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I Love You and Thank You

It's been three months since Michael died. When The Beautiful One returned from her last visit with him and his devoted life partner Jody, she knew much more intimately the . . . [Read More]

Unruly Books: Is Home Your Happy Place? (June)

We are going to read my book Is Home Your Happy Place? together. I know, I know. How exciting might it be to read a book about clutter? Well, it's not . . . [Read More]

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Unruly Rants

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There was this piece of me—a young, vulnerable, desperate piece of me—who begged for someone to finally just tell me who the hell I was supposed to be, or do, or what my life was supposed to be about. Every time life intensified, waves of hysteria would swell from deep within me, the fear that I’d get it wrong… that I couldn’t trust myself to know what was true for me. I felt terrified that, without external guidance, my life would be wasted.

But then I started to explore what one of my early teachers called “the spirituality of the self”. I studied the way I reacted to the world around me, the way I allowed certain relationships, circumstances, and experiences to affect me. I learned I was powerful, far more powerful than I’d ever imagined, and that I could change reality by changing the way I was showing up in the world. In time, I released what no longer served me and made space for my truth to become my life. The artist, the lover, the priestess, the mother, the healer, the dancer, the writer . . . one discovery at a time, I hosted a reunion of the pieces of my soul.

This transformation was possible because of the supports I cultivated for myself along the way.  My blog is an extension of my journals. I use it to share the lessons I’ve learned, powerful resources, and inspiring stories of my clients’ transformations. Dig in and find the information and inspiration you need today and keep coming back when you need another dose! If you can’t find what you’re looking for, email me your question and I’ll see what I can find for you.

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August 9, 2016

I Love You and Thank You

Patrick Humphries via Flickr
Patrick Humphries via Flickr

It’s been three months since Michael died. When The Beautiful One returned from her last visit with him and his devoted life partner Jody, she knew much more intimately the nightmare that is dying the way Michael was dying. ALS had ravaged Michael’s body and stolen his ability to speak. He could no longer easily express his needs or desires. He was able to operate the machine that spoke mechanically for him but it was incredibly slow. Something to drink or eat was difficult to request, not to mention the challenge of getting it into his body if the communication went well, and I couldn’t imagine how far down the list of “things important enough to struggle to communicate” — requests like change the tv channel — had fallen.

We joked about how she’d be wonderful if it were me losing my ability to communicate because she knows me so well. She reads my mind with relative ease and often perceives my hunger or headaches before I even notice the signals in my body.

We agreed I would be disastrous at that aspect of care giving, the attempts to understand what she was thinking. I’d probably guess us both into fits of hysteria without ever coming close to what she really needed. My desire to give her the.very.best.care. would be desperate and I’d drive us both mad.

Suddenly, she sobered again, tears filled her eyes.

Me: What is it, love?

Her: There would be so many things I would want to say to you.

Me: I know. Me, too. I simply cannot imagine. 

(Tears poured down both of our faces.)

Me: Maybe we could go ahead and think about the things we would want to say and say them to one another. You know, in case we can’t later?

(Many more tears fell.)

Her: I would want you to know that I love you. 

Me: Yes, I love you. 

Her: And I would want to thank you. 

Me: Yes, I would want to thank you . . . for all of . . . for everything . . . for all of this. 

Her: And . . . I don’t know. I think the rest is okay. 

Me: I think so, too. Just that I love you and I thank you for everything. 

Her: I love you and thank you for everything.

So every night we say these things. I love you. And thank you for this day. Sometimes, in a moment of deep joy, we will say it in the middle of the day. And occasionally, we say it in a moment where life feels really, really hard. It helps us remember that it’s an illusion, the hardness I mean, because we are both still here.

____
It’s Find Your Voice* month here at The Unruly Woman and last night when I said these words to her I thought, “This is a moment when I truly covet the ability to use my voice.” I am writing to invite you to use your voice for something this important today. Because love.

*Registration closes Wednesday (8/10).

As always, if you need support, I’m here.
March 15, 2016

Unsigned Mail: Healing From Infidelity

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Can a relationship recover after infidelity?

Dear Unruly Woman,

Yes, a relationship can recover after infidelity. Plain and simple: Yes, you can do this. But YOU means both of you and no one person is “enough” to heal this kind of betrayal on their own.

