boundaries

boundaries

The biggest lesson I’ve learned, after letting go of my ex-love, is this: my lack of boundaries with him cost me incredible amounts of pain.

When we were together, I gave myself to him on a level I’d never given anyone, and when we moved into a friendship, even though he’d withheld emotionally or disregarded many of my requests to communicate differently in the relationship, I somehow assumed, in a friendship, we would do alright. 

What actually happened was his pre-occupation with his own life and his withholding emotionally increased. While he was busy getting his life back on track after our breakup (while still sleeping with me, if the opportunity provided), I was on the same track for my own life (while still sleeping with him, if the opportunity provided), yet those times together, after the breakup, were times I remained open to possibility, and I allowed things to unfold. And what happened was I allowed myself to fall in love even more, from a realistic standpoint, while he continued to exclude me from what he felt he needed, from a realistic standpoint.

He’d given me plenty of red flags about dating other people again in the future. And slept with me, then said it was unrealistic to be together. Part of me thought I should put my boundaries up and walk away. The other part wanted to remain friends.

And that’s what I did, I remained his friend, while continually trying to untangle my deeper heart strings from him.

And now I’m in a situation where he’s dating again and it’s a bitch. Not because I don’t want him to be happy. I do. For one thing, it was the way he handled letting me know about his first date. He was so flippant, then away from his phone much of that day. I’d responded to his text, asking about the date, and it took him hours to respond. Yes, I know he was out and about, but it was a first-time, sensitive situation.

He didn’t handle it with care. Only more flippancy and absence. I’d been his “little bit of sunshine” he could put in his back pocket and take out again whenever he wanted. At least that’s how it felt that day. But if I’m honest, it’s also a bitch because while remaining his friend, my feelings grew while his waned.

“Why did he owe you anything?” you ask. “You were broken up!” (I won’t insert the famous Ross quote, from Friends…)

Because, despite being broken up, we were friends with a lot of depth between us. And this is exactly my point: I thought the depth would translate to him somehow letting me know the special person I was in his life, even though he was dating again. But instead, the way he mentioned it so nonchalantly made me feel insignificant in his life. And then later, on get-aways with her, he’d shut his phone completely off until the next day. I was an outsider.

I had embodied the phrase “fool for love.” I had believed he’d take care of my heart, if we were to remain friends. Somehow I believed if I kept a sacred space for him in my heart, despite breaking up, that he would too. But that’s not how it played out. I guess it seems obvious… if he wouldn’t meet me halfway emotionally in a relationship, why would he in a friendship? I just thought a friendship would be less complicated… maybe it would have been if my heart strings weren’t still tangled up. 

We were both confused and terrible at defining the boundaries… which didn’t help avoid hurt feelings. I felt used and not truly cared for quite often. Truth is, he hasn’t been in love with me for a long time, even when sleeping with me, but I didn’t realize how unbalanced it was until far too late, and I ended up hurt.

I’ve learned, even with those we love, when we see red flags and continuous patterns of behavior that don’t work for us, they are there for a reason, and we need to be responsible for protecting ourselves so our hearts don’t become mashed up globs of bloody mush.

It’s difficult to remain friends when feelings are at different levels. But I can honestly say I’ve tried my best.

Maybe he’ll always see me as the woman from our past relationship rather than finding ways to make a friendship work for both of us. 

But maybe not.

Yeah, like I said, “fool for love.”

First off, I need to pull a quote from this article that made me laugh at loud:

“From an Attachment Theory perspective, victims tend to be anxious-attachment types, and savers tend to be avoidant-attachment types. Or as I like to call them: crazy people and assholes. Both often push away secure-attachment types.”

Yeah, that would sum me and my ex-love up! I was the crazy one, he was the asshole.

The author goes on to say, “For the victim, the hardest thing to do in the world is to hold themselves accountable for their feelings and their life rather than others. They’ve spent their whole existence believing they must blame others in order to feel any intimacy or love, so letting that go is terrifying.

For the saver, the hardest thing to do in the world is to stop fixing other people’s problems and trying to force them to be happy and satisfied. For them, they’ve spent their whole lives only feeling valued and loved when they were fixing a problem or providing a use to someone, so letting go of this need is terrifying to them as well.”

If you read my two sections above, you are fully clued into how unhealthy this relationship with my ex-love was. There are many healthy, thriving parts in my ex-love and me separately, but somehow, putting us together, with our different communication styles and love languages, we were a disaster, time and again.

