Posts Tagged ‘relationships’

A Solid for my Single Girlfriends

Friday, May 19th, 2017

RvL°n

I began this blog thinking the title might be “What I Love About Being Single” but realized I wouldn’t be entirely honest in saying I LOVE being single. Like almost everyone, I always hoped to find lasting love in a partner—but here I am, over 50 with no partner! WTF?! How did this happen? I was supposed to be celebrating my 30-year wedding anniversary surrounded by our loving children, looking forward to the annual summer trip to Europe with my hubby… NOT SO! Instead, I’m divorced, coming up for air after two post-divorce, crash-and-burn, long-term love affairs (the last one was a doozie, let me tell you!), one daughter who still doesn’t speak to me 10 years after I left an unhappy marriage with her dad, and no time for a vacation because I work for myself.

Now, I will be entirely honest. This whole “relationship” thing pretty much sucks! Obviously, the first few months are awesome: the sparkle of new romance, the flattery and attention, butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling, and of course…amazing sex (my memory is getting foggy on this last one). Red flags? Please! Doesn’t every single person have “red flags”? Someone who doesn’t have any…well, isn’t this, in itself, a red flag?

Okay, so I didn’t believe the guy who told me upfront he was an alcoholic… And certainly, I was shocked by the one who secretly released a fire extinguisher all over my car because I pissed him off (I saw telltale footprints from him and his little chihuahua Uma in the powder). And then there was the one who was seeing several other women behind my back (and doing strange things with them involving coffee grounds. Don’t ask!). Looking back, it’s feasible that I’ve had some challenges in the picking area. What can I say? All the above “eligible” bachelors were damn cute, charming, sexy, and fun. What’s a girl gotta do to be with a non-insane, honest guy who isn’t extremely homely, boring, ignorant, and/or pot-bellied?

Since it’s probably too late for me anyway, I figure the least I can do is pass on the wisdom from my years of fun-but-futile frolicking:

  1. Watch out for guys who don’t answer your text messages for, like, a day or two. Talk about being near the bottom of their priority list!
  2. If someone says they drink (or smoke, or eat, or gamble, etc.) too much, but that they’re “trying to stop,” this stuff generally gets far worse before it gets better, if it ever does.
  3. If someone likes to be alone more than they like to be with you, start making really good friends with yourself.
  4. If someone avoids (at all costs) talking about your future together, you’re likely dealing with one of the zillions of commitment-phobes out there. They can be really clever and drop little “hints” to keep stringing you along, or silently nod their heads as YOU talk about your future together. The truth is in the action (or lack thereof).
  5. To highlight that last point, if a person says one thing and does another, believe what they DO.
  6. Beware adult males who live with their parent(s) in the name of “taking care of them.”
  7. Beware loner types. There’s always a reason they’re loners, and it’s usually not a good one. Let’s not forget the Unabomber…
  8. If the only time you hear anything about a guy’s inner thoughts and feelings is when you’re in bed together, he may be a maestro at sex, but have real problems with intimacy.
  9. If someone you’re with digs porn magazines – “soft”, “hard”, whatever – or porn websites, don’t be naïve (like me) thinking, Don’t all men read “Playboy”?
  10. If there’s “another woman” in his life, and she happens to be his spoiled, grown daughter who doesn’t think you’re good enough for her daddy, get out fast!

These are just some of the things I’ve learned…love is a battlefield, as the song says. Believe what I say, though—I chill on my bed with my bichon, Oscar, and my kitty, Turnip, and we hash these things out. Fur is very absorptive, by the way. Thankfully, these two besties of mine are the only ones in my life right now who have excessive facial hair.

Subtext: What are People Really Saying?

Thursday, January 19th, 2017

Arguing

Subtext (noun): in literature, the unspoken thoughts and motives of characters.

Your mother-in-law calls and then sends you six text messages, insisting you drop everything and call Verizon on her behalf because of an additional $20 charge on her cell phone bill. This occurs, of course, while you are on a hiking trip in Sedona. (I won’t lie…this actually happened to me, and I’m still angry about it.) Or she calls and texts five times over the course of two days in December, “worried about [her] taxes,” and she needs you to call back right away. December?!

The subtext as it applies here to my mother-in-law would go something like this: I am not feeling important or loved, or getting enough attention right now, so I have found a legitimate reason why you need to come and fix those uncomfortable feelings I’m having.

