Monday, September 29, 2014

"For Me It's About Continuously Moving the Energy..."

On Super Soul Sunday, Alanis Morissette commented, “For me it’s about continuously moving the energy, because stagnation in my body...and a lot of trauma is held in just moving it is key”.  Oh. Wow. How true!

I’ve been doing a lot of work on the ‘trauma response’. One thing that is difficult is that once the response sets in, it is hard to move just by my own will. There are a few things that shift the heavy weight off of my chest:
  1. Setting my dog on my chest, his energy naturally warms mine and the feeling lightens
  2. Someone hugging me - as uncomfortable as it is, it shifts the energy
  3. Running
  4. Playing piano
  5. Writing
  6. Reiki - when I had reiki done, I felt large chunks of the weigh break off and dissipate. So much so that the reiki practitioner commented that she could feel the shifts to, even without me saying what had happened.

The times that the weight is the worst is when I’m stagnant. It is more likely to arise and more likely to subsist. So when she made that comment, the connection was instant. I need to keep the energy moving.  Very different that constantly taking action to avoid painful feelings, this is staying stimulated in a positive way - one of the keys to my balance that has been a reoccuring theme throughout my life.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Turning the Shield

One of the things I’ve come to with this ‘trauma response’ - the literal weight on my chest and shame spiral of thoughts, was created to function as a shield. It started as a way to protect me. Except this heavy shield as it exists today is inverted - with the curve going inward toward me so that when something happens, it almost settles on top of me like a puddle, adding additional weight.  I internalize, I don’t deflect.  So next time something makes me feel unworthy, I want to visual turning the shield. So that it doesn’t sit on top of the shield adding more weight, but instead the shield turned outward (the way you would normally picture it) actually creates more space between by heart and the unworthy event, pushing it away from me, deflecting it rather than absorbing.

I’m struggling with this right now, as I told The Good Doctor last night that it seems as though he’s looking for a full on, full time girlfriend and that’s just not where I’m at with this, so I think it’s best we just be friends. And now I’m starting to have the shame response that I got spooked, I couldn’t make this work. Inside of knowing that I asked for what I needed - to slow down and bring down the intensity, but he didn’t. Which was my cue that this wasn’t a fit - we weren’t on the same page and we weren’t heading there either. But still, I’m fighting off the habit of blaming myself instead of patting myself on the back for really putting forth a solid effort, being honest, and being fair - to both of us.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

I Think It’s Time to Call it a Wrap with the Good Doc

When things starts with the Good Doc, I could not believe my luck to have run into such a good, sweet, guy.  He was giving and kind and put me first (wow!).  However, things moved too quickly for me, as he jumped from ‘get to know you’ to relationship mode. I wasn’t ready and it felt like pressure and expectations.

I do believe I wasn’t/am still not ready to be in a relationship with him because part of the protective response that was recently uncovered is that when really good things happen, I feel undeserving. So I protect myself against them too.  Obviously not a behavior that I want to carry forward.

Either way, I wasn’t ready so I asked him to slow down. I let him know that I was enjoying getting to know him, but the speed-up spoked me.  The day after that conversation, we went out for drinks and he tried to hook up with me - I was so confused, didn’t I just say I needed to slow down?  So the following day, I had the slow down conversation again.  Still, he didn’t hear me. He continued to act toward me like one would a girlfriend and I was feeling the pressure big time. So for a third time in five days, I told him I REALLY needed it to slow down. I let him know that I wasn’t ready to jump into a relationship and jumping too soon felt like pressure and expectations. He agreed and understood.

After that I traveling for a few days for work. He informed me he was sad that we wouldn’t hang out for a whole week.  Once I was away, I waited for a few days and then said I would be free friday. He jumped at the offer and immediately wrote back asking if I wanted to hang out saturday and if I needed a ride home from the airport on Thursday. Whoa!  Slow down!  (and, by the time saturday came, he had put out different offers for Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday)

While those are wonderful offers that I ordinarily want to hear when I’m dating someone, in this case I feel so Un-Heard!  I keep asking him to slow down. And in his own words, to make up for his own insecurities, he is overcompensating - which is not only smothering me but it feels like my request have be ignored.

At this time, I need me to come first. I’m uncovering pretty important stuff about how my mind and emotions work - and I need the time and space to do that. I explained much of what is in this blog to him (because I felt I owed it to him, not because I was ready to share the intimate details of my inner-workings).  And I’m still not sure that he’s hearing me.

