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Posts tagged ‘#grief’

Viewing Mom’s Suicide From Dad’s Point of View

The Man I Didn’t Know, the Point of View Not Considered

For the last few years I’ve written at length about my own healing journey following the suicides of my parents, the familial wounds it brought up and the processes I’ve learned to not only cope, but reach an understanding of mom’s life and reasons for leaving when she did. I thought I’d come to terms with dad’s more obvious reasons (health-related) until recently when other aspects of our relationship rose up and bit me in the butt.

What I never considered was how dad was coping in the 10 years between his and mom’s deaths—until now.

In the back of my mind I vaguely recall him getting a prescription for anti-depressants. To be honest, I had enough problems of my own between my divorce, my 6-year-old daughters who’d just lost their only grandmother, and trying to at least appear to be a normal, functioning adult. Once the details of the funeral were worked out and I’d helped clear out my mom’s clothes and a large part of her kitchen, I left my dad in the hands of his close friends. At least he had some.

We Often Hide The Most From Those We Love

Aside from finding his wife’s cold, dead body in the bed they’d shared for over 40 years, I’d have said dad was in better shape to cope with the aftermath than his eldest daughter. He had close friends who didn’t run away or have vapors over losing his wife to suicide. To my knowledge, the only ones who asked stupid, insensitive questions were the same family members who removed themselves from my life for over two decades.

I know dad stayed in contact with some of them for awhile, but as I wasn’t making an effort to keep in touch, didn’t see a reason to ask him about them. I was neither ready, willing, nor able to defend my mother or her actions to them. I certainly didn’t need to listen to people speculating or drawing unkind conclusions in my presence.

Living With Constant Reminders

Looking back now from a place where many of the demons have been put to rest, I realize I’m https://www.flickr.com/photos/chrisyarzab/40513877112/in/photolist-24J5dbC-xLBnC-qDMybP-8uuvzF-er1tf-8S5Btn-5NYfwV-LihYBt-g4kBQ-S442nL-ceYb9U-g5JpWL-jTQZz6-cfHP9u-fauq5P-ahCCN2-isiMDz-6ViLeY-2EJXG4-HC2MUT-BU26S-5jegSL-VYGMA1-5j9Xzn-eB4adY-nBPSrp-5j9ZhH-dkoQLa-nbdfPZ-4FD4L1-dZ3Vjx-mbSGYM-dsW4Bs-6w75Kx-7sZRqK-8KRTG2-Mysc7N-LM2cLA-eXrUyD-faz3Az-dAR84B-8S8Fa7-7hKbWd-pYwhq-z2MhH-6jxdb7-261SwZS-ee4Pp7-vv8vw-8TKhq3guilty of abandoning my dad when he probably could have used my support. And yet, by his very nature, he’d taught me not to offer. So I ignored the cries for help as they came from a place so rusty with disuse, they were barely audible to the most sensitive of ears. Where my dad was concerned, mine had long been desensitized at his insistence. He didn’t know how to reach out to me any more than I knew how to recognize a need and reach out to him.

Still, I wonder how he was able to remain sane while living in the last house they’d shared, and sleeping in the bed where she’d died. Mom’s presence in everything he saw and touched were a constant reminder of what he’d lost and where he most likely believed he’d failed.

I suspect for awhile it was touch and go and he spent a lot of sleepless nights either in his recliner, on the couch, or in the guest room where my daughters used to sleep when they visited. None of the options could have been comfortable for him at 6’1″ but the bed he never saw fit to replace had to be more uncomfortable, if for different reasons.

Coping in the Only Way He Knew How

Dad had always consumed his fair share of alcohol, and smoked heavily except for one brief attempt to quit. I know he buried his pain in both, self-medicating alone and with his friends. I’m pretty sure at least the cigarettes contributed to his declining health, though he kept me blissfully unaware. Never one to share his troubles, though, dad got harder and harder to be around as time went on.

Some of it was his deteriorating health; emphysema, a botched eye surgery, and ultimately the lung cancer which contributed to his decision to end his own life. He covered it by complaining about people and occasionally the eye surgery. His teasing took on a harder edge though it took me a lot more years to recognize the cruelty in his taunts. I’d learned to accept his unkindness towards me as affection, never questioning or expecting anything more.

A Distorted Kind of Love

Sure, it bothered me he treated others better than he treated me, but growing up with a skewed and broken version of love, I took my pain and buried it deep, just as I’d been taught. My dad was a true master at hiding his misery. As far as I know, the trait ran back many generations in his family.

