Have you ever noticed a behavior that you wanted to change and yet no matter how hard you tried, it seemed like you always fell back doing the same thing? How did you respond to that?
There’s the saying:
“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”
It's not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters. -Epictetus Click To Tweet
That’s fine and dandy, but then, what if, no matter how hard you try, you can’t seem to control your reactions? Are you then doomed to a life of pain and suffering?
As a perfectionist, blended with the stubbornness of a mule and the tenacity of a pit bull, I’m doing all I can to change. Give me the next self-help book. Teach me EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) and let me tap away my toxic emotions. Let’s use EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) to erase the trauma from my past.
Art therapy is a voodoo science, but it’s fun and gives me interesting insight. Somatic experiencing is yet another modality to help regulate my body. Focus on breathing, the deep breathing, the breathing from my diaphragm. Try to meditate (I only say try because every time I try, my mind goes off on tangents and I get more agitated than when I started).
I’m learning to use the techniques of DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy); how to (a) distract, (b), soothe, then (c) cope. But when I get to the coping part, I’m right back to where I started.
Journaling is great for those “ah-ha” moments, but then later I read previous journals that I had written that stated the exact same thing.
I say, “I won’t do that again”, but I still do.
I think, “Look at this new thing I just learned,” but later realized I had already learned it numerous times before.
Will anything ever stick? Will I ever find peace? Will I ever stop the raging emotions and physical symptoms that plague my body?
I’m going through a divorce. I’m a recovering addict.
While I am not actively in my addiction, I still have the same behavioral issues that once caused me to use my drug of choice to medicate the, what seems like, uncontrollable emotions and bodily pains that radiate through my body.
I am obsessed over the death of my marriage. I have this belief that I need to do anything and everything to fix myself so that I can perform CPR and bring life back into something that has already died.
My ex and I remain friends, both of us are highly involved with our children’s lives, each learning to grow from the destruction I caused. We have the same goals in life, the same parenting values, enjoy each other’s company, and there’s still an attraction in one another. Yet, due to my emotional outbursts and my behavioral issues that I have worked hard to overcome for the past six years, there’s no chance to reconcile from my past mistakes and my current insecurities. I stand as a bystander watching my dreams shatter because I never learned how to regulate my emotions.
So, I thought, “Why not start a blog?”
I have listened to podcasts, read books, watched videos, and read other people’s blogs. So many amazing, inspirational folks have come before me who have overcome adversity and are living a better life. Through other people’s experiences, I have grown in ways I never thought possible. I have tasted moments of peace and serenity, times where I’m in the ‘Now’ not shaming myself about the past or worrying about the future.
I want to stop the loneliness that rages within me and feel solitude when I’m with myself. Why can’t I be my own best friend?
These moments are short and rare; just fleeting moments.
I continue to fall into the same bad habits and repeat the same destructive behaviors as I have done all my life.
I continue to spend more time in my head and experience the physical pain that comes when one struggles with depression, grief, guilt, and shame.
I want out! I want freedom from the thoughts that cause chaos in my life.
If it has worked for others, then why not try my own hand at blogging? Maybe that’s what I’ve needed all along. Someone to hear me. Someone to understand me. To not feel alone.
One of my biggest character defects is that I am a terrible listener. Last night, during a family dinner at the dining table (the first one my daughters and I have had since I moved out of the house six months ago) my youngest daughter was telling me a story and her sister interrupted, “Dad, you didn’t hear a word she said, did you?” My mind just “checked out”.
Listening skills is a work in progress and I’m trying to learn to shut the mouth (and the overactive mind) so I can listen twice as much as I talk.
By learning how to finally listen, I am finding that people are astonishing and wonderful.
I may not have the same interests in what they like, but I enjoy watching their body language as they light up talking about something they’re passionate about. To be a good listener, I have learned to ask questions, to investigate, to dig deeper. This is one of the many admirable traits that I’ve observed over 17 years with my ex; a skill I figured I never could achieve.
I am now finding that I am not alone. People struggle with the same pain I struggle with. All of us wants to be emotionally more resilient and handle life better.
We just keep it stuffed within us.
