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What is the One Thing that Will Make all Your Relationships Last?

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“Be kind. No matter what happens, you will always be proud/glad you took the high road.” ~Steve Horsmon

Yes, even when you don’t want to be kind—even when you are blind with anger—actually especially then—because, usually, that anger is coming from some other, deeper emotion/feeling/cause.

For me, anger usually presents itself first and right up front, masquerading as a sense of injustice, so I feel that I must defend myself against the “attacker.” But I am finally learning to hold my tongue and unpack the anger before letting that first quick burst of anger flow out of me in words.

When I do this, I find that my anger nearly always comes from feeling like a failure. And upon inspection and conversation with the “attacker,” it has never been their goal to express that I am a failure.

So I have been forcing myself to get into the practice of saying kind things and doing kind things. Then the difficult part for me is to have the self-discipline to actually do that, to walk that talk—even when I don’t want to and even in difficult conversations/confrontations.

And it is especially difficult to do when I don’t want to—when I get triggered into anger and want to allow myself the “luxury” of not having to do any mental and emotional digging in myself before speaking.

It does indeed satisfy some selfish, childish, impulsive need I have here deep inside me when I simply let anger instantly burst out, unfiltered. But later, I regret it so profoundly, that I have learned that this first, instant gratification of having “spoken my mind” is so not worth that rash impulse.

It requires self-discipline. It requires me actually, physically putting my hand over my mouth sometimes. It is choosing to control my impulses—to say nothing or say only kind things. It is not easy—not for me anyway.

I came into my present relationship as a much older and hopefully kinder person, determined to not make the same mistakes as my younger self. And do I always accomplish this? Gawd no!

But I am more aware, and I recognize when I’ve failed myself.

And it really is myself I am failing—not him, not the relationship. It is me who decides my own standards and ethics, and when I make a stupid decision to go ahead and be mean or passive aggressive or speak in anger, it is me that judges myself most harshly later.

As soon as I let anger exit my mouth, I regret it. I regret in the moment, and I regret it even more later.

Being kind means not pointing out when I think someone else is wrong when it’s not important if they’re wrong—when their being wrong will not harm them or me. And when it does matter—when they are in some sort of danger because of being wrong, it means pointing it out very gently and carefully.

It means I don’t have to be right at someone else’s expense and just because I have some ego-need to be right. It means letting someone else be right. It means letting someone else feel good and not feeling like I have to ruin that in any way—even when I don’t feel good and it rubs salt in my own emotional wounds to hear about their happiness.

For me, it means remembering others and asking about their issues without them having to remind me. It means paying attention. It means forcing myself to come up out of my introverted-ness enough to really see and hear them, to offer them my empathy—and even sympathy—when they need that.

It means finding something good, handsome, pretty, sexy, sweet, beautiful competent, funny, masculine, laudable, etc. about someone (it’s really never hard to do) and then telling him or her about that.

It means choosing my words; emphasis on certain words; and tone very, very carefully when I am angry and/or stressed out.

It means taking a stand against hurting anyone—myself included, because it is going to hurt me greatly later to look at the regret at having not been kind. It means giving up blame and remembering forgiveness.

“Blame is described as a way to discharge pain and discomfort.” ~ Brene Brown

It may mean saying nothing at all. It may mean leaving. It may mean never going back, because it is certainly not kind to continue to let myself be hurt by someone and stay in an abusive, hurtful situation/relationship.

But it also may mean leaving and only coming back when I am not angry and can speak without anger.

It also may mean sometimes staying and listening to someone else’s anger without getting triggered into anger myself—which is so difficult for me! When someone is expressing anger at you, do you instantly get angry in return? I usually do, even though I believe that is no good reason to ever get angry.

“I am starting to think that kindness is the closest one can get to God.” ~Peggy Christiansen

I have been working for years on changing the deplorable (embarrassing!) habit I had of saying things in a passive aggressive manner. Like saying something seemingly innocent and kind, but saying it just the right way so that I know it will actually make that person feel guilty instead.

Gag! Yuck! Sick!

So many times in the past, I would find myself angry but too much of a coward to own it and say it directly, so I would “say” it by a few well-placed words or word emphasis instead.

Passive aggressive much?

Years ago, I enacted the self-rule that I’m not allowed to do that anymore.

It takes paying very carefully, close attention to my motives—especially when I am angry or feel threatened in some convoluted, habitual way. It is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done, this careful, self-inspection of motive each time I get triggered.

I’m trying to be gentle, too, in my digging, trying to be kind to myself. That is the most difficult, frustrating part for me.

So, what is the one thing that will make your relationship—and indeed, all your relationships—last?

Kindness.

“My religion is kindness.” ~His Holiness the Dalai Lama, XIV

The elephant journal version.

When for no Specific Reason, You Just Don’t Like Him.

