Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Where Might a Change in Thinking Habits Take You?

I received a question from a reader recently who was in desperation calling out for help.  They are in a very negative place and I recognized that place, for I dwelt there for a long time.  

As I read this cry of desperation I realized that I have changed over the course of my healing journey. Because it might help you my dear reader, I want to share with you what I do differently now than what I did before.

Every time I hear a negative thought in my mind that goes round and round and seems to get stuck in replay; I ask myself this one question.  Are you ready?  This is so vitally important!

"Is thinking about this helping me get better or is it keeping me stuck in the past?"

If a thought keeps me stuck in the past I owe it to myself to change my thoughts.  

If I continue to think about how horrible my life is in the aftermath of estrangement, if I focus on how sad or hurt or angry I am, then I am imprisoning myself and I remain in the hurting space.   The only way to get out to the hurting space is to change the mind space I live in.

This requires self-discipline.  This requires me to become aware that changing my thoughts is an action of self-love and self-compassion.  This kind of self-empathy is something that I deserve.  This kind of self-empathy is something that you too deserve. 

When you are in a negative space and when you reinforce that negative space by thinking or speaking or writing about it you remain in that negative space

Here is my challenge to myself and I encourage you to take up this challenge for yourself also: 

  • Every day instead of thinking, talking, writing about all the ways your situation has made your life a misery, start writing a list of things you once loved to do and would like to do again.  
  • Every day write at least one thing that you appreciate about yourself
  • Every day write at least three things that you are grateful for

If you do this every day over and over again you will start to see changes.  Changes started for me when I started doing something different for myself.  These changes can do the same for you when you become committed to doing something different for you.  

When I am in need of a self pep talk this is what I say:
  • Wallowing in sorrow and self-pity has gotten me to where I am now.  
  • Continuing to do the same will keep me stuck in this negative emotional place.  
  • It is by trying something different that I have the opportunity to see where I might go that is different from where I am now.

I am trying hard each and every day to start the next chapter in my life. 

Are you ready to join me exploring the possibility of healing?

Are you willing to try it?

Where might a change in thinking habits take you?

Renate Dundys Marrello
2015 – 04 – 28

My Facebook Reflections Page 

picture credits as marked or unknown

Monday, April 27, 2015

Evaluating the nature of happiness

I have just finished a 100 day happiness challenge.  The goal was to document each day things that I experienced as “creating happiness in my life”.

This is the second year that I have given myself this challenge opportunity, so I knew at the start that it would not always easy to come up with something every day that “makes me happy”

I have had people say to me, “I could not do that kind of a challenge because I have nothing to be happy about."   Of course those kinds of comments make me even more determined to explore what exactly is the nature of happiness and how do I, as an individual, invite happiness into my life?

If you have been following my blog you know that I am on a journey of finding healing in the aftermath of the trauma of being estranged by my daughter.  So there is a certain “brokenness” in my life, a feeling of being out of control in a sea of emotions.

So how does a happiness challenge fit into this healing journey?

For me taking back control over my happiness is a symbol of recovery in that I am making a conscious choice to not let the traumatic event remain in control of my well-being.   I want to create a place where the estrangement is something that happened to me but does not control me.  A place where estrangement is an event in my life but does not define who I am.

So what did I learn in this 100 day challenge?

First thing that I learnt was that it takes effort to become aware of elements in my life that create a feeling of happiness.  I was required to notice things that I might otherwise just live through without appreciating the gift of happiness that they had to share with me.  This is related to being mindful of the present, what is here and how in this moment and how does it make me feel.

I was very aware that it was a daily choice to, "make it happen".

In recovery, or healing, I am too often immersed in the negative emotions of the trauma of being estranged.  Emotions like sadness and hurt and anger, disbelief, fear that this is all I will ever feel, helplessness, loss of trust, joy and enthusiasm are all negative emotions but even more than this they are all tied to an event I have no control over.  

