Monogamous by circumstance\Where do I go now?

Silas

New member
Hello everyone,

Approximately one year ago, I decided that I was polyamorous. I was dating someone at the time and it ended because of my choice. The chronicles of said relationship can be found here. After finding peace with my conviction, I moved on. I was not desperate to get into anything new. I knew that I was no longer willing to allow any room for confusion regarding what kind of relationships I was seeking. I had a limited time rendezvous with a girl just before moving to Michigan to live and work on a farm. I was honest with her from the start and given our limited time, it wasn't a problem for her. She said she would even have been open to it had things had the chance to continue. It was a very encouraging and rational experience after my past couple relationships. We are still friends. Since then, I have viewed myself as single with the intent that any relationship I might enter into be non-monogamous.

After a year, I still feel great conviction about who I am and the kind of relationships that I ultimately want. I have grown and learned much through my move, my work and the community I am a part of here. However, I only ever planned for this community to be seasonal for two reasons: 1. I feel I can learn the most about myself right now by continuing to wander and travel. 2. I knew that it would likely be very difficult for me to find poly-minded partners and community here. This has proved to be true.

During this time, I worked with a young girl on the farm with whom a deep attraction was tangible and undeniable. I knew we wouldn't last the summer without addressing it and so I had a talk with her. Before anything happened, I told her very plainly where I was at. I liked her a lot but she should know that I was only interested in open relationships. I could not be her boyfriend. My recent history and habit is that of co-dependency and that because of this my primary commitment is to myself right now. I would likely leave after the season. I wanted to believe that I could still share intimacy with people. If there was anything I said that she couldn't accept, I would be happy being her friend. I wanted her to know what she was getting into. I guess partly because she is younger, it was easy to assume that she still wanted the fairy-tale romance. I was simply letting her know the limits of what I could give. She was surprised but said she respected my honesty. She said okay. She said she was willing to continue and see what happens.

It occurs to me now that I have this concept that if a relationship is understood to be limited in some way (non-monogamous, existing plans to move away, limited personal resources, etc.) then the people in it will keep their hearts from attaching beyond those limits. A healthy person will maintain some space from attachment. Perhaps this is naive. I didn't know what else to do besides remain honest, regularly reiterate what I wanted and check-in with her and how she was feeling. In the end, I couldn't know her inner capacity so all I could do was trust her to know herself and take care of herself.

The way this worked out is that we continued our affections but with lots of space and independence. Sometimes we were more like friends (and co-workers) and not romantic at all. Other times we most certainly were. We had all kinds of adventures together. She was my best friend this summer. When the season was over we took a trip to Mexico together and traveled around for a month. We have become very close. I want her in my life always.

The big problem here is that because of the lack of any poly-community nearby and in general the limited number of people in a place like this I have not dated anyone else but her since the beginning of the season. We have been monogamous by circumstance. This was further engineered by the demanding level of involvement that the farm required of me. I had to give up pursuing not just other partners but basically every other hobby I have. It felt good to give myself to something so completely but with its passing I am left with the same desires regarding relationships I had before and really no more experience living them.

I am now at a crossroads. I have two months housesitting alone in Michigan before I must decide what I will move toward next. My friend and lover has certainly become more attached than she should and I am afraid of it. I love her but I don't know if polyamory is what she really wants. I am prepared to move on though it will hurt us both. I feel like I need some real experience in my life living the kind of relationships that I have wanted for so long. It seems almost impossible to pursue such an uncommonly held perspective in a place this small. I don't want to feel doomed to attempt conversion every time I like someone. It takes so much time and energy just to find out it isn't what they want after all. And some will just tell you straight out they don't. I feel like if I am to learn more about this part of myself I need a healthy and supportive environment to do it in. A community. Or at least a place where more people think differently. I feel willing to move my life to find this for myself. It feels critical to finding out who I am. It is calling to be explored.

Do those of you with experience find this to be a true dilemma? What advice can you give? What are my options? San Francisco? A commune?

And of course, it isn't as easy as simply choosing somewhere to move. I am broke and without a job. This is alright for the moment but will not be in two months when the house-sitting gigs are over. It takes money to move and get established somewhere. And the only job being offered to me now is back at the farm. I feel great hesitation in this because it would be another long commitment where I am not pursuing what I want. (polyamory music, theater, travel.) Also, I would then continue to work with my dear friend and I already fear it is not healthy. If there is a moment to step back from the relationship, it is now. What if necessity keeps me here? I think it would be challenging to work together when she is so unclear about what she wants. I don't want to give her further cause for pain and I don't know if she would end it even if she knew it wasn't good for her. At this point, I am still very optimistic that we will remain close friends. I am afraid that without some space, this possibility will diminish.

