A Connection to Remember

WOAH! Woah, woah, woah, woah, woah!

What did she just say?

Did I just hear what I thought I heard: The words every person in a relationship fears to hear at any point in time? You’ve got to be kidding.

What the hell am I supposed to do now? It’s not like she’s giving me much breathing room here.

Why couldn’t she just say “we have to talk”? What kind of bullsh*t is this? Who just says that?

Ok, ok, try to focus. She said it. And she said it in that tone: The one that means business. She’s not just saying it to jostle me; she’s serious. And this is not a vulpine move: I know that. She’s pissed off and she’s putting her foot down.

The words set my thoughts on fire like napalm. Is there any way to respond to that without freaking out? I mean, what does she expect me to do?

“I want to have an affair”

An affair? What the hell…because I’m not enough for her? Wow, I’ve really lost it. Why couldn’t I have seen this coming?

Wait a second, it’s not like I’m an abusive boyfriend; I tell her I love her all the time. I’m there for her when she needs me; I make an effort to interact with her family and friends. So what is this? Why an affair?

Alright, I have to respond but I don’t want to snap at her – she’s already pulling away, I don’t want to make the gap farther, I want to close it… so what can I say?

“Go ahead you ungrateful bit-” no, no, that’s pushing. Try again.

“But you mean the world to me! Why would you-” No, that’s pulling her towards me and if she’s already pushing, then pulling is going to tear her apart.

I need to say something that’s going to communicate that I want to deal with this with her; show her that this is a real relationship, no matter how much I’m freaked out right now.

“I hear you. I hear that you want to have an affair”. Woah, where did that come from? Well, I want to show her that I’m attentive to her needs and that I’m meeting her where she is right now. I want to listen, really listen to her. That way, I’ll find out why she wants to have an affair. “What’s going on?” that’s good. It’s a straight up question posed after I’ve let her know that I’m all ears.

“I feel like you don’t listen to me anymore”.

That’s SUCH HORSESH- hold on, hold on; these are her feelings. She’s allowed to feel that way. But I do listen to her – and I’m listening now. She’s putting the blame about how she feels on me, like I can control how she feels. That is not how it works.

“Don’t talk about me, talk about you.” We’ve discussed this before – I’ve let her know in the past that only I can make myself feel something. If she does something, it’s MY choice whether I react to it or not. So If I’m angry about something, I’m angry. And while I might feel angry at her for doing something, the truth is that it’s my issue to deal with, not hers. We’re adults now and responsibility’s the name of the game. I’m not shutting her down, I’m just focusing her.

“Ok, I don’t feel listened to.”

Good, she’s taking responsibility. That’s important because it means she’s ready to share more about where she is, not blame me. All I can do is listen, because if I tell her she’s wrong, I’m going to push her away. So just keep listening.

“Okay, I hear that you don’t feel listened to”. Good, I’m not putting any words in her mouth and I’m just there as a sounding board so she can get her thoughts out and then go back to being sane- I mean calm.

“That’s right. And I know that you listen to me, it’s just-“

No, don’t let her drift! Remind her about what she needs to talk about. “Keep it about you.”

“Right. I feel listened to sometimes it’s just lately… we’ve been really busy – I’ve been really busy.”

She caught herself there, that’s great! Just keep it going. “I hear you say that you’ve been really busy.”

“Yeah. And I really want to spend more time with you because I don’t feel connected.”

Oh, so it’s about connection! I didn’t realize that she felt a loss of connection. Don’t get distracted, keep going.

“So I hear that you don’t feel connected to me.” That’s it, no more. And look how she’s smiling. I don’t know where that affair came from but now’s not the time to ask, just stay on task.

            “No… well… I am now. *Sigh* I just want to feel that I can still talk to you about my day because I haven’t done that in a while… I’m okay. I don’t want to have an affair anymore.”

Wow… I kind of can’t believe we got through that without so much as a bruise. But I kept my calm (after losing my mind for a moment) and just listened to what she had to say. The reflection of her feelings helped her to feel validated and that encourages her to want to share more. That’s how she knew without a doubt I was right there with her. I didn’t have to defend my actions or anything! Wow, I feel incredible!

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Anticipated Acceptance

Wow, what a mistake.

What a stupid thing to do. Sometimes, man, I can really put my foot in my mouth. And not just my foot, mind you, but my whole leg. I am SUCH a moron.

Movies made about time machines were written by people who do the things that I do. I feel so incredibly stupid.

Why did I say that? Why couldn’t I have just kept my mouth shut? Or better, why couldn’t I have thought of something more eloquent to say?

Because I’m dumb, that’s why.

No, I’m not dumb; I’m completely oblivious to the obvious. Life is just kind of moving past my face and I, apparently, have no idea how to conduct myself among people. I might as well have slapped her in the face. Idiot! Who the hell do you think you are!? You should have your mouth removed. Let me get out of here before I say something else…

Ok, now that you’re away from people, you’re safe. That’s good. You can hide out here, you coward. Yeah, give you some paper and ink and everything’s fine. But face to face, you can’t seem to keep yourself civil. You’re a hero, alright. Why did you even come out? No one is enjoying your company anyway. Okay, maybe a few people but not enough to warrant your oh-so-important presence.

