Posts tagged grief

It’s Not You; It’s Me.

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[PREFACE: The relationship did not entail any bickering or unresolved issues. His reliance on the “It’s not you; it’s me” argument brought about his unilateral decision to end the relationship. Given the shock to me, only in retrospect could I put together the two clues and the one gut instinct to which I did not give proper credence.]

I once based my world on the Love of a lifetime. When the object of my affections withdrew, I broke. My long-held dismissal of marriage evoked an attitude that, within the bounds of a relationship, if my partner no longer loves me, then he needs to leave. However, once I felt the bond of Love to which I had laid my soul bare, relinquishing the attachment tore apart my heart and my mind.


Within the laws of the universe, he didn’t do anything to me to which I did not implicitly consent. He owed me nothing but a courteous good-bye. I am the one who based my world on this Love that I felt and that he ultimately did not. I endorsed his freedom to make his own decision about Love, choosing “me” or “not me.” How could I do otherwise?


The disappointment so complete, I am left to puzzle the damage. Political correctness suggests that I wish him well, but I do not.


In fact, I resent that he ever comes to mind, sneaking in when an empty space in my thoughts or something reminiscent occurs. Sadly, his abandonment will never go away so I must manage the impact. The best I can do with the fact that our past will always be part of my life in the sour way that curdled milk feels at the back of the throat–too late to un-swallow–is to put less importance on his interference in the present, neither inviting nor resisting it.


With time I hope that the ill he brought upon me will transform robbery into apathy. If his leaving makes room for a more suitable relationship, my appreciation for the turn of fortune may well instill a cautious optimism.


Now I know what it feels like to be decimated by someone who claimed to have loved me at one point and then chose not to love me when the time came to choose. If you know what it is to grieve for the living and need guidance along the recovery process, please Contact Vanessa Landau, Resiliency Trainer, for Co-Creative Transformation, and we will invite a paradigm shift that brings clarity.

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This Wasn’t Supposed To Happen!!


Anastasia lost her job. Bonnie received a cancer diagnosis. Conrad became a victim of an apartment robbery. When we encounter turns of fate that are unfavorable and unexpected, we confront emotional distress. However we interpret the experience and whatever emotional material it evokes, we cannot avoid the reality of the situation.


Faced with loss, illness, hardship, injustice, the ability to respond effectively may seem impossible. But we can gain insight into our process of making sense out of difficulties when we observe the process of GRIEF. A theory that I find useful in coping with the death of safety and security proposes five stages set forth by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross in her treatise entitled On Death And Dying:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

These stages are not discretely linear. Stages may overlap, and prior stages may be revisited in the course of healing.


Given the benefit of this knowledge, we can work with GRIEF, allowing ourselves to feel the emotions that come up and giving ourselves permission to be patient with our particular process. We can proactively cope with our reaction by journaling, by talking with a trusted friend or counselor, by joining a support group, by relying on or building a support network, and even by engaging in recreation, e.g., exercising, and by serving others.


Many times we do not have control over losses, illnesses, hardships, or injustices, but we do have control over our attitudes and behaviors in response to them. Why not take control where we have it!? Approach the process of GRIEF with permission and intention. We will then shape our emotional landscape, exercising the STRENGTH and POWER to move forward, and regaining the FLEXIBILITY to be at ease again.


If you desire a way to better address crises and grief, please Contact me, Vanessa Landau, Resiliency Trainer, for Co-Creative Transformation–Resiliency Coaching–and I will guide you in making attitudinal and behavioral changes for the better.

To view other blog entries, click on the left or right titles above the current blog title.

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I Beat the Odds and Won the Lottery



I grew up in a home that was riddled with domestic trauma–verbal, emotional, physical, sexual abuse. Everyday life would unfold around common family activities, and I never knew when the next implosion would come but always tried to anticipate and escape it. Hypervigilent, I faced my daily life in a climate of fear and dread. My parents were ill-equipped to cope with their own experiences and emotional material; they could scarcely manage to rear their four children.


