Think: The Exorcist.
I’ll start with the relevant part first. I’ve decided to reformulate my PSP based on how much time is left in this cycle. I am not, however, abandoning my goals. Jimmy convinced me I’m making excuses and rationalizing, and some of you suggested that as well. I didn’t think so at first, but, then again — my brain is very good at making fear sound like something else. The problem is that I’ve made this same writing goal for over a year now and have never done ANYTHING for it. This cycle was the farthest I ever got — I actually set up the blog, met up with Brandy to start articles (that I never finished), and was more talkative with others about the goal in general. It’s still really far from where I wanted to be, but it’s something. I’ll post my updated PSP next week.
Now for ‘The Exorcist’ like vomit. This is where you can stop reading, as from this point on I’m basically writing for myself (meaning it will not really be very readable as I’m just going to write stream-of-consciousness style with no editing).
My brain has been churning like crazy for the last few days. Roughly two weeks ago, Jimmy had a breakdown. He had been holding in a lot of stress, and finally came to me with it. He had really painted himself into a corner, in part because he was focusing too hard on me and making me happy rather than taking care of himself. He had stopped going to meetings, he was doing all of the cooking for us, he was doing all the errands we needed to do to get set up at the new place, and so on. Meanwhile I was completely checked out from all of this. I was too busy with my own stuff, trying to address several work deadlines that were converging all at once while battling my bad work attitude. He was supporting me in a big way with that. I’d basically go to him to talk through my work mindset and get support, he’d give me something to try on, I’d do it and make a little progress and then come back to him for more support.
I forget sometimes that coaching is work — and he’s not my coach, he’s my husband. The problem is he’s so damn good at it that I can’t help myself sometimes. Don’t get me wrong, the Advanced Ed. trainings and Kathy and the process of LP undoubtedly did some heavy lifting and gave me a foundation I never could have had otherwise. But, when I think about the lasting results in my life — a lot of it is because of his support. Without it, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have most of my results. No, I didn’t marry him for his coaching (…well, you know, maybe it was partly that…).
Anyway, Jimmy was running himself ragged because he was trying to be My Everything and I was responding (with my words and actions) in a way that said: “Yes, be My Everything, that’s what I need.”
Meanwhile, neither one of us was taking care of him. When he first talked to me about what was going on with him, I was so lost in my self-centered world I didn’t really hear him. All I heard was that he was daring to ask me for support when I was drowning myself — WTF.
The next day I came to my senses. And I felt like shit. I couldn’t see him soon enough that evening. I left work two hours early to catch a 4pm train to Long Island. The second I saw him I told him I had finally taken in what he had come to me with the prior evening. I then spent the entire weekend giving him as much love and support as I could muster. I cooked the first dinner I’ve ever cooked for him that Sunday — salmon with a baked sweet potato and grilled zucchini. It shockingly came out pretty good (thank you, internet).
He blossomed like a goddamn flower. His face brightened, he stood a little taller, and there was just an ease about him I hadn’t seen since St. Lucia.
I felt even more like shit when I saw how stark the difference was. Look what my withholding and self-centeredness had done to him. I was crushing him instead of nurturing him. Sure, he had responsibility for this. He was allowing it to happen, and had taken that role upon himself. But I had mindlessly accepted it, and then asked for more — I was being a Taker.
So after that weekend, things were under control. I could go back to focusing on things I had gotten distracted from, this group being one of them. My work deadlines got met, my boss was happy (for the moment), and I was gearing up to finally get in action with respect to Flight Club.
Then, another curve ball. Tuesday. Jimmy went to a meeting that night. I was hoping to get home from work early, because I really needed an hour or two to myself. I wanted to plop down and watch some bad TV and just chill out for a while. Plus, between work and everything else, I couldn’t remember the last time I just had some time alone.
