Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Compromise: Why can't we both be right?

Yesterday, Gentleman Jack called me with some bad news. I listened to him and calmly said, "I'm not worried. It will work out. Don't you believe me?"

He gave me his answer, "I hear you, baby..."

Which meant, "No, I don't believe you."

*sigh*

HAVE FAITH my man!!

Which, I know, is difficult when you're on the butt end of something crappy. I get this. But I also know our history... and when the both of us agree that things will work out, we get amazing results. It's happened on more occasions than I could mention.

Then, on our phone call last night, we chit chatted about our evening until he finally said, "I'm wondering how long I can stall here before I finally have to admit that you were right." I could hear the smile in his voice.

Ahhhh, so things DID work out, huh? DUH!

"What's wrong with me being right?" I asked, "Especially when the alternative, YOU being right, means that you're doomed."

"I just wish we could BOTH be right." he said.

Then I suggested a compromise:

"How about this: Why don't you just agree with me from here on out and then we'll BOTH BE RIGHT?!"

I think it's a perfect compromise, yes?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Distrust means You forgot who You are

I am still amazed at the revelations I have in yoga class. This one, in particular, happened on the WAY to yoga class. It hit me like a ton of bricks.

"Distrust means you forgot who you are..."

When I recall the doubts from Friday and then remember my man's gentle reminder of what I mean to him, this revelation makes complete sense.

Having a feeling of distrust comes from fear and doubt. Fear and doubt meant that I forgot how he cares for me and what a blessing it is for both of us to be in this relationship. Fear and doubt meant that I believed going through yet another failed relationship would kill me. Even beyond that, fear and doubt meant that I wasn't trusting that I am exactly where I'm supposed to be.

From a strictly human level, I could say what I forgot was that I'm pretty awesome. Heh. Well, *I* think I am. I think I'm loving, sharing, nurturing and compassionate in a relationship. I believe I'm willing to be open to another's thoughts about life in general. I believe I'm quite a catch... no matter what baggage I'm still carrying. In fact, I know that I've done nothing these past few years but work at ridding myself of the extra bags. I feel like I'm down to a carry on at this point! I forgot that I'm the person my Gentleman adores... for all of those reasons and more!

I also forgot that I've not only survived but grown in spite of past relationships. Yes, I come from a family of serial non-monogamists. Yes, my expectation, based on past history, is that pattern will continue. But I'm willing to be proven wrong and that's something, isn't it?! Even if I were to see yet another infidelity, I would be crushed, for certain, but I'd also know that I could come back stronger than ever. I always have. Why should this time be any different?

Besides, if I've learned ANYTHING from being cheated on and being a cheater... it's that infidelity has nothing to do with the person being deceived. 

From a spiritual level, I forgot that SomeOne Else knows the plan. I know that the best way for me to heal my wounds from the past is to face them again...

"To heal our wounds, we need the courage to face them"
~ Paulo Coelho

...which means OF COURSE I'm going to perceive situations that trigger my fear and doubt. However this time, can I trust and love my way through it instead of expecting it? Can I look at the fear in the face and see that it's nothing? Can I make sure that False Evidence Appearing Real is dissolved by faith? Can I remember that, ultimately, I cannot be hurt unless I believe that I can?

I'm identifying with who I think I am rather than Who I Really Am.

And that's OKAY. We all forget from time to time, right? It's part of the human experience.

"Living in time and space, T, just might be the scariest, most heartbreaking, and lonely path an angel could ever choose.

Until, of course, they realize that being scared doesn't mean they can't make a difference, broken hearts can still love just fine, and that feeling lonely doesn't mean they're actually alone.

Then they'll laugh an angel laugh, fluff their wings, and dare a new dare all over again.

Love your halo,
The Universe"


Also, I would like to apologize for triggering your fears too. Many of you projected your fear onto my situation, in the comments of Friday's post, because again, we ALL do that. We forget that "broken hearts can still love just fine", don't we? We forget that just because we feel lonely, it "doesn't mean we're actually alone." We're all in this together on some level, aren't we?

I'm going to fluff my wings and fly face first into this dare that so-called fear has placed before me. I have a man who's willing to fly alongside me. I have a heart that carries more love than I could give. And I have a faith that's bigger and stronger than all of that.

I just forgot for a little while.

Friday, August 26, 2011

My Man is not the Enemy

I can't explain the forces at work when Gentleman Jack and I weave our way through an argument, discussion or misunderstanding.

There's usually yelling, crying, and hanging up the phone.

Then... somewhere one of us takes a turn and it's not always me or him... but suddenly an extraordinary balance of calm settles over the both of us.

I finally came clean about my triggers that I wrote of earlier this morning. Over the course of our "discussion", I realized that my turning point was last weekend, when he couldn't afford to come see me, and he kept beating himself up over it.

I was irritated with his self-loathing about it and somewhere in my mind decided that he'd be better off without the pressure of filling his vehicle up with gas to come visit me. I remember thinking that and feeling bad, assuming his life would be easier with someone there since I couldn't be. Add that in with all of the past history, office drama and Barbie and boom! A powerful mix of triggers, doubt and fear.

Maybe it's me who thinks life would be easier without a long distance relationship. Maybe it's me who fears that ultimately this is going to disappear as my previous two relationships did. Sometimes it's easier to feel like that rather than to accept the fact that we may not be in the same town for many years to come.

I talked all of those fears with him. He was angry that it appeared I was accusing him of an office romance. He was emotional that my fear would make me give up on us. I reacted in anger since I didn't feel like I was accusing him of anything. I was sharing my fears, trembling in terror and his reaction was to get angry with me.

Here is what I've learned since being in this relationship:

My Feelings Matter.

HE taught me that.

So rather than shrink, I defended my feelings, as irrational as they were. I KNOW my fears are mine. I KNOW I have to get over the fact that both I, my ex-husband and my ex-boyfriend cheated. It's MY dragon to slay. My monster to face!

But he kept insisting that HE wanted to hold my hand. HE wants to jump into the fire with me. HE wants to help slay the dragon, face the monster, conquer the fear.

And though it feels as if I'm standing on a precipice of the unknown, he is still standing beside me. I am not alone.

"You'll see," he said, after convincing me that I am going to meet her and see there's nothing to fear, "she isn't the ghost that's haunting you. And I am not any of those people who cheated. You KNOW me. I am not that. Just hold on with me, let's go into this together and soon you'll look back and see it was nothing at all. I may not have been able to help you with much of what you've gone through in your life but this I CAN! Let me! Let me face this with you!"

He, who reminds me that I do matter. He, who talks to everyone he knows about me and what I mean to him. He, who just today took pictures to show all of his friends and co-workers that T was in bloom again. He, who longs for me, misses my touch and tells me time and again that he's never in his life found someone like me and will not do anything to screw it up. He, the most romantic and honest and forthright man I've ever known. He, who taught me that monogamy is possible, even when I've doubted it for so long. He, who refuses to give up on me, no matter how much I challenge him. He, who proves with his actions and not only his words that he loves me, that I am his "girl", his "angel", the "love of his life", the one he "always knew was out there but never found" until me. He, who has never given me reason to doubt in over 2 and a half years of living 200 miles away from each other.

He is my best friend. My love. Made just for me.

This is a fear that I must face, no matter the outcome. He wants to face it with me and so we will persevere.

