Category Archives: radical acceptance

Resilience

I am in love with this word.

The sheer power in evokes for me internally is enough right there. But it is so much more than that. It is strength, fierceness, power, fighting back, never giving up, never surrendering. It means that when life throws you a curve ball, you catch the damn thing and throw it right back. It means that if you stumble into your hole in the sidewalk, you climb back out. It means that when you break, you pick up the pieces of your shattered heart, mind, and body, and you put yourself back together. One piece at a time. You rebuild yourself, and reemerge even stronger than before.

It means that no matter what knocks you down, YOU GET BACK UP.

Who actually possesses this amazing quality? What makes a person resilient?

I think it comes down to a couple of things. First, I believe it is a quality inherent in some people. I think people who are naturally resilient are confident, secure in themselves, and have a solid ability to regulate their emotions (especially in the face of adversity). When the shit hits the proverbial fan, they don’t take off running in the opposite direction, they square their shoulders and face off with whatever it is that is coming their way. I am not saying that only certain people embody this characteristic. I am merely stating my opinion, that it may come more naturally to some than to others. For many of us, resiliency is a quality that we need to work on – continuously.

I know that I do.

I have found, over the course of this very exhausting and debilitating year, that I lacked an acceptance of what it was that I was going through (emotionally speaking). I wanted off my emotional rollercoaster as I went up and down and back and forth through the grieving process. Denial, anger, confusion, hurt, rage, fear, depression, despondency – the adjectives are many and seemingly endless. But, it would seem that I have finally moved into this state of acceptance and awareness that I was unable to achieve until now. I feel as though I am finally embodying resilience. I believe that this is because I had to go through the emotions, hit rock bottom, and claw my way back out. I know now, with certainty, that I am strong enough to get through pretty much anything at this point in my life.

What I have come to understand about all of this is that I do not think that resiliency only means embodying that ‘never give up’ attitude. I think it also involves recognizing that sometimes you need to fall the fuck apart. And more importantly – accept this as part of your journey. Fighting against an intense emotional torrent gets you literally no where. Letting yourself be vulnerable and being able to sit with your feelings, no matter how totally terrifying and shitty they may feel, is just another form of resiliency. Because, without that deep emotional processing, you will most definitely keep falling into that abyss; over and over and over again.

And that is the space from which you truly pick yourself back up and continue to fight.

I have finally found that light at the end of my tunnel. It has been a very dark and very terrifying journey. I tried to put a time limit on my grief, I tried to control it and make it stop. It was only when I just gave in and let go that I began to heal. But I believe that it was all a part of my process and my journey. It was one hell of a shitty year.

What I want you to know is this: The pain and the hurt have an ending point. I am here to reassure you that the next stage in this horrific journey that is grief, is you coming to realize that you are strong enough, you can get through this, and that you are safe. So, please do not despair. Do not give up.

Hold onto hope; it’s there, within you.

I promise. You are going to be okay.

How do we create a true resiliency within ourselves?

From The American Psychological Association:

Make connections. Good relationships with close family members, friends or others are important. Accepting help and support from those who care about you and will listen to you strengthens resilience.

Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems. You can’t change the fact that highly stressful events happen, but you can change how you interpret and respond to these events.

Accept that change is a part of living. Certain goals may no longer be attainable as a result of adverse situations. Accepting circumstances that cannot be changed can help you focus on circumstances that you can alter.

Move toward your goals. Develop some realistic goals. Do something regularly — even if it seems like a small accomplishment — that enables you to move toward your goals.

Take decisive actions. Act on adverse situations as much as you can. Take decisive actions, rather than detaching completely from problems and stresses and wishing they would just go away.

Look for opportunities for self-discovery. People often learn something about themselves and may find that they have grown in some respect as a result of their struggle with loss.

Nurture a positive view of yourself. Developing confidence in your ability to solve problems and trusting your instincts helps build resilience.

Keep things in perspective. Even when facing very painful events, try to consider the stressful situation in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective. Avoid blowing the event out of proportion.

Maintain a hopeful outlook. An optimistic outlook enables you to expect that good things will happen in your life. Try visualizing what you want, rather than worrying about what you fear.

Take care of yourself. Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Engage in activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. Exercise regularly. Taking care of yourself helps to keep your mind and body primed to deal with situations that require resilience.

Additional ways of strengthening resilience may be helpful. For example, some people write about their deepest thoughts and feelings related to trauma or other stressful events in their life. Meditation and spiritual practices help some people build connections and restore hope.

