Truth Telling

truth

Last night after my revelation I closed everything down and went back to bed. It was 4:22 when I climbed in next to my pup and my hubs; as I did he stirred and then got up to go to the bathroom. When he returned he asked if I was okay and what I was still doing up. I told him I was fine and that I was writing and that I have things I would like to tell him but that it could wait until morning because clearly it was late and we were both tired. He smiled and said okay, told me he loved me and I slipped into a deep dreamless sleep.

Five hours later I woke up. We all did. Each of started to stretch and look around at each other and cuddle. We let Lu out, got her breakfast, got our own breakfast, and then scooted back to bed to eat and talk.

I put on oils in the bedroom, a mix of peppermint and lavender for clarity and calm. I lit my candle, I have many candles in my home but one is special, it is my candle, it’s light is there solely to support me. Then we crawled back into bed, him with his oatmeal, me with my peppermint tea and we started a new chapter in our relationship.

I told him that I experienced a shift last night and that I understood things I did not understand before and that I wanted to share these new realizations with him. Before I started I explained to him what I needed from him while we talked and that was space to be honest without it feeling like too much. He did not think that would be a problem.

He listened as I talked and when I was done, before moving on to another part of my epiphany I waited for feedback or questions. He was on board with everything, all of it. He understood everything I was saying and was open to all forms of honesty in our relationship. I made sure he knew that the standing invitation that he had always held for me, I was holding for him too. I am going to honest with you, in all forms, please trust me enough to know you can be that free here too. Our love is strong enough to hold this for us, it will only make it stronger. We agreed. We will move forward in this relationship without editing ourselves for the sake of the other. We will be real, and honest, and authentic, and build a deeper love on this.

Then I did something I have never done. I asked for help in my dark place. My therapy is what my therapy is, we are still separate from that part of my work because only I can do it. But there are other things that could get better if I ever trusted anyone enough to ask for help. He has shown me I am not too much, I am not asking too much, I am lovable, and he is not only willing but wants to help me should I ever ask. So I asked and he said yes. He is going to help me with practical aspects of overcoming my PTSD. We are going to work together to try and make me feel safe in ways I never have before.

This request was my very first step towards taking him up on his invitation of honesty and love.

Our relationship does not come up often in therapy because he is not something or someone I have to heal from. I realized though that he could help me heal. And that by being open to accepting his help I would also be opening myself up to a deeper level of trust within myself and in the relationship. I am learning to trust myself and trust him. I am learning to love myself and allow myself to be loved.

This is big stuff. It makes me think about the intention I started the year with, transformation. That is what this is. It is transformation, it is a learning and unlearning of love. I have been planted and now I am starting to sprout and grow.

To Know True Love You Must First Be Honest

honest

It is raining and I am so grateful because the rain has always made me feel comforted and right now I will take any extra support with an open heart. It is 3 o’clock in the morning and I realized hours ago that I will be doing my sleeping when the sun comes up because I am experiencing a shift and I need to be present and bare witness.

There are multiple posts that will need to be written to capture the leading up to and aftermath of this shift. I will let each come as they feel ready. Now there is a burning inside of me, a story and an intention that needs a voice desperately so it can be released.

Friday I got off internship and called hubs. He had the day off so he was home waiting for me. When I called I asked him how his day was and then asked him what was for dinner. His answer made it clear to me that he had given dinner no thought and this led to a heated discussion wherein he may have accused me of be patronizing and I may have said there was sexism in our relationship.

This is a post unlike others I have written  because I do not discuss our relationship in this way publicly. This is true for a number of reasons. The first being that my husband and I have check-ins periodically about our relationship, similar to the state of the union addresses, where we take inventory and see if anything needs attention. Another is because an actual issue arising that would lead to heated discussion is few and far between. And third because my husband is private and although I write openly about my life I try to be considerate of how I include him.

The thing is, this is such a massive shift taking place within me that I feel the need to document it and this is where I do that. The purpose of this post is not to highlight this tiff my husband and I had but to use it as context for the shift that is taking place.

So we both said something that was honest but hurtful to the other person and when I got home we sat and talked and found common ground and hugged and hugged some more and then had some dinner. An understanding was reached and commitment was made to a change that was needed.

When my husband and I were having this talk on the couch my husband said something to me that he has been saying for five years. It has to do with how we communicate differently. My husband will let me know when something makes him uncomfortable as it is happening. He usually does so without emotion, just kind of an FYI situation so I am aware and we can either talk about it or I can just be more mindful. This probably takes place every other day or so. He has learned over time that if he is going to mention things this often he has to have a gentle approach because otherwise it is stifling, if he were overly critical or annoyed when delivering these FYIs it would be too much because of the frequency. This works for us.

I do not do this. I am a bit more easy going, he would agree with this assessment, and I tend  to let things and people be. He is who he is and I love him as he is. I only mention something if I am supremely bothered by it and I do not tend to get supremely bothered. Every once in a while though something will happen that I am not comfortable with and then I might realize, hey wait a minute I don’t like this and it keeps happening. I may not have been fully aware of my discomfort with it the first 10 times but this time I am and this has to be addressed now. I am emotional when I bring it up because that is who I am as a human and I almost always catch him off guard, understandably so. The entire time we have been together I have maybe done this a handful of times so it is again, not an issue we worry ourselves with, but when it does happen it is no fun. When I get emotional on that level I get swimmy headed and I do not articulate well. I usually start off okay, I am rational and calm. If the conversation goes on for more than 10 minutes though my emotional levels build and I get lost. I just want to tell my truth, have it be understood, and move on.

When we were talking the other night we did okay. I had a moment of emotional lostness wherein I identified sexism in the relationship (to be clear I did not call my husband sexist. I do not believe that for one second. I also do not believe that he would ever do a single thing intentionally to hurt me. The situation in my eyes was sexist though and because of his perspective I believe he was not even aware of it). After that moment I came back down and we talked like we normally talk.

Where my shift comes in was after something I read this evening. My husband is asking me to let him know on a more regular basis when something that is happening makes me uncomfortable so it can be addressed and it does not build leading to a situation like what took place Friday night. I know this would be a more effective way for me to communicate my needs the problem is, and I have shared this with him, I may not notice it the first 10 times. I notice it the 11th time and when I do it suddenly occurs to me that it has happened 10 times before as well and I am upset. I explained, as I have in the past, that I don’t know how to make myself notice it the first time or the second or even the seventh. I don’t notice it until I notice it and sometimes it is after it has been going on for a while.

So tonight I was reading something and it hit me like a ton of bricks. Two things: 1. I am not being honest with myself in my relationship. and 2. By not being honest with myself I am not being fully-present and authentic in my relationship. Both of these realizations made me feel awful. Awful on so many levels. Awful that I am abandoning myself in my relationship, not intentionally but it is happening all the same. Awful that by not being honest with myself that means I am not being honest with my husband and that breaks my heart because ironically honesty is the most important thing to me in a relationship. Awful because my husband is, I shit you not, the most honest person I have ever met in my entire life. Awful because by not being honest I have not given him the opportunity to love me fully for the person I actually am.

None of this feels good. I cried silently while he and my sweet pup laid next to me in bed fast asleep. I gave myself my moment and then realized it is going to be okay. I realize it and I love myself enough to be honest. I also trust our love enough to be honest. We are both strong enough to withstand my honesty. AND my true self, the one who I have not been honest about is worthy of my love and his. AND I know in my heart he will agree.

When I say I have not been honest it is me realizing that all this time that I have been “laid back” and just letting him be him and not making a fuss, I have been abandoning myself. Not all the time but some of the time. My husband hates to cook and so I leave it be, that is just who he is. Right there, I abandoned myself. Sometimes I don’t want to. Sometimes I just want to come home, change my clothes, flop, and eat because dinner was already ready when I walked in. I told him all of this when we talked the other night and he totally got it. The thing is though if I am being honest with myself, I have felt this way from the beginning. Why I am just now saying something 5 years in?

Here is my unfortunate truth about that. It is because of what I learned about love through out my life from other men. Don’t ask for too much, don’t complain, stay small, stay silent, be agreeable, be easy, don’t fuss, don’t nag, make their life easier, help them, don’t ask for too much, don’t let them see you.

I realized after I finished writing that part that I wrote Don’t ask for too much twice. That tells you how embedded that message is inside of me.

I married my husband because from the very beginning his way of loving felt truer, more honest, safer, less conditional. He is my friend, my partner, he is not afraid of my strength, my emotions, my depth, my mind. He has been encouraging and supportive. My path to healing started 5 years ago, he has been walking it with me from day one. I have peeled back my layers and shown him my darkness and it has always been okay.

This whole time I thought this relationship was different. I knew there was this old piece of me that would show up on rare occasions but rarely, not nearly as often as every other relationship I have ever been in. I am sad that I am just now realizing how I have been editing myself. What makes me even sadder is that he has always been asking me not to. He would prefer I just be honest, he has always sensed that I was holding back. Why couldn’t I see it when he could see it so clearly? I think the answer is because it is my truth, not his, and you can’t see your truth until you are ready.

I see it now though and although I am sad that it took me this long and I am also relieved. He has given me the standing invitation from day one to be honest and be my whole self in this relationship. I am now not only ready to accept that invitation, I know how. I am accepting an invitation to be more present in out relationship and in my life. I am accepting an invitation that will bring me closer to myself and the person I love most. By accepting this invitation I am accepting myself on a whole new level.

He has never been afraid of me. Not my darkness, not my strength, not my depth, not my mind, not my emotions.. He will not be afraid of my honesty, he will embrace it the same way he has always embraced every other aspect of me.

Here is the real truth, since we being so honest, it was never about him. I am accepting an invitation to be honest with myself. To speak my truth. To be an equal. To be seen, and heard, and to ask for more, and to know I am worthy of it.

By being honest in this way I am finally able to shuck off the lies I learned about love from men throughout my life. Honesty is love. I cannot know true love with myself or outside of myself without a deep commitment to honesty.

It seems so clear to me but things always do in the after. The before is where things are tricky. Continue reading “To Know True Love You Must First Be Honest”

The unraveling of a family tie

rope unraveled

One of the values I was raised with is the importance of family. Throughout my entire life phrases like “Family comes first” have echoed in my ears. I definitely credit having a close-knit family as playing a major role in who I turned out to be. I have always been grateful for the relationship I have with my immediate and extended family, for the most part..

You have heard the expression, “Every family has one”, it can be applied to just about anything.

Weird Uncle? “Every family has one”.
Lazy fill in the blank? “Every family has one”.

It’s a way to help the rest of the group deal with that one person in the family that is difficult or obnoxious or makes poor decisions etc. For some families it is just one person for others it might be an entire branch on the family tree. The latter is true for my family.

Although we have an entire branch that is maybe a little different there is really just one “bad” fruit in my opinion. Not everyone would agree with me either. There are certain members (one member specifically) of my family that think this person can do no wrong and that is fine, I just happen to disagree.

There is no reason to go into great detail about my grievances with this person. This post is less about the actual person and more about the struggle I have been dealing with in my heart over feeling forced to maintain what was a flimsy relationship to begin with just because this person is family.

I don’t like the idea that someone who I am offended by (and would in other circumstances have absolutely nothing to do with) I am now bound to because somewhere in our make up we share a strand of DNA. So what?! I have to maintain some forced obligatory relationship? The whole idea of an “obligatory relationship” feels wrong to me, it’s like sand paper on my soul.

Of course this doesn’t sit right with me, I am being forced to “fake it” with this person every time I see them and I do not fake anything well. Of late I have distanced myself from situations where I know this person will be present, this is not hard to do as we do not have occasion to see each other that often anyway. But now I am getting grief about how, in doing this, I am also avoiding the rest of the family (which is not my intention). This means I have no choice but to be around this person. This does not work no matter which way to you look at it. The end result, because I am unable to fake the way I feel, is that this person may end up getting some unwanted honesty.

