Minimalist South Asian

As time has been passing on, and I continue on my journey in life, I have developed a lot of positive values 🙂 YAYY!! 🙂

minimalismOne that has been so helpful, is really practicing minimalism. Given that I am an organizational freak …. that is how it started. After having to organize my things all the time, I began to realize how much time and energy was being sucked up by just maintaining my things!

After reading ‘the power of now’ by Ekhart Tolle and ‘the art of tidying up’ I further realized how focusing on these items was not only taking energy and time, but space in my mind, my life, leading to more stress, less happiness. And, the more I reflected, the more I realized that many of these items were not bringing me happiness but were a form of attachment to something from the past.

SO — over the last 1.5 years, I have gotten rid of more than half of my wardrobe, jewellery, etc. I’m still working on my shoes ……shoes…..  I love my shoes that I never wear 😛 😛 Like I said, its a work in progress 😛 And I am loving the increase in peace of mind I have gained with the loss of items. I am loving the time I have to put towards myself, the de-cluttering of my mind, thinking more clearly, being more present, being less stressed, and of course, doing less chores!!

BUT, to be expected, is resistance. I am getting resistance from the south asian culture. With wedding season coming up, I am getting resistance from family members who want me to want to buy new clothes, dress up like a super model, and to like it. This is not who I am anymore. Yes, when I was younger, I enjoyed feeling like a fancy princess, wearing clothes only once with matching jewellery and shoes. Now, I have a lot of indian clothes to donate, as no matter what the rationalization, they just don’t get worn enough! I truly now feel bad for the clothes 😦 Not to mention, the potential child labour that goes along with it and impact on the environment.

So, I am doing my best to fight the confusion, the push back, the peer pressure to fit in and be materialistic as well. But, the joys I get from minimalism far out way the pleasures of dressing like a princess. I still love nice things from time to time, but I put my energy into versatile items that will get enough wear out of it. Until then, I am enjoying wearing my dresses to Indian functions as well as out for dinner. And some versatile indian clothes that I will wear for years to come, in limited numbers, is what I am focusing on. And the interesting and ironic part is that although our culture overtime has become focused on grandeur, our various religions continue to encourage minimalism! So spirituality all the way, there are clear benefits for increasing peace, time and meaning in life. 🙂 🙂 🙂

What do you think?

 

Chit Chat.

The parent anti-oxident

“They gave birth to you …”

“I’m sure they mean well….”

“They love you very much….”

“They will come around….”

Things people will say with very good intentions to help console those that are estranged from their parents. I have hoped and prayed that my parents would come around. I have tried my very best to let the fact that they gave me life, loved me and tried their best to wash away my negative feelings. I have let go and forgiven many times only to realize I haven’t really let go or forgiven completely. None of this has been half-assed. I have honestly been working my pretty little ass off.

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Yet, here I am. Again, at a crossroad, between a rock and a hard place, whatever you want to call it – its the hardest place, most painful place I have ever had to be. And I hate having to come back to this place again and again after I have done everything I know how to do to work through my feelings and move forward. Like seriously, how many fucking feelings do I have? Because they just keep coming, and each one is harder than the first.

The precursor was anxiety. I spent two years working through my anxiety disorder to discover other underlying emotions. The first layer I faced was guilt and shame. I worked through that and improved my self-esteem and self-worth. That was a lot of work over a lot of years –  but I did it!! And I am now a proud assertive woman. 🙂 Then, came the anger and rage. This was harder than guilt and shame. But again, I worked through it – in therapy, on the subway writing in my journal, meditating, taking breaks, talking to people, crying in the shower, talking in my sleep, sobbing in my sleep, exercising, self-soothing, taking supplements, eating healthy, praying, reading etc. Like I said, I really worked hard. Then, came some empathy and forgiveness. What a relief! I could reconnect a little and let go a little. Right until the disappointment from my parents present actions pushed me right back into anger, rage, and a new layer of emotion – grief.

So here we are. Grief and loss. No my parents are alive not dead. But apparently, my childhood sucked so bad that they might as well be dead – at least that is how my body is physically reacting. I don’t want that, but my body is grieving the loss of my healthy and alive parents! How messed up is that?

Then the criticism I experienced my whole life sets in. I must be a bad child. I must be over-sensitive. I mean they gave me life and loved me and did their best. How is it that I can logically get that, want to forgive them, but the forgiveness does not stick? Am I just a resentful, vindictive, parent punishing small person? I didn’t think I was, I mean, I give all the time to others, like literally majority of my life I am giving to others. So, seriously, what the fuck??