Dragon, be gone.

Monster, away.

Fear... Fuck you.

There's a force here more powerful than you.

And it's real where you're not.

Love.

A Man of Power and the Eye Candy in the Office

One of the lessons I've learned in this classroom of life is to accept my feelings when I'm feeling them. Granted, feelings don't always make sense - especially the bad ones. The bad feelings like anger, irritability, frustration and sadness are based on fear and fear, my friends, is not necessarily logically explained.

My fear, in most cases, is based on past experience or triggers from previous relationships. The good news is that I'm aware of the cause. The bad news is that because of that awareness, I have difficulty accepting the feelings that result from the trigger. The feelings seem unjustified since the trigger is what happened then... not what is happening now.

***

Take for example one of the symptoms that brought about the end of my marriage. We'd already stopped communicating on many things. I'd already had an affair. The trust was already missing. We were both depressed and struggling. Key elements of a successful partnership had already been chiseled down to nothing.

That's when my husband began developing a new relationship with a young lady assistant at his office. Being in charge of the household bills, I'd discovered much cell phone communication between him and her. When I asked him about it, he admitted that they were becoming very close friends... that he felt sorry for her because of the hard luck dealt in her life... that he felt protective and worried about her. Having already had similar feelings towards the object of my affections (and eventually affair), I knew what was coming and asked him to talk to me about it.

He refused.

It was his new relationship and he didn't think there was anything I needed to know. Instead the communication continued, increased and sadly, lead to an affair of his own. He may very well have already known it was going to happen as his response to me, when I gently asked him to talk to me about it was, "I will NEVER do to you what YOU did to me." Then, when it was outed, he did blame me for it.

***

Now let's fast forward to today.

Gentleman Jack and his colleague at work share an assistant to help with paperwork and general administration duties. A few months ago, their assistant quit suddenly and they began a search for a replacement. After a call to a temporary agency, they found their girl.

We'll call her Barbie.

Barbie is a young 20-ish girl with a boyfriend. She's kind, considerate, soft spoken and professional. To Jack and his colleague, she fit the role perfectly. She sounded like she had a great head on her shoulders and was willing to do the work that it took to help them both take care of the business.

Great. No problem. I was happy that he'd have someone help him be more successful at work. Except... every time he would talk about her, he'd say... "she's a very pretty girl."

One evening, when he was visiting and I was feeling especially touchy, he pulled out his phone and said, "Here's a picture of Barbie. I really want you to meet her and get to know her so you'll feel comfortable."

I was confused. Comfortable with what exactly? And why do you have a picture of her on your phone?

"Oh the picture is for my caller id on the phone. She is a very pretty girl and I know how female partners and spouses tend to distrust their men when there's a pretty girl in the office. I want you to have lunch with us so you'll see there's nothing to be concerned about."

I lost it.

I understood his reasoning behind wanting me to feel more trusting of her. I was happy that he wanted to reassure me. But if I heard ONE MORE TIME how pretty she was, I was going to chew his face off. Fuck, I get it already. She's pretty. Holy shit.

His logic behind the "pretty girl" comments? "If I didn't tell you she was attractive and then you saw that she was, you might wonder why I didn't say anything. Or if I was hiding it from you. This way, you know what to expect."

The irony? I didn't find her all that attractive. But HE does. And that's where my concern was.

What followed was a very HEAVY discussion of men in power hiring young pretty girls to be in subservient roles and whether the spouses should take it personally. I typically have a good head on my shoulders about this sort of thing. I'm usually the "very pretty girl" that makes the wives nervous. I go out of my way to include the wives in party planning and office events. I want them to trust me, despite the fact that an office romance is part of my history. Maybe I go out of my way BECAUSE of that.

Here it is, months later, and all that I've heard the past few weeks is how Barbie is being over-utilized by Jack's colleague and Jack isn't able to get her to do any of his work. It almost sounds like they fight over her. Jack's colleague is also having dire issues with his own marriage and is so angry and frustrated that it is affecting how he treats everyone at the office. Jack feels like his colleague is demanding of her time to get a female's attention... something he's not getting at home.

Guess who comes to save the day: My Gentleman

My man has become her sounding board. He listens. He consoles. He gently asks her to help him with his paperwork and then complains to me that she doesn't have time and that it isn't fair. I've heard how she's stressed every day and on the brink of tears and possibly may quit soon.

"I feel sorry for her." he said the other night.

::TRIGGER::

Like it wasn't difficult enough to know there is eye candy who gets to see MY eye candy every day, now I have to hear that he feels the same as my ex-husband did towards what eventually became his mistress.

I trust my man, y'all. He tells me EVERYTHING. I'm thankful that he talks to me about their conversations and interactions, something that didn't happen at the end of my marriage. But, I have to admit, sometimes when he's talking to me about this, I want to cry, scream or throw the phone.

I haven't talked to him about my feelings because I don't want him to not talk to me about it. That would frighten me even more. I don't want him to think I don't trust him. It's the situation that gives me the heebie jeebies.

This is probably contributing to my overall grouchiness and longing to be near him. I generally feel irritable when I'm holding back how I really feel.

I simply can't accept that I'm allowing something from my past to control my feelings right now.

All the while, I'm wishing Barbie would quit and they'd hire a gay man to fill her position....

That's fair, right?

I'd love both a male and female's perspective on this!

***Update***

I did talk to Gentleman Jack about my feelings. Click here for the update to this post: My Man is Not the Enemy

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Story to Tell

I've always loved stories. It's funny because my oldest daughter is the same way. She enjoys a good story... be it a book, a movie or a Native American telling folk tales.

Another thing about my love of stories is that I'm affected by them.

I still remember reading The Black Stallion as a child and being mesmerized in the story. Same with Gone with the Wind and many other books during my school days. Then I moved into my Anne Rice and Stephen King phase where I couldn't get enough of their supernatural tales.

Don't even get me started on movies! My ex-husband could watch anything or read anything and then walk away unscathed. There were some movies he watched in which I literally had to leave the room and talk myself down for days... He could just turn off the TV or close the book and be done. Period. Moving on.

I still remember having a HUGE fight with him after seeing Oliver Stone's The Doors movie. He simply couldn't understand how I sucked right into Jim Morrison.

I'm moved with stories. And when I'm moved, things stay with me for a while.

****

When I caught up on IntrigueMe's series about her ex tonight... and she asked for our stories... I gave her the link to The Soldier Story.

It's a helluva story, as stories go... and it's very strange that it actually happened. They say truth is stranger than fiction and it must be true. I couldn't have made that up. It is too extraordinary for my imagination.

When I posted the link in a comment to her, I told her that I couldn't go back and read it. But then I did. I wrote over 150 posts about our relationship but that link broke it down into 12 crucial moments of our relationship. From the beginning to the end.

Reading it, diving back into it, I still feel all of the emotions vividly, just as if I was revisiting an old book from my childhood. I could relate so closely to that girl in the story. It seemed SO real.

I was sitting here wondering why I don't recall the beginning and end of my marriage as clearly. Maybe because I didn't blog everyday? Maybe because it was a gradual breaking down? Maybe I took it for granted?

Because it was a beautiful story too. I would imagine that any of you who have fallen in love and lost before have a beautiful story to tell... one that's hidden away or pushed down so that the emotions won't feel so real anymore.