I can’t do anything about the event to change the emotions associated with the event.  This leaves me feeling helpless, victimized, out of control. 

To change this I have to find way to switch gears.  Find a way to regain control over which emotions I choose to favour.  Since I can’t change my emotions about the event I am only left with the option of changing which moment I will give more energy to.

Will I feed the negative emotions by dwelling on the trauma, or will I feed the positive emotions by focusing on the present and the good things that are happening or that I can participate in if I choose?

Which emotions could I focus on instead if I choose to live life in the present? 

  • Each day I choose to start with thankfulness, thankful for another day, another opportunity to heal, to build my life into something bigger than, stronger than before.

  • Each day I make myself list things from the day before that I am grateful for so that I become more mindful of the good things in my life.

And now each day I will become more aware of the choices I can make to be happy.  The important lesson that I have leaned is that there are two general categories of happiness. 

Category one – things that happen to me that make me happy
Category two – things that I choose to make happen that make me happy.

The former are things not in my control, they include my responses to actions by others and events in my life that are not initiated by me.   In my 100 days challenge, there were 16 events that fell into this category.  Less than a quarter of the things that brought me happiness came from the outside. 

If I had allowed myself to only feel happiness when something good happened to me, I would not have had very many happy moments.

The second category is; those things that I have control over because they start with me taking action or changing my thought process.  That means that on 84 days of the challenge I was able to choose to be happy because of something that I did to bring happiness into my life.

I found this to be powerfully liberating. 

Renate Dundys Marrello
2015 – 04 – 27

My Facebook Reflections Page 

picture credits as marked or unknown

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Post Estrangement: changing the face of abandonment

One of the first issues I worked on during my healing journey was facing my abandonment issues.

I realized almost immediately that the reason I was so devastated by being shunned by my estranging daughter and her cohort of followers, was because I felt abandoned.  And I knew that unless I addressed my fears about abandonment, (where they came from and why they survived), I would not be able to heal.

Abandonment is a deep seated fear in humans.  To be abandoned as a child means you most likely will not survive.  So it is about survival of the species, a core human fear, an instinct  to do whatever it takes to not be abandoned.

As a species we will do almost anything to not be abandoned.  We strive to fit in, to make others like us, or to be needed, and we do this to prevent us from being abandoned!   We will tolerate painful situations, we will debase ourselves, we will try to make friends with the bully, we will try to become invisible so that we don’t pose a threat.  In other words we will do things that are negative for our personal well-being to avoid being ostracized, rejected, shunned or abandoned. 

At some point in time we have to recognize these fears for what they are, they are the shackles of our own imprisonment in relationships that are not healthy for our soul.

When I was feeling particularly abandoned, rejected and alone in the aftermath of being estranged, I was so devastated I was ready to do things that meant sacrificing my self esteem and my self respect to win them back!  I was even prepared to debase myself to earn my way back into the lives of the very people who were so clearly out to hurt me.  After all they were using shunning, and the pain they knew that would cause me, to manipulate and control me!

I was prepared to apologize for wrongs I did not commit!!   
I was ready to humiliate myself to get them back!   
I would have played the meek and mild doormat for one phone call or message.
I was prepared to walk around on egg shells to pacify their egos!
I was willing to play second fiddle to give them the glory of their center stage spotlight!

In other words, to escape the agony of abandonment I was willing to neglect my own needs for validation and respect! I was almost willing to live a lie so they could think they were right!  And then I realized that to do this would mean I had to sacrifice what little self esteem I had left! 

This was when I realized I had to confront these deep seated fears.  I realized that I had to come to understand and master and control the survival instinct for belonging.   I came to realize that I would remain in that place of suffering because of being abandoned by my children if I did not tackle my abandonment fears. 

My survival as a person, as a free individual, intact with self respect and self worth, now depended on me figuring out when that instinctive need to be accepted was in my best interests and when it was not! 

