Tag Archives: emotions

Attitude and Perspective Matters

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The attitude and perspective we have has a big effect on our emotions, ability to learn, and ability to succeed.

I’m a terrible actress. I don’t like people’s eyes looking at me, I don’t like being on stage, I hate public speaking, I’m terrible at improvisation, and I go blank. But every year I  have to act at least once at a family holiday program I’m part of. I get very nervous and anxious during rehearsals and just before going on stage if I have a large speaking role. (If I can be a clown or someone who mimes, I have a ball on stage!)

But there was one year I had a large speaking role that I had to memorize. I was freaking out! One of my friends heard me mutter that I couldn’t do it over and over. He did the best thing. He had me stop muttering and had me focus on him.  He said with authority that if I told myself I couldn’t do it, I stopped myself from succeeding right there. When he told me this I knew he was right. I defeated myself with my own perspective and attitude. I had to change it. I didn’t feel any better about it and I didn’t know if I could do it, but I knew I had to stop thinking I couldn’t do it.

I stopped telling myself I couldn’t do it and just focused on remembering the words. And guess what, I delivered the monologue to a T.

I was with an older person today and he’s not very computer literate. The whole time we were talking about computers he said he couldn’t do it and that he’d never figure it out. He got angry at the rate of changing technology, blaming it for the problems he faced with it.  But instead of getting angry, I thought all he needed was a change of perspective and attitude. Instead of wasting all that energy thinking he’d never get it and being angry over it, he could use that energy to really focus and learn the new technology.

I think part of the key is to stop focusing on how bad things are and how much you don’t like them. I don’t like acting, this guy didn’t like new technology. They are difficult things for us that we have to get used to. But there’s no point getting worked up about it and fighting it trying to get your own way. Separate yourself from it a little and get a different perspective. Embrace it with a different attitude. Learn what you need to know. It might be hard and a lot of work, but try.

Having the right attitude and perspective means you’ll have the discipline, commitment and focus to at least give it your best go.

I have a friend who was never any good at school and hates studying. The problem is she can’t get anywhere with the career she wants without studying. I think she can study and get to where she wants to be, but she thinks she’s a lost cause in that area. She’s defeated herself right there. She doesn’t even want to try, because her attitude and perspective won’t let her.

To give it a go, get the right attitude and perspective.

You might not be able to do whatever it is you want and/or need to do, but if you tell yourself you can’t do it from the start, it’s certain that you won’t be able to do it.

How’s your attitude and perspective? I think I have to check mine in a few areas.

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Love As A State Of Being And Healing

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Love As A State Of Being And Healing

The philosophy of Dharma is a beautiful one; one that describes a grasp of Love for all beings, in whatever form they take in the world. That Love is not conditional, that it does not come with guarantees and that promise to pay is not a part of the Great Love. But Love can become a parody, as well. For instance, I Love Stephen and allways will, but I do not Love every one, but nor do I hate, nor would I wish upon anyone any harm or ill well, nor would I deny someone a hand should they ask. The reason being for that philosophy is that most people are not willing/able to accept Love, and it would be a kind of idiot compassion to project Great Love to someone who would reject or become scared by it, as you can place yourself in a vicious circle of victim consciousness (see videos below). To other people, I can become an instrument to be used and then discarded (as they view all other people).  It is possible to live amicably in the world without loving on all planes of consciousness in the world. It is possible to be kind without loving all of humanity. I do not love all of humanity, yet I do not hate them, because not all humans can accept Love or feel that they are deserving of Love. Would that humanity were different, that we could all be as Powder speaks, and yet, we (as a whole) are not. At least, not at this time.

