Archives for posts with tag: OPD

It’s a good morning. It was a lovely weekend. There’s not much else to say about either of those things. πŸ™‚ I miss my Traveling Partner so much this morning; the weekend was delightful, romantic, connected, and satisfying. I sit here smiling to have a partnership with someone of such heart, intelligence, compassion, and competence… who loves me in return. Pretty splendid. πŸ™‚

We didn’t just fall into this Love, of course; we built it. We built it on choices, using values, and verbs, and good communication. We treat each other well. We support each other. We set and manage our boundaries, each of us, and we each respect the other’s. We take delight in each other’s joy – even when we aren’t sharing it, even when it isn’t about us, even when we “don’t get it”; it matters most that the other person feels something so beautiful. We recognize they are having their own experience, and value each other’s agency as individuals. We nurture each other, and support each other’s goals, and each other’s work. Authenticity. Real respect. Reciprocity. Consideration. Compassion. Openness.

My “Big 5” values became most clear to me as I learned to understand what makes this particular relationship so profoundly good compared to others I’ve had. Respect, reciprocity, consideration, compassion, and openness are my Big 5 relationship values. I (now) build all of my relationships on a foundation that rests on these values. Why not? They are strong and steady, and foster solidly good relationships. Notice that “trust” isn’t there? Yeah… I am not convinced that “trust” is a strong value on which to build human relationships, personally. Honesty, sure, “trust? Not so much. I often hear tales of hurt, deceit, and woe, in which lost trust, or misplaced trust, or a lack of trust is a feature, and people somehow manage to feel fairly terrible that something they could have seen coming caught them by surprise. I’d prefer to know people, to see them as honestly as I can as who they actually are, based on behavior they actually provide, every day, as sample material. I don’t find it helpful to require people to affirm they are something other than they are; it only sets me up to be surprised and injured, when they turn out to be the person they have been all along. Better to see them clearly, accept them as they are, risks and flaws and all – and work to mitigate the potential harms in other ways, or walk on. For example: a friend known to gossip? Yeah… don’t share information or secrets with that person (and if they are doing you harm, are they a friend, in fact?). That’s a very simplified example, but it works with all sorts of character flaws.

Asking people to be someone they are not, however well-intended, then staying around to bear the consequences every time they disappoint us, or treat us badly, is one of the stupidest relationship models ever, of always (or so it seems to me). Choosing relationships with people who don’t share your values is fraught with complications and predictable painful moments. Sure, you can ask for change, demand it, even expect it; but the change is theirs to choose or to make. We make better choices when we are honest with ourselves about the people around us. Seeing them honestly, and recognizing who they are for real, without talking ourselves into anything, is a great beginning. I value authenticity… and real is still real if someone is really out of step with my values, but I don’t choose them for a partnership, or, maybe, any association at all, so there is real value in seeing people as they are as much as possible. If, for example, I know someone builds their life on deceit – why would I ever choose to become entangled with them romantically, however pretty they are, or funny, or willing to say nice words to me? Me, personally, I would not. It just doesn’t make sense to do that. I get the fuck out of there, fast, if it seems I have become involved with someone who’s relationship values, themselves, are so out of step with mine as to hold potential for emotional or physical injury. At least… I do now. It took practice, and a lot of self-reflection, and there were verbs involved.Β  πŸ™‚

The weekend with my Traveling Partner contrasted sharply with goings on in other lives, shared with me while catching up with this friend, or that one. Other People’s Drama. I listen. I can’t say I “understand”, exactly; I choose differently. I mean… I “get it”. I’ve been there. I’ve been the one hurt by lost trust… in the context of a relationship in which “trust” was a soap-bubble built on a fantasy that existed only in my head, in a relationship wherein a simple honest look around me would have told me the truth about all the lies. lol Yeah. I’m laughing. I’m laughing because crying about it is unproductive. Don’t like being lied to? Don’t make relationships with people willing to lie to you. Begging for their honesty and offering them your trust is… well, it’s what they’re counting on, because they are likely gonna lie to you, if that’s their way. Just saying. That’s how character works; people are who they are, based on the values they hold, themselves. Only. What they say to other people about their values is not relevant to the values they actually hold. The honesty I know I need to be able to “trust” most is my own. πŸ˜€

Not my circus, not my monkey. πŸ™‚

This weekend, particularly, was super low drama; my partner and I enjoyed each other. Drama stayed outside our small world with each other. although there was plenty out there. It was a lovely break to share. Weekends do end, though… and… look at the time! It’s already time to begin again…

…You can too. You have choices. There are verbs involved. You can start again now – or any time. You’ll probably need practice; your results may vary. Choose wisely – you matter. πŸ˜‰

 

My anxiety chased me slowly all day yesterday before finally subsiding during the course of an evening phone call with my Traveling Partner. There’s just been so much drama so far this year, of the OPD (Other People’s Drama) variety, that it eventually had begun to affect my consciousness, generally. The outcome? Anxiety at the thought of being any more distant, or distracted, or uninvolved, or unavailable to my partner than I absolutely have to be… making traveling rather anxiety provoking; it held the unspoken potential of somehow leaving him in harm’s way without my support. Yep. I take the safety of my Traveling Partner, and his well-being, rather seriously. I had become, in some fashion, literally “here for him”, and was losing my perspective on being “here for me” as well. lol Oops.

