How Can You Heal When You Haven’t Learned to F.L.Y.?

I just read this clever acronym.  FLY – First Love Yourself and that’s I think the main ingredient in healing from whatever you’re experiencing.  I thought I loved me, but lately it’s been a challenge.  Because that authoritative voice inside of my head tells me otherwise.   That I don’t measure up.  That I’m not worthy.  That I need to surpass any obstacle so that I can’t be blamed for whatever.  It’s an awful burden to shoulder alone.

But I don’t think I’m alone in this situation.  Sure, my situation may be different from yours, with different triggers or a different bossy voice, but the feeling of being ‘not enough’ may be the same.  And that’s where our power is to heal by processing and healing the feeling that comes when we hear those criticisms that may or may not be truth.

We need to process those childhood beliefs that were handed over like parental rights and laws that were to be followed.  Because when we unearth the laws that we thought were true, we may find them a bunch of hooey and be able to release them from our subconscious.

Examples:  Don’t make a mistake.  Be prepared at all times.  Love is conditional and can be taken away or given at any moment depending on the views of the person who is in charge and how the view how you are behaving.  You either merit the love at the moment or you do not.  Merit the love requires that you “do as I say, not as I do” which means the rules only apply to you and not to the one in charge even if the rules are not valid.  You don’t have a say in any matter because the one in charge is boss.  Boundaries are non-existent and you may not have any nor may you complain when the boss has crossed them because they can and you cannot.  You are trained to be a people pleaser and if you do not please us then you will be punished.  You do not fail.  Under any circumstances, failure is not an option.

Examples:  You may be the wife, but I am the boss.  You have your duties even though your duties are not equal to mine.  All household chores are yours because that’s the rule.  You won’t ever live up to my mother in anything, but keep trying to please me.  We will pretend that all is well even when you question it because that is the only way it will be.  There will be no questioning me, but I can question you.  I can make fun of you and laugh as you try to defend yourself, but it won’t change what I say or do.  I know best.  You do not.  Criticism and put downs to make you a better wife, mother, whatever is my way of helping you to be better.  Do not try to do it to me because I am perfect and my family will support me.

Etc., etc. etc.  I’m sure you can add more to the lists above and please do if you want in the comments below.

So how do we fix a lifetime of this?  I suggest a therapist or a trusted friend with the compassionate ability to love you as you process the emotions and circumstances and memories that come rushing forward.  Secondly, a journal in which to write when there’s not a listener with a kind heart.  Third, separation from those who trigger you when you can.  Fourth, a self-hug and some mirror work from Louise Hay by repeating – I love and approve of myself – in a mirror while looking into your own eyes multiple times a day to begin the mindset change.

Deep breath.  We can do this.

 

 

 

Posted in divorce, finding happiness at 50, love | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Is It A Story Or Is It The Truth?

Sometimes I think it’s hard to define truth from the story that we’ve chosen to think.  It reminds me of Byron Katie and her four questions.

  1. Is it true?
  2. Can you absolutely know it’s true?
  3. How do you react – what happens – when you believe that thought?
  4. Who would you be without the thought?

How about completing that exercise when you’re mad as hell that your life isn’t what you isn’t what you want?  When you do answer the questions with honesty, you may be surprised at the answers or at that prickly feeling you have when you’re not really getting down to the nitty gritty truth of it.  And from someone who’s done that exercise, the nitty gritty truth isn’t always something you want to hear or see or face.

But that’s where the healing comes in even though it can be messy.  Messy as in full of emotion, full of pain, but with the promise of healing because you’re letting it all out.

All the emotions that you’ve stuffed down deep inside so as to be able to keep going.  Keep being the responsible adult that you have to be.  Keep the family together.  Keep paying the bills.  Keep the peace.  Keep the kids intact.  Keep that dream of a better life alive.  But somewhere along that path, you dropped you because the responsibility of everyone else was overwhelming.  You thought you’d get back to you at some point, but it’s been a long journey.

Now’s the time during this stay at home time to take small steps.  We are #alonetogether.  Let me know how this exercise goes for you and if you find anything surprising.

