Reframing the Truth in an Old Story

Monday afternoon my left eye started hurting.

Not bad. Just a dull ache with a need to blink it more. Then a feeling it wasn’t focusing quite like it should.

I ignored it, until that evening when I happened to catch a glimpse of it in a bathroom mirror. I recoiled at my bright red and angry eye.

Urgent care diagnosed it as pink eye.

I started the drops that evening yet kept waking up throughout the night because of eye pain.

The next morning was better, but by mid-afternoon, my eye had pretty much gone on strike.

I called my sister.

“I have pink eye,” I whined.

She was sympathetic.

Sitting on the couch, talking about nothing really, I realized I was scared. Thoughts of having pink eye as a teen were pushing themselves to the front of my brain. And they were not pretty.

I didn’t realize it then, but the past and present were starting to collide. A perfect storm was beginning to brew. A storm that would influence my thoughts, fears, ideas, emotions, and actions more than I would care to admit.

The past influences our present life until we start talking about the past, asking questions, and reframing the story to include new truths.

 

The past influences our present life until we start talking about the past, asking questions, and reframing the story to include new truths.
The past influences our present life until we start talking about the past, asking questions, and reframing the story to include new truths.The past influences our present life until we start talking about the past, asking questions, and reframing the story to include new truths.The past influences our present life until we start talking about the past, asking questions, and reframing the story to include new truths.
Reframing the truth in an old story, with a little help.

 

“Remember when I had pink eye as a teen? Maybe at 12 or 13?” I ask.

“Oh yes,” she answers. “I felt sorry for you. Mom said you were contagious, so I stayed away from you.”

“I can’t believe she never took me to the doctor,” I sigh. “Each day I woke up unable to open my eyes because they were so crusted. I would stumble down the hall and try to get water on them and pry them open. I remember losing all my eye lashes and being embarrassed for months.”

“Oh Theresa,” she murmurs, like a good listener.

“Do you remember I had it for two or so months because I kept infecting myself?”

After a month of pink eye, I thought I was cured. But then a cycle of off and on again developed. I would get better for about 3 days a week, then get it again for about 4 days. This cycle kept repeating itself. I kept wondering what was wrong until my piano teacher, on a day when I was well enough to go, said I needed to change my pillow case because I was re-infecting myself. I changed my pillow case and never got it again.

“I am so sorry,” she says. “Mom should have helped you. It was irresponsible of her.”

I start to open my mouth to defend mom, to say she was probably too busy, but instead, replay my sister’s words through my grey matter. ‘Mom was irresponsible.’

I had never connected this idea to this story. “I guess she was,” I say.

“She was not only irresponsible, she was being selfish,” my sister adds.

I want to shrug it off, but I slowly realize she is right.

“I remember feeling sorry for you, lying for weeks in your bedroom, unable to come outside and play that summer.”

Suddenly I am back in the bedroom. “I couldn’t read, or watch TV, or even spend time with the family because the light hurt my eyes. I spent hour after hour in my bed with my curtains drawn tight.”

“It was wrong,” she adds. “Mom should have helped you. Should have changed your bed and pillowcase. Taken you to the doctor. ”

“We all know mom isn’t a good care giver.”

I feel frustration in my sister’s voice. “Theresa, she wasn’t being a good mom. Tell me, what would you have done if your daughter had pink eye and couldn’t open her eyes in the morning? You would have been in there with warm washcloths, oil, or something to help her unstick her eyes. You would have been helping her.”

And with a sinking feeling, I realize she is right. That mom was to selfish and preoccupied, or what ever excuse you want to make, to see me and my situation and help me. I was the one who had to change my pillowcase and clear my eyes and help myself.

My sister is right.

If my daughter had pink eye, I would have been taking her to the doctor. Washing her eyes for her. Getting her books on tape. Spending half the day in the bedroom with her. Doing everything I could to help her.

The past influences our present life until we start talking about the past, asking questions, and reframing the story to include new truths.The past influences our present life until we start talking about the past, asking questions, and reframing the story to include new truths.

 

The past and present collide.

 

Over the next several days, I thought about my sister’s words. Especially as my eye got worse and I began experiencing stabbing eye pain and extreme light sensitivity.

