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The Way of the Tree

So many times I have wanted to go back to sometime in the past that was good, at least better than what I was currently experiencing. Or what I thought at the time was good. But as I grow older and wiser, more experienced in truth and the consequences of actions, I am so happy that I could never go back. Through abusive relationships that punished me, physical pain that made me want to die, emotional pain that broke my spirit - all these I have overcome.

I learned that to love one man meant not loving myself, and to love another man was to not honor my intelligence, yet another was to not protect my children. Through all that I learned to trust myself again, to acknowledge and honor that I was highly intelligent, and to give of myself to all who needed someone to trust including my children. And the child within myself. No matter how strong I am, how solid, how capable, how dependable, how loving, how brave, how independent, there are still times that I am sad, vulnerable, lonely, and still in physical and emotional pain.

When people look at me they don't see the scars, the throbbing of my body in pain, the concentration I need to use to push past and through. I doubt I am alone in that. I imagine we all have in us such limitations of one sort or another. Maybe the key to inner peace is learning that we move among points on a continuum of turmoil. Perhaps the secret is to allow yourself to bend with the forces that pull and push you, yet be able to maintain a sure, irrefutable centered-ness. If I were able to teach that, it would become my life's work. Perhaps at the end of my life it will show that I did teach it.

I wrote awhile back (January 16, 2018) that I have a deep connection to trees. So much so that I physically hurt when I see a clear cut, or trees removed to make way for people's expansion. I feel that same hurt when I see people struggling with life. I struggle with life. My tears come when the pain in my neck, shoulders and head become too much. My tears come when the pain in my heart becomes too much. My tears come when someone shows me the love I have offered them. Life is not easy. We must teach our children how to be centered in their own capacity to grow, flourish, fail, fall and still go on. That is survival. That is the way of the tree.

If we hover over them, shadow them, we are teaching them that they cannot be trusted, that they cannot trust in themselves. We are born into a family without a choice. We are nurtured according to those family rules whatever they are. Young people may think that once they turn 18 they will be treated as an adult and that they will feel like an adult. If one doesn't feel capable as a child it will be very hard going for them as an adult. Once we become an adult we have new expectations and new social rules and new demands on our time. If we don't feel we can handle these we won't be able to. That causes mental exhaustion and depression because we don't feel like we are stepping up to the plate, providing for our family, succeeding in the workplace or in relationships. It gets very uncomfortable so then maybe we self-medicate. That may ease the stress in the present, but it simply complicates matters, deferring the stress and doesn't solve the problem.

I was talking with a friend tonight about the residual emotional effects of WWII on survivors and families of survivors, and the general population during times of war.

I have always thought, with a nod to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs below, that if we don't feel safe we cannot access the higher levels of love and belonging, esteem and self actualization. When we are so focused on survival we don't have time or energy to do anything else. Maybe that is one reason why the middle east and parts of Africa is constantly warring - they have never learned how to grow beyond the perceived need for self-protection. PTSD is rampant not only with military veterans but with children and adults who have experienced unsafe upbringings. We need to give our children the tools to look through the eyes of the competent survivor. Then they will survive and hopefully teach others the value of peace.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

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