After realizing I was possibly emotionally unavailable, I needed to do some more research which involved digging into what this meant and how to change my own patterns. So, I went to the best blog I could think of, The Baggage Reclaim. Natalie Lue is so great at breaking down relationships, emotional availability, etc. I have loved her blog and podcast for years so I figured she would have a post or episode all about this. Sure enough, she does! Baggage Reclaim blog post dated June 7, 2017 ~ 48 Ideas for Increasing Emotional Availability. I thought I was emotionally available until I became aware that my patterns were as unavailable as those I was attracting. Right...I attract what I need to work through...hmm.
I started reading through her post. 48 Ideas for Increasing Emotional Availability...
#1 - Which emotions are you trying to shut out? Avoiding some intensifies others, some get misinterpreted.
What am I trying to shut out? Abandonment, betrayal, hurt, rejection.
What is intensified? Attention, affection, desire for love and belonging, lust.
#5 - ID your relationship character. Who do you become when attracted to someone or in a relationship? Things you say, do think, that are a departure from who you are, maybe cause anxiety, resentment and pain. What do you avoid and what boundaries are forgotten?
This one was really eye-opening when I actually wrote down all the values I shove aside, all the shit behavior I put up with and the things I do that aren't true to myself. I can be a chameleon and come across as such likable person when sometimes it has come at the expense of me not liking myself. To summarize what's happened in some of my past relationships is that I put all my own wants and needs aside so Mr. X (who should have very little weight in my life) will hopefully "like" me. All the while I have just treated myself in the same ways that I am afraid of someone else treating me. There is nothing worse than self-abandonment, betrayal, hurt and rejection!
Since I had to name my relationship ID character, my relationship persona, I thought Ivona Lustmore would be a catchy name that sounds like a prank name on the Simpsons. Can't you see kids calling down to the bar and asking for Ivona Lustmore. Lol! Ok, so this is who I have become in the past in relationships.
I stay up late and neglect my needed sleep. Eat things I wouldn't usually eat. Listen endlessly to men who talk A LOT. Sometimes I quit even conversing back because I am either clueless about the topic, don't care or am tired of listening. Either way when it comes to that, they don't really know or care either way because I'm just a sounding board, not an active participant in the conversation. I compliment and validate a lot of shortcomings. Put up with a lot of shit that I would never endure from a female or just a friend. If they say they don't want a relationship or have been in relationships in the past where they've repeatedly cheated, I will still pursue them like a game. It's a chase and I always lose, but it's somehow distracting enough to keep up the drama. I don't listen even when they say things like, "why do you like me?" or"I'm a disaster." I overlook my own needs and values in exchange for the attention which actually causes me more anxiety, pain and resentment. I don't hold my own values as important. What becomes more important is not letting them down or not making it awkward by cutting things off or facing feelings of complete rejection when I put up actual boundaries. Instead I have lived in a fantasy world that holds false hope that some day they'll realize how great I am and they really want to be with me...happily ever after. I end up not even showing up like ME! Where did I go in all of this? No wonder I worry about "losing myself", because I do.
I have gotten much better at this, but they still sneak in. Sneaky old habits... I think the biggest struggle is to realize when it's not right, admit it and don't pass go. Like really and completely stop. DON'T PASS GO! So many times the doors close then I reopen them. I'm like a curious child and I just need to peak back in and see if they've changed. Maybe we can be friends... No! If it's not fuck yes, then it's no. (If you have never read this article just google Fuck Yes or No for an interesting read).
#9 - Take a dating hiatus. No collecting attention online, texting loose connections, sex, etc. Be in a monogamous relationship with yourself.
I haven't been "dating" anyone recently, but there is the problem of collecting online attention and texting loose connections that has taken up time in my day as I avoid other things I should be doing or dealing with. That's kinda what got me to this project in the first place. The things I'm avoiding are usually my own self care, work, etc.
So, what would I want in me if I were dating myself? Same as what I'd want in someone else... I'd want to hear all about my day, about what I've been learning, creating, reading, where I'm going to travel to next. I'd want to be my best friend because I think that life lovers should also be best friends. They should be each other's "person". That's what I miss most about being married is my best friend. I'd want to wake up in the morning and cuddle in bed, wrapped up like a human pretzel. Then I'd make myself some tea and breakfast, do some yoga. I'd check in and see what I'd like to do for the day...
Sounds a lot like my time in Mexico this year and also similar to my vision of my life in 5 years . Not too far off from my life now...I think I'm already dating myself.
#12 - No contact with ex's or any ex who triggers you to not be your authentic self.
No cruising through the grocery store making a pass through their department hoping maybe I'd just happen to see them. Because then there's the awkward conversation where he suggests we should get a beer sometime and catch up and I agree and say, "yeah...give me a call." It comes out of my mouth like I'm a robot. No thought in that statement because if I were to think about some of these things, I'd say no.
#13 - Own your own and let others own theirs. Quit saying yes when really it's no.
Quit saying yes when it's no.
