A Deeper Call to Being Child-Free

child-within.jpg

Artist: Katie m. Berggren

I knew from the age of 4 that I did not want to have children. “I’m going to have puppies!” was my declaration when someone imposed their kid-wanting assumptions on me, when I was just a kid myself (why do people do that?). Throughout my childhood, I didn’t like dolls and preferred stuffed animals. It is believed that children hold the most genuine of truths, so I am happy to say that 40 years later, I have no regrets about being  child-free.

Throughout my teen and early adult years, the desire to have children did not present itself. “But what if you regret not having kids?” was the common response I received from others. As I grew older, I kept my mind open to the idea that I might meet the right person who would pull this maternal desire out of me. But that never happened. Except for two situations that lasted about a week, I never came up against a desire to have kids.

One of the situations where I did, was after a painful and disappointing relationship ended. I was in my late 20’s and believed that I had so much love to give, and needed to give it to someone who needed it. As I said before this lasted for about a week. I realized that, for me, this wasn’t a good enough reason to have kids. This belief was simply another co-dependent belief akin to my preexisting beliefs of: “if I only had the right relationship (job, home, lifestyle, etc.) then I will be whole and happy.” I think I knew then that replacing a baby for a relationship just wasn’t the answer.

As I look back, I am so glad I never became a mother. I know myself too well. I love my freedom and free-time. I cringe when it comes to unsolicited obligation and hate stopping what I’ve started. I know most people do, but when I have to sacrifice these things, I become depressingly miserable.

More importantly, I believe my life’s journey has been about growing and healing myself to the point that I truly needed to know how to mother myself. A few years ago, when I mentioned my decision to be child-free to a woman (that I have a lot of respect for), she replied with “You were too hurt”. I was immediately angry inside as my brain scrambled as if I had been clocked in the head. I didn’t know how to respond, and I didn’t want to ask for clarification. Now I know what she meant. This part of me that was hurt has always been here and wasn’t going to make room for anyone else, and I respect that. This hurt part in me needed me to be its mother, and being a mother to anyone else was not going to work.

I am grateful for my 20-something self that knew I couldn’t solve my heartbreak with a baby. There was a wisdom there that would reveal more of itself later. Yes, I do have so much love to give, and yes, there is someone who needs it. That person in need is myself, and I have more than enough on my plate when I take on that task.

Am I saying that you can’t mother yourself if you have kids? Absolutely not. I know many women who do a lot of inner-healing while raising children. Am I saying that every child-free person has a deep pain that needs healing? Definitely not. The decision to be child-free is an individual one, and I can only speak for myself. I have no desire to have children and  I truly believe that my decision to be child-free was born from a deep need for something else. There was a core place in me that was screaming for care, and needed all of me to attend to that care. Truth be told, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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You are More Than Your Experiences, Feelings, and Thoughts

truth

It took approximately 41 years for me to understand that I am not my experiences, my feelings, or my thoughts.

Up until then, I truly believed that my experiences revealed to me, and everyone around me, the essence of who I was. Failed endeavors proved that I was a failure. Broken relationship proved that I was unlovable. Poor decisions proved that I was incompetent.

This belief system primed me for believing that everything I thought and felt was also a description of me. “I’m a loser”, “I suck at __________”, “I will never be able to ___________”. Everything was a muddled mess of negative thoughts and perceptions about seemingly negative experiences. The process of pulling them apart was gradual, painful, and untimely liberating.

Psychologically speaking, I was living from a place of Cognitive Distortion aka Unhealthy Thinking Patterns. There are several common Cognitive Distortions, that most people use. For example: “Blaming” others (“You hurt my feelings”), and thinking in “Shoulds” (I really should go to the gym”) are super common, however, living from these places in a chronic way that impairs your happiness and/or relationships, is sign that you may need support in breaking out of these thinking patterns (see above).

Other common Cognitive Distortions are:

Filtering
Seeing only the negative and can include magnifying the negative.

“Black and White” Thinking
Seeing thing as either/or, for example: good or bad, worthy or not worthy, fair or unfair.

Overgeneralization
Making a general conclusion based on a single piece of evidence.

Jumping to Conclusions
Assuming we know what someone is thinking, or going to do. Assuming we know hat is going to happen. Usually doing so based on past experience or from a place of fear.

