Emptiness

This is me since I decided to stay away. Your absence created a giant hole inside of me that can never be replaced. I tried to patch the gap but nothing fits. Only you can fill this special place. I think of you every single second I breathe and it hurts! It hurts not seeing you grow up. It hurts not being part of your life but I’m helpless. The price I have to pay to see you is something I can’t afford. What can I teach you if being with you means I have to give up my self-respect and dignity? How can I be any use to you if holding you in my arms means I have to forget the person that I am and abandon everything I believe in? No, I can’t do that. Not even for you. I cannot compromise my self-respect for love. I have to keep my integrity right down to the end or otherwise what is the use of living? My pride is all I’ve got. I will not surrender my self-worth. Never. So, I will love you from a distance and hope you will have the freedom to grow up to be your true self, not the one society and your upbringing dictates. You will never know how much I long for you but it doesn’t matter because I know. It’s for me enough. Be happy always. Be safe.

You will always be a part of me.


I hope someday you will have a chance to read this and know that I care. In my mind, we share a lot of happy moments. In my dream I watch you grow up to be a beautiful person I know you will one day become. On your first Christmas, I imagined I gave you a little box, a present, and watched how you’ve tried to open it and kissed the smile on your innocent face when you succeeded. I would love to take you everywhere with me and teach you the importance of little things and share with you my love for nature and freedom. I realized it is far-fetched but I imagine we are kindred-spirit. Perhaps you will not even know me but I love you just the same. Fly free and soar high my Oona. You will always be loved.

~ from your eccentric but loving Glam-Ma

10 Ways to Cope With Toxic Family Members

by Grace Furman

We all have family members we butt heads with over our taste in music, life choices, or politics. Typically we choose to put in the required effort to work through the problem or, depending on the issue, just smile politely and let it go.

A toxic relationship, however, is a relationship in which one person is emotionally and possibly physically damaging the other on a consistent basis.

Just because someone is a part of your family does not make this behavior acceptable.

Your top priority must be your own health and emotional well-being. If someone else is jeopardizing those, then you need to make changes to remedy the situation.

So how can you determine whether someone is toxic?

Here are some examples of things that toxic family members might do:

  • Constantly make demeaning comments
  • Be unsupportive of you if it doesn’t benefit them
  • Have an unpredictable and bad temper
  • Take advantage of your time, skills, or money
  • Emotionally manipulate you in order to control your behavior
  • Refuse to take responsibly for their actions
  • Make decisions for you
  • Display a lack of empathy toward others
  • Blame you and others for their own problems
  • Use violence or aggression to get what they want

Clearly, these behaviors create an unhealthy environment and can have many negative effects on your health and well-being.

If your relationship with a family member is toxic, the only thing you can control is your response. You must decide what to do in order to take care of yourself.

Here are 10 ways to cope with toxic family members:

1. Set Boundaries.

Determine what are acceptable and unacceptable ways for you to be treated.

Everyone is worthy of respectful treatment, yourself included. You deserve to be happy, healthy, loved, and safe.

Decide what your specific needs are and how others can or cannot treat you in order to meet those needs. You can then ensure that they will be met by implementing number two below.

2. Stand Up For Yourself.

When toxic family members cross the lines of the boundaries you set, you must stand up for yourself.

This can be scary and challenging, but it is important to be upfront and honest with them about your needs and expectations.

You can take charge of your life and the way you are treated by letting them know when they have done something unacceptable.

3. Stop Making Excuses.

Do not make excuses for someone else’s unacceptable behavior.

While they may try to blame you or others, the truth is that they alone are responsible for their choices and resulting actions.

When you make excuses for someone’s behavior, you are supporting it and allowing it to continue. If you have set reasonable expectations and been upfront with the family member, then it is their responsibility to act accordingly.

4. Experience Your Emotions.

Dealing with a toxic family member will bring on uncomfortable feelings and difficult emotions.

It is normal to feel anger, sadness, fear, confusion, and more. Instead of trying to push these emotions away, allow yourself the time and space to sit with them and experience them.

This way your body and mind can work through the feelings instead of having them build up inside. It can also prevent unhealthy coping mechanisms from forming.

5. Don’t Take It Personally.

This can be difficult, but try not to take a toxic family member’s words or actions personally. They clearly have their own wellness issues, and that is where this hurtful behavior is stemming from. It is a reflection on them, not on you. Believe in yourself and your worth regardless of anyone else’s opinions or comments.

