Saturday, August 27, 2016

Facebook: Reality Soap Opera

Growing up, many of you and your mothers watched soap operas. I and several college dorm mates even scheduled classes around All my Children so we never missed it.  Most soap operas are a thing of the past, with only one or two still on daytime TV. Others faded into their serial sunset or went 21st Century tech with web broadcasts. Wonder why?

My theory is because of Facebook. Where can you get better real life drama? We watched the relationship dramas of Erica Kane, the vengeful wrath of the Cassadines, and the mental troubles of Vicki/Nicki daily, because it made us feel better about our own lives! We felt better knowing there were worse love relationship issues, greater dysfunction within families, and more serious health and mental problems than our own.

Today, Facebook has become reality’s soap opera. We post daily, myself included (*) about whatever is going on in our lives, good or bad. This social media connects us to each other with people we haven’t seen in forever, but wondered about often. Instead of the drama and celebrations of Landview or Pine Valley, we have the good, the bad and the ugly posted all over Facebook.

How has Facebook replaced the good old days of daily soaps?

General Hospital. You know where I’m going here – the daily postings of loved ones and friends who are sick, who are in the hospital, asking for prayers.* Some Facebook extremists post god-awful photos of their loved ones right out of surgery, swollen with tubes coming out of every orifice while unconscious! We “check in” to Urgent Care, the ER, or the doctor’s office, alerting others all is not well. We post when we are under the weather, taken a fall*, or been in an accident. We share news of loved ones struggling with long-term illness, and/or the loss of loved ones who pass unexpectedly. We seek empathy, sympathy, and prayers. Facebook is often where I learn about this news for people I care about, and in need of prayer and support. I’ve opened it up countless times to learn a friend has passed or struggling with health issues. Facebook keeps us informed, and this is how it’s become General Hospital.

All My Children. Baby pics. First day of school pics. Prom pics. Graduation pics. We share our pride and joy, our sorrows and heartbreaks, our worries about our kids on Facebook.. Those of us who don’t have two-legged children share news about our four-legged children* with pet photos, news of their transition, health concerns, and their antics too.  On the flip side, we also see the ugly side of parenting: the ungrateful and disrespectful kiddos by parents who struggle with their relationships, or the choices of their offspring. Facebook brings us news of All our Children.

 One Life to Live. These Facebook posts share our successes, our feats, and accomplishments that make us most proud of. Vacation adventures*, Iron Man or 3K finishes, or goals achieved such as new jobs* and weight loss. Posts also include selfies with celebrities,* or experiences of hob-nobbing. While these posts are upbeat and fun to see, sometimes many interpret these crossing that fine line of bragging, depending on the interpretation of the reader. Regardless, these Facebook posts share how people seize the One Life they Live.

The Bold and the Beautiful. Selfies of varying kinds.* Family portraits. Dress up pics. The selfies we do for profile photos, but most take this practice to a whole new level of mirror shots, car shots,* and modeled shots. There is the lips-puckered selfie,* the reflective selfie, the new doo selfie,* and the mug shot selfie. And don’t forget the group selfies* comprised of two or more people (or pets*) out on the town, having a good time or hanging out. Family portraits portray perfection of unity, and don’t forget the self-esteem selfies when we are feeling good about looking good.  These are the lives of the Bold and the Beautiful.

Days of our Lives. Check-ins at restaurants. Mood reports. Work outs at the gym. Doctor appointments. Spiritual/Religious pats on the back. School pick-up of kids. Work updates. We post highlights of the day, pics of our meals,* and commutes to work. We keep people informed about how our day is going or has gone, what’s great or not great about our day and week.* Facebook helps us connect socially with people, and provides us a venue to vent about what is going well or not so well in the Days of our Lives.

Facebook is the social media stage in which life and all its dramas and joys unfolds. I didn’t address the political posts, videos shares, memes and other such things we see daily on this social forum. Facebook has blazed a new type of reality soap opera, and despite it’s good, bad and ugly, it keeps us connected with people we haven’t seen in forever, barely know, and people who know who we know.

