Category Archives: Tough Times

To Learn to Love Ourselves

“There is luxury in self-reproach.  When we blame ourselves, we feel no one else has a right to blame us.”  — Oscar Wilde

Just as we don’t have the right to judge someone else, we don’t have the right to judge ourselves.  Our unhealthy script in the past was that when we did something we felt ashamed of, we judged ourselves guilty.  All too often, we then punished ourselves. Was that behavior an expression of our shame and sadness because of our defects? Punishing ourselves won’t stop our unhealthy behaviors; loving ourselves will.

We are grateful that our growth in our emotional health has taught us the difference between guilt and shame.  Guilt lets us feel remorse and sadness when our actions violate our values.  Guilt helps us know when we’ve acted badly; shame tells us we are bad.  Guilt gives us a way back to ourselves through making amends; shame leaves us hopeless.  To give in to shame and self-hatred only harms us and intensifies the power of our unhealthy behaviors.  There is a better way, and that’s to learn to love us.

You Are In Integrity

“You are in integrity when the life you live is an authentic expression of who you are.” — Alan Cohen

 

Ask for Help

 

“Asking for help does not mean we are weak or incompetent. It usually indicates an advanced level of honesty and intelligence.” — Anne Wilson Schaef

I’ve received a lot of help lately. Most from my dearest friend and some from people I never imagined I would receive so much of their time or efforts.  I don’t like to ask.  I’ll spend more energy talking about how hard it is for me to ask, than the energy I’d expend simply asking for what I need.

Many of us may have grown up in isolation and with shame being constantly reinforced the way I did.  Help began to feel like a luxury reserved for other people.  I thought I didn’t deserve it.   I thought I should be able to handle everything.  I failed to realize just when I needed help, because I’m so accustomed to living life in a “crisis mode.”  I tell myself that my concerns and problems aren’t important enough to bother somebody with.  Then, when life becomes really complicated, I blame myself for feeling overwhelmed and almost unable to act.

But we all deserve help.  We deserve all the help that we may want and need, whether it’s a ride to an appointment or for someone’s shoulder to cry on when we’re sad or upset.  We are worth the time, effort and concern of others – not because any of us is different, but because we are the same.

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Bitch, Bitch, Bitch

 

“Kindness it is that brings forth kindness always.” –Sophocles

 

“That guy on Facebook is being a total ass to me today.”

“What the fuck is her problem?  Did you see how that woman just looked at me?”

“That is so fucked up!  What’s wrong with this world?”

— Mark on a bad day.

 

“Bitch, bitch, bitch. That’s all you seem to be doing today” my friend Scott said to me; after listening to me spew negativity for a bulk of one morning together. His words got my attention.  Why would I blame the world, when it’s me that is out of sorts?

Life after all, is neutral.  It is our moods and attitudes that affect our view of things and the responses we receive.  If we are seeing life through the dark glasses of downheartedness, then we can’t blame the world for seeing grim.

I know that when I’m at ease with myself and feel at home in my life, other people seem friendly and serene.  A smile begets a smile; the simplest greeting elicits a friendly response.  And when I’m considerate to a neighbor or friend; it sets good deeds in motion.  Kindness is contagious.  I really do believe that it is kindness and love that make the world a brighter, better place.



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The Miracle of the Butterfly

 

 

A butterfly is a miracle,
A divine creation that fleets,
After propelling the caterpillar within,
An array of predators he cheats!
— Dr. Maisie

Do you suppose it’s true; for a human being to ever see a butterfly in our lifetime is a miracle?  Someone shared this factoid with me a few years ago, and then I heard Katie Couric mention it just before she left the “Today” show.  After hearing that, I did some searching of the Internet, looking for some data that would give me the odds of one seeing a butterfly or not in one’s life.  Surely, someone has done the research and worked the numbers, haven’t they?  I found that someone worked the odds for the Monarch butterfly; specifically those that have been tagged to give scientists the ability to track their migratory path and successful arrivals to their seasonal home.  For someone to see a tagged monarch, the odds are over 3,500,000 to 1.