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The Seasons Change (but sometimes we get stuck)

I was in my yard the other day and there were leaves on the ground – not on the trees where they SHOULD be; all green and perky, glinting with dappled sunshine. The leaves I saw were brown and crunchy; shriveled and dead, pathetic. I internally shuddered.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love fall. The colors, the smells, the crisp, clear air, the cozy feeling of sweaters and jeans and boots. But fall means one thing:

WINTER IS COMING.

I can’t talk about winter without saying things like; I don’t like winter! I don’t like feeling cold! I don’t like the lack of sunshine and daylight! I don’t like the feeling of being trapped inside and feeling isolated! I do not like snow!

But this post really isn’t about any of those things.

It is about this: The seasons are changing and time keeps moving right along; life is passing by. Fall is this epic shift of letting go, and change, and new beginnings. Death makes way for new life.

And life is flowing all around me – it keeps marching on, but fuck! I feel so anchored to where I am. Days are turning into weeks, weeks into months, and months into seasons.

I am standing still.

It has been almost a year since my husband left. One trip around the sun. Time feels like it’s in some sort of warp. I feel like he left last week. A year?! It just doesn’t feel real.

But it is.

The world keeps turning and I am standing still, feeling completely and absolutely STUCK.

I am stuck inside of my grief, and my hurt, and my heartache. I cannot shake them. Yes, I’ve made lots of progress, but there are still some days where I am literally rocked to my core with pain.

And all around me, life goes on.

Winter is coming.

My kids are doing as well as they can with their new life; split between the 2 people they love most in this world. They spend half the week with their dad and half the week with me. Of course they want their family back, but they are really happy and they are thriving. I imagine that my ex must be happy too. He has everything he ever wanted. He told me once that he is happier than he ever has been in his life.

And me? I am still struggling. Still aching for that family I want back. I am sitting in an empty house filled with ghosts, memories, and lost dreams. A future that will never come to pass. It is a life that is no longer real. It was the future I was counting on.

There are no guarantees.

I think this is just the rollercoaster that is grief. I think, perhaps, that this is what I am supposed to be doing. Feeling my feelings and moving through the pain and the trauma. Perhaps I am not actually stuck but just slowed waaaaaaaay down.

If it were possible, I would curl up into an emotional chrysalis, and hibernate right through fall, straight on through winter, and wake up when it was spring. I would bypass the rest of this so-called ‘grieving process‘ and skip to the end where I emerge from my chrysalis as a beautiful fucking butterfly.

But winter is coming.

And I have no choice but to go along for the ride.

 

Denial.

No one is immune.

No one gets a free pass.

Every single person in this world hurts, suffers, rages, and cries. Not all of the time, but definitely some of the time; some people more than others. We all ebb and flow through our emotions just as we ebb and flow through our lives.

I am working toward being okay with emotions – all of them. Embracing them like old friends instead of running from them. They feel so scary for me; even happiness. I don’t fully trust them yet and I still have this deep-seated fear that they will take over my being completely.

I think this stems in part from watching my dad die when I was 9. My emotional landscape permanently changed that day. I went from being a happy-go-lucky kid, without a care in the world, to seeing something (him die) to experiencing something (loss of a parent) that no child should ever have to go through. I didn’t have the emotional aptitude or cognitive capability to handle any of it. And after it happened, no one taught me how to process through my terror, confusion, guilt, or hurt. For the rest of my life, when those feelings of grief would pop up, I would shove them away like a plague. I was desperate to avoid them. They felt like they would swallow me whole.

And, at age 41, they did.

For a long time, I pretended that my dad was alive, and living in California with another family. It was easier to pretend that he just didn’t want to live with us anymore. Then I pretended he was a knight on some other plane of existence – another reality – one in which he would slay dragons and protect people.

My dad couldn’t be dead because that meant he was gone. And never coming back.

Denial is something that our brains latch onto for a time when we are navigating something too emotionally difficult to really comprehend. Sometimes we need to ignore certain things until we have the strength to move forward in our grief and on our path toward healing. We need to compartmentalize things that are simply too painful to grasp. Ignore, deny, avoid, and check out. And, for at least a little while, I believe that it is healthy and completely normal to do so.

Not healthy? Living in that space of false reality and clinging to a truth that isn’t real or does not exist, indefinitely.

Denial is something I have watched my kids going through since their dad and I split. My son would say, “but you aren’t divorced, you are separated.” Yes, this is true, on paper, but it’s for health insurance reasons. Our marriage is irrevocably broken. For good.

Denial it is something I did not want to admit I was doing, but fuck, it most certainly is. I like to think that I have been working hard in therapy to tackle my past hurt and childhood trauma and now it is finally time to work through this last year of my marriage breaking, my PTSD, and the fact that my husband is never coming home.

Ever again.

