8/31/2015

More Time with S

I met with S for the third time yesterday, after having a couple great phone conversations this week.  The way we are talking through things if one of us has feelings come up feels really, well, "mature"! So far, fingers crossed, we are able to keep connection and humor throughout our dialogue.  This is quite different than before.

Things are beginning to move into romance, and we crossed the kissing threshold yesterday.  I feel mostly positive about this, with a little anxiety mixed in.  Would I be a fool to try again with him?  As you all know, I have dated and been open to meeting other guys in this last year and a half - as well as when we were broken up before - but I can say that no one thus far has come close to his level of willingness to grow and talk about things. 

And obviously we have a lot of history together, which is both good and bad, but mostly good I think, in terms of knowing each other and getting to a deeper level of communication.  The trust has been rebuilt somewhat in the last few weeks but would have a ways to go.

I do know that both of our issues would come up more strongly as we grew closer.  We have been talking about using H@rville Hendricks "Im@go Ther@py" work and even practiced one of his communication exercises yesterday.  I read all HH's books a decade or more ago and really see the potential for healing childhood wounds.  In brief, he believes we choose partners because they possess both the positive and the negative traits of our caregivers and within this reality is the potential to heal what happened to us - what we lacked in childhood - with our partner.  S has indicated he would be on board with doing this work with me.

A last positive development is that he owned his passive-aggressive behavior of being late to our meeting.  He admitted he felt okay in the moment about changing plans to him coming up to me again, versus me driving down to him (based on some logistical factors and me feeling overwhelmed), but then felt some resistance/resentment that resulted in him dragging his feet to start the drive.  Awesome!  Not the feet dragging, but the fact he acknowledged his feelings and how they had driven his behavior. 

More shall be revealed, but today I'm feeling some hope.

8/23/2015

Further Healing

I had a second meeting with S yesterday and had another big release of emotion - both anger and sadness/grief - and we talked about what verbal abuse means and how our interactions did end up in that area.  We did a couple of structured exercises, including an "im@ge theatre" one in which we sculpted each other into images of how we saw each other in conflict and also into images of our feelings during this conflict.  It was good.  I felt lighter at the end, but S seemed to feel heavier and said he was understanding more of what I went through.  I'm sorry he is feeling down, but I do appreciate him "going there" and remembering and empathizing with my side of what happened.

Also, I think he was sad that we didn't end up closer physically.  He hoped that working through this stuff might automatically lead to us feeling amorous towards one another.  I felt affectionate and caring but not romantic.  I think switching gears from the intense processing and grief, especially since it involved remembering pain and anger from the worst time in our relationship, to romantic feelings would have been difficult.  We have talked about that possibility prior to yesterday, because both of our minds had strayed into that possibility, and I brought up that I sometimes feel strongly passionate towards him and other times not, and would that even be okay with him.  He indicated yes, but maybe he's really not, after reflecting further.

Anyway, regardless of what happens, I'm deeply grateful for our conversations, and for him holding space for me to express buried grief and heal further from the traumatic end of our relationship.

8/16/2015

Housing and Healing with update

The month-to-month house I've been living in for the last two weeks has been great in many ways - the kitchen is fantastic and Zoey loves the room and playing with me in the side yard.  My housemate was gone all last week so that was nice.  I did figure something out about her yesterday... so she's been kind of cold and seems annoyed much of the time I'm around her.  Acting put-off when I ask her something and just generally not seeming warm and conversational, like she did when I came to first check out the house.  I was feeling anxiety about this and also taking it on myself, questioning if I had done something wrong and trying to be a "perfect" housemate to make her happy.

Weeell, that is ending today.  I pay the same amount of rent as she does.  Yes, my furniture is in storage and I'm using "her stuff," but that was the agreement we made when we all talked about it and signed the lease with the landlord.  She knew I was not going to take my furniture out of storage for just a month or two.  I may go to target or even the dollar store and buy a few cups/bowls/dishes.  I think that might help some, but overall I'm not going to stress about that.

What I realized yesterday is that she does not want me living here and is not happy about it, and that's just the way it is.  She wanted to live with me IF we were both living here long-term and IF I was coming with all my stuff and furniture.  She may have preferred, in a way, to live alone, but she was prepared for that scenario.  What she did not want was what she got which was that the landlord said everything was uncertain because his wife had Parkinson's and they may move into the house in two or three months, thus everything about this situation has been tenuous.  She did not want me "camping" here basically - I think she used those words once - without my stuff and without a long-term commitment.

If it was going to be short-term, she wanted to live here by herself and work on her writing.  Well, sorry housemate, this is a two-bedroom house and the landlord is not going to choose to have it half-empty if someone is prepared to pay rent.  And if she was unwilling to have me move in without my stuff, she could have said so.  But she didn't.  And here we are, and I'm not going to feel guilty or tip-toe around her.  This is my house as much as hers right now.  I will respect her stuff and her needs for the space of course.

