Archive | November 2017

November 10th: Self-Preservation

There have been times in my life when I knew absolutely… that I must walk away from a relationship.

Walking away didn’t mean that I loved this person any less; it meant that I could no longer bear the pain of the relationship’s dynamics.

While going through my divorce, there came a time where I had to completely let go of my ex-husband and walk away from all contact so that I could mend.

Each time I would have contact with him… I would be so deeply hurt…that I suffered again and again.

It was as if I purposely kept opening an old wound.

Recently, someone who means very much to me… acted very similar to my ex-husband. He said that he, “Didn’t want to hurt anyone” with his actions, but then this person continued to come close to me, then pull away, making plans and then breaking promises… until this back-and-forth behavior had worn me out, wounded me, and left me full of sadness. His choice to come in-and-out of my life with what seemed like such “ease of thought” felt, to me, like he had little regard for my feelings.

His actions, in my opinion, did not stand for “I don’t want to hurt anyone…” he didn’t seem to realize that he was hurting someone each time he did this… a person he claimed to love very much: me.

I knew, that no matter how much I would miss him; I had to step back completely from the relationship. The dynamics were not working for me and I would have to decided over time and distance, if they ever would.

Sometimes in life we have to take a step back and do what is important for ourselves. It is not a selfish act to need time and space to get clear about a relationship. I know today that if I step back with love and honesty… so that I preserve my emotional, spiritual, and physical health… and protect my friend’s feelings while gaining clarity… then I am doing a kind service to both of us.

“Dear God, help me to let go and walk away with love and honesty.  Help me to find clarity and to have the strength to stay away, with kindness, until I know what I can offer this person as my friend or partner.”

November 9th: Obsessive Thoughts

When I was first going through my divorce, I would often fall victim to obsessive thoughts.

I would allow myself to pick up a thread of an idea and run with it thinking the worst possible things… until I was completely drained… exhausted by my own making.

I would torture myself believing that my ex-husband suddenly had it all: the perfect life, the perfect person, that he was off running around the world care-free and I was left behind… miserable and alone.

It was a story, a movie of my own making, that I would run over and over and over again until I fell into self-despair.

Obsessive thoughts are addictive.

Obsessive thoughts are dangerous.

If I allow my mind to wander into territory that I know harbors past ills, and caters to my shadow self then I will end up distraught… unable to let go and move on.

Today, I still struggle with obsessive thoughts, but I now know the consequences of picking up that thread and running with it…

It will only bring chaos and pain… it is better for me to stop my mind from holding me hostage… I must learn to exercise control over behavior that is self-destructive.

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“Dear God, help me to let go of my obsessive thoughts.  Help me to have the strength to walk away from my obsession, to control my mind and use it to move forward on my spiritual path instead of falling backwards into despair and disillusionment.”

November 8th: Making Promises and Following Through

When I make a promise to someone it is important that I follow through.

During my divorce, I would become terribly frustrated when promises were made by my ex-husband and then not kept.

Part of my anger was due to my own personal pain:  I was hurt that he had left me and I felt the burden of the family responsibilities were all down to me.

But the other part of the problem, the one that could not be changed with time or spiritual footwork, was that if he promised to do something like watch our children while I was working, or provide financial support on a specific day and then did not follow through, then my life and our children’s lives were suddenly thrown into chaos.

As an adult if we are unable to keep a promise… unable to follow through, then it is our responsibility to let the other person involved in the commitment know as soon as possible.

Yes emergencies arise… unforeseeable problems occur… life happens… but repetitive breaking of promises without good reason is disrespectful and irresponsible behavior.

Being an adult means communicating, keeping promises, and following through on all of our commitments.

Today… my ex-husband works very hard to keep his commitments to our family. I am thankful that through spiritual footwork, we are both able to follow through on promises that we make to each other.

“Dear God, help me to keep my promises and follow through on my commitments. I know that I am not always willing… but if I have promised to be present and responsible.. help me to do just that.”

November 7th: Disappointment

Note to my readers: please excuse the tardiness of several posts! I have been a traveling writer recently and often in locations where internet is not accessible… know that if I am unable to be with you in words… I am with you in thought… and that my prayers for you are: May you be strong… May you be happy… May you be well… May you be at ease. D.

After my divorce, my disappointment over the end of my marriage and my struggle with obsessing on the “what it could have been…” left me terrified to open my heart to another.

I was afraid to care for someone again.

I was afraid to want someone again.

It seemed easier, at the time, to remain… “closed off” or “behind a wall…” and refuse to let anyone in.

If I remained distant… then I wouldn’t be hurt and that way… I wouldn’t be let down… I couldn’t be “left behind.”

I made a lot of mistakes during this time period.

