A little ray of sunshine.

you are my sunshineKeep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow.’ – Helen Keller

Do you believe that every day brings the possibility for a little ray of sunshine? Or does negativity overshadow your life? Is your glass half-empty and running out fast? Or is it half-full and waiting for a sparkling refill? The choice is yours.

An upbeat attitude can bring brighten up the gloomiest of circumstances. Choosing to think positively can revive you when you feel weary, provide clarity in chaos and keep you encouraged during uncertainty And when you make a conscious decision to refuse to allow the darkness to engulf you, you keep the way clear for your optimistic thoughts to shine.

Admittedly there are some days when tragedy strikes or a huge disappointment has to be dealt with and it is impossible to feel anything but despair. That’s a natural and expected way to react to a serious life event. It’s during those times however that you need to dig deep into the warm memories from the past until the shadows of your trauma have passed.

‘Whoever is happy will make others happy too.’ Anne Frank

Some people however have a consistently pessimistic outlook that overshadows everything. Their negativity can be emotionally draining not only for themselves but those around them. My advice is to steer clear of those who continue to wallow in self-pity and misery. You don’t need that in your life.

Instead surround yourself with those who can nurture, support and encourage you. Allow their positive support to strengthen you and motivate you. Happiness is infectious, so keep near to bright, cheerful souls and catch hold of the light. 

If that sounds too simple or too good to be true, I understand. It took me many years to catch hold of that light.

I grew up in a fearful atmosphere of darkness. As a result depression and alcoholism took their hold on my life at an early age. I developed a self-fulfilling prophesy of doom and gloom. Experience taught me not to expect good from anything or anybody, so I set myself up for repeated disappointments.

Whilst I had alcohol – ‘my sunshine in a bottle’, I could manage the rejections and failures in life. But of course my reliance on a drink rapidly developed into addiction and I spiraled into the darkness of despair.

‘Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.’   Psalm 119:105

An alcohol induced suicide attempt signaled the need to give up the drink for good, yet my pessimistic self feared the worst. I couldn’t imagine how I would ever be happy again. I held on to the tiniest glimmer of hope and somehow found the courage to make my way towards the light. The light of love.

It was faith that shone the light of love in my way and helped smash through the bleakness of my life. My journey of recovery involved breaking down the psychological barriers that were keeping me in dark oppression.

I replaced each negative omen with a little ray of sunshine that came in the form of trust, kindness, hope, healing. And if you are fighting your way through some dark times let me offer each and every one of those to you too.

On those days when I feel the clouds have gathered or I’m in the midst of a personal storm I am reassured that it won’t be long before I feel the warmth of affection. Those that love Rengahenk_by_Doriahme are my little rays of sunshine. They are family and friends who illuminate my life and reveal the glittering promises of good things to come.

And it’s good to return the love. Even the smallest gestures can bring brightness to someone’s day. So follow the wise words from Amma;

‘Always have a smile on your face, kind words on your lips and a compassionate heart.’

 And you too can be a little ray of sunshine.

Image thanks to http://doriah.deviantart.com/

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

 

 

 

Love your life.

life kathleen tennant

Life – Kathleen Tennant

“A new day: Be open enough to see opportunities. Be wise enough to be grateful. Be courageous enough to be happy.” Steve Maraboli

Life can be tough. And if you’ve ever had one of those days, that turns into one of those weeks it can be to hard embrace the new day and be happy. Everyone has difficult times and whilst it’s essential to your overall well-being to feel your emotions, but it’s also crucial to have some balance. You have to love your life too.

I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself. ~ Maya Angelou.

I spent many years battling the depression and addiction that defined my existence. Whilst my circumstances had a huge part to play in how I felt, the fundamental issue was that I didn’t know how to enjoy my life because I didn’t how to enjoy being me.  

Somehow everyone else seemed to have life that I could only dream of, because I was never good enough. And it was that principle that fueled the cycle of negativity and the belief that I could never love my life because deep down I felt I didn’t deserve it.

Loving your life means loving yourself. It’s having the reassurance that you are okay, even when everything and everyone else around you is falling apart or in turmoil. It’s accepting that you don’t have to be perfect, and that your imperfections are part of your uniqueness. It’s being at home with yourself, wherever you are.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. ~ John 14:27  NIV

Having a strong sense of self-worth and confidence in your own abilities will also help during those times when life has become chaotic because of the actions of others. When your world is impacted by someone else’s bad choices it can be hard to find a sense of peace.

But even though feelings of frustration, anger and resentment can be overwhelming, it is still possible to find some calm in the storm. There may be nothing in the physical you can do to change the circumstances, but you can take control through the spiritual.

When you dig deep with all the power your mind and soul can muster you can find a place of peace. As soon as you refuse to give into the darkness, the light will reveal itself.It may only be the slightest glimmer. But a glimmer of light means hope. And even a flicker is infinitely better than no hope at all.

I know what it’s like to feel completely hopeless. My rock-bottom pit of depression and alcoholism was a very dark place indeed. It was filled with turmoil and torment that raged through my spirit and crushed my soul. Exhausted and desperate I couldn’t imagine that I could ever find peace.Yet I did.

I found my serenity by focusing on the tiniest speck of light that gave me a whisper of hope. That little speck of light was faith. And whilst I would have loved that glimmer to have had the immediate effect of a firework, it didn’t. I wasn’t suddenly cured of my difficulties in a spectacular blaze. I simply allowed the light there was, to gently glow like a candle to my soul.

As the light grew so did my understanding and my acceptance. I realised that life wasn’t meant to be only good or only bad. Life is made complete through the complexities of pleasure and pain. And it is possible to benefit from both.

So now I intend to play the game of life, being receptive to whatever comes to me, good and bad, sun and shadow forever alternating, and, in this way, also accepting my own nature with its positive and negative sides. Thus everything becomes more alive to me. ~ C.G.Jung

The game of life isn’t about spending each moment in an unrealistic state of euphoria, although it’s fabulous when everything is going great. Celebrate, rejoice and look forward to more of the same!  And remembering those happy times will help reassure you will see the rainbow after the rain. Because sometimes trouble doesn’t gently drizzle down, it crashes through like a hurricane.

Believing that all things happen for a reason can help keep you positive in the hardest of situations. If I look back at some of the difficulties I have encountered, whether it be abuse, betrayal, alcoholism, self-esteem issues or loss, I can still remember the pain, but I have pushed through it. I may not understand why I had to experience some of those traumatic times, but I do recognise what I have learnt from them – insight, patience, forgiveness, empathy, serenity and gratitude.

So if you are finding it hard to enjoy your life, be reassured that something good can come out of something bad. And that from the darkness of today,  it is possible for a brighter tomorrow to emerge.

Bursting – Kathleen Tennant

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. ~ Steve Jobs

As clichéd as it’s sounds, life is short. And your days too precious to be wasted through wishing you were someone else, somewhere else. It’s wonderful to want to change and grow as a person. It’s essential to have aspirations and dreams. But most of all it’s great to be the unique and special ‘you‘.     It’s your life. Love it!  

Huge thanks to the talented Kathleen Tennant  for allowing me to use her artwork. May not be reproduced in any form without her permission. Take a look at her other work here: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/KathleenTennant

Betrayal.

Abstract Nude by Aja

Abstract Nude by Aja

“Stab the body and it heals, but injure the heart and the wound lasts a lifetime.”              ~ Mineko Iwasaki

Loving someone and being loved is wonderful. But when your love is rejected as a result of betrayal, the pain can be agonizing. Possibly the ultimate form of rejection, betrayal can shatter your mind, body and soul.

Where once you knew that you were the only one, you know now that there is another. But true love can’t be shared. That love that you had for each other was too precious, too deep, too tender to be passed on. Yet it has.

And from the moment you become aware of the betrayal, so begins the incessant and intense aching of your heart.  For someone else is now receiving the love you believed to be rightly yours.

When the man I loved betrayed me, I tried at first to pretend he hadn’t. I refused to consider that the relationship was anything more than a brotherly friendship. This of course, was exactly the way he justified his actions. He was simply offering support and consolation to someone who had been through a difficult time. So who was I to be challenging such kind words and offers of help?

With all my mind, I tried to convince myself that he was innocent, yet deep-down I knew differently. In matters of the heart, a woman’s intuition is rarely mistaken. And whether it is an emotional betrayal or a physical infidelity, both are deal-breakers in a loving relationship.

Actually I had known right from the start. His over-exaggeration of how he disliked her, while his body language indicated the opposite. The not-so-subtle comments about her stunning looks and amazing figure, which when repeated back to him were dismissed as a joke. Making special efforts to look nice in her company and being the first to volunteer if she needed a lift. Goodness, I saw it all.

And I heard it all too. Soothing words to reassure her in her time of need. Tender offers of assistance day or night; nothing too much trouble. Then inevitably the words I least wanted to hear were declared with passion; ‘I love you.’

Maybe it’s just me, but there’s a unique brutal pain at hearing the one you love profess their love to someone else. You listen with outraged incredulity, whilst being completely powerless. The reality hits hard.

It was when I stopped being in such denial and raised my objections, that things turned ominous. Instead of an admission of guilt or remorse, he tried to convince me that the problem was all mine. It was my paranoia, my jealousy, my insecurity.

Except it wasn’t. It was his lies. His deceit. His betrayal. And it was at that point that I learnt that the level of betrayal you feel depends on the level of love you invested. The greater the love. The greater the pain.

And betrayal raises a huge number of questions that refuse to be answered too. How could they do it to me? Why would they risk destroying everything we have? What did I do to deserve that? What do I do now? And the question that I repeated daily to myself: How could I have been so stupid to let myself become this vulnerable?

Whatever the answers, when it comes to betrayal there is a fine line between love and hate. You love the person, but you hate what they do. You love how they make you feel when you’re with them, but you hate them when they reject you. It’s the rejection that stabs you in the heart and crushes your soul.

“The best revenge is to be unlike him who performed the injury.”  ~ Marcus Aurelius

Being betrayed can leave you with feelings of revenge, but there are three reasons why it won’t do anymore than provide momentary relief.

For a start, it won’t undo what has been said or done. God himself can’t turn back time. Secondly, your emotions may override any sense of common sense and you may live to regret what you did. Finally, and most importantly you have integrity and self-worth, so don’t demean yourself by stooping down to their level – you are better than that!

“As long as I have a heart I can heal, as long as I can heal I have a heart.” ~ The Hurt Healer

Anyone who has gone through or is going through the trauma of a broken heart knows that the pain can overwhelm. It might feel like the agony is never going to end, but it is possible and more importantly essential to find a way to let go and move on.

Good friends can listen and comfort, family can empathise and nurture you. Yet only you can heal your heart. The fact is that no matter how hard you try to hide your hurt from the outside world, you carry your brokenness within you, where ever you go.

So let the betrayer go and it will release you too. Because the longer you hold on to what could have been or what should have been, the longer you are trapped in a relationship that is finished.

Of course that’s easier said than done. I know that had this situation occurred when I was in the grip of my addiction and depression, I would have turned to the bottle to numb the pain and blamed myself for being so unlovable.

Thankfully, my journey of recovery has made me stronger and wiser. No longer a victim that crumbles at the actions of another, I am a survivor who accepts that although she can’t control what someone else does, she can control how she reacts to it.

“All healing is first a healing of the heart.” ~ Carl Townsend

Initially you may try to manage the damage with things that gratify you.  Alcohol, drugs, relationships, work, even food can all help fill the void, numb the pain, and distract you. Yet temporary respite fades and the reality of your raw soul is exposed.

You may feel like you will never love again. But it’s love that hurts and love that heals. And there is strength to be gained from your vulnerability. Learning to confront the truth, even when that truth is excruciating, is empowering.

When you love someone deeply, you assume that your level of investment and honesty in the relationship is reciprocated. Being betrayed is the realisation that not only have you been deceived by another, but you have deceived yourself. Ultimately, that can be soul destroying.

Yet reclaiming you ability to trust is essential to emotional healing. Reassure yourself that you were right to believe in the relationship, but it was the betrayer who was in the wrong for abusing your trust.  Rebuild your faith in others by surrounding yourself with those who care for you and allow them to nurture you. Then focus not on what you have lost, but on the good things you still have in your life. Gratitude is a great pain-killer.

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” ~ Lewis B Smedes

Once the initial shock has passed and you have started to trust again, the next step to freedom is through forgiveness. Personally, I couldn’t have undertaken any level of forgiveness without my faith to guide and comfort me. I learnt that forgiveness wasn’t about condoning the actions, but accepting what had taken place.

Forgiveness also meant that instead of being burdened with fear, resentment, bitterness and anger, I was free to fill my heart with hope, expectation, joy and peace. And in doing so I was able to redefine my expectations and boundaries of relationships.  Most of all, forgiveness was about saying goodbye to the bad, so that I could embrace the good.

Femme 104 by Aja

Femme 104 by Aja

With the love of friends and the strength of my faith, I was able to manage the stormy days which fuelled the tears and the trauma. It was also faith that reassured me that after the rain, there was the promise of a rainbow.

And if betrayal has darkened your days, that promise of a bright future filled with love, awaits you too.

“Everybody wants happiness. Nobody wants pain. But you can’t have a rainbow, without a little rain.” ~ unknown

Huge thanks to talented Aja, owner of the Sagittarius Gallery for allowing me to use her artwork. May not be reproduced in any form without her permission. Take a look at her other work here: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/SagittariusGallery

Miracles.

denise“Everyday holds the possibility of a miracle.” ~ Elizabeth David. 

What’s your definition of a miracle? An unexpected and unexplained blessing? An extraordinary healing?  A life changing event?

Of course what constitutes a miracle for me, may be something that is quite usual for you and vice versa. And I have to admit that I have previously been pretty sceptical about miracles. Mainly because I associated them with unbelievable instantaneous incidences and also because I had never considered the possibility that anything so wonderful could ever happen to me.

                        “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” ~ 2 Corinthians 12:10

For anyone who suffers with low self-esteem or lack of self- worth as a result of trauma or abuse, the ability to anticipate positive results or expect good things is seriously impeded. I know that  years of rejection and abuse had a massive effect on my own perspective on life, causing chronic periods of depression and alcoholism. I never felt  good enough for anyone or anything. I didn’t dream of the future because there was no point. As for the chance of a miracle, no way.

Yet as I started on my journey to recovery I learnt that it was through my weaknesses that I could find my strength. Faith helped me to heal by accepting my past, not by trying to deny it. Everything that I had previously held as a truth about myself was confronted. With time and courage I grew to let go and let God help me discover the real truth.

And that was a person who was so much stronger than she ever thought she was. A woman who could reclaim her life to become the person she was meant to be. And if you’ve been in that dark place or are still struggling, be encouraged. You are stronger than you think.

“Hope is the companion of power, and mother of success; for who so hopes strongly has within him the gift of miracles.” ~ Samuel Smiles

I know the amount of healing and hope I have received through my faith. It  has brought me to a place of freedom and happiness in a way that I could never have dreamt. For many that would be a miracle, me included.

let goBut over the past few months, I have experienced a new level of miracle in my life and as  I am very protective of my family it’s with a little hesitancy that I am revealing this.

Fifteen years ago I met my husband in England and we moved back to his native N.Ireland to the village he was born and raised in. I had recently found my faith in a pentecostal church whilst my husband had grown up a Catholic. Many of you will be aware that a mixed relationship like this is still very taboo in many places in N.Ireland, so I agreed to support my husband in his choice of faith and become part of the Catholic community with the proviso that I could still maintain my own form of worship at home.

When we decided to marry, the priest was reluctant and advised us he could not bless or conduct our marriage. So we went one day to a registry office and became legally married. No wedding day as such, but my husband and I agreed we could do that later on.

As time passed a wedding day didn’t really seem to matter because we were blessed with two gorgeous daughters and anyway the priest was still not going to change his mind and my husband was still a catholic, as were our children.

“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” ~ Matthew19:26

A few months ago though, things began to change. Although I was quite content with where I was at in my life I started to feel distracted. I had an urge to move on to a new level. It’s hard to explain but I knew that something significant was going to occur but I didn’t know what. All I knew was that I had no control over what was going on.

All sorts of serendipitous incidences started to occur with a synchronicity that I could only explain through faith. I became aware that every day brought an unexpected blessing. And whilst I was totally grateful there was always that little doubting voice from the past reminding me that I didn’t really deserve all of this goodness.

So I decided to challenge that voice once and for all. So much of my life had been stolen, so much of my life had been ‘make do’, so much of my life had been willing to accept just enough to get by. Well, no more. I refused to listen to it for one more second.

Then came the miracles! Out of the blue my husband talked of not only a blessing but a wedding vow renewal and for the whole family go to England so that my friends could attend. And then he suggested we have a non-catholic service. Exciting ideas except that practically and financially it was impossible.

Except it wasn’t. Within a few hours we had found the perfect church, the perfect pastor ( a charismatic vicar who happened to originate from a few miles from where we live now), the ideal venue for a small reception, and beautiful accommodation. Amazing friends helped with the arrangements long distance. Wonderful friends locally offered us gifts and money to cover the costs.

Yet still more extraordinary events were going to take place. My own faith was being stirred up and I knew that I needed to return to the fellowship of my  church. But how could I attend without abandoning my husband and children? Take them with you, was the answer. And by a miracle, I did.

My children joined me and embraced the youth ministries. My husband stood by my side and after attending for a few weeks gave his heart to God. They have left their religion to find their faith and our lives have changed forever. It’s not just me moving to a new level, it’s my whole family.

P1060121And the reaction from our community? No insults or rejections. Just acceptance and kindness from every corner. Another miracle.

I walked down the aisle on the arm of my lovely faith-filled husband, in the presence of my cherished daughters and loving friends to have my marriage blessed and renewed. It was precious for so many reasons but all the more fulfilling because of how it happened.

I appreciate that many might not see these events as anything out of the ordinary, but the point is that miracles are everywhere and can happen every day. You just have to recognise them.

The greatest lesson I have learnt over the past few months though is to start expecting more. I need to stop limiting myself and allow God to do what he wants to do in my life, because it’s going to be infinitely more than I can ever have imagined.

Well that’s enough of me for the moment. I would love to hear of the miracles that have taken place in your life. And if you don’t think you have experienced any. Think again. There is no one else on this earth like you. You are a miracle.

Top image thanks to the fabulous Denise Wandt at Naturally by Denisehttp://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/NaturallybyDenise.                                           Bottom image thanks to the talented Sunni Chapman at Mimi and Boo http://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/mimiandboo All rights reserved. No part of these images may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without prior written permission of Sunni Chapman or Denise Wandt

How to heal a broken heart.

il_570xN.433732644_hlyp (1)I wasn’t going to write about affairs of the heart in this post but the recurring theme in many of my messages this week concerns broken hearts. Anyone who has gone through or is going through the trauma of a broken heart knows that the pain can be unlike any other. It can feel like the agony is never going to end. So how do you heal a broken heart?

We will all experience the end of a special relationship at some point in our lives, whether it’s by death, divorce or other break-up. But you can also have your heart broken by someone who you are currently connected to or want to be with. Whatever the circumstances, the fact that the love you need is missing from your life can keep you trapped in anguish. No matter how you try to hide your hurt from the outside world, you carry your broken heart within you, where ever you go.

“Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.” Hippocrates

Whether it’s emotional or physical injury, time can be a great healer. However when it comes to a broken heart, the passing of days can dull the ache a little, but time itself cannot restore you to happiness.

In fact no-one and nothing can mend the wound for you, it is something you have to do for yourself. Good friends can listen and comfort, family can empathise and nurture you. But no-one can heal your heart. How could they? How can they ever reach the depths of your frustration, your fears, your loneliness, your despair?

“All healing is first a healing of the heart.” – Carl Townsend

It’s only when you believe you can heal and you want to move on that the true recovery can begin. Initially you may try to manage the damage with things that gratify you.  Food, alcohol, drugs, sex, work  all can help fill the void, numb the pain, and distract you. Yet temporary respite fades and the reality of your raw and vulnerable soul reappears.

When my mother abandoned me as a child it felt like she had taken a piece of my heart with her. Then my father ripped the rest to shreds through his abuse. By the time I reached adulthood I all had were fragments that I sought to protect in the hope that one day someone would love me enough to help me rebuild my brokenness. And along came my first love.

Who doesn’t remember their first love? The passion, intensity and promise of that relationship is what made it so special. But for me it was the fact that someone actually loved me that made me want to hold on to it forever. Of course, it didn’t and when the painful ending arrived it was excruciating.

The loss of my first love reinforced the rejection and worthlessness that I had experienced all my life. It reminded me of the words that had been spoken over me as a child that I was unwanted and unlovable. It made me believe that I would always be discarded and alone. So I put a barrier around the fractured remains of my heart and vowed never to let anyone hurt me ever again.

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3

When you reach those dark depths of despair that a broken heart brings, it can feel safer to barricade yourself against the world and hide your true feelings, rather than allow yourself to heal. But heal you must because the alternative is to spend the rest of your life trapped in a mental cocoon of distrust and anger, loneliness and grief.

Emotional restoration takes time and courage. And it demands that you use the very entity that wounded you to heal you – love. It starts with giving yourself permission to love yourself unconditionally and in doing so finding forgiveness for yourself and others.

In the beginning I found this almost impossible to even contemplate. The fear of being hurt again was almost overwhelming, but I took my fragile heart and trusted in a faith that healed through unconditional love. It was a process of tears and time, but eventually the wounds were less tender and the sorrow  less severe.

Once the scars formed I was able to move onto what was for me the hardest part – letting go. You have to be able to release yourself from  whoever caused you so much suffering. Letting go doesn’t mean forgetting the love you had or dishonouring the memory of a special individual. It does mean accepting that the past is over and can’t be changed.

il_570xN.433008725_hwpuThrough faith I was able trust in the knowledge that season of my life had come to an end and a new beginning awaited. Through love I was able to celebrate my self-worth and reach out to others.

All this and more came from a courage to heal. The courage to heal a broken-heart.

Images thanks to the fabulous talent of Kathleen Tennant at http://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/KathleenTennant

Treasures of your heart.

1254860_heart_flowersWhat are the treasures of your heart? Where can they be found?

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” ~ Thornton Wilder

Wealth, possessions, success are all things that we can desire but they don’t guarantee peace of mind or happiness. Of course they help to make our daily existence enjoyable and can provide purpose and incentive, but it’s possible to be affluent and acclaimed yet still not be satisfied with life. I believe that’s because happiness has very little to do with what we have on the outside and everything to do with who we are on the inside.

My childhood experiences of abandonment and abuse had been the cause of long-term depression and alcoholism. I spent years believing that a successful career, being financially secure and having expensive possessions could fill the void in my life. But nothing was ever going to replace the love I should have had as a child.

When I hit rock-bottom and lost everything I felt like my life had ended and should be ended. My heart was like stone and there were no treasures to be found  in my existence.

“I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.” Lao Tzu

As I have journeyed in recovery, I have learnt to replace the ‘hurt healers’ of alcohol and depression with the ‘hurt healers’ of life – simplicity, patience, compassion, trust, acceptance, forgiveness, hope. These riches I have found through a faith that teaches love. A love that provides an abundance of comfort, healing and power.

I used the experiences of my past as the foundation for my future. Through adversity and hard times I can now appreciate the prosperity and good times. Through abandonment and loss I can cherish and nurture my family and friends. And it is by coming through such depths of darkness yesterday that the light shines so brightly today.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21

Anyone who has been through a personal tragedy or is going through a time of adversity knows that when difficulties arise priorities change. The things you may have held in high esteem before, matter less. The day-to-day issues you have stressed over, become insignificant. Life takes on a new meaning.

Emotional healing demands that you turn away from what you don’t have to focus on what you do have. Losing a loved one means letting go of what you had in the physical, but holding tight to the memories that will last you a lifetime. Suffering with an illness means accepting the disease and looking after the rest of your health. Difficulties in a relationship means focusing on the good aspects whilst managing the bad.

Whatever you are dealing with, it can be tough. Yet you will be able to manage your situation so much easier if you have a strong heart. And your heart will be as strong as the treasures it holds within.

1256162_heartsIf your heart is weak, you will lack the strength you need to rebuild your mind, body and soul. If your heart is empty, you will lack the passion you need to pursue your dreams. If your heart is broken you will find it difficult to love and be loved. But a strong, complete and treasure filled heart will help you find peace, hope and happiness.

So how is your heart today?

A passionate heart.

surround yourselfWhere’s your passionate heart?

Has it been crushed by past abusers and oppressors? Or turned to stone by previous disappointments and betrayals?

Perhaps you have vowed not to commit yourself to anyone or anything for fear of failure and rejection? Then it’s time to reclaim your passion for life.

Passion comes from the heart. But for most of my life, my heart seemed to do little apart from keep me alive. Whilst friends and colleagues appeared to be thriving in every way, I functioned from day to day cocooned in depression and alcoholism, in self-doubt and fear.

“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living. ~ Nelson Mandela

My journey to recovering started with a reality check. My heart, mind and soul had been numbed to the extreme leaving me emotionally void. I was physically alive but mentally dead. The truth was that I was existing but not living. And I was tolerating myself and others but not loving.

When I reclaimed my heart, I reclaimed my life. I chose to swap the pain for the passion and use the energy to reconnect with myself and those around me. As I pursued my recovery with eagerness and intent, I learnt to refute those negative beliefs I had internalised since childhood.

My self-image of a woman who was worthless, useless, ugly, stupid, hated, rejected began to fade as I opened up my heart. Despite my vulnerability I allowed love and laughter to enter my world again. And I began to be able to define myself differently – valued, positive, beautiful, intelligent, loved and wanted.

“Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.” ~ Rumiballoon-tree_826017

Today my passionate heart reveals itself through my devotion to my faith, family and friends. It sustains me through the bad times and fills me with joy through the good times.

No longer do I simply exist or tolerate.                                                                                     I live and I love.                                                                                                                   With a passion.

Top image thanks to Freaky Peas http://www.etsy.com/listing/119986407/heart-original-mixed-media-painting

My Wish for You.

ImageChristmas can be such a wonderful occasion of sharing and caring. Of excitement and expectation. For me it’s also a time of reflection and prayer. Of gratitude and thanks for the family and friends that make my life so special. And it’s a time for wishes.

I understand those who dread the festivities. This bright and shimmering period which serves only to reinforce a  sense of loss, disappointment and weariness. Tough going at the best of times, but even harder if you’re trying to put on a brave face so that those around you won’t sense how desperate you are. How hard it all is. How lonely you feel.

Somehow when everyone else is celebrating around you, it can make your pain feel a million times worse. And your sense of isolation almost unbearable. My wish for you would be that you be filled with the reassurance that if you just stay strong there are brighter times ahead.

For anyone who feels hopeless I wish you hope. For those in physical pain, I wish you healing. For the lonely I wish you friendship and compassion. If you’re trapped in the past I wish you freedom to enjoy the day and move on to the future. If you’re fearful I wish you courage and self-belief. If you’re struggling with grief, anger or bitterness, I wish you peace and forgiveness.

For anyone who is on the journey to becoming themselves I wish you inspiration to live the life you dream of. For those who are happy and contented with life, I wish you continued joy and prosperity of mind, body and soul.

For everyone who has been kind enough to support The Hurt Healer blog in so many ways, I thank you sincerely for sharing my journey. I wish you all a safe and loving Christmas and look forward spending time with you in 2013.

“May all your hopes, dreams and wishes become reality.” ~The Hurt Healer

LIfe - Kathleen Tennant
Images – Floral Love http://www.etsy.com/listing/91476696/floral-love-11×14-mixed-media-art-print and Life http://www.etsy.com/listing/87084411/life-8×14-signed-mixed-media-print-home thanks to the amazing Kathleen Tennant

Dream it. Believe it.

915710_dreamscape_5Do you dream? Do you look to the future with purpose and passion? Do you believe anything is possible?

Or has life knocked you back so many times that you’ve stopped dreaming altogether? Or do you expect nothing so that you lose nothing?

I’ll be honest. Until fairly recently I’ve never been much of a dreamer. Whilst I admired and encouraged those who pursued life with positive expectancy, I used to feel that it was different for me.

Abandonment and abuse as a child had stolen so many things from me. Among them was the ability to dream. Or wish. Or hope.  As I grew into adulthood my expectations of everything and everyone were so pessimistic. My outlook was limited to blocking out the past and managing the demands of the day. Life had always been so harsh that it was all I could do to survive.

I didn’t dare to have ambitions. I never imagined having a fulfilled and happy life. The words that had been spoken over me for years would reinforce that I was never going to be good enough, clever enough or pretty enough for anything or anybody. So why set myself for even more disappointment and failure?

“Hope is the dream of a waking man.” ~ Aristotle

Yet behind the mask of alcoholism and the cocoon of depression lay a woman desperate to believe that life could be meaningful and loving. Even in the depths of despair there was the whisper of hope. It gave me the determination to want to start living my life as the person I was meant to be.

My journey of emotional healing started with accepting the past and letting the hurt go. The nightmares of yesterday could no longer be allowed to shadow the dreams of tomorrow. Recovery meant looking to the future and believing in myself, not living the miserable existence prescribed by others.

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” ~Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

It’s never easy to change the thoughts of a lifetime, but somehow I found the courage to dare to dream, and the faith to believe that the dreams could come true.

In my spirituality I found my dreams could be nourished without fear of failure. With faith I learnt that even if what I had hoped for didn’t materialise, that it was for the best and I could expect something even more beneficial at the right time.

“Faith is like a bird that feels dawn breaking and sings while it is still dark.” Rabindranath Tagore

Today my life is filled with so many good things that I would have never imagined. I know now how important it is to look to the future with hopeful anticipation. It makes life challenging, purposeful and joyful. And as my faith has strengthened so has the certainty of my visions for my future.1322116_light_spots_wallpaper

I’ll never stop dreaming. I’ll never stop believing.

What about you?