Tag Archives: Personal Growth

Cinderella Girl

Feet dangling in the adult-sized chair, head bent downward slightly, eyes fixed on a spot in the flooring where an invisible stain nailed her, the demure female child felt small, insignificant, powerless, unacceptable, unworthy, unloved, but worse of all, unwanted and in the way. Her intuition was now tuned into sending feelers out into her environment to see if she could guess the next move and where it might come from. Gut ears reaching out to detect the other shoe dropping. Perhaps she could keep that shoe from dropping. Yes, she could hold onto that hope. The questions above all questions she might ask were the thoughts that never where spoken like What can I do to avoid that tongue lashing or leather belt that bites my flesh? Can I get through the day without breaking some unknown and sacred rule that would invite an unwanted response from the parent? Why did they bring me into this world if they are so displeased with me, especially the mother? Yes, these were the bothersome questions that consciously and unconsciously played in the back of her mind no matter how the day was going. These questions colored her world and made life more difficult than it should be all through her life. Right now, she did not know how much energy that took or how it would influence every thought, every decision, every choice she made for years to come.

Looking upon that child now in my mind’s eye, my heart goes out to her and I want to gather her in my arms, to tell her that she is a diamond in the rough, and that one day she will see herself as I see her now, a pure sparkling jewel that has a tough journey ahead and that it will all make sense one day. I

want her to know, as I look upon her unhappy little face, that it will all be worth it in the end. But, I know I couldn’t change things in that time long ago as it unfolded then and in the growing years to come. I only know that I can finally look upon the face of triumph and be so proud of what she has and is still accomplishing in this future time.

We think that we live in a space in time that spreads out in linear fashion with every step we take along our journey. Of course that is how it seems to us, because when we turn back time in our minds we can almost see the footsteps along a path from our first cry to where we might be now in human years. Yet doesn’t it seem like yesterday when we started our first day of school or had our first kiss or became a parent? There have been moments of my life that seem to have dragged by agonizingly slowly; other times moments went by in a blink. Time, it appears, is what our mind perceives it to be but one thing we can agree upon is that it is ever-moving energy captured in events of shadow and light. Our minds take a photo of these events, these moments, and place in the file called “My Life” along with all the emotion and meaning that we experienced then and placed upon them. This, I call baggage.

The god or goddess of Fate seems to descend upon every little girl and boy from birth doling out perks and punishments without thought or care. It reminds me of the ancient gods of myth who seemed to pick on mortals flaunting their powers and choosing to bless or curse at whim while leaving mortals believing they are powerless in Fate’s quake. For a very few die hard souls, however, with the desire to overcome and break the chains that would bind them, there is a freedom waiting for them that others may never experience before they die.

Rumi the poet wrote, “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I will meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about.” In terms of Cinderella she not only gets to go to the ball henceforth known as that pure field but she eventually transforms from that abused little girl to that soul who becomes the princess she always was. The fairy godmother did not save her but supported that girl while she reached for and created the freedom and love that she desired. Prince Charming wasn’t a savior either but rather represents to this Cinderella, me, the love that was in her, outside of her, all around and through her. This was and is her dance partner.

I am evolving constantly as layer upon layer of lies I have told myself drop into ashes from which a new Phoenix is born. Rumi’s field is within reach now. I hear the music at the ball and I want to dance.

I had searched in others for the mother I wanted. I was hoping for direction, support, understanding, guidance, and love. I thought that these had been lacking and withheld from me. The fickle finger of fate had denied me and I knew not why. Now I know that the direction, support, understanding, guidance and love are within me. In a manner of speaking I am my own mother not that I don’t find and enjoy knowing that it is there in others as well. I enjoy sharing the wiser woman I have become and I know that the path that I had taken was not fate but rather mapped out by a higher power than myself to give me the opportunity to bring my bruised little Cinderella self through to self-actualization which is not the same as a damaged ego.

