Fighting Parkinson’s, and learning to love…yourself, part 3

In the last couple of weeks, I have posted Fighting Parkinson’s, and learning to love…yourself, part 1, and Fighting Parkinson’s, and learning to love…yourself, part 2. If you have not read those posts, I highly recommend that you read them prior to reading this post. As I stated in part 1, this is going to be a multi-part series. In today’s post, and future posts, I will explain the process I used to learn to love myself, and in the end, how I learned that it was not selfish, but was, in fact, necessary for my recovery…in my life and with my Parkinson’s.

In part 2, I explained the process I used to go back and explore things that were said or done in my life that made me feel bad about myself in my effort to resolve them and to learn to love myself. Of the handful of things I found (one outlined in part 2), today I have another situation to share.

When I was young, I was a very good student. After two years of straight A’s on my junior high school report cards, I came home with my first B. I had tried my hardest, done my best, and I had been okay with the B. In those days, your parents had to sign your report card. With a bit of nervousness, I handed my report card to my father to sign. He signed it and returned it to me. As I turned to walk away, he got my attention and I turned back around to face him. He then said, “If you would have tried harder, you would have had all A’s.”

I remember the sick feeling that came about me. I remember the anger that raged inside me. I remember sitting down with Sally as we were having children and recounting this story followed by the words, “Grades will never be important in our home.” If you ask our children, each probably would tell you, “Mom and dad never put pressure on me about my grades…I put my own pressure on myself.” And, of course, I would look at Sally and say, “I wonder where we got these perfectionist over-achievers from…certainly not me.”

So, as you can see, I felt that this issue was resolved. WRONG!!! Not even close. In my Parkinson’s recovery, I realized some startling things when reviewing this situation at a deeper emotional/spiritual level — the day my father told me, “If you would have tried harder, you would have had all A’s” was the day I learned that my best was not good enough. And, it was the day I learned that my parents love, affection, and approval was tied to performance. (Not my father’s intentions, but how I sub-consciously, unknowingly, took it in; explanation to follow).

Much in the same way that I resolved the other handful of issues I located while reviewing my earlier life, I sat down with this younger version of myself to console him, tell him that he had not done anything wrong, let him know that it was a stupid thing to have been told, and that we needed to let it go. Here is what I saw for the first time in my life, and I saw it through my younger-self’s eyes and through his heart:

STRESS, ANXIETY, WORRY, FEAR, SELF-DOUBT!!! I saw myself through the next 10 years of school (high school, college, law school) studying long hours and never feeling like it was enough, and feeling stress every time I went to take a test or turn in a paper. I was filled with self-doubt and each test would be part of a grade that was going to determine the level of my parents love, affection, and approval. It is a good thing that I had released crying already or I would have exploded as these memories were opening up. Instead, I cried, and it was a very healing cry.

Just like I explained in the previous post, part 2, once I settled down, I had a heart-to-heart conversation with fourteen-year-old me and asked him to listen to me as I explained how I (then-current with Parkinson’s me) saw the situation. Dad worked hard his whole life. As I was growing up, most of the time he worked at jobs requiring him to work six days a week, including a couple of holiday seasons where he took on a second job stocking warehouse shelves in the evenings at a local toy store to earn extra money to buy us presents.

I explained to my younger self that dad’s statement, “If you would have tried harder, you would have had all A’s” meant one thing and one thing only: “I want you to have things better than me.” It was a statement about himself, not about me.

With that understanding, my younger self had an enormous transformation and found overwhelming compassion and forgiveness for dad. And, what I realized in my recovery, and this is a very important point for all of you to understand: It did not matter what was said or what was done or what was the other person’s intention. What mattered was how I took it in. It is the “how I took it in” that made it my issue. It is the “how I took it in” that got lodged in my sub-conscious. It was the “how I took it in” that made me feel bad about myself.

And this is what lead to one of the biggest transformations of my recovery: I realized that whatever somebody was saying or doing, it was about them, not me, and chances were that they were suffering from something, physically, mentally, and/or spiritually…and I lost my mind and entered my heart. On the home page of this site, I have the quote: “Sometimes you have to lose your mind before you come to your senses.”
-Socrates, Dan Millman’s Way of the Peaceful Warrior-

That was a big part of my transformation.

