Fine ways to lift each other up, not disqualify.

Another thought train on the move. I was thinking on why things with my partner feel so right. I’m not getting that crazy limerice or nre sensation. I’m not feeling distracted by them (other stuff distracts me instead).

This person has made it part of their core to have people feel safe around them. I think I’m feeling the effects of that now. I’m able to speak of my passions and my vulnerabilities and not feel judged. If anything, my eccentries are celebrated. If there is something I don’t know, they are happy to teach me. They include me with their activities. They don’t hide me from their friends. They constantly try to remind me that I’m special, that I’m good. It might even seem a little repetitive at times and I don’t know what to say…but it sinks in.

inevitably I can’t help but compare to the experience with my ex during that last month. I still feel pain over all the thinga she tried to disqualify me for. I wasn’t this. I felt bad about things. My having feelings were invalidated. While I try to avoid casting blame as I’m sure there were a myriad of factors on her end, at the end of the day I did not feel wanted. It was one more person that I had to constantly justify my existence to. I adored her, but I just could not stay in that environment.

I need people who can celebrate my passions and interests and I will do the same for them. To help make each other the best versions of themselves. I don’t want to be in a relationship based on fighting to qualify.

Find our middle ground and just love each other.

3-2-21 Supported

This will be short. Being in good spirits probably doesn’t make for the most engrossing read but it is where I’m at. I recently met someone who has not only been incredibly sweet, but also amazingly supportive of my artistic interests. That means a lot to me. Having an avoidant/dismissive background makes it hard for me to share my passions with anyone for fear of the rejection. So I would just shut down pre-emptively shutdown to avoid the pain. To have it openly embraced feels really good. This one is special.

8–26-2020 Feeling a depressing/self loathing episode coming on

I think putzing around on FB triggered a depression spiral today. I was reminded of how I feel, I’m not sure, unwanted? Not just in the romantic sense, although that process started in my mind in regards to my wife, but socially. The whole K thing is a reminder that I’m just not liked. I know it is her problem, her bullshit. But I’m having a hard time not internalizing that. On days like this I miss having a therapist to talk with. I can’t really talk with my wife about it, nor do I have any trusted friends I can talk with about this. I’m not sure what to do outside of weather this storm.

8-24-2020 finding myself annoyed

Quick entry but it is worth putting into words for myself. I’ll need to add this to my boundary list. My wife is meeting up with an acquaintance in the poly community to provide some accounting guidance, and maybe get some work. That’s cool. I did have health concerns once she brought up they were meeting up in person. She tried to reassure me that the person said she was minimal risk (this is akin to my thoughts on “Ethical Non-Monogamy”, what does that mean to a person?). That is too vague for me, especially after the scare with K. So I pressed to get more specific information. Questions like, is this person an essential worker? Have they been out for reasons other than supplies? I know this person has a good number of partners and so the risk is higher without knowing how all of that works, and their partners risk and so forth. My wife seemed to understand that concern, but still seemed resistant to my concerns.

Then she mentioned that she had said to this person that I had a high risk partner. That put me on alert. I don’t know this person well, and have little reason to trust in her discretion. Yes she’s a poly person but I don’t want my partnership status out there unless I put it out there. I’m only letting people know that it is relevant to. This reminds me of the time she told Rob about my status with S without my consent.

What seems to have really annoyed, and perhaps angered, me is that she then commented my concern was “very high school”. I realize I fell into the shame spiral trap again just there, trying to reason that yeah maybe it was.

But no. I realize I just had my emotional experience invalidated/belittled. That makes me feel unsafe in letting my wife know what I’m feeling if it is just going to be discounted. I think that counts as an emotional-relational boundary violation. She might not have to agree with my concerns but to toss it aside as irrelevant completely discounts my anxieties. It isn’t ok.

