Tag Archives: Pain

Memorial Days and Emotional Landmarks

Dates on the calendar can be such emotional triggers, can’t they?

Now that I FEEL my feelings rather than stuffing them into a dark crevice of my soul to be more easily ignored,  I “get gotten” regularly.

Instead of skipping along in merry oblivion, life and its memories stop me dead in my tracks and instead of plowing through, I stop.  And I feel those feelings, as messy and soppy as they may be.

A “memorial day” of sorts just passed; it would have been my 15th wedding anniversary.  I know, I’ve mentioned it before, but for an entire week I felt like I was walking through emotional quicksand.

Another is right around the corner: The one year anniversary of when I left.

Every memory can be weighed on a scale, balancing all of the reasons why and, alternately, why not.

Ask ten other people to view the same set of circumstances and their judgments rendered will run the gamut.  They bring their own biases and projections as they view the evidence, which is why I am not a fan of judging.

To one observer, we are heroines of our own stories.

In other versions, we are the villains.

Some days, I see myself as both.

Why?

Because I am well aware of my imperfections.  And I refuse to try to pretend that I am without fault  (though I became QUITE adept at pretending happiness and have since given that up for good.)

Someone recently chastised me  – not intending cruelty – but these words plucked at my heart:  “You could have done it differently.” (This was in reference to how I left my marriage.)

My reply?  Yes, perhaps I could.  But at the time, I couldn’t see any other way.

And maybe it WAS the only way.

None of us will ever know because it went down as it did and it can’t be undone.

Which leads me to another “memorial day.”

September 9th marks the day I finally let go of all of the trappings of pretension; looked my soul square in my heart and said, “I love you.”

Yep, I am aware of all of my stuff – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

And I love you.

I forgive you.

Now let’s get on with this thing called life and start feeling again, start living again, and let love start winning.

Our word these past two weeks has been flexibility, and sometimes it is painful to dislodge from our fixed position of how we see things.  Or to entertain someone else’s view of the choices made.

I can see your point of view. Perhaps it could have been done differently.

These close encounters of the heart are all part of the bumps and bruises of life.  From my current vantage point, I believe a life unmarred by such wounds reflects a life not fully lived.

I could have died, long before my physical death, by not rocking the boat.  And I could have existed the rest of my days without really living, only to get to the end of it all and find I missed the point.

May I always be flexible enough to admit when I’m wrong.  To leave – anything – when it is time to move on.  To own up and apologize, but most of all and always, to forgive. Everyone.  And especially, me.

After all, I’m the ONE person I’m definitely stuck with for the rest of my life.  So I might as well make it a love affair!

And I hope you will, too.

On a lighter note, some less profound matters can easily make us anguished, irritable, emotional, and altogether flummoxed.  I talk about them in these closing thoughts on FLEXIBILITY (and ushering in a new WOW):

Ah, finding joy in the right here, right now.

Wishing you all boatloads of contentment these coming two weeks!

(And Happy Memorial Day Weekend.)

xoxoxoxo

Brenda

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Faith of Our Mothers (and the New WOW)

It’s the faith that can move mountains, because the love is so fierce.

It is faith shockingly unafraid to walk through the valley of death if the trek can make certain their son or daughter stays alive.

Mothers go without to ensure that their children never do.

And while they know better than anyone else how to go for the jugular, over their dead body will they ever let someone ELSE cut you to the quick.

No, there is NOTHING so powerful as a mother’s love.

It is Mothers Day and I think of all the moms who are both mom AND dad (like my mom had to be.)  I wonder what it must have been like for my mom to realize her daughter had a dream to go to college (no one in our family ever had) and to muster up the faith to say yes.

My heart pains for those mothers who have lost babies…or any child of any age.

And I think of those of us who never had the privilege of being a mom.

Funny, I never really gave it a thought in my twenties and thirties or even my forties. But now that that ship has TRULY sailed, I sometimes wonder how different my life would be if I had been someone’s mom.

What a privilege!

And what potential heartache.

There’s just no guarantee how it is all going to turn out, is there?  Which is yet another example of the faith involved with this most holy calling.

When I lost my Toastmaster’s speech competition a few weeks ago, I was honored to watch my friend, Bryan Courtenay, win. He delivered his personal redemption story, which began in a dirty bathroom. The main character was slumped over the toilet bowl after securing his fix.  In the next scene, he paints the picture of his mother banging on the window of a car, trying to revive that young man who had overdosed.  It ends in prison, and the photo of a dead-eyed man’s mug shot.

As he unveiled the mug shot, to the gasps of the audience (who didn’t realize he was speaking about himself the whole time), my eyes were on his mother. She wept through the entire presentation.

Even as I type this, my eyes well with tears for the pain she endured…

…but I bet she’d endure every second of that pain again for the beautiful outcome she now enjoys.

