You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Love’ tag.

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

Advertisements

The idea of kitchen table poly has always appealed to me.  I was an only child, and having a chosen family structure is an imperative part of my life. That being said, the key word here is”chosen”, which implies a choice, and by placing an “ideal”on something we strip away its choice.  Here’s the rub.

In many cases it’s a fairly simple equation. My partner and I have a loving relationship.  They and their other partners have loving relationships.  I love people who make my people happy.  Come to my table!  Sometimes, however, people don’t get along.  I can’t force anyone to like me.  I can’t force anyone to want to get to know me.  I can’t force anyone to want anything to do with me.  In that same vein, I can’t force my partners to get along.  Ideal vs free will reality, and with free will reality comes a choice.

Do I cling to the Rockwellian portrait of poly I’d love to see or so I adjust expectations and keep my heart, and the seats at my table, open? 

Enter The Community Table.

It’s possible to maintain the spirit and ideals behind Kitchen Table Poly and adapt to free will reality, you just have to tweak perspective a little.  As a kid, my parents were divorced, and those households treated dinner very differently.  At my Dad’s house dinner was 1700 every night, Hell or high water, and it was expected that everyone would be there every single night.  To this day, if you call that house at dinner time someone better be dying. My mom, however, ran things a little more fluidly, depending on schedules and when people were hungry.  If she cooked and you weren’t hungry, you could sit and chat.  If you were busy with homework or something else was happening, as long as you respectfully let her know what was going on there was no harm done.  My friends knew there was a seat for them at our table, on our couch, in our home, whenever they needed it, day or night.  Two tables. Two very different ways of approaching the same experience.

I’ve recently started to see the images in my mind of the ideal situation change to incorporate my mom’s adaptable Community Table approach to my life in general, not just my poly.  If you’re a part of my Ohana there is a seat for you at my table, regardless of whether or not you ever use it or want it.  The people of my people are also my people, and in times of need nothing else matters.  My mom didn’t necessarily approve of all of my friends.  I know for a fact there were a few she couldn’t stand, but if they were hungry they were welcome.  She might not choose to eat dinner with us, but it didn’t mean I had to send them away.  The Community Table gave all of us an open invitation, a place at the table, and a choice, and this is what poly, what family, is about for me.

The Community Table leaves the lines of communication open and supports the opportunity to build relationships without pressure or finality.  It authenticates freedom of choice by allowing every day to be a new choice, and it gives us all the room to grown and adapt as the table changes shape and size.  The Community Table becomes the access point for my life and my Ohana, where no one is pressured or sent away, and that’s my “ideal” situation.

Aloha.

Go now.  Find your seat.

2015-02-23-EatingTogether

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted here.  There’s been a lot of change, and it’s been good, but I didn’t feel prepared to really put it all down on “paper” until I had come through the brunt of it, and as you know if you’ve been playing along at home…Mabon is generally “the brunt of it”.

The last year of my life has been nothing short of a chrysalis for me.  Last October found me shattered, heartbroken, and frankly, fed the fuck up.  I haven’t spoken up much about my ex, but what I thought to be a turning stone turned out to be my last mountain to summit.  He was the fist relationship I’d started after Good Girl and the healing the entire experience brought to my life.  It felt healthy and full and open…but it wasn’t.  It was manipulative and extremely unhealthy for both of us.  After the dust had cleared I realized it was a final test to see if I’d retained any of the lessons at all.  Or maybe it was the final fire I needed to really get rid of all the emotional rubbish I’d been harbouring.  In any case, the fall of that relationship was the avalanche that got the momentum started.

A year later I can say I’ve had an amazing journey around the wheel.  I committed to a partner in one of the most beautiful commitment/family blending ceremonies I could have ever imagined.  I have new relationships that have shown me what it is to be loved, respected, and trusted.  My failed relationship showed me where I needed improvement, and these new partners have been nothing but supportive of my growth.  We communicate in ways I never would have before.  I am safe.  I am healthy.  I am improving my physical and mental health.  My marriage has become a home again.  I’ve stopped keeping people in my life who drain me, and I’ve stopped feeling guilty about letting them down.  I’ve started stating my boundaries, asking for what I want and need, and finding creative ways to compromise.  All because, frankly, I was fed the fuck up, and it showed me how much I betray myself by sacrificing her for people, jobs, anything that isn’t healthy for her.  I owe myself better.

In comes October, my emotional PTSD boss level with all its painful anniversaries and reminders of loss and hardship.  It’s been said that my seasons turn in such a way that I plant my seeds in the fall instead of the spring, and it’s always been true, but before seeds can be nurtured the detritus from years past must be torn out.  October.

