Sunday, April 29, 2012

Finding Space to be Wrong about the New Soon-to-be-Step-Mom

I've just returned from a visit to Louisiana to see Gentleman Jack. I enjoy driving the distance when it's only the dog and me because I put in an audio book. The drive goes quickly and I'm able to do some self-reflection.... because the books I listen to are spiritually based... of course.

For instance, on the drive I listened to Byron Katie's "I Need Your Love - Is That True?: How to Stop Seeking Love, Approval, and Appreciation and Start Finding Them Instead". I enjoy Byron Katie because she, like don Miguel Ruiz does with Toltec wisdom and shamanism, challenges the reader to question the thoughts and beliefs they hold, especially while in depression or misery.The point of the book was to bring awareness to the false beliefs we hold and the witnesses we seek to prove that we are not worthy of love or attention. Her idea, the same as A Course in Miracles, is that the love and attention is already and always there, but these thoughts and beliefs cloud over it.  She asked that we hold space to recognize what we do or think in particular to find more reasons to misery-filled.

Saturday morning, I went to a meditation group I recently discovered, quite accidentally/coincidentally, through an international journal on yoga and spirituality. The group meets only minutes from Gentleman Jack's house so it's a perfect opportunity for me to continue my practice of awareness and centering even while visiting my man. The meditation was difficult for me. Sitting still with my thoughts and surrounded by others who practice often, I felt like a child who was misbehaving. I couldn't, for the life of me, get past the feeling of wanting to move or talk or even yell out loud. Ironically, the meditation and subsequent morning chat with the other participants left me feeling really good for the rest of the day. It is obviously something I need to do more often. If only to create space in my mind to allow some quiet time.

On the drive home, I listened to Pema Chodron's Getting Unstuck. I've said it before, Pema rocks. She has to be the most down to earth Buddhist nun. I could listen to her speak all day  - she's that REAL. This book was yet another reminder of the things that arise in our minds to block us from our natural inheritance of "good". She referred to a tightening that occurs when something triggers us. First a tightening, then a feeling and a reaction. She asked that we find an awareness of the tightening so as to practice a different reaction or thought pattern to follow. Her advice? Find a space between the trigger and the tightening.

"It is a transformative experience to simply pause instead of immediately filling up the space."
~ Pema Chodron

LOTS of reminders to be aware and attempt to find space, right? Allow. And I was feeling REALLY good about it. Peaceful, calm, accepting.

Until BAM! On the drive home, I stopped to pick up my children from my ex-husband's house.... and was face to face with a "trigger" for lack of a better word...  his fiancee.  She hates me. I know it. I feel like she hates me and my children are a pain in her behind.... and I can feel the tightening and the emotions. I'm aware of this thought pattern and my reaction.... to call my ex and cry and complain and get angry. All the while I'm aware that I'm doing this. I'm aware that I could be wrong. I could be looking for proof that she is this person because, after all, it seems easy to find from this space of wanting to be liked by her and fear of what sort of mother she will be to my children.

I'm sitting with this feeling. I've vented to my ex-husband (who was left speechless and wishes to discuss it later) and now I'm allowing a teeny tiny space for this tightness, feeling and thought to be wrong.

I choose to be open to a different experience altogether. After all, what good does it serve for me, my ex, the kids or the ex's fiancee for me to be right?

I'm learning to accept where I am, in this place of wrongness or rightness or whatever-ness I'm feeling. It's rather liberating to know that it's perfectly spiritually normal to react, long for love, want to misbehave, scream or run like a screaming banshee through everyone's fluffy meditation pillows. It gives me free reign to feel what I want to feel with an awareness (there's that word again!) of when I'd like to feel something differently... and to allow space for that.

We'll see what happens.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Forgiveness can take time... and that's OKAY

Something happened today that triggered something in me.

I put so much pressure on myself to be forgiving, loving, accepting, compassionate... and you know what? Sometimes I'm just NOT.

Sometimes I have to simply be ANGRY or NOT forgiving or NOT accepting. I've told myself that I should allow these hard feelings because they are human and there's not a damn thing wrong with feeling them. I've said over and over that I refuse them, hide them, try to spiritualize my way out of letting them happen.

But I have felt and allowed them before...

Allow me to share a little story of forgiveness.

*****

If you were to look back at the diary I started at age 7 or 8, you'd see "I hate Daddy" scribbled on nearly every page.

I did hate my daddy. And to think that I began feeling that at the age of my youngest daughter makes me feel very sad. As the oldest child, he was really hard on me. I never felt that I was doing anything right. This continued long into adulthood.

As a young adult, my father left my mother for another woman. I was disappointed, angry, annoyed, pissed off and devastated. How could he?? The worst part was that, through it all, he acted very much like he was the victim in the entire scenario.

I didn't speak to my father for well over a year.

In fact, he kept reaching out to me. He wanted to be there for me. He also wanted me to listen to him and take his side. I couldn't do it. My mom was my best friend. She was the one who was suffering and alone.

The woman he married began to make little snide and snippy remarks to me when I was around. I got the feeling that she was jealous because he was working so diligently to gain my attention. I recall falling at a skating rink for my niece's birthday and spraining my wrist. I needed to go to the emergency room as my wrist had swollen 3 times its normal size. She walked up to me as I was being evaluated by the skating rink personnel and said, "Anything for attention, huh?"

