You Are Not a Plate

This meme has been floating around the internet for a while now. I’ve seen several people post it on their Facebook pages. It makes me sad.

You are not a plate

I understand that these people are trying to explain that they have been traumatized in one way or another. Some people have gone through some horrific experiences at the hands of others. Speaking from experience, that isn’t right and it isn’t fair and it changes you. I agree that no one should have the right to be cruel or abusive to anyone else. If only a meme would prevent that. We all know that it won’t.

I also understand that someone saying sorry isn’t going to make everything all sunshine and lollipops again. But I disagree that this show of remorse isn’t helpful. It can be part of your healing process. An even bigger part, albeit a very difficult one, is forgiveness. Forgiveness isn’t for the person or persons who have wronged you. It’s for you. It sets you free.

This meme, to me, is a way of saying that you’ve been hurt by the world and you absolutely refuse to heal, or you can’t find a path toward healing. That’s tragic. It says you’ve taken the unwanted abuse and now intend to grasp it tightly, with both hands, for the rest of your life, even though you never wanted it in the first place.

But here’s the thing, dear reader: You are not a plate. You are not an inanimate object that is broken and is then forever frozen in time in that broken state. You are a living, breathing human being.

Healing is not easy. But if you are refusing to work toward it, you’re simply being self-destructive on top of the destruction that has been visited upon you. To remain wounded is your choice. It’s a choice only you can make. Why would you want to do that?

Yes, you will have scar tissue. We all have some to a certain extent. No, you’re not going to be the same as before.

Yes, what happened to you is wrong. But you’re not a plate. You can seek help, or find growth and healing on your own. A way forward is out there if you seek it. You don’t have to stop being a viable human being. Don’t give someone else that power to negate you in that way.

Don’t cling to your trauma so tightly that you can’t use your hands to build a life for yourself. Don’t relegate yourself to the status of a broken plate for the rest of your life. You are so much more than that. I promise.

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What to Take with You

I can’t speak for you, but sometimes I feel so completely freakin’ misunderstood that I even begin to question myself. It’s astounding how many people there are out there who are willing to tell you that you shouldn’t feel the way you feel or that you shouldn’t do what you do. The world is so full of noise that it’s hard for people to listen. And everybody’s a critic.

After enough time in that emotional meat grinder, I feel completely drained of my life force, and I start to wonder if they’re right and I’m wrong. Maybe if I just twist myself into a particular kind of knot, maybe then I’ll be viewed as saner, stronger, braver, more confident, less irrational, more well balanced, and more appealing. I, too, can be functional, if only…

“Stop being so sensitive.” “Stick up for yourself.” “It’s not that big of a deal.” “Here’s how you should have handled it.” “Why do you think that way?” “You’re making too much of it.” “This is how everyone else sees it.” “Grow up.”

It’s enough to make me want to crawl into a hole and pull a rock over the entrance. Just long enough to lick my wounds. Long enough to heal and remember who I am. Long enough to keep my wounded butt from lashing out and verbally tearing my attacker limb from limb. Because despite how much it may be merited, it never helps.

What do I take with me into that healing place? Truth. The things that I know are true about myself. The things that no one can take away from me no matter how hard they try. Everyone has a different set of things. Here are some of mine, in no particular order.

  • I am intelligent.

  • I love my dog and my dog loves me.

  • I’m a good writer.

  • I am a fantastic bridgetender.

  • People can count on me.

  • If I say I’ll do something, it gets done.

  • I’m not afraid of being alone.

  • I love a hot bath.

  • I have a great sense of humor.

  • I’m good with my money.

  • I love to learn.

  • I have a creative mind.

  • I’m curious.

  • I draw strength from nature.

  • I can be trusted.

  • I live to travel.

  • I set goals, and I work toward them.

  • I am a good friend.

  • People confide in me.

I’m proud of these things. I hold them close. They are my passions, my values, and my strengths. They are what hold me together even when I feel like I’m being torn apart.

Never forget that you have your very own set of things. Take them with you wherever you go. They are what’s best about you, even in your darkest hour.

