akienm: (Default)
"Well, how else would I deal with it?!" he demanded.

"If that's a serious question, then I do have a couple of observations for you..." she replied.

"Fire away."

"The first is that you love her, but her being poly makes you feel like you can't be in relationship with her."

"Yeah..." his tone was dubious.

"So let's see if I have this straight... You love her, but if only she were different, then you could love her. Is that right?"

He looked shocked. "Uh...."

"So maybe you love her, and you have feelings about her being polyamorous. Those are your feelings. They are not her fault. You knew this about her on the first date. The feelings are yours. They come from your expectations about what a relationship is supposed to look like, and how this one doesn't meet those."

"So what do I do?"

"You comfort yourself when you have feelings. You remind yourself 'Bob, these feelings are echos of the past caused by stories we don't believe in anymore'"

"What you'll get if you do that is what love she does have to give, rather than losing all the love she has to give. Work on loving yourself, Bob. You are the one person you know you're going to be stuck with for the rest of your life. Do you want to be stuck with the guy who ran from love and has to justify that to himself by being angry with the other person... Or do you want to be the guy who rewrote his habits of thought to allow for love that looked different than he expected? It's up to you."

"You also don't have to devote all your thoughts to her. Have boundaries around how much of you you share, if you need to. Being in relationship doesn't have to be a yes or no choice. Let her be who she is and decide how close you want to be to that."

"For me, doing that has allowed me to be have really fulfilling relationships, deep connections were able to form by letting them just be who they are."
akienm: (Default)
At the time, I thought I'd drifted away from LJ because everybody else had. In retrospect, I see I was actually drifting away before it became a ghost town. And here's why:

https://medium.com/bad-words/why-twitter-s-dying-and-what-you-can-learn-from-it-9ed233e37974
akienm: (Default)
Probably one of the most important lessons I have learned is that my best relationships are the ones where I allow the other person to simply be who they are… And I choose how close I can comfortably be to that. How close I can comfortably be is a moment to moment thing.

I've been in relationships where I wanted the other person to be different than who they were being. Like agreeing to an open relationship, then getting jealous, and trying to make agreements to limit their behavior in some way. Or remaining in a relationship where I felt judged by the other person, and trying to find some magical tool that could make it all better.

When I do that, I'm saying "I love you! But if you'd just be somebody other than who you are, I'd love you!" Doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

This doesn't mean my partners and I don't challenge one another to be better. Leah's been exercising a lot and I do strive to keep up. But that's my choice, not a requirement of hers.


I am grateful for this learning.
akienm: (Default)
I have struggled with depression since I was a kid, though I didn't realize I was even having difficulty until I was in my teens. And even then, I wouldn't have called it depression.

I think my mom struggled too… She had a job outside the home for a few years, but eventually she "had a nervous breakdown", which of course can mean just about anything.

I didn't think of it as depression until I was in my late 20s or early 30s. I've tried many of the available meds, and the sexual side effects most of them had drove me away from that.

Dealing with this my whole life, I've thought of suicide an awful lot of times.

When I was in my early 20s, I read a book by Carlos Castaneda in which one of the characters is "introduced to his death". His teacher tells him death will be his best friend. That no matter what else happens to him, he can look over his left shoulder at his death, and death will tell you "It doesn't matter. All that matters is that I haven't touched you yet".

This has been very powerful for me. The way it's expressed itself in my life has been that no matter how bad things have gotten, I've been able to say "well, if it gets worse, and I can't stand it any more, THEN I can do myself in". And even when it's gotten worse, this has enabled me to keep standing up to it. My death really has become a friend.

Dealing with Gene's death has cast a different light on this. Even though I didn't have to "clean up the immediate mess", I am still cleaning up messes. Messes in my own head. Dealing with the Gene shaped hole within me.

I know he didn't think anybody would really miss him that much. I *might* be the person most deeply affected.

But I think I've learned that me doing what he has done would have much more far reaching implications than I'd ever imagined before.
akienm: (Default)
I have learned how to do a good enough job at cleaning my teeth to get my dental hygienists' approval.

I floss with a Waterpik, then using a Sonicare toothbrush, I brush using Tarter Control Listerine instead of toothpaste.

