Power of Vulnerability

I have recently come to re-discover the power of vulnerability and I have to say, after overcoming the anxiety/shame mountain associated with this type of choice, I am surprisingly feeling more happy, grateful, peaceful and connected. 🙂 🙂

 

Some History on Me

When I was young, I was very timid and shy. Reflecting back now, I was anxious back then as well due to the circumstances of my life. As I went to high school, and stayed in the same school for more than a year for the first time and was surprisingly accepted instead of bullied, I began to discover what friendship is really like. It was amazing to me that these wonderful people liked me, accepted me, and wanted to get to know me better. Whether acquaintances or long term friends, I was very lucky to be in an environment, for the first time, where I could begin to explore who I was.

I learned that I loved to share. I was curious, caring, affectionate. And most of the time, this vulnerability was met with care and compassion. But after my friendship with my best friend fell apart, the person with whom I was most vulnerable, I became guarded but still open to the possibility of positive friendships, just maybe not ones where I was completely open.

Through university, I eventually formed friendships, often keeping my deepest darkest to myself and only sharing the good in my life. Slowly, I began to share with some close friends that I saw all the time, and many years later I became more vulnerable even with the deepest and darkest. But again, after the end of another friendship where I was the most vulnerable version of myself, I started to wonder what I was doing wrong. Was I sharing too much, was I expecting too much, was I too overwhelming?

 

What I’ve learned Since

Maybe yes. Maybe for some, my vulnerable self was misunderstood. And yes, maybe at times I expected too much from my closest, and maybe yes, I needed to learn to self-soothe so I wouldn’t need others as much. But ….. these are all expected growing pains of people with trauma and attachment issues.

But although it was important to learn these things, being more guarded, independent, self-sufficient came with cons too. Although I did not ‘overwhelm’ others, which I have now learned was more-so my perception than theirs, I also did not share my inner-self with them. And people who truly love me, as corny as it may sound, want to see what’s inside.

Due to circumstances, I re-opened myself up to potential rejection, and became my transparent self again. I felt scared and afraid that I would lose friends if I became too comfortable and shared too often, or be judged/misunderstood like in the past. But I had been too strong for too long, and gave into asking for help.

And to my surprise, I was encompassed in so much love, care, affection, understanding, non-judgement that writing about it now, couple years later, still brings me to tears. The healing power of allowing my true self to show, the good, bad and ugly, allowing myself to not be perfect, to share my not so diplomatic/politically correct thoughts, was not only freeing and uplifting but also just so beautiful.

The happiest times in my life I now realize were not those because I was young or stress free, but because I was optimistic, present and vulnerable.

Connection with others, taught me that vulnerability is an amazing thing. I touched others in my time of need, and allowed them to help me heal. We all healed together. I became even more close to those I considered as family, and this connection is invaluable to me. For a person who has been ridden with shame due to abuse most of her life, this was another experience where I healed and was reminded that I deserve respect, unconditional love and affection.

And most importantly there is no shortage of love  in this world.

Brene Brown’s research is quite accurate for me. Vulnerability is an act of everyday courage and brings connection, gratitude, love, joy and peace into our lives.

Chit Chat.

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Losses and Gains

greif

Shock. Denial. Bargaining. Anger. Sadness. Acceptance?

I have been working hard to work through my grief and the stages of grief, which is more of a cycle then stages.

I have a new client at work, who has experienced a lot of loss. Grief work. I have minimal experience, but good supervision, yet still having doubts. How do I stay with my client and their grief when I have a hard time staying with mine?

Sigh. I will get through it, I will because I work really hard at being a good therapist. But sometimes I get so tired of how hard I have to work. I have to work through my emotional stuff, which makes it harder when I am going through difficult stuff.S

So what am I grieving? 

For quite some time now (over a year), I have come to recognize that my parents, although they do love me, and try to do their best, which I sincerely do believe they do, are none the less, toxic parents to me in many ways (as this too is a spectrum).

This has been really difficult for me to accept. I have now been able to accept that yes, my parents are dysfunctional/toxic but they too came from very dysfunctional families and quite honestly, the south asian culture (maybe like other cultures), encourages an unhealthy enmeshment with your parents. We are not encouraged to grow up, be independent. We are not seen as individuals with our own identities, we are often seen as extensions of our parents. That is the difference between growing up in a culture that is individualistic versus cultures that are community oriented – it impacts how you develop your sense of self and later on in adulthood, how you individuate from your parents ….. or rather don’t individuate from your parents.

