More on Forgiveness: When We’re Our Own Worst Enemy

Forgiveness. This is not an easy topic. And if you’re anything like I am, nothing gets past your ruthlessly critical eye. Especially your own doings. This has been the case for me for a very long time. Something I’m just now learning to tamp down. But it took some doing to even recognize how unforgiving I was. Also, how the people I chose to surround myself with shared my sense of self righteousness. I cringe a little, thinking back on how I was acting with those around me following suit.

But things have changed for me for sure. I’ve given up many of the old beliefs that were holding me back. I’m no longer the “score keeper” I once was and I’m more willing now to let things go. But if we’re being honest, that was never my intention. My goal was to be kinder, not as mean or petty as I once was. But there in lies the catch. In trying to whip myself into shape, to be kinder, more forgiving, I was unwilling to forgive myself for the ways I was behaving. So I needed to learn to extend a little of that forgiveness inward, before I could be kind and forgiving outwardly.

Forgiveness Starts with Yourself

This is so rote, so cliché that it should be a no brainer. But I feel as though each family, or person has to learn this anew each generation. I know from my experience that forgiveness was something that was held just out of reach from me by my family. And to be fair, I don’t know that any of us felt as though we were even worthy of being forgiven. We carried with us such an air of feeling as though we weren’t enough, no matter what we were doing, that it just didn’t register that we could be forgiven.

Knowing What Forgiveness Feels Like

So instead of trying to practice a little forgiveness, we chose to cover over our unworthy feeling selves. We did this with our holier than thou attitudes. This however, did little in the way of making us feel better about ourselves.

As a result, we all had very low self esteem. We were lonely as well. Mostly because we were pushing everybody away but, also due to us feeling as though we were the only ones feeling that we didn’t deserve forgiveness or kindness. We were trying to be perfect to avoid the critical judgements of each other, while holding everyone to the impossible standards we had created for ourselves. This was a dangerous combination.

The result? Not to my complete lack of surprise, we didn’t know what forgiveness felt like. We were so busy holding it back from each other, that we held it back from ourselves a well. And in the process, forgotten what it had felt like. However there was, for me, a lot of free floating anxiety and fear. Mostly of not feeling accepted by others. Or feeling loved and belonging. Like I said, it was lonely.

Holding Back

What’s so strange about this experience was, that I could actually feel myself unwilling to let go. I could feel myself withholding love and forgiveness from myself. It feels like when you see a small child throwing a tantrum because they are told to stop doing something against their will. And that’s what made this feeling so difficult to manage. Because there was also a feeling of contempt for the part of me that was withholding forgiveness.

The part that I feel should have known better. The part that should know that I’m only hurting myself. But then how should I have known if it was the only way I knew how to relate to my ability to forgive? I wasn’t taught another way. So I continued to hold back my ability to forgive myself.

Realizing Something is Off

It wasn’t until very recently that I put the pieces together of what I was doing and the effect it was having on me. I noticed when I was speaking to someone about how unreasonable my standards are and how I didn’t want to go back to my old ways of being. Then she said something to me that made me physically feel well, cared for. She asked me, “have you forgiven yourself for the ways you used to be?”

The answer to that question was most definitely a NO. And to be asked that, to directly recognize that I was treating myself as unforgivable, a criminal, was eye opening. A feeling of being relaxed, full, washed over me from head to toe. As though I had been waiting for a person to ask me just that for a very long time.

And finally, I turned my attention to that place. The place that had been treated as though it were volatile. But I couldn’t have done this all at once and without a little prep work. The years of self-care I have been practicing, paved the road for me to be comfortable enough to open up as I did.

Listening to Ourselves & Taking Good Care

Here was where I was able to listen to myself with a different kind of focus. I had been listening inwardly for a while now as part of my self-care routine. But now I’m able to differentiate between the parts of me that need my attention. Now I’m able to respond with more patience and know what I need.

Now I know that the part of me that was holding back was doing so because my love and forgiveness have been so abused in the past. I am scared to be open and loving enough, to forgive. Because then I’ll be wide open to the ruthless critical judgements I’ve been so used to from the past. Including from myself.

The feelings of being turned on by those who are supposed to love me. Supposed to be there for me and show me care. I could be left again, as I had been so many times in the past.

Reparenting Our Wounded Parts

And it’s here where the work really begins. We need to guide those parts of us we had trained to turn their backs on us and others to show forgiveness and love again. Even in the face of inevitable pain. Our wounds will be opened again. That’s an unavoidable part of life. But it shouldn’t stop us from living and loving fully. This is the part I keep getting stuck on. And I’m sure I’m not alone.

It feels crazy to open up again after so much abuse. Abuse of trust mostly. And of not being able to rely on others to take care of us when we’re at our lowest. But it’s a part of being connected. For me, I had to open up slowly. I was so confused as to what trust and love meant, that I was guarded all the time. Not knowing when the other would finally turn on me. Because in my experience, it was a matter of when, not if.

So I started small. Really small. After I set up a safe and cozy place that I could use as a retreat, I started venturing out into what had been historically unsafe territory.

Sitting With Those Who Hurt Me

I moved in with my father after my last relationship ended. It was the best thing that could have happened for me at the time. I needed the time and space to put my life back together after the mess I had made of it. It was pretty bad. I alienated almost all of my friends, wound up about 115k in debt, with no plans for my future and no idea how to move myself forward in life. I was a drift.

But while I was licking my wounds, I was spending more time with those who had hurt and abandoned me in the past. I was spending time in physical proximity to them. Even if it was just watching T.V. together. For half hour increments, I was slowly getting used to the old feelings that were arising while just experiencing their nearness. And it was tough at times.

I remember dissociating a few times just sitting on the couch watching a show. This was how badly my trust and emotions had been abused. I felt unsafe in the safest possible environment. I’m in an affluent neighborhood, surrounded by (now) loving and caring parents, no concern for food or shelter, surrounded by a network of caring and loving support, financially stable and genuinely cared for. It couldn’t have been any safer for me.

But there were those parts of me that still remembered what the pain felt like. It was here that I needed to turn my listening ear towards.

Knowing When to Take Space for Yourself

And I needed to listen inwardly. I had no idea that there was an entire world inside of me that had gone unnoticed for as long as I can remember. Numbing it out with the drinking and the medication. The mean natured opinions I would dispense towards anybody who would listen. Anything I could use to quell my inner emotional world, I would use to numb.

