Thursday, August 31, 2017

Authentic self

In a series of days - 90 days in fact -  that roll on for me like a man in the desert hanging on to hope that over the next hill there will be an oasis -  there was this one reprieve. My husband acted like an owner.

It probably wasn't longer than 30 minutes - maybe significantly shorter - but I was aware for every minute of that particular day, which was spent mostly alone and mostly doing menial tasks, that I was light, untroubled, bright, buoyant, happy.

I knew it was just a little thing, not likely to lead to anything else, or to be repeated any time soon. Still, I enjoyed every last drop of the glass of water that had been given to me and the journey that day was smooth. I put one foot in front of the other with a light heart.

I knew that I was still likely to remain alone in the desert for considerable time to come, maybe for a very, very long time. I stayed in the Now, neither worrying about what happened yesterday nor wondering about how to deal with tomorrow. 

This is my authentic self.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Acknowledging needs

It was a pleasant day yesterday, a walk and brunch with friends to celebrate one of the girl's birthdays, followed by a walk to one of the girl's houses, since she insisted I borrow a particular book. From there, I had intended to jump on the train, but the sun had come out, finally, and I was no longer cold. I decided to walk home.

It was quite a long walk. I thoroughly enjoyed it and one of the few thoughts I had whilst walking, that I can remember, is the question, 'Why hadn't I thought to take more long walks like this?'

By the time I got home, acknowledgement of my weariness began to sink in. After cleaning the kitchen I got into bed and I must have slept solidly for about two hours. Got up, got dressed, made dinner, fed one son and myself and out the door again to do a little shopping with him for his oncoming birthday.

On return home, I took in that my husband, home late and in his study, hadn't helped himself to the food I had left for him, and for another son who would return home very late.

So very weary, I just didn't have the energy to be that perfect little hostess tonight. I washed the dishes and informed my husband that there was food for him ready to eat, just to warm it up.

I had a bath. I went to sleep. I slept solidly for over 8 hours.

This morning, whilst I was still asleep, my husband made overtones out of the blue, something he does sometimes, for reasons I can't quite identify. It is as if something about his world, how he feels, isn't quite right, and this attention that he seeks, to give or to receive, is an attempt to quiet a feeling he has. He was giving me attention, and yet, I felt, instinctively, that this was him quietening his own uncomfortable feelings. It is as if, by giving me attention I'll give him attention back and things will be put back to right; whatever he is feeling will be relieved.

We do, of course, all need attention. We all need to be comforted. But, let's be truthful here, he gets the lion's share of attention. I listen to him. I feed him. I do the things he wants to do, in the way he wants them done, when he wants them done. I make it possible for him to do what he believes he needs to do, in the way he believes he needs to do them by being the support person in his life - attending to the children, the house, the food, the washing and ironing, the changing of the sheets, the cleaning of the bathroom, the one who organizes vacations and social occasions. I acknowledge his world view of everything, whether I believe it or nor, because that is what he wants.

And if he is so busy that I need to be wholly independent, I become that person. I make zero demands at the same time as I continue to be that support person - the listener, the cook, the cleaner, the organizer. I don't ever leave my family to their own devices. They know they can depend on me to have things organized and sorted, even when I am away.

As time has gone by, and most particularly this year as I have been asked to be an independent person nearly the entire time, I have noticed something. I have come to question the reasons behind someone who has distanced themselves from me quite suddenly becoming close again for a time. Are they trying to quieten some sort of discomfort within themselves?

There's the push and the pull, and either when it is too close or too far, there needs to be force in the opposite direction. It is as if they cannot be too close, or too far, before they need to turn away or towards me. It is as if I am necessary, but when they sense the necessary nature of me in their lives, they take fright and pull away, only to repeat the cycle.

When I had a night off last night, effectively choosing not to begrudgingly motor on through exhaustion, but rather choosing to do something for myself, to rest, this wasn't about anyone else but me. I was nurturing myself. But, somehow, I think, this was interpreted to be about the other, about how this made him feel.

We become used to things. We can become used to watching out for the other - their moods, their emotions, their ups and downs and the ever-present possibility that their negative feelings will be emoted in a toxic manner. We sort of 'pooper scoop' to ensure that the other is comfortable enough with the world, and with us, that this doesn't happen.  It becomes all about them and how they feel. In other words, we stop even being aware of our own needs. Everything becomes about the other, until the other notices some sort of little difference in the service and feels the need to make that right, but for us, or for them?

This is the instinctive feeling I got this morning; that I wasn't being given a little attention because I felt low. I hadn't done or said anything to suggest that I felt low. My behavior in going to sleep, not serving dinner at well past 9 pm, identified that I was tired, nothing more than that. So, if this was happening  under the banner of him wanting to feel better, or to coral me into being that person he relied on, willing and wanting to give service,  I wasn't ready to be that person. I was sleeping. I was looking after my own needs, as I had been asked to do for the lion's share of the most recent past.

