Monday, August 29, 2016

'Let her go!'

There's this way we have of talking to one another. He taught it to me. He insisted upon it. I, really quite scared to do anything but follow the edicts imposed, followed along, stayed in my lane.

Very quickly, as I recall now it was no time at all, I grew to adore that speak. It gave me a chance to be free. Only bimbo spoke like that. No concerns about mistakes, or misspelt words. In fact, corrections were frowned upon. Misspelt words were encouraged.

When bimbo is very excited, completely unleashed, her language becomes wilder as her mind becomes more open and free. Love won't just be luv but luvvvvvv. Sexy won't just be sexxy but sexxxxxy. Control becomes cuntrol. Becomes becomes becumz because bimbo is uneducated, quite dumb. Simple. She's proud of that. She wouldn't have it any other way. She looks warily around for girl because she spells trouble for bimbo, always has, always will.

Girl is into correct grammar and spelling. She doesn't refer to herself as 'she'. She wouldn't do that. She says "I don't agree" or "Don't you think bimbo has some say in this?", but that's a fallacy, a lie, a deception.  Bimbo would not ask that question. She doesn't ask those sort of questions because she doesn't have those sorts of thoughts. Bimbo doesn't care to have any say. That's not bimbo asking that question. That's girl who now has control of bimbo.

So, if he gets those sorts of responses he knows immediately that bimbo has been "tossed to the side of the road".

He's no fan of the girl. He considers her a "tyrant". Brutal. If necessary, he can be brutal to girl for the simple reason that he'll always defend and protect bimbo against girl. It's happened before. Let's hope it doesn't have to happen again.

It's when he refers to himself as "I", as in "I know bimbo has been hijacked" that girl is able to see through the murky fog of her troubled thoughts and realize what she has done. She's snuffing the life and light out of bimbo. It's true. She's on a rampage to ensure bimbo doesn't see the light of day...until she comes up against bimbo's white knight who will do anything and say anything to protect the silly l'il bimbo inside of the girl.

And it's at that moment, the dreaded use of the word "I", "I know", that the girl drops her weapons, holds up the white flag and says, metaphorically of course, "If you don't shoot I'll release bimbo." And, he responds, metaphorically, "Release the bimbo and the girl can go in peace."

What  a relief for bimbo - to return to her beloved bimbo speek, her pluggiz, her dumbness and lightness, her joy and contentedness.

"Bimbo always enhances girl. Girl does nothing for bimbo."

Oh boy, that makes the girl sit up because it is so so undeniably true.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


For those people who sometimes find themselves stepping on invisible emotional landmines when in conversation with their spouse and wonder what to do to make communication better, I cannot recommend more highly The Intimacy Factor by Pia Mellody.

Many times over four decades I have found myself in the company of an irate and distressed husband in response to something I have unwittingly said. Over time I watched more and more carefully what I said, how I said it and when I said it, but these confusing and upsetting exchanges continued regardless.

In the same vein, I think I have been confusing to talk with too. If something that is said triggers a certain feeling, then the conversation becomes not about the words but about the feeling the words evoke, whether that was the intention or not at all the intention.

I began in more recent times to look for answers, both as to what was happening within me and what was happening within him. I determined that I had a sensitivity to any statements that conjured a feeling of abandonment and of feeling a failure. I determined that he had a sensitivity to any signs of disrespect, of having made a mistake or of having been accused of being lazy.

I'll give an example. Last night I was exhausted. It was just the two of us for dinner and after dinner I made what I thought was an innocent remark, a sort of silly remark.

'Wouldn't you think that by 2016 someone would have devised a way to just press a button and the kitchen would be all cleaned up!'

'That's why people eat take away food,' he responded.

'No, I mean, to clean up the kitchen after making a meal.'

I can't relay his response because it went on for several minutes, a sort of tirade of me making cheap swipes at him, and how if I wanted help I should ask for it and how it was all about my family and the way I'd been brought up wrong. He was angry and defensive and very worked up. He began doing the dishes as he spewed out hurtful comments.

I only said that I didn't understand what had caused this upset and please sit down and have a cup of tea and I'd do the dishes later, but this didn't help.

I left the room, drew a bath and took 'The Intimacy Factor' with me. Using the index I found this:

'Maintaining boundaries takes energy. It requires being alert and ready to put our boundary skills to  work. Even though we may have had a fair amount of boundary practice, because we are perfectly imperfect human beings, the words of our partners will cause us to make up that we have been demeaned and we may feel pain, shame, anger or fear.'

Pia offers a technique to settle oneself down in this situation:

'When we have generated these emotions as a result of becoming improperly vulnerable, we rely on a technique to reduce the emotion and to keep it from infecting the air, thereby making our partner a victim of our carried energies...

She called this technique "breathing into the submission".

