Why did you lie?

Enlightenment-  Sharon Cummings

Truth is a deep kindness that teaches us to be content in our everyday life and share with the people the same happiness. ~ Khalil Gibran

Has somebody lied to you? Was it something you could forgive and forget? Or were you wanting to put the issue behind you, but left wondering ‘Why?’

Not all lies are the same. There is a huge difference between not being completely honest in order not to offend someone compared to a complete fabrication of the truth. Likewise there is a distinction between failing to keep a promise because something has genuinely prevented a person from following through and failing to keep a promise because that someone had no intention of keeping their word in the first place.

For me a bare-faced lie means that the person has no regard for your feelings, whereas a promise made to be broken means that person is deliberately setting out to manipulate your feelings. Both though are deceptions that can leave you feeling let down and lost.

Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth. ~ Buddha

It’s not just the extent of the deceit that will determine the depth of the pain. Being lied to by a stranger is manageable because there’s no emotional investment. On the other hand, being lied to by somebody you care for can be heart-breaking.

When someone I loved betrayed me I was left bewildered and emotionally battered. He had promised faithfully to get help for a problem that was destroying our relationship. For my part I had done everything he asked and given him many chances, but essentially the issue was his and only he could fix it.

You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge, so when he eventually promised to go to counselling I believed it was a sign that he wanted to be accountable for the past and be responsible for his future. Such was the intensity of his declarations that I had no reason not to trust him. He had looked me straight in the eyes and vowed he would do whatever was necessary to change.

After years of swinging from crisis to calm, I envisioned our relationship becoming stable and secure. The combination of relief and excitement kept me positive during the wait for an appointment. But when it arrived he looked me straight in the eyes and declared with the same intensity as before that he wasn’t going.

The truth was out. He had lied.

Looking back I think I knew he had never meant it. If I had been honest with myself I would have remembered how many times he had misled me in the past. Yet somehow when you want something so badly, you can convince yourself that this time will be different. It never is.

We think that forgiveness is weakness, but it’s absolutely not; it takes a very strong person to forgive. ~T. D. Jakes

As a woman of faith I know the importance of forgiveness, not simply because it ultimately sets me free, but because it is the right thing to do. But there is a difference between being compassionate and being spineless; between being forgiving and being used.

In my situation, he had clearly abused my loving nature and assumed that my faith would once again enable him to get away with his deception.  But he had lied for the last time and now it was my turn to makes some promises that I intended to keep.

I promised him that I would no longer accept his toxic behaviour and I promised to take responsibility for my part of the relationship only.

Then I promised myself that I would forgive because I know that forgiveness is infinitely more beneficial to me than the person I am forgiving. I promised to let go of the rage and despair because I know when the negative thoughts disappear, I allow the negative emotions to subside. I promised myself peace of mind.

For every good reason there is to lie, there is a better reason to tell the truth. ~Bo Bennett

Whilst I made the decision to make positive choices, there remained the question yet unanswered, ‘Why did he lie to me?’

I could forgive his apprehension at following through with counselling, but I couldn’t understand how he could deliberately deceive me. He knew the truth would come out in the end, yet he was willing to mess with my mind and break my heart.

I’ll never know the real reason he lied. Perhaps it was arrogance. Perhaps it was denial. Perhaps it was fear.

Abundant Life - Sharon CummingsIn the end I realised there was no point in asking ‘why?’ And if you have been similarly hurt, stop asking ‘why’ too, for it will keep you tied to the past at a time when you should be looking to the future. Having your question answered won’t change a thing and it certainly won’t change the person who deceived you.

It takes courage to be honest enough to face the truth about a relationship, but when I did it set me free. It set me free to let go of someone who was causing me pain, free to heal and free to become the person I was meant to be. 

What about you? Do you need to stop wondering ‘why’ and simply say ‘goodbye’?

©Carolyn Hughes The Hurt Healer. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without written permission.

