Thursday, August 22, 2013

Reframing the Problem

“Every problem is a gift - without problems we would not grow.”
                                         ― Anthony Robbins

If you were in a locked room with no windows, how would you get out?

At first, the answer may be that you COULDN'T get out.  I mean, how on earth could you manage to escape a locked room with no windows?  Do you imagine an empty room?  Do you imagine that you are alone? 

At second glance, however, there are a myriad of possibilities.  I didn't say that no one else ever entered the room, did I?  I didn't say that there wasn't a trap door that you could use to escape from below.  Or perhaps there's a ceiling above with removable tiles and you could stack books or blocks or bedding to reach it. 

I don't believe in insurmountable problems.  I believe that we can always re-frame the problem and search for the creative solution.  I faced one of these problems over the last year that really had blown my mind for quite a while. 

I had an issue with my Ex-Boyfriend.  (We'll just go ahead and call him "Ex" because there is no real chance of reconciliation and, thus, the name "Off Again" no longer applies.)  I believe he is of the mind that I am a lunatic.  Granted, he is the recipient of about 1,000 texts over the course of several years (1,000 MIGHT be an exaggeration) with me ranting LIKE a lunatic.  He is also the beneficiary of calls where I say "I am on my way to see you to discuss [insert A, B, or C]..."  I have wept and gnashed my teeth on more than one occasion. At first glance, it would appear that I am, indeed, a lunatic.

But, when you look around at ALL the facts, you will see that I was under undue strain during the course of our relationship. There are many intensely personal reasons behind my unraveling in this relationship that I won't share publicly but I think you get my meaning that there are multiple arguments I can use against the idea that I am a lunatic.  I don't know that he would accept any of them.  I don't know that he should because, quite honestly, there were times when I did BEHAVE very much like a crazy person.  Hint:   If you are behaving like a bonafide nut job in any relationship, you should probably go ahead and realize that relationship probably isn't healthy.  You should go ahead and end it.  If you find yourself hanging out a window and biting soap you MIGHT have a bit of a problem (I couldn't resist throwing that in...I have a friend who's going to LOVE that! And, to be clear, I have never hung out a window nor have I bitten soap.).  Just a little tip.

I have, however, re-framed this problem.   Around other people, I do NOT behave like a lunatic.  Oh, sure, I act silly sometimes and I'm a little (maybe a lot) on the bitchy side sometimes but I can say honestly that most people do not believe that my marbles are rolling around loosely in my head.  This is because I don't send other people 1,000 texts.  I am not constantly trying to figure out if other people are lying to me.  I don't weep around other people and apologize constantly and profusely for every real and imagined transgression.  I don't beg other people to love me (yes, literally...not figuratively...beg). I tend to trust other people and acknowledge that they enjoy my company and, therefore, I am at my sane best with them.  In short, with other people I am my authentic self and not some shell-shocked unrecognizable version of me. 

The problem, in this instance, lies in the relationship OR, if you want to be honest, the lack thereof.  See, I THOUGHT what we had was a real honest-to-goodness relationship.  But we didn't.  There was no solid ground.  And when solid ground does not exist, structures built tend to be a little shaky.  Or, in this case,  A LOT shaky.  The problem wasn't ME...and it wasn't HIM.  The problem was US.  Co-dependent much? 

I am seriously gun-shy after this relationship.  I don't trust myself to make good choices and I don't trust anyone else not to hurt an already bruised and battered heart.  I think it will be a while before I hit the ground running.

But by looking at the problem in a different light, I can at least acknowledge what I'm not looking for.  And I know how I shouldn't feel in a relationship.  The creative solution in this instance was NOT to try to patch up the plethora of holes.  The creative solution was for both of us to run in opposite directions from each other.  Being away from that relationship helps me to sleep easier and feel more like myself.  And I know that if I have the urge to send 1,000 texts, I should probably run as fast as I can in the other direction...or at least be sure that I have unlimited texting on my phone plan.

So, here are a few hints that you might need to re-frame your relationship issues (and when I say "re-frame," what I really mean is "get the hell out"):

  • If your partner ever uses the phrase "I don't really CARE how you feel."
  • If you ever find yourself misspelling texts because you are crying so hard you can't see.
  • If you feel the need to send more than 3 texts in one minute that include the words "a--hole," "WHY?" and/or more than one "please."
  • If you ever feel the need to ask your partner if they really love you.  Daily.
  • If you automatically assume that your partner is lying.
  • If you ever withhold thoughts and/or feelings from your partner because you're afraid of how they'll react.
  • If your partner controls when, how long and where you see each other.
  • If you ever spend more than 5 days not talking to your partner.  (For me, this is one day.  I really need communication..)
  • If you ever question the fact that you might actually be losing your sanity.
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