Below are more details to help you.  Good luck.  I’m here to help.

Question 1: Is it true?
This question can change your life. Be still and ask yourself if the thought you wrote down is true.

Question 2: Can you absolutely know it’s true?
This is another opportunity to open your mind and to go deeper into the unknown, to find the answers that live beneath what we think we know.

Question 3: How do you react—what happens—when you believe that thought?
With this question, you begin to notice internal cause and effect. You can see that when you believe the thought, there is a disturbance that can range from mild discomfort to fear or panic. What do you feel? How do you treat the person (or the situation) you’ve written about, how do you treat yourself, when you believe that thought? Make a list, and be specific.

Question 4: Who would you be without the thought?
Imagine yourself in the presence of that person (or in that situation), without believing the thought. How would your life be different if you didn’t have the ability to even think the stressful thought? How would you feel? Which do you prefer—life with or without the thought? Which feels kinder, more peaceful?

Turn the thought around:
The “turnaround” gives you an opportunity to experience the opposite of what you believe. Once you have found one or more turnarounds to your original statement, you are invited to find at least three specific, genuine examples of how each turnaround is true in your life.

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See Yourself

The time you spend trying to be good enough in someone else’s eyes:  you don’t get that back, and no one else can measure your worth other than you.  So stop wasting time trying to prove yourself to anyone who is committed to not seeing you for who you are.  Open you eyes.  See yourself.  Please.  See yourself.

Quote by:  Stephanie Bennett-Henry

I found this quote the other day and it spoke to me.  Because I had only seen myself as less than through the eyes of those who chose to put me down AND whom I allowed to put me down.  Worse than that, I believed them.

Until now…and as my thoughts are unfolding and there’s no place to hide because we’re all home bound, there’s a struggle within me.  Often I viewed what happened to me as a downfall of my unworthiness in my ex’s eyes.  Later in hindsight, I found his choice to leave as freedom from the ties that bound me.  But still, as a castaway in my own life, I didn’t know how to swim and to stay afloat without panicking.  So I seesawed my way through those tender years after he left – depression, anger (towards him and sometimes towards myself), apathy, numbness, seeking answers in spirituality, researching, trying  to forgive, beating myself up, putting the ex down, and all sorts of twists and turns until I thought I had found my center.

Observer-mode of looking at the big picture, writing down the pros and cons and choosing (and I mean CHOOSING) to go onward with my life because sitting in the proverbial stagnant seesawing wasn’t getting me healed.  And that takes courage to choose to not stay in that place and allow the pain to swarm us everyday.  And it’s hard.  It takes a village of friends who have helped immensely with their wisdom from their own experiences.  But it also takes me laying my life and self bare to see myself.  To see me for who I am.

See yourself for who you are – all the goodness and all the maybe not so good.  Be honest with your good parts and your flaws, but don’t exaggerate them.  This is not about your ego.  It’s about truth.  It’s about authenticity.  It’s about being all of you in your special form.

List the attributes and accept the pros and cons of each.  Get the whole picture of you and find your comfort in accepting you for who you are.  Because that’s where you start when there’s confusion.  Center yourself.  Ground yourself.

This is the time to do it while we’re all home.  And when it feels like it’s too much, write to me.  I’m here for you on this path too.  Sharing is helping each other to grow.  Don’t you think?

 

 

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You Held Me Down…And I Let It Happen

I had this epiphany recently that I allowed so many people in my life hold me down because they wanted me to be a certain way.  It started in childhood.  I was to be perfect all the time.  Perfect in behavior, in mannerisms, in grades.  There wasn’t a choice to not strive for perfection ever.  It wasn’t allowed.  And if I didn’t comply, if I weren’t perfect, there were punishments.  Talk about conditional love?  I was trained with it.  I knew how to rebel in quiet moments and to squeak by to avoid the hellish nightmare that was surely to follow if they’d found out.  Lucky for me, I rebelled few times with few consequences because the punishment was never nice.

