Shine

21 Jun Shine-1000-WM

To be yourself
in a world that is constantly trying
to make you something else
is the greatest accomplishment.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

One of the hardest things to do if you grew up in an enmeshed family is be yourself. Sometimes it seems like everybody is working against you – the parents, the relatives, the teachers, the Christians and everyone who feels a need to tell you how to live your life. Opinions are abundant, but true God-given advice is in short supply. The truth is unless you learn to follow your own true North and listen to the voice of God’s Spirit inside of you, you will never be able to shine.

Be yourself. Above all, let who you are, what you are, what you believe shine through every sentence you write, every piece you finish. -John Jakes

Be yourself. Above all, let who you are, what you are, what you believe shine through every sentence you write, every piece you finish. -John Jakes

Here are five tips on how to shine—

1. Be Yourself
Ask God to show you who you are and ask Him to reveal what you can do to. Keep in mind God doesn’t make our choices —He gives us many opportunities and we get to choose.

2. Practice Good Boundaries
Boundaries reveal the lines drawn between you and other people. This is important because the only way we can truly shine is to separate ourselves from other people. This does not require being divided from other people, but knowing where we begin and others end. Sometimes we grow up in a family where others try to foist their ideas on us. Boundaries help us define who we are.

3. Explore What Makes You Come Alive
Is it music, art, dancing, writing or maybe even care-taking. Whatever makes you feel alive and gives you satisfaction.  Whatever puts a spring in your step and a song in your heart—that’s a clue it might be your calling.

4. Ignore the Critics
There will always be people who think you should do something different than you’re already doing. Some people want us to fit into their dreams and their schemes, but God has called us to be ourselves not extensions of our parents or teachers. Once you know what motivates you, it is time to let go of what the critics say.

5. Live Wholeheartedly
God has not asked us to live mediocre lives. God has not asked us to live out our parents’ dreams. God has not asked us to do servile work that doesn’t bring joy to our hearts. God has called us to serve in love and to do what we love—but only once we put these two together are we able to truly shine.

The place God calls you to is the place
where your deep gladness
and the world’s deep hunger meet.
-Frederick Buechner

What Happens in Childhood, Never Stays in Childhood

18 Jun Little-Red-Brave-WM

Becoming brave is a lifelong process. When a child is beaten until they have bruises, it’s hard to be brave. When you’re a teenager and your parents ignore your social and emotional needs, it leaves bruises on your heart. Even as adults, we often suffer from the pain of our past because unless we have processed what happened, the past continues to affect our future. The other day I heard someone say we don’t need to remember our childhood, but the truth is what happens in childhood, never stays in childhood.

My friend Darcy was beaten and belittled as a child. By the time Darcy grew up, she had very little self-esteem. Her first boyfriend turned out to be a womanizer and a drunk. One night he grabbed her hair and beat her face into the floorboard until both of her eyes were so swollen she could barely see out of them.

Even after this happened, Darcy saw no reason to report him or to leave him. Like the frog that had adjusted to cool water until it began to boil, she had begun to accept physical and verbal abuse at an early age and she was unable to recognize her situation for what it was.

Little-Red-Brave-WM

In Christian circles we often hear a saying “forgive and forget.” People who use this term are quick to point out how Jesus told us to forgive seventy times seven. This is true, but Jesus never told us to go back and ask for more abuse. What these people also forget is Jesus never told us to forget. If we really want to know what God’s word is on forgetting, then we need to go all the way back to creation.

The Bible says by the Word of the Lord were the heavens made and this includes in all creation—even the human body. A major part of the human body is the brain. When God’s Word spoke at creation, He gave us a brain to remember the past. This shows us that remembering is absolutely God ordained.

Forgiving brings healing, but so does remembering. As a matter of fact, we actually we need to remember before we can forgive in the first place. This doesn’t mean we should hold grudges, keep petty lists or sulk over the past, but remembering the past is a key to finding redemption for our suffering.

Consider someone who has amnesia and wakes up every day to burn their hand on the stove again because they can’t remember they burned their hand yesterday. This would not be a very healthy situation. This is why God gave us a brain–it is not His plan for us to allow ourselves to be abused over and over again.