The faith of our mothers, or those who have been like mothers to us, has likely sustained each of us in ways we’d be overwhelmed to see. 

Perhaps in heaven a video reel will play showing the number of times their prayers, and tears, tipped the balances, empowered angels on our behalf, and forestalled tragedy.

Moms who taxied us to rehearsals or sporting events.  Who dug deep and shelled out for those designer jeans or sneakers we HAD to have.

They made us eat our vegetables, say our prayers, clean our rooms and write thank you notes.

They cried with us, then cried some more on their own when our hearts were breaking.

For the nurture that comforted us and for all the maddening times as teenagers when we screamed “I hate you!”  For the treasure of another Mothers Day spent in your presence…thank you for the gift of YOU.

And for the faith, which so beautifully worked by love, to bring us to this very day.

Happy Mothers Day to all!  Here are my non-Mothers Day closing thoughts on FAITH, and a wonderful new WOW:

 

Ah!  So yes, keep the faith – but don’t be stuck on HOW it is going to manifest.

Have a beautiful, flexible week –

xoxoxox

Brenda

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My Christmas Surprise (and the New WOW)

Sometimes life hits you with a surprise and it feels like a dream.

My friends, this is my story – and it is a very happy one.

As you know, my marriage ended in 2017 and my goal was simply for PEACE; to rediscover Brenda and reclaim her joy.  I wanted to become whole, authentic and to carve out a life that made space for my dreams, gave Spirit free reign and brought healing to my heart.

In none of the above-listed equations was a man-component envisioned.

The love story I was working on was the one with MYSELF.

Who knew that this very emphasis would unlock the door to meeting someone special?

It was QUITE a surprise.

But before we get to the good part, there were plenty of entertaining detours!

For months, friends encouraged me to “get back out there”…but I didn’t want to.  I just wanted to enjoy my peaceful apartment, go to Toastmasters meetings, dance at Zumba, hang at he CitySide lobby with my new friends and read good books in solitude.

I did all of that, but then I got a little bit lonely.

My friends, Larry and Brian, scolded me.  “It’s 2017, Brenda!  You need an online dating profile!”

NO WAY.

Brian gently suggested that I open my mind; that I could be selective and set my boundaries.  That I could swipe and delete and be in control of the experience…and that I should at least TRY.

After some resistance, I became WordGirl22 on Our Time, Zoosk, and Plenty of Fish.

A series of painfully wrong dates ensued – one with a man that demanded that I “twirl for him” so he could see my physique.

I did not twirl.

After a week of thinking there were actually only tin cans instead of good catches in the fishing pool, I disgustedly looked through the latest photo gallery of candidates hitting “No…no…no…no…”

…but then, out of nowhere, “Hmmmmmm…..”

He had dimples.  I’ve always been a sucker for dimples.

Boldly, I wrote, “Nice dimples.”

And the rest is history.

The dimples were attached to a lovely man named Mark who has become my best friend and has made this holiday season both merry and bright.

I felt the need to share this with you because you have been with me for the lows, and I wanted to give equal time to the highs.  Plus, some of you have seen me posing with a handsome man on Facebook and “Inquiring minds want to know!”

So now you know.  My smile is higher wattage and the exercise of building a relationship is putting into practice all the internal spiritual lessons and healing I have sought this year.

What a happy surprise!

And an encouragement to all of you that, whatever pain you may have faced this year – on the other side of it is a gift that you could never have experienced any other way.

May yours show up soon!  (And when it does, please tell me about it!)

In the meantime, I talk about my supportive friend Kevin in this week’s video, and have for us all a perfectly DELIGHTFUL new Word of the Week:

Kevin is just one of the friends that turned my year from traumatic to tremendous.  Thanks, little brother!

Sending you all huge doses of love and DELIGHT.

May all of your dreams come true –

xoxoxox

Brenda

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Clarity is Not for Sissies (and the New WOW)

This is NOT a manifesto against anti-depressants, but tells of MY journey to true clarity and the role that Zoloft (Sertraline) played in clouding matters.

You know that close to four years ago, I stopped drinking.  Haven’t had a glass of anything since November 11, 2013.  (Note:  It gives me goosebumps that I quit on 11:11, which is a power number. It seems the universe parted the waters that day, making a clear path for me to exit tipsy-land.)

Let me re-think the use of the word “tipsy.”  It is a euphemism, as is buzzed, to describe an altered state that numbs you from the pain of life.  

Such words make you feel better about being a drunk.

I quit alcohol because every bad decision or regretted remark or action in my life emanated from a booze-fueled state. Tired of being embarrassed, I no longer wanted to be voted “Most likely to break something” at every party. Some major falls led to a serious reckoning with how simply dangerous it was to navigate steps and life with a high blood alcohol content.

