Recently two things came into my awareness and were affirmed. One is that I need to spend a bunch more effort finding a different group of women to spend time with. I have spent much of my adult life in community with very spiritual women. I am used to women instinctively trusting me, finding me warm, emotionally brave, very honest and very kind. What I am completely unused to is women dismissing me out of hand as someone to completely dislike and distrust; and doing so with no personal knowledge of who I am as a person. I am unused to gossip playing a part in someone’s assumptions of me, because the spiritual women I was accustomed to spending time with would never indulge their time in gossip; they’d want the empowerment and personal understanding of getting to know me themselves and making their own judgments of my character. Also these spiritual woman all self define as “evolving beings” so they assume that when 0ne person is displeased with an experience of someone, the experience is two sided and no one was infallible and they assume that every person is likely to evolve past a moment of fallibility sooner or later and so they will give that person a chance to prove they’ve grown. Further more, they have no need to change someone in order to accept them. A person is acceptable without being perfect. In fact, not being perfect is preferable because that’s actually authentic and quite interesting.
I want to spend time with women like this again. It was suggested to me last weekend that if I can’t find a community of spiritual women to spend time with, then I might like to try spending time with the lesbian community, because they are more like the women I am used to. First of all, it was nice to have it confirmed that I haven’t suddenly become someone alien just because I moved to VT; that it might actually be who I’ve ended up socializing with that’s the real issue…which is not, in fact, members of spiritual communities. I’m excited about the potential opportunities to make some new friends with warm, open hearted women. I really need that.
Second, (remember I had two points?) I went to a workshop on polyamory this weekend. It was very helpful in that, it helped me recognize that I’ve done a great many things rightly in this situation with Remus…a great many things. That helps a great deal! I have been thinking that I don’t know how to talk to certain groups of women. I do know how to talk to very spiritual women, but I don’t know how to talk to women who see me as competition. Whatever I say or do seems to piss them off. I have accepted at this ripe age, that I may never appeal to those kind of women, but I might be able to express myself better and I might be able to at least successfully convey that I am not interested interested in competition or theft of relationship.
I’d already picked up a copy of Non-violent Communication prior to the weekend, but it was highly recommended to me by our workshop facilitator this weekend. I’m excited to read it. Remus and I agreed to spend some time reading it together. I hope that I can improve my ability to communicate in ways that diffuse defensiveness in future….but the other thing that was pointed out to me with regard to communication is that I can’t be responsible for how others filter information. Sometimes people are just determined to think the worst and I can’t control that. Sometimes people are determined to find fault and twist each action or word to fit their viewpoint of dislike and so actively seek to make a check list of “see, I told you she was an asshole! so they can affirm that dislike to themselves and those they are trying to convince I’m an asshole. There is simply no way for me to change that behavior…
One thing that I took away from this workshop by Anita Wagner is the really terrific handouts, which are on her website for downloading. Just absolutely loads of good information there. I am avid to read two books that she recommended during the workshop besides the one on Non-violent Communication. One, called The 5 Love Languages is here and the other, called The 5 Languages of Apology is here. Both of these sound like they’ll be super useful to me in communicating better.
I think that one of my biggest hurdles in communication is that I freeze or grow silent when I know someone doesn’t like me. I don’t take opportunities to sooth ruffled feathers or to explain a comment to someone. I think this is because I feel helpless to change that person’s mind anyway and hopeless to make the situation better, so I mostly don’t even try. Mostly though, my biggest hurdle is overcoming a sense of defensiveness that I will be hurt and attacked or vilified. Those fears make me silent and very reserved…but in certain situations like polyamory, being silent and reserved is not very helpful.
And I tend to be blunt when I finally do speak up. I am starting to understand that in combination with my reserve and silence, when I do finally speak up, it might very easily be taken as an attack instead of a sincere attempt to try to convey my desire to mutually understand each other and to effectively communicate my desire to encourage a positive experience together. I am still learning. While I have a great deal of experience in polyamorous relationships, I am still learning how to relate to women in positive ways…and I guess my lag time in realizing that I need to work on this is because I didn’t want to deal with my fears about relating to angry or hostile women.
I am realizing that my fears are getting in the way of having long term poly relationships because it puts my partner in the middle of two hurting women when we don’t get along well.
The last thing I want to do is put someone I care about in the middle of a sea of hurt feelings and I most certainly don’t want to hurt another woman. Her heart is just as vulnerable and tender as mine…I don’t want to be hurt either…so I want to learn how to do this better…and I’m very glad to have some ways to educate myself. One of the most valuable resources I’ll have in the months to come is a course on Interpersonal and Sm Group Communication which I am taking this semester. I am hopeful, very hopeful that I’ll be better educated and more capable of constructive communication in future.
And this all leads me back to an old interest of mine in mediation and in consensus style groups…and a reminder from Hypersexual Girl’s blog which made me giggle today:
“Assumptions are the termites of relationships.”
– Henry Winkler