It turned out I didn’t have pink eye. An ophthalmologist took a look inside my dilated eye and said I had a dangerous infection inside my eyeball. He gave me new drops to take every hour.

I got home from the ophthalmologist and my left eye, which had been dilated twice in two and a half days, refused to even open. I lay in bed that afternoon. Sleeping. Trying to avoid the emotional and physical pain that was threatening to pull me under.

Finally, I got up, wandering around in a dark house where every curtain and shade was drawn to stop the stabbing pain, which light caused. My eye still would not stay open more than a few seconds.

I did the loop through the house several times. Trying not to think. Feel.

And as I circled through the kitchen yet again, my left hand over my left eye, I began crying.

All I could think about was when I had pink eye and how miserable I had been. How I had been confined to my bedroom because the light hurt my eyes. Memories I hadn’t remembered experiencing, rushed back like a powerful wind

I was angry at my mom for treating me that way. For being indifferent to me and my suffering and expecting me to take care of myself. For being so preoccupied with her own life she didn’t see my pain or care that I was lying in a dark bedroom day after day. I was angry that I had to deal with and treat my own pink eye, when I didn’t know what to do.

And as I sobbed, I realized I didn’t deserve the treatment I had received.

I had never questioned the pink eye incident, until my sister had asked me how I would have treated my daughter if she had pink eye. Now I was seeing the incident through my adult eyes. Not my child eyes of accepting everything-as-it-comes-viewpoint and thinking that was just the way it was.

I sobbed at the pain mom’s indifference had caused. And how I had just blindly accepted it, thinking silently it was all I deserved.

And I sobbed because now I was stuck in a dark house until who knew when, with a pain riddled eye that wouldn’t even function like it should.

The past influences our present life until we start talking about the past, asking questions, and reframing the story to include new truths.The past influences our present life until we start talking about the past, asking questions, and reframing the story to include new truths.

 

What to do when the past and present collide.

 

Ther purpose of this story is not to scare you about eye problems, make you sad, or to garner your pity for my pink eye and eye infection, incident.

The purpose is to remind you that sometimes the past comes crashing into the present and it knocks us off our feet and sends us down the drain of emotions we were not expecting. Often, we are not prepared for them or even want to deal with them. And yet, there they are, making their presence known. They are like growling and hungry dogs who do not want to back off from their prey.

My eye infection incident would have been smoother and less traumatic if the past pink eye memories had not come crashing through the door and knocked me over and caused me to doubt the truth of an old story.

And my guess is this happens to you. Because it is part of life. A comment causes more pain when it reminds us of past hurtful comments. A rebuff by a friend stings worse when we remember past rebuffs by other friends. Even if they are from 25 years ago. And an injustice feels magnified and to heavy to carry when it brings up painful memories of past injustices that occurred to us.

When this happens, we need to question why this happening and what is influencing our feelings and emotions. Because often the strong emotions or feelings that we are experiencing are being driven by some story from our past. Some past event, memories, injustice, or other catalyst.

Running from the strong feelings and emotions won’t help us deal with them and heal from them. What will work, is stepping back and tying the two together so we can begin to see how the past is influencing our present.

If possible, talk to someone who can help untangle the truth from the lies. Someone who will help you reframe the story. See the story in a different perspective. And remind you of the truth. (Just like my sister gently did.)

Isn’t that what God does for us? He reminds us we have a purpose. That he loves us. That our story is far from finished. That he is rewriting our story. And no matter what, he is on our side.

When we apply his words to our life, they separate the lies from truth and helps us focus on what matters.

The past influences our present life until we start talking about the past, asking questions, and reframing the story to include new truths.The past influences our present life until we start talking about the past, asking questions, and reframing the story to include new truths.

Seven ways to deal with the past and present colliding.

 

1. Pay attention to the past and present colliding. Take time to think about the two and see connections. Masking the hurt or running away from the hurt will only delay the healing.

2. Try and figure out how the past is influencing the present. Ask questions. Why? What belief or self-truth am I dealing with? How does the past make me feel and how is it still making me feel today? What can I do about it? How can I deal with it? How can I put the past to rest?

