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Friday, February 27, 2015

Comfort zone and communication

When we think of the term "comfort zone", we may think of a place in which we are lacking courage.  In other words, a place in which we would rather stay than take a chance--a safe space of sorts.  For me, last fall (Fall of 2014), stepping out of my comfort zone was skydiving.

When I think of comfort zone (zone of comfort) in a relationship, I often think of it as a place or a space we provide a loved one to be his or herself.  In a way, we are giving them permission to be themselves or to figure things out without pressure, fear of recrimination, ridicule, or shame.

Gabriel García Márquez "Everyone has three lives: a public life, a private life, and a secret life"

Our public life is self-explanatory.  Our private life is things we share only with family or friends close to us.  In a way our "secret life" is our super private life.  In our 'secret life', we have thoughts, feelings, that we 'dare not share' with anyone out of shame or fear of consequences.  This is what I see as our "secret life".  It can be thoughts that are too out there, embarrassing, or rude; feelings that we are uncomfortable sharing; bad choices or mistakes we want to just hide out of fear of humiliation/shame or things we are trying to figure out without undue pressure or fear.  In short, these are thing things that are just generally between us and God.

It's funny, we can do something embarrassing like lock our keys in our car or have a mild 'tragedy' like have a fender bender and we'll talk about it with others readily, but some thoughts/ideas/mistakes are so uncomfortable that we just really would rather trip and fall on our face, stub our toe or run into a wall rather than sharing them.


Someone who truly loves you, be it a BFF or a significant other, will allow you a comfort zone (or zone of comfort) in which you can express your 'secret life' without fear of pressure, abandonment or recrimination.   Sometimes what you have to say might be difficult for the other person to hear.  It may be something they are uncomfortable thinking about or an thought, answer or non-answer that they aren't satisfied with.  You name it?  For example, you might need to admit a weakness, like an addiction to/or desire for booze, gambling, overeating, pain meds, porn, etc. or you may have thoughts that you think are out there.  The natural instinct is to avoid these subject matters rather than deal with consequences--real or perceived of expressing them.   Someone who truly loves you will make it clear that he or she will not pressure you, abandon you or leave you hanging when you express your 'secret thoughts'.  As a matter of fact, often time they, sensing you need to talk, will open up the dialog and give you a sign that it is safe for you to express yourself.

In my own failed marriage, I felt like my ex and I never really truly established this zone of comfort.  More often than not, when uncomfortable things came up, we ignored them.  When we didn't ignore them, it seemed like we ended up not giving each other enough space to be ourselves.  It is hard for a relationship to thrive, if even survive in such an environment.  From my perspective typically without a zone of comfort, resentment can build up and eventually something will give and it won't be small or pretty.  

In a way, the inability to provide a zone of comfort is a sign of codependency.  We either need our significant other to be someone who they aren't due to our own insecurities or we are so worried about 'saving the relationship' that we won't do anything that could 'jeopardize it'.  The irony of it is relationship dances like these really don't save a marriage, but instead tend to delay the inevitable while the relationship is hollowing out.


But, I digress.  A zone of comfort is a special gift you give to someone you love.  It can mean putting aside your own insecurities to listen to them and/or help another with theirs.  It can mean doing serious listening when you want to speak instead.  Effectively it is allowing another to be vulnerable around you.   In a way, this is part of the hard work of a successful relationship.

HOWEVER, for those still not convinced that it is completely safe to put yourself out there with your significant other, I have a few tricks:

  • Blame it on the 'script'.  As we know, we are following an invisible script.  So, I just say, well I had to say it, it was in the script.  However, you must be prepared to show said script later.  ;-)
  • This is the more risky tact, but blame it on the 'insane' voice in your head.  Say, "I didn't want to say it, but the insane voice in my head kept telling me too."  This is the 'little devil on your shoulder'.  Granted this may scare the other person away, but at least you'll amuse yourself.  ;-)

Just my thoughts on providing a comfort zone for communication.


Monday, February 23, 2015

Demons: Facing Demons

Facing Demons

It is counter-intuitive,

But sometimes in order to live

We have to step deep into our pain

It can hurt incredibly, but there is much to gain

Placing our hand into the flame

Facing head-on our shame

It will hurt at first

The very very worst

But, gradually we will find

As we unwrap and unwind

We will gain strength and power

To live another hour

In meditation and prayer

By our side God will always be there

To help us along the way

If along the path of healing we stay

See also:

Out of the darkness and into the light.

