Chemistry

What is that ineffable thing which makes us fall for one person and not another? Last night I had a very nice evening with a perfect gentleman. He has similar values to mine, great conversation, good at listening – in fact an all round good egg.

I couldn’t imagine kissing him and I don’t think I ever will.

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Disappointed

It’s been more than a week since I wrote and truth is I’ve been too embarrassed to write. How can a woman with all the gifts I have had in my life over the past six weeks still be fundamentally so very sad?

My dreams allude to him all the time – often not explicitly but they are always disturbed and I wake up with that tortured feeling.

It could be that it’s now less than three weeks till I see him again and the thought makes my eyes well. It could be that I haven’t allowed myself time to really grieve so determined have I been to be happy again as quickly as possible. It could be that it really now is a couple of weeks since we even indirectly communicated. 

I am so concerned with managing my mind and keeping busy, counting my blessings, being in the moment… The grief is squeezing itself out through my dreams and now manifesting itself in the tightest of clenched jaws.

Why am I so afraid of seeing him? Because I’m afraid he will say things are going well and he will never leave her? Because I’m afraid he will say it’s hard work and he misses me on occasion but that he has to give it plenty of time? Because i”m afraid he will still want me and afraid he won’t want me. Afraid he will have set himself up in a way which ensures he’s not  open to temptation …. and that he won’t have set himself up. 

All of the outcomes seem awful. Yet that indicates I still harbour hope in his direction. If I didn’t what he did and didn’t do; what he said snd didn’t say, would be irrelevant to me.

A woman on a lead

Last night I dreamt I was on holiday with my parents and my grandma (who died many years ago). We were in a shop buying the strangest dresses. 

When I went back in the evening to buy one of them which had really caught my eye I passed a woman holding on to a lead being led by a man. She dropped it behaved slightly oddly and then rushed to pick it up.

I’m sure Jung would have a field day and indeed it isn’t so hard to interpret that dream. And it’s fair to say that I allowed my Dutch friend to give me hope on his subject….she was convinced he will be hugely affected by seeing me in June.  Then there was the picture he put if himself on twitter.

Anyway  it wasn’t a good day yesterday.  I also uncovered a hole in our revenue for the Big Show which is utterly mortifying. I suppose I am allowed the odd wobble but I’m glad it is in four weeks and not next week  that I’m seeing “him” again.

Thriving and surviving 

This weekend, like last, I really thrived. 

   
The session was delivered partly by a weak chinned “on the one hand and on the other” oxford  lecturer and a visiting, very dry, minor celebrity philosopher who had a very clear point of view.

I was mostly at sea – deliberately scribbling the few ideas which made sense to me and struck very much by the 82 year old visiting professors precise use of language, wherein each idea built on the last, an idea he wanted to emphasise repeated in the same words – which was an interesting device.

I had had no idea what to expect but I suppose diving into the knottiest question of all – what makes us conscious – without any of the shared vocabulary or distinctions understood by philosophers, without an idea of the thoughts propounded by Descartes and Locke and Hobbs was a tad ambitious.

The ideas which most appealed to me as ripe for further investigation are related but separate fields of study . Determinism – which as an aside the professor said he believed in – says that our behaviour is instinctive and that any belief in true free will is just about making human beings feel superior to the animal kingdom. The second subject is one referred to in this blog – that our subconscious mind drives the majority of our behaviour. There is only a small unveiled part of our brain which we are aware of as making decisions.

So there were 89 eager beavers on this course. 50% were retired people and the remainder divided into doctors and professors from other parts of the country and a few curious like me.

I was inspired by Barbara. 80 years old, she’s lived all over the world , latterly in Tanzania and Hong Kong, studied psychology, been a probation officer in a high security prison… When we were discussing why we were here I mentioned that a recent love affair had driven me half mad and switched off much of my brain she immediately recommended me a paper she’d recently read on the subject which demonstrated exactly which parts of the brain are switched off completely whilst in love – including the parts dealing with judgement! She then mentioned that she also wa coming out of the grips of an obsession so the capacity doesn’t go away. The object of her affection is 45 years old…. At one point during dinner when I was explaining my job and my relationship with my ex husband she burst out “people like you and I thrive my dear!”

I stayed in the calm of St Stephens College. It felt very good to be there.

   
It was flattering that Harold a 50 year old GP was waiting for me to go to lunch, as was John a nice looking 41 year old 6th form teacher. After a few minutes chewing he said ” so you have a daughter and you’re divorced, you’re a very attractive person and I was wondering if you were looking for a relationship?” I fairly blushed. 