3. See the past story through the eyes of another person. This is why talking to someone is so important. They will question and see things you don’t. They will remind you of what is normal and what is not.

Trying to see the story through a character of your story is also helpful. This can help us realize that the person we thought was the villain wasn’t as much a villain as a victim or a hurting person themselves. It also makes it easier to forgive them.

4. Reframe the story so it is now closer to the truth. Retell the story and now add you new awareness or truth. Doing so often allows us to shower both ourselves and other participants in the story with compassion and grace. (It can also help us choose a different path when confronted with a similar scenario.)

5. Pray about it and ask God to heal the hurt.

6. Allow yourself to grieve and heal.

7. Use the incident to better understand yourself and others.

When we talk to the right people, ask ourselves questions, and reframe the story, we can begin to diminish the power the past has on our present. We also better understand the influence the past has on us.

The past influences our present life until we start talking about the past, asking questions, and reframing the story to include new truths.

P.S. My eye started feeling better in a few days, and is on its way to a full recovery.

Thanks for stopping by. Keep remembering what’s important.

Theresa


Having trouble enjoying life? Reconciling your current reality with how you wish life really was? Get a free PDF with 12 tips to help you enjoy your life right now. Subscribe and join the journey. You will also receive weekly encouragement and hope tied up with some humor. Because life is sweeter when we walk alongside one another.


Join the discussion: What helps you when the past and present collide in your life?

The past influences our present life until we start talking about the past, asking questions, and reframing the story to include new truths.

May link up at Kelly Balarie (#purposeful faitht), Crystal Storms (#HeartEncouragement), Maree Dee (#Grace & Truth), Anita Ojeda (#inspirememonday), and Mary Geison (#tellhisstory).

The past influences our present life until we start talking about the past, asking questions, and reframing the story to include new truths.

The past influences our present life until we start talking about the past, asking questions, and reframing the story to include new truths.

To the Woman Who Gets Hurt by Words

We hadn’t been married that long when my husband said, “Theresa why do you take everything so personally?”

Which offended me more than his previous comment had, which yes, I was taking personally.

Does this happen to you? Do you find yourself bristling, mentally arguing, and feeling beat up from other people’s comments? (And we are not talking about comments from our enemies or less liked tribespeople. We are talking about comments from people who love you. People like your mate, kids, friends, and co-workers?)

I know I did every time my husband tried to give me constructive criticism, offer reminders, give advice, or be helpful.

It happened with small thing.

“Turn on your blinker,” he would say while I was driving, and I would think he was putting down my driving ability.

It happened with bigger things.

“Do you think it’s the baby’s bedtime?” felt like he was questioning my ability as a mother.

“That dress does not look as good as some of your other ones. I wouldn’t wear it again,” made me think, “What does he know about fashion?

It didn’t take long before we fell into a predictable habit.

I would silently fume and bristle, and he would think I took everything to personally.

Now before you take sides, I want you to realize it was my perceptions about myself that was derailing me. His comments were just highlighting the false expectations I had of myself.

To the woman who gets hurt by words, here are 9 tips to deal with hurtful words.To the woman who gets hurt by words, here are 9 tips to deal with hurtful words.To the woman who gets hurt by words, here are 9 tips to deal with hurtful words.

When our self-perception gets tied to our worth.

 

I grew up craving approval from my mother.

I also thought I needed to earn love. And one way to earn love from my mother and God was to be perfect. Or so I thought.

Being perfect was my goal. And for a short while I thought I was succeeding more than failing.

Then I got married. And then children came along.

And I slowly realized I was striving for the wind and was far from perfect. Ultimately it didn’t matter. Because God and others still loved me.

Eventually I realized that the dance my husband and I engaged in was partly my fault.

I would pout. Get silent. And sometimes lash back because I felt my husband was being critical, putting me down, and pointing out my faults / weaknesses. How could he love me if he started seeing my flaws? Or so I thought.

I was full of insecurity, and it was showing. Big time.

I was taking his advice, his reminders, his helpful opinions, and turning them into attacks and put downs.

I was putting me worth into my performance (my desire to perform at near perfection and feeling shame when I didn’t).

