Days 4-8: No Bat Belt

There’s a scene in Dark Knight Rises where Batman is trying to climb out of a prison. The climb could mean death if he falls- so he has a safety rope tied around his waist. He works out, gets stronger, makes the leap, and falls. The only person to make this leap and survive was a child, with nothing but desperation and fear to spur him.

Bat man’s prison mate says:

“make the climb as the child did. Without the rope.”

He doesn’t need more strength; he needs to let go of his last tether to safety. He needs to know that there is nothing to break his fall, and he’s truly risking everything when he leaps.

This weekend was a time of removing my bat belt, my safety, my rope. Strand by strand, I unraveled and dissolved it, thanking it deeply for all the times it had saved me, but also recognizing that I hadn’t yet been ready for it. I wasn’t yet worthy of a bat-belt, a lightsaber, or a spear; I needed to learn to be strong on my own, first. Leaning on the assistance had me not trust my own strength or worth, to the point where I felt helpless, scared, certain I couldn’t make it on my own.

Dark Knight Rises: Prison Escape Scene

And so, I took off the rope. It was a painful, days’-long process.

I’m preparing for the climb again now.

These days had some victories: I discovered again how good exercise has me feel. On days I couldn’t go to the gym, I went on hour-long walks, bringing my focus to breath, and the feel of my feet on the ground as they rolled from heel to toe. I canceled some friend dates (thank you for being so understanding, friends ❤️) and I also reached out and called people, and wrote to one friend, when the despair got too heavy to carry alone. (Thank you for lending your steady strength and compassion in my dark pit, friends ❤️)

I’ve leaned on trainers, a counselor, and friends – but I haven’t leaned too much. There’s a balance. There’s a time when no one can prep us for the climb but ourselves.

I realized I had been hanging onto someone as he made the climb for us both, and we both fell.

But accepting help from community with deep gratitude is an important step for me. Hitting rock bottom and not being able to show a “perfect” face to the world has had me discover that many people are understanding, kind, and empathetic. They didn’t judge me. They didn’t even seem to think twice, just held me or let me cancel…

yes, there were those who surprised me with a lack of empathy, but having no resources to deal with that also made turning away from those few, and dropping those communications very easy.

There’s nothing like having absolutely nothing left, to teach a person how to say no, and how to say thank you.

And so here we are at Day 8 of the training. I’ve bribed myself with inspiring shirts to get me in the mood to go work out 😉

Day 8: Padawan

I’ve stuck with the challenge of dietary change (I’ll put a sample day’s meals here, one of these blog posts…maybe tomorrow …), of drinking half my body weight in ounces of water daily, (not as hard as it sounds, especially if you get some exercise in,) and of exercise.

I have discovered that I am most unhappy when I don’t allow myself to be as expansive as my nature demands: so when I was living in the “shoulds” of: closed off, reproachful blame, and victimhood; when I wanted above all things to understand why, I felt sick. I don’t need to know someone’s reason – all I need to know is that they chose.

As soon as I allowed myself to do what people told me I “shouldn’t,” which is: love, forgive, understand, be okay about things, let go, be actually happy about things just as they are, AND continue to wear my rings because they mean that I belong to myself now, and are inscribed a with these words: Present and Wonder, that I must live in now,

I felt better. I feel – good.

Ready to make the climb and leap with no rope, no bat belt.

What if I fall? Oh,but my darling,what if you fly? -Erin Hanson

Anger: Four Steps to Release and Heal

Anger. What is it, why does it happen, and what is the healthiest way to deal with it?

These questions have been coming up as I have carried anger for the past three days. That doesn’t feel good in my body or heart, so I decided to really examine what was happening.

I came up with these key things: four ways to diffuse and heal the anger.

 

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1) Name it.

What am I REALLY feeling? Anger is a secondary emotion – there will be something underneath it.  So go through, list the things you feel out loud. “I feel angry because ________.”  Keep going until you run out of reasons. Then, dig deeper.
“I feel minimized because _________.”
“I feel used because _________.”
“I feel threatened because _________.”
“I feel betrayed because _________”
“I feel afraid because _______”  whatever comes up, name it.  For each one, list reasons until you run out of things to say. Let yourself cry if you need to. purge it.

When you have done this, sit silently with your heart and give yourself love. Give yourself approval. Remind yourself that you are safe. No one can harm you or detract from you without your permission.

 

2) Reach Out.

Connect with other people who remind you how loved and how incredible you are – not necessarily with words, but simply with the way they are happy to be around you.

