Thursday, March 29, 2012

Your past is (hi)STORY.

I saw this today and let it sink in a little.


As I said yesterday, nothing is resolved. None of what I wish to change has changed. What has changed, however, is my headstrong attitude about it. (At least for now.) When I think about what has been upsetting me lately, I could easily slip back into the ego fight with it. That would be so easy!

Instead, I wish to see it differently.

Much like some of the work with my energy coach/chiropractor and yesterday's quote, I am asking myself the question, "What else is possible?" I've also been re-reading A Course in Miracles' Rules for Decision.

In other words, I've opted to open my mind about what was bothering me.

"I must have decided wrongly, because I am not at peace." (One of my favorite little prayers from ACIM.)

You always know the right decision by the peace you feel inside.

I've been more of an allowing place since my angry day on Tuesday. I think angry days are good every now and then. Sometimes, we just need to feel it, ya know? Life isn't always what we think it should be. We should at least allow ourselves that.

I practiced some good, long, deep, (that's what she said!) breathing this morning and have felt a little more open to the good that I know is flowing to me.  

"What I seek is seeking me."

While walking back to my office from a quick lunch today, I recalled the above quote about the past. In my head I heard a distinct voice...

"What if there isn't a problem, after all? What if I'm creating something where there is nothing because that is what I expect based on the past?"

What if, huh? What if everything is happening exactly as it should, in a perfect controlled pace? What if I can let go of my expectation and "shoulds" and see what happens?

Quite an interesting way of looking at things, isn't it?

Where in your life have you let go of your past and found an amazing present/future instead?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Surrendering vs. Giving Up

Let me apologize for my long-winded diatribes these past few weeks. There are times when I'm open and learning so much that I have to share. Other times, I'm still open but more present and aware of the life right in front of me. I appreciate all of you for sticking with me.

I was feeling really down yesterday and went into yet another long winded rant but in another place than here on the blog. I kept hearing messages about not giving up and learning to accept and all the stuff I'm usually telling other people. I appreciate those messages. I'm most appreciative of the people who gave that to me.

You see, when it appears that things are not as I'd wish them to be, my mind goes into overdrive to force things to be different. I'm just built that way. An indignant problem-solver. Some of my best work has come from being hardheaded. I also have this other side of me that recognizes that I can't change things immediately and therefore I must give up.

That was when my ex-husband used to say, "I didn't marry a quitter."

But I did quit. Or at least I used to. See, I get tired of fighting and wishing and hoping...especially when it appears that nothing is changing at all. That's where I was yesterday. I was ready to quit. I knew I wouldn't because I'm at least aware that I'm not thinking clear enough to make decisions. Still, it was quite a battle.

After all the positive messages and even after cracking open my A Course in Miracles book, I decided to go even further and do some inquiry care of Byron Katie's The Work. I was VERY aware of what was upsetting me. I was also VERY aware that I was choosing to continue to be angry about it. I just had to keep looking into whether I really believed there was an issue or not... or if I was leaning on it so heavily out of pure fear.

I guess I don't have to tell you the answer.

We all know from the spiritual work I've already done that if my peace is disturbed, fear (ego) is winning.

Thus I needed distraction from the over-thinking and head-spinning that was going on. Thankfully, the work gang opted for an early mid-week happy hour due to the beautiful weather. My sister invited me and the kids out to dinner. (On that topic, let me just say that it's been really nice spending time with her again.) A girlfriend came over to chat/vent/listen. Today a friend sent a text inviting me to lunch.

I'm aware of the love right in front of me. I also know that I still believe there is a remaining issue that needs to be resolved. I know I need to practice some acceptance in order to feel a pressure release from it. I also know that sometimes things are too good to give up on, even when they may not appear ideal right now.

A resolution may not come now or when I feel like it should. It may never be resolved. Things may not even be the same a year from now or even longer. Can I step outside of that indignant hardheaded problem-solver side of me and remember the side of me that smiles, loves, allows and accepts? Can I recognize the difference between giving up and surrendering to what is? This isn't the first time I've realized this concept.

Still lots of work to be done.

Or not.

Not if I can accept that this is where I am right now, hardheaded and all, and that's okay. After all, the "issue" that needs to be resolved has been nothing more than a mirror reminding me that I am the same.