Looking back, the trait didn’t serve him very well in the years after mom died. Everything he buried ate away at him, until dis-ease ran rampant in his body leaving him wracked with constant, inescapable pain. He dealt with it in the only ways he knew how; drinking, smoking, and complaining about other people’s behavior.

By then, I was starting to turn my life around. I was letting go of a lot of ugliness, including many of the people in my life. I was learning to love myself and appreciate who I was, warts and all. Being around dad drained me and had me thinking judgmentally when I no longer wanted to. How was I to know it was the only way he knew how to connect with me?

Blinded By His Negativity

https://www.flickr.com/photos/augustbrill/5025448773/in/photolist-8E5JQv-bj2Q3-buZES-NosS3S-bE9C2-8NP6x3-oKBJYc-7yxvUJ-4eRexw-28mE1ch-5tW6Kf-f2JEoo-acCwSd-eajL56-paxFhz-4cv8b7-7yxvw5-7D7azC-ofd2U1-4jX86v-cLpNW-7yxvPb-7yxvS7-6hKsj7-7ytH5n-6ZkEpv-nxKqWs-pz4SNk-8HDCce-gT2U3W-7AkeTX-5hzA7T-5hDXEh-fjpMeq-ceoQ2-5hzAiF-51qGYK-ceoza-51qFRM-9vkmV9-5v6EqD-ceoGA-51uTs5-51uSJo-8NP6zA-51qEZx-7zy4Hg-ceoKc-ceorH-w9TTqI’ll never comprehend the hell my dad went through in the last 10 years of his life. I expended more effort avoiding his dark outlook and unrelenting misery, not because I didn’t care, but because I had no idea how to help, or make things better for him. And because it took so much out of me to spend time with him.

I suspect he went through many of the same emotions I did; blame, guilt, shame, grief. I’m reasonably sure he tried to drown them in a bottle without much success. With no idea how to deal with anyone’s emotions, much less his own, he probably let them fester for awhile, just as I did, falling deeper and deeper into his own personal pit of despair.

He functioned for awhile until things had broken down enough to make him feel it was no longer worth the effort. Then he ended it in the only way he knew how, with an apology to his girlfriend, while leaving the resulting mess for his daughters to resolve. I guess he felt he didn’t owe us explanation or apology because we never realized he might need us. In his cancer-riddled body and mind, I think he believed we’d failed him.

Years of Emotional Rejection Can Be Reversed

I can’t speak for my sister, but I honestly believed I was giving him exactly what he wanted; what he’d taught me to give. I’m incredibly grateful I eventually learned there was more to life and love than what he and my mother were able to share and teach.

Jumping off from where my parents’ lessons ended, I’ve gained so much, not the least of which is a circle of friends who accept me for my own actions and don’t judge my by anything my family might have done.

Feeling Incredibly Grateful

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the lessons my parents weren’t able to teach me.
  2. I am grateful for the ability to temper the anger and hurt I’ve recently discovered with compassion and understanding.
  3. I am grateful for finding the rainbow in every storm cloud.
  4. I am grateful for an amazing, supportive, compassionate circle of friends who, until the last couple of years, I had no idea I even deserved.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, opportunities, joy, friendship, harmony, peace, health, positivity, inspiration, motivation, 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

Acknowledging the Right to Grieve

Telling Ourselves We Have No Right to Grieve

I’m no stranger to grief. I’ve had enough opportunities in my life where it was not only appropriate but necessary. But I’m no stranger to suppressing or denying my grief either. When each of my parents died, I made thousands of excuses to keep going on, business as usual while I broke into a million little pieces inside. I convinced myself the grief wasn’t necessary and got in the way of doing the things I was supposed to. In a lot of ways, both my family and Society had trained me well—too well.

I mistakenly believed, especially in my mother’s case I didn’t really deserve to grieve since she and I had such a contentious relationship. Feeling relief for one less stressful component in my life when she died made it easier to believe I had no right to grieve because it wasn’t a loss at all. Or so I believed.

Grief Has No Comparison

In the last few weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to revisit grief, and my ability to justify denying my right to grieve. I watched while people lost their homes, their lives, their pets. I sat glued to the television in horror while a dozen people I knew mostly in passing were gunned down by a man who ultimately took his own life.

