Dish Wash

Soap suds spilling 
Inside my gloved hands
All over the kitchen floor
Will these dishes be clean
As clean as the kitchen floor
As clean as the dining table
As clean as my heart is able. 

Off with my rubbered hands
Hot, heated, hatred
Water scalding naked skin
A favoured dish breaks
It cuts across the bubbles
It cuts the meat of my palm
It cuts at my will, once strong

Sharp shards shift shyly
As I collect pieces of dish
The bag fills quite banally
A sigh escapes a trembled lip
I pick up and throw it out
I pick up and throw us out
I pick up and throw you out
 

Women’s March: NYC and the World

For those who wanted to march, yet weren’t able to, I marched for you, just as others before me brought forth the torch of justice for me to be here today. I am proud, as a Canadian, as an American immigrant, as a daughter of immigrants, to have been part of global history. I am incredibly grateful for all the husbands, fathers, grandpas, brothers, friends–men who unhesitatingly understood the bigger picture with great love in their giant hearts–who participated and helped to empower us all. I’m overwhelmed with love and AWE for having been surrounded by my sisters of the world, coming together in solidarity from every walk of life imaginable. I’m also grateful for my Great Comet Family, on a super challenging work day, for jumping in to help and supporting without hesitation. 
Democracy is at work! Everyone who marched felt its energy and its power, flowing like ribbons of light within our veins! Tomorrow, we continue to fight for freedom and tomorrow we put passion into action!
#womensmarch2017 #womensrightsarehumanrights #justiceforall #letsgettowork

Sleeves

My heart is a big Christmas sleeve

Of temperance and temperatures 

Arguing loves, unintentional; apparently

Missing the in-law interfacing, who knows 
Yet, still, harbouring in our long silence

No equanimous highlights thus far live

In the shimmers and shines of high life

Only hugs and awkwardness remains

Al-Anon: experiencing self-care within a community of survivors. 

There are so many stories of grief, of “just” surviving and healing out there. I say “just” because living doesn’t happen for many until recovery–it is about just surviving the day. I’ve spent most of my childhood and young adult life in some kind of survival mode and I now find myself in a compassionate community of others recovering from similar feelings. 

I’m incredibly grateful I’ve decided to attend Al-Anon meetings because even though alcoholism isn’t a disease in my family, the trauma from being raised by a narcissistic father runs eerily parallel to alcoholic survivors. Meeting after meeting reveals very similar pain, sadness, abandonment and self-flagellation: how can I fix this? How can I be different? How could I have done better? These feelings and auto-responses bear witness in friendships and romantic relationships. 

Of course, it’s none of those things. To actually know it in the heart and practice it, well, there’s the rub. The struggle and the attachments, ergo, a community to share in our humanness. I’m fortunate to want to practice hearing the wisdom of Buddhist teachings reach my heart. It could be any spiritual practice that opens the heart really. Synchronistically, these same philosophies come through in meetings as we all share stories of recovery. It’s truly amazing. “Letting go” and “let live” and “self-care”. Practice. Practice. Practice. Amazing. 

Community reminds you that you are not responsible for any of those “other people” or fixing or controlling or “making her/him see her/his destructive behaviour”; but to find forgiveness within yourself for fallibilities. In the end, being in a community of fellow survivors of childhood and adulthood trauma is healing. Also too, practicing what “safety”, “vulnerability” and “openness” can feel like to survivors who have had little to none in their lives. 

Being able to honestly communicate from the heart at three minute intervals is incredibly powerful. Listening to other human beings share their grief, pain, joy–I keep crying it’s so healing as the trauma finds it way out–finally. 

Finally. 

It’s an incredible level of self-care that I’m grateful to share. 

Peace everyone. 

My Artist’s Prayer

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My Artist’s Prayer

Practice Open-heartedness

It is “The Way”

When you feel stuck–

Feel the Fear

And do it anyway.

Practice meditation

Let your mind rest

Bring your soul forward

Breathing is best.

Trust your spirit

Help it grow,

Help it love,

Help it sing,

Notice all it brings.

Surround yourself with

Love, Peace and Joy

For Happiness is

All betwixt Alpha and Omega:

Love breaks down walls

Heals old wounds

Reveals synchronicities;

Uncovers creativities.

 

–Namaste

 

The Silent Treatment: A tale of emotional abuse.

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Image taken from voiceofthepersecuted.wordpress

What is the “silent treatment”?

For me, it was a powerful weapon my father used on my brother, my step-mother, myself and family members. A way to control or manipulate us whenever he disapproved of something we did that went against his wishes, against his correct way of living and thinking. It was to force us to face whatever horrible affrontery to his moral standards. Often times, the “silent treatment” was doled out without anyone actually understanding what my dad was so upset about. As a child, I spent more time anxiously trying to figure out what I had done “wrong”, or how to conform to some mysterious set of standards, then actually understanding whatever “life lesson” I was supposed to be learning from the silence.

My dad absolutely knew what he was doing. When I was in high school, he admitted to my step-mother one day how he could wait out my silence towards him because he was the master of it. He had all the time in the world, he said. He didn’t understand that my silence was a teenaged protest against being emotionally abused. My silence was survival against him. It was a silence of non-conformity and of the right to individuality. Nonetheless, I had learned the lesson of his game of silence.

 

The “silent treatment” is about control and power. It’s about manipulation.

