Thursday, January 19, 2012

My two Saras - Part II

Ever find that friend that you think about every day no matter where they are geographically or in their life? I have several of those and two of those girls happen to share the same name. I think about each of them every day for different reasons. If you haven't red Part I, you can find it here.

A Beautiful Sunflower

I had briefly met Sara a few times at different events of a mom's group that I was a part of before my life got hectic and crazy with work and school, but there was one particular day that I remember seeing her and thinking, "Man, I really want to hang out with her!" Whenever I get those nagging feelings like that, I normally listen to them and follow through with them because I view them as opportunities for lessons and boy was I in for a surprise.

We met at the park for our first meeting and just talked about whatever topics came up, letting our kids play in the sun. She struck me as absolutely know one of those girls that just glows when you see them. She is a mom of three girls, married to a guy she is completely committed to and loves to talk. She has a thirst for life that is contagious and a presence you constantly want to be around. She has so much to share with the world and I'm one of those that can sit and listen to her chatter all day long. She brings this comfort and glow to all conversations and when looking at her, like I said, she just oozes happiness. There are periods when she's not so happy but she looks at the positive in EVERY episode.

She's on her own journey of life dealing with what is thrown her way and she has had some curve balls She also has a gift of being a natural born teacher. This is where I benefited from her presence. After meeting Sara for the first time we ended up getting a few girls together on a regular basis, some that I so dearly miss right now and letting our kids play while we ate, drank, and talked about whatever came up. One of those mornings, I came having had just gotten in contact with my mom after not seeing her for 25 years, a story I still need to write. I came to the group with this pure and utter joy that I had never felt before and described the experience to my friends including this feeling of complete happiness and joy. When I shared what was going on with Sara, she started talking to me a little about what she had learned through her experience and questioning of life.

She told me something like this "That feeling that you feel, that utter joy and want to share it with everybody, that's LOVE, Amanda. And that type of LOVE is what God is." With my past experiences, I've had some trouble with God and religion and at this time was still in a searching stage as far as figuring out what God was to me. Everything for me in that moment, clicked. I walked away from that conversation completely a changed person. With my mom finding me, I felt complete. I knew where I had come from and that hole that made me feel so empty had been fulfilled. It wasn't my mom and the sense of "needing" a mother that fulfilled the hole , it was the feeling of what came with that experience. That feeling of love is something I had never felt before and through Sara and my own experiences, I learned how to give that love to myself. I now understood what people felt when they had their spiritual awakenings or had accepted God into their lives.

Over the course of several months, Sara and I would talk about what the definition of God meant to us, our purpose of life, the characteristics of humans and how to live in peace. She taught me so many lessons about life, how to embrace emotion and ride the wave of the emotion rather than resisting it was an important one. I wanted to be around her all the time. We would text or talk every single day each of us wondering how the other was doing, both of us learning from our conversations with each other.

Sara ended up having to leave Arizona to be in her own environment back in Massachusetts, where she feels at peace and I was very sad to see her go but so very happy for her because she was going to a place that had what she needed. The desert and the blandness of it was not for her. The forest, the green, the change of seasons, being in nature is her "home". I miss her dearly, our talks, the lessons, and OMG, her food. That girl can COOK! We still continue to share as much as we can with each other. Life has put us on pause as for as our relationship goes, but it's not scary and I know she is not one that I will ever lose in the paths of life.

How We Are All Connected

I know this because in her most important lesson of all she showed me. She taught me that we are all interconnected, through each other, through the earth, the animals and everything that exists. There's no need to make it to society's step ladder of celebrities to try and make a difference in the world; just being, existing, and living in a positive manner with the "love" that we hold is all that we need to do to make a change in the world.

After learning this lesson, I let go of my dreams of becoming famous and wanting to write that best selling novel or become the world renowned therapist. I also saw something that was happening that I wasn't even aware of until I the idea to write about my two Saras came in my head. While Sara ( the beautiful sunflower) was living her life and sharing her own experiences she made an impact on me and because of her lessons I changed my life and could not be more at peace. I shared these changes and these lessons with Sara (the queens of awkward situations) and I am watching her change her life through those lessons. The queen of awkward situations will share her experiences with another person and they will change their lives because of  it and THAT is how change happens.

