Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Hidden worlds

Isn't this a stunning photograph by Corey K. of Union Theological Seminary, with the spire of Riverside Church behind it? I live among such beautiful buildings in my neighborhood. This image probably speaks to me right now because I am having a quiet crisis of faith. I am not a particularly religious person. My favorite part of any church service is the singing because the way a congregation of voices weaves and vibrates feels like prayer to me. But I do believe in God and the human spirit. I do not say it out loud very often, because it sounds like blasphemy to some and I'm not interested in proselytizing or convincing people of anything, but I believe God is the spirit inside us, expressed in how we treat each other, most present when we are being loving. As for that heaven in the sky, I have no idea. I would like to think that what I learned in science class is so, that energy cannot be destroyed, and there is a realm where I will be reunited with my loved ones who have passed on, but who knows? Since I don't, I choose to think my father, who died seventeen years ago this month, is watching over me. And if it's all fantasy, I won't be any the wiser when I'm gone. But this isn't what my crisis of faith is about. The challenge I am having is in loving myself. My self-talk is so unforgivably harsh, I feel so wrong, and as a therapist noted in a story I was editing yesterday, "When you fail to accept yourself, you accept that others won't accept you too." I sometimes play with the idea that our universe is plastic, that it mirrors back to me whatever I send out, and arranges itself roughly according to what I believe to be true. If this is so, then I need to get busy changing my beliefs about myself right quick, because it feels as if the universe is kicking my proverbial behind. It's not really visible to other people. It's all happening in the world inside me, challenging me to confront myself, to be so much kinder to myself, to heal the places that hurt. All my life I have depended on the world to give me back a vision of myself I can live with, that I can embrace, and now it turns out that this is a trick I will have to master and perform for myself.


  1. I feel and do as you do. The advise given to me was to take a sheet of paper and draw a line down the middle. On the right side write the negative thing you are thinking about yourself and on the left side counter that with a more loving, positive thought. It is supposed to change your brain after awhile and you'll be able to start doing this in your head after you write for awhile. We let each other know how it works. You seem like such a kind and beautiful person through your blog. But I know how that internal negative talk goes. I know only too well and I feel for you can it can be a personal hell sometimes. I hope you can change this to see what we see here. S. Jo

  2. I believe so strongly in the practice of mindfulness meditation -- mainly because of the way it sneaks up on you -- the practice, over time, gently nudges you toward self-love and then outward. I believe this.

    This is a beautiful post, Angella -- I am particularly drawn to this sentence: "I sometimes play with the idea the our universe is plastic, that it mirrors back to me whatever I send out, and arranges itself roughly according to what I believe to be true." I will think about this all day.

  3. "All my life I have depended on the world to give me back a vision of myself I can live with, that I can embrace, and now it turns out that this is a trick I will have to master and perform for myself."

    That is so true and I know you can do it now that you realize it. Bit by bit. Little by little.

    About church and faith, I'm with you. The music is it for me too.

  4. Oh yes. I feel so aligned with you in all of this. I grew up in a Lutheran church that taught us so often about loving our neighbor, but never about loving ourselves. But how can we love anyone else if we don't love ourselves? And if we accept that all souls are related, then loving ourselves is loving others at the same time. I hope you can send yourself some loving thoughts. You are so good at sending them to others.

  5. So many of your words spoke directly to me.

    Religion, my hopes to rejoin if not my family, at least their energy, someday, and on the flip side, as my dad always said if there's really nothing when we die, we'll be the last to know, connecting with the music, not so much the words or deeds at church, and then, that self loathing, struggling on the inside, trying to smile on the outside...

    here's my latest theory. Late mid-life and menopause are so much harder for women than puberty and growing up ever were. I an unbecoming in every sense - I don't recognize the face in the mirror, the old hands that can't be mine, the weariness and heaviness I drag around most days that wear me down, trying not to dwell, trying to be a better person than I am to those who need me, and I don't know how to help myself here. I have had so many existential crises of conscience and consciousness in the last decade that I'm afraid the unsettling may be permanent, I'm still trying to find solid ground, acceptance and some peace with me and this life. It's so hard not to think big heavy thoughts lately, and I just wish I could remember how to lighten up and have fun without having to work at it or fake it.

