Rising Strong International cyber-Bookclub – Ch. 4
You can read the posts on the previous chapters here:
Okay. Here we go! Thank you Crystal.
Chapter Four: The Reckoning
The Courage to Be the Author of Your Own Life
How do we take control over our lives and our stories?
We take a deep breath, walk into discomfort, engage with our feelings and get curious about how our emotions connect with our behavior.
Being Asian American, I grew up in a family and culture that places great value in being able to hide emotions. They call it “saving face.” That means giving off an impression to the world of happiness, success and control no matter what is going on internally. When I would cry out of sadness, I was told to stop and “be strong.” Recently, a very close family member told me that he thought that me writing about my feelings and overcoming my life’s obstacles was a sign of weakness.
He said, “You must not be strong enough to keep it to yourself.”
I knew it was the farthest thing from the truth, but nevertheless, it broke my heart.
The mentality I grew up with was, “If you are going to suffer, do it in silence.” But silence can kill you. I know this from personal experience, because as a young adult I began rapidly deteriorating both emotionally and physically from my lifetime of “keeping it to myself.” Brené calls this “Stockpiling Hurt.”
After internalizing hurt for too long, our bodies are the first to decide that enough is enough and we ultimately suffer from health problems, depression and anxiety.
The term wellness experts use to describe the initial stages of a body cleanse or naturally treating gut problems is “die off.” You suffer from all of the symptoms you’ve had plus additional ones as the toxins and bad bacteria start to die and leave the body. You may break out, become extremely lethargic and feel sick to your stomach. It isn’t pretty, but it’s necessary in order to achieve optimal health and wellness.
In order to live whole-heartedly, I believe we must go through a similar die off when we are emotionally cleansing ourselves. Becoming a professional dancer, and now a writer, has forced me to get curious about my feelings and find ways to express my truth to the world. A great dancer emotes and a successful writer touches the soul. I don’t think it was a coincidence that I chose these professions.
I was starving to feel.
Writing my story and bringing the darkness to light has brought its own challenges. I’ve had to face opposition, risk losing relationships and disappointing family members whom I love. It hasn’t been easy or painless, but there’s nothing more painful than living in the shadows of our stories controlled by someone else.
We all want to be whole. We all want to have the freedom to be ourselves with no excuses. Brené reminds us that we must give ourselves permission to feel, lean in and dig deep. I was inspired when I read these words of hers: “It often takes just a single brave person to change the trajectory of a family, or of any system, for that matter.”
We have more power than we think.
I beg to differ with my family member who thinks what I am doing is weak. Before I could start questioning whether I had made a mistake by following my heart, I firmly told him that what I do is not a sign of weakness. He may never believe me, but that doesn’t matter.
I choose courage as my story.
How do you choose to write your story?
This is the end of Crystal’s post. You can find Crystal blogging here. I encourage all of you to check out her website and sign up for her newsletter.
Supplement on Integration
(This is not part of Ch. 4. I wrote this in one of my comments last week and wanted to put it here again for anyone interested in knowing more about what integration is and why it’s important. If you’re not going back once in a while to check out the conversations going on in the comment section, I urge you to do so. There’s great dialogue happening.)
Details on integration from Dr. Dan Siegel’s stupendous book, Brainstorm:
Integration, which is the linking of different parts of the brain, creates more coordination in the brain itself. We use our intuition to guide our decisions as we aim for positive values, honoring what matters to us. This is gist thinking. Gist thinking helps us develop judgment (the good kind.) The more integrated our brains are, the more effective. What we focus our attention on and what we spend time doing directly stimulate the growth of those part of the brain that carry out those functions. The growth of the frontal lobes permits us to experience our human ability of knowing about knowing. (This is where the idea of the gap I've written about comes in–our ability to know about knowing.) Without proper integration, our thinking can become too rigid or to chaotic. There are 5 separate areas of information flow coordinated and balanced by the prefrontal region: cortex, limbic area, brainstem, body proper, and the social world. When these are linked together, we call that integration. Integration creates the master functions of self-awareness, reflection, planning, decision making, empathy, and morality. Learning to deal with emotions means being aware of them and modifying them inside us so we can think clearly. Taking time to reflect inwardly is the science-proven way to create integration in the brain. Attention is the way we activate specific circuits in the brain and strengthen them.
