Day 49: The Complexities of Relationships

Relationships are really fucking hard.

Especially when it feels like words and actions aren’t aligning. Even when the other person probably has a bigger picture view and you realize that. After all, everyone is compelled by their own wants and needs. They may love you, a lot. But at the end of the day they want what they want and I want what I want and those things do not always match up.

Relationships are a complicated dance. A dance of compromise, of love, of sacrifice sometimes.

Sometimes relationships need to be excised.

Sometimes they need the door to be closed for a while so they can be refreshed and renewed.

And sometimes they need to be fought for tooth and nail because that person is the best person that has ever come into your life.

Sometimes fighting for someone means shutting the door for a while so that both parties can have space for their hearts to heal. As much as a person can want to be in a different stage of a relationship, that shit takes time and can only bloom when both people are in the same heart space.

Every relationship brings ups and downs, reveals things about people that they would never otherwise see, and they all require growth of some sort. Relationships are humbling. Some days feel like an ecstatic triumph and others feel like one sucker punch after another. And sometimes you feel hit one too many times and it is revealed that what you have been fighting for so hard no longer exists. It’s heart breaking for the pieces of that person that you never want to let go of, but necessary sometimes to get back pieces of yourself.

Truly loving someone, opening your heart to them… for some people it is easy. For me… it is the hardest thing I have ever done. So tonight my heart is closing for a while, because it has been open and vulnerable and taken a few hits more than my delicate love can take. It will be repaired in that space, alone. It will come out stronger than before, smarter than before, with an unwillingness to compromise itself again at the hands of another person, no matter how amazing that person is.

Goodnight friends. May you close the doors that need to close, leave the ones cracked that bring you happiness and swing open those ones that fill your heart. The world needs more love in it, but tonight, it’s not getting one more speck from me. ❤ ❤

Image by SeaReeds from Pixabay

Day 42: A Small Reclamation of Power

I woke up this morning with the space I brought forth yesterday still present.

Before I did anything else, I reached over to check my phone. It has been days since me and Mr. X have talked. No word from him…. still… my heart sunk…. again. I had a really clear moment of seeing just how much power I give him.

As I wrote yesterday, I am trying not to duck and run when things get hard in my life. The situation with Mr. X has been one of the most challenging puzzles in my life with regard to keeping my heart open and working on our friendship. I have had a few close friends tell me I need to cut off all contact in order to heal. The truth is, I don’t want to. I rely on him, heavily, for support. His being in my life has changed and elevated it in so many ways and he is the only person who truly sees me. He has asked me to trust that this will work out like it’s supposed to, that our paths will cross again romantically if they are meant to, he has asked me to trust him. And I do, but fuck it hurts when we aren’t talking regularly. This is a feeling I don’t experience with my other friends, so clearly I have a lot of work to do still to get past the romantic bits.

I spend too much of my energy waiting for him. Hoping he will message me, hoping he will tell me he is ready to be together, hoping he will show up like I need him to. The truth is, our agendas are different. He is happy having me as a friend, and I am looking for a life partner. I realized this morning that the waiting around is killing me. He has never asked me to wait and I know he would tell me to go live my life. It is in these moments I see just how dysfunctional and co-dependent my idea of love really is.

So I muted my messenger.

The immediate relaxation I felt with the KNOWING that I 100% would not hear that glorious chime today was a breath of fresh air. I made that decision and it felt good and my heart lightened for a moment. I asked myself, okay what else do you want?

I made a list of the things that are stressing me out quite badly and I wrote down actionable steps that I could take to relieve some pressure and I did them.

One of my other big stressors, aside from my relationship at work, is my health. My body is exquisitely sensitive and all of this emotional turmoil is resulting in GI issues. I have always had some issues and they improve a little with each suggestion from a doctor, but the changes don’t last and I think that most of it is emotional stagnation and dysfunction. I have decided to really focus on my health for a bit. I am trying to put only good things into my body and really honor it as much as I can. I had some really bad stomach pain and nausea this week and I woke up one morning just thinking, I cannot take this anymore. There has to be change.