 

Huge thanks to Sharon Cummings for allowing me to use her beautiful artwork – Enlightenment and Abundant Life – Copyright Sharon Cummings 2014. (May not be reproduced in any form without her permission.) Take a look at her other work here: http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/1-sharon-cummings.html

It’s never too late to dream.

beauty of their dreams‘You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.’ – C.S. Lewis

It’s good to dream. As your mind takes you to a place of endless possibilities and infinite destinies a dream can be anything you want it to be. It can be a pleasurable reverie that you enjoy in the moment and let fade.

But the thoughts which lead you to fulfill your aspirations and visualize your future should never be allowed slip away.

Because a life without dreams is a life without hope.

‘Hope is the dream of the waking man.’ – Aristotle

Childhood trauma stole many things from me; my sense of self-esteem, my ability to trust and my capability to expect anything good. For many years my hopes for the future were never an issue because I was too busy trying to numb out the past and the demands of each day were worrying enough.

If you too have been brought up to anticipate the worst, or if your life has been continuously tough, you will understand how hard it can be to be optimistic about your prospects or to follow your desires.

For many years I believed that dreaming was frivolous and pointless. In fact my mantra was, ‘why bother it’ll never happen’. I was convinced this was the best way to protect myself from further disappointment and rejection. Deep down I wanted to envisage success, happiness and love in my life, but I was overwhelmed by my belief that I didn’t deserve any of it.

‘Faith is like a bird that feels dawn breaking and sings while it is dark.’ – Rabindranth Tagore

One of the greatest revelations to me in my journey to recovery was discovering my self-worth. And if you don’t believe that you are worth it then it’s time to started to make that journey too.

For me it started with making the decision to embrace who I was on every level; physical, social, emotional and spiritual. It was a gradual enlightenment stemming from the love that I experienced when I chose to reclaim my faith.

Faith helped me to begin to love myself for who I was and for who I was not. Once I was able to love myself (and my imperfections), I could believe that in not only did my life have a purpose but that I had a right to pursue my passions. As my confidence increased so too did my ability to dream. For faith enabled me to believe in the unimaginable; to reach for the unattainable and to the dream the impossible.

‘Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.’ – Gloria Steinem

It’s not enough simply to have aspirations though. What has begun in the imagination has to make the transition into reality. Dreaming isn’t a passive past-time. It’s the active pursuit of your vision and the determined mind-set to see it through.

As someone who battled with depression and alcoholism for 20 years, I often dreamt of being happy and sober. But imagining such a life was futile until I made the commitment to change.

Achieving my dreams took courage, faith and determination. It wasn’t easy and of course there have been many challenges along the way, but the wonderful thing about setting your goals is that you can determine what they are and how you reach them. How long it takes is not important, as long as you keep moving forward.

‘Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.’ – Hebrews 11:1 NIV

Know too that while some aspirations stay the same, your hopes can change too. Yesterday my dream was to reach a day when I could live without a drink. Today I strive for that same goal and it’s also what I wish for tomorrow. God willing that never change.

In sixteen years of recovery, many of my other dreams have transformed as I too have transformed.  My ‘why bother, it’ll never happen’ thinking has been replaced with the expectation for good things to transpire. My ‘barely getting by’ attitude has been renewed by anticipating abundance. My ‘I’m not good enough to deserve this’ philosophy has been superseded by the conviction that I am perfectly imperfect which is good enough and always was.

it's never too late to dreamNot every vision has to be a huge life-changing event. Little steps are just as significant. Big or small, it’s never too late to dream.

‘The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.’ – Eleanor Roosevelt

 

 

 

 

A little ray of sunshine.

you are my sunshineKeep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow.’ – Helen Keller

Do you believe that every day brings the possibility for a little ray of sunshine? Or does negativity overshadow your life? Is your glass half-empty and running out fast? Or is it half-full and waiting for a sparkling refill? The choice is yours.

An upbeat attitude can bring brighten up the gloomiest of circumstances. Choosing to think positively can revive you when you feel weary, provide clarity in chaos and keep you encouraged during uncertainty And when you make a conscious decision to refuse to allow the darkness to engulf you, you keep the way clear for your optimistic thoughts to shine.

