New Paths

I know that I’ve been utterly terrible about updating this blog.  I started out with the greatest of intentions and lost my fire somewhere along the way.  After several months of soul searching, I have decided to change my direction.  I wish the best for everyone and hopefully you will see me again in another WordPress blog where I will be working harder at being true to myself.

 

Thanks for the ride!

 

 

 

Rochelle Renee

The Prison is Only in Your Mind

cage

 

When I was young I lived in a place that I jokingly refer to as ‘the commune’.  It was a small community where the closest neighbor was nearly a half mile away, and for most people it was probably a relative.  There was a tiny food/entertainment/restaurant/tool store, a tiny school with two hundred or so students in its entirety, and a tiny post office.

In the eighties and nineties this was the sort of small bible belt town where they still suggested that people of colour left the city limits before sundown.

 

At 13 I hated it, and even though things have changed, in some ways I still do.

 

Back then I knew there was a bigger and wider world out there, but I was only able to experience it through television or rented VHS movies from the tiny grocery.  All things different or from ‘outside’ were regarded with both suspicion and probable hostility.

 

It was like that movie where everything outside of city limits was just fog.

 

I couldn’t find my way around the nearest larger town.  I didn’t know how to get to the mall or the actual grocery store or any of the clothing shops.  I knew absolutely nothing about the world beyond my dinky little map dot.

Before I made my escape no one stopped my family from forcing me to eat from dirty dishes if I was allowed to eat at all.  Not one person said a word when I came to family functions or went to school with bruises or dirty clothes or matted hair.  Nothing was done when I screamed and cried and prayed for someone to save me.  They all turned a blind eye so that my existence would not corrupt their perfect little world.

 

I didn’t have a hero.

 

I didn’t know there were programs to help people like me because the mental and emotional abuse was so encompassing that I had no idea there was any other way of life.

While I always knew that the physical abuse that I suffered was wrong, I lacked the knowledge that would have allowed me to recognize the damage that they were doing mentally and emotionally.  I didn’t know that I was in prison because I thought the cell bars were where the world ended.

Being told that ignorance was no excuse was like a slap in the face.  Granted, hindsight is 20/20, and I now understand at least a portion of how the isolation, belittling, starvation, degradation, and physical violence has affected me, but when I was freshly escaped from that environment I was to a certain extent still under my abusers’ thumb.

It has been a long journey, and in my late thirties I still struggle with the damage done to me in my childhood.  I battle agoraphobia, anxiety, and lack of ability to form healthy relationships.  There are certain places on my body that my partner and children can’t touch me.  Some days I cannot tolerate any touch at all.  I have trouble with intimacy and with expressing empathy.

 

I am scarred.  I am not broken.

 

Each day is a day that I get better.  Some are harder struggles than others.  I tell you this not for sympathy, but because I want everyone to know that there is help out there.  Don’t be caught by the edge of the world like I was for so long.  You can escape.  Surprisingly enough, once you step over that invisible line the sky is wide open and blindingly blue.  You can find help, support, and most importantly you can find yourself.

 

Free yourself of your gilded cage and fly.

 

You are intelligent; you are capable.  You can do this.

 

 

 

~Rochelle Renee

Self-acceptance is a Good Thing

self acceptance

 

One of the things that I struggle most with is self-acceptance.

It’s not an uncommon problem.  Every day I am inundated with images of computer produced perfection as well as insinuations that I cannot possibly be good enough as I am.  Surely, I would need makeup or special hair products or a particular brand of clothes.  How could I realistically be self-confident without these things?  After all, if I were then I would be a narcissistic bitch.  No one is good enough on their own, and how dare I consider that I might be, right?

 

Sadly enough, these are not the most damaging sentiments that are casually perpetuated every day.

 

Just today my husband and I were discussing the differing cultural norms projected onto males and females.  Women should always be demure and genteel.  They should take care to only expose the minimum amount of skin because an inch or two of midriff or a bare shoulder could inspire a male to act upon his uncontrollable instinct to mate, and he might forget that his chosen lady has choices and rights of her own.  Alternatively, men should be strong, emotionless, always in control, know how to hunt, fish, work hard, and take his woman in a manly fashion.

 

Any deviation from what is ‘normal’ or ‘right’ can lead to being shunned or heckled until conformation is achieved.

 

Is this response to all things different appropriate?

 

From a purely evolutionary standpoint, yes.  In the early days of our race it was necessary for the continuation of our species that the larger and stronger male protected the family unit or pack/herd while the women were impregnated by the strongest of the males for the furtherance of the line.