......

I have to pause because... WOW... recalling this time in my life feels so familiar to me. I'm feeling this same sense of disappointment, anger and devastation at so many people in my life right now. I have taken, literally, the same course of action as I did then: no longer speaking or really associating with them.

Also, the way my dad's wife was treating me at that time in their relationship seems very similar to the way my ex-husband's fiancee feels towards me now.  I remember thinking, "What have I done to her? SHE'S the one who stole my daddy from my mom!"

......

My relationship with my father wasn't fully recovered for years. He was in my life, sort of. He still called, checked in, sent cards. We still saw him at holidays and visited occasionally. To me he was a nonessential part of my life..... until my own separation and divorce.

Again he wished to "be there" for me. Again, after explaining the breakdown of my marriage, he reiterated his victimhood during the breakdown of his marriage to my mom. Again, I was furious. Again, I lashed out to him and refused to speak to him during the most difficult part of my life.

Then, over the course of months and into years of learning to forgive myself and my ex-husband our shortcomings and our failed marriage (still a work in progress by the way), I found that I naturally forgave my father as well. Just in time for him to be diagnosed with cancer and die shortly thereafter

I watched my dad's wife care for my father and her own father in her OWN HOME as they both lay dying. She lost her husband and her father within 2 weeks of each other. My eyes opened to the amazing woman she is and her heart opened to me.

My mother and father remained best friends until the day he died. He loved her still and wasn't scared to show or tell her that he did. 

I've since learned so much about my father, my mother, my family... that I wish I would have known sooner. I miss my dad. I can't tell you how much I long to have him to talk to.

My point is.... I found forgiveness. We ALL did.

I hated to feel all of the fury and frustration and disappointment that I did for so long. I hated to feel lonely when I was with my father. I hated to see him hurt because I couldn't find a way to just let. it. go.

I couldn't force it. I couldn't make it happen. Forgiveness happened when it was time. Maybe I was more open to it. Maybe perceptions needed to change. Maybe there needed to be a space for it in all of our lives. Maybe the planets needed to align just so.

Maybe I need to quit making myself feel so bad for not forgiving right now. I want it, yes. I want an end to the anger, yes. But I can't force it.

Again, I'm reminded to allow.

*****

A Course in Miracles says our only function here is forgiveness. Perhaps all relationships offer us opportunities to fulfill that function. In every relationship... an opportunity to forgive. No matter how long it takes.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Course in Miracles... in everyday form

My daughters, though they've been exceptionally intuitive with me... and perhaps because of their intuitive sense of my frustration and anger, have been fighting like crazy lately.

You know that expression, "Shit rolls downhill"?

I've noticed for years that when my oldest daughter is really tough and impatient with her sister, I've generally been acting the same way. They're a great mirror for showing me how I've been feeling lately, whether I acknowledge it or not.

Sunday, while escaping to my shower, I could hear them both screaming at each other. We'd been snuggling in my bed and, as is the case in the bed, at the table, on the couch or anywhere else we go, they started fighting over which of them would be closest to me. It's exhausting when there's only one of me and two of them.

While I was taking my shower in hopes of drowning out their screams, I realized that this is what A Course in Miracles has been telling me for years. This is what WE do, as humankind. We fight for favoritism from God. We're always hoping to appear as innocent victim and pointing to someone else as guilty. We do it individually, collectively, as a country, as a gender, as a race... We're projecting all the time, putting us in a place of defense or fear of attack/retaliation. Exactly how my children have been acting out.

We believe there is a lack of love and we must gain all of it... which means stealing it from someone else. We may not be aware but subconsciously, we are all seekers, longing to be rid of the sense of abandonment and darkness in the depths of our souls.



***

At church later that morning, the pastor spoke on the lies we tell ourselves.

He spoke of the things we believe with our heart. Angry words our parents said to us. Hurtful things our exes said to us. Rejection from a job or a date. We hold onto these things, not necessarily with our minds because intellectually, we try to tell ourselves differently. But our hearts are broken. We are not good enough. We feel we're not worth the good in our lives and continually wait for the other shoe to drop. Or we create crisis to prove these lies.

He said one thing that was so good I actually emailed it to myself during the service.

A lie, believed as truth, has the power to control your life.

I could barely hold it together while listening. Tears welled in my eyes as I recognized yet another mirror showing me the lie, the wrong truth, from which I've been operating recently.

Again, my studies of the Course have revealed this to be true to me for as long as I've studied it. ACIM continually challenges my ego belief system (the "lies", the "wrong mind") and shows me, over and over again, how harmful it is in my life.



***

I recognize that I am in need of a change in perception. I know that the way I feel right now will affect how I view everything, how I treat others and how I witness others treating me or each other.

I will admit that, since I'm no longer facilitating a class on ACIM, I've not been the best student. I have no choice but to be a student of life - there is so much to learn! However, I must remember the teacher with which I choose to observe and discern all that I encounter. I'm glad to know that the little reminders don't let go, that the still small voice is always there, ever-present and patiently waiting to be heard.


All of these and many more wonderful ACIM images are from this page.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Learning to Yield where Weakness becomes Strength

My ex-husband used to tell me that I tricked him.