And isn't that resolution right there?


Monday, March 26, 2012

Confessions of a Rescuer

Gentleman Jack and I were lying in my bed relaxing, talking and delaying his inevitable Sunday afternoon departure from my house. Somewhere in our conversation, I recalled an initial meeting with a friend I've known for over 20 years.

"She lived in this dungeon of a place," I told him, "She was in a dark place, emotionally too, due to the relationship she was in. We moved in together and...."

"So, you rescued her." He interrupted me. "You decided to save her from all of that?"

*sigh*

Of course I did. This is what I do. This is my pattern.

As I was told recently, I actually look for people who need help, who need some sort of rescue, "upside down" people (my energy coach's term), in order to feel as if I have something to offer. I supposed I feel loved when I'm needed. After all, this is the experience I had as a child and up until this point in my life.

Gentleman Jack needs me. 

The difference is that he's aware of his "needs" and stops me short of becoming full codependent with him. Instead, he wishes to take care of himself AND me.

I too would like him to take care of himself and me.... to a certain extent. I do not wish to be rescued, however I do wish for my man to love me the way he wishes to love me. With honor, respect, protection and adoration. The way he loves me now.

I guess I'm beating a dead horse here. I've been reading and writing about my codependent patterns for a while now. It's obvious the harm it's caused and it's obviously going to take me a while to get comfortable changing it. It feels a bit like a divorce from my former self. I'm aware that things are different but I've not settled into a comfortable level with it yet. I feel vulnerable and hyper-aware. I feel like the dependency pendulum has swung to the complete opposite side of the spectrum. I've pulled back from people in my life. I'm sensitive to everything I commit to. I'm noticing when I feel burnt out and then I kick my own ass for overdoing it STILL.

I know there's a middle ground here but I haven't settled into it yet.

I'm aware that it's not people in my life who are toxic, necessarily, but my reaction to them. I'm still working on boundaries and when I give up me for someone else.

I'm aware that I feel insecure and less than when I'm around someone who seemingly has their shit together. I also know that in order to keep lifting myself up, I must surround myself with people who DO have their shit together...with people who DON'T need me....with people who wish to lift me up too. A mutual uplifting. Relationships that add to my life instead of leaving me drained.

Or perhaps this is just where I find myself now. Maybe after a lifetime of lifting, it is I who wish to be uplifted.

This also means that I must allow myself to be vulnerable and ignore the part of me that says that need = weakness. I DO need. And that's okay.

I'm sorry this sounds like an incoherent ramble of thoughts. I needed to vent these thoughts... because...

It is getting more and more difficult for my man and I to be apart.

We're both feeling it. We're both wanting more. He's afraid I'm going to give up after these 3 years together. I'm afraid that things will never change.

At the same time, however, I'm afraid of that change. What if I give up my life, jump in and try to rescue him? What if I fall right back into the old patterns again? What if he lets me? What if I feel resentful and angry? Maybe it's too soon. Maybe I need to settle into the new "me" that allows myself the company of others without trying to fix them.

Maybe we need a few more years before I'm ready to move forward. But can we wait that long?

I know that I hurt after we've been together. I know I do. But it broke my heart to hear him, on the phone from his house last night, say:

"...and now I have to get used to living without you again..."

And my initial reaction was to make his pain go away.

Exactly what the old codependent rescuer would do.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Curse of Motherhood

I can't focus today at all.

I spent yesterday evening, after a GREAT day, with a friend who is recovering from breast cancer and a full mastectomy. She's holding it together really well - or so she appears to be holding it together to her friends and family. She feels that her young children depend on her to keep life as normal as possible. However, within minutes of alone time with me, with her children out of the room, she breaks down into full sobs about how she looks, how she feels, when will it end.... Her words broke my heart into a million pieces.

She'd been denying herself her own feelings to be a better mom for her family.

***

The day before yesterday, a friend confided in me that her 8 year old son was molested. She's done every thing in her power to protect her child from predators, bad neighborhoods, etc. You know, all the stuff a regular mom would consider to protect her child.

What she didn't expect, however, is her child's best friend, another 8 year old boy, would reach out and inappropriately touch (and more) her own son during a sleepover. In her child's own bed. While she and her husband slept right down the hall.

