Love, All Grown Up

“The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit. Be a tree, give fruits, flowers, shade to others without expecting anything from others. Whatever you want from others first you have to give that to others. Whatever you give to others, you will be given in return. If you give love, respect to others then surely you will be given love and respect from others. That’s why we should learn to give good things to others.”- Deepak Panwar freeimage-814506 A couple years ago, my husband and I found ourselves in the midst of a marriage crisis. We had no idea how, but we had gone from twitterpated young lovers to disillusioned married people. We fought constantly, and our words were almost always disrespectful, sarcastic, and unkind. We tried everything we could think of to reconnect: Date nights, talking more, sharing interests… it all just ended up serving as the Band-Aid over the gunshot wound. We were toeing the line of ending a marriage and splitting a family.

I stumbled across an advertisement for a marriage self-help book one day. In my head I scoffed and thought about how silly and trite it probably was. But, part of me knew I was running out of options to save my marriage. I ordered it, and jumped into reading. Of course, some of it was exactly what I expected in terms of catch phrases and fluff. To my complete shock, the main message was absolutely revolutionary to me. It told me to stop demanding and expecting from my partner. To stop speaking and behaving disrespectfully. My brain rebelled, “But, he makes me angry! He disrespects me! I’m not going to roll over and let that happen to me! I’m not going to bend over backwards for someone who won’t do the same.” I sat with these feelings for a good week until I finally figured I could probably swallow my pride long enough to give it a go… because honestly, what else could I do?

We decided to table the issues we had been arguing about for months. It wasn’t about better listening or communicating more clearly. It wasn’t about expressing needs asking for concessions. The focus was on the here and now- our words and actions towards each other in each moment. We were challenged to behave as we did in the beginning of our relationship with random acts of kindness and love. It wasn’t overnight, but change started to happen. We began to look at our relationship in terms of what we could bring to each other, and not what the other person owed us. Hearts softened, and we learned that though we couldn’t take back old slights and wrongs, we could forgive them without having to battle over who was right or responsible. Our words and actions towards each other became kind and respectful. The knot in my stomach that was all the old hurt and anger I had been hanging onto started to melt away, and I felt like I could breathe again. Of course, no couple is perfect, and sometimes old habits like to run amuck. But, we continually came back to the idea that we were in this relationship to love each other, not to tear each other down or win emotional battles.

What is left today is a relationship that feels all grown up. We are happy and, dare I say, still a bit twitterpated. We are tackling life one day at a time, and we do it knowing that we are a team. Not because we have to be, but because we choose to be. We love, laugh, trust, respect, forgive, and keep moving forward.
couple on beach
Relationships grow and evolve through so many phases- lust, twitterpation, adventure, comfort… But I truly think that love grows into its finest form when you realize that your highest calling to your relationship is to treat your partner with infinite kindness and respect. When you can look at them and know that you want nothing more than to never be a source of pain or disrespect to them… and that is reflected back at you. That it’s not about being right or in charge. That it doesn’t matter who makes more money or has more success. I think it’s when you realize that you can take on the world and anything in it… because you are a unit based in respect and driven by the desire to do right by each other. That binds you tightly to each other, and how can trials tear you apart if there isn’t a gap for a foothold to be had?

#Erin

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Where’s the life button for De-friend?

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A Reader:
I need advice, how do you de-friend someone in life without hurting their feelings? Me and my neighbor became close when she moved in. Our kids would play together all the time etc., we have been friends for over 2 years BUT she tends to ask for favors a lot mostly taking her places, she complains about her husband A LOT. He is an ass but I am tired of hearing it if she isn’t gonna change the situation, and honestly after getting to really know her I don’t like the person she is won’t go into detail there.

Erin:

This is always such a hard situation, especially as women when many of us tend to carry this idea that we are obligated to care take even when it is burning us out. I think firstly you will have to decide what level of involvement you want her to have in your life. Do you want her totally out? Do you want your children to still play together and have minor contact with her that way?

Whatever you decide, you will have to be ready to draw some boundaries with her. Since your children are friends and you guys are neighbors, it seems like a gentle approach may be the best so as not to cause unnecessary tension. Maybe slowly reducing the amount of contact with her is a way to start. That said, I think you will need to be ready to answer questions when she asks if you are avoiding her.

Marie:

This is quite a pickle to be in because it will require a thoughtful response to properly extricate yourself from this situation. Most typical responses would either be a direct approach to stop the relationship all-together or a passive-aggressive approach to let it quietly die out. I’m usually a fan of being direct because there’s no games and no pussy-footing around, but you will have to tread lightly so as not to create more trouble and hurt feelings. Which route you pick will depend on your and her personalities. There’s also the option to try to change the dynamic of the relationship (all relationships are essentially contracts- an agreement between two parties for some sort of trade and benefit). However, I get the feeling from your question that modifying your relationship with her isn’t a goal- ending it is.

