June 27, 2012 § Leave a Comment
AKA How to Name Your Needs in a Way that is Loving, Respectful, and Empathetic
In our own humanness, we have a tendency to express ourselves on a day to day basis that is violent, combative, and pushes others away.
There are so many ways to communicate in this life that it’s sometimes difficult to know what the best way is, if any. After being married to Mr. Trever O’Brien for over four years, I know that communication is extremely important and something we often try to work on. It’s definitely been the key to our “success.”
Looking back at my own personal mapping–that is, all of my life during childhood–I’ve been watching adults model communication styles that are power, manipulation, struggle, ego, control, and blame among others.
All and all, these communication styles fall under Violence.
They hurt the mind, body, soul, and spirit. That hurt causes an endless amount of issues as we grow up. Yep. We all have issues. That doesn’t mean we can’t heal those hurts by meeting our current needs.
That’s the glorious thing: Our needs can be communicated through Nonviolent Communication (NVC) in a way that is beneficial to meeting those needs.
We miss the mark with each other and step into violent communication when we don’t name our specific need. Without that specific goal in mind, without it being out on the table, we are destroying our relationships and connection with one another rather than building them up.
Let’s put it this way: We have to know somewhere deep down inside that using aggression by flipping someone off while driving will never get our needs met or cause us to feel any happier. And in the end, that’s the hope that each one of us desires.
To get our needs met.
We need to get back to the root of simply knowing the real need of our hearts and naming it. It’s as simple as that. Forget the “I feel” statements. You really just need the trash taken out. I need the trash taken out, would you mind ________________ . (Watching the kids while I do it, taking it out for me before you have a shower, helping me take it down because I have two bags now.)
Where do you start?
• Work through any underlying mind clutter.
• Get to the root of the anger and/or depression.
• Be clear about your own needs before expressing them in a violent manner.
• Make sure you’re regulated (here’s some great tips on self-regulating)
Now you’re ready to define and name your need. As simple as this task may seem, it makes a world of difference in your every day life. It’s a practice of mindfulness, of walking in light. Name that need. You’ll be the better person for it.
May 28, 2012 § 2 Comments
I promise this has a very happy ending.
It’s so strange how you can begin to feel extremely overwhelmed all of the sudden and not know where the flood of feelings came from. Depression–unknown needs and/or needs that aren’t getting met–hits the best of us like a big slap in the face every once and awhile, some more than others.
Recently, Trever has been getting more work (yay!) and I’ve been feeling distant. As he adds on more hours, I spend more time at home with the kids. After the Great Mold Fiasco, he actually worked 22 days in a row. I thought I was going to fall to pieces.
Being with my cuties for ten, twelve, fourteen hour days can wear on one’s soul, regardless of how utterly adorable they are minute by minute. Even the best parenting class can’t help you get a break. Especially when the event of peeing isn’t private.
This past week, Trever stepped into another marathon-get-er-done sprint to finish a job. And I fell into an existential looping depression. I could’t get myself to shut up no matter how much I tried. I drank water, ate fruits and veggies, made Indian dal, drank coconut water, kombucha, coffee, tea, snuggled with the kids, took a break from blogging, sang made-up songs, went to the park, breastfed my buddy (obviously), drew pictures, read every book we own, looked at photos, played catch (kind of, we’re working in it), and had a game of hide-and-go seek.
Nothing. Was. Working.
I could still hear my looping thoughts and I was still getting angry with Audrey even though I was trying so hard to remain happy. Yet there I was: parenting with unmet needs looming in my frontal lobe. I did the old call the mom thing (my mom, the MFT) and she said get a break.
I had a break. Got my nails did. Purchased a new bra. Bought a birthday present. Had a nice breather. Trever took the next day off and I couldn’t feel more elated. Pressing in the back of my mind at the third birthday party was the fact that he was going to work the next day.
I missed him already. (I told you this would have a happy ending. I’m getting there.)
After getting the kids into bed (finally) and watching a couple episodes of Friends, season 4, we rallied in the bathroom to brush our teeth. Then it came out.
“I’m so scared of being depressed tomorrow.”
“Why? What do you need?”
There you have it. He knew there was something I needed and I couldn’t have pin-pointed it that easily. We spent the next half an hour trying to understand one another. I finally worked out a few of the things I was hoping for him to get. And then I said it:
You’re my best friend.
