Looking at the bright side

The view from our apartment

I wrote this in early October about two months after moving to Miami

I have always considered myself a generally positive person. What I have discovered through therapy, many life changes, and long conversations with my husband, is that in trying to always look at the bright side, I sometimes overlook my very real emotions if they don’t fit into my “positive outlook.” Having moved to Miami about a month ago, I haven’t made many friends yet. Thankfully Mo’s awesome brother and sister-in-law live down the street from us, which has made the transition much easier. I still miss all of my amazing friends all over the world. I have been more than blessed with beautiful female friendships in all stages of my life, with women who are smart and supportive, creative and compassionate. As I spend more time here, mostly at home with my baby who does not like to sit in the car or the stroller, I am also spending a lot of time with myself. Dun dun dun… As I mentioned in an earlier post, this has led to me reading way too many articles on the internet, but it has also led to some wonderful insights and activities. I have been cooking with true passion for the first time since we left Israel last March. I have been writing. I have also been feeling my feelings, and talking about them with my husband. This last thing may sound like a really big deal or not such a big deal, depending on your personal emotional style, but for me it is a really big deal.

It came to my attention about a year ago that I had been avoiding being present with my true feelings for most of my life. In some amazing women’s group therapy sessions with friends in Jerusalem I was able to uncover the underlying belief that was getting in the way. I discovered that I was afraid that if I felt my feelings as they arose, I would be overcome, incapacitated, and therefore unable to do all the things I needed to do to take care of myself and everyone else. Then someone else would have to care for me, and probably resent me and not love me as much. Whoa! Once I said it out loud I realized it was preposterous, and I felt incredibly sad that I had been unconsciously operating under such a belief. It turns out that the truth is the exact opposite. As I experience my true feelings in the presence of my loved ones I arouse compassion in them. When my husband is acting grumpy, I get frustrated with my husband. When he comes to me and says, “I’m so frustrated right now!” I feel empathy and understanding, and offer him a hug instead of resentment. In a trusting relationship this vulnerability and support hopefully goes both ways. I am not a therapist so I don’t have much advice about how anyone else should experience life or fix their relationships. I do know that I am on a mission to get real with myself and have the best, most satisfying family life possible. This brings me back to looking at the bright side.

tropical Ella lounging by the pool
tropical Ella lounging by the pool

Since we arrived here I have oscillated back and forth between feeling very happy and glad to be here, and honestly, hating it. I really like that we have a big, clean apartment. I really don’t like that many of our neighbors are very bored and therefore very nosy. I really like that we have a pool here! I really don’t like that we live on a busy street amidst strip malls. I really like that there is a walking path right across the street that circles a golf course. I really don’t like that my baby won’t sit in the stroller and if I want to go for a walk I have to put her in the baby carrier when it is over 90 degrees and humid. I really like that people here tend to be friendly. I really don’t like that people here tend to be pretty shallow and materialistic. Okay, you get the idea. Last night I was having a low moment and I said to Mo that I hate it here. He reminded me of that three times today. When I said how happy I was at the pool with the kids, watching the palm trees blow in the tropical breeze. When I made homemade pita bread and decided that I’m awesome. When I looked at my living room empty of furniture and decided that I will use the empty space to host baby play groups and cooking classes.

Mo and Ben swimming on the day we arrived
Mo and Ben swimming on the day we arrived

The truth of the love/hate, positive/negative internal debate, is obvious. Of course both are real and true. I’m slowly learning that if I allow room for the sad, difficult feelings, it opens up twice as much room for the brighter, more positive feelings. It’s when I deny that anything is ever bad or hard that everything ends up feeling a little cloudy.

For now, I’m working on experiencing whatever emotions come up, and enjoying even the lonely times, because once it gets busier I will look back on these sweet quiet days with my delicious little girl and wish for more of the same.


6 thoughts on “Looking at the bright side

  1. It is so hard to feel your feelings. I’m terrible at it and I probably could use some therapy also! LOL. I’m glad it’s not just me. I also think Miami sucks and you should come back here, because Kate wants Laila and Ella to be friends. 🙂

  2. OKay, I am staying up way past my bedtime and am loving reading your blog. I wonder if it’s possible for me to be as honest with myself as you seem to have discovered how to do. I feel like I have this emotional block and can’t seem to move past it. Sounds like you had a wonderful group of friends.

    1. Hi Miriam! Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to comment. I really appreciate your thoughts. It is sometimes painful to be honest with myself, and we all have things that are hard for us to see. I try to make the commitment to be open to seeing the truth about myself, even if I don’t like what I find. Then the hard part is not to judge myself too harshly, and the even harder part is trying to change! There are always things we hide, even from ourselves, but I think just the willingness is the beginning of the journey.

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