Grace found in Rigidity

Since I was as little as five years old, I have been stuck in the mindset of how to survive; trapped in the routines of how to move through each day feeling safe under fear.

Even as the adult, the mom, and the wife I am today, I am continually living behind the rigidity of my day-to-day to keep myself safe from anything that could harm me.

But when does rigidity get in the way of grace? When does the safety of rigidity as I know it, get in the way of living, and being the person who God created me to be?

Rigidity gets in the way of Grace when love, care, and support is only accepted when it falls in the strict boundaries and lines I have created around me my whole life.

What I realize more and more now is, It sucks to be trapped in the rigidity of routines that promise me safety and connection – and yet I see just how much grace I am missing out on.

Friday morning in session, when I was re-connecting to how hard it is for me to move out of the mindset of, “what I allow myself to do” vs. “what I really can do.” We both sat in an awed kind of silence when he said: “ahh it’s the rigidity that gets in the way of grace for you.”

He got it! He truly understood more of how hard it is for me to bend, or change the rigidity I live behind, and just how hard acceptance is for me out of fear of getting hurt.

Of course, my therapist knows my story from front to back, side to side, and all the cracks of my story in between! He knows the struggle of the walls I live behind out of fear, and the routines I live with day to day – but he truly got it on a bigger level this time.

That moment Friday in session, I, at the same time realized just how much grace I am missing out on because of that. I got it! I understood just how much grace had been stolen from me because of that rigidity.

“One of the greatest enemies of grace is rigidity.“

It’s incredibly hard living my life with so many self-boundaries and lines I keep myself within. It’s hard knowing that I have all this incredible support, and yet I only allow myself bits and pieces out of fear of getting hurt, or fear of dependency.

When I am struggling with a hard thought, or if I am struggling to feel connected, or if I am drowning in self-doubt, I know I have support to lean on. I know I can reach out to my support at any time, but the amount of work and energy internally it takes for me to accept that support, is sometimes harder than the problem itself.

Sometimes it takes more work for me to lean in and reach out for support than it is for me to move through it myself – and many times, I will get through it myself. Sad but true, but then there are those moments where I sit and cry and fight for that grace to lean in, because I don’t always want to do it on my own, I sometimes want and need the support, love and care. (just saying that wakes up all the fears around wanting or needing).

You see? I don’t wish this struggle on anyone.

BUT what therapy and this healing journey have taught me is, I don’t have to do this alone! I have realized just how good it feels to have that support, love, care, and understanding when I am struggling.

Deep down, I know I have come a long way with that, but I still struggle with living in that rigidity and living my life in the lines of what is safe for me. My routines, the way “I think” I have to be vs. what “I can” be.

I miss out on a lot of grace because of the abuse I endured as a child. I miss out on accepting more support when needed. I miss out on the ability to be heard when I really need to be heard. I miss out on so much of what grace has to offer because of the rigidity I hide behind.

SO, how do I break that wall of rigidity? How do I let grace in more without letting the fear of getting hurt overtake me? I believe it begins with “knowing.”

Knowing the difference between rigidity and grace, and allowing myself to do it anyways.

Knowing that the walls I created as a child served a useful purpose, and sometimes still do. Those walls created a purpose that was needed at the time.

Knowing that healing happens when realizing what part of those walls do not serve a purpose any longer. Those walls that stop me from seeing grace.

Knowing that it’s not my fault, but grace is here to pull me in.

I won’t lie, it’s hard! It’s hard to change what I know, and what I feel safe to do. But I also know the feeling of how good it feels to have support when it’s needed, and not having to do it all by myself all the time.

I know those who are reading this, those who have been through abuse as a child like I have, know just how hard it is to move outside of the boundaries we create to feel safe from harm. How hard it is to change the very routines that we create to feel safe and secure. I know how hard it is – I have been there, I am still there.

Rigidity is a rigid hard shell against grace, and I am beginning to realize just how much grace gets lost in that.

What I hope those who are reading this will see is: it’s not your fault! It’s not our fault that the walls built were made to create safety around us. It is how I, how we all survived from the abuse done to us.