"We take a deep, slow breath and imagine the emotion we are feeling as having a bodily presence right before our eyes. Then we breathe into it and let it go. We imagine it passing right through us like a ghost. This way, we keep the emotion from becoming toxic, floating out into the air, and infecting our partner."

Pia explains that when we breathe out the emotion we feel we are learning a lesson in humility. That lesson is that we are never totally free of our traumatic past.

'We are not perfect, but we can be aware.'

I tried this strategy and felt instant relief. I know that my husband bears scars from what happened a half century ago and this reading helped me to see that whilst he will always carry those scars I can be aware and sensitive to those scars.

In the same way, I now know that I am sensitive to what I generally refer to as abandonment thoughts. Whilst not rational in my life today since I have loyalty, love and care from those who matter to me, sometimes a comment will invoke those old  and very painful feelings. I can imagine the feeling passing right through me in the same way. I recognize the importance of not letting the feeling become toxic and infecting the other, since I have allowed it to happen before and that's simply not fair.

We hold most of what happens to us in our sub-conscious. We can live in a sort of denial or dream world, devoid of awareness. But, I believe that you cannot defeat what you cannot see. To become aware of what ails us, what holds us back from happiness or peace or serenity, that's where the power lies. That is when progress is made.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Being oneself

In the early period of writing in this web journal I noted the fact that I masturbated at a very early age. It seemed to be part and parcel of being a kinky girl, since so many other kinky girls had written about this as well.

I don't reject the thought that kinky girls masturbate early but what I also now know is that if a child's emotional needs are not met in childhood they use two tools to soothe themselves: masturbation and food. It stands to reason that this was the primary reason for my nightly activity between the sheets.

It's really very hard to say for sure what were the first images in my head. I was so young; maybe four or five when I started to self stimulate every night, once the lights were off and the covers enclosed me. So, I can't with confidence say that I imagined this or that image as I masturbated at that young age. However, I do know that I have many memories of images where I was being disciplined and humiliated. It was about a school environment, masters and mistresses. Considerably later, it moved into domestic environments, and even later, it became debauched; multiple use; orgies, the whole gamut of the sexual experience on the big screen in my head.

School, at first, my real school that is, was a frightening place for me. For two years it all felt foggy, wobbly. I think what happened, though I have no proof to offer, is that the teachers were making me write with my right hand when I am most certainly a left handed person. I remember having to write on the board and looking back on what I had written. It seemed indecipherable. My reports for the first two years of school, which I still have, make clear that I was unsettled and unfocused. I needed to "try harder". If you then read the report for Second Grade you'd swear this was the report of a different child. It is glowing; a high achiever, focused, motivated and self disciplined.

Of course, when I was a child there was no ADHD diagnosis, no panic attack or anxiety diagnosis; no assistance for a child that entered school life feeling foggy and wobbly. The only other difference between the first few years and Second Grade that I can ascertain, apart from the possible demand that I use my right hand, is the Second Grade Teacher. She was a tough Irish woman who brooked no nonsense and, as I recall, demanded performance from me. I was her mission and I think it is fair to say that one way or the other she got me going at school, even though I feared her and thought her a mean person. I think I just responded to the attention she gave me, even if it was not always pleasant.

At about the same time as I became this model student my ballet years were settling into place. I started ballet early at age 4, I think it was, and the first few years there were wobbly too. My ballet master was extremely strict and not afraid to criticize. I somehow found myself thriving in a strictly controlled environment where excellence was demanded of me. If you didn't get it right the first time you just kept doing it until you got it right. This was all fodder for my nights, when I masturbated myself to sleep to images of this sort of containment, including corporal discipline; something which I never received at home at any age. It wasn't the real life people in my imaginations but rather faceless sorts of people who performed roles; disciplinary roles.

For those who did in fact get a paddling or a spanking when little I don't have any doubt that most of them find this a most galling memory. If it happened to me I suppose I'd feel the same way. But, left to my own devices to more or less bring myself up, it strikes me as caring, assuming it was about care and not about abuse. In my fantasies someone cared enough to monitor, to create expectations, to discipline when there was wrong doing. These images of being disciplined were soothing to me, you see. There was a fear factor, definitely, but it was under the auspices of it being for my own good too.

I do have a couple of memories of the Third and Fourth Grades. By third grade I'd developed a fear of making a mistake such that my anxiety made it difficult for me to focus on the meaning of words at times. I imagine that, using today's understanding of what can happen to children I was having a panic attack, not unlike the way my youngest child had panic attacks in the classroom in Grade 7 when we got him some therapy for this debilitating situation. But, I got the results somehow or other and navigated my way through to the end of school frustrating most teachers because my exam results were rarely up to the expectations they had of me given my standard of work through the year in class. I lived a certain kind of hell during exams since my brain would freeze and I'd only remember snippets here and there.

