Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Best Medicine

Laughter. I think sometimes I forget how healthy it is to laugh. Looking back I can see that the friendships in my life that have lasted have been ones rich with laughter. I was thinking about why laughter is so important in a relationship.

Laughter implies ease. It shows connection with another human being. It shows delight and devotion. If you feel safe enough to laugh with another human you feel safe enough to cry with that person. My sister says, "It's that moment when you know someone 'gets' you. When you experience being heard." Within that delight at life, that recognition, that pure joy shared for a moment with another, a bond is formed. A bond of connection. Trust, built in moment of joy, is a foundation that can last in moments of sorrow.

I can remember being with someone where I was constantly apologizing for laughing. I'd be watching the television and something so funny would come on... or I'd be watching a movie (Galaxy Quest is my favorite for just pure laughter) and I'd laugh so loudly with such pure delight. And I'd be laughing alone. And I'd find myself apologizing. I suppose the fact that I wanted to hide my laughter was a signal that it wasn't going to last. I'd look over to not even see a smile.

Laughter to me says "I live a passionate life!" Now... I will admit that there is certain laughter that I don't include in this category. Nervous laughter, for one. That laugh you do when you feel so uncomfortable, or when someone laughs at a funeral or some other sad occasion. It's that 'laugh so I don't cry' that sometimes seems so accurate. Or when someone laughs when an animal gets hurt, it's a reaction that I truly don't understand.

Another type of laughter that isn't joyful or kind, is laughter 'at' someone. At first, it may seem like it brings two people together to laugh at someone else. It gives that false sense of connectedness to another person, but there is no safety when you are in a relationship with someone willing to be cruel to another.. 'Trust' built on moments of cruelty is a foundation that cracks and crumbles at the first sign of trouble. And friendships that are built with laughter that is cruel? Are the friendships where one day you are laughing at others and the next? That person you once laughed with is now laughing at you. It's why I never liked shows like "Candid Camera" and shows like "Punked." Those shows make people laugh at the expense of another person. They make it seem like humiliation is acceptable when the person being humiliated laughs. Except it isn't. And that kind of laughter isn't the type lasting friendships and relationships are built upon.

I'm not perfect. I've been known to make a joke or two at someone else's expense. I'd like to say I've never made fun of someone... heck I'd like to say I've never been made fun of but I'm not perfect and neither is life. And heaven knows if I can't laugh at myself I'm  in deep doo doo. I have to be able to laugh at myself sometimes. I can't take my life too seriously. I am a mistake maker and sometimes the only way to lighten my own mind is to remember to laugh. Not to dismiss the problem, but to help put it in perspective. Because even when life is difficult, it's still a joy to be alive.

But laughter? Laughter matters. And I know, as I seek fulfilling relationships in my life, that I will seek relationships where laughter - the nurturing kind- is effortless. Because the joy inherent in laughter is the joy reflected in the relationship.



Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The dog ate it... 
Wait, you don't have a dog!


Deep breath. Hi, my name is MaryKate and I lie. Or. Well. I used to. All the time. I'd like to say that I am above all that now and I only tell the truth. But. Well. That would, you know, be a lie.

In my life, lying made me feel like I had some sort of control. If I lied, surely the lie was a much better excuse than "I forgot" or "I'm irresponsible". Plus, lying made me think I looked so much better. I felt that if I lied, people wouldn't know I was really a screw up and not worth loving.

Seriously. That is how I lived most of my life. Well into my 30s, I thought lying was the best way to handle conflict. But even when I lied and justified it to myself? I knew I was lying.

I can remember, when I started to work on being a person with integrity, that I started to acknowledge when I lied. I always *knew* I was lying and started to recognize that situation in my life. It started with no lying to myself. I'm a work in progress I suppose. It is amazing how often in the day it would be easy to lie, but through diligence I have reached a point where I feel like I live in my integrity.

I think, in general, people don't take responsibility for their own actions. Perfect example is something that happened to me a while ago when I went to Safeway. I parked, ran in to the store, got some juice and other sundry items and headed back out to my car. I loaded the back of my car and realized that the SUV parked next to me was *really* close. So close in fact, that I could not get IN to my car. Now, I drive a Saturn Vue, so it isn't that my car is small or anything, but I was parked perfectly between the lines. The woman who owned the Ford Explorer next to mine finally arrived and started unloading her groceries. I came out from between the two cars and said, "You parked pretty close to my car" She replied in a snippy tone, "Well YOU... (she then proceeded to look and see that *I* was parked well within the lines and SHE was not)she stammered, then went on, "Well you just don't understand how difficult it is in these parking lots with the small lines. It's just ridiculous, I have a Ford Explorer and it is very difficult with these small spaces! Really, the people who make these lines should make them wider apart, the person next to me was very close I didn't have a choice... blahblah blah". It was EVERYONE's fault but hers. SHE parked poorly and there was no one parked next to her. 

