Tag Archives: DPchallenge

DAILY PROMPT: Confessions of a Co-dependent: Me, Myself & My Helplessness

loveyourselfchallenge_tumblrLooking back, living life as a co-dependent was like a personal hell that I would re-create through relationships for myself over and over again.  I started to feel like Bill Murray in the film Groundhog Day only I didn’t feel like an omnipotent “God” with the advantage of no-calorie pastries, I felt helpless and cursed.  I lived my life like an addict, only I was addicted to being needed by others and when I was rejected I didn’t know where to turn.  Usually I would turn, but I would just turn in circles like an out of control top who could not tolerate the pain any longer.

Many addicts talk about when they “hit bottom” and my hitting bottom was definitely not something to write home about.  As for many, it was one of those experiences that has come back to haunt me in my own “hall of shame” many a time.  Understanding co-dependency is very difficult and frustrating for outsiders.  We can see certain patterns in people, but it can be trying and difficult to understand why they keep going back to that place of helplessness and loneliness whenever a relationship ends.  And why they choose partners that may seem dysfunctional or simply “wrong” for them.

For me, I had deeply ingrained worthiness issues, and I chose people that would prove to me my own personal belief system- that I did not deserve a healthy, thriving relationship that fed my soul on all levels, and that had good boundaries.  My lack of boundaries always set me up to fail because I compromised what felt right for me all the time due to my fear of conflict.  It would build up until I myself could not handle the situation any longer.  But if a breakup came out of left field, it felt like deep abandonment and I had no healthy coping mechanisms to help me get out of my personally fated riptide.

My rock bottom was not the end of my conflict, but it brought a turning point for me in my psyche that I had to take notice of.  I was young and already felt tired of having to go through the motions of life.  I was confronted with a break up that to me came out of left field.  I was a year out of college, and still very co-dependent.  When the break-up happened, I felt amazed at how people can make decisions for you and there was nothing you could do about it.  But mostly, I felt downtrodden and so helpless that life simply didn’t matter anymore.  There was a crack of light from my soul trying to expand itself into my ego-centered vision, but I was refusing to see it.

One night after going out with some friends and drinking I walked into my dark bedroom as if I was walking into a prison cell.   I looked out my window and saw the street lamp’s light, and the beautiful leaves from the trees rustling so peacefully.  In my heart, I wanted to be those leaves and not myself.  I was truly sick of my ego’s helplessness.  I then swallowed a bottle of pills.  Before going to the hospital, I simply remember this one thought- “why doesn’t anyone love me.”  What I had to learn is that my own personal love for myself and the divinity that coursed through my veins was undeveloped, and it was time to move forward.  And you know what? I am grateful every day for the grace and karma that I had to take life back by the reins from that experience and remember my truth rather than reject it so I could hold onto a belief system about myself that my ego used every day to create more separation.  The great divide within myself had to heal, as it does within all of us.  And I look forward to doing this with others for the rest of my life.

A MOTHER’S LOVE

Some people may look at life and death as a moment that is divinely inspired.  That we have no choice in when these transformative, game-changing moments will take place- whether it is our own life, or the life transition of another.  Things happen in our lives; people come and go with life and death much like the clouds in the sky yet with much greater impressions pressed upon our hearts.  When I read the weekly writing challenge prompt many things went through my head.  So many things have happened that could be considered “life changing.”  But in the end, I kept coming back to one moment that I have to say, changed everything for me.

When my mother was pregnant with me, she had recently suffered traumatic loss.  A year before she married my father, her own father passed away from a sudden heart attack.  Within the same year, only a month or so before her wedding, her mother who was also her best friend passed away from a debilitating illness that painfully drains away your spirit.   She was the silent witness of that sacred second when her mother took her last breath.  It was a final breath that would echo forever throughout her life.