I quite naturally take to the role of looking after people. Whether this is my authentic self or an adaption to my circumstances, I don't know. I know that a few night's ago my son who doesn't have a washing machine right now came around with his laundry before an overseas trip and I wanted very much to do this for him, because it's just part of the love I feel for  him. I want to help him, especially when he is so frantically busy, especially when he cares for me with such tenderness.

I want to be in a relationship, to have relationships, that truly meet my needs as well as the other. This is a fact that I have a tendency to ignore.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Moments of happiness

As you develop a closer relationship with yourself - being aware of emotional states coming and going - you will begin to see that there are moments of happiness, possibly dispersed among periods of less desirable states - feelings of being overwhelmed, anxious, lonely; bored. When people ask you how you are politeness and a sense of appearing 'pulled together' may have you answering 'Fine' when in fact over the course of the commute to work, as an example, all sorts of troubling thoughts have drifted in and out of your mind. Why is your son so unwilling to do his homework and where are you going to find the money for a new car? We all have these thoughts.

Nearly three months ago now we took a vacation in Bali, my first time there. It was a special vacation since the fares there were a gift from my children. From the moment I set eyes on the place, and especially when I set eyes on the villa I had rented for us, I loved everything about Bali. It's hard not to enjoy yourself on such a vacation but even so I was aware at first of some not so perfect thoughts coming and going. My husband had been particularly obsessive and perfectionist - preoccupied over the past several months - and we had to get to know one another again in a more intimate way.

As one day turned into another, I noticed that nearly all thought, to the extent this is possible, had drifted away. I felt not the slightest bit of pain or tension in my body. I was floating through the days in a state of pure bliss. I took to wearing the $9 floaty long dresses I bought there - colorful patterns - with a pair of sandals, and a pair of panties underneath, that's it. Life was blessedly simple and I loved every minute of it.

A couple of moments stand out as being ones of total and complete happiness. My husband was busy doing something inside the villa when I decided to use the communal pool, about three steps from our front door. We had our own infinity pool inside the compound, but the communal pool, empty, spoke to me. Ever so quietly I breast stroked up and down the pool and as I did so I followed my fingers making the strokes, watching my hands closely as they returned to make straight lines in front of me. I was surrounded by greenery wherever I looked and the thought occurred to me that there was nothing more than this. This was bliss. I wondered if I had found heaven.

On another occasion we were on the motorbike my husband had rented. At first I was nervous. The traffic appears chaotic to the untrained eye. However, I quickly learned to settle. Vehicles drive fairly slowly by Western standards and everyone is so polite and accepting. At one point we were at an intersection and the thought does occur - how are we all going to work this out? I think my husband looked a small truck driver in the eye, like - Can I go? - and he nodded as if to say, 'Yeah, no worries, you go'. Off my husband went and on the back I put up my hand as if to say, 'Thanks'. He laughed. 'Crazy Aussies', he thought.

It was a happy moment, but not the one I particularly remember. The moment I particularly remember is when I was quite simply aware of being right behind my husband on the bike and holding onto him around the waist, the two of us off on an adventure, him leading and me holding on for the ride. I I felt...complete. I felt I had arrived home.

The ten days quickly came to an end. The Bali we saw and experienced may well quickly come to an end too. Villas are sprouting up everywhere beside the rice paddies of Ubud to the point there may soon not be enough land for the people to grow the crops that have fed the people of Bali until now. I hope and pray this does not happen but greed may devour this beautiful place.

My life with my husband is all or nothing. Either he is worrying himself to an early death about something or other - obsessively and compulsively devoting his thoughts to one - or two or three - projects that consume his time and thoughts - or he is completely relaxed, such as he was in Bali. To this end I know there is always hope of other blissful states.

Yet, I have to get through - from one preoccupation and project - to the next time when he can relax; when he can decide it is time to 'let go'. This is, and has been for some time, my mission.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


Yesterday morning I sent my husband an article that I thought it would be useful for him to read. It talked about a symptom of ADHD - impulsivity - and offered some strategies a person could use to help with that tendency.

For example, some people blurt out what they think in a business meeting for fear of forgetting the thought when they do get a chance to air their views. If such a person were to jot down the thought this would prevent the feeling of desperation to get out the thought at an inappropriate time. Hilary Clinton did this several times in her debates with Donald Trump.

In the case of a personal conversation a person might note that his or her hand is clenched as a clue to take a few deep breaths rather than talk over someone or go into a monologue, rather than to remain a conversationalist.

Last evening, there was a brief discussion about health. I think my husband mentioned a particular vitamin that he was out of, or something related to a vitamin or mineral. I assured him that I wasn't discounting what he said but that lifestyle issues were an important part of aging in a healthy way. So, the idea is to get yourself into a situation where anxiety is easily managed - eat well, exercise most days, enjoy your life and keep your body motoring along in a consistent and gentle way.

