One indication I know I’m off is due to one simple habit I now do (or stop doing). I track the food I eat on an app. Two years ago, this obsessiveness was done to lose weight. But lately, it’s become a way to keep me aware of healthy food choices and to recognize that the decisions I make about the kind of food I eat has a direct indication of where I’m at emotionally.
I find that if I’m tracking, even when I occasionally eat twice as much as I’m supposed to, I’m more present in my life. I’m grounded. I’m aware that when I eat unhealthily but I’m tracking that unhealthy habit, I’m consciously making this a choice.
It’s when I make the decision to stop tracking that I know I’m off emotionally. When I stop tracking, I allow myself to eat more sweets or carbs. I excuse myself thinking, “I can start tomorrow. I tend to lose the weight pretty fast anyway.” I see how I’m using food to manage my emotions.
This is human nature; to constantly have emotional struggles and the need to manage them. It’s how we manage them that is most important.
Years ago, I managed my emotions with pornography and sex.
These last six months of blogging has helped my healing process in ways that other forms of therapy did not. Everything I had learned prior to my writing gave me the knowledge that I needed to heal, but I was still so caught up in my own story and my own pain, that it took being whacked over the head numerous times for those past lessons to sink in.
Thank you Rafiki!
If you would have told me a year ago that I would be in the state of mind I’m in today, I would have laughed at you. I had no idea when I asked Rafiki what he thought about me starting to blog, that in less than a year I would have a transformational shift to where I feel centered, calm, and have more peace than I’ve ever felt in my life.
I point all this out because my pain was real.
I point this out because I want my Fledglings to know that the suffering you’re experiencing today is real. And I also want you to know, it’s not permanent.
I know how, in the moment, the pain can be so great that it feels like nothing will ever change.
I was there for over two years. My body was in a constant state of flight, fight, freeze. There were days when I was curled up in a ball feeling as if someone was stabbing a knife deep into my gut and then there were days when my anger or pain would verbally explode out of me, hurting the very people I loved. The shrapnel from my spoken words caused scars on my ex and daughters that they may never completely heal from.
The guilt and shame I carried for my past actions tore me apart.
The fear I felt stepping away into the unknown kept me clinging on to everything I had known. I believed my life depended on it.
Add the agony of divorce, losing the person I love, and the tearing apart of our family, coupled with repeating my childhood trauma by reliving every negative message that I had heard growing up, physically and emotionally, I found it difficult to function in life.
It can change, it will change, and you will be reborn.
Please have faith and trust that learning how to love and parent your inner child, doing the hard work to overcome your deep trauma, and given time, you will heal.
Have faith, that given time and learning to love and parent your inner child, you will heal. Click To Tweet
The Pain Has Subsided
“Rafiki, can you believe it was only ten months ago when I was screaming at you to help me stop the pain?”
“I have seen more growth in you these past ten months than the previous six years.”
“I know! I don’t understand how that shift happened.”
“Because you didn’t give up on little Phoenix. Your parents gave up on you. Everyone in your life gave up on you. But you refused to give up on you. So many people fear change so they stay stuck. They go back to what was comfortable, known, and safe. You didn’t do that.”
“I really didn’t have a choice Rafiki. My ex was the one that wanted the divorce. She was the one that did not choose us. She chose that our family separate.”
“Crap! What now?” I instantly whine. “It’s been a while since you’ve done that.” I rub my head.
“Sometimes Phoenix you seem to get it, then other times…” After a long pause and a sigh, Rafiki continues, “I question if you ever will.”
“What do you mean?” I exhale, feeling deflated.
“Your ex had more courage than you give her credit for. She had more courage than you. Yes, she decided to divorce. Yes, her decision split your family. And, yes, to you, it feels like she was like everyone else in your past; another person who betrayed you and gave up on you.”
“But that’s what happened,” I argued, starting to feel like the stubborn self-centered mule I’ve always been.
“Did it? You have a very narrow view about what happened. I think you’re finally ready to start working on the next piece in your recovery.”
“Yes, my ex needs to learn how to forgive.”
“No, Phoenix. You’re wrong. You, and you alone, need to learn to forgive.”
“You still allow yourself to expend so much energy on the pain that was inflicted on you, that you’re blind to the pain you’ve caused. You want so much for your ex to forgive you and see that you’ve changed, and yet you are unable to forgive her for her decisions.”
When our focus is on the pain that was inflicted upon us, we are blind to the pain we cause. Click To Tweet
When our energy is on the pain someone else did to us, we inhibit our ability to heal. Click To Tweet
“Phoenix, listen.” Rafiki interrupts. “You were forced to make a choice when your ex asked for divorce and you moved out. You could have gone back into your addiction to manage your pain. You could have done what you’ve always done and jumped into another relationship to give you the sense of connection you believed you needed to feel worthy. But you chose none of that…”
“What does that have to do with…”
Again, Rafiki interrupts, “Phoenix, your ex knew deep down that what the two of you were doing wasn’t working. Both of you were in a cycle of pain, blaming one another for the misery that was happening in your lives. You’ve mentioned it in an earlier blog; she needed to untangle your roots to find herself. You BOTH needed to do that! But you, Phoenix, never had the strength nor the courage to take that leap of faith. Your ex had to do it for the both of you and you have continued to hold anger and resentment for a choice you pushed her to do.”
