Luv Ya

It’s quick. It’s easy. It’s casual. “Luv ya,” I call over my shoulder as I head out the door.

I notice when I choose this abbreviated endearment to express my love. I notice when someone chooses to say to me. I feel a bit empty. Not necessarily bad empty, just empty. Like eating fat free ice cream. It’s fine. It looks like ice cream. It’s cold. It’s just not that filling.

Even if I formalize it a bit more by saying, “Love you,” my emptiness lingers. I feel the missing “I.”

Try it yourself. Say, Love you. Now say, I Love you. Do you notice a difference?

I do. I feel me when I use “I” and I feel you when you say “I”. (DId that make sense? Hope so. I hope so.) When I say, “I,” I am owning what I say. I am in my words. I am in me. I am holding myself accountable. I said that. I meant that. And you know it.

Anytime I drop “I” from my sentence it changes the fat content of my message. “Miss you.”  “Understand.”  “Sorry.”

Recently, before heading out to do some shopping, I stopped at our local diner for a late breakfast. Two eggs over easy, bacon, no toast. Two pancakes. My favorite. A little protein to modify the effects of the sugar and white flour high/crash of the pancakes. I sat at the counter with the other single diners enjoying my urban life.

There was a young man sitting alone at the end of the counter. He was hard not to notice. He was not using his inside voice. His amplified banter with the waitress distracted me from my book. I wanted him to be quiet.

At one point his girlfriend texted him. Maybe his wife, but I hope not. He apparently was late for something they had planned and she was wondering where he was. He reported this loudly and jovially as he shoved a large fork-full of his hungry-man breakfast into his mouth.Unknown-1

After he swallowed, he shared his antidote for an angry girlfriend. He had clearly used it many times.  “Luv ya honey.” He was very proud of himself. He had the formula. “It works every time,” he confidently confided to the entire diner. “That’s all I need to say and she will be fine.” He went on eating and enjoying the company of the waitress.

I thought how lucky it was for me to hear since I had begun writing this post and wasn’t sure where to go with it. Now I knew. I also thought, how unlucky for this girlfriend to be taken in by manipulative words that sound like I Love You, but I imagine didn’t feel like it.

Perhaps that is the litmus test. Regardless of the I, or lack there of, do I feel loved when you say it to me?

Likewise, do I feel loving when I am calling over my shoulder my many variations of those 3 simple words? Do I mean it as a perfunctory sentiment? Do I mean it at all? Am I offering all the fat or 2%?

Just something to think about over breakfast…since I couldn’t concentrate on my book.

XO

 
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Do I Matter to You?

The woman I referenced in last weeks post, the one that asked where my blog was, told me this week that it would be okay with her if I wanted to write about her. My first reaction was, “Be careful what you ask for.” My second was curiosity. Why did she want me to write about her?

Turns out she wanted to know if she mattered to me. If she was important to me. Interesting. Was she worthy to be written about?

In fact she is a very interesting woman and I care a lot about her. She decorates for Halloween, makes a stand to not decorate for Christmas then caves and does it, struggles with family obligations, loves to travel and works professionally with women.  She asks important life questions like, “Is this all there is?” She actually reminds me of myself at her age. (God did I just say that? Am I that old?) She agreed. She sees herself in me 20 years from now. (I am that old.)

As she and I talked about her invitation, and where it came from in her, I knew I had to take her up on her offer. It so perfectly unveiled our ever present want/need to know we matter to an other. That we are special. Valued. Important.

It was easy to give her what she wanted. I told her how much I liked her and how I look forward to our time together. But even more than that, I told her it takes a brave woman to ask those questions and risk the answers. For that I admired her.images

So let’s think about this for a moment. How do we know if we matter to others? Sometimes we ask. Often we don’t. We prefer to wait for clues, signals and then make up a story based on the others words or behaviors. Sometimes that story is in our favor and sometimes it is not.

To ask, “Do I matter to you?”, is vulnerable-making and as a species we avoid our vulnerability at all costs. The number one reason we don’t want to feel our feelings is because we don’t want to feel vulnerable. I get it. I don’t like to either. And, like my young friend, I try to do it anyway. It is worth the risk. The pain can be great but so can the connection that comes from a spoken, “You matter to me.” I think it is worth it.

Would you be willing to ask your important others what they feel toward you this week? To tell your important others what they mean to you? (Yea it goes both ways.) Report back. I would love to hear your stories.
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What is Good Enough?

I am sitting with Clea this morning, waiting for the vet to come make a final house call.

 

Yesterday I sat with Clea, eye to eye, nose to nose, asking her if it was time for her to go. Her empty gaze, dilated pupils said it all. It is time.

 

I think. Is it? I hope I am reading this right. How do I know for sure?

