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

Posts tagged ‘reflection’

Blame it On the Stars

Star Struck Back Into Hiding

https://www.flickr.com/photos/europeanspaceagency/31275407857/in/photolist-PDGD8X-bnbiQa-k7zt6d-6M2nn9-mAAwrU-k7wXWX-nhNH58-k7zDp9-k7xjWk-nJgXGP-nk9CP8-k7tAv4-nziGrM-6ez3RC-nxeRe7-k7zCqf-2fgYi1C-k7B7wo-c411jo-S3dRoP-k7zetH-aubYf9-5u7LHw-cDzxty-5u3mjF-efS9bW-9tURvV-MNVXL-dkbcr9-aMCP28-LFJ8h-HUeD1-87TPHZ-5u3o9k-4t8Czz-5u7Lnq-XBZhbM-Yz4KP7-dJTsqi-YfKzKY-5Xw9Tw-kYuVpf-9GbcYZ-7DuDAu-fkpUYM-zGvsDE-qxEs38-o6g4QL-pJaHTv-mmZ7UcIn the last few years, I’ve made significant strides moving out of my introverted shell. But every so often, I have to make a pilgrimage back, not to the place which was once my comfort zone, but to a new and improved location where the walls welcome me but no longer close me off from the world.

It starts slowly. I begin feeling detached from friends. I find sitting on the front porch or curling up on the sofa with my cats more and more appealing. I’ll spend a lot more time sitting in front of my computer like I am now, pouring my thoughts and feelings out on the page.

These are no longer times of isolation, but instead, times of reflection and introspection. It’s kind of like a quarterly review of where I was and how far I’ve come, and an acceptance of the work I still have to do. Sometimes I need to step back, not only to recognize the progress I’ve made, but to get clear on what’s still left to do. I need to spread everything out before me so I can more clearly see where I next need to go.

Needing to Disengage from Life’s Chaos

It’s easy to get caught up in the chaos and cacophony of daily life. Everything runs together like a finger painting; colors intermingling, and lines blurring. At these times, I need to do a kind of reality check to make sure I still want to work towards the dreams I’ve mapped out.

Sometimes, the answer is clear and I burst forth with renewed resolve in a day or two. Others, I need to ask myself tough questions and keep asking them until the answers are clear and I’ve cleaned out the rusty pipes, clogged with confusion over what I truly want to be when I grow up.

Closing a Door

Awhile ago, I wrote that my road map is a scatter diagram. It’s no more true than times like this when I’m stepping back to reassess and decide whether to pursue my current dream or come up with something new. One thing I know for sure, though. There’s no shame in deciding I’ve traveled as far as I can along a particular road, or realizing it’s time to close one door and open another.

But if I do decide to close that door, I feel like I have to choose a new direction right away, so I’ll go into my shell trying to figure out what that will be. In reality, closing a door is just that: closing a door. I already have several others open anyway, so there’s no rule saying I have to find another door right away—if ever. Sometimes I just need to close a door.

For now, I need some alone time, not only to make certain I want or need to close a door, but to decide whether or not there’s another I want or need to open right now. There are no wrong answers. Whatever I decide will be perfect. Even if I decide I need more alone time.

Disconnection Breeds Detachment

I’m not sure what triggered these feelings this time. It might be the friend I feel 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-w9TTqis disconnecting from me, though to be honest, I started pulling back first. It might be astronomical occurrences, the weather, or a million other things. I could just be frustrated by the progress I haven’t made, and think I should have.

It could be a combination of everything which created in me a gigantic sense of overwhelm. I’ve learned sometimes you simply have to accept that you’re being pushed to do something, and to follow along without asking too many questions. I know too well how many questions we ask are unanswerable anyway.

In some ways, I’m sad. I know when this is over, I’ll have made some decisions, and perhaps I’ll have lost something precious in the process. I can’t say whether it will be a dream, something I’ve worked on for a long time, a friend, or something else. I only know something is ending, and whatever it is will be missed. And I know I’ll have had some choice in the matter.

