conscious relationship

How do we honor personal truth inside partnership?

It really matters to me that we be able to tell the truth to one another. Like, it reeeaaallly matters to me. One of my oldest friends said to me this year, “No one wants real more than you.”


That might be true.


I seek truth. I speak truth. When I can’t speak a truth, it eats at me. I help others navigate how to speak their truth. And first knowing your truth and then speaking your truth is honestly some of the most challenging and also most significant work we can do as humans right now on this planet.


We need to challenge the status quo. We need to come alive in new ways. And this happens by owning our own truth.


And it happens most significantly, most impactfully, first in our most intimate relationships.


Because if we can’t be real there, then where can we be real? If we can’t be real in our partnerships or with our parents, siblings, or best friends, then in my perspective, anything else we are putting out on social media or in our board room or sales calls is just facade. It’s just pitch and marketing of a false life.


I don’t want a false life. And I don’t want to have to hide myself in personal relationships. I have done that for a lifetime and I know that it doesn’t ever work, to hide parts of yourself in order to appease someone or reduce consequences.


Because there are and will be consequences to you owning your own truth! If you have a truth and your partner doesn’t share it, there could be argument, discord, or the relationship could even end.


I like to invite readers to pause and ask themselves, “Where do I do this in my life?” Where are you keeping quiet about something that matters to you in order to avoid another person’s reaction.


I’m sure that took about three seconds for you to think of an example.


So how do we do it? How do we honor personal truth inside of relationship?


I have a lot of ideas and experience with this, and I coach individuals and couples how to live into their authentic truth, their authentic selves, and also maintain healthy relationships. Here are a few introductory tips. Contact me to learn more about longer term support options.


  1. Spend time training your own mind to know your truth. Ask yourself multiple times a day, maybe even setting a timer to remind yourself to do this, “What is my truth in this moment?” When you have your answer, honor it. You don’t yet have to speak it or do anything with it, but my first question to you is - can you allow yourself to have it?

  2. Watch where you manage truths - yours or others. If someone tells you a personal truth, how do you respond? Do you want to negate what is true for them? Or do you honor it? One way to honor another’s truth is to repeat back to them what they’ve said, “I hear you saying that…”

  3. Before you decide to share a personal truth, check where you are in your body. Is there tension? Is there relaxation? Do you feel like you need to fight or prove your point, or do you feel poised and centered? Only share your truth when you are solid and centered. This will greatly reduce your reactivity in a potentially heated exchange.


I love supporting individuals and couples in gaining the confidence, clarity, and sense of embodied ease in sharing their personal truth with the world. Contact me when you’d like support!

My couples co-regulation ebook is free for the month of July! Head to the products page to download!


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My exs are among my best friends, and here's how we do it.

My exs are among my best friends. Most of them. But those that are, we are the legitimate, “I’ve got your back, call when you can’t tell other people this shit, no judgement here, I love your next partner because you love them, you know you can be honest with your heart in this space, gives the best hugs ever” kind of love.



I am talking about my exs. My lovers, some of which at one point we thought we were going to spend our lives together (because aren’t we always trying to fit into that old trend!) and one of which I birthed his daughter. These are people that, when the relationship ended, it was sometimes messy, and it always took time to come around. And then there was eventual healing. Because love is love. Because when a soul mate is recognized, the value of that person doesn’t change because your relationship does. Because it takes way more effort and a whole heap of unhealthy to hold that person at arm’s length in disdain than it does to just open up your heart.



My son’s father and I were middle school lunch table buddies. We were in relationship for fourteen years, and divorce wasn’t easy. And we are currently co-parenting this boy with more intention than we ever have. Now when we’re on the phone, I’m surprised to hear him open up and tell me about his parents or his job, but I like that he now will. I don’t know that we’ll ever make it to best friend status again, but there is love. We are rebuilding trust.



I don’t want to harbor resentment, because I don’t want to be a woman with resentment of men. I’ve been that. I don’t want to name the ways I’ve been disappointed by men and retell those stories and wallow. I don’t want to see any man fail because I couldn’t get from that person what I thought at one time I had wanted to get.



Within the last few months, as I was in a rough spot, these exs were among the friends that had my back, the ones that I could tell the whole truth to, the ones who help me become a better woman as I learn and make mistakes and grow. They are the ones I check my judgements with and the ones I ask to hold me accountable.



Two of them have recently asked me to hold council for them and their current partners. I have held every one of them in their own struggles since our relationships ended as significant others. I had a hard time finding the last words of that last sentence: since our love relationship ended…. No…. we still have a love relationship. Since our intimate relationship ended…. No… because we still have an intimate friendship. This is not to mean that I have been intimate with them, that we have remained or become lovers again. It actually means the intimacy of the heart. The deepest intimacy of friends. I am not polyamorous, have no interest in that, and neither are these men. No lines are crossed. It’s boundaried and beautiful, because we are clear with our words and intentions.



