The graduating class of ‘We Made It’

“How can you stand your ground when everyone around you wants to bury you in it? You have to BELIEVE that they were wrong. They have to be wrong. Why else would we still be here? …We’re graduating members of the class of ‘We made it’.” (Shane Koyczan)

 

I find that it’s extremely easy to hate myself, everything I do, everything I stand for. It’s really easy to think that I’m not good enough, smart enough, funny enough, nice enough, sweet enough, thin enough, pretty enough. It’s really easy to think that I shouldn’t be allowed to continue living. But. I am. I’m here still. I tried to change that in the past. But I didn’t. I didn’t follow through. I didn’t do anything about it, even if I wanted to with most of my heart (fear stopped me numerous times). But something in the universe made it so that I didn’t. So that I have survived to this day. So that I’ve lived this life to this point. It’s really easy to hate all that about me.

But it’s so much more beneficial to look at it with a different spin.

“I will love myself despite the ease with which I lean toward the opposite” (from the ted talk with Shane Koyczan)

It’s so much more pleasant to realize all of the obstacles I conquered, all of the things that I’ve learned along the way, all of the chinks I’ve earned in my armor—that used to serve me well and give myself a kudos for a job well done. It’s not easy to dodge normal every day arsenal thrown at us through school—I managed to come out in pretty good form receiving it at home. I will love myself and respect myself for doing the best that I can. Because that really is all that I can expect from myself.

 

So so so so many times growing up, I heard that I shouldn’t fool myself into thinking that I’ll ever do anything worthwhile, that I shouldn’t be alive, that I don’t deserve to live. Well…I did…and I still am….so how right were they? And…I’m doing a pretty damn good job at learning new things—like having fun and loving.

 

I’m part of the graduating class of ‘We made it’—thankfully!

Recovering from bullying 

This post is stimulated because of the quote from a Ted Talk (by Shane Koyczan) “I will love myself despite the ease with which I lean toward the opposite”


What I’m about to write isn’t being stated as an excuse; rather an understanding, a reason for why, a moment for change and something new.

I grew up being told that everything that all of my hobbies are stupid, that I’m stupid for liking them. I grew up believing that my parents thought I was one of the dumbest people in the world and that, no matter how hard I worked and tried, they told me that I would never amount to anything.

I loved reading and writing. “That’s stupid. The things you write are stupid. You’re such a bookworm—don’t you do anything ENJOYABLE? Why don’t you do something WORTHWHILE?” When I started reading avidly, I would get excited and share whatever interesting thing I was reading—usually a silly (stupid) little kids’ book. When I was repeatedly made fun of for getting fat because all I do is read and come down from my room for meals, I started to hide how much I was reading. When I started to realize that I was a fat kid, I started to try and learn different ways to work out and lose weight. When my family found out about the desire to lose weight, I was berated “You’ll never lose weight, Thunder Thighs. You’re a failure. Stop wasting your time.” I started to try and learn different exercises that I could secretly do in my room. I also started to hide my snacking. They were right that I wouldn’t lose weight in that part of my life. My weight was a security blanket. Truthfully, I’m not even sure how overweight I actually was as a kid. I hated the camera so most pictures that exist of me are skewed images of my body trying to escape the range of the camera. When I was in my 20’s I realized that I was overweight and I wanted to change it—I was successful……and they made fun of my weight loss.

I grew up not knowing what I really wanted to do ‘when I grew up’ because everything I liked was ‘stupid’ and ‘useless’ and ‘worthless.’

In school, I tried to blend in with the walls, trying to avoid having the teacher call on me. When they did, I would usually know the answer but refuse to give it. I hid my grades. I didn’t really get picked on in school because I was always buried in my books, trying not to be noticed. I was mostly successful.

A lot of kids get bullied at school and their safe haven is home, where, I guess, their parents lift them up and show them love.

My situation was getting abused by my mom (or busting my butt to stay out of her line of fire) and getting bullied at home by my dad and my sister, constantly ridiculed and picked on. I was always told “Oh we’re just teasing” after I was brought to tears and sought solace in my room….but it never felt like teasing. It was always so hurtful and hateful.

EVERY little thing that I did and enjoyed was fair game for attack. I didn’t want to take a chance and stand out in school, risking being a punching bag there too.


It really is no wonder why I hide my passion, apologize for my intelligence, scold myself mercilessly for honest mistakes.

