Social-Eyes

Health and healing

Nick and I take a deeper look at how Covid-19 has changed our world and what it has given to us all.

Nick

One thing the Covid19 pandemic has taught or reminded us is the profound relationship between physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual and relational wellbeing. People across the world have barricaded themselves in (or, at times, been instructed to self-isolate – or else) to avoid the physical threat of a potentially deadly virus. The media hype that has accompanied the crisis has created an ever-more terrifying drama in which existential anxiety has turned to outright panic. ‘How can we find God in this?’, ‘Will our economies collapse?’, ‘What about my job?’, ‘Are we all going to die?’

The effects have been worst for the poorest people and communities in the world. The lockdown may have created a risk of real starvation that outweighs the risk of infection. For such people, life means hanging on by a thread. Reaching out to God is a daily, essential, way of solace, sense-making and survival. It puts our worries about empty supermarket shelves into humbling and challenging perspective. The recovery post-virus will take time, care and support. Many have faced their darkest fears and find themselves weakened, damaged and hurting. Healing at all levels will be needed soon.

Tara

Sadly, for some, the isolation posed by Covid-19 has further-darkened domestic prisons. Since the order to self-isolate, we hear of an increased number of cases of suicides, domestic violence and child abuse. Experts say the cause is a lack of access to social provision and support systems. Even access to the help of loved ones was reduced by efforts to ‘flatten the curve’. Others experienced little change to their daily activities, other than rolling out-of-bed to walk a few feet to their home office. Some didn’t have to roll out of bed at all, if they were on furlough. Amazing how an event can impact on billions in such a way that its identity can be recognized everywhere by a single name.

As the push to re-open the global economy begins, we must know that our personal experience with this pandemic is distinctive in its physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, and relational impacts – yet it’s collective ashes we all must rise from. How we heal from the viral setback will depend on our own identity and locus of power. For some, healing cannot be done alone. We must be willing to help each other heal by extending a hand to those in need.  We must continue to connect in ways that may feel far-fetched, or old-fashioned.  If Covid-19 has given anything positive, it is a new appreciation of how we need one-another to withstand such forces and thrive, despite the pain.

Nick Wright is a psychological coach, trainer and organisation development (OD) consultant, based in the UK (www.nick-wright.com). Tara Parker is a change agent, organization development (OD) consultant and soft skills coach, based in the USA (www.elegantdiscourse.net).

Love - We're All Doing It Wrong

Healing: The Overlooked Process

As I sit here, a recently experiencing major surgery, I realize how interesting the healing the process is and how it is overlooked.  The process I am going through reminds me how much we underestimate the time needed to completely heal before moving on to a new normal.  Think of the last time you skinned your knee and the event that caused it.  Did you pay mind to the amount of time it would take for the wound to heal?  Or did a simple bandage make everything better allowing you to continue along your merry way?  Surely the trauma from falling was minute posing no mental concern resulting in a minor injury that would heal quickly, quietly, and on its own.

That is the best experience when it comes to healing: “quickly, quietly, and on its own.” Turns out that may not be the best thing for all injuries.  Not all wounds are the result of child’s play. As emotional humans we take on different levels of injury. Some of these injuries we seek out such as a scheduled major surgery.  Some injuries are out of our control but pose no less danger to our health or life.  Other injuries we just don’t seem to know how to avoid because mentally, we’re not healthy enough to know what to look out for.  What’s worse?  We don’t know our mental health is slightly compromised because we generally look “okay” – though, deep down, we may suspect otherwise.

As I sit here at my desk, you would not know that I am injured. You would not know the injuries I have are from a scheduled surgery.  You would not know I am healing and working rather hard to do so (ouch, by the way!).  I am presenting myself as I do any other day.  One could say I have applied the bandage that makes everything “better”.  However, inside, I am sore.  I am incredibly tired.  I am incapacitated to a degree that prevents me from household chores due to my medical restrictions.  To look at me though, I look as healthy as a horse until you see my eyes.  To look at my eyes it would be easy to see something is not right.  I need help.

