Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Avoiding the Avalanche: Non-reaction and sitting with Vulnerability

How do you hold space for your partner when what they are going through- regardless of whether or not it has anything to do with you- is triggering all your shit?

This feels like standing on the top of a snowy mountain. All you want to do is scream, but you know in your gut if you scream you could trigger an avalanche because the snow is staying in place only by virtue of a precarious calm. Letting out your frustrations could be just the trigger that creates an effect that simply continues to pick up speed and volume and ends in ultimate chaos.

Analogies aside, let me translate. I feel as though in a relationship nearly all conflicts are a combination of two peoples issues coming up. How you choose to deal with what comes up, shapes the future. I feel as though I am standing on the top of that mountain, and my feelings are raging at me to howl in primal desperation at the sky. But another part of me is urging me to sit down on that mountain and feel the snow beneath me, appreciate the beauty of the mountain and realize that my stuff is just my stuff and does not always need to be talked about with my partner.

You see I believe that relationships are a complex, beautiful, and delicate interplay of energy. It of course shifts and flows much like a tango, and we thrive on that changeability. If it all stayed the same we would be bored. However, choosing the moment to table your own shit and create space to just allow your partner to have their moment of doubt and vulnerability, is what I struggle with. Sometimes I mistake the space as a vacuum and it feels uncomfortable to me. I feel the need to fill the perceived emptiness by sharing all my vulnerabilities and reactions. But then I create a consistent imbalance in the relationship. I am always dominating with my sharing.

Part of this I believe has to do with my personality and part of this is a cultural disposition for women to feel more comfortable sharing their vulnerabilities than their male counterparts. Let us be real, men are taught to never share their vulnerabilities because it denotes 'weakness' a loss of 'status' and they are told it makes them overall less desirable. This is indeed changing as a male friend of mine wryly stated the other day 'Vulnerability is the new sexy.' However, like any major shift, it takes time to become aware and consistently act on new subconscious belief systems. For men, it still is difficult to share doubts and insecurities. Not just because of their own fears but because we as women have no idea how to hold space for our men doing something so out of character.

Recently I was confronted strongly with my own inability to handle a situation like this with the grace I intellectually thought I was familiar with. My partner relayed to me some very realistic and fair doubts about the future. Ninety-five percent of these doubts had nothing to do with me, and yet I reacted as if the sky was falling. Why is that? My best girlfriend said candidly 'Our men listen to our insecurities regularly, while staying solid for us, but when they have a moment of similar doubts, we act as though the relationship is over.' We as women claim we want a sensitive emotionally mature man, yet when confronted with one, we sometimes have absolutely no idea how to act in a way that supports the bravery they are exhibiting by being so honest.
So if we really want our men to change we must as women take full responsibility for our reactions and actions. I realized today just how difficult that can be. I thought, I have no idea how to be what my partner needs right now. I do know, it is going to require work on my end.

Brene Brown says in one of her TED talks, 'Show me a woman who can sit with a man in vulnerability and I will show you a woman who has done work on herself. Show me a man who can sit with a woman in vulnerability and I will show you a man who has done work on himself.' And I thought I had done the work because I have self-awareness. The awareness is the first step but it is by no means the work. So what the hell is the work?

After some serious thought this is what I feel 'The Work' is.

1.  Allow feelings to arise without reacting.
This is perhaps the trickiest one yet I feel the most important. I am an extrovert and I want to tell the world about all my damn feelings.  Yet talking about those feelings gives something fluid a more solid form. Like making the choice to turn unwanted liquid into a solid rather then letting it sit and evaporate on its own. It is of course a known component of zen buddhism to be able to watch your thoughts without reacting. Yet oh so difficult. So how do we do this?

2. Take care of yourself 
I know certain things about myself. I need to eat regularly. I am more emotional when I lack sleep. I need to do yoga regularly. I will benefit exponentially from daily meditation. I gravitate toward worry in my head because that is what is familiar to me. Knowing this, part of the work is creating healthy habits for myself. Because if I am not taking care of myself, how can I show up and be solid for my partner when they need it? And that is undoubtedly, The Work. It is like the airline stewardess always tells us, put your oxygen mask on before helping others. It seems obvious, but damn if it isn't easier said then done. 

