Tag Archives | healing

“Love Warrior,” a Memoir of Us All

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Glennon Doyle Melton’s clean yet clever writing style shows up fully dressed in her recent New York Times bestseller, “Love Warrior.” In it, she walks us through the journey of her return to self through her relationship with her husband, Craig.

I won’t spoil it for you, but I can tell you that this book is for you

– if you have ever felt abandoned by life, love, your body or self.

– if you’ve anesthetized or run away from pain through drugs, sex, perfection, disconnection.

– if you feel so deeply or care so much that you are prone to soaring heights and searing pain.

And if the term, “brutiful,” (coined by Glennon) perfectly describes life to you, then her life-telling style will resonate. Even if you don’t feel you have time or energy to read, because you are trudging through more “brutal” than “beautiful” these days, “Love Warrior” will nourish and heal as you consume.

And it will be delicious.

It will be so nourishing and delicious that you will have to periodically put it down to gasp for air, to savor the punch of flavors it brings out of you, to nosh on the robust chunks of “A-ha!” and “Gadzooks!” throughout.

Chef Glennon knows soul food.

Those of you who have loved or been frustrated by someone who’s struggled with any of the above will be able to see the warrior within yourself, as well. You will recognize your own frailties and be called to greater heights of compassion, as you peek behind the veil of your exasperator’s heart.

You get to see how an incidental heartbreaker, played here by Glennon’s husband, Craig, can also be a beautifully flawed human being, a hero-in-training. Through Glennon and Craig’s relationship, you learn how concentric our stories of victory can be with those who have hurt us by their own struggles.
“Love Warrior” is for the soul-searchers, survivors, internal-strugglers, and seekers of truth and healing.

That all said, “Love Warrior,” may not be for you if

– you’re looking for specific “how-to” instructions;

– you feel uncomfortable with people sharing intimate details of their lives; or

– you have no interest in anything non-technical or non-clinical.

If you enjoy food for thought by Brene Brown, Elizabeth Gilbert, Karen Salmansohn, and the like, Glennon’s ability to serve the complexities of life in palatable bites will hit the spot.

2

“To Be Or Not To Be” (On Contemplating Suicide)

ToBeOrNotToBe

(Photo Credit: BlueGum)

Suicide is not chosen; it happens when pain exceeds resources for coping with pain.” – David Conroy

This for those who feel isolated, hopeless, in despair.  This is also for all the survivors of a loved one lost to suicide, and for all the survivors of the personal fight won against it. If you are here, you are meant to receive this message. Please read it all the way through.

There were 2 more suicides last week by students from the same high school from where my kids graduated a few years ago. This brings the total to 8 in the past 4 years. Although I don’t know the children or their stories, I feel the heartbreak as a mother, and as a person who has contemplated it many times in her past.

I was not really prepared to write about this yet. I have focused on the lessons from my life experiences, but not the experiences themselves, as untangling a wad of barbed wire is not only messy and painful, but difficult to know where to even begin. But I’m more unprepared to do nothing for those still contemplating whether or not they should continue to be. So let me tell you my story, just enough for you to understand that you are not alone in your suffering. And that it will get better.

*     *     *

MY JOURNEY OF CONTEMPLATION

I was always sensitive. Since I had such a loving, happy upbringing, I mostly felt the positive side of that sensitivity. I didn’t understand the other side of it in time to intercept the kind of excruciation that begged for mercy. When mercy didn’t come (and it often didn’t), the only consolation I perceived to have, with a head bloated with agony, was the choice to end it all.

After my little brother, Dedrick, got killed walking home from school, I lost all ability to cope. I was 16, a particularly unfortunate age for dark emotions, and I made the first attempt to end my life with a bottle of pills one morning before school. The plan was to die at school so that my parents wouldn’t have to find my body; I couldn’t bear to further traumatize them with the image of their dead daughter’s body after the loss of their son.

That day, I was calm for the first time since my brother’s death. There was a sense of relief, of finality, of resolve that all the darkness and pain would soon end. I gave a friend a farewell note, with instructions on the front to not open it until the end of the day. But at the beginning of the next class, a teacher came to get me, and an ambulance was called to rushed me to the hospital.

I was saved, and remorseful for the quiet pain that I saw in my parents as they tried to be extra gentle and loving with me.