One story that always has affected me was how my grandmother struggled to sew my mother’s bridesmaid dresses near the end of her life.  I try to imagine what that would be like.  To know that you are so close to death, to feel it deep down in places you didn’t even know existed, while tirelessly piecing together dresses for a wedding party- the wedding of your only daughter; and to know that you will most likely not be there for the celebration.  I imagine that piecing those dresses together would be an exercise in piecing together your own life in your heart, using it as an exercise of love and meditation.  I know these events had to have been powerful, game-changing experiences for my mother, and affected another turn of events that gifted my soul with a life trajectory.

Shortly after my parents’ wedding, my mother became pregnant with me.  At the time of my birth my father was away training for his new job as federal law enforcement in Georgia.  My mother was all alone, 9 months pregnant and staying at my grandparents’ house.  My grandfather was a man of few words, and did not come off as the warmest of souls.  My mother went into labor and was taken to the hospital by my grandfather knowing that she was in this all alone.  It was her opportunity to bring new life into this world after the loss of both of her parents.  It was her first time giving birth, not knowing what to expect in her heart.

After my delivery, she had an allergic reaction to the anesthesia.  My mother had a near death experience where she witnessed her soul leave her body.  She could see everything happening around her body from a distance- the nurse rush in, the resuscitation efforts.  I know for me, this was an event that changed my life forever.  In this moment, my mother had a choice- to leave her body behind and move on from this life, or to come back and live out her current life as my mother.  She chose to come back.  Because she did I have had a mother that has taught me many lessons that I could not have learned without her.

They were not all rosy moments, but they were not all tragic either.  I am who I am today because in that instant when she could have chosen to move on from this life, she did not.  My mother went on to tell me this story about her near death experience and here I am, writing it now and sharing it with many others. I share it with the intention that you too may think about how precious life is and how our ability to witness the suffering and joy of others is a profound gift offered to us as an experience of deep abiding love.   Our suffering is not isolated.  We have the opportunity to remember the importance of every instant we also share with others and how the simple act of sharing even a little story can change someone’s life, in an instant.

COLOR ME SKY ANEW

This recurrence of feeling appearing from somewhere
Walking around this labyrinth of moments- singing and laughing
Something is happening as a dancing wisp of light
Lifts me into the sky and I am somewhere, again
Everyone wishing for this light to seep into their denseness
To become something other than the heaviness of the mind
Opening up my arms to the possibility
Where is everyone?
A leaf twists in a dollop of warm air that drops from my mouth
I shall blow my dreams upon you little leaf
And you will carry them for eternity
Even when your color turns in the midst of a changing temperature
You will ride another wind into a soft tuft of grass where I shall lay my head
As you blend into the earth beside my worn face
You will give me compassion and I shall cry
As I water the earth with my heart and tears
We shall become new again.

When I wrote this poem, I was sitting outside on my patio one evening admiring the New Mexico sky and all its amplified color.  Living in New Mexico I am lucky to live as a guest and witness to some of the most extraordinary light.  This light illuminates the world around me in a way that is inspiring.  Witnessing nature and all it reveals to us is a gift and a place of contemplation in simply being.  I am grateful every day for all that nature reveals to us through the movement of the sun and moon each day, and through the changing seasons.  Here we are again, fall…..autumn.

Autumn gives us a cyclical opportunity to remember that at every moment change has occurred.  My body, emotions, and mental state- they are changed and different with every passing second.  There is no permanent “self”.  My body that once was born and small enough to be held by my parents is now 5’7” and again- forever changing.  Nature has taught me that no matter how permanent my ego tells me I am, it is not true.  And I can use this as a subtle opportunity to remember to love and not be so hard on the world around me and my own perceived self.  Every moment of compassion brings about more change and what once “was” between me and another person may be anew with understanding and gratefulness.

I am grateful even for this small opportunity to write and share with you how your beauty that has been reflected in this season we call autumn has changed me, once again.

WHAT WOULD BUDDHA DO?

Interrelationship

You are me, and I am you.
Isn’t it obvious that we “inter-are”?
You cultivate the flower in yourself,
so that I will be beautiful.
I transform the garbage in myself,
so that you will not have to suffer.