Literary scholars (and possibly my editor) might argue that this is not a perfectly correct example of subtext, but I’m using this term to make a point about motives that underlie someone’s words or actions which are implied, but not stated; or in the case of my mother-in-law, not even consciously known by the person herself!

How do you tell the difference between a real cry for help and a disguised motive? One way is to offer a solution, which they promptly reject, e.g. “Mom, I will give you $20 when I get home—this problem is not worth the price of anyone’s time.” (This was met with a very irate response about the value of money, and not “giving it away” to a thief.)

Subtexts show up all the time in life, like when your boss gets unhinged and screams at you about something really trivial. It could be he or she feels you don’t respect them enough. On the other hand, it could be that something troubling is happening in their home life…that, or basically any of a million other things that have nothing to do with your borrowing their favorite red Swingline® stapler. Another example might be when your boyfriend/girlfriend loses it because you didn’t take out the trash. In this instance, it’s almost never about the trash.

So what do you do?

Attending to the surface issue the other person is complaining about can help, but usually just delays their next dramatic episode. Sometimes, if you can figure out what that person really wants or needs, you can address that and help them resolve the issue. Unfortunately, it’s frequently difficult—if not impossible—to talk openly about someone else’s “stuff,” as they themselves have buried it and are unfortunately acting it out, which is a common way people avoid dealing with issues. If you can calmly discuss “what’s really going on” with the individual, you’re very lucky. In my experience, however, it’s silly of me to expect another to be rational about their irrationality!

I have found that compassion—both with them and with myself—is vital in this type of situation. Trying to cooperate and throwing in some encouragement, e.g. taking out the trash and telling your partner how much you appreciate their contribution to the household chores, is helpful and can sometimes bridge a stressful moment. In the case of my mother-in-law, I remind myself that women of her generation were socialized to believe that their needs weren’t as important as the male members of their households. They won approval by taking care of others, but as far as their own needs, they were generally forced to rely on subtext. Nevertheless, acting “helpless” when this is not the case, is a very common strategy among aging mothers and grandmothers.

All of this said, allowing others to control our emotions and behavior only brings negative consequences, one of which is preventing that person from learning to meet their needs in healthier, more direct ways. For us, it becomes a question of boundaries and realizing that we are not responsible for “fixing” others’ issues and challenges. Remember that no one of us has to accept hurtful or abusive behavior from someone else. Responding to others to the extent that we’re willing and able, and then stepping back (which may mean ignoring excessive text messages or phone calls, walking away from someone who is screaming at you, etc.) may be necessary to protect and care for ourselves.

Depending on who you are dealing with, it may feel like we are being “selfish” or irresponsible if we choose to put our sanity before another’s demands for attention or whatever it is they want. However, if we continuously place others’ problems before our own, we risk losing who WE are and being distracted from managing our own goals and dreams, issues, and well-being.

The bottom line is that we only have power over ourselves, and by keeping our focus where it should be—on ourselves and our own lives—we will be better able to determine when and how to help others. Inner peace is our birthright, remember! If you are willing, the Universe will help you day by day, sometimes moment by moment, to find a positive balance between loving yourself and loving others.

Guest Blog from Jill Thomas, Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist (CCHT)

Monday, April 25th, 2016
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Jill Thomas, CCHT

The Heartbreakingly Easy Problem to Solve

by Jill Thomas, CCHT

One of the most difficult parts of being a practitioner is seeing a client fail. When I say “fail,” I’m not talking about the client not reaching their goal, as in losing the amount of weight they wanted to lose, or achieve the result they wanted. I don’t consider these situations as failures, but rather as part of learning and sometimes adjusting the approach used.

Failure to me is when a client cannot or will not see the value of investing the time, expense, and work it takes to create lasting healing for themselves. They apparently don’t understand that they are worth the effort it takes to heal, whether to change their weight/body size or shed destructive habits and attitudes. Sadly, this happens all the time.

One example was when Trish, a prospective client, contacted me because of a challenging yet totally solvable problem. She was having trouble staying connected in a long-distance relationship, and also suffered extreme separation anxiety. Whenever her boyfriend would leave, an intense sadness would come over her, along with the fear that she would never see him again. This made her very clingy with him when he had to go somewhere, and she would insist they schedule their next date right then and there to allay her anxiety. Basically, Trish said she was a “wreck” whenever her boyfriend went away.

Knowing how difficult this issue can be, and how destructively those feelings can affect anyone’s quality of life, I was happy that Trish contacted me, because I knew I could help her. Her problem is actually one of the easier issues to resolve using the tool of hypnosis, and I knew Trish would feel a lot better even after just one session.

