Beneath the Skin of Conversation: an Aspie’s Interpretation of Communication

The hardest part of the communication process for me is in the act of sensing others’ expectations of me. In other words, when conversing in written or spoken form I can often detect the way someone expects me to respond in words and actions to his or her words and actions; and as a result, I feel an uncomfortable sensation and pressure to perform and live up to expectations, as if I have unwillingly been written into some theater script.

Sometimes, if I don’t act and sound the way another expects then he or she responds in a manner, e.g., with words, inflection, posture, body movements, tone, etc., that reflect defense or question. Often, during conversing, even online, I feel another person reaching into me: a type of octopus probing.

Before conversing, I prepare myself emotionally and physically for a bombardment of others’ expectations. Not out of defense or fear, but out of the constant exposure, and my resulting adaptation of self. It’s a type of communication assimilation, one in which I wasn’t effectively given a choice, but rather forced into the pattern of give and take in order to escape isolation and not feel entirely obsolete and ostracized. I rather joined in to release myself of the pain of being alone; not because I agreed or fancied the way the discourse presented itself, but because my only choice was to join in or remain outside the perimeters of society.

Recently, I have concluded that if others’ expectations of me bring me discomfort, my expectations must in turn, whether at a conscious or unconscious level, bring others discomfort. Thusly, I practice daily releasing expectations for all people. I have let go of my unspoken expectations to be understood, heard, comforted, loved, etc. Having let go of most expectations, the challenge now is at a deeper level of my psyche.

I know myself enough to realize I still hold onto expectations regarding others. I still want them to release expectations of me. Wanting another to release expectations of me is an expectation on my part. This is clear.

I now detect with great awareness many wants and needs individuals bring into a conversation, which at times I can perceive as much unspoken ‘unfinished’ business and emotional baggage. Most of these complexities of needs and desires are at a deep level hidden below the surface so that even the individual is unaware of what he or she is bringing into the conversation.

I theorize, even if others could recognize these needs and unspoken feelings in self, and I could attempt to appease and soothe their insecurities, nothing would be accomplished at the core-level. As their esteem isn’t based on my response or surrendering to a game of ego-stroking; their esteem is something that must be built from the inside out.

For myself, I take no issue to addressing my exact needs. I am in touch with my core being. I was born this way, I believe, as most are, but much of our core-self is hindered and hammered by the indoctrination of societal expectations. I, for one, have no challenge in admitting I am in need of comfort, I am frightened, or I am feeling insecure. I recognize myself as a human being with a full range of emotions. The difference I find between myself and many others, is I will simply state without fear, when I need something. I am matter of fact. “I feel ugly. Tell me I am pretty.” I don’t hint or create scenarios in which I hope another will fulfill me. I simply state what it is that I am experiencing, whilst also recognizing I am the only one who can build myself up into a state of wholeness. When I reach out, I reach out fully, without secrets.

When I sense others’ expectations, as the observer I am dumbfounded at times in how to ‘act’ in a conversation. To me, saying what I think another wishes for me to say is not truth, but instead a type of false-validation in which I am playing a role and fulfilling an unspoken expectation based on another’s deep-seeded insecurity. This might sound cruel, but I don’t believe it is. I think instead, I view things at a deeper-lever than the typical person. I see what is beneath the skin of conversation, and much like a doctor, I am able to detect through observation and study what the patient cannot readily detect alone.

I am diving in deeper to the analysis of conversation and recognizing a familiar truth established thousands of years ago by philosophers, gurus, and spiritual teachers. The truth of freedom in all things, including conversing, is truly in the process of letting go. Letting go is freedom that doesn’t exist with thoughts of the future. All expectations are woven into the future and created from material of the past: the remnants of material based on the scaffolding of personal interpretations.

As of late, I have noted certain people trigger my own need for ego-stroking. I give my power over to the ones I supposedly ‘love’ the most. However, at closer look, I give my power over to those I ‘attach’ to the most. For in my view, love does not encompass fear or expectations, not even needs. Love is enough in and of itself.

