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How to communicate after a contentious divorce... Following a contentious divorce and custody battle, there are often high emotion and tensions between the parents. Research shows that constant and chronic conflict between the parents negatively impacts the children. The children sense their parents anxiety in their voice, their body language and their parents behavior. Here are some suggestions from Dean Stacer on how to avoid conflict.
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Author Topic: Emotional and Physical Intimacy  (Read 4182 times)
VitaminC
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« on: July 28, 2016, 08:19:19 PM »

I have been thinking what it means to be emotionally intimate in a romantic relationship.

Is it just simply:

- being able to show how you feel
- being able to say how you feel
- reveal fears and things you don't tell people who aren't close to you
- trust that what you show will be treated with gentleness
- want to know about the other person and listen to them with the same gentleness

The reason I am thinking about this is because C.Stein asked me this in another thread and I realised that I was stumped for an answer. It seems obvious, but also not.

I thought about how I feel that I am emotionally intimate with my friends, but did not need any physical (sexual) intimacy with them. I started to get confused by the different types of ways we have of being intimate - I am thinking about intellectual, emotional, and physical. And in a partner, I want all three (but had settled for only two and now have the scars to show for it).

I also realise that emotional intimacy is something I've had a problem with in the past. I remember one therapist saying the words : "Intimacy... .In to me see... " and then smiling at me as if she'd just written an epic poem or something. I cannot convey here how loudly and deeply I snorted in derision at her (in my mind only, I am almost always polite) .

But the reason I snorted is the thing. It's a cutesy and hokey way of putting it perhaps, but isn't it also true?  Just as simple as that? Not being afraid to communicate, for example, "Here are my 10 Values, whaddaya think of that, buster" ?

Please help me, people. What is emotional intimacy? How do we know we are emotionally intimate ? Am I overthinking this?
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« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2016, 10:38:39 PM »

I get the feeling that you need to be polite.  Have you ever tried saying what you thought in therapy?  My view is that I'm a paying customer.  That doesn't mean that I need to be abusive,  but I certainly have the right to disagree.  My T said within about two months,  "I sense that you have a healthy disrespect for my profession." Maybe I laid my normal sarcasm and "sick and twisted sense of humor" as he commented later,  a little thick. 

It helped him see me for who I was,  and by how he reacted,  who he was.  It helped us connect,  resulting in me trusting him more.  This was different than when  my BPD mother sent me to therapy when I was 13. Then,  I was guarded,  because I knew he would rat me out to my mom.  My guardedness was my learned survival mechanism growing up in a dysfunctional household. It took many years (decades) to unlearn.

Your list telegraphs to me that you don't feel what you show will be reciprocated.  Is this what you may struggle with?  That being guarded is your armor not to be invalidated or even hurt? 
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VitaminC
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« Reply #2 on: July 29, 2016, 08:49:41 AM »


My guardedness was my learned survival mechanism growing up in a dysfunctional household. It took many years (decades) to unlearn.

Your list telegraphs to me that you don't feel what you show will be reciprocated.  Is this what you may struggle with?  That being guarded is your armor not to be invalidated or even hurt? 

Holy cow, Turkish. My list telegraphed that? Really?
You've really hit the nail on the head. I know it because I'm kind of shaking a little from deep inside me, physically. wow.

Yes, absolutely, what you've said is true. I feel that I will not be heard or properly understood or valued.  I know where that comes from, my poor dad who did his best and all, but was really emotionally an incompetent dad.

I am guarded. It's true. Bloody hell, I'm actually crying now. [Where did that come from]


What do do?
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VitaminC
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« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2016, 08:52:27 AM »

I know.

It's because you actually saw me.  Heard me, whatever.

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« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2016, 09:03:01 AM »

What is emotional intimacy? How do we know we are emotionally intimate?

Good topic and questions VC!  I've been digging here lately too, and have discovered it starts with vulnerability.  And vulnerability is not weakness, in fact expressing it takes massive courage, and so called "wholehearted" folks don't consider expressing it either necessarily comfortable or excruciating, they just consider it necessary, to be fully alive.  And that belief goes along with the beliefs that we are worthy of love and belonging, one, and two, that what makes us vulnerable makes us beautiful.  That's it.  Not necessarily easy to go there, but not complicated either.  

So adopting those core beliefs is necessary, and if we don't currently believe them, adopting them might be met with lots of resistance, and looking at that is where the growth is.

That's the first part, but emotional intimacy goes beyond that, now we get to connect.

Excerpt
- being able to show how you feel
- being able to say how you feel
- reveal fears and things you don't tell people who aren't close to you
- trust that what you show will be treated with gentleness
- want to know about the other person and listen to them with the same gentleness

These are pretty good!  So how do we get there.  I've been practicing what I call blurt mode, where I blurt my truth from my heart to someone, with varying levels of success, but I do it for two reasons: one, because I want to, I want to be authentic and open-hearted, and two, the important one lately, to see what reaction I get.  Some people just won't go there, change the subject, or worse yet give me unsolicited advice or judge me, out of their own fear or they think I'm crazy or weird, but some people listen intently and reciprocate.  Those are the keepers.  And that's only the start, emotional intimacy doesn't just happen, it needs to be built over time, and how far can you go with someone, how deep can you get?  Some more than others.  So it's been a process, since I left my ex, to build empowering relationships with people, populate my life with empowering people, because what else is there?  And it's amazing when we can be open, honest and vulnerable with someone, and be fully accepted anyway, and have them do the same.  That's emotional intimacy.

