Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sing it LOUD



Yep, that's me, dancing and smiling and singing - quite possibly in the car next to you. Oh and my kids too! We sing OUT LOUD and PROUD to this song.

To hear their little voices, slightly (only slightly - hee hee!) out of tune while dancing in my living room...

"Hey, heeeeeeeyyyy, heeeeeeeeeeeeyyyyyy.... "

....is SOOOOO damn cute! Oooooo, I love my girls so much!

Tell me if you're not smiling and moving right along when you listen to it too.


This is my happy song right now.  Enjoy!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

An Open Letter to Soldier

Hi there.

I know that it has been a very long time - nearly a year - since we last spoke. I hate that things ended on such bad terms. I've had the luxury of hindsight, a blog filled with our history and a new relationship to give me a clearer view of us.

First of all, thank you for loving me. I remember how much you supported me as I supported you during deployment. I remember how, when I would beat myself up as a mother, you would point out my strengths. I remember how you would make me laugh so much with your stories and how well you listened to mine. I remember how you pulled yourself out of the depths of depression and fear to bring a smile to my face so that I could hang on one more day. I remember how, when I wanted to end things, you fought me and pleaded for my patience.

I'm sorry. I wish I could have been patient. I guess my patience ran its course during the 15 months you were deployed.

I loved you with everything I had. I gave and gave and did whatever you wanted and wanted to do lots more. I loved giving to you. I felt like a shining ray of hope in your life and it felt good to me. Perhaps I was using you. Perhaps you were using me.

Maybe in the end, we both felt bad about that. I'm not sure.

The point is - I do not regret what we found in each other. I do not regret all that I learned. I do not regret everything I went through with you.

We felt love. The planets had finally aligned for us after 22 years! We had such a depth of connection in those few weeks before you deployed. It kept both of us hanging on for over a year. Whether or not that relationship survived doesn't matter. It served me and it served you. In the end, I know that the love was real. I also know that we just didn't fit. And that's ok.

I've been through lots of emotion regarding the end of our relationship. I've been angry, resentful, terribly sad, frustrated, confused but mostly... mostly I hate that I lost that friendship. You've known me for 25 years! I think of you. I wonder about you. I hope that someone fit you better than I did.

I hope that you found exactly what you needed in your life.

You were what I needed then. I'm happy to be able to look back at that time and smile. For the first time in a very long time, I can think of us and smile.

Ever grateful for you.

T

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Heartbreak Warfare



I love the new John Mayer song. Especially these few lyrics:

If you want more love, why don't you say so?

God only knows how much I'd love you if you let me
but I can't break through at all.


I don't care if we don't sleep at all tonight
Let's just fix this whole thing now
I swear to God we're gonna get it right
If you lay your weapon down


I heard the song on the radio tonight and those lyrics had me thinking.

Friends and family in unhealthy relationships come to me and ask, "How did you know when your marriage was over?"

I think we all have breaking points. I think we all come to a place where we realize, "This is it. I am done." I can't tell you yours and you can't tell me mine. Our perceptions are different.

I remember fighting with my husband and then suddenly realizing that his words meant nothing to me anymore. That's when I knew.

I remember a similar moment with Soldier. I had called him out on something and instead of listening to me, instead of apologizing, he began shouting insults and angry words at me. He was freshly home from Iraq, paranoid, insecure, dizzy with stimulation after the dreaded, ugly, deprived, everyday-brown-life in the SandPit. As he yelled, I remember that same feeling. I can't do this. We are no longer serving each other.

One thing I have learned in both of those scenarios is that my decision was made from a place of love.

*

I've realized that I tend to be emotionally stunted when it comes to fear. When I feel conflict, I become fatalistic. My fight or flight reflex comes on strong and since I'm not a fighter, I want to run... fast and far.

With the up and down whirlpool of emotions that I've felt lately, I've been in a LOT of fear. So much fear, in fact, that my ever-intuitive Gentleman admitted to me recently that he has been worried that I want to call things off. And honestly, I was feeling that way. Not because I don't love him or want to leave him. I was feeling that way because I was so damn scared for no reason at all.

I reassured him that I wasn't going anywhere. If I was going to call things off, I'd do it from a realization that our time together was no longer serving either of us, as I'd done before. I'd do it from a place of love, not fear.

As I said that, I realized that I had been pushing him away. I was holding up a wall, blocking out his love and keeping him at arm's length. The ironic thing is all along, I was thinking that HE was pushing me away. I was scared that he wouldn't love me in this whirlpool. I was afraid that he was finding me unworthy of love. That's how I was seeing myself.

This song reminded me that I choose not to make "heartbreak warfare" out of fear. I choose not to put up a weapon and fight or run away. I choose to let his love shine in on that fear. I choose to be more intimate, available and vulnerable. I choose to ask for more love, as long as he's willing to offer it to me. I choose to honor and acknowledge the love he is currently giving me.

Because when I ask him, "How do you put up with me? How are you so patient with me? Why do you love me?"

He replies, "Because you allow me to."

Who knew that it was up to me all along?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Feeling Ornery

I suppose feeling "ornery" may look like feeling "horny" but um... no. Not exactly the same thing.

But I ornery sex can be fun!

I'm bouncing back, slowly but surely, from the emotional whirlpool of the past few weeks. I haven't been able to hang on to much balance though I fully expect it to return. I'm getting on a good exercise schedule again and we're getting a little more sunshine.

I'm not in a bad mood today. I feel more... hmmm... surly or feisty or... like I want to stir up something.

So, this post may end up getting blocked by those of you who read from work but my mood says I have to put it out there.

FUCK.

I don't know. I just felt like saying it.

Fuck, fuck, fuckity fuck.

It's so damn liberating to say, isn't it? Say it with me. Deep breath. Now...

FUCK

Don't you feel better?

***

Fuck used to be one of those words I would never say. Then when my girlfriend Marie and I moved in together when I was 21, I quickly noticed it was her favorite word.

She was very creative with the word and used it in ways I had never heard before. The worst (and best) ways she used it was when she was upset with her boyfriend.

You know what they say... hell hath no fury.

***

I have a friend who lives in L.A. I call him Toast because he collects toasters. He looks like Mr. Clean, big guy with a bald head. He's a punk. Ya know, he loves punk music? He has a little roughness to him but if you knew him, you'd love his big heart.

Many years ago when I was visiting him, we went to a store on Melrose called Retail Slut. What a fuckin' awesome store! In the store, Toast saw a t-shirt that he couldn't live without:



It was fucking BRILLIANT!

He bought it and as we left the store, he saw one that I absolutely had to buy too:


 

It was perfect for PMS week. My husband would get the message without me saying a word.

The next day, Toast and I went out to the big Farmer's Market and he wore his shirt. I was slightly embarrassed, not sure how people would react.

They LOVED it.

Seriously. He was asked over and over again where he bought the shirt! You never know what you'll find in L.A.

***

I love the word FUCK.

I love to say it, do it, use it as a verb, noun, adjective... it is such a versatile word!*

And I feel like writing about it today. Because it is my fucking blog.

*giggle*


* Motherhood keeps me in line. Since both kids are reading now, its time to put away my PMS shirt. Boo.

Monday, January 25, 2010

If my mat could talk...



As I rested comfortably in child's pose - nose to the floor - I breathed cleansing breaths into my well-used yoga mat. I smiled to myself, thinking of how many years I'd been resting here. How many emotions were felt right here, on the yoga mat that could tell a thousand stories...

***

I was given the mat by a woman who came into my previous neighborhood, at my request, and offered yoga classes for me and my stay-at-home mom friends. I had one child and was considering trying for another one.

My friends and I couldn't take yoga seriously and giggled through most of the classes.

***

Years later, I pulled the mat out again. My husband seemed to be distant. I was pregnant and feeling very lonely. I went to a prenatal yoga class, where I met my BFF De. As I sat in cow face pose, eyes closed and my large 7 month pregnant belly resting on my thighs, De, my teacher said out loud, "My gosh you're beautiful."

I burst into tears. I hadn't been told that was beautiful in a very long time.

***

After Grace was born, I dragged the mat out yet again for Baby and Me yoga classes. She's my natural born yogini!! We would sing songs and my baby would smile and kick and exude such beautiful energy that I would weep with joy every. single. time.

