Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Integrity and Dissidence

Integrity has become more and more important to me as I have been on a crash course with a lot of people. I used to be a bit of a "nice girl" and even to some extent a people pleaser. I always put up a smile and was therefore liked by most people. However, at the time that I became more connected to my denied emotions I also got involved in relationships that were not very good for me. Since I have my condition I do need adventure and stimulation but the right amount... impatience and pushiness only causes my heart to race and I get very wound up. Nowadays, after years of difficulties in relation to other people and life in general, I can say that I have almost no stress tolerance at all. I'm very sad to witness my own lack of fuse... So what I need to do is try and stay away from people who are choleric and impatient with me.

Now the trouble is... I have discovered that I'm quite stubborn and as my discernment has grown as a result of dealing with so many kinds of people I have become quite unsubmissive. This may well cost me friendships that could be of some use in my life. I try and cut the B.S. as soon as I can... At times I'm simply so overwhelmed by things that I react a bit too much and too fast - and so I scare some people away. This is really not who I used to be but the past few years have changed me. The sad thing is, that people will tolerate it as little as I tolerate other people's negative behaviour. Of course they cannot understand why I don't respect their wishes while I don't understand why they contact is based in something that looks like complete and utter selfishness to me. Don't get me wrong; I never yell and scream at people I don't know very well. That is reserved to very close relationships or situations were people are complete and utter assholes... it happened recently at the social security office. The point is that when you feel cornered and helpless you lash out in various degrees depending on the gravity of the situation. The relationship that contains some degree of dependency will nowadays do that to me because I've had enough of stupidity.

People who try and help will of course advice me not to react to the sorry ones who don't know better than to attack or pester me in some way. It is indeed very true that when you show no reaction, people have nothing to bounce off. This is however quite difficult when you have a pathologically low stress level and your exhaustion is a fact. I have realized to my horror that although it helps to narrate things that happen to me, I probably come across as judgmental. I say; let the ignorant ones blush. Show them a mirror! But the problem is, there's a time to stand up for your rights and there's a time to be passive. I have practiced a lot of passive response now for many months while I've been pondering all this. There have been many instances where I have decided to hold my tongue because I knew that speaking up would change nothing and only make me appear as immature. However, speaking up is also a way of drawing attention to you that can be the start up of change both in your own life as well as in the lives of others. These things need careful assesment.

One owes it to oneself to protect one's integrity because people are unfortunately often quite selfish and will use you if you don't. Frustration and anger can be fuel for new choices and constructive change. But too much of it will only exhaust you and make you look like an irrational fool. I wish that my writing will help people realize that they need to open up to others and connect, as well as be more understanding of those who suffer from various illnesses. The ill ones already have enough on their plate and don't need more... I am indeed a dissident and I think the world needs my and other dissident people's voice as much as ever. The world the way it is today is not okay!

I'm also painfully aware that I get nervous and irritated with people who seem narcissistic and shallow in their cry for the best and the fastest right here and now, and I don't always have the strength to dig out some compassion... And so I judge. As some people recently pointed out, there is no reason to blame another person for not following your expectations. It's rather ludicruous to think that they or you are wrong! Though people may yell at you while you're minding your own business and that is not a nice thing to do, ultimately it's about incompatibility. We simply cannot go around and feel angry about all those who don't understand us - they are way too many. Well... I admit that it's not easy but I try and brainwash myself to let go of any resentment of having been treated badly or any mistakes that I feel I have committed in relation to others. After all, I was not alone when it happened... if there had been a will there usually would have been a way...

Basically, however, I come in peace and hope to be treated the same. Being judgmental is part of our basic psychological make-up as human beings, and I don't think we can abolish it altogether. But we can try and remind ourselves to minimize the judgmental thoughts. Give the brain 2-3 weeks to adapt!

Artwork: "Emotions 3/8" ("A Peace Offering"), handmade collage on paper made by author, all rights reserved 2002

Some Definitions on Mysticism

I took part in a discussion about mysticism and threw in a few things out of my memory. It's been a while (ten years) so I need to read up a little and think some more, but for now, some of the things I brought out in answer to some questions.

For one thing, mysticism isn't a science but the study of mysticism is because it attempts to collect evidence, resort to empirical studies, define and categorize. It's thus as much a strand of science as psychology is. As for the experiences of mystical nature, yes they are basically either of a dualist or oneness nature, however "Oneness" is generally considered a more desirable AND higher state of consciousness on the ladder of consciousness expansion. Whether these are true or not is of course impossible to determine for sure as they can only be of a subjective nature but there are some contemporary writers who have done a good job in defining these things.

It may also be useful to think of mysticism as esoteric as opposed to exoteric. Esoteric is the practice of spirituality/religion that looks inwards for the answers and experiences, whereas exoteric is the opposite. Most traditional forms of relgion are of course exoteric as they rely a lot on a dualistic approach to some form of God or Gods and also rituals such as various forms of sacrifice. In short I don't see there is much one can argue about when it comes to mysticism!

This reminds me of the Taoist idea that you cannot speak of that which cannot be spoken of. As soon as you try, it no longer is the ineffable. The whole point with a real mystical experience seems to me to be to transcend words, since words rely on a dualist experience of reality. The experience of the underlying oneness of all things is the "goal" or point. On another note, not that many people have really been there and if they have, it's usually been really shortlived. What the future hold is another story though. Who knows what will become accessible to consciousness when evolution (the evolution of conciousness in this case) takes us further?

There are apparently many ways of conceiving dualism but I'm referring to the idea of yin and yang. In my "simple" world there is high and low, light and dark, happy and sad, etc... classic examples of the play of opposites in a dualist world. We tend to choose sides, take a stand for one thing and shun its opposites. I find this working fairly well in my day-to-day experiences and attempts to understand how humans act, for instance. Understanding life as a paradox where you attempt to join these together in a both-and kind of thinking rather than the adverse either-or. It's not, according the Buddhist philospher Nagarjuna, the ultimate answer to the ineffable, but closer to the understanding and hopefully consequent experience of oneness. A real life-changning mystical experience would of course be something akin to enlightenment, but it doesn't (as far as I understand) guarantee that life be free of conflicts caused by life in a dualist world.

