Sunday, March 18, 2018

Looking at what is

Over the past several years, bit by bit, I've come to understand myself and how I got to here. I've acknowledged and accepted that I was either born with an anxious and sensitive disposition, or my upbringing led me to be that way. Maybe it was a bit of both since both my parents were anxious and so it makes sense I inherited that anxiety to some degree.

I've acknowledged and accepted as well that I am attracted to men, and have always been attracted to men, who offer at least some degree of positive energy; where I can hover down under their wing. That space feels right.

Another way of saying the above is that I am an empath and as such there are some pitfalls as well as strengths of which to be aware. So, I am happy to look after the other, to be led by the other (so long as it isn't onto a landmine) and for the other to, generally speaking, have his way.

I've listened to lot of complaining in my life, to the other's story. I've cajoled, or stayed silent, or agreed, for the benefit of the other, and for peace. I've put my own needs second, or third, or fourth...

I've discovered that there are stages that an empath might go through, the first one being a fight or flight stage where the body is pumping out adrenaline. Over time he or she might wander into a so called 'resistance' stage, a chronic stage where the body is producing more cortisol than it should. From there, an empath can find herself or himself in a 'burnout' stage where the empathic skills are in a state of hibernation as the person rests mind and body.

As far as I can tell I must have been doing something right, because people whose body and mind has endured what I have tend to end up with chronic inflammatory conditions like fibromyalgia. I don't have any serious conditions like that.

I have been aware at times however that my body is in trouble. I realized at a few different junctures in my life that cardio work isn't right for the empath whose nervous system is in disarray. Many years ago I was doing a step class when I realized that if I continued I might implode. With great reluctance, I left the class. In more recent times, I found it was not possible to take my agitated nervous system out, even for a walk.

This is what led to my interest in Meditation, Yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi and QiGong. All of these types of activities calmed my nervous system. Instinctively, I knew this was right. And, once I knew how to settle my nervous system I could add in walking and a mixture of walking/jogging. All walks are now most pleasurable and I can snuff off worry at these times.

In the same way, time alone, time in the garden, time ironing and listening to music at the same time, time cooking alone in the kitchen settle me.

I love sexual situations where I can be the doll, but something about the learning of myself has meant that I need the other to keep a close eye on my pleasure or positive spirit in that mode. In the same way that I experienced burnout being the empath who endures for the other, so being in situations where I am not really enjoying or getting off on the sexual situation can be quite destructive to my state of mind.

I recognize in this burnt out phase a degree of selfishness. I think, in a sense, that's growth on my part. In my own way, probably not in the best way, but in the way I know, I am standing up for my right to (gosh, how to put this) have a calm and settled nervous system.

I have learned that an empath whose nervous system is upset can be supported with various measures. I am finding relatively high doses of magnesium and zinc to be helping. I try to sleep consistently well but don't always manage it. It's important to support good sleeping patterns with a calm nightly routine, magnesium taken before bed, perhaps a meditation immediately before, or whilst in bed.

I drink a cup of coffee a day but I think I do better when I avoid coffee. Really good food also supports my system. The idea is to have some protein with each meal and personally I find that carbohydrates, sugar and most dairy is best avoided. The exception to this rule is a small amount of natural yoghurt. Cheese, which I love, is an occasional treat.

If one is born, or develops early in life, an anxious and worrying disposition, then that's what it is. This is one of the challenges of being born that person. Once this is a conscious understanding, the 'isness' of this state, then you can decide what you want to do about it; what can be done about it.

The complicating factor, of course, is that in relationship to a more narcissistic character, that being his or her challenge that developed early in life, there is going to be agitation.  This is inevitable. The nervous system is going to be challenged, for both of you, but in different ways.

Certainly, I have discovered many strategies to counter this assault to the nervous system, but I am definitely yet to perfect all of them. I stop participating in discussions that are circulatory in nature, or that begin to morph into something lacking value, or that could considerably upset me unnecessarily. When I feel frustration brewing inside me, a stealing of my energies, I find refuge in another place. I excuse myself.

But, it is very hard to alter these life long tolerances for the other. The other is so used to stealing one's energy, so used to having an audience, so used to getting the agreement of the other, doing what suits the other. It's almost akin to Jane Fonda announcing to Ted Turner that she was a born again Christian. It must feel like a sort of abandonment. 'What do you mean you are looking after your nervous system?'

As recovery of the nervous system takes place, there's the opportunity to live, and play, in a new way. Some things can't change. I can't suddenly be a leader. I can't suddenly stop my kinky thoughts or getting pleasure in particular ways. But, I do think it is possible that I can say, even if just to myself, 'there's only so much I can tolerate without the situation becoming unhealthy for me. I know my limitations as an empath, as a person with a delicate nervous system'.

