Sunday, June 17, 2018

My Daily Reflections: on Father's Day

Today is father’s day and in many ways I struggle with how to remember and honour him.  My father has long moved on to whatever lies beyond life and I have grieved losing him before I got to know him better, before I got to ask him some important questions that will now probably never be answered unless we meet in the hereafter.

My father was a good man and a good provider. I think in his own wounded way he was a better parent to me than his parents were to him.  I also know that moving to a new country, starting over after a war and escaping from a country that was being taken over by Russian armies left lingering trauma upon his soul.

Having said all of that I am still faced with the struggle of healing my childhood wounds that were unintentionally caused by his unresolved woundedness. 

Yes for sure; I fully understand that he did the absolute best he could with the skills that he had.  I am not in any way detracting from the amazingness of what he was able to accomplish.  Starting from zero as an immigrant and building a business and buying a home he made sure that I always had the security of a roof over my head, a bed to sleep in and food to eat.  I was allowed to go to school and get an education (still considered somewhat a privilege in those days for a girl), heck I was even exposed to music and music lessons because of his love of the accordion.

But after all the good things are accounted for there are also all the things that did not happen, the omissions;  that are actually what causes the lingering wounds that I continue to struggle to heal.

I came across this poem today called: How do we forgive our fathers?

How do we forgive our fathers?
Maybe in a dream
Do we forgive our fathers for leaving us often or
forever when we were little.
Maybe for scaring us with unexpected rage
or making us nervous
because there never seemed to be any rage there at all.
Do we forgive our fathers for marrying or not marrying
our mothers?
For divorcing or not divorcing our mothers?
And shall we forgive them for their excesses of
warmth or coldness?
Shall we forgive them for pushing or leaning
for shutting doors
for speaking through walls
or never speaking
or never being silent?
Do we forgive our fathers in our age or in theirs
or their deaths
saying it to them or not saying it?
If we forgive our fathers what is left?
~poem from smoke signals~

The fact that someone put words to paper lets me know that I am not the only one with lingering questions that remain unanswered.  I am not the only one working through issues of feeling abandoned, unheard, discouraged, frightened even.  Things that a child feels but can’t express in words only internalized in feelings and emotions; that remain buried in the subconscious as values that don’t quite reflect the reality.  The experiences of a child are shaped by the feelings they have in response to their environment, and when that environment feels unsafe, the child internalizes (not knowing any better) that it must be their fault, that they are not good enough, not lovable enough to receive what they need.  And that child grows into a wounded adult with a false core belief that they are somehow broken, for if they had not been so unlovable they would have been nurtured in the way that they needed.

The adult in me can see that my father was a man of integrity.  He worked hard every day of his life.  He strove to be kind and loving and caring.  I think in many ways he cared more deeply even than he let others know, maybe because he was taught that men are supposed to be tough.  I saw him smile and laugh and sing, and I saw him fall asleep in exhaustion during even the most festive of family celebrations.  He was talented and creative and built amazing furniture with even the most primitive of tools, much of what he made was before the advent of power tools!  He loved nature and cared for birds and bees, planting single handed fields of clover. These are just a few of the characteristics he demonstrated and a few of the things he accomplished.

But his working such long hard hours meant I rarely saw him and I so wanted to be with him.  His caring seemed to directed almost exclusively to my mother, and he smiled most often when with his friends.  And I was not welcome in his workshop, possibly for fear I might get hurt, but I felt it was because I was a girl and not a son.  I felt I was not what he wanted; I had failed in in some inexplicable way by being born female.

And so I struggle every father’s day, how do I honour this man, who fathered me, but was so rarely around to be a father.  This man who was the proverbial threat when I misbehaved “just wait till your father hears about this!”  This man; who taught me to love reading because he loved books, but never sat at my bedside to read me a bed time story.  He taught me to love history and to be curious because he demonstrated those attributes, but I learned by watching him (hoping that if I became more like him then he would pay some attention to me and show me that he loved me) not because he shared these passions with me.  There is so much that I admire about this person I never really got to know, the intimate stranger in my life. 

I cried so long and hard when he died.  But now I wonder if my greatest grief was not that I had lost a father, but rather that I never really had the opportunity to know who my father really was, and that when he left this earthly plane, I lost the opportunity to ever gain the acceptance and love that my inner child still craves to this day.

