Feelings And Fish

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I am not sure this will make sense but I am sure going to try.

Today was THERAPIST DAY. It was a doozie. She always makes me think and dig deep to find my own truths.  This is what she said to me that made me have an “A-hah!” moment. It was something I “knew” yet something that was not yet crystal clear to me.

You would think that at middle age I would have “gotten” this before or at least been observing it under the lens of magnification before, but suddenly today it became very clear. Like turning the dial on the microscope and finally being able to focus in tightly and clearly on the subject, which in this case just happens to be me.

After telling her about how I felt sharing my feelings in my relationship was important and anything less was somehow dishonest, she said, “No one else is expected to honor your feelings except you. They are yours alone. Stop expecting that B will honor what are yours to carry.”

Really! I thought that was what marriage was suppose to be about. Honoring the relationship, honoring one another in that relationship. Apparently not when it comes to your own feelings. No expectations here because all you will be is disappointed. Yeah, I know, the Buddha says the same thing.

“Stop worrying about the stuff up there, what B is doing, what B is thinking” she said looking upwards. “Go deeper and dig to find your own truths. Think of it this way. You know when you walk in one of those aquarium  tunnels and the sharks and fish are swimming above you?  Sure, you could worry about all the murky stuff floating/moving above you, the weight of all those millions of gallons of water, the sharks breaking free and swallowing you whole. But seriously, if you have your feet planted firmly on the floor examining your own truths (these tunnels are safe) and not worrying about the sharks swimming above you, you will finally relax and enjoy what it is you are seeing.  And you will soon see the truth. Your truths. The truths that you are meant to discover. Eventually you will just enjoy watching the fish and will discover that you can ignore the poop that is floating above you. In fact, by ignoring the other (fish poop, worries about tunnel caving in, etc.) then you can really get into it and experience all the wonder of the relationship around you. ”

Now, somehow I am suppose to transfer this bit of fish lore to my life and my relationship with B. I am not exactly sure how, but said therapist assures me that as B is left to look at himself, instead of me trying to get him to see all that is floating around in the water with us; everything will soon become much clearer to me…and to him too. This doesn’t mean everything will turn out the way I would like but at least with clarity comes a sense of truth and knowing what you are doing is the right thing for you… and this woman needs a boat load of that.

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Quieting My Soul

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It used to be that for my husband’s job we would move about every 2 years. I loved the excitement of it all. The new house, new town, new things to do. I loved purging my life of all the un’s … the un-used, the un-wanted and the un-needed. I loved starting life “over.”

For the past 10 years we have lived in one town but moved to three different houses. We have been in this one 5 years. About the longest we have ever lived in one place and to tell you the truth…I am ready to move. This wouldn’t be a problem except that it is…B refuses to move again. I get it. It is a pain to move….so much to do…taking apart, putting together, cleaning, painting, and organizing, Yet, I was good at it. Amazingly so. In fact, I got so good at moving I would have all my boxes unpacked within the first 72 hours. No boxes sitting in the garage waiting to be unpacked for me. I took that as a personal affront if things were not in place where they belonged…soul included. And for a while my soul would be at peace while it explored and planned and painted.

My soul is a nervous one. One that craves excitement, changes and challenges. My soul has a hard time sitting and staying in one place. And when my soul gets itchy I know that it is time to move. Yet, I can’t. B no longer wants to buy and sell houses; no longer wants the bother.

So how does one feed an itchy soul?

I am not sure. I am meditating which calms and centers me but still my soul is restless. I am working on my novel but still my soul wants to wander. Sometimes it feels as if my soul is akin to a ghost wandering the halls of an old mansion looking for a way to get back into herself. And I am just not sure how to quiet her.

Will it quiet when I am living where I really want to be? Will it quiet when my marriage is good again? Will it quiet when I know what the future holds for my two autistic sons? Or do some souls never quiet because they are always looking to stir things up and invite chaos into their lives?

People say doing things for others helps quiet the soul. I haven’t found that to be true yet but I am hoping to start volunteering for a local hospice program and perhaps that will help…being close to death often reminds you how precious it all is and plants seeds of contentment in your soul.

