Active Reflection

Well now, this is something I don’t feel too often…

I’m usually full of stories and have plenty to say about plenty of things. Or I’m just brimming with emotion and have this unquenchable desire to express it.

But today?

I’ve got nothing.

Bone dry.

Zee row.

You can totally click out of this blog, I wouldn’t blame you… and it’s not like I’ll know. And even if I did, I don’t know where you live…

Still here?

Wow, you’re relatively persistent. But I just haven’t had a meaningful experience lately to write about. And I’m certainly not going to make something up.

*sigh*

Oh yeah, it’s just a venerable beehive of activity around here.

It reminds me of a time when I was at a party. At some point, everyone was talking with one another except for me. I was literally standing in the middle of the room, witnessing each person interact, and I thought to myself ‘it’s cool. I really have nothing to say.” So I just stood there for about five minutes, watching and feeling like everything was fine.

Then, I decided to join a crowd.

So when will I decided to engage after having nothing to say? I guess if you keep your eyes on this column long enough, I’m bound to say something. I can’t just not write… I mean I could but that’s more like a non-column… that’s not inspiring and not very clever.

Alright if you’re still reading then clearly you identify with what I’m saying. Let’s see if we can’t get to the bottom of what is going on inside to make us think we have nothing to say.

You first:

 

 

 

 

 

Really? No ideas?

I feel like I’m talking to a wall, here!

Oh, I have an idea, why don’t I go first and then you can think about it and then share, how about that?

Good, I’m glad you agree.

Alright, I’m at the party. And there are four groups surrounding me. Four groups of about four to five people each. And I’m standing in the middle of all four. Let me connect my ‘thought-process vocalizer’…

“wow, there are like no cute girls at this party. That one has a killer tattoo, wow, she looks like she’s hardcore. I wonder what it takes for someone to become hardcore? Are they beaten by their parents or are they just so angry at the world? I bet she has an interesting story but she’s talking with that guy…”

Well, the first thing I notice is my lack of desire to interact for, let’s use the term shallow reasons. I consider myself an attractive man and I like to keep the company of attractive women if I can. And once I acknowledge that, I can start noticing details. The girl who I was referring to had a huge dragon tattoo on her arm. And I can see my curiosity building to the point of wanting to engage but not feeling confident enough to approach. But as I remember, I did end up speaking to her and asking about her tattoo. She said “it’s a long story” and I said “well, I don’t have plans to leave just yet”. But she was not in the giving mood and I did not get to hear the story so it was a really anticlimactic moment for me.

What I can take away from this is that it takes a while for me to get comfortable in certain circumstances, like a party before I have enough of ‘myself’ to approach someone and interact. Which means that it wasn’t boredom that I was feeling, it was a less full me I was feeling.

Wow, I think I hit something.

Boredom is the feeling I get when I am uncertain of whom I am and it leads to indecision and stagnation. When I’m bored, I literally feel like I have nothing to do. But there is always something to do, including reflection and analysis. Once I reflect and analyze my situation, I make a choice to act in a certain way.

So, I’m not “bored with nothing to do”, I’m “not feeling so certain about who I am and would like some time to reflect and remember”. Oh wow. That feels great. I have spent so much time thinking “wow, I’m bored” to myself, this is such a complete change of mind.

And so much more productive, again I much prefer an active, romantic attitude to a passive, uninspiring one.

That is so cool of you. You really helped me with that piece. I’m so grateful that you listen well, not too many people can do it.

Ok, your turn. So tell me:  why do you think you have nothing to say?

Romantic Motivation

*YAAAWWWWNN*

Oh, man, I am exhausted. I partied hard last night… as it should be. Saturday night is the night to be alive and what a time I had.

And it was an all male night, too. My better looking other was busy doing her thing so I decided to treat myself to a night of somewhat endless fun with the guys. And what fun it was.

Wow, it’s only 10am and I need at LEAST two more hours sleep before I can even think of getting out of bed and enjoying some breakfast…. And I would have no problem sinking back to sleep if only she would stop making so much noise. What’s she doing in the kitchen anyway, baking? Can’t she just tip toe or NOT move plates around.

Uuhh, and I am so dehydrated… ok, I’m going to make a trip to the washroom and then ask her to cease and desist.

“Hey, um, any chance you can not do that now?”

“Good morning. Um, I’m making my dish for brunch.”

Oh. No.

“Brunch?”

“Yeah.

“With your parents?”

“Yes.”

“At what time?”

“11:30… are you going to shower?”

You have GOT to be kidding. I was just out partying late and now she expects me to have brunch? With her family?

I completely forgot.

Well, I have little choice: there’s no way I can go in this condition. I am completely wiped out and will not be a good conversationalist.

Besides, I’m really not the biggest fan of being around her parents. They mean well but they don’t really care about what’s happening in my life. What do I need to be there for anyway?

Oh, I can already hear her answer:

‘Because it’s important to me.’

Important. How important can brunch be? I know if she had to cancel on me I would be totally fine. I enjoy spending time with my parents because they’re mine. She’d be under no obligation to be there if she was exhausted. Besides, I would want her to rest. I would want her to know that her recovery was more important than her pretending to enjoy herself. Because heaven knows I’ll be pretending to enjoy myself. I just want to curl up back in bed and shut the world off.

*Huff* oh, I know what I’m in for: complete and utter disappointment. And we’ll have to have a talk and she’ll feel-

-ok, ok, I’ll feel guilty AND lousy for not keeping my word and then try to make it up to her somehow. No, it’s my bed and I have to lie in it… oh, that was a torturesome non-pun.

Fine I’ll go get showered but there’s no way I’m going to be Mr. Chatty-chat- wow, okay, I’m totally getting wound up in my own frustration. That’s really common when I’m tired.

I have to focus – First thing’s first: what is my motivation for going to the brunch?

Oh, I really don’t have the energy for this, I wish she would just-

-NO, that’s not going to help anyone. My motivation is to make her happy. Oh yeah, real noble and stuff but you can’t make anyone happy. And it’s not enough to get me to move, so try again.

This is one of those “compromise” times, isn’t it? People say that all the time “relationships are ALL about compromise”. So now it’s my turn to do that. But I have to say, I hate that idea. Compromising feels like giving up something I want for something she wants. It’s too submissive and way too negative. I need some proactive motivation to get me going.

When I have something planned for us, it’s because I want her to be a part of my life, more so that she already is. And it’s important to me that I feel she wants to be a part of my life. This is her wanting me to be a part of her life. And I want to be a part of her life, more so than I am now.

I want to go to brunch because of what it represents: Us. Our commitment to one another. Yeah, that beats compromise any day. I prefer making an active choice about what I want than following a passive unromantic rule. And I’ve been tired before, it doesn’t mean I can’t nap later on.

“Is it alright if I shower after I kiss you good morning?”

“Of course. I was kind of worried that you were going to cancel on me… you were home late last night.”

“I’m tired, yeah. But I know how important this is to you. And I decided to make the right choice.”

“So did I. You’re wonderful.”

Maternal Influences

Well, I am certainly beaming today. I’m walking along at a brisk pace, breathing deeply and I have a song in my head that just keeps me moving along. Nothing particularly positive has happened… in fact, something was recently taken away from me.

Oh, not stolen. But a promise that was made to me was revoked. And it sucked. But it’s a beautiful day and the people around me are doing their thing and I have chosen to enjoy myself despite the recent retraction. And I was to stay focused on that.

Choosing to feel good in the face of minor adversity.

*BREATHE* Ah! It’s nice to feel this light and carefree.

And I can really see myself going down that other path I could have chose.

Wow… I’m pretty lucky to be able to do that…. chose to feel good, I mean.  And it didn’t happen overnight; it’s something I routinely practice. And thinking about it gets me reminiscing to how I developed this skill in the first place…

Luckily, I’m a child of divorce. I say luckily because after my parents split, one of them was left with a hole. And she knew she had no choice but to plug it up, no matter how long it took. So she began visiting different places to get in touch with the person she didn’t really know  -herself. After all, who was ‘discovering themselves’ back in the day? People were either experimenting with drugs or getting their adult life in order and her priorities were family and children.

No real “me” time.

One of the places she happened upon was the OPTION institute, in Massachusetts. At the entrance, the sign reads “a place for miracles”. And a miracle was what she was looking for.

After a week or so, she returned to us, her children (myself and two younger brothers) and let us in on the newfound philosophy of this place. They taught people not only how to cope with their emotions but how to actually understand where their emotions were coming from, helping people understand why they felt they way they did about certain experiences.

This was completely new and incomprehensible to me. I thought “people are mean, I get sad”. I never dreamed that there was actually an entire step in that process that is both hugely empowering and completely neglected by most of the population.

“Mean people” is the stimulus. “Becoming sad” is the response. So what is that missing step? If I get hit in the arm with a ball, I will develop a bruise, right? Ah, but it depends on the speed and type of ball. So what are the factors that I never…. Factored in?

Beliefs.

I believe people should not be mean to me because I interpret their actions as a direct result of my behavior. So if they’re mean, it’s my fault. And I feel lousy for making someone be mean. And so I become sad.

The beauty of the new philosophy is that I could identify the beliefs behind the emotions. And the best part – beliefs are NOT written in stone; they’re completely flexible and will do what I tell them to do. So I can say “sometimes people have a tough day and when I say something that is particularly on their minds and they snap, it’s because they’re thinking about it, whether I say it or not. If they snap, they’re just letting me know that they’re not in a personable space at that moment and I can just walk away. Feeling the same way I felt before their outburst.”

That is monstrous and so much better than feeling responsible for other people’s feelings. The realization was life changing and ultimately lead me to my now chosen profession in psychology.

Had it not been for my mother, I would still be reacting to stimulus in unhealthy and unproductive ways.

So here I am, walking down the street and choosing to feel good, simply because I can. But more than feeling good, I feel an enormous amount of gratitude toward my mother, who not only gave me life but changed it in the most inspiring and empowering way possible. Love does not begin to describe what I feel towards her (love being accepting who she is and who she is going to be, remember) and any success that comes my way is my dedication to having her as a parent who not only loved me but taught me how to love.

I am so proud, grateful and lucky to be someone’s kid.

Familiar Expectations

Ah! There is nothing and I mean nothing I prefer more than coming home. After a day of work, I love pulling out the key to my apartment door, turning the lock and crossing that threshold of the rest of the world and me.

Well, not just me; us. It’s great to come home because I don’t live alone. I have never lived alone. I grew up with three brothers and so have always wanted company when I return from the things that I do outside of my home. Now, I live with my one true love and life could not be better. Yeah, I am super content exactly where I am. And now that I’ve crossed that threshold, I am ready to make myself something to eat. Maybe a sandwich? No, I didn’t get the bread I told myself I’d get. That’s fine, I have plenty of food, and the food I have plenty of is cereal. Easy, ready in a snap and as long as I’ve got… let me see… yup, milk then I’m good to go. Let me open the cabinet and reach for a…

Oh.

You’re kidding. Continue reading

Committed Eye

Wow.

Seriously? Wow

I just can’t get over it. A few months ago, there was not much of a difference. But now?

Holy Jeez!

I can’t believe how many beautiful women there are walking around. And more than that: how many are looking at me.

ME! That’s  something I’m not used to… (believe it or not). *Ahem* either way, this might become a problem. I’d better be careful.

Hold up. What am I being careful about? What am I going to do – start hitting on everyone? Start harassing people? I do have self control. In fact, there’s nothing for me to be careful for… only… my eyes can’t stop moving!

Just as soon as one leaves my vision, another one enters. This is ridiculous! And why do you all have to dress so bloody good! Can’t you just cover yourselves up? All this cleavage and midriffs…. What’s a poor boy to do?

And the absolute worst thing about all of this is that it’s all look and don’t touch. Oh yeah, it’s perfectly legal to temp us guys, who walk around pumped full of testosterone and we can try to do something about it. But for those of us who can’t do something about it… we just get to suffer.

Ok, well, it’s not that I can’t… I have a mouth and we speak the same language. It’s that I won’t because… well, because I’m with someone.

I guess that’s what makes this so frustrating. It’s hunting season and I’m a vegetarian.

How am I supposed to cope with the fact that I’m not sleeping with the millions, literally upon millions of beautiful women?

Ok, maybe that’s not the whole story.

I’m with someone now. But how do I know that the person I’m supposed to be with isn’t out there? Baring her midriff?

If we were in one of those Arabic countries where women were forced to cover themselves from head to toe – there wouldn’t be a problem. They’ve eliminated temptation.

Ah, so that’s it – I’m struggling with the temptation of someone else.

And it’s absolutely everywhere.

Good, I’ve narrowed down the issue past “I want to sleep with everyone” to an actual feeling. So how do I reconcile with this without losing?

I’m in a committed relationship. It’s mostly pleasant and the days it’s not, I figure things out and make it pleasant. On that note… what exactly am I being tempted by? Is it looks? A little. Is it our good friend diversity? Yes, but even more than both of those – it’s something that I can’t quite have but something my mind always has running around:

Fantasy.

As immature as it sounds, there’s very little escape from the movies I play in my head. And it takes a lot of concentration to keep focused on my reality when I’m bombarded with so much incredible stimulus. And fantasy is how progress is made, right? I think of something I want, I get my act together and get it and then I’m on to the next thing; because stagnation is death for me.

