As you may or may not know, I have been in a relationship for most of the year. It was not expected, and I tried to see other people in the beginning. This is why I cannot define when it ‘officially’ started; the feeling of wanting to be with this person was always there, it was when it prevailed over wanting to look for anything else. My coaching teacher Mark England explains to us that comfortable trumps confidence - that is what I felt, comfortable. Like this was something I was just doing now, in the same way I just wear pants…you know?
The universe has sent me a genuinely lovely, kind and caring man, who makes me laugh and smile super hard, and is a generally responsible human (you will be surprised how I have struggled to find the latter quality).
But there are challenges.
The main one is that there is space between us.
Two thousand two hundred and eighteen miles to be precise.
I have not done this before, or at least not with any success. In the past, I have experienced three fucking awful break-ups based simply on me going on holiday, so needless to say, this made me nervous.
Relationships are brilliant reminders of both how far you have come and how far you still have to go. They show us where we are comfortable, and where we really are not. But as you know, I like to think of everything as a lesson, not a test (even when it is fist-clinchingly testing). As with this space comes much time to ruminate, and oh how I have!
I would like to share with you now, some of my inner madness and what I have learned from it. Because I believe, dear reader, that you may have an experience that feels similar, and perhaps what I have learned will help you feel seen and acknowledged, or terrified, I am willing to take that risk. For after all, we are walking each other home.
The over arching theme throughout this whole thing, and in fact the whole year, is trust. Turns out, I have not had much. Not when it comes to other people anyways. I was terrified to tell my friends, because I was also terrified that he would disappear. As you may already know, modern dating is ruthless, and those of us with skin in the game for while have definitely been a ghoster or a ghostee - and with thousands of miles between us if he was to do such a thing how would I be able to brick his windows or throw a drink over him?
I joke…sort of…
It all comes back to stories of being abandoned in some way, of feeling rejected, of not being good enough. Most of us have stories like this, and they hurt. They hurt even more when we push them down.
Imagine for a moment, if you will, boiling veg on the hob. You set to a reasonable heat (or, if like me, the highest one because time is cooking etc), pop the lid on and potter off. After a while, you hear a frantic commotion and release that oh my god the water is boiling over! It looks dramatic, it sounds dramatic. The water crashes down the side of the pan and into the fire, sharp hisses pierce the air. And the moment you take the lid off to ease the pressure, everything becomes calm again. What needs to flow over the pan does so, what remains remains. Leave the lid on however, then catastrophe, or at the very least a burned bottom will prevail.
This is the nature of the storywork coaching process I have been going through for 3 years now. It allows me to identify and bring to the surface what has caused me undue pressure from the past. I know these stories, I know the names of the characters and I know how utterly shit I felt at the time. I also know that I can outsource my own personal responsibility toward my healing with the words I use - ‘he made me feel this way, and whenever he does x it reminds me of him and then I feel triggered’. In this sentence, I have completely placed the responsibility for how I feel on to another, and chances are that other person does not know anything about this. So not only am I outsourcing responsibility, I am projecting an old relationship on to another to see if the outlines are the same. Most of the time they are not, but for the split second they are, I grapple for it. I also sound whiney and annoying.
Why, I hear you ask. Because then my ego can reinforce some negative core beliefs I have been trying to rid.
Let me give you an example;
An unanswered phone can set me off. The first sign in the demise of the exes that perished from my holidays was an unanswered phone. So I call, and there is no answer, and I am feeling vulnerable that day for whatever reason, and suddenly I am not Kate Tittley aged 35 living her best life in Manchester. I am Kate Tittley catapulted back in to a time where I knew something was wrong, the other person would not admit it and was instead ignoring me and I could feel that and I am feeling embarrassed and ashamed and hurt and confused and what the hell changed over night and answer the bloody phone you twat!
Perfectly rational (insert eye-roll and terror emoji here).
In the words of Brene Brown, that is story I am telling myself. In actual fact, my person spends most of his time in or at sea. He also is notoriously shite at knowing the location of or answering his phone. Nothing malicious is afoot. So, do I trust that and relax, or do I sit there stewing over how much I am going to tear him a new arsehole when he calls because he is out to get me? Most of the time, option one, I breathe, I centre, I divide the stories. However I have totally sat with option two. And when he calls sounding like an Arabic Captain Birdseye regaling me with tales of the ocean and how lovely I am, I make disgruntled Ab Fab-style wails and look utterly deranged.
The old chorus from my younger years of ‘trust nobody, you are on your own’ wants to surface, to protect me and my fears. But the distance between love and fear is an optical illusion; they are so close. You can either decide that everyone is out to shaft you and treat all who cross your path with suspicion. Or that everyone you meet is here to elevate you in some way, that each experience is part of the movement of your journey even if that journey gets a bit wavy. It is a continuous practice to change the narrative, and much like learning a dance or a yoga sequence, it gets easier the more you repeat it.
I have also found myself projecting my ego on to friends, like a weird little Gollum, when everyone knows I am Galadriel (the Cate Blanchett version not the annoying af Prime debacle).
We all have an inner critic; in storywork practices we give them a name to separate them from what is actually happening. Mine is called Stacey (sorry if that is also your name, it is not personal). Stacey tells me that I make bad choices, that I have always done something wrong, I don’t do enough for others, and that I just need to keep my head down and keep working to show I am valuable. None of which is helpful. See, Stacey tells me my biggest insecurities (these are different to intuition, more on that in a bit), and helps me find ways of bringing them to life, aka projection.
However, the Universe had bigger plans. It sat me next to a human manifestation of Stacey at an event I went to in the Summer. She said all of the negative things I was thinking, she was rude, self-centred, and even though I had known her for a few hours snidely implied I had not paid her enough attention. It was amazing, and gross. I needed a hot shower, a primal scream and an exorcism after the interaction. The manifestation of all my negative thoughts in front of me not only knocked me sick, it kicked me back in to touch. None of the things the Stacey I had manifested were accurately describing my life, my actions, or the views of those who care about me. By having them out of my head and in front of me (a process I usually do through writing) I was able to see how far removed they were from the facts, and thus their control over me began to dissolve. My actual friends (you’re one of them bbz ;) ) are majestic people, generous with their love and emphatic with their support - they are a true blessing, and sharing my inner world with them really does feel like a Bailey’s hot chocolate on a festive day.
With all this icky stuff bubbling to the surface, is it possible to attribute it to intuition? That perhaps the reason why all this rises, is because the relationship is, in fact, a bad idea?
And I will tell you for why.
I have ignored my intuition in the past. I have gone right when every fibre in my being said left. I have stayed when I could have walked, resulting in having to crawl coz my knees got clobbered. I am as well versed in doing what is not right for me as well as what is. And I know the difference in feeling, I know exactly where it is in my body.
My intuition is telling me that I gotta feel it to heal it, because what is on the other side of that is what I have been aiming for since I finally got clear on what I wanted -
And that is absolutely worth a few wobbles for.
Questions, comments, feedback, let me know, love to hear them!
And if you would like any further info on storywork or how to beat your inner critic, drop me a message email@example.com and we can hook up xoxo