Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Few Jewels…for Relationships

I went to a dear friend with a list of questions that get posed quite often in my “Women’s Groups” considering relationship issues and personal development. In this discussion with her I discovered her own challenges with life and development. This caused me to respect her even more as a woman of wisdom when I would look back over her composure as she traveled her own road of personal discovery. Again I was empowered from a sistah sharing her story by focusing on the power of experience and moving on.

These questions get posed quite often when people’s lives change from different lifestyles for the better with partners, but don't know where to go from there.

A few jewels to share with those that wonder about building healthy relationships; from this Sistah Friend:

Although I do not feel qualified to address the questions, I’ll give it a go! As with any relationship, it takes two wanting it for the relationship to develop, grow and last. One cannot make it happen, no matter how badly they want a particular relationship. I spent 18 years in a relationship because my partner had the “potential” to make me happy. I love her with every fiber of my being and thought she could love me in the same way if only I was patient enough, strong enough, loving enough, understanding enough, accepting enough. I invested and invested but was never able to withdraw anything from that investment. In fact, I felt as though I did not even earn any interest on my investment. Finally I decided I would never be “enough” to get what I was seeking from this person. I had to accept she was probably giving as much as she could and it was not enough for me. In therapy I learned what could have been, was. If it could have been any different, it would have been. I also learned unrealized “potential” “ain’t worth horse shit” (quote from my therapist).

When my current partner and I were in crisis, I learned another valuable lesson, this time from a sermon. The Pastor knew nothing of the difficulties so the message was not intended for us. It was a God-thing for me. My partner was out of town with her mother for several weeks (another fall and subsequent injury). She decided that she needed to stay there permanently as things were not good with us. I felt betrayed (we had promised each other we would work things out some way, some how) and hurt beyond words. I was pretty raw but went to church anyway. The sermon that day was about relationships. The words that resulted in my epiphany were: “If someone you love can walk away from you and out of your life, let them.” It took every ounce of strength I had in me that day to stay seated and not run out bawling.

I emailed my partner and told her I would put one of the houses on the market but buy her out of the other one as I wanted to keep it. I told her to decide what she wanted from either house and to make arrangements to have it shipped or come pick it up. There would be no more requests for couples counseling or guilt trips about broken promises coming from me, I said. I wished her well but stated I could not maintain a “friendship” with her as she requested.

She came home “to discuss the division of property”. We spent hours talking, crying and being honest about issues. Although we did not officially agree to work things out, we did. Since that time, there has been no mention of “divorce” and we have worked to make sure that there is no need for that discussion.

I guess my point is, any relationship is difficult sometimes, even loving ones. Thus, one needs to decide if they want to invest the time and energy necessary to maintain a relationship before they jump into one. And they need to be prepared to let go if their partner no longer wants it.

Anyway, based on my own experiences, I am offering the following:

1. Developing healthy relationship suggestions:

a)Listen without preconceived notions.
b)Think before speaking.
c)Don’t commit to a relationship based on one feature, idea or value.
d)Find commonality and focus on that.
e)Make sure you like the person.
f)Realize differences are good, not bad.

2.Suggestions for things to do that would be conducive to maintain healthy, committed relationships:

a)Laugh together often.
b)Don’t take yourself or your partner too seriously.
c)Develop relationships, hobbies and interests independent of your partner.
d)Respect even if you don’t agree.
e)Accept arguments are inevitable and don’t take criticism too personal.
f)Commit to fairness.

3.How to develop healthy friendships with other couples:

a)Seek friendships that compliment your own relationship.
b)Resist comparing other couples to you and your partner.
c)Show genuine interest in developing a relationship.
d)Allow relationships to develop over time.
e)Pick folks who share some of your interests, values, morals.
f)Invest of yourself.