***

When I could get to class without my new baby, I would use that time on the mat to escape from the pain of my husband's affair. I would breathe into every pose, allowing my body to feel the discomfort but not attaching a reaction to it. Then at the end, when my body would relax into a resting pose, the tears would come. That was when my fellow yogis and teachers would reach out across the small space between our mats and comfort me with a small touch. That was when, after class, I would be held in arms among people who didn't know me, didn't know what was happening in my life but offered me love and support anyway.

That's when I became addicted to yoga.

***

On that mat, I gradually built strength. I learned the phrase, "No pain, no pain". I learned to accept where I was and not think about tomorrow or yesterday. On that mat, I learned to forgive myself.

***

I can remember numerous times carrying my cell phone into class with me - a travesty to a yoga practice! But when you're waiting for a call from Baghdad that could come at any moment...

***

I can remember feeling my sexual self expand on that mat. I learned to remove myself from my body only to crawl back inside and experience every sensation as I hadn't before. Savasana became my friend.

***

On that mat, I have processed feelings about life, death, God, evil, deprivation, sex, divorce, marriage, expectation, disappointment, acceptance, my kids, the ex husband, Soldier, my Gentleman, sadness, happiness, frustration, pain, anger, hate, love, forgiveness and peace.

I could get a new one.... but nah, this one works just fine.

It knows me.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Who Am I?

I had the realization Friday night that I feel very lost.

I don't know who I am anymore.


I used to be that girl who was very driven to make my dreams come true. I wanted to move to Dallas. Check! I wanted to be a singer. Check! I wanted to go back to college and study information technology. Check! I wanted to graduate cum laude. Check! I wanted to have a great job, travel, swim the Great Barrier Reef. Check! Check! Check! I wanted to get married, build a big house, have children. Check! Check! Check!

Then little by little, those things faded. I stopped singing because I had children. I was laid off and became a stay at home mom. I got divorced. I moved out of the big house.

I felt like I was floating in space with nothing to hold on to.

Slowly those goals started reappearing: I wanted to buy my own house and get my girls in good schools. I wanted to do a triathlon.

Every time I set a goal, I accomplished it. I'm hard headed that way. Now it is January 2010. I feel like I'm expected to have a goal and I just.... DON'T.

So, Saturday morning, I asked my Facebook and Twitter friends, "Who am I?"

Here were the responses:

You are what you do.

You are T; friend, mother, daughter, sister, confidant, lover, healer, helper, blogger, etc, etc, etc.

You are you!!

my blogging sister friend!

U are a beautiful woman that makes my "big brother" very happy!!! And for that I say thank u & love u!!!! (from a friend of Gentleman Jack's)

A Crazy Freaky Hottie - geaux saints! (yes, I have *always* been a Saints fan.)

And Jack's response was:

My girl, my angel, my love! Single mother of 2 beautiful brilliant girls and hard working IT professional. Friend, athlete, counselor. Fantastic Lover!

All of these responses were amazing, supportive and sweet. But then came the response I wasn't expecting:

Be careful. If you don't decide who you are, other people will decide for you.

And that was the crux of the entire question: Who am I to me?

I had to sit with that a while. I know that I am very flexible in relationships with people. I will generally find a way to like what someone else likes. I will find interest in another's interests. I will start a hobby or activity that I'd never done before because of a relationship.

Some consider that weakness. Maybe I'm redefining myself because of those around me and I don't intrinsically know who *I* am.

But on the contrary, I've realized that I do!

I am a person who lives authentically. I am honest. I am FEELING. I don't have warm feelings - when I feel, I FEEL all the way. Sometimes those feelings make me extremely happy and sometimes those feelings make me very sad. I don't hate. I love. Extremely deeply. I am empathetic. I care about others. I forgive. I am introspective, intuitive and sensitive. I choose to keep learning. I want to inspire. I feel inspired to teach what I need to learn.

That is WHO I AM.

Am I a triathlete? Am I a college graduate? Am I a single mom? Am I a singer? Am I a homeowner? Am I any or all of those things?

Sure, I am perceived that way by many people. But those things are not the "me" that always has been and always will be. I may choose not to do another triathlon. I may not use my college degree. I will always be a mother but I may not always be single and my children will grow up. I may or may not sing in a band again.

Maybe that's why I can be so flexible about all of those things. Because all of those things are only temporary things that I do - not who I am. Those things will fade.

Apparently, I'm pretty good at playing chameleon with those around me. I refuse to limit myself to what I *do* or *don't* do. My identity isn't tied to that.

I will always be that feeling, forgiving, loving, honest, authentic me. No goal or absence of a goal will take away that part of me. That is the part of me that is real.

My strength is in my ability to continue growing and loving.

And I can move mountains with THAT kind of strength.

2010?

Bring it on.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Practice in Growth

I was hoping yesterday's post would stir up a discussion about how you handle conflict in relationships. But it was Danielle's comment that got me thinking:

"How do you work on this relationship stuff without a relationship, or at least without someone else to point stuff out, call you out, or just challenge you. I know the answer is work on myself, but sometimes I am not aware until someone shows me.

Plus, the "Gentleman Jacks" of the world seem to be a rare breed. The men that I come across are more comfortable with the non-growth."

Well, I'm no relationship expert. I only go by what I know from my own experience.

Mandy's comment right above that seemed to point to the answer. She is not in a relationship but said "In the meantime, I'm practicing with my kids."

That's it!

I do believe that growth comes from seeing ourselves through others. And the best "others" are our significant others. In those relationships, we will hide away parts of ourselves AND expose parts of ourselves that we don't show to friends or family. However it's those friends and family that are our biggest teachers as well!

Practice makes perfect, doesn't it? I try to remember to practice The Four Agreements in every relationship in my life. Trust me - these 4 little rules alone will challenge anyone in every encounter!

Click here to read about the Four Agreements in more detail:

1. Be Impeccable With Your Word

2. Don't Take Anything Personally

3. Don't Make Assumptions

4. Always Do Your Best


The author of The Four Agreements says: "In these agreements we tell ourselves who we are, how to behave, what is possible, what is impossible."

Relating back to yesterday's post, how do you handle conflict in relationships?

Do you take it personally when conflict arises in an encounter with a family member, stranger or friend?

Do you just assume what someone in your family means when they say something to you? Or do you let them finish their thought and ask questions for clarity?

Are you gentle on yourself when you make mistakes or don't feel that you're good enough? (Yeah, I'm still working on all of these but this one even more recently.)

Do you speak with kindness, honesty and love? Do you listen to others when they speak with an open mind and open heart?

All of these can be done in any and every relationship and encounter.


To finish Danielle's last thought that the men that she comes across aren't interested in growth: As you become more self-aware, you will no longer attract or accept less.

When you feel better about yourself, when you challenge yourself to truly listen and not accept what you think is happening, when you have a better idea of "who (you) are, how to behave, what is possible, what is impossible", you will attract that sameness to yourself!

At least that's what I keep telling myself.... Gentleman Jack and I are not alike in many, MANY surface aspects however, he processes feeling and emotion so similar to me. He amazes me that I can barely say 3 words about something and he instinctively knows how I feel. Its very weird. My guess is our "sameness" on that level is what attracted us to each other.

Well, and I definitely think he's a hottie too.

Every relationship, past, present and future, challenges us to grow. "Every encounter is a holy encounter," according to A Course in Miracles. That thought alone brings so much more awareness of the people in my life. It is through them that I see my own misgivings, lack of self-worth and negative thoughts about myself. And it is through them that I learn to forgive myself.

Learn from what is currently in your life. Find love there. Feel that warmth in your life.

Thank YOU for teaching me.



"Take the ingredients you already have and make the best meal you can."
~ unknown

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Fighting words

I read Mandy's post regarding fighting in a marriage yesterday. Her post also reminded me of Aidan's post about why it is so difficult for us to admit when we feel hurt.

My ex-husband and I rarely fought during our marriage. We fought while we were dating and it was excruciating for me. I hated when I hurt him. I hated admitting when he hurt me. I hated being wrong. I hated making mistakes. He spoke up about past hurt feelings when we were fighting.

Hated fighting. Hated it. Hated it.

