Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Learning My Truths, Episode 2

Learned truth: I'll never have a poker face, never mind master one. But I'm sure going to try!

I'll never learn how to relax my face into that blank expression one needs to form, as if its second nature no less, to win big at Texas hold'em. Or to win any other gamble in life for that matter. If I'm holding a full house, the induced glee felt in anticipating winning the pot is not only written all over my face, but rather stamped, sealed and hand-delivered to my opponent. That knowing twinkle in my eye I can't figure out how to dim gives it away every single time. So, I lose. That hand, and then the next five.

I have no poker face. (Lady Gaga would be thoroughly disappointed, I'm sure.)

The woman with a thousand different faces.
Photo credit: mtv.com
If I am bursting at the seems with happiness, it shows. Likewise, if I am feeling miserable I tend to look the same outright. How I really feel at any particular moment in life is usually not all that difficult to discern, even for the most undiscerning of people. An observer need not even know me all that well to figure me out.

Sometimes, wearing my feelings as if they're nothing more than a catchy accessory to an already well-put-together outfit bodes well for me. Other times, its more like being worthy of being in one of those fashion disaster spreads all the gossip mags print after major red carpet events. Except this is my life, for real, and this isn't Hollywood. There is no red carpet. Ever. Just a stained, faded, dog-hair-covered drabish green one that would be the first thing I would rip out of the house I am renting if I were able to buy it.

On the one hand, my expressiveness can often be an attractive and appealing quality. I've been told that I have charisma and that because I am easy to read, I am easy to like. This aspect of my personality has not only helped me land almost every single job I've ever interviewed for since I was old enough to even get a job, but I've never really had any trouble making friends, or even with dating. Kuddos to me! I can't help but take a little pride in knowing that my bubbly and outgoing personality is infectious and contagious. I love to spread the love! (And, did I mention that I can be corny? -- Consider yourself hereby warned from this point forward.)

On the other hand, my lack of emotional control gets me into trouble. Unfortunately for me, I'm finding this hard and fast truth out through the perils of divorce, court for the same and co-parenting trials and tribulations with a narcissist. It is something I need to work on for sure, and since self-awareness is usually the first step towards personal change and growth I am already well on my way. But I need help and I'm not afraid to ask for it. (I'm talking to you, faithful reader. Feel free to throw some advice my way below in the comments section ... How do you keep your emotions in check?)

Recently, I've spent some time reading up on ways to keep myself stoic when negotiating aspects of our divorce with the STBX. I've consulted with friends, my attorney and various other resources and so-help-me God, I will learn how to appear as cool as a cucumber when I want nothing else but to rage and bite someone's head off (oh, okay fine -- the STBX's head served on a platter is maybe a fantasy I have had once or twice since leaving him).  I know that is what is in our son's best interests no matter what happens from this point forward ... no matter how much the STBX lies, connives and manipulates his parents, his attorney or our judge (and God-forbid, someday our son), I have to master my poker face. If for no other reason but to prevent the STBX from ever feeling a single ounce of satisfaction from being able to get under my skin ever again ... that would be victory on my end well worth the effort. The ultimate jackpot in the gamble of divorce, no?


  1. I know what this is like! There have been times in my life when I have been a total emotional wreck. Guiding Light could have had a whole season's worth of material.

    What helped me the most: MINDFULNESS. Feel what you're feeling but don't get attached and caught up in them. Read up on some Mindfulness techniques. http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/help-information/podcasts they have some great podcasts you can listen to and other resources to help when you are feeling stressed and/or pissed. A certain amount of detachment can be cultivated--not in that you ignore your feelings or say they are not valid, but in that you accept your feelings with love. It's okay to be angry and upset. FEEL IT. but you don't have to act from a place of anger. You can feel angry but still act compassionately. You are in control and you DO have a choice.

    When my ex used to do things that he KNEW got under my skin I would close my eyes, FEEL my anger until it passed, and then think about what to say before I did anything. By not giving him the reaction he wanted I changed the situation. He wanted me to yell and be upset, but when I responded calmly it drove him crazy.


  2. Mindfulness? I'm on it, sista! Thank you for sharing. I can't wait to dive into that aspect of this process. I'm pretty sure that learning how to keep a lid on it will help me in other areas in life too, so this is great.

    So far, I've kept 95% of the communication restricted to e-mail. Not only for documentation purposes, but for my sanity. It is easier to come across as calm when I'm upset about one thing or another if we are only speaking through e-mail. The only downfall of that is I don't get to practice the mindfulness aspect when I'm being provoked as often as may be needed. Because I do think that mastering one's poker face takes a great deal of practice.

  3. It's a lot easier to stay calm via email, isn't it?

    I think I've done a good job of this in my second marriage, but I'm not how to explain how I taught myself to keep my emotions in check during conflicts. I guess I just realize now that the old way of being didn't work. As gratifying as it can feel to get all riled up, it usually backfires. So now I try to focus more on communicating a clear message rather than an emotional one.

    Easier said than done!

    1. Maybe it comes with age? More patience, maybe? Or maybe it is because the more built up resentment you have with someone the harder it is to not blow your top at them when conflict continues to arise? I don't know ... I can see marked improvement in my communication with Mr. Handsome over all of my past relationships. Granted, that is partly because our relationship is so new (hence, no resentment at all) and there isn't any conflict thus far, and also because he is so much more mature than any man I've ever dated before. So the dynamic is just, overall, more peaceful.

      The part of life that I struggle with the MOST is when I am provoked for seemingly no reason. Like, if I'm being instigated. And my STBX knows this and thoroughly enjoys doing whatever he can to instigate me. He did it IN our relationship, so its really no surprise that he's doing it through the divorce too. Another area I have difficulty with is if I am trying to calmly communicate but after multiple attempts, my message falls on deaf ears. The angst ends up all over my face and steaming out of my ears. I should learn to just give up instead of giving in to the frustration. Working on it ... I'm a work in progress. :)

  4. see, I am sort of the opposite. I am much more stoic and it takes awhile for me to really let it show and sometimes, that can make me come off as snobby or just be offputting. But it's just the way I am. Once I open up, though, I am more like you, wear my emotions on my sleeve. Sort of a weird combo, right? Great post :)


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