs exploring. 🙂 She also gave me some ideas on how to best employ my creativity and I can’t wait to get started on that. No matter how pissed off and seemingly self-centered she gets sometimes, I know that she is not the enemy. She’s an ancient force that pierces through any limitations that I place upon myself in order to fit in and keep myself small. It’s a comfort to know she’s looking out for me, making me look at the truth of things when I’m too busy being nice.

Wild woman 3

Meditation Reflection #1

Realisations during meditation
I hurt myself with my thoughts. It’s important to take a step back and to sit with myself in silence to feel that pain and to witness it happen, so I can better understand how my brain works. It’s important to take some distance from my thoughts and to feel the bodily sensations beneath them. It’s important to feel how my thoughts are affecting my emotional and physical well-being and how they are creating anxiety. Where do I give power away to others, leaving me feeling frustrated and helpless? Where do my thoughts block me from moving forwards and following my heart’s desires? Where am I sabotaging myself? Can I observe my thoughts without getting carried away? Can I come to a point of stillness where I am grounded in the truth of who I am?
When I take a step back I create a space for freedom from drama and therefore a window for change. That is the purpose of meditation for me. That’s why it’s necessary to take out those 30 minutes a day. I journal to hear my thoughts, I meditate to remember I am the ocean instead of the waves.

meditation

How To Feel Our Feelings Instead of Stuffing Them

Eye-opening wisdom from Lisa A. Romano 🙂

For those of us from dysfunctional homes–the act of feeling our true feelings is often foreign. Because we have been brainwashed to worry more about what others think about us, than what we think about ourselves–we worry more about others feelings–for us–than we do about our feelings for them. We are stuck-do not understand why.

Very often the only emotions we CAN identify are negative–like rage–frustration–angst–fear–and disappointment.

There is a way out..it is a process…it does not happen over night…but if you never give up–you can learn to reprogram your mind.

You Deserve Love and Respect Part I

I see so many relationships (platonic and romantic) that are riddled with abuse, fear, anger, projection, co-dependence etc. I’m not immune to it either. I know how it feels to want someone and to feel so out of control that you forget about your own boundaries. I know how it feels to have a friend (especially when I was younger) who backstabs you, pretends you are their best friend one day and a mere burden the next and who spills all your secrets. Most of us need to go through hurt like that to wisen up and to truly understand that we can’t be happy if we’re not looking out for ourselves as well.

But because I believe that relationships often reflect what we learned to expect of love and people who are supposed to care about us when we were small and helpless, those patterns can be hard to break and see through. In fact, we seek out those people that remind us of our caretakers and how they treated us, because it feels familiar and because we might believe that this time, we will make them love us and we will prove to ourselves that we are worthy of love. It might feel so exasperating when this happens time and time again while we thought we knew better. We might feel that love is not exciting or real without pain and without chasing the other person, convincing them of our worth. This can run very deep and it’s not sufficient to use some positive affirmations to hide the wound. We need to see the wound and tend to it. We need to be brave and I believe we are all so much braver than we think.

First, I think it’s important to cultivate infinite compassion and patience with ourselves. There is a child in you that feels hurt, distrustful and abandoned. We need to get to know him/her, to return to that child on a regular basis with love and attention. There is so much healing and treasure there if we just allow that inner child to speak and express herself fully. Your core starts to feel more secure and starts to feel heard. This is so important and precious if you grew up in an environment where nobody paid attention to your feelings or gave them any importance. It will lead you to make decisions with that treasured child in mind and how it will affect him/her. Obviously, spending time with people who put you down and exhaust you is not going to nurture him/her.
This is a process. It will not happen overnight. I’m struggling with it on a daily basis, but it’s important to keep going and that even if you’ve been away for a long time, to return to your younger self, no matter what. Be prepared to face intense, painful emotions but also to receive infinite wisdom, creativity, clarity and love for yourself.

