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

Posts tagged ‘emotions’

Triggering Old Memories and Unspent Grief

Memories and Grief Dug Up From the Past

https://www.flickr.com/photos/60740813@N04/34504735502/in/photolist-Uz4MJN-7H8hqz-r2covS-8wbGLH-8wcEVv-8weaum-8wcFMc-r2c6ww-r2iYrg-qmL3eU-8w9Dpr-r2jtjr-riJFWH-8wcT7A-8wcK8r-8wbRuV-8wcj84-8wanQx-8waPPT-8w9c4V-8w97ek-r2j3iV-riCAji-8w8skp-r2cTQq-8wfuwo-8waMUv-8wfDJJ-8wdgXY-qZq9cM-8wd2u3-8wfVzw-8wbq15-8w8bJP-8w9Wdc-8wcQdR-riF3r5-riJvW2-8wbTSq-r2cNH1-8wc6wN-r2d6wG-8wcM6o-r2jiHn-8wdexo-riJBiz-8bQ1eC-8wfeYo-riJJHV-8w9YqrWhile reading a manuscript about childhood loss, I was thrown back in time to the day my dad told us his mother was dying of lung cancer. It was the first and only time I saw my dad cry, and even now, just thinking about it unnerves me.

Yet as a child, I followed my parents’ lead when it came to emotional issues, not only because it was all I knew, but because I was often ridiculed for being overly sensitive. Though I was already 12 at the time, I’d  had a few hard lessons about publicly expressing my emotions. I’d continue to experience humiliation from many directions until I learned to switch that part of me off (not the best solution, but all I had for a long time). The little I knew about losing someone I loved was enough to color my first experience with grieving.

So when I started reading about how a child’s grief is different from that of an adult, it threw me back to when my grandmother died. I realized I never grieved her passing. We visited her a few times before she passed, and I think I went to her funeral. But after that, she was just gone. We didn’t talk about her or think about her any more after that—until Dad took his life after being diagnosed with the same disease that killed his mother.

Emotions Buried, Memories Skewed

Even so, it’s taken me years of writing therapy, reading books about other peoples’ suicide experiences, and finally, a book about childhood loss to shake loose the feelings and emotions I buried so long ago.

The first thing I discovered was my faulty memory. In my mind I lost my grandmother when I was 10, but in reality (and after a Google search for her obituary) I discovered I was 12. Researching the date actually helps to put things in perspective as the year she died, 1968, was a pretty eventful one all the way around.

That was the year I was walking about 2 miles to attend a Junior High School that was out of my district. I’d leave the house early to make the 45 minute walk most days rather than having my mother drive me. I remember walking alone and enjoying the solitude. In those days, no one thought twice about a young girl walking alone on a city street. By the time my daughters were born, we were diligent about teaching our kids to travel in groups. Were the weirdos and creeps always there, or has life and disconnection made them more common?

I don’t remember what I thought about on those long walks to school. I don’t even remember having any friends, though I’m sure I interacted with someone during my school days. I do remember bottling up my emotions until they’d come out in a flood at inconvenient moments. It opened me up to the cruelty of Junior High School kids (the worst of all if you ask me) and likely caused me to recede further into myself.

The Festering Cesspool of Unexpressed Emotions

https://www.flickr.com/photos/anieto2k/8156999698/in/photolist-dqNKPQ-8xXrZz-a2tqF7-ecib3q-aR5rxR-23UMduh-aWLsg4-aQ6X3p-dTTc5c-dcyQ5m-b1FLUp-drS8ZF-bsmN5R-nNhBzE-6ssEeg-9jEcfZ-aVXtzx-j6LK2o-aNpZyT-dCTfD3-dvswdt-b3pgdi-dtXu4B-6LJawW-8CFHEg-8aL7Jf-hDdmuC-anA578-cPoDxo-9qmjuQ-dtXueV-qsdJSm-dqq1i2-2cGG4pp-dqq1sP-hp14Hw-cbnjHE-7bv7xs-chavXC-7uLgNT-8E3GL9-ar7X3y-aai6ME-nt1LXG-gZvg1N-S1DgTf-8kUop7-6532HD-exeWcJ-di6ynQMixed in with those emotions were probably the things I couldn’t express about losing my grandmother. My dad’s example wouldn’t allow it. After her death, I don’t remember any pictures of her around the house except in my parents’ wedding picture which I didn’t see until years later. Her name wasn’t spoken. We didn’t even go visit my grandfather. He visited us once with a cousin he’d married so he wouldn’t be alone. It wasn’t long after my grandmother’s death, and she asked us to call her “Grandma”. My sister and I ran up the stairs to our rooms in tears.

Again, my memory is unclear as a search revealed the marriage didn’t take place until 1971, 3 years after my grandmother’s death. Our grief was clearly lying dormant awaiting an opportunity to be expressed openly—an opportunity which never came.

Other memories of 1968 include horrific migraines (a legacy from my grandmother and father) which had me throwing up in trash cans while waiting for my mother to pick me up from school. But it wasn’t an entirely bad year. It was also the year we moved to Westlake Village after spending the better part of the year traveling back and forth so my dad could do the electrical in our new house himself. He’d made a deal with the builder to reduce the price and allow him to do what he wanted. We ended up with upgraded appliances and far more lighting than the typical tract house enjoyed in those days. We also ended up with avocado green and harvest gold EVERYTHING!

Opportunities to Start Anew

1968, the year I turned 13 brought a lot of changes into my life. I made new friends who https://www.flickr.com/photos/162733867@N08/29086322568/in/photolist-Ljg1m9-8b3Bcq-8dftDn-8mKHGw-kNJinr-7G5qTG-qqkYQy-8diVHq-icq54s-7G1vvv-8wSgbU-icquZX-7G5rPh-icquE8-icqcvj-dumDWG-c2Bg2L-9tJW5E-c2BjJY-dug3Ya-6CY1c7-F2Dn7m-6RgcKS-oTJEvg-myPgtn-5JppCu-b8Mizx-6zQ5G6-8mKTLQ-7KP9jG-dumDnj-8mGTPt-ryq1RH-sve5aR-7KK6Ec-4JjASd-9ATqPS-7KKbkz-8mGXFk-8mL5Ld-7RZ28J-4Jfkoc-8dfkdv-8mGyHH-8mGJdK-8afnPD-6Lg64e-biSy3F-pihYMh-8sRJY6shared my interests and didn’t want to beat me up (a major flaw in my previous neighborhood). We all had to ride the bus to school as there was only one Middle School in the district at the time and it was a freeway ride away. We had teachers who weren’t beaten down by an excessively large school district who actually made learning fun and interesting.

Still, I managed to attract the bullies who did their best to embarrass me at every opportunity. Hard as I tried, my overly sensitive nature and all the emotions I wasn’t allowed to express at home refused to stay bottled up and controlled. I had yet to replace tears with anger, though I practiced at home. My mother and I were already pushing each others’ buttons on a regular basis.

I also got to indulge in a pleasure I still find today with my writing. I had an extraordinary English teacher who gave me many opportunities to flex my creative muscles and introduced me to collaboration.

Learning to Grieve, but Only in Private

https://www.flickr.com/photos/prestonrhea/5236270625/in/photolist-8YHfQ2-4X1dP6-P58XGS-dmtrwi-2pMKC-nC1YD-QxGsf-q4rWqa-8HeDZc-o8pVg-8mXR4g-o7nP7c-8jQqTQ-bPxsQc-dJusGN-78jLU7-98LY1P-dYGYNq-cgtYSu-cgu1F7-7rMJ9R-6z6KQA-6VuMG-6Jfxqk-4bbwMg-dmtxds-9Rf6xQ-v8gDMa-9PqETD-4MsUzv-ptUKap-a2BfLR-4UtU1B-4UtSun-5dBS8k-7eGxtr-7nUbqa-7nUbW8-fBZ3S4-5M1h3P-8DYirc-8E2uBh-6r2V98-7oFgff-7oBon2-7oBpbn-7oBoG6-7oFfRo-vPhUL-jk3BYpThe year my grandmother died was filled with a lot of highs and lows. I learned more about keeping to myself and not letting anyone see the shy, frightened child inside. But I never learned to grieve. Not for my grandmother, not for my other grandparents when their time came, and not for my parents. The only ones I’ve been able to openly and unashamedly grieve for are all the cats I’ve loved and lost over the years.