I married the man I did (in retrospect) because he was familiar.  What I didn’t realize at the time was the familiarity I had was with conditional love and narcissism.  His family welcomed me and I realized too late that I had walked into a web of destruction for me.  But I soldiered on because I was taught at a young age that you kept going.  You weren’t allowed to quit and you had to always strive for perfection because anything less wasn’t tolerated.

Does this sound familiar to you?

So when my kid recently touched one of the wounds I thought I had healed (but obviously hadn’t), it hurt to my core.  And then I got angry.  Angry with myself.  Angry with him (although to be fair, he’d been on the phone with my ex (his dad)) and it was his dad’s remnants of behavior that touched that raw nerve that I mistakenly thought I had healed.

So I sat there in wonder.  I had to go outside to my safe place and think in the sunshine.  I had to figure out why I was so hurt and why what my son had said had bothered me so much.  Part of it was guilt because I could see what he was thinking was partially right.  Part of what he told me about myself didn’t matter because he was being superficial and I knew it was coming from my ex and his messed up family.  But it hurt.  And even when I tried to couch the subject with my kid so as to clear the air, he didn’t get it.  And how could he?  It’s my issue and not his.  I am still harboring hurts of a lifetime that just blew wide open.

My guts spilled and the tears followed.  And the horror of the fact that I have been held down for so long came spilling out.  And the guilt of allowing it, followed with disaster.  Because I thought I had healed those wounds.  I thought that I had moved past the superficial hurts that almost bled me dry.  But they’re coming up again with a vengeance to be seen, to be felt and to be noticed once and for all.  Out in the open without a shadow of a doubt to be dealt with and released.

Because while innately I knew who I was, I became a chameleon in order to people please those from whom I thought I needed love.  Tell me to jump 2 feet high and I would find a way.  Raise the bar even higher and I would train like an Olympic athlete to conquer whatever you gave me so that I could keep your love.  Desperate to be loved, I surpassed all odds.

But I lost me which is why I began this blog.  And I thought I had it all together until recently.  I thought that I had healed the past hurts and the childhood traumas.  I thought that I was aware of how much I’d grown and I was at peace.  But there was more to come.  More hurdles to heal.  More centering down into the innately authentically Janie to accept.  To be ok when one gets the soul crushing wounds again from her child and to not defend herself from the tsunami of emotions that arrive shortly thereafter.

I wasn’t prepared.  But I thought I was.  And while his truth is NOT mine, I will stand in my truth.  No more begging forgiveness for what I’ve not done to make or to try to keep the peace.  It’s not my place.  No more defending myself, nor walking on eggshells in my own house even if they are my children.  I feel like I’m making a bigger deal out of it than needs to be in my kids’ eyes, but it’s real to me.

And I can’t and I won’t go back to how I lived for over 50 years.

God willing.

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Homebound and Loving It

I haven’t left the property for five days so far.  I get out each day to take a walk on my deserted street and around my yard to get out when the sun is shining and it’s not raining.  Nightly I sit out on the porch and watch the stars while I talk with friends because many times we are talking about subjects I’d prefer my kids not listen in on.

It seems that a lot of people are having difficulty being ‘shut in’ at this time so I found that calling them to just chat about life and catch up is helping them and helping me.  I have a few friends who reached out with whom I hadn’t spoken in years (we just drifted apart) and they’re going through hard times with their spouses and one is even divorcing.  That’s why I don’t want my kids eavesdropping because it’s none of their business.

I haven’t been taking apart closets (yet) nor shredding the massive amounts of mail that piled up, but I’m sure that will come in time.  So far, I’ve not been bored.  I’ve been cooking various different meals and enjoying it.  I can’t say the kids are enjoying it though because I’ve gone out of their palates (and honestly I had 2 not so great meals) in my striving to cook without the box (lol) but again, it’s fine.  There’s plenty for them to forage on when the meal I’m offering isn’t what they want.

And yes, I think I should be teaching them to cook but there’s been some crankiness here with them having to be home.  So while I’m not walking on eggshells, I’m not poking the bear either! LOL  We never did play the board games the other day.  Instead we’ve been watching some movies:  The Help, Green Book and The Upside.  Have you seen any of them?  I thought they were really good and we had some good conversations during/after the movies.

