Friday, September 28, 2012

Scaredy Cat

I haven’t written about The Runner lately. I told myself that is because everything is going so well - which it is. Yet I’ve noticed my anxiety increasing incrementally over the last 2 weeks. I told myself it was from a variety of sources - work, Stella, general life upkeep.  But it finally caught up with me last night - I’m scared.  Really scared.

The vulnerability from my developing feelings for The Runner is growing at a fast pace.  In simpler terms, I really really like him. He is amazing, inside and out. And each day he says something that amazes me even more. He has a unique humanistic take on daily experiences that others would take for granted. Noticing and appreciating small things that others would easily overlook.  

This week he was sick, as was I.  We talked on the phone each night, and each night he relayed his daily stories, pointing out the interesting, sweet or rarely appreciated moments that would go unnoticed to most.  As each day passed I felt more and more lucky to be spending time with him. And as each day passed that we weren’t spending time together in person (as it was all via phone), I became more and more insecure that he would realize that his life is just dandy without me and would become uninterested.

This anxiety continued to build until last night when I was distant while on the phone with him. Not because I was disappointed that he was still sick and we couldn’t hang out (which I was) but because I was scared that he was going to disappear.  People keep saying to me that a person does not just stop liking someone else and bounce. But my perception of the end of my marriage is just that. He stopped liking me and bounced.  Even after months and months of work to rebuild my confidence in myself, I still have the pangs of wondering if there is something terribly wrong with me that will turn everyone who comes into my life off at some point and they will bounce.  Was this week’s illness just the opening that The Runner needed to realize that he was tired of me and ready to hit the road?

During our conversation last night, he provided the right reassurances at the right time. And after we hung up, I thought about why I was so distant on the call and realized it was just my fear and that without being asked, he made me feel comfortable and secure that he was still there. So I called him back and thanked him for that. We talked about why I was scared and he compared it to a race car driver getting in a car accident - he doesn’t drive the same the first time out after the accident, he needs time to be comfortable again.

The Runner’s understanding, patience and most of all lack of judgement was very touching.  We talked a bit more and hung up. At which point I broke down crying. And cried. And cried. The sharp pain of fear, fear of that he will leave, fear that there really is something wrong with me, fear that I will never find lasting joy and contentment, fear that I’ll self sabotage anything good in my life.  I cried for the fact that the pain was so pointed, even after all of this time.  And that though I thought I was through the worst effects of the divorce, I’m still faced with the consequences.

With her usual impeccable timing, Little Buddha sent this to me earlier this week. Very fitting.
It’s not impermanence per se, or even knowing we’re going to die, that is the cause of our suffering, the Buddha taught. Rather, it’s our resistance to the fundamental uncertainty of our situation. Our discomfort arises from all of our efforts to put ground under our feet, to realize our dream of constant okayness. When we resist change, it’s called suffering. But when we can completely let go and not struggle against it, when we can embrace the groundlessness of our situation and relax into its dynamic quality, that’s called enlightenment, or awakening to our true nature, to our fundamental goodness. Another word for that is freedom—freedom from struggling against the fundamental ambiguity of being human. (From Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Ingredients for Joy and Meaning

As I continue to read “The Gifts of Imperfection”, from Brene Brown, she suggests to make a list of what activities/items you consider to contribute joy and meaning to your life. And then compare it to your to-do list to see if your actual activities align with what you need for joy and meaning.  I am not going to share my to-do list as it probably looks similar to most other mom’s of a 2 year old. However, I thought this would be a good venue to start my ingredients list & I encourage you to share your list or even an item or two that you think may be missing!

- Downtime outside: long walks with Grace and our dog, laying in the hammock together, eating dinner outside, going to the park, etc
- Family adventures: going new places and experiencing new things (both for Grace and I)
- Spending time with loved ones, both family and close friends
- Stimulating work that provides a sense of accomplishment
- Exercise
- Music: playing, listening, spontaneous dance parties with Stella and/or friends
- Going to church
- Helping others

Monday, September 24, 2012

Constant Conflict versus Constructive Cooperation

I finally watched Bill Clinton’s speech from the DNC.  No, this post is not about politics since the human experience is shared and common.  Instead, this is about the theme he introduced of ‘constant conflict versus constructive cooperation’.

I’ve heard many bitter divorce stories. Three years to finalize a divorce with no kids, no contact with kids for weeks on end as nasty custody dispute is worked out, shirking from financial responsibility because of concern for one’s own bank account rather than the welfare and opportunities made available to a child.  I am convinced my divorce was one of the quickest and probably easiest, given the situation of a 10 week old infant mixed with an extra-marital affair. Breeding ground for hatred, for blame, for constant conflict.

However, in looking to the future, I am convinced that constructive cooperation is the only way forward.  I wish the other parting couples would do the same. No amount of bitter disagreement will ease the pain. No amount of money will be retribution or make a wrong right. It is what it is.