Next time I will elaborate some more on what you can do to be present with yourself with love and attention and to let go of patterns that are harming you. But not matter what I say, you are already whole and there is nothing outside of you that can give you more healing than your own self.

Living in Co-Dependency

If I am attracted to you, you can have it all. I will adapt my life to you, to your wants and needs, your preferences, perceived and real. I will do this until I forget who I am. I will stop myself from chasing my dreams if even the notion that you won’t like them enters my thoughts, and I will declare them impossible. Willingly, I will build a prison and hand you the key. Even if you don’t lock me up, if you encourage me to come out, I will stubbornly remain where I am. For I am afraid. Afraid to live, to try, to get hurt and rejected. I am petrified to open my heart, stabbed as it been on so many occasions in its most vulnerable moments. I need you as a justification for the inertia that is my life.

My feelings are an inconvenience. They might stir up trouble, force me to face reality and to confront others with their behaviour. I don’t feel strong enough, I feel like I could never face all of that. So I pretend to listen to them, all the while keeping them firmly in place. Ridiculing them. Don’t be such a baby. We have more important work to do. Seriously, stop bothering me.

I don’t necessarily even like you. If I’m attracted to you, chances are you’re not really seeing me anyway. That would be way too scary. You’re seeing an image and it’s my job to live up to that. You’re seeing a life-boat, something that will keep you afloat and save you from having to deal with your own mess. If I’m attracted to you and you don’t want to get to know me, then I will hate you and resent you with all my heart. You are blocking me, don’t you know? Why won’t you let me at least try to please you? Why are you being such a jerk? Ah! That pain has been haunting me for years, walking around with a closed and hardened heart, choosing you deliberately, because I know you won’t take the trouble of piercing through my shield. You won’t prove me wrong. You will confirm that I am unlovable and that I don’t deserve to take risks. Pfew!

And so the dance continues, while I berate myself for all my stumbling. Why aren’t you over this yet? You’re so needy. No wonder others see you as a burden. You better shrink, before they see you, before they notice. Ashamed, I hide. I withdraw. I take too much time. Always those same mistakes. I don’t deserve love or belonging.

I scramble for patience and hope for the best, but that requires truly seeing what’s going on. Realising fully that it’s going to take time, dedication and work. It’s going to require putting myself first, truly and without apology. It’s going to be a heavy climb against every principle that I was ever taught, that has infiltrated my core. Being blind and thinking ‘it’s not that bad, I can do it alone,’ is not going to cut it.

“The breezes at dawn have secrets to tell you
Don’t go back to sleep!
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep!
People are going back and forth
across the doorsill where the two worlds touch,
The door is round and open
Don’t go back to sleep!”

– Rumi

On Resilience

I was thinking today about what truly makes me happy in life. As any other human being I’ve longed strongly for certain things in life, whether it’s relationships, material possessions, good grades, wanting my day to go a certain way, wanting certain people to like me, etc. I’ve also experienced the bitter sting of disappointment when my wishes were thwarted. In fact I used to be convinced, especially during my teenage years, that the universe took delight in vexing me, making me feel excited about something and then abruptly and cruelly taking it away. I felt like a dog chasing its own tail. You have to forgive me for my rather ironic sense of self-importance (why would the universe, grand and infinite as it is, take such an (albeit negative) interest in me?), but the bottom line is that I felt deeply flawed and that I could only see reality through that lens.

Feeling like an outcast, loathed by other people and the universe alike, I one day came to the sudden realisation that I could still take care of myself, even if nothing went my way on the outside. That’s when I started to develop resilience. I don’t remember when exactly I started to think that way or how it happened. I think something stirred in me when I was in the middle of an abusive relationship, feeling completely stripped bare of all dignity. I think that’s when my spirit, hidden and buried by years of shame and trying to adapt myself to other people’s liking, started to awake and take notice of the mess I made. I started hugging myself and muttering ‘I love you’ when I looked in the mirror and felt the same old insecurity and hate. I started to resist the notion that everything was my fault and that I was just a burden to everyone else. When I finally went into therapy in an effort to break loose from that relationship, my therapist showed surprise at that side of me that had my back so tirelessly, that island in my vast sea of self-hate where I could find shelter. I’m convinced this spirit of resurrection exist in everyone.

