Acceptance, Challenging Beliefs, Friendships, Relationships

What Baby Gammy has Taught Me about the Freedom of Difference

Photo Credit: Damir Sagolj, Reuters.

The other night Four Corners aired a report by Debbie Whitmont about the Surrogacy Business in Thailand with particular respect to Australian families.

The future of surrogacy in Thailand has been well and truly rocked by the alleged abandonment of baby Gammy. For those of you unaware of the story; it was alleged that Gammy, who was born via a surrogate in Thailand to Australian biological parents, was abandoned and left with his surrogate mother due to being born with Down syndrome.

There has been a tremendous outpouring of support for baby Gammy and a continued interest in the case as there is still so much that is unknown. Baby Gammy’s story has raised so many important questions with respect to how children are born and raised in our modern world.

Inspired by baby Gammy; today I wanted to push all of the legal and ethical questions aside to focus on our societies’ perceptions of children with special needs and the freedom that comes with the acceptance of different points of views.

Baby Gammy’s birth has raised many questions in me and made me reflect deeply upon my own beliefs, thoughts, fears, misconceptions and behaviours. I put my hand up to say that “I freak out when I see a child with special needs in a supermarket”. I don’t want to stare or make a fuss, I don’t want to seem uncompassionate or disinterested and I often find myself awkwardly smiling and trying to gauge the response of the parents. I am genuinely unsure of how to respond in a way that doesn’t make anyone feel uncomfortable or unseen.

Then I got to thinking about how I respond to children without special needs in supermarkets. I never seek the interaction; I interact naturally and when the situation calls for it. If they speak to me I speak back, if they stare at me I smile, if they bump into me I make a joke about it.

I’m also guided by the parents, if a parent is in a bad mood and dealing with a misbehaving child I don’t think,

“Oh I better interact with this family somehow otherwise they’ll think that I am disenfranchising them from our community.”

If I’m coming up an aisle about to walk past a family who isn’t paying any attention to me; I don’t think,

“What am I going to do once I get to them? They are standing in-front of the frozen peas and I don’t want to appear rude by asking them to move. Should I talk to the child first before I ask the parents to excuse me? I don’t want them to think that I don’t care about their child. Maybe I’ll just come back for my peas.”

I would never behave in such an awkward, calculated and conspicuous way; I would just be myself, I would act naturally and I would take my cues from the situation.

This all got me thinking about how we respond to the birth of children without special needs and what would happen if we behaved the same way upon the birth of children with special needs? What if we let the situation and the context dictate our responses?

In the past I haven’t shouted out any loud messages like “special needs children are born perfect as they are!” I’ve no doubt taken pity, offered sympathy and sentiments of commiserations; I’m sure behind closed doors I’ve made broad generalisations about how a special needs child “would ruin your life”. And if those words didn’t come out of my mouth directly then I have definitely allowed them to be spoken in my presence unchallenged.

I can’t speak to the realities of raising a special needs child, and that’s kind of my point. I would argue that none of us could understand the complexities until we were in that situation. I wish to be clear that I am only speaking of these ideals to the context of our collective society.

A close friend of mine gave birth to a normal, run-of-the-mill, healthy child yesterday. When we all heard the news her Facebook wall was littered with sentiments of ‘congratulations’,‘ how wonderful’ and ‘how exciting’.  I wondered if we would share the same sentiments if she gave birth to a child with special needs?

Raising any newborn child is difficult, I don’t wish for the sleepless nights and total upheaval that my girlfriend is about to experience upon myself, but I certainly wouldn’t think it appropriate to offer my sympathies to her. I strongly believe in her ability to be a mother to this child and I know that she has the support that she needs to do a good job.

If in a few days, weeks or months time she comments to me on how difficult she is finding it then my sympathy and support would be offered, but it is in a context of her seeking it. There are so many variables in how someone raising a child with special needs, or without, is going to be able to cope. The family and support networks available, access to medical care, education, practice, experience etc. Surely these things would make the journey of caring for a special needs child different from family to family?