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Have you ever instantly not liked someone but can’t figure out why that is?

Have you ever not trusted someone—without them having done anything to you to warrant that mistrust—and don’t know why?

I recently spent an evening with a small group of people that included a person that I neither like nor trust. I did this at the urging of a friend who disagrees with me and tries to convince me that this person is totally trustworthy.

And did this mistrusted person do anything throughout the evening to prove me correct—or even incorrect? No.

But I spent the entire evening silently berating myself for being so unreasonable, judgy and unfair. Every time they spoke or I looked over at this person, I asked myself, “Now what is it, again, about this person that is so very horrible, Grace? Why are you judging them so harshly?”

An answer never came. What did appear though, was a continued feeling of mistrust and aversion. It grew even stronger throughout the evening—to the point that I started doing my mind-escape thing of going to my happy place inside to get away from them and the situation (which also meant I wasn’t very available for socializing, which was why we were there in the first place).

And from there, I began to feel very childish and dysfunctional. I started in with more self talk like, “This won’t kill you, Grace, just buck up and do this. Be an adult!”

Indeed, I felt like an impatient, recalcitrant child in formal clothes at a formal event who sits in the corner grimacing, chaffing, itching sweating and pulling at the stiff, scratchy clothes, with nothing on their mind but escaping, as quickly as possible, this hot mess of torture.

This person appears very nice, polite, funny, well adjusted, etc. But from the first time I met them, I have never liked this person. And I have continued to question and berate myself about these feelings.

I see this person in my social sphere of acquaintances only occasionally, and I am uncomfortable with this person always. In my concentrated efforts to pin down the origins of my discomfort, I have come up with a few vague things about this person with which I am uncomfortable.

This person wants to be way too chummy, way too quickly. There seems to be a “neediness” or desperation or something similar that I find overwhelming coming from this person. They ask way too personal questions, and I find myself in a constant, tacit struggle with them to redirect the conversation to something less personal without seeming rude.

So is this just a difference in social/personal boundaries? I am a very private person. They are more open? I have explored this possibility too.

So the next day after my experience of self-interrogation in this person’s company, I was still belittling myself, still trying to figure out what was so wrong with me that I couldn’t give this person the benefit of the proverbial doubt.

I mentioned my confusion to a friend—who also happens to be a preschool teacher of over thirty years. I asked, “Have you ever not liked someone, because of the feeling you get from them, but have no real reason not to like them? I mean, I want to be a loving person, a person who is kind and patience, even with those I don’t seem to like.”

She nodded in understanding, and in a very serious voice, said, “Yes, everyone does. And I’ve always taught all my children (in her classes) to honor that feeling in themselves. “Stranger danger” doesn’t really make much sense, because most kids are hurt by people they know—close or extended family, “friends” of the family (she made quotes around the word “friends” with her fingers in the air between us), etc., so I teach them to pay attention to what they feel in here,” she pointed to the middle of her chest.

“I tell them they don’t have to figure out in their heads why they feel that way. Just trust that feeling anyway and stay away from that person and tell someone they trust about that feeling.”

As she spoke, I felt myself releasing something I’d been holding on to way too tightly. A big breath I hadn’t realized I was holding, whooshed out of me; my shoulders dropped. I felt tears of relief wash up and out at being validated.

I had spent so much time alternately defending my gut/heart feelings about this person and then swinging back to, “Why are you being so unreasonably, effing judgy, Grace!?” that I had not even considered a middle ground where I could simply trust myself without having to defend those feelings.

She went on to briefly explain that this was the same way she lives her life. She lets herself pause enough to get a feeling about everything, then she chooses the one that feels best—even down to the choice of her route to work each day.

It was then that I had my a-ha moment.

I too live that way—in every way, except apparently, when it comes to trusting how a person feels to me. I too do a mental/heart check about my route to work, my route to the grocery store, which pair of shoes to buy, what to eat for lunch, as to whether I want to go out and dance or stay in and veg and watch a movie or just meditate.

Why have I been excluding using that heart-centered approach to the feelings I get off of people? And why was I beating myself up about not getting the “right” feelings—like that is somehow my fault?

Does this mean that this person—the catalyst of this whole query—is a bad person?

Not necessarily. Maybe we just have different ideas about what are comfortable, appropriate boundaries. Maybe as an empath, I am picking up on some unrelated, energy/wounds that are deeply buried and that have nothing to do with me. Or maybe that person is wearing a social mask to hide his or her own insecurities, and I am picking up feelings of inauthenticity.

Maybe we have a past lifetime where we didn’t get along with each other. Maybe we were enemies in that lifetime. Maybe the stars aren’t aligned correctly. Maybe my chakras are all out of line, and my aura is just too cluttered, my shoe came untied, the sun was in my eyes, I lost my keys and I was really missing my momma that day…

Regardless of reason—simple, convoluted, unconscious, deliberate, personal, multi-dimensional or not—my mission, if I choose to accept it, is to simply be aware of those feelings of discomfort and mistrust, acknowledge them, honor them and stop feeling like there’s something wrong with me that I can’t like someone, stop feeling like I have to justify myself in some way, stop feeling like I’m a bad person for not liking someone who brings up revulsion in me.

I will now use these feelings as the tool that they are. Just like I use them to choose my path to work every morning, I will similarly use them to choose who I want to hang out with—and not.

Without question. Without having to figure out why.

Have you ever had this experience? What do you do with it?

The elephant journal version.

My Yearly Battle with SAD.

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It really is a battle each and every year—no matter what I do or don’t do.

You would think after so many years of this same war, I’d be more prepared and aware, but every year it seems to slip up on me, unawares.

It usually starts in late Autumn, but I only can tell that by looking back at it from a few weeks/months later—and only if I’ve somehow managed to get a little better, to climb back up and part way out of the valley. I live in U.S. Mountain Time, and every year right around the switch from Daylight Savings Time, my life begins a descent.

The problem is, though, because the decline is so gradual, I don’t realize anything is happening until I find myself lying at the bottom of that deep well—crumbled, depressed, anxious—unable to even look up, much less stand up and begin climbing.

My Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD) manifests as a weird, confusing combination of anxiety, depression, fear and defensive, angry negativity.

I spend whole days wondering where joy has wandered off to, and why I am feeling so listless and hopeless—and so unnecessary and useless, why nothing and no one seem to inspire me anymore. Mornings, as I rise (angry, frustrated, sad), I lament out loud, “Now why am I doing this?”

Where “this” means: life.

Tears burst quickly up and forth, but only briefly, because I tamp them down, knowing from experience that I shouldn’t travel too deeply into that well-known morass.

Why am I once again rising out of my bed in the early dark to start another day? Why am I forcing myself to eat, to get dressed in clothes that annoy and irritate?

Nothing seems to matter. Nothing makes sense.

I feel like I’m in a fog and like I can’t force my mind to make sense of why I am doing such useless, repetitious, soul-sucking, day-to-day crap that only serves to perpetuate my physical existence on this Earth (like that’s somehow the goal? Why is that so highly valued, anyway? Why are we here, working, eating, shitting, sleeping—lather, rinse, repeat?).

I become hypersensitive and jumpy. Everything I put on my body seems to burn and itch and frustrate. I am always cold—except when I am hot flashing and sweating like a pack mule. My skin is dry and feels raw—except when I am drenched in cold sweat.

My clothes are too hot, too tight, too loose, too short, too scratchy; they chaff, they bind, they irritate. Every seam, every tag—everything—is too rough. I tug, scratch, stretch, squirm—have to stop myself, close my eyes and force myself to breathe slowly, deeply, calmly, in fear of doing harm to my skin or to the clothes.

Every noise seems too loud and abrasive on my ears and senses. I jump at normal sounds and shrink from noises. It seems like everyone is shouting and my system can’t handle the overload.

I find myself thinking things like, “This is useless…” about almost everything, because I can’t find good, hopeful reasons for doing anything—it all seems pointless and/or stressful and like too much trouble to bother with.

Then I feel guilty, because I know my life is not a bad life. In fact, when I’m not SADing, I feel my life is fantastically wonderful, and I am happy.

But when I am SADing, I feel like I am somehow babysitting my own irritated, recalcitrant inner toddler who has reached the too-late-to-turn-back stage and is in constant almost-tantrum mode (I am a mother; I know of which I speak).

I torture my poor man with repeated bouts of sadness. I am tired. I am cranky. I am way too sensitive and too eager to find fault, blame and to argue. I catch myself stopping to breathe and calm myself way too often—it becomes debilitating, interrupts our life together.

He evidently has the proverbial patience of Job to deal with me each Fall and Winter. He is my rock and safe landing place.

And I love and trust him to the extreme, blind point that just thinking of him reminds me of why I am here and why I am alive and what I have to do next—which is usually something normal like get out of bed in the dark each morning and go open the dog door for my two weenies (Dachshunds) and one-eyed, feral cat who are usually still sleeping next to me, under the covers in the bed.

Deep in the abyss, several weeks into dark, cold, cloudy weather, I’ll have a good day for some unfathomable reason and realize: “Oh my god, I am SADing again! This is SAD! How did this happen again without me realizing it?”

And I begin to claw my way back out and up, trying with my foggy brain to remember my winter routine, the things that have helped some in winters past.

Some Things I’ve Tried that Help

I click ahead in my Google calendar and put “SAD?” on the calendar for next year on several days in the Fall and early winter, so I am (hopefully) better at identifying it next time.

I sit in direct sunlight with my bare skin. Windows in cars and houses have UV protection. In order to get direct sunlight and the UV rays needed, you will need sunlight on bare skin and the back of your eyes.

I take the screens off my windows in the winter to get more light in the house. Every morning I try and remember to turn off the heat, close my bedroom door, open the window, and sit on my bed in the sun with a bare face and arms. I keep my eyes open (I don’t look directly at the sun, of course).

Yes, it’s cold. I do this even when it’s cloudy, raining or snowing, because the sun’s up there somewhere, even if I can’t see it, and I am still getting the benefits.

I take careful amounts of vitamin D3 (remember, it’s a fat-soluble vitamin, so dose accordingly). I keep to my exercise routine even when I can’t seem to understand why I should. I meditate a lot—at least once a day (usually more)—to de-stress and calm my overactive, over-stimulated nervous system.

I drink water like a fish. I get outdoors and in the sun as much as possible—including riding my bike as much as possible—even in the cold, snowy weather. I eat healthy foods, to include getting the right amount (for me—I’ve experimented a lot) of carbs/starches that insure my brain has the ingredients to make the “feel-good” chemicals.

When I drive in my car, I blast the heater and lower a window as far as I can stand in the cold to get fresh air and as much natural light as possible. I use expensive, full-spectrum light bulbs at work on my desk and at home in several lamps/fixtures—but not too late at night so that my sleep patterns aren’t interrupted.

If you go the full-spectrum bulb route, make sure to research and check for the correct lumen number/count.

Last year it got so bad, despite my best efforts, that I resorted to a natural supplement to help me out. I am taking BriteSide by Solaray as directed. When I went to my local health food store and asked the nutritionist there for help, it was one of the remedies she suggested.

I’ve noticed a brilliant difference since beginning to take it. I stopped taking my individual Vitamin D tabs and only take the BriteSide, which contains plenty of D. I actually feel like myself again—thank God!

When I can come up out of the fog enough to remember to do these things, I feel better. The winter is more bearable. Neither my man nor I like the cold weather where we live anymore. Maybe we are just getting old. I don’t know for sure. We do know, though, that the extreme, ultimate remedy is to move to a sunnier climate.

When, through the fog, I remember our plans to move somewhere warmer and sunnier in the next few years, I am able to get up and keep going again, even while producing and carrying around my own fog

I have researched natural remedies and have my winter routine (when I can remember it through the fog). These ideas are not meant to constitute medical advice or remedies. Do your own research, go see your doctor, get on meds if necessary.

Take care of yourself, even as I try and do the same (she says, from her bed while watching snow fall outside on a cold, dark, grey, windy afternoon…sigh).

A version is also on elephant journal.

 

The Four Necessary Pieces Of Any Happy Relationship

I love James’ blog. He always has insightful, thought-provoking things to say about men, women and relationships. I recommend this post and also recommend you take a look at more of his entire blog. These ideas, insights and good sense come from a young man, and read like wisdom from your elders, they are so timeless, true and worthy of your read.

For instance:
“Chemistry is not just about physical attraction – it goes far beyond that into the realm of emotional connection. Chemistry is what makes you want to put effort in for someone. It makes you want to see them happy. It is the spark that links you together like two electrified magnets.

It is the ability to laugh together, to cry together, to feel together. And, most of all – the willingness to do so.”

Enjoy.

JamesMSama.com

I recently had a discussion with a very insightful woman about what she feels to be the four building blocks of any relationship – all of which must be in place for the relationship to work. I like to think of these as four quarters you would attempt to trade in for a dollar – without all four, you don’t get what you want.

Initial attraction.

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Basic, simple, but essential. Without some sort of physical attraction, the relationship will not get far enough to meet any of the other criteria in the first place. There is not much to explain in this point, just the necessity to be attracted enough to someone to desire pursuing something more with them.

Chemistry.

Or, the ‘zaa-zaa-zoo,’ as she calls it. Beyond just looking at someone and seeing physical attractiveness, is the deep desire for them we have as feelings increase. Anyone who has felt…

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Learning to Identify and Accept Masculine Gifts.

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I was in the feed store buying my usual large bag of dog food from the same nice man I had always bought it from.

As soon as the transaction was done, he politely asked the same question he always does at that point, “Do you want some help out with that?”

My body instantly stiffened and become taller—like a child trying to prove herself worthy. The habitual, tired, angry, ready refusal rose up in my throat to be spat at him as insincerely grateful as usual.

I used to instantly think that any offer of help from a man was him simply pointing out that he thought I was not capable of doing it myself—yikes! No wonder I could never accept help from anyone—especially from a man. It was a horrible habit I’d brought forward from a dysfunctional childhood.

I had asked the universe to show me good men and masculine gifts, and here they obviously were. Hoping to prove to the universe that I meant business, I wanted to accept his gift. So this time, instead of refusing his help, I squeezed out a difficult, “Yes, thank you,” between tight lips.

When I began researching the Divine Masculine and Feminine, I had no idea what a masculine or feminine “gift” was. All the books and websites talked about gifting men with your feminine gifts—and accepting his masculine gifts.

This idea of gifts mystified me. I found most of the information too vague for me to understand—until I read Rachel Jayne Groover’s book, Powerful and Feminine, and began taking her advice on paying attention and then to practice being a vessel of praise for the masculine.

When I began paying attention, I noticed that masculine gifts can be as obvious as an offer to help.

More masculine gifts (most of them from strangers) that I have recently accepted:

~ He taught me how to blues dance.

~ He offered me his seat.

~ He assertively, and without aggression, defended me against another man’s verbal attack.

~ He taught me all the fancy salsa moves.

~ He didn’t comment or even act like he noticed when I missed his cues and messed up dancing with him.

~ He is a good, strong dance lead.

~ He got up and closed the door in a public place because he saw I was cold.

~ He went and found me a chair to sit in and brought it back to the table.

~ He helped me lift my bike onto the bike rack on the bus.

~ He opened the door for me and let me go through first.

~ He asked me to dance.

~ He rode his bike into the grass to let me pass on the trail when it was too narrow for us both (more than one occasion by different men).

~ He asked me to lunch/coffee/dinner.

~ He showed me how to put my bike handlebar grip back on.

~ He gave me very specific, useful, heart-felt advice when I asked for it—in a lovely, non-condescending way.

~ He complimented my writing.

~ He backed up and scooted his truck over at a stoplight to make room for me and my bike beside him.

~ He offered me his hankie.

~ He told me how to repair my bike when I asked—then offered to help me.

~ He let me borrow his truck.

~ He held me as I cried on his literal shoulder and let me get snot and tears all over his nice, fancy shirt.

~ He came and picked me up when my car broke down.

~ He cooked me dinner.

~ He called me “feminine.”

~ He shoveled the snow on my walkway.

~ He showed me how to use Google Hangouts.

Could I have done most of these things myself? Yes. But that is not the point. It is a gift to someone when I accept what they offer. It is me telling them their gift is worthy, and therefore they are worthy.

It is also me telling myself that I deserve gifts/help. I now graciously accept every masculine gift I possibly can when it is offered to me.

Masculine gifts can also come in more subtle forms.

“One of the deepest feminine pleasures is when a man stands full, present and nonreactive in the midst of his woman’s emotional storms. When he stays present with her, and loves her through the layers of wildness and closure, then she feels his trustability, and she can relax.”

~ David Deida, The Way of the Superior Man

It is a gift from the masculine when a man stands firm in his decisions—when he does not change his mind just because I ask him to.

Other subtle masculine gifts:

~ His consistency—so I can feel safe with him.

~ When he has an obvious purpose in, and for, his life and is working toward that purpose.

~ When he defines and lives by his N.U.T.s.

~ Being impeccable with his word and the way he lives his life.

~ When he stands strong against the wildness of my feminine emotions, offering me that acceptance without trying to shame me.

~ When a man first honors himself by having the integrity to stand for and live by his own values.

~ Being assertive and tender—but forceful when showing his attraction (when he “takes” or “ravishes” me).

~ When he accepts my feminine gifts without trying to make me act like a man—when he just accepts the feminine for what it is.

~ When he shows he trusts me by allowing himself to be vulnerable with me.

~ When he matches my intensity with his own brand of intensity, and I can still feel safe with him.

There are reasons the Masculine and Feminine are constantly balancing, gifting and polarizing each other. Each needs the other. Like the poles on a magnet, like repels like and opposite poles attract.

The Masculine is in his head and is directed, trustworthy and grounded for her, he is the immovable cliff against which she can throw her waves of emotion; she needs that cliff, that strength. This is a masculine gift to the feminine and will assist a woman in getting into her feminine energy.

The Feminine is in her heart and womb and is love incarnate for him; she inspires him into his heart, into love, into life, simply by being fully, emotionally feminine. She is the well of love, into which he fears he will fall and never return. Yet he must master this fear and be strong anyway—for himself first. It is the only way to insure trust. This is how the feminine gifts the masculine—by calling him up into masculine polarization.

So I wish to extend my gratitude to you, the Masculine, for your patience, acceptance, assistance and strength—as I continue to learn to identify your gifts in all their forms, and as I learn to accept and appreciate you and those gifts. Your Masculine energy is an amazing, life-giving, loving, freeing gift.

Originally published at elephant journal as What is a Masculine Gift?

Grace is a Certified Hypnotherapist and Registered Psychotherapist in Ft. Collins, CO, USA. She gracethanx2013.3sees clients and facilitates Divine Feminine Hypnotherapy workshops for women. She’s a flaming, Earth-loving, tree-hugging, save-the-bees, believes-in-faeries, bike-riding, card-carrying, spiritual but not religious, hippie cowgirl liberal poet—yep, they do exist. She writes for The Scarlet Orchid and elephant journal. You can find her blog here and her creations here. You can also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

It Takes One Person to Die.

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Wouldn’t it be more about the dying person and not the living at that point?

“As I lay dying, the woman with the dog’s eyes would not close my eyes as I descended into Hades.”
~ Homer, The Odyssey.

My female Dachshund, Miss Weenie, turned 12 years old in January of this year, so she’s an old lady weenie dog. I can call her that only because I am an old lady now too. Dachshunds don’t live as long as some dogs, so I’ve really begun to worry about her in the last year or two. The vet is not really able to help her out much.

She is just getting old.

She’s a bit wheezy and overweight (even though she doesn’t eat much), and she doesn’t get around as easily as she used to. I built ramps for the bed and the deck a couple of years ago to help ease her life some.

She was gifted to me as a puppy on Valentine’s Day by my, then, husband. She remains one of the very best gifts I have every received. She was my first dog as an adult. We had dogs on the farm when I was a kid, but they were big dogs that stayed outside, although I loved them completely.

She has always slept on the bed with me (she with her weenie dog “brother,” Stormy). They both burrow under the covers every night—even in summer. Lately, she’s been having accidents—from both ends—sometimes on the bed.

I’ve always had two good mattress pads expressly because I had a daughter, cats and dogs and know that a middle-of-the-night bed clothing change is sometimes necessary with so many bodies. Lately, it’s been a challenge to keep them clean and ready.

I used to be a CNA working in home care. Every time she soils the bed, I think of the bed-bound folks I used to take care of. Just like them, she requires a lot of cleaning up after at her age.

I keep telling her to just do whatever she needs to do, that I love her no matter what. When she is ready to go, I don’t want her hanging around, in pain, because my fear of losing her is holding her here in physicality.

I will miss her more than I can possibly understand right now, but it would be much worse to have her not go when she needs to.

Today, as I sat on my bed with my laptop writing, I noticed she was coughing and trying to clear her throat. I looked over at her to see if she was okay (and to quickly pick her up and whisk her off the bed if need be), and I experienced such a profound feeling of helplessness looking at her old, knobby and weary body and cloudy eyes.

I asked her if she was okay, and we made eye contact. As I watched my sweet, sassy weenie dog coughing, I suddenly though of my daughter—my only child. My daughter is grown now, doing her own thing, living her life—and this is as it should be.

The thought came to me, that this is how my daughter is going to feel one day about me.

She is going to look at me, making messes on the bed every day, in my old age with my cloudy eyes as I’m circling the drain, and know there is nothing to be done for me except to release me. She will feel helpless too.

And I began to cry, because I did not want to be the cause of my girlie ever feeling helpless like that.

I remember when my mother’s mom, Big Mama (yes, I was raised in the south), was dying. I was living in Berlin, Germany at the time and was not there when she passed.

My mother later spoke of spending those last days with her in the hospital and how she would periodically ask, “Momma, do you know who I am?” Because she couldn’t tell if she was lucid or not just by looking at her.

She said Big Mama responded each time with an impatient, disgusted look and with her characteristic spunk, “Of course I know who you are, Sissy,” using my mother’s nickname from childhood—given to her by my aunt Linda who was born after my mother.

“Because I just had to know,” my mother explained with such a desperate look on her face. I remember wondering about her desperation. What would it matter, exactly, even if she didn’t remember?

Wouldn’t it be more about the dying person and not the living at that point?

“It takes two people to make you, and one people to die. That’s how the world is going to end.”
~ William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying.

Would it somehow diminish me if my mother, on her deathbed, could not remember who I am?

If she were fading in and out, test-driving the spirit world to be ready when she finally decided to call it complete, would I expect, need, her to remember me?

I’m not sure I would expect her to be concerned with me at all, as I should think she’d be awfully busy orchestrating her own exit.

Would it make me feel desperate? I’d like to believe I’d feel okay if my mother didn’t remember who I was on her deathbed. I wonder, though.

And what about my own dear Chickabee, my daughter? Will she be offended or upset or sad if and when I am casting off my humanness, my bodily control, and I’m making messes too, just like Miss Weenie, in the midst of rehearsing for my return to spirit, that I cannot remember her sweet, lovely face?

Because that thought brings tears again and a sort of deep, wild pain starts up in my chest. I cannot stand to think, for even one second, of somehow forgetting my own girl-child.

Maybe that is what’s so desperate about it. Maybe my mother was thinking not about being forgotten, but about the possibility of forgetting.

Originally published at elephant journal as As I Lay Aging

Grace is a Certified Hypnotherapist and Registered Psychotherapist in Ft. Collins, CO, USA. She gracethanx2013.3sees clients and facilitates Divine Feminine Hypnotherapy workshops for women. She’s a flaming, Earth-loving, tree-hugging, save-the-bees, believes-in-faeries, bike-riding, card-carrying, spiritual but not religious, hippie cowgirl liberal poet—yep, they do exist. She writes for The Scarlet Orchid and elephant journal. You can find her blog here and her creations here. You can also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

A Married Man’s Secret Tears and a Woman’s Response

Also published at elephant journal.

A Married Man’s Secret Tears
by Steve Horsmon

Do you know why romance and sensuality novels for women are so popular? Short answer:  The authors know exactly how to give women that feeling.

1stphone4That feeling has many facets and she loves them all. She tingles with the flirtatiousness of the conversation. She blushes at the boldness and sensual innuendo. She craves the unapologetic desire. She wants to be “taken” by her man. The sexual polarity and tension have her on pins and needles of pleasure. She is aching for the climactic release from this torture.And he doesn’t quite get it. He can read the same passage and have a lukewarm response.

Sure, it’s a little titillating. But it’s not the kind of “romance” language he has told me he is longing for.

He is a long-time, married man who is just dying to star in a different scene.

Just as he struggles to understand her emotional reaction to those scenes written for her, she can also be clueless about his deepest desires. And it’s not a sex scene.

To him, it seems she just doesn’t understand (or doesn’t care?) why reading this scene will almost always bring a tear to his eye and a lump in his throat.

More than anything, he wants that feeling, and only she has the power to supply that.

The Romance Story That Can Make Men Cry

They were finally alone. He had been looking forward to doing this for months and she finally agreed to a getaway for just the two of them. The kids were with grandma and they will finally have a chance to reconnect as a man and woman – not as dad and mom.

Their truck was cruising west on the hot desert highway into a beautiful sunset as one of their favorite songs from high school came on the radio. They both started humming the song and broke into the chorus at the exact same time. They both laughed and smiled without talking as the song ended. After another few miles, she gently reached across the top of the bench seat and her hand her found the back of his head. Hcrying maner fingers rolled and massaged through his hair as she delivered the most loving half-scratch, half-massage treatment he hadn’t felt in a long time.

He caught her looking at him out of the side of his eye and said, “What’s that look for?”

She kept eye contact and grinned as she said, “This was such a good plan. I’m so happy you’re my man. Thank you making me go on this trip. We both need this, don’t we?”

As they pulled into town that night, he realized he had not even noticed the last 100 miles. While his truck found its own way, he had been traveling on Cloud Nine.

Many women reading this will think I’m full of crap. The men know I’m not.

Remember, the leading man in this story has been married for 14 years, has three kids aged 13, 11, and 9, and he lives in a rat race of work, relatives, friends, home maintenance, and weekend soccer tournaments.

Sure, his sex life could be better. He wishes it was better. He has even looked at some real porn.

But that’s not what he longs for in his heart. It isn’t the loss of sexual intimacy that causes the tear and the lump to form.

It’s the loss of his emotional and sensual connection with his only romantic partner in life. He craves her presence, respect, and trust. She is the only woman who has the power to lift him up and make him want to conquer the world for her.

Yet he feels that she no longer wants to be that woman for him. She gives herself and her energy to just about anyone but him. And it makes him sad. It makes him fearful of his future. The sadness and fear show up in his life as anger.

The Truth Behind His Anger

Anger of this type is a secondary emotion. It is a reaction to the thoughts of what he believes he has lost and of the fear of where he thinks he will wind up.

The dream of “happily ever after” for most men includes the idea of a long-term, committed, romantic, and sexual relationship with a woman who shares his values and desire to maintain a healthy, trusting, respectful, and intimate relationship. The dream is full of good feelings, supportive words, and loving actions.

For many men, it feels like this dream is dying right in
front of him and there is no way to stop it.

Can he be more supportive? Can he be more caring and sensitive? Can he take more responsibility for planning and getting things done? Yep.

He’s been working hard at being better. He wants to be a man that he can be proud of. He wants a woman who is outwardly proud of him and openly appreciates him.

Most days all he needs to keep working is a good head scratch and a loving vote of confidence.

What is she thinking and what should he do?

A Woman Responds
by Grace

Why can’t we touch you in affection right now? Why does it take so long for us to open up to you again, to have sex again?

It all boils down to trust and safety. These are major needs for women.

Why We Don’t Trust You (Yet)

Reason One:  Safety

Please keep in mind that from birth, girls are taught not to trust men. We are all taught, at a very young age, about how to dress and not dress, how to act and not act, where to walk at night, when it is okay to walk alone and when not, don’t “lure” men. Don’t trust men.