However, even if things are not complete extremes but rather somewhere on a gray scale, it doesn't mean they would not be situated opposite of each other. In terms of psychology, which I know best, it seems to me that people do drift into extremes before they "come to" and realize that change has to be made. Or then change just happens, I don't know but I actually think we are less in charge than we believe. This would be a bit like the Hegelian idea of thesis-antithesis=synthesis. This kind of dialectic process would eventually lead to a higher state of consciuosness where the sense of self would be dissolved without getting lost. The sense of self gets lost if you are mentally ill and lose yourself in psychosis, for instance. I'm not a fan of Western thinking so I personally prefer the Buddhist idea that the sense of self is ultimately an illusion and so one can actually have an experience in which the illusion disappears from consciousness. There are some researchers of consciousness who promptly deny this sort of possibility but many who are acquainted with the Asian way of looking at it don't see it as impossible. My own experience of meditation is that you have an object to focus on for a while (it could actually be music, it works really well) and that focus then brings about a more expansive and profound experience of one's own being. I suspect that's a preliminary to a mystical experience.

Take a cat (because I have three of them): are they thinking? In my opinion they are pretty highly evolved beings and decision makers, but they don't have language. So they have I suppose all these images and impressions in their minds, and they are also able to remember things for various lengths of time. There's a lot going on there but they are still way more present in the now than we are, because we rely on language to entertain us about the past and the future. Perhaps a cat already is a mystic? They certainly have no trouble feeling connected to life in every way (unless of course their psyche's been badly damaged). Or can only humans who are able to transcend language, be potential mystics? These are questions that are surely almost impossible to answer.I wouldn't say Buddhists are agnostics. They have a hell of a lot of beliefs about other dimensions... No one ever claimed there is no God, only that it's ineffable and so in my opinion they are careful about defining it.

As for the Supreme Consciousness, well Oneness implies that it's everywhere. In a sense it's "underlying" all of creation and pervading it yet that's just a way of trying to explain it semantically that obviously doesn't catch the "overall" character of that Supreme "something". Here is where paradox would again enter the scene because Oneness is One AND duality at the same time. It's just us who cannot conceive of such great things who call these things such and such... whereas I'm sure that from some more enlightened point of view there is no problem. Why I'm sure? Uh, just what I believe :-). I do think the inner knowing about the state of affairs that is not tied to language is possible but it does require language to step aside. That's the difference between traditional prayer and meditation; in prayer you talk a lot! In meditation you attempt to bypass the alluring nature of blahblahblah that ties you to the timeline. Time, of course, being yet another illusion that we already know is not a "palpable thing" but a phenomenon relative to objects in space: time seems to take us from a to b but in fact, there are incidents where time is not an issue regarding our experience of reality. One case is that of psychological experiences that may be as vivid now as they were 30 years ago. It seems to me that there is yet another fundamental paradox related to the fact that time is an illusion and everything is available in the now, and our experience of evolution and a timeline. There are in fact many things we already take for granted as part of our day-to-day lives yet we find hard to explain. I personally don't understand how I can talk from one mobile phone to another, lol! Why would the idea of various states of consciousness meet with such resistance then? As you say, even coma is a state of consciousness. They say the person in question may even be aware of what is going on. Ah, so little we know yet!

Artwork: "Between Heaven and Earth", artwork by author, all rights reserved 1998

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Dating on the Internet - For Better and for Worse

Ok... so even when people have obviously lost it, I secretely consider their thoughts and so-called "good advice"... In this case I figured I should give the dating sites another chance, after all I don't want to end up an opiniated and angry spinster who has no concern for anyone else! However, it had to be for free. Not a local one, because I cannot deal with people from my own country. I also cannot deal with people calling me on the phone and coming too close too soon. Ultimately, I want out of my country because I'm choking on Finnishness. Explaining why would require another post, I feel.

First, I tried Sweden. I'm Finnish-Swedish, for the simple reason that Finland was a part of Sweden for a long time and the coastal areas close to the motherland tend to have a lot of Swedish-speaking population. This is a reason I don't feel very comfortable with the Finnish culture and its language, which requires the activation of a whole different area of the brain. It's arduous, in other words.

Every site is different and not so obviuos to figure out. In this case it seemed that I had a free account for three days. Ok. After two days I had 500 views and a few letters. One guy seemed (judging by his profile) like the walking image of myself - wow, a spiritual guy with an interest in cats and all things beautiful! Nonetheless, he showed no true interest in me and was exceptionally aloof. Well, truth to say I'd call his approach quite assertive, even. "Are you going to be the way you think you are or how I find you? I would like to hear your non-mainstream ideas on spirituality". That was all, for starters. No kind or encouraging words. No looking at my artwork. After a couple of strange mail exchanges where I felt like talking to a wall I asked if he really wants to know me. No, in fact he didn't think we would be a match, our pace was obviously different. No courteous goodbyes or anything. Keep it simple, I suppose. Another guy wrote only a line or two and stretched his wooooords. In a second mail he did that and then told himself, oh, stop being siiiilllllyyyyy. He explained: you sooo remind me of Mark L, it's so cuuuute. Mark L is a Finnish-Swedish, somewhat annoying gay TV reporter who made it in Sweden while keeping his typical Finnish-Swedish accent. Great. I feel so uplifted! Then we had the desperate guy, the one who wanted to give me eeeeeverything. Love, love and more love. He was 68. That's, what? 26 years my senior. There was also the cultural guy, the one who had been in Finland and knew about life over here. He said that some foreigner had written an article called "Dreaming in Finland". Very poignantly he pointed out, that in Finland, you do indeed get to do a lot of dreaming... He had gone blind but who cares? I looked his profile up and found that he was... 68. Breathe deeply... Then of course I shouldn't leave out the one who noticed he didn't fit my age requirement since he was 59 but proclaimed; "Here in the mediterranean area where I stay a lot age really is of no consequence at all". That was naturally just a selection. There were some normal letters as well but among other things I have no intention of learning folkdance. My conclusion: A few Swedish men may have some trouble knowing how to approach a woman in a way that is not A MAJOR TURN OFF! Maybe that's the cost of equality. I also get the feeling I've had before: most of them think I'm way too far away. Funny, huh? Now American optimism seems rather alluring again.

I also found some rather dead-looking site that I joined for free, and late in the evening still tried a third one that someone suggested. This one seemed hip and succesful. 100 % free. Alright! Men from all over the world! Woohoo! Heart sinking when I realize that they absolutely have to see me run off with someone in my OWN AREA. And when that doesn't work, my OWN COUNTRY. Turns out that looking for anyone anywhere else is as arduous as finding likeminded people on Twitter. What's up with this? Well, I did get a nice and perfectly civilized letter from a someone in a country I also consider moving to, so it didn't start that bad. It probably started off with more flare than it continued, but at least someone showed interest... My heart sinking again, though, as I find that my art is not making much of an impression. Well, that's one of my checking points anyway.

