Mental health

Appreciation for feelings

I’ve come to accept and fully appreciate the fact that I’m a highly sensitive person or HSP. I’ve disclosed before in my blog posts that I’m an intuitive, emotional and physical empath. All that being said, I am an emotional being. That is a fact I used to feel shame for. Others would criticize my emotional responses to certain high intensity situations and I would allow their harshness to hurt my fragile feelings. I definitely am someone who wears their heart on their sleeve. Instead of being embarrassed or ashamed for having deep rooted emotions, today I am grateful for them.

Trusting ones gut is a basic and instinctive response to danger. There’s a reason why we say, “go with your gut.” It’s our bodies natural defense mechanism and a way for us to identify how best to react in a potentially dangerous situation. For too long, I was trying to condition myself to be numb. Ignore what I was feeling, not trusting myself or my own instincts proved very detrimental to my safety and well being.

I’ve now learned that with balance, patience and acceptance that I have held these powers all along I just wasn’t listening to them. I subconsciously became too overly trusting of others for fear that my emotions would loom too large. I always held myself back in one way or another.

I love to listen to podcasts and YouTube videos, a few years ago I came across a series about the dangers of denying ones true self. Our emotions are what make us human. I rewatched these videos a few times until it finally struck me. I remember it clearly, the epiphany I had was a game changing principle that I had been resisting for far too long.

The peace that overcame me when I finally began trusting and believing in myself was something I had never experienced before. The quest for my true self had been lying just underneath the surface all along. In that moment, everything began to change.

Shame was washed away and I finally embraced myself as the emotional and spiritual being that I am. The power in that is great my dear readers. There is nothing I can’t accomplish with these beliefs.

My message to you my readers is to learn from my example. Trust your feelings and use them to your advantage. They serve an important role in life. It’s a strange paradox I know to feel others so deeply and honestly yet I was denying myself. Looking back it was just another lesson I had to learn the hard way. I’m blessed to have this newfound perspective and greater understanding of myself.

Feeling amazingly peaceful on this Sunday. Peace, love and light to you allโœŒ๐Ÿ™โคโ˜บ

Mental health, Spirituality

Choosing love while I remain true to myself

It’s been an amazing six months of personal growth and accomplishments dear readers. I recently posted a poem of mine on my IG profile under the handle @emotionalmusings (I have reposted it here) that revealed a personal truth. I have purposely held myself back from success for the past 40 years. Why you may be wondering? For fear of failure, for fear of not being good enough and finally because I didn’t believe in myself. It has been a long and winding road for me. One that required lots of twists, turns and quiet self reflection. Ultimately it took losing everything, my sanity, my personal safety and my home for me to discover that in the end love for myself is the only superpower that I needed. Something that was inside me all along, I just wasn’t accessing it!

If someone had told me that being involved in an extremely difficult domestic violence relationship eight years ago would be one of the catalysts for my evolution, I would of never believed them. Getting punched in the face is quite jarring yet it showed me over time that I wasn’t as worthless as I believed myself to be. There are no magic pills, absolute directives or a master plan to figure out one’s purpose here on the journey. I’m among one of the people in life who had to learn these important things the hard way. Perhaps you can relate. Please put your own story in the comments below!

Perhaps it’s my hard headed Calabrese roots, my fierce independent nature or my insatiable curiosity for why things are the way they are that has led me down a more difficult path than most. A dear friend of mine recently stated to me that I always seem to have so much on my plate. That is definitely true. Juggling lots of “life balls” is all that I know and something I have had loads of practice with since I was quite young.

I follow my heart always and air on my emotional side most often over my intellectual understanding of any given situation. One may say I through caution to the wind. I pride myself on leading with my human foot when faced with adversity or confrontation. I love that about myself and the more I choose to follow my heart, the more confident and content I become. It has taken years to gain this inner peace and now that I have discovered it I desire more of it!

The self loathing, self doubt, feelings of inferiority, and uselessness seem light years away now. I have survived some dark years. I firmly believe that without those years I wouldn’t have found my path of enlightenment. I give thanks for that time, I don’t regret it. Important life lessons and poor life choices resulted in some truly brighter days.

