Thanks, for your patience

I’ve been busy with multiple projects –which I have been loving– but I hope to pick up activity on xo, O soon! 

A little peek into the next post:

If you wanna check out my other active projects:

Senescence: An interactive mixed-media sci-fi about a 16-year-old hum-bot told through social media

www.senescence.space 

Nightstand Audio: A motley of musical collaborations from the past year with some of my favorite people, everrrrr. I’m talkin bout you, Krusty Kastle Crew (that includes @Buffaloquick 🙂 

www.nightstandaudio.com

Speaking of patience. Thanks for your patience, friends.

xo,

O

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Happy bright spring flowers.

Oh my, it’s been a while.

<<my sincerest apologies!!! truly.>>

I feel like I do just as well adding new blog posts (on the regular) as I do maintaining my friendships! Actually, that’s not true. I have invested extra effort into mindfully improving my maintaining-of-friendships over the past few years. I’m proud to say that.

I’m proud to write that because. let’s just say that I spent my highschool years attending four different schools in three countries. (Some of you could make a drinking game from how many times you’ve heard me say that.) Add a geographically fragmented teen-hood to my quiet, shy, depressive, anxious (emotionally neglected) teenage self. It was rough mostly. Seemingly unbearable at times. Teen O would have benefited from finding a goth crew to pale and brood with. (Crew, right? Crew? Or are a group of goths called a…uuuuuh, goat? A goat of goths? A gaggle of goths?)

Having to re-adjust and build new friendships every year takes an exponentially increasing toll on a person. And so, I didn’t have much practice “friendshipping” while growing up. It’s something I continue to actively work at because I know it’s worth the (temporary) uncomfortable painful feelings that sometimes shake out when someone treats you kind, someone treats you like a friend.

I wasn’t able to join a circle of friends who experience all those teenage things together. They build memories, share stories. They’ve witnessed each other’s smiles grow into their faces and remember what other other’s favorite colors were as littles. Their parent(s) are friends with yours; they have memories and stories, too. There are pictures, tons of pictures. (Sidenote: On my ‘don’t-need-so-immediately-but- wouldn’t-mind-acquiring-one-now’ wish list is a Super 8 camera. A belated birthday gift is still within reason. After March 5th, you can give it to me on Friendship Day, which is every day of the year. 🙂

<<<SKRIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEECH!>>>         (record scratch)

Sorry. I’m cutting this short! I have an opportunity to jam with some really cool people ahora (translation: right now) so I am going to away. What I wanted to say in this post – nutshell version:

  • Kevin has continued to welcome me in to his life, introduced me to his friends – his amazing wonderful friends.
  • Kevin has given me a chosen family. or helped me to allow family in.
  • Maintaining friendship is important. friendship borne of reciprocal support, love, and respect.
  • Music is therapy.
  • My depression has been lifting. I know a key reason is the lifestyle I’ve created together with Kevin and Fuzz. I know it’s partially because of the authentic, meaningful friendships that have been sprouting like happy bright spring flowers in bloom.
  • I love our life.
  • I’m still significantly sensitive. as I’ve always been and will be. and it’s OK.

I end this entry with something Kevin said to me this evening. I was telling him what this blog post was about. He said,

“We don’t need friends, we just need each other!”

What do you think was my response? 

I leave you in wonder and wish you joyful well.

xo, O

 

And thank you for coming back to my snaily blog or for reading this!

 

**Edited from original post 3/3/17.

Have I not been smiling.

“I have a weird feeling that the rest of my life is going to be AWEsome.” My arms wrapped around his neck. I couldn’t help but pull myself up to him. to be closer.

“Why does it have to be weird?” He laughed. scooted his body up a bit. Then dove into the crook of my neck to deliver a bouquet of kind little kisses. My fingertips brushed the soft underbrush of his freshly cut hair.

Grinning, I said, “It’s not weird. I just mean… I have a sneaking suspicion…” {I thought to myself, “How long has it been since I have NOT been smiling?!”}

***

These are a few moments of my day today with K. My face is sore from all the smiles. my belly, awake from days of incessant laughter rumbles.

***

Curiosity comes out of a sense of safety...” – Sue Johnson, MD

 

Grief more bearable.

I’ve dated three guys who have died. All at different times in my life. Each relationship was at different stages. Nonetheless, I have experienced a lot of that kind of grief. Not the grieving at the end of a relationship, a breakup, divorce. Though, I’ve experienced all of those things, too.

