4/04/2014

My Discernment is Unreliable

I saw my counselor today; the same one S and I were seeing when we were together.  It felt great to share some residual feelings I had from when S and I were stuck and fighting, as well as the final rounds of processing we did and insights we had.

Two of the main ones that I don't think I shared here were that:  One,  I agreed with S that, yes, I do have an edge around being sympathetic when my partner is whining or being pitiful (ok those are totally judgmental words showing my lack of sympathy. ha).  I want to grow in this area and be "softer" and more responsive and loving when my partner is feeling small. Two, at a certain point a few months before we broke up, he GAVE up and, when we were fighting, he wasn't coming from a place of love and trying to reconnect. He was just fighting, and this felt so painful and crazy-making.

I'm well over the relationship and moved on, but it was good to share these insights with someone who knows us both and is compassionate.

Looking ahead, we talked about some initial guidelines to follow as I am dating and getting closer to someone, to help me discern if they are available and capable of the type of relationship and intimacy I want.  She mentioned that feeling "familiar" is different than feeling "comfortable," and that we can feel a person or situation is familiar when it resembles a situation from childhood, even if that situation carried anxiety or insecurity.  Concrete guidelines I might use to reflect on a new dating relationship might include asking the following questions:
  • Can I be myself?  Do I feel comfortable expressing the different parts of who I am?
  • Does he want me to "shine"?  Is he excited about, and supportive of, my success and development?
  • Does the relationship feel mutual? Is he meeting me in the middle or showing willingness to try?  Is he willing to work with me to meet my needs within the relationship, as well as his own?
  • When we "fight" or when he is expressing unhappiness with me or something I did, is there a sense that underneath it all he cares about/loves me and wants to get through the difficulty and return to feeling close?
It feels good to have initial guidelines I can use to back up my own decision-making process, which to be honest, I don't completely trust.  I am afraid of ending up in a painful and loveless relationship for any length of time again.  I don't think I ever could, with the consciousness I have now about how that happened with S - including my coping mechanism of shutting down emotionally, which I think contributed to our being stuck as long as we were.  I still feel some fear and shakiness around it, however, and so appreciate having some concrete "checks and balances."

7 comments:

  1. These are great insights, Kristine! I like how you explained "familiar" vs "comfortable" and can clearly see that I too was stuck in my marriage due to feelings of being familiar. Your questions are ones that we all need to ask ourselves when in a relationship. Thanks for sharing! I really think this is good way for you to move forward.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Sunflower, I appreciate your supportive words. It feels good to know I'm not alone in having stayed in something that was maybe familiar but wasn't the loving connection I wanted and needed - though I'm sorry you experienced that.

      Delete
  2. It sounds like this was a great session and will hopefully help you move forward in a healthier way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope so! Thanks for the kind words.

      Delete
  3. It sounds like it was a good session. :-) I agree with Sunflower that I probably also stayed in my marriage out of familiarity (and fear).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! Thanks. :) And thanks for sharing that you stayed in a less than comfortable or loving situation, too. I'm sorry you went through that. I hope we both find a more loving, close relationship.

      Delete
  4. Your counselor is right about familiarity and comfort. Sometimes, people would rather be stuck on doing the same things everyday with minimal payoff for fear of changing anything and starting over again. Getting a grip of the difference should teach you that what you had done was right. Going to a counselor was a right move, as it gives us rationality on what we had done and what else to do. Take care!
    Grace Tomas-Tolentino @ CoreTherapyAssoc.com

    ReplyDelete