Or perhaps quieting the soul it is more ominous to me than I truly want to recognize. Maybe my soul believes that quieting itself means I have given up… that I no longer am wanting or expecting change, that I am content and therefore complacent, that I am accepting of whatever comes my way; no longer carving out a life of my own. Done. Finished. Bricked up like a fireplace in an old house so as to eliminate the drafts. And if this is what quieting the soul is all about then frankly it scares the crap out of me.

Sometimes I wonder if I am doomed to have a wandering soul and sometimes I wonder if wandering is better than a soul lost to complacency. I’m sure there must be a middle ground but I have been unable to find it. For now my soul wants a change but perhaps this time the change will have to be within me and not through external circumstances. Looking inward instead of out. I am not sure but I know without a doubt that change is acoming’.

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It’s Been A Hell Of A Week

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Sometimes I feel like I am on a roller coaster. I pull the emergency brake and nothing happens and so I just keep going around and around and around.

Besides the usual weird school calls, the asthma attacks (come get your son, please) and the hiding of food in the most unusual places; this week Gracie is making my life hell because she doesn’t want to go to Disneyland with her school orchestra. WHAT KID ON PLANET EARTH DOESN’T WANT TO GO TO DISNEYLAND? Apparently mine. It figures I would have that anomaly in my family too.

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Then the other day….the worst. B was driving to Southern CA when he had a few chest pains but continued on because they only lasted a minute or so. Then when he was driving home from Southern CA, suddenly his hand and arm just quit working. He pulled over into a rest stop and his hand was contracted like when you have a debilitating stroke. He could not grip his phone or the steering wheel. This went on for 30 minutes or so at which point he got back into the car and headed home.

The next morning as he was heading off to work he suddenly got terribly dizzy and it felt like his eyes were crossing. He could barely stand. I got him in the car to take him to the hospital and asked did he want me to take him or call an ambulance. He wanted an ambulance which immediately told me something was VERY wrong.

By the time I arrived at the hospital blood had been drawn. He was sitting in a chair in the hall. There were no rooms at the inn. He had ataxia and the ER doctor ordered an MRI and several other tests to rule out a stroke. Luckily, everything came back normal and he was discharged five hours later (having never gotten a room due to the fullness of the hospital and ER). I took him to our physician and he made an appointment for him to see a neurologist.

During the day in the ER many things went through my head. First and foremost: I LOVE THIS MAN. Through thick and thin, sickness and health and even the past two crappy years. Seeing him laying there pale, sweaty and unable to control his body scared the crap out of me but I knew one thing…I knew I would stand by him no matter what happened because he is who I love and want to be with. The thought of losing him in this way…there are no words just feelings of immense pain like falling into a dark well.

My second thought was this: Oh shit, I hope this doesn’t scare him and he decides that he is getting near the end of his life and he has to change it. As in “I think I want a divorce.” AGAIN. Needless to say, when those negative thoughts appeared I suddenly had the urge to send his chair careening down the hall into the sharpest needle possible.

Being married for 30+ years is hard. Realizing that as a couple you will be spending more time in the ER and visiting doctors is even harder. We are nearing 60 and getting old is not like the ads on TV. We are running out of both mental and physical reserves. Things ache when we wake up and when we go to bed. Knees don’t bend and body parts start to become unrecognizable.  What the HELL…WHY DOESN’T SOMEONE SIT YOU DOWN WHEN YOU ARE YOUNG AND TELL YOU ALL OF THIS? WHY DON’T THEY WARN YOU THAT OLD AGE IS ALMOST AS BAD AS THE ALTERNATIVE? Had I known all of this I would have done things differently. I would have:

  1. Taken a thousand pictures of me in a bikini at 20. Unfortunately, I thought I was “too fat” or lacking in some area. NOW, I just realize how stupid I was to believe all the negative things I told myself about my body because, believe me, it all went downhill from there.
  2. I would have traveled even more than I have.
  3. I would have started meditating and practicing mindfulness years ago and reaped the benefits both emotionally and physically for the past three decades.
  4. Laughed more and taken everything less seriously. I thought it was the end of the world if my kids didn’t grow up to be college educated folk. Now I know that there are plenty of other things that are just as valuable and pleasing when you are traveling through life.
  5. Taken a year off before I married and had kids to roam. I would have been slightly more irresponsible, experiment more, and try new things at a much greater rate than I have. I would have tried new foods constantly and put more effort into discovering my “style” long before now.
  6. Maintained my weight vigilantly so I might have reduced the chance of having the aches and pains I have now.
  7. I would have taken every lesson known to man so I would have a much broader sense of life.
  8. I would have risked more and played it safe less.
  9. I would have had more sex.