Darcy accepted abuse she didn’t deserve. The abuse we experience in childhood can affect what we put up with in our relationships in adulthood, so it’s very important for us to learn from these lessons. To be brave as an adult might include remembering our childhood so we can build a healthier future. You might think it doesn’t matter, but what happens in childhood, never stays in childhood.

Forgive Your Self This Father’s Day

14 Jun

Note: If you have a great relationship with your father, you can skip over this post. I am writing this for the people who wish they had a father who cares.

A lot of people on the survivor forums are struggling this week because they feel guilty for not sending a Father’s Day card, but I don’t believe such a formality can fix a relationship that resembles a black hole. Most ACoNs* are empathetic and a narcissist by the very definition is not other-centered enough to care what their hurting children think.

Every relationship is a two way street and if your father abandoned you physically as a child or emotionally as an adult, you should not feel guilty when he puts nothing into the relationship. Loving fathers take an interest in their adult children’s lives.

When Zoe discovered her father had nothing to say to her unless she continued the narcissistic feed to do his bidding and to give him money, she was heartbroken. She loved her father and she had often imagined he loved her, but the truth was in his actions. He lied about her, manipulated her and talked about her to the rest of the family. If he was not her father, she would have run the other way years ago.

photo (20)

God never intended for us to grovel for love from our parents. God’s plan was for parents to represent God’s other centered love to their children instead of ruling over them with a belt or mind control. God designed parents to provide and nurture children until they grow up. Then the plan was for them to have an adult relationship of mutual respect. Most narcissistic parents cannot make this transition and continue to see their children (and their children’s resources) as things to control.

So if your father isn’t speaking to you because you told the truth, if your father lies about you to the rest of the family, if your father still manipulates you into his schemes or shuns you completely, please do yourself and your father a favor by NOT sending a card.

To refuse to send a card doesn’t mean you don’t forgive him. To not send a card doesn’t mean you don’t care. To not send a card doesn’t mean you have given up on the relationship. It simply means you are no longer playing a game of charades with your father. To send a card is to play a game of pretend and it’s time to stop pretending like the relationship is okay when it’s not. It is only by addressing the truth that you and your father can be set free to have a healthy relationship–if that is even possible.

Chances are, he will go on doing what he has always done and you will learn to let go of needing what he can’t give. When you realize this relationship should be going both ways, you can relax and stop feeling guilty for not trying to meet his needs for once.

PS We can still forgive them even when they won’t say sorry.

*ACoN-Adult Children of Narcissists

I’ve posted this song the other day, but in case you missed it and you find yourself wishing for a father who cares, there is always hope in God.

You Are His Daughter

11 Jun

There is a reason Molly Kate Kestner’s song “His Daughter” went viral, there are many hurting people who missed having a loving father.

For all the girls who hid behind the wall or ran to the shed to avoid the belt. For all the girls whose fathers said they were too chubby. For all the girls whose fathers abandoned them either physically or emotionally. For all the daughters whose fathers lied to them and about them. For all the daughters who wish they had a dad who loves them and cares about what is happening in their life. For every girl, grown up and still in need of a Daddy. Abba Father hears your cries. You are his daughter.

Listen, daughter, and pay careful attention:
Forget your people and your father’s house.
Let the king be enthralled by your beauty;
honor him, for he is your Lord.
Psalm 45:10,11

 

Peace On Earth Every Day

11 Jun

Another shooting at another school. Yawn. So sad the evening news, but did you even notice? Well someone did because their child did not come home. Our hearts break to see this turn of events in our society. Since Sandy Hook there have been 74 school shootings across the nation.

People keep saying “Guns don’t kill people, people do.” This is actually a very lame phrase. It reminds me of the phrase abusers use when they don’t want to own their abuse, so they blame it on the victims. In this case we all need to take responsibility to do all we can to stop the violence. And sadly, some of the victims are the shooters.

When young boys see adults on Face Book and in their homes celebrating a new weapon, it looks exciting to them. They play video games where they shoot and who doesn’t want to live out their fantasies in real life? The problem with adolescent violence is the young brain is not developed and maybe doesn’t even realize what they are doing when they decide to get even with someone and then kill themselves. If they were more mature, they might find another way.

