Wednesday, July 3, 2019

July IWSG: STEMMING THE TIDE OF STAGNATION

Once, when the tortoises were small, my husband and I put a parsley plant in their space. The idea was for them to nibble at their leisure. 


A (very!) short time later, we were greeted by two very full and happy tortoises . . . and a bunch of sad looking stems.


Much like that first imagined scenario, I've had a problem nibbling at me for years. It's affected everything in my life, from my confidence to my writing. It's insidious and subtle and left me doubting myself, blaming myself. But like the actual scenario, I've recently been torn down and ripped up. I'm like those stems - limp, exhausted, exposed. It's scary, but now I have clarity. It's not my fault. I'm not crazy. I can finally see what's been happening, and what I can do about it. 

To paraphrase Maya Angelou – When you know better, you do better. Just like my husband and I now know to keep the parsley plant away from cute (but greedy!) tortoises, we also now know to keep ourselves away, as much as possible anyway, from negative and toxic influences. It won't be easy but with careful tending, a new plant - and a renewed passion for creativity and writing – will grow, healthy and strong and thriving! 

(Side note: The Summer of George is not going very well, but I haven't given up! There is still a lot of summer left!)

*****

Have you ever experienced that moment of clarity, that relief it wasn't you, it wasn't all in your head? Any suggestions for self-care and building back self-esteem? How's your summer going? 

Join us!

68 comments:

  1. Exercise is a great self-help and mood booster for me as I've struggled with grief and life changes. And yes, clarity about yourself and how you feel helps because you can see that the bad times and feelings are temporary and you can get back into a better space. I'm also thinking of using cognitive therapy to change some of my negative and untrue statements that I tell myself about myself and life. And gratitude is really helpful.

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    1. I'm sorry to hear you've been struggling, Natalie.

      Thank you for the great suggestions! I'm working especially on changing the negative self-talk, hoping that will be a good starting point for everything else to follow.

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  2. Well, I would pray, but I don't know if that's your kind of thing, so I also suggest finding encouraging words/quotes, printing them out and sticking them everywhere. Read them out loud. Give your hubby hugs, go for walks you like, turn up music and sing/dance. Take mental pictures of any moment that makes you happy. On one bad day I had, I marveled over the color of red on a car during a rainstorm and the taste of my favorite tea and just gave thanks for the gift of sight and taste.

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    1. Great ideas, Tyrean! My prayers may not be "official" but I do it in my own way. :)

      Focusing on and being grateful for those small moments is so important.

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  3. Glad you have that moment now.
    I guess the tortoises now just get sprigs of parsley?

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  4. You're on the right track. Walking/running definitely boosts my mood. I try to get out early in this beastly hot weather. I've cut a lot of toxic people/situations out of my life in this last year. It's made an amazing difference in my mental health. There's a lot of summer left, and a lot of creative energy inside of you, waiting to bloom.

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    1. Thanks, Lee. I've started exercising again, just a little to get back into the swing of it. Limiting the negative and toxic influences is helping. I just hope I can keep it up and not slip back into the old ways....

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  5. I'm glad you've had that clarity that you needed. Self-care is so important. There are some great ideas in the comments above. Walking has always been one that works for me. Something about nature and solitude that reminds me that everything is somehow connected and has a purpose, including me. Keeping you in my thoughts. Ellen

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    1. Thank you, Ellen. I enjoy walking, more outside - especially on the beach - than on the treadmill. I need to get my butt up earlier so I can enjoy the "cooler" weather. :)

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  6. Sounds to me like you've figured it out for yourself. Realizing that someone is having a toxic effect on your life is step one. Separating yourself from that person isn't always easy, (In my case, my father was the toxic influence.) but now that you have, you're well on the way to feeling better about yourself. Surrounding yourself with positive people and doing things that make you happy helps take that toxic taste out of your mouth, but if you prefer to be more isolated from other people, that's cool, too. Be your own best friend. Embrace your attributes and appreciate all of the positive things in your life, and all of the things you've accomplished. Eat foods you love. Just sit and stare at the ocean if it makes you happy. Read feel-good books. Watch feel-good movies. (Even if you consider Jaws to be one of them. HA!) Allow yourself to be happy. The creativity will come as a natural by-product.

