Love and Money as Addictions

I had a conversation once where a man compared love and money as addictions.  He seemed to love and hate both and wanted to know my perspective.

I actually see this a lot when dating.  It’s when I really tease out what is important to a person.  Having gotten through not having anything when my husband abandoned me, I’ve learned to appreciate simple things like sunsets.  I’ve also learned to take care of my own material wants.  I treat myself very well. When dating, I can sense when a person’s self valuation only relies on material things.  This doesn’t usually lead to a second date.

I am more than what I possess and without owning who I am, I would own nothing.

Money can be an addiction.  He said this.  I can see it, but I have a hard time feeling it. I can always explore the concept though. My Target and Sears wardrobe sensibilities can use the stretch and imagine more, right? I love my Mom style even if my niece thinks I dress like an old woman.  (Yes, it’s okay to laugh with me.) It really is a stretch though.  My wedding, rings and honeymoon were all under $500 and I was happy with it.  I don’t buy designer clothes, but I love those days when my sisters clean out their closets.  I’m just not that person.  I love beach days and museum trips.  Dreaming big has always been a budget to hire someone else to clean up after my family and maybe weekend trips here and there.  Otherwise, I’m happy to find serenity in my surroundings and wonder in a sunset. I don’t see myself as materialistic.

If I were to give into my every whim, I’m sure Pandora would see me more often and I’ve have several charm bracelets and so would Victoria’s Secret.  Fresh flowers would probably be a weekly thing instead of moments when I walk past a bouquet that sings to me.

I imagined a life of immense wealth.  I imagined the responsibility to my family and extended family.  I saw questioning every relationship for the motives behind it.  I didn’t want that.  There’s a cost to that life and I’m not sure I would want that responsibility.

Even before I had to figure out survival and starting a career, I decided I didn’t want to live to make money.  I wanted my work to be something that flowed but never controlled my choices.  But I get it.

There are more things to do and experience and it often requires cash.  It can mean status and opportunity.  No matter how hard you work or how carefully you save, you can always be content in having more.  Okay.  I lied.  I can’t imagine being that person that works hard all day every day without the space to enjoy a bit of respite in the warmth of the fading sun on bare skin.

Love is an intense emotion.  I’m a firm believer that we make a choice to love or not love, and the feelings follow.  We make a choice to let someone in and to find the ways we are similar and how we can relate to them.  We look at who they are and how their paths fit with the ones we’ve walked in life.

There’s a free fall.  There’s a moment when the emotion is too strong to fight and we fall freely, hoping that there is someone rising to meet us.  We love the feeling and can’t get enough.  We want to be surrounded by love and covered in it’s warmth, seduced by it’s smell.

It’s an addiction.  He said it.  I agree.  We will do what it takes to have the love we need.  We sacrifice our time and dreams and alter our goals.  We give and shift what we don’t have to make it work.  We make love into our god and when this deity removes her favor, we are lost in the abyss of all we expected, showing us how far from the earth we’ve floated and the crash that is coming can be delayed but is inevitable.

Is it really an addiction, or is it just part of living and being human.  Human touch is necessary for survival.  Horrible science experiments have been done on infants regarding touch.  Money is needed to secure food and shelter.  Is it an addiction if it’s a basic need? Then again, maybe I’m spoiled to have lived and loved, and been provided for and sheltered in ways I didn’t expect.

Then again, what is an addiction but something we need so much that we would choose it over our wellbeing, survival and lesser relationships?  I’ve done silly things for love.  I can own up to being addicted to it, but in growth I’m learning that I am not deserving but worthy of love that is stronger than I am.  And I’m damn strong.

At the end of the day, are your things taking care of you, or are you working hard to have more things that dissatisfy you?

Advertisements

Romantic Love

For the first time, I was given a topic to write about.  The person that made the suggestion is close to my heart and at first I was eager, even excited to write about love, trust, commitment and patience.  It should have been easy to bang this one out and call it a night.

It was a Friday night and I was home alone, enjoying the quiet with the television on (really rare) and the many app alerts from men that honestly thought I would want to meet them in a way that was clear to me was just to fulfill a sexual need.

Love

I wasn’t feeling love.  At one point a man asked why I was being so mean to him.  I told him he sounded like he just wanted to feel the back of my throat and I wasn’t interested.  He kept trying to guilt me into seeing him and he stopped when I told him I didn’t know how else to explain he was making me feel like a whore.  I could have blocked him, but he would never learn, and he’d just find me on another app.  (It happens often enough now.)

Trust

I wasn’t feeling trust.  I couldn’t trust the men I was talking to that wanted to spend time with me last night.  There was the beautiful attorney with auburn hair and blue eyes.  I could totally trust his intentions when he messaged “DTF.” He got to the point of what he wanted from me.  There was an offer for Netflix and wine and another for Netflix and a massage.  I laughed because I have Netflix and Hulu at home and I can save the gas, and know that no one is secretly hoping to feel for my missing tonsils by the end of the night.

