Monday, January 30, 2012

Cabin Fever!

I'm sick. The antibiotics I'm on knocked me out more than the sickness... so, I've spent the last two days barely moving from my couch. This is how I feel about it:

Many years ago. Still a kid. Zack (little bro - I'm guessing like nine-ish at the time) decided he could NOT go to school that day. His diagnosis: cabin fever, and it was darn right ludicrous to think that a kid could go to school with cabin fever. My mom conceded, and all five of us stayed home.

We spent a good portion of the day memorizing this song. It was awesome, and STILL one of my favorite memories.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

I've been made aware I have a kidney/I think funny

I got to visit with a very nice doctor today.
It turns out I have a kidney infection. I pretty much knew that before I met with the nice man. Two weeks ago, I couldn't have told you where exactly the kidney is located. I sure could now.

Sitting in the doctor's office, I felt anxious.
I was aware of one source: They expect me to lay down on my back and let Dr. Dude touch me. That causes some panic.

I was not aware of the rest of it until he started asking me questions.

Pain here? Yes.
Pain there? Yes.
Nausea? Yes.
Fever? Yes.
Energy level? I just want to sit on the couch and not move.
Have you done that? No.
You've had these symptoms for a week? Yes. Yes I have. 

What was going through my head as he was asking?
"I've already peed in the cup. He KNOWS there's nothing wrong with me. He thinks I'm being dramatic, I'm weak, I can't handle a little bit of normal pain. He's wondering why I even came here..."

And then he told me I have a kidney infection. The urine sample let him know I had an infection. It turns out he asked the other questions NOT because he thought I was weak, but because he wanted to know how bad the infection was. He wanted to know how much antibiotics I would need to get rid of it.

Oh. I think funny.

I was afraid of being a hypochondriac. I was afraid I was being weak - that I could have just taken care of this myself. This isn't the first time I've had to say to myself (or others have had to say to me):

"You're so afraid of being THAT extreme that you are the other extreme." 

You'd think I'd be used to this kind of realization, but I'm not. It still catches me off guard and strikes me as funny... One day. One day, I'll find the middle and I'll be comfortable there.

***Unrelated except for that it happened at the doctor's office:
They put me on the scale today. First time I've been on a scale in several years. Interesting to note, my weight hasn't changed. It is still right where it was when the dietitian gave me the thumbs up. There is a remnant of the voice that says, "That's not the right number!" (There was a time when it wouldn't have mattered WHAT the number was, it would have been too big and too small all at the same time.) That voice is quieter today. Much quieter, and far less persistent than it used to be. Mostly, I don't even care. It really has become just another number that doesn't mean anything to me. Which is awesome.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Happy Winter!

I felt like sharing pictures of my house, so I am:
This was a few days ago. It was foggy, and the fog froze on everything. EVERYTHING was completely coated.

It's kind of magical.

My favorite.

Cool. Huh?

This all slid off in the afternoon, so I only got to see this coolness for a few hours. (Incidentally, the neighbors barn and yard look like a painting. I live in a beautiful place!)

"Jen, where's the grain??? The hay is fine, but we want GRAIN."
I was out. I forgot to buy more. They hung out waiting for a while...

Oh, and aren't Sunny's spots cool?? He only has those in the winter. (Sunny's the palomino. Bo, the paint, has those spots year round. :) )

Monday, January 23, 2012

I read a book, and I loved it: Dancing with Crazy

I just finished the book Dancing with Crazy.

Emily opens the book standing in front of a mirror in the temple. She looks at her own reflections and asks the questions, "How and when had I so willingly and completely abdicated the throne of my own life? And much more importantly why? When had I vanished into thin air?"

The rest of the book explains the life events, teachings, ideas, thoughts, etc, that got her to that decision... and then continues her story from there.

She reminded me of my friend Teffy. You could put the two of them in a room together, and they'd tell tragic, traumatic and horribly sad stories, and they'd have you rolling on the floor laughing until you pee. I don't know how they do it.

Big moments in the book for me:
Her panic and fear of all the people who were going to be burned in the last day. She was TERRIFIED that her friends would suffer.
I had panic attacks and fear of the second coming from the earliest I can remember. I was afraid to watch people suffer - I hoped I would be dead before Christ came, because maybe I wouldn't see all the suffering. The idea of being lifted up on a cloud while the "wicked" burned made me sick. I thought it would be far better to be burned than to sit and watch.