Learning self-acceptance was part of the journey.  That journey took me into areas like self-esteem and confidence and similar concepts.  Learning new ways to look at myself through my own vision rather than as a reflection of other people's vision of what they thought I ought to be. This was all good and beneficial but that is a whole other topic. 

For me the big breakthrough was learning that belonging and acceptance choices needed to be my choices not those imposed on me by an instinctive fear reaction. This was the big lifesaving lesson for me.

In facing this revelation I was able to take back my power, the power of being in the position to make choices.  I was able to decide whether or not to let a primitive survival fear be in charge or to use my mind to create choices that empowered me.  

  • learning that there are times to strive for being accepted and there are times to walk away recognizing that too many sacrifices are required to be accepted. 
  • learning that belonging does not mean sacrificing "self"
  • learning that belonging is not enough, there has to be reciprocal wanting you to belong. 
  • learning that belonging as a source of seeking outside validation is not the purpose of belonging, validation must come from inside myself. 
  • learning that belonging should bring joy and a feeling of being accepted for who I am
  • learning that belonging is not a replacement for feeling loved and cherished. 

Gaining control over this primal instinct to belong, was an important step on my healing journey.  It taught me to seek to "belong" where it is healthy for me to belong.  It allowed me to start the process of letting go of the struggle to belong where I was not wanted unless I made the ultimate sacrifice, changing who I am. 

Renate Dundys Marrello
2015 – 04 – 23

Photo credits - as marked or unknown 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Post Estrangement: What is the nature of healing?

I continue to think and firmly believe that there is "healing" after estrangement and that healing is a real possibility. Without this hope I fear I might give up.  I cling to the hope that I am right. 

I have heard it said that you never heal.  That for me is unacceptable.  Right now this feels too much like giving up, like surrender. And I am not ready to do that. I am a fighter and I will fight to regain that joy of living that I feel is my right. 

I want to be a "survivor of" not a "victim of" estrangement. 

For me hope and healing walk hand in hand down the path toward my future. 

Maybe I have a different definition of healing, but I feel that healing is possible.  As with any seriously grave wound, whether physical or emotional, there will be scars.  Of that I am accepting.  I understand that what has been done can’t be undone.  Like a limb lost in a horrible accident that cannot be reattached, so the loss of a child due to estrangement is a forever thing. 

Healing does not mean that the wound never existed.  

Healing means learning to live with the consequences of the wound and not allowing the wound to determine the rest of my life.

Healing does not mean that there won't always be a scar.  Severe wounds leave severe scars.  That is the nature of our lives.   However I believe that healing means learning to accept the scar as a symbol of what I have endured or even maybe even honouring that I have survived!

As I struggle each day to find my way on this healing journey; I am ever hopeful that it will be possible to learn to live with the consequences of the estrangement.   The emptiness, the sense of loss,  the occasional fear that if only I had known something more or better it could have been avoided, these are all thoughts that haunt my mind.  These and the many other questions that we estranged parents face, are the challenges I must work through.  

In working through all the emotions and feelings associated with the loss I feel in the aftermath of estrangement, it is my hope that I will be able to put them away as thoughts processed, rather than thoughts before me which somehow control my present.

If I think of the losses that estrangement has placed before me, not just the loss of the adult child who chose this past, but the whole relationship and family dynamic that has been lost, as something tangible, like the loss of a limb, I can start to see a different path toward healing.

When someone loses a limb, they don't get the limb back, and yet they still live a full life, a loss is not the ending.  There is learning to live after the loss.  There is rehabilitation; there is learning to use a prosthetic etc.  And yet every time that person looks at the stump, they know what they have lost. For them healing is learning how to live with the loss, learning to accept that which has happened, and finding a way forward and making life valuable and precious and good in spite of the loss.

