Tag Archive: Forgiveness


 

As children we believe that we are the center of everything, that is why children who experience the trauma of problems in the family, such as marital discord and divorce, often blame themselves for it. It is just part and parcel of childhood development, It is even worse when parents appear to blame us by behavior that seems to be rejecting of us. Of course there are times when that is perception and there are times when the rejection is real. But do we know the motives behind these behaviors? Not always, because once again we think it is about us, not them.

Grief

Grief (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The problems in my family were not about marital discord, but something that shook the very foundations of the entire family, the death of my brother. This is perhaps the most traumatic thing that can happen to parents, and it often results in divorce. In my parents’ case, they supported each other, which was good, but that does not mean that the family dynamics were not dramatically affected.

It has taken me a long time to put the pieces together and realize how much of my parents’ behavior towards me was a result of this. Some of the details I only found out about as an adult. My therapist also helped me to understand this better as well. I am now in a position where I am able to finally put myself in their place, rather than letting my wounded inner child carry the whole narrative. Perhaps I should have seen this earlier, I am now 50 years old, but better late than never.

From my earliest recollections, I never felt loved. My mother was critical and rejecting of me and my father was distant. I never bonded with either of them. There are many reasons for this dynamic, but one of the big ones was the accidental death of my older brother at age six. I was only a year and a half old when this happened and my sister was four,

Looking at family pictures is very telling. My sister for instance looked very happy and care-free before this happened. Afterwards I can see the birth of the very serious sister that I knew growing up.

I don’t remember my brother, yet oddly enough I miss him. A piece of the family went missing and never came back. I am told that he adored me, and would crawl along behind me on the floor and call me “baby-doll.”

The trauma didn’t actually start with his death, although that was the climax of it. He was always a sickly child. Born prematurely, he had a defect in his stomach valve that caused him to have serious fits of vomiting, where he became dehydrated enough to require medical attention. Insurance laws on pre-existing conditions back then made it extremely difficult for him to get the surgery he needed to correct the problem. Family pictures show him as a happy child, but pale and skinny. He looked similar to pictures I have seen of children with cancer.

Eventually he did have the surgery, but it did not fix the problem. During another one of his vomiting episodes my mother took him to the doctor. His regular doctor was out of the office, but another one was covering for him. My parents at that time had no idea that he was not a pediatrician. He gave my brother a shot of compazine for the nausea and sent him home.

The following details I only got from my father after my mother passed. I never knew the exact details of my brother’s death but they are horrifying.

In the afternoon my mother got a call from the doctor. He told her that he thought she should take my brother to the hospital. But my brother had stopped vomiting so she assured him that everything was fine. She just thought the doctor was acting out of an abundance of caution.

That night my brother died in his sleep. An autopsy showed that he had fluid in his lungs. The medical examiner believed that he aspirated vomit.

My father was very suspicious about the whole thing and went to see the pediatrician. Having not treated my brother himself he looked in the medical record. He did not have much to say to my father, but he left the record with my dad before leaving and asked for him to take it to the front desk. My father believes this was intentional, that the doctor wanted him to see what was in there. My father took note of what drug he was given and the dosage. When he looked it up he discovered that the doctor had given him the ADULT dose of the drug!

And the most horrible part of the whole thing is that obviously the doctor at some point realized what he had done, which is why he made the strange call to my mother. But he was too chicken to tell the truth so he could get help!

The way compazine works to stop vomiting is to reduce the gag reflex but it also reduces the choking reflex as well. In an appropriate dose that is not a problem. But in the dose that my brother was given it completely eliminated it. My mother gave him water before putting him to bed. That water went straight into his lungs, explaining the autopsy results.

My mother blamed herself for not taking him to the hospital. She felt that she had put finances before my brother’s well-being because my father had just gotten a new job and they did not have insurance yet. Of course it was never her fault but that did not stop her from feeling guilty.

My father put the blame where it belonged and went to a lawyer but at that time the doctors were the ones who had all the powerful lawyers so it would have been almost impossible to win the case. Furthermore my father had no money to pursue this. And it was not going to bring my brother back anyway.

So here was my grief stricken mother who was trying to hold it all together and still take care of two young children, one just a baby. No wonder I felt rejected, she simply couldn’t deal with it all. My sister was probably old enough to be sensitive to the situation and try not to be a bother. Even before my brother died though, my mother most likely was having some trouble taking care of me because my brother was sick all the time.

