Rumblings

I am floating in a chasm, it feels, balanced somewhere between here and nowhere. I can hear a distant pulsing, almost as if the swirling mess around me is alive with fervor. I am suspended.

That is truly how I feel right now. I feel like I am on the verge of something big. It all started when I began reflecting upon this blog; my thoughts trailed from one post to another, analyzing my overall growth. While I do know that i have taken leaps and bounds in my recovery, even in these past weeks alone, I also sense a tiny orb of “incompleteness”. I can’t explain it, nor can I fully describe it, but I know that it’s there. It’s real.

What is my goal for this blog? What is my goal in recovery or even in Life as it encompasses me?

Those are the types of questions that have been pinging back and forth in my brain, like dots that won’t sit still long enough for me to connect.

I wish I could go back in time and sit my younger self down, explain to her all of what Codependency is, and send her packing on a journey towards self-discovery and self-love. If that were an actual, tangible facet of this blog – the ability to transmit my writings back in time to a younger me – it would have set my purpose apart from the get go. Sadly, that is not the case. It is too late for the younger me. But there are hundreds and thousands of young adults who could benefit from the wisdom I never received at their age.

Blogging simply to vent my feelings and connect with an online community is no longer satisfying the growing passion within my heart. The more I write, the more I feel as though I am missing a bigger picture. I want to change the world. I always have. And the further I venture out onto this precipice, finding my place and balance in this world, the more I want to share my excitement and my lessons learned with a generation of young girls that remind me of me. But is that just the Codependency in me talking? Is my own journey not enough to satiate my need to be needed?

I really don’t know the answer to that question. The desire to “help” is a dangerous place for a Codependent like me, and I know that. But something in me is stirring. It is demanding to be felt, and I think it may be time I listened.

[Reality vs. Codependency] An Intro

With the necessary precursor discussion of Love Languages out of the way (you’ll understand why it’s important in just a minute), I can move on to the next mini-series I have had planned for awhile now. On this recovery adventure that I have been on for the past 2 years, I have discovered something fundamental to my understanding of how I see the world: I have a “Codependency Filter”! It is this distorting mechanism through which I process and analyze situations, and it skews my reality into an irrational, convoluted, and emotional mess.

glasses

So I wanted to start a little sequence of posts that discuss just what this looks like, not only for the purpose of sharing, but also to stimulate deeper conversations and illicit meaningful advice.

The topic up for contemplation today is “the need for Quality Time and Physical Touch”. Ah, here is where my previous post plays in.

Now, this is what reality tells me about my current Love Language situation is like: “J absolutely cares for you. He shows it whenever he buys dinner, cleans up after the dog, checks the liquid levels in the car, opens your door…the list goes on! Surely, you can be more lenient and understanding when it comes to not receiving the exact displays of devotion you were expecting, right? It doesn’t mean he isn’t thoughtful. He just expresses it differently than you are used to. Different doesn’t mean absent. So when he has takes a travel job he cannot refuse, trust that he loves you deeply, and he isn’t doing it to deliberately hurt you. It’s just part of the gig.”

My Codependency Filter takes the information and boop bop beep bop…this is what I hear: “J definitely loves you. You can’t deny that. He just doesn’t care enough about your emotions and feelings to make an effort towards meeting your needs. That’s why it’s so easy for him to take jobs that just whisk him away to the other side of the country for months on end; it isn’t that important to him. YOU aren’t that important to him. Even though he knows that by leaving he is forsaking your needs for Quality Time and Physical Touch completely; he just doesn’t care.”

For a long time, I was oblivious to the fact that I had these distorting blinders on that funneled my vision and focused it onto details that just weren’t true, and I lived a very miserable life. My self-esteem and self-worth were at rock bottom. To this day, I have yet to find a way to get that darn filter off for good (I’m not even sure you really can), but I am now at least able to recognize its effects. Whenever I feel as though my Codependency Filter may be firing, I take a few minutes, a few hours, a few days, or whatever time frame I need to stop and process what is really going on. I try my best to separate myself from the situation at hand and see the bigger picture for what it really is, not just what I may be perceiving it to be. It has made a difference thus far and has allowed me to better handle my Codependent thoughts.

