Live the Life You were Meant to Live

It’s been an insane year, in a good way! Book published, workshops, caregiving and bringing my business back on an even keel. So I’ve been dormant on my blog and want you to know I am moving to more normal time-line postings!.

This post was written on February 24, 2015

I’ve really been struggling with my depression recently.  It seems to take more and more of my emotional energy to get through the day, so by the time I get home, I am emotionally drained and don’t have the energy to be happy. Tears seem to be always threatening, and there’s a heavy pain in my heart that doesn’t go away.

I.   Just.   Don’t.   Care.

I’m not suicidal (I’m much too interested in what’s going to happen next), but I am feeling that my life is pointless.

I was talking to a friend today. Her daughter wants to be a writer, and is attending Tulane University in Louisiana. She is studying creative writing, and her mother encourages her.  But her father, more practical (Like you, my friend says, pointing to me), thinks she needs to get a degree in a field where she can make a living.

It’s a reasonable thought.  Engineers, scientists, lawyers, doctors make more money than writers, unless they are Ann Rice, J.K. Rowling, or Stephen King.  For me to make the same money I do selling insurance, I’d have to sell 10,000 books….a year!….just to equal that. At this moment that seems a bit daunting.

It’s funny, my friend sees me as practical.  I have learned to be practical, but it’s broken my heart in the process.

You see, I listened to my father, and I got a business degree.  I don’t regret the business degree in that I met my beloved husband Ernie at Pepperdine, and it has helped me with my insurance agency….but it’s not what I dreamed of.  My dream was to go to Columbia and study writing.  I wasn’t strong enough emotionally, nor did I have the backing of a parent telling me to chase my dreams, and my parents made too much money to get any kinds of grants or scholarships, so I took the money path.

After all, in my childhood, money was our family’s god, our idol.  I’ve written about my father’s insane chase of money, and how it in the end destroyed him and our family.  In the end he was abused by a woman who wanted his money and married him when she thought he was dying.  She took everything and he missed living life.  The last words he ever spoke to me was “I regret my life.”  He spent his life craving money yet left it to a stranger.

So I’m a little warped by money.  I make good money, but I’ve created a golden trap for myself.  There are bills to pay, mortgage payments, vacations I like to take.

I want to run away and join the circus, but the reality is I can’t. Or at least, I have chosen not to. (See how we speak to ourselves?)  I have married a man with tap roots deeply entrenched in the soil, and he wants to stay put.  I want to stay with him, so I am tethered by a love-chain to the ground when I want to fly.

This is the kind of typewriter I used to write my first novel when I was 14.  Image courtesy of Just2shutter at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This is the kind of typewriter I used to write my first novel when I was 14. Image courtesy of Just2shutter at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since I was in elementary school I have wanted to be a writer. I devoured books, and loved to escape into different worlds. It made childhood easier.  I wanted to create those magical worlds myself, and scribbled furiously on my novel while driving around the country in our camping trips.  Being a writer seemed to be the noblest calling I could think of. Writing allowed me to vent onto the pages what I was unable to verbalize in my family. But I didn’t. I chose the safe path, the predictable path, and it has crushed my soul. I love my Ernie, but I yearn for the gypsy wanderlust life.

Ernie is good for my soul. He lets me be me.

Ernie is good for my soul. He lets me be me.

I tell my friend to let her daughter take the creative path.  Don’t smother her daughter’s soul in business, or engineering, or law, if her heart is not in it.  That’s a deadly trap that takes 40 years to kill you.  Maybe she won’t make as much money as she could being a professional, but hopefully she will be happier.

And in the end, isn’t happiness what we are all really chasing?

Now it’s Your Turn! Tell us how you find happiness.

 

Khalil Gibran and Healing

Khalil GibranOut of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars. —- Khalil Gibran

I have always resonated with Khalil Gibran’s words. This quote helps me get through the darkest days that I have while I continue to heal and forgive.

Most days I am happy; I have learned to forgive those who have harmed me, whether physically or emotionally.  By forgiving them I do not condone their actions, but I allow it to not affect me as much.  I have found it is impossible to hate or be angry with someone you have forgiven. Forgiveness allows the light of happiness to enter your soul.

Just because I am mostly happy, this doesn’t mean the wounds are not there, and that my soul is not pock-marked with scars like the moon is.  I’ve weathered too many emotional meteor showers for my soul’s skin to be smooth and glossy. But like the moon, I reflect the light of the healing. There is the dark side of my moon, the side very few people see when they look at my smiling face. That is a big reason why I started writing this blog — to share the dark side so others could realize that even someone who seemingly ‘has it all’….a great marriage, owns a business, owns a home, has lots of friends —- can be silently struggling behind the smiling face and big smile.

