Gallery-Written

I Surrender—AGAIN.

I used to think I had to manage my stress. And despite some of the things you read here, for the most part I can be a pretty happy go lucky person, so I thought for a long time it was working. I’d write and paint. I’d go for walks. I’d laugh with friends. I meditate. I journal. Scratch that-I use this page as my journal, ha. I do affirmations. I do all kinds of self development. And earlier this year I started doing acupuncture and energy healing. And now I’m learning to do energy healing on myself and others as well. And while all of those things are good, and these things have pulled me into a huge spiritual, and magically transformative season of growth, I realized the other day that my stress is not something I need to manage. As managing it had just become code for pushing it away.

My emotions aren’t something bad, they are not another annoying mess that I need to clean up. And don’t get me wrong, it feels like a mess when it’s coming out! Shifting and taking another step up isn’t always all zen, sitting in a room with crystals and meditating. I have all kinds of thoughts and feelings coming out of me that I tried to bury. For example I didn’t think it was ok to be angry. Especially because I was the most angry at dead people. And I wanted so badly to be good and nice and to fit in, that I pretended not to be upset even when I was. And it was confusing because I could recognize when I did lose it (or when others were projecting, aka losing it), that it wasn’t helpful. So what do you do with it? I didn’t know what to do, so I tried to manage it.

And that’s ok! I didn’t do anything wrong. And if you’re trying to manage it, you aren’t doing anything wrong either. You are trying to move in a positive direction and that’s great, but maybe you are as ready for this next step as I was. And maybe you can find your way there faster if you’ll think of this example the next time you’re in the thick of it.

Just after Halloween, and perhaps not surprisingly just after obtaining a level two in Reiki, I had all kinds of emotions bubbling up. I was angry, AGAIN, all the time! I felt like I was white knuckling it through EVERYTHING. Everything was getting under my skin. I was getting sick of myself, AGAIN.

I didn’t understand, I thought I was doing all the “right” things, walks and meditation, reiki, etc, but those feelings were still there. And I was starting to get snippy with my family and I don’t like that. I started to wonder if anything I was doing was actually helping. I started to tell myself that this is just another thing I’m going fail at. It was painful and confusing. In hindsight I can see that obviously my mindset had shifted back into some past patterns. But now I realize it’s also because I kept trying to manage it. To make it go away. Then one day my son and I headed outside, I was cleaning up pumpkins and other things from Halloween and he was sliding down the hill on our property. At one point our dog, who was supposed to be inside, got all excited and jumped on him. She knocked him over and scratched his face. He was crying but I was so full of my own emotions I couldn’t take it, with gritted teeth and balled fists, I stormed over there. I tried to hold it in but I starting yelling at both my son and the dog.

“Damnit, I told you not to let the dog out. Now look!”

“Bad dog”

“You wouldn’t be fuckin’ crying right now if you’d have done what you were told”

Not my finest moment. It really didn’t need to be a big deal. Any other day, I could have just comforted my son, he had learned his lesson the hard way. I didn’t need to pound it in with harsh words. Any other day, I could have corrected the dog, she is incredibly smart but still a puppy essentially, and doesn’t really realize how powerful she is when she excitedly jumps up to play with her buddy. Which is why she was supposed to stay in until I could supervise. But it wasn’t any other day. I had years of rage sitting just below the surface. I was ready to tear a strip off of anyone. I grabbed the dog by the collar and smacked her on the nose. I wanted to spank the living fuck out of her. And although we believe in positive reinforcement to train her, she now cowered in fear like a dog that had been beaten her whole life.

I could tell she was terrified, and my son who had every right to cry, now looked at me in horror as he said, “please don’t hit her.”

I started trying to justify my actions, but I paused. I felt so ashamed that I started to cry. I apologized and told him it was wrong for me to react that way. We had a good talk over hot chocolate and rehashed some rules about the dog. And you’d think maybe it was done, but I could still feel that pent up energy in me. Only now I had added shame. I still didn’t know what to do. And I couldn’t go meditate or go for a walk, I had chores to finish. So that’s what I did. And as I was taking the pumpkins out to the compost heap I realized one of the pumpkins still had a candle in it. My husband had put one of my nice candle holders in it and the lid of the pumpkin was frozen shut. I fucked around with it for a little while, muttering about “that fucker.” Until I finally freed it by smashing it open with my foot. It felt so good I kept smashing, then I grabbed another and another, and kept beating, punching, screaming and kicking out all the anger and grief and sadness, until I fell to my knees beside them. And I cried and I cried.

