Note: This post is a response to this comment on yesterday’s post.
Obsessing. All or nothing.
Yes, yes, yes, you know me. Which is why I bother asking. Sometimes I can’t see the obvious things about me and the world I live in. But you can see it.
I … I obsess. I don’t know another way to be. I don’t know how to do something halfway. I’m either doing it or I’m not doing it, right? Whether I’m doing it fast or slow, giving all I’ve got to offer or just ‘phoning it in’, I’m doing it. How could it be any other way? I suppose there’s quitting half-way, but like a differential, right up until the moment one quits, one is doing it – and then they’re not. There is no halfway.
I obsess. I get the idea in my head to do something, and if I’m going to do it I’m going to do it. Why waste time and energy doing something if you know from the start you plan to quit somewhere down the line? Or here, let me re-word that so it’s closer to how I usually approach things now: If you know you don’t want to go past a certain point in an activity, or that you’re only becoming involved because you enjoy the activity itself and not because the activity is a means to an end, then approach it knowing full-well what you’re trying to do. Know where you’re headed and where you’ll stop and why you’re doing it. Realize the activity is the end, and that by doing it you are successful.
But yeah, all or nothing. Like the iron work I wasn’t personally interested in doing or learning to do – I still gave it my all, I bent that steel as accurately and quickly as I could and cut the stock to the exact lengths creating the highest quality output I could & doing as much of the hard stuff as possible to not over-tax my grandfather. I didn’t complain at all. I followed directions and offered helpful suggestions and got the work done. This is why I’m here. To help my grandparents to the best of my ability. Why do a thing at all if you aren’t going to try to do your best?
Or like why I don’t want to re-enter the workforce: I doubt I could give my all working for a company if I didn’t care about what I was doing or had any better reason to do so than to maintain the status quo… so if I’m not going to try to do my best, why bother doing at all? Instead I do things I care about with as much energy and accuracy as I have in me.
Argh. I’m off topic. What was the topic? Dating? Zoe said “You were always so focused on the end-game, or obsessing over any number of single people that you never let yourself “date” and experiance the entire dating scene, so you lack those valuable skills, and now, when you finally are starting to let yourself experiance that, you beat yourself up over it so bad you will never let yourself develop those skills, because in the mind of teel there is no grey areas, no skill ark, its always pass or fail, all or nothing, perfection or crap.”
And I wish I knew what he meant when he referred to “the entire dating scene” Or really, what ‘dating’ means. What it was I wasn’t doing. Because, seriously, I know I missed something, and I know what I was doing, but … God, I’m an idiot sometimes. And I figured out I’d been missing something important about dating, and I’m not sure I thought of it as a ‘scene’, but maybe… and in the last five years I’ve been trying to figure out what I was missing and go get it. And I gave trying to figure it out my all, and I couldn’t. I learned so much about relationships that I found myself counselling friends and strangers, teaching people how to be more successful and happy and fulfilled and fulfilling in their relationships, and it was almost enough to make me want to just give up hope because for all I could learn or teach about relationships, the steps between strangers or friends and ‘dating’ or other more serious relationships are still foreign to me.
So yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s what scared Danielle away; I missed the in-between and just went straight to the emotional intimacy that I suppose normal people avoid until some magical date down the road. And I tried to explain it to her, that I don’t know what the in-between is supposed to be, and she just freaked out. And I tried to get her ideas on what the in-between is supposed to be like, and she thought I was being patronizing. Patronizing, while I felt like a child, ignorant of the ways of the world. And I tried to go back and do the in between as best I can guess it ought to be done, and she got mad and stopped talking to me. And while I’ll admit that there may have been something not-quite-right about her reactions, I’m more likely to believe that it was my actions that were the problem.
“No skill ark,” yes. Like most everything else in my life. I tend to believe that things in the future will be similar to things in the past. And in the past when I tried to learn something, to practice some new skill, what I found was that once I understood what it was I was supposed to be trying to do, I was doing it well. Like when I started at Prints Plus, it didn’t take 100 prints or a dozen prints for me to get the hang of framing prints. It took two. And after two, I was already better than the friend who got me the job there and had been doing it for months and months. Or with bending scrolls this week. I stood by my grandfather as he tried to put the scroll bending attachment on his compact bender & figure out the instructions, and then I offered a little help, finished assembling it correctly, and only reading one word on the instructions page, assisted him in creating the first scroll. And I’ve seen finished scrolls, but I’d never bent metals or seen anyone bend them or use a machine like this, and because my grandfather read the instructions wrong the first scroll was a slightly looser scroll than he would have liked, but as soon as I stepped up to the machine, BANG! I bent out 15 identical scrolls.
