the awkward dance

I don’t miss you, just who you used to be

and you don’t ring true, so please stop calling me

— Robbie Williams, “She’s Madonna”

Most of the time, I would tell you that I believe in second chances. I’ve believed in them so fiercely, it can cloud my judgment. It could also be that I am hasty to hand out second chances when what I should really do is take a proper amount of time to suss out the scope of a situation before coming to a decision. I’ve had my fair share of reaching out to people when I was younger, but my experience as of late is that I’ve been more on the receiving end of things.

April ’11, Vancouver, British Columbia

It is my sincere hope that I will not be discouraged against doling out chances in the future because I’ve been burned by people more than once. It’s unfair to immediately cast new connections into the shadows of those who came before them, isn’t it? I think so.

Though I wish I could, I cannot say for certain if previous experiences will impact how I deal with interpersonal issues later; the resentment tends to manifest and grow exponentially with each case. Let’s be kind, and assume the wisdom does as well.

I like the idea of continuing to explore friendships despite a misunderstanding here, or a genuine misstep there. That’s tricky — I don’t know if it’s for the best, or if I can actually do it all alone. It helps if the folks involved are willing to admit to such things, and then move ahead.

I can’t forget how others have made me cross, feel hurt, and/or disrespected. I dare not. That would open myself up for more of the same treatment. However, I enjoy believing that I’ll do my best not to harbor petty grudges and allow negativity to rule my days. Work must be done to support this. Perhaps I can mull it over, practice forward thinking, and see where it takes me.

April ’11, Vancouver, British Columbia

I will not pretend, I will not put on a smile

I will not say I’m alright for you

— Martha Wainwright, “Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole”

For the record, I do not believe in third chances. It sounds ludicrous!

If issues cannot be resolved after one lump or two, it’s likely that the connection was not meant to endure. Also, if someone is keeping track of times they’ve been wronged or upset by one person or party, that can be indicative of stress, and the beginning of a grudge. There are more productive means of using one’s energy.

4 thoughts on “the awkward dance

  1. I have to say I understand where you’re coming from here. It’s like trying to trust a pit pull again once it’s bitten you. While you can appreciate that it is a dog, you are now aware of its ability to harm you. These same types of situations have made me really wary about who/where I invest my time. It has made me become much more choosy about my friendships, and a lot less willing to be that person that others can reach out to.

    I immediately thought about the beginning of ivy’s profile where she quotes:

    “i’m not suggesting you up and line me up for questioning but jesus think about the bridges you are burning. And i’m betting that even though you knew it from the start you’d rather be a bitch than be an ordinary broken heart so go ahead and talk about your bad day…i want all the details of the pain and misery that you are inflicting on the others,i consider them my sisters and i want their numbers.
    god its been a lovely day! everything is going my way i took up croquet today and i’m on fire…” The Dresden Dolls: “Good Day”

    I believe that our experiences help us set the guidelines for what makes us the happiest. When someone hurts us we go, “Hmm, I just found out I do not like that type of behavior.” Kind of like realizing you don’t want negative people in your life.

    I’ve learned to be very outspoken about what I want/need for myself. In the past I was not so vocal, because I felt that I was being selfish. Now I understand that putting our well being first is NOT being selfish, it’s called Loving ourselves, and that is perfectly fine.

  2. Good luck, I understand the struggle all to well. You are wise in your words here, I trust this is also how you will move forward. With a greater wisdom.


  3. I am attempting to read Emotional Intelligence. I attempted it about seven/eight years ago and was put off by a concatenation of factors. This time I have a little more determination to suck the marrow out of it.

    Goleman speaks about a few of the things you’ve mentioned here. He specifically describes emotions as imposing the past on the present. They are not interested in the reality of a new situation, he argues, instead they look for a ‘best-fit’ and respond based on previous experience. We react in the way we have learned to react.

    I have always tried to give people opportunities. The person we interact with is often not the person underneath. We are dealing with the knots of past existence, the sturm und drang of old pain. RD Laing does a beautiful job of displaying the devilishly convoluted growth of these tangles in Knots. I highly recommend him.

    The big question is where you place your tolerance. In engineering, tolerance is the acceptable error between the ideal plan and the imperfect reality. How much difference are you willing to accept between the person you know to exist and the individual’s capacity to exist as that person? KJ Parker refers to that gap, that tolerance, as ‘necessary evil’. Similar to our perception of sin. Sin is, after all, just a matter of geometry. How far does your course divert from the ideal (‘true’) line? Similarly, how much evil can we contain? What is the divergence?

    I don’t necessarily think it’s a matter of allocating a number to how many chances people receive. It seems to me that’s a safety measure you’ve chosen, and it’s not a bad one. It stops you from trying too much. I know how much I want to give, and indeed, how much I have sometimes needed to take. That tells me how important it can be to impose a limit when one does not technically have one. The result of not imposing a limit can be disaster.

    I keep trying to find the strength to stop at the right point in every situation. To assess everyone individually rather than impose a blanket rule. To feel the ‘rightness’ of an action. Of late I feel I have failed and am failing. And yet, somehow, some part of me believes that this is part of the process: that to succeed involves having failed. Failed and failed and failed and kept trying.

    Goleman suggests a number of strategies for developing one’s grasp of the seditious emotions. I find his attitude toward emotions – as though they were hived off – weird. Very much based in Cartesian mores. Nevertheless, I suspect his strategies are going to be familiar. I am always amazed by how much we sound like our forebears and Goleman, for all his medical bias, sounds like a thousand swamis and philosophers who have long since eaten dirt.

    Useful guidance, but we always have to find our own tolerances.

    I tend to find mine in nature and in action. Thought never seems so useful as meditation. My persistent habit of thinking is, perhaps, my greatest obstacle.


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