Disappointing Trip Report - Part II

For some reason, I am not so excited to tell the rest of this story. . . but I feel I should in case anyone is wondering how the trip unfolded (it went on for another several days until last Friday).  And to capture it for posterity.

Soooo, after R dropped his little bomb, I became very upset and started packing my clothes, asking him to book me the next flight out.  It was high drama:  me crying and pulling clothes off hangers, stuffing them in the suitcase, shrugging off his attempt to comfort me, demanding that he get me the next flight.

When he eventually complied, I had one of those moments where you are struck with such undeniable clarity, do you know what I mean?  I KNEW I was not going to get on that plane, that I literally could not get on that plane.  And when I came to that conclusion, a calm washed over me:  I'm sure in part due to feeling some control over a very out of control situation, but also because I really think it was the right thing to do.  Because until that point, R was emotionally shut down, but after that?  Complete and utter shock, anger, shaking, heart palpitations. . . and I know this sounds heartless but it felt really good for him to engage emotionally in some way, even if it was negative.  Anyway, after some further back and forth and ugliness, he left.  Later, he confessed he slept in the car that night.

After he left, I felt upset but also calm and still like it was the right thing.  Very strange.  I tried to contact him the next day but he did not respond, though he actually came home very early in the morning to shower (he stayed at his friend's house).

The following day, I wrote him an email apologizing for my part of things, addressing extenuating circumstances (such as this triggering our time together before when he 'pulled the rug out' from under our relationship, family emotions, drinking, pms, etc.).  He wrote saying he appreciated the email but could not deal with things right now, felt horrible, admitted he just wanted to run away.  I said I understood but I still hoped he would talk to me.

The following morning when he came home to shower, I got up and talked to him in a half-asleep stupor.  It seemed like he kind of expected me to do that.  It actually felt good to talk to him, though we did agree I would confirm a plane reservation for the following day.

He came home that night and we talked for a couple hours further.  Some good understanding emerged, including that when I express a feeling or concern, I am not looking to hurt or punish him, or for him to fix it.  Most often, I just want understanding and empathy.

A light bulb clicked on for me when he talked about HOW I bring up a concern; i.e. first distancing and then talking in a cool, critical tone.  He said there are other ways to get his attention and demonstrated keeping connection, warmth, physicality.  Very interesting and useful information for me, as he is not the first person to feel picked at or criticized by the way I communicate feelings.  He in particular seems affected by my frustration/criticism because of many years with an ex-wife who was, in his perception, often disappointed with him.

Long story short, he stayed at home that night and we left on a good note, if you can believe it.  Both said we loved each other, and that we were going to take time to process and then talk on the phone. . . .which we did today!

It went really well and we are going to continue to explore things.  This might sound insane after what I just described, but I really do love him and know he loves me.  We both agreed to work on things - he said he was going to try and be more open with what he is thinking and feeling, instead of coming to big conclusions on his own, and I said I would not pressure him to talk (process, discuss deeper issues) if he wasn't in a good place to talk.  He admitted he is less sensitive when he is drinking or the next morning and that was a factor over the weekend.

So we shall see.  The kid issue continues to hang out there and I will write more on this in my next post.  Thus ends my dramatic trip saga!


Disappointing Trip Report - Part I

I'm back from my fairly disappointing trip up North.

Sipping wine and, I'm sad to say, smoking a few cigarettes this afternoon (I am prone to do this occasionally at times of emotional stress).

The wedding was lovely.  Everything came together as far as my dress, my toast, my poem reading, and standing up - proudly - for my brother.  The wedding activities and wedding came off beautifully, without any major difficulties.  It felt so good to be there for my brother at the rehearsal and just prior to the ceremony and hear his thoughts, give him some sisterly advice to be in the moment, drink water, etc.  I love my brother so much and hope he is incredibly happy with his new bride.

The situation with R on the other hand. . . well, let's say it did NOT unfold as hoped or planned.

