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

Posts tagged ‘pain’

Demons for My Overall Good

Recognizing Demons Are For My Own Good

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-pttx4xI have my share of demons. They’ve grown out of the lessons I’ve learned and the mistakes I made learning them, my insecurities, and the times I’ve been hurt or slapped down. My mind has magnified some of them so they take on a life of their own when I’m at my weakest. Others are presented to me in technicolor glory when I think I least need to see them. But clearly I’m wrong as I always survive the visit; a little stronger and wiser for the experience.

Sometimes my demons are situational. I’m dumped ass first into a story I have to find my way out of using what I’ve learned previously. It’s a way of testing whether I learned the lesson well enough or I need another spin around the merry-go-round. Typically they come without any long-lasting emotional trauma.

Then there are the demons in human form. They sneak up on me, catching me when my guard is down. They earn my trust under false pretenses and embark on their own sinister game to see how much damage they can do before I figure out the game and pull out of something I can never hope to win. The odds are intentionally stacked against me, not out of malice as much as a test of my awareness and resilience.

A Warning Would be Nice

It would be nice if the demons in human form came with some kind of warning; glowing red https://www.flickr.com/photos/andrewmalone/2356413140/in/photolist-4AeewL-6ES3HA-VTd8P4-nXu85b-fzrS-ens7vC-5BeQL3-8ifuyk-pgu9hJ-9EjD99-WHSruQ-r9V4K1-bBptXU-oqGeq-58LxP-2gzW3S-fZx1ks-6ygo9B-5fQRwQ-cjdHDU-HaMQT-WxzyMz-eq7mdU-95UpbT-bYJXfd-4DMyEY-Tw5biF-8Dz2hm-Y1X5Mj-aEbAo-8cNsDh-Jh2VKF-22caxb5-N1Mzup-239JLXf-4nFd7o-6PrJ3Z-6WVShD-btbGoZ-ACUz-poZLWt-PvoDB-4oMwEC-jkU8qf-Qyf4bn-5QyTmd-6sThN9-n9hV6-gfvMZg-aYTgq4eyes, or maybe a cauldron of putrid slime. Instead, they look like normal people; someone you could trust to treat you right and never pull the rug out from under your feet just when you’ve begun to take for granted you’re on stable ground.

So what have I learned this time? Beware of people who accuse others of narcissism. Some have learned to use it as a smokescreen. As their stories about other people lean more and more toward them being the victim, or someone else mistreating them, look at the whole picture. Who is getting attention? Is it the person they’ve accused, or themselves? Are they hiding in a corner, or a flame surrounded by moths? What happens when one of their moths finds a new flame to follow, or simply wanders off on its own?

For most of us, losing touch with someone is something we take in stride. Life pushes us in different directions; towards some, away from others. It isn’t personal. It’s simply the ebb and flow of life’s tide. Beware those who take it as a personal affront, effecting punishment with either abuse or neglect; or worse, weaving stories in which you’re the latest villain.

Not Everyone’s Cup of Tea

It took me awhile, but I’ve finally learned there will always be people who decide to dislike me; some at first glance, and others after we hit some kind of snag in the fabric of our friendship. I know I’m an acquired taste, and no longer take it personally. Most people, including me sometimes make negative comments about others. I’m not proud of it, nor do I deny my own culpability. It’s neither right nor kind, and is one of those qualities I’m still working on.

Unfortunately, like most people, I’m also influenced to some degree by what the people I like and trust tell me. Like it or not, other people’s actions are colored by the stories I’m told, and not always fairly. Thus, I accept that some people are going to reject me based on what they, themselves have heard. I have to believe in some regard those demons I mentioned are doing me a favor. By making me their villain, they’re ensuring I don’t stumble into the path of more of their ilk. I only have to fight off a single zombie instead of an entire flock of flying monkeys.

This time around I’ve taken several stumbling steps backwards and set some new boundaries along the way. I’m putting more trust in my ability to shield out toxicity, and discovering a resiliency I wasn’t aware I’d developed. I’m finding much of that resiliency from the support of the people I’ve allowed into my world, and who’ve allowed me into theirs. I’ve learned following a runaway train might be exciting at first, but will invariably lead to a choice between jumping off and risking a few cuts and bruises, or flying into the abyss with the rest of the revelers when the whole thing goes down in flames.

Won’t Get Fooled Again…Or Will I?