San Francisco Sessions 2001 *Would I speak to someone who hated me, who wanted to harm me? No, that would be idiot compassion. Would I help someone who was only manipulating me? No, that would be idiot compassion. These are lessons that I have learnt. I do not hate humanity either. I used to. I used to be very misanthropic and self-deprecating, but I have let that go. There is no one to blame, in order to do so; I would have to blame us all. There is no great monster upon whose shoulders stones can be cast….so, hatred is not necessary. But neither can every one alive be trusted or Loved fully. Does that mean it is not possible to live fully in the world, no I do not think so. I think were I to make believe that everyone loves everyone totally and completely and unconditionally or that Love can be on all planes of consciousness/existence would make it so that I could not live fully in the world. Love to me, is like a deep friendship, a bond that cannot be broken save by those in the friendship. On this matter, I agree with Alan Watts and the others. I just do not punish those whom I do not love, because I do not think punishment is a very good learning tool. But I do think to love all of humanity in its current state is a parody of love.

It is possible to engage and to achieve Dharma without that kind of depth of Love for all of humankind, because understanding, honoring, and accepting are a great part of living fully. It is possible to be kind without it being known to the party receiving that kindness, it is possible to be kind without love. Kindness comes from understanding/ comprehension/perception as well

freedLiberation will come, but will it come from Love? I do not know. Liberation arises out of kindness, empathy, sympathy, compassion, understanding, comprehension, acceptance, help, generosity, example, sharing, caring, etc. as well as a Love (on a higher plane of consciousness). This is what I have learnt, what I see in the world. I hope humans one day in some time will be All Love. I hope I am around in some form to witness. In the meantime, I ride the wave and see what I can see, and explore, and embark upon adventures, and find pleasure in finding these things out…following scents on the wind.

Yes, I am speaking of Love in its profound sense, rather than its sentimental/emotional sense. Love can be expressed emotionally, yes, but I do not see it as an emotion. I see Love as a state of being, same as many of the states of being usually attributed to “mere” emotion. I see emotions as much more complex than feeling sad or angry (the idea that sadness is expressed with tears or that anger is expressed with loud voices). Emotions are far more subtle, and are included in the state of being known as Love. I think it is why sometimes when we are happy we may cry, or we can be extremely calm and quiet when we are angry, or we can be even more kind when we hate. Emotions are not so black and white. So, I speak of Love from the state of being (the profound sense). In this way, although it is a parody of Love to speak to all people we encounter with Love (i.e., would you tell the person you just met in the café and had a wonderful conversation that you love them? Yet you may do this to the person with whom you are most intimate, your girlfriend/boyfriend/partner/significant other, yes? You would not hesitate to spontaneously say to that person “I Love you” should they do something that you find yourself suddenly filled with the compulsion to say so? But you would not do this with the “stranger” seated next to you, even though they may do something as profound? This is what I mean in the difference between love as a parody and Love on a different plane). So, it is possible to have the heart open all the time (or as much as possible) to have Love, and yet, not project in this realm, where it is parodied.

the golden dream*Image Credits (all work used with permission through CC license)–
“freed” by new 1lluminati
“San Francisco Sessions 2001 *” by Wolfgang Sterneck
“the golden dream” by AlicePopkorn

 

Puppy Love

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Zigmund1

WOW! We actually got a scientific study report in the news that verifies something dog lovers have known for a long time! In a two-year study performed at Emory University in which researchers trained dogs to go into MRI scanners, it has been found that the dogs’ brains show high activity in emotion scans.

In other words, it is now proven scientifically that dogs have feelings! One of the most obvious feelings we see in man’s best friend is love. I doubt that any caring dog owner will disagree with these findings. We have all seen it in our four-legged buddies time and time again.

Maybe that is part of the reason why we consider them man’s best friend. Because even without the scientific proof, we have been able to detect this emotion by living with them on a daily basis.

The head researcher was quoted as saying that “dogs are people” and that this study proves it. Even dog lovers separate that human ability to self-determine where dogs do not possess that ability. Dogs are what we make of them. In other words, if a dog was kept in a home where it did not receive a lot of attention and love and affection, it would most likely not be a friendly, loving animal.

Cody with can 2

They would have the ability to love, but would not become very loving. They could not choose to be loving if they wanted to, it would be entirely based on the way their owners treated them. And that, is where I believe the difference lies.

