Rip off the mask, tear down the walls. Show the world my beautiful, vulnerable self!

Posts tagged ‘#BorderlineStrong’

People, Places, and Things

Negative Attachments to People, Places, and Things

I was recently reminded how past experiences can attach themselves to people, places, and things coloring our perception without realizing it.

Since my usual dance club has been closed I’ve had to explore other options. One has been the club where I danced when my daughters were in elementary and middle school. For some reason, I’ve found a million reasons to either not dance, or go somewhere further away. Talking to a friend who goes there regularly, it finally dawned on me why.

The years I spent dancing there were tumultuous at best. My divorce, mom’s death, multiple job changes, a couple of really weird dating experiences, and a long-distance relationship. Through it all, I was angry, lonely, and depressed. In hindsight, what passed for friendships reflected the state of withdrawal I kept myself in, ostensibly to keep from getting hurt. Needless to say, going in there brings up all the old toxic waste even if I don’t realize it. Thus, old feelings of discontent and unworthiness come back to bite me in the butt.

While talking to my friend I realized it’s long past time to make new memories in an old place. And it’s time I let all the toxicity I didn’t realize I was hoarding go too.

Behavioral Memories Carried By People

I’m also discovering that new people can bring back old, painful memories. I’m particularly sensitive to the ones who thrive on drama, and even after a long hiatus, have once again attracted and unwittingly fed another one. Of course, they wear different disguises, so it takes me awhile for deja vu to kick in and tell me I’ve been here before. Still, each time it happens I seem to rebound more quickly and with less damage to my own psyche.

I recognize my own patterns. I’m attracted to someone who seemingly needs temporary emotional support. Ultimately I discover it’s an insatiable need they’ll feed, even if, as on previous occasions they have to cause me pain to feed it. This time though my red flags started waving and alarm bells started sounding more quickly. I recognized the pattern and have taken a giant step (or 10) backwards. The current production will be played out without me.

Ending My Role as a Drama Addict’s Buffet

I’ve created a peaceful life for myself. I am alone when I want to be and with friends when I want company. Most of my friends have the usual ups and downs. But occasionally someone who thrives on drama slips in and has to bounce around doing a little damage before I wise up and do emergency surgery to remove the cancerous body, preventing engagement of a tentacle or two.

I suppose I’m a rich feast for drama addicts, having been well-seasoned by my youngest daughter and quite a few others over the years. I’ve been sucked in by my own need to be helpful—to be accepted, all too often failing to recognize the tell-tale signs of someone who lives for the drama they cause. Fortunately, I do eventually learn as this particular lesson never ends well. Invariably, I’m the one who gets hurt, though I’m usually left thinking it was somehow my own fault.

I’m happy to say things are finally changing for the better. I might still play the stooge for longer than I should, but I’m learning to recognize when I’ve climbed onto another hamster wheel. I’m able to take a good, hard look around, realize I’ve been here before and say “I’m done!” But more, I’m able to mean it. I no longer need to repeat my assertions multiple times to convince myself.

Seeing the Message in the Lesson

Perhaps this time, the first step was recognizing how I’d connected a lot of painful memories with a single place, even though, in the years I spent there, it was a refuge and a sanctuary. Somehow, I managed to leave echos of the pain and frustration which colored those years in the very walls of the place without even realizing it. Now that I’ve made the connection, I can start banishing the memories so I can put an end to what’s been preventing me from joining my friends and doing what we all love most—dancing our way into joy and letting all life’s crappy parts pour off us like water off a duck.

As for the rest, I set my boundaries. I’ve learned in the last few years I have a right to expect my boundaries to be honored. I’m neither afraid nor unwilling to take rather drastic action should someone fail to respect them. I don’t see myself going there this time, but know I am able, if necessary. If nothing else, even the drama lovers in my life have more redeeming qualities these days.