For all its annoyances, Facebook is equally good. It is a drama zone but we as Facebookers own responsibility in how much drama we create, not only on social media, but in our own lives. 

Let’s make the most of the days of our lives in the one life that we live, live boldly and beautiful, unconditionally raise all our children, and stay healthy and out of the general hospital.


Sunday, July 24, 2016

Last Stop: Reconciliation Station

I walked away from a three year relationship a year ago this weekend. I felt peace around the decision, though my heart felt great pain. The love I felt for this man was one I’d not ever felt for any other man. But in my heart of hearts, emotional intelligence knew the relationship wasn’t what it needed to be, nor what I deserved.

Knowing that truth didn’t ease the intense heartache I felt, or the emotions of grief from the loss.

The relationship was a good one – we enjoyed each other’s company and I laughed more often than I ever cried. I was treated well, as the man I love was generous in many ways, supportive and caring. Other than a few times when he felt (I realize in hindsight) cornered into an emotionally uncomfortable situation, he was kind, gentle and respectful towards me with his words. His relationship management choices were not always so respectful toward me and my feelings, but again, with 20/20 hindsight vision, I recognize how some behaviors and actions supported his goal of compartmentalizing v. integrating me and our relationship in his life.

My feelings for him were like none I had ever felt for a man. I loved him unconditionally, despite his unproductive choices and actions in our relationship. The decision to end our three years together was hard given the fact that I love the man. It was a good decision, regardless of my heartache.

For a year leading up to that decision, I struggled with how things were between us, and that we were not heading in the direction I had been repeatedly reassured we were going. Add to that the pink elephant in the relationship: his non-expression of love for me. Year Three opened the blinds to shine the Light of Truth on the situation. Initially, I chose to hide in the shadows for a while, not wanting to see the reality of our relationship. The Light continued to expand and reveal the truth of “what is”, and still, I chose to turn my eyes away, blinding myself, and others with excuses I made for him on his behalf. I argued with myself, claiming that I needed to be more patient. I was just fooling myself and making a fool out of myself. Deep down in my heart of hearts, I knew the truth. Once I chose to face the Light, look more closely at our relationship and the man I love, doubts created the stepping stones I needed to walk toward the hard reality: this man wasn’t that into me, and worse, he and I didn’t really have a future together as he’d led me to believe.

For several months, I questioned him about our future, seeking relief from the glaring light of clarity. There were temporary moments of shade, but the heat of truth burned upon me over and over again. In the month leading up to the perpetual Moment of Truth, I eventually realized I had two choices: miserably continue in a relationship that was real to only one of us, or live in greater self-respect and peace without the man I love.

A year later, I made that difficult choice, and its heartache remains an emotionally wise scar in my memory and heart. Fortunately, the grief and pain are not as intense, and my thoughts are less consumed by the loss, though I think fondly everyday of the man I love. I miss him and his friendship. I’m realizing I can still love him, but just not be in a relationship with him. I’m learning I can share my heart brimming of love with others – my beagles, my family, friends, the children I serve at work, strangers, and most importantly, myself. I’m learning that there are many people in my life who value and appreciate me, my heart and the love it offers. Today, I close in on freedom from any of resentment around this experience. I realize I must find forgiveness for him; and self-forgiveness for allowing myself to love and believe him more than I loved and believed in myself. This I can accomplish through unconditional love for us both.

I recently heard a speaker discuss the difference between reconciliation and resolution. Resolution involves rehashing everything, which I am absolutely uninterested in doing, since I’ve spent an exhausting year doing that. Reconciliation is reconnecting and moving forward without any emotional barriers between two people, leaving the past in the past. I don’t know that I have arrived at Reconciliation Station just yet; but it’s the final stop on the itinerary of this relationship’s journey. Full and unconditional forgiveness is my ticket to this destination. They say time heals all things, but I also know I must willingly dig a little deeper in my heart’s pocket to find that ticket. I know it’s there; I just need a little more travel time to find it.

