Archives for Relationships

Emotions

The Aftermath of Honesty

Have you ever been so honest with someone it made you feel sick?

Here, I'm not talking about saying something unkind in the heat of a moment, or having a fight, or speaking words you later decide you regret.

I'm talking about a genuine, honest, much-needed (and often long-delayed) sharing of your truth, at a level you never thought yourself capable of.

I'm talking about opening up your mouth and speaking out loud the kind of honest words that make you feel SO vulnerable, SO exposed, you actually look (maybe more than once) to see if you've sucker-punched yourself in the stomach.

I'm talking about the kind of honesty that is exceptionally painful, because to withhold it is to deny yourself, and to share it is to risk losing something (or someone) you very much want to hold on to.

I did this the other day.
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Mentoring

Coping with Comparison Envy


"Comparison envy."

For me at least, this is what happens when I start thinking about how I want my life to be different.

Then I start thinking about people I know (or don't know).

Then I start assuming their lives are working out in ways mine is not.

Then I get jealous of them.

If left unchecked, such ruminations can go on for minutes....days....or my whole life.

I can spend my whole life immersed in comparison envy - jealous of my own imaginings of how much better someone else's life/relationship/body image/income/success is than mine.

It goes without saying that the side effects of comparison envy are equally unpleasant.
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Inspirational

A Makeup-Free Year


The other day I was scheduled to do a media interview.

I hadn't done one of those in awhile, but I still remembered the drill.

RULE #1Wear makeup on camera, or risk appearing to have actually died during the interview.

(Not ideal under any circumstances, but especially not when you are filming a television spot about eating disorders!)

And I was totally prepared to make sure I looked alive and kicking on camera....except for one tiny detail.

I couldn't locate my makeup.

To make matters worse, the day before I had finally taken the plunge and dyed my hair raven black with purple highlights.

Which meant the most likely outcome would unfold as follows:

Pale skin + black hair + harsh TV lighting = on-camera Zombie.

Otherwise, however, all this was pretty cool.

I've pretty much been makeup-free for months now, and I hadn't even noticed!

Thinking back, I'm pretty sure it started last fall when my boyfriend and I were driving down to Galveston (where Houstonians like us go when we want to visit the beach). We were talking about a show we'd seen on dramatic makeovers, plastic surgery, etc.

I shared how I'd seen some of my Facebook friends posting pics of themselves without makeup to celebrate "Makeup-Free Day." He laughed and said, "Makeup-Free DAY? How about Makeup-Free YEAR?!"

I thought that was a pretty cool idea.
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Inspirational

Every Day, I Wake Up and Prepare to Die


A few days ago, I blogged about what I do each morning to wake up and fully prepare to live another 24 hours.

However, there is another facet of my process I didn't share in that post, which is preparing for our own death daily.

I have found much of my light through a daily meditation practice, which includes as much study and service as it does actual meditation.

In one of my study sessions, I read an essay on the topic of preparing for your own death that I've never forgotten.

The story went like this:

A man approached a great king asking for self-knowledge. The day he arrived happened to be the day of the annual kingdom-wide fair, and there were festivities everywhere! Magicians, jugglers, fire walks, jousts - it was nearly too much for the simple country man to take in! In answer to his request, the King replied, "Take this bowl of water and walk through the streets all the way to the end, then turn around and walk back. If even one drop of the water in that bowl spills, I will have my best swordsman cut off your head!" 

The man was floored....terrified....and (being as how it was the King and he couldn't just take back his request and leave) determined not to let one drop of water spill from the bowl. He walked very carefully, keeping his eyes firmly fixed on the bowl. He looked nowhere else. Somehow he made it all the way there and back to the King without spilling one drop. Then he asked, "Why did you ask me to do that?" 
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Inspirational

Every Day, I Wake Up and Prepare to Live


For a decade and a half, I struggled mightily every day against an eating disorder, depression, anxiety, and self-hatred.

To this day, I am still not 100% certain what it was that kept me from offing myself, let alone waking up again and again into another day of certain hell.

But whatever it was - is - it is still with me.

It still helps me wake up every morning and prepare to live another day.

My dad and I talk about this a lot - he grew up under challenging circumstances of an entirely different sort, yet he too woke up every morning, the youngest of four in a reliably chaotic household, and set his mind towards the future.

He simply determined that HIS future would be different - and every choice he made in each present day was weighed against his vision of that future.

Today, he is living in the exact future he envisioned in each of those days, beginning oh so many decades ago.

