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

Posts tagged ‘foundation’

The Invisibility of Emotional Abandonment

Healing Abandonment Issues

Created with CanvaThe last few months have brought a series of epiphanies which, when I finally connected the dots made me realize I had abandonment issues. Yet, a thorough review of my last 60-odd years revealed no particular incident when someone abandoned me—or so I thought.

Further review of my personal time line told another story. Sure, I haven’t been physically abandoned in the literal sense. The abandonment issues in my personal history are something I hadn’t even considered. They all occurred on an emotional level. It could explain why I found them so easy to stuff down inside—to deny their existence.

My mother, who had a history of being emotionally abandoned herself, always told me I was the more difficult child. In retrospect, of course I was. I was the first child who lived (her first pregnancy ended in miscarriage), and I’m not sure she was emotionally prepared to be a mother in the first place. At 21, she’d never lived alone. She went from her mother’s house to her husband’s apartment, but only after the ring was on her finger.

History Repeats Itself if You Let It

Sure, it was a different time, but I know from experience there’s a lot to learn 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-8w9Yqrabout living on your own, and having kids right away doesn’t make it easier. In my mom’s case, she didn’t even know how to cook, and learned on her own rather than asking for her mother’s help. Barely 2 years and one miscarriage later, she had me to deal with as well; a helpless baby who demanded more of her time than she knew how to give.

By the time my sister came along 2 1/2 years later, she’d made her share of mistakes, but learned a lot too. Of course my sister was an easier child! She was born to an experienced mother!

It didn’t help when I contracted Scarlatina which led to a penicillin allergy before I was 5. Add to that, a blindness scare at 10 before they realized I was susceptible to ocular migraines, a legacy from my dad and his mom. So if my mother shut down emotionally to protect her own shaky sanity, I can see now she did it for good reason, if not in my best interests.

Searching for the Love I Needed

https://www.flickr.com/photos/gastaum/14490581818/in/photolist-o5u28y-YfsirJ-k8x7MM-bxbe69-W1rTYx-arWoEp-9hSaAd-ahFY4U-dUPFnv-cbTML-9dRrhQ-nNcDz4-W1scJn-6Q5kQB-aPHuVt-dF2PfA-qsan3a-9Q3GD-7puXf-ca3kUb-8Qnh5S-7EPcJ1-9RZQ7L-2jv27s-3ytNAS-4Ax3Vm-7P6ms6-fLeJCZ-9eA4z4-dUzmHi-dJ2ajE-4s4eeJ-9ZWATV-4Ax3K3-6459Qr-r7YPq9-7ZBske-3ypqPa-7yi435-9uRzwZ-kdLtng-2c5brCn-HLfJSP-qTk7jd-oSdAwv-pNeYXi-3fqAZV-5btNtn-72Kth6-V4V7jqLacking my mother’s love, I spent years trying to earn the love and affection from a man who, quite frankly, hadn’t been trained to give it. Until my grandmother died when I was 12, she and my grandfather were deeply immersed in each other. Their kids, my dad and his sister, got whatever was left. Affection was typically communicated with sarcasm and ridicule.

As I look back, no matter how hard I tried to measure up to my dad’s expectations so I could earn a love which should have been given simply because I was his child, he’d always set the bar a little higher than I could reach. In the end, he loved me as best he could, but for a shy, introverted, little girl with zero self-confidence, it wasn’t enough.

I grew up imitating my dad. But I wasn’t nearly as good at it as he, and made a lot of poor choices in my desperation to be loved and accepted. I vacillated between hardening my outer shell and playing chameleon for decades until the shell started breaking down and I began making drastic changes.

