All the world is a stage-

All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages. William Shakespeare

A friend and I were having a conversation recently about- when is enough, enough.  We both have dealt with or are dealing with spouses that suffer with PTSD. My best advice to her was, “When you feel that you are unable to grow or that he is keeping you from growing, then it’s enough.”

In my relationship it became obvious that my spouse felt more secure and happier when I wasn’t striving to make a name for myself or to become the person I felt I was meant to be. I have come to understand that when you are in a relationship with someone who suffers from a mental health issue, their misery loves company. If you strive to have something, do something or be something that doesn’t feed their addiction, their need to be the center of attention, then they feel acutely lost. On the surface they seem supportive, but when you actually count on that support it’s yanked out from under you by behavior that puts the focus back on them. This made me think of the theatre- how I made the choice to be the stage manager of my own life.

You see I think I made the conscious decision long ago that I wasn’t worthy to be the star of my own life’s play. I was much better suited to be backstage, making sure everyone else in my life looked good, got the applause and was appreciated for their accomplishments.  I took satisfaction in the idea that by being backstage making sure everyone remembered their lines, didn’t miss their cues and made scene changes quickly and quietly, that the applause they got was mine as well- it wasn’t and I became resentful.  The problem is that you can’t reasonably function in your own life as someone else’s stage manager- because when they forget their lines, miss their cues or don’t make scene changes that failure becomes your burden because they won’t take credit or responsibility for it and it’s been your job to fix it, so it becomes your fault. It’s a vicious circle because you can never take credit for their accomplishments and you can’t take credit for their failures because it all belongs to them. The problem I faced was that I was in love with someone who blamed me for the failures and worked against any success I tried to help him achieve.  He wanted to be small, miserable and taken care of- and I was all to willing to accommodate.  It wasn’t completely his fault, he was responsible for his choices and I was responsible for allowing his choices to dictate mine. This pattern began in childhood for me… and it hasn’t stopped.

When you spend your life making someone else look good, it’s really difficult to stop. What makes it even harder is the person you’ve always done this for, expects it to continue. Unless you can find a way to grow into a more balanced relationship, chances are good the relationship won’t last. The problem of course is to address the behavior, both of you-have to address the behavior. The balance comes when you learn to trust that you can both have a staring role in your lives and that neither one of you has to be the stage manager all the time. Sometimes you’re the star, sometimes you’re the co-star… but being relegated to stage manager in your own life… that’s not a healthy place to be.

So if you are like me you get help and try to stop doing for this person what they are capable of doing for themselves.  And that works for a little while, until you start helping other people in the same way. This is what some psychology texts would call displacement-substituting the person but not the behavior. And the behavior continues. Until at some point you say to yourself or because of a conversation with others- Enough is Enough!

Well I’ve said, enough is enough. The problem is that recognizing the behavior and changing it, is easier said than done. So I’ve found myself feeling very depressed lately. That was when I found this quote;

We can view depression as a profound and very misunderstood state of deep rest, entered into when we are completely exhausted by the weight of our own identity. It is an unconscious loss of interest in our story. It is a profound call to let go of the old, and plunge into the new…~ Jeff Foster

So for now I feel as though I should rest. And be okay with this state of rest. I think at some point something will wake me up… but for now-for now I rest.

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Put the glass down-

A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the “half empty or half full” question. Instead, with a smile on her face, she inquired: “How heavy is this glass of water?” Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz. She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.” She continued, “The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of doing anything.” Remember to put the glass down.

I think I have a few glasses that need to be put down.

1. my marriage-I did absolutely EVERYTHING I could to make it work… but I was completely alone in that work.

2. my past sexual history-I was raped.  I was abused.  I was given a disease by my ex that will now color everything else I do.

3. my failures- there are a lot of them.  I haven’t had a relationship or a job that worked out for very long.

4. my personality-according to the day I’ve had, I’m an idiot.  Or I’m condescending to the point that I make people so defensive that they can’t listen to me.

5. my needs-those are far outweighed by others.  I should just rearrange my life to accommodate others, because that’s what I have always done.

I’m spinning today.  And I know tomorrow will be better. I’ll get back on track, I won’t feel abandoned, lost or afraid.  I’ll find a way to be strong, to muddle through-to fake it until I make it. But today it feels like I’ve been holding that stupid glass all damn day!

