Category Archives: Good relationships

Trust is better than an orgasm. A blog post on taking risks in relationships…Part 2.

Yes, I said, “orgasm” out loud. I’m a Christian, not a prude.

Last week I wrote on why taking risks was a necessary part of relationships. As I wrote that post, it became evident that there was a second part of relationship risk taking that had to do with choosing who we take that risk with. I think this part really, really counts when calculating risk.

Let’s face it, in most cases our initial attraction to someone else is usually a physical one. We find that other person cute, or funny, or smart, or whatever, but we feel something inside. We feel a rush of excitement, perhaps a little breathless. The urge to find a way to talk to that person becomes tantamount. According to Wikipedia it looks something like this:

That crazy feeling called “love”…

All of these nifty little chemicals on the right side of this diagram give us mostly happy feelings. Nowadays, it’s pretty commonplace to follow our urges to their logical conclusion- a sexual encounter. The chemicals involved in that transaction also introduce a flood of chemicals that make use feel good.

Duh.

However, I think these happiness-inducing chemicals muddy our logic and our ability to think clearly. At the beginning, when we look at that other person we feel those same rush of sensations. And we feel happy. Eventually, those sweeping, romantic feelings, that rush of excitement subside to a degree. Then we are left wondering about this person we are with. Why do they do what they do? Why are they so (insert your word of choice here)? Then we are stuck between a rock and a hard place (sorry, no pun intended), we like how they make us feel, but do we LIKE them?

Relationships are complicated, messy affairs that require an inordinate amount of work to be successful. Trust, communication, compromise, negotiation, kindness, gentleness, are a few of things that make a relationship work. These things take time to build. You have to actually LIKE someone in order to start this process. Call me puritanical if you want to, but I think that starting a relationship based on sex shortcuts the process of getting to know someone, and really liking them for who they are.

In my humble, and unscientific, opinion using logic and thinking clearly are two key elements in choosing someone as a mate. Sure, it’s not as romantic (and fun) as all of the sweep-me-off-my-feet sensations, but I think it’s more important to make wise choices than to be swept off my feet by someone that I’ve just met. And here’s why: the risk of being hurt is higher when I base my desire to be with someone on a physical sensation. That feeling eventually rings hollow.

In my experience, you can be physically attracted to someone, and not even like them. And, if you don’t like someone how can you develop feelings of trust toward them? How can you even communicate clearly with the best interest of your relationship if you don’t feel it’s worth it to try? I mean, really, HOW can you? I don’t think you can. I know I couldn’t. I was physically attracted to my first husband, had sex, got pregnant, then married him. All bad decisions. He was the worst possible kind of person for me. We weren’t even close to being compatible. Yet, because of the sex, I convinced myself he was right for me. I convinced myself that we were “in love” (looking back now I would say we were “in lust”). Then I married him. And, he hurt me in a variety ways, the ultimate hurt being divorce.

I propose that people should take the time to get to know someone BEFORE they get in bed with that someone. I think that people should spend time getting to know that person’s character in a variety of settings. After you have spent some time doing that, then you can make clear, logical choices while calculating the risk of entering into a serious relationship with that person.

Even after you’ve done all of this, you CAN still be hurt. But, I think it less likely to happen because you know this person’s character. You know how they make decisions and why. You know their problems. You know why they are with you. You know if they like you. You know if they are going to stick it out, even when things are rocky. You’ve decided to be with that person based on their character and qualities. A relationship based on trust, is far better than a relationship based on sex. Which, to me, is more important than an orgasm.

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If you read this part, why don’t you leave me a note and let me know you were here? I love it when people say, “Hi!”

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Don’t clam up. A blog post on taking risks in relationships…Part 1.

Author’s note: As I write this blog, I am finding that there is really two parts to this topic: taking risks in relationships in general, and the process of choosing a person with whom to take a risk.  In the interest of not writing a REALLY long post on both parts, I am going to break this into two parts.

A dear, sweet friend of mine, whom I have known since childhood, has been hurt quite a bit lately by relationships.  As a result of her pain, this appeared on her Facebook page:

While can appreciate the reason for the sentiment, I’m not sure I agree with the idea behind it.

