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

Posts tagged ‘worthiness’

Never Take Acceptance for Granted

Unconditional Acceptance

acceptanceAfter many decades, I’ve finally found my tribe; my people; the ones who accept me in spite of my faults—or maybe even because of them. Still, I have moments when I wonder if it’s all a dream, and I’ll wake up on the outside like I was for so many years.

Granted, during those years, I was a chameleon; pretending to be what I thought others wanted to see. I didn’t have the confidence to just be me. I’d been knocked down too many times when I did. Many of the wounds were still open, and the pain came back if I so much as moved a little too far to the right or left. I learned to hide everything inside, and unknowingly made the wounds worse, and in fact, kept them from healing over and thickening my hide a bit.

I was what my parents and family called a “sensitive child”, and believe me, it was not a compliment. Sensitivity and overt emotions were frowned upon in my family. The punishment was ridicule and public humiliation. Yet hard as I tried, I always seemed to be the butt of someone’s cruel joke. What I didn’t know then, but understand better now is, I was a reminder of everything they worked so hard to keep from showing. In a way, they were probably envious I hadn’t yet learned to stuff it all down inside. That would come later. Perhaps they even believed punishing me would ease their own frustration.

Telling Myself Little White Lies to Blend In

I managed to convince myself my family accepted me, and that the ridicule was their way of showing it. I was half right anyway. My dad’s side, especially, only knew how to show they cared by teasing. The trouble was, the teasing managed to hit my pain points dead on more often than not.

Mom’s family was a bit more direct. They went right for the jugular; the things I was most sensitive about: my weight, my complexion, and my inability to measure up to the talents and skills of my sister and cousins. I grew up believing I could never get it right. I thought a was the family black sheep, when in truth, I was the one with rainbow splattered wool woven with moonbeams. In a world of subdued sepia tones doing their best to blend in, I was a beacon who stood out, threatening their safe, unremarkable world.

Over the years, I’ve learned blending in is easy as long as you are OK with losing your individuality and uniqueness. I truly tried, but there was clearly a spark inside me which refused to be dimmed, though heaven knows many tried. But that spark required self-confidence and courage to be able to un-apologetically shine. Traits I lacked for the better part of my life. At least I came to believe I did.

A Spark of Individuality That Insisted on Shining

https://www.flickr.com/photos/erix/66519749/in/photolist-6SW1e-VTKUdm-M1eYnL-242z7nc-oqkg1j-proThx-fsTWuh-6k2FkX-o4wR24-y6Zwr-KfMCGq-SFv9cS-8hfbmZ-bfs4it-SkpXJ5-fTkgBF-SRG43L-oaSpyU-6LELFf-8sY2Wq-65Q84A-4uhkK6-4CwKmQ-21jdqXp-ry5GpM-RHagrR-s7emTJ-b8moxH-pgqTW-GmKEPY-7h7g9p-6tuV9R-r3UHnJ-9kePpX-b1DnC2-9Gv9Kj-RFjn7k-6tuPQR-2b4oHPW-nxaMN8-Kez8E-6tuN7i-dUaLfP-6nXEKq-TiiQCx-nXxmkn-hCDNRa-CFeyn-2YRhRS-9BUEVEvery time I’d push my unique, sensitive self down, it would find a way to pop back up, sending sprouts in different directions, scouting for the ones who’d accept the crazy, colorful mosaic that was my true self. I’d whitewash the heck out of it, and stomp down all the little runners, but somehow, some of them survived. The whitewash was swept away by tears and the storms which punctuated my life, and, though milder now, occasionally still do.

There came a day when I was no longer content with isolation; no longer willing to stuff my feelings away. I broke the urn containing my colorful self, and unlocked the box containing all my unprocessed feelings. I allowed anger, fear, guilt, resentment, and all of my ugliest feelings to run out until I sat for awhile in a sea of blackness.

Then came all the joy I hadn’t allowed myself to feel over simple things; a cat’s purr, a butterfly flitting past me on a warm Spring day; a child’s happy laughter. So many things I’d allowed to be buried under the worst feeling of all: unworthiness. It was then I took the first step towards being accepted. I accepted myself as I was; the crazy colors, and the darkest hollows. I opened a door I’d kept securely bolted because I’d been taught to open it was to invite catastrophe.