By all means let's engage with a transfer of energy, but let's play fair, both of us. See me for who I am, for a situation over which I have only so much control. Take that into account. Give me the release of pleasure by watching my responses closely and seeing what turns me on, and what does not. Being me, it doesn't always feel safe to share that in words. Being you, words that hint at criticism make you defensive.

What needs to be avoided is that I feel too often that I must protect myself from toxicity. To this end, the other must know himself well too, the situation over which he has only so much control, I understand, but a consciousness of his less fine quirks is required. Two flawed people, consciously aware, can make a perfectly fine union, assuming they both work hard to achieve it. It's about waking up to what is.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Definition of love

I wonder if we don't expect too much of ourselves to experience a particular kind of love.

In spiritual terms, 'God' is within all of us, and we are all one. This feeling isn't available to me constantly, but I can certainly close my eyes and feel a loving being, feel the connection to all beings. These feelings are felt by people attuned to the non-duality of life.

Yet, the words 'I love you', what's the definition, the meaning of those words? What they mean to me maybe they don't mean to you. Feelings of love are not really quantifiable.

We can love the world. That's almost easier to do than loving a particular person with behaviors that aren't easily understood. It's quite a skill to practice unconditional love. It's not easy to give up all expectations and see what comes back. What if what comes back doesn't fill your cup?

Some people say, well, love is a verb. It makes sense. When someone acts in a loving way, the mind and body process this positively.

You can express the sentiment that you love someone, and maybe, the words stand on their own. Yet, the receiver must feel them, no?

Or, do we sometimes steel ourselves against the full blast of those words? Maybe, they can't be felt unless we are feeling lovable.

One time my husband had a terrible thing happen to him. Nasty. We felt in a foreign country, isolated and alone. In those terrible days, all we had were each other.

The post arrived and there was a letter from someone not all that close to my husband, expressing his condolences and giving my husband heart that he could rise from this fall. Instinctively, with no words spoken we hugged each other tight and cried.

One little act of loving kindness, a crack in the dike, had caused the tears, previously held back, to gush forth.

I tend to rely on the feelings within my body. When thoughts become too muddled it is the body that doesn't lie. This has been my operating stance.

If my body is screaming out to me that something is askew, I stop and note it. This is not to say that my body is always right but it's not right to ignore these messages either.

Sometimes I think that the best we can do is adopt a loving and open heart, but at the same time, if one has a particularly loving and open heart, the head has to be brought into the calculations. Is the situation serving you? Is it elevating you? A very giving person can find it difficult to bring an unsatisfactory situation to a close, and some people know that and use it to their advantage.

When I am working with young children I adopt a non-judgmental state of mind and an unconditional stance of affection and good will towards them. I meet each little being as a unique soul and they seem to like that place in which to meet me. I'm amazed how many little things want to work with me. A little girl said this week, 'I wish I wasn't smart. Then, I could be with you more.' The honesty of the young child!

It's true, that as a teacher of sorts, I enjoy working with smart children. It's an ego thing. When you teach a child and they get it, you feel you succeeded. It's an instinctive thing and you can't really help that feeling. I tend to help the lowest functioning kids and the highest functioning kids and there's a big difference in one's own state depending on the group.

It would be lying to say that reading with a child who is struggling to use phonics is a walk in the park but at the same time it's priceless when they feel a sense of achievement at their particular task. Maybe you breathe deeper in moments, because you're struggling for energy to be mega enthusiastic at certain moments, but that's the job. They deserve and need your undivided cheer leading capacity.

If someone loves  you in a high-functioning, relatable way - they send you notes of love or adoration, perhaps a little note simply saying that they were thinking of you today, as an example - this all feels very easy and delightful. Flowers are a delightful gift, a compliment is a delightful gift. This sort of show of love delights us and we love to be delighted. It uplifts us. It makes us smile. It is all so easy, so loving, so sweet.

So, what happens to love, when the love has hunkered down and maybe looks like something else? Delight is rare. Rather, the love is assumed, has very little to do with words or behaviors. It's just there, perhaps one person thinks. I am loving you. Why aren't you feeling it?

I think love demands a degree of sharing, and then a deeper level of sharing. Not everything explored and witnessed is going to be to our liking but we've seen ourselves in the other by then. It's that spiritual sort of love where you've reached the stage of unconditional love.  You love this person with all of their flaws. You just love them using your heart and not much at all of your head. That can be a scary place to hang out. It can defy logic.

Love doesn't die. I don't think it works that way. But, it can lie dormant. It can go to sleep. We can say we love our new couch, or our car, or our coat. So, it's all a bit nebulous since we happily throw away those objects and replace them with new objects. The word 'object' can be a worrying one to me as it pertains to kink. Toys are easily discarded or ignored so be sure you are a loved toy, that it's  a role given and received with love.