Here is the thing about this whole screwed up situation, the ENTIRE family is feeling the same way about this person! Everyone is griping behind this individuals back. I don’t like that. I don’t want to be caught up in it.To me it is negative and counter productive. I guess the difference between me and most everyone else ( I am not the only person in my family that has trouble with faking it) is I am unable to wear a mask and sell the disguise successfully.

Honestly I really don’t care to maintain any kind of obligatory relationship with this person. This is not someone I care to associate with, this is not someone I would want my children spending time around in the future. If it were as easy as cutting the tie I would have done it a long time ago. The only issue is if I fracture off from this relationship it is something that the rest of the family would be impacted by, for right now at least. In the future I know this will be a non issue but while my grandmother is still with us we all have to play nice for her sake.

I don’t like doing things for other people’s reasons. Especially things that make me feel like on a deeper level I am going against myself by doing them. Unfortunately I think this is something I will just have to endure for the time being which is a very frustrating thought.

To Err is Human, so is Vulnerability

– I am long-winded, I know this about myself and I apologize. I rarely edit myself, I just don’t feel right if I do. So this is a very long post about admitting a mistake and correcting a wrong.

Remember all that fancy talk yesterday about ” I make myself vulnerable quite often, it doesn’t scare me the same way it does others..” Yeah well not long after I submitted that post life came around and knocked me back down a peg.

I have said before how when I make a mistake I own it, yesterday I made a mistake and today I would like to own it. Who was I kidding, “it doesn’t scare me the same way it does others”?? This is when blogging is tricky. Had I had this initial conversation about vulnerability with Todd rather than posting my feelings and thoughts straight to my blog I would have had immediate feedback. I would have had someone to scoff at me and say ” No dear, you are a scaredy cat just like the rest of us”. Instead life stepped in and scoffed at me and showed me I am every bit as afraid of my vulnerability as everyone else. In this, like everything else, I am not unique.

So, how did life play this trick on me you ask? Well, yesterday after I posted to my blog I got up and went about my day. Later in the afternoon I had some downtime, I was piddling around on the internet, reading postsecret, playing on Pinterest and reading a few of the blogs I follow. I also clicked over to my stats to see what my traffic was like and found it was a bit higher than normal. Nothing crazy for a small timer like me but out of the norm enough to make me curious. I scrolled down to see one of the referrers to my blog was Twitter. I was befuddled. I don’t have a Twitter account, how would I get any traffic from Twitter? Further research showed that my blog posting about vulnerability ended up on a Oprah Fan Club Twitter page that boasts of 13,000 followers. I suddenly felt ill.

How ironic that the very posting about my comfort in being vulnerable suddenly made me feel so uncomfortable. I felt… vulnerable. After taking a moment to process this I had to laugh at myself, that’s what I get.

Allow me to explain my reasons for the initial feeling of discomfort..

When I started this blog over a year ago I had an expectation, as so many people do when starting up something like this. The idea of a blog was posed to me by a girlfriend I worked with at the hospital. After I gave my notice she and I were chatting one day at my desk and she mentioned that her cousin (I think it was a cousin) was going to be spending some time in Europe and started a blog for the people back home to follow her journeys. She suggested this idea of starting a blog as a returning student 10 years later to record my experiences for my friends and family to read. I had this idealistic vision of being able to look back at this blog after finishing my degree and having all my memories right there in front of me. So that is where this all started, just a conversation between friends.

So my expectations were low in the beginning. I sent my blog link to my friends and family and posted to my FB account (I was still a member at the time) and to my Pinterest account. I was in no way trying to hide what I was doing but I never for a moment thought that anyone other than those close to me would be interested in anything I have to say, and I wasnt even sure those close to me would care much. So in truth, with almost zero expectations I started writing for myself.

I have really enjoyed it. I have always loved to write and this gives me a platform to formulate ideas, a place to vent, it has been a release. I am sure people like Todd have appreciated my having an outlet as well because otherwise everything I write about it would be nonsense filling his ears on a daily basis. Not to say that I don’t talk to him about most of what I write about, I do, some of it I leave on here though.