Today, I am facing the challenge, a journey which often feels equivalent to being scraped on the inside with a razor blade to spirit, of releasing expectations of validation from those I love most deeply.

I am granting them the freedom that I desperately wish granted to me.

This is an all engulfing and brutally life-transforming, releasing process. Yet, I find in the moments of solace, in-between the effort and pain, I can at last breathe, in that I have shed the hypocrisy of self, by treating others as I truly wish to be treated.

431: Confessions of an Aspie Girl

Confessions of an Aspie Girl

1. I hate getting up in the morning. Why? It’s not that I don’t have the ability to like the day. I just don’t want to have to get up and do it all over again. I mean I just did the exact same thing the day before, e.g, shower, brush teeth, choose clothes, discard clothes, choose different clothes, stress about my food intake, wonder if coffee is good for me, stress over my next step—and man was it fricken exhausting! No one, well most people, has the slightest clue how much energy I exert just to be. I mean when I hear the words “be in the moment” and “stay present,” I am already thinking RUN! For me, being is like running up hill sideways with my eyes crisscrossed and my feet bound in piercing Velcro, while my arms are flapping to the beat of someone else’s heartbeat and I’m trying to recite the alphabet backwards. By the first hour of thinking and mundane activity, I am smashed. Surfer-punched smack off her surfboard and pounded into the rocks. Theme music in the background: WIPED OUT. And then, lucky me, if I conquer the day, at least a portion of the day, say 18.984 percent, then I get to retreat to the couch that has a permanent dent from my lounging hours, where I try to rest but end up, for the trillionth time, in some complex dialogue with a part of myself that really never learned to shut her mouth.

2. I like people but they bug me. Actually, I adore lots and lots of people, but I see way too much. I see past the nuances and suggestions and idioms and babble, and I grow so weary. I am thinking and pondering about approximately one hundred things and tangents compared to each singular concept another brings up in conversation. I am distracted by the webbing-style of my brain that largely resembles a graphic organizer big corporations use to plot out their schematics for the next decade. Trying to listen to a conversation in completion is an impossibility, unless I am in my Zen moment and steadily repeating each word said by my acquaintance back to myself and staring off with a peaceful tranquil demeanor. Even then, I am reviewing the rules of active listening and trying to recall at least a page of my Buddhist teachings. In the silence, I am baffled by all that my senses are taking in. I leap and run all over in my head, dissecting the molecular bits of a person. So much to chew off and digest that I am actually considering the act of investing in a pair of dark glasses—so dark I can’t see—so that at least one sense is blocked. Then I only have to deal with the distraction of the bombardment of various noises, odors, textures, and bodily sensations. At least with glasses I won’t be ice-skating about in thought regarding visual vomit, about to fall on my butt and shatter the ice, whilst distracted by the idiotic protruding mole on someone’s face reaching out and wanting to form a conversation with me. “Hi I am mole. I am big. I used to have a hair in me like a witch, but it was plucked out. Do you wonder why hairs grow faster on moles? Maybe you should Google it? What are the signs of irregular moles again? For a mole, I look healthy. Still ugly, though. I would have removed me. How much does it cost? I wonder if I have a soul, and where I would go if you burn me off. Hey, maybe you should listen to what the person who owns my face is saying.”

3. Forming thoughts hurts, but forming sentences is far worse. I connect rules to words. Yes, each word is alive and a willing or non-willing participant. Some words deserve center stage, depending on my mood, and some words…well they deserve the dank of a dark dungeon. I couldn’t say the word ‘vagina,’ until I was in my early-forties—which was another life time ago, because as you know I am effectually 39 forever. And words like fu** and other connotations that suggest what my boys were watching two spiders (likely) do on our window last night (interesting..couldn’t tell if they were eating each other or enjoying themselves) still makes me feel like I am in a library with my hair in a bun wearing a prudish ruffled blouse. Think Mary in the altered life of George Bailey in It’s A Wonderful Life. If you haven’t seen the movie, that really is the hugest mistake in your life. In constructing thoughts I run into constant roadblocks and detours. Case in point, my steering off the road to discuss a movie you should have watched twenty times by now, if you have an ounce of good taste in your bones. See how I judged you? That’s what I do with words. Is this one too provocative? Is this the best word choice? How does that word feel? He feels too fat, too heavy, too mundane, too cliché-like, too over-used, and so on. It’s not about perfection. The process is more akin to picking out the ground I want to walk on. The soles of my feet know that some foundations feel better than others. I mean I’d take clean laminate flooring over ten-year old carpet any day, and I’d much rather risk the residue on green grass then the debris on concrete, while shoeless. And I’ve gone off on tangent again, visualizing all the ways in which my feet can travel, and all the dangers flesh faces.

