Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I'm not crazy; I'm in a long distance relationship.

Sometimes I could kick my own ass.

And I do... but still.

When I'm with Gentleman Jack, so much of the goodness and the reasons we got together in the first place rush back to me. I mean, sure, some people will say that long distance relationships allow "only your best face" to show and in some ways, I see their point. In many other ways, however, I beg to differ.

For instance, when you live with someone, you see the good, the bad, the ugly. The awesome thing about living with someone, however, is that all of that good, bad and ugly can be spread out into a week, a month, a year. When you fight, as an example, you can have your space (sleeping on the couch, going to another area of the house) and then as you get over it, you can have makeup sex (THAT NIGHT if you want to) or snuggle up and fall asleep in each others' arms. You don't have to wait 2 weeks or more to hold each other again and say how completely sorry you are for "wasting" that precious time you had together.

Sure, the distance helps you remember how precious that time is but it still takes work to continue to see the good when someone lives 200 miles away.

Remember when Jack said that he thought I intentionally pushed him to the back of my mind when we're apart? Oh my goodness, he's so right. I've noticed I get downright pissy at our situation at times that I write big rants like this one. I don't want to be ranty. I know my rants were more about the unfairness of our situation than the fact that he didn't feel like putting out that ONE weekend. (See? My ass needs kicking.)

If we lived together, one weekend would be nothing. The way our phone calls went after that weekend, we may very well have had sex that night. Long distance didn't give me that option. It only put more pressure on us where there wouldn't have been otherwise.

I get angry at him because he's going through a difficult time. I bitch and moan that he needs to figure his shit out so he can pay attention to MEEEEEEEEE and we can enjoy more fun together and see what our future holds. He has many habits that are self-sabotaging. Then again, ^ ^ ^ ^ ^, apparently so do I.

The really REALLY cool thing about us? One of the things that makes us the US that we love so much? We both have AWARENESS of our self-sabotaging behaviors. The awareness may not be in that moment (whose is?) but it is there.

I may choose to believe that he doesn't understand how he's hurting himself but then I notice he does. I may choose to believe that he doesn't see me as special anymore, but then I notice he does. I may choose to believe that he doesn't like me... but then he shows up, within moments, and reminds me that he sees me, far into a future more beautiful than he can imagine, and he's eternally grateful for whatever forces or whatever good karma brought me to him.

I still pray for less resistance to this love. I still treasure every moment that my eyes are opened to his wonderfulness. I still long for the day that I can hold on to the faith in him, in me, in US, without even trying. I still give thanks for this relationship and, yes, even the *grumble grumble* distance, that allows us both to continue to learn from our own mistakes, figure out how to be whole separately while still supporting and growing ever closer in love.

I'm sorry that this blog makes me appear so schizophrenic. I'm still learning that all that I can control is me and how I react to things. Please know that some of what I write is with fear and some is written with love. I guess we're all kinda like that, aren't we?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Peace among the Chaos

This post was written almost 2 years ago, sitting in draft from February 2010. Happy post! Yay!

There has been plenty of chaos spinning in my life lately and I'm breathing, allowing, doing what I can to find my peace.

My friend Marie called yesterday to find out how I was doing. She wants to get together this weekend so that she can meet Gentleman Jack.

I went on to explain to her that for the first time in ... well... who knows... I feel content. Yet, there's a tiny little voice that's telling me I shouldn't be.

She knew exactly what I was talking about:

"Its the phantom of the psyche. Its an ego thing. You're feeling centered and zen and there's your ego telling you that you should be spinning, setting goals, moving forward, doing something, ANYTHING, instead of enjoying your stillness."

Its true! Besides moments of weakness or PMS, I honestly feel happy, content, peaceful.

I was struggling with this earlier last month. I was confused at myself for not having goals or expectations. I felt like I was having a major identity crisis.

Then, one day as I was sitting in the backseat of a co-worker's car on the way to lunch, I heard a voice in my head:

"I am content. I am happy. That's why I feel so strange. This is a feeling I'm not used to."

I nearly burst out laughing in the backseat.

I am feeling calm. Even amidst the crisis of major relationship problems with people very close to me. Even amidst Gentleman Jack having his own issues with things that I can't help him with. Even amidst the winter blues.

I feel grateful, supported and loved.

I am not sure how long this feeling with last. It may stay for a while (how wonderful!) or it may be fleeting like my moments of funk.

I want to allow this. I choose to enjoy it. I am going to still create my vision board, from this place of joy.

