Tag Archives: healing

I (don’t) deserve to die

I did something the other day. Something simple. Something small. Something quite insignificant.

But somehow my internal critic was certain that what I had done was horrific – and that it mattered greatly. And the shame rose up in me like a tsunami, threatening to wash me out to sea.

Whereas my rational mind knew that what had happened was no big deal, my irrational self was taking over. And this irrational self had determined that what I had done was so bad – that I was so bad – that I deserved to die.

Now, I know I didn’t deserve to die. I don’t believe in the death penalty, and even if I did, I know that no jury would condemn me to death for the little mistake I had made. But even though I could tell you this – even while I was overcome with shame and horror – my emotions were taking over.

I truly felt like I deserved to die.

I know these are old thought patterns that are, perhaps, deeply engrained in my psyche. I describe my mind – at times – like a luge path. Once I get caught in the course, once the mind games are started, it’s nearly impossible not to rush down, on the icy path at full speed, to the foregone conclusion.

That I am bad. That I deserve to die.

I was raised in a religious cult where I was taught about my inherent guilt and sin and shame. I was taught that I was never good enough. The things that happened to me certainly convinced me of that. I learned – I learned well – that most things were my fault and that I was sinful and bad. Or at least that if I took most things on as my responsibility and fault, I might be able to control what was happening around me. I could repent. I could change my ways. I could try harder to do better. And better still.

Luckily I now know that these thought patterns are lies. Luckily I now have the wherewithal to perhaps not make them go away in the moment, but to remember that they will pass. If I can just keep breathing and reminding myself that although they feel true they aren’t true, they will pass.

Years ago I learned a wonderful saying, “Feelings aren’t facts.” I can be awash with feelings, and they can be based on mistruths. I can be overcome with shame and guilt and horror, and that can be based on lies.

I did my best to love myself through this shame-fest. I did my best to acknowledge my feelings, while I acknowledged they were crazy. And crazy making,

Because you know what, I certainly don’t deserve to die.

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

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Is it okay to expect someone to do what you’d do?

Someone I know is letting me down.

They’re not acting how I want them to act. They’re not doing what I want them to do. They’re not being how I want them to be.

And I’m pissed.

I’ve learned that “expectations are premeditated resentments.” If I expect you to be a certain way, I’m setting myself up to resent you when you’re not that way.

Even if it’s the “right” and “best” way to be. Even if it’s what I’d do if I were them.

Is it okay to expect someone to do what you’d do? To act like you’d act? To be like you’d be?

I’ve decided, for now, that it’s okay to expect it, but that by expecting it, I’m potentially setting myself up to be disappointed. And resentful. And even hurt.

So maybe it’s okay to expect it, or to at least want it. But I’ve learned to be realistic. If this person hasn’t acted like I would act in a certain situation before, what would make me think they’d do that now? No matter how much I want them to? Nothing really. Not if I’m realistic.

So probably best is to admit that I want it but not to expect it. I can wish for this person to be the way I want them to be – to be the way I’d be – and then find a way to be happy with whatever I get or go somewhere else for what I really want and need. “Don’t go to a hardware store for oranges,” I also learned long, long ago.

Expecting someone to be anything is setting myself up to be let down. And honestly, I’ve been let down enough.

It’s a fine line, I think. I’ve had to work hard to be okay with wanting what I want. I’ve had to work hard at realizing I’m allowed to have wants and needs. And I’ve had to work hard to learn that just because I want it doesn’t always mean that others can and will give it to me, and that I therefore have to find it for myself.

Bottom line, I think it’s okay to have standards and things I want, and I think I’m most okay when I don’t need anyone to hit any marks and act in any specific ways. When I just let them be, and I just be.

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

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A letter from my father

I’ve written many times about how tough my relationship with Danny, my father, can be. I’ve told stories of his anger and distance when I was young, and of his anger and distance now that I’m an adult.

I wonder what he truly feels. I used to never know that he actually loved me. I used to never know that I was loved.

And then I find this letter that he sent to me the Thanksgiving after my first child was born (with a packet of letters I had written to him over the years):

    Daughty-san

    I thought you’d like to see these letters, both for the sweetness in them and for the insight they give you into a young girl’s mind. I know that you were once one (and still, in many ways, are), but that’s primarily the past, and sooner than you can imagine or believe, your child will be older. If only you had dated them.

    One recurrent theme in all of the letters is your fear that I will tease you for showing your love… I guess my own fear of showing emotion and the consequent vulnerability is stronger than I realize… But then again, as I pointed out to you recently, if I were not secure in my love for you, and yours for me, I would not feel free to play with it – hence the salutation.

    Many years ago, you asked me if I had to do it over again would I have children. What a ballsy question that was from a young and, as you can see from these letters, insecure girl. Ballsy questions deserve honest answers, and then, at least, I did not tease you. I didn’t know, I told you, because I had never not had children. I was still a child when you kids were born. However, I pointed out, no one had ever offered me anything that I would have traded you in for. You were then and remain now, just about the best thing that ever happened to me – although now there is your child to give you competition.

    I may not be much for ritual, or tradition, or holidays, but you should know that, this being thanksgiving, you are what I give thanks for.

    Lots of love and thanks,
    Daddy-san

    a.k.a Grumpa, King Kong, and D. D. of the D. (Daring Dan of the Deep)

I am always amazed when I realize his love for me. I am always validated when he realizes he doesn’t often show it. He calls out my insecurity, and doesn’t get that his teasing probably helped that blossom and grow. It’s all very interesting.

I am thankful for these letters, and I’m thankful for this love. I hold it dear, especially now that it’s so tough for him and for us.

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

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