4. Life is fricken scary! Life doesn’t come with a guidebook or rulebook or anything, and all these grownups are trying to figure out what direction to go, what to say, how to be, what to do, and are pointing fingers this way and that, and sporadically jumping from one idea to the next, clinging to this hope, and then moments or decades later, another hope. And it confuses the heck out of me. Tears me open like an over-exposed vulnerable fish with her guts hanging out and seagulls hankering about for a ripe piece. I know enough to know I know nothing, and to watch all this chaos wobbling about like those weeble-wobble toys that don’t fall down, but get overwhelming annoying in their inability to go anywhere and do anything but remain stagnant, gets to the very bone of me. I feel nibbled upon and broken. I don’t want to be told what to do or how to be, but at the same time I want some almighty guru, higher-power, or at least Mother Nature’s henchman, to come down and point the real way. I am tired of people reinventing the right way and the wrong way, and proclaiming who is good and who is bad, and telling me what I can and cannot do, down to how I parent, who I spend time with, what I spend time doing, and worse what I spend time ingesting spiritually and mentally and physically. In truth, at times, I think humanity has reached an all-time low! I mean people have left the concrete physical examples of how to act and now are needling past the skin of others and dictating, preaching, and insinuating with sour-coated good intentions how people should form thoughts! I mean talk about instilling further fear. Seems like a diabolical plan to me: I know how to really inject terror. Teach people how their thoughts are bad. I mean, it’s not enough to teach them that they are bad, wrong, flawed, broken and in need of repair. Let’s indoctrinate them with how they are innately wired wrong in that their actual thoughts are imperfect! What a grand plan!”

5. I don’t know what I believe in. I just don’t anymore. I have read and processed way too much. As a child I used to pray every-night in an OCD manner: “Dear God, God bless my mom and dad, my cousins and aunts and uncles, my friends, and my enemies, and everyone I can think of. And please include everyone I can’t think of or am not remembering. I love them too, but I can’t remember them, but they are still important. Please include them. And if I am forgetting anyone else, please watch over them. And bless me too, and my animals and all the people I love and know and who love me and who don’t love me and who don’t know me…..” To cover all my bases, I asked Jesus into my heart when I was a young teenager, primarily because I was sleeping with a rosary around my neck with the lights on every night and warding of demons that were haunting me in my sleep. And primarily because life sucked so much in its confusion, unpredictability, and lack of security that I needed the Big Guy to come in and stand at the door to my heart. At least that way, when the aches of the world pounded on me, I had something/someone, imagined or not, to push back. Now, I have taken in so much clutter from the world that I am left confused and spinning. I have a natural instinctual desire to accept everyone and everything, to be open to forgiveness, to believe in others, and to love. So many religions don’t fit me; that is to say, if the religion was a substance it would feel, if ingested, as shards of glass, and, if worn, like an over-sized sixty-pound cloak of fur of which the shepherd of my flock had forgotten to shave. I just don’t know anymore, and strongly think we need an Aspie prophet to develop a new religion, that’s not called a religion, of course. Because religion is one of those words that munches at my eardrums.

