Voicelessness and Emotional Survival Message Board

Voicelessness and Emotional Survival => Voicelessness and Emotional Survival Message Board => Topic started by: Hopalong on March 06, 2019, 12:06:35 PM

Title: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on March 06, 2019, 12:06:35 PM
Hi guys,
Thought I'd move my talk about M to here, as it's pretty clear it's going to go on for a while!

Seeing him for dinner tonight after visiting his home for the first time, attending his dinner party for colleagues and a visiting poet on Saturday. A formal event coming up soon at the university which I'm not looking forward to but he asked and is the "MC" so want to be supportive of that.

He continues to be sweet, clearly open to happiness, high energy and delightful. I'm still trying to get my head around how much life change could be ahead if this continues.

I notice I'm retreating to the womb (bed, pooch, escapism) again but not panicking about it. So I overall am okay though T is wanting to dig into the things that may be contributing to my paralysis behavior. I need to be willing to do that.

I abandoned the exercise program and am upset with myself about that. On the other hand, their monitoring made clear I'm healthy enough to just do it on my own. Which is my own battle to fight.

All in all okay and hopeful!

love
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on March 06, 2019, 03:03:26 PM
Ok, Hops....
I want details. 

What food was served?

Who did you connect with?

What did you wear?

How was the wine?!?

Just everything.

I'm so glad you're enjoying yourself!

Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Bettyanne on March 06, 2019, 08:01:26 PM
Hi Hops......
I'm coming in sideways to this post.......
I hope your holding in there beeing good to yourself......exercise etc ways

Love......Bettyanne
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on March 06, 2019, 10:32:47 PM
Thanks, Lighter!
Be glad to post-dates report, it's fun!

Tonight I went to his house for the first time, and he hauled out fancy wine (I don't know from wine collections but it was a yummy French chablis) and he'd prepared home-made crostini with smoked salmon and capers and wonderful cheese that begins with M, plus ditto yummy olives, and then we went to a local Thai restaurant for a nice quiet dinner--deelish--and he told me a lot more about his family and also the death of his wife, which I was glad he shared about. Much more open and I think probably being on his home turf relaxed him.

The house is lovely. Way too big for one person and overlooking a lake, very quiet cul de sac, deer in the yard (of course). Elegant neighborhood.

He's ALL about food culture and has cooked his whole life. I asked again if I could be even a little help Saturday and he said I could turn up early and just sit and drink wine and talk to him. Okay!

Thanks, ((((Bettyanne)))). I really do need to get my lard butt exercising again, especially as I have acquired this pudgy (adorable) manfriend who lives for fine food and wine. HE may be happy pudgy, but I ain't!

xxoo
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on March 07, 2019, 06:45:00 AM
So, ahhh, emailed him a thanks for dinner/evening and also said more than all that I enjoyed being with him, and more each time.

Just got his reply which was to say we get better every time we're together and he "can't believe this is happening."

My emoticons on VESMB don't work any more but I thought there once was a blushing one.

Dang, y'all!

Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on March 07, 2019, 07:20:27 AM


It certainly seems like M's feeling more comfortable, Hops.

I'm curious if it's easy to keep your food preferences in place.

Is it coming up, or just not an issue?

Also, what kind of music does M enjoy listening to?

Lighter


Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on March 07, 2019, 09:08:36 AM
Quote
He continues to be sweet, clearly open to happiness, high energy and delightful. I'm still trying to get my head around how much life change could be ahead if this continues.

I notice I'm retreating to the womb (bed, pooch, escapism) again but not panicking about it. So I overall am okay though T is wanting to dig into the things that may be contributing to my paralysis behavior. I need to be willing to do that.

uh.... Hops? Any chance you're just so close to those things that paralyze you, you're not seeing it? That the feelings are so refreshing intense and positive, that your normal thought processes are a bit discombobulated?

Re-read above... especially what I've bolded. Your words.

MOST people can be paralyzed when they're overwhelmed - either a seriously huge life change, or too many things that all seem equally important, all at one time, and no one to delegate decisions to. It sure happens to me, all the time!

(pick a day; I'll not do a blessed thing because I can't deal with so many things to prioritize! Then, I'll just see some LITTLE, I mean blessed tiny thing, wouldn't even make anyone else's list... that I "wanted" to do, to please or suit myself - sometimes just straightening a picture... and voila... the paralysis spell is broken.)

My advice for you (custom-designed):
For the time being - you only just met the guy - rank the priority of "future life changes" the very LAST thing on the importance list. You don't have to; it isn't a good idea; and I don't recommend... making a decision about something SO important, like that NOW. NOW, isn't the right time to get into the process of making that decision. The real important decisions CAN BE, SHOULD BE postponed until you are clear in your mind/feelings/understanding all the details involved.

NOW, you observe... you actually feel... and plan regular (like weekly) 10 min/20 min cocoon sessions to assess and take stock cognitively, and analyze what's going on with you. (So you don't short-change that side of yourself for attention and to properly observe any red flags she might be waving.) And let yourself get swept off your feet in the meantime...

because you can DO IT. Because you AREN'T going to let yourself fall... that's what those short, time-limited "check in with my feelings/better judgement" sessions are for, right? You still want what you want long term, but until you've experienced being IN a relationship - which this is not yet; you're just seeing each other, enjoying yourself and getting to know each other - you won't know enough about him, you and how you are together to decide if this is THE relationship you want to sign on to.

Maybe I'm way too careful (others would say paranoid) to the point that I'm not even able to get replies from anyone on any of those dating sites (oh sure, the young, young men... who don't know any better; I'm not the cougar type) SO... please add salt to taste regarding my advice and realize who it's coming from.

There is no obligation or expectation that the advice must be taken. LOL. Your money back! Exactly what you paid for MY "two cents worth" of opinion.

----------------- ETA-----

What I meant to say, before I got so carried away with being tickled silly pink for you...

is that only TIME and EXPERIENCE will tell, if you'll even be in a position to entertain the POSSIBILITY of wanting|needing|deciding about....... "life changes", with this guy.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on March 10, 2019, 11:54:45 PM
Hops?

How's it going?

Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on March 11, 2019, 03:31:19 PM
Hey Lighter, it goes very well. Happiness is coexisting along all SORTS of stuff that imminent intimacy brings to the surface. So at the moment happiness is part flow part hard work! I'm actually relieved he'll be in SF for a week after Tuesday.

Amber, I needed very much to hear that perspective. Thank you.
You are RIGHT; I need to slow it down to the present task...getting to know, new experiences/tests, find out more, check and recheck intuition and evidence. Not to be paranoid but I know I must.

Meanwhile, it IS feeling lovely. Kicking up a notch, feelings wise. Definitely reciprocal. He's heading for SF Tuesday for a week and his plan to move continues. A year plus a couple months out. Yes, I don't need to decide right now.

But, I am not far from dropping my guard and letting my heart go all in and take this risk. So that's that. I just need to face that loss is always possible, and meanwhile, I can still choose happiness and see what happens. If I'm disappointed, ultimately, I'll cope. It's all living/learning, etc.

It's waves of stuff. Waking up in my little house this morning and thinking...no more? Hard. But if I want what I want, there is no way around that my little-house life will change. That said, T this morning said just what you said. And advised me to re-focus on loving and enjoying and de-cluttering my little house, because regardless of what happens in future, that creates happiness and value for me in the now. It really does.

Meanwhile, he's inviting me for a week in Paris in July. After that he's off to lecture in Israel, visit Istanbul and return to Spain. So he'll be gone the rest of that month. I'll get my own ticket and he'll treat me to hotel and meals. Sounds like an offer it'll be tough to refuse! I am getting a new passport (plus new Euro "visa-not-visa") so I'll have the option if we both realize it's still a right move closer to then.

Good T session. I struggle NOT to talk about the paralysis behavior, clutter, etc. But I made myself hang in with it. Turns out the hiding in bed and not dealing with home in an adult way has to do with me abandoning myself, plus being defiant, plus being ADD. But she invited me to stop the shame spiral and just invite my inner adult to engage because that's self care, period. She's right.

After our appt pooch and I took a nice long walk downtown, visiting a friend for tea in the middle of the walk. She's loaning me a glam outfit for the formal thing I'm going to (M will be the "MC" in his tux). So that's a load off my mind. Still have to invest in some form of non-heel shoe that will get by.

And meanwhile, M is sending me lovestruck cute little emails. Dang. It's sweet!

My commitment for this afternoon is to get at least a START on the clothes purge in bedroom, and to sketch out a specific time-use plan for tomorrow morning, so I don't yield to the usual back-to-bed behavior.

xxoo
Hops

Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on March 11, 2019, 10:03:21 PM
Hops, may I suggest a ballet flat? in satin, velvet or suede? Maybe sequins?  :D

OOOO, Paris!

Be happy Hops.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on March 12, 2019, 01:46:22 PM
Good shoes idea, Amber! Thanks, that's perfect. A friend is loaning me some long swishy glam pants and I have a top that will fake formal fine. YAY!

Quote
I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes. Henry David Thoreau

So. Got passport app ready, soon as this cold (achoo kind) eases up I'll be off to deliver it. Dug out my previous one (1972) and cracked up because I was so clearly stoooooooned in the pic. I remember that day and it's true. Oh once was young.

I'm going to Paris with M early July, then to Oslo on my own for a few days, then back to Paris and home. Can't quite take it in but happy my traveling days aren't over forever. He's gifting me the Paris to and from, and I'm gifting myself the Norway stretch. Won't be easy but life is short. My friend Erik wrote back instantly how pleased they are. Unfortunately they have no guest room so I need to spend on a nearby B&B, and Oslo is very expensive. But I'm so looking forward to it! Will try to book new work between now and then so I don't deplete savings too much.

I haven't allowed myself to do anything like this in a very very very long time.

xxoo
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on March 12, 2019, 07:49:55 PM
Clapping long & loudly here, Hops....
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on March 13, 2019, 08:43:24 AM
Well, that was a very happy read, Hops.

And kind if magical!

I second the ballet flats. 

Lighter

Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on March 13, 2019, 09:03:56 AM
Hops, I'm so happy to read this :)  M sounds as if he has a very full and interesting life, which I think is great.  I honestly believe relationships are better if two people who have varied and interesting lives come together, rather than each other being the sole focus, if that makes sense?  This sounds so great, you are both busy with your own things but you have much in common and various places you can meet in the middle.  And a trip to Paris interspersed with a flying visit to Norway?  Wow.  I am so envious and so very glad for you as well.  What a magical situation to be in.  Your T sounds very helpful and I so wish I lived near you; purging your clothes sounds like an afternoon I would enjoy :)  I'm glad you feel able to go with this and are trying to focus on what's going on now.  It's hard not to think about 'what if'; good or bad, so I'm glad you're having a good time and are able to step out of the paralysis enough to enjoy this :) xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on March 19, 2019, 10:53:22 PM
(((((((Tupp))))))))), thank you.
One of the first thoughts I had when I realized I'd be going across the pond for the first time since 1972 was, I wish I could extend it enough to get to the U.K. and meet Tupp!

It's all still up in the air but I need to get my passport application in tomorrow!

love
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on March 20, 2019, 07:24:41 AM
Meeting up with all of you from the board would be such an amazing thing - we can all hope to do it one day :)  But in the meantime, get that passport application in!  First things first lol
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on March 31, 2019, 08:27:54 AM
Done! Passport in, Oslo and Paris friends contacted for reunion. Dog sitters set for interviews (Pooch will pick the one she likes best).

And...love has been declared. On both sides. Well, his in a series of escalating emails from Costa Rica, where he and his brother have been doing some maintenance at his ridiculous house. (Which also has a "couple" in a "cottage" who do the rest.) Sheesh.

I got right up to the wire, then told him email "can't have everything" and I wanted to see his face when I told him how I feel. He knows. I know. And it's pretty amazing.

His key question so far has been: "What's to be done with two pianos?"

We'll start this week slowly taking steps and talking a ton and gradually figuring out how these two lives might merge. It's only been two months, but here we are. Maybe age escalates things. Something about limited time makes carpe diem easier than in the years when everything could be analysed into particles. For months.

I am in a state of gratitude, astonishment, etc. His only apprehension is fear of loss since he knows how awful grief can be. Mine is not as much that as fear of upheaval, leaving here one day not far away for the other side of the continent. But much as I love my wee house, cocoon, and all the familiarity I depend on, I have also faced the fact that as long as I live alone here, I'll never be truly happy. Sometimes for periods I will be, but not in a sustained way. Friends are dear and wonderful, but none are in my life so closely that even a phone call comes in every day. It's just not the way life is happening. For him, the world is jammed with important people to love, and adventure and work and all sorts of very full activity. I will need my retreats, but I think he's bringing me back to life.

He comes back Wednesday and I asked if instead of a restaurant evening, we could hang out in "jeans and socks." Because he's such a foodie he immediately plans the  meal he'll make. And I said Cheerios would be fine. He said no, scallops. I do not care. This is one area we'll stumble over now and then. His near-obsession with food and my desire to focus more on nutrition than pleasure. Makes me boring but too much fixation on it makes me fat. (And he shows that some, himself.)

So of course he had to order me a collection of fabulous socks. I tactfully refused a string of pearls he brought me from S.F. It turned out to be a wonderful exchange, in which he exuberantly hoped I'd wear them with my own tiny ones (from my Dad) to the formal thing coming up (which I am SO not looking forward to). He mentioned it more than once. I had to wryly but unmistakably explain that I am a Card Carrying Feminist Who Never Lets Anyone Tell Me What to Wear. He not only got it, he loved it. He raved about my independence and honesty.

Knock me over with a feather.

xxoo
Hops

PS - As though to compensate for the pearls thing, I told him I hate my socks, I will greedily accept all the socks he wants to buy me, and he went ridiculous. Raved about Bombas and ordered me a set and backordered all the bright colors. This is FUN! Then he wrote me a whole other thing about loving that I am happier with a gift of socks than pearls. Whew.

PPS - Why I am weird about pearls: As lovely and lustrous as they are, to me they are a reminder of many oppressive dictates about "ladies" as I grew up. I can't escape that association and don't want to. Coco Chanel can go sit on a tack, I just can't do pearls. So he proposed that we make an excursion to a nearby larger city where I get to pick out something that I really do like, and I said sure! (I think something that doesn't cost hundreds and maybe from the art museum's shop.)
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on April 01, 2019, 07:12:14 AM
Hops:

That's quite an update!  Wowsers, and I'm so happy for you: )

Continue speaking your mind, and holding your space.  Don't give it up for a man.  Any man.

If he's truly happy with your independence, he won't crush it... not in small ways.  Not at all.

Hold you ground, Hops.

HOld.

Lighter
ps  I like the idea of you selecting a handmade piece of jewelry that brings you joy, while skipping the pearls. 
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on April 01, 2019, 10:29:17 AM
OK, so I'm giggling over here... you sound head over heels, Hops! And I LIKE IT. I also like that it feels right to you and that he is responsive to your likes/dislikes and respectful.

Go figure; the ancient tomboy that I am... just loves pearls. Maybe for the rediculousness of the contrast between my carhartts and muddy boots. Coco would have the vapors just from the juxtaposition...

Maybe one of the pianos can be donated to a senior center or nursing home?
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on April 01, 2019, 01:52:12 PM
((((((((Lighter)))))))), thanks. I'm not about to dissolve. He is just as vulnerable (in the good sense) as I am. His feelings are uncalculated and transparent. I'll have to deal with his professor ego and giant-size intellect at times but for some reason I feel comfortable being myself. No pretzeling into someone else's fantasy.  say No pretty well, and that's key. Boundaries feel right. He's so excited that I'm the one reminding him to breathe!

(((((((((((Amber))))))))))), you got that country sexy that could TOTALLY carry off pearls and muddy boots!


xxoo
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on April 01, 2019, 02:14:28 PM
Just a gentle reminder that red flags can pop up after the initial hoop hopping has passed, IME.  After you feel fully grounded, and set on a certain particular joyful path, IME.

These flags tend to creep in.... over small things.... once we've put expectations in place.  I think I've heard it explained like this..... "They've been good enough, long enough, that they can do anything to us, and we'll take it."  In other words, they did what they needed to do, to gain our complete trust, and belief in them.   That complete trust is a powerful thing.

If we hear it, and fail to speak up that first time....

If we see it, and close our eyes that first time....

it's that very first excuse we make to explain away a red flag, to ourselves, we have to watch for, IME.

We can't make an excuse.  We have to call them on it, state that boundary, and follow up with the consequences SHOULD THEY FAIL TO COMPLY WITH THE BOUNDARY, and be prepared to follow through, IME.  That's the magic in avoiding unhealthy attachments, IME. 

I think you'd see it, and remain fierce feminist Hops, but I had to put it on the board, just in case.   I'm watchful that way.

Again, I'm so happy for you, Hops!

Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on April 01, 2019, 03:27:31 PM
Yes, thanks Lighter.
I will never allow myself to overlook any serious red flag. I promise.

When I married my second husband who shortly became Mr. Hyde, I let the whole mess endure for seven years, believing in words more than behavior. What I boiled into my bone marrow after that (and being single since 1995 and saying plenty of Nos) ... was that if it meant leaving on my honeymoon, leaving after day one, week one, year one, for the rest of my life I would exercise my right to LEAVE.

If it became necessary, I'd do it again. In a heartbeat. I am not afraid.

xxoo (but thank you for your wariness anyway, I'm really grateful, and feel free to remind me ANY time you hear me rationalizing something here, please.)
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on April 03, 2019, 02:51:37 AM
Oh Hops, this is so lovely to read :)  Wow.  You two really do sound like a good match.  I understand completely the sort of 'let's just get on with it' feeling - and in some I'd see that as a warning sign but, as you've said, you've walked these paths before and your eyes are very open.  He does sound great and I love the fact that he isn't upset or offended by your refusals or requests for something different.  I've found myself thinking about relationships a lot lately and I think the ones that work are the ones where the other person knows our blindspots and our dark areas and embraces them as part of who we are (and that we are able to do that for them).

Completely understand the pearls thing, I have the same issue with heels, which I used to wear a lot because it's what "women do".  I am finding I'm rejecting a lot of femininity as I get older, particularly with regard to things like dying my hair (to cover the grey) and worrying about wrinkles.  My son has concluded that the bath is some sort of anti aging device, as you wrinkle when you're in it but the wrinkles smooth away once you get out :)

I love the image of Coco Chanel sitting on a tack :)  And yes, I get what you say about friends.  I have friends, I have places I can go, I have things I can do but there isn't anyone to sit up late with and just talk about whatever we want to talk about.  I miss that.

I'm delighted for you.  He sounds a much better match than B, sweet hearted though he was.  Can you just keep the two pianos?  I like the idea of one for everyday and one for best :)  Lol xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on April 03, 2019, 09:25:03 AM
 Tupp, now I have this image of Hops having crazy dueling piano dinner parties; )
Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on April 03, 2019, 10:31:47 AM
Tupp, now I have this image of Hops having crazy dueling piano dinner parties; )
Lighter

Lol, whilst having "who can wear the craziest socks" competitions and flinging strings of pearls from upstairs windows :) I can't wait to hear all about it :) xx xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on April 03, 2019, 10:31:50 PM
Since they're both grand pianos, we could put them end to end in some long room...great idea! Nah, I'll likely keep my little house mostly furnished as it is right here, and come back for long stretches. Maybe we'd redo the larger bedroom as a retreat for us both and it could be our pied a terre if he wants to come too. I dunno, but we'll sort it all out. His present ridiculous house is enough space for a family of 10. But given the generations of family stuff he's archiving, he might need it. Not me. I am living light as a feather compared to him and I do not envy the affluence. (I like the basic security for old age part, a LOT, but NOT the "stuff." Ugh.)

Pooch had a great time skittering around on his fancy carpets and charging up and down stairs. He stuffed her with milkbones and although she was vigilant as before, she was more relaxed. The nice thing is he's sensitive and observant. We both noticed when he reached out his arm toward me (to stroke my hair) along the couch she tensed up and watched with concern. No leaping or biting, but she has that memory: man's arm heading toward woman's head, not good! She caught on, though. It's safe. He's great with her and genuinely loves dogs.

Dinner and talking in 3-D at last was wonderful and we had a huge long conversation, still filling in loads of stories and gaps which will go on for ages. Lots of hugs and happiness. And I did get to look him right in the eyes to tell him how I feel and that felt great. We're in a good place, and what's been different for him was that he was on the dating site for one week before running across me, and I had been on and off these sites without success for MANY YEARS. He simply couldn't process that it happened so soon. But he's caught on and is happy too!

So. One day, one email, one time together at a time, and we'll just start accumulating each others' stories and figure out who we are. Since he's a cultural historian, every single anecdote about his family wanders in and out of a huge family tree and he explains somebody's relationship to somebody general such and so and detoured to some ambassador and industrialist A and industrialist B and I am as lost as I would be in a math spreadsheet. But it's how he narrates his world, with constant detours, so I get it. I just talk about people and insights and behaviors and what drives folks. Because the dates and timelines wreck my brain.

Turns out, being miserable and thinking so hard about why for so very long is actually a nice place to be as an older person. I feel WISE! And appreciated, and he's so pragmatic and driven and accomplishment oriented that he's a great balance for someone with negligible executive function.

(I forgot to take the pearls to him. Will do that Saturday. He's already ordered me more socks. This is ri di cu lous.)

love you all, so gratefully...
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on April 04, 2019, 11:08:01 AM
I'm so happy for ya Hops!

Could be you're developing a real connection at the same time, you're having loads of fun - as you each share about yourselves. And you ARE WISE! we have all benefited here from your insights and perspective.

Maybe... just maybe... this is the "missing piece" in your life, that balances the inward looking?

Two of my favorite people finding "partners in joy" - you and Hol - are encouraging me to not give up on my own search for another "Mr. Right" for "Right Now".
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on April 04, 2019, 01:03:31 PM
I think so, (((Amber))).
I really do think for both of us, we're what's been missing.
He's been telling me that in terms of how I think and observe, I'm something he's been lacking his whole life. I respond with compassion to a vulnerability and he's poleaxed. He's been over-driven, forever. Something about that weighty family tree has been holding him down, or holding him back from joy, I believe. So that's what I get to do and it's fun! I also make him laugh which makes me feel delighted, since there's not much I enjoy more.

I was relieved last night when he said there really could be up to two years to sort out the bi-coastal or whatever, and that made me feel less pressure. My hope is we'll turn it into shared creativity and adventure. Meanwhile, it's all so new that every encounter, every email, is full of discovery and fun.

For a renowned professor, he uses exclamation points and hyperbole like a teenager on twitter. (But they're all about MEEEEEEEEEEE.)

It's funny, and wondrous, and ridiculous, and human, and I am so so so lucky.

YOU? Hell yeah, woman. I'm telling you, there's the educated cowpoke survivalist of your dreams in the next holler over, for sure. Once he gets the internet working in his custom mahogany double wide, he's gonna find you. And one look at those boots and pearls and he'll be hitching up his Bobcat, whistling for his bluetick hound and making his way over to dig some postholes to try to impress you.

xxxxooo
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on April 05, 2019, 06:18:54 AM
I have tears in my eyes, Hops, I am so genuinely delighted for you and so happy to read that it's just sort of happening?  Without lots of angst or ignoring problems or pretending things are fine.  Is serendipity the word?  When things just seem to happen?  I'm glad Pooch approves as well and am so very happy for you.  I am really looking forward to reading more about what's happening and what you learn about each other.  Gosh, you really deserve a happy, fun filled chapter in your life :)  I'm so happy for you xx xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on April 05, 2019, 06:25:35 PM
So do YOUUUUUUUU, Tupp, so do you.

When you're down please remember:
1) How truly amazing and smart and wonderful and deep and VALUABLE you are, and

2) If ole Hops can receive a random act of kindness from the universe at nearly 69, it can happen to you too.

I don't think there's any magic potion except that I really did work on accepting whatever is while ALSO insisting that I find some way of being that kept space open for the possibility of good things happening. I'm no "Secret" believer, but I do know thinking that way made life better. Even if M had never responded to my profile, I was still feeling more open. Just...open. Not expecting.

Meanwhile, for you to be moved for me moves me. Thanks, dear. I really mean this gratitude.

(Of course, should M and I unexpectedly hit the dust or I discover some awful deal breaker, where else would I recover? Right HERE, thanks to you and everyone.)

Love,
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on April 06, 2019, 02:17:07 AM
So do YOUUUUUUUU, Tupp, so do you.

When you're down please remember:
1) How truly amazing and smart and wonderful and deep and VALUABLE you are, and

2) If ole Hops can receive a random act of kindness from the universe at nearly 69, it can happen to you too.

I don't think there's any magic potion except that I really did work on accepting whatever is while ALSO insisting that I find some way of being that kept space open for the possibility of good things happening. I'm no "Secret" believer, but I do know thinking that way made life better. Even if M had never responded to my profile, I was still feeling more open. Just...open. Not expecting.

Meanwhile, for you to be moved for me moves me. Thanks, dear. I really mean this gratitude.

(Of course, should M and I unexpectedly hit the dust or I discover some awful deal breaker, where else would I recover? Right HERE, thanks to you and everyone.)

Love,
Hops

I think you are a shining example of how going through all the therapy and the figuring it out and the loneliness and that fear of always being alone can really pay off.  It's nice to see someone being rewarded because they refused to settle and just 'put up' with someone else's annoying habits.  Someone knowing themselves well enough to know what they want, what they don't, brave enough to look through it realistically and willing to risk 'being alone for ever' rather than selling themselves short - it takes nerve :) And yep, there is always a possibility of some awful revelation further down the life but that's life, isn't it?  I am increasingly aware that I'm looking back and regretting not taking some opportunities when I was younger - I had chances to make friends with people but I didn't feel confident enough, I had a chance to go to America as part of an exchange programme when I was at Uni and I turned it down because my boyfriend wouldn't have liked it.  There have been jobs I could have applied for and yes, it might have gone wrong but I wouldn't be wondering 'what if'.  So yes, I am delighted that you were brave enough to keep hanging on in there and to keep trying and I'm so happy that you and M will be playing the piano whilst wearing your mad socks :) xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on April 06, 2019, 02:44:50 AM
I am grateful that you perceive me as having been brave, and maybe at some junctures I have been. But no fooling, I truly have missed and neglected and bailed and skeered myself out of opportunities too in the past (and present) that could have made a very positive difference in my life.

This time I think I've been both lucky and open to the possibility of good things happening and did take one action. After years of it NOT working, I hopped back onto the older-folks dating site one more time, freshened up my profile making sure I said what I really wanted to say, and this time I'd told myself...well, I'm just going to keep at it longer. And stayed busy in between so I didn't obsess over it. And I wouldn't let myself get all up in knots about myself being a failure or success or whatever, however it went...I was just meeting new human beings for coffee. That was all I let it be. So I did enjoy that, even though most of those meetings were one-offs. I didn't regret meeting the "wrong" people, because I just kept the whole thing feeling kind inside toward myself and the other person. These 70-ish guys were vulnerable too. And I'd not even look for messages except about once a week, and contacts were slow. I turned it into just one thing I'd try to remember to check on now and then.

I feel lucky and grateful and so glad for friends here who'll put up with the blow by blow.

love
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on April 06, 2019, 09:50:28 AM
LOL.... telling stories on myself...

Hol INSISTED I let her look at my profile on that dating site and let her edit it. Since she met her new sweetie on Tinder, she now considers herself an "expert". (She always has been a good writer.)

Yeah, there was a glaring "message" that I really didn't want ANY attention, from ANYONE. And that, she said, meant I wasn't being honest with myself about what I really wanted -- and therefore would be interpreted as being a "hot mess" to any guys. It was my usual scaring people off - protecting them from ME - because I really did still feel I was a hot mess at that point in my travels from grief.

She also removed the bit about chasing guys down the aisles with chains and a roll of duct tape. LOL. Dammit. I thought it was cute & flirty. But my perception of these things, I'll admit, might be a tad bit skewed after one considers all I've been through. (Trying to get her to admit the same, of herself, is still a little hard. She compares us, a lot. And thinks she's stronger. LOL... totally forgetting all the years I spent working to help her keep an "open party line" between the gaslighting/projection in her relationship with Matt - and her real self. So she could see it; and deal with it.)

So, I have a live-in "mirror" these days; someone to provide feedback in a constructive, caring way. And that's kinda essential for me, I'm finding. I maybe have a ways to go, before I could claim any "being open" like you Hops, but along with spring dragging it's feet around here... I'm moving through stuff too. Dealing with some of the "other people's approval" of me - or not - too.

Puzzle pieces falling into close enough proximity, that I can see the connections and where each piece goes.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on April 06, 2019, 01:06:59 PM
:::Huge joyful clapping::  Hops!

 So glad you're enjoying M, and twirling like a girl in your heart.

Just twirl away, and don't worry about it. 

The twirling, today, is the important bit, IMO.

Lighter






Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on April 07, 2019, 01:29:22 AM
Thanks for twirling with me, imaginatively, Light!

Amber, how great that you let H have a peek at your profile. I forgot about the chains and duct tape! I remembered it as a fantasy but didn't realize you'd actually included it in a dating profile. Oh Lordy, I'm still hoping for your upscale holler guy.

The formal dinner went fine. The location and the accoutrements were formal but the people were just lovely, warm and kind and funny. His department is truly familial and all show respect and love for each other, and were very nice to me.

He was MC, in his tux, and had to keep hopping up and down to introduce the next speaker. And he did a charming introduction for her (outstanding retiring colleague, a woman, who has had a dazzling career, much of it about Latin American women, bravo!) and friends and former students and colleagues talked too. The young poet I've become pals with was there and I got to meet his lovely wife. The rest was a spinning blur of people slipping in and out of Spanish and lovely wine, great food, and the most beautiful (and historic) room in town as the setting.

We were at "Table #1" up front and I wondered how that would feel, but it was nice. People seemed very curious about me but nobody looked disapproving at all. (I was wondering whether they'd judge him for getting involved less than a year after he lost his wife.) He openly held my hand and when they asked how we met, I deferred to him and he started talking about the restaurant. His brash colleague on my right said, But yes, but how did you meet at FIRST? LOL. So M fessed up that we "met" online, and told them his late wife had told him more than once, "don't be alone." I actually felt fine, not really awkward, glad to be there with him and them. It felt good that he so openly showed that we're a couple and looked so happy.

During the day though, I LOATHED the getting ready. Partial "up-do" at the hair salon looked fine was was so tediou$ to have done, new fancy $hoes, pantyho$e, etc. But I have to admit my outfit (borrowed very glam flowy pants, old but beautiful quilted top, my own quiet jewelry) looked just fine. People did laugh when I seized a wandering insect off the carpet and carried it outdoors. As usual, I had the deepest talk with one of the caterers.

I was feeling pretty airy as he drove me home, and then got all sad. Because he can't stay off the subject of my D. He has a picnic at a winery all planned for tomorrow and I was so looking forward to it, but once he started saying he'd really like a very long talk, and he needs to understand the D story better, and what was the timeline with her estrangement, etc etc. And my heart just sank. It's so painful to narrate it. I even printed out my two "Mothering Again" threads here and re-read them, and all that old misery.... Not feeling it again the way I did at the time, but just feeling "heavy" about the necessity to help him understand it.

I KNOW he adores his family and can't comprehend this. But it'll be really really hard to re-live it through trying to explain it to him. I would rather he let it come out naturally over time.

I felt better after I had the thought: I can explain as much as I want and put a boundary around the rest. Or do it in small installments so as to not weigh down my own spirit. Or even ask, "Can you tell me why a more detailed timeline about her will be helpful for you?" It almost felt like an intrusive question until I remembered how he talks about his own people, like history, with timelines. But as soon as I had the thought that I could turn this back to him, more or less, by asking what is driving his questions, I instantly felt stronger. Vulnerable place.

So I'll cope, and tomorrow will probably be lovely. Nice weather and the winery views are ridiculously gorgeous. Pooch gets to go too, so I gotta get up in the a.m. and give her stanky self a bath.

Night, all.
Love,
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on April 07, 2019, 11:40:29 AM
Hops, it's always hard to tell the story of something that broke our hearts. But I suspect, that this will be a healing telling. Just go at your own pace... don't map it out... and give him time to compassionately feedback to you. Tell it naturally. It's perfectly understood, that not everything will come out the first time you tell the story. And it won't be a linear progression per se either - because you'll be touching on some still sore areas - and that will be A-OK.

Dollars to doughnuts, he'll reach out and comfort you.

Fret not dear. The fact he asked to hear it, in the first place, isn't that he doesn't understand how these things happen in families... My guess is, he already senses how painful it still is and he CARES.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on April 07, 2019, 12:05:56 PM
Gotta go shortly so in a rush...THANKS, Amber.

He does care! No question. But he also has a relentless
mind (appetite for inquiry) and given his powerful career,
perhaps not much sense of his own limits. He has teased
out Islam's deepest roots in the western world as a major
cause of present tribal ills even to today, to much reknown.

So he's approaching my D situation with a similar deep deep
interest in details and timelines, as though as an historian,
he'll get an answer. And I just don't wanna relive all this.

I'll try. With boundaries. I did email him that his probing had
awakened the anguish monster, and he was sorry it had. But
I think this may be a difficult thing to navigate.

The love is there, so I'm hopeful we'll navigate it okay. But
family estrangement just Does Not Compute to him, who is
passionate about family all the way back! So...he's pressing
and keeps telling me (again) how sad it makes him.

I honestly wish he wouldn't. Once I said, "I cannot carry your
grief about my grief. It's too much." And a few days later, he
says it again.

I think my challenge is to learn not to try to fix his sadness
by excavating more "research information" for him. He is
driven by that kind of approach, I think.

Off to winery! Clean Pooch!

xxxxoooo
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on April 07, 2019, 02:47:38 PM
Aww, Hops.  He's a kind, good man who really seems to....

seems to.....

::dropping head::

want to HELP you solve this dd problem... I think?

If he wants to understand, then he'll have to learn about personality disorders, the nonsensical nature of these things, and how PD individuals sometimes (often IME) sabotage themselves along with those closest to them.  That's never going to make sense.... no matter how you tell it, IME.

I'd ask M why he wants to know the details.  Maybe his answer will guide the answers you provide?

From here, there's a linear story, and trying to tell it would lead down painful rabbit holes that go way off track, and are confusing, perhaps, for both you and M.

I suggest writing out the pieces, in the order you want M to hear, to help him understand the situation.  Depending on what he says he needs to understand about it, writing it out might be a healing process that helps him understand, while helping you remain as level as possible.

You can include websites with information about PDs.

Your painful journey, understood clearly, and quickly, is something that could bring you and M closer, IMO. 

If the thread of truth meanders, or he misunderstands, or God forbid makes you feel judged..... that would be a direction to avoid.

I very clearly so both POV.  I didn't have experience with PDs, and truly didn't understand until I experienced it first hand.

The ignorance isn't willful, or meant to harm, but it can, and that feels bad.  I really want M to understand, with economy of motion, while avoiding your most tender spots, or making you in any way feel misunderstood (defensive) which is demoralizing, and my rule has been to NOT discuss these things with people who aren't capable of "getting it."

I don't know if he can understand, but talking to him about it before trying to explain is an imperative, I think.

Maybe providing a few articles about PDs that can help frame your story before you share.

Definitely consider writing it out, and providing it to him.  You can write, read, sort, and re write in your own time, carefully considering the pieces, and putting them together in the most helpful way.  It might help a layer deeper. At least I very much hope so. 

Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on April 07, 2019, 07:08:31 PM
Thanks, (((((Lighter)))) --

In a way, though, for me writing it IS reliving it.
I did print out my two threads on mothering again from here, and re-read them through last. SO much anguish spilled and healed here, I cannot tell y'all.

But today, our magical afternoon really was that. It was hard but since we had a 45-min. drive, and he wanted to know in a chronological way, I narrated through the first half of her life (and my two marriages) -- the outline of when, where we lived, etc. -- taking her own life up to the death of her Dad at her age 19. That's kind of First Half.

When I go for dinner on Wednesday, I promised him the Second Half. Bit in two that way, it's not so bad. In a funny way it does help to go chronologically, not just because timelines are his comfort zone, but because I know I'm now halfway through it! I don't think he understands much about PDs or mental illness, but I've referenced both. I also sent him links to Joshua Coleman's work and a huge review article on estrangement that covers what research there is. Ironically, Dr. Coleman is in SF so if I do move to Sonoma, we'll go visit him together!

I think it'll be okay. Today really was gorgeous and fun and relaxing. We talked and talked and he brought a ridiculously lavish picnic and we did a tasting and bought a bottle of rose and stared at the mountains and wandered around the vinyard with Pooch. There is no more beautiful place in spring.

Back to his house, bit o' cuddling, and by the time I get home he's already emailed me again that he's "crazy, mad" in love with me. He is already hinting at "the rest of his life" with me, and you know, I am feeling it too. We'll see! No rush!!

And when we were on the big porch at the winery his sister called from Costa Rica (I kind of wondered at the timing) and she wanted to talk to me and was SO KIND. Told me how thrilled the whole family is for him and how he told them I've brought him back to life. (He had sunk into a really sad sad dark place after she died.)

One thing I'm stunned by is that there are HORDES of people in his life who are his family or clearly consider him family and so far I've felt nothing but welcome. And a grandbaby in SF on the way!

He's also going to take me to Cuba, where his great aunt lived. We can go there from Costa Rica. I have always wanted to go there!

This is ri di cu lous.

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on April 08, 2019, 07:45:24 AM
Well that's a relief, Hops.  Sounds like everything's working out. 

I couldn't be happier for you. 

CUBA! 

Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on April 08, 2019, 08:08:41 AM
Oh. My. Goodness!

This sounds like a fairy-tale come true Hops. And JUST what the "doctor ordered" for ya!

Do me one favor, though. Stay anchored in "Hop's world" for a just a bit. Your life, still has purpose and meaning, on it's own. I have no worries about this, with you. Just a reminder to take your time about falling head first into an "us". Remember to breathe, in between meetings and emails.

I do understand the time factor; it was something that Mike and I went through. But, it turned out just fine (even though I'm still trying to convince Hol of that, in some aspects; there were parts of him that she saw me "caving" to... that she didn't think were "really me". Maybe she's right. I'm not sure I need to know that, one way or another, right now.)
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on April 08, 2019, 09:01:20 AM
Gently echoing Amber here.

Stay anchored in your world, Hops.

Lighter

Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on April 08, 2019, 04:07:53 PM
Yup, yup.
Still gotta do my taxes.
Still take comfort in coming home to my messy solitude.

One step at a time, despite the exciting announcements.

Thanks, guys...important reminder! I still feel the earth beneath my sensible shoes, but I'm glad you're watching!

xxxxxxxooooooo
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on April 09, 2019, 06:08:08 AM
This is so lovely to read, Hops.  I'm glad his lovely, extended family and work network are welcoming you in to their fold - as they should be!  A lovely addition to the group :)  The situation with your D is difficult; I can understand him wanting to know more and understand (as this is such a huge part of your life) but equally understand your reluctance and worry over pulling those wounds out again.  But you are able to put the breaks on when necessary and I know you will feel you can tell him "Not today.  It's too much".  And I think he will understand, he sounds like the sort of person who hears what people say and that's quite rare.

I loved what you said about having a deep conversation with the caterer at the formal event :)  I did lots of waitressing jobs when I was younger, always at very posh do's, either corporate events or weddings, fancy christenings and so on.  There is always someone (they've usually snuck off for a fag) who ends up chatting to the staff and having their own little party separate to everyone else!  I loved it, always really interesting people and I've always felt you can tell a lot about a person by the way they treat waitresses, cleaning ladies, bin men, road sweepers and so on.  It sounds like a lovely evening (although I can identify with the faff of getting ready for it :) ).

It sounds lovely - fun, excitement, travel, adventure, and interesting conversations and new people to meet.  Aw.  I'm really happy for you xx xx xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on April 09, 2019, 11:14:03 AM
Talked to my T yesterday about how painful it is to answer his questions about D. She said, it was not just grief you healed from, it was deep trauma. I haven't been using that word inside my own mind, but it does make sense. I recall one parent on a forum said complete rejection from an estranged adult child feels like a combination of death, divorce and murder. That rang true.

I DID heal from it. But to be truly intimate with M, I do understand the necessity of telling it. Because he would interrupt me at moments or go on brief tangents, it was difficult to tell him Part One. I got through it and was relieved afterward, but still felt that while he does care, he also is pretty cerebral about it. Being analytical, rather than fully comprehending what it costs me to talk about it.

So I just told him. Wrote him a long email about what my T had said, and spelled out unmistakably how deep and complex is the healed wound he is probling. And how I am willing and recognize the importance of re-lancing the wound to tell the story, I need to ask him to sit with me first for an hour next time I see him (before he bounces around happily concocting dinner, pouring wine, talking nonstop about friends and scholarship) and just listen.

It's tough to draw this boundary but for my own peace of mind, I needed to. Each time he has suddenly talked about how sad HE feels about my loss of my D, it's like a pick, poking into the sorest part of my being. He truly does not want to cause me fresh pain. But I felt I needed to tell him the truth. He does, when he's casual about commenting about it.

One thing I noticed when my dearest, oldest friends were visiting for an overnight last week. Even THEY asked, "Have you heard from D?" It astonishes me. They even knew her, when we lived in another state. They knew my second husband. They once remonstrated with her about the way she was talking to me (contempt). They watched her (and our relationship) deteriorate. They know I haven't heard from her in seven years. Yet, still asked the question. And, the pick went in.

I think it must be rare enough that even the kindest people, people who love you, people who normally display empathy, will just comment, or ask questions, that are really painful to hear. I don't blame them. I don't feel anger. It just amazes me. (I told them the truth: it is over. My relationship with my D is over. We could start a new relationship one day, if she wants it. But the old one is over. Not my love for her, which will never change. But there is no relationship.)

I hope and pray M will eventually come to understand this too. It's not unfinished business. I have finished all I know to do.

Thanks for listening,
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on April 09, 2019, 03:05:12 PM
And thank you, (((((((Tupp))))))!

In my rush to post today I missed seeing your latest. You're right, I can say No to his queries. I hope he learns in time to have the EQ not to bring it up without maybe gently checking, like, is this an okay time to ask you something about your D? If he approached it that way, I'd have a chance to take a deep breath and ready myself and I'll bet 90% of the time I'd say Yes! But though he's a sensitive person, I don't know yet if he's THAT sensitive.

Still, I love him for who he is and it's 90% pure happiness at the mo'.

I really am touched by y'all's vicarious happiness for me. It's so generous.

How is it that blundering into an internet forum (thank you, Doc G!), I found some of the best people anywhere?????

xxoo
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on April 11, 2019, 02:56:15 PM
 (((Hops)))
Your voice sounds quite clear around boundaries, what's finished, what's possible, and your understanding of these painful pieces.

 I hope M understands without too much struggle.

Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on April 11, 2019, 03:04:35 PM
Thanks, Lighter. I appreciate it.

And to my great relief, last night (Part Two) went well. He really listened. (Well, first babbled about scholars a bit, but then settled in and really heard me.) He also understands that I won't want to talk about it casually or frequently.

And one amazing outcome was that despite his kind of "I the professor understand all things" sometime demeanor...he opened up and became vulnerable himself, sharing a lot of stuff about his first marriage. He even said hearing my thought that my D gained a sense of power (when she felt utterly collapsed in her life and with no control at all over anything) from discovering how it felt to reject me (sad but true)... suddenly made him understand something about his ex, who continues to resent and be punitive toward him, even though they haven't seen each other in 20 years.

It was hard but worth doing, and afterward we had our usual wonderful time. Dinner, talking talking talking, and feeling mutual wonder at our good luck in finding each other. It's still amazing. And I'm still very happy about it!

love
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on April 21, 2019, 09:09:56 PM
Hi, Hops.

Update please?

Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on April 22, 2019, 07:14:01 PM
Still joyful, happy and deeply grateful.
We are in sync, talking about the future,
mulling over options and scenarios.

It's hard to believe it's been just three months,
he so feels like part of me. He feels the same.

I am moving from stunned to ... inner peace.
He is the person who came along when I needed
My Person, and warts and all (on both ends), we fit.

So far it remains true and I'm really happy about it.

He writes me ridiculously romantic emails and continues
to cook gourmet dinners for me twice a week. His obsession
with Great Food is one reason he's too heavy, but it's a pleasant
problem for me. Long term, I'll be concerned about his health,
but other than offering a quiet example as I make and often bring
what I call Industrial Salads, that's all I want to do.

There is a deep emotional connection and affinity between us
that is really astonishing and moving. He has two more years
of being a professor to go, so we're doing everything from looking
at listings of houses in Sonoma to reconsidering staying here, living
together in his big house while I rent out mine... and who knows
what else. Lots of travel ideas too (he's invited to lecture in Beijing)....

It's just ri di cu lous and despite various fears of change, I'm happy!

xxoo
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on April 22, 2019, 09:48:29 PM
Wowsers, Hops... that's some update. 

And, it feels like 2 weeks to me! 
Three months?!?
 Holy cow!  That's a relationship!

::nod::.

You're in a wonderful relationship, HOPS!

::jumping up and down::.

This is so different.  So joyful.  So relaxed, and comfortable! 

I couldn't be happier for you... not at all. 

Thanks for checking in.

Lighter

Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on April 23, 2019, 10:43:45 PM
Just so you know how serious this is...
he's interested in joining my exercise class
and asked what to wear, since he has sweats
or jeans or a tutu...

I picked the tutu. And we've been writing ridiculous
emails to each other all evening.

Turns out, for some weird academic insanity reason
he DOES have a tutu...two! Both a green and a gray one,
that match his Georgetown Crew cap (he must've been
a sponsor). So now he's threatening to wear it and I'm
egging him on.

He is, ummm, quite adipose. So, you can imagine......

 :lol: :lol: :lol:

xo
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on April 24, 2019, 08:29:09 AM
That's GOT to feel pretty dang good Hops. Best wishes for fun, gratitude, sharing and togetherness as you go forward.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on April 24, 2019, 08:35:21 AM
Hops, that is so lovely.  That sense of fun and silliness is what is missing from a lot of relationships, I feel.  To be in that situation where you can have a daft joke but also deep and intelligent conversations, know when to joke and when not to - to be secure enough in your self to wear a tutu (and he has a choice of colours!  I love him :) ).  Wow, so lovely to read xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on April 24, 2019, 01:19:35 PM
Oh, the joy of watching chubby little bodies thunk across the floor in tutus.

::nodding::.

I vote he wears the green one.

::nodding::.

Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on May 01, 2019, 03:03:38 PM
And on we go....
very happy Bday in the nearest large city.
Wandered the wonderful turn-o'-century neighborhood with its fabulous restored homes, ate at a Cuban lunchery I'd looked up (he has Cuban roots too, the heritage is insane--Costa Rican, Manhattan, Spain, Cuba, Ireland...fascinating muttage). And he looks 100% Irish so it's funny when he bursts into Spanish all the time with his colleagues or on the phone. Drank beer, talked, laughed, wandered, got silly, toured a condo open house for the hell of it, patted a huge Malinois who was mellow as a St. Bernard (uncharacteristically)...drove home the pretty way that adds 10 minutes in exchange for often being the only vehicle on long stretches of tree canopied road, fields each side. I'll never understand why people forgo that drive for the bland interstate, but suits me they do!

We're waking slowly from the honeymoon-feelings torpor but working our way through things pretty well, communication is good. A few sticky points (he keeps mentioning my D in a tragic tone and I have asked him to stop bringing it up more than once) -- but nothing we can't work our way through.

And we have building anticipation about our trip to Paris (then me to Oslo and him to Jerusalem to lecture for a week, then Istanbul...but he's cutting out the Madrid leg because he says he'd rather come back to be with me). Turns out he'd told himself this sweeping trip would be a kind of funereal tour because he was in such grief, and was beginning to think his life was over (at 72!). Now that we're together he's got a different mindset.

I found a dog sitter who's solid as the earth which is a great load off my mind. She radiates calm and responsibility and I'm so relieved she'll be here with Pooch, whom I've never left for so long.

The where-to-live question does loom and I want to drag it out but pretty much think it's inevitable that I'll need to move into his house. Even though I loathe wealthy white enclaves it is a pretty space, right on a lake, and only 10 minutes farther from downtown than I am now. It'll be emotionally very hard to leave my sweet home, but given that mine's too small for two (and he has generations of family Stuff, sigh) and I'll have two rooms of my own at his (a bedroom and study), it is just not rational to resist the logic of it. He's still looking at sweet properties in the Bay Area but as far as I can tell, we're seeing home base as here, and long visits out there...as our solution. He sounds happy about it (staying here near his friends where he's been for 20 years, and before than in DC which isn't far)...and maybe having a house or condo out where his sons are will increase his feelings of freedom and security -- and he says it'll be a smart investment regardless.

Makes sense. I don't know if it'll be this fall or next fall, but I need to get ready to rent mine out at some point. Don't have to make the decision or the move in any rush, though. We already are together 3 times/week on average, sometimes more.

So far, so good! And I am still very very grateful.

xxoo
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on May 01, 2019, 11:30:27 PM
Lots of gratitude there, Hops. 

Glad the birthday was nice.   

I'm sorry you aren't excited about moving into his home.  Having 2 rooms designated for your sole use is better a positive, IMO.  I hope your comfort level increases.  You need to be happy with the plans too.  Don't settle for something you can't be happy with.   

I'm excited about the travel.  Excited about his ability to reframe his life, and views.  Hurrying home to you, rather than completing his planned funereal tour, is a wonderful thing. 

Finding a good dog sitter takes the stress off that piece.  Good job.  You don't want to worry about pooch while you're away.

I have compassion for his inability to understand the situation with your dd.  He doesn't get it.  He can't.  It won't compute for him.  He needs it to, so he continues looping back, even though you asked him not to.  I have compassion for you, and for him
in that.  I don't know how you help him. 

Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on May 02, 2019, 08:36:11 AM
Hops, the only thing I can suggest about the DD topic - is to tell him flat out, that spending time thinking/talking about the topic upsets you and is painful to the point that you're in danger of recycling into the past and all those emotions and not enjoying yourself in the here & now. That even tho you KNOW this isn't perfect or even what you want, it is, WHAT IS - for now.

And then, when he brings the topic up in passing - ignore it. Move on to another topic. He'll remember with enough practice, even if it's not something possible in HIS lexicon of experience.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on May 02, 2019, 09:22:04 AM
That's such a lovely update, Hops, I'm glad you're having such a good time and there's so much going on.  I can understand the wrench of leaving your place at some point but renting it out rather than selling it makes good sense and I suspect that Mr Tutu will be very open to any decorating/re-arranging suggestions you have at your new mutual home.  And will the rent money give you a bit of an income or will it all go on maintaining the property?  Just wondered if it might help your financial situation a little.

Glad pooch has a good dog sitter lined up!  Very necessary to have someone you feel happy with.  And yes, I get the difficulty with talking about D.  I was talking to some other parents of children with disabilities yesterday and we were all saying how hard it is to have to keep explaining our kids' problems to every person we come into contact with.  Not quite the same situation as D, I know, but that having to keep digging deep is just too much.  I think he'll get the hang of it.  Maybe you can train pooch to chuck a ball at him each time he does it :) Lol.

I'm glad it's going so well.  You sound really happy and it just sounds kind of easy.  Which is so lovely.  I'm really chuffed for you xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on May 09, 2019, 06:47:04 PM
The rent money will be wonderful!
Mr. Tutu's suggestion is that I can use it to fix up this house.
I may squirrel it away out of my depression-era-ish fear of poverty.
Which I know, and YOU know, sucks. But that's tempting, even if
I never live here again. But I could one day, if I outlive him. Which
I don't want to do, simply because I don't want him to grieve.

Yet.
He's also stated that he intends to pay my living expenses once
we are living together. Plus travel. And I believe him. It's ridiculous.
I did insist  on being responsible for my own 2-day visit to Norway,
since he's doing everything else re. Paris. That plus 10 days of dogsitter...$$!                               
In October, we'll go to California to visit  the granddaughter due then.
And it's going to be Costa Rica for Christmas. His brother and sister
are there, and all their kids. 

The thing is, it has sunk in that I have found My Person. And A FAMILY!
He has told me over and over that he wants to spend the rest of his life with me.
And I just say, "I feel the same." I do! I think we'd be smart to live together a
while before formalize it, but we both see marriage as the point, ultimately.

My Person. Not to mention my Pooch's Person! He stuffs her with treats
and then while he's             rubbing her belly gives me a side-eye and
says,   "She's my dog now." We banter and tease about her all the time.
I finally conceded that she is clearly 49% his dog. This is a joyful fantasy
come true. I have fantasized for YEARS about doting on a dog with a beloved
partner,  bantering and teasing together.  And this is happening. It's crazy.

His youngest son arri ves for aweek this weekend and Ican't wait to meet him.

love and thanks fo rlistening! (Cursed spacebar...my laptop's in the shop.)
xxxoooo
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on May 09, 2019, 11:48:24 PM
You've relaxed into this new life, Hops.

It seems right, and good, and worthy of you.

I hope it's all you want it to be, and more.

You deserve to be happy.  '

You deserve family, Hops.

Lighter






 
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on May 10, 2019, 01:26:00 AM
Yes, what Lighter said!

It's really lovely, Hops, not least because you feel comfortable with the things he's suggesting.  You're not getting a sense of him wanting to control or dominate you, or picking up the tab because it makes him feel superior - and you would be picking that up if it were there because you've spent so many years thinking, learning, absorbing and being so honest with yourself that you'd be getting a tingling if there were something else underlying the situation.  But there isn't.  Two very good people who've both been though tough times have found each other and fitted together.  Really does happen.  And Pooch approves!  There is really no other test :) Lol.  I'm genuinely delighted for both of you and very excited about your upcoming trip :) xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on May 29, 2019, 12:24:43 AM
Sigh. Not a relationship ender, but the inevitable pink flag. Can't be all honeymoon all the time, so I'm evaluating this.

M is constantly talking and charming and storytelling. He's very dynamic and delightful. He's mostly fascinating and everyone I've introduced him to has enjoyed his company and been enthusiastic about us.

First time I've disliked him for anything happened yesterday. Two female friends were hanging out on my patio with us and he started talking about his first wife, the mother of his children. They had a painful second half (20 year marriage) that ended in one of those dramas wherein she had the house emptied one day when he was at work. I know that shocked and hurt him terribly and always felt so sorry when he'd mention it. But then yesterday, he holds forth about her for 40 minutes in front of two women friends of mine he'd only met once before each...and the way he tells the story I am disturbed and uncomfortable. He goes on about how awful she is, how one of her sons won't even talk to her, and then adds a gleeful anecdote about how his aggressive divorce lawyer advised him to go after half her federal pension. And he's so proud of that.

I suddenly realized that I think he's part of the problem. Not just the victim of a terrible person, although I have no reason to disbelieve that she turned into one over their marriage. He has told me they loved each other at the beginning and for some years were happy. But he clearly blames her for all of it...being very competitive with him, resentful about his career, etc. Yet he also has had overwhelming academic ambition, too. He acknowledged that once privately, when I was expressing compassion for her, and that she may have felt powerless.

Suddenly I thought, she was deeply unhappy, felt unappreciated (she had a good government job and also raised the kids, whom he adores but I wonder how deeply involved he was day to day)....etc. She may have dark characteristics (she is Norwegian and he blames some of it on that culture as though she's from a Bergman movie) and is estranged from her parents, whom he describes as this lovely old couple she's just randomly cruel to. I wondered instantly, could she be an abuse survivor?

He appears to have vigorously taken up the cause of her ancient parents, befriending them and encouraging the kids to be in relationship to them, which she didn't want. I don't know why, but it sounds as though he chose the kids over her and disregarded her wishes. He just states with complete confidence that they are utterly innocent and she is utterly cruel (she blew off a reconciliation visit). It could be true but sounds too simple.

Anyway, I really don't want to get enmeshed in the details of it...but I am aware his sons talk to M constantly about her and her being difficult, and though he says he's just very upset about their "suffering" because of her, I find myself thinking he's unconsciously enabling and feeding off their dislike of her.

It just felt to me that he was a martyred victim, bashing the mother of his sons to entertain two women he didn't even know well, and monopolizing as though we were all dazzled coeds at his brilliant knee.

I
did
not
like
it
at
all.

I wrote him later and expressed that I would feel less uncomfortable if he even said anything acknowledging her worth and dignity as a flawed human being. He wrote rationally but without feeling about her beauty, intelligence and being "personable" and that they'd had a happy early marriage. But then refocused on the ugly end of it and her terribleness. All may be correct, but I think he's not seeing how it might feel as a woman and a feminist woman to have listened to him talk about her that way, especially on a social occasion. I found it inappropriate and was very uncomfortable. Something about maybe trying to make women like you by trashing another woman with just one side of a story really sticks in my craw.

I felt withdrawn from him today and when he called tonight with his usual sweet murmury talk, I didn't feel our usual connection.

It's a difficult moment. We usually can talk through things but this one worries me. In case it's symbolic of some overall lack of empathy or dismissal of opinions or perspectives that don't fit his narrative. (He is always absolute in his confidence about ideas, all that...) I don't THINK so because he's so kind and generous and attentive and crazy about me, all of that...but for the first time, I feel unsure.

Tomorrow night I go there for dinner and we'll talk. I hope to hell we have a serious talk and he doesn't just blow off my thoughts. I do not want to be involved in his boycott or blaming of his ex. He had another --happy-- marriage in between, fer godsake. But I don't want to listen to him bashing her like that any more. It's not sitting right for some gut reason, and I definitely consider it a pink flag.

Thanks for listening,
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on May 29, 2019, 12:59:10 AM
Sorry, Hops. 

I don't have enough info to chime in here, but I do know how it feels to need people to understand the true essence of what happened in a relationship where one person manufactures chaos and destruction while others try to limit and heal the chaos. 

You don't know if the ex was abused, or if she's driven her kids away with PD behaviors that are truly impossible to live with.  You don't know if she's been abusive to the kids, for that matter.

I do appreciate the pink flag of someone, anyone blaming everything on the ex.  There's always a part we play, and it's nice when everyone steps up and owns what's theirs, kwim?

Then again..... children suffering, bc of PD behaviors, is a touchy subject for me.  I never understood it.  Can't abide it.  It sort of makes me crazy, and maybe there's a little bit of crazy going on for M on that topic too?  I can see wanting to strike out at her, verbally, and doing so when he's thinking about the kids.  It's upsetting.  People get upset about it.  They SHOULD be upset, IME.  Torture other adults, but don't harm the kids. 

It sounds like you have a charismatic man, who likes attention.  It sounds like he's used to commanding a room, and that it's nice most of the time, but not always.  There will be sweet and sour moments, unfortunately.  No one's perfect.  Everyone deserves the break we'd like to have for ourselves.  Love is about embracing everything... the negative qualities as well as the positive ones.  We can't have just the lovely aspects of a partner, and they get our whole package too.

Again, I'm sorry the first flag is waving, but encouraged you're communicating.  Working on feeling better about it seems like a good idea. 

Lighter

Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on May 29, 2019, 01:45:28 AM
You are a wise and sensible woman, Hops, and you and M will have a proper conversation about this, I'm sure.  My thoughts, for what they're worth -

You have no fear about bringing this up with him - that's a good sign.

If this incident indicated a generalised attitude towards women/other people/his own sense of self importance/abuse etc - I think you would have seen it long before now.

I think abuse and abusive relationships are always difficult and can be seen from different angles - in many cases there isn't a clear right and wrong.  Many people describe my mum as a lovely lady - she's always been lovely to others because it's part of the way she gaslights and convinces people I'm nuts and making everything up.  Relationships from years ago change in people's minds over time; we all forget things or even start to see things differently as we learn more in life.  It might be that he's stuck on some aspect of this (I'm blown away sometimes when I realise I've still got a nugget in me over a chance remark some bloke made to me thirty years ago - sometimes we just don't realise).  This might be his flaw or achilles heel, that part of him that isn't great, glossy, fun, uplifting - we all have those.  But I think the important thing is that you are both able to talk freely about this and separate out what happened many years ago from how things are now.

It's good that you're assertive enough to pick up on what makes you feel uncomfortable, verbalise it and are confident enough to discuss it with him.  And from what you've said he'll be able to listen and respond, and it strikes me that he'll be honest rather than just telling you what you want to hear?  That's just the sense I've had from what you've told us about him - he seems like an honest guy, rather than a flattering one?

Let us know how it goes.  In a way I think it's a good thing, Hops - there has to be a bit of a reality hit when you start seeing someone, because we've all got our flaws and dark secrets.  I think what's good is that you're both assertive and intelligent enough to discuss things openly and without fear. xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on May 29, 2019, 10:35:56 AM
Ok, this story and the way it was told bothers you Hops. And you're not inflating that to be more than it is, which is also good. So, let him tell the REST of the story about why that came out that way. Maybe that'll change your understanding of why he holds a little bitterness there - or it'll confirm something about him that is difficult to see under his general charisma and charm.

Given the level of discussions that Hol and I have, I've come to see that I still hold a lot of anger about Ex#1 (her dad)... a resignation about the way Ex#2 wouldn't meet me halfway within the relationship... and a little about the subtle ways Michael would stifle me and try to mold me into what he thought I should be. It's still so difficult for me to talk about the things that happened with Ex#1 that despite him living about an hour from here - I will NOT have him visit my house. He's a complex mess of hypocrisy, gaslighting, manipulation and other attributes that I found totally abhorent & horrifying (given my background) that I damn near have a panic attack at the thought that he would just drop in on us unannounced - like he did with Hol out at Steve's. (She was also creeped out by that behavior.)

So yes - when I speak about him I am pretty much 100% negative. Fortunately, I've forgotten so many of the stories and details and have learned how to let the past be the past and not NOW... that I can manage my emotions about it a lot better. Hol's perspective is naturally different than mine - and I acknowledge that difference for her. Just like she's seen with her own eyes, why I might feel the way I do. But he says things about me, that are even much worse than my "warding off the vampire" emotional verbiage STILL. It's been going on for all these years and he's never varied his strange version of the facts.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on May 29, 2019, 03:30:44 PM
Hops:

I have to wonder if M just doesn't know how to use verbal jujitsu to BE HEARD, and not punished, when speaking about PD behaviors.  I remember a thread, or more than one, on this board where I was trying very hard to learn how to DO that.  You were helpful.  You tried to help me DO THAT.  Doc G tried to help me figure it out.  I think CB actually showed me with her own post to the same person I was trying to speak about, and it's a very difficult thing to do!

There's so much confusion,and misunderstanding, and the PDs thrive on it.  The truth tellers get crushed by it, IME.


Sometimes it's that we fail to gage the moment..... speaking about PDs can be like farting on an elevator, IME.   

I wonder why M was talking about it.  Did someone else bring up an ex, or a break up, or something that had him chiming in, OR was he using that story to entertain the troops, and misjudged his audience? 

I have to wonder if he knows you at all, Hops.  How could he not know your radar would go up on that one?

He should be schooled, and I hope you can treat his  misteps as opportunity to educate, rather than get defensive. 

I hope you can remain curious about his story, and the ex, and her parents, and the children in the middle of this debacle. 

Sometimes there's a PD in the middle, manufacturing chaos and confusion.  If M is that PD, then you better to know now, than later, IME. I think a few calm conversations about this will give you plenty of answers.


Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on May 29, 2019, 05:15:37 PM
Thanks so much all...I'm so grateful for YOU!!!
Will be quick now as I have to leave shortly (more later) but in brief:

Tupp--your reassurance that I can do this, communicate maturely, is huge. MWAH! Thank you. You always remind me I am more adult than I realize I am. Whew.

Skep--Yes, I get it why you don't allow the ex. I think M has residual hurt and anger, and his refusal to engage w/her makes sense. Just not sure what he's doing w/his kids, the older of whom does want his kids to see her and wants to maintain connection. I also think M has a big ego and competitive drive, which brought him huge success but may have soured their love. His crowing about taking half her pension doesn't sit well. With Real Money at stake their divorce battle must've been bloody. But...ugh. I'm a woman chronically stressed by unequal pay, so it was hard not to feel for her. He said she's fine now, living in a nice house. Just to rattle the branch, I might ask innocently, "Since you don't need it, ever thought of giving back the pension claim?" (No, I won't. But it's tempting!)

Lighter--I don't yet know whether M's ex is PD. Sometimes I'm unsure whether behavior that looks toxic is PD, or is trauma survivor attempts at self defense. Your thoughts make me think, though...and that's the best help. Thank you.

All--I will do my best to find clarity whether it all comes tonight or not. May need to not dig it vigorously all at once, but I'm feeling calmer about it and sense that more insight will come in time. I'm no longer reacting with recoil or anger but will know better how I feel about it once I'm with him again, in an hour.

THANKS for your support, I go forth with wise Amazons at my back!

love, muchly--
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on May 30, 2019, 07:55:32 AM
Morning, Amazons.
Thank you again so much for those messages...soooo helpful.

Talk at M's went okay. I don't think he fully grasped the thing I was trying to convey about how it felt to me to have him holding forth about his ex that way in front of my friends. He said "I don't care if it's not a good look, I was telling the truth!" But he told me a lot more about her, more incidents that did sound strange, hostile, and dramatic. He is very dramatic himself (has told me before he's a "drama queen") but one in particular was memorable. She asked him for a ride into Georgetown one day (they lived outside DC) and wouldn't specify why, so he dropped her off. Later that day he got a call from the hospital, a nurse saying "Your wife is ready to go home" -- she'd had a full facelift without telling him, but didn't arrange her transportation home, so he was rushing to the hospital all freaked out, etc. It was upsetting to him in a big way. They arranged for her to spend one night but to learn about it there, with her all bandaged...was freaky for him. I couldn't think of anything but, She got your attention.

Anyway, with that I felt I'd heard enough. They had a totally toxic, no connection breakdown of their relationship. I do think some of it had to do with his complete focus on ambition and her way of reacting was unhealthy and awful. It sounds as though she did escalate and use a lot of passive-aggressive surprises (facelift, house emptying) and something was very wrong with her. And he wasn't tuned into her at all. Miserable for her, between them, and he was plowing ahead. Ugh.

But I also connected more with understanding that he really was hurt and shocked by the end of it. He has clearly never fully gotten over it and really doesn't want to see her. He said, Well you can meet her at some birthday party, and I could walk over and say, Marete, I'm sorry for everything that happened to you. But every time anyone tries anything conciliatory toward her, he said it gets turned back around in their faces.

I understood better what he's dealing with. Or not dealing with. And I don't think he feels okay about it and tries to manage it through listening to the kids complain about her. (And venting to strange women he's just met.) I told him I thought it'd be a lot healthier if the kids, who are adult men in their 30s, dealt with their Mom stuff with therapists, because talking to him about it so much isn't good for them since he can't give them what a therapist could, imo. Then I just let it go.

It was a tough talk (Pooch was agitated and a good buffer -- "mommy and daddy aren't fighting, we're talking" and tuning in and laughing with/about her helped us reconnect). But we got into a better space.

Weird. Relationships. Trust. And especially for me -- closeness v. recoil. I have to manage my own feelings so I don't over-react, too. The whole thing affected me.

But it's a beautiful day, we'll see each other at exercise class shortly and I work this afternoon. Friday I'll go swim at his place and then we'll eat downtown. I think we're going to work through this. And one good thing was we did talk well. No big argument, but a difficult conversation. It's pretty complicated and I will be well off to stay out of their old stuff, I think.

love
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on May 30, 2019, 09:51:38 AM
Since I'm currently experiencing my own "close encounter with extreme unpleasantness from the past"... a couple things, from how I'm trying to thread a path to beyond it.

1. It still feels just as awful, threatening, whirlwindy, steamrolling as it did initially. Every.Single.Contact. That's my problem and I have better coping mechanisms that I engage immediately. It doesn't make the feeling go away; it just allows me to bear it until it subsides.

2. It's not my job to respond anymore to the catalyst that sets that off in me. (Merely, take care of myself.) NO has been said loud and clear, I'm not changing my mind, and I MUST - for my own good - absolve myself from blame & responsibility for any choices or consequences that I don't control that arise from it in the future from that NO. I'm fully free to choose "NO", and I don't have to explain why to ANYONE.

3. There is a very dangerous, volatile and unpredictable anger underlying the fear, confusion, and frustration and horror on the surface of my feelings. Venting that, analyzing while in this state, all lead to higher probability of conflagration. When I'm not feeling this way - is when I can make rational choices and gain insights.

4. I'm well aware my reaction would appear to be out of proportion to actual facts here. I'm owning that; and the experience that's contributed to the feeling that has a life of it's own. But that's how certain I am that I won't touch anything about the situation or this person, with a 10 foot pole.

My previous "no" was apparently not taken seriously or even heard. Fortunately, there are others who a) feel the same way and b) we are united in our response. 

Communication isn't possible when you're not actually heard or your feelings accepted as legitimate under the circumstances.

Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on May 30, 2019, 10:18:30 AM
Hops:

I'm sorry you didn't completely clear the air with M, bc he'd do well to fully understand your feelings in this matter, IMO.  Baby steps.

That said, it's hopeful you could talk, and not argue.

As long as you don't feel you're being herded into NOT having a dissenting opinion, into NOT being able to raise concerns, into NOT speaking your mind, even when it's not easy for M..... I think you're surf'n real good: )

Trauma bonding is a slow creeping thing, IME.

Amber, I was told that feelings, like you're experiencing recently.....
the in your face HERE AND NOW FEELINGS are best dealt with through somatic T.  I can say that the little Somatic T I did helped a good deal. 

Truth be told, I hate that those negative feelings have any power over you at all.  The same with my stuff.... I hate losing another minute to them.

I think it would be better if those powerful reactions and feelings could be banished, instead of endured.  I don't want to simply endure.  I want to notice when they're absent, and feel gratitude that they're gone, or at least lessened, which is where I am now.  I don't go out the door every morning with my guard up, and it's a revelation I hardly notice anymore.  Not that I'm out of the woods, bc I'm not.  I just have more distance, and I needed help to do that.   

lighter



Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on May 30, 2019, 11:09:12 AM
Most of the time, I do have that distance and can stay centered in objectivity more than emotion. But due to some "piling on" the past few weeks... I was vulnerable because of the timing.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on May 30, 2019, 11:11:42 AM
You do have a lot on your plate, Amber.

Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on May 30, 2019, 12:03:10 PM
I think the fact that you're able to talk about it without fear, or an argument, or someone walking out or slamming doors, is the key thing, Hops, and I'm glad you've been able to chat it through.

I know I have my own hang ups, triggers, over reactions, under reactions and so on.  We are what we are, warts, bad experiences, bits we still aren't ready to deal with yet and we all have that, whether we know it or not.  I think the honesty and openness you both have is amazing and I love that he is real with you - he didn't pretend it was anything other than what it is, or has been.  I think this is a good blip to get through (and there had to be something, what with tutu twirling and whisking you off to Paris, something in there had to be a bit grainy! lol).  I'm glad you've talked it through and got it all out in the open xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Garbanzo on May 31, 2019, 11:44:10 PM
Wow Hops a full facelift without telling him.  (some cliche saying here about how we all have an inch of dirt in our bags??    :)   At least you have the balls to try a relationship.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on June 08, 2019, 09:53:28 PM
Well I'm hangin in, Boat, but it's not as swimmingly smooth as it was.

That's okay. Honeymoon feelings only last so long.

He went into a needy clutchy anxious spiral and my reaction was withdrawal
and we've spent a week trying to reconnect and get up out of it in a healthy
way. But I've seen the other side of all this romanticism.

Difficult but not impossible, and I still think he's my person. I'm just resisting
enmeshment that he thinks is flattering and I find claustrophobic.

I've been alone a LONG time and he hasn't been alone a full year. I realize we're in pretty different spaces as far as autonomy goes, and I'm fierce when someone messes with it.

All in all, though, I'd say we continue to communicate earnestly and fairly well. Once he stops interrupting, that is.

He basically proposed tonight in an off-hand way. I just calmly said, since it's so early, how about we talk about it every couple of months? And he didn't argue.

Oh lordy.

xxoo
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on June 09, 2019, 12:21:41 AM
I think you're right to protect your autonomy, Hops.  It takes a lot of hard work to be in a comfortable place with being alone, and to build up a work base, community base, friendship base and so on.  So very important to hold on to that and keep that element of separateness, I think.  Interestingly, I have only two friends who have relationships that to me seem healthy.  They've both maintained their own lives rather than becoming one unit.  They love each other, obviously, and do things together, but also have each kept their own careers, friends, hobbies etc.  I think it's healthier and more realistic.

And the honeymoon period - sigh!  So lovely, but has to settle into something else at some point.  And hopefully it will settle into something comfortable yet still fun (minus the interruptions :) ).  It's a rocky path, Hops!  But I'm very glad you have your hiking boots on and are following it :) xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on June 09, 2019, 10:23:17 AM
It's OK for him to NEEEED you the way he needs you, and it's OK for you to put boundaries in place and protect them.

Once you give up autonomy, it's gone, Hops.  I agree with Tupp.  Don't let it go.

Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on June 09, 2019, 10:38:07 AM
Hmmm. Yes Hops, I like your idea of revisiting a formal commitment every few months for the time being. You both are still acquiring and digesting information about each other. Trying it on for fit and comfort. That makes absolute sense, even while you're noticing a shift from the honeymoon phase to a deeper level of intimacy. Wait and see how the new level fits and feels. All while still having fun and enjoying each other - and possibly extending the honeymoon phase in other ways.

My update referencing the jumble of old and new while in a period of change might have some clues for ya. I think the older we get, the more intimidating change seems - especially when it involves a commitment somewhere in it. And some of us lose our patience easier with drama over the years too. I spend a lot of time, mentally reducing what seems like complex situations into as simple an equation or choice as I can. Hol thinks that's kinda silly and pointless... but getting down to brass tacks has always served me well. She can get hung up sometimes in the "he said/she said". I jealously guard the process of getting to "simple" and my conclusions too. But I still like to bounce it off other people's perception for what I might not be seeing. 2nd opinions always show me something I didn't assess correctly or understand or just dismissed. But my own conclusions - so often denied me - and my way of getting there, ARE one expression of my autonomy. You bet your bippy I clutch it. (Sometimes it's justified; sometimes it's not.) It's just another way of experiencing boundaries for me.

Re: enmeshment...

every couple needs to negotiate where the line of "being one couple voluntarily" and "enmeshment" encroaches on autonomy is... and it may be the kind of thing that is always in flux, 24 hrs a day. But that's based on my own experience (so far) and is to be taken with a large grain of salt. You have needs; he has needs; sometimes they might conflict... sometimes they are perfectly compatible... and sometimes, one or the other needs to step up and sacrifice a bit for the other. (no point by point scorekeeping allowed! Just big picture balance of giving and receiving, and yes - situations in the present can impact that.)

I *think* (for now) that once you've seen what enmeshment IS, it's not possible for you to blindly walk into that situation again. The repetitions that seem to be a pattern for some people, come with that particular set of blinders... of craving for the "old normal" of the devil we know. So you CAN trust yourself to see, feel, think all the things required to maintain your autonomic boundaries now. You have definitely seen what enmeshment IS, how it occurs, and what the danger signs of "incoming" are. It's unpleasant to encounter it to any degree... but if it can be honestly discussed and negotiated it doesn't have to be an ongoing problem.

It's definitely something that Mike & I were always trying to sort out. Not always comfortably either - but throughout the process we both understood the bottom line: we had each other's backs no matter WHAT else was going on or who we, as individuals, were. That kind of loyalty seems to be getting rare in this day and age... but it ranks right up there on my need list. And it's something I know how to give, too. I understand completely that other people are different and have other needs. It's not even easy to see what those things are, all the time, in ourselves. My tendency to see it negatively, is to unfairly judge myself as "needy" emotionally. Well, then if that's "needy"... that's my only "needy" spot. I've always been so much more outwardly focused - caretaking others, having many things under control and running smoothly, etc. silly occupational proclivities - that I think, now... I can give myself a pass on this particular "need" I've finally identified, after all the rambling blathering I've done here and other places.

Do you have any ideas what your "one thing" might be yet?
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on June 09, 2019, 01:12:11 PM
Tupp, that rang so true to me, about the only healthy relationships you know being ones where they maintain a lot of independence. Love and return, go and return.

Lighter, yes, I think so too. I have this sense that once I capitulate over my own resistance (rather than voluntarily releasing it)...that would end it for me, inside.

Amber....
Quote
My tendency to see it negatively,

I got lost and don't know what this "it" referred to, dang me. Important discussion for me at the moment. And thanks for the thinking. Please tell me more.

Everybody--I can describe....something I fear a bit. Because I don't know if I fully understand what's happening.

He has a lot of natural, understandable, unshocking, anxiety that I completely empathize with...about physical intimacy because his cancer operation left him dependent on an injectable aid to function. First time he told me about it, months ago, I immediately told him it didn't matter to me at all, I'd been with two people with those issues (one due to spinal injury, one to cancer) and I truly understood all the aids and accomodations, and it never had any affect on my desire or enjoyment of closeness etc. He was touched and relieved and as we weren't getting right down to business but very affectionate and enjoying our emotional bonding, I didn't obsess.

Same as with R, I set my boundary early by explaining that I favor slowwwwwww, old-school courtship these days and am in zero rush. Looking forward to intimacy but without urgency. He was just fine with that, said my pace was the only pace, he'd never push it, and he completely understood.

Until he didn't. Recently I have felt BADGERED. He was actually physically clutching at me and whining. Whining. Making unsubtle moaning noises at me that sound exactly the way he sounds when devouring fabulous food. Leering, trying to be sexy and suggestive, telling me repeatedly (cannot understate "repeatedly") about his overwhelming desire for me, and then it just went "clunk" inside me.

That is the sound of me turning off. I wound up telling him I was feeling pressured and he goes, oh no, I'm not pressuring you, and I go, yes you are. Can we please just let it rest a while, and give me a chance to catch up with you? I WILL catch up with you and DO look forward to it, but it's been 15 years and I'm easing awake.

Then there was the night I started to stay over, slipped into his spare bedroom as he began snoring, realized I didn't want to be there (he had badgered and begged, stay over stay over), tiptoed out with pooch and as we headed to my sweet l'il home realized I was so GLAD to be out of there. So GLAD he'd fallen asleep. Felt literally like an escape. The room for me was nice but full of her religious books and just wasn't my own space. (All that's okay and he removed them the next day.) But just the feeling was, this isn't quite ready. I'm not quite ready.

M doesn't mean to do this next bit. I think his recent meltdown has been out of his control. But what was feeling like a haven and a nest could begin to feel like a sticky web if he doesn't get a grip. I'm not blaming him, I'm just discovering a layer of him. Deep vulnerability that I can sometimes welcome and sometimes not.

He has an extremely difficult time letting something go. He perseverates. He repeats and repeats and repeats (I have such desire for you). There is no rest from it and it backfires in me retreating. Wanting desperately to fuse, he winds up unintentionally causing more distance. The flood of talk becomes floods of messages and I feel like a flooded engine. (Hmmm, not bad. Need to explain it to him that way.)

Weds I was going to a potluck with covenant group women, greatly looking forward to it. M and I had a tentative plan to watch Handmaid's Tale together afterward but I wanted to leave the evening open...if I wanted to stay late and talk with friends instead I wanted that option. So I told him, I'd like to decide on that when the potluck ends, and I'll call you as soon as it does and let you know either way. He emailed, texted, emailed again and emailed AGAIN to tell me he so wanted me to come. I'd seen him three times in recent days and was looking forward to the serenity and close conversation with my women friends. Then maybe a night alone.

With every reply, I gently and sweetly repeated, "I'll call you right after it and let you know either way." Yet over and over....he tells me what he wants. AGAIN. Later I did go and it was fine. We had a nice time watching it together. But I had been frustrated about his repeated messages. Turned out he'd had a horrible day emotionally, virtual panic attacks about me withdrawing, so he was clutching.

It reached peak struggle before I actually felt angry with him. I woke up to a yearning, moany voicemail about please please please call me, so I did, and somehow his voice and endless repeated explanations about what he wants just set me off. I told him his anxiety is overwhelming me and setting off my own and I really want him to see a counselor who can help him manage it, because I can't manage his emotions FOR him. He actually agreed and said he'd be able to get a grip and deal with it. He'd basically had an afternoon-long panic attack. And he IS willing to see a counselor. (I also offered to do it with him if he thought it'd help.)

Last night I got more insight and I think we connected better. At dinner he talked (and talked) about how intense and powerful and passionate and ultimate and earth-shatteringly different the intimacy we already have emotionally and intellectually is for him, etc etc etc, more than with either of his two previous wives, unique, special, ultimate, essential, he wants me for the rest of his life, on and on and on. I get it. But I think he just opened up another layer.

We were talking about the deaths of our parents. He has told me about the long stressful vigil for his father, involving getting both his sons to the family place in CR, the vigil that went on and on as family flew in and out, two weeks each, endless, exhausting. I understood and appreciated this epic kind of story which, unfortunately included a kamikaze arrival of his now-ex (1st), about whom he is still very bitter.

The thing is, before that started, I had started to tell him the simple but important to me story of my own father's death. Not epic, not dramatic, involving only me and him, a quiet guest room, music...and those moments, which were poignant but beautiful. But M interrupted me as I was halfway through, began telling his own, and he was off to the races. I struggled to hold on to his attention so I could complete my own story, but he was on a roll. I decided to release it, completely, and listen well and wholeheartedly. So I did.

He talked nonstop for over an hour. It went from a repeat (with more detail) of the ex's horrible behavior that undermined him, then through his father's death, back again to the ex's sabotaging awfulness, then into his night in a treehouse while he wept and shook in shock that she'd emptied the house and left, then moved forward into the death of his recent ex, a blow by blow of her cancer (pancreatic) and their final trip to Costa Rica for reunion with her grandsons, a difficult and epic journey back home after confirming blood tests in San Jose, how she at one point had to lie down on the floor in the airport, and how he felt responsible for all of it, and then home, and how he arranged for her two sons to come from CR, vigil again, long and terrible, right through to her death and some aftermath.

My heart was with him. I felt tender and consoling. I was glad to know these stories in that much detail. They are pivotal in his life and they matter.

I did tell him I understood exactly what he was saying about the behavior of his ex, but that since we do not know what happened in her childhood, I wanted not to relitigate his divorce from her over and over, but to let it go. I got a good picture of his intense sensitivity and how the family deaths affected him, and how terrible the experience of losing his wife a year ago has been. Loss, loss and loss...and intense fear of any more. (I.e., me. He's not losing me so far but things did change some.)

He said it's a terrible thing to love someone you could lose to death. (I said, we all do.) He really is sensitive and was raised in a culture that demanded men always be in control. I began to sense who he REALLY is, under Mr. Professor.

Anyway, watching tears roll down his face in the restaurant booth, I was moved and understood, and truly comforted him. I listened deeply. I could sense his relief.

Yet there's a part of me that wonders, will I ever get to tell him a story that's important to me the way he just told me those? Will he ever just listen?

So. Autonomy and boundaries and maintaining other close relationships with friends are going to be absolutely essential to me. I think that's always true, you don't buy milk at the hardware store. He doesn't have to fill all my needs. But he has to understand that I can't fill all of his either.

Him managing his own anxiety is critical. I've been around clutchy panicky men before, who are having trouble not making their own vulnerability my entire responsibility....and I know where it leads.

My second husband turned me into his mother. He became infantile at times. I see this risk with M.

Clunk.

Yet. On balance I know he is a very good man. A decent person. Someone who truly wants to share life and would be utterly loyal and kind and genuinely appreciates me. He's less than a year from the trauma of losing his wife, he was completely lost when we met, and I've become his new lodestar. So when I'm not "making progress" fast enough (toward sex) for him, he's gone into a spin about it.

I get it. But the pressure feels dangerous to me, emotionally. I told him I learned later in adulthood that because of my mother it took me a very long time to learn I needed to have boundaries and a separate self, and it's difficult for me to navigate that at times, and that any pressure to attend to someone else's overwhelming emotional need reminds me of dealing with her and triggers anxiety of my own.

He understood. He's a very intelligent man. But lately, he's been very challenging to deal with.

I think we may have come around a corner last night. He stopped badgering, he seemed to feel relief after that long long talk and tears. So I do think it's going to get better. And the good news is I do still love him. (Even find him desirable, always have. Just wanna go slow.)

We'll see. His ruminating and melancholy and obsession with fear of loss...I understand them. And if he gets some support from other people too, especially a counselor, I really do think we'll be okay.