It's almost like a little secret. When you learn what unconditional love is and can apply it to yourself and your life, you see life in a different light. You see people in a different light and can pin point others that have it. It's a gut feeling, an instinct. Not everyone wants to hear what you have to say about it. In the year that I've gained this knowledge I've only shared it with one other person besides the other Sara and I don't know if there will be another person. I just live the roller coaster of life, constantly learning, changing and sharing my own experiences in hopes that they will help others.

"Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some people move our souls to dance. They awaken us to a new understanding with the passing whisper of their wisdom. Some people make the sky more beautiful to gaze upon. They stay in our lives for a while, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same." -Flavia Weedn

This is my favorite picture of her. It's one that I took
in our neighborhood park one day where I thought
she looked absolutely beautiful. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

My two Saras - Part I

Ever find that friend that you think about every day no matter where they are geographically or in their life? I have several of those and two of those girls happen to share the same name. I think about each of them every day for different reasons. One of them walked into my life unexpectedly, for a short amount of time and needed to leave for her own reasons and the other I sought out myself expecting just to have a few questions answered and landed with a friendship that is very precious to me despite it's odd circumstances. Here are their stories...

The Queens of Awkward Situations

One night my husband and I were walking along in Home Depot after we had been together for about two years and we hadn't had the talk about the exes in our lives yet. I don't remember why I decided to ask him in Home Depot of all places about his ex, he or I could have said something that reminded him of her and he decided to share the story with me. This happens quite a bit in our marriage, we're not shy about sharing stories with each other even if it regards our exes because we're secure with our relationship and understand that our exes helped to shape our lives. So, I'm doing the wife thing and asking him tons of questions about Sara. I even think I got upset at him for saying something about her that I thought was wrong. He did the typical guy thing and got irritated that I was playing the 20 question game with him and said "Why don't you send her an email or something if you want. She'll answer your questions." 

So I did. I sent her an email explaining to her who I was, gave her some background, and I think I asked her some questions about their relationship or about herself. The answers I was getting from Jeff just gave me this nagging feeling that her and I were a lot alike and I really wanted to know more. She of course was SHOCKED to hear from me, of all people, but was very candid with her response. We started out sharing our personal stories about our own lives and of course we talked about Jeff, how she saw him, how he behaved in their relationship, how he hurt her and loved her. Many people think, how can you absorb this and not feel jealousy or dislike for this person? I know there were times I did get jealous of their relationship pieces, however, they ended up being things that I needed to look at myself and address as insecurities. Luckily, we both came to realize that we are two girls who have had our own experience with the same guy and didn't let the jealousy get in the way of our own friendship. 

Over the years, we built our friendship through words..."novels" as we call them. We write 10 to 20 page novels to each other sharing our lives with each other, sharing our childhoods, our love lives, our marriages, our woman moments, and of course the light of our lives, our children. Each of us learning a lesson through our stories. Sara is definitely a lot better at getting back to me than I am and my goal is to make sure I get a novel to her every month but I hear the girl can type RIDICULOUSLY fast, and if she's pissed...LOL. For me, hearing Sara's stories were like looking into a mirror and hearing myself talk. I could relate to her and understood exactly how she felt about things and why she did things because, well, I'd do them the same way. Over the years, if I have an issue, she's one of the first people I think about when wanting to share my problems because we are so much a like and we have always been very frank and honest in our conversations. We've had to be to continue our friendship. If we had let our emotions get in the way of our friendship, I don't think it would have lasted.

We've had the chance to meet each other, twice now. Yes, Jeff was there and what's even funnier is that the love of her life ended up being a friend of Jeff's and also one of Jeff's mom's employees. The first meeting was  a lot awkward and the second meeting was not bad at all. Her and I were ok, but the guys had some issues they had to sort out. Of course it's awkward to see your ex after 10 years so there was that element and then the friend married to the friend thing that needed some priming but the boys worked through it and everything is golden at this point. She is scheduled to move out near our family in the next six months and I could not be more excited! EEEEK! We both have already told the boys that "YES! We will be hanging out...A LOT!" Hell, we do the same things...we both love to run, love to write, love to talk, love to dance, and love to just live life. The simple things to us are what it's all about with little curve balls here and there.

