Day 73: For the Love of Men

I’m taking a short break from personal development stuff to talk about something that is really important to me.

An incident happened a couple of days age that made me really sad and is a version of events that I have witnessed over and over in my life.

In my line of work I encounter people in fairly stressful situations, so I get that people are under pressure and not acting their best. However, something almost always happens when I encounter married couples and I think it justifies a closer look.

Usually a man is standing quietly in the corner and a woman is carrying on about the patient and then makes some snide remark about their husband’s inadequacy. Sometimes there is a comment from the man about how much the woman spends or whatever, but the vast majority is geared towards punishing the man’s character. Often times there is not even a reason for it, it is simply an act of lashing out that has NOTHING to do with the current predicament. And I get it…. read yesterday’s post, I am not immune to hurting the person I love. When there is no awareness though, there is no ability or want to change and that’s when we get into trouble.

The last encounter I had I was dealing with a patient that the husband brought in at the wife’s request, as she was out of town. I was talking to her on speaker phone, she knew she was on speaker, and she told me to make sure I was very, very clear on the instructions so that her husband didn’t fuck it up. That is a direct quote. We got off the phone and he made a comment about how I’d better write it down because the horse meant more than he did and if he messed it up he would be in divorce court. I looked him dead in the eye and told him he did a great job with the horse, he caught this early and due to that, saved the horse’s life and that I trusted him to make the judgement calls about what the animal needed. I am not even kidding, he teared up and then told me how his wife cared more about her Mercedes and her animals than she did about him.

People don’t just say this without prompting, without reason. Especially men… who are mostly taught (especially his generation) to keep their feelings under wraps.

One of my favorite men on this earth, I call him my fake dad, would do ANYTHING for me. He would also do, and does, anything for his wife. When I hear her talk about him there is never any kindness there. There is no tenderness or affection when they are together and I recently found out they are sleeping in separate bedrooms. When I talk to him all he talks about is how shitty he is and how he can’t do anything right. It breaks my fucking heart. She comes at him from a pseudo-empowered “strong” woman stance. I don’t think there is anything strong about someone beating another down in order to stand on their back to feel taller. Man, woman or anything in between. Strong women know when to lead, when to follow, how to show affection and appreciation and how to be in a partnership. There is no relationship as strong as one that is built on mutual respect and effort.

There is a huge focus on empowering woman and equality and don’t get me wrong, those are all important things. There is a focus on sexual abuse and the #metoo movement, and I get that, most of the women I know, myself included, have had some (or many) harrowing sexual encounters that scared them or worse. I am not against these things at all.

I don’t think the solution to those issues however, rests with assassination of the male character.

I am very much for empowering men, not shaming them for being who they are. I feel like there is a lot of confusion about what it means to be masculine. Times are changing and shifts are being made but so often I see men that have totally squashed their own power or they are using it in toxic ways. This makes me incredibly sad. I love men. I love their power, their strength, I see their capacity beyond how they have been boxed in by the women in their lives. I see a huge capacity for love, a burning ambition and a savagery that, when channeled properly, can be intensely pleasurable. And everyday I see this completely smashed down. I cannot even tell you how many married men I hear talking about how their marriage makes them feel incredibly small, unappreciated, taken advantage of, not loved how they need to be loved, not supported in the way that they need, used as a pack horse to take care of everything without having any help or true partnership. That the rope holding their overflowing bucket feels like it’s about to break.

I know there are dynamics in a marriage that I can’t understand. I have never been married. When other women hear these things they respond with “there are always two sides, ask the woman and I am sure you’ll get a much different story.” And maybe I would. But the truth is, this is something that I have seen over and over and over again and heard hundreds of times. I watched it happen with my own father. The sad part is these men love their women. A lot. They wouldn’t dream of leaving, they often accept the punishment and find the good in the anything they can to justify staying. Maybe it is fear of the unknown that keeps them there or the fact that reassembling a life is difficult to do. Or maybe they have just forgotten their own power at the hands of selfish takers in their lives and need a reminder of who they really are.

