Thankful Thursday: Feelings

 Happy Halloween….I was flipping through the photo albums trying to remember Halloween’s gone by.  I remember the costumes, I remember the faces BUT I don’t remember the feelings attached to them.  Some days I struggle with feelings…. Some days I feel numb unable to feel anything.  I wonder if the MS not only stole my memories but also stole some of my ability to feel???

Well, today is all about feelings….. so what are feelings?  We all have them, right?  Feelings is defined as “an emotional state or reaction“.

Many of us have spent our whole lives stuffing feelings (okay, so some of us).  I know I am not alone in this.  One of the reasons addicts become addicts is because they don’t want to feel anymore.  Pretty much we don’t know how to cope with whatever the feeling is we are feeling.  I don’t mean just drug or alcohol addicts…. there are those who stuff their feelings by eating, or shopping or having sex or the list goes on.  Basically an addict is anyone who does something to not feel feelings.   I usually say, anything I can get obsessive and compulsive about to help me not feel is an addiction….. I know I squirreled. LOL.

I am writing on my Fourth Step which is all about feelings.  It is actually about taking a moral inventory of myself.  When it came to the part about feelings, I was lost.  The only feelings I ever remember having were shame, guilt, fear and anger.  Were there any others???  See I had beat myself up for so long over the mistakes I had made in my life I didn’t know how to cope with my feelings.  So, I went from drugs to alcohol to shopping and credit card debt. Anything to help me step out of those feelings I didn’t want to have and feel better about me.  It worked for awhile but then life got unmanageable.  We can only stuff the feelings for so long before they start to bubble up and create a mess in our lives.

I actually had to do a Google search for what types of feelings there were..  I was clueless.  I was amazed at the list I found….pleasant feelings vs difficult or unpleasant feelings.  I had actually felt a lot of them.  The tough part came when I had to remember the time when I felt them and describe the event.  MS has stolen so many memories.  I remember bits and pieces but not always the details.

MS along with my relapse/recover brought about so many negative emotions I am learning NOT to stuff on a daily basis.  The reason I started Thankful Thursday was to turn the things which I tend to view as negative into a positive.  By looking at the blessing associated with the negative situation, I can get a better perspective on my life.

Shame is “a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior“.  This one is HUGE for me.  We all do stupid things growing up, right?  Some worse than others but at some point, we need to let go of the shame.  I thought I had my first time in recovery BUT there is still some things buried deep down I have never let go of.  I actually think I wasn’t ready to deal with them until now.  I need to forgive myself and take the positive aspects of the situation and learn from them.  It may be easier said than done but I am giving it a try.

One of the toughest feelings I have to deal with is resentment.  Resentment is “bitter indignation at having been treated unfairly“.  Have I really been treated unfairly? In most cases… NO.  I didn’t know what resentment was for a long time.  There were obvious situations where I resented people but many of those cases I had been treated unfairly.  Now,  when I am talking about a situation with anger and frustration, my sponsor is quick to say this is growing into a resentment.  WHAT!?!?!   Think about the invisible score card you keep in your head of the things you have done for someone.  They do something against you and you want to automatically run down the list of things you have done for them.  Guess what, you have a resentment!  When I do things truly out of love and caring, I forget about them and the invisible list in my head goes away.  Who do you have an invisible score card on?

Feelings are emotions, they are not fact.  When we talk about them, we let them go. Well, most of us try to…. Wrap yourself in the positive feelings…

Have a blessed day!

 

Thankful Thursday: Expectations

Expectations is defined in the dictionary as “a belief someone will or should achieve something“.  I actually like the NA definition better “Expectations are premeditated resentments”.

Do you have expectations of yourself or others?  I will admit, I have lots of them.  I am working on getting rid of them because they really are the stepping stone for resentment and anger.  So, why then would I be grateful for expectations, right?  Because having them allows me to learn and grow…

imagesLet’s start with the expectations we have for ourselves.  If you are like me, they are pretty high and as a result, I seldom reach the level of perfection I expect of myself.  I know, no one is perfect BUT don’t we set those milestones for ourselves.  Thinking we can handle everything, juggling all the balls in the air – motherhood, work, life, and whatever else comes our way.  The word “NO” seldom escapes from our lips because we “expect” we will be able to everything.  Self expectations allow my inner gremlins to have a field day in my head. Expectations  of others  leaves  me  feeling  frustrated,  angry  and disappointed.  Whether it is business or in love, setting expectations whether they be realistic or not is a setup for disaster.  If  the  words  would  of,  could  of  or  should  of  are  part  of  sentence,  I know I am  in  trouble.

