Monthly Archives: April 2016
Ever have a crush on someone so bad that you keep imagining the details of a relationship with them? Going through the way you’ll meet and discover the mutuality of your attraction with little electric bursts of twitterpation? And how the first kiss will just lock your souls together? But then reality intrudes and reminds you that either they don’t even know you exist or there is just no possible way to be together?
Yeah, I’ve got it bad. Not just one person either. I’ve got crushes on several unattainable people. People that I know well and others who I have barely met or spoken to. But despite the lack of mutuality, I still hold out a tiny sliver of hope, careful not to let it grow to expectation.
As that emotion smolders, it feels almost almost like NRE, new relationship energy. Not quite the same but still that excitement of newness, the infatuation stage where you see all possibility and no downside. You feel all the passionate kisses instead of the awkwardness of first touch. You want to act on all the primal desires instead of the slow building of trust.
I had always been hyper vigilant about NRE, even from my first poly relationships. When I feel the first twinges of it, I’d shut it down, always acting like the grown-up, dousing what energy we were creating together in an effort to tame and control it. The only time I ever truly got carried away was when I first knew Warrior; that relationship completely swept me away (and 8 years later it still does). But getting carried away in that relationship caused me to neglect the partners I already had, creating a lot of hurt and distrust among us. And while I know it wasn’t all NRE, i do blame myself for getting so wrapped up in it without stopping to find balance or to check in with my partners.
And in true Janet fashion, I shut down everything. Baby out with the bath water mentality. I stopped dating, stopped even showing interest in others. I stopped flirting. I stopped even imagining being with others. I couldn’t even bring myself to fantasize.
The past 2-3 months changed that. Like an awakening. And someday I will write much more about that awakening, but it started essentially the same way that poly did for us. I finally got bold enough to start flirting back. And as I kept doing it, I kept finding my voice. Kept thinking that these people might not all be blind or crazy when they call me gorgeous. Even allowing the still dubious and inaccurate “milf” or “cougar” title helped me accept that maybe I didn’t have to limit myself so much.
Oh the attention was so welcome, so needed. I started flirting with some people online and even started a fun experience taking the dominant in me out for a test drive. Embracing the simple matter that:
a) it doesn’t matter what people think of me; but
b) if someone takes the effort to call me beautiful or intelligent, I need to honor that there is truth, even a sliver of honesty, in their words
With that and a LOT of meditation, I have started growing into myself again, regaining my confidence and my voice. I have adopted the new archetypes and roles that are fulfilling to me: Queen, writer, teacher, friend, healer, mother. And as I grow into myself I start to gain more insight into my life and the direction I want to be in. As I adopt these new titles and roles in life I become better aligned with the patterns and energies around me, which is just an increase in my empathy.
And the more I see of people without my protections and projections, the more I want to know them and for them to know me. The more I look into the world with my heart, the more I trust my intuition. The more I proclaim my space in this world, the more possibilities I see being poured into my life. The more people I meet and understand, the more I see the worthy qualities in myself.
So even though I have these strong feelings for people I never have a chance with, I think that maybe perhaps NRE is more about seeing the best, happiest, more joyful qualities reflected back to us in the moments of passionate possibility. We start falling back in love with ourselves just a little bit more than we could before.
The most unattainable relationship we’ve ever known is the love we can and should have for ourselves. NRE brings out the joyful light, the lovable, sexy, imaginative and witty parts of ourselves that we need to see and embrace fully. And NRE allows us to feel desirable, wanted and lovable.
And if these “unattainable” crushes (hey! A girl can still hope) can bring me that growing acceptance of myself and my desires then maybe NRE is healthy after all.
It has been a little over a year since I started this job. A job that makes me feel like a for-realsies attorney without the icky task of being a cold, walled off shark. I get to help people, real people with real problems every single day. People who are disabled, homeless, alone in the world. And I choose to do this job in the most connected ways possible. The dial on my empathy is turned all way up all throughout the week. By the time I get to Friday, my soul is weary, my body is weak, and my heart is wistful.