Men are amazing. They are special and powerful in ways that women aren’t, which isn’t just okay, it’s really wonderful. I don’t want to be like a man. I want a man to compliment my strengths and pick up where I am naturally weaker. I will never understand beating men down. We aren’t all supposed to be the same. We are supposed to live together in harmony each one pushing or pulling like a well oiled machine. A machine that only functions optimally when both parties honor and support one another and empower the other to be the best version of themselves that they can be. Men should be cherished, more than we are doing now. Women need to step up. We want better men, we have to help create them, to support them to be better, to be better ourselves so that they know how we need to be treated. We need to allow them to lead when they need to lead and we need to support them in their ambitions, we need to trust that they know what is best for them. Men don’t need a strong woman to come in and tame them or tell them how to live, or beat their character down so much that they forget what it is to be confident and strong and caring and gentle all at the same time. We need to do better for all of the men in the world. And by doing this will elevate humanity for generations that follow. I for one feel like having a man’s love, any person’s love really, is a really special thing. Love is a choice and should be tended to, not taken for granted.

I’m sure I have pissed off some woman who is reading this. And yes, replace the word man with person and it applies to everyone in life. Treat everyone better and our world will be better but for the sake of this post…

Love your man, ladies. Tell him how much you appreciate and respect him. SHOW him how much you care and let him flourish. Build him up instead of tearing him down. I promise you, your life will be infinitely better for it. ❤ ❤

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Day 72: Self Awareness

Yesterday I wrote about holding space and I forgot to talk about the most important part, holding space for yourself.

There is great beauty in having someone in your life to do this for you. It is incredibly helpful. But the ability to hold space for yourself, to let your thoughts and emotions come without judging them, to accept that they are there and maybe they aren’t as nice as you’d like, is an act of self care that far outweighs any of the spa days and massages. It is truly an act of self compassion. When you sit with yourself, there are no barriers, no attempts to shield another person from the darkness or the light, it’s just you and in that way you can dig much deeper into yourself and your journey than you can with another person. This is not to say that personal growth should always be undertaken alone. We NEED other people to help us stay the course, to inspire us to keep going when the going gets tough, to cheer us on and call us out when we need it. Being able to do this for yourself….it’s not easy, but is one of the most rewarding things that a person can do.

When I started this blog I made a promise to myself that I would stay honest and authentic. So I’m going to dig into some dark stuff here. Maybe it will help someone, maybe it will help me to process.

I reached out to Mr. X this week. I don’t know how I feel about this actually. There is a small part of me that feels like I am failing womanhood by doing so, a much larger part of me just wants to hear some kindness and support from someone I love.

I am struggling really really hard to get through this situation with him. It’s all self induced really. The darker parts of me want him to know how much he has hurt me. The other part wants to shut completely off so no one can see that pain. There are parts of me that know some of the things he did and said weren’t really okay to me, but I let them go because I am really good empathizing with other people and accepting less than ideal behavior for fear of losing the relationship. When I try to talk stuff through with friends, even me just telling them I am going through a breakup of sorts (without all of the details), the automatic, immediate reaction from them is to tell me I need to cut off all contact. I need to go out and get wasted and numb the pain and move on with some other guy. They want to immediately demonize him and I don’t. Then, my friends start telling me things like I sound like a woman who is in love with an abuser. Some of the shit they come up with is absolutely ludicrous. I realize it is them dealing with their own pain and issues, so I don’t talk to them anymore about this. I am mostly alone processing. And this is where holding space and self awareness comes in.

The reasons I reached out aren’t totally conducive to my own self love but have helped me flush out some patterns that I realize now are from my childhood. One of the reasons I wanted to talk to him is because I love him, and I really miss him and I want a hug so god damn bad and to hear what is going on in his world. I know that those wants are lifting a scab that needs more time to heal, so maybe isn’t completely in our best interest. One of the other reasons is because there is a part of me that wants to string him up and use him as a punching bag, to dredge up all the shit he said that hurt me and launch into a verbal lashing that would make a sailor blush.