And then, if there's also mutual physical attraction going on, physical intimacy can happen too, and not only happen, it can add to the emotional intimacy, like a way to reinforce and enlarge it.

Sidebar: I grew up with a girl who became my girlfriend for a while 30 years ago, and we still talk now and then, not really friends but we have a lot of shared history, and we were talking about sex a while ago, because there I was in blurt mode speaking about a lot of things, and she's typically very negatively judgmental and argumentative, which is why we're not close friends, but this is a woman who was left by her husband, and then left by subsequent significant boyfriends, and she now talks about "just sex".  Not talks really, more like poor impulse control screeches, and we began talking about what is "just sex".  I thought about that for a while, and just sex is the physical act without the emotional intimacy.  Been there done that, and it's clear to me that she's given up on emotional intimacy with significant others, they leave her and it hurts, so she settles for just sex.  That may be fine for her but I want more.  My borderline ex and I had "just sex" because she lacks the ability to become emotionally intimate, or more accurately, emotional intimacy means something very different to her than it does to us, because she has a personality disorder, in her mind it's two people fusing to create one, where for healthier people it's two autonomous individuals creating a strong bond called an emotionally intimate relationship between them, so we never, and could never, go there together.

Anyway.  Musings are becoming ramblings so I'll end with that.  What do you think?
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VitaminC
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« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2016, 09:32:21 AM »

Oh, FHTH, you again.   

And that belief goes along with the beliefs that we are worthy of love and belonging, one, and two, that what makes us vulnerable makes us beautiful.

So adopting those core beliefs is necessary, and if we don't currently believe them, adopting them might be met with lots of resistance, and looking at that is where the growth is.

... ." I've been practicing what I call blurt mode, where I blurt my truth from my heart to someone... ."


Ok, here's where I go all robotic - this blurt mode Smiling (click to insert in post), how do you do it? when do you decide? how do you pick the person? what does it feel like afterwards?

When I think of my friends and how openly I can speak to them, I get confused about what difference it has actually made to me or to our relationship.

I am not sure how to explain. I guess I sometimes feel a bit embarrassed afterwards or, more frequently, if it seems to be ok to have said it, I kind of question if it was a big deal for me at all - as in, if I said anything so honest and from the heart.

Dammit, maybe I just feel that hardly anyone really appreciates either what it cost me to say it, or what a truthful and special thing it therefore is - by virtue of its truthfulness, if that makes sense.  It rarely seems that making myself vulnerable is anything that leads to me feeling better. Even my ex-husband used to say that "you always needed to be so strong and self-sufficient". It's true. Growing up I never felt there was anyone grown-up enough to be my guide or support, not really. I kind of felt responsible for everyone.

And I've often thought I have spent my life looking for someone who could impress me with their intellect & wisdom while also protecting me and cherishing me.

I am stuck again in swirly-headed mode. That's another way I know I am where I need to be, but I don't like it.


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« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2016, 12:24:25 PM »

Ok, here's where I go all robotic - this blurt mode Smiling (click to insert in post), how do you do it?

Well, we all have politically correct or culturally correct ways to communicate with each other, superficial and light usually, plus we hold onto the idea of trying to be who we're "supposed" to be instead of who we are, yes?  So it's a letting go of that, and that's what it is really, a letting go and just being, from the heart, and then we might connect with how hard and how much work it is to maintain the facades we've been using to function.  But you'll freak people out too, since they've got their facades and going deep isn't the norm.  And social media and texting and all that make it worse, more disconnected, but that's stuff for another thread... .

Excerpt
when do you decide? how do you pick the person?


I decided to permanently do that after I left my ex and grieved the loss.  Had I done that with her from the beginning we never would have made it past the second date, and see what happens when we ignore stuff and barge ahead naive and blind?  Never again.

So I do it with everyone, just did it earlier this morning with someone I met in Starbucks, but like I said the important part right now is to notice what reaction I get, and true emotional intimacy takes time, it's not going to happen the first time we meet someone.  But it's about noticing if someone is willing to go there with me, not many are at first, but that's OK, I'm mostly doing it to practice anyway.  Some folks I've met lately, once they get to know me a little, call me "special", which could mean a few things I guess, but really they mean that I'm different in that I won't conform to societal norms, mostly because they're BS.

Excerpt
what does it feel like afterwards?

It depends.  If someone frowns and breaks eye contact, they either think I'm crazy or weird, or I've touched on something they don't want to look at in themselves, let's stay light, it's safer, but that doesn't feel good especially.  And some folks reciprocate and we have nice conversations, and that feels good.  But then there's the actual building of a relationship, be it a friendship or something more, and that takes time.  I figure we all only have a handful of people we're really close to, it's not necessary or even possible with everyone, but the way to meet those handful is to just assume everyone we meet could be, and go from there.

Excerpt
When I think of my friends and how openly I can speak to them, I get confused about what difference it has actually made to me or to our relationship.

I am not sure how to explain. I guess I sometimes feel a bit embarrassed afterwards or, more frequently, if it seems to be ok to have said it, I kind of question if it was a big deal for me at all - as in, if I said anything so honest and from the heart.