Amazingly enough, we just have to realize that some truths are universal.  Like as in everything else about human nature, we can crack open a bible and find that nothing is new under the sun.  But, I digress.  Just as His chosen people were called out of the darkness and into the light...

(originally posted 2/23/15, my father has since passed away)

1 Peter 2:9 (KJ21) 

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.

As many of you know, my dad has later stage Parkinson's.  He has little ability to do much for himself.  He gets most of his feedings through a tube and sometimes is allowed to eat yogurt.  Sometimes, he has his coherent moments and his incoherent moments.  Suffice to say, he needs constant care or supervision.  Anyway, I visit him when I can, when I don't have my daughter as he's never been big into grand-kids.   Yesterday, I visited him and I ran into this character who called himself "New York"--real name Juan.  Anyway, I asked him about that and he's originally from the Queens/Brooklyn area.  Interesting story.  He felt like his life path was meant to take him out of New York.  He expected he'd go to Mississippi at some point.  Anyway, he was hanging in St. Louis visiting people he knew and was playing a pickup game of basketball.  He alluded to the fact that he played D league basketball in his younger years.  Those are like NBA minor leagues is what I've heard.  Anyway, unbeknownst to him, someone was fixing to do a drive-by.  He was like, "While everyone else was diving for cover, I was jumping for the ball."  Long story short, a few got hit, but none as bad as he did.  He sustained a shot to his spinal cord and was rendered a paraplegic.  He was initially saying to the ambulance driver that he needs to go the hospital to get patched up so he can get back to hoops.   Some might take that as denial or not grasping, but it sounds like with him it was a never say die spirit.  Long story short, he could have lived with relatives, but he choose at this time to receive long-term care at my dad's nursing home.  He felt a calling, almost like that's where he needed to be.  
I was fascinated by his story.  3 days in town and his life was changed forever, yet he chose not to be bitter at God or St. Louis.  His family back in New York, was like out of all the people we least expected something like this to happen to him.  We were having a good spiritual discussion and I said maybe God knew that you out of all the people you know could have handled this.  In other words, if this was fated to happen, a lessor person would have folded.  He said his grandpa said something like that.  He also said that in a way, he felt like God was telling him to slow down.  So, he's the one who picks up the spirit of residents like my dad.  Out of darkness comes light.  Could have dove inward and been bitter, but instead gives back after having so much stolen from him.
So, he's working on my dad.  Getting him to come to terms, etc.   Now my dad is 'old school' prejudice I want my boys to marry blonde haired, blue-eyed Aryan woman type.  He actually said that. Not to make excuses, but I have an idea of the environment he was raised...  Anyway ex was a brunette and had brown eyes and offered to dye her hair and get blue contacts, but he was like you know what I mean.  (LOL)   I love my dad, but don't always like him, but he's one the lessor likely candidates for an NAACP, diversity awareness type award.  But a funny thing happened, "New York" is a considerably younger African-American male with a lot of tattoos and yet he choose to befriend my dad.  My dad counts him as a friend.  Perhaps my dad can better appreciate those different than him.  A part of me is amused and a part of me is like wow, God works in mysterious ways.  So, anyway, I talked it up with New York and said, you know if there is anything you can do to help, work on his spirituality and coming to terms with his health issues (rather than being delusional).   I think I might take some time out to just visit this cat outside of a dad visit.  :-)
Does God wish for bad things to happen to us?  I am fairly sure He doesn't.  Does He cause bad things to happen?  Once again, I'm tending to think no.  Does He allow?  Well God, being God does have ultimate say.  Healings occur where the prognosis looks grim.  People come into our lives at the seeming right moment.  We nearly avoid tragedies from time to time.  So, I believe He can and does step in, especially when we pray to Him about our concerns.  But, as with free will and us not having immortality.  He doesn't control us and bad things happen.  However, I am of the belief that He uses bad circumstances, our darkest hours to change us, to allow an opportunity to grow, to offer us freedom.
  • My brother's death was a wake-up call to me to not bottle things up, to stand up where I would not have had the strength or insight to, to reevaluate to make sure I didn't go down the rabbit hole he did.  Perhaps, as bad as it was, God used the shock of his death granted me life in a way.
  • My mom's sudden passing last year gave me the opportunity to grown and mature.  Someone had to step up and say, I will make sure it is paid for, it is done right.   I wasn't asking for it, but in life, our role are revealed.  Out of love for her, I was not going to fight my role.  Knowing that I could handle this trial by fire made me realize that I was stronger than I thought.                          
Most people, if they look hard enough have a circumstance or two (or more) in which the darkest hour has the potential to have a silver lining:
  • A new path opens which you could never have anticipated.  Meet new friends, develop new support networks.
  • An opportunity to realize strength where you didn't realize you had it.  Burying a loved one.
  • You wake up and realize the path you were on was leading you to destruction.  For example, a drinking buddy gets killed and there but for the grace of God, could it have been you with him, the next time.
As a corollary, understanding and appreciating the silver lining doesn't mean you are grateful for the dark clouds, it just means God has given you the wisdom to see good come out of bad.  For example, it was hard to watch my late brother descend and it was equally as hard seeing good out of it.  But, I have to trust God that he's in a better place and that God used that as an opportunity to shake things up in my life.  I will always remember him and wish things hadn't turned out the way they did, but I can take away the silver lining without guilt.

(If you like this post, look at Finding Jewels in the Darkness for similar thoughts)

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Understanding people where they are, but not going there...

I previously wrote a blog about accepting people where they are called "Accepting people for where they are".  A corollary one is understanding people, but not going where they are.  I've been previously in and I've had friends who have been in unhealthy relationships.  That has given a certain insight into understanding and relating to people.

(Refresh and repost of 2/22/15)

We each meet many people along life's road and most of the time we have to make a decision about how we want our relationship with them to proceed. How much energy, if any, do we put in a relationship with them?  We may get them on some level and may be able to appreciate where they are, but that doesn't mean we have to follow them there (or continue following them).

Pick an addiction--alcoholism, drug addiction, overeating, gambling, etc.  We often have faced similar demons in our life and we can on a deep level understand or relate to what another is going through.  There is even a tendency to want to reach out and help that person as you know their hurt.  They might have been abused, beaten, or otherwise hurt in their life.   You feel bad for them.  Having that sweetness of soul that you would care that much about another who has been hurt or is hurting is wonderful.  It says something about you that you have that much empathy.   However, it is always important to keep your wits about you when dealing with them.

As I see it, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself when determining what role you play in their life of a person who is struggling with a life issue.
  • Is the other trying to better him or herself?   That's the basic question.
    • In many cases, it isn't so much how quickly they are working to get healed, but rather if they are even trying.
    • Progress can be like momentum.  Sometimes a few small 'successes' in healing can lead to confidence to take larger steps, which in turn, can lead to even larger steps.  In other words, it's important not to misjudge the pace of another's recovery.  What appears to be a small step could in fact be a large step.  Ultimately, it boils down to do you have hope with them?
    • In some ways, stepping in to 'help' or 'be there' might turn into enabling them or keeping them from facing their demon.  I once had to step aside to let someone I was dating find herself.  Being her 'hero' or 'white night' was giving her an excuse not to 'find herself'.
  • Is where they are a place that is dangerous to you?
    • You can love and appreciate someone and be encouraged by their recovery, but if it jeopardizes your own, it is best to appreciate them from afar.
    • For example, say you and another struggle with a similar demons (such as alcoholism) or toxic-ally opposite demons (body image vs. porn).  If the other's recovery halting at best, you might appreciate or admire that they are trying, but realize that the other could still be very dangerous to you.  However, if they aren't in recovery all, then it goes without saying that they WILL be dangerous to you.
  • What can you do safely for them?  That's a followup to the previous point.
    • Can you go in the trenches for them?  That is, pick them up and dust them off when they fall or is that too dangerous.
    • Can you be a friend they can call when they are heading towards a bad place.  In other words, when they are "in their head", but haven't fully engaged their addict.  
    • Do you just have to completely stay away from them until they have hit rock bottom?  Sometimes, when people just aren't ready for recovery.  In this case, if you try to stand out in the middle of the road waving a caution flag, you risk them completely missing your flag or worse them running over you.
In life, you can overlook, forgive, 'forget' and come to terms with people.  You can understand and have empathy for the demons that are driving them, BUT that doesn't mean going going in the trenches with them.  Sometimes, you just have to let go and let God for those who you care most about.  You can understand their struggle, but sometimes for one or both of your sake, you have to step aside, no matter how bad or guilty you feel about it.  Some circumstances are just too big for you and God is better equipped to handle them.

As much as I'd love to blog happy blogs, I realize that's not where everyone is all the time.

Thank for reading again.


Hey Soul Sister visited

This blog entry is a huge digression from my others.  For reasons that are deeply personal, this song was at first one that I enjoyed, then didn't enjoy and now have learned to listen to and embrace again.

I've heard this song possibly a hundred times or more, but never really got the meaning of it.  Now that I do, it is so obvious.  Lines such as the following make it obvious:

I knew I wouldn't forget you, and so I let you go and blow my mind
   -- She's made such a huge impact on him. Her understanding of him has blown his mind.

I knew when we collided, you're the one I have decided who's one of my kind
    -- He saying we are kindred spirits.

You see, I can be myself now finally, in fact there's nothing I can't be
    -- He's saying I don't have to hide who I am or pretend to be something I'm not.

Essentially, he has found a kindred spirit, a soul mate, a "Soul Sister" as it were.  The woman in his life accepts him for who he is, she gets him, but even more so, she embraces him..  Even more so, in many ways, he finds that she more often than not, travels the same road as him.   In a word, he is singing a love song to his soul mate.  

Friday, February 20, 2015

98% rule: someone has to take blame...

98% is an excellent percent on a math or spelling test.  It is an out of this world free throw percentage in basketball.  It is an excellent level of purity of gold.  However, in terms of how often one side in a relationship is right, it is a terrible percentage.

A few years ago, I came up with something I call it the 98% rule.  The point of it is that when you find yourself admitting you are wrong most all the time with an occasional concession by your partner, you are likely in an unhealthy relationship.

The way I see it, 98% blame either means one of two things:

  1. Most likely, you are in codependent relationship where someone has to take the shame or blame for the ills of the relationship.  In reality, the blame could/should be split more equally.  Generally speaking, 'blame' won't be shared 50/50.  It might be 60/40 or perhaps 30/70, but still each side has culpability.
  2. One person in the relationship is a real jerk or narcissist.  He or she is actually mean/controlling/abusive.  In this case, he or she is actually wrong most of the time.  If you can look at a relationship honestly and say, this is how I feel about the other person, it's probably time to move on from it. In other words, if the other person is actually a big enough narcissist to be wrong most of the time and let you take the fault instead, it is an unhealthy relationship

Never let another person use your flaws to control you with shame.  I don't mean to avoid talking about the tough subject matter or to shut down another when they speak frankly about you.  What I mean is do not allow yourself to be manipulated to where you seem to boxed into taking the blame or admitting fault where it isn't appropriate.  Guilt over mistakes is a healthy grieving process.  Shame over them is treating yourself as if you are the mistake.  Don't let anyone take a sore point and beat you over the head with it to control you.

The controlling person may win the battle, but they eventually will lose the war.  They will be seen for who they are.  Just don't let yourself be dragged down into their manipulation, their insecurities, their fear.


A friend once said to me that "healthy people don't tend to marry sick people".  I am not sure where he got it, it might have been from AA?  Anyway, he made an excellent point.  This supports my above point.  If, in a relationship, there is a degree of unhealthy in both parties, it is likely that each has the ability to make mistakes and therefore are wrong from time to time. If each person recognizes it and can own up to it, there is hope for the relationship.

Just some thoughts...

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

2D vs. 3D relationships

From my own personal experience and that of others, it occurred to me why a lot of relationships fail.  Putting it in geometrical terms, couples often relate in 2D terms rather than 3D terms.  In other words, the relationships are flat, when they need some added dimension.


2D - You know about the other person.  (mostly facts, no real dimension).  For example,
  • You may know about what the important dates are in their life.
  • You may know about what their favorite color is.
  • You may know about what type of foods they like to eat.
  • But, you don't really know them 
You know that he likes go karts, mini-golf, arcade games and has a childlike side.  So, you might for a birthday take him to Putt Putt Fun Center.  You pat yourself on the back for 'knowing him'.  What he really wanted was to do something grown up like go to sports bar, with darts, a pool table, karaoke and just a general grown-up ambiance.

You may know that she likes Hello Kitty and know that she likes purses.  So, instead of getting her a Coach purse, you get her a 'cute' Hello Kitty one, thinking she'd love it.  She like Hello Kitty in some things, but she wants a grown-up purse.  

In each case, you may know things about your significant other, but they don't really know them. 


