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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Holidays and Reflection

Gosh, it's been a long time since I've posted anything.  I suppose that is a good sign?  I don't feel such anxiety about my spouse and what she is going through.  I got a new job that has changed my whole attitude.  I have been diving deep into self-reflection. Even if it's messy at times learning how to feel things again, it's worth it.

What is it about the holidays that tends to toy with emotions so much?  It is supposed to be a time of year to sit back and reflect on the past year, appreciate loved ones and connect with people in the spirit of appreciation and love.  It can also be a type of funhouse mirror that distorts perception, exaggerates feelings and amplifies disappointments with ourselves and others.  

What struck me this year is that my family has become more and more distant in the past 5 years.  Since my father passed away, it just isn't quite the same at the major holidays.  As a family, we don't make as much effort or know how to be happy in the times we are supposed to feel the greatest bond.  I skipped spending time with my sisters and their families at Thanksgiving and there is no plan at the moment to get together for Christmas.  I am conflicted about this because there is a part of me that is relieved not to have the stress of attempting to "put on a good show" for the sake of the holidays when I'm missing my dad. I also miss my family and hate the fact that I don't feel as comfortable with them as I used to.  

I am not quite sure how to interact with my family at times.  We don't necessarily share our feelings on a deep and honest level.  I tend to avoid conflict and am not very direct about my feelings because I don't want to burden them if they are possibly feeling badly too.  I sense that we all feel disconnected and none of us know how to fix it.  I don't think it's impossible to get back to a place where my family and I can be happy and present with each other in moments where we feel close again, but I don't know that any of us really knows how to start.

On the flip side, my spouse's family seems to be getting to a better place with acceptance of each other.  Not just accepting my spouse, but I feel like each of them have been more open and honest about themselves.  It's been nice to see the slow transformation and openness of their feelings about everything in their lives.

I have been extremely grateful for friends lately.  I go back and forth on how much I communicate with my friends, but every time I connect with them, I'm happy that I did.  The reason I may stop communication at times isn't because of them, still my own reluctance to let anyone in on my feelings.  I'm trying really hard not to isolate, but it's something I'm so used to it can be difficult at times to reach out to anyone.  Friends are the family you choose.  They have been the people I can count on and rely on for support that sometimes family cannot give because of their deep ties to the past.  Friends don't necessarily have the past perceptions family may have.  Friends can sometimes accept the changes a person makes better than family can.

My new job has brought out a lot of confidence in myself.  I finally have some of the validation that I am good at my job, I am appreciated, and I can make a difference.  I knew a lot of that deep down, but so many years of dealing with a boss who has difficulty accepting the knowledge or experience of others, trusting others or trusting themselves really took a toll on me.  The "people-pleaser" in me felt like a failure, even though I did actually feel confident about my abilities.  I'm working on that aspect of myself, needing the validation from others, but it does feel good to be recognized for my accomplishments over the years that have led me to have the knowledge and capabilities I have now.

There is not much new in the way of the transition with my spouse.  She's still living her "full-time" life and becoming more and more accepted by everyone.  We are both very much looking forward to the future and the possiblity of her surgery.  I would love for her to finally get the feeling of being her true, complete self.  I don't necessarily thing the actual surgery will change much between us, but I'm looking forward to finding out how it changes her self-esteem and self-confidence.  All that is standing in our way at the moment is the out-of -pocket costs of the surgery.  Most is covered by insurance, but it is not a cheap surgery, so we still need to save up to make that happen.

We have been working on being in an open relationship.  Right now, it is all on my side...the openness.  I feel a bit guilty about it at times, but also understand that until she has the body she was "supposed" to have, she doesn't feel comfortable exploring her own sexuality.  I have realized that my own sexuality is a part of myself I'm not ashamed of and actually like.  I've gotten to express that part of myself and it has helped me not only deal with my past, but has helped in the communication within our marriage about each of our needs.  

We've discussed the fact that just because one of us may not be able to provide every single thing the other needs, it doesn't mean we don't love and support one another.  As long as there is honesty about what is happening, it is possible that the marriage can survive.  I know that is very controversial and upsetting to a lot of couples.  That's okay, everyone needs to do what is right for them and I am not saying this is the right decision for every couple.  That is up to each couple.  The reality of our situation, however, doesn't allow me to get everything I need and may not provide everything she may need in the future.  What we do know is how much we love each other and what we have in our relationship, so it is our choice.

So, that's where we're at now.  We're pretty close to the new year and even if there are still some questions, room for self-improvement, or areas we need to work on as a couple, I feel pretty fantastic about the upcoming year.  I wish everyone a good reflection of the past year and a positive attitude about what can be accomplished in the new year.