4.Venue for meeting new friends:

a)Participate in a variety of events, i.e., festivals, productions, parties.
b)Blogs, Facebook, Linked In
c)Professional groups/meetings
d)Churches/Spiritual Meetings
e)Social groups/meetings
f)Through other friends

5.What to do when there are different interests between mates:

a)Accept some difference as healthy.
b)Allow space and time for each to pursue their own interests.
c)Decide if your differences are more important than your shared interests.
d)Always, always communicate without judgment.
e)If your different interests bother you, look within to seek why.
f)Different interests do not mean rejection.

6.How to introduce partner to new ideas when they have no interests in anything; burnout:

a)Find out why they have no interest, i.e., depression, stagnation, needing
time to regroup.
b)Make a deal. If they will try thus and so and you will return the favor.
c)Bring what you can to your partner if you cannot persuade them to seek
anything new.
d)Continue to seek your own interests and allow time for healing.
e)Invite friends to spark a lively conversation or introduce something new.

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share.

In Sisterhood, love and blessings

I truly appreciate my relationships with my sistahs, worldwide and the opportunity to hear their stories via the “Pen” is a bounty beyond measure. I am always seeking ways to better connect us on our heart levels because I feel that it is through our relationships and choices that we heal not only ourselves but the World, “One Heart at A Time”. May we continue to share our stories knowing that therein lays the power that we all seek, to heal the wounds of humanity. May this shared story open new ways of building and preserving relationships that are developing you more towards your own authenticity.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Love Is…Letting Go!

Walking up the steps I could hear the tiny yelps of excitement coming from the other side of the door. Oh God, I’m thinking to myself, am I really ready for this all over again? Sound familiar…have you ever made a choice and then wondered if you really thought it through? What to do now is the question?

Three months ago I had the opportunity to make the decision if I really wanted a pet and everything that went with it. All my friends had a pet of some kind and I always had in the back of my mind how great it must be to have that kind of love, unconditionally.

Looking back now over the chain of events that have taken place, I’m having to consider again if I’m really up for the commitment. Having to be fully available for someone that totally depends on you, is a serious decision to make. I don’t know if you can really tell whether or not you’re ready until you try. ( It’s quite complicated and intense) I’m going to have to talk to my friend Cathy again, seriously about all the small details that you sometimes miss. Most importantly, I’m going to have to face some serious issues within myself.

Opening the front door, love is in the air, literally, everywhere!
"Come on girls, let mommy in the door and let me put the bags down, then I will pick you up”, I said as I laugh at my two new puppies.

“Whew, what is that smell? I see that you didn’t quite make it to the paper.” Looking around I see three different places where mistakes have been made. “Ok, ok, I say while they are jumping all over me. I see that I’m going to have to make a decision that I didn’t want to have to make.”

“Whether or not to have to crate you, has been something I’ve been considering girls“, I say with a sad face.

It seems that may have to be the conclusion to this process or pay to change all the carpet. I think the crate will be cheaper. Now the question is, can I stand the lock- up process. I don’t know about that! Who knew there would be so many tough decisions pulling on your heart strings in order to have pet ownership. This is the part my friends didn’t share and I didn’t ask. Never take anything for granted I now say! Locking anything up just because of the hard part of creating control, is a hard issue for me. However, it’s that or disaster in the area of preserving property. Well, it looks like there is more in this process towards peeling back my own onion than I realized. Can I put these babies through this sadness because order is important to me at this time in my life. I don’t think order is on the mind of these little ones at this time of their lives, as it shouldn’t be! This is not the time of their lives that they should be still and behave. They should be having fun…like all little children. Why as humans do we want to take all the fun out of youthfulness and then we wake up one day to say … where did it all go? The girls are looking up at me with their little sad faces as if they understand my grief and it feels like they are taking it on because now they look sad with their little ears down and their heads drooped down. Oh God, this is breaking my heart!

The knock on the door is right on time when I open it to see my friend Cathy!
“Girl, I am glad to see you!” I shout with joy and sadness. Hugging her, tears well up in my eyes and she looks at me with a puzzled look.

“Hey girl, what is it,” she asked with a concerned tone.

With tears in my eyes, I look at her and say, “I don’t think I can do it!”

