Category Archives: Encouraging information

A Deer Message

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I have been stuck lately.  Stuck in a horrible rut of self-doubt, fear and worst of all boredom.  I have been bored with myself even – a rarity in my world.

This morning while setting up for a poolside yoga class I sometimes host at my apartment complex, I discovered a fawn stuck between the fence rails behind some lounge chairs.  The poor little thing had been struggling all night to squeeze its narrow body forward through the fence. It had rubbed the skin at its hip bones raw from the effort of trying to move forward and scrapped its forelegs to the point of bleeding trying to get momentum on the cemented pool patio with its hooves.

Fortunately, one of the fabulous maintenance guys who come to clean the pool in the morning had spent many years raising deer and when he arrives a few minutes later. He knew exactly how to handle the fawn and work with a couple of his co-workers to free it without harming it further.

The message:  Sometimes we get stuck and end up in a fruitless struggle to become unstuck by ourselves.  If we are patient, (and particularly if we ask our Higher Power), the right people will appear at the right time and help us in a way that sets us back on our path.

It is the same with the search for a life partner.  Ask. Be patient. and in the right time the right person will come into our lives.

With gratitude.

Mary

Cyrano: a window into my own insecurities

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I went to see Cyrano de Bergerac at the American Shakespeare Center last night.  It was a fantastic production which included a performance of a lifetime for ASC regular actor, John Harrell.  I was so moved by his portrayal of the role, the  beauty of the  play’s translation by Anthony Burgess and the subject matter of the plot that I awoke crying.  Please know that I am rarely thus moved by a play but some of my emotional outburst has to do with my own frustrating, debilitating insecurities about relationships in general but primarily romantic ones.

The title character, Cyrano, is in love with his beautiful and intelligent cousin, Roxanne.  Though he is an exceptional wordsmith with a lightening wit and phenomenal swordsman, he feels that because he has an unusually big nose, that she could never love him. So instead of putting himself out on an emotional limb and pursuing his dream girl, he agrees to woo her with his words for the handsome, Christian (a fellow soldier) with whom Roxanne is infatuated. The soul bearing beauty of Cyrano’s words win Roxanne who marries Christian while believing he is the master of expression.  The two men are instantly sent to war and Cyrano writes gorgeous letters to Roxanne on behalf of Christian which make her fall even more in love to the point of realizing that the soul of this man exceeds any possible physical beauty .  Too late does Roxanne come to learn that she really loves Cyrano and everyone is sad for the loss of joy that could have been between them.

In many ways I am like Cyrano.  It is so obvious that he must take the risk to experience real love and yet despite his gifts and bravery in battle, he cannot bring himself to claim the love that is being offered him.  He is a big ass chicken.  His insecurity about his looks prevents him from taking the risk and therefore both he and Roxanne suffer.

I am a big ass chicken too.  I am so fearful of rejection and pain that I put up walls of judgment that keep people at a distance.  At least this has been my historical behavior.  I have worked hard and continue to work to become a better person in order to be confident enough to learn to identify and invite the right kind of people into my life. I can only do this by taking relationships slowly, having healthy boundaries and striving to express my needs, thoughts and desires in clear, respectful ways.  This does not sit well with all people but then that makes it easy to weed out the type of person who should remain on the outside of my personal relationship wall. I am not perfect at this but I am at least trying.

What has triggered this burst of emotional turmoil? I have been seeing someone who has a great deal of potential to share a long term relationship and I am moving from a space of whining about wishing that that could happen to the possibility of actually having someone in my life so I AM FREAKING OUT. A perfectly normal reaction to such an adjustment I am sure.  And most likely all I needed to do what write this blog and get it out of my system so I can continue to inch forward.

 

One thing I am sure about though is I don’t want to by a Cyrano in terms of being my own worst enemy when it comes to a love connection so I must learn to take the risk one way or another.   Wish me luck.

 

John Harrell as Cyrano, Sara Hymes as Roxanne and Patrick Midgley as Christian in ASC's production of Cyrano de Bergerac

John Harrell as Cyrano, Sara Hymes as Roxanne and Patrick Midgley as Christian in ASC’s production of Cyrano de Bergerac

PS: If you like theatre or even if you don’t and you like a good story, I strongly encourage you to make your way to Staunton, Va to the American Shakespeare Center to see this production of Cyrano de Bergerac. For information click here.

