Lessons From A Past Relationship

Some-Relationships-End.jpg

Writing has always provided me solace. It has always helped me overcome all the overwhelming emotions in my life.

My earliest memory in elementary school was being severely bullied. The other kids would call me Niner because I was always one year younger than everyone else and they discovered that truth when I was nine.

They called Connie because my first name is Conrad. They called me pumpkin because I was poor and fat and only grew up having only one orange Old Navy sweater that I wore till it started tearing at the seams.

Every day I was humiliated.

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I lost a very significant person my life recently. Because of my self-destructive tendencies, she had enough and left me.

She was my most significant and impactful relationship I have ever had.

I learned so much.

1) It’s okay to be vulnerable

I have always buried my darkness inside of me. I seldom shared everything that has happened in my past—dysfunctional family life, alcoholism, frequent domestic abuse and aggressive bullying.

I had harbored endless amounts of shame and guilt about my darkness. I told myself early on this would not define me and it would not affect me. If I smiled and pretended everything was okay, eventually it will be okay.

If people knew, they would judge me and I’d be even more of an outcast.

You can only bury so much before people feel disconnected. People aren’t meant to be happy all the time. And here I was, apparently, happy all the time.

She felt disconnected.

She asked. So I shared.

I poured out my heart and soul. I felt all that guilt and shame build up even higher. In that moment, instead of feeling judged and ridiculed, I felt heard and appreciated.

It takes a powerful person to accept you for your darkness and she did. She taught me that it is okay to share.

2) Value comes from within

We all lie. If you deny that, you are lying.

There are different lies we can tell at any given moment—white lies, broken promises, the lie of fabrication, the lie of exaggeration, and the lie of deception.

I was afraid to be myself. Truly, I didn’t like myself. I didn’t value my own being. So I compensated.

My weapon was the lie of deception. The lie of deception is creating an impression to hide or mislead someone into thinking differently about you.

I created false identities, created fake relationships and stories in the vain attempt to be someone that I wasn’t.

Lies kept on building until the relationship exploded.

I have learned value must erupt from within. If you do not truly love and appreciate yourself for who you are, what you’ve gone through, and what you stand for, no amount of external love or money will make you feel whole.

3) Learn to forgive (yourself)

We all make mistakes. As humans, we are prone to mistakes.

We time travel and grow ever depressed when we think about the things in the past. We replay all our old struggles and beat ourselves up endlessly, wishing that it had worked out another way.

Wishing in some way, things could have just been better.

I replay that one moment over and over again and continue to scream at myself, “HOW COULD I HAVE BEEN SO STUPID!”

Those ill thoughts manifest into the emotions I hate feeling—depression, anger, confusion— and feeling utterly helpless not being able to change the negative thought patterns.

I realized at some point I have to let go. How long will you hold on to these patterns? How long will you allow yourself to feel uncomfortable?

It is okay to feel all those ‘negative’ emotions. We should feel an entire spectrum of emotions, but at some point we have to let go. At some point, we have to pull ourselves up and continue on with life.

Forgive yourself.

Not forgiving yourself is like picking at an open wound; you are only making the bad situation worse. The wound is already there, but you can choose how you react to it and you can stop it from getting worse.

If you forgive yourself for a mistake, it becomes easier to face the consequences in a productive way.

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I remember her saying; ‘sometimes people are in your life just to teach you things. And when you are done learning, they leave,’ just as she walked out of my life.

I understand now. I learned so much from elementary school. I learned so much from the first relationship, and then, my second. I learned so much from my last.

Everything that happens in your life has a lesson ingrained within it.

The hand you are dealt shapes who you are. Every test, relationship, obstacle and reward you face changes you.

Looking back, I am thankful for the horrible times I endured.

I love who I am and who I am growing in to.

 

Self-Love In The New Year

                                                      Photo Credit: [D Sharon Pruitt]

                                                      Photo Credit: [D Sharon Pruitt]

I was looking at the ground the whole walk home, afraid to face the world.

I gave up walking. With the next exhale I pulled my head backward in defeat, faced with the moon and stars.

I was as empty as the vast distances between them.

My life had been a repeating cycle of broken relationships, dependency, and avoidance that had finally caught up to me.

What was I avoiding?

This year my new year’s resolution is simple.

I Want To Love Myself.

Loving ourselves is difficult.

We accept others but judge ourselves. We help others but hurt ourselves. We are proud of others but disappointed with ourselves. We seek to understand and connect with others but avoid looking inward.

We only give ourselves what we feel we deserve and when we don’t love ourselves we feel like we don’t deserve anything.

Self-Love And Loving Others.

That night, I was avoiding myself. My whole life had been about avoiding myself.

I didn’t feel whole without the love of another person so I got into relationships based on dependence and possession.

But when those relationships stopped distracting me from my lack of self-love I would self-destruct to create more distractions.

If we don’t have self-love we will be dependent on the love of others.  We will sacrifice our morals, boundaries and do anything to please others so that we can feel loved.

Only when we start practicing self-love we can truly share love with other people.

We won’t come from a place of need, but rather a mutual caring. We won’t depend on other people or demand control over them.