Things were very bad for my father as well. In fact I can’t even imagine how he had the strength to keep going. He had to take time off from his new job to take care of funeral arrangements. And his boss bullied him over it. And not just him, but my father’s co-workers as well. My father has told me that they actually made sick jokes about my brother’s death. And he also told me something that shocked me even more than that. He said that this is the kind of bullying that makes people want to kill themselves. Then he said “But suicide would not have solved anything.”

Even as I write this down I am fighting back tears. My poor, poor brave father! No one should ever have to go through that!

He actually stayed at the job because they needed the money. So day after day he had to keep going. He was fired eventually, and this same boss blacklisted him, so he could not get another job. But my father got lucky on one count. He talked to someone who knew this boss and it turns out this guy had something scandalous on him, and told my father not to worry, that he would take care of the situation. The blacklisting stopped.

After putting this all together how can I not have empathy for what both of them went through? I would not have been able to endure that.

I now know that it wasn’t about me. The rejection I felt was from two people who were struggling to keep their heads above water. And they made it. They loved my sister and I enough to keep going.

God bless them both.

 

 

 

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I went into therapy so I could learn to do my own laundry.

English: Wall post with love in different lang...

English: Wall post with love in different languages. Taken in Las Vegas. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Of course it wasn’t just that, but it really was part of it. My mother did everything for us kids. In addition to doing the laundry, she washed our hair for us even into our teenage years and neither my sister nor I learned how to cook because she always chased us out of the kitchen. I was told that I might burn myself.

I guess my sister and I were both lucky that she trusted us with washing the dishes!

One day when I was sixteen I decided I wanted to do my own laundry and asked my mother to show me how to do it. Her reaction was to scream at me and call me “selfish.”

As  with so much of my mother’s behavior, I found that inexplicable and hurtful. I had stored hurt in my heart from my earliest childhood memories. The biggest problem in our family was lack of good communication skills and I was never allowed to speak up for myself and ask my mother to explain her behavior. If there is only one piece of advice I can give to parents, it is to keep the lines of communication open with your children, as it will keep misunderstandings from turning into estrangement.

And that was all this was, a stupid misunderstanding on top of other stupid misunderstandings that at least in part contributed to my first suicidal breakdown at age 16. My thought processes were of course skewed and magnified by my bipolar disorder, but the fact that I had never felt loved by my mother and that I did not feel like I was a good person was the driving force behind it.

My parents got me into therapy, which helped some. The therapist counseled us separately. It certainly helped loosen my mother’s controlling grip on me and after the first appointment with my mother she never called me “spoiled” again. That was her favorite epithet for me.

But the therapist made a big mistake. He never counseled us together. What I needed was not just for my mother to back off, I needed closure. I needed to know why she was so angry with me. Being used to not being able to speak up for myself, I never asked that crucial question from my therapist. He was the authority figure and he ran the show.

The closest he ever came to explaining my mother’s behavior was to say “Your mother loves you but all you feel is her fear.”

The problem was is that it wasn’t fear that I felt from my mother, it was rage and hatred. The statement confused the hell out of me. Again I did not speak up and ask him what he meant by that. If I had he most likely would have told me what I know now, anger is a secondary emotion. It is a cover for hurt and/or fear.

Both emotions were at play in my mother’s behavior.

She did not have a mental illness, I am quite certain of that by comparing my behavior with bipolar disorder with hers. However that does not mean that she wasn’t royally messed up, like 99% of mankind.

It is only at the age of 50 that I have finally gotten a glimpse into my mother’s world with the help of the best therapist I ever had. Unfortunately he has left the county mental health facility that I go to for another job, but I am eternally grateful for what he has given me. I hope someday he may go into private practice and then maybe I can arrange to see him again.

What he told me makes perfect sense. The only way she felt competent as a mother was to do things for us, and when I asked her to show me how to do my laundry what she heard was this: “Mom, I don’t think you are doing a good job, so I want to do it myself. I don’t appreciate anything you do for me.”

Of course that wasn’t what I meant. I was just trying to assert my independence which is normal and healthy. While other kids were doing that by getting into sex and drugs, I just wanted some extra responsibility.

This helps explain many other things she said and did, such as saying to me that she wished she were “like other mothers, who don’t take care of their kids.” Perhaps I was being a bit of a brat, I complained that she was pulling my hair while combing it. After she said that she went to take a bath, and I was so devastated because I thought she meant that she didn’t love me or want me around. That statement seemed to confirm my worst fears. I wanted to walk out of the house and never come back, but I had nowhere to go. I was only 14. Inexplicably, after her bath she was smiling and relaxed, while I was still hurting from the worst thing she had ever said to me.