So when I started practicing self-care, I begun to slowly learn that I could be kind enough to treat myself with respect. This was also a slow process and one that needed time and space apart from those around me. Because there’s a part of all of us, who wants to feel a part of something. Some belonging. But in the process of seeking that belonging externally, if we’re not strong enough in ourselves, we can drown out the inner voice that so desperately needs our caring and loving attention.

This is where taking space, along with practicing self-care, paid off. My safe and cozy place acted as a center for me to come home to. To feel at ease just being. The clean atmosphere, the ambient lighting and the refreshing scents, all coming together with gentle music playing, creating a sense of ease. Safety. It was here that I found a way to listen to myself. Slowly and with care.

Releasing the Expectations

This is also a place without expectations. A place where I can allow myself the space to explore what my needs are. To slow down and repair some of what has been damaged by the missteps of my past misguided self. A place to heal, and to quote a Peter Bjorn and John song, a place where “I am more me”.

Growing up I had nothing but expectation after expectation piled on top of me. First from my family but then by my peer group. It seemed a never ending stream of rules dispensed to hammer me into something that was acceptable to others. Not true to who I actually am.

And who I am is a sensitive man who feels deeply. I’m a hopeless romantic and lover of music that’s a little on the lighter side. I’ve been listening to Mree a lot lately. The antithesis of how I was raised to be “manly”. I do still appreciate some things from the past. But I wouldn’t say that they define me. And I feel that this is an important distinction to make.

Be More You

Because we all have a version of ourselves that is the truest form of ourself. I know I do. And I’m uncovering a little more of it everyday. It’s strange at times. Scary too. But there are also tender moments mixed in with crests of excitement. A journey worth the taking to be sure. But a journey that starts with letting ourselves be fully us and that starts with letting go of the past. Forgiving ourselves and moving forward.

So if you’ve been on the edge of letting go of the past, let this be your permission to let go. Forgive yourself and move on to the next challenge. There’s too many possibilities to explore that we won’t be able to if we’re dragging the past around with us. Don’t worry what others will think. They’ll come around or they won’t. What’s most important is, to be there for yourself. Peace : ) and thanks for reading.

Image Credits: “forgiveness” by cheerfulmonk is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Creating a Safe & Calm Place

I was reading a book a while ago. It was about reparenting and in one of the chapters, it suggested creating a safe space. A place where you can go in your mind to feel safe, at ease. I’ve done work like this before, but what I realized was, that I didn’t have one. Everywhere I went, I felt as though I had to preform, never make a mistake. Always be at my best, preforming or feeling as though I was a guest. There was never a feeling of fostering ease to any of the places I could feel relaxed in. So I decided to change that.

Creating a Safe, Calm & Cozy Space for Yourself

After reading the chapter in the book, I scanned my life for what seemed like the safest place to be. And to my surprise, it was my bedroom. I wondered why this was the case, as I’m not particularly fond of the room. But for me, it checks all the right boxes.

It’s cozy. I have a few well placed textiles and trinkets, lending it a sense of my personality. It’s well lighted, as in it has all the right ambient lighting I enjoy. A few candles, some Christmas string lights and a diffuser that also has a low light function. The aforementioned diffuser that has any number of my favorite scents diffusing. It’s clean, comfortable and not too crowded. AKA, jut right for relaxing.

The Elements of Cozy

So this is where I started. I went about creating the place that would bring me the feelings of comfort and safety. But first, I needed to define what this meant for me. When I first started out on my journey to cozy, my safe and calm place was a section of the A.T. on Mt Killington, VT. There was a shelter I stayed in that had stunning views draped in mists and vibrantly green ferns and moss. Here was definitely a high point in my hiking in and around New England.

Section of the A.T. on Mt. Killington VT

But all I have of this place is a photo I seldom look at. Though I’ve made some plans to have this photo printed and framed to keep in my new safe and cozy space, it isn’t something that I can easily call on or see myself in and a part of. Something I feel is an important part of feeling safe. And that’s where my planning began. How do I want my safe and cozy place to look. What are the elements of safe and cozy.

Elements of Safe & Cozy: Aesthetics

I appreciate good design and always have. Often I’ll find myself on Pinterest, picking out the the element of the house I someday want to build. I also spent a semester in architecture school pursuing design, when I thought that was a viable career path for myself. Design is something that has always been important to me. Especially with my surroundings.

So in my safe and cozy space, I want it to look a certain way. Inviting. A place that would make me feel more at ease just by virtue of being in and around it. To this end I’ve collected a few things that give it a sense of comfort for me. One example is of an afghan my grandmother knitted more than 30 years ago. It’s multi colored and comfy and made from “granny Squares”. Also my space is surrounded with small trinkets that brings me joy.

A skull painted with colorful chilies I picked up in Mexico. A mug with my first initial on it with a sphere of petrified wood resting on top. Pieces of driftwood I’ve collected and a jar of sea glass that was gifted to me. And some Tibetan prayer flags hang from my wall, making my space more me, more cozy.

Elements of Safe & Cozy: Plants

I also have a verity of green little friends that adorn my room. I started collecting jade plants about eight years ago and was inspired by a friend who had a jade plant that he was in awe of. You can propagate these plants fairly simply from cuttings and I was seeing a lot of jade plants in the places I would visit day to day. One at the library, one at an insurance agency I would walk by. So I started collecting clippings from them.

I also went in search of air purifying plants that I could bring into my environment that would give it a boost of fresh, purified air. Snake plants soon joined the party, aloes and ferns as well.

The plants in general have helped to keep my room a bit more humid. But due to the latest additions, my ferns, I’ve been running a humidifier on a low level to keep the environment more suited to my plants. This helps to keep the atmosphere a little more comfortable for humans as well. Especially in the winter months. It also helps to make the room feel more alive. Something lush and inviting. The way a greenhouse feels in the early spring; fresh and green.

Elements of Safe & Cozy: Lighting

As I’ve said above, lighting is something that is of particular importance to me. I’m not entirely sure what it is about a perfectly lighted room. It could be the soft way the light welcomes you to whatever task you are encapsulated in. Like sipping a cup of herbal tea by candle light. Or how a set of old Christmas string lights lend a sense of interest to something ordinary. Like the bright green chair and bamboo shelf that holds my ferns, all draped in a set of string lights.

Candles are something that have been important to me since I was in my early teens. They lend a softness to the room and have a timeless feel to them. I burn beeswax candles now due to their ability to clean the air of negatively charged ions. But the soft flickering light definitely invites an atmosphere of cozy and safe.

