angry with my daughter

I am so effing angry at my daughter!

Why? Well, I think she’s boldface lying to me.

And because I bought it.

Maybe I’m more angry with myself here – for wanting to believe her – for wanting to love her and feel close to her no matter what. Even when the evidence suggests otherwise.

Let me back up a bit. My daughter had a party last Saturday night to celebrate her 17th birthday, and there’s evidence that she and her friends were drinking – in our house, right under our noses. There was a screw top to a “Barefoot” brand wine bottle that we found when cleaning up, and our wine bottle opener was missing. I asked her if she knew where it was, and of course she said no. But then it turned up the next day – in the kitchen drawer that my husband and I checked repeatedly, because he wanted to enjoy a glass of wine that night.

It’s funny – the more I observe myself, the more I notice. When my husband was frustrated that he couldn’t find his wine bottle opener, I was annoyed. He often misplaces and loses things and gets very frustrated, and it’s exasperating to me that he’s so challenged in keeping track of his stuff. But I also noticed that I wanted to protect our daughter from his frustration, since I immediately suspected that she (or one of her friends) had taken it.

As I said, she denied it, and then the missing opener turned up right where she suggested we should look.

When we talked to her about it last night, she got all defensive and offended that we were “accusing” her of oh so many things!

And I think it’s all a freakin’ act.

My daughter does this – puts on the halo, so to speak, and acts all innocent when we are trying to hash out the truth. I hate it, and yet I desperately want to believe it. I want to believe that she’s not engaging in high-risk behaviors. I want to believe that she’s making smart and safe decisions for herself. I want to believe that she’ll be safe and not risk drunkenness, date rape, STDs, pregnancy, or arrest – as she has in the not-too-distant past.

The truth is, I’m scared for my daughter. I’m terrified that she won’t make it to adulthood, in one whole, healthy piece. I’ve heard too many stories of teens and young adults who make decisions that follow them for life, along with too many regrets.

I want her to be safe and happy and yet I know, as I write this, she already is – safe enough and finally happy with her life. She’d hate me for locking her down and curbing her freedom. She hates my suspicion and fear. She wants to look into my eyes and see that I love her – no matter what.

I guess I need to trust in the process of her life’s unfoldment and notice when I’m caught in my old stuff, as I am right now.

Because I am well aware that have my own regrets from my own experimentation in my young adult years. I wish I hadn’t wasted time drinking, in particular, and chasing guys and doing risky, stupid stuff that I still regret. I know it was part of my own growing up experience, but I wish it could’ve gone differently for me. And so I want better for her. I want her to have a better, more satisfying life than what I created for myself.

I know I need to let her find her own way. She needs to live her own life, and I need to let her. I know I need to do this regardless of my jumble of feelings towards her, which I will continue to work through today – and whenever they come up – because that’s my own commitment to myself.

Namaste.

 

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on being tired

For some reason, I seem to have resistance to being tired. Tiredness inevitably strikes me at about 4 PM each day — although I usually manage a brief rally to greet my family as they arrive home, and to whip up a good dinner. But then the tiredness takes me down at about 6:30 PM, after dinner is done.

I guess it’s because I begin my day at 5 AM, and it’s busy, and productive, and packed. It’s physically and emotionally demanding. I’m doing, I’m thinking, I’m noticing (usually) strong emotions.

Staying with my experience, and accomplishing everything I want to do in a day takes a lot of my energy. It makes sense. It’s reasonable that I’d feel tired at some point. After all, as my former life coach once said: “Everything in nature goes through a period of renewal.”

The 9 hours of sleep I get each night allows me to renew myself. As do the winter months. I naturally find myself drawing inward to reflect and restore.

I guess I just need more rest during the day – more breaks. I tend to go from one thing to the next, to the next. I demand a lot of output from myself, and perhaps my body is simply signaling me that this needs to change. After all, I’m approaching 50. My body isn’t going to necessarily perform as it did when I was 22.

But I wonder if my tiredness has deeper roots. Because as I write this, I’m noticing some deep tiredness within myself. It’s showing up in the vicinity of my heart chakra, and I seem to be experiencing it on an emotional level. It’s gone now; I wonder if I pushed it away? Before it went, I noticed some fear around this feeling – and I know why. It’s because I wonder if I’m tired of my life, and if I’m hearing towards death.