Actually, all I wanted her to say was, "Oh my gosh! I'm sorry. I will load up my groceries and move my car ASAP." I would have smiled and said, "No problem, it happens" and life would have gone on... but the more she blamed everyone else, the more she stammered on about how it wasn't her fault... the more angry I became. Lady? Just own your stuff!

I am not innocent of being disrespectful - I struggle with my own type A personality issues. I sometimes speed ahead and don't let in cars that have tried to move to the front of the line and bully their way in... I could just relax and let them in, but I think "you are no more special than I am" and then I end up being an idiot and almost causing an accident because I won't let them in... so I own that I am not perfectly innocent nor am I perfect, but for the most part? I own my stuff. 

It's part of living an authentic, healthy life. Lying and not owning one's own responsibility is something I see in so many of the kids I work with. This inability to own responsibility for something they have (or in the case of homework) haven't done. I understand the fear that the 'adult' in the situation (me as their teacher) will be disappointed. I understand how scary it can be to own up to your stuff and not lie about it... and I try to have patience with the process of growing up and finding one's own authenticity. But it still frustrates me and I wonder if it is my responsibility to call them on it... is it my job to say, "Enough!"... I don't know. To accuse someone of lying is a touchy thing. Especially without any proof. With just that gut feeling that the person I am talking to isn't being truthful. 

In the end, if I care about you, if we consider ourselves friends, I ask you to be honest with me. I am doing my best to be honest with you. I understand we are all on the 'self awareness' journey and that means occasionally you'll tell a little white lie... but I want you to know that usually I know it. And I am guessing you know when I tell one of those stupid little white lies that seem like they are no big deal, but too many of them whittle away at the trust between two people. Pretty soon? There is no foundation left to trust. And with no trust? There is no friendship.



Thursday, January 20, 2011

Uncomfortable is uncomfortable...


I seriously don't like feeling uncomfortable. Feeling uncomfortable causes me to rush into decisions I then second guess because I find myself feeling even more uncomfortable.

Feeling uncomfortable can be anything - feeling too hot or too cold, not wanting to take a walk in the rain, not knowing how to 'fix' a situation, knowing someone is upset with me and not knowing what to do... Uncomfortable is not my friend. I know a great deal of my weight issues come from not wanting to feel uncomfortable.

I think successful people learn to navigate 'uncomfortable'. They learn to take the time that is necessary to sit with the anxious feelings until they are able to move through the discomfort. They know that discomfort isn't permanent. They know that they are not in danger when they feel uncomfortable. They realize that discomfort is the only way to grow as a person.

I... don't usually feel that way. When I feel uncomfortable I want to rush in to fix those feelings of anxiety and insecurity. Being uncomfortable can often lead to feeling unsafe. Unsafe always equaled unacceptable growing up, so I rush to try to regain control and exert some external sense of safety before things get out of hand.

The other night, I was at Central Market. I purchased a 5lb bag of spelt flour and was getting ready to put it in the back of my car. When I went to take it out of the basket, the corner of the plastic caught. I pulled, felt resistance and instead of stopping and taking a moment to resolve the situation? I just pulled harder and forced it out of the basket. Of course when the plastic tore and spelt flour covered my legs, my shoes, and the pavement I cursed at said $10 torn plastic bag of flour... loudly. I took a deep breath. I went in, explained to the cashier that the way that the bagger had packed my cart caused the bag of flour to catch on the edge and when I pulled out the bag it broke everywhere. He was very nice, let me get another bag with extra in it to make up for my trouble and I left the store... On my way home, I thought about how I lost my patience at the bag. I then dug through one of the bags I had purchased at the organic store, found a candy bar and ate a couple bites of it. Looking back at the situation, I see how easy it was to blame the poor kid that packed my cart. It might partially have been his fault for packing it so tight, but where was my part in that? You know, the part where I lost patience and pulled really hard instead of stopping for a moment and assessing the situation?

