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

Posts tagged ‘healing’

Kindness is Not Overrated

Learning Kindness While Isolated

Sometimes you get so caught up in all your duties, responsibilities, and self-imposed challenges you forget to be kind; to your family, your friends, people you encounter at work or while running errands, and most of all, to yourself. In the limitless agenda you set for yourself, you barely leave room to breathe much less, for taking time to be kind.

You don’t mean to be short with the cashier, or snappy with your child but you set expectations so high that even at your most superhuman, you can’t possible accomplish them all, much less, do them well. So you get frustrated; angry, and in the process, you forget how to simply Be. You lose sight of the fact that you could actually accomplish more, and even do a better job of it if you stopped rushing around like a headless chicken.

COVID has, in some ways, done us all a favor. It’s forced us to stop the crazy, pointless rushing around, and spend more time with the people we love, be it physically or virtually. Social lives are conducted in living rooms, on patios, in garages, and dens instead of in restaurants, clubs, and bars. Families are being forced to get to know each other, perhaps for some, more deeply than ever before.

Taking the Opportunity to Evict Your Demons

Some are struggling worse than ever because isolation is forcing them to face their demons https://www.flickr.com/photos/jslee/420574961/in/photolist-Dayhr-DaxXz-PH2XRJ-DaxBQ-6wyJCM-Q7Qs-Q7Q7-DaxQs-DaxK6-M5tZS-2etGoi-DaxLj-DayoW-cdfuY-DaxYZ-GRrsjX-Day3S-DZPnx-M5tYf-DaxuR-DaxHd-DaxAv-oPay9M-4VPXSt-56635o-DaxYn-DaxCk-Day1i-71dpo5-Day2u-Y62h-57R1nL-Day9y-6MtkU6-pHSVQ1-DaxqA-Days4-72V4qY-4P9zGm-Dayoh-7M8fgp-ptyCqq-Day4P-DaxRF-oP7HE7-DaxSB-DaxUT-Dayj8-5HDdsX-pttx4xhead on without the masks they’re used to wearing in public; without the shielding of other people that takes them, albeit temporarily, outside themselves. Those demons have been waiting a long time to be acknowledged, and will do their best to consume if they’re not faced head-on, acknowledged, and defused.

As someone who stuffed and avoided her demons for decades, I can assure you, this is the worst possible scenario, though if approached with the right attitude, it can also be the best. I used the distractions of work, social gatherings, and an endless list of responsibilities to hide from mine. Even so, I was isolated in all the ways that counted; my only real community was my daughters. I neither asked for nor was I offered support from the people I saw while dancing, my fellow band moms, or the parents of the girls’ teammates when they played soccer or ran track.

Thankfully, something woke me, not only to what I was avoiding, but to what I was missing as well. It didn’t happen overnight, and it was, at times, a pretty painful process, but I’ve learned, little by little, to start being kind to myself by allowing my demons to have their say, to acknowledge them, then let them go. I’ve learned what they have to say isn’t really true, but the result of people and situations as I stumbled through life which made me doubt myself.

I’d created a system of false beliefs I had to face down. Above all, I needed to learn to form relationships with people who could help me recognize the lies those demons told. In the process, I learned to recognize when others were struggling with their own demons.

Kindness Begins With You

https://www.flickr.com/photos/pictoquotes/26362491806/in/photolist-857d63-7jecuc-4EKXjp-d1fXnd-dGxXva-CWZ3qm-pEtDtE-3LiJjP-UaGqaP-U4nkQR-pRhHt6-bGpmxT-cYxRaG-9o9aCf-ebCGqX-5i8fuy-84yuGJ-etwRi8-FFKb5u-4G5gCd-awsadF-9pfapc-hsE8Ey-qQun96-5JpNWp-HP9Nyr-BGZwA9-6Ls9DX-TsKYM9-hxME-SsNQJ8-6tki6x-xyvfhG-GayEmN-ytRii1-s5DRhg-ndkt2wLike forgiveness, kindness has to start with yourself. Until you can be kind to yourself; quell the anger and hurt you’ve carried inside for years; maybe even decades, you can’t be truly kind to others. In the first place, kindness has to come without reservations or expectations of something in return. In the second, it has to come from a heart that’s truly open. As long as you’re beating yourself up over imagined past transgressions, you’re locking the door on the part of your heart that knows how to give unconditionally.

I grew up believing love was expressed by teasing someone unmercifully. Until I became a parent myself, I was usually the target of the teasing, and my family was expert at going for the jugular. I grew up believing I was fat, wasting my talents (whatever they were), and a disappointment to everyone. I carried that burden long into my adulthood, and unknowingly practiced the same behavior with my children.

Not all the time of course. I vacillated between the cruelty I’d learned from the cradle, and being overprotective. Neither extreme was healthy for me or my daughters. Once I started facing my own demons, and treating myself with more kindness and respect, I recognized the way I’d been mistreating  my own children, and was horrified.

A Second Chance to Be Kinder

I could claim I didn’t know any better, and in some ways that’s true but it’s no excuse. I see the times I sent my daughter Heather off in tears, or worse, gave her the silent treatment when she displeased me, and I cringe in horror. I hope and pray she learned from my mistakes, and will see that horrific family pattern end with her generation. I would rather her children grow up knowing only kindness, compassion, and even a little patience (something both Heather and I struggle with).

The Universe has blessed me with what I consider a second chance. The community which now embraces me has yielded many wonderful examples of loving kindness, compassion, and a level of love and caring I never saw growing up, nor in my ill-fated, and short-lived marriage. In fact, if I’m honest, leaving my ex was the first kind thing I did for myself. It was the first step in learning to face my demons, even if it took nearly a decade to take the next, and frankly more cataclysmic steps. In deciding to end the marriage, my primary thought was: “Life is too short to be this unhappy”. And yet, I’d lived in a state of unhappiness and even misery most of my life without even realizing it. From the examples I’d been set, it was not only normal, but the best I could expect.

Everything comes to you in right timing, or so I’ve come to believe. I try not to look back at all the years I struggled before I awoke, and at all the people now who are suffering and struggling through pain and misery. That they express their pain in the form of hate and cruelty is part of their own path, and not mine to change or judge.

Turning Crisis into Opportunity

COVID is giving so many a chance to be kinder and more compassionate. For many. this could be the cataclysmic event that gives them a chance to turn around, face their demons, and tell them to get lost. But so many others will get stuck and succumb to the lies. If you’ve learned to face your own, you can’t help but recognize the signs and symptoms. Exercising the kindness you learned when your own feet were to the fire is essential now. It truly is your responsibility to help those who struggle, and above all, to avoid responding to the outward cruelty and hate with unkindness of your own, unless your goal is to add fuel to the fire. If so, you’ll only become part of the inevitable forest fire, consuming everything and everyone in your path who doesn’t wield the sword of kindness and the shield of compassion.

Everyone has a choice. Love or hate. Kindness or cruelty. Abuse or compassion. Look carefully at what you’re giving yourself, and take this time of forced isolation to make a few course corrections. Look into the mirror and see where, and how you can treat yourself better. From there, it’s but a baby step to treating those around you with equal kindness and respect. Call me an idealist, but I believe all humanity has a stronger propensity to kindness than cruelty. It’s about breaking old, outworn patterns and replacing them with those capable of withstanding time’s ultimate tests.

Using Gratitude to Fuel Kindness

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the people and circumstances that have taught me kindness is a simple thing.
  2. I’m grateful for all the good, hard looks I’ve been allowed, or forced to take at myself. May I continue to look closely and make more changes for the better.
  3. I’m grateful for friendships closer than I ever thought I deserved, much less would see in my lifetime.
  4. I’m grateful for laughter, for tears, for honest, unfettered emotion.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, friendship, community, heartbreak, connection, kindness, compassion, opportunities, inspiration, motivation, dedication, peace, balance, health, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a Holistic 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

Compassion Learned by Experiencing Trauma

Minimizing External Trauma

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-cS691NLong ago, I stopped watching or listening to the news, not because I don’t want to know what’s going on with the world, but because, quite frankly, I don’t want or need to hear about the horrific parts; the murders, the hate crimes, the politicians who use their positions to lie, cheat, and steal; the evil I know full well exists in the world. I also reject those who put their own spin on things until the facts become more the evolution of a  dystopian society comprised of the most horrific qualities ever exhibited by humans than anything resembling the highs, lows, and everything in between evident in the world at any given time.