As I try to avoid beating myself up over misinterpreting the message I saw clearly in the eyes, https://www.flickr.com/photos/moonjazz/4322051067/in/photolist-7zVDcR-5HMRtL-WXwZ4x-5HwZ1W-W8gjMg-cmRixy-6QT7w5-644Ln2-aqnYV4-t3u4Vo-a3fPm8-96X9E-661V8k-7imNtn-dyL2X1-pqPPxB-8ZBwzC-6aTwUf-8X7nVL-98Xpyp-91GcS5-8QFSZ3-8QCL54-8QCLjR-fD8pbT-fke9kC-8rt4if-6eLvkB-2fF3nDE-8QFRwq-8VvhHg-39jdZK-fjZ1WZ-fjZ1nc-fjZ1JR-6jPBns-TCH7H7-dKE42n-GhN8P-21yUcgH-d5ogN-616Soq-7L5RSL-fjZ1PX-94tRCT-fjZ1AB-fke9Qh-SZrAL7-5ZFHzH-jSKjmJ“Smiling Faces” by The Temptations runs on an endless loop in my head. Though the pain I saw in those eyes was real (after all, people do hurtful things to others because of their own pain), I allowed myself to overlook the blame attached to the pain which in hindsight was blatantly obvious in every instance. I allowed myself to be blinded to the repeating pattern, and their innocence in every single story because I wanted to believe in goodness and kindness.

Yet as I look back while dusting myself off and getting ready to jump back into whatever life brings me next time, I find the resentment and hurt fading quickly. I’m grateful for the innocence and naivete I’ve retained despite being stomped on over and over for trusting too quickly and believing there’s good in everyone…even demons. Perhaps there’ll be a time when I’ll get to help one find that goodness and release some of the pain they’ve been carrying around, ignorant to their option to put it down. Something in me insists I keep trying and giving the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise.

I’m also grateful for the opportunity to see how quickly I rebounded. Each experience makes me stronger and more resilient. Yet it isn’t making me cynical. In a recent post on Facebook, I wrote:

I will help all I can, but I’ve learned you can’t help someone who does not want to be helped. You can only walk away and save yourself from absorbing their pain.

Still, I leave a piece of myself behind with each person I have to walk away from. I’ll always wish I could have done more, though I understand for them it was neither the right time, nor place. They came into my life for a reason, and we parted ways when that reason had been fulfilled—for both of us.

Something to be Grateful For, No Matter What Cards Life Deals

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful I haven’t allowed life’s lessons to take away my trust, my naivete, or my innocence.
  2. I’m grateful for the lessons I’ve survived and the strength I’ve found with each new challenge.
  3. I’m grateful for the supportive friends I’ve attracted. There was a time I didn’t feel I deserved them, and even now, I’m marvel at all the wonderful people in my life.
  4. I’m grateful for resilience and boundaries. Both have carried me through more than I realize.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, friendship, joy, strength, support, community, opportunities, manifestations, motivation, inspiration, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

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

Taking Time Out to Be

Shutting Down to Remember What’s Important

Life gets in the way.

Sometimes, I get so caught up in doing I forget to just Be. My inner child who spent so many years being on the outside becomes enamored with being included, and loses sight of what truly matters.

Belonging ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.

It’s all well and fine to be part of a crowd, especially one everyone looks to for energy and light. But often that energy is simply a mask for a darker, bleaker place the participants are trying to run from. We can’t hide from our darker selves forever.

I noticed it first in their eyes. I tried to ignore it, or deny it. But it was undeniable. The manic glitter; the desperate need to keep moving or else…what? At one point I was reminded of Christopher Robin, but with a more sinister bent. A need to keep moving but not because it meant they wouldn’t go anywhere. Instead, they feared old demons would catch up and bury them.

Lessons Learned

We can’t run from our demons.

I tried to run from mine. I buried them deep inside in what I told myself was an impermeable 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-cS691Nbox—until it burst open spilling all the old hurts; all the ugliness I’d kept inside out into the world in an unholy mess. Feelings I’d denied; that I’d never allowed myself to feel and release boiled to the surface, fighting each other for attention. Overwhelmed, I allowed them to bury me in a mire of hopelessness and misery.