Her fear of evil spirits.
I was convinced my evil spirits had been my best friends. I knew them. I loved them, and now I couldn't decide if I was supposed to save them or run from them... I was so afraid of doing or thinking anything even slightly "wrong", because I was terrified of the devil and his minions. I felt them all around me. All the time. There was actually a ward fast once to help cast out the evil spirits within me. The fast didn't work, but finally just letting go of the fear and the guilt that had driven me my whole life - that got rid of all of them. None of them have bothered me for a couple of years.

The way she thought about herself, her body, and sex... And how she came to know WHY she felt that way... and the healing that she had to go through.
At this point in the book, I turned to BJ. I thanked him for just being with me while I curled up on the floor. In INTENSE pain. For hours and hours a day for months and months. NO sleep. No relief. I could have done it alone, and I think I would have...AND It was sure nice having someone there.

Her eating disorder.
She never uses the words, "eating disorder", but I have spent many months in treatment for starving myself for the very same reasons she starved herself. She wanted to die, but she wasn't allowed to kill herself, but maybe... If she just stopped eating, "God would be so kind as to take me home."

Her depression. And the way she pushed through it, so that most of the time, nobody really even know how desperately she longed for death.

Her feelings about the priesthood and blessings...
WHAT A RELIEF that I wasn't the only one that was a blessing junky, and for the same reasons. I can't know if my thoughts are from God or Satan, but if I get a blessing, they are speaking for God... I can trust these mens' voices over my own. Except when I know what they are saying just isn't right... How do I reconcile that? And then one day realizing that I don't NEED a man to put his hands on my head to tell me what to do. I KNOW what I need, who I am, and what step to take next. I don't believe in priesthood blessings anymore, and that is a HUGE relief. (Except that I do believe there is power in belief and power in touch, and combine the two there IS a power.)

Her reasons for getting married. Her reasons for dating. Her reasons for every decision:
I spent my whole life trying to get people to love me, because I didn't love me, and I needed to feel loved. Neither one of us was strong enough to protect ourselves from some pretty awful predators, so we were hurt over and over and over... until... one day... we each just figured it out.

I loved so much about this book. My favorite line was at the end of the book.
"You are a part of me and I am a part of you. There is no distinction between us. You already live in my heart and there is nothing you can ever do to change that. You can never be separate from me. Ever. It's impossible, And by the way, if you still insist on knowing who your eternal companion is, well guess what? 
It's you."

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Elizabeth Gilbert: Thoughts on creativity... and marriage.

A friend shared this with me, and I love it.

As a side note, I never read Eat, Pray, Love, but I did read Committed (the follow-up to her freakishly successful book), and I loved it. I read it when I was first trying to define relationships and love... She gave me a ton to think about. She thought outside of the box I was raised in, which helped me to really decide what I thought and what I felt.

I find myself repeating ideas from her book often.
"There is hardly a more gracious gift that we can offer somebody than to accept them fully, to love them."
The following is a quote at the end of the chapter where she talks about Marriage and Expectations. She was interviewing the Hmong women. She asked them a ton of questions about their husbands and marriage, and they didn't understand her questions. One woman finally told her that there was no such thing as a "good husband" or a "bad husband"... There were just husbands and wives and marriages. Everything just is.
"We Americans often say that marriage is 'hard work.' I'm not sure the Hmong would understand this notion. Life is hard work, of course and WORK is very hard work - I'm quite certain they would agree with those statements - but how does marriage become hard work? Here's how: Marriage becomes hard work once you have poured the entirety of your life's expectations for happiness into the hands of one mere person. Keeping that going is hard work....
This is exactly what I myself have expected in the past from love and this is what I was now preparing to expect all over again with Felipe - that we should somehow be answerable for every aspect of each others' joy and happiness. That our very job description as spouses was to be each others' everything.
So I had always assumed, anyhow.
And so I might have gone on blithely assuming, except that my encounter with the Hmong had knocked me off course in one critical regard: For the first time in my life, it occurred to me that perhaps I was asking too much of love. Or, at least, perhaps I was asking too much of marriage. Perhaps I was loading a far heavier cargo of expectation onto the creaky old boat of matrimony than that strange vessel had ever been built to accommodate in the first place."
This second quote is a BIG one for me. WHY is marriage (and love and relationships) "hard work"?
Because we have so many expectations of what the other person should be. Because we have so many expectations of how the relationship should look. Because we want that other person to be everything for us, so we put our happiness in their hands, and they put it their happiness in ours... It's a lot of work to be responsible for someone else's happiness.

It isn't nearly as hard to be responsible for my happiness... To take care of myself... and then to just enjoy time spent with those I love. No expectations. (I always need to say the following though, because sometimes when I start telling myself not to have expectations, I think that means take whatever shit the other person dishes out... But that's not what I'm saying... There is always the ability to redefine and change the relationship, and even leave it behind if it is not a healthy place to be.)

I don't think relationships are hard work... unless the hard work is that everyday I seek to know and love myself... to learn all that I can about me... that's hard. That sucks sometimes, but it is so much easier than the "hard" I experienced in relationships in the past... Being abused and hurt and trying to control others, which in turn hurt them... THAT was hard. THAT hurt.

This wasn't exactly where I was planning on going with this post... I just really liked watching the video of Liz Gilbert, and that got me thinking about the book, and I wanted to share what I'd learned from it... I think it's way cool that I read the book years ago, and many of the thoughts she expressed have now become a part of me. That is the awesomeness of books!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Argh. Still working at this boundary stuff.

I hesitate to write this, because... well, I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, but the thing is... that's kind of why I need to. I'm so damn scared of hurting people's feelings that I just keep on trying to take care of them in obnoxious ways that make me crazy. hmmmph.

The past few weeks, I've branched out. Spent more time with new friends. It's cool.

Here's the struggle I'm running in to:
I get to a point where I'm done, and I want to go home, but I can't figure out how to say that... So I stay. The biggest downside to that is then when someone invites me out again, I feel anxious and don't want to go. Lacking the ability to say what I want, makes me feel trapped... which makes me want to go spend time with the horses who demand nothing from me...

This problem is miniscule compared to the way I used to be, and... it's still the same problem I have always had. I feel like it's my job to take care of everyone else's feelings. I feel like in order to be nice and kind, I can't express what I want. I have to stay far longer than I want to, because the other people need me. (How arrogant can a person be? These are all fairly healthy, well-adjusted adults, and I think I have to take care of them?? Me!?! I'm cool, but really... THAT cool? no.) I'm afraid of what people will think and feel if I don't do what I think they want...

So, although staying at a friend's house longer than I wanted to stay isn't a real big deal, I want better. I want to enjoy the time I spend with friends. I want to go out and feel comfortable knowing that I can take care of myself. I will not put myself in situations where I am being drained or depleted... Which really, when I feel trapped, no matter how GOOD the experience could be, I feel depleted and tired afterward.

Here's my goal, and the way I will challenge myself.
For the next few times (or as many times as it takes) I hang out, I will decide on a time in advance that I will be done. If I want to change that later, because I'm having a really good time, I can do that, but really... I'm thinking it will be important to stick to it as closely as possible for a while. I will tell the people I am hanging out with when I will be done, and I think I will probably even tell them why, and ask for help:

"I'm working on setting and keeping really clear boundaries. The way I am doing that is deciding when I am going to be done hanging out in advance, and then sticking to it... Today, I want to be done at 9 pm, so that is when I am going to be leaving. Would you mind helping me with this goal?"

I don't actually need or expect their help, but by asking for it, I'll be able to help myself better... and even now, I feel anxious at the thought. Which probably means this is going to be really good for me.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Mitt Romney says I'm just envious... How can I argue with that?

Saw this video this morning... I don't get involved in politics a lot... mostly because I think that anyone who wants to be president, and has the money and influence to do so is completely out of touch with reality. We have created a system where the elite run the country. Even those that think they are in touch with the "lower class"... aren't. They can't be.

But this video, and the way he talks, and the things he says... GRRR!

There's so much wrong with what he is saying, I'm not even sure where to begin...

