This is a great summary. Are you willing to share which of the 4 horsemen you default to?
Lately, I have been on a journey to learn as much as I can about trauma. I recently went through a series on trauma presented by the National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine. It was mind-blowing – and often beyond my brain power – but fantastic nonetheless.
Another topic that interests me is nurturing healthy relationships. Love and belonging are critical to our wholeheartedness – our capacity to deal with the junk that smashes into us on a regular basis.
Anyway, here’s how those two come together. Those who had childhood trauma typically struggle more than others in their romantic relationships. That’s not big news as most of us are aware how our past affects our present. But the key question is why – why does trauma create these difficulties?
Apparently, childhood trauma produces a great deal of self-criticism and it’s the self-criticism that hurts the relationship. To be clear, the studies that have noted this weren’t saying it’s a definitive cause and effect. I’m sure there is more to this story and many subtle differences between people. It’s just a link we need to be aware of.
The good news is, there is help, hope and healing. We can reduce self-criticism and improve our relationships. Talk with a counsellor, check out online resources, pick up a book or two (Dr. Guy Winch’s book “Emotional First Aid” covers this topic fairly well I think.) Explore the options and find what works for you.
Are you overly self-critical? If so, can you see how it’s negatively impacting your relationships? What do you do to reduce self-criticism?
I recently discovered the folks over at Time to Change. They have some excellent videos and resources on mental health. Here’s a few highlights from one of their articles, 5 Simple Ways to Support a Mate with a Mental Health Problem.
Meet for Coffee – “The amazing thing about meeting for a coffee or asking someone if they’d like to drop in for a cup of tea is that you can do it almost anywhere, anytime.” Just being present with a friend who is struggling provides comfort, empathy, and courage to face the world. Remember that it’s important to listen without judgment.
Asking how they are – slowing down long enough to ask how’s it going and then patiently listening opens the door for your mate to open up to you.
Find safe places to talk – “Walking together or sitting driving are both amazing, because the experience of talking to someone whilst you’re side by side can be so much more freeing and less daunting than face to face.”
Post power – If you can’t connect in person, send a letter or a little parcel if you can. It’s retro which is why it’s also meaningful.
Little gestures – you don’t have to be extravagant (I am and it’s a blessing and a curse) but little things can communicate your care and support for your mate.
Check out the whole article for the full story but it all comes down to being mindful of your mates, slowing down to really listen, and just bring present in their life.
How do you support your mates?
Have you ever cheated on your partner? I suspect that when you consider that question, regardless of your answer, you were probably thinking some kind of sex. The Biblical view is cheating begins with lusting for someone. (At this time someone will ask, “Isn’t it okay to lust after my partner?” Desire is healthy and normal. Lust is when you objectify someone and use them in your imagination or real life to satisfy yourself. Do you think it’s okay to lust?) Cheating starts long before you make physical contact.
Recently, I found an article that made this more clear. You can read the whole article, “3 Betrayals That DESTROY Relationships (And Aren’t Infidelity),” but here are the highlights.
Emotional cheating – having a friend that you are close to doesn’t mean you’re cheating. Here’s the test: “Would your partner would be upset by the things you’ve shared or would be uncomfortable watching the interaction?”
Conditional love – “Couples don’t feel supported when one partner keeps a foot out of the relationship… Couples that unconditionally love each other live by the motto, “baby, when you hurt, the world stops and I listen.””
Emotional withdrawal – “Emotional withdrawal can be something big, like choosing a work meeting over a family funeral, or it can be as small as turning away when your partner needs emotional support.”
The good news is, this cheating can be overcome. It will take an honest look at what you are doing in your relationship. Your partner will have to do the same. If cheating exists, it will take commitment, work, and honesty to bring healing into your lives.
As I read the words, my heart was pounding, my ears were burning, my mind was spinning.
Our adopted daughter had asked to come over because she had something to give us. It had been a stressful week for her in the middle of a stressful year, in the middle of a distressed life. After she arrived and settled in, she handed us a letter.
My eyes scanned the pages; I was trying to stay my usual cool and unconventional self while internally feeling totally overwhelmed and inadequate for what was happening. My mouth went dry, my hands tingled, adrenaline was rushing through me.
She had given us her suicide letter.
We thanked her for sharing and then asked what did it mean that she was giving it to us. She said she didn’t need it anymore.