So what if we offered special needs families the option to have us offer our excitement, our congratulations and our joy from the beginning? If it wasn’t appropriate because they told us they were struggling then we could offer them our compassion and support. But ultimately it would be their context and their needs that would guide us rather than our hypothetical projections of what it must be like for them.

I get that in practise this is awkward stuff, this is why I’d encourage us to have those conversations with our friends and families before such a situation arose. We are so good at asking the question “Would you go ahead with a pregnancy if you found out the child had special needs?” but rarely do we ask “If it happened, how would you like me to respond?”

To ease some of the awkwardness we could start having a different type of conversation behind their backs. What if when we were having those discussions with our mutual friends about their ‘situation’; we focused on the positive aspects that our loved ones were not yet able to see? What if we started to tell stories of hope and appreciation rather than pity?

“I heard about Bill and Jenny’s poor bub. Isn’t it dreadful? I can’t even image how difficult it is going to be for them. Their lives are never going to be the same; it must be so stressful for them. I don’t know how they are going to be able to cope.”

 What if we offered something similar to these sentiments as a new response?

 “Yes I don’t think I could cope but who knows how’ll they’ll find it. They are amazing people and I’m sure they’ll surprise themselves. I’m excited for them because if any family can thrive with a special needs child it’s them.

I know this is not the child they were expecting but what a blessing and joy he has been. I’ve already learnt a lot and I’ve had a lot of my misconceptions challenged, and he’s only 3 months old. This child could possibly be the greatest thing that has even happened for all of us, I am really looking forward to being a part of his life.”

We don’t know how things are going to turn out for Bill and Jenny, but the same is true for all families. Their family could break under the strain or they could thrive. As their friend what service do I offer them by focusing only on their potential future struggles? It’s not like if I don’t point out the potential difficulties to them that they’ll never know they exist. Why do we feel like “telling it like it is” is a helpful approach? You can’t “tell it like it is” about the future because there is no ‘is’ yet.

This is a really complex issue and I’m not suggesting that having a child with special needs is something that every one should choose or even consider. I have no judgement about the choices that parents make, every family is different and every set of circumstances is unique. Even as this story about baby Gammy unfolds it is appearing that his life has taken a much better turn than if his biological parents had taken him.

I’m simply suggesting that as a society rather than focus on the struggle as our first point of call that we allow space for an alternative more hopeful viewpoint for families. Surely we can offer optimism to others even in situations that we would find undesirable for ourselves?

Isn’t celebrating the birth of every child something that as a society we would want to aspire to?  Maybe this is a moot point; maybe upon the birth of a special needs child within our sphere of family and friends we would extend our congratulations and appreciation very naturally. Until that moment comes we are only speaking in hypothetical’s.

We’ve all over heard or participated in a conversation with friends and family behind closed doors that has been sparked by a prenatal Down syndrome test. During these hypothetical’s, declarations about “a zero desire to raise a child if the test came back positive” as well as “abortion being the only sensible option” are made. I don’t think for a minute that the decision would be so cut and dry if ever that choice had to be made for real. But maybe it would be, I’m not judging either way.

What is there to judge about people making decisions about what is best for them based on their own personal situation, needs and beliefs? I dream of living in a society that is able to do just that. Because the more capable we are of pursuing our own happiness free from guilt and shame the sooner we’ll stop caring about the choices that others make that are different to our own.

It is the allowance of a different point of view that I am arguing for. When those hypothetical’s come up; I can voice an opinion that for me the experience of having a special needs child may be one I see as difficult and unwanted, but I can also offer an acknowledgement that this wouldn’t be true for every family.

The truth is also that some families are thriving and have found it to be the greatest blessing of their lives. Why not tell those stories with our family and friends in front of our children as well?

It is the blanket belief that we hold as a society hold that “special needs children are always less desirable than children without special needs” that I am rallying against.  For some people the statement may be true, but equally for others it won’t be. So let us only declare which statements are true for us and let others decide for themselves.