Also in the book on creating a safe space, they suggested watching a video of a fireplace online. I was skeptical at first, but decided to give it a go and was surprised at how relaxing it was. The sound of the crackling wood, mixed with the ambient flickering of the flames was calming. Cozy.

Elements of Safe & Cozy: Scent

This is another important aspect of my surroundings feeling safe and comfortable. I used to burn incense. A lot of incense. I started when I was in high school. Thinking back, living next to Salem MA, The Witch City, was a big influence in my incense burning ways. I also had a girlfriend in high school who loved burning Nag Champa and I used to wear a lot of patchouli oil as well. Dirty hippy, check.

I don’t burn incense so much anymore, but I do use an oil diffuser to create a relaxing atmosphere when I’m ready to wind down. I have a few favorite scents that I keep on hand. Geranium, citronella, lavender, jasmine… There are more to be sure, but these are on pretty heavy rotation. Being surrounded by a comforting scent is a kin to being emersed in a hot bath. And for me, sometimes leaves me just as refreshed.

There’s also something elemental about steeping your environment in a smell that brings you peace. For me, it’s like the feeling of smelling a campfire on your clothes. It’s a reminder that pops up when you’re not expecting it that lulls you into a sense of feeling at ease. A soothing surprise. Something I’m sure we could all use a bit more of.

Elements of Safe & Cozy: Victuals

For me, there are few things that bring up the atmosphere of cozy as a cup of herbal tea and a well cooked meal. Maybe a glass of lemonade : ) There’s something about the tea itself, where it comes from and how it’s processed that makes the experience not only soothing, by sipping the freshly brewed cup, but also interesting. An experience.

I often brew a cup of tea before bed and relax for a while before sleep. For example, a few days ago I brewed a cup of watermelon, lime, basil and cracked pepper tea. It tasted like a quiet summer evening and is quickly becoming one of my favorite teas.

Also I’ve come to enjoy a special self-care meal at the end of my week. It’s a way for me to show myself that, I’m taking care of my nutritional needs and I’m doing it by carefully selecting meals that I know I’ll enjoy. And the entire process is relaxing. From prepping and preparing the meal to when I partake. Usually surrounded by candles, my diffuser and the other elements, the word wellness is manifest for me.

Elements of Safe & Cozy: Cleanliness

And there’s one element that brings the entire package together for me. Clean surroundings. When I say clean, I mean free of dirt, but also clutter. Organized, but not so much so that it feels sterile. The plants and their earthiness helps to give the environment a sense of clean but naturally so. Balance.

Being organized for me is something that makes me feel at ease, but it’s not something that came easily. My family cleaned a lot when I was younger. We still do and are good at it. But in my twenties I had gotten to the point of not caring for myself or my environment. One of my first apartments was so bad that it had trash drifts!

But even when I was living in this environment, I still took pleasure on the days I would clean every aspect of that apartment. I’m sure my roommates appreciated it too. But living in an orderly space lends to it a sense knowing what to expect. Things have a home which makes me feel more at home. It also makes me feel less apt to get up and clean. Which I enjoy, but I also value my down time as well.

Finding Your Elements

I believe this is what the Danes are referring to when they practice Hygge. And it is something that is important and often times overlooked. Or in my case, the 20 something version of myself would have had some machismo outlook on the idea of “pampering myself” thinking I was being “self-indulgent”. I was also raised on action movies where the mark of being a man was based on how brutally you could sacrifice yourself for the greater good. No bueno.

We need these places. Places where we can feel safe, comfortable and without reserve. Living as though you’re constantly on edge and stressed, asides from having health consequences, also pulls the joy out of life. If you don’t have a safe and calm place to go to, then we’re really free floating in place where fear and anxiety can come to visit at will. And finding your place, one that brings you peace and safety is important to keep these feelings at bay.

So make your space. Find your own elements and tailor it to your liking. Maybe you find peace and ease while you’re on your yoga mat. Or maybe there’s a spot in a park or forest that you’re drawn to. Whatever your elements are and wherever your space is, make sure you take the time to steep yourself in them. Because they will bring you peace.

And there is also something gratifying about building these spaces yourself. As I’m typing, I’m sitting in my room with all of the above mentioned elements, including some others as well. Such as music (which could be a post all its own) and I’m definitely feeling relaxed, cozy and safe. And I bring this place with me wherever I go.

Take Your Place With You

For example, while I was at work today I was imagining relaxing at the end of the day and enjoying doing my tasks in my peaceful setting. Just the idea of being in my cozy space brought me a sense of calm in the moments of dis-ease that came during the day. And this is the benefit of creating this space, because you are also creating a little peace of mind as well.

So if you’ve struggled in the past with relaxing or feeling safe, start your own safe, calm and cozy space. Start small if you have to, but keep going back to it. Because eventually, when you take the effort to care for yourself, you will learn to trust in yourself. And when you trust yourself, then you can learn to feel safe and love yourself : ) Take good care, peace & thanks for reading : )

Image Credits: “Misty Mountain” by Shek Graham is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

Giving Up What We Think We Need To Get Through The Day: “It’s No Easy”-Melba

I’ve spoken a lot about the different methods I’ve used to get through my days in the past. They mostly consisted of drinking too much coffee in the mornings, between 4-6 large lattes a day and alcohol at night, usually 5-6 drinks. And on occasion, I would take an Adderall or muscle relaxer to speed up or slow myself down. I used other methods as well, such as food and pornography, to escape my emotional world, which were also detrimental to me living a healthy, well balanced lifestyle.

Now I realize that as far as addictions go, mine were on the milder side. I never fell into the harder drugs, and for the most part they never interfered with my day-to-day responsibilities. What it did do however, was decimate most of my relationships. The most important one being with myself.

I had no idea what I was feeling most of the time because I was too busy running away from what I was unwilling to confront. My neglected self. First by others, but then I picked up the legacy and ran with it using the methods that were taught to me. I’d like to talk about this neglect, and how I perpetuated it by using what was shown me, and how I broke free from the cycle of neglect, mostly using self-care. So if you’ve found yourself in a similar situation, hopefully you can learn from my mistakes and help yourself a little sooner than I did myself. Let’s start by taking a look at the environment I grew up in.

Control and Belonging

I was raised by a rowdy bunch. There were quite a few of us in my early childhood, and we would get together often. We were loud and opinionated which wasn’t so bad, but we were also mean and drunk most of the time. This was no bueno. Children were dealt with swiftly and using harsh actions. I learned from a very early age that it wasn’t in my best interests to show up on my caregivers radar.