Feeling uncomfortable for me usually has to do with the ability (or should I say inability) to be patient. Part of feeling safe and working through discomfort for me is to learn to recognize my feelings of discomfort and NOT eat about them to numb myself from those feelings. By learning to recognize discomfort I can assess the situation without blame. No blame for the bag, the bagger or me for getting upset. Just taking a moment to see the situation with some clarity. By processing the situation, it might be easier not to reach for the candy bar (even if it was sugar free and organic) to make myself feel better! This seems very existentialist - to see the situation only as an event. Wayne Dyer says, "How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours." 

Sadly, not all situations are so easy to assess. It is easy for me to to see that my getting upset with the bag and losing patience (thus spilling the flour), and eating the two bites of chocolate to release the chemicals to calm/numb me are related. The situation makes sense and is logical. Isn't that the root of almost all addiction? The desire to shove away discomfort?

Learning to manage discomfort with 'things' is easier than learning to manage discomfort with people. It is not simple. It is not easy. And I often rush into and out of relationships because I don't know how to process feeling discomfort with someone. The relationships in my life that last are the ones where the person I am with acknowledges my discomfort and is willing to own his/her part of that situation - just as I had to own that it wasn't fully the bagger's fault for the flour debacle. When the person I am with has the ability to empathize with my discomfort, together we create a safe environment where we can begin the work of processing together. That has generally been the case in my friendships, but not been the case in my 'relationships'. I tend to walk away (or run, depending on the situation) when things get emotionally unsafe. By the time I find myself feeling unsafe it is almost impossible for me to return to simple discomfort. They are directly related. I tend to terminate relationships/friendships with people who do a lot of blaming and denying of their own part in the story of their lives. I am generally willing to own my part in the situations in my life that are causing discomfort and I am open to hearing about it if I am not seeing it directly. I ask only that the people I am connected to are open to seeing their own part in the discomfort in the current situation and in their lives in general. If they can see the choices they made that got them where they are, there's a good chance we'll be friends for as long as we know each other - no distance, rain, sleet or snow will stop us from remaining connected. If they are blamers and finger pointers? I'm generally not interested in continuing the connection between us.

Being able to walk in strength and still feel discomfort and own my share of why I am feeling discomfort (or causing discomfort in others), is directly related to the concept of Emotional Intelligence. I think there are ways I can become better at being able to diagnose discomfort. Emotional vulnerability and feeling discomfort in a safe situation is a good way to grow and mature; when the situation moves from discomfort to 'hazardous', emotional vulnerability isn't really possible and my sense of self esteem suffers instead of builds.

One of the ways that is recommended for better regulating Emotional Intelligence is learning meditation. The tiny buddha blog has some ideas on meditation. I have told myself over and over that I want to learn to meditate, and I think that is the next step in my process of living a healthier more emotionally fulfilling life.



Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sometimes, There's No Good Side 


This is my third blog about breaking up. Apparently, I've been doing a bit of that lately. I realized this weekend that there is no good side to be on when breaking up.

No one wants to be dumped. No one wants someone to say to her, "Hey you're nice and all, but I need my freedom..." or whatever platitude you get when someone wants to kick you to the curb. It's painful and you can't help but ask yourself (especially if the 'other' person has conveniently moved on to someone else before even telling you the curb is waiting) what was wrong with ME?

And who the heck wants to be the dumper? Unentangling yourself from the arms of another is not easy. For me it is doubly difficult. Because I am terrible at it. I end up writing a letter that I spend HOURS pouring over until I finally write something clear and honest. The letter says, "Hey, I don't want to be with you anymore. I am looking for something different in my life. I wish you all the best and I think it is time for us both to move on to a new experience." The letter? Is great. But then? The person calls/emails/messages me. And I stumble - and all that great clarity I had? Seeps away and I am left a quivering ball of jelly. I hear/feel the hurt in the other person and all that clarity disappears. All those solid boundaries with another person melt and what ends up coming out is, "Hey, I don't want to be with you anymore (unless you want to be with me, then let's talk." or "Hey don't call me anymore (unless you do because I'll pick up the phone and try to make you feel better and find myself deeper in this relationship I don't really want to be in)" or "I am looking for a different experience in my life (unless you say you will change although we both know you won't, but I'll give you another chance just in case)." And I end up caving. I question my intuition that told me I wanted out in the first place. Especially if the other person throws in some guilt. I cave. And I regret caving. But I think... well maybe *one* more chance.