7. Seek Help.

Dealing with a toxic family member is mentally difficult and emotionally draining, so it will be important for you to have sufficient outside support.

Share your struggles with close, trusted friends or family. Read books about coping with toxic family members to hear other people’s stories and gain further insights and strategies.

8. Practice Self-Care.

Practicing self-care is vital to mental health, and it becomes particularly important while going through an emotionally challenging situation.

Take time away from everything else to spend meditating, journaling, soaking in a hot bath, or whatever you enjoy most. It is helpful to implement daily affirmations.

Speak to yourself with encouragement and self-kindness. Focus on the positive by listing things you are thankful for each day.

Remember that your worth is not lessened just because someone else cannot see it.

9. Be Compassionate.

While challenging, it can be helpful to have compassion toward the toxic family member.

This does not mean you excuse their behavior though. It is simply a recognition that they are not inherently a bad person. Every human being is imperfect.

Their own difficult life circumstances or lack of skills have gotten them to this dark place. We all have our own pain that we are trying to deal with, and we all make mistakes sometimes. This is a part of our common humanity.

10. Cut Them Out.

If the above strategies have not helped to remedy the situation, you will have to decide whether or not you want this toxic family member in your life at all.

Ask yourself if you are getting more pain than joy out of the relationship. If the answer is yes, you may want to cut this person out of your life until they have shown the ability to consistently treat you with respect.

It could be for a couple of weeks or it may be much longer. If nothing changes, it could be permanent.


Relationships are built on respect, trust, and honesty. Everyone deserves these things. Just because a person is related to you, does not mean you owe them anything or that they can treat you however they like. This is especially true when the relationship comes at the expense of your own health and well-being.

Use the above strategies to build up your self-esteem and make the changes you need to ensure you can be happy and healthy. People can change which means that the two of you may be able to repair this relationship.

It will be hard and take a lot of time, but it can be done. However, notice that it is “the two of you.” Both parties must be willing to work together.

Unfortunately, in some cases, it is best to let the relationship go. After you’ve put in as much effort as you can, you will have to decide what’s best for you and your well-being.


Grace Furman is a writer and blogger at Heartful Habits. Heartful Habits is a place of inspiration for what Grace calls living mindfully and heartfully. She loves learning and sharing about wellness tips, natural remedies, beauty DIYs, green cleaners, healthy recipes, social issues, and more. Grace will be regularly contributing to Live Bold and Bloom.

Saying Goodbye

The amount of love you feel for someone and the impact they have on you as a person is in no way relative to the amount of time you have known them.

It’s painful, loving someone from afar.
Watching them – from the outside.
The once familiar elements of their life reduced to nothing more than occasional mentions in conversations and faces changing in photographs…..
They exist to you now as nothing more than living proof that something can still hurt you … with no contact at all.

― quotes from Ranata Suzuki

 

If You Were Lucky

“I thought of all the others who had tried to tie her to the ground and failed. So I resisted showing her the songs and poems I had written, knowing that too much truth can ruin a thing. And if that meant she wasn’t entirely mine, what of it? I would be the one she could always return to without fear of recrimination or question. So I did not try to win her and contented myself with playing a beautiful game. But there was always a part of me that hoped for more, and so there was a part of me that was always a fool.”

The above quote reminds of Glen and George whom I’ve met on two separate occasions with years in between. The first when I was a teenager (with decades of experience being forced to grow up fast) and the latter during my wild episodes. George said he didn’t want to start something with me because I was just passing and he had no intention of nursing a broken heart when I’m gone. The night before I left while we were walking around the neighborhood, he confessed that he regretted his decision and called himself a fool for not taking advantage of the time he could spend with me creating memories he could hold onto when everything is over. Glen, I wrote his story here. Some of it anyway.

Guys are funny. With their notions and expectations. Why not just enjoy the ride and make most of the experience while it lasts.

No?

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Parallel Lines Don’t Intersect

The poem at the bottom reminds me of the time I was convinced I had a crush on a senior in high school. I was a freshman, we were both in pilot classes. The best of the best.

I was there by brain alone. No prestige no wealth not even looks. He had all of those and more. Naturally, he didn’t want to be associated with me. Avoided me like the plague. I remember enrolling in the woodworking class because I thought he would be there but no, he was in embroidery class. Joined the gardening class hoping to catch him there but what do you know__ he was in the baking class!

