Monday, January 7, 2019

Art as Therapy...Alain de Botton

“Growth occurs when we discover how to remain authentically ourselves in the presence of potentially threatening things. Maturity is the possession of coping skills: we can take in our stride things that previously would have knocked us off course. We are less fragile, less easily shocked and hence more capable of engaging with situations as they really are” 

Alain de Botton, "Art as Therapy"

We were heading into court, again.  I was exhausted, emotionally and physically.  I just wanted to move forward...from the manipulation, lies, cruelty, and the campaign to destroy who I was.

I was trying to stay positive.  I was at a Zumba class with some of my absolute favorite women on the planet.   At the end of class, several of them gathered around me to get an update on the situation.  Many of them had been through similar scenarios - the misuse of the justice system, using children as pawns, the aligning with family members to drive you out, the lying lying lying that seems never-ending.

I broke down, in tears.

"I'm afraid, the only way that I will be able to win in court, is if I them"

I would have to become vengeful.  Spiteful.  Jealous.  Stonewall progress or therapy.  Lie to authorities. Dig in my heals and brush them aside like unwanted trash...because that's what they were doing to me, and I felt that "just keeping my head high" was not going to work.

These beautiful women gathered around, shared their stories of triumph over tragedy, and then said "we need to pray"

Hands clasped and heads bowed, in that circle my dear friends prayed that I could maintain my integrity, spirit, heart, and soul as I faced this trial.  No lies could maintain their power, only the truth and my love for my children would be victorious.

Whatever your spiritual beliefs may be...the circle of souls that came together and BELIEVED that I was capable of maintaining WHO I WAS gave me such comfort and helped me remain calm, and be court.

The situation is a constant battle for reasonable compromise, integrity, and honesty.  Just being treated like a human being is something I can barely hope for.  But...I have grown.  I have matured.  Sometimes only harsh situations can strengthen our minds and bodies.  And, because I am now less fragile, the bald face lies and being dismissed as if I was a bug on the windshield don't nearly effect me as they used to.  In fact, the lies cause me to burst into laughter!

I ran into an old neighbor the other day, and she was telling me that for a few months she had to navigate the horrific Atlanta traffic to get to her job every day.  After a while, her daughter looked at her and said "Mom! What is WRONG with you?  Why are you miserable?" 

My neighbor realized that the daily stress of dealing with traffic, the anxiety of facing the horrible commute every day, was making her miserable.  She quit her job, and was gleefully back to her true self.

Facing horrible people, and the anxiety of facing them again and again, can make you miserable.  Get to know who you really are.  And, if you have to deal with horrific traffic or difficult personalities or financial troubles or whatever it may be...remain true to who you are.  IF the it a marriage, a family dynamic, a job, etc...forces you to become something you are not, then it's time to move on.

Hopefully, you will have the time that I have had, to study, meditate, and focus on what REALLY matters, so that the crap that doesn't matter can no longer effect you.  You will begin to see lies as exposing a deeper truth: the weaknesses and lack of self-confidence or  inability to change and grow in the liar is what causes them to's all they have left.  Truly happy, confident, fulfilled people have no reason to destroy others.  

Be who you are.  Be creative or caring or adventurous.  Be loving.  Be patient.  BE CURIOUS.   Explore the magic of your mind.

Eventually, you can drive in traffic and see it as the perfect speed, the perfect situation.  Eventually, you can begin to spend time with family again, because you see their personalities as who THEY are, not a reflection of who you are.  You can engage with situations as they really are, with deeper understanding and strength.

Spend a few minutes every day reminding yourself WHO YOU REALLY ARE.  Listen only to the TRUTH within you.   Remain authentically yourself, even in the face of potentially harmful situations.  See the situation for what it really is.  Then be yourself. No one can take that away from you.

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