Any work on self-improvement begins with a snapshot of yourself. It’s a time of honesty, a time of truth. A time for being flabbergasted at the reality that maybe, there’s more work than you planned on. That is always what happens to me anyway. My head will literally fall forward as I groan when I realize how far I have to go.

There is only one problem with this interior look without someone else willing to stare at you like you’re an idiot for believing it’s that bad. We all have that role of interior self-judgement that comes with the voice that whispers “see how bad it is, why bother fixing it?”

pepe_le_pew_by_jamtoon-d8masp6That guy, let’s call him the evil minion. In my case I always picture that person like Pepe le Pew. I don’t know why, but the fact he’s a skunk who thinks he’s suave chasing a poor cat who clearly doesn’t want him reminds me of my personal evil minion. I don’t want his advice, but he’s going to keep giving it anyway because he thinks the opposite.

Oh, and by the way, just because I’m a woman doesn’t mean all the inner voices are women as well. Sometimes a male voice is more applicable than a female one. So if you’re like me, and you hear a voice of the opposite gender whispering. “No, no, it’s not anything to worry about. Look over ther’ instead” don’t worry, you’re not nuts. Just well rounded – oh and don’t forget the accent. It sells the whole look.

Evil Minion person, depending on your gender, seems to have taken it on themselves to spend the time and effort for distraction. Their goal is to keep you from thinking there is anything to fix. Either that or it’s too far gone to fix.

The multiple meaning of words

words.jpegBefore going further, I want to discuss the meaning of certain words in context.

Self-improvement, or in this case, transformation, comes with the concept of fixing and dealing with whatever issue we have at the moment. For me, in this space, it’s fear that I’m facing.

In general society ‘fix’ is used to repair, to make whatever is wrong to stop. For self-improvement/transformation I feel the word fix means to come to term with the difficulty and challenge before us. Simple fact is that I can’t get rid of my fear. Fear is who we are, a part of our human make up. It’s an emotion and try as hard as we might, you can’t get rid of it.

The ‘fix’ is to accept it as being a part of yourself, but also to address the worse of whatever you’re working on. Sometimes addressing that stuff requires help. That help can come from the medical profession as well so please don’t think I’m saying this has to be done on your own.

This leads me to the improvement/transformation part of this blog – the idea of improvement comes with various pre-conceptions I’ve found. Often times it comes with the image of a group meditation going “ohm”. I won’t say that sometimes it doesn’t have that, but mostly, it’s less glamorous.

hand writes with a pen in a notebook

The truth about transformation is that it’s a lot of being alone, writing down in a journal and picking your own life apart. There are times when it’s a bit enjoyable because habits that you’re trying to be rid of need to be replaced, but for the most part it’s tedious work. Understanding ourselves, asking the hard questions take time. It takes time to see all the facets of what we are working on within ourselves. To realize the mirror is really a pool.

The whole of it

prism.jpegA common mistake that comes with starting the process of self-evaluation is to try and look at the whole picture. You can’t, sorry to tell you if you didn’t know before hand. You can’t because as a human, we’re multi-leveled. Think of it like this, a crystal, or a gem, has many facets. If you turn it one day, it reflects light a certain way, if you turn it another, the light looks different. Look through it, it changes again.

Not only that, but as we work on one aspect of ourselves, it changes the whole. As I dealt with my anger as a younger woman, I stumbled upon a degree of patience that I didn’t think was programmed in my DNA.

Instead, what I typically do is I find the biggest pressure point of whatever I’m working on and start there. For me, in this instance, was the fear of my children leaving me. Whether by choice or not, isn’t part of the fear, it’s them not being with me. I can’t say this is due to any separation anxiety, because I can handle them being away from me for a month (which is the longest so far they’ve gone without seeing me) and I can even see handling not seeing them for a whole summer. I’d rather not test it, but I can see it.