Instead of looking at what people were saying and doing and internalizing it with judgment from my mind, I started viewing what people were saying and doing from my heart and feeling compassion for their suffering. And I realized, I needed to view myself the same way. I was a suffering human being who needed my compassion, not my judgment. And, I offered compassion to myself, and for the first time in my recovery, I realized that my best was good enough and I felt worthy and deserving of my recovery.

I had learned to love myself, and I was able to put myself first in my recovery. I learned that this was not selfish, but quite to the contrary, it was necessary.

It is why I know that all of you can be cured as well. The Parkinson’s Recipe for Recovery&#0174 is the road map. Do not get lost in the physical part of the recovery. It is a soul, mind, and body recovery, and I ask all of you to lose your minds and come to your senses. Open your hearts to yourselves. Find compassion and forgiveness for yourselves and learn to love yourselves. This is not selfish…IT IS NECESSARY!

Let’s all chant together:

“I have the power to heal myself.
Parkinson’s is curable, and I have the power to cure myself.
Parkinson’s is a symptom of my life out of balance.
The tortoise is my cure.
I am the tortoise.
I am curing myself with each small advance I make in the moment.
Just like the tortoise, I move slowly and steadily, and I realize that I cannot worry too much about the bumps in the road.
Instead, I know that every step I take toward the finish line is recovery, in and of itself, and I settle in and enjoy the journey.
In each step, I see love and joy and laughter and gratitude and fulfillment and compassion and contentment.
Oh, yes, and then the tortoise wins the race.
Oh, yes, and then I win the race and achieve my cure.
Fear is in the past.
Faith is in the present.
I choose Faith.
I am recovery.
My best is good enough.
I love me.
I am worth it!”

Yes, yes, yes, YOU ARE WORTH IT!

All my best,


(Mom and Dad: Thank you for all of the sacrifices you made in your lives so your children could “have it better than you did.” I am grateful for you both, love you dearly, and happy you are together again).

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14 Responses to Fighting Parkinson’s, and learning to love…yourself, part 3

  1. Angela DiNardo says:

    Thank you Howard

  2. Joseph McEleavy says:

    I take responsibility for how I view my world, it is not anybody else’s view that I live but mine. I thank you Divine Spirit for all the gifts and challenges you have given me, now and forever, Amen.

  3. Sally Carlson says:

    Howard your truth speaks volumes.
    Thank you for being so aware of what fuels thia disease.

  4. Kevin says:

    High Howard. Yes I am. I heard your voice as I was reading. When I stop blaming others it leaves room to stop blaming myself which leaves me in a state of empty stillness. This is where love sits waiting to be expressed.

  5. judy says:

    Howard, this was such a moving post for me. I’m so thankful for you and your understanding and insight. I find this journey to be so difficult at times. You are like a loving, caring companion in the dark. Thanx, judy….

  6. Oh Howard…. once again, such wise and impactful words…I couldn’t agree more and work daily to remind myself that others’ toxic words and judgements are never about me and only reflections of the others’ inability to connect to his or her own yearnings. And yes, when I hear such judgements, my child self still clings to interpretations about myself like “not good enough” that are not only inaccurate but also harmful to myself and others. Because when I am reacting from that place, I am much more likely to offer up toxic gems myself and thus perpetuate this unfortunate cycle of never-ending blame and condemnation. So my work now is realizing that I do have choice: do I react to the toxicity as I am conditioned to do and continue the cycle of blame?…or do I respond to the life that is calling me with so much vigor throughout the pain? I realize, as I choose response, that I’m longing for…no aching for kindness…for compassion… for love. I believe we all are…. So let’s put our energies fully upon those life-giving qualities when we next find ourselves wallowing in the pain of judgements and blame. I believe that’s our most certain path for service…and healing too.