True love, that of another Being, doesn't just fade away. When someone has helped build the landscape of a heart, they always dwell within.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Words from the grave

I've had a plan in mind for some time, to write in a small journal to each of my children. I'm not sure that I'd give the journals to them whilst I was alive. Rather, the journals will sit in the safe and when I am gone my words to them will be my gift.

I don't think I am especially good at speaking my most heartfelt thoughts. I try. Sometimes, I write them on a birthday card. Mostly, I allow my behavior to indicate my love for them. I think one son knows that my getting up early specifically to pack him breakfast (I call them 'care packages') is a sign of my love, whilst another son knows my research into drawing classes is an indication of my attention and approval of the life he has chosen.

Generally speaking, I would have to say that my love for them probably has the tendency to be suffocating. When one son came around recently to do his washing when his washing machine broke, he found me ironing the pillow sleeps and said, 'Mum, there is no pillowslip police. You don't need to do that.' Of course, they'd fiercely deny that, but they've made noises that I can be a little too motherly. I know.

Anyways, I'm going to have a little go at noting some points that come to say about each of them here and let's just see. We'll start with the first born.

Adorable baby. In those days you stayed in hospital for a week, and this was deeply bonding. I talked to him constantly, particularly at night when no-one was around, telling him how special he was, my "special blend" boy.

We went everywhere together but still in the mode of thought that I needed to prove myself, I took on a postgraduate degree. It was my sister-in-law who enrolled me in that first week in the hospital. My  mother came up once a week to mind him whilst I went to my lectures but mostly, somehow, I just did the work at home whilst he was asleep, and made use of a day care place when I had to do school rounds. Gosh, I'd forgotten that!

He was hungry, starving for food and stimulus. It was at around the 4 month mark when I couldn't satisfy his need for food that my mother said to me to stop listening to the maternal nurse and to feed him. He golloped down brains and mixtures of beef and vegetables, spat out fruit.

That first year of his life was the year I was the most thin in my adult life. He so needed to be stimulated that staying home wasn't an option. I'd put him into the pram and we'd walk this long block around the city. We'd be gone for hours and he'd take in everything. If I tried to enter a clothing store, he'd scream, and I'd do a U-turn out of there at a fast clip and keep walking the streets. Once he could walk we had two outings to parks each day. As long as we were moving, all was well.

A memory: He was between one and two years old. I walked by the laundry and found that he had been playing with the box of detergent, tipping it out, but now had a spoon trying to get it back into the package. I walked away, happy he was trying to sort the matter out. When I walked back he was just finishing tipping the lot on the floor to make a mound. I called out his name and he tipped the lot before I could get to him. Much later, my husband pointed out that I did a similar thing when told to 'Stop' doing something. There's a wilful side to our nature. He's no submissive and I think I was always too strong of mind to be a full on submissive too.

When we moved to the USA he was so lonely. We arrived in the winter and one of our things to do was to walk to a site where they were building a home and watch them. He fell in love with Mr Rogers and a character from outer space whose name I have forgotten who lived incognito with the earth family. He was so excited when it was time for the show and so sad when it ended.

I knew I had to do something to garner some excitement in his life and so off we went to the local YMCA and it was agreed that, yes, he was too young for the ball hour with three and four year olds, but he could run after them. That was fine. That was a life saver.

I have regrets about enrolling him early at a Nursery School. He vomited for a week each time he caught site of the building from his booster car seat, but later the teachers told me that had I waited another year he would have done the same thing. He was simply very attached to me. He seemed to love it there, but I have reservations about the early education of all my children in the USA. Their dedication to rules over emotion didn't sit well with my children. Strong Presbyterian women they sometimes couldn't see past the behavior to register a need.

He grew to adore his life in the USA and was very upset, when the time came, to leave. He was into everything - lacrosse, soccer, ice hockey. But, swimming was something he hasn't done much of, and that's because another strong Presbyterian woman insisted I let go of him and let him swim to the end himself. When he came up, he got out and refused to attend another class with her. I only wish I had a stronger personality to tell these women at the time to shove off.

I was told very early on that he was a leader. At the age of three he was organizing all the other children with free activity time. Tom was to get the trucks, and Nick the blocks, and the children, the teachers told me, listened to him.

When I picked him up from middle school on his final day the Principal looked genuinely sad. He would be greatly missed, he told me. Even if he sometimes frustrated them, teachers adored him, their "gentle giant".

From the moment he set foot on the grounds of his new school back here in Australia he found friends who are still his good friends today. Though they are scattered around the globe he visits them when he goes to that country and of course they visit him when they return home for a visit.