So what are you doing now that we’re pretty much housebound?

Is your home sparkling clean?

Do you have boxes of items you are sending to donations or selling?

Have you been reorganizing or redecorating?

Are you bored?

Have you read any good books?

Watched any good shows?

Tell me all about it!

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Divorced Mom Gratitude During Coronavirus

I am divorced for a couple of years now and I have primary custody of my kids for which I’m grateful.  While I never wanted the divorce, I appreciate all the good that has come out of it even though when I was in the midst of the heartbreak, I couldn’t see it.  Time heals all wounds they say.  I guess enough time has passed because I’m thankful for what I’ve learned about myself.

I awoke this morning thinking about how hard it must be for my kids’ Dad (my ex) since he’s far away.  Even though we are exes, my compassionate nature for what good we had when the relationship was good still remains intact.  I’ve reminded the kids that they can face-time their Dad who lives in another state, but unfortunately, he doesn’t always answer.  In fact, he’s really non-communicative so I think it’s sad that he’s choosing to miss out on our sons.  But there’s nothing I can do about it.  I just know I’d be calling them everyday if they weren’t living with me.  But then that’s me.  And he’s him.  And that was only the tip of the iceberg of why we broke up.

I remember the first morning years ago after my ex left our home.  I woke up, got the kids off to school (they were younger) and poured myself a cup of coffee.  I sat down on the sofa and the strangest thing happened to me!  I felt like a huge weight had been lifted from the house and from me.  I could breathe!  Breathe freely in my own space!  It was a mind-blowing moment for me because I hadn’t realized how the weight of his telling me, “I don’t want to do this anymore” had suppressed me.

And so, during this stay home quarantine time of the Coronavirus, I’m grateful that I am not cooped up with an angry, non-communicative man.  There’s been a lot of self-introspection to get to where I am and having to embrace life’s changes, but what’s come out of it has been a blessing!

I can’t imagine the domestic situations where the couple isn’t getting along especially nowadays.  I actually pray for those who are having difficulties during this time because for the few months that he stayed in our home after he told me he was leaving were brutal for me.  They were so very hard.  But no more…

For those who are divorced and you can’t see your kids because they don’t live with you or the swapping has ceased because of the restrictions, you are in my thoughts.  Stay in touch with your kids please.  They need you and you need them.  Who knows how long the restrictions will go on for or what else is in store for any of us, but please stay in touch.  I know that my kids are older, but they miss their Dad and they are very sad when he doesn’t answer or communicate with them.  Because they love him and they need him in their lives.  It’s just too bad that he doesn’t meet them even halfway because their efforts are decreasing.  His silence speaks volumes to them in sad ways.

And before you ask, he’s not working nor is he depressed so there’s nothing to keep him from talking with them.  This is not something new by the way.  It’s been like this for years.  It’s just getting to that point where the kids are tired of feeling this way and they’re pulling away from him little by little even though they want a relationship with him.  And yes, they’ve talked with him about it.  They’ve told his family as well, but it doesn’t seem to make any difference.

If you share custody of your kids with your ex, please make it as easy as possible for the kids’ sake.  And if you can’t see them because of the restrictions, stay in touch with them.  They worry about you.  They need you in their lives.  That’s what mine say about their Dad so I thought I’d pass it along to you.

Well, this post started out as one thing and ended another.  I guess that happens sometimes.  Anyway, I hope you’re all doing ok.  I’m just checking in with you.

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Sunday Musings

Ok, it’s been a few days and the kids are getting antsy even though they’ve been limited in being able to go out.  Now the restrictions are even more severe so there’s no unnecessary trips and certainly no group activities to occupy their time (nor mine).  Honestly, I don’t know what our technology driven kids would do without internet access because my suggestions of a board game after dinner is being shunned.  (But I think tonight I’m going to mandate a little time off technology for us all!)  My kids are pretty good about going with the flow to put a smile on Mom’s face so I’m hoping they’ll comply.  I’ll let you know tomorrow!

