My broken heart.

my tears my pain‘I see the tracks of ev’ry tear that ran right down your face.                         I see the hurt, I see the pain, I see the human race.’ ~ Annie Lennox, Universal Child

Is the person you love hurting you? They express remorse, promise to change, declare their love for you, but then it happens again. The let down. The lies. And all you have is the pain. The tears. And the broken heart.

When I look back now it is hard to imagine why I stayed in a loveless and destructive relationship for so long.  I was devoted yet received so little in return. I gave my all and forgave all in the mistaken belief that I was being compassionate and supportive.  Yet tolerating isn’t loving and existing isn’t living.

I poured out my unconditional love because even though my head kept telling me it wasn’t worth it, my heart disagreed. Because you reap what you sow. Right?

Not necessarily. Just as to reap good crops you have to sow your seed in good soil, you have to sow your love into a good relationship. That is, a shared partnership of mutual affection, trust, commitment and respect. My relationship was void of all of those.

‘You either teach people to treat you with dignity and respect, or you don’t.’ ~ Dr Phil McGraw

The problem was that I should never have got involved in the first place. The abuse I had encountered in my younger years had destroyed my sense of self-esteem and self-worth. Consequently, I didn’t require anyone to treat me any better than I thought I deserved.

Additionally the rejection issues I had experienced as a child had left me with a fear of attaching to anyone, so that even when I did form a bond I never expected it to last.

Little surprise then that my relationships were at best short-lived and superficial, at worst destructive and detrimental to my well-being on every level. One thing I knew for certain though and that was the result would be a broken heart. Usually mine.

If like me you have been hurt or are hurting still, it’s time to heal. If you thought that your love would be good enough for them, it was. But their love was not good enough for you. Not then and not now.

Remember that the more you invest in a relationship, the greater the harm to your soul if the commitment is not reciprocated. And when the love you have given is exploited, it strips your spirit of joy and dims the light of your inner-being.

‘He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.’     ~ Psalm 147:3

Faith taught me that just as love hurts, so does it heal. In the rawness of an ending of a something you believed to be special, it can feel that your heart is broken beyond repair. But it is possible to recover and to discover a love so infinite and so complete that the pain of the past is but a wisp of a memory.

That same love you gave away you must now be used in abundance to nurture your mind, body and soul. Stop telling yourself that you will never love anyone again. You will. But only when you completely and unconditionally immerse yourself with the love that lies within.

‘The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.’ ~ Steve Maraboli

Your new life, your new love awaits. But you can’t embrace either if your heart and mind hold on to what’s gone before. As devastating as it feels, the ending also signifies a beginning.  And forgiveness is the key to unlock your wonderful new start.

All that resentment, anger, fear and loneliness can only be overcome through a willingness to forgive. Forgiveness isn’t condoning what someone else had done or said.  It is empowering yourself by replacing the negativity of the past with compassion, happiness, truth and peace.

Forgiving yourself is equally as important. Release yourself from the blame and shame that keeps you captive for by doing so you will find the freedom to live your life with the love of your life.

Help your heart to heal by accepting that love is accountable. You can’t make anyone change but you can take responsibility for your own life. It’s time to stop living your life through someone else and start taking your love to a new level by putting yourself first. Because if loving someone else means you have to stop loving yourself that is too high a price to pay.

‘He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.’ ~ Epictetus

Finally, in those times when the pain is ripping you apart, dig deep into your soul and search for those things for which you can still be grateful.  When your wounded heart is screaming for attention, focus on what you have and what you will have. Whatever your circumstances you can always find something or someone who gives you a speck of hope.

broken heartIn my own journey of recovery, I found it was my moments of despair that the light of my faith shined the brightest. It provided me with the strength, comfort and gratitude that I needed to affirm my worthiness. And it reminded me that as broken as I was, I was lovable and precious. And that I could be restored.

