Personal Development, Uncategorized

Listen to Your Body

My time in DC, primarily in the NICU, keeps coming up for me. It was a particularly difficult time for me but served as a another turning point in my understanding of mind, body, heart, and spirit. I think the reason my difficult year in that NICU keeps coming up , despite leaving and now experiencing far greater joy in my current circumstance, is because I have yet to fully integrate the experience. There’s something in it that needs to be shared. I spent almost a decade working and going to school in DC. Long enough for me to know that…maybe I don’t want to go back. In order to survive my time in DC, I had to do one thing: ignore my body’s messages.

What I just said is the antithesis of everything I want to implore others to do. Ignoring my body led to state of utter confusion, inner turmoil, days of crying, difficult work situations that I did NOT need to be in, anxiety, difficulty forming sentences, fear of communicating with others, added stress, binge eating, and weight gain in order to cope and numb the signals my body was sending me. I didn’t listen because I was afraid that listening to my body would result in ruining my future and negatively impact my [then] goals. It was a lesson I needed to learn in trusting myself and in the Divine to guide me to where I need to be. Another lesson in surrender, in listening, and because I had left this difficult situation only to return, a lesson in learning to let go and not look back.

Not too long ago during a late night introspection not to different from this one, I asked myself how I could deepen my own awareness of Self and God. “How can I come further in contact with what I really am?” I asked. And the answer was, “Come into your body and regain awareness of it. Remain present. It’s all there.”

I recently attended a CPR certification class in an area not far from where I spent almost a decade of the first part of my adult life. As I’ve been working on remaining present and aware in my body and of its messages (a task that has been somewhat uncomfortable for me as the sensation of other people can make me want to hide away in my safe place), two things became abundantly clear to me:

  1. This was not somewhere I needed to be for long.
  2. I am not going back to DC for a good long while if I can help it.

All the years I spent experiencing DC, I failed to realize the impact it had on my own energy over time. Don’t get me wrong: I LOVE the museums and scenery. But there’s some places I’d rather just visit. I’m sure many will say the same about where I choose to call home. Some people prefer the city life or the hustle and bustle of DC living and that’s okayBut so is my own preference for staying the heck away. My time in the NICU showed me that even though those within the situation might rave about how great it is, it doesn’t mean it’s all that great for me. One of the things I do note about my time in the NICU was that I felt this overwhelming undercurrent of anger and discontent that made me want to run and fix it all at once.

I realized people gossiped about me. My entire time in DC was me feeling like someone, somewhere had something nasty to say behind my back which became readily apparent in the way people would look at me or blank me out when I came in the room. I hated that nightmare scene. And it made me realize that some people are not aware of just how crooked they are. And it hurt me. It’s part of the reason why I stopped paying attention to my body and its messages in an attempt to cope with the difficult situations I was in there. I felt pressure to conform and yet didn’t want to conform. I just wanted to be myself. But my entire time there was spent feeling like who I was as a black woman and as a human being and reflection of the Divine didn’t fit in with the standard, the norm, or what was expected. I have no intention of ever returning.

Observations

Tell The Truth: Is This Goodbye?

My family hurts me Forcing myself to stay strongly attached to my family hurts me. I often feel scorned and unseen or like I don’t actually feel a sense of belonging with them but rather that I cover myself up when with them. My needs aren’t being met. In many ways, I think I tried to cover this feeling up because many around me claimed to have great relationships with their family. I felt envious because I don’t think I ever truly did feel that. At least not after my grandmother died. Lately I wonder, is it possible to leave my family behind with love? I’m seeking confirmation on this concept. It’s not that I hate them but that I’d like to untangle myself from them to the point where I don’t exactly care to stay in touch often, to call often, to visit often or to have them visit me. For this reason as well as the need for health benefits, I think it would be valuable for me to return to work. I’m so grateful that they agreed to watch my dog while I took a trip to Trinidad. And while I love Django and I truly appreciate the company of dogs, I don’t want another dog or pet after this one. I miss my complete freedom. I’d like to let go of my family in a loving way so that they know that I do still care but that being close to them allows them to hurt me and I don’t want to hurt anymore. Deep inside I feel like I desire better than to feel scorned or unwelcome or forgotten or like I’m a burden or that they’re obligated to love me. They don’t understand my plight. They don’t see it and I don’t feel like they really see me.