She feels like she failed, as a parent. She feels like it is her responsibility to keep him safe and secure at all times. Isn't that how we all feel? Yet isn't it usually who you'd least expect that would harm you or your child?

***

The day before that, as I brushed my teeth, a horrible thought flashed in my mind.

It was nothing that I really want to put into words. It was just the very normal and frightening random thoughts of a protective mother.

As a child, you see the challenge of climbing on the kitchen counter to get your own plate. As the mother of this child, you only see what could happen. You see your child falling to the ground, the plate breaking into a thousand pieces... a trip to the emergency room... watching your child in pain. This is why we overreact, at times. This is why we go a little nuts when you wander away from us for too long.

I can't explain when this thought system came took over my brain. I only vaguely recall the heaviness of being told that I had gestational diabetes while pregnant and that my diet could potentially harm the baby in my belly. I felt like a failure as a mom. I changed my diet, among other things, to protect my baby. My needs or cravings no longer mattered.

I was gladly giving up me for my child.

***

So this morning, when I awoke from a dream....

A dream where police officers were telling me of an escaped convict, who'd murdered his entire family, and was now on the loose in the grocery store where I was shopping with my kids. I recall being distracted while my daughters wandered away. And as the police were describing the man, quiet, kind, and infantile, I remembered seeing him talking to my youngest daughter....

I jumped with a start out of my pillow.

Yes, it was thankfully only a dream. Sadly, to some it may not be. And thus, as a mom, I am continually haunted with what could happen. The "I told you not to do that" stuff and the "oh my god I'm a failure as a mother" stuff.

It is a terrible curse, however it is one we endure, as parents, despite the fact that we might even be fighting for our own lives. We sacrifice our bodies, our minds and our sanity for our children.

And pray to God to handle the rest.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Men and Women: Equality of the Sexes?

After being in the "provider" role in my marriage for some time, my husband I attempted the more traditional roles of a married couple (like his parents) after our children were born. Neither of us were built for it. I now know (as discovered in yesterday's post) that my expectations of a man go far beyond the expectations of "quiet agreeable" women of the pre-Rosie-the-Riveter days, or even beyond what my ex's mother expected. They actually fall a little more in line with what my mother expected from my father.

Yes, men generally feel the need to provide security to their women, as their DNA calls for it from generations of ancestry. However security, these days, means more than a roof over our head and a paycheck. We learned that we can provide that for ourselves. Maslow tells us that once those needs are met, we long to be listened to, validated, supported, adored for what we do all day.

Men long for that too. It just looks different.

Many men were raised in a culture whose fathers' fathers worked all day while the women tended the home. Women nurtured and cared for their men and children. We (generally) are naturally built that way, from generations of ancestry too. Now we're providing for ourselves, tending the home and still finding time to nurture our children. Where would we have time to nurture a man too? And who will take care of US at the end of the day?

I still don't believe that marriage was flawless back then either. There were too many things happening that no one spoke about. It is good that we've become empowered women who know what we can accomplish. I also believe we have to be honest and aware with ourselves about what we expect from our men... and offer some thought to what they feel is expected of them based on upbringing, contradictory messages from society and how they're wired by ancestry. Let us also recognize that this generation of men were/are typically not listened to, validated, supported or adored for what they do all day. It was/is expected. It's what their fathers, their father's father, and generations have said that they must do.

Maybe if there's any sort of equality of the sexes, it's that we need to recognize what's expected of us from these influences and from each other.

***

I also believe this is why many of us women fall so quickly for men who leave us feeling lack. We tell ourselves we're "strong", "independent" and "don't need a man" but as soon as a man offers something that appears like security, we fall. We don't just lean in, we fall fast. Men naturally seem to feel the need to provide this, initially, but aren't given the opportunity to PROVE they can provide, honor, cherish and protect. I think men want to be MEN but we don't always allow them to be. Part of that allowing is stepping back and giving them opportunity to "rescue the beauty" and earn her love. We've put so much pressure on ourselves to be rid of our feminine qualities because they are perceived as weak. Yet it is our femininity that brings out the masculine qualities that many of us long for.

