Friday, November 27, 2009

The Fear in my Mirror

I am afraid.

It's difficult to admit that because I'm a guy. I'm not supposed to be - you know - so open with my feelings but I need to tell you: I am afraid.

And I'm not sure what I'm afraid of. What I do know is that I've made some choices recently that allowed me to invest a lot of time and energy into something and it didn't pan out the way that I had hoped. Grin - isn't it always like that? You meet someone, you strive to impress, you do what you think are the right and appropriate things, there seems to be something worthwhile and meaningful in there somewhere, and you wipe away the foggy condensation from the mirror only to find yourself looking in. It was really just you all along. It was something you saw, perhaps fabricated, maybe something you hoped for. What ever it was, you misread it. You made a mistake. Maybe it never existed. You misjudged and erred.

I am afraid of that.

Yes. I'm afraid of making mistakes.

Another mistake.

I don't ever want to make another mistake. I've made too many mistakes in my life. I really can't make many more; I don't have too much of my insides left to spoon out now.

Lately I have felt colder, harder, cynical, less trusting, hypercritical of my own actions and sense of value, confidence. If I work out more, it helps. I get sucked back into work where it feels safe, emotionless, goal-oriented, and it's something I'm good at. It's something where I rarely make mistakes. My work is warm, loving, and accepting, and Polyfulcrum reminds me of all the better choices that I've made and reassures my soul.

Yet right now, I'm looking at this profile in another tab in my browser, and... I'm waiting. I'm afraid. She seems nice. Poly. Likes board games. Seems to be into many of the same things I am into. Likes to laugh, and it'd be a pleasure to talk to somebody about happy and uplifting things, maybe something besides work. She has a nice smile. I could send her a message.

But... I'm afraid. Oh my God, I'm really afraid... It's just something else I could screw up. Just another foggy mirror. I can't tell. I can't tell. I'm polyamorous. This is what I'm supposed to do. Right?

In another tab of my browser right now is email for work. That's easier. I toggle between this and my email and avoid the whole thing. It's easier to close it all down. And I do.



Sue said...

Our family is poly. The three of us are very comfortable together most of the time. What you seem to be talking about, however, is a new poly relationship, and I appreciate your willingness to be honest about the fear of starting something new. I am never good at the new relationships. They are, from my perspective, full of risks and potential threats. I am not the sort of poly person who sees all kinds of possibility in a new connection. It scares me and I'd prefer the comfort of what is solid, known, established. Beginning new requires a willingness to believe, to risk, to take the chance. I think doing that is brave. I hope it works for you.


Sue said...
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Anonymous said...

Oh man, I don't really know what to say to you but your post has moved me to try.

I understand how you feel. You sound like me in a way. I do not open up easily. Opening up means a risk that I can be hurt. That is often not acceptable to me, at least subconsciously.

Until, I think about all I've gotten from those I have opened up to. Sure, I get the hurt I was afraid of and wanted to avoid. However, all the good things I get from them are in far greater measure.

And I don't just mean in a poly relationship. I'm going to share the bare minimum I can for an example. Gator and I have two grandsons. Events happened that we do not get to see the first one and probably never will again. That's a long story and not going there. However, when our son divorced the mother of his second son, it made us afraid things could happen with him that made it where we wouldn't be able to see him either. Gator didn't let it affect how he was going to deal with grandson 2. I wanted to hold myself back from him in order to avoid the possible pain I had gone through with grandson 1. I eventually got past that and I get so much from him. He is a huge source of joy in our lives. And I would be missing out on that if I hadn't opened up to him.

Good luck! I wish I had good advice for you.

polyfulcrum said...

As you know, S, I recently had a similar experience where I thought I was connecting well with someone, and then they just...dropped out.

While it was disappointing and a bit hurtful, what I've found with this, and other similar experiences over the years (yes, it happens to women too!), is that it seldom has much to do with me, and I am still learning valuable lessons I can apply to my future relationships. There will be opportunities to choose more wisely for myself.