 

So there you go. A starter list for you to improve your life NOW and in the future. Don’t wait until you are laying in a gurney somewhere. Life is meant to be lived. Do it now.

 

 

 

TRUST 2

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Sometimes my therapist just burns my butt. Lately, she has been on a diet so it has made her a little more cranky and direct. No beating around the bush with her.

The other day I read to her the piece I just blogged. It was about trust and she had the balls to turn it around on me. Damn!

“Interesting piece,” she said to me. “Obviously you understand what trust means to you. Too bad you don’t apply it to yourself and your relationship with B. Frankly, to get trust from someone else you have to practice it on a daily basis and strive to do/be all the things you wrote about. You have to give out all those things you want to get in life. You have to act in the way you want others to. If you want trust you also have to give it.”

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Well, doesn’t this just suck big turkey toes!!! Frankly, I thought, dear therapist, you are suppose to be on my side and tell me everything is B’s fault or B’s issue. Why am I paying you to make me look at myself in all this? What the heck? Where are all the rainbows and unicorns? Why aren’t you making me feel good? (LOL)

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Frankly, I don’t know if I am capable of trusting B or any other man for that matter. Men just don’t seem to be to be that trustworthy to me. Yes, that’s my issue, but still….when someone has been untrustworthy how do you begin the process of re-building? Really…I have to be the one to practice trust on a daily basis? Me…the trustworthy one. Okay, never mind those times when I have said “I’m done!” That doesn’t count. But according to my therapist they do. They undermine the relationship and make him afraid to trust that I won’t walk out the door.

So today I will attempt to TRUST and try to incorporate the ideas behind TRUST into my daily living. And I might even stop off at the donut shop and bring my therapist a treat. Damn that woman!

 

T – Truthful

R- Reliable

U- Uphold

S- Steadfast

T- Take For Granted

 

 

Trust

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T – Truthful

R- Reliable

U- Uphold

S- Steadfast

T- Take For Granted

 

This has been a week where I have been put in the position of feet to the flames in regards to trust.  I have been in a situation where I have had to CHOOSE to believe or not. A test for my soul, my heart, and my head.

You would think that trusting would be easy. After all, we enter this world as trusting human beings and if we are lucky we maintain that trust in ourselves and humanity at least until we get into school and we find out what “mean girls” are. But then, as we age, life begins to teach us that trust is not as easy or forthright as we once imagined it to be. It no longer is blind or innocent and often for many of us it becomes something that has to be earned rather than something that is freely given.

This week as I contemplated the issue of trust I decided I needed to understand just what that word meant to me. I discovered there were some essential ingredients that I feel must be evident if trust is to be maintained.  These are:

Truth- For me trusting means that your words and actions must be truthful. NO games, no secrecy, and no purposeful omissions. I want to know that what you say and do is based in truth.

Reliable- I must know that I can count on your words and actions to mean what you say they will mean and that those words will be acted upon and be done.

Uphold-In the old English sense of the word it means to maintain in good condition;to take care of.  It means that you will be constantly doing things to take care of our marriage. To me this fundamental if a relationship is to grow and thrive.

Steadfast- Unwavering in purpose, faith and attachment. Firmly fixed in place or position. You are not going anywhere.

Take for Granted- To accept without question and being able to believe what is said or done is true.

I suspect there is a whole lot more to trust than the things I have written and I know that trust is not just a one way street. Trust also involves making yourself vulnerable by believing in your partner when circumstances appear that it would be in your best interest to protect yourself. It means opening up your own heart, taking off the armor, and allowing possibilities to drift into your life when it makes you uncomfortable. It means looking for the best in the person or situation rather than the worst.

In theory, I believe that trusting with all your heart and soul is the best thing you can do for yourself and your relationships.  I would rather have my heart broken than to never have tried to trust.  But in practice, trust takes two, and you have to know that your partner is trustworthy in all realms of your relationship in order for it to survive.