He swears that when we dated, I led him to believe that I was strong, tough and never emotional. Of course, I don't recall ever declaring myself any of that. I would also think that reality proved otherwise. Nevertheless, he still maintains I did. I realize now that, more than likely, what he perceived as "strength" was nothing more than hiding of weakness.

As a case in point, yesterday I attempted to lift something that was too heavy for me. Rather than asking for assistance, which was readily available, I lifted it anyway.... lost strength and it crashed into my thigh.... leaving a large bruise.

*sigh*

That's not strength at all, is it? Wouldn't a strong person ask for help?

What my ex perceived as strength was my adamant denying that things hurt me. Like, for instance, the fact that I wanted to be with him ALL THE TIME but he wasn't ready for that, outside forces prevented it and then, after we married, he was traveling frequently with work. I may have looked "strong" to him but I was fighting it, with every piece of me, because I knew he didn't want to hear how badly I needed him. When I did show how I truly felt, he was helpless and frustrated at my unhappiness.

What he may have perceived as strength were my headstrong, type-A, detail-oriented, project planner, disciplined, goal-setting behaviors. After all, once I set my mind to something, I very nearly bent the universe to my will. What he later discovered, however, was how devastated I could be when my goal was unachievable or when the universe simply wouldn't give. The devastation would then stick around for extended periods of time as I declared myself, wholly and convincingly, a failure.

I've noticed this same behavior as a single mother. So many people tell me how "strong" I am. I'm not strong. I'm terrified. I'm freaking out! I have no choice but to do what I do but that doesn't make me strong at all. That's called adapting. Some of the time, when I can remember to have faith and know that it isn't MY Strength I'm relying on, I am okay. Sometimes, I feel even joyous and happy. That joy isn't always defined by how my life looks. That joy arises when I'm comfortable in the discomfort and chaos of it all.

I wonder if Gentleman Jack feels a bit duped like my ex-husband at times. Sure, when we met, I was going along, taking care of myself, my kids, my home, my life... on the outside I appeared strong. He knew differently though. He's a single father. He tried to convince me he had his shit together too. We shared our vulnerabilities during many evening conversations. We both knew differently. We both know there are more weaknesses than strengths, more difficult challenges than wins. The more we allowed our vulnerabilities, the closer we bonded. The more real we were about our fears, the stronger we were.

We seem to go through cycles where we still hide our fears and vulnerabilities. Each of us is pretending to be strong in some way. There are things that bother him... but he doesn't like to admit they do. Same with me. So, instead of addressing them head on, we act like they're not there. We'll eventually get back to addressing these things but it takes a very uncomfortable conversation to pull through it. Quite frankly, we're both busy, overwhelmed and... single parents in a long distance relationship... We don't always have the time or have the energy to tackle these things. We don't always want to talk about the hard things when we have such precious moments of time together. Thus the darkness lingers on, probably longer than it should.

I'm painfully aware of the elephant in the room. I remember his big feet, large ears and loud bellowing from the days I was married to my ex-husband. I no longer want to pretend to be strong. I want to feel the strength in admitting my weaknesses, my fears, my darkness, my vulnerability. And I want the strength to be able to listen to his and allow him to be, whomever he wishes to be, however that looks, with love, compassion and acceptance.

The strength that it takes to offer that -  to listen, to love, to accept? That strength comes from being flexible, malleable, allowing, vulnerable... but with a ground of faith, stability and knowing. In yoga they say the willow tree is the strongest tree to withstand a storm. Its root system is deep and spread wide; yet its thin wispy branches yield, allowing the wind to bend but not break.

The person I try so hard to be... the independent, hardheaded, do-it-all-without-any-help, goal-setter... isn't based in strength but absolute fear and rigid beliefs in whom I'm supposed to be. The only power that person has is to hurt me or my relationships.

I must remember to bend.



Sunday, April 22, 2012

Staring down the Fear Monster: A Bedtime Story

I broke down with my daughters tonight. After a day where I could barely speak to them without yelling, I finally had to fess up and tell them what was wrong.

"Are you on your period?" my little one asked.

Awww, I've trained her well, huh? If she was a guy, I'd totally give her the stink eye but she lives with me so she gets it. Besides, maybe they won't feel so bad when I ask them the same question in a few short years (eek!).

Truth be told, I've been on my period for 3 weeks now. It has been suggested that my hormones, once again, are the cause of my raging. Whether that's true or not, I do know that I've had a tough go of it lately.

I had to break it down with my kids. I've always prided myself on keeping it real with them. Tonight, however, I felt bad. I don't want to tell them that this single motherhood thing is hard, that I need help, that I'm doing my best and it doesn't seem like enough, that my job search or 2nd and 3rd job opportunities aren't playing out as I'd hoped, that I feel like I'm barely scraping by... that I feel like a horrible mother because they're too young to know that I'm having this difficult of a time.

Both girls reached out to me and hugged me tight, "... but Mom, you're the best Mom! You're awesome at it! You keep us fed and take us to do fun things and take really good care of us."

I was bawling but allowed the love, allowed the little blessings, allowed these girls who save my life over and over again to hold me up for just a second or two.

"I'm trying," I told them, "but I get so tired. I just wish there was more I could do."

My youngest looked up at me, "I have an idea, Mommy. How about saying 'no' every now and then?"

Then she stepped back, thought for a moment and asked, "Can I have all of your money?"

I smiled at her and said, "No, of course not."

"SEE?!?" she exclaimed, "How hard was that?"

