Fitting Into Yourself

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Photo Courtesy of Lorena Gonzalez

We watch people go for their dreams and think to ourselves, I’d be too afraid to take that leap.

Fear has an amazing way of keeping so many of us stuck in relationships we don’t like, in cities we want to move away from, in jobs we can’t stand, not having conversations that need to be spoken, and ultimately not living the lives that we would like to live.

If I am honest, the truth is that there are many things that I would like to do that I am too afraid venture out into.

Don’t get me wrong, personally I’ve dared to take leaps on more than one occasion and each time I landed in financial ruin and left my loved ones scratching their heads trying to figure out my brand of crazy.

As a 35-year-old single mother it is not socially acceptable for me to take career risks that would be acceptable of a young single 18-year-old man.

For some reason it is more acceptable for young people to want to find themselves but if a forty-five year old man who is a husband and father of two wakes up one day and decides he wants to quit his job and sell everything he owns and has his family travel the world most people would call him crazy.

People who don’t want to work a nine to five, for forty hours a week at a job that doesn’t fulfill them are deemed by many as lazy.

Most of us never stop to think about why we get up everyday and go to a place that we hate.

Who decided that was to be our source of income and why did we accept it as truth?

It’s deemed easier to get up and work a job you hate for income, than it is to search for your purpose and earn an income from your talent to the world.

Far too many of us accept it as truth that it isn’t possible to have a job you love that pays well.

When people say they want to start writing books, start growing a crop for sell, painting, singing, designing clothing, opening their own exercise gym or anything that takes them out of the traditional nine to five they are deemed as abnormal.

We even scoff and say things like “you must have money to make money”.

Some of even take steps to make sure they know there isn’t enough resources, and that they can never do it.

Many of us our quick to recommend they take a “normal job”.

But there was a time when people had a craft of their own and a trade of their own that they brought to the table and that was a “normal job”.

They did more than file documents or sell products that most people don’t need or work in a system that ties their hands from doing a job the way they feel that they should do it.

Many of us dream of being entrepreneurs but we are afraid of not having a regular paycheck.

Our fear of not having money is used as a way of keeping us on the treadmill of the nine to five workforce because we don’t know how we will earn money if we dare to start our journey and be a trailblazer into uncharted territory.

Most learning institutions teach us how to work for someone else, not how to work for ourselves.

So week after week, we go to a job we don’t like and many of us go there for income that doesn’t cover our bills and moreover we go into debt, all out of fear.

We think anyone who is making it big must have done something illegal, immoral or unethical to get there.

Because here we are working 40 hours a week and all we got was a dollar raise.

When our friends try to start a small business of their own many of us don’t support them.

We are afraid to trust them with our money so we give it to the “professionals”. Better to lose our money to a big conglomerate than to invest it in someone we know personally.

In America the number of people with degrees surpasses the number of positions that require a degree and no one wants to talk about it.

Because we were told by universities who were in the business of selling us a degree that we need a degree in order to make it and now when their isn’t enough fruit in the way of jobs we are still telling our kids to go to university to get the degree so that they can at least have a chance at being underemployed.

Don’t get me wrong I’m not opposed to higher learning, nor am I opposed to working a traditional nine to five. However, I do think we should question why we judge people who choose to live their dreams instead of living their the way society tells them they should and not because they want to.

Some people are happy working a nine to five for someone else and there is nothing wrong with that.

But then there are other people who want to have their own construction company even if it means they have to work 70 hours a week to do it and to that I say they are not wrong for that either.

I posit many of us have been conditioned to believe that living out our dreams is for someone else, but not ourselves. We have been ingrained to believe this so much so, that when someone we know personally tries to break out of that mold they make us uncomfortable.

This is because the people who we know personally are most like us. And if they can make it then what is keeping us from doing the same?

Sadly, dream crushing has become so normal it’s hard to share a dream out loud.

Voiced dreams are often met with great resistance. Share a dream and the naysayers will swiftly speak up and smack it down.

I have seen firsthand where adults go into elementary schools and tell kids they should give up their dreams of making it big and have more conventional dreams.

We steal dreams from youth because we have been conditioned to believe that dreams are for the Bill Gates of the world, but not for us.

But dream crushing doesn’t stop in the workforce.

Additionally, we are afraid of being alone so we settle in unloving relationships. Many people are convinced to stay in painful relationships because “a good partner is hard to find”.

The idea of someone choosing to either be in a healthy relationship or no relationship at all is strange to many people.

Far too many people think that surely a man or woman must have something wrong with them if they love themselves enough to only tolerate a healthy partnership.

And another crippling fear that keeps us from our dreams is that many of us stay in a place we don’t like because we are so afraid that if we move that perhaps we won’t like the new place.

Ultimately, we stay in the known we don’t like out of fear of the unknown.

There are people who have never left their hometowns out of fear.

Their only point of reference to the outer world is the stereotypical depictions they see portrayed by the media.

And thus we live our lives afraid to quit our job and start our own business because we might go broke, all while disregarding the fact that everyday that we go to work we feel broken.

We are afraid to tell our kids its okay to want to be an author or a painter because we’ve been told those jobs don’t pay much money.

Sadly, I think many of us secretly hope the people in our lives fail when they try to buck the system and do what makes them happy.

I think that many of us hope they fail because deep down we know that if they succeed, it means that the only thing that keeps us from our happiness is our fear of failure. And if they can make it that means that we could have made it and our unhappiness is self-made.

If our friend loses the weight by persistently making healthy choices and we didn’t it means it was possible for us to lose the weight also, and thus perhaps the excuses we have been spouting aren’t valid.

We secretly want them to fail so we can keep lying to ourselves and remain uncomfortably uncomfortable.

When our friends business starts turning a profit we put a fake smile on our face while secretly wondering “how can someone do what makes their soul happy and succeed while everyone else plays by the rules and works at a job they hate”.

It really sticks in our craw for someone to start a small business and succeed when we tried selling Mary Kay that one time and no one in our family would even place an order.

But what we don’t see is the times when that person sleep on their friends couch or in their car in an attempt to fulfill their dreams.