For me, clarity came when I heard in my spirit “If you keep this up, this is how you will die.”

Gulp.

So 2013 marked a new phase of clarity in my life.

Clarity is not for sissies.  You begin to observe things that didn’t bother you before; overlooked slights now hurt.  Suddenly, there’s fight in you, because you start to believe that you are worth better.

Sobriety and self-respect go hand in hand. As my self-worth grows, my capacity to tolerate disrespect shrinks.

Wait, Brenda – I thought you were going to talk about anti-depressants?

I am.

Sobriety fueled my recent life decisions.  What may have seemed to outsiders as a crazy, “Where did THAT come from?” action when I left my marriage, those who know me know I’ve never been more in my right mind.

But that action was just a beginning.

I’ve been on a quest for HONESTY.

As I continued to ask myself the questions necessary to peel away layers of dishonesty, I kept returning to a nagging question mark: My 10-year affair with Zoloft.

In the beginning years of my marriage, we went to Christian counseling.  The only thing I got out of it was a prescription.

Truly, that first 50 mg pill seemed like a magic bullet.  Perhaps psychosomatic, nevertheless, I felt instantly happier, more able to cope, less irritable and more tolerant.

When entering menopause, the script increased to 75 mg. When we moved to Florida, my new doctor upped it to 100 mg.

Patients should obey their doctors, right?

I visited my sister last year and one of my little blue pills fell on the bathroom floor.  She found it and, with trepidation, asked me what I was on.

I thought nothing of telling her – after all, my healthcare provider prescribed the drug!

The counselor had drawn a little cartoon that showed how serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) would build a little bridge to my brain, helping the happy feelings get back where they belonged.

Shirlee, unimpressed by the analogy but without judgment, encouraged me to read about the impacts of these drugs and to consider weaning off of Zoloft.  It took many months, but for me, the evidence was clear.  If I didn’t get off, I’d be on this drug for the rest of my life.

Thus began Brenda Clear Phase 2.0.

My doctor, knowing of my pending divorce said, “Do you really think this is the best time to detox?”

Taking control of my own body and decisions that affect it, I said, “Yes. This is the very best time.”

Since early June I have been on a steadily-decreasing prescription of Zoloft and last week, went to zero.

Clarity is not for sissies.

My body revolted angrily against the disappearing drug. Irritation has returned, flu-like symptoms, aches and pains, sleeplessness, headaches, cramping – yep, it’s been a real joy ride. But here’s the flipside: I FEEL again.

Yes, the difficult feelings were numbed, but so were the GOOD ones.  I now laugh more, cry more, and am more deeply touched by music and words and people.

I am alive.

Eventually, the physical symptoms will disappear.  It’s worth it to plow through them to get to the REAL ME.

I’ve missed Brenda.  It’s wonderful to get to know her again.

Here are my parting thoughts on CLARITY and the new WOW:

Hot diggity! (Wow, there’s a first-time use of THAT phrase.)

Let’s be INSPIRED this week.

Oh, and if my anti-depressant story has tugged at your heart, let me add that you should never cold turkey SSRIs.  There’s a careful way of weaning that your doctor can guide you through.  If INSPIRED to make a similar decision, I’m rooting for you.

And if you are not, please do not feel judged.  Everyone is on a different journey.  Some people have experienced great relief in temporary use of these drugs to get over a rough patch.  However, in my case, I found myself ten years later using the drug as an emotional crutch.

After finally ditching the crutches, I am learning to walk – and I hope to eventually fly.

xooxoxox

Love,
Brenda

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Healed ‘Cause It No Longer Hurts (and the New WOW)

I didn’t even know I was healed ’til that button got pushed again.

You know the button, right?  (Everyone has one.)

It’s the reminder button; the deja vu scenario that is a shadow of former pain, betrayal, abuse or loss, disappointment and regret.

It’s the memory of the place you survived and promised yourself, “Never again.”

You all know my QVC experience by now.  The big break that ended up being the first professional heartbreak of my adult life so wounded me that, though I lived practically across the street from the studio, I couldn’t drive by the campus.  For years.  And SHOP there?  Fuggetaboutit.

You’d think a year or two of that would be sufficient, but we’re talking DECADES.  To this day, I choose not to fund the place that hired me away only to drop me three months later, leaving me with a lease, a pixie haircut, and a severe crisis of confidence.

But from the experience itself?  Totally healed.  It is always the blip on my resume people want to discuss and a great source of stories to entertain others at parties.

Does time heal all wounds?

Perhaps.  If you let it.

My take on this is that if you learn a LESSON from the pain, it’s a silver lining that can help you avoid making the same mistake twice.

