I am the girl who was afraid to be herself until she was well into her 40s. I am the girl whose feelings get hurt because people try to change her and then disassociate themselves with her when she refuses to change.
Yes, that did hurt my feelings! But I am also the girl who has learned that what hurts me more is trying to be someone I am NOT — just to make others happy!
Sometimes I feel like screaming due to the amount of effort it takes to make a connection on dating sites.
I didn’t know that this is something appealing to me that has been just off my radar for awhile. Maybe a LONG while. It is something I’ve desired in many ways, in many situations. It came to light during a text conversation with Jazz Guy last night. Jazz Guy is a musician I’ve had one date with, but we clicked immediately.
We were talking about reduced stress in life and he asked how I got to periods of reduced stress. I gave a few examples such as getting divorced, seeing a therapist (or life coach), and getting massage therapy about twice a month. He gave me a great compliment, in my opinion. He said “You are very transparent. I like that.”
Then it clicked for me. I’ve been fighting against NON-transparency for a long time. I never knew what my ex was thinking or feeling. Half the time I suspect he didn’t even know. Add to that the fact that I didn’t know what I was thinking or feeling half the time – and you have a BIG mess. It was very stressful and my sense of peace has steadily been returning since our divorce. That does not mean he is a bad person – it just means that we really were not good for each other.
Fast forward to the infancy of my dating life. It became clear very quickly that many people on dating sites play games with each other. Some people do it intentionally and others unthinkingly. I can tolerate the ones who do it unthinkingly and I can usually get a decent sense for when that is the case.
I never knew what game was being played at any given time, or what the rules were. I would ask advice from my girlfriends, but much of the time I felt like they were further encouraging me to play the games. My internal dialog didn’t help either:
- Don’t reveal your true intentions or true thoughts, or you’ll look too weak, or too strong.
- Don’t tell a guy what you really think because you may scare him off.
- Don’t send a message or text until he responds to your previous one or you’ll appear clingy.
I’m done playing games. I’m ready to increase the transparency in my life. But what does that mean?
When applied to ideology, transparency means: free from pretense or deceit, easily detected or seen through, readily understood. I think that the primary action I am going to focus on is to continue to share my honest feelings and thoughts.
I have had a long term fear of expressing my opinion in general, but especially when it is in disagreement with someone. I have gradually been working through it and have made my voice be heard lately. Some people probably think I’ve made it be heard too frequently and too loudly. And sometimes I come on too strong or too negatively, so that doesn’t help.
Between finding my voice and my passion for knowledge and sharing of said knowledge, I have upset a few people. But I have also started dialog between a few family members in the area of carefully considering the impact of far right religious views when mixed with politics. There IS such a thing as too far right, just like too far left can have negative impacts.
This is why I share the things I share. This is why I comment on posts that make no sense. Some of it is because I want to understand why someone thinks the way he or she does. And some of it is to share my point of view. It is never to convert a person to my way of thinking. In a balanced conversation, all parties will learn and grow, even if no one changes their original opinion.
We live in a society where it is considered negative to disagree. I think that I would have agreed with that as recent as a few months ago. I no longer agree with it though. I believe that it has set us back as a country. Some of us are afraid to speak up, most of us can’t do it in a helpful or well thought out way, and many of us shut others down if they disagree. I’ve had at least 2 family members unfriend me, a high school friend said she’s unfollowing me, and who knows how many have slipped through the cracks unnoticed?
Yet employers are in constant search for good problem solving skills and critical thinkers. How do we build these skills in a world that is too scared to disagree? Or too worried about being politically correct? Or too prone to join in verbal combat instead of discussion with a focus on understanding. Or just not willing to hear opposition.
I struggle finding balance, but if you are a person I know face-to-face, please understand what I’m saying here. And please feel free to reach out to me with questions or concerns.
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.
A coworker who knows some of my personal background and how much stress I’ve dealt with over the years asked me if I am a church goer. I simply said “no” to begin with, hoping he’d just drop it. Well, he didn’t. He suggested that I might find a lot of support from church. I’m sure that is true, but it is not for me. I said I’m totally NOT a church person.
He actually said “oh, shame on you.”
R E A L L Y!
I feel no shame in the fact that I don’t go to church. I would feel shame – on the other hand – if I were to go and fake it the whole time. I would feel shame that I let other people’s beliefs direct my behavior.
If it works for you, great. I support you and will not try to change your mind.
It doesn’t work for me, so don’t try to change my mind, in the guise of saving me. And especially don’t try to assign shame to me because I don’t believe like you do.
I took some time off to think (a.k.a. – wallow in self pity). Really, I did both. I wallowed for a bit, then I thought, wallowed some more, thought and then experienced some personal growth.
I am the type of person who is giving and willing to go with the flow of people around me. I’m a follower, not a leader. There’s not really a problem with these characteristics, unless a person lacks the ability to STOP the behavior when someone is taking advantage. That was me. I didn’t know how to prevent someone from taking advantage of me.
In many relationships, a pattern is formed pretty early where one person gets their way the majority of the time. It’s not that they’re self centered or rude, it is just that their partner never stopped the pattern – for whatever reason. Their partner never spoke up about their own needs. As time goes on, the person who rarely gets their way might get frustrated when he/she really has something important that they want to have go their way.
I believe that I’ve made progress over the last week in #1) recognizing a negative pattern I fall into in my relationships and #2) speaking up about my feelings in regards to the situation. Not just walking away from the problem and hope it gets better magically.
Speaking up about my needs and feelings will help to prevent people walking all over me, even when they don’t specifically intend to do it. Since I realized my pattern and understood what to do about it, I’ve felt an emotional burden lift. Then after I spoke to the individual I was having a problem with, I felt even better. No idea if the problem will go away, but at least I didn’t just ignore it in hopes it would magically go away.
In my head I am screaming at Neo (click the link to find out who Neo is), “you suck at returning texts.” But what good would it do to say that to him?
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It would do NO good. It is an accusation and will put him on the defensive. Ultimately, it will not convey to him how I feel when he goes silent. It will not bring understanding or intimacy between us. It may make him run for the hills.
I do need to talk to him about it though, because it is disconcerting to receive silence. I know WHY he goes silent and I’m OK with that. I also understand that this issue may go away or be diminished once he gets a medical problem taken care of later this month. But for now, the silence is killing me. I want to let him know how I feel about it and request that he not go completely silent.
So instead of flinging “you suck at returning texts” at him (which my amygdala wants me to do); I will instead use my pre-frontal cortex to tell him:
- When I don’t receive a return text until Tuesday morning for the four texts I send on Monday, I feel like there is a lack of interest.
- I feel like maybe you are playing cat and mouse with me.
- I feel like I’m being tricked.
- I feel like I’m failing at a mind game where the winner sends the fewest texts, but just enough to make the other person want to keep texting.
- I feel like I should just wait until I receive a response from my last text before I send another, but that feels like playing a mind game. And that is NOT my style.
Neo, instead of going completely silent on me, could you send me a quick text to let me know you are not feeling good and can’t text or talk just now? I will respect that and not be upset. Getting a brief text or call like that will alleviate my fears and help me to look forward to communicating with you when you ARE feeling better.
I was messed up in my head Friday and wrote my first poem since school.
Full of Hate
I am full of hate today,
With fire filling my mind.
How to deal with this, I say,
For I don’t like to feel unkind.
With this I decide to write,
For writing heals my soul.
If I were to choose to fight,
The demons would win control.