But wowsers. Nitty gritty are us.

Thanks for listening....all. I so appreciate it.

love
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on June 09, 2019, 03:10:22 PM
Well Hops, your perception and level headed approach to the whole situation are very impressive, as is your ability to see the good parts and balance them without making light of what's bothering you or just ignoring it.  There's a female comedian here who jokes about women only being able to hide their PMT from new boyfriends for the first three months.  After that, they can't suppress it, but the boyfriend is in love by then and can't leave :)  It's funny, but there's a lot of truth in it as well - we present a side of ourselves when we first get to know people and slowly the real us comes out.

It does sound as if M has some issues of his own he needs to deal with and it's good that he's willing to see a counsellor.  And I do hope things sort themselves out and start to settle as you've had so many good things to say as well.  But it does all sound very exhausting for you and yes, becoming someone's mum isn't a prospect that anyone relishes (and you're wise to be clear about avoiding that).  Someone calling or texting me frequently would drive me nuts, too - call, leave a message and wait.  I can understand you feeling turned off and pulling away.  I hope he is able to understand that as well, and to slow down a bit with everything.  It would be a great shame for him to lose you because he wants you too much!  So I hope he can start talking things through with someone soon and start to calm down a bit.  Well done to you for keeping a calm head through all of it xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on June 09, 2019, 03:31:19 PM
Thank you, (((((((((Tupp)))))))).

Your capacity to see the heart of a narrative, understand what's happening and in perspective, just blows me away.

I truly appreciate it. I do think we'll be okay and felt so much better after letting it out here.

love
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Garbanzo on June 10, 2019, 04:45:39 AM
Wow propose. hehe at least you have some romantic drama to talk about and make you feel desired.  But yeah, for those of us who spend time alone and even need alone time to recharge sometimes.... well I don't like the idea of someone being around all the time it's too much.

Congrats whatever you decide. It's cool.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on June 10, 2019, 08:57:37 AM
Busy morning around here Hops. But the "it" I usually see negatively, is my great need for someone at my back, helping protect me... sometimes even from myself. It's something I consciously work on and my years of solitude has helped considerably. So, at present, it's not "gone" but it's managable.

I have a lot to say later, about M's anxiety and fear of loss. Just no time right now to do it justice. I will say, it sounds like you've found your own way of understanding, absorbing and dealing with it and your plan (the counselor) is wise and considerate and helpful. Chances are, you and M can work through this and smooth out the transition to those deeper layers.

Your insights are apt and compassionate; and your wisdom is something you can have faith in.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on June 10, 2019, 12:02:33 PM
Well, I needed a couple days on my own. I told him I needed to be alone for a while and he said "of course." And then wrote messages, left voicemails, and so forth.

This morning he called again (an hour earlier than he'd said he would) and said he had a very important thing he wanted to give me (I'm seeing him tomorrow night). I said, let's do that tomorrow evening since I'm coming then anyway. He presses and presses--Oh I won't come in, I will just drop it by, etc etc. I said no, please don't, I'd like to do that tomorrow night. He finally agrees to wait, but still had to talk about it, at length.

M says: But let me tell you how important a gift this is...I've had it for YEARS...then he describes a student (who'd paid him a huge compliment about his teaching) from another country who gave him this gift. It happens to be an object after which I'd titled a poem that M. loves. And that's very sweet. But it's not an emergency. His intense desperation to connect with me is not an emergency. Yet to him, it is. Any excuse to just see my face, have me smile and kiss him. Then he'd be okay again for a little while. That's not healthy. I don't want to be NEEEEEEEEEEEEEDED (as Lighter said) to that degree.

I brought up anxiety and attachment issues, and he said "Of course, I understand that" (which is the kind of thing he says about everything). But his behavior...

But I understood what was happening. Last night the pretext was, "May I call because I just want to ask you a silly question?" I said, please don't, I just need to be on my own for a while. Today the pretext is, "May I just bring you the gift?"

He's ruminating again and building up to another anxiety freakout. I have withdrawn a bit, just for a while, to rebalance myself. I explained to him on the phone just now that for me, the whole cycle of his anxiety and the pressure to reassure him was destablizing for me and I need time alone with my own thoughts to "recalibrate" myself. He instantly says he understands (he says that to almost everything I say) but then offers a few little digs (which he denies): "You're using subterfuge, not being direct with me..." I say, I don't like the term "subterfuge" and he says "oh no, not that, etc.".

But the good news is that he did reach out to arrange some counseling.

I've started to understand that the hyperbole that so entertained me at first is pretty toxic when applied to us. "You are the center of my world" kinds of things. He says that kind of thing constantly (in much more elaborate form) and I've started to recoil because it's purple prose, it's excessive, and it's almost alarming.

I am beginning to see that if this relationship is to survive, I'm going to have to be extremely blunt with him, which is not my way. I've tried responding with things like, I don't want to be the center of your world, I want YOU to be the center of your world. I want you to be alone with yourself at times and still happy. I want you to enjoy your own self. I cannot hold everything you're piling into my arms.

This has become exhausting, but I'm seeing my T in a few hours. Thank god.

Thank you all for listening, I appreciate it so much. This is part of my own anxiety management.

Security is going to do me no good if I'm drowning and I'm beginning to worry that M may drown me. He is still a wonderful person, but I think this relationship is going to be the mature-boundary test of my life.

love
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on June 10, 2019, 01:41:10 PM
I just wrote him a calm, reassuring message.
His silly question had been: Are you my girlfriend?

I told him yes, I hadn't disappeared, shared a little about my experience with anxiety, and expressed great faith in him that if he enters therapy with courage and endures the whirlwind inside himself, he may have fulfillment and peace he's never had. For the rest of his life.

I wrote, I love you and I needed time alone. I always will.

He wrote back that I have extraordinary EQ, have helped him so much, etc etc. He sounded calmer. Repeated his plan to enter therapy.

So in the moment, it's better. I need to be willing to sacrifice enough of my self-time to offer at least that much reassurance. It's challenging, though. Sets off my own anxieties too so self-management of that becomes critical.

xo
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on June 10, 2019, 04:08:09 PM
Hops, I think you need to be careful.  This popped out at me:

"I need to be willing to sacrifice enough of my self time to offer at least that much reassurance".

I will be blunt - I mean this in a loving way!  You shouldn't need to be willing to sacrifice your self time to offer him reassurance - particularly as you only need the self time because he's been so OTT and you shouldn't need to be reassuring him about anything - he has no reason to doubt you, your feelings or anything else.  This whirlwind has been completely in his mind and hasn't come from you.  I'm not happy that he's not hearing your "No".  I know it isn't a direct no, but you've made it clear that you want a couple of days to yourself and he's ignored your need for the sake of his own.  He's saying you're not being direct with him when you've been nothing but direct, but he's chosen to ignore your direct statements (I need a couple of days to myself), says he understands (either he doesn't understand , in which case he shouldn't say he does, or he does but he's ignoring what you need anyway).

You do have extraordinary EQ and I'm sure you have helped him a lot - but that shouldn't be at the expense of your own peace, calm, anxiety and so on.  It worries me that he's not letting you have time away from him.  It's good that he's made an appointment for therapy (has he made an appointment?  Actually booked, first meeting scheduled?).  But therapy can stir up a whole melting pot of hideousness, as we all know, can go on for years (as we also all know) and can be very difficult for the people around us to deal with as we deal with all our stuff.

With a heavy heart, I would say proceed with caution (which I know you will anyway, oh wise one :) ).  I'm concerned that there's been such a big change in such a short period of time - from tutus and lovely meals and exotic trips away to him not being able to cope with being on his own for five minutes.  It seems a big shift and it makes me wonder if there's an underlying mental health issue of some sort (not wanting to get into possible diagnosing because we all know how fruitless that is!  But it seems like a big change in a short space of time).  I do hope it's just a five minute wobble and it all sorts itself out again quickly but do take care of yourself - remember your own advice - you need to be the centre of your own world xx xx xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on June 10, 2019, 04:47:41 PM
Thank you, Tupp. I hear your warning and it matches some alarm chimes I've heard clearly. I won't diminish or overlook what's been happening.

My T today understood the concern but was very positive that he made an appointment for therapy (plus he wrote me he is going to pursue whatever best track is advised for him). She also said she's seen people learn this kind of thing about themselves and make enormous progress.

She said it's not guaranteed but it is possible that he may achieve major insights in a relatively rapid time. He really is driven and may attack self-knowledge the same way he's attacked scholarly knowledge. She believes he has insecure attachment, which his behavior has vastly demonstrated lately. At the same time, I've been very clear with him that I cannot manage his anxieties for him and I will continue to be clear. We did have a mature exchange today, when I think he heard me and responded in a calm adult way. I offered sympathy and compassion and said, "I love you and I needed time alone. I always will."

She gave me a great framing, something I will say to him. I can say, there is a gift I want from you...that is, if or when I indicate (clearly) that I need a day or two days alone, the gift you could give me is, "I'll miss you. But have a great two days and we'll talk then." And then leave me alone to do what I need to do for myself. If he can do that, having had it explained, then we're in much better shape. If instead he still shows the addict behaviors, of wanting/needing me like a "fix", or making little jabs or accusations about me, then I may have to back waaaaaaaaaay off. It'd be very sad but I'd survive.

I'm cautious but not breaking it off. I am committed to speaking up for myself, saying what I want and don't want, and sitting with the possibility of it not working out. That's asking for what I want, and releasing the outcome. I get to choose.

I'm not abandoning ship quite yet. But this has been a sobering period of revelation. A lot of compassion and love have happened too. But I'm not looking to mother or therapize or nurse him. And will find out if he can let go of that urge.

Thanks so much for caring and listening so well.

love
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Garbanzo on June 11, 2019, 12:27:25 AM
It's okay to respond in your own time and slow it down. 
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on June 11, 2019, 12:35:07 AM
Thank you, Tupp. I hear your warning and it matches some alarm chimes I've heard clearly. I won't diminish or overlook what's been happening.

My T today understood the concern but was very positive that he made an appointment for therapy (plus he wrote me he is going to pursue whatever best track is advised for him). She also said she's seen people learn this kind of thing about themselves and make enormous progress.

She said it's not guaranteed but it is possible that he may achieve major insights in a relatively rapid time. He really is driven and may attack self-knowledge the same way he's attacked scholarly knowledge. She believes he has insecure attachment, which his behavior has vastly demonstrated lately. At the same time, I've been very clear with him that I cannot manage his anxieties for him and I will continue to be clear. We did have a mature exchange today, when I think he heard me and responded in a calm adult way. I offered sympathy and compassion and said, "I love you and I needed time alone. I always will."

She gave me a great framing, something I will say to him. I can say, there is a gift I want from you...that is, if or when I indicate (clearly) that I need a day or two days alone, the gift you could give me is, "I'll miss you. But have a great two days and we'll talk then." And then leave me alone to do what I need to do for myself. If he can do that, having had it explained, then we're in much better shape. If instead he still shows the addict behaviors, of wanting/needing me like a "fix", or making little jabs or accusations about me, then I may have to back waaaaaaaaaay off. It'd be very sad but I'd survive.

I'm cautious but not breaking it off. I am committed to speaking up for myself, saying what I want and don't want, and sitting with the possibility of it not working out. That's asking for what I want, and releasing the outcome. I get to choose.

I'm not abandoning ship quite yet. But this has been a sobering period of revelation. A lot of compassion and love have happened too. But I'm not looking to mother or therapize or nurse him. And will find out if he can let go of that urge.

Thanks so much for caring and listening so well.

love
Hops

I think you're right not to break it off yet, and I did wonder about 'The Switch' - do you remember that book you recommended to me about romantic relationships?  I can't remember the name of it now but the one where she talks about 'The Switch' which is usually where one person backs off when the realisation that 'this is serious' hits them.  I just wondered if instead of backing off, M has gone in to some sort of emotional meltdown.

Whatever the reasons behind all of this, I do hope it settles down and things are okay.  It was lovely reading your happy posts and I would be upset if this turned out to be a problematic relationship, too, so I do hope that things turn out alright for you both xx xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on June 11, 2019, 11:12:50 AM
Aw Hops... I just lost a huge long rambling post thanks to kitty & puppy dumping coffee. Dammit.

But, my main point was that fear of loss always starts from a recognition of something external to oneself that creates a sense of wholeness in the person; something that they can't or don't know how to supply for themselves. There is usually an ego-wound wrapped up in that fear somewhere too. That drives the clinginess, the anxiety, and the protestations that they'll just curl up and die without you. Been there, done that myself... and stopped doing it. (for now)

That's a hell of a lot shorter and sans the reminiscences of Mike's bio and our relationship than what was written before. Probably a lot more digestible too. LOL.

Having gone through my own loss of Mike and sharing with and supporting other widows... realize that the process each person goes through is based on their basic emotional make up. One woman insisted she wanted to die, for months. Despite bringing up all the ways she hated her hubby. Others are mostly withdrawn and private, only occasionally seeking out the connection of understanding & support from others. One in particular, moved into high gear "doing" immediately after her hubs' passing and didn't stop to breathe for at least a year. All of them, including moi, have come through all those wacky phases without attempting to replace the attachment object that was lost. (to speak clinically about it)

M's only in year 1 of adjusting. His manifestions are partly due to his loss, and finding that you and he are incredibly compatible in a lot of ways is fueling hope for replacement - even though rationally, he's probably aware that you are a different person altogether. The emotional & rational in him, at the moment, aren't exactly the same stream of energy. Maybe he does have attachment issues, or some emotional neediness that he hasn't acknowledged and brought into his rational brain yet. Counseling, therapy of course, helps with that. But in a convoluted way - this is ALSO a form of grieving and trying to make himself whole again. IMO, the only thing that makes a person whole again is time - and mostly time spent making peace with the loss and finding one's self again - the whole self.

But that's hindsight talking; I'm coming up on the 4th year of my loss. I know that early on, I simply could not explain my behavior or actions to anyone - not even Hol. She kinda understood intuitively since we've always been close and because we've spent so much time together now, she gets it. She's been monitoring me and the progress going on. And she's impatient as hell, for me to just let go of the past patterns and habits and move the F on, to put it her vernacular. LOL. I'm just trying to give myself the luxury of thoroughness and creating the new comfort-zone of being able to trust my SELF, without relying so much on externals - mostly other people - for that sense of well-being. Given my past history you can see how that makes sense. For ME.

Other people need different things; have different ways through. So, maybe one thing you and M can start to talk about, is whether this manifestion of neediness is really who he is... or if it's new, and a reaction to loss and trying to find his way through that. There isn't any weakness or shame involved in getting help with the process. In my most confused times... my big brothers and all you Amazons were there shining some light on what I couldn't see then. Holly too. We DO tend to come out the other side of grieving loss knowing ourselves better and stronger emotionally, if we give ourselves the opportunity to go through the labyrinth.

You are right to be wary of being the band-aid in this situation. But you don't know enough yet, to determine if this behavior is engrained in his personality and therefore a red flag, or if it's related to grieving. Bandaids don't fix or heal anything; they just protect the ego from the agony of the labyrinth. Time apart is the common sense way to get some perspective on the situation. Counseling will likely provide the answers you need, and I agree with your T - it shouldn't take long. Remember, "bargaining" is one of the steps in the grieving process... and gifts to an attractive replacement can be seen as bargaining, can't it?

OK, I'm getting wordy again and off in the weeds. Good place to stop before I go completely off the rails again. LOL.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on June 12, 2019, 11:24:49 AM
Thank you, Amber.
I think you're spot on that it's grief unfinished, or at least partially that.

He greeted me last night with another question, expressed with trembling intensity:
"Do we love each other?" I asked back, "Why are you asking this?" (I could tell it was a "trick" question -- not manipulative tricky, but sort of desperate trick to reassure himself.) I said yes, I love you. And he is staring and says (for the umpteenth time) that he loves me, "deeply." And then he says, "Then that's it! All is well! Because that's the baseline, everything will be fine!"

And, because my hobby is peeing on people's dreams, I said, but these words are not magic. Love is not enough. Love is real but it's not magic and doesn't fix everything.

Still, we had a more peaceful evening. He talked a lot about his panic and paranoia, and more about the physical vulnerability he feels, and more and MORE about how much he desires me wants to caress me how important touch is (for the umpteenth time). I tried to express how when something is constantly verbalized it may dampen the chances that it (meaning reciprocal desire) can arise organically in a present moment.

I said it better than that. What I meant was, yes I am attracted, but the constant talk ABOUT touching makes it less natural to touch or let it happen naturally. (I think I meant, you don't give me a chance to touch you before you verbalize it; it's as though as you're in a relationship with yourself and just sharing the thoughtstream). He just narrates everything, even while it's happening. I can hold him and he'll take it in for a nanosecond and then start: "Yes? See? I like this! See how nice this is! It feels so good to be close to you...and on and on and ON."

Maybe part of it is professoritis. He literally talks his way through life and though I sure am a talker too, I think my T had an insight when she suggested that his nonstop narration might be a way of making a wall of words.

Rather than bringing us closer, sometimes his talking allows nothing in. It's a stream of illustrations and instructions sometimes. It's too fast for him to take much in. Though I do notice he comes back later and refers to something I said once. He's brilliant IQ, and struggling EQ.

We went for a walk after dinner and I think that calms him down. He does have a lot of the "H" in ADHD, I think. His life has been almost nonstop cerebral for decades.

Whew, tiring just to write about. But for me, we stepped down the intensity a notch, and he also acknowledged that although he fell deeply, completely in love with me--the timing might have been too soon in terms of grief. And I was glad to hear him say it. For him to recognize that these things could be overlapping was good, and gets to the heart of what you were saying, about replacement.

He does see me as an individual. But he was trying to make his last chapter "over and done" and grief doesn't work that way. It flows in and out for a long time. That loss will come and go even once he's in my arms the morning after. That is natural.

love,
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on June 12, 2019, 11:33:12 AM
I think, from reading that, Hops, that it makes sense that the speed and intensity he's showing at the minute with your relationship is a way for him to stop or avoid feeling the loss of his wife, or that there's guilt in there somewhere (because he's fallen in love again) and he's trying to block it out.  And I don't mean by that that he's using you as a distraction and his feelings aren't real, just more that his feelings for you are probably (must be) triggering feelings for his late wife and the pain of losing her - and possibly pain from that first marriage that perhaps is still lurking in there somewhere.  We all know how keeping busy stops us from dealing with painful feelings.  Hopefully his therapy sessions will start helping him to make headway with that somewhere (and maybe offloading to a therapist will slow down what he talks to you about as well).  He's very lucky to have you as a port in the storm at the moment; I suspect someone less self assured and focused would have either thrown in the towel by now or rushed along to keep up with him - neither of which I think would be very sensible.  I hope things settle a bit for you and he starts seeing his T soon xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on June 12, 2019, 11:27:30 PM
Oh Lordy, Hops:

If this T, and you can't find a way to get M calmed down.... I don't know how long you can remain steady.

It's impossible to know if this very need state is M's constant, or if it's a temporary way of being.

If this is how he was during both marriages... he's unlikely to change, IME.

I'm up to my elbows in gators right now, but will come back and post more tomorrow.  I hope.

Sorry things are slipping sideways, Hops.  I'm hoping this is just a bobble.

Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on June 13, 2019, 09:32:22 AM
Tupp, I'm starting to think you have the best natural ability of all of us here, to be able to counsel others. Your intuition about him feeling guilty or trying to make amends for something in the past could be spot on. It IS something that people who've lost a spouse experience and it manifests in different ways.

Hops, that belief in the magic of those 3 words to make everything OK, in all situations unequivocably is something I've known too in Mike. Sometimes, it does work. But more often, I think women prefer being SHOWN that love in actions and behaviors... than simply another reiteration of the promised commitment. Words are just words, after all. And since we all lie to ourselves at one time or another - or indulge in pretending - the incantation is always less than satisfying to our different ways of knowing the world. But, in my experience with guys and their foibles, I think many times the incantation is made in hopes of being shown that love to themselves... as much as wanting the opportunity to proceed showing it to you. (It's a more concrete transaction that way for them - or some of them. And no, I don't have the words right yet about this.)

I have seen a pattern in people who demonstrate their anxiety with a tsunami of words (wonder how I caught on to that... LOL). Variations about the reasons why are sure to exist. But what Lighter said about the wall of words is a bullseye. People around the talker, get caught up in the stream... feedback and interaction from the audience, reassures the talker that they're worthy of attention and having an impact; that they are "real"... even as the wall of words hides their feelings of insecurity about their self-worth. They're good at talking; they're less good just being quiet and still feeling comfortable in their own skin. The motivation is to prove... worthiness. IE, worthiness is conditional and dependent on being able to express themselves, be understood, and even praised... by external sources. It's a form of lack of self-confidence. Professor-itis, indeed. As many faculty as I've known over the years, as the relationships endured and deepened, this was something that many of them had in common. Part of my job was helping them feel confident in their abilities to manage technology.

So, that's identifying a possible problem. Solutions or Rx's... are to reassure the person that it's perfectly safe to relax with you. Maybe choose a time to "practice" just being together silently. Start with short time frames, or the antsyness will get unbearable... LOL. While it's important to communicate your boundaries and need for time alone, it's also necessary to emphasize the wish to share time together. Above & beyond, what you normally would do perhaps. This might help dampen any fears of abandonment. (and it doesn't always help; in this case, I don't think M knows any other way to manage his feelings, and perhaps hasn't even untangled them yet; when he's shown how I'm sure he'll try his best to master it before he realizes that isn't even totally necessary all the time)

Maybe set aside some time during the week to play a little game. Something to occupy monkey-mind, like checkers or cards... while just being together. That might reveal some new information. And it also gives you both practice not being focused so much on each other but still being very much together.

And.... I'm getting way too far out in the weeds again. Be patient, Hops. Your sense of things is strong and wise. You're a little ahead of M, in the process of getting to know each other - the warts & all phase. And if he's going to devote some time to inner work on his own, he'll need the privacy to deal with it. It's temporary, as we know. But I have a feeling he's going to need a lot of the same kind of compassionate support and intuition that we practice around here, too. For awhile. You both will see the relationship from a new perspective, down the road a ways. And you can't predict that perspective from where you are now - travelling together. Hang in there; M will appreciate that later.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on June 14, 2019, 10:40:15 AM
So much wise input....Amber, and Tupp. Wow.

I wanted to touch on finding a safe way to express and receive comfort/physical attention that could help calm things down.

Maybe set up a playdate in jammies with soothing touch....inner arms, backs of knees, where more trust, and comfort are exchanged.

If you initiate, Hops, it could flip things for both of you, IME.  There would be important rules in place, and agreed to.

You can consider it, or dismiss the idea as you've handled this well as can be expected.  You'll continue making sound decisions.

Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on June 21, 2019, 01:53:44 PM
Whew. I want to apologize in advance for not replying to each post discretely, but just yammering. Recent things you have each observed or offered have had a hugely helpful impact on my thinking recently. But if this time, I take the time to tease out individual observations and respond to each properly I'll never get through it.

The whole ante just upped a lot for me, and it's got many layers. So please forgive me for not responding properly individually, so I can just get most of it out.

I nearly broke up with M. We're at a pivot point. I think he knows it but what matters is that I know it. Reasons:

--He got an automated update from my D's online fundraiser. He danced around but told me about it. AND, he characterized it as "I got an email from X [D's friend who runs the site for her]." My instant fear and pain was what it always is. He had made a previous donation, adding a note about "from someone who loves someone who loves you very much" (which was intrusive, behind my back, and not okay. He was inserting himself to make me the source.) But my first thought was, oh no, her friend doesn't have my contact info so wrote to him (because his email shows his name). Is my D dead? What has happened?

The truth? It WASN'T a personal contact, it was a routine auto email from the site hosts (it mentioned friend's name in subject line but was clearly an auto-thing). And he didn't make that clear.

Long story shorter, it turned into a lot of excruciating back and forth where he toyed with what or how he was going to strategize his donations to her (because "he really wants to help."). And my heart is torn because damn, he COULD change her life if he wanted. BUT...it's all under the umbrella of him having a paternalistic sense of himself, and I know about his previous driving interest in her ("the daughter I never had", and his obsessive returning and returning to pry about her earlier...and I do not want her to become one of his f*ing PROJECTS). Then...I learned that his second donation (which he didn't ask me about, despite having agreed that he would do NOTHING in her direction ever, without my explicit permission) was a piddling amount. It won't do anything real for her and it was not worth dragging me through the anguish I go through every single time he finds a way to bring her up.

Anyway, later he sent me an email that, in my view, was arrogant (he sees his motives as purely altruistic--I believe he's willing to bring up my D, casting himself in a hero's light, in order to get my attention yanked back to him) and included phrases like "I have not yet decided what I'll do" and "I will let you know what I do" and "I will let you know when..." etc. All of his remarks in that email were the opposite of keeping his earlier promise to never interfere, never question my judgement about my D, and never make a single move in her direction unless he has my explicit permission. And the fact that early on, I knew I needed to spell this out should have been a warning.

Anyway, I am not giving that permission. Something about his triangulating over this, fantasizing about "I'll have to find another channel to reach her" (what? a private investigator? is he kidding?), inserting his power as an uninvited father figure when he does not know her and does not comprehend mental illness, made me feel he was basically disturbing the status quo as much for his own gratification---a hero fantasy---as for her. And with absolutely no regard for what all this stirred up for me. Agony. Again.

I just lost it with his "another channel" remark, because he's proceeding with a rescue fantasy separate from me and it's not his place! I get him. I get that he sees himself as the kindly pater familias, and has fantasies of incorporating her into his "firelight." BUT AFTER FOUR MONTHS IN MY LIFE HE IS NOT WELCOME TO DO THAT. He is too into control and pressure and getting what he wants and creating goals that involve wearing me down...and if he inserts himself between me and my D, not only will I NEVER see her again but I would never forgive him for that invasion of MY parental space, empty though it is. He doesn't have at stake what I do, and he must respect my wishes. Period.

I basically blew up in writing, ranted at him about the boundary I'd set and felt he blew past, and told him I didn't feel safe with him emotionally.

He was devastated and said I mischaracterized everything, and he simply wants to help. Maybe he does. He is sensitive. But also has so much unrecognized male privilege and power that he can play around with another person's deepest life, just because he is wealthy. I am SO sensitive to this, and for him to busy himself in my greatest wound "just because he can" makes me crazy. So we fought on the phone, I pulled back, and then he had another panicky meltdown.

(My long stories never get shorter, sorry.) Finally, I told him I do NOT want to talk about it, but if he wants to donate this and only this is what he has my permission to do:

1) Donate ONE amount through that fundraiser, ONE time more. Up to him, but whatever he is comfortable with. (Iow, don't give one hundred and then another hundred months later. If he REALLY wants to "rescue" her, then do something that will make a difference.) I said, take the money you're spending on taking me to Paris and give her that. It would be a much better use of that amount. (He's told me he wins or loses that much on the stock market in a day, or maybe it was a week, can't remember. I don't care, but he's not going to send me into the emotional pits over an unserious amount. If he really is yearning to help her, then help her. In a real way. Or shut up about it.) I really do believe it was about getting my attention back. He comes up with pretext after pretext any time I withdraw.

2) Do it anonymously, and unsubscribe from further updates. I cannot cope with ongoing hints, reminders, mentions of emails, etc.

I also said, do it without hinting, expecting thanks, asking for credit, or turning it into a fantasy of becoming directly involved. He replied, "I understand" and I hope he does.

I didn't want to see him for days and couldn't sleep and felt awful. Because of course I want her to be helped!!!! But not if he's "taking over" and going at it like Professor Superior. I left him a message after calming down, telling him I care about his heart too, but he does not grasp the "ferocity of pain" I have around this issue, that I know things about her approach to life that he does not, and the next time I saw him we didn't talk about my D again.

So I really mean it. If he's motivated solely by empathy but also respects me, then he should give her a significant sum that could actually change her situation. Or nothing. I'm not letting a millionaire play with my pain just because he can purchase "credit" for that because he has that economic ability.

He doesn't see any of this (the power and privilege stuff) or worry about it. But I see it, and I do.

Next, there was his complete freakout that I was backing away. I considered not going to Paris and really hesitated. So the next time we got together he was trembling, put his head on my shoulder like a child, and was clearly devastated. I was unnerved by his emotional collapse.

So there's a whole LOT to unpack, in therapy and in our relationship, if it's going to survive. He says he's looking forward to his first T appointment. My sense of him is that his approach will be completely intellectual and it will be many months before he faces what drives him at the core. A huge insecurity, despite his career.

What I'm contemplating is being a loving friend to him (I do love him) and backing way off the romance. I'm romanticism-averse anyway, and his romantic hyperbole was entertaining and flattering at first, but I realize (not for the first time in my life) that it leads to delusions unless a person keeps a tight grip on the difference between fantasy love (he's a medievalist and on his 18th book grounded in the 15th century) and reality-based love.

I told a friend this week that I want two things in a relationship: love and freedom. And if I'm ever backed into a corner and forced to choose, I will choose freedom.

So there it is. I still love the man, haven't completely abandoned the dream of a happy future together (we enjoyed ourselves a lot on a recent outing, talked as enthusiastically as ever). But for my pace, we're way too early to be talking about permanence and racing into commitment or major changes (me moving, etc.).

I hope therapy and travel both add good layers and we can grow together, still. But if we can't...I choose freedom. (Even old-age poverty doesn't scare me as much as losing that. I do commit and sacrifice, but it's voluntary. I won't be pried out of a parental role, or wedged into any other kind of presumed role, without consent.)

Thanks much for listening, alla y'all. Thoughts very welcome as always, and next time I'll appreciate them one person at a time.

Love you much!
xxxooo
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on June 21, 2019, 03:40:04 PM
Oh Hops.  I will speak bluntly and from my gut and I will apologise now because it will probably sound too blunt and I don't mean or want to add to what you are dealing with at the moment but I found reading what he's done with regards to your D horrendously painful, horribly, horribly controlling, utterly dismissive of your terribly broken heart where your D is concerned - and then he manipulated the whole thing back round so that he was the terribly wounded party crying on your shoulder because he was 'only trying to help'.

I won't lecture you on what you should and shouldn't do; you are a wise woman, you've weathered these storms many times before and we all know you won't end up trapped in a bad place.  But I can see nothing but control and manipulation in everything you described there.  Sitting down with you, discussing D's fundraiser, asking what you think about him donating, if so how much, etc etc, would all have been appropriate.  Giving you time to think, feel, wonder and then respecting your decision, whatever it was, all good.

But donating, talking about email updates, claiming he'll contact her in other ways, he hasn't decided what he'll do yet - what the f?  No, Hopsie, this is very bad, these are not misguided attempts to help, this is controlling behaviour and through your D as well - that terribly painful and tenuous relationship that you've tried so desperately to avoid severing completely without allowing yourself to be destroyed in the process.  Such a huge job you've had to do with that and he treats it like a game?  And doesn't even give you the grace of knowing her medical bills are paid (which I know would be a huge weight off your mind) but instead donates a small amount that will make no difference.

My worry (for you) is that this has changed so dramatically and so hugely in such a short space of time.  I am reminded of a previous boyfriend of mine who was, initially, so charming and funny and I enjoyed being with him so much.  We fell head over heels so quickly, moved in together and literally within weeks I was living with a completely different person - whiny, clingy, didn't like me going out without him, used to turn up if I did go out and leave him at home, called me throughout the day which initially I took as a sign he really liked me but I eventually realised was just him getting his 'mommy' fix from me.  This doesn't feel like the slow unpacking of a relationship were you gradually learn more about one another; it feels more like a facade initially and this is the reality.

I understand completely you loving him.  Love doesn't vanish overnight in the same way it isn't there overnight but please do be careful not to work too hard at understanding where he's coming from in all of this, Hops.  You're not his therapist and you shouldn't have to wait months?  years? to see if the therapy is making any difference.  If he'd been like this when you first met him you'd have run a mile.  So please do just take care to guard your heart and keep your time for you, your self care, your health and your own peace of mind.

You don't need to worry about replies or apologise for not replying; we all know what it's like when things boil over like this.  But he needs to sort himself out pronto; I will not be happy if I have to come over there and kick his arse!!

Please do take care of you and I'm sorry for sounding harsh and abrupt but this is troubling me and I don't want you getting hurt xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on June 21, 2019, 05:10:52 PM
Thank you, Tupp.
I think your warnings are realistic and completely reasonable.
That's why I've hit the brakes.
Not (so far) to end the relationship, but to pull back enough that I get a chance to see if he's learning fast or not at all.

I agree with you that he was being manipulative but am also thinking that's driven by huge anxiety. Reflexive, but not his true character (hopefully, and it remains to come clear).

His carelessness or lack of recognition of what it'd trigger in me is blindness rather than cruelty, I think. Even though he does have a very tender heart (dogs, kids, I can see it clearly) ... I think it's impossible to show true empathy when:

--one is beside oneself with anxiety and dependent need (I was exactly like this in a relationship some years ago), and

--due to personality, anxiety and insecurity, one cannot listen enough to feel fully developed empathy. One might WISH to, but anxiety can be like a forest fire. (I told him grief hurts terribly, but anxiety terrifies.)

I truly am curious about his response to therapy. Enough to want to remain in his life -- at least for now. But with substantial changes. I'm stepping back and planning to tell him I think we either slow it way back and reboot back to getting to know each other through traditional talking (not life fusing so fast). Or we stop.

Your concern is very well reasoned and well taken. I'm listening.

And so grateful.
love,
Hops

PS--And if it turns out he does need a good old-fashioned Tupp-Whupping (arse kicking), I'll buy your plane ticket!  xxxooo
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on June 21, 2019, 05:53:38 PM
Oh (((((((((HOPS))))))))). How horrible for you.

Yes, he definitely exposed his ulterior motives breaking through that boundary. Completely agree with your assessment - and I feel your upset is justified. You explained how this was very painful for you up front, to the best of your ability -- and he thinks he can fix this, get back in your good graces by using D? WHATever he thought -- I think you've clearly seen through that. Talk about jeopardizing trust.

:shakes head:

Tell ya what, while I was going through that feet 6 in off the ground phase myself, part of the reason I kept babbling about it, was because I KNOW it's not good for me to stick in that phase too long. I needed to see how I was getting the cart before the horse. As it is, it wore off in 72 hours and I was grounded again. STILL just as happy, but a lot more sane. Having more time in between seeing my guy is a GOOD thing, IMO.

The silly things I entertained in my head that first 24 hrs after he left anyway... make me rightfully blush. I KNOW BETTER, by now. And I may return to those giddy, googly-eyed feelings again... but they can't be ALL I'm thinking/feeling about him. Real life, has a whole different set of requirements.

Now, I guess you've got a chance to see how he responds to you being angry with him. See if he can apologize and understand what he did wrong and why that made you angry - after specific instructions not to interfere, because it would cause you pain. See if he understands that anger in one partner doesn't HAVE to mean the end of the relationship (although sometimes it does) and if he can do what is needed to repair what he broke INSTEAD OF what (believing he knew better) he tried to "fix".

I think you're the one who's taken on the "project" Hops. More power (and patience) to ya... I think you're gonna need it. That's the kind of thing I'd have been angry about too. It's like going behind your back to assert his "greater powers" to make things OK... when all he's done is made them worse than they were previously. I don't think I'd have been as kind and compassionate to him as you were.

PS - might be a good night to sip some bourbon with a girlfriend.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on June 21, 2019, 07:17:23 PM
Thanks, hon.

I should've added that he did, profusely, express remorse that he triggered my renewed anguish over her. He still didn't understand how his executive-management wording offended me, but unpacking unconscious patriarchal stuff isn't going to come quick. (And he believes he's a grand wordsmith so I doubt he'd see that somewhat-pompous tone the way I do.) So he remained convinced his effort was misunderstood but I believed him that he was also truly sorry he had caused pain. Particularly over his careless description of the "auto" email he'd gotten as "an email from her friend." He swore he understood ALL my instructions if he did donate, and not mention her again otherwise.

In addition to devastated at the near-breakup, he looked truly remorseful when I saw him, and has since backed way off the hyperbolic-romantic incessant reminders of how he feels and what he wants (perhaps he DID hear my explanation that they were backfiring, not leaving me oxygen or space to cross toward him voluntarily).

So...I dunno. I imagine a relationship with anyone with a lifetime's baggage at my age will mean work. I'm backing off to a caring but safe emotional distance to be damn sure it's not going to be consuming, pointless effort. If it's an endless struggle I will end it. I think traveling together for a week (with my own room to retreat to) may be a good chance to observe some additional stuff.

I don't mind adjusting, learning, and also challenging myself in therapy (why do I freak out about sex?). So if he is doing the same and showing signs of insight, mebbe we'll make it. (He even said he didn't care, he wants me enough as his lifelong companion that he'd commit to me even without it.) Hmmm. I just know I have to feel completely safe and not overpowered and not pressured in order to enjoy it. B, the previous "boyfriend" -- pissed me off in the same way. I think part of M's pressure is his post-surgery anxiety to check out whether he's still able. He was two years ago, but is also panicking about age and mortality since losing her.

One whiff of entitlement to my body before I offer it and I'm outta there. My last "fun only" lover -- decade and a half ago! -- responded to MY invitation. Hmmm.

But it's not only all that. It's the "fusion" he's been trying to create with me. Belatedly, despite many years of craving that myself before oodles of therapy taught me how unhealthy it was, and how I had to learn to love myself and not look, as you mentioned, to external sources to make me okay...I have caught on that he's in just the same place I was back then.

My hope (not expectation) is that as brilliant as he is, he might perhaps respond to therapy with insight. Worth a little time, I think.

Thanks much Amber...y'all have no idea what your support and insight means!

love
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on June 21, 2019, 07:37:53 PM
While it's important to communicate your boundaries and need for time alone, it's also necessary to emphasize the wish to share time together. Above & beyond, what you normally would do perhaps. (http://While it's important to communicate your boundaries and need for time alone, it's also necessary to emphasize the wish to share time together. Above & beyond, what you normally would do perhaps.)

Problem with that is, after 15+ lonely but independent years alone...adjusting to seeing him 3 times/week is already a challenge for me. And otherwise, I worry that this kind of approach puts me in a transference-a-la-therapist position, and I vastly do not care to do that. Or take that role. At all. Happy to share with him various insights I've picked up from decades of therapy, but not as his instructor.

Good news on the same curve. I think partly in response to his own freakouts, he decided to "un-retire." He wants to keep teaching, professorizing, until he falls over. And I feel relieved, as does he. I think all that mental energy was going into me, after 50 years of having a LOT of other things to think about. (He recently returned the proofs for his latest book, so he still has an amazing work discipline.) I am just glad because he absolutely loves teaching and scholarship. And he's going to drop all the extra administrative stuff, such as heading up graduate studies, that made FT into FT+. He happened to know a friend of my father's who died face-first into his typewriter at 101, still writing scholarly articles. He says, I want to go like that! And I think for him, that'd be perfect.

For me, if I'm with him long term? Time to MYSELF!!!

Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on June 22, 2019, 05:35:39 AM
I keep trying to write a post, Hops, and keep deleting it because I keep saying things that I know you already know and are aware of :)  So I will just say that I know you will figure this out, I hope you know that while we are all rooting for you to have the happy ever after bit we also don't want you having to compromise on any of the things you've worked so hard for and you hold so dear to yourself.  So I hope you will keep posting, keep thinking, keep taking back your space and time and keep looking after you.  Not least because I've got no-one to water my plants if I have to come over there and kick his arse :) Lol xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on June 22, 2019, 09:34:16 AM
((Hops)) I'm so relieved he's going back to work.  Whatever happens.  All that focus and zeal was impossible to deal with, mainly bc he can't hear you through his need, as you've mentioned.

I hope the T breaks through.  He's smart enough.

The fact he's messing in your wounds, like fingerprinting child, then going all Irkle...
"Did I DO that?". It's maddening, imo.

It's forgivable if he respects that bou dary going forward.  I think. 

It's a terrible thing when your new, supposed to be safe person, begins putting your emotional safety in his sights, and for what seems to be attention.  It doesn't feel molevolent but it feels deeply disordered.

I think Paris will make or break the bond.  Hold steady.  Don't give an inch.  Take back the ground you lost.  He learns and can be trained, or cannot.

Stay in observer mode as you can manage.  No matter what he does, this can still be a period of growth, lovely meals, and compassion for you both.  There will be deep sadness if he can't make the shift, but you're hopefully able to stay level, and hold what you got, as they say.

Don't panic if things go awry.  Know he's doing his best, and can't manage more.  He would if he could.  Our limitations are so human, and heartbreaking, imo. 

I guess I'm saying that if he fails, just enjoy Paris on your own.  Try to resist racing to the airport in horror.....worst case scenario.  Been there, done that.  He'll likely talk you into staying, and that's deeper misery, IME.

Courage, Hops.  Maybe he'll be brave enough to figure this out.
Lighter

Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on June 22, 2019, 10:59:26 AM
If you read my long description of Buck, Hops... you might already know what I'm going to say.

You may have to enforce that tiny bit of space between you and M, for awhile on your own. I don't like the "fusion" idea either, but I know Mike really went there after he retired and I fully sympathize with the Japanese women stuck with retired husbands. I'm not picking up any of that from Buck; he's been alone long enough. It's myself I have to watch, because precisely, it's what I was used to with Mike. I don't want that again. ESPECIALLY when we're older, we have to adapt those "conditioned expectations" of what a relationship is and the structure of it to the complicated mess of what our lives have been up till now. That requires individual, private space. Entry into it, needs to be requested - not taken for granted.

The sex thing is also different when we're older. I swear, we might as well be teenagers again what with all the angst and self-consciousness about our bodies. For guys, that often shows up in performance anxiety. Everyone deals with it their own way too. For me, it's an area of compatibility in the top 10 important things on my wishlist. And so it's also something that I explore earlier than most people. What I noticed - despite being able to immerse myself fully still, despite my old lady body - is that even in the peaceful, safe place afterwards... I needed to go back to my own room to sleep. Let my brain process everything while I slept. (I think I might've been wary about emotional whiplash, too... part of my emotional self wants to judge this as "cheating" on Mike. It's not at all rational in any way shape or form; but I am paying attention to it regardless. That would be loyalty at my own expense, and I know for a fact he didn't expect me to enter a nunnery while he's chasing blondes in heaven.)

What was really welcome to me, was being able to talk about it openly without "posturing" or ego-crap. He surprised me in an embrace and kiss (I'd given him a huge hug when he arrived; this was later on) and while I didn't expect anything of the sort... I was ready and willing to not just receive but give as good or better than I got. Full throttle. And he made sure verbally it was what I wanted; even letting me come to his room and leave as I needed to. But then, there have been "omens" all along our friendship period that there was some kind of intuitive understanding & respect for our separate life experiences between us.

It's a totally different style of thing that you're going through Hops. I'm not even sure they're comparable - apples to apples. But I shared your reticence about sex too and whether I even had that side of me left alive... until it was called forth. She's been in hiding for a long while, but she's way more alive (albeit PICKY) than I expected. And not at all concerned with the vulnerability that's involved in that shared experience. But there's a lot of trust already built up between he and I. The fact that I could definitely still desire someone is very empowering and magical for me.

But I've needed those 4 solitary years of picking through the flies in my own "pepper"... to know whether or not something like this was even on my "want" list. Maybe you need to focus on that for a bit, too. Unravel all the bits & pieces of emtional experience flotsam that have gotten tangled in that very natural expression of life & love in human experience.

For sure it'll be a different ball of yarn, than mine.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on June 22, 2019, 03:36:57 PM
Thanks, Amber.
I definitely look forward to lovemaking, no doubt about it.
All systems still "go."

My hesitation (ironically similar to with previous bf, "B") is his race against my own pace. I have a deeply ingrained sense of complete and full body autonomy, anxiety about being possessed, and when I'm pressured to speed it up, I react perhaps unfortunately like a human mule who will not go where you want for either carrots or sticks.

After so many years celibate, if someone displays impatience or annoyance, there is literally no bigger turnoff for me. Frankly, I'd be happier doing what I did when young, with no-stringers strangers. If someone GENUINELY wants a joyous couple of decades with me? Then they can spend a leisurely buncha months showing me their patience, their love, etc. Without pressuring me, copping feels, talking nonstop about how urgent their desire is, etc.

M. is trying. His anxiety isn't "normal" male performance anxiety. He is in fact very virile in energy and desire. But he had a prostatectomy, which means that he has to inject himself to perform. As time (age) goes by, medically the results of the injects are a bit less certain (so his two year wait is intense for him). I sympathize with this, and have given serious thought to just lying back and thinking of England (apologies to Tupp) in order to make him happy. I am capable. Yet another part of me resists the sacrificial cliche.

I don't even think sex is our biggest worry. It's the other emotional stuff. For now, I'd like to focus on relaxation. I'm meeting him at his pool shortly and want to talk about throttling back the anxiety as best we both can and valuing our other ways of connecting. We love talking, going places, interacting with Pooch. We really are quite compatible in a lot of the ways that could sustain a good connection.

Even privilege and paternalism. He is profoundly intellectual and into the challenge of ideas. He has responded with respect when I challenge his assumptions or lack of notice (or false equivalence, which he tried on me once). He loves debate and (sigh) though I enjoy the thinking and some degree of persuasion, I don't savor it for its own sake. I told him it felt like Greek wrestling and I hate combat. But intellectually, I can hold my own.

So we'll see. I'm going to invite him to take it one day at a time. He has emotional immaturity that it's his own job to work on, not mine. But I will take care of myself, retreat all I care to, and stop taking the bait when he demands that I recognize this or that. I don't respond to demands. Full stop.

My question within is, once he really grasps the depth of my autonomy, will he actually be able to handle it? Or will he retreat into resentment, snarky comments, or some other form of resistance or (god forbid) revenge? This man has been very powerful in his own sphere for a very long time. One wife left him, and the next was perhaps comfortable in a more traditional position (I don't know). I am a different kettle of fish and I think difficult as well as exciting to him.

So this is a very good time to observe, interact honestly, and protect my independence as powerfully as I need to. I have no doubt that I must and for now, I hope that being kind and listening will move things into a better place. Even if it does, I will push back when he immediately makes a new pronouncement that "all is resolved" and pushes forward into more definitions, proclamations, and declarations of what is true for "us." M needs to learn to speak about himself and for himself, and let go of his habit of declaring what "we" are or what "we" feel. His verbal torrents are both his shield and sword. My hope is he can exit conquest or battle mode.

As we all do, he just assumes everything from his own worldview, which apparently has seldom been intimately challenged. In academia, he has been ruthlessly competitive. If he brings that to us, he will find himself trying to "win" alone.

love
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: CB123 on June 22, 2019, 08:16:14 PM
This is tough.
I love how you are handling it, Hopsie.

CB
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on June 23, 2019, 08:42:46 AM
Hear hear on maintaining your independence and autonomy Hops! It's most difficult to do, IMO, within the construct of marriage -- UNLESS one starts to adapt the definition of what marriage is; and revamps the old engrained roles. We all have our dreams, conditioning, white picket fence syndrome about how it's "supposed" to be, to deal with.

But it sounds like you've carefully chosen a path through the most difficult things you may encounter on this "getting to know you" journey. Assuming no one wants to go back over that section of trail again, it should get easier.

I have an old old friend; just realized that our friendship - varying degrees of closeness through the years - will be 50 years old next year. Her longtime live-in guy just moved out at her request. He has some health issues and went through personality changes along with the cancer and it's treatment. She had just had enough. I've thrown an urgent invitation out to her, that if she feels a need to escape the mundane and ordinary... she can head my way for woods & studio & girl time.

It sounds like she's designed a way for her to remain single and independent, while being a doting gramma... and I'd like to spend time picking through her brain for how she arrived at that decision. We're so similar, we might as well be twin sisters - she was born a week after me, in the same hospital. The big joke is that maybe we were switched at birth, too. LOL.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on June 23, 2019, 03:38:20 PM
Your friend is lucky to have you, Amber.
We're lucky to have you HERE.

I think one piece that's difficult for me to acknowledge to myself is this: Despite having deep clarity that I am the opposite of a gold-digger, the breezy (economically) future M has dandled in front of me is still kind of torture.

Were I to ferociously guard every scrap of my independence (as I've been doing lately), we'd probably wind up breaking up. And then my real and quite daunting fears of winding up alone in some awful Medicaid nursing home will return. With zero family in my life, I truly believe that I will be in that kind of circumstance. ALL of my friends (except Tupp) have some kind of family support. My friends are aging too, and it's too late to construct some phamily that involves shared living, a shared live-in caregiver, or whatever. The people I know who are interested already have gotten shares in the cheapest co-housing community here that is out of my reach. Or they will move to live near children, or pick an assisted living setup, etc. This is an extremely affluent community with a very thin middle class.

And it really does scare me, given that I work with oldsters who all can afford a relatively middle-ground but still pleasant assisted living situation, either on their own or with family help.

So I am ruthless about trying to hold a boundary in my head about all that as I deal with my feelings for M. I do genuinely love him, but he's also challenging in all the ways I've been talking about. The other side of his "drive to conquer" is true sweetness and vulnerability. He's not a monster, he's just clueless and 70 years of extreme privilege have given him some big blind spots. He has a childish belief in his capacity to manage/decide/fix/improve everything. Life in a golden bubble does that.

Still...I am worried about sorting it all out with deep scruple about how much the say-goodbye-to-fear-of-poverty piece will affect my judgment. Now or later.

I'm ALWAYS in touch with how I feel (happy, sad, threatened, calm). But I worry whether I'm a bad person, still. Whether I'm hiding from myself some piece of "but he is rich" attraction. It's pathetic.

I'm working on that piece, hard. He has NEVER manipulated me with anything related to money. Just offers me everything. No hints of "women are gold diggers" like many older men I've met. Not a word about "you want XX from me". Nothing. (I've made it pretty obvious that I don'.t) But then again, he's still in romantic pursuit mode.

Must hie me to the Goodwill for two new Tshirts.

xxxooo
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on June 23, 2019, 08:31:59 PM
Amazingly, we just had a wonderful few hours again.
I went to swim with him, got there full of anguish over politics,
vented about it and was crabby and critical of his Knowitall Professoritis....
and then just relaxed a bit and enjoyed some affectionate banter again.

Somehow, having evaded his management of everything (he didn't know
I was coming so I surprised him), I got back into balance.

I just told him that I'm worrying about a lot of things,
and he (in his fashion) actually heard most of it, and responded
with such determined commitment that I softened a bit.

We're in a better place. He rushed to declare that everything was
perfect again, so I peed on the fire hydrant ("No, I guarantee we will
each be disappointed in the other again") and he responded as though
I was the Oracle of Delphi and proclaimed that I am "teaching him things."

I got to just laughing and not taking him so deadly seriously (his nonstop
narratives are nearly compulsive and truly part of who he is, so I need to
deal realistically with his scholarly reality). But I made headway and we
didn't argue.

I even taught him the active listening formula, and the difference between
a true "I statement" versus the "I feel that YOU...." stuff.

I feel better. We haven't lost hope. I told him truthfully that I've stepped
back a few paces and need a reboot, and he reaffirmed that he's all in but
didn't keep arguing with my reality. What a relief.

I think we need swimming pools.

xxoo
Hops

Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on June 24, 2019, 01:08:55 AM
PS  We also talked about the money stuff. I told him it most definitely is one of my future worries, but it is also extremely important to me that I maintain my values and character and not get confused about it. He said he was very surprised that I'd mentioned early on that if we wound up together it was critical that he have a pre-nup. (I'd told him it was because I was affected by the paranoia of some other affluent men I'd met re. gold-digging women, and also because if his family is going to feel good, they have to KNOW that things are clear.) He's going, oh that's totally unecessary, I'm still taking care of my mother's retired housekeeper etc (which I know he is, and through a lot of other-country bureaucracy). I do not abandon people.

I believe him. But I said you need to take care of your kids' and grandkids' futures, and he said, I can. So I said I can tell you right now what I'd ask for: If you should predecease me which you're not allowed to do, I would like enough money to fix up my little house plus enough for a decent care place if I needed it one day. He suggested a staggering amount and that shut me up.

I think he really is not worried about all that. So I feel less so. If we get our communication in gear (oh god, please teach him "I messages") ... we might be ok.

He's seeing his new T tomorrow. Please send him light! He'll love it, getting to talk nonstop for 90 minutes.

Whewwww,
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on June 24, 2019, 01:14:43 AM
CB,
It is so amazing to hear your voice here again.

It's like somebody opened a window and the oxygen just poured in, plus sunlight and lots of flower fragrances!

Thanks for the support. Can't wait to offer it back.

xxoo
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on June 24, 2019, 05:44:38 AM
Hops, I just want to say that I think your fear of ending up alone in some grotty care home is, unfortunately, a reality that many people have to face and is therefore not anything you should feel bad about fearing.  Nor do I think wanting to achieve a comfortable later stage life is the same as gold digging or just doing that 'hands in the air, look after me' thing that so many of us have fought hard against throughout our lives.

I think it's balance, as always, and you know yourself well and know what you can and can't sacrifice.  You won't throw aside every principle you have to secure a comfortable retirement; you know that and so do we.  But if it gets to the point where life with M can be a bit testing but is on the whole good and you can cope if you get a long weekend to yourself each month then I think that's okay.  Sometimes a picture perfect life doesn't match with reality and the drop between our ideal and then what we really get can be huge.  So finding a place in between the two is okay, in my opinion.

I hope that you are able to find a path through with him.  The good bits sound very good and it may well be that the mad bits are more to do with the grief (which presumably will ease in time) and maybe just even getting used to being with a woman who doesn't think he's amazing because he can throw a bit of cash around - maybe he's going to have to work at impressing you in other ways and he's not used to it.  Either way I'm sure you will keep your head and make sensible choices and it would be nice if there is a happy ending to this but equally we all know you will put the brakes on if need be xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on June 24, 2019, 08:25:39 AM
So GOOD... that rough patch was navigated delicately and successfully. Onwards!

(Had an odd idea that might help with the sex thing... I wonder if he could completely give you control over taking the initiative? That might work well for breaking the ice. Maybe it's a dumb idea, but I didn't know if you'd considered it.)
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on June 25, 2019, 02:42:46 PM
Thanks, Tupp...you gave me such a heartening, reality-based, thoughtful summary. (I can't believe how beautifully and kindly you do that over and over for different situations.) I appreciate it so much!

What you really do (and do and do) is increase my confidence when it's slipping. There's nothing more valuable a person can do for another...much gratitude, dear.

Amber, bless you, for always looking for where the needed tool is, knowing that a doer can do, a solution can be found for most things, plans can be redrawn, and that building never ends--whether it's within the self or the external world (that reflects the self). You're a running inspiration.

And poor M probably wouldn't dream of thinking he's in charge in that area. I've been direct and clear and am comfortable saying No as I need to. So I think when I'm ready to say Yes, he'll just be happy. (I am in no hurry.)

love y'all,
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Garbanzo on June 27, 2019, 12:45:20 PM
There is some taboo about being a "Gold Digger". I think it's very American thinking to be afraid of the label gold digger. People that I have talked to from Norway and Finland somehow can accept that money is important and think of it as a practical concern. I think this obsession with not seeming like a Gold Digger is an American culture thing.

lol I mean isn't calling someone a gold digger similar to slut shaming. Culturally men go after women all the time for looks but men don't get shamed for that. Anywho I know that's not the point of your post. I just react to the word gold digger because I think it's something messed up deep in the American Psyche. Why can women not be at least equally as shallow as guys are. Still females are supposed to be virtuous to their own detriment. I'm gonna stop rambling. Why is gold digging a social concern though, consenting adults make their own choices.

The gold diggers play came out like right before women got the right to vote it must have been interesting times.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on June 27, 2019, 12:50:07 PM
Once again, Hops, I want to mention the safe space of "making out like teenagers."

Whatever form that might take for you.... think about designating closeness, with rules in place, then see how things go with positive energy, and expectations on board.

Everyone keeps their skivvies on... yours will be comfy, and make you feel good.  Maybe jammies?  I think the important thing is to know where the lines are, and be comfortable with them... trust them.

Soft, pleasing touch is nice on backs of knees, and inside elbows.  Lovely almost kisses, brushing of lips, and forehead nuzzling are expressions of non sexual touch I feel are important, but often ignored.

Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on June 30, 2019, 02:39:02 PM
Well, dang.
All is well but I spent the night in the hospital incapable of coherent speech, feeling very strange, plus puking. Ugh. It was scary, but I had friends plus M. rally  -- come here to feed and walk pooch, sit with me in the ER, etc. And M blew me away, and a lot of my resistance melted. He simply stubbornly stayed with me and wouldn't budge, half the night and half the next day (when he wasn't sorting out Pooch).

I slipped deeper in love again because he was so genuine. A close girlfriend said later, "I know he can be a knowitall but boy, what a heart." And she never says stuff like that about people.

It was most likely a TIA (transient ischemic attack) and I have a little white dot in my brain and new meds to take. But I wound up with one of the best neurologists in the country and he said, "Yes, go to Paris anyway."

So we are--tomorrow! I feel okay and am very happy about the trip. The silver lining was the revelation of what it felt like to have someone so at my back when I was scared, speaking garbledly, and vomiting. Didn't deter him one bit, and all of his behavior was just that I'm that important to him.

Hmmm. Maybe I'm going to be able to stop looking a gift horse in the mouth. He will still drive me crazy with personality stuff sometimes, but I just got a good luck at the character beneath all that.

I'll have a tablet with me so hope to keep up with you all this week. I know if you'd been here there would've been even more Amazons at the hospital!

love you guys,
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on June 30, 2019, 03:02:29 PM
Lighter, thanks for that advice too.
I didn't respond directly because I'm old enough that I felt a tinge embarrassed reading it...but the truth is I've been told my whole round-heeled life that I'm a wonderful lover. I get the subtle and sensuous stuff.

What I will need (and will maybe get an occasional approximation of which right now is looking like plenty) is for sweet M to calm down enough to not overwhelm me with so much of his anxiety that I can't actually relax and do any of that stuff. Baby steps. We'll start simple, I think.

Lately it's all shot into the context of life and I'm feeling pretty grateful and calm.

Okay no more sex detail! (I know, I brought it up...my bad.).

:)
Hops

Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on June 30, 2019, 03:10:48 PM
Gboat,
That was an amazing post and I think you're right.
Culturally, Americans really amuse themselves shaming and being suspicious of women. Despite the fact that if most average women had equal economic power the whole question would be moot.

And if I were to "dig" for anything, it'd be a new bathroom and/or a safe spot in a merely decent old-age home. Not exactly baubles to keep a princess happy.

Thank you! You made me stop resonating so much to that.

Hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on June 30, 2019, 03:15:48 PM
Well, dang.
All is well but I spent the night in the hospital incapable of coherent speech, feeling very strange, plus puking. Ugh. It was scary, but I had friends plus M. rally  -- come here to feed and walk pooch, sit with me in the ER, etc. And M blew me away, and a lot of my resistance melted. He simply stubbornly stayed with me and wouldn't budge, half the night and half the next day (when he wasn't sorting out Pooch).

I slipped deeper in love again because he was so genuine. A close girlfriend said later, "I know he can be a knowitall but boy, what a heart." And she never says stuff like that about people.

It was most likely a TIA (transient ischemic attack) and I have a little white dot in my brain and new meds to take. But I wound up with one of the best neurologists in the country and he said, "Yes, go to Paris anyway."

So we are--tomorrow! I feel okay and am very happy about the trip. The silver lining was the revelation of what it felt like to have someone so at my back when I was scared, speaking garbledly, and vomiting. Didn't deter him one bit, and all of his behavior was just that I'm that important to him.

Hmmm. Maybe I'm going to be able to stop looking a gift horse in the mouth. He will still drive me crazy with personality stuff sometimes, but I just got a good luck at the character beneath all that.

I'll have a tablet with me so hope to keep up with you all this week. I know if you'd been here there would've been even more Amazons at the hospital!

love you guys,
Hops

Oh Hops, how scary for you, I'm so sorry you had to go through this but equally very happy that M was a trooper and pulled out all the stops on this one.  It is possible to get past 'personality' stuff if the underlying bits are shiny and good.  My very dear friend's boyfriend can be a bit testing when you first get to know him (he's a bit of a know it all as well) but once you get past that he truly is the sweetest, kindest man and would genuinely give away the shirt on his back (and I think the know it all stuff is nerves with him; once you get to know him all of that recedes).  So I'm glad M was there and looked after pooch for you.  I hope you feel alright now and goodness me, have an amazing time in Paris!  Give a wave in my direction as your plane lands :) Hope it all goes well and that you have an amazing time xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on July 01, 2019, 01:22:17 AM
And isn't that part of the important stuff..... that someone you love will be there, hold your head when you're puking, pull back your hair, and make sure you're OK. 

It's lovely M stayed, and took care of pooch, and remains devoted.... it truly is important, Hops.

You have a ball in Paris.  Eat, drink, and be merry!  I hope you dance.

Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on July 01, 2019, 06:51:16 AM
Thanks, Tupp. It really was frightening. It was a mini-stroke (TIA), they believe, so I got sent home with meds and dire warnings. I can drink wine in Paris, but not daily, and only a glass. Very sobering, pun intended. I just need to be grateful and take care of life business, because with something like a stroke (my mother had one and spent her last year half paralysed) you never know when it could hit. So I feel newly vulnerable. Still, though 69 is young for this, recurrence should be preventable in most cases. General statistics are sobering because many TIAs lead to a real stroke within a year.

I honestly think I'll need to tell M that some of the struggles we've been through I've responded to with huge internal stress...a la, the kind of frustration and angst that drives up blood pressure. His incessant talking plus pressure really does affect me. Particularly when he's repeating stuff over and over. But I'll try to be kind about it and empathic and see if he's capable of modifying that a bit. I hope so.

Lighter, it was wonderful to have him at my back. At first it wasn't. I didn't want him in the ER because as I suspected he'd try to take over. I told my girlfriend that and he insisted anyway and basically shoved his way in even though she'd told him my preference was he wait in the waiting room. She likes him a ton and he charmed her (and part of her felt okay about him taking over) -- but still, it was over my objections. (I was comfortable with her there while I was gabbling but wasn't ready to be that vulnerable with him. As it turned out, I had no choice.) I didn't want him insisting doctors talk to him not me...and with his dominant personality they all kept turning to him. I finally started being blunt: M, please stop interjecting and let me talk to my doctors. It took more than once, but he did respect my wishes in the end. The effort of keeping him at bay was extra stress. So I hope we go forward with just...a calmer relationship that isn't just defined by him.

And all in all though I am still very glad and grateful and touched at his character beneath the exhaustingness. After the crisis it was a big comfort to have him in my room, and I felt really loved. When he got home he did a lot of reading up on TIA.

Hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on July 01, 2019, 10:14:53 AM
Goodness HOPS... big long huge cyber-hug for you m'dear!

You tell M I said, (in my best Mom's putting her foot down voice):

When Hops tells you what she needs to feel safe, and relaxed - LISTEN TO HER and adjust accordingly. It's just as much a way of having her back, as getting all manly & in charge.

I'll butt out now. Except to point out that vulnerability is required to have authentic relationships; for both parties. It's never easy or without anxiety, fears, and stress.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: CB123 on July 01, 2019, 10:20:14 AM
I'm so glad you didnt have to go through this alone! Oh my word. That is so scarey. Sounds like you had a couple of people with you (girlfriend too!) and that helped a lot in a getting what you needed in the moment.

I hear you saying that he was wonderful and stuck with you through thick and thin--vomit and confusion. On such a primitive level that is so vital to be cared for.

I also hear you saying that it took considerable effort to get him to do as you asked in the moment, and your girlfriend tried as well and you two were minimally successful. I hear you saying that it seems that the amount of stress you were under with his incessant commentary and some of the controlling behavior had something to do with your blood pressure being elevated, perhaps making you at risk for a TIA.

It sounds like you are hoping that sitting down and having an in depth discussion about how his natural way of socializing affects you adversely. Are you hoping that he will modify his behavior, and become more quiet and thoughtful so you will be able to keep some inner equilibrium? Do you have a plan B--perhaps that you will just buck up and find new ways of dealing with it since it appears it is his personality, which is hard for a person to change? 

Pondering with you on this. Hope you have a wonderful trip! Shame about the wine, but hey! there's pastries and if I had to choose, I would choose them anyway. Actually, I do have to choose (some medical issues that have come up for me in the last year) and I dont get either one. Boo. I'm more like: no wine, and pastries are okay, but not every day--or multiple times a day.

Much anticipation for your dreamy trip,
CB
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on July 01, 2019, 01:06:56 PM
Thanks, Tupp. It really was frightening. It was a mini-stroke (TIA), they believe, so I got sent home with meds and dire warnings. I can drink wine in Paris, but not daily, and only a glass. Very sobering, pun intended. I just need to be grateful and take care of life business, because with something like a stroke (my mother had one and spent her last year half paralysed) you never know when it could hit. So I feel newly vulnerable. Still, though 69 is young for this, recurrence should be preventable in most cases. General statistics are sobering because many TIAs lead to a real stroke within a year.

I honestly think I'll need to tell M that some of the struggles we've been through I've responded to with huge internal stress...a la, the kind of frustration and angst that drives up blood pressure. His incessant talking plus pressure really does affect me. Particularly when he's repeating stuff over and over. But I'll try to be kind about it and empathic and see if he's capable of modifying that a bit. I hope so.

Lighter, it was wonderful to have him at my back. At first it wasn't. I didn't want him in the ER because as I suspected he'd try to take over. I told my girlfriend that and he insisted anyway and basically shoved his way in even though she'd told him my preference was he wait in the waiting room. She likes him a ton and he charmed her (and part of her felt okay about him taking over) -- but still, it was over my objections. (I was comfortable with her there while I was gabbling but wasn't ready to be that vulnerable with him. As it turned out, I had no choice.) I didn't want him insisting doctors talk to him not me...and with his dominant personality they all kept turning to him. I finally started being blunt: M, please stop interjecting and let me talk to my doctors. It took more than once, but he did respect my wishes in the end. The effort of keeping him at bay was extra stress. So I hope we go forward with just...a calmer relationship that isn't just defined by him.

And all in all though I am still very glad and grateful and touched at his character beneath the exhaustingness. After the crisis it was a big comfort to have him in my room, and I felt really loved. When he got home he did a lot of reading up on TIA.

Hugs
Hops

I hope he's able to adjust, Hops, I guess for men of his generation there were many things expected of them and they've probably not done the internal battle that a lot of women have had to do in order to be heard.  I'm sorry to hear that the pressures have led to this health situation although it makes sense; stress is such a huge thing and can cause so many hidden dangers.  I hope you are able to have that talk and find that balance in there; he's not out of the woods when it comes to a Tupp arse kicking yet!!  Lol, I hope you are feeling okay and that the Paris trip is both relaxing and wonderful xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Garbanzo on July 04, 2019, 06:04:03 PM
That is so scary Hops.  When you go to Paris get some Cassis Sorbet if you see it. And if you can only drink one glass of wine then  it's encouragement not to waste time on mediocre wine. Be adamant that nobody gives you table wine. We have good wine in the US too but we don't have all that Architecture and art. 

I always wanted to go to Musée de l’Orangerie with those big long Monet paintings that take up the whole room.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on July 05, 2019, 01:35:43 AM
Good advice, Boat!
M is all over wine and every glass is amazing. I will keep my eye for cassis sorbet today! We're going to do a mellow boat down the Seine. Day before yesterday we spent in Giverny so I wish I could have brought you!
We had dinner by the Sorbonne yesterday where he's lectured, and spent a good deal of time at Notre Dame, just trying to absorb the sight.
We arrived in Paris just after the heat wave broke and it's been beyond gorgeous since.

Lemme say though that the jet lag!s been Brutal, took both of us until today to feel fairly normal and tomorrow we leave! But it's also been wonderful and brought us closer (not counting day one, when I was so exhausted I was Not Pleasant). Since then though we've done really well. He feels like a boy again and I'm enjoying his company. Finding my rusty French again is fun. Most meaningful was having dinner with my friend!s daughters and their families in Montmartre. I didn't get to say goodbye to their mother, my close friend from age 17, and reconnecting with these girls almost felt like being a mother again. They were jut wonderful. The husband is a historian so he and M had a wonderful time.

hugs
HOps
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Garbanzo on July 05, 2019, 02:23:09 PM
That's great Hops. Glad you are having fun. 
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on July 05, 2019, 02:49:10 PM
I'm so happy to read about your trip, HOPS!  Keep sharing, and consider eating at Le Souffle IF you can't think of somewhere else to eat.  I always enjoy that place when in Paris.  https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g187147-d719430-Reviews-Le_Souffle-Paris_Ile_de_France.html

There's fancier eating establishments, but I always make sure to visit this not too fancy place at least once.  The blue facade breaths happiness into my heart when I see it.  The food is comforting, and yummy!  I always feel the wait staff cares, and wants to make me happy: )

YAY! YAY! to having a nice time, not too hot, in Paris, HOPS!

I'm so glad: )

Lighter



Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on July 06, 2019, 07:56:44 AM
E Gads... I think maybe we're all about a 1000 miles OT from the purpose of the board, these days. Everyone is doing so much better than years ago. The contrast is positively heartening.

When do you take off for the 2nd leg of your trip Hops? Still feeling fine I hope?
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on July 06, 2019, 04:19:45 PM
Thanks, all, so much. Where else could I talk about all this stuff and be so understood?

All in all, M was amazing inParis. And we did have that talk...I told him I wasn't blaming him but fear the nonstop talking is maybe a compulsion, and that because I'm wired to be very reactive to speech in my presence and I simply can't not listen, and I'm reacting with a lot of stress and just not sure I can handle it long term. He got a lot quieter and I expressed myself more and we got very playful and just had a joyous time. Even joked about it a lot. And then ironically he came down with laryngitis  yesterday! Speaking of hints from the universe. But it was an amazing week, highlight a day near the Sorbonne. Notre Dame was very sad.

Today he's soaking up the sun on the balcony of his fancy visiting professors suite in Jerusalem, starts his lectures next week.

 I came to Oslo today and though I lost my cell phone, am having a beautiful time with old friend Erik and family. Their house is on an island a block from the king!s summer home. We could tell he's there because of the sole guard! Erik's met him and says he's very nice while introverted, and folks really like the queen. Strange neighbors! Stunning place all around...their house is from another time, full of generations of his family stuff and hers (Russian). His wife (retired film maker) and daughter (opera singer now teaching voice) made an amazing huge dinner with fish and lots of Vegs plus huge local strawberries for dessert. Tomorrow we're taking the streetcar downtown and I'm going to buy a warm sweater...after perfect-warmth Paris, Oslo's nearly starting fall. So gorgeous here, first time back since 1960. Really grateful to be here, dreamed of it a long time.

Thanks for the Le Soufflé suggestion, Lighter, but since M practically,lives for the gourmet thing and has 50 favorites, I was happy to let him choose. To say we ate well is an understatement.

Tupp, M is now plotting a Guggenheim so we could spend a year here, and if that happens you and I will meet, promise!

GBoat, thanks for the good wishes. You've no idea how much your perspective helped me enjoy all this. And Amber, you said something so insightful about respecting restraint being as much having my back as taking charge. I'm going to find a time to tell him that (but will pretend I thought of it, okay?)

CB, you sure heard me. Every piece of it. Thank you so much.

Love y'all LOTS,
Hops

Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on July 10, 2019, 10:05:49 AM
Made it home in one piece though yesterday was, not to exaggerate, a hellish marathon. I manifested M's nasty cold the day I left Oslo and was sooooo sick by the time I got back to Paris. One night at an airport hotel (very inconsistent directions from staff resulted in riding a train back and forth extra time) and then yesterday:

Up at 830am Paris time
To airport at 10
Security (ain't what it used to be!) and then flight at 1:00
Arrived hub city at 430 Eastern Time
Five. Hour. Layover. Siiiiiick--whole box of tissues sick, coughing.
Left hub 10pm EST
Arrived home past midnight
At house half-hour later

I can't even do the math but can somebody tell me how many straight hours I was awake streaming nose, coughing and spluttering (feeling guilty about others) on the airplanes? Only exception was when I got chills too and the lady across the way gave me an extra blanket and I got all wrapped up in that, refastened the seat belt, passed out for 30 minutes, then woke up in turbulence to realize I had to pee and felt feverishly disoriented, got all tangled up in the two blankets plus headset wires and couldn't get the belt open fast enough and...you guessed it, old lady nightmare.

Fortunately, nobody else noticed --most were asleep-- and the flight attendant kindly fetched my suitcase so I could change into clean pants. DAMN. (And you guys are the lucky winners! Not sure I'll tell anybody ELSE about that.) That said, it was also one of many Blanche Dubois moments -- relying on the kindness of strangers. It may have been being sick but I really think it's just that I'm older than I was before and travel's changed a lot. And loads of people answered questions even with language barriers and were helpful and kind. Talked to the sweetest Norwegian chaplain on the plane from Oslo to Paris and he was a GIFT.

Missed a train in Norway and spent a long chilly time on the platform and lost my cell phone.

Other than that? The trip was wonderful and I'd do it again in a heartbeat (M sez we're going to). Only change I'd insist on is I really will not travel that many hours in a row again. Even if it means another night at a hotel. That was too much.

But I made it and am lolling around with Pooch, who was happy to see me but also mellow and relaxed and clearly had been treated super well by the sitter, who left my little house clean as a whistle, with flowers. She even cleaned a disgusting birdbath. Another friend got in groceries and a couple others checked on me by email. I had to let them know what was happening with me but once I had, several showed they cared. I feel LUUUUUUUUUUUUUCKY. And grateful.

One disappointment...one friend of a couple years dislikes my most blunt close long-term friend, who was critical of her performance in a key church position. Okay, those things happen. But I allowed the two of them to intersect at my house (I thought I'd mentioned the blunt one was stopping by but the other friend insists I didn't, and even if I had warned her, how could I not then ask her if she needed to go, or some such avoidance strategem because she'd been so hurt by Ms. Blunt's critical email?). The newer friend has turned my lack of attention to her fragile feelings into a cause for not speaking to me for a while (though she briefly did about the stroke and another committee thing). That is a pink flag for me. For me, a squabble between two friends does not force me to choose one of them, and that may be what she wants. She said she'll be in touch this month, so we'll see.

Have to get an echocardiogram Friday and also have a heart monitor put on that I have to wear for 30 freaking days. But I'm glad I have great care, good teaching hospital here.

Sorry to be so self-absorbed but glad y'all are willing to read it!

love
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: CB123 on July 10, 2019, 01:14:36 PM
Hops, sounds like it was a wonderful whirl-wind, but your travel stories made me get sweaty palms!

And I dont know how we both get the same terrible cold--I've been laid up for a week, and I can't even imagine how I would have traveled as well as you did.

Wishing you a very peaceful recovery in your little house,
CB
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on July 10, 2019, 02:58:18 PM
Lordy, Hops what  nightmare.  Sick.  Lost cell phone.  Missed trains.  Marathon travel schedules.  I'm amazed you came out of it as chipper as you are.  Well done!

About the peeing your pants..... it happens to everyone, I think, if they'll just admit it.  I tend to put it off, and do just
one
more
thing, then run out of time, when I could have made it if I'd just taken care of business.

Of course, you were sick, cocooned, and sabotaged by the jostling and wires.... it's a difficult thing to get into an airplane bathroom when things are going well, IME.

Sorry your friends problem is creating angst for you.  It's not your problem.... you didn't cause it, and you can't fix it.  Let them have it, and stay focused on yourself.

I bet Pooch is thrilled to the moon to have you back!

Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on July 11, 2019, 12:38:49 PM
Eh... let all that go Hops and take care your cold. It'll still be there to deal with, if it's important. Did M come back with you or is he traveling separately because of his obligations?
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on July 11, 2019, 03:36:42 PM
Thanks, CB...I still sound gross and am coughing some but feel MUCH better. Not leaving the house, just lazing about. Tomorrow I do have to go out...bank, echocardiogram and cardiac monitor install. Then I'll come back and resume lazing.
One friend dropped by (the one who raced me to the ER and was there for it) but I've told everybody else I'm not up to going out or meeting up quite yet.

Lighter, you are right...Pooch was clearly delighted I returned but got over it much too fast. She was so mellowed out that I considered her underwhelmed. Tee hee. It's actually the best possible reaction, no clinging, no acting traumatized. I'd use that sitter again in a heartbeat. And you're right, that trip was intense! (But wonderful.) I did miss her though, and it was lovely to have her to think about.

Amber, M and I left Paris on the same day but from two different terminals. Me to Norway, him to Jerusalem for 3 days of guest lectures at the university, then he's heading to Istanbul as he's never been and wants to see certain antiquities and the Blue Dome, then for a few days with old friends in Madrid where he also once had a house. He returns in a week.

I'll be glad to see him but am enjoying the break, too. We've done some really good emailing, I think. And he left me the key to his fabulous cloistered neighborhood pool so I can take friends there. They can swim and I'll enjoy watching them from the shade or stick my legs in (doubt I can swim with a monitor on!).

Hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on July 15, 2019, 01:29:20 PM
The trip sounds amazing, Hops, the journey home sounds like hell, bless you!  I'm glad Pooch was so happy and well looked after and that friends organised home coming stuff for you.  Are you feeling a bit better now?  I'm glad you and M enjoyed yourselves on the trip; it sounded like it could have gone either way because of what had gone on before :)  So I'm glad it went the better way of the two :)  I hope you've been able to get your feet up and recover a bit now xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on July 16, 2019, 09:48:34 AM
Feeling much better, thanks Tupp!
Got out again yesterday, took a friend to M's pool, and except for one mother and child for the first half, we wound up with the entire place to ourselves. Ridiculous, on a hot day in July. It was gorgeous. I just kicked from the side and then simply walked back and forth in the water (could splash but couldn't submerge the monitor) but it was wonderful. Residual cough is on its way out.

M comes home the 18th and has written me lovely travelogue emails daily, and is so eager to see me again. Me too. I am also aware that after the stroke, I will be more at peace about setting and holding boundaries and not letting him power over, ooze through, cajole or frantic-ize his way across them. I think that will be essential to building a healthy relationship going forward, and despite his moments of discomfort or frustration, I think he should be able to grow and get calmer. If he isn't capable of that growth, then that's another decision for another day. But at least I feel clear on what my job is. It really is to take care of myself, and that includes within our relationship.

I'm going to be happy to see him too. And I feel more open and affectionate toward him because of the two intense things we've just shared: the hospitalization and the trip. I have a feeling we've each learned some important things and time will tell me whether that's true and continuing.

Appreciate you checking! It means SO much to have this place to offload it all and I get such wisdom back.

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on July 16, 2019, 10:21:51 AM
I was just reflecting that it's important to have a group of Amazon ladies, to run all the crazy relationship stuff past for a 2nd opinion. For me, anyway. I have such a strong and wayward imagination I kinda fear deceiving myself. Especially in that first flush of excitement about "this is really happening". And in my case, happening so fast, I swear my head is spinning in Linda Blair fashion. LOL.

And then, that first moment of peace settles in and the relationship seems more "cozy" than anything else, and one can't believe one deserves such good fortune. But of course, rationally, there is a long list of reasons WHY we do. It doesn't diminish the gratitude one bit.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Garbanzo on July 17, 2019, 07:18:14 PM
How did the follow up with the doc go?
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on July 17, 2019, 08:39:30 PM
Thanks for asking, G!
Last thing was on Friday, getting a cardiac monitor (30 day) put on and also an echocardiogram. Haven't heard the results yet.

I don't have to go back to the Stroke Center for the bigger followup until October, so they must not be too worried about me. But maybe once I mail the monitor back in they'll get in touch if there's anything alarming.

I'm betting not, but that my task is to do what I know I need to do for general health (diet, exercise, etc). The specific thing I'm thinking about is not being so emotionally reactive to M's stuff. I realize there's nothing malicious, but when even a good man slips into entitlement or "I think I'm in charge" behavior, something inside me reacts like a trapped weasel. I think that goes all the way back to my brother, and is something I'm going to talk about with the T.

Surely my emotional state is something I can do something about too, not just my body.

I'll keep y'all posted. But I'm feeling much better and looking forward to the heat wave passing so I feel like walking again. Meanwhile, there's an indoor track nearby (no excuses) and even M's pool.

Been lazy all week getting over jet lag and cold, but I pick him up at the airport tomorrow night and think that'll give me some energy too. He thinks it'll take him a week too...in your 70s it's different, no more one-day turnaround.

Several months left for swimming and I'd be a fool not to take advantage of it.

Hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on July 17, 2019, 08:56:33 PM
Splashing around in a nice pool sounds really great, Hops.

Maybe make spa water with watermelon, and cucumber, my favorites.

I'm glad you're feeling better: )

Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on July 18, 2019, 06:18:15 AM
Smart Hops...

Yes, I think too, that the internal emotional upsets are just as much stress - and even harder on us - than manual labor. I'll bet this dive into those issues is going to be very freeing for you.

Water forms of therapy are some of the easiest on old muscles and joints (impacts on joints causes so much wear & tear on the cushioning) and it's also relaxing and feels great in this heat.

Glad your partner in fun is returning soon!
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on July 18, 2019, 10:50:38 AM
Thanks, ((((Amber)))). I think you're right and think my surges of fear and self protection have probably been accompanied by BP spikes all along. The test results refer to "embolism" which I think is the fancy word for "clot". Hence, blood thinners. But I can't imagine that feeling THAT upset (as I was when he swanned into what he perceived as D rescue) didn't have an effect on my body, my blood vessels, my BP.

Hence, calm. Swimming. Mellow times with M and should he become too un-mellow, my feet must take me home or into retreat. I don't know how well this New Me (hopefully) will go, but I am going to try to explain it to him pre-emptively and kindly.

He has a looooooong way to go in terms of self-knowledge. The good thing is that he reacted to his first T session with interest and excitement and I think if it engages his intellect first (which it has) then his emotional habits underneath will eventually come up enough for him to see them.

It's a large bet, and I can't be sure. But all in all, I'm happy I'll be seeing him at the airport tonight. I'm hoping I'm not back on here in days or weeks all crushed about a new episode of the old behavior. Having just had a wee stroke, I would see that as a challenge for me to put survival above relationship.

(Then again, in fairness, I need to remember that I had a similar though much milder episode of this--not being able to retrieve words--a couple years before we met. So M is just one new among pre-existing factors that will either support my wellbeing or undermine it. And that'll involve taking in the whole picture, best I can. I will need to watch, remain calm, look at my life and our interactions and take it from there....)

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on July 20, 2019, 09:05:16 AM
Maybe it's different past experiences, or different personalities or both... but when I say I have to pull back from Buck and sort out something that's my job to deal with, he lets me go do. And vice versa. That said, 24 hrs doesn't go by without a check-in.

I think I stumbled over something important in yesterday's farm post. About stop struggling. I'm not entirely sure what's important about that (the heat is really affecting me; as well as adjusting to his late night schedule) but I'll see what it is, eventually.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on July 20, 2019, 11:41:26 AM
That's so wonderful. I can't imagine you being with a whiner or a clutcher.

I have breathed through some of that with M and as I mentioned, it was nearly an end to us. But he also breathed through some of my trapped-weasel fury (over entitlement and stuff he does without thinking).

After all this breathing, we seem (so far) to be coming to the surface and looking at each other with less fear and more trust. Both the hospital and the trip brought us closer.

I hope B's ordeal will knit you two even closer in ways that help you both endure. He is a very lucky man. And it shows that even on a mountain, a woman who wants love can find it.

Hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on July 21, 2019, 11:54:57 AM
Oh... I think he's been stalking me for some time. Like years. I just paid no attention because I had Mike, moving, starting over on my plate... and he had 2 years of 5 surgeries and all the complications. But in hindsight, I can see now what I didn't notice then - and what I find interesting, is that over the years, we have reached out to one another at various times for different things. He never pressed; just bided his time. And I frankly, wasn't available for different reasons over that time - but I instinctively knew he was a very nice man and he demonstrated that without presuming. I HAD had some fleeting "thoughts" but I didn't seriously entertain them.

When all the guys were scaring the crap out of me, about what could go wrong with the bobcat - it was Buck that convinced me I could master this. When I needed advice about this or that... he was able to explain it to me in a way that made me confident I could manage it. And when I got stuck or confused, he bailed me out and even SHOWED me what he was doing and why it needed to be done.

