of boundaries and running away

One of my latest reading kicks has been to learn more about boundaries-setting, in order to start to counteract some of my codependent tendencies.

For long time I’ve been someone who has put her own needs aside in order to “help” someone else. I’m especially bad at this when it comes to intimate relationships. Too often I’m willing to put aside what I want (or need) in order to be there for my partner — and what ultimately results is that I end up feeling resentful and frustrated that there’s no reciprocation in the relationship (when really, if I had set some boundaries and had been clearer about what I needed, so much of it all could be avoided).

Anyway, it’s funny, now everywhere I look I can see shades of codependency. For example, a few weeks ago I re-watched the Julia Roberts film, “Runaway Bride” — only this time, I watched it with eyes that were looking for codependency. And sure enough, I found it.

Roberts’ character is a bride who is known for leaving grooms at the altar — and Richard Gere is a smartass reporter who comes into her town to find out the reasons why she runs. Blah blah blah, romantic comedy hijinks — but there’s some good bits in there that really stood out to me.

For example, in a pivotal scene, Gere points out to Roberts’ character that she doesn’t even know what kind of eggs she likes to eat — because she usually tends to eat her eggs the same way her partner prefers to order them. It sounds small, but that’s a total codependent move. It’s sometimes easier to not assert what you like, and just blend in (chameleon-style) to someone else’s preferences. It feels more “safe” to a codependent to not risk the rejection that could result from someone not accepting what you need/want.

But the one scene that stands out the most to me is this one, that comes at the end of the film. SPOILER: of course Gere’s character asks Roberts to marry him, and ultimately she also leaves him at the altar. At the end of the film, she finds him, months later, and says this:

Maggie Carpenter: I wanted to tell you why I run – sometimes ride – away from things.

Ike Graham: Does it matter?

Maggie Carpenter: I think so.

[takes a deep breath]

Maggie Carpenter: When I was walking down the aisle, I was walking toward somebody who didn’t have any idea who I really was. And it was only half the other person’s fault, because I had done everything to convince him that I was exactly what he wanted. So it was good that I didn’t go through with it because it would have been a lie. But you – you knew the real me.

Ike Graham: Yes, I did.

Maggie Carpenter: I didn’t. And you being the one at the end of the aisle didn’t just fix that. [link]

That part about “someone who didn’t have any idea who I really was” — this line hits me, right in my codependent heart.

While I like to think that I’m this strong, independent, assertive woman who doesn’t take crap — when it comes to being in a relationship, I know I don’t assert my needs or wants nearly enough. I know that I will often (metaphorically) order my eggs in ways I don’t care for, if only so I can — like Maggie Carpenter says, do “everything to convince [my partner] that I was exactly what he wanted.”

Those days are ending for me. Over the next few days/weeks/months, I’m going to solidify what it is I need and want in a relationship, and I’m not going to settle for anything less — even if it means I’m eating eggs (over-medium with hot sauce) on my own for the foreseeable future.

A big part of that journey will be to clarify my boundaries and expectations, and learn how to manage taking care of myself while in relationship with someone else.

newest jam

[Verse 1]
There’s a bird making coffee in the kitchen
And there’s a rifle out back smoking cigarettes
He don’t ever really feel like talking
It don’t matter what she says

[Verse 2]
And the bird is always dreaming out the window
Looking at that big wide open sky
And the rifle, he used to be a dreamer
But he wasn’t meant to fly

[Chorus]
Something down on the ground
Won’t let her out, it holds her in
And he’s afraid if she flies
She’ll never come home again
Something about the bird
And her spreading those wings
Always brings the rifle out in him

[Verse 3]
But the rifle loves the bird when she’s singing
And he knows every word to every song
And the bird, she loves the rifle
Cause he’s dangerous, stubborn and strong

[Chorus]
Something down on the ground
Won’t let her out, it holds her in
And he’s afraid if she flies
She’ll never come home again
Something about the bird
And her spreading those wings
Always brings the rifle out in him

[Verse 4]
One night when the autumn wind was perfect
The rifle drank his whiskey and went to bed
And he never even heard the window open
And she ain’t come back in

… 6 months later

well, hello there.

In the last 6 months, I have:

Ran my first half-marathon (13.1 mi/21.5 km)

Graduated with my MEd

Published a paper with my colleagues

Taught 5 courses (4 undergrad + 1 grad)

Moved to a new house

… in addition to mama-ing, gardening, being with friends and loved ones, and overall living my life outside this blog.

I’m hoping to use this space a little more in the coming days, though I’m not sure how transparent I can be — there’s lots of people who tend to troll this space for information to use against me. But — it hasn’t silenced me yet, and I’m not about to let it start! Does anyone other than trolls still check out this page anymore?

I promise I won’t take another 6 months to post. Well, hopefully not. <3

surprisingly strong

I try to have a daily practice of finding moments of gratitude.

The other day I found myself feeling grateful for all the times I’ve surprised myself with how strong I can be. And no, this isn’t me having a #humblebrag. I can think back to many times when I was surprisingly strong.

Sometimes I find unexpected physical strength.  This past summer, for example, I was surprised when I realized how good yoga has been for my body. When I started up with Spartan boot camp, I was in a really good place — my arms and core were strong. I had thought my yoga practice was more for my mind and spirit strength, but it looks like there’s quite a few unexpected physical benefits too.

But the other ways I’ve been surprisingly strong is when I look back to the times when I felt so weak (especially at the time). When I look back to how far I’ve come, there had to be some serious strength in order to do what I did.

It took strength to move from Savannah, GA to Saskatoon, SK. When I think about moving across one country to begin a life in an entirely different country, I don’t know if I could do it today. But I did do it, when I was only 24 years old.

It took strength to leave relationships that weren’t healthy. The other day I found an old journal of mine, where back in 2008 I was very sad and wrote about how trapped and lonely I felt. At that time, I didn’t feel like I had any options but to stay in a relationship where I wasn’t being supported. But, somehow, I found strength to stand up for myself and the needs I have, and leave a relationship where I wasn’t being cared for. It wasn’t always easy (as much of my sad-sack posts of 2014 can attest to), but I did it. Because I’m strong.

This last year hasn’t always been the easiest, in terms of the personal struggles I’ve gone through or have witnessed in my loved ones’ lives. When I look back on some of what’s happened, I’m surprised at how I got through it.

So, for today, I’m grateful for the inner reserve I’ve got within me. Here’s hoping it won’t be tested too much in the coming New Year.

last run of 2016

It was a snowy, solitary, slow (!), but so serene last outdoor run of 2016. I added up my tracked mileage for the year, and I’ve ran 528km (328mi). I’m still in disbelief that these wonky feet of mine took me that far. Running outside on these trails is my sanctuary, and I find such relief in making my lungs burn. Today I’m grateful for wet socks, white eyelashes, and a happy heart. Happy NYE, and bring on more kms in 2017.