When we interact with others, the way we relate to them is a reflection of ourselves. We are creatures who project — and that’s why if we find ourselves continually saying negative things about others, if certain words/phrases keep repeating/patterns keep repeating with every relationship, it’s time to examine ourselves. For example, if people say their ex is “crazy,” (they’re likely to say that about all of them), it’s time to take a hard look at their own issues. Or If we are continually suspicious of others, it’s time to do some counseling to heal whatever it is in us that is living in a lack / fear of loss mentality.

So : go interact with the people you have good things to say about. The people you love. The people who make your heart smile. The people who know, love, and bring out the best you.

3) Take Personal Responsibility.

After a time, if the anger cycles and re-cycles, it’s time to examine what it’s trying to tell you. Anger is a signal. I was told once by an incredibly brilliant person that “Anger is a sign that we need more self-care.”
It can also be a signal that our boundaries have been crossed in some way. It can be a signal that we aren’t being true to ourselves.

In my case, I betrayed myself in a huge way. I kept silent. I fell into old people-pleasing behavior and did not speak what I wanted or what I didn’t want; I didn’t speak what I was feeling — I did something that was NOT o.k. with me in that moment.
It was a very horrible, difficult experience, and the rage aftermath was nearly crippling.   Apparently I have healed so much that my subconscious is telling me in no uncertain terms, it is NOT ok with self-betrayal anymore.

This anger is mine, I own it, it belongs to me.  When you say that, you stop putting it on others. You stop saying “He did ….x,y,z” and listing the actions and circumstances that triggered you into reaction, that were a catalyst for the anger response. We can waste years of life if we continually justify our anger with someone else’s actions — because the focus will always be on something we cannot control. We will be in reaction, telling the harmful actions and choices over like rosary beads, re-opening the wound and reacting again as though it just happened. The stress hormones will flood the body anew. I can feel them come up even now, if I play over in my head the circumstances that led to my anger.  This is not healthy for the body or soul,  and it keeps us stuck. Stuck in old circumstances that no longer exist (the past does not exist except in our own head, since everyone’s experience of a moment is different!) stuck in reaction, basically — it keeps us a victim.

So. Owning the anger is an empowering thing.  I KNOW people can do absolutely horrible things, and depending on the degree of the harm, there may need to be years of processing anger. This is a healing step.  But once the healing has occurred and enough time has passed, there is a time to own it all, take responsibility for our emotions, and know that we can make choices.  We can’t choose what others do. Sometimes we are truly helpless and someone else’s behavior is deeply violating. What we can choose is how we heal, how we walk forward, how we honor ourselves – how we talk to ourselves from that moment on. We don’t have to take any responsibility for what someone else chooses to do – if they treat us badly, we don’t have to choose to say “They treated me badly because something in me is not worthy of respect,” or “I invited that,” or any other variation of taking blame for someone else’s shitty behavior. No…what we can instead choose is “I love myself/I am incredible/ if they can’t see it, their problem,” and so on. This is owning our anger, owning our response, and knowing that we deserve better and can walk away faster next time.

I uncovered that the person I was truly angry with was myself. I was livid with myself for staying silent, for freezing and complying, falling into a very long-ago established abused-victim behavior. I was furious with myself for being afraid to speak up. Underneath that, I was deadly afraid. If I had betrayed myself again, when would it stop? When would I finally learn my own worth, stop caring so much what others think, and SPEAK UP when something wasn’t ok with me, or when a boundary had been crossed?

This was a harmless, innocent situation, (albeit thoughtless and rude-) and yet the old harms came up due to a chance dynamic.  What, I wondered, would teach me to believe in myself and know that I was valuable and speak UP?

The answer is : the anger. The anger is teaching me. The anger is there TO teach me. I just had to stop ratcheting around the room like a burning ping-pong ball, and create stillness. I had to stop running from the anger, I had to stop reaching out to try to communicate with the person I had been angry with, I had to look within and tell it, “Ok, anger, I am listening.”

Every human being is going to experience anger. If we could stop putting shame and fear around it and start listening to what it’s trying to tell us, we might all be healthier with it.  Anger in itself is not a bad thing. It’s natural and it’s vital to our survival. What is important is how we use it – if we can create some stillness and listen to it, if our subconscious feels heard and honored, it won’t try so VERY hard to get our attention.

 

 

4) Self Care.

