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Wining, dining ... and a lot of whining - shadows of echoes of memories of songs
j4
j4
Wining, dining ... and a lot of whining
Lovely evening with lnr last night -- nice dinner at La Margherita, and then back home for, um, dessert. (Plus a bottle of dessert wine.) Mmmmm. :)

(Also nice to find that sion_a wasn't too tired to stay up for a while, later...)

...

I must confess, though, I'm worrying about sion_a, and about poly in general. I've asked him so many times if he's okay with everything, and more and more the answer seems to be along the lines of "Of course I'm okay with you seeing other people, because I'm no use to you". Which is totally untrue, and totally not the reason I'm seeing other people -- any more than (I hope!) it's the reason that he's seeing simonb. Or indeed any more than it's the reason that I have friends other than him. He claims he wouldn't prefer us to be monogamous ... but I'm finding this increasingly hard to believe. I'm terrified that he's only saying that because he thinks that's the only way he can keep me.

The worst of it is, there are so many voices in the back of my head at times like this; there's several years of Christian brainwashing telling me that of course we're unhappy, because we're Believing Lies from the Devil (i.e. we're not in a monogamous [heterosexual, of course] Christian relationship where neither partner even dreams of holding hands before marriage); there's the voices of people I know saying "Well, it always did seem like a bit of a bad idea, but you have to make your own mistakes"; there's the voices of the poly "community" saying "You're just no good at polyamory"; and there's the voice of Disapproving Mainstream Society saying "Of course he's unhappy, of course he feels useless, it's no wonder when you're CHEATING ON HIM, you've stripped away so much of his self-confidence by using him like this that he doesn't even dare leave you and find a real girlfriend", and "He shouldn't have to tell you that he wants you to stop behaving like a whore, your own morals should tell you that" ... and so on.

With all those voices in my head it can be quite hard to hear the voice and the wishes of a nearly-silent sion_a ... who doesn't seem to even know what he really wants most of the time. But what I do hear from him is that he's stressed, he feels useless, he doesn't feel valued ... and he seems to "know" there's nothing he can do about any of this, because This Is The Way Things Are. When people treat him like shit at work, that's just "what happens", and there's "no point" in saying anything about it. When I upset him, that's just "all he deserves". He won't tell me I'm wrong, even when I know I am; he just tells me that he's "crap". Nothing I say makes any difference to what he "knows". Nothing I say seems to reach him at all any more.

I wish I understood what made it so difficult for him (and others -- he's far from alone in this) to talk about things. I can understand not having the right words, but I'm used to fighting for the right words, for talking around the subject until I get to the right words. Sometimes this means I end up talking a lot and only gradually making any sense. Sometimes it means I write about stuff to try to get it clear in my head before I say it to people. But I tend to figure that while the words that come out might not be quite right, they're still a much better starting-point for the listener (assuming a non-psychic listener) than silence. Yes, there's a risk that the words might offend or upset the listener... but then silence might offend or upset or worry them too, and in my opinion silence is much, much, much easier to misinterpret than words.

Mind you, this obviously isn't true for everyone; to sion_a, silence appears to be a truly null statement. As far as I can tell, to him, silence can't mean anything, because, well, it's silence. He doesn't seem to understand why it upsets me when a question like "Do you just want me to go away?" is met with total silence, or why it worries me when "Are you sure you're okay?" is left unanswered. Maybe one of us is just being weird. I don't know.

I just wish he loved himself even half as much as I love him... even though I suspect that if he cared more about his own happiness he'd leave me immediately. But at least then he'd be happy. At least then he'd stand a chance of being happy.

I also wish he could talk to somebody about the things that are stressing him out -- maybe even somebody who could help him learn to express the things he's thinking/feeling -- because I think it would help. Even though it's hard to accept that I'm not that somebody, that he can't talk to me about his hopes and dreams and fears and worries.