I write and post a lot about the need for more of us to show empathy to one another. In my opinion we must become love warriors against hate and evil doers. It’s those people among us that are crying out, in a more negative way, for love and acceptance. Humanity’s fate is under attack. It’s ugly and it evokes fear. I feel it is the root cause for people to in turn act in an ugly way towards each other. Bottom line…..ugliness, fear and hate needs to be challenged. The only recipe for change is love. Love is the only answer my friends.

Love hard, whole heartedly and often. Hate is easy. It takes more courage and faith to choose love over hate. In a real and genuine way, I challenge you to try a little more love in your life. Especially with complete strangers. A bit more empathy will open your heart to more understanding of not only that stranger but for yourself.

Trust me. I am living proof. I have survived, now I am striving. This is what winning looks like๐Ÿ˜

Mental health, Spirituality

That monkey on my back

Every once in awhile, here it goes again. Wide awake in the wee hours of the morning knowing that I have a big day ahead of me. Not sure if it’s hormonal or subconscious anxiety but I’m not a fan my friends of this latest development.

I have been working a lot at the coffee shop and feeling pulled in all directions as a supervisor. In fact I had to have a few difficult conversations this week with my partners. I’m not one for confrontation and I’m definitely in flight mode rather than fight. Yet they say change and growth can be painful. I guess that’s what’s up right now. Just those growing pains of evolvement.

I am a classically trained dancer in ballet, tap, jazz, modern and contemporary dance styles. I started when I was just two years old. My biggest dream was to dance on Broadway. My sister and I were on a competitive dance team that traveled and took classes in New York City. I pursued this up until I was sixteen years old. That was when some harsh realities became too much to bear and I quit dance all together. I did rediscover my passion for it after my oldest son was born and I started attending adult classes. What’s the point of me writing about this you may ask? Here’s some truth to that question.

Since growing up and striving to be some part of the very competitive dance world, I definitely developed this perfectionist side to my personality. Everything had to be just right. My parents tell me they would catch me organizing my room by stacking up my books just so. Arranging my Smurfs figurines in a particular order. Everything had to be straight and neat. I even carried this over into people pleasing and being quite passive in my intimate relationships.

Fast forward to present day and I can feel when this shift tries to take the wheel again. This time in a more destructive way. I start becoming very strict with myself. I get overly angry with myself when I make even a small mistake. I start reverting back to old habits that I know aren’t healthy for my positive outlook. The tiny voices in my head that whisper, you’re not good enough start to get louder as if someone turned up the volume on that old tape. I thought I threw that one out years ago in the midst of my healing from the traumas. Here it is again playing louder than ever, boombox style.

One of my downfalls is that I have always been my own worst enemy. More than most other people are I think. The original diagnosis from my psychiatrist on my first visit was that I have OCD with PAD (panic anxiety disorder). I had decided I’d had enough of the unexplained anger and anxiety surrounding the way my environment appeared to me after my oldest was born. I was constantly cleaning and was absolutely consumed by this drive to have everything look perfect. I found myself stuck in these crazy routines of cleaning things over and over again to the point where I wasn’t leaving my house. I developed these phobias surrounding having to clean incessantly or else. What you may ask…….even today I’m unsure. I had a dark burgundy formica countertop in the kitchen at my first house. I used to wipe it so much that it changed colors in some spots. Definitely a bit too obsessive.

So, when I feel that itch coming back again this is what I do. I restart the positive self talk in my bathroom mirror. I allow myself to feel the uncomfortable feeling of understanding that I am imperfect. I give myself permission to feel uneasy. That sounds like a simple enough statement. Boy, is that a hard pill to swallow during these spells. That’s what I like to refer to it as, a spell. Like some greater force has taken over my mind, body and spirit.

Quieting that harsh inner negative dialogue can be tricky once mixed with a heavy dose of anxiety. The “not good enough” imaginary police are breathing down my neck. You are nothing, you will never be anything, you are a loser…. their sirens wail loudly in my head. I steady myself as I ride this wave of uncomforbility. Assess what I actually can control, what to attempt to let go of and what next behavior will serve me the most. Some days are of course better than others. Add in our recent moon cycle and there you have it…….that nagging need to be perfect.

At the end of the day, I accept it will always be that invisible monkey on my back. It’s always there, lying right beneath the surface. Some days it’s quieter than others. Like everything in life I know it’s temporary. This too shall pass.

