I love this season of my life where I do what I want, when I want and with whomever I want. If I don’t want to do something, I don’t do it. I check in with myself and ask Spirit to guide me as to what I am to do next or who I am to be with. Sometimes I take a walk early in the morning and sometimes at sunset on the beach.
Years ago, I remember a quote that spoke to my heart. “When you learn to trust yourself, you will know how to live.” It has taken me many years of hard work to trust myself and release old beliefs and behaviors that no longer served me. I try to live in the moment and let go of the past and future. It’s not always easy, but I strive for it.
Of course, while I was raising a family and holding a full- time job. I had to do things I didn’t want to do, whether it was convenient or not. I didn’t have a choice when I had to nurse a baby in the middle of the night or get up with a sick child. I loved being a mother and don’t regret a minute of all that I did.
I didn’t know then what I know now about the importance of loving and appreciating myself, self-care and taking sacred time for myself. I had it backwards. I had to take care of everyone else first (including my ex-husband and children who were old enough to take care of themselves) before I did anything for myself. I said yes when I meant no and then felt resentful when I was exhausted. I’m grateful for all I have learned and continue to learn.
Being in a relationship and married now, I know it isn’t all about me and what I need and want. Larry and I work beautifully together to make our relationship harmonious. We listen to each other and negotiate our needs for the good of the relationship. We rarely question what the other is doing or not doing. We may suggest something to the other and then let it go if the other isn’t interested. Instead of being codependent or dependent, we are interdependent.
It’s interesting what happened this week when Larry was triggered by something I said. I went into the TV room and said, “I love how we respect one another’s decisions to do whatever we want to do for ourselves. I feel the freedom to do what I need to do for myself and think you do too.”
The Universe definitely set this up for us to communicate with one another. He looked at me and said, “I would appreciate it if you didn’t question me about when I have my breakfast.” I had no idea what he was talking about and asked him to explain.
Larry works on the computer in the morning and usually eats his breakfast about 11:00 am. That morning he came into the kitchen at 9:00 am and said, “I’m hungry and going to have my breakfast now. I was surprised and innocently said, “It’s only 9:00 am, you don’t ever have your breakfast at 9:00 am.” I had no intention of telling him what to do or what not to do. It was just a comment.
Larry then explained to me that he felt judged and like he was doing something wrong when I made the comment. We both realized he was being triggered by an old belief that no longer served him. His old belief was that he couldn’t relax until he was productive and finished his work.
I could certainly relate to that belief in my own life. If I didn’t check off things on my to-do list, I felt guilty that I didn’t do enough. It was hard to relax and do nothing if I wasn’t productive first.
We were both grateful that we recognized this old belief that keeps us from doing what we want when we want to do it. Communication, respect, trust, honesty and vulnerability with one another are key components of a healthy relationship.
What I appreciate about my relationship with Larry is how we both take responsibility for our behavior and actions. We have a lot in common and are both pretty easy going and have learned to go with the flow. We respect and support each other’s needs and what is important to each of us.
Larry and I love being retired. He does what he wants to do during the day and I do what I want to do and we come together at night to relax and share about the day. We take day trips and go out to breakfast and lunch often. We dance, pray, play and are writing our book together. He likes to stay home more than I do and I like to play with the girls. I like my quiet time and have my “Pat” days when I want to. In other words, we give each other FREEDOM to do what is important to each of us. It works for us as we are creating a “conscious” love relationship and are enjoying the “fruits of our labor” with Spirit. We are remembering that we are all ONE and connected and there is only LOVE.
But we do have a major difference that we are working on as we want to be respectful of one another. We know that neither one of us is right or wrong, just different perspectives. I like “stuff” which he thinks is “clutter.” I have candles and flowers and pretty things around. He has been great with giving me the freedom to decorate the way I want to because it didn’t seem to matter to him. Larry is more of a “minimalist” and prefers not to have things around, especially in the kitchen. Perhaps because he was in the catering business for so many years, he likes things the way he likes them and I try to be sensitive to that.
When I moved into our current home 3 ½ years ago, it was fully furnished and I had my own stuff that I had accumulated. When Larry moved in 2 ½ years ago, he brought his stuff. There is little storage room in our home and things got stuffed into the kitchen cabinets. I managed to organize it so everything was in its place, or so I thought it was organized and in its place!
It all came to a head when I heard the “crash” of glass in the kitchen. I came running in from outside to see what happened. There was glass all over the floor and counters. Larry was very upset and yelled, “I am so f………frustrated with this clutter.” I had never seen him so angry and it scared me. He is usually very calm.
Instead of staying there and helping him clean up the glass which I would have done in the past to make everything ok, I immediately went back outside to calm myself down. I am grateful that I had the presence of mind to keep my mouth shut and not argue. I sat outside praying and feeling my feelings.