The night prior to him driving down for the weekend from Washington, after I had already arrived in Oregon, he dropped out of communication.  I tried to text and call but no R.  I wanted to figure out some plans for the next day, confirm when he was driving down, etc., but could not reach him.  I called Friday morning and he was on his way driving down.  Tension arose when I asked him about where he was the night before and why didn't he check his phone or communicate with me.  He got angry and felt I was unfairly giving him the second degree (this was after telling me he had gone out with a friend to a bar and lost track of time).  He called back later and apologized and when he arrived in town, things seemed to be okay and start well as we picked up my stuff from my sister's and headed to the hotel.

The rehearsal and dinner that evening all flowed well and I felt fairly close to him, although there was a moment during dinner where he talked about my sister and feeling like he wanted to "take care of her" and like she had a lot on her mind or something, which didn't sit well with me.  Perhaps I was feeling some distance between us and this added to the insecurity that already comes up for me around my family.  He did not understand my feelings and thought I was being weird.

Later, some of us went over to the hotel bar and at that point I was starting to feel uncomfortable.  I am no longer a big party person, though in the past (college and a few years past - including the time when I was first with him) I was right there with the most hard core of them all.  He was definitely in the swing of the party, and I felt he was more tuned into drinking than to me.

We did have a wonderful moment where we found a piano and he played, while I dance to the music.  Wonderful.  And others noticed and thought it was cool.  But when we came back to the bar area, the core group had left to go to a bar and it felt to me like we had "missed the wave."  I was kind of done truthfully and wanted to just let the night end there, but R was still energized and ready to go.

We went back to the room and I collapsed on the bed (relevant information: I recently started taking an anti-depressant for PMDD and this exaggerates some effects of alcohol).  He was on a roll and quickly changed his clothes to go out and join them.  I did not like this.  It felt strange that he has just met these people and had said he was coming for the wedding to be there for me, yet he was going to leave me and join the others.  He left but came back not long after, bringing me a diet pepsi and seeming somewhat contrite.

The next morning, I was feeling some residual funkiness from the night before and tried to talk about it with him over breakfast, but he got really irritated and was hinting that he had doubts about our compatibility, which of course I asked him directly about as is my way.  He said yeah, maybe so or something, which sent me into upset and crying.  This all seems so silly and dramatic describing it by the way. . .

Anyway, the day progressed, tea bags on the eyes, retraction of what he said, dressing, beautiful wedding ceremony and then reception.  During the reception, I noticed he was tracking my sister around the room with his eyes and smiling a little, which triggered my insecurity (my sister is 7 years younger, thinner, the favorite of my parents).  I prefaced things with saying I was worried he would be mad and that I just needed reassurance, my own insecurity, etc., and directly communicated my feelings, again, as is my way.  He got really mad and said something like "leave me alone," so I left our table and went and hung out, ironically, with my sister and my niece.  A while later, I came back and we made up and he admitted he could have made the choice just to reassure me, he just didn't understand my feelings or whatever.  We went on to have a really fabulous time dancing together.

The rest of the reception went well but somehow - and I admit that I am part of this decision as my cousins were pressuring me to stay - we ended up with the late night crowd.  We actually were fairly connected during all this but I definitely had some judgment around his drinking and also lack of content or depth to our conversations. . . anyway, things went okay until the next morning when he got mad again when I tried to tell him that I didn't feel comfortable with something.  When I looked back on things, it was like he developed a hair trigger and just immediately felt irritated whenever I brought up any feelings.  It sucked.

We went to the brunch at my parents, visited my grandparents (which was great and really wonderful he came with me for that - meant a lot to me and my grandmother who is suffering from dementia), then drove up to Washington.  The drive was fairly disconnected, to say the least.

The next day, he went to work early and when he got back, after shopping, we "checked in," and he told me again that he did not think it was going to work.  Really?  After a crazy family wedding weekend, filled with emotion and drinking?  You are going to make that kind of big picture judgment NOW?  I was clearly extremely upset and shocked, though maybe I should not have been looking back at the weekend. . . to be continued.


