Tag: personal growth

A Child without Edges

A Child without Edges

art by Molly Brett
Fairy Artwork by Molly Brett – click on image for more info.

A childhood of abuse or neglect sets the stage for an adult who does not know who they are. Healthy boundaries are either a mystery or non-existent. They are either too rigid or too fluid. When we don’t know who we are, we may unconsciously cling to the rules and belief systems that were imposed on us as children, or we borrowed them from an external belief system such as a religion, a political party, or a social group. It gives us a sense of identity and security. It gives us the edges we are unable to create from within as children.

Or, we may exist without edges and live the life of an emotional and psychological amoeba. In this case, we allow whoever or whatever is in our life at any given moment to take up residence within us. We live in a constant state of reaction to, rather than action toward. Never having learned to validate our own wants, needs and desires, we wander aimlessly through life falling victim over and over again to the whims, desires and manipulations of those who don’t hesitate to tell us what our boundaries should be. The child who is ignored, drowned out, or in any other way taught to ignore her own inner voice and guidance, is a child without edges and a child doomed to suffer as an adult.

These two different reactions to abuse are a match made in heaven. They attract one another like iron to a magnet, perpetuating the chain of abuse in an endless dance. The rigid must constantly remind themselves and all with whom they come in contact, of what they believe and who they are. Beneath this drive is the unconscious fear that without constant feedback and validation they would crumble and disintegrate. It’s a life or death activity that keeps the veneer in place.  What better way to do this than to seek out those with porous boundaries, who are looking for their edges, who are willing to be influenced, and who have learned not to question or challenge?

If, however, we have the opportunity to see, sense or become aware of the ember of our real self that still glows in the recesses of our heart and soul, we can begin the exciting, albeit terrifying journey of self-discovery. We must go back and raise ourselves, give ourselves the adult guidance and structure that allows our inner child to blossom.

We once had our very own responses to life. We once had our own thoughts, our own feelings, our own deep physical and emotional expression of all that we are. We can have it again.

The disassociation I experienced after the accident was the most extreme expression of my own disconnection from myself, though it began much earlier. It is an utterly terrifying feeling to be without boundaries, to feel utterly powerless and helpless. How many children feel this way every day of their lives? How many of these children grow up to be deeply troubled adults?

As a victim of abuse or trauma, finding a connection to oneself is an ongoing challenge, but one that is not only essential but worth the effort. When we heal our own suffering, we stop the cycle. It’s time to stop the cycle of abuse.

In Search of My Edges

Still Learning

We Cannot Ignore the Cry

We Cannot Ignore the Cry

embersWe dig beneath the surface of our pain not only to eliminate the pain, but to grow into and beyond it; to discover who we are in the corner of our heart left unattended as life passed by. We grow weary of living on the surface, of trying to catch up with the cultural ego or our own, of trying to be something we are not.

The pain is a reminder. It teaches and instructs us. It tells us where to look, what needs our attention. An ember burns within each of us, a smoldering, glowing energy that calls to us, sometimes in a whisper, sometimes in a scream. It speaks our name. It knows us. It understands us, and it will not abandon us.

We can ignore its cry. We can drown out its voice with the loud, crashing sound of a carefully constructed external reality. We can numb it with each and every one of a myriad of addictive behaviors…both small and large…dampen it, drive it down, imagine it is gone as we turn our heads away to binge on cookies, or computers, or anger, or work, or fear, or exercise, or friends, or talking, or worrying, or…..we run away. Like children, we put our fingers in our ears or hide under the dining room table.

Or…or until…we rise up, shake off  the shackles of denial, of fear and open our arms and our hearts to that great something…and with each breath we take, we breathe the breath of life into it, watching the flame grow and burn once again or for the first time…hot and fierce forging strength and courage and a boldness we never knew we had.

We dig beneath the surface of our pain not only to eliminate the pain, but to grow strong and bold and wise, and fully present to that we value.

The Willingness to Face Our Pain

The Willingness to Face Our Pain

Image by Trevor Pottelberg
Image by Trevor Pottelberg

 

“Retreating into yourself to find purpose can be like straddling a dock and a boat that is moving away. We are pulled in opposite directions by the intense desire of the mind for human involvement and the equally intense need of the soul for its own company. In the sheer immensity of solitude, when one can no longer draw energy from external sources, we come to see how much of what we habitually call being productive is merely the evasion of sitting still and meeting what is most difficult for us to receive with compassion — our own pain.”
Dawna Markova  from her book I Will Not Live An Unlived Life: Reclaiming Passion and Purpose 
 
Sitting on the edge of freedom, unable to step foot into the unknown, we are terrified of the fear that wells up inside of us. When we even consider stepping forward, something calls us quickly and urgently back into the known. Our fear is mistaken as a dark and dismal warning to run away. To hide. To pretend we didn’t really catch a glimpse of the light or truly want to meet ourselves and embrace our truth. We wear masks to protect ourselves from ourselves. Why do we do this?
 