After scheduling an appointment with Trish, my mind was already busy planning out her protocol, anticipating some of the conversation, and feeling happy knowing she would see improvement very quickly. I could see the light at the end of her tunnel of pain, and it wasn’t an idiot holding a match!

Unfortunately, Trish never made it in for help. At her appointment time, she called me complaining that I didn’t “warn her” about San Diego traffic (doesn’t everyone who drives know there may be traffic?), that she would arrive too late at this point, and that all of this was my fault. She then added that she thought I charged too much, my intake forms were too long, and a couple of other silly, untrue “reasons” why she wouldn’t/couldn’t come. In spite of all her angry justification, I knew that probably because of the same issues that caused her trouble in the first place, Trish was backing away from her own healing. I was sure she did this in many areas of her life—blaming others for her problems, complaining about the cost of things, and probably not taking any help or advice offered that could really help her. Maybe she and I weren’t a match for treatment, but our conversation told me that on some level, she wasn’t ready. Trish cancelled her appointment and never called again.

It broke my heart, as it always does when this type of thing happens in my practice, that Trish was one more person in the world suffering needlessly and at her own hands. Her pain doubtlessly affected those around her, too…her friends, coworkers, the family watching her suffer, and maybe even a person she cut off on the freeway because her anger towards her boyfriend turned into road rage. Her boyfriend was likely the most affected, and whether or not they were a good match for each other, it was almost a guarantee that their relationship was already, or certainly would be, sorely tested by her issues.

I’ve talked with many practitioners about people flaking out on their own healing, and not surprisingly, it’s a very common drawback in the therapy field. Patients either stop showing up for the appointments they make for themselves, or stop treatment too early when there is still a lot more work to do. Sometimes they say they can’t afford treatment, which is always a ready excuse. My experience over the years, however, is that when people are ready to heal, they find a way to make it happen no matter what, even if that means sacrificing some material comfort for a short time, finding child care, or rearranging their schedule so they can keep their appointments. For those who are not ready, any excuse to cancel is used, and if none is available, the inner saboteur creates one.

Our egos hate change, and will fight like heck to keep the status quo, even if it’s a lousy one. Change – even beneficial change – can be hard because it requires us to grow, shift, and create different habits around the new way of being. Even if something isn’t good, such as being in a bad relationship, there is a certain degree of comfort in it because it’s familiar.

I have to face this with clients all the time and it stings, not so much because of loss of business – although I love what I do and being busy – but because I know that society at large is made better when someone gets healed. The reverse is also unfortunately true.

If you only get one thing from this book, I hope it is this: Don’t give up on yourself. Don’t let money, your or your kids’ schedules, “life,” or whatever obstacle you run across, keep you from the quality of living you deserve. Life goes on whether you are healthy and whole or not, so you may as well get healed! If you consider what you spend your money on, why wouldn’t you pay to get help for the most important person in you and your loved ones’ world—you?

There are few things in this world that can’t be made better through creative solutions. Your physical, emotional, and spiritual health are the most important things to attend to, for your own benefit and that of this world we all share. Remember that no matter how things may “seem” at any given moment, you are loved, special, and extremely important! There is something on this planet that you, and only you, can do. Value yourself enough to heal the wounds that block you from sharing your unique contribution.

Breaking Down my Break-Up

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

“Every boyfriend is ‘the One’…
          Until otherwise proven.” ~ Marina and the Diamonds

Well, here we go again – coupledom to singleton. After five years with my boyfriend, I truly believed for a while that he was “the one.” Now I’m left to wonder if the idea of a lifelong mate is just some gimmick created by Hallmark cards, which seems likely, especially after hearing about the Captain and Tennille splitting up after 39 years! What happened to “Love Will Keep Us Together”?

Nonetheless, as the wise ones say, “It is what it is.” Fortunately, I know from experience that as bleak as something might look and feel right now, it is exactly the way it’s supposed to be. In fact, if I can see this ending as more of a beginning, my whole outlook changes from gloom to gratitude.

If you’re facing a break-up, take heart. Connect with the part of you that feels relieved, because usually by the time a relationship has come to the point of separation, you’re getting so little from your partner or hurting so bad anyway, the end is sweet freedom. Remember that when you let go of something in your life that’s not satisfying you or serving your needs, you are opening yourself to the Universe, with its infinite possibilities.

