I survived...

... my orphan Thanksgiving.  ha  It actually wasn't too bad.  A friend of a friend hosted and she was a cool person - an aspiring stand-up comedian with depth - and I enjoyed talking with her about both comedy and my theatre activities before everyone arrived.  Yes, unfortunately I was the first to arrive, but in my defense, it was a half an hour after the start time. 

In any case, when the other people did arrive, they were interesting and easy-to-talk-with... and they brought some delicious food!  I bowed out about three hours in, prior to the games portion of the evening, thinking I should get home to Zoey (but equally because my introvert was tired out).  I talked to S for quite another lengthy and productive conversation earlier in the day, on his way to his dad's, and my brother later in the afternoon.  So, all in all, it wasn't too tragic and lonely.

Today, I had a phone appointment with my counselor, then met with S for lunch.   I'm not sure what to say about everything right now... Suffice to say, we have been able to talk through things, be more open, and admit to our parts in the relationship problems more readily with a little distance, I guess. 

On my side, I am seeing more clearly a part of me that is cold and hard... it comes out when I am anxious and/or uncomfortable, which I was with S's insecurity and what I judged as "neediness" around communication and attention, for example.  I want to soften this part of me so that I can be more compassionate and available with myself and my partner. 

S really appreciated being heard around some things, including that he felt I expected a lot of one-way support when I was focused on other things, like family or work conferences etc. but then hadn't seemed willing to give "care and repair" to the relationship afterwards.  He was able to hear that my anxiety and need to prove that I am "okay" can block my ability to engage and be sensitive/caring at these times - that it wasn't about him, as he kept thinking.  This is just one example of many of these types of insights, which feel like a relief to share with one another.

Going forward, we are still broken up and will be communicating less for a while - we said we would not talk or email for the next week, then check in at that point.  He feels like he will get more traction on his anger (and underlying fear) issues working on his own, and that he needs to do this in order to be available for a healthy relationship.  As mentioned, I want to work on softening this cold part of myself that can be so judgmental and distancing. 

Heading in to the lunch today, I wanted to get a sense of whether we both had some level of hope that we might work through our thorniest problems, opening the door to be together down the line.  Somewhat surprisingly, we both said we did have this hope.  He mentioned two or three months as a possible timeline in his mind. 

While I feel happy about this, I also feel unwilling to put my life on hold during this time.  He made the choice to break up, and there are no guarantees as to what will happen.  So, I am thinking - and told him - that I am going to date or at least be open to meeting other people.  Perhaps this experience will help me feel more sure about my eventual commitment to S.  I will say that I have felt more chemistry and closeness with him, since we have been broken up, which could be just due to relief from the conflict/anger cycle and a feeling of "being on the same page"... and could also be partly due to my going off supplements, including DHEA.

So that's my complicated report.  This weekend, I don't have much planned except for dancing on Sunday.  I'm going to try and get a few things done tomorrow but will also need to get the heck out of the house for a while - maybe I'll go see a movie.  I hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving and enjoy this weekend, as well.



Feeling sad off and on today.  Woke up to an email from S, which was a response to an email I had sent saying, in part, that I felt grief that we were at the cusp of changes that might have improved things for us - i.e. breakthrough insights on his part around his anger, my going off DHEA, plans to spend more time together, using new communication tools.  He basically shot down the validity of every aspect of potential improvement.  DHEA? Nah, that did not make much difference.  Communication tools?  Not nearly enough, as we weren't even close to a positive shift, etc. 

My email was not advocating we try and work things out, just expressing sadness.  I must have hit a nerve to trigger such a detailed and defensive response.  I imagine he is not as confident as he seems about his reasoning. 

Even though I believe breaking up was the right choice, it's still hard sometimes, and I would like to hear more sadness and complexity from him in his thinking about it.  The one thing I am accepting through this whole ordeal, though, is that I cannot control or change him.  The fact is that I was not happy with him and was less and less so over the past few months.  I had fears and doubts and was anything but certain about being together long term.  There was a time where I felt a lot more positive about it but not for several months now.  I still had hope and I still wanted to get to the other side of the developments mentioned above.  But he did not, and I can't change that. 