There was a commercial many years ago in which they focused on how animals and their owners began to look alike after a while. I won’t go that far, but I know that I have had an impact on my pooch’s personality. I know that we have raised our dogs in a loving home and they have not wanted for attention at any point and time. And I believe their personalities reflect that.

ZackieBoy1

So now we have scientific proof that dogs absolutely connect with their human’s on an emotional level. If only we can find a way to get them to talk, I am quite sure it could become quite a dilemma for men or women who don’t! 

The Difference A Smile Can Make

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A smile makes people seem so much more confident, beautiful and approachable. Why doesn’t everyone smile then? Just because you don’t feel it doesn’t mean you can’t do it. Studies have shown that smiling changes your mood. You may be feeling negative and think a smile will only come when your thoughts are positive, but it actually works the other way round too. Put a smile on your dial and your thoughts will change.

Now since I’ve written this post, it clearly means I’m aware of the power and payoff of the smile. I’m not used to the idea of behaviour changing the mind, but I know it’s true. I’ve not only read about it but I’ve experienced it for myself, not only when I smile, but when others smile. Some people can look downright scary when they’re not smiling and you just want to duck under a table when they walk past. But when they smile, their whole face lights up with warmth and it makes you want to be around them so you can bask in the glow of their smile. Because you can just tell by their smile, that at this moment, they are full of something you want – the beauty, joy, and peace in their own skin the smile reveals. And in those moments when I smile like they do, I feel like I have the same beauty, joy, and peace in my own skin too.

Sometimes I look at people who seem so unhappy all the time. I can sense their lack of confidence and their thoughts that people are judging them. I picture a smile on their face and I can just see people flocking to them because they’ve got something they want. People don’t tend to gravitate towards unhappy people; but all the unhappy person wants is for people to accept them and to connect with them. But that’s never going to happen if they have a negative outlook with an unapproachable frown on their face all the time—the frown that says, “I want you to like me but if I let you see me, I fear you won’t like me so I’m going to keep you away.” Then they wonder why no-one comes near them.

I want to tell them: Smile.

When you smile, people think you have something to offer and they won’t care what you look like, or what job you have or what past you’ve had. All these things you think people notice and will judge you by, won’t even be given a second thought, because they don’t matter. It’s only when you make them a big deal and draw attention to these things that others will see them as the barrier you put up. You may think it’s these things that stop people from connecting with you, but it’s actually your perspective about them and the resulting demeanour you have that makes you seem unapproachable. If they aren’t an issue for you, then they don’t become (or never were issues in the first place) for other people. But if you’re already expecting people not to like you before you meet them, you can make it hard to give people the chance to like you because you’ve already shut them out.

You got to give people more credit. See all those thoughts you have are reflected in the way you present yourself. Give people the chance to see you. Give them a chance to like you. No matter who you are, people are more likely to give you a chance if you give them a chance. And sometimes all a person needs to know they’ve been given a chance is a smile.

So you don’t have to have it all together, you don’t have to look the way everyone else does and you don’t have to be like everyone else for people to accept you. If you smile, people won’t care and they’ll want to know you. Because you know what I realized: A smile isn’t really about the person smiling, it’s about the people who receives the smile. As much as a smile can be for our own good and our own mood, a smile always gives something to others. There is a selflessness in smiling.

Sometimes we don’t smile, because we can’t be bothered. Because we’re too caught up in our own world and don’t feel we have anything to offer. But we all have something to offer, whether we feel like it or not. Believe it, and smile because it’s one gift we can all give to each other.

And just because I love TED Talks, here’s a video about how behaviour can change our thoughts.

How the brain works in Borderline Personality Disorder

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 Brain photo by Andrew MasonNew work by University of Toronto Scarborough researchers gives the best description yet of the neural circuits that underlie a severe mental illness called Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), and could lead to better treatments and diagnosis.