People Are Constantly Entering and Leaving My Life

https://www.flickr.com/photos/rbh/4549085259/in/photolist-TBE2Nw-p4EDEt-TtPDPz-T6fYRE-WessCa-5aopSw-7VZfyt-ihp3jf-ekkzYU-dmX7yH-9XZhkA-5aooT5-TdHezm-b2Jtm4-ekkCk7-e2akL2-ekeVB6-k52jg-W218xN-5ahpwJ-9WoYHJ-d8ZSaC-9WVckM-dmX7a8-5a2rPt-bAkTRr-5aoogS-eQjvsU-fKHzgW-VeN9y3-5aimQk-5fy8qh-e2aadv-5anCeQ-ekkB5Q-W9ExL4-9mo7Zz-VZfQY7-fKraHx-aFayE2-ekkDFA-Sn7nK9-55Kh4v-ekeSRt-bk1R1Y-9DZ7ZJ-dmX9XU-RZ7W4o-chvcYj-qwtAJXI go through life forming some attachments and breaking others. Some are meant to last only a short time, others, for longer. All are meant to teach me something, even if sometimes, it’s how to walk away. Some of the lessons return over and over in different forms. I see it as a test to determine whether I’ve  truly learned the lesson, or only learned it for one set of circumstances.

I’ve been faced with drama addicts in so many different scenarios, I’ve lost count. It’s taken me a long time to learn to recognize the signs, and I still fall victim for a little while, every now and then. The difference now is figuring it out and extricating myself long before I suffer any real pain or damage myself. Maybe I’ve learned to withhold the part of myself that is most likely to get hurt until I am certain it’s not another lesson? I can’t really say. I just know my drama meter is becoming nearly as sensitive as my BS meter now. And for that, I’m grateful.

I Still Love the Drama Lovers in My Life, But Cautiously

There will always be people who feed on drama: their own, yours, mine, ours, https://www.flickr.com/photos/philleara/7246573430/in/photolist-c3mzPd-djJiUe-oajKtQ-djJjmv-djJjLR-oapGkZ-djJjb9-djJj5F-cntb2u-7Y2xWm-cntayf-c3mLB3-n329S-7XYhYD-cntbhs-TCrSUz-gg7DZE-gg7XMV-6Ak5ks-9a2C7g-djJjz6-cntb85-rCKS6-cntag1-azBhou-3oXQYc-cnta8q-cntaL7-ocbPjv-oa7hn8-fJm576-baRPgp-7Y2xp7-8ommnm-bA1QHR-cnt9j1-dmywKj-7Y2x7b-4vwAew-aAPJwq-oa7iJB-cnt9xu-2FtNgi-gunWiW-hLgWLK-e4kv6P-2FtPvB-9GPQLh-4vsuDF-baRMyvthe world’s…whatever they can get. They’re not bad or evil per se. They simply need a particular type of high. For some, it’s extreme sports. For others, it’s volunteering their time to help someone less fortunate. For these folks, it’s drama.

I’ve learned to love and appreciate a peaceful life. That doesn’t mean there aren’t ups and downs, but I’ve lived my share of extremes, and my slopes are smoother and less drastic these days. Just the way I’ve come to like it. But there are people who need extremes. I suspect there were times in my life I needed them too, to remind me how to feel. Or more accurately, to break through my miles deep walls so I could feel; something, anything, good or bad.

I need no such reminders now. What I do need is to purge those old, battle worn feelings from the places I used to go. As I’ve said in other posts, there’s a time to cut out old reactions and responses and replace them with happier memories—not only inside ourselves, but with people, places, and even things.

Gratitude Will Always Be the Most Effective Tool in My Toolbox

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for opportunities to improve on myself.
  2. I’m grateful for epiphanies which help me direct my energies better.
  3. I’m grateful for friends who help me figure out my blocks.
  4. I’m grateful for tests which help me see where I still have a lot to learn, or where I’ve come far.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, friendship, hope, joy, inspiration, motivation, health, harmony, peace, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws , of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

Peeling Our Emotional and Mental Onion

Going Through My Own Onion-like Layers

Healing after losing a loved one to suicide is a lot like peeling an onion. Some layers are thick and solid. They require time, patience, and some effort to break through. Others are thin to the point of transparency, but sticky and hard to let go of. Some layers will flood your eyes with tears while others break your heart; the memories so sweet you want to keep them with you forever.

