The mini hiatus from writing has come to an end. The pause created from fear turned out to be a pause of reflection and return to that which stirs passion for life.
This writing may only be read by one person. Dear reader, I am honored and thankful. You’ve found this passage for a reason. So, with loving kindness, let me welcome you to something that might help or not. Maybe it will piss you off or click away in disgust or start a conversation. Whatever action is taken, it’s yours to take.
For the past few months there have been many scenarios come up that prompted reflection and action on my part. I’m sure you’ve experienced drama at work. Well, there has been a bit of drama at the office that I’ve been witnessing and also reacting to. I am a graphic design consultant for a small business and they recently entered into a complicated partnership with another organization. Aren’t all partnerships complicated? I don’t know but the word “complicated” comes up quite often with regard to describing this one. It’s not a merger. It’s not a take over. One organization is said to be the subsidiary of the other, although the subsidiary’s board of directors is in charge of the parent company. They kicked out the former board and now are in the midst of doing whatever is on their minds with all of us “talented people” waiting and wondering what is next.
I was speaking with a coworker who mentioned that parts of individual personalities will strengthen during times of stress. What parts of your personality come through? For me, I tend to cocoon and hide. This is also called numbness. It’s a reaction I learned since infancy to go limp and numb when life becomes threatening. Individuals are programmed to go into fight or flight response. I don’t do either because my natural instincts were shut down by many, many experiences with what my system interpreted as traumatic. My husband and others might argue with that, saying that I definitely go into “fight” mode. But it takes a lot of numbness to get me into a fight mode – that’s when the words coming out of this woman’s mouth are filled with rage. Therefore there is a part of me that recalls the capability to be the human being I am born to be. Because there is absolutely everything right about fighting for one’s life. There is everything wrong with going numb and hiding from life because that’s what I here to do, I here to live.
The book “The Body Keeps the Score” by Bessel Van Der Kolk M.D. taught me a lot over the past couple of weeks. In the book, he teaches the reader about how the mind and body reacts when one experiences trauma. Fascinating read that I highly recommend. There are many stories of individual cases because he has been an M.D. for decades dealing with traumatized individuals. Some were so severe that they had to be hospitalized or drugged. Anyway, the book speaks of the different responses to triggers one has. They can be very small and insignificant to some but a very big deal to others.
In my case the scenario at the office where there is a potential for job loss triggers a response in me due to my experience with being laid off from a job where I poured my heart and soul into the place for almost 15 years. And then they liberated me. I was actually quite relieved. The departure from the job was a gift. The difficult part was that the job market was so depressed that I literally filled out hundreds of job applications and had may 2 interviews. I ended up developing my own tiny business as a graphic designer and also studied energy medicine. All absolutely wonderful experiences.
The tough part was seeing my son not able to find a job right after graduating from tech school with a 2-year IT degree. The degree got him nowhere so he settled for customer service which traumatized him so much that years later he walked away from a job and has not been able to hold a job since.
What does my son’s experience have to do with me? I suppose I’m taking the long way to writing about creating healthy boundaries. People can tell you all day long to “say no” but until a person knows unconditional love and then worthiness and safety, saying “no” is very difficult.
What have you noticed in your life that would benefit you from saying “no”? Is it a partner, a friend, a family member or a coworker that constantly asks for assistance? Requests to which you always say yes because you feel like it’s the nice thing to do, or guilty or because they won’t shut up until you give in? You might feel good helping them because they are grateful but really, it would have been healthier to take care of yourself.
For some, the office is where healthy boundaries can be extra difficult. The supervisor who asks for quick turnarounds. The coworker that pushes work off onto you. The overtime. The working weekends. Rarely taking vacation. Rarely taking a sick day. Or even coming into the office when you’d be much better off staying home?
What fuels the lack of healthy boundaries at the office or with clients? It’s different for everyone but to me, the base is the false feeling of safety. As in, keeping the job another day to pay for food and shelter. The fear of not having food and shelter is a basic need we all have. We are born assuming we will have food and shelter. And when we don’t, we cry and demand food and the blanket. We assume the caregivers will provide us with what we need. But many don’t have those needs met.
Not having the needs met by a caring person while an infant leads to modified behaviors on the part of the individual. A child may become extremely sensitive to the moods of others. Learn when it is ok to ask for what is needed. Cry when a caregiver was in a foul mood, one might get thrown across the room. Cry when a caregiver was depressed or fighting leads to neglect. Most of the time, perhaps a child has to wait until someone is in the mood to provide what they perceive the child might need. Money is scarce, food is scarce but the intensity of emotions skyrockets — the sensitivity of the child becomes hyper active. On occasion, the child may experience the care giver in a “good” mood – then it might be “fun” to have stale bread with sugar and water sprinkled on it or some other meager form of food.
The combination of hyper sensitivity or empathy plus lack of healthy boundaries can make life exhausting. Have you ever felt completely drained before noon? The coffee or the lunch might temporarily perk you up but then the lethargy sets in again a couple hours later. You plod along for the rest of the day, going home to put on pajamas because it’s the only thing that fits the mood. Exhaustion = bed time.
Try this, try saying no once or twice at the office. It doesn’t have to be a toddler version of “no.” Make it an assertive boundary. Perhaps set up a discussion to talk about a project or share your need to get home in time for dinner that day or attend a family member’s special event. Try it. Keep a journal of the no and also any remarks on energy level or other insights.
Let’s back up a bit. Let’s back up to what I wrote a half a dozen paragraphs earlier in this post. Remember? “People can tell you all day long to “say no” but until a person knows unconditional love and then worthiness and safety, saying “no” is very difficult.”
