”No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it” – Albert Einstein
Nothing beats a failure like a good-ole-fashioned try right? Wrong. For some of us, this route has been a pain-staking journey that has led us on paths we would rather not remember. As relieving as the inability to not recall our past may sound, we should equally understand we simply cannot forget. Not because we don’t want to, but because we cannot. The intertwining weave of brokenness, pain, hurt, anger, emptiness and even spouts of joy has found its way deep into the pockets of our souls, which won’t allow us to simply erase what was.
This does not necessarily have to equate to a present life of misery, unforgiveness and shame, but it certainly can and has been the story for many, including present company for many years. For many years I was that guy who allowed the past to dictate the future. As much as I tried, I was unable to break the negative cycles that seemed to torment my every move and relationship. I was doing the right things, so I thought.
I went to counseling, prayed to God and spoke to trusted friends, however one important part was missing. That missing piece was my inability to get past myself.
Often times when we blow it in life, we tend to label ourselves as the biggest losers on the face of the earth. This frame of mind can become impenetrable even towards God, the wisest of words and sound counsel. A hardened heart cannot hear.
So there we are, living our lives as if nothing has gone awry. We smile when we’re suppose to, talk about the kids as if they have no problems and as for our relationships – well they couldn’t be better we say. In most cases the ones we are sharing these so-called truths with, reciprocates the effort with the greatest of ease. Sound familiar?
Although we may repeat moments like this effortlessly over and over again, one thing holds true, whether we want to admit it or not. Once we have shared and walked away, something inside of us tends to feel more alone than before we spoken. The reality of our empty words consumes the moment and we become saddened with the idea of being the only one who feels this way, even though we are not alone.
Change never come easy, especially when that change means the life that we know today may never be the same again. Our desire to hold on to what we know often overshadows the ugly reality that we live in and usually feels more comfortable than the gaping hole and dissatisfaction that we are currently living in.
What if it could be different? What if there were a way to stop living behind the veil of perfection and just be you? The you that cry’s when he/she is sad, the you who admits imperfection at the perfect time, the you who stands against injustice, even when it’s unpopular in your community and the you who dares to become vulnerable in the most inauspicious moments. Is it even possible, or is this just a fairytale idea?
Life is not just a about what you make it and who you share it with, but more importantly how you share it. The things we choose to give away from within are the things that will resonate with others and give them life, and in turn give life to us. The type of life that reaches to the depths of our being and speaks in that small still voice saying I hear you, I see you and you matter.
Yes, change is hard work, however it is essential and a part of our own humanness, but somewhere along the journey of life, of becoming better people, we have lost our deep longing to simply be who we are. A people who were created to dwell together and make this world better, more sustainable, safe and a stable place for the next generations that come after us. Tall buildings and technology will inevitably always be a part of this equation, but those things alone will never replace the human element that exist in each of us. The desire to be authentically known and accepted by another. The soul that is saying, “I am here”.
”In order to save myself, I must destroy first the me I was told to be.” – The Dreamer
Yesterday I was thinking of all the ways that God has blessed me. I think of my family, my career and being in great health at 49 years of age. None of this has come easy, but I am grateful for all of it.
However, I was thinking even a little deeper than just those obvious things. I thought about the many gifts and talents I was born with or have learned over the years of my life, that unfortunately still lie dormant. I think of the many reasons (excuses) I have given myself to keep them on the shelf. Of course none of them are really viable, but nonetheless they have created a successful bridge between it and me reaching some of my goals.
I understand that we can be and usually are, our own worst enemy and critic, but for me this goes beyond just coming down on myself. I read somewhere (that I cannot recall at this moment), that many people place their goals on the shelf due to fear. And the weird thing is it is not fear to fail at it, but to actually become successful in it. Imagine that one thing holding people back is the idea that they will become successful and that concept becomes the paralyzing factor.
So one way I have learned to mitigate this is to write things down and make myself accountable to a few trusted people who will question my progress and status of a project. I have given them complete license to do so, and it helps to remind me of the big picture I have created to remain focused and on task.
However, even with my friends licensed to annoy me to no end, it will not be enough to get me through those stale seasons. The dark places where every excuse seems legitimate to me. The times when I am feeling overwhelmed, depressed and tired. Something in me has to break free, almost to a type of righteous indignation level. You know when you begin speaking to yourself like it is time to do it and no excuse works any longer?
It is as if you become angry (with yourself) for allowing yourself to hold your own self back. Yes, you look to no one as the crutch or reason for your current wilderness state. The full responsibility is yours and nothing will hold you back once you arrive at this place. You envision opportunities and finally see it clearly, the game plan required to take you to that next stage in your life journey.
