Thursday, November 17, 2011


Gary and I have been apart for three and a half weeks and will reunite tomorrow. He was in Mexico on an art buying trip and vacation. I chose not to go because the timing of the trip didn't work out with my work.
He sells hichol yarn paintings which he gets directly from the artists. He loves their vibrant colors and spiritual meanings. His whole collection burned up in the fire. Now he is beginning to replace it. In addition, Gary travels to shows to sell his stones and his art for at least two weeks twice a year. In the past when we have been separated for long periods of time it has been really difficult for me to feel connected and to keep my heart open. It was my intention this trip to take care of myself and work with my emotions so I could stay open. Although I appreciate our time apart I start to get triggered into my abandonment issues after about two weeks. This time I did really well. I allowed myself to miss Gary and to show up for myself with the discomfort of it. In some ways it felt good to miss him when I let myself let go of resisting it. It is a validation of how much I care about him. Then last weekend I was up in Boulder in our house by myself. During the day I appreciated the view and the spaciousness of the house, yet at night it felt big and cold and scary. Also he planned this trip without considering my schedule making it was even longer that we wouldn't see each other. He called me when he got back to Boulder and I told him how hurt and angry I felt. I really appreciated that he listened to all of my feelings without getting defensive and then said he was sorry. Neither of us are used to being team players. We agreed to consider each other more when making our own plans. The flip side of not being very skilled at being team players is that we both are very supportive of each other doing what we want to do separate from each other. We are good at supporting autonomy and less skilled at supporting interdependance.
I have been fiercely independant most of my adult life. I have seen being dependant on another person as being a weakness. In the past years of being with Gary I have been learning that it is OK for us to depend on each other. Underneath my fierce independance is a little girl who is afraid she will be left if she shows her vulnerability. I have learned to comfort the little girl inside me and allow Gary to help me. It has been so healing for me that he has stuck around through all of my attempts to withdraw. I feel safe being in a commited relationship with Gary because he has shown himself to be trustworthy by the steadfastness of his love. I have learned so much for him about being solid with a committment. I am learning that loving another person and chosing to be with him as a life partner doesn't mean he has to fit my pictures of my ideal mate. That person is a fantasy who distracted me from opening to the beautiful kind loving person standing right in front of me. Letting go of my fantasy of my ideal mate has allowed me to open to what is and to appreciate the day to day workings of being with a nice man who I love.
I am grateful to have a partner who will work on a relationship with me. We have gotten skilled at resoving conflict. We can be pretty consistantly respectful of each other even in the midst of a heated discussion. This did not use to be the case. It is mostly because we are each willing to deeply listen to each other and to validate the others' truth.
I know that our reconnection tomorrow might be awkward and uncomfortable for a while and I know we'll get through it just as we have gotten through everything else that has come up in the last six and a half years. Maybe reconnecting will just be exciting and fun. I know it will be what it is whatever that is and we will use it to get closer.
What do you notice about yourself in terms of autonomy and interdependance. Which part of the dance do you do better with?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

It's OK to be afraid

Wow, it has been a long time since I wrote last. I have missed writing. I just returned from a five day women's silent meditation retreat. The retreat started last Wednesday on the day of the first snowstorm. I was supposed to teach yoga at noon and then leave from there. Tuesday night listening to the voice of doom from the weather predictors, I got scared about whether I would be able to get to the retreat leaving after my class. I left a message for Satya, one of the owners of Whole Yoga, voicing my concern and asking for the number of a teacher who I knew lived in walking distance from the studio. Satya called Lauren herself and Lauren subbed my class. Thus began my web of support from loving women. Because of my food sensitivities I was preparing five days of food for myself and I had time that morning that I needed to prepare my meals.
The day of the retreat I left ten minutes later than I wanted to and I decided that that was a pretty good job. Being kind to myself about time when I leave later than I want to is way favorable to berating myself. Being kind actually helps me access my prefrontal cortex or the reasoning part of my brain so I can look at what I might have done differently or could do differently in the future. I realized a while back that I am late because I have to do one more thing. I tell myself that whatever that one more thing is is essential to do at that moment. I play a game with myself now as I am driving somewhere late or with barely enough time to see if I can remember what that one more thing was. Lately I have been able to catch myself in the middle of doing something like putting the clothes away in my laundry basket, and remind myself I could easily do it later. I am getting kinder about my reminders. Sometimes I have even been able to catch myself in the thought that all my plants need watering right that minute and interrupt the action before I start to do it. I don't like being late and I get to look at how I create it.
So, ten minutes seemed easily forgivable as I drove to the retreat in the snowstorm. I was heading for Estes Park where the snow was supposed to be the heaviest and I was scared. I had just purchased really good snow tires and that helped my confidence. I bought them because I got stuck in my Boulder driveway and had to be towed out last winter when Gary was out of town. This year if it snows I am parking at the top of that steep Boulder driveway even though I have good tires.
Driving to the retreat, the roads were plowed and in good condition. As I began to relax and know I would be OK, I started to enjoy the drive and notice the sparkling beauty of the the snow laden trees. Even though there was close to a foot of snow in Estes Park by the time I got there I was breathing easier. I knew it was OK to be afraid and to breathe into the fear and that I would be OK.
This was the first lesson of the retreat about bringing my breath to my fear and embracing myself with my fear. During the five days of sitting meditation many fears arose. Some were about my body's discomfort like, " I don't think I can handle sitting here for one more minute. I think I need to run out of the room. " Others were part of my internal process about my fear of relaxing around other people and worrying about being judged or shamed. When I was growing up I had two Moms. One was loving and the other one would move into a rage and hit me. I never knew which one my Mom would be. It wasn't safe for me to relax. One night in my bed at the retreat I breathed into the fear of the little girl inside me about relaxing and being herself around other people and let her know she was safe now. The terror was very strong and I brought in Grace my spiritual support being to help. She is a round african american woman in purple diaphonous robes. I and the little girl inside me felt safe to feel the fear and to be comforted. I moved into the fear and trusted my breath to help me heal. A deep spaciousness opened up within me and I heard a voice say, "Welcome home." It was a blissful peaceful moment of knowing I could embrace deep fear and experience spaciousness and connection with all there is. Fear can be a vehicle for creating safety and coming home to the sense of oneness that is our true home.
What do you notice about fear and safety in your own life? Might you imagine breathing into something you fear and allowing yourself to feel held in love for feeling that fear? It's OK to be afraid. It is safe to be afraid.