I've heard that over and over. In workshops and self help books. And I've *thought* I had found what I wanted to do. I thought that coaching was THE thing. I think in retrospect I wasn't quite right about that.
But when I look at my life, there is one consistant theme. Looking for and cultivating love. Love has made me crazy, depressed, ecstatic... I have joked that "it is just all about the sex", because that's what some people seemed to think about me. If that were true, I wouldn't have turned down sex with someone I liked in order to go just sleep with someone I loved (which I have happily done).
Sex is lovely, I have no plan or desire to give it up. But it so pales as a thing unto itself, when compared with the same thing with a beloved. With someone, either new or in an ongoing relationship, where there is the energy of acceptance, discovery, enthusiasm, play, openness, and unattachment to a specific result. Then there's no pressure. You are free to be whomever you are, and they whomever they are. It becomes a dance, a give and take. To see and be seen for who you really are, accepted, and given the gift of pleasure. Then the pleasure can be of any form, even just talking, kissing, whatever. I have one partner with whom I have called taking care of her when she was sick "making love", because it was. There was so much sense of appreciation from her that I was helping.
Coaching helps me create that for others, and I really like that. I think I will never give that up. But up to now I've thought of coaching as simply a way to make things better for the largest possible number of people. Now I see that "make things better" isn't enough for me. I want to teach people how to create that romantic ecstacy.
Dawn and I shared a moment of that this weekend, and it was an amazing and beautiful thing for me. To have her there before me, with all her walls down, I felt like a teen again, seeing my first lover naked for the very first time. I was filled with wonder, compassion, joy, awe... She is such a gift to do the scary thing of opening herself like that.
So, I want to find ways to make my living from being romantic. So far, ideas include the coaching work, writing romance novels that teach the relationship skills we've been teaching in coaching (a subversive way to make the world a better place), and maybe a workshop on wooing.
I'd like to invite you, whomever you are that's reading this, to throw me any other ideas about how I can make a living at romance.
I had decided to throw a party, my very first one, and had spent some time steeling myself to ask her to come. I'd never asked a girl out before either.
And when I did, she got this look of disgust and said "Go to a party with you?!" And then she laughed.
This is why it's so hard for me to ask a woman out. This is why I reactivly think they wouldn't want to be with me. It's also why each relationship has seemed so precious, here's someone who wants to see me. It's always a surprise when someone says they want me.
(I request that if we are in relationshp (or if you're otherwise comfortable doing so), and you do want me, you tell me. Frequently and often if possible. It would be a great gift. (Yes, tenacious_snail, you tell me lots. :) Not that you should stop, mind you! )
To me, beauty means having to do with societal standards. Something we can at least all talk about with some sense of common context.
To me pretty means having to do with what I percieve as attractive. Which may say some things about the perciever, but doesn't say ANYTHING about the person being percieved.
Given that some of you, mostly women, had very different defintions of these words... What word would you use for:
1) The societal shared model of attractivness (might be beauty, pretty, or whatever)
2) For the perception of attractivness on the part of the perciever, which as I said says nothing about the percieved.
When I was a kid, the message I got was that to be successful as a human being, I needed to be successful in relationship. One of my first ongoing daydreams that spanned multiple years was one of just sitting in bed with my sweetie... She had long dark hair, and we would talk or read basically every night (this was before I discovered sex). I have that dream now come true.
And that dream come true has it's own issues... Dawn is one of the women who's "too pretty for me". That has been one if my stories. I am so without worth that no one really pretty would want me. At the same time, another of the stories is "looks are not supposed to matter". I'm supopsed to be able to connect with anyone no matter how they look, connect romantically with the person within.
I do have a very wide range to what I can see as pretty because of this. And unlike "beauty" (which tends to carry with it images of societally defined beauty), "pretty" is generally seen as more individually defined. So there's more room in "pretty" for a mix of the appearance and the personality.
I do like that I try to see the whole person. And I like seeing the whole person.
And at the same time, I feel like the fact that I don't find some people attractive is a failing on my part. Now you wanna talk about beating myself up for weird stuff, that's the one that tops it in my book.
Dawn spent some time at the beginning of our relationship trying to figure out what my type was. We eventually decided that there wasn't much physical that defined it. I do have a weaknesses for female and for very pale skin, but beyond that, it's hard to pin down.
On the other hand, smart, strong willed, happy... These are things that draw me and that are OK with me as selection criteria.