 

 I do not want the peace which passeth understanding, I want the understanding which bringeth peace. -Helen Keller

I do not want the peace which passeth understanding, I want the understanding which bringeth peace. -Helen Keller

 

The reason adults showing their weapons on Facebook is in such bad taste is because of a biblical principle–by beholding we become changed. The young boy who stares at gun pictures of cool adults he admires or respects will dream of being like you and when he imagines you with a semi-automatic weapon, he wants one too.

Add to that a moment of despair or depression or inability to get along with other kids. All some kids need are a few triggers to grab whatever is available to make their point–a point many might have made in a different manner if guns were not available in their home and held up as objects of worship in our country. You can say what you want, but 11,000 Americans are still killed every year in firearm homicides.

If you are a Christian, please consider the life, words and example of Jesus. One thing that I have noticed is those who want to stand up for their rights are not interested in peace. They simply want to argue their rights. I am not asking you to give up your rights, I am asking you to be responsible in the way you represent those rights to young people.

And in the Spirit of Jesus, let’s pray for peace on earth. Jesus taught us to pray for His will to be done on Earth as it is in heaven. We might not be able to protect everyone, but we can pray for our schools, our cities and our nation.

Let there be peace on Earth and let it begin with me.

 

Map of School Shootings Nationwide

Little Red Survivor Art Week One

7 Jun

For this Art 101 challenge, I’m taking heart from a story I read in The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. There were two groups of potters who did an experiment. One group spent hours trying to do the most quality work they could do. The other group ignored the quality and turned out vessel after vessel. When all was said and done, the group of potters who ignored quality actually turned out higher quality vessels.

This is why I have decided it doesn’t matter if I make crap art one day–or even several days, because sooner or later I believe I will make something of quality. So far my favorite piece of art in this first week has a deep sentimental value to me but I am not sure anyone else in the world except my husband will agree. You certainly won’t find it hanging in the Louvre, but love is inspirational and love doesn’t care what the critics think.

So for day one I did a concept that I have thought about many times. Any one who grew up jumping through hoops to please someone will understand this one.

photo (20)

Day One

So for day two I had a concept of a series I would like to do for my website of Little Red with different mantras or words that bring healing or reminders for survivors. I started out on day two and three making a type of art that was okay but not exactly what I wanted. Here are the next two days.

photo (23)
Day Two

 

photo (22)

 Day Three

While this concept was still inspiring me, I felt it looked a lot like a Disney cartoon and although I like the fairy tale theme, I was not satisfied with the style. Then I saw an artist who is very skilled and asked her what she used for some texture. It was very kind of Lucy Brydon to share her secret with me. (Thank you, Lucy!)

So on day three I set about to make some texture and give my Little Red a more mature look. Here are the next three days.

When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.  ~Maya Angelou

When people show you who they are, believe them the first time. ~Maya Angelou


Day Four

Sing-1000
Day Five

 

Little-Red-Breathe-1000

Day Six

 

And now this last one is my favorite. It is my Maine Coon Mix named The Kitteh Cosette that we got from the Humane Society. She is the sweetest and busiest cat I have ever owned and I that is saying a lot because I am a life long cat owner. If I had a muse it would be her. She sits beside me and pats my arm as if to say, “You’re doing good, keep it up.”

Kitteh-Coon-1000

So that’s the end of week one. Seven days out of 101. I am not tired of painting yet, as a matter of fact I am just warming up. I hope the other artists in Art 101 are enjoying this as much as I am.

Thank you for checking in and have a good week.

Cherilyn

Trust Your Gut

4 Jun

Before we learned to stuff our pain and hide our fears, we were in touch with our feelings. We knew when we didn’t want to eat something or when we were full and so we didn’t eat it. We knew when a grown up made us feel creepy or scared and we ran. We knew when grownups were lying and other kids were playing unfair. We once knew right from wrong–not only as a principle, but as a feeling when things were right or wrong.

When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.  ~Maya Angelou

When people show you who they are, believe them the first time. ~Maya Angelou

 

It’s true we couldn’t see everything or understand calculus, but we had a gut instinct. We knew it felt yucky to lie and we knew we didn’t want to hurt another person. And just as we knew all people are equal and should be treated fairly, we also knew what we liked to do–before it was ridiculed or beaten out of us. We loved to get lost in a swamp or a book. We wanted to do nice things for other people and animals. And most of us liked to swing and sing and draw and color.