Heart vs. Head

Update from Limboland, the land of uncertain futures.  I realized today that my heart has made a decision it wants to move up to be with R in Washington, but my head is thinking, "That is way too fast, are you crazy girlfriend?!"  
I am feeling some vulnerability and fear around the situation tonight.  I know that I love R.  We have been talking a couple hours almost every day.  He makes me laugh, we talk in depth about everything, he gets me and vice versa.  
But I still don't know whether we can align our intentions around having children and also, I sometimes feel like we are on different wavelengths regarding spirituality and personal growth.  He definitely is not as passionate about approaching these topics in structured ways, such as through books, articles, classes, etc.  

He's been willing to try Interplay Theatre with me at home and we did a breathing meditation together today.  He read an article on relationships that I sent him.  He says he is open to learning and growing, but that it may happen in small increments over time and he's asked me if I can be patient.  Of course I said yes, but I admit that it is challenging sometimes to always be the leader in these areas.  Ideally, he would engage and initiate more, show more enthusiasm.

Overall, though, our conversations are fun and flow freely.  I can be myself.  It may sound a little insane, but there is a sense that we belong together.

I am preparing to leave for my brother's wedding on Thursday - I found a great dress at Nord.strom! - and then to visit R for a week.  Ironically, I received two calls for Bay Area interviews in the last week:  one for Friday when I will be out of town, which they said they could not reschedule; and one which the voicemail said could be either for tomorrow or Thursday after I leave.

The latter I may go ahead and do tomorrow if I can reach her in the morning, but honestly I am feeling torn about it.  It's for the job with the homeless shelter, one I'm less than confident about, but also my energy wants to focus on being with R and finding a job up there (can energy "want" something? anyway. . .).  

What should I do?  I have applied for a few jobs up there already, just to hopefully create options, but haven't gotten any callbacks yet.  R has made it clear he wants me up there with him, though his head sometimes comes up with questions, as well.

I don't know how much longer I can feel torn between my heart and head like this. . . hopefully this trip will help me bring them both in line.


Wedding Prep and 7-11 Run or "Just Breathe"

My brother's wedding is in 11 days and I am NOT ready for it.  The dress I ordered at the end of January has still not arrived, and when I finally got ahold of someone at the online store yesterday they informed me that it was highly unlikely it would arrive prior to my departure date next Wednesday.

Aaargh!  Then why did your system let me place the order with an event date for which you could not deliver?  She said she would pass on the information to a manager and they would get back to me, but I'm not holding my breath.

The good news is that since I am the only "groomswoman,"  I could wear something slightly different and it wouldn't make that much of an impact; and I know my brother doesn't really care because he told me so.  I have already contacted local reps at Nord.strom who are researching alternative strapless black bridesmaid-type dresses.  Wish me luck!

In addition, I feel as one of the sister's of the groom I should make at least one speech. . .something I want to do because I love my brother, but which also makes me nervous!  I haven't thought anything through yet and need to focus on this task asap, as well as rehearsing for a (shortened) poem reading I will deliver during the ceremony.

My brother's fiance chose the poem by Sandol Stoddard Warburg, the several-stanza longer version can be found here (she cut the throwing up and broken arm part for some reason).  What do you think?  My brother likens it to a children's book, and I can see why.  I've heard it before and actually like it, though it's longer than I would prefer.  To feel comfortable, I'm thinking I should read it through at least 25 times, which averages 2+ times per day until the wedding.  Message to self: "Get on it, Kristina!!!"

R's presence at the wedding will be a stabilizing and comforting thing for me.  He is now coming Friday and will attend the rehearsal dinner, as well as the wedding.

He will meet my family (and distract me from potential sadness around my father).  He will stand by me, sit next to me, and dance with me.  He will be MY date, my partner throughout the weekend events, which will significantly enrich my experience and increase the fun.  My sister's wedding sort of sucked for me in many ways due to the absence of said partner - but that is another story.