The sense I have, is that he's been lonely a long time and had about given up finding a partner that understands what kind of man he is and doesn't want to change that. My just being there and caring - is the most important thing for him. I think I can do that, without smothering him. He and I are the same species of human being, I think.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on July 26, 2019, 12:34:37 PM
Having fun this week Hops? Feeling better?
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on July 27, 2019, 10:46:48 AM
Thanks, hon!
I'm better, though heartily sick of the chest monitor, which itches like fury and means I can only walk back and forth in the pool (just beneath-boob high). Maddening. And the heat's getting to me.

But...all is well with M. He seems to have calmed down a lot, I think maybe because he's feeling more secure with me. We're having dinner tonight.

The heat has been a brutal reminder of humans not governing themselves and I'm pretty depressed about politics.

Other than well, doing fine.

Went to visit my dying friend yesterday in a nearby city. M drove me and went to the museum while she and I had our visit. Sad and poignant but I'm glad I got to see her. On our own, M and I had fun...lunching at a great Greek place, walking in our favorite district, buying flowers for her from a lovely young man.

Will report more later...and check in about B. on your farm life thread.

Hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on July 27, 2019, 10:34:52 PM
Sorry about your friend, Hops. 

Politics depressing, I agree.  Last night I dreamed I had to run for President, and really resented having to prepare for debates.  Trump walked in, put his hand on the top of my head and squeezed hard.

I dropped down, aimed with intention, and punched him in the boys with an upper cut, using my knees.  It bugged me all day...that Trump touched me.

I'm glad you're getting along with M. 

Lighter

It
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on July 28, 2019, 12:51:26 AM
Oh but I'm so glad about your dream because of the way you touched HIM!!!

For all of us, that punch -- I thank you!

There is hope as long as everyone gets off their couches and votes!!!

Thanks for that image, I'll cherish it.

Hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on July 29, 2019, 02:03:49 PM
Yup yup yup... we have to get out and vote, Hops.

Have to.

I always go early, and there's hardly any line.

Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on August 02, 2019, 02:20:39 AM
Thanks, hon!
I'm better, though heartily sick of the chest monitor, which itches like fury and means I can only walk back and forth in the pool (just beneath-boob high). Maddening. And the heat's getting to me.

But...all is well with M. He seems to have calmed down a lot, I think maybe because he's feeling more secure with me. We're having dinner tonight.

The heat has been a brutal reminder of humans not governing themselves and I'm pretty depressed about politics.

Other than well, doing fine.

Went to visit my dying friend yesterday in a nearby city. M drove me and went to the museum while she and I had our visit. Sad and poignant but I'm glad I got to see her. On our own, M and I had fun...lunching at a great Greek place, walking in our favorite district, buying flowers for her from a lovely young man.

Will report more later...and check in about B. on your farm life thread.

Hugs
Hops

I'm glad you got to see your friend, Hops, and that you and M are having a good time.  I hope the monitor comes off soon!  Sounds like a real pain, although necessary.  But will be nice for you not to have to think about it and keep it out of the water. xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on August 02, 2019, 04:49:36 PM
How are you feeling, Hops?

Are you able to get feedback from the monitor, or do you have to wait till it comes off?

Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on August 03, 2019, 01:45:07 AM
Thanks, Lighter.
I'm feeling okay, though less energetic than I'd like.

It hit me this evening that I'm on a big dose of statins after several years off the very low dose I used to take. And that depletes Co Q-10, which I'd forgotten about. I will get back on that tomorrow and stay with it, should help I hope.

Only other issue is the damn itching...eventually the adhesive gets through even the SkinCote, which is essentially liquid vinyl. Ick. I have to swab on two layers of the stuff to tolerate the monitor patch for a day or two, and my skin is miserable beneath it. Welts, and one spot nearly raw. But there's no choice.

Last day to wear it is the 11th...then I mail it all in. No idea how long it takes for the analysis to come in.

I do feel a bit worried about the result. I'm just praying I don't have afib, which would require strong blood thinners for life. Would really like to avoid that, but I'll deal.

Thanks for checking!

Hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Garbanzo on August 03, 2019, 03:56:07 AM
Ouch, I don't know what helps adhesive reactions. I think some people have real allergies to the glue. Or maybe it's an irritant.
Benadryl? Probably wouldn't help. Hydrocortisone cream around the edges?

Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on August 03, 2019, 04:05:59 AM
Thanks, Lighter.
I'm feeling okay, though less energetic than I'd like.

It hit me this evening that I'm on a big dose of statins after several years off the very low dose I used to take. And that depletes Co Q-10, which I'd forgotten about. I will get back on that tomorrow and stay with it, should help I hope.

Only other issue is the damn itching...eventually the adhesive gets through even the SkinCote, which is essentially liquid vinyl. Ick. I have to swab on two layers of the stuff to tolerate the monitor patch for a day or two, and my skin is miserable beneath it. Welts, and one spot nearly raw. But there's no choice.

Last day to wear it is the 11th...then I mail it all in. No idea how long it takes for the analysis to come in.

I do feel a bit worried about the result. I'm just praying I don't have afib, which would require strong blood thinners for life. Would really like to avoid that, but I'll deal.

Thanks for checking!

Hugs
Hops

Hops, it does sound very irritating!  It's a long time to have to put up with it - minor discomfort is alright for a few days but longer than that and I find it becomes all I can think about - very annoying!  Do they have to leave it on for so long to see if there are patterns or something like that?  Whatever the reason I will keep my fingers crossed that it's all processed soon and you get the results through.  I find not know the outcome harder to deal with than knowing, even if it's not news I want to hear!  So I hope it's all sorted out soon - and that you get your Co-Q thingy sorted as well! xx xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on August 04, 2019, 09:21:50 AM
Hang in there Hops! Not that many days left now. And it's a lot of data for the doc.

How are things with M? You guys doing some fun stuff?
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Garbanzo on August 04, 2019, 11:22:18 PM
Yeah at least the docs are being thorough.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on August 06, 2019, 06:16:08 PM
Just keep that monitor dry, and don't stop swimming, Hops.

Whatever happens, it's going to be OK.

Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on August 12, 2019, 03:46:54 PM
Thanks, ((((Lighter)))) -- the damn thing's off me as of yesterday!

Oy, men. M really stepped in it this morning when his morning email included a picture of a bullfight and a totally cerebral explanation of the "crucial role" horses have played in history as "mediators" between the human and animal worlds. He got back a diatribe about how cock fighting, bear baiting and dog fights might have their interpreters as well, how they are "mediators" rather than torture victims, and that bullfighting revolts me at the most profound level and thus I do not care what it symbolises. Ooof. Not nice words for a scholar who deals in the abstract all day but jeez!

I had told him, humorously, at dinner last night how beautiful I find a horse's nostril -- one of the most beautiful things in the world -- soft as velvet, warm, full of sweet oaty breath they'll blow on your cheek. I am a person who ceased riding horses (having loved it for years) when one day I thought about how there was no good reason to subject a horse to me on its back. Light went on, boots went off. But I still adore being near them. Had an amazing experience on college graduation day when I was crushed it was over (four happiest years), went down to the stables, stood by the pasture fence and started sobbing. A horse I didn't even know, way across the field, raised its head, trotted all the way over to me, bent its head and placed its forehead against mine, and stood there stock-still until I was done sobbing. Then went away.

I ain't the right person to send some abstract defense of bullfighting before my caffeine has kicked in! (I'd also told him how when I was 14 in Madrid I was very upset that my father and brother went to the bullfight. I'd refused and stayed in the hotel because I knew what happened to the bull.) I was surprised M went there.

Just rambled through it with my T and got more clarity on how differently we see the world. Fortunately, once you scrape away the scholar there's a sweet heart inside. Whew.

xxoo
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on August 12, 2019, 07:18:19 PM
Oh, sweet animals, Hops.  Your horse story made me cry!

Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on August 13, 2019, 12:00:18 PM
Oh Hops - lovely horse story! I love them too.
And it is SOOOO true about how men & women see the world differently.

We have the patience and curiosity to pick through our emotional chamber pots trying to divine the secrets of the universe through them...

While men, simply see a tree = shade, renewable fuel, nuts or something that's edible, or something that is a comfort to them when they return to the abode covered in grease, mud and supposed glory (in the world of men). They don't believe there's much value in picking through feelings for secrets.

(Greatly oversimplifying/stereotyping here.)

Hahahahahahahaaa. God's last laugh on how he designed humans I guess. But it's also a clue, to us who are trying to puzzle out how to live with each other, as peacefully as possible.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on August 13, 2019, 02:24:22 PM
I think you're right, Amber. (And Light!)

Did I mention that he raved about the suckling pig he ate in Madrid? He cringed a little in my direction after he said it...but his appetite for taste knows no bounds.

I'm struggling (again) with my hesitation around intimacy (physical), for which he has waited a long time now. Working on it with my T. Got brave enough to tell him how certain behaviors freeze me shut (grabbing for it, whining for it, obsessively talking about it--which he recently stopped cold, I think after visiting his own T).

My problem is how long it takes me to thaw. He had unintentionally clueless and off-putting approaches for so long I feared it'd destroy my attraction for him completely. Came close, but in fact it hasn't. The nice thing is I'm motivated more by love (wanna make him happy) than I was before. So the time is coming and though I'm sure it'll turn out all right, I'm apprehensive. I felt SO much discomfort for so long, and then he relaxed and stopped pestering, but I sense the vacation from pressure is ending...and I'm nervous. Part of me wants to get it over with, so we can move forward with our plans.

So as delicately as I can put it, that's it. I don't need how-to, just encouragement for the emotional side, that I can stay balanced within myself.

Hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on August 13, 2019, 07:22:56 PM
Oh, Hops.

I hope you can enjoy his enjoyment in you.  I hope his amazement, and attraction makes you feel amazing, and attractive.  Powerful, and seductive.  In control, and grateful that he's so attracted to you, for so many things, in so many ways.  You're well rounded, intellectual, matched so well in so many ways.... this male/female magnet is a small part of a bigger picture... not THE PICTURE.

In other words... I hope you can have a glass or two of wine, get into something that makes you feel powerful/at your best, then let him discover more amazing things about you, for surely he'll be amazed no matter what you do.  (But he can't whine or whatever it is that drives you nuts.)  He just can't. 

::shaking head::  Both Ts need to go over this, with both of you guys, and it needs to be something that's not happening anywhere AROUND intimacy.  Appears he's surfing pretty good right now.

I'm in favor of undies on, making out like teenagers for a bit, myself.  Agreement up front, lots of in small steps.  Maybe you've already climbed those smaller hills in Paris? 

Worst case scenario, take a nerve pill, and try to be amazed at his amazement.... stay curious, and nonjudgmental as you can.  You might be super surprised in a happy way!

Lighter

Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on August 14, 2019, 12:54:44 PM
Thanks, Lighter -- warm words well received.

I do have to confess I noticed the how-tos, though: drink wine, negligee, nerve pill, whatever.

I honestly DON'T need/want how-to suggestions (got that part) but I was happy and comforted by your great suggestions for the emotional side. That's where I've been wobbly.

Thank you!

Hugs,
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on August 14, 2019, 01:26:57 PM
You'll be OK Hops. It's all about being really close to someone and showing empathy and compassion with touch. Start there and you'll discover it's a lot more than that. One thing naturally leading to another, as is usually the case. Those are really good feelings, IMO.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on August 14, 2019, 05:37:38 PM
 I wrote "something that makes you feel powerful/at your best."

I certainly did not write "negligee."    
::nod::.







Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on August 14, 2019, 07:10:10 PM
Got it!

:)

I really did perk up with the emotional strengthening you gave, ((((Light)))).

Thanks, hon.

Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on August 14, 2019, 11:19:00 PM
You really seem to connect with him,  Hops.  This is so different from your last relationship.  I hope that's real for you.  Every day.

Also, you can ask for what you want.  You can steer this thing into your comfort zone... maybe?

Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on August 15, 2019, 01:48:29 AM
Thanks much, Lighter.

I can. I do. I think I spent months trying to get across what I DON'T want that I couldn't focus well on the nuances. But thank god, he got it, and backed off the relentless repetitive pressure that was driving me nuts.

Somehow, I still believed it was his anxiety, nothing horrible. Just that, yet it was still driving me crazy. Then...he went into therapy. And almost overnight, he relaxed and cut out most of it, and then I told him another piece, and found that when I said directly (just as you're recommending) "I don't like that" -- he stopped doing whatever it was.

One small thing I should've spoken up about earlier was his habit of taking my wrist or hand unexpectedly when I was walking past him. I know he felt he was just reaching out to me, acting on impulse, but it made me feel trapped and jumpy. Sure enough, I opened my mouth and explained that...and he's never done it since.

Our communication is waaaay better and there's just a deeper connection now. I'm amazed but since HE relaxed (and I think therapy is the reason), I am relaxing more too. And that's gradually bringing me to what he wanted in the first place!

Men.
Love him but what a challenge it was...I had a lot of resistance to work through.

Hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on August 15, 2019, 06:02:37 AM
Hops, I have absolutely no advice to give you because I have 'been without' for so long now I wouldn't have a clue what to do now!  But I am really glad that you and M have/are working through things and that the things that were bugging you seem to have receded (bull fighting and suckling pigs aside!).  But it's great that he hears you and is willing to work at things and make changes.  I'm really happy for you and I hope that at some point it just feels 'okay' and the nervousness dispels a bit xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on August 15, 2019, 12:11:56 PM
Hops:

I'm just tucking into the book FACING CODEPENDENCE, What it is, Where it comes from, How it sabotages our lives by Pia Mellody, and the part about feeling resentment....

feeling resentment....

feeling resentment.... struck a chord, for myself, when I read it this morning. I SEE that in my life.  I've lived it.  I'm so very tired of it inhabiting my life in ways I wasn't even aware of, but see when I examine it... or have it pointed out for me. 

It struck a chord reading your post about M taking your wrist or hand, not that it's applicable. 

SO MANY CHORDS, really, and

The words "I feel resentful" were the buzzwords I spoke JUST before my T suggested the Codependency books, and now I see WHY she suggested them.  I wish I'd read them long ago.   I wish we could directly input this information into children when they're in grade school, but I digress. 

I'm not saying you don't have a right to feel whatever it is coming up, for certainly you do.  I'm suggesting there might be something underneath it, that's observable, and helpful to discern.

Or not.

You're speaking up, expressing how you feel, asking for what you want, and asking M to stop doing certain things is HUGE,  Hops. 

Those pesky boundaries, right?

Lighter

Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on August 20, 2019, 11:30:55 PM
Turns out, the secret was

BUBBLE

BATH.

:)

A happy
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on August 21, 2019, 10:41:41 AM
 :D :D :D :D :D

(((hops)))
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on August 24, 2019, 12:54:33 AM
Amber, had this in reply to you on Codependence thread but realized it goes here.

M and I looked at a house for fun and have talked about it a bit, and he indicated I could start learning what's out there since he has to start teaching next week, and I realized I wasn't sure about the parameters. So I didn't make it complicated, just asked: What is the range you're comfortable spending and what square footage? So he told me, so now I can focus. It all has to wait until he sells his condo in San Jose (CR), which might take a while, since he doesn't touch principal. And that's good to know too. (It helps that we've already had the money talk: it's simple for us because he's got it, I don't, and he's ready to spend it on our life and even to support me. I have my SS so won't be completely dependent (except for travel but he has literally hundreds of thousands of FF miles so I can accept the rest more easily) and after we move in together I'll have some rent coming in from this house. But in the big picture, he's going to buy the house and that simplifies things.) He's even open to the idea of a wing on my current house, which I'd love, but I doubt that'll work out.

Not worrying about it but it's a new phase for us. Complicated but happy to think about. I'm in no rush, and leaving this sweet hideaway will be hard. Likely nothing could happen before spring or next summer anyway. So I'll savor my time here while I can.

Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on August 24, 2019, 03:16:13 AM
Turns out, the secret was

BUBBLE

BATH.

:)

A happy
Hops

Aw, Hops, I hope that means what I think it means!  Who'd have thought bubble bath was the key :)  I'm glad this has become a happy phase now rather than a worrisome one :) xx xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on August 24, 2019, 03:27:54 PM
Bath time is lovely, Hops.  I'm so happy for you: )
Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on August 24, 2019, 10:05:42 PM
Thanks, guys. Blush.

We just went downtown for cafe dinner out, with Pooch. She does her diva thing (with the melting brown eyes that look rimmed in eyeliner) and collected pats in all directions from our table. I mean, people melt at her face and stop in their tracks to come pat her, it's so fun...

We ate and talked and enjoyed good wine and M was just waxing romantic nonstop, narrating our relationship and how happy he is. He was in good form. We even looked at another house he was quite enthused about and I could definitely adapt to. Fun!

Hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on August 25, 2019, 07:33:04 AM
"Narrating"... O.M.G.... (ooooops).
(blush......) I get it now.***


Hops, you and M seem to really have an affinity for water. Maybe find a house near a babbling stream or overlooking a river? I took 64 close to your city a couple time from the beach to the little cabin in WV. The babbling brook feature ought to be pretty common out that way too. Are you looking to stay in the city or get a little more remote? I'm betting there are lots of "best of both worlds" - close to the city's support services and yet out where it's quieter and not so hectic. Looking can be LOTS of fun.



*** more on what I now realize I've been doing; and how that's occurred in the farm thread.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on August 26, 2019, 01:39:34 AM
Fortunately, there are plenty of quiet leafy neighborhoods right in the city where you can enjoy your pet deer (or chickens!) and have lots of nature. It's a town with nature embedded in it.

I've lived in the mountains and in several remote areas (the most: Appalachian Kentucky, where without 4WD you literally couldn't leave the holler in winter) but have no craving for that any more. Part of it's aging, part of it's cowardice (nice to be near a hospital if stroke ever revisits, every minute counts to limit damage). And...I discovered after years on mountainsides or eastern shores that I really do need to perceive my neighbors' nearness. It's comforting to me. I don't want racket, of course, but I don't crave isolation or massive privacy. Indoors, sure. But not when I'm walking; I crave the human landscape as much as the other...and it's a 20 minute drive to the most beautiful mountains I've ever known.

IN town, definitely. And fortunately, M. feels the same way. There's a river right through the city anyone can access from various paths, but living ON water is unlikely. We're not going to spend THAT much! (Though I did point out to him at one house today where he could put in a pool...). His own glimpse of lake is through a very overgrown woods that is currently smothering his house, so not very soothing.

Hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on August 31, 2019, 05:36:41 AM
Fortunately, there are plenty of quiet leafy neighborhoods right in the city where you can enjoy your pet deer (or chickens!) and have lots of nature. It's a town with nature embedded in it.

I've lived in the mountains and in several remote areas (the most: Appalachian Kentucky, where without 4WD you literally couldn't leave the holler in winter) but have no craving for that any more. Part of it's aging, part of it's cowardice (nice to be near a hospital if stroke ever revisits, every minute counts to limit damage). And...I discovered after years on mountainsides or eastern shores that I really do need to perceive my neighbors' nearness. It's comforting to me. I don't want racket, of course, but I don't crave isolation or massive privacy. Indoors, sure. But not when I'm walking; I crave the human landscape as much as the other...and it's a 20 minute drive to the most beautiful mountains I've ever known.

IN town, definitely. And fortunately, M. feels the same way. There's a river right through the city anyone can access from various paths, but living ON water is unlikely. We're not going to spend THAT much! (Though I did point out to him at one house today where he could put in a pool...). His own glimpse of lake is through a very overgrown woods that is currently smothering his house, so not very soothing.

Hugs
Hops

My own personal perspective, Hops, is that it's inordinately sensible for all of us to be aware that getting older, more frail, becoming unwell and so on are all possibilities, however well we look after ourselves.  And in the absence of family to step in and help, it makes absolute sense to look for practical places to live, close to shops, doctors, somewhere nice for an evening out and so on.  As you say, you can always holiday to other places :)  Very exciting to be looking around and wondering where to go next :)  xx xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on August 31, 2019, 04:36:34 PM
Thanks, ((((Tupp))))!

He's on board with finding our own place near downtown, so I'm very grateful for that. I may be heist on me own petard, though, because we've blundered into a barely-advertised one with few details but we've seen it (outside), walked around it, and both just went whomp, in love.

Upsides: 1901 absolutely adorable, not a Mcmansion, literally just blocks from the Mall (restaurants, kulchah, library, concerts, parks, civic life). Historic --M is doing mental cartwheels over that and its original state (which he'd love to renovate) and we both are nuts about a brick stable behind it on the alley, which could become guest/studio/study/all three (it's large) space. Corner lot, endless potential space wise.

Downsides: Biggest one which is BIG, and it tells you something about the charm of the place that we're still so into it. It's on a VERY busy street. Actually the same one I live at the peaceful, quiet, no-traffic end of. But...up the road it's a direct artery out of downtown, a major street from there to the highway (I'm waaaaay past the highway with no through traffic, river below, etc). And the traffic there is relentless, and thus...noisy. Early morning and evenings won't be bad, but most of the day, with bedlam at rush hour, it's real. Daunting. Yet, and yet....

Other one is just that we've left messages for the anonymous owner with no response. It's not being marketed on regular listings and we're heading for the courthouse next week to try to find out the name and some way to write them a letter. So it's an iffy kinda thing. We may talk ourselves out of it (traffic) but the fantasizing has been fun.

The noise thing, we've talked about. I would plant a double row of thick hedge and do triple-glazed front and side windows. Beyond that, the truth is I don't spend a lot of time outdoors unless I'm taking a walk, so with sound insulation I'd be fine.
The yard can be made very pretty and we'd get help for that. I've faced that I'm a lazy, unmotivated gardener at this point, but M can afford the help and I'd love being "supervisor" for that.

Long story shorter, I think it's unlikely but we are enjoying looking together, and there's no urgency.

Other stuff that's happening is that we've stepped forward and have a mutual assumption about marriage and he does keep proposing. I will say Yes, but there are things I'd need resolved before taking the leap:
--we have bought a house
--we have agreed on downsizing process

That's pretty much it. I do dread leaving here but dread life alone forever more, so I've made my decision. M has been SO happy lately since we got intimacy underway (in our geezer fashion) that there's just no more hesitation.

More later...neighbor coming.

xxxxoooo
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on August 31, 2019, 06:29:15 PM
It's nice to read about house hunting, ideas for hedges, and your increasing confidence in the relationship, Hops.

I hope you find a house that sparks joy. 

Lighter

Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on September 01, 2019, 01:42:18 AM
Thanks, ((((Tupp))))!

He's on board with finding our own place near downtown, so I'm very grateful for that. I may be heist on me own petard, though, because we've blundered into a barely-advertised one with few details but we've seen it (outside), walked around it, and both just went whomp, in love.

Upsides: 1901 absolutely adorable, not a Mcmansion, literally just blocks from the Mall (restaurants, kulchah, library, concerts, parks, civic life). Historic --M is doing mental cartwheels over that and its original state (which he'd love to renovate) and we both are nuts about a brick stable behind it on the alley, which could become guest/studio/study/all three (it's large) space. Corner lot, endless potential space wise.

Downsides: Biggest one which is BIG, and it tells you something about the charm of the place that we're still so into it. It's on a VERY busy street. Actually the same one I live at the peaceful, quiet, no-traffic end of. But...up the road it's a direct artery out of downtown, a major street from there to the highway (I'm waaaaay past the highway with no through traffic, river below, etc). And the traffic there is relentless, and thus...noisy. Early morning and evenings won't be bad, but most of the day, with bedlam at rush hour, it's real. Daunting. Yet, and yet....

Other one is just that we've left messages for the anonymous owner with no response. It's not being marketed on regular listings and we're heading for the courthouse next week to try to find out the name and some way to write them a letter. So it's an iffy kinda thing. We may talk ourselves out of it (traffic) but the fantasizing has been fun.

The noise thing, we've talked about. I would plant a double row of thick hedge and do triple-glazed front and side windows. Beyond that, the truth is I don't spend a lot of time outdoors unless I'm taking a walk, so with sound insulation I'd be fine.
The yard can be made very pretty and we'd get help for that. I've faced that I'm a lazy, unmotivated gardener at this point, but M can afford the help and I'd love being "supervisor" for that.

Long story shorter, I think it's unlikely but we are enjoying looking together, and there's no urgency.

Other stuff that's happening is that we've stepped forward and have a mutual assumption about marriage and he does keep proposing. I will say Yes, but there are things I'd need resolved before taking the leap:
--we have bought a house
--we have agreed on downsizing process

That's pretty much it. I do dread leaving here but dread life alone forever more, so I've made my decision. M has been SO happy lately since we got intimacy underway (in our geezer fashion) that there's just no more hesitation.

More later...neighbor coming.

xxxxoooo
Hops

Oh my days, Hopsie, you're getting married!  Aw, I am so genuinely, honestly delighted for you :)  I know you were talking/thinking about it anyway but this sounds much more like, yes, it's on, sort a date!  Aw, so lovely, congratulations to you both :)

Noisy house - all I will say is I have lived in big cities on very busy roads many times in my life - and the traffic quickly becomes background noise and isn't noticeable after a while.  So with the soundproofing and hedges as well I think you'd be okay.  It sounds like a lovely house, and nice that you're both very excited about it.  I will keep fingers crossed that you can find the owner (and that there might be a quirky story behind it as well, I love quirky!).

Aw, Hops, happy posts!  This is so good :) xx xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on September 01, 2019, 11:10:01 AM
OOOOOOO... this sounds like a craftsman style house Hops? Or is it a Victorian or Queen Anne? What a wonderful project to share - updating, remodelling, making a nest together. Remodels can be stressful, but they don't have to be. Working together will be a good thing, for sure.

I hear you about taking your time thinking about marriage; but it is what you wanted. I'm so glad it's working out for you two.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on September 01, 2019, 02:28:36 PM
Thanks, guys...your being happy for me is soooo...happy!

Did more digging and found the owners of record, two older women in M's neighborhood, in fact. It's in a Family Trust, they're the Trustees. So I've written them a letter expressing our interest. The two sisters named in the trust didn't answer the phone or return my call (I suspect it was their younger brother who also lives there whose voice I heard).

We're all excited but who knows.

We're not EXACTLY "engaged" but I did refer to M as my "fiance" in my letter to the sisters, which he saw, so I think we've kinda slid sideways into it. I do want those securities in place before I commit, though.

Amazing time.

We're heading off to a little nearby river town for a picnic so I've gotta boogie.

Hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on September 01, 2019, 09:14:14 PM
Hey Lighter, I mean Amber (whoops!)--
Forgot to answer your question.
It's not Craftsman, it's late vernacular Victorian.
1901. Gables, trim, porches, and the brick stable. I dug into the history and it was built by a local shoemaker named Sextus. I love that. Told M we'd name our next dog after him but it'd be awkward when I'm yelling from the porch: Sexxxyyyy! Time for dinner! Heeeeeere, Sexxyyyy!

It's 2500 sq ft (huge for most human homes, yet a real leap from my 1100). I sure don't need or desire that much space (being a small-footprint afficionado) but M is himself with his antiques and art and rugs...AND he snores, so this could be for us a beautiful compromise. We found out from a walker that it's vacant so went up and gawked in the windows, etc. Looks relatively untouched and not bad condition, either. M expects he'd sink in almost what he'd buy it for to renovate but seems exhilarated by the idea.

I've had a lot of experience with falling in love with houses to have them not work out, though, so I'm keeping a lid on the daydreams. Or trying to.

Hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Garbanzo on September 02, 2019, 12:32:16 AM
Hehehe 😋 well looking at houses sounds fun. I like to see the inside of houses for sale just for the heck of it.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on September 05, 2019, 07:47:09 AM
Me too, G...
I've always been a house buzzard.

Something about imagining alternate lives, I think.

Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on September 05, 2019, 08:24:26 AM
Or living a new one Hops.

When there are major changes - and the struggles to adapt to those changes - and one reaches a plateau - it's a chance to take a breath, look around, and realize you've grown into another fuller version of yourself. More doors of possibilities await now, than ever.

Or more new rooms to make nests in.  :D
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on September 05, 2019, 10:00:33 AM
Ok.... a huge renovation possibly in the works for Hops.  Along with a new marriage.   And moves, and setting up her little cottage for what comes next. 

I'm with you, Hops, about being a bit shy over renovating houses. 

It's not a bad dream for new construction is it? 

Everything new, and working, and under warranty.

Whatever happens, enjoy it: )

Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on September 05, 2019, 04:01:33 PM
Thanks, guys.

Light, I've actually always disliked new construction, which unless it's architecturally quirky and imaginative, to me feels soulless. Most fancy new developments, even high end ones, leave my heart cold. I crave character in a home a lot. You've got a major point, though, about what's easier. And it might be that at this point in life it's time to compromise on things I crave in favor of things that are practical. We'll see...no news on that front anyway.

As to marriage? We are not engaged. I don't feel ready to be. But it's good we can touch on the subject with that goal in mind as we go forward.

Just had a really difficult time with M that was noone's fault, but illustrated a difference in our personalities. His charming over-the-topness, hyperfocus, and man-in-charge stuff is at times wonderful, refreshing and even comforting. Until it's not. I'm very sensitive and slowly am realizing that although I know he is GOOD, that doesn't mean he is also sensitive. Sometimes he bulls ahead with a topic or behavior that's quite sensitive for me, and gets all absorbed in his own goal and it is alienating. I was very upset about it yesterday and now am worried whether under the stresses of life and aging, we'll be compatible in all the ways we ideally should be.

Then again, things take time, and his distress at recognizing that he's been hurtful is genuine.

I'll leave it at that for now and will probably be reporting soon that it's all better and the happy feelings are back in full.

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on September 06, 2019, 04:55:35 PM
I don't know, Hops.  It seems to me that everyone has 10 good things and 10 bad things.  True relationship requires we love the bad things,  as much as the good things, IME.  We at least make peace with them, and recognize the ways they stretch us as human beings, who require the same grace in return, IME. 

And that's what this will be, Hops.  Bestowing grace on this man when he's doesn't necessarily deserve it, bc that's who you are to him now.  The kind person who explains what's in your heart, so he understands, when things are difficult.  You speak to him the way you want him to speak to you, and you make sure you're heard.   It appears he wants to hear you. 

And he'll be kind right back. 

That said, things aren't always going to be smooth sailing.  Relationships are work.  I think we sometimes have unrealistic expectations about just how much work is required. 

My mother used to say...
"Once you give up your freedom, it's gone."

I think that applies to all kinds of things.  Once we accept not being heard, not being understood... it gets too hard to fight our way back.  Better to pipe up, when the timing's right, and keep things clear. 

I think you're doing a marvelous job of that, btw.  You aren't living in fear.  You're forging ahead in avery brave fashion, iMO.

Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on September 07, 2019, 08:55:23 AM
Thanks, Lighter. I really appreciate that.

I think what happens when we have a disagreement or "off" phase is that M becomes overwhelmed with anxiety. And then, he begins bits of what seem to me like passive-aggression. I don't want to overreact, because 90% of the time he's not that way at all.

Example: If we've had a misunderstanding or difficult moment to work through, and I've retreated for a bit, he will absolutely flood me with messages about his overwhelming love for me, repeating and repeating and repeating and repeating it....until it doesn't feel like being loved so much as badgered.

I mean, when someone says "I love you" and your honest response in that moment is, "You've told me that..." something is amiss.

I've tried to explain it. Yesterday that came up (the frantic repetitions). I explained to him that sometimes hearing it too often wasn't helping. So as he began to email me early this morning, he began including at the end of his message: "Oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo...." It had that whiff of something I don't like reading in an email.

So I just wrote: What is Oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo?

He said, it's what I want to say but am not allowed to say so I find another way to say it.

I wrote back that to me, it seemed as though if someone says they're feeling uncomfortable and you invent a code that just lets you do what you want anyway, that's not progress. Something like that.

I don't want to make a mountain out of a molehill but I have pretty sensitive radar for when email is going toxic. I tried to explain it, then just asked that we talk later today and stop email for now. I hope he'll be able to understand.

(I got into horrible spaces in an email relationship years ago that made me forever cautious about relying on it for actual connection. I told him that we're okay, but since our connection had been tested recently, I think it's important to be clear and careful when we write each other.)

????? Does that make sense?

Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on September 07, 2019, 11:37:16 AM
It makes sense, Hops.

I'm wondering if a good T,  specializing in codependence, wouldn't be helpful for you and M to see together, and apart.   

It seems like you've hammered out how you feel, what your comfort levels are, and what you want more, and less of. 

M needs help learning how to tolerate his discomfort with your boundaires, which spirals into distress, which spills  into your in box.  It's a process.  he won't master it quickly, but I'm hoping he has support enough to move him through with economy of motion.  For his sake, and particularly yours.

Maybe a shared T, weekly, for while?  And he keeps his T, and you keep yours.

Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on September 07, 2019, 06:39:21 PM
I think you're right, Lighter...the issue really is codependence.

I might start by asking him to bring it up with his T...but I'll keep in mind the possibility of joint therapy too. It was a big step that he was receptive to his own T and he's still in early stages with that, so I'll give it some time.

Meanwhile, I can read up on it again myself just to strengthen my notions of how to react but not over-react.

M is so good for me, in so many ways, that I ain't throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Thanks for this helpful perspective. You're spot on.

Hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on September 08, 2019, 02:27:31 AM
Thanks, Lighter. I really appreciate that.

I think what happens when we have a disagreement or "off" phase is that M becomes overwhelmed with anxiety. And then, he begins bits of what seem to me like passive-aggression. I don't want to overreact, because 90% of the time he's not that way at all.

Example: If we've had a misunderstanding or difficult moment to work through, and I've retreated for a bit, he will absolutely flood me with messages about his overwhelming love for me, repeating and repeating and repeating and repeating it....until it doesn't feel like being loved so much as badgered.

I mean, when someone says "I love you" and your honest response in that moment is, "You've told me that..." something is amiss.

I've tried to explain it. Yesterday that came up (the frantic repetitions). I explained to him that sometimes hearing it too often wasn't helping. So as he began to email me early this morning, he began including at the end of his message: "Oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo...." It had that whiff of something I don't like reading in an email.

So I just wrote: What is Oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo?

He said, it's what I want to say but am not allowed to say so I find another way to say it.

I wrote back that to me, it seemed as though if someone says they're feeling uncomfortable and you invent a code that just lets you do what you want anyway, that's not progress. Something like that.

I don't want to make a mountain out of a molehill but I have pretty sensitive radar for when email is going toxic. I tried to explain it, then just asked that we talk later today and stop email for now. I hope he'll be able to understand.

(I got into horrible spaces in an email relationship years ago that made me forever cautious about relying on it for actual connection. I told him that we're okay, but since our connection had been tested recently, I think it's important to be clear and careful when we write each other.)

????? Does that make sense?

Hops

Makes sense to me, Hops, and it would drive me nuts as well (if that's any consolation!).  Do you think he doesn't hear what you're saying (and by that I mean, does he miss the meaning of 'I need some time to myself' and not take it to mean you mean complete radio silence) or does he know what you mean but just chooses to ignore it?  I'm just wondering if being very direct with him might help ("I need some time on my own.  I'm staying home till Wednesday, please don't contact me before then")  Or that might be what you're already doing and it's making no difference.  I'm just thinking that some people don't get nuance or subtlety (or layers - some people genuinely can't understand why saying "I love you" could be annoying) and need a much more clear, direct instruction.  You know him best, obviously, they're just thoughts popping into my head as I read your post (and I'm sure you've thought of all of them already).  You could just buy a very good book on co-dependence and whack him with it when he's being annoying :) Lol xx xx xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on September 08, 2019, 02:15:26 PM
The reason I thought joint T might be an option was..... you seem to be having trouble getting M to understand.

Then I remembered.... Hops can relate concepts better than anyone I know.  That's not the issue.

The issue is deeply help within M's childhood, and internal world.  Having a professional, who deals with codependence,  might get M where he's going more quickly. 

My own codependence can hardly stand M's fear, and panic.... I see that now.   

It's support, for both you and M, on this journey, and I so want both of you to find your comfortable groove. 

Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on September 17, 2019, 11:16:30 AM
Quote
Do you think he doesn't hear what you're saying (and by that I mean, does he miss the meaning of 'I need some time to myself' and not take it to mean you mean complete radio silence)
This is possible
or does he know what you mean but just chooses to ignore it? 
This is what I fear
I'm just wondering if being very direct with him might help ("I need some time on my own.  I'm staying home till Wednesday, please don't contact me before then")
This is exactly what I need to do next time
Some people genuinely can't understand why saying "I love you" could be annoying) and need a much more clear, direct instruction.
Thanks, Tupp. As ever, you have zoomed right into the actuality of it.

I think he batters me with verbal romantic pyrotechnics partly because the way his mind/lifelong studies/language intensives work, they are "real language" to him. (Like having flowery speeches and dramatic medieval poetry pumping in your brain all day long). And, partly--I don't really know whether this is true, to be fair-- perhaps he thinks it gives him "cover" when he's actually not connecting with me, but substituting word-fog. Or, because he doesn't empathize with what it might feel like to be on the receiving end of word-fog. (Empathy has become a concern.)

Recently I said to him when he was holding forth: I have trouble sometimes not feeling as though I'm listening to an authority figure who's dictating knowledge to me, and it makes me feel resistant. (I'm glad I did it that way, starting with my own non-angry feelings.) He said: I don't think I know any other way to talk to people; I've been doing this for over 50 years.

What's happening now is that we had another crisis. I've identified something helpful to me. We are SO compatible so much of the time that the times I've felt very upset with him have felt like big shocks and I've responded with massive anxiety and upset. But I recently identified for myself that there's a pattern--his over-the-top, bull-in-a-china-shop personality doesn't cause me distress EXCEPT when he's stomping over personal boundaries. The time's he's upset me most were:
--he walked into my relationship (lack of) with my D and began toying with "plans" to reach out to her without asking, consulting, requesting permission from me first.
--he presses into my personal time and space when I've retreated to rebalance myself (as above, though Tupp helped me realize how I need to fix it)
--when I was in the ER and had specifically stated I did not want him to come back to the cubicle until I was ready to see him, he manipulated his way and bulled in anyway (ignored my expressed personal wishes as a patient). Later, his support meant everything. But his ignoring my wishes at that time was very upsetting.
--A minor one, but it pushed my T's buttons as well (as "paternalistic' which, if one unpacks it, does involve a lot of personal-boundary-ignoring). He makes statements to my friends like "I want to thank you for all your care of Hops." It sounds completely benign and his conscious intention is...but I'm not his child. It's the "thank you" that felt uncomfortable. If he'd said, "I felt glad that Hops had so much support from a friend like you at that time" or something similar about how HE felt, it wouldn't have landed weird. But the way he put it, it came across as "Thank you for taking care of my woman..." which just doesn't sit right. It's not the best example of his paternalism (his encroachments with my D are strong ones).

This last one is the same theme--personal boundaries. But it's difficult. I don't want to discuss details, methods or plans. Y'all know he has a physical vulnerability that makes him very anxious and affects intimacy. I'm just rusty. NEITHER of our physical vulnerabilities concerns me. But something else does, so much that it's hit me quite hard lately that if it doesn't get better, it is a deal breaker.

He doesn't listen to me. He is either SO anxious to "get 'er done" (which I have compassion for) or, so indifferent to what my wishes are, that my statements including No, Don't, Not There, Not Like That...have to be repeated three times before he stops what he's doing. Last time this occurred I was so upset I got up and went home, and burst into tears the minute I walked in the door.

We've tried talking it through since, and I've talked about it in detail with my T, and this question has formed. When I say--BOUNDARY (and have to repeat it endlessly before he changes behavior)...is he modifying anything because he realizes inside himself "I don't want to do/say/touch that way because now I understand Hops doesn't like it" OR because "I will obey this stupid rule/request just because I'm desperate not to lose her, not because I respect or empathize with how she feels."

I'm not sure what the answer is, and I'm feeling sad and dark about the possibility it's the latter.

I'll keep trying. It is work, we both have baggage, etc. But the night I got up and left he had actually shushed me when I was trying to tell him how it felt, what I needed. "Shhhhhh! Shhhhh!" That set me off and my ignored discomfort (emotional as well as physical) sent me out the door.

Sigh. I still love him and want this relationship to work, but for me, this was a big moment. We've tried to talk it through since and I still feel he's not hearing me.

Another thing that came up with the T is his lack of asking me questions about myself and listening to the answers. He does talk about himself nonstop. I can get him to listen when it's very important or urgent, but it's an exhausting routine of "i need you to listen to this, please stop interrupting, please let me finish, I need to say this without being interrupted, please don't start touching me while I'm trying to get this out as it distracts me and I lose my thought..." etc etc. It's exhausting and I'm concerned that if he doesn't learn to (or care to) listen I will internally disengage.

Been feeling a bit of that lately within myself, and it's making me sad. I'll face it if this is a hole in the boat that can't be patched, but I sure am hoping it's repairable. This relationship has brought me back to life and given me excitement about the future. I am hoping it won't come to letting go, but I will survive if it does.

Thanks for listening,
Hops

PS I think a lot of his boundary-bashing is clueless entitlement (raised as a golden boy in a Latin culture) and a lot of it is anxiety. A ton. He's acknowledged how deeply anxious he is. And at heart, he is decent and kind and sentimental. It's just that in these moments, I don't care what the cause is...his behavior is impacting me and he seems oblivious (or my fear is, uninterested?) in its impact on me. That's where I'm beginning to fear that underneath all the massive volume of flowery words, there's no heart connection or real empathy. Dunno if that can be learned....
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on September 17, 2019, 03:36:11 PM
Awwwww Hops. Hugs dear.

I can imagine this feels scary. But maybe you can get a little stubborn and assertive, and say: this is what I require to feel comfortable. And release the outcome? You need to be able to explain and be understood - not just heard - about your worries with the word fog and real, felt connection and empathy. Yes, that means you might scare him too. Those are the risks involved with being open and vulnerable, which is what is needed for true intimacy.

I'm fumbling around with similar stuff too. And I have the same "word" problem as M does. LOL. Scared Buck into thinking I was mad at him last night. And I wasn't. Just trying to spit out coherently things swirling in my head and (terribly) aware that I'm also going through a big "anniversary" re: Mike at the same time this new stuff is going on. I wasn't very coherent or clear, until this morning. Seems that's the best time for me, in the day, to talk about important stuff. I think we sorted that out, but I cost Buck a good night's sleep. :(

This is turning into a beautiful fall out my way. Maybe you guys could benefit from a weekend change of scenery?
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on September 17, 2019, 05:41:26 PM
Thanks, Amber.
You're right, this will require speaking clearly and confidently about what I require to feel I can keep on progressing. Being listened to honestly, with evidence afterward that I've been heard. It is scary but unavoidable, for an honest and healthy connection to grow. We're mostly-healthy in most major areas, but not the relaxed, close emotional connection part. The anxiety is just too huge. His triggers mine or mine triggers his, or we're in a mutual firing squad at times. Not wanting to be, just the ways we're wired.

I can so imagine how the Mike anniversary is affecting you. I'm glad you honor and acknowledge and are tender about it.

The one-year anniversary of M's wife's death is tomorrow, and I'm glad we'll be together then. I wonder if some of his recent "spinning" has been influenced by that. He doesn't bring it up often but of course it's working in his unconscious. It's definitely not the only reason for his insensitivity, but makes sense that it's one factor that might be helpful for him to talk about if he'd like to.

He mostly likes to go on and on about how everything is wonderful, perfect, fabulous, astonishing, he can't imagine life without me, he wants me forever, let's hurry up and find a house and marry and it's all (for him)....URGENT.

I see urgent as code for anxious, so my heels are digging in to put on the brakes.

Appreciate your response and understanding mucho mucho!

Hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on September 17, 2019, 05:53:02 PM
OK, Hops....
I think M isn't in his adult right mind when he spins like that.  I think the little baby grasping for mama is in charge, and baby can't wait or feel OK until mama is back within his grasp or view,  kwim?

To figure that out,  I can't imagine doing it without a professional who can talk him through it when you've lost your patience, when he's in an appointment hearing HOW important this is and WHY he needs to do A B C and D... even if he's feeling anxious, so he can move OUT of that place, and into a better place.

This isn't just about you feeling better.  HE'LL feel so much better once he's done some work, and figured out new strategies, and pathways, IME. That's always the way.  Through the abyss, and all that.

There's my two cents.   There's no direct reasoning with baby, and you're definitely one to use reason, and seek understanding.

Baby needs to feel heard, understood and cared for before baby can consider listening and giving attention to ANYTHING besides his own selfish nurturing little baby needs, IME. 

I think it makes sense you were attracted to him, and him to you.  Now, how to make the most and best of that attraction, while limiting the hard sharp pointy spots. 

Love isn't enough.  There needs to be comfort, rest, and ease, along with action, affection, and cooperation.  Figuring all that out, without triggering abandonement issues, will be quite the trick.  If any one can do it, you certainly can.

Use your mommy voice to get him into a good codependene T who can work with you both.  He's a motivated man.  Steer him in a postiive direction, and hold your ground.

OK.  NOW that's my two cents over: )

Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on September 17, 2019, 05:59:38 PM
Aw Hops.  The thing that really impresses me about you is the way that you look at things so truthfully and honestly, even when you know doing so might break your heart.  I think just about everyone else I've ever known would be glossing over the things you've mentioned because the allure of marriage/comfortable retirement/companionship in later years is so strong (and understandably so) that a lot of people would just put up with the things you've mentioned.  I'm glad you feel able to acknowledge them to yourself and give yourself time to think and talk about them.

I think what's difficult to work out (with anyone) is whether the way they're behaving is being caused by something (and is therefore something that can be worked on) or if it's more just an aspect of their personality (which I think is much harder to shift).  I imagine he's often had to hold court, either at work or socially, and I think we can all find ourselves slipping into a certain kind of mask (flowery language and romantic ramblings).  I suppose the question is whether he can take the mask off and be a bit more 'real' with you.

The not being heard and his need to take over (including the not really paying attention during intimacy bit) might be the part of 'man' that he's always been expected to play - in charge, taking control, running the show.  I think for a long time society dictated that men did the doing and women followed along - in all areas of life.  Meeting a woman like you is probably/possibly quite a new thing for him - someone who thinks deeply, expresses herself clearly and goes home when she's not happy is quite possibly all new territory for him.

None of which helps - we can rationalise and intellectualise and analyse but ultimately we want our Hopsie to be happy, and heard, and respected.  The not listening during sex thing would have really triggered me and, like you, I would be wondering if he was just placating me until the next time.  The other situations you mentioned are all things that would have really bothered me.  Someone taking charge during a time of crisis when you're unable to cope is one thing, but taking charge when there's no need to would bother me.  As would saying thank you to people for looking after you :)  I can fully see that there would be women who would find that really sweet and who love the idea of having a man in charge and looking after them whilst being sweet to their friends.  And then there are women like Hops (and the rest of us) who don't like it, don't want it and don't need it.

It's very hard.  It's tough to figure out other people's motives and reasons, especially when they probably don't actually have that insight themselves.  I am hoping that it's resolveable/fixable/manageable.  But also glad that you're taking an eyes wide open approach.  I expect his wife's anniversary is having some sort of whoo haa with him at the moment, which again doesn't help but maybe it means things will calm down a bit.  Is he still visiting his own T? xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: CB123 on September 18, 2019, 12:15:19 AM
I had missed the Latin element somehow, Hops. Is he from Spain? Is English his second language? There can definitely be some communication issues, if so--especially if he is a really good English speaker, its easy to forget. Also there are deeply embedded cultural issues, especially male-female ones.

CB
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on September 18, 2019, 04:11:29 PM
Hi ((((CB))))--

First, Everybody--thank you so very much for these posts. I am feeling the need to sit with them a bit, and reflect more deeply after seeing M again this evening. I'm going to be listening, and speaking very honestly. And I feel as though I'll know more after that, to post more clearly in response, tomorrow.

CB, your question is easier! M looks totally Irish but he was born and raised in Costa Rica. His father is the Latin side, his mother the Irish-Italian side (I keep mixing them up, will advise). His family history is a huge mix of Spain, Italy, Cuba, Ireland, etc. He's a beautiful mutt.

But definitely influenced by Latin perceptions of manhood, so that was a good thing to mention. Intellectually, he's offset not all but a lot of that. His mind is pretty amazing, and I find him more open to new information than any other man my age I've met. I think he may have a genius IQ. Dunno if I mentioned it, but he was the youngest full professor in the US at one point. (I keep referring to his relentless ambition as though that was the reason but, in fact, he is also so brilliant that he deserved that status.) He's politically as liberal as I am, was a total rebel in his youth (in Berkeley!), so I'm not dealing with conventional macho. I think the paternalism and stuff comes partly from the Latin influence, yet more from the fact that his family, going way back, was very wealthy and influential. I think it's class that has given him some blind spots. He does try to see other perspectives but was in a gilded bubble of money and elitism his whole life. He doesn't know as much as I do about questions of power and privilege, because he never had to deal with them.

I can see him fighting it off, but the slipping comes when he walks into a tense situation or something that seems to need solving, and his sense of mastery ("master"fulness) rises. I don't even blame him for that. He has a portrait of his grandmother that's literally 3 feet high in his LR. The sense of legacy, the pressure of it (and unwittingly, the companion entitlement) goes waaaaaaaaay back.

I have to say I admire him for his reactions when he bumps into it and I can see it dawning in a given moment. I actually think if we can keep on, there might be a revelatory journey for him ahead. He keeps telling me how "astonishing" it all is with me, and I've reacted mostly to his exaggerated language, without realizing that he sincerely means this. He IS astonished! I'm off in the weeds examining psychological stuff, not astonished at all about seeing emotional things for what they are, and he's trying to deal with an upended world view.

I feel calmer about setting more boundaries, holding them in peace, and just letting him play out whatever reaction he wants to. Partly because I talked about it so much with my T, and partly because of so much understanding (and insights) I've received here....I do feel like investing some more patience and effort.

No conclusions yet, but I also want to be conscious of not throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

Will let y'all know tomorrow how it's going, and thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for being here.

Love,
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: CB123 on September 18, 2019, 05:30:27 PM
Hops,
All of a sudden, after you mentioned "Latin", I kinda got it
I had many many years with M and they were lovely years too, but the bump you are running up against is a bit familiar, and I finally decided (in my own case) that there truly are deep cultural differences that are not small things.
I decided he made a better boyfriend than husband-material, which is actually a truism--girlfriends get treated like gold.
I hope you can unravel it and get (both of you) comfortable, but just remember he could very well not have a neuroses, but simply is operating in a cultural way that is natural to him. If that's the case, it will be hard for him to be genuinely different because he has had an epiphany. Likely, he will have to simply not be himself.
I will say I loved the attentiveness, the generosity, the romance--also the great respect for, as you say, legacy. That was all incredibly appealing.  Not so much the paternalism and I never really got comfortable with it.

CB
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on September 18, 2019, 09:52:35 PM
I'm glad you're not feeling urgency around this, Hops.  Just put it out there, do what you can, and see what happens.  No sense filling yourself with what ifs and worst case scenarios. 

In fact, I think holding more curiosity, and fewer expectations is a positive resting position.  Just bc he's spinning, when he spins, doesn't mean you have to.  It also doesn't mean he'll spin like that forever. 

::nod::.

Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on September 19, 2019, 09:04:49 AM
Appalachian mountain men kinda have that same male-ego blindness, Hops. It helps a little if you can accept that as part of the charm, while still setting your boundaries and maintaining them. It's not a terrible thing (for me anyway) to have an opportunity to explore more of that traditional feminine side and see how it feels at this stage of my life... because Buck has the other stuff all figured out. It's not that he won't let me participate (I remind him a lot) - just that it's easy for him to decide, design & construct.

But what I wanted to point out to you is that the first anniversary IS difficult; and IMO, it needs to be acknowledged, honored, time taken out to appreciate what was and is no longer. It's not sufficient to completely bury those feelings in activity, words, or social interactions. IF it were a genuine relationship at any rate - some aren't and the "loss" is actually more of a "good riddance". Some people do very well for long chunks of their life in a superficial relationship. I'm not one of them. If nothing else, that one-year mark becomes a milestone to a chapter in M's personal history and still needs those moments of appreciation. It does start to get easier after that... and a lot of the emotional energy can get released to potentiality at that point.

I think time operates differently in the emotional world, if you want to entertain sci-fi explanations. But then, I have no way to validate that theory - it's just my personal experience.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on September 19, 2019, 09:51:59 PM
Thanks MUCH, everyone.
We had a relaxed evening after a goofy session alone in the pool wherein I gave him a standup (swimup) routine explaining a reality TV show, a really stupid one about romance, that I freely confess I enjoy. I was spoofing all the characters ("contesticles" as the men are called by one witty blogger), and miming stuff, and M got hysterical. Nothing makes me much happier than making someone laugh, so I'm tickled he finds me funny. It was a great way to relax before going back to his house for dinner.

I remember thinking, I'm just going to relax and be myself this evening, and I did enjoy it. He was calmer too. And served me another awesome meal, and we drank wine on the deck at sunset. He'd had a tough week at the U. and it was nice to chill out together.

Lighter, your scathing but truthful depiction of his infantile side really sobered me. It was reality and a kind of stem-level depiction of dependency. Not my favorite moments with him but I'm still drawing those boundaries. Pretty comfortably. I enjoyed a friend's company downtown this evening, and then my own later, just watching the golden light and happy people enjoying the amazing weather, and pooch. I sat over my dinner at a favorite cafe and just savored it all. M had mentioned what he was having for dinner and I'd had no expectation of us being together tonight, and later he still had a way of upping the ante, conveying anxiety--a later call to double check about the next two evenings, etc etc. The man does CLUTCH. He constantly makes the next plan and the next plan and the next, and I react by refusing to firm up all the details for casual get-togethers until the day of, because I feel hemmed in by having absolutely every encounter on the calendar. Formal things or things that include others, sure, we can book those. But on a day to day basis I want the freedom to retreat and he'll have to get used to it. I'm trying to work on just maintaining my own security/maturity and will find out over time if his improves. I liked what you said about spinning. Good term for it.

Amber, he's not acknowledging the anniversary much--I brought it up very tenderly. Or, he started deflecting it (reminding me he "had her blessing" to find someone) and I said it's not about me, I was referencing that you lost her a year ago. Then he said, there's not a day that goes by that I don't think of her. I feel glad when he mentions her and sometimes I hoist a toast to her in the clouds.

And I hear you about his more traditional masculinity. I'm a bit different though in that traditional feminine roles or rituals do tend to make me extremely uncomfortable. I'm feminine looking but inside, preoccupied with power systems, always have been. I'm happy you are comfortable with the yin and yang of you and Buck, because every couple is unique in that balance.

CB, I think he can be acting in a cultural way that feels natural to him AND also have anxiety neurosis! His own work in therapy, and time, are all that can be done about the anxiety. But the cultural stuff...he seems always open to talking about that fairly rationally (apart from a few knee-jerk things he struggles to change). His  brilliant intellect really does mean that he's not stuck in concrete, because when I challenge his worldview he genuinely loves that. He calls it "transgressive" "so smart" etc etc...so I think that's where a lot of our growth together takes place. We talk a lot about the world, and cultures, and ideas, and patterns in humanity, etc.
That's the biggest compatibility we have, being able to connect in the area of ideas.

Domestically, M is an insecure drama queen who is dying to formalize and finalize our life together, at which point I think he'll feel more secure. But I'm not jumping at it until I know he's into the growth and the work and won't go inert once wifey's in place. All these critical comments aside, the man really does love me, and after 25 years without, I'm grateful.

He was creating drama today of me going back to the medical center to get another cardiac monitor (same test needs repeating as results were ambiguous for afib). He kept saying, please call me and let me know how "the procedure" went. Are you okay? Etc. And I was just going to get a big electrodes patch thingy stuck on my chest. No procedure, no crisis, just a prosaic clinic visit to get that, nothing else. Exact same monitoring I did before. So I was NOT feeling anxious or in crisis mode or fragile, but he was going there. Felt a little irritated but just didn't buy in.

I told him earlier this week I'll be having a gum graft procedure coming up. He calls me back, intent on telling me I'll "have to have a driver that day because of anesthesia" and he had no idea. Just leaps to the most dramatic scenario in which he will be my essential white knight and rescuer. I think that's how he sees love.

Anyway, all this is just ins and outs of learning how to be with this man. I feel calm tonight, kind of in "don't sweat the small stuff" mode, and I think that's good.

He also gave me excellent eye contact, looking really vulnerable, and I said gently, "How 'bout that" and I sensed some new light had gone on. He's still worth it.

hugs and thanks again,
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on September 20, 2019, 10:32:16 AM
Hops I think you're doing great sorting all this out comfortably.

As for anniversaries, yeah... I have had an understanding with Mike too for years before he passed. But that doesn't mean even 4 years later, I don't have those sneaky guilt feelings creeping in sometimes or even some other types of - for me, surprising - strange reactions going on. The other widows I communicate with have mentioned the same things. Usually, acknowledging and having a bit of a "talking to" with oneself is all that's needed to straighten things out again.

Now I'm gonna go further nurse this weird sinus attack or head cold or whatever it is, that has me pretty much out of commission. Y'all just carry on.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on September 20, 2019, 01:07:17 PM
Yes I agree with Skep, it's great that you're keeping yourself steady when M wobbles and giving everything time, space, honest discussion, a bit of back and forth, it's great that things aren't making you run for the hills (as things seem to settle down a bit each time).  I'm glad you're back in a good place with things, Hops, and Skep, I hope you feel better soon! xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on September 20, 2019, 02:12:39 PM

I remember thinking, I'm just going to relax and be myself this evening, and I did enjoy it. He was calmer too. And served me another awesome meal, and we drank wine on the deck at sunset. He'd had a tough week at the U. and it was nice to chill out together.I'm so glad to read that, Hops: )

Lighter, your scathing but truthful depiction of his infantile side really sobered me. I'[m working on finding a balance with my tone, and words.  I was never listened to, in my family, so things sometimes come out with more "truth" than absolutely necessary. It was reality and a kind of stem-level depiction of dependency. I honestly feel that everyone has some stem-level behaviors.... shadow side....when our brains switch into survival mode.... it's a very helpless place to be, IME.  Not my favorite moments with him but I'm still drawing those boundaries. You have to do it to stay level, Hops.  You staying level is the first step to his finding his way, and learning how to get control of his emotions.... I think. Pretty comfortably. I enjoyed a friend's company downtown this evening, and then my own later, just watching the golden light and happy people enjoying the amazing weather, and pooch. I sat over my dinner at a favorite cafe and just savored it all. I had a lovely day downtown with youngest dd yesterday afternoon... a lot like that.  I smiled, and felt really really happy... and noticed it!  I'm glad you did too: )M had mentioned what he was having for dinner and I'd had no expectation of us being together tonight, and later he still had a way of upping the ante, conveying anxiety--a later call to double check about the next two evenings, etc etc. The man does CLUTCH. Somehow he's going to have to notice what he's doing, then learn to apply some countermeasures to calm himself.  You can't do it for him.  He constantly makes the next plan and the next plan and the next, and I react by refusing to firm up all the details for casual get-togethers until the day of, because I feel hemmed in by having absolutely encounter on the calendar. My mom was that way, not to that level, but it clashed with my desire to have some flexibility with my schedule months down the road, so I know what you mean.  I'm noticing my desire to advocate on his behalf... not sure what that's about, but I don't think giving in to his neediness is how to calm him down.  I think that would lead to escalating behaviors, truthfully.  Formal things or things that include others, sure, we can book those. But on a day to day basis I want the freedom to retreat and he'll have to get used to it. I'm trying to work on just maintaining my own security/maturity and will find out over time if his improves. I liked what you said about spinning. Good term for it. It makes my heart sad for M, bc he's suffering in those times, IMO.  And it's destructive in the relationship.  You might have to figure out how to live with it, or continue pressing him to look at it with a good T, IMO.  It's a lifelong learners club, unfortunately.  He's open to learning, or he's not is how I see it... at this moment anyway.   Sounds like you have more space around your discomfort with this side of him.   That certainly bodes well for the relationship: )

I do echo your caution over marrying him, without SEEING a definitive path to true change, then ending up the wifey with him dropping the T, and settling right back into old patterns with zero motivation to change.  You have to gently guide him on that journey, NOW, IMO.  He certainly seems motivated to please you.  I just hope he doesn't end up resenting you for it down the road.
 That's one reason I want the T to take the lead, and say the harder things so you don't have to.
 You shouldn't have to, Hops.



hugs and thanks again,
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on September 20, 2019, 04:15:10 PM
Thanks, guys, so much.

Lighter, thanks for the encouragement. I agree with your insights. Only caveat is, I have no sense that I control what M discusses or takes up with his T. I agree with you what would be good for him to do there, but it's his independent, private therapy, so I keep a respectful difference. (If anybody tried telling me what I "should" discuss with my T that would be a boundary bash.) He'll share what he wants to but I don't expect access. That said, I'm aware that a few things he's said voluntarily about his T make me feel very good about his T! I just think his T is not a service provider to ME, just to M. They'll find their way. I can "gently guide" but truly do not want to set myself up as his teacher, leader or instructor. I think that's toxic to a relationship of equals, as tempting as it is for someone soaked in therapy for years.

What I could indicate some day if needed is, M--I need to know that you are committed to staying in therapy. I think I'd be comfortable saying that, but not setting M's specific goals for him. He has to set his own. I do see him as open to learning and change, but agree with your caution about marriage before I'm sure he's doing this for himself too, not just to keep me. I actually think he sees the benefits, but time will tell.

I'll certainly keep on mentioning anxiety, and my own observations on what I think it looks like in his behavior with me.

Thanks, Tupp -- I'm glad I'm not running, too. It's a relief as things resettle, and each time I freak out, it seems to take less time for us to restore love and equilibrium. If those prevail over time (it's only been 8 months together, and despite M's sense of urgency--we could dieeeee, any minute!--I own my own clock and evaluate my own risk tolerance). For a lifetime decision like that, I'll take whatever time I need and he'll adapt to that, or not. (I think he will.) I don't want to take tooooo long, but more confidence will play out.

He knows that I'm not moving in together or marrying before the house decision is clear. He's putting up both his properties in Costa Rica for sale, not just the condo. I've noticed that news and it's connected to his commitment to getting us a house here without delay when the right one appears. (So far, nothing on the cool old one. We're going to go find out who was the lawyer on the sisters' trust so we can send a polite inquiry there, wondering if it's genuinely available or if s/he can get a message to them since we've had no response. There may be family ambivalence.)

Amber, you're so right that anniversary reactions are real. And I think M is rushing that into the "done" box too fast, just as he tends to rush everything. Doesn't matter. And her "blessing" was nice in that it freed him to date, but really doesn't have much to do with how grief behaves. He'll just have to experience that and figure it out for himself, I think. Not my job to guide/direct that either.

BIG grateful hugs to everyone! I mean, watch out I don't crack your ribs!!

love
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on September 20, 2019, 09:00:50 PM
::smacking forehead::.

Sorry.  I forgot you aren't thinking about a shared T.  I lost my mind, and forgot.

Lighter





.


Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: CB123 on September 20, 2019, 10:17:49 PM
Hops,
Wow, are we tracking together. I'm having gum surgery in a couple weeks too. This is some inflammation that has to be treated and I have taken a long time getting comfortable with the dentist who will do the work (this is #3) but I'm finally reassured and okay. Have to take a "sick" day at the end of the move (sigh) to do it, so it just feels like a lot of stuff all at once.

I really get everything you are saying about your beau. I think this kind of stuff (or something similar) happens in most relationships, and there's no way around dealing with it. The conclusion I came to is that equal power in a romantic relationship is the best solution--and that sounds terrible, but maybe you get what I'm talking about. If you are always free to set your own boundaries and to take the time you want to get away, and there is no way that you are forced to do differently because of an imbalance of power, I think you can just deal with the "clutchiness" as an inconvenience or an occasional aggravation.

In my case, the imbalance of power in my marriage was of course, that he was the money-earner, and I had nothing. That's a big imbalance. Of course having small children was too.  With M, even though I worked with him, I still had available resources that I didnt HAVE to work with him to be okay. I think that helped a whole lot.

I would have to think about whether money is the only equalizer. I'm thinking not, but my brain is tired so I would have to think about that.

I still remember when you recommended the book A Fine Romance--that was a life changer for me, and I have recommended it to other people, including a couple of kids. It was so well thought out, and so wise.

I'm so glad you are having some FUN Hops. I can just picture your delight when you got him laughing.

CB


Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on September 20, 2019, 10:35:49 PM
No worries, Lighter!

And...ugh.

This evening began with him asking me repeatedly if I wanted to learn how to cook his special black beans tomorrow. I said no thanks. He brought it up again and again and again and I finally yelled at him. First time ever. I just blew...M, what is wrong with you! I said no I don't want to!

All downhill from there. Dinner was nice-ish but the tension kept burbling up again. Best word I can think of is perseverate. He does that. Maybe it's a brain or ADHD thing. I have no idea but it bugs the hell out of me.

I tried to explain how I was trying NOT to feel anxiety over getting the monitor put back on, and that his repeated messages about "call me after The Procedure" and "be sure to let me know how it goes with the monitor appointment" and "I'm calling you about that this evening even though you've said you'll have nothing to report." He said it was all about his empathy, knowing I'd been scared about the stroke. I DID tell him that in general, having had a stroke had added concerns to my life. But I had also specifically declined ABOUT THREE TIMES to "report on the appointment" in which I wasn't seeing a doctor, just having the lab tech stick a new (same model) patch/recording pendant on my chest. It didn't merit his Oh this is a crisis! drama and that drama increased my stress and made his urgency to involve himself (boundary issue) MY problem. I just felt he was offloading his anxiety onto me, and it actually increased my stress over the appointment, when I'd been quite calm about it beforehand.

Maybe he just wasn't understanding what I meant. The gulf is that when he repeats and repeats and repeats I feel badgered. And he acts very frantic just saying hello or going to the car with the dog or whatever, it's always a clown-car thing, and it's not fun.

Afterward, he said as he brought me home, and it felt like a test or challenge..."Do I have your permission to escort you to your door?" I said no thanks, I don't feel like being escorted. (My door is 20 feet from the car.) And he said, That means I'm making an offer and you are refusing it. I said, No, I just answered simply, No thanks I don't feel like being escorted. And he persisted...it means you are refusing my gesture. And I said, I'm just saying the truth. And it was STUPID. But I refused not to say my truthful answer to his question. He offered, I politely declined. I guess he wants me to go through symbolic gestures of agreement even when I don't agree? Not able to do that. (Is it SUBMISSION he wants from me? Fat chance.)

Then he said, which he's said before, This means you are resistant. What the f*** does THAT mean? He seems to want to interpret and define what I think and feel in negative ways right now, and I'm not interested in hanging about to listen to it. And to cap it off, as we sat in the car as I dug for my keys, he brought it up AGAIN: "Oh, I'll be preparing the beans tomorrow if you'd like to come over and learn how to do it...."

I couldn't believe it. I just said, why would you do that? Why bring up the same issue we squabbled about at the beginning of this evening? Why repeat it again? He just stared ahead. I asked, it is a way of expressing some kind of anger, indirectly? He said no, frustration.

Whatever. It triggered my upset all over again. Felt really fed up. So I said I don't want to connect tomorrow, I need a day of radio silence [thanks, Tupp--perfect term]without voicemails or calls or emails. And I'll look forward to our plan to get together on Sunday. (We're going to his departmental picnic.)

So that's where we are right now. He literally cannot take in the information I give him when I'm saying No or ask him to stop repeating and repeating and repeating something I've already said No to. I am going to have to be MUCH more direct, and it's not fun. It clearly turns into some kind of stupid struggle over what love is and what the "rules" are...and he gets snide and judgey and analyses me negatively and I'm not having fun. Or I didn't tonight (for really the first time).

I guess I'm analysing him negatively too. I'll watch for that. I'm not sure he does know what empathy is (or he's so defensive he can't hear me). The man cannot take a hint, so I'll have to be more blunt. And then he'll get all hurt and passive-aggressive, is my guess. We'll see.

Sigh. Hope this is just "first fight" syndrome and not a sign of deterioration to come. It felt awful. I'm sick about it. I'm seeing a side of him that really concerns me and he absolutely can't or won't listen calmly and try to understand. He throws up defensive shields of word-snow that are nearly impenetrable.

At one point, he started saying You always... and I said, always and never accusations always put the listener on the defensive. He said no no, these are just neutral "filler" words, just conversational. And if you studied linguistics, you'd understand this... And I said, they're not neutral at all, etc. And I'm NOT studying linguistics.

God. I hate arguing. I dunno. I think it is time for couples therapy, maybe. Because if he really can't understand me or deal with his knee-jerk emotional-circuit-blowing I think we're in trouble.

I think I need to go back to work and end the pleasant honeymoon fantasies about life being all sorted out now. This does NOT feel "sorted out." Maybe it's a normal dating-crisis that couples experience as major commitments loom (I think Judith Sills referred to that pattern in A Fine Romance, CB...). I'll have to re-read it.

Thanks for listening to me vent, friends. Sorry about the hissy fit. Maybe I just can't handle a relationship after so long on my own.

love
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on September 21, 2019, 02:44:00 AM
Hopsie, I think you most definitely can handle a relationship after all your years alone :)  But maybe it's too soon for M?  Just at the first anniversary so his wife had only passed a very short time before you met.  Huge amount of grief and processing for him to get through - the joy of a new relationship distracts from that.  But also brings additional stresses whilst getting to know someone, plus stressful incidents like your health situation, selling houses and so on, as well as that big trip you had together.  He's had a huge amount happen in a very short space of time (not least going into therapy, which can bring up all sorts of resistance and old issues as well).  All of the things you describe about him (that annoy you) all sound anxiety and stress based to me.  Maybe he's trying to do too much too soon and needs some time alone to centre himself as a single man, a widow, a retiree before he gets in to another serious relationship?  Could be he needs to do a lot more of what you're doing  - alone time, thinking time, breathing space?  I don't know how you'd work that practically?  But I think it is more about what he needs to do, rather than what you need to do, if that makes sense? (I'm not suggesting you end it, by the way.  But perhaps the brakes need to be put on to give the whirlwind time to settle?) xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on September 21, 2019, 08:21:01 AM
Oh Hops.... I swear it might be the phase of the moon or something. I understand your reactions (I think) and I know I'd find them annoying (and a little confusing) too. Just breathe. Take your day off and do Hops' things.

Only one thing in your narrative jumped out at me. Words and linguistics and the specific word "resistant". I'll be blunt; resistant sounded like a softer version of rejection. As if he was feeling you were rejecting his attempts at connection with you - through cooking and his old world manners - with your boundary, in fact and therefore he was pressing that issue with the expected anxiety. I might just be reading into that too much... but I thought I heard that.

And that gives me blips on the radar. Nothing huge and threatening... just something to watch out for. Sometimes I wonder if it's possible to adopt the language and analysis of therapy so much, and looking at relationships through that lens, that one can forget that the rest of the world doesn't.

I think is just a tiff Hops. Part of the transition/changes you're both making in becoming an "us". But I hear just a few worrisome things that mean the substance - M not liking or respecting your boundary and taking it the wrong way - could be a recurring situation. Let the dust settle, stay quiet a day, and then explore how it looks in hindsight.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on September 21, 2019, 03:26:56 PM
CB, I'm your sister in gum surgery....so sorry you've got that coming up! But I'm glad you have found a practitioner to trust. So much NOT fun, but I'll be thinking of you. Hope whatever needs fixing is wonderfully fixed. (I'll have two...one to snip the frenulum and a later likely graft. Ugh.)

And thank you for bringing up power imbalance. And money. I think it's important for me to start getting a few new customers for my companion gig. I had let it slide after the gentleman died, and then the lady broke her hip, and then my third one began needing PT style help I don't/can't do. And then M arrived in my life, paying for every meal, and the focus shifted to just letting myself enjoy it because of his constant assurances that it was irrelevant, he delights in paying for everything, etc.

The concern would be -- how would that imbalance get expressed during marriage if we're not getting along? I can survive on social security, but there's zero slack. I used some of my savings for the part of our trip that I took on my own, to Oslo. Glad I did, but the level has dropped below a good emergency-savings threshold. So, I can sell my redundant old car (which I've kept more for emotional than practical reasons) and/or, go back to work now. Or both.

I think doing this would help me look at M and me with more calm, as it will reinforce that I can continue to cope with life independently. For as long as I can anyway. Don't WANT to be on my own, but as you say, it makes all the difference to know that one can. Didn't want to work at 70 but millions of people have to.

I have a worry that M would take this personally and it might contribute to us becoming more alienated, though, so I'll have to think about it. Seems to me I would have to lie to him and say it was because I miss the oldsters, that's why. And that would not be true. In occasional moments I've missed them, because I do love the very old, but I did not miss the scheduling and expectations, etc. I still visit a few of the very-elder friends I made and do enjoy that. So, need to ponder more.

Amber, thank you. I agree it was just a tiff but also share your concern about the rumbling thought that perhaps M disregarding my boundaries and then resenting me if I maintain them...is a worry. Seems to me that we are in very different places about communication, owning one's feelings and not reverting to passive-aggressive stuff. (Although I just read something that suggests I'm doing that too...one of the questions was, Do you avoid someone you're upset with? Truth is, I do. I feel I absolutely have to withdraw from him at times in order to calm myself. And maybe that's passive-aggression. Worth thinking about.)

Tupp, that perspective on M maybe not being ready himself really stopped me in my tracks. That was compassionate to where he is and really insightful. He has showered me with so much certainty about his commitment and determination about his feelings for me, our perfect fit forever, how absolutely positive he is...that it never occurred to me that in an unconscious way, he might be dealing with his own uncertainties by trying to drown them out. Huh. That's a really helpful thought. He really is spinning (great term, Lighter) and maybe that's one thing that's happening. He's using his intense verbal power to create such clouds of words and hyperbole that he can't get enough stillness in his head to allow any doubt, any frustration, and especially any uncertainty, to come through. It would demand he sit with the possibility of loss again. And that completely freaks him out.

Whew, whew, and I am sooooooooooo lucky y'all are here and willing to engage with this blow-by-blow stuff as I try to figure out whether M and I can navigate this relationship to a positive place.

I think he was also affected by the anniversary of his wife's death and reacting to it all over the place, while perhaps not realizing that's what he was doing. (He gets hyper-rational and all professor-superior when he's feeling something, and pronounces/declares/explains/holds forth about what is happening...to a degree that I think blinds him to some things. Certainly to tuning in with awareness and sensitivity to my feelings. He's struggling with his own and has his defensive tools, which come from all those years in authority.)

Ah well. I guess it's inevitable that relationships go through these painful lessons and adjustments, and the truth is, I can't yet see the result in clear focus. It'll take time and work. It's worth trying.

I still love the man. Still have hope for a happy future with him.

Hugs
Hops

 
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: CB123 on September 22, 2019, 10:37:38 AM
Hops,
I think you are wise to be thinking through all that. I know as well as anyone how tempting it is to relax into being cared for when it has been so long making it alone.

When I married those long years ago, I had been working for 10 years at minimum wage jobs because I had not finished my education. I was tired and , more than that, uninspired by the jobs I held and as soon as we got married, my husband suggested that I quit work because we certainly didnt need the income (I never knew how much money he had--just that he had enough where even he didnt have to work for a good 10 years of our marriage as he finished school and set up practice).

I was so relieved at being rescued from that existence--tiny apartment with little resources, dead end jobs with hours on my feet and just enough to pay the bills--that I jumped at the chance to be taken care of. One thing led to another, and then there were babies and day to day life. I look back and see that the gradual dependence on his generosity was not good for me and despite the earlier benevolence, became less so over time.

So here I am in a tiny apartment working long hours on my feet! Oh well. I have a better perspective now, and also some experience with having a whole lot more, and I still prefer this.

The red flag I see as you think out loud, is that you will have to "come up with a reason" for why you are wanting to go back to work and that you are concerned that it will alienate him if you do. Whether that would happen or not, there is something in your relationship with him that makes you think its likely, and your self-preservation is already trying to figure out how to protect yourself by making up an acceptable story about your thinking. The reason that worries me is that it is a warning light that there is already an imbalance developing and you already feel in the position of having to protect yourself.

That's worth looking at closely.

I sure get where you are, and I understand that you can really love someone and love their company, and still be kicking around ideas in the back of your head about how to make things work, knowing that being upfront is not an option.  I can tell you are getting to the bottom of some things in your own mind. I'm rooting for you!!

Well, coffee cup is empty, so back to the packing boxes!

Love, CB
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on September 22, 2019, 12:30:01 PM
Hops,

The red flag I see as you think out loud, is that you will have to "come up with a reason" for why you are wanting to go back to work and that you are concerned that it will alienate him if you do. Whether that would happen or not, there is something in your relationship with him that makes you think its likely, and your self-preservation is already trying to figure out how to protect yourself by making up an acceptable story about your thinking. The reason that worrieHops, CB

Hops, do you feel as though you've given up some of your freedom, at this point?
 The freedom to work as you wish, to come and go as you wish, to make plans sans M, as you wish?

Remember, my mama said.... "once you give up your freedom, you never get it back."  I think there's a lot of truth to that, and my mother was very strong in her relationship with her very strong husband.  He was wealthy when she met him, and wanted things his way.  When she stood up to him, he'd buck, then end up giggling, bc he adored her strength as much as he adored her soft, nurturing side.  The part of her that stood her ground was a delight to him, even though she had to put up with the discomfort of having him challenge her, and she did it with the certainty that her time, her space, her needs, wishes and desires were every bit as important as his. 

Just a story, Hops. Not even sure it applies.

Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on September 23, 2019, 11:12:28 AM
Thanks, all of you, so much.

CB, I get it, all the way. I think having had a stroke in June also affects my practical thinking. Am I tolerating more poor communication (over boundaries, including accepting a No) with M because I feel more fear about aging alone than I would if it'd been a decade or two back? It won't hurt me to go back to work. And now that I think about it, I doubt I'd even need to explain it to M. Just tell him, I decided to go back to work for a while, since going to Norway. Or, decided to sell my old car. (It's not worth much, I just love it and it's good in the winter.) The CRV is 17 years old with 150K miles and the "new" one is 11 with 50K! The difference is clear...only sensible to keep the Prius (was a miracle to get it cheap) and let go of the CRV. Decision made. At the moment the CRV is dead in the driveway since I haven't driven it enough to keep the battery happy. All mechanicals in it are great, maintenance kept up, tires are new. I'd accept getting snowed in, which I generally enjoy anyway.

Amber, this is the kernel of everything that stresses me with M:
Quote
I hear just a few worrisome things that mean the substance - M not liking or respecting your boundary and taking it the wrong way - could be a recurring situation.
It's both ironic and a relief that he's seeing his T today and I'm seeing mine, too.

Lighter, thanks for asking whether I've given up this:
Quote
The freedom to work as you wish, to come and go as you wish, to make plans sans M, as you wish?
I really haven't. And I won't/can't, etc.
I don't have concern that M would try to tell me what to do, where to go, who to see, time on my own. (I have a small amount of fear over how he'd handle "taking charge" of me if I were old and helpless, another stroke, for example.) He's not controlling in that he just accepts whatever I tell him I'm doing. If/when he's feeling insecure, he'll whiiiiiine "I haven't seen you in two daaaaaays!" as though it's pure misery. But he never indicates that he feels he is entitled to stop me from using my own time in my own way. I wouldn't let him anyway.

I think my biggest issue with him is simply the verbal stuff....I say No thanks and he perserverates and when he repeats and repeats and repeats something to get his way I reach a point where I think my head will explode. Lately, when he does this, it's begun to affect my feelings for him.

Last night, after his departmental picnic (which I greatly enjoyed, beautiful place near the mountains, wonderful conversations) we talked a lot on the ride home. I told him flat out that our previous struggle for intimacy when I kept saying No, don't do that and he persisted was actually traumatic for me, and that when I'd told him so, he'd switched the topic instantly to how HE felt. And I get it, that it was upsetting to him for different reasons, but that I'd never felt heard about it and that the way it went down since, with the stupid argument over him asking me to come over yesterday to watch him make beans....had added together to give me a serious doubt about our future that I hadn't had before. He sobered right up and said we need to set a time to seriously talk through all this. I asked him if he knew was gaslighting was, and he didn't, and when I explained it, he said that is NOT me, that sounds malicious and mean and cruel and I'm upset that you'd make that comparison. (It's true, he's not mean.)

My overall concern is that getting through to him, through whatever it is that prevents him from taking in the information when I set a boundary or say NO, is so exhausting and stressful. I repeated that one of the biggest issues for me is that when I say No, he doesn't accept it, but keeps pounding and pounding on what he wants. I had a feeling that he heard me. I think he was shocked that I was now saying, No, I'm not certain about marriage now. That got through to him, I think.

(He was repeatedly bringing up marriage yesterday, house buying, the whole original plan. So on some level he knows this is critical. And that's good.)

He still doesn't get the difference between an I-message and a You-message (I know, Amber, this is probably seeing things through the psychobabble filter). He likes to say: I feel that YOU... and merrily goes about analysing me, and never analyses himself.

Thank god for therapy, is all I can say. On we go. He's picking me up at noon because I lost the fob to the Prius in the grass out at the picnic. I'll take the backup one over there today to retrieve my car.

Later this afternoon the young Spanish poet is coming by with his lovely wife and we'll drink wine and brainstorm some ideas for releasing his new book locally. I have a couple outlets in mind that have nothing to do with the University.

Hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on September 24, 2019, 03:58:09 AM
Just a very quick thing, Hops, that occurred to me reading your last post, and it's of a practical nature - when you tell M "No thanks" do you or are you able to offer an alternative instead?  Just wondering, with my autistic hat on - I know that my son (and myself, to a certain extent) always needs 'something' - an empty space in front of him, literally or metaphorically, is too much to cope with and causes anxiety.  It just popped out at me as you mention M's repeated questioning if you don't want to do something.  I'm just wondering if he can't cope without a Plan B - and if you being able to suggest one might take his anxious response away?

You may already be doing this, and, of course, he might just not like to take no for an answer :)  But it might be something worth trying to see if it helps? xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on September 24, 2019, 09:15:44 AM
Quote
He still doesn't get the difference between an I-message and a You-message (I know, Amber, this is probably seeing things through the psychobabble filter). He likes to say: I feel that YOU... and merrily goes about analysing me, and never analyses himself.

If so, it's important psychobabble Hops. Hol got back Sunday. Steve went to work; John's off on the next leg of his journey... and so she's already started prescribing the things I MUST do without understanding that I don't tell HER "you need to do that" without expecting her to resist or do it when she wants to. Of her own volition, she's ordered a book that includes enmeshment, co-dependence, etc. She's even micro-analyzing what I've shared with her about Buck and now "worrying" that I'm falling into the same traps as previous relationships. SIGH. I've told her I don't need a minder, a trainer, or a mom. It's not sinking in. There is merit in her suggestions, but I still have a strong reflex to resist being TOLD to do anything. (kinda a co-dependence over reaction, I think)

The other thing I thought of, is maybe you can explain to M - that "no" isn't a once & for all time "no". It's just "no, not now". Maybe that would stop his spin up into anxiety in it's tracks. Also, maybe discuss with your T... when it's helpful, to put aside your "no" and please him in that instance... and when you need to say "no" because it's in your best interests; it's protective of you. Both participants in a relationship need to sometimes give up our "I don't really want to, feel comfortable, whatever doing that even though I can see it's important to you". But hear me - that HAS to be a 2 way street for it to work. (Without score keeping)

I'm struggling in the dark right along with ya Hops. The message Hol keeps sending is there's something wrong with the way I am and she knows exactly how to make me better - and doesn't seem to acknowledge that that may not BE ME. Buck, thankfully, isn't making any noises like that at all. He seems to get a real enjoyment out of my autonomy and watching me do things in my fashion. She's kinda expanding what she sees about me, in recent statements teasing me about being "upper management" around here. LOL. There is hope; just have to work through it.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on September 24, 2019, 11:35:03 AM
(((((((Amber)))) Responded about Hol over on Farm Life. Meanwhile, I'm grateful you brought up my struggle with M not accepting a NO. (Not before an endless campaign of ignoring it and/or verbally pounding at me over and over about it, until the NO becomes overwhelming.)

I think in many smaller matters I have intentionally turned my No into a Why Not or Yes. Yes, I'd like to please him. He turns almost every effort I make to give to him into his issue of no no no, I am the one who provides, serves, is generous and sacrificial. I had to talk to him about receiving...how if he deflects every gesture I try to make to express love and gratitude to him, that hurt. He worked on it. Doing the surprise birthday dinner for him was a big one. But even there, he turned to me and said, I'd be happy to pay for this...one look and he gave it up, but his compulsion was still there to take away that opportunity from me. HE is the Giver, the Big Person, the Magnanimous Papa figure. It's not all ego, a lot of it is how he was raised.

