Don’t Let It Fester

So when I don’t like things in a relationship, my tendency is to distance myself or to find a new partner or to do passive aggressive things to hurt my partner or to send her a long angry email explaining precisely why I am upset.

These have not been helpful techniques for me to sustain relationships.

I’ve been letting a lot of things fester. I tell my therapist about what’s bothering me in my relationship. Then she says, "What if you told her?"

Oh, I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to fight. I don’t want to criticize. I don’t want to be needy. I don’t want to impinge.

I’m learning that I can share my feelings without doing any of those things. I often find that when I share my feelings of hurt about a phone call not being returned that she’s mad at me for not calling her before Shabbat.

I called her before Shabbat, but I called her at 12:30pm and she meant right before Shabbat, like 30 minutes before Shabbat.

And I was mad at her for consistently calling me back 30 minutes after yom tov began.

The more emotionally vulnerable I am, the more emotionally vulnerable she is. Then we both understand more about the other and we each feel more emotional safety and we both feel more trust and understanding and we get deeper into each other’s lives.

I often assuming she is thinking X, and I’m just wrong.

She often thinks I’m thinking X, and she’s just wrong.

It’s good to let kisses linger but it’s bad to let bad feelings fester.

Mastery and vulnerability are big words in my therapy these days. When I master things and people, I feel confident. When I struggle, I feel vulnerable.

I’ve been sick a lot since Rosh Hashanah. This makes me feel vulnerable.

I’ve done some good writing despite this in my storytelling class. This makes me feel confident.

I have not been earning much money from my blogging (or other work). This makes me feel vulnerable.

I’m making moderate progress with my Alexander Technique training. I have two years to go before I am certified. This makes me feel vulnerable. I have no idea how I will pay my remaining $15,000 tuition. This makes me feel really vulnerable.

During much of 2009, I was dating someone who had left me twice — for another girl! That made me feel really vulnerable.

I completed my conversion to Orthodox Judaism. That made me feel mastery.

My position in Orthodox Judaism is still tenuous. That makes me feel vulnerable.

When I am mastering my life and have a secure income coming in, I’m less vulnerable to the ups and downs of love.

I feel like I am on the right path in my life but everything is a struggle, so I feel vulnerable.

I had a friend tell me today: "Living in conformity or living in rebellion are just two sides of the same coin. Neither one is living in freedom. I’m 65 and I’m just learning this."

I love washing dishes. I grew up in a cold home. My dad believed in fresh air, so even in winter, the windows were often open and gales blew through. By washing dishes, I could plunge my arms into hot water and warm up. It also gave me a concrete feeling of accomplishment.

Happiness is cleaning up a mess.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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