Growing Beyond Despair

Good morning. It is not quite dawn here at my home as I sit to write to you. Honestly, I do not know exactly what I want to write, other than to say I’d like to continue with positive words about despair and suggestions on how to grow past it.

Yesterday, I wrote about my experience with despair and how I got past it permanently. I invite you to read that article in addition to this. Today, let’s focus on the things you can do to work toward letting go of your despair, growing beyond it.

I believe that a solution lies in the doing of something for others, but I also believe that we can’t skip over the step of looking deeply at our pain. Most people do not do this, simply because it IS painful, but the rewards we reap by exploring are many-fold. Inner peace, freedom, serenity, are a few of the rewards and these are huge!

The two single-most things I found that we can do to grow beyond despair are to journal about our feelings, our past, and to read self-help books. For me, the self-help books gave me hope, gave explanation for my feelings. I read Oriah Mountain Dreamer’s The Invitation and gained immense hope and deep understanding of my inner-most desires.

Then, Claudia Black’s books about the effects of abuse in our lives gave words to my feelings and helped me climb out of the hole of despair. After Claudia’s books came Alice Miller and John Bradshaw.

All of the books I read that helped me get through despair are sitting in two boxes here in my study and if you are interested in finding out what I have and reading them, I am happy to relay to you what I have and can send to you. Call me at 415-883-8325 if you’re interested in knowing more.

So, one way to get beyond despair is to read books that speak of hope. The other way is to write, and I suggest journaling with the non-dominant hand. If you are right-handed, teach yourself to print with your left hand, for example. The rewards are tremendous, as deep feelings will flow onto the page.

At first you may discover that the feelings that arise are too painful. If so, talk to someone you trust, or to a minister, or to a counselor. The point is to get help with them, but try to continue on. Research has shown that writing with the non-dominant hand uncovers deep creativity. I found it also uncovers deep feelings.

Be gentle with yourself as feelings surface. Do this exercise for a limited time each day at a pre-designated time of the day. Even five minutes is a great start. Eat well; exercise to release the tension that may arise. Don’t act upon what you discover, as what you are feeling now will change. It will morph into more of a peace eventually.

And I cannot stress enough to get help with what you discover.

I wish you well in your healing process and seriously, call me if you’re interested in getting access to my library of healing books. 415-883-8325. May you find peace in your journey as you learn to grow beyond despair. .

 

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Despair and Trauma

Hi, all! The day dawns bright and clear here in my home town of Novato, just 30 minutes north of San Francisco. It holds promise of peace for me and I hope for you also.

Yesterday’s search term really spoke to me. It was “despair and trauma” and it spoke to me because I experienced trauma that caused me great despair throughout my life as an adult. My upbringing was physically and verbally violent, traumatic for me, and throughout my adult life, I drank heavily to quell the feelings of despair I felt over the incidents I experienced.

Sometimes, I got drunk enough that I lost all self-control and found myself wailing over my despair. I would keen for hours until I was cried dry. Even in sobriety, I experienced despair over the issue that I saw no purpose in having had experienced the abuse I did; there was no purpose in it other than to make my life miserable.

Then one day, I had the opportunity to be useful to another person who was struggling, simply by relaying what had happened to me and what I had been doing to heal from it all. He was so grateful for the information, he almost started crying.

As I walked to my car, I started crying because I suddenly realized my upbringing had been of use. I was crying tears of realization, of joy. My background had been something that allowed me to connect to someone who was suffering, and I was able to have compassion for their plight.

If I never would have suffered as I did, I never would have been on the healing journey I was, and what I learned never would have been helpful to that man. See how my upbringing suddenly became useful to another? I did, and my despair disappeared and has not returned since that day about 6 years ago.

You, too, perhaps, can quiet your despair simply by letting your experience with trauma be known to someone else who is struggling. Then, share what you have done to heal from that despair, things that have been useful for you, things that have given you even a little bit of hope.

It is my hope that you discover, as I did, that your heart soars because you used your trauma and despair to be useful to another. It is my hope that you find peace.

 

 

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The Effects of Sobriety

Good morning to you all. Today I am going to address the effects of sobriety. I actually started this yesterday and the day got away from me…

What I will write here is an accounting of the effects I have gained from my sobriety. There is no guarantee you will experience all of these things, but chances are high that you will, if you maintain your sobriety and continue to make improvements in your life and with yourself.