Recently, I took my biggest No, contemplated loving him and wanting to bring him happiness, and flipped it into a profound Yes. He wound up kind of letting loose of my gift in a way that puzzled me, but it was still a happy thing to do and share.

On the other hand, I think my boundaries are too rigid in some ways. My T has said to me several times that she feels I am not over-reacting to his pressure. But she only hears my narrative, not his.

I identified for M recently that the pattern I worry most about is that although I delight in him as a companion (we are crazily compatible talking, dining, traveling, bantering, exploring, laughing, socializing with others) ... where I have the most trouble is when I believe he is crossing personal boundaries into my personal autonomy. I may be over-threatened by these in others' eyes, but here they are:

--My Family. He trespassed into my relationship with my D by sending her a message behind my back about my feelings, and then by talking about "his plan" to contact and help her, that he would "let me know" when he has decided "what he intends to do." I was in fury until he grasped that he is not to do ANYTHING in her direction unless he explicitly ASKS ME about it first. She is my child, not his. For now, we've dropped that discussion. He was fantasizing a paternal relationship with her, "the daughter I never had" that was both kind and clueless (her purpose in the world is not to make him feel more saintly). He understands nothing at all about her mental illness, my loss and how it feels and kept poking at it, bringing it up over and over and over because it made HIM so sad--and thus making me re-experience an anguishing loss I'd grieved as much as I could without dying. (Repetition, repetition....). He FINALLY realized how grave this was for me, and dropped it. Though there've been a few very subtle gestures about her lately. (I think he resents me having drawn such a firm boundary there.)

--My Health. He directly ignored an explicit request my friend conveyed (nicely) for me when I was in the ER, that I did not want him to come back yet into the area where I was being treated. He told my friend, "Oh she's confused. I have to be there, I'll 'take the heat':... ) and persuaded her to let him take over. When I asked later, did she convey my request that you NOT come back? He said yes. I asked, so why did you? He said, "My feelings compelled me to." So the wishes of the stressed and overwhelmed patient, me, were irrelevant because his feelings were strong. It was NOT comforting having him in the cubicle; it added to my stress while I was in the middle of a stroke and focusing on responding to the providers. The next day I was (and remain) so grateful to have him there and very moved by his overall support (though he kept interrupting my conversation with my doctors). But the night before, he did not care about my privacy, my vulnerability, my humiliation (I was having medication not only injected but stuffed up my ass and was NOT ready to share that moment with a boyfriend I hadn't been intimate with) or my CHOICE. He found his choice romantic. I found it disrespectful and, honestly, selfish. (So I hesitate to trust him with health issues. A recent example, his insistent drama about the monitor, magnifying HIS sense of crisis into a routine appointment I was managing calmlly. Another: The other night I shared something about how ADD affects my time management and he responded dismissively, "Oh, I don't think you have ADD. You may have gotten some diagnosis, but I don't perceive it." And "Somebody wanted to put one of my sons on ADD meds!" I don't even take Rx. I was 60 when diagnosed, and immensely relieved by it. But what got to me was his entitlement to dismiss it and attitude of superiority about his knowledge. So that's another health thing I don't feel safe sharing about.)

--My Friendships. I had a tiff with a friend, coincidentally also a professor, and shared it with him because it was sad. It was just a friend story. He said, Oh I'll take care of this because as a professor I can reach out to her with some invitation because we're technically colleagues. I didn't want him to do this. I wasn't looking for him to take over and issue some invitation. I am capable of resolving or making decisions around my personal friendships myself, and didn't need or want his involvement, which would've made the whole delicate dialogue with her much more difficult. (So I regretted confiding in him about something I'd ordinarily love to share with a partner. By the way, she and I are okay again.) After the bday party he made a big deal of writing my friends to thank them for coming (which was very nice, and appropriate) and at the same time declare to them that he was extremely grateful and wanted to thank them for being good friends for me (which struck them as odd). They've been my personal friends for decades, barely know him, and frankly don't need my boyfriend to praise them for caring about me. It's...paternalistic. Well meant, but still.

--My Time. When I periodically need to retreat to recharge (as an "introverted extrovert") he emails, calls, sends intense messages about how he needs to drop off food gifts even after I politely decline ("But it's fresh! You don't even have to answer the door!") etc, etc. It ensures that I keep thinking about him, I'm guessing. I'm probably thinking about him anyway, but don't need my sanctuary time structured around his desperation to not sense the umbilical cord stretch. (So now, thanks to Tupp, I have to spell out--radio silence.)

--My History. I shared with him in France the story of a very painful hurt I'd experienced with my second husband. (Which I'd grieved, recovered from, and basically put away...I rarely think of him.) M brought it up about TEN TIMES since because it made HIM so sad. I finally explained that I appreciated how compassionate he was about that experience, but that it was many many years ago, that I had healed from it and moved on, and that I'd really appreciate it, now that he understood it, if he would not bring it up again. "I promise. I'll never mention it again," says M, as he often does. He brought it up again yesterday. (This is what I mean about repeat, repeat, repeat.) He had a pretext. Doesn't matter. It makes me not trust his "I promise." He is appalled, "You've said you don't TRUST me! My intentions are always pure and good! Because I love you so DEEPLY.") Oy.

--My Body. In the most vulnerable of situations, he persisted in a way of touching that was uncomfortable and distressing to me. I said No over and over and he ignored it. Shhhhh! Shhhhh! I left and burst into tears when I got home. I had and have much compassion for why it's an emergency to him and in some degree, how his own anxiety and goal focus overwhelm him. But despite compassion, I can't abandon my own self, my own body, to his agenda without knowing that if I say Yes, or No, in the moment I will be heard. (Not after he's repeated and repeated whatever he wants....over my objections.) He apologized profusely and sincerely by email, but also came back when I tried to talk about it in person. "I wept too" and more, which pretty much shut me down. The other day I told him I didn't feel heard and that experience was still unresolved for me. He said he wanted to listen and we should take time to sit down and he would. I'm doubtful but hopeful. For me, it's a traumatic memory, if that word isn't too extreme. So all that's on hold and I'm reluctant to re-engage at that level. Not without help.

Looking for some good news? Talking with my T, I asked her to recommend couples counselors to interview. She said it wasn't if we needed it, but when, and it's time, and suggested names. Happily, he's agreed and is also asking his T for suggestions. We'll see one from each list to find one we both like, etc. I had told him recently, when he asked again about marriage (repeat repeat) that I honestly now have doubt I didn't have before. So he's taking it very seriously. That's good. A relief.

He's never wavered about how much he loves me and wants me as his lifetime companion and no one else will do and I'm the love of his life. I believe his feelings are real; it's only some behaviors that get to me. He says if I know his intention is good (I do) that nothing else should matter (I don't agree, and told him even when there is real love, sometimes relationships still don't work.) I'm wavering now, but I do still love him, and I'll be very sad if it doesn't work out. However, I am also clear that my life would continue. It would be a lot harder, and having a stroke I'd be helpless and without a direct advocate (my friends are great but not THAT available), and I won't pretend that security isn't one of my motivations. I'll be 70 this spring. Having him to love and live with and care for going forward I believe would be a happier life for me than continuing alone. Winter is coming, literally and metaphorically.

And....for most of the hours we've been together, he's been a delightful companion. I believe we will both do our sincere best in the counseling, and that the hope lies there. Maybe all the baggage two people this age are dragging is just a little complicated. And at heart, he is an ethical person, and has kind intentions. We're also just beginning to take a look at how some things I find smothering are actually cultural differences, as CB referenced...in how he shows love. That's helpful. Dunno if it'll save us but it reduces my worry, to see some of his behavior in a less personal context.

Meanwhile, we're off to California later next month to "meet the kids" and I'm truly looking forward to it.

Thanks for listening to all that, all-a y'all.

love
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on September 24, 2019, 12:47:23 PM
Aw, Hopsie, it is very difficult.  All the things you mention would drive me nuts so I don't think you're over reacting.  Meltdowns over leaving the tube off the toothpaste are over-reactions, in my opinion, but the things you mention are all very valid and I understand why they've made you feel the way they do.  Equally, I can understand, oh so much, not wanting to spend your future years alone on a low income, particularly after the recent health scare - having our own mortality shoved in our faces is frightening and reminds us we're getting older.

I think something that is difficult when dating older men (maybe you need a toyboy? lol) is that the 'me Tarzan, you Jane' thing has been drummed into them from such a young age and it's possibly quite alien to him to have a female companion that doesn't need him to take charge and organise everything at the drop of a hat. 

I guess the good thing is that you're both willing to work on it and, as you say, the good times are amazingly good.  I guess that time is going to pass, whatever you do now, and if it did sadly not work out with M, at least you'd know you'd both given it your best shot.  I think I'd be inclined to keep working on things all the time the good stuff outweighed the bad stuff, as it seems to at present.  I hope the couples thing helps; as you say, your current T's only hear your side of the story (respectively) so it will be interesting to hear what a therapist has to say about both of your perceptions of the same event and might help you find a middle ground.  I am keeping fingers crossed it goes well :)  You deserve to be happy xx xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on September 24, 2019, 02:04:15 PM
Thank you, ((((Tupp)))). Your take on how I feel is comforting and validating. Professors can be VERY persuasive, until they encounter the Stubborn Student! You're right, my concerns are legitimate. But so are his. I'm very hopeful the couple-counseling will help. He is motivated to the moon not to lose me, and I'm not far behind him. So given that he's brilliant and motivated, maybe it'll be a remarkable learning curve. My smarts are different but my love for him is real (plus that sketchy other motivation you are so forgiving about). I dunno the outcome, but I'll ask the universe for what I'd like, and give it my all.

I also agree with you that there'd be no point in bailing right now, just because it's getting hard. Relationships take Work. And either way--either for the reward of having worked so hard to create a happy future marriage that it's even more satisfying, or of having worked so hard that even in grieving an ended relationship, we have the knowledge that we both tried our very best. Until I can say that authentically, having also confronted my own dysfunctions, I am not ready to pull the plug.

Like you, I don't know what I would have done without this forum. And I have learned more than I can express from every voice hear.

I am sooooo grateful for the support.

love
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on September 24, 2019, 02:51:58 PM
Thank you, ((((Tupp)))). Your take on how I feel is comforting and validating. Professors can be VERY persuasive, until they encounter the Stubborn Student! You're right, my concerns are legitimate. But so are his. I'm very hopeful the couple-counseling will help. He is motivated to the moon not to lose me, and I'm not far behind him. So given that he's brilliant and motivated, maybe it'll be a remarkable learning curve. My smarts are different but my love for him is real (plus that sketchy other motivation you are so forgiving about). I dunno the outcome, but I'll ask the universe for what I'd like, and give it my all.

I also agree with you that there'd be no point in bailing right now, just because it's getting hard. Relationships take Work. And either way--either for the reward of having worked so hard to create a happy future marriage that it's even more satisfying, or of having worked so hard that even in grieving an ended relationship, we have the knowledge that we both tried our very best. Until I can say that authentically, having also confronted my own dysfunctions, I am not ready to pull the plug.

Like you, I don't know what I would have done without this forum. And I have learned more than I can express from every voice hear.

I am sooooo grateful for the support.

love
Hops

I think the motivation to try is the important thing, Hops, that part is so important, particularly as you're both so willing.  And it's so realistic as well.  Far more people would avoid unhappy marriages if they had these open, frank discussions beforehand instead of going down the Hollywood 'love will conquer all' pathway.

I've probably told this story before, but I remember an Asian friend years ago explaining the arranged marriage scenario to me.  It sounded so sensible.  An introduction was suggested, usually by friends or family, and a phone conversation took place.  And during that phone conversation they'd have a really frank, open discussion - do you want children?  private or state school?  will you give up work after having children?  do you cook?  Will your mother live with us?  And so on.  Very factual, very frank, and all the sorts of topics that couples end up rowing about and falling out over.  It sounded so sensible to me, it just weeded out unsuitables straight away.  When she did meet someone (randomly, it wasn't arranged) her Dad insisted on seeing his bank statements.  And most people would think that so rude but I thought, do you know what, he wants to make sure his girl is with a good un and he's not just taking his word for it.  Imagine the difference if everyone approached marriage in such a calm and collected way?

All a bit off kilter, but I'm just trying to say I think being really frank and open is a good thing, and I think it makes sense to work on things now instead of rushing off to get married and then realising it was a mistake.  I am still hopefull things will work out :) xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on September 25, 2019, 08:41:22 AM
Ya know Hops, you and I kind of have different "styles" about this kind of relationship. That's the way it should be, IMO. We also have our different views about what we want; will accept; try to give and when, etc. And after 10+ years of back & forth support we're still friends. Even a couple of toe tramplings in there - we got over it. LOL.

I let your last post marinate overnight. I've been guilty of just reacting off the cuff lately and I wanted to make sure my response didn't just make things more confusing. I saw some disturbing patterns emerging in your recent description. Disturbing for me; if I was in your shoes. I'm not going to go into them because you seem to be trying sort out the "why" or reason behind them yourself; quite well actually. That reason will be damned important going forward.

I wish for you to find happiness and companionship with a partner who truly knows and appreciates you for WHO YOU ARE, without trying to remodel you into what he wants. For the sake of his own comfort. You get downright fierce about protecting your boundaries so I'm not worried about ya. Despite your caring & compassionate nature.

But it was the image of M in a "saintly" role in the relationship - justified by his massive love for you - that got my attention. As you've realized, there are lots of explanations for why you're perceiving this so clearly and the truest explanation will be what matters. Even with couples therapy and tools for working through the issue, this is something you'll have to live with and accommodate for a long time. So it's vital you have that information before proceeding. You know how long it takes to truly change things like this in ourselves.

It perfectly OK to slow things down enough to address the issue Hops. I think you'll be fine.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on September 25, 2019, 03:58:48 PM
(((((((Amber)))) Responded about Hol over on Farm Life. Meanwhile, I'm grateful you brought up my struggle with M not accepting a NO. (Not before an endless campaign of ignoring it and/or verbally pounding at me over and over about it, until the NO becomes overwhelming.)

I think in many smaller matters I have intentionally turned my No into a Why Not or Yes. Yes, I'd like to please him. He turns almost every effort I make to give to him into his issue of no no no, I am the one who provides, serves, is generous and sacrificial. I had to talk to him about receiving...how if he deflects every gesture I try to make to express love and gratitude to him, that hurt. He worked on it. Doing the surprise birthday dinner for him was a big one. But even there, he turned to me and said, I'd be happy to pay for this...one look and he gave it up, but his compulsion was still there to take away that opportunity from me. HE is the Giver, the Big Person, the Magnanimous Papa figure. It's not all ego, a lot of it is how he was raised.
I know I've posted this before, but Bill and I struggled with being "the giver" in our relationship too.  I had to talk myself out of many trees, and make a conscious decision to let Bill have that.  I learned to find comfort in receiving, the it became joy.
When he died I felt a profound loss I'd never before known, and come to appreciate.


Recently, I took my biggest No, contemplated loving him and wanting to bring him happiness, and flipped it into a profound Yes. He wound up kind of letting loose of my gift in a way that puzzled me, but it was still a happy thing to do and share.

On the other hand, I think my boundaries are too rigid in some ways. My T has said to me several times that she feels I am not over-reacting to his pressure. But she only hears my narrative, not his.

I identified for M recently that the pattern I worry most about is that although I delight in him as a companion (we are crazily compatible talking, dining, traveling, bantering, exploring, laughing, socializing with others) ... where I have the most trouble is when I believe he is crossing personal boundaries into my personal autonomy. I may be over-threatened by these in others' eyes, but here they are:

--My Family. He trespassed into my relationship with my D by sending her a message behind my back about my feelings, and then by talking about "his plan" to contact and help her, that he would "let me know" when he has decided "what he intends to do." I was in fury until he grasped that he is not to do ANYTHING in her direction unless he explicitly ASKS ME about it first. She is my child, not his. For now, we've dropped that discussion. He was fantasizing a paternal relationship with her, "the daughter I never had" that was both kind and clueless (her purpose in the world is not to make him feel more saintly). He understands nothing at all about her mental illness, my loss and how it feels and kept poking at it, bringing it up over and over and over because it made HIM so sad--and thus making me re-experience an anguishing loss I'd grieved as much as I could without dying. (Repetition, repetition....). I see your point, but also see his side.  Yearning to help and connect, and perhaps heal.  Since my oldedt18 dd connects so deeply with my brother the idea of M connecting with your dd brings up positive emotions and hope....and then I look through your eyes again, and know your right to have boundaries, and insist M respects them.He FINALLY realized how grave this was for me, and dropped it. Though there've been a few very subtle gestures about her lately. (I think he resents me having drawn such a firm boundary there.)

--My Health. He directly ignored an explicit request my friend conveyed (nicely) for me when I was in the ER, that I did not want him to come back yet into the area where I was being treated. He told my friend, "Oh she's confused. I have to be there, I'll 'take the heat':... ) and persuaded her to let him take over. When I asked later, did she convey my request that you NOT come back? He said yes. I asked, so why did you? He said, "My feelings compelled me to." So the wishes of the stressed and overwhelmed patient, me, were irrelevant because his feelings were strong. It was NOT comforting having him in the cubicle; it added to my stress while I was in the middle of a stroke and focusing on responding to the providers. The next day I was (and remain) so grateful to have him there and very moved by his overall support (though he kept interrupting my conversation with my doctors). But the night before, he did not care about my privacy, my vulnerability, my humiliation (I was having medication not only injected but stuffed up my ass and was NOT ready to share that moment with a boyfriend I hadn't been intimate with) or my CHOICE. He found his choice romantic. I found it disrespectful and, honestly, selfish. (So I hesitate to trust him with health issues. A recent example, his insistent drama about the monitor, magnifying HIS sense of crisis into a routine appointment I was managing calmlly. Another: The other night I shared something about how ADD affects my time management and he responded dismissively, "Oh, I don't think you have ADD. You may have gotten some diagnosis, but I don't perceive it." And "Somebody wanted to put one of my sons on ADD meds!" I don't even take Rx. I was 60 when diagnosed, and immensely relieved by it. But what got to me was his entitlement to dismiss it and attitude of superiority about his knowledge. So that's another health thing I don't feel safe sharing about.)

--My Friendships. I had a tiff with a friend, coincidentally also a professor, and shared it with him because it was sad. It was just a friend story. He said, Oh I'll take care of this because as a professor I can reach out to her with some invitation because we're technically colleagues. I didn't want him to do this. I wasn't looking for him to take over and issue some invitation. I am capable of resolving or making decisions around my personal friendships myself, and didn't need or want his involvement, which would've made the whole delicate dialogue with her much more difficult. (So I regretted confiding in him about something I'd ordinarily love to share with a partner. By the way, she and I are okay again.) After the bday party he made a big deal of writing my friends to thank them for coming (which was very nice, and appropriate) and at the same time declare to them that he was extremely grateful and wanted to thank them for being good friends for me (which struck them as odd). They've been my personal friends for decades, barely know him, and frankly don't need my boyfriend to praise them for caring about me. It's...paternalistic. Well meant, but still.

--My Time. When I periodically need to retreat to recharge (as an "introverted extrovert") he emails, calls, sends intense messages about how he needs to drop off food gifts even after I politely decline ("But it's fresh! You don't even have to answer the door!") etc, etc. It ensures that I keep thinking about him, I'm guessing. I'm probably thinking about him anyway, but don't need my sanctuary time structured around his desperation to not sense the umbilical cord stretch. (So now, thanks to Tupp, I have to spell out--radio silence.)

--My History. I shared with him in France the story of a very painful hurt I'd experienced with my second husband. (Which I'd grieved, recovered from, and basically put away...I rarely think of him.) M brought it up about TEN TIMES since because it made HIM so sad. I finally explained that I appreciated how compassionate he was about that experience, but that it was many many years ago, that I had healed from it and moved on, and that I'd really appreciate it, now that he understood it, if he would not bring it up again. "I promise. I'll never mention it again," says M, as he often does. He brought it up again yesterday. (This is what I mean about repeat, repeat, repeat.) He had a pretext. Doesn't matter. It makes me not trust his "I promise." He is appalled, "You've said you don't TRUST me! My intentions are always pure and good! Because I love you so DEEPLY.") Oy.

--My Body. In the most vulnerable of situations, he persisted in a way of touching that was uncomfortable and distressing to me. I said No over and over and he ignored it. Shhhhh! Shhhhh! I left and burst into tears when I got home. I had and have much compassion for why it's an emergency to him and in some degree, how his own anxiety and goal focus overwhelm him. But despite compassion, I can't abandon my own self, my own body, to his agenda without knowing that if I say Yes, or No, in the moment I will be heard. (Not after he's repeated and repeated whatever he wants....over my objections.) He apologized profusely and sincerely by email, but also came back when I tried to talk about it in person. "I wept too" and more, which pretty much shut me down. The other day I told him I didn't feel heard and that experience was still unresolved for me. He said he wanted to listen and we should take time to sit down and he would. I'm doubtful but hopeful. For me, it's a traumatic memory, if that word isn't too extreme. So all that's on hold and I'm reluctant to re-engage at that level. Not without help.

Looking for some good news? Talking with my T, I asked her to recommend couples counselors to interview. She said it wasn't if we needed it, but when, and it's time, and suggested names. Happily, he's agreed and is also asking his T for suggestions. We'll see one from each list to find one we both like, etc. I had told him recently, when he asked again about marriage (repeat repeat) that I honestly now have doubt I didn't have before. So he's taking it very seriously. That's good. A relief.
It seems like he's willing to try, and is capable of learning.  I think digging into the why of his codependence will be super helpful, but super painful too.
If anyone can help him figure this out you can Hopsy.  Hopefully a good T will shorten the journey, and be helpful  for you both.


He's never wavered about how much he loves me and wants me as his lifetime companion and no one else will do and I'm the love of his life. I believe his feelings are real; it's only some behaviors that get to me. He says if I know his intention is good (I do) that nothing else should matter (I don't agree, and told him even when there is real love, sometimes relationships still don't work.) I'm wavering now, but I do still love him, and I'll be very sad if it doesn't work out. However, I am also clear that my life would continue. It would be a lot harder, and having a stroke I'd be helpless and without a direct advocate (my friends are great but not THAT available), and I won't pretend that security isn't one of my motivations. I'll be 70 this spring. Having him to love and live with and care for going forward I believe would be a happier life for me than continuing alone. Winter is coming, literally and metaphorically.  I think your strength and belief in yourself makes you a better partner.  I think it gives you more space to work out the things that come between you. 

And....for most of the hours we've been together, he's been a delightful companion. I believe we will both do our sincere best in the counseling, and that the hope lies there. Maybe all the baggage two people this age are dragging is just a little complicated. And at heart, he is an ethical person, and has kind intentions. We're also just beginning to take a look at how some things I find smothering are actually cultural differences, as CB referenced...in how he shows love. That's helpful. Dunno if it'll save us but it reduces my worry, to see some of his behavior in a less personal context.  Yes....stay curious, Hops.

Meanwhile, we're off to California later next month to "meet the kids" and I'm truly looking forward to it.  Have a good time.  Lighter

Thanks for listening to all that, all-a y'all.

love
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on September 25, 2019, 05:15:46 PM
Thanks, Lighter.
The thing about M and my D is this: He doesn't know her. She doesn't (or didn't) know of his existence. I would have had no intention of sharing such personal news because: 1) she does not speak to me (8 years now) and is not presently in my life. 2) the pain of thinking of her is vicious, so I avoid doing so as much as possible. 3) M talks nonstop, and repetitively, about whatever pops into his head or engages his sentiments. He was oblivious about how much anguish he was raking up for me every time he probed about her. So that boundary had to be battled for with enormous stress.

I get what you mean about giving, and Bill. I have learned to accept much more comfortably and gratefully. There are just excesses in M's personality that mean although he's quite sincere, he does go on and on about how wonderful it is to give and how that is so natural to him and is his delight and purpose and so forth. I guess, in a subtle way, listening to all that self-praise is the attached string. Doesn't really have much to do with expenses or costs, as it does with M's personality/ego.

Thanks, Amber. By all means:
Quote
I saw some disturbing patterns emerging in your recent description. Disturbing for me; if I was in your shoes. I'm not going to go into them because you seem to be trying sort out the "why" or reason behind them yourself

Please DO "go into them" if you'd like. The whole reason I'm here is for help and feedback! For which I'm extremely grateful.

And thanks, Tupp!
Where can I rent some stern, loving Asian parents??????????????????

M followed up promptly and we have two prelimiary consultations with couples counselors set up. I'm very glad.

love y'all oodles,
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on September 26, 2019, 08:40:42 AM
Hops, if I had more confidence in my perspective right now, you know the irrepressible comments would come out. But I don't. Not at the moment. It's more important that you form your own judgement or discernment about this, anyway. Mine would be irrelevant unless I really thought you were missing something important.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on September 26, 2019, 10:56:59 AM
I hope M realizes you accept him as a human being.

You're taking issue with some of his behaviors, just as he's uncomfortable with some of yours, and that's OK.

I wish every couple took worked to resolve their issues before things get more complicated, and it's hard to find the original thread.   

Everyone has issues.

::nodding::.

Lighter

Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on September 26, 2019, 04:07:13 PM
Thanks, Lighter. I think you hit on a nuance. I do accept M as a human being, and only struggle with some of his behaviors. He's both so sensitive and so insecure that he doesn't have the psychological strength to have his behavior challenged. He's quite defensive, always with genuine feelings of being deeply wounded or "stung" when I imply that some of what he does creates a trust challenge for me.

Amber, hon, your thinking is relevant to me. I don't have to agree with or echo your perspective, of course. But I always value and appreciate it. You can offer whatever you want to, and not worry about "protecting" me in regard to me drawing my own conclusions or trusting my own decisions. As we all do, I take in everything because all our intentions here to help are so deeply evident. But naturally, I sift everything for what works and echoes, and whatever doesn't, drifts in and on. (Thank god nobody takes my voluminous opinions and advice as de riguer!) Just want you to know your thinking is valuable to me, whenever you're inspired to share it. (But no pressure to do so if you ain't inspired to.)

Gratefully,
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on September 27, 2019, 10:43:57 AM
Hops:

I'm just going to write down what comes up around you and M right now.  Take what makes sense, and forget the rest.

I think M believes whatever is good for him, is good for you... and the relationship.  It's a POV, and you're challenging it. He's shocked, bc that's not been his experience up to this point.   That's not right or wrong, it's just how he's feeling, kwim?

He likely does have the best of intentions for you, your happiness, and future with him, and I think you feel that too? 

I also think you're strength, autonomy, and personal POV is as exciting as it is scary for him.  That word "challenge" keeps coming up for me here.  You're challenging some of his world view, and how he operates in it with a partner.

I think he has some fear, and that's normal.  It's very harmful, in this case, to his ability to hear you and use reason.

He's going to have to find a way to calm himself down, and focus.  He's up against old default pathways here, so I hope some breathing exercises are included in T.... he needs to take his biology back, and shift back into adult/creative/problem solving mode, IMO.


I'm afraid you're the professor in these matters, and he's the student.  That's not going to add to M's comfort either, IME. 

Understanding that this is about you and M working together to sort things out.... might help M calm down.

You want to know what M really needs, and M needs to be able to ask what you really need, and be responsive to them.  It goes both ways. 

I really look forward to M understanding that he's loved, and whole, and accepted, even when you "challenge" him. I really want to read posts where he's secure enough to be upset, then bounce back with admiration for your pluck.  He chose a strong woman.  Once he feels more secure, I think he'll have an easier time finding his admiration.

The truth is, most couples who experience crisis, and do this difficult work to overcome it, come out incredibly strong.  I think you can say that, up front, to M.   Working through these housekeeping matters is intended to bring more joy and stability for you both. That's an amazing,  intelligent aspiration, IMO.

I hope M can learn to make that shift into observer mode, and get curious about what you want and need.  That defensive stance is not working for either of you, and you don't intend offense.  You're Hops!  He should learn that, and internalize it.  The sooner the better.

In all your posts I feel positive connection, and his ability to do this work. 

That M shifts into fight or flight mode, and can't get out,  explains why he's not able to understand, listen, or problem solve.  He's smart enough, he just needs help learning how to unhook those darned alarm bells so he can hear, help make a plan, and follow through. 

And that's how I feel about that.

Lighter

Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on September 27, 2019, 01:18:31 PM
Lighter, THANK YOU.

This is a deeply perceptive, insightful and (hopefully) empowering post. I really appreciate the deep thought and the effort of it, too.

You articulate a very nuanced, compassionate and profound view-from-a-distance. That distance has actually enabled you to see what we're trying, as well as what we're up against, so clearly. Much more clearly than I have been able to, in fact. You also wisely reminded me to see the truth I'm trying to tell as ultimately good for both M and me. As his will be for me, regardless, because I care intensely about reality over delusion to guide my decision about a life with him.

I have a lot of hope pinned on whichever couples counselor we choose. I loved your phrase, "he needs to take back his biology." I'm not a teacher for that, but perhaps his own T could be, if M sees it and brings it up to him.

M seems to have a good deal of receptivity for what his own T observes. So I'm hopeful.

It's true it would be a massive relief to be heard somewhere that might make a difference. I'm not saying a counselor is going to pat me on the head and castigate M. I don't need or want either of those to happen. But I do yearn for a room in which M's runaway-talk-train can't overwhelm me, and where a neutral observer can guide us both in listening deeply to each other. Or, more likely, to reflect back to us when and what we have not heard well. And help us pace through the whole thing without panic -- either his or mine.

What you said about POV, and how it's not something to judge but just see as what impact my challenges to it are having...was incredibly helpful.

Above all, I think your analysis carries great compassion for M. And I appreciate that a lot. When I feel threatened or devoured or overwhelmed by the bigness of his emotions and nonstop expression of them...I can lose my internal commitment to compassion.

Basically, you've reminded me to remember my strength. I'm trying. I think the stroke, a cardiac monitor stuck on my chest, reading a recent detailed test result about my abnormal heart rhythms, and the actual physical sensations I feel in my chest when under big emotional stress...it's really my health that I'm trying to protect.

My personal challenge is to also calm down, and try to hold my balance and a calmer center when I'm in his company. It's a big challenge. But to continue toward the good stuff prevailing, I have to try to meet it.

Thanks again.

Gratefully,
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on September 28, 2019, 10:34:16 AM
Hops:

I believe you're the professor when it comes to exploring one's inner world, and shifting into observer mode. You know more about things being OK, even when they aren't OK, or don't seem OK.
 I call it the
"hold....
hold....
hold....." pattern of sitting with difficult feelings.  Some of life is learning how to DO that, and I was just talking to my T about it.  That skill, and it's usefulness.

If we can sit, and not go chattering on or DOING DOING DOING to escape difficult feelings.  Just waiting when we're in distress.  Not following old pathways, but turning attention inward to see what's there, what comes up.  M hasn't learned how to SEE his actions, thoughts, and feelings without judgment and panic.... yet. He hasn't learned to shift into your POV either.

 You have.  You do it all the time here, for him

I remember reading posts of yours, years ago, about just sitting with our difficult feelings.  Was that really 10 or so years ago?  More maybe?  And it took me this long to follow that thread to a place I could understand.

 You're up ahead, now, for M.  Shining a light if he'll see it.  Helping him learn to sit with his discomfort, for it has a message, and will not kill him, though his alarm bells warn they will.  This is the edge of epiphany for this lovely smart man.  I don't think he understands temporary upheaval is just temporary.   

You do. 

I wish he could see your intention to build safe happy space for the both of you.  I wish he could imagine you, as companion, when you feel comfort enough to love without fear or reservation.
 To love him without doubt.   

It's not an easy concept for a child, or panicked person to understand.... you flailing away, bc you require more distance in order to be OK with closeness and intimacy with M.   
Lord. 
That's hurtful to a person who can't stand space.  He's creating a need for more and more space with hiseifforts to close the distance.  ::shaking head::  And he can't SEE how that's going to go. You can. So YES... you're the one with more knowledge in these matters, and we'll see how the professor handles a woman of depth and unfamiliar substance.   

I guess M's T sessions will teach him the art of horse whispering.... not to BECOME a new person, or lose himself, but to shift into a new way of BEING inside himself.  Spending time in a horse corral is something kids do in Wilderness Camp.  They learn how to work together with an intense focus to gain a horse's trust, and cooperation.  They have to see things through the horse's POV, and I guess I just said you're the horse there, so forgive me, but that's my short version of that.

I agree, a good T will help you. 
Help M lean into change, and embrace it. 
Not fear it. 

Help M "hear" you, Yes.
The fear has to go for him to Do that, IME.


No one would ever think you'd want M castigated in a T session, and it's interesting you write that out, bc... you feel some discomfort around how your motives will be interpreted?  What was that about, Hops? 

And I'm sending you healing waves of pink light ((Hops)).  I wish I could send the spirits of nuns and nurses from Nonnatus House on Call The Midwife.  To hold our hands, and see this monitor business through.  To shield, and comfort you.  To lend their filters when you're overwhelmed and feeling devoured.

More deep breathing, for all of us,  is a good thing. That's where the calm is, IME.

Lighter



Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on September 28, 2019, 04:25:40 PM
Thanks, Lighter.

I am hoping but do not know whether I'm strong enough to serve as a model of calm, and sitting with difficult feelings, for M. I have trouble sitting with my own, even though I know it's important. Given my health scares and other worries (including whether I need to go back to work to rebuild savings), I am not a huge reservoir of inner calm at the moment.

In that way, M and I are alike. We're both subject to anxiety. I think his is more intense because his career has required (and permitted) so much attention and focus that he doesn't have the energy left to approach self-insight with the same level of commitment.

My difficulty in being in relationship to M, as it was with my Nmother, is that it's a literally nonstop job, to hold my calm when the verbal bulldozer's running at top speed, the bull is rampaging repetitively around the china shop (me being, unfortunately, the china at times), and the sheer forcefulness of his personality and verbal torrents (however positive the mantras he repeats repeats repeats)...

just
freaking
wear
me
out

I'll try. I really want things to work out.

He allows no silence. He never, ever stops pushing for what he wants. He repeats and repeats and repeats what he wants as though I didn't comprehend it the first 20 times he said it.

Instead of arguing with him, I find myself lately just going quiet. He notices. After talking about himself for 10-15 minutes straight when I first see him, he'll notice I'm not as responsive (umm-hmm, oh my golly, that must've been this or that, wow, etc.) as I used to be. And then he'll manage, "How was your day?" Once I get out what I did, what went well or didn't, then he immediately begins to tell me how to fix what didn't. He does respond fairly well to the direct statement, I don't need you to fix it, I just wanted to talk about it. So that's progress.

We'll see. I really do think your understanding of him and what he needs is huge. Just huge. And I appreciate it tremendously.

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on September 29, 2019, 09:41:28 AM
Non-sequitor alert:

Lighter - that's a magnificent bit of knowing you shared there - and extremely helpful, even for me.

Hops: Holly is my "verbal bulldozer". (I'm so stealing that.) And the truth is, it kinda hurts, feels a little like a betrayal and it DOES make me doubt/question myself when the words are about me; how she's perceiving me (rightly or wrongly).

So, yes; I've done what Lighter described above and gotten a little more clarity about how I've left myself open for that and how much salt I need to add to it, when it comes at me.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on September 30, 2019, 11:02:16 AM
Exhausting evening with M.
Started with a neighborhood walk. M wants to hold my hand, always. I generally don't enjoy holding his hand while we walk because our strides are so out of sync. His is shorter and I've usually got my dog on the leash. She and I have walked together for years and are kind of tuned to each other. I let her sniff-stop sometimes but urge her on others; have learned how to keep moving with her enough for her to be enjoying it and me too. Mainly, though, holding hands with M is difficult because his movements are jerky and he constantly fiddles with my hand. He doesn't mean it to be irritating but it is. I feel like a human fidget spinner. (M mentioned once that he likely has ADHD, fwiw.)

So many times when we walk, if my back feels even a bit out of balance, I choose not to hold hands because in my experience, it results ultimately in a sore back. I explain that gently. He forgets. I also have been thinking a lot about being more relaxed and calm, since the stroke. Wearing the monitor again does keep that on my mind. This itchy thing glued to my chest. So what I was looking forward to was just walking peacefully, enjoying the air and light, talking about anything or hopefully for SOME of the time, not talking.

M talked nonstop. I wasn't very responsive. So he began "teasing." Nonstop nonsequitors, just filling the air with comments and aiming his attention at me nonstop until I felt again...badgered. I tried to follow what he was saying but he was saying a lot of nonsense. I wasn't angry or pissy but just wasn't in a bantering mood. So he escalated, began jabbering things that made no sense. He kept saying when I'd ask a question to try to follow it, "I'm just TEASING you! I'm only JOKING!" The walk wasn't fun. I read too much teasing as screened anger, and am sure it was.

Then we took the dog home and drove downtown to meet our friends for dinner and a movie. I felt tuned out, and the hold-my-hand expectation came on again. I said I wanted to not hold hands because it was so hot, and I felt sticky. He looked offended and argued about it. We're still walking, my back is tensing.

By dinner I was relieved to have other people to focus on. M tried to dominate the conversation and two of my friends would not take the bait. They kept talking and laughing but didn't make him the center of attention. He looked confused and I felt badly but also didn't feel like soothing him.

At the start of the movie I did something I starting doing months ago every time we see a movie. Leaned over and said to him in a tender way, "Although I won't be holding your hand during the movie, I love you and I'm glad to be here with you." During the film he kept looking over and over at my hands and arms. I wound up clamping them in my lap, sensing nonstop that he was ill at ease because we weren't touching. I tried to enjoy the movie, mostly did. He liked it too. Near the end he reached for my hand again but I was concentrating on following the dialogue so didn't take it. (Plus, I had told him I didn't want to.) He withdrew his hand looking hurt. (Wrote me later how much rejection hurts.)

On the way home tension just built. At my house he again did his new "test" -- plaintively, may I have a hug before the evening is over? (We had hugged when he arrived but I wasn't touching him during our walk.) I said of course you can. And I hugged him when we got to my place. Then the next test--may I escort you to your door? I said, as I had before, No thank you.

He writes me an email about how hurt he is and how rejected he feels and how there must be physical affection and on and on and on. I write back about how I just wanted to feel peaceful and relaxed and that it's something I'm working on within myself, etc etc. And that sometimes I'm very affectionate and playful and other times I'm just in a quieter mood, thinking my own thoughts, but it's not to reject him, it's just a variation of mood. That I'd like to be able to have that inner stillness in his company at times.

Long story shorter, we write emails and he seems to make my physical availability a referendum on being loved and he expresses many complaints about rejection when I'm not in that frame of mind.

I think, largely because of coaching here, I got across how I feel when he's criticizing my inadequate displays of affection, or letting him walk me to the door, etc etc. He acts almost like a crossing guard, with lots of "child instructions" like, Be careful! Okay, cross now. I'm sure it's well intentioned, cultural and formal as he was trained to do. For me, walking through the world for decades on my own, it's maddening to try to adjust to.

And beneath that is just his huge neediness. He said just don't make me feel you don't care. I explained that I don't MAKE him feel his emotions; he reacts to his own experiences in his own ways just as I do. And told him repeatedly that I love him, and I've just been in a quieter mood lately. I've been doing a lot of introspection since the stroke and I have told him repeatedly that I feel I need to relax more.

I wound up writing long emails last night and woke to another complaint about how hurt he is when I don't feel like being touched. I wrote him a long thing about how I love him very much but don't feel I can do the job of reassuring him adequately, but am very hopeful that in our couple counseling, we'll learn ways to talk about it and navigate it that will help us both get our needs met. And then I sent him a meditation from YouTube on feeling rejected by others. It ends with an image with big red letters that say: feeling rejected is not about love for the other person.

I've also asked if I could come over later today. I had promised him we'd meet and talk whenever we're having a hard time and I want to do it if he does.

Whew and whew. It's sad to me, because the other night at dinner we had a wonderful, peaceful conversation. M said he understood much better why I'd seemed more withdrawn lately, felt reconnected to me and now he was "grounded." But one evening when I'm not hugging, touching and laughing and he's completely unmoored again.

I do have to be strong in order to help him the way Lighter described. I think I managed that as best I could. But I'm also concerned that his resentment and habitual focus on getting me to make him feel better will just escalate. I'll find out later when I see him next. He may be getting angry but not want to own that.

Thanks for listening, y'all. I'm okay but shoulders are tense and I want to get my mind off him and be in the present, enjoy a quiet day, and relax. Hope it's possible.

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on September 30, 2019, 01:21:32 PM
We're meeting Wednesday evening.
That's better, gives me a few days to focus (and I see my T tomorrow).
I'll ask her to help me prepare.

I've even thought of doing an abbreviated list that I wrote here -- the thing about the personal space/autonomy that I feel he violates. But I sense that'd be a bad idea. He told me as he pieced together things with his T today he felt more upset than ever.

I don't know if what feels threatening to me is "right" or fair but it struck me as an illuminating pattern.

Hops

Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on September 30, 2019, 01:45:45 PM
Golly, Hops.  That update makes me tired for you, but also hopeful M will figure this thing out. 

He can grasp concepts!   That's HUGE.  He can find his center.

Sure it goes in and out of focus, but that's to be expected, particularly when he's under stress.  That's how these things go, IME.

When he's found ways to calm himself, he'll have more time and ability to choose his responses, rather than react to what he interprets as threats.  As he gets more consistent with calming himself, he'll have more choice.

Maybe he can help you choose a code word to gently remind him when he's losing the thread that's meant to bind the two of you?  Maybe he'll need to be looked gently in the eye, and touched on the arm, or some physical connection, but reminded he's off track,  still loved, and accepted for who he is.  His default settings will be difficult to change, but change them he must.
   

You guys are swinging back and forth.  Your need for space sends him into a spin, so he closes the distance, and clutches physically ONTO your person, which sends you spinning, so you pull farther away, and he gets needier.  This isn't working, we all agree. 

I've been the runner, and the clutcher.  They both come from very deep place inside, IME.

I'm hoping this T can help you walk in each other's shoes. Relationships are hard work. Why would we ever assume they're less work than any project worthy of completion.  They all take time, and energy.  This will get harder, but then easier.  New habits will be understood, digested, and worked on till eventually cemented in place, IME.  Think in terms of 3 months to effect lasting change if M is really working with you.  Try to conjure up the things you like about M when you're most challenged.

The T should give you guys a workable framework to DO this work...  I hope.

I'd consider asking M for permission to forward your shared e mails to the T as background before the first appointment.  It will also be more productive, IMO, than M blathering on in the first session with his POV, which you have to listen to. 

 Maybe set a 2 hour appointment that first time.  You each get 30 minutes alone, then an hour together?  Or not?  Make sure there's a little noise machine outside the door.  You should be very honest, and get to the heart... I think.  I don't really know, but I see it a certain way, and I share: )


I admit, I'm working on issues with anger and sadness over a confusing relationship in my life right now.  I've spent months being puzzled by my huge overreactions to something I shouldn't be angry about.  I'm tracing my anger and sadness back to older wounds, (and some codependence) and it's helping me discharge the anger, and process that sadness.  I'm not through, but I'm honestly relieved, today, to have just gotten started.  For months I'd ask myself why this THING was SO EMOTIONALLY CHARGED FOR ME????!!!??  I had to take up pen, and paper and write it out, then attend to the feelings in my body, and follow them up to where they originated. 

I still have to "talk" with my friend, but at least I'm feeling better in my body... not huge feelings overwhelming me. Once I distill it down, understand it better myself, I'll share it with the friend, then steel myself for her truth.  Relationships are hard work.

  I guess that's where you guys are now. 

I'm breathing for you, Hops. You remember to breathe too.

It'll be OK.

Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on September 30, 2019, 02:15:04 PM
Thanks, Lighter.
I offered him a lot of reassurance via email and repeated I'm ready for The Work. Reminded him of what you said (or maybe that was Tupp) -- that couples who do this hard work together can wind up stronger and more bonded. He replied he felt much better than he knows I'm ready to engage and am not withdrawing. So that's good.

I think one day at a time. I don't think I'll try to structure the couples counseling but let the professional guide us in whatever system their experience tells them works. And hope for the best result. We're a bit away from that as we don't have our first appointments for a while. Hanging in, meanwhile.

I'm sorry you're bumping into a painful thing that's not quite resolved in your life. But very impressed with how clearly you're looking at it, and taking tools out of the toolbox that's been so useful to you, to use while navigating through it.

Hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on September 30, 2019, 02:38:25 PM
Hops:

I can picture you exchanging private grins with M, after the hard work is done.  When comfortable knowing has replaced limbic chaos.

I'm glad I'm utilizing my toolbox too.  It's not easy to do when I'm struggling, and that's when I need it most.

Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: CB123 on September 30, 2019, 08:12:41 PM
Hops,

I'm so sorry what you are going through with you fella. I want so badly to be reassuring: "stick with it!", "with work you will get through it!", but I have been through too much and this is much to familiar. I don't see as much romance as a battle for boundaries and it's possible that he has been in this place before, thus the desperation. 

I was kinda horrified at some of the stuff he was saying about physical touch, and his trying to commandeer you as you walk, and the conversation later.  If you had written a script of my marriage, I don't think you could have done it better--right down to the insistence on holding hands while walking even though the gaits don't match and the tension that ensues, and the battle of wills after.

I am not able to hold onto hope for you in this relationship, but if there is anything I can give to support and encourage you, I surely will.

Please be careful, dear Hops. You are such a special person and you know you mean the world to me.

CB

Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on September 30, 2019, 10:08:33 PM
Thanks, Lighter. I can so easily join the fantasy about the future private grins. I just don't know...every time I rely on my imagination, I lead myself astray.

CB, thank you. What you said is very sobering, but I'm glad of it. I don't know how to tease out the difference between M and your ex but I trust you profoundly, so what echoed for you, echoed.

I had a funny reaction in part, which was: CB just strengthened my spine.

Then another, which I'm not freaked about but is real: I have nobody else; I want it to work.

I think those things will be circling and circling until I figure out whether spine plus need can coexisit, without me devolving into a puddle of fear-of-stroke and all the old fears I've tended for too long.

I will try to remain honest with myself and with him. And we'll see whether together, we can grow.

I honestly don't know yet. We're in our eighth month, and both dragging age-70 accumulations of baggage.

I'd like to be open to the possibility that there's hope. But I do have a desire for reality above all. And then, there's a sense of vulnerability I didn't have 10 or 20 years ago.

I have a lot to learn.

Thank you.

Hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on October 01, 2019, 09:43:10 AM
So now I'm a bit depressed.

I can feel myself sinking a little into an emotional place
of mistrust of M. I don't really want to do that. And I'm
not 100% sure he's earned it.

What saddens me is how dislike, in moments, can pollute
a whole happy thing.

So I'd like to ask myself (and my T) how to look at these
things in perspective. I hope she can help; at times she's
seemed discouraging about the relationship.

Good news is I'd forgotten how soon our first couples counselor
appt was coming up...it's tomorrow.

I may just be feeling discouraged but exaggerating the signficiance
of that. I need more emotional resilience to make good decisions.

Hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on October 01, 2019, 11:40:48 AM
Hops, my thoughts, for what it's worth - I think it's very difficult to filter out different types of behaviour and reactions, on both sides, whether in a new relationship or an old one.  We all have things that are good for us, bad for us, things we can live with and things we can't.  We all have things that are reasonable or unreasonable to us, that are all influenced by our previous experiences and our expectations, I think, as well as our fears for the future.

So I think it's perfectly normal for you to be feeling the way you do and see sawing back and forth over M, and it's very good that you are being open and honest about them, with yourself, most importantly.  Your fear over spending your later years alone and on a low income is a very valid and sadly only too real one, that many people share and understand.  I think it's particularly hard when you've spent many years in difficult or unequal relationships, then a long time working on yourself and then you kind of look up and the picture in front of you doesn't always look very rosy.  It's good to be positive, but also necessary to be realistic, I think, so I think your need to get this right is a very real and valid one and I can understand how you feel very much.

I really felt for you over the 'walking out of sync' thing.  I have had times when I'm out with son and a friend.  Son will walk, holding me arm.  I'm pushing his wheelchair, empty at that point, because he may need it as the day goes on.  Friend is walking alongside me, chatting away, oblivious to my balancing act of son on my arm and chair handling, and the effort of juggling those things whilst trying to keep up with the conversation is very tiring, so I completely understood your feelings about the hand holding incident.  I did wonder if his T has told him to ask, "Can I walk you to the door, can we hug?" as a way of confirming it's okay?  It sounded to me like one of those clunky things people start practising when they first go to therapy.  It will be interesting to see how the session goes when you are both talking about the same topic at the same time.

I suppose what comes across as the biggest challenge (from an outsiders perspective) is that you are used to managing and analysing your own emotions, whereas it seems M is used to other people managing them for him.  But perhaps that will be something that comes out in the couples session and will start to improve. 

I think you are looking at things in perspective.  I haven't read anything that's made me think you're over-reacting.  You seem to be looking at things calmly and objectively, and giving yourself time and space when you need it.  I think that's good.  I think you can mistrust him for a bit without letting on to anyone and it's okay - it will probably pass and you'll have a clearer idea.  I think the couples session will probably give you a better idea; it will be interesting to see what happens when someone else is making suggestions and asking questions and giving you both time to respond :)  I hope it goes well xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on October 01, 2019, 02:52:21 PM
Hops:

You aren't assuming anything.

You're seeing a T with M to determine what's real, and what's not.

Maybe he can learn, and maybe he can't. 

You won't know until you get curious, drop expectation, and  employ your As.

Assess
Accept
Act

All in due time, and this is due diligence.

I'm curious, have you ever though M is PD?

I haven't felt that,  but now that CB is alarmed, it seems you might?

This next leg of the journey begins tomorrow.

Keep yourself safe, trust your instincts, and honor self-care.  Maybe keep a journal.  Practice your lean, and see if your intuition is correct. 
Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on October 02, 2019, 10:54:19 AM
So far, I've held my piece on this last description. Part of it is due to the crazy stuff I'm going through here; and part of it is because while I want to support you Hops, and give you a giant hug... I truly think that in a relationship with someone, some people rely too heavily on other people's advice and are even pushed off balance by other's experiences and fears.

I know I tend to relate my personal experiences to what other people are going through a lot. And I s'pose that's natural. (I'm trying to get past being hyper-sensitive to the verbal onslaught about me, from Hol. It takes a toll, even when I do have my feet firmly back in my center again.)

The neediness of M, can be overwhelming to someone who needs more space to process thoughts, emotions, and just the she said/he said. It's good he's able to express that he's feeling your need for space as a rejection... now, how can he learn that it's not? Can he simply strengthen himself enough that it's perfectly OK to not hear from you for a couple days? Take care of himself? So, this is communication. It's also some of the reason the relationship WORKS, even though you've experienced a bit of opposite needs and timing.

Can you find some small way to reassure him that a temporary need for space and quiet, isn't a threat to the relationship?

I'm asking a lot of questions over on this side of the state line too. About all the relationships I'm involved in presently. Just listening for my own answers first; before I ask the people in question for their answers.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on October 02, 2019, 04:00:28 PM
Thanks so VERY much all-a y'all. I am soooo grateful for your input. Doesn't matter if every thought is magically on point or not, because when I read I know I have FRIENDS, REAL FRIENDS who care enough to share a point of view on my detailed, repetitive internal stuff. And external. Thank you.

Tupp, I felt really comforted by your post, and your reassurance that I'm not processing or thinking anything wildly out of bounds or irrational as I look at my situation. That really mattered and helps me feel more confident to face some of this stuff. I think sometimes that when a struggle has been long, exhausting and also under the umbrella of economic fear and without family, it is a little different. That you understand that part, without judgement, is a piece of reality that I appreciate a lot. And you're not blind to the draw of love and being loved, either. It's a balance. M wants security too, as he doesn't want to be without a loving companion. I'd like us to create it for each other.

Lighter, again your perception of what he is most likely to be feeling, and where he may be in his own emotional development, is quite amazing. I wonder if given some of what you've been through, your necessary vigilance encompassed an incredible amount of close, daily, really radar-like observation. It's as though you understand male energies in a very profound way. I think you have a (very expensive) PhD in it. Luckily for me, you are able now to see those male energies compassionately too, without the fear. I can't describe how much I'm benefiting from this. So far, I don't find myself thinking he has a personality disorder, fortunately.

Amber, you're spot on. We really do need to figure out "codes" for letting each other know what we need. And you're right I can be impacted by others' experiences too, but I understand that. I also identify really tightly with different pieces of different stories, but I think I'm okay in generally sorting that out. When I catch it, I'll cop to it. (Usually later than is useful, but I'll get there). Thanks for your simple common sense, that the key issue is to teach M (but more importantly, that he teach himself, which may take a while) that absence doesn't mean disappearance, just means "not here or not available" right now. I think you and Lighter both are reminding me that if I deal with my own anxiety effectively, I'll be in better shape to offer him reassurance.

My own T is pretty connected to my feelings about boundaries and violations and all that. Perhaps even too much so. So that brings me to our first couples-T we met with today.

She was lovely. Very smart, very good at guiding us back and forth. I wanted M to go first and he talked so long (surprise!) that I was anxious about having time to get out my own story. But it did work. I listened in silence to his whole story about his backstory and his take on us. He talked often about "we" this and that, which she picked up on and guided him back gracefully to speaking for himself. During my turn, I was surprised how much I said about how I feel and how openly and also, how painful it was to do so.

In a nutshell, I talked about loving M for his big personality and also feeling engulfed by it.

Here's one thing I noticed and feel odd about. There's a lot of cultural stuff going on between M and me. I think she is also from Latin America, if I got her accent right. And she is more feminine than I feel I am. So I got a little worried about how she thinks about feisty-feminist American women. I also got in touch with how VERY fierce I am about protecting my personal space and choices and how much M challenges that at times. I identified that I might feel OVER-fierce sometimes. One huge thing she pointed out when I described my two marriages was, "You've never had the experience of being intimate with a non-abusive man." Huh. I then told her about the big exception, my lovely gentle father, and she said that my first bond with a male being him boded very well. And that helped me reconnect with M's nurturing side. That is real...even though the flip side feels overbearing.

We both got to share a lot that made a lot of sense. And she was very skilled. We have another person to see in about a week before we decide who we're going to work with. I felt vulnerable and drained afterward and M was joyful, very optimistic.

On balance, I feel better too. I think counseling together is essential and will take a while. And that's okay. I do believe it's an investment of time and effort that is worth it. I reconnected with loving M.

Your next weather report will probably be late tonight!

I love y'all. Truly.

Gratefully,
Hops

Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on October 02, 2019, 09:21:05 PM
Damn Hops -- that's a lot of WHEW! Going to take a while for my slow brain to process. But on balance, it's sounds GOOD.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on October 02, 2019, 09:35:06 PM
Thanks, ((((Amber)))). I'm feeling good too.
A lot of tension emptied in that session.

Lovely dinner with M. He's still his repeating self...
but very tender and urgent and sincere, I believe.
And I felt less defensive.

You'll like our first code. She (M thinks Eastern European,
not Hispanic) suggested Silencio! He liked it, so now I get
to say that whenever his talking barrage is flooding me.

FUN. I have a power word!

Hugs
Hops

Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on October 02, 2019, 11:22:50 PM
PS to Lighter (from Farm Life)--
I think understanding what ruminating is, is tremendously important for all of us. I'm glad you pulled out that word.

Thanks,
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on October 03, 2019, 06:36:36 AM
I'm relieved to read about the T too, Hops. It's an amazing gift to speak without fear, and it's a miracle when we FEEL understood.  Actually BEING understood is whole'nuther level of miracle, IME.

Even if it's the T who gets you.  There's great hope she can help M understand as well. 

About code words... my mother used to say "LV" to the girls when they were little, and in public.  It meant "little voices."  Sometimes the girls and I use it with each other,  still.  There's a different kind of energy to original code, I think.  It's always used in a very gentle way, as reminder, not judgment. 

It has to be something you can use in front of his peeps, kwim?

::thinking::.

Was "silencio!" a joke?

Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on October 03, 2019, 11:06:08 AM
It was his lighthearted choice of a good code to use with him when I feel overwhelmed by his talking nonstop and need some quiet. She supported it because having him choose it, and seeing him respond with a smile, meant it would be a good one to use.

I resisted a bit at first, since I'd rather say something in my own language, but agreed to try it. No harm. And her inviting him to choose it was a savvy way to have him buy in to the idea.

M is completely bilingual, speaks and teaches in both English and Spanish.

(I do need to ask this T why, when I had some reaction to something--I don't remember what--she mentioned I had a "snotty" look. I didn't really like that but was too startled to say anything.)

Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on October 03, 2019, 01:44:38 PM
Hops:

I misunderstood the silencio thing... .thought it was the T who liked it.  Sorry. 

I do think that's cute, but only between you and M.  In mixed company, I doubt he'll share that smile in the same way, when he's struggling, IMO.

About your "snotty" look.  I've been paying attention to my facial expressions late, with one person in particular, and I have a flash of emotion take over my expression that I was completely surprised by. 

Don't get defensive.  Try to pay attention to your expression, as a matter of curiosity, and see what you catch.  Sometimes our faced DO things we're not aware of, IME.  I think I'd want to provide clarity, certainly AND at the same time I think it sucks that women are judged "bitchy" every time we have a less than happy emotion cross our faces.  During the trials I was in trouble for it all
the
time. Even with my own team of advocates.  My frustration at the injustice.  At the crazy made up stories.  At my distress, coming out of my nervous system but having to PERFORM in public all the time, with everyone judging me.  I just honestly had to be made aware of what my face and demeanor WAS so I could stop sabotaging myself in that way.  I find men and women punish us for looking generally bitchy, as defined in this culture.  It can be fear, distress, frustration, ongoing abuse and voicelessness and it's judged the same way, which is FRUSTRATING too, IME. 

I love that M bought into the concept of code word.  I think that's wise, and smart, and necessary.  Good on'ya and T to gain his compliance.  That's half the battle, I think.  Staying engaged, and drive to learn is the next part. 

Lighter

Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on October 03, 2019, 02:00:32 PM
I'm totally into RBF, but inasmuch as I couldn't SEE my own face at the moment, I think it was odd of the T to make a judgey comment like that.

It is my only hesitation about choosing her. Sometimes something like that hints at underlying bias. Who knows? She may not like women who express themselves strongly, or have unconscious anti-women bias. Many many women do. Or it may just have been a poor choice of words. I think it was.

Overall though, I did like her and found her skillful. We'll see. We're meeting with another one in a couple weeks and I appreciate the chance to make choices. Not just go with the first meeting, which was still cathartic and helpful.

I've just been on the receiving end of bad counseling a couple times in my life, so I'm cautious. She may be the right one, or not. I'm actually going to ask her about that comment and explain to her why I didn't like it, and just see what she says. To avoid dragging M into it, I might just call and leave that concern on her voicemail, and see if she responds. I will share with M that I'm doing that, in case she pulls the "we have to have another full session before you say anything more..." thing.

Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on October 03, 2019, 03:48:22 PM
ACK bad Ts!  That is SO TRUE, Hops.

I think you should ask this T about her comment, when M's not listening.

Once a Doc was sending me messages, via her face, regarding youngest dd, and it drove me nuts till I told her I was overtly concerned about what those faces MIGHT MEAN.  She wasn't even aware she was doing that, and said she didn't mean to set off alarm bells.

Ask.  You might find yourself surprised by the answer.

Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on October 04, 2019, 06:56:43 AM
I'm actually going to ask

Yup. That's my plan.

Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on October 04, 2019, 11:10:25 AM
Boy, do I have to keep a grip on my imagination (and my fears).

Called the T, explained to her that I'd liked her a lot, but one moment had troubled me: when there was some dialogue and I'd had a facial reaction to something M said and she said something to the effect of: I see a look on your face...snotty. I told her I was startled by it and it had stuck with me, and wondered if I'd misunderstood.

She remembered it clearly and said that right after her observation, I'd said: Sometimes I have an edge, and I want to work on that. (True.) She also apologized for using an offensive descriptor, and said it was her challenge -- she uses the wrong word sometimes because English isn't her first language. (She's from Switzerland, grew up with German and French and Italian).

I found all that a fair and transparent explanation, accepted her apology, and feel better. It's hard for me to trust, and there's nobody more important to trust than a T. But I think her explanation was honest and reasonable. So if after we interview one or two others, M prefers her, I could work with her too. Maybe a shred of worry (paranoia?) that she might dislike me, but I don't think it's true.

Our next T-interview is with a Sikh, male. M is pleased that we can have any choice from a different culture. I think me going along with that, if I feel comfortable with that potential-T, is a good idea. Because some of the tensions between us are about cultural differences, as well as our histories.

So there it is. A word. Dealt with. I could parse everything all day long but that'd take me away from obsessing over the news!

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on October 04, 2019, 08:07:45 PM
I wonder if you'll like the Sikh T, Hops.

You have equal input in the selection. or something close?

Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on October 04, 2019, 08:42:00 PM
Probably will like him. The Skih faith has scripted complete equality for men and women for a verrrrrrry long time. My friend, a local public servant until he retired, is Sikh. A lovely, radiant human being. Ailing now, sadly.

And of course. M and I will decide together. Never crossed my mind that would mean anything other than equal input; he's never expressed anything different, either.

Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on October 09, 2019, 11:01:33 AM
I'm glad M and I are going to do this counseling. Still waiting on second appointment, but the more I think about her, the more I sense it'll probably be the first person we saw. I like her. Talked over the whole weird-word incident with my own T and she seemed to feel good about how I described the couples-T. How she'd behaved during the session, how attuned she was to each of our behaviors, etc. That was reassuring.

I think it's going to be possible, whomever we see, for me to describe the impact of M's sort of overwhelming verbal and manic behavior on me, and how despite truly loving him, I also associate him with a lot of extra stress. I think he'll try to tone it down once I learn comfortable ways to assert my need for him to. He has reacted very well most of the time.

I'm feeling the need to get across to him how strongly I feel the need to reduce emotional stress, and ask him to be my ally and supporter in that. I have a heart issue and post-stroke stuff I'm still thinking and worrying about, and it'd help if he'd try to contribute calm. He thrives on nonstop stimulation and excitement but I know he has another channel, too. You can't write 17 books unless you know how to be still.

Anyhow, tonight we're doing dinner with friends and then a political event with a national journalist, in the renovated huge old cinema I went to as a child that always feels magical to me. I'm looking forward to it. (The place has the old-school lit-up marquee with a thousand lights. Grand interior. Sill love it.)

Hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on October 09, 2019, 12:20:04 PM
I'm very behind on posts, Hops, so just starting to catch up and I wondered, might you and M be able to sign up to some sort of relaxing/no talking type activity?  Yoga, tai chi, singing classes, a drumming group, just something that's known to bring stress levels down and where talking is just not part of what's on offer?  I wondered if it might be something you could try alongside the therapy sessions - it would mean you know you get at least an hour with M without him speaking :)  And I wondered if him getting into something that is more about how he feels on the inside rather than how he projects himself to other people (which I guess is what the constant talking is all about?) might just calm him down a bit and help him see he can be wonderful and lovely without needing to talk constantly :)

The T does sound good; I was a bit taken aback when you said she said you looked "snooty" (I'd have been offended by that!) but it's good that you were able to talk and see that she perhaps just didn't choose the right word (easy enough to do, even when using your first language, never mind your second).

The old cinema sounds amazing, have a lovely, lovely time :) xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on October 09, 2019, 01:28:09 PM
Thanks, Tupp.
I appreciate the idea as it's a good one.

I did mention doing meditation together at one point and he was receptive.
After he heard about my exercise class he joined, it became sort of his baby and I dropped out.

My great preference would be for him to learn and practice meditation on his own. He's so eager to do things with me that it becomes about that. And I would probably find his presence distracting.

We could try it at one of our homes a couple times, with a recording or video, and see how it goes...

It's a good thought. And thank you for it! (Don't worry about being "behind" -- we're all up to our collarbones in life and it happens to all of us.)

Hugs,
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on October 09, 2019, 03:37:09 PM
Hmmm...
silent couples activities.

Salt cave? 

Silent retreat?  I bet a silent retreat (very short one) would kick start the meditation routine.


As long as M is receptive, and positive, and participating.... it's all good: )
Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on October 10, 2019, 11:38:16 PM
Well, this is a different take, odd but kind of neat.

Remember how I've mentioned that M's restless hands drive me crazy, his fingers always twiddling and jumping so that it's unpleasant for me to hold hands with him?

Just on a hunch I ordered him one of these and loves the thing!
https://www.fidgetland.com

He had it with him at a recent event we went to and kept it busy the whole time and genuinely seems to benefit. He even mentioned to me that he "tries so hard" to remember not to grab my hand and the fiddler has helped. He laughs about it but I was surprised he actually had it on hand. And his little comment made me recognize that he really isn't being purposefully oblivious but actually struggles.

I think maybe he's had the hyperactive kind of ADD his whole life and never been helped at all with it. He also clearly has the hyper-focus part, which helps his career...and maybe some more ADD techniques will ease some of the manic behavior I find so challenging.

He's joked about it a lot but seems ironically delighted I got it for him.

Hops-a-D....D


Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on October 12, 2019, 04:51:08 AM
Well, this is a different take, odd but kind of neat.

Remember how I've mentioned that M's restless hands drive me crazy, his fingers always twiddling and jumping so that it's unpleasant for me to hold hands with him?

Just on a hunch I ordered him one of these and loves the thing!
https://www.fidgetland.com

He had it with him at a recent event we went to and kept it busy the whole time and genuinely seems to benefit. He even mentioned to me that he "tries so hard" to remember not to grab my hand and the fiddler has helped. He laughs about it but I was surprised he actually had it on hand. And his little comment made me recognize that he really isn't being purposefully oblivious but actually struggles.

I think maybe he's had the hyperactive kind of ADD his whole life and never been helped at all with it. He also clearly has the hyper-focus part, which helps his career...and maybe some more ADD techniques will ease some of the manic behavior I find so challenging.

He's joked about it a lot but seems ironically delighted I got it for him.

Hops-a-D....D

Hops my son used to leap around a lot when we were out walking - I used to put rocks in his backpack because it calmed his system down.  Perhaps you could try it with M :)  Lol, only kidding, the fidget thing sounds like a great idea.  It made me wonder if M (and you!) might benefit from an assessment with someone who specialises in sensory difficulties?  I don't know what you would call someone like that in the States; they are few and far between in the UK but virtually all of my son's problems are sensory in their origins and the advice we've had about ways to help calm his system and keep him level have been really helpful.  Just thought I would mention it in case it helps; I'm glad the fidget thing has helped and that he was happy you got it for him.  I guess it's a sign to him that you really want things to work and are trying to find ways to make that happen, which would make anyone happy :) xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on October 12, 2019, 11:18:36 AM
That's a really great thought, Tupp.  Sometimes we spend time focused on a problem, and can't see the forest for the trees.  Finding a cause seems like the logical place to start with any issue we're trying to solve,  IME.

Hops, what a wonderful gesture.  To offer a concrete act of care in your mission of support for the relationship, and M's struggle.

I'm a big fan of being proactive, particularly with childcare, and soothing ourselves in adulthood. 

I have things to occupy my hands when in public, traffic, in the house.... so does my sister.   

Some people bite their nails, fidget, etc.

We can be life learners if we're able to look honestly at what's working and what needs tweaked. 

I think M knows you're a tremendous asset and partner, Hops.

Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on October 12, 2019, 01:03:47 PM
Thanks, guys. You are so thoughtful and supportive, it blows my mind.

I think I won't explore new kinds of "treatment" or "evaluation" for M at this point, mainly because I've already got the poor man into two kinds of therapy -- his own T, and soon our couples T.

But gradually it might be useful to give him more info on ADHD (not that he couldn't look it up himself...). I generally don't want to direct his personal growth or visualize him as a project, but as long as he is this open and motivated, I can share comments and observations ... and fidget devices! If I mention those things, like sensory processing and ADHD a bit more...maybe he'll bring something up in his own work with his own T.

What's fascinating about M is his actual brilliance, and how that has driven a remarkable career. The couple-T we met on Monday asked him some astute questions, including who was the favorite (ie, "golden") child in your family? M immediately said, I was. And M spoke about the extreme privilege he grew up with.

He was the only one who broke away from the family expectation that he become a bigwig in one of the largest businesses in Central America. He went off to be a scholar and took that all the way to the top. He said his father once told him, You had the courage to do what I never could. And his sister said similar things.

One thing I love is that in both of these exploratory couple-T sessions, I've spoken very openly and descriptively about my observations and reactions to M, and painting his frustrating qualities vividly. And yet there is no blowback whatsoever from M afterward. He seems glad to hear what I actually think, and motivated to understand. He has immense learning capacity and never reacts negatively, even when I describe behaviors I think would be hard to hear about in front of a stranger.

So I'm feeling better about our prospects these days. He's coming over tonight for an indoor picnic and flick.

Hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on October 13, 2019, 04:58:36 AM
Thanks, guys. You are so thoughtful and supportive, it blows my mind.

I think I won't explore new kinds of "treatment" or "evaluation" for M at this point, mainly because I've already got the poor man into two kinds of therapy -- his own T, and soon our couples T.

But gradually it might be useful to give him more info on ADHD (not that he couldn't look it up himself...). I generally don't want to direct his personal growth or visualize him as a project, but as long as he is this open and motivated, I can share comments and observations ... and fidget devices! If I mention those things, like sensory processing and ADHD a bit more...maybe he'll bring something up in his own work with his own T.

What's fascinating about M is his actual brilliance, and how that has driven a remarkable career. The couple-T we met on Monday asked him some astute questions, including who was the favorite (ie, "golden") child in your family? M immediately said, I was. And M spoke about the extreme privilege he grew up with.

He was the only one who broke away from the family expectation that he become a bigwig in one of the largest businesses in Central America. He went off to be a scholar and took that all the way to the top. He said his father once told him, You had the courage to do what I never could. And his sister said similar things.

One thing I love is that in both of these exploratory couple-T sessions, I've spoken very openly and descriptively about my observations and reactions to M, and painting his frustrating qualities vividly. And yet there is no blowback whatsoever from M afterward. He seems glad to hear what I actually think, and motivated to understand. He has immense learning capacity and never reacts negatively, even when I describe behaviors I think would be hard to hear about in front of a stranger.

So I'm feeling better about our prospects these days. He's coming over tonight for an indoor picnic and flick.

Hugs
Hops

I think you're wise not to force him into too many things, Hops, it is hard to find the line between helping and creating a project, as you say.  It's so lovely tor read that the sessions are going well (from the point of view that they aren't causing animosity between you afterwards).  The indoor picnic sounds lovely, I hope you both had a really good time :) xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on October 13, 2019, 11:44:08 AM
Hops:

How did the picnic go?  If anyone watched VICTORIA, there was a fireside picnic for the King and Queen after they were lost, then found by an Irish couple who took them in, not realizing who they were, fed them by the fire, and gave them their little peasant bed for night. 

When Victoria returned to England she had a little fireside picnic with Albert to bring back the simplicity, and joy of those moments
.
I hope yours was every inch as enchanting, Hops.  IMHO creating these kinds of memories is the best.

Lighter

Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on October 13, 2019, 08:33:43 PM
Picnic was lovely. We went over to my neighbor's to taste her beta batch of a new spicy chutney she'll be marketing through a local cidery. Yum. Then had our tapas and wine and wound up listening to my friend's CD...she is gone now (killed in an awful intentional accident by a homicidal/suicidal man escaping his murder of his gf, years ago now). But her extraordinary voice and talent remain and M just fell in love with her music.

Tonight we had a lovely dinner out and won't see each other until I arrive in SF a week from now. We have been so much more relaxed with each other since seeing those two potential couple-Ts, it's odd. I think we were stuck and needed that third party help...so we both seem much more peaceful and even more committed. Feeling very good about it all right now.

Hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on October 14, 2019, 07:47:45 AM
Well....
your post started my mouth to watering. 
Chutney, and cider, and spicey, oh my: )

Then I was yanked sideways by the music piece, and loss of your lovely friend.  I find people want to deny and minimize violence in our culture, particularly for women and children, and then it's touching your life, infringing, engulfing, taking lives of people you know and love.  So frustrating, and in many cases avoidable, IME.  Some voices have no power in this culture.  Will you share your friend's voice with the board, Hops?

You sound relaxed, and comfortable right now.  It's nice to read you're finding your stride with M. 

Lighter





Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on October 14, 2019, 09:05:23 AM
I hope you enjoy San Fran, Hops. You might see things you don't so much enjoy, if the media reports are to be believed. (I remain Skeptical of everything I read these days. And I need a whole factory to separate out the scarce facts from opinions.)

I think you'll have a lovely adventure! I want one too.  :(  But I'm on hold for that now.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on October 14, 2019, 01:22:53 PM
Hi Lighter,
She was a much-beloved founding member of a well-known acoustic group that did very sophisticated, jazzy, bluegrassy folk. I knew her through another circle. We weren't the closest friends but I did invite her to co-create a service at my church that was pretty amazing. I did a sermon on loneliness and she did the music. Congregation was absolutely spellbound. Later she moved [away] to direct a large chorus that traveled the world. People from all over came for her service.

Her end was beyond tragic. He had just killed his gf and intentionally crossed the highway and drove headfirst into her car (to take himself out, they think). And so, took her life as well. She had just come back for a meeting about possibly reuniting with the original group and was on her way to town in her rental car.

Her voice will be around forever; she was much loved and respected and recordings remain. Some aren't easy to find though. Her best album was called _______. Extraordinary.

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on October 14, 2019, 04:25:49 PM
Thanks, Amber. I love SF. Worked in Silicon Valley and spent a good bit of time there.
I know social problems have worsened but I'm not shocked. Just sad to see.

There's transparency there...when all the neglect and sorrow are visible in the open.
I'm more comfortable with that sad ugliness than with ghettos and gated enclaves
that protect us from seeing what legacy inequalities, indifference to mental illness
and the results of abuse, and viewing many human beings as discardable has done.

Happy for the tech-wealthy who are so enjoying one of the most magical and
beautiful places in the country. Too bad about everyone else, who can't afford to
keep living there any more. And not because they don't work hard.

Luckily for M's sons, they are successful and well off, in a lovely town about an
hour from SF. All the best of the Bay and Sonoma, none of the rest. I'm genuinely
happy for them and looking forward to exploring that lovely area with M.

But mostly, to cradling a new baby girl I may be lucky enough to love and know
for years to come!

Hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on October 14, 2019, 06:08:51 PM
 BABY!

I so want to cradle that baby girl too, Hops.

Enjoy: )

Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on October 15, 2019, 06:16:18 PM
OOOOOOO babies are SO wonderful. I spend time just looking at them, while holding them, wondering what kind of person they'll choose to be. And giving that unconditional attention and gentleness... that let's 'em know whatever they choose is A-OK.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on October 27, 2019, 09:07:13 AM
Home at last, sick as a dawg, but happy I went!

Will catch up and also fill y'all in asap...but it'll be
a few days before I feel I can write coherently.

What is it about airplanes?????

Hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on October 27, 2019, 09:52:38 AM
My theory is some evil mad scientist designed airplanes as the perfect incubator for viruses and bacterial infections Hops. Moooooooahahahahaha....     :D


Feel better soon!
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on October 27, 2019, 05:25:21 PM
The cabin pressure. 
Sitting stationary for hours. 
Re breathing everyone's gases, and bathroom air... bleck.

Not to mention dehydration, and how difficult it is to NOT touch our faces with our hands..... all those surfaces touched by SO MANY PEOPLE. 

The salty processed snacks in airports, and on planes don't help, IME.

The mistake of having an alcoholic beverage, or two, further dehydrating us, and feeding everything terrible in the body with sugar and carbs.

Poor sleep from travel. 

Upset systems from travel.... is it just me, or does everyone have trouble going to the bathroom when far from home?  I think it's most people.  The toxins build up, we feel bloated, and are even less likely to stay on top of clean water intake, IME.  If we're drinking more alcohol AND eating food that aren't great for us, it shows up after a day of travel for me. 

I often make really bad food choices when traveling under stressful circumstances.   

Feel better, Hops. I want to hear everything: )

Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on October 28, 2019, 07:34:06 PM
I didn't eat bad food and drank no alcohol...tons of water tomato juice...I figure I picked up the virus on the first flight and it flowered after a few days. I only wish I hadn't held little V (2 weeks old) for an hour the night before I got symptoms! But all reports since have said she's fine. CB, I might actually try a mask. And Lighter, the surfaces thing...that is so true. Planes are definitely not sanitized, so every tray table, light or air or call button or seatbelt buckle or bathroom handle...all must be freaking petri dishes. Yikers. Maybe another trip I'll take along some disinfectant wipes and get serious about trying to reduce that vulnerability. How to avoid touching face, when putting glasses on and off much less blowing nose over 8 hours...hard one. But I'll try to do something! We've got Costa Rica for the holidays and Spain in spring and maybe a return trip to CA in March. I need to survive!

The good stuff. This part of M's family is LOVELY. The sons are brilliant, sensitive, kind. The DILs are kind, also very smart (didn't have as much time) and so welcoming. The kids (two boys 6 and 2, plus new little girl) are amazing. Older boy and I hit it off and little guy was so cute. Liked playing games and dragging me down the sidewalk to see a "tractor" (fork lift). I can imagine many happy times ahead feeling grandma-ish! As to the newborn, In Love. Since the dad wasn't able to contribute (childhood illness made him sterile) they used donor sperm and Mom egg. They chose based on qualities (science and art genes) they liked...and she's African American plus several other interesting ethnicities I can't recall. Beautiful, strong looking baby. Big feet and long fingers, so she'll be an Olympic swimmer-concert pianist, of course. I felt very happy being among them all. They explicitly welcomed me, the oldest said "I'm glad you're part of our family" and I just melted. So much fun. They seemed also to enjoy me rolling my eyes at M at times, with shared grins.

One of the DILs sent me home-made elderberry syrup to help fight the cold. A son sent me a pomegranate from his front yard. I spent the last two days lolling about at the hotel, which was quirky and fun if not super comfy. I called it "The Hotel Where Old People Go to Hurt Themselves" because it was tall on charm and eccentric decor but short on practicality. Lovely old renovated Victorian with three spiffed-up Airstreams out back in a cute garden. I got them to fetch me an actual reading lamp. M said every time he showered he was anxious. Cute clawfoot tubs with a curved bottom and no grab bars. So we'll stay somewhere more conventional next time but I wouldn't mind staying there again. Nice breakfasts and interesting people around.

Feeling much better today and having dinner with M Wednesday. He brought groceries because as usual, I had no staples, and friends have been in touch to hear about the trip. Will be seeing several later in the week.

Have my stroke followup appt with a neurologist tomorrow afternoon. Fingers crossed. Almost cancelled it but then figured I might have to wait months if I rescheduled. So I'll go cough at her.

I am so far behind on your posts and that'll be my favorite thing tomorrow.

love to all,
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: CB123 on October 28, 2019, 09:52:43 PM
I hope you take the elderberry syrup, Hops! It works! I started taking mine (preventive) today.

CB
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on October 29, 2019, 04:34:13 PM
[Shifted health stuff over to the Health Updates thread...]

Newish relationship news:
M and I really do travel well together. That's a delight.

Now he's asking if I'll go to Buenos Aires next August. My first impulse was jeez, gotta slow down. (And, I was sick on the way home for the second time.) But, I'm starting to rebound with a sense of adventure. This is just craaaaaaaaaaaaaaazy. If we keep it up, it's a LOT more than I'm used to. I hadn't been across the pond or out of the country (one business trip to Canada excepted) since '75.

Since I met M nine months ago, the travel picture has been:
Paris last summer
California just now
Costa Rica in Dec-Jan
[he also suggested London in June, I demurred but could change my mind]
Spain/Portugal in April
now, maybe, Buenos Aires in August

This feels normal to him (he gets paid trips paid because he a visiting lecturer, pays for my room and food and sometimes flight, if he forgets to use his FF miles)... but it's WACKY to me. And the dog/house-sitter is nibbling away at my anemic emergency fund.

Trying to get my head around all this jet setting. Speaking of which, carbon offsets don't do it, so there's the climate warming guilt.

Other R thing. I'm still trying to figure out whether M's constant talking is just an insecurity tic or is narcissistic. I'm spooked about the latter because my mother did that constantly and it cost me too much, and because of her I'm so well-groomed to fall in love with sparkly, self absorbed people. He behaves adoringly and then I notice that there is SO much I-I-I in his monologues, how rarely he actually tunes into me and how poorly he listens.

We've barely starting couples counseling, though. I need to be brave enough to ask the N-questions there. And despite sometimes feeling that he wants me as a companion largely because I'm smart, offer him good banter and good company...and he feels better about himself having an "attractive"  woman....I also think in his own way he does love me.

It's a big conundrum and I have a fair amount of paranoia about it. So our work ain't done. He keeps proposing and I keep putting on the brakes. I just tell him, we have our work to do, still, first....

Just rambles. Thanks for listening to them.

love
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on October 30, 2019, 02:10:16 PM
Will unpack and respond to this lovely update, Hops.  So g l ad you had a good trip.

Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on October 31, 2019, 04:07:52 AM
The trip sounds amazing, Hops.  I'm so glad M's family were so welcoming and made you feel so at home.  I'm sorry you picked up a bug, though!  I hope that clears up soon and doesn't leave you too wiped out.

The travel plans sound amazing and a jet set life style has its appeal.  I get what you're saying about the jet lag, health problems, dog sitter costs and carbon guilt, though.  It's difficult to find a balance between making the most of opportunities and not leaving yourself skint and worn out in the process.  So I hope there's a mid point you can find because traveling around a bit sounds lovely.

The insecurity/anxiety/narcissism bit is a difficult one.  I'm glad you've got T's, both alone and together to guide you through it.  I do wonder about the boundaries between various neurological conditions and personality and/or mental health problems.  I've been thinking about my own mum and wondering that if she is an undiagnosed autistic, possibly born to another undiagnosed autistic, parenting possibly two undiagnosed autistics - in a world where autism was still misunderstood and almost undetected in women - if the experience of not being heard, seen, accepted as she is or was triggered the other stuff that happened over the years.  So I do wonder how many of these things overlap and intertwine.  All of that is theoretical, though.  I think, in practical terms, what matters, is whether those 'dodgy' bits are things we can cope with and that don't harm us?  And I guess that is different for each of us.  Our experiences from family members can make us more sensitive, which can be good or bad, depending on which way you look at it :)  But you are a smart cookie and you have good professional help, plus M does seem genuinely interested in working on the relationship with you (I kind of think an N would be blaming you for the situation and not accepting they might have a part to play?  He seems to be willing to accept he might need to change a bit to keep your fire burning :) ).  I hope you can find a way through, whichever way it might be.  I am looking forward to catching upon all the other threads :) xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on November 01, 2019, 03:27:24 PM
Thanks very much, Tupp. Insightful and on-point as ever.
I really appreciate what you said here:

Quote
M does seem genuinely interested in working on the relationship with you (I kind of think an N would be blaming you for the situation and not accepting they might have a part to play?  He seems to be willing to accept he might need to change a bit to keep your fire burning :)

You're right about all this. I think it's why I'm still with him, when I've ended other relationships over less. The sweet, good, core of M keeps showing me over and over that this is very real and sincere to him, and that beside whatever less-romantic motives he may have, M really does value me deeply. We may have somewhat different notions of love but I believe we're offering each other our realest selves to the degree we can access them. I think his anxiety, over-proving, over-talking, over-persuading behavior is just a lifelong drive he's had to prove himself, for core family issues he's never really unpacked. Including being a golden child in a wealthy family parented more by servants, though he maintains great love for his parents. He's still compensating for something. But his playful, open and exuberant nature, plus the brilliance, are wonderful qualities to be around.

Whew. I'm just very grateful that he is so open and willing to do "whatever it takes" for our relationship. Maybe it's because I seem like a last major goal to him. Maybe it's because his brief months as a widower overwhelmed him (lot of silence). Maybe it's because all the ways we DO "get: each other are as remarkable to him as he declares they are. Or I'm cute and purty and witty. Or something.

I do love him. I just don't believe love is all you need. We're doing the work, and I think what's hard for him is the pace. He'd like to rush from episodes of intense happiness directly to GOAL. Buy the house get married and it's ANCHORED. I think he views me as an anchor he's desperate not to lose. I don't want to lose him either. I think going back to life and my image of old age before I met him could be very bleak. But I've got a deep determination to build a foundation that is real and not fantasy based.

