Limited Vision

As you can probably see, I've been struggling a bit with formatting on this blog.  I like to write out a draft post in a document on my Mac, then cut and paste.  But somehow during this process the font changes and no longer complies normally with blogger editing tools.

Anyway, it's a work in progress, and I'm enjoying the process of learning!

A thought today:  It's so easy to judge others and separate ourselves from them and their situation.  My father did that recently with regard to my life and his idea of "meaning."

I know I have done the same thing looking at my parents' choices.  And I have done it in relationships, taking on an attitude of contempt versus compassion.

This song, by Ani DiFranco fills me with a sense of strength when I hear it and is a reminder that each of us is so much more than one person's necessarily limited view and judgments.


Emotional Processing Continues. . .

I finally had a post-email conversation with R yesterday, but it has me a bit perplexed.  He never did respond directly to my email and admitted he felt overwhelmed after reading it.  But we talked yesterday about some aspects. . .

I became clear that he is interested in becoming friends again and getting to know me now to see whether we have that heart and soul connection we felt back then.  It seems that we both have thought of our time together over the years and perceived it as unique and special, especially considering that neither of us having experienced that level of connection in other relationships.  

But I recognize, and I think he does too, that the circumstances back then invited intensity and impacted the parameters within which we could know each other.  In a way, we don't truly know each other, at least not the more mundane everyday versions of each other.  Not to mention that we have both grown and changed over the years in ways neither of us really knows at this point, if that makes sense.  

I guess I'm feeling perplexed because I'm not ready to go there yet, even though part of me would like to.  I still have unresolved feelings about the way the decision was made regarding the abor.tion so many years ago and the roller coaster nature of our involvement, which left me with feelings of anger and resentment.

Some of those feelings are lessening just in the conversations we have had so far and the responsibility he has taken, the acknowledgment of self-centered attitudes at the time.  But another piece I need to talk to him about relates to the circumstances in which I would have probably chosen to have the child.  

I think if he would have said that he would help me and support me, I would have seriously considered it.  Because - and I know this isn't "mature" or an ideal way of thinking - but at the time I likely would have thought about the fact that I was in love with him and the baby was part of him and it would have been a bond between us.   

In a way, looking back, a small part of me felt like he abandoned me, like we created something together and then he pushed it away and didn’t want anything to do with it.  And that felt like a rejection of being with me as well as a rejection of the pregnancy.  

I want to ask him:  What do you feel when you hear that?  Have you felt any regrets about that decision?  Why or why not?  have you ever thought about what would have happened or what it would have been like if we had the baby?  Why did you never even consider it?  I pretty much know why but I need to hear it.

Additional perplexity = his current cohabitation with another woman.  Interestingly, as I was writing this he emailed and mentioned he is moving out, so more shall be revealed on that front.

So yeah, lots of heavy stuff.  But somehow I feel like working through this will help reveal my current pathway to motherhood, whatever that may turn out to be.  And a very old pain in my heart may just be healed.


Make Your Own Music

I have recently compiled a playlist of songs that inspire me to be more authentic and claim my own identity and my own life.  This one is at the top of the list right now, and I wanted to share it with you.  I will continue to share the songs in future posts.

