honesty · parenting · relationships

The Fine Balance

12.11.18.jpgSometimes—no, always—it’s difficult to know in a relationship when to zip your lip and when to speak up.

While I’ve absolutely become better about not venting all my crazitude onto J (and what will or will not happen in the future based upon my extrapolation of the present), there are truly times when it feels important to share some of those thoughts (or requests, or needs).

Some of finding this balance has meant sharing those thoughts earlier, so they don’t become a towering inferno of resentment that destroys my faith in the relationship.

Some of finding this balance has meant letting him have whatever experience he’s having without my trying to change it.

I am … not skilled at this yet.  It’s still very tough for me to negotiate where the line is between “my stuff” and “our stuff,” but it does feel further along the path than it did.

It’s impossible to think about your own potential parenthood without also thinking about how you grew up.  Indeed, I think most of us attempt to have a redactive experience with our own children, to “do it better.”

Yet even if we can’t “do it better,” perhaps we can avoid some of the same egregious pit-falls.  But to do that, you must communicate if and when you see them, especially if they feel like blind spots, or sore spots, to your partner.  You–er, I–must say, “Hey, I see this reaction as part of a pattern, and while I’m able to handle the fallout of it (for the most part), a child is defenseless against those reactions and actions.”

This is not a chiding or judgment that the other person’s behavior is “wrong” (really!), but it is an invitation to say, “Before there are tiny humans in the mix, can you reach out for help to soften or release some of this particular type of reactivity?”

We are not the first people in the world to talk about having children.  We are not the first to experience heightened feelings of doubt.  But where there is dread, because we’re not taking proper care of ourselves or reaching out for the proper support, then that negative pall will shadow what can be (at least in many moments!) a wonderful, inviting, and blossoming experience.

I know that I carry baggage of my own, that certain behaviors in others trigger a ptsd-style reaction.  And that’s my own to work on.  But, where the balance line of relationships is concerned, it is also my work to speak up and say, “This is not okay,” to model to our children, to take out on them, or to blame them for.

We are the grown-ups, and we must act like them, doing what grown-ups do: assess the problem or situation, find the appropriate tools to handle them, and ask for help if we don’t even know where to start.

 

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action · goals · honesty

If Wishes Were Horses…

8.21.18.jpgIn some reading or other, I learned about the difference between Wishes, Dreams, and Goals.  As I remember it:

  • Wishes are desires you aren’t willing to work toward.
  • Dreams are desires you aren’t sure how to work toward.
  • Goals are desires you’ve made a plan to work toward.

Writing the other day that I wish I had a lifted seat (ham-hocks!!!) made me reflect that it’s actually a Dream of mine, not a Wish.  I am willing to work toward it, I’m just not entirely sure how to attain it.

Which makes me reflect further that, in truth, I do know how to attain it… I’m just not willing to work for it, so it is a Wish after all.  Ha!

So, where the rubber meets the road is where I have to be honest about my true willingness to achieve what I want.  Surrrre, a hot ass would be AWESOME!  Buuut, did you know what nearly all the literature and friend advice says?: Do squats.  Ugh.  How boring.  And so, it goes from Dream (doing research) back into Wish (Meh, too hard).

Where it hasn’t gone — and here’s where I’m beginning to suspect the magic is — is into Goals.  Into becoming true and actionable, with action steps, and deadlines, and dates Goals.

Okay okay, so maybe a lifted seat doesn’t get your relatable meter running, but maybe “Earn my small plane pilot’s license” or “Record the score for my musical lyrics” or “Earn a Second Bachelor’s Degree in Physics.”

Whatever floats your boat.

Goals are on my mind today because my Weekly Goals Group call is this afternoon and our question for this week is, “What are your Goals?”  Eek.  It’s a little more specific than that (what are the major areas of your life and what are your goals in each for the next 1, 5, 10, 20 years), but when we read aloud the question of the week last time, all of us ladies on the line laughed out loud, absolute hilarity ensured for over a minute.

As if the idea of nailing the whirling dervish of our wishes and dreams down onto the page was as ridiculous as hunting unicorns and pixies.

Oh, how we laughed, too, sheepish and blushing, because this is the spot we avoid. Don’t make me look!  Like a sore tooth, we just chew on the other side; we make due not using our all, we pretend that this is a normal state of being.  And we laugh at the idiocy of the suggestion to face the aching tooth.

Goals necessitate that a person must be specific about what they desire, and then nail it to a calendar, or routine, or practice.  A goal is not a fairy; a goal is one unavoidable action at a time.  A goal is a partnership that holds you accountable so you can’t kick your desires down the pages of a calendar.