 

I worry I should be doing something special, a ritual of good bye, a meaningful something for Clea. Truthfully, not for Clea but for me. To ease my pending guilt when I accuse myself tomorrow morning of not doing everything I could to save her, of helping her go peacefully, for euthanizing her to early, when I tell myself now it is too late and it is my fault. (Whatever the IT may be.)

 

I foresee this self destructive berating on my horizon. I have beat myself silly though out my life with other perceived infractions. So, I am attempting preemptive action.  I am writing to you as Clea lies next to me. It is the only thing I want to do. It is the only thing I can think of to do. It is my way of comforting myself.

 

Clea is the last of the family pets. With her passing she takes with her the last connection to the family home, the family we once were, the way things were supposed to be. Again I feel guilt. I sold the family home, I divorced my kids father and changed the family unit forever. Granted Clea would still be dying even if we lived in Chalk Hill, but at least the safety net of original family and home would be there.

 

You may be realizing by now, as am I, I have a very close relationship with guilt. Somehow it all becomes my fault…my not doing it right…my missing something…my something. Tom says he wishes I weren’t so hard on myself.

 

The logical question is how come I am?

 

My therapist says it is because I never believe I’m good enough. He is right. The truth is I can never be good enough because I keep moving the bar. Upping the ante.

 

This keeps me in a perpetual state of pushing. Like Sisyphus. Except, unlike this bad boy, I don’t do it as a punishment for tricking the gods, I do it because excepting what is, without guilt, let’s me off a hook I value. The hook is a false sense of power, control, ability to change life so the day turns out better.

 

What if I let myself trust I am doing my best with Clea? And what if my best is all I have? What if it is all any of us really have? At the end of the day.

 

So I will do my best even when it isn’t good enough. And I will live with that. Some days more comfortably than others.

 

Today I feel very sad about my best.

You Little Witch!

I heard my mother say this to my young niece when she refused to give my mom a kiss good night. In that moment I no longer felt crazy. My mom had just given me the greatest gift that she could give…validation of her demand to be loved.

 

Hearing my mom’s accusation to a child, other than me, that didn’t give her what she wanted assured me I wasn’t making “it” up. I hadn’t imagined that it was my job to please her or make her feel important. I saw second hand how she withdrew her love. If mom didn’t feel special, ain’t no one gonna feel special. I crafted a childhood career of getting what I needed by giving her what she wanted. My early training in the art of manipulation.

 

I wrote her wonderful mommy poems rhyming my way into her good graces. I decoupaged them to wooden plaques so she could hang them on the kitchen wall to remind herself of how well I played the game with her. I made her look good with my high grades, my get along attitude and involvement in all the right activities. I was who she wanted me to be…unless I wasn’t.

 

I had this other side of me that just couldn’t fly right. I argued on behalf of animal rights as my family went hunting. I refused to wear animal fur (so my mom told me the saleswoman had assured her it was fake fur encircling my hooded face. I soon caught on and had yet another reason to distrust her). I stood against the war in Vietnam to my Major in the Army dad and Commander in the Coast Guard uncle. I railed against their bigotry and knocked on the door of the only African American family living in my neighborhood to sell them Christmas cards. I developed healing rituals which I practiced in attempt to transform this family that made little sense to me. I was always fighting fights for the underdog.

 

In these moments, I was a little witch too.

 

It was no coincidence that one of my favorite books as a kid was, Little Witch, by Anna Elizabeth Bennett. I still have it on my bookshelf. Little Witch was different from her family. They didn’t understand her. They didn’t like her for the same reason. So she found ways to secure herself in her self, despite her lack of belonging to her own flesh and blood.

 

This story gave me hope as a youngster. I wasn’t alone. I identified with Little Witch feeling like the outcast. I understood her many attempts to fit in with her family, as well as, her refusal to give up on herself. Little Witch bolstered my courage to fly in the face of my family.

 

I went on to read many books about young witches. I came to identify with them. Still do. I assume, except for the wicked witch of the west-who, in the book Wicked, was simply misunderstood-witches are intelligent, thoughtful, insightful women that see life a bit differently than most. In fact the word ‘witch’ means wise woman, or did many moons ago.

 

In 2nd grade I won the Halloween costume contest wearing a mother made witch’s costume. It was great, complete with a big pointy hat donning strategically placed patches of plaid fabric. As the winner, I lead my class in the elementary school Halloween parade. I belonged. A fleeting state of being for me. Little did my mom know what paradox she created sewing me into that costume. She was too busy letting everyone know she made the costume.

 

When Jena was in middle school she and her friends decided to trick or treat as the Wizard of Oz characters. One guess who Jena wanted to be…I was so proud. My Little Witch. So I proceeded to make her a Wicked Witch of the West costume. It was great, complete with a witchy hat full of black tulle trailing down her back. I stayed up very late the night before she needed it to finish it. I was on a mission. I knew exactly what I was doing. I was passing the broom to my daughter.

 

I love witches. I resonant with their misunderstood-ness.

 

But what I admire most about witches?