Yep. I'm envious. It has been HARD to work as much as I have, as hard as I have, and still have very little to show for it. I'm envious of the fact that if something happens, I have no medical insurance, and I'm just out of luck. I made the decision to work for a small company that can't provide insurance, and I suppose you could say it's my choice... but I'm jealous of those that don't even have to THiNK about such choices.

I don't want HIS money, or to take his lifestyle... It would just be nice if I didn't have to worry about things because I had enough. (And I also recognize, I am incredibly wealthy compared to the rest of the world, and even the country. I rent a room that includes a roof over my head in a beautiful community. I drive a car, granted it IS held together by duct tape, but it runs. I eat when I'm hungry, and I can talk on my cell phone.  All things that not everyone has.)

So, Mitt... if you want to dismiss my experience by saying, "It's just envy," you can do that. But I won't. I want change. So, I won't just talk about it in "quiet" or in "private places" where no change can happen. I will shout. Loudly if I have to, because that is how change happens...

And I promise, because you think and say things like this, I won't be voting for you. This is not the first time I have seen you be dismissive, invalidating, and well... downright silly. (When you are trying to get people to vote for you, that is not a good time to tell THEM how they should listen to you... you want to represent THEM, but have them shut up and listen to your yammering. Does that make sense in YOUR head??)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Liebster Blog Award

Thanks Angie for nominating me for the Liebster Blog Award.

I feel especially honored, because it's Angie. Who I love dearly. And respect a lot. And she's written a book. (That's actually how I first found her blog, and her. I found the book, Above the Clouds. It was about a person leaving the church and getting out of an abusive relationship and a woman finding herself. And I felt less alone, and I asked her to come visit my blog and share her thoughts, and then I started reading her blog, and we started chatting and then we met for lunch and she's taught me SO much, and I love her, and I know this is a horrible run on sentence, but it's how the thoughts flew out of my head.)

Blogging has been amazing for me. I found my voice. I told my stories. I read other people's stories. I learned from them. I wrote more. It's amazing (and fascinating) to me that I can read what someone across the globe thinks about. Professional writers, stay-at-homes, crazy crackpots, travelers, and those who never leave their basement. Everyone gets an equal forum to write what they think. It's both deeply personal and incredibly public.

I hate having to pick just FIVE blogs. Only five?

These first two were invaluable to me when I was leaving the church. 
Kiley expressed her anger without attacking. She talked about her journey in a very insightful and intensely personal way. I felt so much relief when I found her blog.

Macha thought about things and wrote about things that I was scared to think about. She was (is) intense in her passions. She made me think, and I appreciate that. I also felt a lot of support from her comments on my blog.

Julie writes incredible stuff about loving our bodies, the media, and she is very insightful. I used to follow her blog all the time, but thought she had stopped blogging... I went to go find the link to nominate her, and guess what?!? She is blogging, and it's good stuff, and now I need to read it ALL! (How did I miss her coming back??)

PTSD and Me wrote about his experiences with PTSD. I found his blog in 2008, and it helped SO MUCH. I found a label for the "seizures" I was having at night. All night long, my body would seize up and shake and EVERY muscle in my whole body would contract. Sometimes they came with flashbacks, but sometimes not. I felt less alone when I found his blog. In some ways, he gave me the strength to keep on going... If he could survive PTSD, I could too. He doesn't blog much anymore - he wasn't blogging much when I found his blog. I'm just grateful he left it there for people like me to find.

I also really appreciate the peacewriter (for being a place to talk about all sides of things... lots of different and wonderful voices there), Pure Mormonism (for being willing to be different... active Mormon, and questioning...), Ordinary Courage (for being perfectly imperfect and vulnerable. STRONGLY recommend Brene's book.,  and Single Dad Laughing (for being willing to be a normal guy who just talks... about stuff...), and a bunch of others, but... I feel good that I got it down to eight. I better stop, because a second ago, that said, "At least I got it down to seven," and it went UP to twelve at one point.

For those of you who have received this award, your mission (should you choose to accept it), is to pass on the love.

The Rules are:
1. Show your thanks to the blogger who gave you the award by linking back to them.
2. Reveal your top 5 picks for the award and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3. Post the award on your blog.
4. Bask in the love from the most supportive people on the blogsphere – other bloggers.
5. And, best of all – have fun and spread the karma.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Dieting is out: Intuitive eating is way cooler!

I've had a few people ask me to explain Intuitive Eating... I sort of suck at it... (Though, I think my friend "Forealya" said it best, "Intuitive eating is kinda like normal eating.")

Here is a link from the Center for Change that explains it in more detail.

Dieting Failure:
"Most people blame themselves and their “lack of willpower” for their diet failures. In reality, diet failure can be attributed to the body responding to hunger and the body's state of semistarvation or starvation. The body and mind react to a diet in the same way they would to starvation. In starvation, the body's metabolism decreases, and cravings increase. This is the set up for diet failure. Metabolism naturally slowing down during starvation is the body's attempt to conserve energy. A decrease in metabolism means the body is burning calories at a slower rate. Also while on a diet, the mind becomes preoccupied with thoughts of food and cravings intensify, especially for foods that will provide quick energy, like sweets. Eventually, it is too difficult to fight nature. People can't remain on diets forever and when dieters terminate their diet efforts, it is common for overeating to ensue. Overeating and even “normal eating” with a suppressed metabolism will cause the weight that was lost to come back. The failure rate of dieting (95%) is so high, not because people aren't good enough or strong enough but because our bodies were designed to fight weight loss."
I hesitated to put the above quote, because... well... as a person with an eating disorder, I read things like "people can't remain on diets forever", and TRIED. Even though my eating disorder was never about losing weight... It was about willpower, punishing myself, not deserving to live... but I took the fact that I COULD starve myself forever as a sign that I had more power over my body than the average person. (SO messed up, but I thought that way.)

Intuitive Eating:
"Intuitive eating (also known as “Normal Eating” or “Mindful Eating”) teaches individuals how to look inside themselves and listen to internal cues. It also provides guidance on how to form a healthy relationship with food. It is an anti-diet approach to eating. There are no rules to break and no temptations to resist. Intuitive eating, unlike dieting and meal planning, is not a set up for failure."
Intuitive eating was HARD. I thought I needed rules... without rules and without EXTERNAL control, I would fail. Only... it was the external control that made life miserable. I wanted to live my life. Intuitive eating was a step in finding the way to trust myself, follow my own internal guide. I no longer need anyone to tell me what to eat... or how to live.

Mindful Eating:
"Checking in during various times throughout the meal can also help us to be mindful while eating. We can ask questions like:
  • Where is my hunger/fullness level?
  • Am I enjoying this food?
  • What would make my eating experience more pleasurable in this moment?
  • Would I rather be eating something else?
  • Am I staying present while I am eating, or is my mind wandering around?
  • What external things influenced my food choices today?
  • How can I reconnect to the internal signals my body is giving me?"
I'd say these questions have completely changed the way I look at food. It's AWESOME!
A few weeks ago, I had the stomach flu. I don't own a scale, but I could tell I had lost weight after not keeping food down for several days. When I finally started feeling better, I noticed I was very hungry... For several days, there were so many foods that tasted really good. There were several foods that I don't normally like that I craved, so I ate them. There is no doubt in my mind that my body sent me the signals I needed to get it back to a healthy place.

There was a time, that that natural compensation would have scared me. I would have felt out of control, it was cool to be aware of what was happening and to appreciate it. (I'd be lying if I said there wasn't a few moments where I felt anxiety.)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Emotional Vocabulary

I just found this page. The whole thing was SO helpful.

I appreciate the way she talks about anger: If you have too little of it, you won't protect yourself, and if you have too much you'll offend against the rights of others.

I appreciate her insights on fear: If you can work with your fear, you can understand when it is healthy and appropriate, and when it is repetitive and unhelpful to you. It's important to have a good relationship with fear.

Insights on happiness:
"Each of your emotions has a specific purpose and a specific place in your life. One of the biggest tricks to learn with happiness is to let it come and go — and to not treat it as better or more important than your other emotions. Every emotion has its place.
If you treat happiness as your go-to emotion, you’ll suffer unnecessarily when your other emotions arise. You need anger, fear, sadness, jealousy, envy, guilt, grief, shame, and even depression (etc.) at times. If all you know and all you want is happiness, you’ll tend to avoid, ignore, suppress, or mistreat your other emotions, and then guess what? You won’t be happy very often."
Insights on sadness: It clears away things that don’t work so that you can make changes in your life and make room for things that do work for you. What a great gift!

I also really appreciated the pdf download. There was a time in my life when I carried a sheet like that around with me, so that I could learn what each emotion was and how I experienced it.

She says a lot more, and a lot better than I can, so go check it out?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Emotional Intimacy

I heard a quote the other day:

"How do you know when you are being emotionally intimate with another person? 
When you feel anxious and afraid of how the other person will react to what you are sharing, that is when you are being emotionally intimate."

That kind of blew my mind. It's been rumbling around in my head for several days now.

In my post a few days ago, I talked about how intimacy requires saying what you mean to say. Being honest about anger, pain, love, happiness... I talked about how afraid I was to talk about my anger and my pain. I was afraid of getting hurt. Sometimes, literally PHYSICALLY hurt. I was also afraid of being criticized, demeaned, or humiliated. I was afraid of the things I said being used against me at a later date. I was afraid of so many things, so I kept my anger and pain to myself. I thought for so long that I didn't deserve to be treated with kindness and respect if I wasn't doing everything everyone wanted me to do, and that feeling and belief drove my fear... which kept me from expressing... well... anything.

I like this new idea of what intimacy is... It makes so much sense to me...
Saying, "no", requires more trust (for me) than doing what the other person asks of me.
And thinking about the people that I like having in my life: They accept my boundaries. When I say, "No," they don't push me. They are still kind to me and treat me with respect even when I don't do everything they want me to do. It would be IMPOSSIBLE to have an intimate relationship if it wasn't safe for me to be honest... say no; I don't like that; I don't want that; please don't... Completely impossible to have any level of intimacy if "No" is not an option.

Argh! Even now, I hear voices from other people telling me, "It is selfish."
I hear myself saying, "It's no big deal. I can handle it."
Or the fear of retribution from some... the ones who don't understand what a healthy relationship is... thinking that it is okay to respond with hurtful words or actions if I don't do what they want.

But I go back to what I would want for those that I care about. I would want them to be respected. I wouldn't think it was selfish of them to take care of themselves... in reality... seeing others stand up for themselves and take care of themselves has created many beautiful friendships.  (My FAVORITE moment with BJ, "I'm going to take care of myself. I'm going to do what I want, and if you don't like it, then FUCK YOU!" At the time, I resisted the urge to smile... I didn't want to ruin the moment. It felt AWESOME! Loved seeing that he could and would stand up for himself... even "against" me... That was hard and scary for him to say: Completely goes against HIS need to please everyone... which is probably a big reason we became such good friends. He trusted me, and I responded in a way that showed I knew him and I respected him.)
 I wouldn't want them to force themselves to do things they don't want to do because "It's not big deal."
And I hope that if I ever say or do hurtful things, they would get themselves away from me to a safe place. I don't want to hurt anyone.

Respecting boundaries doesn't mean that they don't share feelings. If I say, "No. I don't want to spend the day with you," then a healthy response (if it's true) would be, "I feel sad and disappointed. I really wanted to spend the day with YOU." I respect their feelings and don't try to change what they are feeling... they respect my feelings and don't try to change what I am feeling... I share what I need to share, and I allow others the freedom to respond in the way that is truest to them. (And as always, if their response is abusive, I can let them know, I can choose not to be around them, or any option... I always have the freedom to get out of a situation that is harmful or toxic to me.)

Still learning. Still exploring. Still thinking.
What are YOUR thoughts on this idea of intimacy??

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

August 2010: My commandments for a healthy relationship

I was looking through my journal tonight... August 8, 2010... I wrote this...
Just felt like sharing it today.

Spent the day at the LDS gift show. A whole bunch of products to promote the ideals of the church.
My "favorite" was a plaque:
"Commandments of a Happy Marriage"
1. Thou shalt always remember that thy marriage is a partnership between thee and thy spouse and the Lord. For in knowing this, thou wilt have the strength, courage, and determination to conquer all challenges that may come into thy marriage.
2. Thou shalt cleave unto thy spouse and let not thine eyes wander, nor do anything like unto it. For it is through fidelity and commitment that thou shalt find confidence and trust.
3. Thou shalt not be selfish with thy time, nor with thy money, nor with anything else that is thine. For in doing this thou shalt avoid resentment and find harmony.
4. Thou shalt remember that thy parents are good, but need to give thee space in thy marriage. For it is through relying upon each other that communication and unity is formed.
5. Thou shalt always remember to call thy spouse sweetheart, honey, or whatever else that makes them happy and to remember the little things. For it is through little acts of kindness that thou shalt find love and tenderness.
6. Thou shalt remember to always use kind words and cease to find fault with thy spouse. For in doing this thou shalt find peace.
7. Thou shalt enjoy each others company and remember to date often. For it is in spending time together that one truly gets to know their spouse and find intimacy.
8. Thou shalt add the words "I'm sorry" to thy vocabulary and use them often. For in doing this thou shalt melt down the barriers of anger and resentment and find mutual forgiveness.
9. Thou shalt recognize and acknowledge the desires, efforts and accomplishments of thy spouse. For in this thou shalt find appreciation and gratitude for one another.
10. Thou shalt live within thy means and learn the difference between wants and needs. For in doing this thou shalt avoid needless stress and find contentment.
I got angry. Angry enough that I finally wrote down what I want and my boundaries for my relationships. Not just marriage. ALL relationships. (This has been a therapy assignment for more than two years now... I just couldn't figure out what to write , or what to think, or how to think.)

My commandments for a HEALTHY relationship
I am free to come and go in this relationship as I feel the need. If the relationship is no longer healthy for me, I will leave. I am free. I am mine.
The relationship must be able to "stand on its own". I will not eliminate the things I love to make this relationship the "best" one. I will have many friends. I will have my own hobbies.
I will choose who my friends will be. (I will not be in a relationship where someone else tells me who my friends can and cannot be.)
I will talk about what I want, when I want, and to whom I want. (I will NOT keep secrets! I have the right to choose what and when I share with you also.)
I have the right to say no to any request, at any time for any reason... so do you.
I will take care of my needs. I expect you to take care of yours.
My body is mine. Period. I choose when and what I share with you. Every time.
I will be honest about my thoughts, feelings, and who I am. I expect the same from you.
When I'm feeling hurt, angry, or sad, I will talk to you.
When I'm feeling happy, grateful, or loving, I will talk to you.
I am not your honey, your sweetheart, your anything. Please call me by name.
I am me. I will always try to be the best me I can be. Defined by me.
You are you. I expect you to be the best you, you can be. Defined by you.
Trust is something that must be earned. I do not have to give it freely.
I know these go against everything I have ever been taught... They seem selfish and self-centered... But... THIS is how I plan to live. This is how I want the people I love to live.

Honesty is the most important part of this. Honest about the love I feel. The hurt I feel. Who I am. What I want. And the same kind of honesty from you. That is the only way.

Honesty and Freedom = Love

Monday, January 2, 2012

Bringing in the New Year!

It hasn't snowed yet. I live in Utah. It's January, and no snow!
(That makes me happy, but after last winter there being snow in the mountains from November - August, I think it's only fair that the snow wait a while to show up...)

I took advantage and spent all day Sunday riding Sunny.
And then I spent the afternoon on Monday riding.

Tuesday, the plan is to go fishing.

What a great way to start a new year.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Explain a little bit about who YOU are

I recently agreed to be a part of a panel on sexual abuse/self harm. They asked for two different "bios".

One that quickly glossed over the abuse and my self-harm/eating disorder history. That was hard to write. Seeing it all together in one story made it more... real... "Wow. All those things really happened to ONE person... and that one person was ME." I cried a lot after writing that.

The other was supposed to be, "something simple that explains a little bit about who YOU are"
I wrote one that read like a resume: I have a Bachelor's degree in Sociology, this is where I work, and where I have worked and volunteered in the past, and listed a few things I love like horses, fishing, and reading.

I felt frustrated.
Frustration #1: It was many years ago that I did speaking for eating disorder awareness... (I even got to be interviewed by 20/20 once.) My "recovery" story was all about college, married, active in church, future children, blah, blah, blah... I don't feel "successful" enough as I try to explain "who I am".

And now, I am remembering what life was actually like when I was a speaker.  I was the kind of recovery speaker that I hate! I stood up there and talked about how happy and successful I was, but my life was hell. That probably explains why I hate recovery speakers... I don't trust them to say how it actually is, because I didn't.

If I had been honest it would have gone something like, "I'm in college, taking 22 credits a semester, because I need to stay busy or I'll go crazy.  I'm also trying to get done as quickly as possible, so then maybe I only have to work one job to support my husband, so I can have kids one day. I haven't even thought about if I WANT kids, but I'm going to have them, so I can prove that I am a good person... I hate sex, but he forces himself on me every single night. It really hurts, and I cry, but he gets it done quickly, so it could be worse... He tells me I'm fat and disgusting on a regular basis, but I still eat my dinner, because I know that if I don't, that will make people really upset with me. I will never go back to the eating disorder, but I really hate my body. Sometimes I get "too busy to eat". He likes me better when I do that: Tells me I look really great, and I feel confused. How do I please him by looking like I have an eating disorder without actually having one? I wish I could just give up, but I won't, because I know God needs me to do something big... And although I think about dying every single day, I'm happy. I must be happy, because I'm doing everything I'm supposed to be doing...  And well.. If you just go to therapy, and eat your dinner, you too can have this life." 

I'm shaking my head at myself.

There's still a part of me that wants to be able to say I am a picture of perfection: Master's degree, married, ten kids, house, hubs with a good job, active in the church, active volunteer in lots of different organizations, and there's probably more I'd love to add to the list... except that is not the life *I* want. If I were to tell my "recovery story" today, it would be so much MORE powerful, because it's real, and I am living MY life... just the way I want it... and isn't that more like "recovery" than anything I have EVER had?!?!? Yes. Yes it is. I tried to live the "picture of perfection" life, and I was miserable.

Frustration #2: I, Jen, am NOT my degree or my job, or even the places I've volunteered. That's not ME... but I live in a world that values degrees and jobs and achievements... (I live in Utah, so having kids is sometimes seen as an achievement; a sign that you are successful at something. Often, it's the only achievement that matters for a woman, but until you have kids, a successful career is an acceptable substitution.) Other people use their accomplishments to describe who they are. Does that mean I have to do that? If I'm not my degree or my job, then how do I write a bio that explains who I am?

Who am I? What is important to me? What do I want you to know about me?
I'm the oldest of five kids, although none of us are "kids" now. I love being a big sister: spending time with my siblings is some of the best spent time in the whole world. I could spend hours telling stories about them: the things they've accomplished, thought, felt, done and shared with me. They are a big part of who I am.

I love learning. I have a degree in Sociology, but my most valuable education has come from the people I have met and the books I have read. I love a good discussion. It's hard for me to do small talk - I'd rather dive in and talk about YOU. I really enjoy writing and I love reading. I spend a lot of time in the blogging world. And books. If you came to my house, the first thing you'd see in the living room is the bookshelf. It's full, and I have three more boxes of books under my bed. I have been shaped by the books I read. Right now I'd say the book that has made the biggest difference in my life is Tao of Equus, partially because it lead me to so many other amazing books. I also love anything by Miguel Ruiz. It's hard for me to pick just one or two books though, so tomorrow I might tell you something completely different.

I am passionate about GLBT and women's rights. It is also important to me to talk about all kinds of abuse. I believe the only way to change is to educate, so I speak up as much as I can.

I love music. I play the piano and the violin. There is something magical about playing in an orchestra. I love how all of the different parts come together to make music.

I love outdoors, nature and animals, especially horses. I've been all over the mountains on horseback. I think the best feeling in the world is to be in the mountains, on the back of a horse, running as fast as he can run. I also enjoy just sitting in the pasture being near horses. Sometimes I feel like I fit better with horses than with people. I also enjoy hiking and fly-fishing (catch and release only). I recently moved to (little town in the mountains). I have horses in the backyard, a wrap-around porch, I work from home, and I'm five minutes to the river.

That's me. What else do you want to know?