I go to them for help, love, and friendship, and they come to me. That’s my point here. The trust is sometimes beyond that of other friendships, perhaps because we have this past and we decided to honor one another anyway. In that choice, we have gained some of the best friends of our lives.



I have two exs that left without saying a proper goodbye to me or to my son. And actually, these were the last two partners I had. These were deep loves, these were men who would never have wanted to behave in the way that they ended up behaving, and while I hurt like hell afterward, I am not angry.



My son has been having a difficult time, because the second time this happened was just five months ago. When I told him that this man was not coming back, he said, “Mom, I am seriously never trusting another man that comes into this house again.” I’m sorry, son. It reminded him of the last man he loved, and to attempt to simultaneously explain to a nine year old boy why men we both loved and honored would treat him or I this way, while he sorts out the confusion of what his mother also must of had to do with it, is nearly impossible. Because I can explain it, but it’s incomprehensible. It’s poor behavior. This week, as I was finishing a personal shamanic shadow-work practice of about 5 weeks, and my ex from a year ago showed up at my ex husband’s workplace. They had met only once.



He asked my ex husband if he wanted to be friends. He joked and said that that would really piss me off. He asked my ex husband to apologize on his behalf to our son for never seeing him again.



This man had long hair and a very warrior-eque persona. I realized just last week that my son has been growing his hair long ever since this man left our lives. It affected a place deep within him that I didn’t know had been affected. And I had recently begun to realize it as we worked with his therapists and as his father and I try to figure out his increased lying and sadness.



When I got this information about his visit to Rowan’s father’s workplace, I sent him a text. I had just finished a shadow work practice that left me feeling much more clear headed about what I will and will not continue to allow to fester in my life; in our lives. I said, “No one here will be apologizing on your behalf. You are responsible for your own actions. You did not say goodbye to this boy who loved you, and it hurt him.”



He was upset and uncomfortable. He was quick to remind me why he left, that I had become dangerous in his eyes, that my writings, my truth telling, “hurt people.” He told me I was a snake, like the tattoo on my left arm, and that I “suck as a human.”



When he calls me hurtful, he’s talking about my choice to tell the truth. He’s referring to choices just like this, where I write openly about my life, and where I choose with my words how to advocate that we all do better. That we be better. I use my story to illustrate my point, and believe me, I’ve protected the truths of a handful of men plenty of times and I have still been deeply, emotionally, and financially threatened by scared men as they didn’t want my words out in the world about them, because they themselves are uncomfortable with their own behavior.



If you have to silence a woman, it is your own shame that is behind that. I’ll make it personal, actually. If you have to threaten to silence me, it is your own shame that is behind that, because I am clear that my intentions are not to harm. I texted him to tell him that the reason I scared him is because I represented the parts of himself he’d rather not look at. This is the shadow that we either embrace or run from.



There are quotes out there that say, “If you don’t want anyone to know about it, then you should have behaved better.” I do not write in order to hurt people. I write to claim my story, to advocate, to uphold. If I am inherently a threat, it is because someone is unwilling to own their own behavior and they carry shame. And, honestly, I am also sensitive to that. I have not really written about this man until now. I have kept my mouth shut. I have protected men that have mistreated me. And I don’t care to take revenge, but I also don’t care to be threatened by a behind-the-scenes narrative that I am a snake, or that I should be sued to be silenced, as threatened by three men in the last two years, when the cause behind these threats and insults is their own shame.



I am a woman with a heart, with a body, with a home and a son, and if you want into this life, then by damn, I get to speak on it when it becomes my story.



I think, to the dear few that fear my words, that if you truly look at my work and comb it, asking yourself if I have actually chosen to demonize or threaten you, if I have actually told intimate and threatening truths, you will find that the answer is no. You will actually find, if you have the eyes to see, that I advocate for men, that I love men, that I want everyone, you included, to come forward in vulnerability of what you have done in your flawed humanity. I am not entirely innocent. Of course not.



But we must be willing to risk connection when connection seems impossible, to trust again when we want to flee, because there in that space is liberation. If you can hurt someone else and then that person forgive you - that’s liberation. If you can say you are sorry and press forehead to forehead and each say, “I forgive you,” that’s liberation.



The reason my relationships with all these other men and exs are the deepest friendships of my life is because we both took accountability, over time, for our flawed humanity. It is evidence that two people, with a lot of history and hurt and baggage, can do the work of navigating the spaces between, of healing, and of enjoying a life of love.



When I was talking to a male friend and colleague a few months ago, telling him about a recent journey I’d taken to stay on my daughter’s father’s land, to reacquaint in that space, and of the deeper healing that took place there, he said, “Wow, so you are really genuinely friends with your exs?” I said, “Absolutely, some of them!” He said, “You should put that on your website or your resume. That’s some of the hardest and most genuine healing we can do. That’s the real deal.”



Authentic. That’s the word. To acknowledge, to admit mistakes, to come back to the table and not run, to refrain from blame and slander, to say, “I’m sorry” - that’s authentic living. It’s vulnerable. It’s real. And it’s required.



