Sunday, October 28, 2012

Reparenting the Inner Child

When people talked to me about their "inner child" I would look at them quizzically. I didn't really know what they meant, possibly because my inner child has been very repressed, but also because now I'm an adult and there's enough distance between who I am now and who I was as a kid to distinguish the two.

It has become clear to me lately I've been letting my inner child run the show. I'm defining my inner child as the voice inside my head that likes to throw tantrums, that says, "NO!" the way only kids -- or adults imitating kids -- can, the voice that would have me shirk responsibility to play instead, and the voice that's really scared.
Copyright (I think) is Natalia Phenice.
I've realized all (or most, anyway) of my issues about safety stem from my inner child, and with good reason. I know I've been very blasé about this, how I often mention it in passing, but both of my maternal grandparents were Holocaust survivors. Let's have that sink in a bit. My grandpa was in a concentration camp, narrowly escaping death numerous times, often because of someone else's whim. When the Russians liberated his camp, he was so emaciated he could barely stand. My grandma lived in hiding for years. She was in a ghetto and then hid in a farmer's cellar who kicked her out once she had no more money to bribe him with.

My grandparents were attacked and persecuted for being who they were -- Jewish. After the war their fears didn't disappear and in fact were passed down. My mom still gets nervous about telling people she's Jewish or that she does yoga and meditation. She has that lingering fear that she will be harmed for just being her. And I? I carry that fear with me too because of my childhood.

I've said this so many times people are probably tired of hearing it, but I grew up someplace where the KKK was active. These people burned crosses in the yards of other Jews. Many of the townsfolk where bigoted and racist, trying to kill the black student that went to our high school. I didn't realize how deeply this affected my psyche, but it did. I was scared to be myself, to let people really know me because I've been afraid they will hurt me. Physically I mean. It's not just the Jewish thing, it's the vegetarian thing too. Kids at school used to tease my brother mercilessly about what he ate -- they even threw bologna at him as a "joke."

Notice I've mentioned family members but nothing specifically about me. That's because I was always shielded. Through the grace of God or I don't know what, I have never come to harm for being myself. (OK, so I was bullied a teeny bit in middle school for like two weeks but after one trip to the guidance counselor that was resolved and now we're friends on facebook.) I have never been hurt in that way but my inner child is so scared that I will be. It's gotten so out of control I have trouble sleeping at night. That is, until recently when I realized I've been letting my inner child call the shots.

I've had to tell little Rebekah it's safe to be her. And I've had to remind myself my grandparents were survivors. They survived and even thrived -- my grandpa started his own business selling clothes in Manhattan. I'm also a survivor, I'm a thriver, and it's time to employ my logical mind. It's time to be an adult and look at the evidence. Hell, there was a break in and I wasn't home and none of my stuff was taken. I'd call that being pretty darn protected and safe. In the spirit of reparenting my little darling, I gather her up, let her cry, and ask her to remember while the world may look scary, she's safe and I've got her.

I dream of a world where we all take care of our inner children. A world where we reparent our inner kids if necessary. A world where we love and approve of ourselves and a world where we know we are safe, loved, and protected because we are here. We made it.

Another world is not only possible, it's probable.   

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Seeing Through the Eyes of Love

I'm reading Doreen Virtue's Solomon's Angels and the main character is speaking to Archangel Michael and he says:

"Every moment around the world, there are thousands of examples of love," Michael said to me. "You are watching it in action right now, which is the most powerful demonstration of the Divine energies. The more you notice and practice love in action, the more you will enjoy the dynamic flow of your life." -- Doreen Virtue. Solomon's Angels: A Novel (pp. 178-179). Kindle Edition.
Last night as I read that sentence I put the book down (or my computer as it were) and thought about all the instances of love in my life. And I don't mean how my parents love me or how pets love me. I started to see all my life circumstances through eyes of love so they can be healed. It's been very challenging for me to let go of the bitterness in my heart about the events of this past year, and last night I started to crack that façade and start seeing through the eyes of love instead.

Seeing through the eyes of love!

I left my beloved apartment on Post Street so I could be safe. I moved into a sublet in the Mission district so I could meet M, who is my human local connection to Judaism (such as it is). Because as much as I don't understand it, I have a deep love for some of the practices and I enjoy celebrating the Jewish New Year. And I wouldn't have met him if I hadn't left Post Street.

I am so very, very appreciative of how all this drama with my housing has led me to become closer to my community. How I bonded with K while painting my room in the Mission. How I got much closer to S and L because I didn't ever want to be home. How I was able to spend time with A and his wife. I don't think any of that would have happened if I'd been in my bubble on Post Street hibernating. I guess that's also what this has been about. Coming out of my shell and being more in the world. My friend B says higher power sends me places. She may be right because I've certainly been sent out in the world!

I see with eyes of love this lack of sleep and physical problems because the truth is they've been out of whack for years and because I'm melodramatic, it takes something really huge to get my attention and force me to change, and now I am.

I'm grateful for the apartment I just moved out of because it showed me it's really important to have good neighbors. How I can't tolerate living somewhere with lower or negative energy. And how it's important for me to not settle for anything. To always, always follow what makes my heart sing and not give into my fears no matter the circumstances.

