July 4th: Refusing to be a Victim

Piha, New Zealand

Lately, I have been participating in a roll that I had hoped to never play again: the victim to someone’s punisher.

It was a roll I often found myself in during my marriage, and then my divorce, and it was not a role I relished.

My husband used to punish me for the smallest infractions:

If I was late for any given reason, even if it was an unforeseeable event that had caused my tardiness, he would punish me by either brooding over what he saw as a disrespect to him personally, an infraction, a slight, on my part or choose to take his attention… time… away from me to prove his point until he was sure that I had been wounded in return.

If I shared feelings with him that made him feel uncomfortable. If I had needs or concerns or tried to express my anger or frustration calmly and logically, he accused me of ruining his day… his mood… and I would find myself apologizing for even bringing things up.

This did not keep an open path of communication between us.

It was a form of mental terrorism that kept me in my place.

Because of his punishing behavior, we were never able to work as a team…. to find a relationship that worked for both of us…. to set goals and find a way to accept each other totally.

And as the victim, I time-and-time again swallowed my own feelings and needs while being left emotionally and often physically… abandoned.

Today, when I find myself falling into the Victim role…. I do several things:

I speak to a trusted friend who will help me work through my emotions.

I allow time to pass and my emotions to cool before I address the issue.

I then hold my ground and express my needs in hopes that we will be able to amend the situation.

And I have learned, if I feel that I have done everything in my power out of love and respect to change the dynamic and remedy the situation yet the cycle continues, then maybe it is time for me to rethink the relationship and allow some space to bring me clarity.

“Dear God, help me to step out of old patterns that no longer serve me. Help me not to take on another person’s issues and to stay working firmly on my side of the street.”

July 3rd: Doing the Footwork

Karekare Beach, New Zealand After grieving the loss of my marriage, and accepting that divorce was inevitable, I began the arduous task of spiritual footwork. I knew that if I chose to resign myself to my fate, and not look at my part in things, that nothing would really change in my life. I would be the same person and most likely end up gravitating to the same type of relationship. It was important for me to take a fearless moral inventory and have a willingness to change. My willingness appeared when I relinquished the illusion of control and accepted the idea that maybe my Higher Power was trying to get me out of my own way. That maybe… there was a better plan for me on the horizon if I would just let go and have faith. By allowing myself this attitude adjustment, and admitting that maybe my plan was not the best plan, things began to change in my favor almost immediately. It started with small moments of clarity and growth. And as my self-esteem returned, my willingness grew, and I became witness to my progress. My days became full of clarity and growth. Footwork is not easy. It is difficult to look at feelings, work through issues, admit wrongs, analyze character defects, but today… I am a stronger person because of my commitment to be willing, to have faith, and to work on cleaning up “my side of the street.” – “Dear God, help me to accept that my life is in progress. Help me to move forward with my spiritual footwork and have faith in your plan.”

July 2nd: Taking Care of Myself

July 2nd Once during my divorce, I was in the company of a a group of  people who were known to be “care-takers.” We were all laughing, basically making fun of our own character flaws, when someone said, “I knew I was a caretaker when I bought new underwear and socks for everyone in the family except me yet my own socks and underwear were full of holes and ripped elastic.” We all stopped laughing, paused and looked at him… at first he thought he had really shared something inappropriate but after a moment, everyone started laughing again and pulling ripped elastic underwear bands up over their skirt top or pant top, as each and everyone of us showed him some type of destroyed under garment. That day, when I got home, I looked around and noted that everything in my life was in shambles and that I had not been taking care of myself because I was so focused on the despair of my divorce. I soon came to the realization that if I was not taking care of myself, I would be unable to really make headway in my spiritual footwork and ultimately move through and past my pain to become a stronger individual, ready for a new life and maybe even a new love. I immediately emptied my drawers of my worn out clothing, made my bed, straightened my home, showered and then began to put my paperwork in order before calling a friend to head out to the park and go on a walk with me. Taking care of myself, physically, mentally, emotionally is important to my overall well-being and if I choose to neglect myself, I will not be at my best to handle life… or specifically… a crisis. By taking care of myself I put “first things first” and in that way… I can be there for those I love, in particular, my children, who need to see that I can “feel” during a difficult time in my life but also that I can “maintain” a sense of balance when my world has been upended. – “Dear God, help me to take care of myself. Help me to set things right in my own world when I am feeling out of control or full of fear during a crisis.”