Upon this observation one might be tempted to ask if I am okay.  This is where I would tell you that despite the level of the procedure I had, “I am fine.”

You should take that statement with a grain of salt no matter who says it.

Some injuries are not visible to the naked eye.  Some are not visible on the body, at all.  Some traumas are such that they cause injury to the mind where healing can be the most difficult. The issue is that mental sores are not the easiest to talk about much less ask details for.  Which is why sometimes when we are uncomfortable with the trauma others have experienced, we avert our eyes to “not get involved”.   I find this interesting as most would rather look on or get involved with a physical trauma than a mental one.  I suppose it is difficult to receive the designation of “hero” if others cannot see you assess the trauma.

This is why it is important to realize the healing process, at the mental level, takes no less time than a physical one.  While the injury cannot be immediately seen nor is there obvious signs of trauma such as bandages, the injury is there all the same.  It should receive the same level of care and time as any other injury. This is not to say mental injuries, such as divorces, abuse, or failures should be milked until all parties are exhausted but there could be a level of exhaustion experienced from maneuvering yourself through the emotions you feel even if you have a guide, like a counselor, to help you.  This is what makes the healing process a learning process, as well.

Give yourself time to heal no matter the trauma or the injury.   The healing process is designed to allow yourself the space to explore the feelings (mental or physical) associated with the stress so that you can get past them.  If not, expect them to rear their ugly head repeatedly until you do.  If you don’t allow yourself to heal completely you hold yourself back postponing any opportunity to get better and be better.

What injuries were the hardest to heal from?  Are you completely healed?

Uncategorized

Get Out and Stay Out

It is already a tough decision to think about, let alone execute.  Some respect the decision though they may not understand it while others can’t for the life of them “get it”.  These people, no matter their intent, don’t really make things any easier.  In fact, it is not really a particular person that give you the strength to follow through such a big decision.  It’s that “it” factor that you can feel but don’t really know what it is.  All you do know is that you have had enough and come hell or high water you are done – and this time done for good.

You are FINALLY leaving that unhealthy relationship!!!

For starters, when I use the word “unhealthy” I am talking about the kind of relationship where there is abuse.  This is the kind of abuse that is designed to control the actions of another.  The abuse could be physical, mental, emotional, verbal, sexual, or spiritual.  Abuse is a pattern of negative behavior from your partner that results in a pattern of submissive behavior from you.  This is not a clinical explanation but a quick and dirty definition that will make sense to those who have been in an unhealthy relationship. Additionally, abuse can happen in any relationship, but the intimate ones tend to be the longer lasting ones due to the intimacy factor.  (We can dive deeper into this in a later conversation.)

Leaving is the first tough step but the real challenge is how you stay out.  One of the toughest things to deal with after leaving an unhealthy relationship is re-igniting an old friendship, or in some cases a new one, with yourself.  Being out on your own is not like moving out of mom and dad’s, which had a sense of excitement and liberation.  Leaving an unhealthy relationship does come with a similar sense of freedom along with a sense of fear, anxiety, and “what the hell do I do now?”

Don’t worry; those are all normal feelings and questions.  What’s more? You should be feeling those things!  Those are great signs that you are on a path towards healing and getting you back.  What sucks about these feelings? They don’t feel good.  They can easily position you for another unhealthy relationship.

I know what you are thinking…”WTF? Why? Why do we have to go through these crummy feelings to move on?”

Well, my dear, because what you were involved in didn’t happen or evolve overnight. It took a lot of time, for some of you years, to get to where you were.  So, it is pretty unreasonable to think that a new normal occurs by simply moving out.  Moving out and spending some time alone is just the first few steps down the road of healing.  The real work starts at this point despite how tough all decisions were to get here. 

