Posts Tagged With: feelings

Don’t Ask Me How I Am

Here’s a confession… there is one question, above all other questions, that I despise most in this world. That question is, “How are you?”.

Know why?

Because people who ask this question usually fall into one of two categories:

1) They are people who don’t really care AT ALL how I’m doing. They simply ask because it’s their default introductory question. The social hurdle they must clear before getting to what they REALLY want to talk about, or the first in a series of questions they’d like to ask.

2) They are people who probably really want to know how I’m doing, but would prefer the abridged version because they just don’t have the time necessary to sit and hear me go into detail about the context and content of my complex emotional state.

And I hate it.

I hate fumbling about in a vain attempt to answer that irksome question to the satisfaction of either of these two kinds of people.

I hate it because I’m NOT that guy. I mean, I am A guy. But I’m not THAT guy… the one who will tell you how I am, when it’s obvious you don’t really care to know. I’m not interested in summarizing the content of my head and heart just to satisfy your short attention span, or relieve you of any residual heaviness the truth of “how I am” might bring you.

That might be someone else’s M.O., but it’s not mine.

My life is full.

It’s busy and it’s complicated and it’s hectic and it’s thriving and it’s awesome and it’s overwhelming and it’s gratifying and it’s exhausting… and it’s beautiful.

These are not things so easily consolidated into a brief prepared statement that creates no lingering emotional maze for you to navigate. If you dare climb aboard the roller coaster that is my life, you must be prepared for all the dips, turns and loops that come with it.

The kicker is that to a degree, I kind of get it. I mean, most men are not very expressive or in touch with their feelings. Unfortunately for some, I am both. I mean, I completely understand the terse kind of responses a “how are you?” would typically elicit. I’m just wired differently.

If you REALLY want to know how I am, at least give me the courtesy of stifling your look of impatience and apathy. Realize that there are times when I desperately NEED to tell someone how I am. I need to unload some of these mental and emotional weights. We all do at some point. If for no other reason that to position ourselves to start shouldering the next crate of life events arriving daily… non-stop… whether or not you’re prepared for them.

In that regard, I am no different.

So when I ask you, “How are you?”, just know that I genuinely want to know. I’m ready to ride that convoluted roller coaster you call life.

My question is… are YOU?

Categories: opinion, personal | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

Best Gift Ever

Introspection can be a wonderful thing.

Last night I was chatting with someone I deeply admire and whose attention I always appreciate. There’s one thing in particular that was said, that has been turning over in my mind ever since.  In response to my confession of getting a little teary-eyed while watching a movie, she said, “We can’t help it, Riis. We’re empaths. What we see, we experience. We feel it, too.”


I’m familiar with it. But I didn’t make the connection between it and the movie initially. I thought it silly to commiserate with fictional people. But it’s not necessarily the people as much as it is the experience. The feelings of loss, hurt, determination, overwhelming joy. And all at once I realized that it’s true. I can’t help it.

I believe that is the main reason why my capacity for grace and compassion is beyond measure. My nature is to BE empathic. It’s interesting because the logical, analytical part of me sometimes wonders why I’m this way. While the compassionate part of me can’t imagine not being this way. She also said, “Feeling without restraint. Best gift ever.”

Best gift ever.

Yeah, that it is. It’s a gift I wish more people possessed. To know the depth of someone’s pain or the height of their joy, to an intimate degree… can mean the difference between wise counsel and insensitive opinion. It turns acquaintances into friends and friends into brothers or sisters. It changes your perspective on the world itself. But I wouldn’t trade this for anything in it.




Categories: personal, stories | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

DOVE NOTE #70 – Request Denied

Sometimes I have very hard days that are not always due to someone or some thing in particular. This is the story of one particularly hard day. Hard in the sense that it was very long and very exhausting. Plus, due to circumstances surrounding the fact that we were up late chatting with in-laws who were staying with us at the time, I hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before. So it was a long, hard day, precipitated by sleep deprivation. Not a good combination. The events of the day went something like this…

Up by 6:00am and left for work.

Got home from work around 4:45pm and stayed for about an hour and a half for dinner.

Left for a recording session that started at 7:00pm.

Headed home from the recording session about 10:45pm.

Needless to say, by the time I got home I was completed whipped.

When I walked in, my wonderful wife (who was also overtaxed, though I didn’t know it at the time) was in the process of cleaning the kitchen. She was also on the phone. As usual, I walked over to her to for a kiss (it’s something I do before I leave and whenever I return home). I noticed she seemed a bit stressed so I asked, “Are you okay?” She told me that she’s really, really, really, really tired (yeah, 4 “really”s). She then cupped the phone and said, “Can you help me clean the kitchen?” So I did what many men would probably do and I replied with, “You should stop and just do this later.” Followed by a smile, mind you. 🙂

BZZZT! Sorry, that’s the WRONG answer!