When I see the emotional wound / trauma of estrangement from this perspective I realize that I too am in of need of time for rehabilitation and learning.  For me this change happens in my mind.  Yes every time I think of my estranging daughter and her actions I will be reminded of the event, the trauma, and the pain.  You can’t erase such a powerful memory.  However, if healing is learning how to accept the pain and the loss and finding a way forward, making my life a precious and valued commodity in spite of the loss, then healing is possible. 

I feel that healing for me, means that I must find a way to see NOW, this moment, as a new beginning.  No I will never deny or forget what has happened, but I must remain focused on the "rest", the certain “what else” that means that my life has focus and value and beauty and direction.   

For me healing means accepting that while the loss that I have endured will always be a part of this new "rest of my life", I don't think it has to remain the "defining" part of my life. 

It means moving from the thought that" 

"I am an estranged person" 

to this new one, 

"I am a person who happens to have been estranged".  

That, to me, is the goal of healing.  That is the struggle; that is the path that I am on. 

Renate Dundys Marrello 
2015 - 04 - 20 

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Sunday, April 19, 2015

Post Estrangement: Changing what you hope for.

During the early days of estrangement you hope and dream that it had never happened.  This is the denial stage when you still have the misguided notion that it is all a bad dream and you will just wake up one day and it will be back to family life as usual.  That whatever they were upset about will be dealt with and you just go back to being a normal family.  A family that goes through difficult times but manages to stick together and work things out.  Blood is thicker than water and all those kinds of messages run through your mind as you struggle with the hardship of being shunned. 

Then you get to the stage where the estrangement has been going on for long enough that you accept that it is real.  Your child really has done this thing called estrangement.  They have also cut ties with those members of the family that do not agree with them.  You realize that this is a power struggle and they want above all else to be “right”.  They drop anyone who suggests that compromise might be in order. 

During this stage you start to ask all the harrowing “why” questions, that unfortunately resolve nothing.   But you cling to hope. It is a desperate kind of hope.

Your hopes change to wishing for your estranging adult child to recognize the damage they are causing to the family and that they will somehow come to their senses and do what is necessary for the family to reconcile.  You have these hopes that it is a “personal growth phase” they are going through and when they “grow up” they will realize how silly their behaviour is.  You hope that this Mother’s Day or this Christmas or this Birthday everything will be resolved.  You send letters and then hope they will reply or hope they will open the door to communication.

During this stage you place all your hopes on the adult child that has estranged.  You hope their hearts will soften, you hope they will care enough to make amends.  You hope they will change.

And as you hope for change; and have your hopes demolished day in and day out by the continuing silence you come to realize that this hope is slowly destroying you.  This hope causes you pain every morning and every evening when your hopes are once again unfulfilled.  This hope keeps you stuck in wistful thinking and magical make believing.  This hope takes power out of your hands and places that power into the hands of the very person(s) causing you to suffer. 

This stage, I fear, was the longest and also the hardest part of the grieving journey for me.  It kept me stuck in the past.  It kept me repeating useless questions like:
  • What made her turn out to be the kind of person who can do this?
  • Why doesn’t she see that this is not the way to communicate and work things out?
  • Why won’t she respond to my letters and my apologies?
  • What did I do that was so horrible that deserves this kind of punishment?

Until finally I woke up one day and realized I was losing myself in useless hope.  I was giving up my own power by placing all the hope for healing into the hands of the very person who caused the wound in the first place.

That was when I realized I had to change the direction of my hopefulness.  

Instead of placing my hope outside myself and giving power to the estranger, I had to place hopefulness on my own shoulders and upon the actions I could take to regain peace in my life.

To live means to hope, but the hope needs to be about what I need and what I want to have a better life.  That meant I had to become hopeful that I could and would survive this traumatic event.  I had to build and then believe in the hope that regardless what my estranging daughter did or did not do I could create a meaningful life.  