I love butterflies.  The butterfly is a symbol of hope in for me.  This past October and November found me riding the bus back and forth to the same appointment each day. From the bus stop, I walked along a jogging path used by a middle school or high school.  From the very first trip I made, to my very last, each day I was “escorted” by a pair of Monarch butterflies that would fly seemingly while performing the tango.  I can’t be sure if it was the same pair each day, but I am telling you honestly that every day two butterflies flew right along me for that one-third of a mile hike I made.  At a time when I was feeling so lost, alone and afraid, there was my symbol of hope, right there at my side.

From what I can recall from Katie Couric’s brief mention of the odds of seeing a butterfly on this earthly plane and in our lifetime, it is important to note that even though our population has exploded, we still are not populating the planet all that densely.  There is still about 7.5 miles between each human on earth if the entire surface was livable.  Then there is the butterfly’s struggle from larvae, to pupae, to the big show of the transformed winged creature all worth noting.  There are so many predators and things that could go wrong in this transformation.  Perhaps it just isn’t necessary to know the odds.  I think I’ll just be satisfied knowing that each time I see a butterfly, I’m witnessing a miracle!

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I Feel As Though I’ve Lost My Way In This World

 

“If you are alone, I’ll be your shadow. If you want to cry, I’ll be your shoulder. If you need to be happy, I’ll be your smile. But anytime you need a friend, I’ll just be me.”  — Source unknown.

 

My life seems so incredibly fucked up now.  Even I have grown tired of the constant, seemingly endless drama that I consistently seem to manifest about me.

I have shared openly and with honest and authentic admission that I have not always lived life as a man of integrity.  Lies, deceptions, illusions, delusions once filled my life.  No one really knew who I was back then.  The pain that I carry, the result of the shame, guilt and true remorse are difficult to still bear.  I make my own best attempts to forgive myself and live by the commitments I have made to a life of rigorous honesty.  I revel in my new, authentic life and the easy cadence it brings.

However there are some who I have hurt in the past that refuse to see me as the man I am today and not the fool I was before.  Rather than try to see my progress, I am forced to swallow the bile of their resentments and my born again guilt.  I reach out to them at times like this for their love and support.  How many times can I hit “rock bottom” and how much worse can it get?  The problems I face in my life now contribute to anxiety and that feeling of being “lost.”  I have people; friends or “family of choice” with one best friend Trish who is so calm, patient and willing to learn, that I truly know what unconditional love feels like. She very well could be that angel I’ve asked for!

When does it ever stop?  What do these “detractors” get from holding their resentments so dear?  When can I be seen as the man I am today, rather than the monster of my past?  How can family turn-off their love and sit idly by while I grow more and more lost, alone and afraid?  I have begged for their help.  Their refusal is like a nightmare; if they needed my help I wouldn’t think twice.  I would do what I could.  I still love them, even now, as they turn away.

I have worked so hard and tried to follow a path toward personal growth.  I’ve learned so much along the way, but now I feel so lost in my fears and find myself dwelling in these feelings of abandonment and betrayal.  These behaviors I know are preventing me from initiating my solution to my challenges.  I want to learn whatever it is I am supposed to from this lesson and move on.  I want a life filled with the love and joy of family and friends.

Please, send me an angel…

 


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Tired of Turmoil and Clutter in Life?

Keep a Clearer Vision of the Simpler Things in Life.

 

“No objects of value…are worth risking the priceless experience of waking up one more day” – Jack Smith

Last night was spent in long, deeply personal conversation with my dearest friend Noah about his recent eviction which resulted in his loss of some furniture and possessions which were so important and even sentimental in their value to him. We talked about all the “stuff” I move with each time I changed locations, relationships and lives. Sadly, my friend lost some treasures, partly because his friends, who committed their help or use of their vehicle, simply didn’t show.

During my own  experience with eviction more than five years ago, I was frantic to get everything out and safely into the moving truck before the Constable would arrive to “lock us out”, leaving behind whatever wasn’t out when the deadline arrived. I was fortunate to have been able to get every single possession out and into the moving truck. Most everything I own has a story; Nana’s silverware she received from her parents as a wedding gift in 1939, the crystal stemware Nana’s parents received on their wedding date some 25 years earlier in Poland, artwork and furniture all associated with family or a close friend.

Preparing for an in-state move soon to Tucson, I have once again evaluated the possessions I still plan on hauling around. Pared down significantly, I am realizing there were things I simply didn’t have to have, or that there were others who I knew could make better use of a certain item.