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New Year’s Resolutions

I recently wrote an article for the website I contribute to concerning New Year’s Resolutions.  You can read the article here; http://homefrontunited.com/2014/01/everyday-is-a-new-years-resolution/

One of the things that I have found important in making and keeping New Year’s resolutions is to follow the five steps I outlined in the article.

1.  Be specific

2. Be consistent

3. Be accepting

4. Be supported

5. Be rewarded

Real change is never easy.  Real change can be extremely difficult because it may involve changing not only yourself but the environment you live your life in… a change in location, a change in relationships, a change in beliefs.  Let’s face it, change is never just this one thing, change is often a decision to live your life in a different way.  The “diets” that seem to work the best are those that treat it as a “lifestyle” change.  I think this diet mentality can work well for any positive changes you intend to make in your life- and I’m going to put it to the test.

I have several changes I need to make, some out of necessity and some just because I want to grow as a person.  2014 is the year I’m dedicating to my personal growth and healing.  And I would love to have you all join me on the journey.  I’m going to follow the five steps, and use this blog as a way to connect with others interested in changing and report my progress.  So let’s start with step one.

Be specific; I have several things I need to achieve in the coming year, at the top of the list are the following;

1. I need to find a job that fulfills my need to be finanically secure and creative

2. I need to find a place to live that is affordable, safe, and appeals to my asthetic sensibilities

3. I want a relationship that stimulates my growth, returns my love equally, and supports me fully.

4. I want more social interactions with friends and family.  I rarely want to be alone on a weekend, and I never want to be alone on a holiday again.  I want people to cook for, I want a group of people to go on adventures with, I want a full house as often as possible.  I want to spend time with my nieces doing fun things that teach them how special they are.  I want to be embraced with love, support and positive energy.  I want to feel as though I belong.

5. I want to be more physically and emotionally healthy.  I want to be able to be more physically active, not to run a marathon or bike cross country- but to be pain free, and not have to turn down an adventure because of physical limitations.  I want to be more positive, letting go of anger, find my sensuality, and heal old wounds.

So that is my list, all of which I feel and believe is possible if I begin by following step number two- which is to be consistent.  Consistency to me means working at each of these five goals on a daily basis.  The key to this is as Ghandi has said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

I think the best way to approach this daily consistency is with small steps.  The job search is going to be my full-time job from now until I am hired.  I will dedicate 2-4 hours a day applying and following up on applications.  I will go to hiring fairs, find ways to improve my chances of landing a job- etc.  Once I have met the goal of getting hired, I’ll use that time to finding a place to live.  I will ask my friends and family in the area to check out possible locations and to give me their feedback.

The next two goals to work on will require me to “Be the Change”.  If I want a relationship of any kind, I have to be the person I’d want to be in a relastionship with.  If I want someone supportive, I have to be supportive. If I want someone to cook for, I have to let someone cook for me.  You get the point.

The goal of being more healthy emotionally and physically are connected with the rest.  Physically I’m going to move more.  I walk the dogs everyday, and I’m adding yoga three times a week and “Shimmy” a belly dance work out twice a week.  Emotionally I’m going to read and practice specific goals toward my emotional health.  I’m a big fan of the 30 day challenges.  So I’m going to design 30 day challenges to help me reach more emotional health.

My first 30 Day Challenge is going to be about having a positive attitude.  For the next 30 days I’m going to appreciate even the setbacks in my life.  When I find myself getting frustrated or angry, I’m going to STOP- Stop, Take a breath, Observe, Proceed with love and kindness.  I will not say anything negative or demeaning about another person.  I won’t participate in a conversation with someone being negative or demeaning about others.  I will appreciate my mistakes, frustrations and anger as a lesson rather than allowing myself to get bogged down in the temporary negative emotions.  If I feel myself getting angry or negative, I’ll try to refocus on what lesson I need to learn and focus on being positive!  I might even take photographs of things for Instagram that make me feel positive!

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Who’s with me?

