Jump to content

Open Club  ·  101 members  ·  Free

Journals

chuckee

Recommended Posts

I spent a long time today reading our former emails and chats. It's so sad. I still miss her and loved her very deeply. I wish we could have found a way to make it work. I was just so afraid of her darker moments and our different life priorities, it made it hard to show her the commitment that she needed.

Link to comment
  • Replies 223
  • Created
  • Last Reply

What if I hadn't met her when she was going through such a rough/negative time? What if a handful of moments had gone differently? What if I hadn't suggested that she was too negative when we were in Cape Cod? Or if she had laughed it off instead of what wound up happening. What if New Year's Eve in Santa Barbara hadn't happened or what if A.B. hadn't scheduled that interview for Jan. 2nd? What if she had appreciated my efforts to book a massage, bring flowers and find a nice restaurant? What if I hadn't met Jacquelyn? What if I'd simply told her that I hadn't had a relationship with her, that it was a one night stand? What if I hadn't opened that OkC message from my friend while traveling? What if she had appreciated the Christmas/New Year's gifts I sent instead of sending them back? What if that Sunday morning hadn't happened after my last visit to DC and things had just gone as smoothly as they had the rest of the visit? What if she had been ok with one kid? What if I had taken the Wharton job? Our story might have continued. The pain might have been avoided.

Link to comment

She keeps saying it was five years. It was not really five years. It was a year and a half and then she broke it off because I didn't want 2 kids. Then I tried to get us back together, but it didn't work out because I couldn't afford two kids, tuition, plus a big enough house (she could help but wanted the option to stay at home, so then I couldn't count on her income) and she forgot our priority to save for philanthropy and I got hurt. So we never successfully got back together. Then we tried again a few times but each time something happened that kept us from getting back together again. So it was 1.5 years followed by 3.5 years of trying unsuccessfully to get back together and begin a new relationship.

Link to comment

I kept thinking that maybe she would be someone that I could have a calm, peaceful world with. But each time we tried to get back together there was some chaos, some drama, some emotional turmoil. Like a shield or a moat, it kept me from making further investments, making big gestures and committing more because it put into my mind a future life together like that of my parents where there was arguing and emotional drama all the time that eventually resulted in divorce. I couldn't risk a future divorce like that, especially if there were 2 kids.

Link to comment

Looking back over our photos from Monterey/Santa Barbara, I can't believe that one dinner and one poorly scheduled interview completely ruined what was otherwise such an amazing trip. Of course, I know her answer as to why and it is my fault.

Link to comment

Of course I feel that I have learned a lot, read a lot, and am much more mature now and could better handle these types of things. But then that's what I thought each time before as well. When she gets very emotional and brings up pain and problems, then all of my calm, rational thought goes out the window and I no longer remember what to do or how to handle it which only makes things worse.

Link to comment

I think Gottman is right, there wasn't enough rituals/traditions, and enough of a bank of happiness, positivity and relationship capital. I take responsibility for that. The problems just started to pile up and the reserves in the bank were not enough to get us through. At first it was kids and location. I wasn't sure about the kids but I figured we could solve location soon enough. Then it was differences in the weighting of kids vs. broader life goals of philanthropy. Later it became where we would live, which I hadn't expected would be an issue and the size and location of our house. Then my relationship when we were broken up became an issue. Finally, whenever we would talk I should have created more of a positive attitude, that "we can do this", whatever the problems, I'm committed. But instead each conversation felt like she was bringing up all the reasons it couldn't work, when really she was just trying to communicate her feelings. But over time I started to believe all of those reasons why it wasn't working and probably couldn't be made to work. When instead I should have created a more positive attitude of 'don't worry', we've got this, we can do it, we can overcome these challenges, bit by bit.

Link to comment
  • 2 weeks later...

Missing her support and encouragement these days when paper rejections hit. She could always cheer me up. Can't believe how much I screwed it up.