“I love you Dad” seems a pale imitation of what I really feel, a sense of personal loss.  That what I actually love is a fantasy of what might have been, what could have been if life had not placed so many obstacles and challenges in his path.   

“I miss you Dad” not because you have gone on to the afterlife; I miss what we never had the opportunity to cultivate, to create; a relationship where I knew who you really were, what you dreamed of, what dreams you had to give up, and where you were interested in my dreams and sorrowed with me that I too had to give up on so many of my dreams.

“I honour you Dad”, not because we had a successful relationship but for doing the best you could. 

“I do forgive you Dad” not because you did anything overt that requires forgiveness, but because you are human and we humans make such a mess of relationships simply because our past leaves us so ill equipped to do a better job.

Renate Dundys Marrello
2018 – 06 – 17 

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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

My daily reflections: Push and Pull we Experience in Relationships

I had this thought today about how there is a push and pull effect we experience with relationships that are less than wholesome. 

First off there is this feeling of being used / manipulated controlled where a certain person usually someone we care for deeply and whom we wish cared for us. They know us well enough that they can easily “push our buttons” to arouse certain feelings in us. Maybe they are the ones who installed those buttons, those precipitators of  “not good enough” in the first place through comparisons and judgment and statements of insufficiency or lack. 

Or maybe they are people who watched our buttons being pushed by others and learned to emulate those pushing actions. Sadly those buttons are most often used to push and trigger our feelings of inadequacy.  And anytime we feel inadequate there is that subconscious play that unfolds as a result that always leads us to the same conclusion that we are somehow defective. 

And then when our emotions are heightened, when we are struggling when we are trying to understand, to work through, to find answers these same people have a fear response. They fear we will see the truth of their actions, that something will be revealed that is unflattering to them so they try to pull us away from our own healing. 

A common way of doing this is by implying that we are “too sensitive."  But a more harmful one is implying that "all you need is therapy, you are broken and therapy will fix you!" 

I have found that such people use the “you need therapy” line to deflect away from the fact that they are the cause of us needing therapy!  They don’t want us to realize that the way they treated us, judged us, complained about us, belittled us, condemned us has  anything to do with the way we feel.  They want us to jump to the conclusion that we feel the way we feel because we are intrinsically defective rather than explore that we are hurting because of what we have experienced / what has been done to us or said against us.

Another example is when you start to heal, start to create boundaries, start to say “NO”, start to care for yourself and show yourself self-compassion, start to go after your dreams, they try to pull you away from healing by calling you names like selfish or narcissistic.  They want to imply that the way you are healing toward knowledge and awareness is bad because knowledge and awareness exposes disturbed character patterns, reveals and exposes the truth about the  evil and or ugliness with which you have been treated 

So first they push us through their words and their actions into feeling insufficient, ineffective, not good enough, and then when we start to do authentic healing, they attempt pull us away from really exploring our innermost workings by implying that superficial talk therapy will expose our shortcomings, and that we need help exploring what is wrong with US rather than what is wrong with our relationship with them.

I sometimes get the feeling that those people in my life; who want me to put a bandage on my hurt emotions, who want me to stuff my feelings away in a dark corner, do so because they don’t want me to truly learn and expose that the problem I have is that I have for so long accepted their version of our reality.  Now that I am exposing my own reality, and see how they have tried to control my perception of my reality, they are afraid. They attempt to pull me away from healing, and too often they do so by trying to imply that my better, healthier more self-compassionate me is actually not healthy.  Of course if I comply they can then once again push my “buttons” of inadequacy! 

And so they attempt to push and pull again.
They push me away by calling me names or ignoring me, or excluding me.  And then as I distance myself in response to their pushing, they then resort to trying to pull me back in by implying that if I don’t forgive them and accept them the way they are (so they don’t have to change) that I am not being a loving caring person.   They try to pull me back in by implying I am defective if I don’t.  They imply that I am the problem for wanting to distance myself from their hurtful words and actions.

And so the circle could continue, if I let it. 

In stepping out of that circle, in creating a new path through my own discoveries, in learning that I don’t need to simply “talk about WHAT happened to me” but what I need to do is change the core beliefs programmed by what was DONE TO me;  I have become a threat.  I have become a threat to those who don’t want to see what I have exposed.  My discoveries lead me to the power of knowledge and they fear that my knowledge power will override their power of manipulative control. 

