30 Seconds to Intimacy: Reflecting on HOLD

I don’t remember exactly when Josh first mentioned it. Maybe it was something his therapist said. Perhaps it was a random article that caught his eye during a mental work break. All I know is that since he mentioned there was a “right way” to do them, all our subsequent hugs have piqued my interest.

Hugging, it seems, is good for our neurobiology. And 30 seconds of it increases intimacy-cementing hormones (namely, oxytocin). This is the chemical released during childbirth and, interestingly, intercourse. As much of a 30 second EMBRACE (recall that this is my #oneword2017) can enhance, solidify, and tenderize your relationship with your partner. Not that Josh and I need it — we’re that obnoxious couple that has never fought, despite dating for over a year and living together for nearly six months. Part of that is because we’re naturally so fucking compatible that it bewilders us on a daily basis. The other is because we actively work to preclude conflicts before they originate.

Don’t get me wrong, we’re going to have a huge blow out at some point. We’ve even placed a bet on what it will be about and who will start the fight (my bed: probably about his ex and it’ll probably be me saying something feisty).

But in the meantime, we are diligent to take care of the other person. To be on their side. To support and forgive and clarify. And this week, I wanted to give those long, restorative hugs a try.

So every day, we would HOLD one another for a long embrace. Sometimes it was in the bathroom, naked post-shower. Sometimes it was in the doorway, holding my purse post-work. Sometimes it was in the kitchen, wet hands from doing dishes post-dinner.

You don’t just wrap your arms around each other, either. Josh gave me instructions during our first run — you must also put your weight into the other one. Really lean in there. Rest your body against the other person. Hold tight-ish. Maybe place your face in the crook of their neck and breathe in their pheromones.

And for reals, y’all, it works. It’s an instant rejuvenater. At first we hugged for the designated 30 seconds. Oftentimes it lasted far longer, the two of us slowly revolving in our own little world. The hugs infiltrated our sleep, TV watching, and meal times. Josh thrives on physical touch so this week’s verb benefited him even more than me.

This week was a good reminder that our VOWs needn’t be major in order to be impactful.

Next week we shift gears and begin to TAKE


Lin’s VOW mantra:

Lin’s Song of the Week: Hold On by Rivvrs


Be sure to read Steph’s #VOWhold post (coming soon!)

Memorize: Reflecting on CAPTURE

Grand plans sometimes go unmet. Life gets in the way and we don’t have the ability to — or rather, we perhaps neglect to — CAPTURE life’s little moments via our Polaroid. These days we all place such an emphasis on documenting our lives that we can forget that to CAPTURE needn’t be physically tangible.

While swimming in Halong Bay two Novembers ago, we were anchored behind a gorgeous peaked mountain during sunset. As I tread water, far away from the click of a shutter, I breathed in a dream, actualized. I stared at the sky, closed my eyes to cement it. Repeat. Repeat. I wanted to be fully immersed in the experience while also ensuring that I never lost the beauty.

Later, after boarding our cruise ship and puttering around the Bay, I found myself alone on the observation deck while others showered and prepared for dinner. Dusk fell and a silver hue covered me, the water, the mountains. I tried to take a picture but the beauty didn’t translate. So for a second time that evening, I studied everything my eyes fell upon.

I revisit that day a lot, to ensure that I don’t lose what I worked so hard to CAPTURE.

And of course there are moments we don’t foresee wanting to remember. One year ago, my fella and I unwittingly planted a seed. It was slow to sprout and we have become very protective over it’s safety. I think back to April 17th last year and am filled with gratitude. I go back to our early moments and write them down, CAPTURE them on paper so that in the years and decades that follow (whether we stay together or not) I’ll be able to come back to this beautiful phase of life any time I want.

Happy anniversary(ish) Josh. I’m glad you caught me.

THIS WEEK LET’s SCRIBBLE

 


Be sure to catch Steph’s #VOWcapture post

A List of the Unexpected: Reflecting on SURPRISE

A matching ice bucket and decanter, which fit nicely with the theme of my our bar cart.

The Power of Now.

A basketball.

The letter I posted two weeks prior, the day the address change was submitted to the post office. Returned home and set aside to be read… when the message was no longer pertinent. Yet still sentimental.

Space in closets, drawers, and the bookshelf.

Tickets to Sam Bush.

A vintage picnic basket for dinner and movies (and yoga, and concerts) in the park. Coming Tuesdays this summer.

A geometric painting of a lemon, created when I was stoned.

Matching mugs — Damn it feels good to be a gangster. x and Oh darling, let’s move to Avondale and be adventurers. x

His-and-hers Student-Affairs-pink underwear.

All new bedding — despite being identical to their predecessor.

A hot sauce kit from a sister.

Rosemary cookies from a mother.

Doonesbury comics from another.

Orange roses.

A wax seal in the shape of a Z.

New sneakers for more urban hikes.

A new dress for The Great Homecoming. And a new journal to mark a new chapter of life.

Arriving on Thursday afternoon rather than Friday night — and beginning a life together.

 

This week contained many surprises to mark an occasion so momentous that we weren’t the only ones to celebrate — friends, family, and neighbors contributed.

