I was born and raised in New England, with 4 brothers. I developed, during my life journey, the need to protect others. I would always protect or defend my little brother, as I got older this extended to anyone that would not stand up for themselves. My mother gave me the nickname, Brenda the Avenger. I took it as a compliment and wore it as a badge of honor for most of my life.
This blog is a journey from being the victim of various abuses to viking (Brenda the Avenger), protecting others in a way I was never protected, to a peaceful soul. I have a peaceful soul more often than not these days, but God tends to bring my attention to things I need to face, when he feels the time is right.
I will explain in a general way, what I was like, what happened and what I am like now. As new struggles come up I will share them all in a solution oriented way.
As my readers know I have been doing some personal growth and self reflection over the past years. After my recent retreat the self reflection has picked up the pace. Change is uncomfortable for everyone. The person changing is uncomfortable and the people in his or her lives get uncomfortable.
I have come to this place many times and the same thing comes out of it. When I meet someone and I have an immediate negative reaction, I need to stop and really look at what it is that is bothering me, then I have to look in the mirror and see that part in me. 100% of the time when there is something I don’t like about someone or I have a negative reaction to someone, it is something I see in me that I don’t like. It’s that damn mirror.
I am far from perfect in my actions to become a better person and happier with my life. I try to be positive, but it ebbs and flows. Recently, I was in a hormone induced ebb. I was very moody and negative. When I am this way I have found that I need to look at what is causing it.
I ask myself questions like:
Am I sleeping well?
Am I spending too much time with negative people?
Is it hormonal?
Am I depressed?
Am I anxious?
Have I been eating right?
Am I exercising?
Sometimes it’s a combination of these, but what ever it is I have to figure out how to defuse it. Exercise, eating right and getting a good nights sleep all can bring my mood up. Sometimes I am just being judgmental and I need to look at changing something about me. Sometimes it’s a friendship that is no longer working for me. Those usually fall away naturally, but sometimes it doesn’t and a decision needs to be made. Sometimes a discussion needs to be had in order to set boundaries. Whatever it is, it is an action that has to come from me.
Honestly, IT SUCKS!! When I come to this place I go to my big book and start working the steps on what is bothering me. I am so grateful today that I have a new person in my life to work with because I need to get out of my head space for a while and just enjoy the now. I have so much to be grateful for, and such a wonderful life. It is too short to spend it in a dark place, well dimly lit place.
It’s time for action and more change!
Thank you to all my new retreat ladies who support me through the bumps as they come up.
I just spent a week in California for work. I have always loved the Monterrey and Carmel area. I also have found that I prefer to visit on my own. I don’t enjoy working around what other people want to do or deal with how they travel. I have lived alone since 2002 so I have gotten used to having things my way. I just tried to enjoy the view as the driver crossed double yellow lines to pass people and took us on a ride without checking the gas tank first. I was just a bit on edge.
I made the best out of it and relied on the girls from the retreat to redirect my mind to more important things. I am sure you are wondering what this has to do with the title of this post. Well, our last stop before the airport was Santa Cruz (no one checked to see if anything would be open by the time we had to leave.) We spent from 8 am to 10:30 sitting around waiting for something to open.
We were all watching a wiffle-ball tournament while we were waiting, when this family from Korea came up to us – Mom took me, Dad got the intern and daughter took the other of the three of us. At first when Mary came up to me it was like she was a fortune teller and I expected tarot cards to come out any second, but then she asked if I went to church and what my faith was. It was difficult to explain my faith to someone who has a defined image of what everyone should believe.
Now I was raised Christian and I believe in God, I have been baptized 3 times. I have a very solid foundation of faith, however, over the years my concept of God and my perception has grow and morphed into something I don’t think has a name. It is my relationship with God as I know it through my experience not just straight from a book, which different people interpret to their advantage.
I am not an expert on the Bible nor do I expect others to believe the way I do. I believe that Jesus died for our sins and was raised from the dead by his father, God. My concept of heaven and hell are not what they were when I was growing up. I believe in a loving and forgiving God who wants us to learn and grow. He wants us to be examples to others, but not be perfect. Noone can relate to perfection, it’s unattainable. People can see how we respond when something horrible happens and learn from what we do when times are tough or even unbearable.
