Relationships

Epiphanies of Shame

I’ve started and stopped this post repeatedly over the last few weeks. I can only describe this particular difficulty with posting as the writing equivalent to avoiding someone’s eyes. As I stated in March 1’s post, this relates directly to the same reasons I was physically incapable of controlling my eye contact with my therapist when we pinpointed a particularly painful memory.

The basics of the memory are described in that post. However, since my therapy session, a few other experiences kept poking at that same set of emotions, choices and actions. This repetition is what caused the epiphany. And, like many such revelations, it hit like a Mack truck.

It’s been so hard to face that epiphany that I have had anxiety attacks just about looking closer at it or dealing with the understanding.  I’ve been having to focus on things that deal entirely with mathematics, even though my ability to do so has been seriously retarded by my cognitive issues. Dealing with pure equations — even though it takes me at least 10x as long (in fact, almost 70% of the last two weeks has been spent creating a completely math-based set of data collection for my physical and mental health). Before my breakdown, the data collection set up for simple data entry would have taken at most 8 hours).

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Categories: Feminism, Mental Retraining, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Teenaged Angst: 31 Years Later

Yes, another therapy post. You can pass on by if you want.

We were discussing relationships, and she asked me a somewhat off the wall question, at least from my perspective. I can’t exactly remember the question, but it was essentially one where she wanted to know if there was any specific memory that seemed to be associated with what I was feeling.

It took me straight to Homecoming of my senior year in high school.  Now, you have to understand a few things about my high school. It was a boarding school, and I was what could be called a “scholarship student.” I worked as a dishwasher at least both my junior and senior years, and my parents got loans either from family or from the church body that owned and ran the school (yes, it was a religious boarding school owned and run by a very conservative, evangelical Lutheran synod). We were not allowed dances, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t have those “special days.” It just meant that it was more about speeches and awards than about having some — hopefully — semi-clean fun. We had a joke about it (that I told my therapist) that we weren’t allowed to have sex because “it would lead to dancing.” Also, since it was the 80s, and most of the huge anti-hazing laws had yet to be created, there was a form of hazing for incoming freshmen. Anything (short of illegal or against the rules) that an upperclassman (juniors and seniors) told them to do, they were supposed to do.

I was, for a good portion of my high school years, the almost asexual, advice-giving friend. My senior year, I decided to take a risk. I asked an older freshman that I had been hanging out with to go to Homecoming with me.  I wasn’t expecting some huge romantic relationship, just having an escort for my last Homecoming of my high school career.

He stood me up.

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Categories: Mental Retraining, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Why Your “Faith-Based Appeal to Reason” Rings False

NOTE: Remember — while I am a Wiccan now — I am also an evangelical pastor’s daughter, attended religious schools from 5th grade until my sophomore year of college and continue to have Biblical discussions with my entire family, including the nephew who is following in his grandpa’s footsteps. That wealth of  Christian doctrine and Biblical understanding doesn’t just disappear simply because I converted to a different religion.

I’m seeing and hearing quite a lot of people who are on the conservative side of the spectrum trying to talk those who are on the liberal side into “giving President Trump a chance.” Heck, even President Obama is encouraged the country to do so.

And many of them take the stance that since he is President that he was anointed by God to that position.  Looking at it from a Biblical standpoint, that stance is supported by the Bible. It is particularly noted that many of them also use Mark 12:17 (“Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”)

But, that is also where the problem with this stance comes into play.  They have chosen to look only at Mark and not some of the other chapters and verses that discuss this in more detail. Let’s look at a couple of places taken from the Bible that speaks to this specifically:

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Categories: Christianity, Relationships, Religious Ruminations | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Romance: for the sake of love

 

I have quite a number of hang-ups about my romantic relationships. Frankly, enough to put a few therapist’s children through college.

And, no, it isn’t about my ex — other than to be yet another clue about why I stuck around so long.

It comes down to a fear of being alone.  But it is a very specific kind of being alone: only romantic loneliness.

As an ambivert, there are times when I need to be alone, and times I need to be around people.  And I’m good with that.  I don’t have a lot of fear about friends and family.

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Poly Myths & Poor Relationships

Since today is my 48th birthday, and I’m not interested in talking about deep emotional issues or about politics or just about anything that might piss me off, I thought I’d offer some insight based on a song I find to be both sad and funny.

You see, there are quite a few myths, stereotypes and other cultural misunderstandings about polyamory that make figuring out whether you ARE poly sometimes quite difficult.

