Taking Back Your Self-Worth – Releasing Another’s Unkindness

STONE

Sticks and stones have yet to break my bones, but words have left me reeling on countless occasions.  Many of us were raised to speak kindly and ignore harsh comments from others, but as we all know, it’s not quite that cut and dry.

I’m going to share a personal story that very few people in my life have heard.  Congratulations internet – you are now part of The Circle of Secrecy.  (Apparently The Circle is quite large.)  (Also I feel like it would be disingenuous if I didn’t clarify that there are actually additional Circles within The Circle.)

When I was in high school, I participated in a program that allowed several students and teachers to spend a couple of weeks with various families in Asia.  It was incredible, eye-opening, and beautiful beyond words.  Experiences like that change you forever in ways that you couldn’t imagine.  Sadly, the trip also left me with a memory that I can’t forget either.  It may seem small, but it had a tremendous impact on me.

The flight from Texas to Japan took about 500 hours (give or take about 485 hours).  We were antsy teenagers, and while we were excited to be going, it took foreeeeveeeer to get there.  100 or so hours into the flight, I started talking to the guys sitting on either side of me.  I wasn’t looking for love in all the wrong places.  I was just bored, so I chatted with the adjacent humans.  Unfortunately they were also bored and got trashed with the adjacent liquor bottles.  It wasn’t my favorite spot to be in, but I didn’t know what else to do.  It was an exchange program, but the exchange option did extend to my seat number.

Eventually the men became extremely rowdy, so one of the head administrators of the school called me over to sit in a seat in the row in front of him and his wife.  Another staff member moved to take my seat instead.  That was 100% fine by me.  I re-seated my seat, buckled my buckle, and the plane kept plane-ing.  Nothing could have been worse than their obnoxious behavior, so I was incredibly relieved to be elsewhere.

Until I heard this spoken softly by the administrator to his wife in the row behind me…

“That Joanna is a total slut.”

I can’t tell you how much it hurts me to repeat such base words of intense unkindness spoken about me by a leading administrator of my school.  There was zero truth in them.  I may have been brash and loud, but I truly was an innocent child.  Overhearing those poisonous words from this respected person of authority made me feel like trash.

I have kept this story close because it is something I have wanted so badly to forget.  It’s one small utterance, but it scratches my heart raw.  Someone who knew absolutely nothing about me saw that when he looked my way.  He thought I was low.

My mistake was not speaking to the two faceless men.  My mistake was listening the one whose face I can’t forget.

In his defense, he was not a bad man at all.  On the contrary, he was a very good man who did countless wonderful things to help many students.  While he was utterly wrong about me, I don’t know of any other student that he failed over the years.  I want to believe that he was stressed while watching the whole scene from several rows over.  He misunderstood my not being able to deflect those inebriated jackasses as an invitation on my part.  He misunderstood the situation, but more than anything, he misunderstood me.  I never called him out on those words, but I have often wished that I had for my own sake.  In truth though, it doesn’t matter.

Even though I knew then that what he said was not true, it still tore down my self-image.  That poison has coursed through my spirit for years.  I should have never given such power to the thoughtless words of that man.  The unkind words and acts of another do not deserve the authority to govern my self-worth.  Self-worth should always remain an inside job.

Unkindness does not define me.  Unkindness does not define you.

People say and do things that are strikingly hurtful.  They lash out and lose control and make mistakes.  Sometimes hurting you is intentional, and sometimes they don’t even know that they are doing it.  Your hurt becomes invisible collateral damage.  Most can’t see, but you can’t avoid.  It gnaws at us and steals our happiness.  But their unkindness is about them – not you.

I now see the paper tiger in his untruth.  I forgive a kind man who mistakenly whispered callous words with zero understanding of their impact.  I release that ghost of my past.  I take back all power I once gave it, and I bring yet another part of my soul back out of the shadows.

We have sacrificed pieces of ourselves to others who never deserved them.  No one should ever be given the power to make you feel substandard or less than.  You are never less than.  You are meant to excel and grow and dream and learn and soar.  Let go of another’s false perceptions, and discover who you really are.

Release the unkindness.  Take back your self-worth.

You were born to shine!