The issue is that in this day, we are no longer subject to our baser instincts.  We have moved beyond the need to be a slave to our drives, and our brains have evolved to the point that most of us have the luxury to concern ourselves with things other than simple survival.

It is to our detriment as a supposedly higher evolved species that we even mentally reduce ourselves to those roles which we may have occupied before we climbed the evolutionary ladder.

 

Accept yourself for who and what you are.  Each and every person on this planet is beautiful and worth being treated as a thinking, loving, and worthwhile individual.  Embrace your differences.  Celebrate them.  The world would be bland and dull if everything in it was identical to its neighbor.

 

Teach your children as well as yourselves that they are wonderful for who they are, and that no on has the right to debase or take advantage of you.

 

You are all worth more than that. 

 

You are strong. You are beautiful.  You can do this.

 

 

 

~Rochelle Renee

The Best Policy

mirror

 

For most of my life I have been told that honesty is the best policy.  Be honest with your teachers, with your parents, the police, basically anyone who is in a position of power over you.  Remain always truthful, and life will be great for you was the basic message.

As I have aged I have learned that there are times when complete honesty is not always the best policy.  While I would alert my friend if her outfit for the day was particularly unflattering, I would never dream of telling her that her feet look like elephant feet in those shoes or mention to a random passer-by that their haircut makes them look like an oily poindexter just because those were the thoughts that crossed my mind.

Most times, though, the honesty discussion never branches into the topic of also being honest with yourself.

We probably think that we are excruciatingly honest with ourselves.  We look at ourselves in a mirror and pick apart our perceived flaws.  We dissect our looks, our thoughts, feelings, conversations that we had earlier in the day, everything.

 

Is that honesty?

 

Perhaps not.  It is one thing to look at ourselves in the mirror and swear that we will never wear a particular dress in public because even though it is comfortable, it resembles more closely a potato sack than actual clothing.  Noticing that our hair could use a brush or a trim is simple observation.  Telling ourselves that we are a fat nasty cow who is gross and disgusting is quite another thing.

 

This is blatant dishonesty because beauty, just as art, is in the eye of the beholder.  If we could stand to lose a few pounds that’s fine.  Observe that this is the case and then take steps to rectify the situation.  There is not a single reason that we should talk down to ourselves and feel awful about it.

 

Insults are not honesty.  Notice that there is an issue; formulate a response to the issue; then act upon those two things.

 

Your mind works at many times the speed of your mouth.  You are capable of insulting yourself countless times in just five minutes, but that does not make those things true.  What should matter is that you look at yourself as well as the people and situations around you with an open mind.  Realize that you can change situations more effectively by looking at things with an objective eye.

Be honest with yourself but remember to also be kind.

 

You are beautiful; you are awesome.  You can do this!

 

 

 

~Rochelle Renee

To Thine Own Self Be True

to thine own self be true

 

While the original Shakespearean quote did not have the exact meaning that we ascribe to it today, there is much wisdom to be found in the more modern context.  Many of us will eventually find ourselves in a situation where we must bend to the will of another.  For some it will be our parents, for others a superior in the workplace or even someone of higher rank in the military.  For yet others it may even be our chosen higher power or deity.  Either way, we all find ourselves subordinate.

 

But what do we do in a situation where those in higher authority have ordered us to go against something we personally believe to be right or true?

 

Firstly, we must apply common sense.  Is there a valid reason for this directive?  In most cases, following the demand that we hurt or kill someone is an instant no, however this may not be true for military or law enforcement officers.  If a friend suggested that we should jump off a cliff or bridge, again in most cases that would elicit a negative response, but what if it were something that was a little more difficult to identify as a bad idea?

Would you change your religious views because a spouse or family member asked you to? What if someone told you that you were only supposed to read certain materials that they had decided were ‘good’ for you?  How many of us would put our foot down and say “No!  You can believe what you want, but I will believe what resonates with me!”

 

This is an absolutely valid viewpoint, however, keep in mind that in many cases you will have to continue to deal with the person in higher power to you.  It is not always possible or feasible that you will be able to just walk away from the difference of opinion, though if you are able to take that option, and you feel that is your best choice, then there is no reason why you shouldn’t.  Just remember to make a conscious and informed decision.

 

In the event that you are in a situation which you cannot or choose not to leave, ask the other person to explain their viewpoint.  Calm communication is the key.  Do not allow the situation to escalate into an argument, but simply state your own position and allow the other person the same courtesy.  Share also your reasoning and permit them to do the same.