Kicking the bucket: One good way to explore and celebrate the self

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The sugar coated Mid-Atlantic whizzes by as I savor the last blueberry muffin I snatched for travel food from the Kripalu lunch buffet line yesterday afternoon.  It is the type of winter that people will talk about and compare to other severe winters for years to come – long, cold and snow covered – and I am observing its effects from Connecticut to Central Virginia from a slush streaked Amtrak passenger train window. Why would this warm weather loving Southerner venture to the frost-bitten North in mid-February of all times of year?  To fill my spirit with yoga and community while checking off a bucket list item-  TRY CROSS COUNTRY SKIING.

As my regular readers know I am experiencing a dating dry spell, admittedly, a tad self-imposed yet still a current state of affairs.  When I say, “self-imposed” I mean in the sense that I am avoiding the internet as a source for potential dates but certainly if someone popped up in life that interested me, I would be open to dating them.  At any rate…What should a single person who is in search of a soul-mate do when soul-mate material is out of immediate sight range?  My answer: Do stuff that fills your spirit and manifests love in ways other than romantically.

This past weekend I did just that- I went to Kripalu, (a big yoga and mindfulness retreat center near Lenox, Ma)  to participate in a workshop called: “Cross-Country Skiing and Yoga Retreat” which was hosted by the graceful and endlessly patient, Shrila Leslie Luppino and the vivacious yet zen, Evelyn Gonzalez. I went with my High School chum, Prudence (not her real name), who needs yoga to balance out her stressful Manhattan Investment Banker lifestyle. In many ways, Prudence and I  are polar opposites. Just sit in a car with us while we try to choose what music to listen to and you will understand- it’s Kenny G vs Foster the People. If we were characters in a Jane Austin novel it would be titled, “Cents and Sensuality”. Yet, against all odds, the mysterious synchronicity of our yin and yang personalities has created a friendship that has stood the test of time and when we are together hilarity ensues. There was also a collection of some really accomplished, smart, rowdy women with a few husbands in tow who were there to test themselves in ways they failed to previously imagine.

Due to snowstorm PAX ( a totally stupid name for a disruptive event like a snowstorm btw), I was a day late leaving Charlottesville so Candace met me at the train station in Stamford and we drove up to Lenox in the late afternoon.  We arrived at Kripalu just in time to partake in a lovely buffet dinner of organic yumminess that is a signature aspect of the Kripalu experience.  Once sated, we popped down to the opening session of our workshop to meet each other, practice some yoga and get oriented to the weekend schedule.  We were asked to share our favorite snow stories.  Oddly both of mine had to do with the first few flakes falling from the sky.  The next morning was similar.  Shrila divided us into groups according to ability beginners, intermediates and advanced cross country skiers.  Prudence is a downhill person.  She has skied in some of the best resorts in the world . This would be her fifth try at cross-country. I, on the other hand, have skied downhill only a handful of times on the soft low swells of mountains in Virginia. The closest I  had ever come to cross-country skiing was an abysmal attempt at exercise on a Nordic Trak which more closely resembled a puppy’s first attempt at walking on ice than required  gazelle-like movement.

During the morning Sivasana, the resting yoga position that  traditionally ends an asana practice, Evelyn asked us to let go of expectation and remember to be compassionately present for ourselves throughout the day. “Tell yourself, I will never ever leave you,” she said.

Yoga teaches us compassion through self love and nurturing.  Humans, particularly those of us who live in the Western cultures,  have a tendency to become overly self critical. As adults, we want to be perfect at something from the first try whether it is on a first date, the first time we recite a monolog (Shout out to Evelyn) or our first time on skis. We forget that half the fun of life is the journey from the first step onward- the growth that is most rewarding and really, when you think about it, perfection is the moment when we let go of  judging, comparing, criticism and expectation and simply experience the flow of something, accepting it for what it is and being in the moment.

Easier said….., right?

