Thursday, April 29, 2010

Blended



The CEO where I work and his wife host a blended families group and he's invited me a few times. I haven't made the time to go but I'm beginning to seriously consider it.

What is a blended family?

Webster defines a blended family as: a social unit consisting of two previously married parents and the children of their former marriages.

As a child of divorced-and-remarried parents, who is also divorced, has siblings who are divorced and about to divorce and remarry, and who is dating a divorced man whose ex may be remarrying someone else who is divorced... I could definitely describe myself as part of or going to be a part of a few blended families.

Whew!

One of the reasons I would be interested in attending the blended family group is because I've seen the flowchart the CEO has documenting his children and step-children and children of his ex's ex, etc.

All of them stay in touch and spend special days together. They are all part of the children's family.

I want that.

***

One of my concerns about how my ex and I spent holidays and such, post-divorce and pre-Gentleman Jack, was that we acted like we always did. We were still a couple, really, though we retired to our own homes. We still spent time with each others' families and celebrated events together.

I was worried about the day that I would have someone else in my life. What about when I want to spend a holiday with my new partner and his family? Would that be hurtful to my ex? Would he feel left out or afraid that he would be replaced? I know that I certainly wouldn't want to feel that way.

I'm sure that there's a way to be inclusive with my ex-husband and have Gentleman Jack in my life. I know it will seem awkward to the adults but we can get over it. I am not trying to force friendship or anything. I only want a united, loving, supportive front for our children.

We have a responsibility to our children and to each other, as people who play major roles in the lives of our children.

I want our daughters to see the GROWN UP side of our divorce. (I know not every divorce was as amicable as ours.) I want them to see that we can maintain some sort of semblance of a singular life even though technically, we are several different parts of other lives.

I want to create a healthy situation amongst the chaos of different households and types of parenting.

I want their daddy to know that he will always be their daddy and that he has a right to speak up in their best interests.

I want him to see that the new partner in my life is good to our children and that my parenting style has not changed. I want him to build trust, on his own, without my input.

I would expect the same from him. I would hope that he would include me in his life with his partner, whomever she is or will be.

I want our girls to feel comfortable in all households because we represent a common front, a whole family, a place of safety where they know what to expect and that they can trust those involved.

I want that.

And I'm beginning the foundation, doing everything I can, to build those bridges now. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Face the past, build a future



This morning as I made my way around the blogosphere, I stopped at one of my favorite blogs: The Cost of Living by Pisces Hanna.

I love Ms. Hanna from that deep hippie side of myself. She is all the way Pisces and I wouldn't know much about that except that MANY of my friends are Pisces also. I've tried to get into astrology, being a tough headed Capricorn, but it hasn't always been a flawless study in my experience. Then again, no study really is.

Hanna put up a link to an astrology post for this week. According to Hanna's post and the article, there are a few planets in retrograde that are affecting how we're cleaning out our pasts to build healthier futures.

What does the planetary alignment mean exactly? Again, I'm no expert but it apparently affects many patterns of energy and action on this tiny blue and green planet.

Whether you believe in that or not is up to you. What I did love about the post was the question of "How far have you come?"

From the article:
"That history look back helps us prevent all sorts of problems when we go forward. So think back to November 4, 2008, February 6, 2009, and September 14, 2009 to see what was going on THEN which is what got you to where you are NOW."

What have you resolved from certain dates in the past to help you build the future you want to build?

I went back and linked those dates (above) to the blog posts from that day. I love blogging for that reason.

How far have I come?

Well, in all of those posts, I was trying to identify myself beyond what others expected of me. I'm still working on that. This entire blog is a quest for identity beyond the form of T in a relationship or T not in a relationship.

I've learned to accept myself - not all the time, no - but I have an awareness of myself that I fought before:

I'm a romantic. I have hope. I dream. I fantasize. I long for love.

I'm not all that different from most people, am I?

Since those posts, I'm very proud to say that I am learning more about boundaries (my own and others) and identity. I hope by accepting, I allow myself to feel loved and continue to grow into my amazing future days.

How far have you come since those dates?

Do you find that your astrological sign matches who you are?


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Cool. Me? Uh huh!

During my senior year of high school, my best guy friends decided to start a band. I didn't know anything about their plans until they all sat down with me and asked me to be the lead singer.

I was shocked, nervous and excited all at once!

There was also another band - a group of guys in our high school class that I'll call the "cool kids" - that performed regularly at parties and social events. Our little band didn't have the repertoire or the experience that these other guys did.

I remember auditions for our senior talent show. The cool kids were teasing me about singing, teasing us about the one song that we knew. I also remember the looks on their faces when we rejoined them in the gym bleachers after our audition.

They were pretty shocked too. Heh. They didn't tease us anymore after that day.