So what does all this psychological mumbo jumbo mean???

It means that ….. my whole life, I have always prioritized what my parents feel over what I feel (if I was even aware of my feelings), I have worried more about how my decisions/choices would impact them (i.e. would they be uncomfortable, disappointed etc), than how I would be impacted by not being my true self. I have let myself be small so that my parents wouldn’t be uncomfortable. I have allowed them to believe that I am more ‘indian’ in terms of values etc. and hidden my more north american values/side of me – with the intention to not make them uncomfortable. And that is really just the tip of the ice burg.

I have now been embracing my true self, as a whole – both my north american and south asian sides of me. The smart, educated, out of the box thinker side of me as well as the one that still fits in the box of what an acceptable indian girl is. This has resulted in a lot of discomfort, shock, anger, grief. I have seen sides of my mom that I never thought could be there. I never thought I would experience so much pressure to stay in the box as I have.

But there is hope. I have recently come to truly understand my parents, their limitations, the potential reasons about the way they are, the limitations of my culture. I have also come to realize that I can set boundaries, I can move away from unnecessary guilt, and move towards acceptance.

I accept who I really am now and I accept who my parents can be and who they cannot be. I don’t like it, but I accept what I cannot change. I also feel motivated to make changes/raise awareness re: the cultural barriers and how it impacts our emotional development.

 

Chit Chat.

Acceptance & True Love

Today was a good day. I spent the day with my future in laws and then with friends at a baby shower.

Today after a very long time, I found myself reconnected with my true authentic self. The self I discovered when I first moved away from home, the self that was fully present and happy in the moment. I was happy in the moment today. It was such a nice feeling!!!!

For the last three plus years, I have been grieving …. even though I didn’t know it 100%, I have been grieving the loss of my birth family. They are still around but I have lost any expectation I could have from them, as I have been consistently disappointed by them.

But, I have been in denial, I have been shocked, I have been angry and depressed. I have even tried to bargain with them, find ways to get my needs met. I have tried every possible equation that could equal validation, approval, acceptance. But these are three variables I will not have (from them).

But I have many other variables in life that I am grateful for. I have amazing friendships, an amazing chosen family, amazing in laws, amazing boyfriend. And I think, its ok to say, I am quite awesome too 🙂

What’s most awesome and amazing, I think, is that I am finally more and more often in a place of acceptance. Hooray!!!!!! I don’t get so angry/depressed when my parents and brother do what they do. Now, more often than not, I can detach, I can say “oh there it is”, I can even see the irony or humor in their illogical actions.

I think more and more often, I accept that I don’t need their validation, their acceptance, their approval. More and more I feel, I don’t need that from them because, u know what, if in 32 years (now you know my age :P) they couldn’t figure out how awesome I am, yet hundreds and hundreds of other people could, well then, quite frankly, why do I need THEIR acceptance, validation and approval?? I have it from many many many other people, who can see my authentic self, appreciate it – maybe even be inspired by it. But if these three individuals want to control me, tell me who to be, judge me, maybe even oppress me, and basically stick me in a box – well then, I’m better off spending less of my time and energy on them.

 


 

Love is patient, love is kind …. you know the rest. The point is, love is unconditional and accepting. If they can’t do that, then sure they ‘love’ me but they don’t really love me in the true sense of the word. 

Sometimes, I may feel sad again or angry. But, I hope that more and more, I will continue to accept that, I have love. I have acceptance and validation. Most importantly, I approve of myself, and I don’t need anyone else’s! 

I have a lot to be grateful for. No one’s life is perfect. I wasn’t given a birth family that I wanted. But even in that there is a silver lining. 🙂

 

Chit Chat.

My Writing Journey ….

 

writing-imageI began with reading like everyone else. But since grade 1, I was the kid that had to come home and immediately do her homework, read the books assigned etc. I loved school and the stories.

I wrote reflection papers and in Grade 7 received honourable mentions about my insight into arranged marriages by my social studies teacher.

