Archives For Relationships

Social Cues

September 11, 2014 — 1 Comment

krisiruth

I went on a double date once, although, I didn’t know it at the time, being that I was the fifth person in the group.

“Goodnight Krisi!” The foursome cried, I waved a weak hand and limped on aching heals back to the dorm. I was carrying three styrofoam boxes oozing grease, they weighed as heavily in my hands as humiliation did on my conscious.

I missed the signs. Apparently I could not tell what a double date looked like.

An hour before, I had sat squashed on the end of a booth, while my two friends and their dates discussed payment with the waitress. “Yeah, split the bill three ways, I’ll get her, and he’s got her” one of the boys animated by pointing a thumb at his chest and at my dorm mate, who cozied up to him, and then at the other pair across the booth.

At which point he glanced at me shiftily.

“And uh, I’m alone” I squawked awkwardly counting out my rumpled cash.

Self consciously I adjusted the plastic pearl necklace I was wearing and tapped the heal points of my shoes rapidly.

At nineteen, I lacked quite a bit of self awareness, I had missed the social cues from my peers, indicating they had been invited out by two freshman boys.

To me it was a group of friends eating dinner in fancy clothes.

I don’t remember the semantics of our conversation before heading out, or what we discussed in the truck as I sat pegged against the wall, watching two boys and two girls flirting.

I can still feel my lack of comprehension, of blatantly missing the passive pleads from the girls for me to not come along, that it would be boring, maybe expensive, silly even. It did not hit me until the check and takeout boxes were handed over by our waitress.

“Ohhhhhhh, this is a double daaaate,” a pang of understanding whacked me as I counted, one couple, two couples, and then me, the fifth wheel. Unfortunately it was too late to leave, for one, they were my ride.

I contemplated sidling out of my chair and hailing a taxi. But then I remembered I lived in West Texas, and I had a weekly budget of twenty dollars, which had just been capped on linguini and breadsticks.

Whatever comments I had been contributing to the conversation before my moment of realization, faltered, and I chose to sit in silent mortification and self punishment.

They wanted to go putt-putting, and I wanted to putt my peep-toe heels into the dumpster. They wanted ice cream cones, and I just wanted to not feel like I had a cone on my head.

When we finally arrived back on campus, the two pairs decided to watch a movie in the boys dorm and I decided to go crawl in a hole.

The girls asked me to carry back their left overs, across campus, and I did.

It was a painful moment. A lesson in social cues and invitation etiquette. 

Humiliation is painful, but it is also instructive.

If i’m honest, I didn’t lack the knowledge of what I was walking into, but the maturity to be okay with not being invited. The courage to stay home.

There was an underlining self truth in that scenario I still struggle with today.

I want to be known.

I went on a date recently, one I was invited too, it was a single date. No other couple, I knew what I was getting into, even if I pretended it was just a friendly movie.

The moment he wrapped his forearm around my chin and began to massage my upper arm, I should have given him the slip and hailed a taxi. This time, I had the budget and the big city, but I wanted to know where it was going.

I wanted to be wanted in the way I was not years before, sitting on the end of the booth.

He paid. Pointing a thumb at his chest and then at mine, indicating to the ticket taker. He showed me attention and held my hand in the parking lot.

It felt good to be wanted, to be known.  

After snuggly parking his car on my street and killing the engine, he grabbed my face and started kissing me. I was slightly startled but didn’t care enough to protest.

It felt good to be the one on the date, snuggling up in my “booth”, even if at my core I didn’t care who had my face in their hands.

In this case, it wasn’t the person but the sentiment in which I was interested.

He seemed desperate to get as much as he could before I was spooked, and admittedly my mind kept flipping back and forward. The passenger seat flew backwards and before I knew it, this situation was moving beyond takeout boxes and ice cream cones.

Eventually I managed to yank the door handle and slip out of the car, fleeing into the safety of my house.

I animately reported the story to my housemate, making sure to state my shock and innocence.

But I wasn’t that surprised, I knew what I was getting into, even if I couldn’t admit it, just as I had years before.

I wanted attention as long as I got to call the shots, I wanted to dress up and be admired, I just didn’t want to have to set a boundary.

Boundaries are statements, they are lines in the sand. And personally, I am afraid of drawing lines because I want there to be room to change my mind later.