We don’t see the times they bathed in the bathroom of a gas station.

We don’t see when no one would help them because they felt they should have known better than to quit that job.

We don’t see all the times they were rejected, their silent hustle, their tears, the times they doubted and their sweat.

Those people earned their success, they worked for it.

They believed in their dreams enough to walk them out while everyone else laid in the bed only dreaming.

For some reason we don’t cheer until they make it big, but even then as I previously mentioned we secretly resent them for showing us that if only we had toiled to break free the way they did we too could be in a position that we love also.

If only we weren’t too afraid to sell everything and move to Africa like our soul told us to.

If only we had the strength to leave that abusive relationship with the knowledge that we don’t have a wide variety of job skills and may not be able to afford to make ends meet without the help of our partner.

And if only we weren’t afraid to keep trying to make a business work even if it meant we saw it go down in flames.

It would be nice if society applauded those who march by the beat of a different drummer. But in our world most of us possess the herd mentality. We don’t like to think outside of societal traditions, instead we do what we believe most people do and never question why any of us are doing it.

Anyone who goes outside of the norm and chooses to do what makes them comfortable often makes us uncomfortable.

How dare they act on their dream of moving to the country and owning a farm and not eating food grown commercially!

No one else is doing it!

Most of us do not live in a society where being an individual is cheered upon, therefore for many of us individuality isn’t easy. But I say be an individual any way.

The majority of parents hope that their children will be normal and fit in with everyone else. I hope my kids fit in to themselves.

Love,

 

Renata Nicole

© Renata Pittman Smith and RenataNicole, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Renata Pittman Smith and RenataNicole with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

 

 

Carving out a New Path

Codependency is an issue that I touched on in my last blog entry. I addressed it because it is something that I have to make a conscious effort not to engage in.17834260_10209006013656514_7043623376537728994_o

Engaging in codependent relationships has been my modus operandi since childhood.  However, as documented by my blog, over the years I have made great strides to step away from that behavior.

However, it is still something that I have to make a conscious effort not to be.

I tend to be drawn to people who simply drain the life out of me.

For some reason I have this notion in my head (which I am working earnestly to let go of) that love equals over-giving.

Logically, I know better. But subconsciously there is just something about a needy person that makes me think that I can save them from themselves and then in doing so I will be loved by them.

Uh no!

It never works out that way.

Instead I over-give, they lose respect for me, they never reciprocate and I come up empty and feeling unloved.

Common sense tells us that’s not how love works.

And until I fully embrace that truth, I will find myself going on a merry-go-round of codependent relationships.

The thought pattern that love involves me neglecting myself has left me feeling betrayed and empty on several occasions

However, each time the truth is that I chose to over give, I chose to make myself small so someone else could become big.

I do not blame the other person for my behavior and decisions.

I take full responsibility for my poor life choices.

I did those things because deep down a part of me felt like I didn’t deserve to do for me, to choose me, or even to be loved by me.

I would turn the blind eye to the red flags that a relationship was unhealthy because those red flags also served as signals that the person I was interacting with was the perfect partner to allow me to act out my childhood hurt.

In order for me to move from finding myself in codependent relationships and into a healthy interdependent relationship I have to find the strength to continue my self-love journey.

What’s interesting is that I still recall the first time I realized I was a codependent. A coworker recommended Melody Beattie’s book Codependent No More to me. I wasn’t exactly sure what a codependent was but after I ordered the book and started reading through the pages I not only knew, I self-identified.

You see, I remember exactly where I was the moment the light bulb went off. I was sitting with my legs crossed like a pretzel at the head of the left side of my mother’s bed with that book in open in my hands.

And although it took me a moment to accept and process my truth, ultimately I knew I was reading about myself.

I have come a long way since the first time I cracked the pages of that book. But after finding myself in yet another codependent relationship I have decided to reopen the book and also other resources to effectively work on those deep childhood wounds.

According to BPD Family “Codependent relationships are where one person supports or enables another person’s addiction, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, or under-achievement. Among the core characteristics of codependency the most common is excessive reliance on other people for approval and identity”.

What I find interesting about this definition is that it expands beyond saying that codependent relationships involve a codependent and a narcissist and/or addict.

I think that unfortunately many people overuse the label narcissist as a blanket label for someone that they may simply find dissatisfaction with.

I firmly believe that the overuse of the word narcissism has muddied the waters on what a true narcissist is. For this reason I will not dive into a discussion on a definition of narcissism but if you want more information on the topic you can click here.

However, what I do want to discuss is the role I have played in relationships as the codependent.

Codependents and their partners are like two sides of the same coin. They are a perfect match for one another.

But why?

Addicts, narcissist, those with poor mental health are the perfect match for people who yearn to feel needed and loved by others because neither one of them truly love themselves.

Since neither individual has a healthy relationship with themselves they are perfectly capable of having an unhealthy dance with one another that works to continue the pain that they call love.

Anyone who has followed my blog for any length of time will not be surprised to know that I follow the theory that unhealthy relationship stems from unhealed childhood wounds.

Many people try to seek outside of themselves in order to try to meet their self-love deficit but that action will only end to more pain and hurt.

In an attempt to build healthier relationships I have studied codependency and in trying to gain a better understanding of codependency I have found Melody Beattie to be right when she said “there are as many definitions of codependency as there are experiences that represent it”.

However, while I have sifted through quite a variety of definitions one that truly struck a chord with me was that of psychotherapist Ross Rosenberg M.Ed. I believe he hit the nail on the head when he dug deeper and defined codependency as self-love deficit disorder (a problem of the lack of self-love).

Unfortunately, many people such as myself grew up with a false concept of what love is.

I thought love meant over giving and making huge sacrifices to the point of my own suffering.

However, the type of person who would allow me to do that is the same type of person who doesn’t truly love me.

They can’t love me, because they don’t really love themselves.

But I can’t worry about them not loving themselves for that is the very thing that can cause me to stay trapped in that type of unhealthy relationship dynamic.

It is their responsibility to love themselves and my responsibility to love myself.

So I cannot afford to allow myself to be taken for a ride by someone who is trying to drain me emotionally.