Even a happy girl can still dream big.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

You know when someone doesn't like you? THAT.

As you all know, I am ever on a quest to rid myself of the things that no longer serve me.

Among those things have been people, relationships, habits, thoughts, beliefs and negative patterns from my past. I've learned that when I feel fearful or even just slightly irritated, there is a block there that is preventing me from experiencing the joy of the moment. Thus, I've been removing blocks, one by one, for a while now and actually feeling lighter and more joyful.

Well, I've stumbled upon another block. It may very well be a reoccurring one. Nonetheless...

I really REALLY don't like when someone doesn't like me.

They could not like me in the moment because they're upset with me. They could not like me because they don't know me. They could not like me because they do know me but still don't like me. (Funny, that last one is a lot easier to let go of.)

***

For instance, when Gentleman Jack and I have an argument, as we did a few weeks ago, my pattern is to leave. I want to run or get as far away from the negativity thrown my direction. It is extremely difficult to handle his anger at me even when, as experience dictates, he gets over things quicker than I do. My need is to defend, to explain, to FORCE him to see my point of view, even when I know we all have differing perceptions. I can't stand it if he's so locked into his in-the-moment perception that he isn't seeing me the way I WANT him to see me. It makes me so crazy that I have to leave... but I'm trying to stay put because walking away makes it so. much. worse.

I'm also still having difficulty communicating with the ex's fiancee. It is so apparent to me that she takes what I say so much differently than how I meant it. In most cases when I pick up the girls from them, I feel all eck for the rest of the night. I can't even put my finger on it except to say she just doesn't like me. I can just TELL and it makes me feel completely awful.

"We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their behavior."

***

Pema Chodron tells a story of being on a long bus ride with a woman who didn't like her at all. Pema had a difficult time knowing the woman couldn't stand her so she overcompensated in an attempt to win the woman over. She was overly kind. She was overly smiley. She was overly complimentary. Nothing worked. Instead she had to endure a days long bus ride with a woman who couldn't stand her presence. She said she felt she'd rather endure death that stay on that bus. That is how difficult it was to sit with the feeling of being "not liked".

That's how I feel sometimes. Like I'd rather endure ANYTHING than being in a space with someone who doesn't like me. I'm trying to sit with it, dig down in it and figure out why. I've been noticing things, here and there, that are giving me clues. Still, though, I wait to figure this out as it is certainly no longer serving me.

***

Today in yoga, the teacher asked us to place a sock filled with tennis balls under our backs in an area that needed release. Of course the place I carry stress is my shoulders and so I, very gingerly, laid down on the tennis balls/makeshift massage tool. Ouchie. It wasn't comfortable and in moments, it hurt like hell.

"Recognize the discomfort," she advised, "and remember this: The pain is only temporary. Like everything else, it will pass. Breathe into it and see if you can find relief instead of discomfort."

She may be onto something.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Does the Childhood Home Affect Relationship Choices?

As I left my house this morning, I realized that we've been living there nearly 4 years. When I was married, we lived in only 2 other homes and for extended periods of time.

I love my house.

True, there are things I'd like to fix or change but I still feel like it was a great investment in a great neighborhood. I can see myself staying there for a while.

Then, there are thoughts of moving. Would I move to Louisiana to be with my man? I doubt it but the thought is there. Could I, eventually, at some point? When the kids are older? Maybe? Would I sell my house? I don't know.

And then there are thoughts of travel. Eventually I would love to travel more. I would love to spend weeks or months in other locations. I'm not sure when that would happen but again, the thought is there. Even then, would I sell my house? I don't know.

I started thinking about my childhood. I grew up in the same house from the time I was a toddler until I left home and moved to Texas. My parents sold the house after they divorced. I was in my 20's. Even still, when you ask my brother or sister where "home" was, we'd all agree it was that house. Even when we dream, we all still dream of that house. We were comfortable there. Settled. It was home base for years.

I also recall conversations with Soldier, my ex. His was a family that moved pretty consistently. I believe he told me he went to 5 different high schools. To him, he said, it was an adventure. His mother always reassured them that way. It would be a new adventure and so they enjoyed it. He's continued living that lifestyle to this day.

Which brought to mind the next thought... settling down. I think, because I grew up that way, I enjoy that feeling of being settled down and comfortable. Yes, I still have wanderlust and love to travel. I got that from my dad and grandfather. But I still crave a home base. I think I crave that in relationships too. I love to move about, be social, have my carefree moments of fun... but I love the security of home base.  I feel that feeling when I'm in my man's arms.