Fast forward to my toxic church experience (which came soon after the QVC debacle.)  You know this one, too, where my desire for purpose and to fulfill my calling in life was manipulated and abused by narcissistic “spiritual leaders.”

Well meaning people sometimes say, “How could you ever get sucked in to something like that?”  Hey, it’s not like it started OUT like the hell it ended up to be.

It puzzles me that people could be so smug to think they couldn’t possibly be lassoed in to something they later regretted…whether a business deal, a relationship, or any type of investment.

This just happened to be an investment of my very life.

The years that have unfolded AFTER have taught me so many lessons.  Primarily, that questioning is healthy; trust should be earned (not granted just because of position) and that when my gut screams, “No!” I should listen to it.

Most of the following years have been free of anything that even remotely smacks of the potential for control.  But I recently found myself in a gathering (I thought it was a professional, business networking group!) and it soon became apparent that there was a religious undercurrent that reminded me of the seductive beginnings of my long ago church life.

Instead of causing me anxiety or torment, the experience was necessary because it showed me just how healed I was.

Sometimes things come around again just so you can celebrate such a victory.  

I was fired up when I recorded this…

Going back to my church story, that good has come out of such bad brings me JOY.

And really, SO much good came out of a bad place.

Some of my dearest friends in my life were met at that toxic church.  Because THEY were real, they remain today.  People who have had an amazingly positive impact on my professional and personal life?  Yep.  Met them there.  All those scriptures that pop up just when I need them the most?  Also from that time…only now pure and not used to manipulate me or anyone else.  Which reminds me of a scripture (!):

Are you weeping right now or filled with sorrow?

Whatever has caused you pain can turn into the greatest life lesson; a tool to make you more empathetic and less judgmental.  It can give you wisdom that can save someone else from pain.  Remarkably, it can even end up being a source of joy.

‘Cause you’re not that person anymore.

May you find the joy in every little thing this week, my friends.

Love,
Brenda

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Strength in Weakness (and the New WOW)

My week could have been spelled WEAK – and how ironic when the WOW was STRENGTH!

Here’s the backstory:  Three weeks ago I started to have seriously bloodshot, irritated eyes that were increasingly painful to blink, impossible to place contacts in, and most upsetting to my propensity for vanity, painful to apply makeup to.

If you review LAST week’s WOW taping, you can see watery eyes (in part ’cause I was a wee bit emotional, bur primarily due to my eye affliction.)

When you don’t have to show up to an office every day, the need to look good is diminished, but an impending Viola family wedding finally gave me the urgent push to go to the eye doctor.

Dr. Sinclair said, “How have you been functioning like this?”

He had no immediate answers but got me an ASAP appointment with a specialist and charged me with this assignment: “Between now and tomorrow, try and figure out what you’ve done differently that could have affected your eyes.”

I wracked my brain. No new makeup; no new creams or potions. No new food (except for my new ‘clean eating’ and geeez, what could THAT do that would be bad?)

I was getting really upset about this unknown malady, and feeling weaker by the moment.

Then, as I was getting ready for bed and took my evening low-dose aspirin, it hit me:  Three weeks ago my regular doctor switched one of my medications.

I was so busy thinking about a topical cause I never considered an internal one.

(Hmmmm.  That’s an interesting thought for another time!)

Thanks to Google, within minutes the rare side affects of said medication jumped out on my iPad: “Can cause severe eye distress in rare cases. If you experience blurriness, redness, and irritation – what the heck are you waiting for? Get to a doctor!” (OK, I added that last part.)

What relief to finally KNOW.  And suddenly, even though my pain and circumstance had not changed, the removal of the mystery gave me STRENGTH.

Now that I know what I’m dealing with, I can beat it.

Some of you are facing physical challenges and have been for much longer than three weeks.  My brief experience with a chronic, seemingly unsolvable pain was physically, mentally and spiritually distressing – so my heart truly goes out to you.

Don’t give up.

If you’ve been trying to slug it out by yourself, seek help.  And if that help doesn’t help, seek some more.  Seek wisdom and insight.  Pray for the answer and I am believing with you that it will come.

learning-is-a-gift

I would prefer that joy, delight, blessings and abundance are my teachers. But when pain  – whether physical or emotional – comes, for goodness sake, I want to get SOMETHING good out of it. And I expect to – because I don’t believe God, the Universe, the Source is playing cruel games with my life.

And believing that is also a source of strength.

So how do we follow this up?  Settle in for the new WOW:

There is a connection between STRENGTH and SURRENDER, isn’t there?

I know I get worn out and WEAK when I try too hard to make stuff happen or freak out about what is beyond my control.

The beauty of trust is that it allows you to let go…and let God.

And therein lies great strength.  “In quietness and confidence will be your strength” says Isaiah 30:15.

Love to you all!
xoxoxox

Brenda

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