And what did that mean we asked. It felt like we were holding our breath all this time. Scenarios were running through our heads at lightning speed. No shame, no judgment, support, love, safe right now.
She said, “Because I want to live.” And with that declaration, her tears came rushing forward as if a dam was bursting. We just sat with her, cared for her. It’s all we know to do.
That was Spring 2016. Thankfully, as I write this, she is still alive. We count every new day as a victory. The journey isn’t easy, in fact, it’s downright crushing sometimes but she is a warrior.
If you’re reading this, dear Velveteen Rabbit, our hope and prayer with all the love we can send through the distance between us, is that you keep fighting. Remember your supports, ignore the crap that comes your way, and when you relapse – regroup and press forward. Hang on. No matter what, you can survive and thrive.
And when you’re feeling overwhelmed, rest in what you know to be true: you remain, unquestionably lovely, intrinsically love-worthy, and unconditionally loved.
Believe it or not, I used to be a competitive swimmer. I did it for about 2 years. I got my picture in the paper which was cool. I swam a 2 hour, 200 length (5000m), swim-a-thon for some charity and then discovered that people who sponsor kids for events don’t like to pay said kids post event. But I peaked around 10 years of age and moved on to other things, like sleeping in because I didn’t have to go to the pool at 6am. It’s about priorities.
Anyway, one day after swim club, I was in the changing room and a man with a disability approached me. He was difficult to understand but he seemed friendly. He stuck out his hand for what I thought was a handshake. I went to shake his hand and he proceeded to grab my hand and then he started to undo his pants. I was frozen – shocked by what was happening – and then he put my hand on his crotch.
The incident ended in moments. I pulled my hand away, grabbed my stuff and headed for the door. My mom was waiting for me. I told her what happened. She told the staff who promptly took action. I’m grateful for my mom who I could talk to. I’m grateful that I didn’t have to keep it secret due to fear of that man or even fear or shame from my parents.
Even so, I don’t talk about it. This is the first time I’ve written about it. When I remember it, I still feel that sense of being trapped and powerless, I still feel my own shame. I decided to take this journey into my past and to share it here because it has become crystal clear to me that when we are hurt like this (and I recognize my experience was really minor compared to most), silence and shame are just as harmful as the initial abuse. They feed it, let the past hold us captive, prevent us from healing.
I would never say one who has been hurt must speak about it. Each person should be in charge of their own healing journey. I would say, don’t let silence hurt you more than already have been.
I also want you to know I’m listening and I believe you.
I’m a hugger. Been that way for a long time. I’m told I’m good at it (aka encouraging and comforting but not creepy). I always ask. I find non-huggers and side-huggers (side hugs are from satan) to be weirdos. One guy would run out of the room whenever I brought up the subject in our group. Even so, I respect that people have their own ways and so I don’t make a big deal about it.
The other day, a friend sent me this article: How a Lack of Touch is Destroying Men. I was immediately intrigued. From a mental health perspective, I think the author has something important to say because he relates it to isolation. I encourage you to check it out but here’s a little excerpt and then a deep thought.
“In American culture, we believe that men can never be entirely trusted in the realm of the physical… Accordingly, it has become every man’s job to prove they can be trusted, in each and every interaction, day by day and case by case… by foregoing physical touch completely in any context in which even the slightest doubt about our intentions might arise.
And where does this leave men? Physically and emotionally isolated. Cut off from the deeply human physical contact that is proven to reduce stress, encourage self esteem and create community. Instead, we walk in the vast crowds of our cities alone in a desert of disconnection. Starving for physical connection. We crave touch. We are cut off from it. The result is touch isolation.”
The author ends the article with the simple sentence: “Touch is life.”
One of the powerful experiences that the Bible communicates is that Jesus touched people. Sadly, he is often presented stoically, distance, and unapproachable. In The Gospel of Matthew by The Visual Bible, Jesus is portrayed warm and friendly – I believe it’s the most accurate and realistic movie version of Jesus.
In the Good News, there is one time when a leper comes to Jesus and asks if he is willing to heal him. Keep in mind that this person would not have been touched or even treated humanely for a long time. But Jesus is more than willing and he touches the man! To me, this is Jesus not just healing the physical ailment but the heart.
How about you? What role does touch play in your life? Have you figured out touch or are you in isolation?
Just in case you missed it last week, here’s my Fall Fit Challenge Intro.
