Tag Archives: healing

Life, Therapy, and Owning Your Sh*t

*I feel it’s only fair to warn you that the following contains a bit of profanity. I would apologize for that, but in the spirit of “Myrtle”, I don’t feel an apology is necessary.¬†ūüôā

10429266_778373725578078_3388048229115365384_n¬†Own your shit. Three little words that hold more power than¬†I could’ve ever imagined.

The above picture is “Myrtle”. Myrtle owns her own shit.¬†Can I just tell you how much I love her?¬† I happened¬†upon Myrtle last week and haven’t been able to get her out of my mind. I love what she represents. Strength, courage,¬†wisdom, sass,¬†and a no nonsense, badass attitude. You go girl. ¬†¬†It took me alot of years to find my “inner Myrtle”, so to speak. ¬†Carrie Hilgert, Artist , is the creator of Myrtle, and I find¬†them (both Carrie and Myrtle!)¬†to be amazing.

“Myrtle is a badass. Obviously. I mean, just look at her. She doesn‚Äôt even own a shirt, much less wear one. She doesn‚Äôt give two fucks what you think about that either. And she‚Äôs not overly concerned what you think about her using the word fuck. Because Myrtle is smart. She lives her life for herself. She loves hard and true but has no time for people‚Äôs nonsense. Get on board or get out. Once, she worked at a 50‚Äôs themed diner and dreamed of walking on the beach at sunset to feel the peace there. She finally did that and now she‚Äôs busy making her dreams come true and owning her life.¬†“–Carrie Hilgert

It’s taken me MANY years to get to this point, where I can finally say that yes, I own my shit. Years of digging deep, letting myself feel things that I had locked away, hoping to never let resurface. I guess that was just my way of coping (or not coping) with situations I experienced through my life. Put the crap I didn’t know how to deal with in the box (in my head), lock that box and throw away the damn key. End of story. Proceed with life.

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Newsflash, friends:¬† You can only get away with that for so long, until the denial and the pretending catch up to you. And let me tell you—it can be a real train wreck.¬† I guess you could say that my box became so full of crap that it finally exploded. And as you can imagine, all of those things that I didn’t want to think about, admit, or cope with were just having their way with my thoughts and emotions. I was a mess.

I now know that there are millions of people that experience those same things at one time or another in their life, but at the time, I felt incredibly alone and vulnerable. Desperate.

I distinctly recall calling my sister at 3am and just crying. Uncontrollably crying. I didn’t know what I was feeling, or what was going on with me, but I felt like I was drowning. I remember saying that to her, that I felt like I was drowning and that I just wanted to crawl into a dark hole and sleep forever.

I wasn’t the type of person that wanted to admit that I had demons inside that I needed to put a name to. I didn’t want to accept them, own them, or work through them. I thought they made me appear weak. I worried that I would be judged. I was ashamed of them and afraid of them. But when you find yourself at a point where you can’t make sense of the chaos and struggle, you know it’s time to do something about it. When I called my sister, we prayed. I will forever be grateful for the peace that I would get from that. I know that it was a defining moment. The moment when I began to know my shit, deal with my shit, and own my shit.

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Because, let’s be honest, until you know what your shit is, you can’t own it. I started seeing a therapist, who helped me sort all of those demons out and put a name to them, so I could call them out. (Heads up to any of you out there worried that someone may find out¬†that you go to a “shrink” or think that you’re crazy— It’s time to get over it. You ARE crazy; we ALL are in some way or other. ¬†Admitting that you could use some help figuring your shit out is a sign of strength. And it’s the hip thing to do. All the cool kids are doing it.) ūüôā

Therapy for me, was like having someone crack the code to a mystery that I didn’t even know I had within me. Here’s a¬†small sample¬†of what I came to know and understand about myself. Obviously I’m greatly simplifying this, but I think¬†you’ll get the gist of it…

My dad was in¬†a fatal coal mining accident when I was 11. My mom, the most loving woman I’ve ever known, was dealing with the sudden tragic loss of her husband, after already having to cope with the death of two sons earlier in her life. I can’t even imagine what she was going through, but part of her coping was to be on the go a lot, and as a result, I found myself alone much of the time. I had anger for having lost not only him,¬†but her, as well, in a lot of ways. Then, as a young adult, I lost my mom to cancer. And as time went on, and I encountered struggles in my life, I was devastated that she wasn’t there for me, to give me advice,¬†or make me feel safe. ¬†I was angry, and felt like the people I loved the most, that I needed, weren’t there for me. Well, hello there, Abandonment. And then I felt bad for being angry. Hello there, Guilt.

I was married to an alcoholic. Years of me making excuses for him, covering up his drinking, giving ultimatums that I never followed through on, and being made to feel like a “second choice” after alcohol, took its toll on me. I had delved into the role of his co-dependent in order to keep our family together, and I¬†must say that I did a bang up job for many years. ¬†But eventually I couldn’t keep up with it any longer.¬†I snapped. I had finally been pushed to the brink and I “checked out”. It was an unconscious way of protecting myself from dealing with it anymore. Living through having someone you love hurt you over and over again, breaking promises, lying, and choosing alcohol over you and your children time and again—it wore me down and I couldn’t do it anymore. I was all¬†alone anyway, in all reality. The person that was supposed to love and take care of me wasn’t there.¬† Hello there Anger and Resentment, hello again Abandonment. Hello there Guilt.

I’m sure you get the picture, friends.¬†I have no doubt¬†there are plenty of you that can relate to some of that, and more. I¬† had a lot of shit to name, understand, and own.

Don’t cry for me, Argentina. I’m good. Really, I am. Way better than I was before I could make sense of it. I mean look at me. I’m strong, independent, and a badass, even.

