Tag Archives: family

Let Hurt Do A New Work In You

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You may have heard the saying “Hurting people hurt people” and all too often it turns out to be true. There is an astronomical amount of hurt people in this world. People have endured trauma that would make most people shake their heads in disbelief, they have experienced hurts of all severities, and been victims of all types of abuse. You may not experience it firsthand or see it for yourself, but you witness it through the news and practically all forms of social media. A play-by-play of all the atrocities in the world are recounted on a moment-to-moment basis thanks to all the platforms in which people have to share them. It’s no wonder our society is breaking off into tiny little islands! People have become islands. Detached. Defensive. Self-involved. Cold. What you don’t experience you make up for by proxy.

Hurt for people can be what constant friction is to calluses…. it can create tougher and tougher barriers. If it had been you… if you had been the abused, neglected, taken advantage of… would it not be hard for you to believe in the beauty of humanity when all you’ve seen is ugliness? Of course it would! “Hurting people hurt people” can be true but does it necessarily have to be? Sometimes I believe clichés are created by people who need them to have something to make not taking personal responsibility sound deep… and 9 times out of 10 they succeed in convincing others to buy into it. This is what gives words the power to become a movement.

I’ve been hurt. Presently, in the past, and tomorrow I may get hurt… who knows! This is life. Everday we walk out the door and decide to face people we take the risk of getting hurt by someone. If you chose to allow your treatment of others to depend on the way you are treated, there would be the potential to treat people like crap EVERYDAY. You would never lack in reasons to be shitty to be people. That’s the truth! Just because you are hurt doesn’t mean you HAVE to hurt people, it doesn’t mean you have the RIGHT to hurt people, and it doesn’t mean you CAN’T HELP that you hurt people. You have another choice:

Let hurt do a new work in you.

Heartache hurts, but it also has a way of making you soft if you allow it to. Hurt helps you to identify with the hurt of others… and the more we identify with others the less likely we’ll be so quick to judge them.

Let hurt create in you a softer person. Let the hurt you’ve endured soften the way you see perfect strangers… your Dad… your co-worker… your Sister. Let hurt soften your words when you don’t understand. Let hurt soften the way you touch. Let hurt soften the way you walk into someone’s life. Choose to seek healing instead of hardening.

If someone can make “Hurting people hurt people” a truth to many, then it is not impossible for me to create a new more hopeful truth.

“Healing people heal people.”

That’s my truth.

May it become yours as well.

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The Woman. The Source.

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As woman, we go through multiple various changes and shifts within our lifetime. The momentum of these changes only seem to pick up speed as we get older. We can end up wearing many different hats. One woman can be a mother, a wife, a daughter, a grandmother, a grand-daughter, a friend,  a girlfriend, an employee, head of the PTA, President of the HOA, sunday school teacher, bill payer, prayer partner, grocery shopper, boo boo kisser, task master, cook, lover, book club host, and seamstress [Insert hair pulling here]. Most often we don’t have the luxury of wearing these hats one at a time, but instead we end up stacking one on top of the other until our minds start to feel like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Our hearts are in the right place, but we are after all only 1 person. It is a constant balancing act. Yet enmeshed in all of these different identities lies The Woman. You remember her, right? She’s that part of you that was there long before life placed all these other demands on you. She was there long before those beautiful little energy drainers… and that one big 6 foot-bearded energy drainer too!  Have you forgotten what she looks like?

I am a mother to no one, and I am no longer a wife to anyone either. I don’t have to be to understand the constant divide that we as woman feel on a daily basis. We give, and give, and give some more until there’s just a little left of us. We silently do a little happy dance, feeling like we’ve won a small victory by having a sliver of us left over at the end of the day. That is, until something is needed of us… which happens more often than not… and we look at that sliver, shrug, and think “Well it was nice while it lasted” as we give it away to whomever needs it. This is the cycle we get caught up in day in and day out. Living from sliver to sliver.

