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.
November 3rd, 2011
I don’t know what to post about this week. One of my best friends suggested monkeys. I’m not all that into animals, and monkeys tend to be into scat play, as well. So, I’m just gonna ramble a bit. Whirligig, whirligig, spin spin spin. OpenOffice tells me that’s how it’s spelled. Wants and needs, where’s the line? Emotion is to reactions as logic is to solutions.
Needs. There are physical needs: food, water, clothing, shelter, air. There are emotional needs: love, self-worth, respect, and happiness. Then things get a little muddy. Or perhaps they already were, as meeting those emotional needs can mean a lot of different things. And I tend to get a little muddier around happiness, though I put it on the list. Happiness is nonnegotiable, in the long term, but is unrealistic to expect every moment of every day. Things go wrong, arguments happen, mistakes get made, people get hurt, tragedies occur. But when all these needs are being met, including happiness, it’s hard to feel like life is all that rough.
Then there are the six basic human needs that they talk about in the kool-aid circles, let’s see if I can remember them: Certainty, Variety, Significance, Connection, Growth, and Contribution. I only forgot significance. And, according to Mr. Robbins, everyone puts very different value on these six things. Personally, certainty is the top of my list, followed by connection(love). The rest jockey for position regularly, with significance generally(but not always) coming in last in the broad scheme of things. They say opposites attract, so you know, with certainty at the top of my list, I’m attracted to people for whom variety tops the list. I couldn’t say for certain it is the Very top for all of them, but it certainly seems to rate high.
The ones I rate lower, I tend to feel cross over the line from need to want for me. But it’s that line that gets a bit fuzzy for me. I want to learn new things and grow, but do I need to? They say if you stop learning, you’re dead, but active growth often gets put on the back burner for me. I want to contribute to the world through my writing, but I don’t need to. I appreciate every private message saying how people enjoy my blog or got something out of it, and every comment that gets posted, but if it was really a need, wouldn’t I put more work into it? Significance is trickier. As long as I am important to the people who love me, do I really need to be important to anyone else? Given what I enjoy doing, and what my family do for a living, I’d say staying off the national or world stage is probably best for everyone. Variety. It’s true that I enjoy new things, that I like a lot of different kinks, that I’ve often had two or three partners. So, I certainly enjoy variety, to an extent. But I’m not someone who goes to a big event with a dance card, or is looking for many partners. I don’t want a stable, I just want all my needs and most of my wants met.
So, what about certainty and connection. Well, connection basically means love, and I’ve already listed that at the top. An absolute need. Certainty is what drives me crazy. Look no further for emotional break down than for me to not know what is going on or what to expect. Now, I don’t mind a bit of spontaneity, I enjoy unplanned scenes. But if I don’t know where I’m sleeping on a night, I get a little antsy. If I don’t know how bills are getting paid, I freak out. If a new shiny appears and I don’t know her intentions, or his, I get all wibbly-wobbly. (OpenOffice doesn’t know how to spell that one.) If I’m told something might happen, maybe, but I don’t know what, I get all nervous and jumpy. I like plans. I like lists. I like schedules. And yes, sometimes it’s really hot to be grabbed and dragged off at a moment’s notice for some unplanned, but much needed stress relief.
So what about that line? Needs – Wants. If I have all the physical needs, and emotional needs, and certainty met – is everything else just cream on the top? How do I judge happiness being met? Play makes me happy, not playing doesn’t necessarily make me unhappy. But not playing for a long time can. Or not playing when I really, really want to can. But then, I control my reactions (usually), so if all else is good, not playing shouldn’t make me unhappy. There’s always tomorrow, tends to be my rational to achieve that. Private time with him and hubby makes me happy. Not having that private time on a particular day is disappointing, but it’s not the end of the world. Spending time is always happy, but that doesn’t make not spending time a necessary sad. I think I’ve lost my point in here somewhere. I’m trying to sort out whether play, time and private time fall under needs or wants. Given their relationship to happiness. Which isn’t only direct, they also affect the health of the relationship, which is a source of happiness. They are all ways in which affection and love are expressed, but a lack of one does not equate to a lack of love. Most often it is a lack of time, or opportunity. So, they are not necessarily needs in and of themselves, but are wants which fulfill both the needs of connection/love and happiness.
Then we get down into specifics. Specific types of play, or time, or private time. Specific types of affection and attention. Those are certainly wants. None of them is specifically a need. They are, again, ways to get needs filled, and we often say “I needed that,” but I’d say they are strictly on the want side of the equation. We are referring to the emotional need that got filled by the action when we say we needed it. So, it seems, by my rambling, that for me, the more general a thing, the more of a need it is, and the more specific, the more it lands in want territory.
Toy commented to me she’d been advised to feel her emotions before solving problems. I agreed with this statement. Often, I react emotionally to things, and on the surface, I think the problem is one thing, but as I’m reacting and talking about how I’m feeling, I dig deeper and find the real problem. If I try to solve the problem at first reaction, often I end up trying to solve the wrong problem, or even one that doesn’t really exist. So, I’m learning to ride through the emotions, often getting him to help me dig into them, so I can find out what’s really bothering me and deal with it. A brown leaf, when cut off, doesn’t fix a poisoned root.
The other half of that, is if I ride through the emotions, feel them all and let them rise and fall. After it is done, then I can be logical and find solutions. Nothing drives me more crazy than when I’m reacting and being emotional, and he throws logic at me. I’m often not ready to be logical, yet. Though, sometimes, it’s enough to snap me past the emotions to the point of logic. Other times, I just need to cry, let it out, get all the emotional baggage out from behind my eyes and between my shoulders, or I’m just going to be useless and run in circles. Emotions are good for finding problems, logic is good for solving them.