3D - You know about them and you know them. (dimension). Examples of 3D are:
  • You know not only the important dates in their life, but you remember the unscripted moments.
  • You know not only what their favorite color is, but have the sense of what shade they like or why they like that color. 
  • You know the special place he/she likes to eat their favorite food or the the occasions he/she likes that dish. 
  • You really do know them.
He likes to be playful, but he wants to be the grown-up.  He wants to feel needed, to be your hero and you know that.
She is a little girl at heart in many ways and wants you to see that, but she wants also to know that you appreciate her femininity.  She wants you to notice her grown up sexy, sophisticated hair cut.


2D --- one says "I love U", the other says "I love you too"
3D --- one says "I love U", the other says "I love U 2"

The real question is this: 

Are you only interested in knowing your partner enough that you can fake it while getting from him/her what 'you need' and hoping it's enough.


Do you want to do the real work of knowing him/her, what is truly important to him or her and what he/she means when they say something VS. what they actually say?


I know I want to live in a world of relationships with dimension/depth/soul vs. a world of relationships that are surface.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Double rainbow: 1 + 1 = 4

In processing through prior heartaches, I believe I received divine inspiration.  I believe that there is a simple mathematical way to represent completely destructive relationships, somewhat destructive relationships, functional partnerships, healthy relationships and very enriching relationships (double rainbow).  Below is a slightly amended version of my original concept.

(This was originally written in 2/16/15) 

Anyway, here goes:

1 + 1 = 0  (this is what a completely destructive relationship looks like, each person ends up completely destroying the other--these ones you might hear on the news or at least end up being handled by law enforcement.)

1 + 1 = 1   (this is what a destructive relationship looks like, one person is pulled down completely or both people pull each other down somewhat.)

1 +  1 = 2  (this is a functional partnership, not a strong relationship, collectively neither add much to the relationship.)

1 + 1 = 3  (this is a healthy relationship, the sum is greater than the parts, each person compliments or lifts up the other person)

1 + 1 = 4  (double rainbow, a rare find where each partner actually completely lifts the other up, this is the love of a lifetime).

Not to dismiss: Accepting the spiritual experiences of others

To those whose thoughts/circumstances I've incorporated into this blog entry, thank you, you know who you are...


As you know, I'm a professed, not perfect, Christian.

I have my flaws and have made mistakes, but have tried to learn and them.  I will continue to make mistakes, but with God's help, they will be fewer and less profound.  But, I digress.

I try to see things through the eyes of God as I understand him.  It is my hope that my family and friends see what I see and come to appreciate my faith, but that leads to my overriding point.


I think in this world, we often have preconceived notions of what is.  I believe the spiritual realm is so profound that there is no way we could grasp it in all its completeness and nuances at least on this side of our lives.

Anyway, we tend to have a need for answers, of absolute, visible proof of everything before we accept.  Hence the term, leap of faith for when we believe based on what we can't see.  In any case, how does one explain the profound evil in this world?  How does one explain the minor miracles that happen around us everyday?  How does one explain whom 'by chance' we meet, whom we connect with, whom comes into our lives?  Sure there some element of chance, but I believe God plays a huge role here.  Anyway, knowing what happens immediately around us and about us and in the world around us, it seems far fetched to not believe in the spiritual realm.  It seems unbelievable to reject the idea of a profound--but not seen--spiritual component in our lives.

* If I am at my mom's grave-site and she's a (black) cat person and a stray black cat nearby gives me attention, who is to say that isn't a sign.

* If I considering starting a new chapter in my life and without warning I see a rainbow in the sky over the sun, why couldn't it be a sign from a recently passed loved one that it is time to move on from the previous chapter?

* If I have a dream in which I hear from a late family member, why couldn't it them reaching out to me?

Those are just some examples.  But, in my life, when my mom passed away unexpectedly last July (2014), I had already started planning a trip to Chicago.  It was her birth place and a place where she grew up and where she met my dad.  I wanted to do a trip with Olivia, but it was impractical to do a coastal trip at that point.  So, I wanted to go somewhere I could get relatively close.  A coworker suggested Chicago.  I'm like why not?   In the middle of planning the trip, as I mentioned, my mom passed away suddenly.  Before she passed away, she said, "I wish I could be there wish you".  Given her health, that was impractical.  But on the last day of my trip, I remembered that and I realized on some level that she was with me.   I miss my mom and wish I'd gotten to know her even better than I did.

