3 Days Begins a New Relationship

Personal behaviors and habits rarely, if at all, change overnight. I still struggle with getting up right at 6 amto do my morning exercises.
So, changing how I engage in relationships definitely won’t change overnight. Those habits were bred from fears that continue to fuel the motivations in my decisions.
When my wife and I decided on reconciling our marriage, we agreed that we needed professional help. We had some unhealthy patterns in our marriage for many years.  We brought some patterns to the marriage and developed special ones just for us.
We wanted to change our negative patterns and to develop healthier ones, so we went away on a three day therapeutic journey.
We had tried Emotion Focused Therapy (EFT) a few years ago.  I found it helpful but we weren’t ready for it then.  I knew there was something to it that would be hugely beneficial, because in one brief session I learned that my reaction to things happening to me was “normal” given my experiences as a child. “Of course that was your response. What else were you going to do?”
Those words from the therapist reached that hurt child within me. It open the door for me to believe that nothing was really wrong with me. Of course these are my responses to life. What else could I do? This is how I learned to be.
Of course, this wasn’t a Hollywood movie and one revelation didn’t change the course of my behavior.  Though, it did make me believe there was a therapeutic process out there that could help me reach down to my core emotions.
You would think getting to core emotions is what most therapy is about. There is that element to therapy as long as you can get your client to go there.
Emotions are scary. Most adults are afraid of them and they are the ones who are supposed to teach you about them.  I was taught how to deal with emotions by both being told not to express them and observing how not to share them.
Those were good skills growing up in family where there was constant turmoil and change. We moved around a lot.  No relationship seemed safe, so I had to protect my emotional safety and learned to depend on my own self-soothing.
However, those skills do not translate well when developing and maintaining healthy relationships.
I’ve always known I wasn’t good at dealing with and sharing the wide gambit of feelings I experienced. So, when my wife and I agreed to reconcile with the proper professional help, we looked, again, for an EFT specialist.
The three days of intensive EFT therapy was a great stepping stone that helped both my wife and I see our patterns. Most of those patterns were great survival techniques in the households we grew up in; though, they were unhealthy in the household we were sharing.
We were given the task to read Sue Johnson’s book Hold Me Tight.  It gave us the language to use in our therapy sessions. I highly recommend the book for anybody in a relationship. It is specific to couples but it can help people see the dynamics in the relationships they have with anybody in their lives.
In sessions, my wife and I expressed our fears to each other. Our therapist had us slow down, listen, and interpret our partner’s behaviors. We learned the different types of dialogues we had with each other.
Our dialogues stemmed from unhealthy, scary places within us because we were protecting ourselves from the unhealthy, scary things we were showing each other.
Knowing our fears and where they come from is so helpful. Speaking our fears out loud allowed our therapist to interpret for us the meaning of those fears. And allowed us to enlighten each other and ourselves.
Our primary dialogue pattern with each other, according to the book, is the Protest Polka.  This dance is based on my wife asking for closeness and connection. Though, it was being asked in such a way that I misinterpreted as anger or sadness at me. Someone’s anger and sadness towards me causes me to withdraw or try to “fix” it. My wife interpreted that as me pulling away from her or dismissing what she was experiencing.  That triggered in her the fear of abandonment. Her reaction was to intensify the anger. I interpreted that as me not being able to do anything right, which triggered my fear of rejection.
I understand now that her anger was fear that I was distancing myself from her when she needed me for closeness and comfort.  She understands now that my distancing was my fear that I could not be enough of what she needed.
This simple discovery to our unhealthy patterns is not so simple to change. Though, we want to change it. So many hidden fears, big and small, direct our decision making.
I’ve written about fear based decisions on my blog, but I didn’t truly fathom the depths of the emotional ties to those fears.
I like to take a more cognitive behavioral approach to things.  Unfortunately, that leaves out truly knowing my emotional motivation to do or not do something.
I know I cannot think myself out of making fear based decisions because they are tied to my emotions like the blood supply to a tumor. The body feeds the tumor and the tumor becomes entwined in the tissue of the body.
My emotions feed the fears, which have become entwined in why I make decisions.
In our sessions, my wife and I did learn a healthier pattern of communicating our thoughts and feelings to each other. It feels foreign and I am still uncertain how to initiate that healthier pattern.
It has only been three days since we ended the three day therapy session, so I have to give myself time.
We want connection with each other. We want closeness.  The first step is asking for those things we want.  Even when we are most afraid to.
Nate

