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REFLECTIONS:

Freeing yourself was one thing; claiming ownership of that freed self was another.

Toni Morrison

Thanksgiving is upon me and this year I will do something different. Typically, the day has meant a feast of food with family and friends, with a cursory nod to gratitude. This October, I am on a liver cleanse and by myself, so overeating rich food and enjoying the company of family and friends will not happen. So instead I will enjoy my own company and give thanks for my good fortune. Just as I was preparing to enumerate that for which I am grateful, I was interrupted by a knock at the door. As per usual on writing days, I was still in my PJS at noon…pretty ones (thanks to Blog Post #2), but PJS, none the less. Embracing the newly confident me, I strode to the front door and whisked it open! Look  what the universe delivered!

Much to Give Thanks For

2 handsome and helpful Firemen!

They wanted permission to inspect the house and surrounding yard in order to assign a ‘Home and Site’ Hazard Level. They were bearers of a warning. The home created by my husband and me over the last 20 years, currently has an extremely high hazard level. An unexpected spark would set everything ablaze and likely all would turn to ashI wanted to ask how they knew transformation was upon this house and all who lived here, but instead  asked if I could take their picture for my Blog. 

This interruption gave me pause, and created a shift in the direction of my thoughts. Out of the fire rose the phoenix! It is time to recognize the changes I have made.  To acknowledge that which I have achieved. I have no problem in identifying my faults, my areas that still need ‘work’, but today I will begin to share a balanced view of my life.  It is time to give thanks to me for having worked hard to transform into a kinder, healthier, and more self-possessed woman. 

I have not lived in our home for 1 1/2 years, and am here now because my husband is away for the weekend. Alone, I can reminisce, reflect and rejoice! I am not the frightened and insecure woman that I was in 2004/2005. That was when I began the journey to become a woman who no longer felt fragmented, lost or unloved or expected her happiness to be the responsibility of her partner.

IMAGE FROM MY 2004/2005 JOURNAL – Titled  ‘Unloved and Unhappy’

UNLOVED and UNHAPPY

2ND IMAGE FROM MY 2004/2005 JOURNAL – Titled ‘Feeling Isolated and Lost’

FEELING ISOLATED AND LOST

My external life looked pretty perfect, even to me, in the years leading up to 2004. I had a very successful husband, and 2 beautiful and brilliant daughters. I had lived in Europe for 7 years and was now back in Western Canada living the life. I had had to give up my teaching career, due to the severity of my autoimmune disease, so I busied myself with three roles; that of wife/mother/volunteer. But by 2004, my journal entries, drawings and dreams, began to express my internal angst. My inner world was trying to crack open the perfect facade of my outer world. I would never say that the roles of wife, mother and volunteer prevented me from being the woman I was born to be, but they unwittingly provided a safe haven for a lost soul. At that point in my unfolding, I would have been at wits end without the many demands placed on me by family and various organizations. In being ‘busy’ and materially driven, I could attempt to avoid the calling from my soul. In fact my life became the picture perfect Graph, illustrating the concept of Inverse Proportions! The further I moved from addressing the needs of my heart and soul, the more stridently I carried out my tasks as wife/mother/volunteer. I had very clear ideas on how things should look, how people should act, and what goals everyone should aspire to.

The less I lived from my heart, the more I tried to control the lives of others.

Avoiding My Life Turned Me into an Exacting Commander

I could have continued to live the rest of my life like this, never bothering to delve below the pretty surface. Most people do. But instead I mustered up the courage and began the monumental and life altering journey to discover my soul’s desire. I became an adherent to the famous words of Socrates,”The unexamined life is not worth living.”

 It began with finding “A Room of One’s Own.” I needed space alone where I could sort through the web of my life. I was very fortunate in being able to buy a cottage on Vancouver Island, near the water, where the crash of waves could penetrate the seemingly impenetrable wall I had built around my heart and soul…where I could begin the process of extricating the real me from the image of me…where I could unearth the woman buried beneath illness, obligation, busyness and my persona of happiness. In the past 8 years I have transformed into a more self-possessed woman. I am not the lost, little girl alone on a couch. Nor am I overwhelmed by the world. I no longer feel the need to organize and control others. I feel safe in the unpredictability of life.

ASPIRATIONS FOR WEEK 14 OF 52

CHANGING FROM SELF-ABASEMENT TO SELF-CONGRATULATIONS

I am proud of myself. 5 words I believe to be true, but I rarely verbalize. So this day, the day of giving thanks, I want to thank me!