So what is on your list? A mediocre relationship that has lost it’s fervor, a job that is uninspiring, your desire to lose weight and always end up in the same place, being retired and going through the motions of a dull and uneventful life or it just an overall feeling of being stuck?
Well I get it and can totally relate, but me relating to you will not help you. What are you going to do? What do you believe about yourself? What mission does your purpose serve, or better yet who does it serve? This type of life transformation cannot be about getting rich or having the perfect anything. Those “things” become a by-product of the mission.
For example, I been writing a book for several years that is in the beginning editing stages, but if I allow the past to dictate the future, the book will sit in this condition for another two years. I believe it will serve a great purpose for my potential readers, but this idea in itself will not produce anything. Only my actions to follow through will, allowing nothing to distract me.
A break-out moment is the time in our lives when one becomes so focused on what they need to do, that they start with what they have, where they are and trust they will have what they need for every stage of the journey. Excuses are no longer a part of their vernacular. Each struggle becomes an opportunity to grow, learn a new thing and press closer to the ultimate goal.
One cannot be coaxed into the place. It has to be a personal choice, a choice that lies deep within our souls, well beneath the layers of self-doubt, second guessing relatives and friends and the critic within.
Are you ready to experience your breakout moment? I’d love to hear about it. Please share it on the comment section of this blog or email me at email@example.com or theupsideofdown.org
“Courage doesn’t always roar, sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.” – Mary Anne Radmacher
For many years of my life I have made the conscious choice to cower down, give in, and refute my own heart for others. For me that looked like a young man agreeing with something that I did not whole-heartedly believe in, and as a grown man with responsibilities, including a wife and children, it looked pretty much the same, except it has had a much greater impact.
Not only has this decision brought me tremendous grief, it has equally brought me to a place of grave disappointment, utter confusion, along with a heavy heart. A heavy heart that spent many late nights wondering why it could not stand up for itself in times when it meant the most. For years I would repeat the cycle of living in anguish for what I initially believed was for the greater good, only to recognize I had done it again. That is, placed someone or something else before myself. And unfortunately, that greater good was rarely manifested as an actual good for yours truly.
In some ways even the idea of considering ourselves rubs up against the selfish vs. giving strings of our personalities. I know, that was me and typically why I consistently gave into what I ultimately chalked up as just that, me simply being selfish or inconsiderate towards someone or something I should care more about. And so I would have a change of heart or talk myself into becoming congruent with ideas that others had, despite what I felt in my heart, or what I knew was right.
Have you ever been there? Men and women alike can find themselves here, although how it looks may differ. I can only speak for myself and will not attempt to explain how one should feel while in this place. I am only here to say it must become something that we consider if we consistently see ourselves on the short end of stick of life.
Perhaps another commonly used term for this is being a “people-pleaser”. Someone attempting to get along with others at any cost. The truly sad part about this is at it’s core, is we are not getting along with anyone because what we are portraying is a lie to ourselves and to them, so the actual falsehood is in stark contradiction to having peace and living in our truth. Even if our current truth changes next year, (or next month) while it remains our truth we must contend with it, or else it will slowly deteriorate the fabric of our peace of mind.
So what does it look like to live in courage versus comfort? For me it looks like several things.
1. I now take my time to give someone an answer. – In times past I would be quick to agree or disagree before really considering what the issues were. It was a pressure I solely placed on myself, but the sheer burden forced me to prematurely make a decision that was not well thought out, and certainly removed of good intentions and authentic realness.
2. I say “no” if I mean no. – In my line of business there is a statement we use that says, “ If you can’t say no, what does your yes really mean”. Think about that. For a great part of my life, I said yes just to go along with the flow of others. It brought me angst and restlessness, but it was how I chose to live, until I begin to see the pain I was inflicting upon myself.
3. I brought into equilibrium, the “the taking it personal button”. – For years my emotions were worn on my sleeves, and I projected that frame of mind on others, so since any disagreement with me hurt my feelings, I assumed it hurt others as well. Once I begin to understand that having a diversity of thought was not necessarily a bad thing or did not have to equate to anything personal, I was able to release myself from the emotional disarray that usually accompanied my thought process, and took me down a paralyzing rabbit hole I had a difficult time finding my way out of.
4. I am thoughtful and I value my own ideas. – It took me a considerable amount of time to understand this one, but one day I realized that not only am I okay in my current state, I am great. I have always been a thoughtful person and I take pride in being a deep thinker and a deep feeler, therefore I know when I give an opinion (whether it is popular, rejected or accepted) it comes from a meaningful place and is worthy of mentioning. So today that is what I do. I share it with joy and no longer worry about where it falls, how it is received or resonates with others. It is enough all by itself, as I am.