The following day when I'd gotten up, my laptop was beeping, and turned out someone was IM'ing me. Oh, alright, an American in our capital city. Have to say, I got caught unawares and could only think of the next thing to write. So there I was, writing away an hour of my life. Only to suddenly hit the inevitable question; do I have erotic fantasies and how do I pursue them. My answer is that I demand to know what his intentions are; be honest! Of course I already knew. He says: "phone, be right back". Yeah right... after a while IM was off. Classical, just as I've heard it being told. I'm trying not to be upset but I realize that I truly resent someone trying to push me when I have explicitly asked for dates and not any funny business. I am also upset that I wasted an hour of my life on this creep! Later I did find a way of blocking such requests and for that I am grateful.
How funny that I get to see other people trying to manipulate and confuse me in order to get something they want from me while all this is going on. I must have done some horrible things karma wise to be obliged to witness people's odder aspects to this extent. I try and maintain my cool and not give in. I also witness an orthopedist preventing a crazy Egyptian doctor from chopping off a piece of my foot that should under no circumstances be damaged because there is nothing to work with after a previous surgery. I sweat, cry and wonder what on earth is going on? Am I being saved here even though it was done in the usual rather patronizing manner, "from above". So many are attempting to appear all-knowing and me - a sad case of un-knowing, if one were to read the script.

By this time I'm a little upset and aware that once again, the dating business is stressing me, it's no joke, and I could do without that kind of stress. I know I don't fit the dream image of most guys out there. So what do I do? Sit back and wait for the Universe to take care of it all, or try and forge my own destiny? In the first case, it's obvious that the Universe will have trouble guiding anyone to little Finland to look for me. In the second case, it's obvious that I will be wasting my time and spending hours of frustration and disappointment to no avail.

When in doubt, leave out? No, when in doubt, go for the middle path. That's what I always say, and strangely, it still stands. It's about the only spiritual thesis that still does. I'll continue to leave my little ginger bread crumbs in the forest and see if Hansel will find me. If he doesn't, then I guess it wasn't meant to be.

Artwork: "Loose Promises", handmade collage on paper by author, all rights reserved 2008

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Don't Be a Know-All!

True kindness will beat a piece of so-called "good advice" any time, and I am saying this without hesitation. People who have listened or shared my difficulties, who have bought me catfood or given me donations, have done more good than all the self-righteous people who were so eager to preach to me about all the things I should do and especially about the workings of the Law of Attraction. It strikes me that those who are full of good advice rarely say anything encouraging or positive about me. They may preach about the importance of being open and kind towards others but fail to display signs of true kindness and compassion themselves. Their advice is mostly a disguised form of patronizing reprimand that ultimately undermines one's own sense of dignity.

I am writing all this so that people would consider what it means to be a know-all and someone who does more harm through a lack of real knowledge about, and insight into, someone else's situation. I know that we all have a tendency to be this way at times when we wish to help but don't know how. Unfortunately, if we always excused this kind of behaviour as well-meaning babble, we'd remove the responsibility of each and every one to be a better co-human being. I will give an example from my own life, the way I usually do even though I risk being ridiculed. This is not because I have the strength to deal with personal attacks, though. I know it sounds contradictory but I'd like for people to understand someone like me. I have an illness that seriously undermines my ability to deal with adversity but I am a stubborn person who will not give away any of my integrity. Recently I've been wondering how on earth I can make this work for me. Even thinking about it wears me out.

Strange enough, there were three social events this week during which, for a change, I was able to meet people in real life. The first one went well and did help me relax and get away from my problems for a while. The other ones included a person that I don't know that well but I thought of as a nice and happy person, albeit somewhat self-centred. Thus, I was totally unassuming. Well, this lady who is over 20 years my senior started to try and convince me that I have to reply to dating ads in the newspaper read by our linguistic minority. There are times when I cut a contact short very fast because I sense that something is wrong and my integrity is being compromised. For instance, earlier this week I did this with a man online who started off on a flirtatious note but then changed from warm to cool in a matter of days. I knew I had done nothing wrong but when I mentioned this and asked what the deal is, he as many before him started to blame me by turning it around to look as if I was emotionally attached to him. I guess this is a game many men like to play, be it subconsciously or not. I can't accept it, though maybe it will keep me lonely for the rest of my life. I guess I should add that as stated in other blogs of mine I also cannot deal with the stress of unclear relationships. When I was listening to this lady though, I was unable to cut her short. Maybe part of me wanted to give her advice a chance. I know I tend to do this at times. But she was relentless and wouldn't take no for an answer when I didn't agree with her point of view. I tried to explain how stressful the past few years have been in terms of relationships so I'm not sure what risks I can take now, but she wasn't listening. She also figured I am too picky. She has no idea how much I've tried to accommodate to men in my past and lower my expectations, and how I've realized that I mustn't sell myself cheap. Among other things I said that I have enough of egotrippers but she told me straight in my face that I am obviously one too so I have to learn to take turns with someone else who is the same! I felt my heart beat faster and my face boil; signs of increasing stress. Those who heard all this clearly thought she was out of line. My mother said "Vivi-Mari is after all on disability for a reason..." but it didn't help much. In the end I tried to laugh it all off, though in fact my evening was ruined from having been reminded of such painful issues and the feeling that my personal experiences weren't acknowledged by the lady of monologues. I've said a thing or two about overly "positive" people before, but apparently I'm not done with it. There has to be a balance, but who these days is a truly balanced individual?

