Archive for the self-improvement Category

Feeling My Feelings

Posted in anxiety, Dating, depression, self-improvement with tags , , , , on October 2, 2013 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

Last week I asked my therapist if it was possible to die from anxiety.

“No, not really.” He replied in an infuriatingly calm voice.

“But my chest hurts like I’m having a heart attack and it’s been going on for days!”

“I’m sure that feels really bad, but it would basically take years and years for it to kill you.”

This week, still in the middle of what feels like the world’s longest anxiety attack and a complete, sobbing mess, I basically ask for drugs.

“I need something to make me feel better RIGHT NOW!” I tell him between sobbing fits.

He tells me I need to feel my feelings. In protest, I ask him what the hell he thinks I’m doing? All I’m doing is feeling my feelings, that’s the problem! He insists that I’m so busy thinking about my feelings and trying to distract myself from them so I can continue functioning, I’m not really allowing myself to feel and identify them. He makes the asinine suggestion of taking the next two days off from work, a suggestion I immediately reject because…well…I just can’t…even though the thought of having space and time to grieve is certainly appealing to me. He tells me to use my weekend without my children to let myself sit with any feelings that come up and just feel them, without rejection or judgement.

I immediately am able to clearly identify the feeling of wanting to throttle him with my bare hands until he gives me a pill…a practice…a solution, anything that will ease this tightness in my chest and sick knot in my stomach. Anything that will make me feel better, quickly. Because getting into the hell hole bubble of grief and fear and anger that keeps surfacing sounds really, really bad and like a monstrously unappealing and scary idea.

Still, I went into this weekend prepared to try to dive headfirst into this darkest before the dawn sort of thing; feel bad so I can have hope of feeling better. I vow to myself to A.) Not drink, because I know that I drink to mute my feelings, even though I rarely get drunk; It’s still a way of escaping. B.) Let myself feel whatever comes up and try to identify what it is and trace it back to the source. Is it anger? If so, what am I angry at? Is it grief? What am I grieving?

Over the weekend, I went and met face-to-face with my lover…well, ex-lover. Perhaps that’s a future blog. Suffice it to say, for now, it gave me a lot of feelings I could work on.

The weekend was unpleasant. I cried a lot. I realized the extent of the emptiness and depression I often feel and how much my lover lifted me out of it and gave me something to look forward to; I saw how much this wave of emotion is related to not wanting to sink back into that place. I felt anger and frustration and fear and sadness. And deep down, I feel hopeless because I don’t know how to mitigate it. I can recognize relying on a partner (or the hope of a partner) to change my life is absolutely setting myself up for failure. Because if I do and things fall apart, it thrusts me right back into crisis and self-doubt. Yet I don’t know what to do differently, because I feel like I’ve tried everything. Getting “out there”, being social, starting hobbies, taking up projects, throwing myself into parenting, studying, meditating, yoga, exercise…it all feels like I’m pouring water into a jug with a bunch of holes at the bottom. At the end I’m left feeling empty…lonely…bleak. How do I change that without relying on a partner that may or may not show up, or may or may not stick around? I also realized how often when I’ve expressed sadness or anger I’ve been told all the reasons I shouldn’t feel those emotions, rather than receiving validation or even simple acceptance. Being told “feel different” is hardly a valid solution to any negative emotion; I’ve gotten the message loud and clear that what I feel is wrong, therefore who I am must be wrong. Feeling my feelings seems scary; there are all these voices in my head saying “stop being ungrateful, selfish, whiney, self-pitying, a drama queen, unenlightened, angry, a bitch, unreasonable, too sensitive…”. The list goes on and on.

So I have lots of questions, with no answers, drugs are still sounding like an appealing option and I don’t feel tremendously better. I’m calmer. I’m a week and a half past the end of things with my lover and the anxiety is still present, but I don’t feel it every single moment of the day at least. Is that progress? Or just a sink back into the emptiness?

My goal was to use this year before I turn 40 to get answers, but all I feel is the clock ticking and not really closer to knowing how to truly be happy. So…come on, Universe! Send me some light! I’d like to kind of start to figure this life thing out sometime soon…

Homework and Monday Blues

Posted in self-improvement on May 6, 2013 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

Another weekend come and gone, which makes me immensely sad. I spent my weekend ferrying children around OR making good on promises of playdates and sleepovers.

