Your Word Goddess

The way is love

Releasing our limiting beliefs to the wind: The butterfly is born

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It’s incredible how our world can open up all of a sudden.

I lost my way, in my late teens I was very open and I had a relationship that was very freeing. And when that ended, I closed in upon myself. I didn’t want to be alone so I found someone else, but they weren’t free.

I accepted that without really feeling I had a choice. I was just too numb from losing my past relationship and I didn’t want to be alone. And I ended up in the limiting relationship for a long time.

I don’t regret it. I have my son from that one.

But I can’t help but think I closed off a huge part of myself that I’m only just finding again.

The part of me that is alive and intense. Spirited and feisty. Outgoing and confident.

Vibrant.

I didn’t have to compromise all those years ago. And now I’m not sure why I did.

And I’m not anymore.

And I have heard countless times about how our mindset affects our reality. And even then, I let my limited mindset create my limited reality–for a while.

I can only believe that was because of pain and fear.

The pain of losing a great love and the fear of never finding another one.

Of never finding what I really wanted and needed again in my life.

And suddenly I realize that is what limited me.

And also what has now set me free. Because facing that fear and moving through it has opened up my path, and I am loving life again. Life is suddenly filled with limitless possibilities.

I am a caterpillar that has changed and grown many times and is finally coming out of her chrysalis.

And I believe that can happen over and over again throughout our lives, as we change and grow. If we don’t break our way out of our self-made world we effectively die inside.

And never become who we’re meant to be.

I have written frustrated blogs in the past about my relationships and now I see that that was the process of moving through the pain and the fear.

I had to accept my true feelings, express them safely and then let them go.

Writing is so beautiful for that. We can be who we truly are at any one moment and then just move on. Not even needing a backward glance.

We hurt no one. After all we have a right to our feelings. And then we leave them for posterity and wave goodbye.

And so I wave goodbye to my limiting beliefs and watch them travel away on the wind.

Never to feel them again.

 

From the series, Write On! by Jacqueline Snider, writer and editor

Tolerance requires strength: Being gay in this world

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What is it about gayness that creates such a reaction in some people?

When I was in elementary school we had a gay male librarian. It was known that he was gay, even by us kids who really didn’t have much understanding of what that meant. I don’t remember anyone having any particular problem with his being gay or with him.

When I was 15 and working in a local ice cream shop one of my classmates from elementary school came in and told me the librarian had been bludgeoned to death by two straight men in a park. The park was known for its gay meetups, but he’d been walking through it to go shopping for birthday supplies for his party. On his way back through he ran into two young skinheads with a baseball bat who were out on the prowl for gay men. They beat him so badly he was found dead in his car having bled to death from the wounds they inflicted.

This was in the late 80s. I’m sure nothing much has changed unfortunately.

Men seem to be targeted more aggressively than women for being gay. I get the impression men always figure gay women are just playing around and some even find the idea of women being together sexy, but two men together for some straight men is just too beyond their tolerance level.

Why?

Is it the anal sex? Lots of men have anal sex with women so what’s the big difference? No, I don’t believe it’s that. I think they fear being raped by other men. And that’s a real fear as so many girls, boys, women and men know. Some men just feel they have the right to take what they want when they want it.

And so some men fear being overpowered and forced to take part in something they think is abhorrent. Or worse that they might actually kinda like. Let’s face it being forced to do anything you don’t want to do sexually is abhorrent, no matter what it is. Just look at the #MeToo world out there. But what if those men who are so 100% straight have a hidden fear of not being 100% straight, where would that leave them?

That leaves them fearful, and that breeds hate.

I have known men who’ve been sexually abused by other men. It happens all the time. It doesn’t just happen to women of course. We all know that. And it affects men the same way as women, it can really screw up their heads and their sex lives. I dated one guy who’d been sexually abused by a man I’m not sure how and then be couldn’t come from a blow job. I always imagined he’d been given a blow job against his will and come so he couldn’t later with me, but he never told me specifically what happened, and I never asked.

I was sexually abused by a woman so I know how weird it can be to be a victim, especially as a child. You have such a limited understanding of what sex is and then someone turns you into a sexual object against your will or level of comprehension, it’s very bizarre.

I believe what people do in the privacy of their own room with other people, when it’s consensual, is none of anyone else’s business. Whether people are straight or gay or somewhere in between, no one has any right to judge or interfere in people’s healthy sexual lives.

Fear is no excuse to take out your insecurities about your own sexual orientation on anyone else through violence or verbal abuse.

And that’s what violence and verbal abuse is, it’s fear plain and simple. Only weak people resort to that kind of behaviour.

Tolerance requires strength.

 

From the series, Write On! by Jacqueline Snider, writer and editor

Our women’s group does it again: Being a part of something greater than ourselves

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My women’s group never fails to amaze me.

We are a group of diverse women of different ages and backgrounds, who all have experienced life from our own unique universes.

You might think that would divide us, but instead it brings us closer together as we share our innermost thoughts with each other, and let each other into each other’s universes bit by bit.

Our women’s group is a sacred space where we can express our experiences and emotions without any judgment or comment. That is what our talking stick is for. It gives the person holding it the forum to express herself completely without any input from anyone else in the room.

This is a magical experience because knowing we are being heard for who we are transforms our beings. We come to truly understand and feel that, though we are all very different in some ways, we all have the right to share who we are unconditionally. And that’s what the talking stick gives us, unconditional expression of who we are as women, as people.

We have all been dealt from a different deck of cards, as one of our members so aptly expressed, and so we cannot imagine each other’s backgrounds or experiences; however, we can listen and hear each other, and that expands our own universe that much more each time we do.

I found out last evening that we all experience the universe or God differently. Some of us hear an inner voice, have a sense of our ancestors or a presence guiding us, others thrill in the marvels of nature, and still others dream and sense a deeper universe than the one we can see around us.

I have an inner voice who is with me all the time. She coaches me on how to be kinder with myself and also helps me make choices that are in accord with who I am. I also have dreams that are warnings, messages and guide me in my waking life. This coincides with my deep ability to sense people’s psychological states. I have always had this ability, and it has taken some getting used to.

I can sense someone thinking of harming themselves, and thinking of harming other people, even when I don’t know the person and have never spoken to them in my life. I can sense when people are thinking about me and connecting with me. I can also sense when someone has a physical problem that is life-threatening or will become that way over time.

These abilities have been overwhelming for me at times, and still often are. I’m not always sure how much to intervene in people’s lives. I realize people have a right to their personal privacy, but at the same time I can feel their suffering or their energy for a reason I believe, even though I’m not always sure why.

Coming to terms with these abilities has helped me understand why I don’t like being in large crowds or in enclosed spaces with a lot of people for a very long time. People’s energies bombard me and I can feel very overloaded very quickly.

Also I can become very distracted by certain people to the exclusion of almost everything else. I cannot choose when this is going to happen to me nor can I turn it off. I can try to disregard it, but that often doesn’t work very well or for very long.

My women’s group is the first place where I’ve actually been able to talk about my abilities without feeling like I’m crazy. Other women in the group share some of the same abilities as I do in their own form, and this has been very revolutionary for me. For the first time maybe ever I feel as if I’ve found my tribe. That when I speak someone in the room will truly understand what I’m expressing, and that means more to me than anything.

Our church has helped us grow within ourselves, which is everyone’s life journey. We cannot become who we are meant to be without finding a place within us where we feel we are being authentic. And finding a place outside of ourselves where we can be authentic too is, for me, the cherry on the cake. I have never had it completely before and I am transforming very rapidly because of it.