I wasn’t putting my worth in who God says I am. Worthy forever because he is forever worthy.

I wasn’t allowing myself to be human and make mistakes.

I was forgetting that God’s compassion never fails.

And I forgot my husband had compassion too, and that he saw my weaknesses and still loved me, just like God does.

It wasn’t all his fault.

My self-belief that I had to be perfect was tripping me up. Causing me to fall into self-shame, blaming others for my reactions, and the feeling of “not being enough” over and over again.

To the woman who gets hurt by words, here are 9 tips to deal with hurtful words.To the woman who gets hurt by words, here are 9 tips to deal with hurtful words.To the woman who gets hurt by words, here are 9 tips to deal with hurtful words.To the woman who gets hurt by words, here are 9 tips to deal with hurtful words.

Hurtful words versus helpful words.

 

Advice. Helpful reminders. Different opinions. Criticism. All these can be hard to take graciously. Hard to hear. And I am talking about loving, constructive criticism, not mean-spirited criticism that is disguised as trying to help you put downs and attacks. (And yes, I know many of us have been on the receiving end of this type of negative and soul crushing criticism more than we can count. I am in no way condoning this type, nor do I approve of it masquerading as being helpful or loving. Because it is not.)

But sometimes those who love us are trying to help us in a loving manner. And we need to hear their words. And perceive their words as trying to be helpful, instead of instantly thinking they are finding fault with us and trying to shame us.

A lesson which took me awhile (okay years) to learn. And one I am still learning.

It is something I am trying to teach my kids. When I lovingly correct them, I am trying to help them. Yes, it can be hard to hear we are not as perfect as we believe ourselves to be, but to grow we need some loving feedback.

Not only did I need to change my perception about myself (needing to be perfect in order to be loved), but I also needed to change my perception about criticism (not all criticism is bad).

Now I am not saying I have achieved perfection in this area, or even success, but I will say I am getting better.

To the woman who gets hurt by words, here are 9 tips to deal with hurtful words.To the woman who gets hurt by words, here are 9 tips to deal with hurtful words.

9 tips to deal with hurtful words. 

 

Here are some things that have helped me deal with words that seem hard to hear. Words that I immediately bristle at and want to define as an attack:

1. Ask if there is any truth in what they are saying. If the truth meter does not register at least 60 -70% truth, then don’t waste your time trying to evaluate if their words can be useful. (They are probably just attacking you and speaking in anger.)

2. Pause to look at the situation from their point of view. Are they trying to help you? Remind you? Hurt you? Their wording may not be as mild as you would like (and something you would definitely tweak if you could), but are their intentions good and pure?

Separate what the person is saying from how they are saying it. My husband is direct, a man of few words. He gets right to the point, which tends to catch me off balance. I want a paragraph and maybe some side stepping before you step on my toes. But that is not his style. Over time he has tried to be less harsh and I have tried to not get so offended by his launching right into his message.

3. Limit your self-talk to the actions they are talking about. Not you as a person. Being late does not make you a bad person. It only makes us human. Don’t start beating yourself up and make it bigger in your mind when someone is only addressing an action.

4. Don’t get hooked by their comments. Separate yourself from the criticism. Look at it from outside your body, as if you are your friend, and evaluate what is said. Our instant response is often generated by our self-perceptions and past and may not be the intent of the speaker.

Ask yourself, what is the goal of the person who is speaking? To get you side railed. Upset you. Vent. Bring up the past. Help you. Etc.

5. Tell yourself the truth, especially God’s truth. You are more than your actions. Loved faults and all. Especially after harsh and critical words that leave you wounded.

6. Realize everyone is entitled to their own opinions, thoughts, and perceptions (which will often be different from yours). So, they don’t like your yellow paint. You do. Agree to disagree and try not to take it personally.

7. Take responsibility for only what you can control. Your own actions and thoughts. Not their thoughts, words, anger, perceptions, etc.

8. Try to catch yourself (even if it a day after the incident) when you jumping to shame and blame because that is how you were raised or because it is your default method or internal self-talk.