I am definitely a work i progress, but you gotta start somewhere right?

This was just an introductory look into this series. Stay tuned for more in-depth “decostructive” examinations! I hope you are as excited for this ride as I am.

Princes and Pythons

prince

Growing up in the Disney generation, I had fallen head over heels with the idea of Love. The notion that a handsome, brave Prince would one day sweep me off my feet with singing and dancing became my ideology of what a relationship should look like. Thus, when I entered into a partnership in the real world, I expected the same type of over the top declarations of romance and devotion. Honestly, the “puppy love” phenomenon I experienced in my early adolescence very much fit that mold; it was filled with hand written letters, home made gifts, poems, and the like, which only reinforced my belief that life was just one big fairytale.

As I grew up, matured, and began dating in my later years, I slowly realized that the “puppy love” phase is just that…a phase. Reality set in like a wet blanket, dampening my hopes of days filled with frolicking in the meadows with the man of my dreams, surrounded by rainbows and four leaf clovers. Instead, I was left with this confusing mess of unmet expectations and disappointments thinking that each boyfriend in my life simply didn’t care at all about me.  At the end of each relationship, I was convinced that I was nothing but a completely unlovable lost cause.

It wasn’t until I listened to talk on Love Languages while in Kenya that I realized I wasn’t at all unlovable! I was simply unaware of the different ways in which people express how much they care. As a result, I was unable to recognize the gestures of love that were indeed present and flourishing in my relationships, and I mistook it as absence.

The 5 Love Language:

  1. Words of Affirmation – “I love you”, “You’re wonderful”, “I am thankful for you”
  2. Gift Giving – material presents
  3. Quality Time – intentional moments with your significant other
  4. Acts of Service – fixing the car, doing the dishes, cooking, etc.
  5. Physical Touch – holding hands, cuddling, kisses, etc.

Love

This whole concept changed my life, both in my relationship with J but also in my closest friendships. I have discovered that there are so many more facets to Love than I originally pegged it for, and understanding this was the key to unlocking a harmonious interdependence. For instance, I have figured out that J is very much an Act of Service giver. Whenever time and schedule permits, he has dinner on the table for me, the dishes washed, and the dog walked and fed by the time I get home. Because I am a Quality Time and Physical Touch receiver, I could have absolutely missed his declarations of love and labeled him as an unthoughtful and uncaring man when in reality, he is the exact opposite.

This idea can also be flipped on its head. I am a Words of Affirmation woman all the way. I love showering the people in my life with verbal praises and encouragements. But like me, J is and Quality Time and Physical Touch receiver. If I wasn’t aware of that fact at all, I could completely miss the mark whenever I am trying to show him just how much he means to me. He would then be left unhappy and resentful.

Thus, Love is a balance. It is a delicate dance between your emotional needs and capacities and those of your partner. It is a fine line between knowing one another’s giving and receiving Languages and adjusting to create a harmonious flow of acceptance. Understanding and applying this newfound knowledge was the difference for me between a healthy, stable relationship and one filled with lies that flogged my self esteem on the daily.

Do you know what your love language is? If not, I encourage you to take some time for reflection and introspection. Otherwise, it may just pass you by. Take it from me, before I knew anything about any of this, if Love were a poisonous viper, it would have bit me right between the eyes.

Lucky for me, I learned the tricks of the trade. Just call me the snake charmer 😉

snake charmer

The Courage to Change Award

courage

I think this award is the most special of them all. There are no bells and whistles that accompany it, no questions to ponder, and no explanations to give. It is simply an acknowledgment of courage and vulnerability. I could not be more grateful to my dear, sweet friend, Ms. Ethel Duck, for not only passing on this accolade to me, but for constantly being a pillar of support and encouragement. She is one of the handful of bloggers who have truly made my WordPress experience a meaningful one thus far.

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it…” Nelson Mandela. This is my mantra for the week. May I always be a person who is passionate enough to follow my heart, no matter where it may lead.

