A Letter To My Recovering Self

Dear Me-

I see you. I see you working so hard right now. You are climbing your mountain and I know you are a bit tired. I see your intense will to keep climbing despite the exhaustion. I know, you’re forty years old and you feel like this mountain is all too familiar. You feel like you’ve been on this climb before and you’re a little frustrated that you’re back at it. But, please take note right now that you’ve never actually made it this far. You’re seeing things that you’ve never seen before. You’re digging deeper than you have before. You are beginning to smell freedom in the air.

Take a rest for just a minute and then take in a super deep breath. Freedom smells sweet like the flowers springing up on the side of this mountain. It fills your lungs with a scent that comforts you and the great news is there’s more where that came from. There’s a grove of beauty that goes on for miles and miles just on the other side of this climb. I can’t wait for you to see it, to step foot through it, and to know intimately that you belong there. You’re gonna make it. I promise. Believe in your strength and resolve right now. You are a courageous woman and you are doing an amazing job.

As you sit and rest for a second I want you to repeat after me: I forgive myself. Take a minute, hear it in your head, and then say it out loud. I know it sounds a little silly to you, but this step is pretty important. Abbie, you have beaten yourself up for long enough. The reality is there were things in your life that converged into a tangled mess and you didn’t know how to deal with the weight of it all. Don’t get me wrong, you weren’t ignorant. You just didn’t have all the tools yet. You have a really sensitive heart. This is one of my favorite things about you. At times, you felt a mounting pressure to do right, to be good, to not fail, to consistently show up for others… and so much more. Because of this you have felt heavy and full at times. Full to the brim of expectations that you’ve held over yourself. You are a beautiful listener. You always have been. That, combined with your sensitive heart has meant you’ve also carried the weight of others in addition to the pressure you put on yourself. You found a way to cope with all that emotion through your eating disorder. It availed itself to you as a way to get rid of things and to feel empty. It was a compelling offer. It was an outlet that presented itself to you to offload the weight you were carrying. As damaging as that mechanism was and is you needed a way out of all the heaviness. I don’t blame you. There’s just a better way now.

So, when you’re ready – stand tall. Stand proud. Stand strong. When you know better, you do better. And you’re seeing that now. I’m really proud of you. Some people don’t even bother to take a long hard look in the mirror of reality. They push things away, stuff them down and carry on meanwhile decaying inside. You are choosing the opposite and I see life springing up inside of you. It’s healing you. It’s freeing you. It’s giving you stamina for the rest of this arduous climb to lasting freedom. Stay the course. Be kind to your heart. See how far you’ve come. You are more than enough. Now carry on, keep climbing, and know that I am here for you.

I believe in you.

 

Forgiveness

Forgiveness Defined: the action or process of forgiving or being forgiven.

Forgiveness, such an intuitive definition, simple, yet a challenge for so many of us. I believe it’s a practice, a skill to hone, something that evolves within us. It’s not a punch card moment in the least. It’s an action OR process that is often repeated time and time again.

I was thinking today about the wrongs that have occurred towards me in my life and the wrongs that I’ve committed towards myself and others. I immediately felt a dark cloud come over me when I thought of the wrongs I have committed. But, when I thought about the wrongs committed against me I felt a sense of grace and peace, an extension of pardon bubble up within me. At first glance, I was alarmed at this feeling thinking “oh boy, I have work to do. That dark cloud can’t stay”… but, at second glance I felt proud of the feeling that has evolved within me towards others. Nevertheless, this does beg the question: why can I extend an evolved pardon towards others yet hold myself hostage?

If a doctor told me that there was a diet pill that I could take that would result in a twenty pound weight loss by day three I’d be jamming that down my throat in two seconds flat. Forgiveness over ourself and others can have the same effect as the diet pill in many physical, mental and emotional ways, yet we hesitate. I hesitate. I hesitate for many reasons. I suppose hanging on to the wrongs I’ve committed somewhat confirms the poor self-image I have. I know that sounds terrible. But, it’s true in a way. Holding on to the crap I’ve done mirrors the crap I feel about myself. If I chose to let go of the stupid stuff I’ve done I would have to take that poor self image, the crappy mirror, and start speaking kindly to her. I’d have to look at my mangled messes and pour peace all over them until they were drenched and untangled. I’d have to extend a handful of peace that wasn’t earned, but gifted to myself, by myself. I’d have to set myself free. I’d have to do the work of altering completely my internal dialogue and what I choose to be true about my worthiness.