An Option for Exploration

For the past month my wife and I have been exploring the likelihood of reconciling our marriage. This was not a process I was willing to consider not too long ago, but a few things happened.
While listening to a few podcasts, I heard a few things that stuck out to me. A number of guests on various episodes talked about their spouses with praise, love and respect. I recalled there was a time that my wife and I could express such words about each other earlier on in our marriage. Praise, love and respect.
I imagined to myself on those car rides to and from work about what it would be like to be in a relationship where those three ingredients existed. Where I was mindful of my part in maintaining a positive relationship.
Was I capable? Did I want to be capable?
One guest on a podcast (I believe it was on the Jordan Harbinger show) said that “the marriage has to work because divorce isn’t an option”.
If you don’t make something an option, you can’t consider it in your plan.
Of course, I’m speaking in general terms. Sometimes, getting out of a bad relationship has to be an option to gain safety.
I had to leave and separate from my wife to gain safety. Distance was needed for both of us because we were being crushed under the weight of our destroyed relationship that was falling down.
Leaving had to be an option in order to save us as individuals.  And to salvage any hope that we could remain civil towards each other.
Divorce was an option, too. But it wasn’t at the top of the list. It was close but not at the top.
Over two years later, and continuing to maintain a civil, caring relationship for each other my wife and I are still in each other’s lives.
And I hear it mentioned on a podcast that divorce doesn’t have to be an option.
I didn’t have a plan to ask for reconciliation, but I figured that I would be more honest in our future conversations that I have considered it. And share what got me thinking about it.
Praise, love and respect. I know we still have these in our relationship. They got lost. They were not talked about. We were in pain and when you are suffering, you don’t pay attention to the other’s suffering.
We got selfish, and it destroyed the marriage.
We are reading books, listening to podcasts, and talking more deeply about our hurt. This has opened us to explore a new opportunity for a different marriage because we see there is hope. We have heard the stories of others who have been through horrific relationship tragedies and have come out the other side. They love stronger now more than before.
They put forth effort to reconnect in ways they didn’t think possible.
Tools. They were given tools.
We have begun a process and have been given a few tools. We continue to explore options to gain more tools.
This is a fearful, yet exciting time.
We continue to explore. Exploration into newness is the option we choose.
Nate

Thank You: Music Post 010

In a previous music posts I wrote about how process is art. A term I borrowed from podcast host James Altucher who borrowed it from another artist.
I believe in that post I wrote that I would start posting the process I go through when learning a new song. (I also said I was going to learn a song per week but we see how that panned out.)
However, here it is my first process in learning a new song to post.
I am learning Thank You by Led Zeppelin. That choice was decided after I heard Chris Cornell’s version while listening to the Chris Cornell station on Pandora.
I really liked his version, so applied it to how I learned to play the song. Cornell sings the verse containing “Little drops of rain” twice. In the original it is only sung once. It is a great verse and I guess Cornell thought it was worth putting it in there twice.
Also, Cornell’s version is acoustic, so there was no background filler with melodic keyboards or guitar solo. In order for the song to not be over so quickly adding that verse twice extends the song nicely.
I broke down my process here. You’ll hear how I screwed up as I attempted to get the fingering right with hammer on’s and pull off’s and unfamiliar chord changes.
Listen below to the opening guitar part. I don’t think I play it exactly as it should sound but I think I pull it off just enough so you know what song I am starting to play.
I think people at a party listening from the next room might say, “Hey, is someone playing Led Zeppelin?”
This next part was easier. A familiar place on the fretboard for mostguitar players. Chords D, C and G. These are usually the first chords a person learns. Many songs are played using these chords in different progressions. Given this song came out on Led Zeppelin II in 1969, Jimmy probably knew these chords very well.  The band was still fairly young; though, they were in other bands prior.
I don’t know if you want to call this a verse or chorus but “If the sun refused to shine” it will still be the same song, either way.
That musical section was supposed to go here but apparently I didn’t record that for upload. So, moving on.
The next verse “Kind woman I give you my all” took me to a new place on the fret board: B minor chord with a progression to E minor and A minor. I continue to struggle with it, as you will hear. I love how terrible it sounds. If only you could have seen and heard my frustration as I was recording this.
Then we go back to familiar ground with C, G and D. See?  Same three chords as before, just in a different order.  Chris Cornell and I liked this “Little drops of rain” verse and strumming pattern so much, we play it twice in our renditions.
Ok, I took it from his rendition of the song. And I can’t truly say how much he liked that strumming pattern.
The process was happening and I was getting better. Somewhat. But it still wasn’t sounding like I wanted it to. Something was missing other than the lack of skill from my playing.
I hit the Flanger pedal (I use Boss), strummed and smiled.  There was the missing ingredient.  Such a melodic sound that ups the ante on any chord progression.
I stomped my distortion pedal (my newly purchased ) and played around.  The mix of flanger and distortion transported me to what my version of this song would be.
See what I’m taking about?  I knew right then and there this was going to be my rendition. However, since I decided I reached the deadline for this post, I laid down a rough cut of the guitar so I could add vocals.
There were a few lyrical faux pas’s. I may go back to clean it up later and add drums. Process is art.
So, here is my rough cut of Thank You, rock rendition.
Nate

