Being yourself

How was your weekend? Mine was pretty quiet, which meant I got to do a lot of thinking.

I thought about sofas. I thought about wet rooms. I thought about book shelves. I thought about where the pantry cupboard should go. I thought about what I should cook for dinner this week.

And for some reason, I thought about how hard I made gift giving for my ex. And I felt bad about all the gifts that he would carefully plan and give to me that I didn’t appreciate.

Eventually he gave up trying.

I wish I could go back and receive them properly. Most of them are gone now, flung in a fit of marriage breakdown pique.

There are people who get agitated when I say stuff like this. They reckon he made things hard for me. But the truth is that we made things hard for each other.

In the early years of our relationship, my ex was a troubled soul who struggled to stay on an even keel. I found that exhausting. Later on, there was a lot of unresolved anger bubbling inside him. I found that intimidating.

As for me, I felt like I had to be in total control of everything at all times. No signs of weakness could ever be shown.

It meant I was pretty closed off from the “real” me. And I have no idea how I thought that was a good thing.

I don’t think my ex would recognise the person I am now – this woman who loves being in the ocean and marvelling at natural beauty and going to see concerts and watching live comedy and roaring with laughter while sitting in an outdoor spa in torrential rain.

I was unmoved by such things when I was with him.

The only concerts I would go to were Neil Finn ones. He humoured me by attending a few in our happier years. Towards the end of our relationship I asked for tickets to a Neil Finn concert for my birthday, presuming he would come with me, and he looked at me like I was completely mad.

Speaking of concerts, I convinced the eldest to watch Stop Making Sense with me on Saturday night. It’s a famous film of a Talking Heads performance. I’d never seen it before and I absolutely LOVED it. David Byrne is incredible – his voice and energy are remarkable.

While he was singing “This must be the place” I started crying.

I wasn’t crying because it was sad, I was crying because it was wonderful.

I don’t cry when I listen to studio recorded music, well, other than during break-ups while playing Nothing Compares 2 U on high rotation.

But I usually cry at some point during live performances these days. In recent times that’s included Fleetwood Mac – I forget which song, probably Landslide – and New Order performing Bizarre Love Triangle and Neil Finn singing Distant Sun.

Even Robbie Williams got me going when he warbled “Love my life”.

Researchers Katherine Cotter and Paul Silvia of the University of North Carolina, and Kirill Fayn of the University of Sydney, collaborated a few years ago on research to investigate the emotions that people experience when music makes them feel like crying.

The majority of those surveyed  – 63% – reported feeling sad when music made them cry, while 36.7% reported feeling awe.

The participants in the study had been given a psychological test to classify them according to five personality attributes — neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. When the researchers sorted the data, they found that people who ranked high on the neuroticism scale experienced sadness when they had been moved to tears by music, and people who scored high in the openness to experience scale felt like crying because the music provoked a profound sense of awe.

And that blows my mind a bit, because it reflects my recent path to openness, which I hope to continue travelling along.

Anyways, I think what I’m trying to say with this long-winded blog post is:

a) Appreciate the thought – and love – behind the gift, even if the gift itself isn’t quite what you had in mind. I was so hung up on the importance of my partner choosing the “perfect” gift for me (without giving any guidance) and feeling that I wasn’t “understood” if he didn’t nail it.

b) Marriages are complicated things. While there might be problems between you, there could also be problems within yourself. In my case: why wasn’t I being my true self in my relationship? Would my marriage have benefited from me getting help with that? Actually, now that I come to think of it, b) has a lot in common with a) – I expected him to understand me without providing any guidance.

Check out Stop Making Sense on Youtube if you get the chance. It’s a great way to spend 90 minutes.






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