Friday, October 9, 2015

Bouncing Hurt

"Anger, blame, and avoidance are the ego's bouncers"

I am trying to get some bouncers off my payroll. I hired them 100 years ago, or so it seems, to take care of those pesky emotional hurts. But these three, anger, blame and avoidance still feel like they must police my emotional life. They are working less hours now that I am more mature but I certainly am acquainted with their tactics.

   I married young and had five wonderful children in a decade. Being immature, I had to grow up with my kids. When I became emotionally over-wrought I turned to anger and blame to take care of the issues. This made me feel guilty and small and fueled the emotions I couldn't integrate.
   Doing the dishes became a big issue in my home. As the kids got older, I wanted them to share in this constant task. I couldn't fully understand why I had to nag so much. I behaved badly. They behaved badly. I rumbled over this problem for a decade. It resolved in a surprising way. You can read about it here. It resolved through prayer and humility. Having children provided a school in humility. Why did it take me so long to turn to prayer as a solution? And, I'm not out of school, yet.

  "Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answers to thy prayers."

 I am joining Kate Motaung and others who are writing every day in October. My intention is to record my reactions and feelings about Brené Brown's newest book, "Rising Strong". You can find the other posts I have written here.               

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Chandeliering Our Emotions

"One of the outcomes of attempting to ignore emotional pain is chandeliering. We think we have packed the hurt so far down that it can't possibly resurface, yet all of a sudden, a seemingly innocuous comment sends us into a rage or sparks a crying fit."

    My father had volatile emotions. It was hard to predict when he might "hit the ceiling". Now, this is a man I love and brought so much good into my life. I credit him with my need to create because he taught that to me. I am not bashing him but explaining a truth which set me in a direction which I still travel today. When his anger would send him up to "hit the chandelier", we all ducked for cover. I learned to please and avoid all contention. I was the apple of his eye until I countered him for the first time when I was eight. I wanted to be baptized into the church but he wanted me to be his Sunday buddy. Not believing in an organized church, there was always tension, covert and overt, between my parents. I joined her side and lost my most favored status, or so I thought. Today I still struggle with the need to please. It makes me do the hustle, which is a term I will explain in more detail in a upcoming post. I have always hustled for worthiness because I wanted to keep the climate in my home steady. Somehow I thought I could control that. Dr. Brown explains that, "chandeliering leads to eggshell environments- fear based settings where everyone is on edge."
   If we are the ones chandeliering, the way to wholeheartedness is through unpacking the hurts. It means rumbling with pain.
  If we are consistently on the receiving end of these outbursts the pathway to whole-heartness is not different. It still means unpacking the hurts and rumbling with pain. It means coming to understand why someone we love acts the way they do. It means accepting that we are not to blame for their reactions only our own response.
     "Living, growing up, working, or worshipping on eggshells creates huge cracks in our sense of safety and self-worth."

     "A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger."
Proverbs 15:1

  I am joining Kate Motaung and others who are writing every day in October. My intention is to record my reactions and feelings about Brené Brown's newest book, "Rising Strong". You can find the other posts I have written here.               

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

What Is Going On With My Emotions?

       Yesterday, while picking up my granddaughter, I witnesses a blatant show of emotions. Two teenage brothers came out of the building together agitated. Even though I was across the parking lot I could see the anger on their faces. Suddenly, one attacked the other, ramming himself into the stomach of his opponent. A fight ensued for what seemed minutes.  It shocked me to see their raw emotions. As they became aware of the scene they were making they pulled themselves apart. I wondered if this moment would be resolved or piled onto an existing resentment list.
         Were you raised in a family that allowed emotions? Did your family have skills to integrate their emotions into words? I know I was not. I was born after World War II and after my family had survived becoming refugees and fleeing their homeland. A whole lifetime of emotions were lived through by my Dad and Mom and three older brothers. They have stories of fear and deprivation that I totally missed out on. I was curious, but there were locked emotional doors.

"We don't know enough and/or we aren't sufficiently aware of the power of our emotions and how they are connected to our thoughts and behaviors, so we fail to get curious."

    In the following posts I want to write about these five barriers to dealing with emotions. I have confronted them all either in myself or in others.

" Pretending not to be hurt is choosing to become imprisoned by the dark emotion we have experienced-recognizing and feeling our way through the emotion is choosing freedom."