BTW, I was relieved when he found out that Buenos Aires would be too close to the start of the academic year. Enough trips in the quiver for me....

Hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on November 01, 2019, 06:07:22 PM
It is good that he's open to working on things, Hops, and I'm so happy to hear that the lovely bits about him are still very much evident (I think if it was show to woo you in the early days it would be fading by now).  He does sound like a caring person and yep, I can see that he may have had to prove himself endlessly throughout his life and it's deeply ingrained in him now.  And I think you're right; you do need more than love and a real foundation rather than a picture of what you hope it might be like (as you mentioned on the other thread about visualising relationships and then being crushed when they don't work out).  Real and imperfect as opposed to pretend and endlessly wonderful :)  I'm am keeping all fingers crossed that things continue to work out for you :) xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on November 02, 2019, 11:08:27 AM
Hops:

I think travel is very stressful, IME. 

It's a testament to how well you and M are doing that you not only enjoyed each other very much, but you also enjoyed meeting his family, and forming new attachments.

I think M truly does love and value you as a companion, and partner.  He cares what you think and feel.  He wants to come to a place where you're both happy, and he seems to be working very hard to that end.

I'm very happy for you both.

Hope you feel better soon.

Lighter   
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on November 09, 2019, 02:03:27 PM
How're you feeling Hops? Over the bug?

What happening with you & M? Still smooth sailing? Starting to relax with and into each other yet?
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on November 09, 2019, 03:26:05 PM
You're right, Tupp:
Quote
Real and imperfect as opposed to pretend and endlessly wonderful
That's exactly it. When I talked to him about "building the foundation" he was very receptive. I think a lot of tension has evaporated recently because of two things:
--I haven't budged and he's still wonderful
--We've shelved-for-now one struggle we were having (his panic over sexual intimacy because of his surgery, which I had compassion for but was ultimately unable to relax with because he over-ran me in a very vulnerable state like a bulldozer in his anxiety, so he gets to work on that for now with his own T...unless later we try again, which I'm sure we will)
--He's more than willing to do couples-T. I have a feeling we'll see big benefits rather quickly. The relief we both felt after even the preliminary sessions was clear.

Lighter, you're right. I believe he genuinely loves me too. It's been nine months and my trust in him and his intentions has increased a lot. He IS working at it. I'm not as much. But I think that's the real situation and I'm okay with that. When I do have to dig deep, I will. But for now I'm holding some information and questions for couples-T. M still has a lot to do about learning to listen. Meanwhile, we play well together and always enjoy each other's company. I was in a sad/bad mood the other day and told him I ought not to expose him, had nothing to do with us...and he called and so sweetly told me to come over no matter what mood I was in, he loved me as I am, I could not listen to him, and we'd put on great music, and I went and he was just lovely and my bad mood turned happy. This appears to be what being loved feels like! He wasn't (for a change) being controlling, just kind.

Skep, bug is 90% gone, though this cold snap won't help.

We are definitely beginning to relax together more. We are truly a "WE." The trip and the family happies was significant (and Costa Rica for the others will be a big deal too -- verrrrry different from the young California families). CR is where all the headstones and generations of Big Deal Family History and Upper Social Strata Hyper-Wealth stuff is concentrated. I am un-intimidated (ancient history, but first boyfriend's family had similar resources) but very curious. I know his sister will be great. Turns out his industrialist brother is deeply evangelical (Central America crazytown style) and am glad I know that. I can handle folks of all sorts because I just go with kindness and warmth and usually all goes well. M is much loved, greatly admired, etc. in that place. I am curious to see how he manages all those ancient heavy vibes. I'm glad he hasn't sold his condo there yet so we'll have a peaceful place to retreat to. I'm packing light and basically bringing myself. As is.

We are enjoying each other much more now. Decided to keep Tgiving simple (he had been talking about cooking and hosting and I said I'd sous-chef but generally have downplayed and detached from holidays for a decade). So we're going to a potluck at my church, a place he's curious about but hasn't explored, which he thinks will be interesting.

ONE thing I'm clear about with M is that he has NOOOOOO tolerance for boredom and to be happy requires steady stimulation. I don't feel obliged to entertain him (although evidently I often do, since our conversations are very lively) ... but this strikes me as the perfect way to avoid stress and keep his brain busy!

Should be good. And thanks for checking in about us.

Hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on November 14, 2019, 01:11:17 AM
A simple Thanksgiving sounds like the best kind, Hops.  I love simplicity, whichever form it takes.  I think there's something really warm about it - like it's the intention that matters, not how much money you spend or how fancy everything is.  I like that.

I do wonder if M has spent a lot of time around people who wanted or needed him to be in control - lead the conversation, make the decisions, tell everyone what to do.  Some lead and some follow.  I know there are times when I feel like everyone I know is waiting for me to tell them what to do and how to do it (and I used to as well, these days I tend not to).  I think it's amazing that he's willing to make attempts to keep things good between you.  What you said about him being so kind when you were in a bad mood was so sweet.  It all sounds very lovely :) xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on November 16, 2019, 07:59:18 AM
Me too, Tupp. I love simple entertaining, celebrating, etc. M has an affinity for formality, but that's fine. I know all the rules and tricks from being sous-chef and butler for so many of my parents' dinner parties (and Nmom's obsession with formal etiquette). If M wants to do those now and then, I can help and participate. But the rest of the time, just having friends stop by as they are is what makes me happiest.

I've noticed that we've socialized a ton with my friends, casually and easily. But M's friendships seem to be all based in colleague relationships. I do think they're his friends, but there's a level of professors-at-salon to it that's a little lacking for me. I know he loves intellectual discourse better than just about anything. But I don't know of a male friend he'd call for help if he was injured or depressed. I think in his life it's more been women who've been the people to be close to. With his male friends, the egos and intellectual competitiveness are always on display.

I need both. People who come by in holey Tshirts and some with whom I have dynamic conversations about life and relationships and the country, etc. A lot looser.

Maybe I'm providing that freer connection for M. And he's providing stability for me.

As to M's controlling/leading side...I think some of that he enjoys (too much!) and some is a burden from family expectations. I hope he continues in therapy and learns more about himself. I hope as he gets older, those insights will be as interesting to him as studying cultural histories has been. He seems amazed when the penny drops and he makes a connection about something psychological. Not as much of a navel-gazer as I am, but he does have a curious mind.

Hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on November 16, 2019, 10:34:17 AM
It's nice that he's keen to learn, Hops, and that he sees it as a good thing to venture into.  Yes, I like a range of people, I think most guys I know tend to have work related friends rather than any other kind.  I don't know if work is a bigger part of their lives?  Whereas a lot of women fit it around kids, home and looking after older relatives (not that men don't do these things but I think often women do more of that).  So perhaps we come into contact with a wider range of people.  I think you sound like a good mix for each other :) xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on November 17, 2019, 10:42:24 PM
Definitely, CB!
I understand it; it just saddens me for him. (And it also can put a bit of extra stress on the female in a relationship if a man has little closeness with male friends. I notice M is basically mostly "masked", even with the men he's known for years.) But I agree he's past able to change this much, and I'm content being his person, not expecting to change that!

I don't mind the occasional more formal thing and am happy to sous-chef. M doesn't do those events that often, and he's always happy to get together with my friends which is casual and usually fun, except when he dominates conversation to the point I feel embarrassed. (One time though, a gathering included a couple of gay women, and when he tried his usual running the conversation the one next to him just ignored him and kept talking, unimpressed. I was glad! I don't think he's been around that many women who push back directly.) I continue to see my friends alone and always will. So when he really craves full-on dinner party stuff, I'm glad to go along.

Despite all the above, we're doing well. Love feelings intact, and our next meeting with the counselor tomorrow. A lot of tension has drained away since he agreed to do this, with no reluctance at all. We still have a few areas to work through about intimacy, which I'll find difficult to talk about in a room with two males, but we'll get there. (Or we'll go off to another T at some point who specializes.)

It's work, but it's worth it. I generally delight in his company. He turned up last night with a huge bunch of roses for no reason. And he's adorable with my pooch.

Hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on November 19, 2019, 09:29:20 AM
I'm glad you're still doing OK with M, Hops.

I hope the next T appointment gives you lots of good information to make decisions on.

Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on November 19, 2019, 05:04:31 PM
Thanks, Tupp and Light.

I don't so much think it's decision-making (or in the short-term) that's my goal.
For me, for now, my goal in couples-T is to literally use the presence of the T as a guardrail, to help us listen to and learn more about each other.

M often seems SOOOO overstimulated and giddy in my presence that mature mutual dialogue is hard. Though he's been calmer and more adult with me lately. What I enjoy with the T is that interrupting is derailed, the pace calms, and when M is holding forth I can observe him quietly, and vice versa.

Early days, but I'm enjoying this process. It may sometimes be a bit like being a loving witness to some individual-T work on M's part, but I'm sitting there.

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: CB123 on November 19, 2019, 08:22:29 PM
Your comment about the giddyness and overstimulation making conversation difficult, is interesting, Hops.

Do you have a handle on what is behind that? You know I have seen that kind of thing sometimes in my kids. Do you feel like he is just like that with you, or with everyone?

Pretty wise of you two to have a way to work this out with professional early on.

CB
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on November 20, 2019, 02:28:11 AM
CB, I honestly think it's the H in ADHD.
(I have the A and two Ds, but rarely the H part.)

M is a whirlwind at times. In the earlier part of our relationship, he was very anxious and hyper and ... giddy. I think he didn't know what to make of me but felt desperate after his huge loss to not lose me.

Since recent months, we've settled into a layer of commitment where he's calmed down, trusts my commitment is real if not quite as complete as his. And over time I've also communicated to him how that manic freaked-out stuff (which I think he thought was entertaining) was actually shredding my nerves. I think he was so caught up in his own feelings that it actually took him quite a while to observe that this over-the-top pursuit and over-reaction to Every Single Thing was not flattering me, it was overwhelming me.

The automatic fill-the-air-with-words (fear of silence) is still there, but better lately. It feels miraculous but I'm enjoying him more and more.

Thanks for asking, hon!

Hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on November 21, 2019, 12:56:20 PM
I had wedged the following into a reply on Farm Life, then realized it goes here. It's NOT anywhere near as true now -- M's behaving so much more naturally than he was when he was full-tilt compulsively-obey-fearsome-dead-grandmother's-formalities. I'm much more able to relax (less defensive) with some of his gentility reflexes (mostly on display in others' view). But I amused myself with these metaphors so what the heck:

....I trip over "protectiveness" in M's manly-Latin-man persona, just because it irritates me to bits. That's because unless I'm actually hurt or incapable, I don't NEED it, and it's like a reminder (in my case) of his need to display that he's the strong one, and I need "ushering" (errr, herding) to the table in a restaurant, to wait like a sheep beside the mare (err, chair) or gelding (errr, car door) until he scrambles around to grab the bridle (errrr, chair back/door handle), or to have the saddle cinched (errr, chair pulled out/reins taken) in case I was unaware that's how a horse (err, chair/car) actually works, despite my having arrived on my own (errr, feet on sidewalk/own butt in driver's seat) in the first place.

All my emoticons here are busted so visualize multi LOLs....and yes, I KNOW his intentions are pure and good. It's cultural stuff. What's fun is it's becoming more interesting than irritating with time. And he's beginning to notice how unconscious it is, himself. We still do the ballet but he's less often nearly-knocking-me-down in his devotion to every step of All The Rituals. (He's also seeing I do understand his intentions are not malign. Hardly.)
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on November 21, 2019, 07:06:51 PM
I'm glad you're feeling less defensive about all the formality, Hops.  My Step Father was all about that, in some ways.... it was very nice. 

I never warmed to being eyeballed at the dinner table, waiting for children's mistakes to be pointed out, and condemned.

But the car door opening, allowing a gentleman to lead in a restaurant when there's no one to seat us..... that was just OK by me. It felt special.... like warmth, and care and love.

I have to say it's annoying to wait for a door to be opened if I can get it over with more quickly, and get on, but there are kindnesses, and respect intended, IME.

I have a little time for those things, still.

Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on November 23, 2019, 04:23:08 AM
I had wedged the following into a reply on Farm Life, then realized it goes here. It's NOT anywhere near as true now -- M's behaving so much more naturally than he was when he was full-tilt compulsively-obey-fearsome-dead-grandmother's-formalities. I'm much more able to relax (less defensive) with some of his gentility reflexes (mostly on display in others' view). But I amused myself with these metaphors so what the heck:

....I trip over "protectiveness" in M's manly-Latin-man persona, just because it irritates me to bits. That's because unless I'm actually hurt or incapable, I don't NEED it, and it's like a reminder (in my case) of his need to display that he's the strong one, and I need "ushering" (errr, herding) to the table in a restaurant, to wait like a sheep beside the mare (err, chair) or gelding (errr, car door) until he scrambles around to grab the bridle (errrr, chair back/door handle), or to have the saddle cinched (errr, chair pulled out/reins taken) in case I was unaware that's how a horse (err, chair/car) actually works, despite my having arrived on my own (errr, feet on sidewalk/own butt in driver's seat) in the first place.

All my emoticons here are busted so visualize multi LOLs....and yes, I KNOW his intentions are pure and good. It's cultural stuff. What's fun is it's becoming more interesting than irritating with time. And he's beginning to notice how unconscious it is, himself. We still do the ballet but he's less often nearly-knocking-me-down in his devotion to every step of All The Rituals. (He's also seeing I do understand his intentions are not malign. Hardly.)

That did make me laugh, Hops.  I'm glad that you're finding it more interesting than irritating as time goes on.  I do know what you mean.  I'm not a fan of 'fluff' - the unnecessary stuff.  I like people who will muck in and help out.  If I'm under the weather, come and cut the grass - I don't want flowers.  And yes, the man stuff - please do deal with the spiders and go up in the loft but yes, I can open the car door myself lol.  I don't know what I'd do if man rushed to open a car door for me, I don't think that sort of thing is quite so usual here?  I'm struggling to think of a time a man did that for me (unless I had an armload of stuff to carry which, as you say, is when you do need someone to open the door for you).  Maybe we've knocked that out of British men lol xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on November 27, 2019, 07:14:27 AM
Hops, something Hol & I are actively working on... (re: criticism HEARD but not intended)...

is that we each OWN those attached "implied ulterior meanings" to things within our own minds/emotions and WE are the ones attaching those meanings a lot of times. Yeah, sure, sometimes there really IS a little dig or an unconscious/subconscious implied message involved. But it's not as often as I, or she, thinks... and that defensive reflex needs to get dialed back a little to facilitate actual conversation on the topic/issue.

Might not something similar be happening re: the "meaning" of those old world manners? At least sometimes?
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on November 27, 2019, 02:37:55 PM
Absolutely, Amber. No question about it!

M is just fairly unconscious how desperate his attempts to Obey Grandmother's Dictates Even if You Knock Someone Over Doing It can be.

Fortunately, with a little talk and some hilarity, we've found our own clunky ballet about it. Where it used to terrify my inner feminist it more often amuses me, now.

And what I needed to bring to the interactions is understanding (you should SEE the huge intimidating Central-American-aristocrat grandmother portrait) and humor. I've mostly gotten there.

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on November 29, 2019, 11:05:55 AM
That sounds workable Hops - for both of you.

Can you make a post-it mustache to put on Gramma's portrait? LOLOLOL.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on November 29, 2019, 02:08:45 PM
Amber, that is a BRILLIANT idea! I just may try it.
Except I fear for his mental health when he walks past and sees it unawares...

He really does VENERATE the ancestors. Sheesh. Maybe I need to come up with some hippie pagan ceremony to release their hold on his spirit.

But man, that portrait is tempting. It's the kind of thing one would normally encounter in a museum. I'm sure she loved him and he her, yet it's also a reminder that M grew up in Another World. Old school to the max.

And then he ran off to Berkeley, became a wild rebellious creature, and an obsessively successful historian! He really is brilliant, no exaggeration, and that is SO much fun to be around, most of the time. (Maybe his Grandma-reflexes are a way of holding on to parts of himself that otherwise got scattered to the winds when he left CR and plunged into 60's California culture.)

I love him. He makes me smile. I feel much happier and safer in life because of him. There's no understating what a difference he's made. I am LUCCCCCKKKKKYYYY.

Gratitude is my favorite emotion, and this is my favorite holiday. I need to remind myself to tune into it every single day.

Hugs
Hops

Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on November 30, 2019, 05:44:41 AM
I'm really glad things are going so well and you're happy, Hops.  You deserve to be happy so very much.  I'm reminded a little of when you first got Pooch - I seem to remember it was difficult at first and you were wondering if you should keep her or not?  But then it all settled down and became a full on love situation.  M is now Pooch :)  Lol.  I'm really pleased it's all going so well, even with Granny on the wall :) xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on November 30, 2019, 11:22:22 AM
Thank you, (((((((((Tupp))))))))))).

We do have some issues but are still doing couples counseling, just slowly,
since we signed up at a time when we were about to travel and same for him.
So I'm sure there will be some difficult work ahead, but equally sure we're both committed to doing our best with it.

We've slowed the pace of working out when/how to live together, which he says depends on selling his property in Costa Rica first. We'll find out. I try not to worry about that, although "am I leaving my little house?" looms. I guess the clear answer is of course I am. Just don't know when or where or how. That uncertainty is difficult for me but I understand his plan.

It's a real comfort to come here and summarize and spot-check everything as it goes along.

Big hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on December 06, 2019, 02:56:58 AM
M IS Pooch, Tupp! You got it!
I refuse to rub his belly, however.

She has become a beautiful sort of catalyst-connection-conveyance between us. I just love the interactions we have "through" her. Lots of laughter and affection and goofiness. He genuinely loves her and she has dropped her last resistance to him. It's been sweet to watch unfold.

And maybe she helped us get easier with our own affection too. It's far from "calm" but there are moments when we're settling down to an easy companionship. We went through some tensions, that's for sure. But something kept us trying and working at it, and now it keeps getting better.

One BIG thing is the couples-T. He's verrrrry insightful, to the point that even Brilliant M (who often slips into professor-who-knows-more-than-anyone-anywhere mode, alas) comes out excited, praising the T's "penetrating questions." We both feel really good about it and are, as I'd hoped, learning a lot more about each other with T's guidance. It feels very very good.

He controls M's interruptions and holds him to account for being dismissive on occasion. And he doesn't let me off the hook either. The nicest thing (which I never felt to this depth ever when I tried counseling with two husbands in the past) is that M and I feel CLOSER when we come out, MUTUALLY motivated and excited to be learning.

One invaluable thing I find in M is his eagerness to learn, which is evident in counseling despite the professor ego. Once we get into relationship issues, he seems open and fascinated and dedicated, and it really encourages me.

This is the first time I've been in early-days couple counseling and I'm experiencing a whole different kind of hope.

Hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on December 06, 2019, 04:11:12 AM
I think that sense that you're both working on it and genuinely want it to work is such a good thing, Hops, and so much nicer than what often happens, which is that couples go to counselling when nothing else has worked and neither one of them can really be bothered any more.  It's great that you got into it sooner rather than later.  Good on you for putting the idea forward and good on M for being so engaged with the process and so open to trying it out and doing something new.

The therapist sounds great.  You need someone who is almost like a referee.  It must be difficult counseling couples as you have to mind two sets of needs and wants, without letting one dominate over the other.  He sounds like a good find.

And I think pets can be such a good barometer of how things are around them.  The fact that Pooch and M are getting on so well is a good sign.  I'm really pleased that you are working through this together and that things are moving forward and giving you hope for the future :)  It's really lovely to read xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on December 06, 2019, 12:42:42 PM
Thanks, Tupp.
Wish you and son and the whole board were here so we could have a celebratory potluck! Lighter cooks, Amber splits wood (even though I don't have a fireplace), CB decorates, Bettyanne roasts her toes and relaxes, Mud bellows carols and Doc G takes notes. Anybody I left out comes by unexpectedly to drag us all outside to build snowpeople. (Even though there's no snow yet.)

Reality seems so...optional, sometimes.

Dunno if I mentioned that this couples-T is a sikh. When I first saw him my heart sank. But even in the first session his questions were so intelligent and his kindness evident. I had a huge struggle when I got home and explained to M that I would need one more "consultation" before I could decide whether to work with him (which I did because M had responded so positively). M was fine with it.

So in session 2 I just laid out all my baggage about religion, particulary the kind which includes gurus, and men-in-religion (my ex boss/wannabe N-guru, my grandfather-preacher who abused his daughters, my years-ago Christian therapist whom I saw despite initial hesitation because he seemed kind and I didn't want to prejudge but who pressured me into marrying my second husband because he was uncomfortable with me being single and sexually active--which he didn't let on until after the disastrous wedding night/honeymoon, my recently-ex minister who manipulated and berated congregants and projected his many issues onto us, and twisted things that happen in the culture now because of religion.

He listened very patiently, as did M. I told him I was concerned that because his religion is difficult to forget about because he wears it on his head (turban) and face (beard) I might have difficulty trusting him. He explained that he converted in the 60s when he was entirely f**d up and had met a group of people who were into it, and while he lived there (a communal thing, very common then) he would follow along and one day said to himself, I need a structure for myself, these people are good, and I just need to make a commitment, so he did. (I also told him one reason I was willing was that I had a kind sikh friend at church and that I had read enough to know that the skih scriptures stipulate that women and men are equal in every way.) It was a LOAD.

Anyhow, his answers were reasonable, transparent, and I just stopped fearing it. And now I'm glad I did. I don't share his vocabulary about "the divine in all people" but I do know what he means and feel at peace with it.

My own scraps of faith (undiagnosed faith, hah) have been severely depleted by what's gone on at my church, which makes me really sad. I read about all the typical activities coming up and am entirely uninspired. BUT...we will eventually be past the holiday period (which is painful) and within a year, will have a new minister. I may just wait until then to start going back to see how things are.

Big ramble...
hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on December 06, 2019, 12:53:38 PM
Well I'm impressed that you were able to go in and tell him all of that, Hops, because I know with me that sort of unpacking scares me silly and I avoid it and have just not gone back to T's I didn't feel comfortable with.  Something for me to work on in the future :)  I'm glad he was able to allay your fear and yes, I have to say I don't have a lot of faith in religion, for similar reasons.  The endless focus on virgins bothers me enormously along with the never ending stream of child abuse cases that seem to just keep coming.  Then there are the Magdalen laundries in Ireland, horrifying stories of the abuse that went on there and it's something that I read a lot about over the years due to my dad's Irish roots.  I would have felt uncomfortable too, but I wouldn't have been as brave as you to tell him :)  I'm glad he has turned out to be such a good egg xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on December 06, 2019, 02:02:06 PM
I didn't realize you'd chosen a particular T. 

This wonderful experience with a Sikh male T might be more healing than if you'd ended up with anyone else.   

To be heard, feel understood, embrace and be embraced.... and feel safe enough to speak your truth with these guys is very special, IME.  I'm so glad things are going well.

Thanks for that update, Hops.

Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on December 16, 2019, 12:02:37 AM
I don't like it when M explains to me what my feelings are about.

He explains EVERYTHING in all circumstances. Professoritis.

I can handle it mostly, and often enjoy it. But not always.

Feeling building anxiety about the big trip. Need to focus.

SOOOOO glad I have both-T appointments tomorrow!

Arrrrgggghhhh,
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on December 16, 2019, 06:02:55 PM
How did T go, Hops?

You're so good at speaking with compassion..... I can imagine it's hard to get your point across.

I sure hope the T straightened it out: )

Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on December 16, 2019, 08:06:35 PM
Well, my own T at 2:00 is a perfect setup for couples-T at 3:00 (half a block away). In the new year she'll have to change the day, but I enjoyed this while it lasted. There will be benefits from not doing both the same day too (one thing being I'll be less likely to make first-hour all about the second-hour...which isn't just for me).

It was good in both sessions. My T listened to me dump a lot of anxiety buildup over the trip and some of M's not-hearing-me behaviors. Then we went to couple-T, who is very smart and insightful and tends to be able to state the bottom line of what I'm struggling to describe. I think we were lucky to find him.

Long story short, he suggested that M respond to me setting a boundary with a specific phrase, "I hear you and I love you." As a way of reminding himself. And for me, he encouraged me to be willing to be more authoritative in my own behalf in terms of stating what I need (drawing boundaries) and not being fearful of sticking to it.

That was great. And because I've been feeling a need to focus on myself and not have so many M-messages (morning, afternoon and evening emails, plus periodic voicemails and an evening call) coming in at the moment, particularly as I'm gearing up for a long and daunting trip (plus holiday gifts for him and his family, etc)...T asked M, would it be all right with you if she makes the next step toward you, are you content to wait for that? M said, of course (never mind my past experience with him absolutely freaking out). I think in part he said it because he admires and wants to impress Sikh-T. Works for me!

We had a nice dinner together and then M said as he left, I'll wait to hear from you, and I just said thank you, that would be great. Interestingly, he came up instantly with two other "urgent" things he might still need to contact me about...(bringing over his fig plant so my housesitter can water it--hellloooo, we don't leave until the 23rd--and one other small pretext-for-contact that I can't recall). And I just said No, neither of those are urgent.

So we'll see. I'll probably just take a day or two to shake off the ritual contacts I'd begun to feel a little smothered by. And then be ready to receive (and even enjoy) them again. It's just the way I am. Comes a point when it feels as though he's literally programming me to never stop thinking about him for five minutes.

I think about him anyway. But he works MUCH too hard to ensure I never stop, and for me it's been getting out of balance. This T session was a huge help. I like the T a lot. He and I often connect through eye contact while M is on a talking roll. Not condescending, just a glance that tells me he completely sees all that's happening and is holding us both in a compassionate and very alert way.

Hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on December 17, 2019, 01:46:22 AM
Aw, Hops, the T does sound great, really good match for you, I would think, and somehow even nicer than he is Sikh, as I imagine a good experience with a religious person will be a good thing for you after so many negatives?  Provides a bit of balance for you :)

Yes, there are lines, aren't there?  Someone wanting to hear your voice is lovely.  Someone contacting you so often that you can't hear your own voice isn't.  I do get and understand that completely.  Some people really like that sort of constant contact but it's the sort of thing that drives me nuts :)  We're just all different, aren't we, in so many ways.  I'm really glad you and M have this nice T to help you through things and that M is taking it all onboard (at least in the office, at any rate!).  I hope he is able to ease off a little bit and let you breath through the holiday season, Hops.  It would be nice for you to be able to enjoy the time with his family xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on December 17, 2019, 11:37:09 AM
Quote
Someone wanting to hear your voice is lovely.  Someone contacting you so often that you can't hear your own voice isn't.  I do get and understand that completely.

Maybe YOU could be a sorta-T, Tupp!

Your responses to things are so succinct, compassionate and direct. Thank you.

Hey, they have online counseling these days....I'm sure there are sites that hire non-professionals who communicate well who can either correspond with someone or talk to them over Skype. Well, I'm not sure. I'm just making it up.

I would "counsel by email" any time. I read a few good advice columnists (Carolyn Hax at the Post started as a copyeditor, and so did Dear Prudence of Slate.com), most of whom are NOT psychologists...and always wished I could do that job.

Hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on December 20, 2019, 09:19:17 PM
Hi All,
I'll probably contradict myself by posting like mad over the next couple days, but just in case I don't, that'd mean I've yielded to reality and am trying to finalize my trip-prep in calm so I don't get all stressed before we leave Monday the 23rd. I may be able to post from Costa Rica but am generally hoping to go cold turkey, internet wise. I'll have access if I need it but hope I can stay more in the present moment and present place and busy absorbing whatever this new thing is going to be. (I'd better be open to learning all I can as I may be there twice a year.)

I'm in a much better place about the trip than I was. We'd worked out w/couple-T that I didn't want so much "checking in" contact withe M for a couple days, and the peace of that did me wonders!

Tonight we went to dinner and had a great time. M started when he got to the house after cuddles saying, "It was rough..." and I right away said, I understand, but those feelings are for you to work out in your own therapy. And he didn't argue! So I didn't let him make me responsible for soothing him and I think he actually got it. Big relief. Anyway, we really enjoyed being together.

Came back here and did early-Xmas gift exchange, since it'd be dumb to schlep presents to Central Am. He gave me a very thoughtful gift. A weighted blanket, which I'd once read for some folks with ADD and/or insomnia (mine's awful), can be very helpful. Perfect! I gave him a hinge-framed set of pix: one of us together at a restaurant I'd asked a server to take....and an epically cute one of him laughing with Pooch on his lap at a winery. I also gave him as a joke (unframed) a collage print of the same two, which for some reason came out with a fat bottom margin. On that space under the pic of we two I wrote with  a Sharpie, "100%" and under the one of him with Pooch,"49%." (That referred to our lengthy negotiation about who owns my dog, which we settled on being I own her 51% and he 49%, and his half is the back half.) He loved both. I also gave him a DNA kit, which I figure should be interesting for a historian. He's interested!

It was affectionate, relaxed and fun. I do love the man.

Turns out if I set and hold the boundaries I need, I'm freer to love him when I'm with him. Duh. Will take practice but I'm determined to get more comfortable with it.

So I'll probably be posting again very soon but either way, will definitely be typing here again by mid-January, latest.

In the meantime, Happy New Year early, y'all. I love you and send each of you mucho hopes for your happiness.

Hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on December 21, 2019, 09:52:48 AM
Hugs Hops... I hope you both have a lovely time! Sounds like a great idea to get away from the cold for a little bit.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on December 21, 2019, 12:06:02 PM
Hops!  I'm so glad you're feeling so relaxed around the trip.  That's wonderful: )

Take pictures. I used to keep travel journals with local plants, wine labels, and details I'd forget if not jotting things down.

We'll miss you!

Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on December 22, 2019, 12:15:09 PM
HA! While I'll miss Hops' warm unique way with words and compassion... I'm expecting a complete travelogue and romance story when she comes back!! LOL   (not really, but I am nosy...)

An amazon slumber party kind of thing...
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on January 09, 2020, 02:18:46 AM
Got in an hour ago...all is well.
Mellow Pooch, my sweet home.

It's going to take me a good while to catch up with y'all.
I read your posts every chance I got but could barely reply
with two-finger typing and episodic access. Missed being in
the daily flow here! And I'm sorry not to have offered support
to y'all every day as you always have me. I'll try to catch up
but please forgive me in advance if it's pretty inadequate.

SO much to say about this trip and I'm too wired to sleep so
I'll try at least a little summary.

It was exciting and wonderful to see Costa Rica and M's other life.
His family is very kind but so upper-class they are more formal than I enjoy.
But they liked me and I liked them too, despite the language barriers. At our
last dinner at an amazing restaurant in San Jose a woman came up to our
table and said she just had to tell us what fun it was to hear us bouncing
back and forth between languages. I was speaking English with M's brother
beside me on one side, French with his Chilean brother-in-law on the other
side. M was speaking mostly Spanish with his sister and other brother on
each side of him but English across the table to me, as his sister was too.
It was fun. The place was a huge old home originally owned by the Central
America equivalent of the Nabisco family, renovated into an astonishing place
by a couple of wealthy Canadians 18 years ago. For some reason there are
a lot of Canadian expats there.

Where to start. First few days we were in M's big condo (my house and a
half) that overlooks the city but closer in, a nature reserve. The combo makes
an amazing view. My favorite tree is called "fire in the forest" -- orange flowers
all over the canopy. Birds, you can imagine. The place is stunning and I'm happy
I got to stay there as he thinks it's finally sold, and is negotiating that now. Huge
relief for him as he was sick of managing it from the US and truly doesn't need
or want it any more. Those days included Xmas Eve and a few more visits with
family...all of whom (lost count) are really lovable and made me very welcome.

Next week was different. We were in M's house in the jungle in Guanacaste,
about four hours away on the Pacific coast. Really stunning property he designed
and planned from the house (with a tower like Hemingway's) to the gardens and
stone gateposts after a place in Spain he loved. He's extremely and deservedly
proud of it. Spacious, lovely, comfortable and very isolated. It was three days
before I met anyone else who spoke English. (Nice Canadian neighbors.)

What happened was that this was too much isolation and togetherness, and M
began to express frustration and criticisms he never had before so bluntly, and
his personality -- chiefly his habit of nonstop talk, including when we finally did
have the neighbors come up for champagne and he talked/lectured the entire
time and nobody else got a word in...and I just couldn't take it. Even though his
professor-knowledge about EVERYTHING is unmatched (culture, history, food, on
and on and on) he just dominates constantly. Later we argued and I suddenly roared
at him that I couldn't STAND the way he talked about his architect. It felt to me that M's
ego combined with his pride in the place just took off, and he repeatedly bragged and bragged
so much about all the wonderful things he did, and knows, and understands, and designs,
and he explains (to EVERYONE at EVERY opportunity) that for a time I just couldn't stand
him. He came off like an arrogant clueless braggart and though I understood him, I didn't
LIKE him. His knowledge is encyclopedic (neighbors looked both impressed and repressed
by the monologue) and on its own fascinating, but he's so pedantic and way too determined
to force-teach anyone about everything at every occasion.

It was very painful and I suddenly wanted badly to go home and felt like ending the
relationship. I got myself together and calmed down, but it was tense and miserable.
It was a huge relief to get back to San Jose and the spacious condo and the tension
drained away and we got back to a happy way of interacting and enjoyed the rest of
the trip. We had a lot of fun traveling, in airports, etc., and got back to loving each
other again. But those days in the jungle house were a revelation and not a happy one.
We were peaceful and playful together back at the condo and cooperated happily on
domestic stuff, lazing about, making meals, tidying up for the potential buyer. Confusing.
(Maybe that means a city house here would be okay? I'm full of doubt but still some hope.)

I'm not freaking out about it (yet), but I'm newly unsure whether I could live with him. I just
don't know that I can adapt to him FT because it is so difficult for him to control himself
verbally. One bright note is that he expressed interest in being formally evaluated for
ADHD, which I think could help. And we're still going to be doing the T together, which
always helps. We might wind up as long-term companions who never marry, which is
fine except that if I'm honest, I fear walking away from that security he's offering.
If the T is a miracle worker maybe he can teach M how not to drive me away. I know he
loves (and needs) me and I do love him still. But that week in the jungle left me unsure,
emotionally unsafe, and so stressed (I had tachycardia so bad it woke me up) that I
suddenly thought of his personality issues as health risks for me. He doesn't grasp
his effect on me without a big struggle. He isn't connecting with his impact on others.

Another thing that was important is seeing him in the context of that family and that
country and hearing so much more about it that I realize he really has felt rootless in
some ways, living in several countries...and that plus whatever it is in his brain that
causes such agitated and unaware behavior is really about running. He proposed a
bunch more trips and I haven't been able to tell him yet but this one was really too
much for me. Managed not to get sick but did learn that nonstop togetherness with
him is not possible for me. I'd lose my mind. (I did grasp how torn he feels between
two cultures, and how the jungle house in its traditional village area represents TRUE
home-in-Costa-Rica to him.) He wants to keep it and come there for long stays (a month
or several) and I couldn't bring myself to tell him I don't care if I never go there again.
The roads were so rutted it killed my back every time we went anywhere and the lack
of anyone else to talk to would not be good for me over time. MAYBE if we'd gotten
very happy and calm as a couple and I were writing....but as of now, it's not for me.)

So that's the big (and confusing) bottom line. Not sorry I went but it's NOT okay that
he will talk and talk and talk and not let up until I'm so stressed my heart acts up.

And yet for the last few days it was lovely, peaceful and cooperative. Maybe because
I knew we were heading home soon, and because at the condo we had huge space
and he was less excited about talking (nonstop) about the jungle house. Dunno, dunno.
We also did get some talking in that was about us, and about him and his family dynamics
and a lot of other things, in the way we have always done well at times, so it felt more real.

SO glad to be here again.

love,
Hops
PS Costa Rican food is just incredible. Most dishes are simple but every ingredient
is so fresh the flavors are fantastic. I don't eat meat or poultry but we had fresh
fish nearly every day and vegetables that just sang.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on January 09, 2020, 04:05:33 AM
Ah, Hops.  Well I'm glad the good bits were good and I'm glad you were able to express your frustrations - I do think it's good that you're not afraid to tell him what you think and how you feel.

It's not good, of course, that he induces that level of stress in you at times.  Perhaps he does need a stimulating environment, rather than an isolated one, to keep his brain ticking over on other things?  Perhaps he could do some of his trips without you as you go forward - absence making the heart fonder and all that.  Do you think he feels pressured when with family and was then 'letting off steam' afterwards when things calmed down?  They sound nice and friendly but we all know how much can bubble underneath the surface with family situations.

I'm glad you're so honest with yourself about the situation and that you don't try to sugar coat yourself.  It's hard to be honest about things we don't want in our lives.  I still hope you can find a way forward that suits you both and works for both of you, because the love does seem genuine and sincere.  Glad Pooch was all good when you got back.  Rest well, sleep lots and look forward to hearing more later xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on January 09, 2020, 11:34:27 AM
I'm glad you're back, ((Hops.))

IME travel is fraught with stress and opportunity for revelation.  Just exhausting and exciting and amazing in bouts, IME.

M is still who he is, even if he's working on his more negative traits.  They're a part of him.

I kind of think the T will help you two straighten all this out.  Much confidence there.

The points that stick out for me were how negative the jungle home is FOR YOU and how much trouble it creates between you and M.  I have the feeling M sensed your reluctance to be smitten and impressed and that reluctance brought out his insistence and overbearing ego/shadow side.  I withdraw when I feel that way too and it never makes things better, IME.  The person requiring reassurance, attention and admiration tend to get desperate, which makes me withdraw even more,IME and it snowballs from there.

I was also concerned about M's expressing bluntly his frustrations and criticisms of you, I presume?  Did he make it very personal and if so, did you feel this is how he'll begin treating you more and more often?

I guess you couldn't expect to get through that much travel completely unscathed.  M struggles.  He's going to struggle.  It's a process to make big change. 

You have the good and the bad to sort out in all this.  Like any relationship. I'm very curious about what the T will say about the trip.

Ther's going to have to be strategies for you when you're feeling trapped and yacked at incessantly, IMO.  You have to have a way to mitigate the stress on your health, and not trigger M into more uncontrolled behavior.  I really do believe he loses ability to see what he's doing and how it affects others.

Rest up.  Snuggle pooch.  It's going to be OK.

Lighter
 
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on January 09, 2020, 10:08:33 PM
Thank you so much, ((((Tupp)))). I'm so very sorry you had a hellishly sad Xmas. I have had so many and all I can offer is that year over year, the holidays do become less powerful. Thank god. I'll offer more over on your threads as I catch up. Just...hugs to you.

Quote
Perhaps he does need a stimulating environment, rather than an isolated one, to keep his brain ticking over on other things? 
I think that's very true. Maybe when he's alone with me and his hyperbrain is needing that he drills into me as the handiest topic to examine critically at times. I just can't allow it, so he will have to deal. I thought it was interesting that he expressed some interest in confronting ADHD. It would be wonderful if he learned that though it's wonderful to have a brilliant brain, there are downsides to having a manic one. At least in the wear and tear on personal relationships, or his with me anyway. I do think the T is a safe zone for us and the miracle after this trip is, there's still love there. No guarantees and I will not delude myself. Thank you for seeing THAT part of me. I'm grateful.

Perhaps he could do some of his trips without you as you go forward - absence making the heart fonder and all that. 
He'll have no choice, because I'm not going to take unlimited trips with him unless I feel confident I won't be trapped in a grinding bickering session with him again. It goes both ways, I can dish it out too when I'm feeling strong, but it's my model of misery (had that ongoing especially in my first marriage and it ruined it) and I would rather die alone and poor than repeat that for the years before dying. i can't take it. Literally. (Heart.) In fact, the trip he plans for us in April-May to Spain and Portugal was to be a whole lot of driving and he's now realizing that because of my back pain, it may not be wise. I told him I'm not sure I will be up to going and will let him know either way in time to cancel. My back was very painful this time and the drive he said would be three hours turned out to be six, the last two on jolting, rutted jungle roads. Exciting to see but in the shape I'm currently in, way too painful. I plan to get more PT shortly and also begin an exercise class, because I don't have to be in pain always if I get my ass moving again. That's on me. I've let myself go and it'll be hard work to regain fitness but there is no more excuse.

Do you think he feels pressured when with family and was then 'letting off steam' afterwards when things calmed down?
Yes. I think being in Costa Rica triggers all sorts of complicated emotions of loss and feeling rootless and conflict with who he was groomed to be and who he actually became (which took a lot of guts)...and the cost he felt (loss of that idyllic childhood in paradise) as he acquired his freedom. I don't think he's ever made peace with it all, which is part of the reason he travels so much. In transition, he feels most at home. Plus, with constant stimulation. Exciting but exhausting. And even if he was letting off steam, I have to be firm in setting boundaries that make clear he must find other ways to deal with his jangled feelings than acting them out with me. That's on him, it's his work, and I will support but not do it for him. I don't know yet whether he'll dive deep enough in therapy to do that kind of growth. I hope it for him and for both of us.

How you manage to be so wise and kind when caught in some pain and reckoning and dealing with tough realities of your own never ceases to startle and inspire me, Tupp. Thank you.

Hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on January 09, 2020, 10:22:25 PM
Lighter, you are so perceptive. You really do see his needs/behaviors with such clarity. Thank you.

Quote
I have the feeling M sensed your reluctance to be smitten and impressed and that reluctance brought out his insistence and overbearing ego/shadow side.  I withdraw when I feel that way too and it never makes things better, IME.  The person requiring reassurance, attention and admiration tend to get desperate....

You're right. He really is desperate for it. And I am equally desperate, or determined, not to be the sole source of admiration/supply for him. I can't and won't deliver. It is TOO MUCH LIKE LIFE WITH N-MOM. So with T's help, I hope I can get him to see that doing deep work on his own to answer his own unmet core needs is the only way I can stay by his side, encouraging him in the work but not becoming a substitute target for his upsets and frustrations. That is not what I could or want to do in a late-life marriage or partnership. As amazing as M is, he has waited 'til very late in life to begin a bit of self-analysis, and it really is up to him whether he is brave enough to "go there" without resenting me for requiring it. He does lack emotional maturity and self-control. I don't really "require" that he take on self discovery, actually. But I know that if he doesn't take responsibility for learning what's beneath the things he does that grind at healthy connection, and especially his appetite for his own verbosity over everything...I'll leave. That's the blunt truth. No rush but I could see it coming, in that isolated place. Too soon to call it and things did get better. But there it is.

Quote
I was also concerned about M's expressing bluntly his frustrations and criticisms of you, I presume?  Did he make it very personal and if so, did you feel this is how he'll begin treating you more and more often?

That's the most important question and why I felt a red flag might be waving. By the time we made it back to San Jose it was obvious that he too wanted the tension to end and that it troubled him a lot that it had happened. But if any man will go there once, there is fear that he'll do it again. M is quite dominant when he wants to be and if I'm feeling strong I can hand it right back to him and refuse to accept that. What I need to feel in a relationship is both safety and permission to be NOT strong. M adores my intellectual strength and the ways I challenge him like an equal, when I do. But when I'm not well he glazes over. He even said at one point about something I'd raised, "I am not interested in the details." The irony of that overwhelmed me, because when he's talking or giving one of his unwanted or even exhausting pedantic lectures he could care less if HIS audience is "interested in the details." There it was in a nutshell. My worry is that I'm pushing seventy and have a need to feel emotionally safe. Not cosseted but certain that no one will treat me in an unkind or ruthless way, even just in discussion. Because whether or not I should ever revert to scared inner child, I can. And I don't want a mate who would do that kind of stuff when I'm most vulnerable. He talks a blue streak about love, but does lack empathy. And it worries me. 

I'm glad you feel confident about our T; I do as well. He's quite brilliant himself and I hope he can get through to M. Either way, I'm going to continue to take care of myself and move forward in my life with some of my own goals for my home, and my writing, and my friendships and other activities. I can't afford to keep M front and center in my vision all the time, as much as he professes he does the same with me. Being loved is great, being smothered is not. Especially by someone you feel you can't trust completely until he develops some self insight. Insight is everything, because without it, one deflects responsibility forever.

It all, always, comes back to the reciprocity thing. M may feel that if he provides, I owe him the nonstop listening. But my nature is such that it can be tormenting to me. And I did tell him at one point that I know I need both love and freedom in a relationship, but if I'm ever forced to choose one, it'd be freedom. I think that sunk in. We'll see.

Thanks again for these insights.

Hugs and HNY,
Hops


Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on January 10, 2020, 08:41:40 AM
Hi Hops! Glad you're home and that you had some fabulous time on your trip, even if there was something tough to deal with, come up. I've kept 2 "man tests" in my head for years... one is setting up a tent with him - takes clear communication and absolute concentration and cooperation. The other is some sort of "road trip" experience - both people are outside their normal environment and encountering new situations and people and sometimes trials & tribulations.

I can sympathize with your need to retreat from the professorial "talkiness". I have a D like that; in her case she's designated her sweetie as some kind of emotional security blanket and when he leaves for work - the talkiness goes into overdrive, she turns critical - all while proclaiming how objective and "right" her observations are and it can get nasty. Abandonment issues? Daddy issues? (I'm suspecting but not sure.)

On the one hand, I'd say that there are lots worse things to put up with than that non-stop verbosity BUT when it turns into a personal, relational critique I gotta agree with you about how serious an issue it is. It's related to judgement, I think - based on some inner needs that a healthy relationship ISN'T supposed to meet. The judgement is almost like a temper tantrum - demanding, angry, and projecting the obligation to meet the need (because the person doesn't know how to?) onto others. "Make me feel good" seems to be the implied message. Or "why are you not impressed with my awesomeness?" and "How dare you have a different perception, opinion or feeling than I do?"

Rather than get assertive and make some sharp retorts to this or put on the all-powerful "mom" hat - I've just been quietly physically removing myself from the conversation. If I stay and stand my ground, it begins to escalate into out & out confrontation. I seldom have the energy for that and she IS stronger than I am and refuses to be humble or just human... even though she BS's a good game - it's a distortion of her impacts on other people. I am not her only target; her friend John who is here has taken the same thing. Having someone else around - to confirm my perception or see something I missed or perceive it differently - has been helpful. We often debrief and that's been an oasis for me and a relief from abject misery over what kind of torture she's going through internally to feel the need to express it outwardly and project it onto others.

I hope M is continuing his personal therapy Hops. The couples T can help with toolkits but I think this behavior (which is only one thing "wrong", right?) of his needs to be unpacked, sorted, processed, and dealt with too. John and I keep bringing that up to Hol, too but without pressuring her.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: CB123 on January 10, 2020, 09:29:43 AM
Hops,

The thing that concerns me is that his critical, attacking behavior only occurred when you were isolated with him and ended when you reached civilization. That would be a red flag for me, but sadly was not when I went through it. As a matter of fact, I reacted similarly as you, mostly such relief after it was over that I was willing to keep trying.

I found that the issues that were very real could have been an opportunity for me to do some self-examination about why I reacted the way I did. My initial (and long-term) response was to verbally analyze him, to be part of his enlightenment, in a sense, I wanted to be his savior I think. I would like to have those years back. I would like to have back the energy I spent trying to make him my safe place.

It's a hell of a process disentangling from it. The turmoil interspersed with sheer joy is addictive. I'm still discovering ways in which it changed me.

CB
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on January 10, 2020, 06:48:32 PM
Thank you, ((((((((((CB)))))))))))).
A sober warning I know you came by with intense direct experience.
I promise it's in my mind and will come up with my (and our) T.

One difference is my fears of impoverished old age, plus how genuine I think his appreciation is of me, most of the time.

I think getting a clear-eyed total view will still take (and deserves) more time, and more insight from both my-T and our-T.

I won't pledge my life to M unless I get a real sense that he's committed to a deep dive. Some hope, for me, lies in how motivated he is by knowledge. I think it's possible, though hardly guaranteed, that he'll actually embark on this kind of inner work. It's more learning, and he lives for knowledge.

Until I know, I don't want to toss the baby with the bathwater. But I'm nowhere near as dedicated to sustaining something unsupportable as I was for so long years back, particularly in my second marriage.

M is startled by how determined I am to NOT move into deeper commitment with him. He thinks once love is declared it's "as simple as that". I couldn't disagree more and won't budge unless I see real evidence that it's going to be sane and sound.

I value and appreciate your warnings. One difference in our lives, and a big one, is that I have no family whatsoever, at my back. No children who would shelter or care about what happens to me in old age. Unfortunately, that's a real factor in my considerations now. I'm trying full-heartedly to keep that in balance, and my T supports those questions in both scenarios.

I won't give myself over to maltreatment, ever. I am way way too stubborn and feisty for that. And if I don't see evidence that he begins to understand the difference between doting and empathy, I will step away.

Hey. I had very good luck in meeting him online and have had an amazing year with him I will never regret no matter what the long-term outcome is. And there's absolutely nothing to prevent me from doing it again if M and I don't make it for the long haul.

I'm grateful for all this experience. I'm really glad I ventured it. And I still have hopes for us. Just not expectations, which is for me a huge difference.

Reality is still my (best) friend.

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on January 10, 2020, 08:35:56 PM
Hi Hops:

Lets remember you don't have to do anything.

If you marry M... you don't have to stay married.

If you get engaged.... you don't have to get married.

If you move in, you don't have to stay there. 

There are no mistakes.  There are only chances to explore what you and M have together, could have together, will have together. 

If it's hell..... you can go.  You don't need his permission.  There's no shame in being brave enough to risk love, IME.

You're a big girl and you have decisions to make.  No judgment.  Just discovery.

If there's ups and downs.... things are pretty normal.

If there's more hell than not.... it's time to make a move.  You have your own home.  You have friends.  You have a very good mind and ability to advocate for yourself. 

I say be fearless.  Don't waste time.  Get to where you want to be and see if it's where you thought you were going.

It might be better.

Might be hell.

You won't know until you get there and no one says you have to stay if you don't want to.

Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on January 10, 2020, 09:34:37 PM
Thank you, (((Lighter))).

You're absolutely right. I always will have choice.

And so far, I really don't sense "hell." Not at all.
Just a sense that isolation and being cut off from my independent supports apart from him would not be good for me. I'm not up for an enmeshed all-dependent kind of thing.

But I'm not sure M would want that either, despite his declarations about me. He is writing books, for f's sake...and still very absorbed in his scholarship (thank heaven). We may settle back into a very nice sharing routine with a balance of separate interests.

We will have been together a year next month. And have come a long way in that time. That said, it's still early days and as you wisely point out...I can keep on aiming at the kind of bond I want to build and extricate myself at any point if I feel the need.

Alone in the jungle was really a fairly extreme test. We didn't exactly fail it but were tested under the strain. And maybe that's okay in the bigger picture.

Time, and T work, and me living my own life more fully and healthily, will tell.

Hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: CB123 on January 12, 2020, 10:48:48 AM
Hops,

I hadnt realized that the issue of financial security was part of the equation. I do understand, truly I do. That was a large consideration in my marriage as well, so I get it. I stayed much longer than I would have because of finances, and of course the kids.

I'm wishing you the very best and I hope you understand my concern is well meant, however clumsily I might express it, dear friend.

CB
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on January 13, 2020, 02:20:53 AM
Hops, I just thought I'd mention something I've discovered as I've been researching communes for myself and son :)

In the UK, there are ever increasing numbers of people setting up, or becoming part of, housing co-operatives.  Instead of all living together in a shared house, people are either buying land to build multiple properties on, or they're buying already existing homes, perhaps several in the same street or on the same housing estate.  Another thing some are doing is buying a large property and then converting it into flats or small houses.  The properties are then either sold or rented out, the benefit being you get your own space and live your own life, but you are part of a community that literally lives only steps away, so it's easy for people to get together, help each other out and to share costs for things like bulk buying food, or sharing a veg patch or something like that.  Car share is pretty popular in these sorts of places as well.

I think the point of setting it up as a co-operative is something to do with the way it all works legally (it means that people can't sell their house to a developer who wants to build fifteen houses in the back garden or something like that).

Anyway, the only reason I mention it is in case it might be worth you doing a bit of research at some point to see if similar sorts of set ups exist in the States, so that you might have an option between 'relationship' and 'poor and alone'.  I do understand your concerns exactly - I have exactly the same worries about myself and son.  And unlike you, I have already given up hope of meeting someone who might change that situation for me :) I might work on that at a later date :)  But anyway, I thought I'd mention it as you get some of the perks of being part of a like minded community without having to keep washing other people's plates whenever you want a sandwich or having to move into a retirement village :)

Hope you are readjusting to being home okay and catching up on sleep and Pooch cuddles :)
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on January 14, 2020, 01:36:17 AM
Quote
"Make me feel good" seems to be the implied message. Or "why are you not impressed with my awesomeness?" and "How dare you have a different perception, opinion or feeling than I do?"

Thanks, Amber. I think the first two quotes are pretty apt, for that jungle week when he just let loose with ego, insecurity and obsession with his own feelings...about Costa Rica, the house as symbolic of it all for him, his accomplishment in designing and building it, blah and blah. There's lots of loss and dislocation and unrootedness that it's all about. The third thing doesn't apply really, because fundamentally M does respect me. My mind.

What happened today was that the T was brilliantly present and observant as ever, and stopped M every time he'd either interrupt or contradict something I'd just said. He spelled out to M his habit of eloquently replying to me, Oh yes, I understand this, but...or however...and then "rewriting" what I said to fit his own narrative. (How wonderful our relationship is, how much he loves me, etc.) He also talks a lot saying "we this" and "we that" and the T stopped that too.

It was very perceptive and really kind of remarkable. The thing that makes me feel better is that M is genuinely humble and receptive in therapy. We even talked about an aborted intimate encounter when I felt completely unheard in a way that made me just give up. Anyway, I held nothing back. I described every detail of the experience from my perspective and it was a huge relief to do that with the counselor. M was distressed to hear it but he heard it. More significantly, I described exactly how I'd felt at the jungle house and during different times during the trip. M had written me an email saying, "The last 17 days were completely wonderful." It struck me as a wonderful condensation of the pattern and the T totally got it. I said there were 4 or 5 days of it that were the opposite of wonderful to me, how vulnerable and isolated I felt and how much I'd disliked M at the time for being so self absorbed.

I literally think when M is almost incantatorily talking nonstop (his form of self soothing, I think), he actually has no idea about my distress level. He's not trying to be cruel but doesn't realize how he's not making an empathic connection, but staying cerebral. The T got it too but didn't blame or criticize M; he's just working to help him see it. He advised him his professoritis is not working for him and that for him to get the commitment he wants from me, he is going to have to be the student, not the teacher. M agreed with him, agreed with all of it.

We are both colossally impressed with the T, and M is not aggressive or defensive at all in the sessions. He seems hugely motivated to make it work. I'm not saying I assume or am positive it will, just that M's attitude in therapy is amazingly open and receptive, in my view. (I've been in therapy with an ex who made it very obvious that he had contempt for both me and T, and we divorced. M's behavior is the opposite.)

M also pointed out that except for a couple of months after his divorce, he's never been in therapy before and I'm "way ahead of him." I thought that was fair (I've spent decades in therapy) and the T said, all the more reason you need to be listening to her. He also described me to M as being very concerned with how others are feeling and that he wanted me to be more responsive in the moment when M goes into his obliviousness.

All in all, it was a huge relief to have the T express in front of M that he clearly got how vulnerable I was feeling during the trip, and he'd ask M, did you notice how she was feeling in this moment or that one? And M's responses showed M himself that he had missed it. That was validating.

I don't think it's malice or hidden horrors. I just think he's lived in his brain for a very long time, and in different cultures from me, and with different kinds of women (never an American), and has an oversized ego (insecurity) and he says over and over that I am different from any woman he's ever known, etc etc. He enumerates why and he really means it. But, his lists of compliments don't fix things for me --I want empathy, not a list of assets, and the T totally gets this. Whew.

And...we do love each other. I don't doubt his sincerity, at all. If he continues with me in this process, I think it's worth it for both of us, no matter what the final outcome is. He seems deeply committed to it and also seems to have huge respect for the T. I've never seen him react to another man that way, have only seen him with his peers/academic colleagues, when they're jousting.

All in all, I feel better. I see the cardiologist tomorrow and am anxious about that, but if it's a reassuring visit I know I'll be feeling way better this time tomorrow night.

Hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on January 14, 2020, 01:45:04 AM
((((CB))))
Of course I know your concern is well meant! Sweet woman.
And it's not misplaced, either. I am vigilant about what's happening and holding nothing back in the T sessions, and intend to be more open with M as well.

I don't know what will happen but if I need to end it at some point, I believe I'll be able to. Old age alone or broke does scare me but I'm way better off than many people and my fears may be bigger than they need to be. The feelings are real about that, but I earn enough social security to survive as long as I can function independently. I'm just haunted by abandoned oldsters in nursing homes and so forth. Still, I will not let financial security lull me into a bad marriage. Fate worse than I don't know what.

And M knows I'm not marrying him unless therapy really moves us into a balanced and healthy place. I don't want to pre-judge what he's capable of in therapy, because he's actually got an amazing mind and willing heart. He's deficient in EQ, but I don't think it's fair to rule out that he could grow as much as anybody. His motivation seems real and profound and his behavior reflects it. Rather than coming out of a session like today's mad at me or defensive, he's more tender than ever. He genuinely wants it to work.

There's a lot of good in him. A few pink flags I can live with but I will confront myself if I see red ones. The man's lived in a bubble for a long time but he seems desperate to break out of it.

love,
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on January 14, 2020, 01:51:58 AM
(((((Tupp))))) -- We're on the same page!

One persistent interest of mine for years has been aging issues, including co-housing, shared housing, etc. I know a good deal about it. Unfortunately the only cohousing communities here (there are two) are too expensive for me. This area's very pricey even for that.

When I was still hoping to inherit my mother's big house one of my plans was to get two or three female friend roommates and create our own co-house for old age, pooling resources etc. But that didn't work out because of my brother (and the fact that my friends have their own plans and generally are better off). I checked out the other two as well. Then as I've talked about a lot here, I've helped elderly folks in independent apartments in old-age developments, and learned what they pay each month. Out of my reach.

But. There's a new nonprofit here I've begun to volunteer for that is based on healthy people (mostly in 60s or 70s) doing for free for frail elders exactly the kind of thing I've done for pay. Then, one day, if you need similar help so you can age in your home as long as possible, you can turn to this network for chores, drivers, shopping help etc -- at no charge. It's a brilliant concept that's already underway in some cities and I'm looking forward to working on it here.

That does not resolve anything medical or if you're no longer mobile ... but it's still a good step. And I have an interview for an elderly couple next week so I can start doing some PT elder-help paid work again, which I've taken a break from for many months now, since the old gent died and the two women became too ill for me to help. It'll do me good to work again, independence wise.

Hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on January 14, 2020, 10:22:47 AM
I'm so glad the T appointment went well, Hops.  I was hoping it would.

Lighter

Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on January 14, 2020, 11:36:28 AM
(((((Tupp))))) -- We're on the same page!

One persistent interest of mine for years has been aging issues, including co-housing, shared housing, etc. I know a good deal about it. Unfortunately the only cohousing communities here (there are two) are too expensive for me. This area's very pricey even for that.

When I was still hoping to inherit my mother's big house one of my plans was to get two or three female friend roommates and create our own co-house for old age, pooling resources etc. But that didn't work out because of my brother (and the fact that my friends have their own plans and generally are better off). I checked out the other two as well. Then as I've talked about a lot here, I've helped elderly folks in independent apartments in old-age developments, and learned what they pay each month. Out of my reach.

But. There's a new nonprofit here I've begun to volunteer for that is based on healthy people (mostly in 60s or 70s) doing for free for frail elders exactly the kind of thing I've done for pay. Then, one day, if you need similar help so you can age in your home as long as possible, you can turn to this network for chores, drivers, shopping help etc -- at no charge. It's a brilliant concept that's already underway in some cities and I'm looking forward to working on it here.

That does not resolve anything medical or if you're no longer mobile ... but it's still a good step. And I have an interview for an elderly couple next week so I can start doing some PT elder-help paid work again, which I've taken a break from for many months now, since the old gent died and the two women became too ill for me to help. It'll do me good to work again, independence wise.

Hugs
Hops

I'm so glad, Hops, both about the paid work and the not for profit group; that sounds like a brilliant idea and I know for me just knowing there is 'someone' I can call is a big help, even if I don't need to call them.  I think the sense of aloneness is so hard to cope with, even if you don't actually need someone at the time.  I think having a network that people can call on is a great idea.

Your T does sound brilliant and I'm really happy that M is so engaged with the process and willing to work through things.  Hopefully he'll be able to pace himself a bit better so he doesn't whirl off into these spirals where he seems to lose contact with the rest of the world :)  I'm really glad you had an appointment quite quickly and that you've had your say!  It's great that it's all going so well in that regard.  I hope the cardio thing goes well tomorrow and gives you some reassurance xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on January 30, 2020, 06:36:10 PM
Thanks much, ((((Tupp)))).
The joint T sessions continue to go astonishingly well. I don't know if I'm testing the limits, but I have found myself both bold and extremely assertive (with zero animus) in these sessions...and observe both that the T "gets" me every time (we often exchange looks while M holds forth and I understand in the moment with no doubt that he understands) and that he consistently redirects M to what just happened (or didn't). It's kind of an exciting process and gives me lots of comfort and hope. It's kind of wonderful to have a T noticing my facial expressions and trusting they mean something.

Perhaps I'll say yes to M's next proposal with the contingency that he agrees to stay in or re-enter therapy with me any time I need it!

Meanwhile, I'm feeling calmer and more confident in the relationship with M. We went through another intense, kind of testing experience just now, that ended up with me feeling that I do know how to interact with him as part of a couple.

An endearing and delightful British scholar just arrived (like two weeks ago) for a semester in M's department as a visiting distinguished professor. I picked up him and his wife to take them to a dinner party at M's almost a week ago, and we bonded instantly over politics. The evening was lovely (they all spoke English the whole night which was a pleasure for me). And then I took them home, and afterward, he sent M and me a bunch of hysterical British satire videos about the current US president. It was fun and I was looking forward to getting to know him (and his sweet wife, A) over the next six months.

Two days ago he suddenly died of a heart attack at 4am. M left me messages and I went over and comforted her, took her on a long walk to a beautiful meadow near his place, and joined another woman comforting her throughout the evening. M was so grateful and appreciative of this and we both were deeply affected by her loss. She was beside herself (they'd been married 45 years). He dealt with all the practical complexities (except for me asking my lawyer how to reassure her about cremation even though his 20-year-old will, done in the U.K., expressed his desire to be buried)...and I was just support. But the whole thing has brought us even closer. Talking about deeper and more meaningful issues.

Because of this, I've been re-thinking my recent sense that I didn't want to take the "next trip" with him...to California again in March, for a long week with the kids/grandkids (shared rented house on the beach in Santa Barbara). Anyway, I was surprised to realize that after thinking I DON"T want to go anywhere again soon with him, I feel connected in a way that makes me more likely to want to go. The deadline (for him to cancel my ticket) is this Sunday, and I may surprise him by saying Yes.

All in all, I'd say we're in better shape than I thought. I weirdly feel more connected to him and also more connected to my desire to attend to my own life. Perhaps we'll figure out the balance.

Optimistically,
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on January 31, 2020, 05:35:47 AM
Oh, Hops, I'm so sorry to read of that nice man's sudden passing, and how awful for his wife to lose him so suddenly like that.  I'm glad that you and M were there for her to support her both practically and emotionally, what an awful situation for all of you.

I am heartened to read that the therapy is going well and that this most recent event has made you feel closer to M.  I do think you get to see the real heart of people during a crisis and the fact that he stepped up to organise things and make sure the poor lady was okay is a good testament to his good heart, I think.  I feel the same about his continued commitment to therapy and I do feel that if he were putting on an act or a kind of 'I'll do this to keep her quiet' approach to it the cracks would be showing by now, but they aren't.  He seems sincere in his desire to be with you, and committed to working on himself to make that happen.  I think that's really encouraging and if you feel like this trip would be a good experience then go for it.  I like the fact that you feel you can change your mind and decide what to do when it suits you, rather than doing what suits everyone else.  I was really glad to read your post - there was so much in it that was positive, despite the fact there was such an unexpected bereavement in amongst it.

I am sorry for the poor chap and his wife but glad you were able to be there for her xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on January 31, 2020, 10:54:50 AM
So that's where you've been. 

(((Hops))) I'm so sorry you lost a new friend but glad you were able to comfort his wife. 

These things shift perspective, IME.  Making the most of the time we have left, knowing it might end tomorrow is a good thing.

Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on January 31, 2020, 12:53:00 PM
OH MY Hops. I'm glad you were able to be with your new friend during what is surely a time complicated by being away from home. I'd think that helped more than you will ever know.

Leads me to suggest perhaps it would be a good idea to carry those documents in digital format with you, when traveling out of the country. A thumb drive is small enough to get added to a jewelry pouch.

(((((Hops)))))
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on February 04, 2020, 10:42:38 AM
Great suggestion, Amber! Thanks.

I decided to skip the week-in-California with a houseful of kids and grandkids and am glad I am. He'll be out there first for a week for a lecture, then back for a week, then back out for their traditional boys' birthday week (the sons were born on the same day years apart). And M LOVES traditions. So I'll get to miss him for a week (while hopefully focusing on my own stuff), enjoy him being back for a week (we do happy reunions well), and enjoy another break after! I think it'll be a good thing for perspective. We still have a trip to Spain planned for April but agreed I could wait to commit until a month before departure, so he could get tickets refunded. I may ask him to just change it so we're not driving so much; simplify it to a week in one place and a week in another, instead of driving for hours every day to cover so much ground. Or I may just decide this isn't the year for so much travel for me.

Things are generally going a lot better, largely due to the T. M is listening, or trying strenuously to, and the T's observations really help. He told M yesterday that his 50-year habit of commenting is what he's been most rewarded for in his life, and because T has worked with many brilliant people in this university community, he's observed that M's issues with not dominating and struggling to listen are common among academics. He said, "You have rewarded all your life for what you say, but not for what you hear."

I thought that was brilliant. The other thing is I go in there and just unload in great detail about what I worry or have difficulty about with M, and how various behaviors of his (nonstop talk, not allowing silences, racing mind) affect me. And M really listens then, though one can see him struggle not to be composing his reply. The other thing I value a lot about what we're doing together is that he has never once given me any resentment or blowback about anything I bring up in T, no matter how bluntly. Sometimes he worries that I don't understand how much he loves me, and that his deep intention toward me is 100% and all that. But he also told me he knows that what I'm doing is trying to resolve anxieties I have about relationships and that he supports the process completely. I find that remarkable and reassuring.

The T also said to him, "When you listen to Hops, I notice that your eyes are busy moving all around." I mentioned that I'd brought up lack of eye contact early in our relationship. I think this T is picking up on some ADHD stuff and also the real impact for M of having an overactive mind. In scholarship and his career, it's been incredible. In relationship, it can present obstacles to intimacy.

Despite all that, I am feeling better about him. And closer to a sense that we really might make it long term.

One step at a time. One day at a time. We had a lovely dinner to celebrate the first anniversary of the day we met. He came with roses. Not hard to enjoy roses!

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on February 04, 2020, 11:44:56 AM
Big smilie faces and hugs Hops.

Sounds like you're both finding a way forward.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on February 04, 2020, 06:02:29 PM
Hops:

It sounds like things are going along pretty well. I'm still loving your T.  Rewarded for what M says, not what he hears.... that makes sense.  I hope it helps M SEE. 

 You chose to skip the Cali trip... I think that was wise, particularly while you guys sort communication styles and habits.   

I'm going back a bit, but wonder what M criticized you about in the jungle, if not things like what you bring up in T sessions.  Were they logical things, or were they illogical?  You don't have to answer if it makes you uncomfortable.  I noticed you seem to be guarding the relationship a bit more.... which I see as positive for the relationship. 

Just an observation and not necessarily reality. 

Happy anniversary, Hops!  I love sticking my nose into roses..... smelling them.. feeling their cool soft petals on my face.

Lighter 

Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on February 04, 2020, 10:33:27 PM
I'd say illogical, Lighter. He was reacting to emotional pressures he was feeling too.
I've come to understand a lot more about him since being with his family, seeing the intense load of expectations he's been under his whole life (and rebelled from), seeing the deep devotion and sense of duty he has to so many relatives, and seeing his inner conflict because he's more at home here (and in Europe) now, than there.

I think CR was destabilizing for him, and he was trying to defend an identity that's actually been shaken loose. But he couldn't articulate that at the time, and I was just struggling.

It sure as heck was destabilizing for me. A hard trip but a very valuable one. He seems so relieved that the condo in San Jose is gone, like one more tentacle has let him go. I look forward, if all goes well, to returning with him sometime. For a week, not three. And in a comfortable hotel instead of in two homes that were about his past and a whole different dream, now ended. He's now mentioned maybe selling the jungle house too. He told me today after his exercise class that he just wants to focus more on taking care of himself, enjoying simpler things, and taking care of me.

I can't even recall the exact things he picked at me about at the jungle house. And at this point, I'm not really worried about it any more. We've made such huge progress since. And, since one of your posts, I remember I always have a choice.

He's a good man. And he's working hard at learning some very very new material about the self. I'm more relaxed around him than I've been yet, because we're communicating better. And I do sense he's really looking inside in a way he never has before. We'll see how it goes....

Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on February 05, 2020, 07:31:56 AM
Hops:

You sound....
centered.

Just check yourself. 
Carefully.

No making excuses for bad behavior. 
No letting M get away with anything that's unacceptable. 
Call him on everything.... it seems you're keeping new T in the loop and utilizing him completely to that end.

Really wonderful trajectory, ((Hops.))

Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on February 05, 2020, 09:01:44 AM
[
He's a good man. And he's working hard at learning some very very new material about the self. I'm more relaxed around him than I've been yet, because we're communicating better. And I do sense he's really looking inside in a way he never has before. We'll see how it goes....

Hops
[/quote]

Hopsie, I feel that he is very lucky to have met you after a lifetime of having to conform to other people's expectations and having to play that role of knowledgeable professor so constantly.  To meet someone who genuinely wants him to be able to talk about how he really feels, who doesn't need him to always be there, always be strong, always have an answer - I'm thinking it must be a relief for him that he doesn't have to wear that mask with you - although I can understand it may be a hard mask to remove after so many years of wearing it.  You must feel like an absolute breath of fresh air to him.

I love that fact that in your T sessions he listens and that he doesn't throw anything back at you afterwards, or sulk, or take the opportunity to say something mean just to get his own back.  I like that he doesn't hear your comments as a criticism that he has to tolerate, but as something for him to look at and think about - and I guess he knows the same is true of you, that he can say what he thinks and you'll tell him what you think, rather than what you think he wants to hear.  I wonder if he's ever had that before?

It is very heartening that you're able to tweak the holidays a bit to make them more manageable and just decide each time whether or not you want to go.  I'm glad you still feel able to just take it at its own pace and keep working through it.  I'm happy that it seems to be working out for you both :) xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on March 07, 2020, 10:43:33 AM
Well, I promised.

M and I are okay. But the Hard hard work is surfacing, as it needs to. Our T continues to be amazingly helpful and that's very hopeful.

What we've been processing lately has been super illuminating. It brings the personality gaps into relief and I am seeing what our challenge is. It really boils down to M having narcissistic traits (as I do too) that he doesn't realize. And me being so sensitized to every whiff of it that I get super stressed...because of how I'm wired. And yet -- M is NOT a pure-N, doesn't have NPD, isn't a bad person. He's just wired and trained to be self absorbed. A lot of that isn't the born personality as much as upbringing, in which he was the golden child, raised mostly by loving Central American servants, and when he came skipping in, everything stopped and he was smothered in praise and affection.

Our T once said to him, the way Hops describes your coming in and talking loudly and immediately and sowing kind of emotional chaos while you're shrieking giggles and getting the dog stirred up  no matter what is going on with her....it reminds me of a child coming home from Show and Tell at school. To my surprise, M said, that's exactly how I feel.

So now, I just suggest when he comes in with too much excitement and drama and destroys the peace, hey, let's be calmer...and he immediately turns it down. I do notice, persistently, that he listens hard and really tries to get it, to respond, to do better. That's why I still love him. Some times are harder than others, though.

It all came into relief during some house hunting (more looking to see what's out there, though we do seem to be stepping up the pace). Something unexpected happened that had an enormous impact on me. And the power dynamics of him having money and me not, came into very painful focus, which we are talking about with the T. (Thank god for him--he's so open to naming and seeing and recognizing what we're wrestling with. Whereas M, out of some guilt perhaps, has always minimized the important of those differences" class, money, privilege. So we couldn't talk about it very effectively, since he has such a hard time taking it in.)

Anyway, the realtor sent us a link and one look at the location and the pix, I was in love with it. Even before our tour. I emailed them both that I felt that way. It is a charming, lovely house with every conceivable space we'd need and perfect for aging in place, but still a warm, welcoming feel that felt like a hug when we walked in. Partly due to its charm and beauty, but also because it's on the street I learned to ride my bike on, behind my childhood home. Amazing. The street itself is perfect, 5 minutes from everything, no traffic, friendly neighbors, lovely old trees. Perfect.

So we're wandering through, soaking up the lovely, perfect spaces (including an addition with two walls of glass and a skylight, southern-facing for winter light, that blew me away)...and then I wandered upstairs to see where my study (the 3rd BR) would be. It was the perfect size. And then I looked out the window over the yard and saw it looked directly down the hill at my childhood home. It hit me like lightning. I had this sudden feeling: Writing here, I would be complete. This is HOME.
It's hard to explain but it was such a powerful feeling I nearly cried.

I go downstairs floating on the feeling, we've found it. As hard as it will be to leave my present house, in that one I knew, I would move tomorrow to live here. I was IN LOVE. Meanwhile, M was standing in the very pleasant open-plan kitchen obsessing over the lack of a granite top on the island and how "of course we have to update all the finishes and cabinets"--I liked the cabinets--and obsessing over every negative he could think of. The kitchen is lovely. There would be no emergency whatsoever about updating it if that's very important to him. But the bones oh the bones.

Anyway, later he began focusing on the cost, finding it overpriced. (And he'd just taking a big hit on the stock market, so that's totally understandable.) So we went back and forth about it all day. I asked him to let me contribute my retirement savings, that is how strongly I felt about it, and I meant it. He said oh no, etc. Meanwhile, the clock was ticking and because I know this town so well, including the market, I said to him and our realtor, this will be gone tomorrow. I knew. So all day we deal with the discussion and then, during our T session, M says he's willing to make an offer, and did. Sure enough, it was already under contract. It was a perfect gem, perfect for our lifestyle and aging needs...and perfect for me at a spiritual level. That sounds silly but it had hit me in that way like an earthquake. Yet not having money power, I was overruled. So THAT issue came into focus. I was just shattered. I wasn't going to fight about it, I ain't no gold-digger, but it was actually a painful loss.

I've never reacted that way. I've always been pragmatic and realistic about houses. I figured out later that the biggest part of it was that street, and that study window...with no connection to family now, I thought about how intensely I have always bonded to place, as I did as a little girl. THAT tree, THAT shrub, the way light comes through THAT window. I bond super-deeply to place. The unexpected revelation of how healing THAT place would be to me...blew me away. An actual loss.

Meanwhile, M explained to me that he looks at real estate PURELY as a financial transaction. His obsession (identified in T) is being certain he gets a "good deal." So even though he COULD afford it, he just didn't want to. His calculation said it was over-priced. Probably was. But I could have made up the difference from savings and the way he dismissed that option made me feel even more powerless.

All in all, I am glad we went through this. It was our first intense argument and it revealed a whole lot we need to be honest and adult about -- like bringing economic power imbalance right in front of our eyes, and examining how that will affect our relationship and how we're going to deal with it in the future.

Meanwhile, there's ANOTHER house on the very same street, even same side, that we're seeing on Monday. It's lovely and I could live there. It has the elegant finishes and historic aura (1920s) that M loves, all the spaces we'd need, and will cost even more than the previous one. But to M, space that impresses is important. Just a fact of his raising and I'm not going to shame him about it. To me, I want a house, however gracious or spacious, that feels like a hug when you walk in (as the other one did). He wants a house that will put you in awe of the owner (as this one might).

That won't be me. And that's the reality.

Heavy stuff, but necessary. And I feel that if he falls in love with the new house on that street, it's a compromise I should embrace. (Don't like the back yard as it's too shady and steep, but I'll make letting me have trees taken out my only condition.)

There you go....and here we are. Thanks for listening.

love,
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on March 07, 2020, 12:59:44 PM
Aw, Hops, well, I'm glad you're still plugging away at things and that T continues to be so helpful but I'm sorry that M wasn't able to see how perfect this was for you and just go along with it.  If it were an investment or a business opportunity then I could understand the reluctance but as it's to be a forever home for you both it doesn't seem to me that paying a wee bit more (and it can't have been that overpriced if someone else snapped it up that quickly) should be a problem.  And yes, I get the financial inequality bit, it's things like this where it really shows and it would knock me off my perch a bit.  But - I'm glad you're talking it through and I'm glad he's listening when you tell him to calm down a bit and not get Pooch overexcited.  And I hope the other place ticks enough boxes for both of you.  Glad you have been able to update, I've been wondering how you were getting on :) Lots of love xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on March 07, 2020, 01:16:55 PM
Oh, Hops... my heart broke a little when you didn't get your warm hug house. 

I don't know what to say to that.  It seems a fundamental necessity in this equation for your comfort in the relationship.  A priority.  M's pragmatic view of property ownership is understandable, but... at what cost in THIS situation.   

I'll have to think about that, bc I have experiences that likely color my views.

The T sounds like he keeps getting more and more helpful. 

It's nice M can shift gears, hear other people and try to make things OK for you too. 

Maybe that first contract will fall through.  Maybe you guys could have a backup contract in place, ready to go.

Lighter

Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on March 08, 2020, 08:38:28 AM
Oh Hops... I've been on both sides of the money-power issue. And had the exact same "house" difficulty to deal with.
I'm with Lighter - contact the realtor and ask to be notified if there are any problems with the first contract.

Its another type of assertiveness; to stand your ground on what you want. Since when does impressing others outweigh feeling at "home"? Especially starting over as an older couple? Maybe this time, it's M's turn to "give a little" so you can have your heart's desire?

That bond with place... I know pretty well too. The beach just wasn't it for me.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on March 08, 2020, 12:12:59 PM
Thanks, Lighter. You got it, entirely. Empathy helps! At one point, when we left the T's office, I looked at him and said, I don't think you understand how raw I feel. And he looked into my eyes and I saw it hit him. He immediately contacted the realtor to make an offer. Even though it was too late, I did see that he was upset when he finally took in how I felt. It mattered to him. Our challenge is getting him to be more able to listen to me in the moment. Even now and then would be encouraging, because with his racing mind, it sure won't be constant. And that's okay. To a degree.

Amber, and both--the realtor knows. It was an all-cash contract and has been ratified, so I don't think there's much chance. But if it collapses she'll notify us.

I'm feeling gradually more peace about it. I do think M made a mistake, as it hurt me a lot and will haunt me for a while. But also, I needed to understand his anxiety. Even though he has a lot of money, he's just lost a third of what he's built over his lifetime. That has to be a huge shock. I haven't even looked at my wee investment portfolio. I am incapable of stock picking and reallocating with enough sophistication to stop the plunge, so why torture myself. Frugality is my only answer and fortunately, it doesn't scare me. I had one parent whose family was very poor, and I saw how resourceful people can be.

In addition, once M and I do set up a home together, I'll have a small rental income from my present home added to my social security. So I'll be able to save a bit more.

I'll learn something Monday, if M's attitude while we encounter the new places we're looking at, shifts a bit. I think it might, or he might remain in mogul-mode. That to me is just marching through a space without a pause to check...how does it feel to you? The good thing is we'll be at the T right before that appointment. I'm going to ask that we come to some understanding of how M is right to examine everything from a cost perspective, but how I would also like to be asked, included, in terms of my own sense of whether this could feel like home. Whether I can see "happy" there.

Fingers crossed!

Hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on March 08, 2020, 12:28:56 PM
That sounds like win-win compromise to me, Hops. I don't care how good a deal a property is - if it doesn't "feel" right to the person you want to share it with - that $$$$$ isn't going to make any difference long term.

There are robins here today.  :D
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on March 10, 2020, 01:50:25 AM
Thanks, Amber.
Simple, but truly you're right...it's the bottom line.

We saw the other house (same magical street) today and M really likes it.
I don't feel that "madly in love" feeling but could be happy there. It's very charming.

Smaller and less adaptable spaces than the first one, but we could make it work.
My piano would take up 1/4 of the living room, and he'd have to leave his ancient
one behind or put it in the basement (it's unplayable). So...dunno how that would fly. Fortunately the house is not even on the market yet, so there's not an intense rush to make decisions. I'm kind of stepping back to see what M wants to do, give him space to think. We could suddenly be under the gun to decide but at least right now, not.

It was a heavy day but, to me, a beneficial one. At T we dug deeper into what I'd experienced at the first house (they both got how emotional it was), and he shared more about what he feels overall in the present -- completely upside-down with a combo of anxiety (the market collapse), and grief over impending losses after wife's death (then professor friend, then his brother's dire diagnosis, and just yesterday, another relative diagnosed with the same deadly cancer --pancreatic-- that took his wife). Overall, our talk uncovered for me that underneath all the privilege and bluster, M is scared. The coronavirus is kind of a capper for him because for the first time in 40 years, he's not going to be with his sons to celebrate their birthday (same day, seven years apart; being with them then has been an annual thing since his oldest son's birth nearly 40 years ago). But because of the virus, he's not going back to California again this month. There are six cases in the town the kids live in, and they're scared too.

Right decision but it's just shaken M, who is feeling overwhelmed with change, past losses, upcoming losses...and literally, the meaning of life and death. I'm glad we talked so much and both listened better. I can see he's in a fairly dark place. As an uprooted man who's never quite been sure where he belongs, the threat of change and certainty of loss and fear of meaninglessness and death are peaking for him right now.

I get it. And oddly I feel pretty steady, not spiraling out myself. I have fears too but am seeing that although I can't predict the realities of my older age, I am safe now, and warm, and do have friends. I still want to wind up with M if as we work together in T these realizations continue to make us feel closer. But if I don't, I will remember that I got along without him before I met him. It was lonely at times, but I was living.

What I want to do for now is be supportive to him, not push him too hard, continue my own path and growth and time with him, and see what happens. We both have a lot on our plates and I've neglected my own life (writing, progress with home issues) since we met. That's on me (laziness, avoidance, plus ADD) and predated meeting him.

Live and learn is what I'm saying to myself. Live, and learn.

Hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on March 10, 2020, 04:01:50 AM
Aw, Hops.  I just want to give you both a big hug.  No arse kicking for M now :)  Maybe the house buying can take a back seat for a while?  It's a stressful business and as you're both raw at the minute, albeit for different reasons, maybe you could put it to one side for a while longer?  Just let things settle a bit, emotion and money wise?  Hugs to you both xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on March 10, 2020, 07:37:05 AM
That's my instinct, Tupp. And thanks for the hugs.
I think it's premature and with a huge chance prices will drop enormously coming up (virus and economy), it might make more sense to wait.

I still have the same security fears of old age, and moving in and marrying will take care of those. But we might go about our plans in better shape after some more months of counseling together. For now, I'm just going to wait and see what he says.

Didn't sleep all night for all the churning in my head, but on some level, also calmed down a bit.

Hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on March 10, 2020, 09:11:26 AM
Hops, I'm glad you appreciate seeing what is underlying M's frustrating and sometimes scary behaviors. Your famous compassion will guide you the right way, I'm sure. All while looking out for yourself. He's lucky, in that this is such a strong part of you.

The fact that you are BOTH working on it - from your respective roles/boundaries - is excellent; I think it's what we hold in common as the "ideal" of a partnership. You're giving him the time/space to resolve it for himself. With love & compassion. That's a big gift. I think you're right to go back to "Hops' space" for a bit... and maybe tidy things up there and relax a bit.

I will surmise a little bit: and say I think that there are differences in how men/women process and finally accept the big reality of life - that of certain, but hopefully only eventual death. There are variations out the wazoo - depending on the person's past experience and ego/personality quirks.

My management style, means for me, that planning for eventualities gives me some peace of mind. Even while admitting that the "plan" has to have flexibility for the things that a person simply can't see ahead of time. Dealing with that uncertainty - to me - is the hardest bit. The scariest. But having faced it in the not to distant past, dead on, is how I came to find that I have a deep well of TRUST. In exactly WHAT, I don't have clue one. I just trust that everything will be OK - even when it's NOT OK.