I got married at the age of 20, mostly because I was pregnant and I needed the father’s health insurance to cover the related health care costs.  We had convinced ourselves that we loved each other and that we could make marriage work despite the true reason for marrying.  Little did I know that that marriage would end in disaster.  While I was no angel in this marriage and contributed to the failure of our marriage, I felt I was treated horribly, including, but not limited to, adultery on his part at least once, probably twice. Then, I was left, and divorced, by the person who had pledged to stick with me through thick and thin.

Relationships are risky.   The potential for being hurt, or hurting another, is huge.  People often present the best of themselves at the beginning, then the worst of themselves comes out as time goes on.  Often, the worst of ourselves, and the other person clash, causing chaos in our relationships.  Unless the chaos is effectively worked through or controlled, the result is generally a split (or a divorce if one is married).  It has to be said than in some cases, there is no hope for the relationship, no matter how much work goes into the relationship.  Splitting up with someone you committed  yourself to can cause intense emotional pain.  This pain is akin to having a limb ripped from your body, even if the other person was horrible.  The suffering can go on for years afterwards.   Self-doubt can creep in.  Fear of being hurt again becomes the new paradigm.  Any potential future relationships are affected by past hurts. One can be come overly-cautious in their attempt to try out this new relationship while avoiding true risk.  Which makes the new relationship more likely to fail.  Like I said, it’s risky.

When my marriage failed, I was at the beginning of the long healing journey that I have been on.  Frankly, at the time my marriage failed, I was not capable of managing the hurt associated with ripping and tearing that was going on.  I did not understand myself, nor the reasons that my marriage didn’t work.  I was single for about 7 years before my current husband decided he wanted to date me.  During that 7 years, I had to do a lot work in counseling, and with God, to overcome the terrible feelings of loss, anger, and sadness.  For 7 years, I was a single, working mother struggling to make ends meet, and trying to manage my volatile emotional state and a child who severely struggling as well.

The idea of adding a husband, and stepfather, into the equation was downright scary.  Like so many situations I observed, adding a man into my, and my son’s, life was extremely risky and likely to result in chaos.  What if my son and husband didn’t get along (they didn’t for a long time)?  What if my husband committed adultery like the first one?  What if he left me?  What if he couldn’t deal with the emotional baggage that came with marrying me (he does with a ton of grace)?  What if we just couldn’t work out our problems?  What if one of us gave up hope (I’ve been close a dozen times or more)?  What if my marriage failed?  Taking that step toward marriage again was a huge risk.  It could end in disaster like the first one.

The desire to close oneself off to the world, to potential love, to other people becomes intense after a split with someone you once loved.  Wrapping yourself up in hard shell of safety really only results in a life half lived.  Sure, you are safe from harm, but you are also safe from joy, happiness, fulfillment, and a good, lasting relationship.  This hard-shell reality affects how you react to other people, how you make decisions, how you behave in relationships.  You cannot fully commit to another person when you live your life this way, even if the person you found is the best person for  you.

The heart of the matter is that while putting yourself in a position to not “be let down” feels safe, I believe you are actually risking more than if you allow yourself to take the risk of being hurt.  I think I have made that the point that taking risks is dangerous,  BUT (with capital letters no less), I believe that taking risks is a necessary part of living life to it’s fullest.  Sure, the potential for hurt is there, but the potential for joy is there too.  The hurts described above can eventually heal, if you allow that to happen.  That’s right, you can heal from the hurt.   I would like to add an addendum to this statement: I think that one can make poor choices in partners and end up going the healing process over and over again.  If that’s what’s causing you so much pain, I would question how you choose partners.  So, we are gonna talk about that in part 2 of this post.

You are not forever tainted by your marriage’s, or relationship’s, failure.  You can rise above the associated pain and suffering.  You can place yourself in someone else’s hand again.  And, if you get hurt, you can  heal, again.  Unless you allow yourself to take that risk, you don’t know how something is going turn out.  You can live a a full life with someone by your side.  You can put your trust and hope in someone else’s hand.  Let yourself out of your shell.

