My mother is very sick, and no one quite knows what’s wrong. She has flu-like paralytic episodes which leave her weak. Her voice becomes froggy and scratchy. She’s been tested for just about everything, but there has been no firm diagnosis yet.
The sicker she has become the more I have been able to clearly see the depths of my father’s abuse. His nonchalance regarding her medical care is really the tip of the iceberg in an ice-cold sea of psychological and emotional abuse. It has become the straw that broke the camel’s back.
I am the camel.
I couldn’t do it anymore. I could no longer act like everything was fine. That this is just the way he is and I needed to quit being dramatic. At least he’s not physically abusive, right?
So I began to pull back. I started to work on myself. Because I am the only person I can control.
I put boundaries between my parents and me. If you’ve ever dealt with a narcissist you know that isn’t easily done. Any boundary you put up they will barge right through with ‘how dare you do this to me’ entitlement.
The more I pulled back, unfortunately and unsurprisingly, the sicker my mother became. From the time I was a very young girl, she needed me to withstand my father’s abuse. I can see now how unfair it is to impose that responsibility on a child.
I ended up having to cut ties with my father completely. I feel like he left me no choice. I was falling apart. Anxious (still am, extremely so) and constantly afraid. What was I so afraid of? As I thought more about this I realized I couldn’t ever remember not being afraid to some degree.
I finally had an epiphany. A slow epiphany of sorts because it took me all of these years to get to this point. Here I was in my late 30’s, and I still worried about making my parents, especially my father, mad. Walking on eggshells. Trying to do what I could, only to be told it wasn’t good enough. That epiphany helped me realize something.
He can not hurt me if I do not allow him to hurt me.
So what if I make my dad mad? His opinions, actions, moods, and abuse do not have to dictate how I feel. In fact, they can have no bearing on me whatsoever, if I don’t allow them the power.
Though it was extremely hard, I put a shield up against him and his attacks. I blocked him on Facebook. I blocked his number on my phone. I no longer let him in my house. Not that he tried to contact me often. Most of the contact was usually done though my brother or my mother. My brother texted me often to tell me how bad of a daughter I was.
I imagine cutting off contact with him probably made him treat my mother worse. I’m sure he took his anger out on her. I feel tremendous guilt over this. I should be able to protect her. But it is not my duty.
Because I am not the one abusing her.
Though they would have me believe the opposite, I am not the one at fault, and I cannot be held responsible for fixing an non-fixable situation. I have no control over how my mother chooses to live her life. I have no control over how my father treats her. I can’t force her to leave him. Just as I can’t make my father see how abusive he is. I can only protect myself. If I did allow contact then that would, in a way, condone his behavior as I would be forced to I sit idly by and watch it happen. Not to mention he would think it’s okay to be abusive towards me again.
Going from doctor to doctor my mother ended up at the Cleveland Clinic. After going over her records and doing some tests, the doctor asked how her childhood was. It was probably no surprise to the doctor that her childhood was pretty rough. Of course, he wasn’t going to ask how her marriage was with my father sitting right there, though I suspect the doctor knew. He knew how years of abuse can affect the human body.
As it happens far too often, my mother went from an abusive childhood straight into an abusive marriage. She was barely 18 when she married my father. She’s now 65.
She doesn’t think that her illness is psychosomatic. And, who knows, it might not be, but she doesn’t think her emotional health has any bearing on her physical health.
Yet, it does. The body carries trauma. We find ways to cope, to excuse away the abuse. The brain may allow us to forget, tucking it safely away in the hippo campus, but our bodies don’t forget.
I imagine if you add up 65 years of abuse it can do a real number on your nervous system. The weakness she keeps having, the body aches, the scratchy voice; it all tells a story.
Her body is screaming loudly what her voice can’t actually say.
I still maintain a relationship with her, though it is quite different than it used to be. I am no longer the codependent daughter she was accustomed to having.
Letting go and coming to terms with the reality of my family dynamic has been one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. Knowing I can’t change my father, that I can’t make him see the error of his ways and accepting that I can’t fix or save my mother has been simultaneously heartbreaking and freeing.