If you fast forward to when I was having my first child, I undertook a Diploma of Education wherein there was a subject 'Educational Psychology'. Between the baby's naps I prepared for the final exam. I still have a vivid image of sitting in the Philosophy Room of my University and seeing the paper for the first time. It was complete gobbledy gook. I knew nothing. I managed to settle myself down with this thought: that I must know something.

Bit by bit, I began to see that I did know something here and there on the paper and over the course of the two hours, more and more knowledge returned to me. I thought perhaps that I might just pass. With trepidation two weeks later I went to the Notice Board and looked up my academic number to discover that I had got 17/20. I was really pleased. I looked down the notice then to see what sort of other marks were recorded and discovered that 17 was indeed the highest mark.

What I have suffered from all my life is not an ability issue and that's not to have tickets on myself. I was just born with some strengths in that department. Where I am very weak is in self esteem and self confidence. I can struggle to have confidence as to my ability to complete a task well, a perfectionism that can hold me back. And, I can have very weak self-esteem, an inability to believe that I am good enough as I am; that I have inherent worth as I came into the world.

It is an undeniable fact that my issues are greatly improved when I accept that I am a woman who needs a dominant man in her life. I really would hate to be that person. Honestly. I'm not easy to keep in line. My head can reject that need. Other women around me don't need that sort of supervision and containment. But, I do. I do. I do. I do. That's just a simple fact.

I've spoken to a number of dominant men in my life, mostly via this blog, but via other routes as well, and I know that each man has his own approach. These approaches rarely resonate with me. I am not sure why this is. Sometimes I think, well, I can't actually be 'submissive' since simply being obedient or serving doesn't do it for me.

What happened to me is that one day I began to correspond and then chat with this one person, and something therein clicked for me. It was something about an element of care that I felt. He was definitely getting something out of it for himself to have these chats. Why else would he or anyone else keep chatting? But in his case it felt that he had somehow got to the core of my needs; needs that I didn't understand myself. But, he did.

He talks about me needing to be "anchored" and interestingly I think my ground chakra is by far the weakest. I am much too often in my head. I live up there when I need to feel the ground under my feet.

Pia Mellody talks and writes about self esteem being made up of values, power and abundance notions in our heads. Self esteem is in tact when we say to ourselves that we matter as we are, when we have self control and self containment, and good self care.

There's a part of me that feels that I should be able to get to this place of healthy self esteem all on my own. I don't feel that I should be leaning on someone else to get me through this. Yet, it is hard to dispute the facts as I know them to be. I've a certain 'bimbo' sort of disposition. I do best when certain methods are used; methods for which I have a love/hate relationship. I feel, on certain days, that I am weak to need this, and yet, I rise up when those methods are in place. I am indeed anchored.

There is no one 'right' way for all of us. We do all have certain human emotional needs, of course. There are wonderful tools available for the recovery process useful for all who have need of them. I am glad to have them at my disposal. I am also relieved to have kinkiness at my disposal. It's when I accept all of me that I really thrive.

Saturday, August 20, 2016


My reading about love and sex addiction has covered  much ground. My research led me to 'Sex and Love Addiction Anonymous' online and on that site 40 questions for self-diagnosis. In answering the questions truthfully for myself it became clear that I had a problem; not the sort of problem where I count the lovers. That number is meagre. This is not about sex addiction. However, as an example of the sort of questions where I answered 'Yes', no question is more relevant than Question 4: Do you get "high" from sex and/or romance? Do you crash? Oh my goodness, YES! I most certainly do.

I think of the codependent state of mind as being on a roller coaster. In terms of the real ride, I detest roller coasters, every bit of it. At times, the roller coaster ride of romance/connection is a delicious and most intoxicating 'high'. Other times it is a very low mood that germinates from that experience.

It's important to understand that I am not talking about a romance with a open and engaging partner who wants to know you and to be known; who wants to connect with you and talk about important matters such as emotions and boundaries. I'm talking about something that is expressed as being more manipulative than that. The love addict tends to connect with someone whose conscious and unconscious mind demands something different to this; a love avoidant.

In the initial stages of a power exchange dynamic it is completely exhilarating; so exhilarating that I was certainly able to ignore the lows almost completely. In fact, the lows were simply eroticized; part and parcel of the ride. Oddly and irrationally, I believed that I had overcome my fear and loathing of roller coaster rides.

Over time, it got to be more the case that the lows hung around. A sane mind, a healthy mind, doesn't take long to question the value of the ride where upset states endure. However, a codependent mind hangs in there, justifies the lows and remembers vividly the highs. How on earth does one give up on the highs? So, strong of mind and committed to the drug, one endures. There is a sense of a lack of respect at times, a sense of degrading oneself, of feeling weak to want this, but the girl has been 'hooked'. Once hooked, the need for the drug of choice endures.