A goal is so real and, therefore, so vulnerable.  (Hence the hilarity giggles.)

A goal being a real thing means it’s subject to struggle and injury.  But it is also capable of growth.

Wishes and Dreams do not grow.  They are the things of childhood fancy.

A Goal is a Grown-Up tool—and a dance partner—and it begs and invites you to dance with it, every f*ing day.  Ugh.

authenticity · balance · dating · honesty · relationships

Why Nice Guys Finish Last.

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(Note: The following is one human’s opinion and not
intended for relationship diagnostic purposes. See a doctor if symptoms
worsen.)
You can add your variation of this sentiment to a long list
of complaints we’ve heard over the years:
“I don’t get it; I’m a nice guy. Why do women only go for
assholes?”
In my meditation on kindness today, I was brought to
thinking about “nice-ness.”
In dating, what does “being nice” look like? Most times, we
translate “being nice” as allowing the other person to make the decision:
“Wherever you want to go.” “Whatever food you want to eat.”
“Whichever movie looks good to you.”
In the beginning, this seems like a great tack. Allowing the
other person to choose, we figure, means that we’re being “nice” by saying that
we respect and trust their opinion. We’re also saying (perhaps) that we don’t want
to impose our will or assert our own interests or preferences, because we’re
afraid that if we do, we’re going to proffer the “wrong” choice. 
I’ve had Mexican all week, and want to have Thai, but what
if she hates Thai? I have absolutely no interest in seeing a chick flick, but
if it means I get to spend time with her, then fine, I’ll sit through it.
We believe that we’re letting the other person make the choice
in this situation, but actually, we’ve already made one: I am choosing not to
disclose my desires for fear that my idea — and therefore I — will be rejected. Period. So, by contrast, if I let you choose, then I know whatever it is is something you’ll like, and therefore you’ll have a good time and you’ll like me.
So, the “nice” guy says, “Whatever you want.” Look how nice I am. 
This is a choice. But it’s also a manipulation of the truth. And, in my experience, if you add enough
of those up, what you wind up with is not knowing at all what the other person
likes, what their preferences are — who they are.
We wind up dating someone who is just trying to stay in our good graces, and in doing so, the “nice guy” begins to lose us, because there isn’t
enough of “them” to keep us engaged.
I want to date you.
Or at least, I want to
find out
if I want to date you.
I will add here, that of course, in the start of any dating situation, we’re all
angling somehow – of course we want this to work! Who doesn’t want to find someone they enjoy and can be themselves with?
But there’s the rub. If we begin to date on a basis of
people-pleasing, we’re not being ourselves at all. We’re being who you want us
to be – Or more accurately, who we think
you want us to be.
There is always room for negotiation, for compromise,
obviously. (And sometimes, yes, you really don’t care.)
But I think the (mis)understanding of “nice guys vs assholes” is that we set up a dichotomy that states: “Being nice” doesn’t work, therefore women want an asshole. And, asshole becomes defined by the opposite: Someone who asserts themselves regardless of the
other person’s needs or wants. Someone who treats the other like crap.
And that is NOT what I’m saying is the successful tactic.
Certainly, someone who takes only their interest and
desire into account is an asshole. And is not someone who I (or
most people I know) want to date.
But there is a middle-ground for each of us between being a
doormat, and being the one who makes the other a doormat.
Equality, self-esteem, honesty, fluidity. Uncertainty.
Yes, perhaps you see the chick flick on your second date.
But maybe you have Thai beforehand.
Because, I want to get to know you, whoever that is, and whatever the outcome.

anxiety · connection · family · honesty · love · self-care

Incoming!

