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Avoiding the Little Things in Life Landslide.

September 10, 2010

It’s so interesting to me, how people come together – and how things seem so solid, and yet, are revealed as so vulnerable.

You know, we’re all vulnerable. We’re all insecure. I think the difference between us is being able to admit that, acknowledge that, recognize that, and…well, not being able to.

Sometimes things seem so sturdy, so easy… like you know exactly how things are. And yet…

One minor thing can trigger a landslide.

The thing is this: When things are just beginning, trust is fragile. It just is. You don’t know this other person, they don’t know you. Period. It may feel like you can trust them… but you can’t. Not yet. Learning to trust, being able to trust, takes time (and not a set amount either – with some people it can happen rather quickly, others you’ll never be able to – you just have to accept that).

So. One little thing can set off the oh shit radar. One little thing is all it takes to remind you… you don’t know this person… all that well… just yet.

This is especially true in things that seem pretty freakin’ awesome. It’s the things that feel fucking amazing that magnify those little things – simply because it feels so good most of the time, one little moment is, relatively, more pronounced.

This is going to happen. They just are. Because these little things? Are just life.

People get stressed out. People have moments. People get into bad/irritable/sad moods sometimes. People say the “wrong” thing, do the “wrong” thing, act the “wrong” way. It’s gonna happen. And, especially in the ohmygodthisisawesome things, it’s gonna be really obvious – when it happens before the trust is established. Before you know that person. Before you can recognize the stress, the moment, the mood.

The thing is, I think, because they feel all weird and not ohmygodawesome (because they’re not that awesome)… they automatically hit up our vulnerabilities and insecurities.

You know, the ones you could ignore when things were all ohmygodawesome.

The result? Some people bolt. They just do. It’s too much for them, their insecurity takes over, and they’re gone. End of story.

The key is to try not to go running after them. Instead, I’d recommend a polite conversation that begins with “what the fuck are you running from???” or… something along those lines. If they can’t be honest with you? That’s a great litmus test for how much they’re in touch with their own insecurities/vulnerabilities… as well as how much you can actually trust them.

But – if you’re someone who fancies themselves in touch with their emotions, and can admit your own insecurities, you should attempt to determine when your insecurities are hitting the  fight-or-rather-flight switch. At that point, take a deep breath, a step back… and instead of pulling away, instead of letting your insecurity define things, instead of deciding something is really wrong… take a rational look at it.

(It’s like, as Amy put it, there’s a fourth brain – Crazy Brain. Girl Brain is still all a-twitter, Vagina Brain is wondering when sex is happening again, and – wait a second – who’s this fourth fucking brain in here? And why are your running around like Chicken Little?? Someone needs a bitchslap from Rational Brain)

It’s when you both can recognize those little things, those little not-so-awesome moments in life, for what they are – little things – and continue on with the ohmygodthisisawesome that you start to actually get to know someone. To build trust up from something fragile.

AND also learn that things are not always going to be OMGawesome. That is not sustainable. The quicker you learn that, accept it, and recognize real life, the better off (and more in touch with reality) you’ll be.

And that is how the beginning of things… can, slowly, in time… become the continuation of things… and not, instead, an end.

Just remember: you have to BOTH be able to do this. You can’t do it on your own. Don’t go running after.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. September 11, 2010 7:44 am

    So true. You have to be in it together. I’d rather be alone than be lonely with someone.

    • September 12, 2010 11:13 am

      Amen, sister.

  2. Sarah permalink
    September 11, 2010 9:13 am

    Well, for some the insecurity may be greater than for others. The fight or flight switch is hit more often. Some even have it on at the least event. It goes with mistrusting almost anybody. That’s not comfortable. I totally agree with you: there is a need for the rational brain to be involved. The reason for the insecure feeling must come to the conscience. Then we can realize that we reacted to the recollection of an event, not to the here and now. I even found that the more you made this thought process happen, the weaker the emotional power of the recollection became.
    Talking about the fight or flight response, I found that there was a third part to it: the freeze response. I remember countless times when I was with a person I really wanted a relationship with, and that person wanted it too, and then I froze as a short term response. And I mean I really froze, as in not moving, not talking, as in trying to become a part of the environment or dig a hole in the ground to bury myself in. This led to great misunderstandings, as you may imagine. I only could have relationships where there was no emotion involved. The fact is that when you learn at age six that sex means harm, and love, betrayal, and repress all emotions to forget it, you only can have sex later without involving yourself emotionally. And that takes all the fun. Even if you have a lot of sex. I can tell you.
    Two weeks ago, a feeling in my gut made me understand that I had better to open the box and to overcome that last painful event. Which I did, for that so incredibly precious feeling’s sake. It took those last two weeks (I prepared myself to this for years, though), alone, everyday actively remembering it and parting it from other past experiences and from the present. This process ended yesterday night, while I was reading your previous post (…and in the beginning…) once again. Yesterday my emotions came back in an indescribable tsunami.
    Retrospectively, it was not the little things of life that I found scary, it was the ohmygoditsawesome thing you’re talking about. I was disabled. On this site, Shakesville, a custom is to put “trigger warnings” at the beginning of some posts or comments. I agree with you, some things can trigger landslides. It seems that usual reactions are trying at all costs to prevent the landslide (flight?) or building the old thing again. I discovered that instead of trying to prevent it, I was better off letting it go completely (even if it changed who I was), and instead of trying to reconstruct what was before the landslide, I could learn to live in the new landscape, and build new things. Well, although that’s true for me, it’s much harder for some to do that.
    Nobody could have done it except myself. Some have tried to run after me, but I was as fast as a roadrunner. And if someone dared to ask me in the past what the fuck I was running from, I just closed my shell or ran faster, farther.

