Tag Archives: relationships

Solitary Contentment

Do I enjoy alone time? Absolutely! I always have. I can remember as a young child, sitting in my room, listening to albums & playing paper dolls for hours on end. On some days, the only reason I left my room was to eat. Truth be told, If I had been blessed with a real working kitchen in my room (at least with a microwave, fridge, and pantry), my mom and dad probably would’ve entirely forgotten me!

While mom was busy taking care of my dad, I was busy amusing myself. Not that she didn’t do her part of the raising, but the ‘entertaining’ part was up to me, especially after dad’s kidneys failed.

As only children, most of us learn at a young age how to self-entertain, self-console, maybe even become self-aware, and have a strong sense of self-love. Maybe that’s why we (as a species;) come across as so self-absorbed. In reality, most onlies that I know are actually so self-aware that we can become rather lost in our own thoughts and appear to not care what others are feeling or thinking at all. BUT also in reality, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Most of us truly want to understand others, but we’re too afraid of putting ourselves out there, which is really what it takes to form healthy relationships.

As onlies, we don’t always know how to relate to others or how to reach out and ask others for help. When we feel as though our worlds are crumbling, many of us turn inward, to the only person we can fully rely upon; ourselves. That’s not to say that people with siblings aren’t the same way at times, but I would say that onlies have nailed the whole solitary confinement thing….to a fault.

I remember when my boyfriend (also an only) and I started dating. We fervently read every article and blog we could find on ‘only’ couples… ‘only’ to find discouragement and disappointment. Most opinions and stories erred on the side of either ‘don’t do it’ or ‘it never works out’. After almost two years together, I think we would both agree that this is not true. Like any other relationship between any two people, effort has to be made, people cannot take one another for granted, and compromise and full communication should be practiced daily.

In fact, I would say that the most difficult factor in an only dating an only is that we are so fiercely wired to turn inward when we don’t know how to react to an emotion that we choose instead to bottle up the hurt. While my boyfriend and I rarely fight, I can honestly say that any and all of the disagreements we’ve had have resulted from one thing; a lack of communication.

Lesson… in progress…

Still, communication takes lots and lots of effort from both people. Leaning on each other when we’re accustomed to sucking it up solo is the first step. While that feels a bit awkward and out of our neat little boxes, it’s not nearly as uncomfortable as I had expected. I think this is monumental and essential for all couples, but especially for relationships involving two onlies.

While one only can understand another only better than anyone, we also tend to have the same passive aggressive tendencies, and let things go on far longer than we should. It’s far easier and less confrontational to shove those small disagreements under a rug than to sweep them out into the open and work through the kinks. Unfortunately, as we all know, if you gather enough small things together they collectively become a very huge thing. That huge conflict under the rug becomes a major obstacle over which neither of us can avoid tripping.  And because we really ARE two separate people, with two separate pasts and two separate loads of dirty laundry baggage, we’re not always going to completely understand. And that’s okay.

We all come at these relationships with our own muddled perceptions, and whether we’re onlies or otherwise, it takes oodles of communication, effort, and determination to build a strong healthy relationship. But above and beyond everything else that takes effort in this world, love is worth every last bit of blood, sweat, and tears. After all, we may have come into this world alone, but that doesn’t mean we’re supposed to live a lonely life. Like my good friend Michelle always says (and I couldn’t agree more), there really is a ‘lid for every pot’.

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As for me…

This month, it will be four years that I’ve been the only adult in my home. That’s the longest I’ve ever been ‘head of household’. Ever. Right now, as I’m interviewing for jobs, there is on consistent theme going on in my conversations. I am Robin. I am the sidekick. I am not Batman. I may be at home, but I don’t want to be full-time, all the time, day-in and day-out Batman. I just don’t have it in me to be the happy boss lady. My mom was the boss. I was the minion. And maybe I wasn’t okay with that until she passed away, until I HAD to be Batman and was forced out of my sidekick flip-flops and into my superhero boots. Still, that has been my epiphany. Some people are born leaders, and admittedly, I always thought I was one of those. Maybe in a way, I still think I am – on an emotional intelligence level but NOT on a business level. 