The article tells us personal boundaries and self-esteem go hand in hand. People with high self-esteem have high boundaries… but wait a minute… I’ve worked hard on my self-esteem and feel it’s pretty good, yet my boundary with my ex-love was so flimsy! How could that have been?

After analyzing it, I realize it’s because my boundaries tend to weaken with those I truly love. This should not be the case, and I’m working on it. In this case, I wanted his heart to change, for him to want to be together again, even while trying to be friends. Meanwhile, I was getting bruised and battered emotionally, while waiting for something to change… instead, I should have put up my boundary when he indicated he didn’t want to try again. I should have walked away instead of being friends because my feelings were too invested in wanting more.

Better late than never.

The article tells us to accept who we are (none of us are perfect), while working on ourselves. And if we’re in a relationship where one partner wants us to do something, like, for example, call the other person everyday for three minutes, etc., we should only do it if it’s something we’re willing to do, to make the other person happy. We shouldn’t do it if it will cause resentment on our end or if we’re afraid of their reaction if we don’t.

The article wraps up by telling us, “A person with strong boundaries understands that a healthy relationship is not controlling one another’s emotions, but rather each partner supporting each other in their growth and path to self-actualization.”

Side note: I texted him, to let him know I’m working on my boundaries and that I realized I should have left long ago. Instead of saying something in return like, “Wish I could have handled that convo about my lunch date with that girl in a way that didn’t hurt you,” he said, “Thanks for sharing that. And of course I wish you well too.” Then a hug emoji.

At first I was like, “Fuck you!” He couldn’t offer the kind of response I indicated in the previous paragraph, something to show he wished his actions hadn’t hurt me. Then I had a flash of realization. “Of course he didn’t! That’s part of why we didn’t work out!” I’ve realized, even though he’s not responsible for my feelings, I need someone who is more tuned into sharing feelings. And I’m not giving my power away to him anymore, handing over my emotions to him, based on his lack of investment.

Read this article in its entirety, for more on boundaries.

the girl on the mat

the girl on the mat

I remember one particularly bad day when I worked as a financial broker. The job brought to me a feeling of sadness and disregard. And although I’d been trying to change my job situation, interviewing with other companies, nothing had come of it yet… so, I was still working at the company I called the Green Monster.

I grew a lot, but still had so far to go in the area of not allowing that job to rule my state of mind and emotions.

I won’t go into details as to why that day was so frustrating, but trust me, you would get it.

It basically came down to feeling like the company thought it could determine when I could have time off, even though I’d earned the hours. It was a continual struggle, trying to get small allotments of time off. Slave to the company, the job, the grind. And, in addition to this point of contention, the job was filled with metrics and comparisons between colleagues.

I thrive when I can be self-empowered within a role and grow at my own pace, not constantly compared to others. Not threatened by metrics. Not told that unless my numbers are precisely this or that, I’ll never get promoted. 

Combine this type of frustration from the job with the angst of not knowing what I’d be doing in the future, where I’d be living, who I’d be loving down the road, and I was ripe for becoming a true basket case. It just didn’t seem fair, I’d gone through a lot, just to be in a place of wondering if it was where I was supposed to stay for the long haul. I still loved two people, one made sense in my current life set up, the other one didn’t. But love is love. It remains, it doesn’t care about life set ups or conveniences. It cares about touch, communication and connection.

So, that night at yoga I went through the motions, and it felt good to stretch and bend. I followed the instructor’s directions, but with a head full of thick angst.

And then finally, near the end of class, it was time for Savasana, the resting pose, and I grabbed the blanket next to me and draped it over my body. I felt my back press into the mat. The blanket warmed me, my arms relaxed by my sides. 

Thankfully, within the presence of silence, I began to experience that magical grounded feeling. Peacefulness began to fill me up, calm floated into my mind, and an inner strength I wanted to hold onto embodied me. It was so empowering, to lie there with others in the quiet, on our mats, and allow the silence to fill us up with peace and inner strength.

The girl on the mat, she’s who I want to be off the mat: grounded, centered, at peace, confident. “Just keep her with you, be her,” I thought, as I heard the instructor bring the class to a close. And for the rest of that night, I did. 

At bedtime I thought about the next day. How could I wake up and reclaim the strength I was feeling that evening? How could I allow peace and self-awareness to lead me through the next day, rather than trepidation, intimidation and weariness, while working?