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It’s your turn: do believe you can be healed from the hurt caused by failed relationships?

Don’t poke that dragon with a stick. It’ll eat you. Or will it?

Didn’t your mother teach you NOT to poke a sleeping dragon?  That you should let sleeping dragons lie?

He looks too cute to be dangerous. Right?

Or was that dogs?

He’s definitely too cute to be dangerous.

Like all reptiles, dragons are great at sleeping.  You know, being cold-blooded and all.  Sleeping is an excellent way to conserve energy.  So, as you can imagine, something as big as a dragon needs lots of sleep.  Except when they don’t.  I mean, a dragon’s got to eat sometimes, right?

In case you’re not catching on to my little metaphor, the sleeping dragons (or dogs) that I am referring to is our emotional troubles.  Stuff from the past is like a sleeping dragon.  Some of us have lots and lots of dragons sleeping together in the dog-pile technique.  Others have one or two.  Either way, I personally, and sincerely believe that sleeping dragons are dangerous.  They can wake up at and wreak havoc on our emotional state, on our relationships, and our life anytime they want to.

Dragons are smart creatures.  They like to sleep in dark corners, letting us know they’re there, but never really fully engaging us.  They’re happy there in their comfy little corner.  Because of the shadows, we can’t really see what they’re doing.  But, believe you me, they are causing trouble.

Un-dealt with emotional problems come out various forms, and we often don’t even realize it.  Mostly because our reactions are normal…to us.  THEY run your life.  THEY decide how and when you behave and interact with your environment.  Like when my husband innocently says something that sets off an angry reaction in me.  Or, when a sudden, overwhelming fear of enclosed spaces keeps me from having fun.  Or, when I sling into a deep depression for no apparent reason.  Or, when I have (yet another) bout of anxiety at the prospect of meeting new people.  All of these reactions come from somewhere.   I learned them growing up.  All of these reactions can cause me problems as an adult.  They stunt my growth.  They keep me from fully engaging in life.  They harm my relationships.  And most importantly, they keep me back from being who I was meant to be.

If you decide to take control of the situation, you WILL have to face your dragons head on.  Sure, once you poke them and wake them up they are going to growl and stomp and threaten to eat you.  They might even throw a flame or two your way.

Remember this guy?

But, here’s the thing:  YOU are in control of the dragons.  YOU are the master of THEIR fate.  It’s not the other way around.  Because as Christopher Robin told Winnie the Pooh, “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”  You hold the secret weapons that defeat the dragons.  You know their vulnerabilities.  You know where that soft spot is and can drive in your sword (or lance if you prefer).  If you do, you will truly be at peace.  You will never have to worry about what that dragon will do next.  You can get on with your life and live it to the fullest.

Pretty cool, huh?

So, I say, don’t let the sleeping dragons lie there forever.  Take up your sword, your spear, your counseling sessions and deliberately, and methodically, deal that dragon it’s death blow.

You’ll then be free from it’s grip.  Forever.

I promise.

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Your turn, which weapon do you prefer?

Laziness is like a fat cat

I knew a fat cat once.  She had a genial disposition.  She’d let you pet her and would rub her fat little body all over your clothes.  But, she could barely get around on her stubby little legs with that huge belly in the way.

Okay, maybe she didn’t have the beer and TV remote…

She was content to eat food, use her litter box, and pretty much sleep the rest of the time.  In other words, she was lazy.

lazy |ˈlāzē|adjective ( lazier , laziest )

1 unwilling to work or use energy : I’m very lazy by nature | he was too lazy to cook.

  • characterized by lack of effort or activity : lazy summer days.
  • showing a lack of effort or care : lazy writing.
  • (of a river) slow-moving.

2 (of a livestock brand) placed on its side rather than upright : a logo with a lazy E.

DERIVATIVES

  • lazily |-zəlē| adverb
  • laziness noun

ORIGIN mid 16th cent.: perhaps related to Low German lasich ‘languid, idle.’

When  you look at Fluffy here, don’t you feel kind of sorry for her?  Do you feel kind of sorry for her?  Do you feel the urge to smack her owner senseless?  Are you asking yourself, “How could she let herself get this far?”  Do you feel the urge to take charge and put her on a diet?  How about if you look at yourself?  Do you have the same feelings?

