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Sideways

I wrote a story in the book of life today!

Shut the fuck up!

6 ways to show love
Sideways
angeofleak
How To Practice Compassion In Relationships.

A couple asked me recently what the Buddhist view is on marriage.

They were planning their wedding and in the process of writing their vows. I don’t know what the Buddha would have said, but what occurred to me in that moment was how committing to loving one person for the rest of your life is taking compassion practice to a whole new level. In the Buddhist teachings there are many guidelines and methods to help us become more compassionate people. When we apply these practices in the space of intimacy, with the person who triggers us, drives us crazy, irritates, and bores us–the person we are closest to–we begin to walk our spiritual talk.

Compassion has three aspects, a feeling of warmth, a sense of openness, and a pervading wisdom that sees through the illusion of separateness and duality. The general guidelines for practicing compassion suggest cultivating a quality of energy, inspiration, and motivation as well as a sense of lightness, ease, and gentleness. We are careful not to become aggressive or self centered in our efforts to be more compassionate.

Before you get started, remember that to genuinely be compassionate to another, you must begin by extending that kindness to yourself. By appreciating and understanding how we get stuck, we can naturally extend that awareness when our loved ones act crazy. The most important point here is to accept people as they are. Putting your energy into trying to change someone, even subtly attempting to shape their behavior, backfires over time because there is always this feeling that love is conditional.

One of my mentors said that there are three requirements to making relationships work. 1) Both people are “into” each other, there is some attraction, energy, or juiciness that keeps them connected. 2) Both people must be willing to work with what comes up for them as individuals in the context of intimacy and 3) Both people must be willing to work with what comes up specifically in relation to each other.

The Buddhist tradition presents compassion in action as the six paramitas or transcendental virtues. These compassion practices are best worked with slowly over time, starting with small steps such as subtly shifting the trajectory of current patters, whether it be one thought, one action–whatever you can do that is genuinely selfless. You are doing it for the simple reason of being kind, and there is no agenda that your partner will change, the relationship will improve, or you get points for being “good.” That’s not what this is about. This is about using everything in your life as a means to open your heart further.

Generosity

Generosity is centered upon selfless motivation. You give up any notion of who is giving, what is being given, and who is receiving. You just give without any attachment or fixation to what happens next. We have some idea of the small things that make people happy. Therefore, you might spontaneously clean up your clutter in the living room, cook a special meal, plan a nice evening out, take care of the nitty gritty small stuff. Other ways to give spontaneously are sharing appreciative statements, compliments, and expressions of affection.

Generosity can also be about giving up our need to be right. Because we are offering up our egos, we can also let go of beliefs about the way things should be. We can give up doing things our way, winning arguments, and knowing what’s best. This is generosity practice because our ego-centered beliefs are what we hold most sacred, especially those of the spiritual kind. The other aspect of generosity is protection from fear, which means listening when your partner is struggling at work, has health concerns, or financial worries. Don’t problem solve. Just listen and gently ask how you can be helpful.

Discipline

Discipline has to do with bringing mindfulness and awareness to all of your actions of body, speech, and mind. This means slowing down the momentum of our reactivity. We may already be skilled at mindfulness of body (we don’t sock our partners when they irritate us), but we can now begin to work with slowing down the momentum of our speech (holding back our judgements, criticisms, nagging, and venting). The more we practice mindfulness and awareness in every day life, the more we can trust ourselves without second guessing what we say and do. We don’t need to call up our friends to have them validate us. We simply trust ourselves and become curious when what we say and do causes conflict. We don’t have an ego to defend so we don’t need everyone on our side.

Patience

The meaning of patience here has to do with not reacting impulsively when our partners misbehave, get angry with us, or shut down. This means that we learn to work with our emotions through meditation practice and individual therapy. We can’t blame people for making us feel a certain way. We can learn how to tolerate our emotions. We can become curious and undefended even when people are making everything our fault. Just staying open and calm can rapidly de-escalate fighting and bickering. In relationships there is often disappointment over getting what we didn’t want and not getting what we wanted. We can have these feelings without taking them too seriously or personally.

Patience also means tolerating our feelings when we try earnestly to help someone and they don’t accept it or get better according to our ideas about what’s good for them. An example of this kind of patience is listening to our partner’s frustrations without being their job or fitness coach, nutritionist, therapist, or psychic. Just let them be and listen with an open heart. People don’t like being told what to do to improve. It has the result of affirming the part of them that is already feeling inadequate. Ask them if they want concrete suggestions or if they just need a hug.

Patience is also practiced when people have wronged us and we feel so much resentment that we cannot forgive them. People often ask me how to let go of the anger and resentment that has built up over time. When I sit with that question and reflect on the anger and resentment in my own heart, I come back to the hurt that gave rise to the anger. When I sit with the hurt, I see that the hurt is there because of how deeply I loved. When I connect with the love that was behind the hurt, anger, and resentment, I can begin to let go of the whole thing. Abiding in the love gives me a sense of space and peace where I can see things from a wider perspective. At some point it becomes important to let things go and make space for new things to happen.

Diligence

Diligence or exertion is about working hard, but not in the sense of self sacrifice, being a martyr, or doing things that you don’t want to like folding the laundry. Exertion here means taking everything that happens to the path of dharma. We walk our talk and stop expecting our relationship to be perfect or to make us feel good. We see the day to day challenges that we face as our practice and what we’re working with off the cushion.

Exertion here also means learning to tolerate our feelings without indulging them or acting them out. It means showing up for couples therapy with some measure of enthusiasm rather than being late and sighing while your partner is talking. We see that this whole relationship thing is helping us open our heart and learn about ourselves, our partners, and all of humanity. We stay with the struggle that it takes to work things out. The opposite of diligence here is laziness. Along with zoning out while your partner is talking, laziness also includes overworking and staying continually distracted with activities and projects. Business is another form is laziness.

Meditation

Our commitment to our meditation practice underlies all of our compassionate activities. It is our time to go within and take care of our own mind. It is best to practice every day, ideally at the same time each day, even if just for ten or twenty minutes. Connecting in with our innate wakefulness and inner vision helps us maintain a perspective that nourishes and regenerates our mind. Sometimes it helps to take ten minutes to calm down when you come home from work, just enough to transition and let the day go. Meditation is about the willingness to stay with our practice of mindfulness and awareness no matter what is happening around us. We take everything to the path of dharma by making space for our practice. Otherwise, we’ll get lost or burned out along the way.

Transcendental Knowledge

Here is where our dharma study in the nature of selflessness becomes key. How we show up for our partner is how we show up for ourselves, there is no difference. The more we can integrate this concept into our living and felt experience, we will see how so much of our struggle is for nothing. The teachings become very personal here as we see how they apply to everything happening in our life.

Finally, in your efforts to be more compassionate, be careful about mistaking “idiot compassion” for compassion. Being open does not mean we have no boundaries. Our openness affords us both clarity and panoramic awareness which helps us discern what would be most skillful. We know what to do and say in the moment. Sometimes we need to say the thing that no one wants to hear, or be the one to point at the elephant in the room, or call people on their stuff. It doesn’t serve anyone to go unconscious when things get hard. In these situations, the harmony created is a false harmony where the real issues get swept under the rug. This is a conflict avoiding, fear-based, relational style which only leads to furthering distance and infidelities where partners go outside of the relationship to get their needs met. Real compassion is to speak to what you see going on while staying connected to your heart. It is about clear seeing joined with warmth and kindness. This kind of love is what heals and brings intimacy to a deeper level.

(no subject)
Sideways
angeofleak
This theory is not for men alone, women also retreat regularly.

However, when a female retreats it is likely because she is hurt, angry or feels betrayed.