In Life, There Will Always be Loss

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-w9TTqo-riJJHV-8w9YqrI’ve lost a lot of people, beloved pets, and things over the years through circumstances beyond my control. Too often, I try to hang on and stretch the grieving process out, wallowing and clinging instead of accepting and doing my best to move on without what I lost. Choosing to let something or someone go should be easier, but it isn’t always. In fact, knowing I’m going to lose something, if by my own choice makes it harder. I have to anticipate the loss and know it’ll be the result of my own irrevocable choice.

My inclination is to set the choice aside, fight my urge to be alone, and bury it in outside activity. But delaying a necessary if painful choice doesn’t make it easier, nor does it lessen the pain. It merely prolongs the agony.

Even though I don’t know yet what the choice I’ll be making will be, I feel tears filling the backs of my eyes. I value every aspect of my life nowadays, so there’s nothing I’ll choose to let go of I won’t miss, even knowing the space will be filled so quickly, I’ll have trouble seeing what part of my life it once filled.

This seems like the ramblings of a dotty, old woman, even to me right now. Too many unknowns; too many questions; nothing concrete, only a feeling of impending loss, and a choice I’ll have to make.

And an unfathomable desire to be alone which won’t be ignored.

Whatever Happens, There Will Always be Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful I’ve learned to listen to the voices in my head.
  2. I’m grateful for guidance which sends me in directions I might not go myself, but will, invariably put me exactly where I need to be.
  3. I’m grateful for changes in direction. They lead to adventures, and what would life be without adventures?
  4. I’m grateful for the friendships I’ve formed over the last few years. They ebb, flow, grow, and evolve. But there’s a solidity I’ve grown accustomed to having after decades of being alone.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, friendship, adventure, opportunities, inspiration, motivation, challenges, guidance, 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

Blame it on the Moon: Reflections on Mom’s Birthday

Remembering More as the Years Pass and the Clouds Clear

This morning as I realized it would have been Mom’s 82nd birthday today that, aside from the extensive writing I’ve done about her in my yet-to-be-published memoir (or yet-to-be-finished to be more accurate), I’ve written little about my feelings about her or her death.

Today, as I typed my typical “today would have been” post on Facebook, something changed. I first noticed it by the words I chose to use in my post. Then I turned on my Rascal Flatts station on Pandora instead of one I typically listen to. 3 tracks in, “What Hurts the Most” played and I felt tears coming to my eyes. That’s when I knew I needed to write this post.

Full Moons Are a Time to Reflect

Now, maybe it’s the impending full moon which always makes me more emotional anyway, or maybe it’s the chapters I’ve started adding to my memoir lately, but I received one of those infamous Universal head slaps this morning.

It made me realize just how far I’ve come in resolving my hopelessly twisted feelings towards my mother. The short version is I’ve come to realize she was exactly what she needed to be both for herself and to help me become the woman I am today. But as with all things, I’m never happy with the short version. So buckle up for some intensely personal revelations, if you dare.

Finding Appreciation: Too Little, Too Late?

I’ll be the first to admit I never appreciated mom’s many qualities. I was so busy being at odds with her that we pushed each other away when I was quite young. Nurturing my baby sister was far easier for her to cope with than a headstrong 2-year-old. I don’t think I ever quite got over that feeling of abandonment.

It’s not that she turned her back on me, per se. She simply found more joy in doing things with and for my sister as we got older and the paths of our interests took different routes. My sister’s musical prowess and outright tenacity far exceeded my own. Mom could point at her playing first chair clarinet or performing with the prestigious Royal Cavaliers and feel proud of the daughter she’d raised and shlepped to endless music lessons.

Was She Aware of My Love of Writing?

I was a disappointment across the board. I preferred to pursue my passion behind the scenes. Whether it was building a set for the latest drama production, running the light board or applying makeup, I was never front and center to stoke her motherly pride. As for the stories and poems I wrote, regardless of their quality or, in most cases, lack thereof, I can honestly say she never read a word. Of course, I never showed them to her either, so how could she know or even have the opportunity to refuse, or worse, offer a patronizing word of false encouragement?

The real truth is, by the time I was doing any writing to speak of, I’d long since ceased valuing her opinion about anything important. Maybe that’s part of the reason I have trouble accepting my daughter’s encouraging comments about one of the novels she’s reading. I learned not to show anything to my family for fear of the requisite “that’s good, dear” which might or might not have been delivered. I do my daughter a disservice by not valuing her opinion. After all, she’s been reading voraciously most of her life. She knows what she likes to read and what she thinks sucks.