So at the end of the day, my comfort was not comfort at all. Nor was my so-called courage. It was quite the contrary and only served to perpetuate my internal struggle of living in fear. Most guys will never admit this, but we too consider what others think of us and how we are perceived. We tend to dress it up differently and use widely acceptable tactics to gloss over hard facts that are undeniable.
My choice today is to live in my truth. My choice today is to live with authentic courage, even if that means I must often challenge my own way of thinking and ultimately the way I live my life.
“You are what you do, not what you say you will do.” – Unknown
How many times have your dreams been shattered or the perfect ideal of what you thought you wanted only led to great disappointment? Wait don’t answer that question, because we all have been there to some degree. Whether in great magnitude or on a small-scale. I imagine it’s a definite indicator of being a human being.
So, since we are all pretty much experiencing this at some point in our life journeys, how are we dealing with it? Are we overcoming new obstacles, putting into practice lessons learned, repeating poor decisions, getting it, like really getting it, or are we falling into the same destructive patterns that led us once-upon-a-time into distressing emotional turmoil, depriving physical estrangement or financial disarray?
I know we all want to believe we are growing and getting better as we get older, but the true test falls under the category of, “the life we are currently living”. Quiet honestly not much else matters. Our words are great and have their place, but if they fail to align with our current actions, they simply fall to the ground and hold no barring for anyone, which actually causes us to not look so becoming to those that bother to listen to us.
So, like me you let someone down by breaking a promise. You fell short of the ideal mark. You proved that you were not quite ready for the commitment. You accepted and agreed to deliver without fully understanding the full picture (or perhaps you did and still didn’t care). You failed to consider the cost and said yes anyway, or you simply weren’t ready. Or perhaps you always knew the situation/relationship would fail, but you went through it anyway. On the other hand, you were the recipient of all these. Welcome to the club, but let it be your goal to expeditiously remove yourself from this membership as soon as possible, because lifetime affiliation is honestly not good thing.
My core values fall under the category of perpetual optimist. I inherently believe most people want to do the right thing, even when they do not. This is not to say that I fail to recognize there will always be an element that do not have my best interest at hand. I simply choose to believe the majority will. Call me naive.
That said, after I have endured my own pity party, played the blame game, suffered as a victim and been let down, a few questions still lied before me. What the heck am I going to do now that my heart has been broken or I broke someone else’s? What will my next steps be when my alleged soul mate found someone else or worse, cheated on me? How do I recover when I am left with nothing?
I can say there must be a season of licking your wounds, grieving and remaining to yourself. The length of time all depends on how deep the wound is and what type of help and work you commit to. Some of us bounce back quickly, while others may take years. We are all different and should give ourselves license to heal at own our pace, but we must also be cognizant of becoming bitter, numb and distant, as this is counterproductive to truly moving forward.
For those that fall under the category of heartbreaker, remember that you are also human and subject to frailty. Not an excuse to repeat past poor behavior, but more importantly an opportunity to correct it, own it and make amends for it. This is a lot easier said than done, but nonetheless a critical and mature step. At minimum (and especially when the victim refuses to speak with you) forgive yourself and take corrective authentic action to become a better man or woman.
It is never too late to learn a new thing, only to those that fail to see their impact and power in the world. When we recognize how important and relevant we are, we take quicker action to remedy unfavorable situations. We understand the sooner we heal, accept our failure and own the steps we took to promote the demise of another, the sooner we will be free to live the lives we were meant to live.
The sunshine awaits us, especially the broken soul. Your beauty is radiant and filled with promise. The promise to deliver a message that embraces empathy and encourages hope and promise. Living beyond broken promises and disappointment is a gift. A gift to everyone that crosses our path, because our lives have been enriched with a deep brokenness and pain that enables us to see life in different way. A way that not only sees beyond right now, but offers a real hope for tomorrow, despite the current circumstances faced.
“Life is like a camera… Focus on what’s important, Capture the good times, Develop from the negatives, And if things don’t work out, Take another shot.” – Unknown
Have you ever had one of those moments when you knew that you should step up and do something or say something, only to quickly talk yourself out of it? I imagine it happens to the best of us at any given time, but for some maybe too often. For some it is much easier to remain silent and allow others to voice their opinions while we watch and listen, albeit painfully.
Many years ago this was me to a tee. I always took second fiddle to someone notably (at least what I assumed) smarter and more experienced. I was very comfortable with this approach until I was not, and equally realized it was not furthering my career path or providing me with any notable opportunities.