So, hold on to your truth. Tell your detractors to get stuffed. And don’t ever, ever give up.

learn to fly

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Hostile Poetry

I will be the first to admit that writing can be very therapeutic. I have vented my spleen enough in this blog to be able to attest to this firsthand. And I highly recommend journaling or expressing yourself creatively when you are trying to work through your feelings. It can go a long way toward helping you communicate assertively with the person or persons who stirred up these emotions within you.

That’s the healthy scenario.

And then there are those who write bitter diatribes instead of communicating. They sit on those feelings for a decade or more, and let them fester and eat away at their souls. They can’t grow up or move on, like 13-year-olds trapped in aging bodies.

I got to read one such poem the other day, in which the author stated that he’d get a vicarious thrill in watching someone else get hurt. It really made me sad about his arrested development and his inability to communicate and get past his pain.

That this person chose to post this in a public forum makes me question his mental health. It’s a cry for help, but it’s an impotent one. It puts the focus on the pain instead of on the healing. The only thing it achieves is making others feel sorry for him.

Yes, there’s no guarantee that the instigator of your pain is going to understand or apologize or make you feel better if you try to talk to him or her. That person may not even be in your life anymore. But vomiting out your emotions for the world to see will only cause you to be pitied.

Write and then communicate. Or write to educate. Or just write. Or just communicate. Or seek therapy.

But don’t wear your wounds on your forehead for the world to wince at and then do absolutely nothing to treat them. It’s not a good look. And it sure as hell isn’t healthy.

Just a little head wound

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Scars

After my recent surgery I spent a week in a cast, wondering what my scar was going to look like. I didn’t look while the procedure was in progress. I’d have passed out cold.

I needn’t have worried, because upon removing the cast I discovered the incision was less than a half inch long, and right where my skin naturally creases, so I suspect that eventually no one will even notice it but me. More shocking was the huge green bruise on my wrist and palm, but that will fade with time.

Me, in a state of transition.
Me, in a state of transition.

I actually love scars. On other people. Scars usually come with really interesting stories. They are evidence of a life well-lived. They make people seem more human, somehow.

I remember sitting in a mall as a teenager, and an absolutely mind-blowingly handsome guy walked by. I was in awe. And then he turned his head, and the entire other side of his face was severely, irretrievably burned. It brought tears to my eyes. Not because of the dreadful sight, or what the poor man had obviously been through, but because he’ll probably go through his life never knowing how gorgeous he is. That broke my heart. If I had been older and more confident, I might have told him so. I wish I had.

I was talking to a friend the other day about scars. He mentioned that we have a word for the hardening, toughening of skin. Scarring. But we don’t have a word for the softening, the opening up, the making more vulnerable.

“Yes we do,” I said. “Healing.”

Little Shards of Emotion

When I was around 17 it was decided that I needed my wisdom teeth removed. Unfortunately three of them were so deeply impacted that the dentist had to saw away parts of my jaw to get to them. Needless to say, the healing process was no picnic. But what they didn’t warn me about was the fact that for the next 6 months or so, I would occasionally eject little shards of bone at random moments. It would always bring me up short. “Ptooey! Where did that come from?”

I have noticed that at various times in my life I’ve had the emotional equivalent of that experience. During times of great stress and/or great change, certain issues will rise to the surface and take me by surprise. Fears or insecurities I didn’t know I had. Anger that I thought I’d long since gotten past. Gratitude for things and people I had been taking for granted for ages.

When I start reacting in ways that even I can’t predict, it’s time for me to take a deep breath, step back and really think about the true source of my emotions. Often the current situation is simply reminding me of something from the past. And the older I get, the more past I have to draw upon.

It’s important for me to keep in mind that the question of where something came from doesn’t just apply to little shards of bone. And answering that question when it comes up is the key to understanding, coping, and moving on.

Shards

This is one of my fractals, “Shards” and can be purchased in the form of greeting cards, mugs, and prints along with almost 600 other fractal items here.

