worldmegan           ~


Today I had a totally unexpected (but really interesting) conversation with one of my cousins. We were talking about religion and spirituality, which is not something I would normally just bring up out of nowhere—but this time it had been on my mind, and all of a sudden we were discussing it.

Has that ever happened to you?

I have been feeling unhappy about the level of closeness and communication (or lack thereof) that I have with my family, my blood kin. My father and I have conversations, and I have them here and there with my mom and sister. But for the most part, I don’t really get to communicate seriously with family members. I barely know my cousins, aunts, uncles. We see each other at family functions less since I’ve moved, but the things we talk about are still all small talk. What have you been up to lately? Nothing much, just the usual, school, work, etc. Repeated till the cows come home, man.

Some of my friends in Austin are really close to their families. In some cases, family members are their best friends in the whole world—they talk about everything. Blood is not their only connection.

Man, have I been jealous.

But today it became really clear to me that the only barrier to this thing is in me—is in my assumption that my family’s “not like that”. And whatever kind of creature or unit my family is, it is still made up of people. They may not all be people I get along with, or people who would agree with me in a drawn-out conversation, or, hell! even people who are capable of processing the sort of things I like to talk about. But that’s sure as shit no reason not to try. How am I ever going to know if I don’t look into it? Pbph. How indeed.

PS. I know I haven’t talked about “meligion” yet. But I will. I swear. If you’ll just be patient, and let it, ah, coalesce in my head… scout’s honor.

Because it’s TV night:

“Marriages don’t fail because couples get bored. They fail because while they’re dating people pretend to be the person they think their partner wants and then, well, there’s only so long you can keep that up.”

~ chick in a random episode of House, “Clueless”

Conflict –> Communication (2)

Meta-communication is something very dear to my heart these days. I’ve had so many acculturated behaviors and automatic responses so deeply ingrained that were it not for a handful of particularly awakening people and texts and incidents, I’d still be doing the same thing everyone else is doing. Communicating, not knowing how to communicate.

We act so quickly, we don’t think about what we’re doing. And we will fight it out without realizing that just a little bit of thought can change the entire course of our lives. It changes the way we think and the way we react to stress. We are capable of doing so much better if we just spend a little bit of thought on it. And spending thought on communication, communicating about communication, is, of course, meta-communication.

Meta-communication leads us to answers that tell us how to heal our communication ouchies, and avoid the messes we get ourselves into over and over and over again.

Memory can be pretty freaky. Apparently there’s a lot of scientific evidence that our memories are far worse than we would expect them to be, filling in the blanks, etc. We really expect our memories to be pretty accurate but it sounds like the more accurate we think our memory is, the less accurate it actually is—science says this. (Somewhere. I have no sources, but I trust the messengers.) It’s really interesting to me that our most vivid memories are likely our least dependable. That says something about the human imagination, doesn’t it? It also says something about Sunnydale Syndrome, which is what I’m calling the propensity to remember things the way you’d rather have experienced them…

As recently as yesterday, Marty reminded me that we get to pick. I go through little cycles where I’m suddenly afraid over a decision I may or may not make in the future. Is that not the most insane thing in the history of the world? I get to make that decision. I get to choose the outcome of the situation. And if you believe in a thought-formed universe, this point is even more dramatic. We don’t we trust our future selves? Don’t we think they’ll know what they’re doing?

More is under our control than we tend to expect.

Harry Potter and the Permission to Disappoint—isn’t that what it’s called? I’ll keep an eye out, I’m sure that’s it. I give you—and me!—the permission to not be perfect. I give us the permission to want different things. Just because we’re standing in the same room wanting connection doesn’t mean we have this perfect, magical synthesis, suddenly the same. I give us permission to be different people, or whole different worlds. And man oh man, I give myself permission to disappoint others. Because sometimes, they’re just going to have to sit down and take it.

You can tell by the brevity of the second half that I’m getting sleepy. But this material is too important to me to just let go. It’s already done awesome things to my brain and it’s still going. We’re going to the next workshop on Saturday, May 26th—this coming Saturday. You can read all about it on the Usual Error’s event page. It’s going to be excellent, and it’s going to make me some kind of fabulous Saturday!

Which reminds me, why aren’t more of you on Upcoming? Got somewhere better to be? Friend me!

Conflict –> Communication (1)

Today we peruse my notes on Turning Conflict Into Communication, and the (slightly) disorganized thoughts that stem therefrom.