Anyway, IMHO, who are we to decide what is or isn't a spiritual experience?  To me it strikes me as arrogant to dismiss out of hand what another person sees as a spiritual experience.  It's as if to say, I pretty well know God's mind and His ways.  No, I believe the spiritual realm is so profound we couldn't even begin to grasp it. All that being said, I believe there are limits to claims of the spiritual.  A Jim Jones who having his followers "drink the Koolaid" would seem to be an example of a claim of spiritual that isn't so--unless of course you are talking about Satanic.  Also, someone claiming every time they see a black cat to see their mom in it, could easily be seen as going over the top.  Sometimes a black cat is just simply what it is: a black cat.  But, there is so much we don't know, to dismiss out of hand that which we can't easily see or understand is presumptuous.

Just some musings.

This paradise wasn't paved with a parking lot, it was Hawaii

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Love transcends time...

In the spirit of the Valentine's Day weekend (original post--2/15/15) which will soon be coming up again, I thought I'd post (repost) another entry on love.

So, quite a while back I was talking to a friend about relationships.   He had noted that bar relationships tend to fail when one gets sober.  They may fail even if both get sober.  In other words, once the filters are removed, once the beer colored glasses are removed, they see each other's flaws that were previously 'hidden'.

So, this got me to thinking:  How does one know what is true love?   I'm not sure if this is what defines it, but I think this is definitely a great indicator of true love:  true love transcends time.


Here's the theory:

If a couple was coming of age in the 2000s, they might share a joy or appreciation of technology.  They might relate on the basis of 9/11 facebook, youtube, texting, candy crush, etc.

Take the same couple and put them in the 1970s, the might relate on the basis of disco, the brady bunch, the bicentennial, match game, etc.

Put the couple in the 1960s, they might relate on the basis of the JFK assassination, Vietnam, the peace movement and flower children and the

Put them in the 1950s, the might relate on the basis of the Korea, the dawn of the rock and roll era, etc.

In the 1930s and 1940s, they'd relate on the basis of the depression and WWII, big band music etc.

And so on and so forth.


The point is the same couple will have some elements within them--it could be love of their fellow man, their faith, love of children, etc.   These elements within them attract the couple to each other.  It would not matter what era they were in, they would see something in each other's essence that would draw them to each other.  In other words, 'the things', the exact surroundings, the politics of the era would change, but their core beings--that which attracts them one another--would not change.  To me, if you can say it doesn't matter what era my significant other and I grew up in, we'd find a way to each other, that's an indication of true love to me.  You'd be saying our souls are compatible.  The soul connection is not dependent on the specifics of the era, but instead on the specifics of what animates each person.

Letting go and letting God - The timing and art of letting go.

As some of you know two years ago (2014) I had two significant deaths.  One was a friend from a church group I was attending, the other was my mom.  In 2011, it was my brother Bill.  As many know, I had a divorce in 2011 as well and various relationship disappointments over time.

So, I've had a little bit of experience in losing and letting go.  I've noticed a few things about letting go and this isn't meant as a 'blame' blog, but rather an observation one.

1) Our society isn't built for the proper grief,  Maybe any modern society isn't, but I don't know.  It's funny one week you are burying your mom, the next week you are back at work.   It's like, well we are sorry your close loved one died, but time moves on, there are deadlines.  So, after a few days, suck it up and pretend like nothing happened and keep pressing on with your job.   I don't blame anyone in particular.  Everyone has a job to do and people rely on me.  They can't just wait around until my head stops spinning from the recent tragedy.  In other words, the world invariably has to move on at some point.  But, sometimes it feel a little bit insensitive.

2) Everyone says, I'm sorry to hear about your <lost love one>.   In my case, it was my mom last July.   I know they are and I appreciate them for that.  But, sometimes everyone is not really sure what to say.  I don't blame them, grief is not a subject taught in school.  It tends to be something we pick up on the fly.  My friend James, whom I love like a brother, lost his mom around the beginning of the century and his dad more recently.   I was a friend of the family to them.  I liked his parents, but I didn't have the day to day interaction with them.   I was sad for him and I was bothered that our circle lost two wonderful people and the world was a little less complete place because of that.  Alternatively, everyone who knew them was better off for knowing each of them.
     James, your parents really set the example of how to raise a family and how, as a couple, to treat each other.  You and Pat were very blessed, but you know that. :-)
Anyway, he first lost his mom and I attempted to comfort him along the way and then grieve with him.  But, I knew whatever I said/did, fell short.  I just couldn't relate.  When I lost my brother in 2011, it really hit home.  I finally understood the hurt of losing such a significant person in your life.  I was able to revisit the loss in the lives of friends and say, you know I get it.  Moving forward, I now know how badly it can hurt someone, and not just in an abstract way.

