If you’ve read my story about Uncle Huggy’s Magical World, you’d be at least subliminally aware that I’d been dating a New Age Girl for a while. And that we’d been having some problems.
I want to start off by saying I have nothing against the New Age community. I think it’s great that people of a certain level of having been damaged in their lives and who now seek a certain peace of mind can find a network of people in the same boat who show genuine support and affection for one another.
You really don’t see a lot of that shit in places today.
Except maybe in a biker gang.
It’s just that rising action of my episodic story here comes tied to the plot coagulator that most of them, this New Age Girl included, cannot and could not function outside of that network or community, in the parts that were encompassed by the larger, perhaps lesser known sphere (to them) called the REAL WORLD, without serious deficiencies.
And their ideated perfect partners, it turns out, could not be someone who didn’t, simultaneously and religiously, engage in invariably similar, exploratory recreational activities to the exact same degree.
So, after about nine months of dating each other rolled around, because I was not New Age, and no longer exploratory, this New Age Girl began to seriously question what we were doing together.
She would often have moments of deep affection and utter joy, but these were countered by many more moments of doubt, with a stage show of glazed-over eyes, standing stock-still, repeated head nodding to some internal conversation she was having in real time and a general, complete lack of what she touted as “being present,” as I stood right in front of her, actually present, staring, mouth agape, trying to figure out what the hell she was doing.
Like the time she asked me if I felt we shared the same “life metaphors,” and if we didn’t…well, I don’t think it actually ever occurred to her that I would give her the answer I did. “You don’t have to answer right away,” she loved to tell me (what to do). “We can talk about it later.”
I had to look up what a ‘life metaphor’ was. And then I made the mistake of telling her I didn’t have any. That I’d grown up and put that shit behind me. Figured most all of it out.
And she did that thing again. Glazed eyes. Head nodding. It was like I wasn’t even in the room anymore.
I blame, really, the source of being unable and unwilling to continue to work out the kinks and the friction in the relationship on something called the New Age Paradox.
And, by way of anecdotal example, here it is:
I, or anyone, would do or say something deemed conflicting or conflict-generating. (The definition of “conflict” being found in a mental dictionary accessible only to the New Age Girl.) She would deem it violent, aggressive, disingenuous or otherwise something that did not serve to foster a healthy relationship between us. She would then posture in such a self-absorbed-yet-passive way as to make this evident to me (pushing the envelope of passive-aggressiveness, but almost never opening it).
I would recognize it and say, “Hey, it wasn’t my intent to upset you. I’m really sorry.”
She would finally say, “I’m noticing that what you said made me feel this way.”
I would say, “My intent was, rather, this.”
She would say, “How about just noticing how you’re feeling and just being curious about that, instead of trying to explain?”
Then, being misunderstood from the start and already being accused of something I didn’t mean to do, I would say, “But it wasn’t my intent to make you feel the way you felt. It obviously upset you.”
She would then be silent again. With head nods. And glazed-eye blinkings. Many, many glazed-eye blinkings.
Then I would say, “Is there anything I can do right now?”
And she would say, “We’re not responsible for each other’s emotional well-being. I just need to process through this at my own pace.”
And I would say, at a total loss for what to do, “Then I’ll just let you do that. Go rub one out, or something.”
Then she would say, “Our sexual needs are our own responsibility.”
So I would say, grabbing my keys, “Ah, screw it. I’m just gonna go grab an enchilada. You want one?”
Which would bring her right out of it, knowing I was serious, and she would exclaim, “Don’t go! How can we work through this if you’re not going to stay here with me?”
Then I would sit back down and say, “Okay, I didn’t mean to upset you. But maybe you’re hearing something I really didn’t say? Maybe what you’re feeling isn’t quite pertaining to the thing I said, but rather something else that may have happened to you before, in the past, when you were little, and this just acted as a trigger?”