To throw a further twist in things, two factors have changed with regard to our situation here:  one, the landlord's wife accused him of carer abuse and he was actually arrested.  I think he's out now but I'm not sure, and I'm not sure what the "truth" of the situation is.  In any case, he is now moving in by himself to the cottage that he also owns, next door to our house.  Sooo, I guess that means potentially we could rent the house long-term now?  I don't know if I want to, now that I've seen this kind of cold, closed-off side of my housemate.  When I move in somewhere, with all my stuff, I want it to be long-term.  The second factor, though, is that she said she will likely be moving to Hawaii in a few months to a year.  At which time, maybe I could take over the house.  That is tempting and could work out great with adopting.

Which brings me to another big piece of news to report, which is that I have been emailing with my ex, S, for the purposes of healing still-existing hurt from the past.  We met yesterday and I had a HUGE grief outpouring about our Fourth of July Tahoe trip - you know the kind where the sobbing and wailing just pours out of you interspersed with words coming from your deepest feelings - and it did feel healing.  S held a container for me around that, and it was really good.

We talked about other things, as well, like the work he's done around his anger issues, which he now fully acknowledges.  He told me about that work and also shared his current awareness of the source of this anger (some of which I knew but it was more specific) from less than adequate parenting in his early childhood, as well as teen years with a jerk of a step-dad.

I can tell he is thinking about the possibility of us getting back together, but I am only thinking of healing and friendship.  I will not ever again stay in a relationship that has so much fighting and criticism without the love.  Five positives for every negative experience - that's what a relationship needs to thrive.  That's what we all need and what I intend to have.  It is interesting that he is in a temporary solo living situation for a few more weeks and needs to find a new place.  It's just weird that I need a place right now, too.  But I'm not going to let a coincidence determine my choices.  For now, I'm really happy to have released so much stored-up grief yesterday and to feel the start of forgiveness.

*Update:  My housemate and I talked yesterday and I was right about much of what I wrote above.  Also, she shared about the financial stress she is under, which is almost causing panic attacks.  Good news is that we worked out a couple compromises - I'll buy a few dishes and Zoey can stay in my room when housemate needs focused privacy.  We will see how it goes.  In other news, we had an earthquake last night, and I was awake for it!  It wasn't as scary for me as past earthquakes for some reason - felt more like rolling than jolting - but we were further from the epicenter than my ex who lives in Oakl@nd.

8/05/2015

Short (ish) Post on New Place and Someone from the Past

Short post this morning to share that I am moved into the house I mentioned last time.  It feels great to be in "my" space - it's shared but I'm paying rent versus being a guest in another's home - and to know I have the option of staying another month or longer if needed.  This situation IS quite perfect for me, I must say.  Thank you, God.

My friend is driving over in her truck this morning to drop off my bed.  I have been sleeping on an air mattress the past few nights, which was fine, but a bed will be nice.  Zoey is in dog heaven to have the run of a full house after being confined to single rooms the past months.  We are learning the neighborhood and have been enjoying walking around a lovely nearby park.

The interview went well.  Not perfect, but well.  I was a bit scattered on a couple of unexpected questions but did great on several other questions and my 10-minute presentation.  From buying a new outfit, to lengthy research, to doing a mock interview with a friend, I know I did everything possible to prepare, so now it's out of my hands.

My final juicy bit of news is that my ex, S, contacted me for the third time since our break-up, asking if he could share recent insights about our time together.  That bait was too enticing to pass up, so I responded, and he shared... well, he didn't share much of anything new, so it was kind of disappointing.  He basically validated what I already knew - that he did have anger issues he needed to work on and had shut down in the intimacy department and also was unable to get to a place when we were together where he could "hang out" with me and just be normal - work or whatever.  He said he had made progress in all these areas in a relationship he had been in since about six months after our break up, which had now "reverted to being friends."  Ah, I see why you contacted me at this time, S.

Anyway, I'm considering getting together with him to see if I can release some residual anger and hurt from the last few months we were together.  But first, I need to get clear on "how" that might be possible.  The goal would not be to get back together, but to further heal my feelings from that time, and maybe have more positive feelings towards S, allowing friendship.  I am meeting with a counselor this week (the one S and I saw when we were together and that I saw individually a few times after), so hopefully that will help.

7/24/2015

Housing Update

I have an update to share about housing and my ongoing transition...

The friend I have been house sitting for is returning on the 30th but said I can stay until the 1st, which works out great!  At that time, I will be moving to a month-to-month rental at a town a little farther away from some of my activities but only a 20 minute commute from my work.