3) Grief, really doesn't care what anyone thinks.  Grief has its own wants and needs.   I could say, well, that person was just a friend I knew for a short amount of time, so it's silly that I should really bothered by their passing.   Society might say, it's been years since, he/she has died, you need to move on.  Grief says, I'm not ready to let go.  You can push aside grief, but invariably it is still there just waiting like a needy child to be comforted.    Now that I think about it, grief is a bit jealous.  It can demand your attention.

4) What is moving on, what it isn't.
    a) It isn't forgetting about that person.  It person/relationship was significant, this may never happen.  You don't have to spend all your waking moments thinking about them to honor them or the significance of them in your life.
    b) It isn't disrespecting that person's memory.  Going forward is not disrespecting, it is meeting healthy needs in your life,
    d) It is knowing that nothing you can do will change what happened.  It was time for the loved one to go or the relationship to end.
    e) "Going there" only from time to time, rather than focusing paralyzing time/attention on them.
    f) It is being able to look back more clearly at the timeline of the loss.

I guess, the takeaway for me, is to try to be respectful of the mourning of another.  Each person's needs are different.  The best thing you can do is keep the other in your prayers that God gives the proper healing they need, He does it in the time which is right for them and gives you the patience and understanding to accept it.

** Since this was originally posted, my dad passed away at the age of 74 (May 1, 2015)


Saturday, February 14, 2015

Stages of relationships and love

In honor of Valentine's day, I am blogging about the stages of love and relationships.  These may differ for everyone.  Anyway, here goes.

Meeting stage:
1) Meeting stage--online or in person.   They first catch you attention.
2) Thinking about them stage.  Wondering if they might be interested in you.

Initial realization stage:
3) Denial that you like them.  This is triggered by the need for self protection, aka not getting shot down or hurt.
4) Admitting you like them.  It can be in a dream, daydream or just realizing you can't get them off your mind.
5) Initial curiosity if he/she could be the one.  The other person is an angel to you and can do little wrong.
6)  Asking him/her out.  This is the concession that you'll go nuts if you don't ask them out.

Dating stages:
6) Denying how much you have the hots for the new person to your family/friends as you don't want to risk getting told to chill.  :-)
7) First date, hope he/she likes you.
8) Further dating, building a foundation.
9) Joking about marrying the person, but secretly you are dreaming it.

Secondary dating
10) Denial that you are really falling hard for them.   Once again, self-protection.   You can't get hurt by another if you aren't vulnerable.
11) Insanity of holding in your expression of love.  Literally, it's driving you nuts.
12)  One day it just comes out, I love you.
13) Denial to family/friends that you are in love (sometimes they've seen this act and they wonder about you).

Getting super serious.
14) Serious talk about marriage.  You are talking it out.
15) People ask if you've thought about marriage.  Third stage of denial: you play it cool and act like, in God's time.  What you really mean is your d*mn right I have, but I don't want to admit it.
16) Biding time before asking, meanwhile planning on it and scoping rings.
17)  Planning asking her hand in marriage.
18) Asking.
19) Admitting to family/friends you are thinking about marriage.  ;-)

Planning marriage
20) Talk it out and plan.
21) Fret about it.
22) Plan more
23) Fret more
24) Bicker
25) Make up.
26) Finish planning.

The marriage stage
27) Pre-wedding drama with family
28) Marriage
29) Hoping things work out.

Friday, February 13, 2015

It's just you and me and we just disagree...

When I originally posted this back in February 2015, I was about to post about dating these days, especially dating site dating, but I had a better idea at that moment.  I thought, I've seen enough relationships that end with a thud and a blame game and felt like perhaps I have some insight those.  To me, much of the time, relationships end with a huge blame game.  That to me is such a waste of energy which leaves no one happy. I think what drove this blog may have been that I was a bit irritable too in hearing about a particular broken relationship.  Don't fully remember now.

Anyway, in the beginning of many failed relationships, it's like a Steve Miller song.  Lovey-dovey, lovey-dovey all the time...  

Reality hits eventually.  We either realize the other person has traits we are not particularly fond of OR probably more accurately finally accept they have those traits.  Anyway, over time, we decide if the other is what we want in a mate.  Eventually, one (or more) of these types of scenarios will play out:
  • Enough doubt accumulates and we wake up and think WTH am I doing in this situation? 
  • A tipping point is hit in which we know we can't stay in the situation.
  • Let's be honest: in some cases, we find another fancier newer toy--another person--that 'humors' us more. 
  • We choose our addictions over the other person.
In any case, whatever reason for the breakup, there seem to be two common traits that are present at the end many/most relationships.  
   1) Needing to explain away how we could have spent as much time and effort in a failed relationship.
   2) Need to 'win' aka portray yourself as the reasonable one and the other as the jerk/nut/gold digger...