To passively and slowly stop the relationship, don’t reach out to her anymore. If she contacts you for a “small favor”, kindly tell her that you won’t be able to help. You don’t even need to give a reason, just say no. (It works for drugs, it can work for annoying neighbors.) If she pushes you for a reason or to help at another time, just kindly tell her that you’re really busy and won’t be able to help. After she calls for requests and is denied a few times, she’ll likely stop calling. You can still be polite and conversational if you run into her in the neighborhood, but just emphasize how busy you are. And maybe buy some good window shades.

Since she is your neighbor and not a stranger you’ll never see again- be careful if you choose the direct method to end the relationship. This will give you the cleanest break but must be handled with tact or feelings will get hurt. This should consist of sitting down with her- in-person to explain that you’re not really going to be available to help her much in the future. Be honest with her that hanging out with her is hard for you because she is clearly unhappy and yet unwilling to make changes and that is difficult for you to observe. Let her know (only if you’re willing!) that in the future if she’s made changes and needs help, that you would be there to support her, but that until she’s willing to make the hard choices, you have to make the hard choice to remove her from your life. Be clear that you’re not judging her, but rather that seeing her in pain or constantly upset and negative is too much of a burden for you to bear. Definitely also encourage her to get help from qualified professionals (a counselor or therapist) if she is willing to make changes in her life as she’ll benefit from the support of a professional.

Negative Nancys are hard people to get rid of. They’re really good at asking for help and being selfish and terrible at being present and aware of others and reciprocal. It’s good that you’ve recognized her pattern of behavior now as you’ll have the best shot at eliminating her negativity from your life by being vigilant and sticking to your decision.

Image provided by: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Mother’s Day

I always knew that I wanted to be a mom. I was the little girl who pretended to breast feed her dolls and change their diapers, and I grew up to be the teenager who spent most weekends babysitting. In my mind there was no scenario in which I wouldn’t be a mom. After my husband and I graduated college and started our careers, we decided we wanted to get pregnant. I was so excited and ready. Dreams of my big belly, baby showers, and days spent raising tiny people had me giddy.

And so we tried. Weeks turned into months and months turned into years. Every single month there was another negative test. I just didn’t understand why we couldn’t get pregnant. We did everything we could think of to make sure we weren’t hurting our chances. Every now and then thoughts of infertility would creep into my head, and I would push them away. “Not me,” I thought. I was supposed to be a mom. I watched people around me get pregnant and become moms, and I so desperately wanted to join them.

After 3 years of not getting pregnant, I finally decided to see an OB/GYN. They ran some blood tests, and I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). The doctor told me that I would not get pregnant on my own and that I would need interventions such as fertility drugs and IVF if I wanted to start a family. His suggestion was that I go on contraceptives until I was ready to accept fertility treatments. I asked him if there was anything I could do to treat my PCOS. He said that there wasn’t.

I went home that day and cried until my eyes swelled shut. How was this possible? I was supposed to be a mom! I was angry at my body, angry at the doctor… angry at everything. I went on birth control, and resigned myself to being “broken.” I felt like a piece of my womanhood was gone. My husband gingerly explained to family what had happened, and it became the elephant in the room. Well-intentioned people gave me advice like “Just don’t try so hard, don’t stress about it, and it will happen.” At a friend’s baby shower I was discussing our newly adopted dog and was told “I’ve always noticed that women who can’t have children have a lot of dogs!” by another oblivious friend.

At some point my heart began to change. The bitterness and anger started to give way to a sort of peace. I was going to be a mom, and perhaps the universe just intended that my children wouldn’t be ones I birthed. My husband and I started to talk adoption, but part of me wanted to give it one last try. I decided that maybe that first doctor wasn’t entirely correct. And so I researched, read, and dug for any bit of info I could find on PCOS. At first all the information I found agreed with the doctor’s information. But then I started to find a community of women who were using natural means to heal their PCOS. I figured it was a long stretch, but I dove in.

I got rid of every chemical cleaner we owned and replaced them with things like vinegar, tea tree oil, and castile soap. I detoxified my personal products- deodorant, soap, shampoo, makeup; all of it replaced with less toxic options. Finally I detoxified my diet. I did a cleanse followed by 6 weeks of eating a raw food diet. I felt amazing. I was happier and healthier, and I lost 15 pounds.

One morning 3 months after I started my mission, I woke up with an instinct prodding me. I took a pregnancy test, and for the first time in 5 years, it was positive. I stared at it. I read the entire insert from the package 3 times looking for all the false positive scenarios. I didn’t say anything to my husband because I couldn’t stand the thought of getting his hopes up if I was wrong. I went to the store and bought 3 more tests of all different brands, and they all came out positive. That evening I asked Randy to come into our room, and I showed him the positive test. He stared at it, stared at me, and then started to cry.