Ultimately I had to step away from their dysfunction and relinquish their power over me so that I can heal.
Never Doubt Your Instincts
Enter the doorway into the mind of this incredible Survivor Voice
Jenni Z aka artgirlcreations, is an artist and art journal creator who, through her multi-layered collage work and raw writing, explores ways to cope with her anxiety disorder, as well as the trauma she suffered as a child. Language, art and color lead the way through the muck of her past, as well as bridge the gap to a more mentally healthy future.
This past decade has been filled with many turns in the bumpy road I have traveled. I have pushed through deep depressions and sad realizations about this human existence. I have absorbed and grown my mindfulness and ability to receive and give love.
I have waded through dissociative disorder peaks, organizing the many compartments of my mind and doing the work to continue the integration of my brain. I have had situations which left me riddled with deep hurt. I spent time grieving, as twice I lost individuals who are extremely dear to me.
My heart has ached. I trudged through the self-accountability of learning how to re-parent adult children. I accepted and owned my own parental failures as lessons, not losses. I faced myself and my own behaviors, including how they affected those around me. I held all of my shame in my palms. I cried the guilt out of my soul, letting it release and evaporate into the soft air of Puget Sound.
I lamented lost loves. I clawed my way out of self-abusive behaviors and self-deprecating lifestyles. I ejected people from my life in order to preserve my own mental health and balance. I purged the pain of these difficult decisions. I endured the aftermath of their rage and blame. I stayed rooted within myself.
The decade came to an end with a bang. I realized how much I have risen, as I remained valiantly standing quietly in my truth. My defenses don’t matter anymore, only my boundaries. I have congratulated myself for making this much progress thus far.
There are many roads still left for me to travel. I am writing out the dusted shelves holding more memories behind closed doors in my brain. I am stepping through each door as they open, scribing out the facts and conversations holding answers to my existence and childhood experiences.
This life has been surreal. Being a cult child has been an experience which has let me feeling like I lived a life separate from my current existence. I am my own investigative journalist diving into my DNA as I retrieve the memories my trauma has hidden from me until I was ready to receive them. Unfolding into myself requires a specifically calm environment. I have learned to demand this space.
I had a plan to do an intentional painting on New Year’s Day. I wanted to move into this new decade setting more intentions of my body, mind and spirit continuing to heal.
Yet, when a baby is on its way in a family, they have a mind of their own when it comes to arrival. Hence, my fifth grandchild decided to enter the world on January 31st. I placed the painting plans aside to be with my family as new life arrived.
She is a peaceful, quiet little one. I am thankful that our forward generation grows and builds itself with love. Growing up without any family, I cherish these children, and the many ways they bring me moments of smiles and love, reminding me that good childhoods exist.
When mom arrived back home and settled in to rest, I returned to my original intention of creating my new decade painting.
I set up my camera on high speed mode to record the process so I could both share it and look back on what emerged. I also like to view through my phone as I’m creating art, as it gives me a different perspective and can inspire new ideas.
I sat down with a blank canvas, gathering old paints which were soon to expire, wanting to utilize them efficiently. I had no plan in my mind of what I would create. I closed my eyes, connected to my spirit, breathed deeply and began.
I first began to release a figure representing past pain, dark and brooding, filled with thick mire and a shrinking, red heart. Then I paused again and with another exhale I let my tools begin to cover the darkness, birthing new layers through space, dimension and color.
I built up the color, seeing the eye of my spiritual mother, hearing the soft whispering of her gentle words from within my own cells, leading me to the infinite parts of my existence and exploding above the path which is my way forward.
The Process Of Creating;
click to watch
Eye Of the Mother
It is unknown, what is to come. With a heart of hope, I stand inside my authenticity. I am formed from the gravel my spirit has pushed its way up through. I have swam inside of the depths of this human abyss with only my nose barely above death, to breathe and stand here in silence.
I have no resolutions going forward. My intention is softly rooted within my heart, my bones, my skin and my brain. May we all look toward ourselves with a love and patience blooming with self acceptance.