Yeah, I understand.  It depends what we mean by "friend".  I got my world rocked by my relationship with my ex, and everything changed as I detached and grieved, and a ripple effect was I started looking at all of my existing "friendships" and decided that quite a few of them were disempowering and shallow and had to let them go.  What if that was the key?  Populate our lives with empowering people and remove the disempowering ones, it's a brand new world.  And then, part of empowering is creating safe spaces, so if we feel embarrassed after, or someone helps us feel embarrassed, then how deep can we really go with that person?  Great feedback to get, on our way to emotional intimacy.

Excerpt
Dammit, maybe I just feel that hardly anyone really appreciates either what it cost me to say it, or what a truthful and special thing it therefore is - by virtue of its truthfulness, if that makes sense.  It rarely seems that making myself vulnerable is anything that leads to me feeling better. Even my ex-husband used to say that "you always needed to be so strong and self-sufficient". It's true. Growing up I never felt there was anyone grown-up enough to be my guide or support, not really. I kind of felt responsible for everyone.

So I think I'm reading in there that you equate vulnerability with weakness, maybe a little?  I did too, and that's what I've been learning, that expressing vulnerability is anything but weak, it takes courage to do and it's extremely powerful, but expressing it to the wrong people, who might consider it weak or otherwise be unsupportive, can be disempowering if we let it be.  But we can also decide screw it, I'm going to do it anyway, and that will be recognized by whomever, now or later.

BTW, the root of the word "courage" is cor, which is Latin for heart, and an original definition of courage was "to speak one's mind by telling all one's heart."  Hmmm.  Something to think about... .

Excerpt
And I've often thought I have spent my life looking for someone who could impress me with their intellect & wisdom while also protecting me and cherishing me.

Nice!  And who do you need to show up as to attract such a gentleman?

Excerpt
I am stuck again in swirly-headed mode. That's another way I know I am where I need to be, but I don't like it.

Swirly-headed!  Awesome description.  Been there, more than once, will surely be there again... .

Take care of you!
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VitaminC
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« Reply #7 on: July 29, 2016, 12:48:07 PM »

Thank you so much for all this!

So I think I'm reading in there that you equate vulnerability with weakness, maybe a little?  I did too, and that's what I've been learning, that expressing vulnerability is anything but weak, it takes courage to do and it's extremely powerful, but expressing it to the wrong people, who might consider it weak or otherwise be unsupportive, can be disempowering if we let it be.  But we can also decide screw it, I'm going to do it anyway, and that will be recognized by whomever, now or later.

Yes, I do, you're right. And I've been aware of how faulty that is for years. But still slip into it, as we saw there Smiling (click to insert in post)

BTW, the root of the word "courage" is cor, which is Latin for heart, and an original definition of courage was "to speak one's mind by telling all one's heart."  

That's so nice. I love words. Definitely something to think about.

Nice!  And who do you need to show up as to attract such a gentleman?
Excerpt

Mm, you specialize in easy questions, as I see.

Copying into a word doc and saving this to think about while we're offline tomorrow.
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« Reply #8 on: July 29, 2016, 12:56:47 PM »

Copying into a word doc and saving this to think about while we're offline tomorrow.

Oh yeah, I forgot we're down for upgrades.  Good plan on the doc!
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« Reply #9 on: August 04, 2016, 02:21:05 AM »

Hey FHTH,

I just entered blurt mode with someone and it was nice and the world didn't end Smiling (click to insert in post)

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« Reply #10 on: August 04, 2016, 06:19:55 AM »

Hey FHTH,

I just entered blurt mode with someone and it was nice and the world didn't end Smiling (click to insert in post)

Nice VC!  And how did you feel when you did it?  It usually feels very free, and there can be apprehension if we worry about how it's being received, but if we can get out of our own way it's a good ol' time.

I had a particularly social day yesterday, blurted with 5 people (I count, as I practice), 4 of them lit up like Christmas trees, and the 5th was having none of it, very negative, contradicted everything I said, and there was a time in my youth where that would have been entirely my fault in my head, because I'm defective or did something "wrong", but I can now step out of that and realize and accept that I was being real, I am who I am, and I really have no idea what was going on with her, it's none of my business unless she makes it my business, and I can mostly let it go, although there's still a bit of me that wonders hmmm, was it me... .?  Pfft.  Human nature man, complex... .

Here's a popular Ted talk by Brene Brown, who chats about what we've been discussing; more academic than warm-n-fuzzy, but I've watched it a few times and gotten good value https://youtu.be/iCvmsMzlF7o
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VitaminC
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« Reply #11 on: August 04, 2016, 06:43:53 AM »

I am laughing at "I blurted with 5 people". The Blurt Project rolls on.

I've got dodgy internet where I am at the moment, so will check that talk when I'm back. Thank you for the link!

Re the reaction and my own feeling thing - I think I'm better with disagreement than blankness from the blurtee. A non- reaction or a dozy one where the person just doesn't get it at all is always hard to take.  I prefer robust discussion than a shoulder shrug. Could say that's because I like to engage etc, which is true, but I think there's also something there about just being heard and acknowledged. One feels like acknowledgement and the other like speaking into a void.

Do you differentiate between those kinds of reactions and exchanges? Does it make a difference to you?

I guess in an ideal world we keep doing it and searching for connections, however brief, and place value on just glancing off our fellow humans in whatever way.

But, you know, it's a process Smiling (click to insert in post)

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« Reply #12 on: August 04, 2016, 07:11:19 AM »

Re the reaction and my own feeling thing - I think I'm better with disagreement than blankness from the blurtee. A non- reaction or a dozy one where the person just doesn't get it at all is always hard to take.  I prefer robust discussion than a shoulder shrug. Could say that's because I like to engage etc, which is true, but I think there's also something there about just being heard and acknowledged. One feels like acknowledgement and the other like speaking into a void.