If we could erase all the shame and expectations put on us, we might actually reach our goals. But somewhere along the way, our dreams got lost because we were told what to think and how to act. Somewhere we knew it was okay to clap and sway to music until someone came along in church and told us to sit on our hands. We knew it was okay to make mistakes in drawing, until someone said it had to be better, so we gave up.

So here’s a goal for the week–Trust your gut instinct. If you feel full, stop eating. If you feel like dancing, dance. If your gut says do not trust a stranger, then get the heck out of there. And if your heart says God must not be very nice if He barbecues people, then follow your heart and dig deep and discover what a loving Father actually looks like.

Here’s to listening to the gut, living authentically, making more art from the heart and worrying less about what other people think.

Little Red Survivor Art

3 Jun

For the next several months I have accepted an art challenge to make 101 pieces of art in 101 days and that is how Little Red Survivor Art was born. Because of this I have rearranged this site and put more focus on the subject of my heart–encouraging people who are hurting from narcissistic parents and spiritual abuse. Naturally, this means my art will probably be growing in that direction as well. I find comfort in these words-

The place God calls you to
is the place where your deep gladness
and the world’s deep hunger meet.
-Frederick Buechner

Even though I am deeply inspired, I’ll admit I am both excited and terrified by this commitment. Here is my permission slip with my intentions.

photo (10)

At the end of the 101 days I should know if I like doing art or I am just going to be a writer. I really have no idea where this will end up. So I wish all the other artists luck and I look forward to seeing what others are creating each day.

One thing that was missing from the childhood of many Adult Children Survivors was play. Sometimes this was because their parents did not appreciate their art or music or writing and mostly used their children to do housework or cooking. Or perhaps they were too caught up in their own crises to nurture art or music in their children.

One thing that threw me off was how my mom wanted the entire house to be clean before I did any projects. The chances of that were so slim that it rarely happened. You might note my intentions in the permission slip above that I have given myself permission to not have a perfect house. This will be really hard for me to do.

While I am painting, I don’t expect my art to look like the masters. I simply play with the materials. I find it very soothing to do art as a therapy. It allows my little girl to do what she wants instead of worrying about adult issues. If you are curious about trying your hand at art, I heartily recommend it.

Maybe you are an artist or writer, or maybe you are still unsure of what you want to do with your life. If that is the case, don’t be discouraged. Many Adult Children were sabotaged by growing up with parents who put themselves first, so you might find it difficult to figure out what you were created to do. We are the adults now and we get to do whatever we want. Perhaps this is an awakening time for you, take some time to write down the things that inspire you and pray about it.

Tell me, what is it you plan to do 
with your one wild and precious life? 
-Mary Oliver

Never Alone

30 May

Here is a story from my family tree which reveals two things–parents have been misusing their power over their children for generations and despite parental abandonment, God never leaves us.

Through the centuries, St. Paul’s Cathedral has hosted many of England’s majestic events. These include the wedding of Princess Diana and Queen Elizabeth’s eightieth birthday, but in 1883, just fourteen years before Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, another event not nearly so well-known took place inside its magnificent Baroque walls. The compassionate God who foresaw Diana’s marriage of pain, stooped especially close to listen as a young man was about to be ordained in the spring of 1883.

Safe-at-Sea

This young man was my great, great, grandfather, Arthur Herbert Mellish. He was educated for the ministry in the Anglican Church. His father was in banking and he and his many siblings had been born abroad in exotic ports. Many of his family members were present to see him ordained. During his ordination service in St. Pauls Cathedral –he was asked if he had any questions and Arthur said, “yes.” He asked why have we done the things we ought not, and have not done the things we ought to do?” He continued, “Why do we not change, and do the things we ought to do? Why do we keep Sunday, when the Bible says to keep the Seventh-day holy?”

Well that was enough to stop his ordination. The family was so humiliated and disgraced that his father came to his room that night and gave him a one way ticket to America on the ship “Baltic.”