When I came in from outside an hour later, I went into the room to discuss what happened. Larry said, “I have a letter to write on my computer and left the room.” I assumed he wasn’t ready to talk about what happened. I went to the other bedroom and read and prayed.
What upset me, other than the fact that he was so angry, is that I didn’t have any idea that he felt so frustrated and strongly about the “clutter” as he called it. I wasn’t willing to take responsibility for something I didn’t know about. He had a responsibility to “lovingly” share with me things that were bothering him. An hour later, he came into the room and kind of apologized, but minimized what happened and said, “I don’t want to make a big deal out of this.”
It was a big deal because I had never seen him like that and he scared the S…. out of me. I also wondered if there were other things that bothered him that he wasn’t talking about.
The next morning when we talked about it, Larry said, “I didn’t realize how much the kitchen cabinets bothered me until the glass shattered all over the place. I don’t want to complain about everything, so I usually just ignore things.” I was quiet and listened to him as he shared his perspective.
He admitted that he was lazy and could have done something about the cabinets if he didn’t like them or he could have talked to me about them before he exploded. I admitted that I was also lazy and instead of taking things out that we weren’t using, I kept finding space for them. He agreed to pay attention to when something is bothering him and to let me know and not ignore it. I agreed to not put anything in the closet unless I take something out.
It is my belief that Spirit uses everything for our highest good. Since the “crash” there is a fire under my butt to clean out other closets that have things stuffed into them. It really feels lighter.
We had an opportunity to address a situation that we both had different perspectives on. Pat loves paintings and pictures and there isn’t much room on our walls for any more pictures or paintings. She also loves likes rocks, crystals, statues, and flowers. She receives great satisfaction and peace from having all these things around. She loves to go out Saturday mornings to garage sales to find treasures. I am fine with that and encourage her to go and have fun.
This week, I realized I wasn’t fine with it after the bowl crashed on the counter. We have little storage space and trying to fit two households into the cabinets is pretty difficult to do. Our kitchen cabinets are packed jam full of plates, bowl, cups, and glasses.
I had just gotten up from a late nap and was still kind of groggy. When I opened a kitchen cabinet door and reached for a bowl, a dish fell out and crashed into a million pieces on the counter. I was shocked and frightened. My comfort level went from a calm level of zero to an alarmed level of 1000. I yelled “I can’t stand all this #!# *! clutter anymore.” I was angry and didn’t like being startled like that. I proceeded to clean up the mess and started to calm down. I knew I needed to be alone for awhile. Pat had never seen me this angry so it was upsetting and scary for her.
As I took time to think about what happened, I realized that I wasn’t upset with Pat, but I was upset with myself. I take care of placing all the cups, glasses, plates back into the cabinets because the cabinets are high and it’s easier for me to reach than it is for Pat. I have been living under these circumstances for more than 2 1/2 years and wondered why I didn’t do something about it up until now? The truth is it wasn’t important enough and I was just too lazy to do or say anything about it.
Pat encouraged me to speak up when things bother me, rather than let them build up and then explode. I really didn’t know it was bothering me until the crash. I work at being flexible and not complaining. I agreed to do that rather than seeing it as complaining.
The next morning we discussed what happened and what we could do to resolve it. I had the idea to buy some big plastic bins and put the things we are not using into them. We spent the morning going through the cabinets and cleaning them out. Sometimes I’m not the “brightest bulb in the package” because I never even thought of doing this until now. The lesson learned is to pay attention if something is bothering me, rather than ignore it and do something before I blow my cool. I’ll do better the next time. Pat agreed to not put anything new in the kitchen cabinet unless she takes something out.
In the past, I would have really beaten up on myself. I didn’t do that and was able to take responsibility for my actions and move on.
Once upon a time there was a little girl who really looked good on the outside but inside felt quite differently. On the inside, she wanted to please and impress others because she didn’t love herself. She felt insecure, inadequate and not good enough. She didn’t speak up or hardly ever said no to others when they needed her. She looked outside for her answers and thought others knew what was best for her. She was afraid of authority figures.Today that little girl has grown up and that little girl is a woman who just turned 70 years’ young. That woman is me. I am happy to say I am healing from codependent behaviors and continue to “GROW UP and SPEAK UP.”
Spirit allowed an opportunity this week to show me my growth. I was amazed at what happened and thought to myself, “Where did she come from? I can’t believe that came out of my mouth.” I spoke up to my doctor, which at one time in my life, I would never have done. This is not about what the doctor did or didn’t do and there is no blame. It is about recognizing how I have grown and changed.
Here is what happened: I was summoned for jury duty. I checked to see about parking the afternoon before I was scheduled. I couldn’t understand it and asked Larry to read it. I was aghast when he came out and said, “Pat, this is in Honolulu.” We live in Maui and the only way to get there would be by plane. The summons read if you don’t show up you could receive a fine of $1000 or be put in jail. I called immediately but the office was closed because of Martin Luther King Day. My only saving grace was that I was instructed to call after 5:00 p.m.the day before and see if the date was rescheduled.
In the meantime, I prayed and asked for help and guidance. The idea came to me to contact my holistic doctor and ask for a letter to be excused because of my ongoing back issues. He agreed to write the letter for the date the summons was originally scheduled.
Because the jury date was rescheduled when I called, I needed to call the doctor and ask for a note for the new date. When I went to his office to pick up the note, I could sense he was not happy about having to write another letter.
He said, “I am charging you $25 for writing the letter because it caused me so much aggravation with the phone calls and emails. I sent him one email and called once.
I immediately and calmly said, “Oh is that how you decide what fee to charge your patients because of how much aggravation it causes you?” I am sure he was surprised that I spoke up and became defensive and went on about how much he charges an hour, etc.
When he left the office I asked his secretary, “Does he always speak to patients like that?” She was apologetic and said, “He was in the hospital for 4 days and has not recovered fully. He has had a hard day and is exhausted.” My heart softened with compassion and love. As I was leaving the office, he came out and I said, “I send you love.”
I had to return to his office the next day to pick up some supplements. When he saw me he said, “Thank you for your patience yesterday and thanks for the love and prayers.”
Some of you may be thinking, “Why would you go back to him when he spoke to you like that?” My ego would like to rant and rave, feel indignant, hold a grudge and not go back.
I have choices. I can love or judge and live in fear. Today I am choosing to love and since he has been a good doctor and was willing to write the letter in the first place, I am in gratitude because I don’t have to go to jury duty!
That little girl has grown up and has learned to SPEAK UP and not feel guilty. I felt really proud of myself for the woman I have become.
Pat and I are learning that being in a loving committed relationship at times can be challenging. We’ve learned in some ways that we are very much alike and in some ways we are very different. We can experience the same situation and walk away from it with entirely different perspectives of what we saw, heard or experienced.
Our saving grace is that we are committed to talking about everything. I think our communication skills are top notch. I’m sure you have all been in relationships before and have learned how important communication is. Sometimes it’s very difficult for one or the other in the relationship to support open communication.
I know as a male I have been in a place in the past where all I wanted to know is “What do you want or need, just let me know and I’ll try to obtain it for you, I don’t need to waste time talking about it.” Not to surprising those relationships didn’t last.
I’ve always thought that I was a fairly generous person. I don’t mind spending money doing some things and going places. My main criteria for spending money is that I receive “VALUE” for it. This is one area where good communication comes in. Pat and I sometimes have different perspectives on what constitutes VALUE and we need to negotiate so we both feel respected and loved.
For example, Pat wanted to do the Hawaii Cruise, from her perspective it was a terrific idea and had a lot of VALUE. I balked at the idea because I had done the cruise 12 years ago and didn’t see any VALUE in taking it again. While talking about it over time I was able to see it from a different perspective. I started to look at it as a”STAYCATION” and from that perspective it had value for me. (A STAYCATION is something we Mauians do just for something different and it’s usually staying at one of the Resorts on island for a few days.)
When Pat shared her experience with her doctor my reaction was WOW I would never have said that to him. From my perspective, the fact that he wrote the letter would have had such VALUE to me he could have said anything he wanted too and I could have cared less. Different perspectives that’s all. I’m proud that Pat had the courage to speak up when she felt it was necessary. We encourage each other to always be true to ourselves.
Perhaps we can all be more willing to listen to what our loved ones have to say, allow them the flexibility to experience life differently than the way we do and value another’s perspective.
Eckhart Tolle offers: If I had lived her past and suffered her pain, and was at the same level of consciousness, I would be thinking and acting exactly the same way that she is.
For those who read our offerings I hope you can find something of “VALUE” in it.
Has this ever happened to you? Things are going pretty good in your relationship and you don’t want to “rock the boat” and say something that might upset your loved one. You may believe that it is safer to just say nothing. Perhaps it has been your pattern to ignore, deny, minimize or rationalize what you’re feeling or experiencing just to keep the peace and not “rock the boat.”
I lived my life with those unhealthy patterns for many years because I didn’t know any better. I wasn’t taught how to communicate effectively, especially being assertive and asking for what I wanted. When my ex-husband sensed something was bothering me, he would ask, “Is something wrong?” I would automatically say, “No, nothing is wrong.” We both played the same game saying nothing was wrong, instead of being honest and open. I would continue to feel hurt, sulk or cry until we got to the bottom of things. Often, it would be days or weeks before I was aware of what I was feeling. I was good at pushing my feelings down by staying busy or eating or whatever else I did to avoid my feelings.
I remember a time when I was married and we were having company. I was running around the house like a chicken without a head and my ex-husband was sitting on the couch reading the newspaper. I was vacuuming the rug when he asked, “Is something wrong?” I blew up and said, “Can’t you see I need help?” He said, “All you needed to do was ask me to vacuum and I would have been happy to do it.” He was right. I expected him to read my mind, which is another unhealthy pattern that we fell into.
As I got stronger and learned how to communicate assertively and effectively, I started to speak up and ask for what I wanted as well as what I didn’t want in our relationship. In fact, I have heard you teach what you need to learn. For many years, I taught weekly interpersonal skills groups when I worked at the VA hospital. Speaking up didn’t always work and my ex-husband didn’t like it. Changing patterns in a relationship takes a lot of work and both parties have to be willing to change or it doesn’t work. It takes courage and trust in yourself to speak up and perhaps upset the apple cart. It’s risky business because the relationship may not last. In fact, it didn’t last and my marriage of 30 years ended 17 years ago.
Larry and I have great communication skills. We invite each other to be honest and open. We take the time to listen to each other and take responsibility for our actions, and often end up laughing at ourselves. Because our relationship is healthy and open, it is easy for me to bring up something that may be bothering me. I no longer, deny, minimize, ignore or rationalize what I am feeling or experiencing.
For the past week, I have had the “opportunity” to practice and speak up to Larry about a few things that upset me. They weren’t big things, but nonetheless, I chose to share them with him because I didn’t want things to build up inside of me and then come out sideways a month later. As I shared earlier, in the past, it might have taken me days or weeks to get in touch with my feelings and realize I was upset about something. For the most part, today I am aware almost immediately of what I’m feeling and share if it is appropriate and for the good of our relationship.
I realized my “history” of “speaking up” did rock the boat and ended our 30 – year marriage. Even though I will not return to unhealthy patterns of communication and behaviors, I felt vulnerable and fearful of what might happen with Larry and me because I spoke up and asked clearly for what I wanted and shared what I didn’t want. Deep down, I sensed this wasn’t about my relationship with Larry, but past relationships and what happened.
I prayed and asked God for help. Here is what I heard Spirit say: “As you speak up and share your truth, you are modeling healthy communication and this is good, Pat. Don’t be afraid, trust me, trust yourself and trust your relationship.”
I am choosing love instead of fear. Today love means being honest, open, willing, authentic, trusting, worthy and deserving. Fear means holding back, denying, pretending, running away, pushing away, minimizing, pleasing another at the expense of myself and not rocking the boat.
I invited Larry to share his thoughts, feelings and history about communication in a relationship.
I believe that communication is crucial in any relationship, especially with your partner. Like Pat, I didn’t have the skills to communicate in my first marriage, but I have had a lot of years to practice and learn. If my ex-wife confronted me with something that was bothering her, I would automatically get “defensive” because it made me feel “wrong” and I didn’t like that. I didn’t understand that it was her perspective and it didn’t automatically make me wrong.
Today, I am open to listen when something is bothering Pat and I don’t have to defend myself. We are able to work things out so both of our needs are met. When Pat has a problem I try to be present to her with patience and kindness even though I may be seeing things from an entirely different prospective and may not agree with her. It’s not always easy but we both feel it’s worth it.
I am so fortunate that Pat has the great communication skills that she has. She seems to be able to get right to the point of a situation without being “accusatory” or insensitive and that’s great. That doesn’t necessarily make it easy for me because most times, the result is that I have to look at myself and my actions to discern what is going on that I may need to change.
Pat is teaching me how to communicate more effectively and ask for what I want, which is something I didn’t do real well. Looking back, I realize I didn’t ask for what I wanted because I didn’t know what I wanted. I was focused on my family and pleasing them and making them happy. I also didn’t feel deserving to ask even if I did know what I wanted. The beginning of my journey to find out who I was and what I wanted started many years ago when I lost everything: my home, family and business.
It is in a man’s DNA to “protect” his woman. I had a tendency to want to “help” whether it was wanted, appreciated or needed. I am learning to ask Pat if she wants my help and let her make the decision. Pat feels respected knowing she can do something on her own if she wants to, and it also takes the pressure off me to always feel like I have to help her.
I believe Pat feels a sense of love, security and protection, but I am not taking care of her, she is an intelligent woman who makes her own decisions, knows what she likes and dislikes and makes her choices accordingly. We are a couple who love and care for one another, love spending time together and doing things together and we each have our own lives and interests apart. We are joined at the heart not at the hip.
I am trying to live my life as a “vessel of love” and to do that I’ve had to make a lot of changes. I’m still learning to turn to the energy and light of love within when I need guidance and not allow fear and ego to influence me. Love has never failed me and never will. There is nothing stronger than the energy of love.
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