December 10th, 2011
Finally move to my new webhosting company so I can post this week’s post.
I read Emotional Blackmail by Susan Forward this week, and while there is a lot to it, and a lot that does not apply to my own situation. I found myself realizing that while I don’t let others blackmail me, I may be doing it for them. I have hot buttons from my past, that I use against myself to control my current behavior. I scare myself into behaving certain ways, even though I don’t want to. So here they are, and my attempts to disarm them.
Fear of anger or raised voices. There was hardly ever any yelling in my house as a child. Occasionally, my brother or I got yelled at, but mostly when we were too young to remember or doing something dangerous. But there was a single instance where my father yelled at my mother, called her a bad name, and she left the house. I heard the yelling, I still don’t know what it was about, and I saw her drive away. She came back, I don’t remember how long it took, but that set a hot button in my developing mind. Yelling and anger equals a loved one leaving. I struggle with that one, I fear raising anger, I fear conflict. I have become a peacemaker, which is not bad, unless it is at the expense of my own needs or wants. I blackmail myself – don’t do that, it’ll make them angry. You don’t want to see them angry. What if you make them so angry they just leave? Which is unfair to the other person, I’m not giving them a chance – to react to what I want, or to show that it doesn’t make them angry. And unfair to myself – I am not being true to who I am.
Emotional responsibility. I know I’ve talked about this before. Especially in the Ethical Slut posts. But I find it hard to not feel responsible when my partners are sad/upset/depressed. Or at least responsible for making them feel better, or to avoid causing those feelings. Obviously, none of us wants to upset our partners, but I can also take this too far, into blackmail. Don’t say that, you’ll only upset him. It’s not really that important, you don’t want to make him feel bad. Look at how miserable he is, how could you do that? But I am not the gauge of what will make a person sad. I am not responsible for how they react and deal with things. I should not avoid things because they’re uncomfortable to talk about. It only leads to deception and bottling, which is way worse than a few tears before things get worked out. I can offer to help, and keep talking through things. But I should not try to stop someone else feeling their own emotions and reactions.
Self worth. I’ve often struggled with replacement fears since becoming poly. I’ve always struggled with my self image and self esteem. Those things have been growing by leaps and bounds since I found a community here that loves and supports me for who I am. But there’s a hot button left over from college and my second boyfriend. I tried to date him a second time(or was it a third, I had an odd dating record), late in my sophomore year. He told me, he didn’t need the ego boost that dating me gave him anymore. He was popular now. What a strange thing to say, and even odder still to internalize. What it wrote in my head was, I’m only needed by guys who aren’t confident or popular, I’m just an ego boost until someone better comes along. This has played a major role in my replacement fears – worrying the new girl is better than me, so I won’t be needed anymore. It took a much stronger sense of self, this last time, to not go there. I am finally fully confident in my worth, and did not feel that I even Could be replaced.
August 3rd, 2011
I was going to do the posts close together, but things keep getting busy. So, here’s the second post on The Ethical Slut, part II. This one focuses on Jealousy and Fear.
“No one can own another person.” (117) An important thing to remember, whether or not you are poly. You do not own your partner. (We aren’t talking about Master/slave ownership agreements here, that’s another discussion.) You are not responsible for their actions, and your every moment is not about each other. It would be a rather boring life for most of us to spend every waking moment with only one other person. There are jobs, and friends, and family and hobbies and a myriad of other things that are part of life. You share your life, poly or not, with many people, things and activities.
“Jealousy may be an expression of insecurity, of fear of rejection, fear of abandonment, feeling left out, feeling not good enough, or feeling inadequate.” (134) “[Jealousy] is a part of you, a way that you express fear and hurt.” (137) Jealousy is a normal human emotion. Everyone has jealousy at some point in their lives over something. It’s natural. And it can tell you when something is important to you. If it wasn’t important, you wouldn’t react to it.
“We imagine we know his thoughts, when in fact we are thinking about our fears.” (121) Our imaginations are great creators of fear. Sometimes, our imagination just leads us to silence or inaction. I can’t be that, he’ll say this. I can’t do that, she’ll think this. I can’t ask that, he’ll say no. How do we know? We don’t, we’re just projecting our fears onto our partner.
“You actually don’t know what your partner is doing. The images you see in your mind are the perfect reflection of your own fears.” (149) Our imagination gives us false impressions of what our partner is doing with others, or while out of our sight. We are afraid of what they are doing, afraid we’ll be hurt by it. “It helps to ask, “What am I afraid might happen?”” (131) We might imagine that the other person is better at it than we are. That they’ll enjoy it more with that other person. That we will pale in comparison. We might be afraid that he won’t want us anymore, or won’t want to do a certain thing with us anymore. We can really let our imaginations run away with us. That’s why communication is so important, before and after. So that we can stay in touch with the reality of a situation.
“What are the specific images that disturb me the most?” (148) It is important to figure out what triggers your fears, insecurities and jealousy the most. To identify major issues, so they can be named(often this, is enough to take the power away), discussed and perhaps disarmed. Or, if not disarmed, perhaps agreements can be made around them, to the benefit of all involved. No one wants to make their partners unhappy.
“Jealous might actually be envy.” (134) “When I’m not taking care of getting what I want, it’s easy to get jealous and think that someone else is getting what I am not.” (137) Are there things that you want that others appear to be getting? Are you asking for those things? Can you work out a way to have the experience you are missing so that you aren’t envious of the other person? It is important to take care of yourself, and your wants and needs. Don’t give jealousy any more footholds than it already has.