Going into nature helps me heal. www.HealingJourneyBlog.com

Going into nature helps me heal. www.HealingJourneyBlog.com

I seem to write best at 3 to 4 AM. Perhaps my ego is still sleeping and the words can flow out of me faster and easier than when I sit down at an appointed time to write.

I write because I must.  I write to be a witness to life.  I write to help you with your journey.  I am always hopeful that my words help you overcome your own struggles, give you courage to explore the dark places, allow you to cry, to grieve, to mend.

You are stronger than you think you are.  Your soul may be seared with scars as the amazing Khalil Gibran says.

Much like these Pioneer Trail ruts are still here, my scars will always be there. But as with this field, beauty can cover the scars

Much like these Pioneer Trail ruts that were created over 100 years ago are still here, my scars will always be there. But as with this field, beauty can cover the scars

I will never be a woman who was not emotionally and physically abused by both her mother and her father.  I will never be someone who had a happy childhood. I will never be a child who wasn’t afraid and did her best to be good, fit in, and be invisible.  The things that happened to me are a part of my history and will always taint my perspective. But I have learned to remove some of the filters my family placed upon my vision and see life as the wondrous and beautiful thing it is.

I have been reading a book by Cheryl Richardson The Unmistakable Touch of Grace. Just as I am writing this I realize that Grace is what led me to Khalil Gibran. I was given a wedding planning book and in the suggestions for vows was a passage from Khalil Gibran’s book The Prophet on marriage. I immediately read The Prophet and was profoundly affected by this book.  Khalil Gibran’s words have always helped me. Now it’s Your Turn! Tell me how Khalil Gibran’s words resonate with you.

The year I was 14

The year I turned 14, my dad moved me and my sister to Valencia. The supposed reason was to escape our being bused into the inner city.  But that’s not what this blog is about.

cocktail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was the year I lived alone with my dad and sister while my mother, grandmother (Omy) and one brother stayed in Woodland Hills.  I was in the 9th grade, an awkward, painfully shy young girl.  Most of the kids in our new neighborhood had lived in the area all their lives, and they had already formed cliques and attachments. I didn’t fit in….my clothes weren’t hip enough for me to be popular. I was too smart for most of the kids (geeks, unite!) and even they already had their closed circles, so I hung out with the stoners and outcasts, and quite frankly, much older boys. I was painfully lonely and missed my mother and Omy.

iced cocktail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was the year my father taught me how to make his three favorite drinks: Manhattans, Tom Collins, and Tom and Jerry’s.  I would mix them for him, and of course one for me as well.  We would sit and have a drink together before I would get dinner ready. He would ask me about school, and I would ask him about work.  It was very cozy and crazy there in Valencia.

german shepherd dog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had a German Shepherd that my father locked in the dark in the garage during the day.  To this day I don’t know why he couldn’t just let her roam the backyard. But then, my father also liked to kill animals and was very cruel to them in other ways.  The first thing I would do when I came home from school would be to let her out, clean out her mess in the garage, and then take her for a long walk and bring her into the house. Those walks were very soothing for me.  My sister and I weren’t particularly close, especially since she was in junior high and I was in high school, so we didn’t have any common experiences to unite us.  There was a lot of animosity, jealousy and jockeying for favor with my father, which didn’t help the situation.

This was the year I started writing my novel.  I would spend hours locked away in my bedroom after school while my sister watched TV, scribbling away, doing my best to escape my reality.  My father would come home and I would cook dinner.  I generally had already cleaned the house and helped my sister finish her homework, and had done the laundry.  It was very domestic.  Looking back on this now as an adult—Too domestic, Today CPS would have hauled both my parents away.

My mother and Omy were still in Woodland HIlls as they refused to leave, so my father maintained two households, in a very bizarre way. I don’t remember too many phone calls from or to my mother that year.

14 was the year I lost my virginity to a local boy.  I was so desperate for love and attention, and if this is what it took, that is what I was willing to give.  It set up a pattern that lasted deep into young adulthood for me.  I learned to equate sex with love.