This has been a giant, sprawling, gush of words. I always fail at brevity. Heh. I hope it has been of interest to some and I hope that you might find the time to share your experience, advice, even criticism. My mistakes and vulnerabilities are on display here. I wish only to learn and grow.

It is here that I seek friends who can understand the motivations behind my choices.

With Gratitude, Silas
 

seakinganswers

New member
I have never been in a poly relationship before. But I can tell you my desire to be in a poly relationship has less to do with always wanting to be with more than one person at a time, but instead in always wanting to know the door is open if I should meet someone special that I was free to explore those feelings and desires. So being poly for me would I'm sure have several times that I wasn't currently and actively with more than one person.
 

InsaneMystic

New member
I have never been in a poly relationship before. But I can tell you my desire to be in a poly relationship has less to do with always wanting to be with more than one person at a time, but instead in always wanting to know the door is open if I should meet someone special that I was free to explore those feelings and desires. So being poly for me would I'm sure have several times that I wasn't currently and actively with more than one person.
This.

IMO, monogamy is not about "being with one partner", it's about "being with one partner in a closed, exclusive 'ship". No matter how many partners I end up currently being with - for me, that's been zero most of my life, and one for the last nearly six years (I'm simply not partner-compatible with terribly many persons on this planet, so the "opportunity" hardly ever arises... and that's okay by me) - I see it that I always am polyamorous just because I know that I won't ever agree to a closed/exclusive arrangement (neither on a sexual nor on an emotional level). Meaning that polyfi structures will never be my cup of tea, either... for the exact same reason that monogamy isn't.

IMO, it's really not about the number of your ships you're in; it's all about the "style" of agreements that you prefer in the ships that you do end up in, regardless of how many these may be in practice.
 

Dagferi

Well-known member
My advice is do not focus on the number of relationships you have... Worry about the quality.
 

Silas

New member
You all make a good point. This isn't monogamy. I wouldn't have agreed to that. I will try to better explain what I mean.

Having been in nothing but monogamous relationships before and knowing the inclination of most people out there, it feels all to easy to fall into the mindset that if, in your relationship, you have seen only each other for a fair period of time then you must have a monogamous relationship. It becomes subconsciously assumed without even fully being aware of it. I am mostly talking about her but I am also talking about me. It is still a habit for me to act as though I am in a monogamous relationship because that is my conditioning as well. There has been no experience to the contrary except for the words we speak. And it feels like if someone is to come along and I want to pursue that, it will have happened after so much conditioned exclusivity. Basically it will be a huge blow to the relationship. Whereas if that sort of situation were present from the beginning, the attachment levels are low enough and the expectations clear to see that it isn't so harsh of a shift. Remember, I don't want to lose her as a friend and I have a strong inclination to think that she probably has been okay with my polyamorous status because it hasn't gone anywhere yet.

Basically, I worry about the futility of words in conveying a person's true expectations. I guess that doesn't sound very trusting. I have just been in so many situations in my life where people think they know what they want and what is going on but they are deluding themselves. And by the time they figure this out, it is too late and too much damage done. I myself, have been a victim of my own self-delusion many times.

Lastly, I do feel a desire to see other people. I value my relationship with her but I do not find that it fulfills everything that I want out of relationships. No one relationship ever has for me. I feel like I have postponed this desire because it hasn't felt available given my circumstances. I have been okay with that for a while but I am at a point where I would like to see how I am with other people. If I ignore that for another season, I feel I will be unhappy.

And back to my original question: Does it make sense to pursue that in such a small place?
 

nycindie

Active member
I don't see why you can't say to her everything you've stated here. Ultimately, it's up to her what level of investment she wants to make and how to handle whatever kind of relationship arrangement she agrees to. Trust that she knows what she's getting into. I think it's great that you are concerned about hurting her and do not want to mislead her in any way, but it can feel a bit insulting if you're going to make decisions based on wanting to "protect" her.

And yes, people who live in small communities can still make poly work. You just need to be open and honest about being non-exclusive (I usually talk about exclusivity/non-exclusivity without using the word "polyamory" because it has certain connotations and misperceptions attached to it). People will probably see it as just a choice you're making because you will eventually move away. Many single folk date several people before "settling down," so it really won't look that unusual.
 
