“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” ~E.E. Cummings
I was a shy kid. My mom said that when I was in pre-school, the teacher asked all of the kids to hold hands and I said, “No thanks, I’ll just hold my own.”
That may have been the beginning of my aversion towards human contact. As a kid, I remember grandparents, aunts, and uncles giving me big horrible hugs. If I didn’t blatantly push them away or wiggle free, I stood there stiff as board, until the torture was over.
They thought this was adorable …
“You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.” ~Jon Kabat-Zinn
About six months into a serious relationship with my boyfriend, we started experiencing major conflict. Fighting over small things, flipping out over misunderstandings, we just couldn’t seem to get on the same page about anything. This caused me to think about relationship conflict in general, what causes it, and how to deal with it.
It’s clear that relationship conflict occurs because expectations aren’t being met. Each person comes into a relationship with certain expectations. These are based on past experiences, childhood, or how you think things should…
“Love does not obey our expectations; it obeys our intentions.” ~Lloyd Strom
To say that love hasn’t obeyed my expectations would be the understatement of the century.
I have not been lucky in love. I’ve been blessed with some amazing moments over the years, but somehow have managed to choose partners who did not want what I wanted, did not feel what I felt, and did not want to walk beside me into a future together.
I have really had to sit with this and try and figure out what part of this was my doing, and how to change …
“I believe that every single event in life that happens is an opportunity to choose love over fear.” ~Oprah Winfrey
Facing fear came in the form of the death of my father in 1997. He was diagnosed HIV positive and at the time, the world saw this as a death sentence, and so it was.
His goal became to find a level of peace, a level of contentment about what was happening to his body, his mind, and in his soul in preparation for leaving this life. He enlisted my help to choose when and how to die.
“In separateness lies the world’s great misery, in compassion lies the world’s true strength.” ~Buddha
We talk about boys these days at our dinner table.
Boys are sneaking into our home now—or at least the idea of boys. Although I love watching my daughters grow up—it’s much more fun (and much more challenging) than I ever could have imagined—I sometimes feel a certain sadness as their days of early childhood innocence slip behind us.
Their battalion of stuffed animals, for example, who were accustomed to a life of travel and adventure—and a well-dressed one at that—often live in boredom …
“‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” ~Alfred Lord Tennyson
I met a special someone. It was my first taste of love and I was sheepishly drunk with it. His were eyes I could look into forever, and he had a voice I could hear till the end of time. It was absolutely frightening.
We were colleagues. I unwittingly got involved in his life and eventually found myself wanting to get even more involved.
After a period of ambiguous yes-no-maybes, he exited the picture for good. He never wanted to talk about it, …
“Fear makes strangers of people who would be friends.” ~Shirley Maclaine
Up until a year ago, I saw the world as a place where very few doors opened for me. At first I thought it was due to being extremely introverted. But as time went on, I started to struggle with making friends.
I didn’t have many of them—and opportunities only knocked a few times a year. That’s when I realized my problems stemmed from my passivity and fear of actually going out and talking to people.
My few closest friends always told me to join a club …
“We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly.” ~Sam Keen
I recently went with girlfriends to hear one of our favorite beach bands play. Since I turn into a pumpkin at midnight, I talked a friend into taking me home early.
While walking to our car, we witnessed a couple fighting. There was no pushing or shoving. Fists weren’t involved. Bizarrely enough, this couple was on opposite sides of the parking lot having their fight over their cell phones.
Due to the volume of their voices, the fight was …
“To get something you never had, you have to do something you never did.” -Unknown
For many years I maintained a relationship that I was not happy with. I’m sure a lot of people have been there, or are there right now. I didn’t feel there was equality in the relationship; I always seemed to be the one giving, yet I consistently felt I was getting nothing out of it.
A close friend of mine asked me why I tolerated the behavior of the person in question.
As usual, a few excuses passed through my mind: the other person was …
“Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.” ~Paul Boese
In a previous post about forgiveness, I mentioned that I spent years holding onto anger toward someone who hurt me repeatedly years ago.
I eventually realized that forgiving this person was the only way to set myself free. The resentment, bitterness, and sometimes pure rage were slowly killing me. They manifested in emotional and physical illness, constricting my life so that I was little more than the sum of my grievances and pains.