He is so dear, and strangely, humorously, wise; he pointed out that my trip would be taking me to a point almost the same relative distance from him that I already reside, day-to-day, and that digital communication being what it is, and friends, and personal resources, being as they are, certainly if any great need were to develop… I’m no farther away than I am right now. Well, damn. That’s some excellent perspective right there, and my anxiety could find no further foothold, and quickly dissipated, and has not returned. I woke feeling rested this morning, eager to enjoy the weekend with friends, and feeling chill and content. πŸ˜€

Well… I guess I’m glad I checked the weather for the weekend… lol

I’m packing light on this trip. I don’t just mean my baggage – I also mean my “baggage“, and that feels good. I’ve got clothes suitable for the weather, which looks to be… typical. Hot. lol Different than here. So different. I checked. πŸ˜€ I’ve got my laptop. My kindle (so… all the books). My device (camera, phone, tiny super computer…). A notebook… for notes, obviously. (Actually, it’s for writing poetry, which just “feels better” on paper, with ink, than on a keyboard.) That’s pretty much it; one small carry-on bag, with a couple changes of clothes and basic toiletries. I like to travel light – it’s so much less to fuss with and keep track of. This is true of my metaphysical, emotional, and social “baggage” as well… I feel so much lighter and less “weighed down” today! πŸ™‚

I’m seeing old friends this weekend. Dear friends. The very best of “friends for almost 30 years”, friends. As many of them as can make time for it on this trip down their way, who live close enough to work with me to make it happen. I have a peculiar sense of home-coming, returning to a place I haven’t lived for 20 years (as of this coming October). I also have a lovely sense of “this is already exactly as pleasant as I’d hoped”, in the sense that I have no specific expectations, requirements, or needs beyond enjoying a chill weekend away. πŸ™‚

55 soon… just 11 days. Numbers, emotions, time… it’s a good weekend to reflect gently on life, and to ask all the questions without worrying too much about the answers. πŸ™‚ It’s a good time to begin again.

I’m sipping my coffee thinking about challenges, struggles, and practices. Thinking about the discomfort of listening to one friend or another, in one moment or another, going through changes and the frustration of hearing them beef about how hard it all is… and make no mistake, it’s not easy, but… yeah. Do something, though. Just pissing and moaning about how hard life is to sympathetic friends doesn’t have much power to change anything.

Small changes are enough, and over time they make bigger changes. We become what we practice.

Hate all the drama in your life? Choose different relationships (or choose differently in the ones you’ve got). Practice being low drama. Create a drama free zone that is a sacred space for you. Set clear boundaries – and respect them yourself. Hell no, it’s not “easy” – what is? Practice. Then practice some more. We become what we practice.

Hate “who you’ve become”? Well… shit… become someone different than who you are now. I mean… yeah. It is actually “that simple”, although it isn’t “easy”, really, at all. It takes practice. Decisions about who we each are, are not enough – it’s the behavior that creates change in our thinking (although changing our thinking can definitely change our behavior – and you can mix and match).

While we’re on about it – maybe stop “hating” stuff? It’s a poor practice. It allows you to become good at hate. We become what we practice.

So… what are you practicing?

Today is a good day to begin again. Today is a good day to practice being the person you most want to be. ❀

Eventually, there comes a time when “forgiveness” comes up in many discussions of past pain or trauma (even very recent pain and trauma, honestly). Sometimes it comes in the form of someone seeking forgiveness, other times it comes in the form of someone wondering if providing forgiveness is overdue… or possible at all.

Forgiving someone for something they have done to hurt us isn’t about the person who hurt us, at all. That’s an important detail we sometimes forget (as do seekers of forgiveness). So… there’s that.

Forgiving someone for hurting me has been a peculiarly tender and personal thing to learn to do. It took me a while to figure it out; so often the conversation around forgiveness has seemed to center on the actions being forgiven, or the person, and it’s actually not at all about any of that. Forgiveness is letting go our attachment to pain – that deep down personal aggrieved attachment to feeling wounded, and carrying the anger associated with that hurt. Forgiving is the process of letting that go, and moving on, ourselves.

