Self Destruction in 3…2…1…

At some point in our lives we self destruct. Am I right? Maybe it’s the pressure of every day life debating whether or not you are spending too much time at work or not enough time at work. It can even be that your child’s birthday party wasn’t like the one you saw on Pintrest or their classmates. Whatever the reason, we some point we hit our breaking point, the point in which we can no longer bear the weight that has been placed upon our shoulders.

Even now, years later, I can still recall my though process prior to making an impulsive, self destructive decision whether in middle school or even into adulthood. My thoughts were always the same, I had made up my mind that whomever I was currently infatuated with, was about to leave and had lost all interest in me…even though those thoughts were based off of my own feelings and not facts. Since whomever I was with at the present moment was about to leave, I justified my behavior believing that I was only moving on and showing the world that I was not hurt on the inside…that I was as tough as I claimed to me. This was not the case, the strength I pretended to have was a facade, it was all pretend. It was the way that I had learned to protect myself after years of feeling left behind and rejected.

I have included the links to the books that have helped in my self sabotaging behavior and helped me identify my triggers while showing me tools too help become more self aware. If you have the chance, please check them out. They have been worth every penny that I have spent. The following books have given me more explanation, tools and self realization than I thought were possible. For a long time I always felt alone and out of place. It was as if my experience made me unique and stand out from the crowd. It wasn’t until decades later that I would meet others that shared in the same type of struggle, that knew the types of feelings that I had experienced.

The light bulb above my head had been turned on and once I had gotten explanation for what I was doing to hurt those I cared most about, I knew it was time to fix it. Fixing it ended up being one of the hardest things to heal from. In fact, I am still healing. I believe this healing journey will be life long. I will tell you that there are days and situations in which I end up thinking the most irrational and ridiculous thoughts but now I know those thoughts are coming and I am prepared for them. Take care of yourself.

 

J

 

The Journey from Abandonment to Healing: Revised and Updated: Surviving Through and Recovering from… by Susan Anderson 

The Abandonment Recovery Workbook: Guidance through the Five Stages of Healing from Abandonment… by Susan Anderson

Taming Your Outer Child: Overcoming Self-Sabotage and Healing from Abandonment by Susan Anderson

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Functional Dysfunction

Sometimes while in the middle of a storm you don’t realize how chaotic or dysfunctional a situation is. It is like the saying of hindsight is 20/20, when we reflect back on certain situations or interactions we may be able to see that something wasn’t right or “normal”. The further you are away from something the more clearly you are able to see it.

In December, I went to see my therapist. There were a couple of situations from the beginning of the month that had sent my anxiety over the edge and I went to check in with her. Since it had been four months since I had last seen or spoken to her there was a lot of catching up to do.

During our conversation we discussed a few things that had gone on recently and a few other things that were upcoming. I casually mentioned to her that I was just in shock that a bourbon society a couple of states away that my uncle (my mom’s cousin) belongs too started a team for their local ALS walk and they will be walking and raising money in memory of my dad. She asked me why I was in so much shock. I told her that my only connection to this society was my uncle and that although they had sponsored my team in the Upstate, I didn’t expect them to create a local team and do the same.

Her response was something I don’t think I will ever forget, her response was simply that I was not used to people acting “normal”, that I had become accustomed to the dysfunction around me and was not able to recognize “normal”. That’s when it hit me. I had become conditioned to believe what had previously surrounded me was “normal”. The reality is that I didn’t really know anything different, certain behaviors, phrases and attitudes I had just assumed were “normal”.  Yet here I am in my early 30’s starting to learn that I was mistaken, that life and families are functional, dysfunctional, functionally dysfunctional and everything in between.

Functional dysfunction stops here.

Where does strength come from

Throughout my life, I have heard from several people, they can’t believe how “strong” I am. After grieving over the loss of two parents, I seem to hear it more. Each time people mention my strength, my response is very short, typically just a thank you. Honestly half of the time I have no idea where the strength comes from, it is just there. It got me thinking, where does our inner strength come from? Do we all have it? Of course we do. Obviously I wouldn’t be writing such a blog if I didn’t think everyone inside them had a warrior hiding inside just waiting to come out.

Just like everyone else, there are definitely days that I don’t feel strong, days where all I want to do is stay in bed under my thick down comforter and not move. Thankfully those days only seem to come around once a month or so but it doesn’t make those days any less real. Somehow I had to tap into my inner strength, something I’m still not 100% how to tap into but I usually made it happen. Sometimes it was because the right song came on at exactly the time I needed it, or because I had been listening to that particular CD on repeat. Otherwise it was because I hid my strength with anger and used the anger as motivation, that always didn’t end the best.

The bottom line is that I don’t have a concrete answer for you. I can sit here all day and tell you that you are amazing and can move mountains but that isn’t anything more than just sitting on Pintrest looking up motivational quotes, yes I’m guilty of that too. I am here to tell you that at some point in our lives we are given the challenge to step up for ourselves, or our kids and are forced into digging down deep to find that warrior. In everyone’s life we are giving an opportunity to crawl out of the depths of the darkest pit and become stronger than you thought possible.

