Many moons ago I routinely was a recipient of acupuncture. I know, I know…some of you have just gasped in horror and asked Why??? Why would someone voluntarily let someone stick needles all over their body. Well the truth of the matter is it’s not actually painful…for the most part. But I’ve digressed from my point already. My acupuncturist was a very smart lady, who was also very sassy. When we’d discuss certain overwhelming life events, she had an acronym to sum them up. She would say, “Well, that was another FGE.”
So what is an FGE? Well that would be a Fucking Growth Experience. We’ve all had them. Those moments in life that we wished we could just skip over and do without, but in reality they teach us something. Still, they are a huge pain in the ass and we’d just as soon not have them at all. But then where would we be? Stuck in the same place we started most likely.
The thing about FGEs is that they actually serve a purpose. If you pay attention during them and reflect back thoughtfully afterwards, chances are you will learn something. Maybe it’s just a clear roadmap of what NOT to do next time. But if you’re lucky, you’ll learn something significant about yourself.
I’ve had the pleasure of living through an FGE over the past few weeks. As those of you who have been reading along with me know, part of my little journey has been in the world of learning to date as an adult, post-divorce. I had the pleasure of meeting someone a few months back and there was a definite connection in personalities. But for a variety of reasons (too many frankly to recount here) there was very little contact in person. We spent MUCH time on the phone together, sending e-mails and texting. But face to face was almost non-existent. In the past few weeks I began to realize that we’d settled into quite a comfy little rut, and frankly it was not really what I was looking for. Now neither of us had declared our “relationship” to be anything specific. I had no label to put on it—although one of my favorite friends declared him a “Gentleman Caller”, because he was a gentleman and he called me. We’ll ignore the other connotation that phrase can carry.
The lack of definition was bothering me greatly, and I finally realized why. It was because I had actually grown to care for this person—as more than a friend—but I did not get the sense the feeling was reciprocated. Now there are times in the past where I would have just said something was better than nothing. However, in my journey of self-enlightenment, that is no longer the case. I have come to the realization this year that I deserve more than that. I am worth more than that. We all are. I deserve to have someone that puts as big a priority on me as I do on them.
So I briefly considered just walking away, but then I realized that would leave me with doubts and questions and unresolved “issues”. Never good for me. Plus, it would totally be wussing out. As a result I put on my big girl panties and just laid everything out for him. The result? Exactly what my instincts had told me it would be. He sees us right now as friends and isn’t sure it ever would move to more than that.
Well, now I know. And knowing is half the battle. G.I. Joe! And for those of you who don’t get that reference, shame on you!
Now is this the end of the world? Hardly. Especially when you consider that on some levels I already knew. Having it actually stated plainly…little bit of a tough pill to swallow, but again, I asked for it. And you should never ask a question you’re not prepared to have answered.
There is part of me (naturally) that would like to just go crawling off to a corner and sob hysterically, because there is no question that I had developed feelings for him. There is part of me that wants to yell and scream. There is also part of me that would very much like to say screw this dating thing…men suck, this is too much work for absolutely no reward (so far) and I’m better off being alone.
Fortunately for me, when those feelings well up, I get sage advice from that Yoda-esque friend of mine, Kat (who is a self-proclaimed attention whore, hence the actual usage of her name, rather than my usual generalizations ). She told me—direct quote here, and if she was ripping someone off, please direct your lawsuits to the firm of Polk, Taylor, Pierce, Fillmore and Van Buren—Kat told me:
“There can be no joy without pain, no light without dark. We would never know how great joy is unless we had felt pain, or how bright light can be unless we had truly known the dark.”
That’s profound. Especially for someone who gets into “bet you can’t top this” style competitions on a regular basis. But she has a point, despite the fact that she prefaced her profoundness with the disclaimer that she wasn’t trying to sound “too hippy dippy.”
The point is this—love and hate, joy and pain, light and dark—these things are not opposites. They are Yin and Yang. They are incredibly intertwined with one another. You truly cannot appreciate one without the knowledge of the other. The true opposite of all these things is simple indifference. It’s when you just don’t care about anything or anyone.
So yes, there will be pain. There will be days, especially in the world of inter-personal relationships, where circumstances make you want to go all recluse, or scream, or tear your hair out, or (my personal favorite) put your man’s clothes in his car and set it on fire in the front yard. But you have to learn to experience those feelings without letting them run your life. Live with them for a moment—trying not to break laws or do bodily harm to yourself or others in the process…a felony conviction will get you nowhere. Then put them in their place, sit back and declare the situation another FGE, and see what you can use for the next time. Because really, if not for a next time, how do you expect to ever have fun? Or in my case, good fuel for writing.
Yes, this is easier said than done, but with practice it gets easier. For me, I’m proud today that I put a priority on my feelings. Gold star for the day! Tomorrow is a new day, and who knows what other growing I might do.