Is this how I want to live my relationship – always looking for the next thing? How long will this last? I could meet 20 or 30 girls… they will all be relatively similar. Yes, their taste in music and politics and art will change but they will all be human’s with desires, dreams and personalities. I’m not saying all girls are the same, but we’re all people, right? It’s more than that: My partner and I share so much in common and I like that. That’s really important to me. I once read that similarity is the second highest factor when it comes to success in relationships (the first is spatial distance; meaning the less distance between us the better).

So does it come down to “what do I want”?

If so, well, I have what I want.

Wow. That’s really powerful to say out loud.

Realizing that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be with exactly the person I’m supposed to be with is a very comforting thought. But how do I hold onto this thought in order to dissuade my temptations?

What would happen if I chose to act on one of my ludicrous impulses? No doubt, I would lose her. That is a distressing thought. Sure, the fantasy kicks in with the new girl being cool and all but in reality, it took me a while to find my partner and I really don’t want to let her go. So what I’d like to do is feel really grateful for her in my life. Yeah, I like that. That way, when I look at other girls, they can be a reminder to me of how lucky I am to have scored such a great girl. That way, I’m not resentful of all the stimulus that comes across my path and I stay focused on her.

Yeah! Alright, ladies, bring on the bikinis!

Secure Exchange

*sigh*

This is weird. I mean, usually I am so revved up. But lately…

I know EXACTLY what’s going to happen now:

  1. I start kissing her.
  2. She starts kissing back.
  3. I reach for her shirt
  4. I reach for my shirt
  5. I start to unbutton her pants…

Wow, it’s starting to feel like a laundry list. A laundry list for “intimacy”.

What. The. Aitch.

I’m sure I’d be in a different head space if we weren’t being intimate at all. I’m be dreaming about going through the motions. But being here now… it’s so boring.

I am about to be naked with my partner. The person I love most in this world. And I am bored.

I remember being so excited to be in this position (no pun intended): I would think about kissing her all day long and then, after waiting through torturesome hours, FINALLY, I would. And it felt amazing. And it was the same person over and over again.

And now… *yawn*

Maybe that’s the problem – maybe I’m just not meant to be with the same person for more than some undetermined amount of time. Isn’t that what people say “when the fire’s gone, it’s time to move on” ?

I know where this is headed: I’ll become so disenchanted with sex that I’ll start to look around for someone else, meanwhile, I’ll focus all my attention on internet pornography, which gives me what I want when I want it. AH, the wonderfulness of diversity!

So it seems as though I’ve already made up my mind as to my course of action. Though I must admit it’s not the best decision I’ve made . I really, really enjoy her company and don’t particularly want to start an affair or  leave her… after all, it’s not that big a deal.

But it IS a big Deal. Sex is really important to me and she should know that! Maybe if she would bother to try and be sexy for once… would it kill her to wear some lingerie once in a while? Do I actually have to go and get it for her before she acts on her own accord?

And how about she instigates once in a while? I’m always the one who starts kissing her and I’m starting to feel like she’s doing it out of service or duty, as opposed to wanting to because it feels good. What’s wrong with her? How can she so goddamned robotic?

Woah!

It just hit me.

So I’m upset because intimacy has become routine and I’m taking it out on her for being robotic? But I’m doing the absolute same thing! I’m  the one instigating. I’m the one who starts with her shirt, I’m the… wow…

I’m the boring one.

Damn. I really thought it wasn’t me this time. Honest.

So what do I do? How can I change things up? Should I just stop kissing her and see what happens? I once asked a bi-sexual girl what the worst thing about dating a girl was. She said “waiting for one of us to instigate.” So I could be waiting a long time.

How about doing something like completely crazy… like… handcuffs. Yeah, that’s different and exciting.

Ok, I’m clearly going about this the wrong way. Intimacy is a shared experience and if I’m feeling uninspired, then certainly she is as well and one of us has to get over our fear and talk about it. Okay, that’s good, if I tell her I’m bored, not with her but with the situation, then I’m asking for help and not attacking her, something I do not want to do. After all, I’ve already established that it’s not her fault.

Now comes the hard part: how to bring it up. I mean, can I just come out and say it?

“Listen, I want to talk to you about something.”

“Sure. What’s up?”

“Well… this is… I’m not really sure how I want to say this so give me a second to gather my thoughts.”

“okay.”

Alright, I have her attention and she’s interested. She knows this isn’t just a regular kind of talk. Okay, choose your words carefully.

“Lately… I’ve been feeling that… well… our… intimacy has been… well… it’s become… routine.”