I'm also grateful for that apartment I just left because it's led me here, and this is such a sweet setup. No rent, a pool, gorgeous Arizona, and gift cards for food as well as gas and use of the car. All my needs are met in abundance. I had to go through hell to get here but I think it was worth it.

I'm even grateful for the break in a few months ago because my need to feel safe/protect others and worry about their safety has been a lingering issue. I'm grateful it happened so the issue could finally be healed as I realize I'm not responsible for anyone else.

I'm seeing all of these situations with a much broader perspective. I'm seeing them as a perhaps a loving higher power would. And because I am, it all becomes easier to deal with. I can see the good in the bad and understand there is love behind it all.

I dream of a world where we all see with the eyes of love. A world where we find the benefit in all the things we go through, even the "bad" stuff. A world where we truly believe everything happens for a reason in our best interest. A world where we notice all the love and thus amplify it.

Another world is not only possible, it's probable.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Bring Out the Inner Warrior

I think it's fair to say I've been in a heightened state of fear and anxiety for roughly the past year. I startle at every noise. I check that the doors and windows are locked multiple times before retiring at night. When I'm sleeping in a house by myself I race to the window every time I hear a thump (a tree branch) or a creak (the house settling). I'm doing my best to mitigate the problem -- biofeedback, acupuncture, etc. but ultimately fear is taking over.

I spoke with my life coach several days ago (yes, I have one) and cried on the phone about how I want to sleep at night and I don't want to be dependent on the presence of someone else to feel safe. He asked me, "When was the last time you felt safe?" Despite its pitfalls, I felt safe in my previous apartment because it was such a pain in the ass to get to. No one would go through the trouble of breaking in, but even then I still had some fear. I surprised myself by telling him the last time I felt truly safe was when I did kung fu regularly. I remember walking down the street feeling unafraid and in my body, knowing and trusting I could handle myself should something arise. In the past year I've lost that. I've felt powerless and helpless and like a victim.

This week I started doing kung fu again. I wish I could say it was a magic pill and all of a sudden I feel loads better, but that's not true. I can say I feel progressively better because I'm bringing out my inner warrior.
Wing Chun, the woman a type of kung fu is named after.

When I think of "warrior" I usually picture some ripped guy ready to use his fists or weapons to protect himself and his loved ones from some impending danger. I do NOT think of a 5'6" Jewish woman who waxes eloquent about spirituality and love for all. Here's the thing -- my image of a warrior is warped. A warrior is not a bloodthirsty dude ready to kill whoever steps in his way. A warrior is someone who faces their fears. Someone who does what needs to be done. Someone who has strength of character and a backbone. Someone who will fight and protect if necessary but isn't constantly ready to engage in knuckle bashing.

I bring this up because we all have an inner warrior. It's the part of ourselves that's strong and capable and focused. The part of ourselves that's disciplined and keeps taking the next right action and then the next. The inner warrior is the piece of us that is courageous and provides security. My inner warrior has been lying dormant for far too long. Instead of jumping like a scaredy cat, feeling like a victim, afraid of my own shadow, it's time to pull up the strength within me, to take back my power, and become an active participant in the world once more.

I dream of a world where we call upon our inner warrior when it's most prudent for us. A world where we engage with battles to set our world right again. A world where we stand up for ourselves, a world where we access our inner strength. A world where we bring out our inner warriors.

Another world is not only possible, it's probable.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Do Nothing

If you've met me in person (or even if you haven't, actually) you know I'm like a frantic "little engine that could." I-think-I-can-I-think-I-can do any and all projects until my poor little engine starts short circuiting. So much so that even the hum of a refrigerator gets on my nerves.

Now that I'm in Arizona I've had to change my "I think I can" motto to, "I think I won't." It is so very hard to convince myself to do nothing. To rest. To relax. To lie on a pool flotation device and dabble my fingers in the water. I'd much rather be swimming laps or responding to e-mails or doing something productive. My little workaholic is horrified at the idea of spending an entire month lounging around and resting. What value is there in resting? What am I accomplishing by resting? There are no awards given for it. No gold stars, no praise.
I floated on this today
I mention all this not to throw a pity party but because this is seriously imbalanced. Rest is just as important as work. (I have to admit a part of my brain just said, "Yeah right.") Without rest my body, my brain, my life all start to deteriorate. And I'm not just talking about getting eight hours a sleep each night. I mean taking time out to do nothing. Having a day where I don't leave the house and don't accomplish anything of merit.

When I rest it says, "I matter. I'm worth taking care of." When I throw myself into activity after activity it sends the message other people are more important than me. World issues are more important than me. But they're not. I'm not of use to anyone as I am right now -- so dysfunctional I startle at every low, deep noise. So tired even after being awake for four hours I want a nap. I'm not blaming or chastising myself. This is the way it's been but I am making a conscious decision to change all that. I made a decision to put my health first the minute I said, "Sure, I'll housesit in Arizona."

There is value in doing nothing. There are three aspects to life: work, rest, and play. Neither should overpower any of the others because if they do life will become unmanageable. I'd rather not keep going down this road, thank you. Instead, I vow to do nothing.

I dream of a world where we all find balance between work, rest, and play. A world where we value each aspect equally. A world where we understand all elements work together. A world where we sometimes commit to doing nothing.

Another world is not only possible, it's probable.