When Talking is Tough

When Talking is Tough


When Men Hurt

When Men Hurt
For many women, it is *weird* to hear a man express his pain, disappointment, or vulnerability.


Let’s look at the social constructs for a quick moment. Men are valued for their financial prowess, aggression, and strength. If you take one look at “the Don,” whether or not you connect with any of his political or social ideology, he is a great example of how men identify with this social construct. 

So what happens when he’s fumbling financially?

When he’s passive?

When he appears to be weak?

What is at risk for him is the loss of respect. And so, for that reason, many men who I interface with in my work simply keep a lid on their pain. 
I remember in a distant land, long ago, when I was convinced my husband had NO feelings. In my mind, I was the only person who felt pain in our equation. The fact that he simply showed up in our conflict with a recital of the facts (rather than his feelings) only confirmed my bias. 

This man does not understand . . . 

But I had it all wrong. 

And now, when I’m working on the male side of a family situation, I'm a lot more informed. There is a lot of pain there for men. And so many of these men really love their wives. For some of them, they express that love through gifts and physical provision. For others, they take for granted “she knows I love her,” never seeing the signs that she has emotionally checked out on him. A long time ago . . .

But men are hurting, too. 

I am directing this post to both men and women. To the men, I am letting you know that you are not alone. I know that society is not accepting of you just breaking down and crying. You have been taught to “suck it up,” and “be a man.” And as a sister of three brothers, mother of three sons, and wife of an incredibly strong man, I want you to know that your feelings matter to us. The pickle is that we as your female counterpart are not always tuned into your feelings. We often rely on your strength. And so, unfortunately, we have imposed some unrealistic expectations on you simply because you are a man. 

And for the ladies. . . 

He wants to be heard, just like we do. And often he is doubly frustrated when he is not heard because he’s not supposed to show *weakness* by saying, “hey, that hurt when you said that.” And if he has hurt you by not listening to you, therein lies a huge opportunity.

Hear him.

Listen for the clues that are telling you about his pain, his frustration, his disappointment. And believe it or not, hearing him first will open up the bandwidth in your relationship for you to be heard. And please don’t mistake this for an expectation that he is going to show up for you right away.  I’m not even suggesting that he is going to get it right. I’m only advocating for men today because, well, they hurt just as much as we do when they have lost connection and meaning. That does not make women responsible for “his stuff.” Rather, it evens the emotional playing field to make allowances for the side who has too often been socially silenced from sharing his feelings. 


Mushroom Pepper Salt

Mushroom Pepper Salt

But we have a problem.

As long as I have enjoyed traveling the menu, I continued to overlook the dish named *mushroom pepper salt*. It simply did not invite me, did not clue me in that it was anything more than what its name presented. I was on a cheese fast one week. [Side note: cheese was one of my abusive partners and it took a lot for me mentally, emotionally and spiritually to finally overcome its power]. So where I would usually go for something with a cream base, or paneer (a delicious handmade cottage cheese), I searched thoroughly for a satisfying vegetarian alternative. 

Mushroom pepper salt. . .

I read more closely than I had in years past. “Prepared with spices” . . .Hm. I’ll give it a try. And while taking my chance, I grabbed another option whose name suggested a harmony of aromatic blends of flavor. Just. In. Case.

The reason I am so angry, dear Indian restaurant, is that the name of this dish let me down. For years, I simply glossed over the cover of this book. Time after time again, this name robbed me of the satisfaction of the most amazing preparation of mushrooms I have ever experienced in my life. 

Dear Indian restaurant, I will find it in my heart to forgive you one day. 

Even the “non-mushroom eaters” in my house converged upon my plate of these expertly prepared nuggets of yumminess. And if my friend, the Indian restaurant, never changes the name of this dish, I speak to everyone else who lacks the insider scoop that you simply should look beyond the name and discover the brilliance. 

I regret to inform you that I have lived my life like mushroom pepper salt. For thirteen years now, I told people I was a “family law attorney.” Blah. Yet as I’ve come out of my bag, I’ve dared to let the world know how much flavor I really have. In essence, I realize I was no different than this Indian restaurant menu item. 

I am Char. I am a loud-laughing, joke-telling, warm and compassionate bundle of brains who sees the sunshine beyond every single storm. And I love people. We are all perfectly imperfect. And, in my book, that is what makes us so irresistibly loveable. 

