Do you know what it really means to love another human being? Like knowing all of them and forgiving them for the complete “out of the box” random thoughts they may blurt out mid thought? Or the necessary body language or communication skills needed to prolong a relationship? I wasn’t always aware of these behaviors as a kid. I flail my body at music, giggle at the smell of a plate of beautiful art and use the same type of flavors to describe textures. I’ve got expressionism coming out of my ass; without context I am lost. My purpose in life was never to help others understand their own uniqueness by just being unapologetically me; it’s a heartwarming hobby I am not always in the mood for.
The hardest part of relationships for me is the touching and intimacy was not my jam at all in my first few relationships either because of the touching part. I am a giver; taking the time to support my partner and leave myself flustered with what it really is to love me, deeply. With Ryan, my life has changed. I no longer want to respond how I used to. Not because I am tired but because I am holding myself accountable for my own meltdowns, giving compassion instead of displaced anger.
Gary John Bishop’s, Love Unf*cked, brings us to that touchy subject, ourselves. Chapter 4’s, Taking on the Self, spreads how we are ultimately the worst part of a relationship. By bringing our personal experiences of what a relationship is supposed to be and hoping to mimic the same result without all the context within said relationship. The agreement that we make isn’t set in stone. The real deep, much darker, parts of ourselves we don’t share with anyone become triggers to arguments we have avoided our entire lives.
Bishop describes it better,
“How are you managing your own destructive traits? What have you put in place so you can powerfully manage your own hooks, triggers, and self-sabotaging ways? … Your general reaction to the suggestion of managing yourself can tell you a lot. If you’re dismissive or defensive, surprised, curious, or even all-knowing, the message is clear. You are not looking in the right direction when it comes to you and relationships because all of those responses indicate a distinct lack of awareness or ongoing management on your part.”Bishop, G. (2022) Love Unfucked, page 26. HarperOne Publisher.
Now who is to blame when this body language and communications fail to bring that intimacy to the next level? When will that flame become a steady flow or sizzle out without notice? What are some internal choices we can make to change those results for ourselves?
What Emotions Come to Mind?
As a child touching my foot was not always nice or “welcoming” to others. I was a kicker. It’s that unnatural feeling you get up your spine when someone tickles you. I hated to wear shoes and didn’t say much before the age of 4. “Welcoming” in the sense that I needed to rub my foot up and down your leg if I was scared.
As a child I would tell the most elaborate stories of what I saw down to the smell in the air, the colors people wore and how they flail their hands about as they spoke. My foster mom gave me all the time in the world to listen to me talk about my day, every day. It’s a habit I haven’t kept up with and that hurts deep; It’s not that I don’t want to talk with her. I just can’t bring myself to take any energy away from that woman anymore. She needs all she can store up these days for family visits and those beautiful great grandbabies.
I just wanted what the movies showed, or the tv shows after school. Where the boy chases the girl, and she falls for the bad boy softy instead. Not until my 20’s did I see the movies that made me believe that real intimacy existed. So many movies like The Duff or 13 going on 30 gave me hope for the nerdy girl winning the relationship at the end. Hope that even though I am freakishly tall, constantly loud, or hate feet and dirty floors.
I found flaws in myself just like everyone who hated me pointed out, daily. I was the butt of many jokes and would walk home crying just to tell my foster mom about the flowers I tried to draw or the clouds I could see from my hidden spot between two buildings during recess. I would slink from one class to the next in hopes I wouldn’t walk home crying again. My teenage years didn’t change any of it.
In my 20’s I started to buy makeup, fancy shoes, purses, skimpy dresses and go out drinking. I thought that if I had more fun than not, I would eventually spark my reason for being there. For putting so much energy into being present in the conversations being had around me. The unwanted touching was my last straw. Always make my exit by midnight so I am no one’s witness.
The amount of envy I once had for these “glory days,” but I did make a lot of discoveries about myself. Celiac disease explains so much more when it comes to my health. The worst part of the list was the things I needed were hugs, physical contact from another person. I needed to feel pressure to alleviate being overstimulated by noises, crowds, or what most have seen, emotional stressors. The worst is a personal attack on my motherhood because I lose all sense of control over my emotions and lash out with loosely tied inferences.