Hahahahahaha! Oh boy, she was right. I scooped her up, melted my head into her tiny chest and praised her for her brilliance.

"I'm going to read you a story...." then she scampered off to her room and came back with this book.


And she read me the book... 4 times.

This book where she described the ugly big green monster... his yellow eyes, sharp white teeth, purple scraggly hair and big green face. Then she took away those scary parts bit by bit until there was nothing to be afraid of anymore.

It was the perfect book for me and, perhaps on some level, she understood that. She knew I needed to take away the scary parts of the fear monster I've been so afraid of. With every reading, I began to feel lighter, less afraid and more loved.

I guess sometimes grown ups need bedtime stories too.


"Moms are all different. But all moms should be loved."
~ written by my oldest daughter in her poetry journal tonight

Friday, April 20, 2012

God knew

Sitting at the dinner table with my daughters last night, we started talking about the "fun family nights" they have with my ex-husband, his fiancee and her children. They do the same planned activities on certain evenings or afternoons when our children are there.

My oldest daughter loves this. Ever the planner (like her mom), she always wants to know what's going to happen next. So to have a certainty on particular evenings, she's in pure heaven.

"So you feel very much like a family when you're there?" I asked, trying to stifle any sort of feelings of jealousy. After all, when we're with Gentleman Jack and his boys, my girls seem to feel very happy and fulfilled as well.

"Yes we do," they both replied.

My youngest began discussing something that made them all laugh the last time they were at their dad's "almost wife's" house. It made me smile to know that they do feel a sense of calm and wholeness, even when they're not with me. That's a little tough to say but I've also wanted that for my daughters.... especially when they're with their father.

"Wow," I began, "it's like you have two whole families now, isn't it? Who knew that your dad and I getting a divorce would make that happen, ya know?"

My oldest daughter looked up at me and smiled, "God knew, Mom. God knew all along."

I had difficulty swallowing my dinner with a lump of humility in the way.

God knows. God knows all along.

I'll be okay.




Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Blocking the Good & Distorting the View: Anger, part 5

Well first, I saw this:
"The first drawback of anger is that it destroys your inner peace; the second is that it distorts your view of reality. If you think about this and come to understand that anger is really unhelpful, that it is only destructive, you can begin to distance yourself from anger." ~ Dalai Lama
Then I saw this:
"Of course, anger can always be justified, T. But then, so can forgiveness. Just depends on how much more you want from the adventure." ~ The Universe
Then I went back and read this post from Momma Sunshine. I remember her "cactus suit" analogy and that's very much how I'm feeling right now.

I recognize that I'm pushing away from certain people, Gentleman Jack especially. I'm reading into everything he says or does... even when he says, "I love you." I'm consciously aware that my view of reality is distorted, as the Dalai Lama says. I know that is what anger does. I know that I'm limiting the flow of well-being and goodness by holding up a big sign that says, "No thank you. Too busy feeling sorry for myself and thinking murderous thoughts about other people."

And GJ, because of his tough love ways and the fact that he feels helpless to do anything, is sometimes too harsh for me. I'm already feeling prickly outside and, honestly, pretty darn prickly inside too. Sometimes I want to tell him to go take a flying leap... however, when I'm in my right mind, I recognize that he said exactly what I needed to snap me out of things. He hates this quality about himself, by the way, and will apologize for it within minutes of speaking to me.

In this place, I need some gentleness to offset the complete rage that I am feeling. Very seldom do I react to what I'm being told. I KNOW, as I've said before, what I'm doing and all the myriad ways to stop doing it. I recognize this place and it is NOT comfortable in the least!

This is a very dark hole of bitterness and I really don't want anyone in here with me. I'd love to have someone reach in and pull me out. Sadly, GJ's reaction is frustration. "You have to save yourself." he tells me, "You can't expect someone to do it for you."

He's right, of course. But dammit, I'm so tired. Other people get rescued, ya know? Why am I expected to do all that I do AND rescue my own damn self too?

He challenged me to do something for myself today. Or tomorrow. Flat out said he'd be very disappointed in me if I didn't. I get where he's coming from but... have I said how tired I am?

I hate. I just hate.

So... because I've been challenged to take care of myself and pull myself out of the hole, I'm starting with watching this: The Power of Forgiveness.

It's a start, right?  

This is part 5 in a series exploring the emotion of Anger. Here's part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Because I love a good story...

Last week, I received this email from a reader. I think that you, my ever-patient, loving and supportive readers, can relate to this beautiful story. I know that I did. If you so choose, please offer her some love and encouraging words. Thank you.

Hi T,

I have been faithfully reading your blog for years now. You inspire and give me strength. Thank you for that! (Thank YOU for being so sweet!)

I am not sure why I am emailing you. I have reached out to anyone I can in the hope I can find a place of peace again in my life. You see, I get a lot of great advice, but I can not come to terms with the finality of it and my story seems to have people respond from a place of judgement rather than compassion. I can not blame them for that.

I am a single mom recovering from a marriage of emotional neglect and infidelity. I have prided myself on always doing the right thing and being true to myself, but in many ways I have failed in the latter, time and time again. You see, I am a rescuer too, and my empathy for others is so much stronger than any sense of self preservation.

