Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Untying the outcome

When I was little, my father used to travel. When my parents were married, all I thought about was the trinket he would bring me upon his return. After my parents divorced, all I thought about was what-if. What if the plane crashed? What if something happened to him? How would I ever find out? Before the age of cell phones, with my mother’s number unlisted, how would the authorities find his daughter to tell her. The not knowing if he would return home safely or not would cause a ball of anxiety in the pit of my stomach. It would remain there until I knew the outcome.

I have the same ball of anxiety today, from not knowing the outcome. I don’t know if The Runner is going to make the adjustment needed to move forward or if he is going to decide it is too much.  One action says he wants to stay in, one action says he’s not.

After having the shoe drop one too many times, or else being born overly sensitive to every small action or word (thereby reading situations as the shoe dropping when it was more of my own personal tidal wave via perception), I have developed an overriding anxiety of not knowing the outcome.  I go far out of my way to ensure the outcome is positive, lining up cereal boxes, making sure all of the clothes are hanging in the same direction, the towels folded in the same way, things are symmetrical where should be and perfectly askew where needed. I’m convinced these actions will help ensure the best possible outcome of any situation that may arise.

What I’m starting to see is that if you let go of the outcome, the anxiety goes with it. I’m sure you are saying “Duh, Wonder Woman”, but I wonder how many visitors reading this are fully able to let go of the outcome and just see what happens.

I’m very tied to (anxious about) the outcome of The Runner because of a few past experiences (that I come by this honestly).  My I present the evidence:
A) The ex tapered away rather suddenly while sending mixed signals when he had actually decided the marriage was over and he was done. So while my intuition was saying one thing, my senses were hearing a separate story from him until he came clean with his true intentions.
B) Historically, I have taken rejection personally. As if to confirm the theory that I am, in fact, unlovable.
C) Along with B, I have taken rejection to further my personal story that I’m never quite good enough, close but never quite worth of love.

So between past experience and historical storylines, I have an anxious ball in the pit of my stomach. But here’s the kicker:  “A” may be a fact. but B and C are no longer true. I am very sure that if this does not work out, this is the Runner’s issue of not being able to handle responsibility. It’s on him.  As for C, I’ve uncovered more and more proof points that have lead me to the current path that I am actually transforming into Wonder Woman: surviving the divorce, thriving after, raising a wonderful daughter, keeping a warm home, surrounded by supporting, loving friends.  These points along with evidence of how much strength I have gained by not just surviving but the resilience needed to gain more ground was ever lost - these points directly conflict with evidence C.

So if A is a fact, yes, I will be skittish in reaction to people’s inconsistencies. But B and C are no longer applicable, ergo: I am no longer tied to the outcome. Stay or go, my life will move forward as it has, growing with more luster, depth, wisdom and love.  Bye bye anxious knot.  Please re-read this post next time you settle in my stomach.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Moving backward

The Runner is backing away. After asking him if he would stay with Grace and I as hurricane Sandy hit, and he refused saying he had to stay at his place (that he rents...with 4 other roommates), I asked him if I overstepped bounds and mentioned that his reaction was a little odd.  He then explained that he feels a lot of responsibility dating someone with a kid. More so than any other relationship. And it’s a lot for him to handle. He kept referring to our “lifestyle differences”, which I took to mean the fact that I don’t have free time all of the time.

I told him my view of things: not looking for a father for Grace. If someone is a part of her life (which we are far from that this point), I would like that person to act with integrity and certain morals that she can learn from. To be a positive, supportive role model but not a second parent.  This seemed to ease some of his concerns. I’ll leave out the rest of the conversation as it was basically talking around the same topic: dating someone with a child is a lot for him to handle.

So he’s backing off. And it’s hurting me.  The same ‘knot in the belly, mild nausea’ feeling that I historically get every time I’m unsure as to where things stand with a guy.  This is what really gets to me.  Obviously I’m disappointed that The Runner came on like Superman, wonderful in so many ways, only to back off and treat me with ambivalence rather than interest (not even texting to see if we were ok after Hurricane Sandy hit). But right now I’m less concerned with the outcome of the situation with The Runner than my reaction to the uncertainty of it.

Once again it is consuming my heart and mind. I want to learn how to move through the hurt feelings rather than getting knocked down by them each time. Or else learn how to have my feelings not be hurt quite as badly each time.  Because at the end of the day, if he isn’t strong enough to be with Grace and I then I’m not interested.  I want someone who wants to stay with us during the storm. Who wants to know if we are ok in the aftermath. Someone I can depend on. And right now, The Runner is freaked out at the thought of us depending on him. Despite the fact that my definition of ‘depend’ (be there for, provide support) is different than his (take care of, responsible for), I want to be with someone who can handle my life.  

In the meantime, I need to focus on how to handle my own feelings stemming from uncertainty and the possibility of things not working out.  Any advice?

Thursday, October 25, 2012


It’s a misconception that girl ‘let themselves go’ once they start getting comfortable with a guy.  We don’t ‘let ourselves go’ - they stop noticing!  You spend time getting all dolled up, you feel great, look great, and then...poof - not even the slightest acknowledgement.  you spend no time getting ready, throw on sweats, pull hair back and then...poof - not even the slighest acknowledgement. This translates to mean that guys don’t notice when we look pretty or not. The extra effort isn’t noticed or appreciated. It’s taken for granted.