Women often pull away because there is something wrong within their relationship, whereas men will pull away just because they need to constantly adjust to the direction they are heading. Because women pull away when there is a problem, they automatically think the same must be said for men, when it is likely just the male’s need for a little space.

There is scientific evidence to back up this theory, as we couple we release a hormone called Oxytocin.

Oxytocin decreases females stress levels but it lowers testosterone in males which causes them to experience higher stress levels.

Due to this imbalance, too much bonding too soon can cause a man to feel slightly uncomfortable as he constantly adjusts to his new setting. As the male withdraws, his testosterone raises and so he feels more balanced and is then likely to return happier than before.

Simply, men are more likely to need a little more space and freedom than females within their relationship.

Freedom is something that both men and women need and it is not something that we should fear.

When we allow our partners to enjoy being themselves and understand they need a safe space to do this, we have a far greater chance of a balanced, successful relationship.

Ideally, there should be no control, jealousy, or insecurity on either part. As soon as any of these things come into play, resentment can build up and this will cause one or both partners to start to withdraw.

We all need to feel secure that we can be who we want to be, without being forced to behave in a manner that doesn’t feel natural.

Appreciate ourselves, know that we are worthy, enjoy our own company and that of others and know that if the relationship is healthy and feels good for both parties, we will both naturally distance ourselves and pull back together regularly in order to provide the right balance to grow together.

If the other partner fails to bounce back, sadly this is just part of life, we just have to accept their decision and know that we deserve happiness. Maybe this particular relationship was just not right for us at this time, for whatever reason.

Chasing after something that just wasn’t meant to be is one of the most soul-destroying things we can to do ourselves. Instead of focusing on the negative, we must instead try to love—love ourselves a little more than before.

“Happiness is like a butterfly; the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

(no subject)
Sideways
angeofleak

What I want to say...
Sideways
angeofleak
"Baby,

I know your classes have been tough lately, they're pretty much like an uncontrolled therapy session where you have to abide by the topic of choice. I'm supportive and here for you always."

(I went to celebrate a friend's birthday, she and her husband are in a No Doubt tribute band.)

"I ran into an old coworker and mingled but, honesty, you are my person. I danced the night away (solo) with my never ending No Doubt love and I know you would have danced with me. We would have had a ball and no one else would have existed.

I love that about us. I never thought I would truly fall head over heels for someone. I thought I was raised too hard for that but I look at you, heck, when I think of you or someone asks about you, I can't help but giggle. You are the giggle in my life and I'm turning into a hopeless romantic in front of our eyes. You have helped me see that all this softness is ok and safe and I'm learning to embrace it all.

I love you."

(no subject)
Sideways
angeofleak
Had a huge talk with Alex and Shan and as much as I spoke my truth, I cried a bunch. We all apologized for hurting each other in ways we didn't realize.

We all were pretty vulnerable and there for each other at the same time. I learned a lot and they learned about me and my boundaries. I can honestly say I can put the hurt behind me after getting my feelings off my chest.

I'm grateful for this whole experience

Unprotected and grateful
Sideways
angeofleak
When I'm alone and I get this little glimmer of happiness thinking about how I miss Aaron, I wonder why I have to question and sort everything out. Since I don't want to try and figure that out, I want to think about my relationship as it stands without having to put on a tough front.

Sometimes after I think about how he holds me through the night, no matter how fidgety I am and how it doesn't matter if I wake him, he still covers me when I kick off the blankets or get back into bed after peeing.

Can he really be fooling me when I see that he truly loves and dotes on me? I don't think so. I don't want to think so.

I didn't realize how much I enjoy being able to touch and caress him. I didn't know I had this in me. Hearing his heart race after I hug him from behind or hearing him sigh after I smooth his hair out of his face really keeps me in the moment.

I always hear myself repeating what he says in my head when I get jealous, "with or without you, I want you to be happy." I've been trying to keep that in mind and allow myself to feel jealous but trust him and want him to do what makes him happy. It's been a challenge since he's a photographer but I think the awareness makes it easier.

I feel like I really see who he is. I love this about him but sometimes it makes me sad because I don't think I could ever fully show him who I am. It's scary and I can't fully blame that on my last relationship. I think it's me. So when I get down on myself I have to remember not to be so hard on myself. I don't have to know or sort everything out...I'm learning I can't fully understand my emotions but they are there for a reason. Fear is one of those beasts of mine and I feel like a turtle that pokes her head out every now and then but everything makes her hide.

It's worth a shot...to try and be happy and really enjoy what I have and not kill the vibe by trying to dissect it. Do I really want to be right that this won't work out?

I have something really wonderful and we work at it. That in itself is trusting my judgment which comes so difficult for me. A small part is trusting him and the whole is knowing that I know what's best for me and deal with whatever comes when we get there. Enjoy what is because it is always changing.

(no subject)
Sideways
angeofleak
I think I am realizing that I am not so worried about the drinking, but more so the communication and follow through. I would rather him not suggest anything at all then to change plans throughout the day.

Either way, with all that we've learned about each other, there is no question that there is real love, respect and friendship here.

I want to stay present in the moment, let go of what isn't serving me and really enjoy how lucky I am to have this wonderful human being in my life...even if it is to test me and my growth. I may as well relish in all the good after all the discomfort like damagedgirl relayed to me.

Jumbles but it needs to come out
Sideways
angeofleak
Pretty overwhelming FaceTime with Aa today. It sucked at some points but I think it was necessary. He needed to get some things off his back.

I had no idea he felt pushed against a wall with not drinking. In fact, he was the one who went from one month cessation to three. He said that he felt like the biggest fuck up and he was being forced to change in our relationship, at his job and even by the law.

I told him this many times, "if you can't take care of yourself, there isn't room for me in your life." I never wanted him to do anything he didn't want to do including change his drinking habits for me. I told him that if this continues, we won't work out. My intention isn't to change him but make him aware that his actions do trigger fear in me and that will take time to simmer down.

He didn't know that I stopped drinking with him because I was also concerned for my health and habits which contributed to him feeling like a fuckup. We both withheld these feelings from each other. I started to get pissed but swallowed it down when he was explaining how he felt when he got his DUI and the days after. I told him there was no way I could tell him my true feelings when his whole world was falling apart. I see how defeated he looks when I talk about when my feelings get hurt. We just realized how hurtful things are when we aren't honest with ourselves and each other. Expectations get out of control and I freak out and he feels like he has to go to the opposite extreme and quit everything completely. I don't want to not drink ever again but I wanted to learn control and hope that he does too.

Everything he says is me. He wants me in his life when he's sick and when he feels better, he wants to spend his life with me and run away together because he believes in me and in us. After he told me how much I have changed him and that he never changes for anyone else, I realized why he was in my life. He is here to support me and show me what "us" is really about. He is digging himself out of a hole and changing his life for the better and he still believes and wants to improve our relationship. I told him that I don't understand those things right now but I hope he continues to show me what he has been. It will get easier with time and I will build a team habit and see that we can support each other and it doesn't have to be me against the world.

He said he didn't realize I was concerned about my drinking habits because I never mentioned it.

I guess I'm here again...one foot in and one foot out. Is there ever a "ready"? How do I jump in and commit?

He says he wants balance and doesn't want to go back to how things were. I have to trust him and believe him. I have to figure out how to be supportive and have faith in him otherwise I doubt this will work. I can't be against him.

I want him to be who he is. I'm not a manipulative bitch who wants to get her way. I think I'm willing to do the work, I want to trust my man and be with him it just gets tough, intense and scary sometimes and that's ok.

I told him that I'm really glad we can talk about all this even if it's after the fact and uncomfortable. I reassured him that he's not hurting me in this moment in crying. I'm processing, it's ok.

I told him that I have a lot of shit to work on and I'm not perfect so I don't want him to ever feel like the fuckup. I love him and want to learn to be there for him and us. I just am figuring out how to do this as he's trying to figure out balance in his life.

This all sparked from me talking about a possible repair in my apartment and being a little cautious about discussing moving in together. He felt bad and guilty that he might be preventing us from moving forward...which is how I feel. But this will take time. I need to keep hearing that he wants balance and is learning his lessons and what he wants for his future.

He is such a good guy. I felt awful hearing that he felt everyone was against him. I would have liked to have known this to help...or could I even have tried? Maybe all this was supposed to come out when we got here and no other time.

I asked if we could find a sort of resolution before ending our call. I'm terrified he will change his mind or switch his story but I have to see that however it works out, I will be ok.

He is someone I truly value and know he brings things I don't have to the table. I'm grateful that he was honest with me. I'm happy to hear that he wants to set his own boundaries and not just do what he thinks I want. I don't want to date someone who just appeases me.

(no subject)
Sideways
angeofleak
I think I am satisfied with expressing my fears and feelings with Aa last night. He really does know how to calm me down and reassure me that I am a part of his life and even though this whole controlling the habit will be hard, he seems up for the task. I can't help but shake this belief though. I never was a girl who believed people's word ever. My therapist says my intuition is through the roof. I need to see some results and until then, I remain anxious and am battling the distance that I can't help is creeping in.

I wish I knew how to give people the benefit of the doubt. Aa expressed that it hurt him that I didn't have more faith in him. I'm sorry, I don't know what faith is, I wasn't raised to know how to do that. It's the truth, though. I know expressing these things to him probably hurt him for sure but I have to remain true to myself and the need to expel these discomforts because I'm not alone and can't figure this out on my own.

I think after his surgery, I realized I was really "IN" this relationship and then the drinking break came to an end and it really fucking terrified me and I'm not sure if I'm looking for a reason to bail but I know fear has to do with every issue in my dang life.

I am a fearful person and whether they knew it or not, it all makes sense why I am. I never was guided or inspired as a child. I had to learn everything on my own and it was usually the hard way so I don't know how to take someone's word for anything.

The last thing I want to do is hurt Aaron but I feel like I just don't know how not to distance myself until he proves he won't be wreckless.

That sounds awful.

(no subject)
Sideways
angeofleak
Ever have one of those moments where you're anxious and start to realize your actions could be about to sabotage your relationship? Can you prevent this?

Basically, Aaron had his gallbladder out last week and we ended our 3 month non-drinking break. I took care of him really well because I truly love him and wanted to be there for him. I'm afraid his habits will come back. I'm afraid that our 3 month, sober, love relationship is going away and I have to keep one foot out the door. I did this with my ex and I don't like it. I feel myself being suspicious and untrusting because he has hurt me in the past with his drinking; not physically, never intentional but at the same time, drinking was a higher priority than me and I think we both realized that while we weren't drinking.

The last three months have been the best times in any relationship I've ever had in my whole entire life. It brings me to tears thinking of this. Not sure if these are tears of mourning the possible loss or tears of vulnerable happiness.

We went out and had dinner and a drink and I really didn't like how it made me feel. He agreed but I'm not sure if he's trying to appease me. He went out with his bff today and I couldn't help be feel jealous and worried.

I'm trying to remember to stay non-attached and not take things so persoanlly but I can't help but feel afraid, anxious and ready to walk away. I want more than anything to be honest with him but I feel like this will hurt his feelings. At the same time, he has hurt my feelings and this fear is valid.

I know he isn't his mistakes but this is going to be really hard and I've been waiting 3 months to see if this issue will truly be addressed. This could be my deal breaker if he goes back to his old ways. Shame on me thinking a man, or anyone will change.

Going to try and put myself out there.

Thank god I have therapy tomorrow.

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