I suppose we’re all heading towards death, with each day we live. My husband jokes that none of us get out alive. But for me, for some reason, I’m scared that my own death is right around the corner. And that the tiredness is somehow related.

I’d really like to bring this out into consciousness. I’m only scared of death at this age because I have a 10-year old daughter, and I don’t want to leave her to navigate life without me.

I don’t want to die yet because I still need to dispose of my journals. I have some cleaning and organizing to do! I want to leave things neat and tidy when I go. I don’t want to step out and leave a mess behind.

This is my role in the family: organizer, initiator, bill payer, manager of kids and house and stuff. I see things that need to be done and do them, fairly well. While others sit back and let me do my thing.

Who will take care of things when I’m gone? I guess this is none of my business. Dying – or “taking samahdi,” as is said in India, it’s the ultimate exercise in letting go. Which is one of the most important practices in my life right now.

Which is not to say I want to, or am ready to die. Yet. I’m looking forward to meeting my maker when the time comes, but right now, I want to understand how this relates to my exploration of my tiredness.

I suppose I could be tired of my life as it is, and the tiredness I feel in my body is reflecting that. Maybe I need to do more things that are fun and energy-giving, rather than energy-depleting. Like write, go to a museum, poke my head into Macy’s, take a hike along the river. I really do keep myself doing-doing-doing all the things I tell myself I’m supposed to do, pretty much all the time. While I don’t allow too many just-for-fun things in my life – or ask for enough help.

When I’m honest with myself, I’m like a slave driver – of myself. “All work and no play make Jack a dull boy,” goes the old saying. Perhaps this tiredness is signaling that I need to stop being serious and dull and all-business all the time, and get out and relax and allow more time for friends and fun!

Well, I guess I’ll go find out.

 

A Thanksgiving Insight

I just spent Thanksgiving with my parents, and about a dozen other extended family members. We congregated in two houses, on Long Beach Island, NJ. I have to say I absolutely love being near the beach. It’s practically a spiritual experience for me!

But back to my parents. I’m still processing my experiences of them this trip. I’m still sifting through the conversations, feelings, memories and impressions of being together.

I don’t know what to say except that the predominant feeling of being around them was something along the lines of “I’m not what they want.” It’s as if they look at me and want me to be someone else, preferably a clone of them. At least, this is my experience.

It’s painful. But what’s even worse than this is the history of my own associated self-rejection. What’s truly painful is that I’ve bought into this wrong-thinking and have rejected myself, over and over again.

It was an interesting discovery, to notice that this is how I feel in relationship to them. The feeling of “I’m not what they want/There’s something wrong with me” was a common thread, interwoven throughout every single one of our interactions over the holiday, and it makes me scared.

I’m scared that I’m going to buy-into this idea (once again) that there is actually something fundamentally wrong with me – and I’m not what they want – and slip into my old eating disorder and other former self-destructive tendencies.

I’m afraid that I’ll leave myself – abandon who and what I am and want to be – in favor of trying to make myself into something I think they will recognize and approve of and love.

I’m terrified that I’ll turn away from myself, over and over again, in every single day of my life, when in reality, I am fine, exactly the way I am.

I meed to say that again: I am fine, exactly the way I am. In fact, there is absolutely nothing wrong with me. I am wonderful and beautiful and loving and lovable, and there’s nothing wrong with me!

Okay, that felt good to affirm these positive messages to myself. I truly hope that by becoming aware of the old negative thoughts and messages that have been simmering in my unconscious, I can lessen their effects on me. I hope I can dissolve them and choose new thoughts about myself, and live consciously from them, and create a more fulfilling life.

I hope. I hope – I’ll let you know how it goes.

After all, my life seems to be one grand experiment.

 

 

I am okay

“I am okay.”

This revolutionary thought occurred to me recently. I think it came up yesterday in my blog pages, but it may have originated before that in some meditative, perceptive moment. Regardless, the idea – this truth – has been slowly dawning on me. And not only that, but more radical ideas have been following along the same lines. Namely, the recognition that: “I’ve always been okay, there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with me, and I am really and truly okay just as I am.”