Commitment

My commitment last night was to my New Year’s resolution of taking care of myself because I wasn’t in the mood to make someone else feel better than I wanted to make myself feel.  It wasn’t a complete bust.

Patience

Patience looked like a phone call last night. I had a conversation with a man that was all over the place and left me laughing so hard.  He admitted that he wasn’t putting his best foot forward and his one sided conversation did require patience.  Once I settled into the idea I wasn’t going out with anyone, I decided to stay in and took off my makeup and clothes, enjoying a night in my underwear on the phone and sipping tea.  At one point he told me I was intimidating.  He said it was my looks, and the way I wear my clothes and string along words.  I told him I was determined to find someone smarter than me and he said that is why I will never find a date. I’m asking for too much.  My patience paid off because that observation made my night.

But it’s morning now and a good night’s rest with a phone that was on vibrate all night has it’s rewards and I’m feeling a rosy glow around the world right now.

2017 is greeting me with a transition from being in the moment to envisioning a romance that lives on beyond the days held carefully in routine and imagination. I’m exploring in words because the depth of such a reality hasn’t hit me yet.  But it will.  It’s been many years since I’ve felt romantic love that gets past infatuation and isn’t bound by a commitment stronger than fickle feelings.

Infatuation

My obsessive observations are fun, but they always dance in the fascination of infatuation.  These are moments when I will notice details about a man I’m interested in to the point that it’s creepy.  It’s a happy place where I’m willing to look at the many things I find intriguing but it rarely means I’ve given him any thought beyond objectification.  I have not at this point decided I would care for him any more than I would care for any other human being. But thinking of him entertains and excites me. It’s not a friendly practice.

Infatuation is a phase in a new relationship where I am willing to look deeper than friendship and see what feelings can be grown. It’s a place where I make that initial choice to imagine more than friendship. Everything about the person I’m into is amazing and if it isn’t, those amazing parts more than make up for it.

This is where I might entertain giving another man a baby.  No, I don’t want more kids.  If I find the one I want to keep, I may reconsider it, but I can’t tell you how many men around 35 see my mothering as sexy and want to put a child in me.

Love

There’s a time when infatuation fades into the feelings of love.  Loving someone is a choice.  When infatuation fades and the excitement gives way to reality, his behaviors that were once okay can start to bother me.  At this point, I choose.  At this point, would I be happier walking away (I don’t actually walk, but try to push him away)?  Could I be happier making space for his shortcomings, and loving him even if he’s annoying me? When I decide to be open in vulnerability, I am making a decision to allow someone in.

When infatuation fades, I’m faced with a new choice to love someone.  This is when doubts and fears become a choice to believe.  I put my faith in the person I’m trusting with my heart.  I’m deciding that even though I see so many things I can’t ignore in him . . . Even if my doubts and irritations are yelling at me, I still need him in my life.  I would rather live in a world where I get to make space for him and the ways he fails my expectations than go another day without seeing or talking to him.

Love is a choice.  You decide what you want to do and those feelings follow where you allow them to go.  This is where I might compromise and consider bringing a new life into this world.

Trust

I overthink all of the time.  It’s a superpower but it’s not always a gift.  I rarely accept things at face value and I’m often thinking of what was said, and holding it up to what I know.  I want to understand everything and my curiosity never stops.  When I have even a moment of doubt, my trust takes a step back.  Yes, I’ve been cheated on.  A few times by different boys.  I always offered the men I loved the benefit of the doubt.  I wasn’t a cheater, so maybe he could be faithful to me too.  In theory.  Hopefully.

In reality I offer my trust to a person and put my faith in their belief to be committed to honor their word.  I’m at a place where I understand how much it means to me to be transparent and I try to offer the truth at all times.  It means you see my good and bad, but I’m not going to be ashamed of that. And I recognize that even in my bad, I’m a harsh judge on myself and do what many think and can relate to.

In my marriage I lied a lot about money or how I spent my time.  It was never about cheating.  It never occurred to me to cheat.  It was a lie to cover my shame in choices I knew wouldn’t make him happy.  He couldn’t trust me and so he’d look at my grocery store receipts.  He’d find my $25 Amazon gift card because that deception was how I partied.  But he couldn’t trust me.

For that week when I had a boyfriend (is it terrible that I can laugh about that now?) there was one night with hand holding and snuggling.  There was laughter and I felt like I trusted him in that moment and that was a gift. I felt so much peace in his arms.  In hindsight, he never trusted me.  He gave me his nickname at first and it wasn’t until the day before he broke up with me that he gave me his actual name.  He was born in the states, but his roots are in Palestine and he didn’t trust that I would accept him for who he was. At one point he started dozing off and I picked up my phone to troll Instagram and Facebook.  I was off of the dating sites and I did field a text from someone wanting to flirt.  I let him know I had a boyfriend and that was the end of it. He wanted to see what I was looking at and what I was doing and it wasn’t until he ended things that I could see how much he distrusted me.

Sometimes you trust your heart, even when you have a hard time trusting other people. Save your energy on a pity party because this is a choice made in the excellence of your own pure heart. And Lord help me, this is where I know having another child would be the right thing to do.  I trust a future with a person that I want to share my life with.

Commitment

I make commitments to myself daily.  I’m committed to creating space for self love.  I’m committed to only putting things in my mouth that make me insanely happy (food joy is a reality). I’m committed to creating a life I get to live with excitement.  Commitment to anyone outside of my kids . . .

I was committed to my marriage and while I had a boyfriend I was committed to him too.  It’s not just the word I give.  At the end of the day, when the world fades away, all I have is my word and the strength of it is how I show up in this world and that matters to me.  Commitments aren’t based on a mood.  They stand firm no matter what you feel.

When I committed to my marriage, it was all that mattered.  I know marriage often talks about honor and obeying as part of that commitment.  I felt I honored my ex, even if I didn’t trust his leadership more than I trusted mine.  Obeying him wasn’t what I wanted to do, but committing my heart and my body to our marriage was all that mattered.  I felt it was enough, and while I can admit I was wrong, I still believe a marriage is about the two people in the marriage.  It’s spouse and spouse, and that doesn’t include siblings and parents and friends.

Commitment means I show up no matter what I feel like doing.  It means I love you even when I don’t like you.  It means I find ways to be attracted to you when you can’t find it in yourself to love who you are enough to take care of yourself. It means what I might feel in any given moment takes a back seat to how I want you to feel when you are the person I choose to love and share my world with.  Commitment is about duty and it’s where I find my honor.

This is a hallmark of parenting.  You commit to taking care of another person.  I don’t know any parents that stop being a parent after 18 years.  It’s a lifelong thing.

Patience

When I started taking classes at Glendale Community College, I was just out of high school and I didn’t have a car.  My Dad was picking me up and dropping me off which meant some days a class was cancelled and I had to wait.  Or I had large time gaps in my day and I would just hang out on campus until my next class.  I wrote a lot of sappy poems. I wrote in my journal.  I sat in the cafeteria and found comfort in hot tea and soup.  I would wait on the front steps of the school in the heat or the rain, and I remember telling myself to be patient. Just wait.

When my kids were born, I had to live on their schedule.  Eating, sleeping, awake and crying, awake and playing, gassy, happy, angry . . .  Their world dictated my response and I was never happy about it.  I loved being a surrogate because feeling like a single parent with an infant was hard on me (because I prefer being selfish).

When my marriage ended, I found peace in patience.  From March 11 when I was told my marriage was over, there were ups and downs and I fought hard, and not well, but I found patience for him.  I convinced myself that no matter what, when he was ready to snap out of it, I would take him back and we would work on our marriage.  That lasted until February 12, almost a year later.

I learned patience and found comfort in knowing it would be over one day.  That day came when I changed my mind about what I wanted, and the transformation that has taken place has required patience with myself.  In dating I meet many men that have been through a divorce and when we talk, I can see the heavy burden that I felt while waiting.  The day I filed for divorce was a celebration for me.  But the scars of a life that was planned and celebrated together has it’s own process of mourning.  I’m in a great place, but it has made me question how much is too much.

If you love someone, is there ever a point when you have been patient enough? I stopped being patient with my ex.  I was more committed to being a wife than being his wife and I realised it was no longer important to me to wait for him.  But where do you draw the line when you’re in love? Do you look for a line to draw? I don’t think I could.  I grew up in a home where love meant you are self sacrificing every moment of your life if that means the person you love feels it.  My parents might have lost their shit from time to time, but I grew up taking their patience for granted.  It is something I’ve tried to internalize.  I want to be that person in life and in love that was modeled, to the point where I now get to decide I won’t help anyone by being a martyr to someone else’s happiness through my self sacrifice and patience.

Patience is waiting even when you have no idea how long you’ll have to wait.  Patience is enduring and finding strength within yourself when you know you can’t find it in the person in front of you because they are relying on your strength, sustained by your patience.

Romantic Love

It’s not an easy road.  Sometimes I imagine the rewards because they aren’t always going to land in my lap.  When I put my faith in a romantic relationship, I believe it won’t fail me even though to this day, every single one I believed in has failed me.  Would I do it again? Abso-freaking-lutely.  The rewards of being in love are worth every possible risk and moment of blind faith.  The ideals of commitment I hold close to me are strong enough that I can believe someone else would hold them just as closely to his heart.

I’m making space for my next romantic love.  When my ex was leaving, I made an effort to put family pictures all over the house.  I wanted to remind us all of who we were as a family.  When he moved out they stayed for the kids.  I told them I would take them down when I painted the living room.  That was my commitment to them and seeing these pictures for all of this time is an exercise in patience. I brought my boyfriend home and while I felt fine hiding him away in my bedroom, I’m sure it had an effect on him, even if it was unspoken.  It probably influences why I’m never home if my kids are gone.

This weekend I intend to be home for the most part.  I have taken the pictures down and washed the walls.  I will start taping the trim and I will begin priming and painting my living room.  I will finish changing the last room in the home I shared with my ex because it’s time my little house becomes my home again. It will be a meditative celebration of change and it will be a space I will be excited to be in again.

Rise

“Rise”

I won’t just survive
Oh, you will see me thrive
Can’t write my story
I’m beyond the archetype

I won’t just conform
No matter how you shake my core
‘Cause my roots—they run deep, oh

Oh, ye of so little faith
Don’t doubt it, don’t doubt it
Victory is in my veins
I know it, I know it
And I will not negotiate
I’ll fight it, I’ll fight it
I will transform

When, when the fire’s at my feet again
And the vultures all start circling
They’re whispering, “You’re out of time,”
But still I rise

This is no mistake, no accident
When you think the final nail is in
Think again
Don’t be surprised
I will still rise

I must stay conscious
Through the madness and chaos
So I call on my angels
They say

Oh, ye of so little faith
Don’t doubt it, don’t doubt it
Victory is in your veins
You know it, you know it
And you will not negotiate
Just fight it, just fight it
And be transformed

‘Cause when, when the fire’s at my feet again
And the vultures all start circling
They’re whispering, “You’re out of time,”
But still I rise

This is no mistake, no accident
When you think the final nail is in
Think again
Don’t be surprised
I will still rise

Don’t doubt it, don’t doubt it
Oh, oh, oh, oh
You know it, you know it
Still rise
Just fight it, just fight it
Don’t be surprised
I will still rise

These are the lyrics to the song Advanced 139 chose to represent who we are. Powerful, right? It’s not the Katy Perry version but a cover by Boyce Avenue.
Last night I was challenged. It was a stretch for me.  I was to embody Beyonce and be empowered by it.  Oh my goshness.  It was rough and there was a really raw feeling that settled in my belly and held me hostage most of the day.
There are many people that love Beyonce, but I’ve never really been a huge fan.  I still haven’t even listened to Lemonade.  The album hit too close to home.  Waiting for my ex to decide he wanted me back for 11 months is not a feeling I want to revisit.  I feel stronger now.  I feel confidence and joy I didn’t feel before.  I feel freedom for the first time.  Listening to that album didn’t feel like something I could handle, so I’ve avoided it.  I loved her music in the early days, but there was a disconnect in who she is.  I tend to love music, while ignoring the person behind it.
The prude in me sat in judgement of her.  I’ve never seen the skin she exposes or her dance moves as empowering.  We have different styles.  I will step outside of the voice in my head, steal a hug from a man and tell him how appreciated his beauty is.  But it’s about sexualizing someone else for my needs, not caring about theirs.
“You’re beautiful.”
“Thank you for loving your body as much as I do.”
“Thank you for that public service that looks like your exercise routine.”
Spreading her legs on her back . . . Crawling on all fours . . . Exposing her flesh to turn someone else on always felt like putting her sexuality in service to someone else.  It’s her agency but it felt like she’s giving it to someone else because he wants it enough that he’ll claim ownership of her. It says more about me than it does her.  Madonna has done the same for years, but there’s this distance she has.  She hasn’t seemed emotionally needy in decades.  It’s also possible that I over identify with Beyonce and I see in her the parts of myself I don’t like.
I spent years using my body to please others, rarely ever enjoying the encounter myself.  I’ve found my power in satisfying my needs, rather than trying to please someone else.  I’m in a place where offering my sexuality is a gift I’m offering because I choose to and it’s no longer a gift just because someone else wants it.
I posted a selfie video on my Instagram on September 19th.  I almost took it down because I thought of it being used by someone else to live out a sexual fantasy.  I decided to leave it up because that would have been me catering to someone else’s fantasy, rather than enjoying the moment of confidence and satisfaction I was in when I made the video.
I was asked to empower myself by being transformed into Beyonce.  I had to dress in a way that I wouldn’t dress.  My bra was visible through my shirt last night.  I wore pleather shorts, much shorter than I’m used to, with high heels that I nearly fell in.  I stumbled and almost took a few ladies down with me.  It was epic.  I was cheered through it and it helped me get through the ridiculousness.
The big part of what I was asked to do was to empower myself.  How amazing is it that people who have known me for 3 days could decide on day 4 that my biggest discomfort is in empowering myself? They don’t see my insecurities at work when I’m asking and double checking what I know because I’m afraid of making mistakes.  They don’t see me shrink back from fighting because it’s easier to not fight and walk away than use my voice.  I know I could hurt others.  I choose not to because hurting others hurts me even if I’m being attacked, but also because there’s uncertainty . . .   Sitting in the shadows as others move forward unable to use the thoughts that just don’t shut up in my head . . . They don’t see me silencing myself when with family or my ex.  They didn’t see that the only place I’ve found confidence is in fighting for my children.  In this moment, I can see that as the past because I’m a badass and change is a choice I can make today and continue to make.
Last night, we left it out there.  I powered through my fear in bravery.  I stumbled through cold, in heels that were a little too big and trusting my feet or not, the shoes betrayed my ankles and I powered through in courage.  And through it all, I said, “Oh what the fuck? Do whatever it takes,” because in the end, it wasn’t about me but supporting and being supported in what I was doing.  I was being encouraged while allowing others to encourage me.
After the performance, I was lifted by my tribe. I was cradled, then held high above their heads as Beyoncé sang “Halo” and I sang along with her. My walls were tumbling down. 
At the end of the night, I had rug burns on my knees.  I had several hands on my body.  I held so many people in my arms.  Rather than feeling dirty and used, and distanced by my own design, I felt open.  I felt so much love that while my heart was ready to burst with the trust I felt, I was okay with it.  It was a time of open hugs that offered more full body contact than I’ve had in really long time with men that were scantily clad.  I may have really enjoyed that too. I offered massages and gave massages.  It wasn’t payment for a negotiation of pleasure.  It was a gift and an offering of love.  Unconditional love and service to each other.  I was open to sharing who I was.  I was ready to let others in. I am ready to let others in.
I had a moment of just opening up in love to my Buddy.  He’s beautiful.  He’s kind, and generous.  He’s considerate. He’s a leader.  He’s everything I would want to wake up to in the morning, if only he weren’t gay.  I keep saying the perfect man would be gay but into me and he embodies this in a way that aches.
I’m committed to being gentle with myself, and opening up to others, trusting that being hurt by others might happen and I’ll face that set back with a moment to say, “Yes!” I’ll sit back, reassess, and move forward with an open heart because closing off only hurts myself.
The legacy I will live in will be to live in openness. I get to live and allow others in.  I get to live and in empathy, find empathy for myself because being connected to what I feel is a gift and I receive it in the present.  Each breath I breathe is the gift of life and each exhalation is my contribution to the world, and I can’t contribute if I hold who I am.  That will only make me suffocate.  There is no life when there is no exchange.  We rely on others to reflect, to connect.  It was a huge lesson last night.  I get to live in a way that doesn’t cripple my sons.  I get to live in a way that doesn’t leave them searching to heal the scars I’ve created.  I get to be the mom I want them to have and I get to ask them the questions and offer the answers that I wouldn’t have before because I get to let them in.  I get to let people in.

When, when the fire’s at my feet again, And the vultures all start circling, They’re whispering, “You’re out of time,” But still I rise.

Gift Receipt

I love receiving gifts, but sometimes it’s not the right fit, or you wanted a different color, or the gift in no ways satisfies your wants or desires.  It’s terrific when we have a gift receipt.  We can find out the value of the gift.  We can make an exchange or return. We don’t have to keep what we were given.  Yesterday I found a gift receipt and I didn’t even know what I had before I found it.

During part of my Advanced class, I really took a look at my parents.  At the end of the day, I had a good childhood.  It might have been cold in some ways.  Dad would shut down and sit inside of himself.  Mom was physically affectionate but as I got older, her affection looked like encouragement to be better.  I’ve accepted that I may never reach who she wants me to be, and I only ask that my kids are loved and loving others because of how that feels. There was a space of disconnection.  I love my parents, and they’ve given me all that they thought was best for me, but I had to look at how they shaped my ideas of love and connection.

Let’s start with my Daddy issues.

Dad is a war vet and he lives with PTSD. His war experience is never farther from him than yesterday.  Emotionally, he is disconnected.  It’s not something I’m angry about.  It’s just what I grew up with.  I realized I tend to feel like he can’t see me.  He’s in his head so much that he can’t see me.  He stands bravely, but I’ve always known the fear he lives in.  I spent my adolescence, declaring to myself that I can’t live in his fear or face his demons.  I just can’t let them control how I live.  I spend a lot of time on the town alone.  I don’t always remember to lock my door.  I don’t carry the taser he bought me.  I refuse to live in fear.  At the same time, I’ve been afraid of deep relational connections. I’ve been afraid of letting people in.  I’ve been afraid to dream big and expect greatness.

Dad has kept things at a distance.  He doesn’t share who he is outside of his faith and maybe it’s because he can’t see his value outside of his faith.  This summer he kept asking my kids, “What do you think of Grandpa.”  I finally said, “I need you to be strong for them, and not question who you are.  You don’t need acceptance.  You need to just be who you are and get your answers by who chooses to be around you. You tell me you are the son of the Most High God, and I need you to act like it.  My sons are learning who they are from those around them.” He once tried to share his experience of Vietnam with me.  I don’t remember what he said, but he remembered the look on my face and uses that as an excuse to hide who he is to protect me . . . to protect him.

This showed up for me in a way that I could see how every man I’ve ever dated was emotionally unavailable or stunted in some way.  I have always been attracted to men that feel like I did when surrounded by my Daddy’s demons.  His fear . . . His emotional distance . . . His superficial connection . . . His need to control that made love feel like obedience and service to him.  I found his gift receipt and I don’t need it anymore.

And now, my Mommy issues.

The Basic class showed me that I never appreciated what it was like for my mom.  She came here from Thailand as a teenaged mother, not knowing the language and leaving her entire family.  She was in a controlling relationship, but she’s strong, and for years, her strength looked like distance, and angry yelling.  It looked like financial independence and generosity toward those less fortunate.  She had three daughters, back to back (just like I did), then I was born seven years later.  I was the surprise.  I came along after she had settled into who she was as a mom.  She had gotten comfortable with finding her financial independence and stepping outside of my Dad’s need to control.  I barrelled through her body, giving her stretchmarks and messing with her thyroid.  When she wanted to make medical decisions at my birth, it was vetoed by my Dad and the doctor wouldn’t follow my Mom’s wishes about her body. She never gave me anything other than a sense that I was a cherished and treasured child.  I got hugs and kisses.  She bought me everything she could.  I married a man so much like my Dad, that when he left me, my Mom knew exactly what I needed, but never gave me a deep heart to heart about what she felt.

My Mom is emotionally distant, but she does it out of love.  I have no idea about my Mom’s history before she met my Dad.  I asked a cousin about it and his response was the same as hers.  There is so much pain in the family past that they need to protect me and will not say anything at all.  What I know is that they grew up extremely poor in the countryside in Thailand.  My mom had to work by free climbing up coconut trees.  She never went past elementary school and yet she came to the states and earned an A.A. Degree.  She lived in such a way that she needs to protect me by hiding who she is from me. There’s an emotional disconnect.

The way I see my mother in my romantic relationships is I tend to want to get lost in the history, the desires and dreams of the man I’m dating.  I hide my desires, putting myself last in getting to know them.  I mirror what I want from my Mom.  I want to be seen and sometimes I don’t feel that I am.  I never doubt that she loves me.  I don’t feel a deep connection, and I fight for that with my boys, often giving them more transparency than others think is appropriate.

What this means is . . .

I can look at this.  I can see what it means in my life and how it has created who I am, and I can decide that yes, I had a loving childhood, but I’m still trying to fill gaps that were created in me.  These gaps aren’t things that my parents did wrong.  This is more that my parents were unable to be who I wanted or needed them to be and now that I see that, I don’t have to keep filling those voids in others.

I can see how the circumstances of my parent’s life never allowed them to fully express who they are.  I grew up with so much empathy for others and a total disconnect from myself.  Part from my parents . . .  Part from my suicidal years (1993-2006).  There are things I feel so deeply that the only way to survive has always been to shut it off.  If I don’t allow myself to feel, it can’t take me deeper than I can stand. I hide in my smile.  I hide in my confidence.  I hide in not allowing others to see who I really am because my darkness might be too dark (thanks Mom and Dad). They didn’t have a choice.  I won’t suggest they should do better because I know they did the best they could.  I’m certain that my Dad must have grown up with love as a barter system because I’m learning unconditional love now.  It comes from choice.  It comes without a cost or expectation and it’s independent of the ability to be disappointed.

I understand that the distance from my parents in hiding who they are is because they still need protecting from what life has offered them. It’s not at all about me.

I’ve had so much kindness in the last few days.  I’ve had so many people give me their love from the gut, with openness.  They’re just as raw and gutted as I am right now.  I’m seeing how I’ve been in my world, trying to fix parts I didn’t know were broken, and shutting out decent people.

A week or two ago, someone at work was opening a door for me, but I opened the other side because I’m not used to this kindness.

Wednesday, a man looked me in the eyes as I was opening up about my bruised parts, and he told me I was beautiful.  I could feel the zit growing on my cheek, and the tears streaming down my face, and my face was in an open and ugly cry.  But I was beautiful to him.

I had someone feed me.  He offered food.  As simple and human as that is, he offered food without expecting anything more than the company I offered.  And I keep trying to mother him.  What does that say about my mommy issues?