We are supposed to get pizza and ice cream tonight. After asking three times for him to slow down, instead of opening up to him, I continued to withdraw further and further until now I am afraid I’ve pulled back too far and have no positive feelings left to tap in to. So for tonight, I will tell myself I’m getting pizza and ice cream with a friend. And when the time is right, I’ll let him know that is all I can give him right now.  Is friendship.  Who knows, maybe when I actually have some space and time, I will feel more for him. But at this point, he didn’t give me the space and time I needed and now I am just too far gone.

I feel a good bit of guilt for pulling back from the first truly nice guy that I’ve been interested in (because I was interested at first!) - but sometimes just because they are nice, but they aren’t necessarily a match.

Monday, September 22, 2014

This is a biggie...

Warning: This blogpost is a huge breakthrough. Possibly explaining many of the blogposts that came before it!

In working with the Sage Shrink, I mentioned some physical reactions that I have (such as pulling up in to myself or literally curling up and making myself appear physically smaller) when I’m feeling threatened (read: when someone verbally attacks me or I feel I may be unworthy).  When this happens, I can physically feel it in my chest - like a weight that settles in below my sternum, above my heart.  I’ve said for years that I feel my feelings very intensly, but what I was trying to say is that I feel them very physically. The Sage Shrink informed me that this is called a ‘trauma response’.

She went on to explain (I’m paraphrasing, so don’t take this as the proverbial psychology bible) that a trauma response is basically an adaptive, protective reaction that I created as a child to help shield me from what was happening (read: verbally attacks).  Essentially, I physically shrink up (close my arms over my chest or pull my knees) and internally I shrink up too (telling myself I'm not good enough, not a good person, not worthy etc.) Because when someone is attacking you, if you are submissive, it usually stops the attack. So as a young child, I developed a protective response to shrink up and try to get the attack to stop.  In this case, that response is shame.

As a result, anytime it is triggered, this feeling sets in to my chest. The Sage Shrink referred to it as a 'wet blanket' because it is a protective covering but it feels like gloom. When I have that feeling, the whole shame spiral starts. It literally takes over, frontal lobe shuts down, etc because it is protecting me. And while it may have helped when I was little, I no longer need the protection but I never learned to disassociated the ‘trauma response’ and resulting shame from the situation at hand.

So many times I’ve told my friends that “I really feel my feelings” and they said “Yeah, me too, everyone does” - it turns out not to be the case.  This is less of an emotion as it is a e response that was creatively developed as a way to protect myself, which manifests itself as shame.

This is so huge in my life for a few reasons:
1) I spent my life fighting this ‘feeling’, this weight in my chest. Although Pema and every other sage says sit with uncomfortable feelings, let it flow through you, let it go - this isn’t a real - as compared to dating anxiety which I highly recommend sitting through - it doesn’t just go away because I want it to - it leaves once the trigger is gone and the response let's up.

I've HATED this feeling all of my life. I used to call it my monster inside. I thought the shame and the stories were part of me - that I was unworthy because I felt bad inside. But it's not a monster!  It's a shield! I made it to protect myself. So now I can (almost) embrace it and make it warm around the edges because I know it is there to protect me, not some awful part of me that I can't get rid of.

2)  I used to think that the creative, engaged, passionate part of me was 30% of me and that this awful monster part was the other 70%. But since the awful monster part is really just a protective reaction, that means that true me, my true nature - is just that creative, engaged, passionate part. There is no monster here!  I’m not broken inside.

My life makes soooo much more sense now.  I don't know why it was never caught except that I never mentioned the physical side of it until now and that's when she started stringing it together.

And guess how you address it? Mindfulness! And compassion!  I'm sure it will be some work to learn to recognize the triggers and response and not let it take over, but that will be a lot easier than living with it and thinking I'm unworthy person 70% of the time.

I feel free!!  And you know what the overarching feeling is of finding out who you really are? It is like falling in love. The more I learn about myself, the more I love it.  I just needed this block identified as not me. For 35 years I thought it was part of my true nature, if I felt unworthy inside then I must be unworthy. And here is was just a shield, not the true me.

I am so excited to find out what comes next. To see what I can do when I don’t have this weight on me anymore.

Friday, September 19, 2014

“The Foundation of Transformation Comes from Habits of Mind”

I was lucky enough to hear Malcolm Gladwell speak at a marketing conference (in addition to Simon Sinek and Martha Stewart - who I met!)  But back to Gladwell, one of the foremost authors and intellectuals of our time.