I knew life would continue to throw curveballs, but that inner peace— it needed to stick around. I needed to be her all the time, or at least be a little more her everyday.

But I guess that’s why we continue to go to the mat. To refuel. To not expect it to last forever. 

If I could just be the girl on the mat more often than not, how enjoyable would life be? More so than it had been, I knew that.

So, please, that day and everyday, for as long as I can, I want to remain the girl on the mat, while living my life off it.

The author writes, “Savasana, or corpse pose is a peak pose. It isn’t just filler time or time to grab a quick nap before hustling back to our busy lives. The purpose of savasana is to learn to just be, a colossal challenge. Savasana can be practiced in many ways, including focusing awareness on the breath or guided muscle relaxation. The mind has a tendency to wander or check out and go to sleep, but the practice of savasana trains our minds to observe and be aware of the stillness inherent in each and every moment. In savasana, we relax into the room, the mat, and ourselves and then try to let go of everything surrounding us. We release internal thoughts and move into a place of non-judgmental acceptance and awareness. This time of mindfulness is beneficial to every part of our being.”

I know from personal experience, savasana has done just as much, if not more, good for me than any yoga stretch or pose. There’s something to be said for lying on the mat, to just be.

This article also talks about research suggesting the practice of mindfulness transforming the brain, perhaps putting us in touch with our bodies and spirits in ways we might not imagine.

Click here to read the informative article!

lemonade

lemonade

I wonder how many people think to themselves, “Am I on the right path, true to myself ?” And if so, how many times a day do they wonder? 

I’ve just returned from a family vacation. My ex and I took our two sons to DisneyWorld and had a great time! I’m happy we could do that for them, and it’s all because we reconciled, rejoined households, and I took a job in an industry I never thought I’d work in. This has put us in a much better financial position, but I find myself once again wondering about both decisions: to reconcile and take the job. Fuck!

How did I end up being such an uncertain, waffling woman who can’t make up her mind about what or who she wants to stick with?

This wasn’t me when I was younger; I was much more full of single-minded values and commitment to what I believed was right.

And now?

I don’t know if I’m with the right person or if I took the right job. And yet, now I live in a pretty house again, have money to take my kids on trips and a job that gives me the stability and income I need. I enjoy the investment industry I work in now, to some extent; but I don’t enjoy the micro-management, taking constant phone calls, or my corporate douche bag manager. And bottom line, I’m not writing enough… so, I’m selling myself and the world short.

Still, I know life is full of compromise. It’s packed full of squeezing lemons into lemonade, making the most out of Plan B, and not giving up.

As a young pre-teen, I attended a weekly Girl’s Auxiliary class (a Christian version of Girl Scouts/Etiquette hybrid course) at the church my family went to, and I remember painting a plaque in that class that has, evidently, stuck with me. It’s quite popular, but who knew the message would be something I’d write about years later? It said:

If you ask me, that’s pretty much life in a nutshell. What to keep, what to leave behind.

But it’s one thing to have it sculpted into a plaque; quite another to make the right call on a day-to-day basis. 

And to answer my question earlier, about how I became this uncertain person—I believe it’s from having grown up with moral religious codes I was forced to take on, without truly believing the codes worked for me. So, now I’m spending my adult years shaking off the unauthentic bits, leaving a messy trail of discarded beliefs that sometimes trip me up.

And then, throw in my contemplative, artistic personality, rather than one that thrives on facts and numbers, and we’ve got the makings for a scene ripe with dissatisfaction and longing for greener grass.

Maybe the plaque is just another way of saying, “Help me discern when the grass really is greener on the other side and when it isn’t,” especially for dreamer personalities like mine. 

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, life is full of pros and cons. It’s difficult (if not impossible) to acquire all positives and lose all negatives in any given situation.

Move to a warmer climate, you may also deal with humidity & hurricanes. Leave one job with a horrible boss, you may receive less vacation time at the next gig. Break up with one partner, who is overly sarcastic but generous with money, to find out your next lover withholds emotionally and is less able to splurge on a much-needed vacation… you get the gist.

So how do we know when the grass is really greener? I dare say we create a list of pros and cons before moving forward, but many times the truth of it is, we don’t know the up and downsides until we are smack dab in the middle of the situation, experiencing it. And that’s where resilience comes into play… or learning how to turn lemons into lemonade. 

This article is a gem. If you’ve ever wondered about the “Grass is Greener Syndrome” like I have, you will want to read what this author has to say. He explores our tendency to not be content with what we have.

