Growth – a poem

A false sense of safety fills me as I peek out from the walls of my imaginary box.

For now, I will lay down in the corner of this space and wrap myself up in my warm comfort blanket.

Then, comes the time, that I will step forth out into the infinite unknown.

My breath will be taken for a minute, for my lungs only know expansion through a well defined space.

The familiar will become foreign and all sense of knowing will dissolve.

I will turn inward, then, to search for answers.

My heart will flutter as it scurries to make sense of what is happening.

I will try to crawl back into my box, but it will not fit and the sight of it will make me sick.

The feel of its cramped walls will make me scream as if it is suffocating me.

I will look around at everyone else in their boxes and feelings of envy will wash through me.

Look at how comfortable they are, sleeping so soundly.

Can I crawl in with you for a minute? Can I escape my new sense of uncertainty?

It feels good for a moment to have an escape and I welcome it.

But, as time passes, I recognize this is not my space, and I must leave in search of my own.

I hang on to something inside of me, a voice, a knowing that has always been there.

I hang on to the sound of unbridled childhood laughter.

I hang on to the sound of the ocean and the vantage point at the top of my favorite mountain.

I hang on to the wisdom of the great elephant and of my dream of the rhythmic river.

I hang on.

I hang on to cherish the mystery and to dance with the unknown.

I ask if the great mystery can be my new home.

I step out into widest deepest parts of myself and I take a deep breath.

I just keep breathing.

Reflection on the discussion of the “ego.”

Lately, much discussion has centered around letting go of the “ego” etc. I have been pondering this lately and asking what does this really mean and is it good? I know in my life when I am making a decision I sometimes ask myself am I making this decision from a heart-centered place or an ego place? What do I mean by this? For example, would going to school for another degree fulfill me in any way? Am I trying to get another degree so that I feel good about myself or so that society can view my title and think I am more accomplished? This would be that type of question. The answer is I love school, I love learning, but yes having a certain title sometimes feels good and yes society loves titles. Do I NEED to go to school to learn? Do I NEED a title to have knowledge? No, not at this time and not about what I want to learn about. If I was going to learn surgery, sure maybe I would need a specialized skill.

So, the answer to this is not as easy as it may appear and in addition, it is based on mixed sentiment.

I think instead of the ego, I would like to call it belief systems. Belief systems can either stand in our way at certain times, or help us. I think it is a mistake to say the ego is bad or judge it in this way.

Why do I think this? I think this is because usually it is trying to protect us. An example is, I have fear surrounding certain things in my life. These fears have limited me in different ways. However, to say they are false beliefs also isn’t exactly true either. They were or are true for me at some point in my life, and served that purpose to keep me safe. Did they keep me safe? Maybe, Maybe not. Do I still need to hold on to them to reach new areas of achievement in my life? No. No I really do not need them.

Thanking these beliefs for being there is an interesting experience. I recently read an article and one of the things it mentioned was to thank the negative emotion for being there, for trying to protect you. So, I did this. What I felt inside was interesting. Instead of the usual sense of resistance towards emotions where I get mad and say, “uggghhhh I wish I did not have that fear.” I thought, “o, it was a defense mechanism.” The resistance went down a little bit. Is my fear totally gone? No, but my understanding of it is completely transformed. In a sense, it is like during relaxation exercise where I am imagining being by the ocean and the day’s list of “to-dos” comes into my mind, I accept that it is there, say hello, and allow it to pass. The more I focus on being annoyed or try to not think about the to-do list, the more I think about it.

Acceptance-This word/this theme comes again and again. What is it about acceptance that is so powerful? It is not giving in and saying, “I don’t care.” Instead, no it is taking a step back noticing and integrating that thought. It is like the river that finds a new way to flow around the rock.

So, I wonder, what is the point of fighting with “the ego”. What is the point of fighting our negative beliefs and emotions? What if we turn and face them and look at them. What if we thank them for trying to protect us? Will they transform us?

Just some thoughts…

Feedback is always appreciated 🙂

On Forgiveness…

To forgive, forgiveness….What thought’s come to mind when you think about forgiveness? For most of my life people have told me that I am too hard on myself, and perhaps they are right. What I have come to understand is that in some ways this has been a defense mechanism. If I am hard on myself, no one else will have to be. If I am hard on myself I am somehow controlling my environment so maybe things seem a little less out of control or “unknown.” During my program for binge eating disorder, I did a lot of work around forgiving myself for things. I wracked my brain, “why was it so hard for me to extend myself the self-compassionate gesture and say, “I forgive you self for not being perfect, for being human?” Why can I forgive almost anyone around me, but not myself? Again, perhaps the defense mechanism comes into play, but I also started to think about our society. We live in a very critical society. Even looking at the tabloids or the news, one comment someone says is taken out of context and bam they are soon the center of storm of hateful comments. People seem to want punishment. People seem to want to make people pay. I often wonder where the compassion is in these stories. Where is the human emotion of empathy? Sure, some things people do are horrendous and people shouldn’t just walk around without any consequences. But, that’s not what I am talking about here. When we judge people so harshly, especially without knowing the facts or a person’s true heart, it does something to us as human beings. I think it hardens us in a way.