I don’t attend a church because when I do eventually it turns into putting people in boxes (good and bad, heaven or hell). I think blind faith is worse than no faith at all. We were given these brains to learn, question, grow and come to our own conclusions. It is important to be in a community of faith. It is also not our place to judge an others religion, unless it involves harming people. I don’t believe God wants us to blow up abortion clinics, or condemn the GLBTQ community. Who are we to judge?
Honestly, for a long time I thought that hell was living life here on earth, because I was always in pain and afraid. Heaven would be dying and getting out of this place. Now, I couldn’t tell you if there is a heaven or hell. I believe God kept me alive in this world for a reason. I have chosen to be as kind, loving and generous as a possibly can. I have gotten to a place where I can forgive the people who have harmed me and let go of those who are toxic to me.
Forgiveness is an amazingly freeing thing, but there are those who do not deserve our forgiveness. There is a brother that I tried to forgive for harms done to me. I needed to do the best I could at the time to save my life, but it never quite settled in my heart. I went through a process where I was able to forgive those people I love and want to keep in my life and say good-bye to those who are toxic and leave them for God to sort out. I truly feel free now.
Faith for everyone looks different and it is up to you to know what feels right for you. We get to choose our faith, who we forgive and who we set free. We choose the direction we want our life to go. It’s free will and it is a gift from God.
I do not believe, anymore, that the sexual abuse, emotional abuse and the physical abuse were punishments for things I had done. Today I believe that it was God and my faith that gave me the strength to get up and fight again and again and again. You will not beat me! My life is important!! I am here and I am strong, deal with it!!
As in my politics, I am firm in my beliefs but not extreme. If you don’t agree with me that is fine, if you do that is fine too. If you feel the need to be negative and attack my beliefs, don’t waste your time, I don’t care what you think of my beliefs.
I was working on an art project this week and in the process I was flooded with random happy memories that had been hidden behind all the “stuff” I have been focused on most of my life. The negative stuff has had it’s turn…BYE-BYE NOW!! Here are some of the random happy memories that are good emotional buttons for me today. Enjoy…I grew up in New England then moved to California when I was 11 years old.
Picking blackberries by the side of the road.
Picking apples in the orchard with my Mom and brothers
Playing kick the can
Seeing pheasants in the morning standing on the well in the back yard.
The quiet area: lounge chairs in the middle of beautiful white birch trees.
The smell of fall in New England making me want to buy school supplies.
Helping my mom make chocolate chip cookies.
The smell of pot roast cooking when we got home from church every Sunday.
Ice skating on the home-made ice rink in our side yard in the winter.
Hot chocolate at Mac Intire Ski Area
Climbing to the top of the huge pine tree in our front yard
The smell of my Barbie camper, house…
Making camouflage dresses for my Barbie and playing in the mud.
Christmas – I love Christmas time
The Freedom Trail in Boston
Going to see how they make maple syrup.
Tapping trees to make our own maple syrup.
Watching baby ducks and chicks hatch.
Separating baby ducks in the house and watching the peep at each other until they find each other.
Afternoon Delight playing as I sat on the curb in front of our new house in California.
Going to Zuma Beach and listening to the ocean
Running on the beach
In college, going to the beach to study.
Running with my dog Angel.
Going Dancing with my friend Rhonda
Driving to San Diego for spring break..
Going to Palm Springs for spring break.
Playing softball year-round in California
Competing with guys in my classes to see who gets the better grade.
Going to UCLA football games with my family and flirting with my brothers friends.
I have been back from my retreat for a week now. I have been physically laid up so my mind has been working overtime. Transitioning back into reality has been bumpy, but so much easier with all the ladies who are now part of my life.
Putting words to my feelings and the internal shift that has happened for me has been a challenge, but today it came to me…
I can put that word in front of every feeling I have about the retreat and it fits!!
LOVE – JOY – FRIENDSHIP – HAPPINESS – FUN – FUTURE – ASPIRATIONS – INSPIRATION – FORGIVENESS – ACCEPTANCE
I didn’t feel there were any conditions to be met while I was there!
