How do you use your words?

The brain is such a powerful and mysterious organ to even scratch the surface here is crazy.  I’m going to share my experience with my brain and what it does with the words I hear and the words I say.  I imagine my brain as an elaborate index card system where the “important” information is kept at the ready and the “other” information is filed waaay in the back.  Everything is there.  All the pictures, images, experiences, phrases and feelings are stored.  Accessing somethings are harder or takes longer than others.  I think my brain was initially misfiring and decided the “important” things are any negative comments or events are kept close at hand and are never to be forgotten.  Compliments, well, they fall into “other” and can be remembered with lots of effort.  In my experience growing up, pain was a stronger and more familiar feeling than joy so that may be why they are so “important”.

The things I remember the most, and seem to feel like they are happening whenever I remember them are the painful moments, the words that were said, the tone and delivery were never forgotten.  Those words became the voices in my head.  These voices are the comments that I believed.  In the movie “Pretty Woman” (yes, I’m an 80’s California girl) Julia and Richard are in bed talking  and after receiving a compliment Julia says, “The bad stuff is easier to believe.”  I cried when I heard that because it was true for me.  No one can go through life and not be scarred in some way, but I believe it is important to carefully consider your words when speaking to anyone, but especially children.  It’s like kids absorb everything they see and hear, even when it is not directed at them.  They are not old enough to make sense of some things, but in their world everything that they see, hear and feel is because of them.  (I am not going to discuss child rearing, I am just mentioning my viewpoint on the impact of our words and the delivery).

Words are so powerful, they can be used as sources of comfort, love, kindness or a way to wound.    Brene’ Brown refers to a quote that says “You are responsible for the energy you bring into this room.”  I am going to add that I am responsible for how I react to it.  It has taken me many years of floundering in the world to realize my life was basically just a  reaction to the world around me.  I allowed others words to send me off into various directions living as a victim.  I learned to use words to wound in defense. I learned very well growing up how to use sarcasm to cut, while getting a laugh.  The cutting words and statements came easily and flowed freely because that is what I heard and knew.  I am not referring to foul language.  I am referring to seeing someones weakness and attacking.  I spent my pre-teen years being attacked in this way daily.  In my teens it became a defense mechanism and eventually a tool.  I am not proud of this.  I have had to make amends to countless people because of my words.

The words I heard growingfile0002083689554 up had a part in who I became and what I thought of myself.  It doesn’t matter that my parents were doing the best they could with what they had.  It doesn’t matter that the people who harmed me didn’t know any better.  The words became a weapon in my own mind.  I just know that for me that when words meant to motivate, like “if you don’t do better in that class you will fail!”  Failure is unacceptable.  To motivate through words that create fear is not healthy.  I am not fear motivated.  I will do the opposite of what you want if I am threatened. The phrases and words spoken to me growing up became the voice in my head.

Today, I struggle with the mean critical voices in my head, which have developed steam, keep me in a place where true love has been impossible.  They are file4991280736472the tape that runs freely in my head. I have worked very hard at overcoming the victim behaviors and seeing the aftermath.  Seeing what I say and do to myself and how it keeps me from feeling joy and love for myself.  You can only give away what you have.  I have to love myself before I will ever have true love to share with another.
I spent 30 years numbing the pain.  When I heard Brene’ Brown say, “When you numb the dark you numb the light.” I realized that there is so much happiness that I have, but I couldn’t feel it because I was numb.  I decided that rather than spiraling down with the old tapes in my head I would take it one step at a time and change the tape.  I will climb the stairs and get to my place of joy and love with out the negative voices dragging me down the stairs.

It was a much faster trip down than coming back up, but I WILL MAKE IT!!


A Letter to My Younger Self

Sweet Young Girl,379093_2670389453390_1642209506_n

The road you are traveling is a rough one, filled with potholes, treacherous terrain, mean and selfish people.  You have done nothing to deserve the bad things that have happened.  You are not being punished, but you are learning.  You are learning a very dangerous way to treat yourself.  You are learning to speak to yourself harshly, set unrealistic expectations for yourself and for those you love.  On the surface you think you are making yourself better, tougher and surviving on your own terms.  My sweet girl, you are making for a tough lonely life.

I know that you feel so much love, that is not returned.  You feel so much pain that feels unbearable.  If only there were something you could buy, or someone who could fill that space all of the fear, anxiety and pain would go away.   I know you don’t see what you are doing.  I know you think if you are perfect everything will be perfect.  If you are funny enough, thin enough, smart enough, perfect enough all the past will go away and you will only be happy.

I can’t say it will be easy, but you will make it through all of the pain, fear and harm that has come to you. YOU ARE STRONG!  YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!  YOU ARE SMART!  YOU DON’T NEED SOMEONE ELSE TO BE THOSE THINGS…YOU ARE AND ALWAYS HAVE BEEN ALL OF THOSE THINGS!

When you feel like it is all too much, read this letter.  Know that there are amazing people coming into your life who will love you until you can love yourself.  They will love you exactly the way you are.  Remember the best thing you can do is ask for help.  I know it’s hard, but it means you are strong, not weak.  It means you are courageous!  You can trust again.  There are people out there worthy of your love.

Most importantly, YOU ARE WORTHY OF YOUR LOVE!!  You are such an amazing woman and you can’t even see it.  You will see it.  I promise you!  It will start out being reflected to you by other people.  You have a light and a love that radiates from your soul.  You are smart, kind, beautiful, loving and when you accept all of those things about yourself, your life just becomes full, peaceful, and there aren’t any words for the amount of love you will have coming to you and from you.

You keep trudging the road of happy destiny and you will make some of the most amazing friends.  You are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.  You will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.  You will comprehend the word serenity and know peace.  You will see how all of your experiences will benefit others.  That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.  Self seeking will slip away.  You whole attitude and outlook on life will change.  Fear of people and economic insecurity will leave you.  You will intuitively know how to handle situations that used to baffle you.  You will suddenly realize that God is doing for you what you could not do for yourself. (AA the promises)

Know that the best part of your life is yet to come!  Trust your gut!  Hang in there!  I will see you soon.

All my love,

Future Brenda

What is Love?

I like Brene’s definition of love in her book, The Gifts of Imperfection

“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection.  It is not something we give and get, it is something that we nurture and grow.  A connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them.  We can only love others as much as we love ourselves.

Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows.  Love can only survive these injuries if they are acknowledged, healed and RARE.”

I am currently working on the the phrase in bold.  There  is a long list of things I love about myself and they are all the things that really matter.  The things I don’t come down to unrealistic expectations.  Also, my unyielding desire to be perfect, which I never have and never will attain. There is a critical voice inside, who I have named “Little Miss Perfect”, that I am working on quieting and softening her words and getting her comfortable with the fact that perfect isn’t possible, nor something I want to be.  There is beauty in imperfections and there is a tremendous amount of love that comes from accepting and owning our imperfections.

Today I know I am worthy of love, and this knowledge is on the 1,000 mile journey to my heart where knowledge becomes belief.

Who else out there is on this journey too?!  I know I am not alone.  Talk to me.