Friday, December 30, 2016

Hunting Hope From 2016 Going into 2017: Waking Up Hopeful, Boundaries, and A Rose Analogy

 I felt a shift in my own energy field on the night of Christmas Day. After a lovely gathering, we had our hearth to ourselves. We ate nurturing food, cozied into our Hygge kind of life, and while the kids played a new game of Christmas Monopoly with my husband, I spent a fulfilling hour cleaning. The night was dark with the snow reflecting sparkles of christmas lights. The kids enjoyed playing with their new stuff, my husband loved learning all his new games and reading new books, and since I didn't actually get a book this year (!) my way of enjoying my stuff was akin to cleaning. I spent a wonderful hour putting everything in their new places including my children's beautiful new magic. My husband joked that it was OCD but I retorted that it's my way of playing. I thoroughly enjoyed it. When I extrovert I need my outer world pristine in order to reconcile the chaotic inner world which stems from dealing with so many minds, hearts and voices. As an INFJ, the less input in my life, the healthier I am. Minus a few key voices of course.

The Christmas season tends to be a time when lots of people wish to come together. While I enjoy small tidbits of this, in general, it actually becomes simultaneously one of my most stressed out yet magical times of the year. My therapist always schedules a meeting two days before christmas, and then two weeks later, for me to prepare and then decompress. He knows I love Christmas, but yet can't handle a lot of the drama, family expectations and weird mentalities that come with it.

I am glad we celebrated in November actually (CLICK HERE.) It WAS magical and perfect. The "real" christmas also had a few moments of it's own. The day after Boxing Day something odd happened. I woke up hopeful. I realized I made it through! I LIVED till after Christmas. Which to be perfectly honest I wasn't expecting. It was such a relief. My symptoms were less too and have been for awhile. What also helped with this new, fresh, breeze of hopeful awakening was that I ended up stepping back from people, commitments and personal mentalities that I realized were not serving the love flow in my life. None of the people I stepped back from were awful people. But I knew to be optimal, I needed to let them live their own lives whilst I lived mine. I knew I have limited energy. We all do, but with chronic illness my energy stores are heavier. People are beautiful but the ebb and flow of their energy is a swirl that I allow to swish around for a season, but I listen to my gut when it says it's time to for them to float away. Unfortunately, kindly stepping out, is almost always seen as a rejection, thus I try to do it with a lot of validation. Usually there have been a few moments leading up to the key second when I know it is time. I leave in either spirit or body, wishing hopeful things for both them and I. Some I step back from mentally and they won't ever really know that door is half closed (but to me it makes all the difference) while other cases it may be more obvious or intentional.

Because I often think of death daily, I live most of my life in such a way that if I died today I would have zero regrets. I try to listen to my gut and I like my life because of this. There is nothing I wish for....outside of more energy, and less lethargy...I suppose I wish for health, however, I also try to make the best of what I have. Gratitude is an attribute I am consistently needing to hone in on. Thus, boundaries for me are tough but necessary to live my best life. I harp on boundaries because I lived a life without them for almost thirty years. And it was stressful.

I find boundaries tough because of my high levels of empathy and perspective taking. It's like that quote that says, "You know too much psychology when you can't stay mad because you understand everyone's reasons for doing everything." It's both awesome and depressing to have that level of understanding. It tears me apart regularly but eventually I still have to make a choice despite that understanding. For years I allowed that knowledge to control me and open doors to every suffering, hurting, or random person into my inner life. I felt obligated to ease their struggles or at least make them feel important or validated. Then I was given a boundary book by my counsellor and everything changed for good.

Maybe a metaphor would work better? I am the rose bush. Writing that sentence makes me laugh as I am not naturally inclined to flowery speech. I can admire it generally but it is not my natural wording choice. Anyway, stay with me... I am a rosebush because I bloom after the thorns are in place. The thorns are an essential part of my being along with the soft, fragile petals.

My healthy growth is promoted by the previous months pruning. It is not enough to trim a branch or two. In my normal Autumnal seasons, it is time to cut my branches down to the barest they can be.  Even in my blooming season, a light trim is required for more abundance. Blooms that were beautiful for their season are thanked but then they are chopped and discarded for future beauty. Piles of dead weight sticks are taken to the burning pile to transform into warm energy before being released into the air. Suddenly their dead, life sapping energy becomes something beautiful away from my host. They transform. I become renewed and they become reborn. But for awhile we were both an essential part of each other.