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Words

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We are walking along the cliffs. The wind is blowing. Huge waves are crashing against massive boulders in anticipation of the storm that is blowing in. B huddles deeper into his coat as the air picks up my words and delivers them to the man beside me.

“Everyday, you can choose to love or you can choose not to,” I say to B. “And so I choose to love you today and I will choose to love you forever.”

“That’s nice,” he says flashing that smile I have known and loved for so many years. The smile that I suddenly want to slap right off of his face.

THAT’S NICE?????!!!! REALLY….AFTER OVER 30 YEARS TOGETHER IS THAT ALL YOU’VE GOT? DON’T YOU KNOW YET THAT…

I am a woman who needs words. I write for a living for God’s sake! I love hearing double vowels, romantic words, and certain letters rolling off the tongue like the sound of an L, which can be so incredibly sexy when you are at the right place in time with the right person. I like hearing sharp bursts of words from children who have found dragons and mermaids and have to tell you all about the experience in 2.3 seconds or less so you see them before they vanish in thin air. I like words that are carefully chosen like a mother who measures cough syrup for her child in order to get the correct dose thus ensuring no harm. I like playful words like tumble and words with double meanings. I like words that are said with a laugh oozing up out of the throat, desperate words that are said while waiting for hot sex, and the words you whisper to a baby as their heads slump onto your chest their eyes fuzzy with Mr Sandman’s visit and almost nearly closed.

I LOVE WORDS!

So what is a woman to do when she is married to a man who doesn’t? Can she be happy without an “I love you too, honey” coming back at her? Can she feel understood and cherished when the words she needs to hear do not come out of his mouth? I’ve lived without them for so long why do I desire them now? Is this what a “maybe divorce” does to you? It makes you word crazy?

I realize to many this isn’t a problem at all. There are much more serious things in the world. B doesn’t beat me. He goes to work everyday. He doesn’t abuse me. He is great in bed…isn’t that enough? I mean…. REALLY…ISN’T THAT GOOD ENOUGH?

How many times I have heard my girlfriends tell me they wished they had a husband like mine….so kind and sweet….and he even does housework!

Why can’t that be enough?

I know many women whose lovers have said all the right words and meant none of them. Better to have no words than lies? Better to endure omissions rather than half-truths? I have no clue… but I do know that often B doesn’t respond with reassuring words and after these past two years of hell I find I want them. I might even need them.

All I know is that without words life is dull…like living in a black and white movie. It’s like eating salad everyday for dinner and skipping the dessert. Life without meaningful words looks like a bare bulb dangling in a stark white room. Its like a warm beer when it is 103 degrees outside and feels like that pit you get in your stomach when a cop pulls you over for speeding.

I want words. I want endearments, I want to know what you are feeling. I am tired of missed opportunities or the absence of words that leave me confused and hanging. Because without the proper words it feels as if storm clouds have entered my head and the disappointment is whipping up the winds that blow through my mind and turning what could have been a gentle spring shower into a raging hurricane. So button your coat and sink even further into it because a storm is coming. And I think it is me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leaving On A Jet Plane

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Today B left on a 5 day business trip. Now to most, this would sound mundane. Five days. Big deal. But for me that is exactly what it is…a big deal.

Almost two years ago B came home while the rest of us vacationed for an additional 10 days. A few days after I arrived home is when he said he was wanting a divorce. Fast forward marriage therapy, individual therapy, meditation, Marriage Encounter…you name it we tried it. It was a merry-go-round of great successes followed by some major failures.

This past January, after coming back from a business trip to China, once again B stated he wanted to separate. Then I went away and realized I did too. I was done with all this back and forth. Either you want to be together or you don’t. I wrote a five page note putting my feelings into words and the actions I wanted to take, out there, in plain site, for him to read…only now he didn’t want to separate. So we made a deal. No more talking about divorce for 6 months and things seem to be better.

Now three months later B is alone on another business trip and, frankly, it made me a little nervous. So as we were walking to the other night I decided to be honest and spill my guts. I said to him:

“You know you are leaving and the last two times you have gone away on your own you have come home wanting a divorce/separation. Obviously, I have some concerns because being alone seems to take you to a place of not wanting to be together. So I wanted you to know if you are even thinking this again don’t bother to come home because I don’t want to deal with it and your indecision. This is a scary thing for me to say this but I am dreading your time away because I don’t want to be hurt again.”