The following day the group was slightly different but the lady of the endless monologues was also there. After some stories that were somewhat amusing but contained a lot of name dropping and talk about her aristocratic environment she suddenly started to talk about how some people may be predestined to important tasks. I tried to say that viewpoints on such issues depend on each and every one's spiritual beliefsystem, but she didn't listen. Her eyes were almost bulging when she insisted that something is causing this predestination. Then she started to talk about my boyfriend issue again and gave me a whole range of pieces of advice about that and other things in life. Now she felt that I am looking for the prince on the white horse that would "save" me. I said sourly that I am intelligent enough not to believe that anyone would save me (though one naturally hopes someone would appear as a helping hand). No, now I had to listen to a sermon about how I should be looking for female friends instead, without knowing whether I have any or not! She assumed that I keep everyone at bay. I said that I always give new people a chance. "A chance??", she exclaimed. "Don't you realize what you're saying? A chance! Now that is telling..!". I attempted to explain that all it means, is that I try and be open about each new person who enters my life. Does it have to mean anything more than that? She didn't listen as usual but insisted that I'm closed off and unwilling to open up towards people, so no wonder I'm alone!
Now I think that it's pretty clear that when you are being bombarded with unsolicited advice you normally do get defensive. In my opinion this is what accounts for the "wall" she said she encountered in me. Maybe I should have been aggressive and stopped her right then and there but I am not able to in a social situation like that. I tried as usual to explain my situation a bit but she told me that I obviously don't want my situation to change since I'm so negative about her advice (implying anybody else's advice too, of course). She was totally convinced that I don't allow anyone close and that it was her job to make me realize that I need to let my guard down. In reality I am struggling not to give up on people and I am also struggling to change my life situation for the better. Really, I should just have yelled "who are you to judge me when you know nothing about me?!" but I was stunned and also unwilling to raise my voice in the company of the lovely hostess of this get together.
I was actually left alone with the argumentative lady for quite some time because the others went to smoke. My mother who was present for some of the time told me today that she did later reprimand this lady for having trespassed my boundaries big time and had also pointed out that I really am not emotionally nor physically equipped to withstand attacks on my integrity. In fact this lady is in the medical field, which probably only made her even more opiniated. It seems to be very hard for most people to understand that someone can lack any stress tolerance at all. I look normal and in general nothing gives me away. I don't exactly want to flag my condition since I'm trying to live as normal a life as possible. But the truth is I am ill. I eventually started to cry because there was nothing I could do to keep her from continuing to attack me. She then winced a bit and came to my side and said that she simply wants to help me when she sees how guarded and closed off I am... She talked about being a Rosen therapist and how I must consider therapy, but of course I would rather be offered a real session than be told to do something I cannot afford. She then left and the hostess came to check on me. The hostess said it's obvious that some people are very eager to pass on judgment and "good advice" without really knowing what the hell they are talking about. She doesn't know that much either but what I have said she has registered. I didn't want to make her upset about the incident in her home so I dried my tears and pretended that I was okay.

What was left of the evening was spent trying to make the insisting lady understand that I really cannot write much by hand anymore because I am ill, and also trying to explain about the internet to her while she kept saying she thinks it's all stupid and she doesn't understand why anyone would like to blog, participate online in forums or talk to strangers. I tried to bring out the idea that one sometimes has to learn how to draw one's lines online, especially someone like me. I'm a little too nice, serious-minded, over-sensitive and not able to cope with stress. This is a reality for all who have some form of fibromyalgia. My point was that I am having to learn to say no to a lot of people, but of course the plaguing lady had to turn that into a negative attitude as well!

When I biked home in the biting cold night I felt very tense and unhappy, when in fact the evening could have made a positive difference in my life. I was thinking how easily people like this can make reality tip over for someone who is depressed and suicidal. As a side note: fibromyalgia causes a form of depression that cannot be cured, but if one has supportive friends and family it's not always a problem. It took me most of the weekend to get over the feeling of physical weakness and distress that these two evenings had caused, though my mother's understanding and supportive words helped a bit. As I'm writing this my heart is starting to race again. I will end here but just remind everyone that you can never know what problems a person is battling with. Granted; the lady I've used as an example probably had some issue on her mind that made her go even more overboard than one could ever have expected. My odd life situation always triggers people and I don't know what to do other than become more guarded. But I should also add as a friend drew my attention to our inner fences and adjusting one's reactions, that I am working on trying not to get too affected by those who attack me. Most of the attacks are just emotional projections, but my stress is real enough.

Artwork: "Cake with Cream" or "Coucou", digital photograph by author, all rights reserved 2008

Friday, 13 February 2009

A Lonely Valentine's Day - How to Deal with it?

Many people really dislike Valentine's day because it reminds them of lost love or non-existant love. There is no hope of getting a traditional anonymous card or gift of admiration. Most men who are in a relationship are fretting about trying to find a gift. Of course, a man hates to feel obliged to show their love because of being asked to. Many women feel the same. One of the few times I got flowers sent to me they came very late in the evening because the owner of the local flowershop didn't have time to deliver them earlier. What a bummer! As it happens, the man who sent them was the only man who has come even close to actually loving me in a way that one would expect (I have to say that he did try very hard to make it work and he did come back for me as well). So of course that's a loss that is hard to forget until something better comes along - IF it comes along. Anyway - as I've approached middle age (lo and behold!) I've started to resent all the holidays that are being imposed on us. Most of them leave you feeling vacant and disappointed. I used to love Christmas but even that has turned into a nightmare as there's only me and my mother and we have no money to spend.

I've noticed that Americans are big on all sorts of holidays and special occasions, including the infamous American style weddings that leave people in debt for decades. Everything is done grand style, which truthfully is something many of us do dream of (but not so many are able to put into practice). I wonder how people hold it together. All the planning and decoration and spending money must take a great toll on everyone. With the obligation to keep smiling it must be a true nightmare at times if you are not able to share the burden with other family members. One trend I've noticed online though is the attempt to come up with days that have some kind of "positive theme". It could be kindness day which means that you have to say something nice about other people. I rebel since I don't want to be told when to be kind nor do I understand why I should have to be told to be kind in the first place! Another big theme is that of gratitude. If you ask me, I have a natural feeling about things and sometimes I feel grateful when it's appropriate and other times I'm angry because I have a reason to. I doubt that my life would change radically if I went around forcing myself to say gratitude about everything every day. Alright, alright, I understand that you're supposed to really feel it. Ok, I get the idea. But I hate to be preached about it. I'll still prefer the watercourse way, that of letting yourself feel what you feel and learn about the anatomy of your inner life in the process.

Maybe the sense of the end of times (c.f. all the apocalyptic prophesies and lightworkers' assemblies) create even more tendencies in people to want to preach a truth that is going to help save the world. I've talked about this before so you might as well just read my previous posts. I've noticed, though, that a certain barometer of spiritual sentiments has gone up big time in the past few years. I have no doubt that some of it is very healthy and a sign of caring and a sincere wish for growth. But some of it is simply annoying as it's attempting to enrouch on other people's belief systems so that we will all walk the "right" path towards salvation. Spreading the love by attempting to make people feel something when they aren't feeling it naturally is to me a bit of an abomination, because it usually entails the opposite as well which is to deny the negative feelings one might have. It would be much better to talk about mindfulness and the allowance of feelings to come and go in a natural manner. And I am implying, that it is truly a natural occurence. I also maintain that we will naturally feel what we need to feel when it's appropriate if we have learned to be open, flexible and allowing towards ourselves and have some understanding of the anatomy of feelings.