In our digital society, the issue isn’t really staying informed. Everyone and their brother is happy to share their views of reality with you through every method available (heaven knows I’ve unfollowed quite a few who don’t take my more subtle hints, or fill their own news feed with obviously slanted rhetoric and downright lies). The challenge comes in filtering those messages so I see things that are:

  • Factual
  • Relevant
  • Non-partisan
  • Hopeful rather than hateful
  • Uplifting
  • Useful
  • Interesting
  • Kind

Granted, what fits into these categories is often a moving target, and especially with the first one, often requires some extra digging on my part before I accept what I read as true or valuable. All publications and sites are slanted at least a little. When in doubt, I’ll consult one (or more) of the sites that tells me which way the author of what I’m reading leans. If the topic is important enough to me, I’ll dig further to find accounts on both sides of the fence.

Just the Facts, Ma’am

One thing I don’t want to read are obviously agenda-based accounts from would-be medical https://www.flickr.com/photos/eamoncurry/28268951669/in/photolist-K52Lsr-byVMMC-RPS3xW-UdGABu-ZyoRJD-UGD7PB-F5Q7kv-VP4Csi-mHt88T-k3iA6-Hfjmzh-dcxTkQ-RtTnPj-U65Sq9-dcujdB-RSrN3T-bMQU4K-SWh6K3-Tb77Ki-T7xwTo-RTDHJ3-T7xp7w-3KKPDt-o6oKQv-SWh5YJ-UN97Sy-prgzdM-bMCdYe-qhS8Xz-byKj5d-qs4b7R-byL2XC-bMCd9p-SAfRWS-dzNBJu-fwWtJt-JjEtwP-bMBxtP-byKnuf-272uDNX-TuBQdv-26wihPC-EQiBwn-dabUNz-rLf7Sy-27u72yF-SLfJYB-dkAN6H-24szGFw-bWK2Xtprofessionals who lack the experience, the education, and the true desire to help others with no purpose other than genuine compassion. Sure, even doctors, nurses, and everyone else who chooses the medical profession has their own agenda, but in certain cases, I have to trust they’ve put it aside while they’re doing their job, else why take the Hippocratic Oath in the first place?.

Yes, I’ve had my own less-than-stellar experiences with Western Medicine lately, and I’m not a fan of Big Pharma, but I also agree there’s a time and a place to trust them, if not implicitly, at least far enough to stay out of their way while they’re doing their best to save lives.

Overall, I’m not a fan of bashing, even if I agree with you. I may vehemently dislike a public figure and everything they stand for, but calling them names, ridiculing them, or making mockery of them is neither productive nor does it improve matters. In fact, I believe it adds fuel to their fire. After all, even bad publicity is better than none. Many who are in the public eye thrive on attention. How better to reduce their influence than to avoid mentioning them at all?

Sure, there are times I’ll share something without researching it thoroughly because it makes sense to me, and focuses on an issue rather than emotions. There have even been times I ended up with egg on my face by failing to do my due diligence. Still, I’ll continue to share things which speak of hope, compassion, and humanity’s many beautiful qualities. I believe we need more reason to look upon each other with eyes filled with kindness, compassion, and love.

Interpersonal Relations Don’t Need to be Complicated

I suspect there are some who’ve unfollowed me as well. Some because they believe I’m uninformed, others because I won’t jump on their bandwagon over every issue on their lengthy agenda. There might even be some who find my outlook too hopeful; too positive. That’s OK with me. If I don’t inspire and uplift you; if my outlook is too airy fairy for your cynical heart, we’re clearly not a good fit anyway.

Past experiences influence who you are at any point in your life. I’ve had my share of trauma, misfortune, and loss. There was a time I let it influence what I did, said, and thought, and how I treated others. If I met the woman I was 15 or 20 years ago on the street today, I’d feel sad, and filled with pity for her. I don’t know that I’d engage her though. Her walls were high and negative energy flowed off her in waves. It took me a long time to let go of the anger and pain, and I’m not willing to allow myself to be sucked back into that teeming morass of misery.

I also know I am still easily triggered by certain things, and have to safeguard the progress I’ve made. It’s far too easy to let emotions take over, and to become that hateful version of myself I’ve worked so hard to heal. Thankfully, the healing process also gave me tools and the ability to see past the ugly behavior to the open, seeping wounds which make it so hard for some people to let go of conditioned behavior.

Humans Thrive on Hope and Compassion

More and more, I see people sharing messages of hope, community, and a shared journey. In short, we’re all in this together, and none of us is getting out of here alive, so why not find places where we can, if nothing else, meet in the middle? Hateful behavior only makes your own world darker and more miserable. I know this from my own experiences, though it took me a long time to realize the misery I floated in was self-inflicted. It might, at times have seemed like it was someone else’s doing, but it was more a case of attracting exactly what I was emitting.

If it seems like I’m ignoring the sadness; the suffering; the inequalities; the misery running rampant in the world, know nothing is further from the truth. I’ve simply made a conscious choice to refrain from adding to it by giving it my direct attention. I’m making small but consistent changes to myself which includes both the way I treat others, and the energy I emit into this sea of souls we occupy.

A pebble dropped into a lake sends out ripples which touch an infinite number of others as they spread, merge, and flow. You can choose to drop pebbles of misery and hate, and add to the putrid cesspool others have already filled. Or you can add the tiniest droplets of pure, clear water to the seemingly impenetrable mess. It might take awhile, but in time, the droplets of clean, pure water will make headway. I simply choose to be the change. What you do, and how you proceed is entirely up to you. Let your conscience lead the way.

Gratitude Heals Our Pain

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for choices.
  2. I’m grateful I’m able to filter what I hear, read, and see.
  3. I’m grateful I can follow my own path, respecting other people’s beliefs and attitudes, but ultimately staying true to myself.
  4. I’m grateful for friends who can hold opposing views, but respect each other enough to refrain from mistreating those whose views might differ.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, choice, positivity, compassion, support, community, health, peace, harmony, hope, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a Holistic 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

Strength Lies in Accepting You’re Broken

Everyone is Broken in Some Way

brokenEveryone is broken in some way. What matters isn’t how broken a person is, or even what broke them, but how they choose to go on with their lives, and whether they choose to embrace the brokenness, fight it, or allow themselves to be weakened by it.

There’s no way to avoid it. If you’re alive and human, you’re going to suffer trauma at some point in your life. Some, but not many manage to avoid it until they reach adulthood. Most people experience some kind of life-changing event during childhood.

It might be the death of a family member or pet, or something more insidious like emotional or physical abuse. No matter what it is, natural coping mechanisms engage and alter your path in some way. There’s always a lesson, not only in the event, but in how you choose to cope with it. And there are scars.

The Residue of Coping Mechanisms

Depending on the number and degree of traumas, and the methods at your disposal for self lovecoping, you might well reach adulthood with a thick layer of scars around your psyche. In most cases, you’re unaware those scars exist, or how much you’re using them to hide the true, vulnerable, authentic person you were meant to be.

I was one who reached adulthood with a thick wall of scars, little realizing the traumas I’d coped with in my juvenile, naive way. I watched the adults around me, mistook emotional abuse for love, and saw feelings buried because in our family, showing any kind of emotion was highly discouraged. In fact, if I wanted to experience expressions of what passed for love, I kept my feelings deeply hidden.

Unfortunately, I learned much later in life that I’m an Empath, and hiding my feelings is like cutting off a limb. My lack of success as a child and teenager earned me my mother’s expressions of displeasure over everything I said and did, and my dad’s emotional abuse. Yet for years, I believed what he was doing was the normal way to show love.

Cleaning Up the Mess After Coping With Trauma

https://www.flickr.com/photos/basykes/7340397856/in/photolist-cbDsxJ-fzRXJH-fzRU3V-GFFVME-87C3ro-epfT1v-6ixEeJ-HRLxVG-58xPj2-Xp8vtU-pXs6to-QHDGiW-t6dtT-6bsVU6-9SurWh-Wdj1Qd-odAC7i-ubQRAd-apXuRr-nJMGvb-9sCtdA-51wq2C-4KXrym-dJLEXx-dfGd8s-6yz6qi-22c7xXE-4KXt7A-219zYfG-Y6ugwd-aokdtX-WXZF7J-8k4FAh-219zYkm-rqFwgT-2gqYSkX-pKNDEY-fngxkg-2rBixn-cAMBNL-6yEkh5-cAMnRj-9Axjsh-WXZF8W-HU8RCu-E72ZqC-8nkuaw-bDCtyG-22eMwC4-64vyhJOne thing I learned was when you use coping mechanisms to deal with trauma; whether recognized or not, you develop an extremely dysfunctional view of the world, and of love in particular. I grew up believing that if someone loved you, they showed it by being abusive. Not physically in my family’s case, but emotionally, which frankly, causes much deeper scars that are harder to exhume and heal. I was in my 60’s with my dad long-dead before I was able to see his teasing and put-downs for the cruelty they were, and to finally express the anger and hurt I’d buried deep beneath my scars.

