Meditation: Calm, 7 Days of Gratitude: Strengthening Relationships Length: 11 minutes Where: Living Room, Los Angeles How It Felt: Interesting Who Joined Me: Steve and Tigre
Another day, another gratitude meditation. Yesterday was a good day to be intentionally grateful, as it could have been rough. I had dermatologist and dentist appointments (I hate going to doctors of any kind, even though both my dermo and dentist are absolutely amazing and these were just routine checkups), I had so much I wanted to get done, and my tension headache was still hanging out somehow.
This headache! I have no idea what’s going on. Luckily, it’s Steve’s birthday month, so tonight there will be a couple’s massage and hopefully that fixes me once and for all. Today I woke up better than yesterday but still tense. I’ve done hours of yoga, stretching, neck exercises, tried every type of pillow- nothing is working!
My only theory is that I’m reading this huge, heavy book that I’m super into, and maybe I’m holding it up weird in bed or on the couch….? Is that a thing?
Anyway, I powered through the first half of the day but the second half turned into a “take pain meds and a nap” kind of evening, which, it turned out, we all needed. Well, I was the only one who needed the pain meds, but Tigre and Steve and I all ended up with the nap.
So, the meditation. This was an interesting one. Maybe all this pain is getting me down a bit, or maybe, since I’m PMSing, I’m predisposed to be a bit sad, but this one left me feeling down. I didn’t really notice it until later in the night a little while before bed, but it was hanging there all evening, getting heavier as the night wore on.
This session was all about being grateful for the people in our lives, and how important it is to appreciate them. Steve and I exchanged little looks at the beginning, because we know this all too well. We are the kind of couple that says “thank you” nonstop, appreciates as much as possible, and makes a point to not just expect our partners to do this or that. When you expect things, it’s hard to appreciate them.
(We obviously expect basic things, like loyalty, honesty, respect, etc, but we make a point to notice when the dishes got done, even if they are done by the person who always does them, or little things that often escape observation, like plugging in the other’s laptop at night.)
Here’s where it got tricky for me- I am grateful, beyond grateful, for an incredible number of people in my life. Friends, family, relationship- I’m so lucky. I am loved for who I am and appreciated for being me by so many. I have support all over the place. I have a long list of people I can call just to chat or when I need to vent or to work out complex situations or that would just listen while I cried.
These are enormous blessings.
However, no matter how loved you are, it is still very painful when some of the people closest to you, the ones who are supposed to love you the most, no matter what, cannot find their way into your life.
That’s just that.
I love my dad with every ounce of my heart, but he is an alcoholic, and when he’s drinking, I can’t have contact with him. It’s too painful. I’m very grateful to Steve, who keeps in touch with him for me so I know he’s alive, and lets me know when he’s doing well so we can talk, which happens very seldom. I know he loves me unconditionally, but it’s painful that he can’t really be a part of my life. That I can’t call him up whenever I need him or have an experience that makes me think of him. It’s extremely hard.
I love my mom, too, but she has some trauma and mental health issues that make it impossible to have her in my life right now. My relationship with her could fill a book, so it’s too much to explain in a blog post. She’s hurt me a lot, and damaged me in many ways, and it’s come to the point I’ve had to go “no contact.” It’s often a relief, but of course it feels terrible to not have the kind of mom that you can call when good things happen and you know she’ll be happy for you, or that you can count on to be a steady force in your life.
In many ways, I feel like an orphan with both parents still alive. It’s a very strange and often heartbreaking experience.
I do not take cutting people out of my life lightly. I would never, ever make that choice in “retribution” or to “punish” someone. I have done a lot of inner work to forgive them both, and I don’t believe in holding grudges. They are doing the best the can with the tools they have, and neither had an easy life. Setting “no contact” boundaries is something I’ve had to do to protect my life, my peace, and my family.
It isn’t something I’ve done with glee, thinking how it’s going to really “show” them- that’s childish and gross. It isn’t a form of silent treatment- also beyond immature. It’s actually the opposite- it’s clear communication. It’s just saying, “Here are my boundaries, and you are welcome in my life when you can accept them. If you can’t respect them, I’m sorry, but you can’t be a part of it until you can.”