Progress in Steps

In my last post I mentioned I would post my process as art when working on recording my weekly song. Though, I have made progress on my next music post I am not able to post a snippet yet. Recording in GarageBand on my iPad 3 makes posting a snippet of music cumbersome.

However, I post this as a way to keep myself concurrent with previous posts, so as not to come across as some who posts on a whim then moves on to the next irrelevant post with no consistency among my writings.

How could I chart my progress in self-fulfillment if I’m posting whatever whenever?

I don’t even know if self-fulfillment is such a thing. How could a self be fulfilled? If I were ever to be full then why would I continue to do anything? I want to continue to learn. So if that is the case, I guess I will never be fulfilled.

So, with that said: In my never ending quest to fill myself, I was able to figure out the timing for the rhythm guitar on that pesky Superchunk song “Package Thief”. I recorded the rhythm guitar and the basic drum beat.

Next, I will add more drums to fit with the song changes and then figure in the lead guitar.

Many times today, and in the weeks past, I would tell myself, “I’ll never get this. It’s impossible for me. I need to move on to a new song.”

I was even going to get my kids to help me, but I didn’t. They stayed out of my way, which allowed me the alone time I needed to fight through this process.

Something in my mind kept telling me I could figure this timing out. Just keep going.

So, I kept going.

I am so happy I was able to record what I did and I am so close to getting this song done. I know it will have warts all over it. I’ll wear them with pride.

This song has been kicking my ass for over a month and I kept fighting. I feel better for sticking with it. I have seen and heard the progress.

One step closer to completion.

Nate

 

It’s Been Awhile

I have been stuck in my head about a lot of things since my last post because much has been happening.

Financial issues. Moving further in the divorce process. Continuously listening to podcasts on improving my belief in my self-worth. I could not prioritize what to post.

As I type this now, I have no idea what or when I wrote and posted last. I’ll be sure to check on that after I post this.

One of the things I haven’t posted and has been poking me to be let out is Music Post. I haven’t recorded any music. Not even a music doodle, which was my last Music Post.

I’ve been learning a new song but I continue to not post because I don’t like the warts this song has. I am struggling with the timing of the chord changes and how to sing the lyrics. It sounds more like a train wreck than an attempt at a song by a musical novice.

Perhaps, I could post my struggle? Post my process of working on this song?

That would be different. That would allow me to post the train wreck and to formulate it into a piece of art. I’ve read on James Altucher’s blog, and heard him say a few times on his podcast, that “process is art”.

If I can hold myself to use that term, I think I could post my recent musical struggle.

The song I am struggling to learn is Package Thief by Superchunk. It is basically power chords. I just can’t seem to get the timing right.

Take a listen here https://youtu.be/GRQbuWxi0SI to the original song.

I’m not interested in learning the lead guitar part, just the chords and lyrics.

I’m liking this “process is art” approach the more I think about it. I think I will begin this approach this weekend. It is my weekend with the kids and I can get them to help.

Seems I just needed to write this out to gain a better perspective on this issue.

