owning my feelings

My feelings are my own. I generate my feelings by the thoughts I think. It’s my job to master my mind to spend more time thinking quality thoughts, the ones that generate the sort of feelings I wish to feel.

Anyone who’s embarked on a self-help journey has taken in the above in some form, whether it’s described as being responsible for your feelings, becoming an emotional adult or some variation of “no one can make you feel bad without your permission.”

But there’s a difference between knowing this and living it. And for me, that difference was a lengthy journey, some of which you’ve read about if you’re a reader of this blog. To summarize:

About five and a half years ago, I fell too hard, too fast, amidst traumatic circumstances, for someone who was in no place to relationship. And I wasn’t in the best place either. Our connection felt a certain kind of way that I hadn’t experienced before, and haven’t yet again. It was a relationship that made an imprint.

It took me a long time to get over it and move on. And then, even when I had, it came back from time to time.

Even when I entered another positive long-term committed relationship, I didn’t feel that way. Until I decided: he hadn’t made me feel that way; I felt that way. And even if I didn’t want to feel the exact same way, because different relationship, I could still choose to feel closeness, intimacy, support, warmth, love, etc.

And I did. I loved my man. Somewhere, sometime several months back, I released the emotional charge of that previous relationship’s imprint and let it float away into the ether. In so doing, I gave myself a fuller, deeper permission to commit to the now.

I have no explanation for why this was so difficult for me or why it took so long. But one day, it just shifted. And the pain / grief / hope / loss / wishing / yearning, however faded it had all become, was just another something that happened that I carry with me in my memory and makes me part of whom I am today.

I feel more integrated, more grace, more resolved… maybe it’s the constant self-work binge I’ve been on since last autumn.

I eagerly brought this new fullness, this new readiness to meet my current long-distance love in a place of commitment and openness to future planning. I made energetic offerings to him, hoping he would embrace me in the energetic nuances of my evolution. And it lasted a comically short time before he blew it up.

There’s much more to the story, but I will leave it here for now. I am at peace with this completion.

so…what’s changed?

When I think about where I was just over a year ago, I marvel at the transformation that’s taken place!

Then, I was beginning a new romance on the shaky legs of a newborn colt. I so needed to be liked, to be loved… It was a beautiful, healthy relationship that fed a hunger inside me in all the ways that I needed. I am so eternally grateful for that!

Now, I have more confidence, acceptance and contentedness than ever. I’m not looking for anything — I mean, except for that physical itch to be scratched. And I’m pretty okay with that.

In fact, I’m feeling a sort of holistic peace settle over all aspects of my life. Yes, I work my ass off! Yes, I run around trying to balance that with the parenting, housekeeping and social life. Yes, I wish I had more time for me — to exercise, read, write, play… But I love what I do, I feel challenged all the time, I find time to ride my motorcycle, socialize with friends and do some of the things I enjoy. My life is far from perfect — far from ideal, even — and, yet, I am more content than ever.

So this is how happiness feels!

cheers to the independent girls!

I spent time with a girlfriend over the weekend with whom I have a few things in common. We’re both divorced; our relationships fell apart right around the same time in our lives (roughly 40, and with children at about the same ages) — the difference is that she’s a decade older, and so her divorce has been final for far longer.

And here’s what I noticed about our interactions:

  • We met at a beach, and she’s clearly more comfortable with her body / in her skin. I suspect some of this has to do with her being more fit than I am, but women have a bad habit of being self-critical regardless of physical condition — so either that’s maturity or a natural self-assuredness or perhaps it’s just that she hasn’t had someone making negative remarks to her in the past decade. Surprising how long it can take to banish that voice!
  • She is completely self-sufficient and free. Her children are both college-aged, independent, working and, while they’re living at home for the summer, they help with the grocery shopping and such, too. She doesn’t have to think about picking them up from childcare at a certain time…how nice!
  • She looks amazing and nowhere near her age — and she doesn’t wear makeup. Maybe I should try going au natural? I rarely wore makeup (before that last corporate gig where everyone seemed to be in a fashion show), and I’m big on letting my inner beauty shine through.
  • She is so over the ex, the divorce, etc. I start talking about my past relationship, and I find myself becoming snarky, bitter, resentful or angry. I’m thrilled to know that, at some point, all of that baggage will just be gone.
  • She’s bought herself a fabulous car and has had a great deal of remodeling done on her house — clearly she is comfortably in the driver’s seat in her life. Sometimes I still feel as though I’m looking around, waiting for some man to magically appear in a tool belt to take care of things.