It’s a hard life to live as an adult surviving child sexual abuse, neglect, rape and mental abuse. It’s hard to wake up knowing I will have to live between the walls looking for any grace I can grab onto without fear, and the work it takes letting go of the walls that no longer serve a purpose.

But healing can happen if you allow Grace to come out from behind the walls of rigidity – allow yourself to bend freely without shame or guilt or even fear!

Maybe it’s about allowing both “rigidity and grace” to be there; helping me to see that grace will offer more. Grace will not disappoint.

I am right there learning and healing with you. It’s a journey, a journey to healing.

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breaking thru the waves of therapy

A lot of people have asked me how I have managed to move through the hardest part of therapy to where I am today 10 years later?

My answer has always been “It’s almost like pushing past the hardest parts of the waves in the ocean – to the other side where the calm waters are.

I have read so many blogs written by people who are in therapy who struggle with the process of healing, and struggle with feeling worse than actually feeling better! when I see that, I smile and say “yes, but that is normal, and it will get better!”

I myself used to be one of those people who really struggled with the process of therapy that it became sometimes unbearable at times.

I used to struggle with the times in between therapy sessions much like you all write about today. I used to struggle with feeling as if therapy was making me worse instead of better! I used to struggle with the feelings of wanting to quit and give up therapy many many times!

I have been through all those same emotions that others have written and talked about when talking about the therapy experience, and just how hard it can be. I have been there, and at times never thought it would get better – but trust me – it DID and I have – and there is healing on the other side of that struggle.

The best way that I can explain to those reading this and going through the tough process of therapy: therapy is like breaking thru the crest of ocean waves, to the other side to where there are calm waters of peace and healing.

Those waves are rough, and they are hard, and they are overwhelming at times, and sometimes they are so strong they push you under and send you back to shore to start over! Those waves can be mean and they can be frustrating and sometimes darn-right atrocious – but they can be defeated! That’s what healing is like! That’s what therapy is like!

Have you ever seen the movie “Cast Away” – after being stuck on the island for 4 years, he finally was given a sail, that sail got him to move past the toughest crests of waves until he finally made it over the toughest wave to the other side of the calm waters – – and when he finally made it over, he looked back at the island of where he was for 4 years – – – that’s what therapy is – therapy is about finding that “sail” to move you into the life that God created you to be in!

Healing is a process of waves! Healing is the fight to get to a place of calm and peace!

In my experience, I have been in therapy with the same therapist for “10 years and 3 months” now. The first year of therapy was brutal! It was the hardest because I didn’t understand the process of being in a room with someone I didn’t even know or trust at the time, opening up about my past and talking about the sexual abuse I endured – that same abuse that was voodoo to talk about in the past.

In the beginning of my process of therapy, I went through most of my sessions with one foot out the door wanting to run out of the room halfway through the session. I literally sat in the chair closest to the door, so that I could get up and run at any moment.

As the years went on, I began to trust the process of therapy … I began to trust my therapist, and I began to trust the therapy room more. I now sit with both feet planted firmly on the floor, and not only that, but I now sit on the couch alongside my therapist who sits with me (sometimes shoulder to shoulder)- – – but it didn’t go without really struggling with each session to get there. It took a lot of work, it took a lot of fight within me to move in that place of vulnerability.

In the beginning process of therapy I really struggled with the off times between session days, and in that struggle, I hated myself for struggling with that space in between sessions thinking I was dependent on therapy or my therapist. (which is one of my biggest fears). My biggest fear from the very beginning of therapy was thinking my therapist would think I was dependent on him or therapy. So when I struggled with that space in between session, it scared me to the core!

There were times in the beginning years of my therapy that I would be in this “heavy funk” after sessions. That funk where you can’t think, or be without thinking about therapy or the process of the things I was talking about. That funk where you can’t eat or do anything outside of just being alone with your thoughts around therapy and the process – It was like opening very old wounds and bleeding without having any control of that bleeding or pain (I used to call it the in between) – that space between therapy and my life outside of therapy.

Honestly? It was brutal, and I don’t think I ever told my therapist just how hard that was in the beginning of our work because I had this deep fear of being dependent on him or therapy, or even worst, him thinking I was dependent on him or therapy.