Eventually, I dug my way out. I had to acknowledge the feelings; admit to the hurts. Then I started writing about them from the safe haven of my home with the doors and windows securely locked. I could feel the feelings without prejudice. No one could touch me while I was feeling raw, yet I could share my own rawness for others who needed to know they weren’t alone, even though I felt I was, and, at the time, always would be.

Writing helped me unearth my personal sludge. It helped me flush out a heart that had grown cold and clogged with misery and loneliness. As I got feedback from some of my posts, I learned how many others were feeling as disconnected as me, but put on a brave face so no one could shatter the delicate balance that carried them through each day.

The ice around my heart began to thaw and I started opening up a little face-to-face. Carefully at first, but with less caution as time went on. Sometimes I built strong bonds, but there were times I chose badly and my heart got stomped on again. Still, I’d learned locking it away in a frozen wasteland wasn’t the answer.

Opening Up Without Guarantees

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-V4V7jqOpening my own heart has been a double-edged sword. It’s humanized me and helped me connect with others. But it also opens me up to other peoples’ pain. I see the near-panic in their eyes as they maintain a crazy pace in hopes they won’t have to feel what leveled them before. I see and feel the futility of their efforts, but for the most part, I keep it to myself. I know from my own experience telling them what they’re doing to themselves isn’t going to change things. More likely, it will piss them off, or make them withdraw from someone like me who sees too much.

I attract the broken ones; the abused, the beaten down, the neglected, the lonely. I stay as long as I can, trying to help, though often, they can’t accept it.  Still, I have to try. The truth is, we all have to find our own way, and often learning to reach out to others is the hardest lesson of all. I learned to be self-sufficient and refuse to be helped no matter how far I’d fallen. I still struggle with asking, and am quick to retreat when I don’t get the response I feel I need. Why would I expect others to react differently?

The broken ones push me away when I begin to care too much, or when I set boundaries. When their drama and pain begin to exhaust me, I have to pull away. I’ve learned some want my energy but not my empathy. When I refuse one and offer the other, they move on. It’s not personal. They think they know what they need just as I do, though like a vampire seeking blood to replace what they lack, they seek to fill themselves from wells that contain a substance they’ve yet to figure out how to distill on their own.

When it’s Time to Walk Away

I’m learning there’s a time when I have to walk away knowing I’ve done all I could. Maybe I’ve https://www.facebook.com/cmhagbhelped make a chink in their armor, and maybe I haven’t. It isn’t for me to say. Like me, they have to choose to make the effort and yes, feel the pain before it can be released. It isn’t a choice I take lightly as making it myself forced me to relive some of the darkest moments of my life. I know some of the people I’ve attracted have moments so dark they believe they haven’t the strength or support to relive them. I only wish I could convince them it will be better on the other side.

I wouldn’t have believed anyone who told me “it’ll get better” when I was wallowing in my own cavern of misery. It’s one of those choices we have to make knowing it’ll get worse before it gets better. It took me nearly 5 decades to make that choice. I also know there’s every chance I might never have made it. All I have to do is look at my own mother. She chose death over dealing with her demons. Too many others do too.

I wish I could save them all, but no one person can. All I can do is listen and offer—and accept rejection time and time again. Even now, there are times I, too feel like a burden and don’t want to bother people, even the ones I know care enough to listen. There are times I retreat, though the duration is shorter than it once was.

I’ve learned to cry it out when I need to cry; sleep more when exhaustion shuts everything down. The greatest lesson I’ve learned, though is to let my feelings show. Those who care will understand, and those who don’t, well, maybe they’ll gain something from it too.

Grateful for Moments Large and Small

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the people in my life who understand sometimes I need to be sad.
  2. I’m grateful for the years I’ve spent clearing old wounds, and for learning to keep going through the process, digging deeper into wounds both personal and ancestral.
  3. I’m grateful for my writing. Sometimes my words are dark, and sometimes they’re light and airy-fairy. They all have value, if to no one but myself.
  4. I’m grateful for music. It takes me out of myself when I need it, and into myself when I’m trying to unearth some of the more deeply embedded sludge.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, life, energy, empathy, compassion, sadness, inspiration, motivation, redirection, self-worth, peace, health, harmony, balance, 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

Why Women Blog

I Blog to Heal—Myself and Those Who Share My Travails

It’s hard to believe I created this blog more than 9 years ago at my daughter’s urging. To be honest, I don’t even remember the original reason I created it, except as an exercise to broaden the scope of a healing journey that began 16 years later than it should have, yet at exactly the right time.