Deep down in the core of my being, I believe that two people who are in love and want to be together can heal any wounds that have come between them. You two will need to listen like you’ve never listened to one another before. You’ll need new tools. You’ll need radical honesty. You’ll both need to fight for your future.

(You’ll may even need professional support. I’m here.)

You’ll need to open your heart and share all of what you left unspoken in the past, the very things that left your relationship vulnerable to The Other One is now what you most need to share.

This affair — whether it was a one time sex act, an emotional betrayal, or a full-on scandalous affair — is not The Problem. And although it certainly feels like it, The Other One is not actually The Problem either.

The Other One simply occupied space that appeared between you and your beloved. The space is The Problem. Your sleeping-bags-zipped-together-in-a-cozy-tent-for-two partnership changed over time. It’s not a crime. All relationships evolve, because the people in them evolve, and if we are not careful, we grow apart while we’re growing up.

The untended heartbreaks and unresolved conflicts left you two feeling cautious, retreating from the battle lines and into the safety of your own inner worlds. Instead growing up together, you pulled away a little at a time and soon home had two distinctly different sides. Retreating cultivates more conflict, which all too often makes you want to retreat even further from the one you love.

Infidelity can be the thing you blame for destroying your relationship but it can also be a wake up call, the life-altering reality check you needed to heal the old wounds. The Other One can be the final grain of sand tumbling into the lower half of the hourglass to tell you that it is time to flip your relationship on its head and begin again.

Again, the space is The Problem that exists between the two of you and The Other One is but a mere distraction. If both you and your beloved want to have a future together, evict the distraction and get busy building a new life.

This is a deeply shattering time. Allow yourselves and your old broken relationship to be completely destroyed.  And then, be bold enough to bring your true self to the table and brave enough to allow your partner to do the same. Speak the unspeakable.  Forgive like you want to be forgiven. Open your heart and invite the love of your life to enter once more. Touch. Look into one another’s eyes like there is no such thing as time.

Say yes to today, to a beautiful new way of being together, and then recommit to your togetherness every morning when you rise. And if you rise and yes doesn’t feel true for you, you owe it to one another to speak into it. Yes, ask every single day. If you both choose to embrace this invitation, you can give birth to a brand new love.

Love and truth to you,

Christy, The Unruly Woman

Click here to submit your Unruly Confessions & Unsigned Mail. Some Unruly Confessions and Unsigned Mail (with my responses) will be published in Incite, my (ideally) daily attempt to incite unruliness in our community via email. Go here and register to spice up your inbox or ask questions without the cloak of anonymity.

As always, if you need support, I’m here.
January 13, 2016

House Rules

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Every now and then, two people hire me to support them both through a tender time in their relationship. We work on whatever feels true for them and the intentions vary a great deal. One topic that almost always bubbles up is conflict resolution. Recently, I “heard” to ask one couple to work with me to create a list of rules to help them make better choices during times of conflict.

What I love most about this list is that these aren’t my ideas about what’s best for them. I asked each of them to write me their (unedited) wish list of ways to bring their collective best at times of conflict.

Partner #1’s ideas

  • Be nice, not hurtful.
  • If you’re feeling hurt, tell me.
  • If you’re done, be done. Don’t get in a parting shot.
  • Operate on good faith
  • Give the benefit of the doubt
  • Don’t assume a fuck up is part of my character. Ask. Explain how I hurt you.
  • Recognize your own limits in a discussion and own them – communication isn’t your strong suit. What you think isn’t always what comes across.
  • If I ask for clarification, I’m not trying to beat you. I’m trying to understand you.
  • Don’t assume that I should know something. Check.
  • Acknowledge me. Out loud.
  • I understand that you’re mad. But don’t stay mad because you think you should.
  • Be open to my efforts (and recognize them as such)
  • Be open to your affectionate feelings toward me. Let them flow when they want, and don’t ever feel like you need to force it (fake it til you make it is ok, though)
  • De-escalate at every opportunity. Talk through, not over/around
  • Be intellectually honest. See that you may have not had the info you needed/missed something, and be willing to change accordingly.