One very important idea that I took away from our group last night was that sharing and being heard are central to being a healthy and grateful person. Being able to express ourselves for who we are frees us from feeling a division between us and other people. That “us versus them” mentality that is so pervasive falls away. And when we shed that feeling of being separate, we come to feel that we are all truly one, no matter who we are or what our experiences may be. We all bring something extremely valuable to the universe simply by being here.

 

From the series, Write On! by Jacqueline Snider, writer and editor

Coming out of the male ego

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After coming out of my dark night of the soul, I have come to realize how important books are to who I am.

I have always been a big reader and writer, but only truly understood recently how important books are to me and my journey every day.

For a while, after leaving my last relationship and choosing to take the time to find myself, I really didn’t recognize myself. Some things that I’d set in motion in my life were still very important to me, but other things that I’d enjoyed and valued fell away.

I still believe in my spiritual journey and have been more involved in my church and been going to my women’s group, which I consider very important to who I am as a person.

I am writing even more than I was before and reading even more too. I have also started reviewing books on an online site and absolutely love it, much to my surprise. I had not felt like critiquing people’s books before, thinking it was kind of arrogant, but now I really enjoy the challenge of it, realizing my opinion is valuable and valued.

I used to go to a cafe almost every day to work, I had a favourite one I loved and I knew the owners and a lot of the regulars who came in, and I have stopped doing that completely. I haven’t been there in months, and when I think of going it just doesn’t feel right anymore. It no longer feels like me at all.

I have also stopped going on online dating sites. I realize I don’t like them at all and I’m not interested in dating anyone anyway. But I’m also not sure I like men that way anymore.

I am having trouble believing I will ever find a man who can love me for who I am and not primarily think of me as a play toy and sex object. I get the impression that most men spend time with women only to have sex with them, and not because they actually value women as people.

I am not a man hater at all. In fact my father is the gentlest man I’ve ever known and I absolutely love my son, but the men I’ve dated have left me feeling more like a doll they’d like dressed up a certain way than a person they’d like to know and spend time with.

They have often believed that they knew what was best for me (and unbelievably my son too) without knowing me for very long at all. I’ve had men tell me they’re not interested in hearing about my friends or the people who make up my life and are important to me, and then go on about their details of work as if I should hang on their every word.

They have told me how they believe I should raise my son or what I should do with my career without actually knowing me. I have come to realize that they were simply trying to turn me into someone “regular” that they could control because that made them feel more “comfortable.”

And of course I have not given in to these ridiculous attempts to “rule” my life, so they invariably found fault in me and blamed me for whatever they could rather than listen to what I had to say or actually get to know me as a real person, not just a pussy they wanted to keep around.

And so I am coming to the conclusion that I am not who I thought I was about men either. When I was younger I thought I was 100% straight, but as I’ve grown and changed I’m starting to believe I’m not.

The idea of spending time with women feels very freeing to me. I already read almost exclusively women’s writing and I have been deeply influenced by some amazing women writers who have definitely changed the course of my life.

And as I think more and more about how I’d like my life to unfold and what is important to who I am on an everyday basis, men really don’t come into it at all. This is really a new step for me and I’m not sure how I’m going to move forward from here.

I can only say that I’m not going on any dating sites looking for men. That I’m not wanting a boyfriend. I feel I have too many more important things to do with my time than deal with the male ego anymore. It would seem like such a waste of time to even bother.

So I am really not the person I used to be. In some ways I’ve stayed the same, but in some very big ways I’m completely different.

I do credit books and the women I’ve met through those books on influencing my life and helping me realize I really don’t need a man, and that actually my life would be a lot more peaceful without one.

To me there are not enough men who actually value women, and I find that extremely unattractive to the point of repulsion.

That said, I am beginning a new chapter of my life. One that feels authentic to me and for the first time ever I really don’t care what people think of me or how they feel about me, especially men.

And that is so f**king freeing you cannot imagine!

Or maybe you can…

 

From the series, Write On! by Jacqueline Snider, writer and editor

Why I’m giving up men: And super happy about it!

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I think any woman growing up in a patriarchal society is angry.

The anger is not always obvious, but it’s always there simmering under the surface.

Sometimes it boils over, like when we’re followed home by cat calls late at night. And we are suddenly reminded once again that to some men we’re not human. we’re a vagina. We’re there for their gratification only. And they don’t care if they scare us as long as they get what they want. They don’t care what we want.

They forget that they’re following and intimidating someone’s daughter, sister, mother, grandmother.

Or they just don’t care.

And then there is more subtle anger that we carry with us. The everyday anger.

It’s there because we’re told to smile when we look serious, or that our nose ring isn’t cute, or asked why we don’t wear shorts or dresses, or when we’re going to grow our hair.

All imposed ideas about what men want women to look like.

We’re supposed to smile even when we’re just being, and walk around looking like simpletons and idiots.

We’re not supposed to pierce our face because that changes our pretty faces. I was actually told by a guy I dated that if I’d had a nose ring he wouldn’t have dated me. Imagine! That really made me feel loved for who I am–not!

And why am I expected to wear shorts when I don’t want to. The implied hint is that the men want to see my legs. Or see me in dresses, which I never wear because I find them totally uncomfortable and impractical. Do dresses appeal to men because then we’re easier to rape? I wouldn’t be surprised if some sick sexual fantasies fall into that comment.

And what is it about guys always wanting women to have longer hair? They need to get over that stupid stereotype right now.

And women live with all sorts of culturally imposed ideas about what women should do and not do. Women should want to be with a man. Women are less without a man.

Why?

I actually feel much better without a man in my life because in my experience they’re immature, selfish, uncaring, manipulative and irresponsible. I can look after myself just fine without a man hanging around trying to tell me what to do with my time, my thoughts, my life. And the worst is when they try to tell me how to raise my son. I mean who the hell do they think they are?!

I am not a man hater. I actually like men. But I don’t like being in relationships with them. They seem to let me down on so many levels that I’ve realized it’s just not worth it anymore.

I can get on with my life much better without one. And then I can ignore all those subtle cues, and not so subtle ones, that my culture bombards me with every day.

If I don’t want a man then why the hell should I care whether I smile or not. I can go out tomorrow and get a nose ring happily knowing guys don’t find it cute, as if I care either way. I can not wear shorts or wear them not caring what effect that might have. And I can never wear a dress again as long as I live. And if I choose short hair one day then I do with no stupid consequences to consider.

I have effectively banished the male ego from my life.

And that is a really good feeling.

In fact I can’t remember ever feeling so free before.

And some men might be wondering how I could go without the sex.

And here’s a life-changing moment–the sex wasn’t that great men, so get over yourselves.

 

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From the series, Because I’m a woman and because I can! by Jacqueline Snider, writer and editor

Accepting I’m a writer, finally: It only took about 20 years…

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Have you ever felt as if writing weren’t a real job? That saying you’re a writer is kind of fanciful, and even selfish?

I absolutely have! It’s really ironic because I started reading when I was four and devoured as many books as I could from that time on. I mean I LOVE to read. I love reading stories about people’s lives, their actions, feelings, motivations, everything. And yet, I have struggled with the idea of being a writer for years. Yes, literally years!

Even when I have worked as a writer and editor professionally, I still struggled with the idea of being a novel writer. It was as if it weren’t a real job. That I couldn’t possibly do it and make money.

Who did I think wrote all those books I’ve read throughout the years? It was as if I had a blind spot. Other people can be novel writers, but not me.

And I didn’t really look at it rationally or question why.

That’s it exactly, I didn’t ask the most important question, why not me?