So, because neither of us liked confrontation, he let me have my way and we rarely fought. Then I resented him for letting me have my way.

We were both so relationship-immature.

My parents fought a lot when I was a kid. I hated that too. I would hide in my room or, when I could drive, leave the house. Fighting, to me, was a bad sign. I don't like the negative energy and loud voice and harsh words. It just feels... ick!

Then Gentleman Jack taught me that perfect isn't all that it's cracked up to be and the truth really shows itself in those imperfect moments.

---

Early in our relationship, GJ admitted to me that he hates confrontation and fighting.

Well, amen to that brutha! Me too!

That statement is funny to me now because he is the FIRST one to tell me or anyone exactly how he feels or when he feels like something isn't right. He sort of knocks my socks off when he does it because I was *so* used to my ex who kept all of that to himself. My Gentleman doesn't let it slide. He nips it in the bud immediately.

To quote him:
"You can push the wound down deep and let it fester. Or you can clean out the wound, though it will hurt like hell, but at least it will heal faster."

Sometimes, I don't want to discuss what's bothering me or why I'm sad or what I meant... I don't want to upset him or hurt his feelings. I try and try to admit to my pain or disappointment without blaming and when he reacts to me anyway... UGH! That's when I want to say, "SEE?" and hang up the phone!

I promised him I would never do that though.

So our fights look like this:

I struggle through my disappointment and his pain (or vice versa). We both react defensively. There's frustration and anger on both sides. We're both exasperated. I'm crying. He's quiet.

Somewhere in there, one of us gains perspective, realizes that there is no intent to hurt and decides not to take things personally. Next our sentences begin with, "I felt like this is what you said..." and "I perceived that you did this..." and "I didn't mean to imply that... " and "I realize that I'm reacting to a past pain..." and suddenly the heaviness begins to lighten.

The next thing I know, we have a whole new understanding of the other person. It's like a new version of the partner just showed up. Then we're both communicating with loving words of gratitude for the understanding and patience and continued love.

It's pretty freakin' amazing. I had no idea you could put it out there, deal with it, and be over it.

Wow.

What a concept.

Isn't it amazing that what you learn in your early relationships seems like *normal*? Then you find in subsequent relationships that it was actually, in fact, a dysfunction?

I'm still trying to break those past patterns and clean out the wounds. He's right though. Cleaning those wounds does hurt like hell. We will inevitably but unintentionally hurt the ones we love. That's part of a relationship. I'm happy to be with someone who allows me to make mistakes and learn from them.

Heh.

If only I could be that gentle on myself...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Catching my breath

There were some very interesting comments on yesterday's post about my anxiety. Many of them made me think. I appreciate all of you for speaking up.

Mindy and QT both agreed that, once again, I am too hard on myself. QT even said,

"Oh T, I sometimes think you'd not be happy if you weren't having anxiety about something. You are so hard on yourself (and I repeat) you are SO hard on yourself.

You are a good mom. You are a good woman. We've ALL made mistakes.

What you are my dear, is human."

Yes, I'll admit that I am hard on myself - especially when I make mistakes. I look at those mistakes. I want to stay open to feelings and thoughts and perceptions and reactions.

How else will I learn better?

I also have to say that this blog isn't all that I am. This is where I share my deepest thoughts. This is where I talk myself through things. You all are privy to a part of me that most people in my real life don't see.

So yeah, I use this space to process things. But I also know that anxiety runs rampant in society. I wonder if some of us are more sensitive to our own fear and the encompassing fear in the collective conscious. Who knows? Some deal with fear by using comic relief - oh how I would love to laugh more! Some deal with it with tears. Some deal with it with drugs - hence the reason antidepressants are the most prescribed drug.

Why are we so scared, anxious, worried?

terri's comment made me think:

"When things get really good, my anxiety issues kick in at extra strength level. Sometimes I think I throw in roadblocks just so things won't get so good that I have to feel that panic.

I wonder if it is something that, if we just plow through it and not try to get around it or over it or under it, will just recede over time."

I do believe that pushing through the panic works. The way I deal with panic is to find my own calm, my own peace of mind. It comes from within.

Neale Donald Walsch's daily inspirational email made terri's comment even clearer:

"...the biggest question in life is, How much good can you accept?

Good is flowing to you every day. How much of it you experience depends on how much of it you can accept. And how much of it you can accept depends upon how 'worthy' you believe that you are."

And BINGO. That's when it hit me.

I've been doubting my worth.

As a person. As a mother. As an employee. As a homeowner. As a car owner. As a sister. As a daughter. As a friend. As a girlfriend.

I doubt my self-worth. Am I doing this right? Am I good enough? When will the goodness will run its course?

I've been wanting to control what's going to happen in some vain attempt to stop anything bad from happening.

What I seem to forget is that I am not the One in control here. I have to continue to have faith that all is as it should be. I can only do my best with what I know and be open to forgiving myself and learning from my mistakes. This is where, as Byron Katie says, I have to ask myself, "Do you really believe that thought?"

Do I really believe that I'm unworthy of the good that is in my life?

Both QT and Mindy picked up on it. Several of you did. You saw that I was beating myself up again and not feeling good enough.

As long as I believe that thought, I will not be happy where I am now. Those anxious thoughts arise out of past fears or future worries - not where I am NOW.

So I am allowing myself to feel whatever it is I need to feel. I am taking Dadshouse's comment to heart:

"We all have anxieties, but you can train yourself to react differently. I would suggest letting those feelings come on. Yes, let them arise. Then sit with them, face them, breathe through them, let them pass. THEN fill your lungs with freedom and love and carefree joy, and remind yourself this is how you like to feel, and teach yourself that this feeling is healthy and the normal way you want to be."

Amen to that.

Thank you all for helping me to catch my breath.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Out of air


The very first time I went scuba diving in the ocean was in Mexico. The area that I frequent is home to the second largest barrier reef in the world. It was a sight that I couldn't wait to see.

We traveled out, who knows how far, in a tiny dive boat that held about 12 people. I didn't enjoy the ride at all. Unfortunately, that was the moment in time when I realized that I am prone to seasickness.

Our dive was supposed to be no more than 40 - 50 feet but the dive master assured us that 80 - 90 feet would be fine. When we finally stopped at our location, which seemed to me to be the middle of the ocean, the waves were rocking us so wildly that I was shaking and very, very green. We loaded up our gear on our backs and dove in.

Since it was my first time, I was worried about buoyancy and stuck close to the dive guide during our descent. It was clear and beautiful all around me but as we got closer and closer to the sandy bottom, I felt like I was out of air.

I gave our guide the hand symbol for no air. He looked at my tank gauges confused. I gave the signal again, "NO AIR!" He gave me his extra regulator so that I could breathe from his tank. Again I gave the signal, "NO AIR!" and began to climb frantically to the surface. I'd apparently forgotten the lesson from my dive training about the bends. My husband and the dive guide held me and guided me slowly back to the rough surface. By the time I arrived back at the boat, I was crying hysterically and completely out of breath.

There was nothing wrong with my tank. I had plenty of air.

What I found out later was that I'd suffered an anxiety attack.

---

Because of my awareness of it, the anxiety is generally under control now. I have noticed, however, that there are times in my life where I am filled with dread or underlying panic.

In looking over my unpublished blog posts, I found one from early March of last year. I remember having this same sort of feeling:

I have been experiencing major mood shifts from high to low. I can't seem to find a balance and when I do, it's not lasting very long.

I've noticed that many people around me and their children seem to be feeling much the same way. Even in my study group, there are several of us that have been in tears nearly every night for seemingly no reason at all.

Now I don't know if its an intuitive cosmic thing... if that's too woo-woo of a thing to say. My mom said she is feeling it. Maybe it's just us? All I know is that for the past few weeks, I have felt a heavy ominous feeling that has me emotionally unstable and not sleeping well.

I'm in a panic.

Gentleman Jack says, "Ask yourself why you're scared. Let the fact that there is no reason calm you."

Rationally, I get this. I know all of that. But with this heaviness in my chest, I feel terrified to think about:

My job
My health
My kids' health
My family
My house
My car
Me and my Gentleman

I've been hiding this from him and... even my blog. I can't explain this panicked feeling. It makes no sense.

