I have been musing over this thought for quite awhile. I had wonderful, loving and generous parents who did all they could to raise successful, well-rounded kiddos. I was diagnosed with asthma shortly after my grandmother died when I was four. My parents responded with medical intervention as I needed it sometimes and encouraged me to be physically active and didn’t baby me. Many’s the night they would be up with me, as I struggled to take in and release oxygen. Sitting in the bathroom, taking in the shower steam was a healing balm. I recall my mother inhaling and exhaling with me as if willing me to breathe. Regular doc visits and allergy shots were part of the routine. As we were sitting in waiting rooms, my mother and I would engage in educational activities, such as playing with flashcards, spelling words and reading stories to each other. She never missed teachable moments. I am convinced that is how I became such a voracious reader and lifelong learner. I joined a swim team at the suggestion of our family doctor, to expand my lung capacity. Swimming became a long-term activity, as I became adept at freestyle and butterfly and still have the well-developed shoulders as evidence. From ages 11-18, I competed on local and regional teams and from 18-20, coached kids in my community. All of that hard work clearly paid off, since these days, asthma is not a constant presence and kicks in only on occasion.
Mom and Dad modeled and instilled pro-social values, kindness, responsibility, cleaning up after yourself in all ways ….stuff like that. Goody two shoes that I was, I made choices to steer clear of majorly poor choices, partly because I felt I owed them staying out of trouble. I think the most daring thing I did in elementary school was playing hooky one afternoon, by leaving the grounds to go to a friend’s house at lunchtime and not coming back. We got caught. No major consequences ensued, even though my heart was pounding in trepidation that there might be.
Not that I would have intentionally acted irresponsibly, for my own sake, but also because I felt high maintenance enough with asthma. Although I didn’t have the ability to verbalize it at the time, I didn’t want to be even more of a burden than I felt like I was at times. I deliberately excelled so as to ‘balance things out’. They never demanded excellence from my sister and me, although they wanted us to do our best. I expected it of myself. I wanted them to be proud of me and I know they were anyway. I guess I wanted to increase the odds of that. Since they invested so much in me, I wanted to show them that their faith in me was warranted. Bizarre thought, since as a parent, it is my responsibility anyway and I want to have faith in my son, no matter what. Perhaps when we stumble is when we need it even more.
I imagine that they are beaming from the Other Side, as my dad passed in 2008 and my mom joined him in 2010, proud of most of the choices I have made. I still endeavor to be low maintenance, not leaning too heavily on people in my life. Instead, I have remained the go-to person. Sometimes the balance feels off and I need to regain my footing.
In my career as a therapist working with people who DO make unhealthy/unwise choices that impact on others, I sometimes find myself questioning whether they have thoughts like that. I have a judgment that no one has the right to deliberately harm another in word or action, regardless of their history or wounds. Being consciously aware of our patterns helps. When people are lost in addiction or mental illness, they sometimes don’t have that awareness that their actions impact others.
I see myself as being low maintenance. I’m no saint. I get petulant and pouty sometimes, but I don’t often let it spill out onto others. I wonder if other people here have overcompensated for childhood experiences in positive ways and negative ways. Do you make decisions based on how they will affect others? Did you get into trouble as a reaction to life experiences or stay out of trouble for the same reason?
I would love to start a conversation here.
I was musing about one of my biggest fears that was blown away like a dandelion puff when I disempowered it and instead, empowered myself. Prior to the health challenges of the past few years, I was utterly terrified that if I wasn’t ON, if I wasn’t the rock, the one others depended on, then I was of no value and that people would vanish. The silly story I was telling myself was that I was indispensable and that my clients needed me to fix, save, heal or cure them, that my family and friends would stop believing in me if I wasn’t available 24/7 to listen and hold space for them. What I have since learned is that it is total and utter balderdash. My arrogance was my downfall. It began with shingles in November of 2013, followed by a heart attack in June of 2014 and then a month later, kidney stones and a few months after that, a diagnosis of adrenal fatigue. I gave myself a reprieve, following a conscious health protocol and whole life makeover. The past few months have brought with them, bronchial distress, ribs injured from coughing and then an out of whack neck. I have allowed them to slow me down, but not stop completely since that is not my nature. I am, however, conscious of the ways in which my intentions and actions impact my well-being. I have been napping more, going to bed earlier, listening to inspirational presentations and soothing music, as I am at the moment while typing these words. I have been more mindful of my comfort level when fulfilling people’s requests. I have beeing saying no without stuttering and saying yes with enthusiasm.
In having my heart being like a Western saloon swinging door, that anyone could pass through whenever they needed to, sometimes wearing muddy boots and spurs, I had no ability to monitor what energies I was allowing in. The sheriff was off duty and the deputy was taking a snooze. The piano player was merrily tickling the ivories and the dancing girls were atop the bar entertaining inebriated customers who were hootin’ and hollerin’. It was the perfect recipe for disaster.
What I have since learned is that in slowing down, I have let life catch up with me. In being discerning about who I allow into the inner sanctum, there is more room for myself. By saying no and yes with equal ease, I experience a greater sense of freedom. By treating myself as I would a Beloved Other, I welcome in more love. In offering myself the same love and compassion for the one in the mirror that I do those around me, I refill my tanks. In emptying out old worn out beliefs, my life fills up with new and improved ones. In casting aside the old stories, I get to write new chapters. In letting go, I am able to draw in. It’s just like the cardiac muscle that needs to contract and expand to pump blood and the lungs that need to inhale and exhale. Can’t have one without the other.