There has been much discussion, of late, about HALT. I think acronyms are usually cheesy, but the concept is very sensible. Consider pausing your communication attempts if you are Hungry, Angry, Loopy, or Tired. The L was changed—I won’t say by whom—because the traditional “lonely” is a great reason to communicate, and we have all seen the aftereffects of loopy communication. Almost pointless. Have you tried to have a productive conversation with your boyfriend in pain from pending root canal? Or on Darvoset? Not happening.

Some conversations are really unditchable—but you can find a good pause point if you focus, and then you have time to regroup. I often add circumstances and stop a conversation if one or more participants is too uncertain of how they actually feel to continue productively. (Often that person is me, and I feel strongly that I should know myself before diving into problem-solving situations that affect other people!) But I don’t do this all the time, because it’s obvious to me now that sometimes confusing conversations can turn into clear conversations really fast.

Wow, do I have a problem remembering this one. We’re all on the same team. I don’t know why I forget this so quickly. I’m not some kind of relationship mercenary, battling for the higher ground, or the higher pay. And although it’s very cultural—talking to friends who are getting involved with new people, and want the “upper hand”, get me angry—I never feel that my issue is cultural. I mean, it could be. Hell, it probably is. What isn’t cultural? But I’m growing and learning and I’m still programmed. That feels like… a missing link.

The reason the “upper hand” conversation makes me angry is because when we walk into a situation wanting the upper hand, we’re setting ourselves up to feel like victims if we don’t get it. Not that having the upper hand actually consists of more than feeling like you have the upper hand—but still.

When you spar with that new boy, you’re setting yourself up for a lot of intentional non-communication. And wow, the badness that can ensue. We want them to read our minds, and then we play passive-aggressive games when they don’t. And don’t you think for a minute that I’m limiting my irritability on this subject to women. When I think of old relationships, old behaviors, old reactions—not just in others but in myself—blech.

Of course, being on the same team isn’t just about working together instead of against one another. But it was on my mind. That happens.

Involve yourself with people you can talk to honestly. People who not only have your interests at heart, but people you can believe have your best interests at heart. People you can trust to be on your team, instead of people who will mindlessly enact the traditional enemy role. I keep thinking of gender battles, games on the radio. And then I think of same sex relationships, and how it can all play out just the same way. Who trained us to use these things? Did they have any idea what they were doing?

Communication and terminology. Wow, this is a theme today. Many a difficulty is based on a standard of misunderstood definitions. I thought this thing had been ironed out, but it wasn’t ironed out in a way that both parties actually understood in the same way—so it turned into a whole new thing, that thing, another thing to be ironed out. We say something that has meaning to us and so often, to someone else, it has a meaning so dramatically different that if we really outlined the scope of it, if we all sat down and wrote our personal idiolectical dictionaries (yeah, I made that up), we wouldn’t believe it. We wouldn’t believe how different people can be whole different worlds.

So, we can realize this. We can remember it and respond calmly and rationally, collectedly, when misunderstandings occur. We can try to clarify as needed. We can calibrate our terminology to try to grasp, clearly, what another person means when they say “apple juice” or “bananasquid”. You can specifically decide how to deal with the difference in terminology, decide how you want to tone the relationship words and degree words, emotional things, non-concrete concepts. We want options when one of us thinks purple means yellow.

Imminently appropriate to the next topic, Intent, is a book I’m reading right now— That’s Not What I Meant!, which Vixen lent me. I’m having a hard time getting through it and I’m not sure exactly why. I want to read it. It’s material that really interests me. Could it be her writing style? Could it be that my attention is elsewhere lately? Intent is important. (At least, I think intent is important.) We jump to conclusions and fill in the blanks with our own experience until the thing we’re assuming we have in front of us isn’t that thing at all. Happens all the time. Finding out what someone intends by that alarming statement they just made can help to avoid all kinds of unhappy encounters.

I am particularly fond of the scenario where Person A asks what Person B intended by that rotten thing she just said, and Person B pauses for a moment before saying, “Well, I was just being an ass!” Sometimes that happens, too. Seems easier to live up to it, doesn’t it? Especially since Person A and Person B are both people I like a lot, it’s really easy for me to see how admitting asshattery can move things forward. I admit asshattery on a regular basis, myself.

Ah, it’s that time again… that time where I end this post and make a new one, that time where we realize how many pages of notes Megan really has…