I think I’ve attained closure in Trinidad, from Trinidad. I really don’t care to come back. Maybe I just need to honor this concept.

Personal Development

Tell The Truth: Maybe I’m Not Wrong OR Right

I’m not angry with my family anymore. It’s not anger. I’ve learned that it’s important to forgive everyone for everything. Instead, the fire that burned in the barren wasteland, turned to ashes. Now, there where the ashes use to be is a beautiful forest. I’m not angry. Instead what I feel is compassion for my family. They did the best they could with what they had.

For years I felt the need for justice. I wanted to be right! That was always the overarching theme in my desire for justice. I wanted to be confirmed right while the others had to be wrong. In this, I would seek an apology, justice, confirmation. I then came to a new realization: What if I wasn’t wrong? What if I’m not wrong? What if NONE of us were wrong? But…what if none of us were right either?

I’ve come to realize that I am on a quest for truth. I want to know what’s true for me and of me. So many of the beliefs I acquired were acquired subconsciously, without them being directly taught. The impact they had were substantial. I realize now that I’m not “wrong” or “bad” for feeling what I feel or thinking what I think or looking at life the way that I do. But I’m on a quest of constant self-examination and evolution, more and more becoming who and what I really am. And I realize that for a long time this is the battle I have been dealing with.

I have been asking the 5 Whys and the H of Inadequacy for years. These are the questions I have been asking myself: Who and What made me wrong? When did it happen? Where did it happen? Why am I not good enough? And how do I fix it? In the past I wreaked rage and anger towards my family because they were the ones I felt taught me the most untruths about myself. I understand now that it was projection and I am no longer angry. They were trying to fix me as a way of fixing themselves. “Look good” when I go out was their way of trying to make themselves look good through me. It wasn’t really about me. It was about them just as the experiences I have and the things and people that get to me are about me.

I’m starting to see myself everywhere. I will quote Iyanla Vanzant on this one: ““I have no fear of seeing my Self, knowing my Self, being my Self.”

 

Reference

Vanzant, Iyanla. One Day My Soul Just Opened Up: 40 Days And 40 Nights Toward Spiritual Strength And Personal Growth (p. 307). Touchstone. Kindle Edition.

 

Personal Development

Tell The Truth: The Fire Turned to Ashes

During therapy, I told the truth about all the anger I felt. I explained that the solid boulder I felt in my heart had transformed into a fire that burned throughout my chest. I could see the flames. My therapist instructed me to invite the energy of my mother into the fire and tell her everything I was feeling. I did.

I wish you had the courage in yourself to advocate for yourself. If you did, you would’ve had the courage to advocate for me. I wish you had more love for yourself so that you wouldn’t have projected all of your self-disdain onto me, your daughter. 

That was all I had to say. My therapist asked how I felt and what images I saw. I didn’t know how to explain it at the time. I needed to process. I simply said I felt sore. All the areas that the boulder blocked, all the areas that had burned with flames were gone. I imagined eschar being removed from a wound so it could heal. I didn’t tell her that. What I saw was ashes. Throughout all the areas where the fire had burned, in this seemingly vast wasteland, ashes were now in its place.

One of the things I asked my therapist was whether or not healing meant having to be ‘best friends’ with my mother. I do know (or use to know) people who are best friends with their mom. I told her how I noticed that my cousin often goes into a baby voice whenever she speaks with her mom and that she tells her mother everything. While I thought this was cute, I didn’t want to have that kind of relationship with my mom. I wanted to be able to keep some things to myself if I so chose to. She said that was okay. The truth is that in that moment I sought validation for who I am and what I wanted. She asked if I could honor that. I said yes and felt relieved.