While the road is unclear in the distance, I move forward with persistence. I am protected by the gradients of my own inter-dimensional existence. This journey on earth, while often brutal, is filled with the wonder of infinite possibilities. I will not be broken.
Let go of that which no longer serves you. Accept the new without fear.
This year has been a slow churning process of self-examination. I have dissected new sections of pain which remain in the hidden spaces of my brain. I am making firmer promises to myself. My boundaries grow thicker, planted with prickly vines, should the uninvited attempt to sneak inside.
I will not stoop to low behaviors or project my pain on others. I own my actions and turn my back on ones who don’t own theirs. I stay rooted in understanding the intricate layers I am seeing. I continue gluing together the pieces.
My love is not to be taken for granted. I defend myself with mature valiance. I speak truth and gather proof. I face myself in the mirror and work on being better.
I am not who I used to be. I am not ashamed of the woman who was once self-abusive, running in circles with those who never cared for their own beings, just like me. That girl grew up and realized that facing herself was far more productive than hiding. Standing still was easier than running.
I walk forward slowly. I will not sink. I will not dance drama tangos with non-healing humans accepting lives of ruin as they reek havoc as a habit.
I let myself trace the footsteps of my past. There are seemingly endless tunnels to travel through. I have walked through fire, storms and attacks with no shields on my back.
Yet, here I stand.
So when you come to me, accept and see that I’m not at all who you assume me to be. I am inside of my own moving cells; listening to the stories they tell. Go forth into your next phase with grace, and be a soft wind, friends.
Don’t let anyone make you cruel. No matter how badly you want to give the world a taste of its own bitter medicine, it is never worth losing yourself.
Skeletons remain in the spaces beneath the pain. My brain becomes a seismograph of moving timelines and opportunities to rewind.
I enter the dark caverns armed. This is no place for charm or niceties. This is a war to be fought by a single army. I am one with what was formed.
I go quiet into the dormant caverns. I chart the patterns. I connect dots and string, creating a weave of evidence and acceptance.
There is no vengeance in this excavation. Only explanations and lain out bones, examined fractures and a puzzle creating a visual of the whole.
I am in the solitary state of self reflection. I have entered the stargate, reading the files stored when I was a child, my own familiar, my brain an elemental releasing brand new truths to process through written language in scrolls that hold secrets.
Was it really? The absolute worst day you’ve ever experienced in your whole entire life? No day has ever been worse than this one?
“I have the WORST headache!”
The worst? So bad it’s not preventing you from staring at
your glaring phone screen and lamenting about it online instead of treating
your headache and resting your eyes?
“Life is NEVER going to get better!”
Never ever? For the rest of your life you have seen all of
your future days ahead and have resolved to yourself that life will never
“I just CAN’T take another day!”
But you’re here the next day, still saying you won’t be able to take the next day either… or the next… or the next. So really, you actually can take another day.
“My life is OVER!”
Is it? Over? You’re dying because your mate left you or you lost that job or you’re having a high anxiety or pain day? That’s it? Life just ends? You see no possible solution available? Not even the ones being offered to you that you’re finding reasons not to try?
This may not be a popular post. I might piss some folks off. That’s okay. I get to speak on this subject. Why? I have been on this journey. I’m talking to you from experience. I’m speaking from days, weeks, months and years of crawling through the muck of my catastrophic victimhood into some harsh realizations that changed my life for the better.
Catastrophizing our language is extremely damaging to our mental health. The above statements were often heard leaving my lips as I was writing “Cult Child“. The process was brutal. There were times I really believed I might die from grief.
Yet, here I am. I didn’t die. How might I have made my healing process slightly softer had I known what I am about to share with you?
In order to understand the biology of how our language affects our lives, we should take a brief look at the scientific connection between linguists and neuroscience.
“This effect of framing or filtering is the main effect
we can expect—regarding language—from perception and thought. Languages do not
limit our ability to perceive the world or to think about the world, but they
focus our perception, attention, and thought on specific aspects of the world.