Perhaps that was what kept me going - his example and knowing his story - even though I surely didn't view that as my inspiration at the time (I was far too caught up in my own darkness to see much else back then).

I just knew that, every time I was tempted to think the way my life felt was the worst any life could ever feel, I would read or hear about someone whose life was so much harder, and who was still choosing to make good come from bad.

Gandhi. Mother Teresa. Martin Luther King, Jr. My American Indian grandparents. Random biographies and novels I read in the library (I was an avid reader growing up, and still am).

Here, in these stories, I found my heroes and my mentors.
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Emotions

Keeping Others’ Pain from Becoming Personal


I have a handful of loved ones in my life right now who are experiencing longer-term painful circumstances.

In one case, the pain is medical. In one more, financial. In yet another, the pain is less well-defined as she wishes for (but day after day does not act to build) a life that feels like a better "fit" than the one she has now.

And it gets to me.

It all gets to me.

Sometimes their ongoing pain feels very, very personal.

I wake up at night worrying, or praying, or both.

When morning comes, they are right there on my mind.

Following visits and phone calls, I feel like I need to grieve and heal and rekindle hope - as if their pain is my pain.

It is.

Needless to say, this isn't working well for me. 
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Mentoring

My Challenges with Forgiving Others


This feels like a weird post to write.

I say that because I have only now just realized (at a newly-minted age 44), that the challenge I thought I was having with forgiving others is not the challenge I am actually having.

By that I mean - in a way, actions others take that affect me are literally none of my doing, and thus they require no further action on my part.

I have no choice about whether someone else does something or says something, or doesn't do or say something.

Scenarios can range from whether or not my partner says "I love you" to whether or not my parrot, Pearl, decides to bite me.

I may have preferences (I prefer hearing "I love you" and not being bitten), and I may even try to influence the choices others make according to my preferences.

But ultimately, what they decide to say/do/don't say/don't do is totally not up to me.

Or, as one of my favorite mentors, Byron Katie, likes to say, "What others say and do is really none of my business."

I find this sooooo interesting!

To further complicate matters, I can find myself embroiled in differences of opinion as far as whether those others made the "right" choices (interpreted here as: "the best choices for me").

For instance, I might think Pearl's choice to bite me is a very bad choice indeed - a choice that requires my eventual forgiveness.

Pearl, on the other hand, may think his choice to bite me is the perfect communication tool that produces no need for self-explanation - and certainly not for forgiveness!

Which brings me back to an earlier post about my efforts to relearn self-forgiveness.

Since forgiveness at its core is a self-loving act, and a choice that may or may not impact others but will always positively impact me, this realization essentially sends me to square one.

Here is an example.

Let's say someone says they think I am very stupid or ugly (or both).

So now their words are out there, I have heard them, and I have choices:

Option 1: I can let the words in, personalize them, believe them, and then suffer the hurt and anger they cause. Here, it feels like what I am really doing is taking their words and then turning around and saying them to myself!
Option 2: I can see the words as an outward admission of how that other person sees the world, life, themselves, and (naturally) me, feel compassion towards them that that is the best they can see in me, and let it go....no further contemplation or action required.
Option 3: I can let the words percolate nearby (but not inside) me, discover I disagree, and either just let them go or even speak out for myself, letting that other person know I am not on board with their perspective.

What complicates matters a bit (for me at least) tends to be my relationship with that other person.

Here is how this tends to unfold:

Category 1 Person: It is a total stranger who says I am stupid and ugly. I think, "What do they know?" and go on about my day.
Category 2 Person: It is a colleague or acquaintance who says I am stupid and ugly. I wonder how on earth they formulated that opinion (since we are a few degrees out from even casual friends or work peers) and then I let it go from there.
Category 3 Person: Someone I love and treasure says I am stupid and ugly (family, close friend, boyfriend). Here it gets very tricky indeed!

I have actually experienced a certain number of situations in the last few years with Category 1 and 2 persons.

Because I feel more distant from these types of individuals, it is easier not to take their words personally (even if I still want to argue with them and change their minds).

But when it is Category 3 Person I am dealing with, the challenge amps up a notch or three.

Here, I think the reason is because I figure they DO know me, they ARE close to me, and thus perhaps their words and actions (or silence and inaction) may have some merit.

I have in the past assumed this means I need to forgive them.

But now I'm realizing this, too, is a matter for self-forgiveness. 