But the pain hadn’t left; in fact, it got worse. A year later, I would get into an abusive relationship with a man who could not stand me being happy. He knew how to hurt me, and I didn’t know how to ignore him when he said things like, “Your brother died because you’re a bad person.”

The things that I went through in the 10 years trapped in that relationship had me feeling suicidal every single day. It got so bad that at one point, I remember fearing that even my extreme love for my beautiful, innocent children would not be enough to save me.  I resorted to whatever I needed to do to keep myself from taking my own life, in the event that being with that man didn’t kill me after all. One tactic was closing myself in the closet, sitting and rocking on the floor with my arms hugging my knees tightly, pretending that I was in a straitjacket, so that I could not move or get out until the fragile moment passed.

I would finally escape the relationship, but my sorrows were not done. It would be another decade of fears for my children’s safety, and heartaches from betrayals and judgments by other people.

So even though I was completely out of the relationship, the familiar feelings of overwhelm, of what did I do to deserve this, and of things will never get better, allowed the thoughts of suicide to barge back in. Then my precious children, the most loving, kind, sweet children a mother could ever dream to have, manifested the pains of their childhood years as the storm of adolescence rolled in.

This in itself almost killed me. I felt like a horrible mother, and blamed myself for the mistakes I made in my life that planted the seeds of despair in my children. And throughout all this, I was surrounded by toxic people.

And so, I lost my way, this time, from the inside-out. I stopped believing in myself. And I had nothing to give to my children to assure them that everything was going to be alright. The thought of suicide revisited me. It is very difficult to feel the point of living when you feel like an utter failure, and this can not be more deeply felt than as a parent who cannot help her children in dire need.

I sat one day, head in my hands, reviewing my life, my shortcomings, my terrible choices. I then realized that even if my children had shortcomings, made terrible mistakes, I would love them and know that they are worthy. I had to give this to myself, as well; how could they understand or believe it otherwise?

THE TRANSFORMATION

I forgave myself, as I would want my children to forgive themselves, to release self-blame, self-hatred, feelings of unworthiness. Then, I cleaned house.

  1. I cut out anything and anyone who did not honor or respect me. This was my defining act of self-respect, of placing boundaries, of breaking free from the chains of guilt and helplessness: my family, my in-laws, and more recently, my long-time BFF – all were fair game.
  2. I focused on love, not fear, specifically, love of myself and love of my children, the people I knew were unquestioningly deserving of it. This gave me direction and helped me disengage with drama mamas and downers.
  3. I gave to givers, not takers. This taught me to say “No” to users, so that I could preserve my generous, open heart for those who deserved it. It also gave me a sense of control of justice, which was lacking in my life throughout those trying years.
  4. I fed myself all things positive, from what I read and watched, which in turn transformed my thoughts and emotions and raised my overall well-being.
  5. I surrounded myself with only positive and genuine people. This changed my world from the outside-in, and rounded off the cycle to where I am today.

Oftentimes, we don’t understand the difficult things we go through. It seems so senseless, sometimes unnecessarily horrible. Why did my brother have to die? Why did I ever meet that cruel person? Why did my kids have to still struggle, when they were the most innocent?

Before my brother’s death, my father said someone who had strong intuitions had told him that when his daughter died, there would be a long line of people to pay respects, as far as the eye could see. In the nearly 20 years of hell that ensued, alone and hopeless, I had moments when I remembered that prediction, and I could not understand why she would say something so grossly wrong. I “knew” was going to die in that relationship. There was no hope for me, no way out; my life was over.

Had I followed through with that agenda, I would not be here now, writing to you to let you know that I made it. I wouldn’t be able to understand what you’re going through. I am writing from a positive place, but not disconnected from understanding that very dark, heavy, draining, hopeless place. I remember out of love for those who are going through it now. Yes, that includes you. I could not do this or feel this way had I not experienced it first.

Today, I am happy and stronger than ever, and have so much love in my life. If I had successfully ended my life back then, my children’s lives would have been destroyed. My little one, 6 today, would not have been born. All the people I have touched and eventually will come in contact with will have one less person to help and love them. It keeps growing, the goodness. Whether or not I have that long line of mourners after I move on, I live my life now with the joy of overflow in my heart, and it is a life well-lived.

