I’m reading an awesome book about human sexuality. The link is below: Come As You Are, The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life, by Emily Nagoski, PhD.
Without too much spoiler, you will learn about brakes, accelerator, context, and much more. Reading this has solidified some of the self-work I have done on healing my sexual attitudes towards myself.
I loved this quote.
“If a girl has a particularly sensitive brake system, one incident might be enough to create a tangled knot in her arousal process. For many women, though, it takes consistent reinforcement of a negative message in order for it to be embedded in sexual response, and consistent reinforcement takes a sex-negative culture.”
I have a highly sensitive accelerator with dull brakes. I can only speak in generalities, because I forgot the details over the years. Generally, I was raised in an environment where sex should wait until marriage. It was more acceptable if a boy didn’t wait. It was likely a girl’s fault if a young couple was caught. Premarital sex is naughty. Don’t have sex with more than one boy. If you fail, ask for forgiveness and try harder next time. Oh, and don’t talk about your struggles because 1st – you should be ashamed and 2nd – it’s embarrassing to talk about sex.
I felt at least mildly guilty or shameful for YEARS. This book is helping me to finalize my healing process and truly understand.
I’ve changed a LOT since 2012 and I think that it is for the better. I’ve had a lot of personal / emotional growth and I can tell when I read old journal entries. Here’s a few concepts where I have changed my position:
- When my ex and I started admitting that we had a broken relationship I told him that I would “take better care of him.”
I now realize that I was taking too much responsibility for his happiness / unhappiness. I’m not in charge of anyone else’s happiness. I’m in charge of my own happiness. I know that now, but it was a very difficult lesson to learn. I believe it is because I am a “giver.” I felt like if someone was struggling, I needed to give. And if they were still struggling – I needed to give MORE. And if it didn’t work – there must be something wrong with me.
- I had the attitude that ANYthing can be fixed.
Since some people (who suffered similar problems as my ex and I) came through it stronger on the other side, I figured we should be able to do that too. I was not accounting for the vast number of variables that made our situation different from the ones who DID make it through stronger. Add to this, several books and web sites I read basically accused couples of lack of effort if they didn’t make it through with the marriage intact. I’ve learned that sometimes the best way to fix a broken relationship is to simply let go and that there is nothing wrong with that.
- I used to analyze my way out of trusting my instincts.
I have pretty good instincts, actually. I can sense when someone is tense or uncomfortable. I can sense when I’m feeling uncomfortable. I might not figure out what is causing it immediately, but I can reflect for a bit and determine the source of my discomfort. And I can usually tell when something seems “fishy.” But I also suffered from low self confidence, so didn’t trust my instincts. I have learned to key in on my body signals that tell me that something is wrong and act accordingly.
- I used to rely heavily on advice from others, even if it felt wrong to me.
This is very related to trusting my instincts, but with a twist of asking advice from others. People mean well, but if I had listened to friends – I would be missing out on a great relationship with a man I care deeply about. I believe it is because too many people play “games” or manipulate people instead of just being honest about their feelings. My friends were giving advise based on that fact, and hinting that I should just give up on him. I sensed that this man was not playing games with me and I never really gave up on him. Ok, there was that one time that I went for about 3 or 4 weeks dating someone else, all the while thinking of my guy, but we eventually reconnected. I am happy about that.
I had to hurt someone’s feelings today and I don’t like it one bit. Not ONE bit, I say. I feel like a jackass.
I met a guy online a few days ago and had a good connection with him while texting. We set up a lunch date today and he tried to cancel at the last minute this morning. The way he did it gave me the impression that he is not confident – actually quite the opposite of confident. Other things he’s said in texting for the past few days supported this idea.
We did meet for lunch today. He was a very sweet, kind and seemingly a romantic type of guy, but the lack of confidence came across strongly. He also has a very serious medical condition that has no cure and can only get worse over time. He has Parkinson’s.
His low self confidence is my primary motivator for telling him I didn’t want to see him again. I don’t want to need to be the person to build him up. He needs to do that on his own while the love of his life supports him. She can’t be the foundation though.
I believe this is especially true for a person with a serious medical condition.
This is more of a humanity problem, not specific to Americans. We don’t know how to communicate effectively when negative feelings may be involved. It is a very simple concept, but one that is very difficult to learn to the point of it being the natural communication style we revert to when under stress.
Consider these two conversations.
You Statement – Placing Blame
Why do you always poke around when we’re trying to leave so we can be on time?
I Statement – Sharing My Concern
When you take a long time getting ready I feel stressed out that we’re going to be late then I feel grumpy for awhile after that.
The You statement puts the receiver on the defensive because it sends subliminal messages of blame. The I statement does not blame, but shares how the sender is affected by the situation.
I did something last night that I never thought I’d have to do. I blocked a cousin on Facebook because he seems to be a hater.