He debunked the importance of lifestyle, as he always does. That's okay. We have differing views on the matter. But, he did raise an important point. Lots of people have lots of anxiety in the form of responsibility and it doesn't do them any harm, as far as we can tell.

Of course, I happen to think that my husband's anxiety has done him a lot of harm but again that relates to the lifestyle choice of carrying his anxiety with him nearly 24/7 for a very long time. He doesn't have a healthy lifestyle balance. Anyway, I can't do much about that at this time and it's not the point of the journal entry.

It got me thinking about anxiety - the kind of anxiety that makes you feel stressed, miserable, under the gun, tired and worried - and it's a very inward thinking, non-relating sort of thing. When overly stressed it's a rare person that is sexually aroused. Stress closes down the desire for life that is abundantly available when stress is low and a person is well rested on a daily basis.

When someone is stressed they tend to not behave as well as they might,  perhaps demanding that their beliefs and ideas are most important and require all the air space; indeed,  snuffing any other ideas out. The ideal situation goes that we need to act and think sympathetically towards such people. It is, after all, some sort of anxiety showing up in a dysfunctional communication style. We are asked to walk in the other person's shoes and see into their insides. Ah, yes, the rudeness relates to anxiety!

Yet, it actually doesn't work that way after a time. Rather, the tendency becomes to realize that it is better to disengage from this dysfunctional conversation (monologue) and to keep your opinions to yourself.

When you keep your opinions to yourself, you keep yourself to yourself and in this way there is no relate-ion-ship. You remain alone, in essence protecting the relationship from combustion; rather, keeping the relationship on hold until, and if, behavior improves.

To be aware of a tendency to be impulsive and to learn the strategies that enable you to have control of any impulsivity is not only a gift to yourself but to all the other people in your life. Impulsivity drowns those people around you until one day you realize that all the people around you have their heads under the water.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Mind/body reading

In the process of helping out a friend I recently volunteered to have my body 'read' to aid a student of mind/body practice. In the course of doing so it was determined that although I have an open 'third eye' and a particularly loving and giving heart - that is to say not all the chakras are blocked -  I have considerable pain stored in my body. Fundamentally, I hide from the world, so the student said.

Whether we are speaking symbolically or literally, I related to the message. I certainly didn't, nor couldn't refute her words. I grew up on the top floor of my parents' business, which they worked seven days a week. They were devoted to the business and to their marriage, so being hid away, out of sight and mind of men who went there to 'drown their sorrows' was central to my life.

This childhood of mine together with being born with a quiet, contemplative disposition was a complete mismatch. I needed nurturing, to be integrated with my parents before I could go out into the world to feel safe. Unfortunately, that didn't happen.

It was decided on the day of the reading that my intuition was high, an openness to new ideas apparent, but that this wisdom could be impeded by intellect. This is rather interesting to me since I am quite happy to become 'lost' in academia at the same time as I believe my value and truth is best explored through story - exploring the universality of being human on this earth, together with the specificity of character.

Also, if someone has been through the rigors of academic training the openness of ideas can only go so far before the mind springs back and asks about a person's qualifications to make certain statements. I will ultimately seek some sort of evidence; use my rational thinking mind to make an assessment about an alternative therapy.

In fact, I am by far the most joyous when I dance. My body craves rhythmic movement. There was no mention of this sort of thing, that this body that they were analyzing to death actually would have loved to move to the music in the background. I guess they were looking for the problems to fix. It's important to remember this when offered a therapy. We are all made up of attributes and deficits and a practitioner, almost by definition, will focus on the 'problem'.

Generalizations are not easy and there are always exceptions to a rule. Generally speaking, writers, particularly of fiction, hide away. That's what they do. Alone, they commune with the world through the process of writing about the world, based on their observations. They watch. They listen. They write. Apparently, I'm a watcher. No surprises there. In fact there were no surprises anywhere. I had to admit that the observations made of my body did line up for me, in one way or another. It was how the observations might be interpreted that was at issue.

I was labelled a 'submissive', not by the student who wouldn't have known that terminology but by the teacher of the student. I wasn't happy with the inference because it implied that in some way I wasn't being honest, part of the hiding. It also implied that I was not being my true self.

It's not straightforward because these sorts of people who bunker down into their modality of choice seem to suggest that there are choices when there are not necessarily choices at all. I didn't bother to say that to him exactly. I did say, 'Well, when you live with someone who insists on the dominant role, what other role is there?' I said it, not really in an open way, but in a 'let's deal with reality here, shall we?' way because two people can be sarcastic. I'm not the pushover he thinks I am.