Time marches on. The turbulence inside oneself continues and increases in decibal in one's brain until a moment comes when the thought is very much there: 'I have to stop this crazy-making situation. I just have to if I am ever to have peace of mind.' Not only was my brain tired of all this effort to stop something that felt unhealthy for me but I worried about the effect my unsettled mind might be having on my bodily health. Meditation, walking, yoga and writing all helped but so far there had been nothing I had found to achieve peace of mind; ongoing stability; a lack of upsetting jolts. Nothing overcame for too long the uneasy sense that the containing of my emotions was not a good thing.

One thing led to another. I read many texts. If any or all of this is making sense to you and you want to do some reading on codependency I found particularly helpful the following books. 'The Human Magnet Syndrome, Why We Love People Who Hurt US' by Ross Rosenberg is a bit repetitive and not especially well laid out, in my opinion. Ross admits that it was written in a rather 'stream of consciousness' way and I think it shows. Nevertheless, he has a lot of great material in his book and as a recovered co-dependent himself, he has huge credibility.

I cannot speak more highly of Kelly McDaniel's 'Ready to Heal'. I underline sentences in texts that are meaningful to me and my copy of this text is now heavily underlined.

I have yet to receive my copy of Pia Mallody's latest book but I have watched just about everything available on UTube and read all the material on her site and other locations. It is this woman who really spoke deep to the core of me.

For my own purposes I don't want today to type out quotes but rather to put her words into my words. It helps me to do this exercise. What impressed me the most was that her words spoke directly to me as if she had seen right into my head and my heart.

I put a great deal of emphasis in my life on a loving relationship. That's okay as far it goes. However, I choose, unwittingly, partners who are love avoidant. They create walls around themselves. I do this because if I can get through that wall, if I can get the attention of someone who insists on being unknowable, then I must not be as insufficient a person as I often feel. It's a self esteem issue as a carryover from a difficult childhood. It's not about achievements, or prettiness or capability. It's about my own internal lack of worth.

I've told my husband all about my feelings of inadequacy now, and have benefitted already with a greater sense of true intimacy, but as I said to him, "To read about that thought process and to own it as mine was a real kick in the guts."

This is what has caused the rollercoaster rides; those rides that seemed endless, taxing; exhausting; fruitless, failures. My desire to know someone wholly who categorically refused to be known was completely getting me down. Yet, I endured.

Not only that. It was made clear that I too was not to be known. Only a part of me was welcome. I just didn't know how to deal with that. I won't ever know. I learned that I am no good with walls. I am too innately curious to not know or to want to have the sort of intimacy where I am known for the complete woman that is writing these words.

Here's another thing. I lost track of me; of who I am and what I want. I wasn't sure in the end if my needs and wants were actually mine or if they had been impregnated into my mind.

It was time to stop everything and just learn to live in my own head without influence. That's what I do these days. I take it slow and I listen to my thoughts. I still love kinky stuff, but I won't be enmeshed again. I won't mistake submission, being a "good girl", with codependence ever again. I'm learning to accept the shame from childhood, to increase my self-esteem which will keep me happy and healthy, and to increase the self-care too. I am indeed not at all "worthless".

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Love addiction - the healing process

Denial has a life all of its own, so when the psychologist asked me a few years ago about my birth family and my relationships with my parents and sibling, I waved all that off. Everything there was fine, I assured her. Yes, my mother could be judgmental and disapproving, but it wasn't anything I couldn't handle. 'We don't need to go there,' I assured her. Oddly, she totally bought it, and so did I. Although I have had little niggles of thoughts over the years about my childhood, I assured everyone around me, and most importantly myself, that although it wasn't great, it was fine. I wasn't a victim. I hadn't 'suffered'.

It was my only sibling, my brother, who began to raise our childhood with me a couple of years ago. The psychologist he had taken himself off to see put the onus for his anxiety and upset emotions squarely onto our mother and her behaviours.

I didn't understand these comments really. Her generosity is measured but nevertheless she is generous. She worries about us and the grandchildren. She wants us to be happy. I felt sure she loved us. My brother tried to be a bit more specific. He has an incredible memory, remembering many details of our childhood that I don't remember even though I am older than him, but as God was his witness, he said to me, he couldn't remember ever having been hugged by her.

A little alarm bell sounded, because I had already scanned by memory banks for such an event, and I couldn't remember being hugged by her either. I had put this down to a poor long term memory. There is so very little I remember of the early part of my life. In recent days I have wondered if this relates to some sort of shutting off of my memories.

I began to notice my mother's comments about babies and child rearing. She has made these comments dozens of times before, but for the first time I started to analyze them for some data as to how I had been raised. Babies, she is fond of saying, should not be picked up unless they need to be fed, bathed or changed. Other than that, adults shouldn't fuss with them.

When my children were young my  mother was often quite put out by the number of times my husband cuddled them and held them, I began to remember. She was recently incensed when walking behind a grandmother who was carrying a baby whilst the parents of the child wheeled the empty pram. She was quite good with the efficiency of raising (grand)children, I mean of having them about her, though she abhored the mess, but I felt it was clear that she didn't ever want to have full responsibility of them. Rather, she was happy to help out so long as I was there. What I mean to say is that we didn't rely on her at all as a babysitter. It's interesting that I didn't put a judgement on that at the time. I just figured she was who she was and could only do what she could do.

It's not the post to go into my parents' dynamic but it illuminates those years to simply say that my parents were in something of a co-dependent/narcissistic dance. Both lovely people, my Dad wanted what he wanted and my Mum made sure that he got it. This kept her very busy and meant that neither parent was focused too often on their children's emotional needs.

When I was very pregnant with my fourth child both my mother and my aunt (her sister) made it crystal clear not to expect them to be there at the time of the birth. That is, I needed to find someone to be with the other children. I remember being very hurt. If you can't rely on your mother at such a time, then who can you rely on? But, one of my husband's brothers raced over to the house late one evening, as it turns out was the time I went into labor, and I have always felt most kindly towards hin for that act of generosity.

It wasn't until she told me, using her sister's presence to prop up her argument, that she couldn't attend my youngest son's Grandparent day because she was in a final for the Bowls team that I found myself unable to speak. Maybe this news tapped into some sort of wounding but I  sort of went into shock.

At my sons' school grandparents are welcomed two times in a boy's life (K-12) and here she was telling me that she was putting a game of Bowls ahead of her loyalty to her grandson.  I've asked nothing  of my husband's father and his wife but I got on the phone after that and explained that it was incumbent on him to attend the day no matter how he bloody felt about the school. I'd already had to ask a friend to fill in on the grandparents day at Nursery School and I wasn't putting my gorgeous, sensitive guy through that again!

In fact, my mother has never seen her grandson, Captain of Soccer for two years in a row,  play. She has not seen her grand daughter play in the Orchestra or sing in the choir. Thankfully, she did see her Final in the Rowing Championship that being close to her home, but she wasn't there to see her win the Photography Prize in Year 12, and she wasn't there to see my son open a dancing competition u holding his body sideways with one hand. She didn't get to hear a whole huge Assemby Hall gasp in awe. Or, their Cadet Tattoos. Or, to see my son's movie in the Art Festival. Or, to watch him in his plays. Or, to hear my son sing his solo in the annual music evening in the city. None of that was convenient. She loves to hear about their successes but she doesn't put herself out to attend.

However, how my mother responded to the grandchildren in later years doesn't tell me much, I don't think, about my own childhood, one way or the other. My brother and I didn't grow up in a house but rather on the top of the building that housed their commercial business. My mother adored running the business and this is what makes that time different and unique. We could not compete with the allure (and some might argue the necessity) of spending long hours with people other than her young children. I simply have no idea what my life was like in the early years, who looked after me or what stimulus I received.

I'm told that I was a very good baby. I fear that the reason for this goodness was that I had been trained to be quiet, recognizing that my tears would not bring my caregiver running. I don't know. I only know for sure that I caused next to no fuss whilst my brother exhibited much more neediness. I was aware of trying to mother him, of doing what I could for him, but he was anxious, no question.

It seems to be the case that I was absolutely no trouble to anyone at the same time that I was really quite quite lonely and anxious most of the time. I put my energies into my school work (I became obsessed with marks when my mother told me that the fourth grade teacher told her that I had got the academic prizes so far but wouldn't be able to keep this up), tonnes of ballet and piano. My mother did a good job of finding activities to enrich my life in this way. I started ballet at age 4, probably a wee too young but I grew to love it.

We didn't eat dinner with our parents but both my brother and I became attached to the Italian women whose job it was to feed us. I distinctly remember her coming up to clean shoes at night after she cleaned the kitchen and I loved that time of the day, when I'd go out onto the verandah and chat with her. My brother still visits with her periodically because there is a deep connection there whereas he tends to stay away from our mother, maintaining a superficial relationship with her. He knows that I look out for her and visit with her and he phones her every few weeks on average out of duty.

I regretfully must finally accept that a healthy attachment to my mother did not occur in infancy and that this has led to wounds and to a faulty attachment style in adult relationships. I have been vulnerable to forming attachments that leave me wanting to please, and willing to put my own needs as secondary. I've papered over the loneliness and emptiness that I have often felt, most importantly the sensitivity to a fear of abandonment. I've remained silent about my internal strife in an effort to tolerate feelings of shame and a lack of respect for myself in putting myself in these positions.

This realization of what has happened in my life has taken place over a number of years. I've read a great deal on the subject but it is only recently that I have come to understand that my situation at birth set me up for a love addiction. I suspect we can have an idea about this sort of situation but it's not until the discomfort reaches a certain level that the cloud of denial starts to break open a little and reality starts to surface; the illusion one has created starts to be seen for what it is.

