The dominant culture, which is mostly reactivity from unprocessed trauma, tells us that we aren’t supposed to let people hurt us. But the truth is people do hurt us.
My mom hurt me today. And there’s been plenty of other days as well. As her young child I was constantly hurt. I learned to cope and self-protect through a variety of ways. As a child, it was through art, music, books and my imagination. As I grew older, other ways were through perfectionism, OCD and controlling behaviors and the big one: codependency.
Today, I stopped taking her hurt. I set a firm boundary. And then I let myself be hurt. When our mothers hurt us it’s the ultimate betrayal. If the hurt is constant and consistent, we will learn to betray ourselves. We will make choices and create an entire life and get involved in relationships from this deepest wound.
If we are brave and committed to change, we will begin to awaken to our life built from self-betrayal, and we will feel shattered. At the very least, bruised. And, this is the place where we learn self-love, self-compassion, and forgiveness of self and others. It is a deep and holy space of grief, surrender and heart opening. We will learn self-love and begin, little by little, to create a life for ourselves painted from the womb of our rebirth and our deepest reckoning with ourselves.
We will recognize that we no longer need to protect ourselves from hurt. We will come to experience our heart as strong, worthy, willing and ready to feel feelings and remain stabilized. We will learn the difference between self-betrayal and self-love. We will see setting boundaries and making conscious choices as our gateway to creating new experiences, experiences based and waged in self-love.
To continue on this self-love journey, my self-reflective practice for the month of November is this….to explore, experience and learn:
What does self-love look like in my relationships…..
Beyond relationships, what does it look like for me in my life…. How do I paint and create my experiences through self-love?
This glimpse through a sunroof tells a story. I did not know this when I took the shot. I only knew I just bought a new car and had pulled it into my driveway after saying goodbye to my mom, who was recently discharged from a hospital into a nursing home.
Leaving my little mom who is, as she says, “not aging well” in a stark room, is that darker cloud hovering over the others. The other clouds are the week that had just ended. It was a week of juggling work, family, self-care, and my mom. The glimpses of blue sky are the new car and the experience of holding all of this while maintaining steadiness, stability, and even some joy.
This is the individual story.
The larger, universal-soul story is we have tremendous capacity to hold any and all of what comes to us. Yet, many of us cannot because we are full to the brim, often running over, with clutter. The clutter is both internal clutter and external clutter. When we are filled to the brim with clutter, we are at capacity. When we are at capacity we do not run efficiently, and therefore, either do our lives and relationships.
This used to be me—I was at capacity and not running as well as I am capable or as I am now. My clutter expressed itself in controlling behaviors and overall rigidity. It also looked like shutting down and isolation. Don’t get me wrong, I am still in the recovery process, as these patterns were deeply rooted and honestly kept me sane for a long time. One of my more useful patterns is being VERY organized. Being organized kept the overwhelm at bay. My most useful companion on this journey is my burning desire for space, order and understanding WHY.
I compare myself to the Princess and the Pea. I am sensitive to discomfort. It does not matter if the discomfort is internal or external. If I feel it, I deal with it. Dealing with internal clutter takes diligence, patience, commitment and courage. What comes from this process, at first in small glimpses and then expanded ones, is self-knowledge, flexibility, enthusiasm, inner spaciousness, creativity, freedom, healthier relationships, clarity, calm and overall graciousness and generosity toward ourselves and therefore, others.
This is our potential. Our promise. Our possibility. And, it’s an ever-evolving process that I desire for us all to be consciously attuned to. It is also my desire to be a companion on this journey. So, follow here on this site, and here @adailyglimpse Facebook and Instagram for more.
Stay tuned for a breakdown of internal & external clutter.
This is me sophomore year in high school. I’m in photography class (the only class I liked). I see a contemplative person. A deep well doing my best to function in superficiality, knowing there’s more, and feeling my way inward.
I am still this way except I am beyond doing my best with superficiality. I have moved to that deeper place and I’ve discovered so much about myself.
The journey so far has been intense and this is because I set a clear intention- maybe around the time of this picture- that I would get through my stuff sooner rather than later.