So after becoming frustrated with my own ineptness and lack of drive, I decided to change things. I first thought about the years I already had. At that time I was about ten years into my career and felt as if I knew a few things that were worthy of advancement and opportunity. Only problem, no one else knew. It was the perfect secret I had kept to myself for years, until one day I heard a voice deep within that said, “It is time to step up and no longer be silent.” Immediately I knew what the words meant and how I needed to apply them.
At that time there was so specific opportunity or profound job to speak of, but I held on to those words regardless. Ultimately it would be those words that literally changed the path of my career.
Sometimes what we hear today is not for now, but for what is to come.
I literally had no idea what was to come, but I knew what I heard and I was going to hold on to that instruction no matter what. Eventually (about 2 years later) an opportunity presented itself for me to apply the words, and I did. The rest is truly history. Today I sit at the highest position I can hold in my particular line of work, but I still hold true to those words as if I have more to accomplish, because I do.
Just last week I had the opportunity to present to my executive committee. It was an event I did not initially sign up for, but after careful review of what was going to be discussed I realized that I needed to be there, because it was a topic that I am very passionate about, and have experienced good success with. So I got in touch with my direct team and asked if they would mind if I tagged along with them. They agreed and I was off to our corporate offices. The old me would have settled for someone else delivering the message.
Needless to say, the presentation went extremely well and our team received rave reviews. It left me feeling humble, grateful but most importantly thankful. Thankful for listening to that small still voice inside on a crowded train one day almost 20 years ago.
How about you? What “thing(s)” have you not yet accomplished that you know is a part of your calling or purpose on earth? What still prevents you from pressing towards it? Could it be gender, race, religion, divorce, education, a criminal past, doubt, fear or an unbelief in yourself? The list could be endless, however it does not have to be what continues to stifle you or cause you to shrink back.
One day several years ago, I had to realize that I (Henry Nutt, III) was more than his past, no matter what anyone else had to say. My poor choices, two divorces, color of skin or lack of confidence would not be able to stop me. Matter of fact once I realized that the only person that could stop me was myself, I begin to break free of the bondage I had placed on my ability to make progress.
I removed the naysayers from my life and replaced them with people who believed in me (there weren’t many, but enough). I read great books, and put into practice what I learned.
Today, I am nowhere near where I want to be, but certainly far removed from where I once was. My life has purpose and I continue to cultivate and nurture that purpose with attributes that foster hope, community and love.
So, no matter where you are in this journey called life, it is never too late to start over, regroup or find a new path. We only need the will to do it, and begin again or for the first time.
“Everybody has a chapter they don’t read out loud.” – Unknown
Have you ever watched a group of children or your own play and talk amongst their friends? Watching them interact in their own environment and hearing the things they talk about when they are unaware you are listening in is not only entertaining, but often an eye opener to who they are becoming and what makes them afraid, not like in of the dark or of ghosts, but the fears of the soul.
Fears like self-doubt, not being strong enough, pretty enough or just different to what is perceived as acceptable. Even at those young, tender and impressionable stages we can identify what we allegedly lack to fit in society appropriately.
What is sad is these fears seldom change with age. We simply become better at disguising, deflecting and numbing the pain that is associated with them. We live our lives as normal as we can until things become too difficult to manage. At that point we only have a couple of options. One is to finally acknowledge the truth about what has troubled us and begin to deal with it and two is to continue to lie to ourselves and live a life of duplicity.
It would seem that telling the truth to at least ourselves would be the easier choice to make, but unfortunately it is not. One of the hardest things for any of us to do, is to admit a short coming, what maybe deemed as a flaw or what seems unacceptable to society and most importantly ourselves. None of us want to ever admit that there may be something about us that is different or lacking. We always have to present a strong disposition no matter what.
It is truly sad, but millions of dollars are spent each year to advertise to the world what is beautiful, strong, viral, acceptable, powerful and sexy. The images flood our brains before we even have an opportunity to really understand what they mean. We simply begin learning that we talk funny, our skin is not the right pigment, our hair is the wrong color or the texture is wrong. We are too short, over weight, our legs our too long. We read too slow, we are too hyper or we are just not smart enough. The list is endless.
We cannot help but to be bombarded by these images and ideas. They tell a story for our children to hear, see and accept as their own truth, so once they become young adults one of their sole purposes in life is about fitting in, changing to someone else and ridding themselves of the images and ideas that truly define who they are. It is like a predetermined method of self-destruction, but unfortunately in this case, they are ridding themselves of all the wonderful attributes and characteristics that make them who they are. The ones that make them unique, beautiful and wholesome.
So what if what society deems as a flaw is really the diamonds in the rough waiting to be discovered? What if we begin to teach our children what real beauty and strength looks like, inside and out, so that when those counterfeit images and people begin to test them, they already know who they are? We can empower them to detect the real from the counterfeit and not be deterred by false illusions of beauty and strength.