He pulled the plug, and he told me that, even though he said differently at one point, he is not now capable of controlling his anger and communicating without constantly attacking me personally.  Even if he wanted to stay together, I would not want to go forward if he told me things would continue as they have been, and he was not going to even try to work on things.  It had gotten to the point where I felt verbally attacked on a regular basis in a way that was not healthy. 

It does bother me that both his and my patterns repeated themselves.  I had judgmental thoughts grow and settle into my mind in a way that blocked my expression of love for him.  He became increasingly negative and jealous and was constantly accusing me of "bad" behavior and not caring about him.  How much did these two things feed into one another?  I'm not sure.  Perhaps we truly are just not meant for one another, considering how much we seem to "trigger" one another and push reactive buttons.  That, added to the question I had about whether our overall level of chemistry was adequate does make me doubt our lasting power over time.

We are going to meet in-person (finally) tomorrow at a coffee shop to process the break-up.  He would have just gone on without that, but I felt our relationship and history was deserving of a conversation beyond phone and email.  Wish me luck.  I hope to come out of it feeling like I have been understood to a greater degree and vice versa.  And ideally, with a sense of care for one another. 

On another note, I attended a community meeting today from 10am to 1pm, during which we got to know each other better, talked about co-housing and intentional community possibilities, and ate a delicious, healthy potluck meal.  The people were great, and I'm excited about possibilities there.  This community will be based in a specific geographical area, however, and I'm not positive where I will be living come next summer after my housemate gets married (now that S and I will obviously not be living together).  He may even move in with his fiance sooner than that and said he should know the timeline in the next few weeks.  We will see.

Speaking of potlucks,  my leadership training pod is coming to my house for a potluck on Monday night.  I get a little anxious about hosting people but am looking forward to checking in on our leadership assignments together.  I have been doing writing on my "creative scene" (ideal vision) for relationship and will do some writing on my work scene tomorrow.  The project I will focus on over the next several months in the program will come from this exploration process.

Lastly, I still have not figured out a plan for Thanksgiving.  Looks like I may be eating the full spread I bought myself (well, not all at once!) and watching movies with Zoey... The sweet thing is that several people, including some of you guys, have said they would hang out with me or would invite me over or whatever if they were in town or didn't have set plans with their in-laws, etc.  So, I do feel cared for.


Reflections on Dysfunction

This week has gone better than it could have... the vices I turn to in times of pain or extreme stress have not reared their ugly heads, and I am taking decent care of myself. 

My involvement in this leadership program is making a big difference, in that I don't feel "alone" in the world.  As most of you know, my family lives in Oregon and we're not all that close, anyway.  Friendships for me seem to grow at a snail's pace, so I have a few friends but still no "best" or super close friends.  I am part of a few communities that provide opportunity for group activism, socializing, or creative expression, but these haven't grown into a network I could turn to when I need deeper support.  My support system has basically been my brother and my housemate, and occasionally a couple friends I see through the community stuff.  I get support from blogging, which feels great, but I wish you guys could come over to the house! :)

Anyway, knowing that this group of people are there and we are all moving through this journey and process together is surprisingly helpful.  I have some tangible connection in between the monthly gatherings, too: today, I talked to my assigned support "buddy" and in about a week my regional "pod" (6 other people) are coming to my house for a potluck and check-in.  The facilitators talk about all of us forming a "village" that will support our goals and about how important this is - how we used to have closer extended families and neighborhoods but that's not common now.  So true, in my case.  My nuclear family was very isolationist.

So, I'm doing okay I guess.  Waves of sadness come over me and I have cried a few times, which is totally normal, of course.  Our minds want to remember things in a nostalgic way, like "wasn't that so great how we used to do this or that?"  But I keep pulling myself back into the reality that much of S and I's time together was rocky, stressful and often full of pain.  Maybe not for certain periods, but for a long time now, and increasingly moreso the last few months.  To help me in my perspective and my heart separation from S, I would like to share a few things that were indicators of dysfunction:

  • I think about Tahoe and how we couldn't even walk the dog or make a frickin' salad without bickering or getting tense, and how he got so pissed off at me for not responding to him at one point.  How the mornings and evenings in this beautiful place often involved fighting and stress.  That was a low point for sure and fueled additionally by progesterone.  But almost every trip with family involved a lot of tension and fighting - that just isn't a good sign. I recognize my part in that I am often more stressed and less grounded around my family (though happy sometimes, too, and especially happy with the kids).  I have less to give a partner at these times and can seem more distant.  But S knew this about me and we had talked in depth about "why" this was, yet he didn't cut me slack or talk to me from that perspective of knowing how hard it could be for me.  He continued to get resentful and take things personally and generally make things emotionally harder.
  • The relationship didn't provide the support and synergy I would like to have with my partner.  When I talked about my work passions or ideas and goals, he would sometimes take a skeptical stance or just not provide much enthusiasm or positive encouragement.  In one case, I asked him several times if we could do a brainstorm session for creative goals I had, and he was lackluster and avoidant.  When I was seeing a life coach for help with getting career counseling clients, I couldn't talk to him about it because he would express doubt and fear or withhold support, which was painful.  Later, he admitted it brought up fear about his own goals, but this was a general pattern.  He also struggled to go to a place of mutual excitement or synergistic exchange of ideas, which I so love doing.  This relates to my vision of a relationship including collaboration and partnership on creative or community projects.  We didn't work well together in this way.... except with participating in activism and personal growth "events" - these were on the good side of the chart.  But I want to have this goodness when we are alone together, outside of events.
  • The last one I'll share for now, because I'm making myself depressed, is one that will not surprise you: chemistry.  Since early on in our relationship, I have questioned whether that area was "good enough."  He's significantly older than me (9.5 years) and looks his age.  Also, the chemistry/smell thing was a little off - sometimes pretty good and sometimes not great (the supplements I'm on may have affected this at times).  I know it's not the most important thing and that it fades over time, but I believe it can also provide the "juice" or excitement to help you get through the tough times.  It can provide fun and intimacy and actually has been shown to jack up chemicals in our brain like oxytocin that help our immune response and make us feel happy and relaxed.  It was hard to be clear in this area with him because sometimes we had a good dynamic and fun times - definitely more at certain times of my cycle and more when he was more "in shape" and taking better care of himself.  But overall, I would rate this area a 6, and I don't think that's good enough.  On reflection, I also think that his anger and our fighting made things worse in this area.  Anger is not sexy.

Thanks for listening and for your supportive comments on my last post.

A couple last pieces of news:  I'm postponing my fibroid surgery until January so I don't miss my training weekend.  Also, so that I have more time to line up care and transportation, since S will obviously not be helping now.  We were going to go to his dad's for Thanksgiving, so now I am left without a place to go.  Trying not to feel sorry for myself on this one.  I guess I'm going to put out feelers and see what a couple of my friends are doing, but I hate doing that.


It's Over

S and I have broken up. He was the one to officially end it yesterday, on the phone, on his way out of town for a training. Because we have been fighting so much for so long now, it wasn't shocking, but didn't see it coming at that time. I'm sad but also feel some relief.  I think it's interesting that this affirmation came to me two days before we broke up:  "My relationship is stable and relatively calm, and is filled with love, compassion, and understanding."


