Archives for posts with tag: relationships

I read a post online today that frankly offended me. Did you see it, too? It was so… well, you saw, right? :-\ Lingering outrage is a pretty common reaction. Sharing it. Talking about it. Coming back to it again and again. Writers, advertisers, and media outlets count on it; it drives “engagement” to get people mad or to offend them. Engagement means $$, or so goes the common thinking about such things. It seems to be true.

I didn’t link the post, no. That was deliberate. Why would I need to link it? Are we not offended, equally, by all the same things because all such things are entirely obvious?

LOL You know I’m messing with you there; it’s a ridiculous idea.

My apologies for messing with your head. Here’s a flower. ๐Ÿ™‚

We are each having our own experience, and the fun meme that made you laugh sooo hard that one time? Maybe that was a thing that hurt me to my very core, leaving me shaking and triggered. Isn’t that possible? Isn’t it equally possible to simple reverse the circumstances – you offended, me amused? Sure, it is. That’s the thing about being so individual, and why the idea of “equality” can be so tricky, linguistically. It’s tempting to let the abstract word games obscure our awareness that real people are really affected by… all of it. The words, the choices, the actions, the memes, the assumptions, the reactions, the excuses,ย  – every bit of all of it is part of a very complicated larger whole thing. We are human. We are all quite human. We are each having our own experience. We are unique and individual. We are a lot alike. We are all in this together. We each have to walk our own hard mile.

Are you right about what “is” offensive? Am I? Even if either of us are “right” about something we understand individually to be “offensive”, what is the value of our individual experience relative to the existence of all of the individual experiences of each of the other human beings also having their own experience? Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness… Don’t kill me. Don’t confine me. Don’t coerce or force me. It’s that “pursuit of happiness” that is such a challenge, is it not? Do I get to pursue my happiness in any way that undermines your ability to pursue yours? I would not expect to. Perhaps you think differently? Then what? And what of being “offended”? If I am offended by your words or actions, but those words or actions in no way do me any damage, risk my life, reduce my liberty, or stop me from pursuing my happiness…? What if it is my actual existence that offends you? Do I no longer have the right to be? It doesn’t follow that such would be the case, does it? We know better than that, at least …don’t we?

Here’s the thing about “being offended”; it’s an emotional experience. If I feel “offended”, that’s mine, and it can’t be taken from me any more than my anger or my sorrow can be taken from me (i.e.; only if I allow it); my emotional experience fully and wholly belongs to me. No one gets to tell me how to feel, how I “should”ย feel, or that my feelings are not “okay”. Having and experiencing my emotions is mine. Changing how I feel? Mine, too. People sometimes do or say things that result in my having an emotional reaction to what was said, or done. My emotions are still my own to experience – and mine to manage. It was a long journey getting to that understanding. Understanding that my feelings don’t dictate reality or obligate others to action was farther still to go. Understanding that my feelings are only feelings – sensations, emotions, perceptions – which are also exceedingly easily manipulated, was a bit farther still.

I generally don’t continue relationships with people who regularly do or say things I find “offensive” or specifically hurtful to me. I am learning over time that ending such relationships is important self-care. It’s not for me to choose someone’s values, or dictate what they may find amusing or acceptable; if I am offended by something, that is a reflective of my own values, and for me to resolve. Taking care of myself isn’t on their “to do list”. Simple enough, generally. Having taken this approach, as an individual, though, I find myself occasionally in the awkward situation of interacting with someone I’ve offended (usually with some thoughtless remark), who clearly has the expectation that I will take steps to “fix” the situation beyond a sincere expression of remorse for causing them upset, and making a point to understand their experience in context. I mean… yeah. I wouldn’t cause offense willfully, with the intent of hurting someone. That’s just mean. That’s not who I understand myself to be, at all. I am, however, capable of causing offense just by being the person I am… depending on who you are yourself, offense could occur. I’ll apologize for offending you, I surely will. Next step is for you to walk away, if there is a fundamental mismatch of values that may cause the offense to recur. Take care of you. I’m not likely going to be changing the person I am solely to avoid offending you, under most circumstances

On another hand, though, I do enjoy authentically connecting with other people, and I don’t enjoy hurting them. So, when I learn that something I am likely to do or say, particularly with any regularity, or by any preference or defining characteristic of self, is reliably offensive or hurtful to others, I take a long close look at that, and ask myself if that is who I truly want to be, and does it really reflect my values? Because it matters. Because I do care. Sometimes, I even care enough to change who I am, or how I express myself, in order to be a better human being, just generally. Sometimes, upon reflection, whatever the potential offending moment is doesn’t seem to be a thing I want or need to change, for myself, and I choose instead to stand firm on those values, understanding that my choices reflect my character, my values, and define who I am. I recognize that not everyone is going to find me likable. That’s okay, too.

My swearing, and sarcasm, are good examples to use to illustrate my point.

