Several years ago, about 5 or so, I was dating a wonderful
man. I was also in therapy. These things were and were not related 😉
One day, my therapist and I stumbled across a metaphor that I’m reminded of
today – when I get into relationships, it’s as if I’ve been the conductor of my
own orchestra, and ultimately, the highest ideal and intention is that my
partner, boyfriend in this case, have his own orchestra, and that the two sounds mix
and meld in a way that increases the beauty of both, without losing the
integrity of either.
Surely, you may have your own metaphor for this, as there
are many, but that’s what came to me then.
The “problem,” as it were, is that I was noticing my
tendency to want to begin to conduct his orchestra. That if his oboe were a
little more resonant, or his triangle more tingy, we’d sound better together.
The result of this peeking over onto his side, was that I began to neglect my
own. In beginning to mind someone else’s business, I forgot to mind my own.
When this happens, things like self-care, integrity, and reason
begin to go out the window. I become more interested in making sure you’re
doing things “right,” and that we “sound good together,” that my whole balance
of living gets thrown off.
That was then. This is now. Will it be the same?
When, before I began dating that man, I asked a trusted
friend if she thought I were ready to date – as he would become the first
person I’d date while sober – she said that if I was ready to handle the
emotional twists of a relationship without drinking, then go for it.
And so I did. I learned a lot, and ultimately, it didn’t
work out, but I learned so fucking much.
I learned how to try to love, how to try to be loved. I learned how to be
honest with another person. I learned to look at the clouds and see shapes and
animals again. I learned how to relax a little.
Yes, these are things I can learn “on my own,” they are. And
I get more of that now than I did then. But, too, there are some things that
can only be learned in communion with
I notice that that big hunk of manic-depressive wild-haired
meat that I call my inner manifestation of Love is “up” right now. As when I
met her on one of my shamanic journeys, and she threw herself on me after I
gave her one bit of kindness, she is not yet one who knows balance. When I
pushed her off of me, she got rageful and went Neanderthal.
This is part of my pattern. Show me some kindness, and
suddenly, I light up like Times Square and drape myself on you, my needs,
expectations. Show me that you can’t possibly meet those demands, and I will
turn to ice quicker than an eskimo’s piss.
There’s more to this. As there usually is. If you’re not
meeting my demands, and I’ve turned cold, you won’t really know it. It’s subtle
closing off and shutting down, this Elvis leaving the building. We’ll have sex,
but I won’t be present. I’ll still try to use it as a way, the main way, to
connect, but it doesn’t really work when I’m not there.
Also, as I recognized last night on my surprise-last-minute okJewpid date, before I know more or better or have a peg on the situation,
sure I’ll be outwardly as gregarious and charming as always, but… I felt it – I
felt my shell.
Perhaps this is “normal.” You’re meeting someone for the
first time – you of course have some guards, maybe. But, I’m just so much more
acutely aware of how scared I am. How scared I am to allow that shell to melt,
because inevitably, in my past, it has meant a descent right into that enormous sigh of relief that you are here, that I can now
relax, depend on you – and make a few adjustments to you while we’re at it.
When I let go of this shell, I start a pattern that leaves
me alone, sad, and feeling pretty childlike. Not womanly. Not adult.
So, I keep the shell. I’ve kept it for years now. Better to
avoid the whole game than to try to play it differently, acknowledging and
using the new skills for living and being that I have. I could have garnered a
whole fleet of new tools and attitudes, but fuck if I let them out of the gate.
They’re like a trained – well, I was going to write “army,” but I’d rather
leave the military out of my love life, thank you – they’re like a well-trained
dance company. Having rehearsed for years, perfected, practiced, fallen, and
learned – but … me, their manager, I will never and have never let them perform. They
are a lost art. They are a lost gift, because I’m too scared of how they’ll be
received, or of if they’re really ready for the big show.
I think I’ve mentioned this before, but with the Cousin, I
said at one point (not to him) that I felt like I wanted to put him up on a
shelf, and “fix” myself, or get better, and then, only then, when I were
better, then I could take him down, and we could have a wonderful life
together. Life.Does.Not.Work.In.Darkness. It does not work in absence, and it
does not work without my active participation.
I may be the world’s best anything, but I’d never know it.
And so, it’s time to see if my conductor skills, my dance
company, my emotions have learned things that I may not know they’ve learned.
Because my date was awesome. And, likely, I may want to date