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Enjoying my last moments of solitude in my studio apartment
before I pick my mom up from the airport this afternoon. Delighted though I am
that she’s coming to visit, I look forward to someday having an apartment where we both
have bedroom doors!
Also, my voice is going, a combination of sickness, rehearsal + yesterday’s voice lesson, when it really began to go. My voice
teacher advised that I avoid talking as best as I could during the next few days…
I replied, (Fat chance!) You know my mom’s coming into town, right? 
That woman and I could talk until all the stars burned out
and still have things to talk about that were interesting. It’s who and how we
are. How we’ve been. But, I need to “rest my voice,” as the teacher put it, so either my mom
will do the majority of talking, or she’ll get really good at lip-reading!
I’m excited to see her, to have her here. But, I also know
that it means three and a half days of mostly “up” energy, or at least engaged
energy, which is hard for me. Because it’s a “visit,” it means that we have a
lot to talk about, and a lot to try to “fit in” to three days, since we see one
another maybe once or twice a year. Oakland may be the Brooklyn of the Bay, but
it doesn’t mean I can get to her home of Manhattan by
the Q train.
What I realize is that I’m going to have to police myself
these few days, getting over a bad week of being sick still, but also, just for
general self-care.
My mom, whether it’s the New Yorker or the mania in her,
runs on an elevated frequency. As her child and a game partner, I tend to rise to
her level. Some people call that level anxiety(!), but as someone once said to
me, The difference between nervous and excited is breathing.
So, I’m going to have to remind myself to breathe, to take
time to be a little more still and not quite as participatory as perhaps I might be, and to also let her know that’s my intention. Also, I’m going to have to inwardly remember to un-constrict, to let her
vibrate at whatever frequency she wants to without feeling I have to meet her there. That’s my
part in this: she’s not asking me to be all abuzz with her;
I’m doing that myself.
It’s hard, as I’ve said, when people change the rules to a
game you’ve played for a long time; but I also don’t like partially dreading
spending compacted time with her. It’s a litt– a lot exhausting to try to
match that level of up-ness and on-ness, and, well, it’s why she’s the one with bipolar disorder, and not me.
There’s also a crash when you’re up that high.
I’ve tried to learn to moderate my own extroverted and
introverted behavior, balancing a few hours of out-ness with a few of
aloneness. It doesn’t have to be inside my home, away from the world; just
alone-ness is enough, on a walk, at a museum alone, at a movie alone. As much
as I thrive on connection and conversation, and could indeed talk to the end of
time, I’d be working on fumes by then.
Self-care will be the name of the game. I know that’s
changing the rules a little from how we’ve always been and always communicated, but if I let her know that I’ve introduced a new
rule to our relationship, at least for now—for even one hour out of the 16 we’ll
be spending conscious with one another—I think it will be respected and
absorbed.
It might not be a smooth transition into a different way of
“being together,” but I think in the long run, it will help us both to be
present with the other in a way that feels nurturing.
Which, I think is what a mother-daughter relationship is
supposed to be anyway.

abundance · dishonesty · faith · fear · honesty · recovery · trust · truth

Horse Thief

There’s a phrase I heard when I got to certain rooms in San
Francisco: If you sober up a drunken horse thief, you still have a horse thief.
Lately, I’ve been getting the chance to acknowledge where I
still act from Horse Thief tendencies and impulses.
I was a thief in High School, probably in Junior High, and
actually come to think of it, in college, too. It was sort of “a thing” me and
my friends did, to see what we could get away with, and also, because we were
only stealing from big conglomerate stores, we felt (or at least I did)
justified, since they were always screwing the little man anyway – What did they care if Maybelline mascara went into my pocket? That’s a fraction of a cent they’ve lost in profit, and I’m standing in solidarity with the
Chinese children they hired to mark the packaging. (
Riii….ght.)
I was, however, pretty clear about not stealing from people, only from these big stores, because there was a line I felt I still had to
maintain, a standard of behavior I adhered to. It wasn’t right to take from
little mom & pop shops, or to steal from actual people I knew. That was wrong.
Stealing from the mall was just expected, written into their budgets in some
corporate headquarters somewhere, and therefore right — or at least okay.
It’s been quite some time since I’ve stolen anything. Probably
since before I moved to SF. But that doesn’t exactly mean that the Horse Thief
has been repentant or ousted.
I have all the stores I’ve “reappropriated” from on a list
that I am slowly chipping away at, to make amends to, either by sending in
money for items, or “paying it forward” by donating to a charity. Each will
have a conversation with a trusted friend around it when the time comes.
But, I’ve lately recognized that there is still a pattern of dishonest behavior and thinking that infiltrates my current life.
When I was working through a temp agency while in grad school,
I got to open the invoices to see what the company I worked for was actually paying the temp agency, and it was certainly higher than the rate at which I was being paid by said agency (which, duh, is how they profit). So I approached the company I was working for, and asked if they
would just hire me under the table. That way, my Horse Thief logic went, it was
cheaper for them, and I would get a few more dollars, since it wasn’t going to
be taxed.
Um… Yeah. That didn’t work out so well. Even though I was
“working a program,” even though I could talk about the necessity of honesty
and integrity in life, and seriously really mean it, this dishonesty was
creating holes in my abundance, and in my sobriety/serenity.
Plus, I got caught. The temp agency found me out, and called
the company where I was a receptionist, and when I answered the phone, she
“surprisedly” said, Oh, Hi Molly…
Oops.
So, there were emails and phone calls and conversations
between the HR at the company where I was and the temp agency I’d spurned.
After talking with some trusted friends, I wrote an email to the agency, owning
up to my part of this deception.
And, in the end, when tax time rolled around, I got a 1099
from the company, anyway, since I’d earned a significant amount in the 5 or so
months I temped under the table for them, and I had to pay taxes on that money
anyway. Which meant that I ended up earning less from my time there than I
would have if I’d just continued working through the proper (read: legal)
channels.
I have a moral line about not stealing pens from work, or
using stamps I didn’t pay for. But there are other ways in which this fear of
not being taken care of, this fear that my needs will not be met creeps out.
This poisonous fear seeps into my life, and I make choices
based on that fear. And eventually, I am screwed by it.
It’s been interesting to notice that this is a pattern that
has continued into my adulthood. It’s certainly rooted in a long-held belief
that my needs will not be met. That if I behave along “proper” channels, I
won’t get or have enough. That if I behave by rules and laws that are set down, I will not be taken care of.
So, I better get my fearful, sticky claws into something, I better come up with some better, sneaky ideas, or
else I’ll be eating ramen again.
I get it. I see it.
And I hope to change it.
A trusted friend does a lot of work with affirmations to
counter fear. So, this morning, I used that tool:
I fear my needs will not be met.
I trust that the Universe cares for all my needs.
I fear that no one is looking out for my good.
The Universe cares deeply for me.
Sure, maybe it’s bunk. But, right now, I don’t know another
way, except to “act as if” these things are true. To try to behave in a way
that really does align with my morals, instead of with my fears. 
I have also heard that, with every bought of true honesty or clarity or bill paid on time or phone call from creditor answered, that we are closing up the holes in the sieve that holds abundance. Each time my covers are pulled, I get the chance to be more honest, and thereby the chance to mend the bucket into which the fullness of life is surely always being and going to be poured.
I cannot turn a drunken horse thief (or a sober one for that
matter) into an upstanding citizen. But I can try to trust that I don’t have to
be one anymore. 

