I have known for a while that relationships are one of the best schools for learning about myself and how I can do things better. I have been in a seven year stretch after my husband’s death by suicide; healing, exploring, learning and growing. Reflecting back on relationships, I have been able to see several patterns that I have. As I explore these patterns, I realize some of them are learned behavior from my mother. She had a lot of her own learning to do. I am blessed to have had a couple of years with an aunt and uncle who were married forever and modeled what a successful relationship looked like. Compromise, communication, forgiveness, persistence, friendship, most of all friendship.
The relationship I am in now, with a nice man who wears pearl snap shirts, is and has been full of life lessons for me. I believe in synchronicity, nothing happens by mistake. The way I met this man was no mistake. The fact that we are in a relationship is no mistake. We both felt it hit us head on when we met. We both have steamer trunks of baggage from our time here in this evolutionary track. I have been working on my baggage for years, acquiring tools along the way. Acquiring those tools feels like it has taken a lifetime and I am often impatient with myself. Self acceptance, allowing myself to be a human work in progress is something I had to learn. Abandonment issues were a part of growing up as a result of my mother’s choices in relationships. I don’t know if she learned the lessons she needed to this time around or not. It is not my place to judge but I am trusting that as I heal my own heart and soul, it will heal ancestral wounds. My Mother’s mother died when she was four so she didn’t have a mother role model or parents interaction to learn from.
One of the first lessons I learned from this relationship is how important living a sober life is for me. I had my last beer August 23, 2020. I loved beer. During my cancer battle when I was avoiding sugar, my functional doctor told me to go have a snickers bar a half hour before treatment so the cancer cells would open up, thinking they were being fed, only to be zapped by radiation. I wanted to go have a beer instead of a candy bar but living in Hawaii, the bars don’t open in the morning. Going to the store and buying a beer wasn’t what I really wanted. It wasn’t meant to be. After I beat cancer I went back to drinking beer.
It was a habit, a lifestyle, a way of dealing with things I didn’t want to look at. Something I had been doing since I was a teenager. I had been in AA for three years back in the early 80’s. That is part of what kick started my spiritual studies into a higher level. In June of 2020 I participated in three weeks of a one month challenge to explore my relationship with alcohol. A covid related hick-up tested me and I started drinking beer again. I finally quit drinking because I wanted something more than I wanted that next beer. I had moved into a sweet little hale down near the ocean after being a house-sitter, pet sitter, care taker, care giver for 5 years, never knowing for sure where I would be living next month. I could not afford to rent this place and continue my habits, so it was an easy choice at the time. As the time added up and I found myself going on months of sobriety, I started to see the shifts in my life and how I looked at things. I appreciate the clearer thinking, which holy cow, has opened up a whole other level of healing.
The next lesson is on communication. I am learning through my own experiences, that it is something many people have problems with, it is not just my inadequacies. I am also learning how important breathing before talking is. I want to communicate differently, clearly, with love and compassion. Non-Violent Communication came my way a couple of years ago, the concept and possibility of learning through working in a group. Never did make the connection but my therapist and I talked about it, examples and how to use it. I bought the book, and opened it a couple of times but have still yet to read it. Hmmm. I’ve talked about it with friends who have read it. What is my blockage? What is my lesson?
The owner of the Pearl Snap Shirt is a kind and patient man and has listened to what I have had to say, when I have gotten to that “boiling point” where I have explode like molten lava, generally pointing out how he has not met his “promises”. Then a friend gave him “The Four Agreements” in paperback and I bought a digital copy. This was a book I used to read every summer as a refresher on the wisdom.
Be Impeccable with your Word
Don’t take anything Personal
Don’t make assumptions
Always do your best
Between the two books, the conversations with my therapist, practicing with the fella, we are making progress on communication. Breathing, calmly getting clarity when needed, discarding expectations, setting healthy boundaries, asking for what I need, following my intuition, breathing some more, allowing myself and others to be human. I had already let go of “perfect” a couple of years ago. Successes build on successes.
Communication takes both (or all) parties to be willing and open. Open has a different definition for different people, is what I am learning. I have always been an open book. I figured people could take me as I am or leave me alone, I am who I am. Part of that was loving myself. Then I went through a period where I didn’t love myself, in fact, I was quite good at bashing myself. It got old for my friends and the people around me. My communications often times were a reflection of my unhappiness. I know that we are all responsible for our own happiness and our journey to get and or stay there. I have learned people don’t want to be around unhappy people. It takes a loving energy to hold space and I have been blessed to have that love in my close friends. As such I have tried to do that, paying it forward for the people that come into my life. Sometimes people just need to talk things out. There is something about hearing ourselves say something that allows us to evaluate it, with curiosity, for truth.
Another ongoing lesson, is about boundaries. I didn’t even know about boundaries until 2016 when boundaries were set by a long time friend. We were codependent and she recognized that boundaries were needed. I didn’t understand, I took it personal. We took an almost two year break from each other. I know I avoided her and I imagine she did the same with me. That is not necessarily a healthy way to set boundaries, but it opened my eyes and heart to explore what boundaries meant. It took several years, without the friend in my life – learning on my own, for myself, what boundaries mean. It has taken a couple more years of practicing boundaries and understanding how important it is for our own self care. It is also helpful for the people we have in our lives. If we are clear on what we are willing or able to do with and for others, it makes us happier, there are less hurt feelings, love replaces all the lower vibrational emotions like fear, insecurity, distrust, lack of faith. Setting boundaries for myself showed my “little jackie” that things are OK. In a conversation with a couple of women, one woman was apologizing to the other about her “snippiness” recently in their conversation. She was just trying to state her needs and boundaries. It was in that instant I understood for myself, my own methods of communication when setting my boundaries. When I find myself in situations where I am insecure in stating my boundaries I get defensive in my tone of voice. It is not about the other person, it is my own evolving self struggling to get out of the cocoon of meekness and weakness. The more I practice saying NO, the easier it gets. The more I express what my needs are, the more they are met.
The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran is one of my favorite all time basic wisdom guides. I end with a quote “let there be spaces in your togetherness, and let the winds of the heavens dance between you.”