Learning to cross-country ski is a fantastic medium for applying these yogic principles. Naturally, I thought I was destined for a challenge free day when I clicked into my skis with ease and made a few practice glides across a small, flat training course on the Kripalu property during the morning section of the class. But humility would find me in the afternoon as I fell eight to ten times (with my entire class watching) as I attempted to ski down a tiny hill on a nearby golf course turned cross-country ski track.  At mid- point, after fall number 5 or so, I just broke down into belly laughs so hard I could barely get back to my feet where my left ski promptly slid out from under me and I hit the soft snow again. “This really sucks,” I thought, ” but I am going to get down this hill one way or another.” Later, I learned the problems with my technique and the stickiness of the snow that caused my awkward decent, giving me some gleam of hope that I might become competent at this sport at some point.

All that afternoon, it seemed that just as I found the sweet spot, the place where I was looking ahead, heart open to the world, remembering to glide and toss my hands to the correct level I would loose it and make some ugly, jerking move to keep from falling.  Shrila, who instructed the beginner group, skied with me for a few minutes.  I was so jealous of her balletic smooth movements and incredible level of fitness so more to sooth bruised ego rather than satisfy any actual curiosity I asked her how long she had been Nordic skiing.  “Over twenty years,” she replied. “Good,” I said, “I have been doing this for only a couple of hours.” At that moment I realized I needed to stop comparing my beginner self to experts just like people who are new to yoga in my yoga classes who compare themselves to intermediate or advanced yogis and get frustrated.  We are each on our own path so judging and comparing are a waste of precious energy.

Cross-country is a very aerobic, athletic sport and after two rounds of the course both Prudence and I were done for the day.  My clothing, wet on the outside from falling so many times down the snow covered hill and sweat soaked from the inside from sweating, made a visit to the warm dry tavern  for a glass of red wine a welcome change from the 29 degree snowy outdoors. Several women from the workshop soon joined us and the sisterhood of the Rowdy Yoginis began. Each woman was there to grow in the knowledge of yoga or skiing or both.

I find “seekers” to be the most interesting people.  They always have inspirational stories of travel, their work or their personal lives that teach me something. One woman was a surgeon, one a world traveler who had recently returned from Burma, a small group were celebrating their 50th Birthdays (as were me and Prudence) while another was celebrating her 26 plus year marriage with her husband.

Yummy Stretchy yoga with Evelyn in the evening was much appreciated. I was too tired to attend the screening of a cross-country ski film that night.  I went to bed around 8:30pm where my body began to engage in a war between exhaustion and sore muscles that kept me tossing for an hour until I took a holistic sleeping aid to knock me out. Prudence summed things up when she said, “I am having the realization that I am not twenty any more.” Yup. We have exchanged youth for wisdom and wisdom apparently uses different muscles than cross-country.

We started with yoga in the morning to help us center and prepare our mind/bodies for the day.  I was a little intimidated because we would be out on an actual cross-country trail at Notchview and the image of my embarrassing previous day hill experience was still resonating.  Both Eveylyn and Shrila reminded us to let go of those emotions that were not serving us.  “Set an intention then release expectation,” is what Guru Valma would say.

Notchview is a gorgeous preserved area for all types of Nordic skiing and snowshoeing about 45 minutes from Kripalu.  We took a big yellow school bus there.  Prudence bumped up to the intermediate group which was helpful in curbing my competitive nature.  The beginners spent the first part of the day learning how to go down hills- I only fell once post proper instruction btw. But one woman in our group fell almost constantly.  It seemed she spent as much time not he ground as standing but she had a terrific attitude. She would just pop up with a smile a keep going.  My new idol! This is the attitude I must adapt for dating.

Another indomitable spirit was the assistant to the beginner group, Beth.  Beth is in her 70’s or 80’s and could out energize the Bunny on the battery commercial.  But the best part about Beth is how her inner light beams out of her like rays of warm comforting sunshine.  She is alive. She exudes joy for life like a toddle full of wonder at a first snowfall.

Post lunch which consisted of sandwiches we had packed in the morning, the newbies hit the trail again and did some actual skiing.  Conditions were perfect.  Sunny cloudless skies, 19 degree temps, plenty of snow on professionally groomed trails. The woods looked like a backdrop for a Currier and Ives card with globs of snow topping evergreen branches gently bending them in homage to the season.  Crisp air and the scent of pine needles kissed the senses. Breath became synonymous with movement. The meditation began. Swish, swish, swish, swish in time to inhale, exhale, head up, hands back, stride and glide.

About 3/4’s of the way through my muscles were in such pain I thought I might not make it. But I did. Screaming quads and all.

