Suicide Aftershocks: VOl IV Positivity as Self-hatred –Socially acceptable grief and Apparently I’m either not sad enough or too happy –Who Knew?

Time continues to pass for us all and as I approach the 15 month “post suicide” marker, I’m amazed by the expectations people have about how they think I should behave.

Situationally, if I’m not sad enough I’ve gotten called out in some shaming way for being too happy, and then reminded—like I might forget—that my husband did kill himself.  Or, I’m sad for a moment in time and am quickly reminded that it’s been long enough—buck up and think positively.  As though thinking positively when I feel lost or alone or afraid is a panacea for all that ails me.

Initially when this began happening, I thought, “Well, I can’t please everyone so screw it!”  (or something a bit less kind!)  The first few happenings did throw me.  I second guessed myself, briefly thinking maybe they’re right.   It was easy to do because I’m still juggling the “why” question about my husband’s choice and what part I played, if any, in how the situation unfolded.  Guilt and shame can be an easy go-to when things are FUBAR.

A few weeks ago I asked my friend T—she and her husband showed up immediately the morning of the suicide-“how did I present—how did I act that day”?  So much of those first 24 hours felt like I was a watcher and removed one

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degree from the reality occurring around me.

 

She said that I had a weird smile on all day and that I was trying to take care of everyone else.  The policeman assigned to babysit me, her, the 5 dogs and the other 2 people who came to support me.

That was me trying to hold the state of positivity.  Keep the mask on.  Hold the illusion that all is well or will be.  You’re not good enough to expect support unless you’re bright and shiny, so stay shiny.

Of course, I wasn’t holding that as a conscious thought at the time.  Hindsight and deep exploration in the breakdown of the world I’ve known allows me to see that illusion clearly now!

When “positive thinking” is used in this manner—shaming self and hiding, ignoring, suppressing, distancing or judging our thoughts and emotions, we are making orphans of various aspects of ourselves.  Abandoning any part of self is an act of self-hatred.  Ugly or mean thoughts are nothing to be ashamed of, and when not acted upon are generally benign.  We are human.   We bring our past to the table until we learn to bear witness to and include all of our experiences and thoughts with curiosity rather than judgment.

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Abstract business background.

These last 6 years I’ve been primarily a caretaker for others in various situations and varying degrees of F-ed up! My world went quiet after my husband’s suicide which left a lot of time for me to consider my patterns of behavior and ways of being.  I was faced with many opportunities to be “positive”.

The whole construct of positive thinking is exclusive and perpetuates the unhealthy dichotomy of ; good/bad; right/wrong; now/then, while at the same time creating the expectation of an unobtainable state.  The state of ALWAYS being positive!  No matter what we do, we will still be human with a wide range of emotions and a society that thrives on labeling and judgment.

Love of self would allow all thoughts and aspects of self to well-up, including them and witnessing them as part of the whole that we are.  After all—it’s just a thought.  I don’t take action on all my thoughts and none of them should be judged as unworthy.  Some thoughts are simply no longer useful.  What if thoughts are simply surfacing in our awareness to be healed or learned from—transformed and/or released?   What if some thoughts are the fast-track to self healing is inclusion?

What if we simply allowed all of our experiences to be just experiences—Zen like, neither good nor bad—neither positive or negative?  Simply markers in time that we can either learn from and transform, or repeat and judge.  Inclusion is always an option.  And as thought precedes action—awareness of our thoughts creates dynamic changes in our actions which changes our experiences.Mayan Mystery Pyramid

As for me—I’m happy to be happy and I’m happy for the moments when I’m not. The sad/hard moments are opportunities to make distinctions and to clarify and heal aspects of my life so there can be more forward movement in whatever direction I choose.

So rather than “positive thinking”, perhaps a shift to appreciation and gratitude as a choice in awareness and a way of life might be more inclusive and allowing for all aspects of self to integrate. This shift creates inclusion where all thoughts are welcome, the perceived positive and negative!

Of course, we’re always well served when in control and mindful of what comes out of our mouths!

