If you’re afraid to do it, do it afraid.

fearless‘Be gentle, truthful and fearless.’ – Gandhi

What are you frightened of? Anything that stops you living your life to the full, whether it’s fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of the future can all impact on your life. Yet it is possible to overcome that detrimental negative thinking. You may never be completely fearless but you can learn to break out of your comfort-zone and find the freedom to take your life to a new level.

‘If you can, help others; if you cannot do that, at least do not harm them.’ –  Dalai Lama

Abandoned by my mother at an early age, I grew to avoid making anything other than superficial relationships. Whilst I longed for love and connection, there was the possibility that I would be discarded. Accepting this as a truth, my dread of rejection progressed to a deeper level to a fear of attachment.

Unfortunately my father reinforced an even more deep-rooted fear in me. His abusive and dysfunctional words and behaviour towards me installed the conviction that I wasn’t good enough. Not for anything or for anybody. He manipulated my perception to the point that I was not only ashamed of whom I was but of who I thought I would become.

The reality as I progressed into adulthood was that I was terrified of being ‘me’ at every level. I wanted to speak up but I was frightened of being heard. I wanted to reveal my personality but I was frightened of being seen. I wanted to love, but I was frightened of being loved.

‘Sometimes our first and greatest dare is asking for support.’ ~ Brené Brown

As the years passed, so did my spiral into depression and alcoholism. Both however reinforced my sense of blame and inadequacy. And whilst on the outside I wore a mask of happiness, confidence and fearlessness, inwardly I lived with terror that gripped my mind, body and soul.

Of course I never asked for help because I was too flawed, too damaged and too unlovable, to allow anyone into my imperfect world. Consequently it wasn’t until I hit absolute physical and mental rock-bottom that others intervened to save me from myself.

Once of the greatest challenges I faced when I started on my journey to recovery was to let other people to nurture, comfort and guide me. For me, asking for support was to reveal my complete failure as a human being. But how wrong I was. For I learned that by reaching out, I not only found the way to move on from my past insecurities but I gained courage and strength in the process. Yet really it all began with a cry for help.

‘For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.’                     ~2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV)

So if you’re battling with an inner voice that consistently criticises and demeans, be encouraged. Just as you have been brain-washed to listen only to the negative, so too can you bring those dark thoughts into the light, confront them for what they are and develop an encouraging and fearless mentality. 

For me, it was easier to look to my faith to provide the support that I needed so badly. For it wasn’t simply my body and mind that were broken, but my spirit and soul. The gentle breath of faith helped me to heal from within, and remains with me today.

if you're afraid to do it, do it afraidRecovery has taken many years and although I do still experience the sensation of fear, it no longer controls me through depression and alcoholism. I do indeed have a sound mind, a vibrant spirit and a compassionate soul. They form the basis of my ability to love and be loved. That is power.

If you’re captive of your past, living with an anxiety-filled present or dreading the future, then learning how to live fearlessly will set you free.

And if you’re afraid to do it, do it afraid!

‘Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.’ ~ Mark Twain.

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

 

 

 

Colours of frost

frost appleI love this time of year. I love the brightly decorated shop displays and the anticipation of Christmas. I love the chance to meet up with friends and exchange gifts with those I love and care for. But as the year draws to an end it seems like each day gallops away in a blur of things to do and people to see.

“Every child is an artist.  The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” ~ Pablo Picasso

It was my youngest daughter who reminded me of the need to slow down so that I could appreciate the little things that this season brings.  We were talking about what she liked most about winter. She didn’t mention presents or school plays or holidays. Instead she said she really liked the ‘colours of frost’. And to be honest, I had no clue what she meant!

For me frost is purely the covering on the ground we wake to in the mornings. It’s a sign of winter. It’s cold. It’s white. It certainly doesn’t inspire me. For my daughter though frost is a magical substance that gently sparkles on all that it touches. For her the frost isn’t only white. No, the frost takes on the colour of whatever it is attached to. The colours of frost change with the light and the heat of the day. And they are beautiful to her.