There are two parts to the song’s lyrics that I feel need some clarification.

First is the pseudo-chorus.  I call it that because while it takes the place of a chorus, it is not a repeat chorus.

What makes it amusing for me is that it is referring to what many polyamorous people call “searching for the Unicorn” or Unicorn Hunting.”

I assume you know what a unicorn is, but if you do not, a unicorn is defined as “a mythical animal typically represented as a horse with a single straight horn projecting from its forehead.”

In the context of poly, however, searching for a unicorn relates to the actions of a particular set of people.  These are usually a male/female married couple where the female is bisexual and the male is heterosexual.  What they want is a woman who is willing to join their relationship, but must be willing to date both.

Now, some Unicorn hunters are not dysfunctional people in a dysfunctional relationship.  Some are very able to be fully honest, fully communicative, and fully invested in the three-way relationship.  These healthy people are simply clear on what they are looking for, and aren’t playing any games. They are a Dyad (dictionary version, you should also look at the polyamorous definition on the Glossary of Polyamory Terms. looking to become an integrated Triad (Glossary of Polyamory Terms — look at both Triad and Delta).

Sadly, however, MOST Unicorn Hunters are not this kind of healthy couple.

More often than not it is a dysfunctional heterosexual male and a co-dependent bisexual  female.  The male tends to be very jealous, very insecure and frankly rarely understands how to have ONE healthy adult romantic relationship let alone more than one.

The female is in a bit of a sticky wicket here. She has admitted to her male partner that she is bisexual, and more often than not she knows the only way she will ever be “allowed” to date anyone outside the main relationship is to look for a female partner. She must also look for someone not only willing to date the man as well, but someone who is willing to always be an outsider to the previous male/female relationship. The additional female will usually be limited from ever dating anyone outside the triangle, or if she is allowed to date outside she is ALSO limited to only other females.  This allows the man to be the only male in the relationship (a situation that happens so often that it too has it’s own term — the One-Penis Policy [a.k.a. OPP] which should be self-explanatory. If not, look at the glossary linked above).

Additionally, any action taken by the bisexual female’s other female relationship that sounds like issues with the primary relationship (i.e. unwilling to date the male, willing to date both but requires equal standing, etc.) will immediately mean that relationship will be ended.

Now, this does not mean that it has to be a male/female couple.  There are sometimes LGBTQ relationships that are similar (where one side is bisexual rather than strictly gay; and the bisexual person is limited to only dating the opposite sex outside of the relationship).  It can also be a male/female couple where the man is the bisexual.

No, I’m not saying that everyone must be willing to date every body type available.

But those men who are openly stating this tend to be of a certain immature and narcissistic personality type.

The reason it comes out as looking for a hot, bi babe is that the straight male puts an extra emphasis on the aesthetic looks of the intended third person.  These are the same kind of straight, monogamous males that are ONLY willing to date women who are “height/weight proportional” or like President-Elect Trump, will only date women he deems to be a “10.”

The issue is the dysfunction that is being perpetuated.

There are already good articles and even videos out there about the difference between a dyad looking to become a triad versus Unicorn Hunters.

So, let’s deal with the other situation I emphasized above — f alling in love.  Now, this is a song, it’s not a place to go into deeply what is meant.  Many polyamorous people I know do not have what amounts to a fear of falling in love.  Many enjoy falling in love.

But, there are some polyamorous people who use it as a way to keep committment limited.  I personally find that sad.

EVERY relationship a human has requires some level of committment, not just romantic ones.  But those who are afraid of committment all have one issue in common, they are afraid of managing the expectations of others in relation to their choices – whether that is expectations by a friend or expectations by a lover.

Yes, every single time you engage in a relationship (including an employment relationship such as boss/underling) there are expectations to be managed.  A person in a relationship has certain duties and obligations that are often specifically stated (if they are not specifically stated, then there’s an important discussion to be had).  They fear many things in regards to these obligations or duties.  Here’s some possible fears:

  • Fear of failure (not being able to fulfill those duties)
  • Fear of loss of self (having so many obligations that you have no time for yourself)
  • Fear of vulnerability (fulfilling those duties can require opening up and trusting the other person not to hurt you)
  • Fear of being taken for granted
  • Fear of rejection

There are LOTS of people out there – monogamous as well as polyamorous – who are that afraid of commitment and have developed that fear into a relationship anxiety. It all comes down to protecting one’s self and the inability to trust anyone else than yourself.