That’s what it really comes down to. I simply want to spend more time with him and help him with the marketing and administration stuff for the company we’re starting (more on that later). I desire to share the work load and be able to enjoy our time together more, knowing full well that the bookkeeping is getting done and that we/he has work scheduled weeks in advance.
That’s what it really comes down to. Stepping back, he’s my best friend.
See, told ya.
May 14, 2012 § Leave a Comment
It’s mornings when I wake up after I’ve been dreaming about my past all night long telling myself I should have married someone else, not had children yet, or been on a completely different path that really mess up my day and screw with my head. I’m not sure where I’m supposed to put that and it’s hard to simply shake. Then I realize after I wake up a bit more that I have these two beautiful children that I spent years in the making (hehe) sitting right in front of me.
Yet I’ve got my past thrown into my face by my subconscious. As I come to, I just want to say,
“Subconscious, you can go eat a you-know-what.”
Right then and there I make the decision, a difficult one at that, to be present in my day. To put away the sleepy dream funk and realize what I’ve got in the here and now, regardless of how begrudging that little deep voice inside of me is. I mean, I’ve got two people to take care of, my nose is feeling stuffy, my throat is feeling scratchy, and I feel alone (legitimately, I’m all by myself). It’s in those moments where I have to really be intentional about my day about what’s going on in my mind because it’s so easy to just continue the thought process of what my subconscious has been running all night long.
What if I would have stayed in Australia? What if I would have chosen this person and not that person? What if I would’ve had no kids by now and Trever and I were still dating? (Something when actually discussed yesterday and laughed about.)
That’s what it comes down to. My silly sleep can be related back to yesterdays discussions and my own bodily issues. Something that I don’t share with people very often is that both of us have doubts about getting married on the day that we did–February 24, 2008. We definitely don’t regret marrying one another, however the act in which our marriage occurred in February was anything but beautiful. This discussion that we had yesterday about our wedding day, on top of my stomach problems I was having, caused me to have nightmares all night long. Enough nightmares to attempt to get the better of me.
I’m determined to be intentional about the decisions that I make and what I’m telling myself for the rest of the day. I love my husband and the fact that he cleaned out my entire car and picked up the apartment to make it look nice when I woke up this morning. And I love spending the day with my beautiful children and the privilege that I have to not have to work.
So we’re going to yoga together and then probably the park and then maybe even go visit Papa (as he requested yesterday). Boo on my subconscious. I’m going to continue to enjoy my life and my day. Boo on sleepy dream funk.
October 28, 2011 § 4 Comments
The progress of my marriage has been a topic amidst family, friends, and strangers alike recently.
“How long have you been married now,” they ask.
At first I had to double check my math. It seems as though we’ve known each other forever and simultaneously that no time has passed at all.
Is it really 2012 next year? The anchor on my arm says 02-24-08, so it must be true. Although right before I permanently inked it into my skin for all eternity–just like our love–I texted Trever just to be sure.
“February 24, 2008, right?”
“Yeah!” he quickly replied.
Weddings always bring up the permanence of our vows for me. One part of me is dreamy eyed, while the other is firmly focused on reality: I gave him my everything.
There were a handful of unbelievers in the beginning. Honestly, I’m not even sure where they stand now. All I know is that Trever and I are standing on the same cornerstone that we built our relationship upon: Commitment.
In our short, eight month engagement that was our hope to declare through our wedding ceremony. When it came to the day, it was a little muddled in the hopes others had for us that clashed with our own.
Yet in the end, here we are. Almost four. And “in love,” you ask? No, we choose to love each other every day. It’s better than being in love. We’re just as committed to one another as we were since the beginning.
That commitment keeps us attached at the hip in a beautiful and interdependent way. We communicate with one another, are open with each other, and share our feelings, thoughts, hopes, and dreams. Trev likes to say we’re on the same team. Especially when we’re both pooped from a long day at our respective “jobs” and ready to hit the hay.
I’m already looking forward to our four year anniversary. And ten times that. I dream about him every night. I think about him every day. He’s my favorite. He always will be. It’s almost four.
June 16, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Ah, the season of love. The beautiful impending summer months when people like to put on dark three-piece suits and huge dresses, get all sweaty and pretty for each other and walk down the aisle. I can feel the love buzzing in the air. And for the most part, it feels good.
In the back of my mind I can hear an interesting conversation with an acquaintance last year when she became engaged. That’s where the “for the most part” comes in. Jasmine, you see, has a different view of the marriage commitment. Our conversation went a little like this:
“Are you excited about getting married? When’s the date?” I asked, trying to make small talk.
“I’m like super excited. It’s gonna be so awesome! We picked a date in July,” Jasmine said enthusiastically.
“That’s great. You’ll have time for all the mental prep that comes with it,” I joked cheekily.
“Oh we’re not doing counseling. We’re not really planning on doing anything differently,” she replied as perky as ever.
She continued to tell me how they were both going to keep being workaholics and climbing up their respective ladders. And party on the weekends at clubs and go to Vegas. And have their own “separate” lives that included an open relationship.
As I stood their slightly dumbfounded–although it doesn’t happen often–I managed to get out, “That’s cool that you guys both know what you want and you’re sticking to it.”
“Yeah! Like, no one seems to get that. They all think we’re crazy.”
Well, I could see that perspective too. I did believe what I said. It is great for couples to be clear that they know what they want the marriage to look like after the honeymoon before it arrives. I’m sure some fall into the trap of thinking that it’ll just magically come into place and both persons desire for reality will *poof* into existence.
What I’ve learned from experience is that the sacredness of marriage (or any relationship, for that matter) takes conversational upkeep with your lover. We’ll call it the sacredness of actionable love. Just for kicks. Because life takes work. Staying up-to-date in your own life (as we talked about on Monday a bit) takes effort, so imagine how much more needs to be there when it involves someone else!? A lot. Yet the benefits of working towards being on the same page are worth it tenfold.
Improved quality of life. Better you-know. Greater understanding of one another. The list goes on. The point is, make that list. Be that love. Take the time to sit down and think about what commitment means to you in relation to your partner. Be realistic and share that with them. Hey, we all have issues. This might bring some of those up. But that’s never a bad thing. And the understanding and love that grow out of it is unmeasurable.
May 5, 2011 § Leave a Comment
A long time ago, in a land far far away, men told women what to do basically all the time. Okay, so that wasn’t really a long time ago nor was it necessarily in a land far far away. I’ve seen people do it right next door. Albeit they’re Armenian, but hey! It counts.
I’ve never for as long as I can remember been into anyone telling me what to do. Especially a man who thinks he’s the boss of me. It absolutely drives me crazy. And I can tell you why: I’ve seen it with my own eyes since day one. Misogyny. Oh delicious women haters, why do we love you so? I don’t think I have ever seen a leader guide and delegate with love and respect. I’m not sure even what that looks like. It’s either all control, shame, or nothing. And by nothing, I don’t mean “great leadership”. I mean passive aggressive.
Ewwww. Unhealthy people irk me like no friggen other. They infest themselves into the deepest part of my heart and soul and drive me absolutely, positively nuts. Unhealthy leaders drive me even more nuts. I think,
“If you’re going to put yourself in a leadership position and you suck at life, why bother? No one really wants to or really should follow you anyway.”
So as I grew up, my surrounding environments tried to sell me this idea that the husband is the leader of the household. Bwahahaha. Uh hmm. Excuse me. Something about god being a man. And making man first. Therefore man should be the head of woman. Because that’s how it was intentioned from these people without belly buttons. I hate to break it to you, but I’m not buying it. I’ve read the book you got it from about 7 or eight times straight through and I can’t seem to find anything in the new law that says anything even remotely close to that.
Okay, so now I go back to square one since my childhood belief system left me with a shallow hole of a framework for how leadership in relationships (particularly marriage) works. Throw that out the window. Try again.
I researched gender schemas throughout my college career and discovered: they exist. Gender schemas in movies, music, you name it. Gender schemas especially in, you guessed it, leadership. A gender schema is just a fancy way of saying “gender stereotype”. Now that you’re as smart as me and all my “college research”, let’s move on. If you took a list of mainly male characteristics and mainly female characteristics (gender schemas), I would possess 75% of the male and 25% of the female. I wouldn’t be surprised if this number has shifted in favor of the latter since becoming a mother. Regardless, those stereotyped “manly” attributes are what society deems to be good leadership qualities.
This brings us to full circle to our question: why do leaders drive me crazy? Perhaps it’s that whole fact that it takes a certain personality type to fill such shoes. Not just being male. Having a ball sack does not automatically make you awesome at guiding other people. Nor does being a woman make you a good follower.
