Posted by: Marie | November 17, 2014

(959) The dance of intimacy – Part 2 of 5

Post #959
[Private journal entry written on Friday, September 14, 2012 about a therapy session – continued from previous post]

————–

I told Edward that I wanted to give him an update around the concept of “organic unfolding” that he had presented to me at our last session. I told him that there had been many “ah hah!” moments for me since then – points at which I caught myself doing exactly what he had described – researching potential beaus, classifying them as viable or not, deciding what characteristics I could tolerate and which ones I couldn’t, creating a plan of action around what I would have to “become” in order to be “good enough” to attract them . . . oh, my goodness . . . I do it all the time! I haven’t been in the habit of just enjoying the company of these men, not worrying about what should occur next and how quickly it might occur . . .

(287)

Photo by Martin Chen

Edward commented that my relationship with my dad had not allowed me to learn how to interact with men in a way allowed for that organic unfolding – that I had had to orchestrate my interaction with my dad very carefully in order to psychologically survive my childhood. I agreed.

I went on to tell Edward that I’ve been taking a more playful stance in the way I think about interacting with potential beaus and it is opening up a whole new way of being for me. It also is affecting how I’m interacting with my students . . . I’m being more conscious about giving them my full attention, listening carefully to their stories before we settle into their lessons (like I wish my dad had done with me) . . . and I’m finding I’m enjoying the company of my students even more than before (if that is possible).

I asked Edward if he remembered the email I sent to George and then forwarded to him (Edward) in which I had written a relatively casual email asking George for the opportunity to get to know him a bit on a personal level. (I had written it with the concept of “organic unfolding” in mind.)

————–

Edward: Did George ever respond to your email?

Me: No . . .

I’m not surprised, but I am disappointed. It would have been fun to sit down with him, one-on-one . . . I mean, it would have been fun to try out the “organic unfolding” stuff with him. However, he never responded . . . but, I’m not surprised.

Edward: Tell me more about that . . .

Me: I guess my disappointment is tempered by the fact I never allowed myself to develop much hope. I knew from the git-go that he probably wouldn’t respond . . . I knew the chances I would ever get to sit down and have a meaningful conversation with him was pretty much zilch.

Edward: Did you really not have any hope?

Me: I had strong feelings for him . . . or, for the person I thought he might be . . . but, realistically, I knew there was really no chance anything would ever come of it. So, I really wanted something to develop, but I knew there was no chance it ever would.

Edward: So, why did you bother sending the email to him?

Me: I had nothing to lose . . . and I was hoping I could prove myself wrong. Because I knew there was no chance, I never let myself have much hope, which means that there isn’t much disappointment now, either. It’s just . . . well, it’s just par for the course.

(We sat without speaking for a few moments . . . I think Edward was waiting for me to say more, but there really isn’t more for me to say . . . this is just the way things are . . . what else can be said about it? It is what it is. I really don’t have more to say on the subject beyond what I’ve already said in the multitude of conversations we’ve had about it . . . I truly don’t have anything more to add.)

Edward: Is it possible that your beliefs around what is “par for the course” are inaccurate?

Me: Of course it is possible. I think it is most likely the case that my beliefs are inaccurate when applied to most people’s circumstances. However, I think my beliefs are very accurate when applied to my circumstances.

Edward: What causes you to say that?

Me: I have decades-worth of evidence.

Edward: Such as?

Me: Such as what happened with George . . . and what happened with Luke . . .

Whenever I try to connect with someone I think I might like to date, the same thing happens over and over and over again. I have no positive experiences to help balance out all the negative ones. It’s not like I just need to wade through the 90% of the experiences that are painful to get to the 10% that are healthy and healing and uplifting . . . there is no 10%. There is no 5% and there is no 1%. There’s only 0%.

(Long pause . . . )

Me: I understand that I’ve created a belief and now I’m going through life looking for evidence to prove that my belief is accurate . . . I mean, I understand that is the explanation that shrinks use to explain how I’m framing this. And, by seeing it that way, I should be able to frame it in a different way and hopefully generate different results.

However, if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, and it does so for 35 years, I don’t think I’m crazy to call it a duck because it probably is a duck . . .

Edward: A very old duck . . .

Me: (Cracking a smile) Yes, a very old duck.

(After a thoughtful pause) Sometimes you have to just call it as it is. At some point, you just gotta stop pretending things are someday going to be different. You can waste a lot of time and energy pretending something is going to change when, the truth is, it’s not going to change.

How many more years do I have to continue pretending this is going to change for me? Isn’t it okay for me to just accept things as they are and quit fighting to change it?

I was just hoping that I could have an experience with George that was different from what I’ve always experienced with men. He seemed like the kind of guy that could – would – interact with me in a way different from what I’m used to.

At least I now know what kind of guy he is . . . that he wouldn’t be careful about how he relates to me. Even though I had hoped for something better, at least now I know the truth about him.

Edward: I, too, am disappointed that he didn’t respond to your email, even if was only to say that it wasn’t feasible for him to get together with you right now. I’m disappointed that he didn’t at least acknowledge your reaching out for connection. I, too, thought he might be someone who would be responsive to you at least at that level. I’m surprised that he didn’t respond at all, and I’m disappointed.

————–

When I heard those words from Edward, I felt a wave of surprise come over me. It took me a moment to figure out why I was experiencing surprise . . .

Then, it dawned on me that I have been carrying a belief that it was unreasonable and silly for me to hope that men might acknowledge my attempts to connect with them. I’ve been carrying a belief that the norm is for men to ignore less desirable females like me and that I was living in a fantasy world to think that they might actually see me and respond to me. I’ve always believed that I’m desperate, and that my attempts to connect are ignored because that is the normal, expected response to desperate behavior.

However, Edward’s words indicated that it might be reasonable for me to expect men to respond to me in a way that acknowledges my efforts to connect and that shows appreciation for my efforts. His words indicated that such a response would be the minimal behavioral standard, that a man who ignored me would be behaving in a disrespectful and boorish manner, and that it is reasonable and normal for me to feel disappointment in response to that disrespectful behavior.

In other words, the problem is not in my reaching out for connection, the problem is in the quality of men’s responses.

Wow.

That took a moment to sink in.

[Continued in the next post . . . ]

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Responses

  1. Oh hell yes, Edward–that’s fabulous, and he’s exactly right…and this is such a hard concept for people (I’m one of them) who have been relentlessly criticized to really “get”–*other people are disappointing.* And sometimes you just don’t know whether they’ll be disappointing until you take the risk of trying to connect. Of course, we are conditioned to feel the lack of connection as rejection, but in many cases…the other person just fails to show up in a rewarding, responsible, or even courteous way. I’ll be very interested to see whether this information continues to resonate with you, as your writing continues.

  2. I agree with Edward – and David above.

  3. Hi, David and Evan –
    I think this is where my dad’s rejection affects me the most . . . when a guy doesn’t return my effort for connection, it stirs up all that historical pain, and that amplifies my current pain a hundred-fold.


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