 

The BENEFIT is that now….Now….It’s nothing like that. I have a loving and supportive relationship where hobbies are encouraged, weaknesses are worked on to become strengths, where mistakes are evidence of room for improvement. I don’t have to defend my love of writing, my passion for learning, my desire to workout. I don’t have to apologize for wanting to try to be creative and not having it turn out JUST RIGHT. I don’t have to apologize for trying and not succeeding. I can be silly and not fear being called stupid. I can laugh and not fear ending up in the line of fire. I can make mistakes, I can be me. I’m free to be me. I’m free to be fun. I don’t have to hide from life anymore.


That’s scary and exciting all at the same time. It’s tough to keep that in mind….It’s something I will have to keep reminding myself.

Comfort is uncomfortable to someone more aquaint with pain. 

http://youtu.be/YBncGFCqEOA

I listened to her vows. They are a little more Christian-focused than I believe on a spiritual level, but it remains that I felt…..not alone….understood….a little less crazy. I didn’t realize that other people gave up the fight to prove that the other person really would walk away….just like everyone else. 

I enjoy thinking of these parts of her vows:

Comfort is uncomfortable to someone more aquaint with pain than love.

I was a relentless unpredictable storm

So after getting tired of the fight, I decided to give it a try, just to prove to you that you, too, would leave just like my seed and die.

I lost my footing and I kept asking myself ‘who are you?’  While climbing the attractive mount Everest of your mind, I attempted to hike a little higher, to take a peek at your soul. I lost my footing on that trail, dangled off the cliff of the condition of your unconditional, and there is where I fell…in love, skydiving on the wings of your patience. Thank you for catching me with this love—it’s too much. This love is just way too much because you’re a smoldering volcano, erupting upon my arrival…sputtering lava, I mean hot lava, chasing me down, burning the pain of my past, scorching heat on the back of my heels. A fire that just screams ‘let me love you.’ I fell. I am consumed. I am overwhelmed. Did you know that I’m crazy?….It’s hard to breathe when anyone gets close. Stand close and just let me inhale your exhale. Stay close, even when I punch you with my words. Stay close, even when I cut you with my fears. Stay close. Look into my chilling eyes and remember; look at my bleeding knees and remember that I fell for you and it took me 33 years to let that pain die, so that new hope and new life could resurrect. You caught my tears like wilted, warn Bible pages, stored them up in bottles as a reminder that as long as I stay close to him, I will never thirst again….I was so comfortable cocooning

And I know they told you ‘good luck with her’….but your consistent love will make Ella stop having fits and put down her dukes.

I vow that at times I will fail you. I vow that at times I will fall short, but in failures and shortcomings I won’t tap out. I won’t give up….I vow not to buy into false romanticism, saying things like ‘you complete me’ because you don’t. To you and only you, today I give in. To you and only you, I submit

Fears

I have a long commute–one I’ve grown to appreciate. It allows for a huge variety of different things: self-reflection in a sort of meditative state, chatting on the phone, catching up on the news or letting the universe pick your songs for you (that’s actually fun: I’ll put pandora on and think “what message do I need to pay attention for today?” It’s usually something amazing). 

This morning, I put on ‘skyscraper’ radio on pandora. It’s my ‘I’m strong and I’ll push through’ station. Last night when I put it on, the first song that played was ‘Let Me Love You’–how perfect for my current situation. Today was a playlist of songs that reminded me ‘you’re human. It’s ok. It really is. It’s ok to have flaws and BE human’ which led me on an interesting journey of emotions. 

A thought popped into my head: oh my god. What, though, if my facade is blown?! What if people I really care about see the real me that I was always told I am? What if my loved ones and friends, who think I’m smart or strong or loving, find out that it’s all just a facade?? What if they think I’m stupid?! What if they see that I’m weak and fragile and afraid?! What if they see that I’m so unloving and undeserving?! What if they realize all that they believed to be true about me is false and they see ‘the truth’?!?! These are people who’s opinions DO matter to me! And what if their current opinions change and they realize just how wrong they were about me???

I remember when I was younger, my mom insisted that my brother and I were stupid. So she poured money into sylvan learning center. I know one part of it was that she liked to feel good that she paid for something ‘good’ for he and I, plus she was convinced that neither of us were smart enough. For my brother, school just wasn’t his thing. He was smart through school but it was boring to him, so he took up being the class clown. I was a pretty much straight A student in the highest level classes. The teachers and tutors couldn’t figure out why my mom made me go to sylvan. I remember one asked me what more she expected and I remember telling him ‘I don’t know–I’m just not good enough and need to be better.’ This teacher reminded me of that four years later when I coordinated with him to shadow him for an education (my then major) requirement. What if my loved ones catch on to how stupid I am?!