If yes, keep reading.

If no, definitely keep reading.

When dealing with our own emotional difficulties, it is easy to become fat and content on the food of our own delusions.  We can pretend that all is well.  We can tell ourselves that changing is impossible.  We can say to the world, “But I was born this way!” and get out our beer and watch some TV.

Because, avoiding the truth is easier.

Deep down inside, we know the truth.  We know that the lazy, selfish manner in which we conduct our lives is not good for ourselves, or for the world we live in.  We know that living in a place of anger isn’t good for our romantic relationship.  We know that isolating ourselves isn’t good for us.  We know that our addiction is probably killing us.  We know that depression is keeping us from engaging in life.

Changing takes work.  It takes discipline.  It takes falling-down-in-dirt-and scraping-your-hands-and-knees-then-getting-back-up-again determination.  It takes recognizing and being honest about our own failures.  It takes will and perseverance.  It takes training.

This is who I’d rather be. Wouldn’t you?

Don’t be like that fat cat, happy and content on the gluttony of your willingness to  just eat and sleep and poop.

And never do anything else.

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Tell  me, do you know any fat cats?

An essential truth on fear

If you look to the left of this post you’ll see this quote (and a bunch of other worthy quotes, I might add):

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. -Nelson Mandela

I think that this one of the essential truths of humanity.  Fear is a significant daily motivator for many, many people, whether they know it or not.  Fear can define our actions, how we respond, what decisions we make.  The thing is, if most of what we are afraid is based on evidence, some would say truth.  And, we make decisions based on that truth, even if the action we take is slightly ridiculous.  For example:

  • Truth: The subway is a potentially dangerous place.  I may get hurt.
  • Action: Therefore I will walk the 6 miles to work.
  • Truth: I may get hurt on the roller coaster.
  • Action: Do not ride the roller coaster.
  • Truth: My husband beats me.
  • Action: I will lie about my feelings.
  • Truth: My mother says things that hurt my heart.
  • Action: I will keep my distance from my mother.

See what I mean?  Each thing listed is, or may be, true.  And therefore, you do what is necessary to protect yourself, even if it means compromising yourself, your principles, and/or your morals.

I am a person who has lived her life with fear.  Fear of just about anything and everything.  Even ridiculous stuff like “I might fall on the sidewalk therefore I must vigilantly stare at where I am walking, or avoid sidewalks altogether.”  Yeah, I did that.  Here’s another example: Fear would motivate me to act like a loon around people I didn’t know very well because I was afraid of being rejected.  If forced to talk to a new person, I would babble like an idiot all red in the face in sheer embarrassment at my ungainly social behavior.  For me, the safest thing was to avoid meeting new people altogether.  This fear lent itself to tension in  my marriage because my husband is rather fond of meeting new people.  Going to birthday parties of people I didn’t know would cause me a great deal of pre-festivities anxiety.  My husband has done a pretty good job being gracious with my crazy behavior.  But, I could tell he was sad because it was so hard for me.  Because of his desire to be supportive, my behavior limited his ability to be social.

I eventually got over the worst of this kind of social anxiety.  Mostly because, over time, I came to realize the new people weren’t going to hurt (mostly).  I felt like my behavior was wrong and it needed to change.  I had to force myself to calm down and give it a try, over and over again.  I had to force myself to appear to be calm, and have a nice conversation with someone I didn’t know.  This is where Mr. Mandela’s quote comes in handy.  He is saying that it is likely you are never going to stop feeling afraid. If you want to triumph over fear, if you want to conquer fear then do the very thing you fear.  Despite the trembling and shaking and your imagination going into overtime.