I like being told that my my dental hygienist approves of the job I''m doing.
akienm: (Default)
I have learned that these little notes, be they memories, lessons, or some other thing, are the perfect way for ADD boy to write. I can accumulate these and perhaps even do something with them in the future, like create a book.

I've also learned that these little lessons don't have to be about big things like how to combat jealousy, they can be about little things like how to make a pan last longer.
akienm: (Default)
I have learned a little trick for extending the life of my nonstick pans.

I put a nonstick pan on the stove with nothing in it.

I turn it to medium, and let it get all warmed up.

I measure the temp of the pan with an infra red thermometer.

I keep slowly turning it up, and then letting it stabilize… until the steady state temp of the pan reaches 330F.

Then I mark the control dial with a sharpie… Red above that point, green below that point.

It's not that I have to stay in the green all the time… If I'm cooking something with a LOT of water in it, setting it on high might well result in a pan temp of only 220F or so. But it does mean that above that demarcation, I have to pay a LOT more attention to the pan temperature.

I really like this little trick. I expect it will extend the life of my nonstick pans.
akienm: (Default)
I have learned that my partner is not responsible for my feelings.

This one is easy to say. I've heard it said many, many times over the years. But it wasn't until I had a partner who actually acted in a way that demonstrated it to me that I finally got it.

Leah doesn't get agitated when I am. She's there with me to the extent that works for her. She recognizes that it's my job to parent me when I'm agitated. She'll ask if there's anything she can do, and she'll listen, but she doesn't even always empathize. The times I feel most agitated still tend to center around jealousy.

She also doesn't expect anything in particular from me when she's agitated. She's clear with her actions that it's not my fault that she's having feelings, even when those feelings are about my actions. If I can comfort her, or empathize, or whatever, that's a bonus

Because of having learned this, when MJ wants more from me than I can give, it's a lot easier to be with her in her discomfort. That has been awesome.

I still don't react as well as I'd like when the agitation of the other is presented as anger AT ME. I think with my childhood, that will take some time if I ever manage it.

This might be one of the most important skills I have ever learned.
akienm: (Default)
I want to do better... Given that, here are some further thoughts on yesterday's encounter:

I was going to put this into the original post, but forgot about it. Dawn once said to me that privilege is just what is, and it's "doing good" for those who have privilege to use it for the benefit of those who don't have it. These two incidents have helped me to realize that being an alpha, at least, to whatever extent I am, also puts me in a position of privilege. And using that to stop bullies is using it for good.

For all that I am glad I did this, there are some take-aways for me.

First, think just a little more about weapons in the environment. I walked up behind this guy with no idea what I was going to do. It was just luck that I could use his own weapons against him, as there were so many bottles there. But I could have just walked up to him had I gone to find a garbage can lid to use as a shield, and push him into a corner. I know how to use a shield, and that would have been easier than what I did.

Second, after the second time I pushed him down, he was bleeding from a cut. I asked one of the clerks to get me a first aid kit, and I allowed them to talk me into just waiting for the police. That was certainly the easier course. But now I wish I'd asked him if he was going to let me tend his cut without causing more trouble. And if he was willing to connect with me there, to have done that. It would have been the more human thing to do. Instead I let the store people put me on the victim side with them.

Third, I would have tried to talk to him. See if there was anything I could connect with him about. Maybe he was poor, hungry and frustrated. If so, was I simply supporting the white patriarchy by just handing him over for the cops to deal with? Trying to connect with his humanity is something I now wish I'd done.

Fourth, I realized that my relationship to this kind of encounter has changed over the years. As late as my 30s, I wouldn't have done this. I was so afraid of being hurt, just like the clerks at the store. Hurt was an all or nothing thing. I could wind up DEAD! But that isn't the way hurt works. The first bully I stopped, I stopped when my shoulders were far worse off than they are now. I knew in the moment I was stressing them. But I survived. So I can risk some hurt.

Fourth point one, and possibly most important, I realized that when in an encounter with a bully, I DON'T HAVE TO MATCH PHYSICAL FORCE TO PHYSICAL FORCE. Bullies do what they do because they're pretty sure no one will match their EMOTIONAL FORCE. I am not standing up to the man before me. The first bully was smaller than I, but yesterday's guy was bigger than I was. I matched the emotional force of the person within him.

And next time, I'll try to connect with his humanity once we get past the stand off.

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Akien MacIain

August 2017

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