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

Posts tagged ‘trauma’

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.

Pain Won’t Respect Our Walls

Pain and Trauma Make Repeat Performances

At one time or another, we all suffer some kind of pain or trauma. It might be a broken friendship or relationship, the death of a beloved family member. For many, it’s far worse, and to many of us unimaginable. Yet regardless of what caused our suffering, most of us have one thing in common; we try to wall away the pain and get on with our lives.

We might or might know the best thing to do is work through the painful event, but life and society, and a host of other excuses make it easier to shove our feelings into a box, and get on with our lives—or so we’d like to believe.

The trouble with pain is it has a nasty habit of re-introducing itself into our lives at inconvenient moments, and it does it with insidious regularity. It isn’t really coming back at us to punish us though. We are meant to both deal with our painful moments and learn from them. When we wall them away, we guarantee we’ll be revisited; our own personal version of the Ghosts of Traumas Past.

The Masks We Wear

https://www.flickr.com/photos/katsexagesima01/3612047773/in/photolist-6vbFXK-7mfHK5-82q4rd-7Ku82r-7xTufQ-7xTvNm-noV2nx-8v7yLg-7xTtxw-b5JoM-awiDbx-74ofjQ-4xTEyL-aFUvSc-2nJqV-pnUS3J-UZSY-KSCvY-q54hFw-74jkL8-57r2Za-rXWSV-RAqoKt-wCAn3-74jkCt-459Ltf-8VkKtr-jrTTpy-7Mx4vz-9gJ6Hm-q2BAZF-A1eTBs-4sLmnj-7hJteh-nDn5BQ-98W5r7-4oJBHP-FUYqD-66WsR1-aaLTe-9gF1wt-7AibaD-cof4ks-bKGrY-7pamwZ-9yY17Q-2QEkGc-qtnpn9-qUrb5H-5EB1gvThere are so many people we meet who seem to continuously wear a smile on their faces. Some of them even make us smile just to see them. But what’s really behind those smiles? The positive exterior? What does it cost them to maintain the mask and the ruse that everything in their life is perfect?

I’ve learned so much about that in recent years. We all have our secrets and things we choose to hold in rather than inflict on others. We all smile when we’re hurting inside at one time or another, telling anyone who asks we’re “fine”. The general public accepts our words and looks no further, but what about the people closest to us? Do they listen to the words and ignore what lies closer to the surface than we’d like? Do they look into our eyes, see the pain lurking in their depths and offer comfort though we don’t, and would never ask?

Letting People Down When We Hide From Our Pain

I think about my dad and all the times he ignored my mom’s pain while at the same time, walling away his own. Some, I know was years of habit. I think at one time, he was conscious of her inner turmoil, her need to be loved and accepted without qualification. But when her need wasn’t met by her family, she sank deeper into herself and only in those moments when they were alone together and her defenses dropped, albeit deeply, might he have seen the quagmire of her soul beneath the carefully constructed facade.

Coming from a family where emotions were rarely displayed and where stoicism was highly valued, I don’t think he knew how to deal with raw emotion in himself or anyone else. I suspect it was even terrifying for him when mom’s masks slipped and he saw the raw and bleeding soul beneath. I’m not surprised he developed defense mechanisms and responded with anger or disgust. So much of the way he responded was self-directed too.

The tendency to hide from our emotions and pain is perpetuated into adulthood. I remember a female manager taking me under her wing when I was working in aerospace. One of her most oft-repeated lessons had to do with hiding your emotions. Women had to work harder to be taken seriously in that environment, and showing emotion was the quickest way to kill any upward momentum you might have achieved. I took her message to heart, embracing the lesson with the zealousness of a religious fanatic.

Hiding and Re-living: An Endless Cycle Until We Learn and Accept

Through a divorce, the death of my mother, and the challenges of juggling career, self-care, and two young children, I kept my struggles to myself. The result was what appeared to be a rock-hard exterior and few I could call “friend”. The false front prevented anyone from getting close. No one ever figured out that a slight tap on that exterior would have cracked it into a million pieces. I even convinced myself I preferred the solitude and the isolation.

As the years have passed, the painful moments were triggered over and over. Often they led to periods of even more isolation as I tried vainly to shore up the eroding walls. Ultimately I learned to face the reminders head on and find the lesson in the pain. And I learned to be more understanding and compassionate of others.

We Are Never Truly Alone

Part of learning to manage and accept our own painful past is the realization we’re not alone. Everyone suffered a setback, a loss, or a trauma at some point in their lives. Yet comparing ours to theirs isn’t the answer either. It’s easy to say “I shouldn’t feel so bad. This other person has suffered far more than I.” But we all suffer within our own contract; our own capabilities. We all have challenges which help us learn to become the person we were meant to be.

It’s not a matter of comparing. It’s a matter of empathizing and connecting. Sometimes we connect through our propensity to wall away the pain. Other times, we connect because of similarities in our experiences. The best connections, in my opinion, are those made when we understand it’s not the level of pain or how we’ve worked through it, but that we all have. It’s an unspoken understanding that at one time or another, we all need to straighten our spine and go on, even when we’d rather crawl into a hole.

Yet, it’s also that moment when we truly accept we weren’t meant to soldier through alone. Sometimes, it takes some life-shattering moments, much like the ones I experienced before we accept that we deserve to ask for and receive help. Even there, we find connection with others who believed themselves unworthy. We connect with the isolated, the hermits, the ones who for years believed themselves to be oddballs. We find our community where we least expected it—with the ones who are connected through being different.

Finding Our Community in Our Differences

Perhaps it’s easier to find comfort in a community where everyone thinks like we do, and shares all the same values, beliefs, and visions. It’s harder when your world-view is a unique combination of pieces and parts gleaned from what you’ve read, seen, and experienced as an isolated soul on its own journey. But the very fact we hide our feelings and thoughts away to blend in is what ultimately brings us together. When we have the epiphany and realize we were never meant to blend in and doing so is stifling the unique and beautiful butterfly of our soul, we find ourselves in a garden with thousands of other unique and beautiful souls.

The hardest thing in the world is to come out from behind the walls we spent a lifetime building—the walls which make us appear to belong. Yet there comes a point when we can no longer maintain a construction which was never structurally sound. For some, it comes with the force of an earthquake, stone, mortar, blood, and tears flying everywhere with no hope for containment. Others may voluntarily take down their walls as they allow themselves to see past the smokescreens and preconceived notions.

However it happens, finding the garden beyond where uniqueness is valued instead of squashed is worth the effort and even the pain of the journey.

Do we ever completely release our painful and traumatic moments? Probably not. There will always be some which come back to haunt us in one way or another. But there will also be those which fade into distant memory as we deal with the pain, embrace the lesson, and move onto other things. Some of those become our ability to relate and help others through their own which I believe was the purpose of the experience in the first place. I know my own life is richer for the opportunities I’ve been given to be there for someone with whom an experience we in some way share is still fresh, or returning in full force to bring them to their knees as it once brought me to mine.

Knowing We Always Have Something to Be Grateful For

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the experiences which have made me stronger, but even more for the ones which taught me compassion.
  2. I’m grateful for the opportunity to give back now that I’ve learned my walls only kept me from experiencing joy and connection.
  3. I’m grateful for my friends and family who teach me every day to be a kinder, more compassionate Divine Being having a Human experience.
  4. I’m grateful for love. Without it, we’re incomplete.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, life, lessons, compassion, kindness, beauty, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats, suicide survivors, mental health, and depression. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She specializes in creating content that helps entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers 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

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: