I think about sex, a lot.
Mostly, I think of a lot of reasons why it ain't gonna happen tonight.
I can already feel it. I am bloated, my head hurts, I am feeling fat and I can't allow myself to enjoy any happiness until all of my chores are done, right?!
Then I feel guilty because I love my partner and love being intimate with him. I tell myself that if I was childless and wealthy to the point of not having to work I would have plenty of time and few distractions for having one kick ass sex life. However, I work full-time, am a parent, and am pulled in hundreds of directions a day. Too often I have to remind me that I am doing a crappy job of taking care of myself.
So what keeps us from connecting more often?
I think about being too tired for sex, and that I would really rather being sleeping. I think I have too much to do to slow down and have sex. I don't have time in my day for such things, when my to do list is a mile long and my laundry pile is as tall as I am, and I need to create a grocery list for the week. I get so mad a myself when I sink into my tub to relax or sit to meditate and my crazy monkey mind takes advantage of the inactivity to go into overdrive.
Sometimes I have to stop my mind from wandering to my mental to do list during a massage and I am always grateful when I can snap out of it and focus just on the touch. It is too easy to go on autopilot and miss the pleasure of just being touched.
My head does actually hurt too damn often. I should probably see my doctor about more nose spray and allergy meds to make this low level irritation stop.
My belly actually hurts and feels bloated and gassy. The thought of bumping bellies does not sound appealing. I should probably see my doctor about this too, or make those hard choices about my diet and the things that make my belly bloated and gassy.
I think about being too soft and fat. I think about my muffin top over my panties, which seem to be getting very tiny on my ever expanding ass. I think about how "things" are going to look from different angles.
I think about the kids walking in at any moment, and listen for them.
I can find tons of reasons to not have sex, but then I remember, I like sex. It feels very good. Equally important is that I need the connection with my partner.
I now know that sex is very important in a relationship. Making the time to physically connect is equally as important as making the time to verbally connect. I was reading an article by Judith Orloff where she states that too often "sex is often viewed more as a performance feat than a holy exchange."
It really needs to become a holy exchange between partners. Sex is the tending to and caring for each other that bonds us together. We have lost touch with what sex is supposed to create in our lives. Sex is what keeps couples together. Physical touch keeps couples connected. Mutual healthy sex means there are no barriers being put up between partners. Sex is meant to be a mutual escape and release.
Your partner not having sex with you is a big sign that there is a loss of connection in your relationship.
Everyone has days and nights when they are not in the mood. While it sucks to be the person asking for the sex and being told no, it is normal for couples to get out of sync from time to time. We all handle stress in different ways. Some people want sex to relieve the stress and to feel connected to someone. Some people don't want to be touched and want to be alone when they are stressed.
Some of us go back and forth between wanting sex and wanting to be alone.
However, Judith states that, "if these excuses become habitual and our erotic lives are suffering, it’s essential to examine our resistance to sex."
"We have to want to be sexy and keep passion alive in a relationship. When we’re tired, angry or if communication breaks down with a partner, passion is the first to go. Denial and apathy are the enemies of passion."
She list the Six Common Killers of Passion from her book The Ecstasy of Surrender:
I believe that on any given night you really can be too tired or not feel well, but I like her caution to examine how often excuses are given. I know that all six of these were part of the demise of my sex life with my ex husband. Tired, overwhelmed, finances, no connection, rushing, anger, loss of interest and time worked against us. I remember the courage it took to work my nerve up to allow it to happen. I cannot imagine how much anger he had built up after asking so many nights only to be told no.
Reality check, I don't like my ex, but this is me owning up to how crushing our sex life was to our marriage. I didn't understand how huge the gap was growing between us. I didn't understand how much pent up anger we were both accruing. I didn't know that each day the anger and resentment was allowed to go unvoiced and unheard that another brick was being mortared into the wall that would end our relationship.
We grew so far apart that negotiating the possibility of sex always seemed like a huge battle. If he wanted it and I didn't, he grew bitter. If I wanted it after not having it with him in months, he was mean and made me pay for hurting him.
I was not aware of how much your sex life says about the state of your marriage.
Without getting into how often a couple should have sex, a couple that is able to, should be having sex on a regular basis if they want their relationship to last and grow. This needs to be a discussion between the two of you. It is very easy to think that your partners needs are being met, when in fact they aren't.
I don't think most of us want to reject our partner. I don't think we keep track of when we last had sex and think, damn my partner must think I don't want them anymore. But your partner probably does think you don't want them, or that they aren't a good lover, or that you don't find them attractive. Don't let them hurt in silence, ask them. Grab a blanket and coffee and meet outside on the porch or deck one morning to connect and talk.
These are not conversations for the bedroom or the end of the day.
Ask your partner if they are happy with your sex life. Ask them if they want more or less or different. Use this time to make a non-sexual connection with your partner.
If you haven't had sex in a while, know that building this connection is really important and will take time. It is too awkward to start having sex after not having it for a while, like really awkward.
If your relationship has lost sex, there are lots of good web sites and counselors to help you be able to trust and touch again. For couples that have not touched in a while, it takes some non-sexual touch over a course of time to build back up to a place where a sexual touch can be initiated and welcomed again.
I know people don't like the idea of scheduling sex, but if you don't make it important in your life, it will not happen. Waiting for the perfect conditions to exist will not happen. Relationships die long before life presents you with perfect circumstances. Relationships die very fast. You are no more busy than anyone else. You are given the same number of hours a day as everyone else on this planet. If you work out, you schedule your gym trips and what area you will be working on. So if Monday & Thursday is back and bi day, make Wednesday & Saturday Anahata (heart) & Sacral (sex) Chakra workout day on the calendar!
Sex and exercise are the two items we drop first, because they are self care items and we seem wired to take care of everyone and everything at the expense of our own well being. Tv, internet, social media, email and household chores all get prioritized higher than physically connecting with our partner. That is very sad. So if you don't want to schedule it, don't want to talk about it, don't want to change, well then you don't like the idea of being responsible for your own happiness and you don't care enough about your partner's happiness. So don't schedule time together or sex, dumb-ass. Just keep sitting in your lonely recliner watching life pass you by!
When I find myself getting lost doing too much for the world and not enough for me, I have to remind myself that I want a happy & sexual relationship. I will do whatever it takes to create the time and mood to connect physically with my partner. I can't always make it magical and special, but I always find the time needed to connect physically. Sometimes it has to be quick and quiet and under the covers, but I have to make sex work around real life.
Being divorced and sharing custody of my children means I have child free nights. Child free nights allows me to use that time to connect with my partner in a non rushed way. We try and make up for the hurried moments during the weeks when we have children home by blocking out time for dinners, conversations, and getting into bed early on the nights when we are alone. Priorities and scheduling make sure we use our child free time wisely otherwise it is too easy to piss away an evening in front of the tv or on the internet.
I really believe that if in your marriage you could figure out how to have regular child free time, that many of us would take better care of our marriages. It is too easy to get lost in those parenting days and think that you will find the time and energy to connect after the kids get older. Then the kids get older and quickly leave the house and you have allowed so much time to pass that it is like peering across the Grand Canyon looking for your partner. With technology, it is too easy to find a new partner, rather than start the long ass journey to rekindle with your existing partner.
Waiting for your kids to grow up before you reignite that sexual fire will create a very lonely, disconnected mess that is too big for most of us to want to tackle after years or a decade of neglect and anger. You cannot afford to wait. So many marriages end when our kids are still in the house because we think we can wait, but then we find other people to connect with. 18 years is a long ass time to wait to feel alive and wanted and valued again. It is too easy to meet and connect with other lonely people. It is way too easy for that seemingly innocent connection to turn in to divorce.
If your kids are small, hire a babysitter if for nothing else than to escape together. Get a baby monitor and close the damn door. Those are hard years, but if you value your marriage, make sex happen. Create a baby sitting round robin with friends so you can drop your kids off at a friends for three hours and run back home and have time to ease into grown-up time.
If you kids are teens, you really can't use them as an excuse any more. If you can leave them at home while you run to buy groceries, you can leave them at home while you and your partner escape for an evening every month or two. Take advantage of teens love of staying in their rooms and scheduled bedtimes.
What really sucks is when you allow this connection to be lost between partners and you don't have any children to blame it on. Having children & focusing solely on them is an easy seemingly acceptable excuse for the demise of your relationship. Not having those sweet little distractions and allowing your relationship to erode will get you the big eye roll from your parent friends.
I can't say it enough, make the time, schedule the time, make the connection before your relationship is so damaged that it cannot be repaired. Make your relationship a priority before your partner looks elsewhere for the attention and connection all humans need.
Exhaustion: If you are too tired most nights, get up a little earlier on a day off and have sex in the morning. I love this idea, but sometimes my bladder is too full. Potty breaks may be needed, but don't let exhaustion be your go to excuse. I personally am not a fan of being woken up, but I have yet to meet a man who isn't thrilled about being woken up for sex.
Anyhow, the idea is figure it out. Stop being exhausted. This is important.
Not communicating your needs: This is a tough one. If you are in a relationship and cannot express your needs and desires, examine why you are in the relationship. If it just shyness and awkwardness in discussing sex in general, plan a long car trip or hike where you can be side by side, but not looking directly at each other. I learned that from Arielle Ford during her Art of Love Relationship series. If you just can't say the words, write them and share them with your partner.
Too many partners are punished for not being able to read their partners mind. We have to accept that this is not fair and will never get you what you want. Focus on the goal of happy connected sex, not punishment.
Losing interest: This is a heart breaker. Too much distance has been allowed to exist for too long. Too many words not shared or too many hurtful, hateful words have been shared. No one loses interest in connection and touch, they only lose interest in connection and touch with you. They will find interest in someone else if you allow it to happen. Can you rebuild a relationship after an affair? Some people can, but we all know that most of us don't. Take the steps now to affair proof your marriage. There are lots of good books and websites that offer tips for affair proofing your relationship. Start the conversation now!
Rushing: I am a parent and I know that rushing is all we have for long periods of time while we are parents, but it is our responsibility to create time to not rush. As I grow older, I need more time to get my head out of the game and relaxing. My mind has become quite the task master and will grab hold of any down time to fill it with creating a to do list or for simmering over stress, worry and anxiety. I need a little slow dancing, bath time, a glass of wine, or a walk to disconnect my brain from "go" to relax. Remember when making out could fill an entire evening? If not, you need to spend an entire evening making out with your partner. Some of us respond very well to the art of not rushing!
Lack of creativity or boredom: This needs to be a conversation.
If you and your day is boring and lacking in creativity, why would you think that somehow your sex is going to be fabulous and creative?
Go slow and easy into this one so feelings don't get hurt. Get books that include sexual and non-sexual connection. Get creative outside of the bedroom. Having sex at the end of the day is about so much more than the physical act. Having sex at the end of the day is because of the hundreds of little things said and done starting before you get to work in the morning. Emails, texts, hugs, kisses, notes, compliments, shared meals, conversations, and eye contact create the special elixir that makes falling into bed together magic.
Even if falling into bed only leads to curling up together, the connection has been made.
Repressed anger and hostilities: We all know this feeling. The only way to make it go away is to talk to your partner. Reread the above paragraph on communicating your needs. There is no other way. You either do it now or during your costly divorce.
If things have progressed to this point, find a counselor, immediately. Have someone help you reconnect. Be specific in what outcome you want when talking to a professional. "We" want a safe way to express all of the old baggage and anger. We want tools to help us learn to talk to one another and not hold our disappointment and anger in. We aren't interested in determining who is the shittier partner. We love each other and want to fix what we have allowed to wither. If either partner starts feeling picked on, you need to regroup and possibly find another counselor. Visit several before choosing. Get books, schedule weekly time to connect and talk with your partner. Listen without responding with rebuttal. Remember you want to fix your relationship, not win a war. You can't be right and them be wrong and create a loving connection.
We all need physical touch. We all need connection. Your partner is no exception, neither are you.
Your goal is to be naked and enjoying ecstasy with your partner!
Link to the article:
http://www.elephantjournal.com/2014/10/6-common-killers-of-passion/ Judith Orloff on Oct 15, 2014 Elephant Journal
I love the idea of "becoming" instead of a mid life crisis.
I am in the process of becoming. It started right on schedule prior to my 40th birthday. As much as I like to fault my body for failing me and falling apart, I need to admit that I am a well oiled machine.
I adamantly did not want to have children or be a mother until about 4 months into being twenty-eight years old. My biological clock went from ticking to tocking to gonging to full on glocking like the Munich Glockenspiel, with music, dancing and spinning! Within two months, I was pregnant.
Right before 40, I realized I had neglected my body during my mommy haze. I started walking, then I started very slow running. As things started to thin out, I added weights to add strength & definition to my emerging Goddessness!! You can do an awful lot of thinking when you are out running.
I started reading again in the evening instead of vegging out to tv. Suddenly my mind was filled with new ideas and thoughts and I went searching for people of like minds (or at least people who don't choose to turn every conversation into a debate) to share my new knowledge with and to learn from. Then miraculously, I figured out how to run at a very slow pace and talk to people.
I was very, very happy for a while with this new ability. I started running with friends several times a week. I was blossoming and becoming. It was glorious!
Then I realized that my becoming was not conducive to my marriage.
He didn't want to continue to "become". He was done with becoming and was happy with how he had turned out. I believe that "becoming" is an on-going process, that it does not stop, that we repeat this process every decade or so because we have to and because we want to.
I believe that you can stop at any point on a path, no matter how far you have gone and how long it has taken you, and change direction. I believe that it is important to stop from time to time and really look around to see if you are happy, to see if you are where you thought you'd be, to see if you still even want what started you on this exact path months or years ago.
I believe that when we stop and listen, we get either the confirmation to continue on or the nagging, pit of the gut feeling that signifies that we are not happy.
I also didn't view failure the same as he did.
We tried, and then we didn't try, but in the end it was clear that I didn't want to be required to stay the same person he felt he had known for 17 years. I didn't feel required to stay the same. I didn't feel I was changing as much as remembering who I was. I am not sure we ever truly knew it each as it came as such an awful surprise that we wanted such different journeys.
So, long story short (for once), I stopped on my marriage path, listened with my heart and soul and came to the conclusion that I needed to take a different path to continue blossoming into my most full Goddessness and to live the life that I was dreaming of. I realized that I needed the wide open space to grown unencumbered and without having to defend or debate my choices and thoughts.
I think some people can continue to "become" and stay in their existing relationships, but I think that it requires both people to have interest in continuing to move forward in life, in learning new things not only about the world, but about themselves. Not everyone in this world is interested in evolving and personal growth and that is ok, unless you are married to them.
I believe it is worth trying to drag them along for a period of time to see if they are just hesitant, which is very human. Few people actively embrace change. Most of us need a very personal reason to willingly change.
If after dragging and pulling and including, they still don't want to come with you, then you need to stop and get quiet and figure out if you feel you can continue "becoming" on your own, but tied to them. I have seen this happen and with the right person, they will watch you become and love you through every step. Love is funny like that. You meet those couples who seem so different with seemingly nothing in common, but some very strong love, respect and admiration. It is rare and bewildering to watch, but I do believe in this very special kind of love.
If after dragging and pulling and including, they still don't want to come with you, and they are asking and pleading or demanding you to stop becoming, then you have choices to make.
I wanted to find and live forever with my prince charming. Then at the time of my becoming, I realized that I don't believe that everyone meets that one person and stays with them forever. Maybe some people are only supposed to be in your life for a while, for a portion of your journey.
Maybe people who start "becoming" way earlier in life are better prepared to find someone they can stay with forever. I remembered who I was going to become when I was a child, but I was too scared to take the chances. I didn't stop and listen, I was too busy rushing and living. I let life happen to me instead of trying my hand at creating. I was so scared and I put off "becoming" for fear that I would fail.
Now I know you can't fail at becoming, there is no way to fail at being you because "once you become Real, you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand." And people who don't understand, can't matter.
If you stay on your journey to "becoming" you will meet people who are well worn, loose jointed and shabby chic'd, introduce yourself, as this is your tribe!
There is a huge chance I will be seeing my ex husband today. The thought of this makes me hold my breath.
We have Parent Teacher Conferences. We attend these separately, but as these are group settings that 20 or so parents share a time slot, there is a chance that we will be in the same group slot, but not together. These are horrible moments to share as I will one day share. Today, I can't go down that rabbit hole.
These moments are always so difficult for me because I have to do a great deal of inner work to stay focused and present when I am around him.
On the way to work today, my Angels gave me my mantra or focus point for my interactions with him by having the radio station play "Hey Jude," by the Beatles.
I know the words to most of the Beatles songs, but they are not a group that I choose to listen to. Today, for the first time my heart listened to this song. It is our song, mine and my ex's.
He didn't let me into his heart and that pretty much sums up why we are divorced.
From here forward, I will let the words of this song play in my heart when I have to be around him. I will take deep breaths and pray for him to open his heart to someone. I do wish happiness and love for him.
"Love everyone. Trust Few. Paddle your own canoe." Anonymous page 149 The Fire Starter Sessions by Danielle LaPorte
If, like me, you are a fixer of things, people, relationships, and families, then I am going to tell you that the best way to fix everyone else is to mind your own damn business. Literally accept that you are not a fixer, you are a follower. To all of my fixer friends and myself this is some heavy crap to hear. I didn't fix shit, for anybody. I coped. I avoided. I juggled. I hid. I kept out of the way. I triage'd the hell out things. I made excuses. I reacted. I played small.
I did everything but fix. I had an illusion of control that gave me comfort in my world of chaos, but I was never in control. I did everything I could except the one thing that was in my power, which was to leave. I taught my children the dance of abuse and power and dominance rather than risk leaving and fixing my own broken self.
I am a control freak. I have lived so long in chaos, uncertainty, and fear that I crave routine and stability. I do not see wanting to be in control as bad. What sucks is when you come to terms with the fact that while you are presenting a front of wanting control, you aren't doing anything to take control. You aren't using logic or love. You are caught up in the whirl wind of the moment and doing nothing but trying to keep everyone together.
The most difficult lesson I am learning this life time is that I am the only person I can control. I cannot control my ex-husband. I cannot control my children. I cannot control my father. And really I am not all to great at controlling myself. It is way easier for me to jump into the storm with someone else and live in craziness than for me to give them a hug and say, "This is not the life I was put here to live. Thank you for the awesome views from the cyclone, but I am going to let you get back to your insanity."
I can be a good mother, friend, lover, and daughter, but I am only in control of me. I have to accept everyone else as they present themselves and decide how much of their journey I can be a part of and stay true to myself.
I am taking baby steps into A Course In Miracles through various books written about the course and feel in total alignment with the two main concepts I have been working on. #1. Love everyone. We are all God's children and he loves us all. Stop the judging, because you cannot begin to remember (yet) what you were sent here to live through and do. Just love everyone. Send love to everyone. Accept everyone is doing their best. #2. Forgive everyone. Stop choosing to carry the yesterday with you into the future. Forgive and move on. Stop drinking the poison and shed the ugly.
