A Lion is not a House Cat

My first therapist made an illustration for me that was so impactful that I’m still telling sharing it with others today.

I was sitting on her sofa, ranting and raging about my mother. I was telling about how she manipulated me, tried to shame me for saying “no” because she was my mother, how she told stories to me of how someone else’s children loved them to make a comparison. It was all toxic narcissist behavior but in the earlier 2000’s the word narcissist was not tossed around as it is now.

When I got finished with my rant and tears of pain my therapist said, “Dana you treat your mother like a house cat but she is a lion. If you continue to let her in your house and don’t keep her on a leash, she will slice you and dice you. If you don’t want to get eaten up then treat her as what she is a lion.”

I think that therapist illustrated what Maya Angelou said: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.

Just because a lion is roaming the streets freely doesn’t mean he’s tame. Our deception is when we put a label on someone that we love and care about we don’t want to believe they have the capabilities to hurt us. We want to make believe that the lion is a house cat. We keep allowing that person to come into our homes which is our safe space without setting boundaries. We continue to allow manipulation, control, gaslighting, and triangulation. Triangulation you know that thing people do to devalue you through comparison to invite jealousy, insecurities, and doubt?

Let’s stop make believing and start believing what people show us. Let’s remove the label of family, partner, and best friend and let the animal show you who they are through their behaviors. Let’s stop treating lions like house cats.

Cinderella Story

Have you ever heard someone’s story and thought How is this possible? They tell the story as if it’s magical, like a Cinderella story. Two particular people come to mind when I think of Cinderella stories, the first is Tyler Perry from homeless to self-made billionaire and the next is Steve Harvey from living in his vehicle for 3 years to Emmy award-winning.

I grew up believing in miracles. My childhood church taught healing the sick, having faith, and much more. But my mother struggled as a single mom instilled in me that better days are coming. It’s what gave her hope and kept her waking up another day. If you grew up poor, homeless, struggling, and living paycheck to paycheck then I know you get it. It’s all there was, to believe in a miracle because if you asked anyone how do you get there, no one knew. Just keep praying, having faith, and hoping it works out.

I believe the difference between those with the Cinderella story and those who are not there yet is that they are not moving on instinct. Instinct will guide you when it doesn’t make sense. Instinct will give you answers when you cannot find them in the text. It’s our God-given central intelligence that we often dismiss due to objectivity. Basing our decisions on external data rather than subjectivity, our feelings and beliefs, not to be confused with trauma.

Instinct is more than just having faith, hoping, and praying, instinct is about knowing. And that knowledge comes from allowing that small inner voice to guide us. But here is the kicker, if you are not still, quiet, and in touch with your spiritual man, you will miss it. It’s always there but we miss it because we refuse to stop. We refuse to quiet the mind, pray, meditate, connect with nature, and find our spiritual man.

I believe that Tyler Perry and Steve Harvey had a lot of quiet time during those years they were homeless. They weren’t watching the news, emailing, texting, calling, and scrolling social media just to compare themselves. Those are not options when you are homeless. You have one option and that’s to have faith and trust your instinct if you wanna survive and have a Cinderella story.

Sit With Me in the Dark

I was walking the Beltline in Atlanta the other day when a little girl maybe around the age of 10 rolled passed me on her scooter. Earlier I had passed her and her parents so I knew they were right behind me. All of a sudden she lost her balance and fell. You could hear the skin scraping on the concrete path. After she stopped sliding, she paused and jumped up. I turned to make sure her parents were as close as I thought they were and while I was looking at them saying “Ouch”, her dad said, “That’s one tough girl.” While he was telling me that simultaneously we heard her cry but her cry wasn’t just about physical pain, it was about embarrassment, it was about her pride. She called saying, “I’m not very good.” She kept saying this over and over with tears streaming.

I felt so bad for that little girl. She kept saying “I’m not very good.” until I could no longer hear her due to walking out of sight. I felt so strongly to go back to her and say, “You are doing great.” I wanted to tell her that Colonel Sanders got rejected over 1000 times before he succeeded with Kentucky Fried Chicken, and I wanted to tell her that Walt Disney was rejected over 300 times before Mickey Mouse came to life. I wanted to tell her about Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan, Henry Ford and so many more. I wanted to tell her that it’s okay to fall 7 times and get up 8 times. I wished I would have because I never heard her parents say one time that she was doing good or to stop saying that because it wasn’t true. I never heard them support her while she cried insecurity.