Let us create a space where parents with special needs children can celebrate all that their children have enriched their lives with without us projecting our hypothetical fears upon them.

The reason we find it so difficult to muster hope and optimism for others is because we are searching for solutions to what for us is a hypothetical problem. We cannot possibly predict how others are going to rise to challenges or the amount of help and support that becomes available to them until we witness them in the situation.

We can never know the wonders or challenges that lay ahead in the future, just as we cannot know what drives the decisions of others and nor do we have to.

But to allow for a broad spectrum of difference in those decisions, and to offer people real freedom to make decisions that are different to my own which are free from my projections…well that’s a world that I’d like to welcome baby Gammy into.

Leanne xx

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Uncategorized

10 Awesome Dating Tips We Can Take Away From The Bachelor

I love watching the television show The Bachelor.

I’ve realised that for me it is not too dissimilar to how my partner watches football. I have my favourites that I cheer for; I scream at the television when there’s been foul play and I am left disappointed when attempts to score are thwarted.

And it is as an armchair player at home that I offer my words of wisdom to all of the players. The following are the things that I like to shout at the telly and the real world tips we can take away for dating without the cameras.

1. You’re on a TV Show!

Real World Take Away: Context matters

If you are drinking in a bar when you meet a guy don’t be surprised if he doesn’t notice the full complexity of your personality. Don’t be surprised if he doesn’t get how smart and competent you are at work, or how caring and thoughtful you are with your family and friends.

You are in a crowded space, you are drinking, and it’s loud. He is most probably not going to look past how attractive you are to look at to, how much fun you are having and how warm and flirty you are. Not because he is a player, but because it is logistically hard to do otherwise.

Enjoy it for what it is, fun. You don’t need to push against your context by resenting the shallowness of it.

 2. Don’t worry about the other girls!

Real World Take Away: Be Present

He may be dating other women, flirt with another girl at the party after he just met you or have other girls checking him out in a bar; but when he is with you he is with you.

When you are talking with him give him your full and absolute attention. Let go of worrying about anyone else and when he is front of you be in the moment with him. Enjoy your conversation, your interaction and your spark if there is one.

Don’t get caught up by his physical absence, he could be thinking of you when he is on his next date for all you know. So save yourself the energy and don’t concern yourself with it.

Worrying about other girls early on sends our self-esteem the message that he’s the more valuable person in this interaction. Remind yourself of just how much of a catch you are.

3. He gave you a rose for a reason!

Real World Take Away: Stop looking for more signs that he’s into you after he just gave you a sign.

If he tells you that he likes you; that he enjoys your company and he’s looking forward to getting to know you better then believe him. Chill out, relax and trust that it will unfold organically.

And if it doesn’t then he’s not the one for you, so you will be free to move on.

4. Make friends with the other girls!

Real World Take Away: Put your eggs in more than one basket.

New relationships are exciting, whether they are romantic or not. Developing other new relationships whilst you are dating is a great way to mitigate your emotional risk.

This could be a simple as saying good morning to strangers on your way to work, flirting with your local barista, or following through on a planned catch up with someone you clicked with at a party. Create interactions that put a spring in your step.

Don’t let a text message from your new love interest be the biggest highlight of your day. Let it be one of many that make you feel giggly inside.

5. That’s not his mansion or his boat!

Real World Take Away: The life you are currently living is going to look similar to the life that you would live together.

When we are first dating it is so easy to get caught up in all of the exciting and superfluous stuff around our new beau.

We all love to fantasise and that’s great. But if he doesn’t offer you a rose, then don’t morn the loss of this fantastic and glamorous life that you dreamt you could have had together.

He’s just a guy made from the same flesh and blood as you, you would have had similar frustrations with your new Bachelor as you have experienced with all of your ex’s.

The level of glamour and adventure that you live in your own life is totally up to you.

6. Keep your Crazy in a Bottle!

Real World Take Away: Not because you don’t wish to scare him off. I say this to mean if your insecurities are popping up; then be open and let him know rather than unleash upon him out of context.

