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Rising Strong International! cyber-bookclub Ch. 5

Rising Strong International! cyber-bookclub Ch. 5

Chapter Five, Spearheaded by Nancy Glenn

Catch up on the previous chapters here:
Introduction/Chapter 1
Ch. 2
Ch. 3
Ch. 4

Okay! Here we go. Thank you Nancy!

Chapter 5 – The Rumble

Summary and Reflections

“The goal of the rumble is to get honest about stories we are telling ourselves…”.

This chapter captures the premise of the memoir I’m working on. I’ve tentatively titled it “Lost and Found” as it deals with the close to 50 years I spent telling myself a story about my mother that was just plain wrong. In effect, I lost my mother, the relationship I might have had with her, and found her a few years before she died at the age of 91. The story is complex and was built upon a wicked mix of silence and misunderstandings. I will never know the full truth – both parents carried it with them to their graves. Protecting loved ones by denying them the truth was viewed as an act of heroism in their time. Intentions were good. Through a lifetime of rumbling in the weeds, in the muck of half-truths and innuendos, a story emerges that makes sense when viewed through the lens of painstaking puzzle-piecing. Bits of data, bits of conversation, knowledge of historical context, and some well-founded leaps of faith based upon lived experience bring me to a new story, a story of loyalty, dedication, commitment, and sacrifice. I would say this is a story of love. I want to say so and perhaps none of it could have transpired without love. I may leave that to my readers to judge.

There are three key questions that guide us throughout the rumble. I see these as necessary to maintaining focus and pushing us deeper into wisdom and, ultimately, our new, true stories. My goal is to keep these close at hand throughout the writing process to help me to remain open to possibilities. Later, toward the end of the chapter, Dr. Brown adds clarifying questions to help us to explore each question more deeply.

1.    What more do I need to learn and understand about the situation?
2.    What more do I need to learn and understand about other people in the story?
3.    What more do I need to learn and understand about myself?

Robert Burton stresses that our compulsion to create stories compels us to take “incomplete stories and run with them.” Dr. Brown emphasizes that the results “can appear negligible,” but can lead to patterns over time that are destructive to our sense of self-worth and to our relationships. In my lifetime, the repeat of my story about my mother became a self-fulfilling prophecy. It was “easy” to blame my mother, my parents. This was my mantra. I was on automatic pilot with my story. Of course, there was plenty of blame to go around but sticking with my script did nothing to encourage me to step outside of myself, to delve more deeply, to ever question the truth of my so-smart story! It took my reading of Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique to shake me awake, open my eyes to possibilities I hadn’t begun to consider: the context of much of my mother’s life. Revelatory! This kick-started my quest to learn and understand more. If one book could rattle me so, what else was I missing? I felt as if I hadn’t seen the proverbial forest for the trees. What kind of feminist was I after all? Puzzle pieces began to, as if by magic, assemble themselves.

Dr. Brown shares Anne LaMott’s wisdom regarding writing that “SFD.” Spilling our guts on paper, all of it, no polishing. Dr. Brown says “our grown-up selves are good liars. The five-year-old tyrants within us are the ones who can tell it like it is.” I need to just do this. I am so afraid of spilling it all on paper. Better than I used to be but I need practice, practice to really hear my angry, tyrant child!

Dr. Brown provides a set of rumbling topics to prompt our thinking. I plan to keep these close at hand as I write along with my three rumbling questions. Tools for keeping myself honest.

Finally, understanding that the gap between our own stories and the truth is where wisdom and meaning reside crystallizes this chapter for me. This is our rumble, where revolution begins, the path to wholeheartedness.

Up Next: Chapter 6, spearheaded by Maria Rodgers O'Rourke (Maria's first chapter was so short, she's agreed to do a second one! This post will not appear until Thursday December 31. Happy Holidays everyone!)