Shit, that hurts to type.

When people ask me if the split was amicable, I say no, it was not. If he were to call me and say, “hey Aim, let’s talk, let’s work this out. I miss you and I miss our family”, I would be lying if I said that isn’t something I have wished for a thousand times. A million times.

But that fantasy gets me literally no where. Every time I entertain thoughts like this, I do more damage. I cannot live or exist in a world where I create false realities anymore than I could have kept living in a very emotionally abusive and unhealthy marriage. It makes no sense.

But still, the thoughts pop up; Unwanted and detrimental.

I am now willing to acknowledge that it is over. I am radically accepting that he is NEVER COMING HOME. It hurts, but I recognize that this is the next step in my journey. With practice, I am gently acknowledging the thoughts as they arise, not giving them the attention they demand, and letting them slip away. I am practicing bringing myself back to the present moment, whether that is writing, doing dishes, watching my son read or my daughter play with her Legos. These thoughts have no power over me unless I allow them to.

And I will not allow them to any longer.

The Secret Inner Drive

There is a disconnect within my mind; thoughts buried so deep, they tug at my subconscious. I am trying very hard to acknowledge them though they feel primal and hard to access. I want to pay more attention to my very busy inner mind; the driving force behind some of my behavior. I want to separate my rich inner dialogue from the chatter and busyness that seem to coat the surface of my thoughts.

I think we all have motivations that are so deeply embedded in our psyche that we don’t necessarily know that they are there whispering to us; motivating us to make certain choices. If we stripped away that drive, that push or pull, would we make different choices? Or would we stay on the same path? If my mind was naked, stripped down and bare, what would my behavior look like in this pure ‘me’ state? Or is the steady, mostly silent hum beneath my thoughts, what makes up the essence of ‘me’?

I find this shit fascinating and I am going to start to pay very close attention. Starting now.

Alright, an example, you ask? Sure.

And this shit is embarrassing.

It dawned on me last night that I am still pining over my ex. I am still hoping for the day when he lets me back in. When he ‘sees’ me and how much work I’ve done and that I am not the same person I was last week, last month, or last year. I am changing and evolving and healing so quickly, and fuck, a part of me has been doing it for him.

When the man you loved for 16 years repeatedly calls you crazy and psycho,

YOU WANT TO PROVE HIM WRONG.

You want him to know that he made the biggest mistake of his life when he left you; alone, hurting, and confused as fuck.

Damnit to being so honest with myself. Shit. I don’t like admitting that AT ALL. It’s trite, petty, and just silly. But it’s the truth and maybe a good dose of brutal honesty is what I need to wake me up to the fact that he left. He isn’t coming back. And he has found someone to love more than he ever loved me. Puke.

And this: WHY ON EARTH WOULD I EVER WANT TO BE WITH SOMEONE WHO DOESN’T WANT ME COMPLETELY? I just said no to a great guy for that exact reason. I want to be wanted wholly, completely, totally; for all of me. That includes my goddamn crazy life and my children. They are a part of me and we are a package deal.

I am a mother, a woman, a teacher, a lover, a sister, a friend, and a human being. I feel nearly everything intensely, deeply, and I love with every fucking fiber of my being.

This is who I am; many puzzle pieces make up an entire Amy.

A lifetime of Amy’s all leading to up to now.

(Sorry, went off on a bit of tangent there).

I do believe that we all have secret motivators within us, steering us to some degree. And perhaps, sometimes, these forces can cause us to make choices or drive our behavior in ways that may cause us to step out of integrity with ourselves. I know I feel a bit ill thinking that some of my hard work has been to prove my ex wrong. I know that my choices and my behavior should come from me and be for me. Which is why, no matter how I must wrestle with myself, I am going to start to pay close attention to what is REALLY going on behind the scenes, so-to-speak, within my own busy brain.

Wish me luck!

Manifesto 

I got my name back this morning. I am once again Amy Moreno; officially. There is so much power in this for me; it feels like being reborn. The entire process wasn’t that exciting but the aftermath spawned this; I am on chapter 5 my friends, and I have never been happier.

I will never lose sight of who I am.

I will never get lost in another relationship - of any kind.

I will stay in complete integrity with myself.

I will do my utmost to be present in every moment. 

I will not judge my thoughts.

I will not judge my emotions.

I will walk with my heart open;
and my eyes wide open.

I recognize that I will face difficult times;
and with those times will come difficult emotions.

I recognize that my difficult times and emotions will PASS.

I will work hard.

I will try harder.

I will make mistakes and embrace those mistakes as learning
and being brave enough to have tried. 

I will approach life with a gentle awareness
and a curiosity that sparks within me a new-found appreciation 
for all that I am, 
all that I have, 
and all that is coming my way.

