Tag: relationships

STORIES OF COURAGE & SURVIVAL– ABUSE — Women of Wisdom Series™

STORIES OF COURAGE & SURVIVAL– ABUSE — Women of Wisdom Series™

abuse
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As part of The Women of Wisdom Series™, I am introducing three memoirs, each addressing the issue of abuse. Though the stories are different, the message is in many ways the same.  Each memoir sheds light on the impact of abuse on us and provides lessons in survival. The women describe their journeys from a place of strength and courage, characteristics they undoubtedly honed through their difficulties.

These women are people just like you and I and what I love about memoirs. Thanks to modern technology, and the increase of Indy Publishing, we are able to see into the lives of everyday people  It’s so exciting  that women are stepping up, one by one, and sharing their stories. They benefit from the telling, we benefit from the listening.

We all can learn from an author with a compelling story to tell. It doesn’t matter whether or not the book is worthy of a literary award. What matters is what we take away. Memoirs by women over fifty to speak to the courage, fortitude, persistence and enduring love, characteristics that the women of our time, and our generation, exhibit every day . These stories give me courage. The author’s endurance gives me hope. Memoirs help us make sense of our own lives.

Women have suffered enormous wounding at the hands of those who had power over them. I count myself among the survivors and like most women who carry scars, we continue to learn a little more each day how to thrive. Like Kelly Clarkson reminds us, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” … and I might add much, much wiser.

COMING NEXT WEDNESDAY: “Harvesting Wisdom” by author Joan Rough

[tweetthis]Throughout history women have been abused. It has not only made them stronger, but wiser.[/tweetthis]

 

abuseEVER FAITHFUL TO HIS LEAD:  My Journey Away from Emotional Abuse by Kathleen Pooler

Ever Faithful to His Lead: My Journey Away from Emotional Abuse is a compelling read written by a strong and courageous woman. Pooler’s story drew me in from page one and held my attention to the end.  She paints a clear  picture of her life as a victim and the inherent quagmire of confusion, denial, hope, despair, anger, self-recrimination, and blame that naturally ensues.  Pooler never wallows in the angst of it all, rather draws her readers into her quest for understanding, truth and freedom from victim-hood.

Women who came of age in the fifties and sixties were taught to be obedient, faithful, caring, helpmates to their spouse – we were taught to be “ever faithful to his lead”. We also were growing day by day in self-awareness and learning to value ourselves as intelligent, creative, capable people.

Breaking free of abusive relationships became, during our generation, more possible and doable than ever before. Kathy Pooler is one such woman and tells her story, in a clear and steady style that co-mingles her challenges with her emerging understanding.

Pooler just touches on the role her roots of faith played in her emancipation.  I’m sure she will have much more to say about this in her next memoir, now in progress.

Connect with Kathleen Pooler.

 

abuse GHOST NO MORE: A True Story of Child Abuse and Rescue by Cee Cee James

Cee Cee James tells a heartbreaking story without a trace of self-pity. The account of her life as a child in a home without love will rock your world and renew your faith in the power of the human spirit to survive.

A little girl, desperate for her mother’s love, Cee Cee James brings us into the day-to-day world of the child victimized by a parent. We experience the workings of the child’s mind struggling to survive emotional and physical abuse.  James reveals through the lens of her story the sad truth that children will suffer enormous abuse at the hands of a parent and still strive to win acceptance, approval and most of all love – even when it is never, ever forthcoming.  It broke my heart to see this little girl take the tiniest hope and run with it, only to see it dashed against the rocks of a woman’s inability to love her child.

As difficult as this book was to read, I could not put it down. The life force in this little girl was so strong and fierce and carried me forward to the end.