  • 16 December 2015
  • Author: Tracey Yokas
  • Number of views: 2621
  • Comments: 25
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25 comments on article "Rising Strong International! cyber-bookclub Ch. 5"

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Patricia Young

12/17/2015 12:17 PM

First of all - Nancy - you write beautifully. I found myself reading your summary. Walking away, coming back and taking another sip. Each time finding more and more to savor. I look forward to reading your book. I used to think the saying 'a labor of love' was enough to explain the pain and joy of the process. But in some respects, it is quite different. Writing uncovers more than uncomfortable, or stressful situations. It can tear your arms off your body and beat you with them! Honestly I'm not trying to be funny, but when you go through so much to uncover your history, or someone elses story and find layers of pain, hidden passages, trying to remember this person was a person before they were a parent. So they had fears, hopes, dreams and nightmares too, is vitally important.

When you say that the people of this time also kept silent, as the noble and brave thing to do is spot on. My mother used to often say, "Please, just do this for me. It will make it easier for me." Regarding something my father did, said or wanted that may in our eyes, have been unreasonable, guilt provoked or down right maddening. Later I realized he would take his anger out on her for 'our' disrespectful. Or what he viewed as indiscretions. But he wasn't stupid. He never struck her. She would have left him if he ever hit her. But he would cut her down with his words till she believed she couldn't take a breath without his approval.

The Rumble starts soft and low, then raises to a pitch of a tornado. You can't hear it or yourself - it can be so loud it shakes you to the core and steals your voice if you let it.

The one statement that really resonated for me was on page 96

"I was reminded that shame is a liar and a story-stealer. I have to trust myself and the people I care about more than the gremlins, even if that means risking being hurt."

That is so powerful for me. Especially now - I'm pouring all I have into the novel I am writing. There is no Plan B. My children smile and reassure me and say there is no need for a backup plan. My husband looks at me in love, when I have none for myself, and says he has no doubt. How can I let the doubt/guilt-gremlins in when I have these people behind me? For the first time in my life - I have to , I must believe and trust them more than I was ever willing or able to trust myself.


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Nancy Glenn

12/17/2015 8:41 PM

Patricia, thank you so much for your support - I can't find words to properly express how much it means to me but I think you know. I have to applaud your humor, though. I'm envisioning being beaten with my own arms and somehow the image is hysterical! You do have a gift that I hope you liberally apply in your novel. You mention trying to remember that a person was a person before she was a parent. Not until I found a photo album that my mother had hidden away (purposely?) did I see another person - a beautiful young woman smiling and frolicking on the beach with her many friends, male and female, clearly having the time of their lives. In a state of wonder, I asked her about the album. She smiled knowingly and said, yes, these were her friends from nursing school in the 40s. Pure joy seemed to radiate from her in those photos. Sadly, a joy I had never witnessed. I found that album when Mom was 89 - two years before she died. This was a woman I never knew. I was more determined than ever to know her but, while finding the album should have prompted some revelatory discussion, Mom appeared ruffled and left the room. I had no clue how to penetrate her resolve and so set out to put pieces together the hard way. I so wish my mother had the benefit of Brene Brown to give her the courage to be vulnerable.

You mention the loving support of your husband and children as you undertake your truth-telling. I have that same support from my husband, daughter, and even my grandchildren. It's hard not to "woman up" with such inspiration. It's still a struggle but at least the foundation is solid.


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Tracey Yokas

12/21/2015 8:26 AM

Yes, such an important point of Patty's that you highlight Nancy. Our parents, before they were parents, and what their hopes and dreams and wishes may have entailed versus the reality of their lives. My mother died very unexpectedly in 2012 at a relatively early age. When Bob, her boyfriend, carted her ashes across the country to California from New Jersey so we could have the burial at sea that she requested, he also transported photo albums. Here too, as with you Nancy, were images I'd never seen of my mom which were stories she never told. I was so sad to see them and to wonder why it was that she didn't or couldn't tell these stories to me. There is so much about her that I will never know and will now never have the chance to ask. Such an important reminder to me as I mother my daughter and try to figure out when to tell her my stories--all my stories: the "good, bad, and ugly." Thank you Nancy and Patty!