Initially, I had investigated this place from a long-term perspective but then the landlord bomb-shelled both me and my potential roommate by letting us know that he and his wife, who sadly has progressing Parkinson's symptoms, will be moving in to the house in three months.  I felt worse for the other woman, who has been living there a few years and was already feeling stressed with the change of roommates, etc.  She and I had talked openly about my plans to adopt, and she had been supportive about that and even suggested that in a year or so she planned to move to Hawaii, at which time I could likely take over the two-bedroom house.  She has been very supportive of her daughter, who lives not far away and is a single mom of a two-year-old, though I don't think she's an SMC.  The landlord's news put the kabosh on all that, although theoretically we could look for a house together after leaving this one.

To add complexity, when I went over there last night to talk about the option of staying there for a month or two - which would benefit the landlord, as he would receive full rent and likely not be able to find anyone else for so short a time - he informed us that, legally, his wife has to agree to selling their current house and moving into this one, and she is currently resistant and far from saying yes.  Hmm.  So, the timeframe is really unknown, but I'm not willing to roll the dice and spend the time/money/energy moving all my furniture and stuff into the house not knowing if it's just for a couple months or six.  And even if it were six, moving again in a few months sounds horrible, as well.

Sooo, the landlord is currently reviewing my credit and application and if it's okay (I told him about the identity theft and he seemed understanding), then I will move in on the first, sans furniture.  This is actually great for me, since I should know about the results of my interview - possibly interviews if I get a second interview at a college I applied for in Oak.land - within the next month and can then decide if I will be moving North or not.  If not, then I'll likely stay there a second month and continue to seek stable, long-term housing in this area.

As I write all this out, I can hear that it sounds kind of crazy, but after my last few months of uncertainty and living in three different places, all belonging to other people, this feels pretty stable and sensible to me.  Paying rent again will stress my finances, but my income will go back up mid-August when Fall semester starts, and it all should be do-able.  Fingers crossed, I'll be making a big move up North very soon! :-)

7/17/2015

Thriving vs. Surviving

This will be a summary of the ups and downs of my recent dating/living situation with C, as well as an appeal to send me some good thoughts about an exciting upcoming event.

So, I lived with C for a couple of weeks and, let's just say, what I thought would happen, did.  Our chemistry ignited and we ended up fooling around several times.  It was fun - really wonderful actually - and I don't regret it, even though it led to hurt feelings, as I also predicted.

When I asked him about staying there, he warned me that a long-time friend - a girl - would be coming into town during that time and he was concerned about awkwardness (there's that word again).  At the time, we were not dating and, frankly, I was somewhat desperate to find a place to stay... plus, I missed him.  So, I over-optimistically reassured him I could handle it, and it would not be a big deal.

Well, when the actual event transpired, we had been hanging out and connecting physically, and I felt more attached.  Plus, I assumed she would spend time there but had no idea she would be spending the night. :-/  Also, he didn't give me enough warning so that I could have made arrangements to stay somewhere else.  Basically, it was really stressful and, yes, awkward and uncomfortable, for me at least, even though she had her 7-year-old daughter with her and I don't think anything sexual happened.  She still slept in his room.  In his bed.  With me down the hall.  Yuck.  I felt he should have done more to acknowledge the impact on me and try to alleviate it - at the least by giving me a couple days warning.

The deeper issue is that the intimacy we shared (not sex but intimacy that felt increasingly loving) didn't change his feelings about commitment and moving forward to being in a relationship.  It didn't seem to increase his attachment to me; whereas for me, it definitely did.  That was a sad and painful realization.  Thus, it was probably good timing to leave for Tahoe and from there move into my house-sitting situation.  We have had a couple of processing conversations since then, but I have decided I am done trying to break through his wall and make him realize he loves me and can't live without me. ha  I faced reality that this will not be happening any time soon, and likely not ever.  I'm moving on and putting my energy towards more productive and mutual situations.  I actually have a date tonight that I'm looking forward to (sort of - ha).

The exciting upcoming event is that I found out yesterday that I have an interview for the full-time counseling position in San.ta Rosa on the 28th!  Yay!  I actually was pumping my arms and exclaiming, "Yes! Yes! Yes!" when I got the email.  Please send me good thoughts at 3 and 4pm on the 28th.  There is a writing part of the interview at 3:15, and the actual interview is at 4... I'm sure it will be a panel interview again, but last time (I interviewed for another position a few months ago) I remember thinking these were the nicest people - and this was the most enjoyable interview - that I had ever experienced in this context.  I do plan to spend a lot of time preparing!

Both professionally and personally, I'm setting my sights on "thriving" versus just "surviving."

7/11/2015

Family Time in Tahoe: Wonderful and Awkward

It's been so long since I posted!  In a way, I wanted to wait until something positive had happened on the housing front but nothing significant has happened yet.  The 4th of July week was spent with family in Tahoe.  We spread my Mom's ashes out on the lake and some off the dock at the house, where she loved to have coffee in the morning and sit out in the sun with my Dad.  My Dad said some nice and loving words about Mom and broke down a bit.  I tried to hug him and comfort him at one point, but he is not one to receive much comfort, at least from me.  We all shed a few tears.  For some reason, I felt very protective and loving towards the urn while it had her ashes.  No one else seemed to really feel that, so I was the "bearer of the urn" and held it while the boat was going fast and bumping around.  It did feel like more closure - for all of us I think.