Learning the Difference Between Seeking and Allowing

The first was to divorce my alcoholic and emotionally abusive husband. Yes, I’m https://www.flickr.com/photos/134921587@N06/23686767022/in/photolist-C67SAS-ctvgV1-oTB61e-G23PMn-21xTKc-qJZokP-BitVnD-ctvjEb-ctv2Wo-C86UJi-5yyHup-dGchk9-ctvkoG-8smaT9-Hb9D9-bCMY61-ctvDdJ-fjCHU-DjAHuB-a7ZNLt-qGVeSr-sp457s-RLx6vm-62Xk7K-qfydfc-FFnBTk-ewnTH9-ctvqbf-pYhS7Z-agphz5-2eWFpQN-dGcfxE-bRGHjR-piX8Sk-piJE7f-ctvJCN-oh53V-bRGHxt-bRGJ5r-qfGLzR-qfEkx7-piHFu7-qyFAYh-oh4KB-oh5Y5-ctuKBf-fjDom-fjDY6-CRBBws-9aV9yxanother statistic; a woman who marries a man similar to her most damaged parent; in this case, my mom, in hopes of fixing what’s broken and earning the love she was denied. Trust me, it’s a battle that can’t be won.

What followed was a series of fits and starts. I hid inside my self-made cave, pretending I needed no one for several years. I had a couple of emotionally bankrupt relationships before giving up dating for what would ultimately last more than 20 years. Still, I knew I wasn’t meant to live without love. But experience hadn’t taught me what it really looked like, much less, how to go about finding it.

Connecting With My Spirituality and Self-Love

When I was introduced to “The Secret” I felt an almost physical shift. At first, it affected my own self-image and drove me to read more and more about fixing myself. I now have a shelf full of books ranging from “Laws of Attraction” to Kabbalah. Some have helped me more than others, but I’m not done learning.

The walls came down, the shell shattered. I’ve opened up to people and changed my social circle a time or seven. The most significant change I’ve seen is people opening up to me. Therein lies the biggest hole in my earlier years.

Breaking the Legacy and Removing My Masks

My parents, and everyone around me were a series of constantly smiling masks. No one shared their true self, and everyone was damaged in some way; some far more than others. It was a world where you either pretended your world was perfect, or faced ridicule and disgust from those around you. Broken was considered ugly. Vulnerable was weak.

By the time I figured it out, I’d seen first-hand what it cost to keep those masks in place. I’d had a few melt-downs myself, in the privacy of my own home. My mother had had the ultimate meltdown, swallowed a bunch of sleeping pills and laid her masks down for good. A few years later, my dad made a similar choice, using a gun instead of pills. He, too put down the masks and lowered the walls after a lifetime of holding them in place, sometimes out of sheer stubbornness. I have to wonder if there were times when the hold was tenuous, and his mood bordered on desperation.

Building on a Strong, Supportive Foundation At Last

Lest you think this is an excuse for a pity party, let me assure you, it’s quite the opposite. Lacking a strong emotional foundation, I had to figure out how to erect one of my own. I learned in the process it’s not something you do in a vacuum.

I’ve learned to gather around me strong, supportive friends who are able to share their own times of need, and reach out to me. The foundation I’ve built is not just my own strengths shoring up internal weaknesses. It’s built on what I’ve been able to offer my friends, but more important; what they’ve been able to offer me.

We are stronger for the people we’re able to give to and accept from. None of us have everything we need to build our foundation, any more than we have every skill, or all the knowledge we need to live a successful, fulfilled life. My parents never figured that out, nor did theirs. I was given the opportunity to change the pattern. I was also given a daughter who, like me, wanted to see it change.

We’ve each made changes in our own ways, but have also built our own communities, both together and separate. It may have begun with unrecognized emotional abandonment, but if you ask me, what it’s grown into was (almost) worth the tough lessons I had to learn alone.

Making Gratitude a Daily Practice

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the life I was given; all the hills and valleys, smooth roads, and potholes. I’ve learned and I’ve grown from the challenges.
  2. I’m grateful for the friends who even now are patient with me when I knee-jerk and crawl back into my hole. They know when to push and when to let me be to figure it out.
  3. I’m grateful for dancing which, in it’s own way, forces me to get out of my shell and out from behind the walls.
  4. I’m grateful for the writing which has allowed me to safely express things until I was ready to share more openly. And for the people it’s brought to me for the sharing.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, friendship, sharing, vulnerability, joy, dancing, motivation, inspiration, support, community, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats, and mental health. 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
 

Choosing to Enjoy This Month of Chaos

You Say Chaos Like It’s A Bad Thing

I was thinking of the term “chaos” and how it can be seen as a negative where everything blows up and is destroyed, or as a positive whereby we’re shaken from our doldrums as pieces are tossed around and reassembled in unique ways we might never have discovered had we maintained the status quo. I’ve always had an affinity for The Tower in the Tarot because I saw it, not as destroying everything, but as a clearing of ground to rebuild on a stronger, more resilient foundation.

