Posts tagged with "Shawn"

lessons learned on the path to awakening

Order mat­ters. Timing is impor­tant. It’s help­ful to arrive at the point where things can only get bet­ter, but los­ing every­thing takes time. Making mis­takes is okay. Being unable to cope is okay. Not being ready to say it back is okay. Life is a bal­ance between hold­ing on and let­ting go. Some peo­ple should never have chil­dren. You’re only over some­one when you don’t need to make a con­scious effort to stop think­ing about them. The first step in tak­ing respon­si­bil­ity for your needs is com­mu­ni­cat­ing those needs.


Cats are lit­tle bun­dles of non-judgmental, unas­sum­ing, food-conditional love.

I need to be with lis­ten­ers more than talk­ers. A day spent writ­ing let­ters that will never be read isn’t a waste. Some peo­ple don’t know how to help, but that doesn’t mean they don’t care. It’s impor­tant to make peace with one’s suf­fer­ing. You never stop grow­ing with the right peo­ple in your life. She never loved me more than the words I wrote. The last thing I want is to be ignored when I open up. It’s okay when friends pri­or­i­tize their kids before me. It’s okay to pri­or­i­tize myself before any­one else. Always be mind­ful of long hair when cuddling.

Foxhole party

There are peo­ple who love me enough to save my life (and pants are optional at their parties).

The ones with a lit­tle bit of dark­ness to them tend to be more inter­est­ing. If a guy in a suit is cute like me, that means I’m cute like him. Lisa is my third cat and that’s enough for now. I deserve to be happy. A bad trip doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily mean a bad expe­ri­ence. Strength is often quiet, recep­tive deter­mi­na­tion, rather than chest-thumping pushi­ness. Being kind to dif­fi­cult peo­ple is just as impor­tant as being kind to bene­fac­tors and friends; being kind to myself is most impor­tant of all.

Level 8

Shawn and I go deep once a week, usu­ally with a decent amount of psy­cho­analy­sis mixed in with our Magic matches. I real­ized I still need ther­apy, but in a dif­fer­ent form from what my ther­a­pist could offer1. I need to work with some­one who isn’t restricted by time lim­its when I’m in the mid­dle of extremely time-sensitive events, and it’s vital that I work at my own pace, since it’s easy to rush things (that should be dealt with very care­fully) when it costs $180/hour. He also stretches me out in all the right ways, and I’m learn­ing that phys­i­cal com­fort is often just as impor­tant as emo­tional validation.

Shawn admits it’s all pop-psychology since he has no for­mal edu­ca­tion, but he’s spe­cial­ized in peo­ple and rela­tion­ships for so long that it’s no less effec­tive. Sometimes, it’s scary to work with some­one who func­tions at such a higher level of under­stand­ing of the world. I recently heard Jon Kabat-Zinn say, “Buddha was not a Buddhist”, which I started repeat­ing to Shawn when try­ing to relate mind­ful­ness with mod­ern reli­gion. He fin­ished my thought by say­ing, “and Jesus was not a Christian”, an idea I’d only come to after a lot more research and reflec­tion. He was able to reach the same con­clu­sion by exam­in­ing pat­terns in his exist­ing knowl­edge; an extremely pro­found and impact­ful con­cept to me, which I was still try­ing to fully grasp, was applied com­mon sense to him.

That means I’m occa­sion­ally con­fronted with how narrow-minded I can be in com­par­i­son. It’s mess­ing with things I take for granted, like my ideas of right or wrong, parts of my world-view I’ve held for so long and with­out ques­tion. Sometimes, I real­ize the per­son I was until that very moment would have done things I’d now con­sider embar­rass­ing (being judgmental/intolerant/hateful), based on igno­rance, parochial­ism, or naïveté. Thankfully, I’m also get­ting bet­ter at accept­ing my past self(ves) by under­stand­ing all the influ­ences that have led me to think a cer­tain way. It also helps know­ing that the truly impor­tant thing is that I have the power to change now, and that it’ll affect me pos­i­tively for the rest of my life.

Shawn used to say I was a wiz­ard stuck on level 7, always on the cusp of lev­el­ling up. I had enough wis­dom and intel­li­gence and other attrib­utes to be a much more pow­er­ful char­ac­ter, but was still a mage who couldn’t start his main quest, due to a very low stat in his rela­tion­ship score. This was hold­ing me back because rela­tion­ships are a huge part of my needs; ironic that I’m also so bad at them.

I’ve learned a lot in the last few months though, through a new aware­ness of deeper parts of myself, and a view of the world that’s get­ting more objec­tive. I’m apply­ing these things by pur­su­ing healthy inter­ests, which cur­rently means build­ing my rela­tion­ships and prac­tic­ing uni­lat­eral virtue. While the lat­ter has been both empow­er­ing and hum­bling, it’s also dras­ti­cally shaken my under­stand­ing of my rela­tion­ships, my needs, and my past. I can tell I’m only begin­ning to fig­ure out the dynam­ics of peo­ple and how they func­tion, but Shawn says just com­ing to that under­stand­ing means I’ve finally reached level 8, and with that foun­da­tion, I can begin the next part of my journey.

Then he gave me a high-five. My ther­a­pist never did that.

  1. Not that he was bad in any way. It’s just that the nature of open­ness tends to get more com­pli­cated when money is involved. You know some­one truly cares when they lis­ten with­out hav­ing to get paid, and it’s eas­ier to be com­fort­able with that. []

the loving dominant

My rela­tion­ships func­tion best in a one-on-one con­text, when I’m giv­ing a sin­gle per­son my full atten­tion or vice versa. I see myself as the dom­i­nant most of the time. But power flows from the bot­tom up and I’m a pleaser too, so I fre­quently assume the sub­mis­sive role cause I enjoy it (need it?) so much. Knowing that I can make peo­ple happy is some­thing I thrive on.

At heart though, I’m a very dom­i­nant per­son, and I never real­ized I was miss­ing an out­let for those ten­den­cies until Shawn handed me the remote as we were about to watch Game of Thrones. He read me well enough to know that I enjoy tak­ing care of lit­tle details, and he’s even more of a pleaser than I am, so he gave me con­trol, even though I rec­og­nize that he’s the more dom­i­nant per­son1.

Over time, I’ve become the one to do the talk­ing, to decide what we do, to make the small choices that remind me I have wants and needs as much as any­one else. Shawn’s a per­son I respect, and he’s nat­u­rally “bet­ter” in the ways that are impor­tant to me, so being in con­trol when we hang out has been really ful­fill­ing. I’m get­ting bet­ter at speak­ing out about things that bother me and think­ing of myself and being stronger in general.

  1. I highly value intel­li­gence, so it’s nat­ural for me to sub­mit to more intel­li­gent peo­ple, and he’s way more intel­li­gent than me. He’s also a lot stronger of char­ac­ter. []