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Under the Weather
Under the Weather, Calling Pseudonym, Wrapping my Life around Hers, Great River, Eagle under Sun. (Mouse Over)

Dear Kim:

I wonder if it is predictable that Pseudonym and I would have had a fight yesterday, given my reaction to her gesture the day before.

(Kim: I keep having the feeling that you are comfortable in a relationship where you fight. I don't think you like to hear that.)

I am trying to get honest with myself. To really ask myself what I am feeling at any particular point and what it is that I want. It is so easy to get derailed from one's desires in a different kind of desire: the desire to please other people.

(Kim: There is an element of desire and getting what we want that rings of being too self-absorbed. But that is probably more my issue than yours. I'm trying to make everything work at school...so I'm not dealing to much with what I want. I just want to not make so many mistakes (yesterday I said things to the wrong person. It might be ok...but I shouldn't have done it and I feel stupid for doing so.)

This afternoon, after having a meeting and after going to the accountant and after getting the allergy shots and after buying office supplies, I suddenly realized I was feeling under the weather.

Or maybe under the after.

So much rushing and continual shifting of contexts and gears.

Driving past the St. Louis marketplace, I suddenly felt under the after.

Not even so much physically as emotionally. I had a kind of dizziness and fatigue from a lot of work and a lot of interactions in the past week and I suddenly felt strongly that going out that night might not be in my best interests. I could try to fit in a nap and see if that might do the trick but I wasn't sure.

(Kim: I'm looking forward to a message at 8 am. I'm bet I'll fall asleep. Also I got this great soap that I love and I'm going to take a shower next. I've used the soap for years after a good friend gave me a bottle. Linda has been finding it fairly cheap at Marshalls, but hadn't found any for a year or so...so I found it on ebay. I guess this is my time for my wants. And making drawing is my wants. And eating good food (like the loaf of black Chinese rice bread that I got yesterday) is also something that I do for me.)

So I called Pseudonym to give her a heads up, leaving a message that I might be able to rally but that I wasn't sure and that I was sorry. That she shouldn't call me so I could try to get everything done and also rest. I would call by 6 PM.

(Kim: I see that sometimes your knack at being a director carries over into your love life. In a sense, you can't dance if someone leads. Did you ever read The Dance of Anger. It is the best book about your relationship. You should get it.)

Almost immediately, she called back saying how disappointed she was and lambasted me for canceling.She said that she was going to plan on our not going to the concert or her seeing me.

I said that was not necessarily the case, that I needed to see.

Somehow it escalated. We began stepping on each other's words and not listening

We both got angry. She, I presume for feeling abandoned and me, for feeling pushed at.

We have negotiated a plan that when things get too heated or someone is feeling triggered, one of us can call for a time out for 24 hours to cool down. The one who has asked for the time out has the responsibility to check back in.

It is a good plan. Instant disengagement, no questions asked, no justifications and hopefully, no escalating

So I called for a time out and she tried to argue with me. She told me I work too much, that I don't know how to balance my life, that all she had wanted was a benign date.

I felt myself getting sucked like a vortex into the argument almost instinctively. I found myself getting ready to defend myself by attacking her back. By saying that I work.

The implication being that she doesn't.

Well, she doesn't work the way I do. And that is her choice. But it is not OK for her to continually criticize my choices and my intense desire to be creative and productive.

I did not say those things. I only thought them. Thinking of them was bad enough. I felt sick to my stomach.

It was really hard not to respond when she said that all the wanted was a benign date.

Of course, that is not all she wants.

She wants me to wrap my life around hers in a way that I find intolerable.

(Kim: I can't take that kind of relationship. Linda is the best at not making me feel that way.)

I said good bye.

(Kim: That is sounding my final that "I'll talk to you another time.")

I was pleased with myself for resisting entering the fight and less pleased that I hadn't tried to get off the phone more quickly. To end the fighting in my head sooner.

See, we are both just so damned tenacious. There is a large part of me that thinks—really, that has thought most of my life—if I can just explain it well enough to whoever, they will understand. And sometimes, that is just not the case.

Because an explanation is not necessarily an explanation. I know this so well from the many times someone has tried to explain to me. And honestly, from the ways I have tried to explain to them. More often, an explanation is a persuasion. Maybe even a subtle bullying. A wolf dressed in lamb's clothing.

(Kim: There is a saying that the main purpose of an education is to learn to rationalize. We could substitute "explain.")

About a half an hour later, she called back, telling me she was sending me good thoughts and wishes for peace.

I said, "You are not supposed to call me when I have asked for a break. We have an agreement. I have to hang up."

(Kim: Now we have a soap opera.)

And I had the awful feeling of hanging up on her because she didn't hang up first.

Now in the Hollywood version, the music would swell when she called back to say how much she cared. Hell, the music would have started when she showed up on my doorstep the other day with flowers.

The Hollywood version would have said this is true love.

Look, how distressed she is when she can't see you.

Look, how she can't stay away.

How she needs to hear the sound of your voice.

I was raised on the Hollywood version, as were most young girls. And maybe that is one reason why so many women have found themselves in situations of domestic violence at some point.

Because they have the illusion of thinking that the imposition of someone's need constitutes caring. And in the Hollywood version, someone is usually won over by the other's ardent pursuit.

My relationship with Pseudonym in no way approaches abuse. I am in no danger and neither is she.

But what does it mean when someone says no and the other person does not listen. What do you call that?

(Kim: I don't think that good communication is an exchange of words. It is rather sychronicity. Remember, "Love is never having to say I'm sorry.")

When I am not angry about her flagrant disregard for my autonomy, I am heartbroken that she is so needy and cannot hear what I am saying to her. We have shared so many lovely moments together. Optimist that I am, early on I had asked myself, is this the person with whom I can walk into the future? Might it be possible for us to go the distance?

There will be no such future when our present is so riddled with dissension. Ironically, the more she pushes, the further I retreat. It is so clear. But she is so emotional and so demanding, she does not see it.

After I essentially hung up on her, I felt terrible about my action. I knew how hurt she must be feeling.

And I thought, I can call her back and explain. Explain how I am feeling. Explain that maybe if I take a nap I can manage the evening. Maybe I can rally.

Explain. Explain. Explain.

Manage. Manage. Manage.

Rally. Rally. Rally.

And then probably feel depleted for today's really demanding and important rehearsal and for my plan to drive along the Great River Road to see the eagles flying in the winter sun.

I realized that to call her back would be to violate the terms to which we had agreed when we are sparring. And that probably the only way out of the craziness is to follow some agreed upon system in which the terms were clear for all.

Jeez, was it hard to keep my counsel. And In a sense , to keep my word to myself and as well as to her by following the contract. Oh, how I wanted to fix it with a phone call and a sweet word, even when it would not really be fixing it. This is needing more serious repair than a band aid.

I felt sad because I realized that I was the only adult on board. That she had reverted to a child because she was not keeping an adult contract.

Then I felt angry again because I don't want to be the only adult on board.

I don't want to kiss and make up and fall into bed and then get steamrolled again the next time I assert the need to take care of myself.

So this in part is why I am still in the relationship in some form, when my family asks me why I haven't yet left since I profess to be unhappy. I am learning how to calmly stand my ground. That I won't die if I say no and the other person gets angry. Even if it feels like crap. And that I have to sit with feelings of guilt and ask myself why my need to make them feel better somehow trumps my need to take care of myself.

Later,

Joan

Saturday, Jan 7, 2006

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