The Twelve Steps opens ourselves to realizing that we aren’t alone with our addiction and gives us a safe space to talk about our unmanageable behaviors. Why not do the same when it comes to understanding our emotions? Going through a divorce, being a parent to an entitled teen, losing a job, death of a loved one, anything. Let’s connect and collectively support one another through our pain and give each other hope. Let’s crush the belief that “No matter how hard I try, I am just never going to get it and I’m going to keep screwing up the people I love because of my actions.” Let’s accept our imperfections and know it’s ok to not always get it right.
The second after I felt the drive to start this blog I was flooded by negative self-talk.
- “If you can’t get it, then what do you have to offer others?”
- “You have nothing that you can give that hasn’t already been given.”
- “Look at all those gurus out there that have years of experience. They’re better mentors than you. You who’s still stuck stomping around in your own shit!”
- “Who would want to listen to you anyway?”
- “Your ex says you make everything about you. Now you want the world to read about your life? That’s going above and beyond making it about you.”
- “Every time you turn around and you think you got it, you fuck it up. You’re going to admit that to the world?”
- “And when you fuck up, those naysayers will come out of the woodwork and attack you. You don’t have enough emotional armor and healthy boundaries to keep you protected from your ex’s perception about you. How do you expect to protect yourself from the judgmental people of the world?”
And then I stopped in my tracks with the final thought, “Is this yet another way to manipulate your ex into finding out that you are doing everything you can to change?”
Is that my motivation?
If she read this right now, I make up that’s what she would lock onto. “All he does is talk, talk, talk about what he wants and how he feels, but he never shows me with actions. And here he is once again going out and using the world to manipulate and change my decision.”
I’m thinking about bagging the idea completely.
But, I must do one thing first: I need to ask Rafiki for advice.
Yes, yes, I know. He’s the wise monkey in The Lion King and a dear friend to Mufasa and Simba. That’s what I have named my close friend who calls me on my shit. My head has been permanently indented from the number of times he’s cracked me with his stick.
“Oh yes, the past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it.”
– Rafiki, The Lion King
The past can hurt. You can either run from it or learn from it. -Rafiki, The Lion King Click To Tweet
Rafiki challenges me. He forces me to process and see things from a different perspective.
It helps that his personality mirrors some of my ex’s personality. This gives me an insight into how she would respond to something I might say or do. He helps me understand her (when my ex and I are in the mist of our own personal issues and traumatic reactions, I don’t truly see her – I need someone else to help me appreciate what she’s trying to tell me).
Rafiki allows me to hear her and validate her emotions without minimizing her or defending myself. I finally have empathy and compassion for the chaotic life I had created for her and our family.
I donned my hardhat, took a deep breath and asked him, “What do you think about me starting a blog?”
Oh, I was in fear. I anticipated the worst. My body tensed expecting that smack that usually always came. Yet Rafiki didn’t hit me over the head with his stick!
Rafiki’s response caught me off guard. “I think that’s the perfect medium for you. You tend to process stuff through journaling. To blog will force you to journal regularly. It will allow you to process what you’re working through. You’ll benefit from the insight from others. You’ll need to protect yourself from the few who use blogging to attack. But knowing you, I don’t think that will be an issue. If you get enough followers, collectively we can all help each other. Go for it.”
So here you have it! The first blog of Together We Can Heal. A place for all of us to connect, to vent, to learn, to grow, and to support one another on our journey of self-discovery.
This is not Facebook, posting the “perfect” world or critiquing each other about their beliefs for all to see.
This is a place for us to accept that we are all imperfect and that is ok.
TogetherWeCanHeal.com is a place for us to accept that we're all imperfect and that's ok. Click To Tweet
It’s ok that we all struggle and have hard days.
This is a place to get advice from others before we open our mouths and insert both our feet with our loved ones.
This is a place to give us hope and the ability to work through the pain we suffer in life.
If, through this blog, I can save just one marriage or help just one person get through a difficult period in their life, I have given back. My hope is that together we can all help a lot more than just one.
It is my desire that collectively we will all Rise From The Ashes and become reborn into better versions of ourselves.