All posts by Katie D

The squishy pillow nest exercise

My last blog post generated a lot of feedback. Most people laughed (which is what I did as I wrote it), but in addition, it also rings a little bell of truth within us because we can relate on some level…either in a past experience with another person or within ourselves, or both. Right?

A friend asked today, “Do you ever post about happy things?” and I got to thinking…

…and that’s the point: I think a lot about things! Probably too much. I am the over-analyzation queen. I like to dismantle and analyze the parts of Why about myself and about everyone and everything. Im sure I have some more positive/encouraging posts on this blog (try the blog post on courage: https://thisiskatied.wordpress.com/2014/10/09/sounds-like-truth-and-feels-like-courage/.) But I mostly use this blog as a way to sort out those feelings or express things I have been thinking about for a long time (and no, the last post was not about anyone in particular, it was just a tongue-in-cheek satire about people in general, me included).

I write to put ideas out there for people to chew on…you know, food for thought. Humanity has a lot to be celebrated but we are also always a work in progress and that progress fascinates me.¬†Also, writing is just therapeutic for me. ūüôā

I have been divorced for 6 or 7 years and have had several relationships since…so, naturally, I have spent a lot of time thinking about how relationships work, and what makes up a healthy relationship. And what makes people tick.

I used to bemoan my less-than-ideal dating roller coaster history. But it’s also taught me a ton. I have found out by trial and error what *doesn’t make a healthy relationship, and what are sure fire ways to detract from closeness or intimacy. I have learned a lot about myself in the process too, and what drives my reactions and behaviors, and what I can improve.

But in conclusion, I am content and happy with my life! Of course I have off days once in awhile, but who doesn’t? I practice gratitude every day and there is a lot to be grateful for. I have two amazing kids, a very supportive partner, a comfortable place to live, a great job, and a huge network of love and support. And a comfortable bed…I love my bed…I am enjoying it right now and typing this blog post from within my pillow nest.

Speaking if which, it’s really hard to be grateful and upset at the same time. (And really hard to be upset in the middle of a squishy pillow nest). So practicing gratitude is a great way to reframe and rewire your brain for happiness. I have been focusing on this a lot recently.

What are you enjoying right now? What are you grateful for? If you’re having trouble coming up with something, start a list. What would you have on yours?

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13 Awesome Ways to Avoid Intimacy in a Relationship

      1. Stay extremely¬†busy.¬†Oh my gosh, don’t spend time with your partner. Always make sure you don’t have time to sit, be present, or¬†share. Or if you do, don’t really “be” there. Make sure your mind is so busy and full that there is no room for anything else. Focus on getting a lot of things done and done well.¬†Projects are way¬†more important than people.
        BONUS: If you can sacrifice yourself in the process, maybe you can make the other person feel guilty for complaining about your lack of presence.
      2. Judge your partner.¬†Whether it is out loud or silently to yourself, make sure you find and highlight¬†their faults. Try making a list. This will justify you¬†avoiding them and also justify avoiding intimacy.¬†It also validates your superiority. If¬†you¬†are above them, you totally don’t need to be intimate.
      3. Remember everyone else needs to change.¬†Don’t accept your partner¬†for who they are. Easily see their faults¬†and make sure to highlight them. Then make sure they feel bad for them, otherwise what’s the point?
      4. Stay self-absorbed.¬†It doesn’t matter that you’re in a relationship. Everything is still about¬†you and will always be about you. Your needs, challenges, interests, and thoughts are far more important than anyone else’s.
      5. Don’t¬†trust.¬†Everyone is untrustworthy until proven otherwise. Especially your partner.
      6. Be¬†dishonest or silent.¬†Don’t be honest, that’s lame. Speak everything but the truth.¬†That door is meant to stay closed.
      7. Do not express your needs and feelings. Similar to #6. If you don’t express your needs and feelings, it’s so much easier to blame others for not meeting or appreciating them.
        BONUS: when your partner shares their innermost feelings with you, brush them off or joke about them.
      8. Do not listen.¬†And even if you do listen, don’t really hear or think about what your partner is saying. Just wait for a break so you can keep talking about whatever it is that you want to talk about. Avoid validating their perspective at all costs.
      9. Do not respect your partner. And make sure your behavior toward your partner does not warrant respect either.
      10. Retain all the power. You are more important than your partner. You are smarter, and you have so much more important information to share, so of course you deserve to have the platform and control all the time.
        BONUS: try playing the martyr or victim. These roles give you an entirely different level of power.
      11. Argue for fun. You don’t need to resolve anything. You just need to get your point across and/or cause distress to your partner.
        BONUS: Make sure you are sure you are angry first, and inflict emotional pain.
      12. No touching.¬†Physical touch is far too intimate. Just don’t do it.
      13. SPECIAL BONUS: Share this list with your partner with the intent to judge or shame them.

 

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The thing we want most is also the thing we are most afraid of.

Chronic Emotional Button-Pushers

I’ve been reading a lot about button-pushers lately. You know the ones…the people that try to get a rise out of you, and like to get an emotional reaction. I am not talking about harmless practical jokes (like setting¬†your coworker’s stapler in jello, knowing they will get a good laugh…heh heh), I’m talking about topics and issues that they bring up because they know you will have a strong negative emotional reaction to it and they seem to enjoy watching¬†you react negatively. Some people don’t even hide the fact that they enjoy it, they will be openly gleeful and even laugh. Of course there is a wide range of severity when it comes to this pattern…some people may exhibit this behavior constantly, and with others it may only surface once in awhile.

In any case, it¬†is essentially emotional manipulation. Why do people¬†do this? Fun? Entertainment? It comes down to the fact that it’s a power game and a control issue.

Push-Button

Those that desire this form of control, either never had that chance growing up (always felt a loss of control or a powerlessness) or got addicted to that behavior at some point, and take it out on others.  These provocateurs are living in a constant state of stress and look to inflict stress on others.  When they achieve the desired reaction, they become satisfied.

[Another reason people do this is as a passive-aggressive stance because they don’t feel safe being direct with¬†the person about¬†how they feel. They are unable to speak rationally with the individual whose buttons they are pushing, and they know it, and therefore they feel a sense of powerlessness, so that is why they resort to being¬†passive-aggressive. In this blog post, I am not speaking about these cases. That is another case and another topic for another time.]

So people who are aggressively pushing your buttons and attacking you…how do you know you are in this pattern? Here are some hallmarks:

  • They don’t respond appropriately to rational statements.
  • They do not seek to validate your position: they will instead ignore, explode at, or laugh.
  • Their responses to your viewpoint will come with the intent to provoke you further.
  • The¬†conversation¬†will feel unbalanced.
  • They won’t respect your desire to disengage.
  • You will start to second-guess yourself.
  • You may¬†feel hurt.
  • You may¬†feel confused.
  • You may feel sick.

Now here’s my experience with this:

In a previous relationship, the further along we got in the relationship, the more often the individual I was dating would respond irrationally or defensively to a topic of conversation.

If I was the introducer of said topic, my intention was to communicate in order to come to an agreement or clarify a recurring issue. Or sometimes my intent was totally benign, and I merely wanted to lightheartedly share something interesting. But somehow his responses became more erratic and the topic often veered off and went to a very negative place. His responses seemed totally out of the blue and they were unexpected for me (having never experienced this type of behavior before and being a person whose first instinct is to avoid conflict), so at first I responded very carefully and patiently, asking for more clarification.

I discovered that no matter how I responded, he would find a way to try to escalate it, or lay¬†blame about something (it almost didn’t matter what). He also wouldn’t respect my request to address it later when he was calmer or when I was calmer. By the end of the conversation, usually I would be completely flabbergasted and in tears and he would be defensive and angry. And I would be totally confused as to how it got there.

In my rational mind, I knew that this wasn’t justified and that things had completely veered off-course. But it’s difficult to¬†speak rationally to someone who is in an irrational state. And the more you try to state your viewpoint, the more they twist your words around. You will not feel validated. I was left feeling powerless, unimportant, small, and confused.

The capper on this crazy pattern was this: a little¬†time would go by (usually not much!) and he would suddenly feel remorse at his behavior and profusely¬†apologize. After so much damage had already been done. This happened maybe 4 or 5 times…and I felt more broken down each time. Until I realized that obviously it was an extremely unhealthy pattern which I was not willing to tolerate and I would no longer be a part of it.