She passed on in 1997, and I never got to resolve things with her. But I think I finally understand. My therapist referred to the book, The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. I have not read it yet but he did give me a good run down on it. Literally people have different languages or rather ways of doing things to demonstrate their love for others. It seems that we all have a preferred style. Her language was to take care of us. What I needed was a completely foreign language for her, to praise me and tell me that I was a good daughter. I could not speak her language and she could not speak mine.

I think this is a great lesson for any kind of relationship. We always assume that others know what it is that we need from them and they think the same thing about us. Then we think the other is deliberately withholding what we need from them and vise-versa.

My therapist also explained that she likely had a limited repertoire to draw from. He feels that she felt incompetent as a mother and so this was all she knew how to do.

The fact is of course that if my mother had not loved me she would not have gotten me therapy when I needed it. But to me our relationship was a confused mess of contradictions. She would say the most horrible things to me and then in the next breath say, “I love you.” I couldn’t process it.

I wish she were around so I could ask her about these things, but I am certain that this is the truth. She wasn’t a bad mother, she was a confused mother.

I hope I have given people some food for thought. There are other things about my mother’s behavior that my insightful therapist has helped me with and I will share those in future posts,

Another great article from Tiny Buddha and Bill Lee, whose article from Om Times I posted recently. This is more than a simple instruction on mindfulness, but also a story his profound struggle with mental illness and learning to manage his symptoms of bipolar disorder and PTSD.  Even more than that it is a inspirational story of survival and triumph over the odds.

Calm Your Mind Without Sitting to Meditate

Hiking

“Our way to practice is one step at a time, one breath at a time.” ~Shunryu Suzuki

Sitting meditation has always been challenging for me; practicing mindfulness, even harder.

As a self-confessed worrywart who has contended with constant ruminations, flashbacks, and nightmares for most of my life (more on this later), all prior attempts at being fully present and not thinking merely served as reminders of how little control I had over my mind. Then I took up hiking and stumbled upon a form of meditation that literally transformed my life.

Initially, just being out in nature on scenic trails cultivated calmness and cleared my head. Almost immediately, I realized that hiking provided a respite from intrusive thoughts that have plagued me since I was a tyke.

They include flashbacks of my mother’s numerous suicide attempts in our decrepit Chinatown apartment, my father’s drunken rages, and recurring images of shootings, savage beatings, and other gory crime scenes from my gangbanging days.

Ruminations include the sound of gunfire along with the replaying in my head of toxic utterances in Cantonese that translate to “Giving birth to you was my biggest mistake,” “I wish you were never born,” and my own father yelling “You bastard!”

Somehow, walking in nature enabled my mind to slow down and rest, which felt liberating.

Unfortunately, the novelty soon wore out. Merely walking and hiking wasn’t enough to prevent symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress from returning. I reverted to rehashing the past and worrying obsessively about the future.

However, I had gotten a taste of the benefits of mindfulness meditation and discovered that it can be practiced while engaging in an activity I enjoyed. These revelations motivated me to keep at it.

After reading what was available on walking meditation, which typically advise focusing on the flow of our “in” and “out” breaths, I developed my own techniques for practicing mindful walking and hiking.

My favorite is to look ahead and select a destination point or object and stay focused on it. It can be a shadow on the ground, boulder, bush, tree, manhole cover, light pole, store awning, mailbox, and so on. Once I reached it, I chose another landmark or object, usually a little further away.

Rough or uneven trails forced me to concentrate on each step for safety reasons. My brain automatically blocked out discursive thoughts; otherwise I could slip, trip, or fall. Other techniques I came up with include fully feeling the ground of each step, following the flight pattern of birds and insects, observing cloud patterns, and being conscious of sounds and scents—moment to moment.

Zen monk Thich Nhat Hanh, often called “Thay,” which means “teacher” in Vietnamese, is revered throughout the world for his teachings and writings on mindfulness and peace.

He has brought the practice into institutions, including maximum-security prisons, helping inmates attain calmness and inner peace while being confined up to twenty-four hours daily. Many of them have professed that mindfulness meditation is the most difficult endeavor they have ever engaged in.

We live in a culture where many of us want quick results with as little effort as possible. This applies to how we approach our work, health, pastimes, social interactions, and problems. This mindset is the antithesis of mindfulness.

In my opinion, it is virtually impossible to tackle mindfulness meditation without patience and discipline. Fortunately, these attributes can be enhanced by engaging in the art itself.

When I started mindful walking and hiking, my ability to stay present was measured in feet and seconds.

