Saturday, 28 September 2013

read this (so they told me)

Over the last five years I've amassed a considerable amount of well meaning advice by well of (mainly) books and websites.

Rather than bore the minions with my own opinions (woohoo that rhymes!), this week, I'm offering you a selection of some of the best ones:


and some quotes to ponder

“We’re all seeking that special person who is right for us. But if you’ve been through enough relationships, you begin to suspect there’s no right person, just different flavors of wrong. Why is this? Because you yourself are wrong in some way, and you seek out partners who are wrong in some complementary way. But it takes a lot of living to grow fully into your own wrongness. And it isn’t until you finally run up against your deepest demons, your unsolvable problems—the ones that make you truly who you are—that we’re ready to find a lifelong mate. Only then do you finally know what you’re looking for. You’re looking for the wrong person. But not just any wrong person: the right wrong person—someone you lovingly gaze upon and think, “This is the problem I want to have.”  I will find that special person who is wrong for me in just the right way.  Let our scars fall in love.”
― Galway Kinnell

“I no longer believed in the idea of soul mates, or love at first sight. But I was beginning to believe that a very few times in your life, if you were lucky, you might meet someone who was exactly right for you. Not because he was perfect, or because you were, but because your combined flaws were arranged in a way that allowed two separate beings to hinge together.”
― Lisa KleypasBlue-Eyed Devil
To be fully seen by somebody, then, and be loved anyhow - this is a human offering that can border on miraculous.”

“Assumptions are the termites of relationships.”
― Henry Winkler

“Relationships are mysterious. We doubt the positive qualities in others, seldom the negative. You will say to your partner: do you really love me? Are you sure you love me? You will ask this a dozen times and drive the person nuts. But you never ask: are you really mad at me? Are you sure you’re angry? When someone is angry, you don’t doubt it for a moment. Yet the reverse should be true. We should doubt the negative in life, and have faith in the positive.”
― Christopher PikeRemember Me

“When we face pain in relationships our first response is often to sever bonds rather than to maintain commitment.

― Bell HooksAll About Love: New Visions

“The best you can hope for in a relationship is to find
someone whose flaws are the sort you don’t mind. It is
futile to look for someone who has no flaws, or someone
who is capable of significant change; that sort of person
exists only in our imaginations.”
― Scott AdamsGod's Debris: A Thought Experiment

“Oh the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are -- chaff and grain together -- certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.”
― Dinah Maria Mulock CraikA Life for a Life

Friday, 27 September 2013

really truly i mean it

I tossed up about what to focus on for this blog. I've had a few different things on my mind this month - one -  the importance, and inherent risks of being candid in our relationships, two - the weird rules we impose upon ourselves when it comes to interacting with others (be it SO, ex, friend, relation) and three - the value that we put on the opinions and thoughts of others

In the end, I decided, they are kind of all related.  Firstly, I think it's REALLY hard to be honest, 100% honest with people.  We want to be, we try to be, but there's always a risk that they will not like us much for what we say, and so, we temper it a bit.  Or there's a fear that it will somehow create a vulnerability we are not sure we want to risk.  Its kind of the ''having a conversation naked'' idea that I've blogged about before. And invariably there are times when in being true to the idea of being honest we say things, that the minute they are out - sometimes still hanging in the speech bubble by our mouths - we wish we could gobble up again.   Fear rules OK:)

It's also really hard to create your own rules for your relationships.  Society dictates that things should be a certain way - things like how often couples should see each other in the early stages of a relationship, when they should move in together, who pays for things, what kind of friendship you maintain if you part ways...there's SO many pressures.  Again, all wrapped up in the vulnerability of being honest. So what if you want to see each other every day? So what if you're ready to move in after 6 months? Its really no one Else's business and yet somehow the minute these things are made public, there's no end of advice...