Now it’s time to remind ourselves that we are loved — and that we are accepted and whole just as we are, anger and all. When something happens that triggers anger, there is a great vulnerability afterward, and the self-esteem will take a big dip.
We  need to feel some solidarity and safety, and the awesome thing is, we don’t need anyone else to give that. We always have that available, because we can give it to ourselves!
A good start to rebuilding self-esteem and feelings of security & being loved is to do some self-care practices.  Cook a healthy, delicious meal, or take yourself out on a date! Take a bubble bath, or do some self-massage with oils or scents that soothe you. Take a walk in beautiful surroundings. Write a gratitude list, and really ask your heart to feel the goodness of these things in your life. Exercise – do something that isn’t a punishing chore, but fun and playful! Something you enjoy. Write yourself notes about why you are awesome. Write affirmations (short and sweet!) and say them to yourself while meditating, or while taking a walk.

Do the things that empower you, do the things that make you feel most YOU.

If we feel empowered and safe, we will experience less anger. If we feel loved, we will experience less anger. The constant work is to give these things to ourselves.

I wish everyone healing in this continual process… I know I feel a lot better 🙂

Getting Clear – Honoring Yourself

I wrote this almost two years ago, and I’m finding it is time to revisit it.

I do have to add that I no longer agree with my words regarding the man in question; I’m not going to change the words of this post, however, because regardless of what someone else chose to do with their time here in this life, my own learning turns out to be what is important.

Getting Clear

I just finished a coaching assignment, writing about “my ideal partner.” it was surprisingly difficult.
How often do we actually think specifically about what it is we want?

I have been allowing what comes into my life…not asking for what I want and need.

He was persistent and determined, I loved him- he is a truly wonderful person- I was flattered and thought it must be right. It got to the point where I needed him to persist. I needed to “test” him, pick arguments or push him away a little, in order to know that he was loyal, that I could be safe. Because I wasn’t safe…he had been dishonest, out of his own fear. I could not handle dishonesty, but I pretended to myself that it didn’t matter. He left too many times, in pain and confusion of his own. I dealt with the shattering of abandonment again and again, accepted, understood, and forgave, and endured, and didn’t notice that I was betraying myself.

Here’s the thing I have learned, that is easier for me to put into words than into action: unconditional love does NOT mean that you ignore your own needs.

If you accept things that go against your own core values, you will not be able to act from your highest self. You will fall into reactionary behavior, you will get sucked right into your own conditioned responses…in short, for both people, no matter how much in love you are, the relationship will not be bringing out the best YOU you can be.

This was the truest love I have ever known, but harmed by a toxic cycle of fear and reaction.
I am learning so much from this, and I am finding I want to teach others, and help them with what I have learned. Then, this deep love will still have a purpose. It will be putting some good into the world. It won’t have been for nothing.

I only saw the good things, of which there were many. This is not about him being bad in any way. He’s one of the most amazing people I have ever met. Because of that, I put blinders on myself and ignored warning signs, because I wanted to believe in a beautiful fantasy.
I accepted his choices that went against my deepest values, because I convinced myself that loyalty to the one I loved was more important than anything else. I’ve been reacting my life.

I am taking responsibility now–and grateful for this lesson. I made the choice to ignore my own values. I am not regretful of this- I learned a lot from it. Nor do I regret loving so deeply, because I found out how magnificently loyal my heart is. I am proud of that.

Examine what you are at the core without judgment, accept it. Then, it’s time to start working with it. Whatever you are, don’t hide it!

I know I am deeply loyal, and could no more betray someone, abandon someone or shirk responsibility than I could cut off my own arm…this is a truth that’s in my bones, it is who I am. The important thing is to love that, not pretend it doesn’t exist, if someone comes along who has different values. It doesn’t make them less, or you less. The key is to be so clear in who you are, that you remove the emotion from your decisions. If you’ve already mapped out what is truly vital to you, you will no longer be in a reactive state when other people come into your life. You will be acting from your truest self.

We are all so different. If we learn to love who we are, and stand up and BE who we are without hiding, if we let the people go who do not mesh with our own core values — without rancor or judgment of them or ourselves, just let them go, as they need their own kind of people, you see — then , we can begin to have clear lives free of toxicity.

Sit down and articulate your core values. What makes you who you are? What makes you happy? Then go one step further, and define what you want. Get specific. It’s surprisingly difficult to actually write it out. We might think about it vaguely, but rarely do people actually spell out their visions, dreams, intentions, desires on paper.