 

I was reading more of Gottman's new book last night. Several passages hit me. Especially about repair attempts and staying in his so-called "neutral" box during arguments. The part about "flooding" really resonated with me as well. Impossible to think clearly during those times.

Link to comment

How did I become so afraid of someone who had been so supporting? I guess that's the tradeoff in being with a very emotional girl. She's probably dating again, which sickens me to think of. But so am I so perhaps it is only fair. I wonder if like I do with her, she compares every guy against me? None of them measures up along all dimensions. Except for being calm. Maybe that is what I'm really looking for after all. Peace and calmness.

Link to comment

I recognize now that Gottman's "flooding" is what happened when I was young and my parents would argue or my mom threatened to leave and packed my stuff up. My coping strategy was to detach and do my own thing and turn into a stone. Usually I would run away into the woods and climb a tree. So when she got upset now, I would feel "flooded" again and do the same thing now. Which only made her more upset and confused, but it was the only thing I knew how to do when I felt that way. I have to find some other way to cope. Need to keep reading and see what the book's suggestions will be.

Link to comment

I still remember when mom wanted to get a present for her to express her strong gratitude and appreciation for her taking such good care of me when I was so sick. I suggested that she send her the bottle of wine I'd picked out. Mom pointed out that it wasn't legal to send wine through the mail, but said she'd pack it really good and just hide what was inside and take the risk. I knew she liked wine but suspected that wasn't enough of a gift. So I wanted to do something special and wanted to find some jewelry. All the necklaces that looked decent were out of my price range, but there were some earrings that looked good. I vaguely recalled that maybe she didn't wear earrings, but thought that perhaps she might think about getting her ears pierced if they weren't already so that she could start wearing them and I could get her the first pair. I wish now I'd sent a note along those lines because instead she just got offended that I didn't know her ears weren't pierced. Mom asked how she liked the gifts and it pained me to tell her that she thought the wine was too much of a friend gift and had sent the earrings back since her ears weren't pierced. Mom never gets involved in my love life, but it was then that she told me that I needed to find someone who made my stressful life more peaceful, shared activities and hobbies, and created a good, calm environment. I wanted to tell her that I had screwed things up too and created the problems in the first place, yet it was too complicated to explain the whole story. But I was also surprised by mom's strong opinion and first intervention, it was hard to ignore, though she still said how incredibly grateful she was that she was there to take care of me and was so ready to help when mom couldn't be there and I was so sick.

Link to comment

I wish I had just told her when I had started dating again from the beginning. Ironically when I chose to be honest and do the right thing, that was what tore us apart. But if I had told her earlier, that would have torn us apart as well, just as I was starting to appreciate her qualities in contrast to what I thought I wanted.

Link to comment

I've been reading more of Gottman's new book. I wish I had started reading this stuff earlier. I had read one of his books back in 2003 and really liked it then, but I guess I assumed that was all there was. His new book contains a lot of new insights. I'm starting to feel that I'm not bad at relationships because I'm a horrible, selfish person. I just never learned and never dedicated time to learning the skills and frameworks necessary.

 

I always thought that by being conflict avoidant, I was reducing the level of conflict and problems in the relationship. But Gottman has a lot of stories showing how being conflict avoidant can create problems as well by not giving your partner the chance to address problems and by reducing trust. I can also see what he was talking about with the Negative Sentiment Override, where you start to interpret the partner's actions that could be ambiguous in a negative way rather than trusting that they was a positive interpretation. I think that early on, she was going through a tough time at work and I was starting to feel like she was negative a lot, but I didn't say anything to her. I figured it wouldn't help and she just needed support. I also suspected that perhaps it was my fault as well because I was absorbing a lot of negativity at work and from other friends and it was just too much cumulatively for me to handle. I wanted to avoid conflict about it. But it didn't give us the opportunity to talk through it and as a result I got very good at catching times when she was being negative. I was too fixated on this. Eventually I finally said something and a regrettable incident (Gottman's term for them) occurred on Cape Cod. But I had waited too long and brought it up indelicately. It was my fault. Later on, I think she may have slipped into this negative sentiment override thing with interpreting my thoughts and actions in a negative way as well, but it started out being my problem, which I never expressed.

