Into the Woods

Woods

Yesterday, J and I took a nice leisurely walk with our pup to the dog park. Even though it was fairly hot outside, I really enjoyed getting away from our home space and outside of my head for a change. As we strolled through the beautiful, shady landscape that we are lucky to have right up the street, I had a lightbulb moment.

J loves the outdoors…capital, bold, underline LOVES the outdoors. He is all about nature and hiking, dirt biking, fishing…you get the picture. I, on the other hand, rarely find myself seeking the solace of Mother Earth’s bosom. Other than my 6 month stint in Kenya, I have never recreationally camped or hiked or done any of that stuff by choice. Well, as my family and I were taking our time yesterday, really enjoying the sunshine and the clear air, I realized that I felt an overwhelming sense of peace. “That’s weird…” I thought to myself. Why was I able to find such comfort in an activity I supposedly detested?

That’s when it hit me. In the past when I’ve gone hiking or done anything active in the outdoors, I have always been focussed solely on trying my hardest not to misstep or fumble or die. Dramatic, I know, but that’s how my brain work. On those journeys, I am consumed with the minute details: where to put my feet, how hot it is, or how far we have left to go. I never look up. I never see the beauty that is around me or appreciate the blessing of being able to move my legs, swing my arms, and feel my heart pumping in my chest. I never look at the bigger picture that is the wonder of adventure! Yesterday, I was able to do just that. With my hand in J’s, I trusted his leadership and just relaxed for once. It’s not about the destination or where we were going, but it was about enjoying every minute of the ride.

I think that is a lesson I need to take into every aspect of my life. Often, I am consumed with anxiety, worrying endlessly about these details that I think are so important at the time simply because my life lens is zoomed in about a hundred times what it should be. As the poster child for Codependency, I obsess over the smallest of things …even those that are completely out of my control. My blinders are on, and I am missing all the beauty and wonderment around me. But then it dawned on me yesterday like a gift from the Earth herself: It’s okay if things don’t go exactly as I want them to -if my foot doesn’t land on the exact place I plan it to- and I slip; I will get up again. it’s okay to look up from the ground and not plan every move I make; I will make it to where I need to be, one way or the other. And it’s more than okay if I have no idea where this road that I am on is heading; wherever I end up will be a gift.

Actually, it’s more than okay. It’s freeing.

Hello, Mother Nature, my name is Freedom and it’s about time we met.

Inter-Office Debates

LoveWins

History was made; Love wins.

I got into a – to be politically correct – semi-heated discussion with a coworker yesterday regarding the national legalization of gay marriage here in the United States. Though I was raised in an extremely religious household growing up, I have since developed my own ideologies and morals that I stand by with pride. One such principal that I support is the idea that all beings are deserving of love and respect. This, translated to the human rights issue at hand, equates to me being a gigantic banner waver for same-sex marriage.

Well, this guy at work wasn’t quite on the same page. When the discussion arose amongst the people in my area, his response was, “I’m cool with it as long as it doesn’t interfere with me life”. Already, my blood temperature started to rise ever so slightly. I am extremely passionate about the things I believe in, so I knew I was going to have to bite my tongue or find myself elbows deep in muddy waters. He and I were definitely not on the same page, though, because he then directed the conversation directly at me and asked, “Hey Freedom, isn’t your family super Christian? How do you feel about all this stuff?”

This was my response, “i LOVE it.” I was purposefully brief in order to prevent further discussion. But he was relentless and asked, “Is your family supportive? How did you come to an opposite opinion after having been raised with Christian beliefs?”

“Well,” I said, “to be honest, my grandmother is definitely still against homosexuality in general, but my mom is coming around. I think the changing of the times and social culture has a lot to do with differences in levels of acceptance in my family. I grew up in a community (at least outside of my household) that really didn’t demoralize or demean homosexuality, so I never even thought to see gay people as different from myself. So if there was no difference between “them” and me, why shouldn’t they be allowed to get married? It was a logic thing. Plus I have many gay friends who i love and want to see happy.”

He retorts, “See, I have a problem with the whole ‘coming around’ notion. I feel like if I were to suddenly accept gay people and gay rights after being told how morally wrong it is my whole life, then I would be lying to myself”.

I’m pretty sure this was where I started to see little bits of red floating in my vision. But I kept my cool and tried to view this conversation as an opportunity to maybe help motivate a change in thought. I said, “Ok, let’s say we lived during the pre-women’s rights movement. You would have been raised in a society that believed women were property, they had no ideas, thoughts, or beliefs of their own; thus, they shouldn’t have the same rights as men, right? Then new evidence, new movements of revolution began and you were presented with data that told you that actually, women are in fact human, and they have the exact same mental and physical capabilities that their male counterparts do. Do you think you’d still believe women are property because your parents told you so your whole life?”

After a little thought he responded, “I guess not. But women voting isn’t morally wrong, you know? Like, where do you draw the line? What if a man wanted to marry a young boy? They’re human..why isn’t that allowed?”

“Because this isn’t an issue of morality. That’s where I think people make the mistake, myself included sometimes; we confuse human rights issues with religious issues, which need to have a distinct distinction. Regarding the man-boy scenario you mentioned, it is wrong because the boy (who I assume is underage) doesn’t have the mental maturity yet to make that kind of decision. This is why the legal voting age is 18 and the drinking age is 21. Thus, by legally allowing a grown man to enter into a relationship with a minor, you are taking away the latter’s right…the right to physical and emotional safety…no matter that older man’s intentions. Anyway, what I’m trying to assert here is that there MUST be a stress on gay marriage being a simple human rights issue, all religion and morality aside. That’s how I am able to support it even though I was raised by certain set of beliefs”.

Silence. The whole office was silent. Perhaps it was the shock of me being so vocal and articulate, which I’m usually not around them, or perhaps what I said actually made them stop and think. Either way, I was proud of myself for speaking up, I was proud for sticking to what I believe instead of conforming simply to keep the peace or preserve amicability. I didn’t care what the office thought of me for once.

If that’s not freedom, I don’t know what is.

waving_gay_pride_flag

#lovewins and I couldn’t be more proud

Our Dance

Something stirs deep within me
It rumbles
It pulsates
It resonates

It spreads like a warmth
First from my belly
Then to my heart
And into my soul

It encapsulates me
Entrances me
Engages me
And we dance

But it is always just out of reach
Teasing
Waiting
Watching

I was never one for coy games
So I lunge
It slips like a whisper
Between my fingertips

And I am left wanting
Desperately
Impatiently
Restlessly

For just one taste
One touch
One glimpse

It is my happiness
That ghost of a thing
And it has lured me
Back into Its lair

Its home within me all along
In my belly
And in my heart
And in my Soul

Teasing
Waiting
Watching

And so we dance.
But this time, Happiness,
You will be mine

For I will encapsulate you
Entrance you
Engage you

I will love you
Nurture you
Embrace you

I will be yours,
Happiness,
And you will be mine.

The Willigness to Forgive Yourself

I have always struggled with extending myself grace, though I am quick to offer it to others. My inner critic is LOUD and plays like a record inside my head. I really love this post and the reminder to take care of one of our “greatest relationships”…the relationship with ourselves. It won’t happen overnight, but requires a series of conscious decisions to let go and let love flow inwards every single day.

Soul of Therapy

The majority of people I work with hate themselves.

Rumination over the past, continuous regrets over what should have, could have, would have been different, and the merciless resentments they hold inwards have created a permanent narrative of failure and incompetence. All the accolades and achievements hold little merit when they loathe the soul inside.

The other day, I asked a group of women to write down three things they regretted. Several had far more than three. Three, in fact, was just the beginning. Then, I asked them to list three things they did for themselves that week. Most couldn’t think of any. These women had no idea how to take care of and nurture the single most important relationship in their lives. They only knew how to hurt themselves.

To forgive yourself is to acknowledge that you are human. To forgive yourself is to surrender and accept yourself as…

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Rain, Rain, Go Away!

EeyoreI feel like I’ve been walking around with a cloud above my head. I have been anxious, tired, and all around in a bummy mood. Partially, it’s due to the stress of work and school. My case loads for both have increased dramatically recently; however, I think it is also credited to my turbulent sleep patterns.

But I’m ready for that the cloud to dissipate. And the best way to counteract negativity, I have learned, is to focus on the silver linings of my life.

As I had mentioned in my previous posts, I have been struggling with dreams of abandonment. Well, last night I was sharing this information with boyfriend (who we shall now refer to as J) as we settled on the couch together after a long day. These are my favorite moments – when the world finally stills, my mind finally quiets, and I simply get to rest with the man I love. So I was telling him that I have been struggling with anxiety due to these dreams. Now, he could have reacted in a negative way, especially since he understands Codependency and knows there’s a sense of “neediness” associated with the connotation. He could have turned to me and said, “Well that’s your addiction talking. You need more of me, and it’s unhealthy”. But he didn’t (thank goodness). He instead looked right into my eyes and asked if there was anything he was or wasn’t doing that was maybe causing my subconscious distress. To be honest, there wasn’t anything that came to mind, and I told him accordingly. So he dropped the subject. Throughout the rest of the evening, though, he was deliberate in mentioning how much he loves me, cares for me, wants to be there for me and take care of our family. Each time he said something along those lines, I felt as though he was extending me grace and acceptance. It was almost as if he was saying, “Your feelings matter to me even if they don’t necessarily make sense. And I love you enough to take you as you are”.

Those are the kinds of people us Codependents, or really anyone who wants to keep protect their emotional wellbeing, need to surround ourselves with on the daily. We need to search for those who will understand our struggles, but who are not quick to point them out in every situation or criticize instantly; those who are slow to speak and quick to love; and those that are able to discern when it is time to advise and when it is time to listen. Trust me, there have been times that J has needed to be tough with me and point out that my Codependent side was  starting to dominate a certain thought or behavior, but he always, always did it with kindness and gentleness. And for that, I cannot be more grateful.

coupleJ is a good man; but even more so, he is good for me. As a Codependent, that is the ONLY way I can justify being in this relationship. He makes me better. Make it a point to surround yourselves with these kinds of people, and keep the rest at a safe distance. I promise you will see greater progress towards a healthier, more fulfilling life.

Now I’m off to go catch up with my maaaan. Pretty sure I have good dreams in store for me tonight.
-Freedom

The Dreamer

Dream

I am a dreamer…in both the metaphorical and the literal sense. But in this particular post, I am referencing the latter. Ever since I was a young child I have had the most intensely vivid dreams that I always could recall with clarity upon waking. I am not like the “norm” population who has hazy recollections of their trips into the subconscious; I can recount them all in striking detail. Sounds kind of fantastical, no?

Well, it is on some days, but it is horrifying on others. I remember going through a period where my dreams turned into terrors and I would startle from slumber multiple times a night, afraid to go back to sleep lest the scene continue. Growing up in a spiritual household, my family always told me it was a gift to be fighting a war that only the angels can see. To a little 7 year old, though, that held little comfort. Per one of my mentor’s suggestions, I started to keep a dream journal, and every morning I would have 3 or 4 different mini movies to jot down. I still have that journal somewhere, and I will try to search for it to share more with you all.

Just to give you an example of the level of fear and darkness that could creep into my sleeping mind, I recount a dream that is branded into my memory:

I am in a large, dark, dirty, abandoned building, standing on the bottom floor. Looking up, I cannot even begin to glimpse the ceiling. There is nothing in the building except for the narrow flight of stairs that hug the walls. Upwards they climb, following the square architecture. Before I know it, I am on one of the top floors. An eclectic group of people sit watching a free-standing projector. It is still dark, and I begin to make my way towards the light of the screen. Suddenly, I feel a presence behind me. I turn, and standing in the frame of a door I had not noticed is this young girl. Typical of dreams, she doesn’t have a very distinct face, but she is a nightgown and she has no hair. I start to follow her of my own volition as she disappears beyond the door. As I draw nearer however, the sense of dread overwhelms me, and I hesitate. But a force pulls me in faster and faster, and as soon as I am past the threshold, the door slams behind me. My vision is filled with white. Bright flashes of white. Then flashes of torture. Horrible, gruesome scenes of murder and death. I cannot look away, though I am straining to turn my head. As quickly as it began, I am sucked out of the room and the door shuts, this time in front of me. I awaken 

I had that dream when I was 13 years old, and I can never, ever forget those images.

The reason I am sharing this piece of information now is because I have been having awful dreams again. Nothing as severe as the above, but I have been dreaming of abandonment. Every night for the past week or so, I have dreamt that someone I love is walking out of my life. And it feels so real that I wake up gasping in grief. Then I have to talk myself back to reality. It’s awful, and I am tired of them.

sleeping

I was wondering if any of you have struggled with darker dreams? If so, how did/do you cope? Any feedback or insight is welcome.

With hope for a better night’s sleep,
-Freedom

I Join the Fallen

I am exhausted.

Let the wounds heal themselves for once
Let the earth rotate its face
On its own
For once
Let the stars align where they may
Of their own accord
For once

Because I am exhausted.

Master puppeteer needs a break for a change
To allow the strings of our struggles to
Unwind
For a change
To rest in the here and the now
For a change

Because I am exhausted.

“I am tired of the waxing world,”
Cried Atlas
“I am tired of the glorious gold,”
Yelled Midas
“I am tired of me, myself,”
Declared Narcissus

It is enough tonight to know
That I take my place amongst the mighty
Who have discovered the weight
Of humanity
And fell

And that is all my weary bones can stake
All my withering soul can shake
All my miserable mind can take

For I am exhausted.

Progress Sometimes Comes at a Price

I found the blog my coworker writes to recount her life and struggles. I know it is her because of the anecdotes but also because of the pictures.

A little backstory is required here:

In June of 2014, I started at a new job. The department I was posted in is comprised of 99% males and deals with the technical aspect of our business. Me, being the new, young girl who could unintentionally cause a lot of misunderstanding to occur with an overly vivacious personality stayed mostly to myself. I wasn’t about to reach out and make friends until I got to know the company culture a bit more. Thus, it was a welcome relief when a particular female coworker (let’s call her B) reached out to me via the inter-office chat line. We started messaging back and forth and quickly realized we had much in common! So we went out for drinks, got to know each other, and quickly became great friends. B introduced me to another female coworkers of ours (D) and before we knew it, Thursday night happy hours were penciled into our weekly schedules.

Tequila

After the course of some time, B began to open up to me about her struggles with addiction and relationships. The problem with that is, she had no idea that I am a recovering Codependent. Her needs, her desperation, her “brokeness” was my Heroin, and she laid it all before me on a silver platter. But I had already begun my recovery journey at that time and knew that I was standing on a slippery slope, balanced on the edge of what could be an extremely dangerous situation. Despite my inner hesitancy and boyfriend’s worried warnings, though, I continued to allow myself to be whatever she needed me to be. It all came to a climactic crescendo one night after a few rounds of drinks. She was angry and accused me of being a manipulative Witch with a capitol B. Her words made me realize that the help I thought I was providing her was actually putting me in an extremely uncomfortable situation due to the nature of her secrets – she was cheating on her boyfriend (who is my direct junior at work) with our friend D. I couldn’t do it anymore. I had to save myself for the sake of my progress and really, possibly for the sake of preserving my amicable work environment. So I distanced myself. Initially, I hoped I could continue to be a part of her life and still maintain my own mental integrity. That unfortunately wasn’t the case, and I felt myself regressing. My world was starting to revolve around her issues. So I deliberately began to talk to her and D less frequently, easing myself from the middle of the drama, and eventually we drifted apart.