dating · fallibility · growth · honesty · humaness · learning

The Longest Lesson

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There is a phrase around here that says something like,
“Life is day at school: Some of the lessons are easy, and some of the lessons
are hard.”
I went back into my email this morning to grab an old
“Oprah/Deepak” meditation (because even though the last 21-day meditation
“challenge” ended a while ago… the link still works!). The one this morning
centered on the thought, “I attract that which I am.”
Sometimes I love this idea. I feel full of love and
potential and vigor, and love that I am attracting that into my world and
orbit.
Today, however, I heard that phrase, and my guts steeled a
little. I attract that which I am.
This isn’t a tear-down of myself, but these few days, I’ve felt
scared, inexpert, impulsive and mistaken. – I sent the blog that said I don’t
want to “escalate” things with the 25 y.o. to the 25 y.o. … I wrote with it, There’s
probably a better and more graceful way to let you know why I have to cancel
Saturday’s date, but here.
And like pulling the pin on a grenade and handing it to him,
I pressed send.
You can imagine this brought about a series of results and
reactions, which I am now attempting to repair. Inexpertly. And perhaps unsuccessfully.
Yesterday morning, I did some writing about my motivations
for doing this and had a conversation sharing this with someone else. It’s part
of the reason I wasn’t able to write yesterday morning.
It feels sucky, is how it feels. It feels shitty to know
that there are different ways to do things, and know you did it otherwise.
I feel sad because I (rightly) pulled the cord on a
potential relationship, and I feel ashamed of how I did that.
It’s okay. I’m human and inexpert, and learning and growing
and trying.
But, that also means I’m attracting into my world people who
are the same – AND WHY CAN’T WE ALL JUST BE FUCKING PERFECT?? Be kind, and honest, and simple all of the time? It would
make this “lesson” much easier, wouldn’t it?
Can’t we all just get A’s, and “go to the head of the
class,” and all be valedictorians?
Can’t we all just stop stubbing our toes against our own
fears and hardships and boogeymen?
Can’t we all just have lives where we feel confident,
expert, proud, self-admiring, and kick-ass?
Why, in order to get to all the above feelings, must we go
through all the stubbing first?
It sense no make.
And I’m tired of being a flailing human being. I’m tired of
doing it almost right, of showing up almost fully. I’m tired of almost feeling
whole and complete and awesome.
Sometimes, I do. I won’t lie. Sometimes, I really really do.
Sometimes it’s for minutes, sometimes for hours. And even a few times, for
days, I feel like I’m really walking on a yellow brick road toward Oz.
And then the trees start to throw apples at me.
I *get* that “this is all part of the process.” But
sometimes the process sucks.
And in my attempts to wriggle out of discomfort, I land in a
higher degree. By being dishonest, abandoning my truth, trying to make someone
else deal with feelings that are uncomfortable or pave a way for me that is
less rocky, well—I know it’s the very absolute best that, as fallible,
learning, human, I can do today. But I wish, well, I wish I didn’t take that
person and potential friendship down in the process.
(End of tantrum)
(…maybe.)