I’ve watched as parents buried their children, families buried their fathers, husbands, sons, and daughters. I ache for them all, yet the voices inside me tell me I have no right to grieve because the pain I feel from losing the place I dance and gather with friends, albeit temporarily, is nothing compared to what they’ve lost.

When Our Hearts Connect

Yet it’s more than the loss of a place because Borderline Bar and Grill has always been more than merely a place to dance. As stories are shared of celebrations, of countless marriages which came about because of meetings at that particular place, of families sharing, of connections that last for years, even when people move away; I realize not only for me, but for thousands of others, it became a home. We came together, some as friends, others as strangers, and became a family connected at the heart.

Even as so many communicate only by text message or social media, it’s been a place where cell phones are put down, if only for a few minutes, and connections are made on the dance floor, doing something that brings joy not only to the dancers, but to those on the sidelines watching.

Hitting Close to Home

We didn’t just lose people on November 7th. Even those we didn’t know well were familiar, comforting faces we saw every week. Some helped maintain order and kept the place friendly and the dance floor safe. Others were a smiling face that greeted us or served us food and drinks, raising our spirits no matter how the day had gone. No matter what role they played, they were familiar faces; people we’d come to know by sight, and who, in their own way, brought joy into the place by their very presence. But more, they were part of a family which shared in each others’ successes, commiserated when jobs or family were lost, celebrated birthdays, weddings, births, anniversaries…

Right now, the whole family is grieving. Maybe not in the same way as parents who are burying children way too soon, or fathers who had only just begun to realize dreams, or brothers who were always there to lend a hand when the road got rough. But we grieve for the huge gashes in the fabric of our family and for the pain those close to them are suffering right now. It might not be our own pain, but the pain is soul deep anyway because our family has been violated.

A Need to Justify the Unjustifiable

Still, I fight the feeling that my loss is comparatively small when I look at the people who lost a father, a child, a best friend. As part of the extended family, though, I feel the pain of unshed tears, of unanswered questions, of grief that like mine can find no outlet. I feel even more strongly the connection between me and my fellow human beings.

There is also the unpopular and often sidestepped grief for the shooter and his family as he is repeatedly denounced and excluded from the memorials as being unworthy of mention or inclusion in a group of people who, in many cases were heroes trying to make the world better, or sacrificing themselves so others would be safe, or simply a smiling face lifting the spirits of everyone around them. But I believe we as a society failed him as we fail others who feel detached and disconnected.

Digging Deep to Find Our Compassion

Admittedly, it isn’t easy to reach out to people who are continually angry or depressed. They’re harder to be around, more difficult to love, and sometimes impossible to understand. Some isolate themselves, then blame their isolation on society, and rightfully so. Even in a family, you often have to fit in first before you can start showing your broken parts. Some people are so broken, they believe the only way they can hide those uncomfortable parts is by staying within their own four walls.

I’ve been that person, though never with murderous intent. I’ve been alone and angry with the entire world, yet desperate to belong somewhere, in need of comfort that wasn’t forthcoming. But I was fortunate. I learned to find and be my happy self until I found acceptance and windows of opportunity to allow the chinks in my armor to widen and eventually break off in chunks. I’ve opened up too much to the wrong people to be sent scuttling back into my shell to lick my wounds and regroup. But thankfully, I’ve never spent so much time inside my own head where those wounds fester and infect my entire being. Too many aren’t as lucky as I’ve been.

Helping Each Other Unlock Our Self-Imposed Prison Doors

Still, the grief continues to be locked inside me. I still feel I need justification to share my grief with those Created with Canvawho’ve lost so much more. Even in the privacy of my own home, I’ve yet to shed more than a few tears, though many more are dammed up inside me waiting for an opportunity to flow.

The walls I reinforced after my mom swallowed too many sleeping pills, and again after my dad put a gun to his head to end his pain are no longer the insurmountable edifices they once were. Some came crashing down with the violence of a 7.0 earthquake. Others have slowly dissolved into dust. Clearly, some still remain if I believe I need justification to grieve this latest loss. As I look around, I see others who struggle to grieve, to understand, and who continue to wrangle with the right to be compassionate with themselves.

I realize we all have a right to grieve, but in some ways, it’s also a responsibility. We have to release the pain, the anger, the confusion so we can begin to heal. Without healing ourselves, we can’t help others begin the long journey from a place of immeasurable pain to where they can start to feel those angels on their shoulder who are never truly gone.