Abraham Maslow a psychologist in 1943 came up with his theory of the Hierarchy of Need . It’s been a hard climb to even get closer to the top of the pyramid where self-actualization abides. Maslow’s pyramid starts at the bottom with a person’s need for physiological necessities like food, clothing and shelter as the first order of need. Once that is met then one may be able to concerns him or herself with safety. From there, the next need is for belonging and from there moving onto the next, is esteem which can begin to catapult a person upwards towards self actualization. But it is not actually an upward movement where you leave one step to go to the next. It is more of spiral of movement where at times you may experience any of these needs to a more then lesser degree as you become more your real self. You are still wanting and needing connection with others but there is a giving and taking inspired by Love Itself. It still takes a village of many people and events in order to climb that pyramid.

Carl Rogers, a humanist psychologist, had a theory much like Maslow’s. He expanded upon self-actualization. He believed that self-actualization was more apt to be achieved if a child experienced unconditional positive regard from parents and significant others. This means that the parents and significant others loved and accepted the child for who and what they were at any given time. This child felt taken care of, supported, and loved no matter what and therefore could feel free to explore life and make mistakes without feeling like love was being withheld or based upon conditions. Rogers believed that a child deprived of positive self regard, particularly in childhood, would be less likely to reach self actualization. I believe it is possible for anyone to move beyond their deprivation of unconditional love if they realize, first of all, that there is anything to move beyond. Secondly they must be willing to do the work. It is hard work and requires an unimaginable desire to shed the shackles of self doubt and unbelievable need to be approved of in order to reach the individual ideal goal. It is the road less taken and there is no map.

So now, I take that little brave and determined little girl that I was into my embrace and no matter what she has thought or done ever that made her feel wrong, at fault , guilty, unworthy or unlovable and let her know that was all a lie. I want to tell her how brave she has been. I want her to know that I honor her efforts to break the chains of abuse. I want her to learn, if she hasn’t already, that she need not seek others approval in order to achieve positive self regard. I give her positive self regard. I love her no matter what and no matter what anyone else may think. I want her to be certain that she was always being the child she had to be in order to survive. Now she is free to be the soul, the person, she was destined to be and that she has and is doing a service to her fellow human beings by doing her part. I think my inner child now know that the adult she and I have become have been teaming up to heal abuse received and given no matter the form in which it came. The chain has been broken. Now is the time for healing..

I love you Brenda. You are a precious human being and I am delighted that you can see and feel the suffering of others even when they do not. Come away from the ashes, go to the ball and dance like everyone is watching but you don’t care.

Cinderella Girl by Brenda Andradzki Elliott, MSW November 16, 2014

SHOW ME THE MONEY

What Does It Mean to Walk Your Talk

In the movie “Jerry Maguire” the famous words that keeps getting used and repeated is, “Show me the money.” Don’t talk about it, show me.

How many times have you heard people talk about their religion or their relationship with God or Allah or whom or whatever and are so sure that they are walking the right spiritual path? Well for them, that might very well be the right path; but whatever spiritual path a person may take is less important to me than how they treat other people.

Yes, show me the money. Show me in every word, every action. Don’t tell me how great your God is, show me how your God treats others. Don’t just tell me how much better you feel or that your salvation is secure. Show me your love for all people whether you agree or not with their religion, their politics, their sexual orientation, their color, their life style. You don’t have to join them. You don’t have to like it or agree with it but do you allow them loving spiritual space to be who and what they are without tearing them down, fighting them, trying to force them to change, or treating them as what I call, others.

Once you put yourself into one category and put another person or group in an opposing camp, you can easily make them into the enemy. You start treating them as less than human and it them becomes easy to harm them or bully them or cause them grief. It is even easier to kill them if you let your idea of your need to control their behavior reaches that level of righteous intensity.

How do you treat yourself? How do you show love and affection or do you? How do you treat your mate or your children? How do you treat your neighbors? Is your heart tender? Do you see beauty everywhere or garbage or do you even notice? Do you want the best for others or is your goal to win or outdo or outshine or to be jealous? Does your heart go out to others in their suffering? Do you try to smile more and make someone’s day a little brighter by the things you say and do?

