69RS Ch 7

Rising Strong International cyber-Bookclub – Ch. 7

Happy first full week of 2016. We’re off to a great start.

Before we get to the post on Chapter 7, I wanted to throw out an idea. I know a few of us have signed up for Brené’s Living Brave Semester. I learned about this new program when she stopped in Santa Monica on her book tour for Rising Strong, and signed up right away.

This is how the program is described:

“The Living Brave Semester is a unique, online learning experience that provides participants with the opportunity to explore what it means to fully show up in our lives – to be brave, to lean into vulnerability, and to rumble with the challenges that come with living a daring life.” Find more information on the two six-week sessions here.

I believe all of us already are living examples of Brené’s work. That being said, I’m wondering if anyone would be interested in continuing our work by participating in some kind of “supplement” to Brené’s class here on my website? I have no idea what the format of her new class is, so I can’t yet specify what the supplement would look like. If it’s anything like the class she taught in conjunction with OWN, there will be arts and crafts involved. I sure hope so. I could never get my art to upload on the OWN site because too many people were involved. But here, it would just be us. You could email pictures to me and I could upload them. If no arts and crafts are involved, we can still "meet" here to process what we're learning, and ask and answer each other's questions. If you are interested, shoot me an email message or leave a comment below and we can “talk” more about it. The Living Brave Semester starts on January 11, so it will run concurrent with the last few weeks of our precious bookclub. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this, and on this week’s post.

Catch up on the previous chapters here:
Introduction/Chapter 1
Ch. 2
Ch. 3
Ch. 4
Ch. 5
Ch. 6

Okay! Here we go. Thank you Martha.

Chapter 7: The Brave and Brokenhearted

Claudia's reckoning has so many facets, I wonder if she will ever be able to sort through and work out the solution. I feel like her best ally in the rumble is her husband, who is glad to listen and has agreed to share difficulties with each other. When we have a spouse, friend, or other person who is willing to listen, it can make a huge difference in how we battle or rumble with our reckonings.

My original thought about spearheading this post was to choose one of the emotions involved in Claudia's reckoning and speak to that. There are so many emotions intertwined in her story and I like the parts in Chapter 7 where BB tries to explain each one. I feel like each emotion could fill its own book! The descriptions and definitions, the comparing and contrasting of sympathy, empathy and compassion was so intriguing. All these years, I think I have used each term incorrectly or at least interchangeably. It is worth taking another look at each one and really understanding what it means.

And forgiveness is such a huge topic. I really thought forgiveness is what I would write about. Instead, I have other plans! Most books I read do to me exactly what I think they should do – make me want to learn more about the main topic, or one of the ideas involved in the story. For example, when I read "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" by Rebecca Skloot, I studied maps of Virginia where Henrietta Lacks had lived, learned about DNA (as much as I could as this is quite an intricate science,) and looked at the legalities of how your personal medical information can be used. So… forgiveness! I plan to delve into and learn more about forgiveness and what it really is and can be. There are so many sources, including books, internet essays, insight from Oprah and other personalities, friends' opinions, etc.

But when I started to write my Chapter 7 post, my first few lines led me to reflect on my own recent interaction with a beloved friend and how Claudia may be able to get through her rumbling with her own best friend, her husband.

I know that sometimes I need to talk to a good listener, which can be very hard to find, to sort out my feelings and help me to rumble. If you find a good listener, be sure to let them know how much you appreciate them. I have found that there are very few good real listeners. I am so lucky to have a few in my life!

bbas simple as comp

A couple of weeks ago I had a dilemma, and it too was holiday related. It's not so important the details of what it was, but suffice to say it also had many facets for me to deal with and seemed overwhelming to figure out. After going round and round in my head and rumbling with the possibilities and solutions, I called (actually texted) my friend and asked for her time. She is one of probably four friends who I can turn to with complete honesty. I have some really incredible friends. We do all take time to let each other know our love and appreciation for one another.

I asked if she could help by listening to me. Not only was I asking for her time, I wanted her advice, but I told her what I really needed was to hear myself talk and hash things out loud with a sympathetic (empathetic? compassionate?) ear. She was willing to listen! In the short half hour that we spent together, I not only gained some valuable insight from my friend, but as I talked I heard my own truths rise to the surface. It truly helped me to hear myself speak and rumble out loud. My friend had her ideas and suggestions, but was most helpful in the questions that she posed and the reflection of my thoughts that she provided.