8-14-20 Feeling Better

I’m feeling better today. There’s still some residual angst. I let my wife know I had been feeling irritable all morning in the 5 minute overlap to see each other we actually had. It was intended as a heads up. I hadn’t woken her up that morning so she slept in till about 11:25, just in time for another meeting I had to be in. I just seem to be getting into more and more meetings, and that isn’t doing me any good mentally. Turned out she had been to about other stuff. Then towards the end of my meeting (which ran for an extra 45 minutes…) she texted me a photo of our friend (well, lately it seems just her’s) of her fever and how she’s concerned she may have been exposed to Covid. This made me worried about A, who I recently spent time with. Once I got more details, I had a slight relief that the exposure windows didn’t over lap. Test results won’t be available until Monday. So far my wife and I’s health seem just fine (exposure time for K was the day before she hanged out with my wife, so if my wife did catch something from that then we’re past the timeline when something may have happened).

Anyway, that led to a discussion about what happened with A, and how my wife actually wasn’t comfortable with it despite giving consent. That’s kind of shitty on her part, as now someone else’s feelings are engaged. Then we talked about the health of our relationship, and it isn’t great. I guess my anxiety is good for something. She doesn’t want me engaging in anything else really, though she feels conflicted about holding me back. So we made a commitment to spend direct interactive time on tuesday/thursday at minimum. This seems to help. Also having more regular talks is important too, as we just haven’t done that, being content to passively be in the same area but really that just makes us roommates at best.

I still find myself feeling some sort of anger/resentment on social media whenever I see anything from S or K. I had a bit of a realization this morning regarding that feeling and what my amygdala is actually trying to do. Both of these people made me feel joy, in different ways. Then they hurt me through rejection and abandonment. I think my brain is using those emotions to keep me away from them, to avoid me getting hurt again. Part of the same anxiety path way. I’m trying to think of people in my past who followed the same pattern, and how I got past it. A was an example…with her though I didn’t see much of anything on social media…in part because I had unfollowed her but also she was rarely active on social media (until fairly lately). Of course with her I felt a little guilt as well as I was the one that broke off the relationship. But still there was pain there. It got better. Then I thought about J. We went years without talking to each other, and what I felt for her as a teenager was very intense, even as a purely LDR. I think it was about 7 years before we even started talking again. And her’s was a case in which I was rejected. We didn’t have a frank discussion of what happened until after she invited me to ren fair. She apologized for what she put me through. I think, on retrospect, that helped repair the damage between us. All that distance gave me time to forget the pain. She’s still an important friend, even if we don’t talk that much now.

Now with K, I think even logically I don’t trust her that much right now. With her 1 blow up when I accidentally upset her, she went direct to fatalism and ending the friendship. That isn’t a mature way to handle things when people get hurt on accident. She is on the younger side, so I suppose that shouldn’t be that surprising. But it still brought up my trauma responses.

With S…I’m still not sure. I understand enough that her anxieties and traumas (what I understand of them) played a big role. This pandemic + her attempt to quit vaping (nicotine product) ramped up her anxiety responses in a big way. It led to a bad situation. My emotional centers seem to desperately want to find a way to label her as a bad person, to give me reason to keep away. But understanding this defense mechanism I have now, is that really true? Shit, over half this country might be falling into this same damn trap in respect to each other.

5-31-2020 where I’m at now

Regarding her, I don’t feel comfortable engaging in that shared community at all. Especially when it comes to the more wild events. I think the only way that I’ll be able to feel more ok (it’ll never be 100%) would be through getting closure on what happened, and a plan for how to move forward. Currently, I don’t feel comfortable enough with her to get into that discussion. I don’t see her having the patience and empathy for that kind of discussion now, or maybe ever. Which means I’m either going to have to continue to endure being uncomfortable in that group (while it is all online) or finally just completely remove myself from it and all the contacts I’ve made since. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve removed myself from a community. When I think about it, that was the result of how things went down with another person long ago. There was never an exit plan.

5-10-2020 unf*ck my boundaries

I’ve been listening to the audio book “Unfuck Your Boundaries” several times. It is relatively short but there is a lot of deep stuff in there. I just had some serious insights become unlocked for me this morning. I had already recently come to understand that I have issues with my internal boundaries which make me particularly sensitive to criticism that attacks my character, and issues with indirect manipulations on myself (people trying to get me to change my behavior/emotional responses without directly asking me to do so). In the book, the author describes the physical responses we have when those boundaries are crossed, and went in to basically explain our brains are hard-wired to avoid pain, and so even when we don’t logically understand the trigger, we respond. The little man in the stomach idea.