Over the last 9 plus years, I’ve used this forum for a number of things including conversations about family suicide, it’s original premise (the name I gave it then, “Surviving and Beyond”, lives on only in the URL these days). It’s evolved into so much more, for me, and hopefully for at least a few others as well.

Use Your Comments Wisely

Recently, a young woman who is going through her own challenges mentioned that a woman “over 50” gave her crap for sharing her journey via her blog. My first reaction was to want to smack that woman and tell her to shut her pie hole. As I don’t know who she is, nor does it really matter, I’m going to address the message and not the poster, as we used to say.

In the first place, a blog is someone’s own personal space. You can choose to read it or not, but be advised, if you disagree with what they post and attack them, your comment can and will be deleted. If you attack someone who is particularly outspoken and honest (like me for example), you’re liable to see your cruelty discussed at length. Believe me, you’ll recognize yourself though no names or distinguishing features will be mentioned. Unlike you, most of us write about our hardest times so others who are in similar circumstances will feel they’re not alone, or going bat shit crazy.

That’s not to say a dissenting opinion is unwelcome. There’s simply an enormous difference between voicing an opinion and attacking someone. I suspect I’m not alone in blocking a few URL’s for vitriolic comments.

Building a Bridge Instead of a Wall

https://www.flickr.com/photos/17367470@N05/34548761725/in/photolist-UCXrcB-ecCNUL-4zfgf6-dAnmf-ngJT8C-azZxsp-nqHgd-b6nZQ8-eM19w4-2cSiqbp-ax5dgA-27J7Psa-6LxpFR-2bRXjnz-pEj693-j4VCQQ-fmd2HZ-svmgQ3-2es7nPR-7AUKsG-GnaSGd-9KvniY-pzqY5Q-VkF76-25utPi9-aLKEgF-qa3JFd-7pVuMa-cMP8xf-K8vLgj-nEqYEz-JW6mY-fB5met-nqHga-aRccva-JWkte-aFcmuG-JW6n9-7Z3cY8-aLKvYc-AM33ua-5Jgt83-9hYUkR-cu1wuJ-9mTEYo-aR8L6v-28j4DAt-PBhbUU-emC61v-9yg7h6Writing for me has always been a way to hash out things I didn’t feel comfortable talking about. Until 9 years ago, most of what I wrote never saw the light of day. When I started allowing small things to slip and learned others could relate, I gained courage, opening up more and more as time went on. When people who’d clearly been holding onto a lot of crap for years began sharing pieces with me, I knew I was opening up a side of myself that needed to be cracked open for more than my own sake.

I learned what many bloggers before me had; by opening up about our own struggles, we allow others to do so as well. For some of us, our blogs become a safe place, much like a trauma support group where people who share a common trauma can talk about what they’ve experienced without fear of rebuke, attack, or shame.

These days, you can find people blogging about any number of painful subjects for which they might have been shamed or abused in the past. Some write about suicide and mental health like I do. Others write about child abuse, or rape (or both). More and more are opening up about miscarriages too. Like the young woman in my story, I’ve seen several talking about a sudden, unexpected, and decidedly unpleasant change in their marital status.

To all of them, I say “Good for you!! Keep up the good work!”

Holding Onto Our Pain Affects Everyone Near and Far

We need this openness. We need to allow people to talk about the things which Created with Canvamay have caused them to retreat into themselves, bearing a shame that’s not deserved. I know from my own experience, every time someone comments or sends me a message saying they get what I’m talking about, and that they’re glad I brought the subject up, I’m reminded of the value of my words, but more, I heal a little more myself.

I applaud everyone who has been courageous enough to admit their life isn’t perfect in a forum that’s accessible to a world of both strangers and friends. I’m incredibly grateful for those who use their experiences to help make the world a better, place. I’m humbled to be a member of their vulnerable, courageous ranks.

Not everything I share is intense or life-changing. Often I talk about minor struggles; patience, relationships, and such. Sometimes I go off on a rant, or tickle the edges of a political issue. But mostly, I write whatever comes into my head as I traipse through this world with less grace than most, yet more than some. Often, what I write is prompted by something I read or hear from someone else who’s also doing their best to navigate this unpredictable path we call Life.