Personalization
Believing that what others do or say is a reaction to them. For example: A friend is in a bad mood and you think it has something to do with you. Personalization can also be compare ourselves to others trying to determine self worth.

Emotional Reasoning
Believing what we feel must be true. “I feel stupid, so I must be stupid.”

Being able to identify what kind of Cognitive Distortion you are having is the first step in changing the habit. How can you change what you can’t even name, right? Knowing that my funky thinking actually had a name helped me understand that it was a common enough pattern to be categorized and written about. In other words, it wasn’t just me.

Simply challenging these Cognitive Distortions was’t enough for me thought. I had to dig deep, and do a lot of emotional healing through re-parenting. Although I still have these thoughts from time to time (as I said, most people do), they are no longer behind the wheel, driving my life into a pit every change it could get.

For more more examples of Cognitive Distortions: visit: http://psychcentral.com/lib/15-common-cognitive-distortions/

If you are finding that these thinking styles are negatively impacting your life. I highly encourage you to hire a counselor, or purchase any workbook for depression, self-esteem, or anxiety, or do an online search for: “challenging cognitive distortions” to yield several resources. One I really find helpful is: http://healthypsych.com/psychology-tools-challenging-cognitive-distortions/

Curiosity May Have Killed the Cat…

…but Curiosity saved my life.

Not too long ago, I asked my boyfriend a question. He responded with an eye roll and agitation that implied “That’s a stupid question.” I immediately felt a heavy and dull pressure in my heart. My brain went fuzzy and I felt dizzy. This scenario is nothing new.

One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone eye-rolls something I’ve said with the implication that my question is stupid. And yes, it is possible to eye-roll verbally.

So when this incident happened, and I began to feel that familiar dull pressure, I thankfully had enough energy to sit with my inner kid/self. I began to dialogue with her and checked-in with what she was feeling and what she wanted. It felt like a long slow process. I was really uncomfortable and had to consciously breathe a lot whenever that dull and heavy pressure emerged again. It was tempting to stop, but I realized that I could either dialogue with myself, or talk to my boyfriend about what just happened, knowing full well that it could lead to an argument. So I chose to stay present, compassionate, and patient with the hurt part of myself.

Through this dialogue, I asked my hurt child self: “Why did his reaction hurt you?”

Her reply: “Because I just asked a question. I am a curious! I like asking questions!”

“You are curious! I love that about you! So, what do you want?”

“I want to be able to say things without being yelled at.”

“Ah! Well you know what? You’ll have that. You’ll have that with me. And when you don’t get that from others, I’ll be here for you.”

As soon as I said those words, it was like she beamed with happiness. “Really?” she said, with a “I get to have that?!?” sound to her voice. She was so happy. What was a bonus, was that instantly, the heavy and dull pressure on my heart lifted. I thanked her for her words and honesty.

When I opened my eyes  and came back into the present, I felt lighter. My boyfriend’s reactions no longer mattered and I could move on in the knowing that my curiosity was valid and needed no justification from or to anyone.

After processing this with my therapist and sponsor, I realized that my curiosity was an aspect of me that I lost connection with a long time ago. I lost it when I was a young adult trying to survive in the world. For me, trying to survive meant that I needed to walk a rigid path towards stability and predictability. This required that I take as few risks as possible. There was no room for curiosity.

Whelp, flash forward to my late 30’s and that rigid path led to a breakdown (that’s what happens with rigid things, they break). Through my healing journey I learned that when I surrender my control, I open up to possibilities that I couldn’t see because of my clinging to rigidity.

Surrendering and understanding that I don’t have the answers was a major task. It required a willingness to try. This willingness to try required being curious. So, I began the journey of walking an unpaved landscape full of endless possibilities with a “let’s see” attitude. Some things were great, other not so much. Along the way I learned what a Higher Power meant for me, and my faith and trust began to grow. Had I not been willing to be curious, things would have been much harder.

Even now, if  am really stressed, my perception narrows and I begin to believe that I can control the situation and make it better. What’s different is that I am not consumed by these moments. The intensity has lessened, and more often than not, I remember to surrender. I practice self-care, reach out for support, and re-connect with my Higher Power.

So I understand why my boyfriend gets frustrated when I ask seemingly stupid questions. If you haven’t surrendered the illusion of control, then curiosity is scary and threatening, especially in times of stress. I want to be clear that I’m not saying that it’s okay for him to be dismissive of me. What I am saying is that I have taken the focus off of him, and brought it back to me. In doing this I am able to get clear on what I need, and can approach him from a grounded place in myself.