In Brene Brown's The Gifts of Imperfection, she speaks of if you are lucky, you have a small handful of people you can share your truth with. She even tells you how to spot the people to stop telling your truth to. I agree that if you are lucky, you find that you have maybe 5 people tops that you can share your whole story too. 5 people who you can say anything to without any worry of their response. I am finding that in my handful of people, there are things that the common ground I have with them allows me to share stuff that I cannot utter around another soul.
Think of the ugliest, darkest, most private part of your being. Don't say it out loud, but think about it. Feel the shame rise up your cheeks and feel your face get hot. Who can you call to share this with? If you do not have one person who you can call, get this book and read it. You have to find your person. You have to make this connection. Your life will be so much greater if you do.
It truly does damage to your soul when you share with people who aren't your safe people. In mere seconds, they can inflict so much unnecessary damage. This is a brilliant book for settling into your own skin, loving and accepting yourself and hugging your big ole shame monster and making him feel welcome at the dinner table.
I also believe that it is best to share slowly. Test the water. Then
"The first time someone shows themselves to you, believe them." Maya Angelou
Believe them. There is no reason not to and you have your own damn life to get back to living. Don't try to fix them and show them they are better than they see themselves. Thank them and move on. Don't get sidetracked on a new people cyclone from hell. Save your friendship for those, who over time, show their worthiness at being a friend.
"It's not about withholding. The withholding posture in any kind of relationship is just nasty and manipulative. Leave that for kidnappers and ransomers. Rather, incremental commitment is about being responsive to reality." page 150
Paddle Your Own Canoe
Some of the best advise my dad ever gave me was to have the key to your own house. It seemed very cool and grown up when I moved into my own apartment and didn't have a roommate. I loved living by myself and like many who live on their own, I spent my time reading, puttering around, and watching tv. It was the most fabulous year and a half of my life. I could sit and read an entire book cover to cover under my covers in my pj's. I could watch back to back foreign films reading subtitles. I could eat mac & cheese as a whole, complete meal.
It has taken me two decades since then to really understand what my dad was trying to tell me. While not having a roommate is still very awesome for the same reasons as it was when I was 20, at 43 it means focus on my self.
Paddle your own canoe, don't sit back, staring up at the clouds and wake up 10 years into the future and not have a freakin clue where you are or how you got there. It sucks when you hear that someone is not happy with their life. How could anyone be happy if they passively sit back not actively moving themselves toward their goals and happiness?
It seems that while I have always considered myself a master fixer, the truth is I am so very comfortable letting someone else paddle my canoe. I am very comfortable going along with the current and someone else's dream. Helping someone else reach their goals is so much easier than attempting my own. It is so much easier to see the faults and mistakes of someone who is actually trying to reach their goals than to risk starting on your own path.
It is easier to stay busy and help than to sit quietly and figure out what you really want. It is also way easier to just go along than to start the argument that you are not enjoying the trip, that the canoe is making your butt hurt and after looking at your own personal compass that you, mid trip have figured out that you are going in the wrong damn direction.
It is way easier to be a "fixer" than to be a "doer".
It is way hard to be in charge of your own life. To actively make decisions, good or bad and too keep moving forward.
It is so easy to leave one relationship and replace it with another of the same "need fixing" sort. It is really hard not to look for distraction. But remember, that if you could not fix the last one (or 5) and have found yourself alone, your whole life in a big heap on the floor. This is your chance to fix you. You are the common denominator in the parts of your life that aren't working. Time to see what being a fixer really entails.
Step 1: Identify the problem.
Step 2: Identify some possible solutions to fix the problem.
Step 3: Collect the tools and items required to fix the problem.
Step 4: Create a written plan.
Step 5: Have it reviewed by either your trusted few or a professional.
Step 6: Do it. Actually fix it.
Anything else is avoidance. Anything else is sitting on the side lines and choosing to let someone else be in control of your life. Anything else is choosing not to live your best life. Anything else is you saying to the world, I am not worthy or deserving.
I was not in charge of most of the first 43 years of life. I went along, smoothed things out, prepped for the next fire and white knucked us all together in some true insanity. In making the selfish choice to divorce, I took the hard steps to start this process. I am not kidding when I state that I have to remind myself daily to paddle my own damn canoe. It is way to easy for me to get sidetracked "helping" someone else. It is terribly difficult to carve out the time and resources to help yourself.
But every couple of days when I start to feel out of sorts and cannot figure out why, I realize that I am not not actively participating in my life. The feeling "out of sorts" is my reminder to take stock of what I am currently doing that is in alignment with me and my goals.
Self-care is the topic of another day.
"Love everyone. Trust Few. Paddle your own canoe." Anonymous
I have given my mom a bad rap for decades. She was the focus of my anger that my life was so fucked up. She was obviously supposed to be the damn grown up of the two of them.
Having had to make some difficult choices myself over the past few years, I finally found a place in my heart where I could see her again through my own eyes as a mother. I am blessed life has smacked the shit out of me enough to allow the hole in my heart (& head) to open and really accept her love back into my life. I am very grateful to have reached a place in my life where I am meeting my mom as a grown up and not as an angry teenager.