In summary, language functions as a filter of perception, memory, and
attention. Whenever we construct or interpret a linguistic statement, we need
to focus on specific aspects of the situation that the statement describes.
Interestingly, some brain imaging facilities are now allowing us to examine
these effects from a neurobiological perspective. For example, in one study,
authors prove that language affects the categorical perception of color—and
that this effect is stronger in the right visual field than in the left visual
field. Discrimination of colors encoded by different words also provokes
stronger and faster responses in the left hemisphere language regions than
discrimination of colors encoded by the same word. The authors conclude that
the left posterior temporoparietal language region may serve as a top-down
control source that modulates the activation of the visual cortex.
This is a nice example of current biolinguistics research
(in a broader sense) helping to achieve a better and more balanced
understanding of classic questions in linguistics—like the relationship between
language and thought.”
Are you thinking, “What the hell did I just read?” Alright, let me break it down simply. When you read your favorite author, as they describe a room in detail, can you see that room in your head? If you nodded yes, they have done their job.
They’ve used language to create an image in your mind.
We see this in our mental activity when we create scenarios which have not happened yet, for instance. Have you ever thought of the worst that could happen in a situation, finding yourself falling down a visual rabbit hole where you actually see it happening in your mind? You’ve just created your own visuals with your thoughts. That thumping heart you feel? You’ve just manipulated your own emotional state as you created that mental visual.
We can take this a step further by looking at great speakers and story tellers. They use their skill of language to create a picture in your mind.
Here, David JP Phillips rolls out an excellent TEDx talk in which he explains how media is used to manipulate your emotions to the point you will spend your money excessively or search endlessly for a love which has been unrealistically described to you.
All of the above are examples of how language influences your thoughts, your own words, your behavior, your buying and voting patterns and the simple ways in which you think and see situations and the community around you. More importantly, it influences how you view yourself.
This brings me back to being inside of our own minds, our thoughts and being aware of how we speak in general. Speaking negatively to a child or AROUND a child blocks them from building healthy self-esteem.
Someone I know had a decent childhood. They had everything they wanted. They weren’t abused or neglected. However, the one thing they did deal with was a mother who consistently spoke bad about herself. Because of this, my associate developed body dysphoria, something they fight every day, a lowered self image simply from being exposed to someone else’s lowered self image.
Alternatively, speaking positive to or around a child helps them develop a good sense of self. So then, imagine what you could do for yourself, if you focused in on changing your language.
I used to joke about myself when I was very overweight. I would hurry up and call myself fat, because that’s what I assumed everyone was thinking anyway. Then, I’d feel horrible and eat to soothe myself. When I changed my lifestyle and took pride in being healthy, I stopped speaking so poorly of myself. I have occasional moments I fight self-deprecating thoughts. The difference is that now, I catch myself. “No. Stop that. You are who you are.”
As children, many of us were left ignored and un-cared for as we suffered with pain in silence. This left an imprint on us, an illusion that we needed to inflate the seriousness of our struggles out of fear of being unnoticed.
If my lumbago is having a flare up, I don’t head to social media to lament about it. In fact, I put social media away, purposely keeping my mind in a very clean state. I go into self-care mode. I rest. I do what needs to be done to soothe the flare up. I don’t allow phone calls. I don’t allow stress. I listen to my body’s needs.
If I am in an off emotional mood, maybe having a day where I feel like I may be easily irritated, for instance, I bring my self-awareness higher. I don’t want to lash out or project those emotions toward anyone else or any slight situation. I try and avoid spaces where controversy might trigger me. Occasionally, I fall prey. I have an alpha tone to begin with. Imagine when I’m irritated. I do what’s right for myself. I sit with the emotions and process them.
What if you chose to look beyond the pain? What would your language look like?
If my hips are aching, I thank my legs for still working. I stretch slowly. I say to myself, “Alright, it’s one of those days.” If my heart is sad, I find gratitude in the fact I get to choose self-soothing. I have the freedom to write it out in my private journal.