When this first came up there were so many emotions that came with it – righteousness, anger, pain, guilt, shame. I felt simultaneously that it was my place to want this and he should just take it, as well as feeling like a completely rubbish human being for even allowing that thought to cross my mind with reference to someone that I love. I have been judging that thought hard. I know where it comes from. I lived this experience my entire life. Every time anything was done to my mother to “hurt” her, even if it was a simple expression of self, she would lash out. I’m talking screaming and crying and trying to hit things. Feeling this, knowing this is in me and that I allowed it into a space where there once was so much love really weighed heavily on my heart. And then I realized, we haven’t talked yet. This is not the action that I have to choose. It is one option, but not the one I will feel the best about, and not one that supports me in being a better version of myself. So I stopped judging it, accepted it was there and allowed it to just be.

To set aside that anger almost feels like giving in. It feels like giving up on fighting for a relationship that I cherish so deeply. And this is where the internal battle ensues. I don’t know if it is this way for most people, but for me it is really intense. I have a massive amount of resistance to the thought of just letting go and accepting what has happened. Even though I know it will make me … and him feel better. And letting go would be an ultimate act of love, for both of us, but I’m just not there yet, and that’s okay too.

I was never one of those little girls that had BIG dreams. I never dreamed of being a vet actually. It was something that I thought would come naturally so I did it. I never dreamed of a wedding and kids or a big fancy house. My whole life, from as far back as I could remember, I have wanted one thing. One thing that lit me up, ignited my heart and kept me going in pursuit. I wanted to find an out of this world love connection with a man. That’s all. I have never settled for less and thus have been single pretty much my entire life. To find the feeling that I wanted in this amazing and beautiful human being who makes me heart light up, who induces butterflies in my chest, whose touch sends goosebumps down my body… and then to “lose” it…. feels …. empty and hollow and dreamless. I don’t know how else to describe it. When you have put all of your energy into searching for one thing and it doesn’t show up like you thought it would and you can’t actually access all of it, it’s a huge bitter pill to swallow.

So I find myself sifting through the ashes, wandering in the darkness, playing with all of the pieces and seeing what fits and what doesn’t and it is there I realize that my heart opened with him, so it is capable of opening, but that I need a lot. I need a lot of love. Not many people can provide that. And to expect that one person will be enough for all of that is too much for anyone to bear. It all comes back to me. Me being able to fill myself with love. Me seeing me for what I am and accepting it, embracing it and figuring out how to live in this world where I don’t feel like I have ever belonged. It is about finding a new dream so that there is some compulsion to stick around a while longer in this experience. I like puzzles so this is right up my alley. I have created my life as one 3-D, monochromatic, million piece puzzle to solve. And I am a hell of a creator.

As my mind wanders to all of the interactions we could possibly have, I know that the one thing I will not allow myself is to use him as a punching bag to sort through my own insecurities and fears. He deserves better than that and so do I.

Image by Mrdidg from Pixabay

One of the things that helps me with self awareness is clarifying my values. This is a new exercise for me so I am in the stage where it isn’t automatic quite yet. I struggle really really hard with is knowing what is MY voice. I understand Mr. X and how his brain and heart work so I can live in his perspective. I get where my friends are coming from, the ones who tell me to go out and party and just move on so I can live there too. Obviously, I can live in my own past which dictates situations like this call for a complete excision of the relationship from my life with never a look back. I am comfortable there too. Where I am not comfortable is the new paradigm of what I want to be, who I want to be, how I want to show up in the world. Since there are so many noises coming in I decided to make a values list to take all of the static out of the equation.

What are my top values? Authenticity, kindness and love. There are other ways I want to show up, but to simplify I am starting there.

Then I say okay, is getting pissed and verbally abusing someone you love in line with those values? No, obviously. Is it authentic? Yes, because that is what I feel, but it isn’t necessarily a truth. Is it kind? No, not at all. Is it born of love? No, it doesn’t express love for him, my words would not be born of love and it certainly won’t help me feel more love for myself. That is my voice. That is self- awareness.