If we have self-loathing in our hearts, all the love we give will be coming from that place and all the love we receive will be tainted by that place.

Self-Love And Happiness.

If we don’t love ourselves it’s hard to maintain happiness.

We will look for happiness in outside sources that will never be stable. Drugs, alcohol, toxic relationships, vanity and material objects will be our happiness.

But these sources will cause cycles of ups and downs. They can never be stable and we will spiral down until we hit rock bottom.

When we start practicing self-love we don’t crave outside validation as much. We don’t need to distract ourselves because we are okay with who we are.

To sit in a quiet room and just BE with ourselves, to face our flaws, to disagree with the negative self-talk and show ourselves the same compassion that we show others; that is the practice of self-love.

It is a daily practice because our whole lives have been spend in judgement, denial, avoidance, anger and fear towards ourselves.

This New Year I see people everywhere making resolutions.

“This is the year I lose weight.”
“This is the year I get a new job.”
“This is the year I get a relationship.”
“This is the year I follow my passion.”

Please, make this the year you practice loving yourself.

Sometimes I still feel the way I felt during that night, but it doesn’t last as long. And when it does happen, I exhale everything and breathe in Love.

Our Story Determines Us

                                              Photo Credit: [People, Things, Life]

                                              Photo Credit: [People, Things, Life]

It has been four weeks since I’ve written and posted an article. These last few weeks have been a struggle.

I talked to Steven. I shared and we explored. We delved deep into my past, my being, everything I had struggled so long to keep secret.

He said something that struck a chord:

‘If you open a book halfway and start reading, you’ll never understand anything that’s happening. You’ll never understand the motivations for the character, why they do what they do, and who they really are. Much like your personal life, if you choose to ignore where you came from, how you were raised and your backstory, you’ll never understand your motivations for your character. You will never understand why you do what you do.’

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There has been a lot of darkness in my life. I spent the majority of my younger days pushing down my story and hiding my feelings.

“Darkness doesn’t determine you if it doesn’t effect you right now,” was my rationalization. So I kept pushing and moved on with my life.

Now years later, everything is resurfacing and past traumas are showing up more powerful than ever. It has had so much time to gather strength within myself and is now seeping into all my being.

It has impacted everything in my life, to the point where I’m pretty much a blank canvas. I feel transparent. I feel empty.

I spent a lot of time crying these past few weeks. And now I feel like crying, but there’s nothing left.

The last few weeks have been a lot of ‘woe is me.’

I have constantly screamed, ‘why me? Why do I have to have a dark past? Why can’t I be the lucky one without any trauma?’

Instead of trying to understand my story, I spent a lot of time being a victim. Being a victim is the easy-HARD way out. It is an easy road to travel, constantly avoiding all the difficult questions along the way. Then, you reach the end and you have to face the hard challenges. Unanswered questions manifest into destructive behaviours, hurting the people you love and, inevitably, yourself.

On the flip-side, delving deep within yourself provides the hard-EASY outcome. The road is hard to travel. Reliving the entire trauma is a tasking challenge. Difficult feelings will surface and the path will make you feel vulnerable and empty, at times. But at the end of the hard road, you will shed the excess weight. It feels easier to continue, when you’ve obtained a full understanding of yourself.

Where are you lacking? What are you hiding from yourself? How is it affecting you? Ask yourself these questions and seek out answers.

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I feel like I have been taking the easy way my whole life. Being a helpless victim was all I ever knew.

But as I approached the end of my road, I progressively became more and more destructive.

I am at a crossroads.

Do I continue my destructive path as a victim, or do I understand my personal power and delve further into my being?

I am surrounded in darkness. But I as I come to terms with everything, as I continue to work through my character, my motivations and my being, I begin to grow at a rapid rate.

More importantly, everything and everyone I surround myself with feels the positive effects of my personal growth.

No one is lucky. Everyone has trauma. But some people bury it so deep within themselves, it only comes out as anger, lies, hate, and regret.

We never see their trauma or their true selves. All we see are shadows of people.

Life is full of hard choices.

All growth arises from a dark place.

And I am tired of being a shadow.

3 Ways To Be Awesome

                                                  Photo Credit: [Yasmine Khater]

                                                  Photo Credit: [Yasmine Khater]

I've never been awesome. I've never been the life of the party. I always considered somewhat of a social outcast, an alien in my own environment. 

Only over the last few years, I have really 'come to my own.' The last few years, I became more fun, I've made more meaningful connections with people, and I've really discovered myself. 

So I thought I'd share my experience and hopefully help others.

 

Use your ears

 

This is a lost art. Too many of us spend our conversations thinking about what we want to say next, rather than listening and feeling in the present moment.

We move in and out of the conversation in front of us, eagerly waiting for the moment to speak up and blurt out our opinions and thoughts. Frankly, we spend too much time talking and not enough time listening.

When we are completely present for the person in front of us, they can sense that. I don’t know exactly what ‘that’ is, but something happens when you are completely present and listening.

People feel you more. They like you more. You become more awesome.

 

Knowledge is power

 

‘Knowledge is power’ gets thrown around a lot these days. But what does it actually mean?

