My life was unmanageable. I married thinking I could improve my life and create a happier family. I found later that the family I created felt familiar. The alcoholism, co-dependency, and mental illness were still very much alive. My life had the same problems that I was trying to escape. If I can transform my life, anyone can.
Growing up I tried to be accepted by my family by earning honors as being valedictorian, recognition when soloing with the Bellingham Symphony, and acknowledgement as an excellent teacher. With my long list of achievements, my family never did praise or congratulate me for all my hard work or completing 7 years of college. In fact, these outer successes did not provide the missing feelings of being fulfilled, loved, and safe.
I had nothing to lose by trying something different. A common explanation of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results. My plan was to create the happy family.. I was tired from my determined efforts. At first, it was difficult to realize that my trying so hard to have a cheerful and positive family was not working. When trying to set the stage for a great outcome and to be safe, things seemed to fall apart. Life did not turn out as I envisioned and tried earnestly to work out. After 30 years in domestic violence, this was not happening
Looking for new answers for life became imperative in my situation. I tried suicide and my husband tried to kill me several times. After years of misery and unhappiness, I finally had to find answers. When it became a matter of life and death, ultimately, I prayed, “God please help me, I really don’t want to die”
I was naïve thinking my prayer would not be answered. My discomfort brought me to a turning point, where I was willing to be open to new ways of thinking and handling my life. In fact, new opportunities came quickly. Promptly, I found myself in counseling, support groups, and classes to help find healthy information for my life. I wanted to be at-ease instead of always in anxiety and fear. I guardedly tried these new ways that appeared seemly out of nowhere. The crisis, chaos, and turmoil in my life were like a hurricane. Moving into the “eye of the hurricane” where there is peace and calmness sounded wonderful to me.
In childhood, my information came from family, friends, and religion. I listened to the doctors and ministers and more problems multiplied. I became addicted from doctors’ prescriptions and my minster thought I should stay in my tormenting marriage. I did not find my answers in reading autobiographies, either. I read every one I could, looking for how famous people arranged their lives.
I was a sponge and followed my parents lead. However, it was not working for me. At that time, I did not understand that people pass down what they learn without question and keep perpetuating what does not work. My family modeled their beliefs and mindset. Learning that I could create my own mindset to overcome my inherited genetics, not volunteer to be a victim, and release all false beliefs brought freedom.
My head was programmed from my parents and societies fears that produced hopelessness and helplessness. I know today, old information and learning usually comes from the left-brain from which the ego sends negative messages. I thoroughly believed those mental comments, as I am not good enough, or that I deserve to be hurt if my mother is hurt every night.Some people describe the ego as “Edging God out”. In addition, reacting was typical as I learned it well. Experiencing and witnessing abusive experiences resulted in my reenacting survival automatically.
My prayer was the first time that I turned to an inner message from my spirit for answers and help. Accessing my inner direction and guidance from my heart was foreign to me. My church preached against meditation and listing to the voice within, therefore it was scary to try this new approach. However, my first prayer brought great results. Trusting to access the right side of the brain as a connection to a loving source that wants goodness for me was novel.
Turning inside for direction was a huge leap in faith. My new life was going to become a walk in faith rather than listening to those around me. I could choose to listen to loving messages instead of my head. I could substitute positive for negative. Gradually, I found relief, moments of serenity, and a beginning to understand myself. I realized that I acted out looking for security and love in my life. Ultimately, I had been trying to compensate for missing support, caring, and affection.
I was taught to use others to make me okay, care for me, and provide my protection. My mother married during the depression. She met my father at a dance. I believe she married him because he had a job, which became her security. I was addicted, called co-dependency, to those people that could not be there for themselves. It was a losing illusion. Learning later that I had to be responsible for my own needs was a new shift in reality, again.
I did not see that my addictions kept me a victim and immature. They actually made my desperation more intense over time. I discovered that addictions support this lack of reality. Drinking, prescriptions, and smoking cigarettes kept me in my fantasy that others were there for me and would take care of me. Addictions stop emotional growth and a connection to a loving higher power. I had not grown up emotionally to take responsibility for my life.
Learning that I can find contentment, happiness, and good health through new attitudes, open-mindedness and honesty, with the willingness to walk a new path of faith was the answer for which I was searching. What harm can a new perspective do? If nothing changes, nothing changes. I could learn to love myself and apply positive thinking in my adventure. I could create a change in my life by being responsible while growing in self-esteem.
This is a sample of a chapter taken from the book Creating Your Life: Mindfulness and Meditation. The chapter is written by Marilyn L. Redmond. Click here to pick up your copy.