Turning Over New Leaves

Just wanted to share a few (fairly) quick updates:
  • I am running my first crowd funding campaign and am inching closer to my goal of covering half of tuition for the Ecology of Leadership program.  I don't know if I have shared a lot on this blog about it, but I feel stuck in a certain unproductive pattern in my life (dealing with time and reclusivity).  It has felt protective, but I see it does not serve me, as is.  So, I am hoping to shift that pattern and also accomplish my goals to increase my Green/Transition career counseling clients and to be part of a social change performing arts troupe.  The first weekend of the training actually just happened (on a check and a prayer).  It was so intense!  Brought up some of my awkward, insecure feelings in groups - mainly at the end when I was exhausted - but also introduced some awesome tools and structures, such as a support buddy and a several-person "pod" of people who will meet in between monthly training weekends and offer mutual support and accountability.
  • S and I are continuing to vacillate back and forth from getting along to having painful conflict.  My family was in town for the Oregon/Stanford game, and we went out for dinner and drinks.  It went well overall but ended in conflict about how I was "not letting him speak."  Then, we had the best intentions for my weekend training - even though every weekend event in the past has brought up difficulty - but we ended up fighting on the phone as I drove back yesterday.  I know I contributed.  I was so exhausted and intolerant of his questions and what I felt was a lack of trust and effort to control me.  To be transparent, I'm ashamed to admit I may have smoked for a few days back when we were in our most stressful time of recent fighting.  Well, remnants of this time were still on the deck, and when S came over to care for Zoey yesterday, he saw these and thought I was still partaking in this behavior.  I told him no, these were from before (which I'd told him about), but he continued to question me on the exact timeline.  I sort of blew up.  I am so wanting love and acceptance right now - my ability to weather judgment and anger is at an all-time low.  So I'm trying something new... since saying what I "don't" want has not worked so far, I decided to come up with an affirmation of what I "do" want.  What do you think?:  "My relationship is stable and relatively calm, and is filled with love, compassion, and understanding."
  • My surgery to remove the large fibroid behind my uturus, scheduled for December 6th, conflicts with one of the EOL monthly training weekends.  I am checking to see if there is any way to reschedule for early January.  If not, I feel I need to suck it up and miss a weekend of training.  It will be difficult, but I have waited so long and am so wanting to move forward and get this problem resolved.  The program leaders said it was okay for us to miss a weekend but strongly suggested we try and make them if at all possible.  They are all about "creating the village," which I understand - and which may meet my long-held desire for community - but which can also be very intense!

Guess that's all for now.  Still looking forward to the holidays, despite having a lot on my plate.

p.s. Oh, and Zoey's bumps above her eyebrow went away.  Yay!


Halloween and Moving Forward

Thank you for your feedback and support around my and S's difficulties.  I really appreciated receiving your comments.  We have come back from the brink.  In huge news, he has recognized and admitted that he has a lot of anger from childhood (perhaps exacerbated by issues in his marriages), and it comes out in vastly disproportionate ways in our relationship.  He is working with our counselor around some acceptance and healing work, which will hopefully lead to having a healthier relationship with the anger and more skill in expressing feelings. 

On my side of the aisle, I see that I was the one that opened the door to breaking up by bringing up this possibility in the heat of some of our recent arguments.  In the moment, I felt completely overwhelmed and part of me DID want to get away from him, but in the big picture, it's not what I want.  So, I'm instituting a self-imposed moratorium on break-up language, and am also working to be more present when conflict comes up, versus deflecting it or getting defensive.  I get scared this means I'll be trampled on but am trying to remember being present doesn't mean being a doormat.  Ideally, I want to be present for both myself AND for him - trying to acknowledge his experience, while not taking in the shame part.

Enough of the super heavy and deep stuff for this post.  We had a fun Halloween evening!  I raced home from work but still missed most of the trick-or-treaters, I think.  :(  I handed out candy to a few groups, including one gaggle of teens, just as we were leaving.  For some reason, the teens were endearing to me, and I was glad to end the candy-giving time with them.  Then, we went out for Halloween drinks and had some enjoyable conversation about the deep stuff going on with him and with us.  We came back to my place afterwards and goofed around - watching TV and doing computer and household stuff in a tipsy state for a while - then had a nice sleepover.

We have a birthday party to attend tomorrow night, church Sunday morning, and hopefully continued dance lessons Sunday night.  S is somewhat reticent because he has a lot of writing work on his plate, but I really want to keep up our dance progression.  I think it adds to the fun and romance of our relationship, which is vital.

Quick ttc check-in... I'm starting to wean myself off of the DHEA/Metformin and am pretty much throwing in the towel on my own eggs.  I'm not sure the grief around this has hit me yet, but I do feel we gave it some really good tries here at the end.  Last week, I talked to someone at CA Conceptions, and that program sounds promising on the donor embryo front.  Continuing to do research.  In the meanwhile, I'm taking action to get my large fibroid (and likely the smaller one too) outside my uterus removed.  I have a consult in two or three weeks with the same surgeon I met with previously and will hopefully get the surgery before Christmas.

I'll end with pictures of Zoey in yet another Halloween costume that didn't fit!  In the second picture, you can see she has a couple white bumps on her left eyebrow.  She's had them for a few days and I'm keeping an eye on them.  If they don't improve soon, I'll take her in to the vet.  Any idea what they might be?  I'm thinking either bug bites or a reaction to a poison oak-type plant.