Monthly Archives: April 2014

You’re spectacular

I’ve admitted it before, I’m sure. My seemingly constant need for love and affection, and especially for reassurance. The button my husband bought me – “I need praise. Lie if you must.” His brilliant synopsis of my mental and emotional structure – “It’s as if you didn’t receive enough love when you were little, so you have a constant need for love now.” Granted, he said that at the time like there was something wrong with it, and all I could think was, “Yes, that’s me. It’s simple. And now that you know the key to my head and heart, could you please just give it to me? Over and over again?”

So it’s been my MO, my way of approaching the world. I wanted love, tons of love. I wanted affection, tons of affection. And I wanted to be told, over and over again, that the love and affection were there, so that I could know it and remember it. It’s as if I didn’t receive enough love, or at least enough expressed love, when I was little, so I had a constant need for expressed love now.

I even, about a year ago, came up with exactly how I wanted that love expressed to me, at least by my husband. I needed to know that I was loved, and I needed to know that I was okay. Or more than okay. In order for my heart to heal, I needed to be told I was spectacular, at least once a day. I don’t know why that word was the exact one I needed, but it was and I did.

So I asked my husband. “Help me fill this hole I feel inside of me,” I said. “Help me feel more whole.” He happily agreed, so I told him what I wanted. “Every day, at least once a day, tell me I’m spectacular,” I said. “That’s what I need.”

Now my husband loves me. I know that. (Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while know that I know that now – now that my object permanence has kicked into gear.) And, in theory, he would be willing to do anything for me. But he couldn’t do this. Maybe my request was hard for him. Maybe he didn’t like to have to say nice things to me on demand. Maybe he didn’t like to have to say or do anything on demand. Maybe he just got busy and forgot, but he forgot. A lot.

There were days when I’d be waiting, hoping he’d slip out a quick “You’re spectacular,” and yet he wouldn’t say it. There were days when it felt like all I could focus on was when, or whether or not, he would say it. And yet he wouldn’t say it. There were times I wanted to scream, “How hard is it to remember to tell me I’m spectacular?” I would have settled for an email, even an email that he had to set himself a reminder for. I think, if it were me, I would have said it first thing in the morning, just to make sure I didn’t miss it. But he didn’t say it. Or at least he didn’t say it every day.

The days he said it, I melted. Each time I heard a quick “You’re spectacular,” my heart soared. Each email that started with that, or ended with that, or had only that within it, got saved into my “feel good” email folder.

And each day that passed without a “You’re spectacular,” felt as if it killed me. I got angry. I stayed angry. I got angry and stayed angry again. I felt justified in my anger. I mean, how hard was what I was asking of him? He said he loved me. He said he’d do anything for me. Why couldn’t, or wouldn’t, he do this one simple thing? I knew, deep down, that I shouldn’t, and couldn’t, need this from him. I knew that it wasn’t fair to give him this bar to jump over. I knew that I needed to fill this hole – real or imagined – myself. That I needed to find the love and affection and reassurance within myself. I knew that I needed to know I was okay, not to wait to be told that I was okay.

I knew this, but I still wanted it from him. I did find ways to tell myself. I bought a tea cup with the letter S on it. Everyone assumed that I bought it for my daughter, whose name starts with the letter S. But no, it was mine. It was mine and it stood for Spectacular and I used it every day for my “quiet time” tea. Every morning as I cupped the cup in my hands, I stared at the S, and willed myself to believe and know that I was whole and full and okay…and spectacular. But I still wanted it from outside me.

I hate to admit that I stayed in my absolute need and justified anger for a while, even with my own attempts to tell myself what I wanted and needed to hear. I hate to admit that I waited for my husband, and blamed him for errors of omission. Oh, I realized I had to let it go, and that in the big picture it didn’t really matter whether or not he said it, but my justified anger stayed around. And stayed around some more.

And then, like all the other miracles in my life, it lifted, even before my object permanence with my husband kicked into gear. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I worked at it. I prayed for it. I did my best to find this knowledge within. I did my best to see what was right – with me, with him, with my life, with the world. I did my best to distract myself with all the things around me that could make me smile. And then somehow, as if out of nowhere, I no longer needed my husband to tell me I was spectacular. I no longer waited for him to say it. I no longer noticed, and held onto, when he didn’t say it. I no longer needed it from outside of me. That hole was filled and I was whole.

Although I still use, and savor, my S cup every morning.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

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“I know, Daddy, divorce Mommy…”

Lucky thing I know my son loves me. Lucky thing I’m secure in that. Because he might make me think otherwise.

It was a few years ago and we were on a New England college tour for my daughter. We stayed with friends outside of Boston and they had a dog. My son fell in love with the dog. Hard, fast, deep love.

My husband has wanted to get a family dog for years. I have been the naysayer – the one who killed all plans, all ideas, and even all discussions. I have enough to take care of already, I always reasoned, with the house, two kids, and a business. And seeing as my office is in my home, I knew that push come to shove, I would be the one who ended up taking care of the dog. And I’m not a dog person, never have been and probably never will be.

“We can get a dog,” I always offered, “as soon as someone else promises that they’ll take care of the dog.” At which point my husband would quickly volunteer, and I’d quickly laugh. “You’re never home,” I’d counter. “How can you be responsible for a dog? You’ll travel for work and I’ll have to deal with it.”

But my son fell in love with our friend’s dog, and then he wanted a dog. He wanted one badly. He sat in the back seat of the car, as we drove on to our next college tour, trying hard to convince me, to sway me from my steadfast position – even begging me to get him a dog.

I refused and refused and refused, offering my timeworn reasons and explanations, apologizing to him but still saying “No.” There was a pause and I thought I’d won the battle, but then he piped up with his final solution. “I know, Daddy,” he said. “I know. Divorce Mommy, and then we can get a dog.”

I’m lucky I know my son loves me. I’m lucky I know my son. He is and has always been a “man of the moment.” He lives in the moment he’s in – not able to plan for the future or remember the past. He nearly always wants to stay right where he is, doing just what he’s doing (especially these days if he’s in front of the family computer playing Minecraft). Clearly, in his mind, he wanted a dog and he therefore was willing to rid us of any obstacles in the way of his goal. Even if one of those obstacles was me.

I’ll admit that I try to shape him a bit. I try to help him realize that there might be reasons to step away from his moment to move onto the next (like when he was young and we had to drag him kicking and screaming to the beach, or the zoo, or apple picking, or his grandparent’s house, or anything). And there are times when I try to help him remember the past, so that he can use good memories and positive outcomes to move him through times when he’s stuck in something not so good.

But I also want to respect his ability, and desire, to stay in the moment. I spend a great deal of my own energy and effort these days to learn how to stay in the moment. To learn how to be happy with whatever I have right here, right now, instead of pining for something new, better, different, or more. So I want to respect his “gift” and mimic his approach, so that I can do it too. I’ve taught my daughter to consciously be aware of and stay right where she is in each moment, so much so that one of my little notes from my daughter offers this quote from Calvin and Hobbes – “We’re so busy watching out for what’s just ahead of us that we don’t take time to enjoy where we are.” I have a great teacher in my son, and I can learn to strengthen my “Be Here Now” muscle from watching him, and allowing him his pace and perspective.

But I am also lucky that I know he loves me, no matter what he says. And we’re still not getting a dog.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

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My window of love

Have I mentioned before the little notes that my daughter used to leave me in my office? The tokens of love and appreciation. The sweet jokes. The reminders of her passing through. Maybe instead of saying the little notes she used to leave me, I should make it present tense – the little notes she leaves me – on the hopes that when she’s home for the summer, I might get more.

I’d be sitting at my desk and realize that there was a new sticky hanging on the wall or the window, or nestled between the papers in front of me. “I love my amazing writer Mommy,” it might say. Or a simple “Mommy rocks.” And my favorite – the to-do pad that lists a sequence of important tasks such as: give my favorite daughter EVER a hug, make her brownies, stop doing work and eat blueberries, make tea NOT when she’s about to finish practice, and smile.

So I created my window of love. I am a person who likes constant reminders of what I want to remember and focus upon. I’m a visual learner and therefore like visual prompts. I like to see things to know that they’re real. So each little sticky – each note of love, each sweet chiding to think more about my daughter and to do more for her – has been saved and placed thoughtfully on the windows and walls next to my desk. I’ve created a sort of shrine with these mementos.

Because now I get to look at them and remember, to glance over and smile. Each time I see them, I consciously read them again and feel love pouring through me. I may not notice them all the time, but when I do – when I intentionally focus on them – it’s as if I’ve just discovered the note, hidden amongst my papers or hanging on the wall amidst the older notes. I sense my daughter sitting at my desk, thinking through what would make me smile when I read it, and leaving me another message. My heart grins.

I am a visual person. I do like constant reminders. I know that without prompting, my brain can forget the things I want it to remember and go to places I don’t necessarily want it to go. My window of love seems like such a simple solution. By sticking the notes where they’re bound to catch my eye on a daily basis, whether I intentionally focus on them or simply see them in my peripheral vision, I have built a pause into my day. I’ve solidified an opportunity to notice and call out the good things in my life. I have set up a automatic reminder system for the things that really matter to me.

So, I have a window of love. Very few people see my office, and it therefore doesn’t matter what I hang there. But even if it did, even if numerous clients could observe – and judge – how I’ve decorated my space, I would hang my notes and create my window. Because it’s made my space a sacred space. It’s set me up to succeed by offering me reminders of what I want to be reminded about. It’s given me an excuse to stop every day, maybe numerous times a day, to choose my point of focus and remember and smile.

I love my window of love.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

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