What’s Your Language?

Yesterday I took the Love Languages Test.  I found it really interesting and truly accurate.

I few years ago, I read the book and made my best guess as to which language was my top one.  For those of you who are unfamiliar, here is description I took from the Love Languages website:

  1. Words of affirmation: These are things you say that are encouraging and affirming. I imagine that they are complimentary in nature as well.  Things like, ” I am so proud of you.”
  2. Acts of Service: These are things one can do for other people: cutting the lawn, taking out the trash, making dinner.  These acts service help the other person in some way with seemingly mundane tasks.
  3. Quality Time: This is time spent with another person where each person is actively listening and engaged with the other.
  4. Gift Giving or Receiving: This involves a tangible object that is given as a gift. It does have to be something big and expensive, but it shows thought.
  5. Physical Intimacy: The site was clear to state that this does not have necessarily involve sex, but it could include hand holding, hugging, cuddling.

Before I took the test, I already knew that a big one for me was Words of Affirmation.  A score in any one area can go as high as 12.  Words of Affirmation scored a 9.  This was followed by Acts of Service which scored an 8.  The final of the big three was Physical Intimacy with a score of 7.  Gift Giving/Receiving ended it all with a 1.

Again, I was not surprised by the way my scores played out, but it did start to give me additional clarity.  Some of my miscommunications with my boyfriend and children may stem from the fact that Gift Giving/Receiving is probably a much higher number for them.  My boyfriend gives me gifts all of the time, but he often finds it difficult to verbalize his feelings.  It’s important for me to put my feelings in check after I write him a detailed message about the reasons I find him so amazing and all I get is a t-shirt.  It also helps me to explain to him why he may feel like he is doing everything he can to help me feel loved, but I am being needy and distant all at the same time.

The other part of this text that I absolutely loved is the idea of a Love Tank.  We all have one and it is on various levels of filled and empty through the course of any given day.  My son running up to me just to kiss and hug me “hello”- Love Tank full.  My other son complains about the dinner I just made for our family- Love Tank empty.  It is not only important to know which language makes you feel like your tank is full, but also the language of your partner and children so they can feel full.

Overall, when we look at love as a reciprocal thing that has pre-conceived conditions for each person, it can give us more control over how we feel in our relationships.  Perhaps my not feeling loved is merely a matter of perception.  Or when I see how my son feels love simply by a small gift I procured at the store, I can know that his Love Tank is full.

And isn’t that what it’s all about?  Giving and receiving love…what could be simpler?

Click on the link below to find out what your love language.

http://www.5lovelanguages.com/

Additional Resource from fiercemarriage.com:

Single Mom Life Part 2

In his novel The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Mitch Albom writes, “All parents damage their children. It cannot be helped. Youth, like pristine glass, absorbs the prints of its handlers. Some parents smudge, others crack, a few shatter childhoods completely into jagged little pieces, beyond repair.”

When I first read this, I was in my early 20s, savagely blaming both of my parents for my myriad of hurts.  I felt as if I were the final description, the shattered glass on the floor, broken beyond repair.  I have since learned that this damage is reversible.  I have painstakingly tried to glue the pieces back together in a pattern of my own.  I choose to look at the glued pieces or scars in a positive way, knowing that the light would refract differently off of me if I were still one piece.  Perhaps the repaired cracks are stopgaps.  I am more caring and empathetic to those who are also looking at their scattered remains.  If my glass was clear, I might not be so open.

Now that I am an adult with two little boys, I read this quote differently.  I wonder with each misspoken word what my smudges will look like. I can only pray that I have not nor will I crack a part of them.  Despite my eloquent twistings above about my repair job, I hope to leave this life without causing such damage.  I want only for my imprints to be easily cleaned away with some Windex and a fresh paper towel.  The rest of the world can leave its mark on my little guys, and I know that it will.  Their glass will be bumped and jarred and marked up by a multiple of hands that I may never even meet. Their first love, their bosses, their teachers, their friends…all of these individuals will have a chance and when they do, I want my sons’ glass to be as intact as possible.  There is a strength that can be had in the cracking of the glass.  There is a benefit to knowing how hard you can be hit before you crack.  Both of these things are true, but I believe that my job is to help them through the hits, not be the one who is doing the breaking.

