Well-Intentioned Words

Well-Intentioned Words

Guilty. The heavy word pierces my complacency, as I bestow the gavel-laden sentence upon myself.

There appears no chance for a defense.  The evidence is overwhelming.  In my well-intentioned parenting, I failed on so many levels according to the current standards.

I used the words to encourage my children, “you are strong!”‘ And “everything happens for a reason.”  Did you know those words are equal to emotional abuse according to a recent blog written by a psychotherapist?

When does the intention behind the words get factored into this harsh condemnation?  

This particular therapist says, “well-meaning loved ones are guilty of emotional abuse without realizing it.”  Self-righteous indignation begins to cloud my open mind at this point, slowly morphing into a jumbled defense, I attempt to present to you now.

Words are alive, pulsating with messages delivered from our hearts.  

Experts study body language when someone is speaking because intentions and the truth behind the words can be read from cues outside of the actual verbal communication.  So, when someone says “I’m sorry you feel that way”, which under normal circumstances is an appropriate emotional response, but presents it in a sarcastic and dismissive manner, the invalidation is felt as a stab in the chest.  The point is, what is said is not always as important as how it’s said, how it’s received and whether the heart is delivering it with good intentions and/or compassion.

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

The struggle to say all the right things at the right time to your children or loved ones can be overwhelming, and self-accusations that follow disheartening.  For me, hope can always be found in the heart of the matter.  I have to believe your intentions will be heard, if you speak from your heart, no matter what words you choose.

For all those parents out there that have felt beaten up by the ever-changing standards of “good parenting”, I pass along the words a wise friend once shared with me, “if you love your child, they will know they are loved.” 

Then the only thing you will be guilty of is not always knowing the right words to use.

-Erika K Rothwell

Time Inside a Dresser

Time Inside a Dresser

I emptied out a dresser today.  Most times, dressers are filled with clothes, but mine was filled with memories.  The school, drill team, and sports pictures were enough to make me cry.  It was the handmade Mother’s Day cards and artwork that had me sobbing.

I ask all of you, how is it possible that all of this life passes by us in a few short years?  I know you don’t have the answer, just like me.  The ultrasound picture of my youngest child growing inside of me alongside the framed print of my daughter’s ultrasound carrying my grandchild doesn’t make sense to me at this moment.  For, Time does not appear linear in this moment.  Einstein once wrote, “For us believing physicists, the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”

Julian Barbour, a British physicist, describes time as “a succession of pictures, a succession of snapshots, changing continuously one into another. I’m looking at you; you’re nodding your head. Without that change, we wouldn’t have any notion of time.”

So time continues to be an illusion for those of us who resist the belief in linear time and reject the idea that time is understood past the moment of now.  Our brains struggle to categorize moments in static configurations, to support time being linear, yet it only illustrates linear time as it flows from the changes it senses.

Barbour goes on to outline “Nows” as the true explanation of time, ”We have the strong impression that things have definite positions relative to each other. I aim to abstract away everything we cannot see (directly or indirectly) and simply keep this idea of many different things coexisting at once. There are simply the Nows, nothing more, nothing less.”

I absolutely love how he outlines these nows as taking place simultaneously, outside of linear time, the very moments when you experience a memory alongside today and feel the coexistence.  This simultaneous existence describes my emotional state.  Time cannot have possibly passed, only by feeling the time that is now, unsure of any other moment beyond.  It is the present I feel.  To explain this by such a powerful intersection makes complete sense to me.

This explanation is deep, I know.  My father’s words written in a birthday card to my son when he was only three, as we awaited the arrival of his little brother awakened my memory of his continuous deep examination of time, questioning whether relative or illusory.  And I sense him here with me “Now” although he’s left us years ago.

To me today, I feel as Barbour did, when he stated: ”If you try to get your hands on time, it’s always slipping through your fingers.”

And if that’s true, I understand why I’m unable to grasp this moment in time because it was once there, I feel it now, and as the succession of pictures attempts to move me to accept the change, equal to the notion of time, I choose to hold tightly onto an illusion.

-Erika K Rothwell

You Can Do It!

You Can Do It!

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“Come on Eleanor, you can do it!”, she emphatically told herself out loud, struggling to open her newest prize in the back seat of the car while I was driving.  I smiled from ear to ear.  She’s only four years old, yet she presented a powerful message with her example of persistence, cheering herself on, as her own best advocate.

Lately, I’ve been feeling somewhat overwhelmed with all the things calling for my attention.  With that, disorganized thoughts and actions often follow.  Of course, there is always the list strategy.  Herein lies the problem with my latest lists; they are black holes.  No sooner do I check a box, another box grows from that same box. 

My approach to life’s “to do” list most certainly cannot be referred to as methodical.  In fact, I have been known to veer from one realm to another without any given notice.  This is what my husband refers to as my bubble strategy.  Actually, he just uses the word, “bubbles…” with an affectionate smirk and a long pause at the end to describe my style.

So, you guessed right, my writing is on the list.  And it is not getting much attention lately.  It seems to be the easiest and most forgiving box to ignore, regularly getting shifted to a lower priority.  I am quite saddened by the admission.

Negative talk has been reaching a loud chatter in my mind, for this reason, morphing into procrastination.  Though, all along, there has been a whisper imploring me to just sit down and write. 

After a few weeks of stalemate, the words finally are emerging in rough blobs of thought.  Discouragement stands in my way.  The creative work I believed I could accomplish effortlessly infused with passion begins to elude me.  The beauty of raw feeling appears to be stifled by the burden of a daily task list.  The irony of the black and white words I’m able to write stares at me, paralleling the non-emotional characteristics of a task list.

And I realize, I’ve been here before.  I spent years reigniting my creative lifeline, after snuffing it out with the burden of self-imposed secular aspirations, and financial obligations.  I found hope in my desire to share my experience of reconnection to my artistic self, with others, through my writing.  And this is when the healing happened.  I’m reminded, feel first…words will inherently follow.

If you have ever felt like this, you need encouraging reminders as I do.  Where can it be found?

Observing the simple examples of young children can teach us the greatest lessons.  The struggle to accomplish begins soon after our entrance into this world.  Those who love and support us can help along the journey, but it is self-motivation and self-advocation that fuels our drive.  And as usual in my life, out of the mouth of a babe, my little granddaughter modeled the positivity I needed to emulate.

Think how much more we could accomplish if we simply replaced our negative self-talk with self-encouraging words. 

It sounds rather elementary, but recall how many times, lately, you have actually championed yourself with the three little words, “You can do it!”

-Erika K Rothwell

P.S. For those of you who believe in serendipity, I published this post and celebrated by boiling a cup of tea.  The tea bag quote read, “Happiness is an accomplishment.”