An open letter to my hurt, from my love

Dear loved one,

Not everyone is for you, and you are not for everyone.
Not everyone will understand you.
People will judge you unfairly, just as you will probably judge others unfairly as well.

Be kind to yourself, anyway. Stick to your truth anyway. Love others anyway.

Everything that is going to happen, is going to happen anyway. You will survive it, as you have. Life goes on, as it does.

You will make mistakes, but you will also prevail. Do not focus on the losses, but on the improvements. Do not focus on the pain, but on how you’ve prevailed. Do not focus on suffering, when there is so much pleasure to be had.

Love those that love and accept you. Accept those that don’t. Everyone is simply showing you what you are and what you are not. Live your reality as best you see fit.

Trust yourself, because you are the only one that Knows. Accept your errors, you are doing the best you can.

Forgive others, they too are doing their best. What they don’t understand about you, they do not see within themselves. Love them through it.

Maybe from afar. Maybe very distantly. But love them, so that you may love that part within yourself as well.

~M

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I’m gonna take this chance

(SeLoFest17 Post: Day 15, click here for all prompts so far)


Welcome to Psychology 101, class, today we will be talking about Psychological Projections. 

I learned about projections in Santa Monica University, and we had to write a massive paper on it, which I had to redo because I guess I hadn’t explained that I understood projections correctly the first time. However, ever since the very first time I even heard about projections, which was even before uni, the concept has been one of the most essential tools in my evolution.

And part of me accepting that as such an essential tool in my life, was due to the fact that I had grown with a fiercely independent woman. Despite what my culture and society were simultaneously telling me, my mother was showing me that we did not need men, or anyone that didn’t want to be there, really, to get by, to raise a child, to have fun, to be happy. Eventually, I did put too much pressure on myself to “not need anyone” due to my own understanding and needs, but before that, there was one fierce understanding:

if someone doesn’t want to be with you, you don’t need them.

And it wasn’t just that, it was also the understanding that I was in charge of my own feelings. Because I didn’t want to give others the power to control my life. I understood this, yes, but as one does, I put myself in relationships with people then give them control of my emotions, which was stupid.

I’d like to think I’ve learned to not do that anymore.

Projections allowed me to take better responsibility for my feelings, to deeply understand that Eleanor Roosevelt quote in every poster in middle school: No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

In Psychogy Today, Dr. Mathews says the following about projections:

“Some issue has been pushed into the unconscious. But that issue has energy and is constantly looking for release from its prison in the unconscious. So, it projects it through the lenses of the eye—a convex psychological eye that can only look at the external world rather than the internal one—and the issue is suddenly seen in someone else.” -Dr Andrea Mathews, Psychology Today

More simply put:

“Projection is a psychological defense mechanism in which individuals attribute characteristics they find unacceptable in themselves to another person.” GoodTherapy.Org

You see what you are.

What I did with this knowledge, and my natural inclination towards over-analyzing everything (can’t.stop.) was that every time someone caused any type of upset within me, I tried to figure out what part of me I was hiding from myself.

Or at least, that was my intention. Along with this understanding and these tools, I also developed entitlement. This was also part of an identity-forming that had taken place to due various factors that did not stop within my own household, but were also due to how society perceived me and how that entitled me to certain behavior, reactions, and experiences. Things like a good education, people being nice to me because they found me attractive or beautiful, having the ability to be myself for the most part because I presented in a way that was “normal” to people and thus did not make them uncomfortable, having a society that was fully adapted to able-bodied people as myself, and of course, being treated like a princess by my family.

So  along with the intent desire to be in control and independent of my emotions, I also many times felt like people “owed” me a certain type of behavior. It has taken me being in my 30’s to really understand that, look at that, and tell myself “if you were disappointed, it was due to your own expectations. Reshape those expectations, and release disappointment.”

Is everything absolutely 100% My responsibility? No. Sometimes people are selfish, dense, hurt or afraid, and will hurt you. And there is or was nothing that “should” or “could” have been done differently, because the nature of life is balance, and that means disappointment sometimes. At that time, it is up to us to assume our responsibility to do what we can now, with what we have now, with the knowledge and experience to make us wiser now, and after an appropriate length of time licking our wounds,

doing

something

about it.

