Monday, April 26, 2010

The Mask of Control

The reason we try to control life or other people, is to really control our own emotions. We need things to go as we want them so we don’t have to deal with our own feelings if they don’t. Now this may not be in every area of our lives and it can be so subtle that we don’t even fully notice we are doing this.

For me, and for many, it will come up in intimate relationships. I don’t see myself as someone that tells another what to do and how to do it, but when a relationship is coming apart or I know I have to end it – always for the same reason: they are too immature, have emotional issues (which yes is another indication of my OWN insecurities) - I try to control the situation and that person’s thinking. It becomes manipulative and almost turns into a desperation. I need things to be okay, I need that person to be different; I need that person to understand their “issues” and change them … so that I can feel okay. So that I don’t have to deal with my intense emotions, the ones that come from letting go or feeling rejected.

I have to learn to allow this to be what it is without resistance, without analyzing him and the situation and without the constant doubting of my own thoughts, feelings and the choice I made. These are just my attempts at trying to control my emotions, which actually only cause them to be more distressed and confused.

That’s really what it’s all about ... controlling our own emotions. We can easily fool ourselves into believing we can’t live without that person and we keep our focus on THEIR issues, try to “figure” it out, or try to fix it. But what is the real reason why? Because if we really loved the other person, we would realize they need to find their own path, that they need to “fix” themselves or stay the same if that is what they choose. The point is people do what they do and it is not up to us to control it or change it, but it is up to us to make a choice. A choice for ourselves! One that empowers us, not diminishes us. A choice for our happiness. And don’t fool yourself into believing that you are just compassionate or you want to help them…truth is, you want your feelings to be okay.

FEAR. Fear of our own feelings. Fear of having to cope with our own feelings. Fear of having to really make a choice. Fear of needing to change ourselves. This is why we control.
An inability, or belief that we are unable, to cope with our own intense feelings.

I need to teach myself how to be able to just feel the feelings without having them CONTROL me, so that I no longer try to control outcomes and people.

I need to teach myself how to be okay with my feelings and allow the strong winds of emotion to carry me, rather than spin me around like a tornado.

I need to teach myself how to stay afloat of my feelings and swim along the river of emotions, rather than drown in the muddy waters of self-defeat and despair.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Lies, Lies, Lies

It seems we lie to ourselves a lot, but it is the believing of those lies that get us into trouble. I am talking about our self beliefs. The ones we picked up in childhood and they just became a part of our identity, that we don’t even know they are not us. Many of the things we believe were taught to us as children or rooted in experiences we had as children. But those decisions to believe what we were told about ourselves or the perceptions that we concluded from difficult experiences were made by a child, yet we continue to believe them and play them out in our adult life.

We keep drawing to us people and/or experiences that prove these lies to be true. But all they are really proving is that we still believe our own lies about ourselves or the beliefs we have. For instance, if someone believes men cannot be trusted (likely they seen this in a primary adult relationship as they were growing up), they will continue to draw men to them who are not trustworthy, confirming their belief, which is actually the lie they have decided to believe.

Now this is not my case, but for me I have come to realize through some painful digging that I have a slew of lies that I still believe, without realizing that they were even there. And this is why we keep living out the lies, because many of us aren’t even aware of them, they are ingrained in us and we just automatically believe this is our personality. But they are LIES!

For me, and probably for most others, I became aware of mine….well acutely aware of mine, when I went through a painful experience and taking note of my reaction to it, which was just way over the top (internally so) and still lingers. It doesn’t fit the actual situation. That’s where I came to meet my lies in the light of day. They are mean and painful lies, but underneath it all I do know they were created from hurt and confusion. I had to ask: "What am I believing about myself that is causing me to feel this way, to react this way, to torment myself in this way?" And the answers were: “I am not good enough. I am not special enough. I am not worth fighting for. I am inferior. Others are better than me. My thoughts and feelings are wrong."

Wow! And I knew I already believed some of these things. I knew I have low self confidence and self doubt, that I have problems with asserting myself, but I NEVER knew I was believing all of these things about myself deep down. I thought I really liked myself, after all, I don’t get into abusive or degrading relationships (but I do get into relationships with weak and dysfunctional men), I don’t allow people to talk down to me, I have a pretty good self-image, I think I am fairly intelligent and funny and I am socialable, so it took a lot of digging to realize I had these beliefs about myself because on the surface it didn’t seem that way…and still doesn’t to the outside world. But I know, from looking at my life – past & present conditions – that I have believed these lies for almost my whole life!