This “stuff,” is the trauma and neglect of my childhood. It’s the alcohol and mental illness from a primary caregiver. It’s the bullying and feeling left out in school. It’s the why I’m codependent (now in recovery). It’s all of that and more, and how it creates deep psychological conditioning, which creates disruptive relationships dynamics, behaviors and moods.
It is my sense we are in a great battle due to the wounds of our upbringing. These wounds create psychological conditioning that impact our everyday lives, experiences and relationships. Many of us do not realize this is the case and just assume: this is who we are. But these attitudes and behaviors, that come from this psychological space is not who we are. We are more. And, we can be restored to who we are. Some of us are waking up to this realization because it is time. It is time to evolve and advance, and break the cycles of trauma and neglect.
At 47 I feel I am on the other side of the psychological conditioning and making my way toward everyday, every moment consciousness- one glimpse at a time.
As I become more awake the desire to externalize all that I have learned also awakens. This is why I have started a new page on social media called A Daily Glimpse. The intention is to share, in a digestible way, the often complex and challenging experience of personal and spiritual transformation. There have been many who made the shift that came before me and helped me along the way. I now notice others coming forward to do the same. Sometimes I wonder, am I too late?
The ego says: why bother then. Well- because this shift in higher consciousness is bigger than my ego and I choose to be a part of the change and that is why I want to offer the messages I have to give. If you’d like guidance and support in making the shift from our psychological conditioning to expanded consciousness follow @adailyglimpse.
This is a difficult question to answer, although most people will have their answer at the ready. They will begin to give a litany of their identifications; I am a human, a male, a son, a father, a white man, a Christian, a student, etc… Yet, does their identifications explicitly define the question of “Who I am?” It does up to a certain narrow perspective. If we include only the material aspects of our perspective, it does deliver a relative truth of who we are, all in terms of our material interpretation. But it seems we always identify ourselves with what we see, with what we touch, with what we smell, with what we hear, with what we possess, all exclusively with the objective world.
There is a poem written by, Edwin Arlington Robinson, called “Richard Cory.” Richard Cory was, “empirically slim, always human when he talked, admirably schooled in every grace, richer than a king, he even glittered when he walked;” simple people wished they were in his place. Yet, one calm, summer night, went home and put a bullet through his head.
Of all of his accomplishments, and material possessions, none brought Richard true, lasting satisfaction or joy. What was missing in Richard Cory’s life that made him take his life? There is a song that asks a question, “Is that all there is?” and the answer resounds, “If that is all there is, what’s the use of living.” As human beings we have a cosmic, interior urge to expand. If we live in a 6′ by 8′ room, we will aspire to live in a 12′ by 12′ room, and if that room feels enclosed we will look for a larger room.
I don’t feel comfortable being away from him. Like now, we are apart. I’m waiting for him to call so I know what I am doing. That’s sick. I’m sick. I’m fucking angry as hell at myself. I just want to say fuck it and learn to be happy with myself. But then again, I want to work this relationship out.Everything I am doing; I’m just hurting myself.It’s gonna take so much to get out of where I’m at.
Personal Journal Entry, June 1990, 18 y/0
This person I was in a relationship with punched me in the chest and knocked the wind out of me. I don’t recall what I did immediately after this, but I know I stayed with him for a while longer. I also remember telling my dad he hit me. I wanted my Italian father to pretend “he knew some people” and go after him. But instead, my dad asked me this: what is it in you that attracted you to him?
This is not what I wanted to hear. However, his question changed everything for me. It took the focus off the abuser and onto me, where at some level, felt I deserved it. Now, I know this isn’t popular and some may see it as blaming the victim. Further, I am not here to say that my situation is like all others. Mine is mine and my father’s question helped me to begin a journey that allowed me to explore what I bring to a relationship. When we take responsibility for our part in all of our experiences, we have the opportunity to understand and grow from what we learn about ourselves.
The words of my 18-year-old self were right on: It’s gonna take so much to get out of where I’m at. It has been almost 30 years since I wrote that sentence, and just this past year I finally feel like I am out. Although this one article cannot hold what I experienced and learned about myself these past 30 years, here are a few lessons I’d like to summarize:
The root of psychological suffering in relationships is unworthiness.