I mean the grief of sitting with the reality that one of the most influential people in your life in grade school, whom you always felt you would marry some day or, at the very least, stay in touch with, fell from a friend’s balcony at a Halloween party. a freak accident involving the fire escape ladder. He is the reason I have the intimate connection with music that I do. We use to argue about which instrument was better – guitar or piano. I still have the cassette mixes he made me. I listen to them every now and then. I think of him often.

I mean the grief of working through the realization that someone you are just getting to know. someone who gives you butterflies in the tummy and you can’t wait to see again is no longer alive. He fell asleep while driving under a mile from his house. Our first kiss was only hours before. My last words to him were, “Are you going to be OK to drive tomorrow?” The last time I touched him he looked like he was sleeping but his limbs were hard and cold.

I mean the grief of getting a call at work from a friend who tells you that the person you have been trying to not develop too deep of feelings for because you are going through a divorce, but they’re just so damn wonderful, died in a car accident. He apologized once when he ran late, “Sorry! I pulled over to watch the sunset.” He was asleep in the back of a truck that his best friend was driving while drunk. I met his mom for the first time at his funeral. “Are you Odawni?” A blonde woman in black approached me outside the church. “I’m Tyler’s mom. He talked a lot about you. He said he really liked you but that he was also having a good time dating other people and he didn’t know what to do.” She said I could have anything of his, if I wanted. His dream catcher hangs above my bed.

I joked that I was cursed and warned subsequent boyfriends about my relationship history. Thankfully, I don’t have a fourth story to tell. I share these experiences with you not for sympathy. I’m not dribbling tears over my keyboard thinking, “Oh, poor me! What awfulness I have had in my life!” I share these because this is what life is and can be. Things like this happen. Experiences like this impact your relationships, your world. They have deeply impacted mine. These things, these people, these relationships – these losses help me keep perspective.

As I grapple with the spectrum of emotions that have been coursing through my body and mind after breaking up with Mr. G. As I grieve the loss of the relationship, the possibilities, the images in my mind of our future life together, I think of this grief. The grief of losing someone you can and will never have the option of seeing or holding or being held by again.

No kind of grief is more bearable than another. Loss is loss. Regardless of who or what caused the losing.

 

Break-up, make-up; repeat.

Naturally, since Mr. G and I have a steady history of break-up/make-up, I wonder how things with us will roll out. Is there another make-up talk in the future? Or at least a kinder conversation for closure so that, as my wise therapist (lovingly nicknamed, ‘The Wizard’) says, “We leave each other better off than when you found each other.” I love that sentiment. Regardless of the turmoil, discomfort, or pain. we gave something to each other. At times, we showed each other a tenderness and curiosity that softened our hearts and made us feel special, because we were. We are.

I have no expectation of the future but I do carry a hope that we can find a way to sort it out. It would take a lot, and perhaps more opening up than Mr. G is ready for, but I believe people can change and are capable of so much more than they sometimes think they are.

Giving in to the humanity of oneself changes the world around you. Every day is more alive and interesting. excessive complaining feels like a waste of time. moments are gobbled up by appreciation and gratitude. Don’t get me wrong. The lows still come around and there are days when you feel like gnawing your fingers off cause you’re so pissed/annoyed/frustrated/[enter any painful, uncomfortable emotion here]. Ultimately, it feels amazing to open yourself up to someone. To let another person see you in your rawest moments. Those are the most beautiful, I think.

I digress.

As the days pass since our break-up, I wonder. What will happen with Mr. G? I’ve been doing some reading on the cyclical make-up/break-up relationships and the chances that they can end in success. There are mixed reviews. Of course, the circumstances and people in every break-up are different. But there is some valuable information to consider here. I’m a silver-lining finder so I appreciate some of what I’ve read. Break-ups aren’t always horrible. As with anything, there are opportunities to be had.

I’m not feeling especially creative this evening so I am going to info dump some snippets from articles I found useful. See what you think:

Get Back With Your Ex Permanently After Multiple Break-Ups

  • The only way too truly breakaway from the vicious cycle that has plagued your relationship and build something stable is to start by identifying the real wants, needs and aspirations of both individuals.
  • The tension, frustration and built up resentment from being misunderstood always leads to a breakdown in communication. In order to make the relationship permanent and to avoid yet another breakup you will need to fundamentally change the way you communicate and interact with your ex on a multitude of levels. In fact, your main goal moving forward should be to completely shift the way that you approach talking and relating to each other. Look to always avoid arguments and instead think of potential solutions that can bridge your differences before talking back to your significant other.