The worst part of it is that GJ was feeling me pull away from him, which, in turn, scared him and then that scared me. Ugh. Vicious circle. I was only attempting to maintain some sort of stable front because inside I felt insane. I didn't want to cling to him as security as I was spinning out of control.

Then again, I should have known better than to try to hide anything from him. He is the most intuitive man I have ever known. Now that I've told him, he's offering me his "regulator" to breathe from his tank. When I was with him over the weekend, I felt so calm and stable. I appreciated his support however...

I'm afraid to depend on it.


When I'm scared, I feel OUT OF AIR and I'm flailing to get to the surface, no matter if it hurts me or not. I don't want to drag him into this place of fear too.

Something's changing. In me. In life. In this world. I don't know... The emotional whirlpool of a few weeks ago still has me spinning.

I feel like I can't breathe.

Like that deep dive 80 feet into the ocean, I know there's air but something is preventing me from the awareness of it. That something is me.

Inhale... exhale...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Turn yourself around and come on home...




Some things in this world
Man, they don't make sense
Some things you don't need
Until they leave you
And they're things that you miss

Baby, baby, baby
When all your love is gone
Who will save me
From all I'm up against out in this world

Maybe, maybe, maybe
You'll find something
That's enough to keep you
But if the bright lights don't receive you
You should turn yourself around
And come on home


I woke up this morning in bed with my sweet Gentleman and this song was playing in my head.

Friday night, when I arrived at Gentleman Jack's house, he immediately swept me into his warm, loving arms. He held me for a very long time, sighing heavily into the nape of my neck. Then he'd stop, take my face in his hands, kiss me and say, "You're really here?"

He changed his Facebook status that night telling everyone that I was there and that I made his house feel more like home.

As we drove around town the next day for various events and social activities, I looked out the passenger side window at the familiar streets. I admired the trees, the river, the rain, the signs announcing the upcoming arrival of crawfish season. I smiled as we passed the military base that was a few blocks from our high school. I devoured grits with my breakfast - something I don't partake in normally. I cheered enthusiastically for our homestate national football team. (Geaux Saints!) I relished in the purple, green and gold emblems and masks everywhere hinting of Mardi Gras parades to come in the next few weeks.

And wistfully, I enjoyed that feeling of HOME.

---

Today is 21 years since I moved to Dallas. I love it here. I love the millions of restaurants and night life and activities and opportunities. I'm used to the traffic and big money and even bigger trucks that barrel down the freeway. My family is here. My life is here. I'm happy here.

But when I go back there, when I'm in my man's arms, in his home, in MY hometown, I wonder if... Could I ever live there again?

Maybe I have found something that's enough to keep me here but if the brights lights of this town are doing nothing for me... I wonder if I could turn around and go back home?

I wonder.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

My Sexuality, Part 1

I've said that I will be re-examining my sexuality and what better way to start that than an email from one of my polyamorous friends, TheSilentK.

Krista and I have been reading each others' blogs for over a year now. She was in a relationship with someone much like Soldier and we related on that point. We have a lot in common - including some shared viewpoints on sexuality. I will share part of her email to me and my response:

I think I can understand the shift you are experiencing and your thoughtful consideration of the wild overtly sexual self that you feel you are putting to rest. You said you have been "putting my sexuality out where it doesn't belong for the entire world to see" and I would challenge that one. I know there is a fighting part of your inner self that challenges that sentence too. It is the WHERE IT DOESN'T BELONG part of the sentence I am concerned with.
Your relationship with Gentleman Jack may end up having a boundary about sexual sharing and it may mean that you do not put your sexuality out there. That is sensible and two people come to agreements about what feels right in relationships. But I would argue that (in a different relationship perhaps, where the partner is more comfortable) putting your sexuality out there IS WHERE IT BELONGS.
We live in a world that is sexually ignorant, sexually scared and repressed, and sexually confused. I believe that empowered sexual people have a gift and perhaps even a responsibility. People like us who are free with our sexualities have been able to transcend some of the subtle and more overt cultural and societal psycho-spiritual damage that has been done to us sexually and explore what many people don't dare. This is inspiring. This is important. And we are needed, as sexual beings to help others unlock the ecstasy that is hidden in their bodies behind the layers of shame and socialization. Overtly sexual people like you and I are powerful people in that we can be educators. When monogamy and a more traditional relationship structure comes into the picture I am just learning how that changes everything in my own life as well, and learning what do do with that is still part of my own learning.

Thank you Krista. And I would heartily agree with you! I do agree that the world – or at least this country – seems to be sexually ignorant, sexually scared, repressed and confused. I thought I was just being *me*, honestly. I didn't realize, until I began opening up more on this blog, that so many others were actually inspired by my openness about sex.

In my own real life, I've seen it occasionally. Then again, I've also learned to put much of it aside. It tends to get misread for the very reasons that it is needed.

I cannot change that part of who I am. I am hoping to be more responsible with it, however.

You mentioned your daughters and teaching them "appropriate sexual boundaries". I have boys as you know, so haven't thought too much about this. I just want to share this with you though.
I went out with this big beautiful black man. Long dreadlocks, hard body, beautiful. He was educated, intellectual, worldly, wealthy, polyamorous, witty, and a very talented musician. I adored him. Very bright star in this world. He was very sexually free and honest with his women. We had a few romps but stopped playing together because we were both busy with our other relationships, but I asked him about his daughters (like yourself, he had two girls) and how he explains the various women in his life to his daughters. He told me that he teaches his daughters to be smart about their sexuality. They were 13 and 15. He said "I want my daughters to have sex with whomever they want and to know that they should do what feels good with their bodies and disregard moral messages from society. I teach them to listen to their own voice and their own heart. I teach them that they have power with their sexuality and that many men will want them, and they need to consider how they want to embrace that power in their lives because with that power comes vulnerability too if they are not really ready to own it and be strong in it. Anyway, he went on and it was very moving, articulate, and well thought out. I wished he had been my dad growing up!

I LOVE THIS! I do wish to teach my daughters a similar message. I think that there are too many beautiful and highly intelligent women in this world who are not aware of their own sexuality. Or if they are, it is abused and used and damaged in the end.

My point in all of this is that of course you want to teach your girls appropriate sexual boundaries, but what does "appropriate" mean? Is it appropriate that so many husbands and wives are sexually unsatisfied in marriages so they end up cheating because they can't communicate properly about sex and what they like and want? Is it appropriate that we have messages of sex shoved down our throats in the media but are expected to have "appropriate sexual boundaries" in our moment to moment lives? Just saying. My hope is that you teach your daughters to be free and wonderful like you are and show them there is no shame in their wonderful and amazing bodies that are capable of so much pleasure and joy.

I am not sure what "appropriate" means yet. I do want my daughters to enjoy, appreciate and respect their sexuality. I hope to instill that in them.

Thus far, I have learned that "appropriate" doesn't mean flirting with or having intimate sexual discussions with married men. That lack of boundary lead to a painful experience for me. It also lead to the other married men developing lustful crushes on me and, quite frankly, wanting to know more about my business than I wanted to share. Most of that will be discussed further later.

You also mentioned being considered "sacred" by a man, and it seemed to me you equated monogamy with that sacredness.
Is it possible for a man to consider his woman sacred but also share her? Philosophically I completely believe this to be true, although I haven't exactly lived it. I have had tastes of it from my previous relationship, but we both know I did not feel I was revered enough in that relationship. We had a very magical relationship, but I needed to be more sacred. More honoured than I was. I have high expectations for that.
But back to my point. I think a man can completely consider his woman sacred but also be ok with sharing and overt sexuality. For example, a man wanting his woman to experience complete sexual bliss or sexual transcendental eroticism and he knows that she likes double penetration, so he gifts her with a well endowed friend so they can co-please her. That can be very sacred.
I wonder about "The Beautiful Kind" and her relationship with Beast. We only know what we read on blogs, but I get a sense there is a real mystical and sacred side to their relationship, and it is not monogamous. I don't know. I'm grappling with all this stuff too, just as you are.

I have links to many couples who are non-monogamous. They have amazing, sacred relationships. However, thanks to one blog in particular, I have learned that it is the strength of the primary relationship that will determine the success in polyamorous efforts.

