Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Changing Patterns With Opposites

This is a pretty personal post, but I feel a lot of what I write here is important because it is intrinsic to a personal change of mine.

Everyone has consistent patterns that happen in their lives - I know I do, and of course, the general complaint is that these things happen TO us, and not because of us. In some instances that may be true, but I think that the majority of the time, we let these things keep happening to us, and to break a pattern we don't like, usually we have to change ourselves.

For instance, my own patterns have been:

* short, intense relationships, usually with musicians or long distance, most or all effort coming from myself - or ones that never turn into relationships at all, but I keep hoping they will

* friends who constantly flake on me (I always blame my city)

* low paying jobs

These have been the main ones. I've managed to break the first two.

I'll tell you a story - the one that helped me break my pattern.

A couple of years ago, I reunited with someone I had an enormous crush on when I was a teenager. We'll call him Monte. I had a huge crush on this guy for a couple of years when I was about 15-16 years old. We worked together at a record shop, and he was very flirtatious but he was too old for me. Other than a kiss once, nothing happened.
As the internet came around, I searched for him online now and again, never getting results. I had found everyone I'd looked for except him. But, eventually, I did find him.
He lived overseas now, but visited often to see family, and so when he came to town, we got together. We went for dinner, reminisced about the past, and then exploded over each other. After 14 years we got to have each other, and we both (seemingly) fell hard for each other. He was only in town for 3 days, but when he went back overseas, we kept in close touch and it seemed like kismet/fate/whatever. I was a goner.
As time went on, and the sweet words kept flowing, I fell deeper into my blind "love" of this guy, and despite him rarely following through on his promises (he had good excuses, or so I was led to believe - by myself), I continued to believe that this romance was so EPIC and AMAZING that he had to be THE ONE.
God was I wrong. I kept telling myself it was too good NOT to be true. But as usual, it was.
He's a musician, and his touring was one of his excuses, and I heard from him less and less, but I kept on holding out for his imminent return a few months later. Less and less contact. When I did hear from him after a two week absence, it was a pathetic and emotionless message, and then 3 weeks went by with no contact whatsoever.

By that time I was a wreck and had so much anxiety that I could barely function. I couldn't work because I felt ill all the time. I quit my job. I laid around weeping and not eating. My roommate had to bring me food to try and get me to eat. I sent him a message that I spent an entire week crafting to say goodbye. There was no animosity and just a total understanding and heartfelt words. I felt I had lost him to his music, which is something I am used to.

2 months passed, and right before I started my new job, I heard from him. He wrote out this long, emotional letter to me, which left me crying my eyes out, and then he called me and actually convinced me to forgive him. He brought up marriage, kids, the whole lot. He told me that he had freaked out, he didn't know what to do because of the distance, on and on, even though I had been willing to relocate to where he was. He said that he didn't feel worthy of asking me to do such a thing (ha!!)
This guy is a masterful charmer, and I fell for it, even though I had a million red flags - for one, when I was trying to say something in the midst of his long rambles, he called me a shithead. He said, "Hey, shithead!" because I interrupted him, and I lost it. It's the only time I ever spoke up for myself, and I'm glad I did.

What I should have done was hung up. I've never really told anyone about that.

My fear, of course, is that he would disappear again. And two weeks later, he did. He was supposed to come to Canada for Christmas, and told me his arrival date and all - I even went to the airport, hoping to see him. I missed him due to his being detained for getting in a fight with the customs officers. Also, I had seen a photograph of him smoking heroin, which I convinced myself was the source of all the issues.

I never got an apology, and I never got an explanation. It took me a long time to get over, because I had fallen in love with this STORY - I was certain I was in love with HIM, but I was not. He gave me no reason to love him. I wanted the fantasy, the love story, the happy ending to this epic tale. And everyone around me wanted it, too. Most people were behind me, saying it was worth it. Except for one friend who was brave enough to tell me the truth, and really lay into me.
I was so angry at my friend, but two days after ruminating, I knew he was right. And I started to let it go.

I took a sort of sabbatical - I went offline for a couple of months so I could avoid my "ex" (for some reason I wanted to try and stay friends) and just focused on me 100%. It worked.

So, this is a very brief retelling of what really should have been a dazzling 3-day fling instead of a huge drawn-out mess, but even though I went through a lot of turmoil, I'm glad, because I finally had sense knocked into me.

My issue was not awful musicians who fucked me around. It was that I put up with their behaviour. From day two, I should have known better. On that day, he both was really late, and said, "Most of my ex-girlfriends hate me." I never forgot that, and I know why. Again, the next day, late. For months on end, never called when he said he was going to. Always phoning from someone else's place, as if he was stealing their long distance. I can count maybe 2 times he did what he said he would. And he seemed to want to keep me a secret, or that was the feeling I got.

The thing I value most in people is BEING CONSIDERATE. And I let it all go out the window because I was "in love."