It seemed as though the children in my family were always being punished for doing something against the will of our caregivers. I realize now that it had more to do with my caregivers feeling a lack of control in their lives, so they needed to control those around them, starting with the most vulnerable. This imparted the lesson on me that, to be an adult meant to always be in control.

This is a dangerous mindset to be in, because being in control for my family meant, controlling those around us and our emotions. We employed multiple tactics to achieve our desired goals. Among them being, drinking coffee and alcohol to control our emotional states, while also carefully withholding our love and affection from one another in an attempt to manipulate the other into treating us or seeing us in the ways we wanted them to. As you’ve probably guessed, this did not bode well for any of us.

As a result of our attempts to control our surroundings and each other, we cut ourselves off from just about everybody in our lives. We withheld our emotions from one another so much so, that we became little islands, paralyzed by the fear of being seen as needy, weak, stupid, undesirable… you name it and we most likely had an insecurity surrounding it. And slowly, we spoke to and saw each other, less and less as we moved through the years. Drifting apart like islands in the stream.

Our reasoning being, that if nobody could truly know us, then we’d be safe from their critical judgements and cutting remarks which were omnipresent. But in the process, and what we didn’t realize was, that we also cut ourselves off from ourselves. The pieces of each other that are ingrained in our beings, the habits I learned from my caregivers, I then learning to hate those same habits in me, which left me feeling isolated and angry.

Isolated because we avoided each other and angry for not feeling accepted by those I was behaving like. Not to mention how confusing this all was to sort out. So confusing in fact, that it took me until my late 30’s to sort it all! And that was after I decided to stop running from my emotional world and the put down the habits I was doing to avoid them.

Coffee to Speed Past the Feelings, Alcohol to Numb Them

I’ve said so many times on this blog how I used coffee to speed past my feelings and alcohol to numb them. Of course, I didn’t realize what I was doing at the time. I only knew that there was an awful lot of pain that I hadn’t reckoned with and that I would use just about anything to keep myself from feeling it.

I was enamored of drug culture when I was younger, around my teenage years. This was a time where, ideally, I would have been guided by a loving community of family and friends, to navigate the strange times of changing feelings and journey into adulthood. Instead, I ran from both changing, and adulthood. Mostly because I was still looking for the security in my belonging that I had lost in my early childhood. In short, I didn’t want to grow up for fear of resembling my abusers, the “grown ups” in my life.

So I took whatever I could to run from it. Caffeine was cheap and widely available, so I drank a lot of it to speed through my day. Alcohol was equally as available and more than effective enough to numb out the feelings I was running from, so I drank, a lot. There was also the occasional Adderall and muscle relaxer when caffeine and alcohol weren’t enough. But these were the status quo in my family growing up. Accompanied by a fair amount of critical judgements and you have the environment I was raised in, massively unhealthy.

What to Do When You’ve Found Yourself Alone

And these were the methods we chose to isolate ourselves from one another. When the cost of getting too close, was too much to take. Running became our number one tactic in keeping ourselves safe. And rightly so. With the amount of abuse we were dishing out to one another, it’s amazing that any of us are still talking to one another, however little that may be.

But in order for me to get to this place, I needed to do a lot of work. First off, I needed to find some resources, otherwise the sheer amount of loneliness, and work I needed to accomplish in order to feel stable would have been overwhelming.

This mostly took shape in the form of me giving myself the care and attention, that I would give to somebody I cared about deeply. Something I was shamed for doing by those who raised me. Anytime I asked for something for myself, I was made to feel as though it was more than just an inconvenience, I was personally using the other or taking advantage of their “kindness” just by having needs. I’ve said before on this blog, the term martyr was used liberally around taking care of each other’s needs. We were as ungrateful and spiteful as we could be.

Taking the Time to Unlearn Old Habits

And it was here that I needed to do a lot of work to unlearn the ways I had been behaving. I was mean and spiteful, arrogant and condescending, ungrateful and felt as though the world owed me something and used people like objects. Focusing only on what I could get from them, not on how we could care for one another. No wonder I had no close friends.

What really got me to change my old habits was a combination of learning to sit with and through my emotions without the aid of some substance to help me run from what I was experiencing, mostly through meditation, then caring for myself as they, my emotions, came up. As I’ve said above, I was shamed for even thinking about caring for myself. So even the act of learning to be kind to myself was quite the feat.

But that’s what I did. When I felt worried or overwhelmed, I took the time to stop, ask how I was feeling, recognize and allow the feeling to be there, then I was able to care for myself by asking myself what I needed. Tara Brach has a great resource called R.A.I.N., and it’s what I use to navigate difficult emotional states when they arise.

Recognize, Allow, Investigate, Nurture

It starts out with R, which stands for Recognize. I simply recognize what is happening in the moment, as it’s happening. Then the A is for Allow. Whatever is present for me, I allow it to be Just as it is, no judgements. I is for Investigate. This is where I ask the emotion how it needs me to be with it. Do I need to respond with kindness, or does it just to be witnessed? And finally N is for Nurture. This is where I take the time to be the parent for myself that I never had. To show myself that I care about what’s happening in the ways nobody had shown me before.

This is a powerful tool and one that, when used regularly, has the ability to change the ways we see and interact with ourselves. And it does take some time. The big changes don’t happen in one fell swoop. As Tara would say, it takes many rounds of R.A.I.N. before it becomes a learned behavior.

Building Trust

And eventually what happened for me was, I started to trust myself. I could trust what was happening, the emotions that were coming up in the moment without running from them and into some mood altering experience. And this trust was paramount to building a stable foundation for all of my relationships to rest on. Most importantly the one with myself.

Because while I was running from myself, I was showing myself that I was not worth the time and effort to care for and nurture my own needs. And if I didn’t know how to be there for myself, how was I going to show up for somebody else? I just didn’t have the tools for that job before I learned to slow down without a substance.

So I practiced. I practiced showing up, and staying when it got tough. I cooked my self-care dinners on Tuesday nights, even if it was a budget friendly recipe and I enjoyed a beer with my dinner. I kept up with my yoga practice and meditation, even though I was working between 50-60 hours a week and was spent at the end of my work day. I cleaned and cared for my surroundings even though sometimes it seemed like that’s all I was ever doing, was ticking things off the list. But the efforts I put in were important for me building consistency.