MORE BOOKS BY CEE CEE JAMES

 

 

 

 

abuseCONFLICTED HEARTS: A Daughter’s Quest for Solace from Emotional Guilt by D.G. Kaye

A girl’s relationship with her mother lasts a lifetime, but it is often not until we reach midlife that the complexity of a difficult connection comes into focus. What we come to believe about ourselves as adults through our interactions with our mother’s as children, is often not an accurate reflection of who we really are. This conflict, this inner disparity, either drives us toward disintegration or the truth.

D.G. Kaye took on this battle. In her book, Conflicted Hearts, she shares her story as she struggles to come to terms with her challenging and complex relationship with a mother she both loved and despised. It is a journey that all of us can relate to in one way or another. Kaye writes with honesty, candor, humor and courage as she peels back the layers and gains understanding and perspective. In the end we not only learn about the author, we learn about ourselves and may even come to see our own mother/daughter relationship a more clearly.

Sit down with a cup of coffee or tea, and enjoy this journey into one woman’s world. When you put down the book, you will feel as though you’ve gained a friend.

Connect with D.G. Kaye

 

 

 

 

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More Posts of Interest

You Are Not Broken

Mask of Perception – When Things Are Not As They Seem

There’s No Such Thing As A Perfect Marriage/Relationship

There’s No Such Thing As A Perfect Marriage/Relationship

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I continue to be surprised by women over fifty who are still looking for that perfect someone. I admit that I might be doing the same under different circumstances, but I have been in a marriage for thirty-four years and I’ve learned that what is often said is true. There’s no such thing as a perfect marriage. There’s no such thing as a perfect relationship.  Perfection is a construct, one of the shadows many of us live under that draws us away from the truth. If we are dissatisfied with our relationship(s) it’s an indication that it’s time to take a deep, hard look at ourselves. Relationships push us harder than anything else in life to dig deep and dig often into who we really are and to own what we know to be true. It requires that we be honest with ourselves.  Honesty supersedes resentment. When resentment builds we are in a mindset that falsely believes that another is the cause of our unhappiness.  If it weren’t for you, then I’d be fine. Passing the buck leads to many divorces, I suspect.

It is as difficult to be joyous, peaceful, and comfortable with another human being as it is to be do so on one’s own. We cannot and will not be at peace with another until or unless we are at peace with ourselves. Therein lies the challenge of marriage. Marriage take honesty, self-esteem, courage, the willingness to be vulnerable and the ability to bear the shame of making a mistake. It takes telling the truth, owning our own feelings and beliefs even when they are not pretty; it requires taking a good look at who we are as individuals and what we create together. It’s staying committed to riding the waves and surviving the storms…together.  We are surprised when we find that many of the storms are taking place within the relationship, within the dynamics of two people just trying to love and understand one another. We come to the erroneous conclusion that something is fundamentally wrong with the relationship when this happens.  It is quite likely that there is something wrong with our relationship with ourselves.

There are dynamics in every relationship, both good and bad. We like the same movies, we hate that the other leaves his/her shoes in the middle of the living room for us to trip over. We love his courage, strength and commitment to his work; we hate that he doesn’t have the self-confidence to own all that he is. It bugs us more if we are not owning all that we are. It irritates us more if we also leave our shoes lying around.

We may see our spouses flaws more readily than we see their strengths when we are feeling out of sorts. When life is good, so are they. I have always encouraged my friends to seek love – endlessly if they have to – because I believe in love. I am committed to love in all avenues of my life. But, love is not always what we think it is when we’re in the midst of our longing. I used to fall in love regularly, with people, ideas, fads, movies. Love came easily to me. Enthusiasm for something thrilling swept me away. I dove head first into new endeavors for the love of it – for the way a new idea made me feel. I needed to feel good to help alleviate the pain.  This feeling of being caught up in, enamored by, infatuated with is a wonderful feeling, but it is a bit of a psychosis.  It has all of the same characteristics. In other words, we are not seeing reality in those moments. We are not seeing the whole picture. I believe we should savor these moments, though I experience them less often than I did in my younger days, perhaps because my pain is not quite as deep, but we must not depend on them. We must mourn their loss when the ride is over and move onto a deeper, richer connection.