Do you differentiate between those kinds of reactions and exchanges? Does it make a difference to you?


Oh yes, I'm looking for connection, and it's either there or it's not.  Nonverbal responses are more powerful than what someone says; if their eyes light up and they smile, I know I'm connecting, but I'm with you, nothing at all is not connection, and then I fill in the blanks myself, did that with that gal yesterday, like does she think I'm crazy?  :)oes she think I'm up to something or trying to hit on her?  Truth is we don't know, and her reaction probably has more to do with her than me anyway, and I agree that someone disagreeing is better, although it depends how they're disagreeing yes?  A friendly debate, a healthy discourse, is great, but someone disagreeing just to be disagreeable is a pain, and a lack of connection, and it doesn't feel good.  So that's fine, I then go to hey, I initiated the conversation, and we're never going to know what we'll get until we start, celebrate the wins, let go of the losses.

That's with people I just met though.  Once we develop a connection with someone and it's ongoing, it can get more challenging as I go deeper, we bang into walls, fear can show up, connection can get lost for a while, but hey, keep pushing.  When I was younger all of my relationships were superficial, activity partners more than real friends, and that's no longer acceptable.

Excerpt
I guess in an ideal world we keep doing it and searching for connections, however brief, and place value on just glancing off our fellow humans in whatever way.

Yep, and what if it is an ideal world, and everything happens for a reason and it serves us?

Excerpt
But, you know, it's a process Smiling (click to insert in post)

It is, and everything gets better with practice yes?
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« Reply #13 on: August 04, 2016, 08:01:30 AM »

Hi all. Great topic Vitamin C.

I have a few questions?

- FHTH why do you say that you would not have gotten past the second date with your ex if you have done the blurting project with her? Can Borderlines not be emotionally intimate? What are the telltale signs? I thought that I was emotionally intimate with mine during the honeymoon phase . Though that was 16 years ago before I could spell emotional intimacy  Smiling (click to insert in post)

- Does blurting help you see who to be selectively vulnerable with? I understand that you do it to practice and manage the unsafe ones before they cause too much damage. I have a problem of being open even to unsafe people and get hurt and angry when they screw me over and go into my shell. Once these show their true colours, how do we manage them?

I was speaking to someone the other day. A recovered co-dep after 11 years. She has the twenty door policy. Open door number 20, behave and I'll open door 19 etc.  In the case of a BPD we let them down the @sshole slide which bypasses all the doors and comes out at door #1. If we send them back out to door 20, will they get bored and move on?
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« Reply #14 on: August 04, 2016, 08:24:44 AM »

- FHTH why do you say that you would not have gotten past the second date with your ex if you have done the blurting project with her? Can Borderlines not be emotionally intimate? What are the telltale signs?

Because a real connection wasn't there.  She was pouring on the sugar because she was trying to attach and I was buying it because she was hot and apparently into me.  But it wasn't there, it was fake and I knew it, but I forged ahead anyway thinking we'll just fix it as we go.  Note to self: trying to force a connection that isn't there will get you screwed.  And she's very into listening to someone else open up, but she can't and/or won't go there herself, so I accepted physical intimacy and pillowtalk as "good enough" emotional intimacy, but it wasn't.  

Excerpt
- Does blurting help you see who to be selectively vulnerable with? I understand that you do it to practice and manage the unsafe ones before they cause too much damage. I have a problem of being open even to unsafe people and get hurt and angry when they screw me over and go into my shell. Once these show their true colours, how do we manage them?

Yes, that's why I do it.  I blurt my truth because that's how I want to live, one, but two, to see what reaction I get, if there's a connection or not.  And these are people I just met, I'm doing it for practice right now, and if there's no connection, see ya, I'm no longer willing to accept superficiality or lack of connection.  We manage people we don't connect well with by removing them from our lives.

Excerpt
I was speaking to someone the other day. A recovered co-dep after 11 years. She has the twenty door policy. Open door number 20, behave and I'll open door 19 etc.  In the case of a BPD we let them down the @sshole slide which bypasses all the doors and comes out at door #1. If we send them back out to door 20, will they get bored and move on?

Yes, I've heard that, and it's a way to protect ourselves on the way to real intimacy: share a little, see what you get back, share a little more, see what you get back.  That's a good way but I get impatient, so blurt mode.  And yes, a characteristic of a relationship with a borderline is that it gets way close, way soon, or does it?  My ex and I were telling each other we loved each other after about 6 weeks, and there wasn't a real connection there.  What the heck?  Well, I was in borderline school then, and having learned the lessons, no more settling for fantasies and unreal.
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« Reply #15 on: August 04, 2016, 09:01:48 AM »

FHTH, thank you for another insightful reply!

Moselle, glad you find the topic helpful.  I'm only a beginner at opening doors, so I'm taking what FHTH is saying on board and checking in with  myself and here Smiling (click to insert in post)

We could do worse!
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« Reply #16 on: August 07, 2016, 04:08:49 PM »

Another thing that I've been thinking about that is part of this.

I was away for a few days and met various people. The situation was such that most were passing through and staying around for a day or two. The situation was also such that people were quite relaxed and open and easy and trusting of each other. I noticed myself connecting to people - I'm very good at building rapport quickly - and then checked myself to see how "real" I was being. If I was going about it in my usual way or if I was sharing of myself more calmly and authentically.