I let a lot of great people leave my life for fear that they may get too close and I may be disappointed once again.

But living life is not about “hiding behind a wall” and refusing to let others into my heart.

Life and love are about connections, shared history, and messy emotional ups and downs.

By fearlessly giving myself entirely over to another human being… heart and soul… and accepting that with the sadness will also come great joy, I live life to the fullest and I walk my true spiritual path.

“Dear God, help me to be brave and open my heart to others.  Help me to see that by being generous and fearless with my love I live a life full of grace and joy.”

November 6th: Making an Amends

Yesterday… I yelled at someone.

Had this person done something wrong?

Yes.

Was it worthy of my anger?

Yes.

Was it necessary for me to lose my temper, and act out in a heated moment and publicly shame this person?

No.

Sometimes, we act rashly… we react with emotion… or we wait until the “straw that breaks the camel’s back” comes along and then unleash our fury.

It was a horrible moment for me.

It was a reminder of how I often lost my temper in my marriage with my husband.

I spent the rest of that hour, hands shaking, trying to calm down and acting “as if” everything was okay… while everyone else in the room worked to keep the peace between us.

Sometimes… we try to justify our bad behavior:

Well, if she had been behaving appropriately, I wouldn’t have had to yell at her or…

If he had only done what I asked him to do, I wouldn’t have had to call him out.

But… when you use your anger as a weapon… an amends is in order.

I waited until we were both calm, and then, in front of everyone, I apologized for losing my temper as my friend apologized to me.

Our amends to each other was necessary and immediate, the bond it created changed our relationship forever in that moment.

My friend stood before me, hugged me, sure in the knowledge that I would never use my anger against her unfairly again…. and I hugged my friend, humbled by the experience.

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“Dear God, if I have harmed someone with my bitter words, grant me the gift of humility. Help me put my ego aside and ask forgiveness for my poor behavior… let your grace fill my voice with words of apology.”

November 5th: Belonging

No matter how much I love to be an individual… there is something inside of me that longs to belong with the people I love, admire, and respect.

But there are groups… groups that I have been a part of over the years… that have not always brought out my best self.

My shadow self emerges when I am with these people and the urge to belong drives me to act in ways that no longer suit the person I am today.

I find myself either full of ego, self-doubt, or struggling with my self-esteem and it still, to this day amazes me, that after all of my footwork in spiritual recovery… I can so easily fall back into my former ways with certain people.

These relationships are important to me. I am firmly connected to them through shared history, love, and family ties.

I want to belong with these groups… I just want to act as my stronger, higher, spiritual self when engaging with them.

If these relationships are relationships that I choose to continue… I must work to see what is driving me to “act out” and learn to take opposite action so that I can create healthy relationships and belong with a peaceful mind and heart.

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“Dear God, help me to be my best self around all of the people I love and cherish. Help me to overcome my ego, and self-doubt, and move forward on my spiritual path.”

for Mary 10-8-35 to 11-5-17

November 4th: Letting Go with Awareness

When people sometimes choose to leave my life, or change the parameters of our relationship, I tend to think… Oh God, what did I do? It must have been something I said… some way I acted that brought on this change in our status.

And yes, maybe I did do something or say something that created a change, caused a riff, or prompted a move.

This is when I have to step back and really look at the situation with awareness.

When I was going through my divorce, I was speaking to a close friend one day and I said, “I don’t understand why he left? I looked at my part in the problem, I moved to correct my mistakes and clean up my side of the street. Why is he not making an effort to do the same?”

She looked at me and said, “You have to let him go. Look at all of the other wonderful people that are here around you. They want to be a part of your day-to-day world, they love you dearly and enjoy your company. It is good to be aware of your part in things, but you dwelling on him leaving basically makes us all feel that we are not as important as the man who has chosen to leave you.”

And she was right: It was his decision… not mine.

Today. I still struggle when friends leave, relationships change or end, but I also know that I am not willing to go running after anyone and try to “make” them see that being with me would be a good thing.

If they value my friendship … want to be my friend… they will put in the effort just as I have, examine the relationship, and work to hold on to it or mend it.

If they don’t value my friendship, or if my friendship does not meet with their current life choices, then I have to let them go.

People choose to leave and change… this is a part of life that I must accept.

All I can do is examine my part in the relationship, work to clean up my side of the street, and then let go with awareness if they choose to walk a new path on their own.

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“Dear God, help me to see that people’s decisions are not “All about me.” You have created a path for my friends that may lead them away from my life. That does not mean I cannot let them go with compassion and pray for them as they embark on their new journey.”

November 3rd: Inspiration

Today I spent time playing music with one of my favorite students.