Our friendship is one that I cherish because it's real, it's honest, it's emotional, and by all means unique because of the circumstances. I think that people come in to our lives for certain reasons and the way Sara and I look at it, Jeff was the catalyst for the relationships her and I have gained. Through Jeff, she gained a wonderful husband and a great friend and I can definitely say that I gained the same things.

"What is a friend? A single soul in two bodies."  -Aristotle

Friday, January 6, 2012

What Blissful Pregnancy?

I commend all the mommies that have wonderful pregnancies and can do everything that they normally can do like work, exercise, have the house clean, and take care of the kids.

I am not one of those women. I'm one of those women that is not comfy with pregnancy and don't like it so much at all besides the eating part....the part where I can eat whatever I want to because "baby says so." Not much discipline there, oh well.

These are a list of things that will justify the crazy pregnancy bumper sticker that should go on my car...hell, maybe my forehead. Most of these things people don't see but ask my husband...he'll be glad to let you in on the "crazy".

1. I'm pretty damn dramatic when it comes to the uncomfortableness of being pregnant. I whine when I'm nauseous and try my damndest to make sure every sentence out of my mouth is not something like "OMG, my belly aches." or "What the hell, I've only been cleaning for an hour. Why do my feet hurt?" "Will someone carry me please? Do I really have to walk to the car?"

2. What is up with not seeing "your girl" after month four. That's so jacked up. The idea of grooming and being sexy in any manner is far near impossible. It's like a daily reminder that if you have sex you don't see "your girl" for five months. SERIOUSLY. Oh and there's the not seeing your feet thing. I think we're intended to literally roll at month need for feet. You can't wear shoes, especially in the heat. Mine grow and swell so flip flops are really the only option.

3.  HOROMONES, GOD, LEAVE ME ALONE! As a female with crazy genes already, I do not need my body mixing it's own hormone cocktail. It's dangerous, ridiculously dangerous. I can put money on the fact I will cry because I'm too tired in one minute, laugh manically at someone getting hurt in minute number two, and lash out at my cat because he touched me in minute three. What the hell is that??? I know if there are any other women feeling like I do I'm sure you hate it just as much. I double dog dare a man to call me crazy on a day like this. It's so irritating what the hormones turn you into when you're pregnant. My husband likes to mess with me and see how many emotions he can get out of me in five minutes. I just beat him across the head and call him an asshole when he does that. Oh, did I say that out loud. That's what happens in my head...well except the asshole part.

4. Exercise....BAHAHAHAHA! For me this is not an option during pregnancy. I get winded going up the steps. Apparently my future son is sucking up all of my energy and doing daily chores is a struggle. I don't know how some women do it. As much as I don't like it, I gain about 25 to 30 pounds and puff out like the Michelin man when I'm pregnant. Yep, that's me.  It's not cute at all.

5.  You want me to dress business casual while I'm making a child? That's got to be a man's rule or a woman who has such traditional image issues she probably wears her makeup to bed. You're lucky if you get me out of pjs and in the shower after month four. I don't even like to stand long enough to put makeup on and do my hair. How am I supposed to get the belly over the counter to make sure I don't draw my eye makeup like some catty looking hooker? Or if I sit down, you expect me to get back up? Getting up is a chore.

So there's some of the truth....I keep most of it bottled inside for my children's sake...yeah, my husband can see the monster that's there because he contributed to making the babies. Some of it leaks out every now and then and my sweet children just ask me if I'm ok and if it's Mikey that's hurting me or making me act crazy. Yes, they say act

Ok, off to attempt to clean the house in one day and then a concert tonight. I hope I can tolerate the loud music and I don't want to tell them to shut up because I'm irritable. I'm super excited so these hormones better lay low tonight.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Ugliness of Emotional Manipulation

Ever have a relationship with someone where you feel like you can't win? They always have this need to be right.

You may have a headache and they all of a sudden have a brain tumor?

I'm talking about all kinds of relationships, marriages, friendships, parental, and child relationships are all included.

For some reason this seems to be a common theme in my life in the last few months and the ugliness of it astounds me.

Most emotional manipulators start out with a grand story to "hook" you into their life and make you feel sorry for them. You may see them as caring, sensitive and vulnerable. These people are not vulnerable, there is always going to be some type of crisis or situation they have to overcome.