A Price to High to Pay

I look back now and realize my parents paid the highest price of all for keeping their own doors self lovebolted. They were utterly alone behind those bolted doors. No one knew them well enough to understand their darkness; their need for a light to guide them out when they fell in too deeply to get out by themselves. In fact, I suspect the few times someone got close enough to see the demons lurking in the darkness, they pushed them away.

I remember my mom ending friendships over the years for reasons I couldn’t fathom. Were they people who tried to reach her in the darkness? Did fear make her repel them, and eject them from her life before they got any closer? Was the possibility she’d be accepted in her entirety too frightening to consider? Or did it not even cross her mind anyone could accept what she’d been taught to believe was a horrible, even evil part of herself?

Or was their version of acceptance simply too foreign? She’d taught me what she learned from her own family: love equals abuse. Kindness isn’t to be trusted, as it surely hides a snake ready to bite you in the butt and steal your soul.

Learning to Tease Gently

https://www.flickr.com/photos/chrishuggins/4675505957/in/photolist-88ac2F-8LnEVQ-r3ZSnA-rkryn2-dEHqQa-buZGL5-9NXU2Q-uQd4Gi-8HtvkK-brtvSa-mc16EB-zKaXu-mayYKi-LpBQx-24Q2uC3-5fjkkg-eJzqz-di4zr7-di4Cts-9d5Zj3-9SKTfn-FCdjdz-f5wwhN-XjXzMf-9P5vA2-kVMXd9-47aeuC-zNAvV-dZ5cLv-5P5kRq-5z3cp5-7fRw8n-Ad6nP2-fjj4VF-nPSwLg-GUXa92-ERVZat-YW3tj5-sgc13A-xYkggi-SwjMJA-K74gKR-qod9ho-evhnbP-5mpBv5-v38BL4-26QXWnW-nCnBUo-JSkWR-88acaPIn my minds eye, I see my parents now as haunted souls, afraid to let even those closest to them inside their tightly guarded walls. They tried to teach me, but while I managed a semblance on the outside, my insides were churning; demanding an ultimate melt down and release. I can only be grateful my melt downs were less extreme than those of my parents or my aunt. I managed to keep functioning enough to raise my kids, hold down a job, and pay my bills. If I was socially awkward, it was because I didn’t know how to get along with people who weren’t constantly putting me down.

I still have friends who tease each other back and forth. I wasn’t going to stray completely from what I knew. The difference is, the teasing is light-hearted and silly rather than pointed and painful. We find humor in our humanness, not in our weakness. The humor isn’t one-sided, but shared by all concerned. My friends make me feel like the times I trip and fall are shared. We all stumble. We all make mistakes, and sometimes do foolish things. Picking each other up and finding humor in the situation takes away the sting instead of adding to it.

A Family Forged With Our Broken Parts

My circle; my family; my community are different these days. Everyone has been broken at one https://www.flickr.com/photos/nhoulihan/4038592452/in/photolist-79SQQm-TfUffd-pgu9hJ-qfYXYE-pDVWDB-6UQgZM-KFog6C-TFYhqd-29TMHM-fP6i28-j73ZT5-atsnGd-C4HxXs-5eRdT5-YoKVff-24PBcMS-28G1ckh-AqrzL-haocsM-o1RCfj-4iigfF-6hbQxG-TCfZem-qVx4n8-U63bC7-dCTxQg-amkKyF-eiY1qF-Ct5hqm-hSGXpV-BcaCh-8c2bVB-27RWaS2-eQjYy1-cJWTgw-ehKQWJ-AJSt63-ay4RXc-cxa1zW-UFe9Vq-aC3EP1-pkL1fr-ehKSrs-qxMMJj-bvMGyV-VG1fkR-ay4Sgv-aDNaMx-aE1tNY-h7171rtime or another, but have found ways to get back up and keep going. At the heart of it all is a level of acceptance I never before experienced. Each of us is accepted because we allow our imperfections to show; because we openly admit we don’t have all the answers or get it right every time.