The Great Divide (Lessons From Kenya #41)

Melting-PotDiversity…it’s a beautiful thing. Los Angeles, my birthplace and my home, is nestled in the “melting pot” of the world where different races and cultures combine into one gloriously, bubbling masterpiece that is constantly spilling out onto every sidewalk. In my little section of office alone we have the Filipino/Pacific Islander culture (represented by me), the Latin American culture, the Mexican Culture, the Chinese culture, and the African-American culture all located in a 30 x 30 ft radius. I love that. So there’s no way I would ever judge someone based on their race, right?

Well, Africa taught me many, many things about myself, including the areas that aren’t so loving and nice.When I first arrived in Kenya, I had already met up with 4 fellow travelers during my layover in Amsterdam. They, too, were from all parts of the United States, so there was still a sense of familiarity and camaraderie. Even when we first stepped onto Kenyan soil and were shoved into a matatu (taxi van meant to hold a maximum of 10 people) with 15 others, and I was forced onto the lap of a random group member, I still felt comfortable. It wasn’t until The Incident that I truly felt the divide.

On a 6 month trip to a completely different nation, one expects to be thrown into the midst of an entirely different ethnic circle, experiencing a new language, different spice palates and styles of eating, alternative expectations of what is appropriate to wear in public and what isn’t, etc. So I definitely was ready to adjust my ways of thinking and acting to better acclimate to my new community. But it wasn’t so easy. Our group had a fairly equal split of Kenyan born members and “Westerners” or “mzungus” as we were often called, and I honestly loved every single one of them. But the cultural differences kept us all fairly divided. Westerners became best friends with westerners and Kenyans with Kenyans. It wasn’t intentional, but it was comfortable, and it really didn’t cause any major problems. RedSea

Until, however, money went missing. 3 Westerners, my best friend included, had American dollars and some souvenirs stolen from their suitcases. Instantly, everyone was on the alert. Fingers were being pointed and accusations were flying out the window. Many Westerners were absolutely 100% sure that one particular Kenyan brother was to blame. He had come from a “rough” upbringing where money was tight and he supposedly fostered a drug addiction, but that was all hearsay that came to the surface during the commotion. Our Kenyan friends justifiably bristled at the harsh words, taking it as a slight against their whole community. Of course we think the Africans did it. It was an extremely tense situation that divided our entire group and paused our humanitarian work for an entire week. No one felt safe and everyone felt threatened by the others. Personally, I wasn’t sure who did it, but I knew there was no way a Westerner could. I had gotten close to each of them! I knew not a single one of them would do that. We were all here to help the people of this country; why would any of us steal?

The hostilities got to a point where nothing was getting done, and the base leader had to put his foot down. So he forced all of us into a room to spend time together eating, drinking, and playing games for an entire day. The initial progress was slow, but all of us had come there to do good in the world. That yearning to extend love and grace inside each heart leaked its way to the surface, breaking the tension, allowing for forgiveness. Slowly, but surely, the palpable anger began to seep from the room and the old friendships we had before the stealing replaced it. By the end of that time together, it was almost as if everyone was in agreement, “The past is behind us. Let’s move forward as a team and do what we came here to do”.

So we did. And I learned such a valuable lesson: no one is safe from the deceptively sneaky tentacles of bias. It is easy to stick to and defend what we THINK we know…what we believe to be comfortable and safe. But comfort and safety aren’t always synonymous as I have learned throughout my life (see this post). It is important to recognize that anyone can fall short of extending grace to those who are different, even those of us that think that’s the last thing we ever need to worry about. It’s hard thing to admit, but it is a lesson that I hold dear to my heart. Recognizing and admitting that I am not perfect used to be such a difficult thing for me, but now? It is the most freeing.

I am not perfect. But I’m working on it. That’s enough for me.

Time for Some Truth and Grace

family_holding_hands

Chapter 4 of Love is a Choice is all about Abuse. Now, if you’re anything like me, your first instinct will be to instantly shut down because of course this doesn’t apply. I was never physically or emotionally harmed in any way, so maybe I can just sit this one out, right? Wrong! After delving into the different kinds descriptions that the authors discuss in detail, I realized that I may not be quite as unscathed after all.

There are 4 types of Abuse that are mentioned in detail:

1. Active Abuse:

” These are physical out-in-front abuses, easy to see. Beating. Battering. Sexual molestation of any degree to and including intercourse. They are no only morally wrong but illegal in nearly all venues…

Active and destructive, but not necessarily illegal, are such manifestations as extreme anger or rage – verbal violence. Shrieks and the irate laying of blame leave scars and bruises that will e felt not seen.”

2. Passive Abuse:

“One or both parents are so preoccupied they are not available to the child emotionally, physically, or both… The ones universally recognized, the ones with the really bad press, are alcoholism and substance abuse. Others may be praised and idealized in certain quarters – workaholism, for example…”

– “Abandonment is abusive, and make no mistake, divorce however amicable, is abandonment…”

– “The parent who constantly brushes the child aside commits passive abuse…”

– “A parent who is noemotional – a Star Trek Mr. Spock type of cerebral person – is not going to fill the child’s love tanks simply because children react at a spontaneous visceral level; the child and the adult aren’t speaking the same language…”

– “A lack of love between the parents is another form of passive abuse…”

– “The parent with compulsions or perfectionism may not force it on the child, but the child is watching as Mom weekly cleans the bathroom tiles with a toothbrush and Dad mows the lawn every three days. The message is there, expressed nonverbally.”

3. Emotional Incest

“Incest in one way brings up the wrong connotations. But in another way, the word’s connotations are exactly right. Emotional incest has of itself nothing to do with sexual matters…Rather, it is an extreme role reversal.

Here is where a loving relationship between parent and child has somehow been turned upside down. The  parent’s mind (and rarely consciously considered) is the thought, I don’t care much for my spouse, but I have this child who I love more than life itself. What that statement so often mean is, “My spouse isn’t giving me the love I crave (because both our love tanks are near empty) but I can get it from my child.” The half-person is going to that little person for completion.”

4. Unfinished Business

“Unfinished business is Mom’s or Dad’s business that was never completed. One or both may have some area of their lives in which they’ve always felt discontent. Perhaps Dad feels frustrated and sexually unfulfilled in his marriage. As he views marriage and his life he gets this this tremendous sense of uselessness, of lack….Unless he makes peace with that…without intending to do so he may well hand that frustration down to his sons and daughters”.

I never knew that abuse actually had a place in my life, but after reading these descriptions, I definitely experienced some emotional damage upon reflection. Having an absent father was a form of passive abuse, and my single mother definitely attempted to make me the center of her world (emotional incest). It actually explains a lot about my current mindsets and personality traits. Abuse may sound “harsh” but unless it is addressed in such a way, one may never realize just how deeply our wounds travel, and how crucial it is to get help or begin recovery.

Truth is hard sometimes, and placing any kind of criticism on the people who cared for and raised us can be a difficult thing. But everyone is human, prone to messing up here and there, including your Mom and Dad! Mistakes are to be expected. It is okay to admit that fact as long as it is accompanied with heaping piles of grace. Even with these realizations, it does not demean the love that was given; it simply brings to light the need for further introspection that could ultimately bring much peace for yourself and for the future generations of your family.

So, dear friends, is it possible that there may be some wounds that you need to open in order to bring fuller healing to your life? If so, know that you are not alone by any means, and that accepting these (oftentimes harsh) realities is the first step to a better life. Persevere through that dark tunnel, and freedom will be waiting on the other side.

Motivational-inspirational-meme

Agent J

Ah, dear old MacBook, my trusty old friend, how you continue to prove yourself useful to me even when you may harbor feelings of replacement and resentment. Well, thanks to you, I am once again able to access my amazing WordPress community and re-contribute to the blogging world.

I had originally planned to start up again with a book club post, followed by a list of other topics that have been rattling inside my brain, but I have a situation at hand that I would like to discuss.

strike

As I sit here typing away, J is out gallivanting like a rogue CIA agent, sent on a mission that he believes only he can accomplish. This past week, a rumor spread throughout the show he is working that it was getting flipped into a Union gig. Basically, this means that all the workers there would get grandfathered into an organization that fights for better pay, easier working conditions, and health benefits. However, this translates to the production company having to dole out more money in order to meet the new criteria. Needless to say, they declined. Thus, the entire crew, J included, have gone on strike. Now, initially, I supported this movement wholeheartedly; all of the men and women running around in the desert all day deserve the increases and benefits, but my whole opinion has changed as of today.

J just told me about some of the activities that the strikers are initiating which could be considered “illegal”. To make matters worse, he thinks that they are absolutely justified because they are fighting for a good cause. While I do understand that principle, I think that there needs to be a line drawn as to what is acceptable when handling this whole situation. I hold strongly to the notion that the ends should never justify the means. I am struggling with the idea that the man that I love, the one that I thought complimented me so perfectly, could have opinions as drastically opposite to my own. Not only does he support the dangerous antics, but he is volunteering himself when others won’t step up.

I tried to communicate to him how worried I am that he may be getting in too deep, but he thinks I am being silly. My friends, I do need your help. Oftentimes I have difficulty separating healthy emotions and concerns from unhealthy ones (this is the topic of the next mini series that I want to tackle FYI), so I need opinions and advice. Do you think that perhaps I am truly over reacting? Maybe, this is stemming from my need to control the people and situations around me. Or am I really right to be concerned? More than that, though, should I be worried about what this means for my relationship with J?

I would love your feedback! I know that there are many of you out there who can offer me great wisdom and insight. Any input would be appreciated.

Love Always,
-Freedom

P.S. Chapter 4 discussion is happening tonight! Followed by the first post of my new mini series: Reality or Codependency? Also expect another Lesson from Kenya, and hopefully an update on this whole Agent J situation by the end of this weekend.

Oopsie Dasies

Hello my friends,

I have had a series of topics that I have been so excited go write about, but alas, I forgotten my laptop at school. Fortunately, my professor saw it and was kind enough to keep it safe until I am able to retrieve it. All of that to say, I am without a means of accurately writing out my thoughts.

But fear not, I will be back and ready to discuss more experiences from Kenya, Chapter 4 of our book club, and a new miniseries I would like to delve unto regarding separating reality from Codependency.

For now, please check our my new instagram Falling4freedom!

Talk to you soon.

The Liebster Award

Liebster

I am always so blown away whenever anyone thinks to nominate me for anything really, but an accolade coming from the WordPress community is just that much more special. Huge thank you to gingersnap74 for extending such a sweet gift to me. Please check out her amazing blog filled with stories and motivations of recovery.

Here are my answers to her questions:

1. Who is the most influential person in your life?

My mother will always be the voice inside my head motivating me to be better at whatever job is before me, even if that task is something as simple as relaxing or loving myself. She is an amazing woman who continues to shape me into a more caring, humble, and gracious person.

2. If you could live anywhere in the world where would you live?

I honestly LOVE Los Angeles – something about its diverse, eclectic nature will always be my favorite place in the world. Maybe that’s because it’s “home”, but more likely it’s due to the fact that L.A. is just an awesome place!

3. How do you handle mental stressors in your life?

I visualize. Particularly, I put specific images to whatever is causing me anxiety and stress, and I mentally tie those objects to red balloons, letting each one fly away until they disappear out of my “sight”. That, and chocolate.

4. When you blog, where does your inspiration come from?

Anywhere and everywhere. Anything can be a topic for further discussion if I’m passionate about it.

5. What is the biggest thing thus far you have learned in your life?

That I am worthy of my own love.

6. What is one quality that you think is most attractive in someone?

Confidence! Absolutely. There is something magical about a person who is simply comfortable in their own skin and who knows that they, too, are worth more than their weight in gold.

7. What type of music do you enjoy and name your favorite band?

To be honest, I’m oooold school. I am crazy about the classic works of Frank Sinatra, James Dean, and Aretha Franklin.

8. What are you most proud of in your life?

My big heart. Sometimes it gets me into a lot of trouble because emotions have the power to be both constructive as well as destructive, but ultimately I know that if there’s something I do well, it’s loving other people (or animals, or sometimes weird inanimate objects that look “sad”).