Now, I want you to lean in real close because I want to let you in on a little secret. Listen closely and pay attention because I don’t want you to miss this…. Living from sliver to sliver is not sustainable. Let me say that one more time, just to make sure ya’ll heard me… LIVING FROM SLIVER TO SLIVER IS NOT SUSTAINABLE. It’s similar to trying to sustain on barely any food! You may be able to live like that for a while, but your body needs nourishment. Without nourishment it will die. Your person… The Woman… needs nourishment. She cannot survive on sliver to sliver. She will die without the nourishment that only you can giver her. If you don’t know where I’m coming from, you will eventually. Every women will at some point be face to face with The Woman that she either loved or neglected. Maybe that moment will come when your kids become grown, and are out of the house, and no longer need you to parent them as you once did. Maybe that moment will come when you are faced with divorce, and you no longer know who you are if you aren’t a wife. Maybe that moment will sneak up on you when you least except it… when you love your life… that is, until you don’t. You look around at a life that looks seemingly rich, and yet you feel so empty inside. You begin to think “There’s got to be more than this”.

There is something I often say to women I come in contact with that are struggling to keep all their hats balanced, and it’s “We as women have to stay interested in ourselves. We give so much away. We have to be purposeful in replenishing the well that we draw from”. It’s true. I know it’s true because along my journey to personal bliss, it was something that I had to actively teach myself. I had to teach myself to purposefully nurture and love The Woman… because it’s from her that all those other identities spring from. It’s our femininity that makes us qualified to be able to be all those other things! When I say “Femininity” I’m not talking about the 60s stay-at-home mom types, that were all “Yes dear. No dear”. I’m speaking to our hearts. The way we love. The way we can heal someone’s brokenness with our touch. Those things that just come naturally to us. God bless the men in our lives, but being able to split our nature up into different categories and yet have all of them working for us almost simultaneously, is truly a gift that I feel has been given especially to women. It’s our talent and our gift to the world around us.

In all the giving, be careful not to smother out the source of all that magic… The Woman. She needs you too.

Growing Into Your Own Voice

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Up until the last few years, I had spent most of my life being fearful of my own thoughts and opinions about life. I lived in fear of challenging the things that I had been taught and how I had been raised. I lived in fear of questioning the demands that others placed on me. I lived in fear of asking myself what motivated me. Bottom line, I didn’t know who I was apart from the people, places, and things that surrounded me.

It never occurred to me that I didn’t know who I was until after an ex-boyfriend and I broke up… Or more accurately put, WHEN OUR BREAKUP ALMOST BROKE ME . I had spent years of my life picturing my future with him, immersed in who I was with him, focused on who I was to him. Our relationship… him… they became my identity… and I didn’t even know it until it all crumbled. Our relationship. Our love. They were what my essence was made of. When it fell apart, so did I.

It took me a long time to shake myself out of that “Breakup funk”. You know what funk I’m talking about! That feeling where nothing tastes, sounds, feels, or looks the same anymore. Life feels overcast with grief. A never ending all encompassing grief! Well it sure did feel like it would never end when I was in the midst of it! It did end though. Eventually. THANKFULLY. However, let me tell you that before it ended, it actually just changed form. It went from grief over the loss of love, to it morphing into grief over the loss of my identity. As uncomfortable as it was to go through, this is actually where the magic started. It finally sank in that I hadn’t yet formed my own thoughts on important life issues. I did however do A LOT of listening! I listened to my friends, I listened to my church, I listened to my family, I listened to the men in my life… all of which are wonderfully beautiful things in and of themselves! Yet here I was, always taking in the messages that other people were telling me, without ever taking the time to find out if they were truly ideals that were right for ME. That’s when I took a deep breath and asked myself the one question I had been ignoring my whole life “What does Andrea have to say about all this?”.

Before I continue, I want to preface my next statements with a little disclaimer: I am by no means saying that taking advice, or listening to other people’s opinions is in any way negative. I am not anti-church/anti-family, etc.. Quite the contrary! I believe that there is wisdom in diversifying your point of view and perspective, and having a foundation to build your identity on. There is just too much wisdom in the world to ever be able to say that you “Know it all”! However I do believe that if you don’t allow yourself the opportunity to discover who you are, what you feel, or what you think, that all of the different voices in the world can cause more harm than good. If we are too little informed, we can become ignorant. If we are over-informed we can because easily distractable, not allowing ourselves to be tethered to anything. Our goal should be to find a balance between the two. Feeling confident in what you know and believe, with the understanding that you don’t know it all.  Okay, moving on.