I swear. I swear rather a lot. I sprinkle my writing and my speech with swearing. Feels naturally expressive, and I use it as a sort of verbal punctuation. There have been times in my life when individuals of varying closeness have expressed a distaste for, or even been offended by, my swearing. I reflected on that long, and often, and chose not to change, other than refining the way I do use such language to be more limited, more specific, and less likely to be a direct attack on another person.

Sarcasm, on the other hand, once flowed from my lips like a singer’s song, and as it turns out, I’m also a bit “tone-deaf” in that form of speech. I can dish it out, but don’t understand it reliably when I hear it, and did not understand when I was much younger how easily people can be hurt by sarcasm, or how easily confused if they don’t recognize it, or at the extreme edges of the verbal form, how little difference there may be between sarcasm and, say, gas lighting or deceitfulness. It has a lot to do with whether or not the listener realizes what they are hearing is sarcasm. Turns out quite a few people, including me, often don’t recognize sarcasm when they hear, or read, it. I reflected a lot on sarcasm, and how I used it, how I received it, how I understood it – and how commonplace it is that someone else doesn’t realize what is being said could be being said sarcastically, resulting in misunderstanding. I chose to change. I rarely use sarcasm, even as humor, at this point in my life. Now and then, and usually without realizing I’ve done so until too late to reconsider, one might still hear sarcasm from me. It’s rare. Very rare. More common is to hear sarcasm in my speech and misunderstand me – because I wasn’t being sarcastic, I was perhaps, just… wrong. Or thinking I was being funny (I’m not that funny, and I have a very weird sense of humor based, primarily, on wordplay, and the layers of meanings of words). These days I try to stay very deliberately away from sarcasm. It’s hard to do well without hurting someone.

When do words matter? When don’t they? Language functions by agreement. Communication is most effective when we understand each other. We build healthy relationships most easily when we don’t use language to hurt each other. Explicit clarification of our position is more readily understood than implicit acceptance of assumptions. These things seem obvious to me. They resonate with me, personally, as fundamentals of speaking, of listening, and of being heard. I found it worth changing, to make use of these principles with greater ease. There are still verbs involved. I’m quite human. I still find it necessary to “check myself” now and then in a moment of frustration, or annoyance. Still, I have a good idea of who I want to face in the mirror each day, and what her values truly are. I make mistakes. I can begin again. I become what I practice. ๐Ÿ™‚

I am getting over this cold fairly quickly, and chose to work a partial day from home to balance the urgent needs that are to do with work, with the also urgent need to care for myself. So far so good. ๐Ÿ™‚

I woke to a misty rainy morning. I stood in the open doorway to the deck with my coffee before dawn, feeling the cold Spring draft coming up from the seasonal stream beyond the yard. It was lush. Lovely. Chilly. So very quiet, at least until the early commuters began to make their way down the road toward the city.

I worked awhile. I enjoyed my coffee, and laid plans to see work in progress through to completion, based on new information. I considered open projects, and took on tasks I was up to. I worked, comfortably. I can reliably say I didn’t get anyone else sick with this, today. ๐Ÿ™‚

In between the work spaces, tasks, and actions, there was Spring. The misty pre-dawn twilight became a rainy gray dawn. It is now a soft neutral gray morning, a steady rain falling, small stinging Spring droplets, almost just a mist, but falling densely enough to soak through clothes rather quickly. I watch it from indoors, smiling. The garden doesn’t mind the mist, the chill, or the rain at all. Seedlings sprout. New shoots break through bare soil. Birds and chipmunks explore the changes since yesterday, hoping for a bite of breakfast.

Spring.

I answer emails from friends once I’ve ended my few hours of work for the day. There is so much satisfaction in doing so. I feel connected, visible, enriched, and grateful. Hell of a good start to the week, in spite of being sick.

Spring. Today. This moment, right here. It’s enough. ๐Ÿ™‚

Life is messy sometimes. Challenges I didn’t expect come up, and I’m not always prepared. I don’t think that’s out of the ordinary. Quite the contrary; I think it’s wholly commonplace. How I deal with bullshit, turmoil, change, and challenges, defines me. You, too.

…It’s back to the “who am I?” question. lol

So… who are you? How do you tackle challenges? How do you manage change? How do you handle bullshit? How do you cope with confrontation? I think these are all the same question – and that question is a difficult one to answer in a simple way. What are the defining characteristics that make you the person you are right now? I guess the follow-up is, “is that who you want most to be?”

…Well, is it?

Today I make a journey, more physical than metaphysical, and along the way I will be this person I have become over time. I reflect on that as I dress, and brush my hair. I reflect on that without my coffee, rather oddly, choosing instead to get coffee along the way. A treat. A convenience. A part of the journey. I’m not clear on whether I am “enjoying the moment” or “getting this out of the way”. Maybe it’s both. ๐Ÿ™‚ I am eager to go – because I am eager to return home.

I’ve made this same drive so many times, to see my Traveling Partner, feeling as though the destination was “my true home”. Love is a luxurious home for my heart. Now, he’s here, sleeping in the other room… My trip this morning doesn’t feel like a journey to my home, unless I consider myself a boomerang… flung far, returning soon, to this same point. lol The relaxed evening we shared last night still warms me, and lifts my smile to my eyes.