As a highly competitive, emotionally undisciplined, and impatient person, I could have easily succumbed to my frustrations and given up. But the short periods of calmness and inner peace I attained—supplemented by my stubbornness—provided the necessary resolve for me to stick with the program.

As I continued my mindfulness “training,” catching my mind when it wandered occurred sooner, and the ability to refocus took less effort. Using kind, positive messages such as “rest” and “focus” was more effective than phrases such as “don’t wander” and “don’t think.”

Insight and mindfulness meditation are usually practiced separately. Personally, when I am procrastinating about something or seeking a solution to a problem, ideas and answers usually emerge effortlessly during or immediately following my walks and hikes.

These epiphanies and aha moments tend to be inspired by kindness and compassion, as opposed to ego.

I was severely beaten by a rival gang member as a teen. For over forty years, I suffered nightmares, flashbacks, and ruminations of the attack. Both conventional and unconventional modalities of therapy failed to provide much relief.

One morning, I was enjoying a relaxing hike when the familiar image of my attacker suddenly appeared. For the very first time, I remained calm and found myself viewing my lifelong enemy as a kindred spirit. I saw him as someone like me, most likely abused as a child, who desperately sought empowerment by joining gangs.

This awakening, along with my spiritual practice, enabled me to cultivate compassion and forgiveness. The nightmares and flashes of the attack ceased at that point and have not returned.

Mindfulness can be practiced pretty much anywhere and at any time. I do it first thing in the morning when I wake up while still lying in bed, in the kitchen, in the shower, at my desk, and most recently while getting dental work done.

Whether I devote a few seconds by pausing and taking a deep belly breath—or hiking for several hours—benefits are reaped.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, practicing mindfulness has transformed my life. With a family history of mental illness and a violent upbringing, I have been diagnosed and treated for multiple mood disorders, including manic depression, post-traumatic stress, addiction, and rage.

My mindfulness practice has empowered me to rest and calm my mind, as well as intercept and suppress negative thoughts. It serves as a powerful coping mechanism for me.

For the majority of my life, I was at the mercy of gambling urges and other cravings. When I encounter them now, I pause, acknowledge what is happening, take a few deep breaths, focus on my surroundings, and allow the urges to pass.

Staying relaxed enables me to respond instead of react, which places me in a better position to reflect and gain insight into the underlying issues that triggered the desire to self-medicate.

My mood is much more stable and I have better control of my emotions. The benefits I received from mindful walking and hiking has inspired me to practice it throughout the day.

I used to loathe driving because of my road rage. I was terrified of myself, often wondering when I left the house if I would end up in jail or the morgue. My level of stress rose in proportion to the amount of traffic I encountered.

Practicing mindfulness meditation in the car keeps me mellow as well as alert. I have become a patient and compassionate driver, smiling at other motorists and limiting use of the horn for safety purposes. Another insight I gained is that my past aggressive behavior on and off the road attracted like-minded people.

The mental discipline I gained also enabled me to embrace Buddhism, which has interested, yet eluded me for many years. All of this empowers me to attain and maintain equanimity. Now, I can even sit and meditate for long periods without feeling restless or irritable.

So for those who find sitting meditation challenging, or for individuals seeking different ways to practice mindfulness, I recommend mindful walking and hiking.

Not only is it a fun way to quiet the mind while getting some exercise, but it can be life-changing—helping us let go of worries, stress, tension, and even the most painful memories from the past.

Hiking man image via Shutterstock

Avatar of Bill Lee

About Bill Lee

Bill Lee is a second-generation Chinese American who grew up in the Chinese underworld. He is the author of three memoirs. In his new book, Born-Again Buddhist: My Path to Living Mindfully and Compassionately with Mood Disorders, he describes in detail the positive impact that mindful walking and hiking has made in his life. Visit facebook.com/Bill.Lee.author.

See original article here.

Please visit Tiny Buddha for more inspiring stories!

See my reblog of Bill Lee’s article Living Mindfully With Mood Disorders.

 

July 31st was my birthday. The Big Five-O. Yikes!

Like most people I am not eager to grow old, especially when physically I feel like I am turning 90 not 50 due to fibromyalgia. I spent a lonely birthday because I had to cancel plans with some friends because I was not up to going out.

It was lonelier still because I am once again on the outs with my sister and her family. It isn’t all her fault, but I apologized for my behavior while she did not. After wooing me back last year by apologizing for an incident where she threw me out of her house without even telling me what she was upset about, she then decided to take that apology back. How does that even make sense? She told me that she realized that it was just a simple misunderstanding.  Now she says it was because I yelled at her, which is not true in the least. While I do tend to have a hot temper, I very purposely stayed calm because my nephew was there. It goes to show that even when I do everything that I am asked to do, it is never good enough.