And I have no idea whether that's just some naive belief left over from my weird childhood... or what it is. It's certainly not something I can rationally defend as being logical. I just know it's as real as anything else in my life.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on March 10, 2020, 12:35:07 PM
That's my instinct, Tupp. And thanks for the hugs.
I think it's premature and with a huge chance prices will drop enormously coming up (virus and economy), it might make more sense to wait.

I still have the same security fears of old age, and moving in and marrying will take care of those. But we might go about our plans in better shape after some more months of counseling together. For now, I'm just going to wait and see what he says.

Didn't sleep all night for all the churning in my head, but on some level, also calmed down a bit.

Hugs
Hops

I understand the insecurities around some of the things Hops, but also know (from doing it many times!) that moving into the wrong place can be a costly and very expensive mistake.  You could maybe just keep your eyes open and if exactly the right thing comes up, you both love it, it's the right price and so on then great - but maybe put searching and viewing and really trying slightly to one side for now.  And like you say, you might find prices drop so you could end up getting something really lovely for less than you'd pay for it now.  I'm glad you're working things out and glad M is able to say what is troubling him like that - I think that says a lot of good things about him xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on March 10, 2020, 04:01:33 PM
Thanks, ((((((Amber)))))))).
I loved every word of your post.

I think you've doomed me, as I'm now addicted to Outlander.
Who KNEW? (It finally came to Netflix.)
Now that I am reminded of parallel universes (with hot Scots), this one is much less scary.
I'm connecting with my irrational TRUST too.
Because I don't think rationality is all there is.

Thanks, you.

And ((((Tupp))), I think I'm on the right page after all.
I think house-hunting right now is not sensible.
M's just lost a huge hunk more, and shoving ahead with a buy and a move would be nuts.
We're okay.

I'm mostly ready to hunker down.
I could stay in my house for a month or two without starving.
Didn't stock up a TON but have enough to stave off fear.

Staying home is cozy.
I'm not ready to go move in temporarily to do it with M (he tends to go out almost daily)...but we're in good touch.

His thoughts are just do scholarship; isolation will be okay.
Mine are Clean Up the ****ing House; isolation will be okay.

I think there's a chance folks will rediscover the delights of the telephone.

For some reason I'm just a lot calmer now.

love y'all,
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on March 10, 2020, 04:56:30 PM
Hops:

I'm so with you regarding cleaning up/out the house... I'm ready to fill the truck over and over and hit the GOODWILL.  I have zero desire to have a garage sale.

Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on March 31, 2020, 09:21:38 PM
Time for an update, I figure.

Had dinner at M's the other evening. We went for a walk and then ate on his deck. I only went indoors to pee and wiped down everything I'd touched with a disinfectant wipe. Easy. Pooch was more excited to see him than I was! (M and I'd had a nice walk and talk date a week ago, winding up in my back yard.)

Having settled back into my usual solitude for the last three weeks (except for very nice breaks of outdoor socializing)...I've had time and focus to think more about this relationship. I'm still in it, not quitting so far, and we're doing therapy which is great anyway.

But.

I've started to think that one reason M was so easy for me to get involved with was that his sparkly, entertaining, show-offy, demanding, conversation domination and self-absorbed incessantness is very like my Nmother's. I was raised and trained to placate, please and cope with that kind of behavior. I dread labeling it, but the Nword is in my head.

I've been reflecting on a lot of stuff about him that isn't coming up feeling good. There's still the fun and charming and at times generous stuff. I will talk about that again I'm sure. But right now, I'm allowing myself to look pretty plainly at things I seriously dislike. And ponder what that may mean. NOT making a decision right now; just feeling wary of plunging farther or faster down the road. And that's a good thing. In my life, rushed romance and premature commitments have always, always backfired.

I dislike it when M is passive-aggressive. Example: I've explained to him at least six times that although I understand that it's a courteous ritual he was raised with, I do not want him to "top off" or automatically refill my wineglass. If I decide I want more, I prefer to pour it myself. That's because wine tempts me, I know when I should stop, and M is more likely to want to carry on beyond my own limit. (And perhaps he enjoys treating me as a "drinking buddy.") So, at dinner, at one point he comes up behind me and SWIFTLY refills my glass. I didn't react immediately as I should have (it's tiring to be on max-reflex) so didn't object.

But I resented it. A small thing maybe, but another example of him deliberately marching over a boundary I'd set very clearly. It's as though having shared a vulnerability with him (I can be tempted to have more wine than I really should) -- that he took advantage of it.

Another. I've asked him not to call me after 9pm because I have severe insomnia and he tends to offload a lot of dire, anxious or forbidding or tragic comments about news or this or that, and then he's all sleepy and content, and I'm riled up from the exchange and can't sleep. A few nights back he calls me at 1030pm, yakking on in a similar vein. Same thing. He wants the comfort of my voice at bedtime and I absolutely resent that expectation. I'm not his mommy, it's deleterious for me, and I'd like him to respect my boundary.

The upshot is that even though I have a couple of close friends with whom I have the understanding that we are to each other a person you could call in an emergency any time of the day or night, I have to leave the ringer off all night because I cannot trust M to respect my wishes.

I withdrew today, quietly, after emailing him (and explaining nicely on the phone) that I just need to retreat and think. So just now I get an email from him full of a dire local projection about the virus, and he goes through this weird explanation of how he didn't know if he should tell me about it or not but felt that he "must" -- and it's another evening scary-news report. So he still manages to do that thing...even not on the phone. Upsets me either way.

The reason this kind of excuse-to-do-what-I-want-no-matter-what-you've-told-me-about-your-needs upsets me and riles me up is that I feel disrespected and overruled. He has done it before in many ways and I'm starting to just feel fed up. Partly virus irritability, but real.

Is as though in his cute, subtle, clever ways....he's passively needling me, poking at vulnerabilities, poke poke poke.

I've settled into my solitude more lately and he senses it. So we may just go through another round of this stuff. Which I loathe. I just don't want to have to battle my partner. There are men out there who will not needle, passive-aggress, and be infantile sometimes.

He wrote me the other night and closed his email (flattery) with a challenge:
"Will you keep being my conversation companion forever? (Answer now, with no equivocation!). [The last was a demand.]

I wrote back, nicely to the first part. Then wrote, "We can talk about your ultimate questions, but not on email." He wrote back, "We will TALK on Thursday!" I just didn't like his tone.

That's about it. I'm just weary of him right now. Doesn't mean I can't recover or we can't. But I am not enjoying comfort or support and feel it's mostly, almost all the time, ALL about him. I'm starting to toy with thoughts about other old fish in the sea, or even, given the pandemic...is it really going to be worth it to tie myself long-term to someone this immature.

Sigh. Thanks for listening.

Hugs to all,
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on March 31, 2020, 09:45:24 PM
Left off a big piece that stuck in my chest.
We were talking about my D with the T (which was extremely difficult for me). M described me to the T as "so hyper-sensitive" about her and said that at one point I was "spiraling...". He was looking so innocent but I felt it was gaslighting.

I'm going to address this in our next session. What sent a chill for me was that he often described his ex-wife as "crazy." That, in my understanding, is a CLASSIC way that some men denigrate women for having powerful emotions or getting upset. I intend to spell out that I do not accept that framing about me and will not let it pass.

I am BOTH sensitive and strong. I do have powerful emotions on some subjects, and have to set boundaries when someone is insensitive about that loss, but I am not hysterical nor irrational. I have never yelled or thrown anything or done anything unhinged whatsoever, even when talking about the most painful subject in my life.

So to have him begin "narrating me" to our therapist that way created a dark spot in my feelings for him.

I think the bottom line is, I don't fully trust him emotionally. On the surface he is mostly charming. In his core he is a decent person. But he's developed behavioral habits because of lack of insight...that concern me.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on April 01, 2020, 04:09:51 AM
Aw, Hops, I really understand that 'crazy' label.  It's a very destabilising and it demeans very real and relevant feelings and experiences.  I've had it thrown at me many times when I've stood up for my son.  We all have things we are sensitive about and when it comes to our children (big or small) of course we are sensitive, we love them and that pain with you D is so intense you would need to be made of stone not to feel it.  But I agree, him labelling it that way is inappropriate and a real shame, I think, that he's making that your problem instead of perhaps looking at his own need to poke around in that area when you've clearly explained to him not to.

And yes, it chimes with the other things you've said about him not respecting your boundaries, calling late in the evening to fill your head so he can empty his own and so on.  I'm sorry.  I think these crisis times do give us time to reflect and think (and sometimes remind us how much we like our own company as well).  I'm glad you're seeing it even though it's painful to see.  It's very easy to gloss over the less than pleasant bits when so many other things work well but you always pull the drawer out and check underneath it.  I really admire you for that.  I'm glad you feel able to discuss it with T next time you go in.  Is this still the nice T that has been so helpful so far? xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on April 01, 2020, 08:36:20 AM
Ya know Hops, I think often I overlook those small things... BECAUSE, instead of my guy always needing me to provide that emotional security - he's offering it to me. And it's VERY different from what I'm used to.

"Security" meaning I can trust him not to call so late my sleep is messed up; not ordering me around as if I'm chattel... boundaries/routines respected and worked with. Mike did pretty well with that, even if he WAS exceptionally needy - he wasn't selfish; Buck is better. He pays attention to my routines and is very considerate.

It sounds like you're describing the balance of emotional support given/asked for within the circle of the two of you. And something just isn't working... after a year, and even T. It's just me, but if after that much time - it's still the very same thing bugging you - it's something that isn't going to change; it'll always be there. Maybe you can learn to love that too... maybe you just can't.

The high priestess, the exalted (and humble!) Amber gives you permission to learn to live with his habits, or perhaps expand your horizons... or even do nothing for a little bit... including perhaps, restating your boundaries and standing firm without worrying about HIS feelings in reaction to that.

:insert magic wand sparkles:
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on April 01, 2020, 11:33:32 AM
::stepping into Amber's magic sparkle dust::.

I think Amber's right.

This is going to be about you, Hops, changing how you view M's behaviors rather than M learning to change all the things pinging off warning bells and reminding you of your mother's behaviors....  "the law of contagion"... our minds using context to connect things and provide meaning through our amygdala.  M's doomed if your brain interprets his behaviors with all reactivity your mother's behaviors built through the years, IMO.

This, for me, ties into a video I watched recently about what global THING everyone on the planet fears.  I won't spoil it for you, but it ties into this thread.... at least in my Lighter view of things.  Think Pavlov's dogs here.  Here's the link
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Vmwsg8Eabo

I wish I'd had access EMDR sessions throughout my life.  To see what's in front of me, with clarity, would have been a priceless gift. 

Having access to that gift feels like magic wand sparkles to me.

Lighter




Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on April 01, 2020, 11:56:35 AM
Thank you, Tupp. Very much.
I really appreciate your understanding my sensitivity to how he uses words...it just disturbed me. If M is a true N, then oh so "reasonably" laying down labels and descriptions that are sabotage-y like that, is classic. One reason it really got to me, how he began describing me to the T last time, was it reminded me of when I was in the ER after the stroke, still able to communicate although haltingly, M was telling my friend that I didn't know what I wanted because I was "very confused." Using his wise-professor voice and authoritative persona. Those things have gaslight written all over them, in my book. And again, it's a question of how do I feel about him when I am vulnerable? Do I really feel safe being vulnerable around M?

There is no more vulnerable subject in my life than my D. Talking about her in his presence I am filled with fear and dread of being manipulated. So...I think the truth is, I'll need to give up all hope of him helping her as he had often trumpeted he was so eager to do. I think he simply can't do it without angling for psychological advantage for himself in the process. If I say, okay, that's not happening, subject closed again, I think that his choice will fester in me as a power move ("I don't want to jump through Hops' hoops to do that"--meaning when I gave him the simple steps that would be okay with me for him donating to her fundraiser) that ultimately has denied her help. Right now, she's desperate again online, begging for money for meds. I shouldn't have looked.

And I'm resenting him for it. He has bragged to me recently how wonderful it feels to send big checks to his sons. It just seems colossally insensitive to me, given that he knows about D and at least at one time, was boasting about how he wanted to help her. This is where money and entitlement and power issues (and oh Lord, possibly N-ism) intersect. My fiercely awake self would prefer to die poor but proud, rather than cope with that. Then my scared self wakes up and says, fool! You'd be SAFE if you commit to him for life! This whole renewed discussion we broached with the joint-T last week has brought back up the question in me, safe maybe, but at what cost?

Then again, I am aware that although I've been full of cheer and hope and positivity as best I can, yesterday the virus and what is happening in various places really got to me for the first time. So I'm always ready to doubt myself, and ask...is this just existential fear, and am I being fair to M? Then I went and read another article on Nism in Psychology Today and being honest with myself, he fit 5 out of 7 things described to a T.

That has set off a whole new debate with myself about my capacity to be intentional and willing to risk life alone again, if M is indeed an N. It's a tough call and I don't want to decide immediately. Especially if "virus stress" has distorted my perceptions.

I'm going to talk with my personal T today about all this, in an online session. She's very kind and smart and supportive. I think she's pretty skeptical about M. What she said most recently about him was that she feels I've been very very patient with him and in her view I've allowed him to get away with a lot, because I'm so focused on his needs, understanding and empathizing with him, etc.

It's people who are deeply fair, deeply honest and so forth, plus emotionally responsive, who often get sucked into the backwash with Ns, I believe. I would hate to get back into that old cycle as I spent much of my life coping with my Nmother's disability and later my Daughter's. But I'm older and scareder and am tempted by security. Right now I'm confused and scared and ambivalent.

Maybe it's just a cycle, triggered by the pandemic, and maybe it'll be okay, and I'll be back on describing how absolutely wonderful and delightful M has just become again. Very possible.

Thanks much again.

Hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on April 01, 2020, 12:06:16 PM
Amber, thank you for this:

Quote
if after that much time - it's still the very same thing bugging you - it's something that isn't going to change; it'll always be there. Maybe you can learn to love that too... maybe you just can't.

It's just a succinct, reality-based description of where I am. This is exactly what I need to sit with...perhaps more calmly than I've done for the last day and evening! I do have a T, I do have friends, I do have you guys. I don't need to assume I will fall apart.

And this too:

Quote
permission to learn to live with his habits, or perhaps expand your horizons... or even do nothing for a little bit... including perhaps, restating your boundaries and standing firm without worrying about HIS feelings in reaction to that.

These really are my choices. Thanks for stating them so clearly. It really helps.

Mega hugs,
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on April 01, 2020, 01:37:46 PM
I hear you, Lighter:

Quote
This is going to be about you, Hops, changing how you view M's behaviors rather than M learning to change all the things pinging off warning bells

There's a little bit of unreality in that for me, though. It'll take some time and some more months of single-T and joint-T sessions, probably. But what I am asking my wisest inner self (hellloooo! please come back sooooon!) is this: If M's behaviors ARE warning bells of the personality disorder I was raised to be drawn to and most dread, then perhaps I should NOT change how I view his behaviors.

If I am over-reacting (layering it over Nmother trauma memories as you astutely mention) then you are right. My goal then would be to de-escalate it and remove its "charge." In my own T work and inner work. So I can stay with M.

It's not really a binary choice. My challenge, I believe, would be to find out how deeply and how much his N-ish (I am VERY confident using that adjective, with the "ish") behavior distresses me because of its emotional impact on me. Are we truly a good fit?

If it bothers me only a little now and then, and I should look at it with fond benevolence--oh, the little Nboy is acting out, I don't have to react...then the answer's pretty easy. Most of the time I enjoy his company, even though I find him extremely self absorbed. Maidenly [edit: Maddeningly! I HATE AUTOCORRECT! LOL!] , at times.

If it bothers me so much it shakes me to the core and keeps me awake all night (has quite a few times), maybe I do have to react proactively in my own self-interest. When I feel strong I can fight for myself. Then there are times I wish I didn't HAVE to be so strong, to be in this relationship. I'd like to feel safe just being however I feel, with him.

My goal isn't so much to be right or in control of everything, as it is to be wise. One friend I've talked about it with sees how much I do NOT want to live on guard, always strategizing my emotional safety, tense about defending boundaries he ignores, and ever-ready to detour around his passive-aggressive stuff during times of tension. There are simply times, particularly as I age, when I would be quite vulnerable to his attitudes and his choices. And I want to be wise around whether M is someone I can trust with my vulnerability long-term.

So far, even after a year and a month, I'm not sure. But it ain't over. I am pretty convinced this is not about the pandemic, but sure as hell is converging with that fear too.

Just called him as he'd asked. This usually happens when I place the call. He answers hello? And immediately, instantly, launches into a long monologue of whatever he's stored up. It can go on nonstop for 10-15 minutes. Eventually, he remembers to ask about me. I am not sure how interested he actually is, but he manages that courtesy better than he used to.

What I remember, growing up with them-thar fancy telephones...was an etiquette that, when someone calls YOU, you say Hello, and then how are you? Or, what's going on? Or such. IOW, a person calls someone to speak to them. With M, the unwritten rule is, someone calls me so I can speak to THEM, and he instantly launches into it. So he speaks first and most, and I get to tag on my own story sometimes, and shorter.

Oh, so familiar. You're right about that!

Hugs
Hops

PS She also said something that surprised me: that the widespread belief that people who are Ns or have many N-behaviors never ever change, is based on old research. That was an optimistic thought. NOT (hah) that M would have a wholesale personality transplant (I wouldn't want that anyway) but that she doesn't automatically assume he could never change any of his most triggering behaviors toward me. He is highly motivated to make our relationship last (even more than I am, because I am willing to leave). And I think she was suggesting that it's perhaps more useful to think about him in terms of him being profoundly insecure, rather than fixate on the N term. (She mentioned his deep insecurity. Not that I can't ever use the N ism vocabulary, but that other language for what he does is insecurity. I will find out if he can practice empathy, at least enough of it, with me.)

The couples-T, the Sikh, is kind enough to come to my back yard tomorrow, to do an outdoor session with us on my private back patio, since M has declared he feels "unsafe" going into the office building. I told her I had wondered whether it was really the virus he was scared of, or was it continuing a challenging conversation we had last time. She instantly said she thought it was the latter. I do too, but since M had already met with me in my back yard, and I assured him he would always be six feet away from the T, and he would be touching nothing the T had touched, he was safe. I think he has no excuse to wiggle out of it, so he's coming.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on April 01, 2020, 03:12:50 PM
Just unloaded it all with my own T, with an online session (which I find surprisingly intimate, because our faces are closer....works really well for me). She is so supportive. Her main message was that she trusts me, that I'm seeing clearly and asking myself the right questions, and describing behaviors (his and mine) accurately.

I told her I am trying to figure out if I'm judging him as though through a screen or ghost of my mother, or whether I can see the good and sweet and especially motivated sides of him, and see him as LESS N-ish than she was.

She followed all of it, which is great. She said she will always offer any insights she feels might help, but that for now what she feels is more than labeling or diagnosing as much as she is in supporting me in experiencing and telling my own story, which she responds to as "a lot" but also meaningful and worth deep attention. She expresses confidence that I will find resolution that is right for me; she doesn't tell me what that resolution will be.

That makes sense to me, and I do feel very supported.

The difference between the T and you guys is that you guys don't get paid. And that's totally UNFAIR. Because the thinking and insights and support you so generously give me here are worth a truckload of face masks.

Thanks from the heart,
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on April 01, 2020, 03:26:44 PM
Aw, Hops.  It's tough.  There's such a delicate balance, I think, between no relationship being perfect, we all have to give and take, compromise is inevitable, and so on, and then that often subtle descent into what might become, at best, an unhappy relationship and, at worst, something bordering on abusive (at least from an emotional point of view).  My thoughts, for you to take or leave as you see fit, of course:

I do get your points about the difficulty M seems to have with respecting your boundaries (many different examples).  I also see that he's undertaken the therapy and does seem to be trying to work on himself.  But then when you mention that he is topping up your wine glass (when you've asked him not to), calling you late in the evening (when you've asked him not to), calling you hyper-sensitive about your D (I see that as his issue rather than yours.  You are, understandably, in a very difficult situation when it comes to your D and all you asked of him was to respect that you find it very painful to talk about and so not to delve too deeply in to that.  That's very healthy, on your part, and it's a shame that he doesn't see it in that way).  I feel the same way that Skep does - if he's still doing it, maybe it will just always be how he is.  Deeply ingrained behaviour that he can't quite shake off.  Old habits and all that.

I did notice you mentioned him 'bragging' about the cheques he sends to his sons, rather than him just mentioning it.  I thought the fact that he comes across as bragging was quite telling.  I understand your need or desire for a safe and comfortable retirement and I truly do get that.  Although I'm younger than you, I have no pension, savings or capital and am unlikely to achieve any of those things before retirement age without a lottery win or a best selling novel (written whilst I'm asleep by fairies or something).  So I completely, completely understand the worry of being alone and fairly skint.  I also worry that you might end up not being emotionally safe if your fears about M do turn out to be right, and also if even the fact that he does have a good income would work well for you?  You've mentioned him not seeming to be willing to help D out now (and I'm sorry she's struggling again.  It's heartbreaking that she goes through this and only natural that you peek from time to time).  You also had the house 'thing' the other week where he just said no when he could have said yes.  And I'm thinking about the holiday where you ended up in the jungle house with him being pretty difficult?  So I'm not sure that even financial safety is something you could be sure of?  It sounds as if it might be a source of difficulty as things go along.

I do think that at times like this - with scary viruses and knowing your D is not doing too well again - we can ramp up fears and anxieties and they become bigger than they would be without the other things going on.  But I also think that, when we go through tough times, the people in our lives should be a port in the storm in those situations - a voice of calm, some reassurance, some practical support, etc - and not another situation we have to deal with.  It does trouble me that you're not currently thinking "I'm so glad I've got M while the world is crumbling around us" and instead you're thinking, "I must switch my phone off so he doesn't rile me up so much I can't get to sleep".

I don't think you've over-reacted to any of the things that have happened - if anything I agree with your T that you've been very patient and very committed to talking, reaching agreements, stating your boundaries and so on.  I don't think it matters really whether M is an N or if you are over responding to what he does because I think we've all got our 'things' we carry with us.  But it does matter whether or not you are a good fit and I agree with your friend that you don't want to have to be on your guard and to keep defending your boundaries.  I find that 'being talked at for fifteen minutes' thing exhausting and to be honest I avoid people who do that now.  It's just too tiring and I do think it's about them, because you can't get a word in.  I used to have a friend (I don't really talk to her anymore) who could talk for an hour like that - literally just deliver a monologue.  I used to think I could just put the phone on the side and go and have a bath and she wouldn't know.  It's tiring.

What I think is really, really, really good is that you don't have to make any decisions one way or another for months yet, Hopsie, even years if need be.  There is no reason for you not to carry on seeing him (when you want to), taking time out (if you want), seeing couples T, speaking to your own T, and so on, for really as long as you need.  I do think there will come a point when you do just know.  Something inside figures it out while our brains run around, I think.  But it is very hard and I do feel for you.  I would love you to meet a male version of yourself that you could just be with and that be that.  Maybe Buck had a brother? :)  Lol I hope the T session was helpful and gave you some clarity xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on April 01, 2020, 03:28:08 PM
And I think you posted the T update as I was writing I hope it went well and it looks like it did!  Lol xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on April 01, 2020, 05:30:37 PM
It did, Tupp.

Thanks so much again for all the reassurance and understanding. I felt very heard.

And I'm drained but feel ready for the Sikh's visit here tomorrow.

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on April 01, 2020, 05:41:42 PM
Hang in there Hops!

It's my opinion, that you deserve to have a relationship that you feel - even when vulnerable - safe in. Maybe there's a way for M to hear that and then work backwards to how specific things he does causes you concern about that.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on April 01, 2020, 06:39:25 PM
I hear you, Lighter:

Quote
This is going to be about you, Hops, changing how you view M's behaviors rather than M learning to change all the things pinging off warning bells

There's a little bit of unreality in that for me, though. It'll take some time and some more months of single-T and joint-T sessions, probably. But what I am asking my wisest inner self (hellloooo! please come back sooooon!) is this: If M's behaviors ARE warning bells of the personality disorder I was raised to be drawn to and most dread, then perhaps I should NOT change how I view his behaviors.  I believe that too, Hops.  To clarify... I believe you should see what is true and what isn't true about M WITHOUT the old warning bells and red flags of your history pinning your nose to ever pebble and tree so you can't see the forest or field.  I want you to see the filed and forest, and not ONLY the pebbles and trees.  Does that make sense?

Whatever decisions you make... they should be rooted in the present, not in your history. 

If M is your mother, is an N, is toxic.... then that is what he is.

If M is in pain, suffering..... unable to control some of his actions, bc he's human like the rest of us..... if his struggle isn't your mother's struggle, isn't her actions, isn't really THAT.... you should see that clearly.  Whatever its...  I want you to see the truth, calmly, without judgment..... without past or future or ego involvement.
 


If I am over-reacting (layering it over Nmother trauma memories as you astutely mention) then you are right. My goal then would be to de-escalate it and remove its "charge." In my own T work and inner work. So I can stay with M.  Whether you choose to stay with M or not stay.... taking that charge out of your limbic system is something you're worthy of, and can have for yourself.
 It's not about M or seeking out old struggles..... it's about how you SEE, what you see..... CAN you see what's true in your present moment, free of fear and experiences?  I know you can do that, but IME it takes some magic wand dust, gaining spaciousness..... coming to our senses....... and looking at everything without judgment.  If this IS repeating old struggles, and M IS toxic then that's what is true.  If M is a suffering human being, reminding you of your mother bc of experiences, but just a human being pinging off old alarm bells that AREN'T really about him.... then that's the truth.  Maybe all the negative emotions that pop up will dissolve and you'll feel patience and relief instead of dread, worry, doubt, and frustration.  I have no idea.

What I do know is the work is ours.  Learning to SEE with clarity is helpful and good and feels true.  The fear, anxiety, and ego involvement stuff feels sketchy and temporary, IME. Living in our limbic system isn't truth or reality and it's OK to just BE there, notice when we're there, come to our sense and come to the real truth.  Whatever it is. 

I do feel identifying M's behaviors as your "mother's" behaviors, as "N".... is telling a story and it's a big scary story, IMO.  What do you see if you identify M as a human being, product of all his experiences, flawed and suffering..... what do you see as truth for him, for you, between you? 
 


It's not really a binary choice. My challenge, I believe, would be to find out how deeply and how much his N-ish (I am VERY confident using that adjective, with the "ish") behavior distresses me because of its emotional impact on me. Are we truly a good fit?  I don't know, but I trust you to gain some distance, center yourself in your body and figure that out for yourself. 

If it bothers me only a little now and then, and I should look at it with fond benevolence--oh, the little Nboy is acting out, I don't have to react...then the answer's pretty easy. Most of the time I enjoy his company, even though I find him extremely self absorbed. Maidenly, at times.  I don't think M is a little boy, but he has his wounded child within that takes him into his limbic system, just like the rest of us.  Just like you.  Just like me.  When M is IN his limbic system he loses his ability to respond to you in the way you've asked.   It seems he's honored your boundaries at times, and is committed to honoring them... or am I wrong?  Would the couple T say he's trying, committed and working on that for the benefit of the relationship?  If M's truly Nish.... I don't think he could do that, but that's MY experience.  That's MY stuff and it's not fair to SEE M through that lens or the lens you see your mother through. 

I think... 
you know I'm just winging it here, right?  What I'm writing feels true and solid to me.  Whatever outcome... SEEING M clearly, without attaching your mother to him or his actions, seems like it's necessary and helpful, IMO.

I have no dog in this fight, other than wanting you to be OK, safe, and happy.
 I don't want you trapped in a toxic relationship with an N who bullies and controls you through an unhealthy imbalance of power, bc of money.  I also don't want you to SEE M without clarity, make assumptions or attach old stuff or what if fears TO HIM, bc that's just as bad, IMO, as being trapped... maybe. 


If it bothers me so much it shakes me to the core and keeps me awake all night (has quite a few times), maybe I do have to react proactively, in my own self-interest. When I feel strong I can fight for myself. Then there are times I wish I didn't HAVE to be so strong, to be in this relationship. I'd like to feel safe just being however I feel, with him.  I know you're strong, Hops. That can be a double edged sword IF we're working hard to maintain a toxic relationship, fooling yourself, working hard to live in denial bc everyone runs out of energy, everyone ends up drained under those circumstances, IME. 

BUT... if you're hard work is SEEING what's really there, finding it worthwhile and positive in the whole, then doing what you can, that's within your power to bring about homeostasis in the relationship....
trust
comfort
general wellbeing
fellowship
desire for connection as well as time apart...
IF you can break it into more positive pieces, and extinguish the negative pieces bc they were a reaction.... IF they weren't a response to toxic N behaviors that will get worse and lead to misery for both you and M......

Lots of ifs in there, Hops, but I believe you can discern what's real and true and what's old stuff, fear stuff, reactive stuff, wrong stuff. 


My goal isn't so much to be right or in control of everything, as it is to be wise. One friend I've talked about it with sees how much I do NOT want to live on guard, always strategizing my emotional safety, tense about defending boundaries he ignores, and ever-ready to detour around his passive-aggressive stuff during times of tension. There are simply times, particularly as I age, when I would be quite vulnerable to his attitudes and his choices. And I want to be wise around whether M is someone I can trust with my vulnerability long-term.  Again, you have choices.  Discern what's real and SEE the truth or make assumptions.  I think any choice you make will be the right choice. 

This COULD be you replaying old struggles with your mother.
This COULD be M chose you to play the role you played with your mother.
THis COULD be you living in your limbic system, particularly bc of new stresses and bc current/ongoing ones with M ping alarm bells that aren't really about the same danger/crisis/red flags.
 Maybe M isn't worth the trouble.  Maybe he is.  I think you're going to find out.


So far, even after a year and a month, I'm not sure. But it ain't over. I am pretty convinced this is not about the pandemic, but sure as hell is converging with that fear too.  Multiple scary things converge to make super fears pop up.  Watch that video.  It helped me calm myself down, as did the T appt, and SEE things without reactivity lately.  I'm open to whatever the truth is, but I can't see it if I'm living in my limbic system, which is where I've been for the last 2 days.

Just called him as he'd asked. This usually happens when I place the call. He answers hello? And immediately, instantly, launches into a long monologue of whatever he's stored up. It can go on nonstop for 10-15 minutes. Eventually, he remembers to ask about me. I am not sure how interested he actually is, but he manages that courtesy better than he used to.  We all need that person who's our rock.  To listen to everything about us, good and bad.  To understand and validate us.  YOU are M's rock.  He's not YOUR rock. 

You mention he's getting better at asking about you, which means he's changing, at least a bit. I don't know what that change is made of, or if it's based in something you can find comfort in, Hops.


What I remember, growing up with them-thar fancy telephones...was an etiquette that, when someone calls YOU, you say Hello, and then how are you? Or, what's going on? Or such. IOW, a person calls someone to speak to them. With M, the unwritten rule is, someone calls me so I can speak to THEM, and he instantly launches into it. So he speaks first and most, and I get to tag on my own story sometimes, and shorter.  I have to ask myself a question, bc that's a pattern in my life also.  DID I train people to behave that way?  I can tell you I often find myself just wishing the other person will blather on so I don't have to speak.  I also find myself wishing to share and tell my story at times, often without getting the chance.  I know I train people to treat me the way I get treated more often than I realize.  I'm sorting that out, or trying to now.

On the other hand, there are people I've had in my life who are impossible to have an adult exchange with.  I have the feeling you DO have adult exchanges with M, or he wouldn't find you so fascinating, good company.  I also have the feeling his need to be heard and tell you things is SUPER HUGE compared to your need, which perhaps has become even smaller bc M doesn't understand exactly what's going on.
 He pushes in, you pull back.  Your pulling back might be interpreted as something it's not, and I'm babbling at this point about what ifs that need to be sorted into what's true.... what's false. 

I don't expect you to do anything but sort out the truth for yourself, Hops and you're more than capable of doing that for yourself. 


Oh, so familiar. You're right about that!
Rhetorical question....
if something feels familiar, is it the same?
Could it be something else?
Here's how things went for me recently.  IF I can shift into the moment... come back to my senses.... I SEE things from other people's perspectives.  Their flaws, fears, what made them what they are and I can have enough compassion to SEE the truth without becoming emotionally triggered in any way.

IF I'm emotionally triggered, in any way, I can't see the other person's POV, or have compassion for them... and that's an indicator for me. 

I'm not saying having compassion for M means you stay in any type of romantic relationship.  I'm saying that feeling chased and hunted and stressed and pressured and manipulated is typically, for me, an indication I'm living in my limbic system and I can shift into a much better space if I work at it and pay attention.  From THAT vantage point I have more clarity, more ability to respond and make choices about what's real and what's ego/past/future what if stuff.

I trust you'll do what you need to do with M.  I trust you won't make a BIG mistake and if you do.... you can change your mind, shift directions, do something else, ((Hops))  You aren't trapped, but I have a sense you're feeling trapped. 

IF you're seeing things clearly maybe you'll see M is an N, just like your mother, toxic and wrong for you WITHOUT feeling the negative things, bc you've gained emotional distance, access to your entire brain and the ability to see any truth without emotional reactivity. Think of Victor Frankl.  M shouldn't be able to invade your serenity IF you're in control of your biology, and living in the moment, nose off the pebble, seeing the entire field. Are you seeing the entire field, Hops?   Is your nose on a pebble?  Many pebbles? 

Does that make sense?  Lord, I did blather on, but I broke a glass in the kitchen and have to get on the glass break protocol..... a deep cleaning of all surfaces that is definitely OCD.  No doubt about it.  Then I'll enjoy feeling I'm back at my Grandparent's farmhouse, in Grandma's ver clean,  very tidy kitchen.... sacred space for me.

What do you remember about EMDR.  How do you get back in your body?  I remember you talking about ways many years ago...  on this board.  You've been looking at and perhaps practicing this stuff long before I heard of it.  I can tell you this.... it didn't make sense to me until I had a T explain aspects to me so everything came together and clicked.  I heard about it for years, and just couldn't make it work and it had to be THAT one T, her style, her information delivered in the right way for me to process and apply. 

M isn't bad or good.  N or saint.  He's just a guy who's life experiences have made him what he is.  He suffers.... I think that's apparent.  The question is.... can he calm himself down and hear you.... be more responsive and less reactive while he's with you? 

He can or he can't.  If we remove judgment it's easier to see what's real.  If our brains are processing normally we aren't limited to black or white options... we have access to creative problem-solving skills and the spaciousness of more choice, less fear... and we know we're going to be OK, no matter what. You've been through tougher things than this.  You're so smart and competent.  You'll figure it out.

Lighter

Hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on April 01, 2020, 10:23:46 PM
Thanks, Lighter. Thanks for all the detail and energy you've put into this.

I think you pose a lot of challenges I can't yet meet: completely unhooking from the N-associations from my past is one. If I could be so Buddha-like as you describe, it wouldn't occur to me to freak out about that. But all I have to go on is my best mingling of past realizations with a desire for those painful learnings to also inform my present, so I don't repeat the same mistakes in sacrificing myself on a cold altar, repeating an old role I don't want to play any more.

It was such a huge role, for so long, that at times it takes what feels like huge energy to push past it. But I wouldn't be examining myself, and M, so closely, if I didn't want it to become easier. I may be gettin' old but I'm going to keep on learning until I croak.

You ease me back into compassion for M, seeing him as a suffering person. I can and do see that. And can be very tender and supportive for him when he's in distress. I just am sorry that he is not that receptive, comforting figure for me. I have to turn elsewhere for calm, supportive comfort when I need it. His need and his anxieties are too great for him to swap rock times with me, alas.

I mostly weather distresses on my own, because I don't find him a reliable or safe partner for those moments.

Tonight I'm way better. Energized all day, getting stuff done. Feeling anchored in myself and much stronger than for the last day or so.

Got my garden beds readied by a friend's son who needs work, and have the veggie seeds soaking overnight. Tomorrow after our Sikh session we'll work together to dribble the seeds down the rows and feel the joy of first planting. I'm hoping our little garden will be a comforting distraction for us both during this siege.

M was extra distressed today because someone in his field, a younger man, died of the virus. His own fear is so intense that he kept saying he wanted to skip our open-air, zero touching, no contact, T appointment. I have to say I agree with my own T's instincts...he just doesn't want to face the conversation that's coming.

I am looking forward to being heard. That's really it. And I feel adult again. My scared child has survived the night and I'm ready for a productive day. (After three weeks lolling about and NOT cleaning my house. Now, I'm in gear...laundry, disinfecting, sheets changed despite my back, etc. Feels good to be engaging in my home and my well being.)

More later, and thanks again...(btw, I've never done EMDR, but maybe this little bit of gardening is going to be what gets me back into the body).

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: CB123 on April 01, 2020, 11:30:43 PM
Hops,

You are stronger than you know, and more perceptive than you give yourself credit for.

There will be many more social structures in place in the near future to help people than there once was. You will be safe. You know how to survive and to take care of your needs. There will be many voices in your head whispering that you can't, maybe your own. But you can.

So grateful to have known you all these years,

CB
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on April 02, 2020, 12:39:10 AM
((((((((CB)))))))))))

I am beyond grateful for you too.
You have been a lovely lodestar for me for so long.

And thank you for speaking of my strength.
One of the loveliest things is to hear it and believe it.

I have to process anxiety when it comes, by just super-verbalizing
until I've pounded it all into a shape I can work with. The last two
days have just been about that, really, and I feel stronger now because
of it.

Sending you and your kids much love, comfort, courage. I know they
have a lot of their mother's resilience and intelligence, and hope they
all stay healthy and wise. You made great people and you ARE a great person.

When you can, update us more on how you're coping, job, and your provisions.

love
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on April 20, 2020, 01:23:39 PM
Zoom T-session with M coming up in a few hours.

I've realized it's pretty simple what I need today. I need to tell them, I think there are only two things for me that I need to work in our relationship. Listening, and empathy. Can you (T) help us with those?

When I fell the other day, in those seconds of pain and shock on the floor, one of my first flash-thoughts was, better not tell M. That's not new, but it was a simple re-stating of a truth: he is not a comfort, emotionally, because his focus becomes instantly about himself, his role, or his feelings if it's serious. I would shortly turn to writing a close friend about how it happened and how I felt. Later, when M called, after his usual huge waterfall of lengthy talk about himself, he said, "Oh how did it go with friend's visit today?" Then I got to briefly tell him it was very nice being outside with her, and then told him about my fall, in a brief description. He didn't seem interested and asked zero questions. Shortly he said, "It'll be fine" and switched right back into talking about himself again. That was it.

I told him the next day that I had felt disappointment, that what I'd really needed was some empathy. He said I do feel empathy, that's why I said I'd bring you anything you needed. Classic male socialization, I know...to do actions, to be dutiful. And that's valuable. I appreciated the offer, and told him, I'd like a big salad, and he brought one by, and we sat on the porch in the sun and I was very glad to see him.

It was very similar to how I felt with the stroke. In the moment of crisis, I need to avoid him, because he makes it all about himself and how he feels or sees himself in his role as the one in charge. But the very next day, with him sitting in my hospital room, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for his support.

It was interesting to figure out the difference. What I yearn for is a partner who can offer empathy AND practical support. M only has practical support, dutiful actions, to give. He just doesn't do empathy.

In the post-fall conversation, I tried to explain to him what I'd needed was any kind of empathic interest, that it might appear in comments or questions like:
Ow! That must've hurt!
Did you think you broke anything?
You must've been scared, falling alone.
I'm sorry that happened.

He just said, I do feel empathy, which is why I said I'd bring food.

I believe him. I believe he believes that taking action or stating he will, IS empathy. And it's churlish of me to complain about what else I need/want, but it also brings me a lot of clarity. And helps guide me about where to go in our shared therapy.

My guess is, M will feel defensive. He's already pushed back by saying that his reactions in these situations ARE empathy and doesn't engage or respond to anything I describe that is what I think is empathy. (He'll write me emails about how he is there for me and will do anything I need and loves loves loves me...he is VERY focused on loving in his writing, just not behaviorally in the present). But in person, when I mention it, he disengages, looks away while looking a little irritated, and to me, demonstrates that he is not going to look within.)

So I'm going to be very careful to not make it a criticism of him. Just tell the Sikh, I think we have differences in what we need. M needs most my intellectual, conversational companionship. I enjoy that part of our relationship a lot, but think other parts would grow deeper if we also dealt with listening and empathy. Can you help us with that? Or do I need to accept that it is what it is, we're both doing the best we can, and if I need listening or empathy, I should just continue to get those needs met with other people?

I think that might be a good approach. It's honest and it's not blaming.

Fingers crossed...

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on April 20, 2020, 02:02:20 PM
I hear you, Lighter:

Quote
This is going to be about you, Hops, changing how you view M's behaviors rather than M learning to change all the things pinging off warning bells

There's a little bit of unreality in that for me, though. It'll take some time and some more months of single-T and joint-T sessions, probably. But what I am asking my wisest inner self (hellloooo! please come back sooooon!) is this: If M's behaviors ARE warning bells of the personality disorder I was raised to be drawn to and most dread, then perhaps I should NOT change how I view his behaviors.

If I am over-reacting (layering it over Nmother trauma memories as you astutely mention) then you are right. My goal then would be to de-escalate it and remove its "charge." In my own T work and inner work. So I can stay with M.

It's not really a binary choice. My challenge, I believe, would be to find out how deeply and how much his N-ish (I am VERY confident using that adjective, with the "ish") behavior distresses me because of its emotional impact on me. Are we truly a good fit?

If it bothers me only a little now and then, and I should look at it with fond benevolence--oh, the little Nboy is acting out, I don't have to react...then the answer's pretty easy. Most of the time I enjoy his company, even though I find him extremely self absorbed. Maidenly [edit: Maddeningly! I HATE AUTOCORRECT! LOL!] , at times.

If it bothers me so much it shakes me to the core and keeps me awake all night (has quite a few times), maybe I do have to react proactively in my own self-interest. When I feel strong I can fight for myself. Then there are times I wish I didn't HAVE to be so strong, to be in this relationship. I'd like to feel safe just being however I feel, with him.  I agree with everything you've said, Hops.  And you shouldn't have to fight all the time in any relationship, IMO. 

SEEING what's true is the goal, I agree. 

IF it's just the little N boy acting up, not all the time, and you responding without emotional charge, calmly, not disturbed to the core and up for nights..... that's a truth worth knowing.

IF he's like your mother, and won't change, and actually requires you be upset, bc that's part of his need to feel OK.... that's an important truth, but I don't know it's the truth.  He seems not very aware of your reactions...... but you'd know better than me.

I will say this, though you know it already.....
this discomfort you're dealing with is a message... you need to make a move.  I don't know what moves will resolve it, and restore serenity.  I only know that messages sometimes feel like THE PROBLEM, when they're just discomfort we're meant to deal with and I you're one person focused on figuring that discomfort out and fixing it to the best of your ability, whatever that looks like. 

I don't sense fear or confusion.  I sense reactivity... we all deal with that.... and I sense your happiness when things click with M.... when you aren't stuggling and working too hard to make it OK.

 


My goal isn't so much to be right or in control of everything, as it is to be wise. One friend I've talked about it with sees how much I do NOT want to live on guard, always strategizing my emotional safety, tense about defending boundaries he ignores, and ever-ready to detour around his passive-aggressive stuff during times of tension. There are simply times, particularly as I age, when I would be quite vulnerable to his attitudes and his choices. And I want to be wise around whether M is someone I can trust with my vulnerability long-term.  There's an answer to that, Hops.  It's a solvable puzzle.  You'll figure it out, and feel grounded and right about that decision, no doubt. 

So far, even after a year and a month, I'm not sure. But it ain't over. I am pretty convinced this is not about the pandemic, but sure as hell is converging with that fear too.  It's one more stress on top of other stressors, Hops.  Maybe it's what gets you to the answers more quickly with more speed. 

Just called him as he'd asked. This usually happens when I place the call. He answers hello? And immediately, instantly, launches into a long monologue of whatever he's stored up. It can go on nonstop for 10-15 minutes. Eventually, he remembers to ask about me. I am not sure how interested he actually is, but he manages that courtesy better than he used to.

Well.... he's improving, for what that's worth.  What is it worth?  How does it feel?  Heavy or light?

About the chattering like a deranged monkey with zero ability to control himself... I have experience with similar monkeys.  I had a talk with one of those monkeys lately and we both agreed that monkey just needed to vent, and be heard.  I didn't need to answer, give advice, problem solve or take my mind out of my own business while the monkey chattered.  Some monkeys need to process verbally and touch base with their rocks.  I guess you're one of or THE rock for M. 

I'm curious.... what do discussions around this sound like with him, if you'd brought it up?  Would be be cool with you just being there, not really investing in the conversation?  Just letting him unload so you can both go back to your day feeling OK?

Or would be be upset you aren't participating, giving advice and making him FEEL better by suggesting this and that?  I couldn't do that, Hops.   Especially if I felt I would be punished for taking care of myself, and not him. 

M needs to want you to be OK too.  He needs to make that possible, facilitate where he can and not punish you in any way.  I really think the true measure of a relationship is in how we respond to not getting what we want.  Do we still want happiness and health for our loved one or do we go out of our way to F them up and make them sorry?  Is that what M does?  In any way? 

For me that's a huge red flag.  People should still be able to be kind, or at least not lash out when they aren't happy with us all the time.  You wouldn't lash out at him or punish him.... you're taking care of yourself.  That might feel like punishment to him, but there's a huge difference, IME. 


What I remember, growing up with them-thar fancy telephones...was an etiquette that, when someone calls YOU, you say Hello, and then how are you? Or, what's goin on? Or such. IOW, a person calls someone to speak to them. With M, the unwritten rule is, someone calls me so I can speak to THEM, and he instantly launches into it. So he speaks first and most, and I get to tag on my own story sometimes, and shorter.  I think waiting for a chance to speak, rather than listening, is a universal problem most people suffer, to a greater or lesser degree, IME. 

M has it to a greater degree, always has, it's not personal TO YOU.  I have friends who do that.  I have friends who sort of do that.  I have friends who are sorry when I point it out, but they don't get a whole lot better about it.   

I think part of the problem, for me, is I'm an engaged listener who enjoys listening very much.
 That steers habits in a certain direction... I train people, I admit it.  I'm trying to do a better job, and things seem to be going very well with Mossing L.  A back and forth, lots of interest for both of us. 

You're going to have to train M to be a better listener,  IMO.  Set some ground rules about your time to speak and his time to listen.  My mother always said men are trainable or not trainable, and she ended up in an amazing partnership with a really nice man, BUT SHE HAD TO STAND HER GROUND with him.  And she did.  Without any reactivity.  It was always a response she felt entitled to and perfectly capable of delivering, which she did.  And they'd scrap a bit, then go back to playing like kittens together in their life. 

Scrapping is a part of life, IMO.  Those who don't scrap or have arguments are more likely to fail in marriage, or so I hear. 

You're working on the important things.

You're worth the time and effort and expense to M. 

He seems to be worth it to you.

How's it going with the lovely couple's T?

Lighter


Oh, so familiar. You're right about that!

Hugs
Hops

PS She also said something that surprised me: that the widespread belief that people who are Ns or have many N-behaviors never ever change, is based on old research. That was an optimistic thought. NOT (hah) that M would have a wholesale personality transplant (I wouldn't want that anyway) but that she doesn't automatically assume he could never change any of his most triggering behaviors toward me. He is highly motivated to make our relationship last (even more than I am, because I am willing to leave). And I think she was suggesting that it's perhaps more useful to think about him in terms of him being profoundly insecure, rather than fixate on the N term. (She mentioned his deep insecurity. Not that I can't ever use the N ism vocabulary, but that other language for what he does is insecurity. I will find out if he can practice empathy, at least enough of it, with me.)

The couples-T, the Sikh, is kind enough to come to my back yard tomorrow, to do an outdoor session with us on my private back patio, since M has declared he feels "unsafe" going into the office building. I told her I had wondered whether it was really the virus he was scared of, or was it continuing a challenging conversation we had last time. She instantly said she thought it was the latter. I do too, but since M had already met with me in my back yard, and I assured him he would always be six feet away from the T, and he would be touching nothing the T had touched, he was safe. I think he has no excuse to wiggle out of it, so he's coming.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on April 20, 2020, 02:22:57 PM
Lighter, thanks much!
I confess I do get lost in all the small blue ink...if you return to a thread you've previously gotten into (which I appreciate!) could you change ink colors for the later pass?

Hope that made sense!

Must go shower/wash hair before Zoom T appointment.
The good news is, no need to shave legs.

HAH!

Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on April 20, 2020, 07:48:36 PM
Thanks, (((((CB)))))).

The session with Sikh went extremely well. I was honestly amazed. I approached it all with statements about how I didn't assume I was being fair, and insights I'd gotten about the overlap I felt between M and my NMom, and how I still want to stick up for myself, and the various emotional difficulties I have (at times) with his uncontrollable need to start talking and keep talking and basically, take up all the oxygen, so I wind up feeling like a submissive, deflated balloon, and just don't have the energy to fight for my turn at the mike.

What really surprised me was the T's skillful questioning of M, which brought forth the very helpful insight that M has a Very Hard Time calming himself, when he's been listening to news or whatever, and changing channels to actually be present with me. His first instinct is to UNLOAD, and he does that in a compulsive, heedless way, that often leaves me feeling resentful, because I've assumed (long training with NMom) that there's just no point trying to be heard.

The T suggested I learn to say, M can you get calm for a minute, so we can connect? Or something like that. Basically, T was saying, Hops, you need to SPEAK UP when it happens. And he's right.

T also said a lot of insightful things about how M has always and for many years been rewarded for being masterful, taking charge, fixing everything. And that's true.

Anyway, it was a wide ranging conversation, but even on Zoom, I think we were all pretty happy afterward.

I felt less judgmental of M, more tender toward us both, and more hopeful.

It was a big relief. I think one difference was I stopped being careful about saying what I really feel, like: 'I want to talk FIRST sometimes!"

I spelled out how I'd realized if I feel vulnerable, I imagine contacting friends for comfort, not him, and how I'd like to figure out whether M can get to empathy in the moment that isn't all about him playing his heroic roles, but not hearing me at the same time. I got the clarification for me which is, in the MOMENT of crisis, M does not  help or can make me feel worse, but the day after, when the MAINTENANCE of support kicks in, he's so into that.

T also gave us perspective that this kind of thing is changeable, but takes tiiiiiiiime. I felt relieved and better about everything....at the least, willing to keep on exploring all this with M.

I gotta say, I feel incredibly, incredibly lucky that by happenstance, my own T gave us this name in a list of suggestions for a couples-T...and we wound up choosing the Sikh.

Everybody should have their very own Sikh! I like him so very much--he's crazily perceptive. M feels the same way about him....and that joint appreciation of our T bodes well for us, I think.

hugs
Hops

Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: CB123 on April 20, 2020, 08:00:13 PM
I'm so happy for you, Hops!

CB
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Garbanzo on April 21, 2020, 04:17:13 AM
A Sikh as a therapist, that's pretty cool maybe.

Out of what you wrote this is the one thing that jumps out at me:  "if I feel vulnerable, I imagine contacting friends for comfort, not him".
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on April 21, 2020, 05:56:48 AM
Yep. He'll say or do anything, in terms of taking action: bring food when I'm sick, fix something if it's broken, help me in all sorts of practical ways. What he doesn't demonstrate is emotional empathy in the moment of vulnerability. The day after, when maintenance of a crisis kicks in, he's unbeatably helpful.

Described it just that way today and the T told him, all your life you've been in a powerful reward system that's rewarded you for taking charge, producing, doing and acting. What Hops is asking you for is being: with her pain or her feelings, in the present.

T also said that even in their seventies, people can learn empathy. He doesn't believe M has none, but that his life taught him it was just the other things that had value. But that teaching M this is going to take tiiiiiiiime.

Listening, we talked about too. I described his frantic talk and he and the T talked about how M finds it very difficult to wind himself down. It felt helpful and practical.

I'm encouraged. If therapy continues to be this valuable, things could turn out well.

Hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on April 21, 2020, 06:06:48 AM
I'm always amazed at how well you can pick up and talk about very specific points, Hops, and how dedicated you are to talking through them, and I am also glad and impressed that M is sticking with it, engaging in the process and listening to things that must prickle him a bit, even though they are true.  The T sounds like such a good fit for you both and it is quite amazing that there is the tech now to have that group meeting without being in the same room.

I know that you have a research background so this may be something you've researched before and were not impressed by or may have even found out unpleasant stuff about, but I didn't know so I thought I would mention it - I was introduced to Bach Flower Remedies by a therapist I was seeing twenty years ago and I've used them ever since.  I've never done any research into them because I just felt they helped from the outset and I never bothered, to be honest :)  But anyway, I was dosing myself up this morning and reading the description of a person who may benefit from 'Heather' and M popped into my head as I read it:

'.....there is an almost compulsive need to talk about themselves.  They always need an audience and have an irresistible urge to off-load everything that happens to them.  If there is no-one at home they'll talk on the phone for hours, most of the sentences starting with 'I'........'

I'm paraphrasing a bit but it just chimed with what you've mentioned previously and I thought I would mention it just in case M would like to buy himself a bottle and have a little go with it, but of course feel free to ignore completely if it doesn't suit :)  I'm glad the T sessions are going well and hope you can get to a point with him where he feels like the port in the storm more than he feels like the storm :) xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Garbanzo on April 21, 2020, 06:51:20 PM
Aww that's awesome Hops. Glad you both are getting something out of it.  "T also said that even in their seventies".

Life long learning it sounds like.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on April 21, 2020, 08:24:37 PM
That Heather remedy description is amazingly spot on, Tupp. Thanks for that!
I would love for M to try something but unless it's evidence-based, he won't go there. I have to admit I'm pretty similar, about homeopathy and such. I believe it's all placebo, not that there's anything wrong with that!

Thanks, G. Learning is ongoing, definitely. I remember some of the folks in their 90s I worked with sharing realizations they'd had in very recent years. It was inspiring.

Hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on April 22, 2020, 08:13:14 AM
That Heather remedy description is amazingly spot on, Tupp. Thanks for that!
I would love for M to try something but unless it's evidence-based, he won't go there. I have to admit I'm pretty similar, about homeopathy and such. I believe it's all placebo, not that there's anything wrong with that!

Thanks, G. Learning is ongoing, definitely. I remember some of the folks in their 90s I worked with sharing realizations they'd had in very recent years. It was inspiring.

Hugs
Hops

Perfectly understandable, Hops, I'm the same re placebo - if it works it doesn't matter how, from my point of view :)  I'm glad the therapy is going well and you're making such good progress xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: seastorm on May 02, 2020, 08:02:16 PM
Hi Hops

Last I heard you were applying for a passport just before the full catastrophe of the Corona Virus hit. Hope you had a nice time and got home safely. These are tumultuous times with lots of change. I kind of like staying home.. taking a course in Chinese Painting, Online Pema Chodron, binge watching Ozark  and talking on the phone for about two hours a day, most days. I am adjusting and sleeping and meditating. All very much one day at a time.Oh yes, and learning not to take the bait when a beloved tries to pick a fight.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on May 02, 2020, 08:41:37 PM
((((((((Sea!)))))))))))))

So wonderful to hear your voice. YAY.
You sound like you know exactly what to do when the outer world goes nuts, as you always have.

I'm so happy to hear you.

My passport app was actually before last summer, when M. took me to Paris. Made it (after a small stroke a few days before!) and visited an old friend in Oslo on the way home. Quite astonishing that all that worked out so well, actually.

I love the sound of your quarantine coping. It's more than coping.

My hope is many people will turn to deeper things during this time.

love,
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on May 06, 2020, 08:19:42 AM
I am all over the map about M these days.

First, we're getting along very well during quarantine. A lot less tension. He seems to have listened during therapy to my descriptions of how hugely stressful I've found his manic, nonstop talking. He's calmer when I visit, less performative, easier to be around. And though he doesn't listen WELL, he's trying more. That's new but very nice!

Quarantine has slowed us down. I talked about how I think we had needed that. From the start of our relationship, M pounded me relentlessly to be his life partner, commit, etc. He's stopped it and the pandemic has jolted him into the present more, me too, and that's a good thing. He's also enjoying very productive work on his articles and a new major book.

In times of anxiety, I still chew on the bad moment we've never unpacked yet. Will be hard to bring it up in T but I will eventually. It was that moment at the jungle house when I had upset/frustrated him (and felt very vulnerable) and he kind of walked around "musing aloud" in a cold way, saying negative things about my character and intentions, but disguising them in the professorial superiority tone. I've never heard it since but at that moment I freaked out, believing I was seeing a different side that could come out during marriage. I will discuss that with my own T today, as she's good at helping me see things clearly. I think I just need to get up the courage to say something like, although with your intellect you're capable of slicing and dicing someone in that sort of cold fashion, if you ever do that with me again when I'm in a vulnerable state and you're annoyed, I will be leaving.

I don't THINK he's a Jekyll-Hyde, really. But my second husband absolutely was, so hence my niggling concern about that. Which may not be entirely warranted.

I do have fears of men and relationships in general. Trust issues. This has come up in couples-T and I think legitimately. The Sikh asked me if I'd ever felt entirely safe in a relationship...and my answer was, more than once, with my father I did.

So after we "worked on" M a whole lot, given his overt dominant manic personality stuff, it's my turn to look at what I'm contributing to our dynamic too. And I feel willing to, because I've been feeling heard by both of them.

In general, I think the update is that we are doing a lot better. I'm glad we slowed down a bit. The commitment is there, but not the urgency.

Though I have to admit I emailed with a lovely young classical musician who'd be quite interested in renting my house. Occurs to me that one way to pass this winter in continuing social distancing, but to prevent isolation, might be to spend it at M's house, and rent mine out for a year beginning this fall. Just to see how living together might go. I haven't said anything to M about it though.

Boy would that give me a chance to face my fears....

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on May 06, 2020, 09:07:47 AM
I'm glad that the enforced halt has been helpful, Hopsie, and that you feel you can/will talk about that unpleasant time at some point.  I think it's great that you and M have done and are doing so much work on your relationship and yourselves.  And yes I can understand the underlying fear about relationships in general.  I'm not sure I can ever trust someone with my whole heart.  It may just be that the damage will always mean a little bit isn't quite there.  But as you've felt safe before then I would be hopeful that you will again :)

My heart quickened as I read about the young musician; I thought this was a love interest!  Lol.  I think the idea of trying it out with M by sharing for a year is a good one.  My only wee practical concern (with my own mother hen head on, and acknowledging that your rental rules and regulations may be very different to ours, and knowing that you are wise enough to check all of these things out for yourself anyway) is whether you can get your house back early if staying with M does turn out to be the clang of doom for your relationship, or just if there is another bolthole if you feel you need some space and just need a day or two on your own every now and again?  Can M leave his house empty and move in with you (and then go home if it's all a bit much?).  You will figure it all out, I know, I just always go to disaster scenario and have images of you living in a campervan over the winter :)  Lol xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on May 06, 2020, 09:45:34 AM
VERY good question about a potential bolthole, Tupp. That's my hesitation, a fear of being trapped if it goes south. No, don't have one I can think of, and especially during the pandemic (second wave likely in fall) I don't feel I could impose on a friend. It also occurs to me that this idea (of moving there) could be an impulsive decision. I don't know. It might be a wise next step and would boost my savings account, but it also might be like the panicky premature house-hunting, an effort to get to the future and then relax. Hmmmmmm.....

M cannot move in with me. It's not an option. My second bedroom is also my study, which is private (again a tinge of trust, would he look through stuff?) and even though it also has a bed, because it's right behind my bedroom, his trumpet snoring would kill what's left of my sleep. My house would only suit a VERY close couple who sleep together; perfect for a YOUNG couple. And though I hope to be close one day, I'm never giving up my own room. Just been too long, and my sleep is too fragile. Sharing my sole bathroom would be challenge enough, but the lack of a dedicated bedroom for him that's at enough distance to mute the snoring is key. He once told me his late wife made him go sleep two floors down since the snoring was so intense.

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on May 06, 2020, 11:03:13 AM
VERY good question about a potential bolthole, Tupp. That's my hesitation, a fear of being trapped if it goes south. No, don't have one I can think of, and especially during the pandemic (second wave likely in fall) I don't feel I could impose on a friend. It also occurs to me that this idea (of moving there) could be an impulsive decision. I don't know. It might be a wise next step and would boost my savings account, but it also might be like the panicky premature house-hunting, an effort to get to the future and then relax. Hmmmmmm.....

M cannot move in with me. It's not an option. My second bedroom is also my study, which is private (again a tinge of trust, would he look through stuff?) and even though it also has a bed, because it's right behind my bedroom, his trumpet snoring would kill what's left of my sleep. My house would only suit a VERY close couple who sleep together; perfect for a YOUNG couple. And though I hope to be close one day, I'm never giving up my own room. Just been too long, and my sleep is too fragile. Sharing my sole bathroom would be challenge enough, but the lack of a dedicated bedroom for him that's at enough distance to mute the snoring is key. He once told me his late wife made him go sleep two floors down since the snoring was so intense.

hugs
Hops

Ah, yes, that makes a lot of sense, Hops, my house is so tiny that with another adult here (ie when a friend comes to stay) it is incredibly claustrophobic and there is no privacy or respite from snoring, coughing, farting, talking or anything else anyone is doing!  Yes that would be hard.

Well - don't rush into anything.  You have time to think and plan (and we may perhaps have more news about virus related things which may or may not have an effect).  It may be an impulsive decision but it also sounds like a good way to test the water a bit (a lot!).  Maybe talk it through with T?  Could you maybe stay with M a lot more without renting your place out so it's still 'visiting' rather than 'living together'?  His snoring does sound bad!  My friend snores a lot and although they are a close couple they both say the only reason they've stayed together is because they keep a second bedroom so that they don't always have to share :)  Lol xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on May 07, 2020, 09:41:41 AM
Well Hops... this is exactly what B & I have committed to, no more - no less, longterm. There are many things to fear in that, I agree.

I think you might start working out your side of things, in couples T, before actually MAKING a decision about it. But it would also be good to start hypothetically discussing how things would be expected to work, what possible pros & cons come up, imagining how it would feel living day to day - trying to communicate without pushing each other's buttons and learning a style of working out conflicts (which are inevitable) when they do crop up.

(((((Hops))))) you'll get inspired, pick a path, and go... and it will all be OK. (to quote Lighter's advice to me... LOL)
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on May 07, 2020, 10:55:08 AM
Tupp, truth is I have NEVER stayed overnight at M's. The one time I tried I bolted out of there with Pooch at midnight. He'd made zero preparation for me to be there and it was full of her religious books and I just could not sleep. He's moved the books out since but in the interim we had our Upstairs Disaster.

All that can change and will in time if the current trend toward more relaxed feelings around him and better communication continues, with our co-therapy. I am in zero rush and he's accepted a calmer pace too. Just the way it is for us at our age. No logical progression and we are still working out issues.

Talked it over (the moving-in idea) with my T yesterday and realized...yes, it was an impulsive idea. And renting my house out would block my easy return. I don't HAVE to make big drastic steps, and small incremental ones make a lot more sense right now. So regretfully, I'll inform the lovely musician he can check back in fall but as of now, it's uncertain I'll be ready to rent it out. Time will tell. And there are more lovely potential renters around here too. I tend to fixate on fantasies, no less for my house than for me!

What would make sense instead would be that this winter, I give staying over with M a few more tries and see if it goes better. I may broach the idea with him cautiously. I've even thought of asking him if he'd empty out the furniture in the bedroom and have it painted in the soothing soft blue I so love here. And maybe see if a bed I choose would fly as well. If he's super interested in sharing a home with me at some point, his responses might show me how much he really means it.

You're right, Amber, we're fumbling toward a path. And it's important to know as Lighter once pointed out, that I can turn back or turn in a different direction any time I should need to.

I think the renting idea was an impulse, not a plan. Glad I caught that before it went too far. Planning future lives around daydreams hasn't worked too well so far, but having plans and working toward them (as I did to get my own home) feels better.

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on May 07, 2020, 05:56:46 PM
Hops:

ONE bedroom of new paint and ONE new bed...... not the new home you fell in love with..... seems like a super reasonable request to help you feel more comfortable in M's space. 

SHARING space with M.

It's forward movement I anticipate M won't blink an eye at.

If I'm wrong.... the very nice T will help you figure it out,  I'm sure.

Is the blue you love one of those Restoration Hardware Store blues?  I just love them! 

Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on May 07, 2020, 07:08:23 PM
Thanks for the encouragement, Lighter.
No rush and we'll see, but I like your perspective.

Don't get me going! I LOVE color. My three favorites in my house currently (like the others too, but LOVE these three):
Sherwin Williams 6239  Upward (BR--most peaceful blue I've ever lived with)
SW 7649 Silver Plate (most other walls in public spaces)
Benjamin Moore Chopped Dill, #496 accent wall behind piano, happiest outcome)
The kitchen is a bizarre Caucasian-flesh-toned-Crayon before they figured out how racist it was. I had a sort of Arizona soft peachy sunset in mind. Hah! I enjoy it anyway.

When I was hunting up my paint sheet to share colors with you I found a document I'd written, What I'd Need to Move In with M, and it was pretty modest, but a list of changes I'd need to feel at home. And you're right, there's another spare bedroom too, which would be my study. But that wouldn't happen unless really Moving In.

That was fun.

:)
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on May 08, 2020, 11:00:40 PM
Hops:

Whatever you discuss with M..... don't ask for it like you aren't deserving.

You are.

Just assume whatever you need IS what you'll receive and keep moving.

In other words, don't send the message you believe you're asking for something you don't deserve and aren't worthy of.  Your eyes, body language, and words should express confidence.

I LOVE ROBIN's EGG BLUE!  Maybe I'll make both bathrooms that lovely blue; )

Lighter

Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on May 09, 2020, 06:30:44 AM
Lighter, thank you for this. I need to take on this. I am in fact going to talk about it with my T next week. You spotted something, pre-emptively, that really is an obstacle for me:

Quote
In other words, don't send the message you believe you're asking for something you don't deserve and aren't worthy of.  Your eyes, body language, and words should express confidence.

Much appreciated!

So far I just imagine asking him to empty the one bedroom, and paint. He is kind of a tightwad and would want us to paint it together. A few years back I would've happily done it myself, but right now my body and back are so triggery that I think all the bending would be zero pleasant. But I don't know that he'd be willing to have a painter in.

Speaking of which, I've been through some internal agonizing about getting some cleaning help again. One woman I like a lot has described in detail very responsible disinfection precautions she takes and I have found her trustworthy and thorough. Still, it's scary to have someone come into my home now, who also is in and out of other homes. I've booked her but am angry with myself for being so unfit that cleaning my own little house by myself is daunting (bending reaching lifting vacuuming) yet the grit the general decline is depressing.

I'm wondering if I should cancel and wait. The virus is increasing here, though nothing like a large city.

Sigh,
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on May 09, 2020, 12:03:13 PM
I just sent this to M, who responded both that "I'm working on it" and that "we all do it when we're enthusiastic about something or excited about the person we're talking to..." I responded that I've done it too but "everybody does it" might not be the deepest answer, and awareness never hurts. We'll see.

Dear Prudence,

My husband is an interrupter. He talks over me constantly, both when we are having a normal conversation and when we argue. I never feel like I can get my thoughts out. This has been going on for years, and I’m at my wits’ end. I feel like giving up. I feel disrespected. I’ve told him how it bothers me and how I feel unheard. I’ve even tried talking through his interruptions. Nothing works. I think he does it to silence me, but he argues that I have sometimes interrupted him in the past, so his isn’t any worse? I feel like I’d have to be perfect for him to even try. What should I do?

—Interrupting Husband

This situation sounds exhausting, interminable, and like a profound barrier to intimacy, trust, respect, and love—all the things that make a lifelong partnership desirable. Your husband is completely locked into his position and is attempting to use your request as a wedge to make demands of his own, rather than trying to meet you halfway. You do not need to spend another five or 10 or 20 years trying to argue with him about whether he’s disrespecting you. You can take him at his word when he says he’s not going to stop interrupting you, that he thinks you’re wrong to be upset by it, and that you don’t deserve to participate fully in everyday conversation because once on May 15, 2003, you cut him off when he was trying to give you directions to a friend’s birthday party. So many relationship problems can be worked out as both parties are willing—even if that willingness is small, or begrudging, or half-hearted—to call it a problem. But your husband is determined to maintain his position—that he doesn’t really interrupt you, or it’s not that bad, or you do it too—no matter how many times you’ve tried to ask and explain and plead and compromise. You can’t substitute for a lack of interest in changing on his part. You have my permission to give up, if that’s what you choose, and acknowledge that your marriage to this man is over in all but name. I think it will feel like a profound relief.


I also told M I didn't think he's responded like this husband, but wanted him to understand how it felt to that wife, and what the columnist said. I'm not thrilled with his "we all do it" response but told him I look forward to working on this with our joint T. And I am. It's the singlemost important obstacle we have, imo.

Not depressed about it, glad I sent it to him. We'll see how it goes...I think he deflected but also he shows up for therapy and behaves as though he's engaged.

hugs
Hops



Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on May 09, 2020, 12:07:40 PM
Thanks, CB, for the good examples of how to approach cleaning. An obstacle for me that's as big as the body issues is mental. My inertness. My flabby sedentaritude. I'm fighting that in fits and starts, but sense you've been consistently adult in your approach to taking care of home. That's a huge challenge for me I'm deliberatly working on in my own therapy.

As to painting, you're right! I don't quite know if I should wait for M to ask, what would you need to stay here? Or just bring it up myself. (As I don't expect him to ask, though he might well cooperate if I bring it up.)

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on May 09, 2020, 02:48:56 PM
Quote
....and I had an oatmeal pan on the stove with a melted spatula in it. She looked at me and said: oh. You don't give that kind of impression.

((((CB))))) Thank you for a Laugh Out Loud! Boy are THOSE precious these days.

Yup, from one clutterholic to another. You get it.

I will need an ottoman the size of my piano, but your post was verrrrry consoling.

:) :) :)

love
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on May 10, 2020, 08:58:56 AM
Seriously?

CB, I'm the "what if?" type too. Yes, I bought another 5 lb bag of flour, store brand, when it finally came back on the shelves... we've been baking, for something to do around here. And I have multiple stacks of things. Things I need to "see" - to remember to do later. Or things I need to do in the morning... or that need to go somewhere else. Half of my garage is the "what if?" pantry. LOLOL and it needs to be unpacked from moving 4 years ago and canned items that are long expired, composted. Just other priorities right now.

Combined with all the different things that the kids like to eat - I've lost almost all my kitchen counter space. (Another month... please contractors, please get it to the move in point!)

As for canvases. Ahem. The one that is now my first painting in 32 years... I bought before we moved to the beach. Hauled it there; hauled it back; finally unwrapped it... stared at blank canvas for two years; one of Holl's friends got me up and playing scribbles with charcoal... gesso'd it... stared at it... and it wasn't until every fiber in my body was totally pissed off and I was tongue-tied and scared to death to open my mouth... that the image jumped out onto the canvas. LOLOLOL.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on May 11, 2020, 02:19:09 PM
Amber:

Your space reminds me of my space.  Counter space comes and goes.  Garage has groceries in it, waiting to be dealt with.  I like to have things out where I can see them too

I'm trying to leave counters clear, for working, not storing. Life is better when I swing it.

Lighter



Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on May 17, 2020, 09:31:55 AM
Hops, something about what you said over on the yard thread pinged off of me. And where I'm at right now in relationship too.

Obviously, there is another tangled ball of emotional yarn to deal with, in any new relationship. Being carried along on the current of the feelings is often pleasant - and I've missed it, these last years. But the conditioned part of my experience & brain is trying to convince me that I "need" this man, this relationship... to be whole. I caught it going on in my head last night after watching Outlander's season finale - which had some very triggering storylines in it for me - and let it all unravel last night in sleep.

And I KNOW, with my practical, pragmatic brain, that conditioned "need" is absolute bullshit. Otherwise, how would I have managed on my own these last 5-7, maybe 8 years? Was I not "whole" then? YES, yes I was. And for all I was willing to invite Hol here - and participate in her work to get whole, as much as allowed and appropriate - that didn't take anything away from me. (Granted, I DID go through a time of being completely confused again. Talking to John - a less invested party who also knows Hol pretty well - has sorted that out now, again. We're able, most of the time, to have more objective dialogue.)

So, why with B would this reflex show up? To see myself as "less than" and needing what B can provide to be whole? (There's more than that specifically; but this is the general gist of the reflex.) And as far as I can tell - it's the conditioned expectation of finding that "completion" in relationship - both mirroring, complimentary strengths & needs and dare I say it? Subordination, if not quite submissiveness (who me? LOLOL; good luck with that). Yes, it's existed in all my other relationships to varying degrees. With Michael, it was more role-playing than reality... but damn, if it didn't get me into a mess every now & then. He needed so much ego-assurance at times, that it was all but impossible for me to refuse him that. Like letting win a chess game.

I don't want to do that again. Maybe there's more to learn about it - but jeez, I think I know enough now to not want to repeat those lessons! I can CHOOSE to do whatever I want. Including revelling in what I can do on my own - and as slow-paced as it has to be 20 years after I used to do this on a regular, daily basis. Taking a day off to just watch the yarn come untangled in the slow lazy current of water... letting B go to do what he needs to take care of; where he is in his process... and being just FINE, thank ya very much... having some me-time, too.

I think he & I are both realizing that this isn't going to be one of those siamese twin type of relationships; where we're joined at the hip all the time, because of our hearts. We don't WANT it to be. And so that sets up the comparison with "conditioned" fairy tale, white picket fence version, all the time.

All that came up for me, in words finally, when you were talking about your yard and not necessarily wanting/needing M to come "help". LOL. And with the help of a lot of coffee. LOL. Happy Sunday.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on May 17, 2020, 11:02:56 AM
Yup, I can't see you on the cover of a bodice-ripper, Amber!
Or maybe I can, but it would be entire voluntary having-bodice-ripped, and not about swooning or helplessness or submission.

I think the key is to bear in mind one always has a choice to GIVE vulnerability. When vulnerability is TAKEN, though, that's submission. Taking turns with giving and receiving vulnerability is beautiful.

B doesn't sound like a ripper, but if he's got a kilt on....

Now I hafta go re-watch the last episode of Season 5.

Big hugs,
Hops

PS Actually I would LOVE it if M would help me, or take a hint now and then. But he seems allergic to spending a cent on my home. It may be an unconscious thing...maybe he wants me to ultimately move in with him, so why help me fix up my place? Or maybe he's still into stock market shock. I dunno. But there's no point in thinking about it, as I'm on my own.

Another thing about accepting too much help from him is that it becomes for him a delicious drama about his helpfulness. The price of his strutting through it is almost too high to pay at times. (That E.R. stroke story, and a few other times he's been the last presence I'd need in a crisis. The day after, when maintenance begins...he's very responsible and present and dutiful. Always proclaiming "I'll do anything you need!" It may be true but he just fills up the room with his take-charginess. That has value too, if one's helpless, but I fight it.)

The conundrum is, I'm going over for dinner tonight and greatly looking forward to being with him. Yet he was in my yard with me and my neighbor friend and bf last night and he interrupted so much (and I was too tired to contain it) that I yelled his name several times, startling him so I could finish my sentence. That whole pattern reeks of misery to me. I just hate having to FIGHT for the basic courtesy of not being cut off in the middle of a sentence, and raising my voice makes me unhappy.

He really does have a very loud voice in his own brain that drives him like a steam engine to dominate all conversation, especially in a social setting. Getting him to stop his racing monologue long enough to participate is exhausting at times. Other times, I relax with it and enjoy him. He is trying, and does listen a bit better when we're on our own now. But socially, I am literally embarrassed by his monologues.

All in all, apart from those two moments when I nearly blew, we had a great time with the neighbors. She is very similar to M in that she's charming, very insecure, and competitive. They both told stories that were diverting. I stuck my oar in a couple of times and mostly just became audience, and her bf didn't get a chance.

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on May 17, 2020, 11:17:16 AM
Holly does that to me often, Hops. I just give her one of those "mom looks" and ask her if I can finish what I was saying. I talk slowly, pause a lot, probably because I don't have any pat statements - I'm thinking, feeling, choosing my words to get my meaning across all while my mouth is moving. LOLOL. (Silly me)

When I can stand my ground that way - she DOES listen. And we do have better conversations. She thinks so fast she's already responding to where she thinks I'm going to go often; and often she's WRONG. That's teaching her to wait a bit before jumping to conclusions.

Guess that's why I'm much more comfortable writing my thoughts & feelings, most times. Especially when it's a deep topic.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on May 17, 2020, 12:21:52 PM
Bingo. Substitute "M" for "she" and it's exactly the pattern:

Quote
She thinks so fast she's already responding to where she thinks I'm going to go often; and often she's WRONG.

I think my dear M is so accustomed to his mega-intellect being admired (hugely, in his profession) that he's developed a habit of believing his own press, in that he just thinks if his mouth is moving, he's speaking truth. I often call him on it but disagreeing (and it's funny, he'll seem both startled and delighted).

In our domestic world, he's ridiculously arrogant sometimes, boring sometimes, funny sometimes, maddening sometimes, stimulating and entertaining sometimes. If our Sikh can help us both have conversations rather than dueling monologues and dueling battles for attention/space/oxygen...we'll have a great future!

Last session, we talked about listening and something really good happened. I was explaining how I was feeling about the interrupting and being cut off, and described the whole exchange M and I had had over the advice column, including M's email reply: "Yes of course, and I'm working on it, but we all do it, and it's because we're enthusiastic about a topic or excited about the person, and it should never be misread as an intent to dominate."

Pondering that, I realized it was a complete encapsulation of M's pattern, imo. The T had pointed out previously that M tends in response to say something that sounds like affirmation (Yes of course I understand what you're saying) followed rapidly by contradicting (But/However). There are actual steps to it:

I explain my frustration over being talked over and interrupted so much. M:
 1) Affirms: Yes of course I understand (and am working on it)
 2) Contradicts: But/However
 3) Reframes/New explanation: It's only because I'm such an enthusiastic person and excited about talking to you...(implied: who'd be so mean as to criticize that?)
 4) Deflects: Changes the subject (to himself)
 5) Summarizes Good Intent: refers back to My Always-Pure Intentions (you therefore are Wrong to suggest I'm trying to dominate, which I'd neeeeeever do).

We went through it again, and this time I just relaxed and listened. At Step 4, M went into an amazing Deflection that went on at least 5 full minutes (quite a stretch in therapy-time): He'd had such a terrible week because one son's job is shaky now, a son-in-law is getting divorced, and Covid-19 (all of which he'd told me about days before, but was presenting as news for the T). It was powerful because basically, he went on and on in tremendous detail about HIS distress. Then the T asked me what I'd heard, and I was able to say:

I hear a pattern. He first affirms, then contradicts my story and reframes it, and then deflects and changes the subject to HIS distress, and prevents challenge by summing up his pure intentions. I am certainly capable of attempts to dominate at times as most people are, but M's repeated references to his pure heart and good intentions muzzle me. And after all that, my initial issue never got dealt with.

What was good about it is I am convinced that the Sikh sees and hears and spots every layer and nuance of all this (as he does with my stuff too) and that over time, if I'm patient, he has a real chance of helping M see himself. I know he's helped me see important things like problems trusting, issues with feeling unsafe with any male who's not as gentle as my Dad was, which was extreme).

Anyhow, I was very excited about that session. It made me hopeful. And also, the Sikh says to M: In your world and your work, you are the smartest person in the room. (M looks delighted to hear this.) But in this room, about human behavior, I am the smartest person in the room. (M squirms but also looks intrigued.) Funny!

The T told M that the missing piece is M noticing and checking back with me, ever. Such as: Did I respond to what you were asking me? Does this make sense to you? Or particularly (I'm noticing this more and so is the T) -- are  you aware of Hops' face? Stop, look at her face right now. (M's eyes are darting everywhere else.) The T keeps encouraging M to actually tune in. He told M he has an over-developed frontal lobe and is missing info that will be helpful. M says, I need a lobotomy.

I'm probably making all this sound like piling-on-poor-M, but the truth is he is enjoying this, mostly. He is being taught, which isn't common for him, but he's very motivated to make our relationship work, he never acts resentful about it, and he and the Sikh do a lot of bonding and laughing also. I think this therapy is fantastic.

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on May 17, 2020, 02:18:07 PM
Went off on a huge tangent on YARD thread when Lighter asked me a simple question about blueberries? House hunt? Anyhoo, decided to move it here, fwiw.
(Anal-librarian gene expressing, if only it would in my HOUSE!)
--------------
(((Lighter))--

I really don't WANT to house-hunt with M right now. I welcome the Pause. I needed it. We were moving too fast and I was too uneasy and his way of controlling the process was calling up uncertainties about him that I'm currently working with in therapy. Both with him, and with my single-T. I think it's right that it's on Pause.

He and I are enjoying each other a lot, with our 2-3 times/week get-togethers. I'm on my own at my place...he helped plant things one day, but hasn't expressed any interest in maintaining it, because he's deeply involved in his book. I celebrate that for him. He has not shown any interest in helping me with my home projects. (I hinted for some paid yard-work help, and got the sweater.) That's a signal that we're genuinely not ready for real life-merging. And that's okay.

He's paid for power-washing of his own house, tree work, and has done painting lately. That's his priority. He's planting his fig trees. I get it, and don't fault him. But the landscape of where his priorities are is reinforcing that no matter how old and slow we are, we've got a looooong way to go before I'd feel right about a lifetime commitment. M is all words, almost all the time. He loves cooking and having me to dinner because he craves my companionship, and that can be delightful. I almost always enjoy his company. But right now, we're each in our own separate orbits dealing with our own situations/places/mental stuff. It's not really shared.

M is not helping me with my projects. I'm not blaming him. I am the one still writing in bed when everything outside is crying out for attention. It's my problem.

Yes, fertilized blueberries.

If not now, when? is a good question. But I'm feeling so different during the epidemic, having spent so many hours just thinking and sinking back into my own self, that it feels like a less-important one.

Time will tell!

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on May 18, 2020, 07:50:57 AM
This might be a dumb question, and you've probably answered it many times over on the board Hops. My brain is just so full of stuff these days - I'm honestly forgetting things.

Do you ever feel that you'd be risking your relationship with M, if you simply stood your ground or rejected one of his suggestions or refused to play the same old role day in, day out? I know you'll assert what you believe are your best interests and protect boundaries... but, even in "bull in the china shop" Amber will go out of her way to stand down and step away from a potential argument or conflict because she perceives a risk to the relationship (that may or may not really exist).
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on May 18, 2020, 10:01:40 AM
I honestly don't, Amber. M is all in on us forever, a bit more than I am. Thanks for asking it though. Though at times I've had to fight for it, M will back off.

I'm not all the way there, but what I'm hoping to solidify is a feeling shift in myself. Best way I can describe it before more caffeine is:

My goal is to draw and protect/respect my own boundaries not out of anxiety that his confidence/forcefulness will over-ride me but calmly, routinely, because it feels as comfortable and normal to say No as it does to say Yes. Not full of "charge" if I say No, nor some kind of fatigue when I say Yes. What I want to get to is behaving as though and believing that Yes and No are just different correct answers.

I'm definitely in need of more practice with this. And I'm sure I'll get many opportunities!

How do you feel about boundaries with B?

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on May 18, 2020, 04:50:00 PM
Good to hear Hops! You can probably imagine, that question arose my own checking in with myself. LOL.

He's better at boundaries than I am. And very very considerate of whatever mine might be - if I haven't already made it clear. I'm very comfortable with him on that question. OTHER people, maybe not so much. But having someone to compare to is helpful. And over these months of being stuck here together - a lot of things have been hashed out and are resolving. There haven't been as many distractions or ways to procrastinate dealing with things.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on May 18, 2020, 05:26:08 PM
Hops:

I'm going to post a brief suggestion, and not a lot more around it.

If you, the Seik and M used your birthday re-do as excercise for improving  M's attunement to you, your words, your expressions and joy....

If you asked for what you want in a straightforward manner....

If M selected a gift, bc it would bring YOU joy (instead of him joy).....

there are lessons here that can't be teased out verbally, IME.

Sometimes doing is better than dissecting the mistakes. 

Sometimes getting on with solutions is the best lesson of all.