I was so used to being left, time and again, by everybody that ever mattered to me that I had no consistency, nothing stable to rely on. So I needed to create that stability I sought, for and with myself, by building these routines that I stuck to no matter how tired I was. I was showing up for myself when everyone else said it was too much to stay. And here’s where the trust started to form.

Once I realized I wasn’t going back to the same old ways of living, I began to feel things again I hadn’t felt in years. I was learning to relax on my own, without the aid of chemicals while also appreciating the accomplishments I was achieving. I was growing up and it felt good.

So if you’ve found yourself in a place where you’ve been running from your emotional world for too long, don’t worry, there’s hope still. It may not be easy, and it may feel impossible at times, to overcome these feelings of being run down, anxious or fearful. But it’s not only possible, it’s doable.

Start somewhere small. Take stock of the areas in your life that have been neglected a little, or need some love and attention. Then make a plan to get involved with your own life with more sustainable resources, like exercise and self-care nights, whatever shape they may take for you.

Cut back on the caffeine and alcohol intake if you feel like they are getting to be too much. Get in touch with your body and see what it needs by spending some down time with yourself. Whether it’s in nature or in a clean room with some candles burning. Learning to listen to yourself is invaluable to building a relationship with yourself. Like my boss says, “be the driver of your life bus, not a passenger”.

And be consistent. The more you show up for yourself, the more you send yourself the message that you’re worth the time and effort, and most importantly that you care about yourself. Pretty soon, you’ll be a whole new version of yourself without the vices you once relied on for support. And most importantly, never give up on yourself. You just may surprise yourself with who you become. Peace, and thanks for reading : )

Image Credits: “Beer glass” by Bruno Girin is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Finding Belonging: Navigating Feeling Lonely For the Holidays

There has been a lot of talk lately about isolation, belonging and how it’s been affecting us as a global society. Being quarantined for such a long time has no doubt, taken its toll on peoples’ mental health. But what about those who were already isolating? Only not due to a virus outbreak. What if there are people whom are already quarantining, only to protect themselves from opening up emotionally to others?

This was how I had been living for decades. Not realizing what I had been doing. In this post, I’d like to take a look at what brought me to this place of isolation and what I’m doing about it now to help alleviate some of the emotional pain. Hopefully, helping both those who are too scared to open up emotionally, but also those dealing with pandemic isolation as well. So let’s jump right in with where it all began for me.

How My Past Shaped My Present

When I was young, things were good. I had a best friend, support from family and interests I was developing. There were feelings of belonging to one another and I was well on my way to a healthy version of person-hood. But things took a turn for the worse when I was about 8 years-old. My family fell apart and I lost my best friend and my belonging, all at about the same time.

This was a difficult situation for anybody to handle. But when you’re 8 and emotionally abandoned, it’s nearly impossible to sort out and understand all the emotions tied to what’s happening to and around you. Also not to mention, not to take responsibility for what’s happening. Especially if the messages you were being sent were, as I was, “there’s something wrong with you, I know what it is, but I’m not going to tell you and I’m disappointed in you for it.”

There was usually a smug sense of knowing, of superiority that my caregivers carried about them. And when you’re a child just coming to understand how you affect the world you’re inhabiting, this is more than just a little confusing. Also hard not to take personally. I was second guessing my belonging, how I was seen by others and whether or not what I was doing made those I relied on and trusted, reject me. Like a suspended state of hope, only to be torn down, again and again. I was lonely, isolated and had absolutely no one to talk to. No one to help me to understand what I was experiencing. Fast forward to the pandemic and I had already experienced what others were coming to know well as a heartbreakingly lonely experience. Only for most, theirs was due to a virus.

And the older I got, the further apart my family drifted. To almost complete isolation. We never spoke to one another. And when we did we didn’t have anything nice to say about anything or one. We were becoming less and less recognizable as a family. AKA a group of people who love and support one another. It just wasn’t in us.

Okay, It’s Hit the Fan, Now What?

To watch something you felt loved and supported from fall apart, is no easy task. As I’ve said in earlier posts on this blog, I have very fond memories of my family in my youth. So getting used to the cold, emotionless, emptiness that was slowly growing in the place of where my love and support used to live was maddening. But it was also fact. No amount of wishing things were differently was going to make things change for the better. Especially around the holidays.

So I did what anybody in my situation would do. I had a breakdown. I left my wife for a woman I thought I loved, only to find myself rejected yet again. A pattern I later realized that I emulated from my family history. But it’s the best thing that could have happened for me at the time.

Reliving Old Patterns

I realized I was living the embodiment of my family’s toxic ways of being. All the while, running from what was healthiest for me. Which was to build lasting relationships based in mutual respect, trust and love. Not on the image based and emotionally avoidant ways my family has been living.

I chose my ex-wife because she held strong opinions and knew what she wanted. These aren’t inherently bad qualities, only it left me without a voice in the relationship. But this was just what I was looking for. Someone to tell me how to live my life. And that’s exactly what I got from our relationship.

The woman I left my ex-wife for was more of the same. I was regressing in my emotional growth by choosing women who were obstinate, mildly self-absorbed, bullish, self-righteous, mean spirited and abusive. But if we’re being honest, I was exactly the same way. And I was also looking to avoid being a part of my relationships because it’s how I was hurt in the past.

So after my breakdown, I moved in with one of my childhood caregivers. This was a wakeup call in that most of the life events that I experienced, my caregiver had as well. Only I never knew because we never spoke. They were avoiding building a relationship with me in the same ways I was avoiding building relationships with them.

So again, I was left alone and with little direction on how to move forward with and in my life. But luckily this time around, I had a few resources and some goals to work towards. These, in conjunction with one another, gave me the insight to help me move forward and finally grow from the regressed, stagnant place I had been living from for so long.

Rebuilding

There’s a feeling I get when I go into a drug store or a thrift shop. It’s a feeling of knowing that I can probably get what I need from this place, but maybe it won’t match my ideal aesthetic of what I want. But there’s a potential that’s embedded in that feeling. What if I can make something of what I have. What can I do with where I’m at.

And that’s a good feeling. This was the feeling I got when I moved in with my caregiver after barely speaking for 26 years. We were finally in a position where we would be stuck in a place together, for better or for worse, and have to navigate our relationship together. But it took a while. We had to get use to being around one another. Get to know each other as the people we had become. With all of the life experiences we’ve accumulated. Relearn belonging to each other. It was uncomfortable at times but we stuck it out and grew stronger because of it.