How Healthy Are On-Again/Off-Again Relationships?

  • If we’re trying to understand whether on-again/off-again relationship are healthy, we should acknowledge that they’re not all the same. Some evidence suggests that on-again/off-again relationships sort themselves into two primary types (Dailey, Jin, Brody, & McCracken, 2013). The first, called the capitalized-on-transitions type, describes a couple that makes the most of changing circumstances, letting transitions serve as tests or opportunities for relationship improvement. For example, a break-up might allow for the growth that enables a healthy relationship after reunion. The gradual separation type engages in the on-again/off-again pattern with hopes and expectations, but ultimately this pattern gives way to a final break-up.
  • The on-off partners who do report more satisfaction say that the on-off nature of the relationship helped improve the relationship; the breakups and renewals gave them a chance to work on themselves or the relationship.
  • Even if your relationship has gone through several renewals, the lessons from those who have stopped the cycle of breaking up and renewing may still apply. Change something about the relationship. Discuss new rules and norms. Talk about how to resolve issues that led to the breakups or how to improve the relationship. Don’t just hope that the relationship will be better the next time around.

Could Breaking Up Help Your Relationship?

  • Although ending a relationship can be painful, a separation can give a couple space to work on personal issues that have been harming the relationship. ‘It can help individuals reassess their priorities, helping them to know more about what they would like to get out of a relationship,’

Imago relationship therapist, Dr. Sophie Slade, suggests five ways to get your relationship back on track:

  • Get curious – curious about yourself, curious about your partner and curious about what led to your break-up. Try to replace all the criticism in your relationship with curiosity.
  • Take a long, hard look at your own contribution to the break-up– what were you doing that contributed to the pain in the relationship? Blaming your partner won’t get you anywhere. You can only change yourself.
  • See your relationship as an opportunity for your growth. What part of you do you need to grow to create the relationship differently and meet your partner’s needs? And how can you ask your partner to grow to meet your needs in ways he or she can hear and doesn’t have to defend against?
  • Create a vision of the relationship that you both want to haveand then work out what you each need to contribute to create that kind of relationship.
  • Create some rituals of loving behavior and expressions of appreciation for each other regularly: for example, expressing at least one thing you appreciate them doing for you each day at a specific time.

 

In a safe space where only (s)he and I can go.

So. I broke up with Mr. G. It happened in a haze and I don’t like the way it rolled out – me. tangled up in emotion and letting my anger and frustration marionette my limbs and throw my words. I stormed out and walked away from a conversation (something I need to work on) that was going nowhere because. it felt fruitless. I felt like the conversation was being deflected from talking about us. like I wasn’t being heard. We went in circles – driven by defensiveness and frustration – as it went in a similar conversation between Mr. G and I the week before.

People give a slight gasp and say, “Oh no! What happened?!” when I tell them about the break up. There’s no simple answer so I’ll attempt to give you a more than simple yet not too complex response. Now, this is only one side of what happened and only how I viewed the relationship. I am only sharing what I felt and saw, which is how I prefaced my conversations with Mr. G. Mr. G had his own experience (that I wish I knew).

“I don’t feel connected to you. I feel like you don’t share yourself with me and that you have become more distant. I wanna know! Your thoughts, your fears, your dreams.” I had been feeling like I was picking up most of the slack in terms of being vulnerable and attempting to deepen our level of intimacy. This is how the conversation began (after clarifying to Mr. G that what I had to say was neither right nor wrong, nor a criticism of him…”Everything I am about to share with you is what I feel,” I said. My intention for the conversation was to deepen our connection through conversation. strengthen our relationship via reciprocity: I’ll talk, you listen. You talk, I’ll listen. (easier said than done).

After our first talk, we were able to get to a place of calm. some tears were shed. we acknowledged the cycle we tend to spin into – a whirlpool fueled by my anger, his defensiveness. We agreed that either of us would initiate a time-out in future when we knew that we needed to stop, take a break. before we say something we don’t mean. otherwise something might happen that we don’t necessarily intend. like breaking up. exchanging keys, packing up PJs, rain boots, records, guitar. We forgot to use the time-out.

This is not the first time we have broken up. It’s happened multiple times. I’ve broken things off with Mr. G a few times over the past year. but it was for a different reason before. I was not yet out of a previous relationship. I needed time to myself to figure things out emotionally, for school, for healing. for me. But we always found our way back to each other. Just couldn’t stay away. “There’s something about you that I can’t explain. I feel naturally drawn to you,” I would tell him. It’s visceral.

