Scary Couples Therapy

I had a therapy session with my partner yesterday.  We’ve been seeing this therapist since the beginning of the year, and we both enjoy attending the sessions and find value in our conversations.  She calls us on our bullshit and pushes us where we are uncomfortable.  And, boy, we’ve been uncomfortable.  We’ve been resistant, hesitant, lazy, and scared.  But we’ve also been successful, begun healing, busted barriers, and continue to grow together with her assistance.  It’s a practice: showing up, trying things to see what works, and then trying something else.

We were extremely resistant about starting couples therapy.  We were confused about why our “young” relationship needed such work.  Shouldn’t this be easy?  Shouldn’t this be something people who are married 20 years need, not a couple that has only been together for 5 years?  Are we failing?  Are we trying to scoop water out of our sinking boats with barehands?  The answer to all those questions, of course, is yes, and no.

One thing I realized yesterday is that we have gone through more shit together in 5 years than a lot of those couples who have been together for 20 years.  He was in school, I was in school (nursing school = hell), he moved away, his brother died by suicide, my grandparents passed away, I moved away, he started school again, we moved in together, and some other things that are too big and too private and maybe one day I’ll write about them, but that day is not today.  So, damn, yeah, it’s like we can’t catch a break.

But, we’re still together, and that is thanks to hard work and consistent practice.  Couples therapy is like that buzzword “shadow work” on a massive scale.  To be honest, I’ve never seen a therapist on my own, so I don’t really know how this would compare.  But, sitting on a couch, with the person who you love and trust most in this world and talking about your shame or your past or your hurts is really fucking vulnerable and scary.  You’ve got to pull out everything that is ugly and look at it and talk about it.  You’ve got to accept it or change it.  You’ve got to honor those dark underbelly thoughts and feelings, the things we keep hidden and buried.

I have no doubt my partner would accept me and all of my faults, whatever comes out, but admitting those faults to myself is really the scariest part.  I know I’m getting to something good in therapy when I start to go: “well, umm, yeah, kinda.”  I know I’m getting to something good when I can’t completely own it outright.  95% of the time, our therapist calls us on our shit and is accurate.  100% of the time I resist immediately when someone tells me how to feel.  But then I sit, and I allow, and I know she’s right.  We walk out of our sessions smiling, particularly the sessions that kick us in the ass.

And so yesterday, our therapist tasked us with watching a movie and examining our emotions while doing so.  Not just any movie, a sadass, hold-those-tears-in-because-I-don’t-want-anyone-to-see-me-cry, tear jerker.  Except that she wants us to cry.  There have only been a handful of times that Andy and I have cried in front of each other, and it’s always been stilted, awkward, pretend-I’m-not-really-crying crying.  And let’s be real, that’s pretty fucked up.  I love and trust this person more than anyone, why can’t our emotions flow with each other?  (I did a tarot spread yesterday on this, and that will be the next blog post ;))

That’s what I’m doing in the next week: watching a movie with my lover and trying to cry.  Give me some recommendations of excellent crying movies!  And, if you’ve seen a couples therapist and want to talk about, I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments!  What was your experience like?  Scary as hell, too?  Or, the opposite?  Let me know in the comments ūüôā

exploringly yours,
Alaina x

Fertilization of Inspiration

I spent this last weekend with my mom in Denver, Colorado, visiting my sister who has lived out there for a couple of years. ¬†The weather is hot and dry, and in Denver proper there aren’t any mountains — it’s basically a desert. ¬†It’s a trendy city, with lots of healthy mid-thirty year olds and lots of gentrification. ¬†We ate a ton of great food, and explored the area, and went to Red Rocks to see The Avett Brothers under the full moon. ¬†That night was so hot and so clear, perfect for outdoor music. ¬†We had a couple freak accidents and pitfalls and arguments — but, hey, family vacations am I right? ¬†Overall, a great weekend away. ¬†And, I don’t know what it was, but the whole time I was there I felt electrified with inspiration…

So, there are these characters and this story that I’ve been fleshed out in my head for literal years. ¬†Like, since 2011, when I was in Austria and had nothing better to do than write and read and drink all day…with some occasional English teaching, I guess. ¬†The story is in part inspired by a dream I had (that part I don’t remember too much any more), and I outlined and made notes and tried to write the whole thing a couple times, but no manuscript ever got finished. ¬†In part, I blame the outlining and the planning because in November 2010, I did complete a novel, by the seat of my pants, for National Novel Writing Month so we know this is possible.

