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Think No Evil

IMG_20151215_214931151A while back, I had a vision of an entrepreneurial venture that I was inspired to start. I was so excited with all the ideas that were flowing freely from all directions that I took to keeping a physical notebook with me no matter where I went. I even put it on my nightstand so that I could write down the   thoughts invading at times allotted for my peaceful slumber. I tell you, I was hyped and I didn’t want to forget a thing!

As I would come up with each idea, I would consult with someone very near and dear to me. Her opinion mattered above all else and it had a great deal of influence over which direction I would take. I was very open about what I wanted and shared fully my expectations for success with sheer joy.

Her responses about my vision were mostly negative. It shouldn’t have surprised me. Anytime I had a new idea, she was able to point out an inherent flaw in my thinking which would make me either go back to the drawing board or give up all together.

She offered no constructive feedback. She imparted her usual smart aleck quips, but this time some of what she said were downright nasty. She made comments like, “You already have so much on your plate.” which I originally mistook for concern. Then as I shared more, I heard things like “Are you crazy?” “What makes you think you can do that?” and “Well THAT’S just a dumb idea.”

You are probably wondering why I didn’t give up on her. The thing you have to know is that this person is closer to me than anybody else since my mom died. I love and trust her implicitly. So I couldn’t just ignore her. In fact, I found myself listening to her more and began doubting everything I believed about my abilities to accomplish this. I kept going with my vision but it was cloudy now. I approached it with less enthusiasm and more of an uncertain manner. My confidence had taken a big hit.

Then I took some news to her about my first success. It wasn’t a huge win by any measure, but I thought for sure she would see that I was making progress and allay her doubts. Instead she said, “But what if you fail? You would have spent all this money and have nothing to show for it.”

So I asked her, “What if I succeed? Or what if I learned something from it all?”

She – the voice in my head – was taken aback. I finally spoke back to her!

I had dared to counter her foreboding lack of support. She quieted as soon as I stood up to the negativity and misgivings I had besieged myself with on a minute-by-minute basis. You see sometimes, the biggest saboteur to your success is none other than you. You – talking you out of taking a chance, convincing you that you don’t already have everything you need, expecting you to fail, criticizing how you do things, and bashing you for every misstep.

You.

You delay or even annihilate your dreams with negative self-talk. The voice in your head is known to lie to you at times. You wouldn’t stand for it if you found out someone was lying to you in real life. Call it out on its bad behavior! Respect yourself. Defend yourself against any onslaught that devalues what you have to offer. Even when it’s you. Practice challenging every negative thing you say to yourself with a positive counter argument. You will get better at it. Decide to breathe positive life into what you want. You will become less of a danger to your own dreams and goals.


The Village

itTakesaVillageI went to see the movie Spotlight at today’s matinee. Spotlight is a movie about how the Boston Globe blew the lid off the Catholic abuse scandal in Boston, Massachusetts. It was very well done. Anyone Catholic or who grew up Catholic will find it difficult to watch. Anyone who has been sexually abused will feel sad, hurt, vindicated, relieved, angry, and a slew of other emotions that can only be internally defined.

Internally.

Because who cares? Because who wants to talk about that shit anyway. Who wants to dredge up all the sludge and re-inhale the stink that coats your organs in tar? Who wants to spend the time finding and paying someone to listen to sad stories? Who wants to be defined by their past? Who wants to talk about bad shit that irreparably harmed a piece of them?

Irreparably.

Because while you have gone on with your life, there will always be a part of you stuck back there. The part of you that you couldn’t rescue and that no one else was able to save either – even those who were supposed to protect you.

It is worth saying that this is the day after the one where I’ve said how grateful I am for all I have and where I am in my life. You know – all the experiences that have made me who I am.

But some experiences just suck. Plain and simple. Child sexual abuse is one of those things. You can be thrilled about where you are in life and wish you could’ve gotten there without having to patch the gaping hole left in the walls of your psyche. Some thrive, but not everyone flourishes emotionally after they have been violated in such a devastating way.

If it was a stranger you try to figure out how you became a target. It messes with you in a different way when someone or an organization you believed in unconditionally failed you so miserably. To complicate matters, you hated someone you also loved. No –not everyone rebounds from that.

The next time you’re in a room of 10 women, think about the fact that at least 2 of them were probably sexually abused as children. Next sporting event know that it happened to every 1 in 20 men there. If it was a disease it would be considered an epidemic.

For the victims that were not believed, felt ashamed, blamed themselves, kept the secret – you are not alone. If you’re like me, that realization sickens you and ticks you off even more. I mean no one wants to know that someone else endured this. The club is a HUGE one in which every member wish their membership could be revoked.

That membership is an expensive one too.

For those who didn’t commit suicide and who haven’t worked their way productively through their truth, it manifests itself in negative behavior as adults. Self-sabotage, bravado, trust issues, aggression, depression, substance abuse, failed relationships, low self-esteem, and sometimes the abused becomes the abuser.

Spending time asking ‘why’ serves to be a futile exercise. No matter how many times it is asked, no answer will be sufficient or justifiable. In the absence of information, you may have created your own narrative about how ugly you are and how unworthy you are, because how else could something so horrible happen to you right?

Until you recognize the rationale doesn’t hold up under scrutiny. It’s a lie you’ve been telling yourself for so long that you believe it’s truth without question. So I’ll ask you these questions:

What if someone you loved shared the same horrible secret with you? Would you tell them they deserved it? Would you tell them that they were unlovable? Unclean? Worthless? Undeserving of all happiness? That there was no one who could help you?

No. You wouldn’t. You wouldn’t hate them. You would focus on their well-being. You would acknowledge how brave they were. You would be careful with their feelings. You would love them. You would get them help.

Stop lying to yourself.