Gentleman Jack and I have had many discussions regarding this and other experiences we'd like to share together. The thing is, we are only 8 months in and we live 200 miles apart. Our relationship, though strong, is still fragile. We are still building trust. Who knows if we ever experience these things or choose not to. Neither of us wants to deny the other anything that brings happiness. However, we have to start with US first.

Another thing I found curious was your language around your bisexuality. You said, "I admitted I am bisexual" which just stung me a little. Why did you say "admitted"? It sounds like you've done something bad. I would think you could say something like "I celebrated here on my blog that I am bisexual" or "I shared with all of you that I am bisexual" Why admit? I just wondered if you were untangling some unconscious stigma relating to your beautiful bisexuality.

You are correct. I shouldn't have put it in quite that language.

Part of the reasoning is the sexual repression you spoke of earlier. I know that I have many readers that are monogamous or perhaps not interested in my sexuality. I think I wrote it that way as to not turn anyone away.

Perhaps I do still feel shame in it. I have lost the trust of many people because of it. That, again, will be discussed in more detail later.

As for you and GJ - what a perfect character to enter into your life right now. He's a real teacher for you, and a strong man by the sounds of it. I like Gentleman Jack. Who wouldn't based on what you write about him. I love how he approached your overt Facebook status and his discomfort with your sharing in this way:

"This didn't feel good to me. I'm letting you know. I will figure out how to deal with it."

That is exactly the kind of strength and open communication you need in a man. Your learning path with him is very interesting to me and I feel very honoured to be alongside you reading.

WOW. Thank you so much Krista. I heart you bad.

I am learning all the time. I hope that it is helping someone out there.

Thanks for reading.

 continued in part 2

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Athletic goals, building strength and losing that winter weight

Well, it is January and officially 5 months since I had my tummy tuck surgery. I feel the need to get back to pre-surgery strength again. When I am not moving, I definitely feel like a 40 year old woman.

Yoga:

Last Sunday, I woke up with my body dreaming and begging for wheel pose (or Urdhva Dhanurasana for all you yogis who speak Sanskrit). You know, this one:


Weird because when I went to yoga class that morning (my 4th class since the surgery in August), the pose that we were building up to was - you guessed it - wheel.

Surprisingly, I did it without feeling any stretching or pain in my abdomen. I was worried because my body knows how to do it and has the strength to do it but my abdomen muscle and/or skin may not have been ready for it. Apparently, it was.

Yay!

That was a huge sigh of relief for me. I have been purposely holding back in my yoga and other athletic workouts due to fear. I love that my body told me when it was ready.

Swimming:

I had been feeling a very strange pulling sensation in my upper abdomen when I attempted swimming laps again. I am still not up to the same swimming distance that I was when I completed my last triathlon in early August. However, after our trip to Mexico and lots of snorkeling, the pain has subsided in my abdomen and I am slowly building up swimming endurance again. Now to make time to do it at least twice a week.

Running:

I have really not stopped running. My speed is about the same as it was pre-surgery, i.e. slow. I definitely need to get with someone who inspires me to run faster. I am also going to try running with an iPod.

I know. I'm sure many of you are saying, "What?! You've never run with an iPod?!"

And the answer would be 'no'.

I like hearing nature. I like knowing when there's a car coming. However, I do not like being bored out of my gourd on a treadmill and so, I will begin running with an iPod. Let me know if you have any ideas for a good playlist.

Cycling:

Believe it or not, I have been nervous to get outside on the bike again. I guess I'm worried about my endurance. I have my bike set up on the trainer in the house and I still get on it now and again.

Then I registered for another 2-day, 160 mile bike ride for charity.

So now its time to get my hoohah back into saddle shape again. That second day is always a doozie. Whew!

I'll be getting back on the bike trainer at least every other day for a while to build up to the charity event in May.


Triathlons, Duathlons, Runs and other events:
  • The plan is to get in a few more 5K runs, possibly pushing that into 10K runs this year.
  • One of my co-workers and I relayed in a duathlon last year and had a blast. We may do another one in April.
  • 160 mile bike ride for charity is in May. I will be participating in some long distance (at least 50 mile) training rides throughout April as well.
  • I may possibly head back down south to participate in the women's triathlon I did last year. It was so much fun. Besides, Gentleman Jack has never traveled to that part of Texas. 
  • I also may participate in a few small local indoor triathlons just for the fun of triathlon.

Winter weight and resting:

I am nervous and excited about athletic aspirations for 2010. I am definitely going easier on myself this year than in previous years. My goal to do a triathlon by age 40 was reached. Now its a matter of maintaining the strength and health in my muscles and bones.

I've noticed, as I'm sure everyone has, that the gyms are crowded and everyone is going on harsh diets to lose weight. I see nothing wrong with changing eating habits and building a new habit of healthy exercise. But I think that if we hit the ground running and are too hard on ourselves, we'll burn out.

This winter, I decided not to feel guilty about adding winter weight or resting my body. I think it is our body's natural response to put on weight in the winter due to the cold weather. I mean, haven't you seen those people that live in year round frigid conditions?! They have to be heavy to maintain warmth!

Maybe we need the comfort foods of winter and a little more weight. Why the hell not? But just as I prefer to go gentle on my body when building back my strength, I also go gentle when eating over the winter. I try not to binge, either way.

So, if I were to offer advice to all of those New Year's resolutioners, I'd say, 'don't rush to lose it'. As the weather warms, listen to what your body is craving. More than likely, your diet will subconsciously change from heavy creamy soups and comfort foods to salads and fresh fruits and vegetables. If you follow the natural order of foods in season and the lengthening of days for outdoor exercise, you will automatically lose the winter weight.

It starts with awareness.

Go gentle into 2010. Be kind to your body. Set boundaries around food. Set athletic goals. Your body will thank you for it.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Why it's different this time

I know I'm swooning quite a bit over how much I love my man or how good he treats me.

I heart my Gentleman. Bad. But honestly, I've had opportunities to be with men who were just as incredible as him.

Other men who were perfectly sweet and honest and loving and kind and beautiful in their own way and for some reason, I didn't choose them.

The difference this time is me.

---

When I met future-ex-husband for the first time, he had me in complete swoonsville too. I had recently left Louisiana where I was in a relationship with a guy who went to school and smoked pot all the time. He didn't have a job because his parents gave him money to live on. He had cheated on me two weeks before I moved to Dallas. A real winner, right?

My ex-husband was, and still is, a very good man. I was crazy attracted to him. I looked up to him for being handsome, intelligent, steady, grounded, funny and worldly. Everyone in his family was college-educated. They cooked gourmet meals for dinner from scratch! This was an entirely new world compared to where I came from.

However, there were things about him and his personality that didn't fit me. We had many, MANY fights. We broke up nearly every 9 months to a year. When we were broken up, there were fabulous people in my life that I could have dated. People just as awesome as my Gentleman Jack. (You know who you are.)

I couldn't see past HIM though. I wanted to be with future-ex-husband and no one else would do. We married 4 years into our relationship.

Before we finally took the plunge into marriage though, I broke up with my future-ex-husband yet again. I made a list of all of the characteristics I wanted in a boyfriend and relationship. When I showed him the list, he said simply, "This isn't me." I agreed with him.

Oh how I would love to have that list NOW!!

We broke up for what I thought would be the last and final time. I moved on, hoping that my list would manifest. And, as lists do, it did manifest in a beautiful, amazing man from my past. An old friend that I knew from Louisiana had moved to Dallas and lived, oddly enough, within a mile of my apartment. He called my mother back home for my phone number and we went out.

We'll call him MM.

MM was EVERYTHING on my list and then some. He treated me like a princess. He came from a wealthy, loving family. He was studying to be an airline pilot. He had a grrrreeeeaat body. He was so hot, so gorgeous, so sexy. He was respectful, gentlemanly and he adored every single thing about me.

I loved being around him. I was proud to be with him. We smiled. A LOT. We laughed. A LOT. I swooned. A LOT. He traveled for training but other than that, we were inseparable. Within the first few months, he wanted to marry me.

There was only one problem:

I could not have sex with him.

Almost like I was blocked or something, I could not be sexual with this wonderful dreamboat of a man at all. At that point in my life, I had only been sexual (other than an initial exploration with the former boyfriend in Louisiana) with my future-ex-husband. I would sleep naked with MM and had no interest whatsoever in having sex with him. He was respectful and patient.

