Choosing Grace, Not Aggression

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“I want peace. I want to see if somewhere there isn’t something left in life of charm and grace.” -Margaret Mitchell

Life sure is funny.  Just when I was beginning to feel strong standing on my own two feet, the universe threw me a curve ball to test (and strengthen) my skills and strength.

This past weekend was challenging.  Despite the joy I was experiencing, the wonderful community I have found and my own practice of self care, outside forces triggered past pain and emotions- and this scared me.  Instead of self destructing as I have in the past, I took a deep breath, sat on a bench and called a friend.

Setting healthy boundaries has been a huge part of my own happiness and recovery, as I have experienced insecurities, pain and fear due to the messages I have received throughout my life.  This includes family members, teachers, peers, boyfriends and even public figures.  I have consistently questioned my worth, second guessed myself and backed down when I began to achieve some form of success.  I had no confidence- if what I was doing wasn’t “perfect” it wasn’t worth doing.  My self esteem and foundation were always a bit rocky, but old feelings of fear crept up on me when someone’s criticism and judgment set me off out of nowhere.

The defensive Kristin came back- and it was extremely uncomfortable.

I’ve always had a chip on my shoulder toward people who try to dominate me, thus acting out and being overly defensive and aggressive.  I have held on tightly to this defense mechanism through the years, only to realize how awful it made me feel.  I remembered traumatic experiences- bullying, sexist messages, abandonment and physical abuse.  I have kept all of this inside for years.  Had I been acting out for decades without realizing it?  Yes, I had.  It just took me thirty-some years to learn it.

After speaking with friends about traumas I suppressed (and failed to recognize as abuse- I thought it was all my fault), I am grateful for these triggers.  Old feelings of shame came to the forefront, and I was able to meditate on these uneasy feelings.  So, as always, I walked to the water for solace.

Water brings me such peace.  It is the closest way for me to connect with my higher power, so on Sunday I meditated on a rock and prayed for the courage and grace to get through the day.

I received just that- strength and hope.  I faced the day with grace, not aggression, and everything worked out just fine.  I tried not to let the negative messages affect my mood, so after leaving the pond I turned my negative energy into productivity.  Since art and writing has always brought me peace, I decided to stock up on art supplies to paint inspirational messages for my friends.  I’ve received endless love, compassion and hope from the friends I have made in Boston, so instead of living in my one-woman pity party, I decided to give the love back to those who have helped me.

As I go about my Monday, I will remember the feeling of peace and serenity I experienced by Spy Pond.  When I walk with grace, the world is a little lighter, a little freer.  If you’re also experiencing some aggravation, try a meditation to bring you back to center.  Remember, your true home is within you- everything outside of yourself is not in your control- but you can control how you react.  Once you’re able to manage outside factors with grace, not aggression, you will feel better- I promise.

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Gratitude

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“You can’t be fearful and grateful at the same time.”

As I reflect on the past five months in Massachusetts- where I was at before I arrived, where I was at when I settled in, and where I am at now, I think about how resistant I was to ask for help.  I felt I needed to be strong; that I needed to do everything on my own in order to prove to those around me (particularly the naysayers) that I could bounce back from a difficult year.

It was a lonely place- a place I was stuck in until very recently.

I have always been fearful of rejection and criticism.  Instead of focusing on self-care when I got here, I focused on appearing like everything was fine.  Deeply lonely but throwing myself into work, I journaled, read self-help books, created my blog, meditated and more- but I still found myself isolated and empty.

Over the years I looked for external ways to fill the void inside; shopping, alcohol, dating. Although I learned that those things only made me feel emptier inside, I failed to do the one thing that I had been resisting for so long: looking for spirituality through other people.

With a clear head and wide eyes, my fear is starting to slip away. Over the past couple of weeks I have opened my heart and myself up to those around me; the people that have given me love, hope and strength.  There have been many changes in my life and within my own perspective that I have recently acknowledged, and one of those changes lies within my purpose.  I have felt I have merely been “going through the motions” for the past few months, wondering “what exactly is the meaning of life?”  As I continue to write, help others and look for a career that fits my passions and my purpose (spreading the message of hope to others who have been through what I have), I have nothing but gratitude from the women in my life, especially here in Cambridge, who have shown me that I am whole on my own.

This morning I have an immense amount of gratitude to those who have helped make my transition easier, have taught me to lighten up, and helped me learn to love myself.

Thanks to a little help from my friends, I live in the solutions- not the problems.

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