BUT it didn’t quite work out that way. I got home late, and Jimmy walked in the door about two minutes after me. I resented him immediately for it. What about my time alone? Was his meeting seriously already over? He immediately turned on the TV to the Mets game and started making himself dinner (I hadn’t eaten yet). When he asked me if I could move my stuff out of the kitchen because he was trying to cook, I lost it.
I reacted and stalked off in a huff. He let me go, attempting to approach me about a half hour later. I told him I was pretty offended he hadn’t even asked if I wanted to watch anything on TV, or if I wanted anything for dinner, and that he seemed to think he could pretty much do whatever he wanted even as I was losing my mind because I couldn’t seem to have even an hour to myself to do stuff I wanted to do.
This may shock you, but these things did not go over well with him. He reacted.
He usually doesn’t react. He’s an expert at managing himself and being responsible for his reactions — if this were karate, he’d have a black belt in that. How do you know that’s true? He’s married to me. And he met me mid-‘transformation.’
For those of you who don’t know, I’m impossible. I react constantly. I blame a lot. I’m a typical hot-blooded latin woman. And I do all of it without apology — the man is just supposed to put up with it. I owe him nothing.
So, picture that ‘nerd’ being really, really bad. Think of the most impossible, difficult woman you know — that’s me. Sure, I’ve changed since then. I get triggered a lot less. But, when I DO get triggered, the explosion is just as bad as it was back then.
Anyway, this time, he didn’t control his reactions. Maybe he couldn’t. He had just had his own breakdown, after all, and sure, I had spent the weekend doing my best to take care of him, but — it probably wasn’t yet enough for him to be back on track. He had only just started making meetings again (another key to his consistent mindful state).
That night was immensely painful for both of us. We didn’t make up. We allowed our disconnection to persist through the next day, not talking until late that night. We were both pretty ashamed when we did. What the heck had happened?
Now, this argument pales in comparison to the arguments I would have with my ex-husband. Jimmy and I did not curse or really yell. But, we did speak from anger, not love, and neither one of us was able to shift until hours and hours later. I guess it scared us a little.
When we talked, Jimmy proposed marriage counseling, and that terrified me. Marriage counseling?! Like, what? That’s what couples who are DIVORCING do. <–This was an irrational reaction, of course. His suggestion wasn’t at all out of line.
The thing is, we’re living a different kind of life. Part of that is getting support, and getting support isn’t about being broken or on the brink of disaster. It’s just about being smart and using the tools you know to use to enhance your life.
I mean, I believe in coaching. How could I not? And of course Jimmy does, that’s what he does, for Christ’s sake. That’s what he’s always done. I’d say it’s safe to assume we’re both staunch believers in coaching and seeking support for emotional issues. But I’m going to sit here and say when it comes to my stuff I don’t need any more support (just other people do)? After all this work, all this enlightenment, I’m going to let my ego take over and profess that I can figure all of this out on my own? And I’m going to do that with my marriage, the most important thing in my life?
I mean, at some point, it’s just plain bone-headed and stupid.
This group is great, but it’s not the same as having someone dedicated to you the way a coach or counselor would be (because it’s their job — and, for better or worse, because they’re getting paid for it).
So we talked and agreed we would take action to get counseling. What really sold us on it is our commitment to do whatever it takes to build the strongest, best foundation for our marriage that we possibly can.
If you think marriage doesn’t change anything in a relationship, you’re dead wrong. I hear people claim it’s a formality, a piece of paper, a legal construct. “We’ve lived together for, like, 10 years — that’s basically the same as being married, right?”
No. It isn’t.
I knew that already from my first marriage, but, this time the distinction is so much clearer and there’s a lot more to it.
The second Jimmy and I got married, we committed ourselves to something bigger than us. It IS about legacy now. I’m not sure exactly how to describe it, but we both have a sense that we now have a responsibility that’s larger than just us. If we want to have a faulty foundation as boyfriend and girlfriend, or even as an engaged couple, that’s okay. I’m not sure why, but it is. In those stages, we didn’t have any real responsibilities to anyone else but us. We hadn’t yet embarked upon any vision that was any larger than having fun together and being exclusive and generally dedicated to each other.
