Friday, April 13, 2012


So I've been thinking quite a bit about relationships, romantic and friendly, lately. Analyzing past relationships to learn from them, trying to figure out what people I'm currently in relationships with can give and what I can or should be giving in return, how I want all this to translate into future relationships. As evidenced by previous posts, Moneypenny and I are still having trouble navigating our friendship, which really isn't anything new, though I do think that we're being more candid earlier than we used to be.

I got this song in my head:

Official video won't embed but here's link:
Completely complacent
So decidedly vacant
I keep waiting for something to give
But that something is always me
You consume what you’re able
I get crumbs from your table
You call this comfortably normal
But I call it getting by
Baby, it’s a fine line
I’m holding on, you’re holding back
Baby, it’s a fine line
Can’t you hear me knockin’ at your door?
But you’re taking your sweet time
In love, out of touch
Baby, it’s a fine line
Baby, it’s a real fine line
Do you feel the distance
Like I feel resistance?
If I pulled any farther away
Would you even come after me?
But the one thing I’m fearing
Is that I’m disappearing
How can I keep believing
If you won’t prove me wrong?
Baby, it’s a fine line
I’m holding on, you’re holding back
Baby, it’s a fine line
Can’t you hear me knockin’ at your door?
But you’re taking your sweet time
In love, out of touch
Baby, it’s a fine line
Baby, it’s a real fine line

Now the current situation with Moneypenny isn't that desperate by a long shot, but just a few weeks ago, this is pretty close to what I was feeling. I think that our biggest problems lately have come from the a simple misunderstanding. Moneypenny will tell me that he wants to do x or wants to be x, which I misunderstand to mean that x is his goal right now. What he really means is "I want to do/be x, BUT I'm not really able to." What makes it a bit more confusing is that sometimes he'll do/be x for a bit after saying that, but then things go back to how they were or go in the opposite direction, like yo-yo dieting. Then I bring it up, he tries really hard for a bit, then it goes back. The biggest area this has shown up in lately is our level and frequency of contact. He's said time and again that I'm his closest friend, that this is the biggest relationship in his life, which I am not denying is true, but for me that means fairly frequent contact, responding when someone asks you something in text or email, not disappearing for days at a time without a single word. (Yes I know this sounds more like I'm his girlfriend or his mom, but those of you out there with someone you call your bestfriend, what do you expect?) Now when he says he can't do that, when he's sick, when he's working lots of overtime, when he's got a busy week or weekend, I don't expect that. But, as we live in different cities and he's not one of those people who puts his whole life on Facebook, I don't really know that stuff. Maybe I do expect too much, but I feel like I try to expect something along the lines of what he says he'll do. (Me thinks the lady doth protest too much.) He's thought a bit about this too and thinks that it would be easier if we saw each other more often, as he's more connected in that way to local friends who he sees regularly. Of course, we're having a bit of trouble finding times when we are both free at the moment.

For a few years now, I've tried to both be aware of how I feel about other people, what I'd like from them or with them, but ultimately to know that they can only be who they are at that moment and they can only give what they can give at that moment. I'm not saying I always do this successfully, but I try. Even though it can be really awkward at times, I do try to ask the other person instead of making assumptions.

Looking back at my relationship with TyRoy, both the romantic period and the friendship period, I think that both of us being as honest as we could be about what we expected and what we could give, and accepting where the other person was, is what allowed us to stay together. I think most of the rather few, considering how long we've known each other, times we clashed were precipitated by my negative BPD coping skills getting the best of me and him having no clue what the fuck was going on. These always started with some crazy little thing that upset me way more than it justifiably should have, but at the time I didn't have the knowledge or the skills to take a step back from it. But looking at my relationship with TyRoy, the biggest thing it brought to my life was consistency. He is a very consistent person, lives a very consistent life, was present in my life in consistent ways, had consistent expectations of me, was consistently honest about who he is and what he wants and how I do or don't fit into that. It can't be overestimated how helpful this is for someone who has never felt consistent or stable.

Bipolar disorder is largely believed today to be a brain chemical imbalance that switches a person between depression and mania. Then let's add to that borderline personality disorder, which has a great deal of black and white thinking, living on the extremes in my personality, where I'm either experiencing unrelenting crisis or inhibited feeling, look completely competent or practice active passivity. I'm one crazy chick, right? Then you put me together with Moneypenny, who can easily get carried away in the early part of a new romantic relationship, but, in the long-term, is governed by a Ben Stiller's actuary character from "Along Came Polly." This means that once he's gotten over the heady falling in love period and knows a lady a bit better, he determines what risks there are to being with her, and, so far at least, those risks always outweigh the uncertain reward. So he pulls away, except not quite far enough away to actually leave, because he still does have hope, hope that she'll grow out of that risk. Not surprisingly, she doesn't. Usually, his pulling away only magnifies the qualities or behaviors he found risky in the first place. I'm not writing this to be judgmental or put him on blast. Honestly, while he has many qualities that are extra-ordinary, this all-in then pull-out seems to be rather typical (romantic) relationship behavior for many people, especially men, of our age and I think that cultural and socioeconomic factors, as well as being able prevent pregnancy, tend to allow it to go on longer without it being questioned. I'm not saying that any of those things are wrong or that I would want those contributing factors to change. Just that this is what is. But when culture still pushes (straight) women to think that their highest goal is to get married and have children, when their friends and family put pressure on them to get married, when they are barraged with stories about how not making babies as young as possible after their teens because they start losing fertility, but, on the other hand, pushes even harder on men to not get trapped, to not be invested, to put their male friendships first, to be the cop making sure that feelings don't speed in the relationship, to not feel like they can lose this woman if they don't act to shore up the relationship, well, for better or worse, this creates two people in a relationship with completely opposite motivations and goals. It's not a romantic partnership. What you have here are romantic frenemies.