1. I want to thank me for having shown the courage of honesty … the courage to admit my character flaws and the courage to make amends to those I have hurt.

2. I want to thank me for spending 18 months on a raw food diet that included drinking 2 ounces of wheat grass daily, in hopes of creating a healthier body(drinking wheat grass takes real courage).

3. I want to thank me for overcoming virgivitiphobia, a fear of being raped, pillaged and killed on a nightly basis. I no longer sleep with all the lights on nor a knife. 

4. I want to thank me for having the courage to pursue a lifelong dream to be a writer. Me, who scored in the 10th percentile for spellers in Canada(meaning 90% of young Canadians were better spellers) Me, who achieved an ‘F’ on a University essay interpreting Shakespeare! Me, the Math and Statistics wizard,  a writer? Well I’ve done it! I invite all of you to attend my first Book Launch on November 21st in Qualicum Beach, BC. Copies of the book, The Memory Shop, are available for sale…really. Even I am incredulous!

I’m One of the Authors

 

So for Week 14 of 52, I will remember to present a balanced perspective of me! I will celebrate when I achieve success, when I do something that feeds my soul and warms my heart.

 

 

REFLECTIONS

If equal affection cannot be,

Let the more loving one be me.

-W. H. Auden

I wanted to stop today’s post with these 2 lines from W.H. Auden and not write another thought. The truth of 12 simple words makes me weep with the despair of knowing that I have been that desperate person, the one who loves more, the one who loves too much. I weep with the despair of knowing that I have begged for love from a man who was somewhat indifferent towards me. Because I was so desperate, so full of need and longing for love, I was easy prey for a man who wanted a relationship that required very little emotional investment from him. And now I’m going to say it…HE DID NOT LOVE ME. He did not love me. That was not love. Words of love may have been spoken, but those words lacked the accompaniment of heartfelt emotion.

To elaborate on the lengths to which I went to elicit even a modicum of love, first from my Father, and then from my husband, makes me sad beyond what I think I can endure. I don’t want to believe I am THAT woman…the one everyone knows should not stand by her man, but does. But I am that woman.

For the past 12 hours I have argued with myself. One voice says,”Just don’t bother writing. The Other Woman Blog is just some whiny, crazy rant – just get on with it, your life is good, you are so well provided for, don’t upset the apple cart, you can do whatever you want and go wherever you want …so go out, enjoy the day, forget about opening wounds.” This voice is countered by a second voice that says, “How many more years do you want to waste, clinging to the fantasy that one day he will love you. Yes you have lived a life that was materially privileged, but it was emotionally bereft. You have not been loved and this makes you unhappy, being loved is more important than you think!”

I’ve become…

Dr. Dolittle’s PushMe-PullYou

This animal’s going nowhere…and neither will I unless I allow myself to acknowledge the truth and feel the ensuing pain. On the right, I attempt to stifle the grief I feel from a loveless marriage, desperately clinging to the very thing that hurts me… my loveless marriage. On the left I want to transform, have hope, believe I can find love. I cringe in recognition when I observe a child  seeking solace from the very parent that moments before delivered a slap… this parent being their sole source of comfort. When I was broken hearted on discovering my husband’s affair, I cried on his shoulder, seeking consolation from him, the perpetrator. He was my everything, my ‘other half’, my soul mate, my best friend! I had opened my heart to no one else, he had all of me.

At 10, I shut down my feelings in an act of desperation, born out of emotional negligence. Although clothed, fed and educated, my parents were at a loss when it came to love. My sensitive, intuitive nature didn’t suit the authoritarian, patriarchal motif of my home. I was lonely and in need of someone to help me understand the incomprehensible attitudes and behaviour of my parental unit. The pressure of family pride forced me to present only the persona of a happy, successful child. The discrepancy between the turmoil in my heart and my happy child persona was unbearable.  I contemplated suicide on a dark wintery night. Cup in hand I walked down the stairs to our cold, dank basement, planning to end my intolerable life. Staring at the poisonous bleach bottle, I wanted to end my life. Fear of the searing pain of bleach stopped me, not the belief that anything in my life would change. I walked back upstairs, sharing my ordeal with no one. In order to cope with this injury to my soul, I became an automaton, closed to my heart’s desires, closed to my intuition. I embraced the known. I became a great student, an obedient child, and then a materialistic adult.

