“Come have your tears with me …”

come have your tears with me

We all have those times when a cascade of tears is seriously threatening to burst through.  We try, very valiantly, to hide them.  And, we profusely apologize when we just can’t do it and the flood gates fly wide open.  We feel embarrassed by our excessive emotional exhibition.  We beat ourselves up for not being more effective at keeping our feelings at bay … out of clear view.  And, we often deem ourselves “weak” when we can’t soldier on and just muscle through the ache … when we fail to adequately ‘man up’ through the pain.  And, for some crazy reason, we have been taught to admire and glamorize those who have lost their tears … reverently applauding them for being “so strong.”

And, forgive my language, but it’s all such bulls#*t.  From where I am looking (both professionally and personally) this stoic, stalwart stance is just not optimal for humanity.  There are some circumstantial exceptions (which I won’t discuss now), but it’s typically not beneficial for any one of us to harden our hearts in order to hide our pain … whether we are babies or children or teenagers or adults.

Tears are a natural and normal and necessary part of healing.  They activate our parasympathetic nervous system … which helps to process our pain and dampen our internal alarm system.  That is why we often ‘feel’ like a weight has been lifted after a good, long cry.  Dr. Gordon Neufeld (a renowned attachment theorist) asserts that the tears of pain release toxins from the body … that the chemical composition of tears we cry when we express our emotions is different that the tears that leak out when we are cutting an onion. That is why our eyes burn and swell … and … our cheeks get uncomfortably chaffed after we have spilled our tears without trying to stop them.

I wish we could collectively and universally get comfortable with tears.  We are not. As a counselor, though, I always know we are edging close to a heartfelt ‘truth’ when someone’s eyes begin welling up. Tears are an honest and authentic expression of our wounding.  They are a wise reminder that our tender, tattered hearts need to be nurtured.  Tears are an important invitation for someone to lean in and provide comfort.  And … at the most primal level, isn’t compassion what we most need when we are hurting … emotionally, physically or otherwise?

Imagine a wee little child, helmet on, riding their two wheeler and totally enjoying the thrill of it.  And then, for some reason, they get caught up in some loose gravel and they bite the dust.  And then what happens?  They cry.  And then what?  They seek out someone for comfort.  And then what?  They find you and climb up onto your lap and sob freely while they explain what happened.  And then what? You get the ‘boo boo’ cleaned up, and get them a band-aid and give them a kiss to make it all better.  And then what? You compassionately hold them until there are no more tears. And then what?  They jump off your knee, put on their helmet and gleefully get back on the bike.  And then, at the end of the day when you ask them how their day was … they say “Great! I love bike riding!” Probably no mention of the fall … unless, of course, you inquire about how their knee feels.  They will likely assure you, “It doesn’t hurt anymore.” Their pain has been processed, their hurting has been invited to heal and ‘the crash’ is reduced to a faint recollection of a past event.

On the other hand, imagine the same wee little child, helmet on, riding on their two wheeler and totally enjoying the thrill of it.  And then, for some reason, they get caught up in some loose gravel and they bite the dust … but they have learned through teasing, shaming or scolding that they are not supposed to cry.  They have determined that there is no safe place to have their tears.  Then what?  Perhaps a bit embarrassed, they look around in the hopes that no one saw them. And then what?  They fight back the tears and pretend it didn’t hurt.  And then what?  They act mad instead of sad and look for something or someone to blame.  And then what? They kick up the gravel and throw some at their bike. And then what? They might think if they had a better bike … maybe a blue one …  they would not have crashed.  And then what? They angrily protest their upset with the ‘stupid green bike’ by pushing it home instead of riding it again.  And then what?  They kick the cat on their way in the door.  And then what?  You sternly remind them that cats are not for kicking. And they sneer something under their breath.  And when you ask them how their day was … they say,  “Stupid. My bike is so stupid.”  And then you tell them to stop being so silly because you know how much they love riding their bike. And then what? They snarl back at you with seemingly unwarranted and irrational rage, “No I don’t. I HATE it!  And I’m never going to ride that stupid bike again! And you cant make me!” And then what?  You firmly remind them, “don’t you use that tone with me” and may even send them to their room with an invitation to “stay there” until they can “be nice.”

