Tuesday, April 27, 2010

DD#56: Dancing in the Now

OK, I'm admitting it - I LOVE male attention. I used to think it was a weakness in me - if I were healthy and strong I wouldn't NEED or want attention from anyone - everything I needed would come from the inside. I'm older and wiser now and understand more about what's realistic and what's magical thinking - what makes a healthy person. Old me = unhealthy and needy/healthy person = no needs! Now me - I'm healthy AND I LOVE male attention.

This past weekend I went dancing both Saturday and Sunday nights and was nurtured and nourished by plenty of male attention. It was so much fun that I felt the glow long after. Saturday's Contra dancing left me so full of joy I had a hard time going to sleep because I was so energized by my experience. I kept replaying the night in my head, renewing the excitement and happiness. I was re-energizing myself instead of relaxing so I could drift off to sleep, subsequently I only got about 3 hours of rest which didn't stop me from doing it again on Sunday night:>))

Dancing gives me so much joy. It's everything I love about feeling connected while being present in my body. I love moving to the music, I love the touch, I love feeling the music, I love the male attention, I love the flirting, I love the connecting. What's not to love about all that?

I used to go out with friends expressing the "I'm just going to dance" perspective, but it was a lie. I went out with my paradoxical self. The desperate part was on the hunt and said, "I'm going to have fun and this time I'll meet my dream man". The fearful part was terrified and said, "What if nobody asks me to dance?!" I spent many hours sitting or standing around waiting for the right man to ask me to dance, certain the whole time that I was not worth asking.

I'm here to say that we can change that old stuff! I know more about who I am - my authentic self - the strong, attractive, confident, loving woman who has so much to offer. The woman who is definitely worthy of love - especially the most important love - love of herself. 

With incredible courage and willingness I have tackled the old beliefs that darkened my perspective and shined light on them. In the light of love and reality, they have shriveled like the wicked witch in the Wizard of Oz. They're just ashes to be dusted away when they show up in me. I know they will pop up unexpectedly, but now I can recognize them for what they really are and lovingly say "Good Bye" to them.

So now I LET myself have fun and shine knowing that it's happening to me here and now. Joy doesn't need to be viewed through my past or hide out and wait for some magical future. I'm Dancing in the Now!

Friday, April 23, 2010

DD#55: Loving My Body

I'm sitting at my desk in my jammies with pale pink & black plaid bottoms and a soft pink top. I love soft fabric against my skin. This color of pink makes me feel very feminine and soft, too. That's how I'm feeling these days - soft and feminine - receptive. I am very sensual - aware and feeling at a sensory level and how that colors my perspective. Part of my gift to me is loving myself in ways that are very different from "rewarding" myself. My sensual nature encourages the expressions of this self love in many forms.

I abused my body for most of my life - taking it for granted, ignoring its pleas to stop what I was doing - to be kind and gentle to this physical gift that houses my emotions, intellect, and spirit. I worshiped the intellect, sometimes nurtured the spiritual and beat the h-- out of my poor body - often referring to my body as "the body" as if it were somehow separate from me.  I hated my body - it wasn't perfect!

For as long as I can remember, I've compared my body to the "perfection" pounded into my head by a multitude of messages. I succumbed to the standards interpreted by the media, my family, my friends, and most of all, my inner perfectionist. I tried many ways to learn to love my body and accept myself on a deeper level than simply being defined by my body. It all felt like a lie. As I looked in the mirror and smiled and said, "I love my body!", inside I was screaming "That's a lie! I hate my body!" I punished myself by eating more and heaping on the abusive habits and the pounds. 

I was miserable and turned to my relief valve: magical thinking. Yes, I got into my head where I felt strong and reasoned my way into the kind of thinking that kept me in the misery loop at full speed. I thought up plans to "fix" me. I read about others who had overcome their hatred of their bodies by going on the latest diet. I was working harder to AVOID taking action than the action itself would have taken. Why? Because I wasn't ready to do what it takes to get what I wanted. I was looking for a silver bullet, the painless pill, the magic way to lose weight without having to do anything. I wanted a cure that didn't include the only thing that works: eating less and moving more.