Partner #2’s ideas

  • Assume all interactions / feelings are based on good will.
  • Communicate as clearly as possible. If an interaction changes quickly, consider a trigger being at play. Try not to snap back (escalate) but to call it what it is.
  • Check in with your own feelings. Own them. Maybe even disclose them proactively if you might need a little more space / gentleness / whatever.
  • Keep the ego in check. Everyone has different needs and wants, it’s not a personal attack if someone wants something different than what you hoped they wanted.
  • Clean up after yourself as much as possible. Don’t make yourself crazy about it but maintain the basics (dishes, wrappers, etc. to sink or trash). Paying attention to bigger things and helping out when able is really appreciated (vacuuming, organizing avalanche of kids’ toys, refill soap or paper towels).
  • Respect privacy. I am a more private person and don’t want to talk about tender things with just anybody. It feels unfair and hurtful when you share my more personal issues with others (in my presence or not).
  • Don’t drink directly from the milk container. Sometimes I use milk in cooking and it’s just gross to have crumbs floating in the milk.
  • Don’t yell at the kids or each other. As much as possible let’s really STOP.

These 13 house rules are the final product of our work together:

HOUSE RULES

  1. Be nice or leave (the conversation).
  2. If you’re going to leave, leave respectfully.
  3. Assume the best in one another.
  4. Bring the best of yourself.
  5. Seek understanding instead of right and wrong.
  6. Remember your partner may not know or understand what has happened or is happening.
  7. Ask questions and be open to receiving questions.
  8. Be as open to one another as you can bear to be in each moment. (Disclose feelings, reach out, reveal self, etc.)
  9. Be willing to recognize and disclose triggers. (Clues: Yelling, hateful words, disrespect, dragging up old stuff, always/never, etc.)
  10. Do “The Work” together and individually. This may mean returning to find resolution on previously “left” matters.
  11. Ask for what you need or desire.
  12. Take care of your own shit and the family’s collective shit.
  13. Respect one another’s privacy. If you’re not certain, ask first.

Are you bringing your best self to the conflicts in your home? Do you think a process like this could help? What do you need from your partner? What do you need to remember when the going gets tough?

Image: Andrius Petrucenia via Flickr

As always, if you need support, I’m here.
January 4, 2016

Unsigned Mail: Self-Care Affair?

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I’ve had affairs. 2 of them. They went on for a long time. I feel really bad about them. I needed to connect. I needed a connection without baggage or resentment. I have no excuse. I do feel bad about them. Except when I don’t feel bad about it. For a while, those moments were the only moments when I felt remotely ok about anything. Is there any way that an affair can be considered self-care?

Dear Unruly Woman,
We typically think of self-care as soul-nourishing, sanity-cultivating, inner-peace-supporting activities like eating healthy food, taking hot baths, meditating, or a having a night out with the girls. These kinds of activities leave us feeling rested, restored, and more ready to face whatever lies ahead. Self-care is important. It keeps a little bit of distance between us and the ledge. It helps us be at our best while we maneuver the realities of every day life. 

Self-care makes us feel better and when we are in crisis — trust me, you are in crisis if you’re in a committed monogamous relationship and are having an affair — self-care becomes even more vital. So at the time that you’re most in need, you’re choosing to fill that hole with behavior that will likely dig your hole a big bit deeper.  

When you are feeling so out of alignment that a lover’s embrace is the only place you find relief, you have a problem. Let’s just say that it is not so much “self-care” as an alarm system that is going off, loudly, over and over. Beep Beep Beep. Houston, we have a problem! 

Are there elements of your affair that make you feel better? Yes, the stone cold truth is that taking a lover is a damn fine way to feel better. But it comes with epic consequences and you’d be hard-pressed to find me a situation where it was actually the best solution. 

How easy it is to escape into those “moments” and ignore the reality of your life? Well, I can tell you that it’s too damn easy. And we must be conscientious about the choices we make at these tender times. We all know that in a period of darkness, an affair can bring back the light. But it’s like illuminating a warehouse with a box of matches — each one is way to short, they only let you see the tiny space right before you, and eventually you’re probably going to burn it down.  

Yes, an affair absolutely can be — in theory, at least — part of a self-care plan. But what’s it going to cost you? 

