Happy

This is a post to say:

I am feeling so happy today, especially in this moment.

I am off from work for 3-4 weeks and I have enough money to get me through.
J is done with the Bar today (about this minute).
I emailed J’s mom, apologized for things I am truly sorry for, and received a warm and loving email back from her. We even talked on the phone the next day and it was warm and loving.
I finally applied The Work to my drama from last summer, and as things were settling out in my brain and as I was deciding to send an apology email to the woman from last summer, I received a message from her. The world works in mysterious ways. I emailed her my apologies, and received a short and sweet message in kind.
I noticed on FB that an ex-boyfriend from high school was in PDX with his fam. I have held some resentment toward him for a long time because it was a weird relationship with weird dynamics, and when I tried telling him that I loved him  he hushed me before I could. I thought I saw him on the street last night, messaged him, and received a super sweet response in which he apologized for being a less-than-stellar BF and hoped we could be friends.
I had an amazing time reconnecting with my cousin this week.
I had a fabulous facial AND massage from two loving and amazing people.
Had a really great counseling session in which my counselor said that if three relationship hurts went “poof” in one week, something I’m doing is working.

And I have I mentioned our Big Party is THIS WEEKEND?! And that I am so excited??

And my GF gets home next week?!?

And then we are going to Glacier National Park for our Honeymoon?

And then I get to go back to school in September??

My life is truly amazing. I am blessed.



Swingers’ Clubs

My post on our first experience in our swingers’ club went live on DA. Yay! I love this post- it’s really fun for me to reflect on the purely fun and positive experiences we have had, especially in the beginning when everything was just super shiny and new.


I would add the following to the post:

If you are visiting a swingers’ club for the first time, here are some basic rules of etiquette and things to think about:

-Be friendly, smile, make eye contact
-Don’t be pushy
-Always ask before you touch someone
-Practice talking about safer sex before you go, and expect to talk about safer sex when you are there (if you engage in any sex)
-If this is a totally new experience for you, try to keep an open mind and keep an attitude of curiosity
-Have boundaries set up with your partner(s) before you get there
-Check in with your partner(s) throughout your time there. Check in with yourself too! How are you feeling? Many people feel overwhelmed at swingers’ clubs, even during their second, third, or more visit. Be gentle with yourself, and with your partner(s), and try to enjoy your moment there without expectations or pressure.
-Talk with other regular patrons of the club to hear about their positive and less-than-ideal situations and experiences. Ask about club parties, good nights to go, other ways of being involved in the community. Making friends can help you relax and enjoy socializing with other sexually positive and adventurous people!

More- Loving What Is

I forgot to include a few things in my last post:

Part of how The Work is so powerful is Byron Katie’s encouragement that one “lives” the turnarounds. This includes making amends with those that you have hurt (even if initially you felt hurt, doing the turnarounds and finding examples of how those are also true sheds light on your part in the hurt occurring). 

For example, she says:

Self-realization is not complete until it lives as action. Live the turnarounds. When you see how you have been preaching to others, go back and make amends, and let them know how difficult it is for you to do what you wanted them to do. Let them know the ways that you manipulated and conned them, how you got angry, used sex, used money, and used guilt to get what you wanted…

Reporting is another powerful way I found to manifest self-realization. In the first year after I woke up to reality, I often went to the people I had been judging and shared my turnarounds and realizations. I reported only what I had discovered about my part in whatever difficulty I was experiencing. (Under no circumstances did I talk about their part.) … You are doing this for your own freedom. Humility is the true resting place. ~p98-99

Also, I love this Q&A from the end of her book:

Q: How can I learn to forgive someone who has hurt me very badly?
A: Judge your enemy, write it down, ask four questions, turn it around. See for yourself that forgiveness means discovering that what you thought happened didn’t. Until you can see that there is nothing to forgive, you haven’t really forgiven. No one has ever hurt anyone. No one has ever done anything terrible. There’s nothing terrible except your uninvestigated thoughts about what happened. So whenever you suffer, inquire, look at the thoughts you’re thinking, and set yourself free. Be a child. Start from the mind that knows nothing. Take your ignorance all the way to freedom. ~p297

Power of Now & Loving What Is

I can’t believe it’s been a week since I blogged last! J and I took a much-needed backpacking trip and I was able to go way introverted and finish Loving What Is, practice The Work (Byron Katie’s method of practicing inquiry), and continue re-reading Power of Now.

