Friday, July 11, 2014

What Have I Learned?

A few weeks ago, I wrote about owning my part in the failure of my relationship with B. Now, in order to try to avoid the trap of characterizing the time I spent dating B as a waste, I'm jotting down some lessons learned that I don't want to forget. Maybe this will help re-characterize the experience as something positive.
  • Trust my intuition. 
  • Due diligence. Especially if he's been keeping you all to himself.
  • Do not be impressed by what he says, unless his actions follow suit.
  • Understand what I want and ask for it. In personal relationships, I confuse being nice with being deferential, and I have a tendency to stick my head in the sand if I know the answer will be "no". Better to confront the issue sooner rather than later.
  • Take initiative. This means taking an active hand in planning--from dates to initiating conversations and actions that will move the relationship forward--while paying close attention to whether he is acting on his supposed plans for the relationship's future.
  • Ask for help instead of withdrawing. When the situation in Tokyo started to seem hopeless, I should have asked B for his help. It would have been a good idea to make a plan together if he was willing. And if he wasn't, I would have gotten closer to learning the truth and would have saved myself some time.
  • Make sure there's always a light at the end of the tunnel and work towards it together. Don't let hope disappear. Don't get caught in a situation where I'm the only one working towards the end goal.
  • Say no to distance. Never again.
  • Cheating and lying are intentional, deliberate acts, not accidents.
  • Respect myself. There's a difference between being low maintenance and tolerating poor treatment.
  • Communicate clearly and end the relationship if he's not willing to do the same. 
  • If the relationship isn't progressing, break up rather than blame myself... and stand firm. I broke up with B for this reason at one point, but didn't stand my ground because I missed him.
  • I am in charge of managing the direction my personal life takes.
  • I can be upset about how a relationship ended, but allow myself to acknowledge the relationship's happy moments. My absolute favorite memories with B are from our trip to New England to visit Cambridge (for the HOCR), Yale, Mystic and Providence. Knowing what I know now doesn't make the happiness I felt on that trip disappear. It hurts me more than it helps to characterize the last nine years as a waste of time.I am fortunate to have some good memories.
  • No relationship lasts forever. Around the same time as the HOCR trip, B and I were in what I think of as the absolute best phase of our relationship. Maybe it's only possible to know where that sweet spot is in retrospect, but I hope I can live a little more in the moment in the future. I honestly (and naively) thought that B was the one and that we'd have a lifetime of memories together. That thinking is part of what led to my tunnel vision here in Tokyo. Even if my head is down and I'm rushing towards the light at the end of the tunnel as fast as I can, I don't want the people I care about to feel neglected.
  • Aspire to accept loss with more grace.

3 comments:

CP said...

I am totally impressed by your maturity. After a breakup, I've always just wallowed in emotions and never once thought to sit down and make a list of things to grow/learn from. Seriously, impressed!

Paragon2Pieces said...

Thanks CP! I fear you give me too much credit. There has been a lot of wallowing in emotion and ugly cry going on behind the screen for the last month or so. I have never felt so overwhelmed by emotion and it's been a bit... scary. I hope my next relationship will be better and part of making that a reality is channeling my energy in a more positive and constructive direction. I hope it works!

TP said...

It will be better. Relationship quality is IMO a strong function of the participants' willingness to self-observe, learn, and adapt.

I really do believe that life itself is a struggle between order and entropy (at many levels--physical, but psychological also). Maintaining order in the face of entropy requires energy and adaptation. Life itself is learning--and conversely, if we stop learning, we start dying.

You are, I think, not just learning but truly evolving here. Sending warm thoughts.