Then eventually all the work I have been doing begins to pay off. Its not me its them. Society is wrong on this one. We have a culture of silence about talking about how loving, caring, well meaning parents can screw up their children. How? Because of low or no emotional intelligence, inability to manage their own stress/life, own insecurities and unresolved issues, lack of resources, unwillingness to seek help, unwillingness to acknowledge that they could be wrong even with good intentions, unwillingness to give up the blame game or victim mentality. In other words, because they were never brave enough to face their own shadows or resolve their own baggage, and somehow thought they could raise another human being, without the shadow or baggage impacting their child. Well, I’ll be honest, either thats just really dumb, illogical, careless and/or selfish. Yes, having a child without being emotionally prepared for it, puts you at risk of being a toxic parent.

So now what? I go on the internet to google ‘how to work through your estrangement with your parents’ and many other similar searches. Almost all the links are for parents who’s children have cut them out. Poor parents, here is how to cope if your child doesn’t want to have anything to do with you. Really? Even google is telling me that the world thinks its the child’s fault. REALLY? So after another round of self-criticism, I finally come back to the realization that the internet is wrong – again only because now I have been working my very pretty little ass off. Seems like its gonna get really pretty before I find some resolution. 😛

But there is good news. YAY!! I love posts with a happy ending too (its the Bollywood, rom com lover in me ) I have done the hard work to find one book that looks promising and so far it has really been helping. The audio version is going to be my mantra to and from work. Its called “Toxic Parents” by Susan Forward. I hope Susan is forward thinking enough to help me detox out of this mess. But I am prepared for a disappointment like some other books I have read. But at least I have some hope again, and its going to be back to the workout of my life – working and working so damn hard, all because – lets face it – I had lazy, flabby assed parents!!

Chit Chat.

Waves

 

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The beach has always been my favourite place. I always described it as the crux of life, where the calm meets the storm, where both parts of our life come together in harmony.

For me, the beach is THE definition of life: the crashing waves unto the calm and stable sand. The uncontrollable waves, with the capacity to be beautiful, calm, peaceful or scary and destructive. And the control and stability of the sand, which is always there after the storm. For me, the balance between the two, no matter how ironic, has been the beautiful oxymoron of life.

Now I have come to a new understanding of waves – emotional waves. Waves of emotion that I cannot control. Fun times (insert sarcasm here) …. another thing to get use to that is not in my control. But I do often tell my clients to accept their emotions, give their emotions room to breathe, and validate their emotions. Easy enough? hmm….

But after a therapy session, all I want to do is say, fuck! no more waves of emotions please, I’d like to close the door on this now and not come back until next week – k? But of course our emotions don’t work that way (insert tears here). They are physical and live in our body, coming as a wave, and we have to acknowledge its existence, tolerate the wave and ride it out …  I guess I better take some surfing lessons 😛

I will continue to think of the waves of the beach to calm me every time the waves of grief, rage, and other unexplainably intense emotions come my way. I will try more often and try my hardest to not be a hypocrite as I recover from my own trauma and help others with theirs.

Wish me luck,

 

Chit Chat.

 

HOPE

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Hope

Hope was something that I felt I had lost. I also came to realize that hope could also be dangerous. Always having hope that my parents would come around, that they could grow, learn, become better and more importantly that they wanted to do this, was hope that always gave me strength. Until it didn’t. Hope became the glimmer I always looked for, only to be constantly disappointed. In this hope, I made many decisions that if I knew differently, I would have lived my life differently. In the hope they would come around, I remained more attached to the idea of being the daughter they would approve of and hopefully, accept and love unconditionally. But as I faced reality and the devastating pain that came with this reality, my hope began to disappear. Now, I sat in my bathroom shower bawling my eyes out, crying until I could no longer breathe, feeling the strongest physical pain I have ever felt in my heart. Without hope, I did not know where to go, what to do, I had no direction. Without hope, this pain felt like it would consume me and moving on felt necessary but all I could see was darkness, with no direction of how to escape the pain.