July 1st: Anger

July 1st Anger

During my marriage I found that it was never truly safe for me to express anger.

Each time I would try to share my feelings, my husband would become defensive, angry, and soon… I would be apologizing for upsetting him.

We went on this way for years with nothing really being accomplished… nothing changing… it was frustrating for me to feel that I wasn’t being heard.

Each time he would deflect my anger I found myself becoming furious until finally, at the boiling point, I would bubble over and spew every hurtful word I could think of to show my frustration.

And what would happen then?

Things would become even worse because once I had expressed my anger inappropriately, I was full of shame and despair regarding my verbally abusive behavior.

Today I know that if I express my anger rationally, and someone chooses to fight from their shadow self, that it is not “on me.”

It is best not to take it personally but step away from the situation and give them time to think it through.

If they choose not to address my issue… then I can make choices to protect myself and change the boundaries of the relationship if necessary.

“Dear God, help me to express my anger appropriately. If I have concerns and frustrations let me share them with a calm mind and with pure intentions to make things right.”

June 30th: Caretaking

natural-arch-big-sur-california

A very well-known spiritual speaker once said at a lecture:

“We love to get in the cage with the gorilla. We climb right in and try to take care of all the problems and then wonder why our arms and legs are being ripped off.”

I remember laughing at the thought of it and also the reality: I was doing this almost every day at that time.

I was trying to take care of everyone and everything around me, with no thought for my own well-being, and then wondering why my life was in such a total shambles and why every time I looked in the mirror I found a woman who was worn and frazzled.

To be a nurturer, to be caring, compassionate, empathetic is a gift and a characteristic of myself I value greatly. I feel fortunate to have been raised to think of others when they are in need.

However, I must let other people do what they can for themselves, and accept that if I jump in too quickly and try to “save the day” I am robbing them of their own learning lessons and robbing myself of balance.

“Dear God, help me to allow others to grow. Help me to nurture without over-stepping my boundaries.”

June 29th: Is it Really that Important?

June 29th Though my divorce was a very painful experience, it taught me a lot about when it was appropriate to react and when it was better to let go. In my marriage, I often reacted immediately… instead of calming my mind and waiting to decide how important the problem really was. I would constantly get worked up about things that wouldn’t even be remembered 24 hours later. I allowed my resentments, my emotions, to constantly rule my words and actions. A good friend, at the time, told me to take just a moment before reacting and say to myself, “How important is it?” before calling someone out. I was amazed at how many times I was being nit picky, judgmental, really just saying something to say it or using my words as a way of holding my illusion of control. I started to see my character flaws appear in each scenario and I didn’t like it. Today, I still sometimes react without thinking but more often than not, I hold my tongue and wait to allow time and clarity to set in before speaking. – “Dear God, help me to let go of the little things and stay focused on more important matters.”

June 28th: A Moment of Clarity

June 28th

It amazes me how I will struggle so hard and for so long with a particular problem and suddenly, when I least expect it, comes a moment of clarity. It appears in my own “aha!” thought or… in the words of a dear friend or… an image I see on TV… something… anything… that somehow drives me to finally connect the dots. When it happens I always feel like saying to myself, “I can’t believe you didn’t see this sooner” but the truth is… without the journey… there is no moment of clarity. It is a series of events that leads me to that moment and it is my Higher Power that brings me to clarity exactly when I am ready to accept it.

“Dear God, help me to be aware and in the moment so that when clarity finally arrives… I am willing to move on and away from my past problems.”