Admittedly there are some days when tragedy strikes or a huge disappointment has to be dealt with and it is impossible to feel anything but despair. That’s a natural and expected way to react to a serious life event. It’s during those times however that you need to dig deep into the warm memories from the past until the shadows of your trauma have passed.

‘Whoever is happy will make others happy too.’ Anne Frank

Some people however have a consistently pessimistic outlook that overshadows everything. Their negativity can be emotionally draining not only for themselves but those around them. My advice is to steer clear of those who continue to wallow in self-pity and misery. You don’t need that in your life.

Instead surround yourself with those who can nurture, support and encourage you. Allow their positive support to strengthen you and motivate you. Happiness is infectious, so keep near to bright, cheerful souls and catch hold of the light. 

If that sounds too simple or too good to be true, I understand. It took me many years to catch hold of that light.

I grew up in a fearful atmosphere of darkness. As a result depression and alcoholism took their hold on my life at an early age. I developed a self-fulfilling prophesy of doom and gloom. Experience taught me not to expect good from anything or anybody, so I set myself up for repeated disappointments.

Whilst I had alcohol – ‘my sunshine in a bottle’, I could manage the rejections and failures in life. But of course my reliance on a drink rapidly developed into addiction and I spiraled into the darkness of despair.

‘Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.’   Psalm 119:105

An alcohol induced suicide attempt signaled the need to give up the drink for good, yet my pessimistic self feared the worst. I couldn’t imagine how I would ever be happy again. I held on to the tiniest glimmer of hope and somehow found the courage to make my way towards the light. The light of love.

It was faith that shone the light of love in my way and helped smash through the bleakness of my life. My journey of recovery involved breaking down the psychological barriers that were keeping me in dark oppression.

I replaced each negative omen with a little ray of sunshine that came in the form of trust, kindness, hope, healing. And if you are fighting your way through some dark times let me offer each and every one of those to you too.

On those days when I feel the clouds have gathered or I’m in the midst of a personal storm I am reassured that it won’t be long before I feel the warmth of affection. Those that love Rengahenk_by_Doriahme are my little rays of sunshine. They are family and friends who illuminate my life and reveal the glittering promises of good things to come.

And it’s good to return the love. Even the smallest gestures can bring brightness to someone’s day. So follow the wise words from Amma;

‘Always have a smile on your face, kind words on your lips and a compassionate heart.’

 And you too can be a little ray of sunshine.

Image thanks to http://doriah.deviantart.com/

A Soft Place to Fall

Amanda Cass

Amanda Cass

‘I will soothe you and heal you,
I will bring you roses.
I too have been covered with thorns.’  Rumi

Life can be wonderful yet sometimes it can simply be tough. Whether it’s a broken heart, a damaged relationship, work problems, an unexpected illness or a disease that you’ve been battling with for years, there are times when everyone needs a soft place to fall.

As a mother, it’s something that I accept without question for my children.  If they hurt themselves, if they fall-out with a friend, if they didn’t do as well as they had hoped in exam – I’m there to hug, hold and soothe. Then later when we have more time I can reassure them they are not alone and encourage them to put the difficulty behind them and move on.

I do it without hesitation and for as long as required, for the knowledge that I am their soft place to fall is as beneficial to me as it is to them. They are loved unconditionally. They are wanted and needed. And so am I.

‘My heart is as strong as the depth of my scars.’  The Hurt Healer

In an ideal world everyone would grow up feeling secure and safe despite the stormy seasons, but many don’t. I didn’t either. Being abandoned and abused as a child left me searching for anything that would numb the memories and heal the scars. Alcohol became my soft place to fall, or my ‘hurt healer’ as I called it. It worked for a while but soon the drink turned from friend to foe and I was forced to make a choice between ‘addiction and death’ or ‘sobriety and life’.

The thought of losing the security of alcohol and having to join the real world was terrifying. And by that time the depression I had battled with for years had spiralled out of control. Fearful of the real world, my worry was ‘Who’s going to catch me if I fall?”  In reality I was so physically, psychologically and spiritually broken that I was at rock bottom anyway. I’d already fallen, there’d been no one to catch me and I’d never felt so completely and desperately alone.

 ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.’  Matthew 11:28 NIV

To get up and stay up though I had to find another sanctuary that would fill the void of alcoholism and lift me out of the darkness of my mind. Initially it was through faith that I started to find healing. It offered me a resting place of comfort, and peace. Nothing was required of me except that I stay in the presence of spirit of love. Faith was and is my ultimate and infinite soft place to fall. And even during those times when life seems like a roller-coaster of chaos and disappointment, it never lets me down.

As started on the slow process to self acceptance I began was able to leave behind the need to be critical and judgemental. Instead I choose to view myself with compassion and empathy. And rather than stay trapped in the torment of the past, I decided to forgive the unforgivable.

‘Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.’  Brené Brown

As I travelled along my journey to recovery I discovered that my vulnerability was no longer my weakness, it was a revelation of my authentic self. So I didn’t have to be confined by my past and I didn’t have to be defined by others. I found the freedom to recreate myself as the person I was meant to be.

But I also discovered that I had a new soft place to fall and that was within me.

Amanda Cass

Amanda Cass

Life will always have ups and downs, celebrations and disappointments, miracle moments and tragedies. So when times are hard make sure that you surround yourself with those who will nurture and care; inspire and encourage. Whether it’s faith, family, friends or from inside your soul, it’s always good to have a soft place to fall.

Where’s yours?

‘Smile, breathe and go slowly.’  Thich Nhat Hanh

 

Huge thanks to Amanda Cass for allowing me to use her beautiful artwork  (May not be reproduced in any form without her permission.) Take a look at her other work here: http://www.redbubble.com/people/theartoflove

Sorry.

mariana stauffer

Mariana Stauffer

Sorry. A little word with a big impact. Genuinely meant as an expression of remorse, it has the power to restore a relationship.

But how many times can someone say sorry before it becomes valueless?

If you have heard ‘Sorry’, once too often or worse still, don’t hear it all,then it’s time things changed.

‘How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.’ – Wayne Dyer

My damaging and dysfunctional childhood resulted in a complete lack of self-esteem and worth. So it wasn’t surprising that as an adult I found myself in a relationship where sorry was never spoken. In his world sorry was a sign of weakness and to preserve his perception of his superiority he would say or do anything but apologize.

It didn’t matter how abusive he became, it was always someone else’s fault. Actually it was nearly always my fault – I was too sensitive, too intense, too controlling, too critical. And even when I would feel brave enough to confront him about his name calling and put downs, I would be accused of having no sense humor. But believe me, there was nothing funny about the verbal abuse and his unreasonable demands.

Thankfully I started to challenge my own victim mentality and realized that although he wasn’t going to change, I could. Finding the courage to make the transition from victim to survivor, I learnt that the responsibility for my happiness lay with me. And I grasped a truth that was the catalyst for my healing –  you can ‘t change other people and you can’t change the past. But you can choose how you react.

Of course I did want to hear ‘ I am sorry and I shouldn’t have behaved like that’ or ‘I won’t treat you like this again’ and ‘How can I make it up to you?’, but I didn’t need to hear any of it, in order for me to make a decision about my relationship.

For those of you who have the opposite experience of someone who apologizes all the time only to carry on hurting you time and time again, remember that ‘sorry’ can be the last thing they say before you walk away.

‘Tear out arrogance and seed humility. Exchange love for hate — thereby, making the present comfortable and the future promising.’ – Maya Angelou                          

As I learned how to define my boundaries, and to hold others accountable (myself included) I realized that it was also important to maintain a sense of serenity whenever I was offended. For me, a peaceful soul keeps me joyful and positive whatever my circumstances.

Whether intentionally or unintentionally, people do act thoughtlessly and cause harm. But a heartfelt apology from a place of love can heal the deepest wounds. Sometimes a simple ‘Sorry’ is enough, but you may require something more. Sincere remorse and a willingness to make amends are all steps to restoring trust and love.

Whatever is spoken or promised however, what really matters is how the person behaves afterwards. When it comes to apologizing, actions do speak louder than words.

