Tag Archives: life

Overflowing

I overflow a lot.

In the form of tears. Words. Gasping sobs. Sometimes quiet woe. Often energy that has me flying around like a whirling dervish. Sometimes with feelings that I can’t find the words to express without rambling.

As I described before, it’s like this feeling in my chest gets too big for me. Too wild. Too strong. I can’t contain it anymore. Cue spillage.  I mean, we make fun of this one birth video because the woman says she, “Could feel the love bursting forth from her womb” when she looked at her husband while in labor. (In 26 births, I have yet to see love bursting from anyone’s womb.)

But lately? It’s kind of like that.

Andrew and I have been together for almost ten years now. TEN. I met him when he was *cough* a teenager *cough*. We’ve been together since before he could legally drink.  I’ve watched him grow up and I have become a completely different person who is no longer running, but deeply intent on staying put.  With his departure rapidly approaching, I can’t help but look over the years past. Where we’ve been, what we’ve done, how far we’ve dome.  I think that’s inevitable.

Amidst the sadness, the fear, the worry and all of those “I’m going to miss you!” feelings, there is also this intense sense of pride and this huge…swelling in my chest that I can’t contain. It’s built up of love, pride and just emotion. I started really feeling it when I sat at his MA Thesis defense a couple months ago.  He rolled his eyes when I told him I teared up, but I DID! He was so casual, so non-chalantly speaking on topics that the average person would have no idea about. He spoke about linguistic analysis, he spoke about the habits of serial killers’ language, he spoke easily about cognitive load and speculation for further study. He had an intense panel that included the world’s top profiler, one of the world’s leading experts in deception detection and one of about 50, licensed forensic evaluators in the country.  It was so impressive and yet they all conversed with ease. They threw him tough questions that he didn’t bat an eleash at returning. He spoke so eloquently with such knowledge and poise – I just couldn’t help but tear up.  I mean, I always knew he was smart but this? This was different.

When I think about him leaving, it feels like there’s this gaping hole in my chest. Like part of me is being torn out without consent.  And yes, while I’ll miss the sweetness of him making coffee for me in the morning or packing my lunch, and the help that he gives me while I work three jobs – mostly? I’ll just miss being around him.  I’ll miss hearing him jabber on about this criminal or this case – things normally I just roll my eyes at (while secretly swooning).  I’ll miss hearing about his work int he FBI lab, or him joking about how the tri-state area is safe from eco-terrorists for the day. (He’s been involved in a research project and he’s been interrogating fake terrorists.)  I’ll miss his brain. His heart. His drive.  Yes, I’ll still see him or hear his voice via skype and phone, but it won’t be the same.

In the last year or so, I’ve just been so overcome by how far WE have come together.  I’ve gone from not having an idea of where I wanted to be, from being a housewife (that sucked at housewifey things), from being depressed and aimless, from fearing another birthday, to a woman who has direction. A woman who has supported over 26 families through pregnancy and childbirth. A woman who has begun teaching countless more through childbirth education. A woman who burns passionately for women and babies. For their rights. Their choice. Their births.  I’ve become firey once again, and while with that comes the emotion, I’m realizing slowly that in order to be the best doula (and hopeful midwife) I can be, I need to be able to be vulnerable and tap into those feelings.

He has gone from front line security and law enforcement applicant, to having alphabet soup after his name. To having three documents working on publication. To having results that may potentially affect his field in a major way.  He has become so confident. So strong. His brain is so well fed and growing. He has a job that is begging for him to start sooner and two advisors all but begging him to come back to complete his PhD. He’s gone from having one job prospect to seeing the world open up before him with opportunities, including private enterprise.  I just am in awe.

Together, we’ve weathered such storms that many marriages and relationships never have to weather. We’ve grown individually and it has made us so strong together.  Sure, we fight. Oh, boy, do we FIGHT.  But in the end, we are together. We’re better, together, and I feel like we both really know that now. We might not have before, when we were idealistic young people, but now? We know it.

I am just overflowing with all the feels, but there are some pretty big, wonderful ones in the mix.

Shades

I am constantly reminded of what amazingly complex people we are. At least, I am.

I don’t know about you, but I rarely share ALL of me with one person. Some people get Chef Sarah.  Some get Compassionate Sarah.  Others get Weepy Sarah. Depending on the day, what is going on and how I’m feeling, sometimes people get Strong Sarah, Emotional Sarah, Spiritual Sarah, Philosophical Sarah, Science-y Logical Sarah or cold ‘I-am-holding-it-all-in Sarah.  Most get several shades of me, but it is so rare that someone gets the whole rainbow.