I am afraid of declarative statements, of getting stuck in an Italian restaurant with no where to run.  

I always want an out, in my job, in my relationships, in my faith.

This is a fine way to live, but nothing much gets accomplished. Somewhere along the way I have to find the courage to stay home. To be honest with myself about what I want, because if I don’t speak up, someone else will for me.

 

 

 

 

KrisiruthMy first flight was at 2 pm central time. I had not slept much the night before, as it was my first trip to Europe. I was seventeen years old and my eyes were glittering with purpose and excitement.

For days before the trip, I had researched diets to avoid jet lag and stuck very strictly to a regime of oats, brown rice and fish.

On the plane, upon meeting my trip teammates, I had preached the necessity of not allowing oneself to nap, as this would confuse the brain and keep the internal clock confused. A seven hour layover in the Vienna airport, waiting on a connection to Sofia, Bulgaria proved painful.

Twenty-four hours awake pressed heavily on my eye lids, oats, brown rice and fish or no oats, brown rice and fish.

The plastic lime green seats, bunched in rows on a tile floor next to our flight gate, should have been a deterrent for sleeping, but in my state of exhaustion, they looked like plush floor pillows.

I had made such a show of lecturing the team about not napping, I couldn’t bring myself to close my eyes. At least not in front of them all, although they all appeared to be dozing comfortably.

The airport restrooms in Vienna were stationed like broom closets, set side by side by side. I could enter one, switch the lock to “occupied” and be in my own private quarters, in other words, a 4×4 hard tiled space, smelling strongly of bleach and metal. I slumped to the floor and slept for an hour, unconcerned with the line outside my cubicle, or the fact I was sleeping soundly with my head on a toilet lid.

Why? Basically, the answer was pride. I didn’t want anyone to know I needed respite, not after my speech and personal attempts of thwarting off jet lag.

“Pride comes before the fall” says every grandmother ever.

Apathy is a lot like a nap in a toilet cubicle.  

I gave up caring, I was completely unconcerned with my location. I was indifferent to the proper feelings of disgust or good judgement.

For me, apathy is dangerous, because it tricks my mind into thinking a lack of guilt means a lack of consequence.

It reminds me of a ride at a water park, the one that looks like a giant toilet, shooting its occupant out into a funnel shaped basin, where you swirl around for awhile before finally meeting the middle and popping out of a black hole to the warm pool below.

Apathy is the swirling business, spinning me round and round while I try to avoid the black hole.

But I can’t, gravity makes this absolute. Whether I like it or not, my actions will yield consequence.

If I avoid looking at my bank account, it does not mean I will not have to syphon out money for rent, school loans, credit card debt, groceries, gas, beer, bike tubes, tacos, flights, etc. I will still have to pay, I will still hit the warm pool below, I will eventually have to come out of the toilet cubicle and admit I suck at paying bills on time.

I can let apathy keep me in denial until the creditors knock on my door, or I can openly admit I struggle with managing my money, and seek help to get it under control.

Dating apathetically, seems beneficial because it allows me enjoy the comfort of company and the pleasure of physical touch without needing to commit to someone. It also allows me to choose partners with less conviction, I can allow myself to date men with different principles if I am internally ambiguous as to what I believe.

It will keep me uncommitted for awhile, but eventually, as proven, gravity will pull me to the center, to the results of apathy.

I can wait until this leads to dating one man and sleeping with another, or I can choose to value commitment now and speak blatantly of what I want in a relationship.

Eventually we have to wake up, whether we like it or not. I would rather it be my choice.

A friend looked me in the eye last week and basically challenged me to give up my “whatever” attitude.

“Krisi, you have so much to offer when you choose to be yourself.” She said.  

In the past, I’ve made such a show of keeping myself passionate about things like financial budgets and physical purity. I researched plans of action and stood in front of students lecturing them to follow my convictions.

At some point, I grew too tired, I lost my passion a little bit at a time. One paycheck after the other, one heart break after another. I fell asleep with my head on a toilet lid, metaphorically this time.

At this point, pride is the only thing keeping me asleep.  Well, it’s time to wake up.

But i’m going to honest, it won’t happen instantly. In fact, as I write this, I have already had thoughts of pursuing yet another dead end physical relationship, and I’ve considered pulling out my credit card to buy those adorable navy green ankle boots at Madewell.