When looking for a long-term relationship it will always be the friendship that two people have, the genuine knowing of one another that carries them through. Not the sparks, the great sex, or the feelings of love. Feelings of love are elusive, as all feelings are. They are not a reliable source of commitment, nor will they always be present to guide us through the rough patches. When we look in another’s eyes and see our self, our soul reflected back to us, then we have everything we need to carry us forward. It is not a look of infatuation, of adoration, or a glassy-eyed connection. It is an honesty that makes us feel vulnerable, scared even, but true. Most of us never dare to really look at another and experience them looking deeply at us. In long-term relationships, really looking at one another falls by the wayside as habits of connection take its place. This is a mistake. We must look often and look long. This is how we stay connected to the heart of the relationship itself. It is how we stay connected to our vulnerability. That is where the truth lies in every relationship.

Still Learning

Still Learning

HydrangeaWhen I stop and close my eyes and breathe in what peace I can find around me…in the breezes that blow, the hum of the chime as the air lifts it in song…I find fear when I want desperately to find comfort. It is a hard journey finding my way out of fear. It nips at my heals and haunts me at every turn. Just when I think I’ve escaped it, it’s back sitting beside me on a quiet evening.

I’m surrounded by beauty. Lush green trees, fields of grass, the sun low in the sky casting its golden touch across everything. The mountain air is fresh and the smell of boxwood lingers on the breeze. There’s everything to be grateful for and yet, I want to run away, to hide, to stop trying, to stop yearning to be something. I want to rest and be satisfied. I want to be enough just as I am.

But the fear awakens my fight or flight response and makes me want to move, to do, to try again, and yet, I know it won’t work this time either. Running frantically never does. The fear locks me in its trance and mounting desperation clings to my throat.

Fear, or more precisely, the feeling of not being safe takes over and when I look deeply into its eyes. I realize the feeling is more that I don’t know how to protect myself. The unknown is shapeless and threatening. My edge-less, boundary-less being seems only to be able to lie in wait, vulnerable to any attack, and there’s no way of knowing from which direction it will come.

I am still learning. Still defining myself and learning to live from within. Still seeking my edges, my truth, while standing in love. New lessons come almost every day, as long as I stand open to change and movement and learning.

Knowing where we begin and end, and where another begins and ends, is a lesson that most wounded children must learn. Wounding causes one to put up barriers of protection, to pull back within oneself, to create false facades to fool the oppressor, which once defined morphs into the planet at large. As children, we feared. I feared. I feared the utter alone-ness that became my constant companion.  Not known, not allowed to acknowledge what I saw in others. Isolation. Annihilation.  I learned to pretend that I was wrong and they were right so as not to feel alone.

To begin to speak one’s truth, to state clearly what one knows to be true is to begin to find our edges. To stand up for that truth as we grow stronger, to state ever more clearly what we see and know and experience and our edges stronger. It’s one thing to know oneself. It’s another entirely to bring it forth into the world.

And the process of healing continues. For a lifetime, or longer.

Married or Single – A Reality Check

Married or Single – A Reality Check

10308756_10152020030026637_832718966636061706_nI’ve lost more than one close friend because I was married and my friend was either not married, or divorced. There seems to be an unspoken and clumsily resurrected wall placed by women of our generation between the married and the unmarried; an unspoken ambivalence of sorts that keeps us from communicating openly and honestly about relationships. I find it disheartening. We have so much to learn from one another.

Yesterday, was my 32nd anniversary. It was a day that I couldn’t help but think about all the anniversaries that have gone before, the years leading up to this particular day. I love my husband and he loves me, this is true, but we both got what we asked for in our marriage…and it wasn’t a Hallmark movie.