*sigh*  Talk about regrets...

Frankly, it felt as if I was cheating on future-ex-husband. Finally, one weeknight when MM was traveling, future-ex-husband and I went out as friends. We drank too many margaritas and... yeah, we ended up back at my place, naked and going at it like two sex-starved teenagers.

MM knew, when he returned to my apartment that weekend, that something had changed. I felt awful. Future-ex-husband had cried about losing me. He didn't want me to marry MM.

I was at that crossroads of Mr. Perfect MM and Future-Ex-Husband and... I chose a path that I guess I needed to choose.

---

I can't explain attraction. Its just... there. I needed to marry him and he needed to marry me. Our marriage wasn't all bad either. In fact, it was mostly very good. My ex-husband and I had many great, swoonable moments in our relationship and marriage too. He could be very romantic and genuine. He always made me laugh. He appreciated me and loved me in his own way. It was a relationship that I needed to have. I am happy that I chose it.

I chose it and it ran its course.

Life has such a way, doesn't it?

---

So when I write about re-examining my sexuality, when I find that I must stop advertising my sex like a single girl, I feel that I am again at a crossroads:

Do I continue to be overtly sexual, have a double life of dating men and women, flirt and tease and play and explore, attract trouble and/or men who want to share me or parade me like their favorite sex star?

Or do I feel gratitude that I got what I asked for? I said I wanted monogamous but kinky, confident but humble. I said I wanted a man who would feel comfortable exploring sex "but it'd be nice if he would share that exploration with me only." GJ is exactly what I asked for.... just as MM was.

This time, I'm considering that what I wanted on that first list is no different that what I wanted on my most recent list. I've been fortunate enough to have another go at it.

Is it what I need? Is it the perfect match for me?

I have no idea but it certainly feels fantastic.

This time, I am going to give it a try. I have learned lessons in appreciating what I am being offered instead of looking around to see if there's something different to be had. This time I see myself as worthy of the adoration of an honest, loving man. This time I know that love doesn't have to mean pain or putting up with or fighting or all of the discomfort I felt in trying to adapt to a life with someone who doesn't fit.

Maybe I thought I was supposed to marry the first man I was sexual with? Maybe there was some subconscious motive or forgiveness of my father or something that lead me to marry my ex? I don't know.

I don't regret anything - well, ok, except for wondering what sex would have been like with MM - because apparently, I had much to learn about myself.

I wouldn't be able to appreciate Gentleman Jack had I not been through all that I have before.

It kind of makes you wonder though, doesn't it? That maybe there's someone in your life right now that you are overlooking...

Monday, January 11, 2010

From Within, Without: A Film about Homeopathy

If you've been reading here for a while you know that I am a big proponent of natural medicine, specifically homeopathy.

I discovered homeopathy when Rose was a year old and suffering from recurring ear infections. When the doctor suggested tubes for her ears, a very common surgery for children that age, I flipped out. There was no way I was going to put my baby girl under the knife. There had to be a better way.

That's when I discovered the book: Smart Medicine for a Healthier Child by Janet Zand. In the book, for every childhood ailment, the author gave details of every possible remedy to try from a visit to your medical doctor, to nutrition advice, to herbal remedies, to accupressure, to homeopathy. I tried the nutrition advice and homeopathic remedy suggested for ear infections and they were gone. She's had one ear infection in the 7 years since then.

I studied homeopathy for a while towards the end of my marriage but had to quit school to go back to work full time. I still use it. For me. For my kids. If I had a pet, I'd use it for that too.

A friend sent me a trailer for a movie in the works about homeopathy and how it can help autistic children. Check out the trailer for yourself:


From Within, Without -- Fundraising Trailer from laurel chiten on Vimeo.

If you have more interest in the film, here is the website: Blind Dog Films

If anything, I hope this movie opens the minds, as it has so far, to a possibility of complementary medicine now and going into the future.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Boundaries and Abuse

After the wonderful feeling of Gentleman Jack accepting me and allowing me to shine in my previous post, I, unknowingly and completely unintentionally, upset him that same evening.

Grrr... Facebook

I unwittingly gave too much information, i.e. was too flirtatious, in a status update. In my head, I thought it was funny. I thought he would find it funny too. Nope. He got a lump in his stomach that men would begin picturing what I was describing....

*sigh*

Aaaaannnnd there I go again. Again, putting my sexuality out where it doesn't belong for the entire world to see.

Thankfully, my man can talk to me. He tells me if something feels uncomfortable, not in an accusatory way, but in a way that says, "This didn't feel good to me. I'm letting you know. I will figure out how to deal with it."

So, we talked about it for 2 1/2 hours. We got a lot of good stuff out there and I felt bad that I'd hurt him again.

We keep getting back to the same thing: He cares. And he doesn't want to share.

Meanwhile, I've spent the past 25 years putting it out there and selecting men who said they didn't care if I put it all out there. I've been with men who wanted to flaunt me like some sexy doll. I've flirted and sexied my way to garnishing all the attention a woman can. I've relished in it. Its also lead to my attracting trouble and/or the wrong men.

When I awoke the next morning after our conversation and felt awful, I asked for spiritual guidance again. What do I need? How do I do this?

The answer? Love Coach Rinatta

I can't explain it but something told me that she would have the answer. I've never even spoken with her before but something told me I needed to. So, I sent her a message on Twitter.

She contacted me right away and we had a wonderful conversation.

Rinatta has been reading my blog for nearly 2 years. She knows the persona of "T". She's seen the struggles and growth. She believes much of the same spiritual principles as me. She was the perfect person to talk to.

"First question," she began after hearing my story, "Do you think he is worth changing this part of yourself?"

I know that I feel healthier in this relationship than any other that came before. But I don't really want to think I'm "changing" myself for someone else. I want to make changes for me.

Rinatta said that in every relationship, we naturally change or alter old habits or bend to be with someone else. Your partner should do the same. We can't be the same people we are when we're single.

"I've been wanting to ask you this for some time," she paused, "Were you ever sexually abused?"

No. I wasn't. But I did grow up the oldest child to a young mom who lived her teenage years vicariously through me and with me. Mom was outgoing and fun. She was sexy and beautiful (still is!). She flirted relentlessly with my male friends.

"That could be considered abusive. Not in the sense that you were physically abused but you were not taught sexual boundaries. That could be considered 'abuse'."

Wow. My head has difficulty wrapping around the word "abuse" but I do know that I wasn't taught boundaries. My mother was in full rebellion from an overly dominate Catholic mother. I had fun right along side her. I learned my flirtatious ways from her. I began flirting as a teenager and it was completely second nature to me. It just came out of me without even trying.

Oy. I guess we unintentionally abuse those we love the most sometimes, don't we?

Rinatta went on to tell me that this is why my relationship with Gentleman Jack is so perfectly fitting for me. And my daughters. I am re-parenting myself to learn these appropriate sexual boundaries and I will therefore raise my daughters the same way.

"Think of it this way," Rinatta said, "How would you parent yourself or your daughters differently if you knew that you were preparing yourself or them for a wonderful relationship like the one you're in now?"

GJ's concern is that he does not want to "stifle" what he considers a big part of me. He knows that I'm sensual. He knows that life turns me on. He's very attracted to that part of me. He loves my sexuality. He wants it behind closed doors but he doesn't want me putting it all out there for everyone else to fantasize about me. I know that I have toned down, a lot, since he's come into my life. This happened without even trying.

My concern is the same as his though. Is this overt sexuality a healthy part of me? Is it simply attention seeking? If I stifle it, will it come roaring back at some future date?



Is it stifling or creating a new, healthier habit?



Rinatta continued: "You've been heavier and lost weight. How did you do that? Do you still binge today?"

No, I don't binge. I joined Weight Watchers and learned a new, healthier way to eat. Now, its such a habit that I don't even think about it.

"Then its the same thing. You're creating a new habit. It won't come roaring back. Eventually it will become second nature. Just as you built boundaries around food, you can do the same thing with sex. Both can be addictions."

Rinatta asked if I was sexually abused and I haven't been. However, many of my girlfriends were. Those same girlfriends have felt stifled in their own marriages because they can't explore their sexuality.