The first and foremost effect of sobriety was the lack of hangovers. For seven years, I had experienced such horrific hangovers that the next day, I could not function till 3 or 4 pm. I did that every day for seven years… So, to awaken without a hangover was glorious and only improved over time as more and more alcohol was cleared from my system.

Then, the next effect of my sobriety was the disappearance of the sharp, stabbing pain I had been feeling in the area of my liver for 1-2 years. Later blood work revealed I did not have liver damage, so I am fortunate.

With sobriety came the feeling of feelings I had numbed for 26 years, and that was painful. Even though they were extremely difficult at times, the benefits of that were numerous. I was in so much pain that I had to journal every day which got my feelings out more quickly than anything I could have done. Also, by journaling with my non-dominant hand, even deeper feelings surfaced. Try it; it works!

Another benefit from the emotional pain was I was hurting so badly, I accepted help from a psychiatrist and a therapist. They diagnosed me with major clinical depression, PTSD, and panic disorder, and recommended I take medication, which I agreed to do. That has made my world manageable and put me at the same level emotionally that someone without those diagnoses enjoys.

Also, accepting help from the therapist helped me get through the pain more quickly, as she knew where to guide me. I looked for someone well-versed in the issues faced by an alcoholic, as well as with issues faced by children of alcoholic and abusive parents (ACA). We have a specific set of obstacles to overcome, you see, accessible by getting involved in a group that deals with ACA issues.

Over time in sobriety, my relationships improved immensely. I learned not to look to others to make me happy, which took the burden off of them. I learned to look at my own behavior instead of blaming others when things did not go the way I wanted or needed.

This is the biggest, single-most reason for my peace and freedom, in addition to learning how to forgive my parents for my upbringing. It’s huge, in fact, learning to look at our behavior, our actions, the ways in which we treat others and what’s behind that treatment or behavior, goes a long, long way to improve relations with others. Finally, I learned in sobriety to apologize for my bad behavior, to be humble instead of ashamed.

All of these things are the effects, the rewards, of my sobriety. I hope, if you elect the course of living sober, that you, too, experience them. May you discover in sobriety the great peace and freedom that I have discovered.

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Overcoming Hopelessness and Despair

Good morning. May this be a pleasant and productive day for you all. Today, there were numerous searches for issues related to hopelessness and despair, so that is what I will address today.

There are no two things that are so emotionally draining as hopelessness and despair. And once we are feeling these, we feel physically drained as well. We are chronically depressed, and have no energy or desire to do anything. At least, that is how it was for me.

For me, there was a feeling that things could not and would not get better. That hopelessness and despair touched everything I tried to do, and I seemed to just keep failing. Soon, I gave up. I started praying to die because I was too afraid to kill myself. The biggest thing I was despairing about was my background, the abuse, and feeling it was for no purpose in my life other than to make me miserable.

Then one day, something happened which took away the hopeless and despair in an instant. I was at a meeting where a man shared about his continued difficulties with his childhood issues. Hmmm, he sounded like he had a similar background as mine, so I went to talk to him after the meeting.

After I asked if he wanted to hear what I had to say, I relayed my story a little bit, and then started telling him about the things I was doing to try and get past the effects of the abuse. I told him about my therapist who was versed in 12-step programs as well as Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA) issues.  He asked how to reach her and I told him.

Then I started talking about books I had read which had been very helpful in putting the puzzle together about my hopelessness and despair. John Bradshaw, Alice Miller, and the most helpful, Claudia Black. He was so grateful for this information he almost started crying.

As I walked to my car, I started crying as I realized there was a purpose for my abusive upbringiing. It was to have experienced it so I could relate to others and the hopelessness and despair they felt because of it, and then so I could relay how I was healing from it. And doing this was useful and helpful to others who were suffering from hopelessness and despair. Suddenly, the feelings went away, and I felt refreshed, lightened, alive.

To get past your feelings of hopelessness and despair, I suggest you consider all the things you have done that have helped you, even a tiny bit, to feel better. Then, seek out others who are dealing with what you are dealing with, and relay to them what has been working for you in your journey.