Give him something to work with; if you are feeling jealous then let him know about it. He may be empathic and supportive or he may not be, but at least you’ve given your relationship the opportunity to see how you navigate these issues together.

If he was tired and frustrated from work for instance, wouldn’t you prefer him to be open with you about it then take it out on you in a confusing context?

7. Be Yourself!

Real World Take Away: You are only one good date away from never dating again.

Dating is a fantastic opportunity to get to know lots of new people who will help you to define what it is you are looking for in a mate as well as your life. Being yourself is going to enrich this process, being what you think your new mate is looking for is only going to take you further from where you want to be.

The best way to be yourself is to be in the moment. As best you can try blocking out your fears and expectations of the future, and your regrets and hurts from the past.

8. He’s not your boyfriend!

Real World Take Away: Respect the men you are dating as people who are on their own journey that has happened to intersect with yours.

Things that you both thought were absolutes in life may now change and shift because of the new information that you have brought to each other. All you need to worry about is right now is, are you enjoying his company?

Dating is nothing more than a ‘toe dip’ of a relationship. By the time you both decide to dive in headfirst your dynamic is going to be very different. So relax and try not to keep a scorecard or a checklist early on. Try not to judge him on paper or from what he or anyone else tells you about him.

Let it develop naturally over a period of time that is reasonable to you, what’s the rush?

9. It’s not his loss! It’s your gain!

Real World Take Away: You were really keen on him but he didn’t give you a rose. It’s not because you’re a lousy prospect, it is because he has seen something about your interaction that you’ve ignored.

He get’s that there is a better match for him elsewhere, and if it’s true for him then it’s true for you too. He has helped you dodge a bullet by ending it before things got serious.

10. This is not the end!

Real World Take Away: Finding Prince Charming and marrying him doesn’t end with a happily ever after in real life so why do so many of us buy into the fairy-tale?

Whether you make it through every rose ceremony and he proposes or you are booted off the show in the first episode, your romantic journey is still going to continue.

Have you ever hit a big goal or milestone in your life and then everything has been smooth sailing from there on in?

Your relationship with your Bachelor is going to have just as many ups and down and just as much good and bad as your current dating life. Now please don’t let me hear you say “Well at least I’ll have someone to help and support me through those challenges, I won’t be on my own.”

You’re not on your own right now; I’d say there are at least 10 people in your life who truly and deeply care about you. Start paying attention to all that you have rather than all that you don’t.

After all, isn’t this the most precious gift that you can offer to your Bachelor? Who wouldn’t want to be with a girl who is appreciative of all that she has, because once the shine wears off you’ll need to make that same effort to appreciate him too.

Enjoy the journey no matter where you are at because your enjoyment of the final rose ceremony will be fleeting. Finding and falling in love with your own Bachelor is a milestone, it’s not your end game.

Leanne xx

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Acceptance, Forgiveness, Friendships, Relationships, Romantic Relationships, Teaching & Learning

Batshit Crazy: The Acquaintance – My Partner’s Batshit Crazy Ex

I’ve written this piece as part of a series on dealing with loved ones who are struggling with acute hurt, anger and confusion. This particular letter relates to those relationships that we are bound to, through either another person or circumstance. It could also be a work colleague, an ex’s new partner, a close friend’s friend etc.

I believe that a difficult relationship that we have had in our past plays a large role in the life of our other relationships. There are going to be character traits that we don’t like that keep popping up in people that come into our lives. One of the most heated contexts that this happens is where our new partner exhibit traits that are similar to or the same as those of our ex.

When relationships end with one or both parties feeling acute hurt, confusion and anger the Batshit Crazy is never far behind. When this behaviour becomes so volatile that it crosses boundaries that are not easily forgiven then things can quickly spiral out of control. I define Batshit Crazy behaviour as not being limited by fear of consequences and as the sentiment of “I want you to hurt as much as you’ve hurt me, and I will so this at any cost”. (For further explanation regarding this please see my previous post introducing this series.)