Sometimes, we have to shake up our lives to rearrange things for the better. And sometimes, the The Tower from the Spiral TarotUniverse does the shaking for us, either by pulling the rug out from under our feet, shredding our safety net, or putting us in a place where we have to make a choice whether we like it or not.

According to the Power Path School’s December forecast, creatives often weather chaos better than others, perhaps because we don’t define ourselves by a rigid set of rules. As a pantser rather than a plotter, I’m not only used to a certain amount of randomness in my life, but in fact, thrive on the unexpected plot twists and outcomes most of the time.

Setting Our Sights And Allowing

In some ways, I’ve trained myself to detach from the outcome. Instead, I toss my balls into the air, https://www.flickr.com/photos/jessicamullen/15936340893/in/photolist-qheUWa-6tvCyC-mfcahW-kF42vg-7aHRKn-dozSYs-upc1JR-5nU36i-6ZX1X8-9soFsZ-b6p5F2-dKgSFh-9soP3r-9GGyf-edzaxy-dKgQLq-4oLacT-9z49UC-aBS6db-kF5mTy-dbhFbp-83VBDF-JGdSxG-dKgR3q-dKbnZX-kF3i5M-kF2WWF-25sqyfg-kF3het-dKgU63-7121pw-dKbnLT-6ZXghB-7aMFFo-6ZXfye-a6G8a6-26PQPAR-ceZ3mw-7aF5cr-7aHRUn-kF3FwP-dKboVp-dKbj4F-3jqo8-dKbmgk-kF5cCu-dKgPvE-edzags-dKbjKc-dKbjtVoblivious to the force or direction of the wind, and trust they’ll fall exactly where they’re supposed to. If I’ve gained nothing else from the training, it’s a more stress-free life.

It doesn’t mean I don’t get thrown for a loop at times; a washer breaks down, a cat needs to go to the vet, I’m distracted and get caught speeding and have to pay a hefty fine. But now I don’t spend a lot of time stressing out over how I’m going to pay for it. If I have to put it on a credit card temporarily, I do it and do my best to avoid looking at the balance. I can only do what I can do, after all.

Meanwhile, I dream my dreams and set my goals, revisiting them frequently, not to try to control my trajectory, but to add details to make the outcome more real and emotion-packed. Then I turn it back over to the winds and allow them to toss the pieces around, breaking apart, rearranging, and ultimately building a better mousetrap than anything I could have cobbled together if left to my own devices.

Is It Fate, or Guidance?

Created with CanvaYou might ask “are you giving yourself over to fate, then; taking whatever you’re given, nothing more, nothing less?” The answer to that isn’t a simple yes or no. Imagine scattering colored chips across a map. some fall completely randomly, colors mixed up and in complete chaos. But some will fall in pockets of same-colored chips. Those formations are like a roadmap because they draw our attention by their seeming lack of randomness.

I look at my process as much the same. The places which seem to have some cohesiveness are pointing me towards the next step in my path; the next set of challenges I need to undertake in order to move closer to my goals. I could choose to ignore those signs and continue to drift around. That, too is a choice. Or I could pay attention and follow the path that’s laid out before me, trusting when I’ve accomplished the necessary tasks, another sign will appear showing me the way to my next set of challenges, meanwhile, bringing me still closer to those goals.

Listening to the Voices Within

In the process, I’ll likely fine-tune my goals as I get a clearer picture of the steps I need to take and the choices I need to make. But that’s the reason behind setting the goals and allowing the hows, the paths to show themselves to me. It means there are times when I’ll drift along, seeming to be riding a current not of my making. There are others where I’ll have to jump out of the current and dive head first into something I’m not entirely sure I can handle, but trusting help will arrive when I need it to keep me from going under.