Last night, during the few hours I had without my children, I finally got around to doing my homework assignment from my therapist. I was instructed to write a letter (using pen and paper, so I couldn’t edit) in a stream of consciousness style, describing my anger and hurt toward a specific person with absolutely no filtering. It was challenging. My upbringing, the modeling I received from my parents, my almost overwhelming need to avoid conflict and be the woman that no one dislikes…well, that adds up to some serious problems expressing anger. Armed with a glass of wine and several blank sheets of paper, I wrote and wrote and wrote. I cried through a lot of it, then I managed to get down to the nitty gritty stuff. Four pages later, I was completely exhausted.

Now, faced with the entire week, I simply want to curl up in bed and refuse to get up. Of course, this is NOT what I’ll do. I’ll do what I do week after week and be moderate and responsible. The need for immoderation is rising in me though…Now if only I can make it until Friday.


And…I’m Done

Posted in Dating, depression, online dating, self-esteem, self-improvement on April 9, 2013 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

The last couple of weeks…okay, the last couple of months, I’ve been a mess.  An incident about a week ago finally opened my eyes: I can’t keep going the way that I am. My ability to maintain even my carefully prized public mask is falling apart; there have been days that my demons and inner critic were whispering in my ear so loudly, I could hardly drown them out.

The last two years have been hell on my self-esteem and my psyche. The space between various stages of relationship with D left me only enough time to draw a breath before I was slapped down yet again. I made the poor decision to begin dating out of grief and fear, while convincing myself I was ready. Yet the incident that finally opened my eyes highlighted a truth I’d been feeling for weeks now: Not only am I not ready to be dating again, but I also don’t know how to pace things so I’m not exhausted or can maintain my own sense of self; the quest for a mate becomes all-consuming and begins to feel like the holy grail. Meanwhile, I’m still a mess and I’m not enjoying myself. How can I possibly attract into my life the person I desire, when I’m barely holding it together?

After the incident, I spent the day crying, then went on a date that I’d already scheduled. He managed to inform me over the course of two drinks that he’d practiced the “pull out” method of birth control for 5 years, he wasn’t “vanilla”, he liked spanking and he apologized with a naughty grin (twice) for staring at my “tits”.

Time to drop back and punt, so to speak. The thought of being alone is scary to me, but so is the thought of  either wasting a good portion of my life weeding through men like that OR having what happened during the last two years ever happen again. I can’t change anyone else or their actions, so I can’t control the future. Yet I can try to ensure that I’m strong enough that someone else won’t devastate me the way D did.

So…therapy and a lot of work on myself. Grief and anger, but trying to not get stuck there. Working toward a place where I feel complete on my own. The last few nights I haven’t had my children, I’ve spent working out and reading self-help books. Exercises to try and help me evaluate what my thought processes are and how to change them. Journaling. Crying…lots of crying.

So…I’m off the dating sites again. This month is my birthday, as well as the two year anniversary of my first date with D. He’s been in my life for the last two birthdays; it seems somewhat symbolic and right to take steps toward reclaiming and rebuilding my self-esteem and strength during this month.


A Must Read for Parents of Boys!

Posted in Parenting, rape, Relationships, self-improvement, women's liberation with tags , , on March 21, 2013 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

Going hand-in-hand with my blog from yesterday is this article that I happened across: To End Rape We Must Raise Our Boys To Be Kind

In order to tackle a problem, we must recognize it and take some step toward a solution. This seems like one small step, amongst many that will be needed, toward a better world for our kids.

Thought For The Weekend

Posted in self-improvement, women's bodies, women's liberation with tags , , , on March 15, 2013 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

Ladies, this is particularly for you as you head into the weekend.

If you’ve ever suffered self-esteem issues….If you’ve ever felt rejected by the opposite sex….If you’ve ever looked at another woman and felt like you pale in comparison…

Dita Von Teese is a modern-day pin-up/burlesque beauty, known for her sultry looks and dangerous curves. I’m heterosexual and even I just want to keep looking at her photos. Keep her wisdom in mind:

dita von teese pic

You can be beautiful, sexy and luscious and there will still be men who don’t want you. There will be men who think you are the most amazing goddess ever and men who wouldn’t spare you a second glance. So much of our insecurity is created by our culture who says we MUST look a certain way, or it’s created from early experiences as we’re becoming women. But beauty is very subjective, obviously.

I’ve struggled with insecurity my entire life. Yet I can attest to the above quote, personally. I’ve had men who practically drooled every time they looked at me and men who thought I was so-so. Does any of this really have anything to do with me? Sure, I can do things to increase or decrease my attractiveness, but in the end, some men will find me beautiful and some men won’t.

So, ladies…this weekend as you head into dates or out on the town, lift your heads up high. Know that you are beautiful. Because waiting for a man/men to validate your appearance is going to be luck of the draw. Validate yourself.