I am thankful for having this space and to make this available to anybody who might find this helpful in their own creative struggle.

Nate

Time is Pricelss

Your attention and time are the most precious things you have. You have given some of that to me and I appreciate it.

Thank you.

I believe that when time is given to me the best way to show my appreciation is to give my time to you.

I have visited some of the blogs of those who have visited mine. I dove into more than one posting by some of you. I really like a lot of what I have read; especially, those posts where you have shared about yourself and your struggles. The most impressive writings to me have been where you have shared what you have done to be good to you.

Choosing yourself in order to be available to others is an inspiration to me. One of my reasons for writing this blog is to be more honest with myself through my writing. I’m still working on this.

Life is tough and rough and we have to treat ourselves well.

If I don’t stop telling myself “I’m not worthy of things”, then why should I expect anybody else to think me worthy. I say some pretty horrible things to myself. If I were to say those things to my friends, I would not have any friends. If I were to say those things to my kids, I would be a horrible father and my kids’ self-esteem and self-image would crumble. Thinking about that happening to my kids breaks my heart. I would want to punch myself in the face if I said those things to my kids. So, why doesn’t it break my heart when I say those things to me? It does break my spirit. I should probably punch myself in the face for having such negativity towards me.

But physical violence only begets physical violence. We see it happening every day. Negativity begets negativity. It happens in my head all the time. That negativity has kept me from striving to do more. I have backed away from many challenges in my life because I didn’t fully believe I was worth it.

Personal examples in my creative life:

I’ve written two novels and a script for a graphic novel. I’ve attempted to get agents for one of my novels. I even knew someone who worked for a literary agency and she submitted my manuscript. It never went anywhere.

I reached out to a few artists to collaborate on my graphic novel. One artist just stopped communicating with me and another did not get back to me. It never went anywhere.

So, I’ve been knocked down and was left rejected. However, there are two points about the above.
One, I could have done a better job of following up by asking more questions. I wasn’t told my work sucked. I just wasn’t told anything. What else could I think?

Two, my passion level was not high for what I had created and promoted. It wasn’t that I didn’t want my creations to go to the next step. I just didn’t believe in myself enough to advocate more strongly for them. I didn’t give myself enough worth. I didn’t give my work enough worth.

This is something that I recently began to understand about myself. I’m a low-key guy most of the time. I can get heated and excited but mostly I try to keep my “cool”. This is not a good thing when I am trying to promote myself and my creations. How can I get others excited about what I created if I’m not getting excited about it?

I would smack my forehead, if violence didn’t beget violence. And you know what, passion and excitement begets passion and excitement. It’s those mirror neurons everybody is talking about. (You know, everybody.) If I’m acting excited then it is almost (almost) impossible for someone in my presence to not feel a little bit of that and not get a little excited themselves.

Time for low-key Nate to get out of my way to make room for passionate Nate. Excited Nate. Enthusiastic Nate. The Nate who believes his work has worth. My work does have worth.

Your work has worth. Why create it in the first place if it didn’t?

Let’s be good to us. Keep writing. Keep creating. It is worth it.

Nate

 

The Four Agreements

I seem to be drawn to reading things on how I can change my perspective about my life in order to improve myself. I want to think myself healthier, think myself happier, and, in some cases, to stop thinking so much and just start doing.

In Don Miguel Ruiz’s book The Four Agreements he presents a simple formula to follow that seems to offer a way for me to combine thinking and doing.

Perhaps, using the term formula is not correct. But I don’t know what else to call it. Maybe a process. A reprogramming. He does use computer terminology, such as, our old agreements being a virus in our programming as humans.

Miguel states that we have agreements within our minds that allow us to accept the ways things are, the negative things we believe, and the way people treat us. And no matter how detrimental those beliefs may be to or for us, we will continue to agree with them.

Miguel says there are four agreements that we can use to combat the negative agreements within ourselves. The Four Agreements are:

Be impeccable to your word

Don’t take things personally

Don’t make assumptions

Always do your best

They seem pretty straight forward and can leave you saying to yourself, “Well, of course that’s all you gotta do. Easy, so easy.”

But you have to explore them deeper, which Miguel does in his book. He explores the depths of what those agreements mean and what you must do in order to adopt them into your programming.