Wednesday’s Child

Monday’s child is fair of face,
Tuesday’s child is full of grace,
Wednesday’s child is full of woe,
Thursday’s child has far to go.
Friday’s child is loving and giving,
Saturday’s child works hard for a living,
But the child born on the Sabbath Day,
Is fair and wise and good and gay.

I’m not actually sure I was born on a Wednesday, but considering that 2013 has been a balance between great accomplishments and stunning defeats- I can say for sure that 2013 must have started on a Wednesday!  I’m going to dedicate Wednesdays to dealing with the things that bring me the most woe.  Each Wednesday will be about goals, either short term or long term, and reporting my progress weekly.  My main goal is not to turn every Wednesday into a woe is me, pity party for one, blog- although there is nothing wrong with those.  But my goal is to remain positive.  I’ll set a goal, I’ll keep you all updated, and I’ll be grateful for advice, encouragment and even a swift kick in the butt if I need it. So starting today- Wednesday is about working through it.

Because today is Christmas, it would be very easy for me to “woe is me” about being away from family, not having any gifts to open or being single during the holidays, while my unfaithful ex is celebrating with his fiancé before we’ve even filed for divorce.  Believe me I have plenty of reasons to feel sorry for myself today and everyday.  But I don’t- and I won’t.  On the surface, my life looks like a mess.  I’m getting a divorce, I’m unemployed, I’ll be homeless soon, and I have issues that seem to prevent me from “finding love”.  I could easily succumb to all of the stress, guilt and tragedies that life has handed me… or I could, one day at a time, one step at a time, make the most of what I do have.  Because under the surface, I have a lot!

If I take a moment to appreciate what I have, I can accomplish what may seem impossible.  I am getting a divorce, and that’s sad.  But the joy in it is that I won’t have to be with someone who doesn’t appreciate or support me.  I am unemployed, and that’s scary.  But the joy in that is that I’ve just graduated from college and am free to move anywhere in the world to pursue my dreams… MY DREAMS! I will be homeless soon and that sucks.  But the joy in that is that for now I have a beautiful house, food on the table and a closet full of clothes, and more importantly the ability to find a place that is just right for me and those dreams I’m pursuing. I am dealing with a lot of issues concerning relationships; trust, abuse, sex, and self-esteem to name a few. But the joy in that is that I’m learning that I can make better choices.

Obviously I have a lot to work through and there is no better time or place to start than right now, right here. My very first and most important goal is to find a full-time job.  I am planning on returning to my home state, to be near family and friends.  So I need a job as a writer, photographer or marketing manager.  I need an affordable place to live with a yard to accomodate my two dogs.  I also need an equitable divorce settlement, to be free from the past.  Once I have accomplished those goals, or even while I’m working toward them I can work on the other stuff too.

One of the projects I’m contemplating involves photography-

I’ve finally joined the 21st century and gotten on Instagram.  What I would like to do is spend the month of January photographing things along a theme.  I think that the theme should reflect something I want more of in my life.  So if you’re reading this, leave me a comment/vote about which theme you would like to see me photograph.  And if you are so inclined, feel free to take the challenge with me!

Possible themes;

Love

Kindness

 Peace

Happiness

Abundance

Blessings

Creativity

Beauty

Once the theme is set, I’ll begin photographing things daily along the lines of the theme.  You’ll be able to see them on my Instagram  acherry67@Instagram.com or you can wait until Friday, when I’ll post them all here.  I’m a firm believer in the idea that what you desire, what you focus your attention on begins to grow. Energy isn’t static or limited, you can’t use it all up.  If you focus your energy on something, you can make it happen, almost by magic.   It’s kind of like thinking about red cars and the only thing you begin to see on the road is red cars.  It doesn’t mean that green, blue, silver or black cars aren’t on the road- but because you’re focused on red cars, they magically seem to multiply.  Change isn’t really about magic or rocket science, it’s simply about seeing things differently.

I may not get everything I ask for, I might not get everything I deserve in life.  But if I focus my energy, my time and my skills on something I can achieve it.  One of my very favorite quotes is from the movie “Under the Tuscan Sun”, I love it so much I’ve created a tattoo around the idea of it.  The character of Catherine talks about searching and searching for something and not being able to find it, because sometimes we’re just focused to narrowly.  Sometimes when we stop looking for that one thing, we can see all the things we already have-