Journeys being what they are, it’s very nearly time to get going. I consider the journey ahead, and wish myself well. See you back here tomorrow. ๐Ÿ™‚

An excellent cup of coffee in the morning, and random thoughts chasing other random thoughts. I sat down with my coffee, and without a plan. Cars start up in other driveways, and there is a steady shhh-shhh on the road beyond the driveway as earlier commuters than I make their way toward whatever job they do. They’ve got theirs. I’ve got mine. Another day.

I’m not blue, or anxious, or fretting about some small thing of little actual consequence. I’ve still got this “headache” – let’s call it a headache. Convenient to have a word for it. lol Life is… life. Choices are made and acted upon. Promises are made, and kept – or broken. Trust is established, then breached. Humans are being human. Everywhere. All of them. There is no point in catastrophizing some one detail; it is fairly commonly the catastrophizing, itself, that is the stress and the drama. Still, we seem wired for it.

A flower, a morning, a beginning.

I yawn. Let all that go. Sip my coffee. Listen to the rain fall. Sit, present, in the morning stillness, waiting to begin again.

Things have been so peculiarly perfect in some regards, it’s been easy to become complacent about how good life is day-to-day, and how content I feel, generally. Tactical error, I agree.

I woke groggy this morning, head pounding from the headache I spent the night with (not a metaphor – I wish it were). I woke with Pink Floyd in my head. I don’t know what that says about anything. I also woke feeling vaguely embarrassed and slightly ashamed of myself. No point to any of that, it’s just my demons enjoying their moment to shine. I’m over it already. Drinking coffee, beginning again.

Frustration is my kryptonite. Last night, yet again, the closed captions on YouTube videos were on (I don’t use them, haven’t turned them on). This has come up before. It frustrates me, and creates some internal resistance to conversation, some irritability, and causes me to question my sanity – and to feel as if my partner questions my competence, every time he seeks to help with this. Hell, depending on which device I access, the closed captions are not even turned on, at all. Glitch? Bug? Well, maybe, maybe not, but it irritates the hell out of me, and leaves me feeling as if the fucking internet is gas lighting me.

…Do you see where this is headed?

So… yeah. My partner offers to help. I perceive “a tone” (doesn’t matter whether there was a tone, it’s the perception that triggers the reaction, and I explicitly understand this). I react, rather childishly, and although it wasn’t any sort of “thing” really, it created an uncomfortable moment rich with hurt feelings on both sides. I could almost hear my fucking demons laughing their asses off. We got past that; we’ve been together too long, and worked too hard on our own issues, to let something so ridiculous ruin a lovely evening. My headache wasn’t helping. Still, the evening ended on a good note, affectionate, connected, and real. It wasn’t left to chance. I made a firm point of very specifically letting all that bullshit go, even announcing that it was my intention to do so – which is probably a weird thing to say out loud, however effective it may be. It was still some minutes before my chemistry began to return to some sort of normal. (I find it helpful to remind myself that as with ingested substances, our chemistry can provoke “a high” specific to the chemical involved, and the “come down” – both in intensity, and in duration – varies with the circumstances and with the chemistry.) I still felt a bit distant when I finally called it a night and went to bed. I wasn’t sure I’d sleep with this headache…

…I guess my headache got some sleep too; it’s ready for a new day, today. lol (groan)

I drink my coffee. Reflect on my good fortune. Take time for a moment of gratitude, and to appreciate my Traveling Partner; he “gets me”, and understands my issues nearly as well as I do myself. We do okay. Last night fell short of supremely awesome, but it was still spent in the good company of this human being I love. That definitely matters more than a moment of stress. Life is filled with moments. A few of them are going to be more challenging than delightful. That’s just real. I’m okay. There’s no lingering ill effect, which is lovely. This moment, right here, is just fine – aside from the headache, which will hopefully pass. My coffee is warm, and delicious. The workday ahead should be a more or less routine one. I decide to ride the light rail again this morning, for ease, and laugh at myself because I said as much yesterday, ended up driving in and parking on the waterfront. (Yep. In the minutes between deciding to take the train, and getting the car onto the street to go to the park-n-ride, I entirely forgot that was my intention. lol) This morning, I think I’m firm on the decision-making… I’m probably not; I’ll know when I get in the car and “feel the day”. Maybe a lovely drive before dawn on a Spring morning is exactly what this headache needs?

I smile, thinking about my garden. There are flowers sprouting in big colorful pots, already. A couple of the roses have buds on them. I came home yesterday to an excellent new hose, and a new spray nozzle, which delighted me greatly. I sip my coffee reflecting on that moment, and enjoying how well-loved I am, and feeling an intoxicating mix of gratitude and love for this human being who loves me so. I notice the time, and instead of rushing off promptly, I remember that my day needs to end a bit later than usual, and so I have time to linger. Feels good. I hear my partner stirring in the other room. Coffee together, too? Maybe so… Great start to the day.

I begin again. ๐Ÿ™‚