Now, this wasn't the only time. I had another guy disappear on me back in 2003, and many others have left me, when I was still there wanting to work it out. I am still friends with all of these guys, by the way, except for the one I just wrote about.

I don't place all the blame on them anymore. I place half of the blame on me, and I always wondered what I did wrong, why I could never get a long-term boyfriend, or a boyfriend at all - why did guys always just want me as their playmate, and why did they never fall in love with me?

I was unsure, but I decided that I was going to do everything different from then on. The opposite of everything!

And I had a grand challenge ahead, because I was put into almost the exact same situation as with "Monte." Another guy from my past came along, another musician I'll call Jay, someone who I had REALLY loved in my past, and who (of course) didn't live here.

We got involved, but I knew right away that it couldn't be more than what it was. I let it happen, and I enjoyed the entire 2 months that we were involved. I refused to believe it would be some fairy tale, and I was okay with this because he had integrity and never promised me anything, and we respected one another. It was insanely difficult to keep my feelings in check, but I wasn't delusional. I still felt much love for Jay, however, I didn't have to be WITH him to love him.

These two guys were very great teachers for me. Instead of considering myself unlucky, I took these two experiences for what they were: strict schooling.

I knew that I still had to change my ways. I decided that the following would have to change:

+ I usually date people far away. So, I will only get involved with people who live in my area.
+ I seem to love musicians. NO musicians.
+ I tend to put in the majority or all of the effort. No effort from them, bye bye. And I will definitely not say "It's okay" if they've done something to really upset me.
+ I fall really hard and really fast for people.Therefore, I will not confuse infatuation with love, ever again. I will go slow emotionally, and physically.
+ I seem to get involved with people who are hard to communicate with. The person MUST OWN A PHONE (I have met so many guys without phones, it is truly bizarre)
+ Guys always want to get in my pants. It would seem that is the only reason they like me. So if he shows only interest of a sexual nature and nothing else = bye bye.
+ When I like someone I like to show them how much!! DO NOT over compensate. Don't write letters, make artwork, buy little gifts. Let them show YOU how much they like you.
+ Guys never seem to want to hold my hand or kiss me out in public, or whatever. It's like we're pals or something. Affection outside of the bedroom is a must. If he is hiding me from everyone, there's a reason.

These were the basics.

A month later, I finally decided to do something about a long term crush I had on a friend of mine. He fits the description of what I just listed. We've been together for a year on June 10th! He's not perfect, and I don't expect perfection from anyone. But my basic needs are met, and so I'm happy!

I am finally invested in my own basic NEEDS, instead of constantly yearning for some ideal, or hoping some guy will fall for me simply because I want him to.

I really, really like the change. I like going slowly with my emotions. It means what I feel is real, once the initial excitement has calmed down. And since I had known my current boyfriend for a good long chunk of time as a friend, I knew what sort of person he was. The others were just ideals - I didn't know them enough to be in love with them. I like the process, now. I can't believe it took me 3 decades to differentiate between infatuation and love - they feel SO similar in the body. No wonder it's so hard to take it easy.

So that's the relationship part.

In terms of my other patterns, I can say this:

I still know flaky people. I don't put up with it anymore. I just stop being friends with those people. I still like them, but I put no effort towards them, because it's frustrating and pointless. I don't take it personally, but I just removed the problem - no effort on my part equals no stress of having them bail on me. I just spend time with people who don't flake, or time on my own! Done, solved!

And in terms of low paying jobs - well, I still have one, but I enjoy my job. And if and when I move on, I will set my sights higher. My pattern is that I always apply for low paying jobs, because I figure that's all I can do. So, next time, I will aim higher, try harder, and do all that shit everyone tells you to do that I always rebel against (in fact, I did the "call back" for my current position after my interview, which I don't normally do, and I'm certain it got me the job).

Oh, and I have also made a couple of rules for myself:

1. If everyone around you is giving you the same advice, take the advice.
2. If you are not happy in any given situation at least 90% of the time, it's not worth your time. If you can't change your situation (rare), change your attitude.

That's it.

My advice to you is very simple. Do the extreme opposite of whatever you usually do, if you have an unpleasant pattern in your life. It works very well.

A lot of people I mention this to bring up a particular Seinfeld episode where George does this exact thing. I don't ever remember seeing it, but perhaps I should watch it.

Oh, and some books that helped me through my healing were by Byron Katie. Anything by her is a freakin' blessing. No other books have helped me as much as hers did. I thank you for your work, Miss Katie.


  1. Lorra, I am so proud of you. :)

  2. Great post! Very inspireing.

  3. Thanks everyone :)

    Robyn, especially from you, since I've known you so long!

  4. I've dated that "same" guy before. It's not an easy or fun change to make. Kuddos to you for being strong enough to make that change in your life!

  5. MP: Hey thanks :) It wasn't an easy change. I was so killed by it that I had no choice but to change, unless I wanted it to possibly happen to me again. I couldn't take that sort of thing again - not only is it a waste of time, but it's so damaging, mentally.