When I began my own healing journey I was so naive. I thought all I had to do was learn to forgive my parents’ abrupt departure, accept their choices, release my anger, and get on with my life. I learned instead the process is a tangled web of inaccurate memories, a lifetime of habits and behaviors, often handed down through generations, but most of all, learning to accept myself, imperfections and all. I had to recognize and own my emotional and mental weaknesses. But the most important part of the process is learning to ask for help even if, for a while it feels like giving more than receiving.

Going Beyond Outdated Family Patterns

It’s about seeing family patterns that are long overdue to be jettisoned and recognizing it’s my responsibility to cut those cords. In the process I had to admit I struggle at times, and I had to share those struggles with others because we all need to know we’re not alone.

I’ve reached a point in my journey where I need to expand my reach. I have to become part of a larger group seeking to re-educate people, not only about suicide but our overall mental health, because the two are indelibly intertwined.

People need to be able to say “I’m not OK” without fear of repercussions or judgement. It needs to be as natural and accepted as admitting you have the flu, or gallstones, or cancer.

Tragedy Often Alters Our Trajectory

On November 7, 2018 a mentally disturbed young man took the lives of 12 incredible people at Borderline Bar and Grill before taking his own life. It was a place I called home; a feeling shared by many others.

As we continue to grieve the loss, both of our friends and family, and a place we called home; a place we believed to be a safe haven; a place where troubles and stress were left at the door, we embrace our extended family. Some who lost so much more; a beloved child, a spouse, a lifelong friend are setting examples for the rest of us for what love truly is.

Michael Morrisette lost his cherished youngest daughter, yet continues to encourage love, understanding, and more; social consciousness. He constantly offers opportunities he’s already taking to give back. Recently he introduced ChangeDirection.org (#ChangeDirection) to the Borderline family. They are offering resources to help us help each other and to educate people about the signs which show someone is in distress while doing their best to hide it. Most of all, they’re on a mission to change how our culture views and responds to mental health and mental illness.

People Who are Suicidal Need More than a Band-aid or a Phone Number

I’ve seen a lot of people and places claiming to be committed to helping those who have experienced a suicide as well as those who might be considering it themselves. Too often, I’m frustrated because their primary solution is to give you a number to call. In my opinion, if someone is desolate enough to be seriously considering suicide as an option, giving them a number to call, or posting an impersonal sign on a freeway overpass is confirming their mistaken belief that no one cares. It’s relinquishing responsibility to reach out to them ourselves.

One of the many lessons I learned in the last decade or so is how many times I, myself am not OK. Leaving me alone to figure it out might be what I say I want and need, but in reality, it’s probably the worst place for me to be.

I’m nowhere near the dark, tangled place my mom found herself, nor do I have the dreadful medical report my dad got a couple of days before he took his life. Still, I have been depressed enough to believe no one would notice if I disappeared, and certainly, no one would be the worse for it. Talking to friends who’ve been there as well, and some who’ve slipped into even deeper, darker waters, I’ve learned being alone only gives you more time to convince yourself the world is better off without you.

Giving of Ourselves

ChangeDirection.org recognizes the urgent need to reach out to those who are feeling hopeless and disconnected—before it’s too late. They offer tools, support, and guidance to help recognize when one of your own is tumbling headlong into a pit of despair, and needs help arresting their downward plunge. They recognize a person in that state has already decided they’re not worthy, and the last thing they’ll do is ask for help. Even if help is offered, they’re likely to decline over and over, unable to believe anyone really wants to help them.