I have decided to take charge of the push pull in my life. I push myself to heal and I pull away from all situations that try to undermine my healing.

Renate Dundys Marrello
2018 – 06 – 05

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Tuesday, May 29, 2018

My Daily reflections: No longer willing to be manipulated by shamers

I have started noticing something that I never really thought about in the past. 
I notice that I no longer allow myself to be manipulated by blame and shame.
I no longer take responsibility for other people’s expression of outrage.
I no longer suppress my feelings to appease other people.

I never before observed that there are people who used their “feelings” to attack.  

Here is a general scenario:

  • I express my point of view, offer my opinion or express my concerns.
  • The other person does not like my point of view so they express anger towards me for daring to have that point of view.
  • I reaffirm that I have a right to my view point even if it is different from theirs.
  • They up the ante and call me names and tell me how horrible I am for “making them feel angry”.  
  • In other words; they hold me responsible for their feelings.  
  • Implying that I did something wrong, that in expressing my point of view I somehow forced them to become angry.

At this point I am left with a choice to make.
  • Do I back down and allow them to shame me into retracting my opinion? 
  • Or do I express my right to my opinion and that it is okay to have a difference of opinion. 

In the old days, before I learned to have compassionate respect for myself I always backed down and gave in to the person simply because I did not want to have them be “angry” with me. I went into what I called my “peacekeeper mode”.  I sacrificed my right to my opinion and I allowed their overt anger to shame me into silence.   I allowed their anger to overrule my right to my own opinion.

It is interesting that in learning and healing I have now changed. 
I no longer allow another person’s anger to shame me into silence. 
Because I have come to realize that when they use their anger to blame and or shame me they are actually manipulating me into compliance, they are blaming me and making me feel bad about myself in order to get things “their way”.  

I am learning that those who make their angry feelings my responsibility are actually being controlling.  I am not responsible for them being angry; it is their responsibility for not being able to deal with a feeling of discomfort caused by a difference of opinion.

As I look back I see how easily I used to be manipulated by others simply by accepting that I was “responsible” for how they felt. My old people pleasing persona felt the need to appease, to back down, to give in, all for the sake to “their” happiness.  I felt on some deep false core belief level that I was responsible for “their” feelings.  This of course always required me to swallow or disregard my own feelings.  I could not have any feelings because it was my job to safe guard their feelings and my feelings got in the way.  That meant if I felt angry at being “shut down” I was forced to swallow my anger, I did this by telling myself I was a bad person for feeling angry. 

I no longer feel that way. I feel now that I deserve better.  I actually feel that I deserve to feel angry when someone tries to manipulate me with blame and shame.  It is a legitimate feeling in response to being manipulated.   It is a warning siren saying “look out your boundaries are being violated”.   I don’t turn my anger on the other person (that is what revenge looks like) but what I do now is accept the message the anger is sending me that I am being violated and take steps to protect myself from feeling guilt or shame. 

I have learned that while it is good to feel a responsibility to be kind and nice (the proper place for guilt and shame is as a reminder to act with civility); it is not good for me to allow my niceness to be used against me (where my guilt and shame is used to coerce me to change to further someone else’s agenda). 

I am learning that I must utilize self-compassion to recognize the emotional abuse of having my niceness and my propensity to feel responsibility for others people’s feelings be used to attack my value as a person of equal rights.  Boundary work means I am learning that while others have a right to disagree with me, they do not have the right to shame me into compliance.

My only questions now are,

  • Why has it taken me this long to figure this out?
  • Where were the people in my life that could have taught me this sooner?  
  • Why am I still affected when someone tries this trick on me? 
  • Why do I still harbor that nasty inner voice that says, “Maybe you should back down” and why do I have to work to hard to preserve my rights?
  • Why is there still a part of me that wants to be perceived as being “nice” that is willing to suffer that pain of shame in order in exchange for the outside validation of niceness?
  • When will my own self validation that I am always striving to be a thoughtful kind and nice person be enough to not lead me into the temptation of allowing myself to be controlled by the shamers? 

