Heal old hurts to build close friendships

Heal old hurts to build close friendships

I had a difficult morning this morning. Business stress. Nothing major but I felt like I was punched in the gut. My motivation and zest were stripped out from under me. Honestly, it doesn’t take an earthquake to rattle me. I get rattled pretty easily, but then again I think others are the same way too.

Luckily I had a lunch run planned! I’ve honestly never done a lunch run before. Mainly because I do not have a shower at my office and well, I don’t think my clients would appreciate seeing me after a run ;) But today since I had a packed morning scheduled, I didn’t need to go back to the office but could instead, go home shower and get on the laptop!

Anyways, back to feeling crappy. I felt pretty crappy and therefore was not productive in the morning in between sessions (as I said when I’m rattled I sulk). I knew my run would help me to reset though so I was looking forward to seeing how that would help.

What I want to talk to you about today though, isn’t my crappy morning, but rather the magical thing that happened on my lunch run and it has to do with trusting.

Some people like running because they like running, but I like running because of the relationships that are developed in the woods.

As I was running with my friend (well I think we were walking up a hill at this point) he asked me a personal question that is a harmless question, but since it’s an area I struggle with (unbeknownst to him) it wasn’t something I could answer easily. I quickly assessed the situation and tried to figure out how to answer this question as he was expecting a sort of answer that I couldn’t really give due to my struggle. I decided to just be honest. Not go into crazy detail or spill all my problems, but just share that my advice/perception/experience in that matter is difficult to give because of the particular struggle that I have.

It was a bit scary to share because there are of course fears about where that information goes once it leaves my mouth, but I decided to move past my insecurity and take a risk and trust in my friend.

Not to my surprise my vulnerability in this matter allowed him to also be vulnerable as well and I was able to be the supportive friend that I enjoy being and believe that we both benefited from the conversation because we were able to just be open an honest without any fear of judgement.

Why am I sharing this story with you? Good question.

I’m sharing this story, because if we want to connect on a deeper level with others, we must be vulnerable. If we want others to open up to us, we must be vulnerable. In order to be vulnerable we must face our insecurities and our fears about ourselves. We must takes risks and trust in others.

Of course I know it’s easier said than done. If you have had betrayals happen to you, then it makes it even harder to trust others and makes you put a wall up around you to protect yourself from ever being vulnerable. If you’ve constantly had negative interpersonal relationships throughout your life, starting with your family, then it’s even harder to do this. I feel for my clients because of these experiences that they’ve had, they are missing out on these wonderful connections that they could be having with others, and those connections, for me at least, are essential in a life worth living. I want everyone to be able to have these connections in life, but understand that old hurts must be healed to create a foundation for these friendships to build.

My clients sometimes feel that the hurt is too great, that they will forever not trust others, that they will forever wear armor to protect their insecurities. It’s easier to just write off connection rather than get hurt again, right?

This is one of the many reasons why I find it so important to heal from old hurts. These old hurts can take away some of the most beautiful moments of our life. You might not think that my run today with my friend held a beautiful moment, and that’s fine, our values might be a bit different, or maybe the concept is so foreign to you because it has never happened and can’t possibly imagine how awesome those moments really are. Either way, I believe that everyone has the capacity to heal, so that they can learn to trust others and connect with others in a way that feels safe and meaningful. Because in the end, when we can truly just be ourselves, without a shield, and have someone else just accept that, without judgement, is what true friendship is all about.

How to Love again after a difficult break-up

How to Love again after a difficult break-up

So you’ve finally ended the unhealthy relationship you’ve been in and gone through all the ups and downs. You’re broken up or divorced and ready to move on with your life and be happy again.

Congratulations! The hard work is over! Or wait, is it?

You might be finding that you’re ready to move forward, but you’re struggling with letting someone in.

Or you’ve found a great person, but can’t get too close because what if he/she hurts you again.

Will you just be used again?

Will this person actually LOVE me? for ME? Why would anyone do that?

What if this doesn’t work out. Can I handle this ALL over again?

Why can’t I allow myself to just be happy?

OK, I think you get the point. If any of this resonates, keep reading!

Break-ups and divorces are traumatic. Deep hurts have occurred and it likely wasn’t a single event trauma, but ongoing trauma that happens over MONTHS and YEARS. As the relationship resolved you may have been cheated on, lied to, felt not good enough over and over and over again and you come out of the experience like you’ve been hit by a truck, run down, deflated, and defeated. It’s a lot to pick yourself back up again.

So the fact that you’ve entered the dating world again or are considering and ready to do so, first give yourself some credit!

OK now that you’ve given yourself some credit here are two useful tools that you an put in your tool kit so you can being your journey toward love and healthy relationships!

First of all, validate the protector within you.

There is a damn good reason why you aren’t accepting compliments, aren’t feeling good enough, feeling emotionally cut off, distant and fearful. Part of you is saying “We aren’t gonna let this SHIT happen again! NO WAY!” That part of you is feeling a bit sick of feeling like crap so it’s doing its job.

Lets pull out that compassion piece and instead of beating yourself up for feeling like this or behaving a certain way, lets say….

OH hey, I see you protector, you’re just doing your job!!! Thanks for doing you’re job, you have gotten me through so much, but you know what, I got this, I can handle this shit. I don’t want to get hurt again either, but guess what if I do get hurt again I can handle it!

Protector: But can you handle it??? SHE/HE can’t handle it ::points to small child balled up in the corner::

OH Look! who is hurting? Another part of myself…. a younger part of myself… what’s going on with him or her!?