Whenever someone says something to me with relation to this situation (and any others I am confused about) I run it through those filters, does that feel authentic to me, is it coming from a place of or expressing kindness and love? If yes then I may place it in my toolbox, if not I allow it to be there, know it is an expression of me and then let it be and give myself a huge proverbial pat on the back for winning another round, for feeding something better.

I also like to go back to what I wrote yesterday about people knowing what is best for them. I have to remind myself often of this. I know what is best for me. Not my friends, not Mr. X, me. Even if I choose a dark path, it is my choice. Doing something different for someone else will not create sustained change.

Some other self awarenesses that I am sitting with include: I am stubborn… like REALLY stubborn and I sometimes act out when I don’t get my way. The way I express my anger sometimes is very intense, with little to no space between my anger and lashing out. Sometimes when I am hurt I want other people to hurt too. I don’t trust words, only actions and it is still a really long road to gain my trust. In the wake of this situation I do not want to open my heart to anyone but me. Physical touch does not feel good to me with other people. I can walk away from most of the people in my life very VERY easily as I do not actually allow myself to connect with them. These are things that keep coming up, that I sit with, filter through and see how I can utilize them. Most of the time I just work on shifting perspectives to something more useful.

I am stubborn, but I am also very passionate about what I feel and when I come up against something that is a true “wrong” in this world I will fight for what is right. The intensity of my anger and fear and pain are the opposition to the intensity of my love which when opened and softened to people can create a space for a love that is huge and very filling and warm. I may want to hurt people when I am hurt, but I actively pursue other solutions. I still act in the kindest way that I can, and seek to see their perspective. My love is deep and not easily given and I have reasons not to trust people and that is okay, the ones who stick around for me earn my loyalty, respect and love. I am very very good at protecting myself and have created a space where I am safe. I don’t need to soften to everyone for them to receive some of the love I have to give, my body is my own and it does not need to be a tool for expression of love.

See, when I put it that way those traits are empowering and come from a place of alignment with my values.

Personal growth really is all about figuring out how you want to show up, becoming aware of existing thought patterns, finding different perspectives and interacting with them to build a new reality brick by brick. It isn’t a fast or fun process, but the new version brings with it a whole new life and a new playground to find your dreams, build your reality and flourish in the life you have been given. ❤ ❤

Top Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

Day 71: Holding Space

For a long time I have been really confused about the concept of holding space.

Space, space for emotions, space to process, space to just be.

What the fuck does that even mean?

I don’t love all of the terminology that makes up the therapy and coaching world. It all feels so scripted to me, and in that way, not super authentic.

So what is holding space?

It basically means just being present with someone, not judging them or trying to change the emotions and feeling that are coming up, but just sitting with them and allowing them to show up how they need to.

This is really hard for people to do. In fact, if you have someone in your life that will do this, hold on to them for dear life. I’ve met one person who has been able to really effectively do this for me. Everyone else that has tried either puts their own experience into the conversation and gives advice, or tries to change the emotions. When I am mad, I want and need to be mad, I don’t need someone to cheer me up! It is really hard to hold space for people if there isn’t mindfulness and presence. Sometimes this means knowing when to keep your mouth shut and just let people talk. It is a huge gift that you can give to someone, to just show up and listen.

The concept of holding space for someone, truly doing this, is that each person is capable of discovering their own path and their own needs. It is a place for them to process events and come up with whatever next steps they need to.

The thing about holding space for someone is being confident and secure enough in yourself to just let them say what they need to. This is much easier for me to do with a stranger than it is with someone I am intimately connected to. Those intimate connections, while I may listen, I still take in what’s being said and try to figure out how to fix things. This is one of the hardest things that we can do with our partners and friends, but also one of the most rewarding. When someone knows that you are listening, without judging or distraction, it opens up this whole arena for vulnerability, trust and compassion that may otherwise be lacking.

I challenge you to try it this week. The next time a friend comes to you to chat, just let them talk. Listen actively. Don’t worry about how you will respond or how you can help them. Listen, repeat back what they said, drop in some support and let them have their own emotional experience. I guarantee, people will love you for it.

