Sunday, May 1, 2016
Mile Marker 17: The Makeover Continues
Sometimes I wonder why anybody needs to read about a woman messing around in the guts of her life. Is that my insecurity showing? I know I like to read what's under the hood of women's lives. Especially stories of widows making it up as they go along, where there isn't ever going to be another partner that slips into the 'beloved' spot. Some make the transition look easy. THAT's a fantasy. No two stories are alike.
So here I am at Mile Marker 17, 17 weeks into an intensive overhaul that began the first of the year. And what we have this month, is the emergence of the Socially Sensitive Heart. Good Lord, the Self-Help industry is humming in my town, with my three office visits per week. And the books. Amazon is humming. So two weeks ago I added two to three bicycling excursions a week. Help! Whether I master the social challenges of these depends. It's about time I started writing about my excursions, because your feedback would really help. I've a girlfriend I call almost every day; we give each other the play by play. My counselors are thrilled with me, that my solitary little life raft is splintering. But hey, I may crawl back under my rock unless I learn some social skills quick.
Honestly I'm only into this socializing 3 weeks. And already I'm up to Lesson #2.
Social Lesson #1: Look for emotional reciprocity in potential friends.
Friendship requires putting yourself out there. Harriet Fraad uses the term emotional labor, which resonates with me. "Emotional labor is the expenditure of time, effort, and energy utilizing brain and muscle [heart] to understand and fulfill emotional needs. By emotional needs, I mean the human needs for feeling wanted, appreciated, loved and cared for." And, obviously, it has to be reciprocal emotional labor. She continues: "Emotional labor differs from physical labor, by aiming to produce the specific feelings of being wanted, appreciated, loved, and/or cared for [in the other]." Article, 2008, "Toiling in the Field of Emotion".
THAT opened my eyes. I've always been an emotional toiler by nature, a good thing. But I used to do the work of two. Heck. That's what I was trained to do. Neither parent was capable of emotionally toiling for each other, let alone their kids. So we kids toiled emotionally for our parents, so THEY'd feel better. Some children grow up to play this energizer bunny role in their marriages. All of it springs from a child's healing fantasy: Enough sensitivity and support on my part will surely awaken sensitivity and support on his/her part. Hah!
Social Lesson #1: Look for emotional reciprocity in potential friends. Got this one - 100%
Social Lesson #2: Boundary Setting. Um...Is this the lesson where you pick someone YOU like to be with, who likes you also? Is it where you UN pick someone when necessary? Or where you pick the terms you will abide by, letting the other know?
Two weeks ago I captured someone's interest. It felt comfortable, fun. Lesson #1 in action. We went cycling on our own. Nice man. Practiced the 'required' conversational reciprocity. Married, so that ensures we'll be pals only. He leads rides regularly, so he knows the routes with fewer hills. Great for me, who isn't in top shape yet. After our ride, he invites me on a day trip this Thursday, to a town on the Hudson River full of antique shops and splendid views. O.K....Fine; he's married and his wife works. So he has time and she doesn't. He'll make a great pal. He's clearly a family guy; showed me photos of his kids. Then, after another group ride and lunch - he texts and offers a casual dinner invitation. Whenever I have time, of course. Of course....??? I ignore the invitation. What is a married man doing asking a single woman out for dinner?
What do I do? Have that awkward conversation? Back out of this Thursday's day trip?
Social Lesson #2: Learning....
There are so many moving parts in making new friends!!!