Join me by resolving to be stronger than the pain of yesterday, find peace for today and pursue your dreams for tomorrow.

For my broken heart has healed. So can yours.

‘You have within you more love than you can ever understand.’ ~ Rumi

 

 

 

Amazing grace

the special one amanda cass

The special one
Amanda Cass

“When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everyone will respect you.” Lao Tzu

If you are struggling with feeling ‘not being good enough’, or holding on to shame that is preventing you from accepting who you are, you are not alone. Society idolises celebrity status, bombards us with images of what we should look like, and manipulates what we should have and aspire to be. And there is an expectation to be perfect in everything and in every way.

Yet perfectionism is a myth. It’s a powerful myth that damages lives. Because when you fail to live up to those expectations, it can have devastating effects on your self-esteem. It’s natural to feel disappointed if you make a mistake or fail to do something, but if that feeling turns to shame then you could be heading down a spiral of self-destruct.

If the shame of ‘not being good enough’ has left you battling with low moods or depression, or your lack of self-worth has led to self-medicating with food, drink, drugs or prescribed medications, then you need to start challenging that myth of perfection.

“Shame is the most powerful, master emotion. It’s the fear that we’re not good enough.” ~ Brené Brown

My own long-term issues with depression stemmed from unresolved childhood trauma which led to a dependency on alcohol. From early childhood the experience of being rejected by my mother and abused by my father had a devastating effect on how I valued myself.

As I progressed through adulthood those feelings of ‘not being good enough’ intensified. Outwardly I wore the mask of the ‘independent, capable, confident woman’ but underneath I was lonely, confused and broken. But most of all I was ashamed of who I was.

At the lowest point of my life I was a chronically depressed alcoholic who had lost everything. By society’s standards I was a complete failure. I had nothing so I was nothing.  Except that was not strictly true, I did have something.  I was breathing and I had a speck of faith.

“T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.” ~ Amazing Grace by John Newton

I would love to say that I came to faith and an appreciation of grace through an instantaneous moment of spiritual enlightenment, but I didn’t. I came to believe through doubt and fear, and if I am totally honest because I had nowhere else to turn. Yet a speck of faith was all that was necessary to receive the gift of grace.

This is what is so wonderful about faith. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done, as long as you believe and then receive. I know that receiving can be just as hard as believing if your sense of self-esteem is low, or if you feel that you have messed up too much to be forgiven. Anyone who has experienced heartbreak, loss, abuse, addiction, depression will be all too aware of how difficult it can be to start seeing themselves in a positive light.

Yet you are precious. You have value. You can be forgiven. And you owe it to yourself to receive the gift of grace and start to live your life as the person you know deep down, you can be.

“Courage is grace under pressure.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

Maybe taking that step of faith seems impossible, but be reassured that it is through your weaknesses that you will find your strength. Dare to expose your vulnerability and you will reveal the intense beauty of your authenticity.

Grace is the antidote to shame. Grace through faith allowed me to accept my past and move on from it. It is grace that helped open my heart to forgive others and myself. It is grace that has enabled me to find my inner-strength and courage to heal.

It is so empowering to learn that you don’t have to be perfect and that you can embrace your imperfections as part of your uniqueness. And it is liberating to be able to accept yourself because of what you are, not despite of it. Grace is the key to both self-approval and emotional freedom.

“The gift of grace is a fresh start to each day, every day.” ~ The Hurt Healer

making a fresh start

Making a fresh start – Amanda Cass

Imagine being able to wake each morning knowing that your past didn’t have to define your future. Think of how good it would feel if you knew you could begin again. Consider how good you would feel if you believed that you were simply okay as you are, but with the desire to fulfill your potential. Those are the spiritual promises that I choose to embrace daily, and they are there for you too.

The gift of grace allows me to accept yesterday, live for today and dream for tomorrow. It’s the privilege of living with a peaceful mind, a vibrant heart and an illuminated soul.