     There is nothing wrong with having emotions. I find solace in the story of Jesus coming to Mary and Martha at the death of Lazurus. Don't you find it remarkable that he weeps with Martha just before he raises her brother from the tomb? Why waste all that emotional energy? Being wholehearted means feeling. A God that weeps seems unfathomable to a human but could we trust a God who doesn't know the deepest despair?

    I am joining Kate Motaung and others who are writing every day in October. My intention is to record my reactions and feelings about Brené Brown's newest book, "Rising Strong". You can find the other posts I have written here.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A Funny Stormy First Draft

"Creating is the act of paying attention to our own experiences and connecting the dots so we can learn more about ourselves and the world around us."

     I became more interested in a creative life while taking an online class from Brené Brown entitled, "The Gifts of Imperfection. "Dr. Brown's research indicated that the wholehearted group had some creative outlet. They danced, played music, wrote. knitted, sewed, painted, not as professionals but as partakers of creation. I leaned towards art. I started out with art journaling and then took classes in intuitive art. I was hooked. Here is an amusing stormy first draft concerning my sharing as an artist. 


                               I am an artist not an artist

  1. My emotions and feelings concerning this story
              "Let's do it again!" inspiration said. "Let's enter another painting in the community art show."
I'm sure I shall surely fail if I do it again. But, it was so fun and interesting.
    On opening night at the gallery I made my husband take me. I wanted to back down and stay home but my painting was there, alone, with many more inspired offerings. She (the painting) needed me to claim her and stand before her.

     2. The reactions my body is having
           My body started revving faster as I entered the gallery. The light was blinding and distorted. My painting was not in the first room. I looked without seeing, scanning instead of comprehending. When I came around the wall I saw her (my painting) but I felt I could not approach. I was breathing shallow breaths. I wanted to stay and I wanted to go.

     3The thoughts that keep going around and around my head
        I am a fraud. I draw like a child. No one will like it. I am embarrassed. She (my painting) is inspired. Someone will surely buy her. She is amazing. She is horrible.

    4. The beliefs I have regarding myself
     I am not an artist. But I want to use my creativity. I want to play with paint and papers and ink. I want to improve. I did not pay the price of an art filled life. Art is self- indulgence.  This hobby is not going to last.
    5. The actions I have taken  and want to take in regard to my story
          I went back to the gallery the next day. There was only one person there, a gallery volunteer. I carefully looked at each entry, I saw them not as a competitors but as a scared artists just like me. I quickly took a phone photo of my painting while the gallery volunteer wasn't looking. Finally, I spoke to him, "This one is mine. She is entitled "My Home." He smiled. I smiled.
    "Let's do it again", inspiration said.

I am joining Kate Motaung and others who are writing every day in October. My intention is to record my reactions and feelings about Brené Brown's newest book, "Rising Strong". You can find the other posts I have written here.

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Stormy First Draft

    Whenever I feel mad, hurt, disappointed, or feel like I'm a failure a story starts in my head. It is normal to rehearse our stories. We all do it. Finding meaning in an emotional experience is human. But when emotions drag us down it is wise to become curious about our story.
   I think of Jonah, in the Old Testament, who seemed overcome with negativity when he was commanded to preach in Ninevah. So strong were his feelings that he ran the other way.

Jonah 1:3 "But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord, and went down to Joppa;"
Ninevah was an evil city filled with Godless people and Jonah was mad that God would ask him to teach there. He was even madder when they repented and God chose to save them from destruction.

Jonah 4:1 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry.

  Jonah had a story in his head which did not include the mercy of God, only the justice. He rumbled with God and the story ends with the fateful words:

Jonah 4:10 Then said the Lord, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night:
    And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?

The end leaves me wondering if Jonah will come to the question, "Why should God save me?" His emotions and fears clouded his judgement.

   One way through  emotions is to write. Dr. Brené Brown suggests writing a stormy first draft from the point of view of our five-year old self.

"Curiosity is a (s---)-starter, but that's okay. Sometimes we have to rumble with a story to find the truth."

   Our five-year old is dramatic and "over the top" self involved. But, she is going to reveal herself in a more honest way than the controlled sixty-year old. I have a few stormy first drafts tucked into my art journal. I wrote them on really nice paper but don't be deceived, they are unedited emotional spewing.
  Here are some things my first draft includes:
  1. My emotions and feelings concerning this story
  2. The reactions my body is having
  3. The thoughts that keep going around and around my head
  4. The beliefs I have regarding myself
  5. The actions I have taken  and want to take in regard to my story
   Drafting a story with all our petty anger and resentment can bring us deeper into the rumble. I had a humorous rumble this weekend which I will share tomorrow.