My thorns protect the soft layers of sensitive beauty. If I didn't have the thorns, I would no longer be the rose. I wither eventually and have my season of laying dormant in the dark, but when I bloom, the enhanced joy of being, is packed into every moment. I would not want it any other way.

I require sun to thrive. Protected spaces with optimal light. I may be sensitive, picky, finicky, prickly but I also hold secrets, fragrances, beauty and essence. I feel the most hopeful when I honour both.

Every flower, bush or tree has versions of this. Some need to have virtually no trimming to thrive while others will quickly spread like weeds if someone does not take care of their growth for them. Other trees know the direct route to take both in rooted being and free breathing stretches into the sun. I may be the rose but my husband is another plant entirely. I would say that my hubby is like Wisteria.

My husband is at his best when he has a supporting structure but he's far prettier. He blooms and creates stunning, friendly beauty in his season. Once supported his trunk becomes strong. But he requires that support in the first place to be optimal. Wisteria is also poisonous to small plants and animals once ingested. A warning that beauty misused or taken advantage of will have it's own methods of pushing back.

Thus, in his own way my husband implements boundaries but his require more time, and though serious when implemented, he does not require consistent trimming and pruning back. Each time he is tempted to be like the Rose, I remind him that he would not thrive that way. Perhaps he needs to give time? He may be served better by patiently waiting. Yes, he is also allowed to prune out the dead weight but his will have different definitions. His thriving conditions are different and thus need to be respected as so. He should set his own guidelines. We all need to understand the individual complexities that make up our health. Like each species of flower, tree or bush, we each need to grow from our own specifications.

Both my husband and I made some alterations to the "care and feeding" of our souls this season. There is pain when the Rose is trimmed. Initially I feel the other's stance deeply and I have to consciously shut off this part of me a few days later for my own health. But then, when the new growth starts, immense hope is found. With my husband, it takes longer. Which is why he needs to be a tad more careful about making any trims to his life. He needs to have boundaries but because of his extroversion and sensitive, sweet, chatty soul he also needs to be aware of the future consequences of those boundaries. I am introverted and thrive off of a hermit life. I NEED this to be free and kind and the best version of me. He needs people in a certain supply to get the same joy. The consequences of setting boundaries may mean that the person never flows back into his life. They may not recycle into the air again. They may just float away permanently. I am generally ok with this if our time was left somewhat in peace. My husband needs to be sure.

Thus, after much deliberation, we are both making some necessary changes in our own unique ways. Usually, I am not a New Years person (see THIS post) and I still hold to this stance, but this year, I do feel the need to reassess and tweak my branches. There is not much I need to do differently but there is some growth that is always required. I wish to remember gratitude daily. I wish to remember that it's ok to be the rose and not the sunflower. That it is ok to step back to thrive. I feel the most free with the least amount of people possible in my life. Yet, with those few I am loyally theirs in the ways I can be. If given space I bring beauty to the table. Constricted I begin to lose life. I was allowing too many voices. All of which were beautiful, but not all were conducive to positive communication. I was becoming a people pleaser again and it was bogging me down. A struggle I may always have to balance.

I taste spring. I can feel in in the air. Which is odd because in our area it will be months away. January is supposed to have averages of minus 20 and 30 degrees celsius. Yet, I can feel that hopeful zest of new beginnings and of tantalizing fresh starts. But those fresh beginnings come from dead earth renewed. The tiny buds of beauty begin from a season of hibernation. The warm sun is around the corner. It may be months away but it is ever glowing in my soul. If I died tomorrow I would be happy I felt it. I would be thankful that THIS is my life. It may be complex, short, and riddled with moments of painful pruning but it also has given great beauty, fragrant calm, and budding LIFE.

I am forever thankful for this understanding of myself and my needs. While also holding on to the knowledge of others in their own context. As I step into the light and dark of 2017, I DO hope for the world globally and individually to be less chaotic year than 2016. But that is what we all wished for 2016 when it started. To me, that sentimental wish is nice but not realistic.

Instead, I hope to focus on the daily. The wisdom that is from each person working in their small area, within their gifts, understanding and scope, to do what they can do best and love what is in their path to love. It's the baby giggles in the midst of feeding and gross diapers. It's the way the dust looks like sparkles instead of decay when the sun hits a puff in the air. In that I find the greatest amount of hope.

How do you latch on to hope within your own context, persona and individuality? Happy Hope Hunting...