Meh. I think breaking up with someone is hard for me because I struggle with my own sense of worthiness. I feel so fortunate that someone likes me that I dismiss the warning bells or the reality that just because someone likes me, that isn't reason enough to stay with someone if I know, in my heart, that my needs aren't being met. I'm willing to work on things and work on things, but perhaps, in the end, the reality is that people don't change much. They can alter things (looks, gain/lose weight, new place to live, new friends, stop/start using drugs etc) but at the core? People are who they are. At my core, I am still, at times, a frightened girl who lies to try to control everything around her. As a more healthy adult? I work hard to *not* lie. I work hard to remember that I can protect myself and I am a strong woman. But I admit that even now, even after all these years of *not* lying, my instinct? Is to lie sometimes. It is the first impulse. I have to really struggle with it on occasion, because I swear at times lying just feels like it is so much easier. But it isn't. And I don't. And if you don't lie? You probably have no idea what the struggle is like. It's a core addiction just like drugs or food or alcohol. Lying gives the false sense of making things easy. But it never does, because most of the time, the other person knows you are lying and they lose trust in you. So I have learned not to lie. Has my core changed? Perhaps not. Perhaps at my core I am a truthteller, and I just learned to lie to protect myself. What I know? Is that my behavior about lying has changed, but my desire to lie? Has not changed.

My sense of being a worthwhile person has also changed. Growing up I didn't really believe that about myself.  Today? I have a better sense of self, a better sense of what I have to do to be healthy. I have a better sense of what I need to do to take care of myself, to be in a healthy relationship with myself and others and I have a better sense of what I seek in a partner.

Having that sense of self, however, doesn't make it any easier when I have to move on - ending a relationship no matter what side of the equation I am on, isn't easy.



Friday, January 14, 2011

Something's Wrong...


When I was in high school, there was only one thing I truly ever wanted. Well, besides a boyfriend and to like myself. More than anything I wanted to be in our show choir. I had zero self confidence and I could be difficult to get along with. I had a few good friends, but mostly the other kids were okay to me, or they were horribly cruel. Either way, the one thing I always thought I had going for me, was my singing voice. I could sing two and a half octaves. I had clear pitch. I had (and I would like to say, still have) talent. And more than anything, I wanted to be in show choir. Somehow I felt that if I was in show choir I would be 'okay'. It would somehow make me feel like I belonged somewhere. It would make me part of a group of people I admired. I think it made me think I would be special. Anyhow, I auditioned with the idea that it was a forgone conclusion. I auditioned knowing there really wasn't anyone with a better voice or better attitude for show choir. I was a Gleek before anyone even knew what Gleek meant!

My audition was awesome. I hit every note, smiled, showed my enthusiasm. I pretty much worshipped the woman I was auditioning for... and at that time, I still believed that life was fair. I had talent, therefore I would make it. When she posted the list of people who made the show choir and my name wasn't on it? I was... well... crushed is kind of an understatement. I went to her office, determined to be 'okay' with it. I asked her why. And? She said all kinds of platitudes. She fed me lines like, "You don't blend very well. Your voice is too loud." I didn't understand. I was first alto. I HAD TALENT. Damn it. But I started sobbing. I couldn't stop - and I had this vague feeling that something was wrong. That something wasn't true. That I was being lied to.

As I am a teacher now, it must have been so hard for her to watch me cry like that. I want to think that anyhow. I want to still think that about her. I don't want to think that her image was more important than the devastated child in front of her.

I went home. My dad knew how excited I had been about show choir. He asked me how it went. I started crying again. I told him I didn't make it. I told him what she had said. And in a moment that changed my life forever, he gently, but clearly said, "Honey, it has nothing to do with your voice. You didn't get in because you are fat."

"NO!" I screamed. "She isn't like that!! She TOLD me it was because of my voice!" I screamed at him that he just didn't understand. I think I accused him of lying. My dad realized it was a losing argument and just said in that wonderful but slightly condescending voice, "Okay, honey."

But I knew he was right. It was like a lightbulb exploded in my head. I went back to school the next day and watched the rehearsals for show choir and pretended everything was fine. But I knew something was wrong. I knew I had been lied to. I was never able to shake that feeling. I'm not sure I ever really got past it. It has given me a pretty high bullshit meter. Ask my students, they'll tell you. They often *think* I buy their stories about dogs and homework, but they know and *I* know... BS is BS.

