What I Deserve

I had a talk with my Seester last week concerning the direction my life had taken and the topic of conversation swung around to the things I feel I deserve in life. That very same day when discussing the exact same topic with my oldest son, he posed the Robert H. Schuller question we’d discussed a couple days earlier: What would you do of you knew you could not fail? Both conversations left me without an answer because 1. I seriously have no clue what I deserve because for so long I’d been struggling to make positive advances and ended up receiving the short end of every stick, and 2. up until now pretty much all my attempts at “success”/happiness had ended up, what I considered, failures. With the exception of my children, of course. But both conversations started me thinking. I very well may not know what I truly deserve or want right now, but I am relatively positive on the opposite end of those scopes.

Most new age spiritualists teach that the Universe gives you a return of the energy you emit; whatever you want is what you’ll attract. They also teach that is you focus on the things you don’t want you will similarly attract those things as well. So it seems that by being so set on avoiding the things I know I don’t want/deserve, in theory, I’ve been ensuring I’ll receive more of that. So what do I do to change that cycle? I could start by listing the basics, the things I know are necessary to survival and move from there.

What are the basics? Oxygen, water, nutrition, exercise… Love, peace of mind, self acceptance… Above all else those are the essential things I need to sustain a mindset that propels me to attain the things I want. As those elements are established then I can begin to understand what it is I truly deserve. The process can’t happen any other way.

So today marks the point where I begin to work towards defining my just deserts in order to dig myself out of this trench of self pity. It won’t guarantee that every day forward will be completely void of darkness, but at least it will put me more in control of the recovery process.

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It Doesn’t Just “Go Away”

Disagreements in relationships are inevitable. You may like coffee your partner may like tea and neither of you see fit to change your stance for all the tea in China or coffee in Columbia. Because we are different people (individuals, if you will) it’s not uncommon to not see eye to eye at times in life. This isn’t just limited too relationships of a romantic nature. Friendships are oftentimes comprised of “opposites” as well. Some disagreements are simple in nature and manifest in harmless quibbles that are easily laughed away and forgotten a quickly as they start (the argument/debate point, not the information gathered from them). But sometimes, most often in romantic relationships, disagreement can take a more hurtful and potentially damaging turn, whether started by one or both parties. Those infractions may not be able to be wiped away from the relationship’s slate with a talk, a hug, and a streaming hot beverage of your choice. Depending on the words spoken or actions carried out during the fray, time and individual reflection, as well as dedication to change on behalf of both parties, may be the elixir best called for.

A lot can be said about forgiveness in such matters. On one hand it’s much needed in order for both parties to move beyond the rift, whether together or separately. In order to do that one must sincerely forgive the person who has hurt them and forgive themselves for any wrong they may have done. Even if the results are a breakup, forgiveness is necessary for closure and personal wellbeing. On the other hand, and all too often it seems, there are those of us who take the act of forgiveness way too lightly, seeing it as a bandage that covers a wound thereby negating it. Out of sight out of mind… At least until the next time passions are stirred, tempers flare, and ego gets the best of you (or them, or both of you). Then the bandage gets ripped off, the wound aggravated, and further damage done. This happens when forgiveness is mistaken for acceptance of hurtful actions, or either party hasn’t dedicated the right amount of time to reflect, grieve, heal, and modify their behaviour to ensure they don’t repeat the process willingly.

Offering apologies and accepting forgiveness does not automatically erase hurt done to another person, in word or deed, especially if the offense continues to be an element in your dealings with them. Expecting for things to go back to “normal” immediately after a forgiveness has been extended, especially if this has been a longstanding cycle of behaviour between the two of you, is not realistic or in the least bit fair to the feelings of your friend or partner.

Bouncing back isn’t always easy, depending on how deeply you or your partner have been “cut” by an offense, no matter how much love may be there. Considering how many times trust has been affected in the process without a serious commitment to make amends, bouncing back may not even be a possibility. Respect, understanding, change, and most important, time will be the determining factors in whether the offense truly “goes away”.

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The Upside of Being Down

I really thought this Blog would have a few more “happy” entries than what have been presented to this point. That’s one of the kickers about depression… A lot of the times you’re not sure how long the spell will last, and when you’re unmedicated you tend to just roll with whatever punches get thrown your way untill it breaks. But even in the months of darkness I’ve encountered, I have been able to find a few bright spots that have kept me”
somewhat buoyant.

For one, I have been afforded the luxury of being able to “go to my room and think about what I did” to exacerbate my depressive spiral. Knowing that I hold myself accountable (which admittedly can make the moment worse at times) at least allows me to focus on the parts of my behaviors that need bolstering or eradication. If you know the root of the problem you can actively begin, or at least work on a plan, to solve it, right? This also helps me realize that if I am capable of creating said problem then I am also capable of solving or managing it. This goes hard in the paint for me in those “helpless” moments depression is known for.

