Tag: SUFFERING

We Start With Suffering, Then We Turn the Page

We Start With Suffering, Then We Turn the Page

Suffering is just the jumping off point. It is the kick in the butt to do something different. We hurt. It motivates us to look for ways to relieve our suffering. We don’t always choose the best fixes. Some are dead ends. Others, however, lead us to places we never imagined going. Surprises await us at every turn. Miracles are born. Veils are lifted. Our sorrow grows into purpose and a broadening of our perspective. We discover there is more buried within than we ever knew. This is the miracle of transformation.

Suffering to Transformation

Yesterday, I read a post by author/memoirist/blogger/writer/friend, contributor to Voices of Wisdom series, Kathy Pooler. The title captured my attention when it appeared on my Facebook page buried among the endless political posts and a reminders of the recent act of terrorism. Turning the Page: A Memoir Moment smacked of hope, at least for me.

TURN THE PAGE

Suffering turn page“Turn the page” became my mantra not all that long ago, when I was at a crisis point in my life. While listening to REO Speedwagon’s song Roll with the Changes on headphones, hoofing it on a health club treadmill, I decided to face my fears and do what I always wanted to do — write. It was time to make some serious changes in my life and each time I heard “So if you’re tired of the same old story, Oh, turn some pages”, I knew I had to accept things I didn’t want to accept and move forward. It was a call to loosen my grip, let the winds of fate take me somewhere unexpected and to risk the journey.

There are things in life we can not change. The past for one. Physical disabilities for another. But, it doesn’t have to be the end of the story.  In fact, it can be the very beginning of a new adventure. Kathy describes with depth of experience and understanding her journey to acceptance and it is more than clear to the reader how much richer her life will be because of it.

We have limitations. But, they need not break us or ruin our lives.  We may start with suffering, but we can end with transformation.


HOPE MATTERS

Finding Hope quotes

WISDOM – WHAT IS IT? #WisdomWednesday

WISDOM – WHAT IS IT? #WisdomWednesday

As a young adult I admired those individuals who emulated wisdom. I read voraciously the words of great writers and teachers who seemed to have an inside tract on the meaning of life. From Kierkegaard, Tillich, C.S. Lewis, Kahlil Gibran, Jesus, Reinhold Niebuhr, Jung, Martin Buber, to Camus, Sartre, Herman Hess, Samuel Beckett, Tolstoy, Solzhenitsyn, Virginia Woolf, I soaked in what I could.  I leaned in hungrily to the words of my professors of philosophy and theology, hoping to find a nugget or two of wisdom that would free me from my suffering. Wisdom . . . a thing I longed for. . . even as it eluded me.

What is wisdom?

Forty five years later, I think I have finally begun to understand the true nature of wisdom. It is not just the gift of insight, although it is that. Nor is it something that shows up on our doorstep, like a Fed Ex delivery. It shows up  in its own time and is something that one recognizes in oneself only in hindsight.

Wisdom
“It’s not what you look at that matters. It’s what you see.” Henry David Thoreau

Wisdom, I believe, is a byproduct of suffering. It is not an award for endurance, although endurance is necessary.  It’s something more. It requires yielding to suffering and allowing it to become our teacher.

Wisdom comes to those who allow the fires of hell to burn down walls of protection in order to see the truth. It does not come to those who insist on wearing masks of denial or pretense. A fundamental ingredient of the wise is the ability to see and speak the Truth regardless of the consequences.

“We can know only that we know nothing. And that is the highest degree of human wisdom.”
Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace   

The wise learn to see themselves and the world through the eyes of truth, not the eyes of their ego.  Wisdom begins to show up precisely when a person sees how much they have left to learn and when they have begun to be willing students of life.  Not a goal to be achieved,  it arrives precisely when one no longer care about being wise.


FINDING HOPE, Quotes for Midlife and Beyond is packed with quotes to guide and support you as you gather wisdom. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed creating it. If so, please leave a review on Amazon and recommend it to a friend! It also makes a great gift for Mother’s Day and special occasions. Thank you, as always, for your support. DS

We Are Not Broken – You Are Not Broken

We Are Not Broken – You Are Not Broken

We Are Not BrokenWelcome to Wisdom Wednesday

Feeling and believing that we are broken or don’t measure up in some way…that we are flawed…inadequate…and in need of fixing…is an illusion. You are not broken. Perfection is a fantasy.  As human beings we have the ability to see, to conceptualize, a more perfect something. It’s an ability that drives us to create and learn and explore. We’ve begun to use this ability to destroy ourselves.

I don’t believe we were born to exploit ourselves or each other, and yet, that is exactly the nature of the life in which we believe ourselves to be trapped. It’s no different from living in a cult. Our culture is a cult. Think of it. Think about how hard it is to go against the norm. We believe in many ways that we are powerless. We are powerless only insofar as we believe we have no choice.