Each time, I grieve alone, in the safety of my home, spilling tears on the comforting backs of the ones who are still here letting me love them unreservedly. And maybe that’s how I’ve learned to grieve. It’s a whole lot better than holding things in and allowing them to fester.

Today I have friends who are more than willing to help me get over the rough spots, whether it’s grieving or anything else. They talk unashamedly about expressing their emotions (both the men and the women) and aren’t afraid to turn to each other when their own strength needs shoring up.

Though I’m always there for them, and especially sensitive to someone else’s needs, I still find it hard to be honest and open about my own feelings—my own struggles. Old habits die hard but I’m trying to stop saying I’m fine when I’m not. Even that is a huge step for a girl who comes from a family who discouraged expressing your feelings. For a girl who was beaten up, picked on, and humiliated by peers who took pleasure in seeing her cry.

Accepting Ourselves Fully and Completely

https://www.flickr.com/photos/jobber1/36197048070/in/photolist-X9BkiG-6zNVTx-9WcJ3G-dSakbx-dSammr-9TBa8u-6ezpVp-4BqdWY-VXtGBZ-rmenXX-qCVBCH-ebSPFY-on6uCz-7jht6-n98ro-VTXW6M-a1XWoX-aEZ3ZC-GAd7om-aETqXe-5YRvvk-dSfWbY-KEWxyD-7N2mv7-s8WVRA-97x2ND-9FZG7n-kv3uih-7dAKBM-Usjf3C-emcpAz-3EXMtA-U3SSPP-gQb96B-6QtXTY-o36uJj-iwvCcv-54dBjc-opbQb3-7NxyBo-7G7U6q-cS6eML-9FXQcH-ojrwjj-SUbPcQ-7MNAUc-Ee2qD-jZRnbY-a355px-cS691NIt’s a legacy I inadvertently passed on to my daughters. One struggled with the same issues I did, the other became hard and cold. It’s a legacy which has to stop, if not with me, with the daughter who’s as overly sensitive as me. She needs to know it’s OK to openly grieve, whether it’s a friend, a grandparent, or a beloved pet. She and her own children need to know it’s OK to be human.

As humans, anger is the easiest emotion to express. Too often, we use it indiscriminately to mask softer emotions like grief, worry, and insecurity. Unfortunately, being angry all the time as a mechanism for protecting our softer selves tends to make us appear hard and cold. If carried on too long, we start to become the persona we’ve assumed.

We need to accept and own our emotions fearlessly. They are as much a part of us as fear, and deserve to be expressed. Those who try to use them against us are simply not our people. It might take awhile to find those who accept our whole package, emotions and all, allowing us to express those emotions in a healthy manner. We may stumble a few times, and get hurt many more.

Finding those who do accept our complete selves are the rainbow we find at the end of a long storm that seems to thrive on our misery and discomfort. But when we find them, when we’re finally allowed to be and express our true selves, both happy and sad, the trip through that storm ceases to matter. Only the end of the journey will remain in our hearts and memories. And I finally found my soft place to land.

Gratitude Heals Our Wounds

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for friends who accept me as I am, and instead of running away when I’m barely holding on, offer me lifelines.
  2. I’m grateful for for the many cats who’ve traveled through this lifetime who’ve allowed me to be who I am, the good, the bad, and the ugly.
  3. I’m grateful for storms because there are rainbows at the end.
  4. I’m grateful for the many layers I’ve uncovered as I travel the roads this lifelong journey leads me on.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance: love, friendship, joy and sorrow, storms and rainbows, all the cats I’ve loved, and those I’ve yet to meet and love, dancing, peace, health, harmony, 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

People Are Not Labels

Labels are for Soup Cans

https://www.flickr.com/photos/poorcans/20900661451/in/photolist-xQVmtV-yh8Gq-8Br9Sd-4Maaoo-aQmNMR-6EtxkP-4yy1G9-2Pvp9C-8FsGxQ-7ACUMX-7YQMzo-sKdkT-6gF66N-4k4cjt-tH52Y-7wBA9z-Uq8r73-6naAjp-5WoaMD-7qEHtt-NphFXZ-8C8jQm-26PmX2c-8KwHYS-7Pc1gd-6BYvZN-2e9wtSE-EKpx8-6GaRw7-QtPQN8-283eQFu-s7emTJ-qJT9mH-zauotZ-21EW38n-C5z8wF-6KkmjD-HXUSJ-69sF6V-dPZ1QG-BL7Pye-m5bGQX-ajS8qC-8AyreB-8HEnCg-8gXZjp-6HNM47-bvN9eN-79sdVC-86nchvI’ve always found it both offensive and short sighted to assign labels to people because invariably it leads to a judgement based on generalized characteristics. Lately, I’ve realized I’m guilty of labeling and judging myself, and frankly, I don’t like what I see.

As an Empath who attracts other Empaths, I’ve learned to be especially aware of attracting Narcissists too. My fight or flight reflexes are set to ultra-sensitive after too many experiences with people who only loved my for my energy and nurturing qualities. But sometimes I overdo it, especially when I operate under the mistaken belief I need to protect my friends.

Observe More, Label Less

Lately, I’ve applied the label “Narcissist” too often and too quickly, instead of standing back and watching; allowing the person to show their many facets instead of focusing in on a single one. Needless to say, I’ve judged people overly harshly, overlooking signs there may be something far more complex going on.

When my daughters were young, a psychologist was quick to label them ADHD and ADD, completely overlooking their intelligence and ability to learn and understand complex concepts quickly, even at a young age. A year or so later when they’d tested into the G.A.T.E. (Gifted and Talented Education) Program, I attended the parents’ orientation meeting. Large posters were tacked above the blackboards in the classroom depicting various aspects of the G.A.T.E. personality. Lo and behold, the characteristics were EXACTLY the same as the ones I’d been told were indicative of ADD and ADHD.

While contemplating my guilt in being too quick to apply the label “Narcissist” I’m reminded of that long-ago lesson. We all exhibit a wide variety of behaviors which are common to different personality types. That doesn’t mean we ARE a certain personality type. I suspect there are some who exhibit narcissistic behavior when they simply haven’t learned how to have a give and take kind of relationship. It’s not that they don’t want to be loving and giving. It hasn’t made it into their skill set yet either through nature or nurture.

Personalities Formed By Nature and Nurture

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mamnaimie/8680429035/in/photolist-ee4t8z-cNjy5-oKBJYc-7tRBmg-7dpdWv-buv1Nu-aDa4AY-51uTxq-fRQgnM-7zy4Hg-ceoS1-5u6JJ6-8JFHxV-7zy4Be-ceox3-apMg6S-bR4un-dq9xPC-4zmBQJ-hPY7A8-3bZjT7-daFcd2-6ZUq3Z-27uhQ9f-r7LzYM-K5keCM-L2RZSV-dg2mJw-2bFvdJJ-i63E4D-h9hrmr-JBNmhV-7pv8vg-f8R7b2-bj66S-rBh74r-DGtb3m-EkjWM8-dg2mfg-AcSwRy-26RUBUZ-fJwZNH-prZ4C3-23RFdN8-bj6mk-8zSsSY-defSSm-4Kx1jx-pEcuwd-eiC5SUMy family wasn’t the warm, touchy-feely type. I learned how to be affectionate and loving only after I started recognizing familial behavior patterns that needed to be broken and started breaking them. To someone on the outside looking in, I suspect a lot of my behavior was narcissistic in nature.

Someone on the Autism spectrum also isn’t inclined to show affection or even endure being touched. They might appear overly demanding while giving nothing back, even though they’re giving as much as they’re able.