We went on to perform at festivals and parties too. Sure, we didn't have the following of the cool kids, but we did have a small fan base. It was my first experience at singing and performing live. That experience lead me to many other bands and gigs after high school and up until I was pregnant with my first child.

***

Fast forward 23 years....

We're having a high school reunion in the next few months. There has been talk of a reunion of the cool kids - that band who were so popular and played together all through high school. Each member of that group has continued to pursue music in some way.

I'm dabbling on Facebook last night and an instant message pops up from the drummer of the cool kids.

"Hey, T. Wow. Has it really been 23 years?!"

Yep, definitely. We had lots to catch up on.

"We're pulling the old group together for the reunion. Did you hear? We were wondering if you'd be interested in singing a few with us?"

After I picked my jaw up from my desk, I very happily agreed.

Inside, the high school version of me danced around singing, "They like me! They REALLY like me!"

***

That's the funny thing about high school. You think you know who you are. You think the cool kids are cooler than you. You think no one likes you. You think... all sorts of things.

But in the end, with time, you find that you have a shared history with those fellow students. They all thought the same as you! None of us knew who we were. And somewhere our shared history becomes a pretty big commonality.

I've also learned that acceptance - even 20 something years later - is HUGE!

***

Any suggestions on the songs we should perform? What are your favorite 80's songs?

Here are a few we did back in the day:





Monday, April 26, 2010

Far from perfect, far from decided



Sometimes when I read comments from readers, I find that I want to explain myself further. Sometimes, I want to email each of you and say, "But wait a minute, what I didn't say was..."

And then I have to remember that this is a blog. Each post is a snapshot of time. That snapshot of time is temporary and only gives part of the whole.

Sometimes, I need to remind myself of the same thing.

Besides, I LOVE comments! Please, yes, more, MORE!!! Maybe we could all meet up for drinks and have a real discussion about this?!?

***

For instance, I was concerned about publishing the post from this weekend about anger issues that each of us, Gentleman Jack and myself, are working on improving and understanding.

Your comments reminded me of all of those things that I know to be true. I was also reminded that I am not alone in my feelings. As I read some of the comments, however, I was past the temporary state in which I wrote the post and found myself wanting to defend what we have!

How silly am I?

My motivation for publishing, I now realize, is that I wanted to show that our relationship is far from perfect. Sure, I can write all day long about the wondrous beauty of our love. I can talk for hours about how I've NEVER felt that anyone loved me like he does. I can tell you how handsome I think he is, how he does little things for me for no reason, how weird coincidences happen to us all the time, how, even when we are upset with each other, he still tells me that he has never met anyone like me, loves me harder than he can express and can't imagine his life without me in it. And how, when I allow myself to feel the depth of his love, I feel like I've bent the universe to my will!

That stuff is all good. SO very good! But we struggle. We're vastly different in so many ways. We're still trying to figure each other out. We're still trying to figure ourselves out in relation to each other. We each still have our sensitivities, fears and triggers.

We *still* don't have a clue what the next brushstroke of our painting will look like.

I'm sort of past the whole, "is he the one?" question. At least most of the time. I know. I don't know. I have no doubt. I'm not sure. Its scary, the ultimate-ness of that question. I do know that this thing is bigger than us. It is, as it has always been, ineffable, unexplainable, something that makes no sense.

I think what I've figured out is... that we're learning. About ourselves. About love.

Maybe that's how I should begin to look at all of my relationships. Instead of worrying about the fit, worrying about what happens next, worrying about the end when we're still at the beginning... maybe I need to just give love, be thankful, observe and grow.

Maybe that's what relationships are all about anyway?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Anger Management

Gentleman Jack and I had a huge fight.

Or rather... I reacted negatively to something he said.

But see how dramatic I was up there? ^^^

***

There are many references in my spiritual studies that discuss the feeling of being "attacked". The "attack" feeling is a feeling of separation. Generally speaking, when you feel isolated and separate from love, God, those in your life... when you feel alone, this is a feeling of attack. And usually, when one feels attacked, we attack back.

Lately with the IUD issues I've been dealing with, I've not been myself. Yesterday, I actually broke out in a rash that required a hefty single dose of Children's Benadryl. (See how hard core I am? - oh if you're considering the Paragard IUD, have your doctor test your blood for copper sensitivity first.)

Because I am not myself, I've been feeling less than worthy of love from Gentleman Jack or anybody for that matter. I was, in fact, kicking my own ass. I seem to be pretty damn good at that. Then when I was sick of beating myself up, I decided to throw a jab at Gentleman Jack. He said something that, at any other time, would be rather innocuous. It totally rubbed me the wrong way.