It always comes down to the freedom of choice and seeing our choices clearly. To see them, we must begin to question. We must ask ourselves, and ask often, what do we value? Do our thoughts, beliefs and actions line up? Why do we choose to believe that we are less than?  Why do we choose to believe we need fixing? We are not broken.

 [tweetthis]When we are locked within an illusion, our choices are less visible to us, and we feel powerless. #abuse[/tweetthis]

You are not broken.

We are inundated by messages from a culture that needs us to believe that we are lacking. It wants you to believe you are broken and in need of what they are selling. To the degree that we are buying into what we are being told, we are allowing ourselves to be victimized by the culture we live in. The first step we can make as individuals is to begin to see the illusion, then we can exercise our choice.  Each time we choose to step outside of the illusion and refuse to buy into the mindset that we are lacking, the stronger we become. The stronger we become, the crazier the illusion appears, the easier it is to choose to believe we are not broken.

Life is not easy. In fact, it’s really, really hard sometimes, but one of the biggest deterrents to our sense of well-being is buying into and living within the illusion that we need to be fixed. We create more misery for ourselves by fighting with who and what we are, than any external event that comes into our lives. We are exhausted and without resources to cope with life’s misfortunes.  The mental gymnastics brought on by living within the illusion deplete us and create a life that feels unbearable. 

You are not broken. You, like the rest of us are on a journey of discovery, of learning and growing and exploring. If you are here you are probably on a journey that calls you to dig deeper and to explore what is most essential in life…what is most valuable…what is worth living and dying for. Life itself is the universe’s gift to us. It is up to us value it properly and stop believing that we are broken. 

COMING SOON!!

new eBook/workbook to guide you through the steps necessary to break free from this cycle of illusion and self-condemnation. Be sure to add your name to my mailing and/or stay connected on Facebook/Twitter.

 

 

 

Life Under the Cloud

Life Under the Cloud

I have spent a lifetime battling back the cloud of depression. I can’t pin down exactly when it started, I think perhaps it started in the womb, or is carried forward in my DNA from previous generations of familial women who embodied powerlessness. I came from a lineage of women bound by cultural dictates and personal characteristics that turned them into creatures that were doomed to battle for their soul. This cloud moved in and settled over me, it welled up inside of me and worked as hard as it could to smother me, to take my heart and soul away. I did my utmost best to live a “normal” life, but inside I was dying. I believed at the cellular level that I was flawed and I worked diligently, every day to repair this flaw.

cloud of depression
Digital Editing and Painting by Lente Scura

Depression like the other labels we use for illnesses and conditions that plague us, has become nomenclature that lifts it ever so unwittingly out of the painful reality that it really is.  Terms that seemingly quantify such things, water them down to make treatment manageable, and maybe even bearable, but also allowing doctors, pharmaceutical companies and even therapists to throw a pill or a particular therapeutic model at them, and declare an individual on the road to recovery. All that’s needed is a little tweaking.  How many times did I hear, “You don’t have to suffer.” Well, they were wrong. Apparently I do. And, I did.

I believed them at first. I was a guinea pig for our modern view and treatment for depression. I sought help early and often, from parents, siblings, friends, priests, therapists, professors…I sought help for the pain that I longed to be rid of, a perspective of life that kept me fragmented and disconnected from the best parts of me. I received help for the problems in my life that developed as a result of the thing that lived in me. The word “depression” as a medical/psychological condition was not mentioned to me until I was in my mid to late twenties. It was not a thing people quantified. My mother struggled to say the word, like somehow it had cooties.

In addition to living with the pain caused by the depression and the resulting life choices I made from this core of pain that added to it, I came to believe that I was flawed on so many levels. I lacked willpower, character, strength, determination, intelligence, something!  I stretched out my hands, my mind, my heart, my soul and reached with everything I had for happiness, success, love, freedom and the ability to find peace and be me. It eluded me. Again and again, I tried. God how I tried. I did everything in my power to change. I “pulled myself up by the bootstraps” as my mother used to suggest so many, many times, only to “fail” and find myself back in the blackest of pits.

I began reading self-help books early on…and books like Siddhartha, Waiting for Godot. I listened endlessly to Kahlil Gibran and Rod McKuen. Like everyone else of our generation I read “I’m Okay, You’re Okay” and “Your Erroneous Zones”. I delved into Transcendental Meditation and learning to access my alpha level brain waves. I went on to study psychology, philosophy and theology, absorbing the richness of the writings and theories of Jung, Kierkegaard, Tillich, Niebuhr, Erik Erikson, Piaget, Plato, Socrates and so, so many others. My searching for answers became more refined and I was lifted up by teachers who offered a glimpse at the bigger picture.

I remember the day I caught a glimpse into what has become the foundation for the clinical treatment of depression. As fate or the Universe would have it, I picked up a book that caught my eye in a New York Times Book Review one Sunday morning. It was called  Unfinished Business by Maggie Scarf, and it blew me away.  It made perfect sense and offered me a kind of hope that had heretofore not been offered.