If you take a really close and honest look at your life, especially the things that are not working, no matter what the story and reasons you build up around it, you will begin to see the lies you are believing. Your life will always mirror back to you what you feel about yourself. We draw in circumstances and people who will keep proving to us what we believe, whether it’s true or not. We can only see and experience what we believe to be true.

For me (as for most others), it is taking some time to stop believing the lies because, as mentioned, I have been believing them as truth my whole life, without even knowing I am believing anything at all as they are just ingrained in my psyche and became my personality and my behaviours.

I am still, however, looking externally and trying to collect outside proof to validate for me what I want to believe “that I am good enough, special, worthy…” but I keep finding “proof” of the lies, which just indicates that I am still believing the lies deep down and very much likely why I keep holding on to my “break up” story and needing to remind myself of who he is (dysfunctional and his choices have nothing to do with me) and checking to see if he is still with his new girlfriend because I want to use that as proof that my perceptions of him were correct and I am not worthless and unspecial and so on, but it continues to "confirm" my self defeating beliefs if I see that they are still together. Even though I know logically this proves absolutely nothing at all!!

And this is how I know that I am still believing MY LIES because if I realized they were just lies then I wouldn't need any external proof or validation of my worth....

The lies we tell ourselves hurt us the most.

Friday, April 9, 2010

LOSE Control

Not the brusque type of control where you tell people what to do or use of physical force over something or someone…I am talking about a more subtle type of control, one that is more deceiving and not as easy to detect or even acknowledge.

I realized I try to manage my feelings – the painful feelings of rejection, thinking I am not good enough, not special enough, not worth fighting for by clinging.

By Clinging. By Resisting. By Convincing another. By Doubting myself.

All ways to not have to deal with my own wounds, my own painful feelings. A way of avoiding them. For instance, we make a choice, one that seems good for us, one that is powerful then we start doubting our choices because it means that things will change and that means that we must change too. And change is scary, it takes us into new and unknown territory…out of our comfort zones and we want to just jump back in, to have things back the same way they were (but different), even if it wasn’t ideal.

For me, after I made my choice to finally leave a relationship that wasn’t feeling good for me in some ways, I got too scared with the choice I made because that meant life would change and I would no longer be with that person (which I am sure triggered many emotions and insecurities) so I started DOUBTING myself, started CLINGING. I reneged on my decision, groveled to have him stay (even though I was quite clear that I couldn’t stay in the relationship and I let him know how unhealthy I think his behavior is).

Then I start needing to convince him that what he is doing is indeed unhealthy and that it is not good for him or his son. I use examples, I use psychological definitions, I think I even try guilt. And even if this is all true and I am right on the money about his issues, I have come to realize that, that is still CONTROL. A way for me to control the situation, so I don’t have to make a healthy choice for me and go through the subsequent painful feelings of letting go. And so many of us do this, I know that.

Then when none of this works - my feelings aren’t soothed, he won’t change , we aren’t together anymore- I resist. I resist the process of letting go and begin to obsess and analyze him. And I believe that this may just be a tactic to manage my feelings and not fall prey to my insecurities and those old self defeating beliefs.

Trying to control.

It’s hard to think of me as controlling because it is not in the way we think of control: aggressive, malicious, loud, abusive or whatnot.

It’s more subtle, and yes I know control is a huge thing for codependents but I am not even talking about it in that way as a form of manipulation, enabling and empty threats, but, yes I suppose codependent in way of relying on someone else’s behavior to dictate how I feel and needing the other person to change to make me feel better.

All ways to control our emotions. And herein lies where I realize I have issues of control.

Doubting.Clinging. Convincing. Resisting. Trying to control the situation so that I wouldn’t have to feel these painful feelings…the painful feelings of what really are wounds from self defeating beliefs. And I realize I have done this since I was a child. To avoid feelings of humiliation, or rejection, or feelings of inadequacy - the things that seem to trigger my insecurities and cause painful emotions - I would either avoid the situation or person completely or try to “manipulate” the situation into being a certain way or the person into behaving a certain way. And it was not to be malicious or to have authority over others, more so to have authority over my own emotions because I didn’t/don’t have the healthy and mature coping skills to deal with such feelings. Again, just conditioned ways of coping created from a child’s mind.