What are you doing while you’re stuck at home with the family?  How are you reacting to this?  How about your kids?  I saw someone post about how their kids were having temper tantrums (they were younger than mine).  Lucky for me I have college-aged kids so we’ve outgrown temper tantrums.

Just checking in with you today to see how you’re doing!  Drop a comment and let me know.  If you need a friend, I’m here for you!

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And They’re Back…

We’re not on quarantine really here because none of us has the virus (knock wood, thank God), but still everything is shutting down so we’re home.  While I’m ok to not be going out all the time, it’s harder for my older son who’s over 21 and used to living his own life, on his own schedule with his friends at university.  I’m doing my best to not lose my patience with his lack of awareness.  Case in point:  when he’s loudly talking late at night because he’s not aware of how loud he is or that I’m sleeping.  The other night I laid in bed and could hear him laughing and shouting with his friends and having a good ole time.  Honestly, part of me was annoyed because I’m trying to sleep and it’s late at night and I can hear him through the floor above me.  The other part of me was happy to hear him and his brother up there having a good time together with friends on the video games.  Because obviously they were having lots of fun.

What’s a mom to do?  I chose (note the choice here) to smile to myself and to be happy that I didn’t have to go to work the next day and that my kids were safely home and healthy.  However, when it went more than 15 minutes, I knew there was no getting any sleep like this, so I just texted him.  “Can you keep it down please?  Trying to sleep.”  He replied, “Sorry Mom.  We’ll stay quieter.”  I replied, “Thanks xo”  He answered, “Love you.”

Point made without me getting up out of my bed and it’s been better ever since!  But I know if I had chosen to lose my mind and go upstairs in grumpy mom mode, we wouldn’t have had the same results.  I guess that’s what I’ve learned by parenting mistakes I’ve made in the past, especially as a divorced mom of two kids whose father isn’t around.  Patience hasn’t always been a virtue of mine, but it’s increased over the years.

I try to think about the kids’ point of view and not repeat my childhood which was fraught with a tyrant of a father whose word was law and there was no way but his….ever!  And so far, it’s working well.  There’s a lot of respect here between us (kids and me).  Everyone gets a say even though I’ll always be MOM.  But they’ve taught me a lot by just listening to them.  And by listening, I’ve learned that my way isn’t always best.  I’m not so bullheaded as to think it is which has helped immensely.

Anyway, I know this is a transition for us all.  I just thought I’d check in to see how all of you are doing!  I hope you’re all healthy, happy and doing ok.

 

Posted in divorce, finding happiness at 50, love | Tagged , , , , | 19 Comments

Parenting Through The Pandemic

Well, here we are with school-aged kids home.  None of us were expecting this, were we?  My college-aged kids are home for now although I’m not sure when or if they’ll return to university.  So far, one is on spring break and the other is supposed to be having his courses taught online, but I’m sure the professors are scrambling.  I can’t even imagine how to learn all the technology in an instant and then to have to change your teaching to match the new normal that we are experiencing.  Even though it doesn’t feel normal to any of us, does it?

In all my years and probably yours by the way, we’ve never experienced anything like this in our lifetimes.  It’s eery at times to witness what’s happening and to see how the world in a short period of time has changed so dramatically in such personal ways.

It’s a transition of sorts and I feel like it’s a reset on many levels.  Some people are in full fear panic whereas others are in full denial.  I feel like there’s a place in the middle – be wary but follow the rules, that needs to gain control here.  But I’m not certain it will happen for everyone to choose to do that for the greater good.

Kids these days don’t know what to do with so much downtime and are constantly trying to connect with friends via technology which is good.  But college kids are used to being on their own schedules and seeing their friends in groups so it is hard for them to be suddenly sent home.  Well, that and the fear that they’re now hearing how it’s not just the older generations who are getting Covid-19, but also kids now and some aren’t doing well with it.

Lucky for me, it’s brought us together even though we were already pretty solid as a little family of three due to the divorce.  We’ve had some interesting talks lately about adulthood and transitioning from childhood.  I guess I will post that another day, but listening to your kids and talking with them is a really good way to learn what they’re thinking.  And now’s the time.  We’re all home together.  Make it count.

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