No that last statement is wrong. I AM NEVER GOOD ENOUGH.  At least according to her and her husband.

My therapist has spent a good deal of time trying to convince me that just because I make mistakes does not mean that I AM A MISTAKE.

I am a smart lady. I know that. At least intellectually. But the problem is that my emotions tell me different.

It isn’t just my bipolar disorder that is the problem. It comes from a lifetime of being told what a screw-up I am. And certainly I HAVE screwed up many things. I am grown-up enough to admit that.

But rejection and lack of forgiveness sends me into a tailspin. I question my self-worth because I depend on others to tell me that I am okay.

It is ironic that I go to the one person who is not able to tell me that, for whatever reason. Because I confuse her with mommy. Because in many ways, she is just like my mother was. But even my mother eventually changed her attitude towards me, although to be honest I was too immature at the time to see that. She is passed on now, and I regret that.

My sister was told that she was better than me by our mother. There was hardly a day that went by where she did not say to me “Why can’t you be like your sister?” The question baffled me. I was ME, how could I be HER?

My mother was unrealistic. My sister was three years older than me so in terms of maturity I was never going to catch up. The other problem was that everybody thought I was a great kid, except for my mother. My teachers loved me and I got A’s most of the time. I never got in trouble at school, not even once

To my mother I was the worst kid in the world, and although I certainly did deserve punishment from time to time, it was excessive.

Oddly enough considering our rocky relationship, my sister is in fact the only one in the family who acknowledges that that our mother played favorites. She in fact needed no pressure from me at all to admit that. In fact she has told me that she feels bad about that.

My sister was not great to me as a kid, but I don’t blame her. This was a dynamic set up by our mother.  But ironically my sister treats me even worse as an adult. Because on some level, she still believes that she is better than me.

I was never good enough. When I was young, I played with my sister’s Barbie doll and broke it. I was too young to realize that Barbie’s legs could not splay apart to sit on a model horse.

My mother declared that I would not get a Barbie of my own until I learned to take care of my toys. Ironically I was not in the habit of breaking any toys, whether they were my sister’s or mine. I did bathe in the bathtub a cloth doll that had a crying mechanism, and she never cried again. But everyone laughed that one off.

That Barbie doll became a symbol of my mother’s approval and I waited year after year for it. I never got it.

Lest people think that she did not know how much I wanted it, she did after many years of waiting buy me a knock-off doll called “Tricky Micky”.  She was “tricky” all right. She was held together by rubber bands on the inside. She broke.

Granted I am sure my mother did not know how cheaply made this doll was, but she never bothered to buy me a better doll.

It was a not so subtle message: “You will never be good enough for the real thing.”

This sounds so trivial compared to stories of horrific physical abuse that many children have gone through and yet I have heard from many that they preferred the physical abuse to the emotional abuse. And this, along with the other constant verbal put downs I got from my mother, qualifies.  The message was that even the most trivial of mistakes can never be forgiven.

I AM A MISTAKE. Not that I make mistakes that can be forgiven.

As an adult people have suggested that I buy myself a Barbie doll now. I have resisted because I am not a child anymore so what would I do with a toy?

But this year I remembered that there are Barbies that are not made for play. Collector’s dolls. So I half-heartedly went on-line to look. WOW! There are literally HUNDREDS of dolls ranging from around $20 to hundreds of dollars. And they are beautiful!

So I bought one for myself. To tell myself that no matter how much I screw up, IT DOES NOT MEAN THAT I AM UNFORGIVABLE AND WORTHLESS BEYOND REPAIR. It also does not mean that my mistakes are somehow any worse than other people’s mistakes.

I haven’t murdered anyone. I have never stolen anything. That does not mean that I am proud of everything I have done, but quite frankly my sister is far from being a saint and at times has done some pretty crappy things herself. SHE IS NOT BETTER THAN ME.

Forgive me for the long rant. But I need from time to time to hear myself say that I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR EVERYONE’S PROBLEMS!

I was not responsible for my mother’s problems. She did not have a mental illness but that does not mean she didn’t have problems. I used to think it was just me because she only got mad at me, no one else. Actually she probably was mad at a lot of people, but took it out on me.

So I bought my Irish Princess Barbie doll and I have it sitting right in front of me to remind me that I am okay. I make mistakes but I can be forgiven and if no one gives that to me then I can give it to myself.  And my inner child adores her.