To which she would reply, “Can you please just say ‘I’ instead of saying ‘you’? Every time you do that it feels like I’m being blamed for something.”
Then I would say, “I’m not blaming, I have no intent to blame, but I just feel like you’re hearing something in what I said that’s not really there. Because it wasn’t meant as an attack on you. Maybe we could talk about that.”
She would then say, after a pause and more posturing, that it felt like I was gaslighting her.
Then I would say, “Well, gaslighting is a form of deep, prolonged, malicious psychological manipulation and all I want to do here is just clarify that I felt no anger or malice toward you from the start, and I don’t actually believe that Liechtenstein actually has anything to do with the mouth,” or whatever the hell the thing was that we were arguing about. I’d forgotten by that point.
She would say it felt like I was trying to alter her reality.
I would say, “I’m not trying to alter your reality.”
Then she would say I wasn’t validating her feelings.
I would then say that this whole thing was making me feel frustrated.
She would say she “hears” that I’m feeling frustrated, however she would then accuse me of not talking about what I really felt because she could feel me becoming angry.
Then I would say, “No no no, I’m not angry, I am frustrated, and so here’s what I’m feeling right now…,” and proceed to talk to her about what in me was going on and why I was feeling what I was.
And after five minutes of trying to flesh the whole thing out, to demonstrate clearly that I was capable of talking about how I felt—to many, many more glazed-eye blinkings—she would accuse me, in the end…of talking too much.
And of still being angry.
Which, of course, would start to make me angry.
What was happening was, in more than one way, I was losing my identity here. Or, rather, it was being stripped away by the implementation of rules I needed to abide by in order to keep her, and the relationship, satisfied.
And if I happened to bring all this up, baldly, and say it to her? That it felt like she was taking away my identity?
I would be blamed…for giving her too much power.
And then, weeks later, in talking about something completely unrelated to what we had been, after it had all blown over, she would say, “I often have to check what I’m feeling against what the reality of what the situation is.”
And I would just stare. Again. With my mouth wide open. And my eyes glazed. And then nod my head.
And things would come full circle.
So, in summary, the New Age Paradox is this: a scripted yet unwritten set of rules, rotely memorized by all who choose to adopt the lifestyle, handed down orally and indirectly, buzzword by buzzword, and unofficially set as the guide for all to prostrate themselves before, obey without question, use in conversation with one another, tacitly utilize as the rubric by which to self-verify someone is actually a member of the Community, and verbally defend to the death.
And the effect of the lifestyle on those who have not chosen it or who fail any one of the tests (me, say), and who choose to try and make a relationship work with someone who has and wears the uniform, badges and speaks the language, is to experience something like this:
While simultaneously espousing such mantras as: ‘You do your thing, I’ll do my thing’, and: ‘We don’t need to be around each other all the time’, couching them as the continued means of a flexible, healthy relationship, your partner will carry with him/her/them/it the blueprints for a conceptually ideated partner all the while and demand that you fulfill that role, trying to construct you within that framework by applying not just negative reinforcement when you don’t, but benignly suggesting that you speak and even (Lord help you) think a certain way, their way, the implication being that you are incapable of doing it yourself, had developed no conceptual framework with which to do it yourself, and that it would make you happier and your overall relationship with them better.
Nope. Not to the New Age.
For that which does not point out their shortcomings; interrupt their speech; deny their gut feelings; deny their being seen by their Community; deny their unequivocal, communal acceptance; communicate to them in unscripted terms; box them in; challenge their sense of safety; dump “emotional garbage” all over them; become perplexed for being ignored in favor of other guys/girls; become confused for their continually discussing being physically attracted to other guys/girls; come to any conclusions about the obvious implications of all of that; stay sober when they get high; embody any aspect of a stereotypical construct; argue in favor of traditional masculinity/femininity; fall into traditional gender roles or conventionalize who they are in any way, shape or form, only makes their relationships stronger.
You know. As long as someone else is doing it.