These new thoughts butt up against a long-held belief of mine that there is, in fact, something fundamentally wrong with me. That I’m bad. Not just wrong, but totally wrong. A sinner. Not what they want, and certainly not okay or whole. In fact, I’ve believed that I need healing. I need tons of grace, in fact, to heal. And I need to work really really really hard, fighting against my human nature all the way. I’ve got to strive and grasp and effort and exhaust myself until I finally excise the yucky stuff of me, and put myself together in some form that’s somehow acceptable. Until I finally resemble something that will make my parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles and teachers and husband and kids and God love me, and proud of me.

The problem with this is – well, there are a lot of problems with this. There are myriad problems that stem from this erroneous core belief. Basically my whole life and all the choices I’ve made have been built on this wrong thinking – on the fear that I’m most certainly not okay.

So now that I’ve recognized the fallacy of this belief, I wonder how my life will be. Now that I know there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with me, and that I am okay.

Well, maybe the old self-hatred and rejection and habitual efforts to strive to make myself over into something “okay” will cease. Maybe I’ll relax a little bit, and enjoy myself and the life that I’m already living. Maybe I’ll let myself pursue yoga and writing and all the things that fill up my heart – without guilt. Maybe I’ll let go of the belief that to be worth anything, I “should be” pursuing some high-paying job in the financial services industry.

Maybe I’ll just sit with this discovery and see where it leads. There was a lot of pain around this yesterday – around the old thought that I’m not okay. Maybe I’ll see if anymore wants to surface, so I can embrace the new with my whole being.

While this is a big shift for me, I can just be with it. I can observe myself and simply notice what is, and be grateful.

I think it’s almost too much to process, so I’ll make room for it – this experience – to unfold. I’m curious to see how it goes, and where it leads.

Namaste.

down about me

This morning, I’m feeling really down about me.

I’m down about my sensitivity and my emotionality. I’m down about how everything seems to touch me, to affect me in life – from the simplest kid’s movie, to stuff in the newspaper – while nothing seems to touch my husband, ever.

I feel bad about my interest in feelings, emotions, energy, the unseen, spirituality and creativity.

I’m frustrated with how torn I feel in always wanting things to be different than they are, rather than accepting everything as it is.

I’m especially tied up in knots about my inability to stop judging myself and just accept me as I am. Instead, I feel like I have to be different somehow. This is an old feeling, I think. One that’s very familiar to me.

I know it has something to do with my parents. With how my mom was very emotional – explosive even – in expressing her very strong feelings. And my dad – well, he didn’t seem to feel anything, be touched by anything, express emotions or react – ever. (He’s a lot like my husband, actually.) I think maybe I saw my dad cry once. But even this memory is very vague. It could’ve been never.

He was the one who tried to teach me to be like he is – unemotional and rational. And I was his willing student. I went “heavy on the math and science courses” in high school, and literally swallowed my own desires to focus on English and art and join the yearbook club.

It’s just frustrating that I’m still dealing with this at 48. After years of therapy, and psycho-spiritual inquiry, and even yoga.

I’m still dealing with the very same fucking things.

Which may be telling me something.

Like there’s nothing wrong with me.

That there’s nothing to fix, or get frustrated about, or reject, or strive to change.

Maybe I’m just meant to (as I read recently in some yogic literature) simply observe myself. Just watch my inner angst and turmoil, and hurt, and feelings of inadequacy and brokenness – knowing that’s it’s not me.

Knowing that I am greater than all of this experience – and that we all are, deep inside.

IDK. I really don’t! But I know one thing. I’m tired. I’m tired of trying to analyze and “heal” myself. Maybe this isn’t even possible. Maybe this life is just the experience I’ve been given, and I’m meant to be aware of it, and not get too tied up in knots about it.

Maybe I can simply notice the old messages that come up along the lines of “There’s something wrong with me.” Notice them and let them go, without acting or reacting to them.

It’s worth a try. Because maybe everything is already okay in my life – with my sensitivity, my emotionality and with how life hits me. Maybe I just need to make time to watch myself and learn, and not take myself and my experience too seriously.

Maybe I can do this and offer it to God – and see where this practice leads.