Is it wrong that I sometimes want to get lost in a story, mine, yours or someone else's? I was feeling a little guilty about rereading about the intensity of love I felt for another man. Then again, it's not me anymore. It's who I was then. And it's nothing more than a story. MY take on something that occurred between me and one other person.

A beautiful, bittersweet, ultimately devastatingly heartbreaking tale but nothing but a story. Past. Gone. Finished.

Can you go back and visit one of yours?


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

If you want to date someone like me... a Public Service Announcement



I have to admit, I'm uber happy that I'm not dating right now.

My Gentleman has raised the bar and because of what I've learned in my past relationships, I think I'd be very difficult to "shop for".

Because of that, and because I know there are super awesome single women out there reading this RIGHT NOW, I thought I should do a PSA for single men looking to date someone like me.

Scenario 1) Let's imagine, for a moment, that I see you at the gym. You look handsome, fit and healthy. From the onset, I would imagine that you take good care of yourself.

Is this a wrong first impression? Do you take care of yourself or do you only wish to look good?

Because I believe there's a difference between "working out to have a body that looks good" versus maintaining a healthy diet, listening to your body and honoring it, being active because it feels good rather than "it'll make me look hot" and consistently striving towards health versus "I'll starve myself and work out daily until someone finds me attractive and then I won't try anymore". I believe it's more authentic and long lasting than only trying to land a sexy girlfriend.

Health leads to happiness and happiness is sexy as hell.

Scenario 2) Now let's imagine I see you out at a professional networking event. You're dressed in designer clothes and are walking towards a very expensive car. I would also imagine that you live in a large home or in a well-established part of the city.

If we began dating, you'd take me to the top notch restaurants and send me amazing bouquets of flowers. You'd offer to pay for vacations and never let me pick up the tab at dinner. By all accounts, you have a great source of income, are very romantic and want to take care of your girl.

Is this a wrong first impression?

Because I believe there is a difference between throwing money around to impress and actually having a healthy respect for your income. Are you charging everything on credit and secretly hiding that you are, in fact, in very deep debt? Do you spend recklessly and selfishly but have no idea at all how to pay it off? Or do you budget and save? Are you able to set aside money for fun and still pay your bills on time?

Are you really that giving and romantic? Because if you aren't, you're setting up really high expectations for YOURSELF with someone. You can't complain when your girlfriend starts to use phrases such as "You used to..."

Even beyond that, I would also assume you have a wonderful job that you love or, perhaps if you don't, you are inspired to move beyond it, knowing your value and when it's time to make a change. I would hope that you have a healthy work/life balance. And of course, in our initial conversations, you share with me how you love your job and how you know when to leave work at work. You tell me everything I want to hear.

Is this a wrong first impression?

Because I believe there is a difference between pretending to be someone you're not and actually being honest and real with someone. We all find ourselves in situations, jobs or otherwise, that don't serve us. Are you going to remain stagnant and let it get you down... or will you be motivated to move on? Can you find the positive where you are or freeze in analysis paralysis and hope that I will stay depressed with you?

Because that ain't happening. I have my moments of funk, trust me, but I always move past them. Can you?

Scenario 3) Let's imagine that we've been dating and have decided to have sex for the first time. Obviously, there is chemistry. Obviously, we're both going to feel the heat and do our best to impress/please each other.

But, please... Is this a wrong first impression too?

Do you have a good attitude about sex or are you just doing what you can to "hook" me? Are you secretly hiding a porn or strip club addiction even when you know I'm open to enjoying those things too and even including them as part of an awesome sex life? Are you interested in discovering all that there is to be enjoyed with me or is it just about you getting off? Are you THAT uncomfortable and shameful about your sexuality that you won't completely open up to me?

If you're going to be in a relationship with me, I expect honest, open, authenticity.

No hiding. No secrets.

And that starts with first impressions and dating.

That starts with YOU taking care of YOU.

Not to impress me. Not to land me. Not to make me believe you're someone you're not.

Maybe I sound like a hard ass or a bitch. Maybe it seems like my standards are high. But I promise you this:

Everything I just wrote about up there? I hold MYSELF to the same standards. I have the same expectations of me.

I would rather date someone who's honest about his financial situation than someone who hides it. I would rather date someone who knows his weaknesses and accepts himself for who he is than someone who pretends he's someone else. I would rather be with someone who wants to experience and learn new things with me than to be with someone who acts like he's been there, done that.

If you're pretending, you will be found out sooner or later. I promise. I'll have more respect for you, even if we didn't work out, because you were honest than I would if you were lying the whole time.

Be you. Be true. Be real.

Is that too much to ask?

Can I get an AMEN from the gals?

Guys, don't you expect the same from us?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Saudade* - Long(ing) Distance Relationship



It has been a tough few days for Gentleman Jack and I because we weren't able to get together this past weekend.

I felt fine, I thought, as I was busily enjoying a weekend with my daughters. What I did notice, however, was that when I'd receive a text from Jack or when we spoke by phone, I was a big grouch-bucket.

I think sometimes, I simply get tired of our methods of communication. They're still so lacking, you know? I get tired of the phone. I get tired of texting. I want touch. I want skin.




Now it's only been a little over 2 weeks since we last saw each other.

Why on earth does it feel like it's been forever since then?




Maybe it's because we had a house full of people on my last visit there. My mother and my children came with and he had his kids too.

Maybe it's because it was his visit that had to be put off this past weekend due to finances. That's a definite +1 for an "in town" relationship. When either of you are broke, you can still hang out at home and do nothing.




Maybe it's because the last time we saw each other, we noticed even more how well we handle each other under stress. I was concerned about an elbow issue (that is still giving me fits) and really beginning to worry about how I'd do during the swim portion of my triathlon. Not to mention a house full of kids.... who are getting along better and better.

Or... maybe it's because... the last time I visited, we couldn't get enough of each other.

Like when I was trying to unpack my car upon arrival to his home. He came out to assist... of course, being a gentleman and all. I was wearing a long comfortable sundress. I backed into him accidentally and his hand touched my backside. (OK, he touched my ass. The feel of the cottony dress left little to his imagination.) Forget it, in an instant, it was ON. We had to whisk away to his laundry room so we wouldn't be caught by little eyes...




Let's just say that over that weekend, I was in top form in my triathlon and otherwise. *big grin*

We've both been a little sensitive lately too. We've been feeling such a *NEED* for each other.




Like last night, on the phone, when I told him I missed his presence. I miss everything about us but just knowing he's close, somewhere in the house, feels so good for me.

"I agree." he said, "I miss your company and making love to you but mostly? I miss being able to PUT MY HANDS ON YOU. You bring me such peace when you're around."

The kids pick up on it too. All of our kids seem to notice that he and I are much more relaxed and calm when we're together.

But alas... it's a situation with no solution and it works for us, for now. It's only been 2 weeks and only 2 weeks more til we're holding hands again.




I'm glad I'm not the only one looking forward to that.

Like just now, when he texted to say hello, that he was thinking of me. And then texted again to say, "But there again, if I texted every time I thought of you... it would drive you bonkers."

*swoon*

I love my man.


Saudade a Portuguese word that can be translated as "longing, yearning", which describes a deep emotional state of nostalgic longing for something or someone that one loves and which is apart.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Spoil the child?