Finding the Gratitude in the Grief

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for my writing which is a constant source of comfort and release during a time when the news and faces around me are a long chain of tragedy and loss.
  2. I am grateful for my friends who are connecting more strongly and deeply than ever, though I wish it didn’t have to involve so much loss.
  3. I am grateful for all the people who have come forward to support others, even mainly strangers in time of need. It gives me hope for the overall human condition.
  4. I am grateful for compassion. We need more of it. We need to recognize how much more valuable it is than power or control.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; compassion, love, connection, support, family, opportunities, soul searching, recognizing each others’ hearts, peace, hope, 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.

Letting Toby Go

Sweet Toby: Gone But Never Forgotten

Last September I had to say good-bye to one of the sweetest cats to ever walk this Earth, however briefly. At barely 11 years old, cancer wracking his body, I had to admit the kindest choice was to let him quietly slip away. I decided one night I’d take him in the next morning, then sat with him on my desk, petting him, loving him, and saying good-bye.

The Universe somehow knew I needed a helping hand, and guided me to accidentally give him the wrong dosage of one of his medications. The error stopped his heart, and he died in my arms, convulsing once, then going quiet.

For a while, I blamed myself for making his end so abrupt, for failing to look at the container before administering the fatal dose. Eventually I realized it was for the best.

Yet until now, I’ve kept my favorite picture of him as the background on my computer. With the onset of October, I knew it was time to let him go; let his spirit race with the other cats I’ve loved and lost over the years. So I changed the picture to one of Munchkin and Mulan, two of my zaniest and most loveable girls, and bid a silent farewell to my sweet boy. His spirit no longer needs to linger, watching over me as I extend my grief. I’m ready to turn all my focus on the furry family who I’m allowed to love and care for right now, though each will, in their own time, leave a hole in my life too. May that be later rather than sooner.

Autumn Brings a Season of Endings

October, at least in the Northern Hemisphere where I live means falling leaves, harvest, and shortening days. It’s a time for letting go of what no longer serves us, or, for that matter, what we no longer serve. Not always an easy thing to do, and at times, involving a great deal of soul-searching. I’m finding it also means being brutally honest with ourselves.

I’ve been looking lately at what I’m doing or holding onto that’s holding me back from writing as much as I need to, or growing my business as much as I want to. I discovered a lot can be found in who or what we grieve.

The losses aren’t necessarily due to a death. We enter and exit relationships our entire life, unless we lock ourselves in a cave of our own making and subsist on home delivery. But to do that, we still have to have a way to generate the funds to support our connectionless lifestyle. It’s becoming easier and easier to do both, much to the detriment of our society.

Connections Aid the Grieving Process

Photo: David Derong/Iowa State DailyI suspect living without connecting removes the problem of grieving. If you never have anyone to love, you can’t lose them so you don’t need to grieve. Somehow, that seems beyond unnatural to me.

Grieving is a natural part of life. Yet when we do lose someone, it’s not only the individual person or pet we grieve, but the connection we had. Because we miss the connection, we’re more likely to step out of ourselves and look for other opportunities to connect. Our grief itself is a means of connection as sharing it opens us to connecting with others who understand loss.

Each time I lose a cherished pet, I share the loss with friends. Each one understands and offers their support while I come to terms with another loss. I do the same when one of their pets or a family member crosses over. It’s the human thing to do, and brings us closer. We can all relate, at least in one area of our lives.

Learning Lessons Better Late Than Never

I wish I’d known this when I lost each of my parents. Instead, I stuffed my grief, anger, self-blame, and everything else into what would become my own personal Pandora’s box. The unreleased emotions gnawed away at my innards leaving me short-tempered, angry, and unapproachable; the exact opposite of what I needed to be. Withholding grief isolated me when I needed most to connect with others who understood loss.

Life has a way of forcing our hand when we’re too stubborn or afraid to do it ourselves. My wake-up call came in the form of a parent’s ultimate loss. One daughter had long since moved out, and the other was talking about moving out too. I realized if and when she did, I’d be completely alone except for my cats. I had no other real friends because I didn’t let anyone see my vulnerable side. As far as I was concerned, I was a brick wall, and I gave no one any reason to look for a gate or try to climb over.

Sometimes What We Need is a Swift Kick in the Gut

I’d like to think I was impervious. Instead, I kept all my feelings; the hurts, the disappointments, the neglect bottled up inside. But glass is fragile, especially when it’s battered and tossed around. My protections were no less fragile.