I wanted to give you some of this information because it's the mechanism by which creativity strengthens integration and, as you can see, proper integration then impacts positively every area of our life. For the longest time, I wondered why I felt better emotionally after creating art. (This is not always true when I write—ugh, writing often frustrates me, but c'est la vie.) This is the answer: The act of paying attention, even if we're not exactly sure what we're paying attention to, helps us link different parts of our brain, moves us away from being too rigid or too chaotic, and makes our brain literally function better.
I've gone on a bit here, but I think this stuff is fascinating and important especially since BB informs us that integration is the engine that moves us through the reckoning, the rumble, and the revolution and is what goes into making us whole.
Up Next: Chapter 5 spearheaded by Nancy Glenn
Thank you for sharing your struggles to own your story. I too have experienced the push-back from family members when I express emotions that make them uncomfortable. As I read BB's section on "chandelier pain," I remembered times when something I said triggered an over-the-top reaction from one or more folks. I learned to stockpile my hurt to keep the peace.
BB's discussion of "The Umbridge" really hit home. I recently experienced a person who fits that description so well! The disconnect between what her behaviors said, and what my intuition told me was behind those behaviors, was crazy-making. It was like herding cats trying to make sense of every interaction. (Why can't people just say what they mean, ask for what they need, and admit when they need help?)
Thinking about this experience with this person gradually led me to reflect on when I've behaved like the "Unikitty." I see now that, in this situation and other times in life, my efforts to appear upbeat and in control were not only my ego acting out, but also a codependent response. I stockpiled the hurt to keep others from hitting the chandelier. What I learned at home, I carried into the workplace.
With the guidance of a wise friend, I realized how much I was hurting myself in this situation. And, as BB predicts, my body decided that enough was enough. I love her words: "The body's message is always clear: Shut down the stockpiling or I'll shut you down. The body wins every time…. There is so much wisdom in our bodies." I'm getting better at asking my body what it "thinks" about things, and it's always, always, right. My mind and ego may not be immediately willing to carry out what my body advises, but I'm getting better at honoring its answers.
Last thought: I LOVE BB's closing story from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. My daughter, a HUGE Star Wars fan, and I just watched that movie last weekend. Perfect timing. <3
Thanks Maria, the body thing is huge. I'm also working on asking my body what it thinks more. I tend to forget. A lot of the times, I will feel it trying to talk to me and sometimes I don't hear it until after the fact and then I have to think back to what might have triggered it from before. Thanks for your comments and I love the Star Wars story as well. I've got my tickets to go see it next weekend:)
We have tickets, too. Can't wait!
Thank you for sharing pages of your journey, it hits home in so many ways for me personally. Funny how that works isn't it? No matter the culture, religion, skin color – we have these shadows in our family that are not caused by light. Its important to find face, not saving face. Although I do believe there are times when saving face is extremely powerful. To keep silent can put someone on edge and make them wonder if they have pushed you too far (family members are particularly good at that!) I've learned the hard way not to show my hand to quickly and keep silent, when what I really wanted to do is scream! However I commend you for speaking your truth – it would be interesting if your uncle was honest with himself to say if he was if not proud of you – at the very least admired your courage.
Chapter Four spoke at me, ha, even yelled at me "See this?! You need this! Read it again!!" – my inner voice is sometimes very, very loud. I'll just share four things that stood out a little louder than the rest.
1. Choosing to write my own story means getting uncomfortable. Writing it is choosing courage over comfort. – when I first considered writing a memoir, I was chatting with Laura and shared there was some really difficult things that happened (I know, I know, get in line, we ALL have had terrible and I sincerely hope more wonderful happen in our lives). But she said something that made me pause, which was I had options. I did not have to write a memoir, I could write a novel and say anything I damn well pleased without upsetting the delicate balance of family. At first I thought – noooo thats not what I want. But as I began to do the work in understanding being a writer (and believe me I am just scratching the surface) it began to make sense to me. I also had a talk with myself, that what I am working on now, will not be the only thing I want to finish. I'm working on a novel, but have rough sketches of two other books – both very different. If that works, then I can write my memoir freely, without filter or maybe not at all. Options. I must walk into my story right? I have to prove it to myself and only to myself that I am worthy.