Eventually my mother demanded that we come back home.  Sadly, by this time I had finally made friends, and leaving them was a wrench.  I had to go back to my old school, with friends who had new experiences and friends they had made the year while I was gone.  So the shcool friends I had grown up with, had grown past me and formed new attachments.  I had gone from being connected to being disconnected.  Looking back at it now, it created a new pattern in my life that lasted for a long time —- not getting too close to people, as you could be pulled away from them at any time.  It would appear that I had deep friendships while I was feeling alone and separate on the inside.

I have mentioned in other blog posts that I slept with my father until I was 11 and had my first period. I still to this day don’t know what my father did to me.  At the very least it was an inappropriate relationship.  If there’s more it’s buried so deeply inside of me that I think it will only come out when he is gone, if then.  I have forgiven him for what he has done; forgiveness is a loving gift you give to yourself, not to others. Forgiveness is what allows me to write about these things. The deep seated pain is not there anymore.  The memories and the actions will always be there, but the pain isn’t as strong as it once was.

It took many years of therapy and crying to get past a lot of the darkness that I grew up in.  But I can tell you, you can get through it.  And I learned something critically important in the process of healing—-there is nothing inside of you, no memory, that can destroy you. You have already lived through the worst of it and survived.  Now it’s time to let go of that pain and anger and claim the life you want to live.

I hope my words in these blogs help you to understand that what happened to you is the past, and you have the power to write new chapters in your life, and be happy.

Changing your relationship with food

Changing my relationship with food has been a lifelong journey.

cupcake

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have always struggled with my emotions and food. When I was growing up my father would dish out food depending on how he felt about you. My older brother was his favorite, so he got the biggest and the best pieces of meat. I was given mostly starches like rice and potatoes with a little bit of meat. We were not poor; my parents owned three houses and there were two late-model Mercedes Benz in the driveway. It was about my father having control. As an adult I still sometimes struggle with anger when I feel like there is not enough food or there is nothing available that I like to eat.

whiskey bottle

 

 

 

 

 

 

My mother was an alcoholic. She would walk to the local Stop-and-Go to buy a jug of Gallo wine, cigarettes and beer. She hid her alcohol purchases from my father and would bring us chocolate candy bars to keep us quiet. I learned very quickly that food is a reward. I still think of food as a reward for “good behavior” and have to remind myself that food is for nutrition.

I was a preemie so I got sick quite often as a young girl. I learned that this was the time I would get my mother’s undivided attention so I must admit I got “sick” a little more often than I really was. My mother would make me soup and I would lay on the couch under a blanket and watch soap operas with her. My mother and I had an extremely fragile relationship. She was a paranoid schizophrenic who had tried to smother me with a pillow when I was four years old, so I was always very careful around her. But she was my mother and I desperately needed to be loved. When I was upset my mother fed me mayonnaise sandwiches to soothe me. Yes, mayonnaise sandwiches. My mother lived in Europe during World War 2 when meat was seriously rationed and this was what she learned to eat. She would slather Best Foods mayonnaise on Jewish rye bread and feed that to me. Only Best Foods and only rye bread.

Best Foods MayonnaiseJewish Rye BreadI learned that food represented love and it was one of the few things that connected me to her. Years later whenever I was sad, angry or anxious I would reach for a mayonnaise sandwich. When she died and cut me out of her will (my sister told her I was plotting to kill her) I ate an entire loaf of mayonnaise sandwiches in one sitting. It took me a long time to stop eating those. It wasn’t the taste, it was the connection to her that I craved. Today I no longer eat mayonnaise sandwiches even in my most emotional times.

My mother would making huge batches of cupcakes. There were times I didn’t want to eat “my” cupcake but I knew that my brother or sister would eat mine, so I would lick the frosting in front of them and then put my cupcake back in the fridge. Sometimes my siblings would eat my cupcake anyway, so I learned that I had to eat it even if I wasn’t hungry. To this day I can get very territorial with my food, kind of like a dog that growls when you come near his food bowl. I spent many years mentally beating myself up whenever I over-ate, ate emotionally and didn’t take care of myself.

The truth is I had no idea how to take care of myself. I was taught to abuse myself, not nurture myself. With counseling and coaching I have learned to be aware of these destructive behaviors and to stop myself most of the time. Do I slip? You bet I do. But what I have learned is that slipping is not a moral flaw. It doesn’t make me a bad person, and I can forgive myself and make better choices next time. I could not have learned how to do this by myself. I needed a coach.

If you struggle with any issues like this or others, it helps to have a professional who can guide you to make better choices and change your habits and your future.  This is no different than any kind of training; you need to learn from a professional who has tools that you don’t.  There is no shame in this; professional coaches care about you and your future.