Re-connecting with my curiosity has felt blissful and loving, as if seeing an old friend for the first time in decades. My curiosity feels integrated and I am beginning to understand that once you integrate a part of yourself, you are less likely to compromise it.

Normal Reactions to Abnormal Expereinces

When I began to learn about Attachment Theory in school, I felt a familiar language being spoken. Although I have been consciously growing and healing these last 4 years, I was unaware that the process that I was going through actually had a name. To learn that the process in which I have been understanding myself actually has a theory attached to it was quite comforting to me.

It’s easy to pathologist someone as depressed, anxious, co-dependent, etc. I think it’s important for many people to have an understanding that these behaviors, emotions, and reactions are normal given their early childhood experiences. Many circles call this “having a normal reaction to abnormal events”. When I first heard this, I remember feeling seen, heard, and as a result – validated. My reactions were debilitating me, but in hearing this I realized that I wasn’t inherently defected. Instead, I realized that I had lost my way because I was given a faulty road map.

This video for the Still Face Experiment is a snap shot of how our parents, caretakers, and guardians interactions with us shapes how we react to them, the world, and in turn ourselves. A mother staring blankly back at a child represents a mother not responding to the infants cues. In daily life, parents and caretakers easily miss infant cues when the adult is busy, stressed, traumatized, addicted, or in any other way distracted or unable to. Being fully present to an infant 100% of the time is impossible, however, the more an infant’s cues are misread or unread, the more the infant will adopt a stressful reaction. This can lead to a sense of worthlessness (“I don’t matter”) and/or helplessness (“I don’t like asking for what I need”) and a myriad of other issues as the child grows and seeks to be seen.

In my case, I grew up in a large family. My parents were raised in physically abusive homes and neither received much affection. Although I did not experience physical abuse from them, my family didn’t know how to connect on emotionally healthy levels. There was a lot of blame, teasing, and criticism; and if I was hurt, it was because I brought it upon myself. Because my parents worked long hours, I was handed off to whoever could take care of me at the moment. My older sister says that when my mother would return from work, she would hand me off to her and I would turn my back towards my mother in a subtle resistance of going to her. I can image that as an infant, I probably experienced a lot of guessing if my needs were going to be met, and how to go about signalling for it.

I think it’s important to add that I’m not seeking to blame parents or caretakers. In your healing journey, you may experience anger towards those who raised you. I think this is normal and healthy. However, being stuck in blame and resentment can be unhealthy and how long you need to feel this way is different for everyone. My hope is that at some point, you will grow a space in yourself that can make peace with the past, understand that you are not flawed, and learn to be kind, loving, and nurturing to yourself.

Right Now

A couple of weeks go I was under such stress that I actually felt my hair and eyes strained. All I wanted was to stay home and sleep and cry. However I can’t do that. I have a job to go to, clients to see, paperwork that has a deadline, homework to read, and classes to go to. So I took it as slow as I could and booked a massage. By the end of the week I was beginning to feel slightly grounded again.

As the weekend took place, I experienced another stressful event. My typical response is to shut down, which serves me and hinders me. In light of that, I have started to practice what it’s like to be present in these kinds of moments. Last weekend, I did both. I went to bed and the next morning left home early to practice self-care. When I came home to decompress, I began to have a panic attack.

Having talked to a few support people earlier, I remembered their words. “What do you need right now?”. This was my mantra throughout the attack and each time I asked, I gave myself what I needed in that moment. I made small efforts such as sitting up, bundling up, breathing out, and so on. It was hard to talk, so allowing for no conversation was helpful too. As the day went on the anxiety slowly released.

Although the slow and small steps were important, the biggest help came from asking myself “What do I need right now?”. I have asked myself this question throughout the rest of the week, as I am still decompressing from the stress of the lats 2 weeks. I think this is a good question to ask myself in any situation, When I ask myself “What do I need right now?”, I am not only practicing self-care. I am also practicing how to re-parent myself.