They also are very unaware of their own faults and have a keen sense of other people's faults. Once you've been "hooked" into their lives, how dare you not give them what they need? The idea of them providing emotional needs for themselves is foreign and when suggested often shut down by a change in the subject or a swift move to another sob story about how someone else has victimized them in their lives.

Dealing with somebody who uses the vulnerability card as these people do is a mind blowing risk. You know if you play in to it you get nowhere and if you step out of it, the anger card comes out with no responsibility being shown for their actions at all. Sometimes the anger card can be just a manipulating move within itself, like the silent treatment.

The emotional manipulator pulls everyone they know into their stories and will lie so smoothly, you almost question whether or not it is a lie. They often deny their lies and get angry when confronted about it they will lash back with statements of "People that lie make me sick. I'd never do that." Meanwhile, they continue to badger, hurt, and pound on the vulnerable and weak that will tolerate the manipulation for the excuse of "love".

People often wonder why and how people become emotional manipulators. Most of it is because of their history, the baggage they carry from their pasts, and the baggage they bring into new relationships. Poor coping skills, poor self esteem, codependency, and survival because of abusive relationships are all factors that could play into why people become emotional manipulators. It may be all they know to do.

It's been a long time sense I've been a part of this type of relationship. Once the realization came that I was in it, even as a counselor I realized there are no quick "fixes" for these people. A lot of them do not ever see who they truly are and how they hurt people. I deal with manipulators on a daily basis because of one of my roles as a substance abuse counselor. I am aware of what they "need" to do but just like with any type of behavior, all the knowledge in the world will not change a person. They must do the work themselves. It requires a lot of awareness, self searching, and behavior change on their part.

What about yourself? Do you tolerate this type of manipulation? What if it's a parent that is the emotional manipulator and the idea of cutting off the relationship is not an option? I can not change a person. I can only change how I react and respond to the emotional manipulator. For myself, that requires looking inward and asking myself "How do I get involved in this type of relationship?" "Where are the boundaries?" Usually that brings up some unresolved guilt and shame that I have along with the element of that emotional manipulators prey on the most and will throw back at you as you try to address the issue with them in a rational manner.

It's best to set the boundaries when you recognize you're in a relationship with an emotional manipulator.

Shut the person down when you know their lying.

Call them out on what they may be denying. 

Get off the phone or change the subject when you notice the manipulation starting.

Most of all take care of yourself, be true to yourself, and know that sometimes loving yourself means doing the hard things and making some changes. The uncomfortableness that may come with you taking steps to make these changes are growth and that is what we were born to do....evolve.


Monday, January 2, 2012

The woes of being a woman

Being a woman sometimes just flat out SUCKS! Yesterday was an awesome day. At five months pregnant, I fit the mold they talk about in those pregnancy books...exuding loads of energy, glowing, and happy. I got so much accomplished yesterday, was a joy to be around, and absolutely adored every aspect of my life.

Today....YEAH, I woke up extremely exhausted, irritated at EVERYTHING, and so very EMOTIONAL. Usually, our kids on our days off of work and school will come in and cuddle with us before we get up and today, I did not want to be touched. My sweet son that normally crawls up in the bed from the bottom first irritated me to the point to where I wanted to yell "PLEASE STOP MOVING!"

I seriously contemplated staying in bed and probably should have and hid from the world but I convinced myself to get up and make breakfast and get the kids dressed for our day. I internally swallowed the upset of having to make three things for breakfast knowing full and well that I put it all on myself and normally enjoyed doing this.

Later in the morning, our daughter had done something she wasn't supposed to and my husband corrected her and I started bawling...I have no idea why I did and when he asked me what was going on, I could only stammer "I don't know. I really don't know."

The day was supposed to be a fun day of football, lounging around with the kids and taking it easy to get ready for the week ahead. The football game started and everything finally started to even out a little. I think it helped that my Gamecocks were winning the game against Nebraska, a team I despise....I may have thrown all of my evil thoughts into that game, maybe.I downed two cups of coffee, internalized my smart ass remarks and tried my best to enjoy the football game, our company and our children. I made sure to involve myself in topics of discussion that were fun and to avoid any type of emotional conversations. I would have been a complete wreck had my husband decided to have a difficult conversation or one of my children were having an emotional day. It would have taken EVERY FIBER of my being not to say something emotional and irrational today.