So, a few things to keep in mind as you venture down this new road:

  1. Do recognize you will question what you have done! This is normal and to expect it is what makes it easier.  It is totally fine to wonder if you are doing the right thing or if you made a mistake.  You literally took the puzzle of your life and removed some pieces of it giving you the space to feel as though you are not whole.  To counter this remember, you were whole and always will be.  (Let’s visit this idea later, too, it can get pretty deep.) J
  2. Expect to have free time on your hands and no idea how to spend it.  When living in an unhealthy relationship you were likely always worried about what things would be like if the abuser was gone or worrying about how to walk on egg shells for the day.  Maybe you spent your time presenting yourself, your home, your children, or anything in just the most perfect manner to avoid triggering your abuser.  Now that the abuser you don’t have all those expectations to live up to. This is time to learn about you and what you like…time to date you for a while! J
  3. Realize that you are not a bad person for leaving.  This is such a tough feeling to deal with particularly if there are children that miss the abuser or others who don’t understand.  First, it’s hard to remember your abuser doesn’t abuse everyone or doesn’t abuse them in the same way. This puts you is such a crazy position when others feel they should have justification for your decision.  This leaves you with opportunity to take blame based on reactions of others.  DON’T! Just as you need to feel through your emotions others need to do the same and all at your own pace!
  4. Realize you are easy to deceive in your own home!!!  Your abuser is no fool.  They know how to work you over and spent a good amount of time doing so in the home you two shared.  Being in the space that you now solely manage doesn’t make you the power in the home; just makes you the only provider.  You can expect your abuser to try to weasel their way in your territory using all their best tricks – some tricks you will recognize and some you won’t. The abuser doesn’t want to be alone any more than you do.  They don’t know what to do with themselves, either. Their object of control left and therefore will play that “vulnerable” card better than Luke Skywalker begging his father for help against Darth Sidious.  Know it could take a few times of falling for those tricks (old and new) to realize the abuser is working towards an Oscar nomination.  Don’t get down on yourself when it happens. Forgive yourself and try a new strategy.  Easier said than done but you will do it though it does take time and a lot of: “Oh shit, not again.”

These are just a few of the things you should expect.  Avoiding them only makes things harder on you.  If you learn to expect them or continue to expect them, they will be easier to work through when they happen. Half the battle of leaving the abuser is knowing that there is a rough road ahead and a lot of uncomfortable feelings that you are unfamiliar with. These are all good things that are indicative of better choices.  They don’t feel like it at the time but if you review on some of your others “firsts” you may find there are several of them that didn’t feel that great at first but wound up to be not that bad.  😉

You can do it.

Pro Tip: Go back through the list and when you see the word “abuser” or specific pronouns use the name of the person and their pronoun. Make this about you and hear what you are going through 

Love - We're All Doing It Wrong

She’s In An(other) Unhealthy Relationship: Here’s How You Can Help

She’s attractive. She carries herself well. She knows how to dress. She is funny, smart, and witty. She has a good attitude and she handles life pretty damned well. Anyone who knows her enjoys her. She seems to have her act together. So, why does she waste her time with a guy that you think is a d-bag?

It just doesn’t make sense, right? Her guy is basically a lousy human being. Oh sure, he has talents and skills and may even be successful in his work but when it comes to treating her wll or just respecting her he more than falls short.  And, for the life of you, it is hard to imagine why she stays with him! 

Maybe the information here will help you understand what she is doing or what she is going through. You can’t save her, as much as you would like, but you can learn to understand and help her along her way. In the end, it has to be her decision to separate from Mr. Not Right – and that is a very tough decision for her no matter how simple of a solution it is to you!

First of all, and this is the pink elephant in the room, the girl has self-esteem that works like a roller coaster. Some days she seems full of confidence and ready to conquer anything and other days she wants to crawl under the bed and hide from the world.

WHY?

Because she wants to feel loved. She wants to feel she is special to someone. She wants to know that she is important. She wears this incredible curtain that is super impressive upon first meeting her but as you get to know her you see what’s behind the curtain and she is not as strong as she looks.  It is like the Wizard from the Wizard of Oz where there is a great big presentation at first only to be met with a meek person behind a curtain.  Take her curtain away and you will find a similar meek person who is terrified of what’s behind curtain.

The flying saucer in the room is another serious challenge for the girl. What do I mean about “flyer saucer”? Well, it is a factor you can see and recognize but she denies it.  For the girls who go after the really “bad” guys (aka d-bags) that flyer saucer is attention, which is being mistaken for interest.