Woah. I feel awful. And it’s not like people told me to leave. What the heck is going on? Okay, breathe… try to calm dow-

-No, no, I’m not going to calm down! I’m going to turn around and leave and never come out for a night again because, clearly, I haven’t developed the necessary skills to-

-STOP.

Yes, I get it, I’m very, very angry at myself right now. I can feel it in my face: my jaw is clenched, my cheeks are hot, and my breathing is heavy and thick. My hands are beginning to shake and I want to punch something, causing pain in my hand, furthering my misery.

Where is this coming from? What am I getting myself all worked up for?

BECAUSE YOU SAID THAT STUPID, STUPID THING-

Okay, yes, I know I said something that I’m not proud of out loud. And she’s also, probably, not impressed. And I feel angry about that… Something I’m not proud of.

“Idiot” and “stupid”? I know that I don’t use those words often and when I do, I usually feel like one of them. But I only feel like an idiot when I do something that I know I shouldn’t do, but do anyway, against my better judgment. Well, I guess it’s not better judgment because if it was, I would take it. So I believe that the voice telling me “don’t say that” is wrong. Huh. And I ignore it and feel like a fool. AH! I’m embarrassed. Okay, that’s one part.

I feel ashamed of myself. that’s a pretty big emotion to feel. I’m not a fan of feeling ashamed of myself and I don’t feel it too often. And I hate feeling it.

Oh… so that’s where my anger is coming from. I’m angry that I have to feel something I don’t like to feel. So I cover it up with anger so that I can feel something else. I’m familiar with that and there’s a term that I’m aware of – metafeelings (it sounds so cool…): Feelings about feelings. So it’s not enough that I feel shame but I need to feel angry to work myself into a frenzy of self-rejection and calumny? I don’t like feeling ashamed of myself but it’s going to happen from time to time. And it happens for a pretty good reason- to remind me not to repeat my actions.

Unfortunately, I’m kind of a slow learner and I take it out on myself because I’m the only one to blame. Shouldn’t I know better than to do that? I can be so stup- there I go again.

Okay, so how do I want to deal with this feeling in the future, because I know it’s going to happen again because, no matter how hard I may try, I’m not able to stop time and choose what I want to say… actually, that’s a nice first step: I can expect it to happen so that when it does, I can identify it and say “ah, it just happened again, just as I thought it would”. This way, I’m setting myself up to accept who I am and what I tend to do. Already that feels much better; I prefer allowing myself to make mistakes and being preparing for when I do as opposed to beating myself up because they ‘shouldn’t’ happen.

I think I can go back inside now. There are still some people that I’d like to talk with. And how else will I get to practice my newfound technique of expected blunder? Besides, I can’t be the only person who says things he regrets here 😉

Worldwide Property: Complimentary Luggage part deux

“Stop that! I don’t like it when you talk to me that way!”

Wow… it feels interesting to yell that out loud.

“I said stop it! I ‘m warning you!”

I’ve got my finger out and I’m ready to pounce. But what if they continue?

“If you don’t stop, I’ll get someone to make you stop!”

So I have some power… but only to threaten with the power of others… no. This isn’t going to work…

I’m going back. Waaaay back to when I was in grade 4 and 5. Back to the days where I could not stand up for myself because I did not know how to. Oh, I was told to stand up for myself. I was told to say things and do things that ultimately did not resonate with me. And, to this day, if things don’t resonate with me, I can’t do them. Ok, I can but I choose not to because I don’t believe in their value.

 I was not one to fight. I hit my brother on occasion and we would fight but only because he was smaller than me and I knew I could take him. But peers? No way. They not only had the physical advantage but the psychological as well (that happens with low self-esteem, btw). So I did not want to fight. But I’ll tell you what I was one to do: hug. Oh man, I could hug anyone for any reason. Why? Because hugging filled me with a feeling of comfort and love, something I could and to this day, can never get enough of. Continue reading

Building Awareness of Self-Awareness

Full Sword in scabbard

Image via Wikipedia

I spoke in my last post about comfort zones, strengths, and growth from within areas that we are already relatively comfortable.  It was a pretty straightforward account of how knowing what are strengths are can help us to build on and expand those strengths into new areas.  The problem, of course, is that this viewpoint presupposes that you actually do know what your strengths are.

Hmm…

There are a few issues worth considering here.  I suppose the first would be a consideration of what a strength actually is.  Some people would distinguish between a strength and a personality characteristic, for example.  In such a scenario, the former may be something more of a skill that can in some quasi-quantifiable way be improved over time (i.e. writing, planning, organizing), while the latter might be more of a stable, enduring quality or trait that is in some sense automatic (i.e. charisma, quick thinking, adaptability). Continue reading