Today, when I start to feel that "something is wrong" feeling, I've learned to trust that on some level I  know something isn't right. I'm probably being lied to or more accurately, either I am being inauthentic or someone around me is. Something doesn't 'feel' right. The problem isn't recognizing something is wrong, the problem is figuring out exactly what that 'wrong' piece is. Part of the problem is that often the lying isn't intentional. The other person perhaps believes what he or she is saying. But the net result is that feeling that 'something is off base. Something is wrong..."

Without going into too much private detail, toward the end of my previous relationship, I had that feeling. I couldn't put my finger on what was 'wrong' but I knew something was.  I was crying a lot, I was frustrated. I was in therapy. I had all these pieces but none of them gelled. I had the frame of the puzzle but no box to guide me in putting together the image. Then, one day my best friend, in one succinct sentence said more or less to me, "MK, what you are describing isn't friendship, it's dating!" and all the issues going on in my situation became clear. It was the reality I didn't want to see. That the person I was with was dating... but it wasn't *me*. The same thing happened the next time I got into a relationship. I was sooo invested and then I had another one of those... 'something is wrong' feelings. This time? I had, without the feedback from friend or father, a shining moment of clarity that I could not doubt or look back on. It was only a month later when I was proved correct and the relationship ended.

It seems like once I establish that something is wrong then have that 'ah-ha' moment, I can't pretend I don't see. It is clear and it is a light bulb moment from which I can't turn back. The stark truth. Unsweetned. Bitter. Unavoidable.

I'm having one of those moments in my life again. A feeling that something is 'wrong'. I both dread the moment of knowing and ache for it to show up. That moment when I can't look back and pretend I don't know what's wrong. But I don't know what is worse - knowing that I am about to have one of those moments, or when the moment actually arrives and I say to myself... "oohhhh... crap. That hurts, but now I know the truth of it. THAT's what I am feeling!"

As painful as that moment in high school was, it forged who I am. It taught me to trust that 'something is wrong' feeling. To figure out how to slice through the bullshit to find the authentic self and the (often painful) truth of things. I still lie to myself at times. I think we all do. But as hard as the truth is to hear, I have learned to honor it and respect it - even when it isn't what I want to do.

Honoring my truth is healthy, even when it hurts. Trusting that voice (even when I'd rather ignore it and hide under the covers of my new, comfy bed) takes courage. I'm glad I have people in my life that hold me up and remind me that healthy? Isn't always easy.



Wednesday, January 12, 2011

“I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.”
 ~Mother Teresa


I wonder sometimes why the word 'love' is such a loaded word in my life. How is it, a species so designed to love has such a complicated relationship with such a basic need.

I am amazed at how complicated love is. I think about how easily that word comes from me. I love food, I love friends, I love a book... and how difficult it is when someone says to me, "MK, do you love him?" Suddenly? That word changes complete meaning. A word I toss around like candy at an Easter Parade, suddenly seems precious. Almost hoarded. And I think to myself... I don't know, there is so much pressure with that word. And I think when we add the word 'in' to 'love' the whole situation becomes loaded with expectations and pressure that makes just 'loving' someone seem easy.

Recently, I had to contemplate love. I think it is one of those words that has changed meaning as I have grown. What 'love' meant to me at 15 is not the same now. Much like the word home which I talked about before.  I remember about 6 years ago, I dated a guy I called the cowboy. He was 6'7", well over 300 pounds and I was pretty sure the most handsome man I had ever met. After ten minutes? I was smitten. We went on a drive to Deception Pass. I remember kissing him and thinking the world was spinning so crazy! *laughter* Anyhow... a date or two later, he said to me, "MK, I think you care too much about me." I laughed. I said, "Cowboy, I'm probably inlove with you, but *you* don't have to do anything about that! You aren't responsible for how I feel. Just let me love you." But he felt obligated. If *I* felt that way, he felt like *he* needed to feel that way.

Of course admitting to the joy and abandon I was feeling was too much pressure. Eventually, about two months later, the cowboy and I went our separate ways. I was sad, but life goes on. I didn't regret *how* I felt, but I suppose some part of me regretted *telling* him how I felt.

I'm not sure what to do with the word 'love' now. I've realized in my life it isn't so hard to love someone, but sometimes it is really hard to *like* someone. And I find I have become more stingy with the word love. Someone close to me told me the other day that she was the first one in her relationship to use the word 'love'. She said it changed the whole mood of the relationship. They have been dating a few months now and I was surprised they hadn't said it before. But he wasn't sure what to do with that word. And I remember her saying to me, "Dang it MK, I was NOT going to be the first one to say it!" Huh? Why is it that if you feel that you love someone, it is a bad idea to tell them? It's part of this dating game I don't think I get.