I know you may not see this for yourself at this moment, and it’s understandable – you have valid reasons for feeling stuck. Keep in mind: you are just in a place right now where your pain exceeds your resources. You may also be in the wrong company. And your spirit is starving for positive nourishment and connection, which you may not be able to find within your circle. In fact, it is highly unlikely, because in the great big world, your circle is tiny. Venture for change.

YOUR FIRST STEPS INTO THE LIGHT

If I have one thing to recommend that you do, to start, it would be to surround yourself with GENUINE, positive, forward-moving people. Cut out all negative and otherwise unsupportive ones. It’s not being stuck-up, as I once used to think, to not allow such people in your life, even if they say they’re your friends, even if they are your family. You will heal and grow exponentially if you seriously change this part of your life, because the genuine, positive people will expose you to a lot of the other things that you need, and in your transformation, you will fill in the rest.

“Well if that’s the rule, why would these people want to hang out with me?” The genuine ones will not judge you. They will see that you want to be better, and they will want to increase the goodness in the world, and so help you. When you get to that stage in life, and you will if you keep going, you will also know who to help and who to let be.

“Where do I find them? I don’t feel like going out and meeting people.” I totally get it. I started by searching for answers through books and the internet. I found online groups of positive-minded people who were passionate, and realized the impact of being with the right people. They can’t just be “nice” – that can be a misleading 4-letter word. They have to be open, authentic, willing to be vulnerable, want to go places in life, and seek to help others.

The friends I’ve made online, I consider some of my best friends now – even though I haven’t met them because they are across the world. Now I have a compelling reason to travel!

LIFE CARDS

Life may deal you some seriously shitty hands—I know it did to me. But here are some “magic cards” for you to memorize and slap on the table anytime the hand gets particularly full of it:

Magic Ace: You are worthy, completely and unconditionally. Anything else that anyone tells you is a lie that you’ve been subscribing to. Surround yourself with positive, kind people who do not believe nor sell this distorted program. And get out of your own way – be a loyal fan of your highest self: Cheer loudly.

Magic Jack: You are a good person. You are simply at a stage where you feel lost and confused. Bad people never want to commit suicide; they lack a conscience required to have the kind of guilt and pain that comes with a suicidal mindset. You care so much that it hurts. That’s because, even through your mistakes, you are good person.

Magic Queen: You are loved. Even if it seems like your parents don’t care, or that your teachers don’t understand, or that you don’t have a single real friend, the truth is, you are loved. Sometimes, the people whom you wish to show you love are also at a place of struggle, where they don’t have the resource or ability to give you what you need. And sometimes they do, but when you are in such emotional pain, it is hard to see anything but a version of your pain, which reflects off of everything and everyone.

I don’t even know you, but when I thought about you in writing this post, I broke down and cried for you several times. It is because I understand your pain, and the thought of you going through what I went through hurts my heart deeply. So I write this from a place of immense love. Imagine how much love the people in your actual life have for you.

Magic King: Your pain is not your destiny; it is your preparation to help others. Your story is not over. You are just getting prepared for something greater than you can see. You are in boot camp, so keep going; when you get to the other side, you will find yourself stronger and more resourceful than you ever imagined. And then, pay it forward.

*     *     *

It was a long process for me to get to where I am today – it didn’t happen overnight. And it was grueling. Lots of loneliness, lots of fear, lots of doubt. But it was worth the fight. IT IS WORTH THE FIGHT.

Much Love,
Yazminh

Recommended: “Out of the Nightmare: Recovery from Depression and Suicidal Pain” – David L. Conroy, Ph.D.

17

Surviving Death

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(Photo Credit: Uploaded by ZaNuDa)

What does it feel like to suddenly lose someone you love?

Like when my friend, in her first pregnancy, asked me what childbirth felt like, I have no words to accurately depict what one goes through in such an event.  But unlike childbirth, experiencing the death of someone close to you can be predictably said, across the board, to be some degree of excruciation.

Over the past 25 years, I have been on the other side of grief: I have seen people lose their loved ones, and I’ve remarked on how they displayed such a  civilized mourning.  They silently suffered, or gracefully grieved, and then they picked up the pieces, careful not to cut themselves in the process.  I would stand back and witness such functionality with awe.