At some point in my teens, I entertained the notion that, if “God” is Love, then Love is “God”. A stream of scenarios occurred to me as I pondered and tested this theory. And I arrived at the supposition that, if I can live from a place of Love, I can align my motivations, outlook, and behavior in accordance with the Universe, and the principles of justice and compassion.


Presently, my view of the “Most High Source” has evolved; it is more complex and less anthropomorphized. But my earlier realization that Love is “God” allowed me to establish an ideal: If I love and love well, then I will fulfill my humanity. The legacy that my parents imparted threatened to skew my perspective and compromise my heart. Yet I learned by doing the opposite of the examples that my parents set. This fact saddens me sometimes, but it proved an excellent strategy for avoiding the perpetuation of a damaging legacy.


I naturally connected with Love because I yearned for it. And I knew, as the Beatles professed in their song, The End, that “the Love we take is equal to the Love we make”. My early experience further taught me that Love, if it is true, must be free and not bargained; otherwise, it is not Love. Later, I heeded the advice that, “when at a crossroads, choose the path toward Love”.


Paying attention to examples of Love in the wide world, I nurtured and preserved myself by focusing on examples that affirmed my learning. Kahlil Gibran’s chapter on Love in The Prophet provided an exquisite jumping off point for meditations on Love early in my life. I have indeed loved. In addition, others have loved me, and my heart has received their gifts. I beat the odds of an upbringing that could have led me to imitate “God”-forsaken examples of human behavior by, instead, attending to the yearnings of my heart and by offering Love as an exercise of good will. I won the lottery in my meditations on Love.


If you desire a way to readily foster Love within yourself and for others, please Contact me, Vanessa Landau, Resiliency Trainer, for Co-Creative Transformation–Resiliency Coaching–and I will guide you in making attitudinal and behavioral changes for the better.

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Freedom from Death

Emotional hurts have a way of making a lasting impression while all the big and little daily happiness-es can run like water through a fist.

I have been faced with hurts that have been difficult to clean up. One in particular was the loss of one of the great loves of my life. Losing my bearings and stalling on my life course, I became vigilant about preventing such vulnerability from happening again. So, I asked myself, “Self, if you found a loving partner and he leaves, would you regret allowing this person close enough to hurt you?” And Self hesitated.

Would anybody ever be worth that kind of power over me? The more interested I would be, the less willing I would be to take the risk. I would have my heart and mind trained to receive familiar signs of impending danger–red flags. However, with my heart and mind trained to notice every red flag, every possible joy would figure less prominently through that lens. That orientation would only lead me entertain the affections of someone whose hurtfulness would not mean much. This is a position of resiliency impairment, defeating the whole purpose of being in a relationship with someone whom I could love deeply and and who could love me deeply in return.

My only recourse from defeating my wish for another great love involved grieving the original loss and regaining my strength, or courage… and deliberately so. To grieve deliberately requires that I allow the thoughts and feelings where I resist letting go (grasp) to be expressed–thoughts, feelings, and physical discharge (crying, yelling, hitting pillows, etc.). To facilitate this, I need to allow someone else to witness my expression without judgment or personal commentary.

One way that I find helpful to guide the grief process involved Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ model from her book, On Death And Dying–denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. By focusing my attention on each stage, I have my say; whereas I had not had my say in the death of the great love. One way to gain perspective on the situation was to view it as a story: I called it “the loss of one of the great loves of my life.” I explained it as “he left me.” I described it as “heartbreaking,” saying “I absorbed the blow.” How else could I tell the story? The result of the call to grieve deliberately enabled me to release my resistance to the death of a dream.

Every grief is different between one person and the next and, for the same person, between one situation and the next. The time required to diminish the pain of grief likewise varies. If you are enduring a grief for a longer period than you would like, I can help. Contact me, Vanessa Landau, Resiliency Trainer, for Co-Creative Transformation–Resiliency Coaching–and I will accompany you along the way.

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Is That A $100 Bill On The Floor?