It has been 6 years since I have allowed myself to care for another man. No, it has been more, since the breakdown of my marriage had started long before that, and in many ways I had disengaged emotionally. I had given up on men, on companionship and on love. My son was the only thing that mattered and the only thing that I cared for.

One day, when walking in my son's swim class, 5 minutes late, his instructor looked up from the water and made eye contact with me, and lightening struck. My stomach crunched up, my ears tingled and I was short of breath. My heart thumped so hard that I felt the whole world could hear it. I had to leave and sit outside for a while to regain my composure. Now, what is strange about all this is that we had been going to the same class and the same instructor for months, and he had made no impression until now, what so ever. He is a stocky boy, 10 years younger than me, pale as the moon, and by no means attractive in terms of my stereotypical taste. And yet, just like that, I could not get him out of my head.

I will spare you the details, but only to say that weeks later, after we had become friends and just as things began developing into something more, he told me of the day I showed up late, of the first moment he noticed me, and experienced a feeling of nausea and pain tinged with excitement and a need to meet me. It seems at that moment, some powerful deity had decided to play with our lives.

My heart and mind fought each other for weeks. At first it was the age and the total gap between our education levels and life experiences (he comes from a rough and painful past, to say the least). Later, it was the discovery (or admission) that he was an unmarried family man, with two kids. I was committed at that point to be nothing more than friends. I am not a "home wrecker", at least in my opinion. I kept my feelings close to my heart and revealed little, while he spoke openly of his, which were almost word for word a reflection of the ones I was trying to suppress. We both had an overwhelming feeling like we had known each other for our whole lives, like we had been a part of each other.

Even when he called for help to the hospital, after his girlfriend had hit and broken his nose (again!), I refused to open up about my feelings. You see, he was an amazing and caring dad who lives for his children. What kind of person would I have been to try and pull that apart? But, even if I had fought this, he was not. He reached out and pulled me to him despite my reluctance. He openly told the mother of his children he is in love with someone else and "broke up" with her. Being the sole bread winner, he continued to live there and tried his best to balance his various roles. Meanwhile, I experienced something new for me: a communication with a partner which was absolutely open, honest and free of fear of judgement. He wore his actions and his feelings on his sleeve and I did the same in turn. We spent several months in which we built each other up and dreamt big. I had never experienced elation as the one I lived in those months. I put aside my qualms about all the things that yelled for me to walk away, and embraced this new love.

I always knew that one day it would come down to a choice for him: the kids or me. I don't want to share too many of his personal history details, but to say that the kids' mother had a history of taking off and keeping the children away from him. It was something he swore he could never allow to happen again. From the beginning I saw the end coming, and we spoke about it. He assured me of his feelings but also admitted what was clear (and how it should always have been!) that his children come first.

As things got more serious between us, as we got more involved, we both began to experience huge fears of that impending day of choice. He told me I was the best friend he had ever had, and I knew in my head he was my soulmate and best friend as well. We battled together over the moral dilemma of what we were doing as well as the guilt he fought daily. I saw it starting to consume him, starting to cloud the happiness we had together. One day I told him that it hurt him to see him in that conflict. I told him I would be okay if he decided to let us go apart and chose to try and mend his relationship at home. A few weeks later he took me up on that.

I still see him, during my son's classes. The pain is searing. I am not just mourning the loss of my lover and love, but the loss of a friend, and confidant. I am hurting mostly due to this irrational but certain knowledge that this is not how things are supposed to be. Just like that first day I was hit by the lightning of love, to this day I know that this man has some deep and as of yet unexplored significance in my life and I in his. I KNOW the choice we made to be apart is the right one for his family, but I also know that whatever joke it was that was played on us is not over.

I have spent the last few weeks focusing on me and my son, and on getting over the pain. I have done everything in my power to stay away from him, and everything in my will to stop thinking of him. I have tried to drink him away, dance him away, date him away, and clean him away. I have tried to hate him, I have tried everything in my power to flush him out of my system. There are days where I do well and days (weeks) where I hurt beyond belief. I know the stages of grief, but I feel I am stuck between denial and anger, but seem unable to move forward from there. I think what keeps me there is knowing he loves me and still cares, and a sick and painful hope that one day soon he will show up at my doorstep and ask to stay.

How is it that one lets go of their "once in a lifetime" and settles for good enough? How is it that one stops hurting? Where does one in such pain find comfort?

I want to stop being the shell of a person which goes through life, step by step, like a robot, smiling when required, chatting, mechanically being what is expected of me, while masking this pain inside. I miss and want to take joy in life again, in the basic things that were my refuge. I want to move forward.

Thanks for listening. Not sure what I expect sending you this, but it is nice to be able to send it all out there into the world and hope that with this email a piece of my pain will leave me too. I know you are going through a lot now, and I apologize for the rather selfish email. I am tired of being strong, but wanting to be stronger.

L.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Anger and the Long Distance Relationship (part 4)

The other day, I accidentally left my cell phone at home all day. It was odd because... well... I carry my man around with me in that phone, ya know?

And yes, I do still remember a time before cell phones. Funny how we're naked without them now, huh?

Gentleman Jack had taken the day off to prepare for a fishing tournament. Normally, whether I have my phone or not, I leave him alone when he's on the lake. I've been out there with him and I'd definitely not want to answer the phone when surrounded by such peace and beauty. 