In the interim, I cherish the relationships that I have, and the people I share them with, as the gift in my life they are!

livingtotears said...

ouch, about getting hurt. sending hugs... i echo polyfulcrum's words that often the disconnect is really about the other person, and not you.

some other possibilities that might be useful to consider:

even when it's about me, for me, it's been useful not to let myself talk about it as a "mistake" or to let the other person's view of me reduce my own center. surely there are aspects of myself that i can improve. maybe the other person's view enables me to find some of those areas i missed. even if that's the case though, i don't need to take on feeling less-than... "no one can make you feel inferior without your consent." it can be hard to balance feeling like there are things about myself to improve, without also feeling inferior in some ways. yet ironically, i'm better able to identify and make those changes when i don't consent to feeling inferior about them.

whether the disconnect is about me, the other person, or both of us... people are complicated... it takes a long time to get to know each other. even if i have given a lot of thought to whether someone seems to be a good fit for/with me, it may be that it initally looks as if we are, and then more information and experiences together lead me to think not.

maybe it's like the scientific method...? we have some criteria and factors we wish to consider... then we have a theory that we might be a viable good fit... then we spend time together, and have discussions together, and experience life together to see if the theory holds up.

was it einstein or edison who said something about not having failed... but having learned piles of things that won't work? i like to think of the things i learned that don't work as part of the research data of my life, as opposed to thinking of them as mistakes.

perhaps that's a delusional semantics game, yet i believe that with my thoughts, i make my world. i can pick myself back up, ponder and analyze what i learned, and try again with more refined data better if i consider that i've learned something, instead of feeling like i made a mistake.

by letting myself call and think about it as a mistake, i'm more prone to lose confidence and self-esteem, second guess myself about everything, and get wound up in fear instead of feeling empowered by having more useful data to incorporate into what i will do now and in my future.

for me, the words matter a lot ~ especially when i'm already feeling sad about a situation. at those times in particular, i'm more prone to having some words feel like they cut me down further, so those are times i try to work extra hard to choose words and perspectives that enable me to see what knowledge, info, facts i've gained, so that i feel more empowered, and more capable of making better choices about a good fit in the future.

that said... i might be a little extreme in thinking that word choices can make such a dramatic difference. so that might just be a me thing.

for me, it's reflective of a Thomas Edison quote: "Results! Why, man, I have gotten a lot of results. I know several thousand things that won't work." in the research project of life, i've found that sort of data to be a sometimes painful but "good" thing.

livingtotears said...

about this part...
"It's just something else I could screw up. Just another foggy mirror. I can't tell. I can't tell. I'm polyamorous. This is what I'm supposed to do. Right?"

i'm guessing that's stream of consciousness...? and/or you have pondered the situation and believe that the connection is worth pursuing, and obstacle is currently just your own fear?

in case it's not stream of thought, and/or a reflection of an intentional direction you'd like to try...

reacting to the concept of what i'm "supposed" to do, in monogamy OR polyamory... isn't our script our own to write?

polyamory allows for more love, yet that doesn't mean that i'm supposed to or need to pursue more love. for me, it's been more of a freedom to pursue something if a potential good-fit person happens to come up in my life.

even for a good fit though, there might be times where i'm already dealing with enough transition, work, parenting, internal ponderings, etc. that it's not a good time, even if it could be a good fit people-wise.

based on past posts from the three of you, i suspect i'm preaching to the choir on that one, yet also knowing how easy it can be to fall into thinking about things i "should" do based on being monogamous, polyamorous, a mom, a good employee, etc. it seems useful to remember that some of the "should's" i feel in life might benefit from implementing the "question authority" concept, to see if the authorities' view of what i should do reflects my own wants, needs, truth.

wishing you peace, confidence, love, and journeys that feed your heart and soul...

Anonymous said...

Hi Swan -

Yes - I was referring to risk, I guess, for getting into a new relationship. I am finding it difficult to muster the confidence to "try again", and I feel a lot of the same things that you feel concerning potential threats. I just don't trust it at first. I can feel that becoming more so. I'm sure the brave feelings will come - thank you; for now, I'm regrouping and trying to increase troop morale or something :).

OurQuad - hi! I only recently discovered your blog, believe it or not, and added it to my reading list (grin). I need to create a WordPress account so I can leave replies (laugh). Thank you for sharing and for your kind words. I was in a very frightened space when I wrote this - I just had no confidence for pressing the "reply" button and actually engaging this person. I don't have too much success with online profiles/meetings anyway. Shrug...

PF - I know your situation in that connection was puzzling, especially since I'm intimately familiar with how much you had to offer (grin). Truly: his loss - and I enjoy all of the time we get to spend with each other.

LivingToTears: Hi! And thank you... I could probably re-assign another word to my feelings from "mistake" into something more constructive. I feel, though, a failure of personal investment or something, and that's a challenge for me. And I think it was Edison... took a thousand bad attempts to create the working model. I just don't want to plow through a thousand partners, wasting their time and disrupting their lives... My ordered perspective of the universe struggles to find more efficiency (grin). I'm sure time will bring about confidence and maybe a change in terminology (grin)... Thank you...