Know that I’ll be working on doing the same. I am a luscious peach. The haters can just move along to the bananas! 🙂

Our Last Goodbye

Posted in friendship, Relationships, self-improvement with tags , , , , on March 8, 2013 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

Kiss me, please kiss me/But kiss me out of desire, babe, and not consolation/You know it makes me so angry ’cause I know that in time/I’ll only make you cry, this is our last goodbye” ~ Jeff Buckley

Marina Abramović is an intense Serbian-born performance artist who’s work spanned the early 70’s until present day. In 1976, upon moving to Amsterdam, she met the German artist Ulay. An intense professional and personal relationship ensued.

For a decade they collaborated, exploring themes of ego and identity. One of their famous performances, “Breathing In/Breathing Out”, was an exceptionally personal piece that explored the ability of one person to absorb, exchange, and destroy the life of another. They stood, mouth to mouth, breathing in each other’s exhalations until they had used up the entire supply of oxygen between them. Seventeen minutes after beginning, they both fell to the floor unconscious.

The last couple of years of their union were tense; finally, they decided to part ways. In a spiritual journey inspired by a dream of Marina’s, they decide to begin at opposite ends of the Great Wall of China and walk until they reach each other in the middle. Then they embrace and part ways, never to meet again. Until…

Marina Abramović & Ulay meet after 22 years

Watch the video. Trust me, it’s worth it.

So, why couldn’t I and my ex-partners manage this grace?

I can only speak from my own perspective, not that of the men I loved. For me, there was such pain in the parting and rarely was it completely mutual. With D, the closest we came to a mutual parting was in the spring of last year. Yet even then, I had such repressed anger, resentment and hurt; parting wasn’t what I wanted, but neither did I want to subject myself to the relationship as it existed. So, is it ego that kept it from being graceful? Or was it that neither of us left it alone? D and I have parted ways three times, yet didn’t allow the parting to stand. We reconnected after brief separations, while feelings were still in place and wounds were still fresh. We didn’t allow time to add layers of softness to the experience, or give grace the chance to take root and unfurl.

Or perhaps these two artists were simply more evolved as human beings. Maybe during their artistic work involving the ego, they learned to take the ego out of the relationship OR realize when it was affecting their choices. Did this allow them to realize when letting go was going to be the most loving thing they could do? Is that what gave them the strength to walk away, only to meet again for that single, poignant moment years later?

For me, this was inspiration that I very much needed. This is what I aspire to: That if love ends, for either party, that I can have the grace to let go and walk away without allowing the memory of the love to be tainted. Even if the other persons actions were hurtful or selfish. Afterall, this couple had literally breathed each other’s breath until they both fainted. They had been together in a passionate love affair, and been collaborative artists, for over a decade. There must have been pain and conflict as their romantic union began to erode. Yet in the end they achieved grace.

I’m not currently evolved enough to accomplish what they did, but I want to be. I can only get there by doing my own soul work and finding my own answers. Continuing to live in a state of hurt and anger over the choices of others (and wondering why they aren’t doing THEIR work) will never get me where I want to go.

I’ve already shared my last goodbye with my previous partners, but perhaps this can be a lesson for me in future relationships. Letting go when it’s time, having the strength to let the separation stand, then having the character and dignity to move forward (instead of going back to something that wasn’t working, simply because there is pain in the letting go)…this is what I will strive for.

2013: It’s Going To Be A Doozy

Posted in Dating, Relationships, self-improvement on December 31, 2012 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

2012 was a challenging year in many ways; As is always the case, the challenges taught me a lot about myself.  I’ve been doing a lot of review and how I want things to be different in the new year. When it’s cold outside and the darkness seems so present, it’s natural to turn inward and reflective I suppose. Of course, inward and reflective seems to be my natural state. So this is sort of like everyday me…on crack….hmmm

Anyway, in honor of the eve before the eve of the new year, here are some resolutions:

  • Set Higher Standards. I’ve realized when it comes to relationships with others, especially romantic relationships, I’ve had ridiculously low standards. I’ve been so terrified of being alone, not being loved, having someone be angry at me, being abandoned, that it made me accept substandard treatment. From emotionally abusive to simply apathetic, some of the men I’ve chosen to involve myself with were allowed to get away with some really bad behavior for far too long. I can’t place the blame on them; afterall, I was allowing them to treat me in a way that hurt me. I even got back together with them…repeatedly! Always wanting to see the good, BE the love, think the best, see their higher selves is great; I just need to do it from a distance. Even last year, the relationship that I convinced myself would “go the distance”, wasn’t really what I wanted. Oh, I wasn’t completely unhappy. There were many evenings that were wonderful, beautiful and I felt happiness in sharing them. Yet the relationship never truly felt intimate, connected and supportive in the way I wanted. I mostly felt crammed into the moments he had left after everything else, which was never okay with me. There were times  my inner voice said, “You know this isn’t what you want for the rest of your life. If he can’t value you now, what would it be like after a year or two…or ten? You need to consider ending it.” I told that voice to shut the hell up! Afterall, I had grown to love him. I could just ask less, demand less, make myself smaller so I didn’t inconvenience him. I certainly didn’t want him to leave me, because then I’d be alone,  so I’d be as unclingy and undemanding as possible! I ignored my own needs so I could avoid a confrontation, avoid the truth, avoid the loss. I remember him telling me once, after it was over: “It probably lasted as long as it did because you asked so little and gave me space.” Yay me! So I didn’t really get what I wanted or needed during the relationship, kept my mouth shut because I didn’t want to lose him, then he broke up with me anyway. Low standards, low expectation doesn’t equal great results. Instead, I wound up grieving and feeling, somehow, like it ended because I’d done something wrong or wasn’t good enough. What I should have felt was gratitude and acceptance, because now I’d have the chance to find someone who showed they valued me. In 2013 I will set higher standards. I will have…gasp…expectations. If the next person I’m with isn’t interested in attempting to meet my needs (as I will try to meet his), I will do my best to walk away early. It’s healthy to expect the people who claim to care to show they care. Which leads me to my next resolution:
  • Let myself be angry. This sounds like a strange resolution for the new year, but I can explain it. I’m terrified of having someone be angry at me. Because then they might…you guessed it…leave me or stop loving me. So often I just keep my mouth shut, even if their behavior is appalling and hurts me deeply. Or if I let myself be angry and it forces a confrontation, then I immediately try to smooth it over. Make the peace. Smooth ruffled feathers. Be mommy and daddy’s little diplomat. Trust me, the instinct to sublimate my anger and keep the peace comes from my earliest experiences in life. Of course, the anger has to go somewhere. Usually I deal with it in one of two ways: Turn it inward into depression or let it build until I completely lose it. In the last few weeks I’ve realized something: I’m angry! I’m angry about the last 19 months and it feels a hell of a lot better than sitting and sobbing and wondering why. I’m angry and I have a right to feel angry at him…and at myself. The more I’ve had the chance to clear my head and really think about how everything went down this last time, I’m pretty furious. Anger is actually a higher state of consciousness than grief and boy, it certainly feels healthier. I’m not trying to suppress it or reason it away. I am giving myself permission to feel it and realize I should have allowed myself to be really angry a long time ago. Then, I’m going to work on my next resolution:
  • Let go and forgive. In 2013 (after I work through the anger), I want to release the past. I want to turn loose of everything that is no longer serving me. The people I’ve been with the experiences I’ve had, they all served a purpose. Now I want to just release them and move forward. In 2012 I severed ties with two ex’s. I got clarity surrounding my relationship with the father of my children. In 2013 I’m hoping to start anew and really say goodbye to all of them emotionally. Forgive them for the mistakes they made, which no doubt were made out of their own confusion and pain (That’s me trying to see past my anger for a moment). Forgive myself for the mistakes I made, which were made out of mine. Just let it all go.
  • Push myself harder. I plan to push myself a little harder in a lot of areas during this next year. My physical fitness routine is in full swing and I plan to continue to push myself a little more each time. I’m going to push myself to write more, maybe even try to get some short stories published. I’m going to try to take a few more risks and go outside my comfort zone a little more. Afterall, why not?
  • Live in the present. I dwell in the past. A lot. For what purpose? It doesn’t change it no matter how much I think about it. I want to be present to laugh with my children, play, love, dance, be silly, live my life. If I’m constantly obsessing over what went wrong, it’s hard to really let go and do any of those things.
  • Get out of my head by helping others. In 2013 I really want to find ways to give back to the community. There are a lot of people with bigger problems than me. If I can make a difference by helping…somehow…that’s a lot better than analyzing my own small challenges ad nauseum.
  • Be grateful. I am so blessed. I have so much love in my life and such abundance. It annoys me when I lose sight of that and focus on things I don’t have. I want to make gratitude a daily habit.

Those are just a few of my resolutions for 2013. I’m sure there will be more; there always are. Yet those are the things that stand out. 2013…I’m ready for you!