Crystalized Love

My late boyfriend believed pretty strongly in the healing power of crystals. He always had crystals around him and he gave them as gifts to the people that he loved. I have several on my windowsill and gaze at them every day.

I’ve always admired their beauty, and am fascinated by what the planet can produce without really trying, so I enjoy having them around me. Do I think they heal? The jury is still out on that. But even if any positive results that they produce are purely due to the placebo effect, I say more power to them. Whatever works.

My favorite thing about these crystals is that they are a physical, tangible piece of evidence of Chuck’s love. He left these in his wake wherever he went. Many of his friends, after his passing, said they held these crystals while they cried for him, and it gave them comfort. Others say they carry them wherever they go, and they think of Chuck and smile.

So maybe crystals do heal after all. I’d like to think so. Just in case, I’ll keep mine forever close to my heart.

crystals

[Image credit: Plazilla.com]

Mental Illness and the Internet

Sometimes I really think that cyberspace is not the healthiest place to be. Every once in a while I encounter someone who is clearly in need of help, and since I’m not a mental health professional I am definitely not the go-to girl in situations of this nature.

Generally all I can do is the same thing I do when I encounter a rattlesnake in the bush: calmly and gingerly step back to a safe distance and then run like hell. In the digital world that means block, delete, ignore until they get bored and go away, whatever it takes to take myself out of that person’s realm.

The other day I was visiting a Facebook page that celebrates a certain breed of dog, and a lady posted about her guilt and anguish that her beloved dog had just gotten hit by a car. We were all saying things along the lines of, “I’m so sorry for your loss” as you do, when two different nut jobs chime in that she was careless, it was all her fault, and that she shouldn’t get another dog because she was utterly irresponsible.

This, without knowing the whole story. This, at the most inappropriate moment someone with even a modicum of tact could possibly conceive. But there you go. And it did, in fact, turn out to be an unavoidable accident that could not be prevented, even by a very loving pet owner. This was a tragedy that was definitely not made lighter by two people with borderline personality disorders who were incapable of keeping their mouths shut.

In the virtual world of Second Life, I’ve met quite a few amazing, wonderful people who will be friends for life, but I’ve also met my fair share of pathological liars who are only in there to manipulate people and see how much emotional damage they can cause. It seems to be a playground for sociopaths who want to experiment in ways they could never get away with in the real world.

And I’ve also encountered a few crazies on this blog. A psychopath once told me that a mass murderer I had mentioned should actually be celebrated for his acts as he had done the world a great service. My blood ran cold with that one.

And once or twice I’ve made the mistake of disagreeing with a narcissist and the response I’ve gotten was epic and totally out of proportion to my statement. Narcissists love to blog, and love to read other people’s blogs so that they can point out their many flaws and therefore feel, for a brief shining moment, intellectually superior. Their blogs are generally self-absorbed, irrational and easy to dismantle, but for the love of God, don’t do it, even with the most helpful intentions, or you will risk their wrath. It’s a very fragile bubble in which these people live.

Of course, most bloggers are fine, stable people who are writing to explore the world and its intricacies or to put forth new perspectives without forcing them upon anyone, or they simply want to share opinions or entertain. When you cross over to the dark side, I believe, is when your blog becomes, “All you people are idiots! Here’s the unfounded truth!” Never let the facts get in the way of a good story.

Cyberspace is also the hunting ground for stalkers, bullies, and people with every form of sexual disorder. To dwell in all things digital is to realize that there is a lot of sickness in this world. Tread carefully, dear readers.

I’d like to think, though, that in some circumstances being in here can be a healing experience. One can make friends and build up an emotional support group that will shore you up against waves of depression. It may also allow agoraphobics or those who are socially awkward to interact with the wider world. It can inform and it can make you feel less alone.

Perhaps the internet is the universe’s way of teaching us that we need to be more self-protective and set up very clearly defined boundaries. But every now and then I must admit that I prefer the sanctuary of a good book or the comfort of a real life, in-the-flesh hug.

Narcissus-Caravaggio_(1594-96)_edited

Narcissus by Caravaggio