But the irony of control, just as with addictions (another way to control or completely avoid our painful feelings) is that it ends up causing us more pain and drives us even further away from resolving these things in our life and further away from ourselves.

It’s funny how we do certain things as a way to protect and save ourselves from things we think will hurt us, but instead these tactics are the very things that end up hurting us and leaving us feeling abandoned.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Do we hide in our pain?

If so why? Is it so we don’t really have to look at our own life and do something different about it? Is it a way of filling a void inside, an emptiness? A way of numbing the real pain?

I think it may be, but filling this void with pain and suffering is certainly a dysfunctional way. It could also be a way of distracting ourselves from the real pain as well, one that is buried so deep. Perhaps just as an alcoholic or drug addict fills their emptiness with their substance of choice or to numb their deep-seated pain. It’s a way of coping. A dysfunctional way of coping. A learned way of coping without even knowing it is being used as a coping mechanism. Or, rather the lack of coping skills…

But, these conditioned reactions/coping mechanisms end up doing just the opposite of what you intended. So rather than filling a void, soothing your feelings, they end up increasing the feeling of emptiness and disconnecting you from your feelings and your soul.

However these coping mechanism, put in place likely a long time ago as a child as a way to keep you feeling safe in the situation/circumstance you were in, a role you played to fit into the family or society structures, are now just hindering your growth as an adult.

My obsessions and my addiction (which may be to pain) do this to me. I feel a painful emotion and instead of just coping with it in a healthy way (whatever that may be, I obviously do not know), I intensify it. I dissect it, analyze it and definitely the person who triggered it. I dive into my pain and stay. I realize when I feel a intense and painful emotion as a reaction to something,(which right away is usually a sign that it is something from the past) I make it more intense – maybe akin to a temper tantrum – and the intensity of it no longer really fits the situation, so then I intensify the situation to make it match this, thus intensifying the feeling more.

Does that make sense? I blow the situation out of proportion in my mind, make it mean sooo much more than, not only what it really meant, but than what it really meant to me. When I broke up with him, I wasn’t crying, when I heard the news (the last straw in a string of hurtful behaviours:  his ex-wife sleeping over, who just lives down the street and has tons of friends of her own, so he can take care of her after cosmetic plastic surgery (can't imagine why I felt like a third party in our relationship)) I was not devastated, in fact I was just in waiting for something to prove to me AGAIN that my perceptions were correct (oh I wish I was wrong, perhaps why I held on and ignored that inner voice for so long) that they have an unhealthy attachment and likely a codependent relationship happening, thus this isn't the place for me or the place to have a healthy relationship. So it wasn't a HUGE shocker, because, as I said, I was just waiting to see what else was coming. But here I am enmeshed in these painful emotions 1.5 years later!!

It seems when my “rejection” button is triggered, I go into these ways of reacting and behaving. And because most of us do not recognize these automatic ways of being, I believe it’s real. It’s real that I am so pained, devastated, powerless and have been victimized because that is what this feeling is telling me. This feeling that I am actually feeding and that feeds the situation, morphing it into something barely recognizable now and then that just fuels and intensifies the feeling more, thus having me believe the situation was that painful …and round and round it goes. Are you dizzy yet? Certainly confused.

Just as an aside: Not that I think feelings are false at all, in fact it is more the stories that have been attached to the feelings that are a misperception. I note this because I grappled with this question. Aren’t feelings real? Can’t I trust my feelings? If not, then what can I trust? I believe feelings are our faithful guide, guiding us to inquire into what is going on and that is what will bring us to what our conditioned beliefs are and give us a glimpse of what thoughts we are telling ourselves.

So in order to heal this, I must first unravel this riddle of pain and confusion that I have created JUST to get back to the truth of the original experience: “the Break Up”, which, yes, was hurtful and disappointing BUT not all this other stuff, I’m sure. Then from there I need to heal the ORIGINAL wound and break the automatic, self-defeating patterns. Although I think I am going through that process at the same time as the unraveling.

Perhaps that’s why it is taking so long to do. Awareness, healing new and old wounds, breaking old patterns and transformation all at the same time.