Next: I want Oreos!! I don't buy them, because I have no will power. If they are in the house, I will eat them until they are gone. But it rattled my cage – I can decide what to put in my mouth and into my soul. Recently I was in an online writing group that is the most self centered toxic feeling place I've ever been. People were praising the facilitator aka God like human, praising him so much that they could not see how controlling, vulgar – might know all the rules of writing, but is making money by having these people believe as an editor – his is the first and last word. Then it dawned on me when I read BB's words – he is "hustling for worthiness" – all of a sudden I did not need his approval, or rules, or advice. I choose. I no longer have a taste for Oreos. Now that probably will turn into something else, because I am not perfect and mistakes are waiting for me to make them. They may be in the form of cinnamon buns next time. But thats okay, because I will be in control and not visa versa.
Tactical Breathing: This resonated with me because I have meditated for a long time. I prefer walking meditations. I can give and love to receive visual meditations. I've also fired a weapon that taught the breathing technique – with a slight difference at the end. And its important in the actual firing of the weapon. Of course you decide for yourself if it helps or makes little difference in your mediation. It is after all, personal. It helps me pause and be mindful – and I need all the help I can get with that! Before you squeeze the trigger – you open your mouth – relax. Fire. Someone smarter than I can explain why that helps hitting the target, but when I do the breathing mediation, I give pause and open my mouth – more mindful, different then letting the air slip past. It relaxes my jaw – face – neck. Such a simple action. Just my thoughts.
Lastly, the three legged stool. Years ago I was at a seminar with Stephen K. Hayes. He asked us to take notes on his lecture and said he was going to give us the gift of accomplishing anything in the world we would ever want to do. He said it was called the San-mitsu – Thought. Word. Deed. He said if you want to do something – whatever it may be – you must give it a lot of thought. Really, really think about it. You need to write it down, how will you do it, read about it, research it, plan it, develop it. Then you must do it – deed. Go forward – make it happen. If any one of these stool legs are missing – you will fail. Talk about 'do the work', 'day two is important'. How wild is that?!
"Why can't people just say what they mean, ask for what they need, and admit when they need help?" Great questions, Maria. I often wonder this too. I guess, sadly, for the people who "umbridge" they don't even understand they're doing it. I also appreciate that you commented regarding what BB has to say about our bodies. Crystal writes about this often in her "regular" blog posts. It's so interesting to me and I know I've said this before, but it is so interesting that we all come from such diverse backgrounds and experiences, yet all start to reach the same realizations via these different pathways. I, too, have learned how to pay more attention to my body and what it is telling me I need. I learned this journey mostly through my writing life, but continue to be awakened to new and important ways my body is trying to get my attention. This helps me make better decisions with my time, employ better boundaries, and feel generally healthier. So great–thx for your comments Maria.
Patty- You're funny! Oreos aren't my thing, but I SO GET IT. Onward, I have a lot of trouble sleeping so employ the breathing exercise often in the middle of the night when I'm trying to get back to sleep. I was doubtful it would help the first few times I tried it. Boy, was I wrong. I'm still shocked by how relaxing the technique is. I have not yet tried it when I'm triggered emotionally–but I've been trying to come up with ways I can remind myself to do instead of responding off the cuff. One of these days…And to your last point. Gee whiz. Yes. I spent a long long time in the past thinking about amazing things I wanted and hoped to accomplish. The problem was that I never did the work to achieve them. I don't know what I was waiting for, but as we talked last time about failure, oddly, not achieving was a much more comfortable or at least familiar place to be. I'm glad I've started to learn how to do the work and dig deep. Thanks Patty!