6. Everything is alive. Geeze, I am so tired of caring about things. I mean things, literal things. Like when I go to discard of the peel of the potato. Crap, I am thinking, if I put this in the garbage he will likely end up in the landfill. He would much prefer to be in the compost pile where he is then able to turn into something else and nurture my future garden. I wouldn’t want to be in a landfill. You see, I have this natural tendency to apply my own emotions and experience to inanimate objects. And if you think that is bad, I also do this to most people and animals. I assume, from some part of my being (if I be) that others see and experience the world as me, even though I logically know they don’t. I still get caught up in the thoughts that my pain is another’s pain and that my agony is another’s. This adds some huge chains of ultra-super-charged responsibility onto moi! I mean, I hold the responsibility of the world. I am King Kong demolishing cities of insects, grass blades and potential habitats of living creatures when I partake on a stroll. I am a cruel demi-god slicing and dicing vegetables that I now know might have their own semblance of consciousness in the way they move and retreat from danger. I am this judge and controller of destiny: Off to the landfill for you onion skin! The truth is I know this is all nonsense. Until I read spiritual practices or ‘hippy’ life rules that actually reinforce my way of thinking, albeit at a much less complex and less mortifying degree. I know, I need a pill or a stiff drink, or something stiff, (yes, that’s sexual humor that makes me blush, but nonetheless a truism), to distract me from the cavernous rivers forging through my brain. I can see all the NTs out there (Neuro-typicals) shaking their heads and thinking, “Man, she thinks way too much. Just relax and chill.” If only! Like I choose to be this way. Like with my high intelligence I haven’t researched and entertained a thousand-plus techniques and manners in which to stop myself. I can’t help it. There is this black-and-white movie actor in my mind, with a hunchback and greasy black hair and spikey crooked teeth and pale, unattractive skin, (with a large distracting mole), screeching: It’s Alive!

7. I don’t like me, but I love me. Yes, this is a concept similar to when you have a relative you can’t stand to be around, and would never choose as a friend, and wish wasn’t born into your clan, or at the least you weren’t born into the clan, but you have this unfounded instinctual love that keeps pulling you in because she or he (why don’t we have a non-gender word yet?) is your blood. But it’s different, because I would choose me as a friend, and I do like to be around me, and I kind of think I am super cool at times. So that’s not a super good example. But I like it anyhow. A better example might be when you love your dog, but she does stuff that really messes up your sense of serenity; I don’t know, no names given; but let’s say she piddles when she is anxious, or brings in dead surprises through the doggy door, or digs up to find moles and comes in all muddy and tracks footprints through the house, or smells like last-week’s garbage left out in one-hundred degree weather, and you are way too tired and/or preoccupied to want to, yet, again, deal with the fluffy ball of love’s annoyances. That’s more like it—how it feels to live with me—like I am my own best friend who annoys me too no end at times, but at the end of the day is so warm and cuddly and loyal that I can’t help but overlook all the perceived failings and flaws and pain-in-the-butt doings. So really, let’s erase the first sentence of this paragraph, at least from our memories, kind of like our self-worth has been erased from our memories by big-business, and let’s pretend the first sentence reads: I love myself like I love my dog. I like to pretend.

8. I like my inner world more than my outer world. It’s safe in my head, for the most part. Well, not really, especially when I am looping, spinning, panicking, or feel like this time I am REALLY dying. Feel my heartbeat! But still, with all the slippery slopes, it still feels better than what’s outside of me. I don’t like all the judgment out in the world. I don’t like second-guessing; I don’t like first-guessing; or tenth-guessing. I just wish we all wore our hearts, integrity, and love on our sleeves. I wish that our individual attributes and way of being were accepted and that people were loved just for being. I wish that I lived in a forest with elves (nice ones) and fairies (nice ones) and that the whole world was peaceful. But at the same time, I understand the inner-workings of yin and yang and how opposites serve to accentuate the other, so that pleasure is pleasure, and happiness is happiness. I understand that in order to appreciate more of me and more of another, I am molded and chiseled. I understand to walk in this world in gratitude that I had to experience having less. I know these as truisms, at least truisms of this age. And I too know the concept of balance, acceptance, serenity, surrender, faith and trust. It’s just hard. Because so much of what I see is in contradiction to what is spoken and demonstrated in the world. At least in my mind I know what to expect, even if it’s chaos, even if it’s torture, it is predictable pain: not unexpected hurts inflicted on me by a society I have yet to understand. At least in my mind there are moments of intense fantasy that take me to another place, less filled with misfortune and misgivings. At least, inside of me, I can find the perfection, the love, the guidance, and the hope that the world keeps trying to dismiss and/or take away. I like it inside of me, curled up with the warm puppy, despite the smell, the responsibility, the duty. At least inside, the burden of the world isn’t leaning up against me, and I can hear the tender reassurance of a loving heart.