Sometimes we have to take a step back and ask how we’d feel if someone slapped a label on us and dismissed us out of hand, especially when we’re doing so to someone else. When an Empath friend sees something of value in that person despite their outward behavior, it’s a pretty good indication we need to broaden our perspective and give that person another chance. Maybe there’s more than meets my admittedly jaded eye.

Never to Old to Form New Patterns

For years, I had few friends and no one close because I shut everyone out, or more accurately, https://www.flickr.com/photos/anieto2k/8156999698/in/photolist-dqNKPQ-8xXrZz-a2tqF7-ecib3q-aR5rxR-23UMduh-aWLsg4-aQ6X3p-dTTc5c-dcyQ5m-b1FLUp-drS8ZF-bsmN5R-nNhBzE-6ssEeg-9jEcfZ-aVXtzx-j6LK2o-aNpZyT-dCTfD3-dvswdt-b3pgdi-dtXu4B-6LJawW-8CFHEg-8aL7Jf-hDdmuC-anA578-cPoDxo-9qmjuQ-dtXueV-qsdJSm-dqq1i2-2cGG4pp-dqq1sP-hp14Hw-cbnjHE-7bv7xs-chavXC-7uLgNT-8E3GL9-ar7X3y-aai6ME-nt1LXG-gZvg1N-S1DgTf-8kUop7-6532HD-exeWcJ-di6ynQclosed myself in. But even as I open up to people, I still crawl back into my turtle shell when faced with behavior which at one time caused me pain. While it’s important for me to break old family patterns of behavior, I’m beginning to see I need to look at some of the patterns I formed myself.

Certain actions on the part of others trigger old memories. Those memories are painful, so the corresponding emotions are triggered causing me to shut down instead of protecting myself and adopting a wait-and-see attitude. By failing to give the person who triggered the memory a chance to show me the many facets of their being, I’m cheating myself out of getting to know someone who may have many amazing qualities, and who could bring new and wonderful experiences to my life.

Expanding Our Comfort Zone

By going with my first response and slapping the “narcissist” label on someone I don’t know very well, I’m ending a potentially wonderful relationship before it ever has a chance to take root. In every case, the only one I’m really cheating is myself, and to what purpose? Will their lives be less because I’m not part of their social circle? Probably not. Will they be hurt or slighted when I shut down and turn away? Maybe for a minute, but they’ll have plenty of others ready and willing to give them the chance I don’t.

I think instinctively I still believe I need to keep my circle small and well-known. But people become well-known and trusted over time. When we label people such that they’re unworthy of our circle, we’re really moving ourselves to the outside. Others are including them so our obvious negativity is going to affect everyone and leave us standing alone eventually.

I’ve been enjoying being part of a large, diverse group, but realize I’ll endanger my own acceptance if I believe I’m in a position to look down on anyone for any reason, much less a single behavior pattern which triggers unpleasantness for me. I need to remember ostracizing leads to being ostracized. I talk a lot about acceptance, forgiveness, and positivity, but there are times I fall back on old patterns, to my detriment.

Oh, Those Less-than-subtle Reminders

The Universe finds ways to remind me I’m being unkind and judgemental. It shows me myself 10 or 15 years ago, alone, lonely, angry, and judgemental. I had no compassion for anyone, not even myself. It’s a harsh but effective reminder I need to take a good, hard look at my own behavior and fix it before I break something important. I need to reach deep inside and connect, not with old pain that’s outlived its usefulness, but with the compassion I’ve found in recent years.

Do you assign labels before you get to know a person? Do you dismiss people without a fair chance? A chance you’d want to be given yourself? Do you allow old pain responses to cheat you out of adding amazing people to your social circle? Answer these questions honestly and without emotions clouding your judgement. You might find you’ve been unduly harsh a time or two like me. It’s not too late to fix what may only be chipped or cracked. Open your heart, and shut down the automatic responses. You might find a few diamonds amidst the rocks you so casually tossed away.

Showing Gratitude for Gifts Both Great and Small

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for reminders to be kinder and more compassionate.
  2. I am grateful for friends who set examples I need to learn to follow.
  3. I am grateful to be able to recognize and change some of my own conditioned responses.
  4. I am grateful for the experiences which created the conditioned responses, and the lessons I’ve learned which allow me to let those responses go.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, friendship, kindness, compassion, joy, health, peace, harmony, 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

Writing in the Zone

Taking the Zone Into Our Subconscious Minds

I realized this morning I was no longer getting a plethora of blog topics from my morning pages. Stopping to wonder why, I realized I’d gotten into the habit of doing exactly what the morning pages are meant to do; turn off my conscious mind and tune into the zone. Interestingly enough, it’s how I write most of my blog posts, but for awhile, I’d spent far too much time thinking about what I was going to write when I was doing my daily free writing.

I started noticing I was blowing through the first couple of pages without even seeing the page on a conscious level. I’d simply get up in the morning, use the bathroom, put my allergy drops in my eyes, select the colored pen I was going to use, and start writing. It didn’t matter what came out. It was merely a vehicle, a vessel into which I dumped the first thoughts of the morning without editing or, as I’m realizing now, conscious thought.

Disconnecting Before We Remember Not To

I’m sure there have been places along the way when I did it without thinking, but somehow, I’d gotten so used to finding blog topics therein, I started paying too much attention to what I was writing in those moments before I’m fully awake or starting to plan out my day. I suspect there actually are some topics hidden in those pages, and I’m inclined to go back and look, but without realizing it, I started using the 30 minutes or so first thing in the morning for the proper purpose.

It’s a bit overwhelming to realize how often I create without conscious effort; how often the words you see on the screen came from somewhere deep inside me. All too often, the words reflect a part of me I’m not usually aware is impacting my life, and yet, it does to a greater degree than I realize.

Tapping Into Our Inner Reactive Selves

We all have habits, either learned or innate which take over from time to time. How many of us https://www.flickr.com/photos/jobber1/36197048070/in/photolist-X9BkiG-6zNVTx-9WcJ3G-dSakbx-dSammr-9TBa8u-6ezpVp-4BqdWY-VXtGBZ-rmenXX-qCVBCH-ebSPFY-on6uCz-7jht6-n98ro-VTXW6M-a1XWoX-aEZ3ZC-GAd7om-aETqXe-5YRvvk-dSfWbY-KEWxyD-7N2mv7-s8WVRA-97x2ND-9FZG7n-kv3uih-7dAKBM-Usjf3C-emcpAz-3EXMtA-U3SSPP-gQb96B-6QtXTY-o36uJj-iwvCcv-54dBjc-opbQb3-7NxyBo-7G7U6q-cS6eML-9FXQcH-ojrwjj-SUbPcQ-7MNAUc-Ee2qD-jZRnbY-a355px-cS691Nactually think about breathing unless we’re meditating or doing yoga? But we also have conditioned responses. We shiver when we’re cold, and maybe put on more clothes. There are things which scare us on one level or another and cause us to withdraw into ourselves. Perhaps we emerge when we believe the danger has passed, or sooner if we determine the danger isn’t as bad as we expected.

I’m learning it’s important to allow those subconscious thoughts and reactions to come to the surface. Too many times, I find mine are deeply rooted in something which happened during my childhood, and which I need to revisit and revise. The soul-deep reactions to certain situations have long-since outlived their usefulness. But like many knee-jerk behaviors, I enact them without conscious thought.

Gently Disentangling Deep-rooted Behaviors

https://www.flickr.com/photos/barnoid/507719383/in/photolist-LScht-aEgvH4-9GQuCD-6W1t6o-7eMLf-9ZapY5-aqyTWF-WVbQua-WUsn2q-5ZnSwb-GBxuMd-WRKktx-8XXrBy-WRBT42-6x6DAm-au6C6L-9aDgzF-6x2uga-6x2uh8-9aDjbx-mY8gjH-6x6DCG-au6CcU-6x2u8v-6x6DFU-aqB62q-2aihRJj-9aDhGR-9aDkma-XMxT3e-WRKjZ6-aqB3Zb-7YvxSK-7YvxHx-7YyNxL-6x2uag-7YyPdQ-aqyTgn-7YyP43-dC5ahP-9jFPTY-cCSL51-6XEnTg-gTzLxk-6XJqmd-gTzzhy-9aGsqG-gTzDSY-aqiF5e-UUKGFNAdmittedly, part of their deep-rootedness stems from the years I kept stuffing things down until everything became impacted. I’ve had to disgorge many of the more recent behaviors and responses before I could get to the mother lode. By now, many of those deep-rooted behaviors have entwined themselves around my psyche in intricate knots requiring a great deal of patience and persistence to unwind.

