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”

Emotional Residue

im-tired

I was going to write about something completely different tonight. I was looking up the lyrics to a song I love that speaks to the inspiration I had when I clicked on a youtube link that I thought was that song. I was wrong. It was another song by that same artist. It was a song I have not listened to in a very long time. It is a song I do not listen to anymore. It started playing and it was as though my guts were being ripped out.

One time a girlfriend of mine was going on a date with a new guy, I think they were going to a concert or something. All I remember was thinking, man that is risky. I mean what if it doesn’t work out? You have just shared music you love with this person, their residue is going to get all over it  and possible stick.

Have you noticed how that happens? A relationship ends and suddenly you stop listening to a song you used to love, or a whole album, or everything by that artist?

Before my husband I dated multiple musicians. Talk about having a song or artist ruined for you.. Imagine if the person you used to love sang that song to you? It is emotional residue on a whole other level. It’s not just Oh we used to listen to this song together, it’s that every time you hear that song now you hear that person’s voice singing those lyrics to you. Musicians, at least the ones I dated, you music as a way to express things they maybe cannot with words conversationally.

There is this song I love by the Wannadies, it’s called You and Me. One day I showed up at my ex’s house and there was a note on the door, come to the garage. I walked out to find his friend behind the drum kit and him on guitar, he started playing the song, just for me. He and his friend had learned how to play it to surprise me because he knew how much I loved it. Whenever I hear that song I am transported back to that moment, sitting on a stool in his garage. That memory is not so painful, but some are.

If I was to make a play list of all the songs that have been ruined for me because of the emotional residue of my musical ex’s it would look something like this:

Three Libras – A Perfect Circle (my all time favorite song in high school)
You and Me – The Wannadies
Remember to Breathe – Dashboard Confessional
You Could Be Happy – Snow Patrol
No One’s Gonna Love You – Band of Horses
Stars – Humm
Maybe I’m Just Tired – As Tall As Lions
Tear You Apart – She Wants Revenge
Like Knives – City and Colour
What Would You Say – Dave Matthews Band
Angeles – Elliot Smith
Go Easy – As Tall As Lions
Me On Your Front Porch – Criteria
Miss You – Coconut Records
Orestes – A Perfect Circle
Tisbury Lane – Mae
Closer – Tegan and Sara
Ape Dos Mil – Glassjaw
This Ruined Puzzle – Dashboard Confessional
Hey There Delilah – Plain White Tees
Love Will Tear Us Apart – Joy Division
Mainline Life – Criteria
Passenger – Deftones
Dreaming My Dreams – The Cranberries

The thing is emotional residue from love and friendships past don’t just attach to songs, they attach to spaces and inanimate objects.. Every part of life is vulnerable. Emotional residue is really sticky, it can permeate all kinds of surfaces and ruin things that you used to love. The relationship ends and you lose not only this person you loved but all these other things you loved as well. Books, places, other people, parts of town, clothing, times of day, days of the week, words..

What I can say, from my own experience, is that with time the residue seems to wash off in some cases. Some things were covered a little too thick and they may never come clean, some things will always hold the energy of that person, that time in your life. In some cases though eventually the love of the song or place or book or part of town proves to be stronger than the love of the person who ruined it for you and you get it back. Or at least it doesn’t hurt when the memory pops up.

stars

 

Boundaries are Hard in Families

The title of this post are words taken from my mother’s mouth. This is what she said to me tonight while we were speaking by phone, and she is right.

I am tired. I stayed up later than intended watching Project Runway and I am ready to crawl into bed. My babies are in bed waiting for me to join them and almost every piece of my being is dying to go fall into my husband’s arms. When I got up and started turning off lights and locking up one piece of me rose to the surface and started getting really noisy. She needs a voice and it cannot wait for tomorrow.

I have mentioned before how some stories prefer to be told in the darkness, I think that is why some of us lay awake at night troubled with deep thoughts. Dark pieces, shadow pieces, feel safest in the dark AKA night time.

I mentioned that over the holiday there was family drama that hubs and I have not engaged in.. I have not decided how much I am willing to share yet.. I am processing while I write..

What I can say is that a few years ago I made the decision that there was an extended family member I needed distance from. Every time we (hubs and I) were around this person at family gatherings they made us uncomfortable. It was really more than that though, I cannot put my finger on it, it was something I felt on a intuitive level, there was bad energy coming off of this person, I felt bad and negative when I had to be around them.

Hubs and I made ourselves scarce for a while. We did not attend as many family gatherings with extended family and were choosy about how we engaged with the extended family (specifically who we spent time with and when).

At first my mother attempted to lay a massive guilt trip on me about this but I (we) were stead fast. I have said for a long time that I do not believe in forced anything, including obligatory familial relationships. I have written about this in the past. Well after about 6 months or so this person was at the center of an enormous family controversy and most of the rest of my extended family began distancing themselves as well.