Yummy stretchy yoga with extended Sivasana saved me from even more discomfort than I can imagine. Then after a sumptuous Kripalu dinner which included wonderful conversation with Evelyn, Shrila , Prudence, in a flash of typical celebratory brilliance, booked down to the local grocery and purchased the best bottle of sparkling wine she could find to toast our birthdays and ski triumphs.  Since ice is unavailable at Kripalu (alcohol consumption is discouraged. Ooops.) and bubbles should be chilled, a trash can was emptied of its plastic bag and filled with snow to fashion an ice bucket.  We crowded onto one of the twin beds in the room, sipped sparkling wine and watched episode 8 of Downton Abbey thoughtfully downloaded from iTunes days before – the perfect apres ski for two middle aged women. During the opening credits, Candace raised her glass, “To the Rowdy Yoginis!” I added, “I hold the vision they have many more enlightening adventures together- or better!”

The next day the group shared about their experiences.  I was so grateful for how supportive everyone had been, cheering me on when I hit the snow, congratulating me when I hit a good stride. Sharing insights, stories and water on the trail. Love was everywhere.

Take aways from the weekend:

1. I checked something off my bucket list. YIPPY!

2. It is important to show compassion for yourself especially when trying something for the first time.

3. It is OK for me to be me and go at my own pace despite what other people do or think.

4. Everyone is our teacher and we are theirs.

5. I made some new Rowdy Yogini friends.

I am in Virginia now.  The 15 inches of snow that fell a few days ago has shrunk to about three and there are many grassy patches now.  The temperature in Charlottesville is predicted to be in the upper 50’s tomorrow.  Winter might be over for us at this point but maybe, if I’m lucky, I can give this new to me sport one more try before the season is over in my geographic area. But even if my new found love for  cross-country skiing has to wait to be expressed until next winter, I can exercise the other love lessons I learned on the trails.

The Mystery of the Coffee Grinds by Brant Huddleston

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A Facebook Friend, Brant Huddleston, sent me this essay he wrote about his dating experiences.  I liked it so well and felt it resonated so much with what this blog is about, that I asked him for permission to post it on this blog.

Enjoy!

Yesterday I spilled coffee grinds and took it as a sign to publish the following short essay I wrote some time ago. I hope it blesses you my friends.

The Mystery of the Coffee Grinds

“My name is Shari, but it’s pronounced Sherry,” she said over coffee.

“Really?” I said. “I hope you’ll forgive me if I slip up occasionally and call you Shari. My former father-in-law’s eighth wife, and still a good friend of mine, is named ‘Shari’ and pronounced ‘Shari’.”

“Are you serious?! Eight wives?” she said.

And so it begins. Again. I am single. Again. We are on a first date, making small talk, and beginning to explore the mystery of each other that can never be known. I am 57, a grandfather with three daughters and a lifetime of highs and lows, hits and misses, curves and straightaways, loves and love’s lost. I have too many stories to tell, like the one about spilled coffee grinds.

But that story will have to wait, for now it’s introductions and getting the phonetics of one’s name right, and for noting those all-important yellow flags, that could become red flags, that ensure there will not be a second date.

Hmmm, I think. She is wearing sensible shoes. Does that mean she is in denial of her sexuality and will want to fall asleep every night in front of the TV? That might not work for me.

Hmmm, she thinks. He didn’t ask once about my children, but just keeps talking about himself. Does that mean he is another self absorbed narcissist in whose shadow I will become invisible? That won’t work for me.

And so it goes.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh, wife of renowned aviator Charles Lindbergh, was a woman who knew something about living in the shadows. In the 1930’s, her husband was perhaps the most well-known person in the world ~ truly one of the first media superstars. But in time Ms. Morrow Lindbergh found her own voice, as a feminist and author, and upon her famous husband’s death had this to say of him: “Only when a tree has fallen can you take a measure of it. It is the same with a man.”

Indeed we are like trees. Our roots go deep and are hidden. Our branches spread wide to the heavens and sway and grow, never the same today as they were yesterday. Who can perceive the whole of us? Every leaf is a story that makes us who we are.