When I recall Soldier, however, he was ever searching... unwilling to stay put for very long before he was ever seeking a new adventure.

I wonder if this is a normal case with those who grew up moving about from town to town. I only know of his particular story so I use him as an example. I wonder, is it something that begins from that sort of childhood background?

Which then leads me to question.... am I doing the right thing by giving my daughters a home base? And what would happen if we were to decide to move?

Monday, January 23, 2012

An Examination of Marriage: Success

I'm cleaning out old drafted posts that were never published for some reason or another. This one (written in late July 2010) was part of the series on examining my thoughts about marriage. The previous post was An Examination of Marriage: Why?. Click on the marriage label for other posts.

I cannot recommend Elizabeth Gilbert's book Committed enough for those struggling with this idea of marriage. Not only does she fully examine her own fears, she also covers the history of marriage and how marriage is viewed in other societies. She discusses how marriage affects women and men. She not only dove deep into research, which I happen to love, she also examined her own relationship with her fiancé/now husband.

That was my favorite part.

You see, in her descriptions, I saw myself and my Gentleman. The way I relate to her so well, her antidotes and examinations of her own man sounded as if we were with very nearly the same man!

As I did my own research on her research, I also came across various articles expressing advice on successful marriages.

For instance:

This article: The Three Pillars For A Successful Marriage - which states that all marriages should be built on Integrity, Respect and Endurance.

This article: The Three C's of a Successful Marriage - Commitment, Communication, Caring

And this one with it's own Three C's - Communication, Compromise, Creativity

And yet another with Three C's - Communication, Compromise, Commitment

You get the general idea, right?


All in all, I have found that a healthy relationship, marriage, friendship, partnership, parenthood, etc, is definitely based on honest, mutual, understanding, caring, listening, respect and trust. In order to follow through with this list of demands, myself, and the person with whom I partner, must come to the table as whole as possible, understanding the others' expectations and misgivings, as well as their own.

It is an opportunity to look at yourself, beautiful and ugly all at once, and recognize yourself as part of something bigger than yourself. There will be sacrifice, of course, but only if you wish to view it as such. If the perceived "sacrifice" is seen as a selfless investment into a partnership that takes you further and higher than you could have gone alone, then it really isn't a sacrifice at all, is it?

Coincidentally, looking back at the breakdown of my own marriage, I can see many lessons I've learned as well.

I choose not to break down a wall of the private relationship with my partner to allow a window with someone else.

Ah leave it up to A Course in Miracles and the wonderful teachers in my life to point out the obvious regarding my obsessing on the marriage decision: Do it or don't do it, you will find peace either way, if you choose it.

Peace is ALWAYS with you, if you choose it. And that which you think will disturb your peace can also bring you peace if you change the purpose you assign to it.

It's all up to me.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Denying of the Sex

I'd love to say that despite the uncomfortable weekend, my man and I found a moment to be intimate, had fantastic make-up sex, or got so angry that we sweated our way through a grudge fuck.

*sigh* If only...

Remember that I said depression is a fierce bitch? And you remember how hardheaded I am when I'm pouty?

Yeah, neither of those are the sexiest.

We both wanted sex. I was in one mood and he was in another. I wanted one thing and he wanted another. We were on limited time so one of us would have to break. The way he was feeling, I knew it'd be up to me to initiate.


Dammit.

I didn't effin feel like initiating... It's too much of a close reminder of my marital sex life. Typically, I don't mind being the initiator with my man. I know from our history that when I start things, it's ON. And much of the time, he initiates too. It comes happens naturally. But not when he's in THIS kind of mood.

One thing I've learned about depression, it isn't motivating or a turn on.

Continuing my stubbornness, I said *I* wasn't in the mood.


And it PISSED HIM OFF.

I dunno what to say. Maybe I wanted him to get mad enough to just take me like the bad girl I was.


'Cept, I forget, he can be damn hardheaded too. And what I said about depression not equaling the sex? Yeah. THAT.

Worst of all, he felt DENIED.

You see... I do not ever, EVER deny sex. Sex, to me, is as precious as relishing a truffle, hearing your favorite song on the radio at just the right time, watching a breathtaking sunset with the one you love, standing with my feet in the ocean on a warm summer's day or by the light of a full moon... Sex is not anything that I want to miss or take for granted. I've learned too much about myself sexually, post-divorce, to let the opportunity pass me by. Besides, I also know how I am when I don't get the sex.