Needless to say, the men I attracted over the years were broken in their own way, and were abusive in their expressions of love. Like my family, they weren’t typically physically abusive. I never nursed a visible bruise or a broken limb. The damage they did was purely internal, in a place where no one ever visited. The worst part was, I wasn’t able to appreciate a love that wasn’t based on some kind of abuse. As I look back on my college years, I ended things with a couple of really nice, kind men because the kind of love they offered wasn’t something I recognized or responded to.

By my mid-40’s I stopped looking for love in all the wrong places. I recognized I didn’t know how to find it in the right ones, and took what would be the first step towards ending a lifetime of abusive love based on cruelty and undermining my self-esteem. I took a good, hard look at myself, flaws and all, and realized I had a lot of great qualities, but self-confidence wasn’t one of them.

Healing Old Wounds Isn’t For the Weak of Heart

Setting out to rectify the problem, I allowed myself to pick at those old scars, and embark on the incredibly painful process of tearing down decades-old walls to expose the raw, unhealed wounds they’d hidden but not protected. I learned I had to relive the pain before those wounds would heal, and frankly, had I known what I was in for, I might have chosen to leave well enough alone. Not that it would have been the better option, but it would have caused me a lot less pain in the short run.

Layer by layer, I’ve peeled away my barriers; to life, to love, and to connection. I’ve learned when you love someone you show it with kindness; with supportiveness. You build them up rather than tearing them down. You’re a non-judgemental sounding board, but you don’t sugar coat the truth either. Along the way, I’ve learned not to illuminate peoples’ pain points with sarcasm and ill-placed teasing.

Learning to Love the Healthy Way

Years into my tearing down and rebuilding process, I finally realized how badly my dad had treated me, and how eagerly I’d lapped up his distorted form of affection because I was so desperate to be loved. It affected the men I attracted, and the ones I chose to allow into my life for more than a minute. It made me toss away a couple of good ones too, but I know the women they ultimately found treat them better than I was, at the time, able. I’m glad they didn’t wait around to see if I’d figure it out. Without all the trauma I’ve been through, I never would have.

Now, I’ve spent hours venting my spleen about the way my dad treated me, and ultimately realized he acted as he was taught, and in all likelihood, to mask his own pain too. I’ve forgiven him his inability to love me properly, and found compassion for all he was never able to experience himself. Above all, I count myself lucky I was able to figure out how wrong; how destructive my family’s concept of love really was, and make changes in my life.

I’m most grateful I learned to be a more loving, supportive parent and friend for my daughter. When I do tease her now, it’s typically over something that made us laugh, rather than something she’s sensitive about. We have enough inside jokes and clumsiness between us to fill a book or ten, so there’s plenty of material without bringing cruelty into the mix.

In recent years, I’ve come to the conclusion one of my purposes is to break old family patterns. I am glad this is one that will end with me. Future generations won’t have to grow up with a wall of scars and a boat load of unhealed wounds.

Using Gratitude to Heal

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the family who raised me to realize their way wasn’t necessarily the right way.
  2. I’m grateful for the old wounds I’m slowly healing; properly this time.
  3. I’m grateful for the friendships I’ve formed since I stopped following the family patterns that made me a broken, unhappy woman.
  4. I’m grateful for the people who’ve shown me kindness instead of cruelty, even when I didn’t think I was worthy.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, friendship, joy, kindness, compassion, connection, vulnerability, peace, harmony, balance, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a Holistic 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

A Phoenix in Cowboy Boots: Borderline Family Thrives

Borderline Strong is More Than a Hashtag

Smiling faces and happy hearts filled the dance floor at what will soon be renovated to become BL Dancehall and Saloon.

Shortly after they got the keys, owners Brian Hynes and Troy Hale brought the Borderline family together in what will be our temporary home for the first time since the November 7, 2018 tragedy that closed the doors and scattered staff, as well as the dance family to the winds for over a year. Though most of us have found places to dance, and been given places with Borderline sponsored nights, it’s not the same as having a place filled with our own family energy; a place where once again we’re the hosts instead of the visitors.

The strength and resiliency of our community shows up in everything we do. Our family have been sorely tested, yet overall, it’s brought us closer together than ever. We see familiar faces at other locations and, though we don’t always know each other by name, hugs are shared because they’re familiar faces and family. We need no other reason.

Showing Our Love in Many Ways

Several people have invested time, money, and creative talents to protect and maintain the memorial which remains in front of our old home where we will one day return, even if it’s a couple of years off. The love and care they give, watering flowers, replacing candles, even cleaning up after vandals is a clear demonstration of a deep, enduring connection neither anger, hate, nor disrespect can weaken.

The waiting will be easier now we have a place which already feels like our old home; the walls resonating with the love and energy unique to Borderline. Like our original home, the new bar is a converted restaurant so instead of dark, blank walls, a row of windows faces the parking lot, giving the place a warm, welcoming feel. A large, glassed in patio gives us a place to cool off a bit after the DJ’s have kept us on the floor for song after song. (Think Garth Brooks’ “Long-necked Bottle) Familiar faces man the bar, the doors, and the DJ booth, playing the music and dances we all know and love.

I’m inspired and overjoyed by the pictures filling the Facebook groups created over the last year; faces aglow with joy and hope; a dance floor once again filled with “the usual suspects”. Photos overflow onto personal pages proving again that there are no strangers when the Borderline family gathers.

No Place Like Home

Brian Hynes

The efforts of Brian, Troy, and the Borderline staff over the last year or so are evident in the plans for a new dance floor and decor, and a feel that up to now, could be found nowhere else but Borderline. The months since the tragedy have to have been especially difficult for the people who have worked so hard to ensure we keep dancing; the owners and management, the instructors, the DJ’s, and the always smiling staff whose faces we saw at the front of the house every week.

Seeing everyone together again, some with small children in tow was, in my opinion, one of the most healing experiences we’ve had so far. Opening the place before renovations began so we could see where we’ll once again meet regularly, and in the very near future was an act which demonstrates how enormous and all-encompassing the heart and soul of Borderline truly is. In the immortal words of Judy Garland:

There’s no place like home!

The Family Who Stays Together Thrives Together

DJ Josh Kelly

So many people have contributed to keeping the family together; our unique connections alive. Instructors who opened their homes or found alternate venues for dancing and workshops, Brian who worked out an arrangement for Borderline nights at the Canyon, DJ Josh who set up his equipment in parking lots, malls, barns, and finally, BL Dancehall and Saloon to keep us dancing while Borderline undergoes major renovations. Not to be overlooked are fellow dancers who opened their homes and barns, or arranged for space, security, and whatever else we needed to both dance and feel safe.

Most of all, we have a family who pulled together, and never gave up hope that our home would be rebuilt. The fundraisers, the Healing Garden built in a ridiculously short amount of time, the lights and orbs on the oak tree in the Borderline parking lot, the beautiful memorial which, though damaged by weather and vandals, continues to be lovingly maintained; all give proof our family can be battered but never broken.

For over a year, the Borderline family has gathered in a multitude of places ranging from malls, to churches, to other clubs, and even private homes. Sometimes, we’ve talked, others, danced, but we’ve always shared hugs, laughter, and tears.

Celebrating Life and Lives with Dance

We marked the week of the one year anniversary with memorials and celebrations, but most notably by ceremonies and dancing in a beautiful garden dedicated, not only to the 12 souls we lost, but to the resiliency and cohesiveness of the country dance community, and specifically, the Borderline family. Supported by the City of Thousand Oaks, the garden was completed in a superhuman amount of time. The magnitude of the project would normally take years, but was completed in months. 

The bonds, the hopes, the continued belief that Borderline would return in physical form at some point remained alive without question. We all simply believed. As we became dancing vagabonds, traveling near and far to keep our love of dancing alive, and to remain connected with the rest of our family, we sometimes grew frustrated with always being the visitors and never the hosts, though many venues welcomed us with open arms.

A Home of Our Own Again

What we’ve most wanted; most needed over the last year was to be back in a home of our own. Brian, Troy, and the Borderline staff, displaced themselves, knew it was the missing piece in everyone’s healing process, and worked tirelessly to resolve what I can only think have been gargantuan issues standing between the dream and the reality. Rumors flew; hopes rose and fell, but we waited for the official word to come from Brian.

Brian along with his partner, Troy did not disappoint. Though it’s a good news-bad news scenario for now, they’ve given us something we never expected while what they’re saying could be a 2-year process to rebuild our home runs its course. They found an existing location which, with a few changes can be our temporary home. Where once again, we have a place we can be the hosts instead of the visitors.

Shortly after they got the keys, the new sign went up and the dance family was able to spend a few hours not only checking out our temporary home, but christening it in the best way we know how. While DJ Josh Kelly kept the music going, we tore up the floor (figuratively, of course) with 5 hours of dancing, re-connecting, hugging, laughter, and maybe a few tears. Knowing we’d have a home in a matter of weeks instead of months or years created a euphoria that continues long after the music stopped, the lights went out, and the doors were locked. 