In other words, use your successes to build up someone else. Use your experiences to be of service to another who is suffering from hopelessness and despair. When you do this, your own hopelessness and despair will lessen.

Let us know if this has been helpful for you to be of service to another by leaving a comment. Thank you.

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Feeling Hopeless with No Purpose or Reason to Live

Good morning. I hope this morning dawns brightly, and that you aren’t feeling hopeless with no reason to live. Instead, I hope that you each reflect upon your strengths and the wonderful being that you are, and bring that to the world today.

I was struck by this search, “feeling worthless with no purpose and no reason to live” because I have been there. I have been in that place that is so low, that all I wanted to do was to die. In fact, I prayed to God several times a day to let me die. He didn’t answer that prayer…

I’m so glad He didn’t because things turned around for me, and they can turn around for you, too. With a little bit of action, you, too can feel there is purpose to your life, to your living and you can quiet those feelings of feeling hopeless.

The first action I suggest is to take the time each morning to write in a journal. I suggest writing with your non-dominant hand. I am right-handed and when I started writing with my left hand, all sorts of things, deep feelings, came up and flowed onto the page. I printed instead of writing script. That was easier. There is a soothing quality that emerges when we can express what is in our heart and soul.

The second thing to do is to seek out books written about the thing you are feeling hopeless about. For example, my feelings of hopelessness centered around my abusive childhood, so I found authors John Bradshaw, Alice Miller, and Claudia Black and I read their books. They gave voice and definition to the feelings I had but couldn’t quite name. This was very soothing for me.

The third thing you can do is to find someone to talk to about feeling hopeless, someone with whom to share your burden. This can be a trusted friend, family member, or clergy/minister. Remember, a pain shared is a pain divided. Find someone who will not start telling you what to do, but will instead just listen and offer comfort to you.

Try these three things and see if you get some relief from feeling hopeless. The secret lies in trying to get the feelings out… either in writing or by verbalizing them.

To you who is feeling no reason to live, I wish you hope to live, hope that your life is worth it. You see, each life is worth it. Each person has a gift to share with the world. You just don’t know what that gift is yet. Be patient. It will appear. You will soon discover it and feeling hopeless will melt away.

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The Side Effects of Sobriety

Good morning, all! I chose “the side effects of sobriety” today because there have been so many for me, that I want to share about them.

The first effect of sobriety is the absence of hangovers. If you’re like me and experienced terrific hangovers every day, keeping you down until about 2 or 3 pm, then you will love this benefit of sobriety. Waking up clear is a true delight.

The second side effect of sobriety is healing of emotional wounds. For me, this took a bit of time, but the effort and wait were very much worth it. By remaining sober, the deep feelings I had numbed for years, had avoided for years, were brought forth for me to examine. At first it was very difficult, but over time, they softened and even got better as I did the emotional work to heal.

What do I mean when I talk about doing the emotional work to heal? I’m referring first to being present for the feelings that arise, allowing them to “be” within, without running, without numbing. Then there is the work with an outside, objective person to help dispel the ill-effects of various feelings gained along the way.

For example, as I grew up, I gained the feeling that I was worthless. This feeling stuck with me in adulthood and shadowed everything I did or tried to do. With external support and encouragement, I was able to realize that the words repeatedly said by my father, “you are worthless,” were a lie, not said about me. I learned that I was a very worthwhile person.

Another side effect of sobriety is the ability to look at the world around me in great detail. Everything is clearer, more noticeable to me.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of sobriety is the improvement I have had in my relations with others. I am able to come at a relationship with true caring and concern for the other, with true respect and tolerance. My vision of what they are saying to me is no longer skewed by the effects of alcohol, and I am not nearly as hostile or argumentative.

I can see others as spirited beings in sobriety, and this is something totally new for me. I delight in my dealings with others.

What are some of the side effects you have experienced in sobriety? Leave a comment and let us know.

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How to Show Compassion

Good morning, everyone! May this day bring you peace. May it also bring you the gift of showing compassion to those in your life. The search term I have chosen today is “how to show compassion (to your husband).” I have dropped off the “to your husband,” in the hopes that we can learn how to show compassion to anyone.

Fields of Compassion

Compassion is defined as the ability to show sympathy for another’s plight, to have empathy, coupled with a strong desire to help. In the process of getting to compassion, we will end up clearing out our anger, our resentment, toward the other person. That means we need to look at our anger.

