Monday, February 29, 2016

When You Show Up and Others Don't



For a long time, I believed pretty much everything bad was my fault. I grew up attending parochial school. So, I absorbed the idea that if something bad happened, it was my fault. I learned that the divine was punishing me. 

I went through much of my first 40 or so years doing my best to be the good girl and a people pleaser, to avoid having bad things happen to me.  

As I began to reject religion at around age 18, I delved into learning about Eastern traditions, paganism, Wicca, and New Age teachings. At around age 10, I would read psychology and the early self-help books on the library floor. I was trying to make sense of life.  

In my twenties and thirties, I was heavily into New Age stuff such as the law of attraction. I never discarded the idea that everything that happens to me is my fault. I spent a ton of energy trying to avoid the bad stuff from happening.  

I worked on things like "raising up my vibration" to prevent disappointment, heartache, sadness, disease, and other losses. I covered up difficult emotions and feelings with Olympic level affirmations.  

At around age 40, I began discarding all the New Age guilt. I had been a Buddhist of sorts during my late 30s at the same time I was a New Age girl.  

I loved the Buddhist idea of karma or cause and effect. It reinforced what I had believed all my life, that stuff that happened to me was my fault.  

I figured that even if a tree would ever happen to fall into me, that I must have planted the causes sometime in the past, whether it's this lifetime or a past life.  

The thing is, life has a way of happening. I've learned that people you love die. Whoa, now there's something that isn't my fault!  

But...I mean, I was so hard on myself that I wondered could I have prevented others' deaths? I wanted to go back in time and take them to their doctor or cook them vegetarian meals. Stuff like that came up and the guilt piled up. I felt pummeled.  

I began to think if there was a natural disaster some place, that too, was my fault. Maybe I hadn't prayed hard enough for world peace?  

Oh man... 

I've allowed others, even loved ones, at times to hurt me because I was too chicken to set boundaries.  

I didn't want to stand up for myself because that wouldn't be "being nice," and I thought I wouldn't be planting good seeds for myself to have good stuff or karma.  

Again, I wanted to prevent the bad stuff from happening. So, I put up with lots of bad behavior and hurtful words. At times, I tolerated things that were abusive.  

I've not really ever been one to blame others for things not working out as I desired. I tend to be very self-aware and I take full responsibility for my results (or lack thereof) in my life.  

I've always been Old Reliable. I show up when I say I will, usually with a gift and a meal, haha! I don't flake out. If I have to reschedule, it's at least 1-2 days in advance.  

I try to be polite and think of others, even in the smallest of ways. As I've become older, I've stopped apologizing so much as a form of self-protection.  

At times, I've even apologized to others when they're upset about something or stressed out and it has nothing to do with me. I apologized as a pre-emptive protection, since I knew from the past that some project stuff or take things out on me.  

That is the sort of thing my heart has a hard time handling. I mean, in my mind, I've tried my best to be kind, accommodating, putting my own needs aside, and apologizing even. It's like having a shield in a battle and you think you're safe, but bullets or arrows penetrate and you still die. Ha!  

I think of myself as a good person, as someone you would want in your corner. I'm also the kind of friend who would hold your hair back as you puke when you've drank too much alcohol. True story. I've also lost a friend because I saved her life by calling an ambulance, preventing her from overdosing on drugs. She was mad at me. Another true story.  

So, I have learned that even if I'm loving, bad things still can happen. I sometimes can't avoid or shield myself from being in the crossfire.  

I'm also the kind of person or friend who will support you, lend a listening ear, attend many of your music gigs, remember your birthday, and hold you as you cry. But, even by being loving and supportive, it won't guarantee that friendships will last forever. It doesn't guarantee that even family will love you back.  

Even with all these uncertainties and past hurt, each day, I show up for life.  

I show up for others.  

I try to love others the best that I can.  

I'm a work in progress when it comes to knowing how to set boundaries. In the past, I've not always done it lovingly. I reached places where hurt and pain built up due to me not speaking up for myself. So, I've had a few times where I've unleashed my anger onto others. It was before I knew how to speak up for myself in a loving way.  

So, I'm not perfect. I just do my best.  

I try hard to accept others...without accepting their unkind words or behavior.  

What can I say? I care.  

As I've been processing the disappointment about my book journey, I've learned that sometimes, others won't or can't show up in the same way I have shown up for them.  

I really have not expected others to reciprocate to me. I figure everything balances out in some way. I know my good can come from many possible sources.  

