Saturday, 8 June 2013

My True Love's Kiss

Hopeful 2     Hopeless 8

"I've been dreaming of a True Love's Kiss", sings Giselle right at the beginning of the movie Enchanted.  This is how I felt for the longest time.  Unlike Giselle, I did not live in a little cottage in woods waiting for "a prince I'm hoping comes with this".  I did, however, have a wonderful dream in my head of the magic which is a great kiss.  I had not yet experienced one and was yearning for this True Love's Kiss.

What I had difficulty understanding was how this dream didn't transform into reality.  In my mind, I was comfortable with kissing.  I wanted to kiss Amin as early as the Gardens date.  In my imagination, it felt natural and blissful.  I didn't understand why there was such a disconnect with reality.  When I took a deep breath, closed my eyes and Amin's lips touched mine, why then did the experience become terrifying?  I couldn't account for the intense fear.

As I mentioned in my previous entry, it was not the first time I had had this problem.  I even became mysteriously feverish the day that I kissed Frédéric for the first time.  I thought maybe the trouble was going from essentially nothing (no hand holding or hugging, etc.) straight to kissing.  So for a couple of weeks, I asked if we could transition like that.  He agreed.  I was so over the moon, cooing about how "understanding" and "respectful" he was.  Again, simply the idea of that and of the way I was back then makes me queasy.  After the two weeks were up, we tried again.  Frédéric was happy.  I, however, was not really any more advanced.  I didn't have extreme terror anymore.  I had some anxiety, perhaps.  The rest was completely indifferent.  I couldn't understand how I could have romantic feelings for him, yet feel absolutely nothing when we kissed.  I felt very warm and fuzzy holding his hand or hugging or cuddling.  There was literally nothing, though, when we kissed.  Not even once.
Yup, Edward... we're not feeling it...
I wanted to write this entry to elaborate, to go beyond the general concepts I laid out in my last post.  It is all well and good to say that True Love's Kiss isn't necessarily the first kiss or that it requires some time or effort but that you will get there.  How?  How do you get there?  I wish I'd had a roadmap or someone to explain this to me.  Like I said, I'd have spent a lot less time feeling awkward or abnormal.

I had hoped that choosing a better person than Frédéric (which was not hard to do, as it turns out!) would do the trick.  I chose Amin, but my heart sank when this did not instantly solve my problem with kissing.  He knew something was up and he prompted me a lot to tell him what I was thinking and how I was feeling.  Like I wrote in my entry "First Days", he got me to admit that public displays of affection are not really my thing.  It took me a little longer than that to talk about the kissing issue.  Not only did I feel abnormal and embarrassed, but I most emphatically did not want him to take it as a reflection on him.  I did not want him to think that I was not into him or that he wasn't a good kisser or something like that.  Again, October 25th was such a spectacular night for him that I didn't want anything to kill the magic for him.

Much quicker than I would've liked, Amin had me telling him everything.  He had me admitting to the whole of my history with Frédéric in regards to kissing.  I remember that I felt terrible confessing this.  Thank God we were having this conversation online!  This is the point, however, where I discovered true understanding and respect.  Though I was not immediately reassured, Amin said everything to reassure me.  He started off with normalizing my feelings, being careful not to invalidate them.  He told me that I was not so strange and that in fact not everyone likes to French kiss.  I could hardly believe him.  He also came out with a list of reasons why I could possibly be feeling anxious about kissing.  He followed it up with a solemn promise that we didn't have to kiss at all.  This surprised me most of all, I think.  He told me that though he liked kissing, if it really made me feel so uncomfortable and so upset, we would simply not kiss.  That phrase came up again about my comfort level being the most important thing.

While that was all very nice, it was not what I wanted.  I believe that relationships are about compromise and balance.  I was not going to let him give up kissing for me.  Besides, it's not that I didn't want to kiss.  In fact, I think kissing is an important part of a romantic relationship.  To console myself when I was with Frédéric, I had said that "kissing is just one facet of the relationship and certainly not the most important one".  I had underestimated its importance and I was not about to make the same mistake.  I told Amin that I wanted to work on it.  He agreed as long as it wasn't purely for his enjoyment, as he put it.  He consented on the condition that I would eventually feel good about kissing and enjoy it too. 

I realized that my strategy had to be different from the last time.  I had asked Frédéric to take a break from kissing for the first two weeks.  This did not help in the slightest.  I understood that avoiding kissing was not effective, nor was what I did after that, which was to simply expect that it would "sort itself out".  It wasn't going to happen by magic.  I knew that it would require effort.

I just didn't know at all how to go about it.  There was so much, actually, that I simply didn't know.  Amin had asked me right away what was making me so nervous about kissing (and had come up with some possible answers).  I had no idea.  Again, in my head, I was perfectly at ease with kissing.  In reality I was not.  It was puzzling for me.  Amin was very eager to do anything he could to help, but he could hardly do anything when I was so unclear in my own mind.  How could I tell him what I did not know myself?