I could have died as a tortured child. I survived. I triumphed. I fought my way through the rubble of Sam Fife’s sick, sadistic cult. I refuse to fall prey to their misery. So what worked for me? How did I flip my catastrophic language into uplifting ways of speaking to others, about others and most importantly, to and about myself?
I first designed my journal “Becoming Gratitude” in a notebook I used for myself. The sole purpose of taking that journey was to re-program all of my senses away from catastrophic and negative thinking. It absolutely worked. I decided to share this extremely inexpensive, simple, five-week gratitude course with the world because it worked for me. Consistency with the daily five minute task was absolutely the key for my success. Within as short as a week, I was saying to myself, “Okay, this feels good. I’m onto something here.”
“Becoming Gratitude” even worked for one of my most hard-headed and dearest friends! She left a hilarious and super real review about why she did not think it would work for her, which you can read here.
You can choose to exercise gratitude in your life in many differing arenas. The key word here is choice. Ending catastrophic thinking and speaking and beginning forward-moving, solutions-based thinking and speaking takes active self awareness and work until it becomes natural. Your change will happen quickly.
You’re going to get addicted to feeling good inside.
Choose your words in a way which creates a positive image in your own mind. As I am constantly working on growth in regard to my mental and physical health, I visualize myself where I want to be, how I will be living, my environment and joy. As I continue to speak good about myself, the better I feel and the better I become.
You deserve your good. Speak kindly to yourself. Speak highly about yourself. Accept your abilities. Accept compliments. Embrace the positive parts of yourself. It’s okay. You can be a Thriver and still speak about the wounds you have endured. Healing doesn’t erase what happened to you. It just makes living a lot easier.
The journey into the realm of thriving really does begin with a first step. Choose Gratitude.
“When the parent heals, they heal their children’s children.”
The best thing my mother could have done when she was alive was to take accountability for what she took her children into. She never did. She died drowning in the river of denial. Why is this the best thing she could have done? Because it would have healed her. It would have healed my children, because it would have helped me heal long before I actually did.
What’s so hard about owning our own shit? Why do we so adamantly avoid it? What is this fear of accountability and judgment? I would come to realize, that understanding my mother’s refusal to own her behaviors would take me facing and looking at my own. Ouch. That stung to even write out. It’s true, though, and I’m going to tell you why.
“Don’t judge me.”
know people who preface a story with this phrase. I used to sometimes do the
“Ok. I’m gonna tell you what happened but FIRST you gotta promise not to judge me.”
walks around leaving wafts of fear in its wake. Some of us fear judgment because
we care what others think of us and derive our self-worth from the opinion of
others. Some of us use religions as a basis to judge other people. Whatever the
platform it’s performed from, there is one element that is constant across the
board. No one wants to be in the front row when Judgment is on stage.
has been one of the difficult parts of my healing journey; learning to stand
without judgment and see a person exactly where THEY stand and not
finding fault in them just so I could feel better about who I perceive myself
to be. I’ve had to find my own well of confidence which was already bubbling
inside of me. I just had not tapped into my own rich oil. In avoiding
accountability and judgment, I was ignoring myself.
“I had to linearly eliminate my fear of judgment and stop caring about being judged. This was intensive self-work to take on.”
In this conversation on judgment we can rule out criminals. They break laws and must be judged by those laws. I’m talking about judgment that is often blanketed as “opinion”. That’s really what judgment is. It’s our opinion on someone’s life, their actions, behavior, decisions, choices, orientation, gender, skin color or whatever else we choose to focus in on. The point is, that for those skilled at the art of judgment there will always be something they can find to have an opinion about.
I found that step one of this learning curve in eliminating the fear of judgment was to look at why I had this fear. It lived in multiple facets of my life. I feared judgment on:
My parenting skills or lack thereof
My relationship choices
My weight and the state of my body
The way I spoke, or the words I chose
My personal views on life/society
Here’s the kicker. I acted like I didn’t care at ALL what anyone thought. In fact I needed to reinforce that illusion by letting others KNOW every now and then that I didn’t care. I imagine many of you are feeling me on this. We are the skilled mask wearers, where on the outside we appear as if we do not give a stone cold shit. Oh, but I did. I cared very much what others thought of me. Words sunk into my skin like arrows. I was affected. I would ruminate on an opinion and even adjust my life out of that fear.
