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Saturday, May 25, 2013

Six Word Saturday - Starbucks Eavesdropping

In Emotions vs. Logic, who wins??

"I'm very pro public scenes..."

This was the line that initially caught my attention.  I had been trying to get some work done at a Starbucks downtown, waiting to meet up with my cousin after work.  It had become almost impossible to stay focussed on my own laptop while the angry vulgarities of what I can only assume to be a woman once scorned flew out from behind her MacBook and landed squarely between me and my mine.  She seemed to be one half of a problem-solving (or exacerbating....you be the judge) session with a friend who was on the other end of the phone call.  I couldn't hear the specifics of the issue they were discussing, but what I could hear piqued my interest.

"He's all about talking in private.  He won't say anything in public.  He'll just sit there and stare at his laptop, shaking his leg, but when he get's home he f***ing rips you apart on Facebook."

I had to look up. Ooh...she's gesticulating!

"I don't want to tell you what to do....because I'm a woman who likes to be chased.  I like a reaction.  If I'm mad and you don't give me the reaction I want, I'm gonna just keep poking at you and keep it up until you react. So, I don't want to tell you to do something and then it ends up being bad advice."

The first rational thing I had heard all conversation.

20 minutes later she had moved the conversation out of earshot, but not so far that I had lost sight of waving arms and pacing around the general vicinity.  She was amped up.

This isn't the first time I've experienced first- (or second-) hand, the emotional response to conflict that is often stereotypically attached to the female approach.  Men are logical. Women are emotional.  This is what we are often socialized to believe....and there are definitely individuals who fit the mould.  (I'd like to submit the raging Starbucker as Exhibit A) A lot of my male friends have attributed this emotional lens as the source of much conflict and stress within their relationships.  It got me to thinking about the bar fights, basketball court fights and hockey fights men get into with each other and I realized that it isn't that men aren't emotional, their emotions just come out differently.  The Starbucker's conflict wasn't that her friend's partner was unemotive, it was that he chose to emote in a virtual public forum instead of an actual public place.  What initially seem to be a lack of an emotional response (perhaps even logical) was just a delayed emotional response.

So are men really all that much more logical, in general?  Are we all just emotional creatures with feelings manifesting in different ways at different times? And when it comes to the battle between logic and emotions, in the end do emotions ever really win??


Play alongs with Call me Cate and all her friends each week as we embark on 6WS....hop on over to her blog. (She'll tell you how to get in on the action!!)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Manic Monday - TSC's Hierarchy of Needs

An exercise I was once given in counselling was to create something of a visual representation of my needs/wants in a partner.  It was something akin to Maslow's hierarchy of needs - on the bottom were the non-negotiables, the things that  I could not live without and would not overlook to assess if additional characteristics were present.  The next tier would be the less critical things, but still highly important.  And on and on until we reach the smallest, top section which would have traits that were desirable but not deal-breakers.  I completed this activity over a year ago, amid the ruckus that was that time and I thought I would revisit it now to see if anything has changed.

(Note: Last time I did this exercise, I learned just as much about me as I was setting limits and parameters for what I would and would not accept.  It was quite a handy tool!)

Give it a try....what are your needs?


TSC's Hierarchy of Needs 2013

Bottom Tier (i.e. initial Deal-breakers):
Respectful | Kind | Ambitious | Emotionally Stable | Christian | Single |Supportive | Accepting of my child | Open/Willing to talk | Intelligent | Thoughtful  |Sense of Humour | Wants to get married eventually | Friendly | No Drugs

Second Tier (i.e. Important and to be assessed early on):
Gentle | Smart | Self-aware | Strong communication skills | Desire to communicate/problem-solve | Social | Affectionate | Attends church | Family-oriented | Empathetic | Educated | Funny | Wants Children | Willing to wait for sex | Balanced (together time/own life) | Responsible | Mature | Confident

Third Tier (i.e. Semi-negotiable, but highly desirable):
Romantic | Punctual | Adventurous | Spontaneous | Wants to travel | Reads | Open to adopting children | Tries new things | Fights fair* (*Note: "Fight's fair" isn't negotiable per se, however, it is on the third tier because I imagine needing to be somewhat involved to really have a blow up in which this skill can be demonstrated)

Top Tier (i.e. icing on the cake):
Sensual | Active | Handsome | Tall

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Reclaiming My Smile

I've always been afraid to be too nice to people for fear of sending the wrong message.  I didn't want anyone to think I was naive or vulnerable, nor did I want to give off an "I'm interested" vibe when I was only being friendly.  So, I kept things pretty neutral...or at least I thought I was. Instead I was communicating (and yes, this is actual feedback) "scary," "serious," "tough," "stuck-up," "bully," and "mean." But it served its purpose - people kept their distance.  But...that meant that when I wanted to get close to people, I had to go above and beyond to disprove the reputation of coldness that I had established.  There were many ways that I was able to accomplish that - not all of which were the healthiest or most productive choices for me.
Then I discovered something, I could be nice to people just to be....nice. How liberating!!

