Readjusting

I picked J up on Saturday.  It was good to see him, a little anxiety provoking, but good nonetheless.  Over the weekend, I just tried to keep things very neutral.  He’s got some severe jet lag and it is apparent that we are on two very different planes of communication.  I think this is due in large part to the fact that I have been in individual and group therapy.  So, I didn’t really think it would be productive to delve into relationship issues right away.

To the communication/perception issues, we’ve been having this discussion about him possibly working internationally since we first found it was a possibility in January of last year.  Even then I told him I thought it was a bad idea for a number of reasons, one of the main being that he wanted to start a family but would be gone for a month and back for two weeks.  I told him that wasn’t going to happen and told him why.  He wanted me to consider it.  Now, he has the opportunity to do a rotation in Nigeria.  I know he wants to do it, but I feel that it is a bit unrealistic given the current state of our relationship and the fact that he STILL wants to have kids.

I have worked in higher education for a number of years and prior to coming here, I had to give up an amazing job so that J could take a job with the company that he wanted to work for.  I told him that my former boss called me about a job (not the first time he’s called me) and that we had an interesting conversation that ended in my former boss telling me that he would want me to come work has his Chief of Staff with a tenure-track faculty appointment if/when he gets a presidential appointment (which he will in about a year or two).  Basically all could ever want professionally.  We were talking about this over breakfast on Sunday.  The short of it is that J told me that he doesn’t want to change industries and that he doesn’t want to leave his current job for the next 5 years; basically saying that he isn’t supportive of this opportunity.  He’s supportive if it means he doesn’t have to sacrifice, but if he does, he’s not supportive, you know?  I reminded him of everything I gave up (two orchestra job offers so he could stay in school and didn’t have to transfer and most recently, a job that I loved so that he could take a job he wanted).

I think this just goes to show that we are not thinking on the same plane.  He’s got a lot of work to do in terms of understanding my needs.  I didn’t go to school for 11 years, get a Ph.D. and work my ass off to become a broodmare for someone who thinks it is completely acceptable to leave me for a year/year .5  (one month off, two weeks back) while pregnant or with an infant.  So, we’ve a lot of work to do.  lol.

I’m meeting with my therapist today and am looking forward to it.  J is supposed to meet with him before we meet as a couple, but J doesn’t really like the idea.  I get the impression that he still doesn’t understand that there are some really big issues that need to be addressed.  In his mind, he’d rather just sweep the last few months under the rug and more forward without finding the right way to move forward.

I’m really trying to be open to this and to him so that I can make the best decisions moving forward.  I want to give him the “handicap” since he’s basically just been working and living it up in Europe.  We’ll see.  I’ll keep you posted about how he takes to reality.

~AA

 

10 years ago…

Ten years ago I graduated from my undergraduate work.  I work at a university so this time of year always brings back fond memories.  I cannot believe so much time has passed.  It is so hard to see how much we have changed and all that we’ve endured unless we take the moment to do so.   Here are ten things I’ve learned since graduation:

  1. Your parents want what what they think will increase happiness and decrease pain, not necessarily what is best for you.  They do this through the lens of parent love, but their wishes and hopes for you may not be what is in your best interest.  Take it with a grain of salt, consider their love for you, and do what you feel is in your best interest, not what will make them happy (I’m still learning to do this).
  2. Education is always beneficial, but it doesn’t matter what your degree is in… as long as you finish it.  So, make sure you spend the four years of college (or 11 in my case since I went on to get a PhD) studying something that inspires you.  You get a job through who you know and who you are as a person, not solely because you have the “right degree”… it doesn’t exist.  But being smart, creative, and an agile thinker will always serve you well.
  3. You will regret more of what you don’t do than of what you do.  It is better to make a move and make a mistake than to never move at all.  I saw a bumper sticker with the quote, “The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.” ~John Bingham  Amen to that!
  4. Don’t stoop to another person’s level.  Since entering into the “real world” I’ve realized there are a lot of lazy, lazy, lazy, uninspired people out there… don’t be one even if you find yourself surrounded by them.  They may make more than you, have a better office, have a better title, but at the end of the day you know that you did your job to the best of your ability and then some.  Always take pride in your work.
  5. Don’t compare yourself to others.  I am very guilty of looking at others and thinking, “wow, they must have it all, they must not have the demons in their head like I do”.  This is false.  All the perfect people and families you see on Facebook are just facades.  There is always more going on than you can imagine.  So don’t compare yourself to others.
  6. Learn to forgive yourself.  I have an easier time forgiving others than I do myself. It has been one of the hardest things for me to learn how to do and I’m still not good at it.  The compassion you show others should also be shown to yourself.
  7. Never lose your enthusiasm for life.  Marvel at a sunset, take time to smell the flowers blooming, be in wonder at the beauty of a butterfly, let music wash over you, jump for joy when you hear the ice cream truck, trick or treat, believe in Santa for the night, do everything that you did as a kid.  Just because your body ages doesn’t mean your soul has to.
  8. Great friends are there when you are at your worst and at your best.  They are there when you make mistakes, they are there when you are successful.  They provide support when your soul is crushed and they laugh when your spirit soars.  You will only find one or two that are truly great friends… count your blessings when you do.
  9. You will never stop learning who you are.  The 20’s were a wild ride and so far the 30’s have been a great period of self-discovery, but you will never “figure it all out” or have a complete understanding of what you need in this life.  But always make time to get to know yourself along the way.  You may be surprised at what you learn.
  10. Serenity.  I love the serenity prayer because it is so relevant, “grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”  The last part is the hardest for me… the wisdom to know the difference between that which I can change and that which I cannot change.

~AA

Ready… Set… GO!

So, J comes back this weekend.  I have been really anxious about it for the last few weeks, but I feel that I’ve come a long way and that I have some really great support from my friends and group.  I don’t feel like I’m as anxious about it as I’ve been in the past.  In a way I’m looking forward to being able to come to some resolution about the situation.

J is an engineer in the oil industry.  One of the things that we talked about when we first moved here is that he may have the opportunity to work expat.  I remember in early 2011 we were having this conversation.  He really wants to have children and so do I.  But I told him that we would have to wait until after he did the expat before we had kids because I didn’t want to be pregnant or have children alone.  I think I came off pretty firm about this.  His reaction was that I was basically not being very reasonable, that the money was really good (which it is), that it isn’t a big deal to be pregnant and by yourself.  (Much of this conveyed through patronizing remarks, tone, and boy language).  Prior to leaving for his most recent time overseas, before I told him I wanted a divorce, his “plans” included the option of me getting pregnant before he left (i.e. the first trimester alone).  I told him that was not going to happen.

Recently he brought up the fact that he has the opportunity to go expat starting in November.  Another element of this story is that his best friend, who he works with and has been in Europe with for the last three months, is going to go… although that “isn’t a factor”.  He told me on Monday that he thinks he needs to tell them ASAP if he is going to do this so that he doesn’t lose the opportunity.  I told him that considering all that has happened in the last few months, I cannot tell him “yes, go do this”, but if he needs to tell them yes and then back out later, that is his call.

First of all, given the state of our relationship, I find it almost comical that he thinks this is a good idea to even bring up.  Secondly, he’s still in the mindset that he wants kids ASAP, but doesn’t seem to really see the issue I have with being a single mother.  Why be married anyway?  I can get a sperm donor if I want one?  And why did I move here when I could be living where I want since he’s not going to be here anyway?  I guess I feel like I gave up so much to come here and I really didn’t need to.  Although, that isn’t to say that I’m not totally happy in this city and with my job, but you get the point.

So, I have a feeling we will have a lot of “Come to Jesus” meetings when he gets back.  It should be interesting.  I am hopeful, though.  I’ve found a great deal of strength within myself and have a better understanding of what my non-negotiables are in a relationship.

On a side note, I found out that one of my greatest mentors and friends had a heart attack yesterday.  He’s a marathoner, only 56, vegan and a very good friend.  He’s recovering in ICU.  But it reminds me that there is so little time and that we must do what we need to do because you never know if tomorrow will come.