I am not holding myself back with conditions now! I have always had conditions that I had to meet before everything…EVERYTHING!!
For my future, life, happiness, self-love, fun, aspirations and joy now to be unconditional is the most freeing feeling I have ever felt. My feelings are unconditional. What I mean by that is I can allow myself to let my feelings wash over me and let them go without being carried away and lost in some past event or future fear. I have experienced what it feels like to just notice how I am feeling, feel it and then move on. I have heard about this, read about this and dreamed about this, but after this retreat I am free to experience it!!
MY LIFE IS UNCONDITIONAL!
MY FUTURE IS UNCONDITIONAL!
THIS IS MY REALITY TODAY AND I AM SO GRATEFUL FOR IT!!
I have spent time in therapy since I was 21 years old, of my own accord, for being molested as a child and date rape. It wasn’t called date rape at the time, it was against my will and I was angry. Based on what I was taught in my life, the only person who was going to protect me was me. I took the action at 21 to start therapy, lack of financial resources I had to stop. I will never forget my first therapist, Marilyn Leaf, she would call me on the carpet when I was avoiding a topic. She helped me get my anger under control.
Over the years my choices landed me in an abusive relationship. It was an environment that felt familiar. The details are not important to discuss, only that I got out after 16 years because I knew if I stayed I was going to die. I spent years running from the pain, fear, nightmares and anxiety. In case you don’t already know this, you can’t out run it. I faced many ghost’s when I got sober, but one I was not aware of was triggered during my 4th year of sobriety. I had just moved away from my AA network. I felt strong and safe. I had all the tools I needed to stay sober and I was getting plugged in in Fort Worth.
One day after work, I am sitting and watching TV and BANG! BANG! A neighbor was letting their door slam as they came and went. That first bang triggered my PTSD HARD. Suddenly, I felt like I was going to die, my skin got hot, I started sweating, shaking, crying and I curled up into a ball on my couch. In my head I knew I was safe but my body was not listening. I was already well medicated for this condition and I was out of control. I did not want anymore medication to numb this, I needed help. This happened every single time I heard a loud noise.
I called a dear friend in Dallas and she told me she had the same thing happen to her and she was in treatment that was helping her through it. EMDR – Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. She told me about her experience and I found a doctor in Fort Worth that worked with me for a couple months, once a week. I have not had an issue since.
If you are interested in my experience in greater detail leave a reply and I will get back to you. I just want to say that you don’t have to live in that place.
My heart goes out to all the victims walking around this world. I want you to know there is hope and we can heal.
Good Morning! This topic has been on my mind all week. I have been open to see how much I have done this and have seen how others around me use it. I am going to start by saying what we all have heard a million times, when we compare ourselves to others we will never win.
The title of this post is meant to mean no one wins, but also I am feeling today like it means that comparison is no longer going to win in my life.
I have spent my life in a constant state of comparison and competition. I really acted like they were the same thing. This kind of competition has not served me well and has held me back more than moved me forward. When I was really willing to take a long hard look at myself, my behaviors and remove the comparison I found that comparison served multiple purposes. When I lost the contest I was alone and worthless, when I won I was arrogant and judgmental. Neither of those are attractive qualities. Also, I see that I used them to keep people away from me. I had to accept that it was a choice, not a conscious choice, but a choice made out of survival instincts. Either way I was alone! Even when I was around people I was ALONE!
Every positive relationship I have in my life is from people being drawn to my light. How do you make that shift from comparison and competition to ownership and acceptance in order for your light to shine?
This has been a long road for me, because I didn’t really have any role models in this area, until recently. In case my family reads this, this is based on my experience growing up, not yours. We all grew up in the same family, but we all had different experiences and perspectives. This is mine.
My dad demanded perfection and ruled with an iron fist and my mom moved between viking and victim as it served her needs. My Mom was a master manipulator. Don’t get me wrong I love her and I sided with her and followed in her foot steps most of my life. I am as guilty of these things as she was. My Dad needs to be in control, even though that is only a delusion. I took that part of my father. All of these characters are in a place of comparison. They are also reacting to life rather than responding.