What the hell does that mean?

ask blackboard chalk board chalkboard

The “good” guys will show their interest in a girl and turn that into positive attention, which gains the girl’s interest and then attention is reciprocated. This is the potentially healthy making of a balanced relationship.

The “bad” guys will give attention as the girl works her tail off for it in order to get what he wants out of her. This is an unbalanced relationship and you don’t undertand why she sticks it out.

As her friend, you will hear about all the bad attention consistently but very little about the good. When you inquire about anything good in the relationship she will defensively shrug it off as, “Oh, we have good times, too.” You probably wonder if she can hear herself over and over again? Frankly, she can – which is why she eventually stops talking about him prompting you to ask her about him.

Why does a girl put up with a guy she has to work so hard to receive so little from?  

Because it is what she is most comfortable with and is all she knows. She is conditioned for it.  It is a sad and very real statement for the women out there struggling with unhealthy relationships.

Your gal pal holds on to those the chump that disrespecst her will do so because she doesn’t recognize it as an unhealthy relationship. What many of us women don’t understand is that all abusive relationships are unhealthy but not all unhealthy relationships are abusive. There is a fine line that tends to become blurred as the “relationship” develops. This is the territory where one-sided compromising comes into play.  Where rationalizations and explanations start showing up. This is where she makes excuses for him. Once she crosses that line she is hooked and there is little you can do to bring her out of it. Meaning you can’t “save” her and it is important you accept that.

So, what can you do as the loving friend or family member?

1. Be patient. She is smart. When ready she will put two and two together  and realize she is not enjoying a good thing but it is on her timing, not yours.  It will be difficult and frustrating but it is her experience to grow from.

2. Be supportive. You don’t have to like what she does to support her and you don’t have to enable it either. When she wants to talk listen to her. When she isn’t talking ask her. Yes, you are tired of hearing about the D-bag but you need to give her the outlet because she will get tired of sounding like a broken record player.

3. Be respectful. Maybe she is not showing herself respect with her messed up ideas of relationships but that is where you showing her respect is important and most vital. And don’t insult her by putting him down – she only feels the need to defend him unnecessarily prolonging the relationship. Be respectful of her…and (ugh) him. *eyeroll*  Just don’t over do it, okay?

4. Be loving. Remember, her idea of relationships is a bit twisted. She needs examples of what being loved means and you might be one of the few who can help her re-condition herself. This means being a good example to her as a friend AND encouraging your man or mutual male friends to be good examples.  

It is heartbreaking and frustrating to watch as a friend puts herself through such unnecessary heartache while wasting her valuable relationship resources. You could tell her until you are blue in the face that she needs to drop him and she will still turn to him for the attention she craves. Sometimes it is sexual attention that has been falsely translated into a relationship. Sometimes it is constant quarreling twisted into quality time. Whatever it is, it is up to her to wake up and see what is really going on. Until then, be there for her and forgive her as she will have a hard time forgiving herself once is it all said and done.

Love - We're All Doing It Wrong

How I Let Him Go Even Though I Still Loved Him

How did I do it? How was I able to walk away from the man I loved so deeply and profoundly? How was I able to move on from a love I felt and embraced so much?

woman sitting in front of tree

And there is it was – staring me right in the face. I knew it immediately but despite my knowing I still questioned it. My gut was on red alert and my heart was on the verge of sobbing. My ears were ringing. My eyes felt frozen. It was the red flag that couldn’t be denied and I denied it anyway – at least for a few more years. Ugh. (facepalm)

We seemed to have so much in common. We could talk for hours. Our pasts seemed parallel giving us an exclusive understanding of one another. We had genuine interests in each other’s hobbies. We could see through to one another. Being together we both emerged with a side from within that was buried so deep. The connection was unique. It felt rare. It redefined passion.

So, why is it I am not with him today? How could I not eternally embrace something that sounds as though it was delivered from “a land far far away”?

Well, I finally saw what everyone had been telling me – that he was not right for me.