  7. mayarita says:

    Thank you Howard. One of my cats,faithful companion of 13years just died and it really cheered me up.
    One question. does it matter if you can’t remember exact events in order to change?
    I remember feeling not good enough. especially once when I was refused entry to a music course my twin was let on and how bad I felt. looking back now I realise how good I really was as I still made it to London to study music despite setbacks. i left after a year because of the same bad feelings.
    love to all on this shared journey

  8. Marie says:

    I grew up with an extremely critical mother, and also the feeling that whatever I did, whatever I achieved, it was never good enough in her eyes. As an adult, usually I protected myself from her criticism by keeping her at a distance and only letting her see me when I was at my strongest. But one time, about 15 years ago she visited when I was just finishing a huge project. It was a very raw and vulnerable time for me. The project was something I had thrown my heart and soul into. And she came in and made a few critical digs. I was crushed….a feeling I recognized so well from my childhood, when a cut from her seemed to take me down to nothing.
    It took awhile before I could gather up the courage to ask about her being so critical. At first, she denied that she was critical at all, by saying ” you are just so thin-skinned, Marie; you’ve always been hyper-sensitive!! No one can say anything to you without your being upset.” Ah-ha…phase 2 of the dynamic of my youth: First she would be critical, and then if she saw I was hurt, she would turn that into something else to criticize.
    But this time, I had reply. I embraced that hurt part of myself and instead of trying to deny it, admitted that it was true: I had always been hyper -sensitive and easily hurt. And added I was also very perceptive, and always had been, even as a child. and that I could recognize criticism. and I said…”Why, Mom? Why did you say something so mean about my project?”
    “I didnt want you to be hurt,”she answered. Seeing my confusion, she continued, “I figured it was better that you hear the criticism from me than to hear it from a stranger. I wanted to protect you from what other people might say.”
    Wow! What a convoluted act of love…but I did understand that from her point of view, and more importantly, from her heart, it was an act of love. Always had been. Growing up as the child of immigrants she hadn’t had anyone to give her guidance . From her point of view, she was guiding me, helping me, in ways she had not been helped. To her it felt like love and protection.
    and once I understood that, I could receive it ….take it in…as love.
    Thanks, Mom. I know you did your best.
    And thanks, Howard.

  9. mayarita says:

    Thank you Marie that was like looking in a mirror. You have verbalised exactly my situation with my mother which I have suppressed and didn’t know how to access. She has been ill with alseimers for 8 years now and that was when she stopped criticising when She became ill. since I have become a mother too I see that She was trying to protect me, her way of loving.
    Thank you so much Marie you have helped me uncover what the problem was.
    Thank you Howard

  10. mayarita says:

    I have used up half a box of tissues from reading this.
    love to you all

  11. Pat in FL says:

    By far your most powerful post to date in my estimation.
    I need to remember and believe this part in particular:
    “And this is what lead to one of the biggest transformations of my recovery: I realized that whatever somebody was saying or doing, it was about them, not me, and chances were that they were suffering from something, physically, mentally, and/or spiritually…and I lost my mind and entered my heart.”
    And what great direction and encouragement I find in this:
    Do not get lost in the physical part of the recovery. It is a soul, mind, and body recovery, and I ask all of you to lose your minds and come to your senses. Open your hearts to yourselves. Find compassion and forgiveness for yourselves and learn to love yourselves. This is not selfish…IT IS NECESSARY!
    I am also so thankful to you, Marie, for sharing the inner workings of your recovery and continuing to care about those of us embracing the Recipe for Recovery.
    I am so filled with hope and faith!

  12. Rita says:

    It is the most powerful post, Howard. I absolutely agree with Pat about the part she quoted above. I hope my husband , one day , on a road of his Recovery will find out importance of soul and mind , not only physical part of Recipe .
    And I am very much hope, dear Howard, that you will help him on that way.
    Thank you all for the great support

  13. Debbie says:

    Thanks everyone for sharing. You are all so brave. I feel grateful to have found and to be a part of this blog. Once again…Thank You Howard for leading the way.

  14. Pingback: Fighting Parkinson’s, and being your real self, part 2 | Fighting Parkinson's Drug Free

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