Growing up, is waking up, one small decision at a time. Like signing up for Financial Peace, or seeking out a counselor.

I have to love myself as much as I am loved by others, for “the opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. [apathy]” says Elie Wiesel.

 

 

Krisiruth

I am learning every relationship I develop, platonic or otherwise, has a lesson of self-understanding attached to it. The very existence of human interaction is designed to teach me something, and not always about what I am doing wrong.

Occasionally relationships end too. I’ve learned this comes more frequently, and more amiably as I am growing up. When referring to “growing up”, I am speaking more to the maturity of the character rather than maturity of the body.

Disaster, isn’t always the cause of ended ties (thank goodness). For me, it’s been a variety of reasons: distance, time, change of interests.

But I’m going to be honest, I assumed when it came to relationships of the romantic nature, the only way it wouldn’t work out was if I was doing something wrong. Or perhaps if the significant other had blaring red flags, such as being emotionally abusive or having really really bad breath.

This year I have learned a very important lesson, are you ready? Here it goes —

A relationship with a man does not have to contain major conflict, or minor conflict to not work out. The majority of my relationships have dissipated simply based of a lack of equal interest.

The trouble here, is the fact that it is easier to know how to proceed when disaster ends a relationship.

For example, I can create a bulleted list of all the immaturities to improve on for next time — the manipulations, the lack of effort, movie talker, lazy leg shaver. I could do yoga to heal the mind and soul, I could become a monk until I learned to forgive myself and ex-partner. 

If the relationship ends amiably, I fall into a pattern of obsession. Searching for the mistakes, how can I improve, what did I/we do wrong?

It’s exhausting being me.

I have wanted disaster to end my relationships, because then I can control the outcome of the next relationship.

Be a better listener, don’t be manipulative, cry less, shave legs more.

A product of my evangelical upbringing perhaps, and my need to please people, my need to do more, to be better with the hope effort will produce results.

The piece I am not accounting for is when becoming a better listener, avoiding manipulation, crying less, and shaving legs more still cannot keep me in a dating relationship, or a platonic friendship for that matter.

In Chemistry it’s called the control group and the independent variable. Unfortunately, dating is not as much like Chemistry as I would like it to be. 

It involves an element not found on the Periodic Table —

Trust. 

Trust in the reality relationships are not always ending because I am a disaster. And trust in the fact, that someday, against all odds and control groups, things will work out, just as they ought too.

 

 

 

Krisiruth

 

I have been using Adobe programs for about three years now, which I have learned through a combination of trial and error, youtube videos and user forums.

There are a few mysteries I have not quite mastered, like how to move an image file from Adobe Illustrator to Photoshop without losing quality in the image. For some reason, it had never crossed my mind to try googling the answer, or seeking out the advice of a friend. Perhaps it was an internal stubbornness, to prove I could come up with an answer on my own, that I didn’t need others to help me.

Recently, the problem came up again on a work project and I finally typed my question into google and was presented with a simple solution.

It was incredibly easy and it made me wonder what other questions I had not thought to ask? Or what other questions I was avoiding in my life because I stubbornly wanted to find the answers on my own.

Life is no less complex than Adobe programs.

I would say it is much more intricate, and much of how I learn about myself is through trial and error, sometimes with guidance or advice.

If I am not willing to ask myself good questions, or even realize that questioning myself is necessary, I might never grow. But sit in a dormant but comfortable lifestyle.

Well I don’t want to be satisfied with comfortable.

And as I say that, I know it’s also a lie. Of course I want to be comfortable, at least in the short term. But in the long term, I want to know the truth, about myself, about my relationships, about what love looks like and what it doesn’t.

I talked to my cousin Ally about my recent experience with casual dating. How mostly it included ignoring the person I had come to know myself as, someone who valued her body and her faith and who wanted to respect those same values in others.

I knew I was ignoring these principles, when after weeks of feigning commitment to a man, I bolted when he wanted more, a title. “Girlfriend.”

Not because he was repulsive or unkind, but my first thought was “I don’t wan’t anyone to find out.” I don’t want a public proclamation because then the people who have seen me grow into this strong and self aware version of myself, will know I gave up. Will see I am choosing comfort over struggle and truth.

They will know I am running and it will be obvious I am hiding from who I have claimed to be.