In love and light always – Joanna

***This is one of my favorite posts from an awesome lady and fellow outcast / badass who also had to brush off hollow unkindness thrown her direction.  High five from me to you girl!  😉
Too Good for Wal-Mart

Substandard

I Told You

Ahhhh soooo much bettah now.  No more itch and no more funky!

So I can tell you that I did have the full bandage wrap on for the entire day yesterday.  This surpassed my own expectations, but I recognize that the rest of the mature adult world may be less in awe of my limited (nonexistent) restraint.  This is especially true given that at two minutes past midnight, I simply couldn’t take it anymore.  Poof be gone gnarly germ harbor pretending to protect me!

Incredibly my husband is still speaking to me, but he did go out of his way this afternoon to tell several of our new neighbors that it was a giant nicotine patch for my raging habit.  (It’s a big band-aid, but it does appear patchy-esque.)  That didn’t really explain the other even sketchier hand, so no telling what they think of me now.  In all fairness, it’s just a matter of time before they know what a mega mess I am in general anyway.

My unsexy hand with the blown vein after the IV.

Ironically the IV hand hurts more than the one that had the actual surgery.  Is there anything to do after a rough IV job?  At this point, I’m planning on telling people that I’m one of the few barehanded female boxers in the state but that I did not fare well at my latest event.

***Ahem – slight revision to hand explanation per https://mainepaperpusher.wordpress.com – I’m one of the few barehanded female boxers in the state.  You should see how the other girl fared in our latest match. Ding ding baby!  😈

Two Sides of the Same Coin

Regardless of the type of person this individual may or may not have been, I greyed out the personal information out of respect.

I took this photo earlier this year.  It is an actual grave marker in a local cemetery.  Headstones and markers don’t typically make my photo ops list, but, for obvious reasons, this one caught my eye.

It’s hard to find the words to even begin to express my thoughts about this marker, so I guess I will go with the one that speaks to me most forcefully.

Life is too important to carve your hurts into stone.

I’m not telling you that you shouldn’t be angry.  I’m not saying that some person who has hurt you doesn’t fit this description.  But locking those words in with such conviction doesn’t change the past.  Most people wouldn’t dare to carve these judgements into literal stone, but so many of us carve them into our hearts instead.

We allow our past and our memories to harden our emotions.  We judge others based on what might happen because we remember being torn down until we were bruised and broken.  We refuse to expose anything raw and soft and vulnerable in ourselves to avoid being shattered once more.

But the savage truth is that I have also been all of these things.  It makes me scream inside to own those words, but they are true and I could list numerous people who could confirm that in a heartbeat.  It is the dark side of my humanity that I want to lock away but refuses to stay banished.

I have been a liar, a thief, and a cheat.

I have been selfish, unsharing, unloving, and unkind.

I have been disloyal, dishonorable, and unfaithful.

It makes my heart ache to write those words because I feel utter shame at the memories that flood my mind.  My throat gets a heavy feeling and my cheeks grow warm at the memories of mistakes.  Moments of terrible judgement.  Words spoken in jealousy and fear.  Anger leading me to lash out.  And impatience.  Always impatience.

But that is only one side of the coin.

I have also been extremely honest, fiercely protective, and fair.

I have been generous, loving, kind, and warm.

I have been loyal, honorable, and faithful.

And I am real.

We each have darkness and lightness within us.  There cannot be one without the other.  This is not a fluke in our design.  It is part of our human experience.  We aren’t broken.  We are here to develop and to grow.

I’m not suggesting the you run full speed with your dark side.  Don’t do that.  Please.

I’m merely offering the idea that we learn from the heavier moments.  We strive for better.  We remind ourselves to stand back up whenever we fall down.  And we offer that possibility to those around us.

Sometimes you can work through the pain to heal a relationship, and sometimes you can’t.  Remember that you don’t have to have to keep people in your life in order to forgive them.  That isn’t always healthy, and it isn’t always possible.  However more often than not, the real person we need to forgive is ourselves.  We are human, and we behave as such for better and for worse.

Smooth the hurts you have carved into your heart.  Set free any judgements you can or at least try to see them in the light of reality.  Do it for your sake.  We all make mistakes.  We all fall down.  We all fall short.

We are two sides of the same coin.  There is such beauty in our lives of contrast and in our drive to be more than what we have been.  We must be one step lower before we can take the next step up.

Release the hurt.  Forgive others and forgive yourself.  Step up from wherever you are in this moment.  Always step up.