As with any loss, there is an unavoidable grieving process to endure, but with heavy doses of self-love and positive inner dialogue, it can be less of a struggle. Some people stay in a bad relationship just to avoid having to go through the grieving, but this is only delaying the inevitable and usually just compounds the pain.

Don’t Believe Everything You Tell Yourself

Grieving a relationship is not always fun (okay, it’s the opposite of fun), but we make it far worse when we listen to the drama committee in our heads, authors of ball-busting one-liners like, “I put five years into this for nothing!” and “I should’ve ended it sooner.” Really! There’s a false assumption here that the time devoted to a relationship that eventually ends, is time wasted. For me, when I was with my ex-boyfriend, I was mostly happy and full of loving feelings. How can I regret that, however it worked out?

Or how about that other little mental zinger, “I’ll never find love again”? I’m over 50 years old, so my mind is like a bull’s-eye target for this one. The good news is that age also brings some wisdom, and I’m aware that when I start using words like “never,” “ever,” and “forever,” I’m writing a bleak future based only on my current sadness. It’s pointless, untrue, and a sure way to chase off the joy available to me here and now.

Last but not least is the ever-famous, “I should’ve seen the red flags.” Okay, let’s be realistic for a moment here. Doesn’t just about everyone have a red flag of some sort? Sure, crushing a guy working on his or her criminal record might not be the greatest idea, but knowing his lifestyle, would you even be attracted to him? Certainly there are all levels of red flags, but if you trust yourself and your instincts, you’ll know whether to proceed or not. If you don’t trust your judgment, you’re probably due for an important life lesson anyway. In my experience, even those who consider themselves “careful” about love get burnt, especially since people tend to conceal their less desirable traits at the start of a relationship. Maybe this is just me, but I’d rather hold onto my optimism about love and relationships rather than avoid even taking a chance. Let’s face it – intimacy with another is never without risk, but on the other hand, staying safely alone is not exactly a recipe for happiness.

Forgiving Them, Forgiving Ourselves

After a break-up, all those much-talked-about stages of grieving start popping up. One minute you feel compassion and longing for your ex (sadness), and the next you’re wishing them a slow, agonizing death (anger). There are times we suddenly become junior psychologists, certain we know what motivated their deal-breaking behavior, i.e. “He had a really rough childhood,” or “He just never learned to express love.” Surely, if we simply explain their core issues to them, they will have all the insight they need to change (bargaining). And of course, once they realize how dysfunctional they’ve been, they’ll come back to us (denial).

It’s all normal – every crappy bit of it. Hang in there, though. The acceptance stage is on its way!

For those of us who tend to be sensitive and overly responsible, it can be tempting to try and “fix” the other person’s issues with kindness and nurturing. My attitude about this has changed, thankfully. In reality, every adult has choices, and to accept others’ unacceptable behavior, whatever the reason for it, only enables them to continue it. It’s time for both people to grow up!

Ultimately, however, unless I can find a way to forgive the other person – and that doesn’t necessarily imply ongoing interaction with them – I’ll wind up bitter and disillusioned. That’s the last place I want to be, if I am to move forward in joy and serenity. For me, forgiving someone else starts with forgiving myself.

To prevent an attitude that I “failed” in a relationship, I have to take a close look at my behavior during it. Was I controlling, demanding, or manipulative? Was I honest? It can be humbling to evaluate my part in relationship problems, but if I only focus on what “he did to me,” there is absolutely no chance I will learn and grow from the experience. My introspection may even show me I have amends to make to my ex, which is even more humbling, but can be put off until I’m on more solid emotional ground. Again, though, taking responsibility for my part, no matter what he did or did not do, offers me priceless gifts like personal growth, freedom from myself, and the certainty that my future relationships will be stronger and healthier.

Icing on the Cake

During the pain of a break-up, it’s vital to remind yourself that you are complete and whole in yourself. You have your own light already inside you, so you don’t need someone else to shine on you.

I’m a dessert-lover, so I picture myself as a cake. It is my responsibility – no one else’s – to keep me fully baked and tasting sweet. Having a boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse or partner can be incredibly fulfilling, but it’s still basically just icing on the cake. No matter whether you’re with someone or not, keep tending to the things that make you the best person…the most mouth-watering confection…you can be.

It can be difficult to focus on ourselves without blaming others. Pride steps in and blocks us. For me, it’s impossible without the strength of my spiritual Source, which I call God. I can honestly say, I have never been disappointed when I truly rely on God’s guidance and comfort. The name we give our own such Source is unimportant, as long as we realize that it is not us! This power exists independent of us and our limited thinking.