My responsibility is to love me.

Being a caregiver is supposed to be a good thing but you need  to make sure that you are giving care to you.

No one who loves you should want to see you bending over backwards to make them happy.

They shouldn’t be belittling you or trying to make you feel small, that’s not love.

And so what am I doing?

Well, I am continuing my self love journey.

I am forgiving myself for relapsing.

And I am still working on those childhood issues that attract me to unhealthy relationship partners.

I am proud of myself for finding the strength to walk away from an unhealthy relationship.

And since I know a younger version of myself would have stuck around longer, without a doubt I am aware of my growth

I would like to be at a place where I don’t even entertain the notion of an unhealthy relationship partner once they show their first red flag and it’s my goal to get there.

And so I hope you are finding your way to or currently are enjoying a healthy and happy relationship with yourself as I continue my path to finding one with myself.

Love,

 

Renata Nicole

© Renata Pittman Smith and RenataNicole, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Renata Pittman Smith and RenataNicole with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Discomfort vs Pain

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For a couple of months now I have been complacent and complaining about issues in my life that were bothering me without taking any action in order to make a change.

Day after day I would pick up the phone and talk to my loved ones complaining about my dissatisfaction with a variety of areas of my life.

And to take it further I found myself becoming physically ill from the environment I was allowing myself to maintain.

I was growing comfortably uncomfortable and settling for things that didn’t make my soul happy. But I thought maybe I just needed to push through. I mean we all face new things that we are not comfortable with. That doesn’t mean we should give up.

Or does it?

I tried not to complain about what I was experiencing because as the saying goes we need to have an attitude of gratitude.

And yet despite my attempt to suppress my dissatisfaction there I was sharing my negativity with others.

For “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks”.

Sadly, I was complacent simply whining to others about my dissatisfaction and watching my energy levels decrease because I was no longer working to fulfill my life purpose.

I have the same 24 hour day as everyone else but for about 2 months now I was consciously choosing not to maximize it.

There I was knowing what I needed to do, but settling for whatever the day brought me.

I mean what happened to me having a plan?

I have made it no secret that I have to actively work not to allow my  eating addiction to shorten my life span.  And yet, I found myself making one poor dietary choice after another.

Also, I have not hidden from anyone that my journey to loving me has had setbacks. However, I figure that is expected to happen because I’m human. But just because setbacks are something that occurs doesn’t mean I should not try to get back on track!

Thankfully, I woke up on Friday and realized that the way I was living wasn’t putting me first.

I was so busy putting the lives of others above my own, out of my own volition and coming up feeling empty.

Why?

Perhaps because it served as a distraction from me putting in the work that would be necessary to get to where I want to go in this life.

And why would I do that?

Because bettering myself is hard work, so convincing myself that being a martyr made me a good person and also served to help me to distract myself from my purpose and fall into my pattern of finding myself in a codependent relationship.

I know that blogging brings me pleasure and yet it’s been months since I have. All because I was choosing to occupy my time trying to make others happy and neglecting myself.

Furthermore, I went from exercising 5 days a week to not exercising at all.

The result – I fell sick twice in less than a month to include a visit to the emergency room (no worries I am okay), I hurt the feelings of a person I love by ending a codependent relationship, I lost focus and ultimately I stop choosing me.

So what’s a girl looking to live life to the fullest to do?

-Get back on track.

I have often wrestled in my mind whether to push through the pain of life and believe for better or to see it as a signal that what we are enduring isn’t for us.

I have come to the conclusion that many of us are unnecessarily accepting devastating pain as normal. Which results in us settling for less than what life has for us.

I arrived at this by coming into remembrance of something I heard over a decade ago. At the time I was listening to physical trainer Jeanette Jenkins speak about pain experienced during physical exercise. She explained that while exercising may bring discomfort, it shouldn’t cause excruciating pain. 

And yet in a period of months my life had gone from being uncomfortable to being painful.

I was so stressed it hurt to turn my neck and yet I continued to ignore my body’s warning signal that the life I was living wasn’t for me.

I decided it was time to accept the pain for the warning signal it was and to start making changes.

And so I started taking steps to maximize those 24 hours I had been wasting away.

This included making better eating choices, exercising, taking my vitamins, being honest with myself that I was being codependent and in turn hurting both myself and the person I was enabling. And as evidenced by this blog entry I started back writing and taking other steps to fulfill my life purpose.

Allowing myself to be engulfed in someone else’s problem in an attempt not to take responsibility for my own isn’t something that is new to me.

I explained in a previous blog that I have used my relationships with other people to distract me from working on me.

Don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with healthy relationships but for some reason when I don’t want to do the work of improving myself I will subconsciously find someone and try to fix their life while neglecting my own.

It never works but it’s a familiar practice.

When I opened my eyes to the fact that I was trying to save someone when I have full awareness that we can only save ourselves, I knew I had to be honest with myself and except that I was going in the wrong direction.

I don’t believe that we are called to forsake our purpose and live in discontent by enabling others.

I also don’t believe we are supposed to settle for a life that doesn’t make us feel fulfilled.

Many of us get up and go to work at a job we don’t enjoy and never question why week after week, month after month and year after year we speed so many hours doing something that doesn’t make us truly happy.

We stay in relationships that we know aren’t helping because we fear being alone otherwise.

We neglect ourselves physically, spiritually, emotionally and mentally and just wait for the sun to go down and come back up again the next day.

And we forsake our childhood hobbies and our deepest dreams and go into doldrums and say, “that’s just the way life is”.

I have decided not to do that and to stop calling pain normal.

I can’t save anyone else, but I can save myself and I hope that you will choose to save yourself.

Love,

Renata Nicole

© Renata Pittman Smith and RenataNicole, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Renata Pittman Smith and RenataNicole with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Blessing of Failure

“Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” – J.K. Rowling

 

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Photo Courtesy of Crystal Thomas Ashford

 

I can attest to the aforementioned quote by J.K. Rowling, that rock bottom is a solid foundation like no other.

Having life strip away everything that is unnecessary and leave you with the bare minimum puts you in a place where you can start afresh far better than you can from any other station in life.