We always want to get fit for spring or summer or maybe in January when we are deep in shame from the holidays. However, being active is part of overall health and wellness and it’s best as a year round lifestyle. Not only is exercise good for the body, it’s good for the mind, too. Did you know that being active can alleviate depression by up to 30%?
To that end, you are invited to join me on a 12 week, open to anyone, fun for all ages, Fall Fit Challenge starting Sunday, September 3. Each day will consist of a handful of bodyweight only exercises that focus on our large muscles and core and can be done in about 20 minutes. The goal is to be stronger and more fit while increasing stability and flexibility. These exercises will be a good place to start if you’re just beginning or you can add them into your current workout to give you a little boost.
On Saturday, September 2, I will post the Fall Fit Challenge page. My crazy, never tried before by me, idea is I will update the Fall Fit Challenge page as we go. Each day, to the same blog post, I will post the next set of exercises for the next day. So on September 2, I will post the exercises for September 3. Then, on September 3, I’ll post the exercises for September 4, and so on. That way, you don’t need to wait for me to post the latest exercises – you’ll have them and be ready to go at the time that works best for you. The link to the page will stay the same so you can save it and you won’t have to hunt down new pages. Also, my plan is to post the new day’s exercises at the top so you won’t have to scroll through all the previous days to find it.
Why 12 weeks? Don’t these things only last 21 or 30 days? Studies have shown that strength immediately improves once we become active but we don’t normally see any physical changes until 9-12 weeks. So… you’re welcome.
I look forward to your company on this journey and appreciate any comments along the way. Feel free to invite friends and family but don’t shame them if they can’t keep up with your amazing progress.
This will be the link to the page once it publishes: Fall Fit Challenge
Like all otherfitness stuff, make sure you are able to start a beginner to intermediate intensity fitness program. See your doctor if you have any health conditions that could be aggravated, injuries that could be affected, or any medications that may need adjustment. Modify the exercises as needed to ensure they are the correct intensity for you. If at any time you feel sharp pain, experience dizziness or shortness of breath, please stop immediately and get checked out to ensure you’re safe. If you begin to feel sexy and you want to get amorous with your partner, please go ahead in an appropriate manner.
Lately, I’ve been really enjoying a radio program (aka podcast or Apple Music album) called Under the Influence. It’s about marketing and advertising and there are lots of great stories. In the episode, “Brands In Cars Getting Coffee: Sponsorship Marketing” there was a story about the boxing fights between Max Schmeling and Joe Louis.
The story begins with the 1936 boxing match between Max Schmeling and Joe Louis. Even though Louis was considered invincible, Schmeling knocked out Louis in the 12th round. This was at the time Hitler was ramping up Germany for war and Schmeling, from Germany, was made an example of Aryan supremacy. However, Schmeling wasn’t a Nazi and he refused to fire his Jewish manager despite intense pressure.
When it came time for their rematch, tensions were high and it had become more than just a boxing match – it was symbolic of “Germany against America. Nazism against democracy. It was a metaphor for WWII. It was almost as if the fate of the world hung in the balance.”
On the night of June 22nd, 1938, with a packed stadium and millions listening on the radio, the first round bell rang. Louis was devastating in this attack and within 124 seconds, Max Schmeling was defeated! This is a quote from the end of the story:
“In the years after their infamous bout, the tables turned again. A former New York boxing commissioner, turned Coca Cola executive, offered Max Schmeling the post-war Coke franchise in Germany. It would make Schmeling a very rich man.
Champion Joe Louis, on the other hand, slowly went broke. He owed millions to the taxman. His health deteriorated. He was suffering mental issues from the damage he took late in his career. He developed a drug habit.
Through that difficult time, a silent benefactor quietly paid Joe’s medical bills. When Louis died in 1981, the same benefactor paid for Joe’s funeral. That benefactor had underwritten Joe Louis’s final years. He had quietly supported Joe.
That person… was Max Schemling.”
When I heard that story, I thought of Jesus’ love for us. Even though he was the champion, he stepped into this world and was beaten down, bloodied, and killed by those he came to serve and save. And yet, in his defeat he was in victory. Revelation paints a picture of our risen king, returning and laying claim to his dearest treasure – planet earth.
That means we are like Joe Louis. While he had that victory, in reality he was brain damaged, broke, and dying.
This is the beautiful part: Jesus doesn’t forsake us, doesn’t give up on us. He comforts us and takes care of us. He will love us all the way back to his heart.
He is the ultimate benefactor.