Looking back on my journey, it's clear to me that I wasn't ready until I was ready. Sounds simple, doesn't it? Well, it's simply profound. Two years ago, I was ready. I didn't know I was ready, but I was led to a program that has offered what works for me: structure, accountability, balance, healthy foods, avoiding trigger foods like flour and sugar, and letting the Universe guide me. I didn't want any of these things, but was desperate enough to be open to giving it a try.

So, after losing 60+ pounds, I'm in a healthy, normal size body that I have maintained for about 18 months. Did losing the weight cure my magical thinking? Well, it did end my fantasies of losing weight and eating healthy - that's real now. Did it free me from my obsession with my body? Kind of. I'm much more accepting now, but realize that deep down inside, I imagined that when (if!) I ever reached this weight, somehow a much slimmer 20 year old would be reflected in my mirror! If that's not magical thinking, I don't know what is. What a shock to see my fat, imperfect body become the thinner, imperfect body of a woman in her early 60's! Who is this stranger? I was completely dismayed to watch my body shrink like a deflated balloon leaving behind sags and wrinkles that had never been part of my vision of me in a thinner body! (OK, I know I've used several !!! in a row, but this is powerful stuff for me!!) 

Anyway, now I love myself, including a special kind of love for my body. I love feeling healthy, more maneuverable, more flexible. I like that I take up less space. I like buying cute clothes in single digit sizes. I like being able to find stylish smaller clothes at a thrift shop for a couple of bucks. I like that my clothes fit on hangers instead of falling off one side because of how large they are. I like the admiring looks I get, (not from young men as in my 20 year old vision), but from older men, close to my age. I like feeling good about me - and as far as I'm concerned, I've almost completely let go of the perfectionism about my body. I'm more accepting and willing to do things that show my appreciation for this very important part of me. I take sensual pleasure in moving through my life aware on all three levels: body/mind/spirit. I now understand that our bodies are genuine gifts - they're the package that holds the other two gifts: mind and spirit. I like my package gift wrapped and beautiful in honor of what it contains.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

DD#54: More Lessons in Life...

Here it is, several weeks since my last entry and my commitment to do 90 blogs in 90 days is far from perfect. Guess it is my way of practicing a very important life changing philosophy for a perfectionist like me: progress, not perfection. 

I'd like to continue my last blog entry with the details of my conversation with Mr X and have been putting it off because I've learned that I'm a lot better at speaking dialogue than I am at writing it. I have it in my head, but somehow it seems overwhelming to write it with all of the correct punctuation --- and here comes my perfectionist! OMG - my evil twin has reared her ugly head again - yes, I'm a grammar and punctuation snob and she's large and in charge right now. 

What I can do right now is to share how courageous I was to take the lead in this very emotional conversation. How my willingness to speak my truth with clear, clean communication, gave Mr X the courage to speak his truth, too. What I learned from this very important call was that I was better equipped to take the lead in this situation. I have always remained passive and by my non-action, allowed others to make my emotional decisions for me. I have been a willing victim of other people's choices because I didn't speak up for myself unless I had been pushed into a corner and had to come out swinging. So speaking my truth was always confrontational - involving anger and frustration and major fear. 

In my commitment to being authentic, I understood that Mr X was not a bad man, but was going through a painful process and didn't know how to communicate it verbally. I led him through this process and at the end of our phone call, he said I was much braver than he was and that he didn't have the right words - I had helped him find the words and ultimately be honest. He was bothered by not replying to my email and it haunted him, but he didn't know how to handle it any other way. He also didn't see any options for "us" at this time since he couldn't imagine being in a loving relationship without his version of sex. 

In that single conversation, I learned much about him and it was clear to me then, that by making that call - taking the lead - I had cleared up any confusion over whether I was letting the best man I'd ever met slip away in fear. I understood that I wanted much more from the man in my life than sex. I believe sex is a very important part of a loving relationship and I want a partner (husband) who is open and vibrant -AND, I need to feel a deep spiritual connection too. 

We must be connected at all three levels: body/mind/spirit. If one is missing, the other two  just limp along until the road gets rough. Since the relationship isn't strong enough to survive the rocky terrain, it crumbles apart and falls by the wayside, piece by broken piece, leaving two very injured souls. Most of us have endured this horrible experience and carry the scars to prove it. I couldn't turn a blind eye to this very real scenario with Mr X, even though he had taught me what a loving husband could be. Mr X was adrift and couldn't see a life boat in sight - I faced my fear and helped him beyond his own, so we both learned from it.

I took the lesson and walked away with a couple of bruises and incredible awareness of who I am and what I have to offer others. My courage to be a leader in modeling how to be honest and clear in our message to ourselves and others was validated and I am grateful. Living in my own truth and using my voice is a powerful way to live my purpose: I'm here to show others how to learn to love themselves fully and honestly, so they can love others in the same way. I'm willing to learn how to reach inside and communicate through that spark of the Divine that resides in everyone and connects us to each other as we move through the Divine Energetic Soup that unites us with our Beloved.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

DD#53: Getting there from here...

I've been on an intellectual/emotional/spiritual binge and didn't have the oomph to write, what with all that thinking, feeling, and praying going on. I was so caught up in my inner life, I hardly had time to do anything at all in my outer life beyond the bare basics of fueling my body and getting what sleep I could manage. Oh, yes, one more thing: talking the ears off of every dear friend with the loving patience to listen and support me in both my joy and pain. If I was forced to grow during this adventure, I was going to drag them along so they could learn too - kind of my payback to the Universe - my two-for-one deal.

I've known for many years that I don't have a good history when it comes to romantic relationships and when I decided to dip my toe back into the dating pool, it was with some trepidation and a vow to do certain things: be authentic (honestly me), be vulnerable, take big risks (big for me, anyway) by doing it different, feel the joy and be willing to feel any growing pains, and finally to remember to do relationship by committee (hint: I'm not always able to see through my blind spots, but family and friends who love me have clear vision and my permission to get my attention with a 2x4 if necessary).

So my dating game started several months ago on an internet singles site. Flirts, emails, phone calls, and coffee dates. I've met some interesting men along the way and learned something valuable about myself from each of them. This recent man (Mr. X) who crossed my path to teach me something was wonderful. I learned much about myself and him from our budding relationship. 

He was SO appropriate! Yes, absolutely APPROPRIATE! I was smitten from the 1st real date. I was in love with being in love and it felt SOOOOO great! He was perfect. After spending some time with him I made a shift in my consciousness and realized that because of this man, I was no longer asking the Universe for a partner - I wanted a husband. (OMG! Did I actually mean "HUSBAND"?) Well, yes, I did. This was the first man I'd ever been interested in who knew how to be a husband. He was my first role model and I was totally loving it and him. 

I planned my spring wedding and visualized my future life with him fantasizing about how phenomenal it would be - the two of us, blending families, traveling, laughing, joking, sharing, loving, deeply connected intimacy, the whole enchilada. This man brought out the best in me and said I brought out the best in him. What a match we were. We were blissfully engaged in flirty, witty emails and phone conversations, so stimulated by our exchanges that I eagerly anticipated every second I could spend with him. We played, we laughed, we talked, we teased, we planned, we enjoyed each other so much. 

Do you hear the sound of the approaching monster "Jaws" yet? Well, I absolutely didn't. Actually neither did he (at least I don't believe he did). We were spending as much time together as two busy people can and talking and flirting our way into "committed relationship" country. Then a little problem reared its ugly head (or didn't) and things began a rapid downward spiral. 

He couldn't imagine himself in an relationship without the "S"(ex) word and his Dr. was telling him that was history for him - he was devastated. He panicked and re-focused on getting busy with many projects to keep his mind occupied so he didn't have to think about what he used to think about all the time. 

More and more was being revealed to me about the perfect Mr X. What did he mean when he said he didn't want to be in a relationship unless sex was involved? Did that mean that the only reason he'd be interested in me in the first place was that he was attracted to me sexually? I mean, I've heard that men think of sex 60 times more often than women, but is it the ONLY reason to be with someone? What about having fun together? What about doing things together? What about enjoying closeness? What about all of the "alternative" methods of reaching sexual fulfillment? I was full of questions and he had one answer: no deal. 

I arrived home after a weekend away with friends and saw the writing on the wall - his email saying he wanted me to find a much younger man who could match my vitality and say good bye to him.  It broke my heart. I saw him as so much more than that. When we talked, he apologized and said he didn't want to hurt me but he just couldn't be with me - he didn't want to be with anyone. If he could be with anyone, it would be me because I was fabulous (I knew that!), but he just didn't feel anything anymore - that part of his life was a "dead zone" now and that was more than he could bear. The part of himself with which he most closely identified was MIA and he didn't know how he could recreate himself.

He asked for a couple of weeks to get used to this new version of himself. We would stay in communication via email and phone. I knew he was in pain and asked him to allow himself to receive my love and support and that we could make it through this together. 

We exchanged chatty emails and talked a couple of times over the next two days. When I knew he was coming to my home to help me do something he'd agreed to before the bad news hit him, I asked him if it was OK to hug. He said hugs were good, but when he arrived and I hugged him, he was noticeably uncomfortable and when I reached up to give him a peck on the cheek, he quickly turned his head fearing that I'd zoom in on his mouth, I guess. We had the same experience when he dropped me off and walked me to my door. 

How could it be so uncomfortable only two days after it had been so fantastic? I was reeling and trying my best to be patient and supportive. I wanted to honor his request for some time to get straight with this new situation. 

The phone calls stopped and we exchanged ever shorter emails over the next couple of days. Finally, I realized that even though this man's unilateral decision had impacted me and I was feeling sad and hurt, I had stepped into an old behavior of protecting him from my feelings. I wanted to suffer in silence so I wouldn't bother him or be too much trouble, or even feared to let him think I was deeply hurt. After all, I'm a strong woman who's survived much worse than this and bounced back. I would tough this out by myself. My old thoughts about men in general began to creep into my grief, but I knew it was just a flash of old stuff, nothing big. But here I was protecting him from me. 

I decided to send  him an email that was chatty and subtly referred to my sadness. It was beautiful and I edited it to say just exactly what I meant. I decided to take the biggest risk yet and hit "send". I anxiously watched for his reply the next morning (our pattern was my email at night and his reply early in the morning) and when I arose, there it was. His response to my missing him was "hang in there". 

When I feel connected to someone, I get a spiritual/physical feeling of separation when they detach. With two previous men, as they walked away from my home I felt them detach. I'd felt connected to Mr X, even as he drove away, even when he was in his home and I was in mine, I felt our connection like a physical presence. It's something I've always felt with people and I'm even more aware of it as I grow in recovery.

I was feeling Mr X detach and fearfully, I wrote another chatty email that night then checked my inbox as soon as I was up the next morning - no reply. OK, I'll be fine - just keep checking - OK, still nothing, but it's OK, he's probably busy, more OK's - it's OK, I'll be OK, OK, where the H-- is his reply??? I checked constantly that day, the next day and the next morning. By then I was a mess because my brain was in overdrive jumping from one scenario to the next. The one thing I couldn't deny was my sense that he was detaching. I thought of how I'd practiced being patient, letting things play out, waiting (W8NC), and taking the risk of trusting the Universe that I would be guided. I prayed, I meditated, I took my dilemma to quiet time, I talked with friends and sought their counsel. I wanted to call Mr X and be straightforward - was he in or was he out? What did his silence mean? 

When I talked with a good friend she told me to take care of myself and  honor who I truly am. That statement took me to quiet time again. Hey God, who am I really? Am I a willful, stubborn woman who MUST have her way? Is my need to call  him being manipulative? I was full of questions and decided to ask them and sit in silence until I received my response. 

I got my answer in the simplest of messages: Toni, you are a person who is clear and clean in your communication with yourself and others. You are courageous and appreciate clean cuts. You hate hacked off, strung out, messy endings. You're a practical woman who is resilient and will be OK with this no matter what the outcome, and a phone call would be taking care of yourself and honoring who you are. So I dialed his number.