Dating your parents (no not literally, thankfully!)

I subscribe to the theory that what we are attracted to in a mate is often a reflection of both the ways we’ve learned to accept love as children and the unfinished business we have with people who were close to us as children.

And of course, by ‘we’ I mean me. Continue reading Dating your parents (no not literally, thankfully!)

Care and feeding of the unconscious

scorpIf you believe in astrology, I can sum up my experience this morning with one phrase:

I am a Sagittarius with a moon in Scorpio.

This means that my inside and my outside aren’t always on speaking terms. My super open, transparent, honest to a fault Sagittarius outside persona is at odds with an inner Scorpio emotional self that would just like to keep all that sh*t secret and close to the chest. If it lets the information out to tattle-tale Sagittarius, she’ll want to be all open and authentic and sh*t, which makes the Scorpio part of me very unhappy.

My sneaky Scorpio moon fights back against all this dangerous openness by just neglecting to tell me how I feel for long periods of time, then suddenly wakes me up at 5 am on a weekend to tell me all about it, like the girlfriend who wakes you up in the middle of the night to ask you where your relationship is going.

This morning went down like this:

Uneasy dreams about being in a house with doors and windows that won’t even close properly, let alone lock, on a windy night on the third story or so of a low rise building with outdoor terraces.

This is Scorpio code for “your boundaries suck, dude.”

Then I wake up gradually ruminating about the dream and my jazz piano lesson, which I suddenly realized had been dumbed down for me because I didn’t really get the previous lesson. No wonder practising hadn’t sounded as good the night before, all the fun jazz stuff had been stripped out of the exercise after I complained I couldn’t remember it when I got home. I felt shame and frustration.

My Scorpio moon whispered to me. “What are you going to do about it?”

Well what can you do about shame in a darkened bed with a sleeping wife and chihuahua on a Saturday morning?

“You wanted to know how you feel.” Says the Scorpio moon nastily. “Now deal with it.”

But that wasn’t even the main course. As if pulling on the edge of a big knot that had suddenly come loose, all my week’s shame and anger came unravelling into my heart, spooling out from some place I hid it without knowing I’d done so.

The meeting I’d had yesterday with a team I supervise hadn’t gone well. It was the yearly review and while I’d collected feedback, I hadn’t given any.  A key member is moving on, and the remaining team, a performance troupe, isn’t up to the quality I need. I may need to cut some underperforming members and add others, which I need to do without completely demoralizing the group.  Complicated, murky and targetting the very area I feel insecure. The people I supervise are working musicians, and I am an amateur. What the hell do I know?  I know what I need them to accomplish and that sometimes someone has to be the heavy.  I feel a sense of my own incompetence in failing to address this at the time, my unease, and anger at my team.

Then I noticed the birds singing that “you’re up way too early in the morning” song they do when the sun is rising in the summer and I knew I wasn’t going to get back to sleep.

So what did I do? I got up and wrote about it here. Because shame doesn’t go away by ruminating on it in a dark room at 5 am. It goes away by shining light on it. Even if that has to be early morning on a Saturday.

Take that, Scorpio moon.

Staying present and moving at the same time

Unladylike
I have two books on the go right now. Writing, not reading. One is a novel I wrote about three years ago, which I’m trying to polish and complete. The other is a self-help book for survivors based on this blog. Both are well along and both have a lot of promise.

I’m having a hard time getting to them and working on them.

I like to write, but it’s so solitary. I’m not an introvert. I’m a highly sensitive extravert. I think about things deeply, but then they don’t really have lot of meaning for me until I share them, understand them by talking about them with others. I like to connect with other people, but I’m happiest if they are people I feel good around and connected with. My skin is not so thick.

The novel has three main characters. Two are recently broken up lovers, who don’t interact much with one another during the book. The other is the new lover of one of the women. I have the plot mostly mapped out, and am just working on improving the dialogue.