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Heather Higinbotham

12/20/2015 12:18 PM

Wow, Patricia. My breath caught in my throat as I was reading your post, especially this sentence: "he cut her down with his words till she believed she couldn't take a breath without his approval." That was my life, walking on eggshells to protect myself and anticipate anything that might "cause" an explosion. I believed I was the one causing the tension, if I could just ____ like he wanted me to, it would all be ok. I made up stories that corroborated his stories about me, and I was stuck in such deep shame that it took me years to dig myself out.

Shame IS a liar and a story stealer. You captured it perfectly with "The Rumble starts soft and low, then raises to a pitch of a tornado. You can't hear it or yourself - it can be so loud it shakes you to the core and steals your voice if you let it." I thought I lost my voice, but now I know it was stolen from me. I let it happen, but for a long time I was stuck on it being "my fault". I couldn't hear it or see it happening when I was in it.

I so appreciated the part about our SFDs and not filtering our experiences or worrying about how our stories make us look (or make someone else look). I've been stuck on one of my memoirs about my recovery, because it was so ugly and so

"We can't get to our brave new ending if we start from an inauthentic place." I will hold this close, and just get out that shitty first draft without the fear of what people will think or how much it will piss off one of the main characters in the story. Being curious and open, and not skipping the parts of the story that I don't understand or feel shame around.

Thank you.


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Tracey Yokas

12/21/2015 8:31 AM

Brava Heather. Thank you for sharing this, especially about the tough parts of your story. All of us here who are writing books have struggled with the telling of difficult parts of our story in one way or another and it is liberating to realize that that SFD is ours and ours alone to do with whatever will help us to grow and to heal. But that SFD is such an important step in the Rumble and to writing our own endings! Such an inspiration. Thank you Heather!


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Tracey Yokas

12/21/2015 8:21 AM

Patty- I second Nancy..you are funny! I think I said that already, and you're funny in the best way. I, too, chuckled over the image of my beating myself with my own arms and legs. Honestly, feels like I do that sometimes regardless of whether I'm writing or not! Anyway, thank you as always for sharing your thoughts here. What you say about having your family behind you as the gremlins creep in each day to interrupt you and you're writing process is so beautiful and powerful. Recovery works much this same way. The relationship is penultimate. That one relationship--whichever one it may be--that we want to be better for more than we want to not be better for launches us on that road and keeps us heading in the right direction. I love your ending comment about how these uncomfortable emotions are critical to our stories and how they are what teaches us to be vulnerable and resilient. I so agree with this and you state is so beautifully. thank you!


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Crystal Chin

12/18/2015 10:59 PM

Thank you for your words Nancy. I agree with Patricia above in that you write beautifully and I am now very curious about your memoir! With regard to this chapter, I was able to relate to these stories we tend to make up in our minds. So much of the time we jump to conclusions based on our own insecurities, much like Brené's Lake Travis story. I sometimes have difficulty deciphering between my conclusions and my intuition. How do we know if what we are "making up" isn't really truth trying to surface and teach us something? I think the examples Brené used in this chapter involved people on both sides with ultimately good intentions. Realistically, that isn't always the case. I think that's what makes this entire process so hard. Living in the world that we do, it's so easy to close off and forget how to open to the ones we love most.


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Nancy Glenn

12/19/2015 3:25 PM

Thanks so much, Crystal, for your words of support. The idea that we all do the best that we can is so powerful. While it took so many years to believe it - I heard the theory many years ago and fought it with ferocity! - Once I accepted it as true, I became empowered to open to understanding others. If we believe others have ill intentions then we close the door to hope for seeing their basic, albeit perhaps thwarted by experiences that have traumatized them, goodness and potential. Believing that someone is doing his best motivates me to wonder what are the root causes of his behaviors. This allows me to be gracious (a favorite word), allows me to forgive. It also allows me to walk away if I believe his best is something that is toxic to me and that I have no ability to remedy. All part of the magnificent rumble!