I think I understand why I have so much trouble with criticism that gets interpreted as character attacks or, and this is perhaps the bigger trigger, is based on false assumptions about my intentions. My brain is literally trying to avoid pain. Both physical and social. And I know social pain activates the same as physical pain (I need to find articles supporting this). I remember getting physically hit by my sister, and come to think of it, one of my brothers as well directly because my words or actions were being interpreted maliciously. I have a particularly vivid memory, though I can’t recall the words too well. I remember the summer I had spent with my cousins in SC, along with my sister. She started getting angry about something (and now we understand she has severe anxiety issues as well, so I don’t blame her for her behavior, but I do understand how it effected me growing up), and I called her out on it. I think I might have said something along the lines of “stop being a bitch”, but then I might have used a different word as well. Regardless, it resulted in my getting punched in the mouth (and I had braces on at the time). I think I understand more now why my father was so strongly against any violence now. Anyhow, there were quite a few instances like that with my sister that involved me getting physically attacked. It was basically always because something I said/did was misconstrued as something else.

Things like this happened with my mother as well, although it was less likely to result in physical punishment. It did lead to literal abandonment. I remember there was this one time she got real angry at my sister and I at church one day. I never understood why. But she literally left us there and we had to walk home. We were maybe 12 or 13 at the time? Now that I think on it, I see exactly where I got my silent storm issue too. She brooded often.

And then there was school, particularly elementary. I was a pariah there. I was fat and I had a nose picking habit. This led to me being singled out and just reviled by nearly everyone. It literally led to me being physically attacked and socially isolated. As a child, that is major fucking pain. It is no wonder I can get such intense social anxiety around groups of people. The only time it isn’t there I realize, is when I’m running something. I think that script got flipped when I started guild leadership back as a teenager. It was the only time I wasn’t afraid.

So yes, all of this for me to realize the fear I experience in trying to fit in (unsuccessfully) in social groups, and how I handle nonconstructive criticism from loved ones is literally born out of those experiences I had growing up. When someone appears angry at me, especially for reasons I either don’t understand or that aren’t true, my brain flips into survival mode. It learned there was pain incoming and that is why I would feel so bad afterwards. I need to explore more on how I can get help to calm that trigger.

Update, talked with my wife a bit more about this understanding. A couple of things I need to do going forward.

1. In newer relationships that actually seem to be going somewhere, I need to bring up this boundary up as soon as possible. I need to explain I have a trigger around nonconstrucive criticism, and if it gets triggered I need space. This is *especially* important in the age of social media where we’re always available because of all the instant messengers. It is vital to have that space and not allow anyone to simply blow up on me without permission. I can dig into the source of that trigger if they want, but the important part is establishing that boundary early. It also makes it easier to run the “no” test early on. It is a form of PTSD, in the sense that I get the same emotional response as I did back as a child. I have to be able to tell someone that triggers this that I am feeling hurt and that I need to back away from this conversation, now. We can schedule out a time to come back to it later. If they continue to lay into me, then they are crossing my boundary. I need this boundary to function. It becomes more important the closer I get to someone as that is where the pain lies.

2. I also need to explain the intense social anxiety I can get in group situations. I mean heart pounding I’m about to get attacked by a bear type anxiety. Again, I could dig into my childhood and how I was a social pariah and how social exile is literally interpreted as physical pain, but that isn’t as important. The point is I’m going to likely feel that at some point, and I *need* to be able to get away periodically into more quiet spaces to overcome it. This is a need for me. Non-negotiable.

3-3-2029 unworthy feeling

I’ve been having a harder time lately believing anyone really wants to be around me. I don’t have a lot of strong evidence for it…but there are the little things that I think are needling their way into my psyche. These aren’t direct quotes but they do represent the thoughts I’m battling..

“I am not extraverted enough”. “I don’t always know the right thing to say”. “She’s not really into me”. “She’ll lose interest and move on to someone that has the social grace I lack”.”I’m too much of a nerd”.”My intensity when physically intimate is too much”.”I need too much reassurance lately”.”I don’t give enough reassurance”.”Who I am isn’t good enough”.

I’m not sure how to get through these thoughts right now. Time? Will things get better? I don’t feel safe asking for help. I don’t feel like showing that vulnerability will help.

