my space tracker

Hope Forward: Surviving and Thriving through Emotional Pain: July 2012

Monday, July 30, 2012

Into Every Life a Little Pleasure Must Fall

It's almost August and I'm thinking about being out in the country on a tire swing with some lemonade, underneath an old oak tree.  Maybe riding my old Schwinn over some bumpy country roads and sitting out under the stars listening to the crickets.  Then again, maybe the beach.  Here in New Jersey you can get to both within a few hours at most.  One of the perks of living here, amidst all the pokes that the state takes.

For some folks, the winding down days of summer can offer up a time for reflection, for slowing down and taking stock.  For finding the sun and letting in some of the quieter thoughts about life and relationships and circumstance. 

Many folks live busy.  We work, take care of others, keep up our households, and tend to our relationships.  And we have our escapes.  But as August approaches I'm thinking about pleasure, not just vegging out, but what really gives us that sweet feeling of joy and enjoyment, with or without a rev.  A good book, a roller coaster ride, a walk on the beach, a concert in the park, a trip into the city, blueberry picking, a good tennis match, a baseball game.  It's really so personal and individual.  But I'm just putting it out there that as we go through the motions of living, and especially if you are grappling with emotional pain, relationship difficulties, job stress, transition of any kind, including some pleasure into your life goes a long way toward building resiliency.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Being Ignored

If you have ever been ignored or felt dismissed, you know that it comes with a certain kind of sharp emotional pain.  And if this pain resonates, chances are that its not a new pain.  Sometimes, emotional pain that we experience in the here and now is that much more painful because it steps on and awakens pain that we have experienced in the past.
It often helps to know the origins of the pain, as well as if and how we somehow set ourselves up to be hurt in some way.  It doesn't always make sense consciously, but sometimes we seek out the familiar because it is familiar, or because we want to heal it in some way, or because it has a certain secondary benefit to us that we are not fully aware of and may not be prepared to let go of.
Attaching ourselves to people who are not available, either physically or emotionally and seeking time or attention when they do not have it to give, leaving us feeling abandoned, unimportant or rejected is one example.
Attempting to please someone who is angry, critical or harsh, and then blaming ourselves when the person remains this way is another.
There are many more.
In here, in my office, as people talk about what they are missing in their relationships, their lives, often, the feelings that they have now are not new.  In the unpacking of emotions, we often find painful memories of emotionally absent parents, competitive siblings, even teachers who were harsh or dismissive or caused humiliation.
Having a parent who never showed up at a sporting event, or was depressed, or addicted, or ignored one child and favored another are common childhood experiences that shape how we feel about ourselves, our usefulness in and to the world.
And we need to feel useful.  We need to feel that we matter, that we are noticed.  That we are not small and insignificant and invisible. 
When don't feel like we matter, or something in our current relationship has us feeling neglected, unnourished or ignored, old pains and current ones can blend together leaving us spinning and unanchored.
It is so important to get in touch with these feelings, with our emotional memories and to reestablish ourselves and fortify ourselves to lead with our resiliency and continue to take good care of ourselves and our relationships.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Some thoughts on Grief

"Anyone who has ever grieved knows that grieving carries with it a tremendous wear and tear to the body itself, never mind the soul.  Loss is an assault; a certain exhaustion, as strong as the pull of the moon on the tides, needs to be allowed for eventually." ~ Elizabeth Stout in Abide with Me

Lately I've been hearing a lot of loss and grief in my office.  Loss of loved ones, loss of relationships, loss of jobs, health.  Other losses get talked about here too, like the loss of time, of years, of dreams or opportunies. The emotional pain that comes with loss can last a long time.  Since grief is not linear, it can take many routes and affect us in many different ways.  Those who know loss know that there is no one way of grieving. Some losses are more profound than others. Some loss is necessary in order for us to live and move forward.  We grieve loss even when we ourselves have initiated it, or know that it's for the best.

I think that part of living with loss is honoring the depth and scope of our feeling.  Good self care, talking, writing, movement, enveloping yourself with nourishment help us to function when the pain is relentless.  It is hard to see past the pain sometimes, but here in my office I have found that though many losses do not simply or ever disappear, they can change shape, yield meaning and be carried with us in ways that leave us well and resilient, even if we are not sure we want to be.

The loneliness that often comes with loss can leave us feeling like we are at a strange distance from our feelings, ourselves, and everyone else.  But finding a few safe places to touch base, to be understood, and to be heard can go a long way toward easing the worst of things, and bring us to new ways to live and keep going.  New thoughts, new hope and often, a new sense of who we are can emerge. 

We can let go, get swallowed up in the honesty of it, and come back again.  Maybe again and again.  And we can grieve and live.  It's like pushing a truck uphill in the mud sometimes, but it can be done.