Hope you are all having an inspired day!

~AA

Cinco de Mayo!

Happy Cinco de Mayo…A day that once celebrated Mexico’s defeat of French troops and that has subsequently  been bastardized into a day of drinking and food!  Oh well, I’ll take it.  My girlfriend B is on her way over and we’re going to head to the pool to do a little lounging, drinking, and eating.  I have to say that I am so very blessed to have some really amazing friends.  I don’t know what I’d do without them or where I’d be, honestly!  I think it very likely that I would have been committed without B’s care of me.

The last few months have been very difficult for me.  I feel like I’ve lost, lost, and lost some more and was threatened with the potential loss of one of the most important people in my life… my mom.  While I don’t believe in organized religion or the power of “God” with the capital “G”, I am so very, very thankful that my mom is doing well and I’m thankful for the pain and insight this journey has provided me.

Life, as we all know, is a journey with a lot of twists and turns.  Sometimes there are more and sometimes there are less, but they will always be there.  Life is not intended to be easy.   I believe it is intended to be a journey that transcends our physical bodies.  There is a religious saying that says something to the effect of, “God never gives you more than you can handle”.  I feel that this sentiment is true.  I have been put through the ringer these last few months, but I am stronger for it.  And I know that the next few months will be similarly difficult, but I have greater insight into my needs and myself to get me through this… insight that would not have happened without all the pain, fear, and loss.  One of my favorite sentiments from Buddhism:

Only to the extent that we expose ourselves to annihilation over and over
do we find that within us that is indestructible. 

And now it is time to go celebrate my little life by soaking up the warmth of the sun with a good friend.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

~AA

Silence

In general, and like many people, I have a really hard time turning my brain off.  Subconsciously anticipating a “bing” from my phone alerting me to an email, text message, Facebook notification, tweet, you name it!  I find it rather Pavlovian that we have conditioned ourselves to become slaves to technology.  This relationship that we have with technology has a direct impact on our emotional and psychological well being.  It is amazing.

So, in an effort to start releasing my brain from the clutches of my “bing”, I’ve started  a practice.  I turn my phone completely off after work and sometimes don’t turn it back on until the morning (although it is incredibly hard to do).  Sounds crazy, right?  It is one of the most freeing things I do!  Meditating while knowing that your phone is on, even in silent mode, is difficult.  I’m distracted by my expectation that there might, maybe, just possibly be someone sending you something that will give you that feeling of reward, what will they say!?  It is ridiculous.

Now, I’m fortunate enough to not have children, so I don’t feel pressure to be available for someone whose life might truly depend on me.  So, I don’t know how that type of situation would work.  But I have been living alone for the last few months and have this fear that someone might break in and my phone would be off… but I realized that the peace of mind that I get from not having it tug at me is WAY worth the minute possibility of someone breaking in in the middle of the night.

What do you to do decompress and unplug from the world?

~AA

Stop doing this to yourself….

I definitely need to engage in this more.  I was re-reading this article about 10 things to stop caring about today.  I can never understand why we are so wired to spend countless hours and emotional and physical energy on this stuff when much of it is out of our control!  Here is the list in short:

  1. Stop caring about everyone’s opinion of you.

  2. Stop caring about being politically correct.

  3. Stop caring about looking a certain way.

  4. Stop caring about what everyone else wants for you.

  5. Stop caring about the boundaries others set up.

  6. Stop caring about what everyone else has.

  7. Stop caring about the imaginary state of perfect.

  8. Stop caring about being right all the time.

  9. Stop caring about mistakes.

  10. Stop caring about things you can’t control.

I admit that I am very, very guilty of engaging in the aforementioned behaviors…particularly #’s 1, 4, 9, and 10 !

~AA

Little Girl

Tonight I went to my individual therapy session.   It was good and good timing considering what happened at group last night.  You know, one of the things that we talked about toward the end was how we have the adult us and the little girl (or boy).  The little girl part of us is the part that is wounded and scared.  So, my reaction to M and the fact that I need to “please” comes from my little girl.  The little girl I was when I was reliant on others for survival.  The little girl who wanted approval from my dad.  The little girl that was scared her brother might kill her.  The little girl who trusted, was used, and discarded by a man.