  I am joining Kate Motaung and others who are writing every day in October. My intention is to record my reactions and feelings about Brené Brown's newest book, "Rising Strong". You can find the other posts I have written here.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Stories We Tell

"One of the truisms of wholehearted living is you either walk into your story and own your truth or you live outside your story, hustling for worthiness." 

    As human beings we all want to be the hero of our story. I like to think I did the right thing at the right time and if even for a moment I catch a glimpse of the truth, that I have betrayed myself somewhere along the way, my mind finds justification for the failure. Why, just last week, I was forced to see a truth. Gasp! I wrote about it in my FMF post entitled, "Doubt". It is a small example, but it came during a time when I was open to owning the truth that there are things that I just don't care to deal with. Cleaning out my cupboard so that things can be functional is really low on the "to do" list. So I stuff containers in any crevice and shut the door quick. I fool myself into believing that my cupboard is fine until…..a flying tea tin hits the kitchen floor. And you know, if the tea tin hadn't realeased when my husband opened the door I would have been fine. But, he saw my failing. I could not stay the hero in that story.

"Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing we'll ever do".

   The cupboard story is a perfect parable. If I truly want to be wholehearted I am going to need to clean my cupboards, otherwise I'll be dancing the "hustle". Do you know the hustle? It is that two step you do when you can't do or say what you really mean because you want to be liked more than you want to be honest. I have done a good amount of hustling since I was a little girl. I was the baby and the only girl in my family. My brothers say I was spoiled and I agree but in that spoiling I learned to please. Pleasing others was good because it allowed me to get what I needed. It also tied my heart into compartments. Jesus calls that double mindedness and it creates instability, emotionally, and physically. On my journey to wholeheartedness I will need to stop hustling and be more willing to own my story. More on stories tomorrow. Today is the Sabbath and a day for listening.

     I am joining Kate Motaung and others who are writing every day in October. My intention is to record my reactions and feelings about Brené Brown's newest book, "Rising Strong". You can find the other posts I have written here.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Three R's

How did I get here?
This is not where I intended to be.
Please, let me return to where the road divided.
I can't see forward,
I can't see back.
This is a Reckoning.

You were not being fair.
I was trying my best.
They changed the rules.
I was so scared.
You were so mean.
It just isn't my fault.
I didn't know.
I couldn't see.
I didn't understand.
This is a Rumble.

I see your pain.
I caused your pain. 
Just because you couldn't love me doesn't mean I'm unloveable.
I can't go back but I'm willing to go forward.
I need your forgiveness.
I need to forgive myself.
I need to change.
This is a Revolution.

Rising Strong can be described in three acts, the reckoning, the rumble, and the revolution. Let me use the story of Mary and Martha as an example.

Luke 10:8 "Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.

39 And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.

40 But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.

41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:

42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall never be taken away from her."

This seems like a reckoning moment to me. Martha let resentment push her to seek first the attention of Jesus and then to ask him to intercede. I imagine the story she was rehearsing in her mind was very strong. In her story she was justified. But, then Jesus lovingly called her to task. Adjust your priorities, Martha. Here she comes to a fork in the road. Her relationship with the savior depends on how she chooses to respond. A rumble begins now. It can last a few moments or go on for months or even years. Some time later we have this account.

John 11:19 And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.

20 Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house.

21 Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.

22 But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.

23 Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.

Has her rumbling with the story inside of her come to a revolution, a turning of her heart? She runs out to him. She is not disengaged. Speaking candidly she points out to Jesus that he should have come sooner but, she knows he has power to set things right. She has a testimony that he can do God's will. In a verse earlier John records, "Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazurus."
I like to think that his love encouraged her heart to revolve and change.

John 12:1 "Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. 2 There they made him supper; and Martha served."

Perhaps she successfully made it through the three acts of her story with integrity and grace. I think she did. I have had many reckonings and have rumbled with my emotions for months. Some of my stories have reached a revolution. I'd like to share some of them this month but only the ones I have resolved. Brené shares some doosies in her book. I love her stories because they are true to my own struggles. We all have reckonings and we all rumble with them. I have hope that we can write some new endings, endings where we are able to rise strong.

I am joining Kate Motaung and others who are writing every day in October. My intention is to record my reactions and feelings about Brené Brown's newest book, "Rising Strong". You can find the other posts I have written here.