When a relationship has broken down and the parties involved are still bound together by circumstance, people or children there is often no opportunity for the couple involved to stand back and get perspective. Under these circumstances it is difficult to change the habits and patterns that they have been bound by for years. With all of those wounds and triggers still present and active, neither has had the time and space to deactivate them. It is my belief that a third party, like a new partner, a friend or family member, or a professional can help bring about that new perspective.

It only takes one side to see it differently and to offer something new to the dynamic for the whole thing to change into one that is respectful, caring and supportive. And if the ex couple can have that kind of relationship with each other, then doesn’t it make sense that when they hit those similar impasses in their next relationship that they’ll be able to navigate their way through more successfully than in the past?

So if I was tied to an acquaintance who I felt was acting Batshit Crazy then this letter would set out the parameters that I’d like to keep all of my communication within. Not because it is the higher road or because it is the most loving way. Not because there is a possibility that the dynamic could shift into becoming more respectful, supportive and caring.

But because this approach offers a release from being at the whim of the Batshit Crazy person; because it empowers and it offers peace and relief to us as their targets.

I would encourage you to write your own letters if this is a dynamic that you are struggling with; I would also suggest that you don’t send them because this approach isn’t about the other. Just write it and feel the relief of looking at it all from a different perspective. Feel the relief of releasing your own hurt, confusion and anger and most of all feel the relief from being able to take control of the situation in terms of how it is making you feel. This is then a relief that you can share with your loved one from the benefit of your new perspective.

Dear My Partner’s Batshit Crazy Ex,

Where do I start? Your behaviour has been Batshit off the wall crazy. You know what I’m talking about; the texts, the late night abusive phone calls, the not showing up when you are meant to, the screaming in front of the kids, the insults, the legal threats, the stalking, the games, and all of the carry on.

Let us start there and finish here with the four phrases of Dr. Hew Len’s ‘Ho’oponopono’. I’m sorry, please forgive me, I thank you and I love you.

I’m not offering this to you as an endorsement of your behaviour or solely out of the hope that it might change it. I am doing this for me. I don’t have the power to change you but I do have the power to determine how I respond to you and to choose how I feel.

I choose to take the responsibility for how I am feeling; this doesn’t mean that I am taking responsibility for you or for the situation or that I’m taking the blame. I no longer care about whose fault it is or who is to blame; that search has held me to this dysfunctional dynamic for too long.

I’m taking back my power and I am going to choose to respond to you rather than react. I am choosing to step back and disengage from what you are presenting to me. I am choosing to focus my attentions on what is really going on with you. I am choosing to feel good about myself and the way I behave when I am in your company or when I hear about your behaviour.

This doesn’t mean that I will never feel angry, hurt, confused or upset with you; it means that I will feel those emotions at my choosing and not at yours. And I am going to do all of this by offering you empathy, love and acknowledgement of our similarities rather than focusing on our differences.

I have been where you are; I have experienced the pain, anger and confusion of a relationship breaking down. Whilst my behaviour manifested itself differently and may have looked dissimilar; the sentiment running underneath was exactly the same. I am choosing to focus on the fact that you are hurt and you want to feel better.

Let me say that again; you are hurt and you want is to feel better…and that doesn’t sound so crazy to me.

Obviously the way you are going about it isn’t super helpful; but I know that you get that and in actual fact you knowing this is probably making it all worse. And you know how I know all this? Because I’ve done plenty of super unhelpful things in my own life, and I’ve also felt trapped by the guilt of it.

Although you and I don’t know all that much about each other I do know that I love and admire your children more than words, and they are 50% of you. I also know that the man that I love and adore once loved and adored you so much that he asked you to share the rest of his life with him.

I forgive you for all of the Batshit Crazy things that you have said and done to me personally; and I hope that you can equally forgive me for when I have reacted and tried to hurt you. I am sorry for this, this is not who I want to know myself as. I know that neither of us has ever woken up and decided to be a horrible person for the day; sometimes things just happen but that doesn’t speak at all to who either of us truly are.

I am thankful for the challenges that you have provided to me; I haven’t always risen to them but I am committed to my personal improvement. You see, I want to live a life where I can rise above a heated or uncomfortable situation and you have provided me with more opportunities to walk-the-walk and talk-the-talk than anyone recently.

I also want you to know that in your ex you are always going to have someone in your life that cares as much about your children as you do. He is someone who is always going to be there for you and care about you as their mother. He may be your ‘Ex’ but he will always be you ‘Current Co-Parent’ and this is an important relationship that I wish to support.

I also wish to acknowledge that throughout this whole process your kids have come out the other side just fine. Actually they are better than fine; they are happy, and loved, and they are spectacular people…and that didn’t happen without you.

Through the act of writing this letter to you I feel so much better and in control. It is almost an instant change I feel when I hold to a vision of you that aligns with the vision that I have for myself.

It feels so good in fact that from this point on no matter what you do or what you say I am going to refuse to stray from it. That vision is; you as a person are worth loving, you are worth caring about and you are always doing your best. We have so much more in common then we have in differences, it feels really good to me when I focus upon that.

Lots of love and appreciation from a Fellow Batshit Crazy Ex

xoxo

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Acceptance, Challenging Beliefs, Forgiveness, Friendships, Relationships, Teaching & Learning

My Batshit Crazy Series

So what makes Batshit Crazy different from normal crazy or just plain old hurt?

By my definition, Batshit Crazy happens when there is an acute mixture of hurt, confusion and fear. It happens when we are no longer able to decipher any reason or logic from a situation; and when we cease to care about who or what around us this affects.

When we are totally overwhelmed by; and fearful of; the pain of our emotions and we’ll stop at nothing to make the pain go away. To an outsider it appears as erratic, unpredictable, and illogical behaviour and as though no lines are too sacred to cross.

I feel it is important to remember that in its essence this is a very human experience, we’ve all done and said things that we weren’t proud of. How far we took it and how we went about it may have looked different from total Batshit Crazy, but we’ve all felt intense pain and wished for it to stop.

While it is very easy to see the Batshit Crazy person as an ‘other’ I wish to propose this question,

“Is it possible to have a Batshit Crazy person in our lives without us having contributed in our own Batshit Crazy way?”

My answer to that question is no, but I’d love to hear what you think either in the comments below or through the LOVING BUSINESS Facebook Page.

It is my belief that you can’t play tennis on your own. Unknowingly we hit the ball back over the net ever time we too are left hurt and confused by their behaviour. Every time we defensively interpret their behaviour as Batshit Crazy rather than as a sad call for help, we become players on their stage.

Don’t get me wrong I have no judgement here. It is incredibly hard not to react to Batshit Crazy behaviour; I know I’ve done my share of lashing out in response and I will probably continue to do so in the future. It is really hard not to react defensively to behaviour that by design pushes our buttons.

Looking beyond what is right in front of us is the biggest challenge of any relationship, nay, of life. Imagine the lives we could inspire if we were successful at loving people for who we knew them to be deep down? Imagine if we did that no matter how cruel and unpredictable their behaviours were? Imagine what our world would look like if we managed to pull that one off?

At times we can interpret Batshit Crazy behaviour as funny and fascinating, there are whole websites dedicated to posting crazy text messages that people have sent. But it can also be violent, heartbreaking and relentless. The underlining issues are the same; they are not coping.

That woman on the train that we saw all over the news; the one who vomited out the racist tirade is a perfect example of Batshit Crazy. Imagine how difficult it would have been in that moment to have offered her compassion, understanding and love?

I honestly don’t think I would have. And not because I don’t think she deserves it or because I don’t believe in the power of a loving approach; but because I don’t think that the thought would have even occurred to me. I would imagine that instinctively all of my concern would have been directed towards her victim.

It has been my intention in writing this series to do just that; to put the thought into my head so in those high stress, high conflict scenario’s there is a small chance that I could step back and ask myself the question,

“What is really going on here? Are they crying out for help?”

In the series I have written 3 letters which cover the perspectives of;

The sentiments running through these letters can be universally applied to other relationships that we have, e.g. a Parent, a Sibling, an In-Law, a Partner, a Work Colleague, a Boss, a Friend, or a stranger on a train. I also wish to be clear that although these Batshit Crazy Letter’s are addressed to woman, I strongly believe that Batshit Crazy behaviour is in no way limited to the female gender.

I’ve also written these articles because I wanted to bring some empathy and compassion to the situation. Now before you go thinking that I’m pronouncing myself as a saint who takes the higher road I want to be clear that my motivations are much more aligned to my own self-interests.

I’ve found that when I’ve looked beyond what is being presented to me and I’ve tried to focus on the real person and the real issue; that it has brought me much more of what I want. I want peace in my relationships and in those stressful situations.

It is also an approach which helps me align with my own higher sense of self. I say I want to experience myself as a compassionate and caring person; well what better context to give that a go in then a Batshit Crazy one?

My goal is to interact within the parameters of this sentiment:

“I am hearing what you are saying and it makes sense to me that you are feeling this way. I know that there is a lot going on that I’m not seeing too. I’m here to help you understand that what ever it is, you are more than it.

In the meantime I’m going to chill out a bit from being so defensive. I’m going to look past what you are presenting to focus upon what I know to be true about you.

I know that just like me; all you want is to feel loved, safe and heard. No matter what you do or say, you are valuable and I know that you are doing your best, just like me. You are, just as the day you were born, a magnificent being.

I want you to know that I feel blessed to have you in my life; because it is the uncomfortable things about you that are helping both of us to grow.”

Dear Batshit Crazy Person

Like I said I don’t always get it right and I never will, but the good news is that even when I let my hurt and confused loved one down; the interaction causes both of us to desire more peace and harmony in our relationships.

‘Letting them down’ also reminds me that they don’t need me to ‘help’ them; they are magnificent beings that are more than capable of seeking out the solutions for themselves.

So who’s with me? Who’s up for the challenge of redefining our own role in the Batshit Crazy dynamic?

Leanne xx

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Friendships, Romantic Relationships, Single Life

Why My Friends Wouldn’t Set Me Up and How I Rebranded Myself

Please forgive the sleazy pic above, you’ll understand why it’s there in a minute. But for now I want to tell you about the most charming man that I met last night at a local business owners meeting.

He was about 6’4, fit, handsome and had a nice sense of style. He was articulate, successful at his job, engaging and energetic. But the real charm came from his warmth, openness, honesty, intelligence and humour. You could just tell that he came from a really lovely family and would have lovely friends. My instincts even said ‘very healthy relationship with his mother’, which is a huge tick in my book.

I didn’t ask if he was single but let me tell you he is exactly the type of guy I’d want to introduce to my single friends.

And here’s where it got interesting. I started to pour through a list of my single girlfriends and I couldn’t find a match. I wrote all of my friends off as either being too picky, too closed off or too much of game players.

These are my friends! These are people who I love and adore and who I know the full complexity of. These are people who I know to be loyal, caring, smart, open, funny, and beautiful in the context of our friendship.

But in the context of the romantic relationships that I’ve seen them all in recently, I only know them to be uncommitted, fussy, critical, closed off, unreliable, protective, pessimistic or just not ready for anything serious.

Am I actually saying that I think this charming stranger that I met last night is too good for my friends? Um, yes I guess I kind of am.

I knew that they’d either mess him around or write him off as being too nice of a guy. The idea of setting them up felt like giving them the keys to a brand new Ferrari whilst knowing that they are rubbish drivers.

This got me to thinking about my own life as a single in her 30’s. Is this how my friends saw me? Would they not recommend me to a charming stranger? I asked them and they said yes. Ouch!