I still believe in trusting karma. I never did nice things or supported others expecting a big karmic payout. I just chose to be kind and loving because it felt good and like the right thing to do. It's my nature.  

However, I'm human. I'm not a machine. I have had moments of sadness when others haven't showed up. It's more when they said they would. It's more when you have been friends for a while and they've supported you and suddenly stop.  

I've learned that is the nature of relationships. They're not perfect. I don't expect anything much any more from others.  

I know I sound possibly jaded. The thing is, if you have high expectations of others, you will get hurt. I've learned to let others know what I want or need. I also give what I need to myself. It feels better than blaming myself for not doing enough or being loving enough towards loved ones. I call it "heart insurance," since I won't have to experience the disappointment in my heart when others don't support me.  

It's so jarring when you experience others not showing up. I understand. I've been there many times. I have showed up for appointments a few days after my mom passed, not crying or expecting support, but having difficulties scheduling the follow up appointments. That's not my fault. Maybe some don't want to be reminded of death? Maybe I was bringing that up for them?  

I've had folks I've hired and paid not fully show up during my decade of having an online business. I learned lessons, yes. I was disappointed in them too. I worked on not feeling it was my fault. Again, I wondered what I did to cause their lack of attention to detail, poor workmanship, or laziness.  

Over the past five years, I've signed some contracts. Others didn't do all of their part. Promises were broken. I showed up doing my part, however. I gave everything 120%...or more.  

When others have a lack of integrity, it's hard to process and take. I didn't speak up for myself, again, since I didn't want to be "mean" and create negative karma or causes for myself.  

Due to not speaking up for myself, I have at times made myself physically sick due to the overwhelm of my own feelings and emotions. Even though I've been kind and loving and done my part to show up, I've blamed myself still. Yes, it's messed up. I get it now.  

Here's my big a-ha moment. It might not sound like something an enlightened person would say, but I will share it: I now understand that it's not fair to blame myself 100% for everything bad that happens to me or on the planet.  

People still are under their own consciousness. I can't 100% control outcomes, even if others have made promises or are bound to a contract. I'm not God. I'm not the universe. Thank goodness.  

I still partially believe in karma. I just don't use it to beat myself up any more. When so-called bad things happen to me or in the world, I ask what the lesson is for me. I ask how I can be a bigger or better force of love in the universe.  

Other times, I might need to vent or swear to feel better. I just honor my human side that way. Once I honor how I feel, things shift. I go back to a place of compassion for myself and others, since we are all learning.  

I don't hold onto a ton of hurt any more. I also find it's better to keep my heart open, even with all the bad things that have happened to me.  

As I show up each day on the planet for myself and others, I find some comfort that some do show up for me no matter what.  

I smile as the sun and moon greet me daily.  

My neighborhood squirrels and birds visit daily. I thank them for their friendship by feeding them.  

Every day, my sweet hubby hugs me.  

My true friends show up too. I have some people who I love like family.  

My heart beats and my lungs breathe.  

The stars always are there.  

I smile daily in the mirror, even if it's hard.  

There's constancy in the universe, even amidst the change that is constant.  

Not everything can stay the same, I get that.  

I do know that even though loving deeds or showing up for others feels unrequited at times, that love will never go away. It just takes different forms, sometimes unexpected ones.  

It's there though.  

With love, 

Lisa Selow  


(Copyrighted 2016)  

Monday, February 15, 2016

Pile on the Heartbreak...



Life is interesting. It’s my guru. I’m grateful for the teachings and its wisdom, even though it can be confusing at times.

Heartbreak has been piled onto me over the past decade, but really, most of my life. 

I just attended my sixth funeral since June 2015 over this past weekend. It has amplified the pile of heartbreak of mine. 

I totally get that my heartache and heartbreak is nothing new. Mine isn’t more special or difficult than anyone else’s. 

If you are alive on the planet for more than a few minutes, you will have pain. 

Intellectually, I know the suffering part is optional too. 

I tried to analyze it all. I have done things such as write in my journal, just trying to process and make sense of it all. I have done the prayers, affirmations, meditations, visualizations, forgiveness work, energy work, and self-care. 

I began this work more than three decades ago, when I was close to 11 years old, sitting on the floor of the library reading self-help books in the early 1980s to make sense of my life and my parents’ marital issues. 

I even wrote a self-help book for women. 

So, I get it. 

I get that you gotta learn things and move on, let go, and forgive and forget. I could write any number of cliches here that you have heard or seen. 