Lessons Offered, Lessons Learned

Again, I digress. Because I started tuning Mom out from an early age; a trait I’m pretty sure I learned from my dad, I missed out on the many things she had to offer. She kept a beautiful house, entertained magnificently, and taught herself to be a gourmet cook. I am decent, but I’ll never have her skill, much less her patience in making every detail perfect. Thankfully, though those skills were lost on me, my daughter inherited them with a vengeance.

I’m reminded of the chicken and egg scenario. Did Mom stop encouraging me in the things which made me shine because I pushed her away; shut her out even? Or did I shut her out because she turned all of her attention to my sister’s pursuits, relegating mine to just sweet little hobbies?

Family Dynamics Are a Balancing Act

I’ll never know the answer, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t changed. I realize now it doesn’t really matter which came first. What matters is that despite the gigantic chasm which existed between us, she gave me so many invaluable gifts. She helped me learn to stand strong and fight my own battles. But she also tempered the gifts I got from my Dad.

Where he was stoic, she was sensitive. Though it might have seemed like she was too sensitive at the time, her sensitivity wove itself into my persona despite my best efforts to be as unlike her as I could be. So well in fact that Dad’s stoicism became my protective shell until I learned when and where to let my sensitivity show.

Where Dad was stubborn and dogmatic, Mom was more malleable, often to her own detriment. Again, I used the stubbornness to counteract my tendency to be easily manipulated. All too often, both tendencies have blown up in my face, forcing me to learn to find the balance.

An Introvert in Extrovert’s Clothing. Who Am I Really Fooling?

I think the most valuable lesson she gave me was negotiating an extroverted world while keeping my soft, mushy, introverted self safe and hidden. Yes, I took it to extremes, but so did she. She smiled and entertained and got involved in charitable causes. She even tried her hand at a career in sales. I know now from my own experience that these are all ways introverts learn to cope with the outside world when they’d often rather just hide away with a book and their pets. The difference between us is she needed validation from others to replace the love she didn’t feel from her family. I learned to be loud and entertaining (though some would probably call it obnoxious). I had a wall around my heart acres deep. Very few have ever gotten close enough to be able to hurt me. I can’t say the same for Mom.

In hindsight, I think Mom hurt every day of her life until the day she decided to end it. She suffered emotional rejection from just about everyone in her life, and certainly her entire family. Sorry folks who might be reading this and are part of that group, but I see no exceptions to this observation. Not one of us took the time to try to see behind her extensive collection of masks.

When Someone No Longer Feels They Have Value

Which brings me to my final point. Collectively, we helped mom feel that she wasn’t needed; was not important to anyone. I have to believe that was the final contributing factor. It was what made her decide suicide was her only viable option. I cannot even imagine reaching the point where you believe with all your heart that nobody will miss you when you’re gone, but I think that’s where Mom was when she carefully followed the instructions in the book she’d bought. When she closed the guest room door where her granddaughters slept when they visited, lay down on the bed she’d shared with my dad for 40 years and took the last, fateful step.

As I type this, my eyes are filling with tears, and my faithful cat, Dylan is on the desk giving me head bumps. Mom died on December 27, 1993…and it hurts more now than it did when she died. In the ensuing years, I’ve put aside the relief, the guilt, the blame, and the anger. I’ve replaced them with forgiveness, compassion, and understanding. And finally, the tears of grief and sadness for the daughter I couldn’t be for her are flowing, cleansing my heart and her memory.

I love you and miss you, Mom. Know you were important even if we didn’t show it. Know your granddaughters remember you with fondness and show that love in all the things you taught them to love and do well. Rest well until we meet again. I hope I’ll be kinder next time.

In Loving Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the lessons my mom so patiently taught me, whether or not I was listening.
  2. I am grateful for having finally learned some of those lessons, albeit decades after her death.
  3. I am grateful for the living embodiment of love for my mom in my daughters.
  4. I am grateful for the ability to allow my emotions to flow all the way to the surface instead of keeping them bottled up like I’ve done for so long.
  5. I am grateful for abundance: love, lessons, compassion, understanding, epiphanies, gratitude, releases, friends, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Blessed Be

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