Admitting that appearance matters is still very hard for me, It feels like I'm being shallow. And I carry fear that by even saying it, the people I'm interested in will start wondering if I think they're pretty enough.
[added after initial posting:]
Just having posted the stuff above, just pushing the post button, caused me to tear up. Clearly there's a lot in this one for me to explore.
Yesterday I was mourning some of the dreams I've been carrying around this last year. I had these dreams and ideas about making a family with these people I was dating. Now I see that I need to start creating family and see who's drawn to it.
These dreams were in part based on my optimist going into overdrive fed on the naturally created chemicals one gets that we call New Relationship Energy. Everything seemed possible, just by putting enough energy behind it.
Now I am grieving these dreams, while at the same time clearing space for more down to earth versions of those same dreams.
I'm going back to school. Been talking about it for a while, now is the time to start planning for it.
I am also becoming an expert organizer... OK, well, starting to learn to be an expert organizer (gotta have those positive affirmations).
Because of some incomplete communications, I feared I might have been mourning more than that, but I was simply letting my fears run away with me. That seems to be particularly easy right now, since I'm no longer just squashing all my fears. They're present and I can feel them, which is clearly a good thing. On the other hand, now they're present and I can feel them, which I don't have a lot of experience with. More learning and calibrating to do.
I guess that last bit means I am going to try even more not to take communication for granted, and may be at pains to be very clear and doing more check ins in my communicating, till I have this more comfortably under my belt.
I have to give some possibly apparently unrelated bits of background in order to explain this:
The way the mind works, and in particular the way the emotions work, are not irrational at all. It's actually all very logical (but isn't always right).
When we have something that triggers us, our amygdala has spotted something that it can quickly identify as needing an immediate reaction. It floods the body with chemicals, which are designed to get us ready for whatever is happening, and to get our observational attention and the attention of our intellect.
Once we start putting our attention on the issue, that gives that reaction more energy. Then our intellect comes along and starts doing two things, the first is starting to try and explain what's happening... "I'm feeling fear, and there's a tiger in front of me, therefore I must be afraid of the tiger!" The second thing it does is catastrophising. It starts trying to think of what might happen, what we need to be ready for. "It might try to eat me!" All of these build on each other. Now we have our amygdala, our attention and our intellect all focused in the same direction, a lot of energy is building very quickly, and we have become reactive. This is a completely normal human response cycle. Which doesn't mean that the assumptions of the amygdala or even the intellect are right, but that's a whole different can of worms.
The Buddhist have a notion they call "The Watcher". This is where you learn to observe these processes. I started learning to do this before becoming aware of the Buddhist idea because I was trying to figure out how to manage my own fears and reactions, so that my relationship with Dawn would be more successful.
You can use this watcher concept to interrupt this reactive cycle. It takes practice, but it can be done. And one does get better at it with practice.
One of the things we taught early in our coaching work was that denial is not a bad thing. Denial is a logical response to feeling that you're unable to cope with some stressor. We used to say "If you gave up everything you're in denial about all at once, your head would explode".
I have been doing that watcher thing for some time, but this year things really stepped up. I got the audio book of The Power Of Now by Eckhart Tolle. This dovetails well with my philosophy in general, and gave a boost to this self observation process. I also am deeply in love with a woman who's been exploring some related stuff for a long time. She's also listened to The Power Of Now, and is studying from a local teacher and attending an ashram where she's learning even more. All this provides yet more impetus for me to keep extending my skills in this area.
However, there's an unintended side effect.
When you start trying to embrace the watcher concept that quickly, you begin to be unable to remain in denial. You start watching yourself turn away from things, like your bad habits, whatever they might be.
At first I thought I was jealous of someone else this lady was interested in. I worked really hard with that one, because we know a lot about jealousy.
Then I thought she was growing bored with me or that she might be getting annoyed with how reactive I had become.
These were both my intellect trying to explain what was happening, but they were guesses, and they were wrong guesses.
The further I've gotten into it, the more I can see that this isn't so. This is me. I am confronting all the things I was in denial about all at once.