Again, from the get go, his leadership ability wasn't questioned, but nearly all teachers have spotted an untapped potential for excellence which frustrates them. They all think they'll be the one to get him to work hard enough to show all that he is capable of achieving.

In his final year of school his English teacher contacted me, the first. He was doing fine but how did he expect to get in the top cohort if he didn't do some work?  Of course, we talked, but he assured me he had it in his grasp. Right. Girls and sport, these were the priorities.

When the marks were published he'd made it into a good university but not the ideal choice, perhaps. He wasn't fazed. He did his course, barely entering the grounds. He was still coasting, still flying under the radar such that he didn't get shot down.

I credit a young man who wasn't one of his brighter friends, academically speaking, who told him that you couldn't wait until graduation to sort out employment. As an aside, it's so interesting to me that it was his not so academically top of the line friends who have been so successful in business.

He was selected into a Summer Graduate program at one of the big firms, was noticed, and offered a full time position. He stayed there a few years, aware he was being used, as all newcomers to these big firms are. Over a few years he was courted by a smaller firm across the road, and eventually he moved.

It's been upwards and upwards ever since. He works hard, is dedicated to the job, and has been rewarded with many promotions. It's not all beer and skittles. There's a part of him, like me, that likes to kick back. His hour of yoga a week, when he does do that, he says is the most relaxing hour of the week. But, he won't compromise on standards of work, or getting new work. The ongoing success of such a firm in a highly competitive market place relies on dedication to the client.

So, what matters to him? Well, he adores me and his father. He has always adored my husband, and instinctively, defended him. Recently, I suffered what is sometimes called 'an empath's meltdown' and said things that I don't normally say. He listened, but there's this thing about him, like his Dad, that keeps people on the straight and narrow. There's a reason why things are as they are, and yes, people can be difficult and rigid, but there's still an order to life that can't change.

I've felt this a few times. He is sympathetic, to a point. But, we all have our roles. He actually said that recently to me. Didn't Dad and I have an unwritten agreement that he'd make the money and I'd do the family/home stuff? Well, yes, all right, that's true. But, he did get, didn't he, that sometimes people needed to emote? Yes, sure, he was listening, he said.

He's had so many girls. If I ever counted no, I don't want to know. Quite recently he said to me that the first girl was the only one that would do anything for him that he wanted. Another time, he was seeing a psychiatrist that was maybe someone he wanted to see on an ongoing basis, but no, it turned out, he let it slip, that she was quite vanilla. I said nothing.

He's with a head strong girl, gorgeous, soft, but wilful, like him. So, there are clashes. He wants to do his work and she wants him. She wants him to wash the kitchen floor but he resists because he makes most of the meals. You know, stuff like that. But, maybe, this is part of his personality, to choose a girl that is a bit feisty, that provides him with the stimulus he needs.

One of his closest friends, that is my son was his best man, said that when he was calm he was like me and when he was angry, he was like his Dad. He's usually quite calm, really; considered.

He gets a bit of indigestion at times. He's been through all the tests only to be told that he has to eat mindfully, stay away from late night tacos, that sort of thing, and limit anxiety.

On the surface he appears completely under control in his tailored suits, but his perfectionism won't leave any stone unturned. If someone under him doesn't do the task well, they get a memo to do it again. He tells me the area of my cupboard where I tend to toss Tupperware containers makes him feel anxious and he once had a girlfriend who left her clothes strewn about the apartment, and yes, oh yes, she had to go.

I feel no desire, or need, to give him advice. Well, that's not true. I did write him an email recently where I tried to explain his girlfriend's point of view and suggested that he keep in touch as to the time he needed to do his work at night and an accurate indication as to when he would be able to spend time uninterrupted with her.

I think in many ways he carries the world on his shoulders and he has the sensibilities to want everyone he loves to be happy, and high functioning. If he's not happy about something, a brother's behavior perhaps, he voices it. At the same time, he's very encouraging. Do what ever you want to do, but do it well. Do things, see the world, have fun. Live your life. That's the message.

Like his Dad, when he can let work go, he's an absolute delight to be around. His sense of occasion makes him the perfect host, best man, officiator of an occasion, speaker, leader of the team. On birthdays, he's the one to contact the rest of us to arrange the perfect gift for the person, the potential food and wine to be served. He's your classic first born. He's an achiever with high expectations.

He wants a family. He wants children. I can hardly wait to meet his children.

As I said to him in a recent birthday card, I am delighted to watch his fast climb up the corporate ladder but more than that I am proud of the man that he has become; wise, compassionate, loving. I love this kid with every bone in my body. I am proud of him beyond words.