Change is difficult. Change is challenging. If anyone tells you otherwise they are fooling you, and chances are good that if you think change was easy in the past,  it really wasn’t change at all, at least not the kind that Dawna Markova and I are talking about, change that brings your life into alignment with your true self and all that you have been called upon to contribute. Real change is inner transformation, and above all else it requires solitude and a face to face meeting with ourselves.
 
The most terrifying part of change is this face to face meeting – for it requires meeting our pain. We cannot change if the shadows of the past have us in their clutches, directing our choices and our actions. We will only carry the darkness into the future and rest assured, the pain will be a constant reminder, appearing again and again until we face it, embrace it and put it to rest.
 
The fear of change is our unwillingness to face our pain. To walk toward it. To let it come to the surface. After all, we have spent so much time and energy pushing it aside, pretending it isn’t there, shoving it deep down inside of ourselves, layering mask upon mask over top of it.  It takes some serious excavating to even find it, and then….when we do….we believe we will have to suffer the excruciating pain all over again. 
 
This time, however, the pain is like the lancing of a wound. Oh, it hurts when the knife begins to break the skin, but the pain feels like healing, not dying. As the wound drains, as the pain pours forth, there is great release and relief. It is different. It is not like the original wounding, it sets us free and once we are on our way, it even propels us forward. We begin to understand the necessity of the healing process and the great rewards that come with it.
 

Are you allowing your wounds to drain? Or, are they festering under layers of protection? Real change not only takes a willingness to step forward and meet the challenges, it often requires support of many kinds along the way. You need not go it alone. If you are looking for guidance, support or direction for your journey, get in touch with me. I may be able to help. AgingAbundantly@gmail.com

Living with Mental Illness and Surviving Suicide – One Mother’s Story

Living with Mental Illness and Surviving Suicide – One Mother’s Story

Leaving the Hall Light On  A Mother’s Memoir of Living with Her Son’s Bipolar Disorder and Surviving His Suicide is the powerful, heart wrenching story of one women’s journey through 17 years of heartbreak and struggle. It is a story of strength and courage, creative genius and despair. Madeline shares her confusion and anger, her hope and disappointment as she recounts the events that led to her son’s ultimate suicide, and along the way the reader has an up close and personal introduction to this debilitating disease and its effect on a family. I came away from this book with a new depth of understanding and compassion for all who are and have been touched by serious mental illness. It’s message has lingered long after the initial reading. It will broaden your perspective and awareness and for that reason alone, this is an important book.

In addition, Madeline is our peer. A woman of our generation and experience who tells her story, not only as a part of her healing journey but, to inform and support others who are struggling with a similar challenge. Whether or not you have someone in your life who suffers from mental illness, there is not a one of us who has not witnessed its destruction, most recently in the shocking and unexpected death of Robin Williams.  We long for understanding. We search for hope. Perhaps together, by raising awareness, we can find a cure, a satisfactory treatment, or at the very least, an opening of our hearts in support of one another.

Madeline Sharples

Although Madeline Sharples worked for most of her professional life as a technical writer and editor, grant writer, and proposal manager, she fell in love with poetry and creative writing in grade school. She pursued her writing interests in high school while studying journalism and writing for the high school newspaper, and she studied journalism in college. However, she only began to fulfill her dream to be a professional writer later in life.

In addition to Leaving the Hall Light On, Madeline co-authored Blue-Collar Women: Trailblazing Women Take on Men-Only Jobs (New Horizon Press, 1994) a book about women in nontraditional professions and co-edited the poetry anthology, The Great American Poetry Show, Volumes 1 (Muse Media, 2004) and 2 (2010). Her poetry accompanies the work of photographer Paul Blieden in two books, The Emerging Goddess and Intimacy as well as appearing in print and online on many occasions.

Madeline is now a full-time writer and is working on her next book, a novel, based in the 1920s. She and Bob, her husband of 40+ years, live in Manhattan Beach, California, a small beach community south of Los Angeles.