I know without a shadow of a doubt that it wasn’t until life humbled me and allowed me to fail time and time again that I ironically gained traction in my journey on the road to success.

With each loss I discovered unnecessary parts of me that I had not realized were present until they were removed from me.

I had toyed with the idea of being an entrepreneur for several years.

But I was always too afraid to take the risk.

I mean what if I failed?

What would people say?

How would I recover?

So I never did it.

I allowed my fear to prevent me from venturing out on my own.

That was until I decided to do it – afraid.

I decided to invest all I had into myself and my business venture.

So I didn’t talk about my plans with anyone unless they were an expert on the subject. Because, I didn’t want to risk people who lived in fear to sow negative thoughts in my mind or talk me out of it. So I did my research, talked to experts in the field, studied the market and I took the risk.

I pulled all my resources together in attempt to start a business of my own and guess what?

– I failed.

The result of my six month business venture was $58.00 in income which was easily overshadowed by overhead costs. Six months of hard work, six months of trying, six months of being told no, six months of putting more in financially then I ever received out and I was blessed with $58.00.

So with relatively no income outside of child support and three teenage kids looking to me for provision I had a decision to make.

I had to determine how I was going to provide in a job market where I was told I was overqualified. So when I was turned down for the positions that I was fully qualified for, I did the only thing I knew to do. I took three low wage paying part-time jobs and I put them together.

With the help of my friends and family, child support and my three part-time jobs I was able to make ends meet. There were times when I would go to bed at night not knowing how I would provide food for my kids the next day but every single day I woke up and God made provision for us.

I can honestly say I know what it is to trust God for provision of my daily bread.

Prior to that time no one could have told me that I had the physical ability to stand on my feet for 12 hour days.

I suffer from chronic pain that makes it hard for me to go about my day.

But there is something about knowing that I am responsible for three kids that made me push through the pain.

And no one could have told me that I could work 16 hours in a day at two different jobs. Moreover, the concept that I would have to run to the bathroom and vomit due to exhaustion was inconceivable prior to me living that reality. But there is something about knowing that your kids need to have food to eat and not knowing any other way that isn’t illegal , immoral or unethical that some how miraculously gives you the strength to stand.

No one could have told me that I would see all of my needs met in ways that seemed to signal that divine intervention had certainly played a hand in taking care of me, but I lived through it. I have seen things occur in my life that definitely boggle my human mind and I can’t settle with viewing them as simply a small thing, when I know that if the money would have come one day later I would have been in a deeper hole.

Things definitely arrived for me just in the nick of time on more than one occasion.

As I was working part-time I would submit application after application and go on interview after interview just to be told, “no”.

I began to question if I was going the wrong way. I wondered if all the nos where life’s way of telling me to give up.

But I don’t think that was it at all.

The failure of my business, the failure to secure a job that would provide adequate pay, the struggle of working three low paying jobs in an attempt to make ends meet, the feeling I got when all I could afford to give my kids for their birthday was a cake, not being able to afford to provide the life my kids were accustomed to when their father and I were married, were the times that shaped and made me into a stronger version of myself.

Due to my knowledge that I have failed and survived before, I have become brave enough to try again.

I’ve leaped only to hit the ground hard and ultimately learn that while it is indeed very hard that it cannot break me.

So I’ve decided to use the lessons of my failures to help me to take the leap of faith to try again.

Because ironically the greatest lesson that my failure taught me is that I cannot fail.

Even when it seems, I’m going the wrong way I will ultimately end up exactly where I’m supposed to be.

Indeed I am my own limit!

Nothing can come between me and my destiny but me!

I recognize that by taking another leap that I could fall even lower than I did the last time, but whether I fall again or soar, I have decided to leap nonetheless.

I can’t say that I despise failure because I love the lessons she teaches me.

Just because I haven’t mastered how to win doesn’t mean I’m going to stop playing. I’m still in the game all the way up until the time the final buzzer sounds.

The way I see it is that I still have breath in my body and my dream has yet to come into fruition, so that means it’s my responsibility to keep on going.

Am I afraid? – ABSOLUTELY!

But I’ve decided to do it afraid.

I’m reading books on all types of topics to expand my mind. I’m sitting at the feet of people who have gotten to where I want to go and consider myself blessed just to be able to have direct access to them and for their willingness to give me advice. I’m stealing whatever time I can from the act of being lazy and diverting it to the action of honing my craft.

I have a vision in my head of what I will achieve and like a dog with a bone I’m not willing to let it go.

But there are some things that I will let go of.

I will let go of bad habits so new ones can unfold.

I will let go of negative thoughts so new ones can take hold.

I’m allowing myself to be comfortably uncomfortable trying new things.

And the result is that I’m hearing no’s again but I have the courage to keep asking.

I’m being told close but no cigar, so I’m determined to get closer.

I’m having the phone hung up on me, so I keep dialing.

I’ve ended the day without achieving my daily business goals and I used the sting of that failure to light a fire under me to overachieve for the next day.

I look at my check register and wonder do I have what it takes to make it or will I fail like I did the time before. Then I tell myself that my destiny lies beyond those numbers.

I have to tell myself to stop worrying about the people who are betting against me and to remember that what I think of me is all that matters.

I remind myself that as long as I don’t give up that I will achieve the results that I hope to achieve.

I am taking the lessons of my yesterday and I am applying them to my today.

For I have a choice, I can give this my all or I can not do it at all. There is no half stepping, no partial effort, it’s all or nothing and I want it all.

It is possible that I may fall all the way to the bottom. But we already discussed the benefits of being at the bottom at the top of this blog entry.

If I hit rock bottom I’ll still be breathing and that means I’m still in the game.

Yes, when you’re at the bottom people will judge you, but guess what they’ll judge you no matter what your station is in life.

Also you can’t learn how to truly appreciate what you have until you experience not having.

For almost three years I felt like a hamster on a wheel. I was running at top speed exerting a bunch of energy and I never seemed to get any traction.

And now I stand with the glimmer of hope that this time I can make it. I’m gaining ground and I like it.

It is my firm belief that this time I can achieve my goal but I am going to have to put in the work to earn it.