Cool off, take it easy. For the majority of us in the Western world it's going to be an oppressive Valentine's Day. But so be it. Allow yourself to feel whatever it is you're feeling and I am sure you'll be relieved. If possible, pamper yourself and do nice things that takes your mind off the collective hysteria. If possible, meet some good friends. I'm invited to meet with some women who are about 20 years my senior. But they are good people and above all, they are real. I am done with trying to connect through the internet, especially with men. It's doomed to failure. If you ask me, I think a great part of the men who spend most of their leisure time by the computer are either hopelessly addicted nerds or real creeps.

Artwork: "Other than Chocolate", handmade collage especially commissioned for Valentine's Day 2009, all rights reserved.

The idea is to encourage people to show their love in many ways and not just by giving the traditional chocolate box, or the heartpatterned boxers, for that matter. Love shows in words and actions - that's when it truly comes into its own. Especially actions speak volumes... Companionship and the fusion of two people's love is like a special lock to be opened with a special key... which is yours? And how do you unlock another person's heart in - in the unique way that will do the trick for them? The star on the lock is an esoteric symbol of feminine and male in conjunction.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Equality Between Men and Women is Still a Hypothesis

I met some real life people yesterday and feel a little better today. This blog connects to an earlier blog about gender issues.

I come from a country where men and women had to work side by side in a rather equal fashion in order to survive the harsh climate. At least that's how equality in our country is usually being explained. Note that Finland is among the few countries that has a female president.

I don't deny that my way of expressing myself can be perceived as strong by some people, but I am by no means a bully. I am not trying to get the upper hand, only have equal rights with everyone else. I am tender and giving but won't waste my efforts on anyone who only wants to reinforce their ego. I can't afford wasting my precious energy, as I don't have that much of it (at least for the time being). The fact that men have complained about the strong will of mine tells me that they have not been very strongwilled individuals themselves. I also wonder whether maybe I have had trouble understanding the subtle differences that seem to exist between men and women in other countries. Most Scandinavians (or rather people of the Nordic countries to be more exact) agree that there is more open or latent chauvinism with the male part of the population in other Western countries. It's a well known fact, however, that even in the North men and women are not given equal work opportunities nor always the same income. The idea that the man has to support the family is still hanging on. It also seems to me that at this point in time, men are confused and intimidated by strong women who either express themselves in independent terms or climb the career ladder with a lot of stamina. It's no news that we're living through some major reform in this sense.

The other day I was still upset about the way that my needs were being downplayed by a guy and how (in my own experience) I was rejected rather cruelly. I more or less demand from a man to be treated with equality and respect, but it seems to me that most men don't agree on the definition of "equal". I might have greater luck in my own country, but unfortunately I don't want to be in a relationship where Finnish is the main language. I'm truly a minority of a minority of a minority...
There's a whole science about "Venus and Mars" that I won't go into here since I'm not that familar with it nor am I sure that everything can be so neatly categorized. But one thing that I've noticed in my own life is that men want to be in charge of how a relationship develops. It starts with them deciding when to write or call, how to meet, and where to develop the contact. This to me is extremely stressful because for one thing I find it unacceptable and unfair, and on the other hand it wears on my over-stressed nervous system. I easily break down like I did the other day if I have to put up with a state of not knowing what the deal is. I realize that I have a big problem. I realize that no matter how much I would have to give to a guy, this little thing could wreck all my chances of ever finding anyone. I'm sorry guys, but actions speak louder than words. I simply don't trust your talk of equality anymore. Thus I am trying to come to terms with the fact that loneliness just might be my only company for the rest of my life. After all, almost half the population in Sweden are single people, I hear. I won't be here to live the times when equality is real and palpable and men have accepted to remove their blindfold.

In answer to a comment I wrote the other day, I said that I wish that men would realize how emotional women can sometimes be without it meaning half as much as they think. Secondly, I wish they would realize that their actions cause us to fret and ruminate for ages afterwards. Women spend an enormous amount of time trying to understand men, but when do they ever care to understand us? In other words; how can we ever reach true equality if one part of the population is not interested in investing any efforts into truly understanding the other part? This leads me to the core of my thinking, which is that rather than choosing sides and thinking in terms of either-or the way we are used to, we should really try and embrace both-and. So even though I'm a bit sad and nervous about the way men so easily dismiss me as "difficult" I still hope to give each individual the benefit of doubt. But my refusal to be submissive is probably going to cost me a lot of things that belong to a normal life on Earth.
P.S. Actually I was being really nice on this blog. If a man comes onto a woman and she's confused about it, he still seems to hold the right to be baffled and blame her for having allured him.

Artwork: "Emotions 6/6", handmade collage on paper by author, all rights reserved 2002

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

A Nervous Breakdown

I woke up with a really ghastly feeling in my stomach. Last night I thought I was over the emotional shock of being so bluntly rejected by someone I trusted, but apparently I'm not. It was curious how this person was so angry about narcisissm yet displayed the same signs himself; very agreeable in the beginning when things worked according to his schemes, but as soon as they didn't he's like a child who was denied candy in a candy shop. All I kept hearing was "me, me, me" and a somewhat patronizing way of telling me what "we" need to do, and it completely freaked me out. There's not that much good to say about myself either because I just lost it. I really didn't display my anger, merely tried to negotiate, but I might as well have talked to a wall. The bottom line is, I went into a state of extreme anxiety, which might have been some form of post traumatic disorder as a result of too many failed relationships over a short period of time. I'm not saying I'm without fault. My intensity, impatience, and perceptiveness has caused me to over-react to many things. Of course it's hard to say when my reactions have been justified and in proportion with the problem, but if my sensitivity is leading to this kind of insurmountable problems, then what's the use of trying to connect with anyone anymore?

When I met this person I had a beautiful dream one night where everything was difficult at first but then miraculously, everything was being taken care of and this enormous weight was lifted from my shoulders. I couldn't believe the feeling of not having to struggle anymore. I realized upon waking what a ridiculous strife my life has been. But I really have had no choice. At times I could have taken the easy way out and stayed put, but with my need for change and adventure it would have driven me crazy too. So I've worn my heart on my sleeve for many years now but nothing good has come out of it. Even if I do believe that in certain ways we attract what we need in order to grow or simply something that reflects some inner issue, I never anticipated that the opening up of my emotional life would cause so much grief. In comparison, life used to be very easy and smooth. Maybe it's also due to the collective and its changes. But the thing is, I no longer know how to deal with my emotional self. I mean, I understand that I just need to ride out the storms. But I am starting to worry that something really bad will happen to me soon or that I won't be able to function in a relationship anymore. This person also knew that I have the condition which causes me to have very low stress tolerance, but he never asked about it so he either didn't care or didn't want to know. I tried to say that it's not an issue in the company of the right people. But I don't seem to attract the tolerant kind of men. Why? I do much soul searching but I have fewer and fewer answers.