I also feel that if we, as women, weren't so hungry for this need to be loved (provided for, honored, cherished and protected), we would be able to wait and see which men were really able to provide these things and we would choose differently. This is what happens in nature. If we could be the gender that actually recognizes that we DO want to be loved this way, we might actually find the security we desire. Obviously much of this hunger can be satiated by honoring your primary relationship. If we can concentrate on nurturing ourselves there, we can find more peace in the process.

After all, we shouldn't have to lean in or fall. I believe a real man earns trust and naturally pulls you into him and the security that he offers. I also believe that the security he offers begins with his honoring his relationship with spirit as well.

***

The truth is, because I know that I can go out and earn a paycheck like a man, it doesn't mean I want to be "the man". I'm sure I'll get some flack for this but I don't believe in equality of the sexes.

Yes, I can make as much or more money than a man (and I still think we should fight for that), I can do the job of a man, run my own business, own my own home, open my own doors, mow my own lawn, repair my car, provide, cherish, honor and protect myself. I can do all of that. I suppose from an outwardly point of view, I am equal.

Deeper than that though, I choose to embrace my femininity. (And apparently I'm not the only one to do so.) I choose to love with all of my emotional being. I choose to cry at chick flicks. I choose to relate because that's how I'm built. I choose to enjoy being treated like a lady, with doors opened, flowers delivered, cards mailed, if that's the way my man wants to treat me. I choose to honor my blessings (and fight for my rights) as a reproductive female and what that means to my body. I choose to allow my hormonal rages and sensitive moments, if that's how I'm feeling in the moment. I choose to recognize my weaknesses and my strengths and everything makes me very much a female. I will allow myself all of that because that is what makes me NOT equal to a man.

I also choose to allow my man to be the man he wants to be. I will do my best to see beyond the things I feel I could "do better"... which is difficult after forty something years of self-reliance and many years of living alone. It is still a habit to "fix" when I feel my man is unhappy. This is something I'm aware of and working on, actively. I will offer him trust, respect and appreciate his very male qualities because it makes him NOT equal to me. I will also offer him room to prove his natural abilities to love me the way he wants to love me.


Hopefully with some awareness on both sides, we can communicate clearly and continue to build a healthy relationship based on loving each other the way we wish to be, beyond confusing expectations, and with some allowance of our natural tendencies as masculine and feminine.

In my case, I'm aware, I'm communicating and I'm working on it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Men: How They Want to Love us and What We Expect from Them

After recognizing that I don't want to be an strong, independent woman in yesterday's post, I realized that I do want what my Gentleman would like to provide for me.

He wants to show his love by providing, cherishing, protecting and honoring me.

Men, down to their DNA, want to offer love in the way of security. And I believe women, down to our DNA, want to feel secure. The challenge is that we, as women, have difficulty trusting that security because it has been redefined over the past few generations.

***

I know I longed for it. I loved being married for the idea of security that it provided. I loved being part of something bigger than myself. I loved being in relationship with someone who wanted to provide for me. It seemed like the roles were clearly defined.

Soon after I married, however, I realized the cracks in that "secure" place. After having children and losing my high paying job, the cracks became full buckles in the foundation.

My ex-husband simply couldn't be the man I or he expected him to be.

I'm not sure he wasn't influenced by the pressures of his own family upbringing. A father who made it his place to provide and protect but with as little emotion as possible. His mother, quiet and agreeable, knowing her place and wouldn't dream of stepping outside of it. My ex wanted to be that man, wanted to offer all of those things but he wasn't his father and I certainly wasn't his mother.

I expected more, as a wife, because I knew what I could provide for myself.

....which brings us not only back to how I was raised but even further into history.

***

Remember this:


Rosie the Riveter was used as part of government propaganda during World War II to convince women to help with the war effort. Women were targeted to leave their households and go to work in factories to support their men at war. Once the war was over, however, women felt too empowered to return to their aprons and rubber gloves. Feminism was born and with that, a different idea of what roles women would play in society... and in relationships. It also changed our expectations as women as Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs showed us what we could provide for ourselves and changed what we expected from men.

Since that time as well, I believe men have had difficulty settling into what roles THEY should play in society and relationships. Equality of the sexes has left us all confused and redefined expectations in the male/female relationship.