Within the confines of our abilities, capacities, talents, and context. Continuously blaming the same person, the same thing, the outer world in general, or feeling like life is out to get us at a constant level is remaining in persistent denial.

I have explored activism and social rights for a while now as a natural answer to my desire to expand and actively practice my compassion and this has allowed me to explore the concept of victimhood at different levels.

And what I have seen, is that there is always someone that has it worse and is doing better, or that has it better and is doing worse than us. There are many ways that we can fall victim, there are many ways in which we can allow ourselves to validate that sense of “they owe me”, because our surroundings, context, education, or other, boxes us, limits us, is violent towards our livelihood, gives us free tools for separation, anger, illness, denial, and makes us work for freedom, happiness, wellbeing, union, peace.

That fact that things are unfair, that we are right in our judgment of how hard shit is, also entitles us to giving up.

I remember being absolutely deeply depressed and saying, “no one else can help me, but neither can I.” And it was the absolute truth. Because that’s what I believed, and saw. Then days passed, and moments passed, and if I thought things were unbearable before, they got truly unbearable thrice over.

I decided that I either was going to make life bearable or I was going to kill myself. I wanted to change my truth but I didn’t know how. So I just kept working on saying that I wanted to change my truth. I decided to face all my projections, to look at my limits and ask myself which ones were real and which ones was I telling myself, which ones had I placed on myself?

The first untruth I discovered was that it was not true that no one could help me.

Every day, friends in Minneapolis area were helping me, or at least trying to. My parents, though clueless, had the ferocity of their love for me, actively holding me every day whether I noticed it or not. My sister had gone from an 18 year old child to a 20 year old young woman and supported me in her own way, extending her love to me constantly. I used acceptance as a natural cleanser to all the muck that I had convinced myself of, and gratitude as the lens through which to take a look at my life through. Things softly started to develop. Tiny, in small steps, with outbursts here and there. But my statement of “no one else can help me, but neither can I” had evolved into a question, “how can I help myself, and how can others?” This question provided the fluidity I needed to adapt it as a way of life.

I call this my spirituality, though others may call it applying psychology. Either way, acknowledging the upset that other people, the world, or circumstances cause me, gives me the control to change how I feel and act about it.

The more marginalized a group is, the more anger there is within the community. One can understand, for example, if a group of black queer women are going to angrily protest a sick society. But even within the most marginalized group, I have seen confidence, love, and community.

That gives me hope, strength, and perspective.

And it makes dealing with my projections fun, in a way, because it becomes an adventure. Slaying demons and dragons is adorable in fairy tales but terrifying in reality, and those things very much exist within your psyche. The brain is a powerful vessel of knowledge and imagination. We are incredibly skilled when it comes to keeping things from ourselves. The problem is it comes out into our bodies. It took a psychologist and an Ostheopathic Physician here in France to tell me that if my body was so blocked, maybe I needed to start opening up to the parts of me that I was hiding from myself. This was BEFORE the most violent depression I’ve ever had in my life. Do people always know how to slay their dragons and demons? No. Some people need medicine. Or therapy. Or a career, or a loving family, a pet, a trip, or maybe all of the above. Some people don’t make it, and their dragons eat them up and depression claims their bodies. Other times, people just don’t want to believe or accept the flaws they have to look at within themselves, and rather continue to blame the world.

But to me, I owe it to myself, because I love myself and I want happiness, and I owe it to my family and community, because I want them to love themselves and be happy, to acknowledge my projections, to face them, to work on them, and take every upset as a chance to heal something within me so that I am more in charge of how I feel, and people can affect me less.

And part of that has meant to fill myself with warmth, confidence, light, and then saying “fuck that guy” and never wasting time on a person again. Removing toxic people from our lives is Our responsibility. Sometimes people or situations are just shitty, and you gotta accept it, own it, and do whatever you can about it. Do it angrily, do it happily, do it because you know you deserve joy, but do it.


SeLoFest17 Challenge

The Prompt: Think about the last time you had any kind of upset that lingered a bit and hit a nerve. Think of a circumstance that perhaps you may not want to acknowledge. Explore the feelings around it, and how you felt about the other person or circumstance.

The activity: With the upset in mind, take a look at the following sentences to help you write out a thought pattern and figure out what you might be projecting.