I support you;
you support me.
I am in this world to offer you peace;
you are in this world to bring me joy

Thich Nhat Hanh

I grew up around DC.  A Northern Virginia suburb that gave me the opportunity to be a part of a lot of protests- whether I was in them or knew about them, they were always there affecting the world around us.  When I worked in the district, we had to close our office on the day of the World Bank protests.  Once, my roommate was on a bus returning to our apartment in Adams Morgan and it was actually attacked by World Bank protesters.  And no, we were not in a third world country, we were in Washington DC.  My office would dread this day- when the world’s “trustafarians” would embark on the nation’s capital and protest policies that most had no concrete reason to protest other than to exercise their right to the expression of aggression over things that usually had nothing to do with what they were actually protesting.  I’m not saying that there are not reasons to protest- because I know there are a lot of policies in this world that don’t make any sense, and affect many people extremely negatively.  There are also people that seem to get away with everything, leaving those deeply affected behind, having to find some way to survive in this delusional desire realm we live in, we trudge along in every day.  If you look at history, the truth reveals itself.  Sit ins created change, peaceful marches on Washington during the Civil Rights Movement created change.

When the Occupy Movement began, I remember feeling somewhat grateful that people were out there making a statement about something they were really concerned about.  There were intelligent people out there really trying to make their voices heard about social problems that they felt could not just be swept under the rug.  There was a community starting where people were aligning with one another, and they did not feel so alone in their frustrations.  As our world is truly rooted in the “mind”, change is constant and with that change comes cycles in our collective consciousness.  Eventually, things cycle out and it is important for us to move with that change.

This blog post is a piece outing myself about protests.  Many people have called me a closet hippie, and I admit that I work hard to cover it up- believe me!  In my heart, I find that most protests are futile in nature and the most effective way to make change is by “being the change we wish to see in the world” as Gandhi once said.  I truly mean this, and although it may seem not concrete enough for most people, if we allow ourselves to be used as tools for a higher consciousness, and not only work on our own issues, but go out there and do things that really help people and create new policies that will affect those ineffective policies, then we can give an opportunity to others to grow and transform, and be provided for when they feel there is nothing left instead of fighting with stubborn egos.

We can utilize every opportunity we have to be kind and in our integrity in this life, and  affect the world to a much larger degree than mass organized protests.  Negotiation is key here- we must look at who we are dealing with in every situation, and analyze the most effective way to strategically work with someone based on their character traits and what they believe in.

The law of cause and effect is extremely important here and our actions are rooted in this principle.  If we push forward in anger and self righteousness, then that anger and self righteousness will push back because there is no separate self.  In this pushing and pulling nothing becomes settled and people walk away with more issues than they walked into the room with.  I remember being in high school and watching a documentary on LBJ and the protests outside of the White House during the Vietnam War.  There was a camera shot of him standing in the window looking out while mass protests shouted at him, “Hey, Hey, LBJ, how many kids have you killed today?”  And what did LBJ do?  He raised a flag of stubbornness rather than surrender,  and he continued on with his policies.  That picture sits in my mind so clearly and I only feel compassion for everyone involved.

Whenever you feel angry about someone’s policies or behaviors that cause more suffering in this world for others, remember what it would be like to be that person.  Be conscious of how they are creating more suffering for themselves, and in the end, their ignorance is winning in this life.  We have the greatest gift of free will to choose behavior that is not rooted in ignorance.  In the poem above by Thich Nhat Hanh, he says:

You cultivate the flower in yourself,
so that I will be beautiful.
I transform the garbage in myself,
so that you will not have to suffer.

To embrace the love within you is enough to change the world, and there is no protest that would ever change my connection to you, and vice versa.  Every seed we plant within ourselves is also planted in others around us.  I am grateful every day for the opportunity and choice that I have to live in a compassionate way and connect with others the way I would like to be treated.  When I think about my own ignorant behavior in this life, the one thing that helped me more than anything else was compassion and the willingness of another person to teach me by example rather than confrontation.

What did Siddhartha do when he saw the poverty and suffering in his city after sneaking out from his shielded reality?  He did everything he could to find enlightenment within himself so he could help ameliorate the suffering of everyone, including the poor people- and he was a prince.  His teachings are still relevant today, thousands of years later.