“How did you even begin the process of finding your own voice?” you ask? What I will share with you are summaries of the things I learned through my personal journey. Here are 5 things I’ve discovered that have helped me find my voice:

1. Lonliness can often be misguided discontentment. How many times have some of us felt lonely, decided to go out and surround ourselves with other people, just to end up feeling alone WITH other people? Bars are full of lonely people. You can feel lonely anywhere and with anyone… and feeling that way WITH other people just draws more attention to how lonely you really feel. Distraction doesn’t address why we’re lonely. By refusing to give into the urge to distract myself, I was forced me to confront the reason why I felt so lonely… and the source of the loneliness typically had to with feeling a lack of purpose in life, feeling disconnected from God, feeling inadequate at work, etc.. None of which was going to be solved on a dance floor, while strangers spilled their drinks on me.

2. Listen to that “Something” within you. I’ve said it to myself so many times… “I don’t know, but something tells me not to go there.” Maybe you’ve said once or twice “I don’t know what it is, but something tells me not to trust that person.” Regardless of what it is that it’s pertaining to, it always comes back to that “Something”. People have a lot of different names for it… Intuition, a gut feeling, a hunch, vibes, the Holy Spirit… whichever resonates with you. I believe that no matter what religion, spiritual belief, race, gender, or sexual orientation, there are basic human experiences that we all have in common. That “Something” is one of them. That nudge you feel comes from a place that you don’t understand with your head… that’s because it doesn’t originating from head knowledge. It coming from a source deeper than thought or your 5 senses, but it is still a part of you. Honoring it means you honor yourself. The more you honor yourself, the more self-respect you build, and the more you respect yourself the more you trust that what you have to say matters.

3. Say “No” for a bigger “Yes”. This one was THE HARDEST thing for me to get down! There was a point in my life where I hardly ever said “No” because I wanted to be the person that everyone knew they could rely on. I thrived on hearing “Andrea can do it!” I thought it spoke to other’s trust in my gifts and talents! Here’s the thing though. What I came to realize  is that many times people volunteered me or asked me to do things based not on my my abilities, but on my availability. There was a job to do and I constantly made myself available to do it. I was a shoe-in. Though they were thankful for my willingness, what it came down to is that they knew I wouldn’t say “No.” Once I learned this I began taking inventory of everything I was doing and realized that very few things were something I was actually passionate about… or even, dare I say, good at. So I began stepping down from things and saying “No.” This wasn’t easy for me and it ruffled some feathers, but it was time for me to say “No” so that I would have the  time and energy for the “Yes” that I truly desired.

4.  Don’t be afraid to reinforce your boundaries. In my post titled Trust Your Boundaries I talk about how important it is to know what your personal boundaries are, and to not let others talk you out of them based on if they make them feel comfortable or not. Reinforce your boundaries by living a life that supports them, cultivating relationships with people who respect them, and notifying someone when they have crossed them. Boundaries don’t restrict you. They actually set you free to live life on purpose… instead of out of obligation, fear, or ignorance.

5. Figure it out! Don’t know what you think or feel about certain topics? Read. Meditate. Discuss. Investigate. Pray. Figure. It. Out. Be an active participant in your self-discovery. Do something! Actively seek out your voice. Don’t think that you’ll be watching Netflix one day and magically while eating Cheetos you are going to have this epiphany about what it is you really think about life! You have to want it… and everyone knows that the more we work for something the more valuable it is. If you want to find your voice you have to look for it, cultivate it, trust it, and reinforce it.

What makes you afraid of your own voice? What ideas, stigmas, or habits get in the way of you knowing WHO YOU ARE?

Yours Truly, Andrea

Trust Your Boundaries

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Over the past couple years my boundaries and I have become VERY close! We’ve weathered through the turbulent love/hate relationship phase and are now in the “I could never live without you!” phase. The years prior to this recent love affair were… well… rough to say the least.