According to Melody Beattie, who wrote the book Codependent No More, said “..our low self-worth or self-hatred is tied into all aspects of our codependency.” I am not a huge fan of labels, but I would consider myself a codependent who is in recovery. Melody’s definition of a codependent is: “…one who has let another person’s behavior affect him or her, and is obsessed with controlling that person’s behavior.”
We often try and control who and what we fear and what we don’t understand. We can spend years, and sadly, our entire lives, doing this. I learned that my controlling behaviors were both a sign and a symptom of something deeper happening within me and served as a distraction from going deeper. The deeper issue I was avoiding was my feeling and belief about being unworthy. An experience of unworthiness is quite common and often originates from childhood neglect and trauma.
Relationships are a vehicle to help us grow.
I posed this question on social media recently: Is it true we must leave certain relationships in order to grow? Or is that we use this more than we should because our discomfort about facing ourselves and our own dysfunction in a relationship scares us?
My answer is: both are true. According to the Imago Relationship Therapy model, developed by Dr. Harville Hendrix and Dr. Helen LaKelly Hunt, we attract partners who carry psychological and emotional patterns from our childhoods. As we move deeper into relationships, these patterns are exposed, and often erupt. The relationship dynamic itself is a vehicle in which we have the opportunity to uncover, and therefore understand and heal from our childhood traumas. Therefore, it is important to investigate the reasons for leaving a relationship that makes us uncomfortable or we may find the same kind of relationship, only with a different face. Also note, I am not at all saying, in the case of an abusive relationship, we stay in order to learn and grow. This article does not address the specifics and dynamics of domestic violence.
The fear is emptiness. The gift is self-love.
When they are away, it is the emptiness I feel. It is this emptiness that makes me do crazy things and act in crazy ways. It is this emptiness I must embrace, but I am afraid to be with it, to be with myself. I don’t want to use them to fill the emptiness that is within me. I need to fill that myself so I can be secure within myself.
Personal Journal Entry, July 1990
The emptiness many of us fear is an unknown experience for most of us, yet we fear it anyway. Why else do we fill ourselves up with information, activities, noise and addictions of all sorts. There are two experiences of emptiness I have found: one that we run from and resist and one where we finally settle into it and find everything we are looking for.
When I was younger and working through my codependency, I feared I was only my dysfunction and scarier, who would I be without it? Empty. Nothing. But this is far from true. The gift we receive from self-discovery and understanding is self-love. We begin little by little to be self-contained and self-reliant. We seek what fulfills us from a greater sense of self-value and clarity, and a foundation is built on worth, not unworthiness.
I would love to hear your thoughts, questions, struggles and experiences in relationships. If you’d like to expand and deepen understanding here are a list of resources:
The parade in our town today clarified what I have done as a white woman with bi-racial children…
To all the times I brought my children to white spaces, moved to white neighborhoods, enrolled them in white schools- I am sorry and deeply ashamed of my ignorance.
I feel it now, more than ever- these words: “white supremacy is not a shark; it is the water. “ Guante
I get a small taste of the terror and discomfort, the trauma of being a brown body in this water. I am angry, which is a privilege of white skin, at the levels of energy it takes to accommodate and appease this white nonsense- to play nice in white work places- and can only imagine their exhaustion.
I feel this whiteness in a way I never have and I’m horrified. As though I’ve fully awakened from a spell that made me live as if this water was made for everyone. It’s not.
This awakening was and is a process that I want ALL white people to be responsible for. To believe in white superiority, to attach to whiteness is one of the biggest lies ever believed. It will crush those who don’t realize this. And so be it because the water is changing.
To my children, I wish I had understood sooner. It was thoughtlessly out of touch of me to be blind to this part of you. I fell in love with a black man. I wanted a family. I believe in the divine within us and most of your upbringing I ignored your experience as also a human being in brown skin, barely swimming in this water, but mostly isolated and struggling not to drown in it.
No apology can erase the impact of this. And I’m not here to give false hopes and promises in a nation still deeply young and divided, struggling to know itself. But I do see you and hold the space for all of you and all of your experiences more than I ever have, and it is my deepest desire that this water nourishes, supports and allows for splashing, deep dives and takes you to wherever you want to go.