Mental health, Spirituality

I’m still here

In the spirit of it being a new year and all the possibilities it holds, I have been doing a bit of reflection. I have made huge strides and overcome many obstacles in the last six months. I’m deeply humbled and quite proud of myself for bringing some of my dreams into reality. It’s really important to have dreams and I’m glad I never forgot mine completely. There have been a few forces and situations that threatened even that my life would continue and I’d have the ability to carry on. Yet I have overcome those obstacles and have tasted success in a few key areas in my life.

First and foremost I have the chance to reconnect with my son. In just thirteen days we will finally be reunited and I’m so excited about that moment! For now he is enjoying spending time with my family and having a wonderful time. This last month has brought me so much joy and peace being able to communicate with my boy daily. That unbreakable bond that a mother has with her child is something I cherish dearly. The birth of both of my sons changed my life and molded me to who I am today. God’s greatest gift.

Secondly, sharing my writing and connecting with people all over the world is something I had no idea would impact me so positively! I have engaged with so many fascinating people along this writer’s journey and I have learned so much. One of my blog posts was recently published as an article for a larger blog here on WordPress called Coffee Writers Blog. It’s entitled, “How to push the pause button “. I’ve such gratitude for the opportunity to reach a larger audience and spread my story of triumph over trauma. Another of God’s gifts.

My new job and all of the challenges, responsibilities and new information has proven to me how strong I am and how far I have come. Just six months ago I was unemployed and depressed. Deciding to get out of bed was a huge undertaking for me daily. I was anchored down by guilt, shame and sadness. I couldn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel I found myself in. It was a difficult time and I felt paralyzed by fear. Taking that first step in choosing to get back into the world was one of the scariest things I have ever done. The benefits have been so abundantly beautiful and priceless. Regaining my self confidence and self esteem is the best part. I finally feel like me again. Again, another gift from God.

Lastly, my close personal friendships with loved ones and family who have cared for, supported and guided me along my life’s path make my heart complete. I take so much love and inspiration from these people and I wouldn’t be who I am without my tribe by my side. At the end of the day my soul is happy. I feel at peace. The monsters are gone. I’m still hereโค

Mental health, Spirituality

A small tear in the microcosm

Today was definitely one of those days. I woke up knowing I was going to shed tears at some point. I woke up before my alarm which has been happening lately and is annoying because I feel cheated out of my much needed sleep. A strange feeling had taken over my body all morning while I was getting ready for work. I couldn’t quite grasp what was wrong, but something sure was.

I ended up getting very angry over something at work. So much so that I was shaking and my blood pressure was on the rise. My heart was beating so fast and I felt uncomfortable, my mind started flipping through thoughts faster than usual. I felt a bit dizzy and in a fog for more than a few minutes. I immediately started an inner dialogue in my head commanding myself to take mental breaths to calm down. All of these feelings trigger my C-PTSD (Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) for fight or flight. Only my family gets me feeling to this intensity. I do a very thorough job of blocking out others with boundaries that I set up in my daily meditations. This whole situation threw me for a loop. I have never been comfortable with anger and I’m uneasy with expressing it. I went in the back room and cried it out.

As an empath staying safe, balanced and grounded is so crucial to my mental health. I have worked so hard at establishing healthy boundaries and protecting myself from toxic and negative energy from people over the last few years. I know I need to check in with myself often to assess my own feelings and to be mindful and present. The energies I can pick up from others can be so strong and overwhelming leaving me exhausted, sick to my stomach and even disoriented. It wasn’t until I was 35 that I learned of my gifts and how to preserve myself to ward off from outside forces. I always thought I was just plain crazy up until receiving this vital and life changing information. I have written about that time in my life in previous posts.

After it was all said and over and I had arrived back home, I sat down to do some soul searching. It was then that I realized I had neglected to get two light therapy sessions in. Last night and this morning’s were skipped leaving me more open to the energy vampires attacks because my level of anxiety is higher. In addition to missing those, I remembered I had not had enough alone quiet time yesterday. It was my day off from work and I had a lot of errands to run. Usually I like to have at least 45 minutes of quiet me time. This special time consists of no technology, no talking, eyes closed and laying under my weighted blanket. Afterwards I always feel rebalanced and peaceful. I visualize the weights in the blanket to be anchors that pull all the unnecessary thoughts, feelings and energies off of me. Laying under it allows me to feel safe and grounded again. Sometimes it feels like having C-PTSD is like being an exposed nerve that is constantly being bumped.

