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The original title of this post was “Compersion Myths Discussed”, but it dawned on me how inherently negative that was, and my intention here is to write about positivity.  For this one I asked my community about what lessons they’ve learned about compersion through experience.  The results were diverse and educational.

Compersion: The feeling of joy one has experiencing another’s joy

In my experience, I struggled with compersion for a long time.  I have a lot of abandonment issues, and worse, fears that I won’t be left but merely set aside and humoured once in a while.  I have only had one relationship in my life survive a new partner, and that’s been my marriage.  I held my breath through NRE widow periods when I just ceased to exist.  I was expected to understand and smile and wish partners well when their new love wasn’t poly and couldn’t accept me.  I dealt with gradual ghostings where there was just less and less time for me.

I held a lot of these painful experiences on my shoulders, and they became me responsibility.  Who was I to write and speak about poly if I couldn’t find absolute blissful joy for my partners when they found new love?  I felt broken.  I felt like a fraud.  I felt lost.   I started to hide my anxieties.  Anyone who suffers from anxiety will tell you, hiding it and swallowing it only allows it to fester.  Oh and it festered, until it infected everything.  Then something amazing happened.  I found a partner who heard me.  He listened to my concerns and anxieties, and he didn’t tell me I was bad.  He didn’t tell me I was wrong.  We didn’t fight; we talked it out.

Something amazing happens when I feel safe, loved, and heard.  Compersion.  Something else happens.  Sometimes the anxiety, the insecurities, the real life logistical concerns don’t go away, and I’ve learned that it’s ok.  Compersion doesn’t replace needs.  All these things can coexist, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  It doesn’t mean I’m “failing poly”.  It doesn’t make me a horrible partner.  It makes you human.

So, I’ve been mulling over this for a few months, and it’s still something I go back and forth with, but I’ve started to do a few things.

  1.  I look at the situation and figure out if I’m really jealous of the time spent with someone else or that I’m stuck at work and they’re out doing something fun.  Usually it’s the latter.
  2. If I am jealous of the time spent with someone else, why?  Am I having a bad day?  Do I have a need I haven’t realized?  Do I merely miss my partner?  Being so far away from all of my partners means sometimes I just miss them, and I worry about the distance meaning I’m the last for them to find time with me.  I know this isn’t the reality of the relationship, but my brain is a jerk, friends.
  3. How can I resolve this feeling?  Is it adding a cool new item to the list of things to do when I see this person?  Is it voicing a need?  Is it reminding myself that we have tons of amazing memories and liking all the awesome pictures of what they’re doing on Facebook?  Usually it’s a combination of these things for me, because once I’ve sorted this I can appreciate the time they’re having.

This question lead to a few really interesting discussions, and I appreciated everyone who gave their perspective.

Here are a few:

Sometimes compersion isn’t feeling joyful or happy about your partner with someone else, sometimes it’s just acceptance.

Someone else responded here that “joy” is in the definition of the word compersion, and it’s true, but OP said something else that struck a chord.  Sometimes just the contentment of being able to accept something brings its own form of joy with it.  For some people, becoming aware of that step, or being able to find peace in a situation they might not feel comfortable or happy with, is a huge weight to release, and that is definitely a moment to revel in.  I remember the first time I gave Hubby’s girlfriend at the time a Valentine’s Day card thanking her for making him so happy.  It was a huge step and a freeing experience.  Even if she and I didn’t particularly get along.  Even if I didn’t agree with the way she conducted her relationships.  Even if I felt she intentionally sought to cause problems.  None of that mattered.  I was able to  be grateful for his happiness and accept her role in it.

You can grasp the concept AND still need to work to feel it.

Hallelujah! I’m glad someone said this, so I didn’t have to.  I’ve said it before in discussing the trials of newly opened relationships.  You can do all the reading.  You can do all the discussing.  You can learn all the buzzwords, and you’re still going to be caught off guard by emotions.  This is also one of those lessons.  Understanding compersion doesn’t mean you’ll master it on the first go any more than YouTube videos can teach you to swim.  You might be a natural.  You might get lucky and have a good first experience.  You might hit the water, feel it run up your nose, and panic.  And you know what?  Next time is going to be completely different, because no two days in your life are the same, and our experience is often flavoured by outside influences and conditions.  See above:  Am I having a bad day?   My advice.  Keep working.  Talk about it.  It’s worth it.