To overcome the fear, you have to ask yourself if being afraid is worth the price you’ll pay for allowing yourself to behave in fear?  Is it right to let yourself be bullied by your spouse?  Is it right to NEVER experience a roller coaster ride (well, maybe)?  Is right to walk 6 miles to work, in the snow, uphill both ways because something MIGHT happen to you?  Is it right for me to never form new friendships because I am afraid of rejection?  I have to choose one or the other.  I have to choose fear, or courage.  In other words, it’s my choice.  Mine.  No one else’s choice.  I  have to choose to overcome my fear.  I have to choose to be brave, even if I don’t feel brave inside.  And it’s your choice too.  YOU CAN CHOOSE to do the thing you fear.  That’s right, you have a choice.  Making the choice is point A, doing the thing you fear is point B.  The process of getting from A to B may look messy, but it’s a good messy.

Recently, I walked into a Zumba class at my local YMCA.  I didn’t know a single person in the room.  Not a soul.  It would be easy for me to do my usual wallflower routine and stick to the back and not talk to anyone.  No one was making an attempt to approach me and say, “Hi!”  Which would normally be just fine with me.  But, I would be missing out on making new friends.  Just last week I looked at the woman next to me and introduced myself.  I CHOSE to overcome my fear.  And, as it turns out this person is very kind and warm.  She shook my hand warmly, held it tightly, and introduced herself.  I felt good inside.  And, next time I show up for this class, if she is there, I will probably get a warm, “Hello!” from her, even if she can’t remember my name.  Overcoming my fear was totally worth it.

So, here it is:  Do what you fear.  Then you will be fear’s master, not it’s slave.  You will have unchained yourself from that wall.

Eventually, you will live free.

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So tell me, what are you afraid of and what can YOU do to overcome your fear?

For when your bleeding on ground…

We were knee deep in discussion about faith (in God) in my home group yesterday and the question came up about who we could help in shoring up their faith (in God).  The usual comments about how we need each other came up (being challenged by others, needing support, and etc).  And I blurted out the idea that when we have other people in our lives, they can help to cover us in battle while we are down on the ground bleeding.  Those times will come, you know.  You WILL be down on the ground bleeding occasionally.  It’s just part of life.

Ready for the coming battle…

Imagine yourself out on the battlefield of life.  You’ve trained all your life for this.  In your mind, you are strong and brave and ready for a fight.  Then, out of nowhere, a strong and huge beast attacks from behind and  you are down.  You didn’t expect this.  Being attacked from behind seems unfair.  And, now,  you can’t do anything about it.  Now imagine, that you are alone.  You can’t fight back  because you severely injured.  The beast has every opportunity to devour you.  And he does.  Because he can.

This where having friends really comes in handy.

Now re-imagine the same scenario, only this time you have a fellow warrior by your side.  The beast attacks and you are down, bleeding on the ground.  Your friend takes notice and comes to your aid.  Like any good warrior, he/she knows just the right amount of field medicine to stop the bleeding and bandage the wound.  Your friend also has his/her weapon.  He/she can fight back against the beast and protect  you while you recover from  your wound.  Your friend has your back.  The beast can’t have you for lunch, because your friend says, “No!”  Your friend can beat back the beast because he/she has a sword and your best interest at heart.  This gives you the chance to recover and get back up to fight another day.

So, what does this look like in a practical sense?

  • Your fellow warrior/friend is someone you trust because you’ve spent enough time together to really know their character.
  • You can call them up at anytime and tell them your struggles.
  • They will bring you coffee, or take to Starbucks (or another coffee joint of your choice).
  • They will bring you dinner and a movie.
  • They will give  you the box of tissues if you need it.
  • They won’t hate you for being stupid.
  • They will encourage you to keep trying, even when it’s hard.
  • They will tell you to stop being so silly (or stupid, or dumb, or whatever).
  • They will pray for you.
  • Can  you think of other things your friends do for you?

In short, you need friends. And, so do I.  We need each other on our word to a better life.  How else will we take that hill?

Go on.  Get out there.  Find some friends!

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So tell me,  got any friends that got your back?

You can stay in your little self-imposed prison, or not.

I was going to write something further about isolation, but that has fizzled out.  Sorry for the sudden left turn, but I have to go where there is  inspiration.  I was preening my ego (hey, when you  have an audience of 1, don’t tell me you don’t need an ego boost to keep on keeping on) by reading over my previous 7 posts.