I wasn’t as vigilant with my own self care like I need to be and when I arrived at this conclusion it hit me. I have been getting too caught up and my mind was overflowing not allowing me any down time. The hours and days spill out so quickly and I just got carried away. It’s a good lesson finally (maybe) learned for me. I used to feel selfish about taking me time but then I realized that if I don’t recharge my own life force and energy I will burn out. Becoming no good for anybody but especially for myself.

I have since put in an hour long light therapy session, listened to an empath clearing meditation, rebalanced my chakras and wrote this post. Once again, writing helps me put everything into perspective so I can properly process my intense emotions. I’m so grateful for the reprieve and to be able to distance myself emotionally while putting every paragraph together. Returning to a more wise mind state of being. What happened today was empath overload. All my circuits got fried and I broke down. The important thing is that I’m ok. All my energy is right back at neutral now and I’m more aware of needing to step up my routines.

It’s all still a work in progress. The ebbs and flows,the ying and yang my dear readers. In end I must let it go…..

Mental health, Spirituality

Having myself a Merry little Christmas

This time of year used to bring me such joy and happiness. From November through early January I dove head first into decorating my home, visiting with friends, baking cookies, seeking out the best Christmas lights displays and watching my favorite Christmas movies. Since my divorce six years ago and my move away from where my children live, each holiday season has gotten tougher and I don’t participate in any of my traditional holiday activities. It’s simply too painful and I can’t bear the memories of being with my children in years past. The breakfasts with Santa, the shopping for presents, decorating the tree etc. just make me sad and yearn for those happier times.

At the request of both of my boys, they don’t want me involved in their lives any longer. We haven’t had any communication in over eighteen months. I also haven’t seen their sweet faces in over two years. Just typing these two sentences leave tears running down my face. Despite the swirling of my emotions, I get up everyday and go to work, smile and engage with my customers. Lead my co-workers and try my best to lend a hand where I am needed. This is something I’m deeply proud of because in the past I would’ve let this destroy me. I would have crawled under my covers and quit. This year I have decided to overcome my sadness by living my life to the fullest. Writing about it too is completely liberating because of the tremendous guilt this entire situation brings.

I’m also proud that however I have been feeling over these past six years, I have never once uttered a bad word to my boys about their father. I refuse to destroy their image of him. He is a huge part of who they are as people and I understand that. My own mother would tear into us as children with negative comparisons to our father and it used to make me feel so terrible about myself. I believe it’s emotional child abuse to purposely alienate a child from one of their parents. I have tremendous faith that one day my boys will see the truth and want to know me again. We have an unbreakable bond and no matter how many miles separate us I will always be there for them. They are the two souls on this journey that I love the most.

Recently I came across some of my old journals. I have used writing as an emotional outlet for processing and healing since I was a young girl. I’m so thankful that no matter how many times I have moved I always keep my old writings intact. I enjoy looking back and rereading my work because it’s a great way to assess how much I have grown and evolved emotionally from the things that cause me distress and pain.

This week has hit me harder than any of the last six years. I have recently taken on more responsibilities at work and that is a welcome distraction emotionally. I haven’t been sleeping well the past few nights because my mind is in overdrive between work stuff and all these memories. I don’t feel creative and I’m concerned that my passions will be neglected because of it.

I do however have this weekend off because I will be working both Christmas Eve and Christmas day. I’m actually looking forward to it. Making others smile and feel joy even though inside I’m crying. It’s opposite action for sure (a DBT principle coping skill) and my former therapist would be proud of my choice to triumph on over my feelings.

Here are the three poems that I found in that journal stuffed into an old bag under a chair in my apartment. I have come a long way emotionally from where I was when I wrote them. I’m stronger. I’m a survivor. I’m a fucking WARRIOR. Happy holidays dear readers. If I can do it, believe in yourself and you can too โœŒ๐Ÿ’–

Spirituality

All about energy

Many of my posts on this blog are about my interpretations of spirituality and energy. I recently wrote a poem entitled, “Energy flows” describing exactly how this phenomenon works. I’m always amazed by how karma occurs and plays out in real life. Recently I have been feeling on top of the world in most areas of my life but yesterday life threw me a curve ball and I’ve been scratching my head about what it means. I bet my dear readers can relate.