Here’s to growing awareness and inclusion of every part of “ME” and thoughtful awareness of how we choose to express!

With warmest aloha,

 

Kim

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RISE!

 

This month’s challenge:

A practice in Positive thinking to notice what you like rather than what you don’t.  We’re not seeking to change anything about you –simply creating a new habit of looking for what’s “right” wonderful and inspiring!

3x daily stop and notice your surroundings and acknowledge what’s beautiful, appealing, abundant, joy filled or things you like.

SUICIDE AFTERSHOCKS: VOL III Southern Women’s Wisdom–Discomfort and the Power of a Pause

During the last few months I’ve found myself referencing my husband’s suicide in conversation as the B.E.  (Bill Event)

and making time distinctions based on before and after Bill did what he did.  It feels healthy for me and lighter than using the word suicide.  He simply did what he did-what he chose to do.business_110009277-012914-int

As time passes and I’m happier and more present, how he died is becoming almost irrelevant.  Interestingly when people ask, I pause to decide how direct I care to be in that given moment as my experience has been that most people can’t really handle the truth of suicide.  They seem ill-equipped to respond without judgment.  Most become highly uncomfortable or pretend they didn’t actually ask how he died, rather than pausing and considering a response.

Suicide.  Just the word causes discomfort. Suicide carries so many judgments—social, religions and familial.  When I do use that word, it’s not that I’m choosing to make others uncomfortable.  I am simply choosing to honor myself and respect the level of comfort I’ve been able to achieve in the aftermath of a horrific situation.

 

58d7e6020950c8147cc62a476d63af49The first statement one of my brothers made to me the day of the B.E. was, “I didn’t know your marriage was that bad”.  He maintained this position and even went so far as to publicly state that he and everyone else knew that Bill’s suicide was my fault.  This was my BROTHER! 

A person I considered a friend commented, “How could you not know—you’re so intuitive. This is what you do!  You must have known this was going to happen!”  This was a FRIEND!

My dad’s reaction to my first and only crying phone call to him in the days immediately following the B.E. was, “Quit living in the past.” He said this just prior to hanging up on me.  This was my FATHER.

So I did the only thing I knew how to do and called a girl friend—

a bit older than me and raised in south central Virginia.  Her wise counsel came in the form of a question.  After hearing my pain over the judgmental and insensitive comments being made, she asked,

“Kim, does your Father have a vagina?  Do any of these people you’re speaking with have vagina’s?

I responded no, that they did not, in fact, have vagina’s.  Her response, classic, quintessential southern pragmatism, “Don’t you know you can’t have a conversation when you’re upset with a person lacking a vagina?

Enough said.  I was laughing while crying and oh, so much better!

A girlfriend I grew up with reminded me gently, “Honey, if common sense was lard, your family wouldn’t be able to grease a pan—I don’t mean you of course!”

Another grand moment came while at different girlfriend’s house in central Virginia.  I walked into a group and reacted – inappropriately– to a random participants comment about the B.E.   I kind of lost it and got angry –I really wanted to kick this person till she bled!  (an inappropriate response, I know–but I did pause!)  To avoid any verbal escalation, I went to my friend and said I need help getting under control!  She responded with,

“Well honey, that’s what the back yard is for—you go on out there and stay as long as it takes and I’ll make you some tea!”

8 or 9 weeks after the B.E. I was heading into a meeting with 2 executives and 7 trainers of a global organ harvesting and transplant organization.  The meeting was taking place because—well, that’s another story!  This meeting was a big deal for me and I was still quite emotional but in the “let’s get’er done” frame of mind and knew I needed bucking up before entering the meeting.  Like every southern girl would—I phoned a friend—with a vagina!  She told me,

“Tighten up that corset, put on your lip gloss, lift up your chest and speak slow and syrupy sweet—you got this.”

Scarlett Tightening up!

Scarlett Tightening-up!

Southern comfort no –alcohol required!

Here’s to the strong, proud and direct women in my circle—southern or otherwise!  Thank you for the perfect and timely wisdom and powerful support!