Too Much Emotion

Feeling emotional today for a variety of reasons, I think.  I am in the oh-so-lovely feminine time of moodiness (at least for me) in which every emotion seems inflated to twice it's normal size.  
Then of course, the dialogue with R continues.  I wrote him an email yesterday and sent it in its' unfiltered state, then woke up this morning with "email regret."  I think I said things from an emotional place and in some cases they were more extreme than reality.  For example, this lovely gem just popped right out:
"(I know this is COMPLETELY irrational and I don't really believe it but there's this childish wounded part of me that thinks that YOU OWE ME A BABY.  I know, I know, crazy talk.  But you have THREE KIDS and now you are having grandkids and I'm happy for you.  but I'm sad for me.  because that never happened for me (at least not yet) and I really wanted and still want it to.  anyway, yes, more there.)"
Yikes!  That is actually true, that this wounded part of me feels that, but did I really want to tell him that?  Apparently in that moment, I did.  Part of the lead up to this email was him revealing to me, which he had not done up to that point, that he is actually in a relationship right now.  I knew he was living with someone but didn't think they were in a relationship.  
So after I got off the phone, I texted that I was feeling some anger and sadness and wasn't clear exactly why.  He encouraged me to write an email and really 'let go,' that he was there to listen, that he had a sense I had more to say.  So I did (and part of the email addressed learning about his relationship and how that brought up feelings from the past and a dynamic I do not want to reexperience) but now I wonder whether filters have their purpose. . .another thing I wrote:
"Maybe part of this is anger at being in that position for so long so many years ago and your LACK OF ABILITY TO MAKE A DECISION which drove me COMPLETELY INSANE after a while.  I should have gotten off the crazy roller coaster but apparently I COULDN'T MAKE THAT DECISION - I was like a pit bull when it's jaw locks or something, I couldn't let go.  But I think after going through it enough times, that deep down I was PISSED OFF at you and that some of the love I had for you was crushed.  and I think also that maybe I lost some respect for you or questioned your character (which was a direct reflection of my own character) and also, maybe, there was some uncertainty about us making it in the long run.  maybe because there was so much pressure on it - if you LEAVE YOUR MARRIAGE  for our relationship then it had better be perfect!!! you know?  and I AM NOT PERFECT.  AND YOU ARE NOT PERFECT. AND IT WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN PERFECT (actually I don't even WANT perfect).  Would it have been 'good enough' to last? would our love and attraction have had sustaining power?  We are different. . ."
In looking at this now, I'm feeling embarrassed about the level of anger, but I guess there's no hiding it, I have anger about what happened.  I went on to talk a little about differences and say who knows whether we would have gone the distance or not, that we had a lot of love/attraction but we would have had challenges (like any relationship does).  
But I feel like in this section I was trying to explain the doubts I had when it came down to the reality that we might actually be together, that he might choose to be with me.  But I don't really know (did I mention this all happened 15-20 years ago?).  I have theories but at some level I'm just guessing.  It may have been my fear of intimacy.  It may have been resentment and lack of trust.  It may have been we had gotten to know each other better and I wasn't as sure he was the one for me.  Who knows?  
So if I didn't really know, I guess I wish I wouldn't have put all that out there.  The perfection part. . .well I'm glad that part got said.  Because even now, I think he has a fantasy about me that I'm perfect or our love was ideal and clearly that's not true (though part of me idealizes what we felt for each other, as well).  And I need to accept him for who he really is, warts and all.  Whether we remain in contact or not, I think this is a good thing to do.
So PMS, all kinds of feelings around wrestling with the past with this man who really had a huge impact on my life. . . and then the final thing adding to my emotion today (like that wouldn't be enough haha) is a post I read this morning about a fellow blogger's process of wrestling with her own feelings about God and the idea of people being blessed or chosen to have a child.  

I have much compassion and understanding for her feelings, but one thing she said felt like a needle poking a wound.  She said the phrase "women who choose to abor.t" or something like that.  More than once.  And whether it was true or projected on my part, I felt some judgment in the way it was communicated. :(  ack  

I have shared how much I've wrestled with this decision over the years and continue to do so even in this very moment.  And this felt awful to read right now.  
But I know I'm overly sensitive at this point so I am going to try and accept and love myself, accept and love this person, and accept, love (and forgive, which is the ultimate goal) R, for whom I continue to feel much gratitude for engaging in this dialogue in the first place.


Gift from the Past

I am checking in to say that I had the craziest experience the last couple days in which the man who was probably the most formative early relationship of my life, contacted me on Link.ed In and ended up calling me this morning for an hour and a half phone call.  I am still in some disbelief. . .

A little back story:  I'm not proud of the fact that he was married when we were together.  My only excuse is that I was 23 and naive enough to believe that if you felt the intense feelings we felt for one another, then it was destined, it was "meant to be."  I fell head over heels and stayed there for a couple of intense years. . .

Regardless of the dysfunction and uncertainty, not to mention the ethical issues, I realized today that my relationship with him was the only one in which I was completely unrestrained in my love - very risky, but I was definitely not one foot out the door, which can't be said for many of my other relationships since then.

The true kicker in the story though, considering that I am now so very much wanting to be a mother, is that I became pregnant with him very early on and had an abor.tion, a fact that has troubled me deeply off and on ever since.  I believe in choice for women, yet based on my experience I truly believe in counseling about the potential emotional impacts of the decision.

In any case, when I found out I was pregnant, this man who I'll call "R" immediately began advocating to end it and made very clear this was the only choice he would consider.

For my part, I was so in love with him and I would say disconnected from my self, I couldn't imagine going against what he wanted and risk losing him.  I wish I would have been a stronger person.  I wish I would have had the guts to say, "You know what, I am not sure what I want, but I'm going to take some time to think about it.  And it is MY decision."  But I wasn't and I didn't.

So, basically I've had some complicated grief around that decision and when R contacted me, I knew that I wanted to talk to him about it.  So that's what we did this morning.  Along with talking about a lot of other things that happened back then and catching up on our lives since (he and his wife divorced several years ago), we got a good start on what is a long overdue emotional dialogue.

And you know what?  He was there.  He was not defensive, was completely supportive, and agreed that he was selfish and acting on his own interest.  He apologized.  He said he has thought a lot about it and felt badly.  And whatever happens from here, that is a true gift.


Work that Reconnects

I attended a workshop on Saturday called, "The Work that Reconnects," created by Joanna Macy. http://www.joannamacy.net/theworkthatreconnects/goals.html

My recent meeting with the local Transition Towns (TT) "Heart and Soul" group in Albany led me to this workshop, and I left feeling excited about potential of these exercises to empower and build local community. On a personal level, I feel excited about working with these people toward TT goals and that this collaboration might be really fun and fulfilling!

A little more about my experience: The exercises were really deep and engaging and led us into asking deep questions of one another. It was amazing to me what was revealed in such a short time in some of the partner activities, leaving you feeling like you really got a sense of who the person is, of their fundamental life experiences and what shapes them.

Some of the dialogue questions included asking about the person who most gave you a sense of your own worth, about a significant place from your childhood, what you love about nature/earth, and your feelings about what is happening now with the earth and other things - all very rich.

In one of the following exercises, we created a "Truth Mandala" with four corners: leaves representing grief, a bowl for emptiness, a sturdy stick for anger, and a stone for fear. We took turns visiting the corners and speaking to one or more of these emotions. I felt honored and amazed to witness others’ emotional expression, which I experienced as authentic, truthful, and without embellishment or prettying up.

I shared about grief about the current work situation in world: how limited it is and how people are expected to fit into little boxes/niches and are not nurtured and guided to express their true essence/gifts. How wounding shallow judgments can be, such as the judgment that not enough status or money=a meaningless life etc.

The grief started on a personal level stemming from recent conversations with my father and the subsequent emotional shift I've already talked about to fully claim my life and my own identity. . .but also expanded out to recognize the way our system fails so many people, fails to value and capture everyone's gifts, all of which are needed as we evolve to become a stronger, more sustainable (and humane) community/society. I felt safe to let go and openly express those things.

The final exercise we did was in triads, in which each group rotated roles with one person representing themselves and sharing their intention going forward, then alternately expressing their "voice of doubt". The second person spoke from the role of the first person's ancestor, and the third person spoke to them from the voice of a "future being".

Through this exercise, I was reassured that my gifts (counseling, training, creativity) are very much needed and was told the pill to relieve constipated creative expression is FAITH in my gifts. I need to nurture and water the seeds so they can continue to grow. The future being told me that a combination of my gifts is key and that they will be useful, especially counseling, in coming times.

Later, one of my group members, Eva, offered an idea that had really worked for her cousin about volunteering leading to a perfect wonderful job for them and also a networking opportunity with her son who teaches theatre at Berkeley high school. She said he’s gone in the schools and done some social change/socially relevant plays and explorative curriculum with the students, which sounds cool.

You never know where networking may lead. They invited me to a showing of the film, "The Economics of happiness," at their house, which I’m interested in attending and will likely have a chance to talk with their son then.

A last point: I am grateful for the facilitator, Anne, and the way she utilized her own relevant life stories and shared from her heart. She really created a sense of safety for the group.

*Side note: Synergistically, in sharing about this workshop with some ecstatic dance friends on Sunday, I think I may have found a volunteer opportunity providing career counseling services for parolees through a county mental health organization!


Active versus Passive Part II

To finish my summary introduction about the journey that brought me to this blog and what I intend this blog to be about (which may change): I left off at the juncture of losing my Bay Area job a few months ago just as I was about to get insurance and begin ttc (trying to conceive) again. Since that point, I have spent time evaluating my career strategy and focus and getting more clear about what I want in my next job and work environment (a better fit for my strengths of counseling/training/creativity, as well as greater transparency, progressive consciousness, and supportive work culture - see 4.0 Career, while ttc has taken a back seat, AGAIN. . .