I started thinking about how I hoard the word "love" these days. I hand it out pretty freely with my friends, but with guys? Not so much. What *is* that about? Why should I be afraid to say I love someone? Just because I love someone doesn't mean I expect to spend the rest of my life with that person. How is it I have become so unwilling to just 'love' and see where it goes?

I have no answer for these questions. I just know I have been thinking a lot about it. About the weight of the word love, and I wonder if that word deserves so much angst surrounding it.

Because in the end, I wonder if it isn't "love" we are afraid of, but being vulnerable. And somehow the word 'love' seems to open up that door to our hearts. Then? What do we do with that love if circumstances change and we are no longer with the person? One of my dearest friends D and I went our separate ways several years ago. It was a misunderstanding that wasn't able to be healed. For a long time I was so angry. How could he just walk away from such a long friendship? How could he 'toss' me aside? How could he not be willing to talk through it? After all, we loved each other. Why couldn't we make it work? Then, when I realized he really had shut the door, I didn't know what to do with all that love that once belonged to him. It was a big pile of the stuff and I didn't want to throw it away. It sat, mocking me in my living room. I'd see a photo of him or an old email and that big pile of love would torment me.

Then one day, I realized that love wasn't going to go away. It would always be there. Instead of being angry I felt it, I welcomed it back into my heart and made peace with it. It is still attached to him. And someday, I still hope he and I are able, again, to be friends. But for now? There is no need to toss away that love or deny it. I feel the same way about others in my life that I have loved and that are no longer part of my life. Even if the expectations I had for that love have shifted, the love itself is still there. And being angry or bitter about those lost expectations really serves no purpose.

I guess, in the end, I am working in my life to be more present with loving and vulnerability. I don't have the answers to the difference between love and 'inlove', and I still find myself more 'careful' about using the word 'love' in relationships, but the reality is that I am a person that loves. And instead of thinking that is a bad thing, I'd like to shift my perspective a bit. I realize that being a person that loves might mean I get my feelings hurt, but in the end, I'll be better off for having let myself love, than I would if I hoarded my 'love'. Besides, I've watched that tv show 'Hoarders' and if that is what happens when you hoard things? I don't want to know what I'd end up like if I continued down the path of hoarding love like it came in some limited quantity.

I'd probably truly end up that 400pound, single, crazy cat lady with 40 cats and photos of all of them in my wallet. There ain't nothin' healthy about that image.



Friday, January 07, 2011

The death knell: 'whatever'



I use that word all the time. Well, I used to. Until I really thought about the darker undertone to that word. I think I have to thank my ex for the lesson in 'whatever'.

Last night, I got 'whatever'd'. I didn't realize how upsetting it would be. Saying 'whatever' to me says, "Hey, my needs are more important than your needs." When I am trying to explain something and someone says, "Whatever" it is the single most dismissive, rude, condescending and conversation ending word they can say to me. "Whatever" is like saying to me, "Hey, your thoughts don't matter. Your thoughts can be rejected. Shut up. I don't want to listen to you anymore. This conversation is over."

Now... my sister and I joke with each other all the time and say, "Whateeeevvvaaaahhhh". But even then, even as a joke... it isn't really funny - it's snarky and unkind. It's like calling something I don't like or don't understand 'retarded' or 'gay'. Sure, some people think those words are just funny... but saying something is stupid and 'gay' or stupid and  'retarded' shows a lack of awareness about the people around me. It is a bad habit I work hard to stop, and so is saying 'whatever'. I realized last night how 'whatever' is a 'fightin' word. Go ahead, say 'whatever' to me and watch me shut down and then get angry with you. For me? The word 'whatever' is a deal breaker...

I am willing to talk with you - I want to talk with you.If you are feeling upset or overwhelmed? Tell me.

This morning, I wrote a letter to the person. I explained how it had hurt my feelings. I said that it wasn't a word that encouraged friendship. It was a word that shut down love and shut down connection.