When my brother died, there was no grace in my family’s grieving, we did not send him gently into that goodnight, and the casualty was 5 out of 1.  I’m sure there were people around trying to support us – I remember the mountain of flowers and wreaths piled upon his mound after the funeral.  And cards.  So many cards from people we didn’t even know.  In retrospect, we had a lot of kind people in our community that reached out to us, although we were a close-knit family that kept to ourselves.

But what I remember most was death (I had developed a heightened awareness of death and its potential triggers), fear (everywhere I turned, the ambush of sudden death threatened to strike again), pain (more pain than all the Catholic lectures about hell had me imagine), confusion (there is nothing as disorienting as having to replace every pore of your existence where your beloved once occupied, with nothing; this is absolutely outrageous to the psyche).

How much fear, pain, and confusion one experiences following a loss may vary, but for us, there was just such a dastardly amount that:

my father’s successful construction business folded;
my parents’ once-happy marriage dissolved;
my parents lost their house;
my solid father lost his way;
my fractured mother started losing her mind;
my young, surviving brother got into gangs;
I attempted suicide numerous times, and ended up in an abusive relationship that would take a decade to escape, and nearly another one to completely be free from.

It took us 20 years, each in his/her own hell, to finally start healing.  20 years.  I know this is not normal.  Nothing has been normal for my family since my brother died, and we were knocked so out of orbit that we did not know how to regain footing.  We were spinning, and everyone saw our spinning.  Some tried to help, but many moved away because they didn’t know what to do with a spinning person.

Then we stopped spinning on the outside, but inside, we had still not found equilibrium.  We walked around, each going our separate ways, in feigned normalcy.  If people got close enough, they could hear the whirring of fear, death, pain, confusion.   It scared some, disdained some, and made us easy targets for yet others.

But our season in grief, though long and relentless, has finally passed.  We have survived, albeit in pieces as a family, but individually, fortified.

In retrospect, clearly, we went about it all wrong.  I cannot, however, beat down that broken-spirited family further by blaming them for dying.  We loved so deeply and thoroughly, and grieved accordingly.  Grief, after all, is a story about love.

Yes, I can find the meaning and purpose for my brother’s death, or rather, the role it played in who and where I am today.  But would I go through it again to learn the lessons?  Unless it is part of my story to save the world, no.

It is not even worth having gone through it once unless it could be turned into something positive, healing, to help others, and to restore grace to our own lives.

And so, here I am.

12

The Deception of Facts

Although meant to be comical, my last post showed how our past experiences, the “evidences” from which we place a value for making future decisions, can affect the quality of our lives, because it affects how we respond to the world.

I grew up in a very Catholic, somewhat Americanized, Asian household = belief in the fair gamut of the unscientific.  My best friend grew up in a non-religious, very traditional Asian household = maybe some superstitions but nothing with conviction.  She went into the very scientific world of medicine; I went into the possibilities gateway of education (before I meandered onto the threshold of Where Dreams Come True, where I presently stand).

Throughout the years, we’ve each experienced traumatic events that have affected some of our beliefs today, whether on a conscious or unconscious level, and thus, have affected some of our actions and decisions accordingly.

I will share more of my story as we go along, but I want you to consider what life events happened to you that may be the source of why you do the things you do, or the source of your fears in life: what things were you told, did you witness, were you taught to “never forget” in order to be safe/loved/worthy?

Know that those messages of guilt-guided obligations, those lessons of yesteryear’s fear factors, are FALSE.

This is not to say that there is no truth in the past, but that the past has no weight-bearing truth in the present; it only bears the amount of weight today that you allow it to.  Worse, the further you carry it, the more the weight fuses into you: you shape your arm muscles around this giant rock, and they stiffen, fossilize so you can keep hanging on to it as seamlessly as possible.  And you agonize and blame the journey for being so difficult, slow, uneventful, unfortunate, all while voluntarily carrying this load.

Well, LET IT GO.

Let it go, and take a stretch.  Things might hurt a little, feel a little funky, but what do you expect—you’ve been carrying this tremendous burden, hunchbacked and gnarl-knuckled, for all this time!   Feeling strange – it’s good, particularly if the familiar was not good.  Stretch your arms wide and high towards the sky.   Lift up your chin to the light.  Take a slow, deep, delicious breath.

That is you,
coming back to life,
disbelieving facts,
having faith.

Welcome home.

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