I happened to listen to this Wim Hof interview on Russell Brand’s podcast and the scientific evidence behind his breathing technique was pretty impressively presented. Given all of the information we are discovering about our bodies and the potential that we haven’t even tapped into, I am really confident that we can heal our own bodies. I don’t know how in the hell I am going to do this, but I am embarking on a quest to figure out how. I am sure there will be a lot of trial and error and I will welcome it because I cannot live like this anymore. I did the Wim Hof method twice today. Just like anything, especially when talking about chronic issues, there is never an instant change, but there is usually a heart reaction and today when I was doing the breathing I felt like it was right. My goal is to get my body working at its optimal capacity. I realize this will also mean healing the mental and emotional bodies.

What did I do for myself today? I rested and I took an inventory of what was working and what wasn’t in my life and how I could change it. I was able to listen to the space between my fear and my inner being and figure out what I wanted and connected with my heart enough to get some feedback on next steps. Up next, meditation. I have gotten away from consistent practice and in many ways have shunned a lot of these modalities even though I know they are really powerful. Once again, it comes back to do I really want to change? Some days I do and some days I don’t. Today is a day of change so I will harness all of the motivation that I can to keep moving forward, even if it feels like I’ve taken ten steps back. ❤ ❤

What are some self care routines that you guys have that keep you grounded?

Image by Martin Winkler from Pixabay

Day 29: The Cruciality Of Support

I’m feeling pretty defeated by the world this round. Like, knockout defeated.

We had a snow storm last night and got about 8 inches dumped on us in a region of the USA where there is typically not much snow fall which means there is not a good system in place to handle that. So my power has been out intermittently for the last 18 hours. 13 of which was a continuous blackout so… no heat. I woke up to quite the chill this morning.

A patient that I referred for surgery took a turn for the worse and died today. Another is likely headed for the same fate this week. The second one I have been working on for the last four weeks.

I was in the middle of making food and once again, no power. It’s 5 PM, pitch black and cold and here I sit. I’m writing to you on my phone, curled up in my blankets like a gnarly little gremlin.

To be honest I’m not even sure that cruciality is a word and I don’t want to waste precious cell phone battery to find out. That’s what we are working with here.

There are things in life that we require to survive, food, water and shelter. Once those base needs are met and satisfied a whole host of options opens up. Having the freedom from the stress of survival allows for breathing room and the focus can shift to creating a life worth living.

And creation is what it’s all about.

When I started out on my journey to self love I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do it on my own. Even though the actual process of self growth is a solitary journey, having the right support can make or break your travel.

Support can come in so many forms. It can come in the form of a cheerleader, a mentor, someone delivering tough love or even the circumstances that crop up in life.

If you are able to look around and realize that even the tough times are supporting you somehow it can make dark times seem a little less heavy. The tricky part here is having to trust that they are delivering you somewhere that will be of benefit which is, admittedly, hard to do when you are caught in the thick of it.

For me tonight my support showed up in the form of a phone call from a friend. He reminded me that even though I had a rough day, I still showed up for myself. I didn’t let the trials stop me from doing the things that I know will benefit my future. I worked out. I took a call from a coaching program that I am looking to join. I was able to shower at the gym. My day has been a little tough but it’s been a good training ground for changing my mentality and luckily for me, barring any unforeseen catastrophies, I will have a chance to try again tomorrow.

I hope you are all warm and cozy out there. ❤️❤️

Photo by Sasint from Pixabay

Day 28: How To Fill An Empty Heart

Oh man, today has been quite a day.

I’m currently involved in two “hard” conversations with two different friends and fuck is it wearing me out. As usual I can see everyone’s side. I can see their love and concern for me and for them and I can sit firmly in their shoes. I know that having hard conversations and coming to compromises and conclusions based on both party’s input is the stuff that creates lasting relationships but the middle parts, the actual work, it can be messy. Feelings get hurt, words are sometimes misunderstood and conversations are often times drawn out and heavy.

