Time for change.

change 2“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.” Lao Tzu

Kindness, generosity, compassion, patience, trust, loyalty and honesty all make for a good relationship. But what if the person you extend these forms of love to doesn’t reciprocate? Not just on the odd occasion but consistently using or abusing your friendship? Then it’s time for change.

In the past I have been caught up in relationships that were simply no good for me. On reflection I can see that I was willing to put up with being let-down and mistreated because I didn’t believe I deserved any better.

Anyone who has been involved in an abusive relationship knows how difficult it is to think clearly in that situation. It starts with comments and actions that undermine you. If you have self-confidence then you are able to deal with these incidences appropriately. But if you’re feeling vulnerable or depressed as I often did then the doubt is set in your mind and so begins the downward cycle.

From my own experience I know how dangerous that can be. The longer I stayed the more I enabled the other person to carry on belittling me and making me believe that I was always at fault. Which in turn confirmed my uselessness as a human being. I gave my all but my all was never good enough.

Then when it reached the point that I literally couldn’t do or say anything right, instead of questioning how wrong it was to be living in a constant state of fear, I kept trying to change myself to fit in with the other person’s demands.

I ended up feeling like something that had crawled out of the ground and had no right to life. Except it wasn’t a life. It was an existence. It wasn’t a relationship, it was a one-way ticket to hell on earth.

“Even the worm will turn.” Proverb

You may feel like a little worm that is worn-out and weary but you can fight back. You are still alive and you as long as you have breath in your body you can change your life. It won’t be easy and it won’t happen overnight, but you don’t have to live one more day as a victim if you don’t want to.  Get ready to tell yourself, “It’s time for change.”

I had to hit rock bottom before I could make that choice, but with the support of friends, the guidance of professionals and the grace of faith I was able to reclaim my life.

“There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.”  Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

When my time for change came I knew it was never going to be simple or pain-free. It was time to accept my failures, time to let go of the past, time to forgive and be forgiven, time to live each day as a new beginning.

change1Time to live my life as the person I was meant to be.

What about you? Time for change?

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Mahatma Ghandi

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