Family: Breaking Free

Breaking free from family expectations is one of the most difficult challenges in my lifetime.

I grew up in a “dysfunctional” family…whatever that means.  I understand that there is no real perfect family.  What are the parameters?  Each of us does the best we can in the role we play in Family and in Life.

That includes parents.  That includes me.  That includes children.

Today, I still feel stress trying to please and play the part I played to survive emotionally growing up.

My father expects total respect just because he’s my father.  In his mind and perception, that’s a given.  But my feelings and expectations are not acknowledged by him. 

And so it goes with other members of Family.

There is no handbook with instructions on how to deal with these emotionally charged relationships.  I’ve tried everything I know up to now:

  • let things pass to avoid conflict. Doesn’t work (for me) 
  • Write a letter to them expressing how I feel.  Doesn’t work
  • Talk things over.  Doesn’t work.

Family is set in its ways.  What do I do?  How do I act?  From all the inner work and healing I’ve done (journaling, YOU University personal development program, studying A Course in Miracles principles, re-parenting myself) and continue practicing, I understand the responsibility I have to myself to protect my boundaries, or they will be stepped on over and over.  Unfortunately, Family is not accustomed to this new behavior.   

It’s hard for me.  It’s confusing.  I ask myself:  is this loving?  Is this the “right “thing to do?  I don’t want to hurt anybody….including Me.

Well, I don’t have the “right” answers.  All I know is that it’s time to acknowledge my place in life and break free from the old, toxic patterns of Family.  I carry these patterns within myself also, since I’m a part of Family too.  I am aware of these patterns and am learning to choose responses that are healthier and more loving for me. 

Published in: on September 7, 2011 at 12:52 am  Comments (2)  

Rewiring My Brain….huh?

I was very excited when I first heard that we can rewire our brain.  I said…Huh???  I wanna know more about this.  Of course, I went on the internet and did my research. 

I also saw the movie WHAT THE BLEEP DO WE KNOW a few years ago and found info there also.  My curiousity was….how do I do this?  It’s not rocket science.  God created us so we can be all we can be and do all things through Him.  So, I believe this is doable. 

I’ve wanted to feel “awake” for the longest time.  Through my life I’ve sensed I was missing out on something right here and now.  My mind has a strong tendency to see life as black and white, to plan ahead, to rumiate on the past.  Some of you probably know what I’m talking about.  Of course, these thought habits lead me straight into anxiety, fear, depression. 

Much valuable knowledge and a new way of experiencing my life (and myself) have resulted from the rewiring-of-brain research.  Here are some of the practices that I’ve started and the results I’m experiencing:

–being mindful of what I’m doing at the moment:  more at peace;

–journaling my feelings:  more in touch with who I am and what my thought patterns are;

–being part of a very supportive friend-in-deed group (with the YOU University life coaches:  I’ve always had close friends but this is more than that.  We are on the same wave length and I get honest and loving feedback and support;

–meditation:  peace of mind and more clarity (I don’t focus too well so this helps)

–practicing gratitude, non-judgement of myself and others(this is a very hard one):  this means I’m gentler and happier;

–aware that I co-create my life, so I practice a feel-good attitude and do my best to act as if I were being that which I want to be:  I find my attitude is better and my perception of my world is also brighter. 

My learning and research is anything but over.  This is an on-going process and journey.  As I open myself up to Truth and the evolution of my Self, I feel I become more harmonious and in contact with Life as it is. 

Published in: on July 24, 2011 at 2:25 pm  Comments (1)  

My Life Inventory

Learning to love myself and honor my feelings and intuition is where I’m at on my life journey today.  I’ve lived most of my life outside of myself, if that makes any sense.  Sort of connected to what’s outside, responding to everyone’s mood and what I thought they expected from me.  Yet disconnected from Me.

At the age of 15 I started a search for meaning to my life.  By that age I was already experiencing depression and anxiety, without knowing anything about it.  I had absolutely no idea what I was feeling or why.  I just knew it felt shitty.

I started reading books on self-help and positive thoughts.  I went to therapists.  I started looking for a Higher Purpose or God.  I looked outside of myself in religion, friends, lovers, but none of that ever brought me lasting inner well-being, you know, that feeling of ok-ness and joy.

Through the years I’ve “been there, done that”, as the saying goes.  I’ve been married 3 times, and am single right now (and I like it), I have 3 wonderful children, which I raised as best I could considering my emotional limitations; I’ve worked in different scenarios, lived in two different countries, Dominican Republic and USA, have taken risks and moved beyond my comfort zones.  I spent 20 years actively in organized religion, which did bring certain clarity and inner peace to me.  Yet, I still felt there was something “missing” inside of me.  I still felt “disconnected”.