I have no interest in discussing my situation with my mother or in blaming her for what happened. I am certain she did the best she could. I just want to free myself from the addiction. I simply want to heal. I'm in the early stages of accepting what has happened and recognizing that I have a long way to go. I don't know exactly where I an going but I am on my way. I don't doubt that there are many difficult days ahead but I am completely committed to healing. This is the first day of the rest of my life.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The need for affection and love

Back in the day, when I was in my twenties, married women who were the age that I am now often struggled with the idea that they could make a life of their own. It's not that they couldn't entertain themselves perfectly well, or find meaningful ways to engage with the world and support good causes. Rather, what they would have loved was for their husbands to come along with them in the new chapter of their lives, post-family raising; perhaps to travel the world, or simply to enjoy life in their own neighbourhood, spending some quality time together having fun. It doesn't have to be grand. My brother and his wife travel about Australia in a caravan (trailer) and have a blast.

As Anna Murdoch discovered when she tried to insist Rupert change, some things are entirely impossible. He was never going to quietly shift into a semi-retirement era of his life. Lonely, she turned to study and writing (hmmm, ring any bells??) and then later they divorced. Still beautiful and full of life, she found another man.

There are other options, of course. I had conversations with a woman in her late 50s at that time, when I was in my 20s, and she told me what a struggle it had been to accept an invitation to a cocktail party on her own. Eventually tired of declining social invitations, since her husband was so often unable to attend, she took the bold step of seeing her life in another way and started attending these occasions on her own. She would have adored for her husband to attend with her, but she reached this point where she realized that he wasn't going to come her way and thus, she didn't leave him, but she did create a life of meaning for herself in other personal and commercial pursuits. She took the next best step.

There is no doubt about the fact that I am an old-fashioned gal who very much wanted a close marriage and to raise a loving family. A little introverted, not really a party gal, for many years I was relatively happy to put much of my energies into raising a family. I did very little under my own steam, often explaining that I couldn't do this or that because of some family or wifely duty or other. For example, the next door neighbour, when we lived in the States, invited me to walk with her after dinner, but I couldn't conceive of leaving the family each evening to do the dishes on their own. (Don't skip over the last sentence. This is what many women do - little sacrifices for the happiness and convenience of others. It can quickly get out of control, so if you do this, remember to respect your own needs. Learn from me, that's the secondary reason for this blog!)

But, something happens to a woman in her 50s,  at the time that her intense mothering duties come to an end. She wants to attach herself again to her husband, or I do, and to reach more deeply into the union; to have some fun and lightness in the marriage. Still, I recognize, like Anna, that my husband is unlikely to change his ways, not in the near future and maybe not at all. I'm just starting to realize that I may have to partake some activities and fun on my own. I've booked myself into a meditation retreat later in the year and that's a huge step for me.

There's the additional factor that I am kinky. I have been shown what heaven it is to melt into the bimbo, empty-headed sexual space, and I suffer when I am not led there, or supervised there on a regular basis. Ideally, that space is far more than a sexual space. It is also a spiritually enriching experience for me; an opportunity for me to feel at home in my own skin, accepted for all that I am. But, even if I can't be entirely accepted for all that I am - my husband would never have expressed himself in this way to me, if I hadn't confessed of my kinkiness to him - I experience great succor from the sexual/sensual experience itself.

We had words recently and it is in these moments that people might reveal themselves. 'Unless you get that BDSM stuff...' There it was; a put down of my kink. This hurts more than I can say and I pull away again from having my needs met. I am happy to say that he does fulfil my needs on occasion and enjoys doing so, but it is the curse of someone who has needs out of the mainstream when their partner who can live without it speaks like that.

I had written this post up to this point when I went to my weekly group meditation. At the 50 minute point, maybe the 55 or 56 minute point, something happened; a consolidation I am sure of the reading that I have done this past week.

'I love myself' I said in my head.

I allowed the statement to be thought several more times since I have never had that happen before in a meditation and nor do I run around thinking that thought at all. This was a new thing.

Now, I have used another strategy off and on for the past few years. When I am sorely lacking in love, or feeel that way in any case, I hold one hand in the other, or allow fingertips of one hand to touch the other, and I tell myself, 'You are your own best friend. I won't ever leave you.' But, I love myself, that's a completely new thought. I definitely want to work some more with that.

Once upon a time, a good and kind correspondent of mine asked me what would be enough; how much love would be enough? It's a good question, and maybe the fact that this 'I love myself'  thought is entirely new in my late 50s speaks to this notion: How much love is indeed enough?

