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So, I asked the person that I’ve been seeing his opinion about my new work (such as it is). And he declined to provide it. Now, you must understand that we talk about everything. His refusal to share his opinion with me automatically implies that it’s not positive. He’s my best coach in a lot of things, including my attempts at writing. I’ve always thought he supported what I’m doing. And he says he does – he says he is totally supportive of me. But what he’s not saying is that there’s something he doesn’t approve of. He says his opinion doesn’t matter — that it’s my life. It IS my life. Everything he’s saying is 100% correct.
So why does this bother me so much?
In Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, when Robinson had a dilemma, he used to tally up the Pros and Cons in the sand. (I haven’t read the book in years, if ever, but I can’t imagine what sort of dilemmas he had on a deserted island – perhaps whether to name Friday Saturday or Sunday?)
Following is a similar exercise, comparing my perceptions of reality (the Pros) with the Headtwisters, otherwise known as Blurts or Cons – those thoughts that we sometimes-insecure people have that just seem to be in your head to mess with you, not for any other reason.
Pro/Reality: I don’t need anyone’s approval but my own.
Con/Headtwister: If he doesn’t approve of what or how I do things, we will have no future together – this thing, this unspoken disapproval is the beginning of a pattern that will make us fall apart.
Pro/Reality: He is supportive of me.
Con/Headtwister: It’s an illusion – how can you be supportive of someone (or something) you disapprove of?
Pro/Reality: I’ve always had a strong work ethic.
Con/Headtwister: I’m not working as hard now, and I think he thinks less of me for it. He’s still working as hard as ever and that work ethic is something we’ve had in common.
Pro/Reality: He says he doesn’t want this to impact our relationship, because in his mind, it doesn’t.
Con/Headtwister: I don’t believe that it won’t impact our relationship.
Pro/Reality: I asked him. I want to know. Why won’t he tell me? Is it that awful?
Con/Headtwister: Why am I making this a problem? If I hadn’t asked, it never would have come up.
Pro/Reality: It doesn’t matter what he thinks. No, yes, it does, because we are in a relationship and what impacts one of us impacts the other. He says if it made a difference in our future, he would tell me.
Con/Headtwister: I need his approval. I always need the approval of someone I’m with. (Wait, no I don’t. I’m a grown up – he takes me as I am. That’s what he gets to do. I don’t have to change to get his approval unless I feel that the change is right for me.)
Pro/Reality: I am my own woman. That is one of the reasons he likes me.
Con/Headtwister: He’s hiding something from me. He doesn’t think as much of me as he says he does.
He’s done nothing wrong. He’s only opting not to be critical. He’s really doing something right. Isn’t he? So why am I being such an obsessive little basket case about it?
UGH. THAT exercise didn’t make me feel any better.
Today’s guest poet – William Carlos Williams
faintly ironical smile
summer morning, -
wanderer’s smile, -
if I should
buy a shirt
your color and
put on a necktie
where would they carry me?