Resisting what is so

A few months ago, I was listening to the “Quiet Mind” podcast when I heard an an episode about “resistance to what is so” that really hit home for me.

I do a LOT of this. I shouldn’t be a single mom of three. I didn’t plan this. I didn’t want this. I was supposed to have a loving husband and a beautiful home. I was supposed to be able to be a stay-at-home mom. I was supposed to be able to be able to pick them up straight after school and sit lovingly at the table while I helped them with homework and then make homemade meals every night. Instead it’s spaghetti or a $5 pizza after I pick them up just before after-care closes, and then dragging all three of them wherever we need to go. Homework? Try to do it in the car, kids.

tolleBut ruminating on how unfair and awful this was didn’t do a damn thing to change it. It just made me bitter.

As Eckhardt Tolle says in a quote that has made a huge difference in my life:  “Accept — then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it.”

I was “resisting what is so”: The fact that I AM a single mom to three kids. I DO have to work full-time. I DON’T get to make dinner for them every night. I DON’T live in a big, beautiful colonial that was custom-designed to suit my every whim and preference. And of course there was the smaller, everyday resistance, too: “He isn’t supposed to ignore me when I ask him to pick up his toys. Six-year-olds aren’t supposed to be this whiny. It isn’t supposed to take this long for a kid this age to do his homework. Grocery shopping shouldn’t be this hard.” (I can actually hear myself whining in my head when I type those sentences.)

Robert Jackson, the producer of the “Quiet Mind” podcast, suggests: Stop. Take a deep breath. Ask yourself, “Are you at odds with what is going on? Are you feeling out of control?” Notice what it is you are resisting. And accept what the situation is, and that you cannot control it.

At the heart of it, I think it’s really alllll about control. We want everything to go the way we’ve envisioned, or to be easy and pleasant for us, and and when we don’t get our way, we brood and let that resentment fester inside of us. We would rather hang on to that illusion of a world where things DO go our way, and our unhappiness that they didn’t, rather than admit this isn’t what we would have picked, but here we are anyway, because we don’t get to determine the outcome.

In “Sailing Home,” Norman Fischer addresses renouncing our resistance to what is so:

“Renunciation isn’t a moral imperative or a form of self-denial. It’s simply cooperation with the way things are: for moments do pass away, one after the other. Resisting this natural unfolding doesn’t change it; resistance only makes it painful. So we renounce our resistance, our noncooperation, our stubborn refusal to enter life as it is. We renounce our fantasy of a beautiful past and an exciting future we can cherish and hold on to. Life just isn’t like this. Life, time, is letting go, moment after moment. Life and time redeem themselves constantly, heal themselves constantly, only we don’t know this, and much as we long to be healed and redeemed, we refuse to recognize this truth. This is why the sirens’ songs are so attractive and so deadly. They propose a world of indulgence and wishful thinking, an unreal world that is seductive and destructive.”

Of course, acceptance doesn’t mean being passive about things we CAN change — maybe your job, your location, etc. But you can’t change if your spouse wants to stay married or not. You can’t change the climate of your state or country. You can’t change the fact that kids frequently don’t do exactly as they’re told. So it is useless to brood endlessly over the fact that you’re divorced, Michigan is cold as hell in winter, and kids don’t listen 100 percent  of the time. You can be seduced by the “siren song” and be miserable that reality doesn’t live up to it, or you can realize that you don’t control the weather/your spouse/your kids and be OK with that.

I think the concept of releasing that resentment and accepting reality goes hand-in-hand with two more ideas: non-judgment and acceptance of uncertainty. I’m hoping to write about both of those soon.

Sooooo…

This is a hard post to write, because the entire premise of this blog has been me not dating. But I saw C. on Sunday. And it was incredible.

He texted me that morning and said he just wanted to say hello and hoped I’d been doing well, that he hoped I understood why he hadn’t been able to communicate with me, and that he thought of me often.

Reader, I called him. We talked for almost two hours. I told him how much I missed him, how many times I’d wanted to reach out. He said he’d felt the same. I asked him to come over. He said he wasn’t ready. I pushed. And I pushed. Eventually he agreed. I promised him we weren’t going to make any decisions about anything.

I was in his arms almost the minute he opened the door. We had an amazing few hours together before the kids came home. He said he missed me and loved me, but he was afraid of being hurt again. He was afraid of hurting me. He was afraid of interfering with the work I was trying to do on myself.

The next day, I asked him how he felt about things. He said it felt very, very good to see me again and he’d missed me and all the ways we connected so well. He reiterated his concerns. I agreed that it hadn’t been what I had been expecting either, but that I didn’t regret any of it. Well, I did regret one thing. I told him I was very sorry for having pushed him to come over when he’d said he wasn’t ready. I had been so happy to hear from him and excited to see him, but it wasn’t OK for me to do that, and it wasn’t respectful of his boundaries, and it wouldn’t happen again. He thanked me and said he appreciated that.

He added, “We both still have things to consider and work on and yesterday shouldn’t change that, but it really was wonderful to see you yesterday.” I admit, I don’t know what that means. “I’m thinking about it but I need to ruminate a while”? “Nothing has changed and don’t get your hopes up”? Guy friends have advised me that they do not put secret hidden meanings into their text messages, though, and to stop driving myself crazy trying to decode them.

I do hate how I’m back on the roller coaster. I am trying to stay in the present moment and be comfortable with uncertainty. (This is NOT my strong suit, nor is delayed gratification. On numerous occasions in my life, I’ve been compared to Veruca Salt from “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.”) However, I know C. well enough to know that he doesn’t leap into things. The last time we got back together, it took several days for him to make the decision to try things again. And maybe that’s good, because I’m more the type who jumps in head-first, yelling, “COOOOOWWWWWAAABUUUUNGAAAAAAA!!” And as Dr. Phil says, “How’s that working out for you?”

I am trying very hard not to push. That’s tough, because it’s kind of my forte. A friend suggested I keep this “Big Bang Theory” scenario in mind.

I am also trying to figure out 1) how I would work on myself if we were together, and what that would look like (I have no freaking clue), and 2) if I would be able to have him as a presence in my life if he/we decide not to pursue a relationship (probably not at the moment).

Part of me thinks, and most of my friends advise, that I’m not ready, and that I need to walk away. But I am also hesitant to give up this amazing man again. Maybe hesitant isn’t the right word. “Terrified.” That might do it. I do know that whatever I do, I need to stay the course with learning to love myself, learning to accept uncertainty and vulnerability, and finding validation within myself and not from other people.

I’m learning to fly, but I ain’t got wings

One thing I’ve discovered since starting my dating hiatus is that nothing brings guys out of the woodwork like someone who’s not dating.

The other thing I’ve discovered is that I have a very tough time turning down male attention, as I wrote about earlier.

When I first broke up with C., my friend Ryan (who I dated briefly last year but didn’t feel much of a spark with) instructed me to call or text him every time I wanted to call or text C. That felt wrong, but he insisted he wanted me to. And then I realized something else was happening — Ryan had become a de facto provider of the validation I so desperately needed.

I cut the cord on that (it helped when he met someone), but I found that guys kept popping up. Someone I’d dated a couple times this spring who texted out of the blue. A dude I’d gone out with a couple years ago. Online “friends.”

dc9bd9bd402befdfb84ff533dd9334f8I asked my friend Scott, who’d done a similar dating hiatus years ago, what I should do. I was doing great with not actually dating, I told him, but I was struggling to resist the attention from guys and I knew that succumbing to it was undermining what I was trying to do.

He suggested that I do what he did when he was newly sober and someone offered him a drink: Run like hell.

This is an issue that hits two of my weakest areas — my need for validation and my terror of hurting/rejecting people. Scott suggested that I have probably used that attention as a crutch for a very long time. And the metaphor hit me square between the eyes — I feel exactly like I’m learning to walk again.

What does it feel like to feel content with my life and realized I am cared for by many people without a guy (or multiple guys) fawning over me? What does it feel like to feel confident and secure with the way I look without a man telling me I look hot? What does it look like to be happy to be at home, alone, with an evening to myself to do whatever I want? I don’t know yet — but I’m planning on finding out.

The other tough part is, “I don’t want to make him feeeeel bad.” I am a terminal people pleaser, and doing or saying anything that makes anyone unhappy makes me massively anxious. Although I suspect that the feeling isn’t reciprocal and most of these guys aren’t terribly worried about my feelings. I’m not telling them to fuck off, after all — I’ve explained what I’m trying to do, what I need to do, to be in a healthier and happier place. And the guys who’ve pushed that boundary aren’t doing it because they care about me; they’re doing it because they have their own agenda.