 

 

 

 

 

Self care as a practice

I’m going to Lewes, Delaware! I’m going to Lewes, Delaware! I’m going to Lewes, Delaware and I’m so happy!

I love Lewes (pronounced LOO-is) so much. It’s one of my favorite places in the Mid-Atlantic region, and we’ve been lucky to spend a number of (always too-short) vacations there over the past 20 years. My love affair with Lewes began when my in-laws invited all their kids and their spouses and grandkids to be their guests at a rental in town. I had never been there before, let alone heard about this town with the funny pronunciation.

The house they took was very old but quaint and comfortable enough, despite the lack of a/c, but it had a great location. It was within walking distance to the Zwannendael Museum, King’s Homemade Ice Cream Shop (which we visited every night), the picturesque canal, and a colorful assortment of shops, cafes and restaurants. The best part – as far as I was concerned – was that we were just a short ride to Cape Henlopen State Park and the ocean beaches.

Cape Henlopen is where the Delaware Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean. The state park is gorgeous and well preserved. There’s a Nature Center to visit, a fishing pier, and places to camp. There are also bikes to borrow that enable exploration of the network of trails and hidden treasures within, including an old fort that was in operation during WWII. There’s just so much history in Lewes (and the surrounding areas), since it was founded in 1631. But mostly I love the beach and the water, since being by the water is essentially a spiritual experience for me.

Anyway, I just made the decision to pass through Lewes on an upcoming road trip, and I’m really excited. I just love being there. I’ve been missing it and dreaming about it, and now I’m going to give myself this gift. I realize that by saying “yes” to myself – to my yearings to be in Lewes – that I’m actually practicing self care. It’s funny, the things that constitute self care can come in a variety of packages, although the practice of self care is essentially the same: inner listening, noticing what it is that I want in a day, and giving it to myself.

This sounds simple but is actually really big for me. Because (for a variety of reasons) I find myself frequently oriented outside of myself, towards others rather than myself, focusing on and elevating priorities other than my own, I don’t always do the “listening/noticing/giving”care practice I described above. It’s taken me a lot of time to practice with small things, like what I want to eat and my preferred exercise in a day. Which is why this whole passing through Lewes detour feels big. And there are other things I want to do for myself, like take a solo vacation, but have never given myself. Yet.

Regardless, in this moment, I think I’ll savor my quiet victory and acknowledge that I’m making progress in my self-care practice – in saying yes to me. And I’ll enjoy my time in Lewes.

Lewes, here I come!

 

Just showing up

Well, here I am on Day 2 of my new resolution, just showing up at my keyboard to blog. Intentionally meeting myself here, in these “pages.” Actively keeping my promise to myself just to have this experience and see where it leads.

Actually, I’m intrigued by the idea that a regular writing practice constitutes self-care for me, per yesterday’s (and prior) blog meanderings. I’m also curious about what other needed self-care items I’ve been essentially refusing to do for myself. Like art. I love art. I enjoy making little abstract-design notecards, among other things. I harbor the secret hope of someday working in a larger format – making huge abstract designs on giant canvases.

Someday. But for now, there’s my fun notecard-making practice, which takes very little time and space at all – and few materials.

What else? Well, there’s the “Daily Temperature Reading” – a sharing tool from a couples class my husband and I took years back. This 15-minute daily practice helps with focused connection between partners in a proscribed format, and I love it. I realize I need it to feel emotionally close to my husband on a regular basis. Yet I don’t ask him for a “DTR.” So consequently, we don’t do it. Instead, I seem to continually default to feeling miserable and alone and aloof in our marriage, and staying in those negative feelings, rather than take steps to change them.

What else? Well, I know it’s good for me to regularly connect with extended family and friends. When I don’t, I start feeling lonely and alienated. My thinking brain starts kicking up weird thoughts like they don’t like or love or understand me, or they’re angry at me, and next thing you know, I’m swimming in feelings of rejection and hurt. But. If I just pick up the phone and have a short conversation with them, I’m good. When I give myself the gift of a reality check, there’s my self-care.