Yet, he's the one that came up with the solution.  Unknowingly, from the very first, he did all of the right things.  Along with all the other things I quoted him on above, he told me that I was good at kissing.  I was floored.  The sincerity with which he said it made me realize that he was not just trying to reassure me; he really really meant it.  I could not integrate this fully at the time, but Amin kept on telling me.  Just that praise, that positive reinforcement, made a huge difference.  In fact, the whole solution really was communication.  I know I mentioned in an earlier entry that he liked to go over details of time we spent together, revisit the memory and give his feedback.  Well, that is what we did about kissing.  We talked about it.  That may seem strange to many of you as you read this, but it was so effective.  Amin's natural instinct was a good one.

I think it actually started from a desire to have me believe that I was good at kissing.  I remember he said on more than one occasion about our first kisses: "I felt so much passion from you".  Well, that was news to me.  I had no awareness whatsoever.  I could feel nothing.  I couldn't tell how he was feeling or even how I was feeling as we kissed.  So at first, he told me.  He had to tell me, because I couldn't tell for myself.  I couldn't understand how I could be so blocked off from feeling anything.  Clearly there was some kind of obstacle there.  Amin wanted so much for me to know how good I was and how great I made him feel that that is how these conversations got started.  He was very happy to literally deconstruct each kiss, tell me what I did, what he did, how he felt and how he felt I felt (even though I couldn't feel it myself).  At first, it was so foreign to me.  Little by little, though, things began to change.

On November 6th, after practicing kissing a lot one afternoon in a quiet spot at university, I had a breakthrough.  As usual, when I was back home, Amin and I were chatting online.  He talked about the kisses, which were certainly good that day.  I listened like usual, not adding too much.  I slipped in, right before saying good night, that for the first time, I had felt something.  I was so ecstatic.  It was such a small thing, but it was so huge for me.  After we parted ways to go back home, I could feel some tingles on my lips.  I had kissing after-effects.  "Now you know how I feel all the time!" Amin said excitedly.  All that was left was for me to feel something while we kissed. 

Slowly, over the course of the first month, that is exactly what we achieved.  I can't pinpoint exactly which kiss was "the one".  I just know that gradually, I began to feel more and more.  I felt tingles after kissing, then I began to feel as we kissed.  I even started to pick up on his feelings.  The first sign I got was when I discovered that he liked it when I touched his upper lip.  I remember one day in November, he actually exclaimed, "OH my God!"  I remarked on that and he told me that it was not the first time; he had already said it in Farsi on a number of occasions which had obviously escaped my notice.  I was finally starting to be in tune with him.  I can't say exactly when all of this happened or exactly how.  I just know that Amin made me feel comfortable and reassured.  I know that the communication, true open communication helped so very much. 

I definitely realized a few things on a conscious level.  I remember him telling me once that I was thinking too much while kissing him.  People tell me all the time that my brain never shuts off and I own that to a certain degree.  Amin went on to say, though, that I was thinking too much about pleasing him while kissing him, so of course under those circumstances, I couldn't enjoy the kiss for myself.  "I never told you that," I said.  "How did you know?"  I've since learned that I can't hide anything from Amin, even when I want to.  What he helped me realize is that seeking to please him was a barrier to being in touch with my feelings and with his.  This was a definite factor in my trouble with kissing.  Him saying this also made me realize that this was a pattern I was repeating.  I came to understand that I'd had the same dynamic with Frédéric, that kissing him equated to trying to please him.  Kissing in public made me uncomfortable, but he expected me to do so anyways (ironically, I later learned that I was not sufficiently affectionate in public to suit him despite my efforts).  In fact, any time we kissed, it was because he wanted to.  He expected it and I obliged.  The first time I got to thinking about it that way was when Amin commented on my use of tongue while kissing.  I told him that Frédéric always expected it.  He didn't really want my lips so much as my tongue.  If I had described this kissing dynamic with Frédéric to myself before I met Amin, there is no way I would've believed it.  I would've objected strongly to simply catering to my boyfriend's wishes and expectations.  That is not the kind of person I am and such a description is frankly an insult to my independent spirit.  Yet, it is all true.  It took me awhile to unravel, but I figured out that was exactly the way it was.  It had been so subtle, because Frédéric was not openly demanding or controlling, nor was it his intention to be anything remotely like that.  The result, however, was that he was calling the shots when it came to kissing.  No wonder the kissing had been one-sided!  Looking back, it was even built directly into the phrasing I used right from the start: "his kiss".  This epiphany helped me to take some of my power back and have a better balance with Amin.  I began to initiate kissing, for example, much to his delight!  

Because Amin is so loving, he allowed me to learn and grow.  He gave me the patience, respect and understanding I needed.  In fact, what took place was a lot like healing.  He helped me release things that I didn't even know I was carrying.  I couldn't have achieved all of that by sitting back and hoping for the best.  This kind of situation is one you have to work at, you and your partner.  Most people figure that kisses should be effortless.  If you experience any trouble or fear like I did, though, it requires conscious effort to turn around.  That is what Amin and I did and we were successful. 

You need to have someone who cares about you enough to work with you.  That is what I found in Amin.  That is when, I think, you really find the "true love" part of True Love's Kiss.  Beyond finally having a great kiss, you know that your partner truly loves you.  

True Love's Kiss ♥

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