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Crystal Chin

12/19/2015 9:49 PM

That is so very true! Having compassion for others and the origins of their own suffering have definitely helped me along the way. It's the walking away part that I'm still working on! Thanks for your reply:)


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Heather Higinbotham

12/20/2015 12:23 PM

I think the good intentions aspect is one that we often don't understand or believe. I agree that it's hard to believe some people have good intentions, and that there are people that just don't, but in general I try to hold on to the belief that people are inherently good until proven otherwise. One phrase that's really helped me that I learned in al anon is "they are doing the best they can with what they have today" (or turning it to myself that I'm doing the best I can with what I have), and knowing that this is OK.

Like Nancy, once I accepted that this was true, it completely changed my interactions with others. Whereas I used to take everything personally, I now know that when people are showing up not in alignment with their values or integrity, chances are it has nothing to do with me, and it's driven by an underlying hurt or fear or shame that they might not even be aware of. It helps me be gracious (thanks Nancy, I love this word too!), and to be able to interact in a way that is in alignment with myself. As long as I'm owning my part in it and keeping my side of the street clean (showing up with respect and integrity), then I can accept that they are in a place of hurt or fear and show up with compassion rather than resentment or anger.


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Tracey Yokas

12/21/2015 8:44 AM

Yes Heather. Love your point here and Nancy's re: the importance of taking personal responsibility through the interactions with people who haven't yet figured out how to live in alignment with inherent goodness or lovingkindness. I saw this recently written as one word and loved it! It is still hard though, especially if this type of person is one who is in your life on a regular basis. What you both wrote about it was beautiful. Thank you.


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Tracey Yokas

12/21/2015 8:39 AM

You make a great point here Crystal. While others may indeed be doing the best they can--because I do believe this also, deep in my core--that does not mean that they have the best of intentions. You are so right. And that's also a great question you ask...how do we decipher between our conclusions and intuition. Trusting my gut is something I was never that great it. I learned how to pay more attention to what my gut was telling me through the journey with my daughter. I don't have the answer to your question, but it is definitely one I want to ponder because of its importance in my life. And also, how do we continue to grow in that trust of our intuition. Someone on FB shared that little "game" they were doing where you could answer a few questions and get your "word" for 2016. My word was Intuition. While I don't run my life by these games, I was pretty surprised when that word popped up since it is one that I've been working to better figure out. Hopefully, we can work on this together through 2016 and share our learning! Thx Crystal.


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Sue Schwartz

12/19/2015 9:08 PM

Thank you for your reflections on this chapter, Nancy. I, too, am curious about your memoir!

Your reference to losing, then finding, your mother, as well as Patricia's reminder to us that our parents were people before they became parents, causes me to think about the lives my parents had before my brother & I came along. I wonder what it would have been like for my young adult self to have met my mother as a young woman. My first gut feeling is that she & I would have made for better friends than a mother/daughter. So many circumstances are beyond our control. But it feels good to believe my mom and I would have been closer friends in another world...

As for my reflections on Chapter 5, I was struck by what Brene wrote about how our brains like to have a story with an ending, how "we don't need to be accurate, just certain." I like a wrapped up story. I don't like when a movie or book leaves me hanging at the end. I ask "why" a lot because knowing what is, but not why, is often unsettling for me.

I've made up countless stories to reward my brain with a believable ending, whether or not each ending was accurate. I wish I'd learned the concept of the rumble as a child... Oh, the stresses and messes I could have saved myself from! And, there was more joy to be had, if only... But drawing on last week's chapter, my past wasn't wasted, it's part of who I am now. So I look to moving forward with more honesty and courage.


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Tracey Yokas

12/21/2015 8:48 AM

Great points here Sue. I can relate on many levels to what you write about your relationship with your mom, and also what you write about making endings up that aren't right but about which we're certain. I think this was one of my first steps, many many years ago, to waking up. I still do it today, but not as much. I realized all those moons ago, that I had certain opinions and wrote conclusions to stories that I didn't know a damn thing about. Some of these were benign, but some where not. This is dangerous to do and annoying! One day, I realized I'd said something--in a very sure way--about a topic that I knew absolutely nothing about. It struck me in that moment, unlike all the times I'd done it before, that I had no fucking idea what I was talking about. This makes for unfortunate communications! I sure do this less often today than I used to, especially in light of the learning we're doing together here re: Rumbling, but once in a while I'll catch myself and shake my head and remind myself that it's time to start asking questions. Thanks Sue!