If you’re still working your way back from sexual abuse, you are trying to help someone you love through their journey, or you want lo learn more, here is one place to start. http://www.bandbacktogether.com/.

My favorite line of the movie Spotlight was “If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to abuse one.” I believe that it takes a village to heal one. I am part of your village. There are others. And we love you.

Humble Pie

IMG_20150919_192254360 (2)My grandmother lived with us growing up. She was the first person I saw when the bus dropped us off at the shanty (that’s bus stop for non-islanders). She’d be waiting at the gate to usher my brother and I in our yard and dutifully remind us to remove our uniforms.

I recall coming home one day running home to recount my exceptional day. I was floating high and could barely catch my breath “Granny Granny guess what I did today?” Without waiting for her answer I burst. “I won the spelling bee practice in class today!” As I opened my mouth to give her the details, she stopped me cold and with a disapproving scowl on her face she said, “Self-praise has no recommendation Gillian.”

Granny took the wind out of my sails every time I tried to tell her I had accomplished something big. She considered it bragging. My child-self interpreted it to mean that I hadn’t accomplished anything worth mentioning. So, “Self-Praise has no recommendation” became a transferred mantra I now claimed as my own. I stopped sharing my good news.

As adults we worry so much about people thinking that we’re big-headed or conceited that we stop sharing our achievements. This ongoing misinterpretation of humility is harmful. What if what you did lifted one person’s spirit? What if telling your story gives someone hope? What if that accolade you received inspires someone to try when they had otherwise given up? What if your own redemption allows someone to believe in their ability to recover?

Being invisible and silent are not the equivalent of being humble. Your greatness is not meant to be proportionate to your humility. You can be arrogant and selfish in your quiet.

You are great, you are important, and what you achieve is significant. Those who love you will never hold your greatness against you, they will celebrate with you. When they can’t, the issue is usually theirs.

Sometimes it is enough for others to notice you, but the reason your story exists is because it demands to be told and it deserves to be heard. You have the ability to change the trajectory of someone’s life for the better with your experience. Choose to do so.

Your Eggsellence

broken egg

I break a lot of eggs.

Every once in a while, one will slip from my eager hands and hit the counter or the floor, but most of them are broken with the purpose of creating a delightful meal. I always understood the importance of the egg as sustenance, but it was only this week, after a series of very unfortunate events, the act actually came to mean something more.

We are the egg.

The porous shell temporarily protects and contains all that is nutritious, hearty, and good within us. We sit in nests and cartons, hardening our shells, being incubated, refrigerated, and gently transported. All in an effort to avoid cracks and breaks. While remaining whole becomes our personal goal, this is at odds with the true intention of the egg.

At some point the egg’s divine purpose is to be liberated from its own shell. Whether by its own evolution or by someone else’s doing, coming forth requires change and sometimes pain. It is in the cracking of its shell – its brokenness – that the egg becomes more.

Beware of aligning your timing with others in their own eggs. Everyone’s incubation period is different. Regardless of their intention, separate from those who insist on keeping you in the protective shell, or after a time it will surely become your tomb.

I am reminded that no matter how many times my rawness is stirred in with other ingredients, separated, baked, poached, spiced, scrambled, or even splayed on a sizzling pan, new layers are created. (And no – getting whisked, beaten, or fried doesn’t always feel good). I become enhanced in some way.

Remaining in your shell, denies access to your inherent capabilities. Even when you are left alone to crack the membrane with your own inexperienced beak, breaking through grants you the freedom to make a greater life contribution and illustrates for others that they too can overcome incredible odds.

Flight

balloons

In a recent exchange with one of my younger mentees, he was lamenting (via a very long text of course) how sick he “was of being stuck living in his parents’ home”. How he was an adult and shouldn’t be dealing with “ridiculous rules” and “constant criticism”. Of course, I asked the logical question. “Why don’t you move out?” To which he responded (predictably), “I can’t afford it.” So for the heck of it, I threw out a suggestion. “What if you moved into the city, got a few roommates to share costs, got a couple of jobs, and took public transportation? Couldn’t you afford it then?” I swear I could hear cicadas singing a full on rendition of Katy Perry’s Roar.

It was in that moment, I realized my suggestion was not adequate because he hadn’t told the truth. When I asked him why not move out, what he should have said was, “Why would I do that? I’m grounded. I can’t afford the style I’ve grown accustomed to on my own, and although I say I hate the situation, I am scared of the alternative/I don’t know what to expect.” You see, as much as he hates the restrictions and being tethered to – as he views them- two unreasonable and uncaring masters, he has deemed what he currently has as offering more levity than the perceived hardships involved in gaining his own freedom.

We complain how much we hate our jobs, how busy we are, how friends take advantage of us, how people treat us, and about how our clothes fit – all the other masters to which we are tethered – but we do little or nothing to change our circumstances. We’re not being honest.

We talk about enjoying the view from “up there” one day, but we’re scared of heights. We’re petrified that we’ll fall to a thud if we dare attempt to rise above the crowds. Truth is, we don’t object to the new/better experience. We are scared that we’ll end up in an even worse situation. It might be fear that: your idea won’t work, you’ll make mistakes, you won’t have as much, yo’re too old, you’ll be rejected, you’ll end up alone, you won’t have as much fun, you’ll lose friends, others won’t approve, it will cost too much, it will take too much work, or it will take too much time.

We lose sight of how much more energy, time, emotional stability, or money we spend by remaining in our current state of discomfort than it does to create an overall healthier experience.

<Whysper Moment> ‘What if’ though? What if you chose to be courageous? What if you chose peace? What if you chose to ignore the naysayers? What if you said yes more often to new things? What if you said no more often to those who use you? What if it was easier to let go than you thought? What if you chose you? What if THAT was the air in your balloon? To what elevation could you rise?

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