But the only way we will be able to accurately impart this type of lifestyle or hope to them is to first own it for ourselves. Here lies the test and the struggle. So many of us still carry the false illusions of what we are supposed to be. Deep down we realize the images do not fit within us, but we have forged our way through life carrying them like a sack of burdens that belong to us. Many of us have awkwardly walked through life afraid to expose the real us. The us that has not necessarily fit in with the status quo, the us that has accepted we are flawed and different.
So is it more awkward to be who you are (flawed and all) or be someone else? If you are not being who you were created to be, the world is missing out on the wonderful treasure that is uniquely you and we miss out on the rare beauty that is yours alone to share with the world.
There is no one quite like me, and I thank God for that. I am not better or worse than anyone else, but I am uniquely me. How about you? Sure there are things about myself I want to change, and I will continue to work on those things over the course of my life, but I will not fit in to make others happy. I lived that life before and was never at peace, but today I am.
We live in a world that will quickly identify how we do not fit in or are different, and if we accept that identity as our own we will pursue a life filling voids that really do not belong to us, and therefore add unnecessary weight/bondage to our once simple and fulfilled lives. Today I encourage you tell someone else that they are not flawed, but accepted and whole, and if they only see themselves as flawed, identify their beauty and strength by sharing a few encouraging words with them about the alleged flaw they insist is theirs. Help them see past the lies and poor images poured into them over the years and give them hope to see their flaws as marks of uniqueness, wholeness and a way to reach their world their way.
“Sometimes God allows times of transition to create transformation.” – Lynn Cowell
I can promise you that I do not have an affinity with darkness. I actually consider myself to be a very optimistic person, who consistently attempts to look on the brighter side of life, however after blogging for approximately two years now, I have come to better understand the many hurting people who still exist in the world. An even more closer, the ones that have the courage to share a little of their personal stories on social media with me and the audience I share here on this website.
As I have mentioned in prior posts, life is hard and we can never fully be ready for all that comes with our specific journeys, and I have had the privilege to hear some amazing stories of tragedy, recovery and being somewhere in the middle of both. What remains consistent with each story is the insurmountable feeling of loss, grief, pain and turmoil each person experiences as they go through their season of darkness, yet there has equally been a consistent ray of hope that seems to keep them holding on and seeking to get beyond it.
I am truly blessed to be a part of such a wonderful community of people who “get it”, and I wanted to take the time in this post to acknowledge those that continue to suffer and press through darkness. Suffering has no ethnicity, gender or religious background. It comes to us all, planned and by surprise, day or night, young and old. It does not take in consideration how nice we are or who we may have hurt in the past. It just comes, and often like a rushing wind.
So if you find yourself smack in the middle of a hard place, this post is for you. A few things you should know was you go through:
1. You are not alone, even if you feel like you are. – One of the worst things you can do while facing a tragedy is to go it alone. This is not to say that everyone in your circle should know your intimate secrets, but isolation is the devils playground and when you retreat from your immediate world you lose some of your best resources for good counsel and support. Darkness is just that, a place where we cannot always see our way due to the circumstances we face and the emotions we harbor. So as you are feeling your way through that dark place, do not be afraid to reach out to someone who may know better than you do, been there before and willing to offer support. It can literally change the trajectory of where you are headed.
2. Give yourself license to feel the pain of your situation. – So often we are told to get over it and move on, and we equally know that is much easier vocalized than done. We are each different, with our own set of propensities to recover, see the light and move past our pain. Some bodies heal faster than others and I imagine this logically applies to the emotional part of us as well, so don’t get in a hurry seeking relief, because in that search what you may find will only offer a temporary refuge, not a sustaining peace that you need. Although pain never feels good, it does have a way of stripping us of pride and deflecting blame on others after it has run its course. Once you begin to allow ourselves to feel the pain that you are experiencing it will force you to reconcile more of the core issues that caused it. It is definitely not our initial response while going through the difficulty, but if we can gather the courage to have those hard conversations with ourselves the sooner we begin to address the hard stuff.
3. Don’t beat yourself up over what happened or hold yourself hostage with anger. – Whether it was your fault or not, there has to be a time that you begin to move past that specific place of blame. Once you accepted responsibility, or had the opportunity to speak with the person who offended you, (and said your peace) it is time to move on. Harboring feelings of resentment can only lead to more pain and the short cycling of your own healing and recovery. This becomes critical as you see yourself getting better, but you allow someone or some circumstance to take you backwards. It is important to realize that you cannot undo the past. What is done is done, but the unrealized future still remains ahead of you, and how you choose to respond to it will dictate if you will be ready for it or not, and even influence how it will manifest later your life.