These scenes from this story are so planned out that I have them in my mind like memories. ¬†These characters become more nuanced as I grow and change myself. ¬†If you’re a writer, or daydreamer, or creative of any kind, I think you will know what I mean. ¬†They are aching for their story, their year that I have in my mind, to be told.

What’s a girl to do? ¬†In my year ahead forecast that I got from Benebell back in December 2016, she encouraged me repeatedly to manifest a writing project. ¬†Hmm, I thought. ¬†I wasn’t sure if this would be an old idea come back around, a fresh idea, or my tarot reading business (which certainly requires tons of writing!). ¬†For a long time, I tormented myself with the idea of a fresh idea (yikes, just the ideas of ideas freak me out…), and, again, if you’re a creative of any kind I think you’ll know what I mean. ¬†Benebell’s July card for me is the Tower, while my own card for myself is Death (in August followed, respectively, by the King of Wands reversed and Emperor, a stalker lately). ¬†And while I find that predictive month-by-month cards don’t do much for me, to be honest, I feel these all mesh together so well when surrendering to a creative project, which may have to be explored in a separate blog post…

Now I feel I know what my writing project is, and I feel I know that I can complete this. ¬†I feel like I have the first fertilization of inspiration to actually complete this story. ¬†I don’t want to plan too much, or make strict rules for myself, but I do know I want to write, at least a little, each day. ¬†And I want to share my progress with you all, here. ¬†Probably not everyday, but more often than I’m blogging now (which…it’s been a while since I’ve been regular). ¬†I’m not sure how much of the actual story details I’ll share, but I’m going to need all the continuing inspiration and support and ideas that I can handle to get this story out.

Day One | I need to water this little sprout of inspiration; it’s here, it’s seeded, now I need to do my part. ¬†So, today, I went to the coffee shop and wrote this post. ¬†I’ve written a couple hundred words for my story and intend to write, at least, a couple hundred more before my ukulele lesson this evening. ¬†I write on my computer, because that is fastest for me, and I like watching my word count go up (it’s the little things). ¬†As it stands, I’m starting from the same point that I’ve always started this story, but who knows if that’s how it’ll stay.

Are you a writer, daydreamer, or some kind of creative?  Have you ever written fiction?  A short story?  A long story?  What about non-fiction?  Do you write with pen and paper or the computer?  Tell me allll about it in the comments!

exploringly yours,
Alaina xx

Autumnal Musings

There’s been a lot going on in my life – my inner and outer landscape – and I feel like I haven’t had adequate time to sit down and compost it all. ¬†September and October speeded away from me. ¬†The two months have been exciting and busy, and I’m grateful for all of the great memories. ¬†But let me tell you: I’m looking forward to the hibernation season of winter, if only for some time to sit in space for myself.

In the beginning of September, I moved in with my honey. ¬†The move itself went well, but there is still art to hang and little things around the apartment that I want to complete to make this place truly our home. ¬†It is a big transition for both of us. ¬†At 28, it’s both our first times living with a significant other. ¬†He moved cities. ¬†He started school full time. ¬†I brought a cat (Gary!) in to our home.

Shortly after the move, I went on a weeklong trip to Germany and the Netherlands with a good friend from work.  I went from unpacking my life into this new apartment to packing a backpack for a whirlwind trip full of beer and nostalgia and sightseeing.

With that – September was nearly over.