I may have serious issues with trusting other people, but once I am in a relationship I give it everything I can.  I learned romantic committment from my parents.  You keep working on it as long as possible.  What I didn’t learn was how to recognize when the other person is not engaged in the relationship.

I’m not sure why I did not develop a relationship anxiety after breaking it off with my ex.  I am open to meeting new people, even meeting possible new romantic relationships.  I’m not hiding from it. Maybe it’s simple, I simply don’t equate the rest of the men in the world with who my ex-husband is.

 

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Stumbling Over Ruins

 

I’ve discussed some of my old programming when it comes to romantic relationships. I’ve made some real progress, however slowly, in rewriting many of the larger of my stumbling blocks.

But just like Satine in Moulin Rouge,” there are still some of my definitions of what is expected of me in romantic relationships that take a while for me to actually see as an issue.

In my marriage, I let myself be celibate (and damned near asexual) for a dozen years because somehow I excused my ex from making our sexual relationship a priority.  Now, life is life and often that means many issues become a lower priority temporarily.  But, if a relationship is going to be healthy, except for those times of crisis, dealing with the issues — sexual or not — should at least be in the Top Ten of priorities for each person in the relationship.

It’s about meeting each other halfway.

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What Women Want

 

I was rewatching What Women Want today. Yes, I know the photo is from Pretty Woman, but it inspires the post a bit more than the Mel Gibson movie.

In fact, in many ways, the character that Richard Gere plays in many of his movies is far more of an ideal for me than Mel Gibson. Not necessarily as Billy Flynn (from Chicago as that character is a stereotypical “player” in business and everywhere else), but many of his characters such as John Clark (Shall We Dance), Ike Graham (Runaway Bride — once he stops being the cynical asshole, of course), Edward Lewis (Pretty Woman, of course) and Zack Mayo (An Officer and a Gentleman).

Thing is, guys, the real problem here is not that it is somehow “impossible” for you to know what the women in your life want.  The real problem is that you are looking for a “universal remote” for all women.

Now, the other reality is that our heteronormative culture (which objectifies women) teaches most males that women are fairly interchangeable.  That somehow we all want the same exact thing, and we’re all cookie-cutter copies of each other.  And sadly, many women buy into this thought as well and attempt to use peer pressure on other women to conform.

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Penny Dreadful, Part 2

One of the thrusts of this series as a whole is exploring the line that separates man from beast.  This is a fairly obvious theme in Season 1.  It also is a main theme that runs through both the “pulp fiction” (dime novels, penny dreadfuls, and other short and lurid fictions that were popularized in the latter portion of the Victorian era) and the so-called Victorian “literature” of the age.

For me, this kind of thing actually goes back further, to the morality plays of medieval times which hoped to teach virtue to the lower classes.  There has always been an attempt by authors to wish to “raise the mind of the poor from the level of beasts to the height of moral rectitude.”

Yet in the latter part of Victoria’s reign in the British Empire, it was quite obvious that the rich in those countries – especially Britain – considered anyone not like themselves to be nothing better than beasts.  The pulp fiction then served as escapist entertainment, keeping the poor and the different “in their place.”

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The Power of Rejection

For a large portion of my life, I have considered rejection to be an absolute horror.  The therapists I’ve seen over the years have all at some time during our time together asked me why I have in the past given those who reject me tears and days worth of self-flagellation, even if the person was truly only a blip on life’s radar.

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Fighting the Inner Demons

It’s days like this that make recovering so hard.  It is wonderful to have been raised an independent thinker, but it also means that there is a whole host of demons that come along with it.  And given how individuality is worshipped by our society, it is so easy to feed “common thought” directly into those demons.

Everyone has their own demons, no one person’s demons are somehow “better” or “worse,” just different. But we’re primed to compare ourselves and our wounds with those around us.  We’re primed to see other’s brokenness, pain and wounds as much “worse” than our own.  We’re primed to want to sacrifice resources to help someone who is somehow “more in pain” than we are.  Our society often places more of that expectation on women than man.  I’m not saying that men are never expected to sacrifice.  It’s simply a matter of women being taught always to sacrifice, regardless of whether we have children or not.  Men tend to be expected to make more tangible  sacrifices — such as financial, time spent away from the family or required to fix, repair or otherwise work physically (sometimes to the point where it destroys their health).  Again, this is not about individuals (because there are some individuals who are not examples of this), but about a generalized group in our society.

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