The roles in marriages are no longer as clearly defined. There are assumptions made all over the place. My ex saw me as an "investment" when we married and I went back to college. He loved that my career brought more money and that he was allowed more household duties, such as his excellent hand at gourmet cooking. We were, by no means, a traditional household.

When we had children, however, the roles shifted. He claimed he wanted to be the provider, like his father, while I stayed home with the children. Neither of us were made for those roles and trying to force it only broke it.

***

In tomorrow's post, more thoughts of equality of the sexes and how it affects us as women.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Women: How We Want to be Loved and How We Resist It

I have a wonderful male friend who's been in an abusive relationship the past few years. He's one of the kindest and most gentle men I know. The woman he was dating was not a happy person and he'd made it his role to try to fix her.

Obviously, it didn't work and he broke up with her a few weeks ago.

When we met for lunch last week to talk about it, we both realized that his history is to be attracted to seemingly "strong", "independent" women who end up being controlling and unhappy.

Funny that, huh?

What I pointed out to him is that most "strong and independent" women don't really want to be that way. They feel like they have to be.

Speaking from my own experience, I come from a family history of a passive aggressive mother and an aggressive father. As the first born, my natural tendency was to come to the aid of my mother. I didn't realize that she wasn't a victim. I'd placed her in that role, as well as myself, against my father. She reinforced this idea giving me nearly daily messages of how my father wasn't providing for, and was in fact denying, her needs.

In fact, it was my needs that were not being met. I had a young mother who allowed me more freedom than most... probably under the guise of my being her best friend. She partied with my friends and me during my teenage days. Boundaries weren't set. There was no model relationship between my parents who eventually divorced when I was in my early 20's. She rebelled against my father and so did I.

My male friend and Gentleman Jack are the type of men who want to provide, cherish, protect and honor the women in their lives. However I wasn't raised to allow that. I was raised to rebel and provide for my own needs, all while trying to "fix" those who aren't living what I'd call "a happy life", as I'd done for my mother.

Ironically enough, those who are actually happy, I shy away from, feeling like they're better than me. What does that tell you?

After my last post about how burnt out I am, I received an email from a reader. She too feels burnt out, as did many of you who left comments. One of the things she pointed out, however, sticks in my mind:

"In fact, my friends describe me the same way your commenters (friends?) have described you: an amazing person and mother. However, if you are like me, your mind is plagued with negative self-talk and a constant fear of disappointing someone."

She hit the nail on the head.

Sure, from the outside, it appears that I am strong, independent and have my life running under some poised control with a few chaotic moments here and there. Underneath it all, I am toxic to myself.

I don't want to be strong. I want someone to provide, cherish, protect and honor me. I think most women want that. The happiest women I know HAVE that already. The challenge comes in that I was not modeled that behavior in a relationship.

My mother and I were each vying for the attention of my father. She in passive aggressive ways and I....I just wanted him to notice me, be proud of me, pay attention to me. My father loved us both the best way he knew how.

Which brings me to my next post: Men - how they want to love us and what we expect from them.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Single Parent Burnout

I'm really at a loss for words.

Well, okay, not really. I just have so many words going through my head that I've got a bit of analysis paralysis happenin'.

Like, for instance, I started this blog post... oh I don't know... an hour ago... and since then I've been interrupted 4 times and sidetracked into other things in there as well. Then I came back to this and was like, "Um... what was I going to write about?"

But we've already discussed how busy I am, haven't we?

***

Oh and remember when I wrote about how our primary relationship should be with our True Self... and then I wondered how I could stop trying to "heal" (read: fix) those around me through sharing my own experience? A few days later, this quote tied both of those posts together nicely.

"When you are in alignment with who-you-really-are, you cannot help but uplift those with whom you come into contact. Your value to those around you hinges upon only one thing: your personal alignment with Source. And the only thing you have to give to another is an example of that alignment — which they may observe, then desire, and then work to achieve — but you cannot give it to them."
~Abraham-Hicks

Now if I could only remember that...

***

I also read another quote that said something like, "We teach others how to treat us by how we treat ourselves."

Then I thought about how I feel like everybody expects me to take care of everything, put out fires, make sure things run smoothly, pick up where others drop off...