  1. The last upset I had was ___________________________________________
  2. The emotions I felt were ___________________________________________
  3. I think the reason why I feel like this is because ___________________________
  4. If there is something I don’t want to admit to myself about this it’s_____________
  5. What scares me about this situation is _________________________________
  6. Even though I know it isn’t true, I’m afraid that __________________________
  7. Other times that I have felt this way were when __________________________
  8. If I were to be compassionate with myself, I would like to forgive myself for ______
  9. I would forgive the other person for____________________________________
  10. The Truth of Truths is that __________________________________________

In your journal: one of my favorite things about valentine’s day online are all the awesome valentine meme there are. I really like the classic candy hearts. Super gross to eat (sugary chalk, anyone?), but really pleasing to look at.  In your journal, create valentines for yourself that consist of true, compassionate, affirming statements that can reframe how you might see the projection that you saw before. Give yourself permission to let go of this particular projection, even if that takes various tries. If this feels too ridiculous to you, talk to your inner child about helping you get over yourself, and taking a look at the projection of why making valentines for yourself might feel dumb.

If you can’t come up with a valentine ideas, just cut out, draw, stamp, or paint a bunch of hearts, and write the statements inside. Make sure to consider how much room you’ll need to write in them. The aim of the activity is that when you look at that page, you feel the completion of a cycle, and confidently responsible for yourself.

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Half French.

(SeLoFest17 Post: Day 13, click here for all prompts so far)


 

There are so many stories to tell about my life in France. There is my life in France: Volume 1, which was from the age of 18 to 20, and then there is my life in France: Volume 2, which began at the age of 30 and I am still living now at the age of 33.

I have entire soundtracks, feelings, perspectives that express different moments of my life and different stories. Many of them, as fables go, have some type of lesson to carry with them.

This story takes place everywhere in France, and the two main characters are me, and the French people as a whole. Like is the case with any population of any country, the French are multi-faceted and complex. So many of its major cities are incredibly cosmopolitan, being so surrounded by different cultures, it is an ocean where many different rivers meet. This provides for a richness in character within the French that is mosaic.

There is also the French system, which is the government, society, the bureaucracy, etc, that affects its people. And today’s story is about the expression of that system in regards to how it affects its people, and how in reaction, that affected my relationship with it.

I find it important to present it like that, because stereotypes and clichés and labels can be limiting, and hurtful. But understanding that there is something we all share, and accepting that, is important to the process of understanding how we view each other and ourselves.

The French word for unhappiness is “malheur“, however malheur more literally means “misfortune”, and I find that when I try to paint the image of how I see the feeling that weighs down on my fellow French, it can only be defined by a general sense of malheur. 

It’s a mix of frustration, with a dash of hopelessness. And in some regions, there is even the slightest hint of fear, wrapped in stoicism. Despite the strong sense of coming from a land of fratérnité and solidarité, I often find people to come off solitary, alone, quite separate from The Other.

And should you be lucky enough to find your community, your circle, your family, you cannot deny that this malheur exists because Paris is polluted in it, and that’s just one well-known example.

I did not like coming face to face with the flaws that France had. I had come to France as the child of a foreigner and a patriot. My father had served his country, and he is, to this day, a classic French man (whatever that means to you). His relationship with France only slightly tainted mine but mostly I came with the complete awareness that I was privileged to be able to experience and live this country. I did not think France was perfect, but somehow I still expected it to be, as one does, I suppose, when one forgets that we are responsible for how we see things. Mostly my view was affected by having grown up in American culture, with movies of Romantic Par-ee, and my absolute adoration for the song La Boheme by Charles Aznavour, which to this day remains my absolute favorite song. I dreamed of La Belle Epoque, the Bohemian life, the movie Moulin Rouge (2001) only furthered my fantasy. I knew France was modern now, I didn’t expect to live under the Eiffel tower and live a life of cheese and wine, but I came for the art, the romance, the joie-de-vivre that lovely France is so famed for.

And, I did find it. I did.

I have stories to fill me from my toes to my fingers to the tips of my hair, it has been rich and beautiful and dreamy and magic and enough for many life times of beauty.

But.
There was also the malheur. And isn’t completely unironic how just like only the French word for that can describe that sense of general unease among the French, there is also only the French word that can describe the freeing sense of joy that is the joie-de-vivre?