 
What followed was a healthy pregnancy resulting in the birth of my son, Dylan, under the care of the beautiful women at Mat-Su Midwifery. I was finally a mom. Even saying that now, my eyes well up with tears. Our youngest son, Everett, joined our family 2 ½ years later… a “surprise” pregnancy, which still causes me to smile. And now I have my 2 crazy, beautiful, amazing children to keep my days full of adventures.
On Mother’s Day I count my blessings and appreciate the journey that brought me my boys. I am grateful for the warrior spirit that emerged and made me fight harder and dig deeper when I was told not to bother. It also reminds of the spark in my heart to adopt a child, because somewhere out there is a child who is meant to be part of our family even though they weren’t born into it.

Whether you be pregnant, holding your baby, adopting into your family, or remembering a sweet angel baby, Happy Mother’s Day.

#Erin

What RAWR means to me, Erin

Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself.- Bruce Lee

If you had met me at age 20 you would have said, “The Rawr is strong with that one.” I was passionate and driven with a strong sense of self. I lived, laughed, and loved to the max. In fact, my husband often bragged to people that my fiery disposition was one of the reasons he fell in love with me. I was unapologetically me and damn proud, and I’m sure I couldn’t imagine a time where that wouldn’t be true.

Of course, I didn’t know that like most adults life would start to happen at an alarming rate. Long hours of interning, commuting, and working followed by long hours of being a mom and wife were covertly dampening my spark. Most of the time I don’t think I even noticed, and when I did I would just tell myself that I would find time to feed my passions later.

Fast forward to me at age 28: Separated from my husband and living in my friend’s spare room with my 2-year-old son, and soon to find out that I was pregnant with another. I was broken and sad, and I could not understand how my life got to such a point. I grieved my marriage and felt absolutely powerless to save it. I would stand on the porch dropping off my son, and wonder how I could struggle to find words with a man I had shared my entire adult life with. Of course, what words we did find were often screamed at each other and punctuated with cursing and doors slamming. It felt so chaotic, so out of control. I wanted to be happy, but I was afraid of what that might mean. I felt the need to Rawr way down deep, but it never managed to make it out into the world without being drowned by tears.

And then my Rawr light-bulb moment happened. My husband and I were reeling from yet another knock-down, drag-out fight when he called me. I found the words “I want a divorce” coming out of my mouth. In the moment of silence that followed I think we both realized that I wasn’t bluffing or speaking in anger. I meant it. The strangest thing is that I always assumed speaking those words would be devastating and life shattering. Instead I found myself feeling somehow liberated. I wasn’t afraid anymore. I was making a choice based on what I wanted and needed, and suddenly I could breathe again. My Rawr had finally bubbled up to the surface. That’s when the truth hit me; if I wanted to be happy, I needed to be true to myself again. No more fear, no more people pleasing, and no more burying my needs and passions in favor of the needs of others.

So I started to live for me. I reconnected with friends I had neglected, I listened to old albums I hadn’t dusted off since college, and I started to find opportunities to really live. I was rebuilding me, and it felt so damn good. And along the way I somehow found myself reconnecting with my husband. We took baby steps at first, and slowly trust and communication started to form again. What developed was a commitment from both of us to work on saving our marriage, but to equally work on ourselves. It wasn’t going to be enough to fight for the bigger picture if the smaller pieces weren’t healthy and happy.

The icing on my Rawr rediscovery cake was discovering roller derby. I dove in and found myself surrounded by strong, determined, passionate women who were excited to have me as part of their sisterhood. I discovered that I could be “Erin- wife and mother of 2,” but that I could also be “Shove & Tell, #22, the bringer of merciless low blocks.” It felt amazing to rediscover the athletic, fierce self that I thought was long buried in my youth.

In the past year I have lived, laughed, and loved so hard. I found my passion and spark again, and this time it’s not something I take for granted. I know it’s a fire that needs to be fed as often as I can. So I love my children fiercely and allow myself to be silly and fun, I connect with my husband and let myself be vulnerable and in love, I rock out to good music, I connect with friends, and I unleash my roller derby bad-ass whenever possible. I always thought I would grieve the end of my 20s as the end of the best years of my life, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the best is yet to come.

#Erin (aka Shove & Tell #22)

All Things Rawr!

Rawr. According to THE Urban Dictionary Rawr has several meanings:

1. A word that means “I love you” in dinosaur.

2. A primitive sound used to represent a personal feeling. Due to the generic and modular nature of the word, the actual implied meaning varies from person to person.

3. A more sexually oriented and cooler version of the word “roar”.

4. In dinosaur, the way of saying, “Hey. You there. Yes, you good sir. I wanted to afford you the courtesy of letting you know that I’m about to eat you. Quite right, eh?”

5. More importantly, we consider the word, “RAWR” to be all of the above and then some. Rawr is a mother’s love, a child’s hunger, a pregnant woman’s anger, an alternate to honking at bad drivers, and a socially acceptable replacement for any other four letter word. It can mean good and bad, hungry and full, light and dark.

This blog is an attempt to gather All Things Rawr into one space that enriches and enlightens our daily rawrs.

all things rawr

all things rawr

 

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