Time for Some Truth and Grace

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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

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Beaches and Bike Rides

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In the spirit of candor, I will say that I suffer from pretty severe anxiety. So much so, that simple tasks which may seem mundane to the average individual become extremely difficult for me. Case and point:

For the July 4th holiday, I was off from work and school beginning Thursday all through the weekend. My sweet J decided that it may be a great opportunity to go out and get some well-deserved sun while still avoiding the crowds, so he planned a little day trip to Venice Beach. This was an amazing idea…in theory. Our problems began early on. It is important to note that J HATES Los Angeles traffic. Being originally from the South, he has had the luxury of open roads and continuously fluid driving, and any Angeleno knows that is impossible to find in SoCal. So when we had to sit in 2 hour traffic just to get to the beach (a drive that should have only taken us half the time), he was already less than pleased. traffic

When we finally made it to Venice, we were both starving, so we quickly found a great Greek spot and chowed down. All was well so far – I was enjoying the quality time, the interesting scenery, the scrumptious mushroom gyro I was devouring like my life depended on it, and J’s spirits greatly improved with a full stomach. Then, however, his master plan led us to the bike rental shop. This is where the anxiety started to creep into my head. I haven’t ridden a bicycle in at least 10 years! Would I still remember how? They say you never forget how to pedal and keep yourself upright, but I am not the most coordinated person. This would never work. I could already feel my palms begin to sweat.

But I bit the bullet because J looked so excited and pleased with himself for coming up with an out-of-routine date, and there was no way I was going to be the reason his smile disappeared. Thus, before I knew it, I was straddling my bike on the Venice path, hands gripping the bars for dear life, just about to hyperventilate. J took off, and I had no choice but to follow or waste the money he spent. So I went. Initially, I got the hang of the pedaling and the movement; however, any time I tried to steer in a particular direction, I felt as though I ended up going the opposite way! J tried my bike and found nothing wrong, so he then switched to coaching me through the process. But it wasn’t working. He wasn’t understanding me or why I was in distress. Every time I wanted to turn, I felt like I was going to tip over, and my anxiety was growing heavier and heavier like an unseen weight upon my chest.falling

I crashed into a wall, hurt myself, but still continued to try because I didn’t want to disappoint J. He had taken the time to plan an amazing day, sat in unbearable traffic, and paid money for this experience. I couldn’t let him down, and I couldn’t let him see that I wasn’t up to handle something as simple as biking. So I kept going. I kept pedaling. I kept attempting to control my anxiety, to tell it to shut up. But it just wouldn’t leave me alone. It finally came to a point where I was on the verge of tears. My hands and arms were shaking from the strain and my jaw hurt from grinding my teeth. It was then that I realized that I had, HAD to stand up for myself. I had to trust that J loved me enough to understand even if he was disappointed. So I pulled over, jumped off my bike, and stood on solid ground. Once he noticed I was no longer behind him, he circled back and came to rest right beside me. With my eyes cast down I explained, “Babe, I’m so sorry, but I can’t do this. My anxiety is through the roof, and I am not enjoying myself. I need to stop.” Thankfully, J completely understood and was more than kind about the whole situation.

As a Codependent, that statement right there was a result of a year or so of intentional recovery and conscious striving for growth. Prior to my CoDA days, I would have never thought to speak up for what I wanted, or needed in a situation, especially if it indicated a “weakness” in my perfect armor. As long as my partner was happy, I was too (even though what I was really feeling was hurt, fatigue, anxiety, etc.). But I know now how unhealthy that is, and especially since i started this blog, I have been motivated to take even bigger strides towards managing my Codependency.

I am extremely proud of myself for not only recognizing my feelings and needs, but also for speaking up for them.  It may seem like a small step, but I feel as though I took a great leap towards a new lifestyle, one that is not dominated by my fears of being rejected and seeming imperfect.

There may be a day when I will conquer the world of bicycle riding, but until then, I know that I am not powerless and will not be forced into it until I am ready.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is my Freedom for the week.

Day 3 ~ 3 Day Quote Challenge

Freedom

Seeing as it is July 4th here in SoCal, and my blog is all about finding Freedom, I think this quote is a more than appropriate way to end this challenge. Moreover, I feel as though it targets a bigger picture issue. Often, people focus on the need for their rights to be recognized and met by the government, the state, another group, or another individual in their fight for freedom…no matter which voices are suppressed in the process. However, as Mandela said, Freedom goes way beyond oneself. It is crucial to recognize that without harmonious peace, Freedom falls apart into Anarchy. It is a fine line that requires sensitive hands in order to maintain. I not only want to live in a world that is “free” from oppression, hate, and discrimination, but I also want to live in world that celebrates differences instead of ostracizing.

How do we even begin that kind of acceptance movement? Well, I think it starts with you and with me. It starts on the individual level. If we can push for love in the midst of standing for Freedom, and we can encourage others to do the same, then I think we win. Our community wins. Our government wins. Our nation wins. Our world wins.

Yes, I am all about finding and fighting for Freedom. But as I have discovered, Freedom must come with Love or it is not worth the fight.

Happy Independence Day!!!!

P.S. This is sadly, the end of the 3-Day Challenge. A HUGE thank you again to BFarswani!

I Nominate:

1. Inspire the World Today

2. Ms. Ethel Duck

3. Abiegrrl

Here are the rules:

  • Post a quote a day that is meaningful to you for 3 days.
  • At the end of your challenge, nominate 3 other bloggers who you think would impart great wisdom to the blogging community.
  • Don’t forget to thank the blogger who nominated you.
  • Have fun!

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.

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#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.

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

R&R

I am sick. Like hacking up green stuff sick (sorry for the gross imagery). sick

But even as I stood at the bathroom sink, attempting to cough out one of my lungs, I was at war with myself. The conversation went a little something like this:

Logical me: You should call out today.

Codependent me: Woooooah there, buddy. You can’t do that! They need you. 

Logical me: Pssssh, they’ll survive one day without your brilliance.

Coda me: They’ll think less of you. They probably won’t even believe you’re actually sick. 

Logical me: You’ve been sniffling and sneezing all week!!! They definitely know you’re sick. They’ll probably be happier knowing you can’t infect them

Coda me: Oh, that’s better! Look out for their health. Okay, I am satisfied. You can stay. 

So here I am, wrapped up in blankets, tissues scattered about me, and my puppy at my feet settling in for a day of reading, writing, and relaxing. I know that in the end, it was my desire to protect my coworkers from the clutches of this evil virus that ultimately convinced my brain to call in sick, but I feel that I have ultimately won. I am taking time for myself!

I will leave you all with this question: when was the last time you took a full day just to relax? No dishes, no laundry, no one else in the house…just you and your prerogative? Can’t remember, huh? Take it from me, you need it, you’re worth it, and you won’t regret it. I can already tell.

Love always,
-Freedom