My down time has also afforded me the opportunity to rest when I needed to… And a lot of the times I definitely needed to. When depression is made manifest by anger or stress a person tends to miss out on a lot of sleep due too worry or overthinking. And if you tend to “self medicate” then you know passing out and adequate, restorative rest are not in anyway the same thing. Lack of adequate sleep, even if it’s a few renergizing naps here and there, are to depression what gasoline is to fire (ironically so is resting/sleeping too much), so this goes a long way in helping me balance my mood.

Thanks to my dark days I have also been “gifted” the opportunity to read up on strategies that may help to make this downtime a little less oppressive. Whether it’s an article outlining ways to make my meditation more effective or a Website with a collection of wisdom to help me maintain through the storm, I’ve began building an arsenal of Wellness Resources to help me cope. Of course it’s no substitute for adequate counseling or therapy (which I can’t afford at present), it at least gives me a sense of “control” with little things to do in the meantime to lighten my load.

Because I spend a good amount of time on the Internet as a source of “entertainment” and “enlightenment”, I’ve had the chance over the past couple of months too adequately review a lot of the “sources” I’ve been plugging into while surfing the Web, and deleting them. This included newsfeeds that broadcast more negative than positive news, celebrity gossip columns, social media contacts with angry commentary, and virtual connections that aided in making personal situations I’m involved in difficult. For anyone, whether they are diagnosed or “normal”, a steady diet of those things is bound to bring you down, so I made it a point to remove this triggers from my life.

And last, but definitely not least, this time in the trenches has given me the opportunity to weed through the people I know truly want to help and reach out to me when they know I’m isolating. Those people who sort through the “craziness” alongside me and offer clarity. If there is one thing I’ve struggled with all my life it’s feeling as if I’ve always been alone, and that makes the downtime ten times more overwhelming. I’ve been blessed with an incredible support system, and while I may not always recognize it when I’m curled up in a fetal position wondering why I can’t shake this funk, they never fail to show up when I need them most.

So even in my times of sorrow I’ve found a way to construct a silver lining in the clouds. Some days it takes a little more effort to see it than others, but at least I know it’s there… And that is what matters most.

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Cry for Help

It’s a “well known fact” that self harm and/or suicide attempts are a cry for help. Not telling someone you wished you were dead or announcing you want to kill yourself, but actual attempts/actions that leave scars. What I’m am fast discovering is sometimes (most times in my case) the “help” that gets offered is not on the positive side. Be it because most people are emotionally inadequate at effectively dealing with depression in loved ones or they really don’t care,
what usually happens is the feelings, actions, and words are used against the person, driving them deeper into the abyss under the guise of “toughening them up” or “waking them up to reality”. At a time when a person is most mentally and emotionally vulnerable, challenging them to “snap out of it” is not the help the cries are looking to enlist.

It’s a known fact that depression hurts on many levels and more than anything all that a depressed person needs is for the “pain”, whether real or “imagined”, to stop. All they’re seeking is someone to help make sense of what they can’t seem to get their head around; a plausible solution that isn’t as forth coming in their own heads as it is in the minds of outsiders. It’s easier said than done to just “get over it” when you’re aware what “it” is to begin with, and not knowing brings a stigma that compounds the cycle. Being told or treated as if you’re weak for feeling helpless to this damaging force compounds the pain. Being told you need to “get it together”, “straighten up”, “stop feeling sorry for yourself”, or just being left alone to try to deal with it all… That’s not help. That’s a form of pressure that may as well be murder for some.

Pressure has been known to create really great things like diamonds, and stream powered engines that have revolutionized our nation’s industry. Pressure has also been known to push people to reach their greatest potential and succeed in ways they never dreamed imaginable. But for someone who is hurting, crying out for that pain to go away, searching for a snippet of humanity to understand and help, pressure and stress can very well play the catalyst for slit wrists, swallowed pills, or self inflicted bullet wounds of a fatal nature.

If at sometime in your life you’re faced with a friend, family member, or lover who you know is on the brink of self destruction please be aware that “demanding” that they feel better does more harm than good. Pushing their feelings or actions off as simply attention seeking behaviour or just hoping and wishing they’ll “get better” while you offer platitudes, or worse, do nothing, does not help. It’s not an issue of not loving themselves enough or not feeling they are worthy, it is an issue of just getting the pain to stop. That is the help they’re crying for.