And for the first time in a year, I’m actually feeling excited about arriving at this next stop, and completing the final leg of this relationship’s journey.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Two Hearts, Wrong Page

Have you ever caught yourself in a whopper of a lie? Boy howdy, when you get real and look deep to see the truth of what is, it’s like a punch in the gut, or sometimes, to the heart. I experienced such a heart-punch a year ago.

I learned my three year relationship with the man I love was not what I thought it was; essentially a lie, and one that I myself helped create. Punch number one to the heart. But once it ended and the dust settled, I later learned the man I love was an accomplice in creating my false notion of our relationship. Punch to the heart number two, which left me angry, hurt, and picking up the pieces of my broken heart. Neither of us meant to make me feel like a fool. My faith and belief in the man I love overruled my trust and belief in my intuition in myself. His fears fueled cowardice and overruled his kindness and courage to be honest with me when presented with opportunities to do so.

Each and every one of us deserve honesty, especially in affairs of the heart. When I receive dishonesty in return for my heartfelt love, my sensitive heart shatters with disappointment. No one’s love should be taken for granted, or taken advantage of. My heart is precious, and runs deep with love. It deserves to be valued, appreciated by another unconditionally loving heart. When I decide to give my heart to someone, it is after much consideration; cautiously, not impulsively, and only after feeling a sense of trust and confidence in its recipient. I marvel at my heart’s willingness to love again and again, despite the numerous heartbreaks it’s had from those who have rejected it, and those who have gone out of their way to break it and me. Fortunately, my heart is resilient, and when it loves, it is all in. My heart forgives many transgressions, small and large. When my heart feels troubled, it’s calling me to wake up to the reality of my situation, signaling that maybe it’s time to move on. That’s where I get into trouble. I am a creature of loyalty and I, along with my loving heart, will fight tooth and nail to make a connection of the heart work, because I believe so deeply in the other person, his heart and its potential to love.

The problem? A connection requires two hearts be on the same page.

During this relationship, dishonesty won out over courage when inquiries were made about our future. Every time, I believed in him and our future, based on several conversations asking for honesty about where things were between us and his feelings. I asked if we had a future, if “this” was going anywhere, and each time I was reassured there is, and it was. As a result, I continued to trust and believe the man I love and the relationship. With 20/20 hindsight, I see I ignored subtle red flags. Instead of being a smart woman trusting her intuition, I believed in what I thought were “honest” conversations. Then the red flags grew in size, forcing me to see what I knew wasn’t as they appeared:

~Unsolicited conversations about him and his future did not include me. 
~I was never introduced to people he knew/work colleagues in his community, even when we ran into them.
~I was never introduced to his friends, nor was I invited to hang out with them when opportunity arose.
~Interactions with his kids happened because I encouraged it, he didn’t. 
~I was never invited join him and his kids on Christmas or Thanksgiving holidays, or family vacations.
~I was treated as an outsider when we were with his kids, and as if I wasn't there.
~I received reassurances of a future, but was told “I’m happy with the every other weekend”. 
~He never once told me he loved me in three years, despite my expression of love for him.

This time last year, these red flags pounded me over the head, leaving me with a sickening feeling the jig was up. I asked for space and distance; he told me we’d figure out a way to get things back on track. Over the next month, I went into emotional shock. The truth shattered the glass house with in which I held our relationship, exposing it, and worse, my role in facilitating the delusion I had of it. I had to confess to myself that I ignored my intuition and its earlier warning signs. And my heart writhed in absolute misery missing the man I love, while simultaneously reminding me that he did not love me. I felt alone, unwanted, a loser, and a fool. I continued to fight for us and our connection of heart. However, a heart unwilling to love cannot fight the good fight when it fears itself unworthy of a love worth fighting for.

I now recognize the wisdom of lessons learned from the experience.
  • I held on too long in hopes the man I love would love me; if he ain’t saying it after a year, he ain’t feeling it, nor is he gonna say it!
  • I overlooked the contradictions between his words of reassurance and his actions that defied them.
  • I allowed myself to be played the fool by going along with those contradictions, trusting it all still.
  • I chose to ignore my intuitive gut, and brilliantly played the part of romantic fool for this play called Love for my friends and family.