“Oh, thank god!”

“What?”

“Well, I didn’t want to say anything because I didn’t know how you would take it. But, yeah. I completely agree.”

“You do?”

“Yeah. Wow, I’m really glad you want to talk about it. I’m so happy you’re not avoiding me and just watching porn.”

“…uh..yeah. I really didn’t want to be that guy.”

“Yeah… so I’ve been meaning to ask you…. How do you feel about… handcuffs?”

Indebted Recuperation

I canNOT believe that.

What a JERK!

Seriously, what a total and complete ass. And I’m not one to swear but, man, that f*cking burns me up. Really burns me up! I can’t believe that.

HOW DARE HE!

I could strangle him. And had he said one more thing, I would have, too. Fine, whatever, ‘I should keep my thoughts to myself’, where does he get off! Who the HELL does he think he is!

I’m allowed to think what’s in my head! I’m not some kind of goddamned robot who just says everything in an appropriate manner all the time. I’m not like that. And I shouldn’t have to be! This is MY home; I can be WHO I WANT when I’m here. Doesn’t he GET that?

It’s a good thing I walked away, because that would have been messy. And the last thing I want to do is get up in his face and start screaming obscenities… though the more I think about it the more I want to walk right back in there and bitch him out.

“YOU THINK YOU KNOW ALL THE ANSWERS? YOU THINK YOU ALWAYS KNOW WHAT TO SAY AND YET, YOU GET INTO THE SAME KIND OF TROUBLE I GET INTO, SO WHAT THE HELL?!”

HOW DARE ANYONE tell me what to do!

RRRRRAGE! I feel absolute rage and contempt! I could smash holes in the walls and shatter all the glass around me, leaving nothing but a pile of… broken glass. To bleed on.

*Whew*. That felt good to just get out… I feel less shaky and roiled.

And how odd of me to get roiled… I’m usually so calm and open to suggestion from people.

Now that I take a look back at my haranguing, I wonder what set me off? Yeah, I know you’re thinking “uh, Dave, clearly the person who said something to you was the catalyst. Are you dumb?” But hang on… let me replay the motions:

We were discussing my plans and I was excited to share my news. So I shared and then made a small off-colour comment and then – bang- the mood shifted and I was scolded.

Yeah, I’m 34 and I was scolded. And I didn’t like it.

Right, so “didn’t like it” is fine and good but I want to get more specific… what was I feeling? Or, rather: what do I feel?

Hmm… Right now, I feel a bit stumped. I keep reeling back to how angry I am at him and it’s breaking my focus. I mean, how important is it to know the exact feeling anyway? The whole point is that he cut me down when I was feeling so good. I was entrusting him with my enthusiasm and-

Aaaah!! So I see now… I feel

BETRAYED!

Wow, uh, drama queen much? Besides, I can’t feel betrayed… Betrayal is something that can happen to me. So how do I feel about the betrayal? Angry, that’s how. I am angry that he did that. But, for me, anger is usually a secondary emotion. Yeah, sometimes I’m plain angry but I know, right now, I’m not simply angry.

When he started to bitch me out- ok, when he started to say what he had to say, my initial reaction was “oh no, not again. Why am I always saying the wrong thing?” And my throat began to well up and I couldn’t look him in the eye.

So, I’m sad?

Kind of; it’s a type of sad: Hurt. I feel hurt. And I hurt easily when I don’t have my guard up. Like, when I’m excited to tell something to someone I care about, I’m not expecting them to cut me down. So my anger is there to protect me from receiving further hurt. My anger is quite protective of me and had it not kicked in, I probably would have broken down and cried (yeah, big girls don’t but big boys are allowed). Well, I know why I was hurt and I know why I got angry and I’m much more calm then I was a few moments ago. So… how do I wrap this up?

I would like to cut down (no pun intended) on the amount of hurt I’m feeling. And, clearly, it has very little to do with what HE said and more to do with how I see myself. So his voice is raised and his tone is trenchant but I know what he’s saying is for my benefit – it’s criticism… just not as constructive as I’d like. Right, it’s about what I’d like… okay, so if it has to do with me then how about this: I want to remember that when he jumps in, I need to listen to what he’s saying. I want to incorporate it, I don’t want to see it as an attack, because they’re both my choice. And he’s saying it for my benefit, not to cut me down; I only feel that way because of my relationship to him but that’s a WHOLE other column…

It’s a good thing he’s still around because I still need that kind of advice. As much as I sometimes act like I know things; I need to remember that I have A LOT to learn…

Thanks dad.