Malcolm Gladwell spoke to a group of small to medium sized businesses on transformation - what is takes not just to grow, but to transform the business you are in.  As he was speaking, it occurred to me that his commentary on transformation that many of the traits and characteristics common among those who have created great transformation, are also the traits characteristics you need to transform anything - even your own life.

Gladwell cited that in addition to technology and skills, transformation comes from habits of mind. He provided 3 lessons in transformation:
  1. Attitude - persistence, the courage to be independent. He went on to elaborate about the common traits of entrepreneurs:
  • Massively open - creative, open to considering new ideas.
  • Conscientious - will follow through on a new idea, and are obsessive and detail-oriented about it.
  • Disagreeable - in the classic psychological definition meaning they do not need the approval of their peers to do what is right. They tune out naysayers.
  1. Reframe the problem - look at the problem in a new way
  2. Urgency

Looking back at the past 3 months when I’ve been in a fog, a few things occurred to me that are relevant when you decide you are ready for a change:
  1. Attitude - instead of following what outside influences (people, social norms) dictate as your path, you realize that you need to stay on your own path, because stepping off results in unhappiness and staying on brings you back to your true nature, to contentment, to joy.
  2. Reframe the problem - sometimes we get so stuck in our own story-line in our head that it is hard to see things differently. This shifted when my Mom reframed my situation, informing me that I am green, and not yellow as I was claiming to be.
  3. Urgency - when you are ready for a change, you typically don’t sit back and say “I have an average of 30 more years to bring about this change” - you are ready to live life differently, to feel more joy and appreciationion. So you set your mind to who you want to be - the path you know is for you - and you stay on that path with a laser focus and determine that will realign your thoughts, anxiety, storyline with your true nature.

Listening to Malcolm speak on people’s transformative visions and they pathes they took to make the transformation reality, I realized I’ve spent so much time recently focused on the negative feelings that are inside - gripped by fear and hurt - that I’ve strayed away from who I am. From what I can do, what my unique gifts are and what I can give to others.  I don’t want to waste time drowning in a sea of emotions that are not more than waves crashing - it’s not who I am. It was who I feared I may be. But luckily, I am green, and I am going to go about the business of being green now.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

"It's Not Easy Being Green"

In the depths of a spiral, I’ve thrown every negative thought and feeling at my family and friends to convince them I’m not worthy: I’m broken, there is something fundamentally wrong with me and surely I do not deserve love.

Every single friend and each of my loving parents had the same response - I wish you could see yourself how others do. Conceptually I understand that we view others in one light, whereas they may feel differently on the inside. So I thought - ok, maybe others think I have it together, but I really am falling apart and they just don’t see it.

It wasn’t until my mom reframed it for me: you keep telling me you are yellow. Yet when I look at you, I see you are green. You repeat that you are yellow, yellow yellow and all I see is that you are clearly green, green, green. So though I tell her I am broken, unworthy, and there is something wrong with me - she is saying that everyone else sees green - I am strong, more than worthy and there is nothing wrong with me.  She even chuckled that my ex-husband spends his thoughts spinning stories so that he feels he has done no wrong. He is incapable of owning his mistakes and taking accountability. Whereas I spend my thoughts thinking how very wrong I am - when little, if anything I’ve ever done, has come from a bad place. I act out of love, I always do the best I can, and I consistently take the high road, admitting when I’ve made a mistake and owning up to it (only to find that people so easily forgive and love you anyway when you say ‘I’m sorry, I was wrong, I didn’t mean to be but it was my mistake!’).

Since this conversation with my mom, I’ve been repeating to myself: I’m green. I’m green. I’m green. I may not be like most other people. My intuitive nature may make me feel like a weirdo who is unrelatable but it doesn’t mean it is not accepted and loved for who I am, for my true nature.

Perhaps the wisest green friend of all, Kermit the Frog, said it best, “It’s not that easy being green….I’m green and it’ll do fine, it’s beautiful! And I think its what I want to be”.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Give It Time

The answer to everything seems to be “give it time” or in John Lennon’s words, “Let It Be”.  I’ve been in a rut since July.  A few missteps off my path lead to some hurt feelings and lessons learned.  It isn’t fair to say rut. Because it has all been good learning to stay on my path.