Creating my life is fun- it feels like I’m a kid again, where the daydream is nearly as pleasurable as the reality would be. When we actually get specific, not just about what we want but about how that would feel, we call things into our lives. Creating your life with intention, honoring who you are, knowing that it’s possible and that it’s not “selfish” is a very empowering thing! I highly recommend it. take a moment to really think about what it is you want in your life, or to create in the world with your time here. Happiness is a choice, it is accessible to everyone regardless of external circumstances. To want to be happy is not selfish- it actually leads to greater compassion for others, and more ability to put healing in the world.  

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Maggid process- Finding a Story–Letting Go

Maggid process- Finding a Story--Letting Go

With such a magnificent blaze the trees let go – I wish to burn as brightly.
Sometimes when I’m supposed to find a Maggidic story, the story finds me.
Often, it’s something I don’t really want to examine all that closely- so I might push it away for a time, but always it comes back, standing outside my door, wagging its tail,
and I have to say…all right. Come in. I’ll learn you, story, and I’ll tell you to others.
The pain that comes with the kind of clarity this requires is not small…
sometimes it involves facing things I’d rather not face, letting go of things in my life that I’d rather were “Forever,”
but when I finally sit down, let the story come fully, crack my heart open and let it really feel, there’s a cleansing that happens with the burn of loss. There’s the feeling that I am open, clear, and living absolutely fully again without blockages of things that aren’t really in alignment with my chosen expression in this life. There’s an immense feeling of power, as though my life force is no longer diluted…

but it’s hard to remember that, and hard to let go when the heart is aching with loss.

That’s when I look to the trees in the fall and winter as guides. How they celebrate the letting go–and how dignified they are when they are bare; what courage it takes to sit with emptiness for a time, to allow the barren branches to be, rather than trying to cling to the old simply so we won’t have to experience the pain of loss…
when we truly let go, and stand with open heart and bare branches, that’s when there is room for the new, beautiful, pure life to grow.

Let go…let go…let go, and feel with what radiant light you burn – glow, like the trees, with magnificent fire, and trust that something new that is good for your heart will grow where there are now empty branches.

a Fugue: Kafka in Barney Purple OR a lesson in Letting Go

In a week, I am moving into a new home.  This new home is in no way ready for me (and Figaro) to move in.
Granted, my remodel plans were ambitious; some, (clearly lacking vision) might say “crazy,”
but as the plans developed and the contractors were found, I learned what to let go, what to save for later…I prioritized. (the TARDIS stays, but I haven’t begun construction yet; the tile and the Sherlock Holmes fireplace have to happen first. TARDIS happens before the Secret Passageway Bookcase. See? I am quite sensible.)

I also decided I wanted to paint some of the rooms myself (and my Dad did a *lot* of the work, too) because I wanted to get to know my home, and inhabit it in this way before I moved in.

Great! Sounds nice, yeah? Reasonable?

I was buying paint for an accent wall – a small thing, you’d think – and it mysteriously came out Bright Barney the Dinosaur Purple.

Ok, this wasn’t what I had planned – I wasn’t remotely going for purple, but, being a go-with-the-flow type, I tried it for a bit and even tried to like it or see if I could make it work (maybe by hanging a wall-sized mural over it?)

a Fugue: Kafka in Barney Purple

Okay, maybe not.   

I took it back. They put it on a shelf called Mis-mixed paint, rather like the Island of Forgotten Toys.  I felt a little guilty. I found a new color entirely, and even switched to an entirely different brand,

but failed to note that it was the same person mixing my paint.

Looking back, I am quite sure there was a Malevolent, Dinosaur-ish, Purple gleam in her eye.

I went home again, tra-la,  and began stirring the paint with a sinking feeling…
put the paint on the wall (maybe it looks different ON?)

Barney the Dinosaur Purple.

Again.

Same. exact. Shade. If I had paid her to match it, she couldn’t have done a more impeccable job…not even if I had decided to hold a contest for the most Devious Mixer of Paint Who Could Infallibly, Impeccably Recreate This Abhorrent Purple.

I have a bad habit: I see symbols, metaphors, messages – in *everything.*

a can of paint could maybe just be a can of paint, I see that. I really do.

BUT.

Really?

I once auditioned for a dinosaur in “Barney.” it was a boy, six-year-old-ish, who was a “scat-singer” or rap artist.

Riff

Maybe I should be grateful that my wall color didn’t mysteriously turn out to be “Riff Orange.”

It was one of the coolest auditions I’ve ever experienced, as it was in a sweet little hidden studio with awesome exposed brick and crazy decor.

They told me after my audition that they felt like they’d just been to a Toots Theilmans concert. That felt awesome, which made it o.k. that I didn’t get the job.