In love and light always – Joanna

***This is dedicated to my darling friend Tracy who inspires me to step up with every word she writes.  She is a spectacular soul, and I am blessed by all the color she shares.  Thank you for all that you are dear friend. 💓  https://insidetherainbow.blog

It’s Just a Matter of Time

hand grrr

Ten points redeemable at absolutely nowhere to whomever names the owner of that mouth!

I’m going to do it.  It’s best if I lead with this so we can avoid any assumptions to the contrary.  Based on past history, it is a statistical inevitability.  I can recite all of the reasons why I shouldn’t, and I recognize that this standoff with my husband is not going to end well this weekend.  Please note that I’m not aiming to make him mad.  Rather I’m trying to figure out how to win him over to my point of view on the proper course of action in this scenario.  (Reality check – There is zero chance of my convincing him.)

parentsdontunderstand

 

Okay.  Here’s the situation.  My parents went away for a week’s vacation.  No no no.  Not that.

 

So I had hand surgery two days ago, yes?  Yes.  And the bandage / wrap should stay on my hand for one full week before the doc checks it, and then he will wrap it again for one more additional week until the stitches come out, yes?  Yes.

I prefer to see these as wise suggestions from a well-paid guy in a white coat with a knife.  My husband sees this as professional advice that must be followed to avoid problems after surgery.  Silly man!  And this is where the divergence in our approaches comes into the picture.  The impending blowup draws closer…

Me:  “Argh!  This wrap is driving me crazy.  I’m going to take it off and put a large waterproof band-aid over it instead.”

Him (comforting and calm):  “Don’t mess with it.  The doctor said to leave it alone for two weeks.”

Me (ever so casual):  Yes, I heard that as well…  But you see…it’s been two days and that’s practically same thing as two weeks.

Him (quickly moving from calm and supportive to irritated):  I’m not going to debate this with you.

Me (even more chill and smooth like buttah):  Oh me neither.  I’m just going to remove it a little bit.

Him (advancing past irritated and heading toward mad):  Noooo.  Don’t touch it.

Me:  It’s no biggie.  I can do this.  It’s easy.

Him (steely):  No.  You’re not.

Me (less casual):  Hmmmm.

Him (staring at me and waiting yet saying nothing): …

Me (looking back and responding but only in my mind):  (oh yes I am)

Him (in his mind):  (NO YOU’RE NOT)

Me (in my double secret probation mind):  (OH YES I AM!!!)

knife

This knife has cut more than a tin can and a tomato.

I’m not saying that he is wrong.  (He’s wrong!)  And I’m not saying that I’m right.  (I’m right!)  I’m just saying that I have had a dozen surgeries since I was a teenager (mainly operations on my joints), and I have played this unwaiting game every time.  See the knife in the picture?  It has been used for slicing bread and removing casts (plural) from my ankles.  My tweezers have plucked eyebrows as well as stitches.  I never make it to the follow-up appointments because I have yet to become a big enough grown up to just leave whatever it is alone.  You’re welcome orthopedic surgeons for all that messy post op time I saved you.

Noooo I don’t really think he is wrong, and yeeees I know that the doctor gave specific instructions for my benefit.

But it’s iiiiitchy!  And funky.  And then back to itchy.  And then back to funky.  It bothers me immensely.  It pesters me, and I fidget with it constantly.  I have shoved cotton gauze under the edges.  I’m about to harvest a truckload of aloe off my patio to get it to calm down.  But then the increasing invisible germ element comes back into my mind and bleh it grosses me out even more!

I doubt that I will make it through the day with this thing.  If that is the case, he will be furious (out of genuine concern for my welfare), and I will act like I don’t notice the steam coming out of his ears for the two-ish days that follow (because I’m a stubborn bonehead and I warned him that I would do this).

That’s all I have to say on this for now.  I must run to take care of other things.  For starters, I need to see what kinds of large bandages we have in the medicine cabinet.  Totally unrelated of course.  I just need to check…

mick

Help me Mick!

hand3

I can’t get no satisfaction either!

