Kissing Frogs

 

my prince by Anita Jeram for TWO BAD MICE
Art by Anita Jeram for Two Bad Mice

 

I remember when I was younger, my Mum would tell me what sort of man I should choose to be my husband one day.  Some of her advice was outstanding. I didn’t listen to it.

“Choose someone who is good with their hands.  A practical man,” she said.
“Don’t marry for money; but don’t love where there is none”.
“Make sure your choice is a man of God”.
I ignored them all, but the last one in particular. I recognised that a man of God wouldn’t choose a girl like me.  I was well away from the church by then, and even if one of those hapless chaps had wanted me, choosing someone from the church felt like choosing to straightjacket myself for time immemorial.  And anyway,  some of the most “Christ-like” people I have ever met don’t have a religious affiliation, but they are warm, giving, loving people.  So I amended that bit of advice to: “Make sure your choice is a good man”.  All three requirements made for a tall order.  Speaking of which, I had also decided that my Mr Right had to be tall, like me. It was my only physical criteria.  It is really hard to find a good man who is practical with his hands and sensible with money, a good person and tall to boot!  Especially when that isn’t what you are really looking for.  See, what I was attracted to was rebellion, passion, poetry and emotional connection.  I wanted excitement and intellectual conversations.  I wanted challenge and heated arguments.  I wanted crazy good sex.  Lots of it.

But it took me a long time to realise the kind of person I actually should spend my life with.  It was a lot more like my Mum’s set of criteria. By the time I was 27, I had been divorced and back on the dating scene for four years.  I was afraid I would never find someone. But I was a proactive searcher! I went along with one of my friends to a desperate and dateless ball.  It was Valentine’s Day.  And as I gathered my nerves and walked in I recognised I was definitely desperate… to be anywhere else!  My heart sank.  I made a beeline for the bar.  The only man among the crowd that even tickled my attention was talking animatedly to a Morticia lookalike.  I thought ‘if that’s his taste in women, he won’t look twice at me in my LBD and french chignon’.  And proceeded to drown my sorrows.

After about five plastic cups of chateau cardboard, I returned to the bar for my sixth. And there he was, Morticia’s mate.  He smiled.  I sidled up to him and said hello.  He spoke back in the most delicious English accent;  “Where did you disappear to? I saw you at the start of the night but couldn’t find you again!” He followed me out to the steps and we sat there until the wee small hours, talking. Even when the couples were emerging from the hall like it was the ark, in two by twos; we were still talking.  We watched them stagger out and off into the night.  He told me about his ex, he learned about my History of Men.  We were both divorced.  Both of our exes had cheated on us.  We talked until even the organisers had filed out of the hall. And carried on talking all the way to another nightspot.  Then, when it looked like time to go, he called me a cab. I had hoped he was going to make other suggestions (!) and so, when he called me a cab, I felt sad. I wondered if he hadn’t felt the connection I had felt.  I was a bit taken back by the gentlemanly approach.  He told me he would call me the next day.  Yeah right, I thought. I didn’t believe him.

But he did.  He rang!  We went out for dinner together the very next night.  Our eyes locked, we talked about books we loved, we covered the contents of the whole universe! We talked about love and loss and the language of trust. We laughed and ate great food and somewhere in that memory of that night is a moment.  He is looking into my eyes and I am knowing.  Knowing that he belongs with me. He felt that moment too.  We return to that moment whenever we are alone together.  It was the beginning of something important. Even now, we sometimes talk about how easy it would have been to miss each other.  To be living in Auckland at the same time, but never crossing paths.  I am grateful for the desperate and dateless ball.  For the cheap wine.  For Morticia (who turned out to be his flatmate). For the aligning of stars and the convergence of fates. And I’m glad that I didn’t give up searching.

But I wasn’t the smartest girl when it comes to love. I second guessed myself, as any serial dater would: was he right for me?

After we had been going out for some time, an ex boyfriend of mine came back to Auckland.  This guy told me that he was certain we were supposed to be together.  It threw me into a tailspin.  I told my man about what was happening and how I didn’t know what to do.  Had I taken the correct path?  Was I on track for happiness, or poised for disaster?  He nodded his wise head and suggested that we should break up. I should take my time and go and work it out.  So, that is what I did.  My Mum was horrified.  “He won’t wait for you to work it out Rachel” she said, “You’ve lost a good man there”.  During the whole time that I was figuring things out, that good man would invite me out for coffee.  We’d talk. A ten am coffee date would turn into pre-dinner drinks.  But he never pushed beyond friendship. We just talked. As the months stretched out I began to wonder…

He was always kind, always available to me. He talked to me with respect and felt comfortable talking about his feelings. He was sensible, cautious, careful.  He was reserved, but when he laughed it boomed out of his six foot four frame and shook the ground.  His natural tendencies were the opposite of mine.  Where I was spontaneous, he was a planner, when I was loud, he was quiet.  Where money ran through my fingers like sand, he was fiscally responsible.  And his values were solid. He prized trust above all things.  He spoke my language.

The other guy, my ex, was exciting.  A bit reckless even.  He had a capacity for needing me that made me feel important, even essential, to his life.  He wrote poetry and could turn a phrase into a thing of beauty.  He was deep. World-minded. Political. Complex.  But somehow, I couldn’t rest with it.   It occurred to me that I had spent so much time falling in and out of love with men I was attracted to;  and I was attracted to the wrong sort.  I had to make a decision with my head, not my heart.