Suddenly no one was giving hubs and I shit for our decision to create this physical boundary we had created. Go figure.

As time has gone on it seems this person has either consciously or unconsciously made more and more decisions that would result in their further isolation from the family, not my concern honestly.

The extended family has up to this point been patient with this person, polite (in most cases), and towed the line. This I believe has mostly been in the interest of not upsetting my aging grandmother who loves her family and would be hurt by any fracture within the family system. So the ever growing crack has been ignored, until now.

Something happened this week and this person has very openly waged war against another family member. Our once dysfunctional but connected family has now been ripped in half and everyone is scrambling to pick a side. It is hysteria. The emotional fallout for some is extreme. Family members are feeling pressure to choose between their relationship with their siblings and their sons/daughters, or their son and grandson, or their niece and nephew.

My extended family, like many, has always experienced a level of dysfunction but it has been manageable up to this point. The pressure of the obligatory relationship, the guilt of disappointing the matriarch (my grandmother), plus religion and familial bonds have kept the family together up to this point. It appears all this has dissolved leaving nothing but confusion, pain, and a massive power struggle.

My parents are caught smack in the middle of the mess. Hubs and I immediately stepped back as a way to preserve our relationship and sanity, this is not ours to deal with. My parents could do the same, it is not theirs either technically, but I know they will not. Doing so would mean they would have to “abandon” family members and I know they will not do it. I put quotations around the word abandon because I want to highlight that it is what I believe their perception is but maybe not necessarily what is objectively true.

Hubs and I have offered emotional support via phone to my parents. I am not willing to get any closer to the eye of this storm than that right now. We have changed our New Years Eve plans and will not be with family now. It is not that I do not love and support my family, I am just not willing to insert myself into a situation that is a raging emotional disaster and none of my business.

This will blow over in time, or it won’t. Either way hubs and I will make decisions over time about what our boundaries will look like as things progress. Our boundaries on this have allowed us to continue to enjoy our time off together even as this fire rages on. I am not the fire department, I cannot extinguish this flame, and I cannot save anyone who does not want to be saved.

I feel good about how hubs and I have been able to offer help, and how I personally have been able to support my parents emotionally. Tonight we talked for a while and I felt good about the conversation, I tried to help them step back from the situation and see it from different angles. At the end of the conversation my mother mentioned how they really need me around right now. This was in reference to me letting them know earlier in the day that we have decided not to come over on New Years Eve. When I originally told her we would not be coming I explained it was because we had made other plans, which is true. When she brought it up again I explained about the boundaries we have set for ourselves right now and that we would more than likely be observing these boundaries until the situation is under better control. We are not willing to get sucked in and this is undoubtedly the only thing my family will be talking about on New Years Eve. We are not interested in starting our New Year in that energy.

I invited my parents over for dinner at our house, and told them we could make other plans with just them but that we would not be spending time with the rest of the family while this situation is fresh.

I could tell be her tone that my mother was disappointed. After years of setting and maintaining healthy boundaries in that relationship though she has learned I cannot be swayed once I have made up my mind.

I love my family very much. It hurts my heart that we are experiencing a fracture on this level. For me there is no love lost on the individual that in my eyes has created this fracture, it does not make the situation any less sad though. This person is experiencing disconnection and has been for such a long time and it has now led to this. Hurt people hurt people, that is what taking place in my family right now. I hope in time this wound is able to be healed, for some if not all of my family members. I am hopeful, I know many do not share my optimism. It will be up to each person to decide how they are going to show up in this moment of time in our family’s history. Personally I am thinking of my grandfather, the patriarch that passed away years ago. I think it would hurt his heart as well to see his family in this state. I believe individually we are all better than this and are capable of the kind of love that heals deep hurts. I hope that collectively we can get there.

You and Me Against the World

you-and-me

I am so grateful for my husband. This is true everyday but some days that gratitude feels amplified.. Today, this week, has been one of those times.

We have been talking about our future recently, long term and short term, and all  I can say is again just how grateful I am to be walking through this life with him by my side.

We are making plans for a vacation in the spring/summer to celebrate my graduating with my Master’s degree. There is a trip that has been on my bucket list my entire life, it is the trip of my lifetime, the one I have always dreamed of, and we are planning it. It will by a light at the end of the tunnel for me as I finish my last semester in grad school.

His parents are coming to visit in a month or two, so looking forward to that!

Hubs and I have had the last week off together and still have another week together before he returns to work. It has been mostly bliss. There has also been a bit of drama brewing in my family which have made sure to distance ourselves from. We love our families but we are quite clear on the separation between our life together and their lives. We can love our families and not get pulled in to situations that have nothing to do with our life.