I am all about the talking. I want to communicate and work through things. That's what friends do. Friends are willing to talk about problems. In the past? I have wanted to hide from the difficult conversations. But I've matured. I am, even when it is uncomfortable, more willing now to work through the hard stuff. Now... if the conversation is intense? Or I am feeling overwhelmed? I want and need the ability to 'safe word' out of it. But saying 'whatever' isn't that way. There are times when I need to stop and 'defrag' before I spin into anxietyville and completely shut down; you may be feeling that way as well. But tell me, don't shut me down. I will honor your needs as well. We can work through this together. I can be tired, I can be grumpy, I can be difficult - we all can. If you are frustrated by me or unhappy with me? Tell me please. Don't be passive and 'whatever' me. "Whatever" is a word of immaturity - it is a way of trying to take the 'easy' way out. Instead? Please just say to me, "MK, I can't have this conversation right now. I'm tired. I'm grumpy and we aren't communicating well. Can we just pick this up later?" or let me say that to YOU.

And the partner to whatever is? 'it's fine'. Whereas whatever dismisses the person you are talking to... it's fine dismisses yourself. Saying to someone, 'It's fine' is actually saying, "I still have feelings about this but I don't feel safe enough to tell them to you." When I am resorting to it's fine it's because I would rather dismiss my needs than to continue to be in a threatening or circular conversation that is causing me to feel a high level of discomfort. It's saying, 'Hey, my needs are less important than your needs.' I had an entire relationship where that happened. I felt pressured into conversations where I knew the only way to stop the barrage was to say "you're right" or "it's fine". That is no way to live.

So perhaps, for 2011, I'll resolve not to use whatever and it's fine. Communication is why I like having people I love in my life. It's how I grow. It's why I love the people I love. There's no whatever or it's fine about it.



Thursday, January 06, 2011

Panic at the Disco


I dropped my computer on the floor this morning. I had a moment of sheer panic. Firstly because I can't afford to get a new computer right now... and secondly because I can't afford to get a new computer right now. I had that moment of... omg if I can't get online what will I do???

I had that exact moment in the airport over Christmas when I realized I had forgotten/lost my iPhone. I was so upset I ended up leaving my wallet in the bathroom while trying to find my phone! It was a rough day at SEA-TAC let me tell you.

Then? I got to my dad's... sans phone and I survived. It wasn't easy, and I had my computer with me so that helped... But I had time to think about my reliance on technology. I'm sure this isn't new to *anyone* that in general I spend too much time on the computer/in front of a monitor. Right now I'm dreaming about an iPad. Because I don't have *enough* technology.

I know my iPhone and my computer are addictions. I get that little hit of happiness every time I see an email or a text. My little dopamine fix every few hours. Having my technology makes me feel needed. Makes me feel important.

But the idea that everything is important...that everything has to happen RIGHT NOW is a terminal disease in my life. My best friend sent me this link today and asked if we could go here some day: if you read the site it says electric is solar, no radio, no real contact with the world. Only a week of the ocean and a couple good bathing suits and maybe my kindle and of course my best friend... at first I thought... no radio even? But the more I think about it, the more I look back on my past and think, even ten years ago I was a first adapter of the color palm pilot... I have been *too* into technology. It's an addiction.

I look at my students today and I realize they don't even know what it is *not* to have technology around them all the time. I live in such a different world now.

And because the Universe has such a sweet sense of humor... I got to school this morning and realized I had forgotten my phone. I started thinking... well let's see, it's a 10 minute drive home, 5 minutes to pick up my phone and 10 minutes back.. with traffic accounted for I could go home over lunch and pick it up.

Then I laughed and remembered I had started this blog this morning.

So? If you want to get a hold of me before 4? You're gonna have to figure out another way... because apparently? I'll be away from my phone for a while.



Monday, January 03, 2011

Because you got to have 'frieeeeeends... la la la la la la la


This morning as I was making my breakfast, I had a crazy 'insight' flash in the kitchen. I get those sometimes. You know, I'm minding my own business, warming up my leftover egg casserole in the microwave when *bam* out of the blue I have this insight. Usually I hear a voice along with it, but that might make me sound crazy, so this morning I'm going to go with *just* the insight and leave the 'voice' out of it. ;).

Now, this insight may not be so life changing for you, but for me? It's as if my energy just shifted and I suddenly realized something I haven't ever really grasped before.

I'm dating right now. Met this guy. I dig him. He's got a great smile, great eyes... blahblahblah. It's been a bit turbulent because we met, then a week later I went to Ohio. Also, he's been working a couple of different jobs to make extra money this holiday so he has been really busy. The chemistry is way there, but I've been trying to process what it is that has been making me feel so out of sorts about it.