You’d think that someone who’d read so many books and loved them would naturally gravitate towards being a writer, but no. I swear I think I’ve fought the idea tooth and nail for years. Maybe my whole career, which is over 17 years now.

And why didn’t I ask the question? I believe it’s because I didn’t believe I deserved to have a job I completely loved. That I’d do whether I was paid for it or not. That felt more like a calling than work.

And since I’ve started writing my book again, it has suddenly come alive within me. I feel without a shadow of a doubt that writing my novel is what I’m meant to do. Since I finally pushed myself to do it, to take that first step, and then another and another, it is coming together for me.

I realize that not asking myself the question had a lot to do with not living my life for me. I’m sure I was worried what members of my family would say or even think. So I used the idea of not being able to make enough money as a fiction writer as an excuse not to try.

But there was always a part inside of me that worked on it. I spent hours and hours constructing the story and creating a scene weave. Then a while later I started writing it only to realize that my main character was the wrong person and too young. So I then recrafted the story and scene weaves and began again. And that time it worked, and I wrote about 80% of the first draft and stopped. That was about three years ago, but here I am writing it again. And this time I know I’m going to finish it.

Because this time it feels different because I feel different. I finally feel as if I have the right to be a fiction writer. That I would actually be denying myself if I didn’t finish my book and keep writing.

This is all so new to me, feeling worthy. Feeling as if I have the right to be who I am deep inside. In an odd way I feel as if I’ve finally grown up, come into my own. And I am so thankful I finally have.

I can’t live my life being someone I’m not anymore. And because of this decision I’ve had people walk away from me. Was I afraid of that in the first place? Possibly. But anyone who can’t let me be me, isn’t good for me anyway. It is better they keep on walking.

But I’m staying right here with me because I’m a novel writer and I’m going to do it this time.

 

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From the series, Write On! by Jacqueline Snider, writer and editor

How fear can stall your writing: And how to get back on track, one page at a time

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A never-ending novel

Before I started working on my book again, I thought it would take me forever to finally finish it.

I felt as if I were standing at the bottom of a really high mountain looking up, and had a long trek to get up there. The tip of the mountain was even obscured by clouds, so I didn’t know quite how tall it was. Unreachable was the word that popped into my mind over and over.

And then one day I decided I couldn’t put it off anymore. I’d decided that my book was going to get written, and I committed to writing on a regular schedule so that it actually happened.

And do you know what? My perception of the mountain totally changed.

The novel that became endable

It no longer looked all that tall or unreachable anymore. In fact, withing three months, I will likely reach the top–the end of my first draft.

So what felt like it would never come to an end is actually going to much sooner than I ever expected.

How did this happen? How could I see things so differently from one week to another?

I realized it’s all about my perception.

Sidelines versus action

When I was sitting on the sidelines looking up thinking, “Wow, that’s soooo tall!” I wasn’t doing anything. I was stalled. Maybe even intimidated, and a bit afraid.

But then something inside of me said, “This fear sucks and I’m tired of it. I’m going up there, ready or not!” and I did. I put one foot in front of the other, writing one page at a time, and suddenly the mountain became only a hill–and one I can totally climb.

Isn’t this so true of many things in our lives? When we stand back and think of the end it seems unattainable, but when we break it down and work at it bit by bit it gets handled. Even if we’re not quite sure we know what we’re doing when we begin.

Just like

  • parenting,
  • building our education,
  • building our career,
  • learning about ourselves as we grow and change,
  • learning about relationships,
  • gaining friends and losing them,
  • being part of a family,
  • becoming independent.

I admit that my book is writing itself through me and has been since the beginning. That may have frightened me for a while, but I’ve learned to accept the fear and act through it by continuing to write.

And now that I’ve faced my fear, that big old scary tall mountain, it’s become my hill that I can climb in a short time.

I won’t underestimate the power of acting again. I used to feel like I had no control over ever finishing this book, but now I realize I was giving my power away because of fear.

I will try my best not to do that again because I’m already partly up that hill so the top gets closer every day.

 

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From the series, Write On! by Jacqueline Snider, writer and editor

Today’s a perfect writing day: It’s overcast and raining

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There are definitely days where I find it easier to go into my office, close the door and write. I don’t feel as if I’m missing anything, well at least not much.

For me, the beautiful sunny days of the summer are the hardest to work on. I can take my laptop outside and work on the patio, but I can’t focus the same way as when I’m in my office.

Then of course there are the squirrels who come around and beg for seeds, and the birds that sing and land on our lawn to eat. Sometimes the rabbit comes out, and even the occasional skunk. I can hear the wind singing through the leaves on the trees, and I think of summer vacations up at the cottage where I could totally disconnect and be one with nature around me.

None of this is conducive to serious writing.

I wonder if I lived in a warm climate all the time, if I’d get used to the heat and sun and beauty and wildlife, and then be able to concentrate once again? Living here in Canada, where we have four distinct seasons, has caused me to always feel that summer is meant for vacation. Our summer is so short and so wonderful that it just seems like the time to play hooky, to walk aimlessly by a lake, to play in the sand, the listen to the birdsong and watch the sun go down in a comfortable chair on the deck. After all, that’s how I spent my summers as a child, so that routine got imprinted on my soul. And I like it.

Maybe one day when I’m a famous writer and I’m making scads of money selling my books, I’ll be able to take the summers off. What a fun idea that is. There I’ll add that to my wish list.

Hey, if you don’t dream then you never know!

 

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From the series, Write On! by Jacqueline Snider, writer and editor

A writer’s negative self-talk: It’s BS, aren’t you happy to hear?!

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That negative self-talk we love to hate

Do you ever hear yourself saying in your head, “I can’t make any serious money from writing!” or “I’m going to end up a starving writer or a drunk or both!” or “What if I write a book and no one wants to publish it?!” or “What if I write a query and the editor thinks I’m an idiot and never opens my emails again?” and so on?

I do. I hear variations on all those questions moving through my head, especially when I’m feeling disheartened by the writing life. We writers delve deeply into the lives and therefore the emotional lives of our characters, or the topics for our articles and posts, often work in seclusion, and have to push ourselves daily to keep at it, to not give up long before anyone “shows us the money” so to speak.

So why do we write anyway?

Well, I’m sure the answer varies for everyone, but a lot of us I think feel it like a calling. If I don’t write regularly I feel as if I’m practically going through what I imagine withdraw symptoms feel like; I have trouble sitting still, my mind starts to jump all over the place, I have trouble following a conversation and I can even shake a bit. And I begin to feel distinctly disconnected from myself. That’s the worst. I literally feel lost.

That negative self-talk is BS though because we all know of SO MANY writers who make lots of money writing books, blogs, articles and on and on. No it’s not that we believe it can’t be done, it just that it’s such an exposing job.

I guess if you’re writing white papers or technical work it’s not as emotional, and that’s still a great way to make money as a writer, if that floats your boat. But when you’re writing something you’ve poured your heart into like a novel or non-fiction book or a magazine query or blog, it’s a pretty lonely feeling once you’re ready to release it to the world. It feels kind of like getting up in front of your elementary school class and showing them your favourite toy. What if they make fun of you or laugh at you or even worse steal your favourite toy (I had my original rubix cube stolen and I’ve never forgotten it!)? A very exposing feeling.

And did any of you ever take your second favourite toy to avoid the risk? To not feel as vulnerable? I bet we all did at one time or another. But when we’re writing, if we’re playing it safe and not giving it our all because we’re afraid of being rejected then we’re setting ourselves up for less than we deserve.