I am confronting that I am not consistent enough with my children. I am confronting that I do not make my children important enough in my life (which is what I feel my parents did with me). I am confronting my relationship with my wife, what I've been putting into it, how I've taken her for granted. I have already been confronting work issues, now I have to actually look at how I do not own my work in the way I should to assure I keep the job. How I don't pick up after myself. How I often don't live up to my intentions. How I have said things to my wife about how her feelings of frustration are OK, while at the same time cringing inside - wanting to flee and cry and bury myself away from them... Because, well, she *should* be able to have her feelings, and that she's angry means that I have let her down, no matter why she's angry (goes back to my mom). How I said a lot of things to Lisa about my intentions which were not in alignment with what I was actually willing to fight for when Dawn started challenging the cost in both time and money. How I don't seem to be able to run a group for more than 3/4 of a year. How I have cheated on the rules of almost everything at some point. About how breaking poly agreements led to the destruction of the last external poly relationship to come close to being what I have now... And about how terrified I am I'll do something stupid and lose K. About how I don't generally value life in the way that I should, like killing bugs rather than relocating them. About how I tend to make anything that's uncomfortable unimportant. About how we have really very little saved for our future and no plan other than to keep doing the coaching till I can't anymore. Which I fear I'll start doing only after I can't do enough for the tech industry and won't be able to get a job anymore. About how both Les and Bronwyn have commented that they wish I could give them more, and I've felt held back in a way I don't understand. About how I often knowingly gave my siblings the short end of things, taking the largest share for myself whenever possible. About how I turned my back on my bio family instead of trying to make it better. About how I don't feel like I deserve to be taken care of because I never felt like I was important enough as a kid. About how I was a thief as a child. About how I scare off so many people, either by being to open or to reserved (talk about a no win situation). And how I don't really want to do the work, I don't want to put in the effort to change and get better. I'm having to confront that I'm lazy and would rather spend all my time in endorphin induced blissfull haze. How I have a drive to feel important, and maybe that's all the mission I've ever had. I'm having to confront all my judgments about myself. And my judgments about the judgments.
But I think the worst is: I am not feeling competent about anything right now. It's like my inventiveness, which got me through so much, has just disappeared (mind you, it demonstrably hasn't, but for some reason it *feels* like it has). And with all the rest, it leaves me feeling like I'm walking through a desolate wasteland in my head.
And it's all left me feeling like anything unexpected is dangerous. Every time somebody suggests something, I have to stop and actually look at it, which for some reason comes across as *really* irritating. This was actually the first symptom, and started some time last year, but I didn't understand what it meant. This was my first sign of emotional contraction.
I hurt. I feel like I'm feeling all the pain I had supressed in my past, all at once. Ego death.
So that's what's going on. I am making this post at the suggestion of Mister Wizard. He indicates that by owning it publically like this, I'm taking out the trash. That the next step will be defining something new... Rebuilding.
But I think there's at least one more load of trash to go.
So I'll start there.
I'll be doing a lot of posting from here on from my phone. This will mean I don't have my spell checker and that I'm working on a very small screen. This means I'll make a lot of errors. I am not worried about that, but would appreciate it if folks didn't point out little things like a replicateed lettter in my wrting.
For those who may not know: Dramatis Persone (subject to change as I go through my redefinition):
Mister Wizard: I have an aspect of my being I call Mister Wizard. This to me represents my higher self, the wisest part of me, my connection to the divine and to all that is. Often my inner conversations happen with him. This part of me is assured and confident, and also somewhat passive. So far, he doesn't make things happen, he points the way.
Michael: Michael is mostly me as a child. Sometimes he's playful or silly, he's very eager to please, he doesn't feel very strong, but he has a good heart. Michael carries the pain of the abuse in my past. Michael carries a lot of unncertainty.
Watcher: If I unnderstand correctly, the Buddists have this notion called "The Watcher". The Watcher exists in us all, and can give us perspective, allow us to observe ourselves even when we're being our most reactive. I have been developing the watcher this year. This has been the origin of my current collapse. We used to say in our coaching that denial is a good thing, it prevents you from taking on more than you're capable of dealing with. If we gave up everything we were in denial about all at once our heads would expolode. That's what's been happening lately, head 'splodies.
Satyr: This is my animal sexual self, the part of me who WANTS. And when I see something I want, this is the part of me that goes after it. Gets attached to it. This is the part of me that uses sex to produce the endorphins that help me cope with my day to day life. This part of me sometimes gets in the way of having more bredth of connection with my lovers than I would like. I think that's why I pick strong willed women, so they'll push back and our lives can include more than the horizontal mambo.
Indiana Jones: I have an otherwise unnamed part who is the problem solver. Every time I am deeply buried in solving some problem, particularly when someone else says it's impossible, the Raider's Of The Lost Ark theme goes through my head. This part of me is assured and confident.