Forward Momentum

Something amazing has been happening. It doesn’t seem real – it seems too good to be true.

But it IS real. And it IS true.

I have begun to accept and to feel my emotions as they come up; for the first time since I was a little girl. My entire life I have denied myself feelings of any kind; sadness seemed too scary and happiness seemed like a lie. Trauma will do this. It is the brain creating coping mechanisms to avoid the horror of the initial pain; the feelings associated with the traumatic event.

Over the course of my life, I learned to compartmentalize my feelings and deny them. I ignored and shoved away anything that seemed too scary – fear, pain, loss, hurt, even happiness – they all felt like too much. My emotions terrified me and felt as though they would swallow me whole.

This is not really living.

I was paralyzed with fear; dreading that moment when I wouldn’t be able to avoid my own emotions. Stuck in this endless cycle of denial and then the inevitable explosion of emotion when there was nothing I could do but be consumed by feelings of such intensity that they would leave me reeling for days. Days of self-loathing, days of feeling hopeless, ashamed, and terrified of the next time I would have to fall of the edge of that cliff.

But now, I am noticing a new trend.

After my husband moved out, I would crash; curl up into a ball wherever I was. Go fetal and sob so loudly sometimes, that I would scare the crap out of the dog. It would take me literal days to recover and I would feel completely hijacked by my own brain – a scary and alarming way to feel. I would have to call him when I tanked as, I believed, that he was the only person who could help me to feel safe; to pull me out of that dark place. Then with more time and more space, I stopped calling him. I noticed that the days became entire afternoons. Eight hours became six. Three hours became two, and just yesterday, I felt sad and cried and felt better after a brief hour of hurt.

I am recognizing this, and acknowledging this, as healthy, amazing, and empowering. This is healing. This is forward momentum. This is personal growth. This is what life as a fierce woman looks like.

This is what living life FEELS like.

I feel my shit when it arises, and every single time it gets easier. Easier to get up off of the floor and stand back up on my own two feet. I know now that I can trust my feelings – sad, happy, despondent, afraid, excited. They flow through me, move on, and they don’t consume me. It is the best thing in the world, to know that I am okay and I am no longer afraid of my own mind. I am in charge. I am the one calling the shots. I am present in myself and I know exactly who I am.

Take that world! Girl on fire is finally here.

Beautiful Possibilites

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

By Portia Nelson

I

I walk down the street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk

I fall in.

I am lost … I am helpless.

It isn’t my fault.

It takes me forever to find a way out.

II

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I pretend I don’t see it.

I fall in again.

I can’t believe I am in the same place

but, it isn’t my fault.

It still takes a long time to get out.

III

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I see it is there.

I still fall in … it’s a habit.

my eyes are open

I know where I am.

It is my fault.

I get out immediately.

IV

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I walk around it.

V

I walk down another street.

This poem resonates deeply with me as I move forward in my life, in my grief, in my processing through trauma and divorce.

This past year, I fell, over and over again. I continuously stumbled into that damn hole in my emotional sidewalk. I sat at the bottom, looking down at my feet; in total denial about why I was down there and how I could get out. There was no perspective save the dirt all around me. I was inside of myself, inside of my trauma, inside of my addled brain. I would refer to these moments as ‘trapped’, trapped within my own brain; my own fear, self-loathing and terror. I was frozen, in stasis, in shock. DENIAL. This was not my fault, this was out of my control, I cannot help my temper, my rage, my trauma. Life felt out of my control and I accepted that like a wounded animal. I curled up and made myself a home at the bottom of that damn hole. For months.

Until one day, I reached a different chapter.

I was still falling into the hole, but my eyes were open and I knew exactly what had happened to get me back down into that hurt space. I knew now that it was my fault and even though I was in the pit, my eyes were wide open, looking up instead of down. Sometimes I would be stuck down there for an entire day; trying desperately to climb out.

What I have come to accept is that sometimes I might just need to sit down there for a time. That maybe this is my work, this is my lot in life right now. I have learned that maybe I need to sit down at the bottom of the hole and wait. Wait for my emotions to pass, to run their painful course through my body, through my heart, through my mind. And then, when it is time, I can stand up in that hole and climb out.

I have to admit that I am waiting for chapter four to come. The part where I walk around that hole. The part where I am consciously choosing to step around the pit of self-pity, denial, longing, despair, and hurt.

And finally, that day, that moment when I choose a different sidewalk altogether. And I will walk toward hope, toward empowerment, self-love, and my most awake and aware self.

That person is out there and she is my future.

The road becomes endless and filled with beautiful possibilities.