If you stand under a bird’s nest, you increase your chances of getting pooped on.
I don’t think this is a real ancient Chinese proverb…but it could be…
This insightful analogy came to me on a walk around the block tonight with my adorable, stubborn, sweet and spicy 2 year old lovie hobbit. We came to a place on the sidewalk with quite a bit of bird droppings. Of course – directly above was the source…a nest. I’ll save you the suspense…we did not get pooped on.
But if we had hesitated – we probably would have gotten it – the chances were definitely high. It made me start thinking about choices…the obvious or not so obvious choices that we make in life.
Specifically – about how it seems like I had been standing under the birds’ nest of life for so many years.
Perhaps I was thinking I was standing under the strong shelter of a tree. But the real truth was that I was just standing there…getting pooped on! Now, the OBVIOUS thing would be to move on – real quick like…and get out from under that nest, right?
I was talking to a lady last night. She had heard about my story. She knew my background of physical and verbal abuse, neglect, sexual trauma, abandonment…etc. What an ugly list. She wanted to talk to me to try to understand her adopted daughter better. Yes – I am like a carnie attraction…I may start charging fees…people might come from miles around to see the incredible freak show bird poop of life survivor…
This young woman is apparently living in dysfunction and continues to make really bad choices…choices that seem so obviously wrong to “normal” folks. Well, unfortunately, if you have suffered enough dysfunction and trauma…you end up feeling comfortable in it, which means…function and healthy life choices are UN comfortable at the very least – and more accurately – completely foreign.
I know. I was drawn to dysfunction for so many years of my life and made some obvious bad choices just because I really didn’t know how to make GOOD choices. Or let me put it this way – it was so foreign and uncomfortable that I didn’t know I was even capable or worthy of good choices! Good choices and happiness were for “Other” people…not ME!
I stayed under that bird’s nest because perhaps I felt like I deserved it, perhaps it felt safe…perhaps I just didn’t realize I was FREE to walk away from it! I had placed some invisible leash around myself chaining myself to that spot. Maybe I stayed there because I thought I was supposed to. Maybe I thought I was being strong, loyal…selfless…a martyr. It was a little of all of that.
What looks so obvious and easy to everyone else, is surprisingly difficult for dysfunction addicts. It is like trying to remove a favorite pee soaked blanket from a toddler…well, perhaps, just MY toddler. She throws a major tantrum clinging to that nasty blanket as I am trying to pry it out of her hands just to wash it.
Dysfunction clings to dysfunction. What is that saying about my toddler? She is 2. When someone is 32 and still clinging to a pee soaked blanket…there is a problem.
If you have not been in a truly dysfunctional home or relationship – it looks really ridiculous when you see a woman in a situation where she is being abused, manipulated, lied to and even possibly beaten – and she chooses to STAY in it! That’s because it IS ridiculous. HOWEVER…you also don’t see the invisible chain of dysfunction around her neck holding her there. Only she has that key, but she usually doesn’t know it.
And if she does know it…she may not be brave enough to make a break for it. It takes real guts and bravery to break out of jail. It takes planning, intention, a goal, action – with the risk of consequences or repercussions.
Too many women never find that key. I am one of the really lucky ones and I know it. Honestly…I feel very much like I had an addiction to dysfunction. I had to wean myself off of it. It was a very real battle. But the first part was acknowledging it. Here are a few key steps that I think I have identified in my own experience:
1. Admit and see the truth. That means you have to let yourself SEE the ridiculousness of your situation and poor choices.
2. Believe. Want better for yourself. After you have honestly surveyed the situation THEN you have to honestly want to be free of it – and believe you are worthy of it. Happiness and freedom are free and there for the taking…this means even for you.
3. Stop being a victim. It’s ok to admit you have been wronged, but at some point you have start claiming responsibility for CONTINUING the cycle of dysfunction and see the need to stop it.
4. Surrender. This requires humility…as in COMPLETE humility. Basically your pride has to die. This is painful…very, very painful. It is like being detoxified and can make you sick at first, but then when you have completely surrendered…what peace there is!
5. ACT! Take hold of freedom. This requires you to be brave and go against all your comfort zones and rules for yourself…and break free from your chain of dysfunction. This may mean many different things to different people. It means you have to move out from under that poopy nest – either literally or figuratively (I am not suggesting rash decisions, moving out of a house or leaving family…I am really talking more in the figurative psychological realm).
6. Listen to your gut instincts in discerning right from wrong and identifying red flags. This is something really new for you so it will be some trial and error, but when you are really honest with yourself – you can start trusting yourself more and more. Make choices that are right and healthy for you…not out of obligation for others or what you “think” someone wants you to do.
7. Be realistic. Take baby steps. Literally one day and one step at a time. You are setting yourself up for failure if you expect overnight results. Serious addictions like this take weeks, months and sometimes even years to successfully overcome.
8. Celebrate little milestones! Recognize your progress.
9. Don’t go it alone. You need support – even if it just a few people you can completely honest with. At first – finding people that can mentor you or show “function/healthy” lifestyles and then eventually finding people in your same situation is what was the most helpful for me.
For me – it was just coming clean with who I am, what I have been through and also pursuing some passions/hobbies of mine like writing and music. I also started making intentionally healthy choices about employment, relationships, activities, etc. Instead of just letting life happen…I started being intentional about asking “Is this healthy? Is this constructive? Is this the right fit for me?” I never knew I even had the right to ask that before!
I also started being really choosy who I spend my time on and with. I had to realize my own worth and value and seek out people that I really enjoyed and respected and viewed as “healthy and functional” and then I pursued those kinds of folks. Not is a stalking, annoying way – I was just open and honest with them. I have the best friends I have EVER had in my life just from being completely vulnerable and finding like minded people. I no longer have time for fakes.
Keep in mind – addictions can take years to really break free from. You may have some setbacks. You have to allow yourself the freedom to make some mistakes, but don’t justify it or continue to make the same mistakes over and over.
For instance…You might wander back to the poopy nest because it is a familiar place, but don’t set up camp there. Eventually you will be able to see just how gross that place was and at some point you will not ever want to return there. It will be like a different life time ago.
That’s when you know you are in a “restored” or rehabilitated state…when you feel like dysfunction is actually foreign. That is victory!
Well. After our conversation, this lady said my comments were insightful. She had never honestly realized that it may be completely foreign to her daughter to make a “functional” healthy choice.
It is sad. It is confusing. It is downright infuriating to an outsider looking in – watching someone imprisoned by their own invisible leashes of dysfunction. But to that prisoner…it is very real, very lonely, very defeating, and seemingly impossible to break free from – that is – if they are even aware anymore.
The real problem with any addiction is that you are usually not even aware anymore of how bad of a state you are in. You have lived with it for so long, made excuses, or just plain given up on trying to be anything other than the product of your situation or circumstances.
I know I am one of the lucky few. That is why I am even writing this. That is the whole point of this blog. I don’t think I knew when I started, but I knew I had something to say. I didn’t want all my years of pain and traumatic events to be in vain anymore.
Who knows where this finds you. All I hope is that if you are standing under a birds nest getting pooped on…perhaps you may consider moving – if even just a little. Yes…that means different things to different people, but one simple truth remains…
~ Confucious say (Ok…not really – just Lee say)… If you stand under a bird’s nest, you increase your chances of getting pooped on.