A month or so ago one of my sons met a girl. He didn't really want a 'relationship' with her but she got under his skin and that's what they currently have. She's been around to the house many times and last night my son asked if I had some beef casserole and brown rice for her. 'Of course,' I said. He whispered, 'She is eating crap right now.' As I passed over the bowl of food she began to tear up. 'Is it the steam?' I asked. She shook her head and moved away. My son whispered, 'She's overwhelmed at the kindness.' 'Darling, you are very welcome here,' I said. My heart wept for her.

She's had an awful start in life, a most unpleasant family life and she's trying hard to make it on her own. My son got up at the crack of dawn to take her to work because she has an injured back at the moment and he didn't want her lifting the heavy crates of milk. Apparently, the boss couldn't care less. It was at that moment I realized that my son is a carer. He likes to take care of people and it was no surprise that she wanted him as a boyfriend, sorely in need of love and care as she is.

I have zero doubt that our early experiences shape our needs and that some of us are left needing more shows of affection and love than others. At the same time, some of us are left needing to care for others more. That feels entirely right to them.

There are theories that abound about the love addict (chronic craving for romantic love) and the love avoidant (I want to care for you but don't smother me). This is important research and should be taken seriously. However, I think there is the simple scenario of some people needing to feel affection in and on their bodies due to their childhoods, and those that are particularly good about understanding this and providing it. I think of a 'Latin Lover' when I say this, someone who comes up behind his spouse/partner regularly and squeezes her, telling her that she is beautiful. It doesn't take all that much to keep such a person happy.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Being noticed; noticing

It's so common these days to wear black. I do it myself. It is not only useful, to work around black in a wardrobe, but it's a safe and practical option. It allows people to melt into the crowd of a sea of dark colour. I have no idea if people think like that, to melt into the crowd, but that's the result. If you sit at a cafe and watch the people walk by, especially in cool climates, of course, there is a non-descriptiveness about the crowd.

I was walking along a street in a neighbourhood suburb recently when I noticed a red, raspberry to be exact, woolen dress in the window. Given the grey skies, mid-winter here, it caught my eye immediately. I really loved it. At the time, price was the inhibiting factor, but now it is on sale. I want that raspberry dress and yet I vacillate. I'd like to say that they are noble reasons. I can live without it. I can save the money. Both are good reasons for letting the raspberry dress go. Yet it's not at all expensive now, won't break the bank, and I've already imagined in my mind the times when I can enjoy wearing it, to go to a restaurant or a show in town, or for a dinner.  But here's the thing. How do you hide in the crowd in a raspberry woollen dress when all about you are wearing black?

I sat with this question. Why is that so confronting for me, to be seen, to be watched; to be noticed? Why do I fear that the microscope is turned on me and yet why do I have moments of pleasure in being aware that on this or that particular day, I feel good and thus I probably look good?

I wonder if it is a bit of perfectionism. If I am aware of my faults, I too may be worried that they are also obvious to others. Or, am I worried that I have now reached an age of invisibility? Am I wanting to wear  a raspberry dress to remind myself that I am still a living force; maybe a greater living force than I have been in the past. There is that push and pull of opposite notions: a fear of being noticed at the same time as there is a part of me that wants to be noticed.

Last week we attended a dinner and we were introducing ourselves to the other people at the round table; standing and shaking hands before we all took our respective places. There was a short woman who was to sit next to my husband  and she and I vaguely remembered one another from the past. 'I think we did Pilates together, didn't we?' I said. You could see the recognition come over her face. 'Oh, you're the woman we all envy; the flexible woman who can do anything.'

It always surprises me that anyone should be jealous of me or talk behind my back. I can't explain why I would think that I am some sort of exception, but I suppose it goes to the fact that I tend to think I am lacking in various ways and to live in my skin on some days is not an enviable state.

Yet, on other days, like yesterday, until about 5 pm, I think most people would have loved a piece of my disposition. I felt light and happy; cared for and loved. Driving along on the way to a family gathering, lunch, I felt full of love and even more so when the various generations of my side of the family shared a few happy and connecting hours together.

It's up and down, I know, when what I seek and aim for is stability and flow. I'm grateful for the good feelings, absolutely blessed, but wish I could short circuit the debilitating downs.

A young man ran into my car on the freeway yesterday afternoon. He stopped and put on his emergency lights but I made the decision to keep going because it would have been extremely dangerous for both of us to stay where we were. He followed me for about 20 minutes until he finally found an opportunity to indicate to move to a emergency space and we very civilly handled the matter. I shook hands with them both and they wished me a good weekend. I was shaking like a leaf but still, it's who I am, to try to cope and to contain any upset, and to be pleasant.

The accident was a reminder of how we as humans must be prepared for circumstances which can destabilize our nervous systems and do our best to return to stability. A friend of mine who was in a much more serious accident last year quite literally shook for weeks after the event. Being a spiritual person she had faith it was part of the recovery process but it's destabilizing to feel so shook up. I have come to loathe this sort of nervous system disruption.