Yeah, that was the wrong answer. See, I mistakenly addressed her exhaustion instead of her request for help with the kitchen.  This set off a chain of events that seemed to spiral down quickly. And as much as I tried to recover, I really only made things worse.  What should I have said?  “Sure babe, I’ll help you clean the kitchen.” Setting aside my exhaustion for the sake of demonstrable support, acknowledgement of how she was feeling and of course, love. Crazy how that didn’t register in my mind at the time. For me, suggestion that she simply stop and return to it later was meant to relieve her from the pressure of feeling obligated to get it done right then.  Unfortunately, it didn’t come across that way to her. It sounded more like a flat out refusal to help her after the trying day she’d had.

You live and you learn.

And what exactly was the lesson on this occasion? Simple. Offering someone your suggestion on how to “fix” a problem is NOT the same as actually helping them with it.

Categories: Dove Note, relationships, Series | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

DOVE NOTE #3: Take It Like A Man

(from the forthcoming book “Dove Notes”)

For most people, there will inevitably come a time in the relationship when the woman will take issue with something the man has or hasn’t done. This will usually result in a tirade of sorts, which details all of the many ways that he has failed and/or fallen short of her expectations. It is during these moments that the man must realize and accept his role in this situation: grin (or not) and bear it.

Now why would I tell you to do this? It’s simple really. As crazy as this might sound, she’s not exactly criticizing you. She’s actually expressing her disappointment in your actions in hopes that you will once again become her superhero, or at least the man she fell in love with.

Okay, so lets back up.  Here’s an example scenario and how it plays out…

You are watching TV and she comes and stands in front of you looking rather disheveled and clearly upset.

HER: I am so tired of you watching TV all the time! Whenever I look up, you’re watching TV! It’s like an addiction! You keep telling me you’ll take care of things as soon as the show ends, but I come back to find that you’re already watching ANOTHER show!

HIM: Wait. What?

(You try to look past her to see the TV, but notice the exaggerated movements of her arms and hands as if all at once they might disconnect from her body and fly straight toward your face.)

HER: I need you to be mindful of the rest of us. While you’re engrossed in your TV show, we’re right here in front of you. These are the times we could be spending together as a family. Instead, your head is somewhere else!  And you have the nerve to get an attitude with me when I interrupt you! This TV thing is driving me crazy!  I’m halfway thinking of getting rid of all the TVs in the house! 

(She pauses for a moment and takes a deep breath before continuing. She sounds much calmer.)

HER: You know, it would be a lot easier for me if you just had a set scheduled time to watch TV each day. That way I would know not to bother you or expect anything from you during that time. But this is getting out of hand.

HIM: Look, I…

She cuts you off.

HER: I don’t need you to explain. Just tell me. Can you give me a schedule?!?

(At this point, the conversation can go in two very different directions. You can stoke this fire until the ensuing inferno wounds everyone. Or you can diffuse the situation and simply say…)

HIM: Yeah, I can do that.

(She walks away.)

Now normally, the guy would take issue with what appears to be an attack on his character. But you have to learn to understand what she’s really saying to you. This is not a discussion. To her it’s not even an argument. She’s not expecting (and really doesn’t want) you to day anything. This is her telling you how she feels.  She’s letting you know that she enjoys being spending time with you and that doing so is important to her. She doesn’t want you to get defensive. She just wants you to acknowledge her frustration, and demonstrate that her feeling are important to you.  It’s like a bite with a kiss chaser.

If you can get past your bruised ego and issues with pride, you will find that she will draw closer to you for your sensitivity. You will score points for your selfless understanding and for validating her feelings. Which is all she really wanted in the first place. Just don’t try to understand the logic behind her method. You will only wind up hurting your brain.

Categories: Dove Note, Series | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Goes Love

A post on the effect of proper context. I’m amazed at how you can say the exact same thing in 10 different ways and have 10 very different meanings. So goes LOVE

“I love you!” – followed by a smile in response to something funny you did that made me fall out laughing.

“I love you” – preceded by “aww”, because of something you did that was extremely thoughtful and considerate of me.

“I love you” – while staring dreamily into your eyes when I realize how blessed I am to have you in my life.

“I love YOU” – so that you’ll know that this heart and these feelings are exclusively yours.

“I LOVE you” – in answer to your unspoken question when I’ve inadvertently offended you to prove it wasn’t intentional.

“I love you” – between breaths after mind-blowing sex.

“I… love you” – as a declaration of my commitment to you just before I get down on one knee and propose.

“I love you” – reaffirming the joy I have in providing for my family while heading out the door to work.

“I love you” – with a slight inflection while on the phone to let you know that I can’t wait to see you when I get home.

“I love you” – because of the way you love me.

I’m sure there are probably a hundred more I could come up with. I readily admit to having used every single one of these with my wife at one point or another. I believe that when you’ve given your heart to someone who values and cherishes it so deeply, you can never say “I love you” enough.

Categories: relationships, writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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