I lucked out! Neither of those happened and the day ended in an almost success...almost because my husband and I did get into an argument...nothing that wasn't typical. I'm assuming the emotional hormone roller coaster stemmed because I made the contents of my future son's brain today or because I was sucking all the estrogen out of him. Regardless, the woes of being a woman have allowed me to practice handling the raging, emotional hormone b*tch that is inside of me. The pregnant one makes the PMS one look like a sweet little kitten. The ones that just sit there and play and are nothing but cuddly and cute.

These are the days I long to be a guy. From what I've seen, guys just fight it out and the problem is solved...that's it, end of story!  I hate having to deal with emotions especially the hard ones. I have learned that embracing them and comforting ourselves is a helluva lot easier than demanding understanding from others or expecting people to provide the comfort only we can give ourselves. When I'm like this, I just let myself know it's okay to have the emotion, ask myself why they are so prominent today and if it's just hormones, I put out that warning to my loved ones and keep reminding myself  "The raging b*tch (P)amela (M)ichelle (S)ilverstine is BAAAAACK!" (Yes, my hormone b*tch has her own name and alter ego). Of course the chocolate,  whining to great girlfriends, my mom, and a well trained husband help too.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A New Version of New Year's Eve

Every New Year's Eve I have gone out to some bar or club and had a few drinks and celebrated with the guy on my arm at the time. For the last seven years, it's been with my husband, well except for the two years we were separated while he was in Korea.

When Jeff and I were pregnant with our first two children, we still went out and did the typical, hung out at a bar, he had a few drinks and I sat across from him desperately trying to have a good time but was envious that I couldn't have a drink.

This year, we started out doing the typical...the in laws had the kids for the night, we went to our favorite restaurant and afterwards Jeff pops out the typical question "What do you want to do now?" See, when I'm pregnant, it's such a foreign concept for him that if I make any uncomfortable sound or move, the man believes he needs to put me in bed and keep me there so nothing happens. I swear if he could, he would my mom. I'm such an independent girl I'll motor through some uncomfortable painful thing to get done what needs to be done because sitting on your ass is for the dead in my book. I have slowly learned how to take care of myself but I have to put it in a calendar like it's an appointment and force myself to do it half the time. So him asking this question was him trying to do and make me as comfortable as he could.

So after he pops the question, I think to myself  "What would be awesome?" In my pregnant state, this brownie the size of Mount Everest pops in my head topped with ice cream and chocolate. So out came "OOOOO, lets go get dessert!" Jeff laughs and says "Ok, my pregnant lady, lets go get dessert." So out we go into the car vehicle on our way to find some dessert. We have no idea where we're going, so we start down the road towards home and end up at Desert Ridge, an outdoor shopping mall with SO many lovely places to make any girl happy. We end up having dessert at Mimi's and what is so funny, that big ole brownie that popped into my head turned into an apple crisp, my husband's favorite, well because I'm pregnant apparently with the spitting image of my husband. I'm eating everything HE likes. I'm a pretty healthy person when it comes to meals but just the other day I ordered a salad and literally could only choke down a couple of bites before hitting the gag reflex....amazing what pregnancy does. Thank GOD for prenatal vitamins!

We make one more stop before heading home to continue our laughing and joking around that's gone on all night. That's the beauty of being married to him; I know 9 times out of 10, any time we go out we're gonna have a BALL! We hop into bed after hanging out in the kitchen for an hour telling each other funny things that popped in our heads...I'm sparing the details because they are not appropriate ;) and turn on Dick Clark's New Year's Eve Party and we both realize we miss the kids terribly.

All night the kids have popped up in our conversation; we're having a good time and know that it's been a while that we've gone out with each other but each of us had an idea of what tonight was gonna be and it included our children. I wanted to keep the kids up till midnight and light fireworks with them. Jeff would have been happy just hanging out with them and doing what he does best, turns into a kid right with them.

Next year, we're starting a new tradition...the family tradition. The idea of going out, drinking with the guy on my arm sounds fun but I've done that. I'm looking forward to celebrating with our FAMILY, all of it!