Show me the money. Don’t talk about it. Leave this world one day having known you did your best to leave it a better place. Show me a loving, caring, person. Show me a discerning person who knows how to handle the unpleasantness of life. There will be those who cannot or will not respond to love, who are bad to the bone it would seem. You don’t have to love the behavior but love them anyway if you can. Know when to hold them. Know when to fold them. Know when to walk away. But love them anyway. Show me the divinity within you. That’s all I ask of you. Show me.

FEAR: FRIEND OR FOE?

 

     Fear has been both friend and foe. A lot of us who think we are becoming more spiritually conscious think that we should be exempt from fear of any kind. We also say that we know how fear can keep us from doing things we want to do or from being what we want to be. We talk about how love can overcome any fear. All of these are true to a point. But fear can be a friend. It can keep us from throwing all caution to the wind, not using our common sense, or not recognizing danger. Some times it is difficult to say whether or not a fear is a friend or a foe.

     There is a lot of things that go into how much fear a person may be experiencing at any given time. Perhaps someone is threatening your life or you are in the mist of a war zone. That fear is your friend to help you do things to stay as safe as possible but there is no guarantee that you will be able to avoid harm or death. Sometimes you have fears from simply not knowing. Not knowing can send you into panic mode. No one likes to feel fear. Most of us don’t like to report to anyone that we have any fears because we might appear to be less spiritual or weak in some way. It takes more guts to say you have some fears than to lie to yourself and others. This is not to say you should continue growing your fears or burden others with them either.

     I was curious about where fear forms in the brain. It comes from the Amygdala in the brain. What causes some people’s to be larger than others? What causes some people to tend to be more fearful in general that others? Why is it that some people can take a ride in an amusement park, enjoy the thrill and want to do it again while others are practically having a panic attack just imagining it? Are we taught fear, do we learn to fear from experiences that we have been through or is there some mechanism in some of us that is out of balance or malformed or damaged or over or under developed in our brains or our nervous system or some organ that causes us to be more fearful or less fearful than others? I would say yes to all of these possibilities.

     We can face some of our fears and overcome them to a certain degree in various ways but can we find ourselves caught back up in a fear loop just when we thought we no longer had issues with that particular thing? My own experience tells me that we can at any time. How do we know if someone is fearful? Some are very good at hiding such feelings or pushing them down burying them, using distractions, or medicating them until they reach the boiling point and the fear or fears have totally taken over common sense and perhaps destroyed or misused the life we could have had.

     So what is the good news? We have tools to deal with fear and it’s cousin anxiety. Use those tools wisely. Learn that fear is part of life and can give us warning signs. Unfounded or emotional fears can be helped through psychotherapy, breathing techniques, meditation, tapping and relaxation techniques and others. Naming the fear and facing it is the only way through. Some give their fears to God. Whatever it takes there is no right or wrong but stuffing the fears can make your life miserable. Telling yourself you should NOT have these fears or that you are failing as a spiritual being if you have them or that you are a weakling doesn’t help either and,it isn’t true.

     They say where there is love, there is no fear and yet fear is part of being human no matter it’s origin. We can, however, learn to change what we able to change and learn to accept and live with what we cannot change. Make peace with your erroneous fears, listen to them, learn from them and make them subjects to the rule of your heart as much as possible. That’s all I know to do from where I sit this moment. And this now is all I have.

 

THE PATH OF AUTHENTIC FREEDOM

I have come to the point in life where differences (race, color, cred, sexual orientation, religion or no religion, beliefs and what is “proper” or not) are superficial to me. What is uppermost is what lies deeper than that. Can you just enjoy laughs, tears, joys, sorrows and celebrate the ways in which you and others are alike? Can you stop, at least now and then, from being offended by someone else and realize that it is not they who offend you but rather your beliefs and inability to see beyond your own boundaries that cause the offense? 

