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Birthdays of My Dad and My Father

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Dad’s birthday is today; gone now nearly 5 years, he would be turning 92.

He hated Christmas.  Apparently his birthday was forgotten every year in the midst of Christmas preparations when he was growing up.  The pain of being forgotten never seemed to leave him.  He would not allow us to put up a tree until his birthday had passed, and even then did so grudgingly.

I know now Dad’s Christmas experience is only a tiny window into his life story. More

Exposing Skeletons in the Closet

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With Halloween around the corner, ghoulish decorations are beginning to pop up alongside gargantuan pumpkins, bumpy gourds, and colorful leaves.

A plastic skeleton swinging in the wind recently reminded me of the saying about keeping skeletons in the closet.

My closet is no stranger to skeletons. Some have represented things done to me, others symbolized things I’ve done. Shame and fear were the hinges on my closet doors. Strong and secure, they kept my secrets tucked in the dark.

Or so I thought. More

Journeys of Healing & Discovery

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When I started my road to recovery, I felt incredibly alone.  My circle of friends at that time were not interested in things like feeling pain, speaking truth, or self-reflection. Who could blame us, really?

I had myself tightly knit with people who lived in denial, thus allowing me the freedom to do the same.  I didn’t even realize the cocoon I lived in until I took several steps away. It felt natural, and safe.  Little did I know just how wrong I was…

Joining the blogging community has been such a completely different experience.  I’ve found so many people who are interested in growth and healing of all sorts.  Some from physical issues, others from emotional, mental, or spiritual ones.  My own journey of healing and recovery was catapulted with the discovery of such a rich world of genuinely caring and tremendous people.

There are several such bloggers I’d love to highlight on this ‘blog hop’ I’m on, but today I’ve narrowed it down to two, plus a thank-you for the invitation to join in The Hop.

As part of The Hop, I’ll also answer 4 burning questions at the end!  😉

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The Difference Between Feeling Better and Getting Better

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Feeling better seems to be a universal goal of humankind.

When we’re experiencing physical, emotional, or spiritual pain, the instinct to feel better can take on a life of its own.  Most of us don’t even realize our subconscious is in overdrive doing whatever it takes to avoid bad feelings.

The problem is this:  what makes us feel better usually isn’t what makes us get better.

Feeling Better More

Anger -Constructive or Destructive?

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Anger with a D is Danger.  That’s the kind of anger I used to have.  The Destructive Kind.

Anger was my best friend.  Always accessible and purposeful, it was my go-to response to many of life’s situations.  It didn’t take much to justify unleashing on all the irritating people of the world.  And those irritating people were everywhere!

Anger suited me well –I felt strong and powerful when I was angry.  People kept their distance and I was safe.  I got kudos growing up for being angry; as long as it wasn’t with anyone in our house!  I’d come home with stories of mouthing off at teachers and be commended for it.  Dad would laugh and give me the rare praise I coveted.

It wasn’t until I finally heard myself More

The Best Way Out Is Always Through

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Robert Frost
March 26, 1874 -January 29, 1963

 

I used to plead with my therapist for an easier way to process and heal my past. Feeling the feelings is really hard work, and incredibly painful. I wanted a short-cut, some magic wand to fast-forward me to the finish line.  I Wish.

Turns out Robert Frost had it right all those years ago. The best way out really is through.

If we don’t feel the feelings and process them –at least enough to heal and move forward they will continue to haunt us in hidden and mysterious ways.

I’ve learned and re-learned the frustrating truth that we can know something in our heads, but if don’t know it in our hearts it doesn’t translate to change.

Without a doubt it has to start in our heads. We need to think, consider, and chew the facts a while. But the only way I’ve seen knowledge migrate from the head to the heart is through feeling the feelings. Processing emotions like loss, anger, and truth is draining, even excruciating at times, but it’s eventually very freeing.

The most tangible way I’ve seen my life changed

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Rocks of Reclamation

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Following a 14-year absence, my husband and I went to Alaska to visit my mom last year. Dad had passed away in those years, while I’d still been estranged. His passing allowed me the freedom to return to my roots and rescue my younger self in a very tangible way.

As part of my healing, I brought some rocks to leave behind.

 

 

For me, rocks symbolize strength and power.

Think David and Goliath, Alcatraz, Stonehenge, the Pyramids.

My rocks were that important to me. They would declare my presence, my survival; even after I departed once again. More

From Estrangement to Reconciliation

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Estrangement stories cross my path often lately.  It’s a painful and sensitive topic, for both sides.  Some people are hurting because they’ve chosen to estrange themselves, others because they don’t understand why a loved one has estranged.  Still others long for the relief of estrangement, but the pain of setting that boundary is clearly too difficult.

The journey of coming to terms with why we need to estrange ourselves can be grueling, depressing, and exhausting.  Desire for belonging to family is strong, and it took considerable pain – and 3 attempts – before I was finally able to definitively draw my line in the sand.  More

Finding Healing in Unexpected Places -and a Book Giveaway

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The theme of adoption has always been of interest to me.  As a child I used to tell people I was adopted.  I always thought if you were adopted it meant you were wanted, therefore special.  It never occurred to me there might be pain involved in being adopted, or giving a child up for adoption.  Over the years I’ve spoken with people on both sides of the adoption picture and now understand it’s not the fairy tale I used to fantasize about.

**Spoiler Alert

The British movie Philomena caught my eye recently because of the adoption theme.  Then it captured my heart because of the healing and forgiveness in her story. More

How To Help Your Depressed Friend

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Friends and family were often at a loss of what to say or do around me when I was at my lowest points of depression.  Though it may have come with the best intentions, people would sometimes trivialize my feelings or give me a checklist of things to do ‘move on.’  They would also suggest I be more appreciative that things weren’t worse.  These responses actually worsened my state of mind.  The people who helped me the most responded far differently. 

The effects of depression/abuse/trauma trickle down to every layer of life.  In general, depressed people have great difficulty with relationships; this includes marriage, parenting, friendship, work, and church.  Those of us who have been abused have been taught that intimate relationships of all kinds, not just sexual, are dangerous.  We have been deeply hurt and instinctively keep our emotional distance in order to be safe.

Speaking from experience, though, I can happily assure you change is possible.  It’s because of a certain key people in my life that I’ve been able to make it this far.  I’ve been on both sides of the coin –the one being helped and the one trying to help –and I wanted to share some ways I’ve learned to help.  

Important Distinction

Some people respond to their depression by being very needy.  This personality type needs support, but they also need firm boundaries.  They need to be treated as if they are capable.  Do not rescue or coddle them, as this only enables them to remain victims.  It can also create caregiver burnout or resentment.  Help them learn healthy independency.

Other people respond by being very self-sufficient.  This personality is often very hesitant to ask for help.  If they do ask, it is a sign they may be feeling accepted by you.  No matter how small the request seems to you, it is probably a big step for them to ask.  Help them learn healthy dependency.

Here are ways to support either type of friend:

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