I started doing laundry every other week with one family member, which allowed me to get to know them again every other Wednesday night. This is where I started to learn how to trust again. Then I suggested family dinner Friday. Every Friday, one of us chooses a recipe and we gather to cook our meal. Dividing the tasks and enjoying the fruits of our labor, the conversations, the mistakes. It’s become a favorite night for all of us and embodies a sense of belonging to each other. Then I suggested just hanging out with one family member on Monday mornings when I wasn’t working.

Something Bigger

Slowly, we were, are, learning how to be a family again and feel belonging to one another. But no one of us could have done it alone. We all had to be willing to become a part of something bigger than just three people living in a household sharing space. We needed to be open to the idea of living in a home, foibles and all.

And this took a lot of work. For all of us, but on my part as well. I had to be open to being hurt again. So I could feel the vulnerability and the tenderness that comes with feeling connected. Because I will be hurt again. I’ll be let down by something somebody does or hurt when they leave me for the final time. But it’s worth remembering to open anyways. There’s a line from a Kings of Leon song, “The Immortals” that goes, “don’t forget to love, ‘fore you gone”. Something I feel as though a majority of us are too scared to do. And what I’ve been running from for so long.

Tick List: Stay Connected

I have a list on my phone, next to my “Todo” list. This one is called, “Stay Connected”. It’s a list I wrote of my friends. The people I want to stay in touch with. What they’re up to and current/future plans I have with them. For someone like me, who has been isolated for the better part of three decades, this is an important aspect of life for me to stay on top of to feel a greater sense of belonging. There’s a line from a song that goes, “being lonely is a habit, like drinking or taking drugs, I quit them both, but man was it rough” Jenny Lewis, Acid Tough.

And being lonely is both habit and rough. One of the reasons we may be isolating and why I was is, to protect ourselves. But it’s doing more harm to stay isolated than to take the risk and feel connected and belonging. This article from Tulane University explains how isolation can lead to anxiety, depression and heart disease. But do we really need scientific research to show us that we feel better after a talk with a close friend? Or the feeling of warmth while we’re cuddling with our S.O.? Feeling like we belong? Sometimes we need only listen to the wisdom of our hearts to know what’s best for us, even if that wisdom is intertwined with fear.

Taking the Risk

I have a photo from “Man on Wire” on my desktop, where Philippe, the subject of the documentary, is on a high-wire between the tops of the two world trade center buildings in NYC. The photo is both terrifying and beautiful at the same time. This is what it feels like, for me, to risk feeling connected again after so much neglect and estrangement. It’s not safe, but necessary. To cross the void in order to feel loved and connection again.

So how do we begin to cross the void? Don’t look down! JK, but seriously, it takes a lot of feeling uncomfortable and swallowing a fair amount of pride in the process. For me, I had to recognize that I was actively withholding love from others. And what’s most surprising is, I didn’t even realize I was doing it. It became so engrained in my personality, in my defense against being hurt, I didn’t even realize it was happening. It was a lesson I learned from my family. Who has been practicing it since before I can remember. So to even wake up from the trance I was in, is a feat on to itself. But it’s doable. It just takes practice and persistence.

From Neglected to Safe & Cozy

What practice looked like for me was, I had to find ways to make my environment comfortable for me to inhabit first. I started with my room. Filling it with plants, a diffuser and some candles. Things that imbue comfort for me. I then took some of that comfort and carried it into the next room I wanted to acclimate to. I started burning candles while I was learning to take care of my nutritional needs. By cooking for myself while in the kitchen. Then I was able to offer this peace I had found in myself to others. But the other aspect I needed was to learn how to be kind to myself first.

This took practice as well. I didn’t realize the ways I was beating myself up and how often I was doing it. Trying to reach that impossible standard to feel loved, belonging and accepted, kept me from seeing a lot of the ways I was disconnecting from myself. And how I was pushing myself too hard. But these were learned behaviors from my family. I was neglecting myself in the same ways my family neglected me and themselves.

Turkey Day

For example, my family, for Thanksgiving, wasn’t going to buy a turkey for themselves because it was too expensive and too much food. I don’t eat meat, and they couldn’t eat a whole turkey with just the two of them. But they would buy it for another in a heartbeat if they were coming over for dinner. Although the frugal side agrees with just purchasing a breast and splitting it : )

These are the ways I had modeled for me in neglecting myself by neglecting what brings me joy. Usually because I feel I need to settle for something lesser. This is due to not feeling as though I’m worth the effort, but if I’m always neglecting myself and sacrificing my happiness for no other reason than because I don’t want to spend the money or effort on myself, what kind of message am I sending to myself and others? That I’m not really worth or worthy of love. From myself or from others. Not in a way you can buy love. But loving yourself enough to treat yourself once and a while. Within reason : )

And my family members are good people. They’ve just been told time and again this unhealthy message of, sacrifice your happiness and joy in the name of being frugal, or for someone else’s sake. We never learned how to care for and pamper ourselves. But this is what I’ve been doing with my planned family dinners and time spent with family members again. Learning how to care for myself, as well as those closest to me. As a result, we’ve all come to trust and love each other a little more deeply because of it. It hasn’t been easy, but it is most definitely worth the while.

There’s a greater sense of ease around one another now. A place where uncertainty and distrust lay before, now is filled with feelings of belonging. Something that wasn’t possible only a few years ago. It’s not perfect, but it’s fulfilling. And that’s good enough.

Begin With What You Have

So how do we make the U-turn from lonely and isolated to connected, belonging and loved? I’ve found that starting with where you are, and who you are with, is the best place to begin. But first, it’s important to assess your situation and whom is around you to make sure you’re taking care of yourself in as safe a way as possible. For example, if I was still living with the last woman I was staying with, I most likely wouldn’t have been able to grow in the ways I have. I just wasn’t in a safe and supportive environment. And subsequently felt guarded and on edge. This was not an environment conducive to building trust or feeling belonging.

Finding supportive friends is also fundamental to building trust and love as well as finding belonging. I’m so grateful for the countless hikes and conversations that have nurtured me when I most needed love and support from my friends and family that are closest to me. Time spent together was a soothing balm to the neglect and abandonment I experienced in my youth. And they are relationships I value more and more each time we get together.