To do that, first look at what is behind your anger. Usually, it is hurt, betrayal. Allow yourself to acknowledge and feel those feelings. Remember, what we resist, persists, so we want to shine light on our anger, our resentment. Next, we always want to so a self-appraisal to see if we did anything to start the dispute, the situation about which we are angry.

If we find we did do or say something to which the other person is reacting like any normal person would, then we need to take responsibility for that and apologize, at the same time letting go of the anger. We need to own our behavior, honestly and completely.

If we didn’t do something to provoke the other person, then we need to look with the eyes of compassion. So, how do we do that? We acknowledge the difficulty the other person is experiencing, or has experienced in their life that leads them to behave as they do, and we have sympathy, empathy, for them. To do this, we think of what we would feel like if we had experienced what the other did or does experience.

Once we have compassion for another, we can move toward forgiveness. As we forgive, it is easier and easier to expand our compassion toward them, and we are able to forgive more and more completely. The depth of the hurt will dictate the length of time this process takes, with more hurt leading to more time needing to forgive.

This is all a process and we would do well to have compassion for ourselves as we move through it all.

In what way do you try to show your compassion toward another or yourself? Leave a comment and let us know.

I’d like to let you know that, if you like what I blog about, then you may be interested in a support group I am starting. If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area and want to find peace-of-mind, want to find a way through any emotional turmoil, then I invite you to join me. There are two groups. One meets every 2nd and 4th Monday from 10 am to 11 am in San Rafael, in Marin. The second group meets every 2nd and 4th Thursday from 1:30 to 2: 30 pm, also in SanRafael. Both groups will run for three months.

We will cover how to identify the gates of your heart, learn the keys to unlock these gates, and understand how to push the gates open. In month one, we will deal with how to do a self-appraisal. Month two will be spent on getting through grief, and month three will deal with forgiveness so we can find peace.

If you are interested, call me to get more information or to register. The groups will start in February, 2013. Space is limited to twelve people per group. 415-883-8325. 

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Finding Joy in the Simple Things

Good morning! I have been having difficulty with my computer for the last few days. It keeps freezing and crashing on me… before I can type in the blog. Let’s see how far I can get today. I liked the query about joy… finding joy in the simple things, so let’s move forward and discuss this.

Burst of Joy

Joy is an emotion of elation and, more quietly, of extreme contentment. When we experience joy, we are in the present moment, noticing that which is around us with gentle and appreciative eyes and heart. When experiencing joy, we are fulfilled with the most basic and simple things.

Even in the midst of my computer trying to die on me through its crashing and freezing, I have experienced joy. How in the world did that happen and why in the world would I even be thinking about joy, you might ask? Well, every time it crashed and I had to wait for it to restart, I was able to look around me at my surroundings, which brought me great joy and contentment. The way I have my home decorated brings peace to my soul.

There are other ways to experience joy in the midst of difficult times. You see, joy is expressing delight, or rejoicing in what we have. Even in the midst of a difficult time, we can turn our attention to the little things around us that delight us, in which we can rejoice. It may be as simple as a little flower in all its wonder, or it may be something as profound as watching another human being, especially a child, as they navigate their day.

Joy is found in the little things that are occurring constantly around us, every day, all day. All we need to do is make the decision to look for joy in our world. This takes willingness to turn our attention from our strife and trouble, and focus on something else for a moment. In that moment, we become refreshed, making it easier to cope with our troubles.

Where do you find joy in the simple things of your life? What brings you delight, even when you are stressed? We’d love to hear from you, so leave a comment and let us know how joy manifests in your life.

 

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Overcoming Insecurity and Low Self-Esteem

Good morning, all. May you have a day of growth and awareness as you journey today. There were four searches for overcoming insecurity and low self-esteem, so I will address this topic.

In the pursuit of getting past insecurity and low self-esteem, I wonder if we ever get totally over insecurity. I mean, I wonder if there are situations that arise for us all that sometimes lead us to feel insecure, even when we have a strong sense of self-esteem? It may be quite normal to feel pangs of insecurity, for example, when faced with a new situation, but we move through it and it disappears as we become more comfortable in the situation.