Healing Hearts and Happy Faces

An undeniable energy permeated the bar; a euphoria arising from the knowledge we’d soon be back in a place of our own where the faces we’d seen nearly every week for years would once again fill every nook and cranny; where the staff we’d come to know and love would be serving drinks and food, keeping the place running smoothly, greeting regulars with hugs and smiles, and best of all, keeping us dancing.

I know I wasn’t alone with a smile that seemed permanently affixed to my face, and an inability to sit for more than a couple of minutes before jumping up to dance or greet another family member.

Our hearts might have been shattered on November 7, 2018, but on December 14, 2019, Brian and his tireless team showed us how hard they’ve been working to help put those collective hearts back together, perhaps broken and bruised, but overall, stronger and more resilient than anyone would have guessed.

A Bright Light Pierces the Darkness

The work on our temporary home has just begun but will soon ring with laughter, music, and stomping feet. Our original home will take awhile longer, but with a place to grow our healing energy in the best way we know how, the wait and sense of loss won’t feel as intense as it has up to now.

We have a place to once again celebrate birthdays, engagements, retirements, anniversaries, and everything else we’ve grown accustomed to sharing with our dance family. Every celebration missed over the last year left a hole in our hearts no amount of pictures from previous celebrations could fill. Thankfully, we don’t have to find alternative places to celebrate in the coming year, though I, for one won’t take having that special place for granted ever again. 

Above all, what Brian, Troy, and their team have done casts a much wider net. Amidst the anger and violence which has cast dark clouds on our society in the last few years, re-opening Borderline, and, in the interim, opening BL Dancehall and Saloon sets a precedent for clubs closed down by violence. As much as people have been forced to endure, love will always win.

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a Holistic 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

Triggered by Suicide…Again

Triggers Bring Memories and Healing

https://www.flickr.com/photos/erix/66519749/in/photolist-6SW1e-VTKUdm-M1eYnL-242z7nc-oqkg1j-proThx-fsTWuh-6k2FkX-o4wR24-y6Zwr-KfMCGq-SFv9cS-8hfbmZ-bfs4it-SkpXJ5-fTkgBF-SRG43L-oaSpyU-6LELFf-8sY2Wq-65Q84A-4uhkK6-4CwKmQ-21jdqXp-ry5GpM-RHagrR-s7emTJ-b8moxH-pgqTW-GmKEPY-7h7g9p-6tuV9R-r3UHnJ-9kePpX-b1DnC2-9Gv9Kj-RFjn7k-6tuPQR-2b4oHPW-nxaMN8-Kez8E-6tuN7i-dUaLfP-6nXEKq-TiiQCx-nXxmkn-hCDNRa-CFeyn-2YRhRS-9BUEVLosing someone to suicide means spending the rest of your life remembering. Though the daily reminders might fade as the years go by, you never know when someone or something will bring the memories flooding back; memories of what was, but also memories of what could have been.

At the end of this month, it will be 26 years since my mom ended her life. Unlike many who lose someone to suicide, my mom and I weren’t close. In fact, I’d say we had more of a love-hate relationship. The one thing the years have done is to soften the hard edges of our conflicted love and allow me to see past her hard shell to the woman she hid from the world. Sometimes though, my new-found compassion and gentler love for the woman who gave me life, and ultimately took her own means a trigger hits me harder for the years it’s lain dormant. It’s a harsh reminder I have feelings yet to unpack, address, and release.

This time, it happened while driving past the town where I grew up. So much has changed. Even new freeway off ramps have been added in the decades since we first moved there. Miles of previously empty land is now filled with car dealerships and office buildings. Still, memories of a childhood spent running, hiking, and biking through land where deer and rabbits ran freely,  over faint paths few feet had yet to traverse erase signs of progress, After spending my first 12 years in an area surrounded by buildings and concrete sidewalks, I can still see the verdant green hills I mostly took for granted as a teenager. 

Time Blurs the Edges of My Memories

My mind didn’t only see the land for what it once was, but my life as well. It stripped away all 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-w9TTqthe ugliness; the fights, the angry words, the years I barely spoke to my mom, leaving a bone-deep sadness. She only stayed around for 6 years of her granddaughters’ lives, though I know she absolutely adored them, and loved being a grandmother.

Forgetting for a moment how much she drove me crazy when it came to my daughters, I wondered how different things might be. Those thoughts pause with my youngest. We’ve been estranged for years, and I don’t really know her 10-year-old daughter. Would Mom’s presence have made a difference when I struggled with 2 headstrong teenagers pushing hard for the freedom of adulthood far too soon?

I spent 16 years denying any feelings for my mom’s passing other than guilt. Guilt over not feeling sad; for fighting too much and listening too little; for what I could have or would have done differently had I known how much she was struggling. For 16 years I avoided the need inside myself to acknowledge the deeper feelings of loss, abandonment, and grief.

Letting Go to Let People Help

In the last 10 years, I’ve put a lot of time and effort into unpacking those feelings; acknowledging some, denying others. I’ve shared many of them, and learned there are many others who need a non-judgemental ear, but didn’t know where to look. Breaking the seal on my own belief system concerning suicide and mental health has benefited me more than anyone, and not just by releasing pent-up feelings. I get to hear other peoples’ stories and struggles too. They’ve been a tremendous help in teaching me how to accept my own feelings without beating myself up, or hearing my dad’s voice saying; “You shouldn’t feel like that.” Words I tried hard to live up to in my false belief it would make him love me, and actually show it with kindness instead of ridicule.

In the process, I’ve had to recognize and accept the wagon load of anger I’ve been carrying towards my dad for failing to fill the void of love I believed I lost from my mom when my sister was born. I had to learn he loved me the best he could, and showed it as he’d been taught to show love. That the criticism and ridicule he’d been taught by his own parents tore away at my fragile self-esteem escaped his notice. He didn’t know how to see it. Nor did he see how hard I tried to live up to his impossible standards which, in hindsight, I don’t think he managed either. We both learned to hide it well. The tragedy is, he never learned he could stop hiding.

I’ve gained a lot while unpacking and sharing my feelings over the least decade. The greatest gift has been loving and supportive friends. Being able to accept and embrace my Empathic abilities has been a huge part of the process. More and more, I get to see the people around me opening up to theirs as well, and it strengthens our connection in ways which often surprise me.

A Time To Isolate and Process

There are still times I need to withdraw; to go inside and process my latest revelation or trigger. I’ll find myself alone in a crowd as I did the night this trigger hit—drifting from one group to the next, isolating for a few minutes, getting lost in a line dance; one only with the music and the floor beneath my feet. For the most part, each trigger reminds me of the need to keep working through feelings as they arise no matter when, where, or how. There’s no longer an option to put it off until it’s convenient. I’ve learned feelings are never convenient, and the more I stuffed them down, the less convenient they became. I have my share of meltdowns to prove that one!

Though it took awhile, I’ve learned to see the blessings more than the traumas, and that some of those traumas were necessary. I’m not the woman I was 26 years ago when mom let her demons win. Nor am I the woman I was when dad did the same 10 years later. Growth has come in stages. First I had to learn to love myself. It was probably my biggest hurdle given the number of years I’d failed to measure up to my parents’ expectations.

I spent decades telling myself I didn’t care, but the only person I might have deceived was myself, and in hindsight, that’s unlikely. Deep down inside where I stuffed all my feelings, fooling myself into believing they’d stay put, was someone who saw through all the subterfuge and attempts at self-preservation. After all, my very sanity was at stake.

Finding the Validation I Needed From Within

The voices in my head, not unlike the ones I’m sure my parents fought, never let me forget how close I came to losing it on many occasions. But do you know what? They’ve grown softer since I started acknowledging the buried feelings; not only the ones since my parents’ suicides, but the ones I tried to ignore from childhood all the way into my 40’s. Like the child I was; desperate for a demonstrative love my parents were incapable of giving, the child inside me wanted nothing more or less than to have her feelings acknowledged and validated. Only in recent years have I discovered, thanks to a lot of soul-searching and a seemingly endless flow of triggers, that all the validation I need—that I’ve ever needed is, and always will be inside myself.

This may sound weird, but in a lot of ways, I’m grateful for my parents’ suicides. They cut me loose from a lot of unrealistic expectations and allowed me to eventually start finding my own way. It gave me a chance to love and accept myself for who I am and realize I didn’t need to perpetuate old familial patterns.

They also cut me loose from a family which knew no better than my parents. Being abandoned by the rest of my family for decades turned out to be the most valuable gift I received. It gave me time, space, and new examples of the woman I wanted to be when the dust cleared and the walls crumbled. It allowed me to become part of a healthier, happier family of friends who are helping me find the person I’m meant to be without judgement or expectations.