I am sure that I will continue to make my fair share of mistakes.  Greasy, peanut buttery fingerprints will be streaked down their glass from my fingers. I am sure of it.  At the end of the day, I still want to be able to say that the damage I did was wipeable, washable, dissolvable.  I only want them to truly know that they are loved.

The Single Mom Life

 

My closest family is made up of my two little boys.  They both bring a level of contentment to my life that is unmatched. Kissing their little cheeks before I leave for work at 6:15 am is the single most favorite thing in my life.  The warmth of their skin and the sweet smell of their breadth as they exhale upon being slightly jarred by my kiss is joy.  My little one whispering, “I love you, momma,” before he rolls over to snuggle deeper into his blankets makes me smile.  I think it is the way he says “momma.” He gives it a long, two syllable draw which causes him to sound younger than he is.  After I get my fill of him, I going over to the older one.  His blonde hair is all I see and I push it away to kiss him goodbye.  He is less likely to talk, but sometimes he shoots a sudden arm into the air to give me a hug around my neck before I go.  He draws me in and pulls me so close that I fear I am going to fall over, but I let him do it anyway because I fear the day it ends.

This is my morning.  I go off to work to make the only paycheck our family will see.  I am the breadwinner, the bill payer, the laundry doer, the food shopper, the ear cleaner, the band aid giver.  I feel blessed to be part of the thirty percent of single moms above the poverty level.  I feel defeated in the fact that my ex-husband gives me no financial support because one cannot get blood from a stone.

Being a single mom is the hardest thing I have ever done, and I dread the consequence of each painful mistake I make. I secretly pat myself on the back when I have a parental win.  I know many people look down on single moms.  The way I see it there seems to be two concrete stereotypes that exist in our culture.  First is the single mom superhero stereotype.  She is capable of doing everything and anything for everyone.  She takes care of her children and does the job of two parents with ease.  She may even be working two jobs and going back to school.  I have heard of these moms from adults who were raised by them. I have not actually seen or met one in real life. Of my friends, I am the only single mom.  I hope to be viewed as this type of single mom, but I feel I fall short on many occasions.

The second stereotype is the single mom mess.  This is the woman who is more preoccupied with dating than her children.  She clings to her ex for money and support, but she ends up using that money on herself.  She misses school conferences and doesn’t drive her kids to soccer practice.  She would rather troll dating websites for her next man than make dinner for her kids.  She smokes, has tattoos, drinks too much and talks loudly and disparagingly about her useless ex-husband.

I know I am somewhere in between these two worlds.  I would be lying if I said that there haven’t been moments where I was more concerned over my boyfriend’s text message than helping my son put on his cleats before soccer practice.  Sometimes I just want there to be other things in my life than caring for the boys.  I also know that if effort in anyway accounts for anything, I put in a valiant effort every day.  I care more about raising my boys to be kind, respectful young men than I do anything else.  The days that I peel myself up and get them to bed and make sure that they brush their teeth and are all snuggled in are taxing.  They exhaust me beyond words.  But I know the importance of building memories and of being a stable force.

So despite my worries and my fears, I know I must always go back to my mat and trust, trust, trust.

 

 

 

 

Abuse and the Empath

loveWhen I was child, I was abused by my father. When I did anything wrong, I was beaten with either a hand or belt. I was most scared of the thinner belts.  They hurt the most.  My father has a “funny” story that he used to tell when we would be sitting around the dinner table.  It went something like this…

I was four or five and I had wandered around the block.  This was wrong. I was not allowed to go past the house with the big white pillars and the small porch.  This was a rule, but I had broken it.  Perhaps I was chasing a butterfly, maybe I just wanted to openly defy the rule. I don’t remember why I broke this rule; I just remember that I did.  As a cycled back around the corner, I saw my father’s angry eyes.  His mouth was twisted and I knew that he was furious.  I knew that I was caught.