He grew up to be the most successful individual I know past and present. Traveling around the world for his job and belongs to crème de la crème in his field. He is never married. To his job by the looks of it. He never stops studying. A Ph.D. here, there and everywhere and still going. I wonder what his motivations are. Anyway whatever it is, he made it.

A couple of years ago, his cousin – who used to be my classmate – and I came across each other online and since she was just across the border from where I live we decided to meet for old time’s sakes. I heard he will be there as well. But at the last moment, he dropped out. I concluded that even after all these years he still doesn’t want to be in the same room with me. I retreated inside my walls and never heard of them since then.

you said you like old stuff
so I bought a vinyl player
and a typewriter.
I thought it’ll make you like me too,
how could I be so futile?you said you’re into painting
so I enrolled in an art class
and practiced drawing.
I heard you wrote him handwritten poems,
oh god, this feels like drowning.you said you’re into bad boys
so I tattooed a dragon across my chest.
I saw you date your nerdy classmate.
guess I’m all too late
again.

see? no matter how many times
I change myself for you,
you still can’t see me.
no matter how fast I chase you
I’m still miles away behind
your
free-versed heart.

you said you’re still a virgin
so I stopped watching pornography.

I heard he banged you hard.

God, I deserve a drink.

~from Postcard Promise via Facebook

5

The Day You Said You Regretted Me

“And perhaps, you would still cross my mind after two, three, five or sadly, ten years later. Maybe after those times, I’d still wonder how it feels growing old with you. Maybe after those years, I would slowly turn into a blurred image sluggishly subsiding in your memory. Maybe, after all, you will remain as my could-have-been

and I, 
I will stay as your never-again.”

– Mica Meñez

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Walking Back And Forth Or Passing Through

Philophobia (from Greek φίλος – filos, “beloved, loving”and φόβος – phobos, “fear”) is the fear of being in love and falling in love. The risk is usually when a person has confronted any emotional turmoil relating to love in the past but also can be a chronic phobia.

I have said it already so many times before, I have never been in love yet despite being married more than once. I had my share of flings and affairs but none of those managed to capture my heart. Speaking of heart, mine is never been broken. Not even a dent. I could say I protected it so well but that is not the case. It just happened that I didn’t encounter yet that special someone who is capable of doing the damage.

No, I don’t have a fear of falling in love, in fact, I would like to experience how it is to be desperately, hopelessly, madly in love. And I wish for my heart to be broken once so I know how it feels when others talk about heartaches, sorrows, and pain of loving too much.

Neil Gaiman said:

 Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn’t it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up.

I want to experience that too. To be vulnerable, to be utterly messed up by someone else, to fall so hard it feels like I’ve been hit by a truck or dropped from a thirteenth-floor window. Haruki Murakami described falling in love as intense, a veritable tornado sweeping across the plains—flattening everything in its path, tossing things up in the air, ripping them to shreds, crushing them to bits. I want that kind of feeling just once so I can relate with those who know how it is like to have your throat cut.

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Time of Waiting in Amsterdam

I can only say I have waited for you
through western nights
at bus stops
in lanes
by canals
on airfields
and the gallows of tears

And then you came
through the forlorn cities of Europe
I recognized you
I set out the table for you
with wine with bread with mercy
but imperturbably you turned your back
you detached your sex, laid it down on the table
and without speaking a word
with your own smile
abandoned the world

—  by Ingrid Jonker

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No, I Do Not Have Proof.

I do not have proof.

But, I know it happened. I know because I remember. I know because I was there. 

I was six going on seven. I remember what time of year it was—summer—and I remember it was at a party or maybe it was a picnic. I remember it happened in my own backyard behind my house.

It happened with people laughing and talking and drinking in the distance—not watching, but right under their noses. It happened in the woods, in broad daylight.

I remember it was quick. I remember his mouth coming down on mine, how he grabbed and squeezed my little girl face. I remember being pinned against a large rock. I remember his hand, how he put my small hand beneath his big one and worked himself over. How he shoved his big fingers up inside me and told me I would like what we were doing a lot more when I was older.

I remember running away and hiding in my bedroom. I remember that I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t get enough air, and I wanted to vomit, so I did, right in my mouth—the taste sharp and sour when I swallowed it back down.

I remember how terrified I felt. I remember being mute, unable to speak, holding my words hostage inside my belly, a belly filled with bile. I remember I had no idea what the f*ck just happened to me. Or why it happened.

Because I was six.