I’m more than mushroom pepper salt. I’m a force to be reckoned with.

Hello world…you have been sleeping on me. But I now take full responsibility for how I wrote the menu description. My bad.


The Cost of Healing

The Cost of Healing
Excuse my use of the English language for just one quick moment but...

Healing ain't free

Consider the person who you spend the most time with trying to help them through their challenges. Think about the advice you gave them time after time again. Evaluate how they used that advice and whether things changed.

If your friend or loved one took your advice and things got better, that means they paid a price. It was not enough to continue doing the same thing and simply hoping everything else would change. 

The change came from paying a cost. 

The change came from doing something different. 

The change came from accepting some discomfort. 

And for your loved ones who are still in the same cycles year after year?

They were not willing to pay the cost. It's that simple. Healing is going to cost you. It is going to require confrontation of your beliefs. It's going to challenge your perspective. It's going to require decisions that reverse the tide. 

And until we pay that cost...

Nothing changes. 

Secure your own mask before assisting others
And it doesn't matter how much everybody else wants healing for you. . .

Or how much you want to help someone else heal . . .

Your healing is YOUR choice. Their healing is THEIR choice. And you are the only one who can pay the price for your healing. Attempting to subsidize another person's healing only leaves you emotionally bankrupt if they are not vested in their own process. 

And when a person is ready to put in the effort, everything else around them adjusts to their new pace. 


Cut & Water: Designing Your New Garden

I was a drama queen. But I couldn't quite be apologetic about it. Being naturally expressive and emotional, I justified my sensitivity whenever someone would trigger my fear or insecurity. But then I discovered something super simple yet extremely powerful.

Your feelings do not define "the truth."

This was a game changer. When I believed my feelings represented an accurate version of the facts, I defined everyone else, everything they said, and even their intentions based on what I *felt.* So if I felt rejected in the moment, then that meant *you meant to* reject me. If I felt insecure, the reason I attached to the feeling was *you do not accept me as I am.*

I talk about this in my book, how Shrek encouraged us all to be super comfortable in our *ogre form* of unhealed trauma.  

Don't go changing to try to please me....

But Shrek's serenade to the princess was only partly true. Nobody should feel pressured to change for the purpose of trying to please another person. This is great foundation for all intimate relationships. You cannot be someone you're not and expect someone else to finally accept you. 

Yet, simply inviting the princess to remain in her ogre form left her without accountability for areas where a little introspection goes a long way. 

Change from being easily triggered because you desire healing. Heal because you desire the peace it brings. 

And that brings me to the scissors and the watering can.

Cutting away lies
hen I learned to tell myself the truth--to be brutally honest about myself, I began to see a little more clearly. I cut away the lies. Lies that assumed another person's bad intention because of my feelings when I was triggered or felt threatened. Eventually, I cut away most assumptions I held onto about people. Those assumptions were my security blanket, a protective mechanism, to explain away my hurt feelings without taking a more thorough inventory why did that hurt me this way?

Watering truth
Next, after cutting away the weeds of my belief system that did not serve me, I planted new seeds of truth. I learned to speak to myself the things that I longed for others to say. Soon, by affirming myself, I simply taught everyone else around me how to treat me better. Taking the lead in *how to love me* is a frightening endeavor. But if I'm not the one to step up to the plate, I potentially doom myself to spend the rest of my days waiting for someone else to love, nurture and cherish me. 

Cut and water. Repeat.

I want to encourage you today. Maybe you have felt nobody else truly values you. Perhaps you have been busy speaking, yet it seems nobody is listening. You may even feel invisible, or alone in a room full of strangers...

You have all the power you need to show up for yourself. You can begin telling yourself the truth and cutting away your doubts, fears, and the lies you've told yourself. Clear the ground of your new garden. Plant desireable seeds--your favorite truths, hopes and dreams. Water your seeds each and everyday. Before you know it, others in your life will be attracted to the beautiful smell of your blossoms and the sweet aroma of fresh new fruit.

Before you know it, you become a whole honey blossom. 

Be kind to yourself
And the same way flowers take time to grow and blossom, your new mindset--your garden of loving truth--will take a season or two to fully grow in the way you want it. But I promise you it will be worth your effort, time, and energy.  

And you will be surprise how others can't help but enjoy more of your awesome. Inspire them to join your party and experience your newfound joy, laughter and peace.


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