Knowledge is the golden apple. With knowledge your world opens up. The more you know, the more interesting you become.

Moreover, you now possess the ability to share knowledge and value. The more value you add to peoples’ lives the more they appreciate your presence. People love learning new things.

But, value isn’t celebrity gossip and Facebook news. Value is enriching peoples’ life by broadening their perspectives. Knowledge is the bridge among people.

I started reading voraciously when I was younger. The more I knew, the more I shed, and the more people gravitated toward me.

 

Love is all you need

 

Love makes the world go round. Well, actually it’s gravity, but that’s beside the point. Without either, the world would be an ominous place, that’s for sure. There would be a lot of hateful people floating around, which sadly is true, minus the actually floating.

Love is an interesting idea. It’s easy to say, ‘love each other.’ It is definitely much easier said than done. Love encompasses so much more than just that solitary feeling.

It consists of acceptance, appreciation, and adoration. To love is very much a full-time job with no pay other than the warmth and tenderness from others.

I found it easy to avoid love. It’s easy to come up with excuses when convenient. I used to think, ‘Well, no one loves me. So why should I love them.’

But I’ve learned over the course of my personal growth that love isn’t something you earn, but something you receive. Love doesn’t take work, but it does take openness.

An openness to accept each other as they are, to appreciate each others’ flaws and insecurities, and to adore him or her in its’ face. In order to receive love, one must be open to love and give love.

Love is only received when love is given. I started to love more despite my jaded outlook. I gave more hugs, more compliments and more smiles. Everything fell into line, and people thought I was some sort of superhero.

No one is born being awesome. We all look the same—born tiny, slimy creatures— but it’s these differences that shape the way people view us in this crazy hectic world.

Who we are being determines our outcomes.

So who are you being everyday? A person worthy of abundance and appreciation or one that accepts that the world is a horrible dark place.

I chose my bed. I lie in it.

What To Do If You Are A People Pleaser

                                                         A Reminder To Myself 

                                                         A Reminder To Myself 

Making people happy gives us energy. It puts a smile on our faces and makes us proud.

Human connection is the light that brightens our days and shows us the way forward.

But too much of a good thing can be bad and basing our lives around other people is no exception.

We have a bad habit of sacrificing our own well-being, time, and energy to make others happy. We have a hard time saying no and we get upset when someone doesn’t like us.

Confrontation is almost impossible because we can’t stand the idea that someone would be upset with us afterwards.

When people reach out to us for advice we censor anything that might make the other person uncomfortable for fear that they might dislike us.

I’ve been exploring this issue within myself and I can see just how much it affects my life. This problem has deep roots within us all.

Caring about what other people think is important but when we start to base our self-worth off their opinions, lose our integrity and sacrifice our happiness, we have gone too far.

Today I want to share the things I have been practicing to balance my people pleasing with my own needs.

START WITH NO

This is something a mentor taught me and within twenty four hours I had put it in to practice several times.

If you are a people pleaser like I am this is important: Any time someone asks you to do something, say no first.

It’s better to say no at first and leave room for a possible yes, then to say yes and disappoint someone with a no later on.

The phrase I have been using is “No, I can’t, sorry. But if something changes can I let you know?”

With that one phrase we can stop ourselves from habitually giving up our time and energy while still leaving room for us to change our mind.

CREATE HEALHTY BOUNDARIES

This one is difficult. We have to decide what we are willing to do and what we are not willing to do.

We must figure out the things in our lives that are non-negotiable.

“I don’t smoke. I don’t stay up past 11pm. Sunday is my day for personal time. I go to the gym every weekday. I take an hour every night to read. I don’t like being talked to a certain way, etc.”

Pick the things that you are not willing to budge on and the next time someone asks you to do something that crosses your boundaries, say no.

GET YOUR SELF WORTH SOMEWHERE ELSE

This was (and still is) a hard lesson for me.

Whenever we try to get our self-worth from other people, it is going to be a disaster.

The problem is that we can never make everyone like us. We might have ten people that like us and make us feel good, but then one person makes a comment and it’s all we can think about that day.

A lot of the time we are making decisions based on what “they” would think of us, but we don’t even know who “they” are in the scenario.

I was walking through the mall with a friend a couple of days ago and he said to me “Who are ‘they’? Who are ‘they’ specifically that you worry so much about? Which people in your life?

When he said that, it hit me. I didn’t even know who it was that I was basing so many of my life’s decisions on.

Here is an exercise for you to do:
   -Take a 1”x1” piece of paper
   -Write down the names of the people whose opinion you allow yourself to care about
   -Put the paper in your wallet and anytime you start to care what someone thinks, pull it out and see if they are on the list.

You’ll be surprised how many people don’t make the cut.

That’s the key here. It’s okay to care what people think. It is probably thing that stops us from all being selfish, horrible people.

But we master this area of our lives when we decide whose opinion we allow to affect us. We should only care about the opinions of the people who matter to us most.

They are the people who give us energy and put a smile on our face. They are the light that brightens our day and shows us the way forward.

It’s okay to care what people think, to say yes, to help people, and to be unselfish.

But remember, too much of a good thing… can be a bad thing.