Still, good memories and all, I don’t know how to live in a room with a Barney Dinosaur Purple wall.

And I think the lesson here is:  you don’t have to make something work, even if it’s *very* persistent. You also don’t have to stick with something “for Old Times’ sake.”

O.k., there is a time to stick with it and work at something. For sure. That’s my definition of “romantic,” actually… when people have positive connections that outweigh the troubles, and they stick together and work on things. (But the positive needs to outweigh the negative! that’s key!) Loyalty. Awesome. That and honesty are top things on my list of desirable traits in a partner.

But knowing when to let go is important.

I used to be one of those people who hung in there no matter what. I was a freaking barnacle. Through storms, through high seas with no rum in sight, I was stalwart. I Remained. I held on.  Even if people were horrid rotten little perishers, I was loyal. Stay at the party hoping it gets better! Stay till the bitter end!  Hang in there and keep hanging until you turn into an albatross!

Being like that is like having a business that is deeply important to you, but then hiring anyone who walks in and keeping them no matter what: your business is going to die in fearful agonies. It’s important to define what you’re looking for in employees (yeah?) and make sure that relationship (the work) has a sort of maintenance aspect- it stays healthy, or it needs to end. Yes? Why is this easier to see about business, and so much harder to see about our own amazing, precious and beautiful selves? And our lives which are finite and irreplaceable?

Letting go of caffeine.  Huge one for me. Maaaaajor detox symptoms. It was so hard, but I did it, and all of a sudden, I feel so much healthier and my hypoglycemia turns out to be non-existent.

Let go!  You may experience unpleasant side-effects at first, but still – let go!

That friend who chooses to see the world through complaint-filters, who dims your sparkle but is there! and persistent! and you’ve known them forever!
sometimes, it may even be HARD to find what you’re looking for – that Barney Dinosaur Purple may keep showing up – but hold on.

Hold on to the vision of what your soul needs.

“Letting go” is a passive-sounding phrase, but it is one of the hardest, most demanding-of-action things I have ever experienced…because carving out a new pathway takes persistence and awareness.  It’s so easy for the mind (and, by extension, our choices) to follow the well-worn habitual pathways. So letting go properly is something that requires you to be fully present, and very clear.

So – here’s my lesson from the paint store today:  define what you want. Set your intention. Get clear, and then  let go of anything, any color, or anyone not in alignment with the way you want to show up in the world.

and here’s the really hard part:  go in and try again, try as though it is the first time and you haven’t just been given one gallon after another of Barney the Dinosaur Purple.  Hold your little paint card and valiantly ask for Eggshell or Winston Churchill Buttercup, completely believing that it’s going to work. Show up fully.

I pretty much failed to do that today… I stood there looking at all those little cards and clever little pamphlets showing perfectly painted rooms (no purple in sight) and all I could see was that Lurid, Eye-bruising, Artist Formerly Known As, not-found-anywhere-in-nature, purple.

I finally had to leave and ask my saint of a mother to go request a color. I felt Jinxed. I felt Cursed. I felt that if I looked one more time into the clearly-plotting-some-kind-of-purple-colored-revenge eyes of that Wicked Paint Mixer, I would blurt out “PURPLE!” and get another can of you-know-what.

So I’m still learning this…

Letting go completely, so you can focus your entire heart in a positive way on the intention ahead of you. That might be a lifelong master class! (I wonder who teaches it? I hope it’s Morgan Freeman.)

Letting go of that job that is wonderful, but isn’t your genius work or dream and is using up time that you need in order to do your Real Work-

Letting go of that friend whom you love, but who is dragging you down –

Letting go does not require disapproving, disliking, disengaging, or dysfunction. It can be done with love, and it can be a compassionate and very kind thing to do. Sometimes it can be a blessing for the ones you let go, too – it can be a springboard for them to find where and with whom they fit- now that there is not space and time filled up by trying, trying, trying to mesh with you.

Barney Purple, I don’t care how many times it takes, I’m replacing you with a restful, warm, elegant parchment-ish color. It’s not that I don’t think you’re great, in areas where you are appropriate (like the big huge costume of a dinosaur character for kids)  – I do. It’s not that you don’t bring back a wonderful memory – you do,

but your persistence , your insistence at being in my house and on my wall is puzzling in the extreme. Please, go tell Kafka I’m hiring another writer to conduct my life…

07-3wodehouse_full_600

his name is P.G. Wodehouse, and he has a much more restful color sense. (pay no attention to that lurid dinosaur purple cover. I am quite sure Plum did not choose it.)