My daughter’s eyes light up when she talks about winter. Her imagination is amazing as she describes what she sees. Her frost covered world is one of marvellous patterns and exiting shades of white.

But the most important thing she shares is the importance of taking the time to find pleasure in the little things in life. I forget to do that, especially when the pressures of everyday life are building up around me. Yet it’s so important for me to take that time and allow myself to see things through the eyes of a child.

“Children have neither past nor future; they enjoy the present, which very few of us do.” ~Jean de la Bruyere

My childhood was too full of fear to feel any happiness. It was too full of loneliness to share the visions. It was too dark to see the light. I grew up way too quickly and as an adult I mourned the loss of my infancy and youth. It’s one of the reasons I take such care in nurturing my own children. They need to experience the security, the love, the fun that all children deserve. And sometimes it is through my own daughters that I find my own inner-child and my own child-like creativity. They show me what it is like to be innocent. They show me how to enjoy the moment. They show me the colours of frost.

If you are struggling with the past or find it hard to manage the present because you are grieving the loss of your childhood, be reassured that it is never too late to reclaim your inner-child. Look to the lessons that the young can teach you – they forgive easily, they laugh lots, they find time to play. But most of all they embrace the new day. And so can you.

As a thank you to my daughter Charlotte I am finishing this post with a poem that she wrote for her final homework of the term. And I hope that like me, you will enjoy finding time to time to think about what and who you love.

                            What I love about Winter by Charlotte Hughes – age 10

I love

the dew drops as they cling to the spiders’ webs with all their might, the sunshine when it shines on the frosty grass and the pretty colours of white.

I love

the snowmen built by little children all around, until the melt and make pools of slush and ice on the ground.

I love

the snow as it falls on to the slippery ice covered earth, and how we join together on Christmas day to celebrate Jesus’ birth.

Wishing you all a blessed and peaceful Christmas. Thank you to each and every one of you who have supported and encouraged me this year, and I look forward to sharing much more from The Hurt Healer in 2014.

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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I love you.

untrue love“There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved.” George Sand

Love is a word that is seen and heard everywhere. It is used freely to describe emotions and feelings. It conjures up romantic notions and lusts. Yet there is so much more to love than just a sentiment which makes you feel good.

Of course it’s wonderful to make people feel wanted and needed through words that are encouraging or compassionate. But when you use the words ‘I love you’, it can take the relationship to a completely different level. Those three little words aren’t just a statement of affection or admiration, they can be the ultimate declaration of attachment and loyalty.

When you tell someone you love them you are investing your heart, mind and soul. ‘I love you’ should never be spoken lightly. In my own life I have found it very difficult at times to express my love or receive it. Because I never wanted to feel so desperate, lonely and unloved as I did when I realised my mother had abandoned me forever.

“The love you seek is seeking you at this moment.”                                                              ~ Deepak Chopra

My thinking was that if I didn’t allow anyone to love me and if in turn, I didn’t love anyone then I couldn’t be hurt again. But I did hurt. And the more I used alcohol to numb the pain, the more I distanced myself from ever being able to love not just others, but myself. And so too will you be distanced  further from what you truly desire if you try to avoid loving or being loved. A loveless life is merely an existence void of real joy or happiness.

So when I reached the point that existing was no longer an option for me, I started on my journey of recovery. If you have ever been on that journey you will know how vulnerable and raw it can be. Not to mention terrifying. But it is worth it. You are worth it.

Through faith I experienced a love that forgave everything I had been, accepted me for who I was, and helped me believe that I could live a life of value and worth. Most importantly it taught me that I needed to love myself because it was only through self-love that I could truly extend that love to others.