Last week when I met my ex-husband for lunch, we discussed taking the girls on vacation. Since we've been separated and divorced, I'm the one of the two of us who has traveled with the girls on vacation. We go somewhere every year. From Florida, to Mexico, to Colorado... and other places to explore on future trips.

He's always said that it's too difficult to travel with them. He travels with work every week and rarely takes time for leisure travel. When we did travel during our marriage, it was me who planned it. In the time that we've been apart, he's actually traveling more for fun but chooses not to travel with the children.

I think it's fun. We visit with friends, family and they get to see new places and experience new things. They're great little travelers with their own suitcases. They love to fly. I enjoy seeing things through their eyes.

I mentioned to him that they want to see the ocean again. He rolled his eyes and said something along the lines of, "I'm sure they do. I don't know why they have to go on vacation every year."

But I LIKE giving them that. When I think of my childhood, I loved our camping trips or visits to other cities to see family. I feel like I'm building memories for them and also... I'm teaching them that's it's okay to take a time out.

It's good for the soul, don't you think?

***

I took Friday off of work for a mommy and daughters day. I figured it was our time for one last hurrah before school starts. After doing some housework, we suited up and spent the rest of the day swimming and hanging out at the pool at my gym. Then we went to for ice cream.



Also over the weekend, we enjoyed a dinner and jousting tournament at Medieval Times. It definitely dipped into my single mom budget but I found a coupon that gave me a drastic discount on tickets. We had such an awesome time.




On the drive home, my oldest daughter admitted to me that she felt bad that I spent money to take them out on such a fun evening. She said that she was feeling "a little spoiled" from our weekend together.

And why shouldn't she?

Why shouldn't my child feel spoiled from a good time, be it at the pool and a show with her sister and me... or traveling to visit family or, hopefully, some exotic locale to learn more about other cultures on future trips?

Why shouldn't she?

I may not be able to give them much on a daily basis. We live in a modest home. We buy our clothes from second hand stores. We save money by not throwing extravagant birthday parties for the kids (something else my ex-husband thinks is a ridiculous notion - birthday parties). We cook at home and don't eat out much. We budget.

Then we do something fun when we can. We travel. We enjoy. We experience.

Why shouldn't we?

I may be slightly co-dependent. I may sacrifice myself for various things or my kids or relationships in my life. I may not put myself first but occasionally, I do. I want my girls to feel worthy of the good that is in their lives. I appreciate the humility and sheer appreciation that my daughter felt on our drive home from an evening of being treated like royalty. I reminded her that I am the adult and I will let her know if I choose not to or am not able to spend money here and there. When I want to "spoil" us, I will.

Why shouldn't I?

My ex-husband may believe I'm spoiling our children but part of me wonders if it's not because he claims he wasn't spoiled. He is the youngest of a large brood of children. He claims he never had birthday parties. He claims they never went on vacations as children. Most ironically is that his mother spoils our daughters even more than I do!! Gotta love Grandma!

Maybe I'm simply repeating what my parents did when we were children. We didn't have much but we didn't want for anything.

Does that make me spoiled?

Does that mean my girls are spoiled?

And why shouldn't we be?

What are your thoughts?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Meeting with the Ex: Making the New Girlfriend More Comfortable

I met with my ex-husband this week.

I've had some difficulty accepting the fact that I have to share my children with another mom. I've also felt some communication breakdown the more seriously involved my ex gets with his girlfriend.

Typically, the ex and I don't have much discussion about anything. We don't have to, really. We're pretty agreeable and mostly flexible about schedules and such... especially since they're with me a majority of the time. Most everything is handled in passing, via email or text.

So, I'm sure he was curious as to why I felt the need to sit down over lunch with him.

Or not. Maybe he understood completely. We don't have many moments when little ears aren't listening so perhaps he agreed with the notion of meeting outside of kid exchanges.

***

Our banter over lunch was pretty casual. We inquired about each others' families. We caught up on the girls' goings on. And then I put it out there...

"I feel like things are a bit awkward with us lately... in regards to communication."

We addressed the strange kid exchange at his house last weekend. We discussed his slow or lack of responses via text. We covered the weirdness when he picked us up at the airport upon return from our vacation.

He seemed to have valid reasons for all of them. In my mind, I still questioned the girlfriend though. Because in every "weirdness" that occurred, she was directly or indirectly involved.

I had to ask about her.

I didn't want him to feel as if I was prying and, thankfully, he didn't react as if I was. I wondered if she felt insecure around me. I asked if I needed to schedule a lunch with her. I looked him straight in the eyes and said, "I don't want to make things weird for you and her. I don't want to stand in the way of anything. I absolutely want you to be happy."

He came clean and said that she does feel a little awkward when it comes to the relationship between him and me. She was more curious as to why he and I were meeting for lunch than he was. She doesn't have that sort of relationship with her ex-husband. Their relationship is strained, to say the least. She can't understand how he and I are so civil and actually like and respect each other.

I told him of the many divorce/child support stories I've heard and I'll admit, our story is not the norm. Even when we went to file for divorce, we were so amicable and jovial that the lawyer asked me about my "soon-to-be-ex" without realizing that it was HIM in the room with us.

I'm still unsure how to proceed with regards to his girlfriend. I asked him to communicate with me if something needed to change for her comfort. Maybe I won't just walk into the house with the kids next time. Maybe she'd feel more comfortable if I remained outside.

He waved his hand, "She's fine. No need to stress."

But I'm not stressed. That's not the word I would use. I told him that we raised our daughters to be loving people and they really LIKE her. I don't want them to sense a disconnect and feel guilty about spending time with her. And I want HER to know that I want to welcome her as a new "business partner" if she's willing to work with us.

Again he advised, "Don't worry about it."

Honestly, that's what he does. He's not worried or concerned about it so he'll dismiss someone else's feelings about it entirely. Maybe he's thinks it's not a big deal but I do. And she obviously does too.

Maybe things will settle down now that I've met with him and he knows how I feel. I'd like to think that he'd share my thoughts with her as well... but again, I know him and he may play it off as nothing.

Maybe she'd rather things be different but he's dismissing her feelings. Maybe she's asking for changes and he'll concede here and there but not say anything to me.

Either way, I hope I put my concerns out there enough to settle all of us down.

***

The kids and I have discussed the idea of doing something nice for her. Maybe making her some homemade brownies or something. But I'm over analyzing whether she'd take it personally... like I was trying to fatten her up or something. I know I'm overthinking this.... especially when I know she may not ever like me as a friend.

I just don't do well with AWKWARD.

Surely there's some sort of gesture I can make to put it to rest.

Suggestions?



***Thanks to Mandy for mentioning me in her post Adding New Partners to the Coparenting Mix. ***

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Giving thanks to our teachers


On this, the beginning of another school year, I felt like taking the time to offer thanks to all of you who will teach our children over the next 9 + months.


I also want to give thanks to a few of my favorite teachers...



...like Miss M from 6th grade. I remember being so thrilled while watching her plan her wedding and she even allowed us to offer ideas! She treated us like people and not children. She encouraged me and recommended me for a special educational end-of-year field trip. I held her in my heart as my favorite teacher for years... especially when her husband was killed suddenly leaving her as a young, very heartbroken widow. I still get choked up when I remember her sadness.