The funny thing is, when I first began therapy I said to my therapist right off, I said “Andy, the day I become dependent on therapy or you is the day I leave here and never come back” ha ha I can still recall the look on his face when I said it …. and here I am, 10 years later and we still laugh about that today.

My therapist and I connected a lot outside of therapy with emails and texts back then – – but I was very very careful about that because of that huge fear of dependency, so I was very diligent about leaning into my therapist outside of my sessions, until I could finally accept my worth around that realizing that connecting was healing, and there was nothing dependent about that.

Do you want to know something even bigger? Today, I can lean in and connect and not feel ashamed or guilty for it as I realize just how worthy I am of that connection – – – – and it took me a long time to get to that acceptance and realization.

As the years went on with all these struggles and working through the process of therapy, there was a moment to where I finally broke thru that last BIG wave … that last big crashing wave to where I was finally on the other side to the calm waters and that was about a year and a half ago when my healing journey took a turn from hard to calming!

to be honest, those waves of therapy thru the years were hard – VERY HARD!, but they got easier and easier for me to navigate as I worked through the struggles and the fear behind the painful truths of my past!

That last big wave was the one that REALLY changed me; the one that got me over the top to the calmer waters where I could heal freely. I found myself being able to trust more. I found myself being able to be open more.

That wave I broke thru changed me.

Breaking through the last big wave led me to a place of where I can be more open without feeling so raw that I can’t move. That last big wave I endured got me thru to acceptance and allowing myself to feel emotions and not punish myself for having them. Emotions have always been the absolute hardest for me to show, feel, or be with – – I am feeling more now and that is leading me to a whole new place of healing.

My therapist and I today have such a great relationship, and I now embrace the time in between sessions without being in that “funk” or fear of being dependent or forgotten. I love my time in between sessions. I embrace the time for ME and my life with my husband and my now 3 adult boys.

My therapist and I still email in between sessions, but it’s more for connection and good energy before a session rather than doing it because the trust is fading or the connection is fading – – – the connection to therapy and my therapist doesn’t fade anymore! We have such a great routine and connection that feels healing and accepting on so many levels.

I am thankful that my therapist has helped me get to the place I am in today.

Since I crashed through that big wave that I hit a year and a half ago, I have changed in the way of talking about my past and being open about the thoughts I sit with. I am still struggling with my crying wake ups (which I will write more about in the upcoming weeks) – but I believe that the inner child is finally healing and allowing me to be with that part of me more.

So, for those who are still in the rough waves of therapy – those crashing hard waves to where you struggle in between sessions, to where you are in this deep funk while trying to heal your wounds of the past? IT – GETS – BETTER! It gets easier – – give yourself the time you need to learn how to navigate and swim thru the waves coming at you. Give yourself the time to learn how to push thru the harder parts of therapy. It will get better. You will get to the other side where the calm waters are – I KNOW it happened for me.

The place of calm is not so much a place of rest, but a place of healing on a new level. To where you can see more, feel more, endure more with a stronger inner self.

I went through a really hard time about 4-5 years ago to where I almost gave up and swam all the way back thru the waves to the shore! .. but I didn’t give up, I kept going until I pushed to the other side.

You will have moments to where you wonder if therapy is worth it. You will wonder if you will be able to make it through the “in between” times where you’re living your life / being in therapy. Talk about it with your therapist, be open about it, talk to him/her about the waves and how hard they are for you to move thru. Sometimes having someone there with a buoy to float on will help you keep afloat when you need a break.

So for those reading this who are navigating the waves of therapy – – you are healing! You are moving thru the hardest waves of your healing – but it will get better if you keep trying and setting your eyes on the calmer waters beyond the waves .. I know, I am there and still healing on such a different level – YOU are worth it and YOU are not alone!

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healing me forward

The past couple of months have been filled with movement and healing in ways that I have not felt healing and movement before in all the 10+ years I have been in therapy with my therapist.

Friday in session, my therapist and I were reflecting just how much the past couple of months have changed so much for me in the way of “healing”, “understanding”, and more so trusting the “young part” in me to take bigger steps on this journey I have been on for over 10 years now.