Building a Life of Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for triggers that help me learn, acknowledge, release, and move on.
  2. I’m grateful for supportive friends who’ve been through their own hell to learn to accept their feelings as valid and valuable.
  3. I’m grateful for a daughter with whom I can speak openly and honestly, even when we’re polar opposites in our beliefs.
  4. I’m grateful I’ve learned to accept the times I need to go inside and muddle through the latest batch of feelings without letting the process overwhelm me.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, friendship, triggers, lessons, challenges, opportunities, growth, empathy, compassion, peace, harmony, balance, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a Holistic 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

Trauma Management Skills

Every Trauma is Unique

traumaMy trauma isn’t your trauma. Even if we experienced the same traumatizing event, my life experiences and coping mechanisms will paint my perceptions with a different pallet of colors than yours. Though we’ll ultimately have to go through many of the same steps in the healing process, I’ll go through them in a different order, spending more time on some and less on others. My needs are different and defined by how much I’ve stuffed down, released, denied, or revisited from previous traumas. They’ll  also be impacted by whatever else life throws at me in the meantime.

My process isn’t right for you, nor yours for me. But it’s exactly right for each of us with no set timeline nor point when you or I will be completely healed from the event. I will simply keep traveling on my healing journey as will you with many triumphs and setbacks along the way.

Still, I see so many similarities as I read articles and posts from others who are at various stages in their healing process. It doesn’t really matter whether the trauma is old or new, dealt with right away, or held deep inside for decades. Once the process of healing and releasing begins, the road traveled has many common stops along the way.

Not only does the process share components, but so does the way we coped with the trauma initially. Personally, I can only speak from the “holding it all in until you burst” camp, and as such, relate well to those who suffered childhood trauma, or years of abuse before they finally made the break, realizing they did not deserve such treatment, eventually learning they didn’t bear any responsibility. Those people opened my eyes to how emotionally bankrupt my own childhood was, not because my parents didn’t care, but because it was the only thing they, themselves knew.

Peeling Your Own Coping Skills Onion

Healing from trauma is like peeling an onion, but never reaching the very center. Often, in the process there are layers which go back to previous generations. In my case, my family’s primary coping mechanism was to stuff things down and try to ignore their existence. I don’t know if any of them realized (or realize, depending on the generation) how destructive it was and is. I believe when it originated, it was more of a survival mechanism than a choice. Unfortunately, when it was no longer a matter of life and death, the pattern was so deeply ingrained as to be considered normal.

I’ve always been a rebel in my family. Never really fitting in. Never trying to conform to familial patterns. I was always too sensitive or too outspoken, and in hindsight, made people uncomfortable by overtly questioning what was considered appropriate behavior. To me, it never made sense to bottle things up or pretend I didn’t feel something, though I truly did try to conform, much to my detriment. It took me years to figure out why. I just assumed I was some kind of misfit. In a way I was, but I see now it’s not in a bad way.

Failure to Fit In is a Red Flag

https://www.flickr.com/photos/101561334@N08/10197031243/in/photolist-gx5s8v-jFvehZ-ceYKvY-gx4Gcf-Qv32MQ-gx58Ji-aavAwk-k15Tk9-gcokN-jYnA9p-pts3CH-KErQUu-fMFuKi-5gvfXp-gx5zqD-594W8Y-gx5GPp-gx4EMG-S7Jpw1-P5f7sP-VMMRHL-oiRYiu-7pPH6E-2bXKRhj-2cLerFQ-oxWTqS-psDwB2-ceXTFN-amxUkM-2bsd6t6-N7Lj5T-cbSXFd-YtbGJE-bNJ5H-RNvZP3-kiboPh-WmzxPu-7UzoSM-24eKtUM-cjgru7-n3pBeq-7PK4bp-ajX4J8-nk5bJN-88HFFJ-W18WBb-jBnrh2-ciDDMd-TzUwZm-8wqYSTIf I don’t fit in with my family and their attitudes, it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with me. In fact, I’ve come to understand it means there’s something right. Coping with trauma by stuffing it all inside wasn’t healthy for me, and probably isn’t for anyone else, but I can only change my own approach. If anyone learns something by my example, that’s great, but it’s not my purpose. It is, however, my purpose to break a dysfunctional family pattern, if only in my own line, and then, only a part of it. You can lead a horse to water, as it were.

Part of the process has meant cutting ties that no longer serve me, and creating new ones that do. Too many of the ties I’ve cut are blood, but we can’t help who we’re related to. In fact, I believe I chose them in order to drive me to the point where I had to learn the lessons and cut the ties if I wanted to do more than just survive. I’ve learned I deserve to have supportive people around me; people who have my back as I have theirs. I deserve to thrive.

My life is, in it’s own way, no different than anyone else’s. I’ve had traumas and triumphs, but mostly long periods of living, learning, and coasting along. Sometimes I’m oblivious and others, sharply and sometimes painfully aware. I put time and effort into healing, then step back and allow things to settle into the newest version of me. If I get too complacent, something or someone comes along to shake me out of my complacency, forcing me to put some effort into releasing more that doesn’t serve me to replace it with something healthier.

Triggers Get Me Moving When I’ve Become Complacent

I “get to” experience triggers periodically. Triggers like the murder-suicide at my favorite dance 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-di6ynQclub, or hearing a friend lost a family member to suicide, and being asked for my insight. Those triggers often set off a visceral reaction; tears, sadness, and a general withdrawal into myself. It doesn’t last long, but reminds me there are layers I’ve yet to uncover, much less, heal and release.

Worse is when family members have felt they had the right to be cruel to my daughter or me. Despite knowing what they’re capable of from long experience, and recognizing they’re only venting their own pain on what they think is a safe target, I can’t help feeling a level of disbelief that people could treat their own family badly. I also know they came from the same place I’ve been working hard to heal and leave behind. Still, it’s where abuse starts, and if boundaries and barriers aren’t set, often escalates. Even so, my heart aches for all the broken people out there who think causing pain to others will ease their own. They never learn how to heal themselves, and will come into their next life with many of the same unlearned lessons.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned as I allow myself to go through an often painful process towards healing is compassion for others, including those who mistreat me or the people I love. I know they aren’t coping with their pain, but trying unsuccessfully to fling it outwards. It isn’t always easy to avoid the initial feelings of anger, but ultimately, those feelings degrade into pity. It’s not exactly compassion, but I’m not adding negative energy to their own in the process. It’s more of an energy void. I strive for forgiveness, but frankly, there are some with whom I have to settle for pity and leave it at that. Maybe in my next life I’ll be able to forgive. For now, I’m focused on learning how to handle trauma in a healthier, more productive manner.

And when all else fails, I fling imaginary heart-shaped confetti.

Gratitude Reminds Me How Far I’ve Come

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the traumas I’ve suffered, the coping mechanisms I’ve put in place, and the lessons I’m learning from both as I continue to heal.
  2. I’m grateful for people I meet who are willing to be open about their own traumas and the challenges they’ve faced in trying to heal.
  3. I’m grateful for vulnerability. Without it, there is no healing.
  4. I’m grateful for a new moniker, “Holistic Ghostwriter” which was given to me recently.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; friendship, choices, love, challenges, lessons, trauma, healing, forgiving, imaginary heart-shaped confetti, dancing, health, harmony, peace, 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

Insecurity May Lie Dormant But Never Dies

The Scared Little Girl Who Lurks Inside

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-8w9YqrAfter having a disturbing and bizarre dream, I remembered someone saying that the really bizarre and disturbing ones carry a message, but not what we’d think. The more disturbing and bizarre they are, the more they’re simply trying to get our attention. After spending 30 or 40 minutes writing out what I remembered of the dream, I found the underlying message. The message itself was uncomfortable and disturbing.

For all the work I’ve done on myself, the scared, insecure little girl is still alive and well. I still believe people don’t notice when I’m not around, and that I have no one to turn to if I’m feeling really disturbed or distressed.

Talking to a couple of girlfriends later that night, I realized I’m not alone on many levels. First, because I have people who understand and are there for me, but second, because they too feel insecure and alone a lot of the time.

Self-Protection on Overdrive

This feeling of alone-ness wasn’t the biggest revelation, however. As I looked at myself, my friends, and what we have and haven’t shared, I realized there are still large parts of me I share with no one. Whether it’s fear of being judged (something I learned I share with my friends), fear of letting more of my broken parts see the light of day, or fear of losing my ability to, at least occasionally wear a strong facade, I’m stuck in some of the same old patterns.

On a conscious level, I know until I’m willing to accept and acknowledge those parts I continue to keep hidden, I am, in some ways no closer to healing than I was 10 years ago. Sure, I’ve made progress, but there are parts of me still unwilling to let go. There are pieces of my heart still encased in bubble wrap to hold all the broken parts together.

