Preamble: A has been in a healthy relationship for years. A loving, kind, generous, sexy, healthy relationship with an amazing man; if I am going to take advice from anyone, it is from those who have and who continue to make it through.
Seated with A when something happened, I turned to her with my buffoon’s voice and asked: “I feel like a-b-c. What do I say?”
Her groundbreaking response was: “Why don’t you tell him that?”
I waited for the punchline and when none came, I was further stunned into silence when she added “Why don’t you tell him you feel a-b-c” as a statement rather than a question volleyed back my way.
I was feeling something, and rather than talk around it or pretend it wasn’t there or re-shape it so that he wouldn’t feel uncomfortable with my feelings, I should instead just say it. Groundbreaking for a Libra Sun.
No lying here – for a while, I ate my feelings. By my own hand and through the advice awful advice that no one is responsible for how they make us feel BULL.SHIT, I started reigning myself in. If I felt something, I swallowed it and didn’t discuss it – then, I pathologized it, berating myself for feeling it, constantly thinking “I shouldn’t be feeling this. How can I possibly feel this? No one is to blame but me.”
The most unhinged part of this pathology was never even about out-of-order lunatic feelings. What I was feeling were things as simple as When I ask for something, I would like for you to meet it. If you can not meet it, I would like for you to tell me that you can not meet it and why…” And I promise you that I was not asking for the moon, but rather healthy realities and expectations.
I was never the above woman, the one who internalized her feelings. In fact I have always been the polar opposite all across the board, with both platonic and romantic relationships. If I felt something, I said it; if the individual before me was made uncomfortable by it, we explored things together until we were both comfortable with what we were engaging. This, my modus operandi because I am not a dick, and because my purpose when engaging such matters was usually to either salvage a relationship or to ensure that I never let anything build up to a point where everything came out of me at once and the person before me had sat in the dark for months.
As I write this, I have suddenly understood how I came to this place –
1. I have always been a team player. (In fact, one of the things I miss most about a relationship.)
2. To be an excellent teammate means to have excellent communications skills (emotional, practical, and physical).
3. After my engagement blew apart some years back, I wore all of the blame. Because I wore all of the blame, I took thread and needle and sewed my needs inside of my chest, never letting them reach my lips. Until now.
4. If I cannot communicate properly, then I am doing a disservice to my teammate, and therefor not a valuable member of the team. So, it’s good to be back. Hurrah!
The lessons here are simple ones – in any kind of a relationship, platonic or otherwise, you need to be able to tell your partner / friend what in the fuck is happening in your head and in your heart. I have always stated that communication is key, so if you’re engaging someone and your mind becomes a monkey, then you need to indicate as much, and to do so clearly. Because the alternative is that your mind fills in the spaces of a script unheard of and invisible to your partner.
My natural state of rest is in places of transparency. I had always been a creature naturally inclined to communicating and I do this because I never want you to say that you didn’t know. I like everything to be on the table so that I can make decisions based on as much evidence and information as is possible. Me, I live and feel in extremely vivid colours, and I muted and diluted this reality of me for too long; a part of the reason that I became paralyzed even in the written word.
No doubt, this goes both ways. If you are someone who lives in muted tones and are more comfortable with ecru and grey, then you have every right to share your world with someone who will not try to dip you in crimson red. (The impasse here is that many people are at first very attracted to the bright colours, but then became exhausted by their vividness. So learn yourself and learn your limits on your own time; please don’t figure this out by chewing up wo/men while you sort your shit.)
Lesson #6 then: If anyone tries to tell you that your feelings are not the problem of your partner, then tell that person to bury themselves into the bosom of Ayn Rand and get the fuck out of your life. We are creatures at our best when in a state of honesty. (Unless we’re sexual predators, war criminals, animal kickers, etc.)
Lesson #7: Don’t exhaust yourself or your partner with your feelings. Meaning, while it’s key to share and be aware, don’t make your relationship an on-going therapy session. If you have baggage, as we all do, deal with that outside of the relationship and before you step into it. That way, when you’re in the relationship, you’ll be able to point out the landmine triggers to your bona fide. If you care about and respect this person, you don’t want them stepping on an emotional landmine and losing a leg. You want to point them out, couched in the simple ‘please don’t step over here because it hurts me’.
Lesson #8: Know when to communicate and how to communicate. If you don’t yet have these skills, please try to develop them before you date someone and you find yourself starting every evening with a “We need to talk…”, because if this is where you find yourself, then you should take a step back and reconsider whether or not this relationship is for you. Even though they’re work and effort, if your relationship’s balance is defaulting to trauma, drama and pain, rather than a balance of sharing and fun and sexiness with the occasional difficulty, then either you’re in the wrong relationship, or you’re not yet ready for one.
Lesson #9: Build a relationship with only someone whom you like as a friend. Meaning, don’t overestimate how important it is to simply like someone. Really, and truly like someone enough to always want to share things with them, and tell them about your achievements, and have them excited equally about your daily wins as your life-time achievements. How do you know? Ask yourself if you would still want to hang out with them without the promise of sex. Still want to? Then you’re in like, and you’re golden.