Recognizing that sense of unhappiness in me, due to it being so reflected so often in my every day relationships with those closest to me and also many of the people I crossed in the street, I got to a point in my life where if I did not acknowledge it, it was going to quite literally kill me, one way or another.

The thing about loving other people very much, is that it saves your life. And I loved my family, and so I acknowledged the unease within me, because it was also outside of me, I saw it in my father, my boyfriend, the baker, the cashier…

I tried to also find the solution. Because what’s the point of facing your demons if you don’t plan on doing something about it. Around that time there was another discovery that happened, which I will talk about in another story, (it’s about instagram, of all things) but I began to try to look for people that didn’t seem to live this malheur, and figure out what they were doing different. People that maybe looked like me or had grown up like me or were expressing the same ideas as me. And the one thing that I found was something about following your intuition, your gut, something within you that feeds your confidence, not your fear; but because you’ve been feeding your fear for so long, it’s bigger now and that voice is harder to listen to.

It’s also embarrassing to listen to. Because it pulls you away from things like science and credibility. It has to do with things like feelings and admitting weakness and being vulnerable and who the fuck wants to do that?

Turns out the answer is you do, if you want to be happy. We all know it feels good to cry and talk things out because when we truly are trying to help someone else out, that’s what we tell them to do. To listen to their intuition, to feel, to embrace the humanity within yourself, the softness. It’s a girl thing. And as society so blatantly has put it so many times, anything that’s a girl thing is bad.

Right?

What does that have to do with the French? Their inner little girl is repressed. There’s no crying in fromage. Yet we know that gene is there because it came out and continues to come out so much throughout its history and culture. That intuition and feelingness and the beauty of frivolity comes out in its weird movies and impeccable manipulation of grapes and taste in food combinations. We know there is value in being delicate because we value the arts, and romance, and we didn’t call it The French Kiss for nothing. The feeling of conviviality has never been more abundant than when practicing the art of apero, in which all kinds of drinks and snacks overflow, and if scarce in quantity, the quality of the moment remains a moment in time worth of pause. And yet despite it, when asked to touch upon the cell that causes that same joie, we shy away, refusing to admit an obvious vulnerability, one that only improves our quality of life, for fear of what others might do to us.

Perhaps the fear is valid.

The unfortunate side to that is the repression of our intuition. Of our gut. Of the side of us that maybe will let us see magic. Or at the very least, that will allow us mental freedom. This, is not unique to France. But France is a very good example of what happens when you are seemingly free but emotionally repressed. It is bound to come out anyway, except we will feel alien and disconnected from the very source that allows us to connect.

I have valued authenticity and courage in vulnerability for a long while now. But it was my lesson here, in this beautiful complicated country, that I understood why it was so important for me to go through the pain and on to the other side. As any zombie with a brain might tell you, listening to your gut will always be a bloody affair, but it’s what’s inside of you that will guide you to survival.

Don’t be a coward, be a little girl.

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SeLoFest17 Challenge

The Prompt: In what areas do you repress yourself? In what ways do you disconnect from your feelings or others because it’s cheesy or stupid or weak? If you feel like you are someone very connected to your own emotions, do you feel like you also allow others to do the same? In what places might you be lying to yourself? There’s a voice, listen to it!

Activity: Write out “if…then…” statements in regards to repressed beliefs you might have. For example, “if I cry, then that means I’m weak” or “if i get in touch with my emotions then i won’t know what to do”, then, follow that statement even deeper. For example: “If I cry, then that means I’m weak. If I’m weak, then that means I’m lame. If I’m lame, no one will like me. If no one likes me, it means I don’t deserve love.” Take statements that you believe, and follow them down the rabbit hole until it hits a nerve. Then, allow yourself to let go of that false belief, to forgive yourself for thinking that, for believing the lie.

In your journal: Write true statements going the other way. “If I cry then I am showing my emotions, if i show my emotions i am expressing myself, if i express myself i am speaking my truth, if i am speaking my truth i am being brave, if i am being brave it is because my voice has value, if my voice has value, it is because i am lovable.” If you disconnect from the truth that you are lovable, then you disconnect from the truth that will allow you freedom and happiness.