Unstuck: Choosing to Make Change Work

One of the true strange happenings of life…we learn from each other. Got this email from “Tired,” an eloquent, upfront statement of wanting to let go and finding the hardest person to convince is in the mirror. As usual, I edit to protect private info. She writes…..

“I have been caught up in a perpetual cycle of self flagellation over a man, who has made it abundantly clear (although in mixed signals), that he really has no place for me in his life. The problem is that I am so consumed, actually petrified with fear that I am finding it emotionally impossible to let this man go…I have been in relationships since him, as has he, but I will once in a while throw out a line to see if he will still bite, and most of the time he does, and of course in my twisted little mind, I take this as a morsel of hope.

“I am tired Allison, so very tired of holding on to something that is nothing. I know in my rational mind I have to let him go, for the bazillion obvious reasons, but for some irrational illogical reason, I won’t and I am so very stuck. I feel like I am frozen, and can’t seem to move forward. This is not the woman I was destined to be, I was meant for so much more, so what the hell is wrong with me? “

Coming Unstuck: Change Begins with Choice.

Are you a fan?

Self flagellation, eh? So, first let’s all get on the same page.

I am a fan.

Your fan.

Why?  Did you know that you – yes, I am talking to you, dear reader – are a priceless work of art, a one of a kind original?  You are worth more than you know, more capable than you realize, and not replaceable.

Why then do we beat upon our mental, emotional (and even physical) self? Been there, done that and every once in a while, I still shake my head and think “what in the world were you doing?” Then I forgive myself again and move on. Wasted enough time beating myself up for being human.

Human are mobile creatures.  We humans aren’t supposed to be stuck….oddly, many of us spend lifetimes nailed to one place of misery by our own choice – or lack of making our own choice.

Let’s reframe “tired’s” situation to something we can work through – it’s not hopeless.  Nothing is hopeless, and even our hard times are worthwhile as they teach us lots about life, reality and being a whole, healthy person.  So how is stuck a valuable experience (albeit temporary) that makes life better. When we’re stuck, we’re really and truly stuck, perhaps the universe is attempting to get our attention.

What is stuck?

What does that mean to you?

Have you thought it through?

Let’s take it in sequence of what might give you some peace of mind.

The Great Distraction

When you’re stuck, your attention is probably on something that amounts to a road sign in life.  We aren’t willing to leave our view of the sign….no going forward, really, we must drive in a loop around this sign.  Get the picture?  So, Ms. Tired, let us deal with your road sign.  Yours is this guy.  Maybe another person’s is an addiction to smoking, or an obsession with any outside influence (like shopping).  We’re focusing on our sign so we don’t have to travel the new road.  It makes us feel, that sign.

Dealing with the guy thing here and now. Be brave.

You’re doing this to yourself.

You’re more afraid of moving on to the unknown than the pain of the addiction.

Choose to stop it.

Yes….I actually said “stop it.”  Make the choice for YOU.

What am I Stopping?

When I say ‘stop it’ there is a bit of humor and a whole lot of serious.  I’ve had to do this same thing, so I know how hard what I’m asking you to do is.  I once asked William (my beloved crazy go to guy friend who can build/fix/imagine any mechanical thing) how he ended his marriage of twenty years and put the past behind him without all the mental torture.  He was ripping the engine out of my car a few years back when all this came down – I watched him walk it through, talked to him in his darkest moments.  He said:

“you have to feel it [the pain] when it happens.  Don’t be afraid of feeling it.  It ripped my guts out.  After that, I decided that I was going to stop.  You have to remind yourself when you go back to the pain that you’re done now, and force it from your mind.  Get busy.  Do something.  First, really decide to stop it.”

It was a little anti-climactic for me that he looks me straight in the eyes when I am all up in my emotional strata and says “Stop it.”  In therapy, that really doesn’t work often….but then, it does, too.  My twinness, D, has taken up the banner too…and so have I.  We love each other enough to say

“Stop throwing out the line that drags your personal brand of narcotic back to you.  You’re hurting yourself, and that hurts me.”

Yep, knock it off. Why do I say this? Ms. Tired, it sounds like you’re recreating a cycle of pain because it’s what you know...even if it’s not what you want.  When you stop focusing on the pain, you begin focusing on the self.  Maybe that is the reason that the pain is easier for you – it beats “examining” the deeper issues of why you’re choosing to be stuck.

Mixed signals?  Mmmmmmm.  Not so much.
Come on, girly. Own up.
He’s said “no” enough that you’re pretty sure it’s in there.

This is your choice, staying here, looking at the road sign.  

What is it that you’re really stuck over?

I can dress it up and make it pretty for you, but in the end, you’re going to have to choose not to act by emotions leading you to rivers you’ve already drown in.

🙂 Objectivity and straightforwardness can also suck, but it is at your request and meant with hope and love. 🙂 In turn, I hope that you don’t mind that we’re in the company of lots of people – men and women – who are struggling with the same problem.

For all of us, relationships are not perfect….however, love is love and it doesn’t pull this stuff. The truth is – at least from my vantage point, as I don’t know or own universal truths – that pain is kinda exciting sometimes, it makes us aware that we’re alive, it takes up time and it gives us something to talk about with our friends. We live in a instant serve, fast food world and he’s kinda your hot fudge sundae that makes you sigh and regret at the same time.

So….now that we’ve addressed the “boy” issue, we’re going to focus our sights in the mirror. I’m going to look into my own and see if it helps you…and I hope it does.

Addicted, Crazy Love. 