I found my gift receipts.  I know the value of what they’ve given me and how it looks in my life.  I’m taking it back and deciding what I’m committed to creating in my life.  It’s going to being brave, courageous, and heart led.  It’s already pretty epic.

 

Love Bombs

It feels amazing when a love bomb is dropped all over you.  It shatters the inner dialogue that claims you are not enough, or worthy, or that you need to be more than you see in the mirror. You are seen intimately.  The call of your heart is heard and held and it resonates with meanings that are understood. You are given such a pure vision of how you present yourself that there is no denying that you are a beautiful being, full of light and possibility.  You are validated and shown that there is value in who you are as you are, without further expectation of who you should be based on a value system you are never expected to understand.  Love bombs are epic.

I love your capacity to love.

I love your ability to see beauty through the ashes.

I acknowledge your pain and validate your anguish.

I love watching you dance and hearing you sing.

I love your excitement over good food.

I love your spontaneity.

I love your caregiving nature and servant’s heart.

I appreciate your generosity.

I see you as beautiful and feel your power and authority over your life.

I acknowledge your accountability.

I appreciate your vulnerability.

I admire your ability to internalize criticisms as a catalyst for intentional change.

You amaze me.

Yesterday I was committed to being gentle with myself.  Still fractured from behavior I’m not proud of, I was seen and given a couple of objective views of the situation.  I was given an explosion of unconditional love. I was given love in my weakness and in behavior I regretted.

I love bombed all over myself. It was a Thursday night and while I usually take Thursdays as a day to feel small near the ocean, I used it as a date night for myself.  Usually that’s a weekend thing.  I’m very comfortable with sitting at a table alone in a crowded restaurant, on any night, but usually Wednesday or Thursdays are about feeling small because I need that perspective often.  I took my time walking through stores and picking up items that interested me. I was intentional with my epicurean endeavors. I treated myself to dinner and walked through a bookstore, enjoying the weight and smell of the books I picked up.  I later went home and stared longingly and lovingly at myself in a mirror. I left hand written notes to myself and left them in places where I would find them later because I will need the reminder of my awesome later.  I tend to forget.

I realized that I am so in tune with the desires of my heart and no one can love me as deeply as I do. I took a selfie to remember how great that felt. Tonight, with my sons home, I’m committed to being silly.  I’m committed to laughing at myself and really appreciating what this feels like.  The love explosion all over myself is what is driving my night and my focus this weekend is to teach my boys that same appreciation.

There will be silliness and shenanigans.

My Self Loving Journey

I had a conversation with a desk mate today that keeps echoing and resounding softly every few hours.  It won’t give me space, and that usually means I have thoughts to explore.  We talked about my walk again. She laughs every time she sees me walk, and she calls it a model walk while I counter with, “it’s a mom walk.”  She sees it’s different and worth a conversation.  Another co-worker started following me to videotape it, but stopped because I walk too quickly. It’s transportation but it wasn’t always.

Over a year and 3o pounds ago, I was the abandoned wife that had given birth to seven babies.  I was afraid to smile at men because I was afraid of my ex’s jealousy that I explored first in this post. I didn’t spend time out with friends, because the rare moments of solitude I had were selfishly spent alone because I needed the rare spaces I had. When he left without warning, I was shocked and my self worth plummeted with the life we created together.  I didn’t have a job, not really.  I was working part time, without benefits and I hated what I was doing. At one point I quit my job for one that fell through completely. I didn’t have close relationships because it was hard to build them in the isolation I lived in.  Within days my ex had a new special friend he was sharing his secrets with.  She would take his phone to text me the many ways I failed as a wife and mom and woman and person, and since she didn’t know me, it was clear that she was only repeating what my husband had told her.  It’s a miracle that I didn’t fall into one of my deep depressions and the reigning emotion I fought was rage. I’m sure you could imagine why I was angry.

I relied heavily on faith. I woke up in the middle of the night and fell asleep with a prayer on my lips.  I woke and prayed. I was determined to be a wife, even if my husband refused to be my husband.  In January I had an encounter that shifted things just enough.  There was a man.  It’s always about a boy and those posts were all tagged “crush watch.” It’s almost a hobby to fall into careful observations and entertain myself but it’s only happened here with an apology here, and my latest crush here (sans apology) since 2000.

He introduced himself to me a couple of times in our first encounter, and I had the distinct impression I was attractive to him. Naturally, I freaked out.  I went into the script that kept me faithfully waiting all of those months.  I told him that I was still married and not dating because of all of the things I believe marriage to be.  I did all I could to scare him away in that first meeting.  Over weeks he would become my first crush in 16 years through opening doors and appreciative smiles.  I started this blog right when I accepted that I liked looking at him and men in general. I still think of him fondly, but it was more about the shift he gave my perspective and the first few blog posts on this blog inspired by the way he made me feel (February and March in the archives).  Since then, I’ve remembered what it was like to have several people let you know you are attractive in the span of a week.  I’ve regained my confidence in walking up to a complete stranger and letting him know how beautiful he is.  Beautiful doesn’t mean I want to keep him.