I've done it. I've been involved in all kinds of sexual situations and quite frankly, they're fun and exciting but unfulfilling for me. For some people, this type of lifestyle works for them. I love those people. I link to blogs of people like that. It's intriguing to me but... it just didn't fit me. It didn't work for me. Maybe I'm not built for it emotionally.

I want real intimacy. I think I've been using this wanton sexuality to avoid true intimacy. It allowed me to put on a show to, ironically, avoid exposing all of me. Gentleman Jack is the first person with whom I want to share my true vulnerability. When I share this side of me, he feels closer to me. It also allows him to build trust in me and expose his own vulnerability. Then we get closer and closer.

Vulnerability builds intimacy.

I want real trust. I want the real me. I will continue to be the sexual vixen that my Gentleman loves but I believe I need to curtail the fearless sexual attention seeking outside of our relationship.

I don't know how to do this but I'm working on it. I may be exploring my sexual history here - just as I did with my affair - to look at my motives and process it.

I am naturally a sexual person and will always be. However, I have to learn some respect... for me, for GJ, for sex, for the people around me. I know that many are uncomfortable with my in-yer-face sexual nature. Its not my responsibility for how people react to me but I don't like putting people off. I am learning. Constantly.

I am thankful for Rinatta for her wisdom. I am thankful for Gentleman Jack for his patience.

Now I have to be compassionate and loving to bring out the healthiest me I've ever been.



**Rinatta's words were paraphrased for the context of this post. She is also going to offer a wonderful program to my readers in the next few weeks. I can't recommend her enough. If you want a fulfilling happy relationship and are willing to do the introspective work it takes to get one, you will love her.**

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Learning to shine my light

A few nights ago, Gentleman Jack and I were talking about our future and our past. I told him that I look forward to spending next New Year's Eve with him, wherever we are. We both agreed that there was no predicting this most recent New Year compared to where I was the previous New Year's Eve:

I was visiting my bloggy friends Rachel, Jim and David in San Francisco.

Soldier and I were no more, though he'd surprised me with a phone call from Baghdad on my birthday.

As I talked more about where things were with Soldier at that time, Gentleman Jack stopped me.

"Its weird. When I hear you talk about (Soldier), I can't relate to your emotions because... it doesn't even sound like you at all!"

**

I find myself, when talking about my previous relationship, sounding so disdainful. I don't like that feeling. I'm trying to look at it and figure it out.

I suppose, as QT Mama pointed out in her comment the other day, that I put a lot of pressure on myself. I do aim to figure out me, my life, my motivations, my reasons, my modus operandi, if you will.

**

This morning, when I recalled GJ's statement, it occurred to me:

I don't like who I was with Soldier in my life.

I can't say that I didn't love him or that he didn't love me. I believe all of that was true. I can't say that I don't still love him and I'm quite positive that he still loves me.

However, trying to be together, especially after he came home from war, was like water and oil. We just didn't mix.

Others have made the same observations about me and Soldier - especially after seeing me now with my Gentleman in my life.

**

I know that in my marriage, I was the driver. I asked him out. I made the plans. I made the decisions. He didn't even ask me to marry him until one of our mutual friends asked him, "Why haven't you married her yet?!" I was the one who decided on the separation and divorce as well.

I was so sick of driving. I was so tired. Soldier, however, was the most driven man I have ever met. He made all of the decisions all the way down to when, how and how often we would communicate. I liked letting someone else take the wheel for once in my life. What I didn't realize, until later, was that I felt as if my drive was gone.

I was only driven to do as he pleased.


I lost myself in that. Everyone that knows me saw that, saw my struggle. I nearly lost my job because I didn't know how to function without him!

I guess that is somewhat normal - to be attracted to the very opposite of the relationship you just left (i.e. my marriage). Perhaps that is when you learn if you prefer the opposite or maybe need to find a healthy middle ground.

I love who I am with my Gentleman. I see so much more balance. He allows me to be *me* - and yes, even if he's uncomfortable about some things, he's changing his own thoughts to learn to accept me. I'm doing the same as well. We're both opening up to things we'd never considered before.

He lets me shine.

Which is exactly what I was asking for and predicting that I needed. I'm not sure I could ask for anything more.

Besides, he's pretty darn shiny too.

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
~ Marianne Williamson (this is the third time I've posted this quote on this blog)

"Later that day I got to thinking about relationships. There are those that open you up to something new and exotic, those that are old and familiar, those that bring up lots of questions, those that bring you somewhere unexpected, those that bring you far from where you started, and those that bring you back. But the most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you find someone to love the you you love, well, that's just fabulous."
~ Carrie Bradshaw

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Its a free country - so says my 8 year old.

Grace turns 5 years old today.

Oh my goodness they grow up WAY too fast. My baby... MY BABY is 5!!!! I hope she continues her baby snuggles with me...

We were driving to her birthday party at a jumpy-jumphouse place when Rose (my little thinker) decided to engage me in a serious and most curious conversation:

R: Mom, what do you call it when a boy wants to marry another boy or a girl wants to marry another girl?

T: (after nearly choking on bottled water) *cough cough* Um...sweetie, that's called homosexual.

R: Homo-what?

T: Homosexual. Or gay. Some people call it gay. Gay marriage.

R: So it really does happen?

T: Well, gay people do want to get married but unfortunately some people think its wrong. And they won't let the gay people get married.

R: That doesn't make sense. Its a free country.

T: (hell yeah it is!) Yes, I know sweet girl but some people think that it is against God to marry someone who is the same sex as you.

R: I don't know if God thinks that but I think God wants us to love each other.

T: Exactly.

Silence.

R: How do they make babies then?

*cough cough*

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Ready?

Back in May, right here on this blog, I admitted that I am bisexual.

After my previous relationship, I was very concerned that I would never be able to have a normal relationship again. I was my last boyfriend's personal porn star. He was a deployed soldier, denied a woman's touch for 15 months. He adored that I loved women. He wanted and even encouraged that I do more more more!!

Geez.

Yes, I enjoy women but I was not out there trying to have sex with women just for the sake of it. The women I have been with are friends, not conquests.

I was lost after that last relationship. I didn't know what would be considered normal or not. I'd explored so much sexually, that I wasn't sure I wouldn't freak the hell out of the next guy. I wondered if I could even be satisfied with a healthy, monogamous relationship with one gender. Would I be bored?

On my second phone call with Gentleman Jack, I admitted to my previous sexual experiences. He was intrigued, as I'd expected. Now looking back, I can't even tell if I was going for shock value or testing him. I didn't know how to do what we were trying to do. How do I explain what I was when I didn't even know myself?!

Then he said, "I'd still consider that cheating, you know, if we were a couple and you decided to have sex with a woman behind my back."

Um... huh?

That was the first time I'd ever heard that before. It was unexpected and.... nice. You mean he would actually care if I was intimate with someone else? Such a dramatic difference from my last relationship!

Then he continued, "I can't understand that any man wouldn't agree with me. Why wouldn't a man want you to be his and only his? Why would it be ok to share you with someone? Hasn't a man held you as something treasured and sacred before?"

And that's when I knew. I'd never felt sacred to a man. I wanted that.

My love... he worries when other men find me attractive. He doesn't want me to be taken away. However, his biggest concern is that I will miss being with a woman.

There is a difference. Yes, I will admit that. However, I don't find myself wanting. I don't feel anything but happily satisfied.

Am I still attracted to women?

Yes.

Do I want to go out and get involved with a woman?

No.

I like where I am right now.

---

Gentleman Jack expressed this concern to me before my party. He knew there would be friends at the party that I'd been intimate with. I was worried how he would react to see my overly-affectionate self after a few martinis.

Then, as we kicked off the evening, and throughout the party, he was having so much fun. We both were. My friends loved him and he felt very comfortable. Even as I began to hug on my male friends and flirt with my girlfriends, he was smiling and flirting right along with me.

At some point, two of my girlfriends became emotional. Somehow, (it is a blur), the three of us ended up in the bathroom continuing this emotional discussion. Prior to the bathroom, I was very drunk and had been extremely affectionate with these girls. One of them, I have previously been with sexually. Most everyone knew this.

Gentleman Jack was told, "Hey, T's in the bathroom making out with 2 other girls."