Thank you for your wonderful post, Crystal. I am sorry that your close family member hurt you so. As we grow and develop in our learning, it is, in some ways, comforting to be able to understand where the other person is coming from and how he or she has missed the mark, but this does not diminish the pain those wayward comments can cause. I love your information about "die off." I have experienced this a few times, not in a major way as you have with complete changes to your diet, but there have been times my body has rendered me almost immobile with fatigue etc. I mentioned this recently in a writing class I took and the teacher went on to tell us a story about a time when she was working on a memoir. She was writing about a serious accident that happened to her, she almost lost her life, and she found, as she wrote, that she often had to take to her bed. She thought there was something wrong with her medically. It turned out that it was part of the healing process her body needed to go through over the trauma, through the writing process. I've realized that I sometimes feel this way too when I'm writing about something deeply personal and traumatic. I have learned how to appreciate that more and to give myself enough love to take a nap or rest when needed. This is a deep act of self-care in today's hyper paced society. I am also lucky enough to be able to carve time out of my week to work on creative endeavors like coloring, painting, making collages and also photography. I take pictures at all of my daughter's water polo games! Two birds with one stone! LOL…
I, for one, want to say Crystal that I'm so happy for you and for all of us that you have turned towards courage and owning your story. I'm learning a lot from your process too! Thanks again for the wonderful post.
A couple of other quick (I hope) thoughts re: this chapter. Under Getting Curious, I love that BB brings up her belief that when it comes to curiosity, nothing is wasted. I, too, have looked back on my distant and not-so-distant past with feelings of resentment or regret or any number of negative emotions. I, again, am learning this also through my writing process. Writing is a place I sometimes fall into the hole of shoulds. Should be making more progress, writing faster, learning more, finding it easier by now, etc. Rationally, I know all of this is ridiculous. I have learned over time that writing is, of course, an extension of my life/world. I've learned to let go and to accept, that every word I've written every detour and every "mistake" I've made is leading me exactly where I need to go. Nothing is wasted. This is a huge comfort and creates an entirely different type of energy inside my body. This also is the foundation for me to integrate what I'm learning into me as a whole.
"Doing, not feeling, fixes problems." Man, is this huge in my life. I grew up with a "dry emotional well" too. I think many of us have. It's not anyone's fault, it just is. I believe this is why we launch into "fix-it" mode as adults. I know I do. I have struggled with this and still do when it comes to interactions in my life, especially with my daughter. There are times when her recovery is less smooth than others. Right now, she's going through a tough time. She's being particularly hard on herself and saying things about herself that simply are not true. Just last night I jumped into "reality testing" with her. This is a valid therapeutic tool, but she didn't need that at the moment. She needed me to shut up and just listen. Ugh…so hard. My drive (read, discomfort and pain) in the face of her pain and the urge to make her feel better is so INCREDIBLY strong. It continues to be a serious work in progress for me to move away from that ingrained behavior. My husband is a literal do-er as opposed to the more thinking doer. Tough times are responsible for my beloved office addition in our house and a new deck in the back yard. Etc…LOL, human beings are pretty fascinating!
I also appreciated the point BB called being high-centered. I have certainly felt this way in life, but didn't have the language to so clearly identify it. This was very helpful. Along with her point that writing (like she writes permission slips) is a powerful tool for setting intentions. I usually think of intention as thought…and didn't stop to think what a powerful addition to intention writing things down would be. I write a lot of course, but this will help me pay attention to certain things I'm writing in a new way, and to start writing other things.
Great stuff. Thank you everyone!
Goodness! Every page of this chapter was gold. Ms. Brown is legendary.
Thank you for sharing your story. I can relate to what you said about culture. It is the same here in the Philippines. Both sides of my family (mother and father) do not encourage acknowledging emotions. I grew up feeling them but with very little understanding. This is where The Reckoning came in. I wanted to know how and why I felt things. I wanted to know more beyond the “keep your stoic face on and don’t show vulnerability”. I don’t want to carry further that generational disease and hopefully others will do the same.
Thanks also for sharing that term “die off”. I too have been opened to the link between our physical and emotional states. I used to have acne which wouldn’t go away, tried different treatments and visited more than one doctor to no avail. It wasn’t until I learned to address my emotional issues when they magically subsided without having to spend more money. That’s when it hit me, the connection.