And Ms. S from high school. She was my teacher for Junior and Senior year English and then my (surprise!) English professor my first year at college. She also taught my Creative Writing class and encouraged me to keep a journal. She is still a friend and still supports my writing efforts. She treated us all with respect and showed us that grown-ups liked to have fun too. She was also one of the biggest fans of my then blossoming singing career!

For my children, I give thanks to Ms. N, their pre-K and Kindergarten teacher. She epitomized all that I loved in my favorite teachers and still treats my daughters (and me) with the utmost respect and graciousness.

There is also Mrs. P, my older daughter's teacher from last year, who, using Love and Logic, witnessed and encouraged the creative genius in my child.


I would also like to give thanks vicariously, if I may, to those "other" teachers that have benefited some of my fellow blogger friends.

Like QTMama and whatever former "no strings attached" relations lead her to realize that she likes strings!

Like Jobo's half marathon that taught her to finally accept herself as a runner... but not necessarily as a racer.

Like Intrigue Me and the lessons she learned from her ex. Thank you for the teacher of hindsight and blogging to allow her to share her story in this touching series of romantic love and heartbreaking posts.

Like Sunshine and Canadian Bald Guy's vacation and the tough job of blending a family - if only temporarily!

Like any of our exes or those whom we dated... only to learn more about what we did and didn't want in a relationship.



There are teachers all around us, in every encounter and every situation. Always teaching if you're open to the lesson.

We're like the brilliant work of art hidden beneath Michelangelo's marble. The sculptors, our teachers, are ever carving to discover the angel longing to be set free.


"Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible be found in us."
~ Pema Chodron


To which teacher would YOU like to give thanks?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Can Intervention Work: The Relationship between Countries, Cultures and Ideals

This blog is about relationships, spirituality... sometimes fitness and sometimes sex but, in general, not about world events, politics or war. Well, except for a few posts here, here, here and here.


Sorry to go off topic a bit but I feel the need to share something.

I've heard about book called, "Can Intervention Work" by Rory Stewart and Gerald Knaus. The description, from Amazon:

"Rory Stewart (author of The Places In Between) and Gerald Knaus distill their remarkable firsthand experiences of political and military interventions into a potent examination of what we can and cannot achieve in a new era of "nation building." As they delve into the massive, military-driven efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Balkans, the expansion of the EU, and the bloodless "color" revolutions in the former Soviet states, the authors reveal each effort's enormous consequences for international relations, human rights, and our understanding of state building. Stewart and Knaus parse carefully the philosophies that have informed interventionism—from neoconservative to liberal imperialist—and draw on their diverse experiences in the military, nongovernmental organizations, and the Iraqi provincial government to reveal what we can ultimately expect from large-scale interventions, and how they might best realize positive change in the world."

The author, Rory Stewart, is a current member of British Parliament. During a few months of his life, he actually walked across Afghanistan alone and visited many villages before making it to the capital where he learned the emerging government was making broad sweeping assumptions about the country as a whole. He has spent a lot of time in Muslim countries. He and Knaus shared their experiences and observations to question if we, as Americans or other Western civilizations, are doing the right thing by militarily intervening and laying out a foundation of what we believe these other countries and their governments should look like, completely disregarding that they have different histories, cultures, and foundations of life.

In a recent interview, Stewart used the analogy of someone 10,000 miles away planning how to solve Chicago's poverty problem. We wouldn't trust anyone who hadn't had first hand experiences living in the Chicago area studying the issue at hand. And yet, we believe we can go in and know exactly how and why they should listen to us.

It reminded me of listening to story after story while supporting a soldier overseas in Iraq. He made great observations of the culture differences and possibly even questioned whether we would actually make a difference. Perhaps that was part of his struggle... because as a soldier, you don't question your mission. You do what you are told, withholding the honor of your country and your president. It is black and white and that's that.

I do support our troops because I understand this. But supporting the "mission" is something else entirely.

I find it difficult to believe that we can go in and change thousands of years of culture and history with a few decades of war and pounding a country over the head with our story and belief system. Do you get that? THOUSANDS OF YEARS. We're not even 300 years old yet! What made us so big in our britches?

Now, don't take this as Anti-American sentiment because I love my country, even with all of the silly things we believe and do culturally. We praise violence in entertainment but loathe something as beautiful as sex. We love to travel internationally and then we complain about the lack of American comforts. We may not always make sense but this is our country. Like family. A little dysfunctional but only we are allowed to point it out.

I don't understand the need to convince anyone to see things as I, or we as Western civilizations, see them. I'm more than willing to allow you your perceptions if you allow me mine. We still have to find a way to be civil and get along. We still need to find a way to take care that human rights are not violated. We still must find a common place to meet, even with different ideals, religions and culture.

I'm just not sure this way is the way that will work.

I may have to pick up this book to expand my horizons a bit. It's not really that off topic from what I normally read and write about, is it? After all, relationship is relationship. Whether it's between two people or two countries.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Irresponsibilities: A Week off for a Single Mom

It's late Sunday evening and the house is quiet and happy.

My girls are home after a week with their father. When they're gone, I could seriously fill every moment of my day with things I don't get accomplished when they're here with me. I had to remind myself, more than once, to just relax and stop scheduling things!

The beginning of the week was pretty exhausting after last Sunday's triathlon. My body was still recovering and, honestly, fighting the onset of a cold as well. I had plans for a friend's birthday Monday evening after work... and I had Tuesday evening filled too. I canceled my Tuesday evening plans to sit on the couch and watch TV.

I'm laughing at how I blew off housework, laundry and cooking while the kids were gone. I ate good lunches at work and then, in those quiet evenings at home, I snacked on fruit, nuts, or meal replacement shakes.

Okay, okay, I also ate some not-so-good-for-you stuff too. Does anyone else remember the days of having a bowl of cereal for dinner and being perfectly fine with that? Yeah, that was me.


I did get in a mile run Tuesday morning, some yoga on Thursday morning, a swim on Friday evening and an hour of easy spinning on my bike trainer on Saturday. This is my recovery week after my triathlon so I didn't need to push it but I did need to work out some muscle soreness.

Wednesday evening, I sat with a friend who needed to vent.

Thursday evening, I watched a movie on TV (The Green Mile - which made me cry my eyes out!) and talked to my man for a long time. He was having a horrible week at work and was very upset. I woke up at 1:30 a.m. Thursday night/Friday morning and sent him some goodies and balloons to be delivered to his office the next day. He said it brightened his day and made him cry.

I love my sweet, sweet man.

Friday, I was so worn out from doing NOTHING all week (heh) that I couldn't wait to get in the pool that evening. I felt such calm in the water that I could have swam laps for hours. I love that feeling. I hope I can keep swimming through the winter so that maybe my triathlon swim times will improve for next season.

I hoped to get in a short easy bike ride on Saturday but woke up to rain instead.

WHAT?!? RAIN?!?! We've been rain free here in the Dallas area for over 40 days so it didn't bum me out too much to miss my bike ride. I spent the day hanging out with the dog and then enjoyed a girls' night last night.

All week, I've said I would clean my house but I didn't. There's clean laundry sitting on the couch that I've not put away. My suitcase from my vacation is still sitting on the floor of my bedroom, half filled with clean clothes. My kitchen counter overflows with mail and papers that need to be thrown away, sorted, recycled.