For most of my single years I wasn’t ready to commit to a grown up relationship again, even though at times I pretended that I was; the truth be told I was just really scared. So I either cut myself off from dating altogether or I ‘dated’ the types of guys who weren’t interested in a commitment either. But the kicker was…I then felt let down, hurt and upset by their lack of commitment.

That last bit is the topic for a whole other blog; but my point is the type of partner that my friends saw me being wasn’t indicative of who I knew I really was. I presented as a game playing commitment-phobe because they were the parameters that my relationships were bound by. To offer anything other within these relationships would seem either ridiculous or desperate to the other party involved.

Actually I did just that one evening. I met a nice young fella and we attempted to have one night of passion but due to some logistical issues (we couldn’t find a spot to do ‘it’) it didn’t happen; so we rescheduled to ‘catch up’ the next night.

It had been AGES since I had participated in anything slightly romantic so I lovingly prepared a candle lit dinner for us both, soft music and all.

Of course I knew that it was going to make for a really awkward prelude to some even more awkward sex, but I thought it would be a) funny and b) nice.

It was soooo ridiculous! We had dinner for goodness sake! We had zero in common and zero interest in talking to each other. After dinner I segued with, and I kid you not,

“So…..you want to see my room?”

We’ve since become good mates and we still laugh about it whenever I see him. I do a whole routine at parties where I re-enact our dinner scene that is hilarious! But I digress.

Just prior to meeting my current partner, and not even knowing that I did it, I rebranded myself. When I decided that it was time to get back into the game I cut off contact with (well most of) the pseudo-relationships that I was involved in. And more importantly I stopped talking to my friends about either my lack of a love life or my messed up, disappointing, drama filled ‘relationships’.

When my single girlfriends and I got together, actually when I caught up with any of my friends the topic of conversation would invariably re-enact that scene from the Bridget Jones movie,

“So how’s your love life?”

One day rather than regale with stories from my brief and dysfunctional dalliances or declare that I had nothing going on; instead offered something a little more like this,

“I’m not seeing anyone right now, I’ve ceased contact with the Fireman and the General (there were always code names). I’m ready to get back into a loving relationship; it’s time. I’m looking forward to offering all that I have learnt to someone really special, I’m ready for a really spectacular relationship.”

I would then go on about the specifics of what I had learnt and about what I intended to do differently. I never spoke about what I expected from my future mate, only about what I was excited to offer. Without knowing it I was rebranding myself as a person who knew how to be in a spectacular relationship.

It had never occurred to me until now just how much the rebranding brought to me. Of course there were a few other things at play but in essence, I had simply asked for what I wanted and started behaving in way that aligned with that request.

From that point on I actually had fantastic men seemingly coming out of the woodwork, and they were all introductions from friends. The interesting point is that these men were not actually in the woodwork, I was. They were there all along; I just wasn’t able to see their value because I wasn’t letting it in.

I met the man I now share my life with through friends at a party. Where this rebranding idea gets really interesting is with regards to what his mates had to say about me.

I knew some of his friends from high school; I couldn’t recall a single conversation that was longer than hello and goodbye but as it is when growing up in a small town we all knew of each other. When my now beloved mentioned to his mates at the as party that he was sweet on me and wished to get to know me better, his best mate said

“Mate, I wouldn’t even bother. She’s massively uptight and a bit of a snob.”

That was an impression that was garnered over 20 years ago!

Upon reflection I’ve learnt two massive things;

1. How you treat people matters in ways that we can never be aware of. The type of person that we are in all of our relationships is important.

Not because our friends will introduce us to people, although that is a nice perk. But because if our nearest and dearest don’t think we deserve someone wonderful, why would we?

The aspects of ourselves that we get to live everyday are the aspects that we come to define ourselves by.

2. Even when we live a life that is completely contradictory to the one that we know is our truth; as long as we believe ourselves to be more, love will always find a way.

How is the life that you are living lining up with your own personal truth?

Leanne xx

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