June 9-15, 2019 is “A Week to Change Direction” which they describe as:

…a week of action, advocacy, culture change and fundraising for organizations, corporations, universities, communities, and individuals! Our aim is to increase knowledge, raise awareness and increase support for efforts that are working to change the culture of mental health globally so that all in need receive the care and support they deserve.

I hope you’ll join me, Michael, and everyone else who has lost someone as a result of unrecognized and untreated mental illness, or who is suffering themselves, or knows and loves someone who desperately needs to be able to accept the help we can all offer if we start being more aware.

Together We Can Turn the Tide of Suicide and Mental Illness

I didn’t have a village when I started the long, uphill journey out of the abyss not created, but exacerbated by my parents’ suicides. I only had 2 daughters who needed their mother, a stubborn streak that wouldn’t let me give up, and a penchant for writing.

In hindsight, my journey might have been shorter and more pleasant had someone reached out to me, but I might not have realized I needed to learn to both reach out to others and accept help myself. I needed to have the perspective of believing I didn’t deserve help to understand how important it is to keep trying when someone says they’re OK, though it’s clear they’re not.

I may not have had a village before, but I have one now, and being part of that village means taking what I’ve learned and using it to help others. Will you become part of the change too?

Finding a Powerful Tool in Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the lessons I learned the hard way. They didn’t make me harder, they made me more compassionate and socially conscious.
  2. I’m grateful for the examples set by my daughter Heather. She is one of the most giving, socially conscious people I know, and I’m often ashamed I don’t do more when I see how much she gives.
  3. I’m grateful for the people who are my village now. They uplift me, and give me opportunities to practice what I’ve learned when it’s my turn to give back. They help me understand it’s OK to not be OK, and that they’re there for me no matter what.
  4. I’m grateful for people who demonstrate by their own actions how much we all can do to make things better.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; friendship, love, support, inspiration, motivation, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws , of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

Healing Through Laughter

Finding New Ways to Heal

Created with CanvaAfter spending an evening with friends playing a rather raucous game of Mexican Train, it occurred to me, especially in light of recent events in our neck of the woods, that we all need more laughter. I didn’t even mind being a last-minute addition to the party. The company was warm and loving, and the banter kept us all laughing and playing along. I left feeling warm, loved, and most of all, uplifted.

Of late, I’ve been feeling especially worn out, fatigued, drained, and even short of breath. I’m sure a lot of it has to do with handling the emotional trauma both within and around me. Some gatherings seem to be more of a chore to stay positive and upbeat, and I can see how others around me are forcing more than allowing. I feel it as a drain on my own energy, and haven’t been good about protecting my own space. I want to help those around me, but realize I’ve let my own resources run down.

The answer is more time spent just being, and finding humor in the little things. Laughter, after all is the greatest healer.

Continued Support From Our Community

For my extended family, dancing has been our happy place, with some of us, for decades. We are still dancing and hugging and sharing, but deep down inside, we all feel it; it’s not the same. Our home is unavailable and we’re, as one woman put it, always the visiting team. Some wonderful people have opened doors and arms to us, and we’re extremely grateful to them for their generosity. But as the weeks stretch to months, the feeling is unanimous. We want to go home.

It still remains to be seen, if, when, and even where that might happen. In the meantime, a couple of clubs have been opened up to accommodate two of our regular nights. The Sunland Winery, which welcomed us in December is on our schedule once a month (though many of us wish it were more). Road trips to more distant venues are planned and well-attended. Larger and larger groups are making time to go to a smaller local club to line dance and even get in a little two-stepping and West Coast Swing.

Small, Intimate Gatherings Speed the Healing

But I think the ones which help the most are the smaller, more intimate gatherings which seem to be gaining in popularity. They’re times when we seem to allow ourselves to feel whatever we’re feeling, express our hopes, doubts, and concerns, and care about each other unreservedly.

They’re nights filled with laughter and good humor. With listening to each others’ struggles and offering support. Even a few light-hearted matchmaking attempts are starting to surface. It all expresses the love and caring of a family that’s been torn asunder by tragedy, but refuses to be kept down.

As I type this, I’m thinking about scheduling a night of my own, and of course, my mind flips over to the menu. (I do love to cook for friends). At a recent event, the fare was simple but delicious; a chicken and noodle casserole, garlic bread, salad, and garlic sauteed green beans. I particularly liked the idea of something in a pan, and my mind turned to lasagna.

The recipe I use typically takes a couple of days as the sauce has to be made first, but it’s been a long time since I made it, and wouldn’t typically make a pan just for me. It’s a great excuse to do something I love for the people I love, and to host an evening of laughter and companionship. Thought becomes things, and by the time this publishes, the event will have been scheduled, come, and gone. The details and the laughs will likely prove fodder for another post.

Sometimes, You Just Have to Make the Effort

I’m trying hard to get out more, even if it’s to places I’m not especially fond of. It’s really not about the venue right now, but about the people and of course, the dancing. I’m finding I don’t even mind standing on the sidelines, listening to the music, chatting with the people nearby, and only dancing a couple of dances. I just need to be out being, doing, living.

Still, there are days when I need to stay inside with my cats, away from people and the energy they emit. I’m still tiring easily, and I know part of it is my screwed up dance schedule. But some of it could simply be what we all struggle with: letting go of what no longer serves us.

Sometimes, You Have to Let Go

We had a beautiful lunar eclipse with January’s full moon. It left me thinking about what I need to release (after a night of crazy, disturbing dreams). I guess I should be grateful the night was overcast so the moon didn’t keep me awake half the night. Typically, with the full moon, I have to turn and sleep with my head at the foot of the bed because the brightness shines through my window and makes my eyes pop back open every few minutes.

With regard to current circumstances, here are a few things I can release which are getting in the way of my happiness:

  • Dependence on a specific place to dance to be happy just dancing
  • Unwillingness to go out on nights which weren’t my regular dance nights
  • Excessive concern over inviting people into my less-than-perfect home
  • Resistance to cleaning
  • Laziness in general

It may not seem like a lot to many, but they are things I know stand in my way. There are plenty of other things I need to release regarding my writing and my business, but that’s not the reason for this post, so I’ll leave it for another (and heaven knows, I need ideas for February now that January is “in the can”, to borrow a line from old movie speak).

Making the Most of Our Opportunities

Releasing anything which keeps us from finding joy in laughter, companionship, intimate and not-so-intimate gatherings, and even embracing change are essential when we’re dealing with circumstances beyond our control. We need to accept that we can’t return to what we know, at least for the moment, and do our best to create new spaces, new activities in which to find the joy, laughter, and exercise we currently lack.

I’m grateful for two of the dance instructors who’ve opened their homes to us in the last couple of months. Without them, we’d have had many more dance-less weeks in those immediately following the shooting at Borderline. They’ve kept us together in mind, body, and spirit at a time when we all needed it most.

We’ve celebrated many occasions inside the walls of Borderline; birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, births; and those memories won’t fade away. But when we put it all together, we’ve created a family who is strong and resilient, and will find ways to stay together, not only for the short time we’re scattered to the winds, but for the long haul as well. We have so much more laughter, joy, hugs, and dancing to give and do. And maybe we needed to get shaken out of those four walls to discover how much we truly have? (though it sure could have happened in a less horrific way!)

Facing Each Day With Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the family which is finding new and unique ways to stay together.
  2. I am grateful for the friendships I’ve formed which fill me rather than draining me.
  3. I am grateful I’ve learned that being myself is far more attractive than trying to be someone I think people would like.
  4. I am grateful for all the people who are keeping the love, laughter, and dancing going during a truly difficult time.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; joy, laughter, dancing, loving, health, harmony, peace, inspiration, motivation, energy, synergy, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws , of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

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