ASPIRATIONS FOR WEEK 12 of 52

Changing from Sisyphus to Hope

I was drawn to admitting the tyranny of my Father in Week 8, Changing from Suppression to Communication, because my left shoulder began to ache. 4 weeks later my shoulder is back to normal. Now, this gives me hope that I am on the right path.Further proof… I just returned from my Rheumatologist, who calls me The Poster Child for Arthritis, because I am now a picture of health. No longer am I anemic, with minuscule platelets, high cholesterol, inflammation, poor vision and a malfunctioning thyroid.

The symptom I do have though is a crazy itchy irritation in my eyes. They are red, runny and I feel like scratching them out of my head. Of course I have asked myself the obvious question, “What don’t I want to see?” After writing in a painstakingly slow manner in today’s post, it is becoming apparent, even to me.

Am I going to be Sisyphus, and continue to roll the burden of a loveless marriage up the hill again, knowing the outcome will be the same?  Or am I going to be Hope and let that burden roll down the hill, once and for all time. The momentum of such a great burden will result in a downward speed that will see that burden buried, deep in the soil, for ever.

The Burden of Sisyphus

On the weekend, I attended a Workshop with my Herbalist, Annette Bossert. She gave me the opportunity to enact the death of my loveless marriage. I carried the largest boulder I could manage, around a lake. This boulder symbolized my burden of living without love. It weighed me down, kept me off balance, took so much of my energy. The only emotion in this encounter, came from me. The rock was cold and indifferent. Eventually I had enough and hurled my burden as far as I could, deep into the lake. The grief  from this death came in shoulder heaving waves. Once my crying subsided, I could see the beauty of nature, the camaraderie of friends and the lightness in my step.

I then gathered up symbols of hope…red berries to symbolize my hope for passion, a bluebell to symbolize my hope that I bloom into The Other Woman, purple tufts from a thistle to symbolize my hope for wisdom, a heart rock to symbolize my hope for love, and in the centre a wise Hag, my Elder, who will guide me from the darkness of grief to the light of hope for new beginnings.

So for week 12 of 52, I will no longer be Sisyphus, carrying the endless burden of a loveless marriage. Instead I will be Hope, whose name means confident expectation, having a firm belief in things that are unclear or unknown!

Symbols of Hope

REFLECTIONS

I’m utterly comfortable using my pretty green cup from week 1’s change. My morning coffee is now tasty in a pretty cup. I don’t feel prettier or more feminine, but the first step into the mystery of transformation, may come from acknowledging where I am stuck…

Week 2’s challenge was to change my pyjama style.

As expected, gathering my tattered, faded, yet, oh so coveted pyjamas, into a pile to discard, caused me anxiety. If my plan had been to wear the new, but keep the old tucked safely into the back of a drawer, I would have been okay. But real change must elicit discomfort. So after staring at the pile for 2 days, I reluctantly washed, folded and donated 5 pairs of pyjamas. I did not embrace the new. It felt as though I had gone shopping with a friend and after much persuading, I purchased her recommendations. Something like the Reality Show, “What Not To Wear.” We, the audience, agree that the transformed woman looks better in her freshly chosen clothes, but I wonder if she feels as comfortable in this ‘new look’ as her smile would indicate or if once the lights and cameras are off and she is sitting in the dull light of her own room, she weeps.

My one consolation, no one sees me in bed. I cannot imagine wearing a dress with heels in public…maybe Week 52…

ASPIRATIONS FOR Week 3 of 52

CHANGING MY EXPECTATIONS OF LOVE

ImageImage

I have spent my life searching for love, and as that memorable song from Urban Cowboy advised, I was looking in all the wrong places.

I was looking for love in all the wrong places,

Looking for love in too many faces

Searching your eyes, looking for traces

Of what.. I’m dreaming of…

Hopin’ to find a friend and a lover

God bless the day I discover

Another heart, lookin’ for love

Being an extremely literal person in the past (only recently do I truly understand the concept of metaphor) I thought this meant to stay out of the bars!

On reflection I admit that the places I have looked for love were found in the material world of accumulation. I have sought men with money, men with looks, men with power and men with brains.

But I now think love is more than a dozen roses, a Mensa Membership or a Rolex. I have accepted many gifts in the years of my relationships. I’m not denying the value of material expressions of love but I think the feeling accompanying the gift has to mean more to me than the gift itself. The material generosity must no longer supplant the heart.

I also believed in the theory that once a relationship lacked love, merely changing the man would correct the problem. Several years, several men later, I did clue into the fact that maybe I had to do some of the changing.