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Heather Higinbotham

12/20/2015 12:06 PM

Thank you so much for your sharing here, Nancy! I too can't wait to read your memoir, and especially how it will grow keeping these key questions at hand throughout the process and letting your 5-year old tyrant come out to play.

It's incredible how we can tell ourselves stories for so long, that eventually it's impossible to believe that they couldn't be true. I love your description of "a wicked mix of silence and misunderstandings". I spent many years in a marriage protecting my ex by denying the truth to protect him. I wasn't worried about protecting myself, and the motto "suffer in silence" became my day-to-day life, and I was drowning in misunderstandings because I was trying to make sense of something that doesn't make sense--alcoholism.

I'm working on a lyrical essay right now about how I lost myself, and then found myself again through the awakening of myself after my divorce. The part about taking incomplete stories and running with them, where the results seem negligible but "lead to patterns over time that can be destructive to our self worth" hit home with me big time. Those incomplete stories grow exponentially, but at glacial speed and we can't seen it happening. By the time I realized how damaged I was by the constant emotional and psychological battering, I believed so many of the stories I was being told by my ex. I believed I was selfish, because he had told me that so many times. I believed I was a bad cook, had a terrible sense of direction, and that i had memory problems. At times I didn't believe I had a right to exist in the world. And even today, 7 years after getting divorced, I still find myself going to that default place of self-judgment and self-doubt. But thankfully today I can see it for what it is, an incomplete and inaccurate story I'm telling myself based on misinformation.

This chapter brought up so much for me. Being honest with ourselves about the story we're telling seems obvious, but in reality it's quite rare. We get sucked in to those default emotions, because they're comfortable. Even when they suck, like fear or shame or blame, they're still comfortable. I love where Brene is talking about the moment we find ourselves facedown on the arena floor: "our minds go to work trying to make sense of what's happening. This story is driven by emotion and the immediate need to self-protect, which means it's most likely not accurate, well thought out, or even civil." This was a total aha-moment for me, and I started to think about what my go-to narratives were during my marriage, after my divorce on the rocky path to rediscovering myself, and what they are now that I've discovered how fulfilling it is to show up authentically to my life and to own my story and to sit with my vulnerability to better understand it rather than try to stuff it.

"The most dangerous stories we make up are the narratives that diminish our inherent worthiness." This one sentence sums up the past 7 years of my life. First the process of unbelieving all the false stories I had ingrained, and then the process of learning how to live in a space of inherent worthiness, in everything I do. Where Brene talks about her narrative of not being enough, I still have the photo I took from her creativity class of myself with "I am imperfect. I am enough" written on my hand. That one acceptance changed my ability to show up and engage with life.

I'm still in the process of healing my creativity scars. The paragraphs on creativity were pretty much completely highlighted. When I decided I wanted to show up for my own life and "be seen", I was feeling pretty great about myself until I realized that I was still hanging out in that comfortable backstage space with regard to creativity. I still believed I wasn't creative. And the universe has given me opportunities in spades to step out of my comfort zone and risk being judged with regard to creativity. I'm curious what other opportunities will come up, and I'm loving the rush I get from putting my writing out into the world, reading/performing my poetry in front of people, being on stage with a comedy group, learning improv jazz piano, even being creative with decorating Christmas cookies. I would have said you were crazy 3 years ago if you told me I would be doing any of these things.

"Just because someone failed to see the value in what we can create or achieve doesn't change its worth OR OURS."

Thanks for the discussion, so much insight here! <3


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Tracey Yokas

12/21/2015 8:59 AM

Thank you for your beautiful and eloquent comment here Heather. And for sharing your story. My husband has been sober now for 8 years, but I can sooo relate to much of what you write about here. It's an incredibly difficult thing, to live in any way, in the throws of addiction, even if we're not the one technically addicted. It's like an addiction, the way we start to think and act, how we in change in the course of those unhealthy day to day interactions, how they consume us even if we aren't the one consuming (so to speak). The more we think it, the more we "need" it, the more we think it. Although, thank god, awakening is like a freight train, isn't it? When we start to awaken, then we want more and more of that feeling of being awake, of being our own author, of being in charge of our life. I was struck by all the same parts you were and I thank you for sharing so well and so clearly and so honestly. Thank you!