“It sounds like you are scared,” he says using a phrase that he has learned at the therapists office.

He keeps walking. I do too but immediately feel my stomach clench.

“Really! That is all you are going to say!” my brain almost exploding with these type of thoughts.

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And so I stopped walking.

“What is it? What’s wrong?” B says to me.

“Honey, this is the point where you are suppose to offer reassurance. I appreciate you recognizing my feelings but you need to go further. Just recognizing what I have said isn’t enough. Sometimes you have to react, reassure, or explore a little more. This is a pattern in our relationship. I express myself and you barely react to what I say. You could say more but you choose to withhold words that could be helpful, kind, or could bolster our relationship. You have gone away twice for periods of a week or more and both times have returned wanting to be single. I need honesty and reassurance from you that this isn’t going to happen again.”

B looks perplexed. He stares at me like I am a alien from Mars. But then he pulls me close and gives me a kiss.

“You don’t need to worry. I will be excited to come back to you.”

Okay, he’s not the best with words but it is a start.

This morning B left. When I went downstairs I found a note by my computer which read:

HONEY,

HAVE A GOOD WEEK AND EVERYTHING WILL BE FINE WHEN I RETURN. THANKS FOR GETTING THE KIDS AROUND WHILE I AM GONE. LOVE YOU, B

Maybe he is starting to “get it” after all.

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Preservation

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When I visited with my therapist this week I told her about an incident that happened while we were in New York. I wanted to explore it a little deeper because I knew that it was important and while I thought I knew why it needed to be tackled, I wasn’t sure that I had all the pieces I needed to fully understand why I did what I did.

On Sunday, our son West, was telling us we should sell a piece of property that we own, to which I replied:

“Honey, we can’t do anything until Dad and I know what is happening with this relationship and if we are even going to stay together.”

I think that is what is called starting to pound the nail in the coffin or maybe torching the bridge.

“So, why did you do it?” my therapist asked. “Why did you open the EXIT door and go right through it when you said that for six months you would not talk about divorce?”

“Because I felt like West was confused,” I answered. “Here we were so happy and yet we have been teetering on the edge of divorce. I didn’t want him to get the wrong idea.”

“First of all it isn’t West’s business and you didn’t owe him any explanations about where you are in your relationship. But I’m not sure that is all there is to it. Anything else come to mind?” she chuckled.

I stared back giving her my best evil eye. She laughed again. I squirmed.

“Okay, I guess I was feeling scared. Everything felt so wonderful and right this weekend. It felt too good to be true. I just couldn’t trust it and needed to put it back in the place I am used to…limbo.”

“So you went ahead and made sure it was too good to be true for everyone involved. You undermined your relationship which gave you a plan of escape. You abandoned the people you were with because you went through that EXIT door. Your plans and words gave the impression of wanting to escape. Why not have a plan to preserve your relationship instead?”

YIKES. WHY DON’T WE TAKE A LESS PAINFUL WAY THROUGH THIS PSYCHOLOGICAL CRAP …FLOGGING MIGHT BE A BETTER CHOICE.

“Think of it this way. There are many ways to preserve food. You can use a water bath, you can freeze-dry,  or dry it like jerky, or even pressure can it. Some things need to be preserved in just one way and some things can be preserved in many ways. But the object is the same: preserve what you have so you can enjoy it on another day. That is what you need to start doing with your marriage.  You can’t preserve your relationship if you are so busy running away through the EXIT door that you can’t stay in the kitchen to get the tasks done which will keep you and your relationship healthy.”

CRAP

“So, this week I want you to think about the things in your relationship with B that need to be preserved so they don’t go bad. Or think about those things that have been neglected and need to be revived. How do you go about preserving them so you have something tasty and good in the future? What work do you need to do on YOU that will allow your relationship to be preserved and ultimately flourish, instead of becoming moldy and rotten?” Are you going to leave the food out or are you going take care of it so it lasts a long time?”