The work shows that brain regions that process negative emotions (for example, anger and sadness) are overactive in people with BPD, while brain regions that would normally help damp down negative emotions are underactive.

People with BPD tend to have unstable and turbulent emotions which can lead to chaotic relationships with others, and which put them at higher risk than average for suicide. A number of brain imaging studies have found differences in the function of brains of people with BPD, but some of the studies have been contradictory.

A team led by Anthony C. Ruocco, assistant professor in the Department of Psychology and program in neuroscience, analyzed data from 11 previously published studies and confirmed a number of important differences between people with BPD and those without.

On the one hand, a brain area called the insula – which helps determine how intensely we experience negative emotions – is hyperactive in people with BPD. On the other hand, regions in the frontal part of the brain – which are thought to help us control our emotional reactions – are underactive.

 

“It’s not just that they have too much drive from their emotions,” Ruocco says. “They seem to have less of the ‘brakes’

The invisible child

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The Invisible Child

I’ve always struggled with the term attachment, used in my profession to denote the relationship that is supposed to develop between mother and infant during the earliest months of life. I may be too concrete, but it makes me think of those poor monkeys in Harlow’s experiment, clinging to that cloth-covered metal skeleton; it seems to imply a kind of behind the mirrorphysical connection when in fact, it’s all about the emotional relationship. In his video on attachment theory, Allan Schore brings that relationship to life when he speaks about the complex interactions between mother and baby — the role of eye contact, physical interaction and facial expresions in creating secure “attachment” — but it still seems to me to be the wrong word.

I’ve had a similar problem with Kohut’s word, mirroring, because to my concrete mind, it suggests that what the mother does is behave like a physical object (a mirror), though lately, I’ve been feeling better about it. In my work with several different clients, I’ve been struck anew with the role of our parents’ attention in creating our sense of self, how important it is that we feel that we are seen. In a fundamental way, we come to know who we are by witnessing our parents’ responses to us; in particular, the joy and love we see in our mother’s face convey to us that we are beautiful and important. Allan Schore has shown how the infant comes with a set of inbuilt expectations and behaviors geared to elicit those parental responses; when the reality of an engaged and loving mother meets those expectations, the result is a secure “attachment” (ugh).

It also results in a secure sense of self, the basis for later self-confidence and self-esteem. But when those expectations are disappointed, as I have explained elsewhere, it leaves the infant with a sense of intrinsic defect and basic shame. This is particularly true when the environment is highly traumatic or abusive. Lately, I’ve also been thinking about a parenting style that isn’t overtly abusive but vacant or largely withdrawn instead. In such a case, though basic shame is an invariable result, the person also develops a sense of unreality, as if he were invisible. It’s as if she looked into the mirror of her mother’s face and found no reflection whatsoever.

In a recent session, my client Alexis was speaking about her boss, with whom she has had an intense and problematic working relationship for many years. Lately, she has “woken up” to the rather nasty ways he sometimes treats her; in this particular session, she told me that she felt as if her boss wanted nothing to do with her or her actual emotional experience. As a result, she had come to feel like a “ghost” at work; this made her want to retreat from their relationship in turn, becoming an impersonal function and discharging her duties in an efficient, detached way. I linked this to her relationship with her father, a college professor who had largely ignored her and her sister, warning them to be silent as he retreated into his study with the graduate students who came for their tutorials. She had felt invisible to her father, and desperate to be noticed by him.

1e6f0c21138bf6ebac99cb1538aa4dd7Alexis also linked this feeling to her mother, a woman who had felt over-burdened by her children and very much wanted to be left alone. Alexis recounted a story recently told to her by her sister Adrienne. Around the age of 8, Adrienne had begun suffering panic attacks in the evenings. Their mother’s response was to give her an over-the-counter sleeping pill and put her to bed with Alexis (age 10), who was then responsible for moving Adrienne to her own bed whenever she felt able to sleep. This “hands off” approach to mothering was typical. Whenever the girls were fighting (as they often did) she would tell them she preferred not to get involved or play referee.

I suggested to Alexis that she felt her mother had wished her to go away, which left Alexis feeling like a ghost, scarcely real. Rather than discovering her sense of self in her mother’s joyful expression, when she looked for a reflection in that mirror, she found it a blank. This discussion helped me understand yet another reason why she has resisted the idea that she’d ever finish treatment and go it alone. Over the long years of our relationship, my bearing witness to her experience and taking a deep interest in her as a person has felt precious to her, an important source of the sense of self she has developed through our work together. On some level, she’s afraid that without me and my attention, she would cease to exist. As a child, she must have felt that way in the absence of parental involvement: as if she were invisible, a ghost child without physical substance.

We ended the session by talking about the importance of being seen and known by others, how at the end of the day, it’s a very small universe of people who “get” you, who are capable of actually seeing you for who you are. It seemed important to acknowledge that I have felt seen and known by her, as well, and that our long relationship has been important to me. How many people understand the work that I do and the psychological issues I consider most important as deeply as Alexis? In a weird way, you’d have to say she knows me better than many of my friends. I also derive a sense of who I am through the mirroring Alexis and my other clients provide to me, just as there’s a kind of reciprocal mirroring that goes on between mother and child.

I wonder if this is why therapists sometimes find it hard to let go of their clients. Maybe they can’t bear to lose that mirroring; they might feel that when a client of long-standing terminates, they lose a little bit of themselves, too.

Joe is the author and the owner of AfterPsychotherapy.com, one of the leading online mental health resources on the internet. Be sure to connect with him on Google+ and Linkedin.

I Second That E-Motion

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Emotional Chart

Emotional Chart

Emotions are quickly becoming the focus of research in mental health fields. Where most of the focus has been on how people think (Cognition) and most recently behavior and outcome results (measurable and simply definable), there is an upcoming trend to study people and emotions.

Historically, emotions have been given a really awful rap. I can remember my father telling me from the time I was a little girl that I needed to let my head lead me, not my heart. His well-intentioned advice and the way he lived his life as well, totally devalued emotions.

Just the way our actions are ‘birthed’ in our cognition, emotions also provide a birthing ground for our behaviors. Many of our actions and behaviors are responses to how we feel. For a long time, emotions have not been looked at or given credence as a partner in human behavior.

Truthfully, not only may emotions be part of why many behaviors occur, in some instances, they are the strongest factor or maybe even the only reason for behavior.

Emotional Chartb

Emotional Chartb

Recognizing and controlling our emotions is one of the most valuable gifts we can provide ourselves with. Although many people avoid recognizing their feelings, when we choose to be courageous enough to face our feelings, we can:
• Gain control over the way we react to challenges
• Improve our communication skills
• Enjoy more fulfilling relationships

Our emotions are the foundations of us being able to understand ourselves and relate to other people. When we lose control of our emotions, we:

* Lose our ability to think clearly and creatively
* Lose our ability to manage stress and challenges life presents
* Lose our ability to communicate well with others
* Lose our ability to display trust, empathy and confidence

Loss of these skills produce confusion, isolation and negativity.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence

Emotions are constantly ongoing, but the experience of each individual emotion does not last very long. In other words, we’re always feeling things, but if I become angry at something my husband said, that individual emotional response, in this case, anger; does not last much beyond 15 or 20 minutes at the most.

Becoming emotionally aware requires getting in touch with the feelings we are having in the moment, and understanding why we are experiencing it. It also involves being able to identify and express moment to moment feelings and to understand the connection between those feelings and our behavior.

When we connect to our own emotions and become more emotionally aware, we become better able to understand and empathize with what others are feeling. This is how we begin to isolate less and become more connected with others.

Emotional awareness involves:
• Recognizing your moment-to-moment emotional experiences
• Handling all of your emotions without becoming overwhelmed

It is always a good idea to have a support system in place – someone you can talk with and trust to share your experiences with. Self-help is wonderful, but, like everything else, has its limitations. By having a strong support system available, you’ll assure yourself an added cushion of comfort during the process.

This is a great place to begin getting our lives more in balance by becoming more aware and involved in our emotional selves.

It only gets better from here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

About trauma

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Traumatizing experiences shake the foundations of our beliefs about safety, and shatter our assumptions of trust.

Because they are so far outside what we would expect, these events provoke reactions that feel strange and “crazy”. Perhaps the most helpful thing I can say here is that even though these reactions are unusual and disturbing, they are typical and expectable. By and large, these are normal responses to abnormal events.

08d0ab8d1b1a5435a32a3e5134150cd2Trauma symptoms are probably adaptive, and originally evolved to help us recognize and avoid other dangerous situations quickly — before it was too late. Sometimes these symptoms resolve within a few days or weeks of a disturbing experience: Not everyone who experiences a traumatic event will develop PTSD. It is when many symptoms persist for weeks or months, or when they are extreme, that professional help may be indicated. On the other hand, if symptoms persist for several months without treatment, then avoidance can become the best available method to cope with the trauma — and this strategy interferes with seeking professional help. Postponing needed intervention for a year or more, and allowing avoidance defenses to develop, could make this work much more difficult.

We create meaning out of the context in which events occur. Consequently, there is always a strong subjective component in people’s responses to traumatic events. This can be seen most clearly in disasters, where a broad cross-section of the population is exposed to objectively the same traumatic experience. Some of the individual differences in susceptibility to PTSD following trauma probably stem from temperament, others from prior history and its effect on this subjectivity.

Traumatic experiences shake
the foundations of our beliefs
about safety, and shatter our
assumptions of trust

In the “purest” sense, trauma involves exposure to a life-threatening experience. This fits with its phylogenetic roots in life-or-death issues of survival, and with the involvement of older brain structures (e.g., reptilian or limbic system) in responses to stress and terror. Yet, many individuals exposed to violations by people or institutions they must depend on or trust also show PTSD-like symptoms — even if their abuse was not directly life-threatening. Although the mechanisms of this connection to traumatic symptoms are not well understood, it appears that betrayal by someone on whom you depend for survival (as a child on a parent) may produce consequences similar to those from more obviously life-threatening traumas. Examples include some physically or sexually abused children as well as Vietnam veterans, but monkeys also show a sense of fairness, so our sensitivity to betrayal may not be limited to humans. Experience of betrayal trauma may increase the likelihood of psychogenic amnesia, as compared to fear-based trauma. Forgetting may help maintain necessary attachments (e.g., during childhood), improving chances for survival; if so, this has far-reaching theoretical implications for psychological research. Of course, some traumas include elements of betrayal and fear; perhaps all involve feelings of helplessness.

 

About Trauma

Emotional and Psychological Trauma
Nice explanation of the causes, symptoms, effects, & treatments of psychological or emotional trauma — broader than PTSD.
Information on the Threat Response
Detailed and well-done article on responses to threat, by Eric Wolterstorff.
APA Topics: Trauma
American Psychological Association webpage offers information on emotional trauma.
Facts for Health: PTSD
“The intensity of experiencing a life-threatening trauma can take time to subside. For some, it simply never does…”

Bearing Witness to Catharsis

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ca·thar·sis  (k-thärss)

n. pl. ca·thar·ses (-sz)
 
1. A purifying or figurative cleansing of the emotions, especially pity and fear, described by Aristotle as an effect of tragic drama on its audience.
2. A release of emotional tension, as after an overwhelming experience, that restores or refreshes the spirit.

I recently had the unique privilege of bearing witness to a friend’s spontaneous release of extreme fear and sadness, bottled up for several years (let’s call this friend, X) after a suicide of a close family member. It happened so innocently during a meal, when the subject came up and someone at the table said to X, “I think you are right all along. You need to acknowledge that there’s evil in this world, and that it was present then, and there’s no way your sister could have fought it”.