Not having support or very limited support my entire life from my parents, grandparents, or authority figures, makes my sensitivity to it off the spectrum. I believe support is a must to heal. I encourage everyone to find at least one person that can support them through thick and thin. People isolate, grieve and feel alone because of a lack of support. We are not supporting people like they need to be supported. I know because I talk to these people weekly. I hear them, see them, and have much compassion for their pain.

Jesus says in Matthew 5:42 “Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” I read that and think that he is not talking just about money but anything that anyone needs. And “borrow” means they will return it when you need it. That is how it is supposed to work. Support and love one another.

Let’s try to remember the next time someone falls, fails, or cries for help to support them as we are called to support.

Anger Management

The abandonment wound is real. When abandonment survivors are conditioned to self-abandon and leave themselves to not rock the boat, to meet someone else’s needs, to be loved, and/or to be accepted the lines can get blurred quickly.

Underlying rage and anger bleeds into fear and this is where it gets messy. We rather suppress the anger to go along, not rock the boat, to be loved and accepted or we explode like a volcano. Sometimes there’s no gray. It’s rather black or white. It’s what happens when we are not taught to express our feelings transparently.

It’s what happens when it’s one parent or caregiver’s way or no way. If we go against them we fear we’ve disappointed them or fear the wrath of not going along and the implications are just not worth it. It also happens when authority figures such as teachers, bosses, pastors, etc.. give us no room for our thoughts or feelings. Putting us in a box only makes us want to get out.

I have a vivid memory of a teacher that told me I had the worse penmanship ever. This was after she told the 5 kids in front of me that they were doing great. It was her opinion, her thought on my writing. She never asked me what I thought or how I felt about it. From that day on I stopped trying to improve. I thought “Who cares I’m already the worst.” Although I said nothing I hated that teacher from that day forward. Suppressing hurt and anger for fear of getting in trouble.

And just because we say nothing doesn’t mean the boiling pot isn’t boiling. It just hasn’t boiled over yet. It’s why we need to create safe spaces for people to express how they feel without fear of judgment or abandonment.

Then there’s the avenue of “Don’t leave me.” so we keep silent to be loved. This is where we let it roll off like water off a duck’s back. Emotional abuse continues as we endure our pain. We suffer until we decide we can’t suffer another day. Until we reach the point of no return or we rise from our ashes rebuilt like a Phoenix rising. Sometimes that can take more than half a lifetime because we are warriors. Suffering, pain, and endurance are in our DNA. Nobody knows anger management better than a child in an adult’s body with an abandonment wound. Sending hugs and love to every who gets this!

Love ❤️ is the Target 🎯

If your son, daughter, mother or father or someone you dearly loved was gay, queer, bisexual, transgender, or plus would you be posting the viral videos of Target’s new attire? Would you be so judgmental?

Note that Target is behind. They are not the first major retailer to launch attire for PRIDE 🌈 month. Nordstrom has been on that game for years. Amazon carries LGBTQ-plus attire too in case you have a Prime membership.

Maybe you didn’t pay attention to the other retailers but because Target is your go-to, your preferred retailer to buy things you don’t need you now want to boycott the store. You want to post public videos threatening to take away dollars. Better start looking for your next go-to retailer because it’s here and it’s here to stay.

We are in the middle of a revolution. Half of us are trying to be more loving, more compassionate, understanding, kinder, and more gentle, we are trying to heal from trauma, our pain, and suffering. We are trying to forgive those that meant no harm for what they unknowingly did to us. Because we are only as conscious of the level we have experienced. My mother had blocks and so did your mother.

The other half is trying to narrow the path by excluding anyone who they believe is not right. Who is anyone to say that you are correct and they are wrong? Let’s say you are right and we are wrong. Now what? Do you get a moment of recognition? Did you get the “Right” award? And this makes you closer to heaven? Help me understand the purpose of excluding people, judging them and you getting the honor of being right.

Judging, controlling, instilling fear, anger, hating, and exclusion are all things from the ego. None of the above is from God! None of the above is like Jesus when he walked the earth. If you wanna be a disciple then be accepting, nonjudgmental, kind, and loving, and stop instilling fear just because you’re scared. The lenses of fear look different for everyone.