Get Out There

So if you’re in a similar situation to what I have experiences and are feeling lonely and looking for belonging, find a relationship that feels like it has potential, even if it feels a little risky, and start there. Find a foothold in a shared common interest. For me and my family it was food and gardening. What do the people in your life value? Where does it intersect with where your interests lay? Explore these areas a little together. And remember, it doesn’t have to happen overnight.

Treat your relationships as you would something that is growing. Give them the time and space they need. The nutrients of your shared interests and what you discover along the way. Again, it won’t happen overnight, especially if there are hurt feelings to tend to. But be patient. Also, if you’re new to building healthy relationships, don’t be afraid to ask for help. I owe a great debt of gratitude to my therapist who has been a personal ally for me when I most needed them.

And also, don’t forget to have fun along the way! For me, I can get so wrapped up in thinking I need to constantly improve, be as healthy as possible, that I forget that I, and those closest to me, aren’t projects. We’re just people who want to connect. To be seen and heard.

The holidays can be lonely for some but they don’t have to be. If you are finding that you are in a similar situation, feeling a bit adrift and lonely, reach out to someone. Even if you haven’t spoken in years. You’d be surprised how many people I’ve contacted after years of not talking and fell right back into a rhythm of conversation again. Start where you are, with who you know. It’ll help. Just be open to connecting and you’ll be part of the flow once again. Peace : ) & thanks for reading.

Image Credits: alone… by VinothChandar is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Updated: 11/9/2022

Where do You Draw the Line? When are You Taking on Too Much Responsibility For Other People’s Emotions

This is a loaded topic and one I’ve recently had to come to terms with. It’s difficult enough in our day to day to sort and respond to our emotions. But when you add the layer of taking responsibility of, and absorbing somebody else’s emotional state, it can be overwhelming. This is a skill that I definitely learned late in life. And one I’m still grappling with today as I try to sort out my emotions from the unhealthy lessons and baggage of my caretakers. This aspect of handling our emotions is so important that I’m surprised we don’t have a curriculum for it. Especially helping those who are navigating them in their early teens. Another topic for another post for sure.

Why Responsibility is Important

What started me thinking about about the idea for this post was, something I said in last weeks post on dealing with unreasonably high standards. I grew up in a family where my caregivers would often say, “you made me do this”, or “you made me feel this way.” These were powerful statements to hear, especially at such a young age. This was the foundation of me taking responsibility for, not only my own emotions, but also those of my caregivers as well. And just about everybody else’s in my life that I had an emotional bond with.

After hearing one of these statements, during a fight or some kind of argument, I would take responsibility for what was said. As though the entire argument we just had, and all the hurt feelings and disappointment that resulted from it, was my fault. My responsibility. My caregivers almost always carried an air of something being offensive to them in their body language. As though whatever was happening was not only personal, but there was also a sense of indignant self-righteousness. The sense that they knew better than whomever was offending them. And they (the offenders) were inherently bad for doing, thinking or being a way that they did not approve of.

And how could I not take responsibility for all the emotions of our relationship. With standards like my caregivers’ and learning how to handle emotions directly from those who were supposed to teach me how to navigate life and my emotional world with balance and ease, I just assumed that they were in control. That they knew how to handle emotions fairly and that I was just never added up.

Results of Not Taking Responsibility for Our Emotions

So these were the broken and unsustainable lessons I then tried to navigate my world with. I held a sense of indignant self-righteousness and judgmental attitude in almost all of my relationships. I was unforgiving of others and of myself. And when we didn’t add up to my unreasonably high standards, I was mean. In just about all aspects of my relationships.

From my harsh judgements of others to the cutting and snide remarks I would make when someone didn’t meet my standard. Or when I thought they were showing some “weakness”, aka emotions other than anger. For example, I remember picking out an individual who I worked with, who I picked on relentlessly. And the reason I chose him to receive the brunt of my hostility? Because he was kind and considerate, without the ego I thought men should display, by virtue of being a man. Toxic masculinity at its worst.

But picking on someone for showing kindness and consideration, traits I viewed as “weaknesses”, was really a way for me to stay loyal to the lessons I received from my caregivers. These were their views, their reactions to their emotional landscapes. And in order to feel belonging, I assimilated their views as my own. I became the person I was expected to be by my caregivers. By absorbing their views and taking them on as my own.

Lonely in Relationship Through Lack of Boundaries

This, however, lead to me not understanding how to be in, or what intimacy was, in relationship. This left me feeling that most of my relationships were superficial and without feelings of connection. In short, a very lonely place to be.

As well as not being able to develop and foster intimate relationships, I was also actively afraid of the people that reminded me of my caregivers. So when I met someone new who reminded me of them, or was around someone who resembled my caregivers, there was a sense of fear that came on. I felt that, “this is my fault, the reason their being so mean is because of who I am.” Even if they were talking about somebody else, I was always in the position of feeling as though it was only a matter of time before their hurtful actions were directed towards me. That I was somehow always a moment away from displeasing and totally disappointing whomever I was with.

Recognizing the Patterns

And this pattern still plays out from time to time. The one where I feel as though I’m feeling like a disappointment. But I’ve learned to break free from this pattern. This has taken some considerable effort though. The first step was to recognize how I was feeling while I was with someone and how it effected our relationship.

I first began to understand my relationship dynamics while I was interacting with a co-worker. Everything seemed fine at first, but later I noticed he would get quiet around me when it was just the two of us. But the more I heard him in conversation with others, the more I came to know his personality a little better. He would say things like, “I live to gaslight people”. This was something I would expect to hear from one of my caregivers. If you’re not familiar with the term gaslighting, it means, to “ psychological manipulation of a person usually over an extended period of time that causes the victim to question the validity of their own thoughts…” (Merriam & Webster).

How I felt while I was around him was, as though I had done something wrong. But I had no idea what it was that I was doing to explain this feeling. I felt the fear in my belly and groin, as though something were about to happen to me. This must be where the expression, “gird your loins” comes from. Because I definitely felt my fight or flight response kick in while I was around them. What I knew was that I felt uncomfortable around them. As though something bad would imminently happen and that it would be my fault.

Learning to Trust Your Emotions

This made learning to trust my emotions a difficult process. As I’ve said above, when you are surrounded by people who are constantly telling you that you are making them feel a certain way, avoiding responsibility for their own emotions and reactions to them, it becomes more than a little fuzzy on how you feel. And if what you are feeling is actually your feeling. some of the questions may be, is somebody else making me feel this way? Is this my emotion, or the other person’s that I’m feeling?