Obviously, this is my brother's special day, and my focus will be on being there for him in any way I can.  I actually hope and believe that R will help me do a better job in that role.

Maybe due to the wedding or maybe due to the possibilities floating around out there of significant life change on the horizon, my anxiety level has been fairly high the last couple of days.  My spontaneous trip to 7-11 and the fiery Chex Mix and Skor bar I consumed lend evidence to this fact!  I am actually looking forward to going running today so expel some of that excess energy.

And I realized yesterday that I can choose to release control over how a situation or conversation unfolds and just focus on breathing and staying open.  It felt good to succeed in achieving that goal.


The Adventure Continues

I have not felt like posting for some reason.  I think my mind has been consumed with processing R's visit and continuing to talk to him about our time together and about our potential looking into the future.  Also, he decided to come to my brother's wedding - yay! - so we have been making plans for that weekend.

Overall, the visit went very well, especially considering we hadn't seen each other in 15 years and basically lived together for several days.  I have been spending most of my time lately alone so it's quite a shift to be together with someone 24/7!  Can anyone else relate to this?

We laughed a lot, had many talks, went out to eat a couple of times, made meals and danced together, walked in the neighborhood, and even laid out on the deck in the sun during a couple of sunny days.  I was pleasantly surprised at the ease I found sleeping with him.  In the past, sleeping in the same bed with people has tended to be extremely challenging, waking up frequently, feeling a lot of tension and alertness and sometimes even moving out to the couch.  With R, I did wake up a couple times each night but generally felt very comfortable and enjoyed the experience.  And we actually did not immediately become intimate but went through what felt like a getting reacquainted period and took things a step at a time.

The major conversation about "having a child" came up midway into the trip.  It was good and bad.  At first, it seemed he was clear he did not want another child.  He has had a vasectomy.  He talked about his other kids being older now and being in a difference place.  We lamented about what different lives we have led up to this point.

But eventually we talked things through to a place where we found a light in the idea of adoption.  He is open to this.  I am open to this.  There is hope in that place.  I was very clear that I need to be a mother in some way, that I need to fulfill my longing for motherhood and all that role entails.  He knows the biological desire hasn't gone away, and I'm sure we will talk again if we come to the place of committing to being together.  But for now we both want to continue to get to know each other and are choosing to trust that we can work it out and consider each other's needs equal to our own.

One difference that did make itself known as the trip progressed was our different "engagement" or consistent connection needs.  He shared that he had not communicated a lot with his previous girlfriend - that they had started out that way but it had waned.  So maybe that is an adjustment factor for him. . .also, I know that in past relationships I have noticed an anxiety come up in me at times that manifests in an agitation or nervous provocation of the person.  It's hard to describe, but I think it's challenging for me to completely relax in another person's presence at times.  It's easier if I am involved in an activity myself or with them or if we are in some way physically connected/touching.  I'm sure it has to do with my dad who was so in his own bubble a lot of the time.

Anyway, this came up a bit with R and we talked about it.  Had some positive insights about how helpful it is when I communicate how I'm feeling when it comes up versus letting it build (love that he encourages me to communicate in this way), how important my own "soulful" activities such as dance and InterPlay are to maintain, and how I want us to share a spiritual practice, which I am researching for us to try out later this month.  Lots of stuff!  Compacted into a few days.

I am appreciating how we are processing things on the phone since he left and continuing to grow closer.  We say we love each other now.  We are talking more about me moving up there, though we have not made that decision and are waiting until after this next trip.  I can see how this all might sound completely insane in terms of timeline,  but we did have a couple years together before and all that feeling and more is coming back.  We both seem to be increasingly excited about each other and the possibility of being together.  So we will see.

The next step is the wedding on the 19th during which he will meet my family for the first time.  Then, I head up to Tacoma to stay at his place for a week and meet his children, brothers, and father (his mother passed away last year).  He will be working four days, which I actually think is a good thing, allowing us to experience a more normal way of being together.

Looking forward to our continued adventure. . . freaking out just a little bit.