Honored to Share the Blogosphere With Courageous Women

Created with CanvaThe young woman who prompted this post is going through a divorce she didn’t see coming. She’s not sharing gory details, nor is she bashing her soon-to-be ex. Instead, she’s showing an inordinate amount of class while still sharing the pain, the disillusionment, and the topsy-turvy mess she feels like her life is right now. Unlike me and many from my generation, she’s opening up from the start, asking for help from her friends, sharing her journey, and doing her best to ease her kids into what will be their new version of normal.

I know she’ll be better for her honesty and for refusal to hide her face in shame over something she didn’t cause. As I said, it took me 16 years to start dealing with my mom’s suicide, by then, my dad had been gone 6 years, also by his own hand. My path would have been smoother had I allowed people to see my cracks. Unfortunately, I had to overcome a lifetime of training.

I don’t want to see anyone else suck it up and fumble along alone as I did. If it means talking about the unmentionable stuff, I’ll do it (and have). If it means supporting someone else while they share their own struggles, I’m there, and woe be to anyone who tries to tell them to suffer in silence.

If You Don’t Like What We Write, Don’t Read it!

What it all comes down to is this, what someone writes on their own blog is their https://www.facebook.com/cmhagbbusiness. If you don’t like it, don’t visit. What they write on Social Media is a little more controlled, but if they’re speaking their truth in a respectful manner, again, shut up and walk away if you can’t comment politely. You have no idea what they’re going through, so your judgement is neither wanted nor needed. In it’s worst form, it will do a lot more harm than good.

You and me, we’re in this together. We were put on this Earth to help each other; to uplift and support each other in times of trouble, and to celebrate our victories; our achievements. Life ain’t a competition. There’s enough love, light, and joy to go around. You just have to stop looking for the ugliness. You will always find what you’re looking for, so choose wisely.

Sharing Includes Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful the young women today are less inclined to hold their feelings in, at least for the most part.
  2. I’m grateful people are becoming more sensitive to each other, and more willing to stand and support, instead of bash and tear down.
  3. I’m grateful for opportunities to support others and help them along their path. So many have done it for me, once I finally learned to let them.
  4. I’m grateful for the people who love and support me in my journey. I couldn’t have gotten this far without them, and going it alone is a hollow victory anyway.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; community, love, friendship, caring, sharing, blessings, friendship, peace, harmony, health, 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

A Matter of Perspective

We See Family From Our Own Perspective

I ran into a fellow member of the dance community at our local county fair one night. We were reminiscing about the “good old days”. He told me the thing he misses most is the feeling of family that existed in the early 2000’s when there were parties and gatherings outside of just the dance venue. I listened but didn’t have much to contribute because I wasn’t part of the “family” he remembered during that period of time.

The truth is, I feel more of that family connection now, and have for the last 3 or 4 years, maybe a couple more. Before that, I didn’t have more than a couple of phone numbers, or connections on social media. I didn’t see any of my dance “friends” outside of our regular Thursdays and Saturday nights. I could probably count the people I called “friend” as opposed to “acquaintance” on one hand and have fingers left over.

I used to envy those who clearly had a connection that went beyond dancing. I saw people making plans, or coming in after having dinner together; sharing lives, holidays, vacations, and bonds I didn’t understand. From my perspective at the time, no one wanted to have that kind of connection with me.

I’ve since learned, to quote an old and tired relationship-ending phrase out of context, it wasn’t them, it was me. Many of those people were probably reaching out to me, but my rough, defensive, knee-jerk responses told them I was neither approachable nor amenable to sharing more of my life with them. After awhile, they moved on, leaving me oblivious to their efforts to include me.

You Have to First Open the Door

It wasn’t until I lowered my walls and offered up a bit of myself that things began https://www.flickr.com/photos/64738468@N00/25973076/in/photolist-3i7TE-fyVNaB-9aLW9G-4JgeJF-EUixt-pdT2Ek-63AteW-8vwter-bxo88F-cdcTPS-bVQBQg-5aG3Rc-6ktqzm-bxouRx-9NP8jK-drK3ho-cdcUgU-cdcX7q-cdcVCE-cdZyKj-BJPNDq-bxovfz-6knRQ4-fLRddW-9aHGR4-dKZQqf-bxo2tZ-cPQ6Sh-34jbLJ-pJefAw-6kt26u-8w3FD3-fLRas7-4RuNgv-cfEDAb-6XGTXx-adqDCb-RgBASk-fpsHxH-7eqpS1-ahPuom-269ugzb-cW79tG-6pwS4o-YrjQ9b-bo6Gr6-fq9GQm-fp2skU-6guFM-br7V4kto change. I let people see that much of my unconscious defensiveness was my way of hiding the pain I’d been taught never to let anyone see. The false set of beliefs I’d been given from birth said no one wanted to know I struggled with anything unless they were going to use it to take advantage of me. In short, my early education was as riddled with holes as Swiss cheese.