‘Write injuries in sand, kindnesses in marble’ – French proverb

I love the gentleness of that statement and the sentiment of remembering the positive rather than the negative is how I would like others to view me. Nobody is perfect and when I mess up and say things I regret, I want to be able to say sorry and for my mistakes to be forgotten and forgiven.

Mariana Stauffer

When I say sorry it means I’m not perfect, and that’s okay. It means I didn’t intentionally want to cause offense and I want to make amends. It means I am hurting as much as you. and I don’t want either of us to feel that way again.

When I say ‘Sorry’ I mean it. Do you?

Huge thanks to Marianna Stauffer for allowing me to use her wonderful and inspiring artwork  (May not be reproduced in any form without her permission.) Take a look at her other work here: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/malorcka

If you’re afraid to do it, do it afraid.

fearless‘Be gentle, truthful and fearless.’ – Gandhi

What are you frightened of? Anything that stops you living your life to the full, whether it’s fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of the future can all impact on your life. Yet it is possible to overcome that detrimental negative thinking. You may never be completely fearless but you can learn to break out of your comfort-zone and find the freedom to take your life to a new level.

‘If you can, help others; if you cannot do that, at least do not harm them.’ –  Dalai Lama

Abandoned by my mother at an early age, I grew to avoid making anything other than superficial relationships. Whilst I longed for love and connection, there was the possibility that I would be discarded. Accepting this as a truth, my dread of rejection progressed to a deeper level to a fear of attachment.

Unfortunately my father reinforced an even more deep-rooted fear in me. His abusive and dysfunctional words and behaviour towards me installed the conviction that I wasn’t good enough. Not for anything or for anybody. He manipulated my perception to the point that I was not only ashamed of whom I was but of who I thought I would become.

The reality as I progressed into adulthood was that I was terrified of being ‘me’ at every level. I wanted to speak up but I was frightened of being heard. I wanted to reveal my personality but I was frightened of being seen. I wanted to love, but I was frightened of being loved.

‘Sometimes our first and greatest dare is asking for support.’ ~ Brené Brown

As the years passed, so did my spiral into depression and alcoholism. Both however reinforced my sense of blame and inadequacy. And whilst on the outside I wore a mask of happiness, confidence and fearlessness, inwardly I lived with terror that gripped my mind, body and soul.

Of course I never asked for help because I was too flawed, too damaged and too unlovable, to allow anyone into my imperfect world. Consequently it wasn’t until I hit absolute physical and mental rock-bottom that others intervened to save me from myself.

Once of the greatest challenges I faced when I started on my journey to recovery was to let other people to nurture, comfort and guide me. For me, asking for support was to reveal my complete failure as a human being. But how wrong I was. For I learned that by reaching out, I not only found the way to move on from my past insecurities but I gained courage and strength in the process. Yet really it all began with a cry for help.

‘For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.’                     ~2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV)

So if you’re battling with an inner voice that consistently criticises and demeans, be encouraged. Just as you have been brain-washed to listen only to the negative, so too can you bring those dark thoughts into the light, confront them for what they are and develop an encouraging and fearless mentality. 

For me, it was easier to look to my faith to provide the support that I needed so badly. For it wasn’t simply my body and mind that were broken, but my spirit and soul. The gentle breath of faith helped me to heal from within, and remains with me today.

if you're afraid to do it, do it afraidRecovery has taken many years and although I do still experience the sensation of fear, it no longer controls me through depression and alcoholism. I do indeed have a sound mind, a vibrant spirit and a compassionate soul. They form the basis of my ability to love and be loved. That is power.

If you’re captive of your past, living with an anxiety-filled present or dreading the future, then learning how to live fearlessly will set you free.

And if you’re afraid to do it, do it afraid!

‘Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.’ ~ Mark Twain.

Writing – The Blog Tour

Writing_-The_Blog_TourWhether or not you write well, write bravely.” ~ Bill Stout
If you enjoy the process of writing or blogging, you might also enjoy reading why and how others share their creative talents. Thanks to author Jenny Alexander I have the opportunity to share some of my own insights from The Hurt Healer as part of The Blog Tour. Jenny’s post ‘The Grand Blog Tour arrives at the House of Dreams!’ gives a wonderful snapshot of her writing inspirations, aspirations and what makes her genre unique. Do take a look and watch out for her book ‘Writing in the House of Dreams’, due out later this year.

