Ramshackled Walls

If Gratitude is foundational to inner healing, so are boundaries. I bought the book, “Boundaries” while I was receiving therapy for domestic violence. It was there that I learned what boundaries really are. I had a few boundaries, thank God, but for all the wrong reasons. Also, I did not enforce them well. I had some seriously ramshackled walls for my boundaries. Boundaries It was there, in therapy, that I began to get the concepts and learn why I had so few. I had a mother who knew no boundaries. She was highly manipulative. Of course I am not saying she was a horrible mother at all. She was actually very loving, funny and a hard worker. I learned many things from her. The concept of Boundaries was just not one of them.
My mom would literally change everyone’s bedrooms to different locations. I could come home from school, go to my bedroom, and my sisters bedroom was there and decorated. I would have to search the house to find my new room. If she did not like what I had on the wall, she simply went in and threw it away. It didn’t matter that I liked it. She was also never satisfied. She complained a lot. I heard many complaints on my sisters. They all had moved out of the home and she was not happy that they were not doing things exactly her way. My dad was disabled and didn’t work. I think he found it mildly entertaining for us to have to search for our room. My mom was so dissatisfied that she routinely had my twin brother go outside and move the bushes and flowers to different locations from time to time. My first memory of the landscape rearrange was a well established azalea bush. I can remember at age 9 or 10 thinking, “mama has really lost it”. I laugh now but then it did not feel so good. It also facilitated a pattern of unease and complaining in me. It also taught me I had no say in any matter and boundaries. This was also due, in part, to the fact that I did not know the word until I was in my late 20’s. It was years later that I understood she grew up during the depression, poor and without a father. She never remembers her mom saying I love you. Therapy was not a thing then.

I won’t go into the details of the book Boundaries, why reinvent the wheel. But, reading it, I began to understand what they were and why I needed them. When healing from wounding, setting new healthy boundaries is the next foundational thing a person can do. Gratitude reminds you of the Heavenly Father’s love . When we are reminded of that love, we understand how valued we are . When we understand that love and worth, proper boundaries can be set.

But how do I set boundaries? Also, what are they really? I am a counselor by trade. My first job was one-on-one counseling and group counseling. “Boundaries” was the name of the group I led. Even though I learned boundaries, teaching this course and seeing things through my clients eyes helped me grow even more. A boundary lets people know how we want to be treated. A boundary tells another how we operate in our spaces. I found that working with my clients, they had no idea what a boundary was and how to set them. The most revealing thing was, they did not understand the concept of personal values. So, helping them build or establish boundaries at the rehab facility was a challenge. I modified the curriculum and added a worksheet on values. Our culture determines how we express our values. As we grow, travel and have families our boundaries change. Some of our boundaries are not static.

So you want to set a boundary? First you must define your values. Values are what you deem important as you go about your life. I value education. So when I was in college I set boundaries. I would not allow my friends to call at a certain time. I understood that when my friends wanted to go out to eat or shopping, I could not . I had a paper deadline to meet and needed to maintain my GPA. My friends did not ask me to go shopping on certain days. If they did call on the times that I set aside, I knew it was an emergency. If someone wanted to be a boundary breaker, I just blocked their number for a few hours so I would not receive the calls. Sometimes I turned off my phone. Setting them up early and enforcing them early in my college career helped me in spades later. Setting up goals and guards around those things you value are boundaries. When you are in a DV situation you need to work closely with your counselor on the deeper boundaries. This is just a light explanation.

A few words of caution: Never set a boundary you do not have the emotional strength to enforce. You will lose respect from those around you, especially the boundary buster. You will encounter resistance, and those around you will test you to see if you mean what you say. You may lose a relationship over your new found boundaries. But, if you do, then, there was never truly a relationship to begin with. The book “Boundaries” is a phenomenal read. Even though it is an older book, it is still a highly successful seller on the market. Putting these boundaries in place and practicing them has given me great strength and more peace. I have learned who my true friends are through establishing and enforcing them. My friends are safe people and I am a much richer person.