I developed a version of “normal” which was about as far removed from reality as that of anyone who’s grown up in a dysfunctional family. Granted, we all have at least a bit of dysfunctionality in our lives, but I’m talking about extremes.

For example, I grew up believing that having a few drinks every evening, and drinking to excess at social gatherings was normal. I didn’t share the desire exhibited by my parents and their peers, so I thought there was something wrong with me. It wasn’t until decades later I learned I wasn’t the one who had a problem. It was one of many reasons I didn’t fit in with my own family, and I’d learned to accept it as part of my reality.

Making Connections is a Learned Talent

Created with CanvaNot making real, deep connections was another part of my reality I believed was normal. My parents certainly had people I’d call close friends, but in hindsight, I think that closeness was simply a product of similar outlooks, and a common belief in self-medicating to escape a harsh reality. I don’t think they shared their vulnerability with each other, and frankly, they’d have been horrified at the suggestion. They wouldn’t have been comfortable on the giving or receiving end of something so deeply personal and honest. In their minds any raw emotions they shared while under the influence could be explained away by the alcohol.

The point of this post wasn’t to wander down memory lane and wake up the ghosts. It was to recognize how differently two people can see the same time and place. Borderline is probably medium-sized when it comes to bars; not a tiny, dark, hole-in-the-wall, but not a giant venue where thousands can gather on a busy night either. To be honest, for those of us who frequented it regularly, it was just right. (OK, so maybe we’d have liked a bigger dance floor, but for socializing purposes, it was perfect).

How each person views an event or situation is largely dependent on their own history. How you’re raised is, of course, a huge factor. You’re also influenced by painful, if not traumatic events. How you navigated those events, and the person you became once you’d healed (assuming you did), or established coping mechanisms affects not only how you see things, but how you interact with others.

Do You Build Walls or Bridges?

I know I’m not alone in building enormous walls, and creating coping https://www.flickr.com/photos/17367470@N05/34548761725/in/photolist-UCXrcB-ecCNUL-4zfgf6-dAnmf-ngJT8C-azZxsp-nqHgd-b6nZQ8-eM19w4-2cSiqbp-ax5dgA-27J7Psa-6LxpFR-2bRXjnz-pEj693-j4VCQQ-fmd2HZ-svmgQ3-2es7nPR-7AUKsG-GnaSGd-9KvniY-pzqY5Q-VkF76-25utPi9-aLKEgF-qa3JFd-7pVuMa-cMP8xf-K8vLgj-nEqYEz-JW6mY-fB5met-nqHga-aRccva-JWkte-aFcmuG-JW6n9-7Z3cY8-aLKvYc-AM33ua-5Jgt83-9hYUkR-cu1wuJ-9mTEYo-aR8L6v-28j4DAt-PBhbUU-emC61v-9yg7h6mechanisms which shield me, not only from the cruelties of life, but also from the things which bring joy, delight, and pleasure. The trouble is, while living in that seemingly pain-free place, you miss out on how a gathering place can take on the feel of a loving, accepting, non-judgemental family; something many of us weren’t fortunate enough to know.

Granted, I’ve met a few people in the last few years whose early lives make mine look look like summer camp. I’ve also learned it’s not about comparisons, but how you come through your own personal storms. Some learn to live better than they were taught. Others spend their lives huddled in a turtle shell, poking their heads out a little at a time until a painful moment sends them scurrying back inside where it’s safe—albeit desperately lonely.

Reaching Out to Those Who Instinctively Hide

Part of my purpose in writing posts like this is to hopefully reach some of those who believe as I once did that hiding away is the only solution. That avoiding pain at all costs is their only choice. I learned the hard way that you can’t hide from pain. You might avoid a lot of what could be inflicted by others, but you wall yourself away with your own demons. Often, that’s far worse than anything the outside world might inflict.