Cathy has been here for me for the past 12 weeks of pet ownership. I should say while I have been test driving because I haven’t fully taken ownership yet and it’s not fair to the puppies I realize. It almost feels like a new relationship after you have been alone for a while and you are not quite sure what you’re willing to give up, sacrifice or share. I feel like such a failure because I don’t see myself in any of my views of my friends as pet parents. Trying to explain my feelings to Cathy only makes me feel worse about myself as I try to regain my composure.

“Oh, come on girl, she says as she pulls me close to give me a big hug. You are a great mother. This is a big job and it may not be for you at this time. It’s ok,” she reassures me.

“But it’s not ok, Cathy,” I scream. I’ve gotten these babies and now I wonder what was on my mind? I just can’t stand the idea of them staying in a crate to keep from messing up material things! They’re just like children,” I say with a feeling of desperation.

“Yes they are and just like we have to think long and hard before having children, it’s the same for pets.”

“Yeah, the difference is that if you screw up and get pregnant after the fact you suck it up to carelessness and the children just live with your choices,” I say.

I know I’ve got all kinds of strong opinions about that behavior! “Cathy I don’t know what to do but I do know that I am willing to sacrifice whatever insecurities I have for their well being because they deserve lots of love, unconditionally,” I say sadly. That is what they give us, all the time, regardless. I don’t think I have that at this stage of my life.

“That’s ok Stephanie and you don’t have to feel sorry for that. Now, what options do you have,” she asked?

“Well, the lady that sold them to me said that she already had someone for one of them and my baby girl is the one she wanted from the beginning, so, I can still be in her life. The other lady will take my phone number and I can still be in both of their lives by pet sitting.”
“Well then, that’s a great option! Cathy says.

Yeah but how do I make the failure feeling go away? “By realizing that it is not a failure!”, she says. “Think about it, when the lady needed someone to take the puppies out of a dire situation, you were there. You took not one but two and then you took them to your vet and got them good and healthy by getting all their shots, deworming and supplies for their wellness. I remember you went to the whole food store to get only the best organic foods and flea repellent stuff (all natural from India).. You basically saved their lives. (Yeah, it kind of reminds me of some of my past relationships…get them all better for someone else…hmmm) You even gave them your home to recoup their energies by loving them and spending 12 weeks of uninterrupted time to help them get off to a great start in their lives. So, maybe you played your part in their lives because a lot of people would not do that and then pass their love ones on to someone else just to love. You helped provide a strong foundation for them to build on. My goodness, you even put then on your nutritional supplement drink after their shots to make sure their little bodies could handle it without complications. Now that’s mama love! They are going to be Super Dogs because of your love and care in their little lives. Now, let someone else build on what you have laid as their cornerstone source! You are giving someone a wonderful gift in these puppies and you can still see them grow…sounds like a grandma to me! What more could you ask for? Just keep being you and don’t apologize! Remember what you told me last year when I was at the crossroads in my relationship? Sometimes, we are only there for a season and we have to realize that, “Love Is…Letting Go!”

“You know what Cathy? I knew there had to be something bigger in this for me to learn because it was bringing up so much stuff emotionally for me. You have been a true friend for helping me to see that in parenting there can be all kinds of gifts that we refuse to see because of we're always trying to measure up to someone else’s standards. You know, I realize now that God gives us just what we need when we are ready to see it.”

“What do you mean Stephanie?”

“Well, I got these puppies right around the holiday season and that is when I always feel the worst about my parenting skills emotionally as a parent. I’m always telling myself that I was never enough for my children or that I wasn’t like someone else but I now realize through this experience that we are just what the other person needs to become who they came to be by the Master Plan! I have always known that everything has a season just like parenting and that in every season something different is required for progress in the process of development. My parenting has always been about empowering others to be self sufficient and to recognize your purpose. I am at the stage of my life now whereby I will be coming in and out of others lives to serve that purpose on a larger scale. That is why I am moving toward starting a woman’s group this year called Women of Wisdom, to “.empower others.” I am reminded again that “Love Is…Letting Go”!

“There is so much more to this story Cathy, than just puppy love…Think about it!’