Whether you grew up in a house with demanding parents or would strive every day to meet someone else’s expectations,  somewhere along the way, you lost what it was like to be kind to yourself.  You became a slave to expectations and now it is time to change and be kind to YOU!

#1: Change How You Treat Yourself

I know it is easier said then done.  I’ve been there and on some days am still there.  Can’t imagine being nice to yourself – why not begin by expressing kindness to someone or something you love such as a pet (or a someone special).  Easy right?  Don’t you deserve the same treatment? Try this mantra:

May I be filled with loving-kindness. May I be held in loving-kindness. May I realize loving-kindness as my essence.

OR write one of your own.  Then practice saying it.  Start by repeating it for thirty seconds. Embrace the feelings the words invoke.  The longer you can embrace these feelings, the quicker you’ll reap the benefits.  Start and end your day with these to see what a difference in makes in your life.

#2: What You Say Limits You

Maybe on the surface, you are being nicer to yourself, but deep down the inner gremlin is judging you.   It’s true – we judge, and we label, sometimes without even realizing it. What we do to other people is the same thing we do to ourselves.

So every time you have a negative label for someone, come up with at least six different reasons that would stop the label.  It isn’t easy.  The truth is if you can be less judgmental toward other people, you can do the same for yourself.

#3: What You Say Can Belittle You

When was the last time you said “How can I be so stupid? ” or, “OMG what a screw-up! Could I not make a bigger mess of things? ” or, “Why do I do this to myself? I’m such an idiot!”  This is all about not meeting your own personal expectations and how you react.

Despite my best efforts, my inner gremlins love beating me up for every mistake, failure, or setback, real or imagined. Then a little angel voice screams, “Not being very kind to yourself, are you?”

SMACK!  The reality hits nothing is a total failure. There is always something to be positive about.  Find it in whatever the situation is.  Replace those harsh words with positive thoughts.  By doing so,  you will change those demanding expectations.

These small changes are so powerful.  They help you stop being a victim of your own expectations and allow you to  treat yourself kinder.  You realize judging other people is so closely aligned with the labels and limitations we put on ourselves.  Seeing the positives in what may appear as a failure will allow you to cut yourself some slack.

Change is hard!  Changing behaviors are challenging.  The truth is,  if I can do this, you certainly can!

It all begins with a practice taking less than a minute, six times a day showering yourself with loving-kindness.

It’s easy to start. It’s easy to do. Just repeat after me:

“May I be filled with loving-kindness. May I be held in loving-kindness. May I realize loving-kindness as my essence.”

Have a blessed day!

Battling Your Own High Expectations

“The outward freedom that we shall attain will only be in exact proportion to the inward freedom to which we may have grown at a given moment. And if this is a correct view of freedom, our chief energy must be concentrated on achieving reform from within.” ~Gandhi

If I asked you when was the last time you were kind to yourself, what would you say?  Would you even remember?  I know that there are days when I don’t remember if I was ever kind to myself.  The inner gremlins are always struggling to make you think that “being kind to yourself” it selfish.

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I am here to tell you that that is so WRONG!

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Whether you grew up in a house with demanding parents or would strive every day to meet someone else’s expectations,  somewhere along the way, you lost what it was like to be kind to yourself.  You became a slave to expectations and now it is time to change that and be kind to YOU!

#1: Change How You Treat Yourself

I know that it is easier said then done.  I’ve been there and on some days am still there.  Can’t imagine being nice to yourself – why not begin by expressing kindness to someone or something you love such as a pet (or a someone special).  Easy right?  Don’t you deserve the same treatment? Try this mantra:

May I be filled with loving-kindness. May I be held in loving-kindness. May I realize loving-kindness as my essence.

