Seeing myself through another’s eyes…

I feel chronically busy. And never done. My TO-DO list keeps growing despite my check marks of completion.

I have a low grade anxiety as I triage. Each task feels urgently important and well passed its intended finish date. When I do take action — sorting through 10 years of bank statements, retirement accounts, bills, etc., to de-clutter and reclaim the spare room/office I have longed for — I torture myself by mentally rehearsing my unfinished project inventory.

I try soothing my over-active mind, as my 2008 Capital One statements cut into my fingers leaving painful paper cuts, convincing myself that I am doing exactly what I should be doing. One thing at a time, I coo. Unfortunately I don’t believe myself.

The other day I found the CD of a workshop my friend Kathleen and I did in 2006 with Christine Page, MD. In this weekend workshop Christine led us through a kind-of psycho-drama using each participant’s astrological charts. It was fascinating, disturbingly accurate and very insightful. Christine recorded each persons session for later listening.

Eight years later I found the CD in my sorting. I slipped it into my car’s sound system as I headed out for the day for a bit of easy listening. I forgot how much I hate the sound of my recorded voice.

I began to remember where I was in my life in 2006 — separated for 2 years, pretty much single parenting and beginning to experiment with dating. The uncertainty and fear I felt back then filled my body as I sat at a stop light. It was a tough time.

In this tender moment my voice from “Christmas Past” came through the car speakers. I heard myself disclose that I believed when I got everyone and everything taken care of — my kids, my marriage/divorce, my eventual move to the city–then I could have the life I wanted. When everyone else was happy and taken care of, then I could be happy.

Hearing this, as I accelerated through the green light taking myself to the next place on the list, I had an aha moment. My kids are good and are taking care of themselves. My new husband is low maintenance. I have moved to the city and am settled. So what’s my problem? According to my 2006 criteria I should be at peace with myself.

Unfortunately, wherever-you-go-there-you-are. I realized in this come-to-jesus moment that I recreated my belief system with new criteria. Now I tell myself, when I get the house completed; the kitchen refurbished, hard wood floors installed, the deck enlarged, etc., then I can have the life I want.

Apparently in my world there will always be more TO DO.

Kathleen called while I was writing this post. I shared my aha moment with her. She listened and laughed as only an old, dear friend who knows you well, can. She told me about me through her eyes. I liked the woman she described. Talking with her helped me see that I have the life I want. I am writing, working a vibrant practice, traveling, enjoying Tom, my kids, my friends, taking advantage of the cities many blessings and slowly getting my home in order.

But even more importantly, she helped me feel better about me. Seeing myself through her eyes let me off my own hook of never enough, never done.

Perhaps if we see ourselves through our loved ones eyes we will hold ourselves with more compassion. Is this true for you?

XO

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To speak or not to speak, that is the question…

Last night I told a friend that she had lost too much weight and wasn’t looking good. That her diet and exercise plan had gone too far.

Several years ago, after I had lost 25 pounds, a friend told me a similar thing. She said I was looking frail. I was as incredulous then as my friend was last night. She didn’t see herself as too thin. Neither did I.

I loved my size 6, flat stomach, easy to fit into any outfit, body. I felt sexy, powerful, in control. I did miss my boobs, however. I was never what you would call a well-endowed woman at my almost-B-cup-bra size, except for when I was pregnant and breastfeeding which doesn’t count because everything else was so big it was all proportional. But, in my minus 25-pound-stealth-self my girls had reduced to their adolescent AA bra size. I figured it was a small price to pay…no pun intended.

Saying the hard thing to a friend takes courage and love. It is a bittersweet gift to offer. When Trudy said it to me, I felt loved and trusted. She believed in me and in the solidity of our friendship to say the difficult truth.

So what do we not say?

And why don’t we say it?

Certainly I worry my loved one will be hurt, or mad, or reject me.

What I said last night came from a place of love and concern. There was no judgment or hidden agenda I was working out. When that is true, I feel safer saying the tough thing. When that is true it is also easier to hear the hard thing, as happened with Trudy. I felt no guile from her.

What I have learned, the hard way, is to keep my mouth shut when I feel I am harboring ulterior motives. That never goes well. The other person always seems to sense my duplicity. And as loudly as I may defend my honor, we both know the truth. My intentions were not honorable.

That is, perhaps, the question to be asked when choosing to speak or withhold. What are my motives? Am I speaking from a place of compassion and concern? I once read that it is our responsibility to speak from our hearts. That we cannot control how the other hears or receives what we say, but we should be sure where our message came from in ourselves.

I know I feel much better about myself, even if the other is hurt, when I am clear I meant no harm. That being said, I may still need to make amends despite my best intentions. It is my responsibility to do that also.