I noticed a few things about my interactions, the main one that I am thinking about at the minute is how I had my antennae out for development of these brief connections. I spoke to a friend about it who has done lots of backpacking on her own when she was a little younger and she commented on how, yea, that used to happen all the time when travelling. You'd hook up with someone, spend all your time together going to wherever for a few days, and then just go your separate ways probably never to meet again. This was in the days before all the social media possibilities.

I said how I found it a bit unsettling that if I really found someone interesting and enjoyed talking with them, that it felt natural to me to have curiosity about them and want to continue the conversation. Another part of me enjoyed the freedom and loveliness of people just sharing things about themselves, without any expectation or attachment.

It's just something I noticed myself noticing - my instant desire to continue. Desire is too strong a word. There was something automatic about my sense that having a really interesting exchange should not just end. At the same time, I felt the impulse from a couple of others towards me and easily removed myself from their orbit.

Does this make any sense? These connections are in no way romantic or anything of the kind, just humans talking.

What's going on there, is what I have been asking myself.
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« Reply #17 on: August 07, 2016, 04:50:59 PM »


There was something automatic about my sense that having a really interesting exchange should not just end. At the same time, I felt the impulse from a couple of others towards me and easily removed myself from their orbit.


I also have this ability to connect quickly with someone else. Build rapport. It's vat for sales and deal making Smiling (click to insert in post)

I really like what you are doing here. Connecting and then filtering those who are unsafe. It's sounds very healthy.
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« Reply #18 on: August 07, 2016, 06:04:00 PM »

Thanks, Moselle.

Yes, I am capable of filtering. But I'm more thinking about why I seem to want something more from an exchange if the person particularly appeals to me.

I filter out those that are not safe or those that bore me. Depending on my mood, I can be quite easily bored. I'm probably more stringent in filtering the bores than the ones who are not safe, actually.

I think I am not really trusting myself and am questioning  my  motives in connecting in the first place.

And really I'm asking if it's "better" in some way to have a genuine mini- bonding with someone and be able to leave it at that. Like an almost anonymous gift we can give to a stranger - one where we really have no desire to get anything back, not even another nice chat.

Maybe it's to do with acknowledgement and my wanting to free myself of the need to have it from others and just wanting to give warmly but wisely of myself and have joy in that.     

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« Reply #19 on: August 07, 2016, 06:13:11 PM »

I noticed myself connecting to people - I'm very good at building rapport quickly - and then checked myself to see how "real" I was being. If I was going about it in my usual way or if I was sharing of myself more calmly and authentically.

I noticed a few things about my interactions, the main one that I am thinking about at the minute is how I had my antennae out for development of these brief connections.

It's just something I noticed myself noticing - my instant desire to continue.

What's going on there, is what I have been asking myself.

That's exactly what I've been doing and talking about VC.  I too can BS with anyone, but what are we really saying and does it matter?  And noticing how real I'm being and how it's being interpreted, accepted or not, reciprocated or not.  Human interaction practice, viewed from a kind of detached place at times to get a different viewpoint on what's really going on.  And when I go into blurt mode and am being real and open from the heart I kind of lose that, I go internal in a way, so it's a matter of being selective about who I go there with, something I didn't do in the past.  So point is, it's the noticing, the paying attention to ourselves and whomever, and don't it feel great when all the lights are green and it flows?
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« Reply #20 on: August 08, 2016, 05:22:36 AM »

I want to put these two quotes next to each other because it's in the tangled heart of these ideas that my questions lies. 

Well, we all have politically correct or culturally correct ways to communicate with each other, superficial and light usually, plus we hold onto the idea of trying to be who we're "supposed" to be instead of who we are, yes?

These are the masks, the facades, the different personae we inhabit. We can choose to identify ourselves in a lot of different ways, depending on the context. So sometimes I am defined by my daily work, sometimes by my relationship to someone (daughter, niece, friend, colleague, etc), sometimes by my aspirations for myself, and sometimes the qualities I see or particularly value or don't value about myself. Are there others?

These may all be accurate, again depending on the (external) context. Wouldn't you agree that what I'm calling the "external context" is the different roles we inhabit and these too define us in some way? And to some degree the correct ways of communicating that you refer to is what makes social interaction possible? Speaking to someone in their professional capacity is going to be quite different to speaking to them on a personal level, usually.

We navigate through them in a variety of ways but the key to being authentic is to always be aware of, have access to, and weave in this:

And when I go into blurt mode and am being real and open from the heart I kind of lose that, I go internal in a way... .

How much of our internal selves can be present in our communication, in whatever context we need to be interacting with someone else?

Or is it as simple as being aware of the different roles we have and recognizing that these are separate to our internal selves?
Sometimes, if we're lucky I guess, our roles overlap a lot with our internal selves. If my values include things like connection and I have a role in life that allows me to live that pretty fully, I am going to feel fulfilled and authentic and more alive?  If that same value doesn't get a chance to be expressed or lived in something that I have to spend 8 hours a day working at, I better try to get it somewhere else to ensure I feel real?