When it comes to our dreams in life no one is going to give us anything we haven’t worked for.

With that said I am going to keep trying to achieve my dreams and keep reaching for my goals.

I’m investing in me.

Before my failure I thought that obstacles were meant to destroy me.

It wasn’t until someone explained to me that life doesn’t put obstacles before us in the hope that we would fail but to the contrary, it does it in the hopes that we will succeed.

Because, much like a trainer sets up exercises for an athlete to enhance their ability, so does life set up exercises to advance us.

Life gives us hindrances and obstacles with the hopes that we will become stronger.

We need that strength for where we are going.

For that reason I am thankful for kids who ask why we live in an apartment when their friends live in a house.

And I give thanks for the guy who told me he didn’t want to continue seeing me because I was struggling financially.

Not because it made me want more money or because I’m some sort of glutton for punishment, but rather because I knew I was trying my best and from those comments I learned that only I know when I am doing my best and even if those I care about see me as a failure I have to know who I am for myself.

I have grown to value the eye rolls, scoffs, rejection and judgment as much as the love, kindness, support and care that I received from those around me.

I tell this story not as someone who has achieved my dream.

No I’m telling my story in the face of everyone and I’m saying it may not happen this year or even this decade but I have a dream in my heart and if I die before it manifests I want the world to know that I died trying.

Far too many of us become paralyzed by our fear of failure. But I’m here to say I failed and yet I am still in the game. I encourage you to try even if it results in failure because failure is indeed it’s own blessing.

© Renata Pittman Smith and RenataNicole, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Renata Pittman Smith and RenataNicole with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

I Sat With Loneliness

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Photo Courtesy of: Jamie Kathleen Haughaboo

I find it interesting the amount of effort that I have put into escaping negative emotions.

Particularly loneliness.

When sadness, loneliness, anger, envy or any other emotion that I equate to being on the negative end of the spectrum arises, I try to quickly find a remedy.

But I have come to find that instead of trying to convince myself that those emotions don’t deserve a place in my life that perhaps I should allow myself to sit with them and explore what they are showing me about myself.

A few years ago I experienced a high volume of loneliness. I decided to embrace it and simply sit there alone, just me, God and no one else and I came out okay.

No, I take that back I came out better than okay. I came out with a new since of understanding of who I am.

But fast forward from a few years ago to a few weeks ago in January and for some reason when loneliness came knocking I wasn’t quite prepared to exercise the knowledge I had gained from my past.

It was as if I didn’t want to try to get to know me better.

There I was trying a vain attempt to run and hide from my own self.

In that attempt, first I tried to deny the emotion.

– Yeah, well as you can imagine that didn’t work out at all.

Then I thought loneliness had shown itself because I was arriving at the one year anniversary of me not dating, so I thought perhaps I was lonely for a romantic relationship, but I knew deep down that wasn’t it.

After that, I decided it was because I was lonely for platonic companionship but, I knew I was kidding myself with that thought as well.

I have an abundance of healthy relationships.

So despite my initial hesitation I did what I knew worked before, I sat with loneliness on and off whenever she came to visit. I didn’t force the emotion to leave I simply sat with her.

I didn’t act on the feeling, I didn’t judge it as right or wrong, I just sat with it.

And while the emotion of loneliness did come back and forth to me in waves, as time marched on, the emotion left.

But she didn’t leave without showing me why she came.

In the past when I experienced loneliness I would try to find someone to hang out with or I’d phone a friend in an attempt to occupy my time and reduce the feeling of loneliness.

It never really worked all that well but it’s what I did.

I thought loneliness meant that I was lonely for attention from another human being.

I somehow equated loneliness for being alone.

But the truth is I interact with human beings daily.

There isn’t a day that I do not hear from a loved one or that my children don’t request my attention.

I thought perhaps I felt lonely because I felt misunderstood.

Because during that time, when I spoke, I felt as though no one understood me.

Then I thought perhaps it isn’t that others don’t understand me, perhaps the real problem was that I didn’t understand me.

I wasn’t confident and secure in who I was.

I wanted to find “my tribe” who understood me quirks and all.

I didn’t realize that I didn’t need a group of people to come along and totally understood me.

Instead I needed to be the majority in my life and affirm that it was okay to be uniquely me.

The loneliness I was experiencing wasn’t from an external factor at all, the loneliness came from me.

I no longer denied the feeling.

I admitted to my inner circle that I felt lonely.

Sometimes I like to deny my truth as if I think it is going to allow me to escape it, but as Carl Jung said “what we resist, persists”.

So somewhere between denial and acceptance, I called my mother and fighting back tears I explained how I was feeling lonely.

And within my explanation I lost the fight and the tears flowed nonetheless.

Thank goodness the dam broke.

There is something about tears that is healing and soothing, they are a therapeutic flow like no other.

Funny how I know deep down that my tears will eventually dry up, but for some reason I always find a way to convince myself that if I start crying that the tears won’t stop and that tears are a mark of weakness.

Thankfully, my heart knows better.

My heart knows it is far better to go with the flow than to deny it’s ability to move.

So what did loneliness teach me during the past visit?

– I learned that I was lonely for time with myself.

How odd is that?

There I was thinking that I needed to occupy my time with more people when really I was craving my own attention.

Over the past few years I really had been neglecting myself.

There were times when I was working 60 to 80 hours a week.

Sometimes I would work 16 hour days which resulted in me becoming so exhausted that I would have to vomit.

In my mind I was working to provide for my family.

And while trying to provide financially for my family is admirable, I was neglecting both them and myself of me.

I wasn’t getting an adequate amount of sleep.

And the family that I was working to provide for was hardly seeing me.

To make matters worse even when they did see me, I was too tired and/or irritable to be a positive contribution to  their lives.

I was out of balance.

I wasn’t eating well because I was struggling to find the time to plan my meals and the notion of a healthy fitness schedule had most certainly fallen by the wayside.

I didn’t want to meditate, and I couldn’t even find the time to do the things I love such as reading, baking and arts and crafts.

But see January didn’t just usher in the feeling of loneliness.