Reflecting on the excitement of these items and experiences helped solidify that my love for surprises, both in giving them and receiving them, lies in the act of generosity and care meant exclusively for the benefit of the receiver. Every extra item chosen in an Amazon order or on a trip to Target, or in making additional space in my home was exciting because they were done specifically for the appreciation of another. The giver revels in the anticipation because they foresee the joy it will impart. The size of the gesture and the price tag associated means nothing. It’s the act of love, to show they are known, they are cared for, that they are truly seen, and they are prized above all else is our message. And we speak this love language well.

Here’s to more of the unexpected in coming weeks and years. In the joining of two lives and seeing where we go next.

Keep a candle burning because this week we WORSHIP


Don’t forget to check Steph’s post on #VOWsurprise (coming soon!)

On Brokenness & Rejoining: Reflecting on SEPARATE

The past four years of my life have been partially defined by SEPARATENESS. Some phases more strongly than others, but separateness all the same.

In 2013, I had the worst conversation I’ve ever had. When I looked into the bloodshot eyes of a man whom I loved very much… and whom I had very much grown to resent and nearly hate. When I finally spoke a truth that we both had suppressed for longer than either of us even now care to admit, you could almost hear the crack. My breaking heart. His breaking heart. Every thread of our intertwined lives were not patiently untangled, they all were simultaneously and viciously snapped apart.  Acknowledging that our marriage was not working and our perfunctory attempts to fix it were insufficient, we came to a conclusion. We were just broken enough that it couldn’t be salvaged. Or maybe we were just both too selfish or too stubborn or too young to enact the enormous changes that would have been able to reconnect the severed pieces. Regardless, we decided to end a marriage to spare the love that still remained. To not devolve into hate the way so many incompatible couples do. To call it a draw and exit kindly, with compassion and care.

I have the best divorce of anyone I know of. But the hurt still managed to undo me. Had I the option, I would have sacrificed a lung to be rid of it.

After that conversation, I found myself estranged from my Person and shortly thereafter we became permanently SEPARATED one week after our fifth anniversary.

Only those who have had to deconstruct the promises, hope, and safety of a long term relationship can understand. That isn’t to say short relationships or breakups from someone you’ve dated doesn’t pack a punch. Those cause permanent and depleting emotional injury and aren’t to be undermined. But similar to how the first weeks of marriage are inexplicably different than being engaged, divorce has it’s own unique set of debilitating  heartbreak.

Because I felt so entirely shattered, I developed a strong and deep desire to reunite myself with, well, myself. To take a hard look at why my marriage failed and how I contributed to its demise. And how to never, ever experience such pain again. At first, being alone was easy because I felt so incapable of loving and being loved. I exercised fanatically, went to the movies three times a week, and survived on a diet of red wine and caprese salad. As the shock wore off and I began to feel at ease in my new apartment and routine, I devoured self-help books, sought out a therapist, and carefully unpacked the bitterness and error from my baggage.

It took me nearly a year to start dating again. And three to actually label a man as my boyfriend. But throughout the bad dates and budding relationships (which I fled at the slightest glimmer of attachment or vulnerability), I continued to pursue myself. I discovered not only what really mattered to me in a relationship, but what I wanted out of life. What I expected out of me.What skills I had neglected after years of focusing entirely outward. What terrible habits I had fed after years trying to silence what was inward.

My divorce ended up fostering a reunion with myself.

I recall one weeknight in 2015 as I folded laundry in my bedroom, listening to Spotify and getting tipsy off Knob Creek. I was hit with this overwhelming sense of being exactly where I was meant to be. I was *finally* on the right path and the universe gave me a small nod and said see? this is YOU and she’s pretty damn good. I was very much single and leading a relatively tame existence. Work, friends, exercise, food, booze, sleep. The change was that for the first time, I felt deeply and truly content without requiring another person to complete the picture. I was enough.

I mention all of this because I’m at the end of my SEPARATION phase. After nearly nine months, and for the second time in my life, a man will be moving into my apartment and I’ll be cohabiting the same bed with another person. Shared meals, shared chores, shared remote, shared expenses, shared future. I couldn’t be more thrilled because Josh is 100 percent absolutely worth the endeavor. Worth the risk of possible heartbreak again. Worth soldering my life to.

And as beautiful and exciting as the next chapter is, I want to pay respect to everything I gained from this past one. Where I became me. Where I learned the necessary lessons and took the necessary precautions to prevent what I was most afraid of in a relationship.

So while making space for the few possessions Josh will be transplanting, I’ve watched all the embarrassing TV I love. Ate my favorite foods. Peed with the door open. Worked late nights and stayed in bed a little too long. Left my apartment a mess with dirty underwear and discarded outfits on the floor. Sleeping in the middle of the bed and stretching my appendages to each corner. Making space and breathing appreciation for those tiny, random benefits you get only when you live alone. Seeing them for the gifts they are and acknowledging what they’ve made me.

This Wednesday I will come home with my journal, some Knob Creek, and a big heart. Honoring with ritual the gratitude of my undoing so that I could become whole with the greatest love of my life. Not writing off the chapter with desperation and dismissal; rather, sending it off with gratitude and love.

 

THIS UPCOMING WEEK may take us all be SURPRISE


Lin’s VOW mantra: Enjoy the stillness and honor the end of this phase.

Lin’s Song of the Week: These Eyes by The Guess Who


Don’t forget to check Steph’s post on #VOWseparate