To start, I have been insecure. Alternatively thinking "this isn't going to work" to "ohh I *want* this to work". Roller coaster ride. It isn't this guy. It is *every* person I go out with. I get on this crazy expectation train and then start to over analyze and over-process what is going on. I end up processing with my sister and friends trying to figure things out. Last night I hit a wall with it. Started to see a pattern in my life and then this morning? Big ah HA! moment.

What I realized is that I change when I start to 'see' someone. I get anxious. I think I talked about this before. I become demure, quiet and I become needy. I question myself, start to question my abilities to navigate a 'relationship'. I put all these expectations on my partner and on myself. I will behave this way, my partner will behave this way and I will understand what is going on because I have it all under control. For example, "I will text every day and HE will text every day and even if we don't see each other we will connect EVERY day" and somehow that will make it all better...

So far? This relationship has *not* been like that. And last night I realized how lost in the 'expectations' I had become.

Then? I started thinking about the dinner I had with a friend of mine two nights ago. Love her and we haven't seen each other in probably four years. Our lives went separate ways for a while and I think she was worried *I* was upset and I was worried *she* was upset and guess what? NEITHER of us was upset and we laughed for hours and talked all afternoon when we saw each other again.

The question I asked myself this morning in the kitchen was, "Why can she and I see each other after several years and it was like we hadn't been apart, and yet in my romantic relationships, I can't go four days without hearing from the person without freaking out?"

I thought to myself, "Well, maybe I am more vulnerable in romantic relationships" but that isn't true. I tell my friends my deepest truths. I am supported by my friends, but they tell me the truth and I listen and process it with them. I sometimes hide my deepest fears and anxieties from the person I am dating because I fear rejection or discomfort.

What I finally realized this morning is something my sister has been hinting at but I'm not sure either of us really put it into words. When she started dating someone recently, she told me, "Why would I want to date someone that didn't make me laugh and that I couldn't talk to like you, MK?"

And this morning in the kitchen I realized exactly what she means. Dating for me, should be about finding a 'friend' not finding a 'husband'(because god knows if I EVER want to get married again). What I mean by that is that if I can't laugh and joke and be myself with the person I am dating? I shouldn't be dating that person. Now, I do think dating is taking friendship to another level. I certainly don't want to be intimate with my 'friends', and I know that adding 'intimacy' to a relationship changes the parameters of the 'friendship'.

The 'problem' as I see it, is in the past, I have dated and partnered with people I wouldn't have chosen to have as a friend. People that didn't treat me as well as my friends, didn't understand me as well as my friends, didn't want to get to know me as well as my friends and more, people that weren't *able* to do that. I changed my standards because *I* change when I date. I become more reserved and I pretend I'm not as intelligent as I am because guys seem intimidated by it. Some of the guys I have been partners with have felt that they needed to 'teach me' to be less opinionated, they needed to 'correct' how I see things. They needed to 'counter' my intelligence by disagreeing so that I could 'change' to how I present myself to a more 'acceptable (according to them)' way of being. Often, I think they do it because they feel intimidated. But my friends? Don't do that. They may say to me, "MK, that's harsh" or "MK, what do you mean by that?" My friends LIKE who I am. They may disagree with me at times, but they are kind in how they disagree. They love me and they process with me to help ME become a better person. The people in my life that are my friends listen and laugh and share their lives and help push me to grow outside of my comfort zone without being cruel or unkind. Those that are unkind? Don't get a second visit to my house or my life.

I realized, in the kitchen this morning, that not only do I want chemistry with the person I am dating, I want to establish a solid friendship as well. I can let go of this pressure to hear from this person all the time, let go of this neediness - I don't expect that from a friend I don't need to expect that from someone I am dating.

However, the catch? Is that I realize I have higher standards for my friends than I do for the people I date! So from now on, I will be comparing the people I date to my friends. If this person doesn't make me laugh, doesn't want to really get to know me, isn't interested in my life or what is happening in my family, isn't curious about how I think and how I see the world, and doesn't think I am amazing? I am not interested. Because I think and want ALL those things from people I see as a friend. I want to know about my friend's lives and I am curious about how my friends think. AND? there has to be chemistry. Because I have lived through a relationship that was just 'friends' and that doesn't work either. There has to be that spark, the desire for each other BUT it has to come with wanting a deep friendship with that person. Otherwise? Chemistry burns out, but true friendship lasts a lifetime.

If the person I want to date, doesn't meet the standards I set for the people I consider my friend? Then I shouldn't be dating that person - it isn't healthy. And while I'm all clear that not all of my friends are people I would want to date, the person I want to date certainly has to be someone I would want as a friend.