Who would think talking about a break-up could get this deep? But like all heartbreaking events and circumstances, it’s a chance to heal some old hurts and become more resilient. In the meantime, there’s the love of family and friends, satisfaction from the work we do, and of course, massages, pedicures, white buttercream frosting…whatever. There are indeed pleasures in life that rival sex, which is damn good news for us after a break-up! Why sacrifice all the beautiful parts of today by inviting more misery than is necessary because of a break-up? After all, the world awaits you – this second – with open arms!

When We “Lose” In Love, Have We Really Lost?

Saturday, August 4th, 2012

Most of us have had our hearts “broken” by a failed romance, some of us many times over. That special someone – the person with whom you shared your secret self, your problems and successes, your dreams, your feelings, your body, maybe even your living space – is gone. What we thought would never, ever happen while we reveled in the ecstasy of deep love and trust, has indeed come about and ripped us away from our beloved. It seems surreal, like a nightmare being played out in front of us. We think, how could this have happened? I thought he or she loved me! How could this person betray me, hurt me, and worst of all, abandon me, for reasons I can’t control or even understand?

In our grief, we cry and ponder what could have been. If only… she hadn’t cheated with someone else, he hadn’t been addicted to drugs, she hadn’t been afraid of commitment, he had treated me better, she hadn’t had baggage from her past that prevented us from getting closer, and on and on. With tightly-closed throats and stinging eyes that finally burst tears, we feel immersed in acute pain that seems to come from some unknown space between our brain and heart. What we had is gone. Something precious has been lost to us, something we wanted and believed in and were grateful for, even if we didn’t realize it before. Loss. Its sadness is unmerciful, its longing for a different outcome overwhelming and unrelenting. How, we think, can we possibly go on?

Terrible as this experience can be, we can and will survive. Fortunately, we have a safety net that is always there, one which never, ever abandons or betrays. God. For those of us aware, God was the One who created our loving feelings in the first place. What a privilege, what a “piece of heaven” to feel that much love for another! It is time to be grateful that we were able to experience this, no matter how it turned out in the end.

Romantic love and intimacy are special gifts from our Creator, a tiny glimpse of the ecstasy we will find in trusting Him with all our needs. Graced with the close, wonderful feelings, the joy, the sense of communion with another, we need to remember that these sensations existed within us. They were and are part of us, whether or not their target was able to return them.

In thinking about relationships, spiritual and emotional maturity demands that love not only be expressed in words, but in actions. When our partner’s actions don’t match our instinctual sense of the supportive, nurturing, gentle, thoughtful nature of real love, we are aware of this on some level. It may take awhile for us to become truly conscious of the lack of consistency between our partner’s words and actions – our own emotions can blind us for awhile – but eventually, the pain catches up to us. No one of us wants to face the possibility of a loss of love, the possibility that the other person either cannot or will not be able to reflect our love back to us in its original, intense, selfless, beautiful form.

But in the end, and no matter how long we try to push it away, the limitations of our partner and their effects on the relationship become undeniable. This is the point at which we are forced to make an agonizing decision. Can we live with our beloved’s shortcomings, whatever they are? We absolutely cannot change someone else, and trying to negotiate their limitations is basically fruitless. Ultimately, the choice to be in the relationship – or not – is our responsibility. What do we want for ourselves? Conflicting feelings of pain and longing can make this decision seem impossible. At this point, think about that safety net: the sure guidance and comfort of God, Who has been loving and helping us all along (whether we knew it or not). By turning to this Source of all love, we are strengthened to take care of ourselves. There really is no earthly hurt or dire situation that cannot be handled for you by God.

Nothing happens by accident. If your “romantic ideal” lets you down in a way you cannot accept, try to see this as an indication that something better is planned for you. Be grateful for “better,” which means something more fulfilling and more satisfying is waiting for you. The door is open now. All that caring, happiness, physical and emotional ecstasy, closeness – they are not lost when their particular object disappears for some reason. They are still there inside you, part of your wonderfulness. You do not have to grieve their loss, because they are within you like a light that shines no matter how dark it is outside. Remember this!

Loving helps you to grow, but losing love can help you grow even more. If you can understand this on a deep level, with the awareness that an ever-caring God is handling all the details of your life, you will walk forward with courage, faith, confidence, compassion, and forgiveness. You will love again.