Reasons to Be Celibate

Posted in Dating, Relationships, self-improvement on December 27, 2012 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

The other day I was doing some shopping and I passed some gorgeous, sexy lingerie. Always a bit of a weakness, I had to stop and take a look. Then it occurred to me how pointless it would be to buy any of it, since I’m not actually seeking out dating right now. Suddenly, I had a “Field of Dreams” moment and a voice intoned in my mind: “Buy it and they will come.”

Once I snapped back to reality and reminded myself that finding sex partners and dates isn’t my issue and this is MY choice, I started to think about celibacy and all the positives it could bring to my life. Sex can be glorious, but there are perks to not having it if I choose to remain celibate until I find someone I’m really, really interested in.

  • I don’t have to worry about birth control or disease.
  • I don’t have to look at a condom, much less have the smelly, uncomfortable thing (uhm…the condom) near my lady parts.
  • I don’t have to wonder if I’ll have an orgasm or make the decision of whether to try to give my partner a set of blueprints to make it happen, fake it or just not even bother to conceal the fact that it’s NOT happening. Oddly enough, without a partner my chance of orgasm is 100%!
  • I don’t have to deal with another person’s sexual issues (and believe me, I’ve figured out sexual issues abound).

So, basically, if I choose to remain celibate it’s safer, less messy, less potential for awkwardness and I’ll always have a good time. Doesn’t sound half-bad, huh? Then again, isn’t avoiding love of any kind safer, less messy and with less potential for awkwardness?

Things that can’t be achieved on my own:

  • Skin-on-skin contact
  • Kissing
  • Listening to the sounds of my partner’s pleasure
  • Actual intimacy
  • Cuddling

Okay…I guess my argument against sex isn’t all that compelling. The truth is, I’d rather have sex with a partner, with all the messy complications and risks that come with it, than remain celibate. Unfortunately, so many of the things that I really love about sex also come with a partner that’s invested in more than just the sex. I’ve had variations of casual sex and it’s a much emptier experience for me. It doesn’t mean I didn’t have a good time or that it didn’t have some value emotionally, as well as physically. It’s just not quite enough.

Sigh. I’ve got four more months in my “challenge”. So far, it’s not exactly been a chore to avoid online dating sites. I’ve gone out twice with someone I knew as a teenager (I actually had a huge crush on him when I was 15). There won’t be a third time of “hanging out”, as I quickly figured out he’s arrogant, flaky and a player (something I actually suspected before we went out, but didn’t want to pre-judge based on Facebook activity). I had someone on the Facebook page contact me to tell me they liked my post and they think I’m super cute; turns out we have a mutual friend (small world!). Mostly I am just taking time to sort through the last couple of year; drop back and punt, so to speak. I’m taking care of my children and myself. Concocting art in my kitchen. Exercising until I am dripping with sweat and all the muscles in my body quiver (which is starting to have the nice side effect of making my naked body look a hell of a lot better…for when…uhm…someone actually sees my naked body). Writing and drawing and listening to music while I dance crazily around my house. Catching up on melodramatic television on Netflix. Processing and trying to figure out the reasons why…or at least my reasons why.

Sex might not be high on the agenda right now, but that’s okay. It’s pretty damn easy to find sex partners. It’s not nearly as easy to find clarity, peace and joy. I’m working a little more on the latter and deciding to wait for the former. In the meantime, I’ll be wearing sexy underwear just for me. Besides, I’ve always got that 100% private success rate to fall back on!

What Doesn’t Kill You…

Posted in Relationships, self-improvement with tags , , on November 28, 2012 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

The week leading up to Thanksgiving was difficult. The memories of the previous year haunted me and I found myself dwelling on the way my relationship went down (as well as the various stages of “whatever” it’s been in since then). I commented to someone close to me that the evening my relationship ended last November was among the top 10 most emotionally traumatic experiences of my life.

But since then I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting. While the time period after that breakup was definitely what I would term a “dark night of the soul” and led me to a lot of confusion and pain I had to work my way through (truthfully I think I’m still doing it on some level), I would have to revise my statement. I’m 38 and I’ve had quite a few emotionally traumatic things happen in my lifetime so far. The pain of that experience would probably make my top 20, but definitely not my top 10.

