A Soft Place to Fall

Amanda Cass

Amanda Cass

‘I will soothe you and heal you,
I will bring you roses.
I too have been covered with thorns.’  Rumi

Life can be wonderful yet sometimes it can simply be tough. Whether it’s a broken heart, a damaged relationship, work problems, an unexpected illness or a disease that you’ve been battling with for years, there are times when everyone needs a soft place to fall.

As a mother, it’s something that I accept without question for my children.  If they hurt themselves, if they fall-out with a friend, if they didn’t do as well as they had hoped in exam – I’m there to hug, hold and soothe. Then later when we have more time I can reassure them they are not alone and encourage them to put the difficulty behind them and move on.

I do it without hesitation and for as long as required, for the knowledge that I am their soft place to fall is as beneficial to me as it is to them. They are loved unconditionally. They are wanted and needed. And so am I.

‘My heart is as strong as the depth of my scars.’  The Hurt Healer

In an ideal world everyone would grow up feeling secure and safe despite the stormy seasons, but many don’t. I didn’t either. Being abandoned and abused as a child left me searching for anything that would numb the memories and heal the scars. Alcohol became my soft place to fall, or my ‘hurt healer’ as I called it. It worked for a while but soon the drink turned from friend to foe and I was forced to make a choice between ‘addiction and death’ or ‘sobriety and life’.

The thought of losing the security of alcohol and having to join the real world was terrifying. And by that time the depression I had battled with for years had spiralled out of control. Fearful of the real world, my worry was ‘Who’s going to catch me if I fall?”  In reality I was so physically, psychologically and spiritually broken that I was at rock bottom anyway. I’d already fallen, there’d been no one to catch me and I’d never felt so completely and desperately alone.

 ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.’  Matthew 11:28 NIV

To get up and stay up though I had to find another sanctuary that would fill the void of alcoholism and lift me out of the darkness of my mind. Initially it was through faith that I started to find healing. It offered me a resting place of comfort, and peace. Nothing was required of me except that I stay in the presence of spirit of love. Faith was and is my ultimate and infinite soft place to fall. And even during those times when life seems like a roller-coaster of chaos and disappointment, it never lets me down.

As started on the slow process to self acceptance I began was able to leave behind the need to be critical and judgemental. Instead I choose to view myself with compassion and empathy. And rather than stay trapped in the torment of the past, I decided to forgive the unforgivable.

‘Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.’  Brené Brown

As I travelled along my journey to recovery I discovered that my vulnerability was no longer my weakness, it was a revelation of my authentic self. So I didn’t have to be confined by my past and I didn’t have to be defined by others. I found the freedom to recreate myself as the person I was meant to be.

But I also discovered that I had a new soft place to fall and that was within me.

Amanda Cass

Amanda Cass

Life will always have ups and downs, celebrations and disappointments, miracle moments and tragedies. So when times are hard make sure that you surround yourself with those who will nurture and care; inspire and encourage. Whether it’s faith, family, friends or from inside your soul, it’s always good to have a soft place to fall.

Where’s yours?

‘Smile, breathe and go slowly.’  Thich Nhat Hanh

 

Huge thanks to Amanda Cass for allowing me to use her beautiful artwork  (May not be reproduced in any form without her permission.) Take a look at her other work here: http://www.redbubble.com/people/theartoflove

Sorry.

mariana stauffer

Mariana Stauffer

Sorry. A little word with a big impact. Genuinely meant as an expression of remorse, it has the power to restore a relationship.

But how many times can someone say sorry before it becomes valueless?

If you have heard ‘Sorry’, once too often or worse still, don’t hear it all,then it’s time things changed.

‘How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.’ – Wayne Dyer

My damaging and dysfunctional childhood resulted in a complete lack of self-esteem and worth. So it wasn’t surprising that as an adult I found myself in a relationship where sorry was never spoken. In his world sorry was a sign of weakness and to preserve his perception of his superiority he would say or do anything but apologize.

It didn’t matter how abusive he became, it was always someone else’s fault. Actually it was nearly always my fault – I was too sensitive, too intense, too controlling, too critical. And even when I would feel brave enough to confront him about his name calling and put downs, I would be accused of having no sense humor. But believe me, there was nothing funny about the verbal abuse and his unreasonable demands.

Thankfully I started to challenge my own victim mentality and realized that although he wasn’t going to change, I could. Finding the courage to make the transition from victim to survivor, I learnt that the responsibility for my happiness lay with me. And I grasped a truth that was the catalyst for my healing –  you can ‘t change other people and you can’t change the past. But you can choose how you react.

Of course I did want to hear ‘ I am sorry and I shouldn’t have behaved like that’ or ‘I won’t treat you like this again’ and ‘How can I make it up to you?’, but I didn’t need to hear any of it, in order for me to make a decision about my relationship.

For those of you who have the opposite experience of someone who apologizes all the time only to carry on hurting you time and time again, remember that ‘sorry’ can be the last thing they say before you walk away.

‘Tear out arrogance and seed humility. Exchange love for hate — thereby, making the present comfortable and the future promising.’ – Maya Angelou                          

As I learned how to define my boundaries, and to hold others accountable (myself included) I realized that it was also important to maintain a sense of serenity whenever I was offended. For me, a peaceful soul keeps me joyful and positive whatever my circumstances.

Whether intentionally or unintentionally, people do act thoughtlessly and cause harm. But a heartfelt apology from a place of love can heal the deepest wounds. Sometimes a simple ‘Sorry’ is enough, but you may require something more. Sincere remorse and a willingness to make amends are all steps to restoring trust and love.

Whatever is spoken or promised however, what really matters is how the person behaves afterwards. When it comes to apologizing, actions do speak louder than words.

‘Write injuries in sand, kindnesses in marble’ – French proverb

I love the gentleness of that statement and the sentiment of remembering the positive rather than the negative is how I would like others to view me. Nobody is perfect and when I mess up and say things I regret, I want to be able to say sorry and for my mistakes to be forgotten and forgiven.

Mariana Stauffer

When I say sorry it means I’m not perfect, and that’s okay. It means I didn’t intentionally want to cause offense and I want to make amends. It means I am hurting as much as you. and I don’t want either of us to feel that way again.

When I say ‘Sorry’ I mean it. Do you?

Huge thanks to Marianna Stauffer for allowing me to use her wonderful and inspiring 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/malorcka

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

Joyful living.

“Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.” ~ Mother Teresa

Life can be tough. Yet whether you are struggling with issues from  the past, difficulties for today or fears about the future, you can still live joyfully.

When you struggle with adversity it can be tempting to look at others and envy them. Some people can appear to glide through life not only untroubled but totally blessed. In reality that is simply a perception. No one gets through life without trials and everyone has their own battles to fight.

I suffered many years of depression because I allowed the abandonment by my mother and abuse of my father to rob me of my self-worth. And with it my joy. How could I enjoy my life when so much had been stolen from me? How could I find peace when my mind was in such turmoil? How could I be happy when I was in such pain?

The answer was in the realisation that joyful living is a choice. One of the most important lessons I’ve learnt in my emotional recovery was that I couldn’t change yesterday, I can’t control what happens today and I won’t be able to prevent what tomorrow may bring.

However I can make the choice to accept my past, find serenity in each day and embrace the future. All of which enable me to live with joy.

“If you are not living in Joy, you are out of integrity with your Soul.” ~ Michael Bernard Beckwith

Joyful living is empowering. It can overcome both doubt and fear, both of which used to dominate how I approached every area of my life; home, work and relationships. Having grown up in an environment where intimidation ruled, I lived in trepidation of saying or doing anything that would annoy my father. With so much that could go wrong that I gave up finding out what I liked or enjoyed in life because it was his needs that mattered, not mine.

Then there was the ‘fact’ that I was never good enough. As far as my father was concerned I wasn’t thin enough, pretty enough, clever enough, interesting enough. I had no value as in individual which of course was proved to me by my mother’s absence. In my mind she had left because I wasn’t lovable enough for her stay. Little wonder that I grew up finding it hard to find any pleasure in being me.

To live without joy is to live a life void of preference, purpose and passion. Your existence stifles your spirit and suppresses your soul. Yet it is in your spirit that you form your dreams and with the strength of your soul that you pursue them. It is in your spirit that you find love for others and in your soul that find love for yourself.

“There is no real and true Joy if that Joy is not imbued with love. Love cannot exist without Joy.” ~ Saraydarian

Joy goes hand in hand with gratitude and forgiveness. It also stems from acceptance and peace. Most of all though it’s birthed in love. Love isn’t simply an emotion, it requires action for it to be effective. So too, does joy.

Despite the difficulties you may be facing, you have the choice as to how you respond. Even though your circumstances may be in turmoil, you can be hopeful that no situation lasts forever. And when someone you depended on lets you down, you can feel proud that you have the strength to overcome. You can choose to be think positively and by doing so increase your light in the darkest of times.

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” ~Thcih Nhat Hanh

When you live joyfully, it’s not just you that benefits. When you live with hope your radiance shines on everyone and everything around you. When you find time to share kindness, your generosity is passed on. When you love unconditionally, your love is returned.

There are no grand gestures required. A gentle touch can reassure in a moment of grief. A genuine smile can break down sorrow. A heart-felt hug can reconcile and restore.

“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”  ~Psalm 37:4

For me, the joy in my life comes from knowing that I may not have what I want, but I do have what I need. Self-worth, sobriety and belonging also contribute towards my happiness. And each day is made complete by the love of family and the companionship of friends.

But my greatest joy comes from the assurance of a faith that heals and renews, forgives and blesses. And from the promise that He will give me the desires of my heart.

Now that  is joyful living.

Huge thanks to Lori Portka                 http://loriportka.com/ https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/LoriPortka for permission to use her beautiful artwork.

 

Alone doesn’t have to mean lonely.

janeoneIs loneliness part of your life? Are you in a relationship because you are scared of being on your own? Well then, you are not alone.

I spent years battling with the feeling of emptiness. The dysfunctional love I received as a child left me with a fear of attachment and a fear of loss. My head told me that I wouldn’t miss what I didn’t have and to be prepared to let go of anything I did have. My heart of course told me otherwise.

My heart ached. I compared my existence to those around me and saw only their happiness, their success, their sparkling futures. Whilst in my life I focused only on my pain, misery and failure. I didn’t believe in myself, so how could I be good enough for anyone else?

Not liking myself naturally meant that I didn’t like being on my own.  Medication and alcohol offered some relief but in they end my depression and alcoholism served only to reinforce my worthlessness and compound my loneliness.

“Loneliness is never more cruel than when it is felt in close propinquity with someone who has ceased to communicate.”  ~ Germaine Greer

I had plenty of friends and work colleagues but even they were kept at an emotional distance. Whilst on the inside I yearned for a meaningful relationship, the outside accepted anyone who would give me the time of day. It would be hard to describe these encounters as relationships as that implies some sort of connection or purpose. There was none. And I regularly played the game of ‘someone’s other-half’ even though being in their company made me far more lonely than being single.

Occasionally there would be someone who sensed my vulnerability and made it their mission to rescue me from myself. But the moment they did something nice, treated me well or heaven forbid told me that they loved me I would run. I knew that if I could leave before them before they left me, then it wouldn’t be as painful. Except it always hurt like hell.

When I had a complete mental and physical breakdown my isolation was excruciating.  It was something I will never forget, will never return to and would wish on no-one. But I had to face the reality that no-one could make my journey for me.The brokeness was mine. And mine alone. Only I could get sober. Only I could heal.

As faith filled the void left by alcohol so love filled the void of loneliness. Little by little I learnt how to connect with my inner soul and listen to my heart. Through forgiveness of others and of myself I was able to come to a place of peace with my past. And then I was free to live life as my authentic self.

“Women need real moments of solitude and self-reflection to balance out how much of ourselves we give away.” ~ Barabara de Angelis

I discovered that I as much as I appreciated being around others, I also enjoyed my own company. Instead of trying to shut myself out, I embraced who I was and what I was. And it was through this process that I learnt that being alone didn’t have to mean being lonely.

In fact the more I healed, the more I was open to relationships and the less time I spent on my own. The wonderful position I find myself in today is that I am filled with faith and surrounded by friends and family who bring me contentment and joy on many levels. Yet I am not dependent on them to fill any emptiness.

I am now in that privileged place of being able to say that I don’t feel lonely. For me, being alone means to be at ease with oneself. And for anyone who has stayed in a relationship rather than be single, they will know that this is a gift.

Amazingly, where once I would have craved company, I now seek times of solitude. Instead of a need to be in the presence of others, I look for space to be alone. A day is not complete without the experience of a few minutes of serenity.jane two

“You cannot be lonely if you like the person you’re alone with.”  ~Wayne Dyer

Alone doesn’t have to mean you no longer care for those who have passed. Alone doesn’t have to mean that you no longer care who comes into your future. What it does mean is that today,if you love yourself, alone doesn’t have to mean lonely.

Thanks to Chris Edgar at purposepowercoaching.com for his comment on ‘What’s love got to do with it? which prompted this post. And thanks to the multi-talented Jane Hinchliffe for permission to use her artwork – http://www.etsy.com/shop/JaneHinchliffe

 

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

What if…..?

Ask a child to finish the sentence ‘What if’ and they will probably come up with a fun, imaginative, affirmative reply. ‘What if’ for a child is full of endless possibilities. Yet as adult we often use ‘What if’ as a pessimistic precursor, which goes hand in hand with that other ominous statement ‘If only…..’.

When faced with a difficult situation it is a normal response to think about the ‘What if’s’ and when looking at a situation with hindsight, it is equally natural to consider the ‘If only’s’. For many of us though it’s only the worst possible scenarios or the most awful outcomes that come to mind. And if you’re anything like me, those images that are conjured up can become a form of self torture that do nothing more than hold you hostage in a state of fear.

Several years ago my long-term sober husband decided he could drink again. Dismissing my expressed concerns he was adamant that he could control his alcohol and that it wouldn’t affect our family. He couldn’t and it did.

Whilst he enjoyed his new found ‘freedom’ to do as he pleased, for me it was like being forced onto a train that I knew was going to crash. The months passed and my husband lived in complete denial of the damage being done by his addiction. Whilst for me, each and every day brought a new terror in the form of a ‘What if’.

‘What if ….. he crashes his car, what if he gets into a fight, what if he hurts someone, what if he hurts me? O f course these were always accompanied by the self-blaming ‘If only’s which had become a normality in our increasingly volatile family situation. ‘If only….I hadn’t said that, done that, behaved like that.

“The possibilities are numerous once we decide to act and not react.” ~ George Bernard Shaw.

It was only when my husband completely relapsed that it occurred to me that I had been allowing the ‘What if’s’ to lead the way. I had been so busy trying to keep the peace and reacting to every event that it wasn’t until crisis point that I realised I needed a radically different approach. There was nothing I could do to change the situation, but I could decide to change myself.

It started with changing my notion of ‘What if’. What if I said ‘Enough is enough’ and meant it? What if I drew up boundaries and stuck to them? And of course the victim mentality of ‘If only’ also had to change. For me the best way to stop lamenting the past was to make a conscious decision to close the door on the things that had gone before and look for a new door which would lead me to new opportunities.

“Change your thoughts and you change your world.” ~ Norman Vincent Peale

Obviously living my life by choice instead of chance didn’t happen overnight. And the hurt of those desperate months took much time, patience and prayer to resolve. But the lessons I learnt from the experience have been invaluable in dealing with other challenges since.

Today I don’t have to worry about ‘What if’, because I’m too excited about the ‘What next?’

_____________________________________

With love and thanks to my husband, who found the courage and strength to overcome the relapse.

The Gift of Gratitude.

How can I be thankful for my life? How can I find gratitude when events take a turn for the worse? The answer for me lies in ‘perspective’.

My computer crashed suddenly and spectacularly at the beginning of the week. It wasn’t just the inconvenience of being without the internet, it was the possibility that I had irretrievably lost some of my recent work that worried me. Any other time, this might have sent me into a panic at best and at worst, a prolonged period of ‘Why me?’

But I was able to accept the situation for what it was – a technical failure which meant I had to change a few things. My perception had been impacted by what had happened the day before. A letter had arrived to confirm the need for further treatment following a biopsy. It wasn’t what I had hoped for. Yet I could look at the positive side because of what happened the day before that. The death of a friend.

Perspective. No matter what was going on for me, the fact was that I had a life. My computer could be replaced. My work could be rewritten. My illness could be treated. How could I not be grateful?

Gratitude is a gift. And like any present, it is something that benefits the giver and the receiver. Thankfulness is so much more than an emotion. It is a choice to appreciate what you have. It is a decision to accept yourself and others for what you or they are.

Yet the more grateful we feel, the more our eyes are opened to the miracles that take place in our lives every day. We are touched by the blessings that appear and this allows us to reach out to others. Whether it is a simple ‘Thankyou’ or an extravagant gift, heartfelt appreciation always reaps rewards. It can turn someone’s ordinary day into an extraordinary occasion.

“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
~ Marcel Proust

In the past, my psychological damage and depression meant long periods of being unable to find anything to be thankful for.  My mind was so busy dealing with the pain that I became emotionally frozen. I could barely feel or express anything, but especially not gratitude.

“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.” – Epictetus

Life can be harsh, but the best way to deal with those troubled times is to count your blessings. Finding even one small thing to be thankful for can take you out of self-pity. Gratitude can help you find peace in chaos and relief from pain. It can spark the light that leads you out of the tunnel.

Learning how to be grateful brought healing to me. Through my faith and my family I learnt not only how to love others and myself, but also how to love my journey. I am grateful for the life I have had because it has made me the person that I am today. I can love my life because of my past and not despite of the pain. The gift of gratitude has set me free to embrace life on life’s terms, and that is freedom indeed.

No matter what happens today I’m going to find time to say ‘Thankyou!’ Will you join me?

Top image http://www.etsy.com/listing/94172614/may-you-wake-up-with-gratitude  thanks to Lori Porter

The Secret of Serenity.

Contentment with yourself and others. Complete peace of mind. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if life could be lived this way all the time?

However, an everyday challenge can pose itself and suddenly any sense of tranquillity is a million miles away. It’s easy to become stressed, but with the right approach your inner calm can return.

So what’s the secret? For me it’s the recognition that it is a choice. Serenity isn’t passivity. It’s not inertia. Rather, it’s a series of decisions and actions that deal positively with a negative situation.

Recently, someone I trusted and loved committed to do something important and meaningful in my life. They let me down without explanation or regret. In the past their disloyalty and rejection would have sent me into a downward spiral of depression and alcohol abuse. I would have wasted hours wondering what I had done wrong or just ‘why me?’

Instead I chose to look at things differently. I accepted the fact that I could nothing to change the situation. The other person wasn’t going to take responsibility so I had a choice to make. Feel bitter and hurt, or make a decision to overcome my disappointment and offence.

I often refer to the well-known Serenity Prayer: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.” ~ Reinhold Niebuhr.  

In this instance I knew that for my own peace of mind I had to ‘let it go.’ I had to accept the things I couldn’t change and find the courage the change the things I could. It required a combination of determination, perseverance and prayer but it was worth it. It freed me of resentment and allowed me to move on.

When life leaves you feeling battered and betrayed it can be hard to contemplate change. The unknown can be infinitely more fearful than the known. The more vulnerable you are the harder it can be to step out of the comfort zone.

Trust you intuition and remember that the right decision is often not the easiest. Learn from the difficulties of the past and embrace the newness of the future.

Wasting your energy and time on trying to change others will only leave you disconnected and frustrated. Choose to forget what you can’t do and focus on what you can.

Today I choosing serenity. Are you?