Renate Dundys Marrello
2018 – 05 – 29

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Monday, May 28, 2018

My Daily Reflections: Breaking through

“Breakthrough”: that moment when you say; "I have had enough I am not going to take it anymore!"

It is both liberating and isolating!

Those who do not understand the why and the how you are changing see a stranger has emerged!

Which is why “break-throughs” are often called breakdowns; because it is simpler to identify you as crazy rather than accepting that you have grown tired of being abused and put down. 

“Break throughs” happen when you are so tired of being mistreated that you are willing to do the hard work of changing yourself and your false core beliefs come up for review!  They happen when you are tired enough of being mistreated and silently accepting mistreatment in order to “not rock the boat”’ that you are willing to face the rejection that comes with saying NO MORE.

“Break throughs” change you from the inside out, you change your beliefs about your self-worth and you create boundaries so that you stop being compliant and easy going and you begin to stand up for yourself, and hold people accountable for their negative and hurtful actions. 

“Break throughs” help you to see clearly those people who only tolerated you in their lives because of your usefulness to them; for whom saying “I love you” while treating you badly, was a way of keeping you trapped in relationships that feed their ego.

“Break throughs” are painful for they reveal truths that a part of you suspected (those moments when you felt unlovable or unworthy) but for the first time you see those truths revealed in all their ugliness and you grieve for what you thought you had but which turned out to be a lie.

“Break throughs” liberate you because you no longer cling to relationships that are based on false assumptions of caring.

“Break throughs” isolate you because the moment you no longer function as a “need fulfiller” to the users, they dump you.

Renate Dundys Marrello
2018 – 05 – 28

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My Daily Reflections: is this love?

I find that there is much talk about love and love being the answer but there is very little reflection done on what does it mean to act in a loving manner.

I have often heard the words spoken to me “I love you” by the very people that do things to me or say things to me that deeply hurt me.  How can this be?

I have had people tell me that they love me, and yet when I am with them I feel not only unloved but unworthy of being loved.  How can that be?

It has led me to ponder; do people actually think about what they say and / or do and how it might be perceived by the other person?

Here are some examples I have experienced in my own life journey:

o    “oh what a wonderful time I had today going shopping with XXX  we had such a great time together, I can’t believe how much fun we had”, and then goes on to list all the things they saw, tried on, laughed over etc.  When this comes from a person who doesn’t invite me to "just go on a shopping outing", how am I supposed to feel loved?  They don’t want to spend time with me but relish telling me about the time the spent with someone else!!!  Then they finish their conversation with an “I love you.”   What does that even mean? How can they make me feel so excluded and then claim to love me?

o   “I meant that with love”.  This coming from someone who has just finished calling me all kinds of names, blackened my name with malicious gossip, had people spy on me, told me in a long letter all the things that were wrong with me, excluded me and stopped talking to me.  So how do they reconcile love with those kinds of actions?  How can someone do such cruel things and then say they were meant with love?  I am still amazed when I think back on this incident that this person claimed to do this with loving intent!

o   I have been told what to do and how to be and what I am allowed to say or not say by people who claim they love me!  If they want me to be different than who I am, if they want me to pretend to be someone else do they really love me or do they love who they want me to be to satisfy their ego needs?  And if they want me to be other than I am do they really believe that this is the way to express love?  Do they consider how it makes me feel to not meet up to their expectations? 

o   “My friend XXX is such a wonderful person”, and this is then followed by a list of why they are so wonderful and that list is all about what that person DID for them.  Are they telling me that I am lacking in some way for not “doing” those things?  Or are they telling me that when I do those things I am not worthy of praise or thanks, but it is okay to make me feel as though I have not done enough because they praise others but not me?  Is this a loving action, a kind action, a thoughtful action?   Am I supposed to interpret this as love?  When they say they love me after praising another person while not recognizing my good actions are they thinking about my feelings? Is this love?

o   Being excluded by someone who claims to love you is an interesting one.  “I did not want to be a bother to you and give up my independence so I didn’t tell you that I went for surgery.”  Only to find out that they told just about every other friend and family member about that same surgery.  How am I supposed to interpret that?  What am I being punished for?  Do I come across as being bothered when asked for help?  Do I overstep the boundaries and impose upon another person’s independence?  Am I such a bad friend that I need to be excluded?  And if I am such a bad person why do they then still insist that they love me when their actions make me feel like I am being punished? 

