Friday, October 14, 2016

Things You Need to Hear: I Deserve.

I'm taking this class with Effy Wild called Facing Forward II: Things You Need to Hear. I thought it was appropriate. There are LOTS of things I NEED to hear, and I'm working on it.  The theme for the first week was: 

I deserve. 

Boy, I have struggled with this my whole life. I don't think it came from childhood, my parents always made sure I felt loved and had everything I needed, including that set of 64 Prismacolor Colored Pencils and working cameras. I suppose that feeling of not deserving came from adulthood... no one ever directly told me I didn't deserve, but I guess actions always speak louder than words. School, jobs, relationships...

I never felt like I could live up to the expectations of others. 

I was never good enough. I didn't do things right. I didn't look like I  was expected to. I didn't wear the right clothes. I wasn't the right weight. I hung around with the wrong people. I didn't have the right kind of job. I didn't watch the right TV shows. 

It was exhausting. And with each expectation that wasn't met, my self esteem plummeted a little lower, until I developed an attitude of What's the use? Why bother even trying? I can't do anything right. It doesn't matter. After awhile with that attitude, things die inside. The heart breaks, the soul suffers. Thoughts turn into It doesn't matter. I don't matter. 

I don't matter subsequently turns into I don't deserve any better.  

It's taken me about 5 years to declare that utter and complete Bullshit. Of course I matter. If not to myself, then to my daughter, my parents, my siblings, my friends, my dog. I deserve to be loved for who I am, not for who others want me to be. Let me repeat that because it's really important... "I deserve to be loved for who I am, not for who others want me to be." 
I deserve because I am human. 

I deserve to be loved, and to love. 
I deserve to do things that make me happy. 
I deserve to feel joy. 
I deserve abundance. 
I deserve respect. 
I deserve kindness.

I have come a long way the past few years. I have learned a lot about myself, mainly that I matter. I have found my voice again, I have found my confidence again. I have some great friends who support me, a family that loves me. I actually like myself again. I cringe when I think back at all the times I've said I hate myself. I hate my body! 

(Dear Body, I apologize profusely for the way I've treated you in the past. You have been through so much physical and emotional abuse. I appreciate your strength and stamina. You deserve to be loved. And you deserve a lover who treats you with kindness...) 
I think the key is that I no longer feel unworthy of basic human rights. I give myself permission to feel joy, even if the dishes aren't washed or there are dust-puppies in the corner. Even if I weigh more than I should, or would rather take a nap than go for a walk. And I am worthy of respect, from myself and from others. 
I even met a great guy who treats me with the respect I deserve. (He opened the car door for me! Holy crap, when was the last time that happened?!) We are still in the early stages, appreciating the present moment and not placing expectation on the future. We are enjoying each other's company because we both deserve it. 
I think the world would be a better place if people felt like they deserved love. Because then they wouldn't allow others to steal their joy and confidence and respect that they also deserve. If you didn't feel worthy growing up, then feel it now, give it to yourself. You deserve it, I promise. 

And I deserve it. 

P.S. If you are interested in learning more about this class, Effy has generously provided a discount. I am not being paid to promote this, I am doing it out of love :-) 
Facing Forward 2: The Things we Need to Hear. 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Maintaining Balance in a Crazy World

Listen friends, I'm gonna get real here. I haven't said much on this subject, thinking I'm going to keep an open mind. There is a reason that all this Facebook "unfriending" is going on right now. We would all like to believe that "just because we have different opinions we can still be friends." I'm not sure about that. We choose friends because they are like us, no? They support us, they have similar values and ethics and morals. I'm not talking about -you love cats, I love dogs- types of differences, I'm talking about basic values, so many examples to choose from. Is it okay to lie? Is it okay to cheat and steal and take advantage of people? Is it okay to disrespect others, mock them, unfairly generalize? *I* believe it is NOT okay. If *you* believe it IS okay, then there is a fundamental difference between us. It's simple. 
Yes, you are entitled to your opinions. Yes, you have the right to believe what you want to believe. Yes, I will even listen to your viewpoint. It's my right to disagree and it's my right to express my own opinions. Sometimes I even express those opinions on Facebook. I have very strong opinions (which I try to base on fact) and I sometimes share them, but I really try to refrain from attacking others personally. That's part of MY value system... 
We can't do anything about family members except try to understand their point of view. What happened in the "history of them" that causes them to think they way they think? Sometimes we know their stories, sometimes we don't. We can still love them and respect them, but we don't have to agree with them. That's family, you can't get rid of them. But friends are family members we CHOOSE. I am going to choose ones that reflect my moral values. Simple. 
Of course there are different levels of friendship. The ones I keep physically close are going to be the ones whose values I have the most in common with. I have to live with them after all :-) Sure, there are always some differences, maybe there are one or two things we may disagree on, but we always have MORE in common than less. We can always respectfully agree to disagree if the issue isn't huge. It's human nature to surround ourselves with people who have similar beliefs. Would I choose to be friends with a mass murderer? No. That's called a HUGE moral issue. 
When we up our level of friendship into relationships, the same rules apply. The guy I am currently seeing, asked before we even met for the first time, who I support in this election. You have no idea how relieved I was that *he* brought it up and how relieved I was to find that the answer meant we had similar values. It's NOT about being open-minded. It's about being similar-minded. It's about being emotionally connected with someone who agrees with your morals and values. Simple. 
This election is causing extremely heightened emotions. I would even use the term "frenzied." I always encourage others to practice tolerance. I always try to practice tolerance. Be open minded and listen to others and if you must, agree to disagree and move on. But know that there is NO shame in wanting to sever ties if someone is being emotionally abusive, or if you feel bullied. It's called protecting yourself. If, in real life, your friend physically hit you, would you remain friends? If your friend humiliated you and made you feel ashamed of who you are, would you remain friends? I would hope not. So if someone on Facebook is engaging in that type of behavior with their words, it's okay to let them go.
Life is not black and white, right or wrong. It's a series of compromises on a sliding scale. When the scale tips, and things are out of balance, do what you have to, to bring it back to balance. You can't make positive changes in the world if you are bombarded with negativity and agree to wear it like a cloak. There is NO shame in letting go of things that bring dissonance in your life. But let them go gently please, with kindness.