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GalaGirl

Well-known member
And it feels like if someone is to come along and I want to pursue that, it will have happened after so much conditioned exclusivity. Basically it will be a huge blow to the relationship. Whereas if that sort of situation were present from the beginning, the attachment levels are low enough and the expectations clear to see that it isn't so harsh of a shift.

It hasn't come to pass. So why jump to this conclusion? And a blow for who -- her or you or both? :confused:

Could remember she's not your previous relationship people and not sell her short on the basis of other people's behavior. You were poly-single when you met her, not poly-partnered. It is what it is.

But expectations being clear can happen ANY time. If you are concerned about them, have a talk about what is expected NOW rather than fretting they were not laid out well THEN.

Remember, I don't want to lose her as a friend and I have a strong inclination to think that she probably has been okay with my polyamorous status because it hasn't gone anywhere yet.

Do you basically want her reassurance that she's still cool with you seeing other people, polyshipping with you, etc? Why not ask her if she is willing to reassure you on that then? So you can feel better and KNOW what she thinks, rather than guessing or thinking she thinks X? :confused:

To me it's like you sell her short because you automatically assume doom or that she doesn't know her own self. Kinda insulting. (Or projecting on to her because you don't know your own self or struggle with anxiety management? :confused:)

Or you sell you both short because you don't want to either of you to attach too deep in case doom comes. Not giving either YOU or HER your best intentions to the relationship if you are there but ready to bolt at any moment rather than enjoying being there.

Could talk about how you both want to break up with grace should it have to happen -- maybe that helps reassure you that there won't be an ugly break up thing so you can RELAX and enjoy being in this relationship without fear?

Could dare to risk experiencing non-doom, love, and nothing horrible happening. :eek:

Basically, I worry about the futility of words in conveying a person's true expectations. I guess that doesn't sound very trusting. I have just been in so many situations in my life where people think they know what they want and what is going on but they are deluding themselves. And by the time they figure this out, it is too late and too much damage done. I myself, have been a victim of my own self-delusion many times..

WHO? This section sometimes has "no specific owner" --- who are "they?" Did you mean this? :confused:

"Basically, I worry about the futility of MY words in conveying MY true expectations. I guess that doesn't sound very trusting. I have just been in so many situations in my life where I think I know what I want and what is going on but I am deluding myself. And by the time I figure this out, it is too late (for what?)and too much damage done (to what?). I myself, have been a victim of my own self-delusion many times."​

I suggest you could think about how you talk and note when you make sentences "with no specific owner" -- because maybe that plays into your confusing yourself -- that "self delusion" thing you are talking about.

To me this post reads like your anxiety -- not anything of her behaviors that you list. Are you able to see how it could read that way?

IS it your anxiety getting the best of you here? :confused:

You worry about self-delusions -- like what specifically?
  • Are you able to trust yourself in relationshipping or not?
  • Do you know to break up when things are not good or healthy?
  • Do you keep healthy boundaries?
  • Do you rely on the other person to set the tone/pace in a relationship or can you set your own?
  • Can you know and articulate your wants, needs, and limits?
  • How well do you handle disappointments?
  • Something else?

Because all that is intrapersonal stuff that you work out with YOU. Not with her.

You can handle this, you can handle being in a polyship with her. Trust that she can handle it too. Whether you stay together or break up with grace -- it can all be good experience. It doesn't have to be "doom." Could express what you need to express to her and let it grow from there. Could communicate and build trust. Could relate.

HTH!
Galagirl
 
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Silas

New member
Sigh…. I feel a little humbled after my last post. GG and NYC, you hit the nail on the head. It is true that I have been in an anxious state. I intentionally didn't edit what I was writing very much because I wanted whatever bullshit was coming out to be responded to. I had a sense that there was something unhealthy with where I was coming from. I didn't want to try hiding it. I wanted to hear what it was.

The core of what I am realizing here is that I am simply not trusting her or myself enough. Because she is younger than me, perhaps I am trying to protect her too much. GG, your'e totally right. Nothing is doomed. I have felt more preoccupied with trying to control what will happen rather than enjoy what IS happening. She has been nothing but good to me. And yes, no matter my experiences, she is not my past lovers. It's funny because in so many other situations in life I am adamant about giving people the benefit of the doubt. I seem to have missed that here. Your advice brought me a great sense of relief. Why can't I be honest and let her decide what she is willing to be a part of? To let the chips fall where they may?