The Long, Winding Healing Journey

Created with CanvaHealing means carefully unwrapping those parts, laying them out so I can see where the broken edges fit together, then fitting the pieces back together like an intricate jigsaw puzzle. Once the edges are matched, I need to glue them back together, not with adhesive or even gold like the Japanese kintsugi, but with love and understanding. I have to share my brokenness with the people who love me so they can help me put the broken parts back together stronger and more resilient.

I realize now I’ve opened up about some things, but most are experiences I’ve had, not my deepest, darkest feelings. Those continue to hide in the depths of my mind and heart, mired in darkness, afraid of coming into the light. They blink and squint if I so much as allow a single beam into their sacred space.

Overcoming My Own Resistance

Like my mind resisting change, those broken bits and pieces resist being put back together. 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-V4V7jqThey know the process will mean they have to grow and adapt because the reassembly won’t be the same as their original construction. In fact, I may find a way to put them together into a different structure entirely; one which utilizes parts from all.

Isn’t that really what our lives entail? We break apart and put ourselves back together, but never in the same way. New experiences become part of our new structure making it stronger, but also changing it forever. Once reassembled, there’s no going back to the old ways, because who we were no longer exists. We’ve taken life’s experiences and woven them into the fabric of our lives indelibly.

By hiding all the times I shattered into a million pieces inside myself I don’t allow the rebuilding. I don’t allow myself to be stronger for my experiences. I fail to grow and evolve.

A Reminder I Still Need to Get Out of My Own Way

https://www.flickr.com/photos/nhoulihan/4038592452/in/photolist-79SQQm-TfUffd-pgu9hJ-qfYXYE-pDVWDB-6UQgZM-KFog6C-TFYhqd-29TMHM-fP6i28-j73ZT5-atsnGd-C4HxXs-5eRdT5-YoKVff-24PBcMS-28G1ckh-AqrzL-haocsM-o1RCfj-4iigfF-6hbQxG-TCfZem-qVx4n8-U63bC7-dCTxQg-amkKyF-eiY1qF-Ct5hqm-hSGXpV-BcaCh-8c2bVB-27RWaS2-eQjYy1-cJWTgw-ehKQWJ-AJSt63-ay4RXc-cxa1zW-UFe9Vq-aC3EP1-pkL1fr-ehKSrs-qxMMJj-bvMGyV-VG1fkR-ay4Sgv-aDNaMx-aE1tNY-h7171rI might believe I’ve come a long way, and in fact, I have. But I’ve put giant boulders in the way to prevent progress in certain directions. Thus, I’m rebuilding on shaky ground once again, because I’m leaving too many crumbling parts in my foundation.

My disturbing and bizarre dream was a pointed reminder I can’t ignore all those piles of broken pieces. I need to incorporate them into the newest version of me I’m building. Leaving them out means returning to ground zero again and again until I figure out how to weave them into the fabric of my life, not as failures, but as lessons.

The voice of the frightened little girl inside me is growing louder and more insistent. Opportunities to open up, bring those pieces into the light, and join them to the pieces I’ve acquired through life lessons are here. They become more obvious and accessible every day. But until I bring those broken pieces into the light, I can’t fully avail myself of those opportunities. I can’t complete the assembly without those pieces as well.

Creating a Mosaic of My Life

Like you, I’m a mosaic; a combination of pieces accumulated over the years from each time I created with Canvabroke, but also, each time something or someone came along and offered me some of the missing pieces to help strengthen my structure. How many times did I turn away and fold further into myself, refusing the help, ignoring someone else’s need to help me grow? How many times did I fail to see my broken parts fit exactly into someone else’s?

Talking to my friends, we admit to holding back parts of ourselves we’re not ready to share. Yet do I; do they really know what those parts are any more? They’ve been buried so long, I suspect were we to pull out all of our parts and lay them on the table, we’d find we could put them together in just about any manner, taking pieces from each other and fitting them into our own mosaic. The result would not only be stronger, but more beautiful for all the different shades and facets we bring together.

Creating a Safe Space Together

https://www.flickr.com/photos/philleara/7246573430/in/photolist-c3mzPd-djJiUe-oajKtQ-djJjmv-djJjLR-oapGkZ-djJjb9-djJj5F-cntb2u-7Y2xWm-cntayf-c3mLB3-n329S-7XYhYD-cntbhs-TCrSUz-gg7DZE-gg7XMV-6Ak5ks-9a2C7g-djJjz6-cntb85-rCKS6-cntag1-azBhou-3oXQYc-cnta8q-cntaL7-ocbPjv-oa7hn8-fJm576-baRPgp-7Y2xp7-8ommnm-bA1QHR-cnt9j1-dmywKj-7Y2x7b-4vwAew-aAPJwq-oa7iJB-cnt9xu-2FtNgi-gunWiW-hLgWLK-e4kv6P-2FtPvB-9GPQLh-4vsuDF-baRMyvPerhaps that’s the answer. Instead of trying to force ourselves to open the box where we store all our missteps, our broken dreams, our losses, and our fears, we need to open them in the safety and comfort of friendship where everyone shares pieces, and we create one giant piece of art which is better able to withstand life’s earthquakes and mudslides.

We learn different lessons as we travel through life. What I know well, someone else needs support and guidance. Where I feel weak and unable to withstand the gentlest breeze, someone else has mastered and can help me become stronger.

Years of trying to manage everything alone has certainly left its mark on me. It’s left a similar mark on many of my friends. We’ve all learned we’re stronger together, but are still learning how to maneuver the “together” part without needing to pull back into our shells, afraid of being let down or broken once again. Until I do; until we do, we’ll continue fumbling in the dark in some areas, never quite seeing that the path in front of us is smoother than we believe.

Need Help Putting it All Together?

Are you struggling to keep all of your entrepreneurial balls in the air? Would you like to take a task or two off your plate? Maybe it’s content creation, or perhaps it’s getting your books in order and creating a budget. If this sounds familiar and you’re ready to streamline your life and give your business space to grow and thrive, CONTACT ME and let’s talk!

Grateful for Who I Was, Who I Am, and Who I Can Become

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for friends who understand I’m still struggling in some ways.
  2. I am grateful for disturbing and bizarre dreams which make me take a good hard look at what I’m doing with my life.
  3. I am grateful for friends who aren’t afraid to share some of their broken parts with me.
  4. I am grateful for days alone when I can sink into introspection. They make me face the world outside with more confidence, not so much in my abilities alone, but in the knowledge that I’m not alone at all.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, friendship, imperfections, community, joy, dancing kitty love, 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

Happy Dates When Our Hearts Lead the Way

Switching My Attention to Happy Dates

It’s a funny thing about January 25th. It’s my ex-husband’s birthday, and also the day I found out I was having twins—31 years ago <gasp!>.

In previous posts I’ve written about how dates bring back memories, but most of the time, I write about the sad ones. In truth, if we put our minds to it, we have far more dates we associate with happy memories than sad ones. The sad ones just have a tendency to leap into our brains faster, maybe because the feelings they elicit are somehow more intense.

It could also mean we aren’t done healing from the trauma, tragedy, or letdown seeing the date on the calendar each year elicits. Like the lessons we need to learn (like patience for me), things we need to heal come back to haunt us over and over until we do the work we need to and release ourselves from pain.

Telling Our Brain to Back Off And Let Our Heart Lead

Admittedly, our brains like pain because it means we stagnate, avoiding change and crawling 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-cS691Nback into our status quo cave. But when we listen to our ‘fraidy cat brain, I think our gentle heart breaks a little more each time we deny ourselves the pleasure of a little adventure; a little change. Sure, our hearts break when we try new things that don’t work out, but it’s a resilient sort, and knits itself back together each time, especially if we give it something new to focus on.

I’m not making this stuff up. Believe me, I’ve lived both ways, and I much prefer the bumps and bruises I’ve gathered on my adventures to the sad, lonely years I spent huddled in my hidy hole, afraid to venture out for fear of pain, ridicule, or humiliation. In fact, I’ve learned that being my own weird self is actually something people want to see!

Perfection is a Poor Disguise

Nobody out there is perfect, so seeing perfection in others is intimidating and off-putting. I don’t know about you, but I find it difficult to relate to someone who appears to have no flaws or weaknesses. The woman who shows up at the office immaculately groomed every day, and wouldn’t even flinch if you squirted ketchup all over her pristine, white blouse is probably a tumultuous mess inside.

That guy who always has the right answer and is organized to a fault probably has panic attacks when something is even a teensy bit out of place. He searches for controllable structure in a world which is unwilling to cooperate, so he spends his life waiting to pounce on the next nonconformity. He hides himself away, studying every possibility so he’ll be ready with an answer before the question is asked while life passes him by.

Taking the Lessons and Leaving the Pain Behind

Many people focus on the unhappy times, revisiting them over and over trying to figure out how they could have changed the outcome. It’s over folks. It happened, and you can’t change the past. Dwelling on it only screws up your future. Letting it go allows you to move forward with a clean slate, perhaps a little the worse for wear, but you’ve learned where some of the perils and pitfalls lurk in the process.