423: I am enough

Life isn’t simple. It never will be.

As hard as I try to make it so, life will continue to be complex and awe-inspiring, heart-rendering and heart-breaking, and full of a mystery so full that to attempt to empty the bottle of unknown would leave me drowning within the first rendered droplet.

I am this and I am that.

And I see myself as constantly changing, as if I have lived a thousand life times in the span of a few days.

My mind is preoccupied and occupied by both my thoughts and my conclusions, and this gigantic network of interwoven threads of information.

I am constantly spinning. Unlike the spider’s quest, my web doesn’t begin anew; instead I build, scaffolding off of previously filtered information again and again. Some gigantic enterprise continually producing inside of this person I seem to be.

It is odd to look around at the world and take in the rules and regulations, the patterns and shapes, and the ways in which I am told to be and even see.. am told to understand and even how to use my mind to comprehend.

It is odd and extremely confusing to live in this world of extreme rigidness when such a remarkable being I be, full of potential and possibility.

Yet, indeed, I understand the need for structure. Of course without some sort of system all would fall apart and fail; at least that is what I have been told.

That teaching along with so many more that my mind hurts, and like the bottle of unknown spills out into more masses of reasoning upon reasoning.

I want to be simple, I suppose. If I think long and hard about the idea, which takes me a matter of seconds, I can see how simplicity breeds comfort—a false type of security that doesn’t exist in nature. I can see how simplicity eases the soul and leaves one freer to breathe and carry on. And I can imagine myself simple and free, drifting through life with the troubles past me because the challenges were never captured long enough to matter.

But what of my heart? So large it grows. I cannot help but want to complicate matters. Not because I long for disturbance or am the eager eater of drama. Nor nearer is the fact that I am in need of complexity. It is just how I am made: built into this someone who meanders to and fro inside a self that meanders to and fro; an insider watching through a window as the outsider moves. Each step we make either together or separate; each step leading deeper into a knowing that nothing is within control. Even as all about people reach, stabbing onward like phantoms attempting to grasp a steering wheel of hope.

I am not melancholic. At least not always, and essentially not at this instant; still I see enough and know enough to understand that no easement of woes exists. And I watch as bystander within bystander observing the masses create havoc of life in an attempt to alleviate a suffering they do not understand. And I watch, waiting for the games to end, waiting for people to come home to their own selves and to stop the games that seem so endless and limiting all at once. Restricted with manmade boundaries and manmade torture to be something and someone else through process and progress, when all along the someone was already divine and perfectly whole.

It is a type of treachery many succumb to through manipulation, repeated exposure and through the absorption of the spillage of the profiteering fools. How we are played as pawns and how I am made to watch helplessly the empire that calls itself wholesome.

I am not this gentle foolish child set innocent into the world. I am wisdom unfolding through and through. Cherishing the dance I play out in my head, as the dance outside in the place called reality is folded into layers of hatred and trickery. For I am escaping all that I see aching outside. And I am pulling in the answers to the folly and pain. I am reworking the outcomes and calculating the events’ offspring, hoping to counteract the wickedness that seeps through the avenues of discourse and greed.

I am enough into myself and need not partake in the ways that were made by the few to reinvent the perfect ones into blundering self-hating conformist.
And I am enough to know that when the season passes and the lies are exposed, I will remain the same. I will still be here with my honesty, integrity, and abyss of hope-filled love.

I refuse to be created into something I am not. To be made into something that is easier for others to comprehend and forget. To be ironed out and made flat and non-dimensional, so the waves I create no longer disturb those adrift in their own murky dark sea.