In the meantime while I’ve misstepped, been hurt and learned, my friends have all moved forward. Most recently my closest guy friend got a girlfriend and I saw on facebook that Chap even has a new girl.  Imagine that: a mean, monster-like person even found a new girlfriend. I couldn’t help feeling like I was staring at his next victim.

But back to the point, it feels like everyone is moving forward and I’m stuck in place.  

The overarching theme over the past few months has been the difference between ‘feeling something’ and ‘being something’. i.e. I ‘feel’ like I’m stuck in place. But am I really?  Next time a guy comes on super strong and my crazy-detector antenna goes off - will I ignore it just to have one good moment? No, because now I know you who someone is until words and actions align - and even after that it takes time to know what is underneath. And moreover, I learned I simply cannot handle jumping in fast.  Jumping in fast is a big risk when I could just ease in and end up with the same reward.  

On top of all of that learning - I am dating a really good guy!  I don’t know if he’s a fit or not yet, that needs time until I sort myself out.  But I found someone who treats me the way I always thought was possible but never thought I would actually see!  I don’t know how to feel his affection for me when I’m not feeling affection for myself right now.  It is interesting that when I start to take care of myself, I relax, and I feel more affection toward him.

So I’m not stuck with dating.

The one rut I have stayed in is blaming myself. A man in China could stub his toe and I would find a way to put the blame on me. The constant thoughts of ‘you aren’t good enough’ are paralyzing. They prevent me from feeling joy and prevent me from really moving forward.

I have fought these thoughts my whole life.  And at times I’ve had success - moving forward - realizing that I am lovable. I’m still working on “I am enough” (Interestingly my head knows I’m loveable even without feeling enough.  But I WANT to know that I’m enough.  When someone loves me, I want to know that I am worthy. And if someone doesn’t love me, I want to know that I was, am and always will be enough.).

I was going to write next “now I just need to learn how to let someone care for me” - but I am so tired of the ‘you should’ and ‘you need to’s - they are exhausting me. And it sounds like I’m not good enough, constantly saying I should be doing this or that better or different.

How can this be re-said - to be kinder and gentler to myself - to acknowledge the work that’s been done so far without making the work to come seem overwhelming?  How about: Now I can experience someone caring for me.  Although at times, the old path will seem easy to choose - feeling I’m not worthy. But I know inside I deserve it. And if anything, it is mine to chose who is worthy of caring for me. Knowing that when I care back, I do so freely and openly.

So I’ve learned. And I’ll misstep again and learn.  Right now the path to letting someone care for me is fuzzy. I’ve been hurt enough that it is scary to let anyone near - including family and friends. I like to curl up in a ball and hide when the hurt settles in.  But that’s not really a long-term option, so I’ll tip toe forward until my footing feels more sure and I’m on the right path.  Encouraging, not degrading myself on the way. Shaking off the blame and guilt that comes with each trigger, tip toe forward, tip toe forward, until I find my way.

Friday, September 12, 2014

What Do You Do When Feelings Don’t Grow?

It is a fact that The Good Doctor has treated me better than anyone. I didn’t have a childhood that was filled with encouragement, thoughtful surprises and positive reinforcement.  My mom flat out told me that I am not used to be given anything and now that someone is giving to me, I don’t know what to do with it.

It is also a fact that The Good Doctor turned the corner from get to know you to relationship in the blink of an eye.  It totally spooked me. I was still in ‘having fun getting to know you’ mode” and it felt like he was expecting me to be his girlfriend - so instead of texts being something I looked forward to, they felt like a chore. Rather than a date being something to get excited about, it felt like an obligation I had to do, even though I’m exhausted from many sleepless nights and I really want to spend an evening by myself.

I told The Good Doctor that I needed to slow this down. We skipped the dating part - going out and doing things and getting to know one another. I wasn’t ready to jump right in to something and the idea of jumping before I was ready meant pressure and expectations to me. He said he understood. Unfortunately, I had to have the same talk 3 different times in a few days and his actions aren’t changing.

He invites himself over to drop off thoughtful gifts or to help with something. In fact, every day I’ve been home, he’s invited himself over for some reason or another - I’m sure he’s just being thoughtful but for a girl who can’t get a minute to herself right now, it feels intrusive.

I do like him very much as a person. He has a ton of good attributes. He’s probably the best person I’ve dated.  So why aren’t my feelings growing? Or worse, why am I shrinking away from him? Instead of daydreaming about kissing him, I pull away when he tries to touch me. His little touches don’t feel endearing, they feel intrusive.