The situation that has come up in my family has given hubs and I opportunity to process together and discuss our life together and what we want it to look like going forward. I have always been the black sheep of my family, I do not see that changing, I am just thankful that I am walking through life with a partner who has the same perspective on family and what we want our own budding family to look like.

I have mentioned that I feel this next year will be transformative for me, I think part of that might be he and I redefining what the word family means to us. The very thought of it makes me feel calm.

I am so excited about this next year. I feel more sure about the greatness it will hold than I ever have in my entire life. I feel myself on the cusp of greatness. I feel my relationship with this amazing human being I love on the cusp of greatness. I feel something powerful is coming. I am open, I am ready, and I am grateful.

You had me at Circuitous

vegetable-isle

This morning hubs and I went early to the grocery. We wanted to beat the crowds and get this errand out of the way for the day. We have a routine at the store, he hits the deli for the stuff he wants, I go straight for the produce section and wander. He gets the dairy, I get the grains, and then we are out the door by way of the tea isle in case anything interesting is on sale.

Today we were not in sync. We did not follow our routine and I cannot even tell you why. He was in grains and I was wandering in canned vegetables, we were all over the place. Then Madonna came on and I was dancing in the paper good isle while he tried to ignore me and select the perfect plastic storage bag.

Finally I found my way to the produce section where he later joined me. He approached me somewhat disgruntled and interrupted my apple inspecting to comment on how I chose the most circuitous route around the grocery, or something to that effect, I honestly stopped listening after circuitous. I put down the Granny Smith, gave him my full attention (at this point he began to smile because he knew what was coming), and said I love you so hard I would marry you all over again right here, right now, in the middle of the produce section. He just laughed, we kissed, and finished our shopping.

Shadows and Reflections

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Over the summer when our soul friend was visiting she and I stayed up most of the night her first night talking about everything. I was thinking about her today while I was on campus.

There is a colleague in the program who seems to be triggering a lot of people, at one point I was included in that. I feel like once a week at least I am hearing something about him, there are lots of stories swirling around. At first I really struggled with him as well but I processed it in therapy one week and realized what the trigger was for me, since then it is much easier for me to have compassion for him. Each time someone is venting about him I encourage them to figure out what their own work is around him. We are not triggered for no reason, he is bringing us all our work and that is what this post is about.

When I am triggered I usually know it. My feminist piece shows up, or I might become more sarcastic, or I might curse more, or I get really passionate in general however that manifests.. Look at the last post I wrote before this one, it is a perfect example. I know I was triggered while writing it, you can feel the energy shift in a post like that versus a post where I am processing something from a less emotional place.

There is nothing wrong with being triggered, it happens to everyone. When it happens for me I look at it as an opportunity to do my work. For example, I may have already written about this I do not remember, with this colleague.. I processed my being triggered by him with my therapist and realized it was specifically his insecurities that I was being triggered by. I was triggered because this aspect of him showed me a piece of myself that I do not love or have a great relationship with. I am insecure too and do exactly what this guy does, I try to hide it or overcompensate in some way to make up for it.

That is how triggers work. Our triggers show us what we should be working on. If someone triggers us it has less to do with that person and more to do with us, whether we want to admit that or not is a whole other thing. When this happens it is usually time to pause and ask ourselves what is this person showing me about myself that I do not want to see right now?

triggers

This happened to me today which is why I bring this up. I was walking between classes with a colleague and this colleague was sharing the latest scandal with me about this other colleague (the one who triggers so many people). Apparently he said something that offended a lot of people, it sounds like he was passing judgement based on his own biases. She was upset about it and I was thinking to myself, that is probably where her work is.. I do understand how what happened is upsetting and offensive, I also understand that part of the reason we get upset and offended in these kinds of situations is because they remind us of pieces of ourselves we do not want to be reminded of.. Our shadow pieces..

Shadow pieces are the darker sides of ourselves people hide and try to deny they have.. They are our manipulative pieces, our jealous pieces, our judging pieces, etc.. Everyone has these pieces, some maybe larger or smaller etc but they exist in everyone and we REALLY do not like to be reminded of them which is why people like Donald Trump trigger so many people. We do not like to be reminded that we all have a little inner Donald Trump in us somewhere. Go ahead and deny it, but he is in there buried in all of us.

So for my friend I was thinking about how she might need to work on her relationship with the parts of herself that judge other people because right now those pieces are being super triggered by the judgement they witnessed this colleague pass.

This work is not super fun I am going to be honest with you. No one is super interested in getting to know their manipulative parts, most people want to deny they even exist. It is so much easier to walk around being offended and triggered and not having any ownership over it. I am not even saying there is anything wrong with it, it is how most people function and who am I to question that. I am merely pulling back a curtain to reveal something a little deeper that is there beneath the surface for anyone who is interested.

Take away from this what you want, even if it is nothing.

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