….



I have lived my life in deep reflection and I make offerings of the heart through my practices in Embodied Breath. If you are a man who longs for deeper connection, to face your shame in love, to practice vulnerability and accountability in a safe space, and to practice self forgiveness and self love, I have a twelve week men’s online offering beginning June 12. You can see my website home page for more details.

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Acknowledging self protection is critical for connection

We all self protect. We are built that way, as mammals. We have mechanisms in our brains that scan the environment for threat and allow us to guard against that threat. This is helpful, but how does it impact our relationships?


Threats can be real, or they can be perceived. If your mother used to turn into a frenzied tyrant when guests were coming over and she wanted the house clean, and later in life your wife asks you for help in preparing the lawn for guests, you might become guarded while helping with these tasks. You’re guarded because your brain and body remember the wrath of your mother, but in real time, the threat is only perceived because your wife activated the memory.


Stop and think of a time when you were threatened by a current or past partner, when really it had to do with a memory or event that had taken place before that. Maybe you blew the situation way out of proportion. Maybe you had no idea why you were so mad then, but now you can see that you were self protecting based on something that happened previously. Maybe you have never considered this before and see now that this is what was happening! Well done!


This affects relationships in large and small ways every day. Partners are frequently upset about something that is causing them to feel emotionally threatened that has roots in the past. The threat otherwise truly wouldn’t exist if there wasn’t a prior trigger that we were just consciously or subconsciously reminded of. Previous threats, or traumas, make imprints in the brain whether conscious or not, and we move forward in life guarding against those threats until we bring them to consciousness and heal them.


If we are hardwired for this type of protection, and we naturally scan for threat, what can we do about it so that it doesn’t sabotage connection in relationship? This is key, because, unchecked, it will sabotage your relationship, rest assured.


When I work with couples in my coaching practice, I teach them about present moment awareness, tracking sensations, and speaking to one another in moments of tension from a place of noticing (rather than mental analysis). I will give you an overview of these tools now, so the next time you notice yourself in protection-mode, you might pause to practice the following:


1. Present moment awareness is something that we cultivate over time, but a simple mindfulness practice to begin daily would be to take five minutes, twice a day, and breathe while purposefully noticing that you are breathing. It’s that simple. Count the breath to anchor your attention to it. Count an in-breath of 6 seconds, hold for 3 seconds, and an out-breath of 9 seconds. This is a triangular breath technique that invites the parasympathetic nervous system to active, which is helpful when you do not want to overreact. You will notice a relaxed breath pattern, a relaxing of muscles, and maybe a relaxation of tension in the stomach when you have breathed for a few moments and activated the parasympathetic system, also known as the “rest and digest” part of the nervous system. The more you practice this, the more you’ll train your brain to default to this internal sense of regulation, which feels pleasant and enforces a lower chance of emotional reactivity.


2. Sensations associated with self-protection include clenching muscles, tight jaw, withdrawal and caving in of the chest, or erratic movements as if you want to fight. These are all associated with the fight or flight response, and I’m sure you can think of more. How does this impact your body when you feel threatened? When you have a practice of noticing the present moment, you can then also notice your body’s sensations associated with any emotion. As a culture we are not used to noticing sensations first, so this is something to practice. Notice when you want to run, fight, flee, and what the associated sensations are. This is incredibly empowering, as then you are more likely to respond to a situation less reactively and more mindfully.


3. As individuals cultivate the above practices, they are able to upgrade their communication skills to move from the common accusation or assessment strategies often employed in conflict, and move to a personalized account of present-moment notices. This might sound like, “I’m noticing that I want to run away, that my chest feels tight and my breath is short.” A few things happen when a couple begins to speak this way. First, arguments are completely diffused. Second, compassion and empathy naturally grow between them. It is difficult to hear someone’s present moment experience and deny the truth of it, as often happens in arguments where two people are trying to prove a point. An added bonus to speaking from present-moment awareness of the body and breath sensations is that you do not have to name your emotions. Many times in various therapies, we try to train our brain to memorize emotional language, but when we are triggered, it is much easier to notice and report what is going on in real time than it is to identify an emotion word to label the experience. The latter brings us back into our analytical minds, and I am advocating that we stay in present-moment awareness rather than analysis when we are in self-protection.


These tools are worth cultivating, because what each and every person wants, regardless of age, previous history, various diagnoses, etc, etc, is connection. We all want connection. And, we know that when we default to self-protection, then connection is harder and harder to achieve. In the modern world, we seem to have more separation and self-protection than ever. And you may see it right there in your closest relationships - an ongoing lack of authentic connection, often due to the self-protection that you are both maintaining.


The good news is, you can safely train yourselves out of this tendency as a couple. You can own your own tendencies to self protect, you can learn to safely share your vulnerabilities with your partner, and you can both learn to respond safely so that connection is achieved - hopefully the deepest connection of your lives.