Not feeling well today, a sore throat, I left the house for the first time after 5pm. Although I support the germ theory of disease to some extent, this one seems too coincidentally psychosomatic, at a time a loved one has decided not to let me express myself any further with him.
I couldn’t find the restaurant I wanted to go to so I ended up at the Tibetan restaurant I had never eaten at before. I hadn’t wanted to go in, having heard rumors of bad reviews, but thought I might as well investigate for myself. After waiting quite a long time to have my order placed (apparently I was the first customer of the evening), I found the eggplant chips (fries) were wonderful, and the vegetable soup was very bland and the chef had forgotten to add the roasted pumpkin seeds, which my waitress, who arrived after I did, went back to remedy.
After my okay meal, I went to leave, and noticed a spinning circular box on a table. There was a laminated card which explained that it was a mantra, beginning with OM, and that chanting, reading, or looking at a spinning mantra could relieve many troubles. The waitress suggested that whatever my faith, if I was sad or upset or angry, I could benefit from picturing my spiritual leader and using the mantra.
She was right, of course. And it was a nice reminder about keeping your internal peace.
It occurred to me that it is so difficult to sit with your own pain and not try to harm others to show them how much you are hurting by being passive aggressive or just plain aggressive.
After dinner I went to a tea house down the block, and heard these lyrics over the sound system, “Don’t think about all those things you fear, just be glad to be here.” Except I heard “feel” instead of “fear”, and it hit me harder: “Don’t think about all those things you feel, just be glad to be here.”
I don’t think it’s wise not to ever think about what you feel or what you fear. The body’s signals help us navigate away from what makes us shut down or feel dead toward what makes us feel alive.
But I feel I’m being reminded of subtle skills that my parents could not teach me, one who was aggressive and one who tended to be passive-aggressive to compensate (chicken or the egg?).
I’m meditating on the depths of what communication can and should be. Silence can be the *most* passive-aggressive form of manipulation and control, and god knows I’ve tried it and every other tool in my toolbox to try to get my way, though I tend to be more verbally aggressive than passive.
I think the lesson here is that heart-to-heart communication is the most difficult, time-consuming, and potentially rewarding journey that lovers can commit to. Imagine the ability to love not just with your bodies and your hearts, but also with the flow of your words and the spaces between your words, and the words you use about your lover when they are not around. That would be truly sublime and a real accomplishment.
“All really great lovers are articulate, and verbal seduction is the surest road to actual seduction.” Marya Mannes
So what prevents heart-to-heart communication?
I am reminded of something I asked my ex-boyfriend on our third date, in Miami. He told me he was divorced, and I asked him why, or rather, what did he think ended the relationship. And he told me “communication.”
“Lessons in life are repeated until learned.”
Ok…so if I’m still having relationship issues around communication, clearly the Universe is still trying to tell me something.
I think a failure to communicate comes down to trust:
Not trusting that one can get one’s needs met. This sabotages all communication, because if you start a conversation with that energy of being a victim of limited resources, the other person will sense it emotionally immediately and run from it instinctively in self-protection.
But we all have needs, and we have to have mutually beneficial relationships. I suppose it is important always to assume you are going to get your way, and start EVERY conversation with that confidence. That way you stand in your own power. It really does take courage and imagination to picture getting your way every time, especially when it feels like you’ve been shot down so much in the past, or that someone doesn’t want to listen to you.
I got a chance to practice this tonight on the way home from hiking barefoot up the Berkeley Hills to see the sunset. On the way back, three skateboarders ripped down the hill next to me. The first one came so close, so fast, he nearly touched my body and ran over my foot. My heart started racing. They stopped at the bottom of the hill, so I decided to call out to them: “Hey, you guys! Hey!”
Once I had their attention, I said, “I totally respect your right to skateboard around here, but your friend came waaay too close to me. I’m not wearing shoes and he almost ran over my foot.”
The friend came over. “You were way too close to me, man. Even if I had my flip flops on that could have really hurt me, it was really scary. I need like *this much* space.”
One of them said, “Well it’s really hard to control how close you come when you go that fast.”
I said, “Yeah, it is, that’s why it’s important.”
“Are you a law student here?”
Then one said to me, “Why aren’t you wearing shoes?”
I explained I don’t wear shoes very often, and that I go barefoot for my health, for stronger feet and legs. One of them offered me a fist bump for this.
Then one guy said, “Can I give you a compliment without you getting offended?”
“Compliments don’t offend me,” I offered.
“You have a nice chest.”
This was a rare compliment indeed. I should have advised him that complimenting a woman’s sexual parts right up front won’t get you that far in life, but I let that one go. “Thanks, that’s nice of you to say. See you guys later.”
“Be careful about stepping on rocks and stuff!”
“Thank you,” I smiled, walking away, happy that they might think twice next time before ripping down a hill so close to another person.
This was a small step for me toward better communication, and speaking up when something is not working for me. I definitely felt resistance to saying anything, but I’m glad I did. If not just for the flattery ;-) thanks Universe :-p. Small steps, and practice makes perfect.
Some great communication tips: How Can I Communicate Better?