Why Petunias in the Fall?

It began with a journey to the far side of the sea.

A few years ago, I moved to China with my husband and daughter, leaving behind our two college aged sons. What was supposed to be a new experience and great adventure quickly morphed into misery. Ambushed by homesickness and the crushing realization that everything familiar to me existed seven thousand miles away, I ran the gamut of emotions–regret, guilt, sadness. All while existing in the fog of culture shock. 

About a month later–sometime in September–Chinese workers replaced subtropical begonia-type flowers, in the street medians, with petunias. I love this flower because it’s easy to grow, prolific, and beautiful. While they didn’t ease the homesickness, they provided comfort–a piece of home–in the moment. With time, and a visit from my boys, the homesickness eased and eventually disappeared.

Over the years, as a Social Worker, Grief Recovery Specialist, and writer, I’ve learned one thing for certain: loss, change, heartache, and pain are unavoidable. Sometimes we see the loss/change on the horizon and brace ourselves for the onslaught; other times, more often than not, the rug is ripped out, and we’re left grappling for anything that will offer a little support and comfort.

Having experienced an inordinate amount of loss, I’ve also learned the only true way to heal a hurt is to walk through the storm, attempt to understand the pain, and try not to make too many detrimental choices in the process. Ignoring or masking the pain, in any form or fashion, forces it to lie in wait.

I’m on a journey to feel good.

My self-esteem has been squashed and I want to repair it. I recently went to a continuing education program that focused on how the core beliefs we develop as children influence how we cope later in life.

For example: My dad left when I was two and half. My mom remarried a physically abusive man and divorced two years later. For three years, she was single but absent much of the time because she worked. Then, she married a farmer. I was ten, and my life changed on a dime. This man turned out to be mentally abusive. I’ve not been one to fear abandonment, as might seem appropriate, but I’ve developed some other insecurities that like to rear their ugly heads from time to time.

Most of those insecurities I buried as a teen. When I met my husband, acquired family, and had three amazing kids, I lived on a mountain top. Or so I thought. Until two years ago when my husband met someone else. After twenty-five years of marriage, I was alone and unwanted. I returned home from China in pain and uncertain what was going to happen to me?

The core belief I learned from watching the single most important adult in my life–my mom–was that I needed someone else to take care of me. I could not do this alone.

I’m learning I can do it alone, but my self-esteem has suffered a crushing blow, and I keep reliving so many of my childhood memories that have influenced how I view life and feel about myself. I think this is good. Examining childhood experiences affords perspective today.

I’m going to examine my core beliefs more closely as I read Dr. David Burns, M. D. book, Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy. I’ll share some snippets and my impression as well as some incredible stories from my childhood. I’ll bet a story or two will come to your mind, and I hope you’ll share.

Note: I’m not endorsing this book, and I don’t receive any sort of kickback. I’ve just heard it’s a great book for examining core beliefs and changing patterns of thinking.

Today’s comfort assignment: Look into your childhood and find one good memory. Remember it and smile. You are special.

Feel free to post. I would love to read about your positive memory.