Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I Saw You Looking Back...

as you were pulling away from the driveway in your car.  I pretended not to notice as I took out the Tupperware containers from my lunch bag to be placed in the dishwasher.  I casually spun around and returned my lunch bag to its place on top of the refrigerator.  In that moment of glancing up and out of the kitchen window in the midst of my usual after work routine, I saw you do something that you never did before when we were together...something that when we were together I looked for so hopefully.

I cannot tell you how many times I stood by my kitchen window watching as you left.  Part of it is my familial habit of walking visitors, friends and family to the door when saying good-bye and then watching and waving in their send off.  Sometimes it seems silly, but I cannot help these rituals.  It provides some sense of comfort, hope and well wishes exchanged between myself and those that I care about until I see them again.  When it is reciprocated, there is a sort of feeling of closure in that moment, almost like an acknowledgement...until the next time...or...my spirit is with your spirit.

But when we were together, you never looked back.  You would jump into your car and off you went...zoom...onto the next adventure in life.  So many times you were full of energy and bounding to do the next thing.  I wondered if I was hardly a thought in your mind as you carried about your day after you left.  You seemed so comfortable in your leaving.  But was it that you took for granted that you would return to me?

Today you paused.  You were looking up at me, and what seemed like the first time that you had been watching me.  It's strange to suddenly realize that you are being observed.  My breath slipped away and when I neared your eyes, I looked away.  I didn't want you to see me noticing you noticing me.  The thing that I longed for when we were together and you didn't do, suddenly now you took the time to do.

My heart hurts and it's not fair.  There are days that I still miss you, still think about you and wonder why it could not have worked.  I loved you so.  But then I think back to the things that secretly brought me relief when it was over.  And that saddens my heart, too.  It comes in cycles of mourning, sadness and anger that get smaller and smaller with time.  They are followed by the building of strength that comes from productively feeling the pain...to honor what was lost in order to move onward.

Why did you have to look at me in that way today from your car?  It was awkward enough to have to ask you to come and unlock my door after I locked my keys in my apartment.  You were kind about it, but you could hardly look at me.  And I could hardly look at you.  We were polite and asked the obligatory, "How are you?"  I sensed that you did not want to be there in that space with me as it felt quietly rushed.  Both were seemingly insouciant, but with more under the surface than what either of us was willing to admit.  I cannot imagine what the real thoughts were in your head.  I have no idea.

As you were unlocking the door, I just kind of glanced around you.  I could not look at you, as much as I wanted to catch a glimpse of your face.  A song came to my mind, one that is so cliche, but snippets kept jumping out at me...

"Dreams, that's where I have to go to see your beautiful face anymore." 

I almost felt like I would rather just remember you the way that I imagine than to painfully see you in this current reality knowing you are no longer with me. 

"I would lie and say that you're not on my mind."

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Healthy Amount of Resiliency

In child development there is a concept called ghosts in the nursery.  It refers to a parent's fears about effectively bonding or child rearing with their child.  Sometimes people may feel that their own parents may not have done the best job at parenting or sometimes people come from complex histories with deep emotional hurts.  They may worry how their past has shaped who they are today and how it will impact their perceived ability to be a good parent.  Just because a person may have less than desirable things in their past does not mean that they will be a poor parent.  Actually, those who can identify the ways in which they would do things differently and make the effort to do them, use the power within themselves to make a difference.  Sure, we are shaped by our experiences, but we are not powerless because of them.  Those who seek to be different have the courage to change.  I think the same could be said across multiple domains of our lives and not just parenting.

For me, there has been a small part wondering if I am broken because of my personal history-- experiences with my ex-husband,  close family members who died when I was a child or other things.  I know I am sensitive and it can create triggers for me.  But, I try to stop and take a step back when I feel that rush of emotion so to avoid projecting my past, like relationship hurts onto another person unfairly.  There are also those childhood fears lurking that can be difficult to let go.  And I've wondered if my past is too much for another man to handle.  Sometimes it makes it difficult for me to trust, to be transparent and to allow myself to initially take the risk to connect with another man in a romantic relationship.  I want a man who can know me, understand from where I am coming, so he can have compassion without feeling sorry for me.  Likewise, I want to be able to do the same for him.  I am not asking for someone to solve any problems, but for me to be able to feel safe being me--all of me--without chasing them away.

And frankly, I have been working very hard to move forward in my life.  It can be a bit tough to see fully at the moment as I continue to seek out full-time job opportunities.  But, I don't want my past to totally define me.  Sure, I want some amount of acknowledgement of the past, but do not ignore the present me and what I dream to be.  I am more.  And I will continue to evolve and change--hopefully growing in the strength, confidence and freedom to let my true self shine.

During one of the professional development sessions at a conference a few weeks ago, one speaker talked about the commonalities found in people who have resilience.  First, resilient people understand that they may not be able to control certain life circumstances, but they do not let those life circumstances control them.  They realize the power within themselves to be able to do something about it--they have choice.  The second quality is in being able to embrace the good and the bad in their lives, while being able to focus more on the good.  It is not ignoring, dismissing or skipping over the bad stuff.  It is taking it all in, but with the redirection on refocusing on the good in their lives with gratitude.  The final part is being able to healthfully seek and appropriately accept the help of others.  We are not in this alone and social connectivity is important, especially in the company of those you love and respect.

Can I do this?  Yes.  The answer is yes because I believe I have the qualities found in resiliency.  Sometimes it may take a bit more effort than other times, but I think it is there.  In my Finish heritage there is a word for it, too.  Sisu.  It is difficult to translate into English because it is such a multidimensional concept.  The simplest way to describe sisu is having inner determination.  It is not just survival, but that step beyond in holding onto hope and living every moment with zest for fulfillment of realizing one's dreams.

It's time to refocus and recapture that sisu!