I think this is probably true for so many.  I do my best to share as genuinely as possible. It’s not like I am making these sides up or anything. I think it’s natural that different people stimulate and draw out different shades and colors. Different people represent different levels of safety and security – allowing more colors to show themselves.

I try so hard to integrate as many of them into my every day self as I possibly can but it just doesn’t always seem possible.  I am getting better at it the more I can face my fears of being judged or criticized and allow those colors to show more and more. I do think I’m getting better, but I am far from perfect.

I had a brief conversation with an old friend tonight and boy, did he reach things that others just haven’t gotten at. It wasn’t intentional, I didn’t ramble on purpose but it all came out. It just reminded me that people have such different purposes in our lives and I think that’s just okay.  It’s okay that one person doesn’t know EVERYTHING about you, or that you have different people you text depending on what’s going on.  It reminded me not only of my own depths, but to not feel offended if someone doesn’t reach for you – because they will when you are what they need.

It reminds me of my thoughts on polyamory. Before I moved out West, I was in a polyamorous relationship. I lived with a married couple and it was my first introduction into different philosophies on relationships. Honestly? It was wonderful.  It is what made me really think about the fact that putting EVERYTHING on one person, for some, can be a tough cross to bear. It developed the idea for me that it could even be unfair to expect one person to be all you needed in life. I found it so freeing to be able to be one person with my girlfriend and to be able to express a different side with my boyfriend. Sometimes we all had different things to share, sometimes we shared together, sometimes it was separate. I could be whoever I was and didn’t need to expect one person to be able to handle it. Each and every interaction, in the beginning, was a beautiful new expression for me.*

I am not sure where I am going with this post other than to say we all have so much complexity inside. We all have so much we are going through, so many different places we are coming from and so much to share. It doesn’t always have to be one side or another and it doesn’t have to be ALL of you all of the time.

We are pretty amazing people with so many colors and shades. So much complexity. I love learning and knowing each shade I am shown. I just hope I get better at sharing my own.

 

*I am quite fine with questions about my past experiences, polyamory and so forth. Feel free to comment or to email me at salamanderpal at gmail if you want to chat! I really love sharing my experiences. No room for judgement here!

Listen Up

There are so many topics out there that are heavily polarized. One side thinks the other is crazy. The other side thinks the first side is nuts. And neither side is very kind about it. We’ve seen this day in and day out with politics and it just seems to be the way things are right now, but I have a problem with it.

Note: This is not going to be a post arguing vaccine safety, gun control, the right type of ‘diet’ or animal cruelty. While I realize I am opening myself up to such scrutiny, I’m not looking for a debate on the issues and as such I’m closing the comments. If you’d like to send me a kind note, please do, ( salamanderpal at gmail) but know that I am really not into being berated or lectured. It’s taking me a lot of guts to put this out there, so please be kind.  I’m going to make my choices, and you can make yours and I’m pretty good with that.

That said, this is coming about due to my experience on social media with my political views and others. I am a liberal, hippie-crunchy vegetarian that disagrees with mandatory vaccination, is pained by factory farming and the slaughter of animals, and loves socialized medicine. It takes a LOT of guts and pep talking on my part to even POST a response, or something I believe in, simply for fear of the response. (Some will say – who cares what people think!? But…being sensitive I just can’t dismiss the replies, so I keep my mouth shut) I’m pretty familiar with being on the edge of things. It’s a tiring, exhausting place to be some days and biting my tongue gets painful.

I bite it because I don’t want to argue, not because I don’t care or don’t have strong views. I bite my tongue because inevitably, it won’t be a discussion where both people are heard and we agree to disagree with a better understanding of each other. I bite my tongue because nine times out of ten, it will devolve into accusations of stupidity and idiocy with a side of hurt feelings. I don’t care if you think killing animals is awesome, vaccination is the greatest thing we’ve ever done and it never hurts anyone or if MOAR GUNS is your battlecry. I do care, that you don’t call me names or be insensitive.

So maybe you can already tell, but my problem isn’t that I am on the minority side of things here. It tends to be my thing. My problem is exactly the same problem I had during the elections – the way one side ostracises the other. The way articles label the side they are not on as crazy, idiotic and just plain stupid for even questioning the ‘truth’.  The way they invalidate good peoples’ fears and concerns without batting an eyelash.

Guys, why do we do this?

