Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Method in one's madness

i’m talking about sex with the ex.

sex with the ex even when he or she was the lying, cheating, manipulative, scum of the earth kind. why do we do it?

apparently, it is quite common. exes have sex with each other after a break up (or a divorce) because when a relationship ends, there’s the physical split, and there’s the emotional split, and those two things don’t usually happen at the same time. having sex again can be a way to achieve that emotional closure (or it can obstruct it).

to figure out if intimacy with an ex will be positive or negative, we need to check why and how often we’re doing it. a few booty calls to gain closure can generally be OK. exactly how many? one time? two? twenty? hmm... any thing more than five only means we are perpetuating the emotional connection. how can a person move on if he/she can’t let go? so the most important thing to do is to ask why we’re doing it.

does delusion, anger or fear have anything to do with it?

delusion: if a person is caught up in “love is a passionate, china-shattering fight, followed by an all-night tango” i.e. sleeping with the ex because he/she mistakenly believes the two of them belong together (sigh!) the one who is delusional could be in trouble.

anger: the classic woo-and-drop revenge routine: when the injured party (i.e. the one who got dumped, particularly for another man/woman) rekindles the flame in order to turn around and do the dumping. this is particularly inappropriate, not to mention dark and twisted.

fear: the dread of getting back into the market; intimacy with the devil you know to avoid all the devils you don’t know lurking on the dating scene.

why did i do it? admittedly, with one ex i was delusional (i was 20 if that counts) and i did get in trouble. with another ex it was fear. i’d much rather be with the devil who knew how to push all the right buttons (if you know what I mean) than dealing with others who are sorted of … unsatisfactory.

do I still have any exes in my bedroom closet? the answer is no. i stay in contact with one ex but only because i genuinely like him. do i enjoy his company? i do very much. do i have any desire to have him in my bed again? certainly not.

i guess another reason why it can be ok to “go there” again is the possibility that two people really do belong together. it can happen. however, the only way it can work is if they get help for the old problems that caused them to split up in the first place. don’t just skip over the past and pretend that everything’s wonderful or soon they’ll find themselves riding that same emotional roller coaster ... again... and again... and again.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Growing Up With Chaos – Keep It Your History Not Your Fate

Daughters – John Mayer
I know a girl
She puts the color inside of my world
But she's just like a maze
Where all of the walls all continually change
And I've done all I can
To stand on her steps with my heart in my hands
Now I'm starting to see
Maybe it's got nothing to do with me

Fathers, be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers, be good to your daughters too

Oh, you see that skin?
It's the same she's been standing in
Since the day she saw him walking away
Now she's left
Cleaning up the mess he made

So fathers, be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers, be good to your daughters too

Boys, you can break
You'll find out how much they can take
Boys will be strong
And boys soldier on
But boys would be gone without the warmth from
A womans good, good heart

On behalf of every man
Looking out for every girl
You are the god and the weight of her world

So fathers, be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers, be good to your daughters too
a daughter's relationship with her father is usually her first male-female relationship. from dad, little girls gain their first reflection of themselves as a female. they develop a sense of acceptance or non-acceptance; they feel valued or discounted. self-respect is initially based upon respect received from others. their self-concept as a female person is largely shaped by this early relationship. in short, children regard themselves as they think others regard them... and dad is an important person in her life.

part of a girl’s psyche is created by what her father reflect back to her. a girl needs to know that a man loves her, values her, will protect her, and will be dependable for her. she needs to be able to relax, be affectionate, and know that she is safe with certain males. she needs to be regarded as a person, not as a sexual object. when a little girl develops modesty and learns that she has a right to privacy, she develops a healthy sense of boundaries. she learns how to say "no", which will be an essential interpersonal skill as she becomes more social. father-daughter relationships are, also, an important place to learn how to negotiate fairly and compromise appropriately. if father is fair and listens to his daughter's thoughts, she will gain self-confidence and pride in her own opinion. when a daughter learns to communicate with her father, and trust that her opinion will count, she can develop self-assuredness which will allow her to be assertive and stand up for herself. this is very different from aggressive reactions which stem from a sense of powerlessness and combativeness. it takes years for this influence to sink in and develop inside a girl. and this can’t happen if dad’s not there much.

when a girl doesn’t have her father in her daily life, she really misses something. when divorce or separation happens, sometime things really turn out ok and sometimes they don’t. in any case, this kind of disruption can keep a child frozen in a certain emotional age.

girls commonly interpret divorce as personal rejection from her father. she will, also, naively believe that if her father isn’t around, it is because she isn’t engaging, smart, pretty, or valuable enough. without this clear daily influence from her father, she will look for other males to fill in the emptiness. she will seek the love, strength, sense of value, and protection from a sexual relationship to fill the hole left by her father and his missing influence. she will emotional cling to her boyfriend and avoid breaking off , emotionally unavailable and/or abusive relationships for fear of losing a man all over again. unfortunately, many (girls and) young women seek sexual relationships out of emptiness. they can go on this fruitless search for male approval many years before they understand what they’ve been doing…

…until they wised up to know: No matter how hard the past, you can always begin again

“the willingness to accept responsibility for one's own life is the source from which self-respect springs.” (Joan Didion) it is true that the family is a training ground for all future relationships. many things are learned and many things are taught. however, as adults, one must take personal responsibility. it is time to grow up and to admit: i alone am responsible for making my life happy. stop avoiding. stop telling that story over and over “mommy never loved me much, daddy never keeps in touch…” stop the blame game. stop holding grudges. stop the self-destruction. stop. stop. stop. start reaching in. start reaching out. start forgiving. start the healing process.

