Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Eating humble pie on the back of my high horse.

I have this high horse. She gallops in to 'rescue' me when I'm feeling threatened or overwhelmed or simply too scared to look reality in the face. Sometimes, she's too quick off the mark and I set off on the Road of Indignation and Righteousness. With nary a thought to the possibilities of misconception and reality trailing behind in the dust of our speedy departure, we ride off into the sunset of hubris falling.

Since coming out of the hell of a relationship that almost killed me, I am wary of dating. In fact, it took me almost four years before I went out on my first real date. The man was very nice. Kind, considerate, funny, but he had his own issues to deal with and I violated one of my principles: When I make a commitment I violate my own sense of self-worth when I break it.

In disregarding a commitment I'd made, I also cross a boundary that I believe is important for anyone coming out of a relationship. I know the value of time to heal. In the throes of breakup turmoil, it is often human nature to divert our attention from our pain by seeking outside stimulation. I know this. I've done it enough in my past to know how the band aid feels soothing, but underneath the issues remain unhealed. Wounds need air to heal. Covering them up with someone else's touch is not advisable. In the case of the man I dated, he was not yet a year out of the relationship -- I had no right to date him.

Recently, I dated a man who was extremely interesting. Witty. Awesome writer. Curious. Thoughtful. Appeared to have a deep appreciation of life and living and all its nuances. I was intrigued but quickly became cautious when his enthusiasm for getting to know me overrode my wishes to take it slowly.

Now, I have good cause for being suspicious of someone who comes on strong, pushing their way through my boundaries, insisting on the rightness of their attentions as the reason why I need to step closer. If he also insists it's my fear causing me to miss out on a golden opportunity, I back off, fast. No one has the right to tell me what I'm feeling. And no one has the right to tell me that my feelings are 'wrong'.

It was Conrad's way. He stormed into my life, the bearer of gifts and adulation. False compliments dripped from his tongue and flowery assertions that I was spectacular lit up my life like fireworks on Canada Day. My fears made me naive. My wish to take it slow made me a target.

I know in my cognizant mind that not everyone who turns up the charm is a psychopath. I know that some people are just overly zealous, or rather, are enthusiastic in whatever they do. The past is not the future unless I look through the lens of today with my sights set on what happened then as an explanation of what is happening now.

I also, however, recognize that for me, the triggers in those situations can overwhelm my senses. I need time and space to sort through my feelings and thoughts. To make sense of what is happening now so that it doesn't get messed up in what happened then. My response has nothing to do with the other person and everything to do with what I need to do to feel safe.

I'm comfortable in my skin. Comfortable with my need to take it slow. Take it easy when getting to know someone new. If the other person doesn't feel the same way, I'm okay in saying adieu. Not my job to force my needs on someone else. Not my right to tell someone they're wrong in their approach -- it is my right to take care of me. Whether it's fear or self-preservation, or simply a need to be real, in the moment, doesn't matter. My right is to take care of me.

Unfortunately, my triggers can also lead me to jump to conclusions, to make whatever the other person is doing 'all about me'.

And that's what I just did with the man who I recently dated. Doesn't change my decision to not date him. I believe that is the right one for me to have made. What it does do is give me a chance to dine on a delectable treat of humble pie, savouring life's lessons with every nutritious bite.

I'm smiling as I write this. Sometimes, I think I'm the funniest person I know. My imagination gets fertilized like a dandelion flower being pollinated by an eager little bumblebee busily buzzing from flower to flower. Ideas leap into formation, eager to spread out on the winds of change, new ideas, new thoughts, new directions. Heady stuff this dandelion thinking. All puffed up, ready to let loose, the thoughts fly around my head, sometimes blocking my sight from reality. Searching for hidden nuances, I forget to be 'in the moment real' until I suddenly awaken to the reality that , oops, I was blowing around on my own hot air! Funny creature me.

A trait I've discovered post-Conrad is I can take umbrage where none was intended. Oops! Okay, so it's not just post-C, it's been a trait most of my life! Post-C, however, I am very cautious of anyone who 'comes on too strong' for my sensibilities, I look for the ulterior motive. In the case of this man, I took something he wrote shortly after we agreed to no longer date as being about me. Wrong. It was about a dear friend of his whom he'd just discovered was dying of cancer. Happens to be, her initials are, BS -- I took that reference to mean he was calling me on my stuff and read into the entire situation his telling me, in a not so subtle way, that I was full of it. My tunnel vision trapped me into reading between the lines so that I could find something that wasn't there.

Ahhh, the delectable aroma of humble pie tickles my nose and awakens my fancy. I made a mistake. Not life-threatening. Not soul-destroying. But I did jump to conclusions and did act rashly -- and that's where much of the learning comes from. In my anger, I took a breath and chose to let go without targeting him with my wrath. I didn't lash out in retaliation. I did indulge in less-than thinking of him.

And that's where I need to wake up and be accountable. When I presume someone else is acting out of childish churlishness, I am making assumptions that have nothing to do with their reality -- everything to do with mine.

In the end, my decision to not be involved in a business opportunity with him is still okay. But, I need to look at my culpability in assuming who he was based on my faulty reading of the situation.

All of this came clear yesterday when he called to ask me about my involvement in his business venture. I had sent him an email telling him of my decision to not be involved -- which he never got. He read about it somewhere else (okay here) and phoned me yesterday for clarification. In telling him about the BS, he mentioned his friend. I went back, read what he wrote and realized -- I'd got the message all wrong.

Communication can be such a tricky thing when filtered through the screen of my self-centered righteousness!

The lesson. It's not all about me! Doesn't have to be.

And that's where I came down from my high horse, got in the moment real and apologized for my assumptions that he was being anything other than who he is -- an awesome human being on the journey of his lifetime, just like me.

Fortunately, humble pie is good for me. It balances out my ego with a healthy dose of reality. It clears up fuzzy thinking, re-wires my faulty perceptions and breathes fresh air into the space between reality and the dandelion puffs blocking my vision of who I am meant to be when I let go of my need to be anything other than my very best self.

I learned a lot yesterday. About me. About my human condition and about my awesome ability to make mistakes -- even when I think I'm oh so right!

Life is all in our perceptions. What we make of them is what makes the difference between living real, and living high on a horse galloping off into the sunset of misconceptions.

Today, I'm dismounting. Dusting off my chaps and picking up the reins of stepping lightly through my day in the light of truth, dignity, honesty and trust. I'm getting real with being real. I'm letting go of what was so I can leap into the possibilities of what is when I stay centered in my light of knowing, I'm okay, in all kinds of weather, as long as I let go of magical thinking that whatever happens, it's all about me.

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