I was sitting in meditation the other day and I had a flash. This happens sometimes, seemingly out of nowhere comes this thought that seems, in the moment, revolutionary. A fundamental shift in my perception of something that while being rather revitalizing, also at the same time, kind of seems like DUH!
I love this about meditation, this avenue for allowing my mind to rest in a place where something new can happen. Some different thought about the same thoughts can come like a bolt from the blue and change the way that I think and feel...usually about myself.
So the most recent one actually came because I was thinking of someone else. Her issues, her problems. I was just sitting there, placing my mind in loving kindness and this friend and her recent predicament was on my mind. I wasn’t actively thinking about it...just there in the background. My mind wandered, as minds tend to do, and I thought about how this new man that she met was vexing her. They met the other night and he showed a great deal of interest but then seemed to not be willing to follow through. We discussed the options and decided that she should just hang back and wait to see what he did next. Being pursued a great aphrodisiac. In fact, I would say that it is the one that is hotter than almost any other. For me, knowing I am on someone’s mind and they can’t stop thinking about me, the highest form of sexual interest.
I digress. So we had settled on her course: she would not text, call or otherwise show interest, let him come to her. Be pursued. If he didn’t pursue, then oh well. This is where we left it in our last conversation.
As I was sitting there in lotus this thought came: MOVE TOWARD. That was all. At first, it was unspecified. It was not directed anywhere but straight at my heart. It just sat there like a dog waiting to be fed. But then as I attempted to return to the breath, it, also like a dog, followed me. It remained with me, and wouldn’t leave.
So I continued my mediation being watched by the dog like thought of food, except it was thought of Moving Toward.
At the conclusion of my mediation, I realized that “moving toward” was an instruction. Something that I was now supposed to incorporate in my life. It was somewhat incongruent. I was a lifetime committed to moving away. Literally. I have moved away my whole life. From houses, locations, lovers, friends, boyfriends. Moving Away could be my life's mantra. It is what I have been practicing since I was a little kid. At first at the US Army’s behest, then at my own. Moving away was a safety mechanism. A manner in which I could feel safe, controlled, unshakeable.
As I sat there untangling myself from yoga after meditation, it occurred to me that, perhaps, I was wrong. All these years my lesson was to move toward, not away.
Let me break it down:
In intimate relationships I was always doing this calculated dance, keeping myself in lock step with my partner. If he moved toward me, then I moved toward him. If he took a tiny step back, so did I. If he took a giant step back, then I took several giant steps back. And so it went. I was always matching or outdoing whatever intimacy my partner was throwing my way. It was a constant, often painful manner of living. Moving toward only possible when initiated by my other half. This wasn’t only just in dating relationships, it was really in everything that I did. However, dating and loving are where I see it most acutely.
I was always afraid of risk. I didn’t want to seem too needy or more into him than he me. It was a game of appearances which never really got me where I wanted to go. I was just mirroring him. The integrated me, lost and unreachable due to my own commitment to never make the first move. If he texted, I texted back. If he called, I returned the call. I the passive, he the aggressor.
This was not a new thought or insight. I know that I have done this for years. What was new was my thought about what to do now. Move Toward.
In all my dealings, moving toward wasn’t ever really an option. It was too risky. He would think that I liked him too much. I would appear needy. I would seem silly or frivolous. No, I would play it cool and he would either pursue me or not.
As I sat there, reeling from this new perspective, I realized that perhaps moving toward didn’t mean what I thought it did. It was definitively riskier. It was also more honest and authentic. Why would I not move toward someone I was interested in. Just because I said, “hey, I like you and am interested in getting to know you better.” Does not mean that I am falling in love with you and can’t live without you. So why did it feel that way?
Perhaps moving toward could be less risky. Perhaps, meeting someone that lights a spark in me would result in something different happening, if I just decided on my own steps, they free to follow along or not. Perhaps my whole life of waiting for them to tell me what my next move was, disempowering and also disappointing.
Did I now possess the self confidence to just move toward someone? Not at full speed, not without boundaries and caution, but to not let my perception of the other person’s behavior be the only thing that stops me from moving forward.
I called my friend because it felt revolutionary to me. I told her to call the guy and invite him to coffee. Be unequivocal in her interest. It was only interest in coffee not in a lifetime commitment that she was communicating. Take charge of what she wanted, make it known, clear and communicated. If he was not interested, he would let her know. She would then know that this was not going anywhere. She would be spared weeks of time wondering about why he did this and didn’t do that. She would know that he shared an interest or couldn’t be bothered. She would not have to examine every single text message for an ulterior motive.
She was not professing undying love. She was just telling him that she was interested enough in him to go to coffee. That is all. Why did it always seem like more? Why did my lifelong response to liking someone to pretend like I didn’t? Why was I always and forever ceding control to him? Allowing him to be the one that decided where and when?
Fear. That is why. I was afraid and so was she. Fear of rejection, this reigning in all other options. But in this moment, fear begged the question. Why would I wait and be coy? Why wouldn’t I, instead, reach out to this other person that held my initial interest and not move toward him to see if there was really anything there? In the end, what I was most afraid of was letting them know that I cared. Somehow getting the very fucked up message that the best way to develop a relationship ,to pretend that you aren’t interested...Jeez, I get it so wrong sometimes.
You know what she did? She called him and asked him to coffee. You know what he did, he came and picked her up and then went to coffee and had a lovely time. It might end right there. It might continue. It might become an amazing friendship of two people who share some common interests. It might become a passionate, intense sexual relationship. It might become both or neither. But she might have missed it had she not been willing, at least initially to move toward.
For me, this appears to be where my work is. To move toward people in my life, to let them know that I care and am interested. In men that I might date, in friendships that I might deepen, in relations with my children and parents. I might not wait for them to make their own intentions clear, instead moving towards them with a clearness that has been absent for too long. Moving toward does not mean that I am over committing or being more invested than the other person. Moving toward is just owning my reality. That this other person is someone that I am willing to give my time to, to get to know them. To honor their personhood with my attention.
How good does that feel? To have someone turn their attention onto you? Appears that is the gift I have been unable or unwilling to give in my life because I was too insecure to allow myself the dignity of risk. Moving away the safer methodology but in the opposite direction of where I wanted to go. Turns out it is very hard to get closer by moving away. Inching forward a better manner in which to approach intimate relationships. Moving toward with an openness to allow whatever lesson we are going to teach each other to happen, at whatever pace it does...or doesn’t.
Seems like this is where my work is. To move toward the things that scare me. The intimacy. The love. The interest. Move toward others by wholly occupying myself. Who knew?