That’s a good word for my day, heavy.

My heart feels like it has a hole in it the size of Texas.

So what do I do when I feel like this?

I took a few minutes and looked back at my last couple of years of relationships with these people and I recalled all the good and loving times and I brought them into my heart to sit. Then I looked at all of the ways I have grown in the last year and I congratulated myself for taking steps to have healthier relationships and for not running away.

And the last bit of the hole that I couldn’t fill…. admittedly I stuffed a donut in it.

Image by Shurriken on Pixabay

I used to be a really emotional eater. I would sneak food and hide it from my family so I didn’t have to hear how no one would think I was lovable if I was fat. I would have ice cream every night, that sweet, silky softness caressing my tongue. I would have cookies in between meals and sweets after every lunch and dinner. Sugar played a huge part in my life. Self soothing. In my 20s I was actually worried to move out on my own because no one would be around to shame me so I thought I would gain a hundred pounds.

It turns out, when you remove yourself from a stressful situation you no longer need coping mechanisms.

I am not perfect by a long shot but I have learned to listen to my body a lot more in the last few years. I have always had some digestive issues so mindfulness with food has been a big goal. I know how much I should eat to feel my best. I know when to skip meals and when to eat fully. And occasionally I revisit an old pattern, and have a donut or two and I do this because it does feel good and for a few minutes I do get some relief. The biggest difference now is that I don’t hide it. I acknowledge what I am doing and why I am doing it before I even open the box. Then I allow myself a certain quantity and I sit there and really enjoy the hell out of it. No shame. No guilt.

So how do you fill a hole in your heart? You practice compassion. For yourself and for others. You stay open and present and mindful. You love yourself no matter what kind of mental chatter pops in. You practice appreciating what you have in life. You approach each situation with curiosity and the desire to grow. You find things that light you up and you do more of them.

And sometimes you allow yourself a guilt free donut. ❤️❤️

Day 22: The Power Of Totems

Not every day is as inspiring as the last. We can get through resistance, let down our guard in life and start feeling clearly one day, only to have the next be wrought with anxiety. This is the beauty of humanity. No two days are the same.

I am sitting here in bed, worrying over the next blog post, having anxiety about “this thing” that I started. What if I don’t “finish it?” “What if I have lost that inspiration?”

And then… a fart. One of those little bubblers…. pfft, pfft, pfft…. and my dog, who was sound asleep, launches himself off of his furry blanket, stares at the betrayal that is his asshole and looks at me with shock in his eyes as if to say “I have NO IDEA how that happened!”

A split second later I am roaring with laughter. Giggling so hard I have tears rolling down my cheeks and in this moment… pure joy.

This food guzzling, fart excreting, whining, love of a creature is my totem.

What is a totem and why should everyone have one? A totem is an animal or object that represents a particular quality, thought or feeling. For me, my dog is a totem for joy and love. And in this moment, the innocence of laughter.

Sometimes the world gets overwhelming. Sometimes our anxiety takes over and worries abound. The future, the past… we lose sight of the present moment in all its glory. Sometimes we cannot figure out what’s up or down, what we want, what we don’t want, panic sets in and suddenly the world seems a big, dark, scary place. Totems can bring us back. Whenever I look at this dog, pet him, snuggle with him, my heart warms, joy fills my body and I relax. Totems keep us connected to a purity of feeling that is sometimes necessary to get back to a base reality. They are a breath of air when a 1000 pound weight is on our chest. And in that moment, when laughter is present and the body opens and relaxes, inspiration and happiness poke their heads back in the door.

I learned about totems from my friend (and mentor and author and all around badass dude) Mike Kemski (whose challenge started today, so you’ll likely hear a fair bit about him in the next two weeks). He talks about them as touchstones for the empath, or a way to reconnect with self in the face of feeling a whole bunch of shit from other people. A totem that brings happiness can be felt or touched and that feeling comes back and that can be used to identify what is truly your feeling versus that of others around you. He calls people that can feel other people’s emotions an “emotional empath.” We have also talked about cognitive empaths of which I am one. This is the ability to put yourself in another’s shoes and understand their motives and actions. This comes up for me because I am so capable of stepping in shoes that I often forget I have my own to walk in. I have a history of giving myself completely over to others without filling my cup and it is a big part of the reason I have isolated myself from others for so long. Having totems helps. It brings me back to me.