The Voices: Mom, Dad, sometimes other authority figures from when I was a kid. Part of the Ego. Never approving, often judging, at best indifferent. I'm realizing as I write this that this is my impression of my folks even to this day. And this is part of what my bosses have been painted with.
Who are your inner aspects?
I am me. Sometimes I play some of those roles, but that isn't me. That's a facet of me.
And all I know of you are just facets of you.
I am still learning me. If I am still learning me, how can you know me? Everything about me is changable, and may change as I see need for it. I am willing to explore with you, if you're willing to accept all this.
I want to thank those that have accepted that. Pixie, K-, Les, Anna, Donna, Jon... The Noodles... The far away lovers we want to grow closer to... And so many others.
For those others, who for whatever reason aren't accepting or do not like me, I genuinely wish you all the happiness you can open to accepting... However that manifests in your life. I hold you no ill will and am more sorry than I could say for harms I may have caused you. They have weighed on me every day of my life. Someday I'll write all of them I can remember here.
I declare for all to see that I am afraid. I am afraid of losing my labels. I am afraid of not being the husband, boyfriend, lover... I am afraid of not having value to bring to the community... I am afraid of the hurts I have brought to others... I am afraid of conflict. I am afraid of being infirm and unable to care for myself.
I stand exposed.
The first was that I had been unable to shake the upset... The other person and I worked things out, but for a couple of reasons, I wasn't able to let go of all of it. One of my oft replayed phrases from Illusions by Richard Bach was "we decide, ourselves, to hurt or not to be hurt. Us who decide, nobody else". How do I reconcile being the one who decices, with the pain I'm still in?
But today as I was coming in to work, I remembered another concept from Illusions: We're here for the learning. All the discomfort I was feeling was about my needing to learn something... So what is it? I still don't know, but when I shifted that, then the pain subsided. I know I'll find the lesson.
The second thing was this post from tenacious_snail...
I am truely gifted by my family.
There is a big distinction between rooting out intolerance; and letting the existence of intolerance limit your sense of humor.
Laughter is one of the greatest gifts we have, and to render specific aspects of life off limits to humor enslaves us all to the limitations of a few.
There are many paths to every goal. Creating safety by limiting the actions, feelings or thoughts of others should always be held to a minimum, lest the state (as the state per se
There should be respect for all individuals. There should be a striving for partnering. There should be education about how to have and maintain boundaries. There should be a partnering in support of boundaries, where such boundaries protect individuals from harm or from unequal availability of opportunities. There should be a concerted effort to teach these ideas and support these values. And there should be a striving within this context to shed the reactive responses to past pain. When a structure for safety is in place, the need for reactivity is past. And even in the face of a need for change, reactivity limits the options of the person experiencing it, it does not create safety, it limits the options for safety.
It should not be a goal of society to insure the comfort of all the individuals in a society unless that society is going to feed and house all those most in need first. All else is hipocracy. Further, by attempting to insure the comfort of the few, we limit their potential for growth, since most human growth stems from attempting to grow beyond our discomforts.
To limit anyone from expressing themselves simply because I have pain in my past results in limiting us all to the least common denominator. This is not respectful of the individual, and does us all harm. It limits creativity. It limits questioning the value of specific things, which then results in rules which serve a few at the expense of the many. And which may exist far beyond their usefulness to the individuals in question.
This is the reason why free speech was codified in the constitution.
And this is the tyranny of having a cause, the terrorism of political correctness.
I give this up.
I know I don't have time to do all the things I would like to do. It would take me all the lifetimes in the world to do everything I'd like to. It would take perspectives I do not have and won't ever have in this lifetime to experience all I'd like to.
So I'm going to own that this lifetime is the one I chose. With the perspectives, limitations, drives, challenges and gifts that came with being this person.
I'll need to look at everything in my life, and start letting some of the things I'd like to do go. Not because they are not good or interesting things, just because since I've decided to be this person, there will not be time for them all.
I must do those things that matter most. I will also invent creative ways to do more in the time I have. Making group activities instead of one on one things with lots of individuals. I'd prefer the latter, it will be more of a challenge for me to do the former. And that's part of taking on being this person.
Dziękują za słuchanie
(Thank you for listening)
Starting last week, I am giving this up. I will look through what there is, so what most needs doing, then look again. Maybe go so far as to prioritize the first few things. This will still mean there's a lot I wind up ignoring, but the most important things will be done.
It's really weird to realize that you consider it an accomplishment just to trash the drek in your inbox.
On to better things!