My date does not want to hear all my stories. She has her own to tell, and they are all important. When was the last time she cried, and why? That leaf is found there. What makes her heart truly come alive? That leaf would be found over here. What happened in the marriage? Why didn’t it last? That root is buried and must be uncovered very carefully. Do you believe in God? Climb out to the furthest, highest reaches of my limbs, if you dare, where tender young leaves open to the sun and we will learn together. One can spend a lifetime exploring and still never know it all ~ “to take the full measure of it” ~ as the wise woman said.

What then of coffee grinds?

In 1992, my older brother, a gay man, was given a double death sentence: AIDS and Hepatitis C. In those days there were no miracle cures, and we all knew it. I visited John in the hospital one morning, only to find that during the night, in his fevered throes, he had pulled out his IV. Dried blood was spattered across the walls, floor, and curtains. It looked just like spilled coffee grinds ~ black and crumbly. To this day, when I see them, I think of that moment.

I called for the nurse. “Please clean this up before my mother comes.” 48 hours later my brother was dead. He was just 39 years old.That story ~ that leaf ~ is a complicated one. I was an evangelical Christian in those days, with strong beliefs about heaven and hell. Where would my brother spend eternity? Had I done enough to let him know I loved him? What did I really believe about homosexuality? Independent of what I was being taught by my Christian imams, what was my true, authentic self telling me? Where was my heart in this story?

I have made my peace with these questions, and I have chosen a path of bliss that is not what my teachers wanted, but that is truly my own. I have learned it is far better to know and love one’s truth, one’s authentic self, and to let that person flower with ebullience and impunity, than it is to live a lie that pleases others. Make no apologies for what some might call eccentric or wrong. Make no apologies for who you are, for your eating, for your breathing. Make no apologies for what is right in your own soul, for everything about you is just as it should be.

As for my tree, I am still standing, and I hope, still growing. It will take many more dates with Shari, or Sherry, to explore all her roots, leaves, and branches, and she mine. It will take time, and curiosity, and love. One day my tree will fall onto, and eventually into, the ground, and those who care to can take a full measure of me. But if you have read this far, fellow explorer, then you have already shown me love, for you have made the effort to see coffee grinds the same way I see them. And for that love I thank you and wish you peace.

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Say Hello to the Year of Love

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Holy Cow!  I knew 2013 would be a good year for me because 213 is my lucky number- AND it was!  As I reflect on the year I see a full, amazing, productive passing of 365 days complete with sadness, joy, highs, lows, dashed dreams and dreams that came true.  I fed my spirit with a regular yoga practice, found Ayruveda, came to a place of compassion for several people who had injured me in the past, got a book writing deal, created an education program for teens and saw it come to fruition, realized my dream of working for a nonprofit in a meaningful capacity and generating an arts and culture radio show, traveled to the Grove Park Inn and Tibet, stayed in a 5 star hotel, attended many excellent live performances, spent some time in nature with my children and enjoyed many delectable meals with friends. Most importantly, I have gained a deeper sense of connecting and being connected to people, which brings me immeasurable joy.  I feel love towards and feel loved by many friends and family and it ROCKS! This is a huge accomplishment because it means that I am really recovering from the effects of having lived with an alcoholic and thus the disease of alcoholism which caused me to be so fearful and wrapped up in my own (and the alcoholic’s) stuff that I lost the ability to truly connect with people.  I feel like 2013 has been a year of relearning what love is – healthy love for myself and  others. I have found a balance in the paradox of being happy to be just me and the desire to be part of a couple.  Neither one nor the other state of being obsesses or limits me – I simply am and I am content.

Sure over the course of this year I had bouts of loneliness. I thought I had found a potential romance last new years at a yoga retreat but alas, the circumstances were unacceptable and I had to move on. There were a few nice dates and one madcap liaison which has resulted in a fun friendship. I questioned my requirements and my gut particularly after learning of the marriage of a former suitor less than a year following his divorce (Am I too picky and that is why I too am not married or dating someone regularly?) but after contemplation returned to the understanding that I am a rare and special woman who requires someone special and that is also rare. So I will just have to wait.

I am not actively looking but I am open to whoever might come along that is interesting.  I am having loads of fun with my career, family, friends and causes and I have faith that when the time is right the right man will come into my life. He will just walk right up and it will be quite clear that he is the right guy.  I am thinking 2014 will be the year this happens because I am more ready than ever since I am in a better place than I can remember.  Besides it has got to be the year of love, it is 2-14 after all- the whole year is Valentine’s Day.  What better year for romance to come in to one’s life?