Lighter

Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on May 19, 2020, 02:14:35 PM
Thanks, Lighter.
I think horrible gift-giving is characteristic of people with a high degree of narcissistic traits. M is one such. I wouldn't go so far as to slam him with the cascade of horrible-human judgements that most things N-ish usually call up in me. There's goodness there too. Or at least I'm thinking so. Hoping I'm not deluded. That's really the bottom line about why I'm glad moving is on Pause and we're in T.

Anyway, my theory about the gift-giving thing is that for one reason or another (in M's case it may be a kind of hyper brain that makes it more difficult to focus on others' realities) -- or who knows, just plain self-absorption and lack of insight -- some people are just incurious about others' inner lives. And therefore lousy at remembering enough detail to get a meaningful or delightful gift for an individual.

The Sikh asked Monday, out of the blue: Hops, would you like it if M asked you more questions? I nearly leaped out of my chair. Dang, this man is good.

M seldom asks me questions, or listens long enough to learn about my layers. He has a kind of repetitive list of positive/"sophisticated" attributes of mine that he loves to declaim. I said in T that although I recognize they're positives, his way of using the exact same list and repeating it often to me or in therapy, "this is why I so value Hops" leaves me unmoved, feeling even less connected. It's weird but I don't feel flattered, I feel memorized. "Here is the executive summary of Hops--why I admire her and want her." The list is unchanging. Literally.

He didn't get it, but did say he'd try to vary the adjectives. LOL. I think he is totally sincere in saying the list to himself. I think he confuses admiration with love. But to the degree he has love in his heart, and he does, I know his love for me is also real.

I'm sure that was all very contradictory. It is in my head too.

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on May 20, 2020, 08:03:09 AM
More power to ya Hops... that kind of stuff would drive me totally bonkers. Especially if he pulls out a thesaurus and just substitutes new adjectives for you. :P 

It almost sounds like he has to reduce you to an abstract in his brain - a bare-bones outline devoid of sentience and emotion. Very Vulcan-like; Mr. Spock...  ... ..... ............. idea.............

Do you s'pose this is a defense mechanism that he projects on others, because he doesn't want to, is afraid of, getting into what he really feels? feelings in general? (I know that sentence requires a decoder ring; Jeez... this is why I'm terrible talking too.) Do you see what I'm getting at here?

I see glimpses of that in Hol, too. Usually, right before the tears start. She is loathe to open the gates and just be with her emotions - I think she fears drowning in them and losing the "superpower" of mental-verbal magic. Her dreams (subconscious stuff coming up this week) are bad enough. So, it's like she doesn't know that her emotions - for as intense as they are - can't control her to the extent of not being a conscious, intentional being. (To a slight degree, this IS true for many people.)

And maybe this is all hot air out my nether regions... and in reality I am speculating on something that not even I see clearly enough (yet) to come to any conclusions.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on May 20, 2020, 08:29:15 AM
Hops:

I was just sure the T would follow up with asking you to tell M what would have been a thoughtful bd gift to you, from M.

An exercise in practice so M could experience, with the T's help, asking for information then receiving it.  Reheating back what he heard, so you can correct.  Asking for it in writing.  Agreeing.  FEELING joy in giving a personal gift, tailored to the woman he loves.....or child / grandchild/ friend.

If he can't care/ be bothered/give up control over that...... I'd want to know.  I'd also want the T to walk me through it. 

Walk M through it.

It seems to me the devil will be in the details.  Small joys can offset negatives, IME.  Feeling M cares as much about your joy, as his own, would be something, imo.

Cultivating the habit if asking for info and asking for what is wanted seems necessary.

Now I'm going to let the sweater go....I think.

Helping you with your yard and garden would work in M's favor.  Not against him.  He should understand that.   Acting from a place of fear and resentment needs to be addressed, IME.  IMHO it's the priority.

M might have the future he wants with you.  He's going to have to find a way.....the T will have to provide a scaffold FOR M, IMO.  There have to be limits M understands and internalizes.  Certain acts if curiosity/seeking......reading the room.  It will only help M in all areas of his world.  Or not.

All my opinions, if course.

Lighter



Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on May 20, 2020, 09:48:46 AM
Amber, this is really perceptive:

Quote
Do you s'pose this is a defense mechanism that he projects on others, because he doesn't want to, is afraid of, getting into what he really feels? feelings in general?

I'm thinking so. It's odd, because when he feels sad he'll be very open about that and turn to me for empathy. (He just lost another colleague in another state; when anyone he knows dies he is always devastated. He told me last night he thinks it's because it scares him, brings death close. That was a good insight.) He hadn't seen the man in years -- knows many people in his field and refers to them all as "very good friends." I find it sad that his world is all professional and the way he describes friends is always accomplishment based, never about personality. His world for all its cultural variety is very narrow. There's no evidence to me of any close friends here in town. He sees colleagues at the Univ (now closed due to covid) and talks about them, but only about work. I think he does love them. But there are no bonding activities with local friends in his life. A wine club a few times a year, that's it. Nobody calls him other than colleagues (about work) or family. No meeting a friend for a beer. Then again, this is true for many men his age. The woman is the friend.

What you notice I think is his discomfort with actual within-relationship intimacy. I'm not sure, but I think he believes intimacy is someone else listening to him talk. There's much less exchange of feelings and nuance than in other dialogues I've been in; and the lack of question-asking means less exploration of the other (me). Sometimes though, I don't mind his incuriosity -- that autopilot thing is less work!

I feel compassion for him yet I can also feel disconnected. (I've said several times in T that I'd like a deeper connection.) He's quite childlike when he's sad. Or does things with his voice that make him sound very young. He has a dramatic way of speaking at all times, and when he's sad I find I feel inside unsympathetic. I don't show that because I don't like it. I'm just hyper-leery of being maternal with him, because although he can be super-executive in parts of his world, he's nearly infantile in other parts. I am pretty direct when I comfort him but not soothing. I just say, sincerely, I'm very sorry you lost your friend, etc. I'll be kind but not soothing. For some reason I'm very uncomfortable offering that because of a sense it'd be endless. Developmentally, he seems more childlike than I feel good around.

All this sounds really sour but I'm not feeling that. It's just that I'm tuning into how M seems to have a gear or two missing that I'd enjoy if he had them. Like he's in first or fifth, most of the time. I think there's more there, but am not sure it'll ever come up to the surface for us to enjoy exploring together. However, in T things do seem to slowly happen. I need to be patient. Quarantine ain't helping. I'm pretty stagnant myself at the mo'.

Lighter, I have never brought up any dissatisfaction with gift-giving to him or to the T, because my internalized values from childhood would forbid that. (That's "greedy.") So there's no discussion or b-day re-do--it was weeks ago. I'll just figure that before another obvious gift-giving occasion (like Xmas), I'll try to remember to nicely ask more directly for what I'd like. Otherwise, I was trained never to act as though I want a gift. I like sensitive surprises, so tend to feel disappointed at the cliche stuff. On the other hand, M is someone who would be responsible to me in the big picture, and if I were feeling more appreciative (working on it!) I'd focus on what I DO have with him, not what I don't.

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: CB123 on May 20, 2020, 10:14:25 AM
Hops,

How long have you had a relationship with M?  How long had you been together when you started going to the T?

CB

Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on May 20, 2020, 11:37:32 AM
Hi CB,
We met a year and three months ago.
We've been in couples-T for about five months.
Took quite a while to begin working harder in those sessions, I think.

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on May 20, 2020, 12:16:28 PM
BTW, if I haven't said so clearly.....THANK YOU, alla-y'all, for asking me questions and offering ideas/insights about this Relationship stuff for me.

It really, really helps me think and grow and challenge (myself and M).

I'm uber-grateful.

Hops

PS I have asked myself a couple of times lately if noticing and admitting M's narcissistic traits (not diagnosing) feels like.... I give up, I am SO well trained to adapt to N-ish personalities that it almost feels like fate that I'd be involved with another one.

That said, M is sweet. He can be funny and kind. He definitely wants to be connected to me, wants to commit, wants my lifetime companionship. (Both suffocating AND security-feeling.) Yes, he is quite self-absorbed, but he's also been motivated to embark on therapy with me just because I conveyed that it was needed. Not every man in his 70s would say Yes and hang in so willingly. Plus, I never experience resentment or blowback from M after I bring up something unpleasant-for-him in counseling. If anything he seems more loving and happy afterward.

And another thing is, I'm seeing him again tonight and looking forward to it. We have a kind of silliness we do together that is truly fun and happy. And as we get to know each other more, I'm less reactive. We'll see....but I was thinking I'd been painting a pretty harsh and one-sided picture of him here. He deserves fairness.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: CB123 on May 20, 2020, 03:17:11 PM
Hops,
Have you ever gone to the beginning of this thread and read everything that you posted and the things that came up and when they came up?

I wasnt on the board yet when you started the thread, so I had to do that (as well as threads for Tupp, Lighter and Skep) in order to have any idea what everyone was doing these days. When you read it all at once, it has a flow to it, that is probably the whole reason why all of us should keep journals anyway.

Wishing you peace.

CB
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on May 20, 2020, 09:55:47 PM
Good idea, CB, thanks.
I started and got to page 7....wow.
That's a lotta ink on a little-over-a-year relationship!

Given it's the first serious one in decades, guess it's been worth the effort.

But however it turns out, I'm still learning and always will be (I hope).

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on May 21, 2020, 01:47:26 PM
CB,
Thank you so much for suggesting that. Just finished and it took HOURS.

One thing you said at one point really sticks: You began to realize that you spent an inordinate amount of energy analysing and understanding him, believing if you did, things would become different. And how you feel about that, looking back. Wishing you had that time back.

This whole thread was an illustration to me of that same thing. I've learned good stuff, useful insights, about myself too, but I've spent a deep amount of energy learning HIM.

All in all, re-reading the thread made me feel more confident and calm. I'm not sure why, other than the amazing insights and support that came in so reliably and helpfully and amazingly from y'all here....but maybe it's that everyone on the board reminds me of my capability and strength, especially when I forget.

I just feel better. When I need to draw a boundary or challenge M, I can do that. When I need to get my nose off the pebbles (understood that much better on second reading, Lighter) I think I can do that.

And now there is a truly amazing Sikh who is carrying part of the load. And that is a criterion for continuing. Incredible insight and perspective.

So maybe I need to remember that slooooooooow is the point. Remembering I ALWAYS have my own-home, own-timetable, own-priorities to respect and listen to.

No matter how antic M becomes from his own anxiety, my anxiety is my own job. My pace is my own challenge. My lost productivity is my own priority.

My own T listened to me yesterday until I hit an insight for myself. The common denominator in practically everything I've struggled with (before and during M) can be summed up in one word: NEGLECT.

Now I know where I have to grow. We connected self-neglect to all of it: home care, exercise, physical health, relationship boundaries, assertiveness, writing my Real Stuff (my true purpose) and so on. It ALL fits.

And she connected the difference between beating myself up when I do the neglect (oh you stupid ADD old woman, or, as I told my previous T for YEARS: "I have lost interest in my own life") -- and which voice in my head I am willing to listen to, in order to heal and progress. I've got two choices:

--the harsh, critical-parent voice that shames me for what I have not done
--the kind, loving voice that in a friendly, coaxing way encourages me to tackle the things I feel overwhelmed by, one at a time

I didn't realize how profoundly I'd chosen Evil Voice.
It was wonderful to remember I DO have another (Inner Friend Voice).

It really is all about loving yourself. SO hard to get that lesson all the way inside. But I realized it really is the answer to everything. Health, home, relationship, creativity, everything. If I start with that friendly loving attitude to myself no matter what I'm doing/not doing, everything healthier in me responds.

Thanks for much for that suggestion -- it was very illuminating.

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on May 21, 2020, 02:06:12 PM
Oh wow, Hops, that's huge.  How amazing that you've come to that realisation.  There's a school of thought that people come into your life to teach you different things and that kind of struck me as I read your post - that quite unknowingly, all of the work and time spent with M has brought you to realising you need to love and be kinder to yourself - as compassionate and caring with you as you are with M and with all of us on here (and others in your world, I'm sure).  A good reminder for all of us as well, I think.  I'm so happy that realisation has settled in with you now xx xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on May 21, 2020, 11:54:36 PM
Thanks, ((((Tupp)))).

It's like that old sarcastic saying: You can dish it out, but you can't take it.

I realize one can apply that to love, too--if I find it easier to love others than myself. That's actually not a saintly thing to brag about, it's an unhealthy thing that holds me back.

I felt like I'd been shot out of a cannon today, the relief was so deep. Actually dealt with a whole lot of domestic stuff and it felt good. Back and knee aren't very happy at the mo' but the rest of me is!

Hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: CB123 on May 22, 2020, 10:18:51 AM
Hops,

Love that burst of energy you get when something inside breaks loose! I see you taking care of yourself by tackling something that matters to you.

I REALLY GET the Evil Voice. I would probably characterize it as a constant murmur of disapproval. It's hard to conquer (I haven't), and I wonder if we look for someone to counteract it but are not too surprised when they start being a stand in for it. In a way, having a person we can try to please, or even use as an excuse for why we don't pursue our own dreams, feels more manageable? I have wondered that a lot. I have done that a lot.

CB



Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on May 22, 2020, 11:06:59 AM
I think that's a big insight, CB.

Focusing on M (to whom I just wrote a LONG email explaining "forced-teaching" and how it may undermine our relationship) ... is only productive to the extent that it helps me evaluate (based on his response or lack of) how real and plausible this relationship might be for ME in the long term. No emergency, but a sense I'm gettin' real with him, more real with myself too.

And then it freed me up. Now I'm ready to get going and get more done today, me and my Friend (inner friend). And that will bring me happiness regardless of what's happening with the relationship.

Duh. (Whoops, there's mean belittler again. SMACK!)

hugs
Hops

Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on May 22, 2020, 01:24:22 PM
Hops:

I'm relieved to read you're getting more real with M and with yourself.  M needs that information to determine his ability and drive to meet your needs, where you are, or not.  YOU need this information to make long term decisions with clarity and economy of motion.

That's, IMHO, the mission.  To really SEE what you and M have to offer each other.  Can you both get your needs met?  What about wants?  Is it all one way?  Really important information gathering going on here.  Might as well get to the substance and please.... remember you're as worthy of having your needs met as M.  You're advocating for yourself and it's OK to do that: )  It's the main reason I wanted you to ask M for a joyful BD present redo.  To SEE what he'd do with your outright request, but mostly..... to see you overcome your resistance to asking. 

It's not selfish.  It's self care.  NECESSARY self care. 

What M does with this information is up to him.  I'm very glad the Seik helps bring clarity and move you guys along at a good pace. 

Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on May 24, 2020, 04:33:21 AM
I hear you, Lighter. Asking for what I need and want is assertion, first cousin to boundaries. Saying yes to myself but releasing the outcome (except whatever part I control).

I don't think I'll focus on gifts, but on asking for what I want in my own life and in my relationship.

Had a blue day today (boy am I moody) because M responded fairly dismissively to my big missive. Kind of blew it off as a 'bad habit" from "too much therapy" etc. Said something about how I like to go "very deep" while implying that he just doesn't. Wasn't hostile but clearly isn't ready to sink inside himself and find out what's there. He's been lodged in the frontal lobes so long. I hope he re-reads it at some point and takes it in. (And he did make clear he's still seeing his individual T.)
He wound up emailing with some happy stuff and ending with I yam what I yam. Probably I could translate that as, not motivated to change myself.

So that's okay. He doesn't HAVE to get it. But I do (back to asserting). Next time he  launches a forced-teaching episode after I have nicely told him I don't want to be taught this recipe right now, please stop reciting every detail of the whole process when I just asked about an ingredient, please stop narrating this--and if he doesn't, I will peacefully get up and leave.

One connection I haven't made for him, that I will save for counseling, is that his autopilot tone and insistence on continuing, even when I was asking him to stop, is exactly how it felt (though it was extreme) during our disastrous time in bed that day. That IS a form of domination, and I think putting all these incidents together and recognizing a pattern of domination is what got to me today. I don't have to deal with it often --mostly it's charm and fun and relaxing together-- but I don't want a permanent relationship where I'm frequently having to fend it off, either.

I told him I'd felt tearful and frustrated today and he asked me to tell him about it, but I wasn't ready. I think that needs to happen with the Sikh. If the T can continue to teach M empathy then things will get better. If M is rigid and uninterested in exploring the self and emotion and empathy, then things will stay the same.

All will be well. I think quarantine catches up with me sometimes.

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on May 24, 2020, 05:08:57 AM
The having to get to the end of an explanation or story (I wasn't sure what you meant by forced teaching at first but I get what you mean now) is something I recognise in autism (and I expect other things as well) and it's very interesting when you see how it works differently in different environments - in a teaching or academic situation it's perfect because everyone is there to learn but not being able to switch it off in other environments is very difficult for everyone concerned.  I hope you can find a path through it, Hopsie, I really admire you for examining everything so carefully and taking it all out to look at it objectively.  There's no brushing off or glazing over things with you, and equally no desire for everything to be perfect.  It's a very impressive combination and along with your willingness to also examine your own thoughts and feelings and take action if necessary, I think M is much luckier than he likely realises sometimes.  I do hope the domination isn't a theme that can't be changed.

Yes, assertion and boundaries, they do go hand in hand, don't they?  I'm still having trouble with clear assertion rather than making excuses, ("I'm too busy to come over or too tired" instead of "I feel you only call me when you want something and I'd like our friendship to be more reciprocal - I'd like to talk about that before we meet up again").  Just writing that made me go a bit cold so I'm in awe of your ability to be so direct but also polite and compassionate as well.  I need to be more Hops :)  Lol

I think the quarantine madness is coming and going in waves.  Everyone gets affected by it sooner or later so I hope it settles down a bit for you again soon xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on May 24, 2020, 07:52:06 AM
Oh, Hops. I hope you aren't in a position to fend off dominating behavior, without end, too.  I just wouldn't thrive under those circumstances.... unless I found a way to unhook the reactivity around it.   Just not hear it, not let it get to me.  I don't know what that would take for you, but I hope M can learn how to STOP doing it. 

I'm picturing you distracting M from his habits and it looks like a lot of work to me. 

Rhetorical question.... when you feel into your body...... do you feel M understands T, how he's the student... how you're both working on changes to bring you together in harmony?

 Or do you have the feeling he's engaged bc he's interested in himself....happy to spend time with you as a couple's activity, rather than getting down to nitty gritty work? There should be code words and playful pointing out of behaviors he CAN stop or at least notice he can't stop.  He should be looking at your face...into your eyes..... SEEING your distress.  Caring.  Changing his patterns, if he can.   That kind of change isn't perfect.  It's the crabbing forward, sideways and backwards learning, but there should BE recognition.... doing better..... understanding.  Not just interest in talking about himself and continuing on as he's always done,while giving lip service to your feelings. 

If he doesn't want to change, doesn't feel he should change, isn't interested in change... that's important information. 

Do the different Ts ever speak to each other?  I think they should, if they don't.
Lighter

Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on May 24, 2020, 08:28:07 AM
Wild guess:

Does M see this didactic & pedantic domination as "sharing" himself? B can kinda get into that mode when he's anxious about his vulnerability; Mike was worse about it... no getting a word in edgewise.

Hol's pointed out several times reently, that people reach adulthood with very little emotional education. Meaning that we never learned how or became comfortable working in the emotional space. It has been popular in modern society to glorify rationality and reason over emotions for quite a while. And especially in male conditioning. So emotional work was not prioritized in parenting. I guess it's just assumed that this comes from experience and socialization. Because of her intense emotional states and the physical agitation that comes with it... she & I have been stumbling along together learning, pondering, and sorting things out on that topic.

IIRC, at various times, we've dealt with things that came up for each of us - bemoaning the fact that no one ever taught us the actual meaning or how to manage various emotions. Or confusion of one emotion with another even. We were just told "that's what women live with" - a dismissive statement that it's not important.

This isn't even a complete picture, but maybe it's enough for you to catch my meaning.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on May 24, 2020, 12:55:27 PM
Wow.
When I got to the Board today and read these I just felt overwhelmed with gratitude.
Seriously.
It is flippin' AMAZING that you all are here, like a daily resource of support, wisdom, thoughtfulness and company.

Absolutely incredible (thanks again Doc G) and I am incredibly GRATEFUL.

That said, I'm going to read other threads and take in some more caffeine before I get back to this. Don't wanna give M-analysis much time today if I can help it.

Hugs, big ones--
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on May 24, 2020, 02:31:31 PM
Thanks, Tupp. Your comment about the spectrum reminded me to consider also that M may have some degree of neuro-atypical something. It's never a bright line kind of thing and certainly no diagnosis, but it does fit with some of his behaviors: the compulsive talking, fiddly restless hands, hyper behavior, addiction (food) and obsessiveness about his routines and ways of doing things. I mean, why wouldn't there be "co-morbidity" as there so often is with various things? ADD, OCD, selective deafness? I'm sure I'm a pile of them: ADD, mood swings, sleep disorders, periodic depression, blah and blah.

All of those I think are not so terribly severe as to mean I can't adapt. Literally politely walking off is likely the best way, in case I can't get through verbally.

As to the domination when under stress, I dunno. I don't expect him to be perfect and he's a lot more pleasant to be with than other men I've loved. But that trait is one I do not want to have to deal with in an ongoing way, especially when I'm feeling vulnerable. It's infrequent, but of a piece with unaware entitlement that his upbringing marinated him in. We had a deeper than usual talk yesterday. At one point, I said to him (judgement-free): you are elitist, and he said yes, I am. He didn't take it as an insult but as an observation and wasn't offended. He's too intelligent not to realize that the way he was raised and trained to view the world, and the rarified gilded ivory tower he lives in, hasn't had that effect.

On the other hand, M is very very smart and at times when we talk either alone or in T about deeper stuff, meaning nuances (if not emotional ones), I can see his eyes light up with interest, and sense his wheels are turning. I also notice some changes in his behavior at times that feel as though they came from him trying to learn. I honestly think he writes so much (as do I) that it was a big mistake to bring it all up with him BY EMAIL. I am just as sensitive to the written word as he is, and no matter how much I tried to cushion the observation ("these episodes contained dominance") with love and compassion, I think he still felt defensive. I can't blame him for that. We've both got to learn to connect and communicate in the real and from the heart. In fact, what I interpret as dominance might be partly that, but even more, compulsion. That's easier to forgive. Dominance hits me in some primitive and threatened place, and I don't like visiting there.

More practice, assertion and boundaries, might actually work well in the long run.

Lighter, you're so astute and it IS a lot of work. Time will tell whether it's been worth it. Generally as long as I'm learning and not too anxious, it is so far. But thanks for asking illuminating questions:

Quote
Rhetorical question.... when you feel into your body...... do you feel M understands T, how he's the student... how you're both working on changes to bring you together in harmony?

I know that now and then in T, the Sikh reminds M that he wants M to get more of what he wants: more trust from me, and a happier relationship. M usually seems to take that in with trust in the Sikh. He said once recently when we were getting intense (usually our T-dialogue is pretty friendly): The most important thing to me is to show you how not to hurt each other.

Quote
Or do you have the feeling he's engaged bc he's interested in himself....happy to spend time with you as a couple's activity, rather than getting down to nitty gritty work?
I know he started T because I made it clear I thought he needed it individually (told him he HAD to learn to manage his own anxiety) and later that we needed it together. His reaction to something I clearly state I want or need that will move our relationship forward is to say Yes. (I think he sensed in both decisions that if he refused he would likely lose me.) He isn't always receptive in individual difficult moments, but overall he seems entirely willing to hang in with therapy. I think he downgraded it a bit in his response to that big email only because something might have hurt. His ego has a tough time letting in less-pleasant information about himself. Mine too.

But I also think some of it is interest in himself and "couple's activity" -- he has from the start wanted more connection and certainty of commitment than I have been ready for. So, I think he sees it as a necessary step to get what he wants.

Noticing my face, eyes and responding to present emotional information from me (much less verbal) is something the T has begun to raise with M. Plus, asking me questions. I don't yet know whether it's neuro-psycho-bio stuff that makes it difficult for him. Don't really care, honestly.

My general hope is that the effect of T over time will be to make him a bit more flexible and a bit more curious, about himself and the human element in everything. More aware of how his behaviors affect me, and more practiced in tweaking them. The relief with the Sikh is that he can help carry the weight of the hard work; I'm not alone in it any more.

If he's at permanent-Popeye ("I yam what I yam") and either unable or uninterested in stretching his knowledge base, then my interest in deeper commitment or marriage may wear away. And despite my security needs, I might be better off letting that happen. I don't have to decide now and I'm glad of that.

We're each trying hard in our old-fart ways. He started fantasizing about renewing travel again, mentioning this European city or that one, and I thought, I'm so glad we can't do that for a while. And I will not go, unless I'm feeling very confident about where we are. He's both stimulated and soothed by the intense distractions of travel and its reassuring luxuries, and though I enjoy those too, I need way less than he does. Quarantine is a good teacher.

This is too long. Gonna reply to myself to break it up. :)

grateful hugs,
Hops

Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on May 24, 2020, 02:43:01 PM
Amber, thank you.

I think you're right that he thinks pedantic holding forth is sharing; and also very right about how socialization about emotional realities is practically nil in our immature culture. That's huge and impacts everything.

I guess one reason I'm here on the Board is that even within our toxic, selfish culture, I felt as though my childhood, N-mother, broken marriages and bad relationships were all worse than life HAD to be. IOW, if I can keep my mind open and my assertion/boundaries in play (and get more comfortable with those), I think life could be pretty happy. And by my measure so far, this is actually a pretty happy relationship, believe it or not.

I'm brittle. Very scared of toxic masculinity even in elegant, high-flown forms. Yet I continue to think I'm also accurately perceiving that M is a good person, someone who wrestles with ethics and questions of power. He questions the former way more than the latter...so maybe if I can be a vehicle for him to learn something, it'd be about power. Still I see his sweetness and his human vulnerability (his kids, my dog, his students).

But I also (today, these posts, are evidence) don't want to do the thing CB described -- siphon off my energy for my own life and dreams and development into over-analysing HIM and thus doing the emotional labor that is HIS. I think that's part of what got me down yesterday. I'd done this deep dive and heaved over a lot of boulders to understand something key, and he just saw bugs under the rock and it spooked him. If I'm patient and wait to hear what he says about it in T, things might be better than I've been assuming.

I won't write him off yet. The beauty of T is that I know his mind is active enough that he won't be able to completely block out that he's gotten some new information. And I'm also convinced he DOES respect me, and senses my higher EQ, and is drawn to somebody who has an effect on what is really pretty unbalanced in his life. (T told him he lived in his frontal lobes and there's a whole
'nother part of the brain to explore...) All I need to do is take care of MYSELF in the context of us, and wait to see how he shows change and intention, or doesn't.

Whew. This must have been so tedious and over-detailed to wade through, and I'm sorry I write at such length. Hazard of the hobby, but it's a lot for you guys to read.

I am really profoundly grateful that you do. Thank you for the thinking.

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on May 25, 2020, 08:44:24 AM
It's OK how much you write Hops. Really - even when it's long. It's because there's so much CONTENT in it - and all the nuances too. You are very much a real person on the page, at least to me - your authenticity comes across. That's  appreciated a LOT.

I know what you mean about doing the heavy-lifting in the analysis dept when it's his own work. There's been a lot of that around here lately and it's not that useful or healthy - even though sometimes we do have to take stock, holistically. That's over for now, for me.

Sigh... relationships at this age, are no less fraught with all the unknowns and uncertainties than they were in our 20s or 30s. But what is different is US. Most of us have ourselves a lot more sorted out; we know our strengths & weaknesses - and are more fluent in that emotional "thinking" now. Finding the inner confidence to intrepidly wade through whatever the "next thing" in our lives is... is also useful, and not to be confused with the cockiness that comes from ego-status.

This sounds like a good journey you're on with M. No matter what the outcome turns out to be.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on May 25, 2020, 09:45:43 AM
Thanks, Amber. I appreciate this.

And it partially answers my queries to you on Farm Life.

Forgive if I overstep there....

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on May 27, 2020, 04:56:01 AM
Hopsie, I don't find your posts tedious or over detailed; quite the opposite.  You always write very clearly and explain your thought processes so well.  I always enjoy reading them.

I do think it's difficult if you're in a relationship with someone who has a condition of some sort, whatever it may be, to disentangle the 'condition' behaviour - stuff that they genuinely can't do much about because of the way that they're wired - from the 'arsehole' behaviour - stuff that they can deal with but it may get swept up with the genuine stuff as being their 'thing'.  As a very brief example from my own past, I had a boyfriend - who I loved very much - who suffered from depression.  And as a result, didn't go to work much, didn't pay bills very often, rarely cleaned the house, sometimes stayed in bed for days and often burst into tears if I raised any of these problems with him.  Eventually we broke up; it was my house so he moved out - and within a fortnight had got a job, sorted out a new flat and was out with his friends several nights a week.  He had suffered from depression, that was very evident - but it was also apparent that it suited him to let me carry the weight of all the 'boring but necessary' stuff that goes with living together.  It's a hard line to tread, particularly for someone like yourself who is so sensitive and compassionate to other people's needs.  So I think you're on the right path when you talk about focusing on your own boundaries and being able to walk away if/when necessary.

I did read a very good book years ago:  "Sensory Perceptual Differences in Autism and Asperger".  The author is Olga Bogdashina; she's a doctor with two autistic children, I think.  I found it so helpful in understanding my own son's sensory experiences and it helped me figure out when he genuinely can't do something and when he doesn't want to (and sometimes him not wanting to is fine, I just like to know which is which).  I only mention it as you casting your eye over it might make some things make a bit more sense.  Things that you mentioned in another post about not noticing facial expressions, I think it was, or picking up on non verbal cues are also things that aren't a possibility with some autistic people; the wiring in the brain needed for those things is different (I seem to remember a study where they were able to track where people were looking when engaged in a conversation with someone they cared about.  The autistic and non-autistic people looked in completely different places - all looked at the face but the brain was focusing on different parts so some of the facial expressions that non-autistics picked up didn't register, whereas the autistic people noticed some things the non-autistics didn't.  Not better or worse, just different).  Anyway, I just thought I would mention it in case you need something else to read while you're isolating :) 

I hope you are able to find a path through it all.  Nothing comes easily, it seems!  Lol xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on May 27, 2020, 12:51:06 PM
Thanks, Tupp! That's a really interesting train of thought.

I've often thought there's something off about his perception (trouble with eye contact, difficulty focusing on a speaker, etc). It's hard to imagine someone SO gregarious not being good at "social cues" but I think he's really not. Interesting.

Yesterday he and my good friend, the poet, both came over and both had said they were STARVED for social contact. We did one of the sit-eight-feet-apart wine chats and it was a lot of fun. They're both story tellers. One thing I noticed was that as she was talking (she's much more halting in her speech but very intelligent and interesting, with an academic family and similar cross-cultural dislocation to M's) -- he was literally TWITCHING (physically) to break in.

He managed to be courteous but still talked 80% of the time. His stories were fun and fascinating and she clearly enjoyed listening to him. But I know her well and know she observed in person the pattern of talk-dominance I'd vented to her about. She wasn't angered by it but surely spotted it. I made the choice to not even try to tell stories of my own, and I also enjoyed his.

The literal twitching and his body nearly jumping in the chair to interrupt were just so visible to me. I would occasionally gently lean toward her and ask a followup question, and M seemed to catch the hint and subside for a moment.

All in all a pleasant time, and also very illustrative.

Thanks for the book suggestion, too.

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on May 28, 2020, 12:05:47 PM
It's all a continuum, isn't it?  I used to have a friend, nice lady, but talking to her was exhausting because I wouldn't even be half way through my sentence when she'd be jumping in, either telling me what to do (if it were a problem) or starting in with a similar story of her own.  She literally didn't seem to be able to wait until I'd finished speaking before she spoke and as a result the conversations were very jarred - I'd say my half sentence, she'd jump in ("you need to call x department about that"), I'd say, "yes, I've called x department and they said......." and again before I'd finished speaking she'd jump in to tell me what they should have said and we just never got anywhere.  It's tiring.  It's interesting that it's a physical movement for him to jump in and that you can actually see that happening.

There is another aspect of autism called masking (I'm just chucking these things in as food for thought, not to say I think this applies to M or that you should ignore anything he's doing).  Some autistics can cover the fact they don't pick up on the social cues, facial expressions, turn taking in conversations and so on because they can mimic other people's actions (I think I've done it most of my life).  And it's exhausting and can lead to meltdowns, depression, burn out and so on.

I think, in the nicest way, that whether M's problematic aspects are due to some neurology that he has no control over or not, the key thing is what you are happy with.  Someone I know is with a man who drives her mad and she wanted him assessed for autism because she said if he is autistic she'd be able to tolerate him better.  I just found the idea of 'tolerating' your life partner the sadness thing I'd ever heard.  Putting up with some bad habits, yes, we've all got those, but 'tolerating' being the best she could hope for was heartbreaking to hear.

And slightly on that note - I did want to ask a question just because I noticed you said that you "made the choice to not even try to tell stories of my own".  I mean this question in a kind way, Hopsie, but did you not want to tell stories or was it just to difficult or exhausting to try to get yourself into the conversation? xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on May 28, 2020, 12:28:43 PM
Hmmmm. Possibly irrelevant thought:

due to the asyncronous nature of texting, email, posting online - it doesn't matter if one waits their turn to speak or not. One can simply get things off their minds.

Of course, even in this communication environment - misunderstandings and lack of context occurs because people don't wait their turn (or read everything, maybe more than once to understand) before posting.

Just a fleeting thought that may or may not apply.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on June 16, 2020, 07:41:03 AM
This is an interesting commentary, dunno why I didn't dig in. Thanks to you both.

At one point I found that emailing (at its peak) was a big danger zone for me, in relationships. It still is. For example, I recently explained I needed to withdraw from communication, email or phone, for a day to think and write and M still couldn't resist punching through with an email and a pretext--so I called him on it very gently, in T. He had replied "Understood" but later poked the boundary anyway (in a very minor way compared to how he used to). After that all passed we were having dinner last night and he says, "I think you're *catatonic sometimes". I later wrote him (email!) that that word landed wrong, and he wrote back the classic non-apology apology: "I'm sorry if you took it the wrong way, it was hyperbole of course" which by using blaming language rendered it a non-apology. So I've just written him back to explain that.

All to say, it would have been better to tell him how I felt in person because email often makes conflict or disagreement creepy. Or makes it escalate. Sometimes in certain moods or about certain subjects for me, the computer feels radioactive.

It's not a big fight or anything. Just noticing... M does have a difficult time apologizing. When I am around someone who can simply and sincerely say, I'm sorry, I know I'm with someone who's does real interior growth and gets it. People who can't often are shame-driven but may not know it.

*He was referring to a long explanation I'd given, before my retreat and again in T, about why I need those times sometimes, to get into a deep stillness/silence to think or write. The deeper layer, I think, is that it triggers his abandonment stuff and he doesn't really want to focus there.

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Garbanzo on June 18, 2020, 03:53:11 PM
due to the asyncronous nature of texting, email, posting online - it doesn't matter if one waits their turn to speak or not. One can simply get things off their minds.

I don't wait my turn when on Skype with or text with others, one never knows if a person will be gone for 5 minutes or away for 30 minutes, time can seem irrelevant though I would say some people actually try to have conversations on chat. Then again some people tend to do it out of boredom and I'm not sure if that is always the best way to interact with people. But maybe boredom is just a bad word for down-time.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Garbanzo on June 18, 2020, 03:54:48 PM
Wow Catatonic sometimes is a strong statement. I guess he is frustrated and needs more attention.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on June 18, 2020, 05:40:08 PM
I think he'd be happy with 24/7 attention, unless he's scholaring.
I ain't giving it.

We had a pretty calm talk about it, and I got to explain there were two sides to why that remark stung. One is that the "deep retreat" I can get into has two sides that feel vulnerable;

Side One: It is the kind of near-trance stillness that sometimes produces my best writing and thus I feel very protective of it. Always had that need, always will. Margaret Atwood says: There's no such thing as writer's block, there are interruptions from other people.

Side Two: It is also on the surface just the same stillness as my depressive withdrawal into non-functional sedentaritude. I don't need a highly-executive personality yapping around my ankles with TIPS on ADD or such, I'm working on it in therapy.

And sometimes I can't tell the difference. But I'm glad he heard me out last night and seemed to be respectful of me. I was defending my important boundaries but without hostility (or sarcasm, like here...).

Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on June 20, 2020, 11:24:19 AM
I am just coming up for air Hops. Buck left yesterday and then I spent all day with Hol in hospital; she fell - onto one of the rocks around here and broke 4 ribs. Up late last night for required me time - and that retreat you speak of.

I just wanted to share how I frame my own version of the "retreat". Maybe there's something useful in it?

Side one - is well-known to me. It's my painter's trance; where I'm able to become "one with the void"; enter the zone. It's a necessary balance point for me - because of how busy my mind is.

Side two - is necessary for me, because I have such "melty, fusible" physical perceptions and it's very very easy to establish a sort of Vulcan MindMeld in situations with others - on those non-verbal levels. Problem IS, of course, the inescapable imposition of my own interpretation on others. I usually have to pull back, re-establish my skin location and ordinary "personal space" (or distancing)... and then engage brain & mouth to query the other person about the accuracy or validity of my other perceptions. Otherwise I'm PRESUMING and ASSUMING way too much.

I'm told this is a problem for some empaths - not that I claim that label. Definitely have that tendency and some aptitude. But I'm more like a loose cannon that depends on luck and synchronicity... than any kind of intentional, directed force.

Anyhoo... that's my framework for what sounds similar. Chuck it, ponder... whatever.
Hugs. I guess there's always more dance steps to learn.  :D
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on June 20, 2020, 03:46:46 PM
Amber, thank you.
It was so comforting to read your depiction of the artist's necessary trance (quite like a poet's), and its flip side...which is really just an individual PERSON's necessary solitude periods. You get it, so well.

Makes me mindful to recognize that underneath it all, I am also a weird kind of introvert. Just another kind of person who needs to tend to her separate self.

I'll respond about Hol's injuries (!!!!!!!) over on Farm Life.

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on June 26, 2020, 03:55:10 PM
Well, there's a new how-de-do. I think it could bring us closer or the opposite, and am not too worried about the result. My part is my work, my awareness. His is his.

So....I have gradually gotten increasingly frustrated about M's food obsession. In brief, it's as though obsessive and frequent talking about food (what he will cook, what will be in it, when he'll order ingredients and from which store, what time he'll start the dish, etc -- followed by a deeee-tailed recitation of the preparation once I'm there and a slow plodding repeat of all the steps/ingredients/sources, etc during the meal--while he groans in pleasure as he eats--.... and it's become fossilized). So I recently told him something I'd love a lot would be if the next time I come to dinner he not email me about the food or the cooking during the day, and not tell me anything, and just let me enjoy the surprise meal when I'm there, when I'd be delighted to hear all about it.

He goes, "Understood! XXXXOOOO." Then that afternoon, he sends another email: I did this, and that and got the other thing done! And now I'm ready to COOK!! (It's as though no matter what boundary I ask for, he's going to poke it, often subtly. So I'm learning not to trust him when he says Yes, Understood, or similar.)

Long (and riiiiidiculous) story shorter -- I've also told him I'm avoiding bread and white flour right now (gained weight). But he keeps setting bread on my plate or adding croutons to salads (he still occasionally tries to pour me more wine despite all THAT discussion). Anyway, went over for dinner and the MOMENT I came in the door he launched into his obsession like a fancy waiter: "This is a thick sort of soup, Hops..." and I wanted to screeeeeam. I hadn't even had time to set down my bag.

And then, perched as I always am at the counter to chat and listen while he "narrates" the meal...(but I was willing)...I look at my bowl and....(drumroll!).... there are croutons in the bottom. Reflexively, without thinking (I thought he was about to pour the hot liquid in) -- I reached over and snatched them out of the bowl and put them on the counter. BUUUUUT....they're not croutons. They're lovely little cubes of baked tofu. Oops! And M is (justifiably) pissed! It was a rude impulsive move on my part and when he said, "I'm annoyed!" I thought, bravo! Then he goes on to say in detail what I should have done instead: inquired, confirmed what they were, (or IF croutons, reminded him), etc. Like a grownup. And I completely agreed, recognized what I'd done wrong and why it was a rude and inappropriate move, and apologized. About three times.

Finally during dinner I said M, I've agreed and apologized repeatedly but you're not letting it go....can you let it go now? He goes, Of course, it's over and done. Two minutes later he's eating and says, Oh I just got another mouthful of ha-ha ... crouton! Does that a couple times.

Then after dinner when we go to sit down and converse...he starts up with a mini-lecture on what's wrong with my character because I did that move, and my blood begins to simmer, and by the time he gets to "You're petulant" I, errrr, blew up.
"If there's one thing I am NOT it's petulant! I am honest and direct and I own my mistakes and am accountable, and I am capable of genuinely apologizing and I am absolutely NOT PETULANT!" And then I announced I still loved him but had to leave because I needed to cool off. Retrieved Pooch and left.

(What all that was, was what I WISH I'd been able to do in his jungle house when he did a similar--but more scathing--lecture about my defects after I'd pissed him off, when I didn't speak the language and had no way of just leaving, which I wanted to do. Rang the same bell.) Only two times this has happened.

Then once home I emailed him a calm, mature explanation of agreeing with him entirely that my gesture had been impulsive inappropriate and rude, that his annoyance was justified, but that I'd left because he wouldn't let it go and then had escalated into negative characterizations about who I am, etc.

He wrote back late that night: It's really okay, was just unexpected and unexplained.

So now my goal is to unload all this, without any anger, in therapy with him, to say that I'm worried about the food obsession and its effect on us, and I'm worried that when he says "It's okay" or "Happy to respect your request" but then doesn't...and how that impacts my dreaming about a lifelong commitment and how I manage my own frustrations better and don't get angry when if I'd said how I felt all along it'd be less intense. (All true. T thinks I need to speak up, and regularly.)

There we go. Sturm und drang...and All About Croutons. Exhausting. But funny in a way.

hugs and thanks for your patience!
Hops

Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: CB123 on June 26, 2020, 11:22:36 PM
Hops, I actually would have loved to have seen your face when you had an unexpected handful of tofu (who knew? Tofu in the bottom of a bowl? We used to make soup with tofu but that's a bit strange) Anyway, I would have laughed hard enough to fall off the stool. And I'll bet if he had reacted that way, you both would have been doubled over and it would have ended up making one of those secret stories that lovers have where one of you whispers "croutons" at a dinner party and the other starts snickering.

On the other hand, I'm imagining your thoughts whirring when you saw them in the bottom of the bowl. The first unconscious thought was " I can't trust him to not sabotage my food preferences, I need to protect myself".  That probably happened before you even had a conscious decision formed. I can see you trying to set up protection from the verbal onslaught--asking him to not email you with food details, or call you with them, or start talking about them. I sense that you are tense and on guard trying to protect yourself from that and from his unwillingness to honor your food and drink preferences. It seems that it puts you in a defensive mode in something that looks an awful lot like a power play on his part

I was thinking that, although I would also find that verbal barrage grating, it's a little sad that he is being asked to give up something he enjoys doing so much--it sounds like all the description and minute details are part of the cooking experience for him. I'm imagining that it would change his experience with preparing food by quite a lot and that biting his tongue will take out an integral part of what he enjoys.

I can picture what you want too-- a quiet glass of wine while you talk back and forth about your day. He's deglazing the pan and adding a bit of wine, and there's soft music in the background while you set the table and ask him how many forks you should put out. A completely different feel to the evening. Perhaps neither one is "wrong".

Maybe there's no bad guy here. Maybe what each of you want from the dinner experience is simply mutually exclusive. Maybe there is nothing he needs to change in therapy (nor do you).  As a compromise, I could see you taking turns making dinner and when he is in charge he does it loudly and full of gusto the way he enjoys, and when you make it, it's calm and conversational and relaxed. If he refuses to relinquish being in charge of dinner every time, or if you can't bear even one more evening with the verbal play-by-play, that probably tells you something important that you need to know.

CB


Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on June 27, 2020, 09:15:09 AM
What CB said :)  I have to say, though, - and I freely admit not being a foodie or being much into manners or proper ways of doing things - I wouldn't consider someone taking something out of their bowl (especially if it was because they thought it was something else) wrong, rude or inappropriate.  It just wouldn't register for me.  Seems like a very small thing to get upset about, with the caveat that I don't get 'foodie' stuff so maybe that's why it seems less of an issue for me.

I have a got a couple of friends who I love to bits but they are very foodie and, like M, will talk a lot about planning, prepping, shopping for ingredients, how it was all put together, how to serve it and so on.  I find it tiring to listen to.  I don't particularly enjoy food - I see it as something I need to do.  Things I really like are unhealthy so I try not to eat them too much.  I hugely appreciate someone else cooking for me - the kindness of it is the thing I love - but I'm just as happy if someone bungs a pizza in the oven or turns up with a takeaway.  It's the action of doing it that I love rather than the food itself.  I just don't find it interesting.  I think my palette is probably very unrefined.

Do you think he's got bigger stuff he wants to say, Hops, but doesn't feel that he can?  Or even know he wants to, really?  I'm just playing Devil's Advocate a bit.  There just seems to be a pattern (from the things you post) of him saying what he's supposed to rather than doing what he's supposed to (or what you ask him to, I suppose is more accurate).  And almost like he's pleased when you get something 'wrong' because it gives him a chance to critique you?  I don't really know how to explain it.  I just feel like when I read about 'crouton gate' it seems like there is something bigger than croutons?  I may have been in lockdown too long and be seeing things that aren't there.  Whatever it is, I hope you are able to get things sorted out.  And obviously ignore all of this if it's nonsense, I think I'm spending too much time talking to the cat :) xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on June 27, 2020, 11:52:46 AM
CB, your response sobered me, in a good way. You showed a lot of compassion for M. Cooking and food-obsessing is a big part of his "love language." He's said so: "This is how I show love for the people I love." So the struggle to balance appreciation and gratitude (this generous man is feeding me great meals!) with my inner aversion to the volume of attention he pays to it (and insists I pay in return) is difficult. I feel like such an ingrate.

The truth is, I have a deep recoil at times. It's not the topic but his obsessiveness around it that gets to me. My reaction isn't rational, it's visceral. I think on a deep dive I'd find it has something to do with my father. He was the main cook and also clearly had some version of OCD as M seems to as well. So even though I was desperate to help, all I could ever do was sit and watch Dad. I adored him and wanted to be part of it. M is similar in the kitchen, in that he has total control of absolutely everything that's happening, and no matter how often I ask, he wants to orchestrate every single step. One difference is that my Dad never lectured, narrated, or held forth aloud about every single aspect of his cooking, as M does. So even though it was frustrating not to be allowed to participate, I still was happy to be around my Dad.

It reminds me of M's "forced teaching" thing I described here at one point. I'd like to just enjoy a meal, ask a few appreciative questions about it and enjoy learning a bit. But not the entire Julia Child step-by-step recreation of every single thing that went into it. M's style of teaching is to go through each conceivable detail at microscopic level. "And then at 2:00 I took out a medium bowl and placed the whatever in it, to marinate in a blend of A and B and C and D and E...." So if I ask, what's that lovely XX?, I just get Too Much Answer. I also feel that my role is to clap. It's just hard. Doesn't mean it should be, but it builds up.

It's a weird response and I'm going to work on it. If I'm going to eat both greedily and gratefully at his house, I do think I should find a way to just accept that all the narration is the price of admission. The other day, when it started the second I stepped into the house (on a day when I'd asked for less of it), I think I couldn't handle it. I was on edge instantly, realizing nothing could really change.

Tupp, you're right. If I'd spoken up (a theme I have to work on) in a calm way, nothing would have happened. I actually *snatched* them out of the bowl, and suddenly. I think that's what upset him. There was no grace involved. He is very formal and fixates on the sort of ballet involved. Every meal is a production, with an audience. I understand it but find it the opposite of relaxing sometimes.

CB, you were also completely on target about the feeling of needing to protect my food and drink preferences because he often doesn't. Just subtly pushes things on me. He has a rigid sense of how each dish should be and it seems to cause him pain when I want to skip bread, refuse wine auto-refills, or do my own salad dressing because I prefer less. So there is chronic tension in me about what he's doing, and I guess my abrupt move with the non-croutons also came from that.

It's almost silly to micro-analyse a minor event like that, but it does seem to reflect a lot of things for me. And given that it culminated in him grinding away with a passive-aggressive commentary on my "character flaws" and me raising my voice and leaving.... I guess it contains truths to ponder. One of them is M's weight. I have never made any reference to it and would never shame him. But he is quite overweight, with a huge belly, etc. And when he insists that food is only about pleasure and celebration (but never makes a single reference to health), it troubles me. His meals he shares are both delicious and mostly healthy, but I believe he eats a lot of sweets alone. Not my job, but at times I feel inner tension over that too (I did spend years writing health books and nutrition things professionally). I've never been with a man as overweight as he is.

CB, your suggestion that I cook sometimes too is a good one. The thing is, I'm a much less relaxed cook for other people...it makes me tense. So to cook with M asking constant questions or also running commentary wouldn't be an easy choice. It's simpler to just be the non-cook in the relationship. But I could ask to negotiate with him that I be allowed to do the dishes. (He doesn't even permit that.) It'd make me calmer I think to have a role to play other than forced-student.

Quote
Do you think he's got bigger stuff he wants to say, Hops, but doesn't feel that he can?  Or even know he wants to, really?  I'm just playing Devil's Advocate a bit.  There just seems to be a pattern (from the things you post) of him saying what he's supposed to rather than doing what he's supposed to (or what you ask him to, I suppose is more accurate).  And almost like he's pleased when you get something 'wrong' because it gives him a chance to critique you?  I don't really know how to explain it.  I just feel like when I read about 'crouton gate' it seems like there is something bigger than croutons?

Yes, I think I've finally caught onto M saying the "right" thing in response to requests (even in T) but basically doing whatever he wants to anyway. The more depressing possibility is that M doesn't just have N-ish traits (as I do too) but perhaps he is far more narcissistic than I've been willing to face.

It seems odd, when I think of his emotional, vulnerable side. But if I'm honest, his emotional expression is usually all about his own feelings. He doesn't show much empathy for mine.

Sigh. I don't really know. But I've found myself watching a whole bunch of Dr. Les Clark videos (Surviving Narcissism on YouTube) lately. I don't know if I'm trying to confirm a fear or rule it out. No firm answer yet but a definite trend I need to think about very soberly.

Thanks guys. I will survive Croutongate! And maybe M and I will survive it together. I feel fortunate that I know we can dump it in the lap of the Sikh on Monday, and get some insight.

Much gratitude,
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on June 27, 2020, 12:13:03 PM
Hops:

It seems like M's fairly entrenched in his NEEEEEED to talk about food.  Maybe.... OCD type stuff?

That he agrees, so quickly, to back off, then bolts forward again, with the behavior you've asked him gently to put down... means?  That he's unable or unwilling to put it down?  With his companion?  You're his companion.  He's used to behaving this way with his wife, I suppose.

The questions are....
can he learn to do something else?  Maybe look forward to keeping it all to himself, as you suggested, then "surprising" you with, and providing details in person.

Or...
can you get used to the chatter?

I have to say, although I might be happy to have someone cook gourmet me for me, I wouldn't be happy to be held captive by all the details either.  It's like hand holding, and ego massaging that's beyond me too.

I'm curious what your couple's T says and how he handles it. 

About your snatching food, and his reaction to it.

I think there was a conversation to be had about what was in the bowl. 

That you snatched it, IMO, spoke to M's trouncing your boundaries... about your feeling unheard. 

That M had the reaction he did speaks to his resistance to your having those boundaries.  As you've noted, he's very food focused.   He wants you to drink
more than you want to drink.

From here it looks like you missed an opportunity to be straightforward with him, talk about that, and figure out what was in the bowl, as you and M already agree.

Under it all is the unrest, feeling of boundaries being dishonored, feeling of having to be constantly on guard, and maybe that's both of you... M and Hops, for surely having to hold his tongue and NOT share foodies stuff feels like a burden to him, even if he's not succeeding.  He KNOWS he's failing, IMO.

Failing, for him, likely feels very bad and he doesn't want to face up to it or own it or change it, bc not doing it perfectly is already taxing him...  maybe.  I'm just throwing stuff against the wall here.  I can't be sure of one thing I've written. 

At first I felt he was bullying you over the tofu pawing incident, but I'm not sure it's that straightforward now.  It makes sense he'd try to change those behaviors, in you, that bring him discomfort and feelings of failure. 

Here's the thing that gives me pause.....
what if changing his behaviors,  and NOT talking compulsively is super difficult for him OR brings up feelings of abandonment he doesn't understand or have the coping strategies to deal with successfully yet.

I've always seen M in that light.... lacking coping strategies to deal with his young M's reactivity and feelings of abandonment that aren't right or wrong... they just ARE, until he figures them out with enough professional help and self awareness/reflection.

If he needs more support, that's different than his willfully forcing his way or the highway on you, iMO.

Is he bullying and picking fights?  I'd have to say, ya... he is.

Why is he doing it?  I'd say his younger M self is reacting, rather than his adult
 self by forcing you to take responsinilty for all the negative feelings, yours and his, and requiring you to TAKE responsibility and FIX it for him, and for yourself.

 Honestly..... what does that mean?  Nothing if it's not accurate, and the lovely couple's T knows the situation and you both pretty well.

Food for thought.

Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on June 27, 2020, 12:30:45 PM
Ok... I see you guys puzzled on this a good deal before I posted.

Hops... I dated a chef once, and it almost ruined cooking forever. 

It DID ruin golf, forever, bc he was so picky and wanted me to feel insecure.  He WANTD me to need him to do everything in the kitchen, which was how that went eventually.  I never thought about doing any food prep or planning again WITH him.

I stuffed all that, btw, and actually fed him a lovely meal I prepared for another boy, I wasn't actually dating, but who wanted to date me.  It was a huge FY, and he felt every inch of it, while I wasn't truly aware of it, on a conscious level... it just came out sideways. 

So....
food.
Ya. 

The trauma of food sensitivities, and health issues compounds things, as Tupp mentioned. 

It's perfectly reasonable for you to have concerns for M's health.  With your background, it's almost impossible not to, IMO. 

CB... you said a lot with fewer words.  I agree with it all. 

Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on June 27, 2020, 01:56:04 PM
Lighter...but CB suggested maybe this doesn't even rank for a therapy session? Are you agreeing with that as well?

Confused.

Struggling.

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on June 27, 2020, 02:11:15 PM
I'm saying the tofu isn't reason for a T session.

I'm saying what's beneath it, likely is.

Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on June 27, 2020, 02:30:42 PM
Hopsie, I wish I could say just don't think about it until you speak to the therapist again but I know it's almost impossible not to, especially with the current situation meaning it's not easy to pop out anywhere to do something to take your mind off it.

What I did want to say is, maybe, if possible, concentrate for a while on how you feel, overall, when you're with M.  Not the analysis or if there's NPD/autism/adhd/past problems/current problems and so on and so on.  My bottom line for relationships these days, platonic or otherwise, is that I want to feel safe and comfortable pretty much all the time.  A bit of insecurity or 'trying something new' I can cope with but overall I want to feel that I can be myself and be able to speak/do what I want or need to do.  Do you mostly feel safe and comfortable with M?  Mostly when you talk about him on here it's problematic but that might just be because you don't need to talk about the easy or comfortable bits on here.  If I'm honest it seems to me that you've put, and are putting, a huge amount of work in to just be able to share space with someone.  But that might be because I only know one portion of it (because much of it doesn't get written about online).  So it may be that view isn't an accurate one.  I'd really like you to be having relaxing dinners where you can slurp your soup and lob croutons across the floor and feed Pooch tidbits without anyone complaining about it.

I'm hopefully the lovely T will be helpful in shedding some light on it all.  And I hope you can get a bit of rest tonight xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: CB123 on June 27, 2020, 02:32:48 PM
Hops,
I think of therapy as something you do to get to the bottom of something in your psyche that needs healing. I guess the reason I said that is because I dont think either of you are doing anything that is unhealthy. The incessant talking about food is something he does because of who he is and your need for some calm and relaxation around food is who you are. No one needs to be fixed.

The fact that he doesnt respect your boundaries is another thing. You shouldnt have to guard your plate and your glass and your body from boundary breaches. You have definitely made yourself clear and he has definitely heard you. If you think that therapy is making an impact, that seems like something worth continuing with.

I wonder if taking the future off the table would help. What if you just enjoy each other's company without trying to change each other? No one is auditioning for a lifetime position, you are just having fun. You get together for as much as it continues to be fun. If you need to get away for some no contact time, let his calls go to voicemail and his emails go to spam. If that starts feeling weird (it is, he should be listening to you) then decide what you want to do.

He probably has some real issues that you as an empath are picking up with your spidey sense. I just wonder how satisfying it will be to spend the future trying to fix that. I dont get the impression that he is unhappy with the way he is or that he would have delved into his deeper motivations on his own. It's possible to really enjoy the company of a person in some situations and at the same time know that you don't mesh on some basic level.

I dont think that makes either of you a failure. Just not a good marriage prospect.

CB
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on June 27, 2020, 03:25:51 PM
Thanks, everybody.
I am going to ponder a while, and see how it goes.

CB, I'm not ready for a definitive conclusion about marriage, or about changing to "just friends." I know you care and I know the goodness and wisdom behind that conclusion. It's just not the question I want to answer right now. I might wind up in the same place, or I might not. I'm not ready to conclude (though it's on my mind).

Sigh. I'm trying to factor in a whole lot of things, only some of which I talk about often.

Boundaries, YES.
Assertiveness, YES.

hugs
Hops



Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on June 27, 2020, 04:20:31 PM
((((((((((((((((((((((((Hops))))))))))))))))))))))))))))  Just a hug from across the pond xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on June 27, 2020, 08:17:05 PM
Thanks, Tupp, hug received!

I understand, CB.
I have old-age security on my mind, too.
Whether I should or not.

I would like to marry again, for comfort
and happiness but also for security. I have
quite a few fears about how I'll wind up.

I may or may not find that with M but it
remains a goal if it's possible. If not M,
perhaps another person.

I'd rather remain alone than marry badly,
though, so we're on the same page there.

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on June 27, 2020, 08:36:48 PM
Hops: 

When I read about your father and experience with him in the kitchen... I really thought about how that might impact your relationship with M.  I always think about things that keep our limbic systems primed and ready for blast off.  It's a what if? thing.  What if,  Hops didn't have that experience with her father?  Would she still have that emotional charge with M and food?

I'm willing to it has very little to do with your feelings, or everything or nothing at all.  I just want the truth to come out, be dealt with, and not be an issue anymore, if it IS an issue.

About M's obsession... and the way it stands with you... it's really a barrier to intimacy and shared fun around food.  It makes it difficult for you to enjoy a gourmet meal prepared for you...  no work on your part.  That's a think, IMO.  There's something under that, and I can't say what. 

I would hope M is trying to cultivate more intimacy and comfort with and for you, as a couple.  If he's not, then that's important to know.

He's making the rigth noises, but they dont' always line up with his actions.

Is that always true, or just part of the time, and if part of the time, what's it about?

Does he have control and ability to correct OR is he foundering a bit, and in need of more support and direction from a mental health professional?

He seems willing to see Ts and take direction... at least from where I sit. 

Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on June 27, 2020, 09:03:29 PM
I'm late to the advice column Hops. So I'm not going to give you any.

Instead, I'm going to tell you what I've observed. And of course - it's my perception of what you've posted about here. It's going to be colored by my internal compass of things. It can, therefore be completely off base. Only you can decide that. My feelings won't be hurt, if you toss it in file 13.

This is not the first time you've reacted to a boundary issue. The croutongate incident was kind of the last straw; your diet being very personal to you and important to you. You've been ignored before, after receiving a pledge not to do so. Yeah - it was fried tofu instead. You misperceived that crucial detail in the moment. Most likely because before you set your bag down, he was already "force teaching" about his cooking and the meal. (Love that term, btw.) That in itself was a boundary violation. I'm not surprised that the misperception of the bowl contents happened; you were already triggered.

And this isn't an occasional problem. It seems to be (to me) an inherent disconnect in the relationship between you two. A pattern. Therapy isn't going to fix this overnight, I don't think. M seems unaware or unconcerned about how this "tic" of his that he can't control, affects other people. I don't know him; I can't say one way or the other with any certainty. But I can imagine feeling (if I were in your shoes) that what was important to me, didn't matter to him enough - to at least try harder. And I can imagine that feeling bringing up a lot of other thoughts & feelings. (((((Hops)))))

That's what I've seen. I won't compare experiences or go any further with this, unless you want to explore some options. I know you can work your way through this. Please just remember it can't always be one person doing all the heavy lifting in a relationship - trying to find a way to make it work equitably for both partners. I've not ever seen that formula lead to success and happiness.

Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on June 28, 2020, 01:37:18 PM
You guys have all offered such insight and asked me so many perceptive questions.

I can't respond right away to each as you deserve, but want you to know how grateful I am.

I'm just weary toay, had trouble sleeping. M and I did connect today and I wrote out my interpretation of what the trouble is. Didn't dump it all on him but didn't back down on some boundaries that matter. Seeing him later to go see a historic place. We haven't done much outside our houses for months and I think that's been part of the tension buildup.

And this Thursday I do have a housecleaner coming for the first time since March. It's filthy and I just faced that I need help. Knee, back and ADD. She is very responsible and takes every virus precaution you could think of. I'll stay out all day and maybe another day too, if I can stay comfortably at M's. We'll see.

I do have new sober thoughts about the future, about how willing (or able) he is to take the deep dives I think we'd need.

But one question, I think Tupp's--yes, most of the time I do feel safe and comfortable. The exceptions are painful but there is a lot of enjoyment as a base.

However, I do have new and I think realistic concerns. A lot will depend on our T process, and also on how much time I can/want to dedicate to this, and especially as y'all have pointed out, is M working as hard for us as I am?

I think he is trying, and his improvements appear sideways and after a week or so. I think he's slow to absorb psychodynamic information. If the Sikh can't get through to him I will probably give it up. But I'm willing to give it more time. Some.

More TK...

hugs and a grateful heart,
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on June 29, 2020, 02:09:51 PM
Thanks, Lighter.
Sometimes it feels like bullying ("I'll talk at you nonstop even though I know it's uncomfortable for you") but then, other times, I wonder if it's neurological or related to undiagnosed OCD, which he says he "is." He even said "I'm an OCD control-freak perfectionist in the kitchen." (He allowed me to participate by chopping veggies last night, which was so much more natural to me than being pinned on a chair while he Julia-Childs). It was a little uncomfortable for him but he was good about it and we enjoyed an amazing omelet. I also asked if I could participate by doing dishes, if he'd show me exactly how he likes it done. Both things helped.

If it's neurological, then I want to develop more patience around it if I can do that while also caring for myself. He said once in T that he finds it very difficult to stop a narration if he hasn't reached the end, and the T said it's sometimes as though M has a tape in his head that is louder than anything I'm saying. That sounds very neurological to me, that his own ADD/attention issues mean he is listening to his own head just nonstop. Hence when I start talking, he's deaf.

If it's also or instead dominance, I want to retreat.

I think it's both at times, which makes it quite complex. Both T's will help. As you guys do! (Seriously, send me your bills....)

CB, thanks much. You really do keep me mindful of the cultural perspective, when it comes to male dominance. It's a big thing. That said, I don't think it would be the cultural differences that would end our bid for a future together. He is Americanized and Europeanized to a large degree, and also he questions and examines culture for a living. He doesn't believe in macho swagger. (If anything, the micro-cultures of wealth and power in his family, and Presbyterian modesty and frugality in mine, are where more of our contrasts originate.)

I completely understood where you got to with your M, and for your very good reasons. I believe you had a very loving relationship with him but understood entirely why you realized marriage or living together wasn't the answer for you two. He is lucky to have had you in his life as long as he did, and even vice versa. That he still tries to take care of you to this day by bringing bulk food now and then is very touching. What a sweetheart. I think I was half in love with him myself when you used to talk about him.

Your ability to let that relationship go took courage. And then there's the piece that is different in our lives...family and backup in life. I will figure that out eventually. I know close friendships make a huge difference, but also know they can weaken. The quarantine, plus folks using social media (which I don't), has brought some connections into sharp relief. No abandonments, per se, but a recognition that people may retreat into themselves not just now, but also as they get older and the struggle of daily life is harder for us all. So there's less effort to stay in touch.

Amber, your take on Croutongate was deft and extremely perceptive. The thing about boundaries and why I was triggered, was how that weird event felt exactly. Precisely.

Boundaries, how to set and hold them, and what it costs me stress-wise when he fires up his bulldozer (whether intentionally or obliviously) and drives over them, is probably the #1 thing.

I'm going to talk about it all today in couples T. BTW, I have now gotten upset with M THREE times this week. The second time was Saturday, when he suddenly out of the blue made a belittling comment about a poem of mine ("that poem was trendy and au courant"). When I said Please stop talking about my poem, I didn't ask for feedback, he kept saying "I do this for a living." [In hindsight, he might have been trying to be closer to me, as he'd offered feedback I invited him to, previously, and I'd been pleased with his insight. I think it some unconscious way he was trying to kindle that sort of thing--that he'd do a critique as he does all day long with students. Boy did it backfire. Not only was his comment this time unsolicited and supercilious, but he wouldn't stop. That's the core of it. He doesn't stop. So he kept talking about and justifying it and obviously insisting that he force-teach me in that moment .... and I blew up and left.

Later I spent ages writing him to explain why that had upset me so. That poets I know do not offer their work for feedback except voluntarily, and that his refusal to stop holding forth about it when I had asked him to stop....blah blah. And that I do NOT want feedback from him on my writing unless I ask for it, regardless of what he does for a living, etc. That this is a personal and protected space of mine, etc.

Yesterday (event #3) in the car on our outing, again out of the blue, he brings up the poem AGAIN and starts holding forth about it (he's judging it a good poem but was insisting on me hearing his analysis) ... and I blew up and yelled, top of lungs, STOP IT! I've asked you NOT TO DO THIS! Shook me to the core, as when I'm pushed to the breaking point...there it is. I can get angry.

So, bottom line, I think if I need to pick ONE thing that would (probably will) sink us forever or....if miraculously M is able to contain his impulses and respect a boundary when I ask him to.....it's boundaries.

I have reached the end of my rope and plan to explain that to the Sikh today. I'm not going to try to control anything about the session. I'll TRY to keep my descriptions brief of these 3 events, but basically what I've got to say is that I give up. I'm losing hope, I feel I'm/we're failing, and the stress of all this means that although I love M and am grateful for our relationship, I'm thinking we may not be able to get past this issue of respecting boundaries comfortably, without snark or payback. (That's where dominance may also come in. I just can't fathom why, as intelligent as he is, he can't assimilate something I've asked that's important to me, and let it go. He finally did manage to stop poking my daughter-wound, but that took me stress to the point of a stroke--I honestly believe that's why it happened.)

And I'll see what happens. I just want to own my end of it and leave M's to him and to the Sikh. Either I become capable of steady constant assertiveness and boundary guarding without undue stress, or I can't. It may be too much for me.

M is someone who cares about integrity and ethics in his professional and family life. That's genuine. So one small hope may lie in discovering whether or not some of his behavior is compulsive. I think he just doesn't see or hear me half the time, except as a gauzy woman he loves. One thing I may also mention is that the effect of the boundary violations is that in the moment, he always agrees. Certainly. I will do that. I won't do that again.

But I no longer can believe him. That's really it. That may shock or disturb him to hear, but it's the cumulative effect of my experience. He DOES mean it in the moment. But in action, he winds up firing up the bulldozer.

Can you believe I still love him? I do. I write here mostly about our struggles. But he has sweetness and a lot of light in him and a big capacity for joy. I enjoy him 70% of the time. It's just that the obstacles, I think, are coming into much bigger relief and I'm realizing something has to give.

I don't know what is baked in neurologically for him, or even for me, altogether. I don't know if he is able to counter it all, or if I am. It may be as simple as, love isn't enough (I knew that) and behavior is what we live with.

For me, blowing up and yelling in frustration and distress is a major thing. I can't live that way. I won't.

More TK after T, maybe tomorrow.

I am SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO grateful for all of you. I can't even express what a comfort this is. If we need to break up I'll be very sad but I also know I will ultimately be okay.

love and gratitude,
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on June 29, 2020, 04:17:46 PM
I was trembling in T, it was hard to say it all. Had chest pain during. Fingers shook. But I did. The biggest thing being that I am overwhelmed, felt at the end of my rope, and don't trust that when I set a boundary it will be respected. It makes me feel frequently guarded or unsafe, despite love and affection. Also made clear I am not accusing M of malice, just that I do not feel heard or respected when his behavior ignores a boundary I've explained repeatedly and he's agreed to.

M was defensive, replied that he now feels unsafe too and repeated his accusations that I was "ill-mannered" (Croutongate) and a long justification about his opinion of my poem. What he missed was his insistence on delivering his opinion until he is satisfied even while I'm asking him to STOP. I think his may be feeling that pushing out his opinions (enormously rewarding professionally) works the same way at home. He is "right" and "brilliant" and accustomed to never being stopped.

What I couldn't get across was, I need to know I have the RIGHT (regardless of his interest or determination to talk to/at me about something) to say, I need you not to talk about this now. Or, please stop. This is a sensitive area that I don't want to share right now. Or whatever. I mentioned it had happened about my D, in bed, and over smaller boundaries.

T told me that anger is human, and three occurrences in a week mean I'm stressed. He told M that it's important to say "I'm sorry what I said upset you" (M rarely apologizes) and that checking in with me during his monologues would help. M said he needs a string around his finger. Sikh said, I want you to tattoo it on your hand.

I feel very drained and am relieved I won't see M until Thursday.

No idea about the outcome, not very optimistic, but a lot's out on the table anyway. T is away next week so it'll be a while. We'll find out how we do.

I really do think we need a breakthrough or we'll be over. Wasn't expecting it now but I guess things rise when they must.

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Garbanzo on June 29, 2020, 05:08:28 PM
I read you. No advice but I read you.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on June 29, 2020, 05:52:51 PM
M'dear... I hope you forgive yourself being angry. MAYBE M actually heard you that time about the boundary. As unpleasant as it feels to be angry - it's equally unpleasant to have direct requests or boundaries ignored. Bulldozed.I hope he didn't dismiss your genuine feeling of anger. And understand it.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on June 29, 2020, 06:32:05 PM
Thanks, (((((G)))))).
That's deeply kind, to tell me you hear.
I appreciate it and it's valuable. You are.

(((((Amber)))))
Thank you. You and a friend I called said the same, and I think after an hour's distress, I got it. I do forgive myself for getting angry. Sikh told me to understand the experience of anger FEELS bad, but it does not mean I AM bad. Aha. Ahahaaa.

I think I'll be okay. I'm much calmer now, even contemplating my capability to end this if I need to. But. We don't have another T session for two weeks, and I'm not going to pull the plug instantly.

I just recognize now that I can if I need to (iow, if I didn't get through to him). I'll find out. And probably pretty soon.

Many thanks again,
Hops

PS--No, he didn't seem to validate or understand my anger. Just focused on how in Croutongate, I'd been "ill-mannered." I think that's the explanation he'll retreat to, but am totally willing to be pleasantly surprised.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on June 29, 2020, 07:06:45 PM
So you took the forks back from the zombies and M stopped being so prim and proper and bent on SAYING "the right thing" all the time.  He spoke his truth, IME.  Refreshing if one is sick of hearing him parrot what is expected of him, when he doesn't understand it fully, IMO.  I don't know he understands how difficult a concept it IS to self reflect, consistently, check in with his partner, consistently, and STOP, when he's used to bulldozing through, no matter what. 

I see this as progress.  Things are getting real, and that's OK.  I hope you don't feel you have to forgive yourself, Hops.  You're human.  Your anger was self protection, and you have a duty to protect yourself.  The T said so. 

::nod::

It's likely things will take unexpected twists and turns over the next 2 weeks, IME. 

Try to drop expectation, get your nose off the crouton, and see the entire field,  Hops. 

Even if it's not OK....
it's OK.   

Lighter

Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on June 29, 2020, 07:38:32 PM
Thanks, ((((Lighter)))).

For this:

Quote
get your nose off the crouton

...you win my heart!

I loooove a consistent theme, and you're right!

Speechless. Delighted.
Hoping I won't get too stuck on future croutons!

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: CB123 on June 29, 2020, 07:42:34 PM
Crouton gate is absolutely my favorite.

You've got this, Hops. I've had my share of screaming anger, and I must say it brought clarity to me at the time. Not sorry.

Love,
CB
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on June 29, 2020, 07:51:31 PM
Thanks, ((((((CB)))))) hon!

You're right. Even though it felt like an attack from parasitic Martians living in my spinal cord, that sudden fury (times three) this week really did bring clarity.

Reality is still my friend and I think my inner self rose up and smacked me upside-a da head.

Not pleasant, but ultimately it was probably a gift. Not probably. Really.

Q: When does life stop being a f***ing learning experience?
A: Never.

Hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on June 30, 2020, 12:43:19 AM
OH PLEASE...  if we ever stop learning, just shoot me, OK?

Who'd a thunk my biggest challenge was just accepting being happy & loved & protected?
Pleasurable evening here. I have everything my little heart desires. Well, OK, maybe a saner economy would ease my OCD brain... but really, I have no complaints.

I have total faith in you Hops. You're going to find the right place to put your toes on the path... and walk it as you choose. You can DO THIS. Whatever comes. I KNOW you can.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on June 30, 2020, 10:34:56 AM
Aw, Hops.  I can understand that you love him and I really wish/hope that he can do something about his monologues and respecting your boundaries, because it does sound as if those bits are the sticking points and it's a shame he's not been able to get on top of that by now.  I suspect that at least if there were a bit of progress in those areas that you wouldn't feel quite so upset by it now (and you have every right to feel upset, by the way).

I think anger can be a good thing and I don't think women do it often enough.  For me it's always when my boundaries are transgressed and boy, how many times have I swallowed that down and just put up with someone talking over me, patronising me, ignoring what I say, feeling me up or whatever else.  I remember saying to a therapist once that I wanted to live a life without fear and he said that was dangerous; fear is your warning system, it's there to keep you safe.  I feel anger is the bedfellow of fear; it comes up when we aren't being heard and that can be dangerous.  So I'm glad you've forgiven yourself for feeling that way.  I don't think it was a bad thing.

FWIW my son does that having to finish what he's saying thing and with him, it is neurological.  I can manage it with him because he's my son so I don't expect him to meet any of my needs.  I wouldn't feel the same about that trait in a partner (and I only mention it because I know how tiring it is to listen to something that you don't want to, or even that you might want to but not right now).

I'm glad the lovely T is so helpful.  He really does sound like a good find.  I hope you are doing okay.  I'm glad the cleaning lady is coming this week - appropriate self care!  That's a good thing xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on June 30, 2020, 11:23:25 AM
Thanks for the faith, Amber.
From someone as strong as you, that's hopeful.
I really appreciate that.

Tupp, I think there surely is a neurological component about
some of the rituals and some of the obliviousness.

An additional cause might be Nism a lot more profound
than I'd allowed myself to consider, but I can't/shouldn't try to
diagnose. N-ISH stuff I can handle in some degree. The whole
enchilada, IF that's what this is, I probably can't and shouldn't.

A way some of the behavioral stuff unmoors me and creates
anxiety and stress is that I've come to face that M having made a
promise or an agreement or a commitment about a boundary I'd taken
care to explain was v. important to me--doesn't really mean anything.
He'll break it or push against it or toy with it whenever he wants.

Instead of judging him for it, because I may not fully understand why
he does this...I just need to take care of myself. Evidently, I have a
breaking point and I don't want to visit it again if I can help it.

The ground doesn't feel very firm beneath my feet right now, but I'll
be okay. I'll be seeing him Thursday morning and perhaps on Saturday.
Curious to see how it will go.

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on June 30, 2020, 05:57:11 PM
Blundered across this guy,
and though I'd maybe enjoy him
a couple times/day, not for long....

Still. Something about what he says
feels empowering.

Wonder what y'all think?

https://markmanson.net/self-awareness (https://markmanson.net/self-awareness)

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on July 01, 2020, 01:42:08 AM
::Erasing post I've worked on and off on today::.

This guys just said what I was trying to say and a whole lot more.

He didn't refer to crouton gate, but he was:

Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on July 01, 2020, 01:49:51 AM
::Erasing post I've worked on several times today::.

This guy just said what I felt was important to say, and a whole lot more.

He didn't refer to crouton gate, but he made me laugh, which I enjoyed more than editing down my super long, super earnest post, over and over again. 

Thank God you shared that, Hops.
Lighter





Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on July 01, 2020, 06:26:07 AM
I know it's early yet, but I wondered how you're feeling now Hops?

Anything morph, transform or dissipate yet?
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on July 01, 2020, 11:40:00 AM
Thanks for checking, Amber.
Well, the truth is I spent many hours recently watching the Surviving Narcissism series on YouTube, a Dr. Les Carter. He's a Christian counselor in Texas which normally would send me screaming (the last time I trusted a Christian counselor he practically shoved me into a disastrous marriage since he was so uncomfortable about my single sex life). BUT...Carter seems kind and rational and quite knowledgeable. Doesn't mention his religion (I googled him). He's got a narcissism-counselor industry going on, and there are lots of crappy ones. Still, I'm inclined to trust him. Would love to know what y'all think. His videos are basic and not long.

It's easier to think of M as Carter refers to it...having "highly narcissistic traits" rather than dubbing him "NPD" which isn't appropriate to do to anyone if you're not a professional, I suppose (unless that person is a powerful famous example who's trying to destroy the country, should there be anybody like that in the news).

Anyway. Although I'm seeing M tomorrow and Saturday, the truth is I've been thinking pretty calmly that this relationship is winding down (for me). M just sweetened up again (of course) and is sending charming messages, little offers to do this or that. The love-bombing begins. I remember clearly the cycle: Love-Bomb, Devalue, Discard. I don't think M would discard me as he's pessimistic about finding a new partner and always says I'm THE one, etc. But I might be wrong. He might get right out there again.

If we do get to the denouement, it's not going to be fun, and I sure won't race out there again. How would you date with masks on, anyway? LOL. But eventually.

Although I'd be pleased and amazed to see sudden self-awareness or apologies or insight from M, I'm truly not expecting any of that. Last couple of days after a few talks with friends, I've found myself thinking about being on my own again pretty calmly. And unless there is some astonishing turnabout from M, or some serious accountability for his contributions to the distress....then I don't want to live with or marry this man. And because of how N-ish people classically react to breakups, if I get to that decision, it would be better to make a clean complete break, rather than a wobbly "let's be friends" compromise. Everything I've read or watched suggests that an N-ish person will absolutely exhaust you with maneuvers and strategems to get your attention back or restart things at the level they want them to be.

I'm a little stunned but also relieved that I'm thinking clearly for a change. I think the subliminal constant stress of M's personality (much of which he cannot help) has contributed to brain fog in me. I can feel that diminishing just at the idea of moving on, even though I haven't stepped across the bright decision line quite yet.

I think CB was onto something when she said the times she erupted in anger gave her clarity. It doesn't make my lack of adequate assertiveness M's fault, nor is it his fault I didn't have a mature response in the moment, but I do feel as though a large industrial fan has blown through my head.

Good boundary-tending is intentional and sometimes difficult work even in the most ordinary of situations. With a bullish, obsessive, brilliant and competitive personality like M's, it may just be too advanced for me. It's not worth my serenity or my health, even if I do wind up in a crap nursing home (very likely, unless I manage to off myself peacefully first when I'm 89). I think I'd be better off with someone who's mellower. Buck's lazy twin brother.

I'll talk to my own T this afternoon, too. That will help.

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on July 01, 2020, 12:23:13 PM
Seriously, people.
This is very important.
I too can be obsessive.

The thing is, I cringe to inform you,
Croutongate is ONE word.

We shall royally grant you the option of
whether or not to capitalize it, like Watergate.
We are kind that way. It's a royal trait.

[I actually just emailed the guy with the funny
intersting website to explain that he had a line
in the Three Levels of Self Awareness article where
he goes, What are your ticks? I could not rest. I
HAD to tell him ticks are bloodsuckers but he
meant tics (twitches). I tried to be funny. But now
you see the compulsive editoritis, embarrassingly.]

We perhaps have better things to do, such as remove
some of the acres of horizontal-surfaces clutter and mess
that Must Be Gone by 9am or all is lost when the palace maid
comes, because she won't be able to do anything other than
push around the little animals that are all over the floors. These
are the result of an unplanned breeding experiment between
dog hair clumps and dust bunnies. We have probably tried that
little witticism here before but prefer to disavow Our senility.

I love you guys.

Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: CB123 on July 01, 2020, 01:00:47 PM
Definitely a needed correction! Croutongate it is (although I personally would have preferred Tofugate since, if they had been actual croutons, your response would have been unimpeachable!) (See what I did there?)

CB

Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on July 01, 2020, 01:39:02 PM
I doooooo see what you did there! LOL!

I really miss my VESMB emoticons.

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on July 01, 2020, 03:58:35 PM
The royal proclamation has been heard!

Further attention to flat surfaces will be promptly accomplished for the sake of their calming "space". (And hiding the "evidence" of things we know aren't really - but MIGHT BE important - should the laser focus return to cull the wheat from the chaff.

ROTFLMBO Hops... this is a good sign. As is your calm contemplation of alternatives to continuing to struggle with this. I still believe you can find your best path forward for you.

Now, time to hunt dust wabbits!!
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on July 01, 2020, 04:25:01 PM
Yeeeeee, Hops.  You're so much more relaxed... just, more you again.

Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on July 01, 2020, 05:09:47 PM
Thanks, Lighter!

Amber...waaaay back on Sept. 25th, you wrote this (and occasionally something similar):

Quote
I saw some disturbing patterns emerging in your recent description. Disturbing for me; if I was in your shoes. I'm not going to go into them because you seem to be trying sort out the "why" or reason behind them yourself; quite well actually. That reason will be damned important going forward.

Do you feel ready/able to tell me more about that? I'd appreciate it.

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on July 02, 2020, 11:17:43 AM
I mighta just been a pompous, defensive, ass saying something like that. And tired of getting crucified (as it so often occurs around here at the farm) for my simple observations or personal opinion. Even after it's been solicited. I've gotten pretty good at saying something, without "saying" anything.

But I believe (without looking back at what was going on) that you were already struggling with him talking over you; just ignoring your requests; doing what you'd already explained you didn't want or didn't like. And apart from melodramatically slapping him (a la old fashioned romance novels) I was pretty sure that you weren't going to be able to get his attention long enough for him to realize that these things are REALLY IMPORTANT to you - and no one can say they should or shouldn't be. And realize that wanting you to be happy enough to be with him - he might need to incorporate your wishes into how he behaves with you. (And why, o universe, don't some people already have that instinct??)

And you're so patient Hops; you kept trying till you cracked. Giving him chance after chance.

I think I was wanting to say - you shouldn't have to work THIS HARD on the little things. And that perhaps these little things are simply inherent incompatibility that no amount of therapy will overcome. If that appreciation for you - and respect for how you want to interact with people, including him, isn't there now - I just don't think that's teachable.

All these months later, you're still struggling with this. I dunno about you, but I don't want to have to retrain, housebreak a man just to be able get along on a daily basis. And the romance and attraction dissipate, if I end up with a custom-trained "pet on a leash"... instead of a man, who's free and already compatible with my quirks... and wants to be with ME, without trying to do exactly the same thing - re-educate me, train me to suit him. When do you get to the actual living and being with each other part? Enjoying yourselves? Together?

It absolutely pains me, to say this by the way. You DESERVE someone who cares enough to freely give you what you need & want from your partner sometimes, and not always expect you to be the person giving; bending; meeting his needs/wants. A relationship language shouldn't feel like an "acquired skill". Or performance metrics. Or constant critiques or analysis.

And like I said - this is through my rose-colored glasses of what I want in a relationship. Other people can make other kinds of decisions, for more practical reasons. That's their perogative and I can't judge that. And even when security was high on my list of wants from a relationship, it didn't outweigh this basic compatibility between personalities. For me.

And I just caught it - Sept 25th was Mike's & my wedding anniversary date. Not that it means anything in this context.

