We're moving through the "spooky" time of year. Halloween, Samhain, All Saints Day, All Souls Day, Dia de Muertos...all ways of honoring "those who have died yet never, never left" us. This time of year, we are haunted by the dead, in costume, at intentional altars, or in our nightmares.
On Halloween the dead walk among us as heroes and angels, villians, the actual undead, ghosts, and other spectres from beyond our world. The Christians remember and pray for the dead on All Souls Day. Those who keep Samhain know it as the time of year when "the veil thins between the worlds," easing for many days the two-way flow of energy across what often appears as a solid barrier. Day of the Dead brings the culture of feeding and "visiting" with the ancestors, seeking their "signs" that speak to our requests for wise counsel and guidance.
Once upon a time there was a victim. Terrible things had been done to her body, mind, and heart. She hid her real self behind layers of body fat, for protection, and kept herself numb with workaholism, drugs, and alcohol.
She no longer felt her pain but she also no longer felt her joy.
For a long time, I found it mysterious that people liked me. My sexual abuse history had taught me that there was something fundamentally wrong with me. So, why would anyone like me? They did but I found that suspicious. I sort of lived by that Groucho Marx motto that I wouldn't want to join any club that would have me as a member.
I am feeling bitter and resentful. That puts me out of alignment with my value of forgiveness, so I know I have some work to do. Mind if I do it here?
It's all about judgment, really. Yours and mine, both.
See, I currently get a lot of kudos for my striving to recover from myriad adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), including sexual abuse, parental alcoholism, and verbal/emotional abuse. Yet, I've been striving for more than 30 years and rarely heard this kind of praise before.
What's the difference now? This phase of recovery is changing my body's size and shape.
Kind of pisses me off.
With love and respect for Lesley Gore and her wonderful, powerful lyrics, I want to talk about another meaning of this statement from the title of her song. I mean, sure, don't tell me what to say or do, and don't try to change me. I'd say those limits are fundamental in any relationship.
Don't should all over me, for sure. Can you take it one step further and speak to me from the assumption that I am someone of equal power?
Uh-oh. Now I went and said that nasty word...power.
How many times in your life have you experienced the sudden fall from a metaphoric rug being pulled from under you? That expression is a vivid one. We can all envision the slipping, stumbling, staggering suddenness of stability ripped away. Sometimes it's stability of financial resources that is lost, as when a job unexpectedly ends. Somtimes it's stability of emotional resources, as when a key relationship ends.
Sometimes, in these falls, stability of self-concept is lost. There's a sense of shifting to a parallel universe, where people are suddenly not who you thought they were. Sometimes, it feels as if identity is the rug that is pulled.
No matter how often it happens, whether the last time was 5 years ago or 5 minutes ago, it hurts every time.
I want but am thwarted. I need but am frustrated. I ask and am refused. I try and fail. I strive, reach, hope...and am disappointed.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope." How do we do that?
I'm not married, so you might not trust my insights here. Still, I have been married, for almost 20 years, so I do have some experience. More importanty, my former partner is, today, among my three closest friends. Can you say that about an ex? Mine knows me better than anyone else on the planet, not counting myself (cuz there ain't nobody knows as much about me as I know).
If one person in your life has told you you're a control freak, you might not really be one.
If 3 or more persons have labeled you this way, then maybe you should be listening. Six or more? Save this link to read later. 10+? Stop what you're doing right now and read this blog post.