Yes, I know how men hate when us girls use the terms "always" or "never". This time, however, when I said to him, "You're pissed because I said 'no' to sex and you know that I NEVER do that", he didn't disagree with me.

I've known too many men whose wives denied them a healthy sex life.


I've also known many women who've said the same. I get it. I certainly try not to take it personally... when it happened for so long while married. It happens so rarely with him that when it does, I understand the reasons.

However when I said 'no', he took it personally. It hurt his feelings. And THAT pissed ME off. My ex-husband did the same when I ultimately stopped initiating (due to exhaustion with a toddler and newborn - forget the fact that I wanted sex every day while pregnant and he wouldn't touch me). It contributed to the demise of our already deteriorating marriage. The fact that my man got so upset worried me and left me to ponder:

Why is it okay for a man to say no to sex but not a woman?

Discuss.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Relationship Insights from my brilliant "Step" Son

The parting with my Gentleman on Sunday wasn't a happy one.

We'd had a rough weekend where we weren't meeting halfway at all. After some pretty heavy discussion that morning, I'll admit it: I was ready to go home.

Standing in his driveway to say our goodbyes, I noticed his teen son hanging around. The boy had already hugged me goodbye but he appeared to be lingering longer than normal. I wasn't surprised, about an hour into my trip home, when Gentleman Jack texted that his son had heard most of our conversation... and wanted to talk to me about it.

Mind you, I'd been praying ACTIVELY since I woke up that morning for some message of calm. My heart was heavy when I drove away. I wasn't sure if it would be the last time I'd be driving away. (See where my mind goes? Again, much work for me to do.)

I called Jack's son. And he schooled me.

"I heard Dad saying that if you needed something (he didn't hear) to be happy then maybe he's not the man for you. And then I heard you agree with him. Y'all don't need to be saying that to each other. I KNOW you love each other and to say that is just not nice. Y'all need to find a way to compromise. That's what people who love each other do."

This is tough. We were in Jack's room behind closed doors. And we weren't yelling. We were sitting on the bed, holding hands, looking into each others' eyes. I was begging for some sort of promise that everything would be okay as we build a family together into the future. He was telling me that he couldn't focus on a future when he could barely make it through today. He said to focus on something he doesn't have now only brings him down in the current moment.

I was begging him for hope. I was trying to find something strong to hold on to because the idea of "we" felt so weak in that moment.

"Miss T," his son continued, "I know you want hope but sometimes hope is a luxury. When we're having a hard time and we've been through hard times... it's tough to believe in hope. I know that's who you are and that's why we love having you in our lives. You bring us hope. But sometimes, life just is what it is. And hope seems far far away."

I was begging for hope because there have been times where I feel like I'm the one with hope that things will get better for him... and he just can't move past the frustrations of the moment. I will seek positive. I will seek a way out of the puzzle. It's just how my mind functions and how I've survived things. I put dreams out there to focus on because that's how I make them come true. I generally believe there's a solution, a way out, and I will fight like mad to make things happen. I've been intimate with fear and dammit, I do what I can to see through it to possibility.

He reiterated that was exactly what they all loved about me. He reminded me of how much his dad and I smile when we're together. He told me that none of them - him, his brother, Jack's mom - could imagine a life without me in it. He'd just completed a holiday project at school last month where, in the space labeled "mom", he put a picture of me.

"This is how Daddy loves you. He only wants to protect you. He may put up walls when he's going through a hard time but that's because he wants to be strong for you and protect you from his hurt. That's when you need to drill down those walls. He wants to know you'll always be there.

"To him, you're the sword in the stone. He wants to know you'll be that steady and true. And he wants to be the only Arthur who can remove it."

Wow, really?

I was in tears with this boy. I love his big sensitive heart. I jokingly asked, "Is your dad paying you to say all of this?"

"Miss T, I can't even tell you where this stuff is coming from."

But I knew. And I thanked him for being the conduit for just what I needed to hear.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Fighting: Depression is a Fierce Bitch

I had to wait until this morning to blog. If I would have blogged last night... well, let's just say I wouldn't have had a single nice thing to say about this past weekend. But I know me. I know how when my Sicilian is showing. Thus, I decided to sleep on it and wake up with clearer thoughts. Here goes.

This past weekend was the Worst. Weekend. Ever.

How clear was that?

In all honesty, it wasn't the actual worst but there were some pretty bad moments. I think it began the night before I left when my Gentleman said to me, "Don't expect much of me this weekend. I have (insert financial worry) on my mind and I'll be belly aching about it all weekend. Oh and I won't be cleaning house. And, I may not even be here when you arrive."