Obvious I am ignoring all the things true about what I say I want. Obvious I am filling in the longing left over from the last time I genuinely let someone in. A longing carved out in me from my first relationship experience as self-aware Krisi. A relationship which ended, but left an impression on me. It taught me to speak up about what I want, in the long term and the short term.

Ally could see I was ignoring what I learned, just to be comfortable. She said,

“Krisi, you have to have the courage to be uncomfortable even if it means not getting what you want in the moment.”

This is not an easy lesson to learn.

Self awareness doesn’t do me any good if I use it for self-sabotage. What I mean is, I am very good at talking myself into believing anything, especially in the place between a half truth and a lie. I ask myself enough questions to understand who I should be, but stop short of talking myself away from comfort.

Like a casual dating relationship, no strings attached. No pain. A false fulfilling of the carved out ache.

So what does this have to do with learning how to edit an image in Photoshop?

if I practice asking the good questions in something as simple as learning how to edit a photo properly, ignore my stubbornness and seek help, maybe I will learn to do the same when it comes to the bigger, tougher decisions in my life.

How about you?

 

Krisiruth

I remember watching 20/20 when Rosie O’donnell came out as gay to the public. My sister and I were watching the television quietly for awhile, both of us under the age of thirteen if I remember right.

Kelsey, my sister, turned to me and asked, “Krisi, if I was gay, would you still love me?”

Without hesitation, I responded, “No.”

It is a millisecond of my life which will always haunt me, and I can never take back.

Although my sister is not in fact a lesbian, her ten year old remark, and my response, have set a precedent for our relationship. With one powerful word, I made it clear she would have to fit into a certain mold to be loved by me.

This is a tragic pattern and I want to break it to pieces, both with her and with others.

Before the Rosie O’donnell special, I have no memories of being specifically told not to love lesbians. Even since, there was no Sunday School lesson titled “Do not love those different from you.” It was not taught, in fact the opposite was spoken out loud. But the subliminal mockery of the gay community, the actions of my leaders and peers, built hatred into my understanding of the world.

An understanding which cannot be easily deconstructed.

I tend to avoid the bitter bites on Social Media about the “war on drugs/sex/prayer/blah-blah-blah”, it is destructive and counter productive to make everything into a battlefield. I learned, from the moment with my sister, I tend to react hastily and with regret.

My natural reaction is to hate the church for what it supposedly did to shape my prejudice. To be cynical and distrustful towards the people with which I had spent most of my time.

It would be justified to spite those who I believe have led me astray.

It would be easy to hate a faceless group, who I once identified with, and blame them for my bad prejudices.

But.

It would also be lumping all the people I have loved into a stereotyped sub-culture and hating them for not fitting into a certain mold.

And then,

I think about Jesus, and how he loved his people. The one’s in church, the ones broken on the side of the road, the ones thrown before him, pulled strait from their lovers bed, the good citizens, the dazed, the confused, the righteous.

He forgave them, Jesus had compassion.

I want to hate people for hurting me. Or maybe I want to hate them because it is easier than developing a new understanding of the world.

I read this post from Rachel Held Evens about a recent news story, concerning all sorts of holy war battling. She mentions the fact that Evangelicals won their war and lost a generation.

It would be so easy to wash my hands of these Evangelicals, to spit on them as I perceive them spitting on others. But what would be more difficult, would be to not walk away.

To look on them, and just like Jesus, choose to have compassion.

It’s not comfortable, and it’s not easy.

I learned as a tiny twelve year old, rapid hatred is the most regrettable action.

A few years ago, I went to my sister and told her, that should she ever chose to come out as gay, I would in fact love her. This wasn’t just about her orientation, it was about a principle of choosing love, no matter how different someone is from me. I wanted her to know she didn’t have to fit a certain mold to be loved by me.

This act is part of how I am re-writing my understanding of the world. First, I make it clear to my sister, that no matter who she is, I will love her. And this little shift teaches me knew habits, new understandings.

 

’cause grey is not a compromise -
It is the bridge between two sides.
The shores on which our stubborn land
And restless seas collide.
Grey is not just middle ground,
It is a truce that waits to be signed.
I would even argue that, from where we stand,
It most represents the color of God’s eyes.

So, let’s fold our atlas into paper planes.
Change is slow, but I feel it taking shape

—Sleeping At Last; 101010