When I got home from work, however, I was feeling very lost. It was so strange to not have that "access" to him in case he needed to contact me. I rushed to my phone and found not a single missed call or text. I thought I'd call to check in.

He was fine, quiet and enjoying the day. I must have sounded down to him because he immediately asked if I was mad at him. I wasn't mad but still recovering from the sense of disconnect of the day. I sure did appreciate him asking me though.

I do love that about him... that he doesn't let a feeling just hang there without asking about it. I'm grateful for his intuitiveness and that he follows through with concern instead of letting the moment pass by. There are also other moments that I want to crawl back into my shell and act like a feeling isn't there. Ya know, those ugly feelings... like fear or anger.

***

I did lose my cool with him the other night, I'll admit. There was nothing going on except my wild imagination and fear from past triggers. I knew it but I still couldn't shake it.

He, of course, sensed it and addressed it head on.

"I understand your past and how it affects you," he said, "but I need you to understand how it makes me feel. I know you care and you want the best for me but I'm a full grown adult. I love you but you don't need to worry about me as if I'm a child. I can take care of myself AND my family. You have to learn to trust me even beyond your past fears."

Ah yes, the codependent caretaker has to step aside when the intuitive, strong, independent man steps in. I can appreciate that he stops me in my tracks. It's about time somebody did.

***

Fears and anger show up mostly when we're not together. I'm usually extremely relaxed when I'm around Gentleman Jack in person. In fact, I smile most of the time. I allow him to take care of himself, his family and me. We laugh. A lot. We have a really great time together.

There are occasions those emotions show up when we're together.

I feel disappointed sometimes. I'll have an expectation that I didn't realize I had. Occasionally I'll feel anger (like recently when I was sort of "forced" to look at a long standing issue I have and he wanted me to face it head on. Yep, that pissed me off pretty badly. Still does when I think about it...) but most of the time, we're enjoying each other.

I love the little things he does... like when I notice him staring at me out of the corner of my eye. He watches me and smiles. Sometimes he even says something like, "I'm so glad you're here."

Or "It's really nice to be able to hold your hand."

Or just a simple, "I missed you, baby."

When we sleep together, we sleep on opposite sides of the bed. Thankfully, we're both "independent sleepers" and like our space in the big king size beds each of us owns. Though we're apart during the night, we attempt to find each other all night long. It's sort of funny, actually, because we'll reach a hand across mounds of pillows and blankets just to find an arm. Or our feet will search out another warm foot for some footsie snuggles.

"I get really irritated when I can't find you with my feet," he told me last weekend. I still giggle when I think of that.

It makes me really sad to seek him out with my feet during the night and not find him. And that happens for weeks between visits.

I'll admit, I still question whether being together all the time would change how he looks at me. I also wonder if more fear, anger and those other "ugly" emotions would show up more often, if at all. Sadly, I won't have to worry about that for a very long time.

Here's to enjoying what ya got, my friends.

This is part 4 in a series exploring the emotion of Anger. Here's part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 5.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Goosfraba: Anger, part 3

Have any of you seen the movie, Anger Management? There's one particular scene when the therapist (played well by Jack Nicholson) offers his angry clients a word to use to diffuse their anger.

Here's the quick scene:



"You gotta dunk that shit!!"
 
LOL! Cracks me up every time...

The word he offers for them to use is "Goosfraba". He says it's a word that Eskimo mothers use to calm their children. Whether that's really a word or not, I love the idea and I love this movie.

I'd actually written about this movie in another post from 2 years ago, almost to the day.  Gentleman Jack had pointed out something to me after an argument in which I felt terrible for losing my temper:
"I think things make you angry all the time and you just take it. You take it until you're exhausted because you think everyone expects you to be Buddha. Then you get mad and you direct all of that anger towards yourself. Well, it's OK to be angry. It's OK to stand up for yourself. It's OK to say 'this isn't right.' Why beat yourself up for feeling what you feel?"

Right?! Isn't that what I'm asking myself now?

I often feel guilty for getting angry but dammit, it is just what I feel. GJ, when he's angry, feels it, expresses himself and then he's over it. I'm so afraid of expressing myself and letting others express themselves too. I'm so afraid of coming off as disappointing, ungrateful or mean that I hold it all inside or process it in some way that I can see both sides and try to rise above it like some spiritual non-human...

I'm aware. I'm letting it out all over the place now. Heh. Ok not really because I recognize that's probably not very productive at all... but it feels so freeing to allow myself to FEEL it and (do my damnedest to) be okay with it. 

The way I see it, if I can get rid of all of the infection from the festering wounds from my past, perhaps it will create a clearer vision of the present. Maybe I can actually learn to trust myself and my feelings about things instead of trying to "spiritualize" it away so that I don't get upset or upset anyone else.

I no longer want to internalize my anger... nor do I want to explode. But I think I do have to feel it, know when it's there, be aware of it and be okay with it before I can learn to control it, trust it and not allow it to build into something painful for me or anyone else.

Why am I so afraid to feel something so human? I may as well have some fun with it while I'm being so raw, shouldn't I?



 *giggle*

It's also been very enlightening to think about how I allow my children to handle their anger. I don't want to stifle their feelings. I want to teach them to trust their feelings too. Maybe there's something I can use to help....

Hey, how about....

GOOOOOOOSSSSSSFRAAAAABAAAAA.....

Have a great weekend my friends!