And you might ask yourself why I would be telling you this. I’ve wondered myself why I’m doing this. But I’m figuring it out. I’m doing this because it gives me hope. Even more than that it helps me to surrender, to be vulnerable, to say I’m not perfect but that is the greatest reason to show myself more love, not less. And I hope that one day you’ll read this story and refer back to it when you need it most. And I will too!

Because it’s that kind of self love that keeps you true. It’s that love that pulls you back on the road when you feel yourself heading into the ditch. It’s not about spa days. Its not just for women. It’s what keeps you from crashing. So the more fucked up you fear you are, or your life is, or dare I say you think other people are, the more you need to ask yourself, “what can I do in this moment to love myself better?”

It’s about realizing it’s not about “them.” It’s not about what happened to you. It’s about you. Knowing and loving and seeing that you are the amazing person you are and have always been.

And sometimes that will be achieved through meditation or walks or sports or whatever. But you don’t need to manage your emotions, you need to feel them. They demand to be felt. If you’re stubborn like me, you’ve probably tried everything you can to deal with them. But I ask you friend-have you ever tried surrendering to them? Try it. Be mad, be sad, cry, beat the face off your jack o’ lantern. Do what you can for you, so you can LET IT OUT. That is how you stop hurting yourself, that is how you stop hurting anyone else. That is how you heal and break the patterns that throw you off your path. That is self love.

Gallery-Paint · Gallery-Written · Life · Uncategorized

I’m not Pro-choice or Pro-life. I’m trying to be Pro-love.

All of my life I have been a fence sitter-an idealist, a peacemaker, maybe a people pleaser at times. When it comes to tough topics and issues I have always found myself conflicted in choosing a side. I feel things deeply. And because I often see things from both sides, I often struggle with the weight of, and divisions caused by tough topics and disagreements.

I’m just like everyone else though too. Sometimes, I find myself swayed more to one side than the other. And when I feel someone is just trying to be mean, I struggle not to react. But ever since I have started looking at everything through the lens of love, I’ve started to notice that the more I sway to one side or the other, the more frustrated I become at the person on the other side of the fence. I get frustrated by their inability to see or hear what I am saying. That frustration usually leads it’s way to anger or some form of self righteous indignation on my part. But I also really dislike confrontation and arguing. So I’ve often shy’d away, unsure how to converse and get through issues without getting upset or feeling pressured to pick a side. And so, of course the abortion debate was always something I avoided.

And yet here I am, ha. I still struggle, but in order to love I think it’s also valuable to have enough integrity to hold hard conversations regardless of our beliefs. And if we can do so with respect and transparency we have the opportunity to understand our own opinions at a deeper level. This is no easy achievement obviously. You know the arguments. Those in the Pro-Choice camp, judge those in the pro-life as being anti-choice and anti-woman. They remind us of the consequences and ramifications of governing controls over bodies. They argue that legislating who can and can’t have access to abortions strips the individual of their right to choose the course of their care in pregnancy, thereby de-valuing the lives of women. They feel and argue that we have a moral obligation to protect these (often marginalized), lives from governing controls over their bodies. They share examples of the thousands of women who die each year. Like the Irish woman who was denied an abortion while miscarrying. As well as the women we may not hear about but are placed in danger when they seek abortions illegally.

The pro-life camp judges those in the pro-choice, as being anti-life and anti-infant. They argue that allowing abortions devalues the life of the child. They feel and argue that we have a moral obligation to protect the innocent lives of these babies. They remind us not only of the sheer number of terminated pregnancies, but also the potential emotional aftermath of those that choose abortions. They share stories of those women, as well as those of the babies who survived abortions.

Ironically both camps point out that the other is advocating death or murder in one way or another, and both point out the hypocrisies of the other camp.

And so we sift through the arguments. And let’s be honest we look for evidence to support our own. To prove that we are right. And being the fence sitter that I am, I feel myself torn. And not more than a week ago I found myself being sucked into debating both sides simultaneously, as old habits die hard. And there are valid points on both sides of the argument, and if I’m being honest, I hold judgements against both. Even on a personal level I feel pulled to both sides. On the one hand, I am a woman and I do not want someone telling me what I must and mustn’t do with my body. But I have also spent the last twelve years trying to get pregnant, (with one successful pregnancy in there). It pains me that while many women are going to painstaking lengths to get pregnant, others are going to painstaking lengths to end their pregnancy. To me the life of the baby and mother are equal. But I also recognize the complexity of the debate. I too believe the baby is a life, not a clump of cells. But I also recognize that the baby cannot survive without the body of the mother, her life matters too. It is not a cut and dry issue to me. Both sides or choices can cause harm. How does one choose, if by choosing one side, we devalue and possibly endanger or end a life? I cannot say without a doubt one side is right, and one is wrong. If you believe you can, that’s great. Perhaps this conversation is not for you. I’m not here to change anyone’s mind, I’m hear to encourage the sharing of hearts.