I was 28. I had just completed my M.Div. from Princeton Theological, a three-year degree where I broke with the tradition of the program and focused on learning everything I could about the spiritual/psychological connection. After graduation, my business background combined with my theological education led me to a job with the Gallup Poll where I assisted in setting up their Religion Research Center. Politics and greed being what they are it did not get off the ground and I was no longer needed. I moved from there to a job with another non-profit in the area.  I had my own apartment, was in an on again off again relationship with a guy who had graduated with me and in the mid-west working on his PhD Things were supposed to be good. That was the mask I wore. I worked hard to keep up the front. What could not be seen on the surface was my rapidly disintegrating insides.

Prior to picking up Maggie Scarf’s book, I spent two years with the most respected therapist in the area.  He was head of a cutting edge counseling center sponsored by a wealthy Episcopal Church in the area. In addition, I also sought the counsel of an esteemed professor, who taught me everything I knew at the time about Jung. He was also cutting edge in his field at the time. Known for his depth, compassion, sensitivity and profound insight into the human spirit,  he held a Doctorate from Harvard and had written several books. I had access to an individual who was a giant among men in the world-wide community. Steeped in Jungian psychology and a deeply spiritual man,  he offered me little real help, in spite of his (I have to believe) desire to do so.  The word “depression” was never mentioned in any conversations with either professional.

Maggie Scarf handed me a lifeline. She spoke the word “depression” in a way that resonated.  Not only did she address it head on, she offered suggested treatment options and discussed its impact on women. My excitement was followed by anger. I thought, “If she knows this why don’t these two educated, well-respected professionals know it?” (It didn’t occur to me at the time that maybe it had something to do with the fact that they were men, and depression was overwhelmingly viewed as a woman’s issue).

was so charged up that I purchased a copy of the book for each of these men and mailed it to them with a note, “This book has changed my life. Maybe you’d like to read it.” For the first time since I’d started sought professional help, and after spending money that I didn’t really have, not to mention the days, weeks and years of excruciating pain and believing I was a failure, at last someone spoke directly to the issue. Now, I could find relief. Sadly, it was not to be. My euphoria at having found an “answer” hardly gave me the tools to change what really needed changing. Shortly thereafter I crashed and burned.

I lost my job. I quickly disintegrated into a place where I could not make a decision. About anything. I oscillated between frantically and desperately trying to find help and sitting in the middle of my apartment crying. I was in excruciating pain. Debilitating pain. I barely remember the details. I must have called my parents, because somehow my sister and her husband drove the 2 1/2 hours to my apartment, packed my stuff and deposited me and my belongings on my parent’s doorstep.

I could not eat. I could not sleep. I could not stop crying. I cried all day every day. I lost 30 pounds. My mother sat beside me and cried. That only made me angry. My father went about his business as he always did with little to say. The pain was tremendous. Day after day.  The only thing I remember was falling into the routine of  my parent’s life, breakfast at 8, lunch at noon, dinner at 6. A cup of tea at 4. Bed at 10. Their routine contained me as I cried the tears that would not stop. I was lost in time and space. My life was a cavern of despair with no way out.

Going home, a home that embodied the darkness that lived in me, the silence, the fear, the despair, though far from ideal was likely better than an institution where I would otherwise have been. Apart from the emotional baggage that lived there, the simplicity and structure held me and kept me safe until I was able to find a way out.

And then, I met Sandy.

Why Do We Make Life So Complicated?

Why Do We Make Life So Complicated?

Believe that life is worth living

 

Most of us live and act as if life is a complicated nightmare, a giant puzzle that is up to us to figure out.  I must confess that I enjoy the puzzling, wondering, figuring, learning of it all in my peaceful moments. I do not, however, enjoy the confusion, pain, anxiety and fear that often precipitates it and intensifies as I struggle. The unease, discomfort, and longing to know the why of things drives me toward a deeper understanding of life. It too often drove me through life, leaving me exhausted!  I’ve come to see there is a better way.

The longer I live, the more I understand our complex view of life as an outgrowth of our overactive imaginations focused on the wrong things. We puzzle more over those things we are trying to control than accepting that many things are beyond our control. We fight our finitude. We resist our imperfect nature, as if it is our birthright to have and conquer both.

We make life complicated by our lack of acceptance of what is and our propensity to argue with the laws of nature, the laws of our nature, the laws of the universe. Change is a constant in this universe we live in. It is in our best interest to accept it and figure out what to do with that truth. Sometimes we just have to believe that life is worth living. When we are suffering this is, indeed, a challenge. If, however, we can believe there is value in our suffering, it’s just a little bit easier to bear. Rather than dwelling on the whys and wherefores of our suffering, turning our attention to hope, belief, love and all the blessings that keep us afloat amidst our difficult times offers us a reason to keep sailing toward the sun.

 

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