That walk and talk was my rumbling and helped provide the revolution that I needed! My difficulties were addressed and answered. Though this particular dilemma was only part of a major problem that I have in my life now, it helped to move me forward in the bigger rumble.

bk world is what you believe

So, my theory in Claudia's story is that her husband may be a key player in helping Claudia to sort out her rumblings. He was able to point out her disconnection with her parents. Though he cannot be expected to provide the solution, I hope it can help her to talk out loud with him and hear his reflections and questions. But more importantly, she may hear herself loud and clear, and learn from herself the best solution, or revolution.

For the new year, my wish is that everyone can have a friend or friends like I do. I am truly blessed.

Up Next: Chapter 8, spearheaded by Xeno Hemlock

P.S. Last week, Nancy mentioned Brené’s super excellent TED talk on vulnerability. It is not to be missed. If you’re interested, you can watch it here.

P.P.S. This Byron Katie meme was too good to pass up since we've been talking about this very thing!

Oh my goodness! And I just saw this meme on Facebook. I think a fan of Elizabeth Gilbert's drew this for her. It applies here. You are ALL my favorite badasses!



  1. When we took a memoir writing class, our teacher made us draw several circles on paper. (Tracey, I'm sure you remember this:)) We were supposed to write down names of people we knew, family and friends, in each of the circles. The innermost circle was where only our most trusted names would go. Those were the only people we could share our stories with without judgment while in the process of writing. The inner most circle were the people we felt most safe with. My inner most circle only had two names in there. Much like Claudia's husband and Martha's friend, these are the only two people I know would listen to me rumble and be empathetic rather than sympathetic. In doing the circle exercise and in reading this chapter and post, I realized just how many of my friends, some of whom I've been friends with for over ten years, I don't feel safe rumbling with. I know they would react with anger, disappointment, or a "fix it" attitude, and that's really the last thing I need when I am vulnerable. For years I allowed those people to do their number on me, leaving me feel more attacked than heard. This year, I intend on setting better boundaries with those people, letting go of expecting them to be different each time and creating relationships that I know nurture me. Thanks for this post Martha, and for the reminder:)

  2. Well done Martha, well written, well thought out, and well – good for you for seeing the insights within yourself! THAT is very powerful in and of itself. When you mentioned friendships – it made me pause and think – really think and remember people of the past (I actually still have contact with the first friend I ever met when I was four years old – so blessings I truly do understand) and the power of FB helping connect with people I never would have been able to find again, now I can touch with words. I spent a LOT of time alone growing up (which I search for now, if I do not have a little alone time, I never feel quite settled within myself, thus getting up before everyone else, to meditate, have my tea and morning pages is much more than a routine) as well as experienced people I thought were friends, but were more leaches with a purpose. It is something very special to have someone you can say anything to, and if you happened to be married to them – well – that's amazing. My husband and I will be together 30 years October. Being a couple one black/one white brought challenges for sure -coping with society. But it is open communication, being good listeners, which takes practice, and finding humor – well, I can't imagine functioning in this life without it. I'm not in any way tooting my own horn. Sometimes marriage sucks! Sometimes I think a little apartment alone would be heaven. And sometimes I wonder what the heck am I doing! Lol!

    Chapter Seven was a tough one for me. There were a multitude of triggers I need to go back and address one by one. It opened memories I thought I had locked up and tucked aside. Now I realize more than ever I need to open the boxes and look at the contents with a different perspective.

    "We can't be vulnerable and open with people who are hurting us." BB – and its ridiculous to try. So why do I keep doing just that expecting something different? Ah – disappointment. Again. Interesting.

    You are absolutely correct in that this chapter holds so much emotion, it almost seems like the chapter could/should have been several chapters!

    Forgiveness: wow – I seem to lean on the Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh for help in that arena. It starts within you. It ends with you. I've learned you can forgive someone and never tell them, but man it allows you to walk away a hell of a lot lighter. It goes back to what my mom would say to me when I was upset about something someone did – and I couldn't stop thinking about it, and it hurt and I felt kept me feeling miserable – when I was making myself miserable! And if I'm repeating myself, please forgive me, she said, "Do not let them live rent free in your brain."

    It took years to full understand, but I can tell you I've evicted more people in my brain than I can name! Do they still get in there? Of course they do, but I recognize them for what they are much quicker and easier now. Ah with time can come wisdom occasionally 😉

    Again, great post Martha!