    Have an awesome 4th!

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    1. Susan, thanks so much for your comment. The realization hit me hard even though I'm pretty sure I knew it deep down all along.

      I love what you said about surrounding myself with positive people. I don't have a lot of those in real life, but I've got all of you guys. :)

      Ha on Jaws! I don't know that I'd say it's a feel good movie as much as it's familiar and comforting. (Still weird, I know.)

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  7. Oh yes! I had to identify the negative and toxic influences in my life and cut them away as well. And a couple of people, too.

    Happy 4th of July!

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  8. I'm sorry to hear that you've gone through a rough spot, but it's great to see you've figured it out. Good luck and keep those toxic things away!

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  9. Toxic people and situations drain you, mentally and emotionally. Besides, they're not nearly as cute as tortoises. :)

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  10. Hooray for your moment of clarity. Sometimes it's hard to recognize the toxic effects of those close to us, and even harder to say goodbye.

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    1. Thanks, Jennifer. It's like you don't want to believe that things are the way they are. It's easier to believe that it's your fault, etc.

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  11. I do think there is a lot we can control in our minds, just by deciding we will do so. Glad you are feeling better.

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    1. My mind is a wild and woolly place. It's not pretty, but it's home. :)

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  12. I forgot to mention. I read one of your flash fictions on an archive of Janet Reid's blog. Wonderful!

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    1. Thanks so much, Liza! I love entering her contests. I don't always receive a mention, but the creative exercise is amazing.

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  13. You're on the right track just by figuring that out. Not sure I can give any self care tips because most of mine are related to chronic illness.

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    1. We take a lot of care, don't we? Physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. :)

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  14. Keep away from toxic people and situations, both are an energy drain. Surround your self with positive people. And lastly believe in yourself, in your capabilities. There is someone out there who is waiting to read your story. Write for that person.

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    1. A lot of what's happened is part of why I don't believe in myself as much as I used to, but I'm working on it. :)

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  15. I'm glad you've been able to identify the toxicity. I've recently developed the bad habit of accepting blame when it's not my fault. Example: My kids got strep throat. Well, I guess I should've been more diligent at getting them their vitamins. Even though I know it isn't my fault, I can stop the words from slipping out.

    I really hope you find things that work for you. I think I need to take a hard look at my own life before my habits get any worse.

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    1. I hear you, Loni! My first thought is usually "it's my fault." I feel guilty and/or take the blame (even just internally) almost automatically. Realizing we're doing that is huge! Now, stopping it is another story but definitely doable. :)

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  16. I've always been a 'bull my way through' self doubt and rejection. My best advice it to look ahead and not back.

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  17. Hi,
    I am so happy that you and your hubby have discovered that you were not at fault for whatever was happening in your lives. And yes, I can testify that negative people are very toxic. I do my best to avoid them and when I can't avoid them then I say hello and keep going or when given the chance I say in a polite way that their way of living or thinking is not what I call my way of living and they leave me alone. They may be angry but that is okay too. I just have to learn to deal with it and I do.
    All the best.

    Hi,
    I'm not mouthy but I do have a tendency of speaking the truth at the wrong time. But maybe that mouthy too.
    Love your excerpt.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

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    1. Thank you, Pat. If we can't avoid the negative and the toxic, then we can at least try to limit our exposure.

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  18. The number of tortoises I've seen snapping away at plants, I can only imagine. But yes, keeping toxicity out of your life is always good!

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  19. I'm sorry it hurt for you to makes this inner discovery, but I'm also glad something awesome came out of it. You're stronger now. Better.... This sounds a lot like the Six Million Dollar man opening, so it must be true. hehehe

    Anna from elements of emaginette

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  20. It's so hard to remove yourself from toxic people, especially when they are family. But it's so draining. Good luck with it. I'm constantly trying to find the right balance.

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    1. Thanks, Elizabeth. It really is draining. Sometimes we don't realize how much it's affected us until we're forced to face it, and THAT is an eye opening experience. Whew!

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  21. I'm happy to hear that you have some clarity and forward motion, Madeline! Love the tortoise/parsley story. I'm afraid I'm very much a tortoise when it comes to food I love. Sorry about your "Summer of George" not going so well. Sometimes it's hard to continually deal with adult responsibilities, especially when you want to run free like a child again, even for a little while. Summer has just started, so there is still time!