And I realized I am doing this to myself.

I'm the one who puts all of the pressure on myself to have my shit together, be the planner, the cheerleader, the firefighter, the perfectionist, the healer fixer, the self-taught master of all things complaining that I'm not allowed to focus on one single thing. I'm the one who takes care of others, being there, spending time, loving, giving, pushing through fear, doing doing DOING until I burn out completely.

Well, I'm burnt out. I'm busy and BURNT. Momma needs a friggin' break. I want to lean back and have someone do for me but I'm so damn scared that if I do, things will remain undone, chaos will ensue and I'll have to pick things up AGAIN.

Still, I do this to myself. This tendency is lifelong and I realize it may take just as long to let it go but I want to. I really want to be gentle and loving to myself. I really want to teach others that I need them. I need help too. I want to do that without being needy. Is there a way?

I have a deep core belief that I must work to change:

"I'm convinced that I must do everything myself and yet... I'm also convinced that I will fail on my own."

Momma's burnt out and doomed beliefs like the one above aren't helping anything. Something has to change. It starts with aligning myself with the True Me. The quest continues...


**After I typed out this blog post, my computer blue screened and I lost half of it. Grrr...**

Friday, March 2, 2012

Like Mother, Like Daughter

My kids have an hour to get ready for school but they take their own sweet time. It works out, most days, that we're able to walk to school and still get there with minutes to spare. This morning, however, my oldest daughter was not focused.

She wanted to choose what her younger sister would wear to school. In her mind she was doing something nice. I'll admit, my oldest has a wonderful eye for fashion whereas my youngest is happiest in sweats and a t-shirt. But that's just it. My youngest is happiest in sweats and a t-shirt. So when she refused to put on the cute outfit her sister had chosen, my oldest child melted into a 2-year-old's tantrum.

Why?

Because she thought she was doing something nice, that she knew better and since it was refused, she got upset because she realized she had no control over her sister at all.

She once did. My baby used to allow her older sister to dress her up like a doll. She still does occasionally. As she's grown older, however, she's developed a mind of her own, much to the chagrin of her older sister.

****

I could relate to how my oldest child felt.

It's how *I* feel every time I think I know better too.

This is the same reason I've pulled back and away from certain relationships in my life. It's not that the people are toxic... it's that my reaction to them is.

****

I am now working with an energy coach. During yesterday's session, she pointed out that I'm attracted to (what she called) "upside down" people.

"You are attracted and want to heal these people the way you've healed yourself."

Boy is she on to something! Yes! I feel like I've had some serious life experience and it literally pains me when I try to give a heads up on how someone can do things differently and they don't listen. Watching my 10 year old melt into a shrieking mess of frustration, I saw myself. She forgot to eat breakfast she was so angry. Then on the walk to school, she was still crying and emotional about it.

Will she be a mini-me or will my own life lessons help her?

See? There I go again.

****

The truth is, we're all "upside down" people. Sure I have some crazy-ass experiences that may or may not help the next person but they have to be OPEN to it. I can't force anyone to follow my advice.

Nor do I understand the path they've chosen, the path that's been chosen for them or the life experiences they choose. No one could have told me what I was "supposed" to do. If they did, I ignored the advice and had my own experiences anyway.

And, just like my younger child, everyone knows when they're happiest. I think what hurts me is that people say they aren't happy and yes, it takes work to make different choices than what you've been making, but to continue making the same choices and then still say you're still unhappy? Well, that's more than I can stand.

That's when I have to walk away. That's when I have to pull back and take care of me. That's when I have to have faith that the decisions will change when the pain exceeds the pleasure. Because yes, from what I can tell, it appears that the decisions are a choice for pain. We hurt ourselves on purpose. Just like this morning when I made and told my daughter to eat breakfast but she was so focused on being angry that she "chose" not to eat. Now, she's suffering through her morning classes with no nutrition.

Just like me, when I find myself attracted to the situations I've already lived through so that I can share my experience and hope to heal someone else like I've healed myself. I'm actively choosing to fail. My life experience also tells me that people must live their own lives and it will piss me off that they do. I hope that my awareness of this helps. I do not wish to fail or go toxic anymore.

It's time to make better decisions. Don't you think?