I’m pretty sure the last year of my marriage and the one that followed its end would use up at least 5 of my top spots. A dark secret from my husband’s past being brought to light, with all the incurring consequences, would make the top 10. Falling into a deep pit of suicidal depression at the very end of my marriage and having my husband yell from the edge (as he backed away quickly): “See ya! Even though I’m abandoning you and won’t check back to see if you make it out, it was real!” Yeah…that wasn’t fun. My oldest child going into the hospital at 6 weeks and having them perform 5 failed spinal taps on her to locate the root of the illness was pretty traumatic. My youngest child being diagnosed with a serious, life-long disease that will have to be managed daily; that definitely tops the breakup from last year. There are things that have happened to me that I won’t recount here, but they are immensely higher on the immediate trauma scale than one man deciding he wouldn’t proceed with our relationship. Losing my faith wasn’t an abrupt trauma, but the leaving behind of nearly everything I’d ever known, along with an identity I’d had since I was a child, was definitely heart-wrenching and emotionally difficult.

In some ways, it was reassuring to realize that this thing in my life I’ve given power to in the past year, this event and man who hurt me so profoundly…well, I’ve faced much worse. Many times over. You know what? I’m still here. I survived all of it. That dark pit my husband left me in? It took me about a year or two to reach the top and sometimes my hands would slip and I’d fall back down a bit, but I finally reached the light and I feel its warmth on my face more often than not. The things that have happened with my children? They have passed or are manageable. My kids are still beautiful, vibrant and most importantly, alive on this beautiful planet with me. Unlike parents who’ve lost children, which is nearly impossible to consider, I still get to hold mine daily. Acts that have been committed against me; I made it through. The sheer act of not only surviving, but not letting it cripple me as a person, is a triumph no person or act can take away from me. Men who have lied, used, hurt or abandoned me all taught me something about myself and about what I do and DO NOT want.

Henry Rollins said: “Scar tissue is stronger than regular tissue. Realize the strength; move on.”

I’m stronger than I give myself credit for. I’ve faced pain and suffered, but I haven’t allowed it to break me. I’m still getting up every single day, trying to do what’s right by myself and others. I meet my responsibilities, not just adequately (well, unless we’re talking about my housekeeping skills!), but admirably. I’m not closed off or selfish. I’m willing to help others and be open. Most importantly, I’m trying so, so hard to evolve as a person. Work on forgiveness. Work on being a spiritual person. Focus on where I want to go, rather than where I’ve been. I’m about as far from broken as you can get.

Unfortunately, when my marriage ended and I wasn’t able to consider the last 14 years of my life a blip and bounce to the next stage, I considered it a weakness in comparison to how quickly he moved on  (as did he). When my relationship last year ended and it affected me on such an intense level, I heard from so many people “Just forget him. He doesn’t deserve you and you’ll find better.” There have been a lot of people throughout my life who have not been able to comprehend or have empathy for the depth of my feelings. I have a theory, which I’ll expand on more in a future blog…

Of course I have emotional scars; I have experienced pain and it’s left its mark. But I have worked that scar tissue over and made it my bitch. I have rubbed it and oiled it and done my best to keep it malleable. Scar tissue doesn’t have the ability to experience sensation to the same extent as regular tissue. I think some people get hurt and just let the scars build, without ever trying to really do anything about it. They tell themselves they’ve healed, they’re tougher. They won’t ever let themselves get hurt like THAT again! Scar tissue IS stronger, but at what cost? If your ability to feel is diminished, is it worth it? Sure, maybe you won’t experience pain to the same extent, but that just means you’re not experiencing your emotions fully. In order to open yourself to love, to wonder, you have to be willing to open yourself to the possibility of pain.

The saying is that “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. Perhaps part of my strength is also not letting it diminish my ability to feel: To love and let myself be loved, to feel the pain of loss, to always be willing to take the risk. I’m working on choosing my risks more wisely, but I never want to be too afraid to try. I never want to be so guarded from past pain that I can’t see love in front of me, or have compassion for the suffering of others.

To sum it up, I recently read this and it resonated with me. I think this is where I keep finding myself. Others may view it as weakness or being a “glutton for punishment”, but I don’t think so. I think being willing to be open is simply a strength most people don’t recognize…

“The best advice I ever heard for a broken heart is to leave it broken, not try to fix it.  Leave your heart just as it is: broken open, pure, vulnerable, sad, tender, soft, touchable, alive and awake. There is pain in being open, but it’s an honest pain.  There’s pleasure, too – heartfelt, real, present, singing at the top of your lungs, dancing in the middle of the night, smiling a secret smile, because life is unpredictable and love is everywhere if you open your eyes and look.”