My therapist asked what it is the little girl in me needed as it is possible for me to give her what she needs. I said a voice. She needs to be heard, she needs to continue to tell the truth, be sincere, be authentic, she needs validation and a support system that works for her. Lastly, she needs to advocate for herself. I asked her why these people treated me this way. She said from what I told her it seemed as though they saw me as being strong and resilient and could handle them. I can see this. My original thought is that they tried to break me. But I realize now that they were all cowards. They were scared and taking their fear out on me because I was the most vulnerable.

 

 

Personal Development

Tell The Truth: Day After Mother’s Day

I am chronically angry. In public I smile and say hello, I’m polite, im helpful and I’m nice. But deep inside, I’m angry from years of having it communicated to me that I don’t matter in some way, shape, or form. I’m angry because for years I have been told that in some way I am wrong. This never stopped.

I remember my experience in the NICU where I use to work in DC. All I felt there was anger and distrust. I remember trying to talk to them about what I thought, how I felt, what I needed. Again, it seemed like it was communicated to me that I didn’t matter and I didn’t belong. I tried to stick it out like I always do, forcing myself to stay in situations where I often can feel and know I’m not wanted. Because that’s what the strong girls do right? You don’t let people make you quit your job. But I never worked in a place where I felt so much anger and hostility. Only one and I vowed never to return.

I remember the patient care manager in this NICU. Under the guise of keeping it real she would unleash so many insults, threaten me and say I’d be blacklisted from the hospital for 7 years and that other institutions talk. If she only know how much I had disliked this place. But I didn’t trust them there. I tried and would always be cut off. I felt like I was the outsider and I didn’t belong. And the truth is, I didn’t belong. I didn’t like the energy I felt there or how those who had been there a while would all team up to talk about any newcomers who weren’t exactly like them in some way. I didn’t like that everyone knew each others business and people were constantly gossiping or knew about each other’s personal lives. I wanted out. I used my options.

My family looks at me like I’m a complainer. But the truth is I’m trying to be heard. When I look, I realize that it’s not my ‘family’ I’m angry with. They hurt me for sure. But most of my anger is directed towards my mother for not being the support system I needed as a child. The truth is, since I’ve begun to untangle, I realize that she couldn’t be that support because she still isn’t able to truly support herself emotionally. She’s only now beginning to learn and her voice gets stomped out by the bullies of the family (her two sisters). I realize that all the pain she exacted upon me is what she either had put on her or what she put on herself. She couldn’t do any better. Even when I try to point it out to her, she couldn’t hear me, maybe because as her offspring, my voice didn’t matter if hers didn’t. But that doesn’t make me any less angry. It only makes me hate her more. I can’t imagine seeing my little 10,11,12,13,14,15,16 year old girl cry and hearing her say how her father’s refusal to call her or spend time with her for years even though the two of you are in a relationship makes her feel neglected and abandoned and turning to my daughter and basically blaming her for her absence and neglect. How is she suppose to feel? She felt invalidated and worthless. That’s how she felt. And ended up with a boy who further made her feel invalidated and worthless.

I’m angry because I realize that the little 6, 7, 9, 10 and 13 year old in me mattered just as much as the me I am today does. I’m angry because I realize that I always deserved a voice and was entitled to my own opinion but the grown ups around me didn’t see it that way. I was ‘wild’, I was ‘different’, I was ‘rude’, I was ‘weird’, I was a host of names but these people were not nice and allowed others to do and say not nice things to me. They didn’t allow me to have a voice, they didn’t treat me like I mattered so much as they didn’t want me to make them look bad. Shame. Guilt. Control. That’s what I grew up in.