I found my love of poetry in Grade 9, and by Grade 10 I was accused of plagiarism by my English teacher because my poems were so good, I couldn’t have written them, since I could not write an essay to save my life. 😛

Through these poems, I first started to put words to the abuse that I felt. The one at monsterstood out the most, was the one I titled “the monster inside me”. I was so afraid someone would find this, that I folded it into the tiniest rectangle and hid it in the crack between my dresser and mirror. Back then, I felt debilitating shame about the fact that I was abused, I didn’t know yet, that is what it was called. I just felt like an evil child, that no one had yet discovered, because I was so sweet and loved by others.

Then, I discovered journalling, and in writing, for the first time, disclosed that I was sexually abused to my parenting teacher, for our journalling project. Thanks to her braveness, I learned that its still abuse even if you became aroused. I then slowly learned, I wasn’t a monster or an evil child. (Thank God!)

Since age 16, I have been writing in my journals. I then started a blog. When it became popular amongst people who knew me, I felt vulnerable/exposed and shut down. I did not write for many years, until I decided to start this blog, this time keeping it anonymous. Again, when I received validation and views, I again, began to feel exposed, fear and doubt creeped in.

writers-blockI will be honest. I have let fear keep me from writing. But I have also been connecting with my authentic self. She loves writing, she is very creative. She can paint, dance, sculpt, decorate, you name it. So now, I am going to try my best to be brave again, and continue with my journey of writing, because it is also my journey of authenticity, self-expression, and joy from sharing my true self with others. 🙂

Please leave a comment if you have any advice for me on how to overcome this type of writer’s block!!!!!

Chit Chat. ♥

Optimism

I had a good meeting with my father and my boyfriend after one whole year. It felt amazing to be able to be myself and really enjoy his company and connect like we did when I still felt like his special daughter. Then, I completely put this meeting out of my mind for the most part.

Learning to heal from emotionally toxic parenting is a difficult process. But I made some progress. With a lot of support and coaching, I was able to set my expectations aside before the dinner and keep them aside after the dinner. I was able to enjoy the moment without allowing myself to fall into a cycle of worry or cycle of hope. Expectations that the next meeting would go as well or that this is the beginning of our reunification as a family would have happened very subtly in the past. But, I have been able to notice when I dream of a reconnected family. I bring myself back to reality and remind myself of my boyfriend’s very wise words: Optimism is not expecting positive results or outcomes in the future, Optimism is knowing that no matter what happens, you will be okay. And with these precious words, my healing continued without falling into the pitfalls of anxiety over rejection or the hopefulness of reconnection.

Many weeks later, I still feel balanced. YAY!!! I feel that I have been grateful for the moment, also minimized the punishing of my father and increased the empathy towards him more often in the last few weeks. It has been hard to not continue to be angry and punish, as that gives me a sense of control; there is someone to blame and hold accountable for my bad childhood. But holding my father accountable is not 100% accurate or fair as he was not the only sinner nor the only one who caused me harm.

As a child we need to know who is to blame. We need to know because we are helpless and need to know who to trust to take care of us. As an adult, that keeps us in the role of the victim, never developing the identity of a survivor in charge of our destiny. We as adults, have to trust ourselves, maybe God, maybe our partners, maybe just maybe, our ability to make good decisions. We have to meet and take care of our own needs. So there really isn’t need to blame, although it does give us the illusion of control and frees us from the anxiety we feel for being in charge of what happens to us. Sigh – can’t have your cake and eat it too.

I often want to blame others. I want to blame parents. I want to blame the world. Because this is a pretty shitty world we live in – all too often it is shitty shitty shitty. People, on a regular basis, make bad decisions, bring life into this world and are completely unprepared for it. And as a result, at least 50% of the adult population has serious issues – attachment plus trauma or abuse – at least  attachment issues. So of course, it is hard for me as a social worker – my heart breaks with every child that has their emotional needs neglected. I see the emotionally stunted adults everywhere – they are everywhere – usually unaware of the cause of their problems, weaknesses and even poor choices. Sigh. I wish I could yell at the top of my lungs and set people straight – but we live in a corrupt world that is only driven by short term goals, not long term consequences. Sigh again.

 

So, I am going to continue to let go and remind myself that it is not my problem. But at the end of the day, all I can do is my part. Once I have done that, there is nothing else to be done. I need to enjoy my life, the little good that does exist in life – I wish for more of this, and wish for God to save our children.

 

Chit Chat.