Both of these books have allowed me to continue my practice of self-awareness and self-growth through focusing on the present moment, observing my thoughts, observing my feelings, and trying to stay enough in the present that the thoughts and feelings pass instead of attach, linger, fester, grow, turn into monsters, etc.

Byron Katie’s The Work has been amazingly helpful for me this week. I had blogged about her method before about seven months ago, albeit briefly, as I had found her free materials online. I am so glad I was finally able to read Loving What Is!

Here is her method:

Take an upsetting, frustrating, etc situation or person and use it to fill out the following statements and questions:

-Who anger, confuses, saddens, or disappoints you, and why? What is it about them that you don’t like? 
“I am (angry, frustrated, sad, annoyed, irritated, etc) at (Name) because (blank).”
-How do you want them to change? Wht do you want them to do?
“I want (Name) to (blank).”
-What is it that they should or shouldn’t do, be, think, or feel? What advice could you offer?
“(Name) should (blank).” 
-Do you need anything from them? What do they need to do in order for you to be happy?
“I need (Name) to (blank).”
-What do you think of them? Make a list. Remember, be petty and judgmental.
“(Name) is (blank).”
-What is it that you don’t want to experience with that person again?
“I don’t ever want to or refuse to (blank).”

Then, with every statement that you wrote, apply these questions:

1. Is it true?
2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
4. Who would you be without the thought?
and
Turn it around (to the self, to the opposite, 180 degrees; there could be others), and find three genuine examples of how the turnaround is true in your life.

I’ll provide my example of the Work I have done with J’s mom as the subject (bear with me, it’s a long one! also, you will see I don’t follow the steps exactly, but you’ll get the point):

-I’m disappointed by J’s mom because she is not open-minded, tolerant, or accepting of different lifestyles. She was mean and hostile during our video chat. She hasn’t reached out to me since to talk or apologize.
-I want her to be more open-minded. I want her to reach out to me and to love me.
-She should be loving, self-aware, and communicative. She should not be self-righteous or so closed-minded.
-I need her to give me a big hug, tell me she loves me no matter what, and that she is happy we’re happy.
-She is sad, hostile, bitter, childish, and self-righteous.
-I refuse to have a conversation with her again where she tells me that J and I are like pedophiles, that our relationship is shit, and not worth celebrating. I refuse to be verbally abused.

Statement 1: she is not open-minded, tolerant, or accepting of different lifestyles
1. Is it true? Yes
2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true? No
3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? I feel victimized, left out, misunderstood, and marginalized
4. Who would you be without the thought? I would feel at peace with myself
Turn it around: I am not open-minded, etc (2 examples: I am not open-minded of how she has lived her life; I am not tolerant of people I see as bigots)

Statement 2: She was mean and hostile during our video chat
1. Is it true? Yes
2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true? No
3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? I feel sad and victimized
4. Who would you be without the thought? I would feel more amused and compassionate
Turn it around: I was hostile during our video chat (3 examples: I rolled my eyes; I felt attacked and communicated to protect my threatened sense of self; I raised my voice)

Statement 3: She hasn’t reached out to me since to talk or apologize
1. Is it true? Yes
2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true? Yes
—> In this instance, since I answered “Yes” to both questions, a follow up phrase that can help get at the underlying issue is to add “and it means that” to the original statement (there are other ways of doing this, including listing what “should” have happened, and making a list of the “proof” you have for your statement, and then continuing on). So I made this statement: She hasn’t reached out to me since to talk or apologize and it means that she doesn’t love me.
Then, I would answer the first question as No
3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? I feel depressed and mournful, like I am grieving
4. Who would you be without the thought? I would feel more peaceful
Turn it around: I haven’t reached out to her to talk or apologize (this is just as true as the original statement), and rewritten- I haven’t reached out to her to talk or apologize and it means that I don’t love her (I don’t feel like I like her very much right now, even though I do love her. So in a way this is true)

Statement 4: I want her to be more open-minded.
1. Is it true? Yes
2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true? No
3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? I feel desperate.
4. Who would you be without the thought? I would feel more relaxed in myself
Turn it around: I want to be more open-minded (2 examples: I want to unconditionally accept her; I want to reach out to her)

Statement 5: She should be loving, self-aware, and communicative. She should not be self-righteous or so closed-minded.
1. Is it true? Yes
2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true? No- she is how she is
3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? I feel sad and victimized.
4. Who would you be without the thought? I would be more at peace
Turn it around: I should be loving, self aware, and communicative. I should not be self-righteous or closed-minded (2 examples: I haven’t been loving towards her in my mind; I have been self-righteous and feeling superior and “more evolved” than her)

Statement 6: I need her to give me a big hug, tell me she loves me no matter what, and that she is happy we’re happy.
1. Is it true? No- that’s not reality
3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? I feel sad and lonely and invalidated.
4. Who would you be without the thought? I would feel complete
Turn it around: I need me to give me a big hug and tell me I love me no matter what, and that I’m happy we’re happy (Ex: I haven’t been very self-compassionate or loving to myself, and instead of have been critical of myself)

Statement 7: She is sad, hostile, bitter, childish, and self-righteous.
1. Is it true? No- I don’t really know how she is
3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? I feel sad for her and sad for myself.
4. Who would you be without the thought? I would have space to focus on myself
Turn it around: I am sad, hostile, bitter, childish, and self-righteous (3 examples: I have had more anxiety and periods of depression the past couple of years; I feel bitter and hostile towards her; I act childishly when I feel threatened by snapping, interrupting, etc)

Statement 8: I refuse to have a conversation with her again where she tells me that J and I are like pedophiles, that our relationship is shit, and not worth celebrating. I refuse to be verbally abused.
Turn it around: I look forward to being verbally abused. I welcome being verbally abused.

Byron Katie likes to say that you don’t let go of thoughts; thoughts let go of you. I did this Work a few days ago, and ever since, I have been feelings so much more relaxed and peaceful about the situation with J’s mom. It’s really amazing. Clearly, I can’t adequately cover her entire book in my blog post, and so I can’t recommend her stuff enough (her website is here, which includes a lot of free resources).

What I am finding difficult is using this method in the moment of feeling threatened, angry, hurt, etc. Before or after the fact it is still an impressive way of investigating unexamined thoughts, but I am striving to use it in the moment to help thoughts pass that used to bring about a lot of upset.

I love how The Power of Now and Loving What Is complement one another. While TPN is about spiritual enlightenment, LWI is about a technique for practicing inquiry- both are about living in the moment, and observing thoughts and feelings without attaching to them needlessly and inflicting self-harm and pain. I highly recommend both to people looking to move beyond thought and emotional patterns that cause stress, worry, anxiety, anger, frustration, panic, sadness, etc.

Intimate Relationships Map Updated

So funny that before I published my post on intimate relationships map I caught a few different errors I had made, and since I posted it, there have been a couple other things that I realized I messed up (one I realized, another that was brought to my attention). Clearly, all of this is pretty complicated and a dynamic part of life.

The things I added are in the upper right part of the diagram:

Romantic relationships
Nonsexual romantic relationships
Nonsexual nonromantic intimate friendships

And, obviously any orientation can hook up into these relationships depending on relationship and personal boundaries (dating, solo poly, partnered poly, monogamous-oriented, don’t ask/don’t tell, etc).

I think you can click on the image to make it bigger 🙂


Intimate Relationships Maps

Have you seen this map before?



Here is my reinterpretation, albeit not as pretty 🙂 I don’t particularly like the value judgements in the map above (assuming codependency only happens in monogamous relationships, only depicting empty marriages as monogamous ones- I think any of that can happen regardless of the relationship structure you are in), and I also was a little confused as to why celibacy (which has to do with sexual behavior) was included in the map, when other sexual behaviors were not (kinks, BDSM, etc) (although J did point out that for some who choose celibacy it is about an intimate relationship with themselves or god). I also totally know that my map below is not exhaustive either 🙂


How do you map out intimate relationships?