I still believe marriage to be a choice to commit to one person for as long as you both live.  I still feel that you make a choice every day to be a spouse, and the feelings always follow.  I feel you give it 110% daily because unconditional love means you aren’t expecting anything as a barter, and you’re not holding back with expectations of something to lose. As for my marriage, I have accepted that without my permission it ended when my husband decided he was done, and almost a year later I accepted his decision with a choice of my own.  I decided I had taken enough abuse and it was time to offer myself the love I kept trying to extend to him in forgiveness.  I stopped offering forgiveness as love for him and offered it as love for myself.

The point is I felt so low.  I felt ugly and believed I was based on what I was told.  On my birthday I stepped out of my car in the heart of Hollywood after a night of crying. I had just decided my marriage was over because both of us had walked away.  I decided he had taken the last free shot at me because I was done being his doormat begging him to walk on me and wipe his feet on me.  A woman stopped me on my way to work and told me I looked put together.  I cried on the spot and she held me.  A complete stranger allowed me to fall apart and then held me up.  I was shattered.  There was something in her offering that was prompted by the grace she saw in my walk.

The walk was one I had in my early 20’s.  It was confidence.  It was feeling each step in the sway of my hips.  It was trusting my body and knowing I didn’t have to watch for my step.  It was a head held high, and walking with my arms swaying because when you are happy, opposition is your friend.  My strut was gone during my marriage because I didn’t want to encourage others to look at me.  It slowly came back and it was one of the first ways I began to remind myself that I love myself.  That, and dancing in front of a bedroom mirror.  You don’t do that?

There’s a current-ish crush.  It’s more fun distraction than anything.  I haven’t offered my unmasked self to him, even in friendship. My love and devotion is reserved for me and my sons.  I’m learning from Stephanie Kwong about self love this week and what she has said is inspiring my latest doodles and some of the thoughts running through my mind.

img_1001

She explained that loving yourself includes: self acceptance, self forgiveness, self respect, self trust, self receiving, self compassion, self permission, self appreciation, and self celebration.  I mainly walk in confidence, spoil myself with pedicures, take myself out and go hard on selfies.  There’s lots to be learned.

I started writing down what I love about myself, but again her questions really gave me perspective.  I love my sons unconditionally, but do I love myself unconditionally? Do I give myself conditions, or do I love myself in spite of my ugly side?  Can I name my ugly side, or do I pretend it doesn’t exist? Can I give others my whole self? Do I only allow others to see and love the mask I offer, or can I give others complete authenticity? Can I love myself the way I want to, in all the messy ways?

img_1002

Can I love myself when I’m being stubborn and not releasing what isn’t meant for me?

Can I love myself in sweats and without make up on the second day of my period with zits that I’ve picked into scabs?

Can I love myself when I feel like I’m being selfish and withholding from my kids? I will always feel like I need to give my kids more than I have for myself, but can I see the value in giving in to my desires as well?

Can I love myself through guilt and shame? I had a friend point out that the difference between me and everyone else is that we all think the same thoughts, but I feel bad when I’m thinking unkind things, even if I won’t give voice to these thoughts. This makes me a nice person. Can I love the fact that I have a hard time being mean?

I’m committed to move like I love myself.
I’m committed to act like I love myself.
I’m committed to speak like I love myself.
I’m committed to eat like I love myself.

I shared this with my Facebook family the other day. . .

I’m in a committed relationship with gelato.

I’m into Italians lately, but this one is special because I’m willing to splurge on it. I make sure it’s comfortable in the freezer. I take it out and it shows me a good time. . . A really good time with sounds that would make you blush. Our moments are special and I’m quite smitten. There’s no room for ice cream or frozen yogurt in my life. We’re exclusive.

Can I one day offer my love to another person in transparency and trust? (Today is too much to ask.) Can I be as open in person as I aim to be in my writing?

The Coffee Mug

I think lovesick puppies are cute, but I’d rather be your coffee mug.

I can handle hot passion and sit and wait as you watch me cool off.

Trust me to carry your morning Joe, afternoon tea, late night cocoa or that Hot Toddy.

I would be happy to be your first thought each morning.

I can sit alongside you when you are lost in a book.

Coffee might come from magic beans but it’s nothing without me to deliver it to you.

You can hold me with both hands and I’ll warm you up while I bask in your worship.

Expect great things from me and I won’t disappoint you.

Hold me carefully each day.

Bathe me gently.

Love me tenderly.

Let me be your coffee mug.