 

I also noticed where he was giving examples of bids and sliding doors where you turn towards the person or turn away. I think this was another problem. We missed each other's bids. I know I missed many of hers, probably because I was being too obsessive about work or because I was just caught up in my own baggage or fears. Gottman seems to identify missed bids as the earliest building blocks of starting to lose trust. I watched the videos I shot of her on the beach in Santa Barbara and can now see her bid attempts in showing me the heart shaped rock. I could have turned towards her and responded with something romantic. Instead I was too focused on, ok, where are we going to go and what will we do next. I missed the bids and a sliding door closed, destroying a little bit of trust that could have been built up. Another example is about her parents singing to one another. I could have taken that as a bid and suggested that we sing together. Instead I foolishly just felt silly imagining us singing to one another, but it might have been a really great tradition and responding in that way would have built trust.

 

It's not because I'm a terrible person. I just didn't have positive examples of these skills and behaviors as a kid. I never read enough books on this stuff to make up for it. She did have a lot of positive examples, but similarly just didn't know what to do when things don't go perfectly. She was better at expressing her feelings though when things weren't right. Instead I bottled things up and avoided conflict, which doesn't actually help either. I also flooded very easily (I do this often accross relationships), I just flooded, battened down the hatches and just tried to survive the storm, rather than responding to bids when she was talking.

Link to comment

I missed her many bids because they made me emotional and flooded and I misinterpreted them. Like when I visited after Christmas. To me everything went very well the first couple of days. I could really start to see us back together again. Sure, I hadn't tried to kiss her or anything but I was trying to keep things from getting too intense and to just have a nice, peaceful, good time together and get our footing back again. That's why I was so shocked that morning at the coffee shop when she started getting so emotional and pointing out all the reasons why it was never going to work. I can see now that her being vulnerable and emotional like that was her bid to me and an opportunity for me to turn towards her by reassuring her that we could get over those problems and I was committed to doing so. Instead, though, sadly, I was caught off guard and just believed her when she pointed out all the difficulties. I got flooded by the emotion and instead of turning towards her I again just battened down the hatches and tried to survive, telling myself the emotional storm would be over soon and things could go back to normal. But to her, I had let the sliding door closed and it was a missed opportunity to respond to her bid.

Link to comment

I missed her many bids because they made me emotional and flooded and I misinterpreted them. Like when I visited after Christmas. To me everything went very well the first couple of days. I could really start to see us back together again. Sure, I hadn't tried to kiss her or anything but I was trying to keep things from getting too intense and to just have a nice, peaceful, good time together and get our footing back again. That's why I was so shocked that morning at the coffee shop when she started getting so emotional and pointing out all the reasons why it was never going to work. I can see now that her being vulnerable and emotional like that was her bid to me and an opportunity for me to turn towards her by reassuring her that we could get over those problems and I was committed to doing so. Instead, though, sadly, I was caught off guard and just believed her when she pointed out all the difficulties. I got flooded by the emotion and instead of turning towards her I again just battened down the hatches and tried to survive, telling myself the emotional storm would be over soon and things could go back to normal. But to her, I had let the sliding door closed and it was a missed opportunity to respond to her bid.

 

I am learning. Slowly. Too slowly, but I am getting better, I am learning. I can do this. A lot of good did come out of the relationship.

Link to comment

But she must have missed my bids as well. There were several times where I tried to tell her what I needed. That I needed emotional stability, that I needed reassurance about never getting divorced. That I was unsure about kids and not wanting to be an absentee dad. That I needed to understand that we could make the finances work and not forget about my dreams too and saving for philanthropy. She was very supportive most of the time, but somehow I never felt like these areas were directly addressed with actions. It's not her fault though. I should have taken responsibility for making sure that we were communicating correctly and building up a bank of happiness and support mutually.