I am me. And in this I am everything. In this I can reach out my hand to another who is still breathing by her own accord and wish, through the pain of the world, and take hold of purity and hope.

I am me, and in embracing all I am, I have the capacity to embrace all that another be, before the blindfolds were attached and the ground moved asunder, so that floating ghosts appeared where banished souls once traveled.

I am enough and empowered with light, so that where I travel the warriors of angels come and guide me.

In my folly, in my surrender, in my imperfection painted as a coat of varnish on my silky silhouette, I am still enough.

I am everything and nothing. I am entirely filled and emptied.

And in each way I move and think and live, I am a testimony to truth and fairness.

I refuse to be what the world wants to make me into. Refuse to climb out of who I am to be someone I am not and leave but a shell of what I was created to be. For no one can fulfill their potential half-empty or entirely gone. And no one can withstand the weight of the world beneath the burden of their own disheartened soul.

Whole I stand. Undone and complete. Entirely me. And when the others shake because I am, I shall reach out again to find the hand that used to be, and offer my love. Over and over I shall reach, if not into my outer world then into my own self to pull out what has been formed and blended into the miracle of making, and to offer out what is no longer mine and undoubtedly the thread of love that keeps us sewn in strength.

To pull out of the game long enough to remember I was neither born a pawn or made into less than enough. And to remember I am here in serenity, fulfilling my dreams, the ones born onto me beyond the misery of fools’ making.

273: Come, My Lady. You’re My Butterfly

“I think he might like me,” I told my husband, in reference to a man at a coffee shop.

“What do you mean?” my husband asked.

“Well, he was smiling and taking interest in me,” I answered.

“Honey, he doesn’t like you; he doesn’t even know you. He is attracted to your body or something about you physically. That is different from liking you.”

“Oh,” I answered.

The next day, as I was heading out the door to go to the grocery store, my husband said, “Remember if a man looks at you because he is attracted to you that doesn’t indicate that the man likes you. You are a very pretty woman who some men find attractive. But their attention doesn’t mean they like you.”

I found his words to be a mixture of both comfort and confusion.

I am slowly, very slowly, learning the social innuendos regarding communication with men. I never knew there were so many unspoken rules when speaking with men. It’s fair to say I’ve got the female social interactions down, but now there seems to be this whole other guidebook regarding men.

I think, for me, having not had the example of a healthy father and mother relationship, nor brothers, or even uncles that I knew well, as a child, meant that I never had the chance to really learn how to interact with a man, except single men I sought after to make my husband. (starting at age six)

And, I guess, too, the actions of predators in combo with the uncouth behavior of some other men, added to my confusion of my place in the world as a woman.

I only had one male friend as an adult for a very short time. He wasn’t actually a friend, really, more of a member of a support group that I belonged to, a man about fifteen years older than me, who I once in a while saw outside of the support group–maybe once or twice. I was involved with another man at the time—obsessively. So I never saw my friend as anything but a friend.  And I was like a little sister, to him.

Interestingly, after lacking in male interactions for over four decades, I’m still looking at males the same way I did when I was six. They might have aged, and I might have aged, but the little girl inside of me is still wondering is that my prince?

It doesn’t matter that my husband adores me, and that I think he is a very dear man. I doesn’t matter that I logically understand that there is no prince out there. What matters is I still have this pattern. I still see men as someone who I want to make love me. That if they love me then I am of worth. But this love isn’t based on how they see me inside; it is based on how they see me outside.

Likely, (obviously) there are still some Daddy Issues; the holding, hugs, kisses and I love you’s from a father that never materialized.

The fact that I need validation of my physical worth from a male, more so than a female, and that indeed a female’s opinion of me, unless repeated over and over, does null for my self-esteem, is troublesome.

Logically, I recognize that the opinion of another is not a reflection of my worth, but somehow I still hold onto a man’s words and actions towards me more than my own belief and love of myself.

I’ve grown up some in the last few months, grown up to the point that I am hyper-aware of my thought processes, actions, and my emotions. There are very few moments in the day that I’m not an observer of self: outside of my own body watching me exist and walk through the steps of my day.