When we choose forgiveness we are taking a once tightly bound, fully constricted blood vessel and serving it with oxygen. We are therefore serving everything that surrounds it with oxygen as well. Forgiveness is the process of recovering wholeness, breathing life into the broken spaces and making way for a healing. It’s a coming to peace. It’s a process of acknowledgement followed by a restoration of our will to be free. Forgiveness towards ourselves and others is the currency for an exchange that makes way for growth and restoration of our worth. Simply put: It’s the bitter pill we swallow that sets us free. It’s the very medicine that releases pounds of anger and hurt and all that stalls our growth and change.

Forgiveness is rarely a one and done. Our memory banks are keen and ever so vivid. They are tied to our emotional make up. We often inadvertently keep a record of wrongs. We need the action or process of forgiveness to restore justice in our hearts. The impact of our experiences is strong and the ONLY thing greater than that impact is the power of forgiveness.

I just want to convince you today to do a little inventory. Search your heart. Where are you held hostage? Are you able to release others, but hold yourself hostage over wrongs done? Or do you suffer from the opposite? Can you forgive yourself, but you’re holding with a vice grip wrongs that have occurred in your life at the hands of another? Either way. There is a coming to peace waiting for you through the process of forgiveness. This blog post is not exhaustive. There are easily a million more words to say on the subject. But, consider this today: where is one area in your heart and life that could stand to have the gift of peace breathed straight into it? Where is one crack in your heart that could use the healing balm of forgiveness gifted to yourself, bu yourself? Consider your freedom and get to work ushering in peace as though your livelihood depends on it.

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.” – Victor Frankl

 

Turn Up The Volume

Shame defined by Webster: the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of being loved and belonging- something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do that make us unworthy of connection.

Quit waiting for the shame-filled voices to merely go away.  Actively turn up the volume on the soul building, spirit filling voices that course through you.

I haven’t dedicated my life’s work and research to shame resilience. But, I do know all too well what shame sounds like: Failure, embarrassed, stuck, flawed, behind, I’ll forever be trying to become better than I am right now, I need to become good, your body doesn’t work right, you’re totally screwing up at this life, etc.

If even a thread of those sound familiar chances are you identify with the shame struggle. I’ve surrendered to the fact that shame is a bit of an achilles heel for me. However, I’m not rolling over and playing dead any time soon. I’m fighting. I’m fighting for truth in my innermost parts. I’m fighting to turn up the volume on the truth that resides within me that sounds a little like this: you are a hero to your children, your body is capable of doing all that it was intended to do, you are the best version of you right now flaws and all, you are committed to growth and change, you have evolved beautifully, you are smart, funny and gosh darnit people like you, etc.

We cannot sit idle by and let the background music of our lives play a song that tears us down. We cannot sit still while bricks are being thrown at our character. We have to stand tall and strong and declare an end to the tear down. We have to say NO MORE To the onslaught and antics of shame. We need to practice radical forgiveness toward ourselves. That’s right: radical forgiveness. If it’s true that we attract what we feel inside- then we best get to work feeling pretty stinking amazing. There is only ONE you. There’s no replacement. There’s no alternative. You are the best you around. No argument. No one can do life better than you. Sure, there are some genius’ out there (like Brene Brown), but no one shows up for this life more ready to make it amazing than you. We have to shut down and silence the doubt that we are not a valuable contribution to this time and the people we encounter. Take a deep breath. Practice some self care. Turn down the volume on the voices that spend their energy filling you with shame. Turn up the volume on the voices that coach you into the greatness that you are.  It’s a battle for sure. One worth fighting.

Per Mel Robbins…. TIP: Post an anchor thought.

“Sometimes life is hard. It’s part of being human. For those times, I want you to cheer for yourself. Post your favorite quote where you can see it and read it aloud every time you pass by.”

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The Valley Of The Shadow Of Death

This is a road traveled by many. So many that my mind floods with examples…. and empathy. From failed marriages, to the loss of a loved one, paralyzation, disease, miscarriage, loss of a job, and so on. Life can be so cruel and dark and lonely at times. Life can bring great joy, but it also serves us with tear-jerking, soul-wringing, gut-wrenching pain and trauma. We wonder how we survive at all sometimes.

I think of the heartache we encounter. And I can’t help but weep. I think of our response to it all. I think of our process through it all. How do we get from Point A to Point B when the bottom has simply dropped out? I don’t even feel like I have the authority to answer that question. So, I won’t. But, I do know what deep, dark places feel like. I know what the vultures of our joy sound like over head. I know what starvation for saving and a longing for hope’s rescue to come feels like. There’s a crazed desperation inside. A cavern so deep that it simply can’t be filled with one wave of the wand. The valley…. is a valley. It’s a deep dip in life’s surface that carves you out hollow. It’s cold and vacant and void of life at every turn. It’s a dark pace and you long so deeply to see a bright red exit sign. Only, there’s no exit sign, just a dimly lit path ahead. A  path that must be taken.

