Tag Archives: Prison

Breaking Out of a Living Hell

Breaking out reminds me of that scene from The Shawshank Redemption, where the main character chips away, little by little, at the wall that holds him in prison. He’s determined to get out, even if it means slogging through sewage to finally be free.

For many of us, 2020 has felt a bit like that prison.

Unable to easily hop on a plane; adventurous plans or opportunities cancelled.

Zoom fatigue.

Jobs lost, bills mounting. Childcare and homeschooling! Aging parents in assisted living or nursing homes that don’t allow visitors.

Election season and endless vitriol inescapable on social media.

Civil unrest.

Yes, 2020 has been a scratched record, replaying disappointment, anger, angst, and turmoil over and over.

And over.

A friend recently encouraged me to consider all the things you still CAN do rather than focusing on what you can’t.

And that helps.

But what if that prison door was unlocked? Instead of agonizingly inching toward an escape, our main character could have just walked out instead of breaking out.

This idea struck me as I watched a recent episode of Lucifer on Netflix.

Yes. I know. You’re shocked that I’d watch – and even like – that show, aren’t you?

Well, I was too.

But it intrigued me because the story turns the traditional explanation of satan on its head and offers thought-provoking ideas that make for great conversations between Mark and me.

In the episode that caused me to think about prison, Lucifer explains that “hell” is a place only you can take yourself. And there is an open door…but people rarely take it.

So caught up in a loop of self-recrimination, guilt, shame, and replaying painful memories, hell’s inhabitants never escape this place of their own making.

Look, I’m not citing the show as gospel, but the idea has merit.

I’ve been the villain in some people’s stories and have mistakenly felt that if I wallowed in the sadness and grief of how they perceived I failed them, it would somehow absolve me.

It doesn’t.

People who cannot forgive WANT you to torture yourself for the error of your ways.

And anyone, isn’t everything between you and…YOU?

Who hasn’t done wrong?

Or failed to act?

We make our own hell right here on earth by torturing ourselves for our failures.

For missed opportunities.

Or for how we may have let someone down.

One of Mark’s favorite lines that I have adopted is, “If it would help, I’d do it.”

At some point a few years ago I realized that guilt and regret only serve to drag down my energy. It renders me incapable of joy. Sans joy, I am depleted; a walking zombie.

I quit the apology tour and walked through the door, free.

It was just a decision. To forgive myself.

Forgiveness equals freedom.

And for those of you walking around still paying for the past, my wish for you is that same freedom.

Let yourself off the hook.

Yes, learn the lesson! When you know better, you do better…and now you know better. Since we don’t get a do-over, please don’t spend this limited journey on planet earth a living hell.

The door…is open.

Communication can take many forms; breathing a prayer, expressing an apology, writing in your journal.

There are words inside of you that, once spoken or written, will heal your soul.

And that is my wish for you.

With love,
Brenda

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Exiting Our Cages (and the New WOW)

The famous film producer, George Lucas, said, “We are all living in cages with the door wide open.”

I have pondered of late the sheer waste of living in a cage. To have the potential for a big, expansive, limitless life  yet choosing to stay constrained in a prison of my own making.

My sweet little Sheltie, Shasta, taught me a lesson years ago. If you are unfamiliar with Shelties, they are miniature Lassies.  A little bundle of joy full of white and brown fluff, our vet advised us to crate train her as a puppy, because dogs never mess where they sleep.

One day as I led her to her crate, she simply refused to go in. She dug in her paws and made it clear, “Enough!”

She never went back – and always whimpered to let us know when she needed to go, like a well-trained puppy should.

It would have been cruel to force her into that confined area.  It was a tool that had served its purpose, but when the purpose was fulfilled, it was time to put the crate away.

If only it were so clear cut in our own lives!  We begin a routine of morning coffee, work, going to the gym, cooking dinner, watching TV and doing it all over again.

This routine becomes what we call “normal life.”

But aren’t we the architects of our own normal?

So what keeps us in the cages of our own making?

I’ve looked at my own life, and came up with three answers; each tied up with bows of fear:

  1. Fear of what people will think
  2. Fear of loss
  3. Fear of the unknown

Life can be an Oscar-worthy performance with little to do with reality if you judge it only by Facebook or Instagram posts. What you see there are the happy, shiny, delicious, romantic highlights of a life – and none of the underbelly.

To a certain extent – that’s appropriate.  You don’t want your dirty laundry or every spat played out for the world to see.  You’ve invested in this Potemkin Village of a life that looks perfect on the outside but if you dare to take a closer look, it’s infested with termites and the foundation crumbling.

One of my favorite writers, Genevieve Georget posted this on Facebook this week, and it truly resonated with me:

Fear of what other people will think suppresses raw candor because it seems easier to keep up appearances. But do you want to perform at life, or live it?

And at the end of this life, will it matter if everyone else was pleased with you, but you, in fact, were miserable?

Riding shotgun with the fear of what people will think is its bosom buddy, fear of loss. If you disrupt the status quo, you could lose the respect and admiration of your family, friends and peers. If you leave that termite-infested house (in that great neighborhood with the amazing swimming pool), you might end up living in a studio apartment. Cutting ties with the old means your old stomping grounds, your old comfort zones, may no longer welcome you.

Leaving a beautiful home infested with termites of anger and fear and negativity? Difficult, but not a profound loss in light of what my soul yearned to gain.

Ah, the fear of the unknown.  This is best addressed by squarely facing what you DO know. Might, just like little Shasta, the crate of life not suit you anymore?

Certainly, there are no promises of what life will be when you exit the cage, but there is one certainty – on the other side of all of those fears is FREEDOM.

I have dreamed of a limitless life; the kind of life where yes is the first response, not no and where dreams are nurtured instead of dashed by negativity. I long for love to freely radiate from me, fueled by hope and effervescent belief.

At first I called it a lovely cage. I decorated it. It offered safety and familiarity. But in my moments of brutal honesty, I knew that the true me became smaller and smaller while my soul and spirit tried to thrive in toxic soil.

When you choose to exit your cages, you will upset people.  You will experience loss. You will face the unknown.

But my friends, you will be free, which is a gift more valuable than gold.

We are all living in cages with the door wide open.

I choose to walk out, by faith.

What lies on the other side for you?

Transformation was our Word of the Week and I can only imagine that the caterpillar has its moments of doubt that a butterfly will emerge. Caterpillars, please don’t judge your transformation midstream.

The key? Stay the course.  More on this and the new WOW here:

What a powerful, powerful directive.

Please let’s stop beating ourselves up for simply being human.  We are all flawed children of God.  It’s what we DO with what we’ve been given (or what we’ve done) that brings us closer to the light or draws us to darkness.

May forgiveness, of ourselves and others, let the light shine in on the dark places this week.

Love to you all  – and many thanks again for your kindness and care.

xoxoxoxo

Brenda

 

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