To make my point: I knew young male years ago who was a cross-dresser, taking hormones and considering sex-change surgery. When dressed as a female, he very much looked like a very attractive female. One night while walking home alone dressed as a woman, he was sexually harassed from across the street by a group of men. They followed him for more than a block, threatening to rape him. Thankfully they finally gave up and left.

This had certainly never happened to him as a male. He told me it was the most frightened he had ever been in his young life. He had never had to think about whether he was walking alone or not, never thought about having to plan his clothes and his walking route differently because he was a woman.

This is something, unfortunately, that all women have to think about on so many levels—safety. This is in the “DNA” of every female.

I want to be very clear. I am not saying that every man is inherently violent or unsafe. I am also not saying that it’s okay for a woman to see herself as a victim of society. I am saying that in our world, out of necessity, women are taught about their personal safety. It is the world we live in.

To women, touch not accompanied by emotional safety is scary.

Reason Two:  We Need you to be Strong in your Masculine Energy

We need you to be consistent. We need you to be your own man, to stick to your N.U.T.s. We need you to be impeccable with your word. If you tell us you are going to do something, we need you to do that. If you can’t follow through, we need you to tell us as soon as you know that—even about things that seem small to you. Or not only will we lose respect for you, we will begin to feel unsafe with you. kissing couple

And without that safety, we are closed to you—and often even to ourselves. We are waiting for you to offer us strong, directed, safe, Masculine energy. We need to know that you are in it for the long haul, that when we open up and let you see this Pandora’s Box of emotions, you are going to stand strong and not retreat.

David Deida puts it this way: “…if you don’t trust your man because he is undirected, scattered ambiguous or otherwise weak in his masculine energy, this will undercut your relationship, reducing your passion, your sexual attraction and your trust of each other.”

Reason Three:  History

It is not that we don’t want to touch you. We know it’s important. We’re afraid to touch you in affection, because we have seen in the past that you take that as a green light to sex. We don’t feel safe enough yet to have sex. We do not want to send you mixed messages.

When you keep touching us before we trust you enough for that and if you continue interpreting our simple affectionate touches as a sexual green light, you erode the trust even further. In fact, you risk destroying any new trust that might have recently been established.

Please take sex off the table.

Don’t get me wrong, we women love attention, touch and sex! That simple hand on the small of our back as we walk through a door tells us wonderful volumes about your love and respect for us, your desire for us. We women want and crave that too and will always want more of it—unless we are not feeling emotionally safe, unless we feel, even subconsciously, that we cannot trust you for some reason.

And are you only putting effort into the relationship when you think we’re leaving you? Some women don’t want to open up and “let down their guard,” because they know that if they do, you will stop being affectionate, or stop putting effort into connecting with us as soon as you think we have decided to stay.

One woman tells me, “I’m afraid to give in, because every time I do, he becomes an emotional child again and stops doing all the lovely things he was doing to woo me. He starts ignoring me again and taking me and the relationship for granted.”

The Proverbial Bottom Line

Most women are afraid to open their hearts again to their man, because the only thing worse than getting our hearts broken by someone new, is getting it broken by the same man over and over again. It is too painful. (Read: We love you.)

We’re thinking things like: What if he really can’t (or won’t) stand in his Masculine energy for us? What if he can’t be impeccable with his life and his word? What if we open this huge dam holding back all these scary emotions, and he can’t handle all this emotion, all this anger, this fear, the doubt?open to DF

To try and open up before we feel safe enough and trust you enough to do that, feels like a self-betrayal. It feels like we are not taking care of ourselves, like we are compromising ourselves. Like we are just giving in to please you. We know that is not how you really want to connect with us. It is not how we want to connect with you.

The Solution

Please be patient with us and don’t take it personally. We are working on our stuff, our blocks to opening to you. If we compromise our own safety by having sex with you before we are ready, you would lose respect for us on a very deep level. We would lose respect for ourselves—and for you.

We know you’re sad, fearful and angry. So are we. We know it took two to get us to this scary place. It is going to take two to get back to trust, safety and love.

Steve Horsmon is a Certified Professional Life and Relationship Coach and foundesteve horsmon photor of Good Guys 2 Great Men. With a long corporate career in leadership and organizational training and development, Steve is a lifelong student and “passionate pursuer” of the communication and personal development skills required for healthy and satisfying relationships. You can connect with him via Facebook too.

Grace is a Certified Hypnotherapist and Registered Psychotherapist in Ft. Collins, CO, USA. She gracethanx2013.3sees clients and facilitates Divine Feminine Hypnotherapy workshops for women. She’s a flaming, Earth-loving, tree-hugging, save-the-Planet, believes-in-faeries, bike-riding, card-carrying, spiritual but not religious, hippie cowgirl liberal poet therapist—yep, they do exist. You can find her creations here. You can also connect with her on Twitter.