Um... gee. Sounds like I have every reason to drive over RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND! /end sarcasm

Now, you all know how awesome my guy is. I gush on and on about how good he is to me. He really is. So much so that I took his "warning" with a grain of salt. Which I shouldn't have... because I know how depressed he gets with financial worries. He's nearly non-functional. Still, we make each other smile so I thought it'd be okay.

It wasn't.

He actually wasn't there when I arrived. Now, I was prepared for this because I was warned. I also knew what he was doing was putting food on the table for his family. What I didn't expect was a miscommunication about when he would actually be home. And thus began the weekend of "T doesn't feel very wanted or special and so I'm going to be the bellyache-r now."

He and I had a huge blow out which began Friday night, was put on pause all day Saturday, and continued Sunday morning into the entire day. Funny enough, however, we still did it with love. I was proud of both of us. When I knew he was at his wits end, he didn't fall into his nasty old patterns and I didn't either (but it was damn close enough that I wanted to). Even when I gave him ample ammunition to hurl insults at the girlfriend who's not special at all, he still reminded me that I was.

And that's what it became - a fight for specialness.

I was begging him to remind me that I'm special enough to be there for and that he's not thrown me in the bucket of those that don't allow him to be HIM. I want to be different and better than the rest. I want to be worth more to him. I think that's why I reacted so strongly when he commented that I was upset because he wasn't "waiting for me" when I arrived and also when he appeared to "turn his back to me" while I was speaking. (That's an old pattern of my ex-husband who would actually leave the room when I was speaking to him about nearly anything.)

I translated his nonchalance at my arrival into "who do you think YOU are??!" and assumed he didn't see me as special enough to make preparations for. (By the way, the house was immaculate when I arrived... including some preparations he only does for me. *sigh*)

He also begged for me to see him as someone special enough to stay with, love, be patient with during these depressed times, not deem him a horrible person (and I said he wasn't, despite how he feels during his anger. I do that too.)

A Course in Miracles says we're all fighting to be "special"... forgetting our grandeur in hopes for grandiosity instead. (Which is basically choosing our ego wants rather than accepting our spiritual place.)

Oprah says all that we want from each other is to be validated, "are you really seeing me?" (Which, yes, can be viewed from an ego standpoint. Or not... if we're REALLY seeing each other beyond the external.)

Pema Chodron says, "fear reminds us where we're stuck."

And that was it. I wasn't feeling special (from my ego's point of view). Ok, I can see where I need to work on that (from my spirit's point of view). I wasn't feeling validated. He couldn't "see" me because he's not even "seeing" himself right now. Depression is fierce that way. He's not recognizing his own worth and thus feels he has nothing but negative balance to show for it (financially, emotionally and otherwise). I also have to take responsibility for my own "not seeing" this weekend. I was only ego pitting myself against ego. That's a losing battle from the get-go. The "fear" that I was feeling was that we're doomed, done for, finished. We've lost what held us together.

Which reminds me that I'm stuck. I'm assuming a little unsteadiness deems us as over? Really? I have to sit with that. I have to sit with the discomfort of "stuck" and allow this feeling for a little while until it passes.

Then I have lots of work to do.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Loads of PRAYERS needed

Please read these posts by my friend Nicki...

My First Night Home

When it rains, Dreamers dance in it

She, her preemie baby and her family all need continued prayers. Please spread the word on your Facebook pages and with your tweets.

Thank you! We love you Nicki!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

When Things Fall Apart

A few months ago, a friend (who is going through a very difficult time) gave me a copy of a book that she was reading. The book is called When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chodron.

I love Pema Chodron but have yet to read one of her books. I set this one aside for when I was going through a difficult time. I'm feeling very happy with my life at the moment.

Then one day, I decided to pick up this book and see what it was about. Hey, as it turns out... everything is always falling apart... then falling together... then falling apart again.

That's the impermanence of the human condition, isn't it?

Let me just give a few quotes, chapter titles and tidbits that have stuck out from this book and you can decide if it or Chodron's teachings are for you.

***

Regarding beginning a spiritual journey via the many means available to us, Chodron says, "Any of these approaches might hook us and fuel our enthusiasm to explore further, but if we want to go beneath the surface and practice without hesitation, it is inevitable that we will experience fear."

She tells us that we must get "intimate with fear" because "Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth."

