Sunday, May 02, 2010

Problem Solving vs. Crisis Abatement

There are multiple approaches to problem-solving. I like solving problems, but my patience for it is in inverse proportion to the messiness of the problem. I like to find a solution that relates directly to the problem, and whose solution is ordered, sequential, and foolproof. I doubt that there is ever such an instance in interpersonal affairs. Perhaps that represents a significant portion of the reason that I have a tendency to abandon human problem solving techniques once the crisis is past and my emotions have settled.

I have learned that like minds, when coupled, have an extraordinary ability to extend the workability of reason in human problem solving; but I was resistant to the idea that it could work when only one of those involved in the problem participated in the technique. Then it was pointed out to me that problem solving that is only aimed at crisis management does nothing to prevent future problems. It is therefore preferable to take steps to prevent future crises.

Not every human problem seems to have a rational basis. Some things seem to be purely emotional. But even emotion has a pattern that can be discovered, if observed calmly. It has cause and effect. Therefore it can be reasoned and problem solved on a rational basis.

At first, solving a problem that involves two people seems like it should necessitate the active involvement of both parties in rational problem solving, but I've discovered a major flaw in that supposition. It supposes that both parties experience the problem identically and contribute to it identically and equally. In fact, nothing could be farther from the truth. Both my contribution to the problem and my experience of it are likely to be vastly different from his. It would be useful to precisely identify and understand the inner workings of his perception and experience, but it is not entirely necessary. I can use what I do know of what he feels to alter my reactions in a way that gives him the perception of improvement.

This is who I love. Now how can I do it better?

I need to speak his love language to him. It is the medium he understands. It is what he uses to make me feel loved. It is what will give him the experience of feeling loved. Using methods that I understand to show my love to him will make me feel more satisfied that I love him, but it will not address his feelings. A dear friend likes to say "right feelings follow right actions". It's a phrase that I was never particularly fond of, but today I find myself rethinking its meaning. It makes sense that if I behave in a loving way it will result in experiencing a loving feeling.

What does he do to show me that he loves me? These are the things that will make him feel loved if I return the action. I should show my love with a gift that has value to him rather than one that has value to me.


Sunday, February 28, 2010

a visit- dream journal

I went to therapy where I was being counseled by a man whose wife sat in on therapy and kept giving her opinion. While I was there, I ran into the children of a friend. They invited me to come home with them. There was a very roundabout journey, at one point we were going the wrong direction on the freeway, then I found myself at the top of a freeway ramp that led nowhere. The therapist's wife was shadowing me, but not very sneakily. At my friend's house, a choir was practicing. They were planning to record a demo the next day and they sounded terrible. I forgot that so many people were there and went to take a shower. Members of the choir were coming and going and I had to scramble for a robe. There was a group of women in the sunroom having a conference on something to do with the hospital. I dropped a cabbage behind the buffet. Eventually I sat down in the armchair. Little, blonde, twin toddler boys climbed into my lap and fell asleep and a girl with dark curly hair wedged herself into the space that was left and fell asleep too. I was contented. Later I went outside to eat a popsickle. The girl came out and invited me back in where they were having ice cream before leaving for school.

sronnoc esor

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sharing is Fun

Okay, so the title is tongue-in-cheek. I never learned how to communicate about feelings as a child. I recently learned that my siblings' code word for Father was "Baron". I was pretty much scared to approach him about anything. If I needed something, I'd cajole Mother into asking him. I certainly didn't have open conversations of any kind with him. While I was confident in Mother's love for me, maybe there just wasn't time for sharing for her, with all the responsibilities of a household. Or maybe it was something else.

Religion taught me that feelings are secondary to controlled impulses, that one should do what is right, whether it feels good or not. I still believe that. I believe that I should control my emotions, and edit them if necessary. I believe that I should mercilessly cull inappropriate feelings. Does this put me in control of myself, or does it simply serve to detach me from my true self? I can walk around all day thinking about how I feel about something without any threat. I can reason with myself about it, consider the facts, change my mind if I want.

I still remember the first time jc wheedled me into admitting that I loved him. It was certainly premature, maybe even on the phone before we'd actually met. Love takes many forms; and the love I confessed then, that barely formed feeling that I wanted to talk to him every day, share everything with him, knowing that he shone a bright spot on my busy life, is worlds different from the way I feel about him today. It was the seed of a tree that is still growing. I admitted it hesitantly, and it exposed a part of me that left me vulnerable. That exposed part of me has grown over the years. In a few weeks it will be 8 years. But jc has never made me sorry that I opened that spot to him. He's given me his own insecurity too, but that's another post, and one that will almost certainly never appear here.

The response to our childish game of, "loves you to deff, baby-baby" is often, "but, why?" There's no good answer to that. Your handsome face, pretty eyes, accepting heart? How nice it feels to hold your hand, to walk arm in arm down the street, to lie together in the afternoon? Presents you buy me, perhaps? That you don't criticize my slovenly housekeeping? Maybe it's still the reason that I actually fell in love with him in the first place, because I trusted him never to hurt me. My answer is often to stroke his lovely face and kiss him softly. I need no reason.

That often-unspoken simplicity of love has kept jc and I from ever needing many conversations about our feelings. There have been some hard times. In some of those times we've lost patience, raised our voices, but we're both careful not to utter words that are impossible to take back later. In the really hard times we've banded together more strongly, done what was needed, and come out on the other side. Certainly those interchanges have forged a love that talking could not do.

But none of that really helps me with anyone else, does it? My therapist is the least threatening person I've ever talked to, but I still can't meet her eyes when there's a really difficult subject to discuss. That's my tell. Avoiding the gaze. Recently I've had to grapple with the difficulty of discussing feelings that are unreasoned, unsummoned, unwelcome even. Feelings that rob me of power and make me vulnerable when revealed. The risk exists of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. It would be too easy to discard the inconvenient feelings completely, with all that is connected to them, but how cowardly. How much better to follow the habit of a lifetime and do a revision.

Is it really like Voldemort?? Never saying the name makes him ever more frightening? Uttering the word is the first step, turning him from an otherwordly, all-powerful demon into a manageable, defeatable entity.

I am not bound by formless, volitionless impulses. I am bound neither to blindly accept their existence, nor to run wildly from the fear they invoke. There is middle ground. There can be first, second, third revisions, ad infinitum. The draft will never be ready for publishing. That's the way life goes when you're living it and not sitting on the sidelines watching.


Friday, January 22, 2010

Chemistry is frustrating- dream journal

I was sitting on an ottoman in a college chemistry class with the kids I graduated from high school with. The teacher kept doing calculations on the board, but I didn't understand anything. I kept raising my hand and asking for explanations, but he couldn't help me. After class, I went up to ask him what I could do. "My math is weak." I explained. He just gave me a set of homework figures to work on. The frustration was palpable.

sronnoc esor

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

a Record

I've neglected this poor blog ever since I joined Facebook. Yesterday, inviting a friend to read my archives here inspired me to read over them myself. I wanted to see what I had to be embarrassed by. I guess I've written my share of whiny posts here, but I always figured that venting was an important use for a blog. If sharing some of my inmost thoughts seems slightly embarrassing, it is nonetheless useful to be reminded of things I would have otherwise forgotten. Reading back over the last four years of my life, I appreciate the journey, and wonder if the next four years will take me as far. In 2009 I went on a diet, lost 25 pounds, started biking, and renewed a lease for the first time since jc and I have been married. It's nice to have a record.