Conversation is the axis on which the social world turns, and it is a perfectly acceptable compromise to agree to disagree. 

 

Yes, even with a person who is in power over you.

 

You can be true to your own thoughts, desires, emotions, and beliefs without engaging in constant disagreements.  Not everyone needs to jump onto the same bandwagon as you, nor are you required to ride on theirs.

 

You are beautiful; you are intelligent.  You can do this!

 

 

 

~Rochelle Renee

The Empty Cup

rest by the fire

 

The temptation is strong to push though the exhaustion and finish that last bit of what is on the schedule for the day.  You know that if you leave it for the next morning that it will cause hours of laying awake and staring at the ceiling while the agony of unfinished business keeps you tied to the waking world like a restless spirit.  How could this have happened, you think.  Every other week on this day you manage to finish the entirety of your business.  Did you hang out on YouTube for too long last night?  Are you *gasp* getting lazy?  What to do, what to do?

My advice for this downward spiral of self-blame and recrimination?

 

Don’t.

 

As long as you are genuinely working to achieving your personal goals, do not allow yourself to be dragged into this damaging thought process.  There will be days in your journey that will be more difficult than others.  Days where the traffic sucks and you have a flat tire right in the middle of the snarl.  Evenings where the stresses of the day catch up with you and you are so tired that you just want to relax into a nice warm bath and soak your troubles away before burrowing yourself into your fluffy blankets and resolving to live the rest of your life as a blanket burrito.

 

There is no shame in being a blanket burrito.

blanket burrito

 

 

 

 

 

We must all resolve to remember that even the most energetic people will get tired.  We get run down.  We get ill.  Some days we roll out of bed with the largest case of the ‘I can’t possiblys’ that has ever been birthed from the blanket fort.

 

You cannot drink from an empty cup.

 

You certainly would not deny your body’s needs for food or water, would you?  Then why would you skimp on sleep?  Good rest is necessary to good brain and body function.  Lost sleep can raise your blood pressure, decrease your reaction time, and affect your memories as well as emotions.  Without good rest there is no way that you can finish running the marathon of life.

Listen to your body’s needs.  If it is telling you that you are in need of rest, then spend some time relaxing.  Sleep for a bit.  Adjust your schedule if need be.  Discover how much down time you need and actually take it.

 

After all, life may be short, but what’s the point if you can’t enjoy it because all you want is a nap. 

 

You are amazing; you are beautiful.  You can do this!

 

 

 

~Rochelle Renee

Mythical Somedays

wistful lady

 

If only I had more time.  If I just had more money.

 

Do either of these sound familiar?  I know that I personally have told myself these exact things many times over the years. I told myself that if I only had more money I could travel.  If I just had more free time I could exercise more.  If I just had a little more knowledge I could begin writing that book I’ve been meaning to start.  I need to have just a little more experience before I share with the world.

 

If, if, if, when…

 

This sort of thinking is the perfect set up for the mythical someday.  That magic arbitrary date where one can travel, take up painting and macramé, or learn a new language.  Here’s the thing though.  If you never begin then you will never actually accomplish any of your dreams.  Waiting for something special to happen to you like winning the lottery or receiving an inheritance from your eccentric rich old auntie who no one is sure actually exists is not a life plan.

Experience is only gained through action.  Learning is a dynamic experience.  Without engaging in pursuits and expanding the mind one does not grow.  Stagnation leads to feeling confined, helpless, and hopeless which may develop into depression and anxiety disorders.

 

Don’t wait for someday.  Don’t wait for the windfall.

 

Find what makes you happy and pursue it with everything that you have within you.  Get out of your comfort zone.  Learn anything your heart desires.   Try new foods.  Take up sky diving.

 

Blaze a new trail.  It may be a leap of either faith or desperation, but it will ultimately lead you on a journey of self-discovery which will restore your belief in yourself.

 

Even if you fall you might just end up with a great story to tell the new friends that you made while backpacking across Europe. 

 

Stop to smell the flowers or listen to a burbling brook.  Discover shapes in the clouds and thrill in the wild power of a blustering storm.  Master finding your bliss in both the large moments and the small.  Search for the love within you and discover how to burn with your joy.  Life was meant to be lived in both the big moments and the small.  Get out there and get after it.

 

 

I believe in you.  Learn to believe in yourself.

 

You are strong; you are beautiful.  You can do this!

 

 

 

~Rochelle Renee