Hope Served

Standard

It has been an incredibly difficult several months filled with some ups and many downs. Yesterday I was in a dark place, feeling quite hopeless, as if I were in the middle of this murky lake just trying to keep my head above water, and my swimming skills are atrocious at best add to that life going on ashore with no regard for my struggle.  The weight of some understandings are difficult to bear; life does knock you around pretty hard sometimes.

While I am very insecure with my instability right now, I have some realities that are quite clear.  The most painful of those is that I have lost one of my best friends, someone who understood so very much, who added a unique perspective, and always shared my skewed sense of humor. I am afraid they are gone from my life forever and that adds a sadness that is beyond words. I am most afraid of being without my job, it is the same career I have had for over two decades and has become somewhat part of my identity, add to that the trigger of financial instability and I have been a bit of an emotional disaster. I think my disappointment in humanity, dealing with my own challenges, and the random acts of discord has pushed my faith beyond its limits; I have felt pretty isolated, somewhat cast aside.

Sometimes those reassurances arrive at the most opportune times, just when you need a smidgen of hope to restore your strength it comes served up on the best china. Last night I had an event at the studio which was very important to me, it was to highlight an organization that supports survivors of domestic abuse and I was saddened by the fact that no one was going to be there for support. It is funny the people who surprise you in those moments, I have a gratitude for them which I am unsure how to express. This morning a friend of many years texted she was running by to drop off something; to which she arrived with hugs, a wonderful dessert, and gift card all bundled beautifully with wonderful note including words of encouragement which although made me cry but gave me a bit more hope and strength to continue. Now as I am sitting here in the afternoon sun writing, my cross-eyed stray cat came wandering out of the woods. He has filtered around in my life for the past few years, at first quite skittish but has grown accustomed to the sound of my voice. Although he still lacks the trust to allow me close enough to pet him, maybe one day. The cat has grown to remind me of many things over the time he has loitered and the lesson was not lost today.  I am grateful for the hope that has been given to me the past day, so I shall focus my gratitude and enjoy the sun in my life today.

“Sometimes the strongest women are the ones who love beyond all faults, cry behind closed doors, and fights battles that nobody knows about!”- D.C. quote in my card today

Kept in Confidence

Standard

I am a thinker, those very few people close to me know I try to understand everything I come in contact with.  My therapist actually told me that not everyone thinks about life at the depth I do, so try not to expect people to understand it at that depth. So this weekend afforded my time to analyze my life, where I came from, what I went through, the people that are in my life, those who may weather the storm and those who are deciding to leave me at this point of my journey. I think it was a time for me to consider the gifts I have had and regrets I carry since the point my life began again.

Throughout the night my thoughts kept drifting back to what I have shared; having spent my entire life trying to hide the pain through the past few years I opened up and parceled out my past. Although I am a deeply private person having only mentioned a tiny portion to a few people, that shallow acknowledgement, I kept my stories buried deeply until a few came into my life, people who had some shared experiences, who understood the pain, who listened without judgement, and never pried for my details. Unconditional acceptance and lack of criticism did allow me to assess my past and its impact on my present; how it limits my trust, how it restricts my ability to be vulnerable, and my fear of certain closeness.I opened up and apportioned my past with the trust that it would be kept in confidence. Now I am working to collect those pieces, place those stories back into their makeshift tomb.

So as I retreat, how do I secure my stories I cannot collect? How do I approach the topic of privacy? I do not want my secrets shared in a fashion that can undermine my struggle or be used as a means to minimize me for I have spent a lifetime negated. Is this just a concern based in my struggle to trust; the time I did will it be validated or dismissed? I know when one shares their story, their struggle, their past,  I treat it with the utmost respect for I was trusted enough for one to disclose. I would never share the story, never violate the trust by besmirching their truth, in a light that be disparaging, as a means to justify my behavior or choices?  This is quite possibly a fear based in my experiences with people for I have seen this done to others, been a victim, stories used to displace accountability, vilified for no reason.  How does one even broach the topic?

“Confidentiality is a virtue of the loyal, as loyalty is the virtue of faithfulness” -Edwin Louis Cole

Lost in Translation

Standard

At times I detest text messages and although I am not a fan of talking on the phone so much more gets lost in translation with a text. Think of the difference between a conversation over a cup of coffee and over messenger.  I wrote a message the other day, when I was in pain and struggling and my pain was interpreted as anger. So here in lies some of life’s challenges. As I wrote this, I am learning to advocate for myself, trying to be honest with someone I trust about my feelings. I struggled to ensure I was clear and honest with full disclosure.  In learning to advocate for myself, to speak my voice, I did not consider the past of the recipient. They have known a past of anger and hostility in those close relationships so irrelevant of my wording the interpretation was into their framework. For this I carry regret.

This coupled with another conversation with a different friend about me not being angry with my present situation has really started the gears turning. Anger is an emotion I work to control. Having experienced the damage anger can inflict, I choose to identify the root of my emotion and work to respond as opposed to react in anger.I believe anger is truly a misunderstood emotion such as frustration, disappointment, or being overwhelmed. If I can take the time to identify the reason I am beginning to feel anger, I  can identify the cause and strive to mitigate the issue, identify my culpability in the situation  and take the appropriate action; explain, apologize, etc.  While anger is a natural emotional response to some conditions, it is rarely the real emotion underlying the situation and is never beneficial.  Maybe this is a skill I have learned from a bad situation, something positive from a long list of negatives.

 

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”  ― George Bernard Shaw

Crisis of Faith

Standard

I am felling the weight of my brokenness much more than normal as of late. I don’t know how else to describe it. I feel like all the piece of me I have fought so long to keep up with are becoming too difficult to carry, some of them are jagged and painful and keep gouging me…

I believe we are all broken, we all have some crack or ding, some scar. Maybe we caused the damage ourselves, maybe it is something we have been carrying since childhood, maybe it was caused by someone else and quite possibly there are many of them. Sometimes I think that is where our beauty grows from the courage to continue in our brokenness. I often wonder if that is the source of our empathy and compassion. I believe our imperfection is what makes us impeccably suitable for life, for one another; from our damage we can heal, from our mistakes we can learn, and from shortcomings we can grow.

So why do we fight so hard to keep our brokenness concealed, why do we chose to not embrace our vulnerability but strive to hide our struggles? In my heart and soul I believe you are the exact right person in this moment, you are who you need to be for the purpose of now, you are who you were intended to be. So why am I struggling with that belief? Why this crisis of faith?

“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.” –Ernest Hemingway

The Dreaded Bonk and the Ladybug

Standard

So I have hit my wall but in this case it is in this torturous mental marathon. I have an enormous life changing deadline looming out there in just under 72 hours and been pushing myself pretty hard to meet it; to succeed but that little voice keeps telling me to quit. It is as if my mind have seize, cramped from over exertion. I took a walk, no improvement; I had a cup of coffee, still just as tired; so I decided to peruse facebook, a mindless activity. As I scrolled through my timeline I once again saw the same picture filled with “words of wisdom” this is the fourth or fifth time it has cycled through my news feed. It has also been topics of conversation so much so that I blogged about it last week. The quote said, “One of the hardest decisions you’ll ever face in life is choosing to walk away or try harder”.  I reposted it with a snark about not missing the message but this is so true. I feel like I am facing a few difficult decisions in my life at the moment, all related to perseverance or patience. As I was trying to focus my thoughts, to gain some clarity while looking out my office window a ladybug lit on my window, walking in a unique pattern but continually in my sight line. I had a visit from one a few weeks ago as I was again allowing my thoughts to wonder to this topic.  Both visits reminded me of a very tearful day in June where I was so scared, trying to decide what to do in a difficult situation and one landed on my hand. I almost didn’t notice her at first through my tears. Watching he crawl along my hand I found such peace and clarity, knew exactly what the right choice was; maybe she arrived today for a bit more inspiration with a touch of clarity. Maybe I shall continue to try….

 

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.” ― Mary Anne Radmacher

 

The Hopeless  Well

Standard

What happens when your well runs dry? I am exhausted not because I am not really sleeping consistently but at my core. I have nothing left to give. I keep hearing the lyrics, “Slipping in my faith until I fall”. Well I have fallen and I am unsure I even have the ability to pick myself up again, not even sure I want to.

Being strong is a blessing and a curse add to that the foundation of empathy and compassion.  I try to be there for others because I know the pain of having no one, That pain can be confounded when you are surrounded by people you cannot let in. For years I thought I could not allow others in because they would know my secret, see my personal disaster, keeping everyone at arms length required effort for a bit. I have three friends that have been around for decades and they really didn’t even know my life. I have come to understand from the other side of this that we only know people as well as they want us to. For their own personal reasons some I too still face, issues with trust and intimacy, their own private struggles, fear of judgement; people only let us in as much as they choose to share. I understand the pain of living with this isolation, I did that for too long in my life.