Every now and then, it’s a good thing to strip life down at least closer to the essentials, maybe even the bare necessities. It opens our eyes to the opportunity to see the world anew and with a fresh start.

In the past, I wasn’t ready nor was I prepared to take extreme measures or act impulsively to realize the validity, the importance of being in touch with the simple things in life. I have learned however, when one becomes too involved with “Big Boy Toys”, luxuries, or “things” that give to a busier or more stressful life, we are buffering ourselves against reality and exist and not live.

The early morning sunrise, a walk with the dogs, reading the morning paper, watching the evening news and to bed right after, the taste of Trish’s Lasagna brought on her last visit, the smell of a barbecue on my patio, and a beautiful full moon – these are the most simple gifts of life that add texture and bring genuine thrill to life. What many of us in this world need is the wonder and joy that comes with a simpler, healthier life. I am tired – finally tired of turmoil and clutter. I’m going to have a much clearer vision with the simple things in life.


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We Are All In This World Together

“Many brave men lived before Agamemnon, but all unwept and unknown, they sleep in endless night, for they had no poets to sound their praises.”    — Horace

A friend of mine told this story recently:  “I was living in San Francisco which has a large population of homeless and poor.  Each day it was painful to notice the contrast between the beautifully dressed, seemingly self-confident people, and the poor who shared the streets with them.”

“One day I realized I could empathize with how those homeless people felt.  I’d lived my whole life feeling I didn’t belong, with no family I could turn to, and not knowing if I would survive another day in my misery. The compassion I felt was a reminder to me not to form my opinions about people by how they look.  It doesn’t matter what people think they see in me, or anyone else. Each one of us is wounded.  It’s just that some wounds are on the inside instead of the outside.”

We are all in this world together and for a purpose, no matter what the circumstances of our life.


See That Storm Just Ahead? Confronting Issues

 

“Maybe you can’t see the storm that lies just ahead. But I can. Believe me, it’s there.”

Confronting issues openly and honestly can be difficult. Many, like me are afraid of the reaction they’ll get from the person they are confronting. With that fear firmly embedded in one’s psyche, looking the other way and acting like the problem isn’t there becomes the easy way out. Or so it seems. Looking the other way really doesn’t make matters easier at all. In fact, it makes them worse. Problems often just don’t go away without some action.

I haven’t faced some very big issues and challenges that have been in my life for too long now. But I see clearly that I can’t let these problems linger. In my situation the problems have grown and the result is more and more hurt to me. I feel fear of the reaction I expect to receive. My fears I know after giving it long thought are grounded in reality and not based on my imagination. To get myself beyond this fear, I will have to have the necessary support around me to protect me. With my support in place I will face my problems. I must remember that storms don’t last forever. Eventually the sun does shine again, and life was nourished by the rains. I will come out of this a better person.

 

Desire Realized is Sweet to the Soul

 

“Desire realized is sweet to the soul.”  — Proverbs 13:19

Christmas is approaching. I can recall as a child, every Christmas Eve coming home from church and running up to the Christmas tree, seeing presents – mounds of them, four huge stacks, one for each sibling, towering as high as the top of the tree itself. But even with that kind of excess, one can still experience a lifetime of deprivation. If we were deprived as children, we may still live with emptiness inside. Of what were we deprived; love, security, validation, acceptance, caring, or compassion?

I know that I like many others compensated by learning to bear the deprivation and survive. As an adult, I find myself still surviving. I settle; I don’t ask for things because I believe I don’t deserve anything. But making do with life’s crumbs has brought me to resentment, self-pity and feeling deprived. I remain a child, instead of becoming an emotionally healthy adult who feels competent and worthwhile.

I am learning where the balance is between wanting nothing and wanting everything. If I can continue to work on broadening my thinking to include such words as “plenty”, “fulfillment”, “pleasure”, and “satisfaction”, I know that only then will I start to believe there is enough of everything. It is then that I will become aware of the fullness of life around and within me. Living in the present helps me realize that I actually have everything I need in the moment.

This realization helps me feel worthwhile, competent – and even fulfilled. My prayer to the Universe today will be, “Please take away my fear of satisfaction and pleasure. Grant me an awareness of how good life is, whether it brings me what I expect.”