After looking myself up and down, I gave the runner a ‘look’ and he said “What, do you need to put your coat on or something?” and I said, “No, I missed the ‘you look nice tonight’ comment’” and he laughed and said that goes without saying.  I grumbled, it really does not (go without saying).  So then he specified a few things that looked nice, which to be honest, I definitely did not think he even noticed.

Isn’t deciding something ‘goes without saying’ the equivalent of taking something for granted?  If you really appreciate it (i.e. don’t take it for granted), you pipe up and say something!

This lack of positive feedback has me in a rut.  I’m constantly saying positive things to him, meanwhile I feel like chopped liver.

Am I making it too easy for him to take me for granted?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Do actions really speak louder than words?

Following the “do you like me” conversation held last week with the Runner, I became more keenly aware of less sugar-sweet texts telling me how much he wants to hang out (lots) and what a good time he had with me (very). Instead they have been replaced with more of the silent, expected security of ‘no news is good news’. The best interpretation that I have is that after each date, a girl wants to hear “I had a great time. Nope, I haven’t changed my mind” whereas the boy provides next to nothing in terms of feedback, assuming 'great time' is implied.

Feedback for girls is crucial. It’s our air. It’s how we know if we picked just the right outfit or if anyone else is noticing that we are having an exceptionally good hair day. Feedback is a key part of how we build our sense of security.

Feedback for boys is a ‘nice to have’. Not necessary to feel valued. Not necessary to provide because they showed up and that is enough.

After a weekend of very little feedback, I found myself wondering do actions really speak louder than words?  An afternoon hike followed by a walk with Grace yielded no feedback of the positive or negative variety. But Sunday evening brought a text asking when I was free this week and by Monday morning, plans were set to hang out. He’s making plans ahead of time. Ensuring our schedules are synced.  He planned the hike and takes care of details so I have a worry-free time.  Maybe I’m looking for security in the wrong form of communication. He may not lavish me with make-you-blush compliments, but he is consistently there. And that’s more than I can say for most.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Hand over heart

First, come into the present. Flash on what’s happening with you right now. Be fully aware of your body, its energetic quality. Be aware of your thoughts and emotions.

Next, feel your heart, literally placing your hand on your chest if you find that helpful. This is a way of accepting yourself just as you are in that moment, a way of saying, “This is my experience right now, and it’s okay.”

Then go into the next moment without any agenda.

This practice can open us to others at times when we tend to close down. It gives us a way to be awake rather than asleep, a way to look outward rather than withdraw.
-- Pema Chodron

I haven’t written in a while because it’s taken the week to sort out my thoughts.  I had the “I like you, do you like me” conversation with The Runner. Not asking for a commitment or guarantee of what will be, but asking if he already know what won’t be. I’ll spare you the details of the full conversation - the end result is that we are on the same page. However, I was hurt by his hesitation to get into another relationship.  First taking it personally like - hello, I’m great and I’m right here and you would be an idiot to not pursue this. But then realizing that he is anticipating the same crazy as he experienced in his last relationship and is taking his time to really get to know me to see if that comes out. The same as I’m anticipating deception as I experienced in my last relationship and I’m taking my time feeling him out to make sure he is as solid as he seems to be.  I don’t use the word anticipate in a negative way or as self fulfillng prophecy but in the realistic way that when you put your hand on a burner and it is hot, you anticipate the same heat next time. We were both burned and we are both making sure that we are really getting to know each other.  This doesn’t sound like a big revelation right now, but it took me a week to come to peace with it!

As always the timing of the quote of the week is so impeccable.  As I am learning that being scared or having feelings of insecurity are going to come up.  Especially as sensitive spots are triggered. But the tough feelings wash over, the same as the good feelings.  All week I’ve pushed back against the pain that the fear triggers and I started to close down. First on The Runner, then on myself. Luckily I have wise loved ones who provided some perspective. I love the quote above because it reminds me that instead of fighting hard feelings, acceptance is an easier route and next time I will put my hand over my heart and remember that everything is ok.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Here comes the sun

Funny how in the darkest of moments, the light that shines through seems the brighest. When you are in the sun, you take the light for granted. But when you are in the dark, the ray of light that shines through requires an adjustment to see.  After my earlier post this morning, I exchanged a series of emails with my ex continuing from last night and he sent across this paragraph:

“I am sure I was resentful at the time but quickly learned that wasn't the real issue.  The real issue (from my point of view) is my inability to communicate my concerns or issues and the snowballing effect that created.  I hated and resented myself upon realizing that and quickly realized any actions you did that upset me were blips on the radar and I really just compounded it 100 fold by my own issues."

This is the first time since the beginning that he’s admitted it was him, not me. And although every single friend and loved one has told me this over and over (many phrased in a less than nice way...haha), I needed to hear it from him. I needed him to own the damage he did. He spent so long passing the buck on to me, my actions or our situation that he never took ownership that it all came from him.  The sunshine is finally coming through. In the form of The Runner, my friends, my loved ones, those surprise emails that pop up with encouraging words when you need them most, and most of all, my daughter.