I, like most young women in the sixties and seventies, was swept away by the idea of romance and love and that perfect someone.  I wanted the “happily ever after”, a “soul mate”, a champion of my cause, a knight in shining armor. I wanted him to love me for exactly who I am, find me beautiful, desirable, brilliant, witty, clever and utterly irresistible, no matter how I looked or behaved. I was sure I would feel the same about him. We would live and love blissfully ever after, raise perfect children and change the world with our love.

Or, I thought that’s what I wanted. The narrative was indelibly imprinted in my imagination from Cinderella to Love Story, and this woman with an overactive imagination and a hidden addiction to symbolism, fell prey to an idea that propelled me through one bad relationship after another.

At twenty-nine I found myself broken into tiny little bits and left dying by the side of the road. (Well, in a manner of speaking!) Inside and out, the dream I was chasing had slipped through my fingers and let me down….big time.  All around me friends were marrying and having children, chasing careers and living my dream…only they weren’t.

During that year I decided that if I was not married by the time I was thirty I would end it all, (a dramatic challenge to the love gods). The point was I could not let go of my desire to love and be connected to another human being in some rich and meaningful way and I was pretty sure the only way that was possible was by following my imagined destiny.

As the clock ticked away, I pulled myself up off the pavement and, to the best of my ability, started living my own life. What else was there to do? I learned something during that year. I learned for the first time that I was okay alone. In fact, I was more than okay alone. I was enough. The life I was living was a life worth living, partnered or not. I began to feel an inner strength I didn’t know I had.

It was precisely the moment I let go of my obsession with the Hallmark dream that I turned around to see my destiny, my honest-to-goodness soul mate standing right beside me already.  How many hours had we spent discussing our “relationship” problems (with other partners), our hopes and dreams, our desire to be better, happier people? He knew exactly who I was, and I knew exactly who he was, even as we were not as familiar with ourselves.

In that single moment of awareness my heart skipped a beat. It was a new kind of giddy that far surpassed the tongue-tied awe I felt with previous potentials. This man was not an idea, he was a person and I knew he was my destiny. What I didn’t know was what was in store for us over the next thirty-two years. Again, it was not a Hallmark movie, but it was our destiny, our desire, our commitment to life, love and the pursuit of happiness.

Again and again over the course of our marriage we have each had to surrender our stubborn obsession with unrealistic beliefs about what the perfect relationship and marriage looks like. Again and again we had to find ourselves before we could find each other. It has not been easy. Nothing about it has been easy.

There have been times when divorce looked a whole lot easier and when being alone sounded like nirvana. It was during those times that I was most saddened by my divorced friends who had no compassion or ability to put their arm around me because they were so convinced that my life was better than theirs and that even a difficult marriage was preferable to divorce. I found myself pulling away because of the resentment I felt from them and the guilt I felt from me.

It’s too bad, because in all truth people are people, and how we connect with ourselves, our lives, and each other is what’s important, not who we may crawl into bed with at night. Ultimately, we all just want to love and be loved. How we go about doing so is just in the details. Marriage is just a detail of how we go about loving and allowing ourselves to be loved. And, don’t bring up sex. There is a whole lot more bad sex among married couples, than good. If we don’t know how to deeply love and accept ourselves, we can’t go beneath the surface sexually for sure, and superficial sex is pretty gosh darn empty.

So my wonderful single and divorced friends, perhaps you can begin to see that your hard-done-to complex is not much different from many married women’s hard-done- to complex, and as such, should be the warning flag that it is. Feeling sorry for ourselves is a way of abdicating responsibility for our own happiness and well-being. When we feel sorry for ourselves, when we feel resentment toward others because they appear to be happy, or guilt because of someone else’s expectations or ideas of us, we are living with the false belief that something, or someone, outside of ourselves is responsible for our happiness. This is the false belief that will continue to keep us miserable until we take back the steering wheel of our life.

Dorothy Sander 2014 copyright

 

 

 

 

Devotion is a Gift of Aging

Devotion is a Gift of Aging

Devotion is a gift of aging.
Devotion is a gift of aging.