IMHO, it's really really a pride issue.  Assuming the person hasn't totally hid who they are, that is to say they are largely the same person as they were on day one, then whether you accept them now for who they are is not their problem,  it is your problem.  If I have a personality trait or whatever and I haven't hid it, but you are just now realizing the nature of it and don't like it, once again that isn't my problem, it is yours.  

For example, if I tell slightly off-color jokes and you seem to be fine with it for a long time--and even seem to laugh at them--and one day you attack me for it, how is that my issue? If one of your friends thought it was in bad taste and you rip me for it, how is it a my fault issue?  I haven't changed, you just have decided for whatever that is something you can't accept.  That's your prerogative, but to rip me for it now, isn't fair.

If you think to yourself, how could I have settled, that isn't my issue, it's yours.  Just because you weren't able to assess your wants or needs properly doesn't mean that that I should take the blame for it.  Don't just decide to attack me and label me as this or that because you carry your own shame and/or shame around your friends for 'settling'.  The mature way to handle it is to say, you know, "we are two different people and too different of people" and move on.  There doesn't have to be shame.  Instead accept it as a lesson learned as to what's important to you in a relationship.  Accept it as something you'll be able to pick up on sooner next time.

Now, once again, some people bury their issues/flaws intentionally from their partner.  I'm not talking about those situations.  I'm talking about situations in which the relationship doesn't work out
due to differences and one or both parties proceed to try to destroy the other person because they can't handle it accepting it maturely.

I see it time and time again.  It's like get over yourself, don't play small.  Just accept the fact that some people aren't meant to be and be the bigger person in the breakup.  I suppose hurt feelings
play a role in the need to demonize the other.

Anyway, folks that is why dating is called dating and not marrying, except when it is actually marrying Mr./Ms. Wrong.

I do want to include a personal story however.  One time I was going back and forth with the lady I met at my daughter's ice-skating lesson.  We talked a little back and forth and there was a bit of connection.  At some point, I was venting a little about my dad and she started ripping me.  It was just a little griping about his being difficult, not blaming him for all my life's ills.  Somehow that rubbed her wrong and I am thinking to myself, you know I'm still the same person as I was a couple weeks ago.  Long story short, she decided she didn't want me in her life.  I was pretty well coming to that conclusion as well, but was just going to let it drift naturally.  In other words, be dignified.  So, she texted me and said I don't think we should continue talking.  Which would have been fine if left at that.  However, she proceeded to criticize me.  I'm like I didn't ask your take, opinion or advice and I haven't told you what to think.  Now, I can take constructive criticism, but not that which is used as a pretense to shut me out and make yourself feel better about tossing me aside, especially when I've been nothing but nice to you.

Anyway, she was like 'blah, blah, blah'  and finished it up by saying have a blessed day--acting all pious.  This happened back and forth for a little bit.   Like I said, I told her "I don't remember requesting/requiring your opinion."  Apparently she didn't like that and was like 'blah blah blah'.  I finally got irritated and said, "Are you finished now, so I can get back to what I was doing?"  That shut her up.  I was never prouder of myself.  I basically told her in no uncertain terms, I didn't need her and that she'd be doing a favor by leaving me alone.  I didn't attack her, but I essentially told her that she has no right trying to take me down to make herself feel better.  Like I said I am open to criticism, but not that which is used to try to make you feel better about yourself.

I guess the takeaway is this if you are in a relationship and it doesn't work out and the person hasn't changed or hasn't gone out of the way to hide who they really are, then there is no shame in just ending it and saying, "We weren't right for each other".  There is no shame in admitting that maybe I didn't see these characteristics I don't like, but that doesn't make him/her a bad person, nor does it make me a fool.  In such a situation, where the shame comes in when you have to attempt to destroy or undermine the other person to sooth your hurt ego.

Anyway, I love my beautiful now-wife & she is flawless, haha.  No, what I love is her soul & I know she like the rest of the world doesn't have to be perfect, I love and accept her for who she is.  That's where the women in the audience say, "Awww"

* If you like this post, you will probably like
Life's misfortunes: No one is to blame