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flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (Default)
I am out of practice arguing. That's the takeaway I am getting from reading The Usual Error, a book on miscommunications and how to fix them. Most things in the book that talk about arguments or hurt feelings are reminding me of relationships I had in my twenties, i.e. pre-Ghost. He and I don't really argue, or misunderstand each other much, or get worked up about it when we do. We feel generous and supported and supportive with each other and that's really nicer than anything I've ever had.

That link up there goes to a free e-book, BTW, so take advantage, y'all.

I still wonder how this relationship is going to get screwed up. I never do entirely trust to good things to maintain any sort of permanence in my life. I had to work on my attachment issues and learn to ask for things for this relationship, so it's not like I haven't had to work for this. But it still feels too easy somehow. Like nothing, good or bad, can ever be permanent or even very long-lasting. I had a relationship that was good for eight years, but it was so across several terrible arguments and rough patches. I don't know that I felt more secure in that relationship, but it at least felt like the rules of our relationship were not breaking the world.

I like my life, even though I have trouble lately breaking past the internalized ableism that makes me have to justify my existence in ways I did not used to. I have happiness in my friendships and relationships and my work. And I know, better than most people, how fragile that really is.

I know how fragile we all are, and how easy we are to lose.

I love you guys.
flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (Default)
So you have this interaction spectrum that starts with people you don't get along with. You slowly move up the scale to people you see more of and have in your life more.

Some people are "sometimes friend"s. You get along best when you see each other a few times a month, but maybe one of you has a lot more energy than the other, or your interaction styles are different enough that you annoy each other if you try to integrate for longer than six hours a week. With me so far?

Some people are "everyday friend"s. You can get along with them for eight+ hours a day every day. Your energy levels, anticipation of each others needs, and interaction styles are largely compatible. You would make decent roommates.

Then you have a different spectrum, an intimacy spectrum, and people from anywhere on the previous spectrum can fall anywhere on here. I love my dad, but we do not get along. We see each other face to face roughly every five years. But he changed my diapers and has held my hair while vomitting. That's pretty intimate. It's non-sexual, but speaks to being comfortable with having an important role in my life.

A lot of what women envy about bromance is that men's relationships with each other have sacrificed touching for other forms of these nonsexual intimacies, and then basically declared those intimacies bro-only. You'll clean up your friend's vomit, but cringe at buying your girlfriend tampons? Welcome to an unfair double standard that allows the intimacy of body acceptance for one set but not the other. Men are allowed to know what "embarrassing" things their friends like, but they have to be "cool" in front of a girl - denies even the opportunity for intimacy. There are a lot of little ways that there are his and hers sets of what is okay for intimacy by gender, and there's only two sets of norms. And it's sad, and I hope it dies a rapid death.
flamingsword: An octopus wraps around the words FREE HUGS. (Tentacular free hugs)
Since sensitive and sometimes privileged information could be referenced in these entries, make use of the privacy functions, and even if you have to keep a post privacy locked for your eyes only, it still counts as journalling. If you feel the need to state such delicate situations vaguely for privacy reasons, any friend will understand, and any non-friend can be encouraged to mind their business.

-- for your relationship --

1. Name ALL of the feelings you have for each other. The good and the bad: you can't start dealing with your feelings until you admit that you have them, and naming them will start that process. If you have to use a list of feelings to get the ball rolling, then so be it. Do you only feel certain feelings in certain situations? Write it out or make a note to write more about it later.

2. Set some short term and long term goals for your relationship. List achievable steps to those goals.

3. List problems that your relationship has had. How did you solve those problems? What concessions were made by each side? Is this an equitable balance? How would you like to solve problems in the future?

4. What do you trust about your partner? What are their reliable traits? List their strengths and dependable qualities.

5. Think about your parents relationship. Compare and contrast your relationship with theirs. Are there positive traits that you are trying to replicate? Are there negative traits that you are reproducing without intending to?

6. Write two love letters. The first is to yourself.

7. How does your relationship make you a better person? What aspects of yourself has your relationship inspired you to change? How has your relationship grown with you and your partner as people?