My past has left me so down on attachment and so fearful of dependence. I lost myself in it all before and felt the greatest pain of my life. I have been working to know and redefine myself since. I realize I am not going to develop healthy relationships if I am being controlled by the fear that it will all end up the same. I guess I am still learning to trust that there are healthy forms of attachment and dependence. Still learning what that looks like. I am attempting to break all my old habits here and that may take some practice and patience.

In my paragraph with "no specific owner," I was referring to my past lovers and then finally me. And yes, I realize I can sometimes project a lot. I need to assume less that others have the same weaknesses that I do. I need to own it. This is something that got very muddled in my co-dpependent relationship. We didn't know whose problems were whose anymore. I have been working to own and address mine for the past two years. I guess I still have some work to do. :)

NYC, your advice on how to make poly work in smaller communities is immensely helpful and makes sense. I will remember it. Thank you.

GG, two years ago I would have answered all of your bullet point questions with the unhealthy answers. Today, I would say I do know all of those things but I am still learning about them and they are still new skills for me that I have little experience strengthening yet.

Thankfully, I believe I have been good at being clear about expectations. Part of it is that she is less communicative and often I have to ask her how she feels. But really, it's all on my end. She has given me no reason to doubt her. I think when you have trouble trusting yourself, it can be difficult to believe that someone else does. And my fear of other's self-delusion (due to my own) makes me feel like they will just believe whatever they want anyway. Then I take that guilt on myself when it leads to a painful situation. Just being aware of this helps me to be mindful of it.

I will talk to her again and hold up what I have learned about myself here. I will work to trust her and let her decide what she is willing to be a part of. She has as much a say in what happens as I do. In the mean time: relax, relax, relax. Take it as it comes. No more doomsaying. I can handle this. I can choose to not live by my fears and to trust. Myself and others.

Any further comments are welcome. Thank you all for your help.

~Silas
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
GG, two years ago I would have answered all of your bullet point questions with the unhealthy answers. Today, I would say I do know all of those things but I am still learning about them and they are still new skills for me that I have little experience strengthening yet.

Confidence is grown by doing. If these skills are relatively new, it's normal to feel a bit nervous about putting them into action. But you can learn to trust yourself to do it because... you feel nervous but do it anyway!

You can handle this. You are allowed to grow as a person -- and you have grown from wherever you were at before.

Could learn to talk to yourself (intrapersonal communication)more kindly more often to support that growth:

Here you "talk down" calling your stuff "bullshit" --

I intentionally didn't edit what I was writing very much because I wanted whatever bullshit was coming out to be responded to. I had a sense that there was something unhealthy with where I was coming from. I didn't want to try hiding it. I wanted to hear what it was.

Could stop calling you and your stuff "bullshit." Feel whatever it is you have to feel, and then let it go without evaluation. Not only is it not attractive to date someone who talks down to themselves, it's not healthy for you to be your own bully. The sentence works just fine without the down talk. See?

"I intentionally didn't edit what I was writing very much because I wanted whatever was coming out to be responded to. I had a sense that there was something unhealthy with where I was coming from. I didn't want to try hiding it. I wanted to hear what it was."

Here you accept yourself in a process of change and talk without evaluation of yourself or your stuff. Just stating where you are at. It is reasonable that a time of chance will take some patience and practice:

I guess I am still learning to trust that there are healthy forms of attachment and dependence. Still learning what that looks like. I am attempting to break all my old habits here and that may take some practice and patience.

Could be ok practicing and being patient with yourself without going into "judge myself" mode. Whatever inner critic you have? Could work to give it the boot if it isn't serving you well.

Here you start talking removed, but then come back IN to your own sentence. Blue mine.

I think when you (**I **) have trouble trusting yourself (myself), it can be difficult (for me) to believe that someone else does. And my fear of other's self-delusion (due to my own) makes me feel like they will just believe whatever they want anyway. Then I take that guilt on myself when it leads to a painful situation. Just being aware of this helps me to be mindful of it.

So good for you. You caught yourself doing that! Conciously or not -- I don't know. But I lift it up anyway to say kudos.

In the continuum of

selfish (tilted) <---> self-full (balanced) <---> selfless (tilted)​

to me it breaks out like this...

"Selfish" is one expecting others to meet one's needs only. Screw their needs. (Take that out to the max of unhealthy and it becomes "narcisissm.")

"Selfless" is one expecting to meet other people's needs. Screw one's own. (Take that to the max of unhealthy and it becomes "co-dependent" and the people involved lose their individuality. No strong sense of self and not meeting their own needs for themselves.)

