Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Of course

Tomorrow is my birthday. I am not working except for teaching yoga. It feels good to have the morning to myself. I have no set plans. I'd like to meditate and do yoga and maybe go for a walk. I will teach my yoga class at noon and then Gary is coming to Denver for the afternoon and evening. I really appreciate that he is coming down here given that he is not a fan of the big city. I am glad to spend my birthday with him. The women in my singing group encouraged me to ask for what I wanted rather than not ask. He was happy to come down to Denver to be with me for my birthday. It was validating for me to ask for what I wanted even though he might be annoyed. I grew up associtating anger and displeasure with love being withdrawn. I am learning to tolerate my anxiety about my imagined level of Gary's displeasure and to do what I need to do to take care of myself. I am getting much more skilled at firmly and kindly saying what I want to do and inviting him along rather than sacrificing the activities that bring me pleasure and blaming him. This weekend we did yoga and went hiking which I wanted to do and went to a cello concert and Rumi poetry reading which he wanted to do. It is getting easier to have time to myself without picking a fight to get it. I genuinely want Gary to be happy and I am realizing more and trusting more that he wants me to be happy too. I am starting to feel less threateded by his personality patterns, except when I do. I think becoming more forgving of myself makes it easier to be less reactive with him. I have been practicing noticing when I am being reactive with him which usually means I will begin fantacizing about how to get out of the relationship. When I notice this I acknowledge myself, Woo hoo. you noticed. That moves me from unconscious incompetence to conscious incompetence. Although it is painful to be in that loop of obsession about feeling trapped and wanting to run, noticing the loop helps ease the pain and makes it easier to comfort myself. I imagine once again that loving grandmother person saying to me, "Of course Of course when you are threatened by something Gary does you want to run away. That means you are scared and triggered about something and you need your own attention. Could you be curious and ask yourself what really is going on here?"
Soothing myself and exploring what is really going on is a plan to become consciously competent. Often I am afraid about something from the past. When I want to run I am often triggered back to a time when I got small instead of asking for what I wanted. I felt trapped and powerless because I never knew what to expect from my mother. Sometimes she would be loving and kind and generous and other times she would be mean and angry. My task is to learn to comfort myself when I feel afraid rather than criticize myself. In that way I can be the mom to myself that I know what to expect from. Wanting to run is a pattern I developed in response to my fear. When I was a teenager at a social function where I felt awkward and uncomfortable I would go outside and run until I was exhausted. I literally would run away. In my adult life I have often threateded the bond by threatening to leave a relationship when I am afraid that I can't get what I want. I have made progress in that I no longer vent this to Gary. He feels much safer in our relationship since I'm not threatening to leave.
Can you notice what you do when you feel threatened? Could you become aware of that automatic pilot behavior, imagine that loving grangmother being holding you and saying of course and gently and lovingly ask yourself, "What is really going on here? What needs my attention?"

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


When my singing group got cancelled for tonight my first thought after, ah shucks was woo hoo I get to write my blog. It is exciting to see the energy that comes when I let go of a should and allow the organic flow of creative desire to express itself. A time in the past when I had a clear letting- go- of- should lesson was when I realized how much I hated doing laundry. I was making myself do laundry once a week and I always dreaded it. So I bought a whole bunch of underwear and gave myself permission to wash my clothes when the spirit moved me. Before my underwear was used up or maybe after I had washed some out by hand, the unfamiliar desire to wash my clothes emerged. I washed them with enjoyment. Since then I actually like doing laundry. There's something about having the freedom to say no that allows a yes to emerge. It is so much fun to have this evening with no plans that I am considering working in the evenings
as little as possible. It feels like a luxury to have the whole evening to myself.
Today someone I work with was speaking about being in a challenging period in her life and that she felt strong enough to know that feeling yucky was only temporary. She has developed enough comfort with her emotional self to know that being on the verge of tears a lot doesn't mean there is something wrong with her. She is letting the experience of what she is feeling right now be an opportunity to show up for herself with compassion. Comforting ourselves with compassion rather than bullying ourselves when we are feeling uncomfortable feelings heals the part of us that thinks we need to be someone different than we are to be OK. Another person is noticing when he is criticized he tends to criticize himself for how he reacts. He feels small and shrinks himself and feels inadequate, like the critisism coming from outside of him means there is something wrong with him. Instead he can learn to show up for himself and say to himself, "I am here for you. I care about your suffering. I love you just as you are even in the face of the energy of external criticism. Criticizing ourselves for how we react to criticism is two steps away from compassion. We can start with comforting ourselves and soothing the scared little boy or girl inside who may still think that someone else's displeasure means we aren't loved. In close relationships people get triggered and express displeasure. The challenge is to expand our window of tolerance for the anxiety that having another person be pissed off at us engenders. We have to allow ourselves to be uncomfortable and allow other people to be uncomfortable so we can grow. So when Gary is mad at me I need to soothe myself. I need to let myself know I am proud of myself for hanging out with the discomfort without getting defensive. Or when I do get defensive to acknowledge myself with compassion for noticing I am withdrawing or attacking. I notice tone of voice has so much to do with skillful anger. I work hard in my relationship to keep contempt out of my voice even if my insides are dripping with it like an ice cream cone on a hot summer day. Contempt is an attack and it is natural to respond defensively to an attack. I notice when I am feeling contempt it usually masks fear. I go one-up and look down on Gary instead of being vulnerable about what is really going on with me. It is easier for me to focus on what's wrong with him than it is to clearly and directly express what I want. I had plenty of time to practice on our trip to Mexico. I am grateful to have had eleven days to be together in such a beautiful place. This is a different font and I can't find the one I was in. ( I should find the right font.I can't just change fonts in the middle of a blog. Even after I looked I can't- another opportunity to let go of a should.) Oh well........In general although Gary and I were challenged by having to make decisions every day about how to spend our time alone and/or together we were mostly respectful with each other. I allowed myself to notice my shoulds and to be conscious of what I wanted and to take Gary into consideration too. It seemed like he did the same. The thing I love about our relationship is that we work on things until we at least come to a place where we can validate each other's truth. We can come to a place where each of us can get where the other is coming from and have some understanding of why even if we don't like it. It has meant letting go of a should I have had about processing until resolution no matter how long it takes. Issues may not resolve themselves right away. Some things really take time to get clear how both people can get their needs met and require tableing for the moment.
What do you notice about your own shoulds. Are you willing to ask one familiar well-used should to step aside for a while to allow the shyer elf of desire to venture forth?