When these times come, my mentor, Lynn, encourages me to look to see if there IS any merit to consider! 
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Animal Mentors

Relearning Self-Forgiveness


A few weeks back I posted about my journey towards releasing false self-esteem.

I really loved reading your comments on this post - thank you!

As part of my work to release false self-esteem, I have discovered I also need to re-learn how to forgive myself.

To start with, I am noticing some things are easier to forgive myself for than other things.

For example, right or wrong, it would seem I can forgive myself for transgressions against myself without even breathing hard. ("Oh, it was only me who got hurt - oh, well, then, no big deal!")

More challenging is to forgive myself for transgressions - accidental or otherwise - against others (in order of difficulty - most to least: family, friends, acquaintances, total strangers).

Nearly impossible is forgiving myself for any transgression that may have put an innocent (my pets, any animal, a child) in harm's way.

Yet in this new "re-learning self-forgiveness regimen," forgiving myself for all of the above is not optional.

If I am going to learn - I mean really learn - to forgive myself, I can't just do the easy ones and call it a lesson learned. I have to be able to forgive myself no matter what.

Ack.

Here is an example of particularly challenging one I'm working on now:

The other day I was on the phone with my best friend. She was in tears - I had taken care of her during her eye surgery, and she was telling me she had been taking her eye drops in the wrong order. I was the one who was in charge of reading the directions and organizing her drops. While we were talking, my parrot started screaming. He was very loud, but my friend was very upset, so I ignored him. He screamed for at least 10 minutes (probably longer) before I went to check on him. When I did, I discovered he was on the floor and unable to get back to his cage (he can't fly so if he ends up on the floor he needs me to help lift him back up to safety).

So here, there are two main areas where I need to forgive myself:

The eye drops oops.
The parrot rescue oops.

Where I'm at with the eye drops oops: 
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Movie Mentoring

(Not) Sexy Baby

Netflix can be a blessing or a curse.

Truthfully, sometimes I have trouble figuring out which is which on any given day.

Case in point - the other day, I loaded a movie called "Sexy Baby" into my queue.

The synopsis stated: This provocative documentary examines what it's like to be female in today's sex-obsessed culture from the viewpoints of three very different women.

Okay....interesting, right?

And also depressing, frustrating, mind-boggling, rage-producing, and "I'm so over this issue" fatiguing.

The film centers around the completely separate lives of three women:

A NYC tween named Winnifred, 12 years old.
An assistant kindergarten teacher named Laura, 22 years old.
A former porn star/pole dancer named Nichole, 32 years old. For reasons likely having to do with both interest and footage, the film largely hones in on Winnifred, who at 12 (she is 14 when the film closes) admittedly has the toughest challenges of her life yet ahead.

Near the end, she says:

I think this is the same with every teenager. You are going through so many changes, and it is so freaking confusing to figure out how you want to portray yourself. And there's a lot of girls just exploiting themselves and putting themselves out there to be judged by guys and other girls. But at certain point, if you don't want to become a prop in some guy's life, you have to find a goal and a path. And I do want to change people's lives. Um...and I'm not going to do that by being sexy. 

Winnifred is right. However, the fact that she knows this, and can articulate it, at age 14, is an insight many teens her age likely yet lack.

As well, it is easy to forget while watching "Sexy Baby" that these three women are people first and "props" (for the filmmakers to explore an issue common to all three) second. There is a lot of nudity, no small bit of rank language, an uncomfortably bloody moment in the operating room (Laura opts to have her labiaplasty on camera), and a number of terms from the adult film industry all jumbled in with the human beings living amongst it all.

Yet each woman has her own life that she is doing her best to live with what she knows in each moment as it unfolds.
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Mentoring

A Pomegranate a Day for Patience


I adore pomegranate season.

Pomegranates are so juicy and tasty - like a sweet and a nut all in one.

What I do not love is de-seeding the pomegranates.

In short, it is crazy-making.

My boyfriend, on the other hand, finds peeling pomegranates relaxing.

He says it is like meditation.

(Obviously this works out to both our advantage - I buy, he peels, we both eat).

I love meditation and do it daily, so it is odd I don't find the same quality in peeling fruit.

But truthfully, my "efficiency-oriented" brain always thinks it can improve the pomegranate de-seeding process.

I start peeling, and then a thought pops up. "Hey, look how easy that last group of seeds came off. What if you did the next section this way instead...."

Before I know it, I'm trying to outsmart the pomegranate, creating a faster, more streamlined approach to de-seeding.

This is about the same time the pomegranate pushes back. 
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