But then, of course, I worry that I'm trying to make him be more like me, rather than trying to let him be himself. Maybe I'm being narrow-minded and selfish in trying to get him to talk about things; maybe he's got the right idea, and it's much better to just suffer everything in silence. After all, it's not as if I'm a model of well-adjusted happiness, is it? At least when he's upset the shrapnel doesn't injure people on three separate continents. Maybe I should be striving to be more like him. Or maybe I should just be accepting that we're completely different ... and utterly incompatible. :-(

I don't know what to do. I don't know how to react when I can feel him being upset but there's absolutely nothing I can do about it. And of course when I get upset by this, he just sees this as further evidence that he's "useless" because he's upsetting me. It's not that. It's not that at all. It's just that it hurts to see someone I love more than anybody else in the world being stressed and unhappy, and not to have the faintest idea how to fix it.
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rysmiel From: rysmiel Date: March 13th, 2003 09:34 am (UTC) (Link)
Gahhhh. Sympathies. Some of this feels way too familiar.

*hug*hug*hug*hug*hug*, for both of you. Incompatible communications protocols are a bitch. *sigh* I can see silence as a null statement, but not a null sttement as an answer to a question.
j4 From: j4 Date: March 13th, 2003 10:03 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you for the hugs and sympathies...

I think sometimes the silence is just a very very long wait ... the problem is, I can't tell the difference between "I didn't hear that", "I don't want to talk about it", "I don't think there's a right answer here so I won't say anything", "I'm still thinking about this", and "[listening to the cricket]", because they all seem to manifest as dead silence with no visual cues or anything. :-/
bopeepsheep From: bopeepsheep Date: March 13th, 2003 09:53 am (UTC) (Link)
I wish I understood what made it so difficult for him (and others -- he's far from alone in this) to talk about things. I can understand not having the right words, but I'm used to fighting for the right words, for talking around the subject until I get to the right words... silence is much, much, much easier to misinterpret than words... silence appears to be a truly null statement. As far as I can tell, to him, silence can't mean anything, because, well, it's silence. He doesn't seem to understand why it upsets me when a question like "Do you just want me to go away?" is met with total silence

YMYA, and you know who S is, too. I go round and round on this one a lot, but every time I get a small breakthrough I figure I'll lay off him for a while, and that works for us. Of course you're dealing with different issues, but I do understand how frustrating and hard this is. Hugs. I can't really comment on the other bits because I don't want to wind up saying something that isn't really what I mean and only makes things worse - you know this is not a topic I can really deal with talking about anyway, so I'm sorry but I can't really see how to start working it out or offer any ideas. But have some more hugs anyway. I might not understand but I won't judge, either.
j4 From: j4 Date: March 13th, 2003 10:06 am (UTC) (Link)
YMYA, and you know who S is, too.

Indeed. I think we've had this conversation quite a number of times... :-}

I go round and round on this one a lot, but every time I get a small breakthrough I figure I'll lay off him for a while, and that works for us.

I don't try to badger him, but when I'm stressed (as I nearly always am these days) I really need feedback from people otherwise I just feel more and more at sea in even the most trivial of conversations.

I might not understand but I won't judge, either.

Thank you for saying that -- it means a lot to me. And thank you for the hugs, too, because they do help, at least in the short-term.

*hugs*
bopeepsheep From: bopeepsheep Date: March 13th, 2003 10:14 am (UTC) (Link)
I don't try to badger him either, in my case, but I am trying to be aware of doing it, and am making a point of sometimes saying to myself "ok, he gave me something last time - I'll try to let this go this time". It's less about him not talking than it is about me trying to understand why he finds it so hard, sometimes. I don't know if their reasons are the same - have you ever managed to get S to talk about why he finds it hard to respond?

Of course I do still have times when I need the feedback and just can't let it go, but I do try to preface it with "I need this feedback, please try to talk to me about this because it's causing me a big problem". I find this mostly works - which lends some credence to my partial-theory about Asperger's. If he has it all explained to him clearly with reasons for why he needs to do something/tell me something/whatever, he does seem to find it easier to respond. If I could draw diagrams for everything in life I think he'd find it even easier... sigh.