What else? Time alone. Honestly saying yes or no. Ditching my people-pleasing tendencies. These are all related for me. I notice I have a hard time going to our pool in the summer, and just lying on a lounge chair in some remote corner and reading a book. It’s like I have some compulsion to be where all the action is (which is not at all relaxing), say “hello” to people I know, and allow myself to be drawn into conversation with them, when I just need to veg-out. Instead I say “yes” to them – or to my people pleasing urges or habit of being “on” all the time, which drive my actions – and “no” to what I really need. It’s literally as if I don’t know how to give myself permission to relax. While I can simply be and write and meditate in the early mornings, once I get into my day, I just keep going. After dinner, I may allow myself to relax on a couch or enjoy a blazing fire with the newspaper, but only if I’m spent. I just go-go-go during the days until I literally fall into bed, while any thoughts of what I needed in the bulk of my day (ie self care) have gone out the window.

Hmmmm. This is all very interesting. It’s like I’m really seeing where I can practice necessary self care in my life, as it is today. There’s still room for a lot of improvement in this area, and I’m ready to do something about it. I won’t let all these insights remain as vague impressions in the back of my mind. They’ve surfaced into consciousness – thankfully – and that’s a gift.

So, that’s it for now. Until tomorrow, dear reader. Who knows what Day 3 at the keyboard will bring!

 

My Daily Bread

Last night my 10-year-old daughter and I finished “Princess Academy” by Shannon Hale. It’s a lovely book, a wonderful coming-of-age story involving a clever, brave and kind teenage heroine, and we were loath to reach the last page. But in perusing the after pages in the book, something the author said in an interview caught my eye.

When asked about her profession and writing life, she answered: “In some ways, I don’t feel as if I had a choice [about being a writer]…….when I’ve tried to ignore that part of me, I’ve gone a little crazy. Characters start tugging on my sleeves, words start haunting me, and I feel generally unsatisfied. Really, being a writer sounds more like a mental illness than a professional choice.”

This really struck me, because literally that’s how I feel most of the time in my life. I feel crazy and unsatisfied, and often unhappy with my marriage. In moments of clarity, I’ve come to suspect – again – that this is probably about me, and may be related to whether I’m writing or not. And yet, for some reason – even knowing this – I still don’t write.

I make lots of other things priorities in my life, but not my writing.

Why? Because I’m scared, I guess. Because I’m afraid to relate daily to this magical, wondrous part of me, that could lead me down some path where I might be a different person living out her life. Where I might be happy and satisfied.

Julia Cameron speaks to this in her book, “The Artist’s Way.” She says it is scary for artists to allow themselves time with their craft, in part because they’re afraid to be happy. Unhappy, she says, we know who we are.

There are other reasons, too. I think this is essentially a self-care issue for me. I still refuse to care for myself in this way. I still avoid myself and writing.

To be fair, I’m revising a book I’ve been working on for a long time. But I sometimes wonder, in working with this older material, what am I not opening to, in terms of new, fresh words and ideas flowing through me?

Also to be honest, I don’t work on my book daily. And I choose to focus on a lot of other things in a day that help my family, perhaps, and are important to me, but don’t truly nurture me, like my writing.

Maybe I just need to make writing a habit. Set a standing date with myself: at 9 AM every morning, I’ll meet myself at my keyboard and blog. I’ve actually been thinking about this lately. Maybe because we’re nearing the end of this calendar year, and I remember reading something about a type of New Year’s resolution a while back. It involved artists or creative people who committed to doing something they love in every day, for a whole year. The article, featured in “The Washington Post” magazine, told about a hairdresser who learned a new braiding technique every day, and a woman who wanted to make miniature chairs. This lady even used ice cream sandwiches to construct her daily chair! I’d say the idea is to both make a commitment to yourself, and push the limits of your current creativity.

While the idea is compelling and has merit, I don’t like to push or force myself to do anything as a rule. So I’ve let January 1 pass me by a couple of times without committing to do a daily blog. But I’m not writing. I’m still not writing regularly, despite recognizing that this is important for me. Despite making promises to myself in the past – in these blog pages – to give myself the gift of writing daily.

So maybe now’s the time. Now’s the time to make this commitment to myself. What would that be like, I wonder? How will my life be different? How will I feel?

