Speaking Russian

Years ago, my sisters and I came upon a concept that tried to explain why we chose to date men who really weren’t that good for us or matched who we were, why we had a type. It reasoned the we each walk around with a set of limitations, dysfunction, and excess baggage that is unique to ourselves, the language we unconsciously speak. Let’s call it “Russian”. So, you go to a party, a friend’s house, wherever and you meet someone you click with. He’s cute, witty, charming and you get each other because it turns out he speaks Russian too! Makes sense. So, we joked when we saw ourselves blindly doing the same things over and over again within our relationships and expecting different results, that we were speaking Russian and it was probably time to do some excavating.

In my twenties, I was speaking my own unconscious dialect of Russian with my ex-husband, and together we waltzed into a long dance of growing up, disappointment, and trying to figure out why we seemed to be so good on paper, when in reality ... not so much. It took years to figure out what the baggage was that I was carrying around and thought he was responsible for and visa versa. Eventually, we realized that although we were speaking the same language when we met, we were not speaking it at all anymore and moved on with love and respect. It was a good thing. 

I started to meditate to get a grip on shutting down the loops that occupied a huge space in my head, especially when people or situations didn’t turn out as I expected. I have always tended to perseverate and ruminate over the why, why, why!!! when I felt hurt, rejected, unheard and had handled early boyfriends and my marriage that way. I began learning that I really needed to see things and people just as they are, accept it, and move on. No regretting the past or clinging to what might be in the future, just an acceptance of what is and relaxing into being present. Meditation was helping me do this and get closer to what I really wanted and needed. Slowly, I was picking up a little Buddhist. I couldn’t watch the news in it (an accepted barometer for how well you speak a language), but I could get by. Great. I now had a rudimentary vocabulary in mindfulness.

So, feeling all full of myself and enlightened, I dipped my toe back in the dating pool. I met a beautiful man who saw me in a way I thought no one had before. I was all shiny and evolved and there were parts of me that really could only be healed when held up to the light of love with a partner. After all, there is a limit for how much self-love can fulfill you. I was cherished and desired in a way that I thought I never would be. The work I had done to become centered and clear was being rewarded with an amazing connection. The burst of energy at the onset was so joyful, true, and authentic. Intoxicating doesn’t begin to cover it and I was willing to do whatever it took to get another hit.

Unfortunately, what also happened in the light of love is that some issues hidden deep in the shadows of my heart also became illuminated. As the blush came off the rose, the relationship didn’t sustain that initial level of wonder and the confidence I had gained before I met him began to wain. Although I thought I had lost my ear, with very little coaxing, I was speaking my version of Russian again like a champ, with just a hint of Buddhist thrown in. I fell easily back into the maize of trying to see where we were going wrong and where the derailment began. I obsessed and looped over him al a Gidget and Moondoggie. Embarrassing, to say the least, but also very revealing. I was so worried about whether he would go away, that I disregarded the reality of who he was in lieu of the fantasy I wanted him to be, AND I started becoming who I thought he wanted, instead of honoring who I was. Yikes! Luckily, I got a grip and didn’t make a complete ass of myself while gracefully exiting the relationship.

Reading a book on how to ride a bike and thinking you can actually ride is like thinking that a couple of lessons in a new language will get you fluent. Assuming you know how to love, having only practiced on one relationship for thirty years, is kind of the same thing. Healing the dysfunctional parts of my dating-self needs to be done on the job and will take time and persistence. So, I am going back to work, going back in the pool one inch at a time. I did retain some new phrases in this process of love and loss. There is no shame in saying exactly how you feel and what you need, when you have done enough work to know your own crap and can own who you are. For me, love requires a leap of faith but I am willing to risk big. I went in with my whole heart and will do it again. Learning this new language takes commitment and effort but hopefully the rewards will be well worth it.