 

 It is in no way mandatory to feel compersion to be “real” poly. And sometimes, even if the majority of the time you do feel it, you’ll have moments where you don’t, and that’s okay too.

I’ve learned that compersion can’t be forced. And if you don’t feel it right away, you shouldn’t be hard on yourself. It’s hard for your head to understand that feeling sometime, and you just have to allow yourself to adjust.

The point here, is to not be hard on yourself if you don’t feel it.  This isn’t a free pass to be a jerk to your partner, but it is an opportunity to open up discussion.  Believe me when i say avoiding it all together is not a good idea in most cases.  Talk. Talk. Talk.  Do some internal searching. Talk some more.  If the opportunity is there, maybe spend some time with the other person involved.  I’ve found that learning the real person behind the outlandish abstract of infinite horrible worst case scenarios is a big help.

I admit, when they are on the verge of a new relationship, I still tend to get a little jealous, but once that feeling passes the compersion is definitely there. I think it’s adorable how excited they get talking to a new person and seeing them happy.

This is a really important thing to remember.  Compersion doesn’t have to be instantaneous to count.  Read it again.  Compersion does NOT have to be instantaneous to count.  Sometimes it takes some processing.  Sometimes it takes some discussion.  Sometimes it just takes a little exposure.  For the love of ice cream, don’t give up.  Did you see that second part?  It’s amazing!

You find it in the damnedest places and about the oddest things.

This is one of the most amusing things about compersion to me.  I can spend a month agonizing over how soon it’s going to be before I’m toast, then something clicks, something absolutely random.  For me it’s always been hearing that the other person mentioned me in passing.  An example of one of my random A-ha! moments of compersion was hitting Six Flags with Hubby and his new girl, which was also my birthday and the first time I’d ever met her, and watching her attempt to ride all the roller coasters with him.  I cannot, and will not, ride them, and seeing him find someone who would suck up her own fears and make it a personal challenge to ride ALL OF THEM was heartwarming.  Did I still have some anxieties after that?  Of course I did, because compersion is fluid.  Still, that was the moment I could see it, feel it, and enjoy it.

Feeling positive things for your partner comes back and improves all of your interactions.

Plain and simple, it does.  It reminds me every time why I chose poly.  It reminds me that I, too, can be open about new experiences and connections, and of how much love and support my partners give me when I’m on the other side of compersion.  It’s a helpful two-way street for me.  I find compersion by remembering that when I make a new connection none of the other fades, and that I am still madly in love with each of the partners in my life.  If I can do it, why should I be afraid that someone who has been good for and to me can not?  The joy this feeling gives me is one of the most fulfilling things a heart can experience, being grateful and surrounded by love, knowing that each of my partners still chooses me and that I am a part of a big beautiful web.  It leads to almost a reignited NRE feeling, and I’ve long since stopped having partners that make me an NRE widow, because that’s not healthy poly.  If I need time and assurance, I ask for it.  If they’re not willing to give it to me?  I decide if that’s behaviour I can accept.

I don’t feel jealousy often at all. I get envious of time spent sometimes, but most often, I experience compersion for anyone who is feeling loved and happy. I love love. I want to hear stories of love, good and bad, and I enjoy the energy people give off when they’re in love.
I am also a major introvert and I enjoy my ME time. Although I’ve been single for about 5 months, I am hardly ever without things to do. I’ve learned to love my time alone. So, when I do have a partner, and if they’re off with someone else, I will most likely find something to fill my time.

Hubby hates spicy food, and his partner, who lives with us, has some unfortunate food allergies.  Them being out means I can cook what I want.  With so many people in our small house, quiet alone time is rare.  This is how I first found at least a hint of compersion.  I found a hobby I would only do when Hubby was out with his girlfriend a the time.  In time, I came to look forward to their date nights.  It’s a little different now that my job and our living situation has changed, but there are ways to find a silver lining even when I might want to be out with them or feel lonely.

I am not really a jealous person, it’s just not something I often feel. I also don’t tend to feel possessive of my loves.
So with my partners, compersion is often finding joy that they are happy, loved, and fulfilled no matter what they are doing or with whom.
And I also admit that I enjoy the 20% when they are out and I get me time to do whatever as well.

It’s true.  There are people who don’t feel jealousy.  Good on them, really.  I realize this doesn’t mean they are without needs or anxieties.  Emotions and reactions manifest differently in different people.  I have a few partners who don’t experience jealousy, and for a while, again, I took it to mean there was something wrong with how I feel in a relationship.

 

Some additional comments from my people:

  • For me it’s a sign that you truly love someone… That you want them to be happy. Compersion is never about yourself. At least in my opinion.
  • That falling in love with the love someone has for someone else is both bizarre and absolutely wonderful. That you can get butterflies, for them.
  • It is good in the beginning hard then and ends up very good
  • Feeling compersion is great and comes easily to me, but I also experience sorrow when someone’s relationship is going through trouble. I try to fix things so they can be happy again, and so can I. And sometimes that just doesn’t happen.
  •  I’ve experienced it, makes me happy when I see him happy. Even if it isn’t me that is making him happy, why wouldn’t I be joyful for him?
  • I’ve never been jealous or possessive and i like to see people in my circle happy..it genuinely feels good to see . Always been that way.
  •  I get super excited when they are happy and talking about a new person…I find it just adorable! I don’t get jealous…the most I will get is envious of they are doing something that sounds fun that I would like to do but I am always happy when they are happy
  • I get all giggling and school girl like, and am like “tell me more, tell me more.”  I wanna know all the things. As my eyes are big and smile awaiting to hear so much more.
    Sometimes, though, if I feel a bit insecure in a relationship, I may not have as much compersion. That is when I rely on my partner to assure me of my place and value.

 

I think the most important line in this entire post is “at least in my opinion”.  There is no right or wrong way to feel, find, or work on compersion.  I , and a group of my friends, can only give you the words of experience.  Compersion, in my opinion, is one of the biggest hurdles in poly, and no one or nothing can make it happen.  Keep working.  Keep loving.  Keep moving forward.

 

Go now, find your joy.

Aloha

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This Ostara comes on the heels of an extremely trying winter.  A breakup, health issues, household stress, and the constant feeling that nothing I attempted to nurture would ever thrive made it almost impossible to focus on much of anything at a time of year that is generally when I’m the most productive.  As we approached Imbolc things began to lighten just a bit, but it was enough to give me enough hope to ride the waves that seemed to be carrying me way deeper than I thought I could find my way back from.

Then I was asked to be a voice.  I was invited to speak to a small group of women about my experience and the lessons learned doing Good Girl and how my life has been changed by it all.  I talked for a long time, and I’m sure I said a lot of useful things, but the one thing that stuck out in my mind was the very first bullet point.

Healing is not a one time event.

Let me repeat that.  Healing is NOT a one time event.  

Well, hell, guys.  For a year I’ve been beating myself up because I thought I was failing, convinced that all the progress I thought I’d made was a lie, when really I was learning how to live again in a whole new way.  I needed to cut myself a little slack and acknowledge how far I’d actually come, even if it seemed like I’d been stumbling and bumbling my way through most of it.

I tried to keep that in mind as Ostara approached, and yesterday as the sun rose around my plane I felt it filling me with a new energy I’ve never felt before, and it dawned on me. I haven’t been failing all winter.  I haven’t been fallow.  I haven’t neglected my seeds.  For the first time in my life I went deeper into the dark season than ever before, and when I emerged I was truly transformed.  I was taken to the brink, and yeah, I had to die a little to really complete my chrysalis.  What Ostara brought me this year was not just new light or new growth but new life, new eyes, and new  breath.

Is all the stress and pain gone?  No, that’s real life.  Healing and lessons and growth don’t wait until it’s convenient for mundane life, but the choice is mine to focus behind me on the cold darkness of winter or look ahead of me to the bright warmth of the coming seasons.  The dark will return as the wheel turns, but I know I can not only survive it but pull from it the lessons of my deepest fathoms.

No, healing is not a one time event, and I don’t in any way believe it’s all over, but along with that healing I have grown to a new level of awareness and empathy, of intuition and intensity, of passion and power.  I have claimed my place in the universe.  I am ready to use the stardust with which I was born.

A year ago I thought I was at the end of a process.  The road to Good Girl had been full of obstacles to overcome and cliffs to jump from, but I had done it, and it felt fantastic.  I remember feeling the weight being lifted from me as I threw all the pain and rage the months of work has dredged from deep inside me into the words coming out of my mouth, and no matter how many nerves I felt or mistakes I made, none of it mattered.  In the end, no one remembered the missed words or the fact that I buttoned my blazer all crooked.  What they remembered was the victory in my eyes at the end.

I’ve written a few times about the healing process and the lessons I’ve learned since the show.  The work healing leaves behind.  The illness still to heal.  The tools yet to learn.  I made mistakes.  I lost people.  Love.  Friends.  Trust.  I tried to do what I thought was best, but I wasn’t yet equipped.  So, I got sick.

Hollywood lies to us about nervous breakdowns.  They’re not always a single moment of complete self-destruction and devastation.  Sometimes it’s months of standing outside yourself screaming “why are you doing this?!?”  Sometimes it’s knowing you’re pushing people away and watching them go and not knowing how to make it stop.  Sometimes it’s losing yourself, because while purging the parts that no longer served me I failed to care for the budding parts of me that were genuine and healthy, and they were dying.  I was dying.

The first time I shared my video was hard.  “It’s heavy,” I warned people before they watched it.  It was the same feeling I had when found me at the theatre to tell me how strong I was or how much they liked it.  I know I had done something big, but I didn’t know how to accept that I may have caused an emotional reaction in others.  I didn’t want pity, I didn’t want sadness, I didn’t want anyone to look at me differently. I avoided the video for a long time.  It was one thing for me to be performing it, focused on the audience and the words and the stage positions.  It was quite another to watch it without distractions.

It was a new love who finally got me to watch it.  We watched together, and it took all of my willpower not to talk over it or give it the Mystery Science Theater treatment.  He had wanted to know that part of me, and it was not my place to ruin that experience for him, so we sat on the couch together one night and watched the girl on the screen pour her heart out to us both.  This love told me he admired me for the work I’d done, for the strength I possessed, for all the things I had not yet learned to acknowledge.  He saw the things that were dying, and as I began to lose my grasp on them I lost him, too, and I questioned all the work I had done.

Yesterday marked a year since opening night.  I wrote a post to commemorate the anniversary, and at the last moment I linked the video.  There was no warning, no worry, and no way to know what would come of it, but by the end of the day I had no less than five message from people who had never seen the video before telling me how much they needed it.  No pity, no praise, just thanks for being a guide on a road they were just beginning.

Good Girl gave me a new chance to live my life and to develop new tools, but it also gave me the responsibility to share my stories and help those who feel alone on their paths.  Hearing from peers how inspired they were to find their strength and take a stand in their own lives reminded me that I am a warrior, a healer, and a teacher, and while I have a lot of work yet to do I’ve also come a long way on my journey.

 

Good Girl wasn’t the end of a process, it was the beginning of a revolution.  Again, my story is not unique but that’s why I must keep telling it.  Together our stories will set us free.

Aloha

 

Go now, be free.

 

Mabon, the second and middle harvest, is a day of balance, sharing, and “reaping what we sow”.  It’s the time for contemplation and awareness of the thin line between light and dark.  It’s a time for valuing and conserving.

We celebrate, but we also start to look towards what needs to be completed.  What is reaching a natural end?  What projects need to be wrapped up?  What ones have run fallow and need to be let go so that we have enough to make it through the winter?

Quite often our rituals focus on celebrations to fuel us as we wrap up the tasks of our fruitful seasons.  In my case, I’ve always planted my seeds at Mabon, and the dark season has become my fruitful season.

This year Mabon hits us at the tail end of what has been an extremely rough Mercury Retrograde for most people close to me, heightening the need for balance and contemplation.  It’s hurt a lot, even by my standards, and I’ve felt all week like many of us are being set up for some pretty serious trials, but out of it I can feel the rich soil I’m cultivating for the months ahead.