If I Knew Then…

Posted in Relationships, self-improvement on November 20, 2012 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

The old adage is that hindsight is 20/20 for a good reason. It’s hard to not look back at our past and wish we had known then what we know now. Regret is pointless, because the past remains unchanged no matter how much we might wish it were not so. Still, carrying the lessons we’ve learned with us into the future is crucial to our evolution as a human being and just as importantly, to a hopeful success instead of a failure. Or perhaps “imperfect attempt” is kinder than failure; we don’t judge a baby when it takes those first, halting steps, only to fall down…over and over and over. Why are the lessons we learn as an adult judged so much more harshly? Relationships, marriage, children, career choices: They all were firsts for us at one point or another. Yet if they were “imperfect attempts”, we spend years sometimes beating ourselves up over them, terrified of repeating the mistakes, terrified of taking risk. I’ve yet to see a baby that refuses to get back on his feet and try again, no matter how many times he falls. In this, as so many other things, I think adults could take a lesson from children.

Still, as I think about my past and my hopeful future, there are definitely some things I plan to do differently. Twelve years of marriage and three meaningful relationships later, here are a few of the things I will change when I meet my partner.

  1. I won’t let resentment build, while calling it self-sacrifice. It’s fine to spend the weekend at the game with your guy, even if it’s not your cup of tea. It’s okay to once in awhile say, “Oh, why don’t you go kick back on the couch while I clean up the kitchen.” It’s okay to let youself be talked into a quickie, when you’d really rather have a back rub and call it a night. IF…and this is a big if…it’s not all the time and you’re not gritting your teeth while it’s happening. If the entire time you’re at the game, you’re thinking he owes or of ways you can guilt him into doing what you want later, you shouldn’t be there. If you feel like a martyr while he’s got his feet up reading a book, while you scrub dirty dishes, then you’re BEING a martyr. Giving him pleasure because it pleases you is fine, unless you’re counting down the seconds until he comes so you can roll over, while thinking what a self-absorbed jackass he is. Sound ugly? It is. Don’t do something if it builds resentment. Trust me, I’ve done it. It’s not fair to you and certainly not to the other person. Resentment kills relationships.
  2. I will spend time apart from you. During my marriage we were joined at the hip. In the beginning we called it love and thought it was a mark of the strength of our relationship. Until neither of us had significant relationships outside each other. Or until we started RESENTING it if the other person wanted to be away. Afterall, wanting to be together every waking moment meant we loved each other, right? So if we started wanting some breathing room, a break, or even just to do something different…well, didn’t the opposite apply? Having to be with your love all the time is codependent and unhealthy. These days I would absolutely have my own interests, my own space to retreat to, girlfriends I would go out with. Hell, I might even take a vacation without my partner. I’ve realized my own space is crucial to my wellbeing; honoring my own internal wisdom about what I need will strengthen a relationship, not harm it.
  3. I will encourage your interests outside our relationship. I want to be with a successful, well-adjusted guy. The first step toward that is finding someone who doesn’t need to dance attendance on me. Sure, he should make me a priority in his life, because I will be important to him. However, him being successful in his career will matter to him long-term. The fact that he’ll have male friends he makes time for will be healthy and crucial. Going and playing his favorite sport, or computer game or watching birds in a field…whatever his passion is..will recharge him. It will make the time he chooses to be with me a choice, not an obligation.  A guy who feels happy and successful in his life won’t look to me to make him that way, I’ll just be the icing on the cake.
  4. I will work harder at sorting out what is my own baggage, before I bring it to an argument. This can be quite a challenge, especially if you’re still working out what your baggage is. Still, blaming my partner for things my dad did, or my ex-husband, or the jackass I was stupid enough to fall in love with…well, it’s not ok. My baggage is MINE; I’m sure he’ll have his own to lug around without adding extra.
  5. I will not use my gifts as a weapon against you. We all have strengths; which, of course, are also our weaknesses. I’m a good study when it comes to people and can make a fairly accurate assessment of someone quickly. I’m also typically good at assessing a situation, emotionally AND logically, and making intuitive guesses. Add in being good with words and having a razor-sharp tongue when hurt or defensive and I’ve got a weapon of mass ego destruction at the ready. I can tell you, scathingly if I choose, why you’re being a jackass. I can sum you up emotionally, in one conversation, like I’m reading the back cover of the story of your life. I can expose your weakness and your vulnerability, bare your jugular to the razor-sharp edge of my wit. I might even get it right.  Talking circles around a lover so I don’t have to truly hear them (or expose my own vulnerability by listening), being arrogant enough to think I KNOW them because I’m intuitive (when I am still getting to know myself), using my words as a weapon to make them feel inferior…it’s a lose/lose situation if ever there was one. Even if I’m right in my assessment, they will resent the hell out of me for it. Sometimes I just have to let it go, even if I THINK I’m right (and really, can I be sure?), because they have to discover themselves, afterall.