Starting at age 6 I lived in fight or flight mode having experienced sexual abuse, emotional abuse and physical abuse until my ex-husband died in September 2013. Honestly, until I got sober on July 18, 2010 I was trying to survive from day to day. I started my journey of creating who I am today on that day. Old habits die hard and working the 12 steps honestly with a sponsor will change your perspective on life and yourself. This is where I learned to take ownership of myself and my actions. I was taught how to pause (not easy) and respond rather than react. My toughest character defects are those characters I listed above: Perfectionist, Victim and Viking served on a platter of self-righteous indignation.
How do you make the shift?
You have to want to change. Period. If you don’t want to be different you won’t be. Any changes will be temporary.
You have to own your stuff. You have to stop focusing on what other people have, say and do. You need to just focus on what you have, say and do. These are the things you have control over. Believe me you will feel SO much better when you stop trying to control things you have no control over.
Accept that you don’t know what someone else’s life looks like from their shoes. You don’t know what they have survived or what they have yet to survive. Comparing your looks, feelings, pain, experience to what you see on the outside of someone else only hurts you. It keeps you apart from everyone else.
Create a support system: There are groups, organizations, treatment centers, or even people who love you and accept you as you are. I am fortunate to have amazing friends, I have my AA home group and I have my sisters from the Matthew Hussey Retreat to support me. Find like minded people and jump in the pool, the waters nice.
Take one step, one action, one micro change at a time and over time they will build into an amazing new life that you didn’t even know was possible.
These are the steps I have taken. I have not done them perfectly. My progress is not a straight line, but I always keep moving forward.
One thing I learned in my 6 weeks in an eating disorder treatment center, in the group sessions everyone had to tell their story. For each person the details of their life, pain, abuses and experiences ranged from one end of the spectrum to the other. It was horrifying hearing what some of these people endured. But when we each broke down how it made us feel and how we viewed ourselves it was the same for everyone. The details didn’t matter anymore.
We are all humans with feelings. Comparison creates a divide, but compassion is the bridge over that divide.
I just spent the last 7 days in Fort Lauderdale at the Matthew Hussey Retreat and they OVER DELIVERED!! These last 7 days have been the 7 best days of my life! HANDS DOWN! I am struggling with the words to adequately describe my experience.
I guess I will start by explaining a few things about myself, so you can understand how just doing the event is outside of my comfort zone.
I have never indulged myself with a vacation on this scale ever! My trips are either for work, family, or on the cheap. This was very selfish and indulgent and you know what….I FUCKING DESERVE IT!!
Since I have been working in accounting I have NEVER taken a vacation in the middle of month-end close. I only did things that fell in the middle two weeks of the month. This retreat was all during that time. When I asked for the time off I went in armed with how I was going to get my month-end duties done and noone would be effected. I have the best boss…she said YES!!
I have spent most of my life avoiding still pictures never mind video taping. They asked for volunteers to be video interviewed throughout the retreat to tell about their experiences. I volunteered and followed through with it. I am so grateful that I did!
I have not had to share my sleeping space for more than a night here or there. I am not great with this, but I asked to have a roommate for the retreat. My roommate was amazing and I have a new forever friend.
I am an extroverted-Introvert, which means that I enjoy being around people and being social, but I have to be alone to energize before and after. When I have had enough socialization I need to go be alone for a while. This is a full immersion program and there are about 200 people that are around each other a majority of the time, while being vulnerable. It was totally worth it!
Let me just say one thing here. I shared this link with my Sister-In-Law and she was put off by the fact that the website is through “Get The Guy” This is NOT a retreat on how to date or find a guy!! Matthew just happens to be able to help women understand men on a different level. This retreat is about YOU, ONLY YOU!! Whatever it is you are struggling with in life the process used for this retreat will give you the tools to blast through anything that is holding you back. For me it was ME holding me back!
Does it work?! HELL YES!!
I came on this retreat fully open to taking risks and ready to accept change on an internal and fundamental level. I learned a great deal about the roles I play, when I worked the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. This process was a great break through in seeing how I behave, better than any therapy session I have every had. I was gifted with an amazing AA group where feeling safe was paramount. I had to get used to having female friends and being hugged against my will. 🙂 I have many posts on here that talk about various stages in my growth since 2009.