Link to comment

It's wrong though to focus on things that she could have done differently. If I'm really going to learn how to do better, I have to stay focused on the things that I did wrong and what I need to do and how I should react differently in the future. Must stay focused on that.

Link to comment

Why do I get flooded so easily? Why am I so sensitive. I need to figure out the answers to these questions and correct it. It's like I don't have a middle ground. I'm either a stone or I'm completely wiped out, there's no functional middle for me.

Link to comment

I hope I did not make her bitter or distrustful towards guys. I know I have issues and problems. Those are specific to me. I get flooded too easily, I'm not sure about kids, I'm afraid of divorce. I'm no good at long distance and I work too much. I didn't prioritize learning how to be in a relationship early enough in life. I must fix these things about myself.

Link to comment

I think my conflict avoidant thing and my easy flooding are related. I don't really have a lot of examples in my life of things getting emotional and then turning out well. In the example of my parents and in every previous relationship, when things got really emotional, esp. negative emotions, then it always turns out badly. I think if I had positive examples of things getting heated and then turning out well and drawing us closer, then I wouldn't avoid conflict so much and I wouldn't flood so easily. Gottman talks about discussing sources of conflict with your partner and that this can draw you closer together. My first reaction was disbelief. I think that's because I've almost always seen the opposite happen. This may be what I need to work on, seeing that discussing conflict can lead to greater intimacy and that it can turn out well. Then maybe I can be less conflict avoidant and flood less easily.

Link to comment

I also learned from Gottman's book the dangers of coalitions and of catching at very early stages any drifting away from the person. I probably sought for advice too much from mutual friends outside of the relationship and I should address problems within the relationship more. Also, I should have been more clear on relationship status, either all in or all out, the ambiguous middle ground is not healthy. I should not have checked that OkC message or searched around out of curiosity about who was on there, even if I didn't have intentions of contacting. I should have just immediately deleted the account once I was reminded about it being there.

Link to comment

Attunement is the next chapter in the book. It talks about really getting inside the emotional world of your partner and how to have conversations where you're really listening and not talking past one another. I am excited to learn about how to do this better.

Link to comment

I wish that we had kept up with and created more traditions. Things like the monthly "life dinner", happiness diary, "what I appreciate about you", other little traditions like that would have helped a lot.

 

I don't want to lose the memories of the good times though alongside all of this would have, could have, should have. I really liked the sweet cards she would write and send to me from time to time. I think I still have all of them.

Link to comment

Gottman suggests four steps in the "art of intimate conversations". First understand your own feelings. This is something I struggle with and need to practice. Second, ask open-ended questions. Third, deepen the emotional connection by repeating back to show your understand your partner's emotion. Fourth, express compassion and empathy. Don't problem solve, be the voice of reason or offer alternative perspectives or solutions (maybe later on but not until you've gone through these steps first). She was intuitively very good at this. This is a skill I need to practice. It feels a bit artificial to empathize when I'm already thinking of potential solutions. But I know I prefer it myself when she empathized with me first.

Link to comment

Gottman's advice is do not give advice at all unless asked. Being there and listening is most important.

 

He sums it up with open up about your own feelings, converse in a style that encourages confidences, and be an ally more than a problem solver.

 

Amazingly simple, if only it were that easy to do!

 

In their lab those who stayed married 6 years later, 86 percent "turned toward each other" whereas for those who had broken up, only turned towards each other 33 percent of the time.

 

Gottman talks about the importance of turning toward your partner particularly when there is a tragedy and they need comforting. He talks about couples who eat in awkward silence at restaurants are stuck on a very low step of the bidding ladder. That reminds me of our NYE dinner. There were several times at the end where she told me that she needed me but I was too scared of the emotion and flooding and wanted to wait until she had calmed down rather than trying to be the one to help comfort her. I thought this was to protect us from saying regrettable things but actually it was due to my own fear, to save myself heartache and it was in fact missing bids and making things worse.

Link to comment

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...