The Blog Tour asks 4 questions that I am looking forward to answering.

What are you working on?

“A word after a word after a word is power.” ~ Margaret Atwood.

As a freelance writer I am always working on a variety of different articles, sometimes for magazines or newsletters, or for online sites covering a huge range of subjects; addiction, mental health, women, family, abuse, relationships, faith, well-being. And of course I also write The Hurt Healer.

This week I am working on some articles for an addiction organisation to help others who are seeking to recover and lead extraordinary lives and I’m also doing a guest post for a therapy website. (I receive ridiculous amounts of requests to guest blog so I do have to limit how many I agree to!)

I’m continuously working on notes for The Hurt Healer and I’m also working on some e-books and e-workshops which will be integrated into my new website later this year.

How does your work differ from others of its genre?

“Let me live, love, and say it well in good sentences” ~ Sylvia Plath

Whether it’s for publications on a shelf or on-line, I always write from experience and that well-known advice to ‘write about what you know’ is so true for me! Essential to all my writing is that it doesn’t just come from the head but that it comes from the heart.

Although there are lots of blogs of a similar genre to mine, I think what makes The Hurt Healer different is the amount of sharing of myself that is included in each post. When you read my blog, you read the work of my authentic self and not just the facts of the subject.

Why do you write what you do?

 “I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.” Anne Frank

If you’re familiar with The Hurt Healer you will know that my ethos is that your past doesn’t have to define your present. I have experienced many difficulties in my own life, so as I share these times I hope that the reader can be inspired and encouraged to overcome their own struggles.

I often get asked about why I share so openly, and the answer is simple. Because I can. By reclaiming my faith at the start of my emotional recovery I have been able to reclaim my life. Today I strive to live my life as the person I was meant to be, and I write so that others will see that it is possible and desirable to pursue their authentic too.

How does your writing process work?

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” ~ Stephen King

My writing process starts with reading a lot. I’ve always several books on the go and I read online, with an e-reader and I still love a proper paper book. I have to admit my mind is constantly filling up with writing ideas and consequently I have notebooks everywhere to jot these down.

When I actually sit down to complete a piece I usually have a good idea of what I want to include, but I start with a rough draft. There’s always a great deal of editing as I inevitably write too much, so I fine-tune until I am happy with it.

Magazine articles tend to have to be quite structured and formal, so one of the nicest things about my blog is that I can allow the post to develop more organically. Sometimes it can turn out completely differently to how I envisaged at the outset. And I love that freedom!

Well I hope you’ve enjoyed my replies and now it’s time to introduce you to three other writers with a diversity of styles who will be joining The Blog Tour on 12th May.

In her own words Michelle Smith says that her ‘writing has kept her sober’ but she is so much more than a recovering alcoholic who writes. Expressive and innovative, her blog rising woman is a great place to start to find out more about her short-stories and novels. If you love gritty, thought-provoking writing featuring strong women then you will love what she has to offer. 

I first met  Sandra Bellamy through her blog quirky books.  Having been made redundant twice, she decided to turn her life around and pursue her two passions; writing and helping people. See how she achieves both by visiting her new site beat redundancy blues. And keep an eye out for her book due to be released on Amazon: Break Through The Barriers of Redundancy to Get Back Into Work – An A-Z ‘How to’ guide.

For full-on faith writing, Susan Schiller of Writing Ourselves to a Better World is a site that will inspire. Not only does she share her own amazing life-story, but she helps and supports others to do the same. Under the guidance of her passionate beliefs, she has a heart to help the hurting transform their lives. As well as offering the opportunity to share Heart Scribes , Susan offers an ecourse on memoir writing.

Please do visit them, and a final thank you again to Jenny Alexander for the invitation to the tour. My next post will be something completely different; ‘If you’re afraid to do it, do it afraid!’

“Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.” Gloria Steinem