Satisfaction

Pest

Not a Lefty

I had surgery on my right hand today and have officially confirmed that I can’t type with my toes.  When I try to type with my left hand, it comes out looking like the lol cats did it.  Feel free to make fun of any egregious transcription errors my phone makes as I use the talk to text feature over the next couple of weeks.  Should be interesting.  😉

What I Would Have Missed

1a

Over the past couple of months, I have not written about my strong belief in angels.  I don’t ask or need for you to believe what I say in this entry, but I can’t share my experience without doing so here.  Not that I would want to anyway.  I owe them my life.

Twenty years ago, I almost died.  There was no accident.  I wasn’t suffering from a terminal illness.  I just didn’t want to fight against my tormented mind and my broken heart anymore.  It wasn’t worth it, and I wasn’t worth it.  I was lost, and I attempted to take my life.

1d

1b

When the roller coaster of emotions was climbing upward, I could recognize that everything would be alright.  I could see possibilities all around me.  But whenever the imminent crash would happen, my ability to perceive the relevance of my existence wouldn’t merely fade – it would disappear.  The darkness would swallow me whole.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI had struggled for years with the unpredictability of manic depression.  I read the books.  I met with the doctors.  I took the pills.  But I couldn’t make it stop.  It was as if I had no control over my life or my sanity.  I could see it. but I couldn’t stop it.  I wanted to turn off the noise.  Turn off the pain.  Turn everything off.

1f

I couldn’t hurt myself or anyone else anymore.  I couldn’t stay any longer.  I couldn’t hold on.  I took the pills.  Handfuls of them.  I was blind with confusion and hurt.  I was going under and I wanted to let go.

I stood in the little bathroom with the empty pill bottle in my hand, and I heard a clear voice that was not my own.  “This is it.  You have to do something NOW.”OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A switch flipped inside me in an instant.  Immediately my head became clear and my mind snapped to attention.  I knew what I had heard, and I understood exactly what it was saying to me.

I had to get those pills out of my body right away.  I tried to throw them up but I couldn’t.  I calmly approached my mother and told her that I needed ipecac syrup or some other medicine that would force me to vomit.  She was terrified but managed to track some down.  I can still envision the countless pills floating in the water.  Even though I had expelled the pills within minutes after taking them, I still slept for two days.

1kThat experience changed me on every level.  It didn’t make the ups and downs go away.  It didn’t stop my anxiety problems, my OCD tendencies, or my mercurial emotions.  I didn’t become the easiest person to be friends with nor did I become a dream family member at all times (or even most times, but I really do try).  However my eyes were opened.  I realized that I was supposed to be here, I was not alone at any point, and my life had value.  I didn’t have the slightest idea about the blessings I would receive nor did I understand those I would give.  I didn’t understand my true value, and I suppose, to a very great extent, I still don’t.  But I knew then that my worth was beyond measure.

I matter.  We all do.

There are moments in our lives that can change everything.  Our destinies can be shaped over time or they can be flip in an instant.  When you have depression, the finality of that choice can be lost when you are in the darkness.   It will pass.1g

There is more light around you and in you than you could ever imagine.  There is beauty and wonder and love and hope and magic.  And there are angels.

Your life is precious, and you are never alone.

Do not give in to the illusion of endless darkness.  There is no darkness without the light.  The sun is always there even when you can’t see it.  Just give it a little more time.1e

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hold on a bit more.  Let the possibilities of your life become beautiful realities.  Never give up on hope.

You can’t fathom what you would never want to miss.

1l

In love and light always – Joanna

***There are countless photos I wanted to include of others who make my heart smile, but I didn’t need to ask permission from this crew.  🙂

 

And on the 8th Day, God Created Tall Boots

And this is why those tall boots are so important…

 

My daughter and I shot this little video during our nature walk yesterday (watch the tree trunk).  It’s interesting at a distance, but we maintain a firm rule on the distant location requirement.

Save your nonvenomous speeches.  That may be true in this case (and it looks like an eastern coachwhip so it probably is harmless to everything but our sanity), but we have multiple venomous varieties as well.

One last little personal note to my new tree-climbing pal the snake – What the heck dude???  Couldn’t you have just stayed on the ground like every other snake that still managed to creep us out without scaling large stationary objects that we also like to scale?  Why show off those mad climbing skillz?  You have made trees terrifying for me.  Trees dammit!  You know – those overgrown plants that made me so very happy up until the exact moment you came along!  Now every time a branch grazes my arm in the woods, I am going to react like I’m the star in a dorky live reenactment of the tomb scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Thanksssss.  Jo

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