I made a decision to not allow myself to be hooked into that pattern any longer, and not allow my emotions to be manipulated in such a way. And you can too!

If this is happening to you, disconnect the wires to those buttons! Who cares if they know what your buttons are. Don’t react. Redirect the conversation to something totally unrelated. Request that you address it later. If they don’t respect your rational requests, LEAVE. Realize that it’s a game and you don’t have to play. ¬†Take your power back, gosh darn it!

And that’s what I have to say about that.

You do you; I’ll do me

“Dating:¬†The process of going to¬†social appointments, engagements,¬†or occasions which are¬†arranged beforehand¬†with another person with which one is romantically interested in.”

Dating can be just for fun with no intention of seeking a lifelong partner, or it can be for the purpose of just that.

Dating is often notoriously frustrating or difficult.

Dating as a single parent of two kids can be even more difficult.

If you had asked me 10 years ago, I never thought I would be in the position of being a single parent, back in the dating pool. I have dated off and on during the last 6 years. There are periods of time when I was content not dating at all, not interested. Other times I would be upset with the whole process and actively boycotted the whole idea. And yet other times, I would date several people in a row. There is no clear set of instructions.

Dating can feel like this. Super easy to navigate, right? ūüėČ

There are a lot of pressures surrounding dating. Pressure from friends, family, society, and from myself. Even in my mid-30s, I¬†wonder, “What would my friends think of this person? What would my parents say? What will they object to? Am I going to be put under heavy criticism and scrutiny?” And I think that’s natural to think about. With dating, not only are you often trying to match yourself with another individual first and foremost, but in a long-term partner, you are also¬†seeing how they fit with the rest of your life…with your peers, family, lifestyle.

There are conflicting messages too. For example, you’ll hear things like this:

“Choosing the person you marry is probably one the most¬†important decisions of your life.”

vs

“You just need to stop being so picky. Nobody is perfect.”

I want to commiserate with any single person who has ever heard this. They are both valid points, but the balance is so tricky.

The hardest part of dating, as I’ve struggled to make choices that were right for me, is hearing the comments, judgmental statements, and feeling negative vibes from others.

Here are some things I want the people to keep in mind:

  1. You do not have all the information: this is on purpose, as I generally try keep my personal¬†aspects of my¬†life as personal as I can, in order to decrease the flow of criticism and protect myself. People can’t critique what they don’t know.
  2. People make mistakes: People are not only GOING to make mistakes, but they are allowed to make mistakes. That’s how we learn.
  3. Sometimes what is perceived as a mistake, is not.
  4. Put yourself in my shoes (or whoever’s shoes): would you want other people judging you?
  5. Most people need love and acceptance a lot more than they need advice. ¬†‚ÄĒ Bob Goff

The important thing is…(and I’m telling this to myself as well)¬†make the choices that are right for YOU. People will criticize you no matter what you choose, so you might as well make your decisions for you and not base them off what you *think* you should be doing because of something someone else said.

Single ladies! (and men)
Single ladies! (and men)

I do all my own stunts.

Last night I had a smorgasbord of feels. (Yes, I actually had to look up how to spell that word.)

I tend to spend a long time collecting information, experiencing, dissecting and assembling, and then eventually it all bubbles to the surface as a [semi] complete thought. Although I went to bed at 9:30 (I know, I know…) last night my brain had the timely audacity to choose 10pm-12am to do its bubbling.
*furrowed brow*

Insomnia.
Insomnia.

In the tangles of blankets that were too restrictive, and pajamas that were too heavy, I found myself reviewing the past 10 years or so, spending most of my energy systematically picking apart the last 5 years of dating.

I categorized negative events I don’t want to repeat or experience again, and singled out parts that I want to assimilate into my future. Being at this age and stage (30-something and single with two chilluns) I think about this kind of thing a lot. While pondering, I also noticed that I go through cycles of “Katie the Hermit” and “Dating Flurry” with sometimes a rare moderate dating period in between.

I have found myself thinking things like,
“I don’t need to date.” (which is technically true, I don’t)
“I’ll just be single the rest of my life, that’s ok. I’m independent and I do well on my own.”
Which is not really a feasible concept if I want to find love and companionship. Which of course I do. Don’t most people want that?

So the Almosts and Mishaps have shaped me and helped solidify in my mind what I don’t want…therefore it has helped flesh out, via negative space, what I DO want.

BUT
this caused me to think about the the difference between allowing something to be created/decided by way of happenstance…and actually taking action and creating it myself.

So I ask myself again “What do you want? How are you going to get there? What goals are you going to set?”

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Yes, once in awhile I get entrenched in a sea of feels and I wade around in the receding tide for awhile…and then I come around to the fact that I have power and I can create my own life and love and good vibes.

The phrase: “Don’t like it? Change it. Or change your attitude.” always seemed so bossy and smirky to me…but in reality it’s an extremely empowering statement. You are in charge of your life! Take the reins and start steering.

The voices in your head

I am not the best blogger in the world (note the delay between this blog post and the last), for two reasons:

  1. I am an internal processor: I ponder things a lot before I formulate and express how I feel and what I think about things.
  2. I have a love/hate relationship with social media in regards to my personal life.

Here is a photo to prove that I’m alive and doing things. ūüėČ

Me and a blanket of gorgeous white
Me and a blanket of gorgeous white, a few weeks ago

With that thought out of the way, I’m gonna talk about voices.

There are so many voices in the world. Voices that tell us what to believe and who to believe, and what to think about life and what to think about ourselves. The voices come from everywhere; media, friends, the past, friends, your worries, family…you name it. And let me tell you, they are relentless.
And sometimes very loud.
And sometimes very subtle and hard to pinpoint.

In my opinion, the voices that are internal, that have had homes within our minds and hearts for a long time, are the hardest to manage or challenge. Last week I had a moment where I was caught between two different internal voices, each pulling me in a different direction. Each was an idea, a potential belief I could hold about myself. One was quite  negative, the other more positive in nature.

For some reason, in that in-between moment, I was more conscious than usual that I had a choice. It was up to me which voice I was going to listen to, and therefore, which one I was going to believe.  At that point, the choice was easy. I will gladly flush that old negative voice/idea down the toilet and adopt a better one.

Of course most of you are aware of this concept (as was I). But as I’ve said before, practicing it is a completely different thing. It was a super empowering moment, to know I can choose how I feel about myself, and therefore, how I feel about the world.

I can choose to reject the crappy no-good voices that don’t do me any good. And I can change my life by choosing to listen to the voices that affirm, reinforce, and uplift.

We all hear voices in our heads. ūüėČ
But we can choose which ones to listen to.

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View from the plane PDX>SLC

 

Sounds like truth and feels like courage.

I think about vulnerability a lot. The word floats in and out of my brain like an unresolved melody. Why do people struggle with it so much? Why do I struggle with it so much? What does it even mean? How do we define it?

First off, society proposes that being superhuman, bulletproof, and tough are what we strive for. I’ve always felt that way myself. And I have developed a certain resiliency to which I attach a certain pride. And I always sort of perceived vulnerability as a weakness, as something to put a wall around and to protect. This is not necessarily a healthy mentality.

I was just reading from the book “Daring Greatly” by Bren√© Brown…it’s a fantastic book that explores vulnerability and its vital importance to well-being. She says,

Vulnerability is not knowing victory or defeat, it’s understanding the necessity of both; it’s engaging. It’s being all in.

and quoted from Theodore Roosevelt’s famous speech in April of 1910 in France:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again…who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly…

Bren√© says vulnerability “sounds like truth and feels like courage” – and those things are not weaknesses. In her book, she explores these questions:

  • What drives our fear of being vulnerable? (I can answer that one for myself)
  • How are we protecting ourselves from vulnerability? (pretty sure I know the answer to this, too)
  • What price are we paying when we shut down and disengage?
  • How do we own and engage with vulnerability so we can start transforming the way we live, love, parent, and lead?

I ‘bolded’ that one up there because it’s one that I am focusing on for myself.

This is a current topic I am swishing around in my mind.
Hmm, that sounds like mouthwash. Well maybe it is…mouthwash for my brain. lol. I’d like to clean some of the bacteria out of there, you know, the stuff that’s not helping.

Vulnerability

I’ll probably think about this for awhile and blog more later…