Unfortunately, as I’m sure you can imagine, there is a loneliness that comes with this situation. It’s made harder by the fact that the healthier I get, and the more I work to make sure my trauma doesn’t hurt the people around me, the clearer I get mentally on past abuse, mental health issues, and how to continue to heal and get stronger, I get further away from some of the family members I thought I would be closest to my entire life.
Healing mentally and emotionally is like packing up and escaping a dangerous place. There are bombs falling and people screaming and pain and suffering everywhere, and you suddenly realize you don’t have to stay there. There is a train that leaves every evening, and you just have to get your bags and get on it.
You assume all your loved ones will come with you. You’re like, “Guys! I just found this way out! It’s awesome! It’s going to take some effort, and it won’t be easy, but we don’t have to stay here crying and hurting and getting bombs dropped on us anymore! We can be happy and feel good about ourselves! We can help other people! Won’t that be great?”
And then, somehow, a lot of those people are like, “Look, that sounds great. Really happy for you. I am not interested in that though. It’s cool here, I’m very comfortable. Maybe I’ll catch a later train, but trains are kind of scary… I think I’ll try my luck with the bombs.”
You’re sad, but you get on the train, and you think, “It’s okay, I’ll show them! I’ll send back letters and photos and care packages! They’ll see how amazing it can be out here!” And you do, for a long time. But, the further away the train gets, the more work you do, the less you find you’re even speaking the same language. Suddenly, their letters back stop making sense. As you get clearer, it’s even harder to understand why they stay, why they keep choosing to keep their heads in the sand, to accept abuse and chaos. You keep trying, and they really don’t bother at all.
You realize you aren’t even a part of their universe anymore. You wanted to save them, but you can’t do that. You wanted them to want to save themselves. And they resent you for that, and start finding ways to make things your fault, even though all you ever wanted to do was help them, show them how loved they are, give them options. Suddenly you are judgmental, or crazy, or difficult. Suddenly you “cause” problems by pointing out the problems. Suddenly you have almost nothing in common anymore.
And it’s lonely. You made it out… but you had to leave so many behind. Not because there wasn’t room, but simply because they refuse to even pack a bag.
This meditation made me grateful for so many people, but it also reminded me that a few of the most important people in my life, at least of the first few decades of my life, are likely never going to feel close to me. And there is nothing I can do about it, unless I want to fake it, take the negativity and abuse, and pretend it’s all okay.
I’m historically not a great pretender. Nor do I deserve that treatment.
Last night, I felt sad. I felt lonely, and I allowed myself to wallow in self pity for a little while. I journaled, and had a little cry. I reminded myself that it’s okay to feel this way, because it’s a painful situation. It’s tragic. It’s hard to watch people you love reject your love and reject you, who you are. I am not the only one in this situation. So many people are rejected by the people who are meant to love them unconditionally not because of anything they’ve done wrong, but because of who they are, what they want out of life, or what they believe. It happens every single day.
I’m so incredibly proud of myself for the work I’ve done to be a healthy person. I love who I am, and no one can take that away from me. It hasn’t been easy, but I’ve done it. I’m still doing it- it’s a lifelong journey. I’m not taking my pain out on the people close to me, the easiest targets. I plan to spend the rest of my life helping others with everything I’ve learned and continue to learn. I know the hard road is often a lonely one- the easy road is easier, plain and simple.
But, some days, you just have to face the pain and let it roll over you. You can’t be strong every single minute.
I’m grateful I can look at each of these relationships and know I did my very best. I did everything in my power to make them work. I loved, I forgave, I stepped back, forward, sideways, I tried choosing my words carefully and then being direct, I was positive and kind, generous and supportive, and I was patient. At the end of the day, I only gave up when I’d exhausted every other option. And, really, I didn’t give up. I just stopped being the only one trying. I just said, “Here’s where I’ll be if you would like to meet me there.”
But, to get there, they’ll have to get on that damn train.