This: “I was starving to feel.” is so on point.
This popped in mind: A dry emotional well is just a well. It can still be filled.
First and foremost, every page of this chapter was awesome.
The first paragraph nudged me on the stomach. “It doesn’t matter whether we are ready for an emotional adventure – hurt happens.” This was so true in my case. I wasn’t ready three years ago. If you asked me then, I would most likely say NO to the adventure. I’d rather stay in my comfort zone without the hurt and other “strange” feelings. But if you ask me now, I’d look up in the sky and thank whoever’s in charge of shaking things on Earth and say “Thank you. Thank you for plucking me out of my comfort zone against my will. Thank you for throwing me in a pool of mud to put my life in disarray, the disarray that eventually lead to peace and authenticity. I’m so grateful.” The idealistic part of me believes in this grand design in the universe and the opening paragraph reminded me of that.
“We don’t have to pinpoint the emotion accurately – we just need to recognize that we’re feeling something.”
I think in today’s world there’s always this automaton where things must be clear and stated right away. It’s the curse of information being so easily accessible. People now believe things Googling or Wikipedia-ing things will resolve everything. But it’s not the case for everything. Good things don’t happen overnight. Great things too. I am a fan of taking things “slow”, stumbling upon things along the way. As a creative, most of my output don’t arrive in a linear fashion. And I used to berate myself for not knowing everything right away. Until I learned to accept that some things blossom in their own way and in their own time, the false belief caused me stress. Also, my journey didn’t begin with a clear path from the start. There were turns and twists along the way, which I believe were crucial parts of strengthening my identity and path, but looking back now it all happened because I acknowledged that I was feeling something instead of ignoring it. I acknowledged my hurts and my dissatisfaction with what my life had become.
I love the section “GETTING CURIOUS”. I like hanging out with curious people, those who have confidence yet at the same time are aware they still don’t know a lot of things. For me, that’s an informal environment in learning.
One example was when I ended my training with my former personal trainer because over time the B.S. made itself known. Whenever I asked him why a certain exercise should be done, what was it for, why wasn’t it like that, he was quick to shrug me off, often blurting “You ask too many questions. Just do it.” Of course, I kept mum about it but it was a big, red flag that I shouldn’t employ him anymore. I wouldn’t tolerate someone who didn’t welcome an open-mind and shunned curiosity. I felt it was a slight of some form with my creativity.
I had also became selective to having people in my life. It’s not about being a snob, but I realised that life is “too short” to waste on people who live in limits. When we’re surrounded by people who are curious, creative, achievers, and flowing with zest in life, we become like that too. That has been one of my beloved motto in the past year or two.
This section reminded me of a former friend, who I considered a close one but we’re not friends anymore. On the surface, she appeared nice and level-headed but behind the curtain, she was a nasty piece of work, saying mean things about other people after smiling and buttering them up in front of their face. I was blind to it, because I thought of her as my friend, even when other people were repelled by her. Eventually, I accepted the truth about her and chose to have nothing do with her anymore. She became an ultimate lesson for me of someone I shouldn’t strive to be.
Thanks to everyone for their comments, inspiration and trust! I have one thing to add about the breathing. One of my clients teaches breathing for actors. He said that when we are truly listening to someone else, our jaws naturally relax and open. He has made me realize just how unrelaxed my jaw is all the time, even when I'm meditating and think I'm super relaxed. If our jaws and breathing are not really relaxed, we aren't really listening and present to what is going on around us. I'm noticing how every little thing in my daily life gets me tense. To help this, I've been practicing breathing in through my nose and out through a relaxed jaw, tongue resting on the bottom as opposed to the top. The opening of the mouth/relaxing of the jaw, like Patricia mentioned is key. I do this while meditating, in the car and before bed. This is the beginning of learning to release tension which is actually stored in many other places in my body.
Thanks for sharing, Crystal. Rising strong after you grew up being told to "save face" as a societal norm makes for an intriguing story. I'm going to check out your blog!