Fast forward 6 months to present day. I found her blog. It is filled with her sorrow, her struggles, her addictions, her anger, her past, her mental health, and her deep depression. Everything in me wants to pick up the phone and reach out to her….to fix her. But I can’t. I KNOW how selfish I sound. I really, truly do, but I’m not at that healthy place yet where I can handle her level of need without losing myself again. And I know she thinks I am a horrible person for pulling away, but I have to. She wrote a blog post about me. An extremely ANGRY blog post. And the Codependent in me really almost gave in to at least explain that I’m not a bad person. But even doing that will open another door, another line of communication, that I cannot risk creating right now. She is currently seeking professional help, so I know she is in good hands. I just have to trust that one day, she will find peace and maybe she can look back and see my actions with clarity.

For now, I have to trust that I am doing the right thing with the best and purest of intentions. So I will maintain this level of distance. Abstinence is my greatest friend here, and I stand behind Him with an aching heart.

With peace,
-Freedom

Daddies and Dog Beaches

1920x1080 Beach wallpaper

Tomorrow is Father’s Day here in America. It is supposed to be a celebration of the men who have loved you, shaped you, guided you, provided for you, and protected you. I never had that….at least, not from a father.

I can literally count the number of times I met my dad on one hand, and I remember each incident being fairly unpleasant.

Once, in third grade, my father came to my school during lunch period. I recall being extremely confused as to why he was there and even more importantly, why he was there without my mother present (she had sole custody). My mom was very clear in her instructions to me growing up, “Every time you are with your dad, I will be there too. You never have to be afraid”. Yet, here he was, standing outside my classroom, greeting me like this was a perfectly normal occurrence. Of course, me being my mother’s daughter (and my grandmother’s daughter…and my aunt’s daughter), I flat out refused to acknowledge him. I went to my teacher and explained that I in fact should NOT be seeing him at all (insert child like defiance here). So, in the heat of the awkwardness, my father was sent away and my mother was informed of the incident. Me? I continued about business as usual, refusing to acknowledge the stares emanating blatantly from my classmates’ faces.coldturkey

He made one attempt to see me a few years later. We went mini-golfing. My mom was present. After that? Nothing. It’s almost as if he quit me cold turkey. Like he gave up on trying to woo my little heart. No letters on my birthday, no phone calls, nada.

Then in 2012, my family and I took a vacation to the Philippines (where they are all from). Somehow, my father got wind and contacted me via Facebook. He was in Manila and he wanted to see me. I was older and ready to confront him with all of these emotions and questions I had stored brewing in my heart. So he picked me up from our hotel, my mother not included this time, and brought me to a restaurant. I was so focused on the mini speech I had prepared to dole out on him that I was taken aback when he led me to a table that was already filled with people. One woman and two children sat with expectant faces beaming at me. I was confused. Then my father said, “This is my wife, SoandSo. This is your sister. And this is your brother”.
I’m sorry what?! You walked out on my mom and me how many years ago only to find yourself another family to love, to nurture, to provide for, to take care of? I couldn’t believe it. But my inner Codependent smiled and made face and posed for pictures and made promises to stay in touch when all the while my heart was screaming: HOW DARE YOU!

It wasn’t until I started therapy a few years ago that I truly discovered how deeply his absence, his abandonment, his new life and his new family had wounded and scarred me. I was left with a piece of me missing and wanting. It left me feeling worthless and seeking love in all of the wrong places.

So today, when I was thinking about the significance of this weekend, I almost began to feel sorry for myself. My boyfriend and I were at the dog beach with our little puppy, and I was supposed to be enjoying the day. Instead, I kept thinking how lucky all of the families around me were with their daddies and children running around in the sunshine. My hurt heart for a second. But then it was if my Higher Power felt my soul wilting because I looked over and my vision was filled with my Love and our CRAZY dog running around with pure joy. Instantly, I was flushed with gratefulness and an intense kind of love that took my breath away. I got up, dusted the sand and sorrow off of my body, and ran to join my family.

I may not have had a father growing up, but my GOODNESS do I have so much love in my life now. That’s the trick that we often all forget about: in the moments when we feel at a loss, we must look around and take stock of all the things we have gained…whether it be people, wisdom, or experiences. That is the way to combat self-pity and emptiness. Easier said than done, I know, but practice makes progress right?

Keep at that gratefulness, friends. It won’t let you down.

Happy Father’s Day!!!
-Freedom