So next time I revert to selling myself short and blaming myself for the past, someone please remind me that it was on him, it was not my fault.

Ice cream and cookies

Warning: This post is going to be ugly. Really ugly.  Yesterday Stella’s father emailed me to see if I could watch Stella over dates in December so he could go to a series of Phish concerts. He also included the fun fact that there were 9 local shows over the summer, only 1 which he attended.  This immediately threw me into a backward spiral. Backward because  right before he told me about his affair, he said he wanted to spend that new years with grace and i.  Then the weekend that he told me about his affair, he also informed me that he wanted to go party at the Phish concert on new years with his “real friends”.  I went right back to the awful conversations where he outlined every single one of my shortcomings.  When he explained over and over how much he resented me.  Despite the fact I had checked in repeatedly during the marriage to make sure that he was okay, as I could sense that something was off with him, and he always responded that he was fine and to stop asking if he was okay.  Yet over 8 years he grew to resent me so badly that he took up with another woman and wanted to live apart from his wife and child. Was willing to give up the majority of the time available to him during that precious first year of Grace’s life so he could go “be himself” and recapture his youth.

I cried last night. And cried some more. I called my mom who said the exact right soothing things - how insensitive he was, how clueless, heartless and cold. To not even realize what a trigger this was and how it is a yearly painful reminder to me of being told the litany of things wrong with me in the eyes of the person that I twisted myself inside and out for.  All of the time I spent wondering why my husband was so distant and punishing myself for not being a good enough wife to be able to figure it out of fix it. All the while it was him lying, misrepresenting himself, and I never stood a chance.  

So I broke out the ice cream. And then a huge sugar cookie.  And the sugar influx stopped the emotionally spiral until it plateaued into rhythmic sobbing as my dog sat on my belly and tried to console me.  But the crying wasn’t just for what happened in the past. It was also for what is happening now, with the Runner.  He has been so busy and his to-do list is growing faster than items are being checked off.  I knew that part of it is because he’s spent so much time with me. And I was so paranoid that he would resent me for it, just as my ex always did. Resented my existence as it was just something to make him feel guilty when he needed to be working constantly.  I did ask The Runner if I was a distraction.  He adds so much good to my life and I want to do the same for him. I don’t want to inadvertently add stress. He replied that of course I’m not a distraction and he would rather spend time with me then checking off his to do list. And he added that I needed to think more highly of myself.  That really hurt. Because it’s true. My thoughts are hurting me so bad. Reading each of his texts first through the lens of my ex - full of resentment and anger. And then a second time when I force myself to hear The Runner say them in his own voice, gentle and unassuming.

I realize this post is rambling and I don’t have a conclusion, but the emotional storm that started last night is still shedding it’s last rain and clouds this morning as I woke up in a fog, still teary eyed.  The main lesson that I learned last night was that as far as the present goes, with The Runner, it is only my anxiety talking. And to be aware of it and let it flow by rather than holding on to is as the truth.  I understand this concept yet it is so hard because I am blurry on the line between what is my anxiety and what is reality.  I guess that’s what happens when you are lied to for so many years.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

What happens with Wonder Woman meets Superman?

I spent a blissful weekend between evenings with The Runner and daytimes with my mom and daughter. A fun weekend all around.  The Runner even surprised me with an expected Sunday evening visit after attending a nearby conference. And yet I continue to worry what he thinks about...which brings up the question: What happens when Wonder Woman meets Superman?

I frequently think of The Runner as Superman. He is constantly moving around, helping other people. Strong physically, mentally and strong willed, he saves the day for anyone in need; never leaving a project half-finished, always ensuring the best quality of work.  Last night he even showed up wearing a Superman hat (my mental nickname unbeknownst to him).

So now that Wonder Woman has met Superman, what happens with those two forces engage? A recognition of someone who suits you in so many ways.  A counterpart that you didn’t know existed.  The encounter has left this Wonder Woman wondering....where do I stand? What does he think of me? What does he think of my life? What does he think of us?  Forgetting my own unique super powers, I started worrying about the other super hero’s perceptions. I constantly remind myself to stay grounded in the strengths I’ve come to own. To do the things that make me Wonder Woman. To hold on to my own wondrous achievements..

This has been a recurring theme throughout a few blog posts and expect will continue to be for a while.  Adjusting my thinking from the way it has been for so long - determining my value from what the other person was thinking - to now knowing my own value.  As a wise Little Buddha pointed out - if he can’t see you are Wonder Woman then you don’t like him that much to begin with.  

This week’s quote, forwarded by Little Buddha, once again came at the exact right time (is the universe in tune with the origination of this supernatural relationship?):

When you refrain from habitual thoughts and behavior, the uncomfortable feelings will still be there. They don’t magically disappear. Over the years, I’ve come to call resting with the discomfort “the detox period,” because when you don’t act on your habitual patterns, it’s like giving up an addiction. You’re left with the feelings you were trying to escape. The practice is to make a wholehearted relationship with that.