When I see elderly couples together it warms my heart. Whether they are husband and wife, or friends walking arm in arm offering support and comfort to one another, I am lifted up. Aging doesn’t have to be a lonely, miserable venture. It can be a time of building trust and lowering our defenses as we come face to face with our utter humanity.

Our culture is one that reveres independence. It heralds the valiant individualist. Women of our generation, in particular, fought hard to gain respect as individuals. We worked diligently to stand on our own two feet and not be depending on a man for our survival. We are a generation who is fiercely independent. Perhaps that is why we feel so threatened by the aging process.

We fear aging because we fear that sickness or frailty will rob us of the  independence we fought so hard to achieve.  We will become dependent on someone, or something other than ourselves. We will, in the end, somehow not be able to be there for ourselves.

Independence has its value, but what we really sought was the freedom to live up to our fullest potential as people, regardless of our gender. Independence, self-sufficiency was often a mask we wore to make sense of the surge of power with which we were not yet comfortable. We had to pretend we knew what we were doing because we didn’t. We were learning.

Perhaps the lesson to be learned as we age is how utterly interdependent we are as human beings, and how fortunate we are to be thus. Love and devotion, tolerance, sympathy, empathy, compassion are beautiful things to experience, both coming in and going out. It is our interdependence that provides the richness and texture to life. It’s not Hollywood perfect, but sharing life with another person in any given moment is rich, meaningful, and often even necessary.

As we age and lose our ability to maintain our independence we have the opportunity to learn humility, respect, gratitude and trust. What wonderful lessons to be learned.

© Dorothy Sander 2013

IT’S EASIER TO BE HAPPY WHEN….

CHOOSING THE REAL YOU

The Fear of Love

The Fear of Love

We have all been wounded.  Many of us bear the deep scars of a less than perfect childhood. Perhaps our parents didn’t, or couldn’t love us the way we needed to be loved, alas, the way all children deserve to be loved. Or, maybe another person or experience left a mark on our psyche or heart so painful that we put in place cleverly devised layers of protection to keep us safe from future harm.

Self-protection has its benefits, but it also has its dangers. The longer we live and the more we have loved and lost, the more likely we are to be weighed down by our own cleverness. We may even feel smug about our ability to “carry on” in spite of life’s eventualities, or to turn the other cheek with increasing ease. We may, in fact, simply be numb.

If you look into the face of an innocent child who was loved into awakening, you will see the wide-eyed innocence of easy trust, acceptance and love…a love that flows freely without boundaries or limitations or expectations.  That once was us.

We may never be able to go back to the point of perfect innocence, but if we dare, we can choose to stare down our fears, choose to open our hearts and choose to love again.  We can decide to no longer let the past control our willingness to open our hearts today. We have surely reached the point in our lives where we can trust our ability to survive hurt and loss. We have done it many times before. We may know the pain that open, trusting, unsuspecting love can bring, but we also know its deep abiding  joy and life-giving power as well.

We owe it to ourselves and to those who come into our lives today to keep taking the risk to love and be loved. It is the only real way to know the fullness of life. After all, as the song says, “it is the heart afraid of breaking, that never learns to dance”.

 “The Rose”

Some say love, it is a river
that drowns the tender reed.
Some say love, it is a razor
that leaves your soul to bleed.
Some say love, it is a hunger,
an endless aching need.
I say love, it is a flower,
and you its only seed.

It’s the heart afraid of breaking
that never learns to dance.
It’s the dream afraid of waking
that never takes the chance.
It’s the one who won’t be taken,
who cannot seem to give,
and the soul afraid of dyin’
that never learns to live.

When the night has been too lonely
and the road has been to long,
and you think that love is only
for the lucky and the strong,
just remember in the winter
far beneath the bitter snows
lies the seed that with the sun’s love
in the spring becomes the rose.