If all first dates could be like the one I had with myself there may not be many second dates to be had. But dating would be way more productive on a personal growth level.
I left the table with 5 pages of notes. Notes. We uncovered so much stuff I had to step over it all when I rose to clear the dishes. It flowed down the hall and led us to our room. We crawled into bed, stomach full, head dizzy, heart open and aching to be held. So I literally wrapped my arms around myself and whispered sweet everythings into my own ear.
It was a beautiful evening. But the next day I had to clean up.
I took the notes and got in the car. Destination: Limantour Beach. I needed to be on the sand, with the rainy-season green hills, peppered by evergreens, rising behind me and the Pacific meeting my gaze. I huddled up against the dunes and steadied my notes against the wind.
Holy arachnid, I thought. I’ve got a lot to work on. From being too rigid to being too critical to being too focused on the needs of others, out of compassion, but also as a way to not focus on myself. I flipped through the pages of notes and wondered how we managed to eat while simultaneously regurgitating all my flaws and failings. And then my eyes were immediately drawn to a line on the lower third of page two:
You put me on a pedestal.
The Genius said that very sentence, meant as a criticism of me, on a few occasions. Probably three. Twice while I thought we were in a marriage and once when I came to know that our marriage was a sham. The comment never made sense to me. You’d think he’d be stoked to be placed on a pedestal. That he would appreciate the attention, the adoration.
I gasped, swallowing wind and sand. That’s not what I did. I completely missed his point.
The Genius is right when he says, “We don’t speak the same language”. What he meant and what I thought he meant were two different things. What he meant was that I expected too much of him on all levels. I tossed him up on a pedestal and he couldn’t stick the landing. I expected him to nail that landing every single time, and when he didn’t I tough-loved him all the way. Sometimes that works, and sometimes they run back to Mommy. He ran. To his new Happy Dancing Mommy.
But enough about him. I was intrigued by how this seemed to play out in other areas of my life. Most notably my inability to deal with weakness. It’s a problem. This coming from a girl who would pass out or vomit at the sight of an eight-legged beast. And by beast I mean anything larger than the nail on my pinkie.
Since my Dad died, or more likely since birth, I have had a real hard time handling my weaknesses or those of other people. I don’t like being in hospitals (sick = weak), I don’t like hearing people continuously lament their lot in life (woe is me = weak), or shredding their own being (I’m not good enough to… = weak). I also don’t handle shy people well. I turn my hands to the sky, shrug my shoulders and walk away. I simply don’t know how to be myself around the shys. If the shys had to battle the Shaqs for food the Shaqs would win. I have some rather large part of me that needs to be with the Shaqs. (Never in a million years did I think I would write that a large part of me needs to be with Shaq.) It must be the part of me that wants to survive.
My thoughts turned to Mr. Jackpot. We had a rough week. My upbeat nature collided with his current tendency to see only that which sucks. He typically calls me in the evening to check in, and it’s something I look forward to. Outside of family and a few close friends on the East coast, I don’t have someone who checks in on me. Barbie with Brains, The Rooster (more on her later), and Mr. Jackpot are the non-blood relations that keep close tabs on me. And I am forever grateful to them. But as the week wore on we wore on each other. I desperately wanted him to see the positive side of things and he wanted to sit with the negative.
I haven’t given you much of the back story on his tale of woe. It’s time. Met a girl, fell in love. After five years of dating he proposed. She said yes. One would think that she had been clued in to the commonly held belief that an engagement leads to a marriage. Usually with the person to whom you have become engaged. One would think.
After fulfilling the role of the fiance for five years, Mr. Jackpot woke up and realized that everything he had envisioned in and around this relationship was a mirage. He wants to be married. She didn’t. He wants to have children (like really, really wants children). She didn’t. He wants to explore, journey, marvel at a blue heron eating a fish and at a South Park episode with equal enthusiasm. She didn’t. (I have to pause…who cannot love Stan, Kyle, Kenny and Cartman? I mean, I am a polished woman but they reduce me to a laughing/crying mess.) So now he’s 10 years in to this relationship and it’s going nowhere good.
“I don’t want children,” she says.
He thinks, Sweet. If you could have let me know 10 years ago I could have actually lived my life. Thanks for the heads up.
As you can imagine, we both have ample reason to be deeply wounded. Sharks circling kind of wounded. But that doesn’t work with my anti-weakness bent. So I put on my cheerleader outfit and grabbed my pom-poms and went at him.
“You have so much to be grateful for. Why are you so focused on what you thought your world was going to look like instead of appreciating what it is, right here, right now? You need to build upon what is working in your life.”
“Yea. Um, I’m gonna go.”
It couldn’t have been clearer to me if someone painted it on my eyeballs. If I have an issue with being weak, so be it. But I really have to tone it down when others need to explore their weaknesses. How can I be vulnerable and expect others to be vulnerable if I immediately want to step in and FIX, FIX, FIX? What I perceive as a good deed is actually perceived as a critical assessment. In this case, the assessment suggests that Mr. Jackpot fell off the pedestal I placed him on.
Here we go again…
I have GOT to stop doing THAT!
I can see this clearly because of one person: Mr. Jackpot. The biggest payoff so far in our relationship is that he is teaching me to not fear flaws or weaknesses in myself or others. But to accept them. Honor them. I will not be slayed in my animal skin dress on the floor of my cave for admitting that I’m scared or I feel insecure. It will only help others to love me, to be there for me, if I accept and love myself for who I am. When I accept my own weaknesses and flaws, I won’t be so freaked out by the flaws of those in my inner circle. Those I count on to ‘help me survive’.
How much do you want to bet that by allowing my flaws and weaknesses to bubble to the surface and stay as long as they need, I will release them in less time than it takes me to overkill an arachnid?
I think I’m getting somewhere, kittens. I’m slowly becoming less frazzled and tightly-wound and more gentle and maternal.
So, you’ll never guess what I told The Genius…