Now that’s what I call ‘Amazing Grace’.

Both images thanks to the super talented Amanda Cass                                                      at http://www.redbubble.com/people/theartoflove                                                                     All rights reserved. No part of these images may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without prior written permission

 

Miss you.

miss you“Even though you’re always in my heart, I long for you to be with me today.” ~ The Hurt Healer

As the seasons in our lives change, so do the people. Transient relationships that are meaningful in the moment can disappear into our past without detriment to our selves. As quickly as they transpire, so someone new takes their place. People come. People go.               Life moves on.

 

“Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.”     ~ Aristotle.

Then there are those relationships that you wish could last forever. Everyone has someone who plays an intrinsic part in their life. There is a bond that you never want broken. There is a uniqueness that you never want to share. It’s special. It’s precious. And it’s all yours.

Unthinkable then that one day you may have to live without your kindred soul. Unimaginable that you may have to go through each day without the one that filled your heart. Yet it happens. It doesn’t really matter how, because the outcome is the same. You have lost a part of you. And you will never the same again.

But even though that person is no longer present doesn’t mean they are gone completely. You can’t be with them but you can sense them. You can’t touch them but you can feel them. You can’t talk to them but you can hear them. What a comfort to know that whilst the physical relationship has ended, your deep connection continues in the spiritual.

“True love stories never have endings.” ~ Richard Bach

Sometimes it takes me by surprise when I start to miss someone whose existence has long passed from my life. The heartache has ceased but still the emergence of the memory of that special one can bring reminders of the agony of my loss.

        “Even though you’re always in my heart, I long for you to be with me today. Maybe it’s because I’m facing a season of change that I wish you could be here to share it with me. I miss you more than anyone can imagine. 

Strange though that missing you reminds me of just how far I have come. In those dark days, the lack of your presence would have fueled a cloud of despair and kept me in a depth of depression. No matter how hard I tried to numb the pain, your absence was an endless void.

           Now I can dwell on your memory and know that it’s because you went away that I found my strength. It’s because you left that I could find out who I really was. And I’m grateful not only for what you were able to do for me, but for what you were not. You have helped me become what I am, but that doesn’t stop me missing what we might have had if only you had been here.”

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” ~ Psalm 73:26

Thankfully I have a faith that not only comforts and heals, but gives meaning to my life. You need all of these things when you’re heartbroken. For when there is nothing you can do in the natural, it is the spiritual that must relied upon.

Making that connection didn’t come easily for me, because I blamed God for the loss in my life. It took time to learn how my anger and bitterness was misplaced and that God had been with me through the tears. My pain had been His pain too.

heaven and loveGently and tenderly faith restored my brokenness and replaced the emptiness with love. It healed me of the past, gave me meaning for each day, and the assurance of a hope-filled future. But most of all I have the promise that the one day, I will be reunited with the one I love and no longer will there be the need to say ‘ Miss you.’

Thank you to Kim Sisto-Robinson whose fabulous blog My Inner Chick, written in memory of her beloved sister Kay, inspired me to write this post.

Who cares?

catherine jacobs 2“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.” ~ Margaret Mead

The world is so chaotic. Depression, suicide, and addictions are increasing world-wide at a rapid rate. It shows that people are hurting and feel alone with their pain. But why care?

Because even if you feel you can’t change the earth, you may be able to change somebody’s world.

“Let my soul smile through my heart and my heart smile through my eyes, that I may scatter rich smiles in sad hearts.” ~ Paramahansa Yogananda

No matter how small your gesture, it can make a difference to someone. A smile costs nothing but it may just brighten someone’s day. A sympathetic ear can help someone feel that they are not alone with their problem. An offer of help may give someone an extra boost to achieve their dream.

It’s not important how you show you care, as long as you do. For when you do, you initiate a chain of kindness that is passed on to others and it is this collective caring that helps to change the world.