A totem can be an animal, an object, a person…. anything really. I highly suggest that people have them. But maybe…. maybe choose one that is a little less…. gassy… ❤ ❤

Image by Fran__ from Pixabay

Day 21: The Physiology Of Fear

I am sitting here in my tiny house and suddenly, a gunshot. Then another, then another. I live in the country, so firearms are not an unusual occurrence. There is something about these shots though that is different. A different cadence, a closer proximity. Likely, someone is hunting coyote. It is the most probable explanation, but not the first one that went through my mind. Nope, my first thought was a murder/suicide, then I quickly realized that was unlikely and a silly thought, or is it… in this day and age I am not so sure anymore. My unease is not helped by the fact that I am watching The Ring, alone… at night. Why do I do this to myself? Why does it sometimes feel good to be scared? Probably because it reminds us that we are alive.

I can feel it even now, there is tension in my body. My shoulders are pulled up, my breath shallow. Blood is pounding in my ears. I am in fight or flight mode. I breathe, deeply and my body relaxes a little, one more breath, more tension melts away. But what happens to our bodies when we are in prolonged fear states? Long term effects can include weakening of the immune system, gastrointestinal issues, cardiovascular issues, and premature aging to name a few things. Simply put, our bodies are not made to withstand prolonged threats. Fear is a very powerful biological process. It alerts us to anything that threatens our survival. It screams at us to move, it pumps adrenaline into our blood, it heightens all of our sense.

Whether that threat is real or not.

If you are anything like me you are used to fear. It is a constant companion. For me fear shows up as low level anxiety and debilitating exhaustion. It shows up as a lack of ability to make decisions. It shows up in the tightness in my back and the painful stomach aches. We are not meant to make fear a companion. I think this all started at a pretty young age with me. I never really felt safe in my home. No, I was never under threat of being killed and I wasn’t really physically abused, but there was a constant barrage of emotional, mental and psychological drama that resulted in some very well honed fear responses. As a result I have spent much of my life in a state of anxiety. Anxiety can be useful and can help us change direction, or can be the motivation we need to make a big move, but constant anxiety leads to mental distress, physical ailments and lack of well-being. For me, when fear takes over, there is a heightening of that response and after years and years of feeling under attack, it takes less and less to put me in that state. Aaannddd I often jump to the worst case scenario (hello, murder/suicide).

Now, I am not one that was ever very successful with therapy. I found it a useless exercise, mostly because I have processed the past events in my life. I don’t need to hash them out again and again, and many of them I no longer feel any attachment towards and can instead see them as beneficial on my path to where I am now. Therapists would ask me to talk about an issue and I would come full circle on whatever little tidbit they were trying to extract or whatever lesson they were hoping I would see in about ten seconds flat. The real issue for me is retraining the nervous system to chill out a little bit and rewire those pathways that lead to this continuous cycle of anxiety. I have done this/am doing this without therapy, but this is the part where I say please, please, please for the love of God if you feel like you are struggling and need some help, see a shrink. Therapy has done some amazing things for a lot of people that I know.

Some of the things that I do to get through fear are:

  1. I acknowledge that fear is there. When I feel my body tightening I take that awareness and shift it to why I am feeling that way. What is the threat? Is it perceived or real? Is it a story that my mind is making up?
  2. Then I breathe. Deeply. Sometimes if I am able to I will drop into a meditation and quiet everything around me.
  3. Once I decide what category that fear goes into, real or perceived, I decide what action to take. Real threats, I will get out of there and worry about the rest later. Most of the fears in my life aren’t real. They aren’t life or death and are, most of time, just mental chatter. When I realize that is what is going on I play the scripts out in my mind. I ask myself what is the worst case scenario? How does that feel? What is the best case scenario? How does that feel?