“Love one another.” ~ John 13:34

It wasn’t easy but I had to learn to look at myself and say ‘I love you’, before I could declare it to anyone else. Even now I have to admit that I am much more at ease at telling those I care for deeply that I love them than reassuring myself. But the reality is that you can’t give away what you don’t have, and that includes love.

illusionAs well as needing to be loved, we need to love others. For me this means not just speaking of love, but showing it. Gifts, tokens of generosity or sensual actions are all ways to demonstrate love, but just as important are respect, empathy, commitment and authenticity. ‘I love you’ can then have huge impact and meaning.

I am so grateful that today my life is filled with friends and family that I have genuine love for and who reciprocate that love time and time again.

My message to you is as always, ‘I love you.’

Untrue love’ and ‘Illusion‘ images thanks to the fabulous talent of Boryana Gold   http://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/BoryanaGold

 

A mother’s love.

mother child painting latin americaEveryone has a mother but not everyone has a mother’s love. A mother’s love is unlike any other because no one else can take the place of the woman who spent 9 months sharing her body with you, nurturing and protecting you before going through the miracle of birth.

It is this unique bond that forms the basis of a mother’s love for her child. A love that is unconditional and perpetual, absolute and profound.

In a perfect world every human being would experience a love such as this. But this world is not perfect. And those who lack mother’s presence physically, emotionally are spiritually wounded as a result.

“Mother’s love is peace. It need not be acquired, it need not be deserved. -Erich Fromm”

The benefits of a strong attachment with a mother can not be underestimated. To grow up secure in the knowledge that you are loved because you are you, that you are cared for because you are you, that you are valued because you are you, sets a firm foundation of self-belief and self-worth.

Without that affinity, the effects can be devastating. It was being abandoned by my own mother as an infant that resulted in my feelings of insecurity and inferiority that I would carry through into adulthood. Like many children I internalised the rejection and believed she had left because I wasn’t good enough. Leaving me with an abusive father only served to reinforce my lack of self-esteem that manifested itself for years to come through depression and alcoholism.

“The human race tends to remember the abuses to which it has been subjected rather than the endearments. What’s left of kisses? Wounds, however, leave scars.” ~ Bertolt Brecht

It isn’t only the physical presence of a mother that is important, her psychological availability is crucial. And not only through childhood. A mother’s support, encouragement and care is needed just as much when you are adult as it was when you were an infant. To have a mother who is alive but emotionally distant  can be hard to accept. To yearn for that connection only to be rebuked or worse still abused can cause intolerable damage.

Abuse by a mother, whatever form it takes is something I find difficult and disturbing to contemplate. I have no idea how a woman can harm the very one they should protect. But some do and the consequences are severe. Whilst the bruises and marks of a physical attack will fade in time, the emotional wound of that event can last forever. And words too can cut like a knife causing a mental laceration that may eventually heal but leave a permanent scar of rejection and hatred.

“Even though the mother somehow falls over, even though she has nothing to offer, the offspring will develop and grow independently and still thrive.” ~ Clarissa Pinkola Estes

My biggest fear when I became pregnant was that fear that because I had been abandoned by my own mother, that I would also repeat the pattern and reject my own child. I need not have worried, because from the moment I had my pregnancy confirmed I was filled with such a need to safeguard and treasure my unborn baby, there was no doubt that I would love my child.

There is nothing that I wouldn’t do for my daughters. My love for them is unlike any other love. It is unconditional and perpetual, absolute and profound. As it should be.

“A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform.” ~ Diane Mariechild

mother child painting eskimosIt proves that no amount of bad experiences from the past need define the future. Having a bad mother didn’t make me a bad mother. In fact it was the lack of love in my childhood that fueled my desire to find love and pass it on to the next generation.

What a blessing it is to be able to give my offspring the love that I never had. To be able to give what I never received is one of those miracles in life that I never take for granted.

Yet, whilst I rue the lack of love from my own mother, she did give me life.                        That is love enough.

Thank you to Judy Lai of http://www.motherchildpaintings.com/ for her permission to use Painting of Mother and Child in Latin America – Top Image and Painting of Mother and Child Eskimos -Bottom image. All rights reserved. No part of these images may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without prior written permission of Judy Lai.

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.