I love it when human behavior is explained as part of our evolutionary process. And this author does just that. He writes, “Ancestral humans lived in small groups and competed for scarce resources. If the resources are scarce and you want to survive, you need to have a psychological mechanism to motivate you to seek more and more.

At the same time, you need to have a tendency to grow dissatisfied with what you have.

These psychological mechanisms worked together to motivate early humans to seek more resources than they had. If resources were scarce and completion for them was tough, a psychology that allowed them to be content with what they had would’ve endangered their survival.”

I wonder to what extent socio-economic factors weigh into this, too. I didn’t grow up with wealth, and I wonder if wealth affects one’s ability to feel contentment as an adult.

The author goes on to say the goal of living organisms is to pass on their genes to the succeeding generations, and, as life expectancies increase, more resources are left for our children and grandchildren, increasing odds to survive and reproduce. He explains this is another reason why people seek to accumulate more resources.

The article explains we compare ourselves with our peers, generally, rather than a celebrity, etc., but if you become a celebrity, then you compare yourself with other celebrities. Our ancestors lived in smaller groups, but now we are exposed to far greater amounts of people who we can compare our resources with, so this can lead to an increased tendency to be dissatisfied. An interesting point the author makes is, “It’s even present in siblings as they have to compete with each other for their parents’ resources.”

One thing this article doesn’t cover is how much our upbringing plays into our self esteem as adults. If we’re praised and encouraged continously as a child, does that increase our chances of believing we have within ourselves to acquire the things we think will make us happy? Or if we’re treated poorly by a parent, do we have more of a tendency to feel inferior to others in regards to getting the things we think will bring us happiness?

I’d say how we’re parented does influence a feeling of self-sufficiency or inferiority, until we realize, no matter our background, we each have something unique to offer the world. No one is the same.

“Being grateful isn’t something that comes easily to people which is why wisdom traditions repeatedly teach people to be grateful,” the author writes. “So, if these traditions teach people gratefulness, then people have a tendency to be ungrateful. If these traditions teach people not to covet their neighbours’ resources, then people have a tendency to covet their neighbours’ resources.”

The thing is:

Sometimes the grass IS greener on the other side! Which brings back the quote on the plaque I painted as a young girl… determining when making a change truly improves your life is key here.

The author writes, “… It’s not always a good thing to be content with what you have. If you believe you can achieve more, and that doing so can bring you lasting happiness, you should go for it. If your present conditions are unsatisfactory, you should seek to improve them.”

The author then explains we have limited energy and that going stubbornly after one thing might cause you to ignore the other things you already have.

“It’s up to you to decide what you want,” he writes. “Only you can decide to what degree you need to be ambitious and where you need to draw the line. The challenge is to determine whether your cravings are reasonable or whether you’re simply falling prey to your psychological tendencies- tendencies that ultimately only harm your well-being.”

Oh, is that ALL? That easy, is it! No wonder my former love and I thought we had something greener, just to end up flat on our faces… with our evolutionary tendencies and different backgrounds, bringing true improvement into our lives is not always that easy!

But no self-judgment! Let’s just learn our lessons, dust ourselves off, and keep going!

to read the article in its entirety, click here…

self soothing

self soothing

Today I woke feeling an intense need for alone time, out in the world, but what to do?

Only one day off remaining in the weekend and so many options on a beautiful Sunday… a hike in the mountains high on the list, but that would suck up most of the day and leave little time for this writing, equally important. A walk around a near-by reservoir, maybe, or a drive… or a coffee shop & latte then walk later on the neighborhood trail, after some writing… this is what I landed on. And here I am.

I’m feeling a bit like a hopeless case today. Caught smack dab in the middle between wanting my family back together and missing the hell out of spending time with my former lover. You can judge. I don’t care. And before you start thinking I’m heartless for saying that, let me explain: when I went through my divorce, I was surprised to find it difficult to find honest help or advice on the internet, without someone wanting to be paid.

One time I emailed a divorce therapist who sent back an obvious automated reply with typos, misspelling my first name, even, yet sure to include the hefty fee for counsel, should I take on their services.

Needless to say, that response was immediately deleted, and it was at that moment I decided if I were to create this website, I would keep it real and not let that slimy thing called shame keep me from telling the truth. This site exists for the tough, private goings-on-in-the-heart, not the everyday chitter chatter you can have with any work colleague.

I realized, while waiting in line for my latte, this need to separate from “this or that” today stems from a need to maintain a sense of me, since one end of my inner sanctum finds comfort in my family, the other my former love.

Solution seems easy enough doesn’t it. Stop talking to him, the former love. Cut the ties. Delete the apps. Oh, I’ve done that multiple times, believe me. Then reinstall the apps. And say hello and banter once again. Truth is, he feels as necessary to life in my soul as my ex-husband and family unit. So then my mind spirals into, “Why, why couldn’t we have made it work? Why did it have to be too much for us?” But then I realize again it was an impossible situation when the money wasn’t there and he wasn’t prepared or willing to meld into a unit that could take on two kids…

It’s the countless texts sent between my former love and me… the texts where conversations are fulfilling, when expectations dissolve and we allow things to be as they are, that make our relationship mind-blowingly great. 

But then it’s the never-ending exchanges where simple communication expectations breakdown that leave me feeling completely depleted and sad. Simple exchanges where he asks how I am, I answer and then don’t get a response for ample amounts of time. He has a continuous way of starting a conversation and dropping it again because of real life projects and work, which is understandable from time to time but absolutely life-sucking when it happens as frequently as it does.

The last time this happened, when he asked me how I was and I responded, only to not receive another reply for a significant amount of time, I finally flat out asked for what I want: “Hey, if someone initiates an open-ended ‘how are you,’ what do you think about staying around in the conversation to complete the exchange before moving on?” Since text is all we use, btw, to communicate…

But nooooo, the answer given back: “Or how about you learn to be patient and know I’ll respond when I can, especially with this next month’s worth of projects coming up that will be pulling me in more than ever?”

As if I don’t have responsibilities, household chores, children, exercise and work obligations… but yet I make myself available to immediately answer an exchange, if I initiated a ‘how are you.’ And the truth of it is, he always has those projects that take precedence over a simple response to a text.

I’m caught in the middle of this and although I’m still functioning alright, it hurts. I can’t be with two people at once, two people I love equally but in different ways, but real love for both just the same. One man, father of my children, willing to meet my needs as a partner, the other not willing to be tied to a texting protocol. Is it really too much to ask? Yes. And that’s why our relationship didn’t work. Because rather than meeting me half way on my connection needs, my former love thinks I’m needy and demanding.

So here I sit, typing, feeling better to share with you the imperfections of my life and grateful to at least know how to step away from it all and nurture myself, give myself what I need when others in my life can’t or won’t do the same.

“If you can’t change the circumstances, change your perspective.” ~Unknown

The author of this article, Khrystle Rea, begins by telling us we like to feel we are in control of our lives, but when it comes to relationships, there is always the other person.

She’s had a difficult relationship with her father; he’s had a hard time being present in her life, so this is the relationship she writes about in the article. Unlike her, I had a father who stuck around. Can’t imagine how hard that would be, to have a father who is MIA, but my heart goes out to those who have experienced this.

She goes on to say, “In a relationship, you can’t be the puppeteer. People have their own emotions, behaviors, actions, beliefs, scars, wounds, fears, dreams, and perspectives. They are their own person.”

Well, I found that to be true. With my former love, I was so naive, thinking just because he had amazing qualities my ex-husband didn’t have, he’d have all the amazing qualities my ex did have. Doesn’t work like that.

The author writes, “In healthy relationships there are certain expectations, like being treated well or being respected. Yet sometimes we find ourselves in relationships that don’t mirror what we anticipate to happen. We may feel hurt or used.

We cannot expect other people to treat us as we would treat them. We cannot assume anything or force change upon someone who clearly demonstrates he or she is stuck in his or her own way.

With eyes full of clarity, I am capable of changing the relationships in my life by adjusting my point of view.”

So what does this mean, to change our point of view? The author goes on to say how she was continually hurt by her father’s absence in her life, how she was living in a fantasyland, and by adjusting her point of view, she alleviated hurt in her life.

“For the protection of my emotional body,” she says, “I changed my perception from what I hoped would happen, to being open to experience whatever actually happens.”

Then she goes on to list the five steps she followed to come to peace with the type of relationship she has with her father. I highly recommend reading her five steps. She’s able to write about them candidly.

Click here to be taken to the article for the five steps.

I know one of my biggest lessons in remaining friends with my former love is learning how to accept what is. Accept him for who he is. Realize those differences are why we are friends and not lovers.

Also, to sink into the loving relationships around me that do offer a healthy “give and take,” and, most importantly, to truly love myself.