Writing is about being exposed

It’s about being real. And it takes real courage to do it. But it’s like any other skill, any other art, you’ve got to start at the beginning and keep going and practicing and doing it. Just like professional athletes who begin as children and fall and get up and lose and win. It’s the same progression. I think sometimes our egos get in the way and we forget that. We think we should get that first contract or get published immediately or suddenly have a million followers, but it doesn’t work like that, and if we take a step back and look in from the outside, we know it’s about hard work, perseverance, time, dedication, belief in ourselves and drive.

But there is a payoff. If you do keep at it and believe in yourself, and ultimately be who you truly are, and nothing less, then it will all come together for you. Maybe not immediately, but it will. Just ask J. K. Rowling, Christiane Northrup, Kate Norton, Diana Gabaldon, Laurie King, Jenny Lawson, Jacqueline Winspear and so many more!

I say, if they can do it then so can we!

 

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From the series, Write On! by Jacqueline Snider, writer and editor

Journalling to honour myself: Writing has saved my life

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Journalling through my life

I have been writing a journal for over 35 years. I began as a young girl as a way to express feelings I couldn’t any other way. And also feelings I couldn’t understand.

I didn’t have a safe person close to me that I could confide in. And even though my father is very kind, he doesn’t do emotions very well. Expressing them are not comfortable for him. He was affectionate with me as a child, but doesn’t say he loves me out loud. And me being very happy or excited by something or upset and crying, he just doesn’t know how to handle. Everything needs to be kept on an even keel for him.

And he was the only adult in my life who was ever consistent and reliable and kind to me.

So turning to writing was a natural way for me to express all those emotions, questions, ideas that come up all the time in my mind.

Grateful for my journal

And I’m eternally thankful for it. Journalling is something I do every morning and often before I go to sleep too. It’s like a form of meditation for me. It’s the way I talk to my inner being.

I haven’t always been able to tell myself the whole truth, and therefore I would hide certain things from other people too, but I no longer do that. I have learned that feeling ashamed of who I am hurts myself most of all.

Sometimes I felt ashamed for the way people treated me. I wasn’t in control of situations that came up when I was a child, and those experiences hurt me deeply. I carried that shame inside of me and as I matured and grew into a woman and mother they changed and came out in different ways.

My journal knows all about what’s happened to me, and I have a shelf next to my bed with all my journals from all the years. They’re my private world that I believe is sacred, and a record of me growing as a human being.

I can honestly say that I believe writing has saved me.

How has journalling saved me?

  • It’s allowed me to express things I couldn’t tell anyone else.
  • It’s helped me feel rooted in my life, and a part of something larger than just any worries or concerns I have in my mind.
  • It also brings me peace. I feel more calm and centred after I write in my journal.
  • At it helps me connect with my inner voice, and that’s been invaluable.

I was not encouraged to be truly who I am as a child, and so many people grow up that way. I was considered a black sheep by some of my mother’s family, simply because I am different. And my father’s family found me a scary element because I grew up in the “dangerous” city, while they lived in the country. There was no inclusiveness, it was more the highlighting of our differences.

I have learned that I am who I am, and as long as I understand myself it doesn’t matter if others are able to see me for who I am or not. My family doesn’t but I have my friends and my tribe who do. I have my own life to live, and journalling will always be a big part of it.

 

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From the series, Write On! by Jacqueline Snider, writer and editor

Back to writing: Why are my characters being rebellious? They’re just fictional, right?!

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I read through the first draft of my novel. I have 68 pages done and about 40 more to come I think.

I’m beginning the most intricate part of my novel, the ending. When it all comes together. Or when the shit hits the fan depending on how you want to look at it.

As I was reading the first draft, I realized in some ways my characters have done things I didn’t expect them to do. Before I began my book, I worked out a story weave and each character very clearly, but even then situations started popping up as I wrote.

Characters became spontaneous with ideas of their own and even I wondered what they were thinking or talking about. How can a fictional character decide to change my well-planned story? Well, they just can, as I’ve realized.

It’s an exceptional experience when you’re writing and one of your characters does something unexpected. It’s like a “Who’s writing this anyway?” moment. Am I writing the character or is the character writing through me? I still don’t really have an answer for that.

I have learned to just believe in the process and keep going. Even though sometimes I kind of scratch my head in wonder.

And as I read events or dialogue I didn’t anticipate, I realized I’m not sure what is going to happen or even what some of the characters are going to do as my novel moves along and comes to a conclusion.

In my head I’m working on the first of a trilogy. That’s how I envisioned it, but I guess I’ll have to see what my characters want.

I know they’ll be another book after this one because I can kind of see it a bit in my mind’s eye. Some images, some feelings percolating. So the story will continue. That’s good.

I am back to working on my book. I’d like to have the second draft done by the end of this year so I can send it out to my trusted friends for some critiques. I hope that works out. It’s been years I’ve been working on this book. And as I’ve said before, I don’t believe I could’ve written the end until now.

I needed to figure out some things in my own life before I could progress with my main character. Writing is art after all. It takes the time that it takes.

 

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From the series, Write On! by Jacqueline Snider, writer and editor

My women’s group comes through again: Being on sabbatical in everyday life

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My women’s group on Monday night was as amazingly magical as usual.

The topic was sabbaticals, what are they and how they are meaningful (and so necessary) in our lives.

The host was our minister, and she explained her recent 3-month sabbatical to us and how we can all use them in our lives.

The topic was particularly relevant to me because I have been on a sabbatical of sorts for the last four months. It has been a period of inner reflection, coming to terms with who I am, where I’m going and who I want to be.

Two events in my life started off my sabbatical. My fiance broke up with me and I had an epiphany with my mother.

The two are not entirely unrelated, as I came to realize.

My fiance was verbally aggressive with me so I left and he broke up with me.

My mother was verbally aggressive with me and a bully during most of my childhood and I left her too. I moved from Toronto to Montreal at the age of 18 to go to university. I didn’t know a soul here. I never moved back.

I don’t regret either decision.

My ex-fiance and I have been airing our grievances and feelings for each other on and off over the last couple months.

My mother and I have been doing the same for the last 15 years. Until this Christmas.

This Christmas was different.

I had forgiven her and she no longer made me edgy or uncomfortable to be near her. I had come to trust I’d defend myself and that she’d behave. And we had a heart to heart that happened quite naturally at the dining room table.

My step-father was there too and he asked me why I’d want to be in a relationship with an aggressive man. I looked at him and I looked at my mom and said, “Because I lived that with my mother so I keep continuing the pattern in my relationships.”

That was a moment I never expected to live. Why? Because abusers don’t often admit nor regret their abuse.

But as I looked at my mother such pain and regret crossed her face. I never ever expected to see that moment. I didn’t even believe she felt that way.

As a girl it was obvious to me that she enjoyed hurting me and causing me to collapse in sobs on the floor. That she wanted to unhinge me and make me feel like nothing.

That was the mother I grew up with. And if she wasn’t being verbally abusive she was neglecting me and treating me as if I were inconvenient. And these patterns have repeated in my personal relationships time and time again.

And these two events have changed me in ways I never could have predicted.

I have been on sabbatical inside myself. It’s as if I’m on a mission to heal myself completely. And be able to truly let my anger go.

This has been really scary. I don’t feel like the person I was in a lot of ways. I often don’t recognize myself.

I am more open. I am bolder. I am calmer. I feel very vulnerable, but free at the same time. I cry easily and often, over sad things and happy things. I stopped drinking alcohol and caffeine drinks. I have switched to a mostly paleo diet. I am no longer overspending or being extravagant with my money. I no longer feel trapped. I started yoga. I am knitting again.