Bruises heal, clothes and bodies wash. So what if we end up rolling in the mud once in awhile. Who knows? You might just like it!

Go Ahead, Live the Adventure

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-cutrGUTo be honest, I’m probably one of the least adventurous of my friends. One man in his 70’s still takes off on his motorcycle every week just for fun. He plans trips to Europe with friends where they ride all over the countryside, and he’s not looking to stop his adventures any time soon.

Another friend moved to North Dakota after her divorce and lived in a trailer without power for a couple of months, alone in the middle of nowhere. She followed Cavalia to Arizona when it’s California run ended. These days, she divides her time between cleaning pools and working with horses, with a little dancing thrown in for good measure. Unlike me, she dates now and then, not afraid to give someone a chance. In contrast, I either go on the defensive or am utterly oblivious; mostly the latter.

What these two have in common is they follow their hearts and don’t think about potential consequences or pitfalls. They’ve fallen and picked themselves up enough times, they don’t worry about it. They take one day at a time, and when life gives them rocks and mudslides, they find their footing and chuck the rocks back. They pile up the happy memories so those come to the forefront rather than the sad ones.

My Pushme-Pullyou Lifestyle

I’ve embraced adventure and taken some leaps of faith in the last few years, though I’m still retreating too often. It takes me a little longer to get up when I fall, yet I always do.

It’s funny, because as I look back on my life, I realize I’ve always lived it believing when things go wrong, it leaves me free for something better. Yet a lot of the wrongness in my life has been because I let someone else dictate the direction. So when they dumped me on my butt, it was a blessing in disguise to stop having to follow their lead. Even so, for years, I continued to put my fate in other peoples’ hands, never leaving until I was shoved, never learning to trust myself instead—until about 5 years ago.

I won’t say my road has been smooth, and I’ve given up a lot of things in the process. But nothing I’ve given up really matters in the general scheme of things, and some needed to go. But until now, I didn’t know how to do without them; didn’t believe I could. Now, I have trouble remembering why some of them were important in the first place except they supported an image that was never really me in the first place, or brought some relief from the stress and strain of turning myself into a pretzel so people would like and accept me.

Fitting In By Being You

You could say the leap of faith that left me intentionally jobless has taught me a lot of the things I did to fit in were never necessary, and were in fact, a waste of my time and effort. The real me, t-shirt and shorts, messy bun, bare feet, natural nails, and no makeup is a happier, healthier version of the woman who turned herself inside out to please the unplease-able, fit in with those who had no intention of accepting her, and worked overtime for those who were never grateful and only expected more.

Sometimes the adventure of a lifetime is getting up the nerve to be yourself and damn the consequences. For me, that happened on December 6, 2013 when I left the Corporate world forever. Suddenly, I fit just fine! Is it any wonder I look back less and less every day? What masks and ill-fitting characters have you shed lately? Is it time to do some more house cleaning?

Grateful Every Single Day For Things Large and Small

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful I’ve learned to listen more to my heart than my head.
  2. I am grateful for new adventures awaiting me around the next bend.
  3. I am grateful for the people in my life who love me as I am, messy, chaotic, clumsy, or brilliant. It’s all part of the unique individual I’m finally allowing myself to let show.
  4. I am grateful for rainy days and Mondays when I leave the house only to go to the gym, then come home to work with the sound of the rain spattering my window, and the cats going nuts because that’s what they do on those rare occasions when we get real rain around here.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; inspiration, motivation, butt-kickers, cheerleaders, friends, love, joy, compassion, support, wisdom, non-conformity, 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

Family Are the People Who Accept Us As-Is

Looking Back At Where I’ve Been

Lately I’m getting more and more comments about what I’m putting on this page. For the most part, they’re positive, especially the ones I get face to face. I started this journey in early 2009; a time when I was lonely, angry, and crouching miserably behind walls of my own making. As far as I knew, the last person who cared whether I lived, got up in the morning, or died was getting ready to move out, though as it happens, her actual departure occurred a couple of years later. Still, the rift between us was growing.

Yet in spite of our arguments and an inability to see eye to eye on many things, my daughter Heather encouraged me to do something she knew gave me pleasure, but was a gift I seldom gave myself.

If Not For Heather, You Wouldn’t Be Reading This

It was Heather who not only convinced me to start a blog but helped me set it up. Heather nagged and prodded until I agreed to spend a long Mother’s Day weekend in Sedona. And Heather helped launch a memoir which would take me on a journey of brutal honesty, but more importantly, a healing I wasn’t aware I needed.

There have been stumbles along the way, like having her find out about my mom’s and dad’s suicides from my blog (I truly thought by then she knew), or months on end when posts were sporadic at best. But overall, I know without her help and encouragement, I’d never have started writing again; started breaking down the walls; learning how valuable and uplifting vulnerability can be.

Healing My Wounds A Thousand Words At A Time

https://www.flickr.com/photos/34167287@N05/23787059822/in/photolist-CeYUa5-f3skzG-26xyyFN-8Uqt6v-7RUJnT-5631Bv-9KzjET-otM3UU-9KC7p3-6EcqkE-rtobLr-5xx9XP-7Bj5nM-4JDZ1E-21oAHiQ-7Csyge-7YZVSv-7Z4a4L-7Z4a5b-4Btbxi-5m1iya-i54aYC-4BxARm-i54aXq-YA2ERd-4kmex7-WgVGRw-8GceK9-i548Lu-6m1sit-ospDf4-58cZtS-i54b7d-ggwmL-cKWfHj-bg5Uu-bsSgAg-8GcvXA-q68RzV-4fFkFc-e3cS7q-aQ7Ph-bg8hZ-q6pHnG-4VXWUt-dYksek-277AbZE-4VWArR-4VXUXR-2b2aNGJEach post I write these days is a testament to the progress I’ve made and the wounds I’ve healed thanks to a daughter who knew instinctively what I needed when I myself was oblivious (a state I’ve found myself in at many critical junctions). Without realizing it, she taught me the value in reaching out to others, not necessarily intending to help them. Instead, she taught me to let people know I was far from perfect and that my life had taken a few dramatic, traumatic twists and turns. In other words, there were times I was the one who needed help, even if I couldn’t or wouldn’t ask.

I won’t say I wasn’t terrified at first. But it was also getting harder to hide the cracks in my masks, so ripping the band aid off didn’t seem so bad once I was a few years into digging up the old feelings and memories. The responses I got have been unexpected to say the least.

When I first started talking openly about my parents’ suicides, I admit I was prepared to shut down again quickly if the responses were the expected horror and shock. Instead, I heard from friends and acquaintances who’d also lost someone to suicide. It seemed I’d opened a door we all needed opened, but hadn’t the courage, or perhaps the foolhardiness to open it ourselves. Knowing people were out there who understood what we’d been through and how hard it was to find anyone to listen while we talked felt like a huge boulder being removed from our shoulders.

Attracted By Common Wounds, Connected With Our Hearts

Making that tiny chink in my facade caused a ripple effect, changing the tone of my blog posts, opening my eyes to possibilities about my parents’ deaths, but best of all, allowing me to start releasing the guilt I’d been carrying for nearly 2 decades and beginning to heal. Until that point, I think I was simply rehashing the past. Discarding the first chapter of my memoir and doing a complete re-write is evidence that what I was feeling and believing when I first started writing has undergone a massive restructuring in recent years.

I know I still have a long way to go but being open and honest, allowing people to see my wounds and scars has brought an entirely new family into my life. I now have people who grieve with me when I lose a cherished pet, check on me regularly, encourage me with my writing, and are simply there for me, no questions asked. I’ve never had that before. Not because these people weren’t there, but because I wasn’t letting anyone in.

Alone But Never Lonely Any More

For years I watched friends connect, getting together outside of dancing to engage in other social activities. My social life was dancing. I showed up alone and went home alone. I sat in front of the TV on nights I wasn’t dancing, or played games on the computer. Occasionally, I read something from my extensive and ever-growing library, but mostly, I was a lump.

I got no exercise outside of my regular dance nights. I ate whatever sounded good, or what was easy to grab. I was angry at the world except when I was dancing.

In a way, that life is a good thing as it reminds of how much I never want to go back there. And I look at my sister. We haven’t spoken in several years now, and the occasional overture she makes to reopen a conversation meets with firm rebuttal. It’s not that I don’t love her. But I’ve learned I can’t allow someone who finds joy in misery back in my life. She’s living a life I wouldn’t wish on anyone, but frankly, she was embittered long before she became ill.