Witnessing catharsis as it unravels right before one’s eyes is to me, an astounding human experience. One moment, it was a casual conversation during a meal amongst friends, and the next moment, a bowed head started to shake from side to side, audible sobs, then a scream…”Why?”

When it unfolded without warning, all senses were on high alert – all at once, you feel like you may be in a movie scene – and empathy, once just a well taught & discussed concept in psych class, bursts forth from the deep recesses of my being, bypassing cognition and intellect…mirror emotions of deep deep sadness were hard to hold back. So were the tears which rolled off my cheeks. 

When we witness someone with the somatic presentations of being in trauma, releasing extreme fear and the outpouring of guilt, sadness and disbelief, the mind may not fathom what’s going on then but the heart cannot help but be open and says, “Just be. Reach out. Feel.”

X was trembling, her legs were shaking, her body was rocking, her hands were cold, her face was nearly unrecognisable…stricken with fear. We just held and hugged her, and felt the years of tightly-coiled emotions seeping out from the cells of her body and the depths of her soul. A soul crying desperately to be forgiven and released, as it realises right then, that there really was nothing she could do when someone chooses to end her life.

Why why why…did it have to happen? If only I was there for her…Why didn’t I act on what I suspected? Why must evil exist? She must have been cursed, why did I not protect her? Was her life so sad that she could not live on anymore? Why why why?

 

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I was deeply humbled by what X went through that day…and in awe of her courage. We accompanied her to the exact spot where her sister would have jumped off, the site where her body was found, and then visited her grave for closure. Closure? I think that was the start for X in coming to terms with her loss and releasing herself from the guilt and pain. 

Years ago, during a time of personal crisis coming to terms with what was happening around me, my therapist had this to say when I was stuck at the gates of WHY:  “You may not ever find an answer to the WHY’s, no matter how hard you seek…you will need to accept that you may never know and yet, be able to move on.” 

I hope X can do the same and tread the rest of her days having forgiven herself, and forgiven her sister.

Sally May Tan

 

 

 

Her letter to her father

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We know

We know that some parents have enough with their own problems. We know they might even try to change. Some of them manage to do it, some of them don`t. We know love can hurt, and that love can heal, but we don`t always feel the pain of it. I want to share this post from c. The content speak for itself, but I ask the readers to set aside some minutes for this. I have cried for this woman, who dared to do what she feared, and I will continue to cry for others who have lost what they wanted the most. Maybe tears can heal, too.

 

THE [OPEN] LETTER TO MY FATHER THAT HE WILL NEVER READ

Dad,

Yesterday, I decided to find you.

I tried, I tried so very hard, to not need anything from you. I tried to convince myself that I could move on without you; that I could carry on with my life somehow, without ever getting an apology. I gave it my all, I swear I did. I sweat and bled and broke, trying to be strong enough to do this without you. I told everyone around me that I was over what you had done to me, that I was over needing anything from you. I told everyone around me; I spouted it and bragged about it, hoping that it would sink into my pores and into my heart and into my soul and into that little girl that desperately needed her daddy’s love.

I tried, Dad. I tried … but I couldn’t do it.

I couldn’t do it, because the truth is that I needed you. I longed and ached for you. I didn’t need an apology, I didn’t want an apology. What I wanted, more than anything in this world, was a hug. I lived for that moment where I would find you, and you would wrap your hands around my little body and hold me tight and tell me, “Erica, I love you.” Yes, I lived for that moment … and despite all of the bad, bad things that I have experienced in my life, and despite how harshly I have been beaten down and despite how I had lost hope for everything else, I still believed in you. I believed in you, Dad.

In my head, you were no monster. You were beautiful. You weren’t a drug addict, you weren’t a rapist, you weren’t a murderer, you weren’t a woman-beater, you weren’t racist. You were pure. In my head, you were God. I pitied you; I felt so sorry for all of the pain that must be inside of you, to make you act in the ways that you did. Oh how I built you up so very, very high. If you would have just given me a chance, a moment of your time, you would have been in awe of the man I made you out to be. And you would have loved it. You were so very beautiful to me, Dad.