    I can cope with emotions from the past now, for beautiful things have to continue…

  3. September 12, 2010 12:31 pm

    YES! We have wanted for FOREVER to hear from the people that bailed on us for what seemed no apparent reason! We KNEW that it couldn’t be anything (logical) that we did, but something that had to with them… but at the same time, it’s so hard for us to blame someone else! We are quick, even if we don’t admit it, to blame ourselves.

    It’s SO nice to have you here, Sarah, telling us the other side. The fearful side, the non-emotional side – from your past. It does let me breathe a sigh of relief – that it sometimes IS the other person, afraid of feeling – or incapable of it.

    But what to do? I suppose the most important thing to learn is, if the person who is unemotional/afraid is not willing or able to look at themselves and want to make some painful changes, I don’t think you can make that for them. Hanging around, “waiting” for them, hoping they’ll learn… if you are awesome enough, funny enough, sexy enough – then they’ll go through that process… I don’t think that works. I think people have to do it for themselves, as you did. SO if you’re on the other side – you need to let that person go so they can complete their own journey, and not bang your head (and heart) against the wall, trying to do emotional work for them.

    What do you think?

  4. Sarah permalink
    September 12, 2010 4:32 pm

    First, I think about two reasons for people to be afraid of showing what they feel. It can be because it doesn’t go well with the image someone has of her/himself, or because it can give a indication of a weakness that may be exploited. Both have the same origin, ie a traumatic experience, though the former may be much more indirectly related to that experience and less conscious. I consider here the term traumatic also applies to trivial things. I think the stronger the experience is, the more the ‘being afraid of feeling’ becomes a ‘being incapable of feeling’, and the more the change is painful.
    I agree with you, it seems impossible to make people change. If it is forced, people reinforce their protections or flee, and if it is done in a manipulative way, then that creates a bias in the relationship. The first therapeutic act in a psychotherapy is to decide to undertake it. It is also a sine qua non condition for the therapy to be successful. There seems to be a possibility, though, that if you know the reason for that insecurity, you may reassure the other quickly on the fact that a relationship with you does not involve the menace that is feared. It is to me the only way to stay sincere while helping the other to change. I think it is effective. That is, if an insecurity in someone doesn’t trigger one in the other person…
    Anyway, I think, like you, that the reasons for beginning relationships to hang are multiple and sequential. It seems that the ohmygoditsawesome state has the effect of an anaesthesia on the feelings of insecurity. When a little thing of life comes and brings to the mind something that is a trigger to a denied or repressed insecurity, the person unconsciously hits the fight or flight switch, and flees (or freezes, which is a way of fleeing). Well, when it is the fear of admitting a feeling of love, well-being, etc, then you have almost a 100%.
    An idea came, to me: for some, marriage seem to be a secure position to reach before the ohmygoditsawesome effect ends. What a strange way to conceive a relationship…
    When i think about it, I’m struck at how cluttered my mind felt at the beginning of adolescence, with all the familial insecurities I inherited. And it’s the same for lots of people. I think that’s how a society as a whole becomes adult. It’s when more and more people learn to cope with what they inherited. I took it some time ago as a personal responsibility to learn to cope with emotions. That’s a beautiful way to make the world a much more comfortable place to live.

    • September 14, 2010 3:58 pm

      Yes – I agree you can help someone with their insecurity by being patient and encouraging. However, I think they have to acknowledge that they’re insecure in the first place, in order to hear you. If not, they can just as easily see your patience and understanding as some sort of threat – e.g. “whaddaya mean I’m insecure?? I’ll show you insecure!” ya know? And, they can just as easily flee/freeze from kindness. Weird how that happens.

      I think there’s a fine line. And you just can’t take that shit on yourself all the time.

      OMGawesome as anesthesia… totally!

  5. September 12, 2010 11:38 pm

    Oh yeah, it’s hard not to take rejection personally, to take it as a value judgement about yourself. And sometimes it might be, sometimes maybe you fucked it up, but so much more often it’s something that that person is carrying. I think the best antidote is probably the golden rule as it were, to make sure you aren’t being the asshole, to be really mindful and conscious of how you are treating someone, so that if they pull away, you don’t have guilt digging at you, making you wonder. It’s not always easy, hell, failure is probably inevitable, but at least we can try to get to a place where we can hear “well, you were an ass to me” without getting super defensive, and where we can say it without having to put that person in the “just a bad person” box, either.

    • Sarah permalink
      September 13, 2010 4:48 pm

      I agree with you, though the fear of being rejected may be an insecurity in itself, and sometimes a little patience may help a lot.
      When we take the rejection personally, may be it’s a little too fast. Maybe it’s because we need an explanation, because it’s too confusing, and we find one according to who we believe we are, which is our standard for assessing the world.
      I’m know there are situations where something triggers that fear in one person, and as a chain reaction, the other gets triggered too, and they both feel rejected as though there’s no reason for it.
      As Pepper and you, I agree, Nikki, to have a conversation is then the thing to do in any case. Meet and talk. That’s how we can do it. Courage is to be scared of the unknown and move toward it anyway. The unknown here is just another person we first found nice and interesting.

      • September 14, 2010 4:00 pm

        Exactly. I think Pepper said it well before too – you need to be clear about who you are and where your boundaries are. You can be supportive, etc, but you should be able to talk about things, too. Period.


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