Determine if a false self-perception is tripping you up. Are you thinking you need to be perfect? That everyone is out to get you? That you are not loveable with faults? That if people only knew the truth they would not like or love you? That you will never be enough? Are you trying to prove your mother, father, coach, or someone else wrong?

9. Run the words or scenario past a friend and see how they interrupt the scenario.

I do this a lot with my sister. Having an unbiased opinion often provides a lot of clarity. Sometimes she reminds me that I am making too much out of the situation and to just let it go.

To the woman who gets hurt by words, here are 9 tips to deal with hurtful words.

Change takes time.

 

I know this is a long list.

And no, neither your or I can do all of these tips with every situation, or even during the conversation. But we can do many of these after the conversation and see if our initial response was correct or false. We can see if we need to take the words to heart or toss them aside.

We can replay the scenario and decide what we would do next time. Which prepares us for more success in the future. And allows us to learn from the incident.

We can become more aware of the words others are using and how those words are causing us to miss-perceive things about our self and them.

Like always, give yourself grace. Lots of it. Life is a process of learning and growing.

So, celebrate your steps on this journey, no matter how small.

To the woman who gets hurt by words, here are 9 tips to deal with hurtful words.

Thanks for stopping by. Keep remembering what’s important.

Theresa


Having trouble enjoying life? Reconciling your current reality with how you wish life really was? Get a free PDF with 12 tips to help you enjoy your life right now. Subscribe and join the journey. You will also receive weekly encouragement and hope tied up with some humor. Because life is sweeter when we walk alongside one another.


Join the Discussion: Do you find yourself sensitive to words? How do you deal with hurtful words. 

To the woman who gets hurt by words, here are 9 tips to deal with hurtful words.

May link up at Kelly Balarie (#purposeful faitht), Lori Schumaker (#Moments of Hope), Crystal Storms (#HeartEncouragement), Maree Dee (#Grace & Truth), and Kristin Hill Taylor (#porchstories).

To the woman who gets hurt by words, here are 9 tips to deal with hurtful words.

To the woman who gets hurt by words, here are 9 tips to deal with hurtful words.

 

The Illusion of Control

 

When we were dating, my hubby-to-be said that no child of his would pick their nose.

How this conversation came about, I don’t remember. Maybe we were talking about pet peeves, or maybe we were stopped at a stoplight and there in the next car was a picker. Or maybe there was a small child nearby with his finger up his nose, grossing out my hubby-to-be.

I remember saying, “Really?” After all, I felt I had a bit more experience on this topic. I had a brother and sister 16 and 13 years younger than me and I had babysat little ones. In my mind my experience stacked up pretty high, compared to his lack of experience

“Yes. No picking,” he said with authority.

I remember just laughing a little and saying, “What are you going to do? Put corks up their nostrils?”

I was wise enough at that time to realize that you could no more stop a child from finding his nose hole, than you could keep water from leaking out a cracked cup. But I was not wise enough to realize how little control I had over the rest of life.

I was young and believed that with my daytimer and careful planning I could control my life. Certainly, my day and week. This is what I had been led to believe and what I thought was true.

While I was single, I did feel I had more control over my life. My direction and choices.

Then I got married and had kids, and, well, you know what happened. My sense of control ebbed from my hands. Plans were changed. Schedules changed. Surprises popped up time and time again.

Controlling the day or the Week was all an illusion. An elaborate magic act that never turned out the way I thought it would.

 

Examples of illusion of control.

 

Murphy’s law is alive and kicking sat my house. If it can, it will. And if it doesn’t, I may just jinx the results myself. I have come to realize that if I write it down on the calendar or in my daytimer, it does not mean it will happen, get accomplished, or abide by the time rules I was expecting.

My doctor’s appointment may be at 2:00, but the doctor often comes sliding in at 2:45. (Sitting there wishing he would appear earlier has never worked.)

I plan to do A, B, and C tomorrow, and then in the middle of the night a child comes down with some stomach bug that involves purging one’s stomach most of the night.

I plan to rake leaves, and then it rains. I think about sitting down and relaxing and the phone rings with someone needing a listening ear. I plan to go to bed early, and a child needs mom time. I schedule 5 hours to sew a toddler’s dress, and 11 hours later it is done.