And Xeno, about your comment, "Every page of this chapter was gold." – – – Yes! This chapter resonated with me so much that it felt like I'd talked to her for hours and then she wrote this chapter about me! lol
Here are some snippets from this chapter that apply/applied to me:
– in my early years, I wasn't exposed to the idea that I could write my own story; I unwittingly handed that power over to others
– I hustled for my own worthiness
– I wasn't raised with the concept that my feelings mattered; I shut down; I went into "off-load" mode; I failed to get curious about my emotions
– I disengaged from tough emotions; they defined me
– I didn't know what to do with discomfort and vulnerability, so I ran from the pain; I chandeliered; I bounced hurt; I stockpiled hurt
As far back as I can remember, I knew my brother had lots of problems. My parents did a lot of off-loading themselves because of that, by the way. The veneer of my mother's Pollyanna attitude started to crack a bit over the years. That finally sealed the deal for me – – I needed to "be strong", meaning I had to go through the motions of a seemingly great college experience, lest I wind up being a mess like my mother was, lest I wind up not being the golden child my parents put their hopes & dreams in.
My body knew something was wrong, just as Brene says happens. I'd felt anxious & depressed to a lesser degree in the past, but those college years were brutal in those departments.
I learned to investigate my emotions by going to a therapist. I'm grateful I've come as far as I have. Brene has taught me so much lately that I feel I'm growing at an exponential rate. So thanks to everyone for sharing your journey, to keep us aware that not only are we not alone in our struggles, we are strong because we choose to reckon.
Thanks to everyone for your wholehearted posts! You are inspiring, each in unique ways. I do find intersections with every story. I'm sorry for my delay in responding but I want to get a few thoughts in before we move on.
First, I just love the Joseph Campbell quote that introduces the chapter! I find myself wondering, too often, about how many people seem terrified of "the rumble." People who won't dip their little toes into those turbulent waters. I guess it's natural to fear something scary but I recall, as an angry, frustrated, 18-year-old girl being filled with relief when my equally frustrated, exasperated parents broke the news to me that I would be seeing a psychiatrist. I made a feeble attempt to appear uneasy but really found it hard to mask my joy. My only question to my parents: when can I go? While the prospect was mysterious and not without some distrust on my part, after years of living with silence and secrets at home, I desperately needed answers. I recall thinking that it didn't matter who was found crazy, my parents or me, I just needed to know. After months of therapy, my psychiatrist's advice to me was "Go to college, get away as soon as you can!" And so began my lifelong dedication (obsession?) to "the rumble."
Like so many of you, I lived with family who believed one did not "air dirty laundry," but, unfortunately, that included not only outside of the family but amongst ourselves. My parents carried what I could only piece together over 40+ years as deep, dark secrets to their graves. I am living proof of the damage resulting in the silence of shame. As a result, I have possibly shared too much with my daughter…but I don't think so. I am able to share it all with my most intimate circle but sharing with the next level has been harder. It is becoming easier as I learn that those who can handle the truth are those who understand and respect wholeheartedness and are most valued as friends.
Dr. Brown's focus on recognizing emotional triggers and seeing patterns emerge across reactions – profound for me. I can see I've been in a bit of denial on this one. I rarely lose my temper or have a visceral, hot-button reaction to something these days, but when I do, it's not pretty. I need to wrestle these to the ground for certain. No finger-pointing. No avoidance through busy-ness. I've got to face these monkeys head-on. May even call for a few therapy sessions. (:
Xeno – I have to say kudos to you for being selective, for walking away from toxic people. This is one of the toughest lessons I've had to learn in life, I think in part because I wanted to be liked, especially by people who were super impressive on the outside. It was flattering to hang out with such seemingly brilliant, talented people. There are different kinds of brilliance, though, and it can take the school of hard knocks to teach us how to recognize and protect ourselves from those whose intentions aren't in our best interests. Sometimes we just have to know when to walk away. Fortunately, there are a lot of good people out there who bring positivity into our lives!