I can’t say I have it all figured out.  I can’t say this is the culmination of anything really.  I’m sure there’s another test.  Another transformation.  Another period of growth.  Honestly, I hope there are many, because this is how we live and shine and become better humans.  This year feels different.  I feel stronger spiritually, and I look forward to the path ahead of me.  I’ve taken on the role of a mentor and teacher, and for once I feel like people actually acknowledge that I do carry some wisdom and experience.  I’m not a child.  I’m not a newb.  I’m not by any means at the end of my learning path, but I can contribute to my tribe.  As I mature in my Mother phase, I feel my Crone calling to me, and that’s something I’ll talk about more in-depth later, but I feel ready.  I can embrace all of it and keep moving forward.

I hope you’ll all stick around to see where the journey takes me.

Go now…then come back when it feels right.

Aloha.

 

FB_IMG_1442250363937

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.

Admittedly this post is long past due.  Admittedly this lesson is one I should have learned long ago.  Admittedly this is something I should have foreseen.  Admittedly, there’s still a lot I don’t know.

The window between Mabon and Samhain is always a trial for me.  It’s full of landmines…anniversaries of loss and old wounds, PTSD triggers, and every year there’s something new, but every year I come out of it renewed somehow.

I’ve written twice now about the reality of healing and my experience post-Good Girl.  Every single thing I’ve experienced in the year since the show has been a first-time experience, and not all of it has been a smooth transition.  The area I’ve struggled the most has been relationships.  My marriage is improving, but there are bumps in that road as I learn how to speak up for myself.  I got engaged in April to my partner in California, and forging a new serious commitment has shown me how much the past ten years have changed me.  It’s all helped me find pieces of myself I’d forgotten were ever important, but it’s also shown me where the wounds I started healing in 2015 were holding me back from being wholly present in any relationship.

Then there was this new relationship.  It was unexpected, intense, and an all together new experience for me.  Then I botched it.  Oops.  Admittedly there was some hardwiring that needed to be reworked before I tried to start any kind of relationship, especially one I wanted around for a while, but I didn’t know that.  I knew I’d healed a lot.  I knew I was still working on things.  I knew there was no precedent for this in my life, because I had never been this version of myself in a relationship before.  The problem was…I didn’t know how to be that person in a relationship, so I undulated constantly between a healing me and worrying about whether of not I was doing it right.  In addition, I was just starting the long process of getting the medication I needed, and knowing help for my chemical issues was coming but delayed just made all my issues worse.  Neither of us was perfect, but I will accept the parts of the perfect storm that were my fault in tainting what was a strong, healthy, happy relationship.  Lo and behold, just after Mabon we have the fight that precipitates the end, and I spend a chunk of my time trying to sort it all out.  By the end of the first round of serious journeys I realized this was just a symptom of a bigger problem, but it was a tangible one, so I could focus on it.

With this new information, a new series of introspection began.  What was this bigger problem?

As Samhain approached and I began to make my connections to those who had passed in the last year, then those who had passed from my life, the messages I got were clear.  I needed to die.  I’ve spent my entire life fielding suicide attempts and health crises.  I’ve burnt myself to the ground and rebuilt my life numerous times.  I’ve felt dead inside on a regular basis for years.  What I’ve never done is actually die.  What I’ve never done is shed the part of me that cannot be healed.

When Allen Ginsberg first met Lucien Carr and began to really discover himself they decided they needed to die, but their symbolic suicides almost ended in accidental actual suicide, and I was not ready to take that kind of clutz awareness test.  However, part of my spiritual growth this year has involved impromptu rituals and journeys.  It wasn’t pretty or elaborate.  It honestly started with a candle to make the bedroom smell pretty while I started my NaNoWriMo outline, but I quickly found myself immersed in a working to sacrifice myself completely.  You see, when I began to heal I also began to die, an aspect of me anyway, and she was still in there dragging me to the bottom.  In this vision I found myself dredging her up, drowning with her, and emerging as the person I’ve felt calling to me for almost a year.

This new me is still scared sometimes.  She still hurts.  She still bleeds.  She still loves unconditionally and wants to believe the best.  She still tries, takes risks, and she will still fail at things, but this new me is tired of dying slowly.  The worst has happened.  I’ve died, and I’ve survived it.  While I don’t know that this relationship can be salvaged, I do know it’s taught me a very important lesson about myself and several about other people, and it’s been the source of invaluable memories and love.  Does it still hurt if it’s completely over?  That’s human, and I accept that I am human, but I also accept that the world is full of possibility, and I’m tired of being afraid of it.

 

Aloha.

Go now, die and survive it.

full_corn_moon

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!

mom

Twenty years ago I learned a veritable tome of lessons, some of which I’m just learning now, and it seems unbelievable to me that I can look back at anything in my life knowing it happened twenty years ago.  My mom taught me a lot about life while she was alive, and I’ve mentioned that before.  She taught me compassion, strength, and determination.  She taught me to seek adventure and levity in everything, to make people laugh whenever you can, and to live and love with all your heart no matter how scary the world feels.  She taught me to trust my instinct and eschew advice that doesn’t feel right.  She taught me to be myself.