Oh well.

I have my girls home and soon school will be back in session and life will fly by once again.

A week off is a good thing for me. It was good being responsible for and to nothing for a little while...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

An open letter to those I'm currently not speaking to:

First of all, don't assume that silence means withholding love or forgiveness. In fact, it's quite the opposite. Talking will not fix anything because perception gets in the way. You have yours. I have mine.

Does that mean I'm judging you?

Probably. But if I've learned anything while studying spirituality it's that I'm human and I will judge.

What I've also learned is that I don't have to judge myself for judging because MY JUDGMENTS DON'T MATTER.

My judgment, just as my advice, doesn't mean diddly to you and the decisions you'll make in your life because your perception is yours, and yours alone. And that's okay with me!

Really!

I absolutely mean it!

Go, be, do whatever it is you feel you need to do with your life. You're going to do it anyway, aren't you?

Of course you are! It's your life!

It really doesn't matter what I or anyone else thinks, does it?

Of course not! It's your life!

I swear that's okay! Really!

Are you upset that I'm not speaking to you because you feel that I'm not accepting where or who you are right now?

Quite the contrary, I'm completely accepting of who and where you are. I'm also completely accepting that who you are is someone I do not wish to be around. Why is that a problem?

Are you upset because I don't agree with your perception?

Because, I hate to tell you, every single person on this planet has a different perception so in a majority of cases, we won't agree on much.

Can't we just agree to disagree?!


Here's the difference between you and me: I am not going to try to convince you to see things my way.


Does it frustrate me?

Yes. But I have faith that we'll agree again one day (or not) and may or may not come into each others' lives again. I imagine it frustrates you as well that I don't see things your way. However I don't want to be beat over the head one million times with your "story" so that you feel validated in your perception.

It's okay with me that our stories are different. Really!

What you're seeing is me allowing you your story. What you're seeing is me letting you go on your journey knowing that you have your own way and nothing I say or do or see can change the course. Even if I could change your course, there is nothing that says my perception is correct either. It isn't my journey to take!

What you're seeing is ME HONORING MYSELF... something that perhaps you're not used to seeing. Sure, I could easily continue to be around you and listen to you and be.... completely.... drained... and .... sucked... dry. I could. But, and it's quite okay to call me selfish, I've had a triathlon I've been training for. I have a full time job and another part time business I'm starting for an extra source of income. I am also running a household alone. And, let us not forget most importantly, I'm responsible for the care, feeding and raising of two wonderful, strong, independent little girls!

Somewhere in there, I also have to make sure I'm a damn good person to inspire those children to be the same. That means making sure I'm healthy. That means making sure I am happy. That means making sure I can go into life gently and with humor, even on those days when it's difficult to laugh. That means removing drama and toxicity from my life... even if it seems real and justified to those I'm removing. That means being forgiving, loving and accepting of others.

And in order to offer that to others, I have to offer it to myself.

I forgive myself for judging you. I forgive myself for removing you from my life. I love myself for nurturing me and I accept who I am in this moment.

I offer the same to you.

From a distance and with my silence.

Love,
T

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Communicating with the Ex: Accepting a New Partner into the Business of Parenting



Recently, I wrote about how difficult it was for me to accept my ex-husband’s partner into the lives of my children.

I wrote that piece after a particularly odd transaction between the ex and me when I returned from vacation with my children. Then, the other night when I dropped my children off at his house while she was unexpectedly there, I was faced with even more awkwardness. Both encounters have left me feeling slightly infuriated and definitely bothered.

For any of you’ve that have been reading here for a while, you’ll recall that one of the reasons I feel our marriage didn’t survive was due to miscommunication. Ok, NON-communication. Often I would joke with my husband that he didn’t really have any feelings... as he rarely communicated them to me. At the end of our marriage, he stated that he felt I always got my way and perhaps I did. But perhaps it was because he didn’t fight me on it or didn’t tell me that he wished things would be different. In many cases, I didn’t KNOW how he had emotions at all which left me stepping all over his non-communicated feelings.

We were both at fault for many reasons written in this blog.


Now I find that the issues a couple has in marriage continue into a post-divorce/co-parenting relationship as well.


The ex-husband is in a relationship with someone who appears to be a successful and strong mother of two young children, the same ages as ours. My daughters enjoy her children and enjoy the time they spend with her. Again, I do not wish to take this away from either them or her. I must process my own feelings about sharing them with another mom and my own fears of being replaced.

What is also difficult is watching the ex-husband act differently. I’ve known this man longer than I’ve NOT known him so to witness change, especially when he isn’t communicating it to me, has left me scratching my head. Perhaps she is requesting certain behavior and he is, of course, honoring her wishes. Perhaps she is concerned about my feelings for her and has voiced this to him. Perhaps he is trying to make her feel less insecure.

Perhaps I am reading into things.

I’ve been a bit frustrated because it seems he is even LESS communicative with me as he and she grow closer. I’m not saying we talk as friends or hang out because we’ve done that less and less in the 5 years we’ve been apart. But I expect some basic communication when it comes to our children and with her around, that seems to be falling by the wayside.

So, I’ve requested a meeting. I would love to meet with her but I believe I have to start with him. I have to remind him that first and foremost, I see him as the father of our children and I would appreciate that he continues to work with me in regards to that. I also want to let him know that I wish for him to be happy. I wish to understand his plans...just as he wishes to know mine. I know he is concerned about whether or not I’ve entertained thoughts of moving away to be with Gentleman Jack. Sadly, it was him finding my blog that brought up that discussion. He could’ve always asked before...but of course he didn’t.

I want him to know that I do not wish to lock her out of the lives of our children but rather, I wish to know her as a “business partner” of sorts. After all, we’re in the business of raising our children, aren’t we?

Maybe this will also bring him some peace by giving him a forum for concerns of his own. Jack would certainly meet with the ex to reassure him of the kind of father he is. That is, if he wanted to know. I would love if he would communicate it to me if he has that concern. Maybe our meeting will allow him the freedom to speak up.

I’m absolutely nerve-wracked at the thought of meeting with him to have this discussion. And also of the future prospect of meeting with her too. Our communication skills with each other when it comes to tough issues like this one, sometimes leave something to be desired. I get emotional. He feels uncomfortable.

But it must be done for our children. It must be done for my peace of mind. It must be done for the sake of continuing a healthy co-parenting relationship into our future as parents of our girls.

******



Thanks to Co-Parenting101 for making me their Co-Parenting Hero of the Week and for offering a healthy perspective to my situation.


Thanks to SinceMyDivorce.com for featuring great articles like this one that remind me about "getting to a benign space with your ex – a space that’s free of emotion, suspicion and mistrust."


And thanks to the many others who are modeling and actively writing about a healthy co-parenting relationship (like Molly!)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Because that's just what mommas do. Isn't it?

On Saturday, Gentleman Jack and I took our oldest children to see the latest and last in the Harry Potter movie series.

One scene in particular made the momma bear inside of me cheer out loud.


*Warning: Spoiler Alert*
If you haven't seen the new Harry Potter movie, you may want to skip this section. If you've seen the movie or just don't really care about Harry Potter, forge on, my friends!

Since the first movie, there has been one character, another wizard student, who has been Harry's nemesis throughout the series. His name is Draco Malfoy.


