Sunday, October 30, 2011

Thanks - for transformations

Day 8 of 14. (I started this post last night - but fell asleep before I could finish it!) 

Here's something I'm noticing about this gratitude challenge.  As I am more thankful on a more consistent basis, I find that I'm a little less likely to skip to the worst possible scenario in any given situation.  Hm.

I am grateful for the transformations that slowly are taking place in my life and the lives of those I hold dear - as I grow in a lifestyle which demands rigorous honesty with myself, with God, and with others.  I am not saying I never return to the old ways.  I am saying that they no longer dominate every encounter.  For this, I am grateful to God. 

I lie less.  I used to lie all the time (and delude myself into saying that I was telling the truth, as far as it went.)  I'd tell people I was fine when I wasn't; I'd cover up for my hubby's drinking by saying he wasn't feeling well or must have ingested something that disagreed with his system.  I used to be so afraid of what people would think of me that I would tell them what I thought they wanted to hear. I said yes when I wanted to say no.  As I grew in a new lifestyle of integrity and honesty - these behaviors dropped off of me.  Today, I let others bear the consequences of their own  actions, and if I am feeling crappy, I will not say "great" no matter who asks me how I am, and no matter if they are displeased with me NOT saying "great."  

I'm feeling more and more at home in my own skin.  Before I entered this healing process, I didn't even know who I was and I wasn't sure if I'd even like that person if I ever got to know her.  As I have been healing inside - facing my personal demons, so to speak - and starting to believe that I have a right to exist, that I am allowed to have a life and to be happy without feeling guilty, I have more of a sense of occupying space in the world. I used to try to disappear, and yet I resented anyone who made me feel like I didn't exist. Since starting to heal, I have more respect for myself and have even stood up for myself on occasion.  This still amazes me.  

My unhealthy relationships have ended or are being changed.  I can recognize when people are trying to manipulate and control me, and I have called them on it.  If they deny it and still try to manipulate and control me again and again, and show (or even say) that they really don't think they are doing anything wrong, that "everybody does that," I have ended the relationship rather than (do what I did before which is) make excuses for them and stay under their thumb.  This has led some people to refuse to speak to me.  Before, that would have driven me around the bend - I lived my life for the approval of others. ALL others. But now I figure that if they have a problem with me having my own ideas and saying "no" if I don't want to do something, then that is not my problem. And I don't have to allow it to happen; I don't care who they think they are.  Those who care about me are happy to see these changes.  Those who don't care - I don't want to be around them.

My immediate family relationships are changing.  I used to look down on my husband and kids, or allow one or the other of them to dictate how I behaved.  Treating them as equals never crossed my mind.  I was either controlling someone or allowing myself to be controlled by someone. I thought of myself either as lesser than or greater than, depending on the situation. They vacillated between being afraid of me and having contempt for me.  Or (worse yet) they pitied me.  Now, it's different.  They have seen the metamorphosis that is taking place - up close and personal, warts, setbacks and all - and they are more comfortable around me.  Our relationships are relaxed, easy, even fun.  We laugh more, and we fight less; we are more secure in our love for each other.  

Acceptance is becoming a way of life for me.  I used to be threatened by anyone who was different from me, who held different beliefs than I did, or who had a lifestyle that I considered wrong.  I'm learning that, as Pete said in The  Muppets Take Manhattan, "Peoples is peoples."  I'm learning to separate belief from person - not only in myself but in other people - and to enjoy the goodness and the beauty that I see in both my own self and in the selves of others.  It doesn't mean that I agree with everyone, or share their beliefs or life choices, but it does mean that I am not threatened by them, and can accept them as they are - without trying to fix them or convert them.  That makes them more relaxed around me, instead of being on the defensive all the time.  I like it better that way and I know they do.  

That feeling of consistent and continual loneliness I lived with for pretty much all of my life ... is dissipating.  I have more friends now than I ever thought I had or ever would ever have. This is such a trip for me!!

I have more confidence than I used to have.  When I think back over the last three years, God has led me into some amazing places that I never thought I could be.  I've done things in the last couple of years that - ten years ago - I could only imagine doing, as if in a wonderful dream.  Some of those dreams have become a reality:  being respected and heard, helping people in tangible ways, leading people, making a difference in people's lives.  Part of me can't even believe I'm talking about me that way, and wants to pinch myself.  Yet ... if this is a dream ... don't wake me.  

I'm a little less selfish than I used to be in some ways.  In other ways, I'm more selfish.  I'm more selfish in that I insist on looking after myself, believing in myself, doing what I need to do in order to maintain the relationships I have with God, myself, and others.  And as I have learned that I'm okay, that I'm all right just the way I am, I'm less selfish in that I have more of my true self to invest in other people, to listen to them, to care about what happens to them.  Before, it used to all be a variation on that old Anne Murray song, "Heyyyyy, what about me?"  Now that I have made some space for me to exist, I don't need to ask myself as much whether I'm being belittled or minimized.  I can choose to give - and I can choose to not give, and not feel guilty for saying "no" if I don't want to do something.  I've found that most people will respect that, too.  Who knew?

Found through Google Images at:
As I am healing, I am finding that the people in my life whom I have always wanted to "fix" have been watching me heal.  While I have been letting go of my need to fix them, they have been going through their own transformation, freed up from having to defend themselves from my efforts to "help" them, and able to do their own thinking about how their own lives are progressing.  It's uncanny.  I remember one person who originally couldn't understand how I could be upset over something that happened forty years ago, sharing with me one time after I had begun to heal from my past, "I guess the things that happen to you as a child follow you into adulthood."  She wasn't talking about my past, either; she was talking about her own.  Without my even trying - she had come to it on her own.  I've seen miracle after miracle happen just like that. 

Best of all, I am happier - much happier and much more consistently happy - than I ever was before.  Nurturing my relationships with God and with myself has given me the resources to be able to give instead of always taking.  I remember appearing to give of myself, and then being offended that people didn't appreciate what I did for them.  I was giving out of a deficit within myself, which left me in a continual state of burnout. And I was miserable. Giving from a place of fulness allows me to enjoy giving of myself.  It helps me have a healthy, happy attitude.  It doesn't mean I'm happy all the time; I feel what I feel when I feel it and I don't lie about it.  If something displeases me, I usually feel free to say so.  But on the whole, I am happy more days than not.  Which, as Martin the clown-fish says in Finding Nemo, "is a big deal ... for me."

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