Each of us had struggled with parents, siblings, or children, or maybe all three. Not one of us has had a life of ease without a single trauma. Most of all, the challenges we’ve faced haven’t made us weak or less than. They’ve simply made us human. Sharing those traumas makes us relatable to the others. It’s something my birth family never figured out. They insulated themselves to the point of isolation. Somehow I knew from early childhood I needed to learn a different way, even though it meant ultimately disconnecting from my own family.

Today, I value and appreciate those who accept my imperfect self far more than I ever did those who loved me into existence. What they knew could only take me so far. The rest, I had to figure out on my own until I connected with those who could and do take me farther than I ever dreamed I’d go.

Gratitude for Learning to Accept My Differences

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the friendships I’ve formed by allowing my imperfections to show.
  2. I am grateful for the opportunity to share what I’ve learned with a hearty dose of compassion.
  3. I am grateful for a life that’s very different from the one I imagined when I was young.
  4. I am grateful for an amazing, supportive family, very few of whom are by blood.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; joy, friendship, compassion, support, opportunities, motivation, inspiration, peace, harmony, balance, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

About the Author

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

Can I Trust Enough to Give My Whole Heart?

My Own Words Come Back and Slap Me In the Face

In my last article, I wrote the following words:

Very few have ever gotten close enough to be able to hurt me.

After writing them within the context of the article and publishing it, I sat down to meditate. The words hovered in the forefront of my consciousness, almost taunting me to examine them further. Being unable to resist the temptation, I decided to use my next article, this one, in fact, to explore the idea further.

I looked back at the men in my life over the years. I realized that in every case, though I felt hurt over one thing or another when our brief interlude ended, it was never my heart which was hurt, but my pride. Thus, the words so casually tossed into the last thing I wrote for public consumption are not only the plain, unvarnished truth, but a sad commentary on my 61 years on this planet.

Being Worthy

For a long time, I was like so many others who believe they don’t deserve to be loved. It isn’t a conscious choice we make. After all, who would make such a choice? It’s more a sense of worthiness, and mine was decidedly lacking, and, as such, was reflected not only in the men I attracted, but people in general.

When I finally started telling myself a different story, my entire social circle changed. For a while, it meant I spent a lot of time alone, but as I returned to the activities which had always brought me joy, I found new people entering my life who shared the joyfulness. Even so, it took a long time for those friendships to become more than surface-level. My old habits still lurk beneath the surface. I’m still hesitant to expose my soft inner core and be vulnerable with anyone.

Chinks in the Walls

But lately, a few have begun to scratch beneath my surface. They read my words and, often times, recognize something similar in themselves. That recognition helps establish a connection and those people in particular read past the words to their source, my heart.

Granted, the insightful ones are still few and far between, but having even one in my life who understands what I’m not putting into words is a 100% improvement over what came before.

The biggest surprise came when I started letting my hair down both literally and figuratively. People suddenly found a safe place to share their own struggles and challenges. Why did I never realize how honored…how touched I would feel when a friend shared their vulnerabilities with me?

Pain Averted, Opportunities Missed

Hidden behind the walls I’d built so painstakingly, I missed out on a lot of things. Believing for so many years that emotions equaled weakness, I failed to learn things everyone else seems to take for granted. I know it was my misinterpretation of my parents’ actions and behavior. I know that now. But I was so completely convinced that exposing my emotions would make me the weak person I believed my mom to be, and who I refused to emulate. How was I to know that it takes a strong person to allow others to see their soft side, and not the other way around? I made a conscious effort before my 10th birthday to block myself off from the one person who could have taught me what I needed to know.

I watched my mom struggle to be loved and assumed she was too weak to just stand on her own and tell everyone to pound sand. I watched my dad keep all of his emotions inside and at the same time, drink away the pain he never let anyone see. Yet he’s the one I chose to emulate, sans drinking. I have to wonder if he ever allowed himself to be loved; if he ever gave someone his heart.