Though tempting, simply yanking them out by their roots isn’t an option. They’ve entwined themselves around a great deal which has value, or worse, which needs to be untangled and dealt with as well. Harsh removal will only result in stronger, more impenetrable bonds being formed with those outdated, yet tenacious patterns. Shock treatment is not an effective way to deal with the old hurts and traumas which formed our subconscious behaviors.

When All Else Fails, Allow

I’m learning the best method is to allow everything to come out in its own crazy, convoluted https://www.flickr.com/photos/sermoa/7289177616/in/photolist-c77Wy9-r361B6-7UmPsp-XGAjhz-64e9v7-2aA91KA-dgqyUQ-45XqnC-9QJ7eT-9QN5fS-sHuD2X-eYWQtB-fbDKCi-RX57Dd-21GaQYp-ap2UBy-2cqyUd9-4BaZUn-XR9iq1-649VdX-GEVNFE-37rTTS-8GD4Ct-21M2mrm-8PB966-kzYvK4-6Vje9y-4Hq3oP-izzeb3-ouihv3-NiJYj7-bua5Bm-iRQDZe-jpV8mm-gJX2L-R36JFv-23NUNNG-2cw7Nyt-2a4658R-npfQy2-RZFcen-M2YpLg-STMqAt-WKMNmd-29UnKjq-owijzY-f4WJBJ-96ELMg-p9Cein-T8HccTmanner, much like writing the first draft of my books. The rule of: “write first, edit later” can easily be applied to working through old patterns which continue to rear their ugly heads, yet hinder rather than help us.

Like dreams, if we seek to grab those patterns and the root system they’ve developed, they’ll slip away, hiding behind something seemingly innocuous. But if we allow them to flow freely without judgement or the slightest inkling we’ll try to fix our re-route them, we’ll learn things we didn’t even know we held inside. Only then can we put forth the necessary effort to change how we react to what used to be scary or painful, but no longer is.

We mature and grow. We lose our sensitivity to pain in many circumstances, but that maturity doesn’t always communicate well with the root of the issue. The root functions on blind emotion. It’s impervious to logic. (How often have you heard “You shouldn’t feel that way”?) Emotion and feelings weren’t created in the same universe as logic so no argument is going to sway them, no matter how much sense it might make.

Reassuring the Child Within

https://www.flickr.com/photos/60740813@N04/34504735502/in/photolist-Uz4MJN-7H8hqz-r2covS-8wbGLH-8wcEVv-8weaum-8wcFMc-r2c6ww-r2iYrg-qmL3eU-8w9Dpr-r2jtjr-riJFWH-8wcT7A-8wcK8r-8wbRuV-8wcj84-8wanQx-8waPPT-8w9c4V-8w97ek-r2j3iV-riCAji-8w8skp-r2cTQq-8wfuwo-8waMUv-8wfDJJ-8wdgXY-qZq9cM-8wd2u3-8wfVzw-8wbq15-8w8bJP-8w9Wdc-8wcQdR-riF3r5-riJvW2-8wbTSq-r2cNH1-8wc6wN-r2d6wG-8wcM6o-r2jiHn-8wdexo-riJBiz-8bQ1eC-8wfeYo-riJJHV-8w9YqrWe go back to those feelings time and time again. Sometimes it’s a reaction, but others it’s because we’re trying to understand why we reacted that way in the first place. We know it defies logic, yet something inside ourselves says run away fast! Danger ahead!

When a child is scared, we don’t tell them:

“There’s nothing to be afraid of! Suck it up and deal with what you see right in front of you!”

Instead, we seek to reassure them what they are perceiving isn’t what’s really in front of them. Those innate responses inside us are no different. The frightened child created them and will continue to see an unchanged environment where a particular circumstance elicits fear, and even pain.

In short, we have to allow our inner child to express themselves before we can address what makes them fearful. We have to give them free rein to say whatever they feel without judgement; without question; without trying to fix them while they’re expressing their fears, shame, and hurt. When they feel safe talking about the heretofore unmentionables, we gain insight, not only into the basis of those conditioned responses, but the necessary steps towards assuaging the fears, healing the hurts, and gaining their trust.

I speak a lot about the dichotomy within ourselves; the child and the adult. Too many of us stifle the child, even denying their existence. Yet we’re unable to explain why time and time again, we react in the same manner, and can’t seem to stop ourselves from reacting. All I can tell you is what I’ve learned myself. We have to take the time to listen quietly. We have to allow triggers to bring forth strong emotions from deep inside ourselves. Only then can we effect a change; a healing which will replace the fear-and pain-based reactions with an ability to assess each situation independent of itself.

Our Greatest Tool is Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for my child within. She’s taught me a great deal about my self, my past, and my future.
  2. I am grateful for the ability to write without conscious thought. Many insights have come from my process.
  3. I am grateful for Julia Cameron and her morning pages. I have more than two years, and more than half a dozen notebooks filled with my thoughts, my frustrations, my pain, and a great deal of insight into the child who became the woman I am today.
  4. I am grateful for my ability to sit still and write, tuning the rest of the world out, and creating something I didn’t even know was there until I read it on the page after it’s done.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; opportunities, motivation, love, friendship, dancing, kitty love, joy, energy, Consciousness, 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

The Changing Face of Patriotism

Sullying the Name and Meaning of Patriotism

Created with CanvaSeeing USA or an American flag worn proudly emblazoned across someone’s chest, or embroidered on a cap used to make me feel good, and proud to be an American. Today, thanks to the “Make America Great Again” campaign cry, it gives rise to totally different emotions. Fear, disgust, embarrassment, sadness, and sometimes rage.

Like my previously unreconciled, and to some degree unwarranted negative feelings about Christianity, my mind focuses on the many heinous acts being wrought in the name of patriotism and I’m afraid, not just for future generations but those who currently identify with the United States of America. I see a nation dangerously divided by colliding ideologies which threaten to pulverize a foundation which has probably stood on shaky ground longer than I realize. A nation rotting down to its very core. The only glimmer of hope I see are those who are still making an effort to find and disseminate the truth amongst this pack of wolves who are fighting over the same dwindling and disease-ridden piece of meat. They do so at their own personal peril.

Corrupted by Power’s Unholy Grip

History has proven that power drives men mad. The more they have, the more they want, and they Created with Canvareach a point where they’ll stop at nothing to feed their unholy passion. Sadly, the list of casualties is growing, mostly among the innocents. The lust for power is, in my mind, no different than blood magick. It needs to feed on the pain and misery of others to grow stronger.

Personal power builds its foundation out of the bodies of innocents. Some of them, even sacrificing themselves willingly as they’re convinced the cause is right and just. Perhaps those fall harder and lose more in the end.

We have been a proud nation for more than 200 years, and maybe that’s why we’ve been so easy to subvert. After all, pride goes before a fall, right? We’ve seen ourselves as the greatest nation, yet how many of us can actually explain what that means, now, or at any time in the past? Other nations are better educated, have less poverty, better health care, and lower crime rates. Freedoms we consider unique are not only available elsewhere, but are, in all likelihood, better protected than they are here at the moment.

Loving Our Country, Warts and All

I won’t deny we are still a decent place to live, grow, and raise a family, but much of what we take for granted has eroded without our even noticing. In short, we’ve become a nation where passive oblivion is prevalent. Of course, I can’t speak for the circumstances in other countries as I’ve never visited those whose rankings are higher than ours. I know many of the social problems which exist here aren’t unique. How they’re addressed might be, and that’s not necessarily positive.