The Coffee House Counselor.com

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Gratitude Unlocks A Miracle

Gratitude is what moves us from the mire. When driving down the highway of life, having gratitude can make the difference between navigating life on a bike trail or a paved superhighway. I had a whole history of “poor me” and, after my divorce, I had more than my share of troubles. Divorced and trying to get a job in a recession was very depressing. I couldn’t even get a job in fast food. I was overqualified. I lived with my father and 450.00 a month alimony. It was not ideal for someone who was in their thirties, educated and had been out on their own since they were sixteen years old. Yet, there I was. Self pity was overflowing. After a good lecture from my dearest friend with the help of the Holy Spirit, I began my gratitude list. It was really simple. The home I lived in was older and needed work but it had a sunroom. I had always wanted a sunroom. I began to utilize it. I gave it a good clean and looked for found items to furnish and decorate. A friend of mine sent me some cash to get curtains at the discount store. My sister loaned me a small tv and pretty soon it was my favorite place to have coffee. Note: that the gratitude gave me energy to clean and the act of cleaning and being thankful netted me curtains.

I was grateful that I had my dad, even though at times we were at odds. Our life philosophies did not mesh. That was a great training ground, as I again learned to shut my mouth. It was not my house and I had to respect that fact. I was just thankful that I had a home to live in even though it could get very tense at times.

Dad had gotten a stair stepper. It wasn’t in use, so I put it in my room. Whenever I got angry or frustrated I would get on the stepper. I then graduated to long walks around the neighborhood. I was still working on a degree and I had dad’s encouragement. I could put that on my gratitude list. I had internet, I had a desk , laptop and encouragement. As the months flew by I was able to get my first car that was truly mine and it was paid for. I paid $850.00 and owed nothing. Now, I was no longer dependent on someone else for transportation. My friend owned a restaurant and I ate for working tables for a few hours. Being at the restaurant and hanging out with my friend gave me the fellowship I desired, gas money and food. I really did not lack from the basics. My ex boyfriend actually, out of the blue, decided to buy me some clothes. He said I had such a giving spirit that he wanted to do something nice for me. Gratitude led me to some pretty cool adventures. I may not have been laden with money, but it gave me adventure. Once gratitude had been Gratitude cemented into my spirit, I grew quite comfortable with the single life. I occasionally dated ,but nothing serious. I was still a hot mess but, now, I had hope. Little did I know what was down the road. Gratitude was the key to unlock a powerful healing that would take place over the next seven years.

The first healing was from mental illness that I was suffering with.. I took risperdal which is a heavy duty antidepressant medication. I remember very clearly that I heard God’s voice say, “draw a calendar”, and so I did. He said he was going to step me off my medication and at the end of it, I would be healed. It took two weeks and the severe depression left. The suicidal thoughts were there from time to time, but I learned those were not me. I learned that I did not have to listen to it, so I listened to music.

The second healing was my ability to love Jesus as I thought I should. I remember, one day, listening to a video. The speaker said she began to say, “I love you TOO God” and, in doing that, she developed a greater intimacy. You see, when we say, “I love you too”, it means we are acknowledging that He does love us. We acknowledge that it was received and we share back his love. There was a chair in my room. It was a yellow velvet chair. Nothing really to look at, but quite comfortable. I would sit in the chair and throw my legs over the arms. I envisioned it was Jesus’ lap. I would talk away to Jesus as if I was talking to a friend and say I love you too God. When I said it, I would pause and practice feeling love and imagining what that really felt like. Having someone to love you without taking it back. My love receiver was broken.

Sometimes when someone was nice to me, I would fear it would be snatched away from me and it physically hurt on the inside. But, one day, God began to respond and I found myself really in love with Jesus and my Papa God. I began living by his words and movement. I was happy with me, Jesus and my small car. I told God, “I love you and from now on it is just me, you and this car.” “We shall have adventures and go where life takes us”. “I am quite happy if I never marry again”. Little did I know my life would take another turn. Fire would meet gas and a whole other dimension of living would open. But that is for another blog post. For right now, as simple and contrite as it seems, continuing to write down and be thankful for even the smallest of things, every day on a sustained basis, opens doors. This small thing guards your heart and your mouth from speaking death. When you have begun to be grateful, you will know the instant you speak death to your circumstances. But, we have a wonderful Father who is forgiving. Just pray, repent and ask for it to be restored.