He’s a far right leaning republican and I’m a left of center democrat. Normally that is not a problem for me. I have friends like him and they provide well thought out opposing opinions. I respect their opinions because they share them civilly.
My cousin could not do that. Some quotes (in response to this article I shared):
dems want to live in tiny houses in the city with cameras on every corner so big daddy government can watch over them and keep them safe, as well as ride bicycles and drive prius…and pretend to be green….
everyone else wants to live on their own with land for gardens, hunting, and at least some resemblance of looking out for themselves and the ability to live off the land if need be w/o big daddy government taking half their paycheck to support lazy city dwellers
He probably thinks I blocked him because I disagree with him. I know the truth, though. I blocked him because I think he is just a negative person who I don’t want to interact with.
There’s a popular thought in the dating world that we should not talk about our ex and I don’t entirely agree with it. Here’s what we shouldn’t do:
- Bash our ex.
- Pine after our ex.
- Compare our date to our ex.
Here’s what I believe we should do, because it helps us to get to know each other:
- Instead of bashing our ex, we should discuss what worked and what didn’t work in the relationship. It is difficult to do this without mentioning the former partner.
- We should accept, especially at my age, that someone may have spent DECADES with their ex. I’ve known mine for 25 years and was married to him for 21 years. He’s had a huge impact on my life, both good and bad. And he is the father of my two wonderful boys. So his name is going to come up.
- We should focus on the message our date is trying to convey, not the fact that he or she is talking about their ex. To me, I’m not talking about my ex when I mention him (at least not most of the time and especially not in the beginning stages of a new relationship). I’m really talking about my feelings and reactions to events that occurred with him.
I have found a couple of men who understand these concepts and one who didn’t quite get it. He talked about his ex wife, but when I talked about my ex he quickly started accusing me of still being in love with my ex. Heck, even my massage therapist can tell I’m not in love with my ex (sorry dear ex – if you happen across this).
Sometimes I’m not comfortable just being myself. But I’ve made a deal with myself recently to do that. I still have thoughts like, “is this what everyone else would do, say, or think?” But I’m getting over it quicker and quicker. I’m much more at peace in my head. More than I’ve been my whole life.
This is yet another attempt at therapeutic writing. I really feel like I was the victim of false advertising. Here’s how it went down:
- See good looking guy’s profile and like how funny and intelligent he seems.
- Meet guy and have a great time for a couple of weeks.
- Learn guy has some medical issues that he’s in the process of fixing, but doesn’t want to spend time when he’s not feeling good.
- Be patient with guy, while he’s going through this process.
- Learn that guy has a hard time being the guy he presents on his profile. WTF – then change your profile to who you are NOW. Fuck wit!
- Go through a range of emotions deciding whether or not to continue with guy and decide not to.
- See that guy is still looking, but not on the site that you met him through. Hmmmm, OK!
- Guy says he never dated someone from that site while dating me. Says he’s currently incapable of investing emotionally in a relationship and I’m better off trying to find someone who can give me the attention I deserve.
- Go back to square 1 with dating sites, all the while trying to figure out WTF happened.
- Harden my heart because I realize that dating sites are bogus with too many frauds.
I was thinking to a time several years ago when my ex and I had one of our rare fights. I don’t remember the details, but our oldest son was very young and in trouble. The ex went overboard with yelling and in my mind “instilling fear” into the child. I was angry because I always moderately feared my dad and did not want my kids to fear their dad. Our voices were raised and my ex passionately declared (breaking my heart) that he is OK with the kids being afraid of him. Said he was always afraid of his dad and therefore minded and behaved properly.
I’ve been thinking about this for a week or more now. Mulling it over in my head, trying to figure out how this affected me as a child and how it could affect my kids if ex had continued on the fear path. Thankfully the ex did not continue on the fear path.
Fear is an unpleasant emotion. A fearful person believes that something dangerous is likely to happen. He or she feels something or someone may cause pain – and in my opinion it could be physical OR emotional pain.
In my case, the pain was emotional. I was never good enough. I didn’t do anything right. I was stupid.
I didn’t fully work through my confidence problems until I was in my 40s. I did some initial work on it in my early adult years, but truthfully it was mostly due to situational luck. It was not an intentional effort for improvement until I became a parent and realized I had a special needs child.
Back to the situation with my ex. I believe that he was suffering from an all to common parental misperception. I think that what he really wanted was respect – not fear. When you respect someone, you respond positively to their requests because you know they are capable and trustworthy. When you respect someone, you feel you are able to trust them not to cause you pain or unpleasantness. You are more likely to comply with their requests because you trust and admire them because they are proven their worthiness.
I choose to build respect in all of my relationships, especially with my kids. I want my kids to be able to rely on me because of my proven abilities, qualities, and achievements where they are concerned.
What do you choose?