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Heather Higinbotham

12/20/2015 2:03 PM

Hi again, I wanted to share a few things about Chapter 4, but the week got away from me. Tracey encouraged me to post it in this week so you don't have to go back to the previous week.

One of the most powerful parts of this chapter for me was in the opening paragraph: "The only decision we get to make is what role we'll play in our own lives: Do we want to write the story or do we want to hand that power over to someone else? Choosing to write our own story means getting uncomfortable; it's choosing courage over comfort."

She goes on to talk about dead reckoning, and how we can't chart a new course until we know where we are. It took me a long time to make sense of where I was, how I got there, and to even give myself permission to ask if I wanted to do things differently. I never realized that I wasn't writing my own story. I just thought that's how life went, and that it was my duty to be a people pleaser, I wasn't creative, whatever it was that was holding me back was a given and who was I to change it?

I really resonated with the fact that many of us are not taught how to sit with uncomfortable feelings, but we're constantly told we should "just be happy". Stuff those feelings, move on to something uplifting. But those strong emotions, the anger and the sadness and the confusion and the hurt only intensify the longer we ignore them, and eventually turn into resentment and walls. There's a great saying in al anon: Resentments are like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. They are damaging to us not only emotionally but physically as well.

Additionally, these strong yet uncomfortable emotions are a critically important part of my story, and played an integral role in teaching me how to be vulnerable and resilient in the same breath. I loved the idea of integrating, and how when we shut those parts of ourselves off, we cannot be whole.

Sorry I didn't post this last week! Just wanted to share those thoughts.

<3


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Tracey Yokas

12/21/2015 8:52 AM

Thank you for these thoughts Heather! Love them...and I sure am glad you're now writing your own story both literally and figuratively. I can't wait to read your books and to watch your business continue to grow!


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Tracey Yokas

12/21/2015 9:16 AM

Thank you so much Nancy for your insightful post! And you're writing is so beautiful. I can't wait to read your mom-oir. (See what I did there, haha) What a fascinating story, and that's from the tidbits you've shared here. I, too, was struck by your words, "wicked mix of silence and misunderstanding" WOW. I mentioned last week that my circumstances were completely different, yet identical in regard to what you write here. The work--to untangle those misunderstandings and to break the silence--seems to be a never ending process, at least for me. It's something I have to remind myself of still all the time.

This just hit me right now, too, the idea not only of when WE'RE trying to write a new ending, but how about when someone close to us is, too. I'm thinking about how years and years worth of ingrained messages may be inside of us. I'll write for myself here, but I consider myself as someone who is awake but still has a long way to go on this path. That being said, I still fall victim to those ingrained patterns of interacting that are inside me and work to break that cycle. So, I guess I'm trying to say that even when we're doing this for ourselves, it can be hard to maintain when someone in our life is trying to change too. There are many many interactions between me and my husband that I still react to in "the old way." This causes distress between us as I haven't given a single moment of thought to the idea that maybe he's trying to communicate a new message to me, even if he's using "old" words. I'm not at all sure this makes any sense whatsoever. It just struck me that it's hard enough to do this for ourselves let alone if we're also trying to embrace someone else doing the same things. Seems to be these new interactions would also be rife with continued misunderstandings even if both parties are trying to come from a better place!

"I'm not enough" is my go-to narrative when I'm hurt, too. Man, can I relate to what Brene says here. I'm working on it and making progress, but def not there yet.

I also loved this, "To capture these first stories and to learn from them, we need to engage our second integration tool--creativity." I took Brene's art-journaling class like Heather did and it helped to change my life because until that point, I knew I missed having art and creativity in my life in some kind of regular way, but I had no idea why or why it was so important. I think the very first blog post I did I used that picture of me with a post-it in my hand that says, "I'm imperfect and I'm enough." Thinking back to the time I wrote that, when my daughter was in residential treatment, to now when so much has changed and I have so much to be grateful for in our learning and growth--it seems hard to believe. From this vantage point, it's much easier to identify the ways in which I've started to own my story and to become more authentic, but the journey is a long way from over.

