Monday, February 25, 2019

My Least Favorite Words

Since 2018 was a trans-formative year with plenty of patience testing events and accompanying therapy I have tried to get more in touch with the emotions I feel. My amazing therapist described "typical" male emotions to me as follows:
  • Things are ok. I am not hungry, angry, and things are generally going my way. 
  • I am angry. Things are not ok and until I get them under control I am going to be pissed off.
  • I want to breed. This is all about caveman lust and has to do with the physical act of love and nothing at all to do with hearts, flowers, and candy.
  • I love you. This is typically reserved for our mothers and our children. It is affectionate and can most likely relate to a sense of comfort or protectiveness. 
  • *Optional* I am depressed or sad. This is often when the anger has worn off but the bad situation has not resolved itself.
The good doctor explained this and I found myself thinking that his "typical man" had more modes of feeling than I typically express. For a number of years I pretty much have two modes: Sullen Brooding and Antisocially Pissed Off. I certainly wrote using other emotions. Still the emotions that anyone ever saw me express were one of the two. Habits are hard to break, and I must admit I enjoy the Sullen Brooding mood. It sort of makes me feel like what I imagine Conan the Barbarian would have felt like.
Since I have begun building on my mental health I try to mostly avoid Antisocially Pissed Off and I use Sullen Brooding sparingly. I find myself frequently in the realm of Content or Satiated. My favorite emotional place, the one I am typically in when I am writing, is Intellectually Playful. That emotional bandwidth is the one I use at work. It is all about being intensely concentrated and turning that into a sort of high level mental play that is infinitely satisfying to me. It is the polar opposite of Bored. Bored is to be avoided at all costs. I strongly suspect my personal Hell will be a lot like a never ending afternoon in a civil court room where there is nothing interesting going on and absolutely no acceptable way to distract yourself from it.
I have tried to start expressing my emotions in words that are not written vulnerably in my blog. It leads me to say things like," That hurt my feelings and made me feel a little insecure. Please don't do that again." I often want a long bath after that level of emotional honesty.
By the same token I am having to learn how to appreciate and accept compliments. There is nothing more uncomfortable than doing a truly fantastic job at work, being recognized for it, and then awkwardly fumbling out a thank you in response. I love giving compliments. Shoring up my self esteem made it a lot more graceful to accept them. I still feel embarrassed about them, but I cannot expect miracles overnight!
In all this change, it is odd how much I have come to hate the words,"I love you."  I feel love acutely. Occasionally, I feel it obtusely. (I really did just drop a geometry joke) I don't mind expressing love, but those three little words are starting to feel routine, boring, and very overused. The word trite comes to mind.
All too often what I hear when someone drops," I love you," is "Do you love me?" Now, that isn't a bad question to ask. I don't mind hearing it occasionally. It might even have me wondering if I am being emotionally distant. Imagine hearing it five to seven times a day.
"I love you," is not the answer to having a fight. It isn't the thing you should say to fill in an awkward silence in the conversation. It also is not the answer to breaking up. "Marge," says Homer,"I can no longer tolerate your lack of domestic grace or ability to carry on a decent conversation. I am leaving you."
"But I love you, Homer," replies Marge.
"Are we having the same conversation, Marge," inquires Homer," I have just informed you of my intent to dissolve our marriage and you expressed an unrelated emotion that in no way conveys your comprehension, acceptance, nor denial of my statement."
"I love you Homer,"repeats Marge.
To my knowledge ,"I love you," should not be used as any sort of argument or persuasion. When Romeo was attempting to seduce fair Juliet does he lamely state," I love you," and call it a day? Of course not! The Minstrel spends most of an Act of the play having Romeo pine for her (although much of this creepily relates to her refusing to have premarital sex). Modern men and women have fallen far from this mark in our persuasive and descriptive powers. There are so many more effective way of trying to get yourself laid.
For my part there is a much better way to proclaim your love. I prefer,"I really enjoyed your company today," or similar statements of value. I enjoy being told how much someone appreciated my time. I even enjoy sentiments about the quality of my performance. "I really enjoyed how warm you kept me while we were cuddled up watching that movie," is infinitely preferable to a generic and boring,"I love you."
Say it in a million ways, but don't waste time on the literal. It is too forward. It is dull. It lacks imagination. It is far too easy. Any love I am shown should come with thought and effort rather than routine! That gives it an obvious value.
Hmm. Does this make me a jerk? Is it arrogant of me to not want to settle for the mundane? Maybe a little bit.Truth be told, though, I am worthy of someone expressing love in a more meaningful way. I don't love half way. I don't see any reason to accept less.

As long as we are listening to my complaints, I am not a fan of," I miss you,"either.

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