October was a blur of celebration.  Over two long weekends, I traveled to two distance weddings with good friends.  One in Wisconsin, a 10-hour drive with my honey and best friend, and another in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  I flew up there, and drove back nearly 8 hours with my best friend.

I traveled to visit other friends, celebrated Halloween/Samhain, started reading tarot via email for others, and have worked overtime to earn some extra money before the holiday season. ¬†There has been the tumult of this election season (that I wish would just end already) that brought out personal realizations, ukulele lessons, questioning of my personal beliefs and practices, and people from my past that I’ve seen over the last two months that have brought a lot of memories – wanted and unwanted – back to the forefront. ¬†And in between all that, not much time for rest and reflection.

And now, it’s November. ¬†Yesterday was my honey’s 29th birthday, and today is the party. ¬†We are hosting nearly 15 people in our tiny apartment tonight for his annual Halloween themed birthday party. ¬† My sister will be in town next week, and my family is visiting my grandparents’ grave, attending an Avett Brother’s concert, and hosting Thanksgiving a couple of weeks early. ¬†Maybe after next weekend I’ll finally get some quiet time. ¬†This little Hermit needs her alone time to recharge!

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I had a reading (above) recently from Julia over at Spiral Sea Tarot¬†and the question was “What is my magical power?” ¬†It was a fun Halloween themed reading, and I don’t really know what I was expecting as an answer, but what she turned up was actually quite interesting. ¬†In summary, my magical power is how I can connect with others. ¬†As stated above, I feel that I’m pretty Hermit-y. ¬†But it made me think a lot about opening up more with others, being gracious, and fun. ¬†She connected it to my ancestral line, and my maternal gramma was the most open and gracious and warm and welcoming person I’ve ever known. ¬†I miss her dreadfully, and I know everyone who was in her life misses her, too. ¬†She was just that kind of person. ¬†She went through innumerable traumas of her own, but she was the mother that, when my own mother was young, would welcome any and all of my mother’s friends in to her home. ¬†It’s nice to have that connection with her. ¬†I know it’s a capability I have inside me, but it’s not one I tap in to often enough, maybe because of laziness or because of being jaded. ¬†But it’s easy to go just a little more out of my way to connect with others, even if it’s a simple conversation at work or a text sent to a friend.

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This morning, I had an interesting card draw for myself (above). ¬†I did a within-without-advice reading with The Wild Unknown, and let out a heavy “HUH” when I turned over the cards. ¬†My honey, who was close by, asked, “Is that not good?” ¬†Well, some heavy cards turned up, as you can see. ¬†Basically, this is confirming that I have a lot to compost. ¬†Lately, I’ve done a lot of internal questioning of where I am and what I’m doing – career-wise, life-wise, everything-wise. ¬†What do I want and where do I want to be?

Within: ¬†The Devil. I’ve been sitting with these questions, and returning negative self-talk answers, like a poison. ¬†Instead of celebrating what I have accomplished, I’m questioning every turn and decision I’ve made. ¬†And it’s all very self-centered bullshit.

Without: ¬†Death. ¬†Here, I feel closure is huge. ¬†There is so much weird energy hanging around my head and my heart and it doesn’t know where to go. ¬†I literally keep making up alternative story lines in my head, envisioning a different future of the path that I am on. ¬†Death here is telling me that I need to put up my borders, close myself off from that energy. ¬†It’s all fantasy.

Advice: ¬†Two of Swords. ¬†Stalemate. ¬†Yes. ¬†“There’s an answer that’s being blocked, maybe by choice?” says The Wild Unknown guidebook. ¬†Exactly.

So, all that I’m trying to say here is I can’t wait for some quiet, some cold, some peace so that I can build the roads for myself. ¬†Not fantasy, reality. ¬†The infinite possibilities of life get me excited, but the possibilities must be grounded in some kind of reality.

That’s about what been going on for me this autumn. ¬†I have a couple more blog posts to follow, inspired from posts that I’ve made on my Instagram, and are products of this crazy fall.

How have you been this season?  Leave a comment below!

exploringly yours,
Alaina