I personally live in a constant state of feeling stifled. I realize some of this lies in my own sensitivity and fear of reaction, but should I have to fear being jumped on? Should I really keep my mouth shut, because I don’t want to get attacked? Called stupid? Made to feel inadequate or unintelligent? Told I clearly don’t believe in science? Made to feel like I must not understand or I’d feel differently? Really, should I fear all these things?

I don’t think so.

There are extreme ends to every issue and there always will be. Is it possible we make them even MORE extreme by our constant labeling and ostracism? By the way we immediately brush off their concerns or fears? By continually not validating people who buck the status quo? By villainizing the ‘other’ side or the minority, we make people more defensive, more aggressive and more rabid in their attempts at being heard. It’s really no wonder that speaking my mind gives me such great anxiety that it keeps me from doing so.

Questioning authority is a GOOD thing in my book. So much of the controversial topics have things that DO need more investigation by impartial parties. Studies. Research. Why are we teaching the world that questioning the rules is such an awful thing? Shouldn’t we be encouraging each other to think for ourselves and to keep pushing for truth? Truths change. Scientific theories have changed over the years, repeatedly as technology and innovation happens. We wouldn’t have many of the innovations we have if people hadn’t kept questioning. Kept seeking. Kept searching.

It’s easy to be big, to talk boldly and to stand up when you’re with the majority. It’s easy to talk about your beliefs when you know you’ll get support, without doubt. It’s not so easy when you’re in a minority without the same vocalization and safety in numbers. I’ll say from experience, it is REALLY FREAKING HARD to be brave enough to say – this is what I stand for – when you know you’re going to get shot down. When you know people will make you feel like an idiot, if they don’t actually call you one. When you know the majority won’t understand where you’re coming from, or even care. Then what happens is the loud majority gets heard, while the minority still gets stifled, ostracised and isolated.

When what they really need, is validation. They need someone to listen to them, and even if they don’t agree, say that they understand where they are coming from or at least WHY they feel/believe the way that they do. You don’t have to agree, but I feel like we take disagreement as a cue that we don’t have to listen or try to understand. I don’t need you to not vaccinate your children, but I do need you to hear my personal story with vaccine injury and maybe understand where I’m coming from. I don’t need you to agree that no one should carry a concealed weapon, but I do need you to hear my experiences and listen to me. I need you to understand my feelings on the matter, whether you agree or disagree and in return? I’ll do the same for you, as long as you’re not making me feel inadequate or calling me names. Really! That’s how it can work! If it is so clearly me vs. you, why do I need to understand?

Well, because it’s the only way that we’re going to get anywhere in this world. If two people on opposite sides of gun control can’t sit down and understand why they feel the way they do in a safe manner, how will effective policy ever be made? If the Pro-Vaccine people can’t hear the cries of those with injured or deceased children and be at the very least compassionate, we will just keep yelling at each other. If Democrats paint Republicans as conservative crazies and Republicans continually tell you that Democrats are one eyed monsters, well, who the hell is going to want to sit down and really understand each other? (If you’d like to see a well spoken speech on this, and the media’s effect on polarization, go look up the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. Jon Stewart is pretty brilliant in my opinion with his words.)

I just don’t care what the issue is. Political parties. Gun control. Drugs. Vaccination. Religion. GMOs. Vegetarians vs. Cavemen. I don’t care. What I care about is that we watch how we talk about ‘the other side’. Both to their faces and in general. That we watch how we make others feel. That we be compassionate while discussing these things. That we don’t just say what idiots a group of people are, off the cuff without thinking. While it might be simple open and shut for you, it may not be for the other person. Maybe they’ve had a gun death, or a vaccine injury in their family that you don’t know about that has brought them to where they are. Maybe you’ve had other experiences that they don’t know about that have helped form your views.

Maybe before you tell someone how irresponsible they are for their choices, liken someone’s unvaccinated children to rabid dogs, tell someone they are a moron for owning a gun or call a group of believers idiots, think about the story they might have.  I know they can be impassioned topics, but we each have a reason for the views we take, we each have stories to tell and experiences that color our take on life. Why not share your story, rather than an aggressive argument? I just can’t help feeling that we’d get a lot farther in this world and even in our little pocket communities if we listened. Truly listened. Not to respond, but to understand.

I don’t need you to agree with me, but I do need you to respect my intelligence, my beliefs and my story. I promise, I’ll extend the same courtesy to you. (And maybe we can get our politicians to do similar 😉 )

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” 
― Stephen R. Covey