“Don’t beat me, Daddy,” I cried as I put my hands across my behind to try and save myself from a subsequent beating.  My father’s face changed as he glanced at the few neighbors who were watering their gardens are putting out their potted plants.  He smiled and bent to the ground, supporting himself on one knee.

“It’s ok, baby,” he said soothingly.  “I am not going to hurt you.” I smiled and ran into his arms.  He hugged me as he carried me into the house.  I buried my tear-stained face into his neck and sighed.  I did not notice that we were walking back towards the house.

And this is the part my father always thought was most amusing, the part that he would chuckle while saying,

“So here she thinks she got me,” he would continue.  “She thought she could manipulate me and embarrass me in front of the neighbors, but I showed her.  When I got her inside, I spanked her so hard she didn’t even know what hit her, and I made sure she really knew I was serious because I really laid into her.  She never did that again.”

And I didn’t do that again…throughout my life, I don’t think I ever did that again.  How terribly did that scar me?

I find it difficult to trust men.

I believe all men lie to me or are going to hurt me if I give them an ounce of trust.

I fear men and the things they are capable of doing to me.

How does a person have an intimate relationship with a person of the opposite gender when this is just one “story” in a vast sea of abuse?

How long will it take me to walk away from these stories to find myself in the rubble of a broken childhood, a broken marriage, a broken life?

I know that dwelling on this past and sitting in these stories detract me from the present moment and feed my victim story, so I am trying to relinquish them to a time that is no longer here, but I do feel a sense of loss when I think about letting this story go.  I do feel like this story shaped me, but at the same time I also feel like it is keeping me small.  It is keeping me from freedom.

I am not that five year old girl holding her butt in front of her angry father.  There are no large men lurking in the distance waiting to beat me for my wrongdoings, but I still act as if I am.

How do I let go?  By writing it here in this sacred space?  Maybe by telling the truth about my past, I can let each story go with a touch of the “publish” button, shedding each layer of skin one story at a time.

And perhaps I need to be reminded of the following:

“You have to be larger than thought to realize that however you interpret “your life” or someone else’s life or behavior, however you judge any situation, it is no more than a viewpoint, one of many total perspectives.” – Eckhart Tolle

The Musings of an Empath on the Beach

Children are the most amazing humans.  Yesterday on the beach, this little baby in her adorable pink bikini came waddling up to me.  I am not sure if it’s because I am an Empath or just really amazed by children in generally, but kids usually really dig me.  The weirder thing is that I don’t talk to them like babies or children, and they keep coming back for more.  Many Empaths say that they find more of a connection with animals, but that is not true of me.  I draw in people.  Everywhere I go there is always someone who talks to me.  I like it best when the person is a kid.  So I am sitting on the beach with this little lady, and I can’t help but perceive the relationship between her parents.  Her mother is so unhappy.  I get it.  I was there once.  She is not unhappy with anything in particular. It is more of an everything.  She is a beautiful woman with a very attractive husband.  Her husband is a bit happier than she is, but he feels her discontent and tries to help but primarily he ignores it.  What else can he do?

So many women are unhappy.  Again, I get it.  I was there.  I was constantly searching for another life that “should” be mine.  I was always wanting, always dissatisfied by the reality that was right in front of me.  I tried getting married, having children, building my career and education.  Nothing worked.  It was not until I stopped and accepted exactly what is that I started to dig out of my pit.  It was a pit that I built all by myself.  Boy, you can imagine my wake up call when I realized that my ex wasn’t put in this world to make me happy.  Or my children?  Or my parents?  Or my past?  How often I blamed my past for all of my unhappiness…The reality is that none of those things should have the responsibility to make me feel anything.  As an Empath, it has always been extremely easy for me to get wrapped up in the wants and desires of everyone around me.  Then I wanted to get wrapped up in the wants and desires that are all my own.  Now I just try to be present.  I return to nature.  I do things that help me feel grounded and rooted to what is happening at this present moment.