As promised, I am going to beat you with my “Tough Love” bat for just a little while.

I went back to my first post and found the term “your little self-imposed prison.”

As in, “YOU chained YOURSELF to this wall.”

As in, “You have the key to get out of there you silly person, so use it.”

As in, “It’s time to move on.”

As in, “Enough is enough.”

As in, “Your only kidding yourself that this is a good idea.”

Let me explain.

Stuff happens.  People hurt us.  We hurt people.  We learn from previous experiences to react in a certain way  to a set of circumstances that have familiar features.  For example, I have always had a tough time trusting men.  I sometimes feel threatened by men who seem to be flirting with me, especially if they are significantly older men.  I would give them dirty looks, I would feel the “fight or flight” hormones coursing through my veins, my stomach would hurt, my thoughts would swirl out of control, I would feel fear.  I learned not to trust older men because my father sexually abused me.  He could not be trusted in so many ways.  I learned to fear him because he caused me significant pain.  As a child, it is normal and natural to feel fear in these sorts of circumstances.  God  made our brains to cope with painful events in particularly helpful ways (i.e. dissociation).  But what about when I became an adult?  Was feeling fear actually helpful?  Did I need to worry about being hurt EVERY single time? Every flirting, older man does not mean to harm me.  Reacting with anger and fear every, single time this occurs is not helpful to me now.  Being cautious is good, but I don’t need to overreact.

At some point, I had a choice.   I could stay chained to this emotional response, if I wanted to.  After all, I am an adult and have the right to choose (you did know that, right?).  What are the ramifications to reacting with fear and anger in this situation? Well, let’s start with the physical:

  • Production of the feel good hormone “serotonin” is disrupted leading to depression.
  • The heart is strained and leads to heart disease
  • There is an increased risk for stroke
  • The immune system is suppressed and prone to causing an inflammatory response
  • The risk of cancer is increased
  • Gastrointestinal issues arise such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Peptic Ulcers, and Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Eating disorders can develop which leads to weight gain, anorexia, or bulimia
  • Diabetes can develop
  • Body aches can develop
  • Sleep can be disturbed
  • Normal sexual function is disrupted
  • Memory, concentration, and learning is affected
  • Alopecia, eczema, psoriasis, and other skin disorders can get worse
  • Substance abuse can develop

(Information taken from an article located at University of Maryland Medical Center’s website)

Relationally, men in my life would constantly feel challenged and uncomfortable around me.  I would not develop any normal or healthy relationships with men.  Emotionally,  I would constantly pay the price for my poor choices.  I would be in constant state of turmoil.  I would always be uptight.

Out of an intense need for self-preservation, I could choose to live my life this way.

I could choose to be chained to my little prison of fear and anger.

Or, I could choose to take my key, unlock my fetters, and walk out of there.

I could choose change.

Change in how I approach relationships with the men in my life.

Work on being calmer around men in general.

Not give dirty looks to men.

Not overreact.

Not feel an adrenaline rush every single time.

How does one do this?

  • First you start by believing that you can change.
  • Decide that change is what you want.
  • Talk to yourself about this.
  • Talk to others.
  • Talk to God (if you believe in a helping God, like me).
  • Look for resources.
  • Work at it.
  • Don’t give up.
  • Understand the truth of the situation.
  • Use your critical thinking skills.
  • Remind yourself you wanted this change…

Believe me, unchaining yourself and moving on is the best thing for you!

Okay, I’m done beating you now.  Feel better?

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Be honest, are your chained up in your own little prison?

I need you, and you need me. A post about community.

I didn’t have time to write on Friday because I was going away for a couple of days.  However, I looked to The Gypsy Mama for inspiration because she does this wonderful exercise every Friday called Five Minute Friday.  She gives us a one-word prompt, we write for 5 minutes with out editing, backtracking, or straining our brains too hard.  Her word last week was “community”.  I thought that this was an appropriate word for my theme here, particularly because community is such an essential part of overcoming anything.

Forgive me while I write for longer than 5 minutes, edit, backtrack, and strain my brain on your behalf.