  • I stated to hope that I could heal
  • I stated to hope that I could create a different life than I expected but good none the less
  • I started to hope that I could find joy and happiness again
  • I started to hope that I could live an exciting and enthusiastic life even though…..
  • I started to hope for new and rewarding friendships
  • I started to hope that a future without what I had expected can still be good.
And as I started to place my hopes in what I could do for myself, I was able to start the long journey toward healing, toward reclaiming the right of every human, a full and rewarding life here and now in the present.

Hope placed in my abilities to change and transform was essential for me to recognize that just because the life that I dreamed of did not turn out, I still had dreams to pursue, and challenges to be met and living to do. 

And best of all, I started to realize that I deserved this!

Because I am worth it!

Renate Dundys Marrello
2014 - 04 - 19 

Photo credits - as marked or unknown 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Advice for my Grandson - Choices

Life is about making choices.  

Each day we are faced with a decision about how we are going to face the challenges of that day.  And in the choices that we make we determine the energy we bring to the day.  Will it be positive energy or will it be negative energy?

The same choices apply to how we come to our relationships!  

- Will we bring positive energy to them or negative.  
- Will we build the relationship up or will be tear it down?  
- Will we see the person as bad, or as a good person who made a mistake?  
- Will help the other person up when they stumble and fall, or will we hurl stones at then while they are down?

The choices we make with regard to our relationships determine the nature of that relationship.
You cannot expect a relationship to survive and grow if you are putting negative energy into it.
You cannot injure a person and expect them to embrace you with affection

The choices you make today and the actions you take based on those choices determines the tapestry of your relationships in the future.

Will it be whole?
Will it be full of holes?

The choice is yours. 

Always remember that what damages have been done in the past are often difficult to repair in the future so be careful about what you choices you make. 

Your Mamma-rae

"Advice for my Grandson" is a series of letters I write to my grandson because as an estranged parent I have been deprived of the opportunity to share advice with him in person.  These are things I imagine a young person needs to learn to become a well rounded kind and loving human being.  As I get older I realize that there is all kinds of stored up knowledge of the lessons that life teaches us and these are the gifts I would give to my grandson.  He is always in my thoughts and someday, through this legacy he will know how much love I had to share.
Renate Dundys Marrello 

My Facebook Reflections Page

Photo credits - as marked or unknown  

Saturday, April 11, 2015

post-estrangement: Coping Skills Become a Lifeline

I think that learning coping skills is an important part of the healing after estrangement.  Estrangement is like a wound that never seems to heal and so you have to figure out different ways to cover up the "woundedness" while you struggle to put the pieces of your soul back together again. 

My first vow post- estrangement was "I will travel and / or see something every month".  

Seeking adventure became that activity that motivated me to do something.  

When I wanted to stay in bed all day, the planning of an adventure got me up and doing the research.  Once the itinerary work was done there was the packing and preparing.  Then of course there was the actual adventure itself and the thousands of photographs to journal the event.  (more about the purpose of photography in another blog) 

Adventure travel has been the common thread for me through these years of grieving and gradual recovery. 

I remember my first trip was with my sister in September 2009.  I could barely put one foot in front of the other I felt so weighted down with sorrow.  And yet I still vividly see in my mind’s eye the beauty and marvels of that trip.  At first it was really, really hard to plan and execute these adventures.  Slowly it got easier and easier.  Now I realize that at first I was "running away from the grief".  Gradually that changed and now I am realizing that I am "running towards life".  

Having a new desire / goal in my life has been like an anchor through all the chaos of the swirling emotions brought about by being estranged.  I sometimes wonder if having this centering goal was one of the factors in keeping me focused on what I needed to do for myself in order to heal.

I am pleased to report that not a month has gone by since that decision in 2009 without an adventure.  Even a small one counts (like meeting a friend in another city to go on a hike).  And then of course there are the big ones like 3 months back packing in Europe.  I feel that in forcing myself to create new memories I am slowly building up a stock pile of "go to" images for when my mind starts to ruminate. 

Whenever I feel the urge to ruminate; I start to visualize a trip. I try to see as much detail day by day of the trip that I can while recreating the adventure in my mind.  