9. How would you describe yourself?

A 50 year old in a 20-something year old body.

10. What is your favorite life quote?

“You do not have to set yourself on fire to keep anyone else warm”

11. What’s the most valuable piece of advice someone has given to you?

Just breathe. Seriously. Anyone who tells me this is a life saver because I constantly need to be reminded.

That was super fun! I realize that I haven’t shared many random facts like these with my WordPress family since i started blogging; I must remember to do more of it!

I nominate:

1. emmagc75

2. SilverGirl

3. Memoir Notes

4. OnlyBadChi

5. Daily Inspiration Blog

Here are my questions to you:

1. If you could have dinner with any person in history (dead or alive) who would it be and why?

2. What is one subject or area you wish you were an “expert” on?

3. What is the most creative/out of the ordinary thing you’ve ever done?

4. If there is one attribute (physical or abstract) that you could ensure your future child gets from you, what is it?

5. What is the most influential book or quote you’ve read?

6. What do you wish you could get paid to do?

7. What is your favorite thing to do on a rainy day?

8. Are there any blogs in particular that have had a significant impact in your life?

9. What inspired you to start blogging?

10. What is one thing you are working on right now?

11. Tell me something only few people know about you!

Communication and Confrontation PSA

couple

I was sitting in the office, minding my business, when I overheard my male coworkers discussing the difficulties of being in a relationship. Well… that’s the nice way to put it. In all honesty, they were simply griping about their wives. One guy in particular was saying that he specifically hates how he has to do both the cooking and washing up afterwards while another was venting about having to constantly pick up after the family dog.

Really, I wasn’t planning on interjecting or commenting on the situation, but somehow, I always get roped in. The guys know that about 6 months ago, I moved in with my long-term boyfriend, and they proceeded to basically ask me if things had fallen apart yet. When I told them, no, they hadn’t, they all responded with, “Just you wait” type interjections. That was extremely irritating to me because they made it seem like a miserable relationship was inevitable! There was just no avoiding it; just buckle up and get ready for the ride.

That would have been just fine with me prior to recovery. But now? There is no way that statement wouldn’t push my buttons because I know better.

So I asked to coworker who was tired of cooking and cleaning, “Have you mentioned this to your wife? Maybe you guys could come up with a system that dictates if someone cooks, the other does dishes?” He looked at me like I wasn’t the brightest bulb in the tool shed and said, “I’ve tried that. It always turns into an argument”.

When I got home that night, and J and I finally settled in, I brought up this discussion. I explained how much it bothered me, and how I really didn’t want us to end up miserable and angry. So I made him promise to never let fear stop him from confronting me about an issue, and in return, I promised to handle it as maturely and calmly as possible. This also works the other way. I need to remember to put aside my worries about pleasing my partner and speak up if I have a genuine issue. As a Codependent, this is high up on the list of struggles for me. I am always hesitant to ask for things, especially when I feel I can accomplish them on my own. However, if I do this time and time again, I will find myself over-burdened and exhausted – 2 things that I am striving hard not to be. I know we won’t be perfect at it, and we will probably fight many times, but I don’t want that to be the end of the story. By setting this expectation of communication now, I think we stand a better chance of paving the way for a healthier partnership.

We all deserve so much more than to be stuck in fearful, resentful relationships that make us bitter towards the people we should be treasuring the most. I think many of us, myself included, forget this because of the way we were brought up or because of the unhealthy mindsets that were modeled to us throughout the years. But here is my PSA for today: stop settling for mediocre relationships (romantic or otherwise). Seriously. Stop it. You really are worth more than that.

So whatever is holding you back from communication or confrontation – whether it be fear of seeming imperfect or needy, the hesitancy to initiate fighting, Codependency, or anything else it might be, put it aside and allow your heart a chance at vulnerability. And no matter how the other person takes it – even if they are angry – love them enough (and love yourself enough) to push through that emotion and come to a place of agreement. Even if it takes 30, 50, 100 tries.

Your future selves will thank you.

Mandela