Thus, I’m like the willow tree which bends and flexes in a storm, but doesn’t break though the wind flings it’s bows hither and yon. At times, I’m smacking myself in the face, or so it seems, because my limbs defy any attempt at control. Others, I stand still and unmoving, appearing to be waiting, but in fact, listening carefully for the next message, or quietly performing tasks which, to the outside world seem meaningless and mundane.

Embracing Opportunities to Accept Help

One of my biggest lessons has been learning to request and accept help. Only by following the trail of breadcrumbs will I find myself in situations where I have an opportunity to exercise what I’ve been learning. Only by practicing patience (another lifelong lesson) will I know when the time is right to ask and receive.

I had an opportunity to see those lessons bear some pretty wonderful fruit when my daughter, son-in-law and “adopted” son put together our 4th annual after-Thanksgiving feast. We all have our tasks to do, but in years past, I was the focal point for directing where things went and how they were placed. This time, I focused on my own responsibilities, gave instructions about what I wanted, and left it to the others to make it happen. The results were far better than the pictures in my head. Though I discovered later that as usual, I’d failed to put some of the food and drink I’d bought or made for the occasion out, nobody noticed the lack. Instead, everyone talked and laughed, and enjoyed each others’ company, which was the point of the event in the first place.

To the outside world, the four of us might have resembled a Chinese fire drill, running around, dodging furniture, and getting in each others’ way. But in reality, it was a finely tuned dance not unlike the wind tossing leaves into the air, to bring them down in beautiful patterns of brown and gold on lawns, roof tops, and sidewalks.

Breaking Down the Old, Rotted, and Obsolete

I’m looking forward to a chaos which will invariably knock down a few ancient structures leaving space to build stronger, more resilient foundations and structures in their place. The rigidity of my past has no place in my future. I’ll have enough to keep me busy stepping up to the next set of challenges without wasting time worrying about where to step next. I put my trust in the chaos which will clear a path for me when it’s time to move forward again. In the meantime, I am building my foundation and creating habits which will make me better able to weather the coming storms. Those storms are going to blow away a lot of debris which, even now, is cluttering my life and creating an obstacle course between me and what I need to do to make those dreams a reality.

Are You Ready to Embrace the Chaos?

How do you deal with chaos? Do you throw up your hands and look for someone or something to blame? Do you grab a shovel and a rake and start clearing the rubble so you can see what you have to work with? Do you work alone or grab a few friends to help make the job go quicker and the task seem lighter?

The way you choose to manage unexpected plot twists will determine your attitude and mood in the coming weeks and months. Of one thing I’m certain. The world is changing. The old, rigid, myopic ways which have been eroding slowly for decades are now being subjected to earthquakes and landslides which will either test their mettle or send them crashing down in a million tiny pieces. Only those willing and able to alter their course will ride this storm successfully. And by the way, bonus points for team work!

Immensely Grateful

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the lessons I’m finally learning; patience, community, asking for help.
  2. I am grateful for being able to look at the coming storms through the eyes of a child, wide-eyed with wonder, and excited about the possibilities.
  3. I am grateful for finally recognizing and appreciating what happens when I let go and allow others to play a part too.
  4. I am grateful for my community, my friends, my family. They teach me new things all the time.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, life, friendship, joy, peace, harmony, productivity, insights, inspiration, motivation, 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.

January 2, 2015 What is it about The Tower Tarot card that freaks people out?

I seem to be in the minority, but I always feel excited when I see The Tower in a spread.

So many people see The Tower in a spread and immediately turn into Poe’s Raven, calling “Doom! D49a1d-tower-card16oom!” and trying to find a way to soften impending disaster. I may be considered hopelessly positive, but I actually feel energized and challenged when this card shows up. I see it as a card which indicates a cleansing, either voluntary or involuntary, but from which the querent will arise with a strong foundation on which to build anew. A foundation which has been cleared of a whole bunch of baggage which was keeping them from realizing their true potential. In short, I see it as a card of tremendous opportunity. 