The Coffee House Counselor.com

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The Second Act: Resiliancy

Resialncy Starting Over
Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

The first act of my life begins with low birth weight, chronic infections, broken bones, jealousy, betrayal and chronic illness. As my life progressed, I endured sexual assault, accidents with fatalities and domestic violence. [I want to say on the outset that the domestic violence was mutual. In my first marriage in no way will I lay blame on the other party as we both were willing participants.] My ex husband and I were broken individuals. We yelled, screamed, pushed and of course gave the silent treatment. I am not saying my first marriage was all bad. It wasn’t, we had loads of fun. We had a son and we did amazing things as a family. But our brokenness overloaded the marriage and it failed. This day we both have grown and made amends. We remain friends for our adult son and grandson. I have since remarried to the most amazing man and had many years of therapy, inner healing and deliverance. I even became a Therapist and Pastor. My life was the training ground and my formal education was the open door that became the exit that I walked out of to be ushered into a new era. This era is the second half of my life and it is titled Resiliency.

When we think “new era”, we think perfection. For me it isn’t. But that is ok. This is the second act of my life. This blog is about how to overcome, sharing the lessons learned and support from someone who has faced the challenges just like you. This blog will share how to build a firm foundation for continuing wholeness.

I have had many labels thrust upon me through the years. The two that stood out were CPTSD and obesity. These are both still a work in progress. Neither label is a lifetime diagnosis and CAN be overcome. The journey I am on is not for the faint of heart. It takes sheer grit, determination and a whole lot of faith. The first step is taking responsibility.

Photo by Luke Porter on Unsplash

After my divorce, I surveyed the desolate rubble of my former marriage and life. What I saw within was not pretty. I was hurt, angry and disillusioned. It seemed I had a lifetime of hurt and let downs. People on the outside thought I was kind but just had some troubles. They saw me as an intelligent person and a good friend to have. When the destructive part of me reared its ugly head, the consensus from my peers was that I just needed to straighten up. But, there was something more dark going on in the inside. I felt suicidal, tired and unlovable. I did self destructive things and hurt those who loved me deeply all because of the big gaping hole of pain. Finally, sick of myself and chronically suffering with health and suicidal feelings, I wanted to end my life. I made a few attempts but failed. After each failed attempt, those around me became angry. My pastor even refused to speak to me. I was dismissed from my leadership position and was avoided. For me, death was not meant to be. After my Divorce, I had a year long romance that was based on a rebound and, when that ended, I was left more broken than before. I thought, “If I had someone who loved me and that I could love back, that would solve everything”. There was just one problem. I did not know what love was. Once again, death courted and I had a choice. I chose to listen to a little spitfire named Dixie. Over the years we had spoken by email and phone but, After one particular phone call laden with self pity, she had enough. She told me in no uncertain terms that I needed to close my mouth and get an attitude of thankfulness. It was that phone call, and her voice, strengthened by the Holy Spirit, that kicked off the blinders.  I may have suffered many things but it was not about what evil had befallen me. It was about my response. You see, no one can take the steps to heal the wounds but you. It doesn’t seem fair that we have to suffer at the hands of another and then do the hard work of overcoming. But life is not fair. We have an enemy who wants to destroy us. Just like an athlete suffering from a sports injury, it is not the guy that tackled you that has to go through surgery, endure pre and post surgical pain and show up at physical therapy for rehabilitation. I had to shut up and show up. And, despite all the victories in the past, this is where I gained traction. I humbled myself and took responsibility for my actions. I owned up without excuse and my life radically changed.
In the second act of my life there are no excuses, just results. I truly believe that everything is a choice. We may have heavy influences to fight, but behind the influence still lies choice. It takes character building and gaining emotional intelligence to make those choices. Resiliency is taught in the home and some homes are being led by fractured individuals who have no coping skills of their own to pass down. So we get generational issues and stunted emotional intelligence. Journey with me and I will share my experiences and skills that I’ve learned. Together, we can build up that resiliency and strengthen our emotional IQ.

The Coffee House Counselor.com