Thursday, March 3, 2011

Tolerations - Part I

When I was planning for my time off I'd made a list of a few things that I wanted to try to knock off the to-do list. You know those things that you've been "meaning" to do for ages? Yeah, I know you do. You've probably thought of five in the time you've read these first few sentences. They're not even things that take very long. Maybe even minutes. But you just never quite get around to it. I've been trying to tackle them when I need some time away from being introspective or when trying to listen to my head vs. my heart is making me feel completely schizophrenic.

When I was interviewing life coaches, one of them talked about clearing out "tolerations" before delving into trying to work on an area of focus or moving towards a goal. So, what's a toleration? I found a pretty good description on another life coach's website (Donna Schilder).

"We all have unpleasant conditions in our lives that cause us stress.  We may try to ignore these situations, but they still affect us.  If the condition could be eliminated, it is called a toleration...It’s the rug that you trip over every day on the way out the door, the room you cringe as you walk by because it needs to be painted, the nail biting habit you know you should stop, but just don’t."

Sound familiar? The life coach I interviewed had given me an example of a guy who every morning would take a shower and his sprinklers would kick on blasting him with cold water. He had been tolerating this morning ritual for months and couldn't do much to explain why he hadn't taken the three minutes to change the sprinkler timer. Now, of course, hearing this story makes him sound like an idiot. But, honestly, I totally get it!

According to Donna's website, other examples of tolerations include:
  • A desk stacked with paper
  • A co-worker who spends all day complaining
  • Limited trunk space in your car because it’s filled with miscellaneous gear
  • Not exercising when you know you should
The key seems to be that it's a stressor that could be eliminated. These aren't things that you don't care about. They're things that eat up your time, money, or mental energy - perhaps without you even realizing it.

But enough background. Let me tell you a little bit about one of my more interesting tolerations. I have lived in four states in five years. So I've moved a lot of boxes. I've cleared stuff out every time I move to try to minimize the amount of crap that moves with me. But I have a few items that always take up way too much space in the spare closet.
  • One box of stationary, consisting of thank-you notes, spare invitations, and completed response cards
  • Five photo albums, each missing random photos throughout
  • A scrapbook of a trip through California from 2003
  • Two matching bridesmaid dresses; size 8 and 12
  • One wedding dress
  • One engagement ring
  • One wedding ring
So, this is a bit of a long story, but I promise it's a pretty good one. It's going to take me two posts to tell you about it.

Several years ago my boyfriend at the time asked me to marry him. We had been together for about three years and were living together. It wasn't a perfect relationship; I'd wished he was more affectionate and open, and wanted him to communicate more. But we were incredibly compatible. We loved to do the same things, made each other laugh hysterically, and were never bored together. We were a great match in so many ways, even if I didn't even feel like he only saw me when he looked from across the room. When he proposed, I took it as a sign of the validation of his love that I had been looking for. So I said yes on the balcony of a rooftop restaurant overlooking downtown San Diego (where we were living).  There were the requisite tears and applause from the other restaurant patrons who witnessed the proposal.

And so we dove into planning. We set a date for about a year out and set off to execute the monumental list of tasks that a wedding of 120 people requires. Life went on during our planning; I was working long hours and our time together centered around conversations about seating assignments and what to put on the invitation when the bride doesn't speak to her father but doesn't feel right about being "given away" by her step-father either.

About five weeks before the wedding date was due to arrive we were discussing getting the marriage license on the phone while I was travelling for work. Something wasn't feeling right and I said I thought we should wait to talk about it until I got home the next day. I came home that Friday night. To say that things were strange when I got home is an understatement. I knew something was wrong the second I walked in the door. I changed and came downstairs to ask what was wrong. After a few "nothings" he mumbled, barely audible, "I can't do it". Initially I'm processing this thinking "he can't do what? Laundry? Walk the dog?". But he wasn't talking about the laundry. After a seriously strained back and forth and me vomiting in the bathtub I had very few answers. All I knew was that he wasn't sure what he wanted to do and was having second thoughts.

We waited a few painful days and headed off to see the world's shittiest therapist. After the therapist visit it was clear we wouldn't be visiting her again, but also clear that the wedding needed to be called off. I was angry and told him he was responsible for dismantling the event, but I was also concerned about him since he couldn't articulate what was wrong. In between fits of tears I called his family to tell them what was happening and asking them to reach out and take care of him since I couldn't do it. I didn't want to kick him out (I owned the place we were living), especially since our status was still unclear in my mind, so I went to stay a couple miles away at my parent's house while they were away in Europe. I continued to ask him if he wanted to break up. If this meant things were over or if this was just about the wedding. But all he could muster was "I don't know". I was starting to become frustrated and a bit suspicious. So I checked his email account to see if I could find anything about what was going on.

He had posted my engagement ring on Craigslist. He was selling it. Without a word. Without any indication he didn't want to move forward. It was definitely over.

And I was going to kick the living shit out of him...

1 comment:

  1. omg please continue I'm waiting with baited breath! Cruel to just stop...