But there’s more. I no longer feel vulnerable expressing my true feelings. It has taken some considerable effort, but I have broken through that part of me that felt I needed to earn people’s love because I wasn’t worthy of love for who I am. That stopped me from saying things that I thought might turn people off or send them away.

But now I truly get the idea that if you are yourself with someone and they don’t want to be with you, then they are not meant to be with you. It’s as simple as that.

It’s not about them being mean or spiteful or whatever, it’s just about them being them and me being me. And it’s not as if I don’t have a choice in the matter. I don’t think I really believed I did sometimes before, but now I see very keenly I do.

And my intuition told me if your with someone you’re meant to be with them, and if you’re not with them then you’re not.

It’s that simple.

So I am coming to terms with not being in a relationship anymore. And I have laid things to rest with my mother.

I care about them both. Likely always will.

But I know deep inside myself that standing up for myself and defending who I am has got me here. It’s been a hard road, and I’m still on it, but I am more for all that I’ve learned, and for all that I am.

 

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From the series, Because I’m a woman and because I can! by Jacqueline Snider, writer and editor

Denial, and lies we tell ourselves: They ruin relationships

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I feel as if something is changing.

Do you ever feel like that? As if you can feel something has altered and your life has become different?

That’s how I feel today.

It happens to me sometimes. It’s like a moment that settles into my very body, even my soul. I don’t always find out what I’m sensing, but sometimes I do.

I have been watching Hinterland, a TV series from Wales. It is fantastic, raw, brilliantly emotional and tragic, but hopeful too.

One of the main themes is how lies and denial affect our lives, sometimes in some terribly tragic ways. How events, moments not talked about, not acknowledged, buried can create psychoses that manifest in strangely clear ways years later.

The pain doesn’t go away it festers and alters into something almost alive. It consumes the people who feel it, and it gnaws away at their very soul. Until they do something…

I have experienced denial in my life, and I’ve seen others do it. And it does ruin relationships, but foremost our relationship with our self.

Because denial and lies become almost real, we come to believe them and then they twist into our relationships and ruin those too.

And then where are we but alone with our mixed up selves.

I’ve done it. And I’ve been with people who’ve done it. Who do it. They can’t seem to learn.

And the person who looks back at you about an issue, something you’ve done that they can’t let go, for sure are doing it themselves.

My ex-fiance thought I was being irresponsible with money, and in a way I was in denial about my debts and my financial situation, and I fixed it. I’m still working on it, but I took concrete steps to fix it.

But still he went on and on about it and I thought, why? And then he got speeding ticket after speeding ticket. He bought a new car and very quickly had an accident, so his car went into the shop. He’d had too many accidents, too many claims and his insurance company cancelled his coverage.

He said he thought he had bad karma.

But his licence must cost a lot to renew with all those demerit points from speeding. The accidents always cost some money because you pay your deductible. You pay for towing. And what about the inconvenience, the drama in your life that’s really pointless. Your time is worth a lot. And then when your company cancels your insurance, how much are you going to pay with a new company with such a poor driving record?

And then of course there’s the why?

Why does he speed? Why is he reckless? Why does he take the chance with his own life, and other people’s lives? And if he thinks I’m irresponsible with money, well, what about him? He’s spending useless money on avoidable things. Things he can change by simply slowing down. He’s being reckless with lives.

But he doesn’t slow down. No, he thinks he has bad karma.

He doesn’t have bad karma, he’s in denial. Just like I was about my financial situation. But I’m not anymore. But he still is. He’s angry with his insurance company for cancelling his insurance, but what about facing the fact that he’s a reckless driver and he needs to stop that. To stop being dangerous on the road. The universe is giving him lots of signs that HE needs to change, but all he can do is blame his karma.

And how does his denial hurt his family? His friends? They all worry about him, but he doesn’t worry about himself. He just wants to do whatever HE wants to do. Fuck the consequences.

That’s denial. That’s telling yourself lies. And that hurts everyone, but especially himself. Because I’ve learned that my denial cost me a lot and his denial is too.

He must know deep down inside that it’s his fault. That his behaviour is only his, he’s responsible for it. But he’s not changing. He may end up killing himself or other people, or injuring himself. The universe keeps trying to teach us a lesson and they get harder and harder as it keeps trying.

And so I feel a change coming over me. Yes, I was in denial, yes, I made choices I regret, but I never hurt anyone with them except mostly me.

We’ve got to learn to forgive ourselves and face who we are. No one is perfect. And everyone is important. We’re here for a reason.

We have to look at the why behind our behaviour.

If we don’t do that everyone suffers.

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From the series, Because I’m a woman and because I can! by Jacqueline Snider, writer and editor

Fanning my inner fire: Friends who speak from the heart

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Many years ago I was invited to speak at a book club, the members wanted to hear what the role of an editor is in the writing process.

I am a writer and an editor, and I mostly edit books, so I agreed to go and talk a bit and answer their questions.

One of the members has kept in touch with me throughout the years, mostly on social media or by email, and we’ve kept up a friendship this way. (We keep saying we’ll meet for coffee, but we haven’t done that yet.)

He’s a writer by profession as well, and a very good one.

We don’t talk about writing, however. We talk about life.

It is fabulous for me to have a friendship with a man who lets me see his inner soul. He recently shared with me a very unsettling emotional experience that he lived last September, and I was able to see into his heart.

Despite the fact that I’ve had many boyfriends, and been in lots of relationships and two marriages, I have rarely seen into a man’s heart. An irony that has not been lost on me.

I am at the point in my life where if people don’t let me into their heart I don’t feel I can connect with them, so him sharing his experience with me was really profound. It was exactly what I needed that day too.

My fiance broke up with me in September 2017, and since then I’ve been coming to terms with yet another failed relationship. I know I can look upon the endings as learning experiences, and to a certain extent they are, but they’re also very heartbreaking and sad too. The learning for me comes after the heartbreak heals a bit.

I know my inability to choose relationships that are sustainable has been because of the abuse I suffered through as a child. I have no doubt that the two are connected. But there’s more going on than that.

There is a self-destructiveness that comes with being an abuse survivor and in my case that ended up manifesting as depression and anxiety. I simply didn’t feel lovable as a child, and therefore I didn’t love myself.

I’ve said this to people out loud, in person and the looks I can get are pretty amazing. They range from “What the hell are you talking about? Are you crazy?” to “I so get that, I’ve had trouble loving myself too.” And the ones who think I’m crazy so don’t love themselves. And I identified with them because I didn’t either.

But I’m learning that I must love myself wholeheartedly and truly to have a sustainable relationship. It’s that simple, and that complex all at once.

So if I haven’t loved myself through all these relationships then I certainly won’t have seen anyone’s heart. That has become very clear to me too.

When my friend sent me his work on his experiences that had caused him so much emotional turmoil and suffering, I knew I had turned a corner. A man was sharing his heartfelt feelings with me. I was blessed.

And he shared them with me I think because he knew I’d get them, that I’d understand, that I cared, and that I’d had a hard 2017 too. And I love that.

In healing himself, he’s helped heal me. And that’s the biggest gift there is in this world full of people cut off from their inner selves, and broken.

Because all it took was seeing the possibility of someone else’s heart that gave me the courage to love my own, and see my own.

I watched a video of Will Smith’s this morning and he said we need to surround ourselves with people who fan our creative fires, not with people who piss on them.

Exactly!

If I stop pissing on my own fires then I won’t let anyone else do it either.

And my friend who showed me his heart definitely fans my fire.

 

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From the series, Because I’m a woman and because I can! by Jacqueline Snider, writer and editor

The flu and my period AT THE SAME TIME: I middle finger whoever came up with this idea!