Sometimes though it isn’t the lack of care that is the concern, it is the ability to receive it that is difficult. If you’ve experienced rejection you can be left with a lack of trust that forms a barrier to accepting any level affection.

I went through many years convincing myself that I didn’t want anyone to care for me out of pure fear that I would attach to their love only to have it ripped away from me. And even believing that someone would want to care was improbable. How could anyone care about me when my own mother had physically abandoned me and mentally killed me off in her mind?

Yet I did need someone to care. I needed it desperately. Whilst I was too terrified to take the risk to reach out, it was impossible for anyone to reach in. The combination of depression and alcoholism constructed an emotional barricade that was impenetrable.

“The walls that you build as a safeguard are the same walls that will in turn isolate and imprison.” ~ The Hurt Healer

Unfortunately my mental fortress served only to trap me further in my own cycle of despair by restricting me to living each day based only on the my experiences of rejection and abuse. Worse, it prevented any chance of allowing healing or restoration.

There was only one way that I was going to ever be able to be helped and that was for the walls to come down. Of course this was an inevitability that I hadn’t the courage to face, and so it was my mental breakdown that resulted in the collapse of my barriers. As they came crushing down, my vulnerability was exposed and I waited for the end of my life to come.

But it didn’t. Because someone cared. Professionals stepped in and there were friends who stood by me. They cared for me when I was unable to care for myself. Over time I learnt how to renew my boundaries in a positive way. Life stopped being simply a battle against the bad, and became a home for the good.

“Pour out your heart before Him. God is a refuge for us.” ~ Psalm 62:8

Most importantly I found a faith that cared unconditionally. I realised that God cared, and that He had done all along. When I was willing to receive the love that had been waiting for me, I was then able to heal.  And as I handed over my past, present and future into the security of His hands, so I found the refuge I had longed for. Today I am safely in His care. 

We all need someone to care for us. But that love needs to be rooted in truth. And it needs to be given freely. If someone is showing you that they care only to want something from you in return, then it isn’t genuine. Steer clear.

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.  If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”  ~ Dalai Lama

catherine jacobsIt bothers me that so many people are hurting and nobody seems to care. Yet I know that the best way to feel cared for is to care for others. Doing something kind for someone makes you feel good too.

So in answer to the question ‘Who cares?’                                                 I do. I care.

All rights reserved. No part of these images may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without prior written permission of Catherine Jacobs.

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Totally self-indulgent.

inspiration_blog-301543Forgive me. This is a totally self-indulgent post. If you’ve ever had something unexpected happen that has filled you with overwhelming joy and if you like a faith filled post, then please read on and share my proud moment. Otherwise I look forward to seeing you for my next post!

Like many mothers I cherish my children as the most amazing and the most special of all beings. My daughters bring me so much joy on a daily basis and are a constant blessing. But this week brought me something unexpected and precious.

“The soul is healed by being with children.”  ~Dostoyevsky

Fifteen years ago, in the weeks before Easter, I was in the depths of the biggest physical and emotional breakdown of my life.  Admitted to a secure psychiatric ward I was addicted to alcohol, suicidal and without a future. I was completely broken in mind, body and spirit.  The world had nothing to offer me and I had nothing to offer the world.

A whisper of hope and a speck of faith were all I had. And many times I believed that this was never going to be enough. But it was.

It was enough to give me the courage to give life one my try. And I did.

“when we are powerless to do a thing, it is a great joy that we can come and step inside the ability of Jesus” ~Corrie ten Boom

Fast forward fifteen years to this week, the week before Easter. I was attending my twelve year old daughter’s first parent-teacher meeting at high school. With every teacher telling me how high her averages were and how wonderful she was as a student,  I became more and more up-lifted.