January ushered in a new career opportunity that afforded me the time to do all of the things that I had been neglecting to do.

And yet I was so used to having to work two or three jobs that I was tempted to continue that pattern even though financially I no longer needed to.

I had become so accustomed to struggling that when ease came I didn’t know how to enjoy it.

To be honest, I was quite afraid to.

I had endured so many negative experiences that I was afraid to celebrate the fact that I wasn’t having to struggle any more.

The fear that something bad was going to happen was robbing me from enjoying my present sanctuary.

There I was, so afraid to be happy that I was sitting there paralyzed with fear that surely something negative was lurking around the corner waiting to weigh me down.

But while I sat there alone just me and my emotions I decided it didn’t matter if a valley low experience was lurking around the corner.

Because in the present time I was okay.

Why live in fear that I might have to struggle again when I currently wasn’t?

I was allowing myself to be a prisoner of the pain from my past.

I was so used to pain that when the pain stopped I still thought I was experiencing it.

By allowing myself to experience loneliness I realized that I wasn’t alone for human companionship, I was seeking time with myself and the ability to enjoy my life. I had been neglecting myself and the things that matter most to me and they were hungry for me.

With that said, I don’t feel lonely any more.

Because I started back investing in me.

I started eating a healthy breakfast and brought meditation back into my mix.

I found the time to read again (something I thoroughly enjoy).

I listened to and enjoyed music that soothed my soul.

I took a walk for the sake of leisure and explored nature’s beauty which filled my day.

I sunbathed with my oldest daughter and talked about things that concerned her.

I was catching up with my son who is away at college and enjoying his laugh.

I spent time with my youngest daughter tickling the bottoms of her feet and finding out about her school day.

I called my grandmother who is not in the best of health.

I started having deeper conversations with my mother.

I did things that seem simple, but that working nonstop had made much harder to accomplish.

From bath time with essential oils, to baking my favorite dish – I did it.

I experienced life.

But I also spent time alone just me and the Divine and relished in it.

I realized that feeling loneliness isn’t really as negative as I had allowed myself to believe.

I know because I allowed myself to literally be alone, just sitting there staring into space thinking of nothing and everything all at once, and I realized I was okay.

So I have decided that from here on out whenever loneliness comes to me that I don’t need to deny it. For in my life it is an alert signal that I need to make sure that I am making me a priority in my life.

A few weeks ago, I sat with loneliness and I stood up whole.

Love,

 

Renata Nicole

 

© Renata Pittman Smith and RenataNicole, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Renata Pittman Smith and RenataNicole with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Thanks for the Pain

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Photo Courtesy of Danny Spencer Thomas

I once had someone come into my life and toy with my emotions at a time when I was emotionally fragile.

I think that of all the emotional pain I have ever endured it was by far the one that caused me to grow the most.

The heartbreak came after my divorce and I was pretty vulnerable.

I believe that had I been in a better place emotionally, it wouldn’t have torn my world asunder.

But there is something about being already vulnerable that allows the winds of deception to blow you to a place where your heart just doesn’t think it will ever recover.

When this heartbreak came, I looked inward, outward and all about.

I wanted to blame him, life and anyone who passed by.

But ultimately I had to take responsibility for my role in my story.

I had to take ownership of all the red flags I overlooked.

For it was me pretending that what wasn’t okay, was okay.

It was me turning a blind eye to the obvious.

He is responsible for his actions, but I am responsible for my reactions.

I have to take ownership for ignoring my intuition, for staying when I knew I should leave and for accepting poor behavior.

And I am responsible for something else…

I’m responsible for picking up the pieces and carrying on.

And with that responsibility I looked inward.

I asked myself why I allowed myself to be treated so badly, why I lied to myself and why I was cheating myself out of the love I deserved.

I may never know what caused him to betray me at such a high level. And that is okay. His story is his own. But what I do know is what caused me to betray myself.

I didn’t see myself as worthy or lovable and so I sold myself short.

I settled for lower-level love because I didn’t acknowledge myself for who I truly was.

They tell me that hurting people hurt people.

So based on the depth of the blow I received, that man must have really been hurting.

If the pain he inflicted on me is any measure of the pain he lives with then his pain must be excruciating.

I was so hurt by that heartbreak that at times I believed I would never be able to breathe normal again.

I recall my heart being so shattered that I would often find myself reaching for Tylenol in an attempt to numb the pain.

You see, the emotional pain of that heartbreak managed to manifest itself as physical pain because it was too unbearable for me to process solely on the emotional level.

Thus, I had to relearn how to breathe because my heartache was just that deep.

On even a shallow in breath my heart would ache.

I was literally experiencing chest pains after my heart break.

I remember laying on my couch teaching myself how to breathe through the seconds.

Managing the in breath – out breath process of living through 60 seconds was harder than I care to admit.

But in through the nose out through the mouth I somehow managed.

And from the seconds I learned to breathe through the minutes.

With each breath of wallowing through the minutes, I was some how led to find the strength to crawl through the hours.

And with the shallow pant of each breath I climbed up through the shadow of the days, then with the flow of the outward breath I limped through the weeks and finally I breathed in and breathed out as I walked through the months.

I read self help books, listened to teaching tapes, and I became well acquainted with all the platitudes, but no words eased my soul.

I was in pain.

I wanted to sleep through it, eat through it, go around it, numb it, subside it, ignore it, and suppress it.

But I knew that wasn’t how it works.

And so I went through it.

The hardest part was I had to accept that “the person who broke me, would never be the one to fix me”.

How could he?

Anyone who goes about bringing pain to those who mean them well obviously have something broken on the inside of them that makes their capacity to show up for someone else void.

How could he possibly show up for me when he couldn’t even show up for himself?

People who return love with pain are the type of people who are living with insurmountable pain.

But don’t get me wrong him being in pain doesn’t make his actions okay, nor does it mean that anyone should tolerate his emotional abuse.

But acknowledging that his actions were most likely birthed from pain does help make it easier for me to forgive what happened to me.

I know what it is to lash out on someone I love because I had a bad day at work.

So how much more does a wounded child who goes about masquerading as a grown man inflict pain on the one who dares to care?