I'm sorry to say this but never have I had as much trouble with people as I have with Americans online. I also hate to put one big bunch of people in one bag. For some reason though, it seems that I just cannot make my voice heard in their company. I really don't know how to explain this. But it's as if I had been part of a cult where my whole sense of self had been systematically undermined. There is only one person I am able to talk to but she's a very intelligent woman who isn't shaken by my ups and downs. The others... well, truth to say I think they know more about me than I ever did about them, and so they had the upper hand. My last experience seemed like that. I got to hear from this guy that you don't expect a person's friendship and trust, you earn it. Well yes... the thing is I thought I already had. I did have an expectation and that was to be heard when I was in distress. Unfortunately, emotional distress in the form of a crisis doesn't wait for people to have time. Apparently this person thought I was being extremely selfish for having a crisis when he wasn't up to it. And I promise I did not bombard him with any long, abusive letters. They were merely short statements about what was going on from my point of view. That I might have had trouble keeping my thoughts together might have been a fact. To really put a knife where it hurt he had to ban me from his Flickr stream though he could have simply removed me from his contacts. This person, who thought of so many others as predators, was definitely one himself. I think that intuitively, I felt this and that's why I broke down.

The question is, did this person do the right thing by abandoning me right then and there with the view that it was all too complicated and too much for him to deal with? As I said, I didn't know this person all that well, but what I had seen of his values I had liked a lot. In retrospect I think that he was only gratifying his own self-esteem by sucking in my encouraging words. It's ironic, since it's hard for me to express any form of admiration for other people, let alone a guy. And I'm not talking about infatuation. There are many more nuances to emotions than that! The fact that he didn't stick around tells me that my break down was a real indication that I was dealing with a hyper selfish person. I have met many now, and so I recognize them fairly soon.

So yes, I was having a fit - but I didn't accuse him. I tried to take responsiblity for my own emotions and the crisis I was going through. I even warned him that it was coming. In my opinion if you already like someone, you give them a chance. He could have been the great friend who helped me ride through the storm and come out on the other side. But no. He was all for great friendship and how one's basic need is to be heard and understood. He was obviously only talking for himself. What happened instead was that I had one more traumatic relationship to add to my list. And unfortunately, this whole thing has undermined my emotional stability even more. It will be even more difficult for me to trust someone. I don't know why this is happening. I don't see myself deserving it and whatever desperation I may feel I try and contain. But now - I'm now officially a nervous wreck.

Artwork: "Caught in the Ice", digital photograph by author, all rights reserved 2008

Monday, 9 February 2009

Being Discerning in the Beginning of Relationships

In relation to my previous blog entry, I have to say that I am still in great shock of how quickly encouraging words can turn into the opposite. I think it's normal to feel thrilled when someone tells you how wonderful you are because of your kindness and how happy they are to know you because you help them to understand themselves better. You open up and trust a person who does that. But then you start to feel that something is not quite right. There is so much talk about what makes the person in question feel comfortable and how difficult it is when people don't meet with expectations on that level. It seems that you're alright to the extent that you support and help the person reach his private goals. Ok, sometimes it's all very well. But how can you know that this nice person is not just projecting outwards what they have established about themselves? People have shadow sides, and it's in the nature of these denied parts of the self to be unkown to the conscious self. Usually other people trigger us so that we have an opportunity of becoming aware of this part of the self. I tend to trigger people a lot because I'm quite perceptive and intuitive. It has ruined many a friendship, mostly on the internet where everything is intense and open in a kind of scary way.

I'm very sad that so few people think along such terms. All relationships would be smoother if people realized they are mirroring their own issues in the other person. They say they want to grow but do they really know what that means and how painful it can be at times? I made the recent mistake of thinking that someone who seemed to like me a great deal would understand that I was about to go through some painful issues and would be there for me. The more I tried to explain myself, the more I found myself in an impossible maze that shouldn't have had to come about in the first place. Had I only been allowed to talk and had this person only lend me an ear... well, things would sure be very different right now and I would be proud to call this person a friend. As it was, I was shunned and ridiculed. There wasn't much this person actually said. Maybe he was, after all, polite enough not to, or he simply didn't have a solid case. Or he was the "cold war" type who rather stay aloof. Or maybe this guy was scared that his shadow side was being exposed? I don't pretend to know, as I don't pretend to be all-knowing. I can only say that somehow my expectation that the attempt to go through the emotional process in a controlled manner wasn't met (bad me to have an expectation!) and so I found myself in a state of even greater anxiety. Funny thing is, everything that I was submitted to was like an echo of things that I had heard this person saying he had been subject to by others. Relationships are indeed very often a mirror where things we experience as unpleasant to us in the external world are in reality a part of our denied self.

Someone posed the question whether we can save the planet or not, and this was my response: "This is a pet question for me. I think it's ludicrous to save anything at all. That's really ego speaking, since it wants to feel good about itself. Most people talk this way about the planet as well as their peers, and it can be hard to deal with at times. However, taking care of things is quite different. That comes from the heart and not an exaggerated sense of self-importance. Only our higher selves can know what the best action to take is at any given time.

May I add, that it's my understanding that many spiritually minded people think that by saving others from their misery and "faulty" attitudes, they are helping to save the planet. It's all about the critical mass etc, which in my opinion is a way of intellectualizing a process that will probably happen anyway ("let nature take its course..."). Therefore there's a lot of pressure on both sides; on the one hand those who offer a million solutions and methods of saving people must be rather stressed out (and usually give it away by getting nasty) and those who are subject to manipulation or attacks to conform to other people's idea of what is the right thing to do feel stress too. I think we should have a little more trust in the higher powers than this! Of course we shouldn't just sit back and get lazy, but (in my opinion) exercise effortless efforts by listening to our hearts and our intuition."

No, we cannot save other people. And we also don't have to try and support someone who is dragging us down. But to give up on someone out of convenience and almost no knowledge of the case at hand at all is in my opinion truly cowardly and pathetic. There, now I said it! I'm sick and tired of hearing about how compassionate we should be and then have the same people spit at me because I'm trying so hard to talk to them in an honest way and it doesn't suit their level of comfort. What is life if we don't stretch out of our comfort zone a bit sometimes? By honest I mean real and sincere, but also respectful at least to the extent that I am able at that particular moment. Sometimes we faulter, but it's human. Little slips can be rectified. You don't ban a person on a site just because they are having a bad day unless they are blasting at you. Come on; that's being highly egotistical. Give people a chance. If they have violated your boundaries it could be that they didn't really know what boundaries you had because you acted differently in the past. To resort to that kind of excuses when it's handy is hardly fair... It's equally silly to encourage openness and confidentiality in the form of rants and then suddenly when it's convenient use an excuse such as "I can't process all your issues, it's just way too much".