“the day the child realizes that all adults are imperfect, he becomes an adolescent; the day he forgives them, he becomes an adult; the day he forgives himself, he becomes wise” (Alden Nowlan)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

We are all meant to shine..

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." ~ Excerpted from A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles
years ago i was depressed. the depression was triggered by the breakup of my first romantic relationship. that breakup, combined with my childhood wounds, shredded my heart for a really long time. i could not get over it. i tried to get over it by getting into some unhealthy relationships. no matter where i went or what i did, i couldn’t shake the sadness. i was in a place full of pain and anxiety. those feelings crippled me. for close to eighteen years, though from the outside i behaved quite normal but i was limping through life with a seemingly endless supply of tears.

by the time i came to Mary, my therapist, i was a mess. Mary (God bless her) helped me understand that i didn’t have to get over it. i just need to get through it. what a relief that was! a big part of my depression stemmed from feeling guilty about not being able to “get over it”. i felt like there was something wrong with me. i felt weak and worthless. “get through it” those three words set me free. eventually, i learned to accept my depression (because love would be a very strong word). and then, i began to heal – however long it took. it has taken a long time for me to truly believe this, and it requires ongoing effort to change my pattern. if I’m not careful, it is easy to spend long, boring hours ruminating about my losses and my fears. if i don’t stop myself, i analyze my life from every conceivable angle in a desperate but doomed search for a solution to my problems. but in this context, thinking is not the answer. it only keeps my frustrations on center stage, and accelerates the engine of anxiety. i’m fully aware that i have the emotional tendency to slip into long-term sadness. i’m not embarrassed. i’m not worried. i’m not the kind of person who can ignore her emotions, and i feel things very deeply. this is just who i am and it's okay. whatever i need to feel, now or in the future, i’ll feel in my own way, at my own pace.

and i have managed quite well… until these past few weeks.

unintentionally, i offended someone. i thought I was helping and though i meant no harm, my words upset that person. that got me thinking (uh oh) and triggered my old patterns. my anxiety hit the roof and i feel a little more depressed everyday. my “fear of rejection” pattern due to “defectiveness” schema is in full operation (very scientific!). the fact that maybe I had given someone reason to believe i was horrible, because maybe i was. i tried to soothe my anxiety by reasoning that my intention came from the heart. what went wrong i cannot wrap my head around it?

it has been two weeks since i last sat down to meditate because i am so anxious i can’t sit still with my breath. the truth is i avoided meditation in order to not have to witness and watch my thoughts for fear of what will come up. but i also hate walking around knowing every cell in my body was sad. it feels like carrying around a giant backpack full of bricks, i am physically and emotionally exhausted.

so I sat down to breathe and focus on what my heart is trying to say. slowly the thoughts came untangled and my head feels light. only then, I realized …

… kindness doesn’t always win.

not everyone wants kindness to visit and stay. kindness also has adversaries, like self-hate, self-doubt, and self-criticism, and those enemies must be ousted (hence the irritability/hostility) before kindness can have a safe place to dwell. people have to get used to kindness. at first, kindness can feel scary, uncomfortable… even unwelcome. one has to develop a strong preference for kindness before one will feel the willingness and courage to choose kindness – insist on it – on a daily basis.

when i decided to seek professional help i was beginning to perceive that unkindness no longer worked for me. i was getting tired of the angry voices of addictive thoughts and behaviors, low self-esteem, self-criticism, and others’ critical voices that replace the potential for joy with pain and sadness. it can be quite challenging to make the leap from unkindness to kindness without someone to help make the transition. i was lucky to have a great psychologist and friends, family members – angels really who show me kindness at key points along the way.

but ultimately it was my choice to be happy. too often we look for others to solve our problems, provide fulfillment or soothe us when we’re stressed and anxious. it is simple (yet difficult) to put the control of our happiness and relationships in our own hands. rather than be a victim of circumstances, get active in solving our own problems. although there are circumstances and events which we are powerless to change, we can change how we respond to them and how we take care of ourselves during difficult times.

i have faith in myself, my emotions, and my abilities as a human being. i no longer insist on perfection from my self or from others. all i can hope for is to be myself, to love and to accept myself, even on those days when i act insensitive. we all have those days when we are not at our very best. however, it is how we come to term with ourselves and our actions that sometimes remind us of how far we have come.