I’m feeling a bit dead and hopeless right now. Not that my life isn’t great, objectively speaking, but I’m lonely. My introverted, asexual wife is not really meeting my needs for socialization and intense connection, as you might imagine. She’s also highly sensitive, but in different ways from me. She’s picky about touch and smells, while I’m sensitive to sound mostly. It’s not that I don’t love her, I do, but I need more intense and engaged physical and emotional connection. I’ve been getting out and meeting new women, but nothing has gelled yet.

The self-help book is about reorganizing the material from this blog, identifying gaps and then writing material to fill them, also putting in transitions to make it flow and make sense, changing the voice from time to time. I want it to still stay immediate, a conversation between me and other survivors, but to flow like a book.

What has all this got to do with staying present and moving at the same time?

Well, it’s all about resistance. As a survivor, I learned to close myself off from triggers, from memories, from anxiety, from feelings. I have a hair trigger avoidance process that’s hard to turn off or sometimes even be aware of. If I’m feeling anxious about my skill as a writer or what will happen to my book(s) once they are complete (who would want to publish them, for example, and all the rejection that might involve), I just avoid writing, almost without being aware of it.

If I’m anxious about whether the cute girl from my poly group is actually interested in me or just being friendly, and realizing that I probably need to make a move at some point, I can just pretend to myself without even realizing it at first that being a sexual person isn’t really necessary after all, and that the corresponding loss of life energy is just a normal part of being middle aged. Eventually I might forget what it felt like to have an actual interested, engaged lover and even believe that. [By the way, if you’re new here, (welcome!) I’m not talking about cheating, I’m in an ethically open, polyamorous relationship]

So I was re-reading a book – never mind the name right now, it has the word ‘bliss’ in the title – that talks about two reactions to things: expansion and contraction. People do both all the time, and often alternate between them. However, people get locked into the contraction and it turns into resistance, or as I think of it, the survivors old friend avoidance. Anyhow, the author’s solution to this is to ask oneself two questions:

1) What is happening right now? and then
2) Can I be (present) with it?

The idea is that by accepting what is and then allowing oneself to experience it, it shifts a person from contraction to expansion, and opens them to being able to respond more capably and happily. I should note that being with something doesn’t mean you’re endorsing it, approving of it or interested in that thing persisting, it’s just basically our old friend acceptance, the last stage of grieving. Once I accept reality, I can make choices about it.

So I’m trying to get into the habit of recognizing and accepting what actually is.

I’m afraid of what will happen when I finish my books – won’t I want to try to find a publisher? show it to other people? What if they reject me / my work?

I’m feeling protective of my heart and worried about judgment, but impatient to connect deeply with another woman again. I’m still feeling sad and angry about being rejected by my last lover, and questioning whether she was faking how she claimed to feel and think about me. If that was the case, then was what I felt any less real? Does it mean I made a fool of myself to bring my authentic self into the relationship? No. I stand by what I did and said. But it makes me feel a bit naive and cheated.

I don’t know how to express this, but I’m a rich handful to be intimate with. I’m grounded in a way that makes other people grounded. This brings them in contact with themselves in ways that they may have been avoiding, but which feel like a completion. I think people connect with their own wholeness, because I give myself permission to connect with mine when given the opportunity. People like it but they can’t always handle it. I can’t always handle it either, which is why I dip into my own richness and then avoid, but I hunger for it and I think I do a better job of being present than most people. This is particularly odd given my inherent survivor spaciness, but perhaps it is the discipline involved in undoing that which has given me this skill.

Writing that, I’m wondering if learning myself how not to avoid can help me better recognize who I can be intimate with? It seems obvious that the better I am at being intimate with myself the better I can be intimate with others. It also seems obvious that if I’m attracting people who hunger for connection but can’t provide it, I may be ambivalent about that process myself. Do I really want to be intimate with myself after all?

One of the recommendations I read online for self care for highly sensitive people is to make sure you get enough sleep and alone time, to meditate for an hour daily and to exercise outside daily. I’m trying to implement that, which should perhaps help. Meditation, after all, is about being present with what is and just accepting it.

I know this all is a bit of a ramble, but I hope some of it makes sense. Perhaps I’ll write more when I’ve figured it out a little better.