Now would be the time that I say something inspirational like God doesn’t give you more than you can handle or what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. While I think those sayings have the appropriate context, now is not one of them. As helpful as those says are, sometimes it isn’t a comfort to know in the midst of the situation. It is okay to sit in the ugly dark pit, what I am telling you is to not stay there. Don’t allow the every growing void or dark abyss to consume you. Remember that time that you didn’t think you would survive but you did? That’s because your strong. Or that other time that you never thought something was going to happen for you but it did? That took a lot of courage.

Strength doesn’t come from anywhere, it is within us. During some of my weakest moments over the last couple of years, I clung to two Bible verses. The first is 2 Corinthians 12: 9-10, “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about  my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weakness, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” These were the two verses that I clung too as my dad’s disease progressed. It is still some of my favorite verses.

It’s sounds counter intuitive doesn’t it? We aren’t supposed to delight in weakness or difficulties. There were several times while sitting in church that I have heard these verses, but it was until last year that I really understood what they meant. While I the disease was progressing and I was in SC while my dad was in MN, I had a great group of friends that would check in on me. Most of which were from my church small group. They asked what I needed and how to be there for me. I told them I didn’t want anything cliche, I didn’t need to hear the typical saying that are told to those grieving. I needed raw honesty, that the situation sucked and it was okay for me to feel all the feelings. They graciously agreed to my request and were exactly what I needed.

There were some hard days, really had days, even now some days are a struggle. As I look back and reflect on everything I still state that at my weakest, I was my strongest. My church small group would go to a local women’s shelter once a month and give a morning devotional. One morning this verse was on my heart, and I decided to share it and part of where I was in my journey. It was then that I realized that being able to admit that you are at your weakest or lowest is actually a sign of great strength. I’ll type that again just in case you didn’t catch it the first time. Being able to admit that you are at your weakest or lowest is actually a sign of strength. Boom. There it is. In it’s simplest form, true strength comes from admitting when you are at your weakness.

When we are at our weakness and we choose to reach out to others and ask for support or encouragement, we have cast aside our pride and reached out to make a deep connection with someone. That is strength. That takes courage. It definitely isn’t the easiest thing to do and sometimes even for me it’s a struggle but it is amazing to see what happens once you start asking for help.

What?! I can’t be racist…

Growing up not physically looking like my family created some challenges. There were moments in my childhood and beyond where I fell victim to racial slurs and comments. One Christmas while I was home from college there was a discussion of interracial relationships. My stepmother said that it would be “taboo” to bring home a black man, the look on my face must have given her an indication I was confused. Her response was how her family isn’t racist but…by that point I had stopped listening. I was furious. EVERY RELATIONSHIP I was in WAS an interracial relationship. Last time I looked in the mirror I wasn’t white…but I also apparently didn’t count as a person of color (POC). My parents stated that it would be weird if I brought home, someone of another race, even though I’m not white. It always struck me as odd and I tried not to take it personally but how couldn’t I? I am a person of color.

I was raised in a home that didn’t “see color”. Where I was taught that it was on the inside that counts. The truth was is that people DO SEE color, it is one of the first things we notice whether we want to admit it or not. Though it does not define us, it sure as hell matters how we identify ourselves, we see ourselves as POC. While those around my chose not to see color I was aware of it constantly. In school, while learning about the Civil Rights Movement and Japanese internment camps my parents would reassure me that society had made progress since that time and they do not care what color I am. It does matter. As a POC, whether my family sees it or not, my struggles are different than theirs.

Funny thing is that you CAN be a racist even though you have POC as friends or you yourself are a POC, they are not mutually exclusive. Just because you know a POC, are a POC or raised a POC but still, have racist thoughts or feelings STILL MAKES YOU RACIST. I’ve heard excuses like I don’t count because I’m a “Twinkie” (that’s a whole other discussion) because I know this person or that person then racism isn’t an issue or my personal favorite is about the time period someone grew up in. Guess what? It’s not an excuse. You can still have hate in your heart.

The first racial slur I heard was in middle school. I didn’t know what it meant until I asked my dad. It made me mad for several reasons most importantly because I am not Chinese, I am Korean. Initially, I did not know what the word meant, I just knew that I was mad. I believe that race is something that needs to be discussed, you can be “colorblind” while still being able to address race.

Recently while I was driving down the road a truck passed me and yelled another racial slur. No, I wasn’t being a stereotypical “Asian woman driver”, I was stopped in a turn lane waiting my turn during rush hour. It had been a long time since I had heard a racial slur with so much hate directed at me.  After that, I knew eventually I would have to have a discussion with my son. My son is half Korean and half Caucasian, his physical features are mostly mine, he looks more Asian than he does white. He will need to understand that there is hate in this world and there may be times that he may fall victim to it. There is a sense of duty to protect my child from the hate and even though I cannot shield him from everything I can teach him about it so he will understand.

Whether or not we have the ability to admit it or not, on some level whether it be conscious or not, we are aware of race, society is aware of race. There are still discrepancies in this world between the races and not addressing it is part of the problem. We cannot confront what is not known. The question comes down to, are you going to sit back and watch or muster your courage and do something about it?