I have not experienced any great epiphany as I read Rising Strong, though I have recognized myself in little ways in BB's stories and everyone's subsequent comments. I have so much to learn about rumbling. I tend to disengage when I sense trouble. Then my personality is such that I forget easily, which can be a blessing sometimes because I really don't worry about much. However, it also allows me to think the problem is gone. But it is not. While reading this chapter especially, I have identified 3 personal issues that I have not fully recognized and for sure have not rumbled with. So I always land back in the same place where I disengaged. Time to start dealing with things!
Indeed! Thx Xeno.
Thanks for sharing this Xeno..and thank you for not wanting to continue the pattern to generations down the line! That's an important aspect and we responsibility we have in regard to all this stuff–to not repeat the old detrimental ways of relating. Of course, we'll make our own new mistakes but that's for our kids to figure out!!
Xeno, I appreciate every single thing you wrote here. Thank you so much. I also very much appreciate this part about Umbridge. I struggle so much with determining when and if it's okay to move on from relationships in my life. Part of my learning teaches me that negative reactions are within me and it means that there are aspects to the relationship with that person that I have not accepted which in turn are causing the suffering related to how I feel because of my interaction with said person. I feel then that it is up to me to figure out how to accept the person's shortcomings and not let them influence me in such a negative manner. Sometimes, I also think I feel negatively toward the person because they are reflecting negative parts of my attitude/personality back at me. This leaves me very sad and confused. The reality, however is that while all of what I just wrote may be true, it is also true that there are toxic people in this world. People who have no idea of their negativity and the toll they take on everyone around them. Plus, and here's the kicker–they don't care to know. They are walking around in their bubble of unconsciousness, proverbially knocking down everyone in their path. It is perfectly okay I think to avoid these sorts…It's a lesson I have to work on. Thx Xeno!
Here, here Nancy!!
Great Martha! You are not the only person to tell me that Rising Strong hasn't created a metamorphosis. Thank you for saying so! A few people have said to me that they don't want to participate because her work doesn't impact them as much as it seems to some of us. Gee whiz!!!!!!!! This is perfectly okay!!! We are all so different and unique and have many valid points and differences of opinion where this type of material is concerned. ALL OPINIONS ARE WELCOME HERE. I am glad though that you found areas that you identified as places you can work on. That's all this stuff is really about. I, too, am a person who tends to disengage when the going gets tough (depending on who's creating the tough going…) I, however, am not the type of person who easily forgets. This makes for a volatile combo…as my husband is constantly reminding me when I yell at him about something that happened 15 years ago LOL…Thank you for sharing Martha!
Thank you so much for sharing this Nancy. I was so relieved that your parents "made" you go to therapy and that therapy turned out to be useful for you! Phew..I was feeling a little nervous as I was reading and was hoping it was going to go in a positive direction for you. My situation surrounding silence at home was completely different than yours, but the same in the sense of the silence. When I was very young, my mother got pregnant with another child. That baby, Lauren, was her name, came prematurely and did not survive. This was the beginning of the end of my parents' marriage – except it took another 13 years for that end to finally arrive. The only thing I remember about this early time frame is silence, that my parents were incapable of supporting one another through their crisis and this was NEVER discussed. I was almost an adult by the time my mom told me the story of Lauren. She said her name so rarely, I usually forget she even existed. This would seem benign except as a child, I knew something was dreadfully wrong. In the void of real information, I assumed what was wrong was me. I'm writing about this very thing right now in my memoir. I have spent my life trying to recover from the kernel of me that sprouted from insufficiency…from the unintended message I received that I would never be able to fill the dead baby’s shoes…
This is so powerful. Thank you Nancy. You are also the living proof of what happens when we break that silence.
Thank you Sue for succinctly outlining these areas that so resonated with you. They resonated with me too, especially the part about hustling for worthiness. It's sooooooooooooo exhausting, and unfulfilling and devoid of any potential of getting us to where we'd like or need to be. I just wish I'd figured this all out about 35 years ago…Oh well. We're here now and we're together and I wouldn't have it any other way. Thank you for sharing so much of the story of your family regarding your brother, too. I've noticed in the Family To Family class I co-teach for NAMI, that this is a huge area that is often overlooked for people. Not on purpose, but as you point out, because parents are so overwhelmed by the needs of the "sick" child that the other children are left to fend for themselves–much to their detriment, usually. Thank you for shining a light on this aspect of your story.