What if my better half, my dearest friends realize ‘she’s NOT a beautiful soul! She is ugly! And mean! She is NOT lovable!’

I realize that the journey is a long one, because I ask those questions genuinely. I can step outside myself and realize what I would tell a dear friend with the same questions….but embracing, living it out is a whole different ball game. 

Inch by inch, everything is a cinch………

Let it go

I’ve needed to get this out for a while, but I wasn’t ready to put it on my blog. I don’t think I have anything to lose—for myself or someone who might be directed here.

 

I am an abuser. I wasn’t able to say these words before. I wasn’t far enough along in my journey to see this. I am at a point in my growth that I can clearly see that I am an abuser—not just of others, but of myself too. I’m an ‘intimidator’, an ‘interrogator’ (from Celestine Prophecy). I bully and I push buttons. This fills a need inside me because somewhere inside of me, if I’m able to get a negative reaction from pushing buttons, then I associate that with love. Some sick and twisted belief that a negative reaction that results in a catastrophic explosion confirms in some way that I’m garbage or loved. Fighting is a language I understand. I understand it as equivalent to love or I’m trash and I confirm and find comfort in my familiar place of “I’m worthless. I’m unlovable. I should be thrown away.”

This is not my life anymore, though.

I used to live life like a bird—someone does something that you don’t like and you peck at the. Or a cat—you swat and hiss at them.

That isn’t what a loving, compassionate spirit does. Someone who is understanding will try and gain the other person’s perspective before any negativity comes out; will try to understand motives; will try to either accept or explain. A reaction of scolding or hooting and hollering isn’t loving….nor is it productive because it won’t even be received. It will be so counter-productive….NO good will or can come of it—no one will feel loved or supported; no one will feel heard and appreciated and understood; no one will feel respected. Truly NOTHING good will be accomplished. There is no sense in having a reaction of a bird or a cat.

A gentleness, a tenderness, a loving approach “I really love you, but I’m not a fan of when you…..”

There isn’t a need to compete for power or energy. Slow down and BREATHE. There is unlimited energy to draw from. Don’t bully someone for theirs. Slow down. Take a deep, refreshing and cleansing inhale. Exhale the urge to intimidate or compete for that which is unlimited. Exhale an abundance of love and energy to the surroundings.

 

It REALLY, TRULY is safe to let go of the negatives of the past—all the negative beliefs, habits, and agreements. Let. Them. Go.

BREATHE, Juuuuust breathe

In my daily journal (…that I haven’t been too consistent with this week, I will admit), I face two questions: “What were you challenged with today? How can you overcome those challenges?” For about….3 or so weeks, I’ve written the same thing EVERY TIME for overcoming the challenges: “BREATHE.”

 

Breathe. Just breathe. I have started to get better with giving myself a moment (some of those moments are longer and better….some are not as long as they need to be). In that moment, I try to remind myself to demonstrate love. I try to remind myself that my better half loves me and wants nothing but the best for me. I try to remind myself of whatever my goal in that moment is. But still….it’s a breath. A long inhale and a long exhale. Maybe a few breaths. But a very deliberate breath.

 

Breathe. Just breathe (there’s a song that I always think of when I type or say that). But breathing initiates everything. If I allow it to, it can reset everything. I am still learning the value in this…and learning to get better at applying it because its value is immeasurable.

Eating humble pie….I’m learning to like it…

Over the last couple weeks, I’ve caught myself getting unnecessarily defensive and coming out guns blazing. That’s not fun. It’s not fun for me or the person I’m fully prepared to battle. I can’t imagine what that person must think….but I can’t worry myself with that part. 

I have to consider the humble pie….that oh so yummy dessert that is everyone’s favorite. (Please note: sarcasm) . There really isn’t a terribly good reason to hate it, though. I’m being serious. 

Think about it: you do something wrong against a friend–someone you don’t want to have any negativity with. If you refuse to genuinely accept humble pie, you will do damage. Do that too often, and the damage will undoubtedly be irreparable. If you recognize your error, though, and apologize, genuinely and with heart-felt acceptance of the need to eat humble pie and you will not only improve the dynamic, you will be a stronger person for it. Granted. That doesn’t mean continue committing the error….that would be silly and wouldn’t be a demonstration of genuine and heart-felt acceptance of the humble pie. Do your best to prevent the error….but be genuine. 