The pushover thing, that was brought up too. My nose spoke to them, that there is a fire underneath the quiet disposition. Go too far and you'll meet my ire.That is not news to me either.

This 'combat' between the teacher and myself, some sort of effort to get me to react, was compounded in a physical way, a very strange minute. There was some doubt as to what to call my pelvis, a slightly 'tilting' pelvis perhaps. The string came out to better make that judgment until the teacher decided that the best way was to press on my pelvis. He did so, not in a careful doctor/nurse kind of way but with such force that I was in considerable pain and discomfort. An angry red weal formed on my skin. It still hurts as I write this in the middle of the night. Why did he do that?

Some of the material they wrote in their conclusions, I had offered to them, and they concurred. I told them that I had only recently played with the notion of self-love and was working on generating those feelings in myself. I was working on being a separate person, not enmeshed, not responsible for the decisions made without my input and with any desire for my input. Though, I was angry about that, the lack of input and I said that, but in a controlled way. I decided to remain controlled in a day of stupidity really.

In fact at times I actually chose to disassociate from what was happening to me. I chose not to listen as they said confronting things about me as if I wasn't there. I only really got angry when I left. I said my goodbyes hastily and rushed for my getaway car only to find the garage locked. Back in again to get the code and as the gates slowly drew open the thought of leaving prison entered my mind, how that's how it must feel, free from the clutches of people who could taunt and taint you.

I felt stuck, they concluded, not an unreasonable conclusion. I have a need for safety and that feeling hasn't been available to me for some time, and yet is leaving this place a safer place? To their credit there was no suggestion of this sort of thing, no attempt was made to 'solve' my dilemma outside of certain recommendations that related to deep tissue work and emotional release work to get at the locked emotional pain in my body.

As I sit here I ask of myself, 'are there negative emotions' stuck in the body?  I feel it in my throat quite regularly now and I could release it onto my mother but I don't and I won't. The constriction in my throat troubles me but it's not trapped either. It's just sitting there under the banner of 'frustration'. I see it for what it is. I work with it. I talk about it even but not to the person in question, that's all. That's reasonable, since she couldn't cope with any dissent or suggestion that her behavior hasn't been good enough.

In thinking more about this, that feeling in my throat, the constriction which they identified as 'soft tissue' also relates to my understanding over time that only intensified as we aged, that any idea I expressed to my husband would receive an immediate response. That is to say, his strong tendency towards verbal impulsivity meant that conversations could often be compromised. In the past few months, I had, I admit, given up trying.

I think my truth, something they seem to think I am keeping hidden, might actually be twofold. I'm a person trying to break free of the past, coming to terms with my past and unmet needs. I'm a person trying to break free of roles designated, putting other peoples' needs ahead of my own, such that it looks like I have no needs. I want my needs to be taken seriously. I want to feel nurtured in the same way that I have nurtured.

However, and this is the twofold aspect, there can be no doubt and there is no doubt in my own mind, that I revel in the submissive/feminine role. I feel most instinctively and naturally joyous when my heart, mind and nature is free to be me. I feel more naturally me in a dress or skirt, soft, light, free, content. This sense of abundance is felt in the submissive frame of mind which means, as I search for words that explain this feeling, that there is a dominant presence somewhere in my life, if only on the periphery.

There is the case for someone who is responsible or protective being identified as a dominant presence, but this isn't exactly what I mean. I acknowledge that no-one is rational all the time, or reasonable all the time, or even available or nurturing more than occasionally, due to their own needs and demands, or preoccupations. I take this into allowance because I must. But, acting dominant - responsible and protective - is not the quality that allows me a sense of freedom leading to a sense of submissive joy. A lawyer could be responsible and protective, or a doctor. There must be more.

To feel happy and content I need to feel safe. To feel safe, there must be calm, some element of steadiness as well as some acknowledgement of my presence. The truth is that if left to my own devices I would create the environment for myself and the life that felt most innately, creatively and aesthetically pleasing for myself and my loved ones. I really could do a better job of this than anyone else that I know. That I don't do this speaks to my submissive nature wherein I continue to allow sub-optimal outcomes to please other people's sensibilities above my own.

When I was in my late teens I was working as a part time waitress when a couple approached the Menu written on a blackboard. He was attentive to her, touching her and smiling at her. I thought, 'That's what I want, that attention and interest in my pleasure. I want to feel cherished.'

It's not having the spotlight on me, or needing someone to be there endlessly. Introverts don't want anyone there all the time. They feel they can't breathe when that happens. But, they do need regular little reminders of their worth. They do need to allow their light side to be given freedom to play; to levitate even. When the world is relatively calm such there is a sense of safety in this way, the path is cut for entry into the submissive space where I can glow on even the gloomiest day. All the body reading in the world won't pick up that subtle truth of mine. I'm not going to waste my time trying to explain to them what they don't want to learn. You on the other hand might just get it.