Here’s how my journey evolved into creating healthy boundaries. The first instance was when I had completed treatment for stage 4 cervical cancer. This involved surgery, a long hospital stay with pulmonary emboli and pneumonia and a grim prognosis, chemotherapy for weeks and radiation for weeks. Over the course of treatment, intimacy was difficult. The cervical cancer treatment was a huge trigger for multiple traumas with regard to intimacy. I won’t go into the details here.
The trigger developed into me saying “No. I’ve been raped.” every time I was touched.
Extreme example, huh? What a way to learn how to create a healthy boundary. I definitely do not recommend getting cancer and going through all that trauma just to create a safe and healthy boundary when it comes to touch.
Creating a healthy boundary can do wonders for the development of a sense of self and eventually self acceptance and self love. It is possible for a person who never said no to one whom learning to say no honors body, mind and soul. This boundary or closed door can open up many other doors.
The journey to loving the self isn’t linear. For some, creating a boundary comes first and then unconditional love of self and worthiness. That boundaries allow one to realize that survival is possible without always giving the body over for the pleasure of another. This is a very, very deep issue.
An individual can learn as a small child that going limp and allowing other people to do whatever they want, was a way to survive. If one was a “good girl” and didn’t cry out, they perhaps she could continue to live another day, receive a meal, live in a home and do other things. This learned behavior can then lead to promiscuity in high school.
If you connect to any of this and are still readying, I thank you. This feels like a monologue which it is . . . ha. But it may be a tiny bit helpful to someone.
Ok. Back to the boundary creation which then led to unconditional love. When a person closes one door, others open. The doors that open could be studies in complimentary therapies. We are told in this society that Western medicine is the only way to go. And to listen to the doctors even if it is not in sync with the self. Reiki, Healing Touch, Health Kinesiology, healing cards, workshops and classes in other forms are abundant. Circles of like-minded individuals can be of help as well.. Personally, the trust of a circle of women led me to learn unconditional love in a surprising way.
No, I do not think the women in the circles were filled with unconditional love for me. Definitely not. I strongly believe that no 3D human being on earth is capable of unconditional love. They may say they do but it’s not the truth. There has been way too much programming in our society which leads to judgement every second. There is, however a dimension of all that is capable of unconditional love. And that is what I recalled at a retreat I attended in southern Minnesota.
One of the presenters at the retreat was a woman who did a gallery reading in which she was in contact with those that had passed. She sat with the circle of us (maybe 20 women) and was bringing forth information from those who had transitioned. It was interesting. I had shared with the medium earlier in the day that I welcomed a friend of mine to come through and communicate if he chose. This was my first experience of what the presence of one who had passed can be if a medium is present to help communicate. It was a very big deal for me and the start of recalling unconditional love.
I have always been able to visualize so I felt comfortable with receiving the information. With the direction and assistance of the retreat leader in her book, I was able to relax and welcome the information. When I did, the visualization received was amazing. The vision was what we in our earthly dimension appear to be from the perspective of one who has transitioned. It was absolutely beautiful. There were no buildings or structures other than rolling hills of green and then there were shimmering iridescent lights in multiple colors and densities that I have never seen before. The most wonderful was the love that I felt. It still brings tears to my eyes. To be flooded with a warm glow and know that I don’t have to do or say or be anything other than myself in order to be loved.
A few years later, I had a couple of similar experiences with another intuitives. One unexpectedly communicated the essence of my grandfather. And another taught me a simple exercise which connected me to my inner self. The experiences came at a time when I was especially open to receiving them, so they were very helpful for me to move on.
Unconditional love came through in a protective message. It was communicated that my grandfather would have been there to protect me when I was small. To know there is someone who loves me unconditionally is life changing since I had not experienced it before. Especially growing up in the Catholic church, one does not sense there is a loving entity of any sort – it is all based on sin and repentance and shame and giving money to the church.
The other intuitive directed me to daily reflect on what would I being doing and where would I be if I was connected with source. The powerful revelation was that the “source” is me!! I am the source. If I connect with myself, I am able to move on. Now feeling unconditional love I was ready to love myself and know myself as the source of my creation. This is huge coming from a person who lacked all connection to any source of anything other than false sources of admiration and satisfaction.
When I say “move on” it wasn’t physically. Moving on to me at the time always meant a physical move because that was my experience growing up. I could spend my energy by staying home and “moving on” from there.
With the feeling of unconditional love, for the first time I felt worthy of loving my daughter. It sounds strange and cruel. Like why don’t all mothers love their children? But with the case of my daughter, it was complicated. But now it’s much different, I am happy to write.
Conversations with my daughter helped me to place healthy boundaries with regard to the relationships with the rest of my family. The boundaries allowed me to breathe and journey into places I never would have otherwise.
It’s not easy. It’s a lot of work. And it’s not all happy work. There are new definitions and new emotions for what one experiences. I invite you to simply be with yourself and breathe. The programmed mind wants to be in a state of joy in order to be “right” or “good” but perhaps the state of being is enough for now.
Continue to learn, experience and breathe. Embrace the sleepless nights, the hours of writing or creating art. The new conversations may take you to uncomfortable places in your mind and there you can decide to visit for a while or move on.
Thank you for reading this post, the title of which is inspired by the rain today that in turn became the flow of words on the screen.
Please note that this is the first time writing to another person and being a part of a relationship with the reader. It’s all about evolving! Perhaps its the start of a healthy and loving relationship. One where we can help each other, cheer each other on, speak honestly and continue to evolve. Thank you again.
And I know, according to some, that this post may be too long but I’m here to break rules it seems with regard to all kinds of writing and such. It’s sort of random and flows differently but it’s me and it comes from my heart. The heart is not linear and a student of grammar and professional writing. The heart simply is.