Slowly coming out of hiding in the pain.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Meet my Inner Goddess

I have found my Inner Goddess. This is the Goddess that lives within me. She speaks of my experience and my process. A feeling and a knowing I have had with me my whole life.

Queen of the Night, Goddess of the Dark Moon, Guardian of the Underworld

The triple-faced Hekate is one of the most ancient images from a pre-Greek stratum of mythology and an original embodiment of the Great Triple Goddess. She is most often linked with the dark of the moon and presides over magic, ritual, prophetic vision, childbirth, death, the underworld, and the secrets of regeneration.

Gifts of Hekate: Vision, Magic, and Regeneration

Hekate is every woman's potential as a witch, seer, medium, healer.

Guardian of the Unconscious

Hekate stands at the crossroads of our unconscious. As she watches us approach she can see both backward and forward into our lives. When Hekate is honored she bestows the gifts of inspiration, vision, magic, and regeneration. However, when we reject and deny Hekate, her shadow side manifests as madness, stupor, and stagnation. Her creative activity takes place in the inner world. As Dark Moon Goddess of the dead, she not only represents the destructive side of life, but also the necessary forces that make creativity, growth, and healing possible. The paradoxical function of this goddess of the moonlit crossroads is to pierce the darkness.

As the Queen of the Underworld, Hekate is a guardian figure of the unconscious. She enables us to converse with the spirit and thus is mistress of all that lives in the hidden parts of the psyche. This Goddess of the Dark Moon holds the key that unlocks the door to the way down, and she bears the torch that illuminates both the treasures and terrors of the unconscious. Hekate guides us through this dark spirit world wherein we can receive a revelation. She then shows us that the way out is to ride on a surge of renewal.

Hekate may inspire us with a vision, insight, or prophetic foretelling, but the way to her wisdom most often involves a descent into the underworld of our unconscious. When Hekate comes upon us we can experience her as a plunge into darkness. She is often present in our nightly sleep and casts her glow to illumine our dreams. She is also hovering over us when we are immobilized in long, sleeplike stupors of addiction, depression or blocked creative energy. During times of drastic change, when we face the loss and death of that which gave our life structure and purpose, Hekate is there. And when we encounter her through the vast transpersonal realms of the collective unconscious, her light can show us God/dess or the Devil as she fills us with divine inspiration or deluded madness. Hekate guides us whenever we do our inner work through both spiritual and psychological processes.

The symbolic images found in our dreams are messages from Hekate. They show us in visual form the drama of our internal personalities and the issues that live in the unconscious, as well as the shape of the future and the delusions of our minds.

Hekate embodies the cycle of death and renewal. Death always brings us face-to-face with our fears of the unknown, which surface during these critical crises of our lives. The process of renewal necessitates change and the sacrifice or letting go of the old. As our life forms begin to deteriorate, the phosphorescent light of decay begins to glow and illumines the landscape of our inner darkness.

This vast transpersonal dimension contains both positive and negative energies, which are constantly changing and shifting back and forth into one another, and here we can easily lose our sense of individual self who has an identity, purpose, and direction. Because the shape of things keeps changing in these more fluid realms and we do not understand what is happening to us, we can be filled with fear, anxiety, and feel as if we are going mad. There is a sense that we are out of control, this can't really be happening to us, everything seems unreal. A descent into what appears like madness may often be involved in the coming to terms with this ancient Triple Goddess.

Incubation Period

Hekate also suggests the motif of incubation as we go down deeper still into the darkness of unconscious sleep as a necessary step in the cycle of transformation and renewal. The silence, stillness, and solitude that descends and envelops us in a cocoon of what seems like non-being. This is a space of inactivity and unknowing when nothing seems to be happening. Because Western culture emphasizes action and productivity and devalues those times of lying fallow and waiting for what one knows not, we sometimes label Hekate's incubation periods as being immobilized, getting stuck, being in limbo, spacing out, depression, despair, feeling numb, blank, or frozen.

Journey of Becoming

This time encompasses the formless void in the transformation cycle when what was, is no longer and what is to be has not yet appeared. Like the ebb tide, which is the still pause between the tidal Waters going out and those coming in, this extreme stage generally occurs prior to the creative freeing of bound-up energy. The still pause of nonactivity is Hekate's contribution to the journey of becoming.