What my mother’s death taught me was open honesty.  You never know when the last time you say “I love you” or “good morning” or “good night” will be the last.  It’s made me vulnerable at times, and I’ve had to learn to accept when it’s not reciprocated, but hey, another lesson, right?

But you see, it also taught me some less than positive lessons.  At twelve years old I was already well aware that I was different.  I didn’t have many friends, my anxiety and depression were already in full swing, and I’d already thought about suicide more times than I can remember now.  I needed help, and I was constantly told I was wrong, broken, or worse…that I was fine.  I was fat, I was slow, and I was constantly missing the mark.  At twelve I had already had at least one nervous breakdown, I was scared of losing everyone I loved, and I had been proven correct.  At twelve I discovered my intuition and empathy in the worst way, and I hated it, so at twelve I learned to hide.  I learned to expect the worst.  I learned to expect to be alone.  I learned that change is terrifying.  I learned to build walls, and forgot all those lessons about love and life and laughter.

When I started the Power of One it was immediately pointed out to me that when I’m uncomfortable or anxious I smile.  It’s a skill I developed at a very young age, but I imagine I perfected it at my mother’s funeral.  Since then it became a crutch I used to get me through parts of my life I felt I could not navigate, and it began to cloud the genuine me.  I’ve been lucky enough to have people in my life who could see through the fog and find that genuine me, but for most of my life I haven’t been able to see her myself.  I’ve merely been relying on the testaments of others who tell me they see her, like a fairy tale buried deep inside me.  As the lessons from my mother started to actually take root and as my intuition and empathy refused to be ignored, life got harder, and the more I stayed inside my walls the more the fires outside tried to cook me out. I tried to let myself be vulnerable…to the wrong people at the wrong times.  I tried to be happy…all the time, and ended up holding in the pain and sadness until I couldn’t, resulting in some pretty spectacular meltdowns.   I tried to be strong and independent…and all I did was feel more like a failure.

In the year since I seriously started putting effort into my transformation, I’ve worked on being open without being overbearing, happy without using it to cover up when I’m not, and to know when I can be strong alone and when I need to reach out for help. Not all has gone according to plan, but if my mom’s death taught me none of this other bullshit, it taught me that life doesn’t care about your plans, and unpredictability brings as much serendipity as it does tragedy, and the only control I really have is how I choose to react to it, process it, and move on with my life.    Losing my mother was not the first tragedy I’d faced in my life, but it was the first one I felt like I was facing alone.  The truth is, every situation we face in life we face alone, even if we have the strongest support system on earth, because we’re the only ones who can do the internal work it takes for real survival…and real living.

 

Love you, Mom.  Thanks for still teaching me.  after all these years.

 

Go now, keep learning..keep living….

Aloha.

bpd2

I was told to write out what I would say to you if I could tell you how to make a relationship work with someone with BPD, someone like me.  For some of you it’s too late.  The damage is done.  I’ve hurt you irreparably, broken trust, and shattered security.  We’ve already reprogrammed our relationship to be what it can despite those things, and I deal with the wave of sadness that hits to think of all the things I lost by not being able to tell you what I needed, by not knowing myself.  Each and every one of you has asked me what I need from a partner, but even as much as I’ve grown in the last couple of years, I couldn’t put them into words until they were worded as advice for someone else.  If that isn’t just the portrait of BPD, I don’t know what is. My hope is that this can clarify some things, maybe starts some dialogues, and definitely give us some blueprints on how to move forward and forge stronger, healthier bonds.

Sometimes I need reassurance that I’m important, and I have said this over and over again.  I don’t need to be your top priority, but I do need to be one of them if you’re going to call me a partner.  Sometimes I need a little extra attention.  Nothing grandiose.  Just a reminder that I’m loved.  It’s never that I don’t believe I am, but it’s nice to hear, see, feel it from you.  I need random messages and occasional outpourings of emotion from you, not constantly, but I need it not to vanish for weeks at a time.

I need you to hear my words not my tone or body language.  I need you to believe my words not take them as passive aggression or sass.

I need to feel secure, and when i ask for clarification on what seemed like a small action to you, I need you to not take it as malice or suspicion.  I’m just trying to understand.  Sudden changes in tone, behaviour, or levels of interaction will be internalized if I can’t mention them to you and get them out of my head, which is running through every reason why it’s all a sign you’re about to leave me.  I’m not saying these changes aren’t natural or understood, especially when something is happening in your life.  I’m just saying I might ask.