If we become intimate with fear, which again is part of the human experience, instead of what we usually do, "sweeten it up, smooth it over, take a pill or distract ourselves", we are more likely to build courage.

"Usually we think brave people have no fear. The truth is that they are intimate with fear."

Those are the people who feel the fear and do it anyway.


"Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don't really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together and fall apart again. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy."

"Letting there be room for not knowing is the most important thing of all."

"Life is like that. We don't know anything. We call something bad; we call it good. But really we just don't know."

"The spiritual journey is not about heaven and finally getting to a place that's really swell. In fact, that way of looking at things is what keeps us miserable."

Isn't it true? Always looking ahead instead of being present keeps us continually dissatisfied with where we are.

She goes on to explain that the most profound spiritual experience she had was when her husband told her he was having an affair. I could relate to her because it was the exact same experience for me.

"I knew that annihilation of my old dependent, clinging self was the only way to go."

"This very moment," she says, "is the perfect teacher..."

We run from the moments where we're "nailed by life"... "the place where you have no choice except to embrace what's happening or push it away." We run, distract ourselves, or do whatever other means necessary so "we don't have to feel the full impact of the pain that arises when we cannot manipulate the situation to make us come out looking fine."

She encourages meditation, becoming intimate with fear, obstacles and impermanence, and treating yourself with loving kindness, as a sort of "shock absorber" (my term) for life.

"What we call obstacles are really the way the world and our entire experience teach us where we're stuck." (Ohmigosh, this is so true!)

She asks us to make friends with what is. She goes on to cover more Buddhist Dharmas, principles and teachings.

Throughout the book, we learn how to be compassionate with ourselves, which "widens the circle of compassion."

"Only in an open, nonjudgmental space can we acknowledge what we are feeling. Only in an open space where we're not all caught up in our own version of reality can we see and hear and feel who others really are, which allows us to be with them and communicate with them properly."

"We think that by protecting ourselves from suffering we are being kind to ourselves. The truth is, we only become more fearful, more hardened, and more alienated. We experience ourselves as being separate from the whole. Yet when we don't close off and we let our hearts break, we discover our kinship with all beings."

***

The friend who gave me this book asked me, "What makes your suffering so special?" It was a question asked of her recently as well.

In other words, we all have our battles, as Plato once said.

Can we allow ourselves to feel the wounds of our battles? Can we be okay with what we're feeling and why? Can we trust the perfection of the moment and how though things appear to be falling apart, they're also falling together? Can we allow others their own suffering, without the need to control or fix, so they too can find their own peace within the chaos?

These are all questions I've had since ending my own marriage. I've dealt with the not knowing. I've become too familiar with impermanence. I've more recently learned to allow my own feelings.

She's teaching me to remove judgment, something else I've learned from A Course in Miracles. She's teaching me to allow, for myself and others. She's teaching me to embrace the discomforts of the human experience, change my mind about things, find a way to be with love towards myself and others.

This journey is simple and painfully difficult. I appreciate Chodron's insights. It feels nice to have yet another remind me that it's okay for me to be Me... however or whomever I am in this perfect moment.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tough Discipline... with Love Added

Over the holiday break, when my children were with their father, they got into really bad trouble. I'll spare you the details but let's just say that both my ex-husband, his almost-wife (a term coined by our youngest), and the kids were all very upset by the whole thing.

The ex-husband was trying something new. He was trying to follow through on his threatened disciplinary actions. I'd mentioned this to him weeks before during a discussion where I commented that I thought our children were really great kids and he disagreed with me. (I won't even tell you how upset that made me.) We both agreed on one thing, however: they act completely differently with him than they do with me.

So when the big bad "event" happened, he naturally threatened grounding and restrictions. In an attempt to follow through, however, the children still did not take him seriously and broke the restrictive rules again. He was livid. They were an absolute mess of bawling and begging to come home. My littlest one even suggested that "Daddy and his almost wife just don't understand how our brains work like you do."

*crack* Yeah, my heart broke on that one.

I had to then have a discussion with the girls reminding them that their father was right in reprimanding them. (Though I would have been even tougher.) I then had to explain to him that he was doing the right thing but that he could still offer love to them as well. He was perplexed.

***


I've written about Love and Logic before. It is a strict but loving parenting technique where children learn from the consequences of their own mistakes. The parent, instead of joyously celebrating an "I told you so!", lovingly empowers the child that "yes, the consequences suck but how wonderful that you now know better!"

It is not always easy to follow and I am not always good at following it.