Both of those sides of the see-saw are not balanced.

The balanced place to me is "self full" in the middle -- where one meets one's needs first, and then helps to meet other people's needs. Not as obligation but as a gift. (Like in an airplane emergency you put your own oxygen mask on first before trying to help others. You can't be of any use otherwise.)

Maybe you are seeking to build healthy "interdependence" rather than "codependence." Maybe seeking to build something else -- like an independent model. Open model relationships can come in many ways and it's all DIY for the people in them to create what they like best for themselves.

But you are right in that you have to know your own self first though. You can't articulate your wants, needs and limits to another person if you don't even know what they are.

Could do your side of that job and trust them to do their side -- to know themselves, and to articulate their wants, needs, and limits to you.

You cannot be a mind reader. It's ok to ask them where they stand -- but BELIEVE them when they tell you. You are either willing to risk believing them and build up new trust or not.

Unless they are in the habit of lying, and you've experienced that? Not believing people is a great way to never get trust building up off the ground. Trust them not to hurt you and trust you to handle whatever it is that may come. Even a break up doesn't have to be "automatic doom."

Galagirl
 
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Silas

New member
GalaGirl,

Are you a psychologist? You remind me of the therapist I saw for a few years. Your guidance is very helpful and kind.

As you point out, I do have a history of not being very nice to myself internally. It is something I am aware of and trying to work on but you point it out when I don't even know I am doing it. I guess I am still learning to be mindful of it. You are right, I don't want to talk down to myself. I think I am more prone to do it here on this forum though as I feel like I am a novice at what people here are experienced at. Makes me nervous that I don't get it yet. It feels a little like asking the adults for help. :)

Both my sister and I have realized lately that our childhood taught us to criticize ourselves a lot. It taught us a constant fear of never being enough. I have made great progress on it and I think most people would tell you that I am a positive and fairly confident person. It is my inner dialogues that still need work. I can get away with more there.

You made me realize also that sometimes I use a removed perspective when I am talking about something I am nervous might be wrong. I generalize it to the collective "you" to make it everyone's problem. I realize also that this makes it feel like something that cannot be overcome because it is so universal. Perhaps it is just more talk where I am not owning my individual experience or being open to the possibility of changing it.

You said "Blue mine." What does that mean?

I have definitely come from the overly selfless side of the see-saw. My whole family is this way. I was always focused on other people's happiness and needs to the negligence of my own. Particularly in my relationships. My therapist pointed this out too. It became a neurotic state where I was always asking what was wrong with my partner and not really trusting them to communicate what was necessary to me. It is so stressful for me to always worry about other people's feelings and to feel completely responsible for them and to never trust them to take care of themselves. In a way, I believe this caused one of my partners (4 years) to never learn to take care of herself. She just kind of expected me to do it. It is truly amazing how much your relationship with yourself affects the relationships you have with others.

A big and unexpected breakup can really put a lot of fear in you. I am still seeing all the ways it affects my choices. And it is precisely my fear of returning to that way of life that has made trusting difficult for me now. I don't want to lose myself again. But I do know what I want now. I want to trust. Myself and others. I know it will take practice but I feel okay with earning it.

I can't tell you how clarifying these conversations have been for me. I feel like a good friend stepped in and helped me see how I am hurting myself. Even as I write this I realize how mindful I have been of not using negative self talk. (I have used the backspace key a bit.) Thank you again, GG. It is humbling to me that a stranger would take the time and energy you have to help someone they don't even know. It inspires me. I hope all is well in your life.

~Silas
 

SchrodingersCat

Active member
And of course, it isn't as easy as simply choosing somewhere to move. I am broke and without a job. This is alright for the moment but will not be in two months when the house-sitting gigs are over. It takes money to move and get established somewhere. And the only job being offered to me now is back at the farm.

I have a friend who spends most of the summer with a backpack, hitching across the country. In the winter, he works like a dog and spends next to nothing. You might consider working somewhere like the oil patch for a couple/few months. Gets you away from relationships for a while to focus on yourself, and you can bank the crap out of your cheques because expenses are often covered (if you get in with one of the work camps).

You said "Blue mine." What does that mean?

That's where she put her own words in your quote. You were speaking in the second person, but she changed it to be the first person, because these were thoughts specifically about you and and not some "universal you" that applies to everyone. It's a way of taking ownership for thought patterns that may not contribute towards reaching your goals.
 

bookbug

New member
This is a little off the beaten path of this post, but what I hear in your words, Silas, is a terrible sense of responsibility that you make everything right for everyone. (And perhaps I recognize it in you because I recognize it in myself.). When we do this - making everything right for everyone - this becomes our definition of success or failure. We tie ourselves to a particular outcome for which we do not have complete control. It's a VERY anxiety-provoking state.