During the series, Draco and his family became ever more closely connected with the uber bad guy, Lord Valdemort.


During the movie, Draco's mother, believing her son is dead, decides to protect Harry Potter after he tells her that her son is alive and well. Near the end, the reunited mother and son are seen walking away from the final battle between Valdemort and Harry Potter.

It was a small scene considering the battle but it stood out to me. It was if she was saying, "Y'all can fight the good vs. evil thing all day long. I have my son now and all is right with the world as far as I'm concerned."

*End spoiler alert*


I completely understood. As a mom, our first and pretty much ONLY concern is for our children.

Then I saw this today: Dallas mother accused of forcing 6 year old to film her having group sex

And that made me question the whole natural motherhood concern thing.

Science says that mothers release a hormone called oxytocin that naturally causes maternal, protective, loving behavior upon giving birth. Part of me wonders if all mothers have it. Is that the reason behind post-partum depression? Lack of oxytocin? Science is saying "yes" to that too.

Which begs the question: Is lack of oxytocin also the cause for some mothers that don't seem to have natural motherhood protective instincts AT ALL?

Or was this woman making an attempt to provide for her child by making and selling homemade porn?

We may not ever get the answer to that.

It's really sad. Some of the things I see and hear today are just too much for me. Some of the news stories make me want to do... what I saw in the movie.

I want my girls to feel safe and loved. Maybe it's the oxytocin. Maybe it's plain intelligence. Maybe it's just because... that's what mommas do. Isn't it?


Monday, August 8, 2011

Healthy, Fit, Strong and Loved

I'm exhausted.

Can't-lift-my-arms-dull-ache-in-my-legs-can't-think-don't-even-know-why-I'm-at-work exhausted.

But with good reason.

I beat my previous course time in yesterday's triathlon!

I only beat it by 1 minute but I'm so proud of myself!

I went into this triathlon in the same spirit as the last one. I KNOW I can do it. The fear is gone mostly. The calm assurance, having my mom, my man, my kids, my friends and other triathlete friends around me helped keep that confidence too. I simply had fun with it instead of feeling anxious about it. I think fear wastes too much energy. I didn't know that before but I know it now.

***

Let's back up a bit though, shall we?

I have to make mention again of the wonderful support team I had around me.

My mom drove into town with me and my daughters. She helped me throughout the weekend with my children and on the morning of the triathlon. Having her near me soothes me... and it was so great to see her proud tears as I crossed the finish line. (And I think she enjoys the eye candy too!)

My fellow triathlete friends, whether they did the tri or not, were very supportive and uplifting as well. It was nice to be at a triathlon and know people there! It felt much more comfortable and I imagine will continue to feel more comfortable with every new triathlete I friend or train with.

Then there's my man.

*swoon*

He made sure the entire weekend was about ME. No matter how chaotic it was that we had a house full of kids. No matter how worried I became when my elbow began bothering me on Saturday, making me concerned about the 1/2 mile swim ahead of me. No matter how many times my daughters wanted to hang all over me, right as I was about to begin the race.

He ran my shower for me when I showed up at his house Friday night, tired and overheated from the drive. He wrapped me up in my robe, laid out comfortable clothes for me, unloaded my suitcase. He took care that my mother and daughters were happy and comfortable in his home. He handled all four kids (mine + his) on his own Sunday morning as Mom and I went out early to set up for the race.... and ALL during the race. He was constant support, consistent inspiration, calm, steady strength all weekend.

He stood by me, proud.

I may not have been the best athlete on that course yesterday but I finished it with an amazing group of people cheering me on.

I finished it... when so many others didn't because of the excessive heat or because of dehydration or panic. I was very proud of myself for listening to my body, nurturing it and being allowed to focus only on the task at hand... and each moment as it came. Running the mile I was in.

I finished it with gusto. Not hiding in the back of the pack but jumping right in the middle of everything... and even remaining steady and calm when not 1 but 5 different swimmers swam over the top of me!

That's me swimming in the middle. NOT scared!


I may not have been the best athlete and won any medals but I enjoyed myself. I felt supported and loved. I felt healthy, fit and strong.

My littlest daughter joining me for part of the run.



I may not have won any medals but my Gentleman told me... that I have first place in his heart.

I'm not sure I could ask for a better prize than that. I'm a lucky girl.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Awareness is good!!

"When we begin to see clearly what we do, how we get hooked and swept away by old habits, our usual tendency is to use that as a reason to get discouraged, a reason to feel really bad about ourselves. Instead, we could realize how remarkable it is that we actually have the capacity to see ourselves honestly, and that doing this takes courage. It is moving in the direction of seeing our life as a teacher rather than as a burden. This involves, fundamentally, learning to stay present, but learning to stay with a sense of humor, learning to stay with loving-kindness toward ourselves and with the outer situation, learning to take joy in the magic ingredient of honest self-reflection."
~ Pema Chodron


I simply have no more to add to that.

Can you see yourself through loving eyes and with gentle humor?

THAT is my goal. Thank you, Pema, for being my teacher.

Have a great weekend, my friends.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

10 Survival Tips for Long Distance Relationships

I knew it.

I have no idea HOW I knew it but I just did.

A fellow high school classmate - one that I met with within the first several months of dating Gentleman Jack who told me I was crazy for dating someone in another state - has just requested my advice on a long distance relationship... with ANOTHER high school classmate.

Irony, much?

And P.S. We have an awesome high school graduating class!

She was shocked when I admitted that I'd figured they were seeing each other. They've made every effort to keep it on the down low since the beginning. Funny because I even remember thinking, that night that she pronounced me crazy, that she would one day be in my shoes.

But beyond the "I told you so" part of this, she did ask for some advice.

Basically, I gave her a few rules that I'll restate here for other readers going through similar situations. (Feel free to add your own in the comments.)