As always, my Mabon solitary celebration takes a closer look at balance.  This time it’s opening me up to just how much the dark side of that light/dark balance affects me.  I’ve been meditating on how it can aid me instead of holding me back and how to go about using it properly.  Because of the retrograde I’ve been extremely raw and emotional.  Miscommunication is rampant.  Relationships are teetering.  Plans are failing.  My world is burning to the ground, and while it took more than one match, I’m holding one of them.  There’s very little light left to cling to for the season, and what there is is blinded by the conflagration.  Fire.  What is fire but light in the darkness?  What is fire if not the transformation we started at Lughnassad.  What is fire if not a chance for rebuilding.  Still, there has to be balance.  I cannot just let uncontrolled fires rage, and while the ones on the outside might be out of my control, the ones on the inside are my power and passion, and the key to not being consumed by them is to use their light to create that balance.

I decided weeks ago that the period between Mabon and Samhain would be a period of stepping back and contemplating my life and all the questions Mabon asks of us.  The results of retrograde may have shouted them in my face, but the quiet creeping darkness of the days to follow will help be find the dark places I need to reconcile myself with.  The fading light I feel around me gives me just enough to see the outline of the trials before me, but not enough to know where they’ll lead me, and that’s part of the lesson.

Mabon is a twilight.  It will help me let go where I need to in order to preserve my energy for the storms worth weathering this winter, because they’re coming.  The twilight reminds us that the deep dark is coming, and we can’t avoid it.  We must embrace the chaos of the storm to survive it, and we must embrace the unseen in the darkness to navigate it.  I have to have faith that I can.

 

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Aloha

Go now, find your balance.

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Lughnasadh always brings an interesting energy with it.  While Lugh won a lot of trials in his life through sheer skill, some of that skill was humour and wit, and there is never a shortage of humour or wit in the messages that come through this time of year.  But what else?  In honouring Lugh we remember the funerary games he organized for his foster mother, Tailtiu. We play games of skill and celebrate our respective talents.  We dance, sing, enjoy the life energy of summer thriving around us.  Now let’s incorporate the celebration of Lamas, the first harvest.  Traditionally the first grains would be used to make bread to bless the occasion as the community came together to enjoy the bounty of harvest.  Sometimes bread was baked in the shape of the Green Man in honour of the sacrifice he gives so that we may thrive.  In all of this there is a theme of both celebration of the light and recognition of the dark as we begin to notice the days shortening, reminding us to be thankful for the harvest that will sustain us in the coming winter.

In my practice I’ve used it as a time to cleanse and bless my hearth and home, fortifying our household for the year to come with the rich energies of summer.  This year I took a deeper look at that practice.  Yes, I will probably still cleanse our home and reinforce our crystal grids, but the more meditation I’ve done the more thought I’ve given to the “hearth” in my life.  While my tangible household is a brick and mortar place, my home is transient, my family scattered between the coasts, farther once I incorporate metamours.  So what of this tribe?  What of our hearth?  How can we be cleansed and fortified for the year to come?

The beautiful thing about our Ohana is that everyone, no matter how far away or how little involved, brings something to the tribe.  We each have our strengths, skills and talents that enrich the energy of the whole.  There is not a single one of us who doesn’t work hard and strive to really experience life in their own way, and this energy finds its way to the core of what makes us strong as a unit.  Those skills and strengths become our grains, and with some nurturing and encouraging, those talents flourish.  Through their harvest we begin to manifest our best selves, and we become the bread men of Lamas, ingested to feel the blessings of the very earth that grounds and holds us.  So, the hearth?  The hearth is community, fired with our dedication to each other.  It’s love, support, and solidarity, but it’s also sacrifice.  We each give at one point or another so that the others may thrive.  When each of my partners’ family becomes my family, and we weave a web of compassion and love, we become a strong tribe.  Through that web we feel each other’s joy and pain.  Through that web none of us can starve no matter how cold the winter might get, and because we’ve got Lugh on our side we do it with the flare of laughter and maybe some smartassery.  Ok, a lot of smartassery.

Aloha, and Blessed Lughnasadh

Go now, celebrate your talents!

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New relationships give us all sorts of opportunities.  A new partner means all these new frontiers to explore, don’t they?  Suddenly we’re interested in couples Wii bowling tournaments and Faberge egg painting, and we make all these plans like they’re blueprints for this new relationship.  Then reality sets in.  Wii bowling happens on a work night, and neither of you can paint a fence let alone a hollowed out egg.  Instantly there are all these unmet expectations.  Now throw in the fact that this is a new person you’re learning, and no matter how many times you’ve dreamily cooed the phrase “it feels like I’ve known you forever” it’s been two months, and you’re still learning to communicate and exist on this planet together.  This is where hopes get let down, miscommunication runs rampant, and because NRE has the happy gauge turned up to High Octane, these small disappointments feel world ending.  Sometimes they feel relationship ending.