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    1. Tortoise + parsley = me + chocolate. :)

      I stink at adulthood, but I was also a weird kid - most of my "running free" looked like me curled up with a book.

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  22. Learning to let go of negative thoughts is difficult and something I think many of us struggle with. I'm glad you are moving on and feeling better. Best wishes.

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  23. I shall have to read all these comments to get tips on self-care, because I need some! Still looking for my moment of clarity :)

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    1. There are some excellent tips here, Rebecca. And loads of support and encouragement. The IWSG group is full of amazing folks. :)

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  24. Oh, gosh, I know what you're talking about. I have ASD but I didn't know about it until I was in my late 40s. I always blamed myself for my inability to interact with people. I thought I was deficient, somehow 'less' than all the others. Now, after I have a diagnosis, I at last stopped berating myself. It is really not my fault, and the understanding makes everything easier to bear, even though I still have the same problems.

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    1. Good for you for no longer berating yourself! And I agree - the understanding does help even if the problems are still there. It kind of makes me feel a little stronger, a little more sure of myself.

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  25. Glad you've found the clarity you needed. For years when I was younger I stayed in toxic friendships just because it was easier. It can be difficult to cut negative energy from your life but it will be so much better when you do.

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    1. I wonder why it's so hard to get rid of the things that hurt us, that weigh us down....

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  26. Sounds like the critters got an awesome treat!!
    And yes, nurturing positivity in life makes a massive difference.

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    1. I used to be more positive myself. Hopefully, I can get back to that!

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  27. The best self-esteem builder I know is meeting new people and getting a different perspective on my own life. So often I meet strangers who have life experiences absolutely unlike my own and they give me a chance to look at where I am from a different angle. "Not too bad" is often my response.

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    1. Good one! I tend to be awkward in social situations, though, but I do try to think about things from others' perspectives and be grateful for everything I have. :)

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  28. Toxic people and toxic situations have to go! One of the ways we can work through these changes in our lives is through writing. If you're not already doing Julia Cameron's morning pages (The Artist's Way), give it a try. The process can be used to journal through a crisis or write a book.

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    1. Yes! I do a version of Morning Pages, and I'm finding it incredibly helpful during this time. :)

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  29. I'm sorry you have been struggling so much but glad you have had that moment of clarity now. I hope this is the beginning of much deserved healing for you. You know now so you can start moving ahead and feeling better. Thinking of you!

    I laughed about the full tortoises, so cute. I am right there with them lately as I am like a pig at the trough eating everything in sight. :D

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    1. Thanks so much, Julie. I hope so!

      If only the things we were pigging out on were things like salad greens and veggies, right? Pfft! :)

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  30. Madeline, I'm sorry toxic influences brought you down like that! I've had that happen time and time again! Oh, yes, I've had many clarifying moments as well to the problems that muddled my spirit and boy were they ever eye-opening which granted me a strong handle on the situation to where I, too, realized that it wasn't all in my head or my doing!

    Suggestion for self-care and building yourself back up: remember that the most important people, the bestest friends you can ever have--are the ones living under the same roof as you. Seriously. Whether it's your husband or your kids. They will always be your biggest fans. Ready to build you up. Also, if you're religious, Heavenly Father is your biggest fan. Wow... What more can we ever want? ((HUGS))

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    1. "Muddled my spirit" - that's exactly what it was like, Elizabeth!

      And I'm incredibly fortunate that my husband is my best friend. :)

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  31. I know about toxic people and it is not always clear cut how to make the break and survival. You go. Quotes, prayer, affirmations, focusing on what makes you happy can help you get back to yourself. Happy IWSG and HUGS!

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    1. Thank you, Juneta. I think I forgot about some of the things that made me happy - too busy being in a confused funk - but I'm getting back to them. :)

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  32. Madeline, I hope you're having success working through your issues.

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  33. Congratulations on the breakthrough. That is huge! Go forth into the Summer of George with this new, and healthier, perspective.

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  34. Here's to flourishing anew! Not only in the summer, but all year round. Good luck!

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