So, enough blaming society…why else is self-forgiveness so freaking hard? Well, I can really only speak for myself. First of all, I had to take a look at myself and say, did I really do anything wrong? Sometimes I was blaming myself for things I had nothing to do with in reality, or I was feeling like I had to fly around with a cape on saving everyone. Sometimes, I did have to admit ok, yes maybe I could have done this differently etc. For example, I remember learning from someone, that comments I had made hurt their feelings and made them actually very upset. Learning this and admitting that I had caused someone sadness tore through me. I thought, “how could I have done something like this?” I beat myself up for that for a very long time. That is despite apologizing and learning new ways of communicating. Harboring those feelings towards myself in the long run really would not have helped my friend any, because most likely she had already moved on. Ahhh admitting life, and me, are not always perfect was hard for me. It meant admitting I was vulnerable and that people are vulnerable. This meant admitting that the world is not always a place of fairy tales and roses and days gone by. It meant admitting sometimes, things go wrong. Of course, I know all of this rationally. The imperfection of the world and myself are things that not only am I aware of, but are also realities that can be a bit scary, because again it means being vulnerable. I think my subconscious thought pattern went something like this:  if I allow myself to be imperfect, it means being seen, being seen means being vulnerable, and being vulnerable means the possibility of getting hurt, getting hurt means experiencing painful emotions…and you get the picture.

 

Grief: When I began to take an honest look at myself and really accept the emotions I was experiencing, a strange wave of something passed over me. What was this feeling? I began to ponder it, and then I figured it out. I was sitting with my emotions and allowing myself to offer me some forgiveness, when I felt some sadness. It was not just any sadness, but I began to recognize that I was actually grieving something. I had stopped using food to numb my emotions and things were coming up. I was grieving the fairy tale world where everything was “perfect”. I was grieving my childhood ideals that life is always sunshine and daisies, that everyone is always happy, and that nothing bad ever happens. Again, I knew all of this rationally, but I guess maybe I just didn’t want to accept it. I guess, I was actually growing up a bit. Soon enough, this feeling of grief passed,  and I was able to find a new feeling in its place: a sense of accomplishment, growth and resiliency. I knew I could face myself and accept my imperfections, and more importantly, I could grow and learn from them. As I write about this now, it is easier to look back on this and paint it as events happening sequentially. But, it wasn’t and still isn’t like that. Some days, I am more willing to accept imperfection than others. Some days, I am more willing to offer myself self-compassion. Some days, I still get mad at myself and set unrealistic expectations. These skills are still very new for me and I can honestly say this journey is a continually adapting process. But, I would not have it any other way. Allowing space for self-exploration and kindness has significantly changed my life. Although it has been painful at times, it has also been beautiful and rewarding. Maybe perfect isn’t wrapped up in pretty little bows or presents under the tree on christmas morning. Maybe perfect is about staring life in the face and saying, “I see you and I see me and we are in this thing together.” Perfect is all of the little beautiful imperfections dancing in harmony creating our authentically constructed reality. Perfect isn’t about avoiding “the difficult” or pretending the mud doesn’t exist. My perfect now is facing the difficult and taking the mud and building a mud fort and staking my claim in this world. There is nothing really that exciting about perfect anyways. 

Yes, it is 3 am. Yes, I had double espresso at 6pm. This is something I never do, and will abstain from in the future as a rule, I require a lot of sleep. Thanks for reading. 

I fought the urge to weigh myself today, and won.

I fought the urge to weigh myself today, and won.

There have been times in my life, that I have weighed myself many many times in a day. There have been times in my life, when the number on the scale has shaped my mood for the rest of the day. During these times, I have been robbed of full authentic living. I have been robbed of fully embracing my day and my experiences because that number plays on repeat in my brain. Weight fluctuates greatly throughout the day. Weight loss and gain can be any number of things. But despite knowing this fact, I still so often clung to that number as if it was all I had. Now, I am at a place in my life where I have to consciously chose not to obsessively weigh myself. I am doing so many self-care activities and I feel really good about them. I may however, weigh myself once in a while, just to see where I am at. I had an instant last week, where I did weigh myself, and I noticed it changed my mood slightly for that day. I will not claim to be free of all worry surrounding weight, since I am on a journey. However, often making the choice not to weigh myself, means I avoid exposing myself to the possibility of negative self talk that I work so hard to avoid. Maybe, one day, I will be able to see a number on a scale and have no feelings about it, but that is not now. That is not where I am at yet. I have made tremendous progress towards this goal, but I am still strengthening my mental muscles of self acceptance and love. It is different now, however. I might experience certain judgmental thoughts, but now I have a whole arsenal of loving, kind, and productive thoughts to replace the negative degrading ones. I really want to give myself the best shot I can at this thing. Today, I feel pretty great about myself and I’m going to do everything I can to support these positive feelings!

Dear Avoidance, I Bought you Flowers.

Avoidance: A Theme a Trigger

Avoidance: A Theme a Trigger

Dear Avoidance,

I bought you flowers today. First, I bought them for myself to lighten up my house. Then, I thought of you and how I have used you for so long, and how you have done your best to help me. Thank you avoidance, for some things have seemed far too challenging to deal with. Avoidance. I feel you sneaking up when confrontation seems too hard or when I am afraid of failing myself or others. I see you there ready to help me, when I want to hide myself from the world so that they do not know the pain I am in. However, look avoidance, the more I have used you, the less I have been able to rely on myself. The less I have been able to handle rejection or disappointment or real feelings. Don’t get me wrong, I do not always seek you out. For, I know I do not always need you. Sometimes my own strengths and abilities overwhelm me and I cannot believe what I am truly capable of. But today avoidance, I did not use you. I did not seek you out. I stood in the face of discomfort and said “bring it on”. Bring on whatever may come. For this all is just a part of life, as is avoidance. But, today I bought you flowers as a thank you ,but also as a way to say, “I might not need you as much as I thought I did and that you will be seeing less of me.”

Yours Truly,

ED