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” John 15:12

“Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Luke 6:31

“Do everything in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:14

It’s Time When It’s the Right Timing

In 2020 after the pandemic hit, I started writing a memoir about my relationships from childhood to adulthood. I wrote raw truth that I’ve kept vaulted for the most part. In 2021 after my moving back to Atlanta I continued writing and finished a very important part of my life. I also joined a well-known publishing community for support but then in 2022, I stopped writing.

I thought I had stopped writing due to being in the market for a home, at least that is what I told myself. “I don’t have time to write.” I’m coming up on a year of living in my new home and I still haven’t written the first word. I’ve thought about it, prayed about it, and questioned my motivation. When I search for the answer I find it.

My perspective has changed. The way I looked at my life from 2020 to today is two different stories. Yes, it happened but I wouldn’t write it with undertones of anger and grief. I would write it as a story of healing and compassion for not just myself but for others. And if I’d finished it in 2022 as I had intended then I would’ve left out a big chapter of what I am living now.

Sometimes we hit speed bumps, yield signs, and even stop signs because it’s not over. If we are racing to the finish line, what’s the point? To say I did it? To have that moment of recognition that quickly fades? We miss allowance. Allowing things to unfold as they have been prepared for us not as we see they should be done.

I think it’s important to remember not to get attached to outcomes. The outcome is coming how it’s coming but when we get attached to how we think it needs to be then we are limiting ourselves and often breaking our hearts with disappointment.

And never think that pain doesn’t have a purpose. Every loss, pain, grief, and suffering we have survived will be a gateway to a purpose. There is no way I could guide participants in my sessions if I didn’t understand where they come from. It’s hard to empathize with those who have been abandoned emotionally and/or physically if you’ve never experienced it. I’m not even sure you can relate to anyone in a narcissistic relationship unless you’ve lived it because nobody understands it or believes you. From pain to purpose is a gift. A shared gift to others.

No matter what you are seeking today, a book deal, a recording deal, that one piece of art that puts you on the map, a new relationship, a job, a new career, a new home, whatever it is pay attention to the speed bumps, yield signs and stop signs, for they are there for a reason. What is coming to you and specifically for you is not going anywhere. It’s been there the entire time and it will be there when the timing is right.

Angel vs Devil Wars

Do you remember seeing a cartoon that showed a devil with his pitchfork on one shoulder and the Angel with his halo and wings on the other shoulder? Most of us have seen it in many cartoons like Fat Albert, Tom and Jerry, The Simpsons, and many more.

It’s how I illustrate the difference between our ego and our essence. It’s how I describe being open with your heart, mind, and body and being closed. It’s an illustration that resonates with most. The image of that cartoon stuck in our heads. It stuck because somewhere deep down we related to it.

Every day and all day long we make unconscious decisions based on our ego. The ego never sleeps.

“Ego. It’s a tiny little word with humongous power.In our society, we assign so many misbehaviors and misdeeds to the all-powerful ego that we might be excused for thinking we’re not actually in control of our actions-we’re all just slaves to our egos. The social psychologist Elliot Aronson argues that our ego is always at work trying to maintain a consistent, justifiable place in the world. It is laboring to justify everything we do, to prove that we have a role here, that we belong. “ Disruptive Thinking ~ T.D. Jakes

When most think of ego they think of arrogance but ego is much deeper than appearance, image, or relating to our security. The unhealthy ego consistently tells us lies. It implements fear, insecurities, anxiety, worry, mental chatter, ruminating, and keeping us up at night. If that’s not enough it’s emotionally reactive, which brings in depression, sadness, shame, and narcissism just to name a few. And where does the need to control come from? The ego. I could go on and on but anything that thinks or feels bad, closed, unhealthy you can sure bet that is the ego in the form of a cartoon devil standing on your shoulder to tell you something not true.

Let’s remember we do have a real role here and it’s to help each other not hurt each other. Wear your halo proudly and don’t get stuck with the pitchfork. How are the angel and devil showing up on your shoulders daily?

Stop Normalizing “Happy”

Can we stop normalizing the word “Happy”? Yesterday was Mother’s Day and everyone keeps saying “Happy Mother’s Day” but everyone I spoke to was everything but happy.

Truth be told, people are suffering. They are grieving over losses. They are suffering from the loss of their childhood, their childhood wounds, the wounds of abandonment, and the emotional abuse they endured as a child.