My personal cast of characters: victim, viking, martyr, judge and jury. I have gotten used to recognizing when these characters pop up, pausing and asking why? I have a great boss who can help me change my perspective if one of my negative buttons has been pushed. My viking is always ready to go.
One thing that I have never been able to do is forgive myself and see myself through loving and accepting eyes. I am always judging the outside and comparing it to others. I always come up short. I look back at pictures of when I was 18 – 24 and I really should have had nothing to be unhappy about, but I hated myself and thought I was fat.
This is how I picture myself in my head so when I look in the mirror now it is a struggle between history and reality. Opening my heart to love myself has been impossible, until now.
The team on this retreat and the women at the retreat are absolutely amazing. The environment is a safe environment. I chipped my front tooth on day 0. Any other time it would have ruined my experience, but somehow I was able to forget about it and get the most out of the retreat. I just followed through on the video interviews regardless. I took pictures with various girls on the retreat and with Matthew, way outside my comfort zone. I am trying very hard not to judge or compare myself. It is all easier today to do this for myself.
Each day builds on the one before and by the end you have all the tools you need to set goals and create a strategy, as well as instill behaviors to attain those goals. We identify our obstacles, mine being ME, and address how to overcome those obstacles. I am being very careful here in describing the process because it is truly unique and extremely effective. If you want to experience a life changing adventure you have to go on the retreat…Matthew Hussey Retreat.
My experience on this retreat was that I got exactly what a came for and more!! I finally made that journey from knowing what a unique and amazing woman I am to feeling it. There are a few processes that we go through that breakdown the walls I put up to protect myself. I was not only keeping you from hurting me but I was not allowing myself in to love or potentially hurt myself. I am very practiced at verbally and physically abusing myself. (i.E.: harsh words, but all so through anorexia, bulimia, bingeing or physically hitting myself) I recognized recently that I actually gave up completely on my physical appearance. We went through 3 processes in the 5 days that blasted down these walls. These behaviors will NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN!! When the urge comes to self judge these images come up:
I AM FUCKING ADORABLE!! I still am and I just have not allowed myself to feel that way or see myself that way. It is going to take work to keep this mindset, but I will, I WILL AT ALL COST!!
I have a huge resource with the other women from the retreat for accountability. I was called up on stage the first day of the retreat and overcame my fear of speaking in front of strangers. When that barrier was broken the rest was all down hill. It took a bit to get used to everyone knowing me and I didn’t know all of them. I have never felt so much love at one time as when these women cheered for me while I was on stage.
By the end of day 2 I felt like, if you don’t like me I don’t care! I was now on my side! I now felt the love for myself that I never allowed before. Little did I know that it was only going to be come more powerful by the end of day 5.
There aren’t enough words to describe how grateful I am to everyone on the team! The men on the team have demonstrated the standard for any man that I will allow in my life. I would rather be amazing and single (I am not alone!) than in a relationship with a man who does not meet MY standards.
There was a wall around my heart, now there is a door, but you have to have the key gentlemen, and I do mean gentleman.
I have only one last thing to share: In my experience we all have different problems, events that cause us pain. We are all at different stages, have different experiences that we are trying to over come. It’s not for us to compare or judge another’s pain or experience it is for us to look inside ourselves and find a place of peace. This retreat works because no matter where you are in this process, if you are open to it, the process will change your life for the better.
Thank you Matthew for being the “Man in the Arena” and pulling this team of amazing people together to change my life!! I won’t let you down.
I finally made it and this journey was life changing as promised. Many of my friends laugh when I talked about the process. Others said that they want to do this but with a family and house it is a huge undertaking. I will say it is a lot of work. You really have to be committed to the process and willing to invest in YOURSELF.
I started this because when I listened to Marie Kondo’s book on Audible she spoke about the emotional and behavior changes that happen as a result of going through this process. Honestly, I wasn’t sure that anything would change behaviorally for me. My habits are deeply ingrained in my life.
I always hated folding clothes and rarely put them away partly due to being lazy, but I found partly due to the fact that the way I stored them I could not see what I had. Not only do I like the folding process that Marie Kondo teaches, but I love the fact that I can see what I have at a glance and my drawers and closet are beautiful too! Also, during this process I found myself caring more about how a care for my clothes and how I look in them. I started to love myself more!