  6. I will make sex a priority. Sex is a big deal; it’s a benchmark of a healthy relationship. You can love someone and enjoy their company, but if your sex life is shit, resentment (the relationship killer) is going to build. I will make time for sex. I will be enthusiastic and passionate, or I’ll take a raincheck until I am. If the rainchecks start to become frequent, I’ll immediately address why that might be happening. Orgasms are important. I like them and I want to have them, end of story. It doesn’t have to happen every time, that’s not quite as crucial for me. Still, there’s no reason it shouldn’t happen with regularity. Hot, moaning, panting, fingers dug into your back or hair, calling out deities or profanities, regularity. Sex. Is. A. Big. Deal. If we’re not both having a good time with each other’s bodies, frequently, then we’ll need to figure out together why we’re not.
  7. I will insist on being treated as wonderfully as I treat you. I excel at treating someone else like a king. Backrubs, special meals, gifts, thoughtful emails or texts, their favorite sex act; I love to give pleasure. I also excel at letting my partners get away with less than that in their behavior to me. I’ve gotten really good at not making a fuss if I’m disappointed, or get my feelings hurt, or if they treat me like a pleasant option while waiting for something else they think is better. I’ve become excellent at nurturing others, when nurturing me isn’t even a thought in their pretty heads. In my next relationship, I WILL treat you like a king. I expect to be treated like your queen, in return. Bring your best, or don’t come to my table. Men don’t want drama and I can respect that. I won’t bring drama. I will simply politely, calmly walk away and find someone who will treat me the way I deserve to be treated. We all deserve to be treated like a priority, not an option.
  8. I will fight with you. Not fighting isn’t the sign of a healthy relationship, necessarily. Sometimes it just means you’re not talking. Other times it can mean one of you is holding back, which leads to…you guess it!…resentment. I will fight with you. I’m not your lapdog or your yes person. I’ll have opinions, you’ll have opinions and sometimes we won’t see eye to eye. That’s ok. I’ll be respectful, I’ll listen to your side. Who knows? You might even change my mind, or be willing to change yours. I won’t be silenced just to keep the peace though. I won’t be afraid you’ll stop loving me if I challenge you.
  9. I’ll pick my battles. While I will fight with you, I’ll also be willing to let things go that don’t truly matter. If you forget to call me back like you said you would, I’ll assume you got busy and let it go. If you forget to call me back 10 times in a row, we’re gonna need to talk. I will try to take a breath and sort through my feelings and why I’m having them before I bring them up to you. I’ll ask myself if this is my baggage or me wanting you to be different than you are, before I act on hurt feelings or flashes of anger.
  10. I will honor the ways YOU show love. My ex-husband gave me an orthopedic pillow for our first anniversary. My mother was terrified that I’d be hurt, because it wasn’t romantic. For him, that was romantic. He watched me toss and turn, knew I was prone to neck pain and thought it was a loving and thoughtful gift. I honored the gift and had that pillow for eight years. In a relationship, I like to do thoughtful things for my lover. Send a text letting them know I’m thinking of them, pick up their favorite beer or wine to have at home, bake them a special treat, plan a special evening centered around one of their interests. Not everyone is good at the little things. Sometimes the way they show love is to set your keys and purse by the door so they’ll be ready and waiting when you need them. Maybe it’s mowing your grass, just so you don’t have to do it. Or washing your car for you, even though THEIR car is spotless. Maybe it’s just rubbing your back for you as you go to sleep at night. I will work harder at looking for the way my partner shows their love, rather than resenting the ways they don’t.
  11. I will never ask you to complete me. While Jerry Maguire is a great movie, I wonder how many dysfunctional relationships that line alone is responsible for. I am complete unto myself, or at least I’m doing my best to figure out how to be. My lover will compliment me, my lover will add to my life in a wonderful way, but if I’m looking for them to complete me, we’re in big trouble. No healthy relationship can handle the burden of being responsible for another person’s completeness or happiness. If someone isn’t complete, they’d better figure out how to be before they get with another person. I will never place that burden on a relationship again.

I’m sure this list will be a work in progress for me, because I’m still trying to learn and grow as a person. I’ve made many mistakes and I’m sure I’ll make many more; I have a feeling I have many “imperfect attempts” ahead of me in life and love. That’s okay. I’d rather be living and loving, even if I make mistakes, then being too afraid to try.

If I knew then, what I  know now…well, that wouldn’t have made for a very entertaining blog, now would it?