Or drawing. I never thought I could draw. And then I tried, and found I could draw a little. And then I took Drawing I at ASU with a teacher that instead of explaining how to draw, simply said “draw”, and I found I could do better than most everyone, using techniques I’d never heard of or thought of, even on my bad days. And I ordered this correspondence Art course and finished the first two units they sent me within a few hours – while they assummed it should take not less than two weeks to complete the second unit alone.
And everything else I do up here seems to involve some thing I’ve never done or thought of before, and often even just in briefly describing what he’ll ask me to do the next day or the next week my grandfather will get upset at me for being ignorant of the tools and materials and techniques he’s describing. But then he puts the tools in my hands and shows me the materials and describes the technique again briefly, and most of the time – BOOM! I’m doing it. Sure, I seem to have a physical handicap that’s keeping me from welding well (my dad thinks it’s an occlusion on my cornea), but if I think of my welding as welding blind, I was doing pretty well. I still don’t want to go back to welding, since I can’t see what I’m doing and have to work by feel and imagination, but I’d be willing to bet that if I did go back and try welding a second time I’d be twice as good as I was before. (Paritally because I won’t be trying to see anything next time.)
I don’t know. Maybe I have a handicap that keeps me from seeing whatever it is I’m supposed to for dating. I tend to think it’s that I don’t understand what it is I’m supposed to be doing that I’m not doing it well. No one’s been able to give me even the brief description that my grandfather offers for most tasks about what I’m supposed to be doing. What ‘dating’ is. How to be a member of ‘the dating scene’. What I’m supposed to be trying to do to get from strangers to ‘dating’, or how to know when I’m there.
Wait… I have something here…
I was watching About A Boy recently… and .. yes… here it is…
There’s a scene at the Zoo, with monkies in the background, and the younger boy (because really the man is just a boy in a man’s body) was asking about dating and how you know whether what you’re feeling is the stuff of relationships, and Hugh Grant’s character’s stupid response was “Well, do you want to touch her?” See, he’s been shagging so many different women for so long with no real emotional attachments, his first reaction was to think of relationships as being based around sex. But then the boy said something smart. He said “I wanna be with her more. I wanna be with her all the time. And I wanna tell her things I don’t even tell you or mom. And I don’t want her having another boyfriend. I suppose if I could have all those things… I wouldn’t really mind if I touched her or not.”
And yes, Hugh told him he’s learn how important touching was when he got older, but that’s not the point. See, that description… it feels right. When I say I’m attracted to someone, that’s usually what I mean. Sure, sometimes I’m attracted to someone in a purely physical way. I have a libido. But what I really want is someone I can be with ‘all the time’, someone I can talk openly to about everything, someone who is ‘dating’ me and no one else. Sure, I look forward to someday getting married, growing a family, all that… but that doesn’t happen overnight. Not if you want it to last. So what I want is … a significant other. Monogamously, if possible. And I’m keeping my eyes open, but…
I worry. I’m shy. I’m missing ‘valuable skills’ for the ‘dating scene’.
And in case you hadn’t noticed, my life isn’t exactly normal.
I’m not entirely useless. I did have something somewhat like what I want, a few years ago with Alison. I got to see her all the time and I talked with her about everything and she wasn’t seeing anyone else (that I know of), and for a time, we were happy. And I can’t remember exactly what went wrong (and she won’t say), but something like she became distant (emotionally) and I reacted poorly… I don’t know. Knowing me, I probably said something awful, but when I think about the sort of relationship I want to have, the pseudo-relationship I had with Alison all those years ago is the closest thing I can remember happening to me. And not that I want to go back to her, but that I want to have something with that sort of feeling. Physical closeness (as oppossed to living a dozens or thousands of miles apart and never seeing each other) combined with emotional availability, plus exclusiveness.
Is that too much to ask?
Maybe it is, right now. Maybe my current lifestyle doesn’t allow for sociability, for ‘dating’. I tell you though, I’m willing to change my lifestyle to accommodate this thing that feels so missing from my life.