Posts Tagged ‘gratitude’

Another interesting meta-phrase, “I miss you.”  Was talking about this with a friend who was feeling particularly lonely and said those words.  Followed by something to the effect that saying so seemed needy, didn’t it?

Now, let me go back to the truth that communication is never as clear-cut as we would like it to be.  I say something, or write something, or even move my body and the first thing that happens, even before I do any of those things, is that my mind considers my purpose, my audience, what I know of that audience, and what kinds of response I have received in similar situations with others and with the intended audience.  All of these filters come together to help me choose the way I convey my message.  And then my message hits your filters.  I can say ‘your’ in this case, since you (whoever you are) are reading this.  And those same filters come into play, except from your perspective.  So, really, do we ever communicate exactly what we want to communicate?  Ah, too big a question for me!

But back to ‘I miss you.”  I have a pretty standard overall feeling about the receiving of that meta-phrase.  It’s a compliment.  It says, “You are important to me.  I want to spend time with you.  I enjoy your company.  You bring me joy.”  Why else would we miss? As the receiver,  ‘I miss you’ are words that I enjoy hearing.  It makes me think about the giver and often spurs me to find a way to make more real time with them.  Because, honestly, I miss them too.

But now to the perspective of the ‘sender’.  I think that all of the above apply in any situation of saying, “I miss you.”  But emotional state is a big factor.  When we are doing something that we know the other person would love, we might give them an ‘I miss you,’ because we want them to have that fun experience.  Or when we’re doing something that we think we would enjoy more if that person were there, we can have an ‘I miss you’ moment.  Both of those are happy and celebratory of that person. 

But when we’re feeling low and/or sad, it’s a natural tendency to think about what external things would make us happy.  Often it’s a good friend or lover.  Connecting then and letting them know you miss them feels weak or wrong or needy because we’re not in great shape.  But really, let’s look at that.  The people who are important in our lives are important because we can turn to them.  Because they support us through everything – the good and the bad.  And to recognize that – they’ve helped us feel good, shared their joy –  to want that when we are down, isn’t that normal? 

What a gift to give someone!  You enhance my life.  Thinking about you makes me smile and right now, I could use a smile.  I miss you.  I would feel better than I do right now, if you were here.  It would help me get out of my own way.  Telling someone you miss them is not a demand for time or attention.   In this case, it’s an acknowledgement of not feeling good and one possible solution.  It’s still a celebration of that person.

Okay, so, ‘I miss you’ has been sent, it has been received and now the reaction.  This is where needy, greedy, happy, grateful – judgements come in. 

As I have been writing this, I’ve been thinking of anther friend who has just gone through a really sad break-up.  It came as a surprise to her and she has had a hard time really believing.  Her ex would probably even say that the deluge of texts, e-mails, snail mails, etc. would amount to stalking.  And every one of those communications had some form of  ‘I miss you.’ 

So, as I’m writing this, I’m also thinking about that, and what I’m writing is losing form and purpose, because I’m writing about people who care about one another, and who want to spend time together, but I’m writing as if my truths about this meta-phrase were universal and then I’m trying to accommodate the ‘I miss you’ that is not a reciprocated feeling.  so.

I think what I’ve come up with in my muddle is that I still believe ‘I miss you.’ is a compliment.  I still believe all of the things I have written about it.  Whether one takes the compliment or not, is up to them.  But the needy part, the part that feels ookie to the receiver is not the I miss you, but the rest of the message – “What is wrong with me? I can change.  Please come back.”  All there, although maybe not in those exact words.  We mix the compliment with the tragic lack of self-esteem and have that, “Ew!  Yuck!  Get away from me now!” feeling.

Remember when I talked about our filters?  I think we’ve all had the ‘I miss you’ around a lost partner or friend.  I know I have, and I’ve had the ‘I can change’ feeling too.  And I’ve communicated it.  I think that’s where my friend was coming from when she said something to the effect of ‘sounds kind of needy, doesn’t it?’  We start to associate missing someone with them not wanting to be around us.  So the more important someone is, the less we want to reveal that they are.  Because if you are important and I want to be around you, you are going to leave me because wanting you around (or to be around you) is needy.  And nobody likes needy or clingy.  How sad that our experiences can be so convoluted that we become guarded with our joy in each other. 