3. Have patience in holding space.
Most men are not like most women. Again, I am generalizing. But many men need time and space to spill their feelings. I have been remiss in providing both. I have to be willing to sit in the vacuum patiently without filling it with all my own shit. Because we are not 'connecting' when I am vomiting my feelings into the emptiness so it feels less empty. This forces me to take the action of non-reaction. 

I understand these steps intellectually, now I must put them into practice. Because the next time I am sitting across my partner having coffee I want to enjoy the moment in silence with him, and not rush to fill it with my own doubts, opinions, and insecurities. I want to love his company and wordlessly tell him to take all the time and space he needs. Because I can hold a secure space when he needs me to.

For the first time in my life, I have two people I want to to do the work for. Myself, and my lovely partner.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Toss out that Laundry List. You know the one.

    I promise you I have chased every unavailable man in Los Angeles; the musicians, bartenders, the vagabonds, the actors, the weekend warriors, and most famously the 'men right out of relationships.' Through the repeated heartaches, trials, and stumbling heartstubs (like stubbing your toe but with your heart), I learned one thing:

You attract either WHAT you are yourself (ie. emotionally unavailable, etc.) , or WHO you need to work through your biggest issues. 

     This sounds like a 'Duh' kind of comment. Especially if you read self-help books and blogs like I do and fancy yourself a bit of a spiritual aware-ist. But the truth is breaking those ingrained patterns are far more difficult then reading Brene Brown books or watching TED talks. It requires a certain amount of daily discipline, and perhaps letting go of your idea that you have what is right for you all figured out.

     Obviously I didn't. I say this looking back on the slew of men I have dated that were just not really right for me. Yet when every single one of those relationships ended I took it as another affirmation of the story I was telling myself; I am not good enough. It is ironic how we set up proof for a 'given' we ourselves have defined. I was never one for geometry myself, but once we humans decide on a story we unconsciously set out on a zealous trek to provide countless experiences that will back up that story.
      So what is your story? Is it 'I am not good enough?' Mine was a variation which translates to 'All the men I am really interested in aren't interested in me.' Then I went out and dated every unavailable man I encountered each time trying to morph myself into exactly what I believed they wanted me to be. Talk about an Escher painting. Stairs going nowhere. It is exhausting. So this past year after a series of profoundly hurtful 'non-relationship' relationships, I basically stopped dating. I told myself I was too screwed up to attract the kind of man I really wanted, that I needed to be alone to learn how to love myself ( no doubt one of the most truthful yet poignantly hated new-agey statements), and I spent lots of time alone.

       Yet underneath I still yearned for a partner that understood me, that could love me for all of the messy beautiful intense pieces that collide to create my soul. I surrendered to the idea that maybe just maybe some higher power knew what was right for me better then I did.

     I threw out my laundry list. You know the one. It details everything from personality traits and income to dick size.  I crumpled it up and replaced it with one line. 'Universe please send me the man that is best for me right now.' I left it at that. Well almost. I added quickly, 'Someone I can laugh with. I want to laugh all the time with my partner.' Each time I felt a yearning I would repeat these simple two sentences and leave it at that. The simplicity of those thoughts somehow soothed a bit the feeling of being broken, of loneliness, of trying to have it all figured out at a time when frankly I don't feel like I have any of the typically admired social norms of success 'figured out.'

       Then it happened. The night I was encountering yet another universal statement of 'Sorry, the Universe is not going to let you stay in situations not compatible with who you are' (this one job-related), I met the guy just right for me, right now. It is new, it is terrifying, and it is still tempting to want to pull out that laundry list. But then I take a deep breath and realize I feel safer, healthier, and more seen, then I ever have before.
           I realized that what I thought I wanted wasn't really what I necessarily needed. And here is the thing, the Universe always gives you what you want....so be careful what you ask for consciously or unconsciously. I will tell you, it is a hell of thing to look at that list and realize that you forgot the one thing that is now sending your 'perfect' laundry list partner on a fast track out the door. Sometimes we don't know everything. Most the time that is completely ok. To trust in a higher power-or if that is not your cup of cold-pressed organic juice-to relax and be open-minded to someone blowing your mind without seeing if they have listed qualities 1.-32., is freedom.