As I sit here in the middle of February, in winter in Detroit, I feel spring trying to rise like a phoenix. 

Spring is a time for new beginnings. I’ve waited a long time for a new beginning. I’ve not felt very phoenix-like. I’m more like the liquified caterpillar trying so hard to be a butterfly. 

I feel spring is trying to come. There’s a different quality to the air. The birds are starting to come home from the south areas. Animals are more active. There’s more daylight. 

I’m exhausted. 

I feel like I’m pummeled with all the heartbreak piled on top of me. I feel dragged down. I feel a bit sad, mixed with some anxiousness now and then. I also get feelings of being stuck or not sure what to do next. 
I do my best to not numb out. I don’t do the typical behaviors to cope. I simply sit with them, allowing myself to feel the pain, sadness, grief, and yes, even anger.

I grew up with the idea that it was wrong to be angry. I also was told to “stop it” when I would cry as a way to process my anger, sadness, or hurts. I held some things in, but would give them expression writing poetry, songs, or doing some artwork. I also had an outlet of writing in my journal since I was very young, as well as long distance running. 

Fast forward to today, I’m using some of the same methods to process grief, anger, and anxiousness. This stuff works. I’m grateful. Thank you, life.

But…The thing I keep wondering is why. I wonder why I had to go through so many things, lose so much, and have so many failures with my career and friendships. At the same time, I am amazed at how blessed I am because I have been with the same guy since we were 21 years old. I have cute, sweet squirrels and birds who visit me daily. I do have some musical ability. I’m a published author. My best friend is someone I’ve been friends with since age 14, so for 30 years! I have some very close friendships with people I talk to regularly. I’m successful in some other ways too, such as having no debts other than my mortgage. I also am the same healthy weight I was in 8th grade, returning there in the past two years with slow, steady process and healing of my hormones and eating less and moving more. I’m brave. I financed my own college education. I also had successful careers as a legal assistant, massage therapist, energy worker, intuitive consultant, coach, and author. 

Yet, the heartbreak is piled up. I’ve had to give up some things. I have blamed myself for not trying hard enough, but the truth is, I tried very hard. I even made myself ill from working so hard and well, the emotional management has been too much to bear. 

When I answer my own question of why I had to go through so much, I get some basic answers such as “I had to learn compassion for myself and others” or “I’m human and this is part of the curriculum.” I wonder though if there’s more…I’m letting life reveal its answers, instead of pushing so hard to find out. 

As a somewhat Buddhist spiritual practitioner, I look at cause and effect (also known as karma). I know that in the past, in this lifetime and others, I’ve created loss, grief, and pain for others. I’ve done my best to be kind and loving, to create better causes or a better future for myself. 

Am I perfect? Nope. But, I’m trying to do my best. I’m a bit like that main character in My Name is Earl (television show), but a bit prettier and well, no criminal record, hahaha! I don’t expect to receive anything in return for being kind, however. I just feel it feels better to be nice and kind to others. I don’t like having to live with the thoughts and feelings that I might have hurt someone. 

During my own healing process, I’ve looked at the places where I loved and lost and was a failure or when things disappointed me. I see a bit of blessings in them on an intellectual level. I know that some things weren’t the best path for me. I also could see where others took advantage of me, even abusing or using me. I see where I tried to save others and it wasn’t my job. I see where others didn’t follow through on what they promised me. I suppose I’ve had several graduate level courses in disappointments. I qualify for a doctoral degree, right? 

After my mom passed in June 2015, I decided to really do my best to live bravely. I felt so pummeled by everything. Yet, I felt like the mountain climber who has to reach the summit before the bad weather comes in, fiercely hellbent with no limitations. Then, boom, after it is all done, you crash at home in bed for a while. 

Two months after my mom passed, I was getting an epic amount of dental work done, as in two root canals, two fillings, and a new crown. This month, February 2015, I still need a new filling and a new crown in addition to that. During the same month of my dental work, I was like, okay, bring it! So, I had a baseline colonoscopy at age 43. My mom and grandma both had colon cancer and well, bring on the even healthier diet for me. I have always eaten mostly plant-based, but now, I’m epic healthy. Oh yeah, did I mention I had anemia on top of chronic fatigue syndrome and adrenal fatigue? My weeks were all about going to funerals, getting stuff in order, as well as navigating family stuff.

When my mom passed, I was just coming out of the situational depression about my book journey. Boom, not so fast, I guess, regarding feeling good.