Let's stop this train of thought for a moment for a quote (or two) from the movie Anger Management:

"Dave, there are two kinds of angry people in this world: explosive and implosive. Explosive, which is the most common, is the type of individual you see screaming at a grocery store cashier for not taking his coupon. Implosive, the least common, is the cashier at the store who remains quiet at his job day after day until he then finally loses it and just shoots everyone in the store. You're the cashier."

You see? Gentleman Jack is the explosive type and I am the implosive type. Neither of which is good, really. Thankfully, we're both loving and patient so it takes quite a bit to set one of us off.

I rationalize my anger. I don't want to be angry at others so I "spiritualize" it as I do many things in my life. (As I did up there ^^^.) This doesn't mean that I don't get angry. Oh yes, I do, but very rarely will you see it. I don't want to hurt anyone with my anger.

Even QTMama pointed out the other day that she was proud of me for pouting. It is such a rare thing for me to admit to. Especially without apologizing for it.

Gentleman Jack, on the other hand, is transparent. I love that about him. He can't even help it.

I tend to get very dramatic when an explosion happens. I don't know how to react. I cry. I hide. I feel like its the end of the world.

And he is ... simply expressing himself, openly and honestly. Once he's been heard, he's calm, he's over it, and life goes on.

Then we both apologize and have amazing, healing discussions.

We make quite a pair.

***

"Temper's the one thing you can't get rid of, by losing it."


So after I reacted by exploding and he exploded back - because attack begets attack begets attack until someone stops the cycle - I felt terrible for showing my anger. Gentleman Jack asked why. To him, it is human to feel an emotion such as anger.

"I think things make you angry all the time," he said, "and you just take it. You take it until you're exhausted because you think everyone expects you to be Buddha. Then you get mad and you direct all of that anger towards yourself. Well, its OK to be angry. Its OK to stand up for yourself. Its OK to say 'this isn't right.' Why beat yourself up for feeling what you feel?"

Fuck, I don't know. Maybe because since childhood, I've felt like its not OK to feel angry or sad. I don't say nice things when I'm angry. I'm not a loving person when I'm angry. And I know better.

But that doesn't stop me from feeling it.

"Goosfraba"


Mostly, what I hate about a disagreement, is that I go all fatalistic. I'm like, "he's going to not love me anymore. I'm not worth loving..." and crap like that. It drove my ex-husband crazy. Apparently, I haven't learned my lesson yet.

"I have abandonment issues." I told Gentleman Jack after he questioned why I thought it was the end of the world.

"How can you say that? You and your ex were married for, what? 13 years or more? And you asked for the divorce. You decided to end the relationship with Soldier. No one has left you yet."

"Well, that's my fear. That someone will take their love away from me," I replied.

"So you take yours away first, huh?"

Dammit. I hate that he knows me so well.

I'm working on it folks. We both are.



Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Meeting halfway

Gentleman Jack and I both have quite a bit coming up in the next few weekends. He has two fishing tournaments and I have my 160 mile bike ride for charity.

(The ride I SHOULD be training for but with recent issues, my body hasn't been up to it.)

With those upcoming events and events from this past weekend, it looked like we wouldn't see each other for an entire month.

I'm sorry, you guys, I'm independent and all. I love my vibrator and everything. But 4 weeks? Um... nothankyouverymuch.

So we decided to meet halfway. There are a few little hotels along the route that turns our 3 hour drive into an easy 1 1/2 hours. We could meet on a weeknight and get up and drive our separate directions to work the next day. I like it. Great idea!

Mama's gonna get some lovin'!

***

We've also discovered that over the (almost!) year that we've been together, we've met halfway on lots of things. Emotionally. Mentally. Physically. Financially. Sexually.

Our relationship feels like a partnership in many wonderful ways. It is challenging, at times, because we're both 40 years old and very set in our ways. We've had 20 years of love relationships and 20 years of parent/child relationships that have trained us to think and act a certain way, to believe in certain non-truths, to relate to the opposite sex a particular way.

A majority of the time, we agree on lots of things. When we're together, it's ridiculously easy. We get along. Have similar tastes. Enjoy the same things.

But when each of us is hard-ass set-in-our-ways about something, it can be downright exhausting. We talk it through. We work it out. We compromise. We meet... well.... halfway.

Sometimes we even agree to disagree.

I'm not used to compromise. (SHOCKER!) Honestly, I'm used to getting my way or not getting what I want at all. I don't necessarily think its a bad thing that Gentleman Jack challenges me on some things. I guess its about time somebody did! But there are times that I don't feel like talking about it. I don't feel like working it out. Yet there he is, waiting patiently at the halfway point for me to join him.

I guess its about time this girl's growin' up, huh?


*The picture (from here) has nothing to do with the post but it cracked me up nonetheless.*

Monday, April 19, 2010

I just wanna have sex with my man and not make a baby...

*stomp*

And I just wanna write my blog and feel safe saying what I feel like saying.

*pout*

Pardon my little tantrum but I'm feeling a bit... WAH!... right now.