Learning It’s OK To Walk Away From Toxic Relationships

I know she’s in contact with the rest of my estranged family, so I know she’s not alone, and find some comfort in knowing someone will be there when her needs become critical. Even my youngest daughter seems to have found a common ally, so I hope she offers a little of her time too.

This sounds like a ramble, but there truly is a point. There are members of my blood family from whom I’ve had to disconnect for my own sake. The disconnections seem to follow the same timeline as the one which connected me to a large family who isn’t related by blood, but which cares about the members as if we were. It appears that when I started realizing it was OK to be me and stop worrying about whether or not people would like that person, I started shedding those who expected things from me I wasn’t really prepared to give, and gained those who expected nothing, and gave because they cared.

It took me far too long to learn to be myself; damn the torpedoes, and full speed ahead. But since I’ve found the way, I have a lot to look back on to remind me I never need to hide my beautiful, imperfect, lumpy, unique self again.

Grateful for Every Single Minute

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the friends who are family and show me their love in so many ways.
  2. I am grateful I finally learned vulnerability is a good thing.
  3. I am grateful for the love and compassion I see every day in friends, in strangers, and in me.
  4. I am grateful for all the healing I’ve done so far, and the healing yet to come.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, friendship, support, encouragement, opportunities, new horizons, dancing, 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

Is Old Baggage Weighing You Down?

Baggage From Our Past Can Haunt Us For Years

https://www.flickr.com/photos/58972357@N05/5680789916/in/photolist-9DZwVJ-fgdGm6-a7SYcH-j5jSC4-bGN8dZ-aJn5JF-bExNVg-mSGMdi-ZHWqmm-7LMiyj-9TwjCJ-5AtELB-og1PZ9-4tVBpH-WTy2SC-EYkqoA-9Whomq-qMuq1D-GKUFur-aGDwDa-baLAor-cigULC-dD9LSa-7LFh2P-4LQn4r-fSLy1g-28pzedw-auCkkH-RfUzXE-ap1CA8-4wLABT-9GLXQH-dSP1Wa-7SfMF9-4eBRX6-MUhNVs-7MbCEk-obXLkM-9aGddR-Ns2VHy-jrsEXB-b1D8J-gch9Kk-ouhpzq-e2HHU1-9W9F11-xGa8K-23rp1Yb-am4k5G-ahouP7By the time we reach adulthood, we’ve experienced a lot of things which can and do weigh us down and hold us back—if we allow them to. We don’t always realize we’re hanging on to the old crap until we find ourselves triggered by past events and wallowing over something old, moldy, and no longer useful.

Sometimes we’re aware enough to recognize it ourselves. More often we rely on real friends who aren’t afraid to tell us as gently as possible it’s time to stop letting old news drag us down into the dumps where we wallow over things we can no longer change.

Think about it. It happened in the past, whether that past can be counted in months, years, or decades. Even if it happened yesterday, we can’t change it now. Maybe yesterday is too fresh to let go of, but what about the things we’ve carried around for decades? Sure, some of them might have been horribly traumatic, but is it really helping to hold on to how awful we felt at the time? How embarrassed, or humiliated, or devastated? Wouldn’t it be better to use that space for new and happier memories?

Past Traumas Can Drive an Empath Crazy

I’m learning it’s even more important as an Empath to let go of past traumas and depressing events. In some ways, holding on to our own pain makes us more sensitive to deep-seated trauma in other people. That’s a double-edged sword. Sure, we understand why they’re holding on, but frankly, it’s hard enough feeling recent pain from other people. Old, settled in pain is a world in and of itself. It’s a close cousin to ancestral pain which has grown deeper and darker with each generation. When we’ve held onto something for years, we tend to magnify it, making the cause and result larger and more unpleasant than the original event.

As a visual Empath, I not only feel the pain, but can often see and experience the original event which embedded the pain into a person’s psyche, whether the event happened in the current lifetime or a prior one. For a few moments, I’ll share an experience complete with the misery, helplessness, and frustration that went with it. Unpleasant, at best, but sometimes, painful enough to hurl me out of the experience before I get drawn down too far, especially when the traumatic event was an untimely death.

For example, while studying healing a few years ago, one of the class members had issues with her knee. As I worked with her, I was taken back to a time in her distant past where she was forced to carry a heavy load for a long distance while her husband walked alongside carrying a lesser load. At one point, she fell on the dirt road and landed on a rock, damaging her knee and causing a great deal of pain. Her husband showed no sympathy. Intead, he forced her to get back up without his help, and without dropping her load, and continue the long trek to market. The combination of both emotional and physical trauma followed her into future incarnations as she had yet to resolve it. The class worked together to help her release the pain and the experience. She said the knee felt better afterwards, though I don’t know if the entire issue was resolved that day. It’s likely it took her some time working through the rest of it on her own.

One thing I’ve learned is healers don’t actually provide the cure, whether they’re working with energetic, emotional, or physical dis-ease (and often, a combination of the three). They merely serve to facilitate the healing which we have within ourselves to exact.

Reaching Out For Help

Which brings me back to releasing baggage. There are times we need some outside assistance to recognize when we’re shlepping around an old suitcase full of pain, anger, and hurt that should have gone in the dumpster long ago. If you’re fortunate, or have learned to drop your walls enough to let people in, your circle of friends acts as an extra set of eyes, pointing out to you when you’ve let something drag you down long enough.

I spent the first few decades of this lifetime adding to the suitcase of negativity. In those years, I didn’t let anyone get close (least of all the man I married) and never asked for help. Not only had I been taught you don’t share what’s inside or ask for help, but the help my mother gave without asking, or what she offered always came with strings attached. As I got older, I became less inclined to accede to those conditions, and as a consequence, less likely to ask for help from anyone. Her example set in my mind that all help came with strings. We all know what a crock that is!

By the time I was 40 and, as an added bonus, was six months into dealing with my mother’s suicide, those traumas and baggage had become a lifeline; my only connection to sanity and solid ground. Little did I know my “solid ground” was as riddled with holes as a good Swiss cheese, and equally stable.

Turning Curses Into Blessings

What seems like a curse in one moment, can turn into a blessing in another. So it was with a lot of what I carried for years. The sensitivity and easiness with which I could be brought to tears was the bane of my existence for a long time. I learned to cover it with aggression, or simply retreat deep within myself until it passed. The latter earned me a reputation for being incredibly scary when I was angry enough to go silent, and caused many a strong man to give me a wide berth until it passed.

I won’t say I don’t retreat when especially angry these days, but in the first place, it happens rarely, and in the second, I’m not carrying around a lot of old garbage so minor events become the straw that broke the camel’s back. Learning to talk things out with my friends and get a different point of view has given me much better insight, and a lot more compassion towards people when they do something thoughtless or even mean.

Understanding Anger at its Source

I’ve learned to use my Empathy to take a step back and look beneath their surface for pain that has nothing to do with me. Quite often, I reach the conclusion rather quickly that what was said or done isn’t personal. It’s simply them lashing out at the first available opportunity because of their own pain; their own inner turmoil.

These days, when I see someone who acts like they’re angry with the world, I’m not as likely to dismiss them as a crabby person. I’m more likely to send them a ball of healing energy, neither knowing or caring whether they use it or not. That will always be their choice. I’ve learned to recognize the anger as an expression of pain, or, as it was in me, an inability to reach out in a healthier manner. Like I used to, they put up a big, prickly wall so people will leave them alone and not try to interfere or touch them while they’re vulnerable. I’d like to tell them allowing that vulnerability to show is their strength, but know it’s their journey. They’ll listen when they’re ready, just as I did.

We go through our own challenges so we’re more understanding of the challenges which face others, but also so we can make a difference, even if it’s only for one person. I feel incredibly blessed to have experienced the pain, the trauma, and the decades of loneliness. Those experiences enable me to understand what others are feeling, and, if nothing else, refrain from adding to their load of misery by treating them unkindly, or worse, ignoring them.

When you learn to let go of the old baggage, when you learn to allow others to help you, and when you accept your vulnerability as an asset instead of a liability, you become part of the solution. Think about it.

Finding Gratitude at Every Turn

My gratitudes today are:

  1.  I am grateful for the challenges I’ve been given, the lessons I’ve learned, and the compassion I’ve gained in the process.
  2. I am grateful for the time I’ve spent emerging from my personal chrysalis. The process may have been painful, but in hindsight, was worth every second.
  3. I am grateful for the people in my life who show me new roads, or widen my old ones. Many have no idea how much difference they’ve made in my life, and I don’t think I could show them my gratitude if I had another 3 lifetimes in which to do it.
  4. I am grateful for getting ahead. I lost some ground on my plan to be a month ahead on blog posts, but am quickly bridging the gap as ideas have filled my Morning Pages, and I’m quickly working my way through them.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; life lessons, challenges, inspiration, motivation, friendship, opportunities, new horizons, giant leaps and baby steps, love, insight, guidance, encouragement, 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.

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