I dunno Hops. Perhaps I've been exceedingly lucky (or deluded! always possible) and am just a crazy old romantic. Love and relationships do require some work - from time to time. But that shouldn't be the daily existence experience. After all I've lived through, I don't want to have to work that hard. Either all that is there at the get-go, or is quickly agreed to and maintained... no sweat... or it's not. And it DOES happen that one falls in love with a person who's just naturally compatible.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on July 02, 2020, 06:21:11 PM
I cannot thank you enough for this caring straight talk, Amber.

Literally cannot because I was just out in a friend's mountain
back yard drinking...a fair amount of....lovely wine.

When my eyes uncross I will write more on this, but again, I
so appreciate your perspective. A lot. Nothing unkind about it.
Just the facts, ma'am. (Pompous? NO!)

No forced decision but I sure do have ease around the idea of
letting things take a different course. We'll see how that weathers.

Gratefully,
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on July 02, 2020, 07:05:36 PM
Pro tip: take an ibuprofen before bed.  ;)
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on July 03, 2020, 01:12:45 PM
Hops:

I see this time as dyin time.... for M to GET SOMETHING out of his personal T sessions, or not.  The couples's T can point him in a direction,  but he's not able to DO THE WORK with him.  I see your work with the T as help pointing out sign posts.  Identifying things, with help, and a controlled safe space for you to say what you can't say with M.... on your own.  You're doing that.  It's successful in that you've gained plenty of information, shared information and set goals M can reach or NOT reach.  You're close to figuring this thing out, bc everyone is finally laying their cards on the table, IME.  That's all information everyone needs to reach important conclusions. 

If I had to guess about what M talks to his T about, it's stuff like how he  feeeeeeels  about living with a mate who isn't as affectionate, available, happy to BE in his sunlight..... than he'd prefer. 

How he deals with his frustrations, fears and heartbreak, for surely there's pain and heartbreak involved.  Suffering. 

I don't know if his T is correctly gathering information, gleaned from shared T sessions, as to what's at the root of the problems, rather than faffing about with his frustration over the symptoms.

At some point, it might be good for the Ts to have a little chat, IME and sooner than later. 

In my world, Ts speak to each other and share information, bc there are goals to understanding what's going on.  That might not be the case with this kind of situation, but I have to wonder why not, be that the case.

I hope your entire day goes well. 

::thinking of you::

Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on July 03, 2020, 02:25:39 PM
Ibuprofen took, Amber. And it helped!
What comforted me about your post was how direct it was, and how you really acknowledged how hard I tried (not being the angel and him the debbil, but how very hard I've worked for quite a while in hopes of a breakthrough). IF (still not at final decision!) I do decide to bless 'im and let 'im go, your take gives me dignity and calm about it. I feel understood, big time.

I very much do not want to villainize him. I just think I'm at this basic place (well, good luck guys, what I of course mean by that is the insight o' the day, which could change tomorrow....you all are SOOOOOO PATIENT...... Two things:

1) I've come to think that neurologically, the H in ADHD is driving a lot of M's behavior, chiefly the compulsive talking over, talking nonstop, inability to listen. I read up recently on the H in ADHD and turns out, compulsive talking is a common symptom. That tilts toward the issue not being all about Nism, but a condition. I don't really care to drill into how his brain works further because it's not my place and not my job. And the prospect is exhausting, unless HE took it on, willingly.

BUT: If I could in Sikh-T next time say what I'm thinking, and just ask if M is open to evaluation and treatment for that specific issue (talking and listening problems), I might hang in a while. That would be amazing. (Expectations dial turning low.)

2) Whether it's about monster N-ego or entitlement or whatever, doesn't matter. BUT the fact that on occasion when pissed, M goes into a cold cerebral negative narrative about my character, which rocks my sense of self, ever again....I'd want out. That behavior simply be something he'd have to OWN, which is extremely difficult for him. I'm kidding myself, most likely. Won't fit his self-image at ALL.
(But too bad. That's his work if he's up to it...and I think chances are looow that under the stimulation of being frustrated or pissed, he'd have the insight to catch and stop himself before he goes to omniscient professor bullshit response/defense.)

On balance, I think realistic pessimism is my most appropriate course. But these two things, and only these...might possibly be reasons not to exit right away.

Thank you, for seeing what I've been doing with such empathy.

Lighter, I thank you too, for a ton of insight and ideas. Really GOOD ones. I think the only place where I flail away a bit is that although I genuinely love your empathy for M's experience (you've been extraordinary about that), I feel that maybe you identify more with his struggle than with mine.

NO foul! You are a fighter, a warrior woman, and deeply interested in how brains and nervous systems work. You are powerful and practiced in strength and power in ways I am not. So it's completely natural that you'd intuitively understand the more driven, powerful personality in this couple most readily. I am very grateful you have!

But, weird as I is -- I really, actually, am about his opposite. A "HSP" (highly sensitive poet) somewhat exhausted by the last decade (or two), and not strong, and weary, and 70. Although I'd love to take on the highly-focused, powerful observational/strategic exercises you suggest...I really don't think I can. I know my limits and mental proclivities. I'm in the FEELING garden, not the brain one.

You awe me, Miz Lighter. I really value your ideas. And please undrestand when occasionally a behavioral or observational template you suggest about M isn't quite in my wheelhouse. I'm working with uber-sensitive underwater currents that are 90% emotional, not scientific or athletic! But I'm grateful every time I read your insights.

YOU are the one who's hauling in the massive tuna that could feed us all. And wow. I'm a little feeder-fish, getting nutrients.

hugs
Hops
 
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on July 03, 2020, 04:31:26 PM
Did you happen to notice me flinch before I launched into being direct, Hops? LOLOLOL.
Way too often lately, I've been asked - nay, it's been demanded of me - that I be that direct and the result was having to take on defensive measures against a direct attack on me - for doing as I was bid. (The damned if you do/don't... double bind situation.)

I think after some of the things I've experienced I've developed an allergy - at least a sensitivity - to that phenomenon of running around in circles of criticism - disappointment - shouldering the work in a relationship without reciprocity. So I recognize that pattern more easily.

Doesn't mean either of you are flawed in any way; just that you're trying too hard to make something work that will always need that level of effort. Then, the question is, if both of you have the energy for it - and ultimately, want that for some reason. Hey - some people DO; whatever floats their boat. I won't try to change them.

That's just not for me anymore. ;)

Glad the ibuprofen helped! SOMETIMES ya just gotta let the inhibitions drop and hold forth.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on July 03, 2020, 06:05:12 PM
I have compassion for your side, Hops.  If there's any way for you to enjoy this man, and the safety and companionship of shared life with him....
then....
I say find out if it's possible with economy of motion and keep moving, whichever choice you make.

No regrets. 
No wondering if there's an overlooked pebble left on the field.


Hear Ye, Hear Ye

Today let it be known Friend Lighter has Friend Hops' interests in mind, ONLY, regarding Subject M's possibible ability to cultivate self-awareness and to self reflect for the sole and strict purposes of being a more balanced and joyful companion for Friend Hops.

Lighter cares not at all for Subject M's ability to get his nose off the damned crouton IF it doesn't serve Friend Hops.   

So sayeth Friend Lighter.
Amen or...
::possibly genuflecting::

 



Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on July 03, 2020, 07:12:00 PM
Thanks, ((((Lighter)))))!

There may be an overlooked pebble,
and I have found the only two that I can make out (latest post on Relationship).

I accept I have hit my own wall and am relieved to back away from analysing.
I'll point out the two things I can, if I can get them out, and then releeeeeeeease.

Do not want to be vigilant about where he is in his growth process or what he's ready or not ready to do or try or think. It's taken all I got to do/try/think all I have for the last year and a half.

At this point in my life, that's not my primary work. That is instead, about me. My writing, my peace, my purpose. I really have accepted it might be better to be on my own.

So the rest is just be honest, state what I believe, and accept whatever he does or doesn't do about it. He has a right to his own limits too.

Still love the person. He just may not be my mate. And that's okay if that's how this turns out.

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on July 03, 2020, 10:06:07 PM
Sounds reasonable, (((Hops.)))

All you can do is SEE what's there, accept it, and take care of yourself, which I think you're doing an amazing job of.

Dropping expectation might make it easier to SEE. 

Light

Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on July 04, 2020, 07:59:42 AM
I think that's true, Lighter,
that expectations can get in the
way of seeing reality.

As to whether standing up for
myself is fighting...it is for me, ime.
The stress of needing to do so feels
the same. Relaxed assertiveness isn't
fighting but it's hard for me to maintain.

Adrenalin, drama and hyperbole...ooof.

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Garbanzo on July 05, 2020, 03:21:21 AM
Weekend lover only. Space. Slow it down?


Actually I don't know, I'm no expert.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on July 05, 2020, 07:46:25 AM
I've been pondering "relaxed assertiveness" - and what that might feel like Hops.

Best I can come up with is Greta Garbo's famous line - "I vant to be alone". But then, that seems too aloof and I don't get the sense you're aloof or closed off. Maybe some of Cercei's comments in Game of Thrones? (There always seemed to be venomous sarcasm in her lines tho; veiled threats).

I don't think standing up for oneself is fighting either; but sometimes it is the last step before fighting/arguing. The ever-popular (in my mind anyway) third path - is to simply become unavailable/walk away/don't be there. Sometimes that works; sometimes it doesn't and like it or not - one is going fight.

Just to throw even more goodies in our framework for thinking about things... some time ago I got curious about archetypes. And the closest conceptual tradition I've found, is the idea of the Divine Masculine & Feminine. Pretty sure you'll quickly catch on how that idea shows up in various belief systems. And how it's sometimes been misused, too.

But the way that I'm thinking about it, is that all of us have both masculine and feminine characteristics. Where we manifest the divine positivity/creativity or nurturing principles through our being. It's never a static energy either; so that makes it a tad tricky to nail down. Hol & I, I know for a fact tend to carry more testosterone hormone in our makeups... and so we often manifest the more masculine principles too. The tomboy phenomenon is the stereotype.
But Artemis, is the archetype.

That's all preamble to simply saying: I think "RELAXED assertiveness" might be considered a masculine (in the non-sexual definition) characteristic. And it comes from an inner confidence (maybe) that one can physically back up the intent behind the assertiveness. This theory is still all speculative; I haven't studied it IRL - anecdotally - enough to see how people actually manifest this.

There is an argument however, for assigning that phrase, to the feminine side too. An old cliche is that women hold all the "power" in relationships - and the reasons given are all over the map. So, again... that would be a self-confidence based in knowledge (secret or admitted) of ability.

I dunno... those are just some of the thoughts floating around in my busy noggin these days. I offer this as maybe another way to think about what you're experiencing... and we all know, maybe it fits and maybe it doesn't.  The words, "relaxed assertiveness", just struck a "feeling" chord here... I know how it feels, but I don't have enough experience of it, to date, to KNOW it well.

ugh..... rambling again.... LOL.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on July 05, 2020, 09:15:40 AM
Thanks, Amber. I really like your rambles!

It's funny, though. I let the Sikh know early on that I (because: me, that's all -- personal history) felt quite uncomfortable with most religious language, and that included him talking about the divine in everyone. He was perfectly fine with that. Then later as he began talking about how this would happen because I'm a woman or that would happen because M is a man...I piped up that I really hate stereotypes that explain what's happening between people in gendered terms. And he was perfectly fine with that, although he said nope, he does see couples with these dynamics from his experience. (But he refers to gender-based explanations less now.)

So funny. I really like him a lot. And by the time I was done telling him what kind of vocabulary didn't freak me out (male privilege and male spiritual authority and all) -- it's a miracle (ha) we connect so well!

At the end of our last session when M delivered a condescending little list of adjectives that described my Croutongate behavior (two were "ill-mannered" and "petulant") the Sikh looked sad. I think that was a moment when he saw the other side of M and he felt discouraged about our chances.

But I'm still open, just feeling pretty good about observing and thinking and listening to myself until whatever needs to happen happens. Including in me. I can feel myself searching and processing, and that's okay. It'll take the time it takes.

Y'all have gotten me through the most difficult part already, with your incredible listening. THANK YOU.

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on July 05, 2020, 09:27:01 AM
PS M's coming for dinner and I'm looking forward to it. Then again, my shoulders tense up a little. I think it's because his mood can vary and the hyper-factor he'll bring (he's cooking the cod here) if it's on crank, is not fun.

But so far I'm feeling mellow and still enjoying my cleaaaaan house. Pooch will be thrilled to see him.

If I decide to end the relationship (it's still IF), G, I think it's likely (if he is "AN N" as opposed to having strong N-ish traits) that there'd be a lot of emotional blowback from him, so hanging out or shifting to just friends would be difficult.

I still have the goal of remarrying and sharing life with someone. I know love is possible WITH compatibility. So for me, it's now just about seeing if M responds to the change in me with real change/insight himself. I'm not pushing for it any more. It'd have to be voluntary and persistent on his side, and given the intractibility of his nature, I think that's a tall order.

We'll find out. It's going to take time, I just don't know if that's two weeks or two months or two years. I'll know when I know. (I'm 80% there as it is now.)

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on July 06, 2020, 02:37:51 AM
Response to Lighter from Tupp's thread:

I'm unsure of M's understanding too, but I am leaving that effort or capability up to him. I don't control it. I am looking directly at asking for what I want whether or not he is capable, and releasing the outcome. I don't expect he will get it immediately (or perhaps at all) but it is where I am and where I have finally become clear.

I will not demand he change his personality, because he can't. Saying what I need to say is enough. What happens after is up to him. I'll tell my two things:

1) I will spell out what the constant overtalking does, and the food obsession (they often merge), and how I can't imagine a lifetime relationship with so much chronic stress, because that's how I feel around it. (The food thing is secondary to the talking behavior, and perhaps should be saved for a later session with Sikh.) It doesn't matter whether I should feel a stress response around M, the fact is I do. I notice my shoulders tense when I think about him coming over. I can't change my personality either. We could each modify our tendencies to make the other feel happier, but not uproot our beings.

I have realized lately that I'd gotten quite suppressed in the relationship and felt as though I were losing track of myself. Maybe that's been my own DEpendence, and now I'm trying to rescue myself, not him.

So I'll let him know that clearly, and if he wants to work with his own T or a specialist on the H in ADHD that is likely the primary source of his out of control talking, then that would be a good thing (for him, regardless of whether we stay together). If he were serious about learning about and working on that...that'd be good for me too.

2) I have finally seen the pattern that when he is angry or frustrated, he can become icily cerebral and in a superior tone, goes into a summary of my character with elegant but demeaning descriptions that strike at my self-worth. It's his defense or attack, or both. He's done it just three times but I find it intolerable and have no interest in spending my life with him unless he recognizes it now and stops it now.

Tonight he was feeling depressed and wanted to be cuddled and though I'd been kind and pleasant all evening, I wasn't feeling like cuddling. Frankly, until #2 is resolved (if it even can be), I am not attracted to being physically close. He did a mini-version--something he's said before when I wasn't giving him what he wanted. He said, "You are resistant." I said to what? That implies there's a force or obligation I'm supposed to submit to. I am a free being and make my own choices, and that's an inappropriate thing to say. He backed off and I said I didn't want a distressing conversation about our relationship just before I try to sleep. (Of course, I've been wound up ever since.) He dropped the subject and left, but not before saying I'm going to stay, I don't want to go, making it like a little battle of wills, and I put his stuff together and basically said no, you're not staying. (I'd never sleep with him snoring like a trumpet in the next room, and also felt that he was trying to force me to take care of his emotions in a way that would allow him to avoid them.) He went home calmly, I sent him a sympathetic message about depression and he thanked me for it.

I know he wants to be cuddled and soothed and distracted from his own feelings and I have strong resistance to being in mommy mode. He just thinks I'm being cold but that's not it.

Boy. That little exchange about "You are resistant" holds a LOT. He really does feel empowered to declare who I am with any negative term he wishes. (When he's mad enough to do a whole list, my head starts whooshing and I literally don't recall the list, just the tone.) I am not in a relationship for that, to be seduced or coerced or verbally dominated into doing a man's bidding. I want to be with someone who owns his own shadow side and doesn't project it, and wants to understand his own inner workings.

All together, I think this is a very daunting prospect, that M would do all that deep diving willingly. So I think chances are, after that all sinks in, we'll most likely part.

And I'm okay with whatever happens. I feel clear, and I'm just going to sweep my side of the path.

hugs,
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on July 06, 2020, 08:56:12 AM
I'm constantly amazed at how deep you dive into it all, Hops, soooo many people wouldn't.  And you are such a wordsmith.  You state your case so clearly and concisely each time.  I've one thing I'm curious about as you mention M going through your 'negative' attributes at times - does he do the same with your positive ones at times (personally I see your 'negatives' as positives but I get that's not the way they're being projected by him)?

I hope you're able to work your way through everything from your end, Hops.  I don't like to think of you losing yourself in there and becoming suppressed.  No, no, no.  I'm glad you've got that very good therapist to talk things through with (and the gendered stuff would do my head in as well, particularly as I feel so much of it is constructed by society rather than being related to actual biology.  It may well be the T has seen couples behaving in that way but how much of that is learnt?  And how much of that learning contributes to the problems we see around us?  There's a whole other thread there!  Lol ) xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on July 06, 2020, 11:12:35 AM
Maybe I'm just contrary, but the fastest way for me to lose interest is for a guy to tell me to feel the way he wants me to feel on command.

woof woof... he should just get a dog.

Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on July 06, 2020, 11:51:32 AM
Morning, Tupp--
It sounds so small, one word. But the times he's said it in the past were when he was pressuring me or demanding that I do specific things that he more or less narrated. I need to be attracted, not narrated, if you follow. Or if I wasn't making a commitment promise verbally for marriage or whatever. "You are resistant."

I could cope with disagreement over using a word, if it moved us into conversation in which he was present with me as much as in his own head or agenda. And taking in instead of contradicting what I say. I think that habit goes deep. He says I am doing the same thing (contradicting) when he tells the Sikh, we'd had a wonderful week! And I say, please use the first person because for me, there was a day that was very difficult or painful, etc.

Quote
M going through your 'negative' attributes at times - does he do the same with your positive ones?

He does. It's an odd kind of listing that to me, doesn't feel like affection, but recitation. He's told the Sikh the list several times, and used to repeat it with me a LOT. The positives were kind of, you are: beautiful, intelligent, intricate like a Patek Philippe, literate, sensitive, and that is why I love you and want you in my life. I think he's being sincere and feels that this list explains it all.

Sounds good, right? Or I'm an ingrate? Or I should just purr and hush up because I get the list? The truth is I never enjoyed hearing "the list." It was the same every time and I started feeling like a piece of fine furniture that a salesman would describe the same way. I haven't felt flattered or appreciated with it, no sensation of love or affection coming over me, just mildly uncomfortable. I don't know if it's his delivery or what, and am sure he felt he is being kind to narrate what he judges as my good qualities. I can enjoy a compliment, it's not that...there's just something off about it. (I'm suddenly wondering if that's spectrum stuff. Oh Lord, please don't let me start to diagnose...).

Anyhow, I don't freak out when he's listing positives, of course, who would. BUT, when he lists negatives about me when angry but not admitting he is, there's a difference, I think. Maybe it's a form of passive aggression that I can't tolerate. Or maybe my skin's too thin. Or maybe there really is a pattern of verbal dominance that's exhausting to me. I have a very low tolerance for condescension and being criticized at length. If he would say, there a thing I want to bring up...a particular thing he thinks or observes about me he wants to talk about...then maybe we could and I'd learn something I should about myself. But a whole list of negative characterizations is overwhelming. (Maybe "You are resistant" is one? Because in truth, right now I AM resistant to sliding back into doing what he wants because we haven't resolved that devastating last session, or haven't resolved it enough for me to feel at ease, and I don't know how to cuddle and act as though I'm feeling really romantic when I don't).

Amazingly, we just had a good conversation the phone. I don't think we understand each other, but it's obvious we both care about our relationship. He is currently depressed over the pandemic, not being able to travel or fly (he is accustomed to mannny trips a year), and all the rest. He was also sad because today would be his mother's 100th birthday so he had a sad conversation with his sister and it's just so sad (she's been gone 11 years). What is wrong with me? Dates and timelines just don't move me into melancholy. I'm like a plumber with a calendar. I do notice emotional anniversary reactions but they pass quickly. More likely, it's just a sense of yes, that's when that happened, and I might ponder or feel melancholy for a bit, but then move on. For M, it is tragic, the passing of time. He talks about it a lot, life slipping through his fingers. I get it, we're basically the same age. I just don't like viewing age as tragedy, and maybe a historian has a different take. I get it.

As to understanding each other. I did get out that I am observing that I feel a lot of underlying tension when I'm with him that love doesn't fix. And I'm trying to be present to myself and pay attention. And I hope the Sikh can help us communicate better. And M shared that he feels criticized by me all the time and said "Doubt is destructive." Another theme he mentions a lot is that we'll die soon. So he'd really like us (me) to just hurry up and seize the day and go for it, with our relationship. I understand that point of view but don't share it, because an unhappy life together would be worse than being alone. I do think he's right that I think a lot about everything emotional. He says too much.

Hoo boy. "Doubt is destructive." I could say, "Doubt is protective." The truth is probably in between. He says (thinking it's a huge long time) "We've known each other a year and a half". I say (thinking it's not enough time to really know if our marriage would be wise or happy, given our struggles) "We've known each other a year and a half." I do understand how he's feeling. I don't perceive that he has much of a grasp of how I'm feeling. I think as long as I respond to his forcefield, it's great. But when I doubt, question, balk or dig into stuff, he thinks I'm being bad.

Then again, I felt better after we talked. It was friendly. Nothing really resolved but more honesty on the table. He acknowledged that he's concerned about us too, which is good. I dunno.

I'm going to email the Sikh (nothing detailed, just a sentence) to ask if it's ever possible to do a back to back two-hour session, or to have two in a week, and would he recommend that.

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on July 06, 2020, 12:14:02 PM
Aw, Hops.  You do sound as if you are both on different pages but wanting to be on the same page.  Maybe it's possible.  I tend to hear 'You are resistant' as one of those things women get told when they assert themselves; 'you're difficult, you're aggressive, you don't care about me'.  Likely he doesn't mean it that way (maybe he does) but I think we all have our 'things', don't we, that bother us or grate on us for whatever reason.  I do like that he notices positives as well (I just wondered if he only does the negative listing) but, yes, I get that it's not necessarily a good or a useful thing.  I tend to think actions speak louder than words.  I think I mentioned on here before that I prefer someone making me a cup of tea to someone buying me a bunch of flowers.  One feels (to me) that someone cares about me, the other feels that someone wants to show other people that they care.  Most likely not intentioned in that way but I think that's what's important, isn't it - being able to speak your truth and have it accepted and being able to hear someone else's truth and accept theirs as well.  It's so complicated.

Definitely no to the purring and hushing up.  I can't imagine our Hops purring and keeping quiet!  Who would that strange creature be?  Lol.  Not thin skinned, to my mind.  There is a difference between, "this is bothering me, can we have a talk about it later?" and someone listing what they see as your faults.  It would bother me as well.  And yes, I get the not being moved by dates thing.  I'm always aware of dates - my mum's birthday is etched on my brain, as is my dad's and the anniversary of his death.  I'm quite into my own little rituals around my dad's death.  If I'm in the right part of the country I go to the place that his ashes are scattered and just sit there.  I do feel close to him there, not least because I know he lived round there when he was young and I can imagine him running around and playing.  My sister never gives it a second thought.  We're all different, aren't we?  And yep, I can understand the 'life is slipping away' thing but I'm like you, alone rather than together and unhappy.  My guess is you are much more ready to accept the possibility of being alone than M is?  I do hope you can find some sort of middle ground somewhere.  Whatever happens, no-one can say you've not put the time and effort in to this!  You deserve happiness, so, so much xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on July 06, 2020, 12:53:34 PM
I also brought up my thinking that there are layers of compatibility, and I think we're (I'm) just discovering more about ways we are maybe NOT compatible, and that learning to really communicate well is the only way I see that we could offset those differences. Or something like that. Lord knows, I might be pissing into the wind.

But I promised myself to give it a little more time, so I am.

Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on July 06, 2020, 01:35:50 PM
Thank you, (((((((((Tupp))))))))).

I feel very understood and regarded so kindly.

That makes a huge difference. So now I'll let it go for
a bit, haul nose back out of navel, and enjoy a
lovely day on my own!

Sun's blazing outside but Pooch and I are cool
and calm, house is still clean (imagine!) and I am
back to my favorite emotion.

GRATEFULLY,
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: CB123 on July 06, 2020, 03:15:31 PM
Hops,
I love that cool clean house feeling. My oldest daughter still remembers it, too, since we cleaned together when she was home. We speak of it to each other with a kinda knowing look. I dont know that everyone describes it that way. She even remembers the years when I had a once a month house cleaner who came and just gussied everything up while I took all six kids to a museum or park. The sensation of coming into the house with EVERYTHING clean at once and that cool feeling of no little sweaty bodies running through the living room....!!

I had a moment when you described M's recitation of your positive traits. My ex did that and it became a bit of a stab after awhile. The list never varied, they always came in a list together, and were usually recited to someone else ABOUT me. (My M, as a contrast, would exclaim delightedly about something when I was doing it  and it was directly related to what we were doing at the time. For example, on trips I would read to him--whole chapter books and it so delighted him that he kept the books to remember them.) My ex's behavior was obvious enough that even my older kids as adults were aware of it and flinched as well. It's definitely a thing, Hops, so don't discount it.

I can't speak to your M's, but in my ex's case, I finally decided that he didnt really feel things in a genuine way. He knew he should. He knew what the right behavior was but I don't think he could genuinely FEEL it. It was almost like he was thinking on some level: I am married to her and in this context, I should say this. And then he would drag it out again. I think most of his genuine feelings centered on possession of me, and he could be angry if that wasnt honored properly. Of course, we had a whole canon of Scripture that he could use as ammunition, and did. He didn't use "resistant", but rather "unsubmissive".

The thing that I had the most trouble with in counseling (and we did a lot) was that the counselor did as they were supposed to and tried to help us see each other's point of view. Most of ex's point of view was that I didn't cooperate with various things he wanted from me. So from the counselors vantage point, it would help if I would cooperate more, and then ex could reciprocate with something I wanted. Sounds like you have dodged that bullet with Sikh, at least.

I get the part about dates as well. I can usually be very nostalgic about such things, IF I remember on the date, and hardly ever do. It sounds like when thinking of aging, both of you have worries, but maybe they don't mesh? I know you are worried about financial security, but I'm guessing that's not his worry at all. Are you clear about what he's thinking when he says that you dont have many years left? Is he worried about one of you becoming ill or incapacitated and having to be a caretaker for those end of life years? Do you have any sense that he would be a tender caretaker to you, if it came to that? I know that you would be to him, if you made that commitment. You were incredibly patient with your mom--I remember--and I don't think he should worry on that account. Have you ever reassured him of that?

Some people are just nostalgic. My ex's family was like that, and they had a hard time leaving at the end of a visit as well. You had to allow a LOT of time for goodbyes, and remembering one last thing to tell us, or something in the car that they had forgotten to give us. It was like the leaving was terribly painful, even if we would see them again quite soon. I noticed as ex got older, he became more like that. Maybe it's that sense that no visit is perfect and wanting to re do it until you can leave without regret.

I'm glad you are just taking the time to think it through. I learned to do that with M--we definitely had arguments, and fiery ones, and we actually would tease each other with them after and we could literally be crying laughing about it. But one thing I did with him was just say my piece and see what he did with it. Sometimes he would really adjust and he NEVER forgot, even things that I didn't remember. But some things, important things, he just didn't/couldn't. I had turned into such a nag by the end of my marriage that I just refused to reprise that role. After we had talked about it a couple of times, I put it down. Some things I had to put down ended up being deal breakers. I think that the reason we are still close is because I put them down and we didnt go out in a ball of fire. I just put them down and they ended us as a couple.

Anyway, that's just storytelling because I want to stay in the realm of what I know and not presume to give more.  You know your situation and won't be like mine, but if I tell you some of my story maybe you will know you are not alone. I remember that I definitely felt like, with ex, that I spent far too much time functioning as "mommy", tending feelings etc. With M, I never felt that way. I found sexual feelings are directly related to how much/little you have to "mommy". I used to ask my ex if he thought that whining was part of foreplay.

Well. So if anyone is stalking, they just got an earful!

Love,
CB



Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on July 06, 2020, 03:45:26 PM
Maybe the stalkers will learn something.

No sense worrying about what they think,IME.

Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on July 06, 2020, 04:48:29 PM
Ahhh, CB, I'm so grateful for your reply. Thank you.

Quote
M's recitation of your positive traits. My ex did that.... The list never varied, they always came in a list together, and were usually recited to someone else ABOUT me.

This is often true, although periodically during the earlier part of our relationship he'd recite it to me often, and still dusts it off now and then. I feel as though the purpose is like "reminding himself of the relationship rationale" or something.

 (My M...would exclaim delightedly about something when I was doing it

That sounds like the difference between present-ness and professor-ness. Sigh

....we had a whole canon of Scripture that he could use as ammunition, and did. He didn't use "resistant", but rather "unsubmissive".

To me "resistant" is a LOT like "unsubmissive", which is why I dislike it. A lot.

Are you clear about what he's thinking when he says that you dont have many years left? Is he worried about one of you becoming ill or incapacitated and having to be a caretaker for those end of life years? Do you have any sense that he would be a tender caretaker to you, if it came to that? I know that you would be to him, if you made that commitment. You were incredibly patient with your mom--I remember--and I don't think he should worry on that account. Have you ever reassured him of that?

I think he feels panic over aging and losing his power and prestige, both of which are huge motivations. I don't think he's specifically worried about illness. Likewise caretakers. With his millions he could hire any help he needed. And, I think if he were unpartnered and really debilitated he'd move to California where his sons and their families would be very dutiful and attentive. Of course, if we were married I'd be very compassionate and dedicated to his well being sickness or health. I do not have the same sense he'd be a tender caretaker to me, it's not what he's good at (empathy or presentness). He'd be very responsible about hiring whatever help I needed. It would just be protection from neglect, and living somewhere pleasant. That's not nothing.

I used to ask my ex if he thought that whining was part of foreplay.

My M is a world-class whiner. He literally whines--it's a high babyish sound--moans like a hurt puppy, heaves huge sighs, and when that doesn't produce pats and cuddles, says something critical. "You're resistant" was just last night in that same situation. Huge turn-off. I am viscerally uninterested in mommying a grown man. I CAN love a grown man like an equal, loving and very affectionate partner. But I've been there and done that with one-way noticing and presentness. (When I did it for work, I was kind, patient to all and absorbed a bit of nastiness from the old gent, daily. He was impatient and ungrateful but we understood our relationship. In a love relationship, I'm not eager to sign up for that behavior. I'm very tender and forgiving when someone's in pain or afraid. But his whiiiiining, ugh.

CB, I really needed this. Your stories about our overlaps are soooooooooo helpful. I do think I can read the writing on the wall. Just going at it one line at a time. Thank  you so very much.

Gratefully,
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on July 12, 2020, 11:29:28 AM
I'm 90% decided that I need to end the relationship in our T session with the Sikh tomorrow.

It's still very hard. There will be pain and loss and fear of future. But I have been absorbing a ton of reviewing what Nism is, how drawn to it and comfortable I feel with it at FIRST. (And started re-reading our early, romantic correspondence which, on reflection, was absorbing at first -- we both dazzled with literacy and verbal pyrotechnics -- but actually draining and false-feeling later.) I don't doubt at all that M was sincere, but it was all so grandiose and high-flown.

What's really brought me to the breaking point is the ongoing stress of being with someone who, however well intentioned, simply CANNOT listen and simply MUST talk nonstop and simply CANNOT not-instruct/force-teach. Because it really is the only language or behavior he can do.

Therefore, I would have to simply "put down", as CB says, any hope of being known at a deeper level, or feeling a harmonious intimacy. M THOUGHT we were intimate soulmates from an early point, but that was mostly his flights of hyperbole. I responded in kind at first, but as our year went on, I realize I was feeling less and less romantically interested, and morphing into companionship, which has been comforting at times, but inevitably led to considering how we actually ARE as partners.

How I am is suppressed, frustrated and stressed. He just doesn't feel stuff or feel it in a way that changes him. And so be it, he's not going to have a personality transplant at this age, and neither am I. I've come to the sad realization that living with or marrying him would tax me to the core. Not because he's BAD, just because he is the way he is.

We had a stupid power struggle over who was going to program my new streaming system (had to buy an upgrade so we could watch Hamilton). He immediately wanted to take over "I'll do it" not "Would you like me to do it?". I said very clearly and more than once, I appreciate that you could do it, but I want to work through it myself because that builds competence. He kept barking instructions at me, and I repeated and repeated and repeated -- Could you just sit quietly and pat Pooch? I'm working with two remotes and two pairs of glasses (one for reading instructions off TV screen, one for the booklet, etc) so concentration's really difficult. Please, please, stop instructing me, stope telling me what to do, I can see the instructions and I will work through it, maybe just more slowly than you would.

NOTHING worked. He could not/would not stop barking orders, reading things off the screen loudly that added to my stress in concentrating. I must have begged him 10 times to stop talking at me and be quiet so I could think, and he literally could not do it. At one point I said what's so hard is that you can't control yourself. (Meaning his talking.) I persisted and got it all done but the experience was soooooooo stressful that I was drained and literally sweating. At the dinner table, I just said, that was extremely stressful. He just looked blank.

So I picture trying to share ordinary things in a shared home. I just can't. It doesn't matter what the event or task is...he Must Be In Charge. There's no harmonious teamwork. To this day it's a struggle to negotiate something as simple as whether I can carry dishes to the counter. Everything's a struggle for control.

I don't think M intends or wants to be this way but whether it's his OCDish or Nish or ADHDish issues....they add up to me feeling that I would be fighting to just be present, to take up space, to have enough oxygen. And I am Nish too at times, and super super sensitive, and introverted in a way, and just too easily drained by a personality as powerful as his.

That's just it. As much as I dread loneliness returning, and anxiety returning, and a quarantined winter alone coming up...I dread the petty power struggles and sometime putdowns (when he's mad, which he never owns, and gives a freezing cold condescending narrative of what's wrong with my character) more.

I think marrying or living with him would damage my health. And I guess that's the bottom line.

Another thing--I asked M if on occasion when it might really help, would he consider a 2-hour session or two sessions in one week? Because I think now is a time it might help us. He said that would be excessive and too much and...No. I asked because I am at that cracking point and he senses it, I think, and does not want to go deeper, to be in touch or work with with his feelings (much less mine) and resents the probing that highlights his own issues, and so forth. What I thought about later was just--he can concentrate passionately 8 hours a day on his scholarship. But me asking for an additional hour of T in one week, only in crisis, was "too much." During the call later, M said: Too much thinking! Too much talking! You have to Seize the Day! We'll be dead soon! etc....

At the end of our last session the Sikh asked, Hops, is one of your biggest concerns that your boundaries are not respected? I said Yes from my depths. And yet a week later M simply cannot or won't respect a basic request that he stop talking at me during the electronics setup I was doing. It felt HORRIBLE, but was also such a clear sign that no amount of discussion in T or suggestions from the T can penetrate the rigidity of his dominating behavior. It truly probably is out of his control, and if that's so I feel badly for him. But I think it contributed to my stroke in the past and could contribute to worse (because I am made the way I am) in stress-related health consequences over time.

During that last session I laid it all out, and I actually had chest pain while talking and my hands shook throughout. In hindsight, I think if talking openly about emotions and problems produces such fear, then I've got issues of my own to work on with my own T. But it also says something about how fearful I am of letting down my guard, or boundaries, with M. Because I do not feel fully emotionally safe, despite all his declarations about love and life (which go on for pages). He wants to INSTRUCT me into the relationship of his own fantasies (travel! food! diversion! distraction!) but he really cannot understand my own (peace, harmony, cooperation).

So, tomorrow, I need to tell M and the Sikh that I've realized that as we've spent more time, that I cannot continue the dream/expectation of a lifetime commitment.

It's really hard and I'm scared, but I think it's the right decision. I so hope so.

(Possibly, I could offer to remain his friend and occasional dinner companion. But I think it's unlikely, because it's so common among people with highly N traits to become quite unpleasant after you say No to them or stop cooperating with their plans. I would anticipate a lot of passive aggression and jabs of hostility. And I would love to be wrong.)

Despite all I'm saying here about M's dark or difficult sides, I will also miss him, genuinely. He has at times been delightful, playful, sparkling and fun. And generous (trips! food and wine!). I will miss those times. But I think I've gotten a clear vision of what a DAILY future or a DOMESTIC partnership would be like with him, and it's not happy. It'd be filled with his ego and compulsion to control, plus his reluctance or inability to do work that requires a deep encounter with himself. Too scary or too irrelevant for him.

He really is extremely fulfilled by his scholarship, and though it'll be very hard on him, I think returning to his teaching (online) this fall is exactly how he'll survive. He is driven, deeply, by his profession. And he has adoring family on two continents. He can talk to his older sister (his "guardian angel") for hours. So he'll have a lot of long-distance understanding and support. I have my friends.

Believe it or not, I still love the man. And I'm facing deep risk of my own in deciding to end of it. At my age, with some health fears and loneliness looming, some might think I'm mad to end it. But I believe that personal integrity demands that I be honest and open and tell it like it is.

It won't go down well. I'm scared but will survive it.

I'm wondering whether it's wrong of me to do this during a T session.

I could ask M if I might come by this afternoon? I could tell him then and then leave it up to him whether he still wants to Zoom with the T tomorrow. (I would do that regardless.)

Advice welcome on the in-person versus doing it with the Sikh? In-person might be better behavior. With-T is the only way I know I'll be able to speak my piece without interruption. But alone in-person might be more honorable.

Please do let me know your thoughts on the last paragraph...or anything.

thanks all,
Hops

Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on July 12, 2020, 11:58:42 AM
Oh, Hops, I am so sorry.  You have worked so hard at this and I'm truly sorry that M isn't able to do more of the dazzling, fun, interesting stuff and really dial down the OTT bits.  We all have our quirks and faults, as you say, but yes, they need to be a part of the package that doesn't overwhelm or engulf the other person.  My heart was in my mouth when I read your description of setting up the TV box and having your repeated requests for him to let you get on with it ignored.  I am of the school of 'do it yourself so you learn more' (although I will get someone else to do it if I'm completely outwitted) but to have someone insist on being involved when you've asked so many times for them to leave you to it just isn't on.  And yes, if it becomes a daily battle over meals, household chores, your poetry, and the various other things you've had these issues with, exhaustion will just become part of daily life and we don't want that for our Hopsie.

When I initially read your options for telling him (in person versus with the T) my initial thought was that in person would be kinder.  Then when I read you don't think you'll be able to say your piece without him interrupting if it's just the two of you my heart sank.  For you to be in a situation where you need a third party present in order to keep him quiet long enough for you to say all you need to is just not on.  So I think go with the T session.  I'm sure, you being you, you'll have lots of nice things to say about him as well so he will hear good things along with the parts he doesn't want to hear.  At least it means you'll be able to say all of that as well.  He might not get to hear the nice bits if it's just the two of you because he might not stop talking long enough to listen.  So I would go for the T option. 

And perfectly normal that you love him even though some of the stuff he does drives you nuts!  I don't think we get to choose who we fall in love with.  It happens; sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.  I am truly sorry that it's got to this stage though.  I had been keeping everything cross for some kind of breakthrough for the two of you xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on July 12, 2020, 01:01:36 PM
Well, I think you've you thought this through with lots of compassion for M and balanced that with your own self-comfort and needs Hops.

I completely understand being scared, too. Fighting my own self-battle on that same thing right now. If you need the Sikh, to say what you have to to say and be HEARD ('coz I can imagine there might be some total denial of the content & reality, on M's part when you speak the words) then by all means choose that method. It's NOT less honorable to admit you have your own limitations openly speaking your truth and needing a safe place to do so. That's a sneaky way of putting yourself down; worthy of my own tricks even!  ;)  And it gives away your power to M, in a way.

If we (sorry for the we) can't politely decline an open invitation to participate in a relationship without fear of how it'll be received - or what it says about US... then we're already at a disadvantage; it's putting someone else's desires and needs above our own. Saying that they matter more than ourselves. And I'm afraid I've misunderstood for some time, how that isn't "compassion" so much as a fuzzy boundary; perhaps sometimes even codependence or enabling.

It is known, that N's or the unconsciously Nish will train their source to do exactly that. And neural pathways are damned persistent; even familiar and therefore understood as "comfort zone". Breaking that understanding is one of my new goals for myself.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: CB123 on July 12, 2020, 03:39:15 PM
Hops,
I understand completely.

I think you should do whatever feels the most comfortable to you. Overall, it is going to be a hard experience all the way around. But your initial thought was that you would do it with the Sikh(for some very well thought out reasons) so I suspect that you would be more comfortable with that.

I am not comfortable having those kinds of conversations in personal space--yours or his. A neutral space is better, so either can exit when/if they must and the conversation doesnt go on any longer than all parties are comfortable with. Sikh could be that neutral space, IMO.

When M and I used to do things together even after our "break up", I made a point of meeting him with my own transportation. It just felt a little more even playing field to me.

You are going to be okay. You really are.

CB
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on July 13, 2020, 02:34:00 PM
Thank you all, so very much.
I don't think I would have been able to have my come-to-reality decision without your wisdom, patience and support. I am so grateful.

I'll answer you each in turn but have 30 minutes until the appointment and am trying to figure out what to say. I'll start with gratitude, because I am grateful we gave it a try, and then explain I've reached a place of knowing it couldn't be a truly shared life, so I'm letting go of that.

If he wants a friendship, that might work. Or not. But I've got to say my piece.

If you see this, please send strength and serenity my way at 3pm EST!

Will update you later.

Gratefully,
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on July 13, 2020, 03:35:23 PM
Aw, Hops, sending you all the strength and serenity I can muster!  You have been, and are being, true to yourself and we all need that.  You will find the right words; you always do, and the nice Sikh therapist seems to be a helpful and calming influence.  And whatever else happens, you've both learnt more about yourselves along the way and you are right that you've had some very nice times as well.  I'm hoping it goes as well as these sort of things can.  We are all rooting for you xx xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: CB123 on July 13, 2020, 04:22:18 PM
Thinking of you Hops.

CB
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on July 13, 2020, 04:47:25 PM
Thank you both.

It went okay. I started with all the ways I love and appreciate him and then said I didn't think a shared life could work. I had a few examples.

He argued with every example and the T said, what you're doing now, M, isn't serving you. (M also began criticizing me, about how "every time I turn around there's another boundary") and we offered competing versions of Rokugate.) It was absurd in moments but a couple key moments for me were:

After I said my piece, M said "I will continue to see you, because you are [positive attributes...]."
Didn't say, "I'd like to..." or "Do you think we could..." or "What I want would be...."

Just said, "I WILL continue to see you." I noticed it. Sikh noticed it.

M offered a lot of critical stuff about me and I know that was hurt speaking. I didn't take the bait. I'm glad/relieved about that. I did describe how frustrated and stressed I feel when my speaking something (clear, honest) repeatedly about what I need or want is sometimes as though I simply never spoke. Wasn't heard.

I even said that at times with him, I feel "voiceless." Sikh wanted to know if when M was doing something like he did with the Roku event, I could just say "Get out of here, I can't think" and I confessed...it's not how I'm wired. If someone doesn't/won't hear me when I say/ask for something in plain English repeatedly, I'm not just going to be blunter and louder. He understood.

I described him as a wonderful, amazing, remarkable, fascinating person and expressed a whole lot of gratitude for the experiences I've had with him.

The Sikh said that although he sees that we both genuinely have love for the other, he wasn't surprised. He has seen the challenges/patterns we have. I sensed that he was truly disappointed for us. What a good man.

I wound up explaining what an enormously powerful personality M has (a positive spin but also true) and that the way I am made, I just don't think I can take on the assignment of redirecting all that power without health cost to myself. But I tried to express it in such a way that it was also a respectful compliment. M IS an amazing steam engine of a person. He reminds me of a driven CEO of some huge corporation, but in his case, it's academic pinnacles.

We left it that I remain open to possible friendship, and M emailed that it was "too bad" and to let him know if I ever have a "change of heart." I replied that my heart would never change toward him and that I was very sorry, and that if in time simple friendship would feel right for us both, why not?

It was hard but not as hard as I'd feared. Time will tell. I think the grief and future-fears and difficulty of winter alone will wear in ... but I hadda do what I hadda do.

I am very glad we had our relationship and hope for another. Even if that's not to be, I'll still be glad I was with M for the time I was. The Sikh focused a lot on keep our loving feelings for each other, and said he understood that we wanted that to remain.

I really thought the Sikh understood.

hugs and so much gratitude (I could never have understood myself or my needs this clearly without you guys--ever)--

Hops

Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Dr. Richard Grossman on July 13, 2020, 07:37:11 PM
Thanks for sharing all of this with us, Hops.  You have set a wonderful example of facing and dealing with this very common and serious relationship issue.  I hope many people read this thread and learn how to free themselves and not be "voiceless."

Richard
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: CB123 on July 13, 2020, 09:15:12 PM
That was really hard, Hops. I know it took a lot of courage to put everything on the table and risk the critical response that you got. I am so glad you did it with Sikh there. That was a good plan. With that much stress today, I'll bet you feel like you are turned inside out tonight.

I'm glad you already have your patio get togethers organized. I'm looking forward to hearing that you were able to have a conversation again without being interrupted!

I wonder if you can continue to have cleaning help occasionally? I noticed that you were very soothed by that little bit of self care. It seems like you are already carving out time to write and read and think. I hope this makes it easier and less stressful to really gift yourself with that kind of attention.

Tomorrow will be another day....I hope you get a good rest tonight.

Much love,
CB



Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on July 14, 2020, 01:30:14 AM
Thank you, from the heart, ((((Doc G)))).
I think the reason the last weird struggle (over a Roku box!) was the last straw for me was that my feeling of not being heard was overwhelming. I not only felt as though I were voiceless, but as though I wasn't even in the room. Yet I was, and making sounds, speaking words...and nothing I said changed his behavior in the slightest. Not at iota. It was a disturbing feeling and a clarifying one.

((((CB)))), it was such a comfort to read "that was really hard." Your empathy of that just came right through and means more than I can say. Thank you.

And you're right, I'm utterly exhausted. (M. called and said, so why don't you come for dinner Wednesday. As though...all is well, we'll just get back into our routine now. I told him I needed time to think but once the fog blew through, I know that's not what I need. I think it would be confusing and distressing to go right back to his house--same schedule that he follows, always Wednesday---with Pooch and go through the same ritual as though everything's fine. For me, a big dream has ended, and M spoke as though he was just fine, no big deal. I don't believe it, but fear a new pressure campaign if I slide back into his rituals/world too easily. I finally just said I don't know what I need yet, I'm grieving.)

I think I'll just email him that I'm going to need several months to settle down and adjust to the change before I'll know whether it's wise to repeat our dinner dates.
(Honestly, if I become well and strong I think it would be wiser not to. He really is N-ish. The Sikh told him, "For someone who respects women, you are dismissive to her...." I thought M kind of dismissed that the way he dismisses me, and then M asked the Sikh for the second time if he would come to dinner, "now that our professional relationship is over." The Sikh smiled and made some remark about being vegetarian. Maybe that was a nice "No" -- I hope it was.

Thank you both, and all--
Gratefully,
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on July 14, 2020, 05:50:49 AM
I think you should be very proud of yourself, Hops.  You've embraced every aspect of this, enjoyed the good bits, been incredibly honest with both yourself and M, worked very, very hard, been willing to consider other perspectives and you've been very open and understanding where M is concerned.  I don't think anyone could have done more, or done it all so gracefully.  You're willing to step away, despite your very understandable fears about your retirement years.  I honestly don't think I know anyone else as honest or as willing to go it alone rather than settling and making do.  I am awed by you.

I do think it might be best to have a complete break from M for a while before deciding whether you want to see him as a friend.  I thought him inviting you over to dinner and saying he was still willing to see you did sound a bit like he hadn't heard you again.  And maybe you just need a bit of time to get back to being you again.  I hope you can be very kind to yourself and look after yourself well.  I feel a bit sad you won't be seeing the nice therapist again!  He seemed like a really good egg :)  I don't think he'll be going to M's for dinner :)

I am sorry that things haven't worked out, especially as you've worked so hard and there were good bits.  But things are what they are, aren't they?  I'm glad you've not sacrificed yourself and allowed him to consume you.  We wouldn't want our Hopsie to turn into a delicate wallflower :)  Lots of love to you xx xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on July 14, 2020, 08:08:42 AM
Uh-oh... just seeing all this Hops.

Good job! I'm really proud of you, for doing this as gently and gracefully as possible. Kindly even; but FIRMLY.

You are going to need some cocoon time now, recovery, realizing that though we truly wish it was the kind of world that we didn't have to go such extremes to stand up for and protect ourselves; to even be heard, recognized as a real person with our own feelings, and those feelings and boundaries acknowledged as important as the other person's... sometimes we have to and we CAN. Trust that self-knowledge. Many times, it doesn't take this much firmness.

I have a lingering worry though, over his dinner invitation - as if none of what you expressed about your feelings mattered or changed things between you. IIRC, one of your first observations and concerns that you shared was M's entitlement attitude. Saying he WILL see you... despite your ending the relationship... means he isn't recognizing your decision - nor your right or perogative to make that decision. Perhaps it'll sink in over the next weeks, but that's going to require you to constantly turn down his offers... and that means, you're not "done" yet. IMO, you need to be done to mourn the ending and could've beens... and find your self again, strong and optimistic and capable. You need the space; he perceives his need for YOU in his life outweighs your need for space. (Sorry, I AM a worrywort. I sincerely hope I'm just imagining the worst and this doesn't happen.)

Sometimes, it's simply not possible to remain friends after an attempt at deeper relationship. It's just not an ideal world, and some people aren't capable of that at the time - and may never be. If that person has trouble recognizing that other people are free to have their boundaries... even being friends is challenging. So instead of hoping to remain friends, for now - my advice is to hold onto your warm affectionate thoughts toward him, wish him well, and close that little energy Hallmark emotion-bubble with - "It was just never going to work out."

That's a whole lot of complexity and levels to navigate a path through, Hops. It's real WORK. And it's emotionally draining. We need to have a cyber "Amazon's bonfire" - a girl's night out - to commemorate what a task this has been and how successfully you accomplished it.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: CB123 on July 14, 2020, 09:16:57 AM
Hops,
Him calling and saying "why don't you come for dinner on Wednesday" sent a chill through me. He actually couldnt have said anything that would have pointed up the problem more clearly. Wow.

I think your plan of taking a few months to settle yourself before entertaining that idea is a good one. And maybe, if you do, a neutral spot like going out and getting a burger where there is no power imbalance. You can even pick up the check.

I'm glad you're safe.

Love
CB
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on July 14, 2020, 10:56:59 AM
Thank you ((((Tupp)))), especially for this deep image:
 
Quote
you've not sacrificed yourself and allowed him to consume you

On a feeling level, you couldn't be more perceptive.
I love the man but he is so powerful he feels "consuming". Maybe even "voracious."

And I do need several months of full separation/silence before I could risk a possible new connection. It may not be necessary, as if his N-ish side wins out in his hurt, he may do the full discard himself. One never knows, and yesterday he expressed a lot of resentment about my short "retreats" during our relationship, so I can't imagine how months of it will feel to him. Time will tell.

((((AMber)))). I swear, I think we all here have PhDs in insight:

Quote
...wish it was the kind of world that we didn't have to go such extremes to stand up for and protect ourselves; to even be heard, recognized as a real person with our own feelings, and those feelings and boundaries acknowledged as important as the other person's...sometimes we have to and we CAN.

That was bracing in all the best ways. Thank you.

I also think you're exactly right about the dinner invites (I had written him "in time, if it feels positive for us both") which he interpreted as "....[your email did not enter my awareness] ...So come on back now, in two days"). I plan to turn down whatever pokes come in. Lovingly but firmly. And if they become a flood, maybe not so lovingly.

I know from "the literature" about Nism that No-Contact is often the only way to fully move on. And that it's usually advised. I think that's more important with malignant N-ism (which M does not have) but I'm wary of going porous, so I'll be vigilant about when and how, and make sure if I do accept an invite one day (should they still be coming), I do it out of choice and not feeing obligated. Winter loneliness will definitely challenge my resolve, but maybe by then it'll be okay.

I sent him some info on Adult ADHD. Turns out that compulsive talking and inability to listen are massively common symptoms in those with the hyperactive type, which I believe M has. He's never explored it, so I said I hoped if he chose to, it would be a revelation and a help. Ironic that in the decade after being diagnosed myself (inattentive type, or likely the combined type), I wound up with a boyfriend who seems to have the same problem, different aspect. Two cats in a bag?

(((((CB))))) I understand the chill. It's an example of the "did I not just say something in plain English?" gaslit feeling I had during Rokugate. I'm thinking it's likely his whizzing brain rather than anything malevolent like stalking. I don't feel unsafe, truly. I think his own inner rules of conduct would not permit that kind of thing. (If he did behave in any antisocial way toward me, he'd find himself quickly facing the Great Wall of China.)

A neutral space like a park with a picnic is a much better idea than going to his house, and I will keep that in mind.

Right now, awash in gratitude for all this understanding, I need to do the cocooning and self care and simplicity.

Today: Watering the garden and taxes. (Talk about epic ADD procrastination...I have to sort whopping piles of papers today to even find the tax stuff, and that's before I go online and pick some freefile program to get it in by tomorrow!)

HEARTFELTLY,

Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on July 14, 2020, 11:49:14 AM
PS I sent M a last email for now, quoting my own that had said "in time, if we both want to, we could ...." and said that to clarify, I thought he had missed "in time" and for me it wasn't two days.

I spelled out that what I need is complete silence (including my own) for several months, to calm myself/resettle/process/cope--and that if in early October we both still want to then, I'd be glad to hear from him and we could do a nice picnic.

I wished him much love and support from his family and friends, and his T or even the Sikh (dropping a seed, since I have the feeling he'd do well with him, and maybe better than with his current young counselor provided by the University), and said as painful as the decision was, I have faith that we'll both be okay in the long run.

So now I've been as clear as I know how to be.

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on July 14, 2020, 12:30:36 PM
(It did break my heart when M said on the phone, "You're my best friend" because I know it's true. I know he's going to go through some terrible pain.)

Okay.
Bye for now.

H.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on July 15, 2020, 03:39:02 AM
Perhaps losing his best friend will be the spur that he needs to seek further help, Hopsie, to rein in those bits that have caused the problems.  Particularly if it is an ADHD related thing.  It might be that some specific counseling or perhaps even medication may help.  It's not something I know much about but he could use this as his own 'late diagnosis' moment and it might help him in the long run.  I think you've actually done him a great service, even though I don't expect he sees it that way.  But you've really shone a light into some dark areas and shown him that it is possible to ask for help, work though problems, speak openly and clearly about feelings and so on.  I've learnt that from you, just from reading this thread, so those lessons are there should he want to take it further.  And he does have support, as you say - family, friends, work colleagues and so on.  And I dare say you'd be open to email conversation if he wanted your take on something that came up in therapy or your opinion on something that had happened (possibly quite a long way off for him but if he did get to the stage where he was learning to listen I can't see you refusing to communicate in a supportive way).  So I think he'll be okay. 

I do know what you mean about winter coming.  I think thoughts of winter is what's turned my mind to moving (I'll go into it more on the other thread).  I did wonder if any of your other friends have been very careful with regard to precautions and might be up for a dinner date once a week?  Or if the patio heater idea might mean socially distanced outdoor buffets could go on after the weather turns colder?  Just wondered if it might ease you through the winter solitude.

I hope you got the tax thingy done.  Sounded grim!  Lol xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on July 15, 2020, 05:27:03 AM
Tupp, we're dreamers, I think. Earnest proposals for things to become better (and how that might be achieved) or people's loads to be lightened (ditto). Deaf ears.

M's response to my ADHD info was... "Too late! Why take on a futile project when there's so much new to see and do!" I know that means he can't/won't undertake new therapy or study about himself. I get it, he feels old, fatalistic. His escape pattern has been on airplanes, running everywhere he can as often as he can. I think that's been his unconscious search for a stimulant. Seriously. Then he said I could still go to Dublin with him in spring if travel is safe. Felt like a bribe.

His next reply (to my last in which I expressed heartfelt concern for him and hope that he'd find love and support for this transition in friends, family, and T): seemed subtly hostile. Natural when you're feeling the sting of rejection, I guess, but this was unpleasant to read:
"...don't sound so serious. You've chosen what I think you have always wanted and sought: total independence. That always comes with a price."

He used to specifically admire my independence. And he knew also that I'd had a lot of fear for my future. So it seems to me...this was subtle ill will. (You'll regret not being with me, kind of thing.) Perhaps we're already in N-scorned territory.

Strike anybody else that way? I haven't answered either -- think I'll just let it lie.

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on July 15, 2020, 07:54:45 AM

"...don't sound so serious. You've chosen what I think you have always wanted and sought: total independence. That always comes with a price."

H

Ooh, Hops.  That sent a chill down my spine.  Very perceptive of you to spot it. No acceptance of the behaviour that's led to this, your kindness and genuine concern that he's okay and supported now, an implication that you didn't want to be in a relationship?  And the notion that being alone is somehow less preferable than being with someone and being unhappy?  Independence comes with a price?  The price being what, your own autonomy?  Not having to hide who you are because someone else doesn't want to see it?  You must pay a price now for not just accepting the things that were making you unhappy (even affecting your physical health)?  And the further implication that you can't be independent within a relationship?  There's a difference between being independent and being single - for some reason I don't think some men can separate the two when it comes to women.  Hmmm.  Okay.  I was having/have had some sympathy for M but he has gone back on my arse kicking list now.

I would let it lie, Hops.  You've been very kind and gracious and gone out of your way to try to make this easier for him - not that you needed to, that's your kind heart shining through.  Leave him to it now.  Polite refusal to any requests that come by but I wouldn't engage any further.  Circle your wagons, take extra good care of yourself and when the time comes that you do feel up to seeking male company again we'll see if Buck's got any single friends.  I have been day dreaming of you, Skep and your two Bucks double dating :)  Lol xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on July 15, 2020, 08:08:48 AM
We're getting ready to check out of our lodging, but wanted to add support, Hops.

I don't think M' hostility was benign.  I think you're spot on.  I think he's ADHD running through everything over and over in his head.  Soon he'll be talking about it with everyone who can't run or roll away.

As for his " therapist" being young and from the University...I think it's more holding forth.  I don't believe for a second he opened up, was vulnerable, ever admitted his struggle, even to himself.  I don't think he could have.  Not where all his strength and competency come from.  That's too bad. 

You don't need M sniping at all your sore spots, Hops.  I do believe it will go on, as reality sets in for him, getting meaner.  I believe  you are his best friend too.  You were an excellent friend and mate pick for him.

He doesn't happen to be a good fit for you.   

:: Sending calm happy gardening vibes::.

((Hops))  Though M seems immune, you found the clarity you were Sikhing. 

Lighter



Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on July 15, 2020, 11:00:31 AM


((Hops))  Though M seems immune, you found the clarity you were Sikhing. 

Lighter

Lighter, that is pure genius.  Lol xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on July 15, 2020, 02:20:43 PM
Quote
   And the further implication that you can't be independent within a relationship?  There's a difference between being independent and being single - for some reason I don't think some men can separate the two when it comes to women.

Spot on, Tupp. I've experienced this firsthand. It's always subtle, but it's there. Where I really kick myself, is where I did it to myself - believing it was expected of me - until it was just taken for granted that this is who I was. (I wasn't; but didn't know thing one at the time, about who I was.)

Hops - is it possible that verbal engagement - any engagement with M at this point at all, beyond politely refusing invitations... is just exactly what he wants; what is feeding his sense of being entitled to further demeaning you, putting you down, and his sense of rejection?? (Oh woe is me, I did nothing wrong...)

As you continue to explain, even when wishing him well while reinforcing your refusal to participate in relationship... he's seeing it as a bargaining chip... a way through your defenses... a "gotcha" he can leverage to prop up his ego against the feelings of rejection.

This is why I said sometimes it's not possible to remain friends. What he's doing isn't "processing" and it's not fair. Reduce or end the exposure so YOU can go through the next phases.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: CB123 on July 15, 2020, 03:35:45 PM
A smart lover would use this opportunity to backtrack and try to make a better impression.

I'm sorry to say that it is classic N behavior to lash out and try to make you and your requests look ridiculous, even after the fact. I dont think he is going to try to hang onto the relationship. The next task will likely be to save his sense of himself, thus the ridicule, and that could go on for a bit.

Sorry Hops. That sucks.

CB
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on July 15, 2020, 04:53:12 PM
No kidding, Tupp! Lighter, that's the MOST satisfying pun I've read in ages. So great I may send it to the Sikh! I agree with you that it wasn't a benign message. M disowns anger, ever, so unfortunately he won't admit to the punitive quality of those remarks either. But that's on him, I'm letting it go (caveat at end).

Tupp, your list of indignant questions was very affirming. Thank you very much for letting those rip! Yup. Even if a man can't/won't bother with tuning into empathy for how women can feel, that was a beautiful display of clear and righteous indignation. I'm grateful it was on my behalf, I needed to hear it.

Your advice too is well taken (although see caveat at end...oof).

Amber, I don't know. I think I've expressed soooo much frustration about disregarded boundaries that M isn't likely to go on a campaign to overtly ignore them now. I think in fact he probably believes he's lost me for good (which he has, barring miraculous insight plus self-confrontation on his part that I'm not expecting). The inner-boy part of him is in pain and full of woe. The Nish side produced an oh-so-omniscient lashing out at my chance for future happiness. The "price." Subtle, but he can't get by my writing-radar. (And he can't demean me to anybody but the medieval historians who've met me, or his family, but if we're well and truly OVER, it's moot. I will not accept direct demeaning anyway.)

CB, I hope your predictions of him introducing classic rejected-N sequences now are wrong, but I've asked him to not contact me until early October, when we each can decide whether to do a friend-picnic. I have zero f***s left to give to defending new bulldozed boundaries, so if he chose to take the dozer out for a spin over one, even a friendship possibility would be closed off then, for me.

The caveat: I read the first few responses here that WISELY said "set it down now" or "nope nope we're done" or the equivalent, and I still caved to my own compulsion to let him know exactly how I read that message, and it turned into a long "explanation" of how I felt two things: Dismissed when he'd repeatedly disregard boundaries he'd agreed to respect, and in specific about that message, Hurt.

Then I closed asking him not to contact me until October, and I intend to discipline myself likewise (wanting to avoid the email tunnel). I think he'll respect it. No idea how he'll be weeks from now.

Meanwhile I need to internalize all-a y'all's advice, because it's golden.

Sometimes here I feel as though this Board has, for years, filled a longing I always had for a sister. Thank you so much, I feel I have quite a few!

hugs
Hops

Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: CB123 on July 15, 2020, 07:10:39 PM
A nice thought, Hops, to have a sister!

We don't often think of it, because we are so used to giving away our power--but you could also tell him that YOU will contact HIM when you are ready, and that it will likely be October before you are. No need to ask him to respect your timetable when you already know he won't. 

Anyway, its weird going through that--you are closing doors that neither of you is completely comfortable closing. So its awkward.

Love,
CB
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on July 15, 2020, 10:12:11 PM
Awkward as hell.
I spewed a couple more interminable emails (trying to explain feeeeeeeelings and self-discovery, self-compassion, on and on--plus more clearly how awful I'd felt during Rokugate, doubting I'd ever be respected and how discouraging that was).

He'd written earlier a few lines asking if I realized I constantly judge him and it's almost a "compulsion." Fair enough, but consider Mr. OCD....

Anyway, my last (finally short) one was just honest. I have trouble letting go and STOPPING when in this situation, and email sucks for this but I was breaking my own boundary by continuing, and he'd be doing me a real favor not to respond.

And he hasn't, bless 'im. So nuts. So miserable. So exhausting.

I THINK I'm free of obsessing about this until early October. Whew.

Thank you thank you...
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on July 16, 2020, 06:16:48 AM
Well compulsions are understandable, Hops, but if he does contact you again I hope you'll be able to just ignore/delete/block or whatever's most appropriate.  I think CB's spot on with you deciding whether you want to see him in October and you contacting him if you do.  I don't expect you'll be thinking about a new man just now but by October - well you could well be having a great time getting to know someone online or via the phone (people are doing Zoom dates!  lol).  Or just be feeling very happy and content with yourself, your friends and Pooch, and not feel the need to add M back in to the mix.  So I hope in the meantime you can rest, recuperate, take Pooch for long walks, chit chat to people and if he pops up, just put him back in his box for the time being - in a contactless manner :) xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on July 16, 2020, 06:29:28 AM
That's a very good plan, Tupp.
I'm not too worried about who calls whom in October, and in fact I was the one to "slip" and email him last...he's backed off. He's not stalky, really. I need to let it go too. Despite all my upset about him, real attachment is still there and it'll take time.

I do need the time and space to just see where I am later. (It would be astonishing if we met in October and he'd gone to see someone about the raging ADHD, had taken some Rx, and all of a sudden he was in control of himself and more able to focus outward, listen, and things go well....blah blah.) That's exactly how I can spin off into fantasizing and I'm not going to let myself.

Meanwhile, still thinking of him a lot.

I think for now I'll do myself more good if I stay focused on home, garden, exercise, decluttering, those Zoom times with friends (not new men yet, though I'd like to know how one finds Zoom dating), and even...writing. It'll be very good for me.

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on July 16, 2020, 09:13:39 AM
That's a very good plan, Tupp.
I'm not too worried about who calls whom in October, and in fact I was the one to "slip" and email him last...he's backed off. He's not stalky, really. I need to let it go too. Despite all my upset about him, real attachment is still there and it'll take time.

I do need the time and space to just see where I am later. (It would be astonishing if we met in October and he'd gone to see someone about the raging ADHD, had taken some Rx, and all of a sudden he was in control of himself and more able to focus outward, listen, and things go well....blah blah.) That's exactly how I can spin off into fantasizing and I'm not going to let myself.

Meanwhile, still thinking of him a lot.

I think for now I'll do myself more good if I stay focused on home, garden, exercise, decluttering, those Zoom times with friends (not new men yet, though I'd like to know how one finds Zoom dating), and even...writing. It'll be very good for me.

hugs
Hops

I think all of those things are great things to focus on, Hops, and yep, feelings don't just vanish.  Which makes it hard!  But it gets easier over time, I think.

I read about a couple who did a first date over Zoom - apparently they both cooked the same meal, did wine and candles and got all dressed up and then sat and ate together via their laptops :)  Sounded a bit too techno for me but needs must and all that - I'd probably be more up for it if I were younger and had less of a 'can't be arsed' attitude.  Maybe the situation with M will inspire some more fabulous poetry from you :) xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on July 16, 2020, 12:38:49 PM
I think you have a good plan there Hops. Yeah, it's hard to break habits - even ones you know will prolong the "agony". Time to reinforce Hops' life - and what she wants it to be - and absorb the joy and care/comfort you derive from it.

Famous advice, from the most famous Femme Movie-N-Fatale of all time: There's plenty of time to think about this tomorrow.... tho' your cottage is likely warmer & more cozy than Tara.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on July 16, 2020, 11:39:17 PM
It's rough and I feel a little crazed. I had gotten so accustomed to our rituals, but began to realize that in some undefined way I was letting myself drain away and just adapting to M's needs. He has such a strong tendency to build rituals (and OCDish personality) and I have had a strong capacity to adapt to others' preferences for those things (from Nmom, and the old folks) that I was daily bothered by things I didn't enjoy but not asserting myself calmly about them.

Silly example, but it would get under my skin because it is N-ish and to me, too childlike. He'd send me emails that said nothing except a little trumpet blast about himself: I'm leaving for my walk! I did this and this and this and this today! Lots of exclamation points!!!! I hate the overuse of exclamation points!!!!! It feels juvenile on the page!!!!!! And he so rarely imagined my day or asked a question about me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I also got less and less energetic myself the more he sent me his manic reports about his own (extreme) productivity. Just began building a sense that domestic life with him wouldn't feel good. He'd be driven to lead it and organize it and manage it, and I'd numbly turn back into Cinderella. A lazy Cinderella and resentful one.

Not mature on my part, either. But I just think that's how our energies and styles would wind up grinding me down. Nothing wicked about the way he is, but I don't think it'd be a good fit for me. I think he needs a much more traditional woman who is bright, loves everything he loves, and just goes along happily.

Sigh. I still miss him. Believe it or not, he's also fun and sweet and for a long time, felt comforting. Security is a dream, too. But I think the complications of his Nish stuff and ego and all that bigness, would do me in. And my sensitivity and stubbornness wouldn't be fun for him, either.

I want a PEACEFUL, shared old age. And an empathetic connection we never could build.

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on July 17, 2020, 02:24:33 AM
I think a lot of things are to do with context and compatibility, Hopsie.  I know couples who text each other constantly through the day - everything they're doing, who they're with, pictures of what they're having for lunch.  It would drive me nuts.  A lot of women I know like receiving lots of contacts - it makes them feel wanted.  I just feel irritated - I want to get on with my day and then yes, let's have a conversation tonight and catch up on each other's news (what do people talk about when they always know what the other one is doing anyway?  Too much for my little brain to compute).  I think there's such a difference between someone contacting you to tell you what they're doing (I'm going out for a walk !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) and someone taking a picture of a tree or a bird they know you'd like whilst out walking, and then sending it to you.  I do think the first says "I'm thinking about me!!!!!!!!!!" while the second says, "I'm thinking about you". 

And it's so easy to find you're the one making most of the accommodations.  I think we all start relationships happy to be flexible, try new things, be open to new experiences.  But it's easy to suddenly find that you're doing everything on someone else's terms and that you've got lost in there somewhere.  And it's also perfectly possible to be sweet and kind and funny (as M is) and still have traits that just make being together very difficult.  It's okay to miss him xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on July 17, 2020, 02:58:13 AM
You're SO right, Tupp. Thanks.

I loved this. You often come out with a summary sentence that just nails the heart of an issue. With his frequent emails, this was exactly it:

Quote
the first says "I'm thinking about me!!!!!!!!!!" while the second says, "I'm thinking about you"

We never texted, thank god, since I hate texting physically, hate cell phones socially, and mostly ignore mine. The exception I did love was pix of his baby granddaughter. Sigh. And I'd send him a few of Pooch, whom he loves. Sigh again.

I have to admit something odd, though. I woke up from a nap (I can crash in the early evening for several hours and then be awake half the night) -- and suddenly felt happy. I am still sad but I'm ALSO happy, because I just sensed a lot of emotional pressure is gone.

I got a sudden realization that M is all the complicated stuff he is, that would make him an impossible life partner...but I think IF I decide to see him for a picnic in the fall, I won't be likely to fall back down the rabbit hole. What I was imagining instead was offering him compassion and friendship if that feels wise then.. On my own terms. (Oddly, I think reading the book about D. Trump's family gave me a sense that though M always sanitized his parents, I think he was missing something important early in his development, too. He's no Trump--loathes the man--but I'm starting to understand that he is still in some similar ways a child desperate for attention.)

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on July 17, 2020, 05:16:57 AM
You are a wise and sensible woman, Hops, so if you get to a point where you and M could share a meal from time to time and swap pics of cute babies and Pooch looking adorable then you will and you will notice if it starts to become troublesome, as well.  I think many of us are damaged by our early experiences, in many different ways, and a lot of us manage to avoid dealing with it by getting lucky with a partner early on or doing well in our carers.  I think for people like you (and all of us on here, I think), the need to dig and figure things out can be a blessing and a curse.  We get to know ourselves better and heal a lot of hurt, I think.  But it also sets the bar higher and I know I have a hard time with people now because I kind of need them to be at a certain level of self awareness not to find them exhausting really quickly and that makes it harder.  Sometimes I look back on my younger days when I could happily sit with just about anyone and cushion myself with booze or drugs and just have a nice time.  I need the connection to be real and authentic now and that's so much harder to come by.  I think it's probably true for all of us.  I'm glad to read that you felt that happiness, with that emotional pressure releasing.  That's good to know. xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: CB123 on July 17, 2020, 10:30:57 AM
Having shared happy moments is bound to produce a stab of pain, Hops, especially when it's all so fresh. My younger kids had relationships with my M and they will occasionally bring up something sweet that he did, or something that was particularly meaningful to them. I always feel a rush of confused emotion, even now, and I feel momentarily disoriented with my feelings.

I have to sit with those feelings for a bit, even now, and let myself enjoy the sweetness of those memories with nothing either good or bad attached to them. He was a very important part of our lives, and we had thought that we would be together for much longer. After this amount of time, I can't imagine what our lives would have looked like since both of us are doing exactly what we want to do, as it should be, but we are in no way living compatible lives. And, at this point, I genuinely have no desire to have a different outcome. I think that you will be able to do that with time. The only snafu might be what is at the base of his reaction. I was never able to do that with my ex, even though I attempted it, because he was very punishing forever after. Hopefully, your M will not do that once he is over his initial reactions. You both will need to get to the point where you are content with the decision, and for it not be so raw to see if his reactions now are just initial hurt or if they are something that he can't rise above.

That's a long time coming though and you are at the beginning of that journey. I love that you woke up with that feeling of joy--I really get that, I've felt that. In spite of all you love about him, there is an amazing joy when you feel the rightness of your decision. It feels like endless possibilities in front of you and the freedom to make your own choices about those. I hope that you can be friends in the future, but just know that that takes time. All told I'll bet that after 7 years of being together, it took my M and I another 3 or 4 to get to a comfortable place.

M and I are friends now the way old old friends are. We don't speak often, only very occasionally go out for coffee--probably a couple of times a year. But we know that if anything should happen to his or mine, everything would be dropped--as a matter of fact, most of our interaction has been along those lines in recent years. I think you and your M could be that way--you will probably have to avoid dinner at his house since that will probably always be a hot button. I can picture you having drinks in a piano bar in an old hotel instead.

Thinking of you, Hops. I know this is hard.

Love
CB
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on July 17, 2020, 11:30:05 AM
Thanks, ((((CB))))--

I am so glad you and your M were able to get to the healthy, well-boundaried friendship that you have today. And that you have each other's backs still, if there were a crisis. (I am thinking of offering that support to M as well. He has twice said to me since I ended the romantic lifelong commitment part, let me know if you need anything, and I believe he meant it.)

I don't know if he would be punitive. I had a strong reaction to his comment about "paying a price" because I chose "'total' independence" -- and do think that was unconsciously punitive. But it was also his hurt speaking, I'm sure. Time will tell whether that punitive impulse was transient for him, or if it'll harden into a general attitude of blame or payback. If that happened, I wouldn't be interested in friendship anyway.

I did notice that he went swiftly back to formality in his emails "Do let me know if you have a change of heart" and that during the T session, he slammed the lid on his feelings. I think he'll mask all that. If he hadn't, had said truthful emotional things such as, "I'm feeling devastated, is there anything I can do to change your mind?" I'd have had more hope for us. He only said something about his feelings after I'd poured out mine: "I am hurting. I miss you. I have fears of living alone for the rest of my life, I have security fears as well, , etc." He just wrote back, I don't want to be alone in old age either. You are unique and you are the best." But it wasn't ... I don't know what. Revealing anything more, I guess.

One of the things that makes intimacy possible is both people willing to risk vulnerability with the other. I think both of us have had problems with that. I'm leery of letting down my guard because I arrive with my men-baggage and because he's so controlling, even if he often means well by his compulsion to "take over and fix this" -- it doesn't feel like empathy. And though he's fairly freely shared his neediness when he was in its grip, he came across like a frantic child rather than a vulnerable adult, sharing. Although I've been kind to that whirlwind child, I haven't felt warm about soothing him. Instead, I withdraw, which isn't the same as honestly saying in the moment, "I feel swamped and overwhelmed by your demands for attention."

On balance, I think his attachment to his mask of competence is very strong. And my fear of being dominated (a fairly realistic one, imo) is very strong too. Somehow, we have missed the boat on equal sharing of what's inside. In therapy, I'd pour out descriptions of how I was feeling or how I reacted inside to various incidents. M would mostly argue or defend himself with an alternative narrative. He never got to "empathic listening" but I think he never learned it. I also believe he may have the classic "protect the inner self from feeling shame at all costs" reactions. I've been learning that's why it's so hard for some people to genuinely apologize -- to admit ANY mistake is to risk internal meltdown, because the sense of self is so fragile. Those are SO hard to dislodge, and if he's a total-N, which so far I haven't wanted to believe, it would be nearly impossible for him, unless he threw his heart into deep therapy, which is basically what I've conveyed to him.

It would be amazing if he did, but I believe it's extremely, extremely unlikely. That would be one thing I'd listen for in October. Willingness to say something about whether he's continued, whether he chose the Sikh or remained with the less-insightful young MSW, and whether he is willing to be vulnerable enough to tell me anything vulnerable about what he was learning/unearthing. Without that, going forward or renewing anything would be very unwise on my part.

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on July 17, 2020, 04:28:17 PM
Hmmmmmmm.....(I love Carolyn Hax):

Quote
Q: Is there really always another bus?
I am 65 and would probably dump my boyfriend except for my belief that the chances of ever replacing him are slim to none. I was online for many years (with no good results) before we rekindled an old romance. I reached out to him on Facebook. I hadn't seen him in 30 years. We had lived together for one year back in '83-'84. For the most part he's a good boyfriend (affectionate, very helpful, generous, great sex partner, cooperative, funny) but when he's angry, he becomes verbally explosive and abusive. The things he says suggest he really doesn't like me, deep down. I'm very middle class, white collar, professional, highly educated. He has a high school diploma and is in construction. We have value differences that I believe make it hard to get along at times. That being said, as wonderful as I think I am, I don't believe I would find someone else at this age, as I've tried and it didn't happen. If I leave him, I'd give up a good sex life, a help mate, someone who "has my back." Essentially, I'd be alone. Which typically is OK with me, but as I get older I think it might be of benefit to have someone in my corner. (And yes, I know people die.) We tried couples therapy and he walked out during session 6. He's now in individual therapy. I've had a therapist most of my life. As I write this, it seems like I need to ask myself, can I tolerate his tantrums on occasion to compensate for the all the benefits of the relationship. And did I say, he's very handsome and I enjoy just looking at him? Too good to leave? Too bad to stay?

A: Carolyn Hax
There's an icky film that wants acknowledging--he's verbally abusive but, gosh, so hot?--and now that I've done that, I'm going to talk about something else.

Any time you're telling yourself to take a bad relationship because it's the best you can do, you're killing your soul a little.

Since you used the bus metaphor, I'll say where the bus metaphor is useful: voting. Take the bus (candidate) that gets you as close as possible to where you want to be, knowing perfection is not an option.

But when it comes to your companionship, commit to living your best life. That means asking yourself: Are you better for having this person in your life, or worse? Do you like yourself with this person, or not? It's about the value of what you have, in its own right, not its value relative to something else. It's the latter that brings the ick.

— JUL 17, 2020 12:57 EDT
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: CB123 on July 17, 2020, 06:06:30 PM
What she said.
And as a P.S.: There are helluva a lot of things worse than living alone, and that relationship sounds like one of them.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on July 17, 2020, 06:23:29 PM
I have this picture of Hops in my head...
perfectly content being a homebody - the virus distancing not being a problem for her. Lots of quiet time, pleasurable small social meetups with good close friends... and introverted solo pursuits. There exists an awareness of a need for security and companionship... or at least the wish for that.

Describing the character of a potential Mr. Right....
Emotionally strong; stable. Always there when you need him. Attractive, but in a quiet way. Maybe someone with an affinity for gardening or animals... practical handyman... but educated and well-read... but without a neon-sign advertising it all the time. Someone who is patient and caring; and appreciates some skittishness about old wounds and is gentle with them. Funny in a "real people" sorta way; able to poke fun at himself and tell tales on himself. Someone secure in who he is, what he has/wants to give and how... who doesn't have anything to prove to the world,  but will knock himself out to impress you Hops.

Someone comfortably retired - who isn't reliving "past glory" all the time. The kind of guy who'll say - "you didn't have to do that for me" when you surprise them.

(And no I have no plans to become an "over-60 romance genre writer"..... LOL. But ya gotta admit - it's a niche not many are writing about...)
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on July 17, 2020, 07:44:07 PM
Damn, Amber, sign me up for your book club!
What a lovely, lovely vision -- thank you. I really will hold that ... soooo good. And your vision of how I can live on my own is a good one too. Thanks.

CB, luckily M was never verbally explosive or abusive. That would make all wobbling irrelevant. At least I have that much healthiness and self esteem.

I am committed to not "villainizing" him, while also not "pretzelizing" me. I think we'll both be okay in the long run whether we ever see each other again or not. And I don't regret the relationship for a moment. I'm very grateful it happened. He woke me up from a kind of buried state where I'd just gone numb. I'm not now.

And that HELPS. I am more solid and grounded than I knew. Plenty o' future.

Hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: sKePTiKal on July 17, 2020, 08:39:20 PM
LOLOLOLOL. I'm smiling & happy you liked it Hops. Cheers.
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: CB123 on July 17, 2020, 08:46:58 PM
Perfect, Hops! No villianizing (unless dealing with a villian)!

.....and I was responding to the Carolyn Hax post about the guy who was being abusive....? Where you wrote Hmmmmmm?

Anyway, glad you are excited for the future.

CB
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on July 18, 2020, 07:00:37 AM
Oh I'm sorry, CB.
Duh.
I think my head is spinning now and I morphed it into some of your concerns about my relationship with M...which, as it turns out, were very wise observations.

Didn't mean to confuse the two...I should keep Hax outta here!

HUGS and grateful ones,
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on July 20, 2020, 02:49:09 AM
I'm glad you're not like the lady in that story, Hops.  It makes me so sad when women feel a bad relationship is better than being alone.  So sad.  I'm glad you didn't feel that you needed to stay, no matter what xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on July 20, 2020, 06:33:52 AM
Thanks, Tupp.

It's sinking in and though I still feel it was the right decision,
it's not easy. Had a pretty down day yesterday. It's just the
feeling of isolation is much more than it would have been just
after a "normal" breakup, I think. For several reasons:

--pandemic/quarantining means a lot of time (nearly all) alone
--now that I'm 70 I'm less confident about ever finding a new partner
--when I wake up in the morning I think of M first, just there it is

I know all this will ease in time (except perhaps the finding someone bit).
And I made the decision I felt I had to make.
Still, the peace does come with a price.

I know M is probably suffering too at the moment, and it's tough
to think about that. I do miss aspects of being with him a lot.

All that said, I'm hanging in. Need to get outdoors again as my garden
is withering.

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Twoapenny on July 20, 2020, 09:15:20 AM
It is hard, I think more so if there are lots of good bits as well.  And yes, as you say, age, pandemic, these are factors and very big ones!  It's equally hard when you know you could be with someone and you kind of convince yourself you could ignore or cope with the bad bits (I know I've done that myself in the past).  I hope it all starts to get easier in time, Hops xx
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on July 20, 2020, 10:30:22 AM
Thanks, ((((Tupp)))).
I really appreciate your empathy.

I agree, it will get easier with time.
I'm confident of that.

I need to be patient with the day by
day healing. Lots of little fissures need
to knit together, so I need to be kind
to myself too--and calm.

(Not my constant M.O. but I know it's
what's needed.)

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: CB123 on July 20, 2020, 10:36:36 AM
Thinking of you, Hops. Hoping you have a very peaceful day today.

CB
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hopalong on July 20, 2020, 10:48:49 AM
Thanks, ((((CB)))).

I fought back the down-lassitude enough this
morning to get out and water, and in the nick
of time. Was very excited to see my first ripe
cherry tomatoes -- they're a heritage golden
yellow version.

And the chard is going like gangbusters still.
Everything else seemed pretty pooped out.
Carrots had been coming along (another heritage
seed that produced whitish carrots with an earthier
flabor) but something ate off all their tops.

I have a suspect. This morning when Pooch and
I went out the side door, a small bunnywabbit
was just sitting there, enjoying the view into
the long back yard. Didn't budge until Pooch
came out, tentatively, and then pulled back.

My 20-pound dog just retreated from a wabbit.
Oh, the shame of it.

hugs
Hops
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: lighter on July 21, 2020, 10:31:31 AM
Poor pooch: ) 

I'm happy to read your garden is producing yummy warm fresh things for you still.

I haven't checked my tomatoes in a while.
Lighter
Title: Re: Relationship
Post by: Hop