However, I do have to say that even after my children have been reprimanded, I will still allow them to sit with me and cry or be held and nurtured, while holding firm to the discipline as well. Thus, they seem to be really great children with me. Grateful. Loving. Kind. Respectful. Responsible. Happy.

I may not always know what I'm doing as a mother but I do try to set a good example, allow the girls to be who they are and respond to their needs. Yes I get angry but I will also put myself in time outs if I cannot control my temper. Yes I get frustrated with bad choices they make but I also emphasize that I'm not perfect either. Live and learn - like we're ALL doing.

***

I've had this same conversation with Gentleman Jack. He seems to understand it, when helping my children. He is a wonderful disciplinarian and still so loving to them as well. With his own children, however, he gets lost in the forest. He gets so frustrated that I often wonder if he believes that their failures are his own.

After a particularly disappointing evening with his children, I again tried to encourage him to allow them their mistakes, failures and consequences. Again, he grew frustrated with me.

"You can say all of that because they aren't your children! Just wait until one of YOUR kids does the same. Let's hear your talk about letting them fail then!"

Oh my, he was not in a good place. I had all sorts of suggestions and advice floating around in my mind. But then, just as I have handled conflicts with my children, I apologized to him for offering advice when he just wanted me to listen. I allowed him his frustration and disappointment. Instead of forcing my idea of what I believed he should do, I let him be, to see for himself, to logically learn on his own.

And I loved him through it.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Conversations with a 10 year old

My youngest daughter was sleeping over at a friend's house (her first sleepover ever) so I spent yesterday hanging out with my oldest daughter. Her brain never stops! Here are a few random conversations:

***

T: So, I was thinking since it's just you and me, that we could go to church this morning. You remember the church you liked on Christmas Eve?
Child 1: Eh, I don't really want to go to church.
T: I hear you. But I like to go feel connected to God, you know? I like hearing what the pastor says. It inspires me and makes me feel good.
Child 1: Mom, you and anyone else can choose to be connected to God or feel good anytime. You don't need church for that.

***

T: (while we went through clothes that didn't fit anymore) Awww, look at this?! Do you remember when your sister used to wear this? She's getting too big too fast! What are we gonna do about that?
Child 1: Awwww! She was so little and cute! Can't we just put her in a box and shrink her small again??

***

Child 1: (after letting out a rather large sound from her rear end and then a giggle) Sorry, Mom. I'm gassy today.
(pause)
Wouldn't it be cool if there was a fart language?

***

Child 1: Mom, I noticed you were confused as to where to meet dad the other day when you picked us up. How did that happen?
T: (after explaining my side of the conversation with her father) So now, do you get why I thought he meant somewhere else?
Child 1: Yeah, I can see that. He was pretty irritated when you weren't there. Then again, he's irritated most of the time.
T: Well, he didn't use to be that way. I married a happy guy. I'm not sure when he became a grumpy old man.
Child 1: Really? Maybe he just became that way after having kids.
T: Oh baby, don't you ever think that!!!! He was grumpy way before having children.
(pause)
Child 1: Is Gentleman Jack ever grumpy?

***

Child 1: (at various times during the day) I miss my sister.

***

T: Do you know how lucky you are to have a sister that you adore and she loves you too? You guys get along so much better than I did with my sister.
Child 1: Most of the time...

***

Child 1: (at other various times) Mommy, I love you. Very much.

***

Child 1: (after we picked up her sister who was very grouchy from not sleeping well at her friend's house) Can we take her back to her friend's? She's really no fun to be around at all.

***

Once we had my youngest child home, I put them to task cleaning their room. There was much frustration, crying and tantrum throwing that one was doing more work than the other. Then, after about 20 minutes, I heard laughing and peace.

T:
What happened? Whoa! This room looks great y'all!
Child 2: Well, my big sister was crying about going through this part of our room so I told her I'd clean it all by myself. Then she helped by cleaning the other parts.

***


Then, at bedtime, with both happy children tucked into their beds in a nice clean room, they both told me how much they loved me. And I was grateful at how much they loved each other too.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Realizations from a Flirtatious Encounter

I made a new acquaintance recently. A very handsome, outgoing, athletic and positive man whom I enjoyed being around during the minimal amounts of time we spent together. I enjoyed talking to him and hearing his outlooks on things.

Then, one day, I realized he was flirting with me. And I, out of complete habit, was flirting back. Eh, I didn't think much of it. I'm a flirt, born and bred. I flirt without even realizing I'm flirting. I've been that way my adult life and never thought much of it... until I realized that it's gotten me into more trouble than it's worth.