Grandma, even though I can’t remember a single bad thing about you, I can’t help but feel as though somehow you contributed to the cultivation of all of this. But in my heart, my mother plays the biggest role. I don’t like her. I don’t respect her. Yesterday was mother’s day and I was even more angry with her then than today. Sometimes I feel like I’m just waiting for her to die so I can finally stop feeling like my very being is wrong and like I don’t matter. She keeps me tied to people who constantly seem to try to make me feel like I’m wrong and don’t matter. Why God why?

Spirituality

Tell The Truth: My Relationship with Others, The Divine and With Myself

I want others to acknowledge me as positive. As a result, sometimes I say things in a voice that isn’t always indicative of how I really feel. If I am angry, I might lie and say I am not. Because to feel anger is not what I judged to be positive. If I feel my boundaries have been crossed, I might not say anything, simply hold my breath and pray that it stops. If I dislike the energy of a place, I might not say so but instead turn that onto myself and ask if something is wrong with me. It took me a long time to admit I disliked working, living, being in Washington, DC. Never liked it there for myself. But I never admitted this to myself or others. I never said a word. Just kept pushing through and trudging on. I kept hearing my mother’s words in the back of my head from when I was a child. “Be strong”.

And so I tried to be. And ‘Be strong’ became ‘Hang in there’, ‘suck it up’, until one day I had no choice BUT to admit to myself that I was burnt the off out! lol

I think God wanted me to go back to DC. I think God allowed me to go work in that NICU and experience the madness of the personalities I dealt with there, the anger, the rage, the attitudes, because He wanted me to see and know beyond a doubt that that was not the place for me. I was not welcome there. And I do not miss it. Sometimes I ask why did I have to go through half the hell I went through in recent years. Really. Why all the pain? But when I look, I see it was the inability to be honest with myself, to acknowledge the truth and to trust the truth when it hit me right in the chest! This is why I changed the name of my blog. Because I understand now that value of telling the truth! The diehard, sometime ugly, sometimes painful, sometimes not so positive, ‘what I want to hear’ truth! So here it is.

I am angry. I have been angry for many years. I am angry because I have been hurt. I am angry because I allowed myself to believe lies, to allow people to deceive me. I am angry because I engaged in many forms of self-deception throughout the years and as a result continued down a path that allowed me to continue to be hurt. I am angry because I tried to appear light and care-free about things that mattered to me. I am angry because I didn’t recognize that I mattered and as a result I allowed others to take advantage of me, to abuse me, to lie to me, to manipulate me, to tell me lies and allowed myself to believe them. This anger turned inward became resentment. This resentment led to a heavy weight on my chest, weight gain, depression, exhaustion, and more anger. I am angry because I allowed myself to believe that my quest to belong, to be accepted and to feel loved, was really a quest to understand who I am. My belief was that those who follow a spiritual path would be loved and accepted by more. I expected to have more friends, be more beautiful, have more support, feel a greater sense of belonging. I am angry because the truth is that I didn’t do all of this work specifically for me. Subconsciously, I did it for others. I am angry.

The truth is that I never fully took the time to figure out who I am while not in alignment with some other person’s truth. By that I mean, I never took the time to validate myself. That is why I started this process. Validation seeking. I wanted to know that there wasn’t anything inherently ‘wrong’ with me. I wanted to know that I wasn’t inherently ‘bad’ and that others in my world weren’t mistreating me or hurting me as a result of my inherent badness. When I ask people if I’m ‘wrong’, I’m not just asking others if what I said was wrong. I’m usually asking on some core level if I am wrong. And if I am wrong, I want to know why. How can I fix it? How can I improve? How can I cleanse myself of my inherent ‘wrongness’? The truth is, I think I associate painful events happening with my own inherent badness. The truth is that on some level I think God is punishing me and I’ve been trying to get on His good side ever since. Because if I were inherently ‘good’ then good things would happen. I’d have friends, I’d lose weight and tone up, I’d be happier, people would be more supportive of me, I’d have a better work experience and more doors would open up, and everything I want would come to me. The truth is that for some reason which I am not quite sure of I have some core belief of my own badness.  As a result, I don’t think I truly trust that God has my best interest at heart.

I think somehow, some belief at my core is that God is punishing me; thus, why trust a being who made me in His image and yet somehow is punishing me for being inherently bad and wrong? I’ve been trying to prove that I am a ‘good girl’ for as long as I can remember. Yet I feel as though God is often on the lookout for my own inherent badness. I can’t fully trust God and as a result my prayers are often made with caution. I am often reluctant to pray for anything good because I think God wants to give me something bad or unleash more pain in my life. And this makes me angry. I try to control a lot of situations in my life and as a result my shoulders have gotten tight and I feel pain in them because I am trying desperately to minimize the pain that I think life or God is trying to make me go through. Even though I learned that suffering isn’t necessary for growth, I often think that God wants me to suffer nonetheless. This makes me scared, angry and distrustful of Him.

Somewhere in my core are these beliefs about who I am and who/what God is. And even though I encountered the Divine, who felt and is an all-loving entity, I cry, I fear, I distrust, because I still suffered after encountering Him, because I didn’t get everything I wanted and worked for, my truth didn’t quite align with the truth of those in my immediate surroundings, and I still sought validation of my own ‘inherent goodness’ from others.

I wanted to be recognized and valued as something beautiful, wonderful, and special. The way I hear others speak and affirm others as something beautiful, wonderful and special. In my life, that seldom felt like my experience. My experience is that others often look for ways to tear me down, manipulate me, lie to me, control me, embarrass me, compete with me, or show me up. My experience has been that others do not like me, do not want me around, and do not treat me as a valued and respected member of society. This made me hide and retreat inward and away from others. I became afraid of them because I didn’t want to feel persecuted for what seemed to be that just being who I am was wrong. They always say ‘just be yourself’. I didn’t realize that it meant others would talk about you, ridicule you, persecute you, or try to make you feel bad about who you are and what you’re doing.

My experience has been that even when you aren’t really doing anything wrong, others will try to make you feel as though who you are and what you’re doing is wrong. My experience has been that people will mistreat you and others will take their side in the injustice. 

I’m looking to give myself compassion. I have beaten myself up while attempting to offer others forgiveness and compassion. But I have not been compassionate to myself. Over the years I have judged myself very harshly as being inherently ‘wrong’, and inherently ‘bad’ all while trying to prove my innate goodness.

 

 

Spirituality

Present

After my experience in counseling, I learned to create a permeable bubble that allows me to keep my “stuff” separate from other’s “stuff”. This has been good for me as I work to untangle myself from my family. At first I felt great. I felt lighter and freer. I felt happier. Then, I started to encounter my own stuff. The stuff that originates from the mind.

One of the things I’ve noticed since allowing myself to untangle is the judgement I place on myself. I can be very hard on myself. I bash and chastise myself whenever I make a mistake. The other thing I noticed about myself is the need I feel to control everything. This need to control everything shows up in my shoulders and in my body as tightness. It’s like I’m clenching down trying to hold something in place that wants to move. I’m trying to control it and keep it tightly down and in my control. During a visualization exercise in which we work with imagery, I saw myself holding on tightly to a tree as I tried to brace myself from getting blown away by a very strong wind. Then I heard in my mind that I’m not in control of anything. My shoulders hurt as I clenched even tighter to try and hold on to the tree branch that is rooted deeply within the ground. It is unmoved by the strong winds that blow in its direction.

Lately, I’ve found myself getting present. In the present moment I feel awake and connected. However, not long after I feel gripped with fear. I feel like something is in the room with me. My mind starts racing and I think that if I don’t spend time in my head thinking, trying to control what likely could happen, I’m not doing the right thing. I am whisked away from the present moment again. Anxious. Scared. Not able to focus or regroup.

I talked about this experience in counseling. This fear that creeps in after finding myself fully in the present moment. What is the fear? I have a lot of curiosity surrounding it.