. . .though I did spend a couple of months exploring a co-parenting possibility with a local man. He was attractive, gay, responsible, caring, practiced sports medicine at a local college, all good on paper and yet. . .when we spent time together and talked in greater depth about who we were and what we wanted, it became clear that our personalities/values/vision were too disparate. The nail in the coffin was the fact that he wanted EXACTLY equal time sharing of the child from DAY 1 (as in newborn), which meant we would need to live together and I was very clear that did not sound appealing.

I would still love to find a co-parent, actually, but through this experience have learned what it would take (for me: someone caring and responsible but also easy going and flexible, wants active parenting but not hung up or needing control over exact percentages, etc. and the key point being compatible personalities), and frankly I am not optimistic I will ever find that situation. Almost as hard as finding a great ROMANTIC relationship! lol

Which brings me to now and this blog and beginning to share my journey. I want to make mention of the title, "It's MY LIFE," which has to do with authenticity in the world and creating my own life, even when where I feel called to go diverges from family and mainstream approval and expectations. Part of the impetus for this blog ironically came from my father. When I went back to Oregon for Christmas, my father and I had another exchange which was particularly devastating for me (must learn not to go to stone for water) but which I'm beginning to see as a catalyst for a final shift in accepting who I really am and following my heart and soul.

What do I hope will happen from here? My goals now include finishing my current round of "great fit" organization research, then contacting them for meetings/interviews or applying as appropriate, as well as continuing to search and apply for posted positions. Continuing to date (will explore this in another post), build and contribute to local grassroots community organizing/change (another post), and pray my fertility holds out until I can start ttc again!
I look forward to hearing from you about these topics, as well.


Active versus Passive

Well, I have really enjoyed following many blogs over this past year or more - mainly on the topic of becoming a single mother by choice, but also infertility, trying to conceive, parenting, and some other more generally insightful blogs. It's been really wonderful and engaging, actually, following others' journeys - commenting when I felt called - but mainly passively reading along as they shared their insights, feelings, accomplishments. Cheering them on from the sidelines, waiting with them in suspense, or grieving when things went awry.

But I guess I feel like it's time for me to jump in the game and take a more active role in the blogging world. When you find yourself checking your favorite blogs over and over and saying out loud, "Come ON people, post something!" it might be indicate the need for action. I want to share my own journey and maybe others' will relate to my posts (and I hope share their thoughts), as I have related to so many folks, but regardless, I know this will help me to track the steps I take and to have record of my own insights, feelings, and accomplishments.

I guess I will share a little about my journey and what I THINK this blog will be about. . .I just turned 42. I always envisioned that I would get married and become a mother someday - probably in my late 20s. Weeell, that hasn't happened yet. I had a few solid, significant relationships but for a variety of reasons I struggled to maintain any of them over a year or two. A 12-step-program (relationship focused) and another rocky relationship later, I was in my mid-30's and starting to consider the possibility of getting pregnant on my own.

As so many women I know in the blogosphere did, I researched and read and joined listservs and thought a lot about my dreams and what I could and couldn't sacrifice, what I was capable of handling, what steps I was willing to take. I was encouraged by reading about others' courageous stories. I tried a couple more forays into the dating world, which were short-lived and overly focused on their capacity and interest in fatherhood (I realize now that no one wants to be seen through baby-colored glasses, versus as an individual, which is all I could seem to manage). And finally, I took the plunge and got the tests, started temping, saw an ob-gyn, went through the intensive process of choosing a donor (unlike many people, I found that process challenging but FUN - I actually got to choose! felt like I had some control where I had felt very little in the past), and then had two back to back IUIs, neither of which worked.

As anyone who has been through this knows, this can be a real emotional roller coaster. so financially and emotionally I needed to take a break and I had another short-lived relationship, as well, before returning to the process the following year and having another two back-to-back IUIs (medicated with Femara), this time with a different donor, neither of which, again, worked. Devastating.

Then shortly after, in mid-2009, the organization I was working for lost funding and closed, leaving me without a job. When I found another one at the beginning of 2010 and moved to the Bay Area, they didn't offer insurance for six months. Just when I reached the six month mark and I was about to start ttc again, due to personality differences (and a bit of a set-up) with my supervisor, in addition to it not being a great fit for me, that job fell through.

This is becoming what feels like a novel! I didn't know I had so much to say. I will continue this later in installment 2. If you have read this, welcome! I plan to share about living authentically through career and community, as well!