After my experience on the beach, my mind was still preoccupied with the unhappy mom of the amazing little girl in pink.  I stopped myself mid-thought and looked at what was directly in front of me.  The scene that greeted me was my two smiling boys on a fixed motorcycle as it rode up and down on a stationary ride.  My older son smiled and waved as he rode by.  My younger one followed suit as the ride took them out of my field of vision.  By the time they rode back around, my heart was filled with so much joy and love.  It was a pure contentment that I am just beginning to know and it is beautiful.

Love and the Empath Cont…

Well, I am falling in love.  It’s with two different guys.  I know. It’s crazy, but it gets even crazier.  They are only six and three.  They are my two sons,and they are amazing.  

For the entirety of their lives, I have worked full-time.  After each of them was born, I enjoyed an eight week respite from my job, and then I went back to work.  My ex-husband quit his job one week after the birth of our first son, and he played the role of stay-at-home dad.  I am a teacher, so I always had summers off with them.  During the year, I would leave for work at 6:00 and I would not get home until about 5:00 pm.  The hour long commute each way did not seem like a big deal when I first started working.  After I had my children, it felt like a lifetime.  

Though I always valued my summers, my ex was home, too.  I never seemed to have a place.  My husband was the primary care giver.  He was the one they ran to when they fell.  He was the one they went to when they wanted apple juice.  I had to figure a way to shimmy my way into the threesome, and I was always successful, but then the calendar would show that it was August.  I would once again be forced into the role of bread winner, and every morning I would drive away before the sun and my boys were even awake.  

It was difficult to experience this gain and loss every year.  I think I built barriers to protect myself from it.  I loved when my ex would send me pictures of the boys, but each photo saddened me a bit.  One image of my son’s backpack as he walked into his kindergarten class for the first time, another of my younger son sitting on the potty, the three of them in a park on a beautiful fall day.  I was always happy that they had their father.  I was glad that it was not a stranger we hired, but selfishly, I wanted to be with them.

My ex was forced to get a job.  He did not want to go back to work.  He was quite content to live out the remainder of his days unemployed.  It was the divorce that forced the reality.  Now the proverbial shoe is on the other foot.  He gets up early in the morning, drinks his coffee, and drives off to work while the boys are still in bed.  I am the one sitting in my pj’s, waiting for them.  Now I get to dress them in the morning and kiss their soft little heads while they eat their breakfast.  It is helping me to heal.

The other day we were at the pool.  One of my six-year-old’s friends (a girl) was being treated meanly by another little girl.  She was crying next to me as she retold me the cruel words.  My six-year-old stood next to her, too, in a protective way.

“Are you all right?”  He asked her as he gently placed a hand on her shoulder.  She looked at him and nodded.  “She was really mean to you. What did she say?”  His voice sounded so adult, so mature.

“She said she didn’t want to play with me,  She told me to go away,” she said.  He looked at her and he crinkled his nose to his forehead.  This is the look he gets when he is thinking and still confused.

“Well, it’s ok, Becca.  We’ll play together.  Come on,” and he started to run off in the direction of the big pool.  He looked back once to make sure she was following.  When he saw that she was, he smiled and ran a bit faster.  As I turned back, my three year old was standing by my legs.  He had a water-filled bucket.

“Momma, can I pour this on your legs?”  I nodded.  “It’s cold, Momma,” he said just to make sure I understood.

“It’s okay, baby.  Go ahead.”  Giggling he poured the water on me and filled the bucket again for another go.  My eyes welled with tears as love filled my heart.  It sounds so cliche, but is exactly how it felt. These feelings of love for my boys were not new, but the depth and fullness of this love really is.  This pause in my life that is allowing me to have this unadulterated time with my sons is a blessing that cannot really be defined by words, but it is the most amazing time in my life.