This may seem elementary to most people. And I truly hope that is the case. But for those of us who were taught poor or no emotional boundaries, emotions can be confusing. So building those boundaries became paramount to me being able to navigate how I feel in situations. One boundary being, knowing that no matter what, what I’m feeling is my own feeling and therefore my responsibility. This allows me to see how I’m feeling, in real time, in reaction to a situation that is current. I can then know the feeling and thoughts that I’ve learned to associate with that feeling. Then work to separate them from one another and deal with the present situation and emotions accordingly.

Trust in Practice

So in the example above with the co-worker who “lives to gaslight”, I can hear the comment, feel the fear in my body, recognize that the emotion and the feelings are coming up because of the abuses I’ve received in my past at the hands of those who acted like the co-worker. Then recognize that I am in a different situation with different people. That I am in control of keeping myself safe. And that these are only feelings, that are reminding me that this person may not be safe to trust with my wellbeing.

Trust and Miscommunication

Another example is, I was in the middle of batch cooking for the weeks ahead one day. I was cleaning out the cabinets and taking stock of what I need to use up before it goes bad. The counters were covered with food stuffs. And at that point I had been in the kitchen for hours. Then, someone I live with walked into the kitchen and asked, “what are you up to?” I was tired, but the question struck me as ridiculous. They had been sitting in the room over from me the entire time I was cooking. And anyone who walked into the kitchen could clearly see what it was that I was up to. I responded in a short tone with, “really?” But I wasn’t angry. It was more to point out how ridiculous the question was. They then became defensive and indignant, saying “it’s not ok to ask a question? Are you in one of your moods?”

What bothered me about this interaction was, the assumption was made that I was being mean on purpose. When I really thought the question was funny and I responded the way I did due to being tired. I later apologized for being short because it was rude of me. But these were the types of interactions that had laid the foundation of all our communications, without the apologies. This was also the source of a lot of hurt feelings and perceived abuses. When all we really needed to do was to not take everything that someone was saying so personally by taking responsibility for their emotions.

Feeling Defensive Comes from Communication Built on Distrustful Relationships

And this is no easy task. From my experience, if the foundation of your relationships are built on misperceived comments and what feel like personal attacks based in malicious intent, then there is a lot of armoring you take on to feel safe. Especially if you have to live with the people who are attacking you. And the attacks are more commonplace than loving gestures. From this perspective, being in relationship with anyone is a scary proposition.

So if clear communication takes a healthy dose of trusting one another and not taking things so personally or responsibility for other’s emotions, how do we begin to loosen the armoring that comes with the distrust? For me, not taking responsibility and things so personally was a gradual process. I first had to let go of my own indignation. To have a little faith that not everybody had some ulterior motive to their actions. And as I’ve said above, when you absorb disappointment from your caregivers growing up, this is tough to break free from.

Building Boundaries to Gain Trust in Ourselves & in Others

For me, there is something I say in my affirmation, during my meditation, “I’m strong enough to be who I am, while allowing others to be who they are”. This has done so much for me to establish some much needed boundaries in my personal life. This was the foothold for me to be able to begin to trust others. Because if I knew I was strong enough to feel my emotions, I could take responsibility for my emotions. Then I can begin to understand how to draw the line between feeling like a disappointment and recognizing others displaying disappointment in me.

Once you start to take responsibility for your emotions, it’s easier to see how others are feeling. For example, in the interaction with the person I live with above, when I shifted my focus to the anger and indignation they were displaying, it was easy to see that they were hurt by my short remark. Which I said because I was tired from cooking and cleaning all day. Not because I was angry at them.

You Can’t Change Another

Taking responsibility takes patience. With ourselves and with others as well. But also knowing when someone else may not change. This is a difficult one for most people, including me. Learning to accept where people are. It’d be great if everyone could just immediately understand where we are coming from, whenever we have a new thought or perspective. But the reality of relationships is, this just isn’t the case.

For me, I need to accept that there are some relationships that are not going to change. For example, when I tried to explain how I wasn’t angry even though my response was short, it only caused more frustration and misunderstanding. In this case, I need to accept that I will be misunderstood. Also not take responsibility for them not understanding me. And accepting that this is just where we are in our relationship.

But People Can Change

And that’s not to say that people aren’t capable of changing. Or coming to an understanding. Only that it can’t be forced on someone before they’re ready for it.

And in some cases, I’ve had to let relationships go. There were just too many hurt feelings and unresolved issues for me to stay in relationship with them. This was no easy task. And not one I’m suggesting to do or think about lightly. For me, knowing that I had to draw a hard line on how I feel safe or comfortable with the relationship ending, helps me to feel as though I’m taking care of myself. That I know I have my back, and my best interests at heart.

And that’s not to say that I’ve written these people off. Or burned any bridges. I heard somewhere to, “never write a person off.” Because people change. And that’s not to say that I’m leaving the door wide open for them to come back in whenever they like. It means that I’m not giving up on their ability to change.

But Don’t Forget Your Boundaries

If they come back into my life, it will be a fresh start. And one I’ll embark on very cautiously. Setting some strict boundaries around our relationship, until I can feel confident. Confident in who they are now and how they’ve changed from the ways they used to be and can take responsibility for their emotions. And again, this isn’t easy. But for me, it’s worth it if you can salvage a friendship. Because people are definitely worth the effort.

There is also a fair amount of vulnerability that comes with being in relationship as well. This can be difficult to manage on top of the other emotions that we are already trying to sort out. It can feel at times, like trying to untangle a bunch of live wires! Trusting that others will not project their emotions onto you while you’re untangling your own emotional knot can feel like you’re being overloaded.

Finding Resources

These are the times where it’s best to find some time to resource. A little self-care goes a long way when we’re feeling like we are being overwhelmed with emotions. Ours or somebody else’s. Don’t be afraid to take the time you need to sort through what your feeling and putting responsibility where it belongs. Alone or with a trusted friend, knowing how you’re feeling while trying to untangle your emotions from another’s is important. To clearly communicate what your needs are and understand what the other person is feeling.

And take your time. Don’t feel as though you have to rush to a conclusion. You will get there eventually. And if you take your time, you’ll probably get a better picture of what it is that you are trying to understand.

I hope this has been of some help. Emotions can be tricky. Especially when we’re not sure whose emotions are whose. Just remember to be kind to yourself and the other, while you’re trying to sort it all out. And be forgiving too. When you come up short on the kindness front! As always, peace : ) and thanks for reading.

Updated: 9/29/22

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