But the argument continues, we throw insults over the fence at one another, each side calls the other a murderer. We speak destructive things about one another as if anyone one of us is perfectly qualified to judge someone else. We say hey let me take that speck out of your eye, when all the time there is a plank in our own. We judge with our human limitations, and become unable to see one another.

So at times when I’m perched on my fence, and in an effort for peace, I’ve tried to do my part. We all tend to think we know better and I’m no different, so I try help the other side to see. I point out to each camp the valid parts of the others argument. But ultimately it doesn’t help either. Usually it just turns their anger and frustration towards me, as if now we are against one another.

And suddenly it occurred to me, perhaps I couldn’t see things any clearer than they could. Not even from my position up on the fence. We were all using judgement to prove that we know what’s best. And it has been my experience that while judgement can be helpful in terms of sourcing danger, it can also lend itself to control. And when we try to control others, our critical spirit steals our joy and peace, robbing us of hope.

It pollutes our heart and makes us vulnerable to hatred. We plant seeds of unforgiveness and this condemnation takes root in our hearts and minds.

Which is why above all things I am attempting to live my life through love. So you ask, what does that even mean? How does that solve anything?

For me, it means instead of sorting through the arguments to judge who is right and who is wrong, I look for words of life—of truth, and most importantly of love. I find these things on both sides of the debate. The debate is fueled by judgement and morality, but in fact both sides believe they are fighting for lives. And that seems to be about where the love ends. This is where we employ fear, judgement and anger, in our attempt to control or sway one another’s opinions. And this control divides us. And so it’s with this knowledge I attempt to lay down my judgements. And I am weary of those who attempt to control and cause divisions, as I think we need to consider that such persons may have there own appetites.

So am I saying we should do nothing? No. I’m saying, “hey this really complicated. Maybe, instead of furthering the argument and pouring our judgements over who the bigger murderer is, perhaps we could focus on self control, loving and understanding one another, in order to find solutions.“

We can share information. We can ask each other questions to get to the root of our goals. If you say you want to save women’s lives but the focus of your argument is to call someone’s belief system stupid, or you bang on about clumps of cells, when there’s evidence to the contrary, I may question what you think you will achieve by doing so. And I’d hope you ask yourself the same question. I ask myself, where is the love? And alternately if you say you want to save babies by implementing controls, although there is evidence showing that laws banning abortions don’t stop abortions, I may question what you are trying to achieve. And I’d hope you ask yourself the same question. I ask myself, where is the love?

Again, I’m not here to tell anyone they are wrong. I’m not here to change minds. I’m here to love.

I question to understand, in order to employ compassion, not judgement. It’s not that I don’t have opinions, obviously I do. But I also know that my example is more powerful than my opinion. So if I want women to stop seeking abortions (and I do). Maybe it’s more important to try to understand why anyone would choose to obtain one. Perhaps we can focus our energies on understanding and implementing what actually works to stop abortions. And so far I’m discovering it’s not control that stops abortions, it’s education, counselling, love and support that lessens the likelihood a woman will choose to terminate her pregnancy. You can support the organizations that help women recover from addiction, that aid homeless or abused women, that counsel young women and help support single mothers. There are so many loving things we can do to ensure women feel they have other choices than abortion.

Some may say that I am then just allowing abortions, pro choice by default. And others believe that if I’m not fighting against controls, I’m just rolling over to allow them. I fully understand why you may perceive it that way. And I have no intention of correcting your judgements. That’s actually the whole point, I believe control has no place in love. I’m trying not to control anyone, not even their opinion. When it comes to love, and self control; against such things their is no law or judgement that can break my spirit. My spirit is to be joy, patience, kindness, gentleness, love and self control. I’m trying to use love to tear down the fence, the judgements, that stop me from seeing another. I’m shifting my focus from fear, shame and division; to love, life and connection. Because when we put down our judgements, our hearts can soften and fill with love, and it’s then we can work together for good.

Because above all things there is love, and through love all things are possible.

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Hey! Thanks for being here. Before you go though, I just wanted to say that while a big part of me still agrees with what I’ve written above, I know that ultimately I wrote this to try to stop people from debating this topic. Division and debate bothers me a lot. A lot! Ironically while preaching anti-judgement and love, I was in fact judging everyone and was still leaning into fear. But I’m trying to let go of that need to control. This should explain it all.

https://smartandsmitten.com/2019/07/21/to-all-of-the-people-i-knew-before/

I hope you’ll join me!