 

Witches don’t kiss anyone they don’t want to kiss!

 

You Little Witch!

Who Am I?

I try to make a practice of answering the questions I ask myself. You know the ones. The rampant, seemly benign questions that run through your head at break neck speed. Often we don’t even hear ourselves asking them. As a therapist, I hear my clients questions of themselves. It is always easier to hear others questions.

 

So last week when I asked, “Who am I?” or, to be exact, “Who the hell am I?” I set out to answer myself, again.

 

Interestingly and serendipitously my answer came as a result of renaming this blog to being Boswell. My friend, Wikipedia, informed me that the surname Boswell was passed into the English Language as a term…Boswellian, Boswellism…meaning a constant companion and observer of life, especially one who records those observations through writing. Who knew?

 

I have been writing stories or journaling since my first, locked, with the tiniest key ever, diary was given to me in grade school. I began my entries with Dear Diary. I quickly abandoned that salutation when I realized I wanted to write to a reader, not to an inanimate object. I longed to tell my version of life to someone. I felt less alone conjuring a reader nodding his or her head in shared recognition of an examined moment, possibly even laughing or crying with me as I spilled my version of life onto the page. I hoped my imaginary audience would feel less alone and more understood as I exposed myself to self scrutiny.

 

So here I am, 40 some years later, with the technological creation of the über diary.  I write you read. I feel blessed.

 

I have been being me all along, I just didn’t know it!

 

Take a look at this…it is a scene from Sherlock Holmes talking to Watson. FInding my name has been very validating…

www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhYbY_JO2S4

The Friends I Paid For

 

I’m on Cape Cod. My first time here was in 4th grade. I was invited to join my childhood friend, Carol Dowd, and her family for their two-week vacation. I was miserably homesick for the first week–then fell in love with the Cape the second. Provincetown is one of my favorite places in the world. I haven’t been to that many worldly places, but I suspect P’town will always remain a top pick.

 

I am here to be with my very dear friends Debbie and Susan. I met them in 1994 when we all showed up at the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland for a two-year training. I call them my $6000.00 friends. That was the amount of the tuition. They were and are well worth every penny…a great investment!

 

Debbie invited Susan and me to come stay with her in Orleans and teach at the Cape Cod Gestalt International Study Center. After considering the offer for a nano-second I said a giant, “YES, I would LOVE to!”

 

The weekend began with Susan’s workshop, Ultimate Self-Care for Women. It was transformative. Susan’s gentle interest and keen eye helped the 6 of us unfold our internal mysteries using meditation, drawing and journaling. I re-remembered I hold everything I need to be the person I want to be. Each time I return home to this knowing I feel relief with a bit of a challenge mixed in. Sometimes I would rather believe the next book I read, class I take, or therapy session I have, will hold my answers. They may all support my return to myself, but what I need is me. Showing up over and over and over for myself. With myself.

 

I also reconnected with the awareness that when I make a judgement I stop hearing or listening to the other person. Hmmm.

 

And I came to the question, “What if this-life-is all just one big experiment?” (Just?)  If so, perhaps there is truly, no right way or wrong way. What if the experiment of life is similar to Edison’s thoughts about his failed light bulb experiments…we now know a thousand ways the light bulb (or life) doesn’t work.

 

As I write this to you I am “retreat relaxed,” sipping red wine at the kitchen island as Susan and Debbie prepare dinner. I am aware that although I am physically hungry, I am so full; with myself, with 3 days of sharing in a group of honest, brave women and with my love for these two women in front of me.

 

I am at home…

 

PS.

On the lighter side…I want to share with you my journey from Boston to the Cape, only a 25-minute plane ride over water in a very small plane. As I walked across the runway, with my 6 fellow passengers, to what looked like a toy plane, it occurred to me that small planes can be dangerous. John Kennedy flashed into my head and I began to consider an alternative mode of travel.

This is Iris. She has NO FEAR….

 

And then I saw Iris. And if Iris could do it I could too.

 

So, I said a prayer and climbed in…

 

As we ascended to a “comfortable cruising altitude”, low enough to see big fish in the water, I thought of all of you, dear readers and how you might find this scene very funny. So I distracted myself from my worry by taking a few pictures to share with you. And I thought if you found my camera floating in the Boston Harbor you would know my last thoughts were of you.

 

Here they are:

I don’t know if my hips will fit through that door…

Shoot. I can’t get my last picture to load onto the post.  So I will tell you about it because next to Iris, it is my favorite. It is a picture of the planes air conditioning system. The pilot is holding his window open…

 

I Love My Life

Just a quick reminder, it’s another week- so share what you are doing to make your day, your week , your life matter…

Go to the I Love My Life Page (left column) and write your comment. Your comment will appear on the home page under the I Love My Life column (right side). Enjoy and be inspired by the sharing of other off the coucher’s experiences and brilliant ways to love their lives!!!