“Sometimes jealousy has at its root feelings of grief or loss.” (134) This goes back to economics of starvation, for me. Feeling like I’m losing something if someone else gets the same. Jealousy over fear of loss. I have to remind myself that someone else getting something does not take away from what I already have. And, it can even strengthen it.
“If you try to pretend that you are not jealous when you are, others will perceive you as dishonest, or worse yet, they may believe you, and see no need to support and protect you.” (138) “Denying your jealousy can lead you to act out harsh feelings in ways you will regret later.” (138) Expressing jealousy can be painful, but denying it can be damaging. It isn’t easy to admit you are feeling negatively about your partner, but letting negativity fester only makes things worse. If you can admit to it, you can then talk about it, and get through it. Together. A shared burden is easier to carry.
“The way to unlearn jealousy is to be willing to experience it.” (139) “You can feel jealousy without acting on it.” (140) Like any other emotion, jealousy does not have to take over. You can feel it and see it and deal with it, without letting it control you. This can take practice though, and time. And you have to want to. You are in control of you, even when you feel out of control. Ask for help when you need it, and jealousy is nothing to be afraid of.
“You and your partners need to practice talking about jealousy.” (151) I’m not sure how to practice, but talking about jealousy is the best way I know to get through it. Getting your feelings out, having them acknowledged and supported, if not agreed with, and then having help getting through them, is a great feeling. But that’s the next blog post, Emotions and Validation.
February 12th, 2011
An interesting week. Sorry for the late post, hopefully Monday’s tided you over until today. Last weekend was great, and I was happy to share my joy. This week has been about letting go, for me. As in relaxing, as in accepting uncertainty, as in moving forward instead of holding onto the past.
We have a toy. I have never had a toy before, someone I am responsible for and to, and who wants to please me, and us, from a bottom type role. I have also never had a trio relationship. Three of us in one relationship. She is Our Toy. Pleasing us, playing with us, trusting and trusted by us. It is a new situation to all.
So, full honesty here, because what good is a blog without occasional soul baring, I freaked out this week. I was going on all good and solid and just asking questions and trying to get clear answers, and feeling good about it all, if concerned. Then, I missed a bus… and in chasing after it, I got run over. At least I realized it, and asked for help, this time.
I started getting worried about the future. I started becoming afraid of the risk. I imagined all sorts of bad. I became terrified of emotional pain and hurt and loss. I wanted to try having a toy. I knew it was risky. But I got stuck on the question of accepting that risk.
He helped me. He let me talk and cry while he poked and asked pointed questions. He let me calm down while he said out loud what I was not listening to in my own head. Everyone gets hurt, we all hurt each other, life is risky, but it is worth it. It is fun. It is the way we grow. He even offered to stop it if I could not accept the risk. This is for Us, and if I’m not happy, then it won’t work.
So, I grabbed his hand and pulled myself up off the road. Invited her over, explained my fear and accepted the uncertainty and the risk. We still have a lot to figure out, as we move forward, but we all know it and accept it, so we Can move forward.
I had a couple other bits of letting go and moving forward this week, as well. They say that those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it, but there is a difference between remembering the past and clinging to it. Remembering mistakes of the past to learn from them is good. Remembering past pain and trying to avoid it again at all costs is bad. Trying to recover something purposefully lost or destroyed is bad. Building with the rubble to a better future is good, but I think that might be the topic of another blog.
So, let me end with the paragraphs echoing in my mind. I will not over think. I will not cast doubt in myself. I will not allow fear to consume me.
April 22nd, 2010
Failure of perfection. Perfection of failure. Fail again. Fail better. Make mistakes with confidence. Reach for the moon, even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.
I grew up with the expectation of perfection. All A’s in school or there better be a good reason. High test scores, do well in academic competitions. Best behavior, don’t cause trouble. Be polite and kind to everyone. Do everything to the best of your ability.
So, what happens when failure is the expectation? When the object is to push and push until you fail? When failure is the road to growth? How do I reconcile this with my ingrained desire for perfection? Which, when it comes down to it, has become a fear of failure.
Well, it’s just one more fear to overcome, then, isn’t it? What am I truly afraid of? What does failure mean? Why is it scary? Failure equates to loss, for me. Loss of face, loss of respect, loss of pride, loss of love, loss of approval. I need to rewrite this equation. Failure is the road to success. Failure is the path to learning and growth. Great things have been accomplished in the history of man through even greater failures. If I allow myself to be paralyzed by the fear of failure, I will never even try. I will never grow. I will never know what I could accomplish.
I have allowed my fear to stop me these past two weeks. I have let uncertainty and hesitation keep me from growing. I have given fear the control instead of giving it to him. I have failed to try. To top it all off, I even failed to see what was happening and to communicate it to him. Fortunately, he saw it, and he did not fail me. He turned on the light and shined it in my eyes until I could see, and kept it there until I could understand and accept and admit it.
Now I take the next step. Eyes wide open, I accept failure. I will walk out on the wire and not look down for the net. If I slip and fall, I’ll make a beautiful dive on the way down. I will, as always, do my best, but I will not let fear hold me back. I will accept the risks, enjoy both failure and success, and learn from them, too. There are things I want to do, places I want to go, experiences I want to taste, fears to overcome, limits to break.
I am so lucky and grateful to have people around me who accept me for who I am, for what I can and cannot do(this list gets smaller every day), and who push me to be better than I ever thought possible. Who, when I fall down, reach out a hand and help me back to my feet. Who believe in me, even when I am at my worst and who rejoice with me when I am at my best.