And they are isolated and alone. And their pain gets hidden. It is repressed rather than released. And their tears are lost. And the unprocessed pain of their past persists angrily into the present … and then … may be triggered again and again in the future.  And no one else is any the wiser about what has transpired at the deepest level.

And, in all honesty, which experience would you rather have? Unless or until we have transformed into ‘the strong one’ who resists all measure of tearful displays … we instinctively crave comfort when we are wounded.  That is why, on occasion when we have hurt ourselves haphazardly and publicly … all it takes is for someone to say “Are you okay?”and the tears escape involuntarily.  And that is why, when we see a toddler trip and fall, we say “He’ll be okay as long as you don’t look at him.”  We are instinctively wired to cry when we are hurting.

And, it’s almost humanly impossible to hold back our tears in the space of heartfelt compassion.  However, if/when loving comfort is not a safe or viable option to mediate our wounding, we might subconsciously seek to numb our discomfort or distract ourselves with the next best thing … food, drugs (legal or illicit), alcohol, gambling, video gaming, social media, sex, pornography etc.  As Dr. Gabor Maté contends, addictions are not the problem in and of themselves … they are more likely to be a symptom of unexpressed wounding and/or unhealed pain. 

And honestly … don’t each and every one of us deserve to be lovingly supported through our pain? As Dr. Neufeld suggests, at the very deepest level of our being, don’t we all just want someone safe to tenderly and gently and compassionately offer, “Come have your tears with me.”

May we all find our way to that sacred healing space … and also … hold that sacred healing space for someone else, Karen

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I Put Up a Wall …

two people

Source Unknown

I put up a wall to keep you out … because I am wounded and fragile and afraid you will hurt me.

You see my wall and feel rejected.

You perceive my wall as a judgment or criticism of you.

The space between us becomes large and ominous … and … keeps us from truly seeing each other.

It keeps us from truly loving each other and meeting each others needs … which we could do and would do … if we weren’t looking at exactly the same thing and seeing something totally different.

If only we could see through the wall.

If only we could feel each others vulnerability.

But we don’t.

And so we both suffer … needlessly.

Source Unknown

There are times when we need to wall up,  but … not all the time, Karen

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[GUEST POST]: Maybe I’m Actually Not a Christian After All

I MUST re-blog this powerful piece penned by John Pavlovitz. These are words that our world must hear … over and over and over. Words that our world must let land in our heart …over and over and over. Lest we forget … over and over and over.

john pavlovitz

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I’ve always thought that I was a Christian.

I’ve simply assumed that since I believed myself to be and strived to be, that this was enough. Though I’ve devoted my days to emulating Jesus and to reflecting his character in the world, this seems to have been a woefully errant path leading me far afield of righteousness.

Over recent years I’ve spent countless hours debating with those who contest my claims of faith; self-professed believers who debate my authenticity, my theology, my conduct, my motivations. They make dire assessments of both my moral worth and my eternal destination, chastising and condemning with great conviction.

It’s difficult to quantify just how much time and energy and mental bandwidth I’ve expended attempting to justify inclusion in their heavily fortified faith fraternity and to prove my personal spirituality valid and genuine in their eyes.

But these days I’m looking at what alleges to be Christianity in my country and I’m now almost certain…

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How to Love … Unconditionally.

Unconditional Love - Mark Nepo - web size

My first thought … whenever I hear the concept of ‘unconditional love’ being bantered about, is that we must somehow ‘turn the other cheek’ and tolerate/endure people’s chronic ways of being with us  … even if it hurts … because we love them.  It disturbs me, however, that a wholehearted commitment to this interpretation of ‘unconditional’ might encourage the most caring and compassionate souls to step over neglectful/abusive energy … instead of stepping up to address it … or … stepping out of it entirely.

No … from where I am looking, that does not serve the greater good.  In The Book of Awakening, Mark Nepo sagely suggests:

In truth, unconditional love does not require a passive acceptance of whatever happens in the name of love.  Rather, in the real spaces of our daily relationships, it means maintaining a commitment that no condition will keep us from bringing all of who we are to each other honestly.

For example, on any given day, I might be preoccupied with my own needs, and might overlook or bruise what you need and hurt you. But then you tell me and show me your hurt, and I feel bad, and you accept that sometimes I go blind to those around me.  But we look deeply on each other, and you accept my flaws, but not my behavior, and I am grateful for the chance to work on myself.  Somehow, it all brings us closer.