Which brings me to number three. We DO value the opinion of others. All of us. Sometimes it's good (We really like that girl), sometimes it's not (don't you think you're moving too fast).  But we put great store in the input of ''stakeholders'' into our relationships.  I certainly value the opinions of others - sometimes they see things that we don't, and can also be our best cheerleaders - but the danger is that everyone has their own agenda (of course they do!) and  sometimes that includes telling you what they think you want to hear.  No one wants to be the deliverer of unpopular opinion after all. And so unless you're pretty sure of your own ideas, that can result in us not being honest, even with ourselves, and certainly can bring into question our adoption, or evolution of the rules that others impose.

So what can you do?  Today, I'm in a ''what the hell happened'' kind of mood (about someone Else's relationship not mine).  It may or may not be a good thing. I guess my ability to stick with that ambition of being (gently) honest, and  listening (but not necessarily adhering) to the opinions of others has been well tested.

On the other hand, if there's one thing I've learnt in 30 years of adulthood, it's that the first person I need to be honest with is me.  And that should be the easiest person of all to get naked with -  especially if it means ignoring rules, and letting go of the opinions of others.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Its what a friend would do

My Myers-Briggs personality profile is ESFJ, and a big part of that 'style' is wanting harmony for myself and others. A less forgiving person once described me as a ''unity addict''. Once I got over the insult, I realised she was probably about right.

Many years ago, when my marriage was performing the dying swan, I did my best to keep it a secret.  It was only later, much later, that friends and family offered observations on what they had seen happening. Many commented on how sad they felt about what had happened, which was nice to hear, and how they ''didn't know what to do'' which was...unsurprising but also disappointing.  At the time, there wasn't a single person in my/our circle of friends who was separated or divorced, so I guess no one really had any experience of the demise of a relationship. On the other hand, I wonder if maybe one, just one, person had said, STOP! don't give up just yet!, maybe it might have made a difference. I'll never know.

Over the past few years, I've had the unfortunate experience of seeing many other relationships fail.  No matter what the circumstances, its always sad. But in particular, the ones who from the outside at least, appear to be strong and potential-filled, hold an extra dimension of sadness.  There are ALWAYS cases of friends who clearly were not right for each other, or had overwhelming odds. But even that, in my ''unity addict'' mind doesn't make it any happier or easier when the demise actually comes.

So, after hearing ''I didn't know what to do/I wish I had done something'' so many times, I made a promise to myself, that should I find myself on that side of the fence, I would do whatever I could to help the person who came to me.  This isn't about fixing someone Else's relationship. About interfering in their business.  But is IS about being proactively supportive, encouraging, and offering to do whatever the person needs. And by that I mean not just saying ''call me if you need me'', because it's likely that someone in crisis won't call.  It means really being there for them.  Including offering advice if it's asked for - and shutting up when it isn't., but also being sensitively honest when sharing my own thoughts, rather than just saying what I think someone might want to hear.

So this week, I had cause to be in this very situation. I could have said ''there there'', 'cos to be honest I really am not feeling like being a supportive friend for someone else right now.  But I didn't. I literally dropped everything. Sat and listened, cried with a friend.  When she asked for some advice I offered it. (Not sure that I am a good person to be asking for advice but anyway). And the advice I gave was this:  Take a breath. Talk to each other. Remember what you loved about him in the first place. It might feel squashed but that doesn't mean it's dead''.  I didn't say ''I think you're wrong'' or ''I think you're right'' or even ''far out that sounds impossible'', I just suggested she take some time before doing anything big. I wanted to say ''don't do it!'' and the time may come for me to say that - if I'm asked. Still, I reckon sometimes another persons perspective is what you need. Even if it isn't want you want - or even need - to hear.

Now, these guys will work it out for themselves, or not.  Who knows. I hope they do.  Its hard to put my own agenda aside of course (I want everyone to live happily ever after...), but I will not just sit by and do nothing, whilst people I care about are struggling. I never want to be the person that said ''oh I wish I'd said something''.