I am the girl who will give everything away if it’s up to her, and no one is telling her to do otherwise. I am the girl who understands people’s hardships a little too well, and will cave in to their sob stories. And guess what? I don’t want to change a thing. I could’ve become hardened by now. By the grace of God, I haven’t. Have I grown wiser? Yes. At least I hope so. Have I stopped caring so much what others think? Yes. That sort of ended with the passing of my mom. So what’s a girl with sidekick talent and no live-in superhero to do? 

Wait for it.

That’s all. Don’t dive in. Don’t rush things. Just wait until his time is right. Can I get an Amen?!

After two divorces, the absolute LAST thing I want in my life is a husband who is NOT ready to be married, or be committed, or say ‘forever’. Robin is Batman’s sidekick because he respects his superhero and his superhero is respectable and committed as well. Robin didn’t just start following Batman around one day in hope’s that maybe…just maybe he would be accepted. There’s is a mutual friendship, and a mutual commitment. That’s how it should be. That’s how a marriage should be as well.

I don’t know, but I’m pretty certain that Robin could handle his household just fine without Batman. He could pay bills, do laundry, handle the kids’ fighting, keep the yard tidy, shop for the groceries, get the mail – he could do all of that perfectly fine without Batman. Batman could do all of that without Robin. 

But no man (or woman) was created to be ‘a rock’ as Simon and Garfunkel would say. We were made for each other, in our own time, when we’re both ready. Because while both Batman and Robin are perfectly fine alone, together they save the world.

We will also save the world, in our own little way. Until then, we have daydreams and roadtrips. We have weekends and long talks. We have time to savor. Time together, until we have all the time we are given  and we are ready to fly as one. 

Wandering Minds Want to Grow

Stress. It has its appeal. We get all worked up over work, over disgruntled employees, dissatisfied customers, the overflowing inbox, flaky technology, unpaid bills, and all the what-ifs that come with day-to-day possibilities. Stress is always there. Sometimes we’re just too darn busy to recognize its grasp. Until one day we aren’t too busy. That’s when stress tries to crawl in bed with us, wrap us up in its misery, and suffocate us with our own dark thoughts. That’s when we notice it, when it should be gone, because we thought we weeded it out of our overcrowded gardens.

That’s how it begins. We recognize what we look like, all draped in stress, and start undressing. First we shed ourselves of the things we believe are slowly killing us. Maybe we end a relationship, or quit a stressful job. Maybe we begin taking better care of ourselves, get ourselves on the healing track. We start feeling better, losing the weight of burden & worry. Life starts looking better. We start looking better. We become leaner, more confident versions of ourselves. We bring on peace, and filter out stress until we almost don’t recognize ourselves. Life is good. We feel amazing.

For a while, we forget that we were ever stressed – maybe for a day, or a week. We are grateful to ourselves for taking action, for leaving that stress in a pile in the corner of our minds. But it gets too quiet. And like parents of a toddler, we begin to question the silence. What trouble is lurking in there? It’s too quiet! We don’t voluntarily go there, but the second our guards go down, our minds wander off into that forbidden corner.

Staying positive, keeping stress at bay, and keeping up our sunny dispositions…these are not easy tasks. Everything in life will not always be sunshine and roses ALL the time, even without so much stress. Like anything else wonderful in our ives – friendships, marriage, relationships – it takes diligence and determination, but maybe even more importantly, it takes having a plan. Sometimes staying positive even takes the support of friends and loved ones. Maybe especially for those of us who think we can do it all by ourselves. That’s okay. That’s more than okay. That’s called being human.

So go ahead. Undress the stress. Find that peace beneath. Then….fight like crazy to keep it. Peace looks beautiful on you.

Back to Strife

Seven hours of staring at the long and not-so-winding road. Seven hours of listening to the same four CDs, the same sibling arguments, the same milling around for more snacks of blueberries & beef jerky. This was the same seven hours that reminded me of the old game ‘seven minutes in heaven’ that we all remember from our little middle school co-ed parties. The nerves, the anticipation, the  imagination getting the best of me, all of that rolled into seven LONG hours of road trip left before we were all back to these dark clouds that have become our life.