I am aware much more now than I ever was in my past about the negative agreements I hold onto about myself and other people. I know I am folly when it comes to talking to and about myself. My thoughts are not nice.

Over the past few months I have been able to recognize my negative self-talk about me. The power of my rationalization to not do things out of fear. I know better how to recognize my fear. How the fear plays its hand in my decision making.

Fear has played a part in most of the decisions I have made in my life. Fear has powered my rationalization to not speak, not change, and not do.

And I know so much better now that even though I know this, I am not free from the power of fear. I still watch it and let it control me.

I let fear use rationalization most recently to not play my guitar with my friend in his band. He had offered and I had gladly accepted. I’ve played with him several times live in the past. But for some reason I let fear tell me “no” this time. It told me that I wasn’t good enough. That I should go to support him and his band, but I was not good enough to play.

I ended up spending much of that day with my kids at my ex’s house, knowing that I was supposed to play that evening with my friend, but fear told me to stay longer and longer because “I’m not going to play. I’m tired. I can’t solo as well as my friend. My guitar never sounds good. My guitar is a bit dusty from sitting out and my friend my see it and make fun. The other band members will wonder why I’m there and why would my friend invite me to sit in. Just stay here with my kids for as long as I can. I’m not going to play. I just tell my friend I didn’t have time to stop off at home to get my guitar. I’ll sit on my ass and watch him play because I know I am not good enough.”

And that’s what I did.

I let the fear rationalize and put me down and talk me out of playing. And lie to my friend.

The lying makes me feel badly about me. It also makes me upset with myself for letting my fear make me miss out on another experience.

I may not be the best guitar player but I cannot let that be fuel for my fear to stop me from doing something that I really do enjoy doing.

I was not impeccable to my word. I made an assumption about what others would think of me and I didn’t do my best.

Miguel points out in his book is that we can expect to slip up and not follow those new agreements at times, maybe a lot of times, but to not get discouraged because we can always start again. I don’t have to be perfect. I don’t have to get it right every time.

Miguel also let’s me know to be aware of the Judge, Victim and belief system within me. It is like a Bizarro World Holy Trinity. Not that Miguel describes it that way.

The Judge bestows guilt and shame. The Victim agrees to the verdict of guilty and accepts the shame. The belief system is the agreements that are in place that allows the Judge and the Victim to play their roles.

In the coming weeks and months I will continue to explore and write about how my Fear and the Bizarro World Holy Trinity (BWHT) attempt to keep me from Action.

Some of my thoughts on the Four Agreements.

Be impeccable to your word – I am doing that each morning. I write my three morning pages. I treat my inner artist to creative dates.

Don’t take things personally – This is difficult. As much as I may say to myself, “this isn’t about me” I still think things that happen to me are about me.

Don’t make assumptions – This is part of what I do as a therapist. I make assumptions based on people’s behaviors and what they tell me. If we know what motivates us, or other people, we can make an assumption as to how we will react or respond to situations and people in our lives. This can be very helpful. But it does not mean our assumptions will be true.

Always do your best – I like this one just as much as the first agreement. Miguel says that our best will be different for every situation due to many factors about ourselves including emotions and health at the time we are to deliver our best. Some days our best is not going to be good enough to achieve something that we want.

If we can agree that we did the best we were capable of doing at that time, then we should be satisfied. There should be no looking back. No placing blame or guilt on ourselves because we gave all we had at that time. It is okay that our best isn’t going to be good enough every time. We don’t always have to succeed, get “it” right or be perfect.

We should accept ourselves warts and all.

Nate

 

 

Here I Go Again: Music Post 006

 

Here I Go Again by Whitesnake was a pinnacle song of the 80’s hair band invasion. I considered Whitesnake a Heavy Metal band but looking back maybe they weren’t.

My criteria for a band to be Heavy Metal was for memebers to have long hair, wear spandex pants, sing in falsetto, have one song that rocked with shredding guitar solos and one song that was a ballad. Whitesnake met that criteria.

Having Tawny Kitaen sprawl across the hood of a moving car put the cap on the needed criteria for the band to solidify their Heavy Metal status. It also helped with the popularity is this song.

I did not included that bit of criteria with my version of the song; thus, keeping it from solidifying my spot in the Heavy Metal Hall of Fame.