Created with CanvaThe trouble is, we’re allowing our patriotism to be fouled, and waving our flag is causing laughter and derision rather than respect. Where once we were counted on by those who needed help, I feel like the same ones who once took advantage of our philanthropy have become vultures circling our slowly dying carcass.

What makes a country great, when all is said and done? I think it’s the people working together to build something strong and resilient, but most of all, compassionate. The compassion is the mortar which binds the bricks together. It makes us one with each other rather than a bunch of islands floating on an unforgiving, storm-tossed sea. It helps those who are struggling so they can once again become an active part of the community.

Yes, We’re Broken, But Can We Fix Ourselves Before It’s Too Late?

In that regard, we’re broken, and our patriotic cries are little more than idle chatter mixed with bravado. People are dying every day from neglect, abuse, and downright hate. We live in neighborhoods where we don’t know most of our neighbors, and when new people move in, they are already hard-wired to self-isolate. It takes a major trauma to bring us together and believe me, the last two aren’t something I want to see repeated any time soon. Their positive effects wore off soon enough anyway.

You might think if you’ve read this far that I’ve given up all hope for our nation to come back together; to work as a team; to be a great, productive, compassionate community again. In fact, I believe just the opposite. I see people doing amazing things, and despite the derogatory comments made about this generation or that, those positive, uplifting acts know no age barriers.

Creating Artificial Segregation

https://www.flickr.com/photos/teosaurio/4532007943/in/photolist-7UtJ4Z-aEe3ow-WJ39bS-8DVH2Y-2fCdoh-WJ3ajU-cPPLob-XiUhyk-9FSfha-XiVmoH-pTtHPJ-9FVgHs-dj11wG-7YAKvu-2fCFt5-9FSFrg-9FSt6a-ehbYG9-Sogmvn-8Hdypm-mg6pMd-8aeYEN-dy1QrP-6xEfyW-29Q2zAo-XfdLz9-9FVdNG-Lan4E-2fCDpq-eAXV1n-9xz38L-9Wcsh7-9FTe1y-8DSzYc-Lan5j-i5cwaJ-9FRUSY-6M77YY-9FSmZK-22GwEJL-R6wJ3Q-8j1Nea-4ypw22-i5cthQ-p6KsUw-2nDi9-29x7g1F-Su3pkf-SjzMpE-2aR6Fo1Someone recently pointed out that the names given to various generations are meaningless anyway, and solely for the purpose of market research (thus the advertising industry and media put us in yet another choke hold). I tend to agree. I’ve been hearing complaints blaming one generation or another most of my life, and I have to cry bullshit.

There’s simply no justification for attributing a particular type of behavior to an entire group of people born within a given span of years. We are unique individuals who’ve grown up with our own cross-section of stimuli. Even two people raised in the same household, heck, even twins will respond to the stimuli differently and grow up with different values and expectations.

My own twin daughters are as different as it’s possible for two people to be. One is socially conscious to a fault, loving, giving, and compassionate. She takes responsibility for her actions, sometimes excessively, and finds pleasure in giving back. The other is, in a word, entitled. She believes the world owes her, that I am responsible for all the trials and tribulations in her life, and uses anger, venom, and manipulation to get what she wants. The first is by far the stronger of the two, though growing up, it seemed like she was the weaker, the more compliant. In truth the deep-seated anger in my youngest daughter hides a very soft, frightened little girl who is, much like I used to be, afraid to let people see she’s not as strong as she wants them to believe.

Disengaging Our Emotions So We Respond Instead of Reacting

My own experiences have taught me to step back as much as possible when confronted by anger, hate, or worse, the deep depressive sadness of those who’ve given up hope. I’m learning to listen carefully, not only to the words, but to the emotions so I can try to understand what has led them to their emotionally charged and often logic-less beliefs in the first place. Why do they distrust a certain cultural or religious group who’s done nothing to deserve that distrust. Why do they, in fact, lump everyone in that group together instead of realizing they’re individuals with their own unique set of beliefs, qualities, and faults?

Where is the truth embedded in a series of emotionally charged lies and half-truths, and why are we being encouraged to jump on one emotional runaway train after another these days? Our reality has gotten so painful, I find I can’t even watch some of the TV shows I used to any more. I recently deleted shows like NCIS and Major Crimes from my DVR after trying to watch one episode, and shutting it off halfway as it made me feel so sick.

Making the Choice to Create a Compassionate World

What kind of world are we creating? What kind of nation are we living in where reality is harder to take than fiction? Where we escape into thrill-based fiction to make our reality seem less ugly. And why do symbols of patriotism; once a source of pride and gratitude now make me feel somehow soiled and embarrassed?

It seems I need to spend more time watching and reading stories about people who are taking steps to make things better instead of accepting the reality or joining marches. If you ask me, all of the “little guys and gals” who are quietly doing things to improve morale or living conditions, or building communities are the ones who will turn the tide and make patriotism meaningful again. They’re the ones who will wash out the stains, mend the tears, and create what we once were and can be again; strong, resilient, and compassionate. “With Liberty and Justice for All” with no exceptions.

Finding Gratitude No Matter What

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful I can still speak my mind, even when it’s unpopular. Mine might not bring hate-filled messages like some who are standing up for inequities, but each voice for positive change matters.
  2. I am grateful for the insights I receive from seemingly innocuous stimuli.
  3. I am grateful for quiet days spent writing and thinking.
  4. I am grateful for a career which allows me to decide how I’m going to spend my day, and allows for a few side trips and distractions along the way.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, joy, harmony, compassion, freedom, productivity, opportunities, incentives, inspiration, motivation, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

Watch my Facebook Live about Patriotism.

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.

Where Are You Getting Your News?

Holding On To Outmoded Methods of Discernment

Emotions are a large part of the human psyche, but they were never meant to replace our brains. They’re a touchstone for some, internal guidance for others, but for many of us, something which makes us repeat old mistakes over and over because we’ve been programmed to avoid things we’ve long since outgrown needing to avoid. Old wounds left scars, but they didn’t take us back over what happened to arrive at a better solution. They simply put a scar in place which triggers avoidance behavior or worse any time we experience anything remotely similar to the original pain-filled experience.

It seems lately this is what people are using to pick sides in a volatile and self-serving political climate. Intentionally emotionally charged topics are at the forefront every single day, obscuring what really matters; we are all in this together, and by working together, we can make things better for all.

When News is Nothing More Than Spewing Propaganda to Incite the Masses

Which brings me to today’s topic, news sources. Maybe I’m not the best person to wax poetic on this topic as I eschewed all news agencies long ago. But then again, maybe I am. It’s no secret each one has its own political slant. People are going to listen to the ones which share their viewpoint more often than not. The problem is by doing so, everything we hear is slanted towards our beliefs, and gives us no chance to understand what drives the other side of the argument.

One night while waiting to get into our local dance hall, someone asked me whether I was still buying NIke products. Of course, a “discussion” about the right to take a knee during the National Anthem arose. I put the word in quotes because it was, except for one voice of reason (which wasn’t mine), more of a series of emotional outbursts than a discussion. It saddened me to see so many of my friends letting their emotions make their decisions, and realizing I’m not doing my part to improve the situation. Not that I’m immune, but those in power are stirring those emotions daily, and as long as we act and don’t think things through or do our own research, they have us by the proverbial short hairs.

We’re so busy in-fighting about stupid, emotionally triggered subjects that we’re letting the thieves clean out the banks, the stores, and every freedom we hold dear. It’s got to stop! We need to push our emotions back where they belong and re-engage our brains.

Opening Our Hearts and Minds

For example, when did people manage to separate the act of kneeling in church from kneeling during the National Anthem, seeing one as an act of respect and the other as tantamount to treason?

Jeremy Adam Smith  published a piece in Scientific American called “The Psychology of Taking a Knee”. In my opinion it is one of the best and most well thought out articles about both the reason for Colin Kaepernick’s misunderstood and misrepresented (for their own personal benefit) act of protest over police violence against blacks in particular. I urge you to not only read it in its entirety, but do so with an open mind and an accepting heart. It’s time we all made more than a token effort to understand beliefs which aren’t our own.