We are caught by our locked-in social patterns, and by our cultural and religious norms. We are proud to exhibit these behaviors because it puts us on record, that we follow these cultural norms, and that we identify with them, and thus, we are entitled to belong.
Lesson to William Wordsworth’s, (1770-1850), lament:
The world is too much with us; late and soon, Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers: Little we see in Nature that is ours; We have given ours hearts away, a sordid boon! The Sea that bares her bosom to the moon ; The winds that will be howling at all hours, And are up-gathered now like the sleeping flowers; For this, for everything, we are out of tune; It moves us not.—Great God! I’d rather be A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn; So might I, standing on the pleasant lea, Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn; Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea; Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.
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My dad once wrote, inside my Shel Silverstein’s book, A Light in the Attic:
Poems are the purest expression of ourselves. Always be true to yourself and make your life a great, living poem.
This has been a challenging few weeks for me. There have been many shifts and changes. As I find myself in the space between here and there, when one way of being has ended and before a new way begins, I resist the urge to create from a space of urgency and distract from discomfort. Instead I remind myself to be curious, open, and to listen and lean in to what is before me, even if it only feels like empty space and nothing new is here for me.
This morning, I did not stew in my bed with my unhealthy thoughts. Instead I did two things: I yelled at my Higher Self (something I have never done) and said: WHERE ARE YOU? YOU SEE ME STRUGGLING! WHY AREN’T YOU HELPING ME? DON’T JUST SIT THERE AND WATCH ME SQUIRM! and then I went on a walk. As I made my way on the path, my Higher Self said: Listen. And I did. What I heard is below. The opening to my Higher Self begins with this trickle of water:
I have played athletic games and have coached some of them for seventeen years. In fact, at age 62 I still played handball at a competitive level. The games in which I have participated have and continued to help shape my life. It isn’t surprising that these deeply, ingrained, athletic experiences make up a vital part of the foundation of my present life. It follows also, that when I reflect on my life specifically, and life in general, I find corresponding qualities of athletic contests and the expression of life, coinciding. For instance, all athletic games basically limit the field of play, set rules and conduct to be followed, set time limits for the contest, and over all, the format of human life seems closely to correspond to those above conditions of athletic play.
I believed for a long time that this athletic game analogy with life was an unique perspective. The only game analogy reference I had ever come across was when my athletic coaches pointed out correspondences between the operations of life and the operations of athletic contests, but such reference was usually concerned with attaining specific goals within the game. The uniqueness of this perspective, however dissolved when I came across a Sanskrit word, “lida” during my studies. In the Hindu Puranes, the creator of the our world, it says, created several primordial worlds which perished as soon as they came into existence. This trail and error creation process, is shown as a sport, an amusement for the creative gods. Its seems that the idea of sport, according to the ancient sages of India, appears at the genesis of our home world.
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These two women are my grandmothers: Lillian & Esther. Born one day apart from each other. Lillian of German-Swedish descent. Esther a full blooded fiery Italian whom we grandchildren called Bom. Lillian I called Pal.
I spent the most time with my Pal. She loved me. I knew it. Others in my life were more questionable. We played Uno on her gold sofa. She took me shopping at Donaldsons and we ate at Bakers Square. Her favorite pies were lemon meringue and pecan. I’d often go up to her apartment and watch the Wheel of Fortune with her while she “picked her chin” (now I do it). She made me laugh. She always had a $20 bill for me. She died when I was 21.
Bom I knew less about. I know more about what her from what family has told me. She had to grow up too soon and raise her siblings when her mother died. She had dreams of her own that were put aside. And then she had her own family. And she was angry, and sometimes abusive- I know for sure to my father. She died when I was 14. It was the first time I saw my dad cry.
I know these two women had a deep inner life that I know nothing about. This is a sadness for me, a loss. I also know, like me, they did damage to their children- my parents. I also know these two women did absolutely no damage to me. They both provided comfort and security when I could find it no place else.
Happy Birthday Pal & Bom. You both continue to live in and through me. Thank you.