Feeling Your Feelings – Revisited

One of the exercises I am often told to do is to “be with the feeling”. When I first started doing this I remember being a little scared and confused. “How do you do that?!? What do you mean?!? I’m always feeling!” Since my main emotions were usually depressed and anxious, to be with these feelings meant to be consumed by them. What I learned was that by being still, and locating the feeling in my body, I allow myself to feel, let the feelings cycle through, and ultimately give myself love and compassion. Yet even knowing this, it was a tough balance trying to feel my feelings and not spiral into an episode.

In the past 2 years I have identified my feelings and felt them through. No matter how painful, I did this out of the simple goal of giving myself love and compassion. No matter what the feeling, I know it’s okay to experience what I am in any given moment. Putting that inner critic aside that says “What the hell is your problem?” or “Oh what a big baby you are!” can be difficult, especially when the emotions are intense. These critical statements are what I was told by the adults around me when I was a child.

What our parents and/or caretakers tell us is what we tell ourselves. These words that we tell ourselves feel as normal as the air we breathe. When we work to replace these critical words with words of compassion and understanding, it can feel like a lie. But, with practice, we slowly find ourselves forming a new pattern of normal. However, in times of stress, we go back to what we unconsciously know as old “normal”. Breaking this pattern and replacing those old critical voices with comforting ones takes work, and sometimes can feel like a tall order. For myself, I have noticed a difference.  There is a lessening of my critical voice, and my compassionate voice has become stronger. Sometimes my compassionate voice will even often allow my critical voice have its say with the understanding that this is an old habit, from an old wounding.

Last week, I was talking to my interim therapist about my persistent feelings of loneliness. She asked me to be still and experience this feeling in my body. Where do I feel it in my body? How does it feel? What does it look like? This exercise was familiar to me, but this time she asked me to do one thing I hadn’t done before. She said “Set your story about the feeling aside, and feel what it’s like in you body”. Set my story aside? As I sat with the feeling of loneliness, I could hear my story about loneliness fading in and out of my mind. I would begin to hear the story and remind myself to set it aside. As I did this, I realized that this is exactly what my meditation practice is like.

In meditation, I start by focusing on my breath. When I begin to notice my mental chatter I lovingly acknowledge it, set it aside, and refocus on my breath. In this new (for me) “being with my feelings” instead of focusing on my breath, what I am focusing on is, my body sensation. When I notice my story to the feeling creeping in, I lovingly acknowledge it, and refocus on the body sensation. This exercise is one of giving yourself the space, time, and love. It is the loving act of re-parenting yourself.

I should note here that the goal of being with your feelings isn’t to eliminate them. It is to show your self-love and compassion in the knowing that you are a spiritual being having a human experience. Setting aside the story associated to that feeling is a completely different experience that merely allowing yourself to feel. If you haven’t tried it yet, I encourage you to give it a try. Ideally with an easy/less intense emotion if this is your first time and/or unfamiliar with meditation.

Re-Parenting and Roller Derby

Wednesday was Day 1 of Roller Derby Boot Camp (RDBC) and I was nervous as all hell.

The car accident 2 days prior left me with small concussion, cranial muscle tension, and slight bruising on my chest. I was pretty sure I was going to have to sit RDBC out and I was angry and frustrated and began to feel like a beautiful possibility was being taken from me.

So I went to My Doctor who confirmed the muscle tension and released me to practice “as tolerated.” Okay, so now it’s on, and I am still nervous. My skating skills are mediocre at best.

I can skate forward if I hold onto something and push-off.

I can skate around a rink with fluctuating confidence.

That’s it.

I don’t know how to cross over, start from a stopped position, or stop. That’s why I practices so much over these last couple weeks at the local rink.

At work just before leaving to practice, I had to have a conversation with myself reminding me that I am exactly where I need to be and I am building up for where I am now. I am not going to compare myself to others, but I will be inspired by them. I will not take harsh direction as personal criticism but see it as a gauge of what is desired. I will listen to what I need and challenge myself in ways that are best for my safety, physical health, and progress in the best way I know.

I left work 45 minutes early just to make sure I got there on time, but that didn’t help. There was major traffic getting there which landed me 30 minutes late to the rink after getting geared up. My heart was racing, my head was loopy, and I stood at the edge of the brightly taped surface that is  to be out “rink” where the majority of the team was in the middle of drills.

One of our trainers began yelling at the four of us who came in late, “Why are you late!?! This is NOT acceptable. There is no good excuse. It’s disrespectful to the team and your teammates have been on the rink for 30 minutes. THIS IS NOT OKAY! If you aren’t committed and serious then don’t waste my time!”