8. Anger shows us what is important to us. What do your arguments reveal about what you and your partner prioritize? Evaluate your priorities to make sure that you are not still working with an outdated understanding of yourself. What has changed in your priorities, that you need to talk over with your partner?

-- General Skill Building --

A. What is a conversation that you have been putting off having? Plan the conversation using respect, honesty, and gentleness.

B. Listen to your self-talk. What do you tell yourself when you experience negative emotions? Name your coping skills, both positive and negative, and list your methods of self-avoidance.

C. Recall times you have achieved a flow state. Are there some commonalities in the circumstances? How can flow be encouraged in your life?

D. Name your fears. Name the things you believe about yourself and the world that make you feel vulnerable.

E. What are things that make you feel trapped? What relieves that feeling? When do you feel free?

F. How does your body respond to your emotions? Describe the physical sensations of your emotional reactions.

G. How are you betrayed by your expectations? When you do not get what you expect out of an interaction, what about that difference is upsetting to you?

H. List your methods of self-care. What soothes you in times of difficulty?

I. Refer to the list of your fears. Pick one. List the efforts you have undertaken to guard against that fear. List the hopes you have given up on in order to avoid this fear coming to pass. Evaluate the usefulness of this fear based on this cost-benefit analysis.
flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (Default)
I'm gonna clue some folks in to the fact that I have returned to blogging again but moved over here, because a good quarter of the utility of this is having other people to comment on stuff and being able to talk my head out with people who have fucks to give about you. It's a very rewarding feeling. And now that I have been in fandom for several years, I think I am better at posting comments to other people's stuff now, too. No more lingering "am I bothering people?" feels or awkward ""what do they want to hear?" mindreading attempts. So if you guys want to jump back into blogging, I promise to talk to you about your headspace and offer color commentary.

So let's start by transcribing some paper journal notes and thoughts from places, to get back into the swing of things. I'll make sure anonymous commenting is on so if anyone drops by and reads this you can ask me to blog about random questions you have or whatnot.

dated April 2015

After a recent neurology diagnosis and topamax prescription I have a lot more available brainpower and somewhat more energy. This coincided with N--- and S--- encountering some major relationship friction and S--- going to stat with their mother for a weekend to give the relationship space. Since N--- has gone to a psychiatrist for medication but not to a psychologist or talk therapist, I thought this was a good time to introduce therapy journalling as a way of easing him and S--- into a couples-oriented mindfulness experience.

I will be collecting prompts, exercises, and storytelling experiences to begin with and moving on to using my own meditations on our conversational directions to reach into the unexplored venues after the basic territory is covered. Since much of the good of journalling is simply prolonged thought and encouragement to consider a subject from many perspectives, I am studying prompts on the internet and in people's therapy homework to provide a wider, more useful perspective than mine.

flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (Sunshower)
“We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.” --Anais Nin

“If you don't love yourself, you cannot love others. You will not be able to love others. If you have no compassion for yourself then you are not capable of developing compassion for others.” -- Dalai Lama

If I look at you and only see the parts of you that reflect myself back at me then I am not seeing you, I am seeing a distorted, incomplete version of myself. If the first things I notice about you are differences I don't understand then I may be tempted to Other you and deny any connection. So even if I'm paying attention to you, the attention that I'm paying is still self-centered, warped by that filter on my perception. )
flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (Default)
I use anger as a gauge of what's important to people, being in a relationship with someone so Zen that he never gets angry means that I can't tell what's important or which things he values take priority over other values.

I'm flying blind. Even if I know intellectually that I can deal with this sensibly by asking him when things become issues, even if I feel emotionally that we can handle anything with maturity and honesty because we both have that: THERE IS INFORMATION THAT I DON'T HAVE. And I won't know what it is until I need to ask.

My inner Ravenclaw chafes.
flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (Default)
So Ghost and I don't argue. I mean - we may debate the ethicality of vampire genocide in the True Blood universe and other geekery, but we don't have relationship arguments. We have yet to have a problem more pressing than which configuration of locked or unlocked means that the dishes in the dishwasher are clean. I don't . . . this NEVER HAPPENS. I realize that there is some BS about not looking gift horses in the mouth, but I am looking into this equine grin and it seems to have a platinum grill.