There is nothing as loving as a friend who just listens. ❤ ❤

Day 70: The Art of Questioning

So, as I mentioned this has been the first week of really digging into coaching work and we started with the art of asking questions.

Our instructor posted a few challenges for us. 1. Listen to the questions being asked around you. What are they like? 2. Listen to the questions you ask other people, what are they like? 3. Listen to the questions you ask yourself, what are they like?

I have really learned a lot about questions, about how people ask questions, how they interpret them and how people listen. None of it is revolutionary, it’s kind of what I expected, but now there is an awareness about it that I didn’t have before.

What I learned is that people love having the chance to talk about themselves and open ended questions really allow them that space. I first learned about open ended questions in vet school with respect to getting histories from clients, so it hasn’t been hard to move that over to coaching.

I also learned that not a lot of people listen. The vast majority of people are waiting to give their response and their experience and sometimes are so impatient that they cannot even wait for your sentence to finish before jumping in. It is also really obvious when people don’t care very much and cut people off and change the conversation.

People are selfish. Myself included. I love to talk about me and my problems (hello, I have a blog all about ME), but I think that one of the greatest gifts we can give to people is to listen. To be present in the moment and let them talk without worrying about where the conversation will go or what to say next.

Try it. Sit and just listen. People may not realize or tell you how amazing it feels, but I promise if you are consistent you will see people coming to you for advice and friendship more often. This can be a blessing and a curse. One has to remain powerful in themselves, and not take things on from other people, but it can also be magical experience and one in which you can learn SO much about yourself and how you show up in the world. ❤ ❤

Image by Frank Winkler from Pixabay

Day 68: Seeking Professional Help

How does a person know when they need to see a therapist?

Easy. When their friends can’t stand to talk to them anymore.

I’m only partially kidding. Is this hitting my abandonment fears and making me want to run and put my head in the sand? Absolutely.

There is no shame in finding someone to talk to. Afterall, they are paid to help people get out of death spirals. That isn’t the job for friendships.

Save the negativity and personal work for the shrink. ❤ ❤

Day 67: In Which We Find Reprieve

Some days are just good. In spite of the drudgery of emotional processing and grief and self-punishment there are some days the sun shines through the forest and one can’t help to be content.

I have to remind myself CONSTANTLY that it’s okay to be happy and sad in the same moment.

I started my coaching certification program and it’s a really really good group of people.

The further I dive into inner work, the harder I am finding it to be around people who aren’t doing some work. There are so many people in this world just planted in the status quo. This group is really cool, there are people from all walks of life and they are doing amazing things!

So many of them are coaching already, and the niche’s are really cool. There are subject from female hair loss to sexuality. I have no clue where I fit in yet but I am really honored to be a part of a really special group.

The conversation today was about language and asking questions. There is not a better topic for me to start my journey into coaching.

During the class our coach asked a few questions that made it clear to me that my inner dialogue STILL isn’t very positive. At first I was really disheartened. The same stories came up, I am not making progress, how can I be so dumb to think I could do this… and then I stopped. The lightbulb went on, this is what she meant. I don’t think of myself as a piece of shit anymore and I don’t entertain a lot of the stories I heard from my childhood, but I still don’t talk very positively to myself.

I know I have a lot to work on. And for the first time in a while, today I told myself it was okay.

I’m going to define my values. Work on listening for questions that people ask and how they can be reframed and I am going to reframe my own, with grace and patience for myself. ❤ ❤

Image by TeroVesalainen from Pixabay

Day 66: A Retreat Within

Sometimes in order to heal and open your heart, what is required is a trip within.

It is the times of dark turmoil that almost call for total reclusion.

I have pulled away from almost all of the people I have come to rely on the last year or so. I was simply becoming too much. Too much for them, too much for me.

I finally took the plunge and reached out to a therapist to really dig into why I do the things that I do, why I seem to overwhelm people I am in relationships with, why I continually choose men that are unavailable.

It is a time of deep healing, upgrading to a better version, soul searching.

I am simultaneously terrified and relieved to have reached out to someone.

Retreating within is okay, as long as you have some guides to help you find the way out again. ❤ ❤