What we had was a very passionate relationship in every romantic sense of the word that you can imagine. And yet with the positive passion came the negative passion. Both were intense at their own distinctive level. Both were scary. Both were invigorating. But also dangerous to my mental health.

I won’t go into the details of the relationship but what I will tell you is that we had little to no support from our friends and family. This is a definite sign that the relationship is not what you think it is. Sometimes, the best measurement of the health of a relationship is the level of support from those around you.

I refused to listen to those people because there was always that one person who stood out and said, “Yes! Yes, you are the one for him!” My desire to hold on to that positive passion was fed by the repetition of that one statement for two years – in my head.

woman in black full zip jacket

So, how did I do it? How was I able to walk away from the man I loved so deeply and profoundly? How was I able to move on from a love I felt and embraced so much?

I had to recognize that what I felt was not equal to what he felt or the negative passion would not have been as strong.

Don’t be mistaken. He liked to keep me around for his pleasure and fun or his needs but when it came to what I needed? Ha. It was not only my fault he was unhappy with our situation but it was my fault if I was experiencing turmoil or trials. It was my stupidity or my bitchiness that created my situation and that wasn’t his problem.

But, he loved me. Yeah, I didn’t get it either. But, wildly enough, I believed that he loved me and I needed to stay. It took me about 25 months to finally pull the trigger and walk out of his life and back into my own.

I don’t know if was time wasted or the most influential learning experience I have ever been through. What I do know is that the experience is mine to share with you.

So, back to how to let go if you still love him. How did I put my love aside to escape my prison?

1. I kept all the text messages for reference. He used to get mad that I would retain our text conversations and refer back to them. He rarely came off looking like a nice guy (and my responses weren’t always pretty, either) and therefore he would demand I delete them or sweet-talk me into deleting them.

Once they were gone I had nothing visual to remind me who he really was. Once those texts were gone he would turn on the loving charm and then cycle back into the emotional deviant I was hooked to. I do have some of the texts to remind me of why I left when I start to miss the good times.

2. I had to push my emotional brain aside for my logical. I had to really think about his actions and how they aligned, or misaligned, with his words. I had to look at his expectations and my expectations and determine how they balanced. I had to stop deceiving me and come to terms with the reality that I was not getting anywhere with him and my life was depleting the more time I devoted to him. Once I realized that it was easier to not respond his last text message.

photography of woman using laptop

3. I needed something to maintain my focus. My attention had to be placed somewhere else so I could go through the process of grieving a relationship I had with a man who was mentally dangerous. I found that focus and protected it with every fiber of my being. That focus remains today as a reminder that being me is a great thing and not a result of someone else’s demands.

4. I prepared myself emotionally for the final walk. I literally stood in front of a mirror and told myself, “You will want to text him so the crying will stop. You will want to run back to him to feel normal again.” I knew the real problem for me was fighting the addiction created throughout the relationship. Maybe the uncomfortable tears of grief would stop by contacting him but they would be replaced with the comfortable tears of name-calling and emotional abuse I had been so accustomed to.

Maybe I would feel normal again by running to him but would hurt myself more by embracing that sense of “normal” versus developing myself by venturing out of my comfort zone. The funny thing about a comfort zone is that it might be comfortable but it doesn’t necessarily feel good nor is it healthy. It is just comfortable.

5. I had to be fair to myself and allow myself the time to heal and try life without him. I had to be permitted to be me again without his permission or approval. I had to give myself enough time to feel the emotions I prepped myself for. I had to give me a chance to heal even if it hurt like hell. Even if I cried myself to sleep. Even if it meant I would never be loved again. In the end, it meant I would love me and not have someone attempt to make me feel guilty for it. There is no guilt in loving me but there is guilt in knowingly hurting me via an unhealthy relationship.

woman holding a smiley balloon

So, the time has passed and here I am. I didn’t die without him like I thought I would. I didn’t spiral down into depression like he had predicted. I continued to breathe and live my life. I am free to be me and am happy being me. I have grown and continue to do so every day. Why? Because I didn’t give up on me.