It has taken most of my life, but now that I am here, it feels really freakin wonderful. Now that I can look back without so much pain and anger. Now that I am learning about emotional pathology I have so many more questions and thoughts about what we share as women.
Here are the ones I needed to get out today:
I think my mom grew up thinking she was going to do something with her life. I wonder if she, like me felt destined for something big?
I wonder who stole that from her?
She was growing up in a time when women started working outside the home. I think she wanted to be something so she could show everyone she was worth it and worthy. I think, like me, she wanted to prove she was enough.
I also think she wanted out of her house and out of that little town.
I don't know what she saw in my dad. From time to time I have known him to be a big dreamer. There is an allure to being with a dreamer & buying into their plan.
I do believe that he was drunk when he proposed to my mom. As this didn't end up being a deal breaker with her, I have to assume she thought she could fix him. Lately, I have begun to wonder how bad her life must have been that my dad looked like the answer to a prayer.
She got pregnant very early in their marriage. They were married Aug. 1, 1970 and I was born Aug. 12, 1971. I feel like she blamed me for keeping her from getting to see the world and get a job and start her life. In some of her worst parenting moments she hurled ugliness to me that she wished I hadn't been born.
I do not think all of us are made for parenting. For far too long I was very pissed that I got two selfish & damaged parents, but then I became a parent and learned how very hard it is to juggle being my own person, being a wife and being a mother. It is exceptionally hard to juggle when you find you do not like one or more of the balls you are juggling. There just isn't enough time to fix your own shit, let alone your spouse's.
How many times in her 20 year marriage did she try to fix her marriage? How many times did she try to just focus on saving herself. When the hell did she carve out time to recharge? How many times did she just want to give up? Just what the hell did she envision old age with him was going to be like? Why didn't she leave him? or did she & I just don't know?
Many days my head is full of questions I want to ask her. I am writing them down in hope of finding time to get to know her, really know her, like I do my girlfriends.
I am very blessed she is alive and hoping she will help me understand who she is.
Most of you don't know me as a Christian. Many of you know that I haven't gone to church since I was 14, nor do I plan to. I need the safety of my own mind for another decade or two, or three. I do however greatly miss the music.
We had a rough car ride to school this morning. My daughter chose not to eat breakfast since I wanted to limit the number of Girl Scout cookies she could have for breakfast. Mind you there is oatmeal packets, cinnamon rolls, pop tarts, cereal, frozen chocolate chip waffles, eggs, tortillas for quesadillas, cheese sticks, peanut butter & toast. I am listing everything off to ease my mom guilt for letting her go to school on an empty stomach. About 10 minutes into the car ride she asks if I can take her to Starbucks. As we had this conversation at home earlier, I reminded her the answer was "no". She then proceeded in a very sweet & weak voice to let me know in advance she was very sorry if she barfed all over my car. I told her I felt very bad for her in a similar sweet & weak voice. These morning power struggles always make me weary and are so difficult for me to shake off. Today was no exception. I did not make eye contact in the mirror, nor did I initiate any further conversation so it wouldn't escalate into a pissing contest. Massive guilt swarmed me. I try to make my kids happy. However, some days it becomes very clear that I am reaping what I have sown. Catering to their needs and whims is tiring.
We made it to school and while she had to take extra time and effort to get her physical body and school supplies out of the car, she was able to find the strength to get out of the car. She also waved at me twice before entering school. I exhaled. The day stood a chance at being ok. As I was pulling out to head down to work, a song popped into my head. Totally weird and random, but completely normal for me and my angels, now that I listen for them.
To many of you, it is going to seem that I am born again. I am not. I am just settling into my power again where I can relax and believe and explore and breathe again.
My family and my faith were mocked by my husband for our entire marriage, 16 years. This was done openly in front of my children. He doesn't believe, he is a man of science. That is how his children would be raised. He didn't want me to teach our children about God, but I did.
Slowly & quietly along side of Greek fables, children's stories about the Buddha and other classic literature.
Because my ex was absent four to five days a week, I was able to help my son through his Protestant Merit Badge in Cub Scouts without protest. It brought me so much happiness to teach my son about God and share with him the stories of how to be a good person. My son loves reading and loved the bible studies in the workbook. For a while he even borrowed my bible for a time to read on his own. I didn't present it as anything other than a historical collection of stories.
It is fascinating to learn about learned hate and prejudice. Children don't come in to this world with hate and prejudice in their hearts, this is a learned skill, passed down by parents and trusted adults.
For most of the past 3 years of divorce, my son has also opening mocked people of faith. It was hard to hear and hurt my heart to hear him parrot so much of his father's belief's. While I don't feel organized religion is right for me, I want my children to understand there are bad people in walks of life and faiths. Bad people do bad things in the name of religion, they always have.