Grrr...

....

Ok, that's mostly out of my system.

I am still not sure what I'll do blog-wise. The more I think about it, the more I think I may archive old posts from the beginning of the blog. After all, I'm not sure anyone is reading the Soldier/deployment posts anymore. And if anyone does have interest in those, I can always offer it in print for a price, I suppose.

Maybe I will print myself a book of those old posts and store them away with my old journals.

Maybe I'll eventually archive the following year and the beginnings of my relationship with my Gentleman. Maybe I'll archive every year. I don't know.

I've spent the day going over my personal Facebook profile page and deleting those of you who know me from the blog. I'm still processing all of that. I may delete you from one of my two profiles if you're friends with my blog FB profile AND my personal FB page.

Decisions, decisions... all in the name of anonymity. In a few months, it won't matter because no one will remember what I look like or who I really am. Right?

Right?

I have to do what's right for me. And that doesn't mean running away from this space. This is MY home and dammit, I'm not going to redecorate because someone feels uncomfortable. I'm not hurtful. I'm not saying mean things about anyone. I do my best to avoid being like that in print or in real life.

Frankly, I've been a freakin' chameleon so others don't feel discomfort MY ENTIRE LIFE. For once, this little place in the blogosphere is actually me living my truth. I want to live authentically, here and in person. I LIKE who I am this way.

I'll be damned if I stop now.

***

In other news, (and perhaps TMI), I did have the Paragard copper IUD inserted as I discussed 2 weeks ago. I cramped hard. I bled hard. I was freaked out by the menstrual cycle I had compared to previous years on my Mirena IUD.

I had an amazing orgasm with my Gentleman once my cycle was over. That orgasm was quickly followed by an intense pain from my ovaries that left me curled up in a ball.

Then I was ovulating and all sorts of weirdness was happening... (and if I told you it *would* be TMI).

After ovulating, I quickly came down with a urinary tract infection. I haven't had a UTI in over a decade.

I went to the doctor today for a sonogram only to find out that the IUD has moved and my body may possibly expel it.

Nice.

In other words, its not going to work.

*sigh*

My body is reacting to my birth control like its a foreign object. I guess it is, huh?

So anyway...


***

I promise things are good with me otherwise!

I feel REALLY good about things with Gentleman Jack (who is completely supportive of my bloggy decisions though he chooses not to read), my kids (healthy, happy, smart), my job (fun, keeping me busy, supportive), my home (spring cleaned!), my life (filled with blessings).

Things are really good!

I'm taking each challenge as it comes. Pouting, a little. Stomping my foot, a little. But otherwise accepting that this is, I guess, exactly what's supposed to happen.

Thank you for all the bloggy love, my friends. I'm not going anywhere.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Intention

I do my best to live my life with no intention of hurting anyone. I believe I am fair, loving and careful with my words. Honestly, I believe most of us go through life this way. I suppose this is why I am open, forgiving, and empathetic.

This blog is MY personal space. I was initially going to say that it is my PRIVATE space but... I suppose it isn't private, is it? It is ON THE INTERNET and ANYONE can access it.

*sigh*

And because of a recent uncovering of my identity, I have found that I must go even more anonymous than I was previously. There is a part of me that wants to take advantage of the Blog2Print feature. Just print the whole thing and start over from scratch.

I cannot delete it. I cleaned out boxes in my garage today and found my journals chronicling my life from age 7 until now. I read about that little girl who struggled so hard to love herself. I read about the teenager who was filled with sadness at unrequited love and other joys of teenage angst and drama. I read about the young woman who questioned who she'd become in her life. I read about the confusion of choices made and regretted. I read about pregnancy and giddiness and sadness at a miscarry. I read about the love for my children, holding their fresh little plump bodies as babies and how they filled me with such heart-pounding joy.

I cannot delete this. Not a single post of it. These are my words. This is my perception of the events that I've been through. This is MY STORY.

My story may not be the truth of anyone else. We all have our stories. I do not choose to be right. I choose to share, to process, to find ME. This is my quest.

Yet, there has been a discomfort caused by my own personal processing. I cannot convince anyone of my intention. Fear says it doesn't matter.

I refuse to be censored but I will watch my words carefully.

I'm still trying to decide what to do.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I won't worry my life away



My girls and I stumbled across Ovation TV's Notes from the Road series featuring Jason Mraz. And Oh Em Gee... I heart me some Mr. Mraz.

We had to dance to this song because it makes me happy. The lyrics, his voice, the chorus... all of it. Apparently, he wrote the song to help a friend with cancer feel better.

Its my new theme song.

The Remedy

The remedy is the experience.
This is a dangerous liaison
I say the comedy is that it's serious.
This is a strange enough new play on words
I say the tragedy is how you're gonna spend
The rest of your nights with the light on
So shine the light on all of your friends
When it all amounts to nothing in the end.