Love requires sacrifices, always, but it does not require sacrificing one’s own Self-love and Self-respect. Ultimately, I walked away from the man I love because it was the healthier choice for me, my heart, and my self-respect. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it was the best decision. 

Today, I continue working through the grief of this relationship loss, and toward finding unconditional forgiveness for us both. I believe(d) he was the one. I still love him, miss him and us. Eventually, hopefully, I will come to some peace within myself about it all, and reconcile those feelings against all that came to pass. In the meantime . . . . .

What I know for sure:
I want and deserve to be happy, even if that “happy” doesn’t include him in my life.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Letting Go of the Waffle

Hello, long time no write, I know. It's been two years since my last post. There are a number of reasons, but I'll spare you. My heart and soul has urged me to write for awhile, and I resisted. I am finally giving in to their urging. I just hope you find it worthwhile to read. Thank you for reading in the past.

One of my first memories of waffles are those my mom made on Sunday mornings. Mom took great care making our waffle breakfast, mixing the ingredients until just blended then folding in the beaten-stiff egg whites. The waffles came out fluffy and I loved them, because I loved my mom. I loved those Sunday mornings when my family sat down together for a meal, talked and enjoyed each other’s company. Those times are fond memories.

Since my mom died, I hadn’t enjoyed homemade waffles until three years ago. Nor has a waffle breakfast meant as much until someone else I loved made them for me on Sunday mornings. The waffles were simple, a recipe on the back of a Bisquick box, yet tasted incredibly delicious. With a few slices of bacon, scrambled eggs, and a waffle topped with butter and syrup, adding a cup of Starbucks coffee or hot tea along with a side dish of meaningful and intellectually stimulating conversation, I enjoyed the togetherness of my favorite meal of the day. My heart warmed once again with the fond moments shared with my loved one.

Just as the togetherness of family waffle breakfasts ended, so ended my recent experiences of Sunday morning waffles. Since the end of July, I have felt out of sort with loneliness every other weekend, and I missed those waffle breakfasts. I decided to tackle the overwhelming sense of emptiness by making Sunday morning waffles myself. I buy a waffle maker and a box of Bisquick. The smell of bacon and Starbuck’s coffee wafts through the air, triggering within me a sense of comforting familiarity. The waffle iron heated, I prepare the waffle mix, making my own waffle while eggs scrambled nearby. I sit down at the table with a waffle dressed in butter and syrup, bacon to its left and eggs to its right, ready to savor the joy of a breakfast I’ve missed. I take one bite, and the letdown takes over. My waffle doesn’t taste the same, lacking something, but what? I used Bisquick, and the same recipe on the side of the box, so what happened? I try it again the next weekend, and once again, my waffle experience disappoints, leaving me feeling unfulfilled.

I decide to try another strategy, picking up a box of actual waffle mix with the hope of yielding a more palatable experience. Once again, my anticipation is let down as the breakfast leaves little to be desired. Wait! I remember I had my mom’s cookbook, contained within it the very waffle recipe she used. I gather what I need, carefully following the recipe to the nth degree. Ever hopeful, I sit down to the waffle breakfast I cherished in the long ago past, as well as the ones more recently. I cut a piece of the waffle dressed in butter and syrup and bring it to my mouth. I chew in anticipation of that warm and fuzzy feeling I have missed over the last twenty weeks; that both my mouth and heart long to experience once again. I chew. I wait for that familiar feeling. While the waffle was the best waffle I had made thus far, it isn’t the waffle I sought.

In that moment I realized the missing ingredient was the company I loved when eating the waffle. The flavor of togetherness seasoned my Sunday morning breakfasts. It added to the meal which was a beautiful way to start my day, to end the weekend, and to start my week. What I was seeking was the company I loved and enjoyed while eating the waffle on Sunday mornings.

Upon this realization, I knew it is time for me to let go of the waffle. It only wanted to be my breakfast every other weekend; and only then because I filled a void on weekends when others weren’t around to enjoy it. This understanding reminded me why I chose to end my three-year relationship. I just never realized that doing so would make a waffle taste so heartbreakingly different.