Early last year (2010) I went through YOU University life coach training program.  What an emotional experience it was.  Through the long months of inner work and self discovery, I realized I had been carrying so much shame and guilt, both triggers for depression and anxiety.  A lot was brought to light and dealt with.  Also about a year ago I read on the internet about dysthymia….which is chronic mild depression.  AHA.  That’s what I’ve experienced since age 15.  I diagnosed myself….which was confirmed by a mental health professional.  I also have discovered that much of my family experience depression, including both of my parents.  Ok.  I’m getting closer.  You see, each one of these discoveries and life experiences has guided me to better self-knowledge.  I admire myself because I never give up, and I’m always wanting to be more of myself.

Today, I am grateful to Life.  I’m moving closer with each day to feeling more alive, to releasing the stuck energy in my body that’s ages old.  Now I am practicing meditation, reiki, mindfulness, which is being in the present moment and engaged in the activity at hand, I also practice the A Course in Miracles principles which are very freeing and feel real!  I journal and continue using the tools I learned in YOU University to manage my feelings and release them.  Loving and caring for myself is becoming a reality for me, once and for all.  It’s quite a journey.

Published in: on June 26, 2011 at 2:31 pm  Comments (1)  

Too Responsible for My Own Good

I belong to an amazing group of YOU University coaches and coaches in training.  One of the wonderful and unique traits of this group is we have never met in person, we live in different parts of the world, Australia, US, England, and yet we feel so close to each other.  We share our struggles and joys and virtually support each other either by phone (we do weekly group coaching calls) or daily through an online chat site.

Teri, one of the coaches in training, is discovering and working through many old, toxic behaviors she’s held on to throughout her life.  As I read her story of her present challenges it brought up some of my own old stuff.

So, here it is.  I have always felt responsible for other people’s well-being and happiness.  I’m talking about other adults.  I feel responsible for other people being ok.  I forget in the proces about me.  And, from reading Teri’s experiences, I realize this is what I’ve done most of my life in my meaningful relationships.

You know where it started?  When I was a little girl.  My parents’ relationship was emotionally violent and very stressful.  They would be on each others case for any little issue.  Where did I come into the picture? Well, my mother was very controlling, manipulative and strong-willed.  My father was weak and complacent to all her wants.  From a very small age I felt protective of my father and that I had to defend him against my mother…..this became an ingrained behavior in me.

I also remembered how proud I felt being so “responsible” at a young age.  I would boast about it.  By the age of 20, I was married and raising my children when I should have been having fun and finding out what I wanted to do with my life.  I fell right into the “responsible” pattern….because it was all I knew.  So, I became too responsible for my own good.

Through this new awareness, I am consciously practicing returning the responsibility of their lives to the people in my life today.  It’s not easy, because this feeling of responsibility is accompanied with guilt…..somehow I also believed that I was guilty of my parents’ fighting.

I am grateful to Teri, Maia, YOU University coaching group, journaling, and to myself for this new awareness and for moving forward in my self-discovery and healing.


Published in: on June 18, 2011 at 7:12 pm  Comments (1)  

Love Letters to Express What I Am Really Feeling

During the months I went through the YOU University Life Coach training program, it was a required assignment to write love letters to the people or groups that I perceived as having caused me pain in my past.  At first, and for quite a while, I didn’t want to do them.   As I accessed my feelings of anger and resentment, I just didn’t want to write them.  Ugghhh, just let me be with my feelings.  I don’t want to write about love or that I understand.

Yet, because of the loving insistence from my coach and mentor, Maia Berens to write them, I did. 

Now as a graduate of YOU University, I look back at those months of training and inner work, and I understand how therapeutic and healing this tool was and still is.   A love letter actually helps get my stuck feelings out, especially anger, hate, frustration, fear, sadness, until it’s all on paper.  There’s a certain magic to writing them down that works better than just leaving the feelings in.

I wrote love letters (and still do when I need to) to my parents, my ex, my self, my children, a friend, the corporate world, religion, even to wealthy people.  To whomever or whatever I was feeling angry towards.

In YOU University, I learned:

  • Most communication problems stem from only telling part of the truth, and not expressing the complete truth.
  • Underneath all anger and hurt is a feeling of love and a willingness to connect and be close.
  • Failure to feel and express all my feelings prevents me from tapping into the love that’s in my heart. 

Let me share the steps or levels of a Love Letter:

  1. Anger, Blame and Resentment
  2. Hurt, Sadness and Disappointment
  3. Fear and Insecurity
  4. Guilt, Remorse and Regret
  5. Love, Understanding, Forgiveness and Desire

Of course, the purpose of writing a love letter is for myself.  I can be as honest, open, nasty, angry as I am truly feeling.  The recipient of my feelings will never get or read this letter.  This is just for me.  I’m working with myself.  It’s about me!!!  This gave me permission to feel.  What I never got to do growing up, I’m doing now.  Feeling my feelings.  No judgements.  No whys either.  Oh, and the love part needs to be longer than the other parts of the letter.

What totally opened my understanding of how helpful a love letter is was when Maia reminded me during a call that underneath the anger and hurt, there is a feeling of love!  But first I need to express what I’m feeling in order to reach the love.  That was an aha moment for me. 

As time goes on, I understand that love letters aid me in forgiving and changing my perception.   


Published in: on June 12, 2011 at 4:48 pm  Comments (2)