I remember the pain between my legs—but no, I don’t remember his name. I’m sorry I don’t remember his name. I’m sorry I don’t have the proof you are looking for, but does it count—is my story “credible”—if I tell you about the blood? Because I remember the blood. I’m sorry I didn’t save my underwear. And I’m sorry I don’t remember what time it was, but I remember his bad breath and his curled, wet lips.

Does it count if I remember this? Will you believe it happened if I told you exactly what he said? How he snarled and told me he would kill me if I said anything to anyone? How he called me a f*cking brat as I ran away from him? Does any of that count as proof?

I’m sorry I didn’t talk about it. To anyone. What I told my mother that day was I had a stomachache. That I didn’t feel good. I didn’t talk about it that day or at all until I was 45 years old. I still don’t talk about it.

Tell me, was I supposed to keep my underwear locked in a box, tucked away like a keepsake so I could pull it out in the future to prosecute my attacker, someone I knew, someone who would deny my story, call it crazy, call me crazy, and tell everyone I was lying?

Was I supposed to ask someone how to spell his name so I could write it down on a piece of paper? A piece of paper I could put inside the box, pinned to my underwear? Tell me, what was the best way for a six-year-old to handle the situation?

I can tell you how I suppressed it, though. How I buried the memory. How I held it down, muffled it so that it wouldn’t kill me. How it tried to kill me for years and years, and how I fought with it—my demon memory. How I carried it around inside my body. How I ate and ate and tried to stuff it down in order to control it.

And how it just kept coming back up again. How it still does.

If a branch fell on a woman walking alone in the woods, and she told you about it 32 years later, would you believe her? Maybe you would because she could point to a scar on her arm if she had one. If she had a scar, one that you could see, she could call it proof.

7.6 billion people inhabit the planet. Roughly half are women. One in four women and girls have been or will be sexually assaulted, which is close to one billion women. 

When will one billion women be enough proof?

We don’t carry proof around in our purses waiting for just the right moment to “ruin” our attacker’s life. We carry it in our hearts and in our heads.

Our assaults come along for the ride in every relationship we ever have. We carry them on our hips and in our bellies when we turn to food to cope. We carry them in pill containers and wine bottles. They sit next to us in AA meetings. They’re tucked into the folds of our divorce papers.

We carry them like rocks in a sock and we wield them as weapons with our sudden bursts of pent up anger and unexplained rage.

We are labeled moody and troubled and bitchy and unpredictable. We put our proof in a bag and we drag it to our therapy sessions where it sits on the floor, heavy, next to our feet. We pass it down to our children, our daughters—like toxic heirlooms.

Our dysfunction, our depression, our damage are the gifts that keep on giving.

Don’t talk to me or any other survivor of sexual assault about proof. The proof is often invisible, but we are not. We are right under your noses.

A proof is in the moment that haunts us forever, the thing we cannot forget.

We do not “have” proof, we are the proof. Because we were there one billion times over.

AUTHOR: KIMBERLY VALZANIA

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10 Good Reasons Not to Contact your Ex.

I know how it goes. I have been there, and I will probably be there again.

You’re sitting around, usually at night, and you’re alone.

Earlier that day, maybe something reminded you of them—a song popped up on a playlist, a girl in line at Target looked like her, a mutual friend brought up his name. Being reminded of your ex can happen in a million different ways, and when it happens we can’t stop thinking about them: the good times we shared, the amazing sex, all the things we should have done, everything that still remains unsaid.

It can be easy to fool ourselves into thinking that maybe they were “the one” and they got away.

That’s when we take to social media to find them again and see what they’re doing, or if they’re single, or if the new partner is hotter than we are (they always are). We may still cherish their number in our phones, or start poring over old texts and emails, looking for a sign that there’s still some kind of a connection.

Next, it’s tempting to re-initiate contact with them. Tempting probably isn’t even a strong enough word. This is closer to how an addict in recovery feels. You want the old high back. Like when you first met. So what to do? Call, text, email, Facebook message, comment on one of their Instagram pictures?

None of the above.

I say leave it alone, because realistically it’s rare that a relationship can be rekindled successfully. So here are my 10 good reasons not to contact your ex:

Pride.

When my ex fiancé dumped me, I made a vow never to contact him again because I didn’t want to be the pleading, pathetic, crazy-looking ex. I’d lost a lot with that relationship, but the one thing I knew I could keep was my dignity, and in the midst of a really bad time, that felt good.

We don’t always need “closure” for everything,

and chances are we aren’t really going to get it. The need for whatever closure is, is actually a need to control our circumstances. Accept that we have no control, and live in peace. Allow the distance and separation to heal old wounds, rather than reopening them under the guise of seeking “closure.”