Perhaps the question is, do you want to look beyond, walk out on that limb, suspend your own beliefs or feelings for even a moment or two, to try to see things differently? If the answer is that you would rather keep things just as they are and you feel no need to see deeper than your present ability, then, please don’t pretend you do. Be true to yourself, be authentic. That does not mean that this should give you free license to be be cruel, harm someone physically, or want to make them conform to your own standards. You will, perhaps, miss out on a more expanded and enriched life but that is your choice and certainly you have that right.

If you do wish that you could be more open and accepting, I can tell you from my own experience that this has been one of the best gifts I could have given myself. I can walk through freak shows and find the freak in myself. I’ve been an insider during my lifetime and an outsider as well but when I choose to allow myself to just be with different people expressing different things, I can enjoy the party even if I am not an exclusive member. What does that mean? I can be free to jump in and frolic all I want, then go to a different party and frolic there even if the former was worlds apart from the latter. I can be dead serious, solemn , thoughtful, or off-the-wall funny, playful, light or sassy. Without my erecting or keeping so many boundaries, I am free to fly however I want, whenever I want, wherever I want instead of being constricted and becoming a prisoner of my own making. Does this mean anything goes? Of course not. You don’t throw common sense to the winds. You don’t put yourself into harm’s way. You don’t stay where you are not welcomed. You don’t have to play any games that make you feel uncomfortable or stay in situations where you are being taken advantage of. You don’t have to join in for the sake of appearances, of looking good. It has taken me a lifetime to begin to figure this out. I don’t know about you but I have often felt out of place. It wasn’t because I was so different (though I often feel that way) but rather because I was not allowing myself to be the authentic expression of Brenda that I always was deep down inside. I was brain-washed and trained to conform to my family, my society, my church, my groups. I tried to make myself into whatever I thought would make me fit in with the norm. I find that I can fit in with the norm or the exception thereof not so much because of the need to be accepted but more for the sake of just expanding myself and setting myself free.

No one could tell me this. I just had to figure out where the discomfort came from all these years, look back at my experiences, and find the real me. I invite you to do the same. You may not find that your path is like mine in any way. I believe that this Energy or Power or Spirit or God that creates all things wants to express in, through and as me, as you, as all things created. I find that having that belief brings me joy, helps me make sense of what I can’t explain, and gives me the the awesome job and responsibility to allow Spirit to shape me and shift me as He/She is declined to do. Following a path of authentic freedom is, to me, the most loving, common-sense, and creative path one can take, It is the gift that keeps on giving through storms or calm, through light and dark, through joy and sorrow and for this I am truly thankful.

A MOTHER’S LOVE

There are many females who become mothers but they don’t exactly know how to love, to be a good parent. Some of them are not well or have emotionally issues that are not addressed. Some get into drugs or alcohol. Some had an abusive, neglectful, distant or absent mother themselves. Some mothers abandoned their child or children or give them up for adoption but sometimes we don’t know the whole story and maybe the giving up of the child was the most loving thing that they could do.

Recently I read a story about a little girl who was left near the highway in a paper bag on a very cold night more than 20 years ago when she was found by a state trooper. She was meant to live. You have to wonder what the mother was going but my guess was that she was very young and without support. Possibly she wanted her child to be found. But you question, “Put her in a paper bag like trash?” The baby was wrapped in a towel and put in the bag. Perhaps the mother though that would keep the baby warm enough until someone found her. We just don’t know the whole story. Desperate people, though, do desperate and sometimes stupid or cruel or dangerous things. That much we do know.

Every sibling born to one mother has a different take on the telling of how Mother was when they were growing up. People on the outside had their own version of what she was like as well. So what is the “real” story? Listen closely, it really doesn’t matter what the real story was because the mother’s children and all the outsiders looking in each had their own experience of that mother and then interpreted that experience in their own language so to speak.

