So I finished Episode 3 with this list: a couple of books, a therapist, 2 50th birthdays, 3 months of a dating website subscription, 1641kms of space, and a
partridge in a pear tree comet called Chiron. I guess I’d better explain…
[But first, some housekeeping: I’m calling this love interest of mine ‘H’, who completely approves of my blogging, and sees posts as soon as they’re published; if any objection was raised, I would absolutely edit or delete *collective sigh of relief breathed]
Right, to books and comets, because therapy and dating subscriptions are self-explanatory aren’t they (plus oh-so damn Western)?
Have you read Alain de Botton’s The Course of Love? Do it. I loved it, wolfing it down. It’s partly based on Attachment Theory, and crucially for H & I, Alain suggests we bring all our faults to our first date, rather than just our good stuff. Now because we were 1641kms apart, and I thought we’d never meet and therefore had nothing to lose, I invited H to tell me all her worst qualities, as an exercise for us both.
She said ‘Yes Lets’. And then wrote:
‘Wow, I’ve never EVER laid my shit on the table to anyone… OK… I’m going to be completely honest and leave not one thing out…’
Don’t worry, I won’t go on. But the point is, we swapped shitty stuff, and got an insight into deeper levels that don’t usually see the light of day so soon. Awesome.
In Episode 3 HERE, I name-checked another book called Attached; I have to say I think it’s changed my life. Synchronistically, I was reading it when I first came across H, and mentioned it in one of our early messages; she downloaded it straight away (that was the first clear ‘Yes Lets’ I got). It gave us a common vocabulary with which to talk about ourselves, our various exes stretching back 30 years, and our families. In fact, it was crucial to us continuing to message, after the great challenge of Fight #1…
Yup, we managed to disagree. Strongly. Apparently, I was sending mixed messages [no comment]. She misunderstood, reacted and withdrew [no comment]. I reacted back, and… THEN STOPPED MYSELF. Thank god for those 1641kms. Thanks to reading Attached, and understanding my romantic behaviours so much more deeply than ever, I saw clearly for the first time in my adult dating life that I had 3 choices:
- I could continue to be a highly-successful Avoidant, and just disappear, blowing off the perceived drama of her communication, and the potential ‘neediness’ behind it which I would have to deal with (damn harsh I know)
- I could get super Anxious about how I’d just fucked it up/it was all my fault/there was no hope, and just give up (equally harsh in a different way yes?)
- Take a deep breath, and practise being Secure: take responsibility for my part in the confusion, apologize, focus on and reassure her fears or concerns, then just keep showing up calmly and with love.
There’s probably a year of blog posts in why I could have chosen each one of those first two, (mmmm, especially the Avoidant- so much simpler/smoother/familiar, with an easy pleasure to it, if I’m really honest) but I’m going to spare myself all of us the agony.
Obviously, I did the third one. I literally had the book open on my lap, glancing at it as I typed:
“5 Secure principles for resolving conflict-
- Show basic concern for the other person’s wellbeing
- Maintain focus on the problem at hand
- Refrain from generalizing the conflict
- Be willing to engage
- Effectively & simply communicate feelings & needs”
[NOTE- It’s extremely difficult to apply this in the moment to an argument with a teenage son about chores/parties/drinking etc, but please don’t let that stop you trying]
I chose to Be the person I actually want to be connected with, and I can truly say I’ve never done that with such clarity or ease before. It just felt right. What an incredible opportunity it was, for both of us. And the rest, as they say, is History. Or Herstory.
Right time, right person, right place (especially as it’s not the same place- somehow, it seems to be essential in our story that we actually live so far apart for now).
But what about the comet and the two birthdays, you ask?? Well, that’s coming next week.
But first, in real life time, I’m going to Melbourne TOMORROW for our official 4th date.
I CAN HARDLY WAIT!
WE CAN HARDLY WAIT.
See y’all soon x