As you can see I am ever the optimist but if it doesn’t happen that is OK too.  It will still be the year of love as I am sure I will continue to learn to love myself even more, opening me up to more love for others.

In closing I offer a new years wish for all of you dear readers:

I hold the vision that 2014 is the year of love and that everyone on the planet learns to love a little deeper in the next 365 days and that those seeking love partners find them with ease or better.

Happy New Year, Everyone!

Colourful 2014 in fiery sparklers

Setting Standards from the Beginning

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Goddess Power

Goddess Power

So I met this man.  What else is new, right?  Those of you who have been reading for a while know that it is normal for me to meet men, it is just abnormal for me to like them after a date or two.  But I like a lot about this man mostly that he seems devoted to his family and has a similar outlook regarding spirituality and how to live life – some really important and apparently rare to find qualities.  Anyway, I am catching myself thinking about him throughout the day which means I am starting to like him which traditionally means that I am about to sacrifice my goddess power to a mere mortal man.

But not this time.

Although this guy seems great and I like him and all and other women would bend over backwards for him (and some have, I am sure, because he is good looking, nice, and has worked hard and been successful so that now, at age 50 he can relax a little and not work so hard and anyone who has tried to find a sane, nice, fiscally comfortable person to date in the middle of life understands how utterly RARE all of the qualities are in one person), I refuse to set my self up for later misery by letting him get away with treating me the least bit shabbily. Twice in five days he has said he would call within a certain time frame and failed to do so not contacting me for more than 24 hours after each incident. This is a problem for me – A BIG problem.

Because I am searching for a long term mate, a partner with which to navigate life,  it is imperative that any candidate possess traits and demonstrates habits that are conducive to creating a happy day-to-day existence.  Showing respect for my time and practicing good communication skills including communicating information at an agreed upon time is one of those important habits  that contributes to the achievement of daily harmonious co-habitation.  If I fail to convey that standard now, then I am cheating myself and this man.  I am giving him the green light to treat me differently than the way I desire, require and deserve.

According to Steve Harvey, men want directions in how to treat you and if you give them up front, when you first meet, then the man can decided if he is willing to adhere to your standards or not before anyone’s time is wasted and emotions are at risk.  Harvey writes:

“Men are very simple, logical people; if you tell us what you like and what you don’t like, we’ll do anything we can to make sure we live up to your expectations, particularly if we’re interested in forging a relationship with you. … But really, we’re not programmed to figure it out.  It really makes us quite happy when you lay out your requirements for us. And we need you to do it up front, so we can decide if we’re up for the challenge – not two weeks into the relationship, not two months after we’ve had sex, not two hers after we’ve said “I do” in front of the preacher and our respective families and friends.  Heck, we’ll take them while you’re standing at the bar, sipping on the peach martini we just bought you, so long as you’re laying them out.  Because now you’ve given us a road map for how to conduct ourselves, especially if we’re truly interested in a relationship with you.”

This is sound advice for everyone.  How can we possibly find someone we can go through life with if we fail to share the roadmap of our standards and values OR fail to get their roadmap.

In my previous dating life, I never wanted to rock the boat.  I would put up with all kinds of crap, particularly if a sexual relationship had started, to keep the relationship in tact out of fear or laziness (what a bother to have to find someone else to have sex with, right?).  Then later after I felt like things were comfortable and it was time to move into a more serious commitment I would start to map out the parameters or became super resentful and blamed the man for being stupid.  I now recognize that I was the one being stupid.  No wonder I ended up with badly behaving men!  If I had mapped out my standards for treatment up front (or even taken the time to understood what they were) the losers would have taken off long before I had become emotional/physically attached and the goods ones might have stuck around rather than quitting the dumb game I was playing early on in search of someone who had their personal act better put together.

Part of this issue was my own low self-esteem at the time but another part of the problem is how I was raised.  I remember my authority figures squashing my attempts to express my needs  by telling me to stop complaining rather than teaching me better language  or training me to suppress any undesirable emotions like anger, resentment, fear or jealousy because they were not “nice”, saying, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all”.  In Southern homes of the time,  young ladies were trained that your guests (read anyone who is not family) ruled and you responded to their every whim with compliance and never gave criticism or set a boundary.  You were supposed to be pretty and compliant. Entire generations of women were trained to be doormats.  Southern literature is full of depictions of these women like Stella and Blanche from “A Streetcar Named Desire”. Every Southerner knows the description of the little lady who, “Tells you to go to hell in a way that you thought she was paying you a compliment”.  This type of suppression is a twisted disease that has been passed down from generation to generation and hopefully in my lineage stops with me.