Then I met the religious studies teacher. Like all the other teachers, she smiled and shook hands as I introduced myself, but somehow this felt different. Again I was congratulated on my daughter’s excellent grades, in particular for her assessed assignment, but there was something that I just couldn’t put my finger on. Like the teacher wanted to say more, but wasn’t sure how to. But just as I got up to leave she asked whether I had read the assignment, which when I replied that I hadn’t, was quietly placed in front of me.The task was ‘to describe a person who inspires you in your faith’.

                                                      My inspiration.

My inspiration is my mum, Carolyn Hughes. She is special to me and she’s my inspiration because of her shining personality, her strong faith in God and her achievements in life. She has achieved many great things in her life, like a degree in psychology and social policy, a very successful blog called ‘The Hurt Healer’ and fifteen years ago overcame a drink addiction. My mum has raised a lot of money for ‘The Kenwood Trust’, a charity which provides treatment and support to anyone with an addiction to drink or drugs.

My mum has a strong faith in God and prays every day. She prays to God for everything and believes that without God, we are hopeless and helpless. It was through God that she overcame her addiction. She says that she has been overwhelmed by God’s grace and mercy and her reward has been a fantastic family of her own. Her religion and faith are extremely important to her and she has greatly helped me believe and understand my faith better.

My mum’s personality is amazing, as she is funny, supportive, clever, kind, generous and creative. She is also a great cook, writer and most importantly an extraordinary mum. She is my inspiration and I hope, after reading this, you will see why.

By Rebecca Hughes  🙂

I’m normally quite good with words, but I have none that can describe what I felt as I read that. Other than to say that it felt a bit like I had won the war.

I had battled with depression, alcoholism and everything that comes with it. And I had overcome them both. Over the years I had crawled my way from the brink of an existence. And I could now stand tall and proud as a survivor.

But beyond that I had been able to inspire someone who means the world to me. It may have taken me fifteen years, but today I am proud of who I am and what I have become. And totally grateful to those who have helped me on my way.abstract-floral-seamless-vector-background_50-13191

Thank you for allowing me my proud mum moment and for those of you who are struggling, hurting, grieving, lonely and in pain, let me offer you this Irish blessing.

” May God give you…For every storm a rainbow, for every tear a smile, for every care a promise and a blessing in each trial. For every problem life sends, a faithful friend to share, for every sigh a sweet song and an answer for each prayer.”

Searching for love.

file000329683077Many of us spend our lives searching. You can be dissatisfied with what you have and you covet the things you think life owes you. But you may be misguided. Especially if you are searching for love.

“The sweetest of all sounds is that of the voice of the woman we love.” ~ Jean de la Bruyere

It’s always amazed me that even after all the years of heartache caused by my mother abandoning me and being told time after time that it was my fault she had gone; all I wanted was for her to love me. And to be able to return that love.

I knew that I hadn’t been loved as a child but it didn’t stop me wanting it. When my mother left it was as if she had taken my heart with her, leaving an emptiness that I couldn’t understand or escape. With each year that passed, the void grew and so did the feeling of loneliness and despair.

My thinking became distorted. With no-one to reassure or guide me, I came to believe that if I could find the woman who had brought me into the world,she could give me the love I had been missing. Then of course my life would be transformed. Because if my mother loved me then other people would love me. Simple.

Except that attachment and loss are not simple at all. Tracing a missing person involves so much more than locating their whereabouts. And going through life searching for love is complicated and painful.

“A joyful heart is the inevitable result of a heart burning with love.”  ~ Mother Teresa

In lieu of my mother’s love I tried looking for comfort in work, money, alcohol and relationships. Yet the more I failed to find what I was looking for, the deeper I sunk into depression and self-loathing. I thought too little of myself to entertain the idea of looking for a love that was genuine or precious.  So I ended up accepting any hint of love that came in my direction. Love in disguise would fill the gap until I found my true love. Until I found my mother.

But the agonising truth was yet to be faced. Sometimes the person we are looking for doesn’t want to be found. For me that concept was unimaginable. I had been prepared for difficulties once we had reunited but I never believed that she would reject me again.