The first time I realised this might be an innate aspect of the psyche is when I read Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I was pleasantly surprised when I read about how she reached out to herself in her darkest moments and found comfort there. When she felt engulfed by depression and loneliness, she would take out her notebook and write ‘I need your help’. A loving presence would stir inside of her and write back, allowing her to exhale and relax in its tender embrace. I recognised this presence at once, because I also made use of written dialogue to evoke and make contact with it. So if she has it and I have it, it must be a power that transcends individual personality.

The truth is, I probably owe my life to this part of me that refuses to bow down and give up.
Do you relate to this experience? How has resilience showed up in your life?

Affirmation: my feelings

Word of caution: all your feelings are deserving of gentleness and friendship, but it does not mean that they always represent reality. Don’t be discouraged if you hear a feeling tell you “I hate you, you suck”. It points to something deeper, worthy of your time and attention, but it does not represent reality. It’s a defense mechanism, trying to keep you safe in the best way it knows how. That does not mean that you can’t come to the realisation that you are no longer in danger, and therefore can gently let go of its skewed protection.
Having said that, enjoy the affirmation and may it bring you to a deeper knowing and acceptance of yourself. ❤

Why I chose to start using affirmations again

I’ve recently started using positive affirmations again after a period of feeling slightly allergic to everything related to false, pushy positivity. I usually follow what feels right for me, and in hindsight I think this turn in my journey was about restoring balance. I believe in radical self-honesty as a part of loving yourself, and in the process I’ve discovered (and I’m still discovering) all these parts to me that I didn’t know existed before. It also lead me to believe that who we are is not entirely under our control or even known to us. It’s like we are bigger and infinitely more vast than the personality with which we conduct our daily business. Sometimes I even feel like a vessel, a guest house for all these unknown, unplanned emotions and sensations that come and go. I think what I used to do sometimes was focus on my positive, joyful guests, give them attention and nourishment. I’d reluctlantly open the door for a shabby, less sparkly guest, lead him to the basement and lock him up while he wasn’t looking. Little did I know that my basement has alternative pathways that lead to the main hall and even to my most precious, carefully cultivated garden, where I allow very few guests to enter. When such a deceived and angry guest would burst in, it would be with a hostile attitude, enraged by my attempt to silence her and triumphantly knocking things over and kicking young, vulnerable flowers to get me to notice her escape.

So what I have tried to do, instead of hurrying such a guest out of view, is take him to a cosy, candle-lit room, hand him a cup of tea and let him tell me his story. I listen with compassion, but don’t take his words as truth. I reassure him that there is a place for him in this imperfect, noisy, sometimes messy house, that he, too, belongs here and is welcome to stay. I feel his reluctance at trusting me, his sneering and scoffing to protect himself from being betrayed again, but somehow I feel that deep within him, a small light has been kindled, a light that marks the first seed of careful hope. I will meet this painful feeling again along the way, I am sure, but I also know that as long as I welcome her and make space for her, she will not turn destructive. 

Now I feel that the time has come to restore the balance yet again, and nourish myself with loving words. I have not given up on myself. I’m a mother who listens and understands, but also encourages the orphaned child, the cold, self-protective woman and the many other guests who stay in my house to believe that there is a way forward, that we can create something good and wholesome together. 
Too much of something is never good. I don’t want to bypass my pain, but I don’t want to drown in it either. There is a way forward, a way of balance. I’m not going to kick myself if I think negatively sometimes, instead I’m going to give myself a gentle hug and murmur “I understand. I feel you, you are welcome here.”