This time, the break up was spurred by things between just us. There was no outside circumstance pulling me back or confusing my emotional compass. When we decided to start our relationship a few months ago, I was all in. Bought my one-way ticket to Vulnerability City. If you read my previous post, you know that I essentially fought my way back into Mr. G’s life after a couple of my jealousy episodes. I realized I had made a mistake. I love this guy. and I want to work this out. “We can work this out!” I thought. 

I thought. I tried.

I have mixed feelings about the break-up: relief, sadness, frustration, anger at the situation, confusion, enlightenment. all of it. everything. But, I wasn’t happy in our relationship. I told Mr. G that, and I told him why. I was hoping we could talk through how I was feeling and I wanted to know his thoughts and his feelings, but instead I found myself responding to defensiveness, to which I would say, “You’re not listening!”

“You always say that! I’m not listening.”

There’s only so much clarifying one person can attempt. and only so much time one can withstand stagnant or regressive intimacy in a relationship. only so much a person can carry in a relationship. There’s only so much I can carry in relationship.

A dear friend shared a quote with me that I love. and fits quite nicely here:

“I will take care of me for you, if you will take care of you for me. ” – Jim Rohn

This captures love to me. Some say you have to love yourself before you are able to love someone else (I’ve said it.) but now I think that the processes can be parallel, symbiotic. Only. both people have to be in that space. together – aware, ready, reflective, and willing. It’s a balance of selfish and selflessness. and perhaps Mr. G and I are on different planes? We can physically inhabit the same space, but relationships are more than that. so much more. There’s a whole world inside each of us that only we can share with each other. and it can be scary as shit to go there, to share it. but that’s part of the process. the abstract construct of love between two people takes two dreamers, two sculptors, two minds, two souls, and two hearts. It doesn’t work when one heart is open and the other is closed.

Now. I know what it is to have a closed heart. It’s not by choice. We’ve had early experiences that calloused over our belief that we are good enough, lovable, valuable, worthy. I’ve had to soften the callous and crack open my heart ribs. I had to learn how to put words to my emotions. and I did through years of therapy and self-work. I still struggle with those negative automatic thoughts. but I struggle. I mindfully struggle and want to learn from the struggle. I want to grow from the struggle. And I hope that I am able to share in this struggle and support another’s struggle with someone who shares this view, this belief, this goal.

In her book, Hold Me Tight, Dr. Sue Johnson wrote, “The ability to attend to our partner’s deeper disclosures is the beginning of mutual responsiveness and engagement. The word attend comes from the Latin ad tendere, which means to reach toward.”

Reach toward. Exactly. To form these connections and build intimacy, we must reach toward each other. and keep reaching. Dr. David Schnarch wrote, “Desire mobilizes you to become more than you are, to reach for things beyond your grasp.” The relationship I want and the love I seek may seem beyond my grasp at times but I want to become more than who I am to reach it. and hold it. in a safe space where only (s)he and I can go.

 

Bowl full o’ jello-c.

Oh dear. It’s been a while since my last post, hasn’t it? I want you to know I have been thinking of you and I’m not saying that as an attempt to butter you up. I’ve been thinking. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what to write about next. I wanted to give you the excuse that I’ve been too busy learning how to love (which isn’t entirely un-true), but really, I just need to invest more time in doing what I love – writing. So… “Hi!” Thanks for coming back. I suppose I should give you a quick update on my love life since this is why we’re here.

Since I last saw you, I have been in a relationship with a guy with whom I have a very complicated history – a story for another time. – I’ll call him Mr. G. After about a year of see-sawing between kind of, sort of being together and kind of sort of not, we decided to ‘make it official’ and give this relationship thing a go. (This was marked by officially changing our FB relationship statuses, as all serious relationships tend to be made official in this way.) When I started this blog in January, we were taking time apart (on his request) as a result of an incident that occurred involving jealousy. My jealousy.

Another incident occurred more recently. It wasn’t quite as dramatic but has had me evaluating my thought processes in relationships. Note: I was considerably inebriated on both occasions so I would likely have kept my jealous feelings to myself instead of acting on them as I did. As I’m writing this, I realize that I am thankful for these incidents – ‘thankful.’ I have been carrying them as opportunities for growth rather than take the auto-pilot route of feeling ashamed or guilty.

