I got my back

So that same chap who suggested I’m over-analyzing all of this, well, he said something…I should say emailed (and, heavens! I do much prefer to actually talk in my relationships — phones are okay, but nothing beats the face to face!) that has me thinking. I haven’t been obsessing over him or anything he’s said, mind you; I was merely meditating last night as I was drifting off and had one of those flashes of clarity that made me go “hmmm.”

First, let me reiterate that I don’t normally share my blogging habit with men to whom I’m attracted. This one, more-like-it (in case you hadn’t guessed), just seemed open enough, strong enough, in the sort of field where he gets the whole creative process thing. It sort of slipped out, I guess. I was hopeful that he wouldn’t take it very seriously…after all, I don’t.

So we’d been flirting a bit and he’d offered to give me a massage sometime…never followed through…and so, in his email, he mentioned that he’s really tempted, but hesitant because he thinks I might interpret that as… And here’s where I have this incredible clarity around the situation:

  • His role is to do as he chooses, push whatever boundaries he wants and, one would hope, to be authentic and honest and communicative in the moment.
  • My role is to mind my own feelings and boundaries, be as authentic in the moment as I can be and, after that, however I interpret his actions is my business. How we react or respond to others has less to do with them and more to do with us. And, thank goodness, I’m at a point in my life where I want to have dialogue (rather than the last word), where I want to build bridges and understanding.

You may recall that I’ve been through the whole marriage counseling thing — and with a counselor who had an excellent reputation. Still, after going through sessions, being called out on my bad behavior and watching as my ex was called on little or none of his…I actually ended up going to individual counseling to deal with the marriage counseling. It would go like this:  We’d have an acrimonious couples’ counseling session in the evening. The next day, at noon, I’d talk with our counselor on the phone to try to re-interpret or process what had happened the night before. (This was great — I got all kinds of juicy information during these talks — but nothing that helped us with our marriage, only stuff that confirmed why it was unlikely to ever really work.) And then I’d go see my own counselor to work on myself and try to get over what felt like an emotional hangover from the couples’ counseling.

My point in recounting this is that I have professional advice as a basis from which to say it… The single biggest take-away I got from my counselor was this:  I am responsible for my happiness. I am not responsible for my partner’s happiness. In fact, she went so far as to say, “It’s your job to make him do the right thing.” And I asked, “Even if he resents me for it?” She replied, “How he reacts is not your responsibility. Let him feel resentful. At least in the end he will have done the right thing.”

This may seem obvious to any emotionally healthy adult but, at the time, I was so in the weeds of my unhealthy relationship that it was a revelation. A huge weight lifted from my shoulders. I didn’t have to try to “make” this man (who was depressed and perpetually unable to be happy) happy. I moved forward, worked on myself, took care of the home and children as best I could, and began implementing those boundaries I’ve written about. I’m not saying I did this all “right” or anything, just that I got the concept.

So, while I can appreciate a man who respects me enough not to want to mislead me, the concern might be a little misplaced. Just ’cause some attractive man is rubbin’ on me doesn’t mean I’m going to let the situation venture into something that feels uncomfortable to me. It’s not his responsibility to worry about how I might interpret or react…because, finally, I’ve learned enough to say with conviction:  I’m a big girl…I got my back.

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