So this time with this guy I put it on the line, up front, confidently and boldly. I left him a message politely but firmly describing my annoyance and how I expect to be communicated with from this second on. Maybe his phone died but there are other ways to get messages to people nowadays.  He can either work within the parameters of my standards or take a hike because respect for myself far outweighs need for a person in my life who treats me disrespectfully.

Thanks, Steve Harvey.  We will see if this guy is sport fishing or looking for a keeper very soon.  His reaction to my message will speak volumes.

And

We will see if he is worth investing my precious time in pursuing a relationship or not.

Who is this guy? : A visit with the ex

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This past Sunday I picked my daughter up from summer camp then drove  us to Northern Virginia to have a family kayaking trip with my son, daughter and myself on Monday.  H2, my daughter’s father, requested that she come visit with her on Sunday afternoon as his weekend plans had changed and he had some time.  Since he offered to do her camp laundry (a first for him in five years of overnight camp history) at his new home, I agreed.  I admit I was curious to see his new digs for many reasons including having a visual of where our child would be staying with him on visits to his home as well as seeing what sort of place he could afford since he claimed six months ago that he could not afford a house because of the “huge” support payment he makes to me each month (this is laughable and of course, in only a few months time proved to be utterly untrue – but I knew that).

I make no judgement on the house or its location except that I would be uncomfortable living there but not so uncomfortable that I feel it is unsafe for our daughter to spend time there.  When we were married we lived in a nicer house in worse neighborhood.

What was wonderful about the visit (other than the laundry part) was what I learned about myself and the status of my feelings towards him.

Here are the things I learned while I was touring the house:

  1. Seeing all the art, books and other items that I spent 12 + years lovingly arranging, packing, moving, cleaning and maintaining had no emotional effect on me.  They were merely familiar items that meant nothing to me.  Things associated with a seemingly distant past life.  Seeing these things again was like seeing a former acquaintance, perhaps a college class mate – it was nice to be reminded of them but I wasn’t frantically trying to stay connected.  That was a nice surprise and a sign to me that I had grown a lot since H2 took those items out of our last communal dwelling.
  2. He has purchased several guns and keeps them in his home in a large safe. Despite the safe, this was quite disturbing.  I enjoy target shooting and understand the rush of the false sense of power holding a firearm instills, but I have emphatically refused to own a gun partly because I am a pacifist and partly because I felt that H2 was of a temperament that a gun in the home would be foolishly dangerous.  This is a man who once put his hands around my neck and started to strangle me in a rage.  This is a man who kicked a hole in a door.  This is a man who reacts to everything with anger.  What’s more, these guns are not shot guns or rifles for hunting or target shooting, these are semi-automatic weapons – guns made for the sole purpose of killing people en masse.  He lives in the city where he cannot shoot them for pleasure anywhere so I am puzzled as to why he has them.  This makes me fearful because I feel he is unpredictable and dangerous.  When I asked him about them, he just blew me off.  I am unsure what to do about the situation if anything but I know I can patiently wait for the correct answer to come to me rather than try to force a solution.
  3. There were no pictures of his girlfriend. No comment just an observation.
  4. There were lots of pictures of our daughter. I am glad he recognizes how wonderful and special she is.
  5. Spending time with him ( a few hours while the laundry was running) made me wonder how I lived with him for all those years.  Even without all the history I thought, “This person is so wrong for me. Our values are so completely different.” If I met him now I would not consider him for five seconds as a potential partner.

All in all, the main lesson I learned is that I have grown and I can be grateful that the journey started while attempting to handle the challenges of our marriage.  I may not like him but I love him because he is a breathing human being and the father of my daughter.  I may wish to avoid contact with him but I can be compassionate about the emotional pain that causes him to be so angry. I may disagree with his lifestyle choices but I can accept that he is on his own path (and grateful that I am on my own path without him) and refrain from judging as long as our daughter is safe.

And …. after all, he did do our daughter’s filthy laundry from camp- progress.