Don’t get me wrong. I also felt like a total and complete dumbass all dramatic and aggressive and out of control and mean. It’s humiliating losing your cool. It’s embarrassing reacting on your sense of insecurity in the presence of some of your closest friends, because really Dawni? Mr. G is gonna be hitting on one of your best friends right in front of you?

Surely you have experienced jealousy at some point in your life. But like any other emotion, people experience jealousy on a spectrum. At times, mine falls somewhere near “intense jealousy” or “more jealous than normal.” And I hate it.     I.   H-A-T-E.   I-T.  It feels like a monster that spuriously sprouts and erupts from your core and your limbs and voice are at its whim. Jealousy plays you like a puppet. I often refer to depression as a bitch. I would say jealousy is….a butthead. Yes. Jealousy is such a butthead.

So, the first incident that almost rendered Mr. G and I no-more happened one late night after playing Cards Against Humanity at a friend’s place. It was a small group of us, most of whom we did not know, and there was a young(er), beautiful, witty chick there who, as the night wore on (along with my level of alcohol) I got it in my head — this is where the butthead part comes in — that, Maybe Mr. G should be with someone like her? Maybe they would be a better fit? They’re closer in age. She’s laid back and fun. Maybe Mr. G should be with her? Maybe he’s interested in her? Oh god, that sucks. Is he interested in her? I wouldn’t blame him, but shit. That would suck if he realized that someone like her would be a better fit for him? 

(At this point jealousy has it’s whole hand up my ass and I’m watching to see if he’s checking her out, looking for nuanced gestures of flirtation or interest from either of them.)

– Time out –

Yikes. The process of writing about this experience is striking my anxiety in a big way but this reflection is good. This recounting of my thought process is helpful. As I have been writing the thoughts that swirled in my head that night, the voice in my mind (my sober, reflective, present mind) has been saying, Wow, that spiraled down super fast. Really? Was I really thinking these thoughts? And believing them? Cause I’m wonderful and awesome! Those thoughts are ridiculous. OF COURSE Mr. G wants to be with me! He chose to be in a relationship with me, not this springy, spritely, cute girl. But springy, spritely, cute me.

I digress. When we got to his place, the first thing out of my jealous-laden lips was, “Maybe you should be dating other people?” Mr. G was not happy about this and rightly so, “That’s a terrible thing to say to someone that you are in a relationship with! Why would you say that?” Why would I say that?

Instead of communicating my jealousy and insecurity with him, I took the I’m-not-taking-responsibility-for-my-feelings-and-will-instead-sloppily-project-them-onto-my partner approach. I don’t recall all of what was said but at one point I was yelling at Mr. G from across the room, “I’m insecure, OK!? I’M FEELING INSECURE AND I NEED REASSURANCE!” I remember putting my whole body into those words. My neck strained forward and my fingers wide-spread at the end of straightened lengthened arms at my sides, like a scarecrow in standing savasana. Clearly, I was opening myself up to him in a way that he wanted to listen.

The next day I realized what had happened and why, and I asked if we could meet because I had been doing some deep thinking and wanted to share my thoughts with him. Mr G. wanted space, if I didn’t mind. I wanted to see him but I understood. Instead, I wrote a lengthy email to Mr. G explaining what happened and what I had been feeling, how I had been treating him poorly at times and I realize it now, how I had said unloving and unsupportive things. It was a confession wrapped in apology.

Acting on my jealousy brought many self-realizations to the surface. Paying attention to my experiences with it and observing without judgment has opened up parts of myself that will only strengthen my capability to trust. I prefer this understanding of my experience vs. that I am a drama queen with low self-esteem. That perspective helps no one in relationship.

***

Now, I appreciate viewing things from multiple perspectives. You learn more that way. You grow exponentially.

Jealousy has always gotten a bad rap. I mean, I’ve been calling it a butthead (which it is). But there are other considerations at play here. Somethings deeper to explore. I leave you two quotes; each offers a different view of jealousy.

“Jealousy, like many psychological problems (from hypochondria to paranoia), is driven by the destructive use of the imagination.” – Mark Tyrell

“Psychologists—especially psychoanalysts—have looked at jealousy as a sign of deep-seated insecurities and personality defects. We view jealousy as a much more complicated emotion. In fact, jealousy may actually reflect your higher values of commitment, monogamy, love, honesty, and sincerity. You may feel jealous because you want a monogamous relationship and you fear that you will lose what is valuable to you.”  – Robert L Leahy, Ph.D.

***

What is your experience with jealousy (first-hand or otherwise)? What have you learned from your experience(s)? About yourself? About relationship?