My daughter has more of her own mind in this area. I believe she has a very strong connection with spirit. She is very receptive to prayer and community.
I have tried to show my faith, more than speak of it for the past two years. I have a strong community of women who share their families with mine. I try to make sure they see us caring for our friends and neighbors in their times of need and lending our prayers and good thoughts to them too. I make them aware of the tribe of people who have taken time out of their busy lives to help us over the past few years as I have struggled to make ends meet. I try to let them know daily how blessed I feel and specifically why. I want them to be able to find something, everyday to recognize as a blessing.
I want them to know about service as more than anything as I believe that service is where our lives come alive. Service provides us opportunities to find out passion and connect.
While I do not ask them to participate in my daily spiritual practice, both of them sit with me in the mornings throughout the week and watch me read, meditate, write and pray. They ask questions and enjoy the calm of the quiet time with me. On weekend, this time has the added benefit of snuggle time too!
While it is understood in my divorce process, that I cannot, on my own start taking the children to church or force religion upon them. I can allow them to see me and my practice everyday I have them. Initially this restriction pissed me off, but then I realized the blessing in showing through my daily life, how these tools help me cope and flex and stand strong in the face of the harshest of tornado's. Every day I have something thrown at me that I am not prepared for. New bills, unexpected bills, regular old bills, school items needed, scout items needed, a quick one, two punch comment from their dad or from my kids in their dad's voice.
While my daily practice is ever changing due to my stress level, it has been a constant in my life since January. I just couldn't take one more day of stress. Stress and illness took me back down to my knees.
This is one of my favorite Oprah stories. It is one of my favorite songs.
This year one of the many struggles I have had to focus on is surrender.
This is way harder than people make it seem. Every day I have to remember to surrender my wants, fears, desires and needs. They are too heavy for me to lug around with all that I have to accomplish each day. I have asked and am daily doing the work that keeps me moving forward.
I know I will receive all that I want because I am actively pursuing my passion.
God can only do for you what God can do through you. Iyanla Vanzat Peace from Broken Pieces page 102
"I realized that I had suffered through many indignities rather than ask for what I needed or wanted, out of fear that if the person got upset, I could get hurt. it was a pattern I learned as a child. It was an ingredient in my pathology. It was, I believe, the reason I stayed for nine years in that physically abusive marriage."
"In medicine, pathology is the study of the causes of disease. In human life, pathology is the disease; the stuff going on beneath the surface, handed down or passed on to you, the family stuff that you can see and feel even though no one ever talks about it." page 24
While my marriage was not physically abusive, it was emotionally abusive and I stayed for 16 years because I didn't recognize that I was continuing to allow myself to be hurt. My pathology was that I was not good enough and thereby didn't deserve happiness or ease.
"...but the mental conditioning about the person I was created a lasting impression. The principle of cause and effect meant if it was happening to me, I somehow caused it. When people treated me badly, somehow I deserved it." page 65-66
I have spent most of my life feeling I deserved to be treated as less. That I wasn't smart enough. I felt I was flawed. I was told I was difficult. That I was too emotional. That I could'n't make a decision. That I made things harder than they needed to be. I grew to believe that every bad thing that happened in my life was my fault. My fault either through my choices or my inaction. This was the expressed opinion of my second husband who was the smartest and most well read man I ever knew. He was another person confirming my worst fear, that I was not good enough.
"Neglect. Physical, emotional, and psychological neglect cripples more children than any hip-hop line notes ever written. It is a form of passive abuse when a person responsible for a child's care and upbringing fails to safeguard the child's emotional and physical well-being." page 66
When you make it to adulthood alive, you tell yourself that you won't end up like your parents. I remember my dad actually telling me when I turned 25 that he never really believed I would live that long.
You won't do to your children, what was done to you. I was 28 years old before I allowed myself to accept that I did want children. The lie I had been telling myself was out of fear that I would end up hurting and neglecting my own children. For most of my teens and twenties, I told myself that the only way to not continue the cycle was not to have children. The cycle ends with me.
It came as quite a surprise when I told my husband of 5 years that while I had told him at 22 that I adamantly did not want children, I had changed my mind. This became a bit of a problem as he was 10 years older than me and already had a child from a previous marriage. He did not want to be that old dad who was like 75 at his kids high school graduation, so he gave me a deal and a deadline; I could have as many children as I could before he turned 40. Two years to have as many children as I could. I had to stop nursing our first child shortly before his first birthday to allow my body to cycle once so I could get pregnant as quickly as possible. I delivered our second child, 58 days before he turned 40!
Then began my love affair with my children.
After giving birth to my second child, I gave my notice at work and became a stay at home mom, then home school mom, who was very devoted to loving and paying attention to my children. I enjoyed my days playing with them, reading to them, listening to their stories of what they were playing or what they were building. I couldn't stop watching them. They were the coolest, neatest little people ever. I didn't know it then, but I also spent my nights protecting them with my very presence. I was and am afraid of things that happen at night. (In some later post, I will address my nocturnal wanderings to verify my children are alone and safe and in their beds peacefully sleeping.) Nothing bad would happen to them if I was there. With every fiber of my body, I wanted them to know they mattered and were plenty good enough.