As I wrote in my last post, I am getting better about these things. I am stepping back into full accountability for everything in my life — my happiness, my home, my car, my career, my parenting and all my decisions. And I am beginning to feel fulfilled again regardless of whether there’s a man in my life — I can live happily without.

I am also committed to being myself, flying my freak flag and letting the men (and women) who are intimidated or turned off by that to opt out of my life. It’s okay; they’re doing me a favor. I am (to take a phrase from John Randolph Price’s The Abundance Book) my source and my substance.

coming home to an empty house

Last night…

I had a great night out — fun times and great conversations with truly amazing friends. I love nights like this!

And, at the end of the night, I came home to a child-free home…a home that seems too silent, too empty. A part of me knows I should relish this. I should take some sort of pride and joy in coming home to a place that I own (I mean, well, there is that bit with the bank…) and being able to do what I choose with my time. And I do relish a break from parenting…

Yet I can’t help but wish that I was coming home with someone or to someone special. For me, there is no great joy for me specific to being a single woman. Don’t get me wrong:  I am more than fine. I am proud of my own accomplishments. I am happy with recent choices and, by and large, with my life. I am strong and my life is full. And yet there’s a sense of longing on nights like this…I still believe it could be so much better with someone to share it all.

This is not a new feeling for me. I recall a time in my early twenties when an older work colleague told me about his younger sister, a thirty-year-old lawyer and single woman, who had just bought her first home and burst into tears as he helped her move. She was filled with melancholy by this milestone. At the time, we were both flabbergasted that a successful and strong woman should feel anything but pride at her accomplishments.

And, yet, only a few years later, I met the same milestones with feelings of pride and accomplishment at my successes, countered by my own feelings of ambivalence and yearning. When one does something fantastic, one wants someone special with whom to share the experience.

Of course, as I know from experience, it could also be so much worse…I could be coming home with someone with whom I’ve just fought (as I did several times) or coming home to a stressful environment (which was especially true when we ceased fighting and, indeed, talking). Certainly neither of these situations brought much comfort, either.

And so I fill my own heart, go about living a rich and wonderful life, and leave space for the possibility that someone who has also filled his own heart, who is also living his own wonderful life, and I will one day find each other and decide to come home to each another.

talking about blogging about Chi-guy

About a month ago…

I’d been blogging about Chi-guy, and then letting him know about it. It seemed like the stand-up, professional courtesy thing to do. So I’d tell him I’d published an entry, and then we’d have a little exchange about it, either over text, email or the phone.

When I asked him how he’d remembered our coffee, he said his recollection was very similar. But then he clarified that, when he told me of his divorce, I hadn’t hid my excitement as well as I might have hoped. In fact, he said I was “giddy about it, actually.” I felt mortified to hear this and told him so; he comforted me with, “Anything less would have been insulting.”

At one point, he suggested the part about our evening together could use a re-write.

“And how would you like it to end?” I asked.

“Less like ‘Casablanca,’ more like porn,” he typed back.

“Why don’t you write your version for me,” I suggested.

“In it, I give it to you slow, make you beg for more,” he wrote. (Thus, part 7.)

Before, he wouldn’t go to bed with me because he “liked” me. In our more recent conversations, he’s become more suggestive. So all this has me wondering:  did Chi-guy have a change of heart? Does he wish he’d taken the opportunity while he had the chance? Does he simply feel safe being more sexually flirtatious in his emails because I have no travel plans to Chicago? Has he (much like the women I know) ruled me out as a potential mate?

Sure enough, he called a couple of weeks later to let me know how much he was enjoying reading about us and my perspective on our history. It was then that I guessed, and he confessed, that the real reason he didn’t come back up to my room with me is because he knew I wanted him to stay the night — and he wasn’t ready for that. When I told him how dumb he’d been, he agreed. He confessed he might have acted differently today.

In writing about what happened between us, I’ve re-processed all the feelings I had. When I merely think back, it seems my feelings were involved all along. Reading my journal and blogging, however, has given me greater perspective on when and how my emotions began to engage.

It’s weird, all this banter back and forth with someone for whom I’ve had feelings, writing about our history, talking about recollections, flirting in the present. I’m fine knowing that he’s reading it; it’s when he calls and wants to talk about it that I feel so tremendously exposed and vulnerable.

NEWS FLASH:  Chi-guy just called again, this time to let me know that he’s working on a 12-week contract for a client that’s right here in my hometown. Just the thought of his potential business travel has me smiling!