Healing is not a destination or a place to arrive. Healing is not something you see, but rather something you feel deep within. There is this quote that I saw that helped me to write this blog today and the quote reads:

“Healing doesn’t change you, it reveals you“

That is what this past couple of months have been for me – revealing moments that I can connect to – revealing images of my past that help me to come closer to the young parts voice that has laid dormant for so long; only showing up in the vulnerable places of my sleep.

I began therapy over 10 years ago, April 21st of 2007 to be exact – and each time I reflect back on that, there is something new to understand about this journey.

Honestly? I didn’t think that I would be on this journey for as long as I have, in fact, I thought it would be a quick fix “talk about my memories, tell my story, work through them, and I am healed” OH no no no! Boy was I wrong! – that is the furthest from the reality of what healing really is about. Healing is a state of being and becoming who we were intended to be. Not the abused version of what I have been through.

Therapy isn’t an “event”, therapy is the process of being me, I am healing wounds to create more movement in the life that God created for me to be. I am in this process of movement and healing old wounds held by the young part of me that has been stuck in the old memories and wounds – to finally being released as I allow her to be present.

The past 5 years for me were hard – really hard. I went through a lot of hard things that caused me to really go inward and isolate for a long long time. I could sit here and write about all the reasons why and what happened, but that’s not important, what IS important is facing and accepting where I am now and what I am moving towards; realizing that the isolated place I was in the past couple of years was just a stuck place – almost like purgatory while I worked hard internally to heal myself into movement.

I literally had to heal myself into movement, and it took a long long time to get out of the funk of isolation and depression I was in these past 5 years! The isolation to where I had pushed everything and everyone away from me.

I stopped going to church, I stopped going out with friends, I completely shut myself out and away from all the things I loved; even my family. I went internal to the young part and clung onto the old fears and old stories of my past and Is at there for a while until I could really see what was going on and where I was.

I allowed the actions of another in the past to dictate my place of being, and that caused me so much pain and suffering! But one day, I woke up! I came to realize that the actions of another are just what It is “the action of another” and it has nothing to do with me or who I am, or where I want to go. Those same childhood fears are not repeating themselves – they are simply showing up so that I can say NO to it, and turn my face to the things that really matter like connection, friends, writing, the things I love – even GOD!

This past year, (especially the past couple of months) I have finally come out of the hard shell of isolation I was in. I finally accepted where I was and why I was in that place in order to move out, and heal forward.

When we truly accept that place of where we were and where we are now – that is when we truly heal forward.

I have come to a place in my healing in therapy where I am allowing the “Young Part” of me to NOT pull me IN, but rather allow me to open UP and allow myself to see and feel what I have been through not only the past 5 years that led me to isolation, and depression but my whole life as an abused neglected hurt child who holds more wounds than anyone should ever hold.

I have never felt healing the way I have felt it these past couple months. I see things I haven’t seen in such a long time. I am finally moving back into things in life I love like friends, church, family, writing, photography.. all of it! I feel like the numb parts of my life are finally gaining feeling and color.

What I do know about healing forward is, as with anything it takes time, care and love! this is a new place, a new place of being, and that deserves space, time and healing.

One of the things I have awoken to again is my writing and this blog. I have had so many people asking me if I could write about my therapy journey again and how much they missed reading about this journey and how much It has helped them. Well, today is the first step back into that part of my journey and although it’s vulnerable and scary, it feels connecting and healing.

My therapist and I were just talking about this in session Friday on how much I have changed and how different my healing is in the way I can talk about things in ways I have never been able to talk about or feel it before. I am blessed for my therapist Andy and all he has done for me and walked with me through on this journey. he is the most caring and compassionate person I have ever met. he knows my story, he knows me and the young part inside, and I couldn’t ask for a better person to hold my story with care, trust and love just as he does. He is such a wonderful person – – – – So Andy, if you’re reading this, or shall I say WHEN you read this :) thank you for this amazing journey thus far!

So, as I wrap up the end of this blog writing, I want to say to all those who connect with my journey and writing – “I look forward to sharing more of what is next on this part of the journey of where I am and where I am looking toward (hard and good) I look forward to sharing and connecting more of the “Healing Forward”! not only in the healing work but in life and through my writing! It’s vulnerable but SO hopeful!!

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