I can’t imagine why fathers shun their children who don’t agree with their theology, but one thing always rings true, God never leaves us. Disowned by his family and exiled to America in April of 1883, at the age of twenty-one, Arthur was heartbroken and alone and he never went back home to England.

In America—he found room and board by working on a farm. There was a family who lived across the road who had a daughter Arthur found attractive. Her name was Sedora. As he got to know her, he discovered Sedora’s family had recently had a visitor who was selling books and every time the peddler tried to leave their farm, he grew dizzy and fell down and had to stay longer. During his illness, he felt well enough to teach them about the Bible Sabbath. Arthur had never heard of a Seventh-day Adventist before, but he was about to marry one and become one himself.

Arthur and Sedora fell in love, married and had children. Their son was John Edward Mellish who became a semi-famous astronomer and discovered the craters on Mars. My grandma was his child and their granddaughter. Her favorite place to spend the Sabbath was in their home. Every sunset at Friday was a special time because it signaled the beginning of the Sabbath when all their work was set aside much like a holiday to spend time with each other and God. They never lost their joy of the Sabbath and passed it on to my Grandma, who passed it on to me.

God-stories like this found in the family tree give me reassurance that God sees all and He never leaves us. Many of us might feel abandoned by our parents at times, but we are never abandoned by God. That old sea serpent the Leviathan might even stir up the waters around us, but like Job, we can always rely on God to make things right in the end. If you are feeling alone tonight, rest in Jesus and let Him lead your ship to a safer port. Peace, be still.

RIP Maya Angelou

28 May

It is a sad day for the world. We have lost the laughter of a one of the most healing souls of the last two centuries. Maya Angelou has passed away. I’ll admit I shed some tears. And why would a white girl who lived such a sheltered life she barely knew a black woman until she was grown, weep at the death of a stranger? Although I’ve never met her, Maya did not seem like a stranger to me.

Her empathy, compassion and common sense transcended all barriers of race, politics and wealth. She could put someone in their place as easily as she could comfort them for their pain. She was an honest seeker of truth. She is known for her beautiful poetry, but she didn’t speak for the first few years of her life. She had to overcome being mute to give herself a voice.

She has been my favorite mentor and “shero” and somehow I always felt the world would be okay as long as Maya Angelou was still alive. Like many people, I’ve read her books and followed her interviews with Oprah since I first heard her name over twenty years ago.

Seeker

It was Maya Angelou who taught me–

“When we know better, we do better.”

“People will forget what you said,
people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

In her book, “Letter to My Daughter” in which she claims to have daughters of all colors, she taught us,

”You may not control all the events that happen to you,
but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”

There is a little known story about her grandson being kidnapped by his mother and separated from his father for four years. Maya would not rest until she brought her grandson home and forgave his mother too—as only Maya could do. (I added a link to the story for anyone who is interested.*)

Maya taught us what it is to forgive, but to never forget. Her words empowered many of us to find our voices and tell our stories.

“I deal very little in facts, facts can obscure the truth,
you can tell so many facts you never get to the truth,
you can tell the places where, the people who,
the times when, the reasons why,
and never get to the human truth
which is love and pain and loss and triumph.”

I especially enjoyed Maya when she was on Super Soul Sunday talking about God.

“There is no place where God is not.
If you are in prison,
in a brutal relationship or lonely, God is there.”

Her faith in God was constant and a testimony in a day and age when many do not believe. Not only did Maya believe but she lived to meet her Maker–

“In all the institutions I try to be present and
accountable for all I do and leave undone.
I know that eventually I shall have to be present
and accountable in the presence of God.
I do not wish to be found wanting.”

Another favorite quote—

“Never whine.
Whining lets a brute know
that a victim is in the neighborhood.”

Maya certainly had a lot to whine about if she had chosen that route. Her mother was not good with little children so she left her with her grandmother, Maya was molested as a child, pregnant as a teenager and when her friend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered on her fortieth birthday, she refused to celebrate her birthday for years. Yes, Maya grew up in a harsh world, but she was determined to make it a better world and she did.

RIP Peace Maya Angelou, you have enriched our lives and we will never forget you!

Finding her voice:

Love liberates:

*Story of Maya Angelou’s search for her grandson

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 736 other followers

%d bloggers like this: