Friday, June 19, 2015

Love, Hate and Everything In Between

"Legend": From here on out, references to my ex will either be "the ex" for "A", the co-parenting therapist will be Dr. B and to my personal therapist will be Dr. A.

Last week I was in a co-parenting therapy session with the ex - the last for now, and probably the last in general as I realize I have to just accept that nothing will change. Dr. B started off with a little introduction of things such as mindfulness and doing things for the purpose of the kids and lots of things that I wholeheartedly agree with - reasons that I "forced" Adam to go to co-parenting therapy  (cause I apparently didn't learn my lesson when I forced him to go to personal therapy and marriage counseling when we were married) and why I was trying my hardest to just have a civil relationship with him.  

After getting into that, Dr. B. started to talk about how - compared with many others - we actually didn't have major issues and that we seemed to be civil enough and there was no hatred among us and that we didn't wish ill will upon the other.

He said that and I really wanted to interrupt and correct him and say there was hatred - Adam previously admitted to me that he hated me, and recently I have been contemplating whether I hate him.  I didn't interrupt him but that is the purpose of this post.

On numerous occasions immediately after we separated, it was clear to me that Adam hated me, and I called him out on it and he never denied it.  In all fairness, he never admitted it either, but based on the way he "treats" me and acts towards me, it is quite clear that his feelings are well past a dislike and into the hatred category.

Personally, even though I don't like to use the word hate, I really WANT to hate him.  But I just don't know that I have it in me to hate someone.  I hate the things he does - intentionally or not intentionally - to me. I hate the attitude he takes towards things and his complete irresponsibility. I hate his lack of parenting, communication and motivation to be a better person. I hate how he is always full of excuses for everything and never takes ownership of anything.  I hate that he lies about everything - including the statement that he no longer lies - and that you can never trust a single word he says. I hate that this was always the case and I was completely blind to it until the kids came. Most of all, I hate that I can't bring myself to actually hate him.  I can honestly say that I hate everything about him, but somehow I don't hate him.

Is it because I've just found "acceptance"?  Is it because he is the father of my children?  Is it because I know that at one point, I was in love with him, so there just has to be some redeeming qualities?  Or is it because there is no place for hatred among people?

I don't think it's the acceptance thing because, although I am making progress towards that, I don't think I've gotten to the point of complete acceptance.  I also don't think its the latter, because I can say without a doubt in my mind that I 100% truly hate his parents - but that can be a topic for another day and time - and I don't have major qualms about saying I hate who he is, but not him overall.

After that therapy session, I heard two podcasts that made me think about this topic even more and resulted in my decision to blog about it. The first was from Life Is A Marathon and the podcast was titled "How To Love the Unloveable" and the podcast originated because the host (Bruce Van Horn), ends each episode by saying "I love you" and an Italian listener didn't understand how he could say he loves his audience when he doesn't even know his audience personally, and questioned whether his true meaning was the italian phrase "ti voglio bene!" which roughly translates to "I want the good for you"

Just as I think hate is a very strong word that should require consideration before choosing to use it, I think love is also a strong word that requires consideration before a romantic "atmosphere". On the other hand, I feel love is a happy word that we should use often to spread joy and happiness in our everyday lives - and that is the love that Bruce Van Horn speaks of when he tells us he loves us.

"I want the good for you" doesn't accurately portray (for me) what love does in a non-romantic setting. I think it is possible to have non-romantic feelings of love for people and things.  I love my kids, my dog, my family in a very personal, non-romantic way.  And here is where I bring the postfull circle.

I hate everything about my ex, and I so badly want to hate him, I truly dislike him, but...

...I love him.  I love him in a completely non-romantic, not even personal, way.

Without him, I wouldn't have N and S. Without him I wouldn't have learned hard life lessons that have helped me grow tremendously and will continue to help me grow. Without him, I wouldn't have learned to find acceptance, to be less OCD about things and to find happiness and joy.  Without him I wouldn't be who I am and I wouldn't have improved my self-esteem issues. Without him, I wouldn't know that somewhere there really is someone out there for me where I won't have to accept major flaws that eat at me daily.  Without him I wouldn't have learned what love is not, so I am more able to learn and know what true love is.

There is so much between love and hate, yet they are so intertwined that finding that space in between is quite difficult.

Monday, June 1, 2015

No Family Stuff, No Childhood Shit, I Just Need Some Strategies

After my last therapy session, I re-listened to Brene Brown's TED talks on Vulnerability and Shame A LOT. Both talks resonate with me, but the vulnerability one more so (right now).

At one point, Dr. Brown discusses having a breakdown from the results of her research on vulnerability and finding a therapist to "work through it". And here is what she says about it in the talk:
"So I found a therapist. My first meeting with her, Diana -- I brought in my list of the way the whole-hearted live, and I sat down. And she said, "How are you?" And I said, "I'm great. I'm okay." She said, "What's going on?" And this is a therapist who sees therapists, because we have to go to those, because their B.S. meters are good.  And so I said, "Here's the thing, I'm struggling." And she said, "What's the struggle?" And I said, "Well, I have a vulnerability issue. And I know that vulnerability is the core of shame and fear and our struggle for worthiness, but it appears that it's also the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love. And I think I have a problem, and I need some help." And I said, "But here's the thing: no family stuff, no childhood shit. I just need some strategies." 
After a few listens, that last line really resonated with me "no family stuff, no childhood shit. I just need some strategies." I didn't go into therapy outright thinking or saying that, but that's pretty much how I've been acting.

My initial introduction to therapy was back in 2013 when Adam and I went to couples therapy to try and work through our issues, and Adam was the one always in the "hot seat", so I really was just having a place to express my frustrations and be provided a few strategies to work through some of the issues.  Once the therapist realized that couples therapy was no longer going to be a help, we stopped that, but I continued to go on my own for a few months and it felt really good.  By the time we stopped (it was actually the therapist who thought there was no need for therapy), I had found a lot of peace and happiness.

Since that time, there have been ups and downs in my "relationship" with my ex, but after his mothers day antics I realized that I was giving Adam way too much space in my head, and so I started back at therapy.  First session was great and we really did discuss strategies and I incorporated some of those strategies over the following two weeks.  But my session last Tuesday progressed a bit differently.  We hit a road block, and when I asked how we get past it, the answer was no longer a strategic answer, but one that required us to delve into my past to find the root of the issue - a situation I unknowingly was dreading until the words came out of his mouth.

And that's when I felt incredibly vulnerable and felt the need to just keep things at the status quo and figure a way around it - but alas, I know very well that "easy" path is almost never the right path, nor is it typically easy in the end.

It will be a difficult road ahead, not because I have baggage, but more because I really don't know what baggage I have and I have to do a lot of deep thinking and soul searching to see what might be unconsciously causing me to react the way I do.

I know that I have a great family and wonderful friends and whatever I figure out about myself, I feel confident that I'll have a strong support network around me to help me through the tough times that lie ahead.

This will also be a big vulnerability test. I have learned to wear my vulnerabilities on my sleeve the last year or so, but I know there is so much more that I'm definitely hiding behind, whether consciously or unconsciously, whether its a matter of shame or just pure innocence, I'm scared to figure out what I might learn about myself, but I'm also a tad bit excited (yes - I'm weird) for the journey it will take me on to find an even deeper peace and happiness within myself.