As I headed home I stopped at the fruit stand and bought a lug of strawberries. On a lark I decided to make jam. So I cut,  smooshed, cooked, and added just enough sugar to make the syrupy fruit sweet. Everything in the kitchen was sticky to the touch as I lifted the jars out of the waterbath and as the jars started cooling on my counter I began to contemplate what my therapist was trying to convey. And then it happened… I began to hear the sound that all canners long to hear….the tinney POP of the lids as they seal in the freshness of what is put inside the jar. A POP that tells you that you did everything right and what is inside is preserved.

It was hearing those tiny little pops that made me realize that I wanted to put the best of what we had into our jars to keep what was inside fresh and free from contamination. After 30+ years of marriage, the good the bad and the ups and downs; I finally recognized that someday our cupboard will once again be bare and we will need what is preserved inside those jars to sustain us.

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Better Than A Shirt

Last Christmas, after a crack B made about all the shirts and ties he had received over the years for the holidays, I gave him a bathrobe instead. But after contemplating his “joke” I realized he was right. My present giving had gotten a little boring just like our marriage had been for several years. I decided right then and there that this year I would give him something he would never forget.

If you know B you also know that he has devoted the last several years to playing the bagpipes after a trip to Scotland got him hooked. His favorite band is The Red Hot Chili Pipers but unfortunately they only play on the East Coast when they tour away from their home base of Scotland. So what is a girl to do? She buys airline tickets to New York, calls son West to see if the folks can stay with him at his pad, and she buys tickets to see the band at B.B. King’s Bar and Grill. That is where we were last night and the blokey bagpipers were amazing! Watching B watching them was the best gift I could have given myself. The joy on his face and the challenge that stirred his soul brought tears to my eyes. It was in short…one of the best nights ever!!!

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We arrived in New York at 11:30 p.m. Friday. West was here to pick us up. It was great to see our son and also see how well he is doing for himself. The view of Manhattan from his condo is amazing and his home is sporty and chic like a young man’s pad should be. But hell, we are only here for 60 hours so we had to get the show on the road. So off to bed we went only to be greeted by the sun a few hours later.

The next morning we went to the City Diner. The food is amazing and my stuffed french toast was incredible.

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We visited Central Park where we embarrassed West by riding the carousel like a couple of kids. We stopped and talked to Big Bird, who was with Elmo, and posed for pictures with the two icons, while West tried his damnedest to disappear behind a tree. It’s nice to know we can still embarrass our children no matter what their age!

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We also visited the Plaza Hotel, went into the New World Trade Center, took the subway, gave the Trump Tower the finger, went to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, saw Times Square and Broadway, had an amazing pub experience at The Dead Rabbit (voted one of the world’s best bars), ate New York pizza & cheesecake, while drinking just a wee too much.

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So here it is early morning Monday and we are packing to return home to our “real” lives. We enjoyed each others company immensely, had great sex,  and got to see the things we enjoy most about the other. Divorce felt about as close to us as the sun as we spent our anniversary just being happy with the way things are…undefined.

In short, it was a weekend we will never forget, and if I do say so myself…it was much better than a shirt!!!!

Conflict

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When I was younger I enjoyed conflict. It meant that I was letting things be known and getting things done. These days I just want peace. Gone are the days of spending two hours trying to convince B that I am “right.” Gone is the time spent crafting a great argument. I would much rather spend time meditating and sitting quietly than fighting.

Yet, there is something to be said about the positive effects of conflict. During conflict we are often forced to grow, to dig deep within ourselves to find the answers that are needed, and do a bit more in an effort to resolve the issues that are at the root of the problem. Oftentimes, conflict brings us some much needed insight about ourselves and our loved ones that can then be used to find solutions that best fit our mutual needs. Usually conflict forces us to do a bit more thinking, to take action, and encourages us to analyze patterns that are dug up when our nest is disturbed.

Conflict is hard, especially when we as a species, tend to want to chase rainbows and live our lives surrounded by sunny skies. Many of us avoid conflict like the plague. But conflict if managed with mutual respect and sharply attuned listening skills can unearth gems that can change our lives or our thought patterns. So while I am not encouraging anyone to go out and start a fight with their loved one; I am saying that the next time you are in conflict with your loved one try to look for the treasures that conflict can bring. You may find exactly what your relationship needs in order to take that next step by digging deep and listening carefully and in doing so; you might just find the peace that you have been searching for.

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