How can I get someone to do what I want? How can my silent anger make someone change to a standard I’m comfortable with and in keeping with my way–the right way? How can my ego be stroked as I reign on high? How can I keep my walls up, the lights out, my heart closed off and stay in control by forcing someone to conform to me? Surely, that person knows through my silence towards them, how wrong they are! Naturally, my silent disapproval will show them that what they do is unacceptable to me! Of course, my days, weeks, months and even years of silence will illustrate how I disapprove of their ways! I’m right! They’re are wrong!

The “life lesson” I learned was that silences were punishments. When I started learning about meditation and Buddhism, silences and spirituality took on a different shape. I could identify with spiritual silences as a child growing up in the Catholic tradition. Often times, there were moments of silences during mass. I didn’t necessarily understand what to do with these moments until I asked in church. “Consider it a moment of reflection, or a moment for peace, or a moment to consider your sins.” Only once I was told that it was okay to not think about anything at all, but to enjoy the moment of mental respite. This piece of advice was actually not given by someone in the Catholic church, but by a stranger at a Presbyterian gathering.

Those hippies.

Things began to feel different for me when I encountered silence in personal relationships. I in turn, have used silence as a weapon to try and get what I want from someone else. My ex-husband was a recipient of many manipulative moments via my honed “silent treatment” skills. One day I woke up and realized what I was doing. We both had an a-ha moment actually, that our marriage had become an extension of our respective parents’ bad marriages. We were very lost as to who we were outside of reliving some other couples’ fights. There were other bigger issues that ended my marriage, but it was my first time being the emotional abuser with the “silent treatment”.

I’ve caught myself other times since my marriage of  abusing my romantic partners with silence. I’ve become more and more attune to it over the years. Silence as emotional abuse and control is not where my heart truly lies.

 

Feeling comfortable with relationship silence as much as I am with spiritual silence is new to me.

What has transitioned, is the silence used by my partners for reasons that have nothing to do with me. It’s become an emotional trigger. Immediately I go to: What did I do wrong? How can I conform? I can be good! I can change! I’m a good person! It’s been a considerable emotional threat to me to feel this new use of silence. Only recently, have I begun to understand why it’s causes such emotional distress and anxiety. It takes a bit of self-esteem and self-compassion. When I look back at the emotional abuse of silence in my life, I begin to observe a lessening of fear. I’m learning not to give in to and cling to every little moment of fearful or anxious feeling. Could someone else’s need for silences actually have nothing to do with me at all? Can I still be deserving of all the good things in life: joy, laughter and love, amidst silence?

Letting go. I’m working on this and what it means for me to recognize when I am closing my heart off. When I cling to my fears like a life preserver. I’m practicing becoming an observer of my thoughts and feelings. A witness. Becoming sensitive to my closing heart and instead, reopen my heart, leaning into these intensely disturbing emotional moments. As I lean and let go, lean and breathe, I feel a shift– a sense of freedom. Observing that feelings shift constantly. Thoughts move continuously. I’m challenged to either sink into the safety of my protective walls or knock a wall or two down instead. As Michael A. Singer writes in The Untethered Soul,

“The way out is through awareness. Stop defining the disturbed mind as a negative experience; just see if you can relax behind it. When your mind is disturbed, don’t ask, ‘What do I do about this?’ Instead ask, ‘Who am I that notices this?'”

When Passion is pummeled by Sir Narcissist

What happens when the most disappointing and controlling man in your life has been your father?

When your main male role model, as in your primary study on how men should treat women, is actually not the best example?

What happens when you’ve realized a life full of abandonment during times of great need, during times of non-judgement, during times of unconditional love, there appears an emotional cost, a tit-for-tat mentality, that only a narcissist love could afford?

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Narcissus, of Greek Mythology

What happens when it’s revealed that your father’s here-to-fore good will, doting, amusement and attention disappear once you’ve past a certain age; once you’ve stopped reflecting his image, his desires, his opinions, his “father-knows-best” conditions?

 

He disappears. Nothing upsets a classic narcissist more than his child growing up. Mimicry, adulation, and complete acquiescence giving way to maturity, individual thought, rebellion, and a forging of one’s own path, spelling disaster for the fragile ego of Sir Narcissist. The only way to control an emotionally maturing child, is for him to wash his hands of them.

I’ve actually witnessed Sir Narcissist, my father, in action with my brother’s children, with my cousin’s children, with his own friend’s children. Almost every adult family member has at one point or another, been cut out of his life. It’s never his fault. What shocking behaviour? Not to a narcissist.

Interestingly, the success of my father’s second marriage is due to a rigorous adherence to his advice by my stepmother. She has made a lot of money listening to his advice, I should add.

Is she happy?

The best piece of advice my father gave was to give up what made me passionate about living a creative life, and to drift into a practical role of making money and surviving, independent of anyone.  No, not the best piece of advice for me personally to hear time and time again. It was in his opinion, the best piece of advice he could give.

I’ve spent the past couple of years seriously thinking about how to “un-hear” this “fatherly” advice.  Recently, I’ve become tired of hearing echoes of his voice inside my brain, reminding me how impractical my life has been. The truth is that any decision I made regarding my life that didn’t follow his strict advice, was a bad decision and impractical. At what point does the crush of spirit, the repeated pummeling out of joyful, creative existence by a parental hand, stop hurting or stop influencing my future?

Mayhap never.  Not in a complete way.

What has helped me tremendously is understanding the kind of man my father was to me and discovering the community of my choosing that has done its utmost to support me and show me another way of living. Recently, I’ve found, through the greatest support of those closest to me, a way to rise up and find a passionate connection, a creative pursuit in the art of activism. I’ve found a way to make the most delicious lemonade out of the truck full of lemons.

It’s summer time. When else is the best time to drink lemonade?