And that’s what I did.  I chose the hubster.  With all of my head. And you know what?  The heart followed swift behind.  This time I knew without reserve that I had made the right choice. I was so fortunate that he was prepared to wait for me, to give me the respect and freedom of time to choose.  He was a good choice for me for all the right reasons, and none of the old reasons.  He was the start of something entirely new for me.  A relationship on equal terms, spoken in the same language of trust, built on a solid foundation. A healthy relationship.

My Mum was happy too.  

I’m glad to know that she approved.  I’m glad I made that decision when she was still with us.
She was right you know.  It’s a good thing to be married to a man who is good with his hands, responsible with money and who carries good values.  I have been so cared for, so nurtured by his magnanimous heart.  I know I made the right choice.  By then, I had kissed more than enough frogs in my quest for my handsome prince.  And I found him, there on the steps of Hopetoun Alpha. My prince. My happily ever after.

I’d love to know your love story.  Even if your story is about finding a love you haven’t met yet.
I am a sucker for love stories and I love finding out what brought two people together.
How did you meet your main squeeze?
How do you hope to meet them?
How did you know?
What was the clincher for you?

Let’s talk about love.

And honey?  Here’s to you:

Light Relief, The Tree and Me

 

source: harrypotter.wikia.com
source: harrypotter.wikia.com

I can be a bit intense, apparently. Is that a symptom of Dysautonomia?!  Ha!
I can get a bit serious.  Because sometimes it is hard to find the funny side of things.

But I can’t ever take myself too seriously, because I have been gifted a hubster who enjoys making fun of me (in a loving way) and making me laugh. A lot. His irreverent and naughty sense of humour has lifted me out of many a blue funk.  And I just unwittingly provide him with more comedy material, so it’s a mutually useful relationship.  Just lately, he’s been taking the piss (that is kiwi for teasing) about my self help studies.

One of the very useful exercises for self-care, one that I mentioned yesterday, is using your own hand as a ‘hand of compassion’. He thought that was hilarious.  I’ve been enduring his eyebrow toggles and suggestive looks every time I mention the ‘hand of compassion’.  He reckons he knows just where my compassionate hand should land, somewhere in the vicinity of his body.   Wink.  Nudge.  Eye roll!  He had the same joke about one of my favourite poetry books Where Your Left Hand Rests by Fiona Kidman. I think he hoped it was an instruction manual.  Honestly, are all men this way?

And then we were talking about a mindfulness exercise that I wanted to write about today.  I have been learning about how being “present” can provide you with an opportunity to calm down the negative self talk.  See, when I am thinking about how my body feels, it kicks off a litany of destructive thinking. This is a very common thought pattern for me because this body likes to slap me to attention, like an annoying brother, incessantly pushing the point, digging me in the ribs, lifting up my eyelids YOU AWAKE? RIGHT, SINCE YOU ARE PAYING ATTENTION… LOOK AT ALL THE WAYS I CAN ANNOY THE CRAP OUT OF YOU TODAY!  POKE!  SLAP! BLINDSIDE! THWACK!  And so I respond to that little shit with some very negative talk.  But I direct it at myself, because that is a bit less crazy than talking to my body as though it isn’t me.  I talk to me.  Inside my head. The track runs similar to this one:
Ugh.  Not again.  I can’t keep doing this.  Oh no…  so much is eroding.  I can’t go to school this morning to see my little guy do his thing. Another thing to miss, why couldn’t it be yesterday? I could have done it yesterday.  Poor me. Poor family. Ow… Yuck, that is so revolting, why do I have to deal with so much yuck stuff? How much worse is this going to get? Will my man get tired of dealing with me? My kids! Will I end up in a stinky nursing home, a drain on my family’s resources? Will I die before I’m ready?
And a freak out will be had.  Does that sound familiar?  Does your mind talk to you this way, too?

It is impossible not to be mindful of how my body feels. But by using the technique of mindfulness, it is possible to arrest the thinking patterns that give me anguish.  It’s like a kind of meditative awareness. So this is what I am doing.  Russ Harris (author of the book I talked about yesterday, The Mind Slap, and inventor of this exercise) says that if you are experiencing a lot of stress, you might need to do this excercise often.  It designed to help you be present with your pain. It helps you to develop the awareness of your thinking such that you don’t slide into the thought patterns that distress you.  The habit of that nasty self-talk that makes living with Chronic Illness a more scary, lonely, upsetting place to be.

THE TREE __ An Exercise in Mindfulness(4)Of course, if you are horizontal, you just have to adapt the tree image.  You can use your imagination about how to make the trees roots, trunk and branches work.  If I am stuck in bed, I use the foot of my bedframe to ‘ground’ myself. Or place my feet flat on the mattress with my knees up. Just adapt it to fit you, in your minds eye you can be any shape you want to be.  Here’s my audio version if you would rather listen:

 

 

So anyway, there I was last night, sitting in the living room, thinking about some serious shizzle.  I see my hubster out of the corner of my eye.  He is waving his arms around like he’s trying to get my attention.  I turn to look at him and all six foot three of him is doing an impersonation of a whomping willow.  In slow syllables he intones: “I am a tree…”  and I snort my tea.

Mindfulness is really good.
So is light relief.