Finding Something Useful To Do
Today was mildly weird. Some of it was simply talking with Geoff on-line again, and facing up to some of the things that I hadn't wanted to face before and trying to be constructive about it. Some of it was the fallout from my mostly ignoring him for the busy weekend, some of it was other stuff. We did manage something real by the end of the conversation that enabled both of us to do something useful and did result in my being less reactive and him being free to expound clearly on what he felt and thought. I was really worried when he started telling me that my request, to start, was basically telling him to shut up and not say what he felt, which wasn't what I meant at all, but getting around to a clear example of the wording that I found myself reacting to helped a lot. I'll readily admit that I wasn't particularly clear to start.
It surprised me, mildly, just what a huge difference putting 'I think' in front of a statement that could be a generality made for me. The difference between "peaches taste funny" and "I think peaches taste funny" is huge for me. One is a generality that I can argue against immediately because of not knowing if the subject of the phrase is actually myself or not, and the other is simply a personal experience that I'm never going to argue with, ever. And the difference of the single additional phrase was oddly powerful for me.
So we might have figured out the root of why I react so badly to some of Geoff's statements. Things he meant as personal statements of belief or opinion or experience were coming across to me as generalities to be applied to everyone because of the phrasing. Which becomes a thing that both of us can address in our own ways. He can add the simple phrase that disarms my reactions, and I can ask when I hear a generality if he meant it as a personal opinion only. Which is a hell of a lot better than fighting.
It's interesting in talking with Cera and John to find that they thought the differences were obvious between the two phrasings. Saying the 'I' gets rid of the ambiguous subject of the sentence and it's a very clear ownership of the opinion, rather than subjecting everyone to agreeing or disagreeing with it. 'I statements' seem to make things far less antagonistic and they had seen the power of the difference of using or not using them before.
Cera had the coolest quote about that it one tries to discount another person's experiences or feelings by calling them insane that it is a complete failure of argument. I knew some people that like calling others insane or psychologically ill simply because those others didn't agree with them, and the quote really crystalized my feelings about that kind of approach. Geoff is very straightforward about what he finds wrong, but he never resorts to things like that.
So despite really needing to work like a mad-woman today, I spent the first two thirds of the day working it all through to a constructive end instead of something destructive, which was stressful but good. Geoff sacrificed just as much from what he needed to do, and was willing to work it all the way through along with a few other things that had rubbed him wrong during the weekend. It's good to communicate, and I really did make the mistake of not being able to during the weekend. It was good to end the time with some positive stuff and a clear example of how the new phrasing didn't trigger my defenses and argumentative sides as Geoff did try it out and I was surprised and grateful that it worked as well as it did.
I don't really know what's going to happen, all in all. I'm not sure that now is the time to decide, but Geoff offered a time-out for me while I'm dealing with work, the pregnancy, and the baby and then we'd figure out, after, whether we wanted to pick things up again or not. But it's still in the air, and I might take the no-pressure offer and be good friends with him while it's 'out'. I care a lot about him.
I spent the last third of the day floundering a little. Just too tired from all the other effort to get anything organized in my head, but thankful that the other had worked out.
John got me home, made me a spaghetti dinner and I vegged in front of the TV for a while before sitting down at the computer and writing up this and a past entry.