The valley of the shadow of death is real. So real.  There’s an accompanying white knuckle grip that circumstantial change will come. That a miracle will occur and life will begin again… whole and untouched by adversity. Why does a God so great and kind stir such torrential desperate waters in our soul? How does a God so powerful and all-knowing allow such ailments to visit us? Again, I don’t know the full answer to this, but I do know what resilience and hope looks like. It looks hot like a fire in a desert that warms your coldest places. It tastes sweet and bitter simultaneously. And the cry inside for rescue raises an octave or two as we throw our hands in surrender admitting our weakness to prevail. Adversity brings us to our knees, to the end of ourselves.

How do we begin again out of the hollow places where hope has been deferred?

We choose.

We choose to take the next, best, right step forward down that dimly lit path. We choose to believe in our worth and we anchor strong in our destiny. We sometimes get a tattoo or six to remind us who we are. We brand our hearts with truth that no matter how deep the valley we can RISE. In one, small step at a time forward we can find ourselves through the valley and at the base of a mountain ready to climb. We are weakened by tragedy, but ready to climb because we know now what surrender feels like and what slow motion looks like.

We choose.

We choose to believe in the power that resides within us to write our own story. To turn the page when the time is right. To put pen to paper and script our way forward. To write our way out. Hope is a powerful driver for the way forward. Hope in ourselves. Hope in a God that’s orchestrating all things for our good. Hope in our neighbor and friend and even enemy. Hope that the view on the top of that mountain to climb was worth every second in the valley of death.

Hope is the path forward. It’s a cold and broken hallelujah. With HOPE we can choose to rise. Be stirred today. The path may be dimly lit, but take one, small step forward at a time. You are WORTH the rising. The sun is coming for you. The mountain top is waiting for you. There are beautiful things to see just ahead for you. There is a filling of joy and peace and resolve and strength coming to fill the hollow places. Stir your hope today. This world is a better place so long as you are in it.

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life” -Proverbs 13:12

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Shame Resilience

“I believe that if we want meaningful, lasting change we need to get clear on the difference between guilt and shame and call for an end to shame as a tool for change.” -Brene Brown

I’m no Brene Brown, but I know a thing or two about shame. It is the anaconda of the jungle. It is the piranha in the waters. It’s the deep, dark pit of doubt in our worth. Shame is immobilizing. It is a car with no keys you guys. Shame will tell you that you are inherently flawed and unworthy of love and belonging.

We all have our weaknesses. We all have our own set of struggles. We just do. I remember struggling with shame as far back as I can remember. I know that shame was a catalyst for an eating disorder in my life. I grappled deeply with perfectionism. Every time I screwed up at something, be it small or large, my recovery time was shockingly long. Shame would visit me and stay well past its welcome. It would come on the scene and stir deep inside creating mental turmoil. I bought the lie that I was flawed, broken, bad. Not in a passive sort of way. In an aggressive sort of way. Shame became such a norm that I didn’t even recognize it when it showed up. It was truly the visitor that just never left and all the while you’ve got a million things to do. Shame suffocated my value as a human being. I used my eating disorder, of all things, for some sense of control. I would think: “I can’t control my worth because I’m so damn imperfect inside…. I’ll at least control my body and what others see on the outside.” It’s so twisted isn’t it? Shame is not a driver for change its a driver for destruction. Guilt on the other hand can be a productive tool. It’s the feeling we get when we miss the mark and then decide we can do something about it. Shame is the belief system that when we miss the mark we deserve the repercussions because we suck.

We HAVE to get shame resilience going deep inside our core. The company that shame keeps is just too dangerous. It’s literally got to go. We simply cannot let shame have even the slightest foothold in our hearts.

Resilience defined: the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties, the ability of a substance or an object to spring back into shape.

Radical Forgiveness is the antidote to shame and the open door to resilience. Radical forgiveness is the set of keys to the car friends. If you or someone you know struggles with perfectionism, self-doubt, feeling unworthy and a whole host of other things you can bet your life that shame has set up camp somewhere nearby. Please cover yourself in radical forgiveness today. Radical forgiveness means pour over yourself forgiveness to the point that it SATURATES who you are. Let it soak into every nook and cranny. Let it overwhelm you and fill you and serenade your worth. Let it call your unique human self out of the closet and into the sunlight. God rose the sun just for you today. You were not meant to cower in the darkness of doubt in your value. You are stunning in every way, the broken places and all. Get RESILIENT against this thing. It has over stayed its welcome in every way. Surf the waters of radical forgiveness.

I believe in us and the power to know our true worth.

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