Being with the older kids - J is seven now and E is five - was special and fun of course.  They, especially J, had really planned out the 4th with lots of decorations and cards and brownies sprinkled with an American flag design.  J had special outfits, and they all wore 4th of July pajamas, including little 4-month-old D, my brother's new daughter.  Her older sister, V, is three now, and is much more fun to be around.  She used to cry a lot and only want to be held by her mom and dad.  Now she adores and plays with the older kids and is very brave and acrobatic, doing jumping somersaults on the big couch.  One day, we went out and anchored the boat, then swam around, playing in the water and laying out in the sun.  Fun!  Another day, we drove over to a hotel across the lake and had lunch, then hung out on the beach for a few hours, sipping cocktails while up to our waists in cool water as the kids played and paddled little kayaks around us.

The sadder or more awkward parts of trip: realizing that I felt more of a sense of comfort and belonging with my family without my Mom there. :-( I feel grief and confusion about this.  When my Mom was there, she often responded in prickly or sarcastic ways in the context of everyone being around (except with the kids), and I was generally aware of being a lower-class family member in her eyes; less deserving of respect and love than my two siblings who were her "real" kids.  I  know I have explored this topic before on this blog... I take responsibility for my part in rejecting her attempts to communicate with me when I was a teenager, and even pushing her away more passive-aggressively when I was younger, for reasons I don't fully understand but likely have to do with unresolved grief for my birth mother and that she "wasn't my real mom."

She was definitely much different than my birth mom in terms of emotional intelligence and expressing affection and love, as well as being playful - my birth mom was a teacher and loved kids, loved playing with kids and with me.  Anyway, it must have been hard for her.  And maybe this caused much of the unrelenting awkwardness and rift between us.  I can say that when we were alone the last couple/few years, there were some really nice, comfortable times - caring for the kids, making food, catching up on stuff.  I'm grateful for those times.  But when we were with the whole family, this undercurrent of rejection that I perceived really hurt.  Perhaps I was the proverbial "scapegoat" of the family, and she took out her unhappiness with my Dad on me, to some degree.  I don't know.  My Dad has anger about things that happened between he and I in the past, so they likely bonded over their disapproval at times.  It's not a pretty thing to see or think about.  In any case, this trip there was still the family culture of drinking, and my Dad was still generally focused within and difficult to talk with, but somehow, I felt more relaxed inside and comfortable in my own skin.  I had a "place" in the family, equal to others.

That said, I talked to my Mom at times, expressing regret about how things were with us - that we weren't closer - and telling her I loved her and wished things had been different.  Also, I felt more understanding and appreciation for how much she loved Tahoe and how much effort she put into making it a beautiful place (there are three houses there - the main house, the guest house, and the apartment over the garage - all comfortable and decorated beautifully).  I felt deep sadness that she died too soon, with so much time left on the table in which she could have enjoyed the place.  Life is not fair.

The last awkward part: all my immediate family except my Dad left Sunday, which I didn't know was the plan.  I stayed until Tuesday, and my aunt (the one my Dad has "taken up with") and her son and his wife came on Monday to spend a week there.  Over the weekend, my Dad was obviously thinking about her and texting her.  And sometimes he wasn't present with our family because he was thinking of getting the place ready for them - making sure things were clean, talking about replacing the barbeque, etc.  My sister said something at one point about him being present, which is unlike her, but I'm so glad she did.  I need to tell her that.  Anyway, then they came Monday and... it wasn't as awkward as I thought it might be.  A little weird at times like when she's cooking dinner, like my Mom used to, and my Dad is sitting in his chair watching TV, as he used to.  But we got along fine - she made an effort to be nice it seems - and my cousin and his wife drank a lot, but were comfortable to be around, too.  I even surprised myself by thinking she and my Dad were kind of "cute" at times, like new couples are.  Weird, I know.  It helped that they weren't physically affectionate with one another in front of me.

So that's my Tahoe trip, the good, bad, and ugly.  I'm in the July house-sitting situation now and so far, so good.  It's "rugged" but not as rugged as where I was last month.  I have my own studio room with half bath out back, which is great.  Her neighbor is in the house but is gone a lot, as he lives nearby.  We are sharing the eco-minded house and garden chores, as well as cat care.  This cat is on his last legs for sure.  I hope he makes it until she returns. :-/  I have some stuff to report about my last days at the guy's house but maybe later.  Focusing now on house-hunting and simultaneously praying I get this job I applied for up North...