I understand what I am doing in regards to the power I grant men. I used to think it was shyness, now I think it is a not knowing, a not understanding, a confusion and displacement of ease. Standing near any man close to my age or older, causes my ears to turn red and face blush.  Almost any grown male seems to put a magical spell of nervousness, meekness, neediness, and insecurity upon me. I naturally become a shy, flirtatious giggle machine, complete with batting eyes and the flushing cheeks.

Photo on 12-9-12 at 3.22 PM

I realize that I was basically unseen and unnoticed, very much invisible, in most areas of my life, until I blossomed at the age of fourteen and began to gain attention based on my appearance. I was homecoming princess, popular, and dated a very handsome boy. I learned then that my looks could serve as a form of power: a way of being seen.

I learned to equate being seen with having worth.

I am starting to reprogram my prior learnings.

I am interacting with males more and recognizing they are no less powerful or magical than females, that their opinions are not more important than others’.

The hardest part is I still don’t understand the nuances of male/female communication. I don’t understand how much I should look into a man’s eyes, how close I should stand, how I should smile, what my tone should sound like, what topics are socially appropriate. I don’t understand what most people seem to learn subconsciously through experience.

I understand now how often men have actually flirted with me throughout my life. I understand now why, in high school, I shouldn’t have been having an ex-boyfriend massage my back when I was involved with a new beau.

I am starting to understand how I surely give out mixed signals, matching and mirroring a male, thinking that reacting as a mirror-image is the safe and appropriate technique. After all, it works with females!

I feel so very alien and unprepared for earth, as I approach the male zone.

In dealing with male encounters, I don’t want to come across as a prude, or rude, or stuck up, or extremely shy, or as a flirt. I just want to come across as me. The problem is I don’t know what that looks like.

I’ve trained myself to make facial expressions based on my environment and whom I am with. I’ve trained myself to act in the best way possible, to not lose female friendships and to not embarrass myself.

I don’t have a natural facial expression. I don’t know what that even means. It used to be, if my face was relaxed that my mouth was downturned, and I then appeared mean and unapproachable. For a few years, I walked about with slightly puckered lips. Silly, but true. Now my face has been trained to be in a constant puffy-cheeked smile in public.

I looked at my husband the other night, as he was checking me out, and I said, “Okay. So I’ve added a new understanding, a new rule to this computer brain of mine. I have new input.  I now know that a man looking at me doesn’t mean they like me. But now I am confused, because you look at me with desire all the time. So does that mean you don’t like me? Does that mean you only care about my body?”

My husband then spent the next several minutes explaining to me about the concept of getting to know someone, of how attraction can turn into like, and like to love, and then, after time, the person is liking the whole of you.

I stared back at him with a quizzical expression. My eyes grew wider. “I don’t understand,” I said. “In all my male relationships (boyfriends) I loved the person as soon as I met them. It didn’t change. It doesn’t grow. It just was.”

I went on to explain my perception of love. That yes, indeed, I can grow to respect a person, to enjoy their company, to take great pleasure in learning from them, and grow in companionship and familiarity, but that my love doesn’t grow. It remains the same.

I began to see, through my husband’s explaining, that clearly I  don’t experience life as many people do, particularly love. I don’t experience relationships in the same way, either—or communication.

Last night while at the local store grocery store, I asked a handsome store employee for some help finding a dessert wine. I know little to nothing about wine. Just asking a man for help is a huge step for me. I have to stop myself from staring at my feet, stuttering, giggling, and staying stuff that is just plain stupid.

He asked if I was going to need the dessert wine for dinner, for dessert, or after dessert, and what dessert I was having. He said this while staring deeply into my eyes, as if searching, and connecting. I stared back for a while. Locked eyes. I was processing.

I didn’t know why I wanted the wine, or what I was going to have the wine with. I just wanted to have something sweet. I processed how the man was looking at me, and I did what I knew to do, I stared back, mirroring the man, as I processed his communication skills thinking: This man is really good with eye contact. I wonder if my mascara is smeared. My ears are on fire. I am nervous. Can he tell? I’m so glad I have this hat on.