Having raised that point, let’s look at situations where we are acutely insecure… insecure all the time, with a low self-esteem. I believe that our esteem is formed as we grow up, and is further affected as an adult. Lots of berating, criticism, and being put down will lead to insecurity and low self-esteem, either as a child, or while in a bad marriage, for example. So, what do we do about it?

I suggest that we determine what is the root of our insecurity and low self-esteem. Can we recall the times when we were berated, criticized… told we were worthless, for example. That was my demise… being told I was worthless almost every day as a child. It took its toll and I have had difficulty with getting past a low self-esteem all my life. How did I do it, get beyond the messages I received?

First, I identified the cause of my insecurity and low esteem.  It was not only childhood that led to this, but my verbally abusive marriage, as well. After identifying the causes, I wrote about my feelings… I journaled. And not just writing, but printing with my non-dominant hand, my left hand. When I did this, all sorts of deep feelings welled forth onto the page, and I began to feel some relief. My suggestion is for you to try to print with your non-dominant hand every morning for at least 5 minutes. You’ll be amazed what will surface.

Next, I began a rigorous self-talk campaign. I told myself that what was said to me were lies, that what was said was highly critical and I could never meet the expectations of the one who criticized me. Knowing there was nothing I could ever do to meet their expectations led me to feel freer, more secure in myself. Coupled with a self-appraisal of my traits, I saw my positive traits, and I began to remind myself of them every time insecurity or low self-esteem occurred.

I recognized that what was told to me was actually what the person who said them was feeling about themselves. Ahhh, what was said had nothing to do with me, only the other person. I recognized that they were emotionally and spiritually sick, not that I was bad.

So, with repeated soothing and positive self-talk, I began to grow my low self-esteem. I wrote about my positive traits, again with my non-dominant hand, to reinforce them  in my heart and mind. Over the years, that has worked to raise my low self-esteem and has led to feeling more secure.

What about you? Can you identify where the feelings of insecurity and low self-esteem originated? Can you write, print, with your non-dominant hand and let the deep hurt surface? Can you follow up those revelations with positive self-talk, and recognize that what was said was really about the person who said those things to you? Give these things a try and let us know how it turns out for you.

 

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Getting Through Grief After a Divorce – Part I

Good morning! The day dawns clear and bright, and like all days, brings the promise of peace and joy to my world. I hope this is so for your world as well. Someone was looking for inspirational sayings for after a divorce, and I can offer ways to get through your grief. You be the judge of whether or not what I say is inspirational. : )

Grief occurs with any loss we experience. In other words, grief does not only occur after the death of a loved one. Loss includes divorce, loss of a pet, loss of a job, even a move to a different location. If we recognize that we have experienced a loss, that makes going through the grief process that much easier because we are not resisting it or being blind to our grief.

Grieving is difficult, I will admit, yet, to return to whole and to get to peace-of-mind again, we need to allow ourselves to feel our grief. We need to allow ourselves to go through the process of recovery and repair of our heart. Today, let’s talk aboout the grief process after a divorce.

People are uncomfortable with another’s expressions of grief and say some pretty useless and even damaging things. Examples include: “Get over it,” “S/he was no good for you anyway,” “You will meet someone else and forget about him/her.” There are more, and these are most commonly said to us when we have gone through a divorce and are struggling with our grief. So, what can we do?

First of all, it is a grave disservice to tell someone who is grieving to “get over it!” This totally negates where someone is in the process of grieving. Obviously, they can’t, or they would! There is something stopping them from moving on. Often, that is unfinished business, anger, or guilt.

For me, after I left my marriage in 2001, I grieved the loss of my familiar routine the most. It took several months before I actually missed my ex-husband. Then I moved into the guilt phase, as I realized the ways in which I had led the marriage to demise. Occasionally, I still get twangs of grief over things I did, and I say soothing things to myself, like: “If you had known better, you would have done better, Jones.” “You did the best you could with the tools you had at the time, lacking though they were, it was the best you knew how to do.”

Sit with that self-talk for the day, and I will return tomorrow to give more information about how to get through grief. I am splitting it up, because I have a fair amount more to say and the post is getting long. Also, for the day, try to ignore what people tell you that is not useful, realizing that the person saying those things is uncomfortable. Feel compassion for their uncomfortableness and continue with your soothing self-talk. I’ll be back tomorrow morning…

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