I won't worry my life away.

I won't worry my life away.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Just for a Moment

Since the beginning of the year, I have been in some sort of heavy processing mode.

Gentleman Jack and I apparently committed to each other without even realizing it. This, of course, left me questioning damn near everything about him and/or us. It was exhausting and at times, seemed like I should pull the plug on the whole thing.

My sister is going through her own battle that leaves me and the rest of my family feeling helpless.

Friends have decisions that they are making and struggles to process. I've felt disappointed with many people in my life.

I had my own hormonal issues that left me feeling overwhelmed and even more emotional.

I've made mistakes. I've seen other people make mistakes. I've witnessed unfortunate reactions to others' and my own wounds.

All in all, it has been an exhausting year and its only April!


Occasionally, I'll reach a point where I actually say out loud,

"OK. I'm done. I choose happiness again. This worrying and trying to analyze things and be there for people is wearing me out. It is time to pull back, love me, love my children, love my life. I am supported and loved. Everything will work out fine."

I'm at that point again.

Over the weekend at Gentleman Jack's, someone caught a brief moment in time in a photograph. I could stare at this picture for hours. It speaks volumes to me. I can actually FEEL his heartbeat when I see this picture.


This captured moment in time with only one person in my life reminds me of the love around me all of the time.

I'm sure I'll flip back into my control-freak/worry wart/overthinker mode at some point. Its a habit that I'm working on breaking. Happiness, on the other hand, is a habit I'm working on building. There are too many GOOD things in my life to worry about the not-so-good.

Feels pretty damn awesome to be me.



"Every evening I turn my worries over to God. He's going to be up all night anyway."
~ Mary C. Crowley

"Happiness is like a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you."
~ Nathaniel Hawthorne

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

My Sexuality, part 5

I have been evaluating my sexuality since the beginning of this year with a series of posts. This is part 5 in the series. (part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4)

At the end of part 4 of this series, I was about to enter my first relationship with a man. I'm going to take a detour to talk about flirting.

In part 2, I realized that I wanted sexual power. In parts 3 and 4, I realized that I had that power, I had just not quite learned how to harness it.

Well, my friends, let me introduce you to the most powerfully flirtatious woman I have ever known: Me.

***

I've traditionally had more male friends than female friends.

Why?

Well, I used to say that it was because women can be bitches. I've witnessed it countless times in my life. What I've since learned is that... *I could not control women the way I could control men.*

And yes, that was extremely difficult to say.

I've learned throughout my years of honing my flirtatious ways that getting a man's interest is not that difficult. And when a man (please no offense is meant by this) stops thinking with his logical brain, he will do anything you ask. That is control.

I don't believe my wanting to "control" was a conscious act of will. This is why I'm writing about my historical relationship with sex. I never realized the control factor until now. I only thought that it felt good to be desired. Women simply didn't desire me like men did.

Truth of the matter is, since I've become a mother, I've learned to appreciate women more. I've learned to appreciate another woman's strength, vulnerability and beauty. I lost interest in trying to control.

Then I became single.

As a single woman in a world of other competitive single women, that need subconsciously reappeared. However, this time around, I felt a different comfort level with women than I did previously. I actually LOVED women.

I loved women to the point that I wanted to kiss them, touch them, make them feel good, be with them in ways I had only been with men previously. I never saw it as wanting to control them or make them desire me. To me, it was full and complete worship of femininity. I felt like the woman I was with should feel like I felt - beautiful, admired, appreciated, understood, like a goddess.

That intention comes out effortlessly when I am around women. The more powerful the woman, the better! I dote, I compliment, I caress, I love. And they respond.

***

To the regular person (whatever that looks like), it appears that I am flirting. I am comfortable with women. I am comfortable with men. I am comfortable in my own skin. I want to encourage others to be more open and free with their sexuality. I do it without thinking. It has become such a part of how I naturally relate to people that I've been told that people sense my sexual energy when I walk into a room. So when I do actually decide to flirt intentionally??

My flirting, to some people, could be considered foreplay.

I have boundaries in my mind of how far I will go. However these boundaries seem to be further than what is socially acceptable in many cases. Some people get nervous about it. Some people are intrigued by it. But nearly everyone responds to it.

I am not flirting with the intention of getting sex. I think men and women are different that way. I do not flirt so that I can conquer a person or put a notch on some sort of metaphorical bedpost. I flirt because I want people to feel good about themselves around me.

Some people feel REALLY good around me and want more. Others feel very intimidated or angered by it. My sexual energy and comfort level have gotten me into trouble countless times. I still have some relationships in recovery because of where my flirting took me. Some people don't feel safe around me. Some people feel too comfortable.

I have to draw a line somewhere and I'm not sure where or how.