  1. Don't question it - This is one of the most difficult things about being in a long distance relationship. Of course you're going to question it. It hurts too much to be apart from the person you love. But if you've both made a decision to commit, if all signs say yes (thinking the same thoughts, connecting at the same time, weird "coincidences"), then ENJOY WHERE YOU ARE. You're there for a reason.
  2. Decide/Discuss contact options/availability- This is what Skype is for. Use texting, long phone conversations, instant messaging, whatever you agree upon to remain in contact. Even Xtranormal is fun for those wanting a new way to instant message. Decide and agree on your expectations for contact as well. Not many want to be chained to their phones 24/7.
  3. Be FULLY present when you are together - It's so easy for your feelings to turn to depression when you know your physical time together is almost over. Try to share your thoughts and feelings with your lover but also remember to bring yourself back to the present moment. You won't want to remember your last few moments together thinking about how sad you were. Make the most of your time together.
  4. Communicate and Respect - Talk about your feelings, your fears, your good days and bad. Check in on each other and listen. Be a best friend to your partner. Friendship is a solid foundation for a relationship of any kind. Make sure you're on the same page in the present and your dreams for the future. Respect their feelings, concerns and needs and offer the same respect to yourself!
  5. Build trust - Building trust takes time. It takes even longer across the miles. Each of you should remember this and do what you can to offer reassurance in your long distance romance. Take and send pictures of where you are. Use FourSquare to check in. Text your love and let them know how your day is going. When you're together physically, take them to your favorite hang out places, introduce them to your friends, let them see how you live your life, share yourself with them. That way, they'll feel comfortable when you say you're enjoying sushi at your favorite restaurant.... because they enjoyed sushi there with you one day too!
  6. Offer understanding - Be understanding when your partner needs reassurance. It is absolutely normal for your significant other to worry about you, who you're spending time with, what you're up to. What isn't normal, however, is if your partner gets angry at you for living your life. It is still YOUR life... and no one should have a say in the matter except you. Remember your boundaries. We're creating strong bonds of interdependence here! Not codependence!
  7. Remember YOU are responsible for your peace of mind - Yes, your partner can and should offer reassurance if you're feeling weak or insecure. However, there are some times that fear can drive you out of your mind. Your partner may or may not be accessible to help you through those things. Try to separate what's real versus what you're making up in your mind. You could very easily jump to a conclusion or assumption that isn't the truth at all because you're alone to obsess about it. Find a way to distract yourself. Find a friend, a routine or exercise or meditation or prayer that calms you so that you don't rely on your long distance love to "fix" it for you. Learn to calm your fears without expectation of your partner to do it for you.
  8. Take care of you - As with any relationship, don't let yourself go because you can't get your mind off of this new exciting relationship. This advice is even more prevalent to those in LDR's because we spend so much time trying to stay in touch with our partner that we would otherwise be taking care of ourselves! Honor your time to yourself. Offer and request the same of your partner. If your body feels healthy, your mind will too. And vice versa! Take care of your body, your mind, your spirit, your household, your children (if any), and for goodness sakes, spend time with your friends and family! Fill yourself up with the love all around you in your life! Hopefully, your lover will do the same in his or her own life as well.
  9. Have faith - My girlfriend, when I told her this last bit of advice, said, "Yes, I know I should trust that he'll do what he says he's going to do so we can be together." But I'm not saying, "Have faith in him." What I'm saying is, Have faith in the plan. Whatever the "plan" is. Something brought you two together for some reason. It may or may not be forever. Don't fret. Be where you are. Have faith that everything works out the way it's supposed to.... and either way, you WILL be okay. Stay present in love so that past fear doesn't win.
  10. Masturbate - This last one was suggested by Gentleman Jack. *giggle*  He's right though! For those of us with overactive libidos, masturbation (and even phone sex!) definitely helps during those times when you can't be with the love of your life. Also, as an added bonus, it keeps up the stamina for when you can be together and you're squeezin' all the lovin' you can into a 2 or 3 day weekend.

...at least, that's the way I've enjoyed a 2+ year long distance relationship with my man. I wish I would have had some of this advice before I was married... or hell even before my last relationship. I believe some of what I've learned could bring two WHOLE people together into one AMAZING relationship.

Don't you think?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Fear, Pride and Would I look good in a Burka?

As I modeled my latest new dress, my Gentleman scrutinized me critically.

"Hmmm..." he began, "don't you think it's a little short?"

I looked down at the hem that brushed the tops of my knee-caps. Short? Really?

"And maybe it's a little low cut in the front..." he added.

I giggled. Sometimes I think he'd feel more comfortable if I walked around in a burka.

***

My poor man. His attraction to me both draws him in and frightens him at the same time. He's convinced that anyone who sees me will want me....and I guess he should feel that way, right? Keeps him on his toes! Or something like that.

I find this particularly amusing and confusing at the same time. Unfortunately, so does he. His emotions go from pride to fear. He both wants to show me off and keep me to himself.

I imagine in some of his past relationships, this may have been a struggle for both him and his partner. With us, it can still be a little bit of a wrinkle but we seem to work it out just fine, with kindness, compassion, respect and understanding. It's almost as if we were made for each other and with perfect timing.

***

If you'll recall my visit to Europe about a month before Gentleman Jack and I were to connect, I spent time with my girlfriend Lou Lou and her husband. I thought it was funny that Lou Lou's husband was so overly protective and jealous of her noticing another attractive man. It was so odd to me, coming out of a marriage where my husband never showed a jealous bone in his body.

I wondered, in that blog post:

Would my husband's being more protective and more jealous have proved his love to me?

Within a month of publishing that post, my Gentleman and I were actively communicating and within a year, we were head over heels in love.

***

Jack was very concerned about my staying with blog friends on my vacation. He was even more concerned when we were out for our epic girls' night. People he didn't know... with me in a town that was new and different.

He was so worried about appearing like "one of those jealous boyfriends" that he didn't tell me he sat at home wrought with emotion all night while I was out enjoying myself. When he confessed to me the next day, I told him that I certainly don't mind him requesting some reassurance. I've been known to do that myself. I also would have told him to put on his big boy underpants if it had been anything more than that.... just as he's done for me.

"But I wanted you to go out and enjoy girls' night. You deserve that! I didn't want to bring you down."

Here's what we do though, in our honest, open, communicative relationship: We share emotions. No matter how ugly they may seem to be.

I understand the feeling of wanting him to have fun but feeling worried at the same time. I really get it. Maybe it's the long distance that creates the frustrating dichotomy of emotions for the both of us. I understand that it's a struggle between "T deserves this" and "Oh my, I'm going crazy hoping no one's trying to take her home."

And because I can sense the struggle, I ride the wave of emotion with him until we're on calm seas again. It can make us both a little sea sick but then he pulls me back or I pull him into this powerful bond of love and respect we share. I think we do that for each other.

Sometimes I'm amazed at how well we fit together. Even when... we're not always together. We may not have worked this well had it been years ago. We've each learned lessons from our previous relationships.

I love the man with all of me. I appreciate that he takes me as I am too, even if it does make him nervous... short skirts, low cut necklines and all!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Stepping out: Vacation offers a new perspective

I love taking vacations... especially when the vacation is at least 5-7 days long and is somewhere away from Dallas.

When I take vacations like that, it removes me from my life. Gentleman Jack actually pokes fun at me because my brain seems to shut down. I can't recall what my house looks like or what I do at work or any sort of recollection of my everyday existence. I know it's funny to him that I do that but it's a MUST for me and my mental health.

I've recently returned from a 7 day vacation that seemed more like 3 vacations in one!

First, I flew to Colorado with Jack and his family for his family reunion. We spent the weekend with cousins, aunts and uncles and learned even more about his family history. The kids were spoiled plum rotten and enjoyed every second of it.

After taking GJ back to the airport, we then drove a few hours away to visit family of our own. We spent some time in the mountains and reconnected with our own relatives for a few days. My daughters again loved it because there were 3 dogs at the house. I think the dogs and the kids wore each other out.







We spent the last part of our week staying with and visiting some bloggy friends. My Gentleman didn't feel comfortable with the thought of us staying with someone I hadn't met but he just doesn't understand bloggy love. Of course, Mindy and Danielle were exactly as I expected them to be. Not only did we fall into perfect rhythm as if we'd known each other for years (which we have), but our children did too. We were amazed at how well our daughters enjoyed each other. We ended our stay with an epic ladies night out.

Note to self: Ladies night out should not be the night before your flight back home.



Now that my mind has enjoyed a vacation and my body enjoyed cooler than 100 + degree temperatures, it seems strange that I have to get back to normal now. Normal feels... not so normal to me right now. Especially since looking at my life from the outside seems to put a lot of things in perspective.

It was a much needed break.