This particular day, I drove home feeling a bit disturbed by the flirting. In the moment, I didn't recognize it. However, the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to go home and take a shower.

This man is married.

Now, the "old T", you know the one that had an affair? She would have felt pretty powerful that a handsome, charming (and unavailable) man deemed her sexy enough to flirt with.

This time? I was pretty irritated with it.

It was a HUGE realization for me. Well, there were several realizations, truth be told...

  1. I was deeply disturbed that a married man would flirt so obviously with me. What would his wife think if she saw such behavior? Especially when I inquired about his wife and he dismissed her as if she didn't exist. Such disrespect! If he disrespects his own wife, I doubt he'll treat me with respect either.
  2. Just because someone is flirting with me doesn't validate me as sexy, beautiful or anything special at all. And quite honestly, I'm so filled up with self-validation and love from the wonderful man in my life that I don't feel the need to seek attention from any other.
  3. I am proud of myself for recognizing that I overstepped my boundary again (mindlessly flirting back) and for putting said boundary back into place (by addressing the issue with him later).
  4. I am also very proud for recognizing the shallow behavior as that: shallow. The old me would have felt that "attention", no matter what little crumbs they were, meant "worth" and "love". That's how I ended up in unfulfilled relationships with unavailable men where I longed for more attention.
  5. I am truly, TRULY happy with who I am now and the love with which I've surrounded myself.

That's HUGE, y'all.

If you've been reading here a while, all through the relationship with Soldier, the recovery from that, the healing that had to take place while examining my sexuality and beliefs about monogamy, my struggles with codependency, this is a big step for me.

I'd like to thank that guy for flirting with me... if only just to appreciate the person that I am now.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Intention: Less Resistance, More Love

Sunday night, I curled up to sleep in a big ole lonely bed. Gentleman Jack texted me that he didn't even want to go to bed because he would feel so sad that I wasn't there. We were apart again after 5 wonderful nights sleeping side-by-side.

GJ made a comment to me a while back that reverberates in my mind now...

"I think you keep yourself busy and occupied, even avoiding talking in depth to me, in an effort to push aside how difficult it is for us to spend time apart."

I think he may be on to something.

I'll admit, I do "forget" what it's like when we're together. It's almost... unreal... how well we fit together, even when we don't. We have faced some very real things together - financial issues, co-parenting, past relationship fears - and even when we disagree, it's still good. Maybe pushing it aside is my sub-conscious way of dealing with it.

Even now, on my first day back at work in the new year, there is a very real part of me that wants to linger in the feelings of being nurtured and adored. It is a pretty awesome (and even that's an understatement) feeling to hear the man you love say, "Life just feels more complete when I'm with you." Simply typing that statement brings flutters to my midsection.

But yes, there is a practical side of me that says, "Ok, just a few more weeks. Now buckle down and get your stuff done. You have bills to pay, laundry to do, household items that need tending, meetings to attend, clients to check on, children to feed and care for..." Thus, the thoughts of him are shoved aside for the needs right in front of me. That's how I'm supposed to be though, right?

I can't sit and pine all day longing to be held again in his big strong arms. I can't cry when I'm washing the dishes and he doesn't wrap me up from behind, moving my long hair aside and kissing the back of my neck. I can't step outside of my shower in disappointment because he's not standing there, holding my soft warm robe. I can't be upset that I'm handling life on my own... when just a few days ago, he was cooking dinner every night for me and our blended family and I had the luxury of warming up during the chilly nights by sliding into the nook of his arm. I have to put on my big girl panties and get on with it, don't I?

Still, I do recognize that we both resist the goodness of what we have in some form or another. It scares us. Just as many people will "wait for the other shoe to drop" when something good happens, he and I both wonder if we could maintain this goodness in an every-single-day-togetherness kind of way.

The loneliness of being apart is fresh and tenable right now. The feeling leaves me with an intention for us for the new year:

I pray that whatever resistance or fears that either of us have that is keeping us apart, physically or emotionally, finds some resolution soon.

I truly believe that if we can break down even more walls, we could grow even closer and closer still. Maybe over the course of 2012, we will dare to even imagine a life together. Thus far, it's been too painful to think about.

We never suspected we would feel this way, enjoy such love, find such pleasure in relationship. I have to believe that life holds ever more pleasant surprises for us.

Happy New Year.

What intentions or goals have you set for 2012?