Marriage, my friends, is a different ballgame. In a good but daunting way. We now have a legacy to leave. We now are building a foundation for our child. We now have vows that we said to each other, constituting a declared vision of how our marriage will be. We also have a number of joint dreams — all of which are larger than us — that our marriage is intended to serve. Bottom line: it ain’t just us anymore.
With all of that comes Great Responsibility.
If we could break some of these unhealthy patterns that have been showing up on our own, they would not be showing up in the first place. Sure, Jimmy has been able to support me in a way that has gotten me through moments like that in the past. But, what, is he supposed to do that for our entire relationship? Do you have any idea how exhausting that would be? How unfair it is? And no, it’s not always him, sometimes I’m the one who has to step in for us, but, it doesn’t matter who it is. For what we’re up to, we BOTH get to be 100% responsible. Will the weight sometimes fall on one or the other? Yeah, I’m sure it will, but that needs to be the exception. We need to be partners now. The time for one carrying the other is over — that’s just not enough anymore. I’m sure there are marriages like that. I’m sure there are even long marriages like that. But, we’re playing a different game. We’re not out for mediocre or “just enough” or “things are okay.” We’re out for amazing, incredible, groundbreaking.
So, by Wednesday night, we had decided we’re doing counseling. We committed to do it for three months. At the end, we’d see what kind of value we got, then reevaluate whether (and for how long) to continue.
Here’s the truth, though, I don’t really like the concept of counseling. I feel like the shit just gets stirred around, but no issues truly get expunged or addressed. Who cares about the why, really? I don’t care. I’ve been introspective my whole life, and I still am today (can you tell?). And hey, I like it, but, I guess I worry it’s kind of a waste of time.
Which is why the perspective of coaching is more appealing to me. Does the why matter? Yeah, a little. But you only delve into the ‘why’ just enough to get your breakthrough and move on. You don’t dwell on it, and you don’t worry about finding every answer to every past hurt you ever had. You focus on now and the future.
Now I’m not foreclosing the idea of therapy just yet. We haven’t talked it through fully, and I probably need to solicit other perspectives, BUT–
As luck would have it, this week, Belanie was in town giving her “Beyond Circumstances” workshop. It’s step one of her three-step program (like the trainings). Jimmy and I already did the workshop, and we got tremendous value. It changed how our wedding went. I mean, I can’t even express how valuable something like that is. It changed how our wedding went. What timing, right? We literally did it two weeks before.
Anyway, we had already done Belanie’s workshop, but since she was here in New York giving it again, she invited us to come free of charge. Jimmy went for both days, I went for one day — which was today.
Jimmy made a wise choice going both days. She worked with him and processed a “core filter” for him. What’s a “core filter,” you ask?
Well, Belanie believes (and you’ll notice overlap with philosophies in the trainings) that the beliefs that are running our lives were all developed before age 7. Before age 7, we made up stuff about ourselves based on things that happened to us. It’s important to get that the circumstances did not cause our beliefs — we did. Something happened — maybe even something really minor, like a look our parents gave us once — and we made up something about ourselves based on that event. These beliefs about ourselves that we made up before age 7 are “core filters.” They color everything we see and dictate everything we do. You cannot ever get rid of them, even if you become aware of them. They are not the same as limiting beliefs. Rather, limiting beliefs are caused by core filters.
Is Belanie’s theory right? Not sure, but, it feels right. When she worked with me back in Atlanta, she helped me locate one of my “core filters.”
I’m a bad person.
Before age 7, I made up that I’m a bad person. Because it’s a core filter, it’s an “is” for me. Kyla IS a bad person. Not Kyla’s done some bad things, or her parents told her she was bad, but rather that’s who she IS. The same as having brown eyes.