It was only this time last year that I was counting my blessings. I couldn’t believe how kind life had been since mom’s passing, how easy everything had seemed. I was entering into a new relationship with the man of my dreams, the one I had ‘ordered’ from the universe itself. I had just spent the weekend becoming Reiki 1 certified, and work was going splendidly down the path of growth and prosperity. I had an assistant who was organized, and quite the initiative taker, and she would be my first assistant ever. I was blessed to have her running the show while I was running the business. I was lucky. Blessed. And I loved every minute of it, all the while feeling that tinge of ‘it can’t last’ that always seems to swoop in and sabotage things. I didn’t order THAT! Or did I?

Fast forward to now. I am still blessed, and still lucky to have the man of my dreams at my side through thick and thin. I am still blessed, and still lucky to have two very healthy boys who I love with everything I am. I am still blessed, and still lucky to have an assistant who knows the company inside and out and gives as much as she can of herself to make things run when I am away. But I am struggling with family issues, past mistakes, poor choices, and silly decisions made during less confident, and less courageous periods of my life. It just goes to show that we can only sweep the junk in our lives under the rug for so long until it starts seeping out of the edges, forming unmercifully into blinding tears at the most inopportune moments of our lives. Generally, it all happens at once too, just like a great big crap-storm from which we are never truly prepared to take cover.

So now that we’re home, and swimming in this flood of muck created by the jaws of strife, it’s almost reassuring to know that if we’re going through THIS NOW, we will be going through much MUCH better stuff later, because that’s how life rolls. And maybe next time that ‘it can’t last’ voice switches on, I will switch it right back off into the great big crap-storm of not-my-problemville where it belongs.  Be lucky. Feel blessed. I do. Just because I’m here to write this.

Namaste.

 

Bitter Beginnings

When you know that you’re supposed to be with someone; that there is no one else in the world so perfect for you. When you know that that someone makes you happier than you knew possible. When you sleep more peacefully with that someone than you do alone, because you feel safe, secure, and protected for once. That’s when it’s easy to become frustrated with circumstances, but that’s also when you know, that as long as it takes, and as long as you need to wait, you absolutely will.

As a single mom of two wonderful boys, I find myself frustrated almost every Friday night. My boyfriend and I had 6 months of every other weekend spent together, bonding, getting to know each other, exploring cities and cultures together. But in light of current circumstances, i.e. one of the dads cannot be trusted to keep my child, we have had to put our ‘alone together’ time on hold. There was no question about that. His safety/ happiness is first.

Where does that leave us – two star-crossed lovers, crazy about each other, and always wanting more? Well, it leaves us in the hands of Faith. Like everything else leading up to ‘us’, this time just makes us appreciate one another more; makes us enjoy time alone together exponentially more, and gives us time to fantasize and daydream about how we want our lives to be…until that fantasy becomes a reality.

Love isn’t ever perfect. There are always obstacles, challenges, and battles.  But when you find you’re one, the peace sets in, and God whispers gently ‘I got this’. The amazing thing is that he truly does.  As for ‘mine and me’, I don’t ever question that. God has been in this relationship the entire time. There has never been just HE and I, and that is how I KNOW this is forever.

Why you should never ‘white flag’ the ‘red flags’ in dating

If you are constantly having to explain yourself- your whereabouts, who you’re texting, who you’re talking to, looking at, eating with, meeting with, talking about, and who may or may not have your attention at the moment – you need to leave.

If you feel yourself tense up at the thought of having to tell your significant other that you will be late, need to work longer than expected, or had a crisis come up with family that needs your attention – you need to leave. You are not free.

If you find yourself constantly defending his actions with friends or loved ones, because he has more stories than life – you need to leave. He only deceives.