His behavior wasn’t right, but I suspect it was rooted in fear and pain.

He couldn’t be a friend to me, because he wasn’t a friend to himself.

He took me for granted because it was granted that I would always be there.

And so I forgive him.

He was my greatest teacher.

He taught me that not loving myself would lead me to a life of pain.

He helped me see that no one was coming to heal me of my emotional wounds or save me from my problems.

It wasn’t until I interacted with him and was knocked down to the ground that I learned that I was going to have to stand on my own two feet.

If I wanted to feel valued, loved, honored, trusted, worthy, respected and appreciated then I was going to have to tap into my own resources and lace up my emotional bootstraps all by myself.

There was no man coming around handing out an external validation badge of honor that would deem me worthy of love.

And helping to bring me to that awareness was the greatest gift he could have ever given me.

He showed me that I have all the power to pick myself up.

I thank him for that spiritual lesson.

They say that as iron sharpens iron one man sharpens another, and he made me sharper than I have ever been.

I would never want to sit in a classroom under his direction again, but I can assure you that I value the lessons I learned from him.

Indeed my most painful life lesson was my biggest blessing.

I have yet to fully recover from that interaction, but I am better Renata because of it.

I think that when you really love someone, you give them a piece of your heart forever.

As weird as this may sound, I have no regrets with sharing a piece of my heart with the person who took my heart for granted because he played a major role in sending me on my self-love journey.

My desire to love myself was birthed from the unbearable pain of being unloved.

Interacting with him made me so uncomfortable that I knew I had to change the way I was living my life.

Without a doubt he taught me to NEVER place something as valuable as my heart in the hands of someone who hasn’t earned it.

And I’m ALWAYS going to love him for that.

He taught me that it’s okay to be vulnerable, but only with someone who has taken the time out to emotionally invest in me.

From him I learned there is a difference between being kind and being foolish.

He showed me that letting someone trample my heart was my way of being unkind to myself and foolish to the world.

My pain isn’t unique.

I’m not the first and I won’t be the last.

My heart now beats with a quiver, but as I previously stated she still beats.

I am thankful for that heartbreak because it made me determined to love me.

He wasn’t the one to heal me, but he was the one to help me find the ultimate path to loving me.

Everyday I fall in love with me a little bit more.

I love my laugh that people say is way too loud.

I love my hair that by some is deemed too coarse or woolly.

I love my size which I used to despise, my skin tone, my blemished skin, my inquisitive mind, my quirks, my crooked teeth, the awkwardness of my gate when I walk, my weaknesses, my strengths, my heart and my soul.

I love myself!

I am learning to be secure in my insecurities and to trust myself.

So can I forgive the man who came into my life after the heartbreak of my divorce and broke my heart further?

Of course I can.

My heartbreak was not his doing alone.

It is me who is responsible for my heart.

I gave him permission to throw my heart on the floor when I didn’t value it enough to keep it out of the hands of the one who hadn’t earned it.

Giving him my heart was the equivalent of giving a toddler fine crystal and then getting mad when they break it and then walk off without even acknowledging what has occurred.

Of course he broke my heart!

People who don’t love themselves don’t know what to do with the love from another. So like fine crystal in the hands of a toddler they are going to let your heart slip.

They don’t know the value of what they have any more than the toddler knows the value of fine crystal.

They do not know how to cradle, care for, polish or maintain it.

They may not intend to drop it, but drop it they will.

Because that’s what people who don’t know what love is do.

They don’t believe that it is real so they treat it like something that is common.

They can’t relate to it so they toss it around like it’s casual.

They may even throw it up against the wall and toss it about on the floor only to trample it in an attempt to test its authenticity.

But at some point we must realize that it isn’t our job to go about teaching grown people how to love us.

No, our job is to love ourselves enough not place our heart into the hands of the people who don’t know how to love in the first place.

I am the gatekeeper to my heart. How dare I let someone trespass and trample about on such sacred ground.

Time and time again I failed at the job of protecting my heart.

It was me who gave the men in my life my heart to break and each time it was me who scraped the pieces up off the floor and began the process of stitching them back together only to yet again place my shattered heart back into the hands of someone who didn’t value it.

Some pieces I will never recover.

But having  a torn heart doesn’t count me out. This battered heart of mine sustains me with a rhythmic beat all her own.

And so yes, I am glad he taught me what love wasn’t.

I now know that I don’t have to chase love because real love is freely given. I know that the person who sees me as low value isn’t the person for me.

I know that if a person’s actions and words don’t match up then that person doesn’t match up with me.

It hurts when you find out that you meant nothing to the person who meant the world to you.

But you can ALWAYS take your heart back!

I decided to love me and nurse my heart back to wholeness.

No one else might value my heart, but I do and that’s what matters!

Some days are better than others.

I think my hardest moments are when my mind flashes back to the pain and I have to remind myself I’m not in those moments any more.

What happened has happened.

I also have to remind myself that my story isn’t unique.

I am not the only one who has known betrayal.

Others before me have had and others will have pain as a bedfellow.

There are the times I have to remind myself that I survived heartbreak before and therefore I can survive it again.

There is a purpose for my pain.

My pain made me so uncomfortable I became determined to change.

For the first time I am experiencing  regular doses of self-love and it feels amazing.

I have been pampering myself and I am making plans to take myself on trips around the world.

I now speak highly of myself and choose not to engage with those who put me down.

I respect myself and call myself beautiful.

I take better care of myself mind, body and soul.

I spend time with myself alone – just me and no one else and I cherish that time and see it as sacred.

I am no longer looking for someone to come into my life and make me feel loved, because I realize that I am the love I am seeking.

If it took massive heartbreak for me to realize that I am the love of my life then I can assure you that despite the pain and the tears I have no regrets.

I previously wished someone would have come along and healed me of my pain, because I thought it would be faster.

I wanted them to come simply because I doubted that I had the capacity to heal my own broken heart.

But I mustered up the strength not to take a short cut.

I decided that I was going to have to heal this heart of mine the long way round.

Diving into another relationship or looking for a rebound has never been my style.

