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Archive for October, 2010

Intimacy and clarity or satisfaction and distance

I’m on a farm and I just got married to this short man.  We are in his mother’s house which is close to our house on the farm and his mother and sister are being really cruel to me.  His mother makes this almonds and paper bouquet for me. Where in there are these slips of paper asking me to be clear about my feelings and expectations in the marriage.  My husband is upset and I am as well so I move in front of him to get some intimacy, so he will wrap his arms around me but he moves away.  I look over at him hurt but he doesn’t seem to notice.  He moves to take a paper and answers the question written on it.  I move to sit next to him.  His hand is in between us and I take it in mine and start using my thumb to make circles on it because I am moved by his answer.  He looks at me confused and says, “Tammy you are going places so I just assumed our relationship would be based on satisfaction. I would just follow you and we would live at a distance.  You need to decide if you want satisfaction and distance or clarity and intimacy.” I was moved by this that he would move to get behind me.  I told him that I wanted intimacy and clarity.  And our whole relationship changed.  We began to talk, we began to hold hands and to become closer to each other.  He began to look more attractive.  He wasn’t as short and he was much better looking.  Intimacy and clarity was the much better way to go. He began standing up for me in different ways. He began to take my hand and ask for clarity when I was hurt.  I began doing the same for him and we lived closer lives together not just in proximity. 

If you haven’t figured it out yet this was a dream.  I’m not married and I do not live on a farm.  I was woken up by this dream and its clarity in my mind.  In relationships I have always gone with the satisfaction and distance model.  I seek to satisfy the other and to keep my mind, body and spirit at a distance.  Even in my every day life I am like this. Keep all people and relationships in the satisfaction and distance category.  But in reality I am seeking that intimacy and clarity model. I want both people to be able to be clear about their own wants and needs and for that to become intimacy.  I want more than anything in the world to be close to someone and to share my life with them. 

I never realized until now that the way I approach relationships could be keeping me from the things I want more than anything in the world.  I mean I know I have fort knox built around my heart because my heart has been broken so many times.  I have let people in and they have destroyed me so the wall I have built for protection is actually hurting me more than protecting me.  There has to be a way to have a shield of protection that will allow the good in and keep the bad at bay.  But maybe to enjoy the good you have to be willing to be vulnerable to the bad.

That idea of being vulnerable to the bad scares the crap out of me.  I don’t like being vulnerable even to the good but especially to the bad.  It just doesn’t seem right to be that vulnerable even to God.  Yes I keep God at bay as well.  God is the good but the walls around my heart are almost to thick for even him to get in.  Sure he gets past my walls but I am so worried about keeping the walls up that I don’t even notice that he is there.  One of my supervisors told me that you have to let go of your walls so that God can give you a shield of protection but letting go of my own walls is difficult and I don’t really know how to do it.  (But that’s not entirely true either. I mean I basically just have to ask God to help me take my walls down.  But that might be really hard.  And letting down the walls might make me fall apart.  So what do I do? Do I even have the time to fall apart right now? The answer to that one is quite clear NO! I don’t have the time to fall apart right now. I mean I am in seminary and I have sooo much to do.  I have my classes and my internship and the group of girls that i love.  But if I want the intimacy and clarity that I am seeking I am going to need to let down my walls and let go of them).  My supervisor said that I have to take up the armor of faith in order to have a relationship with a man again.  Because if I cannot be vulnerable with God how am I ever going to be vulnerable with a man.  Its good advice but its scary.

So it’s almost 8 which is when I set my alarm to wake me up so I can work on a paper that is due in a few hours.  And since I am on fire from this dream it may not prove as difficult as I was thinking it was going to be.  But I have to begin to switch gears now from talking about my clarity and intimacy issues to talking about slavery and women abolitionists.  Its much easier for me to talk about others than to explore my own issues.  But when this epiphany came in the form of a dream I had to explore the implications for my life.

Now maybe later today I can explore what it would mean to let go of my walls and to build an armor that is penetrable and vulnerable and what it would mean to build relationships on clarity and intimacy instead of satisfaction and distance……what an interesting morning I am having already 🙂

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Self-Care is Vital

I was talking with my roommate this evening and she was expressing how burnt out she is. As she was explaining I kept thinking where is your self-care? She has a job, an internship, and classes but she has no “me time”.

Now some might say (and they could be right) that I have too much “Tammy time”. But I need all the “Tammy time” I can get. I am an introvert at heart. I like being around people but I love to refuel by being by myself. So at least 1 hour a day I try to do something for me. Now I am poor so that doesn’t mean spending money on myself. Rather it means spending 1 hour reading a fiction novel “for fun”, or spending 1 hour coloring in a coloring book, or spending 1 hour watching my favorite tv show, or spending 1 hour knitting or spending 1 hour taking a nap. Now some days I am lucky and my “Tammy time” is longer than 1 hour and I can allow myself to relax a little bit longer but some days it is just 1 hour and I find that even that 1 hour is enough to refuel me to carry on to the next day.  Some of my “Tammy time” is about reminding myself that even in this crazy world and crazy time in my life I am a capable person.

I could see on my roommate’s face that she had trouble allowing herself some “me time.” When I see that look on my friends’ faces I want to say, “You can either take your “me time” each day or one day a week or you can choose not to do self-care and burn out by the time you are 40.” For me the price of spending time on me is less than the cost it would be to have a mental breakdown because of the enormous amount of pressure I feel I am under. I decide to take “Tammy time” because 1 hour a day and possibly 1 day a week taking care of myself is worth it. 

Today was a really difficult day for me. Mainly because a really close friend of mine is having surgery tomorrow and I am really worried about her. I went to see her tonight and looking at her lying in that hospital bed reminded me of what happens to my body when I ignore it (not that that is her problem but it reminded me of what could happen to me). If I don’t pay attention to my body when it tells me I am exhausted then there is a good possibility that I could get sick.  So 7 hours a week and 1 day a week I spend time on me because the consequences of not doing so are too severe.

My advice to you is to do the same. To take 1 hour a day to do something fun just for you. Now your list might include playing a video game or playing board games or hanging out with the person that you love. But whatever it is I encourage you to take that time. To make time for yourself and let it be just that: for yourself. Don’t feel guilty that you are neglecting your responsibilities because you are not.  Taking care of yourself no matter what field you are in should be your first priority because who are you going to be able to help when you have a breakdown or get sick.  Take care of yourself so that you can better take care of others!!!! 🙂

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