I have a $100 dollar bill for you… if you want it. Yes?

Well, what if I wad it up in a ball. Do you still want it?

Now what if I stomp on it repeatedly with my filthy shoe? Do you still want it?

Finally, what if I tear it in two? Do you still want it?

The reason why we still want the $100 dollar bill is because no matter what abuse it suffers, it retains its inherent worth. And isn’t this so about the human being?

We face insults and rejection. We get our feelings hurt. We endure heartaches. We fail. How ever we experience a diminuation of self, the truth remains that we retain our inherent worth.

What then is the loss of self-esteem subsequent to troubles that shape our life? The illusion that good fortune in life affirm our goodness and bad fortune in life punish our badness defines a “just-world hypothesis.” The reality, in fact, indicates that bad fortune visits good people and good fortune visits bad people. And the only reason why this is so, according to HEROES, pertains to the universal purpose of life–lessons. Nowhere in the process of this universal purpose is there a down-side to high self-esteem; it only reinforces the love, the responsibility, and the healing to ourselves and to others.

No matter what other people may think, say, feel, or do about us, we must safeguard our life by building and never forfeiting our self-esteem. This means, we love ourselves, even as some may neglect us and withhold the emotional nourishment we need. We get our needs met elsewhere. We adhere to values and principles that embody high self-esteem, and find social support to reinforce them. We “walk the talk,” honoring our word to ourselves and to others. In so doing, we foster resiliency and prepare to thrive.

Tell me how you preserve your inherent worth. If you struggle with low self-esteem, I can help. Contact me, Vanessa Landau, Resiliency Trainer, for Co-Creative Transformation (Resiliency Coaching), and I will guide you in the re-emergence of your inherent worth.

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What Makes a Resilient Person Think Well

When, at times, a person asks me what makes me resilient despite an upbringing and youth that was so damaging, I first think about how I was no different than anyone else. I feel the self that is me and feel ordinary in my extraordinari-ness. I believe anyone else in my situation could have responded as I did. But the inquiring person tends toward doubtfulness. Then I consider what made me rise above my circumstances.

First, I knew instinctively that the way I was being treated at home and later at school was wrong. It was not loving and supportive. It was abusive. It disconfirmed my humanity. The way I was treated felt awful, and so I decided that such behavior was the opposite of how I would treat others. I learned a lot by doing the opposite, and it prevented a good deal of heartache on my part. For example, I stayed away from drugs and gangs, vandalism and crime, truancy, and pregnancy. A few key exemplary figures demonstrated kindness, appreciation, and compassion and these influences shaped my principles and values.

Second, I noticed that many people around me insisted that their way of life was correct and anything different was wrong. History is littered with examples of this type of human defensiveness and the wars that breed from such narrow perspectives. As it happens, I became the “identified patient” to my mother, and she did plenty to make me think that I was crazy. She achieved her aim in part as my emotional woundedness prompted me to see myself as flawed. This perspective enabled me to get help to determine out what WAS wrong with me, and this willingness to get help early made it possible for me to address my problems.

Third, I had a great affinity for stories of heroic figures in history. The lives of Helen Keller, Anne Frank, and Martin Luther King, Jr. were among those that spoke to my own desire to embody strength, endurance, power, and other resiliency competencies. Given the challenges, hardships, and adversities that I faced in my youth and young adulthood, I had to leverage my wherewithal to cope with pain; and I often felt that I was not resilient because my lack of ease over-shadowed the ease that ultimately characterize people who are resilient. Now I believe differently: Resiliency is the process that moves us through stages of coping–impairment, succumbing, languishing, synthesis, and thriving.

I have visited all the stages of resiliency according to the H.E.R.O.E.S. model. The challenge is to keep our resiliency status evolving, moving ever upward toward thriving. We all have the native potential to thrive, regardless of how difficult the process. The opportunity for resiliency always exists, and we must find it. And we must know that we are each extraordinary. We are born of free will so that we may be our own HEROES.

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