I am working to change my definition of success / failure. My new definition is not tied to a particular outcome, but to behavior. Have I behaved ethically, honestly, and with a good heart? My behavior is the only thing for which I have total control, so it is the only thing upon which to base the idea of success or failure.

Does that mean I still don't hope for certain outcomes? Absolutely not. But it does mean that I recognize the limits of what I can do. So yes, I still may be disappointed if outcomes don't fall like I hope, but I don't have the burden of being responsible for things I can't control. Other people are free agents and have a right to think, feel, and behave as they choose.

Additionally, it makes it far easier to treat my partner with respect and grace, to understand that he is a separate person responsible for his own feelings and behavior.
 

Silas

New member
bookbug,
You have reminded me of a very important truth about myself. It is something I have only begun to recognize in the past couple years. When I did, I posed it as valuing "Intentions vs. Expectations." I suffer from an overactive sense of failure, as many do, and I got tired of feeling defeated and guilty when I wasn't able to orchestrate everything as I thought it should go. And especially when I felt I had been trying my hardest! In the end, I realized that most of the factors were really and truly out of my control. Especially the behavior and feelings of others. It felt unfair to keep beating myself up.

As I have said before, this is my entire family's MO to the extreme. I live in the Midwest where people often put their own needs far below that of others and live out a sort of neurotic/passive-aggresive mind state. In the end, it becomes unclear what to own and what is others' to own. Last Thanksgiving I visited my sister and Mother and actually had to sit down and have a talk with them about trusting me when I say that I am okay and to not always be on edge wondering if they are being the perfect host and anticipating/predicting my every desire.

So, it is definitely something I am aware of. However, it is also a very long history of conditioning that I am trying to change and it is ever so easy, even after you have realized something new, to forget you know it and fall back into the very habits that you seek to change. It really is all about mindfulness and I supposed it will take some time to develop that and see all the places in my life that it manifests. Thank you for pointing it out to me anew. It is a critical thing to remember.

My favorite quote about this lesson:

"If I lose my direction, I have to look for the North Star, and I go to the north. That does not mean I expect to arrive at the North Star. I just want to go in that direction."

~Tich Naht Hanh
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
Silas:

You are most welcome.

Support boards are for support. I try to do it -- some days I do it better than others, but I appreciate you taking it in the spirit intended and the thanks.

Nope. Not a psychologist. But I do eldercare and I hang out there in mental health land a'plenty! :p

But you hang in there with your thing. You can do this!

GL!
Galagirl
 

bookbug

New member
bookbug,
You have reminded me of a very important truth about myself. It is something I have only begun to recognize in the past couple years. When I did, I posed it as valuing "Intentions vs. Expectations." I suffer from an overactive sense of failure, as many do, and I got tired of feeling defeated and guilty when I wasn't able to orchestrate everything as I thought it should go. And especially when I felt I had been trying my hardest! In the end, I realized that most of the factors were really and truly out of my control. Especially the behavior and feelings of others. It felt unfair to keep beating myself up.

As I have said before, this is my entire family's MO to the extreme. I live in the Midwest where people often put their own needs far below that of others and live out a sort of neurotic/passive-aggresive mind state. In the end, it becomes unclear what to own and what is others' to own. Last Thanksgiving I visited my sister and Mother and actually had to sit down and have a talk with them about trusting me when I say that I am okay and to not always be on edge wondering if they are being the perfect host and anticipating/predicting my every desire.

So, it is definitely something I am aware of. However, it is also a very long history of conditioning that I am trying to change and it is ever so easy, even after you have realized something new, to forget you know it and fall back into the very habits that you seek to change. It really is all about mindfulness and I supposed it will take some time to develop that and see all the places in my life that it manifests. Thank you for pointing it out to me anew. It is a critical thing to remember.

My favorite quote about this lesson:

"If I lose my direction, I have to look for the North Star, and I go to the north. That does not mean I expect to arrive at the North Star. I just want to go in that direction."

~Tich Naht Hanh

Knowing something logically and knowing it emotionally are two different things. Just as with any skill, you have to practice. As you said be mindful of when you have fallen into old habits. I am still practicing, but am getting more proficient over time. You will too.
 
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