“To understand why I had so much fear of judgment took following the connecting strands into my childhood.”
was surrounded by judgment as a child. Being a kid in Sam Fife’s “The Move
Of God” cult meant walking around with an invisible “judge me!” sign
on many of our backs. Day in and day out. Week after week. Year after year, I
was subjected to judgment in multiple ways.
The ministers told us that God would be judging us. That judgment was so deep it could result in an eternity inside a pit of fire. That one messed with my head. Especially after kerosene exploded in my face at 12-years-old, and I learned firsthand exactly what a second degree burn felt like. I shuddered at the thought of my whole body being engulfed in flames. For a whole eternity, 24/7, I would be a ball of burning pain. I did, however, somehow have a smidgen of critical thinking as a child. I would waver between extreme fear of hell and a doubt that anything these people said was true.
was surrounded by judgmental adults. They judged others together. Then they
judged each other behind each other’s backs while claiming to be friends. There
was no loyalty or trust existent for me to pattern as a child. Growing up in a
cult, I quickly absorbed that no one could be trusted. I was enmeshed inside endless two-faced,
I watched kids lie on other kids to escape judgment. As a child in the cult, I both lied to escape judgment and was also lied about. This environment, which included a deep fear of brutal, physical punishment, was a viscous “Avoid Blame” game. We were all constantly side eyeing each other.
is what prison is like, always watching your back just in case someone comes
after you. This is what living in a domestic violence relationship is like,
always worrying you’ll say or do the wrong thing and get beat. The consequences
of being judged can range from verbal attacks to physical attacks and in some
instances and regions of the planet, even death.
“Fearing judgment is a deep clotted vein in our bodies. It is real, and it is dangerous to our wellbeing.”
out fear of judgment was part of doing intense inner child work. I looked at
every piece of my life, the moments I judged others, and the moments I was
crippled by judgment. It was an extensively long list. There were times I felt
I deserved judgment, when I made mistakes as an adult. It was easy for me to
say that I had the right to judge others because I was tough enough to take it.
No. I wasn’t. That was a big, fat lie. Being judged hurt horribly.
Yet, no one would ever judge me more harshly than I would judge myself. I was my own United States of Vennie’s Supreme Court. I’ve come a very long way, and it’s one I actively work on.
few years ago I was visiting a family member. We were watching a movie.
Suddenly my family member’s husband muted the television and turned to me.
am curious about something. Do you feel successful? I ask this because you
don’t own anything. You don’t own a house. You don’t have assets. What have you
done with your life?”
was blindside and stunned. I looked at my family member, whose eyes were big as
saucers, equally shocked at what her husband had just said to me. I later
realized she might also have been waiting for me to lose my shit on her
husband. I didn’t. I didn’t even have a desire to lose it. All of this happened
in my head in a matter of seconds. I understood clearly that I was dealing with
a truly miserable person who thought it was alright to put me down and verbally
abuse me. I could see the thing for what it was, and it had nothing to do with
I said next would reveal to myself one of the biggest steps forward in my
growth journey. I smiled and kept my voice steady and low.
life is so rich. I have two brilliant sons who are adults making their own way
independently in life. I have amazing friends. I am free to travel. I’m not
tied to anything. I feel the freest than ever in my life. To be free and happy.
That’s what success is to me.” I responded.