        This doesn't mean I have all the answers. It doesn't mean I am not scared shitless. Trust me I am. But for the first time I am not trying to control/manifest/figure out what I think I need.
You know what I am finding.......

       I am laughing more then I have in a long time.
       The drama is pretty much non-existent.
       I talk about all my fears right away.
       I feel imperfect almost all the time and it isn't freaking me out.
       I am happy. So very, very, happy.

  You can take this advice or you can create another vision board/list with every nuance of your perfect man....either way there  is no right or wrong answer. But my laundry list is now crumpled up, tossed out, and in its place is a present so fantastically stress free I don't know what to do with myself. Next to me is a man who I like more and more as I uncover the layers of him. Universe I am sending you a giant wet kiss, and a fist bump. You did good. You did real good.

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Labyrinth: The Affair

The Labyrinth: The Affair: The Beginning: There is no sweeter invitation than your unlocked door I slip in, clothes off, switched on, My world narrows. Surpa...

The Labyrinth: Letting GoMy hands cannot hold your face,So the...

The Labyrinth: Letting Go

My hands cannot hold your face,
So the...
: Letting Go My hands cannot hold your face, So they paint solemn pictures Frida Kahlo style. My lips cannot kiss your mouth, So they ...

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Letting Go

My hands cannot hold your face,
So they paint solemn pictures
Frida Kahlo style.

My lips cannot kiss your mouth,
So they stick together dryly
Unlubricated by tongue or tears.

My heart cannot feel your spirit,
So it sits in the worst loneliness
Witnessed, yet unseen.

My body cannot press against yours,
So it tries for solitary release
Leaving me in disappointed whimpers.

My mind cannot frolic with yours,
So it retreats in darkness
As I slowly begin to heal.

Mind Ramblings of an Overdramatic Nature

Phalanges twitch wanting to spew forth languanges..
Wait. Backspace.
wanting to layer linguas upon the smooth floor of polished paper............
Aaaa lilting ballet of eloquent emotion. 

Pause. Sigh. Eye-roll. Continue.
Wine wastes the edges of raw
leaving a delusional cotton-candy version 
of the carnage laid waste across my mind
ravaged hearts,
 massacred moments,
scavenged meanderings through memories. 

Do I proceed? Why stop now.
I try to guess what you think
It is a masochistic errand
even fools won't touch. 
If only I had a magic bean 
to bury in your heart soil
and grow an aorta capable 
of pumping blood to your brain. 
It was lost in the nether regions
where we whiled away hours in rehearsal 
playing at making love. 

Period. Delete. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Affair

The Beginning:

There is no sweeter invitation
than your unlocked door
I slip in,
clothes off,
switched on,
My world narrows.

Surpassing passion couples
with simmering fears
of what is,
what can be,
what will never be,
My foundation cracks.

You drive deep digging my well
water springs free
I wipe my tears,
you tell me-
I am beautiful...
My gates unhinge.

The Middle:

Limeade tickles my tongue
Vodka loosens my mind.
The heat of you
strikes the spark in me
I combust.

Dry goods room
the best place to start a fire.
The obvious is poetry in action.
Pretty words can't describe
the feeling of my face
pressed into your shoulder
I fragment.

The world floats
in its humdrum pace.
I sail within
thrumming under my skin
to my own beat.
I  simmer.

The End:

In the sunshine I feel broken
Scars exposed to rays sear open.
Another delusion shifts
to disenchantment.

Tired  I pull my cloak over my head,
wearily grasp my lantern,
and walk alone
into black.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


I look over my shoulder,
my gaze tastes you one last time.

The you that was you
when there was we, ceases to be.

I stalk the streets we walked
my steps steal them back from memories.

Flavors of lovers sift,
 I sigh, savoring my colorful mistakes.

Richness lingers beyond pain,
my landscape vibrant, temptations to tears.

You would not dream beyond reality,
My dream solidifies to certainty.

Regrets don't exist in a knowing soul,
my toe nudges the door wide.

I surrender in the fire of a man
who finds my hand through layers of me.

Alone I am complete.
 Instantly he Sees.