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world”. Ghandi.

So if I believe in what Ghandi says, I must be a loving person if I am to find love in a relationship. And herein lies my challenge. I have spent hours trying to understand what a loving behavior looks like. I’ve read through countless articles and quotes on love and decided for me, that true love must embody altruistic giving. As usual, Oscar Wilde says it most eloquently!

Oscar Wildequotes:

To give and not expect return, that is what lies at the heart of love.

So, the new behavior that I will adopt for this week and maintain for the year of The Other Woman, will ask this of me. Each day I will give something to someone, expecting nothing in return. I have now come to believe that whenever I hold an expectation of response, I pervert my act of giving.

Simply put, I will not expect a wave from the car I let in front of me, nor a thank you for the door I held open, nor a return compliment from the friend I just complimented.

As soon as I wait for a specific response or any response at all, I am in a controlling mindset. I gave this so you must give that… a quid pro quo expectation.

I will practice giving anonymously without any expectation of reciprocity.

For I must learn that even though I love someone, there can be no expectation that they will reciprocate my love.

If I desire the freedom to love whomever I want, with the accompanying freedom to express this love as I am so moved to express it, I must then give this to every person alive.

What I want for myself I must lovingly give to others.

I chose photos of 2 women( my daughter’s ideas); one woman who seems to embody materialistic love, Kim Kardashian and in contrast, one woman who seems to embody altruistic love, Aung San Suu Kyi. I apologize to both Kim Kardashian and Aung Sann Suu Kyi for shoving you into broad, all encompassing categories to serve my own needs. No one is as unidimensional as my depiction would imply.

But when I need a visual in my quest to embody the energy of The Other Woman, I will picture the altruism of Aung San Suu Kyi.

REFLECTIONS

I made a very insignificant change last week in my move towards being The Other Woman. I changed my morning coffee cup from a huge pink mug with an unattractive lady moose in curlers and a housecoat gracing the front, to a pretty green cup. I thought such a small move would do nothing internally, but seemed like an obvious place to begin. First cup of the day, make it pretty. But the impact of this move has been very noticeable to me.

This insignificant shift has left me feeling slightly vulnerable, more exposed. I feel less certain as I go through my days. I feel people are talking about me, judging me, laughing at me.

Logically I know this is not true, because no one knows I have done this. So the voices of ridicule live in me. The voices demand I stay as I am, stay where I belong, stay in the comfort of the known.

In just trying the most innocuous of moves towards embodying The Other Woman, I am agitated. I feel dishonest, as though I am  putting myself above my station.

I belong in the ‘not pretty’ category of women. I am comfortable looking in the mirror and seeing someone who is not pretty. I have never called myself pretty no matter how I may have been described by others. Objectively, I am sure I would be considered pretty, but that intellectual piece of knowledge, does not influence what I ‘see’ when I look in a mirror.

Because I feel The Other Woman believes she is pretty, moving one step into her world, creates COGNITIVE DISSONANCE. I learned this phrase in Psyche 100, back when I was 18, and now I am experiencing the sensation. Cognitive Dissonance is the discomfort created by holding conflicting perceptions simultaneously.

I am not pretty but this is a cup that a pretty woman would use.

ASPIRATIONS FOR WEEK 2 of 52

CHANGING MY PYJAMA STYLE

This week I am going to give up, once and for all time, my ugly pyjamas. I know I will find this hard, and it has nothing to do with the physical comfort of the change. It’s not as if I’ve been wearing 100% cotton and am now converting to  rayon or silk where one quick move might have you slipping off the bed onto the floor. Nor is there any scratchy lace.

The new pyjamas are 100% cotton .

So where is my anxiety coming from? Could it be that the new pyjamas are so pretty and I don’t feel pretty.

I think my comfort with the old get-up, comes from its unattractiveness. It matches how I feel when I am being honest with myself. I have always maintained that it is the comfort of the big Lakers shirt that is so appealing, but that is not really true.

I have owned and worn more attractive sleepwear over the years, but to be honest, they never last. They get shoved to the back of my drawer as I greet the night donning my ancient Gap bottoms and my Laker waffle top.

I suspect it will be easier to wear the pretty Pyjamas when I am at a hotel or staying with friends, than at home where I am most honest with who I am.

I now have a big pile of old worn Gap pyjama sets ready for recycling.

I have bought 3 new sets of pyjamas.

So for the next 51 weeks of this transformation I will wear pretty pyjamas.

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