On returning home I got a call from an old Dutch friend who I lived with in my twenties in Amsterdam. We had a glorious evening chewing the fat and she wanted to see a picture of “him”. I looked on twitter and there he was with his football team from a match the previous day. It gave me a terrible jolt. 

The other piece of not so good news is that every night I am having nightmares. They don’t often feature “him” and they aren’t terrible but nightmares nonetheless. When I thought of how it will be to see him this morning my eyes filled with tears. That is a meeting to be “survived”.

I’ve a nasty feeling my subconscious may still have things to process on his account after all. 

Self expression and leadership 

I promised I’d write every day but I think it’s a good sign that today I don’t feel like it.

I realise I am no longer dreading seeing “him” in a few weeks. I’m sure there will be a wobble or two when I do but as things stand I am completely at peace with the way things are between us right now.

I cannot believe how distinguishing and understanding that I have made myself smaller in order to attract a man (“him” included) has given me such a breakthrough in authentic self expression. That this in itself is a huge key to leadership and over the last few days I’ve seen my networks explode and my projects in the industry I serve start to attract lots of attention. It’s no coincidence that Landmark run a Self Expression and Leadership programme. 

Meantime I suspect he is having to be very controlled in what he says – certainly in what he tweets – his self expression will have taken a hit. I’m sure he misses the easy communication between us- as I do too on occasion.

Whilst he relates to himself as smaller than I relate to him (“I can’t understand why you love me” a consistent refrain) I feel I have to damp down who I am to make him feel better. That’s been a consistent approach in my relationships.

Being myself completely and utterly has not put people off. I’ve got a date in a couple of weeks.

Human beings or human doings?

I believe that our experience of life is hugely impacted by who we are being. That might be unhappy, sad, anxious, jaundiced, controlled, angry or joyful, loving, happy, confident, empathetic. 

I am just astounded by what a breakthrough in “being” has allowed to show up for me over the last week or so: the people, the opportunities. 

Here’s just one example but I have lots: What seems a lifetime ago, but in fact was only a couple of months, I went up to Scotland to my honorary niece’s 18th. On the plane thanks to my daughter’s intervention, I got chatting to the man in the next seat. We had similar grateful outlooks on life – he uses the word awesome a lot – you get the picture. In an hour we had bonded and looked at some business we might do together. 

Last night he invited me to a little networking do at the oxo tower  

I was excited at the prospect of meeting completely new people not from my industry. I had a chat with a lovely man in wind turbines and then was talking for a very long time to a man who specialises in training people in networking skills. He turned out to know the futurologist who presented to us at work, and will introduce me to 2 people who will get me into women’s networks in the city and help me out with our women’s networking event. I picked up 2 or 3 interesting tips as well.

I briefly chatted to the man from the plane and mentioned I’d had my heart broken since we met last. He said that I was one of life”s shiny people; that he recognised I was fishing in a small pond in terms of men who could deal with me but they were out there. He said I needed to know I was a gorgeous, gorgeous woman. 

I’ve booked the lecture at Oxford this weekend. Apparently around 80 of us will be there. It’s an overnight with dinner. I never would have thought of doing something like that before and if I had thought of it I would not have had the courage to do it. Now I’m just utterly excited.

I know I am doing a huge amount which I’ve never done before and that in itself has the power to transform but it’s chicken and egg. Without the transformation in the area of who I am being in terms of the level of confidence, love, compassion I feel emanating effortlessly from me I would be too scared to “do” and when I did, it would be terrifying as opposed to inspiring. 

Breakdown for breakthrough

Dr John Izzo believes that human beings wait until they have walked into a crisis before they address a situation. He was referring to the environment specifically but I used to think this could equally be said for “him” , who did not acknowledge his marriage was completely stale until he met me. Often, he says, at this point a crisis is too late to address. 

 

At Landmark we talked about the fact that sometimes only when things reach complete breakdown is there opportunity for breakthrough – and that’s my belief too. That out of the biggest pains in my life (all in this romantic area!) have come the greatest insights, growth in compassion, understanding, confidence, and belief in what’s possible for human beings. 

And then there is depression. For must of us, no matter how resilient, there are times when life seems completely bleak.  I experienced this for the first time living in Australia when I obsessed constantly about one person in particular who was happily married and who became the target for all my envy and hatred. When I wasn’t angry inside I was desperately sad. This lasted for months, years. I imagine that’s how “his” wife feels about me. On emerging finally from that state, the person who was the object for all my displaced ill feeling, I now love very much indeed.