4. Know who your safe friends are (including family). – One of the fastest ways to relapse back to a place of bitterness and unresolved pain is to surround yourself around people who do not support the process of your recovery. Sometimes our friends can become more angry than we were at times. I am all for my “ride or die” folks that want to come to my aid, but it is equally important for them to know when to stand down and accept where I am, whether they agree with me or not. Remember, it is always easier for someone else to remove themselves from your circumstance when they have no real attachment, authentic connection or ultimate responsibility to it, therefore remain with like-minded people. Ones that want to see you grow and become healthier versus being full of unforgiveness and aiming to seek revenge.
5. Take life one day at a time. – I truly empathize with those of you who are going through hard times. It is never easy and often feels like the pain will never go away. I know from my own personal experiences, but it does get easier as we learn the lessons we are supposed to learn and grow from the situation. This is a process that cannot be rushed. It takes time and what we choose to do in that time really counts. My best advice is to take everything one day at a time. It may sound like a trivial piece of advice, but it is really important to get this. Now is not the time to be in a hurry and speed your life away, but purposefully slow it down through surrendering prayer, meaningful mediation and thought-provoking reflection.
Growing through darkness can be a reality that we all experience when life gets hard. It certainly will not come easy and unfortunately many decide to prematurely quit before recognizing the change they desire, but it is possible. I am a living witness. After suffering two divorces, being molested and experiencing other broken relationships, I have had my share of pain that I wish on no human being, but through it all I have grown and learned some lessons that I will carry with me for the remainder of my life. Lessons that cause me to stand when I feel like falling, see hope when life seems hopeless and acknowledge that life could always be worse when it seems at it hardest point. I have grown through my darkest seasons and so can you. Never give up!
“When a deep injury is done to us, we never heal until we forgive.” – Nelson Mandela
We have all said it at some point in our lives to loved ones, close friends and even ourselves when times are tough. “Things will get better with time.” The phrase does sound good and lends itself to even seem comforting when we are hurting, but do things really get better with time? I suppose on the surface, the answer is an absolute yes. Over time it is true we do tend to feel less of the sting pain indiscriminately doles out, whether physical or emotional, but does feeling better really mean we are better? Hmmm… one of those questions to ponder I suppose.
The body is an amazing creation. The fact that when we injure ourselves the body is designed to go into healing mode. Over a course of weeks, months and therapy (depending on the severity of the injury) besides a scar, there is no noticeable evidence of an injury at all. Now we all know that it was not the time that healed that would, but the amazing work occurring on the inside of the body to mend things back together.
The same is true when we are injured emotionally. If someone hurts us in a relationship and we do nothing to understand the core issue(s), we are destined to repeat the circumstance with someone else. For some of us (including present company) this has been an all too common occurrence.
Simply taking a hiatus from dating is not enough to thwart the problem (if dating is your issue) if we do not add the parts that identify the core problem, work through it and apply the learned principles to prevent it from happening with the next guy or gal.
There are so many websites dedicated to discussions on cheaters and liars, and although some have valid points to make, many others simply use the platform to complain and bash the opposite sex, but seldomly look at the work required for prevention or the responsibility they had in the demise of the relationship as well.
It will always be easier to blame another individual, especially when they created the majority of the issue, but what about that small percentage owned by the other person? Does it present a pattern? Have you been here before? Same situation different person? Could you be the common denominator? Again, something too think about.
When we fail to allow ourselves to authentically heal over a period of time, which includes doing the work necessary to become whole how is it possible to think we would make a better decision the next time? How is it that our anger simply becomes directed towards a gender, personality type or ethnicity, versus ourselves? Could it be that we are still carrying baggage from our past that is destined to bring extra weight and turmoil to our next relationship or circumstance? Could it be that time did nothing but give us an illusion that we were better, but in essence we were just numb? And the only way we really know we have not healed is when a circumstance presents itself that reminds us of our brokenness, and we flash on someone or become instantly disengaged. Been there?
In essence, time heals a wound like a bandage heals a cut. It will never be about the time directly, but more importantly what we choose to do in that time. So my prayer is that we choose to recognize the patterns that hinder us, (different face same guy) do the work to change and grow and apply the lessons learned to live a healthier life.
For most of my life I have bought into this relationship between time and healing, but I have always questioned the core idea. I would assume most professionals would agree more than time is required to heal wounds, but somewhere along the way of this commonly used phrase, the translation became lost or diluted with the masses and it simply continues to get passed along like it is a scientific fact. Or perhaps this is simply a part of my perfectionist personality to address it. Either way, I believe it is important that we understand what is implied when we make this statement or any commonly use saying that solicits hope, when it fact it may actually perpetuate the contrary.