One of the hardest decisions of my life was having to stop the search for my mother. I had invested so much time and so much emotional energy in tracing her, but she had killed me off in her mind and I no longer existed.

My heart told me that it was impossible. That my mother had to love me because I was her daughter. That she would understand that I needed her love to fill the void. I needed her love to make me whole again.

My head though told me something completely different. My head told me she had ruined my life. She was the cause of my depression and addiction. She owed me.

Unfortunately the choice to pursue someone doesn’t entitle you to their attention, respect or affection. You only have control over yourself and you can’t determine or demand how anyone else should react.  And it was no different for me. I could plan every move and dream of the perfect love, but I had no authority over my mother. She had her own plans and dreams. They didn’t include me and I had to accept that.

It took many years of recovery to get to a place of forgiveness and peace of mind about my mother. Today I don’t even know if she is alive. It doesn’t matter anymore. That particular journey has ended.

Yet like many things in life it is only when you’ve come to an ending that you find the beginning. As the door to my mother’s love closed forever, the opening to a new life began.

Difficult as it was to acknowledge my mother’s decision, it was an event that served as a catalyst in my life. I had to to be realistic in my expectations of others and allow them to make their decisions without judgement.And I also stop looking to someone else to fulfill my destiny and choose my own path.

Past the excruciating pain of rejection came the cognition of taking responsibility for my own well-being. I had been searching outside of myself to find the love that I needed, the reassurance I craved and the acceptance I desired. I had been looking in wrong place.

“Love is the beauty of the soul.” ~ Saint Augustine

gently_but-292113

Faith led to me to look inside my own heart,mind and soul. My disbelief and apprehension was overcome by the desire to find the love I had sought for so long. Gently but passionately, the truth emerged. Everything that I had been searching for was already within me. Waiting to be released.

The search was over.

Why did you leave?

Mother and Child DancingPeople leave relationships for all sorts of reasons and if you’re the one left behind you want an explanation.

Usually there’s some discussion and even if it changes nothing or you don’t believe them, it forms an ending. After the initial heart-break, you learn to accept the loss and move on.

Much harder though is to be left without any notice or further contact. It leaves you with a void and a mass of unanswered questions.

As a young child my mum left one day and never returned. No one ever offered any explanation. Asking questions of anyone was futile. I was expected to simply forget her. But I couldn’t.

I have no idea what goes through the mind of a woman when she suddenly decides to walk away from her little daughter. But I know what went through my mind. ‘I wasn’t good enough.  She didn’t love me. It was my fault.’

And as I got older the self blame intensified, as did my need to know ‘Why?’  Why did you leave?  Why didn’t you take me with you.Why didn’t you contact? Why didn’t you come back? Why did you remarry and tell your new family I had been killed in a car crash?

The questions that were left unanswered triggered the depression that was going to become a life-long battle. The emptiness led me to my ‘hurt healer’, alcohol, which for many years filled the loneliness and eased the heartbreak.

“Grief is a process, not a state.” ~Anne Grant

One of the hardest things I’ve experienced in my life was ending the non-existent relationship I had with my mother. I had no other choice except to allow myself to grieve for the woman I remembered and to grieve for the mother that should have been.

Eventually only the need to forgive remained. And with time and tears I forgave. Not for her. But for me, so that I could finish with a part of my life that had caused me so much emotional pain and physical destruction.

Forgiveness released me from the torment of longing to know ‘Why?’ My mother no longer existed in my heart or my mind so neither did the need to fill in the past. It had been over for my mother many years ago, but finally it was over for me too. Mother and Child Beach Text

Today I have the freedom to live for the day and look forward to the future.

I am blessed to be a mother of two amazing daughters who bring me unimaginable joy. And there’s one question I know with absolute certainty they will never have to ask.

‘Why did you leave?’

Images thanks to Katie M Berggren at http://www.etsy.com/shop/kmberggren