I see how these things are important:

a) being aware of one's values
b) feeling gratitude for any areas in my life where I live my values
c) realising that one's identity is comprised of both external roles and internal values
d) checking in on which values are not being fulfilled and finding ways to fulfill that
e) realising that it's at the end of a b c d, is where the communication becomes more authentic

I get confused by the construction of identity - actually a topic I am researching in a professional capacity - and to what degree it is socially constructed. Without social interaction, humans die. There are many different theories of identity; we can look to philosophy, psychology, sociology, spirituality & religion (which crosses over with philosophy but is very different in providing actual schemas and instructions), neuroscience, and more recently computer science (in particular developments in Artificial Intelligence). 

I thought the Brene Brown Ted Talk was interesting as she had a particular approach based on her own discipline, but still, interestingly, arrived at the point of privileging a more internal basis for identity. Would you agree, FHTH, that that is the conclusion she arrived at?

I think my whole project, all my life, has been to understand what identity is. How we construct it. And proceeding from a purely personal, or internal, sense is either not realistic or actually impossible - because we all get our ideas from somewhere, whether scientific literature, self-help books, or popular culture - to name a few. Disentangling the different influences on us, and making sure the method also includes a healthy dose of considering our own personal psychology (family influences etc) is the hard thing.

What do y'all think?








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« Reply #21 on: August 08, 2016, 05:47:56 AM »

Maybe all those musings were a bit much for this board. Sorry, if so. But I hope not Smiling (click to insert in post)

But one more thing I just thought of. We can also split it up this way and, for me, I can put it very simply:

My brain: I just want to develop and do hard work to aquire information, analyze, and understand
My body: I just want to move and dance and feel myself in the world
My emotions: I just want to be loved

But the simplicity is deceptive, of course. Because they are not separate compartments but are instead entirely interrelated and interdependent. We are autopoietic systems. I've got a cool link, for anyone that is interested.


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« Reply #22 on: August 13, 2016, 02:33:20 PM »

Great posts VC, we're a diggin now.  Powerful stuff, and here's my version of things:

An identity is a belief, the most powerful kind, a belief about who we are.  We can have empowering identities (humanitarian, kind person, optimist) or disempowering ones (loser, idiot, dumbass, the inner critic run amok).  And then we've got values, which we've talked about, and getting our identities to align with our values is livin' large; do that consistently and our self esteem will skyrocket.

An example:

Say someone values health, but smokes.  And consider the difference between a behavior and an identity, a behavior being what you do, an identity being who you are.  Smoking is a behavior, and if someone does it once in a while, they may not consider themselves a "smoker" which is an identity, a higher level in the psyche than a behavior.  So if someone identifies as a "smoker" but values health, there's a conflict. And we have an internal drive to stay consistent with who we say we are and what we value, so if there's a conflict between a value and an identity we know it on some level, which erodes our self esteem, and we get really busy with the justifications and rationalizations about how it's somehow OK to be a "smoker" while valuing health.  An easy way is to downgrade the identity to a behavior: "well, I'm not really a smoker, I just do it once in a while."

Now your other topic is roles.  We all play many roles in our lives, and notice the terminology, "play", and it's fruitful to see if our roles are consistent with our identities, again beliefs about who we are.

Examples:

In our professional lives we may have the identity of a professional, which can be a manifestation of living by the values of intelligence, integrity, creativity, whatever, and we can inhabit the role of "professional" without sacrificing any values or the identity.  And if we do some piss poor work that is inconsistent with a value or the identity, it hurts, so we get on it and fix it.

In our roles as a member of a family, things can get stickier.  With my elderly mother, for example, I inhabit the role of Respectful, Loyal Son, even though I just ain't feelin' it, we've never gotten along well, and it's getting worse with age.  So I play that behavior, while retaining my values, but that is not an identity I want, so I play the role.  And it is playing, superficial and light.

And the above focus is internal and isolated from others, a great place to start, but as you mention, to a large extent who we are is who we are in relation to others.  So what if we could inhabit an identity, a belief of who we are, consistent with our values, in relationship with someone, and be completely accepted and encouraged for who we are, and reciprocal?  Nirvana.

So that's where blurt mode comes from for me.  We all have this pure place inside us, and all it takes to get there is to get out of our own way.  It's easy to come from that place, the hard part being stopping ourselves and "being" someone we think we're supposed to be, inhabiting a role, that is appropriate for the context and whomever we're with.  I've been consciously pushing boundaries with all of my existing relationships, and let go of a few as a result, and with new people I meet, when I can get out of the way of my own fear, I just blurt my truth; it's a shortcut to getting real and we find out in a hurry if this is someone we want in our lives or not.  Looking for real connection, because what else it there?  Livin' all the way, because what's the point otherwise... .

Whew!  That was wordy... .
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« Reply #23 on: August 14, 2016, 01:30:58 PM »

So what if we could inhabit an identity, a belief of who we are, consistent with our values, in relationship with someone, and be completely accepted and encouraged for who we are, and reciprocal?  Nirvana.

This is certainly a Nirvana. It seems very simple, so why aren't more people happy in a relationship? I can't think of many people who I would say are delighted to be married.
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« Reply #24 on: August 14, 2016, 03:44:25 PM »

Thank you for a really considered reply, FHTH. I must cogitate on this for a couple of days.

 
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« Reply #25 on: August 14, 2016, 04:55:51 PM »

So what if we could inhabit an identity, a belief of who we are, consistent with our values, in relationship with someone, and be completely accepted and encouraged for who we are, and reciprocal?  Nirvana.
This is certainly a Nirvana. It seems very simple, so why aren't more people happy in a relationship? I can't think of many people who I would say are delighted to be married.