I need you to talk to me.  I need you to let me talk.  This all boils down to communication.  I’m going to overthink things, and getting it out helps.  Weird things cut deep sometimes, and all I need is to mention it so it doesn’t fester.  I need to know we can have an open dialogue without you lashing out at me.  It helps me stay calm and rational.

I need you to know I worry about pushing you away.  I worry about being too complicated.  I worry about being misunderstood.  I worry.  Mostly I worry about whether or not you’re happy with me, whether you’re still happy with me, whether you stay because it’s become routine.

I need honesty, even when I might not like it, because I need to trust that you will tell me the bad things along with the good so I don’t constantly wonder what you’re thinking but not saying.

I need balance.  I need you to trust me to handle my issues on my own first before you swipe in to try and fix it, but I also need you to know that if I’m reaching out to you I’m at the end of my rope.  I don’t want to add to your stress, and I’m doing what I can and taking steps every day to do it better, but I can’t always do it alone.  It took me a long time to be able to ask for help, and if I do it means I trust you with my life and my heart.  Please understand this.

I need you to know my triggers.  I’ll never ask that you avoid them, because part of learning to cope with them is getting used to processing them, but I do need you to be a little sensitive to the aftercare if you’re going to trigger issues.  I need to know I’m safe having a reaction to things with you.

I need you to give me some control.  I need to feel competent.  I need to feel like you believe I’m competent.  I need you to not be condescending.  I’m an adult, and I’m fully aware of what’s happening and what I need.  When I feel like I’m being coddled, babied, or invalidated it triggers everything, and I forget I’m strong and stop trying.  I need to not stop trying.

I need you to be clear, patient, and observant at times.  Especially when it comes to your needs and issues.

I need you to trust me to adjust my behaviour when I am wrong.  I need you to trust me to understand when you need a little space, but I need you to eventually come back from that space. I need you to trust that nothing I do is malicious, and help me be a better partner.  Lastly, I need you to trust me to be doing everything I can to be a better version of me every day.  I’m not happy being this difficult to live with.  I’m not complacent in it.  I’m not making excuses.

This is not a list of things you have to learn to do for me.  This is a list of things we can learn to navigate together.

I don’t believe we are stuck.  I believe things can be improved even after years of unhealthy habits.  No, you can never really start over, and there will always be old wounds, but healing is a powerful thing, and all of my relationships are strong, or we wouldn’t be in them.

I’ve done a lot of my own reading and research, but maybe it’s more helpful from a voice that’s not mine…

Which is why I’m here.    I was asked whay advice I would give to a partner of someone with BPD.  This is what I said.

Aloha.

 

Go now, feel.

50652523878bddaedb4695d23f2739ac

 

 

roller-coaster-300x297

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.

When I was a kid there was a portrait collage on the wall of my grandparent’s home. My grandfather lost most of his brothers to war, and they spent many meals with us in stories from his childhood. These are the uncles I never got to meet, but men I felt connected to through my grandfather’s words. Who he never mentioned was the brother who survived in body but lost his mind, but I knew the story, and it haunted me for a long time.

Fast forward a couple of decades, and I’m on an Honor Flight with a man named Georgie who spends three hours telling me about his life experiences. I’m in awe and humbled that of all the things he could be doing, he’s talking to me.  He tells me about  the loves of his life, of his kids, his jobs vacations and friends he’s lost.  He talks little of war or service until we’re less than an hour out, but when he does his words are powerful.  He speaks to me of honor and compassion.  He speaks to me of the decades he’s spent watching strong men eventually defeat themselves.  In the end he tells me to remember those whose sacrifice has been forgotten, and I think of that forgotten brother on my grandparents’ wall.

In my life I have known so many of those “forgotten brothers”, and I have felt the loss of each and every one of them. Yes, there were friends and family members who never came home, but there were also those who did only to kill themselves shortly afterwards, to never quite find a way to grasp life again, to lose everything to one addiction or another. Then there was love I didn’t know how to handle, a decision I couldn’t make, and my future forever changed by the loss of my own “forgotten brother”.

So, this morning I took a walk through the part of my past I don’t generally see these days. It’s not that I avoid it, but it’s become a part of a life that doesn’t even seem like mine anymore, so I let it quietly lurk in the background of my memories. But today I took a walk, and the images became vivid enough to touch. Maybe it’s because I’ve been in a dark place, or maybe it’s fresh loss. Maybe it’s just life’s way of reminding me where I’ve been in my life and why I keep moving forward, that these moments in time, and yes, these people, are still very much a part of me and each and every one of them is fighting for me.

I don’t tell his story often, and it’s not one I’m prepared to tell today, but today I honor him and all the forgotten brothers and sisters.

Aloha.

Go now, reflect and remember.

Blogs I bookmark and you should too!

Snippets and Scribbles

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,164 other followers

Advertisements