***

Gentleman Jack said to me recently that he has never seen anyone in his life attract women the way that I do. It excites him and worries him at the same time. He is unsure of my boundaries. He doesn't know where I'll stop. He eggs it on out of pure intrigue and then once the ball is rolling, he pulls back unexpectedly.

He is afraid.

Neither one of us wants to "share" the other.

Recently, I've come to believe that my flirting with women is to control after all. Because if I can get any of these amazing, beautiful women to enjoy me, to want me, to pay attention to me, then they will keep their hands off of him.

Apparently, I'm afraid too.

I'm learning. I have boundaries that I need to reign in. And those boundaries aren't because of Gentleman Jack... they've been needed for a very long time.

Continue to part 6

Monday, April 12, 2010

Wounded

Imagine that you travel to another planet. On that planet are fellow beings that seem very similar to you, however, their bodies are covered with an infectious skin disease. These beings aren't born that way. Instead, the disease begins in early childhood and gets worse as they age.

This disease causes wounds all over their bodies. No one touches each other or gets too close because no one wants to feel the pain of their wounds. Even though there is a very strong need for affection, hardly anyone gets near each other, but instead maintains a wall of space around them. If the need for affection overcomes their fear of the pain, they will touch, attempting to ignore the ache. Initially, it seems worth it but soon they each begin to blame each other for the pain of the wounds. Shortly after, they decide that the closeness isn't worth the pain after all.

Now... imagine those beings are us.

This is what we do in relationships and in life. Except our wounds aren't as obvious as skin lesions on the outside of our body. Each of our wounds comes from some belief about ourselves that has been taught to us a some point in our life. We're terrified of feeling the pain of our wounds so many of us keep a wall of space around us - even when in a relationship! We're so afraid of being that vulnerable...

Then when we do allow someone in, those old wounds begin to surface. Soon it seems that the pain you feel is coming from the person you allowed to be close to you. How quickly we forget that those wounds were there long ago, given by some other person who's belief about you you chose to hold on to.

It is up to US to heal our own wounds.

In every relationship - parent/child/sibling/friend/partner - it is each person's responsibility to care and treat their own wounds. The way to healing is a three step process:

  1. Truth
  2. Forgiveness
  3. Self-love
With truth, you have to cut open each wound. Question those deep beliefs about yourself. Is this the truth of you? Do you really believe you are not good enough for love?

Forgiveness does not mean looking back at the person who inflicted the wound and saying, "I'm going to forget what you did to me." No, forgiveness is something you do for yourself. Forgiveness is a choice to take back your power and not give energy to the hatred towards that person. That hatred is what causes the wound to fester. Forgiveness means, "I realize what you did wasn't the truth about me. Or you. You reacted to your wounds too."

Self-love is the best salve for those wounds. Ironically, the very fact that you want to heal your wounds indicates self-love. With love, you can treat yourself with gentle kindness, nursing yourself back to health. You can look at the scars and smile with the realization that a healed wound means a more loving you.

Everyone reacts to their own wounds. It may seem that you are the cause of their wound but remember, each wound is an untrue belief that the other person chose to make real. Your reaction to their reaction is your own wound.

That anger, that sadness, that rage, that frustration, that selfishness, all of it, is pain. Pain is nothing more than resistance to truth.

What is your truth?

Do you believe you are worthy of love?

Sadly most of us don't. Which is why we live in this world of reaction and fear. I am doing my best to stop reacting and to love more. Fear is nothing more than a call for love anyway.

My truth is the same as yours. We are the very same.


**Inspired by The Mastery of Love by don Miguel-Ruiz.**

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Advice

People have always come to me for advice.

I remember at 16 years old, I counseled one of my best guy friends' parents about their marriage. They were considering divorce...and have now been married 40 something years!

From childhood, I was told that I was an "old soul". I question A LOT. I read A LOT. I beat myself up WAY TOO MUCH. Or sometimes, I try to get myself out of the way and let thoughts come to me.

But still, advice is usually given from the standpoint of putting myself in your shoes. What that means is that I'm also throwing my experience and perspective in there too. Which means that my advice may not be right for you, but it is what I think I would do.

At this point in my life, with all that I've experienced, I notice that I tend to offer advice without even being asked. And I'm not sure that's a good thing.

***

Everything that I blog about from sex, relationships, fitness, health and spirituality are all things that I need to learn or things I feel that I am beginning to figure out for myself. My blog is an advice column for ME. However, when it helps others, I feel a whole lot less alone in the world.

Thank you all for letting me know when it does help.

I've also noticed that when I or someone else is experiencing a low, I do my best to be encouraging and positive. I am giving the advice that *I* would like to receive.

Remember: We teach what we need to learn.

What I've found is that not everyone responds well to the "advice" I'd offer myself.