Books and papers really do hold the energy of the words in them. I only have uplifting books in my home now. I had all my paperwork except for current bills. I did not realize the weighed down I was having all of it taking up space. I also burned all of my old journals and items that carried negative energy related to past events and relationships. I can’t describe what a relief that was to have that energy out of my life. It was all holding me back.
Here are some before and after pictures:
Here is a picture of my donations:
The feeling I get when I walk into my home now is calm & happiness.
I actually want to keep it clean and have been putting things away on a daily basis. Honestly, it felt a little weird because I have never lived in a space that truly made me happy. There was always that…I need to, or I have to…I don’t have that voice nagging me today. My self-esteem got a boost too!
Honestly, if I can do this I can do anything!!
This is one of the best things I have ever done for myself!!
This experience of clearing my home of anything that does not spark joy has been surprising. I knew that I would feel better have a more clutter free home, who wouldn’t. The surprise was the emotional journey I went on through this process. Konmari speaks of this in her book, but I really didn’t believe it until I went through the process.
This was an emotional cleansing and yet another angle to look at my life as it is. What is holding me back? Am I happy? What will do I want my life to be? I must create the life I want!!
In October 2015 I felt like I was at a crossroads. I have walked through my past, allowed myself to feel everything I had stuffed away and I found the other side. It’s a strange feeling when all that stuff has been a part me for all these years, it was like losing an old friend. There is a grieving process. When I was through and back in the light I knew I had to move forward into unfamiliar territory. I knew I was going to need help with this process.
I found Matthew Hussey through an interview he did on the radio one morning. I got his book “Get The Guy” on audible and listened to him and watched his videos. I was moved to find out more about his organization. I found his 5.5 day retreat. THAT’S IT!! I knew I wanted to do his retreat. I set up an interview and I was one of the lucky 100 women approved to attend his retreat in May 2016. They have a team that has been working with me up to the time of the retreat and they will continue after the retreat as well. I leave for the retreat on May 29th – IN 8 DAYS!!
I decided in the months prior to the retreat to get things in my home in order before I leave so there are no excuses when I get back. I was looking for books with ideas on how to boost morale at work when I found Marie Kondo’s book “Spark Joy”. I thought, hell ya this is perfect!! I ordered it on Audible and listened to it while I worked. This has been a 2-3 month process to get through this decluttering. I only have the kitchen left and it will be done today. I want to tell you about everything up to now and the emotional decluttering I did during this process.
Over my life I have managed to accumulate tons of baggage that has taken up space in my head and heart. When I first started loading it I could pull without much effort and it grew gradually but so did my strength or tolerance. I continued down paths where i just added to this cart and it just became normal. In the past 5 years I have opened and gone through all the baggage on my cart and my tolerance for carrying it today is nil. I realized during this Spark Joy process that this baggage is now pulling me backward. I decided as part of my emotional decluttering to thank all these things for teaching me the lessons I needed to learn and serving their purpose, but now I am saying good-bye forever.
This process really did set me free, but my friend who allowed me to use her fireplace paid a price for this. During the process of burning the journals, letters, pictures, from years of therapy, relationships that just sucked the life out of me, the energy in those things were released and there was palpable tension in the house afterwards. My friend sent me the last picture. Her husband cleaned out the fireplace and they saged the house to remove any lingering negative energy. I will say once the kitchen is done and the donations have been picked up by Salvation Army I am saging my apartment for good measure.
Also, my creativity level has increased and I have redone a number of pieces of furniture to tie my mismatched pieces together.
My book folding projects completed:
Those are just a few that I did during this time. I have moved things around and I have organized making my apartment feel more like MY HOME than just a place to live.
I do feel so much happiness when I walk in and see only things I love and that give me joy around me. I will say it is not helping get out more, I love being at home so much now.
May 25th, I will be posting the before and after transformation post. All the stuff that is going will be gone and it will be easier to see the ultimate final outcome of this Konmari marathon.
Please tell me your thoughts on this process or ask any questions you might have about the Konmari process or the retreat or just my story in general. Tell me your transformation story.