Law school doesn’t teach you how to deal with clients, how to deal with compassion fatigue (if it even acknowledges that there is such a thing as compassion in the practice of law) or how to balance empathy with the cold, hard logic of The Law. One of my goals in life is to create a model for attorneys, who much like myself, went into law to help people, change the world and approach the practice of law with empathy and compassion. I’m learning as I go–and I’d love to share one of things that has helped me along the way.
As my family will affirm, I spend many a long night at the office. The work I do is so detailed and there is a tremendous burden on my shoulders each day. It only took a few months of this work for me to realize that I needed to build myself an escape hatch–not just because I needed it but also because no one else would do it for me.
So here are some things that have worked for me:
- Having a flexible schedule. 9-5/ M-F doesn’t work for everyone and it certainly never has for me. I purposely look for opportunities where I can be trusted as a professional to get the job done in the time that is most appropriate for me and my family. So I work 9-6 M-Th and 8-12 on Fridays. I can also change around my schedule as I need to based on appointments, family needs and such.
- I seize opportunities for self-care. I still need to get better at setting aside time and space for it, but when an opportunity for downtime presents itself I jump on it. Whether it’s lunch with a friend or time for meditation, I allow myself to seize that chance before it withers away.
- I find courage to say NO when I need to. I remember one of my first law jobs was as a clerk was for a large law firm. One of the associates in litigation gave birth and she was back to work in 2 weeks. She became my touchstone for what I might become if I couldn’t find a way to say no to impossible demands. I never, ever wanted to be her.
- I meditate. I’m only now returning to this practice, but it’s important for me to be able to let go at some point during the week and this is the easiest, most effective way.
- I designate some time that is just for me. I take Friday afternoons off for a reason. It is the one time during the week that is mine and only mine. Wanna see a movie? Friday afternoon. Wanna sit on the porch with a smoke and a whisky? Friday afternoon. Wanna spend quality time with my kid or a friend? Friday afternoon it is. My family and colleagues have learned that Friday afternoons are untouchable. Friday’s are MY days.
- I create rituals to get me through the week. One of them is to take an hour lunch, go to a diner and read. It’s something I started at my last corporate job and something that I know energizes me and allows me to turn off my critical, stressed out brain for a bit. I always have at least one fiction and one non-fiction book to choose from depending on my mood that day.
- I wash my hands after a difficult case or client encounter. It seems so simple. But it’s another ritual I engage in to wash away the bad energy that just came through my door. It gives me permission to let go of that fight or that obstacle and to start fresh again.
- I go to therapy. There’s no replacing the value of talking things out in a confidential environment with someone looking out for your best interests. I only go once a month right now, but it gives me a safe space to put all of my frustrations and doubts and gain some perspective.
These are just some of the ways I choose to handle being a heart-centric attorney in a world that denies the impact of trauma and human hardship on the people who work the front lines–and a world that fails to recognize that attorneys, despite our logic and reason, are still, you know, mostly human.
A few weeks ago I talked briefly about being in the midst of an early personal spring. Whenever I have break-throughs like this, sudden realizations of patterns and purpose, I want nothing more than to capture that feeling, bottle it, keep it safe.
I keep wanting to capture these feelings, because I don’t want to be without that joy of discovery for very long. I don’t want to fall back into old patterns of self-doubt and disappointment about my life and especially my path. It would be so much easier if I could just bottle it and hang onto it for those moments when I’m down and out, succumbing to the darkness of the overwork and drowning in the sorrow of feeling stuck.
But that defeats the point of having those emotions in the first place. The point isn’t so much to capture as it is for it to make the hard work, the suffering, the darkness all worth it. It provides more motivation to keep moving forward, to slow down the progressive bad habits that have kept us stuck in the first place.
Today I found myself longing to capture that joy again. After a long conversation with the person I consider to be my soul sister, I had such a strong sense of clarity that even Warrior talked about how inspiring it was to see it.
I kept trying to capture it, to not lose it. Especially because it’s a day off for me and I don’t want the stressors of work tomorrow to interfere with the enormous job I have ahead of me. But that worry of losing it interfered with my ability to actually feel it. It took me out of the moment of joy and into an immediate space of worry and dread.
So tonight, I’m making a conscious effort to just be present in this moment and this sensation within. Enlightenment won’t make a difference if I don’t fully embrace it when it shows up.