I heard her and understood what she was saying, but paid no mind. Sure it rattled me for the first 15 seconds, but then I remembered that I made the effort to be there early, was just in a car accident, and got checked out by a doctor to be sure I could still be there. In my opinion, I have no scent of irresponsibility or inconsiderateness on my hands.

As I stood watching the other members do their laps, I could hear my heart race in nervousness from the frantic suiting up I just did and the yelling that just happened. I took deep breaths and remembered that I did nothing wrong, (in looking back what I was doing being my own loving parent) and that I was going to begin from where I am at, not compare myself to others, and proceed at a pace that builds on where I am at. I will listen to what I need and challenge myself at the right level. After the other members did two laps I waddled my way in and just let myself get comfortable with being in new gear, on skates, on a new surface, and surrounded my at least 25 other female skaters of various levels.

After a few minutes, I was feeling a bit more comfortable, but still clumsy in my ability to stand from a sitting position, stop without grabbing onto something, and start from pushing off my stopper.

After a few drill on falling and stopping, I realized that I was now doing things like standing up from down position much easier, and pushing off my stopper to start skating AND stopping a bit easier using my stopper or pivoting out my skate to turn around to a stop. Oh damn these were accomplishments for me. I guess I had no choice but to do them since we were moving along the drills quickly.

So Day 1 of Roller Derby Boot Camp was a success. I definitely tapped into my own support system (nurturing parent) and allowed myself to be where I am and push myself harder into things I wasn’t sure I could do. Even though there is  yelling from the trainers, tales of injury, and consequences of not following rules, I still feel like it’s a safe place to be challenged in getting out of my comfort zone. I can see that the trainers say what they say out of concern for our safety and optimal progress potential.

When I go t the warehouse for RDBC, I was a nervous mess, but when I left the warehouse on cloud nine and ready to take the next steps. I know that other members there are ahead of me and that some members will advance faster than me, but I am not them and they are not me. I just want to advance to the best me. In actuality, all I wanted was to survive Day 1, and I did.

Your Children Are Not Yours

I heard about this poem this week and I think it explains so beautifully the real relationship between parents and children.

On Children
 Kahlil Gibran

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

In ACA you learn that your parents are merely a vehicle through which you were born and that your true parent is your Higher Power (what ever that means to you). In other words, your parents are not your real parents. Why is this important to understand?

We are born with no understanding of an “other”. What we experience and the world around us are one. As we grow older we begin to form an ego (identity) and the concept of an “other” begins to take shape. We also begin to believe that power is outside of us and we live our days according to who has that power (parents, guardian, teachers, older siblings, God, etc.).

As children we also learn who we are from the people who raised us. Am I good? Lazy? Bad? Stupid? Smart? Creative? Not worthy of your time? Worth your time? Our identity is the created according to who raised us and what we were taught about us and we become adults living from that script, even if we make certain that we will never be like “them”. We live life from the identity of a false self.

It is a false self because we are not our parents (or any one else for that matter). Likewise, for parents, your children are not your children. The goal then is to re-member who you are by taking the journey back into your true self.

According to David Richo; There are five things (The 5 A’s) each child needs in order to maintain a true identity:

  • Attention to them and their feelings
  • Accepting them for who they are
  • Being appreciated and valued
  • Affection
  • Allowing them to develop in their own way

When I saw this list I almost cried. The only thing I received was affection, and even then it was rare or typically happened when my dad was drinking. Why is it important to know this? Because it allows be to continue to shed the myth that “Something is wrong with me”. I am not “wrong” or “broken”. I am simply someone who lived under a false self, like my parents did, and their parents, did, and so on, and so on.

The more I re-parent myself the more I give myself the five A’s, the more I heal those old stories and debunk those old myths. and I go further in my journey back to my true self.

Integration of the Critical Parent

In Saturdays I usually go to an ACA Re-Parenting group/meeting. It’s more of a free form processing group with minimal structure vs. a workshop model. We read Chapter 8 (Re-Parenting) of ACA’s Big Red Book and share our experiences, voice our concerns or struggles, and try an exercise in re-parenting if one should be suggested. We also have a crayons, markers, and colored pencils if the need to create something strikes out fancy.

I usually get something out of each of these meetings and usually when it’s someone else processing something. It’s so much easier to see the bigger picture on others, and when I do, I can then integrate it easier for myself. 