If you have a nagging voice inside your head that constantly tells you this is ‘not the one’ no matter how much he tells you he ‘is the one’. Listen to it. The voice is smarter than you because it has no emotion. You need to leave. Let him be. He will be just fine without you. After all, he was fine before you, and no matter how much you’ve opened his eyes and heart, they will likely close back up for a while after you go. But now that he can remember how it feels to be in love, he will likely find it again with someone better fitted for him. You will both be better off, for the lessons learned in heartbreak.

Love does not have to be difficult. If it feels more like war, it’s not love. What you actually have is the battle of the egos between two people that are highly attracted to one another, but have no tenderness because there is no room for spirit when so much ego is involved. Sure, couples can work through this, but in truth, they shouldn’t have to – especially during the ‘dating’ phase. My mom always said that if you need a counselor when you’re just dating, you should just – leave. Life is much too short to spend it fighting, defending yourself, defending him, picking up his broken pieces, rationalizing his actions, or constantly trying to make him happy by making yourself more miserable.

We all deserve more.

It’s easy enough to believe otherwise. I know this from experience. After two failed marriages, my thoughts were that it must be my fault. It didn’t matter that both of them had addictions that interfered and broke down the infrastructure of us. I felt like the only common factor was me.

It wasn’t until I embraced the idea that I really do have so much love to give, and that someone out there will receive it without repercussions, that I discovered the him that gives me no reason to leave. I had to love myself and feel that I deserve more than pain and doubt, that in fact what I deserve is to receive what I offer – trust, honesty, belief, support, and unquestioning, unending love.

If your relationship does not lift you up, it’s dragging you down. Raise your flag and surrender to yourself, not because you’re ‘too weak’ to withstand the turmoil, but because you’re too smart to believe it’s your destiny.Image

Anticipation Proclamation

It’s been 26 years since the passing of my dad from his terrible suffering here on Earth, to the warm comforting arms of Heaven. It’s been 25 dreaded Father’s Days for me, his only child. Yet, for the first time since his passing, I am actually looking forward to this Father’s Day, and I had forgotten what it was like to anticipate, even become giddy at the thought of celebrating the life of a father. I am meeting the parents of my boyfriend for the first time this Sunday, and I could not be more honored. As an only himself, Doug’s relationship with his parents is incredibly strong. How could I not love these parents that created and raised such an amazing son?

As my mind has played around with this notion for the past week, I’ve experienced everything from shyness and hesitation to excitement and anticipation. Meanwhile, Doug has assured me that they will absolutely ‘love me’ every step of the way. That’s how he rolls, after all. As I step back, four days out, I’ve come to realize some things. Fatherhood is every bit as important as motherhood. Being raised (after the age of 11) by a single mom, and being one myself, I tend to take for granted the roles that fathers play in the lives of their children. Whereas moms are typically the ‘easy’, father’s take on the more difficult role as the ‘heavy’. I’ve seen this with my own 13 year old’s father, but it’s only now that I’m truly understanding the difficulty in assuming that role.

No matter how much you love your child, as a father, you are expected to always be the parent, the disciplinarian, the ruler. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen fathers that would sooner shoot themselves in the foot than take on that role. But in the case of Doug, that simply was not the case. When it was time for the business of parenting, the tough-love to come into play, Jim was the man for the job just as my dad had been. That sort of ‘no-nonsense’ parenting has fallen off the wayside with many in my generation. Yet I know, for a fact, that it’s effective. Tough love can mean the difference between raising a self-sustaining adult and an adult who still possesses entitlement issues, expecting everyone and anyone to come to their rescue. I’m not saying that mother’s cannot also demonstrate this style of parenting, of course. My mom, due to circumstances, had no choice but to parent this way. But by and large, for most two-parent families, this is the norm, and fathers tend to get sadly overlooked.

So this Father’s Day, if you have a dad, give him a big hug and say ‘thank you’. I’ve had a stepfather for the past 16 years, and he took that role on in the most loving and selfless way, even though I was already an adult when he officially stepped in. Even after my mom’s passing, he continues to succeed in his role, and I couldn’t be more grateful. Dads are strong, protective, and wise. Let’s give them their due. Without them, we would be in a much darker place.