Okay, badass might be stretching it just a little bit. I’m not quite sure I’m a badass. ¬†But¬†I’ve got so much Myrtle in me now that I can tell you these things about myself without shame,¬†¬†when at one point I was¬†so ashamed of it that I could barely admit it to myself.

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Cheers, and I urge you to find your own inner Myrtle!

Jill ‚̧

The Gift

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Once upon a time, about 27¬†¬†years ago, I had this friend….

We worked together for a couple of years or so, and shared one of those “office BFF” relationships. We hit it off immediately when we met. Even though we spent very little time together outside of work hours, the 40 hours each week we DID spend together¬†forged a deep friendship.¬†¬†We spent every day sharing stories of our lives– listening, giving advice, laughing. I remember us laughing ALOT. She was one of the happiest, most uplifting people I had ever met. Bubbly, funny, constantly smiling. She was, in every sense of the word, a truly beautiful person both inside and out. I’m sure you all have met someone in your life that you connected with like that. You felt like a better person simply by knowing them.

Then, as it does, life happened. We each went our separate ways…marrying, moving away to other states and onto other jobs or the next stage in our lives.

Now remember, this was “pre-internet”, friends. No Googling or Facebooking. No cell phones or Twitter. I realize that some of you youngsters may find it hard to imagine a world like that, but believe it. Sadly, we lost touch with each other, and I hadn’t seen or heard from her in all these years.

Then, just recently, it happened.

I sat down at my computer, and saw I had a message. I clicked on it and saw¬†her name. There was a last name that¬†was new, of course, but it was definitely her. My¬†special friend from so long ago.¬† It brought so much joy to reconnect with her after all these years, and even though she lives out of state and we haven’t been able to get together yet, I know that when we do, it will be like we were together just yesterday.

The other day she asked me for my address, saying she had something she wanted to send me.  I never really gave it much thought, and actually forgot about it.

Today, in¬†my mailbox, I found one of those yellow cards that says “item too large for box”. As I was pulling it out, I began to panic a little, knowing that I hadn’t ordered anything…and my first thought was “Oh my gosh, what did Gino buy? I am going to strangle him if he ordered something online….”. And in my own defense, I have every right to question that, because this IS the kid that charged over $400 to my debit card while buying “power up bundles” in the Angry Bird game on his iPad. Lucky for him, he was in the clear this time.

The postmaster handed me a large cardboard box with Priority Mail stickers on it¬†, and then I saw the return address, It was from¬†her, my friend. ¬†I was totally puzzled. So this is why she wanted my address. I figured maybe I’d get a card or something from her…but a rather large cardboard box? So of course, I opened it, and there was this:

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Well, I sat there in stunned silence for a few moments. And then I just started crying. Okay, bawling is probably a better description of it. It wasn’t pretty. And it lasted a while. I’m not sure why…I guess just the sheer surprise of the gift, from someone so special, after all these years….it touched me more than I can explain. And when I told her how special it was, but also too extravagant and I couldn’t accept it, she said she knew I loved this bag and had come across it, and knew it was meant to be that I have it. And then she told me this:

“I¬†cannot tell you how blessed I am in my life right now, Jill. It’s meaningless and no fun if you cannot share with others…”

And she is so right, isn’t she? Her words really hit me, and I kept thinking about them, over and over. They stirred a part of me that I had¬†buried this past year. Even though I didn’t consciously do it, I had let the realities of some difficult life situations take over. When I did that, I allowed some¬†blessings¬†that I was hoping to share with others, be derailed.¬†Early in 2014, I had come up with an idea to¬†start a non-profit organization that helps mothers battling cancer, by setting up a network of providers who volunteer to give free care to¬†her children during doctors appointments, chemo treatments, or simply during times of needed rest.

When we found out that my sister had cancer, I had just been laying the groundwork for the non-profit, meetings had been set up with lawyers and other professionals that would be giving their input, and there had been brainstorming sessions going on. Feedback from other organizations and medical facilities about their excitement to be able to extend this service to families in need was thrilling. I knew that a lot of lives will be touched by it and I was anxious to get things rolling. But with the news of her being sick, and knowing that the months ahead would be physically and mentally challenging, everything was put on hold.

Months later, after my sister passed away, there was still a lot of emotional baggage to sift through, not to mention that I was doing major purging of my household and personal belongings to get prepared to move this past month,¬†and trying to get settled. I will admit now that I was struggling in many ways, even though I tried my best to hide it. Stretched too thin would be a good way to describe how I felt.¬†I think for a lot of that time I was on “autopilot”. I took the idea of “one day at a time” to a new level. Of course¬†I made sure the kids were cared for, went to work, did all the typical “mom” stuff. But it was with a survival mode type of mentality. I had lost that part that was so passionate about giving and wanting to help. I rarely gave the non-profit a thought during that time.

I’m sure¬†my friend¬†didn’t realize that her gift to me would be much more profound than simply a fabulous bag from my favorite designer. Being the kind, generous soul that she is, she sent that to me out of love and kindness, to bring me happiness…sharing her blessings, and expecting nothing in return.

Her gift, and words, brought that part of me back to life that I had buried for a while. I was¬†reminded of how meaningless life’s blessing are if we don’t share them. And in that moment, I could feel that part of me come alive again.

THAT is the power that giving and receiving holds.

Perhaps in receiving we heal others, and in giving we heal ourselves.

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I’m now anxious to pick up where we left off with the non-profit. It’s a slow process, time and resources are limited, but I have faith that it will come to fruition¬†and I will see my plans turn into action in helping others.

Who knew that fab Michael Kors bag could bring about all of this, right?

Cheers, and don’t forget to share your blessings,

Jill ‚̧