If you ask me, we’ve become a nation of lemmings, believing what we’re told by people we think we should continue to trust no matter how many reasons they give us for running the other way. It’s time to push past the walls of our own cognitive dissonance and realize a good part of our beliefs are based on either faulty or non-existent reasoning. Most of the time, instead of changing old beliefs with new facts, we take the easy road, and fall back on old beliefs, ignoring the reality that’s literally smacking us in the face.

Seeing the Light in the Media’s Darkness

https://www.flickr.com/photos/shan213/13959398126/in/photolist-RwnZWa-ayQgu1-amXuij-9KZfif-bJsTcF-dmiwBx-4LwPZS-ngxyJ3-amXunq-83AkxT-5nmCvL-ajRRF1-p726Pa-8hXzrj-WYoqBq-b3XtLV-gtT43-g2PFEr-ayVLip-6AUTqf-dZMYA2-b3XnVr-dMLMcs-dPtAeM-dC9uL-W1398F-5zxVfC-W13cbK-b3XsLF-WYowof-d5HvmS-ax8DQJ-RsJuww-bsRwtU-ni7c-S7xRBk-qHFZg7-W13cvT-7YXYc7-4geuqc-ax8Sof-SVd9Lv-4yeamM-cx5tVs-dPzfsJ-cYzr1J-SAoCFu-VdeFR1-ax5YN8-4o3RtnPersonally, I admire Nike for hiring Mr. Kaepernick to represent them despite the potentially negative https://www.flickr.com/photos/pvsbond/3477570009/in/photolist-6iispB-cTMR4f-F6qtRL-g25gqj-qnk8ek-721gcK-cTMNFu-gszkkM-cApCff-9nMRgW-orFCmu-asgdxf-9vgqRN-cTN4BU-ntm7Vj-iWoqWL-ruYcaN-hmuAUt-qDJY7g-4cyLgM-bbnbtT-bsTjtB-cTMMhE-boFaev-cTMNrQ-pC6YNZ-eMYwJ4-cTMScQ-cTMQKm-drV5oA-7Rfktm-9iQTqr-cTMNyY-8Hjoex-FzhCh2-9FuTL1-9HqAtM-cTMN3o-RWF1nm-cTMMxq-g2646E-qnjDfp-qnbDUh-5ht2kg-dK3zmi-drV2rE-cTMNbG-9ZxLax-gcrehS-cTMNiYimpact on their profits. It means a lot for a person or company with a fair amount of power (or in this case, financial assets) to back an unpopular viewpoint. People may be doing stupid things like burning shoes in protest of Nike’s decision. Yet they’re talking about it, and paying attention. It’s opening up conversations and inciting people like me to look past the hype and the political machinations to what’s behind a promising athlete essentially killing his career to stand up for what he believes is right.

There will always be people whose minds are closed and who believe they have all the right answers. We can’t help them, nor catch them when they go down in flames. But I believe there are enough of us who are at least ready to hear other points of view, but need to learn to take our own emotional responses out of the mix first.

Being One of the Baby Steps to Change

https://www.flickr.com/photos/genomegov/27861478565/in/photolist-36R456-TVEoV3-7Wybvd-4WUnY9-5fFekL-UxPtrE-JXsDow-JXsDFW-5xxC-i6g81S-pj2KGy-RqtEwb-3bW8wG-aiBE4-21HP7o-7WuXxi-a87gs-v23FG1-e5Ta5U-8hAaU2-7CJgqt-4RTmW-6VGoa4-21HP7G-bKycpP-bwDtbf-rBr5w5-Js2mU6-4RTmT-bKycvn-6nNpdg-dtid4-5hSULN-8qeqEZ-vi6Sx1-vi6iuY-v2adQn-vi6nRJ-vi5UuQ-v23BpL-umARN9-v23yrQ-umAZaJ-wkdd7E-daLc3v-bwDtvf-aLErhv-a3Giyp-9oXUVB-7S9ue4Change doesn’t happen in giant leaps most of the time. Instead, it’s tiny cracks in the impenetrable walls we build around ourselves. It’s opening our hearts just a little to something we’ve misunderstood, and trying to see something from another perspective. We can start by re-evaluating who and what we’re listening to and asking where and why they see things as they do. We can actively look for publications and sources which don’t share our perspective, looking for different interpretations of facts.

Instead of shutting down when we see something that confuses and confounds, we can open to the possibilities. Unless we’re stuck in a dark, dank rut of a comfort zone, we do so with other aspects of our lives. So why not use the skills we’ve learned to open our minds to things which we can’t immediately see as impacting us personally? In reality, we are all connected, so what impacts one, truly does impact us all. Think about that for a few moments.

Breaking Our Own Paradigms

I can only speak for myself in this, but know in the last couple of years I’ve altered my perceptions and pre-conceived notions on a wide variety of subjects. If a self-confirmed hermit like me can come out of her shell, interact more freely with people, and even do live videos, why is it such a stretch for others to make small changes, create tiny openings in beliefs that may seem hard-wired, yet can be changed with a little concerted effort?

Start small. Listen to an opposing viewpoint without immediately going on the defensive. Change news stations (if unlike me you’re still listening). Talk to friends who disagree with you and agree to hear each other out without showing disdain, raising your voice, or emotional outbursts. Or at least read the article I linked.

When you’re ready, branch out. Take one of your more emotional beliefs and the events or people linked to it. Search for articles and stories which take an opposing view and read them without criticism. Learn to accept that there is truth in every side of a story. The trick is to weed out the emotional triggers and biases so you can see the bald, unadulterated truth buried inside the rhetoric.

We’re sentient beings born with the ability to reason and discern. It’s time we rose above the apes and into that birthright again.

Gratitude for All We Have, and All the Possibilities

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for situations and circumstances that remind me to open my mind and stop being an ass.
  2. I am grateful for the lessons I learn both from watching others, and watching myself behaving badly.
  3. I am grateful for a circle of friends with varying beliefs, even if some of it frustrates me and even makes me want to cry.
  4. I am grateful for my talent for research, and the desire to dig deep into things others are accepting on faith these days. Faith is overrated all too often, I’ve found.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, client attraction, friends, joy, kitty love, happiness, morality and ethics (even if buried deep), peace, harmony, philanthropy, health, 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.

Memories Stored On Calendars

Memories Give Us Pause

Every year at this time, I write a post of remembrance, but this year is a little different. On September 10th, I began thinking about all the dates on the calendar which make me stop for a moment and remember, not necessarily what is good and right in my world, but what I’ve lost, and how it has impacted the woman I am today.

March 12th was my mother’s birthday. She would be 84.

December 27th was the day she took her life. It will be 25 years this December.

September 28th was my father’s birthday. He would have been 87 this year.

And September 11th—for most people, the day we remember when terrorists took down the World Trade Center with a passenger plane full of people, and targeted the Pentagon with another. But for me and my daughters, the memory is quite different, and far more painful because for us, it’s personal.

Our Personal Sadness

On September 11, 2003, my father wrote a note to his girlfriend, smoked one last cigarette, put a gun in his mouth, and pulled the trigger. His girlfriend and best friend found him a couple of hours later when he missed the daily check-in call from the girlfriend and wasn’t answering her increasingly frantic voice mails.

Some people read my words and assure me the anger will pass, and that diagnosis of Stage IV lung cancer he received 2 days before his death meant he wasn’t in his right mind. To them, I can honestly say, my anger over him leaving without saying goodbye to me, my daughters, my sister and my nephew has long passed. I understand why he did it. The only time I ever saw my father cry was after the long ordeal of watching his mother die of the same disease. In his position, I can’t say I’d have made a different choice.

At the time, I was less angry about the act, and more with the fact that it was just under 10 years since my mom had also checked out by her own hand. Her reasons have never really been as clear-cut as dad’s, but I’ve accepted the fact that she, too had her reasons. I’ve had nearly 25 years to learn, and at this point, probably millions of words I’ve penned to facilitate the healing process.

Time Heals, But Brings Clarity With It

My anger with my father takes a different direction now, and yet, it too is tempered with understanding. https://www.flickr.com/photos/14778685@N00/5620269958/in/photolist-9yDmsb-9wLFJL-psqyLM-9eAGhb-8JDGi-22seJFb-eSRPY9-iPbhs5-nG8C4Y-ar7VdX-5cMaFn-enkvir-bqUWhr-5cMehe-5cRtPA-5cMbV6-7JBXyM-9NcXFu-akjnB4-f24BV3-Y4j9hL-C7FKVi-VTy9k3-8kdguW-4rv5oP-bJ1Fkv-8nE69a-f3h27J-4uSagZ-coUiM3-NioBNY-8r29ho-6Tj8Fy-6sU9p1-dRZwBZ-UWF6WG-8nMjbJ-dY99M6-oFhtwA-f32MKz-RtLuuB-9gdY6g-8n6qjK-iebqgz-dS9hDW-UUq24S-bt2EvL-LynnF6-nUg6Ge-auC2dzI know he did the best he could with what he had and where he came from. In truth, I’m angrier with myself for playing his warped and twisted game for so long.

For most of my life, I was certain my dad not only loved me, but favored me over my sister. Maybe he did, but if so, it was for all the wrong reasons. My sister was wise to his manipulative games decades before I ever figured it out, and went her own way. She understood him better than I as she’s the one who is more like him. I mistakenly believed she favored mom until recently.

Both she and dad wore their cold, hard exteriors like armor, and used sarcasm as a shield. But there was (and in my sister’s case, probably still is) a level of bitterness beneath the armor which further shields from honest, messy emotions. As I’ve learned, though, it also shields from the good stuff; the love, joy, compassion, and empathy I’ve come to appreciate in myself.

Mom wore her heart on her sleeve, though she tried very hard to cover it up. Her efforts to belong, to fit in, to be accepted were often heartbreaking to watch. I hardened my own heart so I wouldn’t have to watch hers break over and over again. Maybe Dad did too?

A Conglomeration of All Who Came Before

As time goes on and the dates come and go bringing memories and new insights, I realize I’m a little like both of my parents, and a lot like neither. Much of the deviation though, has occurred in the last 10 years. Until then, I held everything in and stumbled through life with my feelings treated as unwelcome guests. That’s the way I was brought up, and the only way I knew.

But when I started writing; when the feelings I’d held in check at great cost came tumbling out onto the computer screen, I found a part of myself that resembled not only neither parent, but none of the family I’d once been close to either. I became an enigma, not because I had always been different, but because I was the first and maybe the only one to break out of the mold into which we’d all been cast.

I let go of the blame, the bitterness, and the need to hold a grudge. I forgave and learned to recognize the need to forgive myself most of all. Even now when I drag out old feelings and find they were buried in lies, I allow them to flow, then forgive all over again.

Letting My Pen Lance the Boils of My Hidden Emotions

https://www.flickr.com/photos/matt_rogers/32072645186/in/photolist-QS9G29-7jFGWM-jSSXTn-gWnnAn-7jKzg7-k1Q3Ez-49HGS-JaXYoH-6HUNQF-7jFHgR-nQzqNh-fzUL6w-hx2nML-a4N44-Z3xc8b-6ef9HF-aEXdio-m2HqQt-bBKzg2-kbdf3P-5Db73z-b7AkyD-6zJzQw-7dEU9V-ZDftY1-fY9zv8-7pBPUc-bmfwto-7eXMSj-9NdNPm-8EVVBC-6JNLK8-6nNaux-c28A2C-9atUf8-7oMuuJ-9YvpG-vdJj7-ecCm-8LJzww-eEd6oi-BQX1p-XZKjij-k1Q1px-E6Miuc-6zrveY-j2kDUf-7vaq24-7fnH1m-dDHfZsThe revelation about my relationship with Dad came during a free-writing session which began with a writing prompt. An otherwise benign prompt became a tear- and anger-filled rant about how badly he’d treated me all my life. It churned and boiled inside me for a little while. Now I realize he not only behaved as he’d been taught, but loved me as best he could. He made me strong and independent, maybe in the extreme. It has been up to me to find the balance. I had no good example to follow.

I’ve hypothesized I come from a long line of Empaths who closed themselves off rather than feel everything that bombarded them. The choice was made more from fear and lack of understanding than a lack of desire or inability to embrace the sensitivity and accept the responsibility this sometimes dubious gift requires.  More and more, I’m convinced that’s true. I’m certain Dad would have been a wreck trying to deal with all the angst I had as a teenager, or the misery I tried to hide during my marriage and divorce. He already knew how to close himself off, and used it to good purpose to protect his own delicate psyche. Mom spent her whole lifetime trying to fit in, yet always sensing negative thoughts and feelings, especially those directed at her personally.

Lack of understanding and an inability to filter out the negativity and even anger emitting from her close family must have been painful in the extreme. The alternate spirituality she tried to turn to and draw my sister into as well makes more sense as I continue clearing the muck from my own mind. In her own way she sought what I found when I learned, first to shield with outward facing mirrors, and later to filter with elemental assistance. My own early extreme shielding gives evidence to my early need to shut the outside voices and emotions off completely until I learned how to be selective about it.

Remembrance and Healing

The dates bring an upsurge of feelings and thoughts. But more than that, they bring opportunities for more healing, more understanding, and more forgiving. My parents weren’t perfect. Nobody’s are. But they weren’t horrific either. In some ways, they might have been ignorant to what they were doing to their offspring, but again, I think most parents are to some degree. They all do the best they can with what they’re given, and both of mine weren’t given a full toolbox in the first place. There were more empty spaces than full ones, and I don’t think they had a clue what was missing or how to find it. You can’t miss what you don’t know exists in the first place, right?

I’ve gone, in the last decade from angry to compassionate, to understanding to resigned, and a bunch of other things in between along the way. My journey won’t be done until I lay my own head down for the final sleep. That, too is as it should be.

We learn, we grow, we become stronger, and we become lighter Beings because of the experiences we have and how we learn to adapt and thrive from each one. When we allow the journey to continue unthwarted and to share what we’ve learned along the way, no matter how painful, we shine a light for others to follow, and perhaps learn and grow themselves. Throwing up walls as I did for so many years put the process on hold, and perhaps even gave me additional barriers to cross and lessons to learn.

I don’t regret any of the challenges life has thrown me. I don’t think I’d have ever come out from behind my walls without the gigantic kick in the pants my parents’ suicides gave me. I was lodged pretty solidly and needed what amounted to a volcanic eruption to get out of my own way. It wasn’t pretty, but then, most eruptions aren’t. It was exactly what I needed to become the person I was meant to be.

No regrets, no anger, no blame, and no illusions.

Infinitely Grateful For What I’ve Been Given; The Good, The Bad, and The Horrific

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the lessons I’ve been given; the easy and the painful, they all made me grow.
  2. I am grateful I can take what I’ve learned and share it with others who might need to hear what I have to say.
  3. I am grateful for understanding friends, and even virtual strangers who find value in the sharing of my own life’s convoluted path.
  4. I am grateful for the ability to write at length on things which at one time (and sometimes still do) reduce me to a puddle of tears and misery. Only by continually wading through the emotional swamp can I clear it and make the land clean and ready for fresh growth.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; caring friends, loving children, a life that’s as people-y or non-people-y as I want it to be, days of quiet contemplation, joy, time spent with friends where love flows, and sadness is shared, inspiration, motivation, peace, health, harmony, 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.

