Observations From The Unplugged

phoneMy commute runs along the Hudson River.

I stand on the platform every morning and look at the birds, the boats, the river, the opposite shore.

I look at my fellow commuters and they are all looking down. At their phones.

I have made a commitment to myself that I will not look at my phone, except to check the time, when I am waiting for a train. It’s part of self-discipline. I am adamant about the fact that you need not scratch every itch and a healthy life knows how to delay gratification and knows how to avoid mindlessness. I’m chronically committed to not being one of the bozos who are always staring at a phone while a big, interesting world swirls around them. Life is short, the world is huge and you’re fooling yourself if you think that staring at a phone is a

Last week I watched, on a blustery morning, as a bird that was a bit bigger than a duck and smaller than a hawk flying around over the Hudson River. He would flap his wings a few times and then a wind gust would come and the bird would float along, not flapping, backwards, on the wind. It was so funny. He would go “flap flap flap” a gust and he’d hang glide…as the wind would die down he’d go “flap flap flap” again. And so it went. He was having the BEST time.

I almost laughed out loud. My fellow commuters (about 20 or 30 of them) all missed it. They were all looking down. At their phones. It didn’t matter how old they were or what gender they were…they were all doing it. They looked like an army of zombies, walking down the platform looking at their phones.

And I would bet hundreds of dollars that none of them was looking at anything as entertaining as that bird. All they had to do was look up…for a few minutes…and it would have changed their entire view of the day.

I stepped onto the train in a good mood because of that bird. I have no idea what my fellow commuters were doing, but they missed a prime moment.

Today it was so blustery, windy, and rainy. It’s always hard to navigate the streets of Manhattan with umbrellas, but it becomes especially difficult when people are walking with umbrellas while looking at their phones. Not only are they stupid, but now they’re dangerous.

I stepped around the dangerous idiots and into the street. As I moved to the crosswalk, a car drove by and there was a small dog with his head out the window, catching raindrops on his tongue. He, too, was a joyful being. Just having the best time with those raindrops.

I almost laughed out loud again. I turned to look at the other pedestrians and, guess what? Looking at their phones while waiting for the light to change…they missed that comical little dog.

I laughed on a horribly rainy, grey, gloomy Monday morning. Thanks to that dog. It was so funny.

Everyone was in a terrible mood because of the weather, because it was Monday, because it was rainy. But I found a way to enjoy it. Because I wasn’t staring into a little black box while the world spun around me.

Not every unplugged moment is interesting…but every interesting moment seems to be of the unplugged nature.

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Public Aloneness

selfSo many parts of uncoupling are scary and sad. Part of the grief felt after a breakup is the idea of being alone during social events. You are ALONE and everyone can see that.

The world seems different when we are newly broken up and face the first few social events alone.

We get ready alone, and drive to a place alone and walk in alone, and our brain screams “I AM ALONE AND EVERYONE IS LOOKING AT ME!!!”

The realization is part of the grief…part of the thing we have lost. The couple that we were a part of, for good or for bad, is no more. And while it might have been a grind or a drama in the privacy of our homes, we were able to put on a semblence of happy coupledom, for the most part, when we were out and about. Or maybe we thought we were happy and the person just up and vanished…leaving us reeling…
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4/13 Check-in Post

Green Check Mark How is everyone doing? Feel free to copy your last check in to this new post.

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10 Things To Know About Real Love

Psychology Today post:


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Clean Grief versus Hollow Grief

treeI wrote this post 3 weeks after Michael’s seizure so it really was “in the moment” type of posting. At the time I really struggled with keeping this blog going and maintaining my new-found position as the person in charge of absolutely everything in my life, about to lose the love of my life, and shepherding my daughter (who was Daddy’s little girl in every way possible) through this tragic chapter in our lives. I believe I started “Rope Burns” around this time. For anyone who has not read Rope Burns, it is here: http://RopeBurns.wordpress.com and if you go to the beginning, you can read my entire journey thought Michael’s illness. It was the only way I could continue this blog and process my own tragedy at the same time.

But as I’ve read comments the past few weeks, it occurred to me that many of you are experiencing the difference between hollow grief and clean grief.

So I’m re-running it and not updating the “present tense” that is in here.

October 2008:

Before I talk about the strange week I’ve had, I want everyone to know that one of the only reasons I’m working through this and being there (REALLY THERE) for this is because I’ve done my work. I’ve grieved the big breakups, the small breakups, the moves, the losses, the estrangements, friendships, families, relationships, abandonments and slights. I’ve finished my unfinished business and built a life for myself that is good and honest and wonderful. I am a whole and complete person on my own and I am surrounded by good and loving people.