I had always felt a tremendous amount of guilt when trying to place boundaries. Especially when it came to my romantic relationships or family. This was due to a mix of  abandonment issues I had that stemmed from my Dad and because of messages from past romantic relationships that I had internalized. I allowed abandonment issues to tell me that if a man is interested, that it’s better to just keep his interest at any cost. I told myself that it was better to do that than to risk being alone and possibly losing the ONLY man that will ever want me. Man, it’s crazy to think that I actually believed that!! How sad, right?! What’s even sadder is that there are so many people out there that live and breath this lie everyday. I bet many of you reading this can attest to that as well.

So many of us have heard messages that say that if we place boundaries that means we aren’t truly capable of loving someone else. What ends up happening is that we come up with the conclusion that we can’t have boundaries AND love… that we have to choose one or the other, while losing one or the other. Well guess what ends up getting pitched? Yep, you guessed it. Our boundaries. Psh…

Do you find yourself giving your personal power away over and over again? Have you made a habit of giving others the power to dictate to you your boundaries based on if they made them feel comfortable or not? How many times have we let someone use the word “Love” as a weapon to weaken our defenses, instead of using it as the healing balm that it should be? In my personal experience it was because of my strong desire for love that I would often put my boundaries on the back burner… the truth was that I loved them too much. I loved them at the expense of loving myself.
        
I’m currently at a place in my life where I’m taking a close look at my priorities and taking inventory of all that I have going on in my life. I’m looking at what needs to stay, what needs to go, and what needs to change. When things come up where I’m tempted to trade what is truly important to me for companionship, love, or attention, I remember how far my relationship with my boundaries has come. I’ve wasted too much time internalizing someone’s need to validate themselves, while invalidating myself. I have come to see that love and boundaries go hand in hand. Setting a boundary doesn’t always mean that it’s because of something someone else is doing. It could be something YOU’RE doing that just doesn’t sit right with you, and you know it can’t play an active role in your life anymore. Boundaries don’t even point to something being “wrong” or “right” but maybe something just isn’t “right for you.” Setting a boundary says “To love you better I must love myself first. If something is going on that is threatening my sense of self-love, then it also threatens the love I give to you as well. I love us both too much to see that happen”.

Boundaries don’t keep you bound or restricted. They actually set you free to love with abandonment, because you are no long bound to something or someone by fear of loss. Our fears are like weeds in our soul… they choke out all the beauty that’s trying to flourish. The beauty of love begins with you…

Yours Truly, Andrea

Mind over MADDER

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Today’s too-cool-for-school thinking says that we should always be an open book. That we should never hide what we’re thinking or how we’re feeling. That honesty is always the best policy, and that hurting someone with the truth is always better than hurting them with a lie. In the spirit of honesty, let’s be honest… That’s not 100% true, now is it? We should NOT be an open book all the time, especially when there are emotional robbers waiting to do a breaking and entering act on our heart. Honesty is always the best policy in theory, but some people are hurt by you saying anything about them that was unsolicited. Sometimes you just can’t win!

I like to pride myself on being a mindful communicator. I aim to be precise in what I want to say, and on understanding that the key to being a great communicator is to be a great listener. Most of the time this has worked out well for me, however there are rough patches I encounter from time to time. These communication mishaps occur and leave me feeling dazed as to what happened. It totally throws me off my game! People end up totally misunderstanding me, even though at the time they confirmed that we were on the same page. People misinterpret my intent even when I clearly tell them my objective. There are even times when I walk away thinking that I had a super productive conversation with someone, to later on have them accuse me of a bunch of nonsense that leaves me feeling bewildered! *BIG EXHALE* It’s so hard to tell yourself “These things happen” WHILE THEY ARE HAPPENING!

The reality of life is that these things DO happen. In fact, I believe that they even happen with a purpose! You will end up blinding yourself to that purpose if you stay stuck in frustration, or feeling mad about misunderstandings. Move out of madness into mindfulness and try to look at the situation with compassion… mind over MADDER! View yourself and your emotions with curiosity! View the other party with curiosity!  Curiosity turns the mundane into art… and art is unique from piece to piece… just like people. You do that, and that maddening situation may turn into a learning experience… leading you to a bliss that keeps on giving.

Yours truly,
Andrea