By the time I get to step 3, which only really takes a few moments, I am usually much more relaxed. I am aware of what’s happening in my body and I am able to alter my response. This is all just a matter of shifting perspectives. Most of the time the best case scenario option is enough of a feel good potential for me to take that “risk.”

Example, my boss called me into her office for a “chat,” but she looks really angry. This fear may or may not be real. I may lose my job, which is fear inducing if I go down a rabbit hole of all of the potential consequences of that. Most of the time though I would choose to say to myself, first of all, I don’t know if she is angry or not and even if she is it may or may not have anything to do with me. Likely, it doesn’t. Then I will play out the worst case scenario, in this case, losing my job. What would that feel like? Initially, not very good and I would probably feel like I was incapable or not good enough. And then I would realize that wasn’t the case and I have been unhappy in my job for months and likely my boss realizes that. If I lost my job it would also give me a tremendous amount of freedom to look around at other organizations and would relieve the pressure of wondering if I should quit or not etc. Best case scenario? She is bringing me in to recognize me for a job well done or a raise, and that would feel really good. Once this process becomes second nature the turn around is very quick, usually a matter of seconds.

Fear has kept me from so much in my life. One of the things that helps me push through fear is the company of a dog. I usually have one with me wherever I go. Dogs are so humbling. Animals in generally really. They run on instinct. These guys are my totem… which I will write about another day, maybe tomorrow. When I decided to go to into the medical field, I had this wonderful dog. She was my heart, that one. She was with me all through school. The day before I was supposed to leave to move across the country and start my first job in this profession, she died, very suddenly. I was absolutely devastated. My adventure buddy was gone. I stayed in bed (a sleeping bag on my apartment floor as I had already shipped my things) for a couple days, delaying my trip. I had planned this awesome camping, cross country adventure just me and her. The only “vacation” I had had in years. I still went on that trip. It was a march of total, utter devastation. In a way I was fearless because I had lost the most important being in my life. I slept in my car in some shady spots, I went to national parks and hiked trails with grizzly bears. I went state after state with my head down, not engaging with people, sobbing along the way. It was pretty awful, but I saw some really beautiful and moving things. Once I reached my current destination I threw myself into my work. I had zero confidence, I was genuinely scared every day as decisions that I made could now actually be life or death. I was terrified to be a doctor. In the first year of practice I became more and more isolated, more and more anxious and I was not enjoying anything about my life anymore. I got another dog, far too soon. He is a lovable disaster who has his own rocky past and it took us a solid 9 months before we really bonded. It was a very unstable time in my life and resulted in me spending a lot of hours in front of the TV, in my bed during my time off, completely and utterly exhausted. My back hurt, my shoulders hurt, I couldn’t think straight. I wanted nothing to do with making decisions which resulted in me eating a ton of frozen pizza and basically single-handedly supporting Netflix. I was essentially letting fear run my life.

Then I heard this guy talk (yes, broken record, it’s Mike Kemski) and one of his teachings is you are the power. That really struck a cord with me, because it forced me to look at my life and realize I had created my current state. I wasn’t surrounded by threatening situations, but I was allowing them to be considered as such. I was creating them that way in my mind. But the cool part was if I could create them, I could also change them. And so it began. Very VERY slowly I started to peek out of my self made prison and take a look at the world. It would take another 8 months before this concept would sink in but I now realize that everything I do is a choice and a perspective. If I decide to have a lazy day at home, it is because I have chosen, not because I am afraid to go out in the world. And I do venture out… way more than I used to. I walk slower, I take in the scenery. I enjoy the views and the people watching and I have a curiosity about the world that I thought was dead in my heart.

