Friday, August 5, 2016

On Love and Vulnerability, 8.4.16

This is the last and probably longest post under the blog name 'Olive and Ash", as I'm in the process of transitioning over to the official start of the new blog "Studio 517". New name, new content, new look, new focus. I think it was time. I hope you will join me there as things get rolling. I will definitely be back here to add the re-direct link and also post it on my personal Facebook page. But now, for the last Olive and Ash post, I'm going to get a little deep on you. Partly because writing brings me clarity and partly because of this quote by Kelly Rae Roberts- "Our beautifully, messy, complicated stories matter. Tell it". So, I'm here, telling you a little about my not-so-beautiful-at-the-moment, but definitely complicated and messy story.

So, here goes: I've been doing some soul-searching this week. I've blocked anything that might be interpreted as a negative on social media, I've blocked phone calls and text messages, I've had several quiet, "self-care" days in a row and have been reading everything I can get my hands on and listening to anything I can find about conflict resolution, anger, fear, etc. You see, conflict from the past year, which I have mentioned here before, has come to a head recently; misunderstandings and miscommunications happened and I completely lost my cool, saying very hurtful things to people who are very important to me. Deep down, I knew it was bound to happen, as closure had not taken place regarding several of these prior conflicts. All year, negative thoughts and feelings from these conflicts have been simmering just below the surface. I kept my thoughts to myself because I have been working very hard at staying calm and keeping a clear head. But, like I said, misunderstandings happened, caught me off guard and I immediately went into hysterical mom-mode. Not my best moment, for sure.  Am I glad I got some things off my chest? At first, yes. But, after consideration, no. Definitely, no. Harsh words should never be said to people you still want to have a relationship with.  The words that fell out of my mouth and through my fingers were just more unkindness thrust out there for everybody to feel, even those who were not directly involved, in a moment of intense anger. Immaturity at it's finest. This time, the unfairness and unkindness was definitely caused by me.

Coincidently, along with the soul-searching, signs from Ruben J have been pretty frequent this week, as well. I've noticed some of these signs pretty often over the past few years, but also, pretty randomly. I think of these signs as his way of still being here to help me be a parent and keep this family strong. Anyway, for the past week, the signs have been anything but random. They have been extensive and very clear and regular. So much so that I purposely spent some time at the cemetery last weekend, just thinking and purposely asking for more of his help. And the signs continue.

As I said before, I've been spending this week on some self-care. For me, self-care always includes going to the book store. So I drove to Barnes and Noble and browsed around, looking for classroom management books, maybe a new planner, maybe some 75% off items that I definitely did not need. Basically, I was really just lost in my thoughts, going through the motions, because my heart just wasn't into shopping. On my way out, though, I was drawn to the magazine section (as I always am because magazines are a guaranteed quick read with lots of pretty pictures). I was immediately drawn to the publication called Happinez. I had bought a copy a few months ago because, again, it had pretty (correction- beautiful) photos. So, I spent $18.00 on it (yes, $18.00! That's why I refer to it as a "publication", not a magazine!), leafed through a few of the articles and cut the best photos out of it to use on a collaged tray.  Honestly, I thought it was a bit of a waste of money. So, guess what I did? Yes, I bought another issue. I began my "leafing through" a couple of days ago, but never went beyond that. But yesterday afternoon, I did some yoga to clear my head, then I did what all good yogis do- I had a beer on the front porch.;) And, I grabbed that Happinez "publication" on the way out. And, what was the topic of the first three articles that I read? Love.

From Happinez, Issue 4

Hmmm...was this Ruben J. "talking" to me? It did sound like something he would say. So, I read on and wondered how this probably, often over-used and cliche' concept, relates to me and how it could somehow make sense of this current conflict. As I read and thought, things began slowly coming together in my mind. A few days earlier, I was telling my son how I was so hurt by this whole situation because I actually really loved the person involved and loved having them in our lives. I felt so lucky. Then came what I considered to be unfair criticism and what seemed like complete rejection. And criticism and rejection from someone you love just plain sucks. I'm sure most people reading this can relate to that. And for me, dealing with that pain was much easier when I was mad. I could be fake-nice around them, but deep down, I was still really, really mad. But, really, I think I was just still really, really hurt. It was a familiar feeling, as Ruben J. and I talked about it often when we would get into huge fights over common, silly things that come up between most divorced couples. I remember how we agreed that sometimes it was just so much easier to deal with criticism or the rejection of one by the other, or vice versa, by being mad. Does that make sense?  Being mad is easier than being hurt because being hurt means that you are vulnerable. And being vulnerable opens a whole new can of worms. Being vulnerable is like showing up to work naked. Being vulnerable makes you feel weak and embarrassed. No one really wants to be vulnerable, but, really, it is the only way to be open to see things clearly and let others see you clearly. And, so, I thought to myself, maybe I let my lack of wanting to appear vulnerable cloud my judgement. Who was I to judge where the other person in this situation is coming from? Maybe they are going through something I don't know about.  Maybe their criticism isn't really even about me. Or, maybe they just didn't know how to express it clearly. Or maybe they did and I was off the mark and just misunderstood. I don't know because I don't live in their head and know what they are dealing with and going through. I wish now that I would have risked appearing vulnerable and just asked some questions. The worst thing to do in a moment of confusion is to get mad. But, regretfully, that is what I did.  I got mad. Really mad. Instead of trying to be understanding and compassionate, I, angrily, lashed out. That is something I'm going to have to deal with, because it is done now. For now, though, all I can do is sit with it. And, it ain't easy, let me tell you.

From the book, Think Happy, Be Happy by Workman Publishing

I'm not quite sure how I will remedy this situation, considering these revelations, but it is a starting point, for sure. And it is a relief to have reflected a bit about where the anger comes from. Because anger is scary, I think. And I don't like myself when I'm wrapped up in it. I know, deep down, that it is not who I am. I have had my share of "hothead" moments in my lifetime, for sure. And it may have even partially defined me at one time. But, not anymore. That is not who I am.

And, as I am really focused on mantras lately, I've been repeating the phrase "Peace. Love. Peace. Love. Peace. Love" to myself. (Pretty goofy sounding, I know. But it helps.) Now I am, once again, going to add the words compassion and forgiveness. So, mantra #1) Peace. Love. Compassion. Forgiveness. And, as M. reminded me, as he held up my arm to expose the newly tattooed "conversation" on my wrists, I was reminded of mantra #2) Be Still. Be Strong. Be Happy. Be Good. I think those are all good things to keep in mind as the healing process begins. I am now ready to begin, I'm just hoping the others involved in this situation are ready, too, before we miss too much of each other's lives.

Okay, well, I will stop rambling now. Thank you for reading and bearing with me while I thought "out loud" here on this page. As always, I hope it helps someone out there reading, who may be going through a similar situation,  as much as it helped me to write it. Before I go, though, I have to give a shout out and a thank you to my husband, too, as he has been bearing with me all week (all year, really). The support that this man gives me is incredible. He always says that he is my biggest fan. I believe him. And I love him like crazy.

Please send some positive vibes our way. We could really, really use them. 


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