Monthly Archives: June 2016

Having belonged to a cult comes in handy…

“I just played anomia with my friends and ‘cult leader’ came up and I was the only one who knew one…things come in useful in strange ways.”

This was the text I got from my daughter.

Anomia is a game where you have to be able to name things that belong in a certain category, like “cult leader.” My daughter was the only one of her college friends who could. As I posted in various places, #proudmama. I’ve taught her well.

Having belonged to a cult comes in handy in weird ways. Like when you’re playing anomia. Or when you want to understand why someone is so fervent and ardent about anything. As I’ve said many times, knowing you have the “truth” is intoxicating.

I’m proud that I’ve (at least mostly) come to terms with my past. It was what it was; it is what it is. I may always quote page 449 of the (old) AA Big Book – “acceptance is the answer to all my problems.” Things may still haunt me. They always may. But I can even joke about it, and I know it all helped make me who I am.

I’m proud that I’ve told my daughter and she can joke about it too. It could be weird for her. Maybe it was when she first found out – when we were driving up to New York City for the weekend and she said, “So, tell me about your childhood,” and I did.

Sometimes when I tell my story – my whole story – it kind of sucks the air out of the room. It demands attention. I must seem like I demand attention. But it just is what it is.

An after-effect of trauma is the desire to shout it from the mountaintops and proclaim it loudly so that everyone knows and understands, while also hiding in shame so that no one should know. I think that proof of healing and of just moving on and being more whole is somewhere in the middle – it just was as it was and is as it is, and you just are who you are.

And to be able to laugh about it, and proudly post it, when your daughter texts you that she was the only one who knew the name of a cult leader.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

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“No one would ever think that you are a rule follower”

“No one would ever think that you are a rule follower.”

That’s what my new friend said to me.

We were out for coffee, getting to know each other. I’m not even sure how the topic came up. I had just told her that, deep down, I was a rule follower. “From just meeting you, from the outside, no one would ever know,” she answered.

I loved that.

I am, or at least can be, such a rule follower. Wondering what the “right” thing to do is, or the “right” way to be. Or the “right” way to address the problem or handle the challenge. “Give me the rule book, the step-by-step process, the yeses and no’s along the way, and I’ll nail it,” I used to say to my therapist. “Just tell me what I’m supposed to do, and I’ll do it.”

I hated when there weren’t specific answers. I hated when there weren’t right things I could do to make it all go away.

And, at the same time, having grown up such a rule follower, with such strict rules, a huge part of me loves to say *&%$# it to the rules. I love to be any form of alternative culture and practice that I can be. I probably do it in very “normal” ways, but I work very hard to not be normal. To not always fit in. To be different from the mainstream. It’s as if I’m still wearing my “Why Be Normal?” button.

I would wear it if I could find one.

As much as I want everyone to like me, I love questioning and challenging and pushing against the norm. I love standing out – being a bit funky and irreverent and different. I love stopping myself from following the rules and encouraging myself to try a less beaten path.

Maybe I’m making up for the stringent rules that were imposed on me when I was young. And the stringent rules I imposed on myself. Maybe I’m embracing the anti-establishment nature I inherited from my father. Maybe it’s more fun to not follow all the rules.

I just know that “No one would ever guess that you are a rule follower” was one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

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Humbled by yoga yet again

Another yoga practice. Another instructor easing us into wide angle pose. Another chance to be humbled. And humbled again.

I’ve been practicing yoga for years and years. I love the strength poses. I shine in those. I can hold myself up in handstand, crow pose, and side plank. I lift weights – I have for decades – and I have the upper body strength to show for it.

But flexibility? Not so much.

Don’t get me wrong. My ability to touch my toes or bind in a pose is way beyond what it used to be or what I could do if I didn’t practice yoga. But I’m built tight. Strong maybe, but tight.

And wide angle pose always humbles me.

I stretch my legs open wide – okay wide for me. I lean forward, hinging at my hips…and I laugh as the instructor suggests putting a block beneath our stomachs to lean into. Even with the block standing to its highest, my stomach is no where near the block to rest on it.

A good dash of humility is always good for me. As well as a good dash of acceptance. As I leaned somewhat towards the floor in front of me, I was struck, once again, with how much life is all about acceptance. At least if I want ease. And calm. And joy. And fun.

Acceptance that I’ll probably never get my stomach to the floor in wide angle pose. Or even to a block. Acceptance that my flexibility is what it is and is what it will be.

Acceptance of my situation, the people around me, the challenges and joys in my daily life. After all these years I’ve learned, and I keep remembering, that fighting against something only makes it worse. Refusing to accept life as it is, and people as they are, sets me up to feel frustrated and let down. It focuses my attention on what’s not going right, not as I want it, not as it “should” be.

And accepting – the frustrating client, the challenging family member, the time it takes for my book to be a book, my inability to stretch to the ground in wide angle pose – gives me space to be at peace. And look at what is going “right.”

Like how long I can hold a handstand. With humility.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

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