I don’t want to say “lets be friends” if I am pushing him away because I’m not used to being on the pedestal, but I don’t want to string him along if this is a simple case of missing chemistry.  I really do want to be friends, I want to continue to spend time together. Because the idea of hanging with him with no pressure or expectations at all is something I would look forward to. But reality of hanging out with him right now makes me glad I’m busy for a few days so I can have some space and live my life.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Making Mistakes and Learning the Language of the World

When I read the Alchemist I was so moved by the beauty and relevance of the book that I referred to it in a post: Thoughts from the Alchemist

This week Oprah interviewed the author of The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho - it was a beautiful interview with many gentle insights along the way that both warmed the heart and opened the eyes. Part 1 is available to watch online here.

One of my favorite quotes from the interview was, “You are always guided to meet the right person at the right moment” - there are many times in my life that I remember the exact moment that I knew someone was coming in to my life at the right moment.

Perhaps the most famous quote from the book is, “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

A combination of those two powerful thoughts has always been one of my guideposts - for example, I knew that I should write this blog. Even if it only touched one person, the right connection was established at the right time. I have a hunch that those of you who read this, found it at the right time in your life as well.

One of Paulo’s most poignant thoughts was when he said that in order to learn the 'Language of the World’ we must make mistakes. We will misstep when we are walking down our path and realize that is not the right way for us, and get back on the path. Then perhaps we step off again, but that is how we learn to read the signs that help guide us down our path - which will ultimately lead us to our own ‘Personal Legend’ (and if you want to learn more about what a Personal Legend is then you’ll have to read the book!)

Part 2 will air next Sunday on OWN.

Friday, September 5, 2014

It Can Be Scary Being on a Pedestal

For so long now I’ve known the goal was to meet a guy who would chase me. Who would put me on a pedestal. Who would treat me the way I’ve envied seeing other couples interact.

Here is when it hit me that The Good Doctor likes me. I don’t mean likes to hang out with me. I mean he - likes - me.

Where The Roofer was super complimentary about my looks and how fun it was to hang out, The Good Doctor compliments little things about my personality that he picks up on.

The Good Doctor brings me water and asks if I’d like a cup of tea. He makes sure that I’m both comfortable and happy. When he tells me he likes me, it is in a not over-the-top way, but at the same time his eyes are smiling.

This is amazing. Hands down, no caveats, it is amazing. And while my mind thinks how lucky I am to meet someone who is so special his own right, but also makes me feel cared for - my heart is terrified.  It bounces between being scared that I’ll let him down to a fear that he will realize I’m damaged and want to part of it.

My head says this is what I deserve. My heart says what if I’m not good enough.

It’s a different view up here, on someone’s pedestal. It’s not one I’ve seen before. It’s not one I am taking for granted. I want to be extra careful with his feelings while also respecting mine enough to give them they time they need to process this new view.

I told him that he met me while I’m still building, while I’m working on myself. And that work needs to continue while we hang out. He replied that he thinks I’ve done a great job so far and asked if there is anything he can do to help? I say thank you but it’s for me to continue to work on and he said even if it means I need some space, do what I need to do.

Right now when he compliments me, I can’t hear it. My head automatically tells me the opposite. I told The Good Doctor that I want to really be able to hear his compliments - that is the work that I still need to do.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Fixing a Leaky Roof-er

I waited until I was safely over The Roofer and then reached out and asked him what had happened. I’ve felt so ashamed since we ‘hung out’ and he dropped off the radar, that I wanted to know what happened so I wouldn’t get in that situation again.

He said he has been seeing someone for a few weeks. That he didn’t want any bad feelings becuase he thinks I’m great and would totally want to be friends because I’m “so fun to hang out with”.  I replied and said that things worked out the right way (I mean seriously, you are seeing someone and would want to hang out with a new girl as ‘just friends’ - show some decency!)

Obviously the news that he’s hanging with someone else really stung. How could he pick her and not me? But then I realized that I would have met The Good Doctor, and I would have picked him over The Roofer. Because although I thought The Roofer may be Mr. Right Now, I knew he was a far stretch from Mr. Right (also he didn’t know the correct use of your vs you’re).  Looking back I’m 99% sure he was dating the girl before he met me because a couple of timing things back then didn’t make sense but now they do.

Overall I’m glad I followed up, even though the sting of rejection immediately followed I was able to finally see that it really was ‘him not me’ - and I lucked out meeting someone who is showing me daily what it means to be cared for.