This is where real life has to interfere for the relationship to survive, and as comfort levels are established we must be willing to let some of those expectations be set aside for a rainy day, reshaped a little, ot even just released back into the wild.  Maybe you buy a Wii and bowl at home.  Maybe you take a Vino and Van Gogh class one weekend, get smashed, and paint nothing put stick figures and butts.  Maybe you find something else that excites you.  The key is to adapt, because at some point the letdowns get bigger; it’s a fact of life that no relationship, yes even yours, is perfect.  If you can’t handle the reality that your partner hated the recipe you learned because she said she likes lasagna, how are you going to survive when you find out she whistles in her sleep and keeps you awake, when the perfect night out you planned in your head ends up on the couch in pj’s because one of you had an awful day, when tears are in her eyes because you weren’t even aware you’d done something hurtful?  These things will happen, and these little compromises on expectations build the foundation for a relationship that can sustain them.

I’ve said it before.  NRE is a roller-coaster, friends, and sometimes one partner gets off the ride before the other.  What then?  You will never survive this blow if you’ve let every other changed expectation tear at you.  This is where the true strength of a relationship is tested.  This is where you find out what you can do together, and once again you adapt.  This is where love and compassion can mean everything.  This is where reaching out and the little things that define your relationship are imperative, because they’re so easily left behind when the ride is over.

There is no other message here.  Just let that one sink in a bit.

Aloha.

Go now.  Hold on tight.

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Yesterday was Beltane, and I didn’t have sex once. In fact, I turned it down for physical reasons. Later that day an acquaintance posted how hard Beltane was for those who are single or otherwise unable to have sex, and I realized just how many people miss the point. Yes, the lore of Beltane centers around sex, but like any lore, there are layers and layers of meaning, and no one meaning is correct. I’ve always had issues with events that center around kink and sex in relation to Beltane, because I feel like so much is lost in the need to free the libertine, especially in a group setting.
Let’s step back a moment, and I’ll tell you a story.

Two years ago I started running. My first focus was consistency. Making it happen on a regular basis was a struggle, but last year I began to focus on theat first mile. How was it improving as i went? How was I feeling after each new time landmark? Was I keeping that time and endurance consistent? Last week I hit a pretty big deviation in my mile. It wanted more. Not just faster, but it wanted more….something. Today I threw it all off course. Instead of the straight timed distance run, and int he spirit of the season, I chose a multilevel course on the elliptical that mimics a run through a state park. Despite the extra complexity, it shaved a noticeable chunk of time off my first mile, and an internal check begged me to keep going. By the time i was done with the second mile I was ready for more. Unfortunately I had more to accomplish today, but the energy raised by that second mile was powerful.
So, back to Beltane. Yesterday I recognized the energy of the season manifesting differently. There were primal urges, yes, but there was so much more beneath it. You see, Beltane isn’t about what fuels us, it’s about the spark that ignites us to push to heights we didn’t know we were capable of. It takes us out of a comfort zone and tell us to quit limiting ourselves to what we think we’re ready for. It reminds us we are beings of powerful energy and awe inspiring abilities. That we can make change and manifest our lives in ways even we can’t imagine yet. Yes, many people find that inspiration and raw power in sex, because it’s one of the most primal ways we have of letting go and letting our real power surge inside us. Sex makes us, for an instant, a different being all together. It allows us to step outside of our physical existence and experience the world around us, the universe, and yes, other humans, in ways the body cannot.
So no, this Beltane I didn’t have sex once…..but the spark of Beltane was very much alive inside me.

Aloha.

Go now, feel the spark.

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A partner recently told me “you need to be confident to be with me”.  My first reaction was to wonder why he was with me in the first place.  My next was a dissection of exactly what “confidence” means.   As little girls we are conditioned to believe that confidence is expressed in catty competitions with other little girls.  As confident women we are called conceited, bitchy, and shrewish.    As a woman who has had to suck it up and be all of these things at one point in my life, I hate the word “confident”.  I haven’t survived the worst parts of my life because I was confident.  I don’t keep pushing forward, growing, learning because I’m confident.  Strong, sometimes.  Stubborn, undoubtedly.  But confident?  Where does it come into any of this?