Gee, not sure what I can add. I can recognize my feelings quickly, but I am a slow processor. I tend to get scared and worried about my feelings, but I am better at just sitting with that, sort of just noticing my reaction and waiting for more understanding/insight to come. I can numb myself with distraction, but it doesn't last. And, I liked Brene's point about how if we stockpile hurt, that it will show up in the body. That hurt has to go somewhere. I also liked her mention of breath work. Good reminders.
Thank you Nancy!
Environment really plays a huge part into our growing up and maturing. I wish I understood that when I was younger. But it's never too late and that's the good thing about it. And we can always choose our environment so we must never give up.
Thanks for this tip Crystal!
Thank you Sue! This chapter has become my most favourite so far.
Thanks for sharing your story. Specifically love this post you made:
"I am able to share it all with my most intimate circle but sharing with the next level has been harder. It is becoming easier as I learn that those who can handle the truth are those who understand and respect wholeheartedness and are most valued as friends."
Looking back one year ago, I would never share personal things with others and would run away in the other direction as soon as an opportunity arise. Looking back at all that happened this year and my growth, I'm glad to say I've come far already. I'm able to share and slowly break the bricks blocking the path. And I keep reminding myself for every new level that for that moment it's hard but as soon as I get through it, the sooner I can go to the next level and grow more.
Thanks Tracey! You're absolutely right – they don't care to know. And as soon as that becomes apparent to me, I take that as the absolute sign to get away.
Thanks, Tracey! If parents only realized that children fill in those huge voids of silence with self-blame. It's the only conclusion children can reach. They haven't yet acquired, and may never acquire, the knowledge and tools to unravel the complexities of family.
Hi, Patricia – your posts are so consistently rich. I enjoy their content as well as the artistry of your writing. It's interesting that you mention Laura's wise counsel. She gave me a profound assurance along similar lines. Profound because I was so stuck in a rut over how to tell my sexual abuse story that I could no longer see optione. Laura's guidance brought such peace: you don't have to name names or provide every detail — this is your story. You can tell it the way you want to. You can even state that you've chosen to maintain certain boundaries. It's entirely your call. Period. This was a mindblowing thought for me. I thought I had to put it all "out there." I still wrestle with what and how to tell this critical aspect of my life but Laura's guidance gave me a sense of freedom, of empowerment, that has become a safe haven for me as I approach this challenge.
I so resonated with the Umbridge concept! My daughter and I are reading through all the books again, and it's a perfect analogy. I loved reading this thread and the struggles to decide when to cut toxic people out of our lives. One thing that has been impactful for me is when I finally started exploring my own values and boundaries, after having been making compromises for much of my life and feeling the desperate need to "be liked". Once I started to get clear on those boundaries and where I was no longer willing to compromise, showing up authentically sometimes took care of the toxic people problem all on its own, because they decided they didn't like me anymore now that I wasn't willing to bite my tongue about their toxic shit! There are people that I've had to walk away from, and it's never easy but wow, life is so different when you're not surrounded by negativity, manipulation and vindictiveness!
I love reading through these posts! I also felt like this whole chapter was gold. I started reading and was mentally trying to keep track of what I wanted to discuss in here, but I didn't even get a paragraph in before I knew I needed a highlighter, and I basically highlighted most of the chapter 🙂
I will post more responses tomorrow to all of your lovely shares and what stood out for me but I need to go to sleep. Just wanted to quickly post and thank you for sharing, and I'll be back tomorrow! <3
Tracey, your writing: "I knew something was dreadfully wrong. In the void of real information, I assumed what was wrong was me." – – – such a tragic situation for you, that innocent child. It's so very sad these things happen, without intent, that cause such damage to our spirit. I'm so sorry you grew up feeling that way. You are so badass to have come this far, and not just to deal with healing yourself, but to have your blog and book club to spread the word and inspire others along the journey.