I look down at my feet, speechless.
“Phoenix, you would not be where you are today if it was not for how brave your ex has been. You also would not be where you are today if you didn’t have the courage to dig deeper into yourself to heal those past wounds. What a gift she gave you both.”
I look up.
“She gave you the gift of not being stuck in the status quo so the two of you could heal. And in doing so, look what you now can give others. Hope.” Tears start to well up in my eyes. “You have misplaced your hope for quite some time Phoenix. You hoped to reconcile your marriage. You hoped to save your family. What you needed to hope for was to heal the deeper issues that caused your marriage to dissolve. That is what has given you peace. Not your marriage. Not being in a relationship with someone. Not sex.”
Again, Rafiki pauses, letting his last few words sink in. “You needed to heal from the deep painful past that got recreated in your marriage. The only way to do that was to be forced to have the space for that to happen. You have one more step so you can completely heal. This way you’re able to bring the hope, strength, and courage you want others to have.”
Rafiki pauses again, waiting for a response. At this moment, I’m too numb to speak. I don’t know if I’m feeling guilt. Maybe it’s that plus a little bit of shame. I think there’s some fear mixed in with all this.
Actually, there’s a lot of fear. If what he’s going to say is what I think it is, it means I need to completely let go. It’s like falling backwards and having faith that a friend won’t drop me or letting go from hanging on the side of a cliff and having faith that my Higher Power will catch me.
“Phoenix, you need to forgive your ex for the choices and decisions she made on her journey of healing from your addiction. You’re waiting for her to forgive you. That’s not what’s important. It may never happen. That is her path.”
Rafiki can see the fear in my eyes. “You have read that forgiveness takes away the noose that’s around your neck. You have read that forgiveness is not for the other person; forgiveness is to stop the chokehold you have on yourself. Forgiveness is to stop trying to make a better past. Forgiving your ex will put your tiger to rest.
Forgiveness is to stop trying to make a better past. Click To Tweet
“Forgiving your ex will allow you to do the only thing she has ever asked of you; it will stop the block so you can truly listen and hear her. It will allow you to let her go so she can truly be free. It’s what she needs so she can heal. That’s all she’s asked from you these past few years.”
I nod. I have come so far on my own healing. Rafiki is correct. This is the next step in my journey. The tears flow down my face.
“Phoenix,” Rafiki continues, “Your ex is still your friend. She has bent over backwards to keep your girls in your life. It has been as tough, if not harder, for her to do what she has done. Look at the amazing strength she has just to overcome her own pain from your actions and to keep you present in not just her girl’s lives, but in her life as well. It doesn’t matter if your ex ever forgives you. What does matter is that you forgive her. Forgiving her will free yourself from the shackles of your own anger and resentment. Forgiving her will give her the gift she needs so she can heal. Forgiving her will transform the relationship you have with one another.”
Forgiving will free yourself from the shackles of your own anger and resentment. Click To Tweet
You need to learn to love yourself before you're able to forgive someone else from hurting you. Click To Tweet
“How do I do that?” I ask. “I’ve been trying for so long.”
“You haven’t been trying to forgive Phoenix.” Rafiki’s voice rises, more critical and serious. “You’ve been focused on you! You have been focused on your own pain. You always have.
“But your focus changed six months ago. You dug in to find out the WHY you did what you did and WHY you were so self-centered. That was where you needed to be. You’ve been learning not to focus on the pain, but learning how to open the block that prevented you from loving yourself.
Rafiki’s voice softens. “Phoenix, you needed to learn to love yourself before you were able to forgive. Your family significantly hurt you. You had deep childhood scars that you needed to heal from. You took those scars into your marriage. You have done the hard work of cleaning out those old wounds. Now it’s time to take the next step.”
“I still don’t know what to do,” I whisper.
“Yes, you do. You’ve already started the process. It’s out of love that you now need to forgive and let go. Pray daily for your ex. Pray daily for her peace and healing. Pray for her male friendship that you struggle with. Pray to your Higher Power to help you stay present and in the Now. Pray for Him to be there when you fall prey to your painful thoughts. Pray to bring peace in your relationship with your ex, not just for her, but for your girls. Pray for a peaceful relationship between your ex and your girls.
“And don’t just pray; meditate on forgiving, tap about it, and blog your journey of learning how to forgive.
“In other words, as James Cordon said in his Car Pool Karaoke with Katy Perry, ‘Just take the beef off the grill.’”
Beef off The Grill – 9:25 min
PS: It has taken me writing around 75 different blogs to add a new category to this website – Forgiveness. It has taken me many years to process my pain, my childhood issues, and my habits. Growth and change does take time, and it is possible. I now realize I cannot fully recover until I learn to forgive. By loving and guiding my inner child, Together We Can Heal.