I had a version of my own mother that wasn’t all peaches and cream but it wasn’t a horror story either. Yet, I have to admit, I had a bit of a tough time with my interpretation of growing up with Mama. Little by little, I have let go of “My Story” about all that and have been healing. Over all my mother was a good person with some anger issues and some depression. I have some wonderful memories but I have some that sting a bit though the sting part has been getting better step by step.

I had a dream this morning as I was beginning to wake up. In the dream I had a lot of tears that were caught in my throat. That is what we call having a lump in our throats. The tears wanted to come and what I was struggling with so much was about the things over which we have no control. I was about to cry because sometimes we have to let go of how things were, could have been or are that we can change. In my dream, I was in my bed in the house I lived in at one time as a child. It was dark. Slowly the door began to open and it was my mother. As she further opened the door, light came into the dark room and the tears flowed. I wanted my mama and she came to me. The dream was so healing. I woke fully away with tears in my eyes. A mother’s love. Ah.

HOW TO BECOME WHAT YOU WANT TO BECOME

Before I became a instructor teaching Sociology, I never taught a class on that level before. I had done some training classes in psychology that were basics but I never taught a college class of this nature and certainly not one on Sociology though I had the credentials. I approached this new job like a virgin on her honeymoon.

A million questions came into my head until there was no room for much else. Who was I to try to do this? What made me think I could do this? What the hell did I know about teaching? You are kidding, right? You have lost your mind haven’t you? And so it went. I could go into more details here about my first quarter of teaching but in this space of time let me just say that what I learned, is that you do or become that which is your goal only one way and that is by doing it. You act as if and as though. You put you intentions and attention on being that which you seek – whatever that might be – and lo and behold it becomes reality. You use the language, the gestures, the choices, and all that goes with that role and by doing so, you take that shape. Step on the stage and into the spotlight.

Be all that you can be. You can do it. I know you can.

LOVE AND DAGGERS

Some marriages and relationships are like Humpty-Dumpty. They fall off the wall and can’t be put back together again. We all react differently to these breakups. Sometimes we go through the steps of grieving which includes anger. That anger can be a step to healing or it can be a step off to revenge, name-calling, mate bashing, stalking, or even worse, murder.

When you let the song play in your head about being “done wrong” even if you do not take revenge or drag his/her name through the mud, who is that really hurting? If you go to extremes and kill that person that doesn’t work either. We can chose to let go and when anger or hurt comes up, use it to propel yourself over that trap. Stop and think things like, “Boy, that didn’t go well.” or “Man I’m glad that’s over.”

Sometimes we just don’t fit right and finally have to admit it. Sometimes one of you grows and the other doesn’t and what used to work, does not work anymore. In a lot of cases people marry for all the wrong reasons. If they are lucky or want the marriage or relationship or partnership to work out, they do actually fall in love for the right reasons. I don’t have to go into what the “wrong” reasons are. You know in your heart what they are.

When you hook up with someone, have a relationship with someone, the relationship does not just include you and the other person. Each brings to the table, their childhood, their beliefs, their ideas, their experiences, their past relationships, their social standing, their cultural influences – in other words, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Yes, there is more than the two of you. It’s a wonder any relationship works.

Then there is the age in which you form this relationship – any relationship – but particularly a romantic one. You are not the same person at 17 as you will be at 26 or 50 or 70. It is our experiences and responses and responsibilities that happen to us and how we handle them that will change us. Drug and alcohol abuse thrown into the mix will create another whole set of woes to deal with.

If a relationship is not working, get out as soon as you are able to do so. If it just needs some work, get some help with that. In any case get whatever help you need. And when you are going through a relationship crisis, if you can do so without wanting to stick dangers in your partner or friend, you both will come out much better together or apart. You see, the dangers you carry are stuck in YOUR heart not theirs even though it would seem to you that it is the other way around. Daggers have nothing to do with love. Love sets you free – really free. You can just let go of the venom or poison yourself. Chose love. Chose to let go of your anything in your entourage that doesn’t work for you. Chose to call it a learning experience and not a disaster. if you chose to take the time to really get to know yourself, to heal yourself, then Love will be your weapon of choice.