acting · dating · honesty · relationships · self-care

State of the Union

Yesterday, I sat with a group of folks, and admitted that
continuing to participate in activities that I’m not 100% invested in (or even
85%) is dishonest. That I was not being honest with my intentions or
priorities—and was thereby wasting time. (You finite commodity, you.)
There was a meditation/writing portion of this meeting, and
so I wrote a series of questions for myself:
  • How is being dishonest with others serving me?
  • How is prioritizing others’ needs serving me?
  • How is NOT prioritizing my own needs serving me?
  • What need am I
    fulfilling by not prioritizing and
    owning my needs?
  • How is dismissing my desires serving me?
  • How is devaluing myself serving me?

 Heavy, huh?
But, for me, that’s what pushing important things off to
“tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow” is. It’s devaluing myself, what I have
deemed important to myself.
Because I’ve been hemming and hawing a little on letting
those folks know that I can’t come out and play anymore. Even though I am clear
that my priorities and intentions have shifted.
So… Yesterday, I committed to those folks that I would make
two phone calls. One was to the 25 y.o.
He asked, adorably, if he were in trouble, when I said I
wanted to chat when he wasn’t in a café. I said no, but that it was sort of a
“State of the Union” conversation, so to give me a call back.
He did. And we did.
I’d been feeling throughout this week that this couple-dom
wasn’t on course for relationship-land. It’s a pretty appropriate assessment
after a half-dozen dates. We’ve kept it PG-13, so there isn’t any animal-brain
“must keep orgasm giver” going on.
But, I have simply felt like I’ve crystallized that I don’t
want to date this person long-term. It’s just a feeling, not a fear, not a
defense mechanism. Just a fact.
The big however is, I
don’t want to stop seeing him. And thus, my hesitation.
I really enjoy spending time with this person, getting to
know him, getting to know myself in relation to him. And I thoroughly enjoy our
frisky make-out sessions.
So, that’s what I told him. Pretty much all of the above. I
don’t see this heading toward relationship track, but I enjoy spending time
with him, and I enjoy making out with him.
That the outcomes I saw were we transition to
friends, or do that and try to keep with the sexy-time, or do neither. So, he
asked me, then, what I wanted? If I knew what I wanted? And I said, no. I
didn’t know, but perhaps in talking it out, and hearing his thoughts, we might find
some solution.
He admitted and agreed that he was “along for the ride,” but
not in a place to invest in a relationship. So that pretty much leaves us two
options: continue seeing one another with the frequency we have been, or stop
seeing one another.
I replied, honestly, that the idea of seeing him less was
unappealing to me.
(And I have to admit here, that part of my hesitation in
letting go of this couple-dom is that this person is the first I’ve met who is
really in the theater world, has insights, and knowledge, and can point me
toward plays and monologues and acting worksheets and websites—which he has—and if
I let this go, I won’t have that access anymore.
And that, my dear friends, is scarcity mind. That this is
the first person with those bodies of
knowledge does
not mean that he’s
the last person, and to continue a relationship based on a selfish need and
fear of loss is the definition of crappy. Doomed. Dishonest.)
So, at the end of this conversation, we agreed to continue
to see one another on the semi-regular, as we have been, and that if the
ambiguity “gets to” either of us, we can talk about that then.
I did say that I am a person who is wanting a relationship,
and that he deserves someone who thinks he’s the sunandmoonandstars, but, for
right now, no one is blowing down our doors, so… here we are.
I don’t think it’s “settling for less.” I think it’s being
perfectly honest with my desires, honest with my intentions, and my continued
task is to show up in the single world and be available.
That might mean a week more of the hot make-out sessions, it
might mean a month. I don’t know. It is
ambiguous. And we know how I LOVE that. But, I am not willing to let go of this
connection yet, because of what it does for me on multiple levels, nor am I willing
to let go of my intention to have a true partnership with another human being.
In the meantime, I have that list of questions to answer for
and about myself, and some theater websites to explore.