We talked about how I am no longer “that little girl”, but that she still is part of me and I give her power in certain situations like with J and with other personal relationships.  So when I feel rejected or invalidated, that little girl is the one that is fearful.  She’s the one with the anxiety and fear of not surviving.  This is opposite to me, my adult self, that knows I can take care of myself and I do not need anyone for survival.  But my adult self and my little girl live together in me.  She is the part of me that helps me to never lose my childlike enthusiasm for life.

The important thing to remember is that I am not trying to get rid of my little girl, merely learning how to live with her….how to coexist.  This makes sense to me.  So, my little girl and I need to learn how to play together.  And I need to make more time to really get to know her.

Who is your little girl (or boy)?

~AA

Meandering Thoughts

I feel like so much has happened over the last few months, weeks, days, yet I have a difficult time putting them into words… sometimes because I’m really busy, other times because I cannot remember what happened, exactly.  I seem to be doing really well at work, which is good, but I still struggle with my relationship issues.  I think that is where my greatest issues are.  I’m not very good at being vulnerable with people and it makes me very anxious to do so.  Last night in group I almost left because I was feeling so anxious about a response from one of my group members.  She didn’t attack me or anything, but more so dismissed what I was saying and sort of made me feel bad about saying what I did.  I literally almost freaked and left.  It was in that moment that I realized she represents some part of my relationship with J, and others, that triggers this in me.

There is one guy in my group who is a very good Imago match… as in, he is almost exactly like J.  So, I have a heightened response to him when he opens up in groups because I desire to hear or see those things in J.  It can be difficult, but it is also good for me to see.  M, the girl in my group who got to me yesterday, really makes me feel those times that I am dismissed and sort of invalidated–mostly by J.  I didn’t realize that until last night and it was very painful.  I was hot, tearing, couldn’t talk above a whisper.  Felt like I was either going to bolt or vomit or both.  The group encouraged me to talk about what I was feeling despite the fact that I didn’t want to, and I did, so it ended up being very good for me.  Very difficult, but good overall.  That’s one of the essential things I’m learning from group…to simply say what I need to say.  I listen to that John Mayer song “Say” a lot.  It is sort of my little mantra.

For those of you struggling with mental health issues, and I think most of us are if we were to be honest with ourselves, don’t be afraid to push yourself into the painful parts of therapy.  There will be good that comes out of it.  Being in a place where I can admit my fears openly and can admit my anxieties without fear of rejection is huge.

Take care of one another.

~AA

Small Steps

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I can be a better person.  The first thing I need to do is give myself some space in terms of forgiveness.  Yesterday cannot be changed, you can only focus on this very moment and how you will be tomorrow.  Why don’t we practice that a bit….

I forgive myself for my indiscretions.  All of them  They do not define who I am as a person or how much I truly care about others.  Forgiving myself does not mean that I am pretending that they did not happen, it merely means that I am choosing to move forward and no longer giving them the power to make me suffer.  Just like forgiving another, the act of forgiveness does not mean that I have forgotten, it means that I have chosen to no longer suffer because of that experience.

It is a small step, but one that I feel I needed to take.  And I might need to do this every day, every morning, until that little voice in my head has quieted.

~AA

A Friend To Yourself

I came across this question from a blog that I follow and I thought it very relevant:

If you had a friend that spoke to you in the same way that you sometimes speak to yourself,
how long would you allow that person to be your friend?

I have to say that I am very guilty of speaking to myself in a manner that I would not tolerate from others.  I think many of us are guilty of this, which is a shame.  In the end we are the ones that are there to take care of ourselves.  So, why do we spend so much time judging ourselves and speaking to ourselves in a manner that we would not even inflict upon those we dislike?  I have absolutely no idea why we are designed this way.

I think with time, consideration and patience we can learn to retrain how we speak to ourselves.  I’ve started doing this through meditation, therapy and through this blog.  For some reason getting it out of my head keeps me from damaging myself with negativity…. well, keeps me from doing it as much 🙂

  ~AA