I first had to ask myself this:  What is confidence, and where does it become hubris?  Am I confident for wearing a two-piece bathing suit with an extra forty pounds on me?  Was I confident when I quit a stable job to chase a career in hopes it was the best move for my family?  Was I confident when I stepped out on a stage and shared some of the most vulnerable moments in my life?  Or was it stupid?  When we talk about risk and the unknown, what’s the difference?

The answer was simply: The difference is knowing it might fail, accepting that, and not givingup so easily.

You see, confidence does not mean I’m not also scared shitless, that I don’t sometimes feel like I’m a mess just faking it well enough to get through the day, that I don’t have moments where I am an intricately and inexorably flawed human.  Confidence is not the absence of weakness or doubt, but the willingness to meet it head on and give it a decent fight.  It means knowing that sometimes I’m not going to be good enough, and that’s okay.  It’s knowing I’m going to fail and trusting myself to heal from it and learn something from the experience.  It’s continuing to give all of myself in good faith that I’m contributing something to the world, to my family, to just one person.  It’s getting up and telling my story over and over again no matter how rote it may feel because it might help someone find their own strength.

So, back to the matter at hand.  Am I confident?  I honestly have no idea.

I don’t strive for confidence.  That’s a superficial battle.  What I strive for is courage, compassion, and a little adventure on this journey.  The rest will come.

 

Aloha.

Go now, cultivate.

 

Coping-With-Anxiety-and-Depression-722x406

 

This past weekend was a hard lesson for me in healing.   I let anxiety win, and it was……quite the spectacle.  What happened behind the scenes was even worse.  I convinced myself I was a fraud.  I convinced myself I was worthless.  I convinced myself there never had been hope for me.  I looked back at the work I’ve done over the past two years and felt like I’d been lying to myself.  Then I removed myself from the situation and remembered what it felt like standing on that stage by myself without anyone there to help me.  The power I felt in telling a part of my story.  The shift I felt inside me when I stopped fearing the unforeseeable and took hold of what’s mine.  My life.  That was not a lie.  That could not have been false.

I’ve written a lot about healing and the way my life has changed since my experience with Good Girl.  What I have not written about is the backsliding.  What I haven’t written about is the doubt and the fear that the healing was some delusional fantasy that anything has changed.  What I haven’t written about are the mistakes we make, because after decades of making the same ones over and over again, these are new, terrifying mistakes.  It’s so easy to wonder if the change was worth it, because the demons we’re accustomed too are much easier to quell than new ones that might try to manifest in our lives.  The answer is yes, it’s worth it.  All of it, and the mistakes don’t unravel a single bit of it.

We’re told healing is hard.  We’re told it’s a process.  We’re told it’s painful.  We’re never told how much maintenance it requires and how much of an adjustment it is to our daily lives.  We have this idea that healing makes everything better, filling our lives with sunshine and rainbows and cute little kittens.  What we don’t realize is that healing is NOT a panacea.  It doesn’t make anything go away, it just gives us the resources to deal with it and to navigate new challenges that arise in a healthy manner.  It doesn’t change learned behaviours.  It doesn’t erase anxiety, depression, PTSD, or physical illness.  It merely gives us better moves with which to fight and an understanding of how to fix what we break.  Healing is not curing.  Healing is taking something we once let run our lives into the ground and use it instead to fuel us to keep thriving.

The reality is that while healing is an internal process it requires external maintenance in ways we never experience when the stakes are low.  My lesson wasn’t just painful for me; I hurt someone I love.  It’s up to me to face that, do what I can to repair it, and do the internal work to ensure it doesn’t happen again.  In the past it either wouldn’t have been healthy enough to matter or I would have just logged it with the other good things I let myself ruin.  In the past few months it’s become more apparent where the healing could not help me because the problems I have are biological, so I’ve had to bite the bullet and admit there are things I can’t fix without medical help…then actually seek it.  These things are no longer buried under me.  They’re out in the open, they’re manageable, and they’re in the way of the life I want to live. Lastly, I have recognized things in my life that I was once passionate about but no longer serve that quick fix need in my life.  There’s been a twinge of nostalgic panic as I begin to let those things go to focus on what’s really important in my life, but I’m decluttering and setting new goals.

