Were we really fristers after all?

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Apparently we’re good at taking pictures of un-reality. Because the day after Thanksgiving, I walked out of the bathroom to overhear my sister talking to the friend I had brought to Thanksgiving dinner, about how she think I criticize her so much, and how hurtful I am, and that it’s ‘so highschool,’ and I wanted to slam my fist into the door and walk out. Screaming. Crying. I wanted to do it all. Instead I walked back around the corner and put my kid to bed, because parenting duties don’t stop when you overhead gossip going on in the kitchen when they think you’re not listening.

The whole time we were there, my New York born, Seattle, living, friend kept saying things like, “your sister is so nice, she’s just such a nice person,” and honestly I’m sick of that. I’ve been hearing that kind of shit my whole life. My sister, the quintessential cheerleader personality, with all of her baubles and tittering laugh, being compared to my tell-it-like-it-is personality that questions every authority I’ve come across. I’m the older one, the responsible one, the one who doesn’t shamelessly flirt with everyone she meets. The one who came home and studied and didn’t sneak out to party with older boys and questionable friends. And all people who come in contact with her say “she’s so nice.”

I’m tired of feeling like no matter what I do, no matter who I am, that my way of being in the world is wrong. I’m tired of being labelled the ‘difficult,’ one because my personality doesn’t conform to the standard of femininity that my sister embodies. It makes me feel like shit to hear my sister say that I’m basically a terrible person and that she can’t even tell me to my face. Makes me think that she’s just been putting up a happy-happy-joy-joy cheerleader front all this time. And for what? To build a fake relationship with me and have it all go to shit when I overhear her badmouthing me?

Boof says it’s because I have the kind of personality that doesn’t let people come close without dropping their defense mechanisms. That I don’t put up with bullshit and some people don’t like that feature about me. That it’s not about my being being wrong in the world, but rather that it forces them to see how they are wrong in the world, and they must change to interact with me. Whatever it is, it doesn’t feel good. And it makes me want to cut off all relationships, like with my friend, or my sister, to pursue more authentic relationships. Ones that don’t feel like I am a difficult person.

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From a Distance

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Our 2nd annual Cama Beach camping trip was well under way, and I realized that over the past 5 weeks (4 of which have been spent in some fashion with my parents) that I have been somehow softening toward my parents as people, and possibly even experiencing some softening of memories of childhood. I blame this softening, in part, by the joy my parents had in meeting Mari and her husband and their kids when we all went there for the weekend to wine taste. And the joy my parents had in meeting my friend Amelia as she came up for the day to Cama Beach. They want to know my friends. They want to know my life. 

Memory is a strange thing. Because, if I squint hard enough, soften into a deep breath and let my muscles relax, I can remember the feeling of childhood. I might have been an anxious child in ways, but I was also blissfully carefree in other ways. It wasn’t until we moved in adolescents, and I began to feel awkward and misunderstood and took a cynical look at my parent’s parenting. And then there was the un-diagnosed depression and anxiety that clouded my mind. And in college, and young adulthood there was a VERY cynical look back, seeing my parents in all their faults, how I would do it differently, how very misunderstood I was and how much I felt I had to hide to receive their ‘un’conditional love. 

And there I was, sitting on a log watching my parents play with Potamus on the beach and I just felt soft toward them, toward my memories of them growing up. I haven’t gone to the extreme of saying that everything they did was right, or that nothing they did hurt me at all, but there was this settling in to the gray. That my parents annoy me sometimes AND they love my son (and me, yes, I’ll even go that far). It was really a sweet feeling to just sit and be and not feel all this leftover angst that I usually feel when I’m with them. 

Forever Hold Your Peace

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I wasn’t nice to my brother’s girlfriend. She was 17, and he was 20, and I was jaded by the string of girls he brought along before and thought “it’s not like he’s going to marry this girl,” and so I gave her the cold-shoulder. And then he married her. And boy was that awkward for awhile (like, even now, 8 years and a sorta-divorce later). I didn’t have the decency to treat her nicely at the beginning, though, deep down, I have a pocketful of reasons to give in defense of my bad behavior, if it’s ever necessary. What I learned from that experience, was my relatively shitty inability to articulate my feelings in the moment, which could have saved years of conflict down the road.

All of this was brought up in my mind, yesterday, when I was chatting with my bestie Ruth about a conflicted experience she had recently. In my brilliant wisdom (sarcasm? maybe?) I reminded her that emotions are stored on one side of the brain, and language on the other, and that sometimes it’s hard to get the language and emotions to match up nicely and to be able to articulate all those fee-fees that you’re having. Not to mention, it’s fucking awkward to confront someone, regardless, because very few of us were taught how to do this type of communication in our formative years (and as adults, do we really want to risk losing relationships if the conflict goes badly?).

It’s reminiscent of the “forever hold your peace,” line they say in movie weddings (because, that’s not a real wedding thing…right?). But you know what, this ‘forever hold your peace,’ shit is pretty fucking hard when you’re someone who has lots of opinions and thoughts and wants things to be logical.

I don’t like things that feel incongruent. I have a hard time when I see people say one thing and then do something else. I have a hard time when things don’t seem to add up or make sense, at least on some level. When I sense these mixed messages, I feel confused, and frustrated, while also unable to articulate my feelings in a way that doesn’t seem rude or attacking because it’s hard to verbalize frustration with unspoken energy actions. Does that even make remote sense?

I’m good with conflict in the moment, when I feel something and am able to say, “I’m annoyed,” or “I’m feeling uncomfortable.” What I have a hard time with, is feeling annoyed or uncomfortable with something, brushing it off as ‘no big deal,’ and then having something else happen, and something else, and something else, until finally I’m at the point where I’m unfriending them on facebook (true story: hi sis!) and they’re like “um, wtf just happened?” If I had just told my sister that I was annoyed with her inconsistent love and open acceptance paired with terribly racist retweets on facebook, the first time it happened, maybe I wouldn’t have been so far down the line that I either wanted to shut down (or cut off) or scream and throw things.

So I’m stuck in this dilemma and I don’t know what to do, how to change, to be a different person. It feels unfair to bring up conflict or frustration over something that happened six months, two years, ten years, ago, especially when realized that is bottled up and I might not be able to say it in a nice way. And yet, I feel like trying to live in the ‘forever hold your peace,’ camp is eating away at me. And I would feel shitty, too, if a friend came to me six months later, I might be like “why didn’t you tell me when this happened? Why did you pretend everything was okay?”

What to do?

Because avoiding it is only adding to the pressure, and I don’t want to be a fucking psycho, you know?

 

Seattle Staycation

Hotel Max

Boof and I spent the first nights without Potamus on a lovely Seattle Staycation. We were celebrating both my 31st birthday AND our 5th wedding anniversary, and while we do have dreams of travel again, this sweet winter-break tradition of heading into our beloved city stuck with us. This time, we stayed at The Max, which was a really cool indie pop themed hotel with a tiny room (with white sheets, glorious!) and a view of the Space Needle. It was heaven. A 15 minute drive from home, but it felt like worlds away.

View of the Space Needle

On Friday night I squeezed into my engagement dress and we hoppped about the SLUT (South Lake Union Trolley gutter minds!) and headed over to my favorite steak restuarant: Daniels Broiler. It’s like heaven. Filet Mignon and garlic mashed potatoes, with a view of Lake Union and all of it’s boats lit up with festive Christmas lights. We joked, and held hands, and talked about the past five years and the next five to come. My favorite conversation was how we always manage to plan vacations around food…like the time to New York where we didn’t end up seeing many sights except on our way to eat hot dogs on Coney Island, or pizza at the ‘oldest’ place in little Italy, or the Woody Allen inspired pastrami sandwich. No matter how our politics or religious views ebb and flow over the years, we always have the foundation of our love of food and that if we were travel to Europe we’d rather see one museum in 3 weeks if it meant getting to sip cappuccinos and dine nightly on really good pasta.

Engagement Dress

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Through the magic of Groupon and Living Social, our desires to eat and drink and be merry have intensified. Our Saturday morning was kicked off by bottomless mimosas and lots of laughter. We received many picture text messages from my parents, who were in charge of Potamus’s first time away from mama/dada, and it was cute to see how much fun he was having with them. It put my mind at ease, that we had made a really good decision to celebrate our love and get a few nights of uninterrupted sleep.

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Five years of marriage. Two years of parenthood. Love.

A sigh of relief and a little celebration

This summer, while I was struggling with being a stay at home mom, I wrote about the frustration of having a boyfriend-then-husband who has had several different careers. As we approach our fifth wedding anniversary (and 7.5 years of being together), he has had exactly three different careers. Recently my article, entitled I Think I’ve Had Three Husbands: Navigating Spousal Career Change, was featured over on Offbeat Home. And while I was in a really raw place at the time I wrote it, I look back and see how in just a few months everything can just feel so different.

I’m writing this before the next busy season, so I can remind myself of the little partnering sweet spot we’re in. Because, with the Mariner job over, football officiating over, we are currently parenting together many more nights a week. And today we got the great news that Boof passed the fourth, and final, part of the CPA exam. I couldn’t be more proud. While it wasn’t necessary to keep his job, for me it feels like he’s passed another really major hurdle. First he got into the program, after a traumatic exit from the world of teaching, and went to his old fallback plan of the world of business or accounting. He was accepted to a ten week certificate program with a great reputation and spent the summer going to classes. Our son was six months old. I was crisis counseling. And then, miraculously, after courting a bunch of big accounting firms that all fell through, he landed a great busy season internship that panned out to his job now. But there’s something so victorious about passing all of his exams on the first try. It feels like I can breathe a sigh of relief, that this career is going to last, for awhile at least, and we can get into a yearly rhythm rather than just a daily survival dog-paddle. 

So tonight I took Boof out to happy hour to celebrate. We toted Potamus along, to our favorite local brewery, and had a beer and some yummy food to celebrate his success. It doesn’t mean everything will be smooth sailing from now on, but it feels like we are in a really good place and I’m breathing a smallish sigh of relief. 

I think I’ve had three husbands: Navigating spousal career changes | Offbeat Home

Ya’ll, I’ve been published over on Offbeat Home! I think I’ve had three husbands: Navigating spousal career changes | Offbeat Home.

Head on over and give me some love?

How Hot Yoga Prepared Me to Meet My Great Aunties

Hot yoga is humbling. I’m there in the sweaty room, with limber (and not so limber) yoginis and yogis, all working hard in our own practice. And while, in other yoga classes, I have felt this internal dialogue of competition (mostly with myself, but sometimes this though ‘I don’t want them to see me quit or rest’) that has pushed me forward in my practice. A little competition is okay, in that it pushes me forward, seeing how a pose can be done in ‘full expression’ is thrilling if I let it be, discouraging if I let it be, too. I rarely let it be discouraging.

But here I am, in an abnormally hot room (their heaters were on overdrive from a weekend where they hadn’t been going at all), and the sweat was pouring off me. I wasn’t able to do many of the positions that I normally can do, and so I spent much of my time, as instructed at the beginning of class “focusing on the breath, taking breaks on the mat.” I sat in easy pose, breathing, watching my belly rise in the mirror, while all around me the yoginis bent into triangle and eagle and balancing stick or sugarcane. I was silencing my internal chatter, and then the instructions were to ‘turn a quarter turn to the left,” and suddenly I was there, in easy pose, with the rest of the class turned toward me. Wow. Talk about feeling vulnerable. I sat, and breathed and watched, but instead of disassociating, I stayed present…I stayed connected to the process of being in the room with these people.

I took this experience as I headed out for a family reunion. Because I had been invited, by my biological dad, to meet one of my grandma’s sisters. Since my grandmother has been dead for many years, it would be a treat for me to meet a sister. And then I got there, with Potamus and Boof, and I was actually meeting THREE sisters! Hot dang, these little old ladies were hilarious. Sitting around the table, drinking beer, telling stories from days gone by. I loved the oldest giving the youngest a ribbing for being a “hussy” as a teen, since she winked at her future-husband to get him to ask her to dance. Scandalous, right?

But there was this moment, when part of me took a step back (a mental step back?), where I saw myself sitting around the table interacting with these women. These women who are my blood. Three aunts, three great-aunts, and me. A part of them because of blood, apart from them because of adoption. They certainly welcomed me with open arms and I could see the ease in which I fit in…and the way in which I also do not belong. Living in this gray place is hard, but hot yoga helps. Because when the heat is turned up I have no choice but to be honest that I need to breathe, need to take a break, rather than try and push or force something that isn’t working, and can embrace it when it is.