I know I’m just beginning to unlearn it.  It’s a part of an intentional life.  A life not ruled by fear.  And so to my very best friends, (and I know you’ll get this message) “I always miss you.  You help me be the best womon that I am, and you make me feel more alive.  I wish that I could spend so much more time with you because of who you are and who I am when I’m with you.  There is richness in our togetherness that I cannot find anywhere else and I carry it with me when we are apart.  I love you.”



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Been thinking about that three word phrase, “I love you.”  I know someone who doesn’t use it often, because, as she says, “‘love’ is one of those meta words that can mean different things to different people.”  She prefers to go straight to the detail, the aspect of love that would inspire an ‘I love you,’ and make comment on that. 

It used to bother me.  And honestly, sometimes it still does.  I like being told that I am loved.  I’ve been looking at the whys of that, and what saying ‘I love you’ means to me.  I totally agree that it has become a catch-all phrase, and sometimes I am guilty of using it that way myself.  As I become more linguistically aware, and more intentional about what I want to convey, I have also been examining what I mean when I use the meta phrase.

My truth is that ‘I love you’ has different meanings for me in different contexts.  In order to use that phrase with someone, I need to have a clear, defining conversation about what it means in connection to them.  This is something I am learning to do, and it is something that has made me stop in my tracks on the way to saying ‘I love you.’  I think that’s a good thing.

‘I love you’ is more than just an expression of strong feeling.  It is a promise, a commitment, an acknowledgment, an appreciation, and a sharing of joy.  Beautiful, “here is my truth about you,” joy.  It has no expectation of reciprocation in any form.

For some, it’s a bid for attention, a contract, a binder, and a softener of blows (“I love you, but…)  In other words, it is conditional and part of a power grab.  At its mildest, it’s a statement of insecurity (“Do you love me too?”)  At it’s most damaging, it is coercion, a non-consensual expectation of ways of relating.

I saved this blog entry to drafts because I didn’t have time to finish it, and recently told my lover about it.  It led to a really deep conversation about what we mean with ‘I love you.’  It was caring, and sweet, and unpacked baggage, and was really, really clear. 

One of the interesting things we discovered is how often ‘I love you’ means, ‘I’m grateful’ and ‘thank you.’ May we always be so lucky as to be blessed with appreciation and gratitude for each other first and foremost.  lifetimes

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I’ve been meaning to write for a while, but I simply have not had time.  But I’ve had this idea in my head, thoughts about the ways friendships develop, the care we have to give them, and the different values we assign to them.  I’ve been making some really awesome friends this year – womyn that I simply now cannot imagine not being a part of my life.

But I also have been discovering that everyone has different levels of personal privacy.  In areas that seem, on the surface, to have no reason for being private.  Innocuous comments illicit silence that cannot be explained.  For example, I was talking with one of my new friends about my book and I was explaing that I needed to beef up one storyline because I wanted to really emphasize the way that strong, capable womyn can sometimes get sucked into abusive relationships before they even really know they’ve gone there and then are too ashamed and consequently afraid to get help.  This is a friend that, while new, I thought I had a fair amount of intimate knowledge about.  We had shared some stuff that made both of us cry.  At the time of our conversation, I couldn’t really understand her non-reaction and our conversation about what I could do for my book kind of fizzled.  I certainly didn’t put it together with my lack of being able to figure out where she lived.  BTW, she’s not in a bad situation, it’s just that these simple things hit too close to home.  Too close to recent(ish) home.

I have another friend who simply tells half truths about herself as a matter of protection.  Everything she says is technically true, but very little she says is the way it really is.  She is afraid of intimacy and afraid that people who are interested in sharing time with her are really doing so, so that they can take what they learn about her and hurt her for their own amusement.  What makes our friendship difficult is that as we grow together, those half-truths must be revealed and it can be awkward.

At my age, and the age of my friends, we all carry baggage.  We’ve all been broken and hurt in some way or another.  When I experience this difference of communication and trust, it always sets me back a little.  To find out that my friends are more human than I realized sometimes makes me want to react before I think.  I try so hard to not live in reaction to fear and to relate with trust and love with my friends that sometimes I get a little hurt.  Then I have to go back and realize that a) it’s not about me and my friends are trying to take care of themselves, not hurt me; and b) when I accept and embrace their humanity, I stand a better chance of them accepting mine.  And while I know in my mind that really I am perfect and do everything in the best possible way, my friends may not agree about that.

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Okay, first off, I want to warn anyone who has been sexually abused that this is what this post is about.  I’ll put all that stuff further down, so you can decide whether or not you want to read it.

This past weekend, I went out with some friends to Freeport, Maine to a little yarn get together we like to call SPA.  I totally forget what that is an anacronym for.  But there was the obligatory marketplace and I was the obligatory shopper.  Lots of indie dyers and spinners!  I got me some bunny, and some alpaca, and a sweater’s worth of hand-dyed wool that is yummy!!!  I also got a few sock kits and I even won a doorprize!  It’s a book, Knitting With Beads, which coincidentally, I’ve been wanting to learn how to do.  I’ll post a picture here later.  It was good to go out with my ‘home’ friends.  I’ve been spending a lot of time either traveling or being visited and I have missed them.  It’s too easy to put local people off and expect that they’ll be available any old time.  That’s not always true, and they’re the ones who can be there for you in a pinch.   So, yeah, it was really, really nice.

Trigger- I don’t know if it’s a fact of age, or the cycles of life, but the things that impact us in a big way don’t tend to stay gone.  It’s true of the really great things – dreams we’ve had, adventures we’ve wanted to take, people we have lost touch with and found again.  We greet these returns with joy and wonder, ” Why did I ever let that go?”

But the hard things also circle back.  And then we’re more like, “I thought I had dealt with this!  Why is it coming back now?   I thought I had healed.”  Some of my friends and I seem to be looking at our hard stuff again.  From different angles, different perspectives.  Dealing with feelings around child rape, physical and emotional abuse, how it has changed our lives, how we’ve grown because we had to.  Trying to sort out anger and shame yet again.  And, also, wondering, “Why now?”

I’ve got a theory about that.  Each of my friends who is in this place is also in a similar emotional, spiritual place.  We’ve made commitments to ourselves and to others that we will be more open, be a little more transparent, share more and really, truly connect.  In a word, be more vulnerable. (Okay, so that’s three words – shoot me!) Vulnerability and trust are hard for us.  We’re not special or unique, there are plenty of others who have the same issues for the same reasons, but those reasons broke something we consciously work to fix.  And we fix what we can.  Then we rest and enjoy the blessings that come from learning trust.

After a bit, the joy of that plateau is not enough and we have to cycle through again, because we know what is waiting for us – we’ve glimpsed it, we’ve tasted it.  Because of where we came from and the steel that we are made of, we are an exceptional group of solid womyn who know themselves intimately.  We know the value of introspection and philosophical thought.  We don’t share easily, but when we do, it’s deep and truly meaningful.  We are also adventure seekers and risk-takers – because we know what the worst is, and we have conquered it.  My best friends have all been through some kind of life changing trauma.  We keep perspective and put the trauma away when it no longer serves us to examine it.  Just like we trade in our passions when there is something else we want to spend our time on.  We do the hard stuff, fun or not-so-much, because we truly want to live.

Knowing my friends, and helping to carry the baggage, it’s a good thing.   I like the womon I am, and I know I wouldn’t be this womon if I hadn’t had my own baggage.  I think the time is coming that I will forgive my abuser, but now – to thank him?  No, that will never happen.  Not in this life.

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I have a friend who is adopted.  She and I have talked about her internal struggle with ‘having to feel grateful’ to her adoptive family for adopting her.  The thing is, her childhood was wonderful, she was loved deeply, and her (in her mind) special status was never an issue, never used as a weapon against her, either subtly or overtly.  But she did have interests and personality traits that ended up being very, very different from the rest of her family.  She’s got some concerns that she’s not girly enough, that being gay has let them down.

I lead with this because she and I have also had a few talks about reincarnation.  We both believe that we meet the beings that are important to us over and over again with each successive life.  Those beings may be a lover in one life, a best friend in another, an influential teacher in yet another.  When I brought up that they could also be our parents, and that we choose, even in infancy, where we will be and who we will be most influenced by, this was a new thought to her.  The next logical thought that she then didn’t need to feel gratitude for being “chosen” by them – that she, in fact, had been the chooser was pretty radical.

When I look back at my life and the beings that have been most influential, I find myself with a bit of confusion.   If I apply my belief system to the fullest, it means that my abuser is really a being who has been important to me in past lives.  Or maybe that being is trying to learn some lesson (that, in my opinion, they have obviously failed at in this life) and I for some reason volunteered to play a part in that.  What is my life lesson here?  What am I sent to learn?  Did we preordain that this would happen?  Would someone else have stepped in to provide trauma to my childhood had this not happened?  Is this karma or is it about a sentient being trying to learn some important truth?

Okay, I’m totally rambling here.  I’m preferring to believe that I am a sentient being, occupying this body to learn some specific lessons, and that the others who are important to me have volunteered to step in and guide me to where I need to be.  Hmmmm – that doesn’t sound all that right either – it smacks of forgiving my abuser and realizing he is on some learning path, too.  I’m not sure I want to do that.

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One of the tools I learned early on in my abuse was to “people please.”  As I’ve taken that apart, I’ve come to realize that there are many components to it.  Some are pretty self-destructive, but there is one piece that I have chosen to embrace, grow, and really, really make an important part of who I am.  And that is the ability to ‘see’ people.   I know that when I pay attention to someone, we enter a zone that is just us.  I am completely present for them.  And deeper desires, fears, and vulnerabilities are revealed.  To some, it looks like intuition, or reading auras, or whatever.  And there may be parts of that involved.  I just know that it’s a part of me that I actively cultivate.   I feel honored that others give not just their surface stuff, but the real them, to me and I to them.  It feels sacred.

Often in these connections, we’ll forget our surroundings and have to be pulled back by the people around us.  I had that happen recently at a party – everyone decided it was time to leave, and we both said okay, but then we stood and talked, and talked.  Soon we were the only ones left in the house.  People were waiting outside for us, and it took them banging on the window to bring us back.  I love those connections!

I have also gotten pretty good at deciding who I’m going to give my full attention to.  Because of what I just said.  The self-destructive part comes in when I allow my “rescuer” to come out.  And there are so many that I could rescue!!!  Okay, that was obviously all ego, but it was also that little kid trying not to get hurt anymore.  Let me do a good thing, please let me do a good thing.  So, I don’t look the obviously needy in the eye, I don’t stop physically moving for the people who love (to be) a crisis, and I’m always checking in with myself about my connections.  Does even thinking about this person make me tired?  Is connecting with them on my chore or reward list?

So what does all that have to do with people I call my friends?  Meaningful connection makes me feel protective of them.  My friends are strong and make their way very capably through the world.  But I know what it costs them and I know when and where to step in and make it easier, even in really small and not obvious ways.  And I want to do that for them – they ease my life that way, too.   The most capable, strongest womyn are the ones who appreciate little gestures the most.  We are so often not given the support that the “obviously needy” get in bucketloads.  Knowing we are noticed and cared about can bring us to our knees.

And the feeling of vulnerability that can bring is a topic for another day.  So is the fear that comes with ‘seeing’ and being ‘seen.’  And how to label and really recognize the feelings that come up with the genuine connection.  So much to ponder…

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I realize that many of my friends don’t blog and this would preclude them from participating.  Most, however, do Facebook or MySpace.  So for the purposes of the following, consider any thing that you contribute to (like Facebook or MySpace) and that people can comment on, a blog.  Oh, btw, I make incredible handmade things!  Just sayin’!

The idea of the exchange is I will send a handmade gift to the first three people who leave a comment on this blog post requesting to join this PIF exchange. I don’t know what that gift will be yet, and you may not receive it tomorrow or next week, but you will receive it within 365 days, that is my promise! The only thing you have to do in return is pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog – this means you must have a blog, sorry blogless readers.

I saw this on another blogger’s blog almost a full year ago.  I left a comment and posted the above on a blog I don’t use anymore and forgot about it.  My other blog was not that well known and only got two responses.  I fulfilled my end of the deal with them.  Now, I’ve received an email from the original woman who I commented to.  She’s ready to send me her PIF.  I am so excited!  As a matter of fact, I’m so excited that I am reposting here.

Only I will send something to the first six who leave a comment and promise to play.

Love to you all!

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