You see, healing is a battle cry that screams “you no longer have power over me”.  You won’t win the battle just because you’ve healed, but it will give you a fighting chance.

 

My husband has a new girlfriend.  She’s young, she’s cute, she’s skinny, she’s bendy, and she has a pretty high pain threshold.  She has the long hair he always tells me he wishes I could grow, and they click like kin.  I’m happy he’s happy, but as I’ve mentioned before, poly will draw every insecurity, every self-doubt, every self conceived blight you have ever had, and I am not known for my high self-esteem.  This is not the reason we have issues, honest.  Really that’s because she lied to me, and I hold grudges, which is something else I’m working on.  It’s something I’m constantly working on, but occasionally old habits rear their bitter heads.

Feelings of physical inadequacy can tear down any relationship if you let them, but this has the potential to be detrimental to a poly relationship.  It would be easy for me to think this girl is Hubby’s trophy girl, but it’d be all my own internal baggage.  He has not stopped looking at me or telling me he thinks I’m beautiful.  Our intimacy has not waned or changed in any way. 

 I have no reason to let these fears creep back up inside me, but I admit I sometimes when new partners enter the equation.  When Hubby met his first girlfriend, Emmy, I had just started to be sick with what would later be diagnosed as fibromyalgia.  I was sick, I was weak, and it hurt just to be touched.  For a very long time sex was out of the question.  Emmy, on the other hand, was just starting to explore herself and was loving the new experiences Hubby was able to offer.  Hubby never told me he was disappointed, but it was palpable every time he tried to touch me and my body just couldn’t take the pain.  I felt like a failure as a wife and lover, and while I was happy he was taking this new step in our poly life I also felt a tinge of inadequacy.  It was a very trying time in our marriage, and there were times I listened to the voice that told me he could only stand to stay with his invalid of a wife because he could still get his rocks off somewhere else.  It was an extremely negative thought process that only lead to more negativity.  I grew bitter, resentful, and depressed, and eventually I took it out on him.

The further decline and eventual improvement of my health forced a huge change in attitude and perspective.  I decided that if my marriage was going to survive I needed to stop looking at it as a need for him to find something more desirable.  Instead I learned to celebrate my strengths and experience and know that I am just as desirable to him as I always have been.  He may have someone young and sexy to have fun with, but he still comes home to me with the same heated fervor.   While there is the new shiny factor that comes with all NRE we have a passionate bond that only time and knowing each other’s ins and outs can bring.  I still see the want and need in his eyes, and he lets me know all the time that he thinks I’m beautiful.

In my head I accepted his love and admiration long ago, but I try to keep this perspective in mind whenever the voices of doubt and insecurity, and sometimes a little envy, creep into my heart.  All that comes from negativity is a self-fulfilling prophecy.  If I act on the venomous emotions and thoughts I become ugly and undesirable, somebody no one wants to be around.  This is when I lose him.  This is when he seeks others not because of his own love and freedom but to be away from me.  It’s not my physical baggage that pushes him away, it’s the mental and emotional.  Luckily that’s something I can fix.

I feel thankful every day that I have someone who joins me in ogling men and women when we’re out, who is overjoyed when he feels he’s snagged a looker and never minds sharing, and who is proud of me when I manage a fine catch myself.  Hubby lets me know constantly that I am his dream woman.  Even on my worst days he reminds me that I’m beautiful, capable, sexy, and smart.  I still catch his eyes watching me, and he is just as playful and romantic as the day we met.  Through ups and downs, problems with other partners, and bad experiences, he has never let me feel ugly or worthless.

So, yes, my husband has a new girlfriend.  She’s young, she’s cute, she’s skinny, she’s bendy, and she has a pretty high pain threshold.  She has the long hair he always tells me he wishes I could grow, and they click like kin.  I am happy he’s happy, and I am learning to forgive and let go of past indiscretions.  I also hear she’s quite fond of me and my body, and I am determined not to let my tainted self-esteem close that door to me.   After all, she’s young, she’s cute, she’s skinny, she’s bendy, and she has a pretty high pain tolerance.

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