I took it upon myself to continue a path of healing and self-care. I began a daily yoga practice that still continues on, even with flu and colds, since September 1, 2015. I also did a self-guided 100 days of guitar which ended with me doing my very first open mic as a singer and guitarist in October 2015, which was only 4 months after my mom passed. At the end of 2015, I decided to close my business. I still have to forward my old websites over here to this new blog, but I’m doing my best to get things “done.” 

It is time to forge a new path. 

So, I’m a brave, grown ass woman, you know?

I had some folks leave my life over the past four or five years. It has hurt quite a bit. I guess the modern way of ending a friendship is to unfriend a person on Facebook? Hmm. 

During my very brave, bring-it-on phase the first few months after my mom passed, I said “yes” to everything and everyone. I wanted to live full out. I was still so exhausted and then, one day, it all came crashing down. My body said, “No more, sister! You gotta rest!” I sat with the doctor then and she said my iron levels were a few points higher than the lowest you can be and I was borderline needing iron infusions. Ugh. 

As I sit here though, I’m navigating out of the cold and darkness. I’m writing very bad, dark poetry most days as a therapeutic way to handle my big ass pile of heartbreak. I’m about to get some counseling starting next month. This week, I’m switching to weekly nutrient intravenous infusions (drips into my blood of vitamins that take an hour and a half), instead of monthly. I’m still showing up most days, getting up at 7am or 8am. I do yoga daily. I play guitar, even if I only can muster scales. I’m making smoothies and salads for meals. I’m taking my vitamins. I’m writing in my journals, meditating, singing, and writing song lyrics. I’m doing a bit of coloring and hope to return to making art soon. I’m resting. I’m recovering. I’m not taking to heart the hurts some have done to me, such as family who won’t talk to me or who blame me for some things. 

It’s really brave and it IS epic to do these simple things each day. 

But, you see, I really never thought my life would turn out this way. I guess this is what you get to look at during your 40s. You see where your life was supposed to be different. 

Some women I’ve encountered online or in groups have shamed me, saying things that are quite mean and not supportive in the tune of, “Oh, you’re a kept woman.” It’s disappointing to me as a woman when other women are catty or not supportive, projecting their crap onto me. I mean, when you get married, your partner and you are a team. There’s no such thing as “my money” or “your money,” it’s all jointly held. You make decisions as a team. 

As a person who doesn’t have kids or a job outside the house, I know it comes across as strange, not to be living up to society’s norms or expected roles for a woman. I have stopped caring about what others think of me and my choices. It’s totally okay for me to be a homemaker, musician, writer, and artist. 

Who says I have to “earn my keep”? I don’t really feel like blogging about the ways in which I give back to the world. I just do it. I don’t need to brag or prove that I’m doing “work.” I’m a woman and all women work, just sayin.’ 

The pile of heartbreak has been getting less heavy. I notice that decluttering physical things from my home really helps. I figure I lived in Europe for a few months with only a suitcase and a backpack and I was very happy. I missed my music equipment, but I want to be a step above minimalist. 

I’m very strange, I know, because I’m happier owning less and having experiences more than acquiring things. I see large McMansions and can’t help but to think of how high the heating bills must be or how long it will take to pay those mortgages off. I know everyone makes their own choices, but I prefer things to be simple. I like to travel and go to concerts, meals out, and help animals. I don’t need a big house or anything fancy. Nope. 

The heartbreak has lessened too as I’ve let go of hurtful people and deleted their messages in my emails and social media. I have had a few people write me to tell me to “get over it,” when it comes to my grief and losses. I really was astounded. Instead of calling them out, I just took their words to heart. What a big mistake! I think that in the coming months and years, you will read about me speaking up way more to people. I think that is one thing I haven’t done much is to set boundaries with others. I like to and hope to do it lovingly, of course. 

I know that my heart is a resilient thing. I know that I’m brave and always have been. I know that I can turn pain around into a gift for myself and others. I used to really want my pain to be for a purpose, even to help just one person. 

These days, I want to have the ability to be more gentle with myself. I don’t need to make my life about lessons to help others. I can make it about relaxing and drinking tea or taking walks in nature. I don’t have to be a guru. 

I can just be one with the wind, the trees, the sky, the sun, moon, stars, and little squirrels. That is enough. That can be my purpose too. My heart is my purpose, right? 

With love,
Lisa 

(copyrighted 2016 by Lisa Selow)