I know I write this a lot, but I mean it. Thank you all for sharing your wisdom here so we can continue to learn and grow together and we can write our endings from a place of authenticity.


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Xeno Hemlock

12/21/2015 11:27 AM

Wow, so many insights from above. Love reading them all.

Nancy, can't wait to read your memoir. I'm sure I'll learn a lot from it.

SFD. I'll never forget this acronym.

My rollercoaster ride with Brené had already begun. At one point I was on her side. How dared that icing-wiper be so uncouth! At another, I joined the other side. Diana was right. Ms. Brown was being bitter about small things. Then I moved back to Brené's side again. People are just not doing their best. And then Steve's insight came about. To his side I came running. It was brilliant! Then the acronym SFD appeared. The screws in my head started to unhinge. "I don't remember SFD being mentioned in this book before." I turned back a few pages and a few more. Lo and behold! I was reading Chapter 6 already by mistake.

SFD. I owe a lot to writing, not because it's my dream but because at that time I was in a dark phase, I turned to writing, because I didn't trust any person to confide in, and with it I found heaven. Heaven not in the sense of "everything's peaceful", "nothing's going wrong", or "you're blessed" but because I learned, firsthand, how writing can be so therapeutic. I couldn't share a lot of things to other people, even my friends and family, for various reasons.

But when I wrote in my journals, I let the floodgate be wide open. One thing lead to another. From writing journals I turned to poetry, then to short stories, then to blog rants, and then to articles about topics I didn't care for before. Years ago I'd be saying, "No way in hell I'd write non-fiction or those boring articles. Fiction is where it's all at." Ironically, I think I wrote more non-fiction this year than fiction. Writing didn't just aid in my grieving and sadness but it also taught me a lot, and helped me become someone I didn't imagine myself to be. Up to this day there's still a tiny part of me that cannot believe it. It's one of the marvellous things in life, how we grow and transform in ways we never expect at all.

During my first session with a therapist two years ago, she gave me a brief history lesson that I "already knew". She said during the time of our parents' and grandparents' childhood and young adulthood, it was the end of World War II. All they cared about then was being safe and having food on their table. They didn't have time to TALK. When our parents had us, they didn't know how to TALK because they grew up not knowing how to TALK. Survival was the priority. Today it's different. Food is accessible. Lots of entertainment. No war (in some parts of the world). Survival is not the topmost priority anymore. It became something else.

In a twisted game of time, the younger generation yearned for the emotional needs that the previous generation didn't know how to give (most of them) because they didn't grow up that way. We blamed them, hated them, resented them, and felt they didn't love us. But it was all a confabulation. Parents enrol their kids in good schools, make sure there's plenty of food on the table, take them to travel, buy them gadgets and stuffs. That's love right there. Our parents indeed love us, not in the way we expected them to, but they did.

I still get angry sometimes at my parents for not teaching me the emotional things growing up. If only they taught me how to confront and deal with my emotions, how to be resilient, how to gain more confidence, how to treat other people, how to pursue my passions, and how to set life goals, then I wouldn't have to go through most of my ordeals. From an early age, I would've pursued writing instead of trying to forget about it for a decade. But then I remember the story my therapist told me.

At night, I look at my tired mother sleeping and snoring, tired from her day: doing church activities, cooking, feeding our dogs and cats, watering our plants, baking (her small business on the side), and other motherly things she does which I'm not aware of (because I'm not at home, I'm working). Then I talk to myself, "Why let anger live on? They (my parents; my father works abroad) love you the way they know how."


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Sue Schwartz

12/22/2015 6:37 PM

Great comments, Xeno! Thank you for putting some perspective on why our parents may have parented the way they did. Growing up during the Depression and WWII had to have given my parents a different take on what their parenting responsibilities were, as opposed to what I felt mine were.