People don’t live in a vacuum.  You were born to two parents (whether you lived with them or not), numerous relatives, people lived in your neighborhood, went to your schools, played in your backyard, and so on.  You were born to be around people.  You were born to a community.

Communities can be good, bad, indifferent, caring, insufferable, long-suffering, unexciting, thrilling, dangerous, safe, in any mix of characteristics.  Generally, community has some unifying characteristic that other people tend to use to describe that community.  Communities can be any size or shape.  Communities are the people with whom you spend the majority of your time.

When you are born and under your parents care, you don’t have any choices in the kind of community in which you live.  When you get older, you get to choose.   Sometimes we choose the opposite of what we lived with as a child, sometimes the same.  The right kind of community can help you flourish, too much of the wrong kind of community can stunt your emotional growth until you become a dry-husk of a person.

For myself, community has been one the most important aspects of overcoming all the crap I needed to overcome.  People around me sometimes brought things up to my line sight were I could recognize them for what they were.  Other people listened to me.  Some counseled me.  Thoughtfully chosen people prayed for me. Some told me hard truths, while other’s helped  me pick up the pieces and let me cry on their shoulders.  These people helped to shape my character into what it is today.

I  need community.

And so do you.

Think about who you spend your time with.  Are these people helpful?  Are they honest with you?  Are they nice to  you?  Do you feel good about yourself fairly regularly around your community?  Will they be there for you when  you fall down?  Think about it.  If you cannot answer yes to these questions, then perhaps it’s time to make a change.  Perhaps it’s time to seek out a more loving, nurturing, fellowship of people.

Changing from what you know to something new is difficult.  But, no one ever said that change was easy.  It’s hard.  It can feel lonely at first.  It can be scary.  It can be frustrating.  It can be…any number of things.  But, these things don’t have to be reasons not to try.  They are only temporary obstacles to go around, over, or through.

You NEED people around you to be supportive.  You NEED people to be honest with you.  You NEED help sometimes.  You NEED good community.

Go ahead, look for it.  Don’t be shy.

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Tell me about your community…

And now…a little bit about me

Everything is a process.  I am still in the process of overcoming a multitude of sins on my part and my parents part.  It is really difficult to say out loud things that might hurt other people.  So, I sit here and struggle with how much to say, and how much to reveal about myself this early in the game.  Sometimes, I even doubt myself, my story.

And then…

…well, I look back at all of the work that God has accomplished in me.  I look back at who I used to be and who I am now.  I see the differences in my personality, my thought patterns, and my way of relating to others.  And I ask myself, how can my story NOT be real?  How can I NOT share the things that MIGHT hurt other people?

I need to share for your benefit, and for mine.

I was born in 1970 to two hurting people.  My mother gave birth to me carrying her own issues.  Some of those issue were passed on.  Some of which she continued to act out for the rest of her life which ended in an accidental overdose in her early 50s.  My father I know less about, he is more of an enigma.  My parents divorced when I was about 6.  My mother remarried when I was about 9.  I really liked my stepfather, and I’m pretty sure he liked me.  I grew up confused and full of self-doubt.  My mother did a pretty good job of contributing to these two elements.  By the time I graduated from high school I really had no clue who I was, what I wanted from life, or anything else for that matter.  I sunk into my first deep depression with a touch of dissociation.  I spent the whole summer after graduating depressed, and conflicted.

I eventually got a job and met my first husband through a mutual friend.  My mother and I got into an argument, she tried to hit  me, so I left home suddenly at age 19 and moved in with my boyfriend.  Unbeknownst to  me, I was pregnant with my first son at the time.  Not long after this sudden change in my universe, I started to experience flashbacks.  I would get “stuck” in a frame of mind that was both completely foreign and completely familiar.  I had no clue what was going on.

Fortunately, I started into counseling right away.  I have been at it for 22 years.   With the help of God, and other people, I have changed.  I have been through many different kinds of counseling, individual psychotherapy, group counseling, inner  healing, deliverances, to name a few.  As a matter of fact,  I just finished yet another turn at counseling with a wonderful person.