After the trip to the Twin Cities (in post #1) my friend asked if she could give her co-worker my number. Initially I was like, mmm...maybe... After reading this I texted her and was like, I don't know why I said maybe, it's really no. She said, "Yeah, I know. I speak your maybe, yes, no language." Ahahaha...yes, she knows me too well.
#15 - Read a book about emotional availability.
I've thought about reading Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl by Natalie Lue (Baggage Reclaim blog and podcast) for years, but never did. Maybe now is a good time to read it.
I talked to a good friend who used to be a therapist. She used to always tell me that she wouldn't treat people with active chemical dependency for anxiety and depression unless they agreed to stop using. With alcohol being a depressant and because CD and Mental Health issues are so intertwined, it's just too hard to separate which is feeding the other. My question to her (because I didn't want to believe what I already know) is: are people who are even mildly chemically dependent ever truly emotionally available? No. The answer is no and there aren't exceptions because I don't want to really believe it. Damn it!
This is a check in for me to own what is real. In my own life and for others. It's not for me to make a fantasy story and fabricate the reality I want out of what's really happening. Like picking the fun parts and forgetting the others. It's like trying to forget that winter exists in Duluth, MN because summer happens for 6 weeks out of the year.
It's about holding space. Waiting for the right time, the right person, etc. Not settling for a twinkie when I want chocolate cake. Knowing & being clear, not passively living. Observe, experience, feel, decide. What will it be? The deicisions I make should bring joy to my heart, not confusion or a muddy jumbled mess to my life. Especially not when it comes to people and relationships. Trust in myself to know in my gut...is it yes or no? Then act in the way that lines up with that decision. Actions and words should match. Actions always speak louder than words.
Live with intention each day. Does this decision bring me closer to my dreams? Further away? Neutral? Fuck yes or no? Undecided...pause and hold the space.
I'd hoped by this far into my project, I would feel better than I do. I am finding myself to be a bit anxious, sort of grounded and not feeling joyful. My heart doesn't feel free, but only more reflective as though I'm digging in a never ending heap to find the buried treasure. It doesn't feel good or happy and it's really hard work. Sometimes I wonder why I do this work, but I know it's important.
I have been in communication with an Ayurvedic doctor I saw while in Bali at yoga training. I haven't mentioned this in letting go of my dependencies, as the focus is mostly on my relationships, but intertwined in this process I've been making dietary changes and other lifestyle changes to help my body heal a thyroid nodule that took up residence in my body about 8 years ago.
Based on Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic medicine, a thyroid issue is a symptom of having a blockage in the 5th chakra (or energy center) which lies in the throat. So, as I have been people pleasing, losing myself and not speaking my truth, I received a gift of a thyroid nodule to assist me and remind me daily of the importance of the work I am doing. Turns out the thyroid gland does not thrive on a standard American lifestyle and could do without sugar, alcohol, dairy, wheat, soy and other usual things in our diet. Between acupuncture and now Ayurveda, I am receiving some instruction on helping my body to heal, not only through dietary changes, but also daily yoga for the thyroid and other lifestyle changes. Since I'm already making changes, I figured I would make a solid effort and give up wheat and dairy at this time as well.
I left my dog at doggie cousin camp with my sister for 2 wekes. I was hoping to focus on my project a bit more, but as I soon realized, being without my Delila for this 2 weeks would be a long, lonely few weeks. Not the best decision I made during this time.
One of my biggest insights so far, besides that people who are chemically dependent are not emotionally available is that when I say "maybe", it usually means no and when I say "I don't know", I use this as a filler and I really do know, but don't want to admit it or talk about it. One action and commitment I can make is to use more purposeful language and speaking the truth.
I was out for dinner with a friend today and she asked a great question. If I were to continue casually flirting with Mr. X, without having an established relationship, and one day I learned that he has a new girlfriend, how would that make me feel? Huh...I'd be really sad. That would change our relationship and current way of communicating. Oh right...that's why this doesn't work. I can say that I don't want a relationship, I'm good with casual flirting or whatever it is, but it only works if neither party ever finds a partner. I have sat and had dinner with men who I had previously suggested a relationship with and been turned down then listened to them tell me about other women who they are now officially "dating". WTF?!? I have tried and tried to make my heart get on board with this model of being and it's time to admit that it so does not work for this girl. It's been part of the cool girl persona I have worn since I knew I was attracted to men. In the moment it looks like I'm fun and in private, my heart feels like it is being ripped out of my chest and being thrown at the wall. Eeeewwww! No more.
2 major insights in one day!
If I made a peace accord with myself, what would it be? Am I having an internal civil war? Hahaha! Ok, but really...
I would agree to sticking through the boring times and continuing on with a self-loving path even when it seems uneventful and not very sexy.
Agree to trusting that I will talk the journey when I am called to do so, but not to force or rush things that don't present themselves as a good fit.
To pause and feel with all my heart, is it a "YES!"
To choose. To know that passivity is an unhelpful way of being for everyone.
Maybe means no and IDK means I do know and I don't want to admit it. Speak my truth even when it doesn't lead to being liked and comes with risk.
Overall to be true to myself and dream big with my heart wide open.