Sometimes, we get so comfortable where we’re at that we fail to realize we’re stagnating. Sure, we get clues all the time, but we can rationalize them away when we’re comfortable. That’s when I see the Tower coming into our lives, telling us that either we stir things up ourselves or something will happen to get us off of our butts and moving forward again. I’ve seen it time and time again in my life. Sometimes, I’d see it coming and take pre-emptive action, but others, I’d get blind sided.

Fortunately, I’ve never been much of a victim, and even when I was, it didn’t take long for me to see what I was doing and shake my own world until I saw the stupidity inherent to the path I trod. Even at my lowest point, I readily admitted that what, on the surface looked like a disaster really was the kick in the butt I needed to get out of a place that wasn’t in my best interests.

Honestly, which is easier: To shake your virtual fist at all of the bad luck, karma or juju you’ve suffered or learn from the life’s setbacks so the next one doesn’t knock you on your keester quite as hard?

I have a particularly hard spot for the “woe is me-ers” and the “doom and gloomers”. Listening to someone whine and complain about the same thing over and over, yet never taking it upon themselves to change it will set off my BS meter faster than anything. Unfortunately for the whiner, this also tries my already poorly contained patience and often means I unintentionally hurt their feelings. Frankly, if I were keeping score, I’d say that made us even: 1 for them for trying my patience, 1 for me for insensitivity to their tender feelings.

But my goal in life is not to misuse people, so I’ve learned to simply walk away when those red flags, bells and whistles warn me that I’m in the presence of a Negative Nellie; someone who wraps their negativity around them like a security blanket and for whom complaining is a way of life. There are people who can function well around these people. I admit it. I’m not one of them. More than once, I’ve failed to stop myself from saying rather rudely “Either do something about it or quitcherbitchin’!”

OK, so Social Worker is definitely not my calling. I just believe that we make our own way and even when the chips are down, we need to see it through because those tough times teach us a lot more than the easy ones. Universe, please note, I am not asking for more adversity. I’m simply acknowledging the fact that I learn something when I have to work for it!

At any rate, we all have “Tower moments” in our lives when it seems like the walls are tumbling down around our ears, whether it’s a marriage going to hell, a job loss, a death in the family or a million other things which make us batten down the hatches, ride out the storm and clean up the mess afterwards. Invariably, they happen because we need to move and are holding onto things which no longer serve us (yes, even family deaths). When my mother committed suicide, it really was a huge release for me. I had a ton on my plate at the time, and her overtly judgmental ways and, in hindsight, extra needy behavior were getting close to pushing me over the edge. Her death was just enough pressure release to allow me to keep moving forward. In the two years after her death, I was laid off from my job of seven years and finally saw the end of my lengthy divorce. In both cases, they were Tower moments and things changed and I had to adapt.

Where would the human race be if we had not been faced with adversity and forced to adapt or die? What kind of wimpy, useless race would we be? We certainly would not have outlived the dinosaurs, defeated Hitler or developed creatively the master vs. beginnerway we have. Sure, we’ve ignored things like preservation of our environment, but not forever. Who’s to say whether we’d have come this far had we worried about our world as much as we should have? Who’s to say that causing the damage then coming back and having to figure out how to repair it wasn’t part of the plan in the first place? The greatest people in the world made a ton of mistakes before they succeeded. I don’t have the audacity to believe that I get to avoid all of the pieces of the process they endured before I find my own success, whatever that might be. 

A couple of people shared this today, and I have to agree. The secret to success is no secret at all. You need to get up every morning, push those doubts to the side while you down that cup of coffee and put some effort in! If you just sit under a tree and wait, you’re just as likely to be hit by a bolt of lightening.  Failure is really a learning curve in disguise.

It is, however, time for me to step down from my soapbox and express my gratitudes.

1. I am grateful for my soapbox, and grateful that I know when it’s time to give it a rest.
2. I am grateful for the adversities which have made me stronger.
3. I am grateful for my lack of patience as it pushes me away from people who drain my battery.
4. I am grateful that the unplanned days of rest are making my back happier. I look forward to resuming my normal activities.
5. I am grateful for abundance: points of view, intelligence, inspiration, motivation, love, beauty, challenges, spirit, friendship, harmony, peace, joy, health and prosperity.

Blessed be.

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