Have more hugs, just cos I'm feeling huggy tonight! *****HUGS*****
j4 From: j4 Date: March 14th, 2003 03:40 am (UTC) (Link)
I don't try to badger him either, in my case

No, no, sorry, I wasn't suggesting that you do!

but I am trying to be aware of doing it, and am making a point of sometimes saying to myself "ok, he gave me something last time - I'll try to let this go this time".

sion_a probably won't believe this, but I do try to do that. I'm trying to talk less. I'm trying to resist asking him questions, I'm trying to accept that a silent refusal to answer or even acknowledge the question doesn't necessarily mean that he's ignoring me.

I don't know if their reasons are the same - have you ever managed to get S to talk about why he finds it hard to respond?

Not much, because he finds it hard to respond when I ask him about it... </vicious_circle> The main answer I get is that he's terrified I'll shout at him if he says anything. Which is not really surprising given what a nasty person I am. :-( Or that he's worried he'll upset me -- which is all very well, but he knows that having my questions met with dead silence always upsets me, because I feel like I'm being ignored, I feel like I don't exist, I feel like I'm so worthless that I don't even merit a placeholder-response like "Your question is Really Valuable To Us... you are in a queue, please hold and we'll try to get back to you before you die".

"I need this feedback, please try to talk to me about this because it's causing me a big problem"

If it's something he can't give, then it probably doesn't make any difference how much I need it, or how much problems it might cause me.

Thanks for the hugs though... *stressyhug*
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j4 From: j4 Date: March 14th, 2003 03:47 am (UTC) (Link)
Do not worry about being different, about whether he wants to leave.

But of course I worry about whether he wants to leave! I don't want him to leave me! :-( ... But equally I don't want him to stay with me just because he's scared of me and doesn't dare tell me that he doesn't love me any more, or because he thinks he's too old to find anybody else, or because he doesn't think anybody else can love him. I don't want him to be unhappy with me.

You're breaking through years of conditioning, it will take a while, but it will work. Work with him, and you'll probably end up more like each other

Is that a good thing? I feel like "breaking through years of conditioning" equates to "taking away his personality (which has served him perfectly well in all his other relationships and friendships, suggesting that it's me who's just being useless and awkward) so I can replace it with a clone of my own". I don't believe that can be a good thing. :-(
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j4 From: j4 Date: March 17th, 2003 01:55 am (UTC) (Link)
I see what you mean, and it would be good if it was like that, but it doesn't feel like "talkative" is part of his personality, hidden or otherwise... so I do feel like I'm trying to impose something on him that isn't already there. I mean, his personality does show, and it's a lovely quiet gentle personality... I feel like I shouldn't be trying to change that just because it's hard for me to adapt my motormouth tendencies to deal with it.
From: ex_lark_asc Date: March 14th, 2003 07:10 am (UTC) (Link)
But then, of course, I worry that I'm trying to make him be more like me, rather than trying to let him be himself. Maybe I'm being narrow-minded and selfish in trying to get him to talk about things; maybe he's got the right idea, and it's much better to just suffer everything in silence. After all, it's not as if I'm a model of well-adjusted happiness, is it? At least when he's upset the shrapnel doesn't injure people on three separate continents. Maybe I should be striving to be more like him. Or maybe I should just be accepting that we're completely different ... and utterly incompatible. :-(

This bit really is paranoia, OK? The problem is not with either one of you individually. If anything, you should both be trying to be more like the other one. You and Sion represent two extremes of the spectrum of coping styles: 'say everything' and 'say nothing'. Those two extremes are very, very hard to reconcile without some fairly complicated tools, but the very fact that you're so different gives both of you a huge opportunity to learn from the way the other one does things. mobbsy and me are fairly similar in some ways and it tends to mean that we reinforce each other's bad sides, and can get into some really nasty cycles; fortunately we're not similar enough for it to be past enduring..

I think I've got a book you might be interested in reading; Mobbsy picked it out in the bookshop and we've found it a real ray of hope. It's another one by the guy who wrote the boarding schools book I was wittering about a while ago, but it's by him and his wife and is about dealing with committed relationships once the cracks start to show. It uses a bit of spiritual-type jargon where I'd be more comfortable seeing things in terms of psychology, but it's certainly got the common sense factor there and it's been a real help and reassurance for us..
j4 From: j4 Date: March 17th, 2003 02:18 am (UTC) (Link)
You and Sion represent two extremes of the spectrum of coping styles: 'say everything' and 'say nothing'.