It will, in the end, feel good and improve the openness of the friendship. It’ll allow an acceptance of imperfection all around. It’ll build the love and support. It allows you a place of being helped by your friend.

It sure has promise for positives. I am going to continue working on self-reflection to find those times, as well as accepting humble pie.  And learning to even like it. 

I HAVE to let DOWN my guard

I’m continuing to receive pieces of evidence that show me that I have to let my guard down. I have to stop being distrusting of people. I have to allow the potential good in people overshadow the potential bad. I have to stop assuming that I need to come out guns blazing. I have to stop assuming, period.

I have to start slowing down. There really is nothing lost in taking the extra step to ask ‘did you really mean to be offensive/hurtful/aggressive?’ I could even phrase it in a funny way ‘I could get my exercise by jumping to conclusions, but I would rather do something far more effective…could you help me not jump for my exercise and clear something up for me?…’

I’ve come to analyze WHY this pattern is so typical for me (I grew up defending and protecting EVERYTHING about me. I grew up learning that people are mean and do and say things that are hurtful. I grew up defending and justifying my abilities, intelligence, and actions). Now that I have identified their former purpose, I can let them go. They had at one point been helpful….now it’s not serving me any benefit.

I am grateful for those patterns but they no longer are needed. I bid farewell to them

Love after Love (poem written by Derek Walcott

Love After Love

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

I heard this poem at the spiritual center I go to. I instantly felt its power to my core. Each of the carefully chosen words: “with ELATION’ ‘Give back your heart’ ‘the desperate notes’ ‘FEAST on your life’
I love this poem. “You will love again the stranger who was your self” Allow yourself to be LOVED by you. LOVE yourself as you would someone for whom you DEMONSTRATE deep, PROFOUND affection. Go easy on yourself. Love yourself. Act with compassion toward yourself. “Give BACK your heart to ITSELF”
We have to take care of ourselves, not just physically. We have to have a gentle and loving emotional touch for ourselves. We have to provide ourselves a soft place to fall. We HAVE to learn to demonstrate compassion for ourselves. If we don’t act with compassion toward ourselves, not only will we struggle to effectively do so for others, but we will live in a world expecting constant judgment, barrage, criticism, dislike, and live to be incredibly untrusting.
I’m working on allowing myself to look in the mirror and see my reflection as lovable, as good enough…..no. scratch that. ‘Good’ doesn’t matter. I don’t want to be ‘good enough’ I want to BE love. I want to exude love. I want to be and exude compassion. I want to be and exude forgiveness, peace, acceptance. For myself. For others. ‘Good’ is a judgment. I don’t want to leave room for judgments. Just a warm embrace of ‘the stranger who has loved [me] all [my] life, whom [I] ignored’

Imagine…..if you welcome that stranger, how much more JOY will be poured out.

Gifts: my Daddo :-)

I’ve been pretty quiet here…..I haven’t had much to say. Well…that’s not exactly true. I’ve had A LOT to say, with all that I’ve had on my mind….but I haven’t been able to organize my thoughts into a blog entry format…..so I haven’t.
I wanted, though, to share one thing:
I watched a video yesterday that was shared via the ‘wonderful’ world of social media. In that video, women from a variety of different positions of professional/political power shared their story of how amazing their dads were, always encouraging them to never settle, to dream bigger, to yearn for more, and to work hard to earn it. For a moment, I thought, ‘heh. Lucky. I can’t imagine what it’s like to have that….’ And then I mentally smacked myself. I did. Just not from the person who filled the role of ‘dad’. My paternal grandfather gladly filled that role for me. Oh what an amazingly strong and determined man he was. Sadly, specific memories that I have with him aren’t as detailed as they once were, but for the first 12 years of my life, I sure enjoyed him in my life: star-gazing together, laughing, playing, enjoying. I hated to watch golf, but he loved to, so I would sit with him and watch, bored to tears, just to enjoy time with him. We got to see him every other weekend, on Sunday, all day….visiting. He always made his grandchildren (or…at least me…I don’t know about everyone else…) feel like we were the center of the universe. He wouldn’t allow a frown to stick around for more than a moment. Oh and that man LOVED. Man did he love. He loved so intensely and hugged so tightly.
I’m a bit sad that I can’t remember the sound of his voice, or details of his face, or details of conversations with him…..but I will never forget how he loved me and believed in me.
We can ignore the gifts we’ve been blessed with and focus on the crap, whining and complaining. Or. We can focus on the gifts, grateful, and maybe even learn to find gifts in the crap.