Now this doesn’t mean that chaos reigns at our house. No, I control enough things just enough of the time, or maybe I should say that I get enough things done on my to-do list and abide to or fulfill enough things from the calendar, that I sometimes feel I can control my day. Maybe even parts of my life.

And then something happens. I burn dinner. I have one of those days where I seem to accomplish nothing. The calendar falls apart. More interruptions abound in my day than dust settling on a sun splashed table. Emergencies poke their annoying head into my plans. I have to laugh once again at how little I can control my life.

How the illusion of control is a lie.  

 

I have this silly little notion that it is MY time. MY life. MY plans. When in fact it is God’s time. The time he gives me is a gift. And it is no longer my life, but I am bought and paid for and serving a new master. One who is a better planner and scheduler than I am. And as for my plans, well that sounds like I am the only person living in this family. Maybe this neighborhood. Yes, when I say my plans, it sounds a bit selfish and as if I am not taking others into consideration.

We live in a society where we are told we can plan and organize and control our life. Our future. Buy this daytimer. Use this organization system. Set these goals. I am not saying any of these things are wrong or bad. I use these things. But I need to be careful that I don’t really buy into the idea that I can really control my life and future. Because if I do, I may end up frustrated when my plans get thwarted. My day re-arranged. My goals changed or delayed.

I need to be open to new plans. New goals. New directions. I need to trust that God has got this under control. That his ways are far better than mine.

Because the idea that I control anything is an illusion. An amusing joke. I can’t even control myself, more a less my day, my future, my children or hubby or anyone else.

 

The only thing I can really control.

 

But I am not called to control anything . . . but myself. 

Paul talks about self-control. Not controlling our day. Our years.

Controlling myself is a far harder task than trying to control my week. Maybe that is why I would rather try and control my day and time. It seems easier and more manageable than trying to develop self-control or trying to control myself. Self-control involves controlling my tongue, emotions, words, thoughts, and deeds.

Self-control is hard. It is not a goal I can accomplish in a month or two and cross off my to-do list. It is not even something I will ever master in my life time.

It is a day by day, hour by hour task. One that seems almost an impossible task at times. One we can not do on our own. We need help to develop self-control. God gives us help in the form of the helper, or the Holy Spirit.

No, I am not called to control anything . . . but myself.

I am called to develop self-control. I am called to place the reigns of control I have in my creator’s hands. I am called to see my time as his time. I am called to change my plans to his plans. I am called to enjoy my days and weeks, not control them.  I am called to love others, not control others.

 

Remember these 4 things when it comes to control.

 

1. Strive for self-control, not control of your life or days. The first you really do have complete control of.

2. Strive for God’s timing, not your own. His is always better.

3. Make plans and goals and set items on the calendar, but hold them loosely and be open to them being changed.

4. Develop a sense of humor so you can laugh back at the illusion of control and when it falls into pieces. You will be less frustrated when Murphy’s Laws or surprises show up to poke holes in your calendar and toss your afternoon plans out the window. Or when your future looks different than how you planned.

Or when your plans for having children who don’t pick their noses . . . goes astray.

You can guess the ending, can’t you? 

 

I think you know what happened. Well, you do if you have any experience with children and trying to get them to do or not do something.

They are as hard to control as ourselves.

Back then I was laughing at his comment that no child of his would pick their nose. But now with the passage of time, I am laughing with him. Because I have said so many things with authority and conviction that were about as silly as what he said.

When it comes to ordering your future kids, you need a sense of humor, because we really have no control over that.

You know what kind of kids we had, don’t you?

Of course, you do.

The same as most everyone else. Pickers.

Thanks for stopping by. Keep remembering what’s important. 

Theresa

If you need some weekly encouragement and hope, tied up with some humor? Subscribe and join the journey. Life is sweeter when we walk alongside one another.


Join the discussion: What are your thought on controlling life? How successful have you been?

May link up at Jennifer Dukes Lee (#tellhisstory); and Holley Gerth (#coffeeforyourheart), Lori Schumaker (#Moments of Hope),  Crystal Storms (#HeartEncouragement), Arabah Joy (#Grace & Truth).