After my romantic relationship with Moneypenny ended, I really thought that all straight men were like the above. BT showed me that a man my age could jump right in, all the way in, though maybe he only jumped right in because he knew he was physically leaving. On the other hand, he was from a completely different cultural and socioeconomic place than my previous boyfriends. TyRoy had jumped in completely to a fairly new relationship when he was my age and had done all he could to stay in it, though it ultimately didn't last. A bit older than me (or Moneypenny) and much farther along in his life goals than either of us, he seemed to be past the bullshit. More self-assured, he laid out what he wanted, didn't like to waste any time, apparently still felt that it was better to go for that relationship than let the potential (or obvious) risks get in the way. I think this came from age, experience, and, because of his career, not being allowed the extended adolescence post-college that many of us have today. Though I know of plenty of (straight) couples that seem to get engaged and married more out of the push of the female partner and the male partner's feelings of inevitability, this weekend, one of my uncle's close friend's boyfriend of five months surprised her by proposing to her while they were visiting her family for Easter. He wanted to get married as soon as possible, to start this new life together as soon as possible, but because he also wanted them to have a party to celebrate it, they're crunching the numbers to balance that out. She told my mom that he's already been out tasting cakes. Seeing both people so excited about it just makes me all criemy-wimey. It's nice knowing it's not all one way.

They say that the only constant in all your failed relationships is you. Looking back, I see how the tango between my poor BPD and bipolar coping skills and my partner's extreme all-ins then pull-back-outs spelled disaster for us. But I picked these guys, didn't I? So why was TyRoy different, so I can try to repeat the success of that one? Honestly, I think it's because I didn't really pick him. At least not for that. If I'd just went on a regular date with him, a romantic date which I hoped might become a romantic relationship, I honestly probably wouldn't have gone on many more. Gods love him, but he's a pushy, aggressive, stubborn, not traditionally romantic bastard. We became e-mail friends because we had shared losses at the time, with no intention to meet in person ever. We met in person because I also answered a kinky casual encounters ad that I didn't know was his. We were just supposed to be a sexual stop-over relationship for each other, so all those things that I would have rejected him for if I was going to date him didn't really matter to me. I think that we became closer as we found more and more common ground and the more the relationship proved to work for us in real time. While his consistency might have been a no go in someone I sought out for dating, I think it was a large factor in how successful we were. So I think my choosing is all of.

Of course, this doesn't help the situation with Moneypenny, now does it? *Sigh* Except that maybe I should work to be more consistent and to see the ways in which his behavior is consistent in itself, even if it's not consistent with what he says. Though I'm not a huge Oprah fan, I take lessons where I can find them. One of her favorite sayings, which is from Maya Angelou, is "When someone shows you who they are, believe them." I also remember a further quote from a relationship expert that she used to have on her show all the time, but had developed a rift with, just about the time the expert's own romantic relationship fell apart. When the two reconciled in Oprah's last season, the relationship expert said that she completely agreed with the quote, but would add, "And when someone TELLS you who they are, go to the other side of the street," meaning when someone tells you that they are in a negative sense, if that is something you don't want in a relationship, instead of thinking they're going to change or that you can fix them, don't proceed with that relationship. I don't think that the Maya Angelou quote has to be taken negatively though. TyRoy has shown himself to be very good at day to day life, to be completely open and honest and without guile with me, though, while he's never turned me away, he's also shown that he does not have a clue what to do with me when I'm in an emotional crisis. Moneypenny has shown that he's not very good at the everyday, but he's amazing when I'm in a crisis, knows just how to cut to the heart of the matter and make me see things in a different, more helpful light. If I could put the best parts of them together.... Nevermind. I can't control other people, so I always try to find what I can do to make situations more tolerable for myself. Here, I think I need to keep working on accepting and making the best us of who Moneypenny really is right now, and ignore anything he says that's not backed up by actions.

Finally, a closing number, by the Boss himself. How I often feel in life and relationships, but am trying to develop the skills to change, because time only moves one way, away from yesterday:

Woke up this morning the house was cold
Checked the furnace she wasn’t burnin’
Went out and hopped in my old Ford
Hit the engine but she ain’t turnin’
We’ve given each other some hard lessons lately
But we ain’t learnin’
We’re the same sad story that’s a fact
One step up and two steps back
[ Lyrics from: ]
Bird on a wire outside my motel room
But he ain’t singin’
Girl in white outside a church in June
But the church bells they ain’t ringin’
I’m sittin’ here in this bar tonight
But all I’m thinkin’ is
I’m the same old story same old act
One step up and two steps back

It’s the same thing night on night
Who’s wrong baby who’s right
Another fight and I slam the door on
Another battle in our dirty little war

When I look at myself I don’t see
The man I wanted to be
Somewhere along the line I slipped off track
I’m caught movin’ one step up and two steps back

There’s a girl across the bar
I get the message she’s sendin’
Mmm she ain’t lookin’ too married
And me well honey I’m pretending
Last night I dreamed I held you in my arms
The music was never-ending
We danced as the evening sky faded to black
One step up and two steps back

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