    I think we could talk all night about these things, and I thank you for putting it out here so we can know we aren't alone in these moments. For what it's worth, we love you.


    1. This comment rocks. Thank god for the solidarity we women can find --

  6. It's so hard, Angella, and every wise woman who has commented here before me has an amen for that one. No one really talks about this- how very, very hard it is for women as we reach an age in which we are changing so very rapidly and not in a way that takes us to all of the grand adventures we know are coming but to a place where those adventures are nothing more than memories.
    Add to that the way our bodies begin to betray us and it's just too much sometimes. And yet, we still think that our roles are to help others. To be the strong ones in the center of it all and why? Why do we think this? I think that part of loving ourselves may be in learning to say no to some things. And of course, yes to others.
    I don't know. I'm tired, I'm aching, I'm confused. But I do know that I am very much aware of what you're talking about and I love you for verbalizing it all so well.
    Let's all hang in. All of us. And know that we are not alone.

  7. You have been on my heart, lately, and even though I have been out of touch, I wanted you to know that.

    Like you, I like to believe that those who have transitioned on are still "here" because, as we learned in science class, energy never dies. That is such a simple concept, yet it is sometimes very difficult for our very concrete minds to accept. Why? Why do we almost want to make it unbelievable? I feel my brother's energy so frequently. I believe that he still exists in a different "form" so why can't I just accept that as absolute truth? I read a quote the other day by David Foster Wallace that said, "Acceptance is usually more a matter of fatigue than anything else." We seem to be at an age that is very fatiguing on the soul of a woman and because of that, we want to know the answers to some of the "big" questions. I'm not sure how it feels to anyone else, but to me, it has a very impatient tone to it which can really grate on my spirit if I allow it to. I get the feeling that you seem to be experiencing the same sort of feeling.

    Hang in there, sweet girl. I often think that if I can make it patiently through this stage of life, things might be smoother later on. I'm not sure why I believe that, but I do. It could have something to do with fatigue and acceptance and giving in and believing but it is definitely all a process.

    I hope that all is well with your beloved husband and your beautiful children:) Take good care, beautiful friend.

  8. I am just reading these comments and referring back to your post and just. . . wow. I love that I am in this community and that you trusted us with these thoughts. I won't provide words of affirmation to blanket what you feel. Instead just know that your words have given us all more space to be imperfect. For me, it made me love you more.


  9. There's so much wisdom to consider in this stirring post and the thoughtful comments. Thanks so much for sharing this personal side of your journey. I feel or have felt so many of the same emotions you've been dealing with and hearing the voices of other women mostly echoing a similar story comforts me in a way that makes me excited to get on with things.

  10. Everything I wanted to say has already been said here in these comments. Wise words, everyone.

    Many thanks, as always.

  11. Be assured that there is nothing good about any of us apart from our Heavenly Father, and the more you come to truly participate in a very close and personal relationship with Him, the easier it will become to accept why He has made you as you naturally are. Okay, I should have said that it will become somewhat less difficult instead of easier. For I still hate "myself"--despite now fully understanding that I am just as much a work of His hands as anyone else, and that He will complete the good work that He has started in me. I suppose the best way to explain it is that we are asked to walk a tightrope between not thinking too highly of ourselves when we are good and not hating ourselves too much when we are not, which is a great over-simplification. For we would do well not to think of the good as being of ourselves while being willing to take full blame for the bad until He tells us otherwise. Have I got you more confused than ever yet?

  12. Such amazing and thoughtful comments you have left here. Truly this is a beloved community, so embracing and generous and healing. Thank you, sweet friends. My love.