I look back to previous relationships and they were not like this and I have no context and so don't even know where to start identifying whether this is even a problem. HELP!!!
flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (Default)
Ghost is gone for the morning to other people who are stupid and will not keep him entertained. How are you supposed to feel better if you're bored all the time? Since I've been getting up at 8am for a week in case I needed to drive or anything, my body is getting used to this icky daywalker schedule.

I have the picnic/wedding thing narrowed down to two weekends. I think that once I get that settled and send out the paper invites to non-web based lifeforms, I'm as done with the wedding planning as I am going to be. From then on it's just getting a picnic together and herding a bunch of iconoclastic hermits. Which is at least something I'm used to.

I have to think of a careful way to tell my family that there's no registry and all monetary donations are going to the Red Cross. There's a few who can derive insult from any action, and they have to be walked through newfangled doings. Any ideas, lovely flist?
flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (Default)
I've been thinking lately of pathology- how we define illness, how we regard the illness as a character defect and so regard the ill as though they are less worthy. Our attitudes to disability and anything to which the words "not trying hard enough" are applied carry over from that definition of pathology and are very suspect.

No, this doesn't have anything to do with the relationships thing (I think?), but it's been on my mind lately and it comes from analyzing relationships. Ever since I realized that Ghost's childlike openness has to have a really early cause, I realized what it is about how he reacts to his parents that is so radically different from everyone else I know: they don't think anything is wrong with each other. They don't treat each other like approval is something that is won or withheld until something is changed for not being good enough, they just deal honestly with talents and handicaps and there is no blame or the internalizing of blame which becomes shame.

I've never seen anything like it before, and that is unutterably sad.
flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (Dr. Reid)
It wasn't the first energy trade that Doug and I did (I looked it up- the timing's wrong) but maybe it was one of the secondary ones when we were doing reiki training. Trading large chunks of energy with other people can cause odd behavior pattern shifts, out-of-character thoughts and feelings, as you experience some of that person's pattern. Doug and I used to do that to understand each other better.

I was having a frustrating and difficult day at work. I walked into the break room between clients, and Yvonne was there counting out her tip money to log it before she left. She had a lot more in tips than I had been making that day and I felt this odd sensation of anger and something I'm not familiar with. It felt a little like helplessness and the kind of wanting that makes your chest ache and a lot like I was going to be sick. I think it was jealousy. From how it's been described, it sounds a lot like it. And I was in a defensive, insecure place professionally where someone who had better social skills but worse therapeutic skills was doing better than I was, so the situation was right for it to be jealousy. I'm not sure what else it could be, so I'm just going to label it jealousy even though it's a singular experience with no referent. It really sucked.

I am glad I am not fully human. From an emotional standpoint, I have a lot less invested in the feelings I do have and I have fewer emotions than you do in most situations. Unless I am actively engaged in liking or objecting to something, I probably have no emotional reaction to it. In contrast to what I perceive your existence to be like, it is very easy for me to be logical under circumstances where other people think that logic does not apply. If that was jealousy and most of you experience that on any kind of regular basis, then I understand a lot more of the completely irrational things people do to stop feeling that way. I have empathy for it now, or sympathy, or something like one of those where I have the memory of a feeling I can't even explain. I have made bad decisions when I was in pain before, and that would be a difficult pain to get used to.
flamingsword: None can take the stars who do not reach. (Take The Stars)
Step 1: pay attention. Paying attention is step one, because it's always step one. If you want to reinforce positive behaviors then you have to know what behaviors there are and what constitutes a reward for the target person/s.
So: step 2a: recognize positive behaviors and reward individuals quickly.
Step 2b: clarify your signals to increase your signal-to-noise ratio. Do not send mixed messages. Be consistent enough to avoid confusion. Messages of criticism spoken during a positive review should be phrased carefully to state belief in that person's creative process. If you do something that irritates that person, desist until the next time you meet them.
Step 3 is repeating steps one and two until the positive behavior has been reinforced and then intermittently rewarding the person for it or alternating the reward with different, less-desired modalities to teach that person a wider range of positive associations.