That is why I always try to be there for others because I know the pain of being alone.  Being strong means I have navigated most of my life with independence, asking nothing of others. Being strong means people seldom ask how you are doing or if you need anything, seldom ask if you are alright. In times of strife I have found it helps me persevere by focusing on others, humility, empathy and compassion have been my best support in struggles.  The most precious of gifts are time, energy, and empathy yet what happens when those are gone, replaced with weariness and emotional fatigue?

It feels as if my well has run dry, there is nothing left to offer the world. I am consumed as of late with anxiety, worry and tears.  I have given up things, my workload is essentially removed, I left my PhD program, I have reverted to bare bones and simplicity but I am still unable to refill my reserves. I am tired of fighting to stand upright. I used to believe I am a tough old cat, I will always land on my feet yet I an no longer sure. Maybe it is not that I cannot pick myself up, maybe it is time to give in. Maybe it is time to not pick myself up. Maybe it is time to stop working so hard for my life; it is time to lay down my armor and walk away from such a long battle. .

“In reality, hope is the worst of all evils, because it prolongs the torments of man.” -NIETZSCHE

Holding Space

Standard

I have found myself facing the same challenge multiple times this spring, I am dealing with things that I issues or challenges with others, things I cannot fix.  I have a friend suffering from depression, another who is facing struggles with her husband, my sister is moving and needs an ear to listen as she navigates and my brother has decided to leave his wife. Irrelevant of my want to help, I can only offer an ear, listen with an open heart, stand beside them in their struggles without judgement; I can only sit in solidarity and support with kindness and compassion for there is nothing else that can be done. It is difficult to set aside your own pain and confusion to care for someone in this way, it is challenging to not look for a solution for them. It reminds me of the first time my eldest child was hurt, despite all my desire I could only offer comfort for the pain remained.   I find myself again growing, while it is a continual process this time I find myself learning to hold space.

I come across the term from time to time, I think I first encountered it when reading about grieving and compassion.  I initially has this vague idea of what it meant. It varies based upon the circumstance and can include holding someone in tears, a hug of encouragement, listening, sitting in silence,  or giving them time alone while trusting them to reach out when in need. I understood the fact that it was unconditional acceptance of the person’s struggle, allowing them to traverse their journey being by their side but struggled with what that looked like, how to let someone struggle when I could see a potential outcome. How do you stand by and see someone in pain, how do you fight the urge to envelope them in your arms offering assurance that the sun will shine again, that it will be alright at some point? How do we make room in our hearts to witness the pain of another while not attempting to problem solve?

Holding space for someone is essentially opening your heart, offering unconditional support while letting go of your judgement and control.  Being willing to join someone on their journey standing beside them and allowing the situation to unfold, empowering them to find the courage and strength to traverse the pain. For those in our inner most circle, those closely held in our heart it can be difficult. We never want to see those we love in pain so allowing a situation to unfold without fueling the emotional portion can be difficult if we cannot let go of ourselves in the situation. Here is lies my shortcomings.

I have had to set aside my pain and fear so to not impact another which I am learning to do. I struggle the most with not trying to find a remedy. I owe a few apologies for trying to find a resolution and not sit with them in their moment. I am learning to make space for their pain and struggle then to step back and hold space for myself too. For it is essential that I can deal with my feelings and emotions without impacting then nor should I deny my own pain and struggles. I spent a lifetime tucking my emotions away for fear of reprisal, maybe this is part of my lesson too; be kind to yourself per say.

At times in life we will all need someone to hold space for us, to allow us to be vulnerable and weak without fear of reprisal, to wrap us in the blanket of compassion and kindness, to offer unconditional love without judgement.  It is not always easy because we all tend to struggle with our own human needs, for myself I have endless patience and compassion but tend to want to fix things. I understand where my need to mend and restore lies and am working diligently to overcome it.  I understand that trying to fix certain situations can render people powerless and it is best to sit with them in their pain.  I cannot hold space at the same time I am expending energy to rectify another’s pain. There are other times there is absolutely nothing in my power to do. Having learned this while sitting with a family in the depths of grief for losing their mother it is a lesson I carry in my heart.

Irrelevant of how hard I wish I cannot remove the struggle or alleviate the pain; I must learn to be present in the moment as opposed to focusing on problem solving.  Although I always offer unconditional love and respect without judgement, I am striving to master the art of holding space. I want to be able to let those in my heart know they do not need to walk alone, to offer them solid ground so they feel stable enough to be exactly where they are in the moment, to offer the empathy and understanding so they have the courage to bear the pain or the strength to process what they are facing, to trust in their choices and to walk with them until they arrive at their own outcome.

“When your fear touches someone’s pain, it becomes pity, when your love touches someone’s pain, it become compassion.”      ― Stephen Levine