I overheard a conversation that I don’t believe I was intended to hear. It caught me off guard because it was very cruel and about me. I’d like to believe this person didn’t know I was there and was talking freely behind my back. The problem is I heard it all, now I know this person’s true feelings about me and I feel awful. I’m unsure what caused this person to say such hateful things about me and in order to avoid a confrontation, I now have to change my routine to stay away from this person. I’m so uncomfortable and upset over this. I know that when somebody reveals their true colors I should believe them but I’m very perplexed over it. It doesn’t make sense and all I have been doing is replaying the hatefulness over and over again in my mind. I know that it changes nothing and keeps me feeling badly.

Hate and cruelty towards people sometimes has its roots in jealousy which is what I suspect in this instance. Women can be so overly competitive with each other and so petty. I have been through too much over these last several years to act in a fake and phony way. Wearing masks was something I did in the past to cope. I can no longer employ that tactic in life because it doesn’t work for me any longer. I believe in myself now and I honor that by always being genuine. Yet this situation is pulling me into a gray area. I live by some standards now in life that I feel very strongly about. In regards to this situation I refuse to treat this person as they have treated me. Hence why I am so uncomfortable today.

Instead I am choosing to be quiet about it, pray and reflect. I don’t wish anybody any harm and I live by my ability to show kindness, ALWAYS. I’m admitting here that however I feel about my previous statement, I am struggling with how to correctly handle this in order to move forward. I want to get to a place of forgiveness but unfortunately, I’m not there yet. Not even a little bit.

One of my favorite books on life is by Don Miguel Ruiz entitled, “The Four Agreements”. In it Mr. Ruiz outlines the four principles to live by in order to have peace within oneself:

  1. Be impeccable with your word.
  2. Don’t take anything personally.
  3. Don’t make assumptions.
  4. Always do your best.

By adhering to these principles, I know I shouldn’t be taking any of what was said about me personally. In this case it is truly challenging because it IS about me. Intellectually, I also understand that this person is probably projecting their own feelings upon me. It is something I used to deal with regularly from my own mother. She was so uncomfortable in her own skin that she would project those unsettling feelings about herself onto myself, my siblings and our father. When I was younger, I would soak it all up and internalize those feelings about myself in a destructive way. I would beat myself up, doubt myself, employing self hatred etc. It was ugly and left me feeling worthless and empty.

The quote that next springs to my mind is by Maya Angelou.
Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” “The question is not how to survive, but how to thrive with passion, compassion, humor and style.” “When people show you who they are, believe them.”

She really hit the nail on the head with those words! I’m also reminded of this quote by Ms. Angelou,
If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude“.

In regards to my situation I know my only choice is to forgive and change my own attitude about dealing with this person.

Upon reflecting about all of this I must admit I’m beginning to feel a bit better. That’s what writing provides me. It allows me a positive way to process and heal emotionally. I’m so grateful for this outlet and I thank you my dear readers for coming along with me on this journey.

Tell me, how do you handle stress caused by other’s opinions about you? Please comment below or send me an email privately at mariaswan1209@yahoo.com

Here is my poem…..

Peace, love and light to you allโœŒ๐Ÿ’–

P.S.

I highly recommend reading “The Four Agreements.” I received it as a gift about fifteen years ago and I reread it often to remind myself of its message. It gave me such a great perspective on life’s struggles in relationships and I gained so much insight.

Mental health, Spirituality

The truth about secrets

Keeping secrets can be destructive to your mental and physical health. It can also be very stressful. Now I’m not talking about ALL secrets, some can be really great because they are meant to boost our loved ones life. This post is about holding in negative secrets and what that does over time to ourselves. Most importantly it’s about learning to truly listen to our bodies by tuning into our authentic selves.