Wanna see???? Do you?? Huh??Huh??

Here you go!!!

 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

Magical Merry Go Round

Magical Merry Go Round (Photo credit: Floyd’s Noise)

There are times in a family relationship when it can’t be maintained anymore. But I feel that it is still my fault, because to be honest, part of it is. But apologies mean nothing unless I totally capitulate to her point of view, that basically I am a horrible person and therefore my position on anything is totally invalid. Because, you know, that “bipolar thing.”

She refuses to acknowledge that I have genuine concerns in this “relationship” Quotes because it really fell apart years ago. There is no relationship, unless it is totally on her terms.

I started the argument. So lots of guilt right there. But after a reluctant look at myself I realized that I was wrong and apologized. But not until after I got blindsided with a whole bunch of rules I should follow, based on grievances that I had no way of knowing about others that I thought had been resolved.

Like the fact that she openly agreed to an arrangement we had and every single time I asked her about it she assured me that she was fine with it. But she wasn’t and so she has a lot of anger about it and so one of her “rules” was that I should not expect that from her and that I apparently should have known that. What is wrong with her just saying “No” in the first place? I would have been fine with that. This has been an ongoing pattern in our relationship, but she will not take responsibility for it. I actually feel completely set-up by her. I go along thinking everything is fine until I get dumped on. And she completely mangled my motives for having this arrangement. I have gotten dumped on by both her and her husband for many years about how selfish and thoughtless I am (which it true that I can be that way, but not most of the time as they claim) but here I bend over backwards to make sure that everything is okay by asking her repeatedly if it was. I did not pressure her in any way.

Then I got a lot of verbal vomit about a situation that I thought we had resolved. She even accused me of things that I had not done. A while back she threw me out of her house over a minor misunderstanding. When I saw she was upset I kept calm and asked her what the problem was. I asked repeatedly but she thought I knew so she did not answer. She just threw me out with no explanation.

Now her version of this is that I yelled at her and that is why she threw me out. So therefore one of her “rules” is that she has the right to throw me out if I yell at her, Well I would agree that she has that right, but I resent the accusation because I took great pains not to yell at her. In fact I was completely and totally stunned.

After months of not talking she reached out to me and she even seemed to reluctantly acknowledge my point of view that the problem had been miscommunication on both our parts. Which is something I told her at the time.

Doesn’t that sound like an apology of sorts?

But now it appears that she still thinks it is my fault and it is not just about my supposed yelling incident but about everything.

I sent an e-mail to her saying that I am willing to abide by rules but that I did not appreciate the nastiness. Then I had a few rules of my own. That went over like a lead balloon!

You see she wants a relationship with me only on her terms. In fact she gave me a condescending figurative “pat on the head” by saying I sounded too upset, implying of course that my feelings were not worth listening to because “obviously” it has to do with my having bipolar disorder. So essentially only she has the right to be angry and make ridiculous accusations, but I am not allowed to respond. Ever.

She has taken a page from our upbringing. The only people who were allowed to have feelings were mom and dad. Actually my father was not hands-on so it was mostly my mother. I can only think of a few times where I expressed a feeling, only to be shot down. I went numb inside. At least until I had a nervous breakdown at sixteen.

Sometimes I wish I could go back to that numb state. But I digress.

My mother would often take a minor incident (such as my talking at the wrong time) and turn it into an “attack” on her. She would cry and ask me why I wanted to hurt her. At the time she started doing that I was so young that I actually thought I had wanted to hurt her somehow, even if I didn’t feel it. Because mommy was “always right.” Then one day it dawned on me that I did not have that motive so while I was grounded in my room after the lecture I started crying hysterically. My mother came to check on me and while crying I told her that I did not want to hurt her. She simply said that I was feeling sorry for myself and left.

Now I have forgiven her, but I am simply looking at the dynamics of what went on between us. And to be honest, I have treated people the same way in my illness. I am actually glad that I never had children, because I think I would have been a horrible mother.

So how much am I at fault for what happened between my sister and I? I did start the original argument but I did apologize. But it isn’t just me that is the problem and she refuses to take any responsibility for her actions.

Supposedly she is the “normal” person in the family. but she definitely has issues. Big issues. She is a very angry person, but in her mind I am the only one with an anger problem.

We exchanged a few e-mails but the last time she said she was cutting off contact. I told her that when she was ready to be honest with herself and take responsibility for her actions then I would be here. I don’t know if she read it but if she did I doubt that went over well either. But I am tired of this and I don’t really care anymore.