I wasn't talking about intimate relationships and marriage specifically Moselle, just relationships with humans in general, since we're social animals, although I do know quite a few happily married people.  What they have in common, some have told me, some I've just witnessed, is they get fully present with each other and get real, and they stay there, even if it's uncomfortable.  That's it.  Now there has to be a basic compatibility to begin with or that will never happen, but if that's there, and the honeymoon stage is easy, everyone's floating on air, a psychological byproduct of regular sex IMO, but after that, then what?  Does the relationship devolve into unresolved resentments, or identities that shift in diverging directions, and unclear roles or roles conflicts that create tension?  Or all of those?  Whatever, people are all different and relationships sure as hell are, but the good ones?  Partners make time, schedule it even, to be fully present and real with each other.  That's it, and when that happens all the crap goes away, as long as they're still both willing to work on that thing between them called a relationship.

And I've known couples who have done that and chosen to no longer be married too; they parted with no animosity and remain friends, no really, and had decided that they were no longer on a common path, identities, values and roles again, and realized that the best thing for everyone was to part ways.  Beautiful that.  Now that we've graduated borderline school, we can have that kind of relationship too yes?

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« Reply #26 on: August 15, 2016, 09:11:13 AM »

Quote from: fromheeltoheal link=topic=297167.msg12794080#msg12794080

Beautiful that.  Now that we've graduated borderline school, we can have that kind of relationship too yes?


I think it depends on how well we graduate  Smiling (click to insert in post)

I sincerely hope so. Are there any other schools out there which we might be enrolled for without our knowing?

Like VitC, I'm still digesting your previous post. Thanks for sharing this understanding. Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)
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« Reply #27 on: August 16, 2016, 08:40:11 AM »

FHTH, thanks for sharing your insights, they are fascinating!

I wasn't talking about intimate relationships and marriage specifically Moselle, just relationships with humans in general, since we're social animals, although I do know quite a few happily married people.  What they have in common, some have told me, some I've just witnessed, is they get fully present with each other and get real, and they stay there, even if it's uncomfortable.

Is it really this simple, after we can cross the compatibility box?

- BE REAL. I don't seem to have a problem being real. I am open, perhaps too open so I connect and get real fairly quickly. People sense my openness and share openly.

- BE PRESENT. Being present is a challenge for me because I get so obsessed with people, places and things that I am often somewhere else mentally (though I am working hard on this at CoDA).

- STAYING WITH THE DISCOMFORT? I did it this weekend with my children but it is very new experience. I raised some issues around relationships which brought anger and frustration out in my 2 eldest girls. I was able to be vulnerable and also allow them to feel these emotions without my trying to control, or evade them. We sat with them and they passed, whereas before I would have stopped the discussion, or been a bit judgemental/authoritarian. So I'm proud of that  Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)

What about growth? I think I was emotionally compatible with my BPD/NPD ex when we married. I am aware of the inherent mismatch in BPD school Smiling (click to insert in post)

However we were:
1. Both adult children.
2. Both scarred emotionally from abuse/neglect
3. Both looking for a person to fill in the gaps
4. Both in denial about the issues.

So emotional compatibility wise - fairly equal. Where we were not equal however was in growth potential. The rate of change of my identity was far in excess of hers. I was well aware of her shortcomings even in the act of rescuing her from neglectful and abusive parents, but overestimated her ability to grow from that.

I have a female friend at the moment with whom I can compare, and her hunger for growth matches or even exceeds mine. It's incredible to witness someone pulling harder than me at recovery. She's in CoDA dealing with similar issues. But I realise I want someone who wants to grow with me as well.

So I add growth potential to the recipe to sustain a healthy relationship. Of course there is no guarantee that she or I will grow in the same direction, so the potential for a magnanimous split as you described above, is always there.
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« Reply #28 on: August 16, 2016, 12:15:46 PM »

I wasn't talking about intimate relationships and marriage specifically Moselle, just relationships with humans in general, since we're social animals, although I do know quite a few happily married people.  What they have in common, some have told me, some I've just witnessed, is they get fully present with each other and get real, and they stay there, even if it's uncomfortable.

Is it really this simple, after we can cross the compatibility box?

No, it isn't that simple, relationships are challenging, and the good ones rewarding and worth it.  But the relationships that fail, fail because one or both partners didn't stay in it, didn't stay present, didn't stay real, then the relationship becomes a business deal or an arrangement, resentments set in, and intimacy goes out the window.  And staying in it when it's uncomfortable, because we're talking two people here, with potentially differing values, and like you say, different ideas as to which direction to grow, or one is growing and the other isn't, is the challenge; way too easy to throw in the towel and claim incompatibility, when there was basic compatibility but a fear of staying in uncomfortable.  And throw in the ability, or lack of, to problem solve, another factor.  But the successful ones see this thing they've created between them called a relationship as something valuable, to be nurtured and cared for, something that requires work to maintain, but the best kind of work because it's where they go to gain sustenance and grounding.

Excerpt
- STAYING WITH THE DISCOMFORT? I did it this weekend with my children but it is very new experience. I raised some issues around relationships which brought anger and frustration out in my 2 eldest girls. I was able to be vulnerable and also allow them to feel these emotions without my trying to control, or evade them. We sat with them and they passed, whereas before I would have stopped the discussion, or been a bit judgemental/authoritarian. So I'm proud of that  Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)

Nice!  That is awesome Moselle, that's livin' all the way, and the girls benefited from it, as did you.  If you keep that up it will only benefit your relationships with them.