As an empath, I am an extremely honest person and because of that I am a bad liar! I always wear my emotions on my face, sleeve and wherever else one can decern what I’m feeling from. Since studying and learning about human behavior I have also developed ways to decipher truth from fiction through body language. These clues go past my initial gut feelings that stem from being an empath. There have been plenty of times that I feel a situation in someone else’s life is about to go south and yet I must remain quiet until the person wants to admit what their truth is. It is a real struggle for me. I’m referring to a certain scenario happening right now and for confidence and trust reasons I can’t disclose too many details here yet I need to write about it for my own sanity.

I understand that each person I encounter must realize their own truth in their own time. I know what it’s like to live in denial, how that felt and how it feels now to live my truth. Denying who you are is thoroughly exhausting and counter to everything I believe in yet I had to learn from that mistake. It’s a very personal journey that I know I can’t intervene in. Even though I love this person with my whole heart and it hurts to see them in so much emotional pain, I must still observe and remain silent. Here’s where patience comes in because no matter how we advise others on their life choices because we feel we are trying to help them, it is ultimately their choice in the end. It is their lesson to learn and I need to detach myself with love and just listen. I’m sorry for being so vague but I am struggling right now with keeping someone else’s secret. I want to keep their business private and yet I want to scream it from the rooftops at the same time!! My role in life as an empath can feel like a curse at times like this. I wish I didn’t feel or have thoughts about this person’s future. At the same time I must trust the forces that be because I know my purpose is to heal others. It takes on different forms but that is what I am here in this world to do. Sometimes this comes at my own expense healthwise. I’m still learning and working on my boundaries. Granting myself permission to detach with love is a challenge because i cate so much about everything. Emotionally for me it feels like I am abandoning the person I love yet intellectually I know I’m preserving myself. For most of my life I chose to be the one who got hurt instead of the person I loved. I would gladly take on their emotions thinking that I was “saving” them from the pain. In truth I was just suffering and they remained unaware. It’s a work in process.

I have listened, advised, cared for and sacrificed for this person. I have willingly kept many dirty secrets for this person too. I keep reminding myself I can only control myself and my behavior yet the urge to “fix” this person can feel overwhelming at times. Sometimes too I have to remind myself not to expect others to respond the way I do when faced with a challenge. At first I am fearful but lately I have been trying to push myself past that feeling to implement positive change and growth. It is really scary yet I refuse to go backwards or remain locked in negative patterns that don’t serve me.

I know whatever the outcome I will be alright. I must trudge down my life’s path alone because at the end of the day each of us must live with ourselves alone. No amount of love can save anybody we love from themselves.

I wrote this poem a few days ago about what it feels like to be this person’s secrets holder. I entered it into a poetry contest and won honorable mention. It is amazingly humbling and I feel so honored to be recognized for my writing.

As always my friends, I am so happy to have this outlet to share my inner most thoughts. Let me know if you can relate to this one…..

Anxiety, Dissociative disorder, Domestic violence, Mental health, Spirituality, Women's self care

People say

I’m the kind of person that when I encounter negative energy it makes me nervous. Whenever I feel nervous I tend to talk a lot. For those who know me in life that’s saying something because I’m an outgoing and talkative person in general. I’m also a good listener and I relish my quiet time. For those who know me well, it’s hard to ever believe I used to be painfully shy until I entered high school. I think I was just trying to understand all the energies and feelings I was picking up on.

I can admit that I have emotionally vomitting on people and not in a healthy and positive way. By nature I’m an optimistic person but we all have our moments. I also have a huge tolerance for bullshit and my patience level can tolerate more than most. One of the perks of being a middle child. I’m a true peacekeeper and the glue in my relationships.

I also have worked really hard on Radical Acceptance and the ability to let things go. Let go and let God. That’s one of tbe reasons I pray, is to give up my worries to God. When I was studying DBT my the certified instructor liked to use the phrase, “fake it till you make it”. I must admit, I loathe that saying. It goes against my authenticity and character. I understand it’s meant to be motivating to try and put yourself out there even when you don’t want to. In DBT we call it opposite action. The idea of applying opposite action to painful or overwhelming emotions seems confusing but it’s to help me make a more appropriate choice with my behavior. For example when I feel fear, I use this technique to asses my feelings and whether or not the facts fit the situation.

This poem is inspired by my need to regulate an overwhelming emotion and look within myself for the answers. All my poems come to me as visions. I can just be daydreaming about something and it pops into my head. They come across like words written on a page.