I believe my daughter did me an enormous favor in broaching the subject long before she took action. It was the fear of being completely alone which had me following her suggestion to start writing about my parents’ deaths. And I’ve been writing about them more and more openly ever since.

These days, I’m quite content living alone with my cats. I have as active a social life as I desire. I follow a healthy routine which gets me out of the house more often than not, whereas I used to go days without leaving the house. I’m interacting with people almost on a daily basis now; sometimes directly and sometimes it’s simply a matter of being in a place where other people are.

And I know when I’ve grieved long enough and need to let go and move on, for my sake as well as for the one I’m grieving. By holding on, I’m holding them back from the next step in their soul journey. I’m sad, and I will shed a few more tears, but I know it’s the right thing to do and the right time to do it. Toby and all the rest of my fur babies will always know I loved them fully and completely, and will forever remember them and the piece of my heart they took with them when they left. But they also left a piece of theirs with me, and those pieces make me better for the beautiful gifts they are.


To all the cats I’ve loved before, love now, and will love in the future, I’m so grateful for the time you were a part of my life.

Keeping the Gratitude Flowing

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the signs I receive telling me when it’s time to let go and move forward.
  2. I am grateful for the love of so many cats over the years, and the ability to share my home with the lost and abandoned ones.
  3. I am grateful for stories of people with philanthropic natures and the means to indulge them. It inspires me to reach higher, build bigger so I, too can follow my philanthropic inclinations.
  4. I am grateful for the variety in my days, some busy and running, others, quiet and introspective.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, joy, friendship, companionship, help when I need it (and can break down my own barriers towards asking), inspiration, motivation, changes in routine, focus, scope, goals, dreams, plans, successes, failures and the lessons they bring, 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.

 

Navigating Imposter Syndrome

Exiling the No-goodnicks

This has been a rough week for me. I’ve actually managed to convince myself (at least for a bit) that the last 5 years have been a complete waste of time in which I accomplished nothing. Sound familiar? Well, read on.

As many of you know, I quit my nice, comfortable, secure Corporate job nearly 5 years ago to pursue a new career in writing. Yes, I was slowly dying from the job, the environment, the tedium, and not doing the work I loved to do, but it was secure so that’s a good thing, right?

At the time, I believed all the security in the world wasn’t worth how miserable and stressed it made me. I scoffed at losing a regular paycheck, vacation time, a 401(k), and a reason to get up and leave the house every morning to join my fellow commuters slogging down the freeway. And in my naive little heart, I believed I could find success before the money ran out.

How We’re Able to Provide Does Not Define Us

This week, I got a backhanded slap of reality when I faced tapping into my final resource in order to pay next month’s bills. That was when the side of me that abhors change took over. Soon I was convinced I’d accomplished nothing, helped no one (especially not myself), and was no closer to my dream than I was when I started. I was foolish, untalented, lazy…I could go on, but I’m sure you get the picture.

The worst part, though, was when I went down the “nobody would care if I disappeared” path. That ugly, weed-filled, thorn-laden path that’s brought many a weaker soul to end their misery for good.

There are many things which stop me from following that path to the end, not the least of which is sparing my daughter the pain and the years of soul-searching and questions without answers I have, and will always live with since my parents’ suicides. Then of course there’s the fact that deep in my heart of hearts I don’t believe I’m beaten yet.

Recognizing Our Own Worth

As my friend pointed out, I’ve helped a lot of people with these emotional outpourings, both in print and on Facebook Live. Just because I’m not aware of the hearts and lives I’ve touched doesn’t mean I haven’t helped someone. The numbers might be paltry in the minds of those who look at numbers to determine influence, but there are some who read my posts all the time. So I must be doing something right.

The trouble is, a girl and her cats have to eat, and since my ability to keep the food bins full is suffering no small amount of threat to future filling, I started attaching my self-worth to my inability to provide. As if being an aspiring but as yet unpublished writer wasn’t enough!

But it doesn’t stop there. I sat here in my hermit hole surrounded by books, cats, and proof of my unworthiness to walk the same path as J.K. Rowling, Nora Roberts, Brenda Novak, Jacqueline Carey, Stephen King, and more. I lost sight of how each one had to start with their first sale. And Anne McCaffrey didn’t start publishing until she was in her 50’s!

I don’t doubt at least a couple of them went through similar times when they stopped believing in themselves. Yet they must have gotten past it as we read their books today, and some are still pushing out new ones if not every year, pretty darned often.