Taking My First Baby Steps

Now that I’m at least considering trusting again, it’s opened me up to having girl friends. But a relationship beyond friendship with a man is still as frightening as it ever was. So I make excuses. The pickin’s are really slim. Not too many single men looking for a woman my age. 60-year-olds want to date 40-year-olds. I’m telling myself new stories, but keeping the same theme.

It’s funny. One of my newest friends is in her early 40’s. We were talking about how the 60-year-olds want 40-year-olds and she echoed something I said when I was mid-divorce. At the time, I was in my late 30’s and it was the 60-year-olds who made the advances, not the 40-year-olds. I remember thinking at the time, Yuk! He’s as old as my dad! Seems like I’ve completed the circle now, and I’m not exactly happy about it. Because there will always be 40-year-olds who are happy to date the 60-year-olds, few as they might be. Where does that leave us 60-year-olds, even if we don’t look or act our age?

Strengthening Myself Instead of My Defenses

But again, that’s me making excuses because no matter what I might say, I’m still not sure I can trust someone with my heart. In my mind, it’s still far too fragile. Yet, how do you strengthen something? You have to temper it. Muscles need to tear. Blisters become callouses. There will be some pain or discomfort along the way. You just have to decide whether that pain or discomfort is worth it; if being stronger and healthier is worth the cost.

I still find it easier to watch people interacting, calling it research. I still can’t talk to a man I don’t know in a social situation until I’ve convinced myself he’s interested in someone else and will only see me from a non-emotional viewpoint. Only then can I approach him in friendship, feeling that my heart is safe once more.

It seems I’ve answered my own question. I am still not certain I can bare my heart to someone, trusting he won’t take my most precious gift and stomp it into the dust.

But then I ask myself whether I’d survive the experience, and I answer with a resounding Yes! Maybe I’m ready after all?

For All That Came Before and For All That’s Still to Come, I Am Grateful

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the people who have breached my walls.
  2. I am grateful for those who are teaching me to let go of old fears.
  3. I am grateful for my girl friends.
  4. I am grateful for a mind that forces me to really look at my self-talk.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; friendship, lessons, growing stronger, love, joy, dancing, opportunity, peace, harmony, philanthropy and prosperity.

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

August 20, 2014 Ode to Decluttering

The first thing to realize is that clutter comes in many forms: Energetic, mental, emotional, physical; and many variations on these themes.

Once again, I’m guided to declutter, but this time, it’s not so much my physical environment, but my mental and emotional ones. As a result, I find myself less inclined to allow Facebook to suck up my time and have been taking steps to, in essence, clear more space. To begin with, I’m no longer posting what I’m doing or where I’ve visited, and, in fact, didn’t even post comments or pictures from the Rascal Flatts concert the other night. This morning, I was guided to go through my friends list and unfollow many on it, which will, ultimately, result in considerably less activity on my wall to distract me and keep me away from what’s truly important. Even better has been the ease with which I have been able to close the Facebook page for hours on end, not even missing knowing what my friends are up to. Clearly, the time and energy sucking I was succumbing to has lost a lot of its glitter over the last week or so.

Ch-ch-ch-changes!

Making this small but significant change has had immediate, positive results. Not only did I get some editing done yesterday, but I wrote my blog post much earlier in the day, got laundry done and a few other chores I might have continued to put off. But the very best part of my latest decluttering effort has clearly been on the energetic plane. I found myself going to bed a little earlier last night, and awoke refreshed and ready to start my day hours early than has been my wont for the last couple of weeks! I also feel much more relaxed and focused.

This is not to say that social media sites don’t have their place. I, myself, tend to follow pages and people who post a lot of positive affirmations and empowering quotes. In fact, I have a habit of unfollowing anyone who posts a lot of political and world shattering images and comments. As always, we choose the energetic vibration of our environment, and in so choosing, we draw to us those things which maintain our selected balance. Thus, the people and places I choose to follow tend to be spiritually enlightened, oriented towards kindness, animal friendly and, in many cases offer educational opportunities in non-traditional subjects. In fact, I think part of my disenchantment with much of it lately has been the endless posts which do not feed my need for mental and spiritual expansion.