Hekate teaches us that the way to the vision that inspires renewal is to be found in moving through the darkness. As we enter into Hekate's realm, we must confront and come to terms with the dark, unconscious side of our inner nature. If we are to receive her gift of vision and renewal, we must face this Dark Goddess within ourselves, honor, praise, and make our peace with her. By giving her our trust as guardian of our unconscious and surrendering to her process, we can allow ourselves to grow into an awareness of the rich realm of our personal underworld.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Are safety nets safe?

The next series of postings will be loose transcribed excerpts from my journal on things I have already or am still working through as I continue on my journey of healing. Thoughts and feelings that seem to cycle around and hopefully taking me deeper into myself.

I know I have to let go of this break up story. I know it is useless and tormenting but for some reason I am still holding on.  Holding on to what though? He is gone, the past happened waaaay in the past and it can’t be changed anyway. And furthermore, I really didn’t want to be with him…well the him he was or rather in that type of relationship where I felt like a third party.

So then why do I hold on to the story? I guess this is a safety net for me. By “reminding” me of what his character flaws are, of why I believe he did the things he did (insecurity, codependency issues with ex, fear of abandonment, emotional immaturity) I don’t have to believe my demons. Those painful beliefs that I am not good enough, loveable enough,special enough... I keep needing to retell the story to myself and go over his “issues” over and over again so I don’t fall down into the devil’s lair. 

I need to keep analyzing  his personality and his behaviours as a way to convince (maybe that’s the wrong word) myself that my initial perceptions of his “bizarre” behaviours and this ex relationship were correct. I need to keep convincing myself, perhaps like a good parent or friend would, that my thoughts and feelings were “right” – not that I am trying to go for right and wrong, I am just trying to get to a place where I can BELIEVE and TRUST my own thoughts and feelings about things. 

And therein lies the real problem. My inability to believe in my own thoughts and feelings, thus this story stays with me. I need to use his “stuff” to convince myself that I am ok, that I am not wrong about this, that I did not perceive this incorrectly because if I did that means that I CAN’T trust my own thoughts and feelings.  It really is an internal war and he is being used as the … I dunno… scapegoat (again maybe the wrong word).  

An internal war between my self-defeating beliefs: self-doubt, self-pity, inferiority, and my inability to know my self-worth to trust myself and my wiser self that does believe in my own thoughts and feelings.

I know a lot of spiritual texts say just LET GO, but perhaps this holding on has served a purpose: a way to keep myself afloat and not drown in these old and painful beliefs. A way to keep disputing these beliefs, until they dissolve. Yet, I do know, this is still a form of codependency or being outwardly focused by needing others to validate me, validate my own thoughts and feelings. 

I do at least know this experience is pushing me to look within and to learn to believe in myself, to look to me for answers and to trust what’s inside. But I keep looking outside of me -  to others … anyone and checking out his website to see how his life is going, especially to see if he is still with his girlfriend that he found soon after me(which to my defeating self means that I wasn’t good enough, special enough , so it actually defeats the purpose and creates the opposite effect) -  to validate my thoughts and feelings.

Perhaps this story won’t go away until I become strong enough in myself to just fully TRUST and BELIEVE in my own perceptions, thoughts, and feelings.  Then I can leave this false safety net behind. Actually, these are the same words I said to him. He holds on to his ex-wife, keeps a close, platonic marriage type of relationship with her because it saves him from having to face his painful feelings (just as alcohol and drugs once did for him) and feelings of abandonment (his childhood wound) after she told him she wanted a separation 6 years ago. She left him, but she didn’t really leave him. Works well for a recovering alcoholic and a codependent, I guess. But it didn’t work for me. 

I don’t want to have this false safety net, which I can soooo clearly see with him (yes, more proof that, that is what is going on with me too because our relationships hold a mirror up to ourselves), because I know that ultimately it is not safe at all; it just becomes a way to get tied up, stuck in the past and caught up in the to speak.

But again … if I don’t have the story of him and his stuff, I will believe my own demons…more so than I already do. I can’t let them win. I suppose I know I won’t really drown if I let go of the story/safety net. I really believe it’s all about our own sense of self, our own security within…I have always known that, as I said it about him a looooong time ago. 

BUT how does one become strong and secure within themselves, learn to trust in themselves – whether in their own abilites or in their own thoughts and feelings – without using other people, relationships and experiences to help validate that for us?