Emerging Again, Battered But Not Broken

Coming out of the downward spiral into unworthiness is harder than it is to go in. Sliding down merely requires succumbing to the voices telling you you’re an imposter and won’t amount to anything no matter how hard you try. Getting out often requires an almost physical wrench to disengage from the voices and begin the long, slow trek out of the pit of despair into which you’ve sunk.

One of the most difficult parts of emerging for me is remembering there are people out there who care about me. That I do have people I can call who won’t see my need for help, or maybe just a good kick in the butt as in imposition, or worse, an added burden to their already challenging lives. Some things from my childhood are buried so deeply, it takes an earthquake level shakeup in my life for me to even recognize them.

When the Imposition is in Trying Not to Impose

This time around, I realize feeling like I’m imposing if I ask someone for help, or to just listen comes from so far back I don’t even remember the point where it began. I only know I’m more than willing to listen and possibly help if one of my friends is hurting and needs to unburden themselves. But if I’m the one who’s hurting and feels like the load has become too heavy to bear, I find it nearly impossible to reach out and ask for a steady shoulder or a listening ear.

My friends have given me hell about it on countless occasions, and I am getting better about asking for help, when it’s something physical like repairing something at the house. When it’s personal, emotional, and probably irrational, I seal myself in like a clean room in a science lab. I convince myself nobody cares if I’m struggling. Nobody wants to hear I’m not perfectly fine. Above all, no one wants to deal with me when I’m a weepy, soggy mess.

I’m the first to tell you it’s important to allow your friends to help you sometimes, just as you allow them

to need you. I say a lot of wise things I don’t follow myself. But in my defense, when I’m feeling really down like I have the last week or so, I manage to convince myself there’s no one in my life who really cares enough to let me fall apart on their watch. I start feeling detached from the crowd even when I’m doing one of my favorite things in the world with some of the kindest, most compassionate people I know; the dance community. Without a conscious thought, I remove my broken and battered self from their exalted sphere, not physically, but by erecting the walls I thought I’d destroyed long ago.

Our Misguided Sense of Safety

I’ve mastered the art of hovering on the edges, taking in the warmth and love everyone exchanges amongst themselves, but allowing none of it to reach my own needy heart. It’s all part of the long-held belief of undeserving. I know it’s wrong. I know it’s stupid. I know more than one of them would be over here, giving me crap if they knew I was returning to my inner hermit again. Yet still that voice inside me says “no, don’t bother them. They’re too busy to bother with you. They only like to be around you when you’re cheerful and positive.”

You, me, and anyone else who listens to that voice for even a nanosecond needs to tell it to STFU. It’s insidious and evil. It doesn’t care about anyone but itself, and thrives on our misery. The less we think of ourselves, the happier it becomes.

As my friend and mentor, Linda Clay says “we can’t be positive all the time.” I might add, it’s exhausting to always see the sunny side of things and never have moments when we let go of our Pollyanna exterior and pull out those insecurities and weak points. We need to learn to look at them a little more dispassionately is all. See them as specimens under a microscope instead of gigantic monsters hiding in the closet, waiting for a moment of inattention to bite off a leg or an arm.

We all have times when we just can’t get up the energy to show our positive side to the world. In my case, it’s when I pull out the masks without even thinking (another remnant of my childhood) and hide my pain behind a face that says “everything is perfectly OK. Don’t look too closely though. This face isn’t much more than paper and glue.”

Our Real, Imperfect Self is the Most Beautiful Person We Can Be

I use this forum not only to rip off my own masks and expose the dark and gnarly interior, but to let you, my readers know you don’t have to hide your imperfections. Whether you show them or not, your friends and some family know you have them. In fact, they’d appreciate it if you let them see those imperfections once in a while. It’s awfully hard keeping up with someone who always acts like life is one happy party. Life is a combination of good parts and crappy parts. Why share only half of yourself? What kind of friend holds back the most interesting parts anyway?

With a Grateful Heart

  1. I am grateful there are people in my life who recognize my downward spirals won’t stop without intervention.
  2. I am grateful for the opportunity to help other people, even if it’s only by showing my own warts.
  3. I am grateful for my writing which has kept my sanity loosely attached for many decades.
  4. I am grateful words are flowing from my pen again, even if they’re not the project I feel I should be working on.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; friendships I don’t always believe I deserve, a daughter who loves me even at my ugliest, my cats who never judge, but always comfort, the roof over my head, the food in my belly, and the possibilities I can’t yet envision.

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/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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