At many points I strongly believed my emotions would consume me, bit …
“The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.” ~Ralph Nichols
Did you know that one in ten U.S adults suffer from depression? (This is according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.) How do I know? I was one of them. Starting in 2008, I suffered from depression for more than a year.
Many factors contributed to my depression. Of course loneliness and lack of social support were the obvious factors, but the major contributor was that I didn’t feel understood. …
“To have a friend and be a friend is what makes life worthwhile.” ~Unknown
I lost my beloved husband from complications following a routine surgery. His sudden death changed every facet of my life and rocked me to my knees. Now, more than a year after his passing, I am openly speaking of my grief experience with others and sharing how I’ve coped being a young widow.
I was asked recently what was one of the great lessons I learned from losing my husband, and I knew what my answer was without hesitation: the importance of having a diversified life.…
“No feeling is final.” ~Rainer Maria Rilke
I met him the last semester of college and was instantly attracted to him. I was definitely attracted to him physically, but it was the way he sat in class with such quiet confidence and mystery that made me long to know him.
I practically drooled all over my desk whenever he spoke, but couldn’t even bring myself to say, “Hello.” One night out, I saw him standing by the bar. I told my friend that I had a crush on him and she promptly gave me two choices: Go speak to him …
“You change for two reasons: Either you learn enough that you want to, or you’ve been hurt enough that you have to.” ~Unknown
I learned about boundary work when I was teaching in the NYC jails with male prisoners.
After driving onto a maximum security island of electric, clanging gates, I encountered metal detectors, hallways filled with yelling, chaotic inmates, and tension and anxiety in the air that was almost tangible.
I started my workday tensed up and ended it drained, exhausted, and overwhelmed.
In other areas of my life, the same thing was happening. In my personal relationships, I …
“At the end of life, our questions are very simple: Did I live fully? Did I love well?” ~Jack Kornfield
We all grow up with some healthy stories about love and some unhealthy ones. I learned some beautiful, life-giving ideas about love, ideas like these:
- Loving people means believing in their potential.
- Love means treating people with kindness and gentleness.
- Loving the people in your life means celebrating their successes and cheering them on.
But I also grew up with some stories about love that I came to see weren’t so helpful. Those ideas about love bred problems in my …
“Always be mindful of the kindness and not the faults of others” ~Buddha
In these hectic and often chaotic times, for most people (controllers included), the need for intimate, close bonds with friends and family is more important than ever for their overall well-being.
Yet, most controllers are unaware of how much their controlling actions prevent intimacy.
Losing Intimacy with My Son
Twenty years ago I was a massive, obsessive controller. I firmly believed that the best way to satisfy my needs and achieve what I wanted in life was by controlling everything and everyone. At home, Father truly knew …
“We need not think alike to love alike.” ~Ferenc David
Our commonalities were small, insignificant perhaps, but being in high school, we were both uninterested in comparing notes on religious beliefs or political affiliation. I appreciated his humor and he my smile, and that was the end of that—until we became bona fide adults, that is.
After a year of bliss and a few declarations of, “no, we don’t fight at all!” we began to notice the things that set us apart and the experiences that shaped us in vastly different ways.
He came from a broken family while mine …
“Strangers are friends you have yet to meet.” ~Unknown
We are living in times of massive change.
Looking at some of the problems we are facing—the crumbling economy, environmental pollution, wars over scarce resources—sometimes the idea of moving far away to a remote mountain top seems very attractive. Or hiding in that small space behind the computer screen. Anything that helps us avoid real life and all its challenges.
But of course, if everybody thought that way, who would actually get up and do something about our situation? And is it enough to receive words of comfort through an email? …
“We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly.” -~Sam Keen
Before I married my wonderful husband, I dated a lot of men. For most of my 20s (and even my early 30s) I had a perfect fairy-ideal of what romantic love was, probably because I was an actress and loved drama back then.
It took years for me to realize a relationship is not a romance movie.
At some point in our lives, we may believe that love should be like the kind of romance we see portrayed in …
“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” ~Henry David Thoreau
A friend of mine likes to joke that dying will be a relief because it will put an end to the “heavy burden of judging,” as she calls it. She envisions herself lying in a hospital bed and, moments before death, noticing the ceiling and thinking, “What a hideous green.”
Here’s a modest proposal: Vow that for the rest of the day, you won’t judge your friends and you won’t judge any strangers you happen to see. This would include a friend who’s a non-stop …