I also think that different cultures have very different concepts of a person's boundaries. Of course it's not only cultural, but personal as well. In my own case I'm very particular about boundaries but in one case (that I know of) I may not respect that of others and that's if I really need to talk about a problem while the other person is withdrawing. I simply cannot deal with such stress. On the other hand I once had to break the friendship with someone who was borderline because it was too stressful on me (my boundaries were constantly being violated). She might have thought of it as betrayal but I could easily have discussed it if she had wanted to. Betrayal to me is when people don't allow me to explain my feelings. I have to try and estimate my own capacity since so far I have a limited amount of energy to spend. Who do I spend it on and why? I am certainly not going to spend it on someone who only wants to be encouraged and appreciated but doesn't really want to accept me for who I am when it comes to real issues in life. A guy from the other side of the world can be super sweet talking but if he doesn't consider that I am staying up throughout the night in order to chat with him when it suits him the best, then he's a jerk. I'm sorry, but there are things that should be obvious. There are also little things that give a person away. I suggest you observe these signs and find out whether they mean something that is being covered up with all the beautiful compliments he's smothered you with. Oh and one more thing; if he thinks you're in love with him after a week, then run!

Artwork: "Emotions 2/6", handmade collage on paper, all rights reserved 2002

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Gender Issues, Cyberlove and Truthfulness

Every intellligent man I've ever talked to has denied that there are any differences between the genders that are truly worth mentioning. The funny thing is, every intelligent woman that I have talked to has denied that there would not be some very significant differences. It seems to me, that women in general have a broader scope of vision that encompasses viewpoints connected to emotions and intuition. It seems to me, that the old adage that women are caretakers and therefore tend to be more compassionate still stands true despite some attempts at greater equality between the sexes. Equality is also a funny thing because in my country, it means that men don't open doors to women or help them out when they are struggling with their baby carriages. Some more intellectual people try and reach the true essence of equality that would allow both parties to have an equal say in matters of the heart as well as matters of day-to-day practicality. I read somewhere, that Swedish women are the happiest women in the world. They have the most freedom to do what they want and also have the man's blessing. They don't seem to mind too much that it's at the expense of the old fashioned courteous ways that make a woman feel like a woman. Subject not closed as yet, it seems. See an early blog on the issue of true equality from a spiritual point of view.

I recently became aware by talking to various people that I need to try and empty myself of a lot of indoctrination that has happened over the past years. I need to hold on more to my quest for real honesty and authenticity and not the make belief kind of truthfulness that abounds. It's not very easy because there are many counterforces that try to allure a person into a dishonest position. If people you engage yourself with are not on the same wavelength, you'll have even more trouble in this regard. This is anyway a very real and important issue for me right now. Men have tried to undermine my strength because they were weak individuals, society has attempted to squash me and force me into a category of second rate citizens (they obviously have no use for me so why bother?) and spiritual people have been very fervent in handing out advice as to how I should live my life. I have been observing and digesting and trying to figure out what all these people are about. I see very little altruism in this world. I honestly don't think altruism is in the eyes of the beholder, though beauty is, and therefore we have a saying that stresses beauty. I see a lot of inner beauty in human beings almost as if I can't help it, but reality proves to be different. I feel very strongly, that it's a case of confusion, frustration and ignorance that covers up the inner light. On the rare occasion when I see kindness, I light up as well. To be complimented for one's kindness is a beautiful thing and something I am always very grateful to hear. But when is it only a compliment meant to allure you to feel more for the other person? In the real world, you may be able to tell quite easily. In the cyber world, this may be far more difficult. People are not who you might think they are, though that granted you can indeed in my opinion use discernment and see some portions of the truth. Virtual contacts is a great way of exercising discernment.

So how does kindness relate to equality and gender issues? Well, it seems to me that it's very difficult to be friends with a man. In the past, it has worked well for me because there has been this unspoken agreement that nothing else is going on or ever will. I have been fairly sure of what I've wanted and I've also been able to read the men sufficiently to know what they want. Usually, they express romantic interest very quickly or then not at all. In my more adult years I have met only one guy who came onto me after we'd known each other for quite some time. But I did suspect him of fancying me all the same.

In recent years, I've had to rely on internet contacts in order to have a social life. I have believed in various compliments regarding my talents or kindness. It hasn't always occurred to me that there might have been an ulterior motif such as getting me to be supportive of them. Women beware! If they claim to be terribly interested in who you are, please practice caution. Unfortunately, most of my experiences with men who were interested in me were pretty bad. A couple of Asians wanted to come and meet me almost without any preliminary contact at all. A German guy who was very much into some spiritual guru was prepared to cheat on his wife and "keep" a woman in Helsinki that he visited quite often. Well, that's what I figured out later since his first explanation was simply that the marriage wasn't going well at all. He wasn't quite sure about me though, so he grilled me for a couple of months and wouldn't agree to meet me. I was curious and since we got on well I somehow felt interested to meet. The waiting was very stressful on me though. We met once, I gave him all sorts of viewpoints I think he needed to hear, and he told me that it would be hard to live with me because I "notice everything". He was nice enough but had I had the experiences I have had now I would have bid him adieu in a week's time within knowing him. My choices are sometimes a bit odd, I do admit that. Whenever I feel a connection with someone, I am prepared to make a lot of efforts in order to get to know them. Now the succession of experiences that followed included an Italian who called whenever it suited him (he was obviously not interested and that caused some negative reactions in me), some really perverted suggestions, and the return of my ex that involved a 24/7 waiting period to hear from him in one way or another. He was in Helsinki while I had already moved away to a town 2 hours away. After that was over I waited for an American guy to show up here in Finland but he chickened out. Soon after another American came onto me online and made all sorts of promises that I only later found out that he wasn't able to keep. I was waiting for his phone calls every day. Eventually I had to go to America myself in order to meet him. Well, it was yet another disaster lasting three months, after which I was still waiting for his calls for a number of months and then for my things that he is not able to deliver. And all this is only for starters; there's more but I will refrain from boring the reader. I do also have a condition that causes very low stress tolerance but along with all this constant waiting on men, their visits, calls and decisions, wore me out completely. I obviously had to stop being so desperate, haha. But anyway, you get the picture? For some odd karmic reason, I've had to WAIT a lot. For men. I guess they do need to retreat into their cave every so often, though that's really a best case scenario.