Unconditional love is not the hole in us that receives the dirt, but the sun within that never stops shining” (p. 309).

I much prefer to embrace the notion that the unconditional’ nature of love is really best reflected in our willingness to keep working through the accidental harms that are an inevitable part of our humanity … consciously fostering opportunities to afford restitution for the collateral heartaches that result due to the colliding of our competing needs, wants and desires.

Perhaps, we might love each other most unconditionally by graciously making space for such an honest, sincere and transparent exchange  … rather than dismissing, excusing  and/or failing to tenderly express/address the wounding within our relationships.

In fact, when we take a really honest look at our lives, we will see that many of our deepest resentments have arisen out of our undelivered communications. Yes, it is often the unspoken violations  … the unexpressed injuries that covertly forsake the love and security in our relationships.  And maybe it doesn’t have to be that way. Maybe we can create a safe space within our relationships to honor each others wounds instead of righteously defending ourselves.

hurt

Thank you again, Mark Nepo, for obviating the ‘unconditional’ love that is inherent in “bringing forth from within, rather than the enduring of what comes from without” (p. 310).

May we feel such love and be such love … unconditionally, Karen

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And sadly, the SPIRIT of WAR shows up COVERTLY everywhere …

When are we going to get it??  I was scrolling through my Facebook page … and … low and behold, I come across this COVERT but entirely sanctimonious attack on those whose beliefs are different than our own.

Merry Christmas ...

My heart stops.  Frozen in the deepest despair.  We all SAY we are committed to PEACE.  We self-righteously point fingers at those we believe are guilty of ATTACKING others and raging war.  We are absolutely outraged by such unprovoked global aggression.  We must  STOP them.

And then, in the next breath, we obliviously and unwittingly perpetuate the ENERGY of war and divisiveness with this kind of seemingly benign attack.  ‘ShutUpImStillTalking’ appears to delight in their deliberate intent to BOTHER those whose beliefs are different.

THIS is an unflattering microcosm of the macrocosm … covertly promoting religious INTOLERANCE … even though we are vehemently criticizing that very thing across the planet.  How come it’s only wrong when THEY do it?  By endorsing and embracing this kind of belittling energy (also hidden behind religious sanctimony), we are very unwittingly adding to the darkness.  Argh.  And yet, for some reason, we cannot see it.  And it all leaves me saddened to the core.

Happy Holidays

Source Unknown but deeply appreciated.

Can we not find it in our hearts to make room to live peacefully with those whose beliefs are different than ours?  Offering neutral good wishes (Happy Holidays or Season’s Greetings) CANNOT possibly corrupt or diminish any of my own beliefs.  I would argue that uttering these sentiments cannot take the omnipotent love of God out of any Christian’s heart … but rather, it simply MAGNIFIES and REFLECTS it.

From where I am looking, when all people can offer a loving acknowledgement to all others without requiring them to fit into their own belief system …  THAT is to live in peace. And, when we can extend warm, meaningful and loving wishes to those we know hold different beliefs … THAT is to cultivate peace on earth.

Isn’t that the TRUEST essence of tolerance and love … isn’t that the core teaching of Jesus and so many of our other religious teachings?  If we can’t offer it in our neighborhoods or on Facebook, we will certainly never see it globally.  And it saddens me to the core.

Gandhi sagely professed: “We must BE the change we wish to see in the world”. Gandhi so clearly got it … when, oh when, will we?

Rant over … but … my heart still aches, Karen

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[Guest Blog]: The Synonym for “Refugee” is Terrorist

terrorist

THIS is, no doubt, one of the most informative pieces I have read on the Syrian Refugee Crisis.   I applaud Lindsay, from LETSALLAGREE.COM for authoring and sharing this thoughtful, compelling and poignant article.  I hope you will give this the time it deserves … because … in my humble opinion, she makes a point that we collectively would not want to miss.