I am realizing that there is a new sheriff in town, shiny badge pinned to her chest; no need for a sidearm in the wild and wooly west.
Recently, I listened intently as someone I know cataloged the many reasons she was unhappy with her life. They ranged from her appearance to her financial situation, from her relationship status (divorced) to her age-related memory loss. She had just told me about a dream she had in which she had lost control of the classroom in which she had been teaching and the kiddos were running around, climbing on desks and chairs, not listening to her; in general, carrying on. Someone unidentified had come in to take over. A recently retired career educator with more than 30 years under her belt, this person felt as if her life was as chaotic as the setting in which the dream had taken place. I asked her to tell me what it meant to her and she reflected that she felt inept and like she needed “someone to rescue me since I couldn’t do it myself.” It was embarrassing to her that she had to bring in reinforcements. I reminded her that sometimes we all need help and that when in the midst of life overload, it isn’t uncommon to have work related anxiety dreams.
I used to dream of the restaurant where I worked while in grad school back in the 80’s. I was the only one covering the entire place. I had to take the orders, place them in the kitchen, deliver them to tables, clear and bus all the settings and reset them. All providing service with a smile. They reflected my beliefs about myself and the expectations for what I was to do.
In the same way, all of these ‘dream children’ were her overwhelming thoughts about her life and her inability to corral them, lest they run amok and wreak havoc. I asked her if, in the course of her teaching career, she had ever had an aide. She said that when the class size was larger and the needs were more acute, she did indeed have an assistant. I then inquired what qualities such a person should have. She smiled as she responded that she should be kind and caring, firm, but not too tough and that she should love the children and want them to succeed. I volleyed back that perhaps her mind was RE-minding her that an aide like that one was present for her to keep her chattering monkey mind from taking over. There is no shame in asking for and accepting help. She has been accustomed to believing that she should be able to do everything herself since she didn’t feel she could count on anyone else doing it for her.
She then said she was tired of the “same old sh*t.” I asked her to consider that the initials were SOS; a cry for help. What if what we consider repetitive experiences as just that…a call to the Universe for guidance and support since we were never meant to everything on our own? No man or woman is an island.
I think about my own SOS beliefs that revolve around money and relationships, health and career. I need to decide at any given moment whether I want to go down with the ship or see it as a Source of Support. I choose the latter more often than not. In the past week or so, I have been immersed in listening to the teachings of Abraham-Hicks. Esther Hicks is the being through which an energetic presence or Source Energy called Abraham (not the biblical patriarch) speaks. I had initially heard of them when the movie The Secret came out in 2006. Their work highlights the Law of Attraction which focuses on the idea that like attracts like. John Demartini’s statement, “What you think about and thank about, you bring about”, reflects the concept. I can lose myself in fear and worry or find myself in love and assurance all (despite appearances at times) is well.
A brilliant young woman said something recently that blew me out of the water as she was describing a relationship that ended. “I thought we’d be on the same page. We weren’t even in the same book or genre.” I smiled wistfully when she uttered those words since I have been there more times than I can count.
When a relationship begins, the parties involved see something in each other that resonates. It could be a smile, a world view, how they interact with people or animals, the ways they face challenges. There is a feeling of wanting to get to know each other in deeper and more profound ways. The book opens with fresh, crisp pages waiting to be turned and explored. Sometimes the paper sticks together and you need to patiently separate them so they don’t tear. There are moments when you pause and re-read what is on them so you glean their meaning clearly. Confusion may ensue as the words make no sense or are repetitive. Shouting capital letters may make you cringe and want to slam the book shut and walk away in frustration or anger. That may be when you need to put a bookmark between the pages and set it down for a bit.
Sometimes what comes through remains a mystery and you put the thought aside as you continue to the next page, not wanting to perseverate. Each chapter holds the possibility of greater adventure. Some of the language is flowing and eloquent, while other parts of the book seem stilted and awkward, repetitive and boring and you may wonder why you opened it in the first place and you are tempted to put it back on the shelf. That may be when you realize that it fell into your waiting hands for a reason. Maybe it was to teach you lessons that you might not otherwise have learned. Perhaps it reminds you of who you are and what you want out of life. It could be because you were craving change.
And what about the genre? If you are accustomed to non-fiction, you figure it might do you some good to dive into a novel or action-adventure. If you are a hard-core realist, then maybe a bodice-ripper romance or sci-fi fantasy might be just what the doctor ordered for you. Soon you may find yourself telling everyone in your life about this marvelous life changing book you are reading. They are thrilled for you that you have found it and they delight in seeing you light up as a result. Some may respond that they too want a book like that to learn from, grow through and treasure. Some may harbor jealousy that you found that book and they haven’t or perhaps had it at one time and lost it. You smile at the first response and feel unsettled at the second. Why can’t everyone just be happy for you?
Sometimes you have the desire to turn to the last page of the book to see how the story ends. You are tempted to peek, but every time you think about it, a sense of trepidation overcomes you and you wonder if it will change the outcome should you feel brave enough to look. You settle down and become content that the story will unfold as it does.
The sweetest books are those that have been so well loved that they are dog-eared and the pages folded back. The cover may be shredded a bit and the story so familiar that you could recite it in your sleep. Those are the books to be treasured. You may have the same tome for a loving lifetime or might enjoy several throughout the years. Each one is a journal that spells out the choices you have made; desire intermingling with despair, wonder with worry, bliss with boredom. At the end of the story, no matter what the outcome, you will indeed have absorbed knowledge, with the reminder that love is never wasted.
Wishing you an entire library of masterpieces from which you can choose. That’s the story of love~