Archive for the 'ambivalence' Category

Bittersweet

September 5, 2012

I like many bittersweet songs, but a tension between outer and inner lives not so much.  What I mean is this: it may be interesting, convenient, or exciting to live one life on the outside and another one on the inside.  We have a pantheon of superhero characters who do just that in a way, transforming into their inner selves when duty calls.

But it’s a real drag to interrelate to someone else’s unintegrated emotional self.  In fact, other people’s emotional ambivalence I find damaging to me.  I don’t know which truth to go with, and, as someone who I think is more integrated, I don’t have a corresponding split of selves to use to relate back to this bifurcation of self in the other person.

Why I end up with such people in my life isn’t clear to me.  Its repetition implies to me that I haven’t learned some lesson, figured out how to respond in a way that serves — the pattern wouldn’t keep repeating if I had.

What I do in such a situation is to start by describing what seems to be going on and what seems to be my reaction to it, what feelings it engenders.  Frustration, disappointment, annoyance, hurt.  That recognition helps me move onto a different sort of awareness:  the person may actually be unable to integrate their inner and outer selves the way I at least think I do and apparently want them to (and am probably waiting for them to).  Doesn’t really matter why they don’t, the issue is, what do I do with the fact that they aren’t?  If I accept that that is a thing I cannot change, what is my response?  Probably some amount of distance or detachment, whether self-consciously developed or a natural by-product of the observation that this other person is presenting in this way — I move from participant to observer when I encounter this disconnect in the relationship.  That makes intimacy more difficult.

Maybe that’s the lesson: if I see things as they are, I respond in a way that is more helpful to my greater good, regardless of what my ego could engage in on its own if it didn’t bow to being integrated within my greater self as a whole.