In solidarity … Karen

Well, I Had a Dream …

Source Unknown

Somewhere, very early on in my life, I decided that inspirational quotes like this one were the answer.  I have been collecting them for as long as I can remember. I have viewed them as the exquisite blueprints for creating the life of my dreams and, not surprisingly, I have deeply internalized the notion that I should be pursuing a big, juicy, delicious life.  And I really have been … BUT …

As inspiring as it sounds and although many of my dreams have actually become realities … I have learned something that those inspirational quotes don’t tell you.  Pursuing any one of those dreams can be exhilarating … pursuing all those dreams can be exhausting.  Unless you are not a dreamer. But, the problem for me, is that I have so darn many Dreams, Desires and Delights on my 3D List as my bestie Marie renamed the infamous ‘bucket list’.  (If you would like to view my 3D List, please request the password.)

And yes, I am eager to live out my days in high-def ‘3D’ but here is the thing: I often feel like my mouth is completely stuffed …  so jam packed with delicious, delectable morsels that it’s difficult to sufficiently savor of any one of them in particular.  And, because I am so passionate about it all, I can’t fathom the idea of spitting anything out.  So I keep chewing and chewing and chewing and chewing and chewing.  And, although I am nourished in some very wonderful ways … there is also a part of me that longs to simply stop all the jets, come screeching to a halt, and just settle into a more mediocre but manageable ‘one bite at a time’ existence.  These competing desires have created a conundrum for me … as well as some health issues.  Argh.

BUT …  I had a dream.  Not to be confused with Martin Luther King, who also had a dream.  My dream was not a dream of that magnitude, but rather … it was the kind of dream you have in your sleep.  I could have chalked it up to some silly nocturnal nonsense, but upon deeper reflection, I’m thinking that this dream might be the dream that I most need to follow in order to actually create my biggest, juiciest and most delicious life EVER!   Let me explain …

In my dream, my husband and I were teamed up in a foot race around the world (kind of like The Amazing Race). We started off in some remote location in the woods with a winding dirt path that led up to a rustic old log cabin that was to be our first pit stop of the race.  As we started racing up the road, I fell into a faster than usual pace for the ‘runner’ within me only to be advised by my husband to “run slower”.

I shot him the ‘what the hell would you know’ glance that unequivocally questioned how he (the non-runner) could presume to know the right pace for me?  Without accepting my invitation to spat about it, he reasoned that it would be downright impossible to sustain that pace for the whole distance.  He humbly suggested that we could maximize our time and optimize our physical resources by slowing down.  Hmmm … maybe he was right. I hate it when he’s right, but I knew I had no time for self-righteous bantering.  I reluctantly conceded that maybe this was one of those Tortoise and the Hare times when slow and steady wins the race …

And, we were “The first team to arrive!”at the quaint, old-fashioned store constructed out of ginormous logs … that sold all kinds of hand-made eats, crafts and memorabilia specific to that area of the world. Now, in my wide-awake life, whenever we travel anywhere, I always buy a Christmas tree ornament because nothing pleases me more than fondly reminiscing about my 3D experiences while dressing the tree each year.  So there I was … in my ‘racy’ dream (sorry – couldn’t resist the pun) torn between finding a meaningful memento to mark this memory or dashing out the door to maintain our first place lead (not that I am competitive).  🙂

I headed out the door, but as soon as the gravel crunched beneath my first foot step,  I could vaguely hear that small inner voice pleading with my sensibilities: “Just how much are you willing to lose in order to win?”

Huh?? That provocative question sparked me to pause in mid stride. As I considered going back for my ornament … I gazed back over my right shoulder and caught a glimpse of the most idyllic purple, orange and pink sunset. It’s spectacular splendor stopped me right then and there. I instinctively gasped as I paused to inhale the magic in that miraculous moment.  Just then … the awareness struck me … if I had just kept on running in order to ‘win’ the race, I would have ‘lost’ that precious but unexpected prize.

Absorbed in awe of the colors, I found myself questioning how many other unpredicted, un-pursued but munificent moments like this I had missed as I sped through my days doggedly determined to claim my biggest dreams, desires and delights.  It became exceptionally clear that if I wanted to win something big, juicy and truly magnanimous by participating in this race …  I would need to do three things:

1. Run … more slowly.

2. Pause … embrace moments and collect memories.

3. Notice …  the unexpected magic along the way.

I’m sensing that my dream was a humbling metaphor for my very full, busy ‘follow your dreams’ life.  It strikes me that it is far too easy to confuse a ‘big, juicy and delicious life’ with a ‘busy, demanding and overwhelming life’In order for something to stir the soul … one needs time and space.  And when I get real with myself, I can see many places in my life where I have unwittingly traded depth for breadth.  And, when I get really real, I can see that I am weary.  I have been racing through my life at a ridiculous pace … claiming many dreams at the expense of missing other blessings that weren’t/aren’t on my radar.