My life has been an uphill battle.  I have struggled with Dissociative Identity Disorder (a total of 7 personalities of which are now fully integrated), sugar addiction, self-doubt, low self-esteem, flashbacks, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, panic attacks, anxiety attacks, clinical depression,  ADHD, and few other things.

I have been on Prozac, Wellbutrin, Cymbalta, Xanax, Klonopin, Ativan, and a couple of other medications I can’t remember over the years.  All helpful and useful tools for helping me with my struggle to overcome.

Right now I am not on any meds and am not in counseling.  I feel pretty good,  most of the time.  I still struggle madly with anxiety and depression at times, but God and therapy gets me through.

I am almost done my Bachelor’s program in psychology and will be moving into a Master’s program for counseling at a local university.  The goal is to professionally help others the way I have been helped.  I now know that I was born with a gift of counseling and teaching.  I must be what I was meant to be.

Annnnnd, I think I will stop here for now.  I will reveal more information about myself as time goes on, especially as they pertain to what I am talking about.

Thanks for reading!

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Tell me your thoughts…

Of washing machines and a better tomorrow

Look familiar?

I don’t think it is any coincidence that I found this quote in my Facebook feed today: “Problems are like washing machines, they twist us, spin us, and knock us around, but in the end, we come out cleaner, brighter, and better than before” (Author Unknown).

If we are really (and I mean brutally, fist-in-your-face) honest with ourselves, this is a very true statement.

And now, I will say something bold:  Problems just are, whether we like it or not.  Stuff happens.  Life sucks. Often, circumstances suck.  Sometimes, people suck )(I admittedly suck sometimes).  And more importantly, we have a choice (Wait, did you know that?).  We can respond well to these problems, or not.  We can overcome the problem, or not.  It’s. All. Up. To. You.  It’s up to you how to respond.  It’s up to you to make a change in how you deal with the things that come your way.  You are not forever doomed to be a victim of your circumstances, your childhood, your bad relationship, your anger problem, or your “whatever”.  That’s right darlin’, you CAN change.  Yes, you heard me right.

You may ask me, “How do YOU know?”.  And I would respond with, “Cuz  I been there done that.”  I am changed-from-the-inside-out person.  I used to be shy, I’m not anymore.  I used to have multiple personalities, now I don’t.  I used to lack confidence, now I am a fairly confident person.  I used to totally suck at relationships, now I suck less (hey, nobody’s perfect).  I  used to respond to everything with anger and fear, now I take the time to really try to think through the reality of the situation, check my resources, and respond as appropriately as I can.  I used to be bossy know-it-all, well I…ahem…I guess I still am that way.  (If my sister reads this, she can verify what kind of person I used to be, and what kind of person I am today.  Right sis?  *clears throat* RIGHT, sis? Come on, be nice!)

This blog is about the process in between getting in the washing machine and coming out cleaner and brighter and better than you were before.  You, and I (and the kid down the street whose mom MAKES him wash his own clothes.  The nerve!) both know that when you put clothes in the washing machine it takes time for the clothes to come out clean.  First you have to put in the soap, then you have to choose the right settings (you know, “Normal”, “Perm Press”, “Hot/Cold” “Cold/Cold”, and etc.), start the water, and wait for the machine to agitate, spin, rinse, and spin again.  Like I said, it’s a process.  Changing behavior and thinking patterns is a process, you start with Step A, then move to Step B…I think you get the picture.

More than anything, I want you to succeed in life.  I want you to be who you are meant to be (Haven’t got a clue?  Contact this guy, he’ll help you figure it out).  But, you have to be willing to see some things differently, you have to be willing to knock down the walls of your little self-imposed prison.  You have to be willing to work at it.  And, it ain’t gonna be easy.  But, if getting knocked about a bit means you will be cleaner and brighter and better able to handle life’s problems, then the pain of the process is worth it, right?  Right?  I’m sorry, I can’t hear you.  RIGHT?!

I thought so.

Okay, so let’s get started:  Choose one thing you want to work on…I’ll give you a minute to think about.

Go ahead, it’s okay.

Just one thing, however small it may be.  It’s worth changing for a better tomorrow.

So, tell me, what would you like to change, starting today?

Looking forward to the journey with you,

Stephanie