This is part 3 in a series exploring the emotion of Anger. Here's part 1, part 2, part 4 and part 5.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Reflections: Anger, part 2

I wrote yesterday that I'm feeling more anger these days than I was post-divorce. Maybe it's a less obvious kind of anger than the "well you SHOULD be angry because your marriage just ended."

It's more like the kind of anger that you notice when it seems like everyone else's lives are so perfect and beautiful.

Or the sort of anger you feel when someone is making choices that you'd prefer they didn't. Or someone is acting passive-aggressively instead of being friggin' honest with themselves.

Or the kind of anger you feel when your circumstances appear to suck no matter how hard you're trying to change them.

Then there's the kind of anger that comes from sheer exhaustion from being completely burnt out.

And even the kind of anger I know that *I* feel when recognize I am so damn angry!



I know that there is a plan of how things are supposed to work out. I know that everything happens for a reason and in its own time. I know that I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be. I know what I'm recognizing are all of the places I've yet to heal. I know that I'm learning my habitual patterns of over-doing/over-worrying/over-controlling for others. I know that I'm taking action to change the things I can, accept the things I can't and the wisdom to know the difference. Blah blah blah I KNOW!

 I just get so mad so easily now! Complete with foot stomping and pouting and screaming, "It's not fair!!!!" and a serious case of the if only's.....

Ya know, I guess I actually have felt this before. I do recall feeling this way, post divorce. I remember confessing to a friend that I was jealous of the fact that she was still married to a man who took care of her and took her on lavish vacations. What is that like??

Then I begin to beat myself up for whatever decisions I've made to get me where I am now. How did I let so much happen for so long? Yes, you heard me correctly. MORE anger. At myself.

I can actually name others too, that I think really bad thoughts about. Really REALLY bad thoughts.

I've never thought bad thoughts about people, y'all! That is not me

But apparently it is.

So then I get mad at me for thinking bad thoughts about others.

All of this rage and bad thoughts and ugly feelings are something I guess I have to allow and sit with. I don't like it, not one bit, but getting more angry at it doesn't make it go anywhere. I am extremely uncomfortable in this but I know allowing it will help it to dissipate.

In the Codependent No More book, the author makes some suggestions to a people-pleasing, self-sacrificing, pretending to be happy and good all the time, martyr like me who is experiencing this sort of (relatively new) anger:

  • Give yourself (and others) permission to feel it
  • Feel it... without judgment
  • Notice the thoughts that accompany the feeling
  • Look closely at the thoughts. Are they true?
  • What decisions can be made from the thoughts?
  • Don't give the anger (or fear) all of your energy
  • Burn off the anger energy
  • Write it out
  • Let go of the guilt

She also advises that because this anger is new (and to me it is big, ugly and scary), don't worry. Eventually I will settle down. Exercise would help. Writing it does. Awareness helps.

I miss my triathlon training. I would like a job that inspires me. I don't want to feel guilty anymore for writing this out in the blog... even when I'm afraid that the comments area will be crickets chirping and I'll read that as "T's gone crazy. I'm not touching that with a 10-foot pole." I'm working on releasing judgment.

I'm harshly judging myself for this because it's NEW to me. I don't want to be mad. A few weeks ago on this post, BLW suggested that I learn to stop striving for peace and allow myself to just be. Gentleman Jack has said the same thing.

I'm trying.

I'm TRYING.

But I'm forty-something years into a mask that felt really comfortable to wear. The mask didn't stir up anything, everyone was happy, people liked me... However I wasn't happy and that's obvious to me now. Taking off this mask to expose all of that feels so painful, ugly and difficult. I know peace is allowing what is. I KNOW all sorts of things.

Right now, however, I know I'm pissed. Just pissed in general. Unfortunately, the only way through this hell is to keep walking.

Life is good. I am grateful for the good. I can laugh and smile and enjoy my days... but underneath it all, I'm still learning to love me, however I'm feeling... deep down, underneath it all.

Continuing this conversation tomorrow. Thank you for your VERY enlightening comments!

This is part 2 in a series exploring the emotion of Anger. Here's part 1, part 3, part 4, and part 5.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Processing My World: Anger, Part 1

I've been struggling for the past week with what to share on this blog. I've had to remind myself... it's MY blog. I should share where I am right now, no matter what that looks like. But as we know, I've been a pleaser for years and certainly wouldn't want to come across as someone who's not a happy person.

In the general scheme of things, I actually am happy.

Comparatively speaking, however, I have more anger and rage right now at this time in my life than ever before.

I have to process this in my way. It may or may not win me any new friends or enlighten any readers but writing clears the slate. So here goes...

***

When I was separated and divorcing my husband, I felt a LOT of emotion. I was angry, resentful and even bitter at the circumstances. The big difference, from then to now, was that my only goal during my divorce was forgiveness.

That's when I began studying A Course in Miracles.

I didn't want to cause harm... because I knew the harm would be mine. I knew the harm would harm my children. I wanted to move beyond it. Forgive. I made an active choice to be happy.

Since Gentleman Jack has been in my life, I began to realize that much of my "choosing to be happy" was actually my denying when I was unhappy. He has been a great teacher to me by being so very honest about himself and so very intuitive about me. He challenges me, sometimes uncomfortably, to recognize what I actually DO want out of life.

Since we've been together, I've realized that I wanted to move beyond merely existing.