Then a new hope appeared. I still don’t know how I got here, but eventually the pain began to subside. But it did not subside until I surrendered to allowing my pain to express itself, validating my emotions and accepting that for now, I may not have answers but I would have to continue to try to move forward, no matter how directionless. As I began to reconnect with the present moment, I began to appreciate what was present in my life that was positive, that gave me love and acceptance. As I began to look around, I started to think of acceptance differently. I accepted and loved myself, my friends, boyfriend, coworkers, employers and even some clients accepted and loved me! There is acceptance all around in my world. Yet, the emptiness and the hole in my heart still often remains. Being present, recognizing everything that is going well, has begun to bring back hope into my life. A hope that I can become attuned with my own needs and practice self-love and self-acceptance. A hope that all the love and acceptance from others can fill the empty part of my heart in different ways. A hope that I can be happy and move forward in life, no matter how my parents behave now or in the future. Now, when my parents do what they do, I am no longer as upset or attached to it. I don’t expect them to be better human beings, to change, to grow or to even love me unconditionally. I accept they love me, but I also accept that they love me in very flawed ways. Their humanity no longer has as much of an impact on my humanity, my self-identity. It has been a very very rocky road, and it is no where near over. But, I have been holding on, now I see that my pain is beginning to end, or at least diminish.

Chit Chat.

The Post Healing Struggle

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Twenty One Years, some odd number of days and hours.

Over Four Years of Therapy.

Over 10 journals, dozens of poems, and countless conversations.

After all this hard work, I came to believe that, finally, I had mostly concurred this. I had conquered the side effects of abuse. After all, my therapist told me that I no longer display the characteristics of a trauma survivor. Amazing!! Now, even the professionals cannot tell unless I tell them. Feels pretty good to know I have beaten this thing as much as possible.

Then, today, comes a realization, disguised in the guise of a cold in the doctors office. I receive the same messages from my doctor and my naturopath: I need to learn to take care of myself, and put my ambition aside for my health. Tears roll down my face when I am asked the difficult question: Do I want to get better or do I want to get by? And truthfully, I could not say that I truly, soulfully, believed that I deserved to be healthy and deserved the hard work it takes to treat your body like a temple. I was asked do you pay attention to your body, ask your body what it needs?

No.

After all this training being a social worker, I forgot, that trauma impacts the relationship with your body. I have been doing all this work on managing my mind, my emotions and building my self esteem, that I ignored the fact that I am completely disconnected from my body. The only time we connect is when I look at myself in the mirror or dance (which is a rarity these days). Even still, I have not learned to be in tune with my body or appreciate it. But most importantly, I have never felt that my body deserves good treatment. Logically, I am aware it does, but in my soul, there is an empty place where my self-worth should be.

Self Esteem: As per Dr. Higgins, it is “what we think, feel and believe about ourselves”. My interpretation is that it is a confidence that develops in a person based on others perceptions of them, based on accomplishments, and based on social approval. Self-Esteem changes, it is relative, it is based on concrete evidence, and very much derived from our self-talk which is highly influenced by our environment.

Self Worth: As per Dr. Higgins, it is knowing that “I am greater than all of those things” [i.e. our thoughts/feelings/beliefs about ourselves]. In my opinion, self-worth is permanent, it is constant, it is abstract, it is derived from an internal faith/belief that requires no proof. Self worth is the core of how we view ourselves. It determines how we then interact with the world.

Source: http://www.drchristinahibbert.com/self-esteem-vs-self-worth/

Now what does this have to do with my doctors appointment today? I don’t truly believe that my body deserves to be treated well. I understand that I deserve to be treated well and that includes not being physically exploited. However, I regularly struggle with developing positive healthy habits that require me to take care of myself and prevent health problems. Even when I remember, I choose not to help myself, making excuses of laziness to disguise the disgust I feel about my body. Finally, I have to accept the hard truth: I have not fully developed or found a way to nurture a healthy self-worth. 

However, I have a fantastic self-esteem!!! I have enough evidence of this in my life. I routinely receive validation from friends, relatives, co-workers, and clients about all of my positive qualities (insert bragging here ____ ) 😛 And now I understand another layer of why I have always prioritized my ambitions over my health. No, I do not solely want to make the world a better place. I also want to ‘get by’ with my health and body. I want to use it as a vessel to get me to my destination but I do not want to have a relationship with my body. Hmm, jee does this sound like self-abuse?!? If I have had to pick between my health and my ambition, to date, I have ALWAYS picked my ambition. Hmmm, does maintaining my self-esteem and keeping a steady flow of validation coming in to fill that empty space where self-worth should be, have anything to do with this obsession with ambition?

I don’t have all the answers, but I have realized that you can read things in text books and completely disassociate from it, if you are not ready to admit that it may also apply to you, not just your clients. I guess I fell prey to cognitive dissonance. Now, I will be on a journey of accepting that my doubts for years that I did not have enough self worth are no longer doubts. Now, I will be searching for ways to rebuild my self-worth, my internal unconditional belief that every part of my body deserves love and it is not disgusting, or a vessel, or a tool. Logically, I can hear this, now lets see how long it takes for me to believe this and say this without being squeamish.

Wish me luck!