There’s a level of joy and comfort in human interaction that can’t be felt inside your own walls; inside your turtle shell. Sure, if you’ve never experienced it, you might say you won’t miss it. But I’m here to tell you, you do.

You miss it every time you see other people connecting, and know you’re not part of that connection. Your heart breaks a little more as you watch your friendly acquaintances plan get-togethers without you. The more you’re left out of opportunities to connect and bond, the darker your world behind those walls becomes.

Sometimes the Reward is Worth the Initial Pain

I won’t lie and tell you it was easy to break down those walls, nor that I’m Photo: David Derong/Iowa State Dailyanywhere close to finishing the job. It was, however, the best gift I ever gave myself. Coming out from behind those walls and becoming a true part of my community has brought me immeasurable joy. Just having people like a security guard at the fair remember me for my friendliness, even 2 years and hundreds of thousands of people later makes the pain of demolishing those walls worth it.

In conclusion, you don’t know how many lives you touch when you’re closed off from the world, much less, when you allow yourself to become an active participant. You leave an impression regardless. It’s up to you whether it will be one people remember fondly, and that brings a smile to their face and warmth to their heart, or one they remember as cold and off-putting.

Between you and me, I love knowing an encounter with me was pleasant enough for someone to remember years later, and that the memory brings a smile to their face.

Grateful for Every Little Thing Every Single Day

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful I chose a little pain so I could experience a lot of pleasure.
  2. I’m grateful for the positive impressions I’ve left on people in recent years.
  3. I’m grateful for the sense of family I enjoy with my community.
  4. I’m grateful for the opportunity to share the good, the bad, and the ugly of my own life, in hopes someone will relate and see they have choices.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, friendship, joy, community, music, solitude, insight, inspiration, motivation, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

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

Healing Our Anger: Hurting Others Isn’t the Solution

An Uncomfortable Walk Down Memory Lane

https://www.flickr.com/photos/hunky_punk/11123678116/in/photolist-hWXKXJ-bHomCi-brw9M6-75egof-72NYQx-4JuLr7-33JWWw-jk6B3G-pnN4h8-k1nyJg-GJoSmS-5rHHCd-7cZW4U-7xzS38-CwzBDm-eXj12u-ReySpF-XRcj38-YgMmPR-aWahxP-aGx4za-24eBDCd-bCWhDp-7xzRWp-pnxQ7d-7aXGh3-75MxFi-27yzyxF-9kk3k4-6zKq5L-rUoGZt-gJVVbN-cYedPm-4gUL7N-2aQHb4T-6DucqY-bb8PRX-WsMWaM-67dgcB-2dRzmBW-69e2pi-zmc5jK-hBXNWR-ovjuK-dXGFsj-8yM2W5-ay5R5w-hjWQqE-gf7icd-fy2vCPI happened to be in the neighborhood, so I took a walk past the house I lived in from the time I was 12 until I was 18, and left to spend most of the year in the college dorms (I actually moved into an apartment when I was 20, but I didn’t consider the house my home after leaving for college, even though most of my stuff was there for a couple more years).

I stood in front of the house, noting how big all the landscaping had gotten. Yucca (one of my mom’s favorites), now towering over the 6-foot walls, and the small patch of grass still ruthlessly manicured around the planter. Through the huge iron gate one of the later owners installed across the archway in the front wall, I allowed memories to flow while noticing changes. The most obvious was a second story added over the master bedroom. The original floor plan had a kind of half second story with a balcony overlooking the family room. In our version, it had 3 bedrooms and a bathroom with on oddly slanted roof which wasn’t good for much, but was a good place for our cats’ sandbox.

Walls and Gates: A Sign of Our Tumultuous Times

That gate made it clear it was no longer my parents’ house, but it also made me sad. The need for such a structure is truly a sign of the times. Friends who live near there report an increasing rash of robberies. People are coming from outside the area to burglarize the homes of people they assume are wealthy.

In truth, some people live in homes that were purchased for 30 or 40 thousand in the late 60’s and early 70’s, but are now valued (at least according to Zillow) from the 900 thousands to over a million. Small wonder those living in apartments and worse consider the residents rich and worth driving for miles to steal from.

It made me sad to realize how many people have become so angry they’re willing to drive for miles and risk arrest to take what they believe they’re entitled to, but can’t see ever having the means to acquire. And it’s not just theft. It’s the words spoken, injuries inflicted, and even murders. For what? The American Dream which has been folded, spindled, and mutilated until only the rare few get to experience it?