Some people want to be encouraged.

Others want to be validated in their misery.

If I look at myself in my own low moments, I understand this. Often, I realize that I'm *choosing* to feel bad or that I *want* to wallow in victimhood. In those moments, I may fight a different perspective. It really is up to me to (once again) allow myself to feel better. Sometimes a word of encouragement is that trigger. Other times, the trigger may be to step outside of myself by busying my mind with something else... like laughter.

"Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face."
~ Victor Hugo

I am also learning that others simply want someone to listen and stay quiet. I am doing my best to offer that. I certainly don't believe that my answer or advice is always the best advice. Again, my advice has a huge bias.

And quite frankly, I am more than willing to be wrong.

***

I think my first reaction is to encourage and not commiserate because I try not to see people or myself as victims. Though, on the other hand, I know we sometimes feel that way.

Yes, there are things that happen to all of us that downright suck.

Yes, there are times when we need to wallow in it and feel bad about it. (Me too!)

But do people really want it to be the truth about themselves?

***

My daughter Rose has been playing this role lately. When she gets in trouble, she declares, "I am the worst kid ever!"

Lately, I've called her bluff by saying, "OK."

She gets furious!

"Why are you agreeing with me Mommy?!"

That's when I ask her, "Do you really believe you are the 'worst kid ever'?"

Of course she says no.

"Then stop declaring that you are unless you want other people to believe that about you."

***

Personally, I appreciate when someone disagrees with me on my victimhood. I find it empowering to know that I can change how I look at this. I can't change what's happening. And perhaps I also can't judge it.

Maybe this is a very good thing?

Maybe there's a beauty in this that I'm not seeing?

Maybe this is a dark night of the soul with an amazing forward step to my growth and potential?


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


How else is it going to change if I continue to give it the power over me? Once I release it, give it up, see it differently, then it changes.


"Things don't change just because you hold on to them. They change when you let go."
~ unknown


I believe there is power in someone seeing you beyond the battle that you're fighting. However, I am not beyond changing the outward show of support people in my life who ask me for advice.

It just may or may not always be what you want to hear.


How do YOU feel when I offer advice to you? How do you wish to be treated in your low moments?



"Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle"
~ Plato

"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

Monday, April 5, 2010

Relationship Purgatory

Gentleman Jack and I had a great talk last week about my future-tripping and processing of my thoughts. I was in major breakdown mode by the time we were finally able to have a good discussion.

Can I just say for the record that wow... the very fact that the man will have these discussions with me is amazing?!

We talked about our future and our responsibilities that we wish to tackle alone and with another. We talked about past relationships and how they have affected us and our desires to marry again. We talked about the unexplainable attraction to each other and our relationship. We discussed how this entire thing makes no sense and how we continue to ride on faith, all the while being patient and looking forward to a future together.

Some of our discussion left me feeling sad. I very nearly pulled the plug on the entire thing because I felt undeniable sadness...

I looked at my clock and it was 9 minutes until midnight. Nine minutes until his birthday. I took a deep breath and decided what to say next.

Then, I can't explain it, but something happened. Something clicked.

Clarity.

I breathed a sigh of relief.

He was worried, speaking softly, preparing himself for the worst..."Baby, please remember what it feels like when we're together. Remember how I touch you, how we hold each other. Remember how we complete each others' thoughts. Remember how we laugh and enjoy each other. Please remember that when we say 'goodbye' that we always have tomorrow..."

I'd forgotten. It'd been 3 weeks since we'd last seen each other. We needed this past weekend. We needed to speak our love language again.

***

After being able to see a little more clearly and after reading about Jolene's overthinking in her new relationship, it occurred to me where the problem lies:

Relationship purgatory.

I grew up Catholic and I remember my grandmother telling me that purgatory was a place you went to after you died, but before you went to heaven or hell. The "hellish" part of purgatory was that you just sat there... awaiting judgment.

I think that's what freaks me (and apparently others) out so much. We have NO IDEA what lies ahead. It could be heaven OR hell. Yikes! And sometimes, we'd rather doom ourselves to hell before someone else does it for us!

I wonder if this is primarily a female thing? Or perhaps a divorced female thing?

Because the question I've been asking myself lately is: When did GJ become the cake instead of the icing?

For 4 years since becoming a single mom, I've been actively building a life of stability, love, laughter and self-reliance. My girls and I have a great fluffy little cake we're baking over here. We're happy. Gentleman Jack in my life was an unexpected icing on my cake but somewhere in the past few months, I let out all of the air from my 'self-reliance' and began focusing more on him.

"We committed to each other without even realizing it," he told me last week.

He's right. We certainly did. It feels wonderful, comfortable, warm and safe.