As a further expansion of this thought, and my desire to improve my kindness rating, I am grateful that Facebook has the “unfollow” function rather than limiting its users to either seeing everything someone posts or not having them on their friends list. Unfollowing someone doesn’t send them any kind of message, as far as I know. But unfriending them, once they realize it has occurred, can, at the very least, cause hurt feelings, but can also result in anger or, in people who might already be mentally unstable or depressed, actually increase those feelings of unworthiness they might already be feeling. I, for one, do not want to make anyone feel unworthy or uncared for (though, admittedly, I have made comments and remarks which may have done so). In fact, social media gives us too easy a path towards unkindness by allowing us to vent our frustration in real time, instead of taking a time out to think it through, and realize that our words can be hurtful if not edited and put forth after we’ve worked through negative emotions.

Over sharing runs rampant.

People joke about how we post pictures of our meals, our animals and other strange things for the reading enjoyment of our “followers”. I’d estimate that most of us do so at least once in awhile, while others are guilty of posting such things almost daily. We are also addicted to the “selfie”, and again, some people post them occasionally, when they’re on vacation or at Disneyland or celebrating a special event, while others post daily, or even hourly! This propensity towards posting selfies is just another indication of how closely many people tie themselves to social media every day.

Again, I find myself grateful to have not succumbed to the need to allow Facebook to ping me on my smart phone every time my friends post something or comment on my posts. The lack of constant reminders makes it even easier for me to disconnect for long periods of time. The fact is, a phone that is constantly pinging and booping and making other assorted sounds would just annoy the ever-loving crap out of me! Bad enough, being on the “do not call” list has not prevented salesmen and other unwanted calls to break through my personal barrier of people I do and do not want to talk to. (driving home from my daughter’s house on Monday, a call came in which I thought might be my daughter, and, had I listened for the ring tone would have known it wasn’t. A saleswoman launched into her pitch with such verve, I was forced to just disconnect as she didn’t even take a breath long enough for me to politely tell her I wasn’t interested!)

What’s happy for you, might make someone else sad.

Many of my friends post pictures of their vacations, their homes, their family gatherings and their grandchildren. While sharing their happiness might be uplifting to some, consider a person who can’t afford vacations, but spends a lot of time working just to make ends meet. Or perhaps, a person who has to share a small apartment in the city. Consider how the happy, family gathering might affect someone who either has no family left, or has nobody they’re close to. What about those who either have no children or are estranged from them and, as such, will never have or see their grandchildren? In cases like these, what seems like a sharing of joy to some could trigger, once again, those thoughts of unworthiness in others. I can see someone wallowing in self-pity because they are unable to post similar pictures. Even I, find myself, on occasion, feeling a little sorry for myself…at least until I remember to be grateful for all that I have, and realize that I’m only seeing a small piece of their lives. The reality might be that, overall, I have far more to be grateful for than they do. Those happy family vacation pictures might hide a child who was lost too young, or a parent who is suffering from Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s or ALS. We don’t often post the things in life which cause us pain, or with which we must struggle constantly to accept. There are a lot of cliches running through my head right now, but the bottom line is that it is dangerous to compare your own life to one in which you’re only given a glimpse of the good times.

Tuning out and turning off to increase focus on what I can control.

To summarize this rather lengthy post (and longer posts is another benefit/result of reducing my social media exposure), though there are mixed thoughts on whether social media enhances or detracts from our overall well-being, I believe you have to take it on a case by case basis, and simply decide how it’s affecting your life. After doing my own analysis, I’ve decided that it is OK in small doses, but that, for awhile now, the doses I’ve been consuming have been excessive, and, as a result, causing me damage which reducing the dosage will quickly reverse. All I can say is: Choose wisely, my friends!

My gratitudes today are:
1. I am grateful for my recent inspiration to declutter energetically and mentally as it will positively impact me emotionally as well.
2. I am grateful that we all have choices.
3. I am grateful for visions of myself which show me areas which need improvement.
4. I am grateful for new horizons.
5. I am grateful for abundance which is available to everyone: Harmony, peace, health, happiness, joy, love and prosperity.

Namaste

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