Re-directing and Releasing Negative Childhood Memories

Revisiting Negative Memories

While meditating the other day (yes, I know you hear this a lot, but some of my best ideas and greatest epiphanies come when my mind is relaxed) I chanced to wander the highways and byways of my childhood. In particular, I revisited all the negative memories I’d amassed concerning my mother. It occurred to me I do myself no good dwelling on them, but how do you erase decades of fossilized memories so they remain in the past, no longer impacting life as we now know it?

https://www.flickr.com/photos/gardener41/3981658694/in/photolist-74R3pQ-guBZra-9PAmFk-guBXEK-BmHigo-cnYGjs-onz542-gwdK8d-pChZkR-iVWveU-7ffW28-onyS39-gweuL7-onqbuh-ep3v1L-guBWAR-PKA3v-5ajFhY-aehBcL-asKqSq-BmHd6o-cjti4m-2WXcJr-oUH75q-8L7f6R-4Trbay-EuZSD-5qJE3t-pkMfTM-9PDc6W-57WDEo-ozJcfu-LD6AKH-716zoJ-oDDfTg-p2KdNQ-oC2Q3A-5ajVHq-2JUWn-oFPpnR-8fkhzd-4atQKj-8J2KMa-8J2Mqp-5qJE1B-CABft1-6Kk3do-4MHcAV-6JaPZU-asKivWAs my mind continued to drift, a balloon which had escaped from a tiny fist, another memory arrived. It was my earliest memory of reading with my mom. I was 4 years old and we were sitting on the L-shaped white couch in the living room of our house in Reseda. We held “Charlotte’s Web” on our laps while I read aloud, looking to her for guidance when I came upon an unfamiliar word. I don’t know how many days we spent sitting in that position, laughing and crying over the escapades of Wilbur, Charlotte and the rest of the barnyard residents. I do know it launched a lifelong passion for reading and writing.

Changing Course

It occurred to me that the way to erase, at least the recurring nightmare of some of the other memories was to pluck them like weeds, then quickly fill the hole with more pleasant memories so they’d be unable to grow back. Up until then, it had never occurred to me that simply removing a memory wasn’t enough. We had to replace it with something better.

That’s not to say we actually cut out part of our minds so the unpleasant memory doesn’t return. We simply overlay it with something that brings us joy instead of sadness, pain or fear. It seems to be working, as whatever thing I was remembering before I plucked it and replaced it with the “Charlotte’s Web” memory is no longer retrievable.

The Feeling Part of Memories

Now, you’re probably asking how it’s possible to consciously eradicate a memory, and you’re right. It doesn’t seem feasible. But let me explain. Memories instill more than just a visual recording of an event. In fact, the visual is often the least enduring. We get feelings and emotions from those events which are harder to release.

For example, as a child, you dropped a plate of food on the floor. Did your parents scream at you and berate you for your clumsiness? Did they launch into a lecture about how expensive it was to feed the family, and the cost of the meal you ruined? If so, the shame you felt while they ranted and raved stuck with you like a burr in the fabric of your psyche. Events later in life trigger, not so much the memory of the plate you dropped and the meal you ruined, but the shame you were made to feel as a result.

By replacing one memory picture with another, we’re not changing the picture. We’re releasing the negative feelings; planting new seeds as it were. So it is with memories of my mom. Some have already been released and replaced through the process of writing about my memories. Others pop up via triggers in my present life. But now I stop and evaluate the negative, unpleasant feelings.

Deep Down, We All Choose Happiness

I don’t want to feel uncomfortable, so I look for ways to replace those feelings with something, if not pleasant, at least constructive. I know eventually, I’ll be able to replace the constructive feeling with a pleasant one as it’s a shorter energetic leap.

There’s a lot of talk about shifting your mindset these days. What I think it really boils down to is deciding how you want to feel, then becoming conscious of the things that trigger feelings not in alignment with your desire. Since the most deeply seated ones come from your childhood and teenage years (oh the angst!) it might take some practice to separate the root issue from the knee-jerk reaction.

Peeling Back the Layers

We humans are as multi-layered as an onion. Understanding why we react as we do to certain things https://www.flickr.com/photos/gcaspers/3674508861/in/photolist-6AGPt4-9XPdGp-9AfZYv-asnfWg-2j1go4-7UukPU-a2XVdU-NqoUQ-dbkFUe-a2XRDb-6nnHrK-9EBf9b-9xemFj-cucYQS-cud1JC-cucV5Q-cucW5f-9GVbUK-9XS6cJ-53kCM9-8dXRc-ctMcPj-crXsXw-cutJfu-a3bJ56-9XS6GA-aspUtj-a3bRmp-rjDGsd-cudgUJ-9xeGYS-ctNGF1-cutroo-crYSB9-a2UPPe-crYbPw-6ZUrTn-cutJYm-jCRHS-cutQqA-csxxsh-sabp4u-aspXws-a3fFX5-cutPDh-dmd5Ze-asnkuX-cykHmj-9xAUFm-cutrGUoften requires a deep dive into things we’ve tried to forget. Yet therein lies the foundation for our beliefs, our fears, and our self-image, wrapped up in a not-so-tidy ball of emotions. My own process began over 20 years ago, and I’m continually uncovering new layers I didn’t even suspect existed. Only now are some of those layers proving to be rooted in my earliest years. I’m just beginning to find the place where the strings I’ve untangled are embedded in my psyche.

Many of the emotional triggers we set as children are built and expanded on as we become more connected with the rest of the world. Every time someone hurts us, every time, we suffer disappointment, every time we fail, those emotional triggers find more justification, more reason to exist. They become our reality, albeit a falsely constructed monument to our coping mechanisms. Often we don’t even remember why we react as we do.

Getting to the Bottom of the Perceived Failures

Recently, I bought a cake to have a small celebration of my daughter and son-in-law’s 6th anniversary. My daughter the baker removed the cake from the box and, no malice intended, began picking apart the decorating techniques of the grocery store employee who’d done the cake. I brushed it off, and even contributed a few comments of my own.

A few minutes later, with maybe half of the cake cut and served, a woman as known for her baking prowess as my daughter brought over a beautiful strawberry shortcake and some cups of mousse. One of the women who sits at the table next to me every week had missed the celebration planned for her a couple nights previously, so this was a make-up. But as soon as her cake hit the table, and everyone had sung “Happy Birthday” it was as if my daughter, son-in-law, and I no longer existed.

I already felt a little bad at the poor quality of the cake, augmented by my daughter’s repeated query “why didn’t you ask me to make the cake?” Suddenly, the air was sucked right out of my joy balloon. I danced the next couple of sets in a fog, my usual ebullience notably missing. I drove home in silence, focused only on getting us home safely, and cancelled my regular “Live with Sheri and Friends”. I had no interest in talking to anyone. I just wanted to be alone with my blue funk.

Taking Time to Query Yourself

In a lot of cases, being alone might have been the worst choice. In this one, it worked out well because it made me see the long string of disappointments I’d had in organizing parties or group events. So many times, I’d plan something and send out invitations, only to have maybe 3 or 4 people actually show up. Or I’d throw something together and be disappointed at the results which might have been better with a little more planning and effort.

Not until the recent addition of our annual after Thanksgiving dinner was I able to, with my daughter’s help, put together an event people actually wanted to attend, and looked forward to. That’s when I realized I could overlay the way I felt about all the failed attempts with the joy I feel about our Thanksgiving feasts.

Finding the Road to Happiness

The beauty of it all lies in the fact that we re-route our feelings for multiple events when we re-route one. The emotions we feel are, by the time we reach adulthood, a composite of things which brought the same response. Change one, change them all. Though it’s not quite that simple as many events contain multiple emotional charges, the idea is valid. We clear one negative emotional charge, replacing it with something positive, and each connected event, no matter how convoluted, holds less power over us in the future.

What’s one emotional trigger you can defuse? Where is a positive outcome and a joyful response you can use to fill the hole? It doesn’t have to be something big. You’ll probably recognize it as a minor thing which brings you down whenever it executes by virtue of a similar event or feeling. Share your efforts in the comments. What you learn helps not only yourself, but those of us you share it with. You’ll see an angle we might have missed.

 

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for my meditational epiphanies.
  2. I am grateful for new triggers which bring me joy instead of sorrow.
  3. I am grateful for new opportunities which appear when I least expect them.
  4. I am grateful for new perspectives.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; joy, incentives, opportunities, epiphanies, love, companionship, peace, health, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She specializes in creating content that helps 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

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