What’s Happened to the American Dream?

Or is it simply that we’ve lost sight of what the American Dream really is? It’s not stuff. It’s not where you live. It’s the freedoms we still have and the choices some of us still see we have, while far too many others don’t.

Maybe I’m naive, but I think when people believe they have no way to improve their lives no matter how hard they try, they’re going to get discouraged. When they see their children going without, or even getting shot at in the streets outside their homes, they get angry.

That anger infests their lives, and combines with desperation to create a “nothing-to-lose” attitude. They take risks because they see no other way out of the hell-hole they live in.

Fueled by Anger, Frustration, and Discouragement

https://www.flickr.com/photos/armenws/5837909811/in/photolist-9TSPcr-C3VGX-24FwY6-26x1rb6-5itLut-dhFGeP-pFWFZK-abNp5y-adf5z-hL7FHE-dhFHhY-dhFvph-dauvud-dhFwgW-dhFqWQ-dhFtAn-abeFZP-dhFDeu-dhFuoZ-dhFqbq-adhZR-abKzAD-adf81-abKx9R-bpTzDn-QVxKyY-abKyYK-9gERc8-anUgst-abeFCX-bzS7hf-abeGb2-2cYSbck-8GpCMm-abNm6Y-21Uy4Gb-4NKgmb-abNkTs-begshM-hRcioi-daKq9G-aUymi2-ZRYKoW-9tsYBM-abeFsx-bNLL6K-F2o45H-6MFFvx-9SsLVR-ZAWXwiThings I took for granted; a nice home, regular meals, new clothes, books, a car to use when I learned to drive; compared to those who are struggling from paycheck to paycheck just to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. I was and still am wealthy beyond anything they know. Kids watch their parents work long hours, never getting ahead. They see the defeat in their eyes. In their position, I suspect I’d get angry too, and feel like I had nothing to lose by taking what I want from those to whom it seems to come easily.

People are acting out their own pain with every act they perform. When it affects someone else personally, their own pain is triggered. It might not be poverty and defeat, but it is their own pain, and can be set off by just about anything because it starts in our minds.

When you add all the hate being spewed on the nightly news, social media, and even social circles, the stew of humanity grows more and more toxic.

When Did We Stop Trying to Get Along?

I talked to an acquaintance this weekend who sought to avoid a mutual acquaintance because of the political views she aired on Facebook. (they ultimately had a very civil conversation, by the way). Is this what we’ve come down to? Hating each other for the views we share?

I got called out recently because I said I was unfollowing people already who were posting political bashes. Someone accused me of dumping friends for small slights. I tried to explain I simply chose to stop seeing their posts on my news feed, but had no intention of removing them from my friends list. My words fell on deaf ears. The man chose to read what he wanted to see. He wanted to be angry with me no matter what. I’m not sure why I tried to reason with him, knowing he’d stopped listening after letting his feelings be known.

Putting Up Walls to Keep Us Safe

In the 1960’s I walked 2 miles across the San Fernando Valley to school alone every morning. It never even occurred to my mom I could be in danger—back then I wasn’t. No one ever approached me on the long walk down city streets. I felt perfectly safe, and actually enjoyed the time alone to think my thoughts and dream my dreams.

In the last 30 years or more, no parent in their right mind would allow their child to walk that far alone. We know it’s not safe; that too many outcasts, weirdos, and just plain angry people prey on other peoples’ children.

The ugly wrought iron gate on my parents’ old house is a sign of the times. People who “have” put up walls, barriers, and fences to keep out those who “have not”, but are willing to risk prison to have some of it. We’re too busy being angry about this cause or that to try to understand why others are angry too.

We’re too angry and misguided by the constant barrage of propaganda to care enough to sit down with each other and try to understand—more, to try to get to the truth buried in the bullshit.

Finding Reasons to Be Grateful In Spite of it All

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for reminders to be more open-minded and compassionate.
  2. I’m grateful for the ability to see how much I have instead of how much I don’t.
  3. I’m grateful for a house with no big, ugly gate.
  4. I’m grateful for the walls I’ve taken down over the last decade or so.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, compassion, fact-checking, opportunities, inspiration, friendship, connection, dancing, joy, peace, health, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

Need Help Pursuing Your Own Dream?

Are you frustrated and discouraged trying to do everything yourself? 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!

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

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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