We carry these wounds within us, don't we; wounds that are triggered all over again in some conversations and some situations. I read recently that we need to learn to love ourselves, including those parts of ourselves which we wish weren't there.

I suspect that it is via the skills I am garnering in the meditation process that leads me to a more aware state of my own moments of insecurity and feelings of failure. I have wondered lately if what I have done to date is to run from those aspects of myself that I don't like rather than to accept them as part of the package that is me, this self in this body, made up of strengths and weaknesses.

I have become more aware that certain people in certain relationships are more capable of triggering a painful experience or moment from my past, a pain that lingers in the body and the unconscious mind. It's not necessarily the case, or at all the case, that they did something wrong but rather that they stepped on a wound that had yet to heal. I've come to realize that this circumstance has less to do with them as it does with me and unconscious wounds.

I think that when this sort of self-knowledge starts to simmer up into the consciousness the best strategy is to be kind to oneself. You're a good person with wounds. Now that you know that; can see and feel the wounds, they are intensified. I suspect, however, that the intensification means that the wounds will heal faster.  I think you have to be prepared to go to the place of grief about some circumstance or event, but if you can manage that, the discomfort starts to lose its grip on you. Maybe the inner child is heard and heals.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Mindfulness of emotions

I happened to be sitting next to a brother in law over the weekend, at a dinner, in a situation where he didn't have any flexibility to move about. Sure, he played with his mobile phone under the table but he was forced to remain still. This is rare so I made use of this opportunity to ask him questions. He is in the medical field and a most capable practitioner who keeps many of his opinions to himself.

What had been wrong was his father, was it bipolar, I asked? He discarded this thought, seeing the upside of the condition, the mania, as needing to be far more pronounced and severe than he had seen in his father. Well, what of his sister, was that a long depression, or a state of intense anxiety that had lasted her whole life? He saw it as depression, and gave the depression a fancy medical name. This is why she went into hibernation for long stints, he said.

It was at this moment that I felt sorry for him. Here he was, a most capable and knowledgeable medical practitioner who knew his family members needed treatment, but being family, and wanting to have relationships with them, he could do nothing to help them in the mental health sphere due to their lack of self awareness and denial.

I admitted something to him; something that I felt compelled to say out loud. I said that I was vehemently opposed to guns because if I had had access to one in my life, there had been moments when I might have turned it on my husband. He made me manic at times. "The only thing he understands is when someone gets as angry as he does," he replied. "That's the thing he pays attention to."

"Yes!" I said. "That's absolutely right. I hadn't thought about it quite like that. Just that I had come to the end of my rope, but yes, that's the way it goes. When I get mad that settles him down right away."

"Well, don't you think this is all more than a co-incidence," I asked him. Very quietly, he said, and wow, what an incredible thing for him to say out loud to me, "It's a gene. It must be a gene."

A little part of me healed in that moment; that what I had thought and what I had experienced for decades was real.

On the Sunday we were in the car, looking for a park in the city which wasn't forthcoming, when we saw a car park.

"How much is it?" my husband asked.
"$14 flat rate" my son replied clearly from the back of the car.
"What?" my husband shot back, panicky.
"It's $14", I said, slightly louder.
"You don't have to use that tone with me", my husband replied angrily.
I said nothing back.

 "What gets into him?" I asked my son when we were walking along together out of earshot.
"Mum, when he feels anxious anything said is experienced in an elevated tone. You need to speak very softly when he is experiencing anxiety."
My goodness, that kid is perceptive. He's a creative sort, but in another life he really should do psychology.

It's the situations in which I have found myself, both moment to moment and finding myself without the ability to have some control over my own life generally, that have lead me to find ways of peace in a frazzled environment. Recently, I've been using a strategy called 'mindfulness of emotions' and I am putting a link to an information sheet here.

Instead of running away from the harmful and/or distressing emotion I am experiencing, I go to my meditation cushion and acknowledge the emotion. I sit with it and determine where it is in my body that the emotion sits. Invariably I find that my throat is constricted, that my chest is tight and that my left shoulder and lower to middle back is experiencing pain. I breathe into the constrictions and pain. I breathe slowly acknowledging the in and out breath and the gaps between the in and out breath, and, bit by bit, I start to feel the body recovering. I start to feel my mind relaxing.

I like to exercise out of the house every day, but not in an angry way. I don't like taking any negative emotions for a walk. Rather, I sit very still with upsetting emotions these days and let them pass. I stay in the moment as much as possible and acknowledge the full length and breadth of all and every emotion.

It probably all sounds voodoo to those not used to these strategies or this sort of challenge in life, but I am happy to say that it is working. I see things more clearly. I settle more quickly. I feel more comfortable within myself. I no longer feel a victim. There is an impermeability to my sense of peace. I can love wholeheartedly and with empathy without feeling burdened by the happenings about me. My meditation cushion is my most valuable possession. I would go to no desert island without it.