Truly loving  someone isn’t like being codependent or addicted. Love doesn’t make all your problems go away, or end in pretty pink sunsets. Lots of days are routine and busy, and it’s not anything like a movie. It has it’s moments of extreme beauty, intertwined  between hours of normalcy. Without any warning, I’ll look up from my perch at the end of the sofa to Brian playing with Taryn and the dog, the crackle of the fireplace…or I’ll be talking to D or William, and their totally unconditional love will just take my breath away in it’s utter simplicity….and for a moment, I realize that life is an extraordinary beautiful thing.  No major shifts, no drama and no crescendos that leave everything bleak and dull for days in comparison. Life. Real life.

We all have those moments of extreme attraction and passion that mark the first days/months of a budding romance.  We all wish (kinda) it would last forever – but then, no one would ever gain a pound, go to work, fight over money or have children.  Real life is way more complicated than those whirlwind romance feelings, without all the positive pheromones.  Long term relationships don’t stay in the “dating” or “newlywed” phase forever.

Addictive behaviors develop when the rush of the new is valued over the development of deeper bonds.  Toxic relationships develop from (but not only from) addictions to forcing your mate or yourself to serve a need (addiction) to something that is “not real life,” or developmentally healthy for a relationship  So if we’re being toxic by chasing the bad-for-us-boy or by constantly causing chaos, we’re seeking the stimulation of the moment at the cost of a stable future.  the what could be is sacrificed for the attention (even negative) of the now.

They’re, by design, the way out of dealing with (or living) your real life.

Why do we find ourselves creating or accepting situations that harm us? Keep us “stuck?” This is where I strongly encourage people to seek the help of a local-to-you licensed therapist, a counselor who works in family systems or emotion focused therapy. If that is cost prohibitive, look to see if you have a CACREP accredited Counseling Psychology program at a college near you, look to see if they have a practicum clinic.

Why?

We humans – men and women – learn patterns of emotional development from a really young age. Each of us grew up in an environment, a culture, a society that is in some respects different, some similar. We learned emotional processing and relationships from our parents, peers, siblings, caretakers, etc. Some good, some bad.

In life, we’ll play those patterns out.
Some good.
Some devastating.
Some meaningless.
Some priceless.

For instance, this relationship above that we’re hearing from “Tired” is a “distance/pursue” pattern pretty well documented in therapeutic circles. It’s a psychological need that you have to seek and turn, turn and seek. In reality, you two are playing a game of control – and neither of you have it.

Getting Unstuck.  Starting Where?

When I realized that I was “stuck” I found myself engulfed in pain and pretty literally sitting on the floor crying my guts out. The real problem with “stuckness” turned out to be that I’d given up on my own thoughts, what I had passion for, my very dreams…for someone else’s craziness. Love builds with you into who you want to be, your destino.

Want to come unstuck?

Get out a sheet of clean paper, a pen and write the following.

  1. What goals are you seeking, what mountains loom on your horizon?
  2. Are you actively engaging with who YOU are, or are you defining yourself as so many unhappy females do – by their current relationship? I promise, I included myself in that group for a very long time (even though I wouldn’t admit it and got very angry when people asked.)
  3. What can you do today to make yourself take one small step toward that first, smallest goal?
  4. Can you commit to doing that one thing?
  5. Can you commit to picking another small step on the same goal for the days that it takes to complete it?
  6. Can you reframe your internal dialogue to a positive self outlook, even if it’s one thought at a time?
  7. Can you recognize your accomplishment when you do?

Here is the goal: Where your focus goes, you go. Stop beating yourself up, and focus on the good of being you. Make a difference, beloved. You’re smart, capable and able to do what you focus on – be the dream. go out there and grab life with both hands, whatever that means for you.

The greatest stories sometimes begin in the hardest moments.  There is cause for great hope in your life.  It doesn’t depend on someone else “giving” you happiness.  You … how you feel is your responsibility.

No regrets – they’re worthless. When you start that rumination of old wrongs, clamp down on the mind and refocus to positive, building thoughts of the future. Read something constructive, find mindfulness readings or listening that speaks to you. Be proactive.  Get yourself a qualified therapist to walk along side and commit to leaving the presence of the self destruct loop and the road sign that is consuming your days.

There are the cardinal rules of life to follow: drink clean water, get restive sleep, get out of the house/work and breathe clean air, eat whole foods that occur in nature (not at a fast food place), move your body with some music (exercise) and talk kindly to yourself.  If you’re thinking self harm, seek immediate professional attention.

So, Ms. Tired, I hope that this all helps you.  Here is the last thought….you asked

“What the hell is wrong with me?”

Nothing.

You’re just learning. It’s all about being human.
Now….go live life out loud, with passion and promise.  Go get into the mud of life, get dirty.

Just make sure you remember to look up and smile, and never stop dreaming.

I send you love, light and peace.  Write me anytime.

2 comments for “Unstuck: Choosing to Make Change Work

  1. Kirsty
    December 6, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    Wonderful article. It really does help to read advice from someone who ‘gets it’ and who has been there themselves. I was really, really stuck not too long ago but reading your articles and listening to the advice you gave me after I left you a comment I’m starting to move forwards. Don’t get me wrong, somedays I still cry my eyes out and slip slightly back down the hill but the downs don’t last as long as they used to 🙂

    • December 20, 2012 at 12:30 pm

      Howdy, Kirsty……

      It does get easier with time. If we’re fortunate, the “events” of our life, our stuckness and our freedoms, begin to really gel in our process as learning moments….I know for me this is most important. What was it about this situation that entranced me so, what kept me stuck, why am I feeling a lack or a loss…and is it real? I’m working on that posting today, so keep posted…maybe it will help those hills become more about the beauty of the journey and less about the pain of the occasional downpour. 🙂

      Love to you.

      Alison

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