To all those finally acknowledging your part in your healing or lack thereof, welcome to the club. There truly is an upside to being down, but we must first recognize the pain and do the right things with it. Numbing it feels great for a short season, but it truly never simply goes away and it will most certainly come back to remind you, “I am still here until you deal with me.”
Neither your age, a new relationship or a geographic relocation will change that fact, because the pain lies within you lying dormant until it is once again disturbed, so yes it requires painstaking, emotionally distressful and committed work, but it is worth the blood, sweat and tears. You are worth it!
“In order to love who you are, you cannot hate the experiences that shaped you.” – Andrea Dykstra
For the most part I grew up not having to learn most things the hard away. I listened to my parents more often than not and typically made fairly smart decisions while growing up, however my yester-years had no barring on what was to come for me as an adult. Well lets just say, I really gave great advice when it came to relationships, but my ability to consistently practice my own advice fell way short.
It is not that I went out and deliberately deceived people or straight-out lied to them, (well maybe to myself I did) but some of the challenges that came my way, I quickly learned that I was not prepared to handle them appropriately, maturely or even sometimes honestly. I found myself taking the path of least resistance when it came to certain struggles. I mean do not get me wrong, just like many others I did give things my best effort, (most of the time) however on some of the major challenges, like keeping a marriage together, I cannot say I always did the right thing. To be blatantly honest, I totally did the wrong thing(s), when it came to my second marriage especially.
One would have thought I had learned a few lessons about marital bliss, or the lack thereof after 15 years in my first marriage. Not me, I needed more lessons to really get it I suppose. Well call me a glutton for punishment, a man who enjoys to bleed emotionally or maybe some would simply say I was an idiot. Perhaps I was a mixture of all three and then some, but thankfully we all have a breaking point. A point at which we have had enough of the pain, torment and humiliation and we begin to adjust our lives in a way that becomes congruent with the ideas of getting better or becoming whole.
So after suffering and causing others to disproportionately suffer, I came to my end. The pain became overwhelming. Like, have you ever felt suffocated by your own pain? Where nothing else seemed to exist, but your turmoil and you were reminded of it every morning when the alarm clock went off? Hello, that was me too.
However, as I mentioned earlier, at some point in our lives we all come to the end of the BS, excuses and blaming others for what is rightfully ours to own. A point for me of being exposed in a shameful way. A way that caused me to finally acknowledge my responsibility in the failure of my second marriage. I wish I could sit here and say that I finally came to my senses, but it was quite the contrary. Quite honestly I was responding to the overwhelming grief and pain I felt from how the breakup actually occurred. I would say I did deserve most of the treatment inflicted on me and it certainly had me standing in attention to what was going to become the next chapter of my life, because in that time that was all I had to hold on to.
It was like I was in a cave and the waves of water was beginning to fill every crevice. My air supply was quickly being overtaken and my instinct to survive kicked in. This time it was not a reaction to simply save myself, but to really understand how I got there. Not just from a, “I made a few mistakes point of view”, but sincerely acknowledging it from a deeper place. A place of ownership, taking full responsibility, and not seeking to point blame or make common excuses.
Of course it always requires more than one person to make a relationship successful, but this relationship/marriage was over and in this moment I had an opportunity to grasp for the air I desperately needed, even though I had failed to acknowledged this very same moment in times past. This time the pain changed me, broke me and thrust me towards my true reality of denial, lies and my own emptiness.
This was an unfamiliar place for me, but I cannot say that I was afraid or anxious to be there, because for the first time I could feel and see. See what was really in front of me, and feel the pain of decisions I chose to make that hurt other people. People I was supposed to care for and protect, but I did not do for so many reasons.
Today, although I am still growing and very far from where I desire to be, I am better. A better man, that acknowledges his failures, his weaknesses and his brokenness. I am thankful for every hardship I faced, every moment of despair and the pain never seemed to cease, however it gave me courage. The courage to believe that my past did not necessarily have to define my future, but it would take tremendous work on my part to not repeat the same failures.
“The work” that would ultimately change my life and future relationships. Pain truly changed me for the better. Today I am whole, yet not perfect, hopeful, yet with a clear view of my reality and I am my own greatest surprise.
“When you are willing to feel it, you can begin to heal from it.” – Unknown
I grew up during a time when the neighborhood kids played hard everyday and usually always until dusk or when the street lights came on. Being a young boy there were plenty of bumps and bruises to go around. On several occasions I found myself being rushed to emergency to close up a gash or cut with stitches. As many times that I fell on my head growing up, it was a blessing that I did not suffer any permanent brain damage.