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I am coming up with a rule that I’m going to present to the Goddess Above saying:

It is strictly forbidden for any woman to have the flu and her period at the same time. It is unfair to her sense of womanhood to be bombarded with the flu bug (whatever the hell it is this year) and her normal menstrual cycle, that can already make her feel like she’s been hit by a MAC truck. Women everywhere deserve more consideration for how crappy, achy and vulnerable they can feel at any one time.

 

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From the series, Because I’m a woman and because I can! by Jacqueline Snider, writer and editor

Surviving towards thriving: Finding my wings

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I was looking back through my journal before my breakdown about five years ago.

I could see very clearly that I was becoming more and more out of touch with my real life. I made comments that were more hope-based than actual. And even my handwriting didn’t look like me. It was more chicken scrawl than cursive.

I remember talking with a neighbour of mine who took the commuter train with me in the morning to work and one day she mentioned that she’d had two breakdowns and was hospitalized more than once for depression.

I had sat across from this together-looking woman for over a year by then, a woman who I’d always found very friendly and upbeat, and she was admitting to me that she’d fallen apart at one point in her life. And not only at one point, but at two!

I believe that after her admission, I finally felt I had the right to take a time-out from my life too. Deep within myself I knew I was coming apart. I may not have been admitting it to myself because I was holding it all together the best I could, but I was unravelling.

After I was in the emergency with gallbladder disease and I had it removed that was really when it all hit the fan. The months following my surgery and recovery, I spiralled down.

I really appreciate my neighbour telling me about her experiences because it gave me the permission (vicariously) to look after myself, and my inner child.

And for me the journey began four years ago and I’m still living it. My actual breakdown and absence from my work only lasted about four months, but my inner journey has never ceased.

My psychologist shortly after I entered therapy with her told me that I’m a survivor. And I am, that is pretty obvious.

But recently I have realize that’s not enough.

I can’t continue my life only surviving because that’s not healthy or real for me.

I can’t imagine what it’s like to not have been a victim of child abuse. I can only learn from what life gave me, both the bad and the good.

My experiences are starting to coalesce inside me and combined with all the books I’ve read and the inner-searching and healing I’ve done, something is bubbling to the surface.

It may be a book, an idea for this blog that’s more concrete or a way of life for me to thrive and not only survive.

Or it may be all of these things put together.

All I know for sure is that something inside of me can no longer accept just subsisting within myself.

My inner being wants more for me than that.

It’s an exciting time because I’ve worked very hard healing myself and learning to respect who I am to get here.

I will continue my journey and keep you posted.

I almost feel as if I sloughing off an old version of myself and birthing a new one. One that was always there, just waiting inside me for the right time to come forth and show her wings.

 

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From the series, Because I’m a woman and because I can! by Jacqueline Snider, writer and editor

Expressing our inner questions: Writing and reading as therapy

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Writing was something I started as a very young girl.

I could read when I was four and my earliest journals started after my best friend was killed in a fire when I was five, he was only six. That was not something I could make sense of. I wrote from the age of five on about events or feelings I needed to work through or couldn’t understand.

It was a real blessing that I was able to read at four because that was when my mother became abusive with me in earnest. Books have been an escape for me since then, and a fantastic source of information and support.

I remember waking up early and running down to the kitchen and getting a bowl of cereal, bringing it up to my room and curling back up in bed with a book. I read for so long that I’d hear the church bells ring from the church up our street. I used to love that ritual, and did it many times because I remember opening one of my windows so I could hear the bells more clearly. They were always hopeful for me.

And so it is no surprise that I’m a writer and editor. What else would I be after all? Considering how words have helped me make it through my life. Oh, I’ve tried other things: secretary, waitress, sales person. But they haven’t stuck because I always come back to words.

I write every day at least once in my journal, I write this blog, I’m working on a book (or at least trying to) and I edit freelance as well. I am going to start looking for freelance writing work too. Sometimes it comes to me, but I’d like to do it regularly. I find reaching out to people through social media very fulfilling.

It has opened up an avenue to share myself with people that didn’t exist when I was younger.

I have recently been reading Kelly Brogan’s book A Mind of Your Own and watching her videos. I am one of the few people who truly benefited from taking an antidepressant. As soon as I started taking it I could feel my mind stop racing, my nausea abating and my anxiety slowly lessening. But at the time I was already following a reduced diet because I’d developed temporary allergies from having gallbladder disease. After my gallbladder was removed I changed my diet for a year to eliminate the allergies. It worked.

What works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another. And I don’t eat dairy because I’m intolerant (though sometimes I cheat and eat a slice of pizza or a small ice cream cone). But Kelly Brogan needed to change her diet to feel healthy again and I respect that.

What I’m interested in is her discussion about childhood abuse and depression because for me I know there’s a definite link. What my mother did was bullying and gaslighting, which for a four-year-old girl is more than devastating.

Gaslighting is a form of intimidation or psychological abuse, sometimes called Ambient Abuse where false information is presented to the victim, making them doubt their own memory, perception and quite often, their sanity. The classic example of gaslighting is to switch something around on someone that you know they’re sure to notice, but then deny knowing anything about it, and to explain that they “must be imagining things” when they challenge these changes.

A more psychological definition of gaslighting is “an increasing frequency of systematically withholding factual information from, and/or providing false information to, the victim–having the gradual effect of making them anxious, confused and less able to trust their own memory and perception.

I got these definitions from the Urban Dictionary.

And that was my young life. So no wonder reading and writing were such a solace to me. I could express myself freely in my journal, one of the only places I felt safe and I could live through other people through all the books I read and loved.

As I got older I was drawn to the self-help books that started me on my journey to healing. I have read so many and they’ve all helped me the way I needed help at different points in my life.

I just finished A Mind At Home With Itself by Byron Katie. An absolutely life-changing book that has affected me so profoundly in every way, but especially in the way I treat and perceive myself, and therefore, of course, others.

I am almost finished The Proof by James Twyman. The first time I picked that up I could only get about halfway through, but I am almost finished so I’m going to make it this time.

I also picked up Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life a while ago and again got halfway through. It’s likely time I started that one again. I have come a long way and the books that threatened me before are now speaking to me. I love that!

I often find books just at the right time. I can’t always read them through the first time, but I come back to them and they heal me eventually.

So I am very fortunate to have found Kelly Brogan. In a way I feel like she’s taking up the mantel for women’s health similarly to what Christiane Northrup did. And I know Christiane totally helped me with decisions in my life, and she still does.

I love that Kelly Brogan is coming from a psychological point of view towards women’s health, and people’s health in general that gives alternatives to drugs and helplessness. I know after I had my breakdown I wondered if I’d ever be able to support myself and my son again, I felt as if I’d lost it and wasn’t sure I could get it back.

That’s what books do they give you the wisdom from other people’s experiences and minds. And I’m so thankful for the role of writing and editing in my life.

It is the person I’ve always been and am meant to be. I love that, and through reading and writing I give my contribution to my world.

As Jesus said, “Be in this world, but not of this world.”

He would’ve been a book lover, I just know it!

 

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From the series, Because I’m a woman and because I can! by Jacqueline Snider, writer and editor

The hot and cold of novel writing: Is it writer’s block or inner growth?

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I have written about 80% of my first draft. And then stopped.

I’m not sure why.

My characters are moving through my head, and sometimes I even hear them speaking to me, but for a few months now I haven’t worked on my novel. And it’s been in the works–from scene weave to first draft–for years!

Why?

