|Me, age 20|
|Me, age 41|
So what has changed? I think the most significant change is... me. The inside me has grown so much larger over the past 22 years. I've done years of therapy in between, getting over the abuses of my childhood and young adulthood. I've attended seminary and graduated and been ordained. I look at the world through different eyes, now. I'm calmer, more self-possessed, less impulsive. I deal better with schedule changes, and I cook more.
Over on FaceBook, someone posted up a picture that shows a silhouette face bursting into flying birds (it's beautiful, not freaky). Under it is a quote from Lao Tzu: "If you correct your mind, the rest of your life will fall into place." The quote has been stuck in my mind for a couple of hours now. I ask again, what has changed? The answer is that I've (at least partially) corrected my mind. Life is now falling into place.
|What masks do you hide behind? (1)|
Ten years ago, I began serious work on correcting my problems. I worked intensively with a therapist who didn't judge my oddities in lifestyle, but focused on my outbursts and my inner pains. Dr. D. had the bravery to tell me when I was wrong, bluntly and without beating around the bush. I owe him my life. I owe him my relationships, too, because his patient and kind help allowed me to let real love enter my heart.
He is the one that taught me that my feelings are real, they're mine, and that no one has the right to take them away from me. He also taught me that it is my responsibility not to regulate those feelings, but to regulate how I present those feelings to the world. It is right and appropriate for me to feel angry when someone does something bad to me. It is not right and appropriate for me to scream or threaten or write nasty things about them.
|Life's puzzle takes a while (2)|
My anger doesn't mean you need to be angry, too. My anger may be based on false assumptions or observations that are not complete. My anger may have nothing to do with reality at all, and be based solely upon internal issues. That doesn't make my anger wrong. It's MY anger. So long as I don't force that anger onto others, and also don't bottle it up and make it fester, my anger can be used for healing and learning.
Where I've been was a place of excess emotions and adherence to schedules that had to be incredibly strict and unvarying in order for me to cope. So where am I going? Onward and upward, ever on and ever better!
Today, I recognize that angry words thrown at me are a symptom of something more, some hurt that goes far deeper. It's not really me they're mad at, just as it wasn't really other people I was mad at (and sometimes still am). I am able to separate myself better from the feelings and the actions/words of myself and of others. I have more control over how I express my negativity.
The result is that I'm happier. I'm not giddily happy (well, not most of the time) or manic, but just... happy. When I'm sad, I don't have to thrust it into the open, and I don't have to push it down deep inside. I can express that I'm sad (or angry, or frustrated) to others in a way that shows the emotion is mine, not theirs. Most of the time, that is, because I'm not perfect. I've come a long way from that 20 year old with emotional bulimia. But like any sufferer of bulimia, I have to watch that I don't allow myself to relapse. I'm healthy, but perhaps not fully healed.
As I approach my 42nd birthday on Saturday, I do so with a smile in my heart and on my face. Life is not perfect, nor would I have it be so. Life is good, and that's enough. I'm happy more days than I'm sad. I'm healthy more days than I'm ill. I love my home, my partners, our children (all of them!), and our life. I love my ministry and the place that I am right now, emotionally, physically and mentally.
I'm going forward with my life, with my head high, my eyes alight, and my heart full of song. I am content with the fact that sometimes that song is hard rock, sometimes it's classical, and sometimes it's 80s hair band crazy. Sometimes it's sad, and other times it's happy. That's what a soundtrack is supposed to be like, after all...
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1) Image by fedegrafo / morgueFile free photos
2) Image by mconnors / morgueFile free photos