I Can versus I Can't

What I can’t see is them not living in my home. At least not yet. When they are 18 I’ll happily give them the boot. I’ve told them many times that unless they are joining the military, waiting to go to college or going to college near me, they have to go find their own place. Oh, I’ll be nice and give them a little bit of grace time to find a job, but once they do they will pay rent or move out. Simple really.

I’m looking forward to that day for many reasons (one being the vagabond within me that wants to see more of the world while it’s still out there), but I’m not ready to hasten it yet.  I also don’t think they should be living with their father for a variety of reasons that I don’t need or want to get into.

Beginning to Press

knowledge.jpegKnowing is half the battle, it’s wisdom that fights the war. I know, for example, the source of my fear stems with the idea of them not being with me. Of loosing my children. Intellectually I know it won’t happen. I know it won’t because the kids prefer living with me, I’m the better place for them at the moment and I have full custody of them. Meaning that all responsibility of raising them is mine. This is both good and bad.

According to the law, unless there is proof to show that my circumstances has changed that is not in the best interest of the children, that agreement of full custody being with me cannot change unless I agree to it. Since I won’t agree to it… it won’t happen. Period.

know this – yet I still fear being wrong. Until I recently started to accept that emotions are a part of what guides me, I would have stubbornly refused to acknowledge that fear. I’d refuse to admit it out loud as well, but after I had my initial panic attack at the idea – I was forced to look in that blasted mirror to realize the depth of my fear.

Lumbering away

I’m still working on it, mind you, but I’m coming to terms to the source of that initial fear. When I was younger, something happened where it became necessary for my own safety to move from my dad’s custody to my mom’s. It was for my benefit, I know that now, but I was told by one of the people that was the cause of having to move that I was getting kicked out of the house because I was more trouble than I was worth. As an eleven year old still reeling from all that had happened, I took it to heart.

I believed it until I was 28 when my dad and I had a serious talk about those years because both of us had finally healed enough on our own to discuss it together. After that he and I grew very close – but that’s for another time.

After I was told that, many other events and actions built upon the idea that I was not worth the trouble, the dedication, or even the effort to stick around with. There were a few examples to the contrary as well, but the bad usually feels like it outweighs the good. My ex leaving me was one more nail in the coffin.

I’m now embracing two ideas.

  1. Anyone who has left, did so because it was time. Whether I was able to identify it as being time for that person to move on from me is beside the point. It happened at the right moment and at the right time.
  2. I am worthy of being around. I know that I am because as I go through old journals and old writings of mine from years ago to now, I see that I’m not a horrible person. I don’t chase people away, but instead I help them move forward on their journey.

I have a deeper feeling there is more to learn in relation to these ideas and in working through my fear of loss, but this is a good start in my opinion. That’s the crux of self-transformation though, all you can do is start then follow the path, just like you do with your own spiritual path.

map.jpegFor myself, I believe it is up to us to follow our own path. To see where it leads you and follow along for the ride. I also believe the Lord and Lady are there beside me to give me nudges in the right direction if I stray too far off. In the grand scheme of our lives, the path we take from our birth until our death is a series of little adventures along the way. Some you can control, some you are dragged down. In either case, as long as we learn something about ourselves in the end, I think all these small adventures are worth the time it takes to travel it.

A bit of faith

If you are also starting down a new path of self-transformation, or even if you’re beginning for the first time, a piece of advice if I may. Trust in the journey; learning about who you are and where to go is only part of it. It’s more about going through the effort, taking the time needed to have that better relationship with yourself.

Many have been calling it a ‘Me-rriage’ as in being married to yourself. A fine idea, and definitely one I can get behind, but I’m starting to wonder if that isn’t going deep enough into what we need to do. Instead, I’m starting to think that perhaps we need to develop an internal faith practice with ourselves.

I mean, we raise our voices, our eyes, our hearts, to a greater power in the universe but somehow forget ourselves. What if, just for argument sake, forget the idea of marrying ourselves and instead afford ourselves the same honor and loving thoughts we give to the divine in our lives? Perhaps it’s a crazy idea, but I think I’ll give it a shot, see how it turns out…

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