I have a choice. I can blame myself for the whole thing (which I have certainly done in the past) and become depressed and destructive to myself. I can blame her for everything wrong in our relationship (which I have done also). Or I can simply let her go like I have done in the past. She simply can’t be what I want her to be. Ever.

I could apologize until the cows come home and not only would that not work, but I would be giving away my power. She wants to be in complete control of the relationship. I don’t consider one person being in control as even fitting the definition of a “relationship”

I am exhausted from this and I simply can’t do this anymore.

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Peace cannot be kept by force;
it can only be achieved by understanding.

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I get a newsletter from The Happiness Club. They have support groups all over the U.S and in other countries to help them learn ways of changing their thoughts and behavior. I found a good story here from one of the clubs about changing your perceptions of frustrating situations. She describes a small change in perception that can add up to big results if we practice it:

Shared Thoughts To Keep Us All On The Happy Track.

Sharing an e-mail received from Elisa, an individual that attended a Happiness Club meeting in Fairfield.

Thursday, January 23rd’s meeting presentation: “Creating a Brilliant 2014 for ourselves,” was terrific. It was exactly what I needed to hear.

I believe Lionel made it clear that night that we are responsible for our own happiness and that truly the thoughts we think (although they seem so automatic, natural and 100% “correct”) are under our control and can lead to happiness….or not. We just have to overcome our conditioning and habitual way of responding!

Here is one result: this morning getting onto the Merritt Parkway, I had a tailgater on me. So I naturally slowed to a crawl (lol). But then I started thinking that this woman didn’t get up with the intention of ruining my day (as we discussed last night)….I started thinking of other reasons why she was tailing me …things like maybe her son got hurt and she was rushing to the hospital, maybe she got up late and was going to miss her train.

Suddenly, my thoughts changed from grumbling to trying to figure out how I could help her! How could I help her get to her son? How could I help her catch her train? I got out of her way in a loving manner and with godspeed.

The lesson here: all these reasons I ascribed to her for her behavior were just thoughts in my head. The grumbling thoughts made me feel angry and seek revenge (Yes, I know this is hysterical). The compassionate thoughts made me want to help her. So this day, which thoughts will I choose?

I don’t think my change in perspective as described in the tail gating incident would have occurred if I wasn’t in the meeting last night. So again – thank you. Elisa

This newsletter is packed with inspiration so I would encourage you to read the whole thing. You can subscribe to it here

In addition to positive articles on their website, they also have a media section that is worth checking out.

I have a confession to make. I usually don’t find time to read inspirational stuff. Then I wonder why I feel so bad and negative. Duh! I am making a resolution to read at least one inspiring thing a day! I hope you will join me!  Happy Thoughts! 😉

Joel Osteen You may think there is a lot wrong...

Joel Osteen You may think there is a lot wrong with you, but there is also a lot right with you (Photo credit: symphony of love)

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The answer is yes according to bestselling author of A Return to Love, and numerous other books, Marianne Williamson. She is probably the best example of how to practice the principles of A Course in Miracles, a type of self-help spiritual psychotherapy aimed at changing our perceptions of the world. I am finding that I am much more emotionally balanced by practicing the Course. She has also just announced that she is running for Congress. See video interviews A Vision of Possibility and A New Paradigm for Politics.

It sounds like she is taking her own best advice:

“Our Deepest Fear…”

More lovely quotes:

It's not just what we do, but also who we are ...

It’s not just what we do, but also who we are that transforms the world (Photo credit: symphony of love)

Next time youre about to judge someone, attemp...

Next time youre about to judge someone, attempt to understand them instead (Photo credit: symphony of love)

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Galaxy Cluster Abell 520 (NASA, Chandra, Hubbl...

Galaxy Cluster Abell 520 (NASA, Chandra, Hubble, 03/07/12) (Photo credit: NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center)

Hi ya’ll! I don’t know about you but I have trouble letting go of the past. I have found this article on www.beliefnet.com to be very helpful.

 8 Reasons to Let Go of the Past

posted byAlex Blackwell

“Letting go gives us freedom and freedom is the only condition for happiness.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Letting go of the past might be one of the hardest things you do. It’s hard to do because the need to hold on is rooted in fear.

The thought of not having control over your circumstances – past, present or future – can be terrifying. Even when the warning signs are clear, you continue to think that if you try harder to do everything right; and hold on as tightly as you can, then you will have what you want.

But, by dwelling in the past where these mistakes live, you don’t see the beauty of the present moment.

Letting go makes you stronger and more peaceful. It allows you to focus on what you need to do to live in the here and now. In addition to strengthening your faith, there are some other important life-changing reasons to let go of the past and embrace the beauty of the present moment – the miracle of today.

