Sunday, May 6, 2012

Days Four and Five: Being Happy, as Me

I missed the chance yesterday (and practically today, Saturday) to do days four and five of my month of self-re-discovery, so here they are, two of them now! If you're curious what this is all about, it derives from this post.
Start making your own happiness a priority. – Your needs matter. If you don’t value yourself, look out for yourself, and stick up for yourself, you’re sabotaging yourself. Remember, it IS possible to take care of your own needs while simultaneously caring for those around you. And once your needs are met, you will likely be far more capable of helping those who need you most.
I spent most of Shabbos finishing up Rachel Dratch's "Girl Walks Into a Bar" -- blog post forthcoming -- and starting and finishing a book called "Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help YouFind -- and Keep -- Love." Written by a few stellar academically minded yidden, the book's subject matter is ...
We rely on science to tell us everything from what to eat to when and how long to exercise, but what about relationships? Is there a scientific explanation for why some people seem to navigate relationships effortlessly, while others struggle? According to psychiatrist and neuroscientist Dr. Amir Levine and Rachel Heller, the answer is a resounding "yes." In Attached, Levine and Heller reveal how an understanding of adult attachment-the most advanced relationship science in existence today-can help us find and sustain love. Pioneered by psychologist John Bowlby in the 1950s, the field of attachment posits that each of us behaves in relationships in one of three distinct ways: anxious, avoidant, secure. 
So, what did I get out of this book? (Note: I don't usually read self-help books because I don't buy a lot of it. But this book? Holy moses.) My attachment style is anxious. It not only describes me in romantic relationships, but I seem to have realized that it is my style in just about every relationship I have. A fear of loss, a fear of not being loved, and of rejection ... among other things. Hello me! And as for where the marriage went wrong, well, I think that my former spouse was of the "avoidant" style. And avoidant-anxious doesn't match. I'm out to find myself a secure fella.

So what does that have to do with the Day 4's topic of making my own happiness a priority? A lot. At least, I think so. Being successful in a relationship has a lot to do with taking ownership for your own emotions and know how you react, what makes you happy, what makes you sad. When I was married, I learned in a very abrupt way what I need, what I want, and what happiness looks like to me. But what I didn't learn is that it's okay for me to be me, to need certain things. In line with putting my own happiness first, I'm reevaluating what I need and want out of a potential spouse. And for some reason, being able to do that just makes me burst with happiness.
Start being yourself, genuinely and proudly. – Trying to be anyone else is a waste of the person you are. Be yourself. Embrace that individual inside you that has ideas, strengths and beauty like no one else. Be the person you know yourself to be – the best version of you – on your terms. Above all, be true to YOU, and if you cannot put your heart in it, take yourself out of it.
This sort of goes back to what I've been experiencing as I figure out how to be more comfortable in the skin that was once my own. I am absolutely ridiculous. I'm strong-willed, highly opinionated, and I can be overwhelming on first contact. I'm passionate about being an observant Jewish woman, and I'm passionate about the food I cook and what I put into my body. I get really into television shows, I dream of being a 1950s housewife (but liberated, you know), I love Kurt Vonnegut and Philip Roth. I have weird obsessions with the organization of my kitchen and my spices, and I put my clothes in order in my closet by color. I have insane allergies and tend to have little patience for the heat and sweating, unless I'm working out. I have very little will power, I eat a pint of gelato in one sitting more often than I care to admit. Oh, and I speak to myself in Hebrew just about every second that I am alone. I'd love to move to Israel, but, let's be honest, I'm a child of seasons, and I need winter. I have a large collection of Judaica books and I'm obsessed with getting more (when I can afford it). I'm horrible with finances, I love my little brother more than anyone else on the planet, and I'd do anything for him. I love penguins and meekats, and I'm obsessed with zoos and drive-in movie theaters. I have a thing for classic cars, and I hate pampering myself (I've never had a manicure or pedicure).

That's me, myself, and I. I don't think I've ever had a problem being myself, except for those 16 months of marriage strangeness. Now that I know my attachment type, I can definitely see why I was who I was during those months.