Song Choice: There are a lot of Rose songs you can look up but I actually wanted to leave the song, "Won't let you Down" by Meagan Trainor because it's first and foremost a song to self and then to those we avidly make the choice to love with commitment:


Anonymous said...

Your rose bush analogy was beautiful. Thank you for this. I always enjoy receiving your post emails. Your perspectives are always enjoyable and meaningful to me. I feel as though I have positive changes ahead in a natural evolution of what I put my focus into. Being more guarded where I place my emotional energy. -R

S said...

First of all, Wishing you and your family A Happy New Year !
I have read your post thoroughly. I share almost all of the issues that you have written here. What you have wrote about boundaries is also true in my life. I think there are two kinds of people -one who creates boundaries (to protect oneself or to have peace of mind ) and another who breaches boundaries ( to get what one wants by force or to dominate others ). The act of creating boundaries have never been easy for me. It put me into more trouble and chaos. But it also gave me an understanding that if by creating boundaries, my troubles are increasing, then it is also true that all these years I have put myself in a very vulnerable spot where people could get away with anything ! Since now they cannot get away with anything, they are increasing troubles for me ! I had to "tell" people by my actions/words about what I like or don't like otherwise, people are not that intuitive enough and sensitive enough to understand me (or let me be).

When people refuses to understand or implement/respect boundaries by showing their wrath, it shows that they love to see you in a vulnerable/dependent position. They never truly loved you anyway but wants you to accommodate their interests and agendas.
My husband ( who is an introvert ) can enforce strong boundaries and never looks back. He also does not become flexible with boundaries. For him, it is boundaries forever. For me, it is the same but just like you, because of the empathy factor, I tend to analyze and re-evaluate this concept a lot and find it difficult to enforce too ! But it is also true that since I tend to absorb the emotions of others ( as an empath and HSP), I should have stronger boundaries than my husband !!!
But it is better to show the people who you are. If you tell them or show them, gradually, they will understand your boundaries. Those who don't understand, will try to push and test your limits. You don't need them in your life anyway but they want a piece of your attention.
For us, it is the same. We both need enough alone time ( separately and together ) to live a happy ,fulfilled life. Strength of character is very important. So is Kindness and Compassion. Just because we set boundaries, it does not mean that we are not kind / compassionate. We are kind and compassionate enough to respect the boundaries set by others !! Some people mistake boundaries for rudeness and aloofness. Those people do not understand the need for a personal space . They also do not understand that others may want to live a different kind of life. They don't get it that respecting the boundaries of others also means another way of showing kindness and compassion !!! Even a little child has a boundary of its own. A child doesn't always like to be dictated upon.
We also have to put up boundaries to teach the world more compassion and understanding. Without this concept of boundaries, people will try to always dominate/bully and suffocate others with or without their knowledge.
The best version of ourselves can be attainted only when we are relaxed, free from fear and live a life just as we dream about and visualize daily. It may be an idealist version, but that's all we want, isn't it ? To get to that idealist state of being which currently seems too difficult to attain in this realist world? But slowly we are getting there by living our lives in our own way each day. Maybe by sipping that cup of coffee, all alone and enjoying the sun ( without the need to do small talk ) is a sign that we are there:))

Kmarie A. said...

Annon: thanks:) That is a beautiful tribute to the posts. Thanks for discovering the heart. I feel you will have positive changes too! Being guarded for where one puts energy is important. xo

Happy New Year to you too!!! Yes there are two sets isn't there? I agree with your assessment of vulnerable family positions or friendships. I think what happens is one set takes the position of "be there or else!" While the other's position is "relationship over issues or nothing." thus nothing gets met in the middle when instead the focus should be individual complexities. Why be there or else? Because you supposedly love someone? Do they feel that love? If it is love how could you express it differently? ect.
Your points on highly sensitive people are very important.
Kindness and compassion are very important.. I also liked you points about children and their response...Idealism is a beautiful component of living too...we need realism and idealism both. I love to sip a cup of hot tea in the sun. Sounds like heaven:)

Ashe said...

Happy New Year! :D

I like your flower analogy. I liked the pun even better ("flowery speech"), but I'm in a particularly chipper mood and not in the proper mindset to appropriately appreciate it.

Hrm, hope... I reckon how I latch on to hope is with my typical aggressive stubbornness. If I wants it, I goes gets it, I don't lets it go, and if somebody tries to take it from me, I bites.

On one serious note, I am glad you made it through the end year holiday season. I was a bit worried about you and kept you in my prayers. To be goofy again, I dub thee a Christmas miracle!