I have asked myself this many, many times. And castigated myself too for maybe not being driven, being too lazy, not being able to focus, not believing in myself… The list goes on.

And as I was in the shower this morning (a great place to think by the way!) I realized that a novel is like any other work of art.

If you asked a painter why it took them years to finish a certain work, they might say they had to grow within themselves before the work finished itself. And so it is I believe with me.

I needed to get to a certain place in my own inner world before my main character could as well. And since she is coming alive through me, I guess that makes perfect sense now that I think about it.

My first draft is printing away next to me, and I will read it through to get back into the story once again. Then I will sit down every morning and write.

Wish me luck.

And I hope all you writers out there don’t give up.

Writing is a rather lonely endeavour, but the benefits are so broad.

Just think of how wonderful a beautiful book affects your heart and your soul, and remember your work could do the same for someone too.

So please, please, please, write on!

 

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From the series, Write on! by Jacqueline Snider, writer and editor

Perception transforms our choices

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Choices, life is about the choices we make.

I’ve heard many wise people, people who I respect, say this. And to a certain extent it’s true.

But even more so I believe our life choices are based on our perceptions.

Only six months ago, I perceived my world very differently than I do now.

My inner world has changed–the way I perceive myself, who I am–and therefore my perceptions of my outer world have changed in stride as well.

Because I don’t see myself the same way, I don’t see others the way I did either.

I have found this change in my perception very freeing, and very transformative.

For me, it has been a very positive experience.

I am kinder with myself, more accepting of my mistakes and my ability to take responsibility for them, first within myself and then with anyone I need to.

I can face myself without shame or guilt, and that is very new for me.

And because I’m able to do that, I can face others without shame or guilt as well.

I can tell a person that I feel I’ve treated poorly that I accept that I did and that I’m truly sorry. I no longer expect myself to be perfect, and therefore I no longer expect anyone else to be either.

Because perfection sets everyone up to fail. No one can ever be perfect, so no one is ever good enough.

Living in a life perceived as continually unattainable is a recipe for guilt and shame to combine and grow.

And I lived that life until very recently.

There is a kindness about the universe, the world we live in, that I firmly believe in now.

But as I was growing up I didn’t.

I experienced pain and punishment and random cruelty.

So I brought that into my adult life unknowingly.

And that perception filtered through all the rest of my life. My relationships, my work, my connection with myself.

But now that that is over, my choices are very different. Even when I’m in the same situations as six months ago, my way of seeing them and therefore handling them is different. Changed. Transformed.

I am grateful for the people in my life who have not given up on me through it all. The people I love who have allowed me to make the mistakes, and come back after and apologize and move on.

It is through these generous people that I know deep down inside myself that my world is kind. And for me that has changed everything.

 

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From the series, Because I’m a woman and because I can! by Jacqueline Snider, writer and editor

Use your voice and your word: You’re more powerful than you know

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The speech that Oprah made at the Golden Globes was so very important. Not only for young girls watching the show, but for everyone who has ever been victimized in any way.

She is an amazing speaker, and respected by many because of her outstanding accomplishments and her unending search for the truth. And coming from the background she did, her speech had all the more credibility.

She has bravely admitted in front of millions of people the sexual abuse she endured as a girl, and her resulting pregnancy. And how she felt losing that child was an opportunity for her to be who she needed to be.

So when Oprah stood there in front of a room filled with women and men who had been preyed upon by powerful men in their industry, she was speaking to a room of courageous people who have used their voices to help heal everyone.

Coming out about being sexually assaulted is an extremely courageous act. Standing up and saying, “I’ve been a victim!” is one of the hardest things a person can do. Because you feel at fault, that you should’ve been stronger or smarter to be able to avoid or get out of the situation. That it shouldn’t have happened to you.

But when we hear the voices of so many who have been assaulted, we know it happens far more than we ever imagined. And that we’re not at fault for being in a certain place at a certain time. We are not at fault for people’s sick ideas of their right to invade another person’s personal space. Another person’s intimate life.

I cannot know why a person feels like forcing someone to do something they don’t want to do. I cannot know why that excites them or makes them feel powerful. It’s a sickness, but where it originates is likely as unique as each person and their experiences.

The fact that it is so pervasive is extremely disturbing.

Where has this originated in our collective psyches? And why do so many men feel they can get away with it? Because they have been getting away with it over and over since time began.

But as Oprah said, “It ends here! And it ends now!” An historical moment for victims everywhere.

It brought goose bumps to my body when she said that. I could feel a shiver run through me.

And it is all about using your voice and speaking your personal truth.

It takes great courage to speak our personal truths.

I read blogs every day where people are doing exactly that. They are speaking up for who they are and where they’ve been and where they’re going.

And they’re all amazing.

And all amazingly courageous.

Today I’m thankful for the voice and the word because without them the victimization of vulnerable people would continue.

I believe this is only a small drop of awareness in a large ocean, but it is a very important drop because it will spread waves out into many aspects that we aren’t even aware of yet.

And that is what our voices and our words are all about.

 

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From the series, Because I’m a woman and because I can! by Jacqueline Snider, writer and editor

Feeling free–It’s about beliefs

It’s one of those days where I feel as if something is changing drastically.

As if my world is moving very differently.

I sat writing this morning wondering what was going on around me. What could I feel so keenly?

And then I thought about it some more and realized that it was more likely something going on inside of me than outside of me.

I tend to attribute changes to my exterior world, at least at first, but I have learned with experience that in a lot of ways we create our own realities.

And I have been feeling very different inside myself for the last few months. I would say it began in September and hasn’t ceased since then.

Of course, the changes within me have happened gradually. Bit by bit parts of me have kind of woken up. The possibility for awareness was always there, but just hadn’t opened its eyes yet. My eyes are now open.

I have been dreaming a lot. And my last dream really made me think.

Dream: I was walking down a hallway with doors on either side and bright light coming from the end of the hallway in front of me. A woman was standing off to the side in one of the doorways and she told me to do something. I very quickly and decisively told her why I wouldn’t, that her request was unreasonable and holding my shoulders square and my back straight, I kept walking right past her without looking back, and walked into the light at the end of the hallway. The woman was shocked and watched me continue walking in disbelief.

I believe the woman was my old self.

I used to believe I wasn’t lovable. That I wasn’t worthy of other people’s love and respect. I don’t believe that anymore.

I used to believe I couldn’t support myself and my son. That I didn’t have what it took to look after myself and my son in this world. I don’t believe that anymore.

I used to believe that being in a relationship meant being treated as second and being disrespected. I no longer believe that anymore.

I used to believe that I had to sacrifice my own happiness for that of my parents. I no longer believe that anymore.

And though I have been coming to these realizations since I left home at 18, it has still taken me 27 years to fully learn these lessons by degrees.

Because I grew up in a household where I was taught I was inconvenient, a nuisance, a suck, less than in pretty much every way, I grew up believing I was unlovable.

And that trickled down into everything else I did. Even though I was a very good student, and was praised highly by my teachers, I never felt good enough. And even though I went on to get a good education, I still believed I couldn’t support myself and my son.

And because my relationship with one of my parents was abusive, I believed that being in a relationship included abuse. So I accepted being treated as second and disrespected.

And sacrificing who I was for my parents was part of the abusive cycle and also being an only child. So much pressure was put on me to look after things when I was far too young, in some ways my parents actually reversed the parent-child role with me.

It is only within the last year or two that I’ve learned to have fun and not take life so seriously. In other words, I’ve stopped being so goddamned hard on myself.

And I laugh a lot more and worry a lot less. And I believe in myself.

This is not a coincidence. We are so often harder on ourselves than anyone else. And take responsibility for others who really are not ours to carry on our shoulders at all.

But I have learned that some people are lazy. Becoming, growing, changing is a lot of hard work, and most people simply don’t want to do it. So they latch onto someone else who they expect to do it for them.

I have been that someone. And when they weren’t happy with their lives, who do you think they blamed? Me. So much easier to blame me than for them to actually grow up and take responsibility for themselves.

But that woman walking down that hallway towards the light was refusing to carry anyone else any longer. I believe that was the look of shock and disbelief on the other woman’s face.

I used to think that if I didn’t carry people no one would love me. I no longer believe that any more.

And no wonder my world looks and feels different. Carrying those false beliefs around must have been a heavy load, and must have obscured my view of my world too.

If my world looks different, I believe that’s a good thing. I am finally seeing myself for who I really am, not who others have wanted, needed or expected me to be.

I feel free. Now I think I’ll go dance and giggle some more.

 

 

 

 

When abusers come to visit

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I have some guests coming up for the weekend. My mother and my step-father.

When I talk about being abused as a child, it was by my mother.

And, yes, I do still let her into my home. Why?

  • I have a son and he has the right to have a relationship with his grandmother
  • I confronted her about the abuse and she apologized
  • We have worked on our relationship for over ten years and she accepts what she did to me, she doesn’t deny it, and she allows me to be myself

I know most abusers don’t admit their actions. And in that way I suppose I’m lucky, if you could call it that. At least she accepts what she did.

I am under no illusions that she is “better,” however.

She said she doesn’t remember what she did to me. I believe her because a lot of people when they’re abusive and mentally unwell don’t know quite what they’re doing. That’s no excuse, don’t misunderstand me. I still know what she did to me was very wrong, and I am still working through the wounds.

In a lot of ways I find it ironic that I can have her in my home and enjoy spending time with her.

For a while it was still a bit sick, I still wanted to earn her love. When my son was young I still carried that everlasting hope that she’d become the mother I wanted to have. The mother I deserved. But I know now she will not be that woman.

I went through years and years of hating her for what she did, but I didn’t express it and turned it inwards, hence my depression and anxiety.

I think her behaviour really hit home for me psychologically after I had my son. I have always considered my son a miraculous gift, and I could never imagine treating him the way my mother treated me. The idea is abhorrent to me. I am not an abuser, never have been. Maybe that’s why I can forgive her to a certain extent.

I know for myself that keeping that anger alive ultimately only hurts me, and the people I love. If I’d kept holding onto the anger I would’ve become more and more diseased by various physical and mental problems because I’d be holding that hate inside myself. I have decided I just don’t want to do that.

And over the last two years since I had my breakdown, I’ve been slowly ridding myself, layer by layer, of all that pain and hate. It’s been very hard to let go because I’d learned to use it as fuel to keep going on. But now I use love as fuel, and that’s been an eye-opening transition for me.

So when my mother walks through my door this afternoon, I can honestly greet her with my heart. Not a naively hopeful heart, I know she isn’t the mother I really wanted, but in some ways I feel lucky that she’s my mom. And I think that’s healthy, and okay.

 

The good, the discouraging and the perspective

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I feel pretty mixed up today.

I’ve had some really good things happen and some discouraging things happen. I suppose somewhere in between them there’s balance.

Good things

I received a really nice message from a man on a singles site. I had shown interest in him and he let me know that he’s about to meet someone and doesn’t like to pursue more than one woman at a time. He said my profile was very interesting, but he wanted to see how things go with the other woman first. I thought that was very honest and filled with integrity. And I thanked him for letting me know. He’s renewed my faith in the online dating scene.

I also found out that my ex-husband, the father of my son, wants to spend more time with my son. My son has been with me 100% of the time for about six months. I guess his dad is missing him. So I may have my three evenings a week back, and my son may be seeing more of his dad, which is very good. Especially since my son’s 16. He needs a man’s influence in his life too.

Discouraging things

I woke up and realized I have a yeast infection. Often after I take antibiotics I get one. I just feel as if with my woman garden (thank you Jenny Lawson for this term!) it’s been one thing after another. First the UTI, now this. Blah!

I know it’s not really a big deal or even that unexpected, but I’m tired of feeling tired. The UTI kind of knocked me out, and often the yeast infection medication does too.

I’ve been worried about making enough money for a while now, and it’s damned difficult to be productive when all you feel like doing is curling up in a ball and sipping on tea! Something about this feels so November in Canada. It’s a month where everything is going to sleep or dying, we are overwhelmed with grey all around us and it’s getting cold and it’s dark so early we feel like going to bed at 5pm. Not an inspiring month.

And when I went for my healing treatment on Monday apparently the first two chakras are linked to creativity and our financial life. Figures! No wonder my woman garden is unsettled.

Perspective

But then as I was driving back from the pharmacy feeling sorry for myself I realized that compared to some of the things going on in the world, a yeast infection isn’t much. And the UTI isn’t much either. Even my financial concerns are only temporary.

My heart goes out to the families of the victims in Paris and the countless others physically hurt from the terrorist attack. Now that is something really beyond discouraging, and has made me realize I’m having a pretty regular day.

 

The dangers of denying who we are

Jacqueline Snider

I have a history of denying my self.

  • I have been underweight for most of my life.
  • I have lived my life to please others, including my parents, my boyfriends, my husbands and my son.
  • I have denied my feelings to make other people happy.

These behaviours are not uncommon for a woman in North America, and likely in a lot of other places in the world too.

Rather than growing up being encouraged to look within myself for my direction on my health, relationships and career, I was encouraged to be what others were comfortable with me being. And that has done me a lot of harm.

That mentality of living for others, trickles down into all sorts of dangerous and insidious places.

I consider practically starving myself very dangerous. Being on the border of anorexic for most of my life and actually being proud of denying my body what it needed is very sick. It was partly a form of control on my part, but also I was denying the fact that I’m a naturally curvy woman. There’s so much media pressure to be a skeletal woman that it’s hard when you’re more naturally curvy, as most women are and should be.

Trying to please my parents, boyfriends, husbands and even my son comes from my early programming as a little girl. My mother used to yell at me, “Why can’t you read my mind?” so of course I did my best to read hers and everyone else’s. And I became very good at it, which is also pretty sick. That didn’t teach me how to read my own, however. In fact quite the opposite.

And then my feelings suffered immeasurably. Did I even know my own? Or did they change with every person I was with? And I totally lost touch with them when I denied myself so much that I had a breakdown. I was severely depressed.

And what have I been doing since then? I have been denying myself the right dose of anti-depressant medication. At first I took the full dose, but as I got better I tried to wean myself off of it. I experienced a boomerang effect that I caught fairly quickly, but it scared the hell out of me. My mind had started racing again, I couldn’t sleep, and my anxiety climbed. I went back up to only the half dose. And now I ask myself why. Why was I denying my brain and body what it needed?

That’s my pattern. It’s almost automatic, and it’s taken me almost two years to see that. I went to the pharmacy yesterday to get more pills and the pharmacist took me aside and asked me why I’m behind on my prescription. She reminded my I should not stop them. And with her insistent, rational words I had my ah-ha moment (thanks, Oprah!) and I thought, “My God, I’ve been doing it again!”

This time I wasn’t hard with myself like I would’ve been and I took the full dose last night for the first time in over a year.

I consider this a personal victory.

I don’t care when I realize these old automatic self-destructive habits are still part of my life, I’m just thrilled with myself when I do.

We must learn to be gentle with ourselves. And I moved another step in that direction yesterday.

 

 

 

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