Now, with all the virtual messaging going on I do feel somewhat desperate to talk to and actually get to meet the people I am talking to as fast as possible. This is obviously difficult if the geographical distance is great. Yet one can always hope, and maybe even plan it. This is especially true in the case of the opposite sex. Now why would this be?

I think it's quasi impossible to engage in an interesting conversation with someone of the opposite sex without considering the element of romance. However, since I'm rather realistically minded in this sense and have never felt love in cyber space, I find it very hard to understand how troubling this is to other people. A recent incident left me completely upside down when my vision of a truly honest and interesting quest for authenticity was interpreted as a desire for romance. Let me say this about myself and many other women; we do want to feel appreciated as women and it can be a great starting point for friendship that can eventually lead to something more. However, if we feel appreciated only for our brains (or I do anyway) then it's kind of a turn off. Most of the time. It's not that I am aiming at a romantic outcome. I just don't want to be treated by a man like a person without a gender. On the other hand, I also don't want to be accused of looking for romance just because I'm expressing interest in a man's intellect and personality. Oh, I know this is confusing and I've been struggling this weekend to make sense of it all. It's all the more difficult because of the elusive concept of equality. What exactly does it mean? Nobody knows but those who are intelligent feel it's important. I think that if it's very clear from the start that the connection is only based on friendship and will not go further, then there is no problem. This is very difficult to establish in the virtual world, however. It is just way too easy to fantasize, or to misunderstand and twist another's efforts to be genuine and open. It's even more confusing when the genuinity and openness, as well as kindness, is being encouraged, but there are no signs that there could ever be a meeting in real life. I mean, if someone is at least a little interested, they would agree that meeting would be a goal to work towards, right? Surely it's only normal that one would express some frustration if this is not possible very fast. So how do you deal with such ambiguities?

Because of a great confusion on this level in regards to an internet contact I had a forceful emotional break down that brought up all the bad experiences I've had in the past few years, as well as my fear of rejection that popped up all of a sudden. My gutfeeling was telling me that I was in yet another situation of waiting. The messages were not clear regarding the expectations on the relationship in question and I felt that I had to play by someone else's rules, though later on when it was already "too late" I learned that I had had some kind of expecatations (I'm aware of only one, which was to be heard and understood just like he did!). I am simplifying the situation so as to stick the issue that my blog is about. I have to say though, that as a result of my strong reaction, suddenly it seemed that neither my kindness nor my feelings were that imporant to the other person anymore. A female friend suggested to me this is to be expected. When men run into trouble, they avoid it. They don't even want to consider the possibility that they may be losing an extraordinary person, a "one timer". They tend to think in terms of the here and now and what makes them uncomfortable is what needs to be eliminated. I'm sorry if this sounds terribly stereotypical and men are welcome to disagree, but this assumption is based on years of experience and talk with other women. In this case my emotional break down was apparently reason enough to cause division. No matter how much I tried to explain the reasons and how they had little to do with the person in question, there was little receptivity as if the knight's shield was up to prevent any arrows from hitting the wrong place. I do wish that men would realize that women usually are much more emotional and not be so scared of it. We really can't help at times that we don't have a choice in controlling our feelings.

Meanwhile, as I'm waiting for some kind of response that may or may not come, I'm really cooling off. Whereas some things obviously turn guys off, some things turn women off. Somewhere deep down the knowledge that someone wasn't all that interested in talking on the phone and meeting up, hurts the woman in me. It seems to me, that I was asking for answers when I shouldn't have, because the other person needed space. Personally I have trouble dealing with feelings that are left hanging in the air and in fact don't tolerate that in a relationship. This is maybe part of my personal shadow but if I'm willing to talk to about it, then one would hope the other person who acted as a trigger would be willing to help work it out or just be supportive. In my case this didn't happen and I never got any other answer than "it was too much". Suddenly my openness becomes a toxic need for attention. I learn in retrospect that I have expected too much - well... I think that's very relative from person to person. I'm not perfect, yet I do need to try and understand... how do you when you don't get a straight answer? Seems to me all this person wanted was help on his own path, since my kindness was welcome to the extent that it supported this person's understanding of himself. And that's from someone who hated narcissism (which could very well be a sign that he in fact has a shadow side that is narcissistic). Sure I may have misinterpreted... I was also reprimanded because I try and analyze this person. I'm trying to understand this guy but am not getting response, so why should I not try and analyze? There's this thing called a woman's intuition, too... Warning signs come up when you hear word's such as control and reticience plus a bunch of excuses why things have to be a certain way and they have to think about proceeding or not rather than wondering what we can do. Honestly? I think this kind of behaviour is selfish and rude, even though they may be coming out of a person's denied shadow side. Remark that though I was very upset I didn't yell or demean this person. Men alway say yeah yeah they do want to grow - but how often have I actually seen it happen unless it was completely on their terms and thus just a repetition of what they've already decided about themselves?

Considering how much effort I've put into so many bad relationships, courtships, contacts and dates, it's no wonder that the lack of that little extra can make the whole thing fall apart. It seems to me that men and women feel differently about the romantic aspect of a relationship or the expectations that could lead to one in the end, but we sure both need encouragment of some kind to keep going. I can't really explain why this is - maybe there are exceptions but I truly wonder?
One thing I've gained during my emotional break down, however, was the insight that I will continue pursuing uncompromising honesty, absolute truthfulness and authenticity no matter what people say or do to discourage me. And I mean that society supports shallowness, but also that some people discourage you indirectly by simply misunderstanding you and not agreeing to explore these issues on a really deep level. I had a vision of what it could be between two people and how much one could grow from an interaction based in honesty (the kind kind, of course) and true equality, but it didn't materialize. Perhaps it was all my fault - who is to say? I will try and contemplate my strategies, of course. Avoid men who right away think that I am in love with them, and stuff like that... (haha). All I can do is hope that I will find new people who understand and don't shy away because the going gets a little rough. What I do hate are people who promise to be there for you when times are difficult, yet take off as soon as it doesn't suit them. Maybe I'm too hard on people who feel uncomfortable about some issue of mine, but frankly, I've never even heard anyone say that before. People like to project outwards what they have already established about themselves, but when something interferes with their self-image, they run. Intelligent men like to talk about equality, but where is it when truly needed? I see men usually wanting the upper hand. What is true compassion really about anyway?

Artwork: "Bus Door", digital photograph by author, all rights reserved, 2009