I didn’t blame you for the perils of my life. I didn’t blame you for the molestation. I didn’t blame you for abandoning me. I didn’t blame you for forgetting about me. I didn’t blame you for taking an innocent child’s trust and sabotaging it for the rest of her life. I didn’t blame you for calling me once every few years, offering your love, and then taking it away just as quickly as it came. I didn’t blame you for beating those women. I didn’t blame you for killing that woman. I didn’t blame you for beating my sister. I didn’t blame you for beating my brother. I didn’t blame you for disappearing. I didn’t blame you for me crying myself to sleep every single night. I didn’t blame you for me deciding that, at age 3, I was going to be forever unlovable. I didn’t blame you for choosing drugs over being a human being. I didn’t blame you for picking me up that one time, telling me how proud you were of me, and then walking away forever. I didn’t even blame you for the fact that I couldn’t accept the love of this great, great man in front of me, offering me everything I had ever needed. I didn’t blame you for anything, Dad. Not one single fucking thing. 

Because I loved you. And because I needed you to love me too.

Yesterday, I found you. After more than ten years, I decided it was time. I had my fiance next to me, keeping me safe, and I finally felt ready to try. I told him that I didn’t need anything; that I was prepared for the worst … but it wasn’t true. As I sat in the car, while he looked up your address online, I appeared calm. I appeared calm. I wasn’t. Inside of me, was little me. She was jumping up and down, up and down, up and down out of excitement. She had the biggest smile on her face, Dad, you wouldn’t believe how big that smile was! She was about to see her Daddy, and he was going to see her and run to her and pick her up and hold her close and tell her how much he had loved her all along.

We drove to your apartment, and the butterflies flew inside of me. My fiance hugged me tightly, knowing already how this would turn out. You see, he was not in denial and he did not paint a pretty picture. He knew you, without knowing you .. but still, he tried, for me. He instructed me to write a note, just in case you did not want to see me. What would I say to you? Surely, you wouldn’t turn me away! So on the back of a receipt, I quickly scribbled,

“Dad,
I just wanted to let you know that I love you and I just wanted to hear it back someday.
❤ Erica”

I didn’t think the note would be needed, but I gave it to him anyway.
And then he was gone; walking away to knock on your door.

I sat. And I sat. And I sat. I waited and waited and waited. I even put on my shoes, because I was so sure that you were going to want to see me. I fixed my hair, and I fixed my makeup, and I sat.

Yesterday, Dad, I found you.
And yesterday, Dad, you turned me away.

I did not cry. I did not cry because I believed that my fiance must have found the wrong man. I did not cry because surely, surely, you would not have reacted in that way. I did not cry. And I did not blame you. There must have been a reason, a reason why you would turn me away. A reason. We startled you, we should have called, you were scared. Anything, everything; I did not blame you.

But right now, as I type this Dad, I am going to blame you. I blame you, I BLAME YOU, for closing that door. I BLAME YOU for knowing that you are dying, and not giving me any chance for clarity. It was your choice, it was your decision. And you closed that door. You. You. You.

I blame you for breaking my young, fragile heart.

I blame you for that.

I still have not cried, Dad. I am sure that I will, but I haven’t yet. I am sure that the hole you left inside of me will continue to ache, and I am sure that I will someday soon cry. But I also know that I will try my hardest to never again cry for you. I want to finally be able to cry for myself and for the pain you caused me, not for you.

It may not have been you at that door yesterday, but it doesn’t matter. You closed the door on me a very long time ago, and it is a daily battle for me to believe that it was not my fault. That little girl was not lacking anything, that little girl was good enough. She deserved your love. I deserved your love.  And whenever I think of you, from this day forward, I will remind myself of that.

The saddest part, maybe of all, is that you probably have & will never be loved by anyone, as much as you were loved by me.

Sincerely,

Erica