Posts tagged with "relationships"

to start with an end

The break­ing point hap­pened one night, when an acquain­tance I’ll call Thomas chid­ed me for not get­ting back to him soon­er about a din­ner invi­ta­tion. Thomas was upset enough that he need­ed some time off from hang­ing out. I did­n’t under­stand, as he nev­er expressed his con­cern, so I had no idea there was a prob­lem in the first place. I apol­o­gized for hurt­ing him, and plead­ed with him to let me know next time so it would­n’t hap­pen again. Still, the sit­u­a­tion did­n’t sit well with me; my belat­ed reply was due to the fact that I was in a dif­fi­cult place of my own, about which he nev­er asked or con­sid­ered. I was left con­fused, and sad that I’d unwit­ting­ly hurt some­one so much as to need a break.

So I called my best friend at the time, look­ing for sup­port. “Avail?” was my usu­al code-word by text, to let him know I could wait until he had tak­en care of every­thing else, as I nev­er took his time for grant­ed. But this time, I was shak­en enough that I need­ed more than just an ear, and told him, instead of ask­ing. When I final­ly got him on the phone, he dis­missed every­thing I tried to say, over­rid­ing it with, “This is what you need to do. Mark three months from now on your cal­en­dar, and call him then. He’ll for­get by that time”. I tried to explain my feel­ings over and over, that I was­n’t look­ing to make amends but try­ing to under­stand the sit­u­a­tion, and this was the most mean­ing­ful answer he could offer. I broke down when I knew I was­n’t get­ting through, when I real­ized he was­n’t an ally at a time I tru­ly need­ed it, and that he nev­er was.

Continue read­ing “to start with an end”…

maelstrom wanderer

It’s been too long since my last emo­tion­al break. I can tell I’m in rough shape when I start to car­ry the ten­sion of the last shift to my next one, most­ly cause I’m get­ting lost between peo­ple and projects, instead of unwind­ing and recharg­ing. My Mac Pro also breathed it’s last, and I haven’t had the com­fort of my famil­iar elec­tron­ic space in over a week. As I build my next sys­tem, I’ve turned to oth­er forms of hap­pi­ness to fill the hole. They’re often just as worth my time, but don’t often leave space for the intro­ver­sion I need to cen­tre myself.

stick shifter

Still; the fact that I haven’t writ­ten in so long is cause I have a chance to talk to Heather on a con­sis­tent basis. As a source of imme­di­ate feed­back (along with end­less empa­thy and atten­tion), she’s become the out­let I’ve need­ed for so long. On good days, our bro­ken halves make a whole per­son. But on her bad days, I’m not always ready to be the strong one, and some­times I can’t help but feel inad­e­quate when she’s she’s still hurt­ing or not fixed yet, even when I know I’m not the cause.

comfy cat

It makes me espe­cial­ly anx­ious to get over a past that’s stop­ping me from fur­ther growth. I just want to stop suf­fer­ing from and strug­gling with var­i­ous forms of trau­ma, so I can reach a sense of sta­bil­i­ty. But that seems fur­ther away than ever at times like this, when I’m not cop­ing with the things I can’t con­trol, and I won­der if I should be mak­ing peace with it all instead of fight­ing it.

diner

Sometimes we go peo­ple-watch­ing at the Elgin Street Diner at two in the morn­ing. Not just cause it’s one of the only places still open, but because it tends to be too busy before then. It’s hard to point some­one out or steal a glance with­out being noticed when the tables are all occu­pied.

We try to fig­ure out rela­tion­ships from the way peo­ple sit, sto­ries from the state of their shoes. Mostly it’s young drunks, try­ing to set­tle their stom­achs with some grease before head­ing home. Frat boys from the bars, clus­ters of girls in tight dress­es from the clubs. The ones who’ve had too much are easy to spot: when they aren’t mak­ing a bee­line to the bath­room, they’re star­ing at their plates, won­der­ing how much warn­ing they’ll need for the next run.

But every so often is an enig­ma, like four men in car­go shorts who aren’t young enough to be sin­gle, but not old enough to be divorced. The cor­po­rate logos on their golf shirts belie the no-upkeep, don’t-care-any­more look that comes with father­hood. It’s a breed rarely seen out beyond nine on a Thursday night, and one that looks espe­cial­ly out of place at a time when the only cars on the road are taxis and cruis­ers.

I don’t judge, but I sure do won­der.

Elgin Street Diner

This is our way of escap­ing the reg­u­lar lives we lead, before catch­ing up on enough sleep to beat morn­ing rush-hour on the way home, and back to anoth­er day of real­i­ty. No one told us about the roles we had to play as adults, or the respon­si­bil­i­ties that come with it. To com­bat signs of aging, share onion-bacon pou­tine, choco­late-banana milk­shakes, and a slice of peanut-but­ter cake every now and then. Just an hour here is plen­ty, as long as it’s done on a reg­u­lar basis.

When we’re fend­ing off exhaus­tion to spend one more moment in each oth­er’s com­pa­ny, shar­ing food we should­n’t eat and words we should­n’t say, I know I’m the only one she wants to be with there. It’s more proof to me than the things she writes and the rit­u­als we share. So many peo­ple take that kind of unspo­ken faith for grant­ed, but it’s still new to me, and I’m learn­ing how much I need to be spe­cial to some­one.

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. []

everybody's gotta learn sometime

It’s strange to feel like I’m ready for a rela­tion­ship at only this point in my life. It did­n’t seem right that any­one should love me if I did­n’t love myself, and that did­n’t real­ly start until recent­ly.

It also took a good round of ther­a­py to fig­ure out that I was sab­o­tag­ing my rela­tion­ships so no one could have the chance to hurt me. If I con­sid­er which ones would have worked out had that not been an issue that caused me to break up with my girl­friends in order to pro­tect myself, I can only think of one. But that was a long time ago, and while we may have worked then, it’s no guar­an­tee for the peo­ple we’ve become, as I’m sure there’s been a lot of growth on both our ends. It’s only now that I feel like my per­son­al evo­lu­tion has reached a peak, a place where I’m sat­is­fied with who I am, and there won’t like­ly be any more dras­tic changes that may affect the dynam­ics of a rela­tion­ship.

I’ve been able to rec­og­nize that the risk of get­ting hurt is insep­a­ra­ble from the trust we place in the peo­ple we love, and that risk is always worth it. I’ve left behind my bag­gage, some­thing no one else should have to deal with, and I’ve had enough expe­ri­ence to know exact­ly what I’m look­ing for in a rela­tion­ship and what kind of peo­ple work with me.

Took me 30 years to fig­ure it all out, but every­body’s got­ta learn some­time.