When fear does strike I am able to thank it for being there, for trying to protect me – my body and mind are badass guardians! Then I move through it, I try the new thing, I go the new place. I walk the new hike. Every once in a while my gut gets involved with a really clear message and those I listen to. I adjust course, I take a different trail, but most of the time, there is no threat. The world isn’t out to get me. I am powering my existence and I choose to see all of the ways I am supported and loved and all of the ways I am safe. Fear has been a tremendous asset in my life and continues to be a really enlightening teacher. But it’s no longer welcome in the driver’s seat. ❤ ❤

** There is still time to join Mike Kemski’s challenge, it officially starts at 3 PM CST tomorrow. I write about him here and in a few of my other posts. He is a fantastic human being, a close friend, and an amazing catalyst for change. He exists to be sure that people know how to get the most out of life so they don’t die with regret. His challenge is two weeks long and he goes over a simple process that is the building block for having the life you have always wanted. Check him out on Facebook or jump into the challenge here:

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Day 20: Strategic Ignorance And Protecting Those You Love

Strategic ignorance is a buzz phrase right now in the personal development world. Influencers tout it as a way to live a carefree, blissfully happy existence. Just strategically ignore anything that causes a twinge of pain or fear. You ignore any inconvenience in this world, including the people in your life that may be causing discomfort. You simply ignore anything that doesn’t please you!

I would venture a guess that these people also have relationships that are very superficial. Probably a lot of them. Probably not many people that would actually stick around for the hard stuff. And why would a person in this state even need that, because we are ignoring all of the hard stuff, right?

Pair this person with someone who has a huge heart, one who values connection, presence, elevation of relationships and … well… it can be a recipe for disaster. People with huge hearts aren’t made to connect superficially. They see beyond that. They see beyond the happiness facade to the truth underneath and they still love and cherish the connection. Even when it hurts them.

What do you do when you are in love with one of these huge hearts and you see them walking back into the lion’s den? When you have a huge heart yourself? You let them go. You watch from a distance and you stand by to pick up the pieces when they let hurt in again. And you keep showing up for them, because you see what they have to offer the world.

Loving someone is not always easy. It isn’t about ignoring all of the inconvenient parts. It isn’t about walking away when things get tough or you don’t see eye to eye. Sometimes loving someone is watching them walk a dangerous path and you quietly walk behind them, distracting evil from them as they journey. Sometimes loving someone is having a hard conversation when the time is right and sometimes it is keeping your mouth completely shut and silently crying your tears because you know that serves them better. When you truly love someone you want to protect them, you want to fight for them and with them, but sometimes they are fighting themselves, and that is a battle that you can only observe from the sidelines, cheer them on, and wipe away the blood, sweat and tears. This is one of the hardest parts of love.

Strategic ignorance. Yes, it can be useful. I can ignore the physical soreness in my body and keep working out because I know it is making me stronger. I can ignore people in my periphery that don’t hold the same values that I do because I know engaging will only lead to strife and close minded conversation.

What does strategic ignorance look like when it isn’t making a positive contribution? It looks like ignoring the $30,000 in credit card debt to continue living a lifestyle you can’t afford. It looks like ignoring conversations that require vulnerability and courage because walking away is easier. At the end of a life, I believe, it looks like regret. That is, of course, assuming the person in question is capable of true introspection.

Strategic ignorance. The quickest and easiest way to end up alone in life. Unless you are one of the lucky few who has someone with heart in your corner. And you can strategically ignore every time that you hurt them, knowing they will still show up for you. Unfortunately, people like this fail to recognize that there is one person that can’t be ignored, and that is the person inside. The self, the identity, the one that feels the happiness and the sorrow and the pain. And you can run from those feelings and cover them up in layers of superficiality but at the end of the day those emotions that don’t please you are still there, alive and thriving, pulsing at the core of the heart, growing stronger and stronger until the day that they are finally recognized, honored and processed.

For me, that is no way to live. I want all of it. I want the blissful happiness, and the joy and triumph, but I also want the edges, the pain, the tears, the fear of facing who I truly am and walking out the other side. This to me is authenticity. This is self love. And I will fearlessly stand beside anyone else lucky enough to be in my circle, because I’m not ignoring shit. ❤ ❤

Image by Ian Lindsay from Pixabay