One of my many exploits involved playing on an older abandoned car. Somehow I fell off the car and right into the corner of brick head first. I remember placing my hands over the open wound and walking to the front door to tell my mother. As soon as I got to the door I removed my then blood-filled hands away from my head and immediately began to scream along with my sisters. By my reaction you would have thought I was going to die, but several hours later, with about six to eight stitches, some ice cream and a few balloons I was all back to normal somewhat.
The human body is an amazing creation. The ability it has to heal itself is truly a wonder and an amazing testimony to God’s grace and mercy. A little ointment, some medicine or a few band aids and we are all good.
Unfortunately this proven cure-all does not apply to emotional or psychological wounds. Often these types of wounds are easier to mask therefore they go untreated for years or even decades if ever even identified. We can numb the pain we feel inside with substances designed to calm us, inebriate, or completely remove us from the realities of our pain. As much as this choice does nothing to help us get better, we must admit it certainly helps us to feel good in the moment, but at some point these potentially detrimental choices can begin to erode any goodness that remains in our lives.
Whether that goodness comes in the form of a great career, a healthy relationship or our respected positions in society, ultimately our inability or unwillingness to address the wounds can have lifelong impacts that not only affect us, but potentially generations of our families, friends and communities.
Although I am not one to judge anyone for where they are in life, I have learned through my own personal experience that one of the greatest enemies to healing is pride. No one could ever deny a physical wound or resist surrendering to the obvious treatment they need to recover, but an emotional wound can be hidden as I mentioned earlier for years. Unfortunately at some point the only person hiding from the wound is the one suffering from it.
The by-product of the wounds manifest themselves is very specific ways and usually have patterns that become obvious, and although no one may have diagnosed us or is qualified to do so, people eventually become aware there is something just not right.
Some of those wounds manifest themselves as angry uncontrollable outburst, over eating, abstaining from food, physical or emotional abuse toward others, isolation from society, an inability to maintain a healthy relationship and so many other things that simply get in the way of living a prosperous and healthy life.
No one sets out to purposely live this way, but it happens everyday to millions of people. We live with scars that have never been healed therefore walk through our lives living on egg shells. The slightest things can set us off or send us on a tail spin of despair.
The illusion of a scar is the wound has thoroughly healed. Sometimes this is not the case at all, because underneath the layer of protective skin could be an infection that is spreading throughout our body, and until we uncover it and treat the infection in our physical bodies we will never heal and ultimately die. The same is true with emotional or psychological scars. If we fail to treat the deep-rooted issues that we suffer from, the pain will spread throughout our lives and destroy every part of it.
For years I tried to make other people happy at the expense of my own joy, and for years it seemed to work, but at some point I became weary, resentful and angry. During that time I was not sure if I was angry with those I endlessly sacrificed for, or if the anger was with myself. After some introspection (but unfortunately not enough) I came to the conclusion that I was angry with what others did to me. I mean after all, “it was their fault because they were all selfish people who simply took advantage of a nice guy”, I use to think .
How wrong I was! My decision to give tirelessly was no one’ s fault but my own, and what I needed to recognize was why I chose to live my life in this way. Who was I actually trying to please or gain approval from? There lied the keys to the core of my issue. My desire to please others resulted from a childhood issue with my own father. For years I sought for his approval and in my own mind I never received it, so I went on a mission to make anyone that I could happy. The problem is it never seemed to fill the holes in my heart. No matter how much I gave, I was still that much more empty.
The wound grew deeper and my effort to gain comfort grew with it, until I had no more to give. That is until I arrived at a place where I became empty, numb and isolated. It was a part of the dynamic that led to my multiple divorces and ability to abruptly shut down. I went from one extreme to the other and for a time I felt justified and as if I was finally doing the right thing for myself. After all it was time for me. “I did enough for everyone else”, I thought, but the pain and emptiness was still there.
One thing pain does for certain whether emotional or physical is it brings a wake up call. It will force you to your knees in surrender or have you running to the doctors in seek of some sort of relief. I was there, seeking relief, not a temporary fix, but something authentic and sustaining. No longer did that cure lie in simply making others feel good, but it lied in my own decisions and ability to be okay with them as they were, no matter how others felt about them or if they chose to agree with me or not.
Fast forward several years and I see a man who has a scar, but underneath I am truly healed. The scar will always remind me of where I was and what I am capable of, therefore acts symbolically of my transformation of becoming whole.
No longer do I live a life that seeks to solely please people. I place myself in that formula now and realize, “I am important and worthy enough to be first and I do not have to apologize or feel bad about it anymore.” The hole in my heart regarding this issue has been filled as a result to becoming whole, living my truth and healing from my wounds.
I am enough and so are you, so let’s begin to conduct ourselves as if we whole heartedly believe it.