And with this awareness, I have been seriously flirting with scaling back to a “one bite at a time” paceI remain entirely befuddled about how to actually operationalize that desire.  I have no clue how to prioritize my bites … and the fears of not being able to ‘do it all’ makes me edgy and uneasy in the most prickly ways.  My anxious mind warns me that, at my age, I am over the hill and on the home stretch.  If I don’t keep moving quickly, I am going to run out of time and miss out on the miracles. 

But … I am also open to the possibility that many ‘unexpected’ dreams, desires and delights will be surreptitiously tucked into a more slow and steady presence.  And, I want to leave enough space to savor them.  I really do.

Wish me luck and sweet dreams to all of you … Karen

 

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[Guest Post]: The Big Purge

I am re-blogging this exceptional post with oodles of enthusiasm because it has tickled and awakened the deepest part of my inner rebel … I just need to compassionately and gently shush my inner scaredy cat that wants to hold onto everything … just in case! I expect this will speak to so many others too!

BonneVivanteLife

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com under Creative Commons Image courtesy of Pixabay.com under Creative Commons

Hi. My name is Susanna, and I’m a recovering perfectionist. I’m also in the middle of a purge. My sister calls this a mid-life crisis. She’s wrong. She has no idea what I’m capable of. This? This is just a simple purge, a cleansing. I’ve decided a lot of things in the house must go. The living room furniture. The dining room set and china cabinet. And almost everything in the china cabinet. The china. The champagne flutes. The tea set. The lead crystal vases. The candlestick holders. (The cake stands stay. I love my cake stands.)

I need to get all these things out of the house because none of them are me, and all of this Not-Me is suffocating me. I need to get back to me. The formal dining room set with the china cabinet. The sofa and loveseat. The…

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What is Addiction … ?

THIS is such a critical shift in perspective! These three little minutes may alter the way you see it.  And when we ‘see’ the problem with new eyes … the solution looks very different than our current approach.

I’m committed to being part of the solution, Karen

Video

[Guest Post]: No, I’m Pretty Sure I Rank Higher

I just had to share this post … from a thoughtful and compassionate writer … who speaks from a heart that clearly listens with love. She wisely and kindly offers us an open invitation to consciously abandon our seemingly compelling need to ‘one up’ in a mindless, maladaptive effort to empathize … or … minimize another’s pain when are in the depths of despair ourselves.

If a sentence begins, “Well, at least YOU…” you can bet your sweet bippy that it is a comparison that aims to show the speaker in greater need or pain than the listener.

“Well, at least YOU know some of the people at the party. I don’t know anyone.”

“Well, at least YOU have a job to complain about. I can’t even find work.”

“Well, at least YOU have a kid who tries to get good grades. I can’t get mine to care.”

star winner2

You get the idea. There are some people who always seem to need to rank higher on any “scale” of life being discussed. Kristen Wiig’s Penelope character from Saturday Night Live is the queen of “one-upping”:

YOU WILL HAVE TO CLICK ON THIS LINK TO SEE THE VERY FUNNY VIDEO OF PENELOPE BECAUSE NBC AND WORDPRESS ARE MAKING MY LIFE DIFFICULT.

Most of us are not Penelopes…

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My Tributes: Better Because of You ...

The World is a Better Place Because of You … Fatemeh!

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Better Because … at 60 … I FELT it!!

Better Because … at 60 … I FELT it!!

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Better Because of Our Mornings Together …

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Better Because You chose Me …

I’d heard her name before. She and my bestie had met each other in class … there were both enrolled as mature students in the Social Work program offered through a nearby University.  The woman standing before me introduced herself as “Jody”.  She was direct … and … got right to the point. She was […]

Better Because You You Were There For Me … Thank You Marion!

Better Because You You Were There For Me … Thank You Marion!

With the jubilant joys of my 60th birthday celebrations starting to dim in the distance … imagine my surprise when I received a bright blue envelope via snail mail (aka: Canada Post.)  It was a greeting card from one of the people I had met and befriended decades ago while we were both living in […]

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