I do the work here on the blog and in seminars and retreats and talks and in the book because I honestly believe that going through a breakup makes us teachable and open to doing work we just won’t do unless the pain gets bad enough–unless the pain tells us there has got to be another way and PLEASE FIND IT!!!!
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Finding and Embracing the Real You

See nothing, hear nothing, nothing will not tell anyone / mask aThe honeymoon is over
And we find that dining by candlelight makes us squint,
And that all the time
I was letting him borrow my comb and hang up his wet raincoat in my closet,
I was really waiting
To stop letting him.
– Judith Viorst

Many of us are “someone else” in the beginning of relationships lest the person we are attracted to really see who we are. Therefore who they fall in love with is not us at all and who we fall in love with are not them at all. Continue reading

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Half Measures Get You Nowhere

easyThis started out as a comment to Lima who asked me what happened when I found the love letter to my husband from his coworker. It turned into this so I decided to make it a post instead of a comment:

Well it was only about 6 weeks after we separated. We had switched cars because I had the bigger car and he was taking the boys to see his mother. I learned, that weekend, that was very codependent of me. He should have taken his car and dealt with it. The boys fit but not as comfortable.

So I had his car and I was having trouble shifting. Every time I tried to put it in 3rd gear, it would be hard to do it. I thought that I could just go from 2nd to 4th but I would forget that and throw it into 3rd anyway. I took the shifter boot off and that’s where it was. I completely freaked out.

She said he was so cute and I didn’t know what I was losing…and all this CRAP about how great he was and how stupid I was to let him go.

I FREAKED OUT and called him at his mother’s house and had a complete meltdown and he said, “I’m glad you found it so it’s out in the open now.” I felt like my brain was splitting in two.

I did hit bottom with it. I went completely crazy. I did things like dial her number and hang up (multiple times) and just try to contact him over and over again.

I didn’t know better. I didn’t know that I didn’t know. I was so far gone. I had started reading “Women Who Love Too Much” but had not yet realized it was written about ME. I hadn’t yet started “Codependent No More.” I was fixated on “Adult Children of Alcoholics” and trying to convince him that was what was wrong with me and as soon as I was a recovering ACOA, our marriage would work. (I put all the blame on me and I talk about that in the book.) He had me convinced that everything, including his abuse and infidelity, was my fault.


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Unconditional Doesn’t Mean Anything Goes

This is not a complete excerpt from GBOT but it’s a close one. This is from an earlier draft of the book (I somehow don’t have the last draft) but the actual published chapter is much better. :)

But this is the idea:

There is no phrase so misinterpreted as “unconditional love.” People use it as an excuse to stay in bad relationships. They use it as some ideal they chase when they are not even sure what it means. They use it when they say, “I believe in marriage.” or “I believe in loving someone until they can love themselves,” or “I’m religious and want to love unconditionally.” or “I can’t say ‘if you do this, I’m out’ because that is not unconditional love.”

Unconditional love means I love you no matter what happens, not no matter what you do to me. It means under any condition. The original wedding vow ideal is love, honor and cherish, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health. “Unconditional love” doesn’t mean, “I love you if you hurt me.” That is not in any wedding vow imaginable. No one says that on their wedding day (or whenever they decide to commit) and no one SHOULD.

Commitment ends when repetitive hurt comes in. Unconditional love means, I love you, love is an action, and you come first with me. Unconditional love means, I love you no matter what conditions occur. No matter what changes life throws our way, I will not take it out on you and I will not forget you exist.

It means you can be in a bad mood or weakened state so long as you don’t abuse me and I will carry your half of the load and then when I am, you do. It doesn’t mean one of us is forever carrying that load alone or making excuses for the other who is not carrying anything at all and acting any way he or she wants to.

If we are healthy, we must have conditions for people to stay or go in our life. They’re called boundaries and standards and you learned all about them in previous chapters. They don’t disappear when you find someone with whom you want to settle down.
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4/6 Check In Post

Green Check MarkHow is everyone doing?

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What Really Hurts?

How can we tell someone to stop hurting us if we’re not sure it hurts? How can we identify it as inappropriate if that’s all we’ve ever lived with? To us, it’s normal. How can we know what we want if nobody ever told us it’s okay to want something? – Melody Beattie

When I suggest observation through journaling and listening to our own thought processes, it is to begin the long journey home to oneself. It is to get in touch with a self that may have been ignored, abused or inconsequential to people to whom we should have mattered. Continue reading

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