OR write one of your own.  Then practice saying it.  Start by repeating it for thirty seconds. Embrace the feelings that the words invoke.  The longer that you can embrace these feelings, the quicker you’ll reap the benefits.  Start and end your day with these to see what a difference in makes in your life.

#2: What You Say Limits You

Maybe on the surface, you are being nicer to yourself, but deep down that inner gremlin is judging you.   It’s true – we judge, and we label, sometimes without even realizing it. What we do to other people is the same thing we do to ourselves.

So every time you have a negative label for someone, come up with at least six different reasons that would stop that label.  It isn’t easy.  The truth is if you can be less judgmental toward other people, you can do the same for yourself.

#3: What You Say Can Belittle You

When was the last time you said “How could I be so stupid? ” or, “OMG what a screw-up! Could I not make a bigger mess of things? ” or, “Why do I do this to myself? I’m such an idiot!”  This is all about not meeting your own personal expectations and how you react.

Despite my best efforts, my inner gremlins love beating me up for every mistake, failure, or setback, real or imagined. Then a little angel voice screams, “Not being very kind to yourself, are you?”

SMACK!  The reality hits that nothing is a total failure. There is always something to be positive about.  Find it in whatever the situation is.  Replace those harsh words with positive thoughts.  By doing so,  you will change those demanding expectations.

These small changes are so powerful.  They help you stop being a victim of your own expectations and allow you to  treat yourself kinder.  You realize that judging other people is so closely aligned with the labels and limitations we put on ourselves.  Seeing the positives in what may appear as a failure will allow you to cut yourself some slack.

Change is hard!  Changing behaviors are challenging.  The truth is,  if I can do this, you certainly can!

It all begins with a practice taking less than a minute, six times a day showering yourself with loving-kindness.

It’s easy to start. It’s easy to do. Just repeat after me:

“May I be filled with loving-kindness. May I be held in loving-kindness. May I realize loving-kindness as my essence.”

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day

 

No More Shame

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I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.            Isaiah 61:10 NIV

Debbie’s paternal grandparents had both a housekeeper and groundskeeper who lived in their basement apartment. Nina and Silas were like part of the family and had lived with the grandparents for as long as Debbie could remember. On many occasions, when Debbie’s parents and grandparents went out to dinner, she and her older sister were left in the care of Silas and Nina. The girls’ parents had no idea that Silas was molesting their precious children time and time again.

From the time Debbie and Beth were three and six years old, until they were ten and thirteen, Silas fondled and sexually molested the girls in the basement apartment lit only by the black-and-white television blinking in the background. While Silas ravaged Debbie’s body, her sister held her face in her hands and told her stories. Together, the girls escaped to a land faraway while the worse nightmare imaginable was played out before them.

Silas warned them, “If you tell anybody, I’ll hurt your brother.” So the girls suffered in silence.

When Debbie was ten years old, she and her sister spent the night with her maternal grandmother while her parents were away on a business trip. The elderly grandmother paused at the opened door to watch her precious granddaughters kneeling beside their bed. With arms wrapped around each other they began to say their prayers.

“Dear God, thank You for Mommy and Daddy and Kevin, and Grandma and Grandpa Wilson, and Grandma James. We pray You will protect us from Silas and keep him from hurting us and touching us in private places. We pray…”

The stunned grandmother clutched her heart, rushed to embrace the girls, and sobbed uncontrollably. The rest was a blur.

A few hours later, in the wee hours of the morning, their parents came back from their business trip…two days early. The girls could hear their parents crying in the next room, but nothing was ever mentioned about Silas. All they knew was that the next time they went to Grandma and Grandpa Wilson’s house, Silas and Nina were gone.

Years passed with little mention of the years of abuse by Silas. Like old war veterans who never mention the horrors of battle, the girls never mentioned the molestation again. However, the chronic pain of the past was an undercurrent to their total existence. Debbie felt dirty, used, and cheap. She felt like damaged goods.

Debbie accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior when she was a small child, but she had a difficult time believing Jesus could accept her. She didn’t see herself as a precious holy child of God dressed in robes of righteousness. She saw herself as a dirty orphan dressed in tattered rags. Then one day, she went to a Bible study and heard for the first time about her identity as a child of God.