1. Never alone again

When you surrender your life, you are asking God to be an active part of it. Even though He is always there, it is your acknowledgment of the relationship that makes it real and tangible.

2. You might just find what you are seeking

If what you are doing is not yielding desired results, try surrendering it. You might find what you have been looking for has been hiding in plain sight all along.

3. Certainty of purpose

When you surrender you are telling God that you want to live the life He has in mind for you. Although you may not know exactly what that life looks like when surrendering, you can be certain it is a life created just for you. Your purpose will be clearer when the clutter is removed.

4. Deeper appreciation of the ordinary moments

Your determination to get whatever you think you need could gloss over the life that is unfolding right around you. Surrender offers freedom, not defeat. Letting go frees you to see the special gifts that are already a part of your life.

5. Live a want to life, not a have to life.

Letting go gives you the ability to live a life you want to live; not a life you have to live. Your want to life can be full of joy and fulfillment because it is better connected to your heart’s desire.

6. Learning from the experience

Full surrendering takes practice. To gain experience, try surrendering small things, first. You can start by surrendering some bad habits like biting your fingernails, having one drink too many or constant engagement with your Smartphone.

7. Trade shame for grace

Asking for grace can be difficult. You may have learned from an early age that you are not worthy of love or compassion. You may have allowed shame to cover you until it has built up such a presence you begin to think it is a natural part of you. Letting go of shame allows grace to be restored to your conscious mind.

8. Finding peace

There is no right way to let go. Faith isn’t tangible and it really isn’t measureable. Faith catches you when you are open to change. A leap of faith happens when you let go and allow your plan to unfold. It may feel like chaos at first, but soon a soothing peace will begin to swell when your inner voice tells you that you are going in the right direction.

About Alex Blackwell

Alex Blackwell is a father, husband and writer. He writes about inspiring things at The BridgeMaker.

Read more: http://blog.beliefnet.com/everydayinspiration/2013/07/8-reasons-to-let-go-of-the-past.html#ixzz2Ya42mVW2

Non-Attachment

Non-Attachment (Photo credit: Chicago Man)

While growing up I learned at a very young age to not expect much from people and from life in general.  It was too painful to look forward to something and have it be taken away.  It wasn’t that I was totally deprived, however my mother often verbally abused me and she gave me the message that I was undeserving. One of her punishments was that I was never allowed to have a Barbie doll because when I was very little I accidentally broke my sister’s Barbie doll. I didn’t know that Barbie couldn’t move in certain ways and so I tried to make her straddle a model horse. Of course her legs broke off. Even though my mother knew what had happened, she assumed that I had broken the doll on purpose. She declared that I would not get a Barbie until I learned how to take care of toys. Ironically I had always taken good care of my toys.

This may sound like I am being a little whiney about something that small, but for me as a kid getting this doll was really important because it represented my mother’s forgiveness.  So it was a big deal to me. Year after year I waited and despite my taking very good care of my toys my mother refused to budge. She finally bought me a Barbie knock-off which was literally held together by rubber bands. So despite the fact that I did take good care of it, it broke very quickly. My mother did not buy me another doll.

So the message I got from my mother was that I did not deserve the kind of love and forgiveness that my sister had. Growing up I extended that feeling to the rest of the world. I didn’t make friends easily because I figured that they would hate me because I was such a horrible person. As an adult I was afraid to try new things on the job because of the fear of being judged. This resulted in me being in an entry-level job that I hated for twelve years. Dating was a bust because even in my one long-term relationship, I still didn’t feel worthy.

My approach for much of my life has simply been not expecting anything and then being surprised when I do get something. That actually sounds a bit spiritual since it resembles the words of the Buddha who taught equanimity and non-attachment to all things, both bad and good. But it is in fact very, very different from what the Buddha meant by non-attachment.

It is different because it is fear-based, It is based on the fear of disappointment and the fear that I am undeserving. Furthermore feeling undeserving is a guarantee that I will chase anything good out of my life.  So this is not non-attachment. It is an attachment to an emotion, fear. It is also an attachment to guilt, the feeling that I deserve to be punished.

Simply put, it is an attachment to a negative result.

True non-attachment is based on the fact of the non-permanence of reality-things change. Therefore enjoy the good, but know it won’t last forever. Endure the bad because it will not last forever, either. And don’t see every apparent bad thing as necessarily being bad because you never know, it might actually have a good-long term result.

In my next post I am going to explore the relationship between non-attachment and the Law of Attraction.