September 6, 2016.
9 of 365.
Today has been a relatively good day, and I think I need to take note of why. When I woke up this morning I was overcome by the same thoughts of sadness and wanting to reach out to Serene that I've felt every day for the past few days. But I needed to check out of the Phillips Club and get don to steps place. I managed to work out before I did that and that has bee a big source of positive emotions, endorphins, and, probably, esteem. Continuing that habit as much as I can will be really important for the days ahead. Tony and I agreed to give up the office space so it seems like I will be working from home much more now. That will give me much more time to get on the bike or to the gym. That is a fantastic silver lining.
I was also forced to work to work today and hop on the weekly team call. I started out feeling really melancholy and I actually felt myself acting them to notice that I was melancholy. Maybe I was putting on a bit more of an act than what my emotions actually suggested. But once the discussion got going and I took it to what we needed to figure out for winding down the company, I felt a bit better and it created a thought path that didn't center around my sadness or around serene. I am so thankful for that. I'm also really thankful for Steph for letting me transition to her place today. It was so nice to be there. I love her humble space and it feels cozy and familiar in a way that I love. She is a fantastic friend. I love her.
There were a few things in the book Attached that jumped out at me yesterday. Three myths, specifically:
The first myth is that *everyone has the same capacity for intimacy. This one scares me. I want to believe that I possess the capacity for intimacy that would meet the needs of any potential partner. Thinking about myself as being limited in this way this way just makes me feel deficient all over again. I feel kind of left in the dark about what to do about this statement. Can I expand my capacity for intimacy? I want to do that. Here is what they say about this myth:
“It’s tempting to forget that, in fact, people have very different capacities for intimacy. And when one person’s need for closeness is met with another person’s need for independence and distance, a lot of unhappiness ensues. By being cognizant of this fact, both of you can navigate your way better in the dating world to find someone with intimacy needs similar to your own (if you are unattached) or reach an entirely new understanding about your differing needs in an existing relationship—a first and necessary step toward steering it in a more secure direction.”
The second myth is that marriage is then end-all be-all in romantic relationships. Not surprisingly, I have never subscribed to this myth, but that's probably much more closely aligned with my avoidant attachment style than my awareness of it as a myth of any sort. So it's easy to want to take some credit for having been all over this. But I think I was all over it for unhealthy reasons. Finding ways to be honest about my intimacy and attachment needs (read “limitations?”) is going to be a big challenge. The exercises from the book that help you write out your needs so that they can be articulated to someone is hopefully going to be really helpful. Here is what the book says about this myth:
“…we are all tempted to believe that when someone gets married, it’s unequivocal proof of the power of love to transform; that the decision to marry means they’re now ready for true closeness and emotional partnership. We don’t like to admit that people might enter marriage without having these goals in mind, let alone the ability to achieve them. We want to believe, as we had hoped for in the movie, that once married, anyone can change and treat his/ her spouse like royalty (especially if two people are deeply in love with each other). In this book, however, we’ve shown how mismatched attachment styles can lead to a great deal of unhappiness in marriage, even for people who love each other greatly. If you are in such a relationship, don’t feel guilty for feeling incomplete or unsatisfied. After all, your most basic needs often go unmet, and love alone isn’t enough to make the relationship work.”
The third hard-to-shed myth we fall for is that we alone are responsible for our emotional needs; they are not our partner’s responsibility. I hear this one a lot. I hear people talk about how they need to be happy alone to be happy with someone else. I actually agree that we need to learn to love ourselves in a way that makes us feel worthy of complete and secure love when offered from someone we love. I definitely fall short there. And I fall short in offering more than I think I deserve to another person. That has always been part of every relationship I've ever had. Here is what the book says about this myth:
“When potential partners “Mirandize” us and “read us our rights” (see chapter 11) early in a relationship by telling us that they aren’t ready to commit, thereby renouncing responsibility for our well-being, or when they make unilateral decisions in a long-standing relationship without taking our needs into account, we’re quick to accept these terms. This logic has become very natural to people, and our friends might say, “They told you in advance they didn’t want to commit,” or “They always said how strongly they feel about this issue, so you have no one but yourself to blame.” But when we’re in love and want to continue a relationship, we tend to ignore the contradictory messages we’re getting. Instead of recognizing that someone who blatantly disregards our emotions is not going to be a good partner, we accept this attitude. Again, we must constantly remind ourselves: In a true partnership, both partners view it as their responsibility to ensure the other’s emotional well-being.”
I just had a random conversation with a woman in a Starbucks in Soho about her nanny search. It was good to 1) feel open to striking up a conversation with a stranger and 2) focus on someone else's life while being able to reference my own struggles, but without becoming mired in a downward emotional struggle or not being able to get out of the sadness enough to hold the conversation. Her name was Danielle and her husband is a healthcare VC here in NYC. I can easily feel overconfidence from positive interactions like this, but I want to be careful not to mistake them for being “good”, “well”, or “cured.” It's just a temporary illusion that I should guard against putting much stock in. At the same time, I am happy that I was able to have the interaction. So I'm writing to calm myself down and provide a bit of a reality check before meeting up with Steph Chan for dinner. Before calming myself down, I went to Facebook to see what message I had been sent. It was from Jill Kubit. I had to cancel on her, but I did feel a sense of impenetrability and even had the thought that “I could handle seeing Serene's social media posts right now.” Which is not true. At all. It may have been one of two things. Or both: overconfidence and/or rationalizing my desire to do something that I know in my heart is counter to my best interests. I would end up gutted and emotionally decimated. Down for the count for another day or two. Buried in sadness and regretting my choice. Serene said that she wanted growth for both of us. I believe her. Growth looks like turning my attention away and focusing on me instead of her. As much as that is possible within any given moment.