With warmest aloha,

Kim

Challenge:

Pause.  Practice pausing and taking a breath while you mindfully consider an intentional response.  Perhaps nod your head while you pause so the person you’re with will know you’ve heard them—if on the phone, during your pause make a sound like, “hmmm” so the other knows they’ve been heard.!  This technique can create connection, deepen relationships and communication and allows you to learn to listen from a place of desiring to hear rather than from the place of desiring to be heard.  Pausing often times allows the other to hear themselves, as well!

 

 

The Year of the Agenda-less Voice –I just said what??? Perhaps silence is golden.

At the turn of the year a mere 6 weeks ago my husband and I were joking about resolutions. In general, it’s not a practice either of us participates in but he laughed heartily when I seriously informed him that 2014 for me was to be the year of the AGENDA-LESS voice.
Not much else has been said since then, primarily because I don’t like to arm him with my apparent failures!! While I can’t truly classify this 6 weeks as a catastrophic failure, nor can I shine it up and call it a success.

vintage-romance

vintage-romance

Agenda, as defined in Webster’s is; an underlying personal viewpoint or bias. The true spirit of my year of the Agenda-less voice was to not use my language in any way to convince, manipulate, guilt, shame, nudge, sway, influence, win over or induce others with my wording. As these weeks have passed, I’ve become uncomfortably aware of how difficult it is to be 100% transparent and direct. Not because of intent to manipulate, but because of pure un-examined habit in communication. Not to mention the addictions to particular dramas and role adaptations we’ve adopted as defense and/or coping mechanisms. Yet, these too, are still simply unexamined habitual responses.
In our relationship this more often plays out in seemingly innocent ways which sound like statements inflected as questions, half sentences, open-ended statements or questions. For example;
B: “Where would you like to go for dinner?”
K: “I really don’t have a preference—you pick!”
B: “Okay—let’s try that new Swedish place.”
K: “Do you really want Swedish?” (Note the agenda being I didn’t want Swedish)

 
Options here could include laughing and acknowledging I did, after all, have a preference, or conceding that I had given up choice for that meal. Instead, I gave the power to my husband and then just as quickly took it away in a somewhat passive aggressive fashion!

Other innocent forms come out as statements meant to evoke a response like;
My computer is broken; You know my birthday is coming up; The dogs haven’t been fed. With no agenda, theses are simply statements, but if they are agenda filled and the transmitter’s expectation doesn’t get met, the receiver better look out!  

 
Some of the most soul-crushing displays of agenda in relationship include using any current hurt as an excuse to drag up the tattered laundry list of all past hurts. Using language that shames like, disappointed, should, really?, or comparing to other people or situations. A devastating use of agenda in relationship is the withholding of our words, our good opinion, our smiles and our love, just because we might not like something or agree.
So the old adage of “Say what you mean, mean what you say” applies to this year of the agenda-less voice as I mindfully learn to communicate just that succinctly.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, I seem to be keeping my mouth shut when in doubt of my intention and clarity of response. A silence I believe my husband is grateful for.

In mindful silence for a good cause,                                                                 

Active Listening!

Active Listening!

Kim

Dancing and “Stayin’ Alive”

I just put my feet in the air and move them around.
Fred Astaire

Ya just never know what’s going to move you.  A friend sent me the link to this YouTube video and I’m enthralled!  The effortless grace and ease the dancers convey makes me smile from ear to ear and feel happy to be alive every time I watch this. 

The collaborative effect of the original choreography, the Bee Gee’s passionate expression through their music and the editor who somehow decided to combine the two is a testament to how far reaching and inspirational sharing our gifts can be. 

The impact we have on others extends well beyond your human years (whether we are aware of it or not!) and the spin someone else might put on our original sharing can elevate that offering to an even higher level.

It’s a great reminder that regardless of our awareness and/or intention, we are always impacting the world around us so we might as well make our impact a positive one—whatever our gifts may be!

Joyfully and with warmest aloha,

Kim