I will breathe in his love. I will try to remember those moments we share when we're not together. However, I also have to remember ME, my happiness, my stability and allow him to fit in where he can. This entire relationship has developed under the "no pressure" rule and has blossomed into an amazing thing. It is ever developing into a most unexpected pleasure.


"Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished."
~ Lao Tzu

Sunday, April 4, 2010

"God is imperfect and so am I"



In a recent conversation, Gentleman Jack was telling me about a situation with his oldest son. GJ, like me, was raised with a really tough father who pushed perfection. Both of us now beat ourselves up for not being perfect.

He actually handles it better than I do.

He has noticed perfectionist tendencies in his teenage son, Carbon Copy. In order to help CC when he feels disappointed in himself, Gentleman Jack told him,

"Hey, even God is imperfect. He made us in his own image so we must be imperfect too."

He left me thinking about that statement for a little while....

***

I finally took the time to watch Dr. Wayne Dyer's movie, The Shift. In the movie, Dr. Dyer discusses the "shift" from ambition to meaning. In further detail, this shift is a change in perception from ego-focused to God-focused. The movie runs like a docu-drama where Dr. Dyer is delivering a commentary but the viewer also peers into the lives of people who are feeling a shift of their own.

In A Course in Miracles, we talk much about the "ego" versus our "true Self". The ego is most definitely our imperfect self, focused solely on success, material gain, status, ambition and who we believe we are in relation to other people. We live our lives in defense and judgment, of ourselves and others. I think that many of us believe in the judgmental, vengeful, reluctantly loving "god" that is based on this ego idea. I believe this representation of God is imperfect as well. The main ego-focused idea is: "Who is God in relation to me?"

I also believe that when the shift happens from ego-focused to God-focused, the question then becomes, "How can I better represent God to those that I encounter?" We begin to search for meaning to everything in our lives. We begin to feel connection and self-realization. We begin to allow our true Selves, our Spirit, to realize our connection to each other, as well as our connection to the perfection, the whole, the loving, accepting God. This is the perfect God. This is when selflessness becomes our "ambition" and we live our lives with acceptance and forgiveness. This is when we find our peace.

Moksha is a word that I learned recently in yoga. Moksha, a Sanskrit word, means: ultimate peace, ultimate knowledge, and ultimate enlightenment.

I want Moksha. My quest, I've realized, is an eternal search for Moksha with little mini-shifts here and there.

***

In order to reach a shifting place, I believe we have to embrace our imperfection. We have to reach a place in our lives when we decide that our ambition was realized and yet we still feel as if something is missing. That is when we open up to it. That is when we allow the shift to happen.


What I've found, in my personal experience, is that sometimes I'm willing to embrace the God-focused, perfection of true Self... and sometimes I'm not. I find that I'm shifting back and forth. I'm not sure that happened until I went through the demise of my marriage. I'm not sure I was willing to shift at all until I lost everything I thought I believed in.


Gentleman Jack helps me to remember that its ok to not be "perfect" all the time - that its ok when I've shifted away from that part of me that trusts and has faith. Perhaps I need to re-evaluate that part of me that tries to be perfect - my ego. Perhaps its very definition of "perfect" will never be realized anyway.

My Gentleman... he's such a Buddha.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Reconciliation Day

I spend a lot of time in my spiritual studies learning or teaching about forgiveness. When I read recently in Experience Life magazine that tomorrow, April 2 was Reconciliation Day, I knew I had to write about it.

And how wonderful that the day falls on the Good Friday of Easter weekend!

The magazine featured an amazing story of forgiveness and recommended steps to bring it about. I've also been reading an inspirational single mom blogger's struggle to forgive herself for the sake of her daughter.

We all have our own steps to forgiveness, reasons and people to forgive. To me, forgiveness is deciding to let go of the blame, the anger, the poison that is no longer hurting the object of our hate, but ourselves. I've also learned that removing the blame from others and blaming yourself is the exact same thing. The pain is still there, either way. Where there is pain, there is hate.


Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury,pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen


I need this right now. I still have many old wounds that need care, love and healing. I need to look at myself and forgive these thoughts that bear on me and drag me deep into a dark place that I sometimes struggle to crawl out of.

I have learned in my own experience that forgiveness brings peace of mind, self-acceptance, generosity, kindness and love where you'd least expect it. Both of the above stories and many, many others have proven the same thing.

There is nothing really to add. Except your own stories....

Who will you consider forgiving this Reconciliation Day?



"For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned."
~ Buddha

"It is wise to direct your anger towards problems -- not people; to focus your energies on answers -- not excuses."
~ William Arthur Ward

"...for as blame is withdrawn from without, there is a strong tendency to harbor it within.

It is difficult, at first, to realize that this is EXACTLY the same thing....

That is why blame must be UNDONE, NOT re-allocated…"
~ A Course in Miracles


Also check out this article by Karen Salmonsohn on bouncing back from adversity.