Saying the hard thing is an act of courage and love. It is also the true measure of a strong relationship.

I also told Tom last night that he couldn’t wear his plaid shorts and printed shirt, even if the blue’s matched. I did have ulterior motives, we both knew it, accepted it and laughed about it; concurring that at our age, mismatched hipster-dom simply looks like old age.
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Fat Free Relationships

I don’t like fat free food. I don’t like low fat food either. I don’t eat it anymore. I used to, believing it was good for me, but I was always hungry. Hunger and I do not get along. I avoid it at all costs. I always know where my next meal is coming from. I decided being hungry and miserable was a greater health risk than eating fat. I threw out the I can’t believe it’s not butter-I could- and returned to It is butter, really.

 

I can tell, on first sip, when my latte is mistakenly made with low fat milk. I use half and half in my coffee at home. There is nothing “light” in my frig.  I would rather not eat ice cream than eat it with all the natural fat sucked out.

 

To justify my rich taste, I read the Fat Fallacy by Will Cower. I remembered my two week trip to France. The French eat whole everything!  They are not overweight and do not have as high an incidence of heart disease as we do. I ate more bread with butter, cheese, cream, ham, pastry and wine while there than I do in two months in Pittsburgh. Surprisingly, I lost weight. I could argue I walked a lot. That being true and significant, the Fat Fallacy suggests we need fat to maintain a good weight. I choose to be a discipline of this belief-we all pick what beliefs we live by.

 

I have the same preference when it comes to my relationships. Continue reading

Superman

As a young girl I watched every episode of Superman. During the summer I watched reruns. It wasn’t my idea to watch the “man of steel”, it was my brother’s favorite show. He tuned in every day. Since he was bigger than me and willing to inflict physical harm to secure his TV viewing preference, I watched too. I spent so much time with Superman, I developed an attachment to the big guy in blue tights.

I loved how kind he was to Lois Lane and that he rescued her from danger. I felt safe watching him right wrongs and restore order. It filled a need in me. I began to fantasize about the day Superman would knock at my front door, and fly me away in his arms. (In the show, he always knocked on the doors of the good guys and broke down the doors of the bad guys.) Since I was a good girl he would knock; that way my mom and dad wouldn’t notice I had flown away.

I wasn’t expecting Prince Charming, on a white horse, to knock on my door. I knew, as an evolved 10 year old in the late 60’s, he was a fairy tale. Fairy tales didn’t come true, they only broke your heart and disappointed stupid girls. I wasn’t stupid. I knew Prince Charming didn’t exist. Now Superman, HE was different, HE did exist and HE was coming to get me… Someday.

Over the last 10 years I have asked myself on different occasions and for different reasons, “ What constitutes a Super Man? I listen to my women client ask the same question, wondering if one even exists. As evolved women in the “ought’s” I think we need to ask ourselves, “Who do I hope knocks on my door and flies away with me?” “ Do I still hope for that rescue?”

To answer these questions within myself I called upon the young girl, still living within me, that believed so sweetly, so innocently in “the rescue.” I found the place in my gut that is home to my 10 year old’s emptiness. I found compassion for myself and for every young girl/woman that dreams of the solution to feeling powerless and compromised, to be a relationship. I surveyed my life recalling the men I had expected to fill my void. I cried reliving the damage this did to me, as well as, to the men I chose to be my Superman.

I came to realize that to be rescued, I first had to rescue myself. Over and over and over again. I had to be the one to knock on my internal door and fly me away to safety. No one; man, woman or child could do that for me. I had to be my own Super (Wo)Man. Not the Super Woman that does every thing for every one and never says “NO” (been there, done that) but the Super Woman that is willing to do as Thoreau suggests, “Go Confidently in the Direction of Your Dreams. Live the Life You Imagine.”  I drive with that quotation on the dashboard of my car. I have for the past 6 years.  It has reminded me that I was up for the challenge of self rescue (but it had to be without the blue tights. I drew the line at the body suit.)

Being my own Super (Wo)Man took courage. Sometimes it seemed much easier, in some ways, to just wait to be rescued. Once I made my commitment to myself to fly (faster than a speeding bullet), there was no looking back. I made many life changes, got honest with myself and was willing to live with my grief and terror of letting go. I didn’t, nor could I have, done it without the help and support of my friends. I leapt that tall building in a single bound….well, maybe not a single bound. Maybe I needed a rope and pulley system to hoist myself over, bloodied my nose and knees in the climb, and called for helicopter rescue at the top…but…I am on the other side now and the view is amazing!

It was a long road to find my way out of my way. To finally knock on my own front door, reach to my television tranced 10 year old self sitting in front of the television, help her to her feet  and fly her away with me. Maybe this time on a broom…