Last Saturday was no exception. In our reading, it stood out to me that one of the goals of re-parenting is to integrate (not eliminate) the critical parent. When I read this I felt a bit of a burden lifted from and the journey or re-parenting feels less painstaking. What does an integrated critical parent look like? Dunno yet. I still have to read more of Chapter 8.

I always knew my critical parent as very judgmental. It was the old family story that would yell out in times of stress and doubt. “What are you, stupid?”, “Who do you think you are?”, “You can’t do that!” What I didn’t know was that the critical parent is also present when you compare yourself to others and when you gossip. 

Another note on integration, I tend to understand things in my head first, then later in my heart. During the time in between, I feel imbalanced. When I understand it in my head, I easily judge myself (critical parent). Once I understand something in my heart, I am able to be compassionate with myself and I feel more integrated. Funny thing is that in regards to action, it’s the reverse. When things come up that throw me off, I need emotional support first, then I can I move onto practical support and action.

Release

Yesterday I talked to, what I believe is, the last legal/financial mind I’ll be speaking with regarding this lawsuit. For the first time since I opened that letter, I felt a sense of release in an option that I was resisting for the last three years. Bankruptcy.

I have had a stigma about bankruptcy since I first heard the term. When this financial situation reared its head three years ago (due to one big ill investment), I was determined to pay off my debt. Year after year I would draft a plan to pay things off and year after year another situation would come up (owing more taxes than expected, medical bills, etc.) to throw my plan off track. I’d be back at the drawing board knowing full well that any tightly sealed plan I could conceive of would be subject to the unexpected diversion. Basically my “paid in full” date kept moving father and farther away from me.  

Talk about feeling like a failure. My debt and how I thought about it caused me many sleepless nights, many judgemental conversations with myself such as “you are so stupid, irresponsible.Why do you deserve anything good if you’ll just fuck it up.” I felt forced to stay with my job and career (which is no longer what I want to do) because it paid enough to make payments. I also forced myself to make the difficult decision of moving back to my sister’s just so I could pay off bills. The option of filing for bankruptcy was out of the question. I made my bed and I was going to lie in it.

This real life scenario is an example of me reacting and living from a place of wounding. As I have said here before, I always felt alone, so therefore I felt like I had to deal with my problems alone. Problem is, when I do that, I am operating within my limited knowledge of issues (no matter how much I do my research) and from an emotional place. 

Because I knew so little about bankruptcy, I had fears and judgments about it, which made it not an option. What has shifted now is that I kept myself open to possibility even if I couldn’t see it. I reached out to people for advice, and along the way kept collecting information. I advocated for myself as much as I could and looked for people who could advocate for me when I was unable to (even if that meant just hearing me complain in times of feeling hopeless). I prayed to affirm my connection to life itself and handed over my need for control, over and over again. In times of feeling unable to see possibility, I vented.

So here I am about to start the process of filing for bankruptcy. It is an option that feels like the right thing to do. It embodies the act of me saying “Okay, I hand it over. I’ve tried to do it in my controlling way and it’s not working. Here, you take it.”

 It’s so easy for me to go back and beat myself up for not doing it sooner. Had I gone this route three years ago, I would have saved so much money, and time, and had less stress. I wouldn’t have had to move back to Salinas, and I might have been able to keep my apartment. I go back and forth between moments of being judgmental about not doing it sooner and being compassionate towards myself. I didn’t know then what I know now. At that time, I was not doing the kind of inner work I’m doing now. I was operating from an old habit then.

Strangely enough, I’m able to look at the lawsuit differently now. It really tore me up emotionally when I started out trying to figure out what to do with it. Now, it looks like a gift that forced me to push myself into a decision that is better for me. I can make myself suffer very well by the decisions I make, and I am learning that I don’t need to do that.

I start the bankruptcy process this week and if all goes well, this will be a he burden lifted from me. I am so use to having this debt as a part of me that it’s hard to imagine not having it. There is a bit of internal freaking out going on. That part of me that I call the punisher (ego?) is really freaking out and feels like its saying “Wait! Wait! That’s my job! That’s where I live! You can’t take that away from me! Where will I go? What will I do?” And to it I say “Oh dear punisher, there will be plenty to do and there’s plenty to work with. Have you ever considered taking a vacation?”

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