I’m an awful follower, to say the least. I’ve never once been good at it in my life. Before you freak out and ask why I’m so feministic or fret your little brains out wondering whether or not I have an underlying theme going on about how my marriage is falling apart because I wear the pants, don’t. Trever and I have come to a lovely balance of making the decisions that we’re good at. We’re interdependent. And it feels good. He’s a diligent, responsible worker that has always provided for me. I can do any and all administrative tasks. As for a “leader,” I’ve no clue who is who. I’ve never really thought about it nor considered there even a need to be one. We just work. Gender schemas and all. So much for a long time ago.
April 20, 2011 § 1 Comment
It’s day three and I’m falling apart here. Okay. Okay. I’m making it. I’ve had an awful lot of support over the past few days. But it’s tough. Trever left on Monday and has been 60 miles away ever since. We decided for it to be worth the money, he should stay with his rents rather than drive back and forth. Thus, I miss him dearly.
It’s amazing how you can be so comfortable in a relationship. We both agree that we get much more done when we’re away from one another. Yet there’s something missing.
Oh yes, zest.
I lose a little bit. Nay, quite a bit of my oomph when he is away. I may in fact get distracted when he is around. I tend to keep the place a little less tidy. Wash the dishes not so often. Vacuum. Hardly ever. I forget to blog. Put the baby to sleep in a timely manner. Brush my teeth. I’m distracted by his good looks and charm. Really it’s his love of life. Of his girls. I enjoy his company. He’s always been delightfully comfortable.
When he leaves, I do the things that I usually put off. I get more accomplished. The to-do’s get checked. But the fulfillment and the purpose and the drive behind it is lacking. When he’s here I have moments of “if I could just get an hour or two I would be done with my chores. Ugh!” And when he’s gone it’s, “Everything is done. The floor is vacuumed. The dishes are cleaned. The house is organized. Alphabetized. Neat. Tidy. Perfect. And boring. Really, really boring. Who wants to make dinner for one?”
So far I’ve had canned soup, salad, rice and beans, and more salad. I might even make some pesto tonight. But it’s a stretch.
In the end, life is simply better with him. Better with him close. Better that he’s here. Better that we choose to love each other regardless the distance.
He called me last night and said it might be a while. This whole “working in the OC” thing might last longer than just one week. Longer than he thought it would. It always does. Life always throws you more curve balls than you think you can handle. You just do. Thanks again, guys, for your support.
April 8, 2011 § 1 Comment
Only four days into 27 and I’m feeling pretty old. Not old in a bad way, just an understanding way. I’ve been seeing things differently lately. One of my favorite feelings. I love a change in perspective. It’s an older me, in a sense. A me that took a lot of thought rearranging to get into.
I remember how much work I had to do to process the fact that I had chosen someone to be with. As soon as Trever and I had this conversation on June 24, 2007, I chose to only be with him:
“Where do you see yourself in five years?”
“Um? Singing? Playing music? Traveling? I don’t know. I want to be with someone for sure.”
“You want to be with me.”
“Yeah, I want to be with you.”
Even if in that moment I chose a life with him, it took months to get into the mindset and really grasp what it meant to “do life with someone,” as I like to call it. I kept telling my mom that I wanted to experience life with someone, but when I got there, I still had a lot of old stuff to sift through. Old perceptions. Gender schemas. Marital issues.
As many may know, I was and still am a fairly stubborn, independent, and domineering (among a host of pleasant assets, of course). Getting my brain to think of putting someone first. Following the path of another and not just my own. Having someone be a team with me. All new thoughts. Yet I knew I had to get into it. I knew I had to accept this new thought pattern. Or we’d be in trouble.
I remember the warm, sunny day on September when it happened. I ran out to the curb to greet Trever as he came home from work. I was his. And he was mine. I had put my mind through a sort of mental exercise little by little to build it up and get it in gear for the viewpoint I wanted it to have: Marriage. Monogamy.
Years past and I used my first formula to help me get through and cope with life’s changes. Moving in together. Postponing our wedding. Moving out of the same place. Eloping. Moving back in together. Learning to teach piano and voice lessons. Quitting. The disappointment of not being pregnant. The excitement of being pregnant. The sacrifices and revamping in my head that came along with being a mom.
Phew. That was the next tough one. I had to let go of doing the MBA program I had been accepted into that very same month. Forgo my veg diet, jeans, numerous tops, focus on myself. I had to let go of me in a lot of ways. I had to let go of my own desires to do what I wanted to do and put myself in the mindset of being called Mother. I took my new calling very seriously. I still do. And that revamping helped me tremendously (especially the thought-shift of getting to wear attractive looking bras).
And like becoming a mama, I’ve noticed over the past few months that my older self has noticed that there’s a lot I can’t do. A lot that was a just a pipe dream. I’ve discovered I can’t have my cake and eat it to. That life takes sacrifices in many forms, like that of marriage and parenthood. Most of the time those sacrifices are a good thing. However, they’re always hard. I know myself. And I know if I do the prep work for the sacrifice, it falls into place more easily. If I choose to see the good things along with the more difficult, I can make the change easier on myself. Day four and counting. 27 is going to be a good year.
December 30, 2010 § Leave a Comment
I’ll tell ya, it has been one of the strangest holiday seasons. I just don’t remember feeling this way in years prior to. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe it’s the hard times that Trev and I find ourselves in. A crossroads, so to speak. A pivotal moment in our lives and in our relationship.
As some of you may recall, it was just in October of this year that Trever decided to make a change in his life. A positive one that I applauded him for and fully supported. He decided to go full time back into acting. A huge decision because it meant us having more trust in one another. More faith in the unknown. And more hope that things would fall into place. Or that we’d die trying.
I’m only partially joking. I’ve never believed in things falling into place. I’ve always believed in working your arse off for them. This was one of those moments where I realized that while I didn’t see him often because of his six to six carpentry job, acting meant a lifestyle change.
Phew. A lifestyle change. Hmmm. Being an actor, or anything where you’re your own boss for that matter, takes 100% of your time, energy, and focus. Kind of like raising Audrey. I get that. Much more so now than I did before. I knew he could do it. Because I knew he was already good. A lifestyle change because he is finally deciding what he wants. Not because he is being dutiful (see: carpentry), but because he wants to get the most out of his life. His lifestyle went from being about making it to being in the moment, living in it, and doing what he thinks about at night.
Since then we have amazingly scraped by. Although I’ve watched him work himself to the bone by doing every bit of carpentry known to man–from laying a foundation to installing drywall to wiring electrical–I have never in my life seen him work so hard. I don’t say this because I want him to love me. Or because I love him (although I do). I say it because I have to be honest with you: it has been the hardest three months of our relationship ever. That, my friend, is reality.
I think I have had more issues come up during this time than I ever have before. Trever focusing on himself, doing what he needs to do, getting things done has been the healthiest thing I have ever seen him attempt. Why? Because while he is studying sit-coms and other actors, working on sides, and doing homework for acting class, he is becoming more interdependent on me rather than codependent.
But our codependency was so comfortable!!!
Comfortable because it was all too familiar. I was fulfilling the roles I knew how, he was doing what he (thought) he did best. I’d been doing it since childhood and I wasn’t going to stop now. I’d been mimicking what I’d seen. So why stop there?
We once had a premarital counselor tell us that our ideal relationship–the one in our minds–was 92% fantasy after we took a test called Prepare. Needless to say, we found a new counselor, but boy was he right. Because of the way that we saw our parents interact, our hope for how we would then interact in marriage was about 8% accurate. I would say that over the past three plus years that we’ve been together, we have been pretty awesome. We’ve loved one another when we haven’t felt like it. And when we have. Through sickness and in health. Through richer but mainly poorer. Through happiness and sadness. Community and fighting. Codependency and interdependency.
While our relationship may have been built on a dream, a fantasy. It has been anything but a facade. It’s crazy how you can only live in the exact moment that you’re at. You can’t live in the future you. We have lived and loved in the best way we knew how moment to moment, revelation to revelation. That’s all we can ask for.
These past few months have been like waking up from a dream. The amount of information that we have learned about ourselves, respectively, has been greater than during any other time. And it started with a choice: Trever deciding to do what he wanted to do.
Now my holidays weren’t hard for any reason in particular. I feel that I know many who have lost loved one’s this season and it’s been the hardest one yet for them. I feel that it has been hard because I have felt the most alive. The most in reality. And the most present (even though at times I don’t want to be). Let’s get real, holidays aren’t what they used to be when we were younger. They’re not all tasty treats and sweets, new bikes and rollerblades, and snowball fights. Quite the contrary, they’re just as real as any other day.