  3. Chapter 7 resonated with me too – but not for the reasons that Martha mentioned. For me , it was about "expectations" and "disappointment".

    I guess part of me is kind of pissed off because what I learned from my parents (mostly my wonderful Dad) was not to set your goals (read: expectations) too high because when you don't attain them, your disappointment is that much greater. And although my parents offerred us the best of everything, I am kind of pissed off that of all the advice they gave me , that one piece of advice is what has stuck with me.

    So as a parent myself (remember me? the glass is more than half empty pessimist), altough I don't say the words out loud – I can't help tacitly teach this to my kids. I subconsciously squash them at every turn the same way I have blue eyes and breath oxygen. It's part of me and who I am. (along with that self -loathing that comes along with it)

    I guess the saving grace is that my husband is the cock-eyed optimist who really believes you can achieve anything you set your mind to in this life (ya, right). So he's the one they kids go to with their hopes and dreams.

    (grrr…more rumbling now that I have actually had this reckoning and said these things out loud -although I've always known them- about myself )

  4. I love BB's image of "rumbling". It suggests an ongoing, simmering kind of issue that's unresolved and can go on over short or long periods of time.

    Dealing with grief was the idea which hit closest to home for me. I grew up in a situation filled with unresolved grief. My family did the best they could, but the repercussions from this loss still echo in my mother and siblings almost 60 years later. I didn't learn how to grieve well growing up.

    When my dad passed away 20 years ago, a friend gave me a card which compared grief to waves in the ocean. BB's surfing image echoed this idea. It helps me so much, because it gives me permission to let the wave of emotion hit me, and trust that I will come up for air after the wave has passed. I think our culture pressures us to hold the emotions back, and we reward those who are stoic in the face of loss. My experience has shown me that a good cry may be just what I need. The crying lets off some steam, and the pressure of the pain is lessened. Then, because I've done the work of grief, there are other moments that come when I'm surprisingly strong and dry-eyed. I still grieve the loss of my dad, but ever tear I've shed has brought me closer to feeling joy for his continued influence in my life. I'm reminded of this wonderful quote from Vice President Joe Biden, who has certainly had more that his share of grief: “There will come a day — I promise you, and your parents as well — when the thought of your son or daughter, of your husband or wife, brings a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eye. It will happen.”

    Grieving is important, profound, and highly underrated. I appreciate BB's acknowledging this, no matter how big or small the loss may seem to be.

  5. I do remember that exercise, Crystal! Very profound. It is actually very similar to an exercise we had to in Brene's OWN class. One of the very first art projects we had to do was draw a heart. Because, "Courage is a heart word." Brene writes in The Gifts that the root of the word courage is cor–the Latin word for heart. She goes on to say that courage originally meant, "To speak one's mind by telling all one's heart." What a beautiful definition. Similar to what we had to do in class, Brene asked us to think very carefully and to write names inside the heart only of people who had earned the right to hear our stories–written or spoken. How do they earn that right? By being in the arena themselves…Like you, Crystal, I only had two names inside my heart. Whether for a memoir class or for an arts and crafts project about wholehearted living, the point is that we have to be so very careful with who we entrust our hearts to. On one hand, I was grateful to have names to write inside my heart. On the other hand, I was very sadden by what felt like a huge hole in my life where special friends should reside. From that point forward, between then and now, I have endeavored to be the type of person that others would write my name inside their heart. In so doing, I hoped to nourish friendships with people whose names I could write inside my heart. I now have some very special friends whose names I would do just that with; I hope they feel the same about me and I hope we will continue to rumble this rumble together so we can help each other to rise strong. Thanks Crystal, for your reminder as well about boundaries and creating relationships that nourish us.