So as I watch the country struggle over money, disagree over values, and spout convincing arguments to pull opinions one way or another, I can only hope that as a broader population we see that constant conflict will only result in delayed pain and prolonged suspension of angst whereas construction cooperation helps to heal and move forward.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Ode to Ma

A few days ago, Grace had surgery to put tubes in her ears. The same, simple surgery that more than half of my friends’ kids have had.  However, because of her PVC (premature ventricular contractions, i.e. irregular heart beat that starts in the ventricle), the docs informed me that there was a small chance her heart would go into constant arrhythmia and stop pumping blood. They also informed me that she needs the surgery because she already has hearing loss and speech impairment from the fluid that has built up in her ears since January. I started involuntarily shaking. How could I make this choice? If something happened to Grace, I would never forgive myself. But do I leave her with measured hearing loss for an indefinite amount of time?  I fought back the tears and went ahead with the surgery.  All the while, feeling like I was going to throw up. Wishing I had someone to lean on, someone to provide comfort.

Right before the surgery, I called my mother (Ma). I explained the situation, she took a pause and then said that I made a good decision with the information that was provided and all I could do was listen to the doctors. She was cool, calm and collected as always. A rock.

Grace came through the surgery with flying colors, though I suffered the after affects of nausea and anxiety for a few days. It felt like a literal shock went through my system. But there was my mom, as strong as ever.

I’ve lost count of the number of times my mom has been a rock for me. Showing no fear, only strength, love and comfort.  Even at our picnic for Grace’s 2nd birthday, as a bee was buzzing around, I automatically recoiled while my mom grabbed a napkin and pursued the bee to eliminate it as a threat to Grace or I. Would I ever have the courage to go after a bee?  Unlikely.

Just yesterday, Ma went to a surgery of a friends son. Her friend had to sit through agonizing hours as her sick son was operated on. My mom was right there beside her using all of her natural gifts to help her friend through a scary time and give her a sense of calm that all would be ok.

This unwavering strength and compassion is only one of the many reasons that I named Grace after my mother. I hope that she learns that special blend of strength and compassion that comes so easily to my Ma.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Fixed identity

Little Buddha shared this today, how apropos:
YOUR FIXED IDENTITY - In Buddhism we call the notion of a fixed identity “ego clinging.” It’s how we try to put solid ground under our feet in an ever-shifting world. Meditation practice starts to erode that fixed identity. As you sit, you begin to see yourself with more clarity, and you notice how attached you are to your opinions about yourself. Often the first blow to the fixed identity is precipitated by a crisis. When things fall apart in your life, you feel as if your whole world is crumbling. But actually it’s your fixed identity that’s crumbling. And as Chögyam Trungpa used to tell us, that’s cause for celebration.

Monday, September 10, 2012


I went to the beach with my family (mom, dad, dad’s girlfriend, Grace and our dog) for a week. It was an episode straight out of Modern Family. One thing I learned: family vacations are about spending time with family, not having fun!  LOL  It was an ok week but after Grace playtime nonstop for 7 straight days, I was ready for my own vacation upon returning home.  Exhausting!

Once home and unpacked, I met up with The Runner.  A lovely dinner, two games of shuffleboard and an episode of Breaking Bad later, I was content and smiling.  Somehow The Runner has that effect on me - content. The minute he is around, worries melt away and everything seems right with the world. We spent the rest of the weekend together until Monday morning when the reality of work finally hit for both of us.  

Here was the weekend highlight: As we were driving home from New Hope, a trendy town further outside of Philadelphia, there was a Little Tikes slide being put out by a family no longer needing it. I’ve been looking/waiting to buy this slide all summer but haven’t gotten to many yard sales as much of my saturday mornings were spent at the beach.  After mentioning this to the Runner, he promptly hits the brakes, pulled a U-turn, hopped out and with tools from his ever present, very large tool bag (for work), he disassembled the slide and put it in his car.  It was hot. Sweet guy, tools, solving a problem without breaking a sweat. I was swooning. When we got home, he quickly reassembled it in my backyard and I had to stop myself from gushing “my hero”!  All of this and I didn’t even ask him to do it, he just did it upon hearing my desire to acquire this slide for my daughter.  Need I say more?

As I’m writing this blog post, I’m fighting the urge to share with you all of the wonderful attributes that the runner has.  The many ways that his solid heart, values and smarts shine through in daily situations.  The many ways his flawless runner’s body makes a girl drool :)  But I’ll refrain.  For now, I’m still fighting the instant anxiety that encroaches the minute something good enters my life. The fear that it is not real, will not last and will go away. But rather than waste a good feeling by turning it into fear, I’m fighting hard to stay in the present and appreciate every content moment, standing quiet and still, smiling.