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

 

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Shenpa

Shenpa is a Buddhist concept  that I’ve been spending a lot of time studying and contemplating recently.  I study mostly Pema Chodron’s teachings and this is a big construct for her.  Shenpa really causes us great pain and makes us continue to reach for ground.  The Tibetan translation is “attachment”, but the construct is much more.  It is about the sticky, clinging, distracting reactions that we are so hardwired to have to both external and internal thoughts, feelings, and actions.  I felt this was a good analogy of what shenpa is:

Here is an everyday example of shenpa. Somebody says a mean word to you and then something in you tightens— that’s the shenpa. Then it starts to spiral into low self-esteem, or blaming them, or anger at them, denigrating yourself.

I struggle with this a great deal… the experience of someone (even myself) saying/doing something mean or hurtful and the following spiraling down of low self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness that happen after.

One of the interesting things is shenpa’s relationship to meditation.  One of the goals of meditation is to learn to stay with feelings that we normally pull away from and to work to see our true minds and self.  Quite often during meditation we will have to face insights into ourselves and these insights are often of things that we might label “bad” or “wrong” even though it is never a good practice to label things as “good” or “bad” in general.  They just are.  So, ironically, the more insight we have into ourselves, the greater potential for shenpa to take hold and to bring us down.  It is a balancing act…awareness and acceptance without judgment.  Very difficult.

~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

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

The Worst

What’s  the worst that could happen?  Have you ever asked yourself this?  What is the worst that could happen right now for me in my relationship with J?  The worst thing that could happen is that is over for good.  Okay.  What’s the worst thing in the world that could happen to me?  The worst thing I can think of is losing all of the people I love and being alone, truly alone.

So, that gives me a little perspective in terms of how difficult my situation is.  I have it pretty good, to be honest.  I’m not a horrible person, as I like to judge myself to be.  I’m a human being that loves people, that has made mistakes, but is making an effort to better understand why I’m doing what I’m doing and making an effort to change.  I have friends who love me, I have my health, I have my education, I have drive, I have passion, I have freedom.

The last few weeks I’ve really recommitted to my running and it feels so go.  It is one of the most cathartic things I do.  I love the feeling of my body being strong.  It is also a time for me to mediate.  Running mediation.  I don’t know if it is a real thing, but it should be… like walking mediation, just faster.  I focus on my breath, my feet striking the ground, keeping my upper body relaxed, how my body mechanics are working by taking inventory of what muscles in my legs are doing the work and adjusting as needed.  It is a very liminal experience.  I focus on breathing in the smells and seeing the smallest elements of the world around me.  While I’m doing this, I often listen to music because it helps focus my mind.

Meditating in general can be very liminal.  The focus on specific things gets your mind prepped for meditative moments.  I think it is important to note that meditation doesn’t have to be done over long stretches of time, just doing it little by little and acknowledging those events will eventually lead to longer periods of meditation.  It will be episodic, especially when you are running while meditating.  Although in general your mind tends to be a bit episodic when doing sitting meditation as well.

~AA

Broken

I feel like there are so many parts of me that are broken and that, perhaps, they may never heal.  I am hopeful that they will.  That I will be stronger from all of  this.  This is more difficult than I ever thought imaginable.  I could not imagine doing this if there were children in the picture.  I feel like I’ve made so many mistakes, but that is part of life, right?  Mistakes are part of what makes life worth living.  They teach us things.  They force us to expand our hearts, to expand our ability to forgive.  Probably the most difficult thing is to forgive ourselves for our imperfections.  I have so much compassion for others, but the person I have the most difficult time forgiving is myself.  Why is that?

There are so many conflicting emotions.  I’m longing, alone, hopeful, strong, wishing to hold onto the past, wishing to move forward.  I went to my counselor today.  It was helpful.  I so needed to speak to someone.  To help me continue to move forward when all I want to do is give up.

Thank God for music.  It so resonates with me.  It helps me process the emotions that I cannot vocalize or put into writing.  Right now the song that is really sticking with me is Demi Lovato’s Skyscraper.  Some may think it too “pop”, but she’s been through so much and completely gets the underlying point of the song.  I love it.  It inspires me.  Gives me hope.  I feel like a Phoenix, but my ashes are still burning.  I haven’t risen yet.

Better

Today is a much better day than yesterday.  Yesterday was Christmas, as you know, but it was my first Christmas alone.  It was nice and lonely at the same time.  One of my friends Skyped with me for a bit, which was so nice.  I needed to see a friendly face and to be part of some Christmas celebration even if it was virtual.  B had me over for dinner.  It was so nice.  They sent me home with so much food that I don’t even know where to begin!

Yesterday I talked to J for a bit.  I’m pleased that things seem amicable at this point.  He keeps wanting me to reconsider, but I’ve told him that I just cannot.  There are many things he needs to work on and I am simply spent.  I’m a bit on alert b/c he has called my family and my best friend (B), but I understand why he did.  I just don’t want him making an effort to turn them into his tools to get me back.