Ok, Single Chick....what the hell is the point of you writing about this?

I had to remind myself about this lesson learned in high school recently.  My last romantic relationship was very abusive. I had become accustomed to averting my eyes from contact with strangers, keeping my socialization to a minimum and my conversations brief, and always avoiding any undue friendliness that could be misread (by anyone) as "flirting."  So ingrained in my was this mindset, that even after we broke up, I didn't realize that I had forgotten to reestablish my default facial expression to a smile.  It took months of introspection (and psychotherapy) to reconnect with my genuine joy and find ways for that to be communicated.  And I remembered again while I was travelling recently.  The customs officer asked my travelling companion if I am "always that serious." A security guard told me that I "should try to have fun and smile more." Even just walking down the street in New York I heard a man comment that he bets that "there's a smile under there somewhere."  Each time I heard the comment I had to remember that my smile is meant to be shared and shone.

And let me tell you...once I started to not only enjoy the city and the people, but to lead with my social spirit, I had a blast!!  I met some amazing New Yorkers (who, I might add, are some of the friendliest people I've met on this earth....)  I'm so glad I didn't miss it!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

New York, Old Me - 6WS

Always discern your voice from others'

I just spent the last five days in the city that never sleeps.  It was my first time there, so of course I wanted to do some of the obligatory touristy things - Central Park, Times Square, Rockefeller Plaza....I did much more walking than sleeping for sure.  It was pretty amazing....but not for the reasons that I thought.

I found myself in a quaint restaurant on the Lower East Side, chatting with two of my girlfriends about relationships, challenges, lessons and choices.  I was explaining my pattern of people-pleasing and acquiescence and throughout the conversation, found myself returning to the phrase "I don't even know what I want anymore."  All of a sudden, one of the women I was with snapped, "Stop saying that you don't know.  You DO know! You know what you want for everything else in your life...it's the same voice, it's just talking to you about something else."

So maybe it isn't so much that I don't know what I want as much as I have to learn to listen harder to be able to recognize my own voice amongst the many others I have trained myself to listen to and listen for.

The sound probably hasn't changed as much as I think it has...


Play 6WS along with Call me Cate at Show My Face by clicking on the button below....

Monday, May 6, 2013

Just to clarify...

When I decided to start this blog, I did it because I know that many of my failed romantic relationships (and sometimes even friendships) have been unsuccessful because of what I have brought to the table. And yes, eventually I would like one of these whirlwind romances to withstand the hurricane and settle into a gentle, sustainable breeze. What I didn't realize in all my self-exploring glory, was how this quest to get my poop in a group (to get my s**t together) may be viewed as an intense husband-search project.

Let me assure you....that ain't it.

Ultimately, yes, I'd like to be a part of a partnership. But right now, and through this blog, I just want to - no, I need to - do ME. I need to watch the game film of my relational life (the highlights and the blooper reel) and assess the attitudes and actions that have me where I am today - single, a little emotionally bruised, a not-so-hopeless romantic and many dreams deferred for those who didn't deserve it.

If anything, I'm realizing just how far away I am from being alter-ready....

...now I just need to figure out what to do with all of that info.

Hope that clears things up!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Six Word Saturday

Haven't seen any job postings yet...