I had not posted a song in a long time. I was supposed to be posting weekly a song I learned in a week. I got caught up in trying to make the recordings sound close to perfect. That totally defeated my purpose of posting songs with mistakes included.

I had practiced this song for a bit longer than a week; though, it doesn’t sound like it. I still seem to get too distracted with thoughts about how I’m playing while I’m playing and it screws me up. Fingers don’t go or move where I want them to.

Well, at least I posted.

The prompt for this post was born at lunch the other day with my brother and sister-in-law. The conversation turned to my plans for the rest of the day. I didn’t have an answer. We had been talking about our creative endeavors and my blog, so this primed me to think about posting a song.

Thank you, guys, for helping me get motivated to post this. As I say, warts and all.

Nate

 

Those Thoughts That Destory

I am now fully aware that I have for the longest time not believed, nor felt, that I am good enough.

Good enough to be accepted
Good enough to be loved
Good enough financially
Good enough intelligently
Good enough creatively

In my head I will justify why I will not ask for more. I believe that there is always someone better to do the task.

There is someone better to be a friend.
Someone better to be a partner.
Someone better to do the job.
Someone better from whom to get love and security.

I believe I don’t deserve more money at work because what I am doing is not deserving of more recognition or financial compensation.

I was in a relationship for 20 years and I believed I was not enough. I didn’t communicate enough. I wasn’t assertive enough. I didn’t take control of situations enough. I didn’t make enough money in my single job and should have worked more to provide enough.

That is what I believed.

Some of my “not enough” thoughts are my own concoctions based on things I heard and saw as I was growing up. Some were developed through the years as an adult.

These self-damaging beliefs are so pervasive I find it very difficult, at this moment, give you a list of reasons why you should spend the day with me. Or be my friend. Or date me.

Yet, I could make a healthy sized list of why you would be bored in my presence. I will not do that here and now. It may be a healthy sized list but it would not be healthy to do.

I continue to have those thoughts that destroy my sense of positive self-worth. I knew they were here inside me. I knew they kept me from taking risks. But I hid from them. I didn’t know that hiding from them was giving those beliefs power over me.

Because I was hiding I didn’t realize that I started to accept these beliefs that I was not good enough. That is why I never paid attention to the things I do that give me worth. And even when I knew I had worth, I believed that somebody else deserved [place thing here]. They deserved whatever it was more than I did.

I would look at another guy walking down the street or in a store and my thoughts would be, “That guy is better looking than me. He’s in better shape than I am. He probably has a high paying job and can afford to go out and spend money with no problem. So, any girl I would be with would regret being with me because she could have that guy.”

I have this negative scenario that loops in my head: If it came down to a choice be between me and “that guy”, “that guy” would always be chosen over me.

Since I believe that and live that in my actions, of course “that guy” will get chosen or “those other people” deserve more than I do.

Those guys deserve the love, money, and relationships more than I do. They are more willing to bet on themselves than I am. They say “I am worth it. I want it and so I will get it.” So they deserve what they get because they believe in themselves more.

This is the battle of thoughts that I fight everyday. Or do I really fight in this battle? Sometimes I think I do. Other times I think I was defeated a long time ago and continue to nurse the battle scars.

However …

I am aware and recognize the negative self-talk that is fueling the negative self-belief. And I am able to stop wallowing in self-pity. These are steps in the right direction, but the process is too slow.

I need to get out of my negative headspace to save myself. Being more honest in my writing is part of that process.

Nate

 

Music Post 005: A New Game

Music Post 005: A New Game

It would seem this learning a song per week has petered out. But I haven’t let it discourage me. I have a new game.

This new game is to practice a handful of songs that I could play at a given notice or while out and playing with others.

I’ve been practicing Plush by Stone Temple Pilots. I keep practicing Times Like These by Foo Fighters. I’ve started to learn Here I Go Again by White Snake.

Some other songs I have learned in the past and want to practice more to get better are:

Promise by When In Rome
Elderly Woman Behind a Counter in a Small Town by Pearl Jam
Hold Me Now by Thompson Twins

If I can get to know between five and ten songs I will be better about my attempt to learn more songs this year.

I’ll post the songs when I record them.

I may even throw in a few of my own. To play my own stuff live will be fun, too.

Nate