Radical Acceptance

I have been reading a book called Radical Acceptance-Embracing Your Life With The Heart of a Buddha by Tara Branch, Ph.D. It has amazed me.

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One of my issues over these last four years of heartbreak and betrayal has been resisting the experience I have had. I have wanted the situation to be something other than what it has been and have denied what was in front of me in order to give the benefit of the doubt or see B in the way he used to be but refused to view him for who he has become. I thought I was doing myself a favor trying to save my family the trauma of divorce when all I really did was just delay it.

And herein lies the problem. Resistance to what IS causes trouble for your body, heart and soul. It creates misery, health problems, and unnecessary suffering. It has made me physically ill. The last four years have probably taken ten years off my life and one reason centers around resisting what was in front of me instead of accepting what was. Given enough time I believed… I could change it…I could minimize it… and I could make B love me again…but of course, I couldn’t.

In her book, Branch advocates using guided meditation techniques and in this case something she calls exploring the POWER OF YES. During this exercise the author suggestions sitting in a quiet place, breathing deeply and closing your eyes. Then she asks you to bring to mind something in your life or a situation that produces strong reactions like sadness, anger or fear. She then asks you to access what it is about the situation that provokes the strongest feelings and be mindful of how that feeling feels in throughout your body…your chest or your stomach of any other place that you may feel tighten or get hard.

Then, and I quote from her book:

“In order to see firsthand what happens when you resist experience, begin experimenting with saying NO. As you connect with the pain you feel in the situation you have chosen, mentally direct a stream of no at the feelings….as you say no, notice what this resistance feels like in your body.” p87

So I followed her instructions  and immediately began to feel so stressed that I began to feel ill. My stomach clenched so hard that I felt nauseous. My head started pounding and my chest felt tight making the air flow to my lungs decrease. It was awful now that I was really paying attention to the reactions my feelings were provoking. How I had lived for all these years saying NO to my grief, NO to my anger and NO to my sadness? More importantly did I want to feel this NO for four more years, four more months, or even four more days? Obviously, the answer was NO.  Now that I was aware of and could really feel the impact that this denial or resistance to my emotions was having on my physical body I knew I could no longer live this way.

This now lead me to the second part of the authors meditation. After directing NO at your emotions she asks you to once again think about that painful situation and to remember the words, beliefs, and feelings that are associated with it. But this time stream the word YES. Say YES to the words, the thoughts and the beliefs that come forward.

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Upon doing this part of the mediation I immediately felt a shift… a lightness and lifting of the unpleasantness that I was feeling. My chest loosened, my nauseau disappeared and my mind became quiet… no longer racked in pain. And with this YES to the experience came an acceptance. It was not an acceptance that what B did to me was okay. It was an acceptance of this is what has happened. You can’t change it nor can you fight it and more importantly I didn’t need to rally against it anymore. As I allowed these non-judgmental YESES to come forth, I felt a release of some of the burdens, anger, anxiety and fears that I had been living with begin diminish as a gentle form of acceptance began to soothe those less than pleasant emotions. I found I could just BE and did not have to react both physically and mentally to all the emotions that I was feeling about the affair or my impending divorce. Finally, I felt a sense of peace.

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So this is how I start my day. Saying YES. Accepting what is. Finding understanding where I could not before and I feel good. My chronic pain has decreased and I find more joy. Sure I am still struggling but the struggle doesn’t defeat me. It has just become a small part of my life instead of the epic saga it once was. And for that I am thankful.

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…AND THAT’S OKAY…WORDS THAT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE!

If you are like me, being non-judgmental towards yourself has probably been next to impossible for most of your life. If you are like me, I suspect you were often unable to rid yourself of those pesky “transgressions” that go unnoticed by others but somehow managed to become a spotlight on your “perceived” flaws…all 1,137 of them!

In the past, it didn’t seem to matter how full my day was, somehow I would find that the one thing I didn’t accomplish and it would rise to the top of my “why I am such a loser” list.. and once discovered…I would hang it out on the line for the world to see and judge. Unfortunately, for many of us, we fail to be kind and cut ourselves just a little slack.

So that’s why, when I saw this idea online, I swooned. Finally, a way out of my self-imposed “SHOULD’S” and onto a more carefree way of thinking.

It is my hope that you benefit from this wonderful phrase as much as I have. It might even be my next tattoo.

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Letting Yourself Alone Or Self-Acceptance

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I sometimes wonder why it takes so long for most of us to get to the place where we just let ourselves alone in peace. Finally, we get to the place were we no longer pick ourselves apart, engage in negative self-talk, worry so much about what others think, or put so much emphasis on “what we should be” but instead accept ourselves for just what/who we really are.

I don’t know if it takes age to know you are tired of feeling crappy about yourself or if it is finally coming to an understanding that you are done with letting others treat you in ways that you don’t deserve. I am unsure if it is a greater self awareness or just the desire to experience positive change that finally allows us to say ENOUGH! I WANT MORE! I DESERVE MORE! But I do know that as I get closer to 60 that I have come to realize exactly that…that accepting myself is one of the most important things that I can do before I punch out on life’s time clock for the final time.

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Acceptance. It’s easy to say we should accept ourselves…yet it’s hard to put that belief into practice. But I am finally learning that self acceptance involves being realistic about my good qualities and playing them up. It means giving those best parts of me the respect that they deserve. By honoring them and giving these positive attributes the opportunity to expand and grow, it is making me a better friend to myself and a better person in general.

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Acceptance also means that I reexamine my “flaws” by asking myself how they have helped me in the past. Then I look for ways to challenge my old notions and accept those parts of myself that I am less than comfortable with by giving them the opportunity to change and not by regulating them to a distant corner of my life. I let these “fixers” out so that others can see them and help me find the good in them too. Just like I accept my friends good and bad qualities it was wonderful when I began to grant that same grace to myself. Sometimes I find it helps to ask myself “Would I say to a friend what I am saying to myself? ” If the answer is no, I try to gently remind myself that negativity directed inward is not helpful, and then I find something positive to focus on instead. This is exactly how a good friend would act… they would talk you up not down. I deserve nothing less.

Another thing that has come to the forefront for me is that the concept that “Trying” to accept myself will not work. That is like “trying” to diet…I will fail miserably. It is only when I practice “seeing” myself with kindness and compassion that self acceptance can occur. And then, finally, one day I suddenly realized that my “bad” parts were okay and I finally embraced them.

Rituals can help promote self acceptance. Every morning I have taken to looking in the mirror and saying out loud, “You are wonderful just the way you are.” Somehow putting those words out in the universe makes me accountable to them and encourages me to find small ways throughout the day that make that statement true.

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I wish self acceptance came easier. I wish it came earlier. I envy those for whom self acceptance is just a natural part of their being. Yet, I am glad that this feeling of acceptance is working itself into my life now. I enjoy the freedom it brings. Freedom from pain. Freedom from so many worries. Freedom to be myself. But instead of concentrating on the “I should haves” I am now just being thankful for the “better late than nevers” no matter when they are discovered and put into practice in my life.

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THOUGHTS ON BETRAYAL

I tried to write a piece on betrayal but I was afraid I was going to short circuit my computer due to all the tears. So I decided to do the next best thing…share some of my new found quotes on the subject. And a few prize worthy ones on different subjects.

 

P.S. To all you who follow this blog, today I went to the doc and had my blood drawn for an AIDS test….see sometimes I do listen!

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Betrayal II-Liar, Liar Your Dicks On Fire

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So the saga of my thirty+ year marriage continues.

After being assured by my husband that he loves me and will do anything for his family I told him I needed to have completed access to his phone which he agreed to. I asked many questions including wether he had seen her or not. He assured me that he had not and that she would not have sex with him if he was with his wife…how noble of her!

Later my oldest daughter Nicole called me. She said, ” I am sending you a picture that you need to see. It is dad with her in Singapore. She put the picture up after you emailed her.” (In that email I told her she was a fool and told her that she was not the only one he was doing this with. Did she really think that she was the only one?)

B and I were taking a walk with me asking questions. I opened the photo and saw him with the Chickie. He spent four days in Singapore fucking her last January. I asked him again, “Did you see her in Singapore?”

“No”

“Really, so what is this?” I asked showing him the picture.

“I don’t know who that is”

“It is you with her in Singapore, you dick. Recognize it now?”

He went white.

“I didn’t tell you because I didn’t want to lose you or my family.”

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Soon another text from my daughter. Worse still…seems my husband’s sister Jo is Friends with Chickkie on Facebook. I saved her daughter’s life and that is the thanks that I get. WOW! To me, for whatever reason, that is the biggest betrayal of them all. You love her so much you are already having your sister welcome her to the family!

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More texts from my daughter. The woman has four Facebook pages all with different names. My daughter then sends her a message that says “If you keep in touch with my Dad I will send your naked picture all over the internet including on your tour company site.” (Honey, I don’t think you should do that!)

The very unfortunate thing about all this is our children found out. I was packing to leave and told my son “Dad has hurt me deeply and I need a few days to clear my head. This has nothing to do with your you, your brother or sister. Sometimes adults disappoint each other and just like you need time away from your brother I need a little time away from your father, not you.”

He turned away from me angry and wouldn’t let me touch him.

“Honey, this is not my fault. This is due to a hurt that your Dad has done.”

B jumped in. “It is all my fault. Don’t blame your mother. I did something that hurt her very much and she didn’t deserve it. I am hoping she can forgive me (yeah thanks for putting that part in…making it my fault if I don’t forgive him…that is slick!)

Remember the telephone at the beginning of all of this…this is where it gets ugly.

Before I left I went and asked to see B’s phone. He said no.

“You promised,” I replied.

He handed it over nervously. I went to messenger and saw Chickie’s sister’s Face Time at the very top so I pressed the button. He went ballistic and tried to grab the phone. I tried to keep it away from  him. He grabbed me by the arm that just got out of the sling. One thing led to another and because he was hurting me…I bit him. Over thirty years of marriage and we have never had a physical altercation in our entire lives…until now. At this point our kids walked in the front door and her us yelling about HER (they have never heard us yelling like that at each other EVER). I got the phone and went into the bathroom. My hands were shaking so hard, well, that darn IPhone jumped out of my hand and into the toilet. Now neither of us could talk to her.

“I guess if she doesn’t matter to you like you have said, you wouldn’t have cared if I called her but obviously she means more to you than I do. Tell you what your fears have all come true. Everyone knows and you have imploded our family. Now go to her. You are free.”

My son went outside and lost it and started hyperventilating and saying he couldn’t feel his legs and it went down from there into a full collapse. I spent time trying to calm him…it was the worst thing I have ever felt in my heart, ever.  Gracie wouldn’t come out from under her covers. We have a totally traumatized family.

I am sleeping at a friends house. My life is a shambles. My kids are traumatized. My husband is without a job.

Life is good…and then it is not.

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What Is Right With Me

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So often in life we concentrate on what is wrong with us – the things we cannot do, our shortcomings and our foibles. We examine our “issues” so often that we can recite them in our sleep and as the list grows sometimes it feels like there is so much “wrong” that we don’t know what we can possibly do to change what we have told ourselves is “fact.” So what if today, we changed things up a bit and decided to concentrate on all that is “right” with us. How would that influence our beliefs about ourselves and make a “so-so” day into one that shines and puts little skip in our steps.

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Here is my list for today in no particular order. I would love to see yours in the comments section.

  1. I am a good researcher. I find things others can’t.
  2. I am a good friend. I can keep a secret better than anyone.
  3. I am interested in others lives and enjoy being attentive to their experiences.
  4. I am interesting. I have a breadth of knowledge about many things and I try to keep up with current events.
  5. I am a fierce Momma Bear and advocate for my children and march on in my efforts when others would have given up.
  6. I fight for the things that I love.
  7. Family is important to me and I try to make sure that those I love know that they are valued and loved by me.
  8. I love to travel, meet people, and learn from my experiences.
  9. If a puzzle needs to be solved I am your gal.
  10. I am not afraid to walk up to a person and start a conversation.
  11. I am fun and do the unexpected like take photos of my friends who could not attend our group event, blow their pictures up, staple them to sticks, and carry them through the city with me photographing them at places like the CHEERS BAR in Boston.
  12. I am smart.
  13. I recognize and honor my intuitiveness.
  14. I work hard when something needs to be done.
  15. For the most part I am content with what I have and have no need to “keep up with the Joneses.”
  16. I know how much that I really don’t know.
  17. I am compassionate with loved ones and strangers.
  18. I am a good writer.
  19. I try to stay in touch with others and send cards and letters to others so that they know that they are on my mind.
  20. I work hard at preserving my family history so that my family can learn from our past.
  21. I am able to self-hypnotize so that I can quickly relax and get to a peaceful state of mind.
  22. When I do get down in spirit I work hard to lighten the load so I can return to a place of happiness.
  23. I do small things for myself (like a warm candle-lit bath) on a regular basis.
  24. I read on a regular basis.
  25. I exercise often.
  26. I am a seeker
  27. I sing well.
  28. Integrity is important to me. I try hard to be fair and honest.

Hopefully after making this list you too will see that there is so much good in and around you that when things become challenging you can whip out your list and give yourself a boost to face the coming day. We all have our gifts which need to be acknowledged and celebrated far more often than we do. In remembering what is good about ourselves we can offer it to others or wrap those things around our own selves like a blanket on a cold rainy day. For knowing ourselves gives us the ability to live freely so that what we do aligns with who we are. Amen!

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On The Road Again

The word SO is the beginning word of almost every sentence by people uttered ’round these parts.

“Soooo… you go down to end of the road and make a right”

“Soooo… do you want pickles on your burger?”

Soooo…. where am I?

Well, I am on the road writing this from the spectacular country of Canada. Unlike California, it is green, fresh smelling, and water is everywhere. Barns outnumber people, roadkill is abundant, and sole proprietorships like JOE’S GAS STATION abound. I love it here.

This is an interesting trip for me. I am traveling with my 81 yo father who is starting to have memory problems. Makes for some interesting repeated conversations that start with “I didn’t know that!.” (He did) and end with “What did you say???? ” (Said at the top of his voice because his hearing is also going.) Getting old isn’t for sissies (or for their daughters.)

This expedition is special. My father is beginning to mellow a little in his old age. It makes for a closer relationship with him being a much better listener than when I was growing up. He chooses his words more carefully these days too. These are nice changes that I appreciate at my age. I also realize that he may not be around much longer so I am trying to make this a happy experience for the two of us and cram my head with memories that will sustain me when he is gone.

Two months ago, I decided I wanted to take this trip to Canada when I became genealogically frustrated. For years I have searched for information about where GG Grandfather was born, who his parents were, etc. I finally got tired of barking up the wrong trees and decided to come to the source to see if I could glean any new information. I am not hopeful as record keeping was done as an afterthought in these parts until the later decades of the 1800’s.  But I also know that information can often be found where you least expect it so I am going with that mindset for the next few days believing if I wish it hard enough that it will come true. Tomorrow we head further north to the place where my GG Grandmother was born in 1835.  It is hard to believe that I will be standing in the same miniscule town where she lived in a log cabin all those years ago. It must have been hard eking out a living as a farmer or miner in these parts of the country. I often wonder if people today could do the back-breaking work that are relations did before we all went soft.

This afternoon Dad and I spent our time together doing research at the local  public library but came up short. We searched through books, family histories and microfiche and found nothing. But it was enjoyable because I can say with good authority that there is nothing like the smell of old books. There is something about that odor that is comforting and takes you back to places that smell like cobwebbed attics or ancient barns. Old, yet, familiar smells. Like the scent of your grandmothers old wool coat or your grandfathers well-worn boots which smelled of pipe tobacco and stood up by themselves over on the back porch. The funny thing is, while I found nothing about my family, I did find something about B’s purely by chance. The information was contained within a book about the Donnelly family. I first found out about this saga several years ago when I was researching B’s family. To my surprise and horror I learned that one of B’s relatives had probably been involved in a mob killing of several members of the Donnelly family. It was interesting to read about it today from a fresh perspective and learn more about the movie that was made about this small town tragedy.

Tomorrow we will head out early as Dad likes to get a jump on the day. I think he believes that he has a limited amount of hours left on this earth and he doesn’t want to spend them laying in bed. No, by golly,  he wants adventure.  He wants to see new places before he passes. And he wants to find THE BEST chicken sandwich that has ever graced a hungry customers plate. This new attitude of his inspires me to want the same for myself.

So here I am on the road again. Just me, my old man and some new memories that the two of us are collecting along the way. Today, I am grateful to have this opportunity to learn about myself, my father, and my past. It truly doesn’t get much better than this!

BTW, you know you are in Canada when…

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Maybe…

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A month ago B told me that he was going to China for 10 days. I wasn’t invited and I was hurt as going to China has become somewhat of an annual pilgrimage for us. Besides, although it is for “business”, in truth, he doesn’t really need to go. His partner can take care of it and B doesn’t speak Mandarin anyway. It is really an excuse to just get away from the daily grind of home, office, family and me I’m afraid.

Then about 10 days ago I asked if B was going anywhere else besides the town he usually goes to because it seemed to me that 10 days in that one spot was unusual. He replied “Oh, I am also going to Taiwan” Really? When did you think you would inform me of this news? Oh, and not with your partner…by yourself. How interesting! Oh its part of your business plan now to tour facilities? So are you really going to do something different because of this knowledge you will acquire? Well no. I didn’t think so.

When I mentioned to B that I was hurt about not getting an invitation to accompany him his reply was that I was taking Gracie to Florida for a diving competition. Really? That’s the best you can come up with? I get to go somewhere with bitchy back-biting diving moms and worry about schedules, practices and hauling around a 12-year-old who has recently decided to get strung out on teenage girl hormones while you have 10 days basically to yourself. Hmmmm. Someone is getting the better end of the deal and it isn’t me.

So I asked B if this was the start of us taking vacations apart from one another. He looked surprised and said no. But I feel like this separateness is saying something in and of itself about us, about him, and about our relationship. It worries me. And so, after much thought on my part,  I told B that I think it is the start of something new for us because I will also be going on vacation alone just like he is. That I need time alone and adventure too.

Now part of me feels guilty about this. The woman who doesn’t value herself enough thinks that perhaps I am not deserving of this time alone. Most mothers don’t get it so why do I need it? The devoted wife thinks…come on…there is a difference between going somewhere on “business ” which B is doing and going just to go which is also what B is doing. There is the financially responsible person in me who says you need to save your money…you have been plenty of places so don’t be a bitch. The weary mother of boys with autism and a marriage that is still mending says…go…recharge your battery. Use this as a time of self discovery outside of the usual daily carpooling routine.

And so I am torn. Trying to decide if I am just seeking a kind of perverse tit-for-tat “revenge” for the disappointment I feel at being excluded, if I am trying to make a statement, or if I am looking out for myself in the best possible of ways and giving myself what I need to grow spiritually and emotionally. Maybe a combination of all. And as I contemplate this I am perusing the internet of exotic places…India, the Seychelles, Africa…dreaming of what it would be like to have the freedom and the guts to take a trip for me, myself, and I, with no remorse or guilt on my part. Can I do it? I’m not sure at this point but I think that 18 months of therapy and a marriage that was teetering on the brink might have taught me a few things… the primary one being is that I matter. That my dreams, needs, and thoughts matter and for some foolish reason I let go of that strong confident ball-busting young woman I once was… and that I miss her…a lot… and that I want her back. And I also wonder that if I take a chance… if I just step out and up…if I might find that confident, intelligent and oh-so-sure of herself slightly older  and more colorful woman again somewhere in India because I haven’t yet found her here.

Does going somewhere new and doing something different change you? Does challenging yourself help you grow balls? I’m not sure… but I think I would like to find out and if I do I can only hope that I will bring back so much more than I left with.

 

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Seek And You Shall Find

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In a couple of weeks we will be leaving for South Korea. This is a trip which will take our three children back to their homeland. Back to a place where they will “look” like they belong but will not understand the language nor the customs that an individual would who had lived there for their entire life. This will be a trip, unlike the last time, where they will be able to understand the ping-pong looks and stares that people will inevitably give us as they size us up as a family; most smiling but some frowning; as they label our children different from “them.” It’s a trip where they will be in the majority, while we, their caucasian parents, will be in the minority; a role reversal that they can see occur right in front of them with their own two eyes…one which may have epic implications.

I hope that my kids will see the beauty of their first country and begin to feel pride in themselves as Korean-Americans. I hope that the anxiety of autism will not overtake my sons as we walk through crowded markets and experience new ways of doing things. I hope that these amazing children will become stronger in their belief that we humans are essentially all the same and that we share many of the same hopes and dreams as everyone else on the planet so we must treat others as we ourselves want to be treated. And I hope that they find the things that they are looking for, both big and small, that will fill the holes in their hearts that adoption itself creates.

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My wish for them is that they realize that the circumstances of their birth are just that…circumstances… that have nothing to do with them and that these circumstances do not determine whether they are “good” or “bad”  people. That they are who they are… not just due to their early experiences but mostly because of what they have put into themselves to create the work of art that they hang on the wall to show the world.

Korean…American…Californian…Autistic…Thoughtful…Creative… Intelligent…Giving…Athletic…Charming…Inquisitive…Happy…Caring…Interesting… all despite being raised by lovingly flawed parents.

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I hope Korea gives them the chance they deserve and I hope they give the same back to their Motherland. I hope the rich culture, the old stories, the ancient temples, the colorful folk songs and the flavorful food etch themselves into our children’s psyche so that they can reach for them in the future when they need a bit of understanding about who they are and who they can become. Because finding a bit more of yourself and what you are made of is a gift no matter where and when it happens.

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So my hope is that they find those gifts that will be abundant and ever-present as we tour their homeland. May they recognize what it is they need to witness and take it away for themselves and their souls. And may they find these gifts as freely as one finds shells laying on a sandy beach, so that they may they gather them up in their pockets and examine them on another day as they are needed throughout their lives.

Find what you need my sweet children, be happy, and be free!

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