As time went on I started picking up a few followers. I remember feeling flattered but surprised at first because I genuinely with my whole heart felt that no one would be interested in what I have to say other than my own family. In my recent talks with Todd he agrees that my initial expectations were reasonable but I should have known that there is always a possibility of others reading your ramblings, after all I am putting it on the internet! “Right, right. I should have thought of that. I just never entertained the idea because I just didn’t think I needed to.” I appreciate those who read my blog and those who follow me, it is always nice to feel understood, to feel related to, to feel that sense of camaraderie.. “Hey this guy gets me”.. You know? I assume that those who take the time to read, my often long-winded, ramblings do so because they share common ground with me on something, even just one thing.

So my discomfort does not come from knowing strangers are reading my blog but knowing that suddenly 13,000 people have access to your thoughts by just clicking a link.. Yeah, my initial reaction is terror. Self doubt starts to creep in, fear of judgement, fear of inadequacy. I am not a blogger, I feel like there are all these rules you have to follow to do this right and I don’t. I just get on and let the thoughts flow out of me. That’s it. I am just one nobody with some ideas.

I talked to Todd about all of this and he was able to ground me, as he always does. He is the rational thinker in our duo. I stand by what I said in that I do make myself vulnerable quite often. I don’t edit myself, I put it all out there. Not just in this blog, in life. What I take back is my statement about not being as scared of vulnerability as others. I am every bit as afraid of my vulnerability as everyone else. I am terrified of it really. Guess I am not so tough. As I said before though, this is how I approach everyday life, that is not changing. I just wanted to go back and acknowledge how wrong I was about vulnerability. It is a wonderful but very scary thing and I am humbled by it.

Follow up to “Being in the closet”

The religious salesman came knocking at my door again this morning. The same one from before. I was satisfied with how I handle his first visit because I was polite, listened to his message and accepted his material. Had I known that my quiet politeness was going to be misconstrued as willingness to accept future visits I would have still be polite but vocal about no future need for information.

Heres the thing, annoyance about this interruption in otherwise quiet, productive day does not just stem from not wanting to buy what he is trying to sell me. My annoyance exists on many levels,

1. When I know I have no reason to leave the house on any given day chances are I am not gonna bother with a bra. – It’s just me and the furniture, there is really no need to get gussied up.

2. Relating to number one, I may wait to take a shower until 3:00 if I feel so inclined.

3. We had a violent crime take place in our neighborhood a few months ago, unexpected knocks at my door rattle me a bit.

4. This is my “me time”, I don’t like to be bothered regardless of what it is.

The fact that he shoving religion in my face just intensifies my annoyance with the interruption, it isn’t the true cause of my annoyance.

So, there I was, sitting in my old scraggly Counting Crows t-shirt and worn out gym shorts, bra-less of course, hair in a knot on my head, coffee cup in hand, watching a Ted Talk on Introversion, when I hear “knock – knock” at the front door. My first reaction is a slight pang of fear followed by agitation. I get up, throw on a maxi dress (sans bra), and head for the door. I peek through my peep-hole to see the friendly neighborhood religion salesman and sigh, I realized it is time for me to come out of the closet to this man.

I opened the door to, “Hi Jill! Do you remember me I was here the other day” as he is handing me two new brochures on why everything I choose to believe in is wrong. I smile politely and say, “Yes of course, good morning.” He starts in on his spiel and I stop him, “I’m sorry I should have mentioned this the last time you were here as I certainly do not want to waste your time or gas money, we are not religious and your visits are actually a bit of an imposition. I appreciate and respect what you believe and what you do and hope that you will respect our position as well. I am happy to accept your pamphlets today but ask that you respect our privacy going forward and take our home off of your route.” He was accompanied by a lady today and she was surprisingly appreciative of my honesty, commenting on how she wished more people would just be honest as these visits do eat into their gas and time. I accepted his information again and wished them luck with their mission and thanked them for their understanding.

This encounter went incredibly well and to me is just a testament to what I have said before, there is no need for the harsh line that is drawn between believers and non-believers. We should all be respectful of each other’s beliefs regardless of what they are.