So here’s the thing about core filters — I can’t stop myself from believing I’m a bad person any more than I can change the color of my eyes. It just is.
What does one do, then? Belanie’s theory is stop your pain around a core filter you must be WILLING to BE that core filter (similar to the ‘nerd’ exercise in Advanced).
So at her workshop, I announced to the room: “What I want you to know about me is I’m a bad person.” I then went around, person to person, telling them I’m a bad person, until it no longer held any power — because I had stopped resisting it.
Again, we can’t rid ourselves of the core filter – but it’s our resistance to the core filter that causes all of the pain connected to it. Once I stopped resisting it and became willing to be bad, there was no more pain around it.
What did this change for me? Well, I didn’t cheat myself out of the joy of my wedding and honeymoon for one. See, for me, standing out and being happy is bad. Why? Because you make other people feel shitty. You and your loving relationship and your idyllic honeymoon are going to make people feel sad, and that makes you a crappy, crappy person (is this insane? yes, yes it is, but this is how messed up our beliefs can be). So, in my lifelong fight to not be bad, for the last 30+ years I’ve had to avoid being happy or having a good life.
BUT now that I’m willing to be bad, screw you guys. I have a loving relationship and I had an incredible honeymoon (suck it).
I’m kidding, but you get the idea. Because I was now willing to be bad (based on my definition of ‘bad’), it became OK for me to stand out and have an intimate, loving wedding. I could have a joyful honeymoon in a beautiful place, and I could allow myself to enjoy every minute.
Ready for the sad news? (I hope you didn’t read this far, by the way, because this post is a mess). We have, like, 20+ core filters. I found only one.
This is good for Belanie’s coaching business, as one cannot continue discovering core filters without her help. Nor would one want to, because she’s really incredible. Ask Gloria. Ask Liz. Ask Jimmy. For me her work fills in a missing piece from the work – and I believe it’s a piece that effectively loops in Byron Katie’s work (Belanie’s work comes from a similar philosophy about inquiry and getting to the truth).
Where does this leave us?
After our experience over the last two days, we may ditch the counseling and work with Belanie instead. I know that core filters were at work during that Mets game argument. The reaction I had is a common one for me. Different actions and events, same trigger. But, I don’t know what it is, or what belief it stems from, or how to stop it. He has some triggers too, of course, and there are patterns connected to those as well. He doesn’t react like me, though. He holds back, conceals, etc. Neither of our patterns work. Both shut down communication, intimacy and trust. It’s worse than they “don’t work,” then — they actually damage or relationship. And the scary part is, at some point that damage cannot be undone.
But, all in all, great, right? We sound like we found a solution. Either we’ll work with Belanie or we’ll get counseling, but either way, we’re making a good move. Well, one more thing (last thing): either one will cost us.
We went to a money workshop Thursday night, and, holy Jesus. We are woefully disorganized, and our expenses are out-of-fucking-control. So my ego (or my “survivor,” as Belanie would say) is freaked about paying for yet ANOTHER coaching service. Seriously? Part of me thinks sometimes that one day the ‘real’ me will wake up, and be like, holy shit. You’re doing what?! And you married WHO?! OMG. Call up your old drinking buddies and get yourself to a dive bar STAT, maybe you can make the last two years into just a funny story and somehow claw your way back to a normal life.
That part of me always gets silenced by my results, though. I have more than I’ve ever had. No offense to the drinkers out there as I’m only speaking from my own experience, but – the sobriety alone is beyond worth it. I have moments of deep, deep gratitude for that. And Jimmy — fahget about it. How do I even begin to express my gratitude for him? I’ve been sent a lot of angels in my life, and he’s undoubtedly one of them. I get to love and be loved, I’m finally honoring myself and my life, building real relationships with my family (however slowly), I could go on. We all could go on, and on, and on. Sorry, ego. Like it or not, TSRW (this shit really works), and it’s here in my life to stay.