Before I had children, I expected to parent in a very different way than my parents did. I had no clue how hard that would be - to give my children what I hadn't yet learned to do myself. I had the desire to help them deal with emotions; I just hadn't understood then that I first needed to help myself.

There's an expression I love, that I learned from a therapist years ago: "You can't give what you didn't get." If our parents were not raised to deal with their emotions in healthy ways, chances were they wouldn't have known how to teach a healthy skill set to us. Our generation said, "We need to deal with emotions better!" One day, over 20 years ago, I had my epiphany. I remember saying to myself, "I'm doing my best, but my best isn't good enough" and I got myself into therapy. I was ready to do the work to become a better parent, a better wife and a more content individual.

And Tracey, yes, we will make some mistakes as parents (because no one is perfect) but I know we are dealing with the psyche better than our parents did. As Xeno pointed out, their goal was to nourish the body; we know we need to nourish the body and the mind. Hopefully, they will improve on what we've given them. Our grandchildren will be very well-adjusted! LOL


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Xeno Hemlock

1/4/2016 10:37 AM

Sue, thank you. That's a lovely store. You are right in the "we can't give what we didn't get". I think it's very brave you went to a therapist. Not everyone has the courage to do something like that.


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Tracey Yokas

12/22/2015 8:27 AM

Lovely post Xeno and so true. My father was a WWII veteran. It wasn't until after he died that I learned he'd been a POW. Only for a short time, but no matter the duration it had to have been a horrible ordeal. My uncle mentioned it in passing one day. I guess he assumed I already knew. My uncle is also a vet- of Vietnam. What I can say for sure with my limited experience of war and veterans (there are many current and former younger vets in my family as well, of more recent conflicts) is that it--meaning war--really fucks up the works. Externally. Internally. But before I get on my soapbox, the point is, I agree with you re: this being something we "know" but not something we "know." When my dad would get very upset about something back when I was a kid, he'd storm out of the house and drive away. That's how he dealt with his emotions and my mom just sort of shut down. When we've grown up in that environment, what choice do we have but to start from scratch in the "learning how to deal with our emotions" department. I agree. Our parents love/loved us in the best way they knew how. Now that some of us are parents, we're doing the same thing and making plenty of mistakes. I just hope I'm not making the exact same ones, or at least that I'm more aware that I'm making them and am trying to correct the course along the way. Thank you for your post Xeno. I'm glad is writing is helping you to grow and learn so much about yourself. Writing is doing that for me too. And--it lead you here so I'm pretty stoked about that!!


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Xeno Hemlock

1/4/2016 10:43 AM

Thank you Tracey! And for sharing that too.

I tell myself often, my parents may not be the ideal parents I want. But that doesn't meant they didn't love me any less. It's a good practice, gives me more patience for them, and be forgiving. And as I said before, I don't want to keep playing the blame game. If the change will happen, it must begin with me :D


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Cheryl

12/23/2015 7:59 AM

Hello All...in Brene's opening paragraph to this chapter, she says "....the goal of the rumble is to get honest about the stories we're making up about our struggles". So, how do I get honest when, as she points out by quoting Robert Burtons work "our brains reward us with dopamine when we recognize and complete patterns.....we don't need to be accurate, just certain". This really spoke to me. Once I receive clarity, and insight about a relationship, I am able to recognize how a large part of my pain was self inflicted by clinging to a story I was certain of. Fortunately, resilience steps in and helps me notice missing pieces of my story.

Brene mentions "we must reclaim the truth about our lovability, divinity, and creativity". I do believe that it is in my personal relationship with the divine that I have grown the most in the past 25 years. I do not mean this in a "church-ey" sense. I mean it in believing in a loving creator who wants me to see truth, understanding, compassion, forgiveness, whether it comes in the form of reading books, this blog, sharing with friends or a counselor, walking in nature, random thoughts that emerge, listening to music, so many different ways that our creator speaks to me.

I also endorse Brene's mention of therapeutic writing to heal by James Pennebaker. You all have a healing leg up on that!

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