Funny, I don't consider my relationship with my borderline ex to fit anywhere in this conversation, unlike many here.  Our relationship was relatively short, we weren't married and we didn't have kids, and the whole entire thing was a fantasy, one we both steeped ourselves in fully, and when it became undeniably obvious that reality didn't match the fantasy AT ALL, I left.  Done deal, although it wasn't until months later that it became apparent how deep she'd gotten her hooks in, and what she'd gotten her hooks into, which then started this period of growth that continues today.  I was in a bad place when we met, she filled needs at the time, but then, after all the borderline crap, I've swung 180 degrees the other way; if that was definitely NOT an empowering relationship, what is?  Which brings us to VC's thread; it's a brand new world... .
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« Reply #29 on: August 20, 2016, 04:14:56 PM »

... .although it wasn't until months later that it became apparent how deep she'd gotten her hooks in, and what she'd gotten her hooks into, which then started this period of growth that continues today.  I was in a bad place when we met, she filled needs at the time... .

Ok, I am coming back to this, finally. I've got this summary from what you said, FHTH:

Our identities are things we believe about ourselves about who we essentially are
Our behaviours can contribute to or be at odds with those beliefs (which together make up our identities)
Our roles are things we play in life, required (and accepted by us, consciously or unconsciously) by our various social relations (family member, worker etc etc).
Our values are things we prize as being ideals to strive for.

I've now reached the point, and this often happens to me, where it seems more of an intellectual puzzle I'm solving outside of myself. It seems that pretty much everything about ourselves and how we are in the world is something we choose to believe and then, if that's the case, we can also choose to reformat or restructure those beliefs. I get that this is the underpinning of DBT and other therapies, and therefore views of human nature, that we, largely, buy into on this site. It makes sense, because it's practical and puts the power back in the hands of the individual and we are all here to heal from various psychological wounds. There is nothing wrong with that and probably everything right with it.

Maybe the reason this initially sounded exiting is the same reason it sounds a little underwhelming now. This way of configuring the world makes me think it's all in my head and all up to me. That's great, empowering and all that, but if I weave the magic then how can I ever be surprised? I mean, that's one of the big things relationships give us - a whole other magic-weaver that surprises us with their own spells and fantastical worlds. That's brilliant! I love being surprised! I guess I love it so damn much that it doesn't even have to be a delighted brand of surprise, it can be a hideous form of it too and I am so fascinated by what's unravelling before me that I stay to see more.

This might be the drama thing we were talking about earlier on; I think Meili had a nice point there about people with high intensity needs and their often turning to extreme sports as one way to fulfill those.

Bungee jumping, while thrilling, is just never going to give me the same kind of thrill as the discovery of the dense, moist, living jungle of someone else's inner world. And in that inner world, I don't just want to see sunny fields of cornflowers and babbling brooks and blue skies with flitting fluffy clouds. Sorry, but I get bored with that. The shadowy darkness of people is fascinating and beautiful too.

Maybe I'm worried that being a healthy person in the way we speak about it around here has the effect of draining off what's really uniquely interesting about an individual. Who was it that said something about all happy families being alike and all unhappy families being different.  Tolstoy, in Anna Karenina, I just googled it.  It's taken out of context and I can't remember what he meant by it but I guess it stuck in my head for 20 odd years because I interpret it to mean that unhappiness is what makes us unique - it is what shapes us; what kind, when it happened, how it formed us, what we've done with it - all that.

If we get healthy and happy, are we all the same? Boring drones just whittering away about being happy in ourselves and bla bla bla? Smiling (click to insert in post)

There are many wonderful works of art that would never have been created if the creator had had a happy childhood and had good healthy genes. I mean, take Beckett. What a character; what darkness and deeply scary, hysterically funny, and awe-fully sad mindsets he had. If his psychoanalysis in the '40s had "worked", maybe he would have been happier guy and not written a single other word. Instead his particular brand of depression and self-hate expressed itself in sublime language games in thought puzzles on the meaninglessness of life. Although, there was a lot of love in there too, in his later years and later works - a mellowing, I guess.

I don't know what I'm saying, really. I'm trying to figure it out by writing it. I'm not questioning that the main human project is to find happiness, or contentment, or something like either of those states. I know that having a clearer sense of ourselves is indispensable.

Maybe I am questioning how far we can go on our own. I can think I'm "fine", until I encounter the jungle of another mind. That's just another way of saying that we can only experience / feel some things in a relationship, sure. I feel like I'm grasping at something fragile and elusive about what I mean, about something hugely important to me that I've not identified. I am not sure if it's in my list of values - or if it's even a value. I maybe even don't want to find the right word for it, because one word could not possibly do the thing justice. It would be a reduction, not a distillation. There is no way to distill a single essence or particle from something very complex. The thing can only exist as a whole.  I realise this sounds mystical, and maybe it is. I think of it more as the feeling and possibility that poetry engenders. Like shards of glass, each refracting the light, but when you put them all together in a heap on the ground is when they really create a whole world of light.

It is, actually, kind of lonely to think about these things on my own.

I'm going to stop here because I really don't know where I'm going with this.


I put that above in quotes from your post, FHTH, because I was going to ask you: what did she get her "hooks" into? and why did it only become apparent months later? Don't answer if it's no one's business, obviously. 



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