I am glad I took the time out to love on myself because for the first time in my life I understand that it’s okay if I never have a romantic relationship with someone.

Valuing myself is all I need.

I am an amazing woman and I don’t need anyone outside of myself to see that for it to be true.

So yes, I am so thankful for heartbreak, because it made me fall in love with me!

Love,

 

Renata Nicole

© Renata Smith and RenataNicole, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Renata Smith and RenataNicole with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

Let Go of People Who Hold on to Your Past!

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Photo Courtesy of: Linda Pittman

“You must let for to grow.” – Byrd Baggett

When the time comes, how do we go about explaining our past to potential dating partners?

And what do we do about trying to get that “friend”, family member or romantic partner to stop throwing our past in our face?

I say we stop trying to justify ourselves to other people.

Either they accept us for who we are, or we send them love and let them go on their way.

It took me quite some time to arrive at this conclusion.

Because there are most certainly the people who remember me for the person I was in high school and attempt to interact with me as if I am still her.

Then there were the potential dating partners who frowned their nose up at me because I had a child out of wedlock 18 years ago when I was 16 years old.

And furthermore, there are the people who have ridiculed me for a variety of decisions I have made during my past.

So it is no surprise that from time to time I think about how I can best reframe my past and highlight my lessons learned.

But what was surprising was that this time when I was mentally coming up with a new script to justify myself a thought occurred to me….

When it comes to my personal life, not only do I not have to justify my previous actions to people, I also no longer care to personally engage with people who frown upon my past.

My ultimate reason for no longer interacting with people who cast dispersions on me because of who I was isn’t simply because I am making a decision not to be around people who try to make me feel small.

No, I assure you it is goes much deeper than that.

I take the position that we can’t give other people what we do not have for ourselves.

Thus, I have decided to let these people go because I surmise that the type of people who go about judging others based solely on the decisions that the other person made in their past while neglecting to give any credit towards a person’s long held current behavior are the kind of people who have yet to make major transitions in their own lives. And furthermore, if they have made some steps towards the transition, they haven’t completed the process of forgiving their past mistakes.

So, the reason why those people frown their face up at my past, is because there is some aspect of their own life that they frown their face up at.

The reason that they cannot see me as an improved person is because they cannot see themselves as an improved person.

And the reason they keep throwing my past up in my face is because internally they keep throwing their past up in their own face.

It is not possible for them to see me as an improved person when they have yet to make or acknowledge their own improvements.

Now of course I have no evidence that my line of thinking is factual.

But what I do know is that I have decided that people who ridicule me for my past automatically disqualify themselves from being a part of my future.

I want to surround myself with people who have actively done the necessary work to heal their past wounds as much as they know how to.

I want to be in the company of people who have made advancements in becoming their best self and who challenge me to continue to do the same.

This isn’t about thinking that I am better than people that have made no or limited progress or thinking that I am better than people who refuse to let go of their past (I am doing inner work and need improvement myself).

This is about the fact that I have made a decision to keep shedding my old skin and I cannot allow people who are not trying to do the same to keep me from becoming the woman I was born to be.

I fall in love with myself more and more with the passing of each day, and I don’t see any positives to being around people who don’t accept the things that made me who I am and therefore fail to love me as I am.

I am actually thankful for the lessons that I have learned due to my poor professional and financial decisions, my failed relationships and my other life choices.

I have grown so much from who I was and anyone who cannot acknowledge the woman that I am today is someone I don’t care to purposely engage with tomorrow.

I simply will not consciously allow anyone to hold me back.

If this means walking alone then alone I shall go.

People have a right to remember me for who I was, and people are free to judge me as much as they please, but I also have a right to release those people from my circle.

Whenever I decide to date again, I will not allow a potential dating partner to make me feel some type of way about the fact that I am 34 years old and my oldest child is 18. If they find that bothersome then they are not the person for me.

Additionally, I will not have someone constantly throw my past in my face only to find myself continually pleading my case that the event occurred five, ten, fifteen or twenty years ago.

Nope!

If a person cannot see the woman who I am sitting before them then that clearly says more about them than it does about me.

When it comes to my personal life I will not worry about how to highlight my negatives in a positive way so that people will find me more attractive.

Because the truth is, like them I am flawed, I have made mistakes, I have grown from many of them but I can assure you I will make some more.

I, like everyone else am simply doing the best that I know how.

Does this mean I will try to hide my past from people?

-No, of course not.

But what it does mean is that I will not try to justify it.

My past is what helped to shape me into who I am today.

If my past is not palatable and unforgivable to someone then they are not the someone for me.

I understand that to some this may come off as haughty, but it is just where I am at this juncture of my life.

I can say without any fear that anyone who doesn’t like me, is more than welcome to leave me, because at the end of the day I am going to be me.

Ultimately, I cannot live this life for anyone else and I have to stay true to me.

And staying true to me means accepting who I was, embracing who I am and striving towards who I am to become.

People who throw past mistakes in my face are people who could potentially hold me back.

People who judge me for decisions I have made in my past, are people who I am better without.

The question is not “if I am good enough to be in their life”, the question has become “are they good enough to be in mine”.

People who reject me are helping me out tremendously!

I thank them.

For they are flashing lights showing me the direction that I am supposed to go and that direction is most certainly not near them.

I used to wonder how I could get them to see me differently, how I could get them to understand me, and see me for who I am.

Now I couldn’t care less what they think of me.

I am just thankful that they showed me that trying to interact with them would be a waste of my precious time.

It took a long time for me to get it, but thankfully I finally got it!

My time and energy is sacred and I can’t just go off giving it to everyone who comes across my path.

I have spent decades chasing after people who didn’t love me, because I spent decades not loving myself.

I have decided not to do that any longer.

To the people who choose not to forgive their past, it is my sincere hope that one day they break free from that choice.

And to the people who have not grown and learned from their mistakes it is my hope that eventually they will advance in their life journey.

But as for me I am going to be on the next level and I hope that I will see you there as you choose to do the same.

Love,

 

Renata Nicole

© Renata Pittman Smith and RenataNicole, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Renata Pittman Smith and RenataNicole with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.