I sometimes wonder if "say everything" transmits just as little information as "say nothing". Or, on the other hand (the one that's holding the half-empty glass) whether "say nothing" transmits just as much information as "say everything".

Those two extremes are very, very hard to reconcile without some fairly complicated tools

I've got a torque wrench now... would that help? Seriously, though, I'm not sure what "tools" you're talking about...

mobbsy and me are fairly similar in some ways and it tends to mean that we reinforce each other's bad sides, and can get into some really nasty cycles

I've so been there...

One of the good things about the fact that sion_a is so quiet is that he doesn't tend to just shout back at me, he doesn't escalate things. Which means that if I carry on shouting, I rapidly realise that I'm just having an argument with myself while he looks vaguely frightened in the corner. It's probably a good thing that this makes me feel guilty, because it means that sometimes I stop doing it before I get to the crockery-throwing stage.

The book sounds interesting, although I warn you that excessive spiritual waffle tends to make me just shout "moo! moo!" at things... will have to borrow it some time when I'm back in a state of mind where it doesn't take me four months to finish a lightweight paperback. :-/
From: ex_lark_asc Date: March 17th, 2003 03:37 am (UTC) (Link)
I sometimes wonder if "say everything" transmits just as little information as "say nothing". Or, on the other hand (the one that's holding the half-empty glass) whether "say nothing" transmits just as much information as "say everything".

I think you're right there; much the same thing dawned on me a month or two into therapy. It's a question of knowing both what to say and how to say it - which is also pretty much the summary of the 'tools' I was talking about.

One of the good things about the fact that sion_a is so quiet is that he doesn't tend to just shout back at me, he doesn't escalate things. Which means that if I carry on shouting, I rapidly realise that I'm just having an argument with myself while he looks vaguely frightened in the corner. It's probably a good thing that this makes me feel guilty, because it means that sometimes I stop doing it before I get to the crockery-throwing stage.

IKWYM, though I'm not actually capable of winding myself up to the crockery-throwing stage entirely on my own - I need my mum's help for that..

The book sounds interesting, although I warn you that excessive spiritual waffle tends to make me just shout "moo! moo!" at things... will have to borrow it some time when I'm back in a state of mind where it doesn't take me four months to finish a lightweight paperback. :-/

I found that the 'spiritual' waffle in this particular book was (a) not excessive and (b) mostly stuff I'd already noticed in some form or another but interpreted more as phenomena of human emotions than inexplicable spirituality; so my 'moo!' reflex felt no particular need to go off :)
ewx From: ewx Date: March 14th, 2003 01:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
As someone with a similarly loquacious approach to life to Sion's, I should say that I do find that although it can be very difficult to put things into words, it's usually worth the effort when I do manage. Getting started seems to be more difficulty than continuining (which is probably not suprising).
wintrmute From: wintrmute Date: March 14th, 2003 01:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Some other poly people I've known have struggled at times. You need a lot of confidence in yourself and each other for poly r'ships to work, I think.
Maybe you should spend some time with each other, as in put the poly stuff on hold, and emotionally re-assure yourselves of your feelings for each other. Wouldn't hurt to try, anyway?
j4 From: j4 Date: March 17th, 2003 02:02 am (UTC) (Link)
Some other poly people I've known have struggled at times. You need a lot of confidence in yourself and each other for poly r'ships to work, I think.

Hey, everybody struggles at times; and confidence in yourself and each other is helpful for any relationship. (Include standard rant here: It's Not Only Poly Relationships Which Require Effort.)

Maybe you should spend some time with each other, as in put the poly stuff on hold, and emotionally re-assure yourselves of your feelings for each other. Wouldn't hurt to try, anyway?

Well, it probably would hurt, as we'd be preventing ourselves seeing our other partners. (Which would probably hurt them too.) Certainly from my point of view "the poly stuff" isn't just a random toy to play with when I can be bothered; it's real relationships (with real human beings, who have feelings of their own) which can't just be picked up and dropped again as I feel like it.

Monday morning is so not the best time to have this kind of conversation. :-/
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