The past no longer exists.

It’s gone. We’ve already lived those moments and replaying them in our heads isn’t healthy or realistic. Don’t dwell on what lies behind you and don’t try to manipulate a future that is based on past expectations. Keep moving forward one present moment at a time. Let life unfold as it will and be pleasantly surprised.

They are exes for a reason.

Chances are, there were plenty of valid reasons why the relationship ended, and most likely, all of those reasons are still there. People rarely change as much as we want or need them to. I realize this sounds cynical, but it’s unfortunately true and it’s better to play it safe and stay away rather than reopen that Pandora’s box of dysfunction.

Resist the urge to write yourself in as the hero of your own tragic love story.

The plots of most romantic comedies involve star-crossed lovers who are continually prevented from being together for a variety of ridiculous reasons, until the end of the story when they finally realize they are meant to be. There is usually a big, climactic declaration of love that takes place at an airport at the last minute before someone is about to leave forever as if phones and emails don’t exist. Good for entertainment, totally ridiculous for real-life, healthy relationships. You are not living in a movie, so stop acting as if you are.

It’s okay to let go.

Period. Think of how light and free you will be. The feeling of finally being over something is ecstasy. Celebrate the miracles yet to come.

We always view the past through a lens of idealism.

We tend to remember the good stuff, and dismiss our ex’s irritating, annoying, or just plain awful qualities. Hindsight has a way of softening things. Try to be realistic about how much of a jerk you thought he was while you were a couple. Think about some of her truly unacceptable behaviors. Don’t get mixed up in that again.

Our exes aren’t really our soulmates.

I don’t really believe in the fairy-tale idea that we have one true love. I think we have several potential soul mates and in a lifetime we can have a lot of different kinds of romantic experiences. The soul mate myth holds us back and keeps us from having a more open mind and open heart about other people and other types of love that are waiting for us to enjoy and learn from.

This is usually more about our own egos than it is about loving someone else.

When we feel compelled to reach out to an old flame, before we act impulsively, it’s a good idea to look at what may be the real underlying cause of our urge. Are we feeling insecure, disappointed, or sad about something? Do we think that maybe this person can help us feel better about ourselves or validated in some way? We likely miss the comfort and familiarity of an old relationship. Do we just want to see if we still “have it” or do we potentially like the sense of power we may be able to yield over our ex’s attraction for us?

Someone is probably going to get disappointed.

Case in point, that time my favorite ex contacted me, for God knows what reason, and I got all excited and thought he was going to profess undying love for me, but instead he asked me if I wanted to have dinner with him and his new girlfriend the next time he was in town, which is absolutely not my idea of a fun-filled evening. It’s possible that we may contact our ex out of curiosity, or friendliness, or to apologize, without seeking to reconcile a relationship with them. But what if they’ve been hoping all along to hear from us and to be with us again? It is unkind to potentially mess with someone’s head this way. On the other hand, what if we are getting back in touch because we are still looking for a relationship, only to find that they are no longer interested? We should try to spare ourselves that suffering too.

When we once had a connection with someone it can be difficult to extinguish that spark, even if it existed more in our imagination than in reality. But it’s important to evolve bravely rather than cling stubbornly to past relationships. Let them be completed, and move on rather than trying to go back and contact ex-loves.

~by Victoria Fedden

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I am, I am, I am.

“I wonder why I don’t go to bed and go to sleep. But then it would be tomorrow, so I decide that no matter how tired, no matter how incoherent I am, I can skip on hour more of sleep and live.” 
― Sylvia Plath

I can’t bring in words how deep this quote from Sylvia Plath resonate with me. I know it all too well, the fear of missing out__ what exactly? For there is nothing a lot going on out there in the night unless you’re one of those people who love to party till___. Yet, that nagging feeling persists, that I supposed to be doing___ what____ instead of engaging with some useless occupation like sleep. When I’m feeling drowsy due to the lack of sleep, still I fight it, scared that something wonderful will happen while I’m dozing off, that I’m going to waste time by going to bed, and time is precious and fleeting I supposed to be using it to do something remarkable, important, lasting… and what is exactly that? I have no idea. All I know is I want to go somewhere, anywhere, see new things watch people visit new places do exciting things, anything as long as it makes me feel brand new and alive and elated and fuelled inspired content and for the moment happy. Am I crazy? Probably so. But so what?

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