  6. Man. I LOVE your mom's advice Patty! My mom told me a lot of stuff, but that was not one. I wish she had though, maybe could have saved me twenty or thirty years of handing my power over to to people who sure as hell didn't deserve it. Ugh…what we do to ourselves sometimes. My point is, I can TOTALLY relate to your point about ruminating. I spent most of my life doing that, even after fun times with friends or gatherings or outings that went great. That stupid voice in my head would start to question each interaction, I'd second guess myself. Were my words taken as intended? Did I accidentally say something unkind? Did I say something unkind on purpose? I still struggle with this sometimes, but not nearly as much as I used to. I wish wisdom didn't take so dang long, but oh well. I guess that if it didn't, we wouldn't appreciate it as much. Yes, me too, re: forgiveness. I'm glad BB wrote about it in this book because I remember her writing in a previous book that she wasn't yet prepared to address it because she didn't have enough data. I'm glad she has enough now. I was BLOWN AWAY when I read what Joe said, "In order for forgiveness to happen, something must die." He also said, "It isn't enough to box it up and set it aside. It has to die. It has to be grieved." Huuuggggeeee ssssiiigghhhhh. Well, at least now, I better understand why it is so hard to forgive. And that, even when you think you did so, it can come back to bite you in the ass. Because putting "it" whatever "it" is, into a shoe box and burying it in the back yard is not forgiveness. I imagine that the process of self-forgiveness is the same as BB outlines from Archbishop Tutu…I think I will be doing some serious research, soul searching, and working to figure that one out! Thanks for your great comment Patty!

  7. Thank you for sharing what resonated with you Wendy. Expectations and resentment are huge for so many people, I think, including me! But here's two things I wonder about your comment here and your post…First, since I know you, I wonder if you've given thought to how far of a journey it might be for you to go from calling yourself a pessimist to a realist? I'm certainly and absolutely NOT trying to "argue" with you about how you define yourself…nor am I trying to change you or anything like that. But, from the way I've read your post and comment, it sounds like you may be a little bit upset or dissatisfied that this is your point of view and that your kids may end up having the same pov. I find many of the things you say to me to be very realistic as opposed to pessimistic. I understand your frustration and disappointment about not setting goals too high as the lesson you most remember your parents teaching you. But here's the other thing I wonder, and again, I'm NOT suggesting this is easy or a quick trip or anything like that. But, we can still set goals without having expectations of always having success. If we learn how to practice acceptance, we can still set those high goals and learn to accept each day's outcome for whatever it is. This is hard to write about in a short burst here, expectations and acceptance are huge issues that I've grappled with for the last couple of years in different ways dealing with my daughter's illness and my own reactions to it and learning from it. I've had to learn how to apply the principle of acceptance to many different aspects of my life, at first, not at all because I wanted to, but because I might have gone crazy, literally, if I didn't. It is work I continue to do today, and almost every day. It might sound easy, but it's really fucking hard. Anyway, I guess what I'm trying to say is, I wonder what you think of these ideas? Being realistic has less of a negative connotation that pessimistic and you can absolutely encourage "high" reaching goals simultaneous to acceptance of what is. Like I said–kind of pie in the sky…but it can be done. To be cutesy–I'm trying to help turn your frown upside down!! Plus-this makes me think that maybe I've gone into fix-it mode–but really, I'm just trying to let you know that I don't see you as such a negative person! So there!

  8. Thank you for his lovely and insightful comment Maria. I especially love your last point, that grief is important, profound, and highly underrated no matter how big or small. This is such a great point. I don't really think I know how to grieve at all, so I can relate to what you say about the lingering effect of the loss in your childhood and then in your adulthood. I wrote a week or two ago in a comment about the death of my baby sister Lauren and how my parents were never the same after that. It took a while, but their marriage ended because of it. Lauren's death was NEVER discussed. Silence is the killer. They didn’t know how to grieve. They sure couldn’t teach me how to. It’s not their fault, of course. As we’ve said here before, you can’t teach what you don’t know. But this chapter, and your comment Maria make me think back to the deaths of my parents. I realize that I don't think I properly grieved either one, but especially my mother's death. Three weeks later, the first symptoms of my daughter's illness emerged. That was almost 4 years ago now. Me thinks it might be time to also, even before forgiveness, do some figuring out about grief. I just love so much how you write about your dad. Thanks again.

  9. Martha, yes, there were so many emotions in this chapter to think about. Taking so many weeks to get through all the chapters in this book, with weeks off during the holidays, was a good idea, Tracey! Just like therapy, it doesn't seem possible to get the full benefit (or anywhere near it) by going through the lessons quickly.

    There are so many pieces of gold to collect & think about & utilize in Brene's work. One topic in this chapter that really hit me was forgiveness. It really is a gift to yourself.

    For almost 50 years, I felt that I lived in the shadow of my brother, like Claudia lived in her sister's shadow. As a child, trying to voice my feelings about my brother or the family dynamics led nowhere except to feel shame that I had any right to want for more than the IQ I was lucky enough to have (as compared to my brother's). As I got older, my complaints were curtly replied to with the ol' "He can't help it; he's just that way; ignore him."

    There were two major things wrong with that reply. First, my parents didn't give my brother enough credit. Second, my parents completely missed the fact that I had feelings that needed to be addressed.

    After my brother died in 2009, I began to rumble. I had a lot of a-ha moments and felt a lot of anger toward my parents. I didn't have a how-to guide on processing the deep pain within me. I just wrote a lot. The key to healing didn't come until about 2 to 3 years after my brother's death. The key? Grieving for the childhood I longed for but had missed out on. Brene is right on! I didn't know I'd feel better in the long run if I let that longing die. I just felt I had to mourn the childhood that never was for my little-girl-self.

    It was then that I could see how my parents were doing the best they could, that they surely had other burdens besides raising an "intellectually-challenged" child, that they had no intent to harm me. I was able to forgive them for the mistakes I felt they'd made.

    This doesn't mean I should forget or want to forget those hard times. This doesn't make my childhood OK. It surely doesn't mean the pain is completely gone. What it does mean is that I don't think about those times as much and the memories I have are not tethered to such intense emotions. I freed up a lot of mental energy that focused on how I had been a victim. I am left with more energy to strive toward a wholehearted life.

  10. Thanks for jumping into this post, Martha, both feet first! I know you were nervous about it. Thanks for being a badass and allowing your vulnerability to carry you into our arena. I'm so glad you have those close friends in your life, the type of friends that you can tell anything to. Kind of feels to me like that (among other things, too of course) but that's the kind of thing that makes life worth living.Having people you trust, who can trust you and always being there for each other. Just beautiful.

    So, as I feel like I've written about here ad nauseam (which I do by the way about topics that I feel passionately about because I'm still working hard to understand them better) is the idea of expectations. I can tell you that at the worst part of our journey with my daughter, when I was laying on a gurney next to her in the emergency room because she wished not to be alive, that the pain I experienced over the realization that I might have to let go of every single expectation I ever had for her, from finishing school to getting married to having a family of her own to even being alive, was the most profoundly devastating moment I've experienced in my life. More so, by far, than the deaths of my parents. Expectations became a dirty word to me and I've tried not to have any since. Which is actually a lot harder than it sounds. Of course I did what BB suggests and visualized her entire life long before any of it happened. We do that, don't we? Especially about the types of lives we think our kids will live. I was doing this all the time on a much smaller scale too, visualizing entire scenarios. Then, when things didn't work out, disappointment. Thus, again, why I tried to eradicate them from my life. Over time, I realized this was impossible (at least in my current state of knowledge and practice) which really pissed me off.

    Recently, I read Brainstorm by Daniel Siegel and he writes about expectations. "We come to life with expectations that's just the way our brain works. It is an anticipation machine, setting up from prior experiences a neurological filter that enables us to get ready for the next thing. We survive in the world because of these filters. WE MAKE SENSE OF THE WORLD AND THEN GET READY FOR WHAT THE WORLD IS LIKELY TO DISH UP. That's what expectations empower us to do. They also make it difficult for us to see clearly what's in front of us."

    So–I really appreciated reading this. Expectations have a place in our life, hence, my inability to get rid of them. I could not possibly have known that the world was going to dish up a plate of severe depression with a side of eating disorder–thus the profound pain I experienced. Then I read BB's point about how we don't make our expectations explicit. Now, figuring out what we will and won't be able to get done on a weekend is obviously different that expectations around the lives of our children and I still believe there are circumstance where we have to let go of having expectations, but it really helped me to understand that they do have their place and the key to not letting them rule my world and or turn into disappointment and resentment is the ability to remain the present and to accept how life is, which might not be what I was expecting, but that's okay.

  11. There's sooooooooooooooooo much in this chapter! Yes. So many emotions. So much to know and to learn and to practice. Two other things really struck me in this chapter.

    One is a carryover from The Gifts and that is the Pema Chodron quote that compassion can only be practiced between equals. One hundred percent, this knowledge changed my life. It is a work in progress, but it also profoundly changed my relationship with my daughter. I realized that I could not be compassionate with her if I came at our relationship from a position of authority as her mother. I'm sure not everyone will agree with me here, but we aren't entitled to nor are we superior in any way to our children because we are a parent. I know some people who believe and certainly act like this is true. We have been taught the status quo of parenting demands certain behavior from our children and respect etc etc. But my relationship with my daughter changed dramatically for the better when I got down from the high horse I hadn't really realized I was on, and worked to address her from the same level, as an equal. Again, this is not easy. Old habits die hard and I often hear myself say things that absolutely are not directed toward an equal, but it was an epiphany (another epiphany) that I work to maintain awareness of and to practice every day.

    Last, (phew, I know!) is the idea of longing. For a long time toward the beginning of work on my memoir, I identified it as my journey out of longing. Longing is, easily, the emotion I most remember and feel is most akin with my childhood. Most of the time, I had no idea why I was longing or what I was longing for. When I got a little older, I identified that my longing must be related to the way I looked. If I could only look "right" which meant, back then, like a Charlie's Angel or Wonder Woman my life would be just fine. This curse has been stuck to me like gum to the bottom of my shoe for my entire adult life. In large part, it's still what I'm writing my memoir about just now from a slightly different point of view. "Longing is not conscious wanting; it's an involuntary yearning for wholenss, for understanding, for meaning, for the opportunity to regain or even simply touch what we've lost. (I might add, what we never had i.e. from our parents.) Eckhart Tolle in A New Earth writes, “The longing for love that is in every child is the longing to be recognized, not on the level of form, but on the level of Being. If parents honor only the human dimension of the child but neglect Being, the child will sense that the relationship is unfulfilled, that something absolutely vital is missing…’Why don’t you recognize me?’ This is what the pain or resentment seems to be saying.” Wow…the more I do around this work the more the longing (and a host of other negative emotions) diminish. It’s the point, really, isn’t it? To get to a place where we can manage and accept and even glorify the difficult because we’ve learned and grown enough to understand their place within and beside us; their place in making us the glorious and complicated beings that we are. !

  12. So much in this chapter! I loved reading everyone's posts. Such good insight!
    I am rumbling with grief and the need to forgive in some very acute ways. I recognize how being angry and blaming are like me "drinking the poison and hoping my enemies will die". Writing SFD's is helping me sort through my head talk. Rumbling on…

  13. Crystal,

    I can relate to what you wrote here. Most of my friends mean well but not all of them are good listeners. I refused to acknowledge that, turning a blind eye to it for a time, and allowed disappointment and resentment to take roots. I found the courage to accept that they're my friends but not people I can rumble with, in the process finding peace because that didn't have to disappoint me again.

    The good side about that is my eyes became more open to souls who are good listeners, I can be vulnerable with. Being aware of it taught me how to appreciate those rare souls who know how to pacify a raging heart even without saying a lot of words.

    I have a friend who is like this. He'll be leaving the country in a few months. It's bittersweet. He'll be missed but at the same time, I make sure to appreciate him while he's still around.

  14. Great story Patricia!

    And no, you don't have to apologise for "tooting your own horn". You should be proud and not be ashamed of being proud of what you have accomplished and gone through.

    I see lots of relationship dying prematurely lately and 30 years together, – that's admirable. You have every reason to be proud.

  15. Wendy, Tracey,

    I'm currently reading a book – The 10X Rule by Grant Cardone. In it, he bursts the myths of "just doing enough", "not reaching too high". I immediately taught of the book when Wendy mentioned not setting goals/expectations high.

    Not sure if you've read it but it may be worth a look.

  16. I am not a parent but, Tracey, I liked what you did, getting off the high horse and building a relationship with your daughter as their equal, and not as an authoritarian mother.

    I wish I had that kind of relationship with my parents. They're not authoritarian compared to others but we're so far away emotionally. We may live in the same house but we are strangers in our own home.

  17. First of all, I loved the part in this chapter about LONGING. It's so well described. I underlined the entire paragraph. It looked like poetry to me, the way BB put it into words.

    But I want to focus on two things:

    First, Claudia's story. Family.

    Recently one of my sisters got into deep trouble (which I cannot divulge here for her privacy). I reacted harshly, saying to my mom she should get what she deserves. She should pay the consequences of her actions. That's the right thing to do. My mother didn't get angry at me when I said that. Instead she put her focus on helping my sister get out of her predicament. I accompanied my mother through the ordeal, in trying to salvage my sister, and it turned out to be a success. She was able to help her.

    Ever since then, my image of mother became Super Mother. I can't really feel what it's like to be a mother and do everything to protect your child but I can say I feel almost close to that. I replayed the events and remembered me being the cold and logical (INTP personality type thank you) character in the story while my mother saved the day with compassion, understanding, and motherly love. I felt ashamed when the story ended. It reminded me I should try exercising more compassion from there on out.

    Second thing I took away from the chapter is FORGIVENESS.

    I'm stoic (and trying to change this), loves to work, expects (there's that word) excellence from myself and others. The ugly side is sometimes I can be my own critic and can be the first person to deny myself forgiveness.

    I got sick during the last week of 2015 and had to postpone my final article to 2016. This was one of the times I realised I have learned to forgive myself. Not to use forgiveness as a means of accepting mediocrity but I realised I should also exercise compassion to myself. Instead of mentally berating myself for various reasons (not doing the article ahead of time, not being 100% with my health, crafting a "weird" schedule of posting an article at the end of the year). It was futile, I thought. With forgiveness, I realised I'm human and things don't go the way we always want them to be.

    Then I realised that from that point forward, if I'm going to implement changes in my life, to improve it, there will be a learning curve. I may learn the new ropes easily. I may not. But one thing I shall never do again is be my own critic. Being forgiving to ourselves, I believe, will help us deal better with failures, move on, and keep fighting to improve our lives.

  18. Great insights, Xeno! They seem to come in time as we are ready to face our truths. Surely I wish my insights came sooner, but I know I wasn't ready to come to terms with certain things sooner. I think as we come to understand ourselves more, we realize it's best to be brave with our feelings. The sooner we jump in for the rumble, the sooner will work toward living the life we want.

  19. "We can't be vulnerable and open to people who are hurting is." Let me start with that powerful statement and explore it a bit. First, I have to admit that Chapter 7 was simply packed with triggers and "salting" of deeply embedded wounds that I have rumbled with for most of my life through some first-rate therapy and on my own. As I've shared earlier, I was sexually abused by a family member when I was 12-13 years old. This was 53 years ago. I am exposed to this person at various family events, not often but perhaps 1-2 times per year. On several occasions, he has cornered me and launched into a detailed discussion and apology of what he did to me. These encounters are beyond uncomfortable for me as he even describes how irresistible he found me to be. He queried during one such discussion a few years ago "so…no harm, no foul, right?" This after I suggested he seek psychiatric help and told him that while I have done so and have been able to overcome, through understanding, some of the tragic past, I could never agree that there was "no harm, no foul" as if those years were no big deal. He is obviously plagued with guilt. Here is my current rumble: I have made myself vulnerable to this person in some unrealistic, idealistic, blindly hopeful belief that perhaps if I will it so, ours can be a "normal," or relatively normal family. It has gotten tangled up in the power of forgiveness; I can forgive him, but I simply cannot seem to have a comfortable, trusting relationship with this person. Whenever I am around him, I feel abused again, emotionally. As I went through cancer treatments in 2015, he showed up twice at the hospital with his fiancé. Clearly, I was as vulnerable as a person can be. He was kind, comforting, said all the right things in the presence of his fiancé. I am ashamed to admit that I was taken in, once again jumping at the chance that there might be an opportunity for this unattainable normalcy I so wish for in my life. This does not end well. He made a huge point of inviting me and my husband to his wedding, I received a call from him a month ago informing me that the wedding had taken place overThanksgiving. In short, I have concluded that I can no longer make myself vulnerable to this person and have no recourse but to detach completely. I guess what I want to share with you is that sometimes, even after more than 50 years of pain, rumbling, therapy, more rumbling, and attempts to forgive, the reconciliation is with oneself and involves accepting some harsh realities in order to move forward. Thank you for "listening" to my story. My husband has been my best friend through all of this but he is unable to "fix" this one entirely. It is not a story I can share with many -old friends know my family, and extended family, well, just too many people would be hurt. Too many years have past and this happened long before victims were encouraged to "come out." I think it's past time to just let go.

  20. Susan, I love what you share about the need to accept, to recognize that people do or did the best they could, and how freeing those enormous steps forward can be. It took most of my life to rumble with and reach that enlightenment where my parents were concerned but better late than never! I've been able to share the experience, the journey, with my daughter (now 44) and feel as if it's my legacy to her, her children, and future generations.

  21. Xeno – what you've realized about self-forgiveness is probably the most important lesson anyone can learn! From a fellow-INTP, I know how difficult, if not impossible, if is to be vulnerable enough to let down our protective barriers. We think and process and feel so much! Good news is that it's all good – we just have to recognize our gifts and leverage them. One of the most valuable lessons I have learned is to give myself the time and space I need to gain strength from that deep internal well. Sounds like you are way ahead of where I was at your age! Thanks for sharing.

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