Do you have to lie to your partner to hook up with your lover? Is the affair creating more conflict at home? Are you telling your suspicious partner that he or she is out of their mind (because that’s a great way to earn my wrath) instead of admitting that things are not okay at home?

Are you talking to your lover when it’s your partner you really ache to be connected to? Is this person taking up sacred time you could be using to be honest with your partner about how you feel, and what you need and desire? Would you be more well served to use this time to respectfully leave the committed relationship that no longer feels true for you? 

Ask yourself how an affair truly affects you. Does being with your lover make you not want to go back to your real life? Does that fling feel so good that you’re pulling away from work, family, and home? Do you leave your lover’s arms feeling further from your truth? If so, then an affair may not be worth the cost, even in the name of self-care.

Self-care efforts need to leave us feeling more aligned with the truth of who we are, not less. Let us say YES when the benefits give us more it costs us. Give yourself TRUE support — not half-assed, backfiring, make-it-worse-than-it-was-to-start-with bullshittery. You deserve better. In fact, you deserve the best. 

So is a lover really what’s needed in these powerful moments? If yes, fine, do that. But if not, get yourself the support you really need to live your truth and stop fucking around. 

Love and truth to you,

Christy, The Unruly Woman

Click here to submit your Unruly Confessions & Unsigned Mail. Some Unruly Confessions and Unsigned Mail (with my responses) will be published in Incite, my (ideally) daily attempt to incite unruliness in our community via email. Go here and register to spice up your inbox or ask questions without the cloak of anonymity.

Image: Bogdan Suditu via Flickr

As always, if you need support, I’m here.
November 23, 2015

Love’s Invitation

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When I was young, an adult in my life explained the reasons she was leaving another adult in my life. She noted three qualities about him that made staying together feel impossible for her. The Voices In My Head (before I knew anything about them) noted that these were the three exact same qualities that made him attractive to her when they first fell in love. She’d grown to loathe and resent him for what was once desirable.

I’ve been in and out of love enough times in the last forty years to make sense of this. We are drawn to partners who embody that which we ache to have in our own lives. The one who doesn’t play picks a partner who is playful. The one who feels a little too carefree picks a partner with a strong work ethic who pays all of their bills on time. The one who holds back picks a partner who goes all in.

At first, it is exciting to be with someone who brings to the partnership that which we crave. We enjoy having a light shined onto whatever we’ve hidden away in the shadows. The fearful one finds out they are brave. The worker bee finds out that sometimes it’s really nice to just be. The talkative one learns to enjoy the sacredness of silence.

Our togetherness invites us to expand and grow.

In the early days, our togetherness is supported by the passion and excitement of falling in love. We lovingly explore one another. We patiently listen. As we bump into them, we joyfully embrace one another’s wounds. We respectfully analyze conflicts. We carefully hold our partner’s heart in our warm, gentle hands. We expose ourselves and protect one another. We are brave and united.

Love heals all things… until it doesn’t.

Time passes and things begins to get complicated. Our togetherness calls forward all of our old wounds, seducing us with illusions of our earliest heartbreaks, fun house mirrors projecting the qualities of those who hurt us decades ago onto the one we call beloved today.

We can allow our togetherness to heal us, or we can allow it to destroy us. We can accept Love’s Invitation, or we can close our hearts and alienate the one we treasure the most. We can celebrate our differences or we can make enemy of the very aspects that made us ache for our lover in the beginning. We can do our work or we can perpetuate against our partners the very violence we experienced when we were young.

Our togetherness invites us to expand and grow. Let us accept the invitation.

Bring the truth with love. Seek connection. Support one another in all of the ways that feel true. Play together. Take responsibility for what we bring to the table. Stay unless it feels true to leave. Laugh and cry. Learn one another. Touch with gentle hands. Make mad passionate love. Know what matters and do it together. Leave space for bullshittery. Watch the moon rise and count the freckles. Nourish the heart, mind, and body. Choose tenderness, even if we don’t understand. Ask for forgiveness and give it. Dream and remember but know that this moment is the only one that really matters. Say yes. Be brave. Open our hearts. Lay the stepping stones we can choose to walk together tomorrow.

Our togetherness is a choice we make every day.  Can we accept Love’s Invitation?

As always, if you need support, I’m here.