When I spoke to my mom yesterday, it wasn’t very good.  I know this is a confusing time for them.  She said things like, “you know… it is difficult enough to find someone.”  Later that day, J said the same thing.  I want him to continue having support from my family and B as needed, but I don’t want it to be b/c he is trying to manipulate the situation via my friends and family.  The most poignant thing for me yesterday was the realization that even if my family disowned me for this decision (which I know they won’t), I would still make the decision.  This is my life.  Mine alone and I have to do what is in my best interest.

As B. Clewly Johnson so aptly stated,

Follow your instincts, your intuition. Don’t stay with people who, over time, grow apart from you. Move on. This means do what you think will make you feel okay – even if that makes others feel temporarily not okay.

Be inspired.

~AA

‘Twas the Night…

…before Christmas and I am at peace.  My life has been changed and I look forward to what lies ahead with optimism and an open heart.  This is my first Christmas alone, but I am glad to have some time to myself and I feel so loved by the most important people in my life.  It is time like these that you realize who your true friends are and those who are merely only there for the good times.

I would never say that I have had a plethora of friends, merely one or two good ones along the way.  B has been taking such good care of me.  She listens, she doesn’t judge, she genuinely cares, she loves me and wants what is best for me.  There are few people in this world that I would consider a true friend, but she has been there for me in so many ways.  True friends are the ones that are there even when it is inconvenient, they make time to get to you no matter what when you are in pain, and they provide you with unconditional support to follow your heart.

Today was a good day.  I’ve cried, have cradled my suffering and have renewed hope in the future.  I’m endlessly in awe of the power within us and the range of emotions that we are capable of experiencing when we allow ourselves to do so.

May you all have a Merry Christmas.

Be inspired.

~AA

Self Care

It appears that my greatest struggle right now is proper self care.  I’ve been good about letting myself cry, taking soothing showers and writing to help me process, but I have such a difficult time dealing with eating and making sure that I take time to do it.  It is such a low priority for me right now.  I finally broke down and made myself get some Lean Cuisine’s from Target.  It isn’t ideal, but at least it isn’t McDonald’s (which is all I do care to eat right now).

This afternoon I had a little breakdown.  I was listening to music and one of them just really got to me.  I did something that I haven’t done in years, I went to a church.  I just felt that I needed some support and I don’t want to burden others with my issues.  It was actually nice.  I’m no longer a very religious person, but I grew up Catholic.  I found the closest Catholic church (via Garmin) and went.  It was kind of nice.  I walked in, it was dark with the exception of the alter.  No one was there.  I went to the front, knelt in a pew, looked at the cross and just broke down.  It wasn’t pretty, let me tell you.  Lots of sniffling, crying, sobbing and praying.  I haven’t prayed like that in years.  Repeating the Lord’s prayer and Hail Mary over and over while I just cried.  Not feeling like I even deserved any possible redemption.

The pain can be very unbearable.  Mostly, though, I think the pain comes from the process of letting him go and the guilt that I feel.  Lots and lots of pain.  I keep looking for messages from friends, but I know it is Christmas and everyone has their own thing to deal with.  I did get some this morning, but the day has been very lonely.  This is my pain, my issue and I will get through this.  I am stronger than I know.  It will get better.  I know.  And I have faith that it will.

Support

I’ve been so blessed to have such support.  B has been a trooper.  She’s been there for me whenever I need her and has just been a great friend.  I’ve told my family and they are very supportive of my decision.  I was afraid that I would somehow be disappointing them by doing this, but that was an irrational thought.  They just want me to be happy.  I also have some other emotional support that has been invaluable in this process.

It has been interesting, the comments I’ve gotten from my family and friends.  My dad even told me that J has problems with putting up walls and pushing people away.  He was very supportive of my decision.  I think that was a little bit of a surprise in the sense that I know how much he likes J, but my happiness is more important to him.  I know this, conceptually, but I’ve always tried to be the perfect daughter and always want to make my parents proud.

There are so many factors that go into this decision and for me those included my parents expectations of me and my spiritual commitments/responsibilities.

I talked to J yesterday.  It was difficult.  It always will be, I think, at least in the beginning.  He kept telling me that he felt betrayed, that he thinks I worked myself up into this decision and now I have to follow through for some artificial reason, he asked if it would help for him to talk to my mom (he knows how much I adore her).  His actions at this point are getting very desperate.  It feels horrible that he has to have this experience, but pain is sometimes the best teacher.

I told him that this is what I want and I told him that I simply couldn’t be around him because he has too much power over me and my decisions.  I told him that when he gets back, I’ll either be at B’s place or visiting a friend out of town.  I told him that I have to protect myself and the decision that I have made.  I also told him that he needs to work some things out for himself, things that I cannot do for him.  He’s asked me to stay with him while he works through whatever I want him to work through, I told him that he needs to want to do it for himself, not because he wants to keep his wife.

Yesterday’s conversation was painful, but it was honest and given with an open heart.  I do love him, that isn’t the question.  But I have to love myself more right now and the future that I need, which includes children.  I cannot bring children into this type of relationship.  There are no compromises for me at this point.

I feel strong, but have no delusions that things will not be painful and sad along the way.  This is a healing process and I will allow myself to feel everything that I need to feel.  But mostly I feel hopeful and positive about my future.  That’s all I can really ask for at this point.

~AA