You know what forgiving someone is not? It’s not permission to repeat that hurtful behavior. It’s also not any sort of agreement to continue inviting that person into our life to continue a shared journey as though there had never been any hurt. In fact – forgiving someone has nothing at all to do with the nuts and bolts and practical details of whether they are a part of our life ever again at all. Forgiving someone else is a way of allowing ourselves to move forward from a painful moment.

I’ve long ago forgiven my first husband for the injuries and scars that still sometimes hold me back, or at least affect my day-to-day experience of health. I’ve forgiven my second long-term partner, now also an ex, for the prolonged slide into learned helplessness and chronic frustration that come from being gas-lighted and manipulated for years. I’ve forgiven childhood enemies for their transgressions, and adults more recently who’ve mistreated me in one way or another, over time. Learning to forgive became almost easy once I understood that to do so did not require me to also invite people back into my life to repeat those behaviors – there is no expectation or requirement to do so at all.Β I can forgive, and move on with my life, allowing them to move on with theirs.

Forgiveness is powerful. I highly recommend it as a practice. I also, and without conflict or contradiction, highly recommend maintaining – and enforcing – healthy boundaries. Respect your own boundaries, respect the boundaries of others, and yes, even when you’ve forgiven someone. Non-negotiable relationship deal-breakers remain non-negotiable, and also deal-breaking, even in the face of “forgiveness”. That’s totally correct and appropriate. That’s proper. Having forgiven my first husband for his violence in no way suggests or requires that I allow him back into my life. πŸ™‚ Forgiving him is for me, not for him.

When people seek forgiveness from us, the intention often seems to be to re-ingratiate themselves in our favor, as though “all is forgiven” also means “do over” and “no harm done”. That seeking suggests that the forgiveness is somehow about the person who has transgressed – but it isn’t, at all. I understand wanting to be forgiven; it sucks to ache with the pain of having hurt someone we care for. Too bad. It’s actually supposed to hurt if we hurt someone or treat them poorly; to remind us to do better, and to nudge us into making it right. Being forgiven doesn’t get someone off the hook for having to make amends, or somehow right our wrongs, and we’re mistaken if we assume that it does.

Being forgiven does not wind back the clock as though what was forgiven never happened. Relationships end on the backs of some pretty heinous deal-breaking words and actions – they should. Forgiving someone for those words or actions in no way suggests continuing the shitty relationship is going to be a thing, or that somehow the pain of what went down will just stop existing. We are each accountable for our actions. We face consequences – real consequences – for our choices, for our words, for our behavior, and whether or not we are forgiven by someone we’ve hurt, this is true.

I spent some time reflecting on forgiveness this weekend, having overheard a remark to the effect that “he’s not going to forgive me this time…” from a woman aware she chronically and repeatedly abuses her mate. I was astonished at the phrasing, which suggested she did not at all understand that the forgiving of her shitty behavior is not in any way related to whether or not the relationship itself would, or should, continue. It got me wondering about forgiveness, generally, and boundaries, and I found myself looking over past moments, myself, that I had forgiven. I felt pretty relieved that forgiveness has been so hard to learn, for me; the result has been that it did not become the kind of leverage that could be used to get me to “stay with a sinking ship” or “run back into a burning building”.

Here’s a thing that ranklesΒ me about that overheard remark; it also suggests that the speaker does not understand accepting forgiveness. Understanding that one has been forgiven requires a change in behavior – because accepting forgiveness implicitly acknowledges the wrongdoing. Once we know we have wronged someone, there is an obligation to change the behavior. No change? Well…um… why the fuck would a reasonable person expect that relationship to continue?? Furthermore, continued poor behavior, once forgiven, and having been acknowledged as poor (and undesirable) behavior – is willful. Yep. I said it and I mean it; if you know it’s unwelcome behavior, you’ve previously expressed regret for it, previously been forgiven for it, and you continue that behavior? You are deliberately, willfully, and yes on purpose,Β doing this hurtful thing. Seeking further forgiveness for the same shit is fairly sick, very manipulative, and in the face of chronic behavior, just a way of holding back that person you are hurting from seeking healthier relationships, and keeping them mired in bullshit with you. Particularly since the forgiveness isn’t about you. lol

For those faced with forgiving someone yet again for the same old same old, maybe also consider getting off that fucking hamster wheel at some point. Forgive, yes, but damn – respect your own boundaries, and be prepared to follow through on your non-negotiable deal-breakers. It’s okay to do that – and more to the point, it’s healthier to be free of abusive relationships than it is to attempt to “fix” them in the face of chronic mistreatment. Forgiveness is not tantamount to permission, or an agreement to ignore the damage done. πŸ˜‰

It’s a whole new day. It’s a grand one to forgive old pain! It’s also an excellent day to stand strong on your resolve to treat yourself well, and to respect your own boundaries. It’s a lovely day to begin again. πŸ™‚