I don't want to just "go to work"... I want to LOVE WHAT I DO.

I don't want to just raise my children well. I want to OFFER THEM A FAMILY BEYOND BLOOD.

I don't want to just surround myself with lots of people that I feel continued pressure to please or take care of, while I seethe in silent resentment. I want to be RESPECTED, INSPIRED and UPLIFTED, while offering the same. I want to feel a sense of safety and trust with those I allow into my life. I wasn't feeling that security before and shut myself off from others when I was down.

Not all of these revelations are because of my man, however I am definitely more open and less frightened of the challenges than I was before.

Because of the tough love that has helped me to grow so much, I've felt no choice but to offer the same to those in my life. Not everyone appreciates tough love, I've learned. And I've begun to realize that I'm letting too much of what other people (even GJ) do control my fears, triggers, worries and peace. Tough love or not, I'm still allowing the actions of others to dictate my emotions.

That was when I began to recognize my own codependency. That's when I began reading Codependent No More. In that book, she writes about recognizing my own codependent traits and what sort of process it takes to move past it.

The process... involves anger.

Anger, at this point, is still occasionally resentment. Sometimes I wonder if it was even repressed anger that I kept hidden for so long. Even more often, my anger is directed at my own toxic reactions. I can own the reactions now, which is progress in itself, but I look forward to the day when I can remind myself that I am no longer affected by the past triggers or present actions of other people. I look forward to feeling a sense of safety in the now instead of fears from my past or attempts at anxious control of situations or people.

I will be writing more about this tomorrow. I hope you'll chime in.


This is part 1 in a series exploring the emotion of Anger. Here's part 2, part 3, part 4, and part 5.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Mid-Week Rant

I've been struggling with whether or not to write about this because I don't want to seem like I'm complaining. Especially when I do know there's another way to look at it. But I've noticed I'm feeling a particular undercurrent of irritation right now. So, following my own advice, I'm allowing myself an "angry day" and going to vent about something that, quite frankly, has been bothering me for some time.

Remember when I noted how busy I am?

Remember when I wrote about how I don't feel valued at work... and how a former employee doubted my drive?

Remember how I'm trying to remember just how valuable I am?

Oy, are you sick of hearing me bitch about it yet?

Let's go back to last week....

At work, the CEO offered me a new position. A great position. With a raise. (Finally.) But let's not forget that the expectation would be that I continue to do my old job (see "busy" post above) AND the new job. Another catch? I'd be expected to travel occasionally. (YAY! I love to travel!)

The even bigger catch? I'd have to get the OK from the ex-husband because he already travels 95% of the time.

*giant sigh*

I have primary custody of the kids. Which means that he'd have to bend his travel schedule here and there to meet me in the middle occasionally. I talked to him about this job and, though I mentioned I'd make more money, he is unable to change his job and travel schedule to meet the travel demands of this position.


Ok, how fortunate am I to have a responsible ex-husband who wishes to continue to hold down his job and pay child support and buy new clothes for the kids, etc? Very fortunate.

How irritated am I nonetheless? Completely. Outstandingly. Out of my mind. Pissed.


But wait.... there's more!

Before I had the travel discussion with my ex-husband, the CEO came into my office just to look at me. Over my computer monitor, I met his gaze with a "Ummmm... can I help you?" look on my face.

"You know if you take this job, you'll be onsite with people who'll think you're hot. That will make some people very nervous or uncomfortable. Surely there's something we can do to tone down your hotness to just attractive."

Wow. HOLY HELL. Are you kidding me?


Ok, how fortunate am I to have a job that keeps me employed, allows me some freedoms, and is close to my house? Extremely fortunate.

How irritated am I for being treated as fucking eye-candy? Completely. Outstandingly. Out of my mind. Pissed.


In both cases, I understand where they're coming from. Of course I do. I'm pretty damn good at seeing the other side of the story most of the time. But really?

Job or not. "Hot" or not. "Responsible ex-husband" or not. I'm so tired of feeling disrespected. I'm so tired of feeling like I'm always doing what I'm supposed to do, like it or not.

I love my kids. Not even a question. I just want to feel that I can provide more. I want to feel that I'm setting a great example, doing what I love, being respected for what I do.

I know I have to change my idea of what I'm capable of doing and remind myself that it doesn't have to involve travel. That's what I know, my background and what I feel has kept me from moving forward into another position elsewhere.

There are many perks for working where I work but my "perks" shouldn't be distracting the fucking CEO so that he feels like he can talk to me like that. (that's not even the half of it.) And I'm sure many will say "talk to HR!!!" but y'all I AM HR. We are a tiny company. No one can stop this behavior but me. I'm so tired of it.

As far as my ex-husband, he's doing what he knows. He is pretty comfortable in his lifestyle. And quite frankly, I love having my daughters most of the time.

I take full responsibility for these things in my life. I didn't have boundaries for a long time. I gave and gave for a long time. I'm not the same person anymore and this is why this is now an irritation. 

My goal is to do a job I love...which is another reason I'm so busy trying to build a side business. My goal is to make enough money that I'm okay when the child support payments stop, whenever they do. My goal is to be able to provide wonderful experiences for my daughters... without worry.

I will make it happen. Slowly but surely, as I learn to respect myself more and more, I will accept nothing less from others.

Thank you for listening.