Connect with Madeline online: 

Visit her website: http://madelinesharples.com/

On Facebook: Madeline Sharples

On Twitter: @madeline40

On G+

Spaces

Spaces

Helle Summer houseI began to think about “spaces” this morning after reading a post by Laurie, one of my favorite bloggers. She is blessed with an abundance of courage and enthusiasm for life. She and her husband recently picked up and moved from the Midwest to Boise, ID. This is a popular and growing trend among boomer retirees.

Laurie continues to entertain her followers with her adventures and today she announced that she has a new temporary home in Boise, in a lovely carriage house. Her enthusiasm was palpable but it carried with something ore than simply living in an interesting place. The “something more” was captured in these words: “My writing space is phenomenal!….this gorgeous view has triggered a spurt of fiction writing.” 

There is something powerful about spaces, both the ones we live and work in, and the ones that show up unexpectedly in a quiet moment, or between activities.  Our homes are more than an artistic expression of who we are, though they are that. They are filled with energy. Sometimes this energy is positive and creativity inducing, sometimes the opposite is true. Too often we choose to ignore our sense of this energy, if we even notice it at all. Instead, we choose spaces out of necessity, circumstances, budget constraints, practicality, thinking perhaps we have no choice, opting not to notice.

Does your living space inspire you, energize you, invite you to expand yourself, your creativity, your life?

As a highly sensitive person I have lived more by the sensory field around me than by my brains. (My husband will testify to that!) It has not always been the case. I tried for many years to do what “everybody” thought I should do, and/or what was good for everybody else. Be practical. Be responsible. Be normal. Buy a house with enough room for the kids and the aging parents. Make sure it’s in a good location, good school district, and with good resale value. Above all, it must be affordable.

What about the feel of the house?

The spaces that dot are days, those moments when nothing is demanding our attention, either from the inside or the outside, are an opportunity to discover our interior space. Our interior space will not demand our attention, but it is there waiting and always present. It too is a source of powerful energy. It is the place where our truest self resides, our creative, soul self. In just the same way we often block these spaces from our conscious awareness. We override them with activity and to-do- lists. We stuff them down with food or mind numbing activity.

What is lost when we avoid our interior space?

Tuning in to the “spaces” in our lives, both on the inside and the outside, is an essential practice when engaging in the transformation process. Every thing we need to know exists within us. We simply have to choose to pay attention to the signals and clues that are already present and waiting for us.

Embrace Your Child’s Heart

Embrace Your Child’s Heart

"Little Magic" by Susie Pryor Oil on Canvas 40 x 36
“Little Magic” by
Susie Pryor
Oil on Canvas 40 x 36

The midlife transformation that begins in earnest at fifty, and that many of us have already spent a decade or more navigating, is a turning point for many. The dark, confusing period of time, during which everything around us is shifting,  is so disconcerting that it drives us every day, with much earnestness, to examine ourselves and our lives. Have we been living in accordance with our deepest beliefs? What are our beliefs? What governs the decisions we make and the steps we take each day?

The process of questioning is the first step in the reconfiguration of our perspectives and, subsequently, our lives. It’s a tremendous opportunity to delve deeper into our hearts and souls, deeper than we may ever have gone before.  The journey teaches us everything we need to know to begin to discover and to practice new thoughts attitudes and patterns of behavior that will bring us closer to becoming the wise women we were born to be.

My journey led me back to my original self, the unique individual that was born so many years ago, but was never allowed to exist. There is such a clear connection to myself as a child that it is almost eerie. We think, or I used to think, that that child was not wise, nor was her personality formed.  I was wrong. That child held as much wisdom, if not more, than this woman does sixty years later.

Discovering the wise child that lived in us then, and reconnecting with her now, can be an informative and valuable process. The untainted beliefs, abilities, dreams and hopes that she held are still very much alive today. We may have just forgotten them, or buried them, or replaced them with our culture’s beliefs, or our families.

Reconnect with your child heart, by closing your eyes and going inside. Spend a few moments breathing deeply and relaxing. When you feel calm, remember back to a happy moment in your childhood. Allow your adult to spend some time talking with your child. Ask her questions. Ask her what she is thinking about, and what is important to her. Get acquainted.

Repeat this exercise often. Give her what she needs. Be the parent she needed then. Listen to her heart. Together you can heal each other and carry her wisdom forward into today.

No matter where you are on the midlife transformation journey, there’s is something to learn from our inner child.

Dorothy Sander © 2013

WE HAVE THE KEY

LISTEN TO YOUR HEART