Common and uncommon social rewards and their uses: )
Please leave feedback if I've missed anything!
Disclaimer: this is not the 5 love languages or any kind of self-help. This is not a recommendation that you take other people on as "projects". This is a helpful guide to motivating people to doing more of the good things that they do some of anyway. If you "push", you can go too far; it can cause personality changes and that may or may not be a good thing. While other people are ultimately responsible for their actions, you will still feel like a shit for having a role in turning your friend into a different person.
flamingsword: None can take the stars who do not reach. (Take The Stars)
This post is about fighting fair, the uses of trust, how to act in good faith, how your shame hurts others' feelings, apologies and forgiveness, asking for what you want, the subtle insult of manipulation, and the balance of power between two people. It's got a lot to say, and it goes on a bit. And since some of you are pulling stupid human tricks in your relationships, I'm not cut-tagging it, and I have disabled comments.

When the relationship is more important than what you get out of it, you agree on rules and then abide by them because that is the foundation of the relationship. Anything less implies that you do not respect your partner's ability to act in good faith or a lack of empathy for their betrayed feelings. Fighting fair implies that while you disagree on something, the disagreement is less important than the relationship that it arises from, and prioritizes your connection over your moments of disconnect.

When you ask for what you need it implies that you trust in your partner's willingness to fulfill your needs as best they can. When you don't trust your partner then you don't ask, and you use indirect tactics to get your needs met through trickery. Eventually that message of distrust is received, and hurts the feelings of the distrusted party. This person is forced to constantly chase after you, trying to read your mind to fulfill your unspoken needs to avoid feeling manipulated, distrusted, and misunderstood. That is not fighting fair, and it does not work very well. Eventually most people will also retaliate, matching your aloofness so that you are forced to pay the same attention to them so that the balance of power is restored. Then you both alternately ignore and pursue one another, and the underlying weakness from the lack of mutual support means that when external stresses are applied then your relationship falters and breaks up when it would have lasted in a more trusting environment.

When you catch yourself doing something hurtful, even if you did not intend such, apologize. To do otherwise implies that it is acceptable to you to risk your partner's feelings. Seek to make amends until the hurt feelings are soothed. Find ways to avoid problems that have recurred. Negotiate boundaries and context differences with caution and respect. Carelessness and lack of consideration imply that you are not planning for your relationship to last. When your lover is sorry and makes the effort to heal the divide between you, let go of your bad feelings and express your forgiveness. To do otherwise implies that you are interested in what you can gain from your lover's guilt and bad feelings. That is establishing trust.

If you love someone, take care of them. Speak their needs to them aloud, as best you understand, so that they can get used to engaging in dialog, giving voice the unspoken parts of themselves. Do not make it unsafe for them to want things by using what you know in order to hold an advantage over them. Do not test how much you can get away with to see how far such privilege goes; life will give you many tests of the bounds and strength of your relationship with no help from you. Do not judge yourself a failure at the first sign that you cannot meet all of someone's current needs. Trust that if you are loved your partner will give you back the care you have given. That is acting in good faith.

We learn hatred by hating ourselves. Eventually, that shame and negativity is externalized and projected onto those around us, even the people we love. Pushing people away comes in many forms, and two of them are reciprocal: hurting someone's feelings and withholding forgiveness when your feelings are hurt. Both keep your partner at an emotional distance that feels safer than the thought of letting go of your self-hatred and the fear that surrounds all shame. It's a coping strategy to buy time, but when time runs out you have to pick which has primacy: your relationship or your desire to not challenge your insecurities. When we prioritize hatred above love it is a tragedy, each time and always.

Love is NOT all you need, no matter what songs or storybooks tell you. Please invest yourself in trusting others, in forgiving yourself and them for the weaknesses that we all have, and build your relationships to last.

I love and trust you all. Please stop hurting each other.


flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (Default)

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