She is in college, preparing for her first big recital, where she will play the Bach Cello Suite 1 Prelude.

She is already an established rock musician, barely 22 and has already toured the world, and yet she was nervous about playing a classical piece “live” in front of me; her teacher.

I watched as she turned shyly, moved her bass away from me and finally, turned until her back was towards me and her face was barely visible.

I smiled to myself, letting her have her space, refusing to chide her as I usually do when I find my students becoming shy with me… I sat quietly… waiting for her to play, and then listened as the most beautiful music echoed out into the room and stopped everyone within the immediate vicinity, in awe of what they were there to witness.

Each of us, paused and listened, stunned by her brilliance, her talent, her shy yet lovely way in which she held her head down, as if a tiny bird, and played.

I felt my heart swell with pride, this music… so inspirational… this moment… where we all stood together in time.. in awe of this young person.

I looked at each of the faces around the room, each smiling… eyes fixed…. amazed and inspired by her talent.

I thank God each day, that I have people like this in my life.

People who stand out as shining beacons during times of pain and hardship.

If I had been in despair today… I would have never been able to hold it… or wallow in self-pity.

She inspired the best in all of us by sharing one of her many gifts that God gave her to present to the world.

When I find myself struggling, I must remember that God brings me gifts each day, and it is up to me to be aware of these moments and thankful for the joy they bring to me.

“Dear God, thank you for surrounding me with friends and family that inspire me to rise to my highest self. Through these joyous moments we share, you remind me that there is light even on my darkest day, gifts too beautiful to ignore.”

November 2nd: Exhaustion

Often, when I don’t want to look at the true problem at hand, I busy myself with tasks and distractions until one day… I find myself worn-out with exhaustion.

When my husband and I divorced… I filled my time up with activities to keep my mind occupied and away from the pain of my loss.

Many of these occupations were positive:

Going back to school for my Master’s degree.

Spending quality time with my children.

Putting my home and my financial life in order.

Learning new behaviors and working to improve my spiritual path.

But I also became quite co-dependent: distracting myself with other people’s problems and stepping in… expending energy… instead of offering experience and then letting them work through life steps on their own.

One day, I came home, sat down at my computer to write, looked at the screen, and felt as if I was going to collapse if I even tried to type one word.

I knew then… that I had fallen into a very bad place.

I was not taking care of myself.

I was winding myself up, wearing myself out to keep from experiencing my painful emotions and it had taken a toll on me: I was now not only emotionally exhausted but I was physically exhausted. It was time to step back and take a break.

At first, some people were upset that I was unwilling to offer all of the solutions in their situations. That I was no longer available for their needs 24 hours a day but I explained, that I needed to recuperate from my own loss, take time for my own needs.

I learned that I must take care of myself first before I fell into exhaustion once again.

The spiritual work I needed to do to move me forward on God’s path cannot be accomplished with a chaotic mind and a poor physical state.

“Dear God, help me to take care of myself. I cannot help others on your path if I do not have the strength to carry myself.”

November 1st: Turning Points

There have been times in my life when a “turning point” was completely evident.

It was a decisive moment.

I could see clearly in a situation and I knew… that I was coming out the other side and that there would be a major change in my life.

Some of these turning points were filled with great happiness:

Falling in love my very first time.

The day my child was born.

Graduating from college.

Becoming a teacher.

Other turning points were filled with great sadness:

The loss of a dear family member.

A close friend choosing to no longer be a part of my day-to-day life.

The end of my marriage and my inevitable divorce.

But these turning points punctuated my life and reminded me how very “alive” I was and how very “alive” I wanted to be.

They were moments of extreme feelings, intensity that changed a plain day… a plain month… a plain year.. into an event of great magnitude.

Would I prefer positive turning points over negative ones?

Of course, who wouldn’t?

But even my most difficult turning points led to the most positive of spiritual outcomes in my life:

The loss of my dear family member…

Led me to teaching students too sick to go to school. It reminded me how precious life was and how I needed to be there for others and keep a strong positive attitude as I helped them to get well and move on in their own lives.

The absence of my close friend…

Reminded me that friendship is valuable… worth fighting for… but… that if someone chooses to walk away… you must freely let them go, pray for their happiness, and hope for new friendships to come your way.

The end of my marriage? My divorce…

Helped me to look at my flaws, my failures, and work towards righting them by making an amends to my ex-husband and by trying my best not to repeat any of my bad behaviors in future romantic relationships.

These turning points have brought me great joy, and great knowledge.

I have learned through experience, what life may bring, and how by taking the time to exam it, these turning points are lessons that will help me to live my best possible life.
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“Dear God, help me to see your path even in the darkest night. Help me to see your plan even when I falter in my faith to believe.”