Parents are suffering in deep pain over the loss of their child due to suicide or a school shooting which is an epidemic. People of color, particularly our black brothers and sisters are suffering the loss of their children and fear every time their child walks out the door.

Generation X are grieving due to the recent loss of parents to the grave or parents declining health and they are emotionally and physically exhausted from taking care of them.

If you don’t agree or resonate with anything I’m saying then you may be part of the unresolved issue. But here is what happens when we normalize the word “happy”, it makes others feel alone. We look on social media to see everyone else is doing great but we are not so great so now we feel even more isolated, alone, and separated from the world. Isolation is a behavior and an indication that emotional health is declining.

We have a real life epidemic worse than COVID, it’s called debilitating mental health. Mental health issues is what’s really going on and if we are not going to contribute positively by supporting others directly then support indirectly by not normalizing the word “happy”. Acknowledge the majority are suffering and social media is a lie!

Maybe we need to change the words to “Here’s to Healing, or Thinking of You” for every occasion to acknowledge pain with compassion and empathy. To acknowledge empty seats and empty beds where loved ones ate and slept. Maybe we need to acknowledge that nobody is alone and whatever we are dealing with, it’s not “happy”.

Mom’s Broken Mirror

“As newborn babies, we arrived in the world with natural, innate needs that had to be met for us to develop into mature human beings. However, even in the best circumstances, our parents inevitably could not meet all of our developmental needs perfectly. No matter how well-intentioned they were, at certain times they had difficulty coping with our needs, especially those that had not been adequately met themselves. As babies, it is our nature to express a wide range of emotions and states of being. If these qualities are blocked in our parents, they will feel anxious and uncomfortable whenever those qualities arise in us. This made our infant selves anxious and unhappy.

If, for example, a baby is expressing her joyfulness and delight in being alive, but her mother is depressed, it is unlikely that the mother will feel comfortable with the baby’s joy. As a result, the baby learns to suppress her joy to keep the mother from getting more upset. Another baby with a different temperament might cry or make stronger attempts to get a reaction from the mother, but no matter what response the baby uses, her own joy is not mirrored. It is important to realize that these reactions did not occur because our parents were “bad” but because they could only mirror the qualities that were not blocked in themselves.

This limited- and often dysfunctional–range of behaviors and attitudes becomes imprinted on the child’s receptive soul as the psychic backdrop that the child brings into life and all future relationships.

As a result of unmet infant needs and subsequent blockages, we begin to feel very early in life that certain key elements in us are missing. Naturally, this feeling creates deep anxiety. Our innate temperament likely determines how we may respond to that anxiety, but no matter what our later personality type, we eventually come to the conclusion that there is something fundamentally wrong with us. Even if we cannot express it in words, we feel the tug of a powerful, unconscious anxiety our Basic Fear.” – The Wisdom of the Enneagram by Don Riso and Russ Hudson

No matter our personality type we have blocks. Our mothers had blocks and their mothers had blocks and all the mothers before them had blocks. Release, forgive, and heal. 💕

The Voice

There is a voice that lives inside of us. God created every single creature with intuition. He created the animals of the wild to know when they are in danger, he created the birds of the air to know which direction to fly, he even created the cockroach to know when we are after them. And all of the created creatures listen to that voice except for human beings.

It’s because we dismiss the voice over our thoughts, our feelings, and even our trauma. Trauma tells us about an experience we had in the past, trauma allows pain, gripes fear and anxiety but intuition is that small voice that gently says things and guides us.

It’s a gift that we utilize as a curse because we know “I stayed too long with him/her.” “This isn’t working for me but I’m gonna hang longer.” We curse ourselves by dismissing what we know is true. Every bad decision I have ever made went against the voice.

Slowly, little by little we as individuals are being stripped of our identities. We have face recognition, and fingerprint recognition, technology tracking our conversations, our location, our shopping habits, our “likes” and even who we are attracted to on relationship websites. The one thing that cannot be taken away is our central intelligence. Our God-given intuition. There will never be a man, society, or government that will be able to take away what you have deep inside of you and that’s the voice.

Hold on to the gift of the voice. Appreciate it because it’s our gift to protect us and guide us. It can never be tracked or taken away. It’s yours and it can not be replicated. Listen to the voice.