 So many thoughts, so very fast. With even more intense eyes, I offered, “I don’t know why I want the wine; I just want to drink it.”

I think I came across as giggly, clueless and cute, perhaps even flirtatious. Not my intention.

The man was standing very close, and very, very kind. (I think) He spent five minutes with me giving me a mini-lesson on wine, and showing me his favorite. I kept thinking: He doesn’t like me. He might find my eyes pretty. That’s why he can’t stop staring. And I think he swiped a peek at my butt, but he doesn’t like me.

The entire time I was listening to the brown-eyed man, I was simultaneously analyzing his body language, his choice of words, his proximity, his inflection, his everything. I noted there was some attraction going on, but I couldn’t tell if he was interested or flirting, or just nice to everyone.

In retelling the story to my husband, he took in the clues and observations of my encounter with the store worker, and reported that likely this man was somewhat interested in me. He reminded me I was an attractive woman. (He lingered at my beauty for awhile. Bless the dear man.) He explained that if a man instead of a woman had approached and asked this employee about wine, he likely would have been shorter in his explanation, not have locked eyes the entire time, and not smiled and offered out his favorite wine. He wouldn’t have been standing as close either.

I still don’t know. I told my husband, in all seriousness, (and while slightly tipsy from the port wine in hand), that I’d like him to come to the store with me the next time and stand back an aisle or two away, and watch how men approach me and interact with me, and tell me if they are flirting.

He said, “Honey, I really don’t take pleasure in watching other men pick up my wife.”

Hmmmmmmmm. Hadn’t thought of that.

For now, I guess I’ll keep watching men watch me, and calculate what it means. Take note in my little imaginary spy book. Note that a stare at my  bottom doesn’t mean like, and definitely not love. Note that a prince isn’t likely out there roaming the wine aisle waiting to take me away to his castle to live happily ever after.  Note that the attention towards my outward appearance doesn’t note my worth. Nor does the lack of attention. And note that though I may appear to others as an experienced butterfly, I am still very much a naive nervous caterpillar quivering inside.

Post 246: Inside of Me

Sometimes I set rules upon myself. Rules that have stuck to me from a time before.  Perhaps a word, a saying, a post, a telling, an insult, or advice. Perhaps the news, a reading, an article, or a thought. Rules that materialize and become real, and have a life of their own. They live. They breathe. And they wallow in me. They make me cry or weep or scream.

Sometimes the rules feel thick and deep: muck and mire and all things fire. Sometimes the rules feel light and airy, with a consistency of jello—something to bounce off of and expand into. I get trapped and confused and mingle in the ever-changing texture.

Sometimes the rules feel bleak and non-purposeful, not necessary, silly, or even stupid; as much as I despise the word stupid, the rules feel that way. All contorted, sorted, and placed out to trap and confuse. To leave downtrodden and in misery.

Sometimes the rules feel abstract and unreal. Like an invention to appease the masses or control, or mask what rests beneath.

There are rules to everything and everyone, as if we are part of some gigantic game. Move forward this way and in that direction, but not too fast or too slow, or too willingly, or too purposely. Step back and allow space, but not that much space or that much emptiness. Fill up this area. Not so high, though, and not so narrow. Go wider. Go denser. Go more to this side. Not there. There. Over there!

You see? You see the rules, how they sway and mix and mingle and disperse? How one builds atop the other and then just vanishes like the light of day; when all along the sun remains. The rules remain. They are like a haunting, a ghost with an endless appetite that eats away, dismembering thoughts and peace. Taking the peace of mind with the pieces.

I am not a woman of rules. I am a woman of being, of breathing, of living, of feeling, of experiencing, of accepting, of loving.

If you do not have rules then you cannot set me in a box, place me where you think I belong, where you think I dwell. If you do not have rules, you cannot see me with eyes of judgment and distaste, cannot build me up, only to knock me down and watch as I bleed.

If you do not have rules, you cannot make me bleed.

Rules. What are they? What do they be? And how do I stop the rules inside of me?