At this point generalizing in a blog post gets a little difficult, so try and stick with me here, but the child is hurting, and if you’re reading it you may know why, you may not, therapy can help – either way we can still move forward.

We have a deeper reason as to why you have a protector… there is a part of yourself that needs love, support and guidance. Respond internally as you would a small child. Offer empathy, support and love. This is why we can’t beat ourselves up, because there is a part of ourselves that is suffering and needs love, no judgement.

OK number 2 – Practice calming skills!

This might sound lame or annoying but after the trauma of a break up that usually goes on for months or even years, you’re body and mind have been on high alert. Imagine being on the verge of getting in a car crash 24/7. Sounds horrible right? That moment of “OMG that guy almost hit me” but you’re feeling that ALL the time? Well, my friends, that’s a comparison to what you’ve just gone though and you need to get your body to learn how to let go and relax again and stop gripping the wheel!

I have an awesome relaxation video you can watch here. And hopefully there will be more of those to come, but you tube is a wonderful place.

Take a walk outside and BE with nature, relax in nature.

Take a bath and sink into the water.

Do whatever you need to do to actually CALM

Note: TV/scrolling FB/etc. doesn’t count. Take a minute to write down the difference between CALM and SHUT DOWN if you’re struggling with understanding what is calming and what counts. This should help you to make determinations.

Hopefully that is helpful in getting your healing journey started. Often support is needed through these difficult times, both by friends and professionally by a therapist. I urge you to find a therapist that understands the dynamics of trauma rooted in these issues so that you don’t spend the rest of your life longing for connecting, but your brain and body never allowing for it.

Best of luck to you!! Questions? Comment below and I will respond or possibly write another blog on it!

Do I Honor a Dishonorable Mother on Mother's Day?

Do I Honor a Dishonorable Mother on Mother’s Day?

Might sound harsh, but not all mothers need to be honored on Mother’s Day. Many of the clients I work with have had mothers that were emotionally neglectful or abusive. Often times, the manipulation and mind games don’t get easier into adulthood, especially if you’ve continued to have a relationship with mom either out of need (she does babysit after all) or out of fear (my family will judge or disown me), or out of guilt (she is my MOM).

I’m writing this post to give you permission to change this unhealthy dynamic.

Sometimes you might say to yourself “mom my did the best she could” but as you look into your child’s eye (or any child for that matter), you also know that you couldn’t imagine treating your little one the way your mother treated you.

You know that no matter what you do, your mother will never be satisfied and mitigate your accomplishments.

If something horrible happened to you, it was obviously your fault for allowing it to happen….

The only time you hear praise from your mother is when she brags about you to her friends and usually shares the “sacrifices” she made that resulted in your accomplishments. Everyone thinks your mom is great (she is about image after all). But you know her true colors. The lack of love and support, the judgement and blame, the chronic feelings of being not seen and unimportant. You can’t tell anyone either – no one would believe you.

Particularly for my clients that fall into this or like categories, holiday’s can be stressful, especially Mother’s Day. You don’t feel mom deserves anything, and you know whatever you do won’t be good enough anyways. You could just not celebrate and spend time with your own family (if you have one or alone or with your friends if you don’t have one), but that would be seen as selfish and everyone will think I’m a horrible person. It’s a pretty tough space to be in.

Working through the deep issues takes a lot of work in therapy and can be a real tough road, but my clients do find that not just the every day stress, but days like Mother’s Day can becomes manageable and maybe even enjoyable! If you’re not there yet, I’ll offer some tips that might be helpful in the meantime, but I invite you to consider doing the work to heal these emotional wounds, because they are not healed by time.

1. Do only what feels authentic to you – OK. I know I’m hitting you with a tough one off the bat. If you want to see mom face to face, what is the time limit or cap you can put on that time? If you don’t want to see her but want to send a card or gift – do that. Can’t find a card that fits? Write it yourself and focus on what you do like about mom (but don’t be passive aggressive). If you don’t want to see mom, then don’t.

2. Use Self-compassion on younger parts – Child parts that feel to blame, not good enough and unimportant can likely be activated on such a day. It’s important to respond to these parts of self with compassion and love. “I understand you feel that way, but we don’t need to take on that guilt, mom wanted us to feel that way to keep us down, but that wasn’t love, we are loved by others who don’t bring us down, and I love you, I don’t blame you for the past.”
– OK so it likely takes a lot of therapy to get to this point, so if you’re not there yet, know this is possible.

3. Don’t give way to inquiring minds – Other family members or people who talk to mom might push mom’s agenda on you with the guilt or serve as middle man to pass information on if mom is upset by the boundaries you set. It’s important to set firm boundaries, “Since the issue involves mom and I, I will only talk about it with her and not anyone else.” “I understand it doesn’t make sense to you based on the information you have, but ask that you don’t place judgements on me for doing what it best for me and my health.” Again, these boundaries are hard to set and often require a lot of work.

These tips, I understand, are likely difficult to do without the right support systems in place, but if you are at this place in your journey, they might hit the spot for you. If you’re not there yet, then I invite you to know with internal work in therapy, you CAN get there and don’t have to be stuck forever. But don’t get down on yourself if you’re feeling trapped in your situation. On this Mother’s Day I offer you support and that I understand the situation is difficult to navigate and hope that one day it gets better for you.

If you want to dive deeper into this subject on mom check out my previous post “Will my mother ever understand me?”