This morning the sky is blue, the blossom and roses are crazy this year, the birds are singing so sweetly and I am struck by how much I can appreciate all that when for the last 7 or so months I haven’t been able to. That my unhappiness and obsession have lifted has enabled me genuinely to appreciate the world again. It’s the same as what occurred before. Addressing the circumstances – in that case separating from my husband, allowed the miasma to lift. 

It’s no good asking depressed people to appreciate all their good fortune and how amazing the world is. They cannot. For those who suffer from anxiety and depression because of a situation in their lives – for me the key is to unlock which of their circumstances they need to change. I know lots of people don’t agree with me- that changing your attitude to your circumstances is possible in all cases and that habitual negative thinking can be trained out of an individual but that hasn’t been my personal experience. 

This weekend I an strongly considering going to a lecture about consciousness at Oxford – the lecturer is 82! Expect some seriously improved thinking!

Fighting who you are

When I was in my mid teens I read a book of short stories by an Irish author about women. They were all in unconventional situations – divorced, having affairs, single parents, strident feminists. 

I remember the book upset me greatly. This wasn’t how life was supposed to turn out . What was supposed to happen was that you met a man like my dad who would always look after you and live happily ever after – just like my parents have.

I’ve thought about why that book upset me so very much on many occasions since. I can’t help but feel that as a woman more like my dad than my mum, certainly in intelligence and ambition, that in my heart I always knew my mother’s life was not for me. The book read like a terrifying prediction of the future for someone “like me”.

In becoming who I  am today there has been a mix of growing into my skin and fighting who I wish I was. In some ways my relationship with “him” is a perfect reflection of this. I was desperate to just look after him and be looked after. His wife sounds more like my mum. Would love, she says, to be a housewife. He was certain she would never meet anyone else and she couldn’t cope without him. Of course in spite of my protestations that I would rather die than lose him, it just doesn’t ring true. I am very capable of looking after myself and being happy and fulfilled in my life by myself. I sense this is an unattractive quality for most men.

In my relationship with him I felt that finally what I craved and felt in my parents relationship was within reach. I could finally give up being a big person and make myself smaller to be with him.

Now he’s gone, what feels natural is to make myself bigger than I ever was before. It feels right to be very straight with people (kindly I hope), to see where I can make a contribution and not be shy about that, to be completely honest about who I am and to hold my head up high.  To stand up with humour and grace for things I believe in. I have become that woman I was so terrified of being.

Lucky

My contrary friend pondered whether this blog was a good idea or whether it might cause me to obsess. He has a point. I think it’s a good sign I didn’t feel moved to write all weekend.

Well I did feel moved … But not about myself and I must say I have got Into a bit of a pickle because as my main passion is talking to friends about their lives and mine and lots of them are reading this now, they will pretty soon start to recognise themselves…. 

Sunday was the first day in over 4 weeks where I haven’t cried at all. I still thought about him. I found his cricket ball and a pair of socks. I talked about it all with a few friends and concluded, in the face of their anger with how he’s behaved towards me, that I definitely still love him. 

However I was propelled at speed from one friend to the next culminating in two of my old still stubbornly single male friends coming round to take my car to the garage to blow up the tyres. 

If “he” and my vain desire for him were not still in my head I would just be marvelling at how lucky I am. Lucky because if I look at all the people in my life, most are struggling with problems which are bigger than mine. Most of their situations are harder to see a way out of whereas for mine with enough time, distraction and not seeing him I can see I will be ok. 

I sense I’m on the cusp of finding someone to date. I was chatted up by a single dad at the pool on Saturday and then my ex husband came along and acted like a husband …which put paid to that!  There’s a friend of a friend who might be interested; there are a plethora of dating sites out there… I’d like to get back on the horse. I’m probably not ready to sleep with anyone but a spot of dating….

Thinking back 10 years it is amazing what transformation can be achieved with enough action. It was the absolute truth for me that no one would ever want to date me, sleep with me, be with me… I slid my eyes away from any man my age in case he “thought I was looking at him”. Now I am blatant, confident and since the latest episode with “him”, sure of my appeal. 

And lucky … How lucky am I to be comforted by my ex husband on Saturday, confided in by an ex colleague on Sunday, then invited in to the bosom of the very interesting family of another friend for lunch; finally sharing a laugh with friends (the bachelors) who at almost 50 (them not ME) I realise I have known nearly 25 years?!