“I didn’t feel like a holy child of God, but that’s who the Bible said I was,” she explained. “I read and reread that list of who I am in Christ. The more I studied about my new identity and the truth that sets us free, the more I began to accept it as true. I began to realize it was Satan who held up the picture of Silas and what he had done to me to remind me of who he wanted me to believe I was.

“But that was a lie. God took the truth and massaged it into my broken heart like a healing ointment. He placed a crown of beauty on my head and washed away the ashes. He gave me the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and dressed me in a garment of praise instead of despair. No longer was my identity determined by what happened to me as a child. My identity is determined by what happened in me through Jesus Christ.”

Debbie accepted her new identity. It was there all along, like a cloak waiting to be placed on the princess’ regal shoulders. She received the robe of righteousness and now walks with the confidence of a dearly loved child of the King.

This devotion may have been difficult for you to read, but it is very important.  Have you accepted your new identity? Are you ready to start believing the truth? Are you ready to put off the ragged robes of shame and put on the robe of righteousness that Jesus purchased just for you with His own life? He’s holding it open for you right now. Slip it on. It’s just your size.

Thank you Sharon Jaynes

Shopping on a Budget

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Have you ever heard the saying “one woman’s junk is another woman’s treasure”?  Okay, so maybe I paraphrased a little but you know what I mean.

Growing up, I can’t ever remember shopping in a thrift store.  In fact, I am not even sure they were around in the 60’s and 70’s.  I remember donating items to those who were less fortunate but I don’t think I ever saw where they ended up.

As a single mom, thrift stores were a fun place to go – not just for me but also for my daughter.  We checked out rummage sales at the local churches and scoured the thrift stores for goodies.  From toys to books to kitchen stuff to clothes.  We always found some treasures that would make the day a success.

There are two sides to all thrift stores in our area – you get to help out a charity by donating and then again when buying from them.  You get to make a difference in the lives of others.  When donating items you no longer need or want the charity is then able to sell it to someone who needs or wants the item.  The money raised helps others in need with food or other essentials.  A win-win for everyone.

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Let’s bust some of those myths about thrift store shopping:

Myth #1: It is shameful to go into a thrift shop.

Remember that you are giving to a great cause and getting yourself a bargain at the same time.  The items you are getting aren’t dirty but have been carefully sorted. Give your items a quick wash once you’ve bought them and they will be just like new. I even think for a period of time, this was the preferred way to shop.

Myth #2:  Sometimes thrift shops can be considered ‘expensive’

I know you think that is kind of crazy, right?  The truth is that everything is not “cheap” – a dollar or two.  Things will be cheaper then buying brand new but there are those occasions when they could be a little bit more expensive than what you expected.  Thrift store employees know value too.  Their goal is to offer items at a reasonable price while helping raising funds for their cause.  So, that designer dress may be cheaper than a brand new one but it is not going to be given away for just a few dollars.

Myth #3:  You should just stick to one thrift store

The truth is that frequenting the same thrift store on a regular basis is good.  Don’t limit yourself to just one – find your favorites and stick with them.  How else are you going to bag yourself some amazing bargains?  Check in once a week to see what they have new.  My mom and I spent the day a few weeks ago exploring some new thrift stores.  We met some great people, got some bargins and will definitely head back to a few of them.

Myth #4: You can’t try the stuff on!

Yes, you can actually try the clothes on in most of them. Don’t see a dressing room, ask if they have one.  If they don’t, ask what their return policy is so you can try it on at home and return it if it doesn’t fit.  Don’t be afraid to ask!

Just like shopping at the mall. the most important part of all this is to have fun. Thrift store shopping isn’t grimy or dirty.  It’s a fun thing to do while grabbing bargains at the same time.

Remember to keep to your budget.  It can be just as easy over-shopping in a thrift store as it is at the mall.  The idea is to keep within a budget, when the purse strings are a little tight. Don’t go overboard otherwise you’ll defeat the objective of thrift shopping!

Let me know what you think about second hand shopping. Share some of your favorite places with us

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!