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Learning Distance

Working up the strength to make something from nothing can oftentimes prove a Herculean task. And when you add on the scores of outsiders who seem to pull out every stop to make sure you fail in your efforts instead of supporting you, sometimes throwing up your hands and just giving up seems more attractive than standing and fighting. Many times over the past six months I’ve found myself in just such a position, too tired to get up after being knocked down by the opposition time and time again. Despite my lethargy, I did manage to get up each time and make an attempt to solider on… Only to be knocked back down again. This will not be the course of the next six months because I have learned that I’ve given my opposition the power to continuously do this. Howso? By repeatedly standing in a space of emotional availability instead of moving safer distances from their antagonistic reach.

A person can’t hit a target that they can’t see, so distance is needed in order to quell the cycle of being pulled back from progression. This may mean “disappearing” from loved ones being used against you, and making yourself unavailable to those who see what’s going on and either aid the opposition or refuse to stand against it. It’s not enough to stand resolutely on your own premise sometimes because certain people who work against you will not be satisfied with your show of tenacity. They care more about how many times they can knock you down before you break and will not hesitate to use any “weapon” against you to achieve this end; family, friends, your very own children. So getting out of their reach is the only solution.

I’ve had the proverbial wind knocked out of me more than a couple of times because I’d chosen to stand too close to the line of fire aimed at me. Although I’d done all I could do to stand my ground and let it be known that I was not going to falter, I was still too close, letting my opposition know my moves and plans through mutual connections I thought I could trust. This will not be the case in the days to come even if that means isolating myself until I get to where I need to be to turn everything around. Those who understand know this is necessary for my mental and emotional health. Those who don’t will readily be offended for their own personal reasons. Either way, it’s what I know will benefit me most and so it will be done.

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OMG! I’m A Black Girl!

It gets old trying to explain to people what it’s like to be a walking contradiction. To have to be proud yet humble, strong yet weak, firm yet accommodating. To trust a world that has an agenda opposite of just letting me be, yet not be offended when the world proves that case to be true. To have to explain over and over again why I don’t wilingly place myself in situations for fear of judgment, whether overt or covert, set in stereotypes I didn’t establish. Having to defend my privileged speaking or explain why code switching is necessary. And to have that all thrown back in my face by the statement of, “Oh, that’s just you. You don’t have to be so defensive all the time”… You may as well slap me down where I stand. That would be just as damaging.

For those of you who have never has to second guess an action or word for fear it would place you in a box, or never had a decision made about you simply because you skin is darker than is “acceptable”… I salute you. My defenses are triggered because of how the world sees fit to define me, without even really knowing me. You’ll never really understand that because you walk in a room and the positives are assumed. I walk in a room, sit at a desk, blink my eye, take a breath and insurmountable assumptions are made about “the black girl”. Without me even saying a word. My skin says it for me.

If you’ve never had to deal with the pressure I have to bear every day, the watchful eye I’m always under, the presumptions I have to face… I salute you. I’d never wish this burden on anyone yet I wish you all could feel it, just for a minute. The self consciousness borne of waking up in a world that dissects me and tells me my place, then mocks my trepidation.

It’s all in my head. It’s all my design. It’s all my fault, right? Right.

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Self Sabatoge

Roadblocks are used to stop travelers from accessing a certain stretch of thoroughfare that may be treacherous. The reason for the obstruction may be to prevent danger to the drivers themselves, as would be the case if a road is hazardous, or others, in the case of the road being closed off for an event of some sort. Roadblocks serve the purpose of safety for the most part. And it’s generally agreed that safety is a good thing, right?

But what happens when those roadblocks are of your own design? Are they there to keep you safe or keep you comfortable in settling?

I’ve been thinking a lot about where I am in life and the road I’ve taken to get here and I’ve been noticing some very distinct mile markers along the way. I never graduated from either high school or college. I’ve never held down a job for more than two years at a time. I’ve never had a healthy relationship truly last more than a handful of seasons. Any and every thing must people say makes a life worry living, I seem to have missed, and I’ve done so in such a cycle to where it all seems like my existence is a case study in deja vĂș. I’ve wondered for so many years why I seemed to be tethered to this fate. Then I looked at the patterns and an “Ah ha” ray of sunshine perked through my clouds of repetitious despair.

I’ve been putting roadblocks in my way for the past four decades out of fear. Not fear of failing or fear of success but fear of the unknown. I’ve purposely stopped myself from achieving so much because of fear of moving out of my comfort zone and really having to deal with myself. Lately I’ve come to realize I am the unknown and have been self sabotaging myself from ever really knowing me because that would mean I’d have to let go of my self serving ego and confront the real source of dissatisfaction in my life. Me.

What happens if those roadblocks come down? How safe am I really being by keeping them established? I guess I’ll know in the days to come.

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