Focusing on those details gradually drowns out the memories of the estrangement.  They are never totally gone, alas, but at least I can push them into the background and allow the more pleasant memories center stage.  This has proven to be especially useful on those restless, can’t sleep nights.
Renate Dundys Marrello 
photo credit: unknown

Friday, April 10, 2015

Down Memory Lane: Stories for my Grandson

I love swimming!  As far back as I can remember I have always loved swimming.  I think I connect swimming with freedom.  My earliest memory of actual swimming, is riding 2 miles to take swimming lessons at Humberside C.I. swimming pool.  I know I was young, only 7 years old because that was the summer that my sister was born and I was allowed to go off more on my own.   I am not sure if it was because it was normal in 1959 for children at age 7 to be independent or because Mom wanted one less worry as she cared for my baby sister.  

Oct 1957 - This is me on my fat wheel bike with training wheels.
I am 5 years old. 
I was 7 and 8 years old riding to Humberside CI
on the same bike minus training wheels. 
I was ashamed to still be on a baby bike, but it was still freedom!
Either way, I loved my freedom. Once a week off I rode to my swimming lesson. 

However I was horribly embarrassed because I was still riding my first bicycle, a small fat wheel starter bike.  I was embarrassed by my bike because it was a small kid's bike and at nine years old, I thought of myself as a big kid, and because it had fat wheels and none of the other kids had fat wheels.  I so wanted a new “big girl” bike but that was still 2 years in the future. 

At Humberside C.I. that first summer I learned water basics and how to swim.  I got my “width badge”, which meant that I had learnt how to swim and could cross the pool’s width on my own. 

The following summer, still on my little kid bike, I once again made my way to Humberside C.I. once a week and earned my “length badge” meaning that I had accomplished the skill of swimming the length of the pool. 

That was the end of my swimming lessons.  The thought was, you know how to swim and so all you need to do now is practice.  I practiced every chance I got and though that was not often, by the time I was 14 and entered high school I was a fairly good swimmer.  

I loved swim class.  First reason to love it, it was swim class! Second reason to love it, NO BOYS!  We were separated into boy group and girls group for all physical education classes.  I loved this because I was always being teased by the boys.  So Phys Ed was my favorite class because there were no boys around to tease me!

I was always the first person changed so that I could 'quick walk' (no running allowed) to the pool and dive in.  I was always thrilled when I was able to swim 2 lengths before the other girls arrived.  That became my challenge every class. 

I relished every lesson we had in that first year of high school.  I felt at home in the water.  I was the first one in and the last one out.  While the other girls were rushing to get changed so they would have time to dry their hair before class, I swam one more length.  I always made an effort to be at the far end of the pool at period end so that when teacher blew the whistle and called, “swim to the deep end of the pool”.  This meant that while all the others were clamoring to be first out I had those precious moments to slowly swim to the other end.  I wonder now if my teacher knew?  She never scolded me for that slow swim.  She never urged me to go faster.  Did she know my love of swimming?  Maybe that is why she invited me to swim team!  

Then it was time to head to the dressing room and change as fast as possible.  There never was time for hair drying and I always went to my next class with wet hair! 

The next year tragedy struck.  Bruce Leighton, a boy who lived just a block away from me died.  At 15 it was my first experience with death and that was traumatic enough.  Even worse was the way he died.  He was the first boy in the pool. He was the boy, who like me, always wanted to be first in the pool.  If that had been ‘girls pool day’ that would have been me, dead in the pool.  Dead of electrocution!  One of the pool lamps had a water seal failure and the electric wire came in contact with the water and the water became a big carrier of electricity.  When Bruce dove in for his first length, just the way I did, he was instantly electrocuted.  

For days I walked around in a daze.  Not only was I mourning the loss of a childhood neighbor, I was also fully aware of my close brush with death. 

