Monday, November 26, 2007

Post Thanksgiving

As I think about this year’s Thanksgiving, I’m struck by how much has changed for me. I found myself thinking about the steps it took to get to this point in my life and how scary those steps were to take. Each one seemed terrifying at the time. But each one led to greater things than I could have imagined. Ten, fifteen years ago, I couldn’t have imagined my life looking the way it does now or feeling the way I feel now. I sure as heck couldn’t have seen any possible way to get to this point.

And that’s encouraging. When I look at current challenges in my life, I can remind myself how far I’ve come and that I will find a way to deal with these challenges and that the outcomes are likely to be better than anything I could imagine.

Oh, I still have moments of panic, but they don’t last long these days. And I see more to be happy about than not.

One of the turning points, I think, has been going from seeing myself as a victim of the actions and needs of others and of fate/circumstance/etc. to someone who chooses how to live her life. It was going from feeling helpless to seeing myself as always having choices and ultimate responsibility for my life. Once I could believe that I could manage all on my own, possibilities became visible that I literally hadn’t seen before.

And that’s why the abusers in my life worked so hard to make me believe I was crazy and/or wouldn’t ever be able to manage on my own. Because on some level they knew that once I realized these things were a lie, they would have no more hold over me. I might tell—and others might believe me. I might leave.

When we understand that we can be happy on our own. When we understand that if we lose one person in our life we can find others to take that person’s place. Then we are no longer hostage to anyone—intentionally abusive or not. Then we can set boundaries. We can walk away from situations and people that are harmful to our physical and/or emotional health. We will see ways to create the lives we want to have. Maybe, in some cases, we can rewrite relationships so that we DON’T lose the person in our life who is important to us.

Dr. Phil likes to say that we (adults) teach people how to treat us. We teach them whether we will stand up for ourselves or whether we will do anything to hold onto them. We teach them whether we will tolerate their abuse and/or crazy ideas or whether we will say “no” and leave if it doesn’t stop. We teach people whether we believe we should be treated with kindness and respect or whether we think those are things we don’t deserve.

We get to choose. And as scary as that can sometimes be, it’s good, too. It’s the most empowering thing in the world to discover that we can change how things are by changing the choices we make and how we see the world and people around us. When we go from seeing ourselves as victims to seeing ourselves as incredibly strong and resilient and resourceful individuals—which we were to survive the abuse—then we open up whole new possibilities for ourselves.

How will you see yourself differently this week? What changes will that create in your life?

Sending blessings and safe and gentle ((((((((hugs))))))),

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Gratitude and Survivors

I was going to write a traditional post about being thankful. I may still get around to it but...

Recently I spoke with my ex-husband and it reminded me of one of the things I do worry about with gratitude. If one only looks at the rosy side of a situation, one may not recognize things that need to change and/or leave a situation that isn’t healthy. I know that I stayed too long in my marriage hoping and telling myself I could find a way to fix it. There are occasional moments, even now, when I wonder if anything could have been done so that it could have worked out. (And then I get calls like the latest one from my ex-husband and I’m profoundly grateful again that I’m not still stuck in that situation anymore and dealing with chaos and emotional blackmail on a daily basis.)

I think it’s good to count our blessings. I think that if a relationship is in trouble, the only chance it has to work out is to begin by recognizing what’s good about it. I also worry sometimes that we survivors can be too loyal sometimes. We may stay in a situation or relationship even when it’s hurting us physically and/or emotionally and can’t be fixed.

My ex isn’t a bad person. There’s much to admire about him, especially in terms of the kind of person he wants to be. That doesn’t mean there isn’t distorted thinking, however. That doesn’t mean he sees himself or anyone else clearly. That doesn’t mean he was right for me.

So I’m torn when it comes to gratitude. All sorts of studies show the benefits of being able to see and cherish the good in one’s life. At the very least it helps us recognize that we can have good things in our lives, that it isn’t always all bad.

At the same time, I don’t want it to blind us to the need to make changes sometimes if we want our lives to get better. Discontent can sometimes be a gift.

So this week I’ve been grappling with the issue of how to balance profound gratitude for all that is good in my life and still seeing ways I might want to make it better. I’m grappling with how self-acceptance is the precursor to self-change. I’m grappling with the joy of all the good things I now have in my life and needing to make changes if I want to have more. I’ve even signed up for a 21 days to gratitude (free) program at this website: 21 Days of Gratitude

I’ll be curious to know how all of you feel about gratitude.

Sending blessings and safe and gentle (((((((hugs)))))))),

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


I’ve been doing a lot of coaching lately and it’s reminded me that no matter who I’m coaching about what kind of writing, what matters is the other person’s voice, the other person’s story.

My job isn’t to tell someone how I would write it better, it’s to help the other person see a way to write the best way they can,the particular story THEY have to tell, with their strongest, most unique voice.

And I find myself thinking how important it is that we each find our own voices. That we each find a way to say the things we need to say—whether to others or to ourselves.

I find myself thinking of my friend who stood up to her brother, the first time anyone in her family has. And I know that even though her siblings and her mother have turned on her, the nieces and nephews in that family are watching and seeing that it’s possible to say: No! This isn’t right! And they are seeing that it’s possible to take action.

We are shaped by what we say and what we hear, by the pictures we paint and the ones we see, by the things we feel or cause others to feel, by the ideas we think and when we help others to think in new ways. We shape ourselves and have a chance to shape the world in which we live by finding our “voices”—whether those voices are actual voices or written or painted or shaped into physical objects.

When the internet was first created people said it would isolate individuals, divide us, and stifle us. Instead, the internet has helped so many of us find new friends all around the world, create or join communities of people who share our ideas or passions or talents or joy or pain. It has given many of us access to resources we might otherwise never have known about. Sometimes it has given some of us the courage to make changes in our lives.

I believe in the power of voices. I believe in the power of one person to create profound change in the world. I believe with Marianne Williamson that we are not meant to hide our light under a bushel but rather to let it shine for all the world to see.

Here’s hoping that each of you finds or has found and celebrates YOUR unique voice. Sending blessings and safe and gentle (((((((hugs))))))),

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

New Experiences

You may (or may not) be wondering why I haven’t posted in a while. I’ve been having a series of new experiences over the past week. Good experiences, for the most part, but definitely pulling me out of my comfort zone.

This is a good thing. And it’s been extremely uncomfortable at times. But the most interesting part of this, aside from the fact that I’ve gained useful experience, is that I’m finding myself thinking “out of the box” in areas completely unrelated to what I’ve been doing.

This is the advantage of doing things we’re not comfortable doing. Our comfort zone expands and we create new possibilities for ourselves in ways we can’t even predict.

Here’s hoping all of you have some lovely new experiences this week. I’ve to run because my daughter is coming over for assistance with some essays she needs to write.

Sending blessings and safe and gentle ((((((hugs))))))),