Lucky Charms

Anyone who has ever experienced the joy of being in a new relationship with an old friend can attest to the butterflies that take up residency in the pit of the stomach; the nerves and anticipation at joining two worlds together; and the crazy infatuation that, if given the right nourishment, can blossom into the deepest and most transcendent of loves. Yet there are so many logistics that play into this major shift in lifestyle that the sheer ‘getting together’ can seem more like a chess game than the organic progression of spirit that falling in love should be. Somehow, if it’s right, the headaches that should logically play into planning seem to dissipate, and the whole world opens itself up to possibility where there once were only tightly locked chamber doors.

This is my life right now, and I simply could not feel more blessed. The only problem lies in the cluttered messes that have resurrected in the lives of people around me. When you’re in the state of unending bliss, it isn’t always easy to come up with solutions for people that aren’t in the same neighborhood. I find myself wanting to wave the magic wand my hand seems to have latched onto, and POOF there lives right into the same worry-free lightness in which I now live. My heart is exploding with a love that is both unconquerable impenetrable. I want to bless everyone and everything around me. While I’ve been in love before, it’s never felt like this. And I know that no two loves feel the same, but I’ve never been in love without worry, without doubt, and without some ominous gut-feeling that something unknown is lurking in the shadows threatening its very existence. Yet now, without that worry, I find myself strong enough to try and save the world from drama, natural disasters, scary scorpions hiding in the dark shadows of my best friend’s bathroom…whatever! But I am helpless.

I absolutely know that I would not be where I am without Faith, but I want that same Faith to quickly rush in and save everyone around me before they give up on God. It’s frustrating to look around and wonder (very quietly) what more can go wrong in peoples’ lives. Can’t I just swoop in with a bowl of lucky charms, four leaf clovers, and rainbows, and promise them that every obstacle is just a stepping stone toward the direction they are meant to travel? Sometimes I do participate in talks with God and actually say, ‘Can’t you just give her an inch? You gave me a mile!’. What I’ve learned is exactly that. I asked for an inch and have been given a mile, or a thousand miles really. My only prayer at this point is gratitude for what I’ve been given, and a large pleading cry for help for those around me that are facing some of their darkest hours.

All I know for sure is that those darkest hours turn into the brightest sunrises. They always do in time. It’s just the waiting that makes us edgy, cranky, hopeless, and (let’s face it) human! God’s time is always right on time, sometimes we just have to wait for it.

Orbiting Onlies

What happens when two onlies date? Studies show that it’s not a good idea. How could two ‘onlies’ be compatible, afterall, when we’re so self-absorbed and self-reliant? How could two people raised in separate families where they didn’t have to compete for attention, didn’t have to share their toys with anyone, didn’t have to share their rooms or beds with anyone learn to get along with each other? Sounds logical enough, but only if you also subscribe to the idea that only children will never marry, will never actively participate in a successful relationship with anyone. Period.

In my experience, other only children truly ‘get’ me in a way that others do not. I’m a sharer to a fault, and maybe  because I’m told by the world that I’m not supposed to be. I have an incredible relationship with a man that is also an only, and is exactly the same way. He is thoughtful beyond anyone I’ve ever known. My best friend is also an only. She has become like a ‘soul sister’ to me in our sixteen year friendship. There is  nothing she can say or do that will change that. We’ve been through our hard times only to learn that nothing can penetrate our bond.  Over the years, I have built relationships with other onlies who I have also had the pleasure of getting to know, and truthfully, I’ve never felt quite as accepted as I have with other only children.

My boyfriend and I have known each other for 20 years, but only have grown to truly know each other for the past two. We spent that time in other relationships, while at the same time building our own friendship based on an understanding that we had this one huge thing in common. As onlies, we have discussed the possibility of starting an ‘only’ support group because we have felt misunderstood at times, and everyone needs a place of refuge. When people have siblings, they have someone that shares memories of their childhood from a perspective very different from that of our parents, whereas as onlies we ‘only’ have our parents with which to share those stories.