I have just completed the first exercise of my will-be blog-chronicled experiment/journey - my relationship resume.  And just like the first time you exercise any major muscle group, I am feeling the burning fatigue of hard work. It's not so easy, I realized, to take a real look at my assets as well as the areas I still need to work on. I had to dig through some tough memories to figure out the positive I am carrying forward with me and what mouldy old baggage I need to leave behind.  With that exploration came the acknowledgement that I have indeed carried some of my old stuff along from relationship to relationships, leading me to (a) expect the worst, (b) settle for less than I wanted or (c) contribute to the unhealthy dynamics I have often found myself in.  "Hurt people hurt people" is a common addage for a reason - and I think it's just as fair to say that broken people are often drawn to other broken people.  I know that I often recognized the brokenness in my suitors and tried to be their fixer (word to the wise, folks - this is not a good place to build from).  I used my Social Work skills not as a partner, but as a counsellor. I allowed people to work their stuff out on me...and guess what?  Many of them took the opportunity and are better off for it.  As for me - I have some insight, plenty of what-not-to-do stories, and (thankfully) a clearer idea of what I will not stand for.  The key is to remember that lesson when days turn into very long, lonely nights and fun weekends with the girls stack up into months without the companionship I crave.

As for the result of my experiment....the resume is below.  Not quite ready to submit it for consideration....but maybe one day! ;)

The Single Chick (Resume)

To fulfill my role as helpmeet, mother and virtuous woman in a powerful marriage partnership with an influential man of God
Girlfriend, The Jamerican 2001-2006
Gained invaluable practical experience in negotiation, compromise and effective communication. Developed ability to integrate into various social circles and build rapport with family and friends.  Experienced true vulnerability and honesty in a reciprocal relationship. Nurtured a child through the pregnancy, labour and delivery process. Readjusted expectations through transition from role of girlfriend to fiancĂ© and mother. Parted ways and manage to maintain an amicable co-parenting friendship.
Almost Girlfriend, The Athlete 2007-2008
Performed duties of girlfriend (commitment, support, encouragement) without insisting on reciprocated exclusivity or a defined title.  Attended sporting events, integrated with social circle and spent countless hours of quality time with friends, family and one-on-one in various settings.  Developed an appreciation for being spoken to with respect.  Equally developed an understanding of the importance of being at the same emotional place as a partner.  Was able to part ways when need for exclusivity became paramount and could not be guaranteed.  Maintained platonic friendship for many years post-romantic involvement.
Female companion (not otherwise specified), The Player 2008-2009
Performed duties of a girlfriend under a non-disclosure clause and without definitive language surrounding relationship status.  Supported “partner” though emotional trauma stemming from external relationship. Provided benefit-of-the-doubt advantage in doubtful scenarios. Maintained professional interactions when paths crossed for work purposes, both during and after tenure in this role.   
Fiancé, The Controller 2010-2012
Further developed skills of compromise. Subordinated own wants and needs to that of partner. Honed ability to compartmentalize conflict and resolve privately. Integrated partner and child into a cohesive unit.  Supported partner though multiple lay-offs and financial hardship.  Was able to identify increasingly abusive patterns (verbal, emotional, financial, physical) and seek support for self and partner individually and as a couple. Developed ability to assess risk and end engagement despite potential negative social impact. Isolated self from social supports to reduce conflict in these relationships regarding partner.  Redefined standards for future partners.
Friend, The Professor 2012-present
Learning new process of healthy social interaction.  Established and tested boundaries for physical intimacy. Willing to share appropriate amounts of personal information. Maintains awareness of expectations related to respect, communication, honesty and acceptance.  Breaking pattern of reading more into friendship than is there.  Keeping options and lines of communication as exclusivity has not been communicated from either party.  Enjoying the process, continuing to discover myself. 
Formal: College Diploma in Social Services field, completing Liberal Arts Degree currently
Informal: Girlfriends, Exes and Every-Mistake-I’ve-Ever-Made — B.A. in Realistic Expectations and sobering self-awareness

Ambition- founder and CEO of youth charity
Nurturing and Caring - as demonstrated in role of friend, mother and (formerly) partner
Self-Improvement - actively and consistently engaged in formal and informal venues of self-improvement
Spontaneity- Known to jump on stage during audience participation or plan a road trip on a whim
Observation and Intuition - intentional in attempts to assess partners' needs and communication style
Sense of Humour - easily laughs at self, slightly sarcastic, rolls with the punches, appreciative of intelligent and/or organic humour (a la Dave Chappelle or Vince Vaughn)
Conflict Management - aware of conflict style, prefers to deal with conflict to a resolution rather than avoid it

Contact any one of my exes, married male friends or girlfriends....they’ll vouch for the journey, the highs and the oh-so-lows on the way to this ever-evolving level of self-awareness


Play along with Six Word Saturdays at Show My Face by clicking on the cute little button (that's cute as a button).