o   “I love you but..”, and then they list my failings, what I should not do, how it is wrong for me to take care of my own needs, how I am selfish when I go after my dreams, and that when I am punished with the silent treatment and being excluded it is because I deserve it for not catering to their wants.  How is that supposed to feel like love?  Do they for a moment consider how I might be feeling to be told that I am “not good enough” but I am expected to condone such treatment as if my feelings do not count?  Is that love?  It doesn’t feel very loving.  And when take up the courage to express my hurt feelings and  to express my need for an apology for being treated to unthoughtfully;  to be told that there will be no apology because they have nothing to apologize for…is that love?  

These are just some of the examples of the bad experiences that I have had with the word love.  I think it is the most misused word in language.  For far too many; love is how they feel when they get what they want.  They see love as something they feel when they make themselves feel superior or better than others.  Love is what they get from others, and claim to want from others but far too often it is a one way street, with them on the receiving end.

When I think of love I see inclusion.  It is about how I can make a person feel accepted even as they struggle.  It is letting a person know they are cherished for who they are and who they aspire to become not for what they do or don’t do.  Love is offering another person a way to improve versus shaming them with inadequacies.   Love is seeing a person’s differences and acknowledging those differences without demeaning those differences.

Have I got the wrong impression of what love is, or do those others in my life who hurt me so deeply with their love know something I don’t know?   Some days I am so sure that love hurts.  Other days I know equally well that love should not hurt.

What do you think?

Renate Dundys Marrello
2017 – 05 – 27

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Saturday, April 28, 2018

My Daily Reflection: Change

You know what?
Yes, I have changed.

  • I’ve changed because I have been hurt by people who said one thing and did another.
  • I’ve changed because my trust was betrayed.
  • I’ve changed because I have been lied to and about.
  • I’ve changed because I have been bullied and called names.
  • I’ve changed because I have learned that people manipulate the truth and gossip and destroy reputations.
  • I’ve changed because I have learned that people use other people to get what they want.
  • I’ve changed because I have learned that people will say and do anything to win, even when their winning means pain for others.

I’m not as nice as I used to be, because I no longer am willing to get used or be walked over. 

I don’t trust people and tell them my secrets, because behind fake smiles hide those who take advantage and betray.

I distance myself from people because they have to earn my trust before I will allow myself to move closer.

I’ve come to realize I’m the only person I can depend on 100%.  
I am the only one who knows my truth.
I am the only one who can protect myself from the unscrupulous by building a protective wall and boundaries that keep me safe.

Yes trauma does that!

It takes a trusting open person and changes them into a skeptical, cynical, untrusting person wrapped in a security blanket of personal protection.

Renate Dundys Marrello
2017 – 04 – 27

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Friday, April 27, 2018

My Daily Reflections: dealing with difficult times


"Be thankful for the difficult times. During those times, you grow. Be thankful for your limitations, because they give you opportunities for improvement. Be thankful for each new challenge, because it will build your strength and character. Be thankful for your mistakes. They will teach you valuable lessons." ~ Troy Amdahl

Sometimes I don’t like what I have been handed. It seems unfair!

And yet

To really practice gratitude I have to find a way to be grateful even for the adversity.

My moments of greatest transformation occur when I can look within the hurt and find the courage strength and power to change and grow.

  • Sometimes this is a struggle!
  • Sometimes I rant against the unfairness!
  • Sometimes I cry out in anger and anguish; “why me?”

But in facing a situation that is beyond my control, I have found that I regain control when I makes choices about what I will learn, do, become, in the aftermath of that situation.

It is a choice I get to make about how I will move forward, what kind of person will I become after the trauma or tragedy I am facing. It is in the choice that I make that I discover that elusive something that I can be grateful for. Sometimes that elusive something is only the gift of learning something about myself; my strength, my ability to grow or to overcome or to survive.

I am not saying it is easy.
I am not saying it is right that we have to face this situation, or traumatic event that sent us into a spiral out of control.
I am not in any way absolving those who created the negative or traumatic situations nor am I minimizing their culpability in it.

I am simply saying that my power lies in the path I choose after the event, how I shape my now into a path that moves forward, in a new direction, toward new possibilities.

Renate Dundys Marrello
2017 – 04 – 26

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