My mom was my best friend for many years before her passing last year. She and my stepdad were my world outside of my two sons. I took solace in them when the world seemed to sit squarely on my shoulders. I always knew they had my back, and I could relate to them as well as confide. Now, as an ‘orphan’ I have felt lost at times. No one on the planet remembers my whole life anymore, which makes me feel a little more lonely than I did. So having other onlies that I’m already close to makes the loneliness a little less pronounced, because of one beautiful word: Acceptance.

When I become weird, which I often do, about things like numbers, dates, emotional triggers, I don’t worry about whether or not I will be patronized or that my concerns will be belittled. In reality, I have a huge family of other onlies that share in my struggles and relate to my challenges. I have a built-in support group quite similar to what siblings have. All that I have to do is keep the lines of communication open enough to receive that support. And really, isn’t that all any of us needs to do?

This world can feel lonely, whether we’re onlies or not. All it truly takes is a little bit of trust and sharing to find that none of us are lonely after all.

‘The only time it’s a good idea to repeat pattern is when we’re trying to learn a new concept. And I repeat. The only time it’s a good idea to repeat a pattern is when we’re trying to learn a new concept.’ -me

We all know this, because most of us have lived it in at least one area of our lives. We’ve heard that ‘the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over, but expecting different results’. We’ve heard it more times than we should have to hear it, and that in and of itself is ironic. Obviously, if we need to keep hearing it, there must be an underlying white elephant wearing rose-colored glasses within these four walls that can’t talk because there are no flies on the wall. Cliches are like patterns, because patterns become so routine that they disappear, and this is bad. Very bad. If we can no longer see them, we are doomed to continue such patterns…of patterns.

How many times have you gone to the grocery store hungry? You know better. You’re going to overspend. This is a universal truth, maybe even a universal pattern. Still, if you’re not mindfully avoiding that pattern, it’s bound to happen again. I’m hungry. I have no food at home. I should replenish food at home. I shall go buy food. I want everything I see. I’m hungry. Notice the whole ending-up-where-we-began thing that just happened there? It happens in every aspect of life.

This ‘repetition rule’ is especially true in relationships. For instance, a woman who has been abused as a child will either be the first person to walk out of an abusive relationship (because she recognizes the pattern and refuses to repeat it), or she will actually seek out abusive partners because she believes she can change her pattern or because she has missed the pattern altogether. Men are just as likely to repeat patterns. If a man has grown up with an enabling mom, he tends to seek out an enabler in his relationships. Similarly, if a man has been raised with a more dominant mother, he will seek out a dominate woman. He understands his roles in either of these situations. If he chooses to live within his comfort zone, he also chooses to repeat his patterns.That’s really not so much comfortable as it is ignorant.

These examples are cliche. They are the subject of countless talk shows, soap operas, sitcoms, Hollywood movies, and reality TV shows. They show up within our families, within our own lives, within the lives of our children, friends, neighbors, pastors – really anyone and everyone. Whether or not we choose to repeat patterns depends primarily on one thing; our willingness to change – change our thinking, change our self-images, and change our roles in relationships. Like all concepts, until someone recognizes the pattern, ‘gets it’, and understands that they are only self-destructing by repeating such patterns, nothing will change.

Try eating before you go grocery shopping. Your spending will decrease. If you’ve survived a string of failed relationships, try dating someone completely different. Your appetite for filling your heart up with wrongs will dissipate. What will replace the ‘wrongs’ may surprise you, because you’ve never before experienced a winning relationship. The trick is to make a change. As strange and uncomfortable as that may seem, it’s certainly more rewarding than remaining where you were – disappointed, abandoned, and hopeless. Change is never easy, but for the sake of sanity, it’s worth trying. And hey, at worst, you will have at least learned a new concept in trying something new.

So step out of the box. Look back inside of your own patterns. If you thought you were happy in there, but ended up realizing you were really just stuck inside of your own patterns, constantly complaining about playing the same unhappy roles, make a change. Any change will be for the better. Promise.