2-25-2020 Elation

Often times when I post here it is to unload on negative complicated emotions. This isn’t one of those times. I think I’m overloaded on happy. I shouldn’t be effected by words of affirmation like this but somehow her’s have an outsized effect. It’s kind of scary to let anyone effect me in this way.

There are so many qualities about her that I appreciate. Her sense of humor was the first thing that got to me. It was like a warm dancing flame in the middle of a cold wasteland. Quite unexpected in my life yet there she was. She brings joy.

I had always found her beautiful. There is a light in her eyes that fills me with wonder and yet can also set me at ease. It’s a fascinating mix. I normally have to make a conscious effort to maintain eye contact with most people…not with her. I feel a shiver up my spine just thinking about it. Her beauty can’t be defined by man-made measurements. It is an ethereal experience. Something that touches me in a dimension I’m not capable of understanding. It is profound sensation comparable to experiencing one of the wonders of the world for the first time…only it happens every time.

As incredible as all of her other qualities are, it is her kindness that strikes me the most. It is something I can only hope to better emulate some day. This is what makes her stand out most to me. It is this undercurrent that flows around our many interactions. If her kindness is like flowing water, then it is no wonder my walls stood no chance. After all, the simplest streams can erode the mightiest mountains and her kindness can feel like a roaring rapid at times. Who am I to think I could ever hold against that?

2-14-2020 On Giving Validation

This is a thought chain I just had given not just the past couple of days, but really the past month and beyond. I’m starting to accept my words have an effect on people. Particularly the ones closest to me, but also the ones that don’t appear as close. I think it just occurred to me that a lot of what it has come down to is others’ seeking my validation…which is a bit mind blowing for me right now. There was a time I desperately wanted validation from others.

At some point in my life, I stopped seeking it. I couldn’t depend on people to help with it, so instead I focused on the things I could control to find my own internal validation. Video games were an easy path. When my health (mental and physical) became problematic, I turned to the gym and used the weight scale as a form of validation. When that resource ran dry, I turned to dance. Then I found myself seeking validation from a woman. That went badly. It hurt for a while. But it did lead to one of the most profound friendships I ever had. I miss her still.

Then I turned to MMA. I wanted to use gaining mastery of my body and how I moved as my next barometer. And while I made progress there, the validation I received from my instructors and other students took me a back. I was fully anticipating to always be considered less. That didn’t happen. I think this is part of why I had enjoyed that life so much. Not to fight, not to win. But to be around people that also wanted to see me excel, and I would do the same for them.

Then life changed and I moved out here. I did get into TMA but it was a small place. I was never able to earn validation there I suppose. I mean from one instructor yes, but the others never really set goals. Or listened. It was about doing things their way instead of helping me find a path that worked for me. FFA worked because when I sparred with a variety of students, I could quickly find my technique. I could prove it worked. I’m never going to learn things the way everyone else does. My brain just does not work that way.

Throughout all that, I could see now the issue. I did not really want their validation. Validation from other people tends to be…unreliable at best. It was always better to find it within myself and through my actions.

And so now I find myself in this place where I’m starting to realize now why I’ve given the impression to so many people that I’m disinterested. Because I don’t seek validation from other people. I don’t go to strangers or new acquaintances and go “you’re so awesome!”. I don’t trust it when given to me, why should anyone I don’t know trust it as genuine coming from me if they don’t know me?

I got interrupted there. Anyway. I also don’t ask for that validation either. I don’t text after dates and say things like “I hope you had a good time” or hope to see you again, etc. I just say something to the effect of thank you for a lovely evening. It is scary to do that sort of thing, the reaching out and offering of my interest. Vulnerable even. So if I’m to change that behavior, the only way I could do it and still feel authentic is by being specific whenever I do give out validation. That takes time and focus. I’m not sure how much of those resources I have to give.

Those resources are being prioritized for the ones I care for. That is where I need to put in more of that energy. Because for whatever reason, people need more of that from me. Which is still mind blowing as I’ve never thought anyone would really care what I think about them. Or need that. Or maybe not even from me. Just to have someone break the lie that is depression and focus like a laser about the parts of them that matter.

Try to bring a little more joy to this world…one kind word at a time.