Literally, writing is my daily bread. It’s my food. I need it for sustenance. I need it to function in a way that’s relatively normal. I need it to not feel crazy, but to experience myself as whole.

And so I give this gift to myself – today. I’m making a commitment to write every day, in this blog. Even if I just show up to say “I’m not in the mood to write,” I’m doing it. I’m going to try it and see how it is.

 

 

Oh, Faith-less one

The other day, my husband mentioned that his dad has a new girlfriend.

Herman was widowed last May when my mother-in-law was hit by a car in front of their house. She had dementia – probably Alzheimer’s – but her husband didn’t fight her when she wanted to walk their neighborhood (in tights and a turtle neck but no skirt) or cross the street to get their mail. Their house is situated on a truck route in New York State, with a speed limit of 45 miles per hour.

To be honest (and fair), I don’t know that Herman and his lady friend are actually an item, but this was my husband’s take, and he knows his dad pretty well.

In this moment, the news is killing me. It brings up all the pain of losing Faith, which was my mother-in-law’s name. It brings up my anger that Herman didn’t take steps to keep her safe as her dementia progressed. It makes me judgmental as all hell, wanting to shout to the world – and especially to my father-in-law, that he is truly faith-less. As in, not only living life without his wife of 63 years, but faithless to HER, her memory, and to us, her surviving family.

I am so fucking pissed off, I can barely stand it. I feel so bad and sad I could scream. How could he do this? How could he move on so quickly? What about the woman he recently professed to have loved the most out of anyone in the whole world?

The cynical side of me whispers reasons. He’s self-absorbed, and always has been. He’s self-centered and never will change. He’s of the generation of men that need a woman to care for them. He’s a man, like your own husband, who has physical needs that he/they will not deny, no matter who it hurts.

I am glad I am infrequently in touch with my father-in-law, because then I can feign acceptance of his life choices. This space gives me time to do the work of allowing my feelings in the hope that true acceptance and compassion follow.

After all, he deserves this, as does any human being walking the sometimes–painful path of life.

Namaste.

On Marriage and Writing

Marriage is interesting. Challenging. Befuddling. At least it is to me.

I’ve been a party to this institution for some-20-odd years now. Married to my husband since October 1994, and together since July 1993.

I can’t say all these years have all been fun. They’ve been a thousand other things, which I suppose points to the richness of marriage. But also to the frequent challenges. I find myself angry or frustrated with my partner more times that I could count. I sometimes feel lonely in our relationship, neglected, unseen, unheard, not valued, ignored – and yet, he’s a nice guy, a steady guy who loves me and cares about our family.

So what the hell is the problem?

Me. I’m sure whatever is going on is mostly with – and about – me.

After my last round of cycling through myriad strong feelings seemingly about my husband just this past week, I was exhausted and thankful to have moved on with him into a better place. One that was more neutral and positive. One in which I had some time and space to reflect.

Perhaps that’s why, last night, around 3 AM I had a related “ah-ha” moment. Perhaps, because I asked the questions – Why? And just what the hell is going on? – I got an answer that makes sense to me. And it had to do with my writing.

The awareness that dawned on me carried this message: when I don’t write, I literally go crazy. So I need to write, daily. I need to do this as acts of self-care and self-preservation. To ground me. I must write, I must, I must.

It’s that important for me. I get it now. Whether I prioritize my writing in a day – or not – seems a critical factor in my mental and emotional (and probably physical) health, and the health of the relationships with the various others in my life.

Perhaps those recurrent feelings of not being seen or heard or valued and ignored by my husband have to do with my relationship with myself. And for some reason I project my feelings onto my husband, to whom I turn when I’m lost. And I suppose I’ve felt lost lately. Perhaps my inner desperation about our relationship is merely reflecting the desperation I feel when I allow everything else in my life to take priority over me and my writing.

So I will make a resolution to write. I need to make time to do it, to meet myself on the page, daily.

It’s a valuable insight or theory that I will test. It resonates, it makes sense, so I’ll go with it. Already I feel better – more upbeat and lighter – from blogging yesterday and today. Writing helps me process my life. I need this too. So I will keep on this path and see where it leads.

Hopefully into health and peace and a more stable mood.

May it be so.

Namaste.