His face twisted. It wasn’t the reaction he expected. This time, I didn’t take the bait and go off so he could enjoy watching the show of my negative emotions. I was a bit surprised at myself. He retorted some sideways comment I don’t recall or think I even tried to hear, and then resumed watching television. I realized in that moment that I had conquered a huge auto reactionary habit response which had always flashed when I felt judged. In my head I congratulated myself. Inside my spirit and thinking I didn’t feel affected. I didn’t have the usual body reactions such as warmth spreading over my face or fight/flight heart palpitations as I prepared to release my dragons. None of that happened. There was a calm inside me which felt new and permanent.
had taken a massive step in eliminating my concern over other people’s words in
regard to how my life path had emerged itself or the choices I had made. I
realized I could actually own all of my stuff. I didn’t have to wear a mask
anymore. This began to burst open in many facets of my life as I took
accountability for the places where I actually had failed. I learned that there
was a difference between my actual mistakes and all of my self-perceived “failures”.
leads me back to the quote at the top of this post. Healing my fear of judgment
released the ability for accountability. This helped me become a better mother.
I could look at my children and accept the times I made choices which
negatively affected them. I could say this to them without feeling like a
horrible failure of a mother. I could hold accountability without excuse.
didn’t make the right choice, and for that, I am sorry.”
shit! Do you know the power of healing these words hold? Oh, my friends, let me
A few years ago I was in a very stressful situation. I had a dear friend who was also going through stress. In the process of that friendship, I projected my stress out into a conversation my friend and I had. I literally screamed into a voice note that my friend was “dead to me”.
you just said, “What the hell??” you’re a better person than I was being
at the time. Exactly! Who says that to their friend? Someone who needs to grow.
That’s who. I could have said, “Hey, I can’t deal with this right now
because I’m overloaded.” Right? No. I was reactive, and I projected my
personal stress into someone who didn’t deserve it. Bad behavior!
I justified the way I acted for a long time, until I had personal growth, and it began to bother me how I had spoken to them. I really loved this person and had promised never to betray them. Yet, I had horribly emotionally betrayed them. When we realize we have wronged someone it does not end there. This is where I have a perspective on the forgiveness concept.
“Forgiveness involves two steps. The first one is the most crucial and must happen if forgiveness is to be the end result.”
I had to contact the person I had been cruel to and apologize. I had to detail my behavior, so they understood I recognized it. I had to say, “I’m sorry.” without expectations.
They got to make the choice on how to receive my apology or if they even wished to accept it.
Accountability should not have expectations. I didn’t apologize with an expectation of acceptance. I did it because it was the right thing to do. Our accountability cannot be self-serving. It must stand with truth and the purpose of making a wrong behavior right again.
There is an inner freedom which comes with accountability. That does not mean we get to keep acting badly just because we own it. No. Accountability comes with change of our behavioral patterns. It means we look at ourselves and, through that examination, we create elimination of the rotten parts of our behavior and thought processes.
I found that as I worked on my self-accountability and my own fear of judgment something else happened. I judged others less. I didn’t have to work very hard at that. It came automatically. When we can connect how bad it feels to BE stabbed with the fact that’s exactly how it feels for someone else when we stab them, it helps us put the knife down.
Accountability is part of processing for me. It’s not just about actions either. I am accountable for how I speak to myself; how I self-care and how I conduct my life in as such as it relates to ensure that I am maintaining personal health; physically, mentally and emotionally.
While I no longer fear the judgment of others and don’t feel an urge to have opinions on other people’s lives, per-say, I am still working on self-judgment. I work on my body image. I work on how I speak to myself and about myself. Sometimes the people who appear the most confident can have some of the most self-destructive inner conversations.
Self-accountability takes a lot of work. One thing I want to leave you with is remembering this. We do not have full control over how others choose to see us. We have 100% control over how we view ourselves and others. We have 100% control over how we behave and process our own emotions. When I began to actively practice this self-control, many triggers naturally fell away.
When you have moments of self-judgment, apologize to yourself. Be accountable to your own being. You will immediately heal the wound you just created in yourself. Our relationship with our own mind and body is completely within our own choices. Forgive yourself for the past if you self-harmed with bad behavior, food, drugs, alcohol or whatever it may be. Tomorrow is a new day, and you get to choose. That is a freedom no one can ever take from us.
“Fear of accountability and fear of judgment often hold hands. What I can promise you from experience is that self-accountability will help heal your fear of judgment.”