*sigh*

He came in and witnessed the discussion. The 4 of us talked. He saw there was nothing going on but it hurt him. He felt like I was sneaking. His worst fear was nearly realized.

He approached me with his discomfort that evening and asked that we talk about it the next day. We were sticking to our agreement to not have serious discussions if one or the other of us had been drinking. He wasn't angry or harsh. So sweet. So gentle.

The next morning, I felt awful. One of my girlfriends had left the party early. I wondered if she thought I was "making out" with 2 girls in the bathroom. The bathroom discussion worried me too. Those two friends were feeling upset. Then GJ was upset.

One drunken trip to the bathroom and I've pissed off too many people.

I cried so hard to hear his pain that next morning. I never meant to hurt him. I never meant to scare him.

But even as he told me of his fears, he caressed my hair. He pulled me close. He held me in his arms. He talked calmly and with so much love. He promised me that I wasn't scaring him away. He simply stated, "I'm an old fashioned guy. And I don't think you're ready for me yet."

---

Ready.

Ready in the sense of the day-to-day living together or being married?

I like the "old-fashioned" part of him. I need that. I long for that. It feels warm and secure.

Part of me wonders, was I just drunk? Did I go too far? Would I have pushed the boundary with my girlfriend again if he wasn't there? My intention wasn't sneaking. I was oblivious. Isn't that what most people feel when they're drunk?

Still...I would have been devastated to find my Gentleman in the bathroom with a former lover. What if I'd walked in to see him flirting heavily or making out with a girl? I have to look at it this way. When I do, I understand his concern. I can feel what he felt.

Maybe I need to work on accepting and understanding this part of myself. I need to change my perception of being with women to something more serious. If the shoe was on the other foot, it would indeed be serious...

Perhaps neither of us is "ready" for the other. There are things in his life that I am not comfortable with. Thankfully, we communicate so well, so openly and honestly. We both know that neither of us is perfect. With that knowledge comes acceptance and growth.

And we continue to take it one step at a time.

I do know that I want to be ready. I suppose that is the best next step I can take right now.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Lessons in judgment

With the spinning of my emotional whirlpool lately, I have asked for spiritual assistance in seeing things differently.

Because judgments are made based on perception, and perception comes from experience, I've learned that I really don't know nor can I do anything about what is going on in my life. All that I can do, which many of you have reminded me, is decide how it will affect me. Or... if it will affect me at all.

A Course in Miracles has a wonderful workbook with 365 lessons for every day of the year. The first few lessons are enough to make me stop and think:

Lesson 1: Nothing I see means anything.

Lesson 2: I have given everything I see all the meaning it has for me.

Lesson 3: I do not understand anything that I see.

The first few lessons do nothing more than help me to understand that my judgments are not reality. Think about it:

Everything I see is really nothing. The meaning of what I see comes purely from my experiential history with it. A cup sitting in front of me is a cup. I call it a cup because somewhere, sometime, someone told me that it was a cup and that I am to drink out of it.

When I look at the cup in front of me, I think tea. I want tea. Others may think coffee. Someone else may think soup. Someone else may see something else entirely. Perhaps the cup reminds them of taking a pottery class as a child. Perhaps the cup reminds them of an angry fight they witnessed where dishes were thrown.

All of us have different perceptions of the same thing.

We put our own stories on everything!!

Therefore, which one is real? What is the reality of that cup? Do I really understand what it is?

So, I'm left asking to see these situations in my life by what they truly are. I am willing to give up my judgments of them. They look like something painful to me but to someone else, they are not painful at all. Or maybe they are. Perhaps they're excruciating.

But somewhere, somehow, the people involved in these situations feel that their very life depends on what they are doing. Otherwise, they wouldn't be doing it.

My judgment doesn't matter. If my judgment of these situations were to become something that my life depended on, then I would be giving much power to something that has nothing to do with me.

A Course in Miracles asks: Would you rather be right or happy?

Would I rather give all of my power to my judgment of this situation, demanding that my judgment and my assessment of their actions be the correct one? Or would I prefer peace, a return to the calm observer in this and every situation?

I would rather be happy and at peace.

Therefore, it is time to take the power back. I must love them - my sister, my friend - through these things. I must trust that they have their own lessons to learn and paths to tread. I must set boundaries of how I will or won't be involved. I must save my judgments and my opinions.

I must remember that my life does not depend on the actions of other people. My life depends on me.


"Our lives are not determined by what happens to us but how we react to what happens; not by what life brings to us, but by the attitudes we bring to life. A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events and outcomes. It is a catalyst, a spark, that causes extraordinary results."
~ in a card from PT-Law Mom that stays on my fridge and taken from the book, The Resiliency Advantage by Al Siebert

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Emotional whirlpool

If I knew that I could write these words
and they would still be readable
to those of you who read
I would create a
whirlpool
for
that is
where my
emotions are
in this very moment.

--------------

I am home after seeing the fabulous movie Nine by myself. The house is quiet. I'm on the couch with my laptop in the dark eating leftovers from the party. Sitting across from me is the awesome new television that my Gentleman bought for me and my girls for a Christmas/birthday gift. I had to crank up the heat in the house a few more degrees. It doesn't feel as warm without GJ here.

I just sent him a text, my sweet love. A simple, "I miss you."

I do miss him.

But shortly after sending the text I realized.... I miss myself.

---

With my sister in her own life crisis, I am doing my best to stay uninvolved. My heart hurts for her, the struggle ahead of her, the decisions she will have to make for herself and her children. I am torn between wanting to be there, full-on, and wanting to divert my eyes lest I see the collision of pain. I don't know what to expect. I have to give it up to Faith.

Today, I received the news that one of my very best friends has lied to me. Flat out, in my face, lied to me. I was angry, initially. I wanted to lash out. I wanted to scream and yell and throw things. Then I was sad, crying, struggling. Now, I'm simply confused. I'm wondering if I haven't been there enough for her. I'm wondering why she felt the need to hide something from me. Why would she not share with me such a personal struggle?

Then again, is it a struggle? Has she been honest with me about this whole situation? Is she hiding this from me because she knows that I don't believe its what's best for her. She has TOLD me that its not what's best for her and yet, she has chosen it anyway?

Presently, I'm questioning everything she's ever said to me. The trust is gone.

Which leaves me feeling very raw... vulnerable.

---

My Gentleman and I have also been through quite a bit the past few weeks. The every-two-weeks visits have been difficult on us both with the holidays. The 12 days in between feels like lifetimes to us now. We were also hit with the old "when's the wedding?" question several times during the holidays.

It has become stressful to hear.

We've had some very serious discussions and misunderstandings these past few weeks. The worst being one night when he drank too much. The drinking wouldn't have been a big deal had I not been feeling especially emotional and needy and he simply couldn't bring my mood back from hysterical longing.

*sigh*

We tried to talk through it as we do so well. However we realized that when alcohol's involved, we should put off the serious conversations until the next day. We had to enforce that rule the night of the party as well.

But I will save that for the next blog post.

Beautifully, he handles me. Amazingly, he loves me through everything. Honestly, he communicates with me. Astonishingly, he knows me. I don't know how but its like he crawls into my body and feels everything with me. I can't explain it any other way.

He..... sees me.

He took me to see the movie Avatar in 3D yesterday. I'm certaintly not going to spoil the pretty predictable plot by giving anything away. The movie is absolutely STUNNING. Definitely see it in 3D. The most stunning part of it,  for me?

Gentleman Jack had already seen it before. And because he knows me... he. knows. me. so. well.....

He knew exactly what I'd react to.

He knew exactly what I'd love.

He knew exactly that the movie was *us*. Two different worlds, two seemingly opposite people, but some unexplainable connection and ability to communicate...

He sees me. 

My heart swells with every thought of him.

He is the best thing that's ever happened to me.

---

Presently I am feeling a conglomeration of emotions
loneliness in my solitude, my love is away
concern over impending change
sadness at a betrayal
trepidation
fear
awe
joy
love
gratitude
wonderment
enthusiastic about the future
intoxicatingly in love with a great man
faithful that everything happens as it should
thankful for this time alone to think and breathe...

Breathe.

Get back to you. Remember YOU.

It will all be ok.