While this act of looking back and sorting through memories and feelings is hard work and puts me on a roller coaster emotionally, it feels so good to have some of the pieces falling into place in my mind. Each piece that fits into it's place is a little bit more of the fog lifted. Even when the images and feelings are not pretty or happy, just having another puzzle piece fit, it helps me see where I came from.
"I was a neglected child. There was a persistent and consistent ignoring of my need for nurturing, encouragement, education and protection." page 67
I am a child of neglect. I did not feel wanted. I grew up feeling unloved and unloveable. I didn't feel seen, valued or worthy.
My parents were a disaster when they were sober and completely dysfunctional when they were drunk. I remember a few snapshots in my head when my dad was laughing or smiling, but not a lot of them. I remember him singing.
I don't remember my mom being happy except for when she came to my school dressed up as a clown or witch or when she cooked. I also remember her smiling when she watched her shows; Fantasy Island and Hart to Hart. I remember sitting next to her or on her bed while she did her hair and make up in the morning watching tv with her. She had a whole dresser of girl stuff; make up, mirrors, tweezers, hot rollers and hairspray & perfume. She had an awful (and comforting) way of humming and singing the little bits of songs she remembers over and over again while she got made up.
For the most part, however I felt like I was a "problem that needed to be fixed" a "burden to be endured" and a "responsibility to be ignored." page 67
I remember hating my parents. I remember feeling such guilt wishing they would die. I held a fantasy that if they did die, then I would be adopted by a loving family who wanted a daughter. I remember praying they would stop drinking. I remember praying they would love me. I remember feeling very guilty for wanting more than the shitty hand I had been dealt.
"I can also say that I was almost 30 years old before I realized that I was insane, and 50 years old when I actually became sane. I spent 20 years discovering patterns and solving the puzzles that I inherited. Today, I understand that each of my family members contributed to my soul's purpose. It didn't feel good back then, nor did I know it until much later, but who I am is a function of who they were in my life. I realize that my story, my history, was a divine set up to usher me into who I would become." page 67
I have felt slightly insane for the past 15 years trying to deal with all of the emotions and pain being a mother has brought into my life. My children have brought forth all of my fears and worries and memories. Some of my fear and worry has been replaced with calm as I accept that as I learn better, I do better. But I have put a great deal of pressure on myself to do better than my parents did. When you wait until you are in your late 20's and make a conscious decision to bring a child into the world, you can't fuck up. I have felt so much pressure to always do the right thing by my children. To guide them, to urge them, to protect them and to accept them as they are and in their own time.
A big part of the pressure is that I didn't have a good example to turn to.
"I remember confiding my pain and devastation to a friend the first time I broke up with the man who would become my third husband. She tried her best to help me pull myself together. In the midst of our conversation she asked me, "What would your mother say to you? What did she tell you about how to make it through a broken heart." "I realized that not one of the women in my life had ever talked to me about anything I would face as a woman. I had learned about my menstrual cycle from a friend the day it started. No one ever talked to me about boyfriends or for the matter , how to be a friend. I got no instruction at all about my body, my mind or my heart." page 53
I didn't have heart to heart talks with my mom or dad. They didn't prepare me for life at all. Instead, most of what I have learned or read about parenting and relationships was recommended on Oprah or Dr. Phil's show (until 4 years ago when I stopped being able to afford cable tv.). I am grateful that I had a dvr and could wait until my little darlings went down for a nap or to sleep each night and I could steal time to learn to be better.
Now I am blessed to have created a family of women to help guide me through some of life's milestones. I am part of a family of women who share the hard earned wisdom of surviving. I am getting the instruction now on how to be a woman and a grown up. It is interesting when my "not normal" runs into this circle of women. It is fabulous to have a reality check that I am good enough and deserving. It has reinforced in my mind and heart that as parents we must always say the words. Our children may not choose to hear them, believe or accept them, but we must say the words to them. You are a blessing to me. You are strong, capable, smart, caring, worthy, loveable, needed, and a good friend.
I am finding comfort in fitting my broken bits & pieces together and then being able to sit back and realize how brilliantly "textbook" my pathology is. The anger I carried around at my mother's distance and anger and drinking is gone. Replaced with such an overwhelming sense of peace as I come to understand her role in my life. Because of the work she has allowed me to force us to do over the years, I have been able to understand where she came from and why she didn't have more to give me than she did.
The desperate feeling of wanting my father's love & attention is disappearing. I spent so much of my life focused on my anger with my mother, that I didn't see how badly my relationships with men were shaped by my drunk and emotionally & physically absent father. I was a daddy's girl.
I remember hearing from my maternal Grandmother, that my mom was too.