Happily the pool was only closed long enough for repairs and safety upgrades to be made and then it was back to normal swim classes and fun in the pool.  And yes I continued to be the first one in the pool, diving in for my first length before the other girls arrived!

Renate Dundys Marrello 

My Facebook Reflections Page

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Post Estrangement: the reality of healing

You don't just wake up each morning feeling better. 

You wake up each morning and you make a choice "today I will work on _________".  (Fill in the blank). 

I wish I could tell you that you just one day wake up with your old zest for life back and feel the exuberant joy.  It is not so simple.

Each day I choose to read things that inspire changes  and force me to work on the way that I look at life in spite of the grief I still feel. 

I was thinking yesterday, the grief never goes away, you just get a whole lot better at managing it and controlling how much of your life it takes over by it. 

I think that this message from "Your Life After Trauma" by Michelle Rosenthal really helped me:  

"The intention in recovery is less to excise the past than to integrate it, folding it into yourself and your brain so that it becomes a small part of the larger you."

Yes I do believe that is true, the event of my trauma is estrangement.  It does not go away.  It is a part of who I am.  But I do have a choice.  The event can become my life, or I can choose to make the event become a small part of who I am.

Always it comes down to making a choice of what to do and how to do it. 

That sometimes is really hard to do!  There are days when you want to just go with the flood of emotions and curl up and give up.  Those are the days when I call on my inner warrior and I fight back for my life.  Those are the days when I use my anger against what was done to me and what was taken from me to fuel my warrior into action. 

I just don't want to give anyone a false illusion that healing just spontaneously happens.  It is a step by step, day by day, choice by choice journey.

Renate Dundys Marrello 
2015 - 04 - 08 

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Post Estrangement: Does rumination help me or hinder me?

There is nothing wrong with the life that I am leading.  

I have people that care for me and for whom I care.  I do things every day that I enjoy doing.  I see things and do things that bring me joy. 

And yet I spend an inordinate amount of time each day pining for something that I have no control over.  I pine for my estranged daughter who has taken herself out of my life.  I pine for the relationship I had hoped to have with my grandson.  And in pining for these things I am telling my unconscious mind that what I do have is somehow “not good enough”.  

And today as I ponder all the wonderful grand things in my life I consider this:  am I being fair to myself?

Is pining for the “might have beens” preventing me from fully reveling in and loving every moment of what I do have?   If I had never had children, then what I am doing now would be a dream come true. 

I am doing now all those things that I put on hold to have a family.  I should be over the moon happy.  So is my own habit to daily focus on what I don’t have pulling me into a negative thought spiral?  Am I actually the one preventing me for really truly being content in the life that I do have?   And if I am my own biggest obstacle to contentment how do I change my attitude and my approach to the thoughts with which I navigate my day?

Something in me is crying to be heard.  Something in me wants to be healed.  Something in me wants to get to that place where the yearning for “what isn’t” ends.

I think I need to stop thinking of myself as an estranged parent.  Being estranged is something that happened to me, like losing a limb.   If a person who loses a limb sees the rest of their life as a limbless person do they not handicap themselves?  Do they not need to find a path to seeing their life from the perspective of all that is yet possible?   And if someone who loses a limb can fight back and live life fully, surely I can do the same.  An event, no matter how traumatic is an event.  This event is something that shaped my past.  This event does not have to define my present nor shape my future.  This is the choice that I need to make, to stop living my present wishing the event had never happened or could be in some way altered. 

The past is what it is.  My life now is what it is. 

And there is so much in my present that is good and should be celebrated with joy and enthusiasm.  

Does ruminating help me or hinder me from living the life that I do have to the fullest?  

I am starting to believe the later.  And the encouraging thing is that in seeing this I am empowered to change the way I think! And in changing the way I think I can start to respond to the situation with a different outlook.  Hopefully as I work on this I will be able to make the breakthrough to put the trauma of estrangement into the past where it belongs instead of in my daily present. 

Renate Dundys Marrello 
2015 - 04 - 04 

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