Brings us to my next emotion…
Have you ever just looked out into nature and decided that even a rainy day couldn’t change your mood; good or bad? Some time to reflect on why we are stuck within that emotional stalemate can dredge up triggers from the day, week, year. Bishop explains that step one is to manage you by being aware. How we are not as aware of our strengths and triggers when we first decide we have found “the One” and move forward with our lives, right? They hold some special key no one else had.
These types of expectations can destroy a relationship, personal morals, values and ethics too. They dictate where the eggshells are in the room. Needs that aren’t met become resentment. The worst is the opposite, helping them with their needs instead of dealing with your own failed attempts at adulting. Bishop, as always, puts it ever clearer,
“Relationship rule 567- Don’t do stuff to get stuff, don’t change to get the other person to change. Do what you do simply for the sake of who you get to be. When it comes down to it, it’s all self-expression anyway. We all bring our own destructive tendencies to a relationship, whatever they may be. Of course, some are bigger or smaller than others. Some are more direct or indirect. But we all have them.”Bishop, G. (2022) Love Unfucked, page 27. HarperOne Publisher.
Based on a thesis sized list I wrote after my divorce, and I have multiple things I do that drive me nuts when someone else does it. One of those childhood experiences triggers the same responses I got as a child spewing out of my mouth. The snapback to “no” or “what!” was my dad’s worst reaction; “Yes, dad” was repeated by me hourly. I read this week that our traumas are experienced by others as well. The bystanders’ emotions start to twist their perception of the past and future of those responsible; why witness statements are unreliable.
At these times I try to remember not only how I felt but how I could have felt if my answer was different. I want my children to have every aspect of life balanced and healthy. That means good and bad experiences. Bishop discusses the purpose of good and bad values and how they teach us to grow. Much like a tree I would expect; towards the sun by twisting every which way to survive.
I don’t want my kids to have to twist to survive. I also don’t want them to have to be a dandelion through concrete. I want them to see that giving your all is giving the other person the power to dictate more about who you are then anyone ever should. Compromise is healthy but never something we should do to please others. These compromises can turn into destructive recurring tendencies that Bishop mentioned.
The hardest part of dealing with ourselves is being honest with who we want to be and who we really are. The sweetest part of developing who we are and what we want are within the same cells we can’t seem to get off our phone. To dig deep means to remember the things we aren’t proud of or would do again if we wouldn’t break a hip. To come to terms with the experiences we missed because we choose to make bad choices based on bad values. Breakdown any walls we built to protect ourselves from even our internal bully; self-loathing comments is on my list.
How to Admit and Evolve
I clean more when I have company and not because I am worried about my lived-in house. I listen to Blacklist on Netflix to cook to stay close to the stove and not burn dinner. I sing in the shower if I have to wash my hair or shave because I will only do one leg a day if I don’t. Anything that takes me more than 15 minutes to complete will not get my full attention, not medicated, based on years of personal growth research. Writing this blog puts me in a harsh mood or a bawl bag; simple changes in my sleeping habit have me up at 4 in the morning writing and reading in peace to help with the pressure I’ve put on myself to get this done weekly; more accountability.
Mental intimacy is my jam and by that, I mean when you blow my mind, I might fall in love with you. Not the game of misconceptions or misdirection but one of intelligent conversation or watching anyone do something I can’t do. The need to share my day, not just pitfalls as an adult. I gave my everything to many of the relationships in my past; the first few got the most until now. The books call it a love language, I am just more confused by another layer of intimacy I need to understand and try to mimic.
During my last few relationships, I found more and more about myself that I didn’t like that they did that needed to be added to the list. The deep and dark part of myself I don’t want to get stuck in for too long. Like the spooky attic full of Jumanji shit or broken Christmas decorations no one wants to lug down those scary ass stairs. Half of the list was things I did for others I truly hated doing. Picking up dirty laundry is numero uno.
The touching part isn’t always bad like when I have to touch my husband with my foot so I can sleep is a personal need. Or if I want to nap, he has to lay with me or leave me alone. That last one is pretty normal for most. The fact that we need the physical touch of another human being to “ground out” was one of the hardest things for me to get around as a teenager. The idea that I need someone to ignite my internal flame or get shit done baffles my mind.
These days I add less and less to that list. Self-realization gave me a sense of freedom just like Bishop mentioned. Giving myself the space to make mistakes and remind myself that the hardest part is still ahead, death. The day I don’t get to hear my kiddos share their day. The parts they wouldn’t change and the parts that made them unhappy. The happiness we feel is the happiness we create.
On to the next one…
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