you cannot contain my happiness either

She Can’t Contain My Sadness: She Can’t Contain My Happiness Either

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I am large, I contain multitudes.

– Walt Whitman

I know that a partner cannot contain my sadness. I know my sadness is my own. I am responsible for my own healing, my own grief work, and my own recovery from shame and depression. We are alone in our quest to find or refind happiness.

What I did not grasp, however, was the flip side of this idea. My partner cannot contain my happiness either.

As I move into any relationship (romantic or professional) I have a lot of energy and desire to share things about what’s going on in my life. I’m a sharer. That’s part of how I write so much. I want to give you all the ideas and strategies I have, so you can use my examples of what to do or not do. I am similar in a relationship. I want to give give give, and more often than not, I want to overshare. I want you to hold and reflect back all the great things that are happening in my life. Well, that’s what we do in relationships, right, reflect the other person? Yes, but…

When Giving Too Much Becomes An Issue

I’m an oversharer. I know that. And in my relationships over the past nine years, I’ve learned from various women, that there is a finite limit to how much I can share. In my marriage, my now-ex-wife was always a bit frustrated when I wanted to tell her about a previous relationship and what I learned from the experience. It wasn’t that I was trying to brag about my past, but more that I had a bit of information I learned in a past relationship, a mistake, for example, that I’d like to not repeat. But it was oversharing, in her case. She didn’t want to hear about any other women. Oh…

In more recent experiences I have come to learn a bit more about my desire to give too much. This is not only about sharing, it’s about sex, it’s about chores, it’s about offering to pick up dinner, it’s about just being TOO MUCH. When I get enthusiastic, I go all in. I can get this way about describing my favorite Led Zeppelin song. I’m over-the-top excited. Sometimes, I have the same excitement when I’m relating a less-than-great experience from my past. Even today, playing tennis with an old friend, I began talking about my ex-wife’s current BS freeze-out. My friend said, politely, “Um, let’s not go there.” I got it. I stopped. I understood. And I was okay.

In more personal relationships, with more personal details, I also tend to get enthusiastic. Let’s face it, I AM AN ENTHUSIAST.

And here’s my realization: I am too much for anyone. There are only a handful of people who can contain my exuberance, and one of them is paid to hear about it. In my romantic relationships, there is simply not enough bandwidth for all of the GREAT STUFF that I want to bring in. Okay, so what do I do with all that extra exuberance?

Where Do I Get Filled Up?

And here’s the lesson. If I try to give someone all of my happiness I am going to be disappointed. They can’t take it. It’s like my social media and writing expressions. If I hoped someone would read all of me, I’m hoping for something that’s not going to happen. So, in my romantic relationships when I try to give 100% of myself, I end up blowing up the other person. I had a girlfriend who stepped into the fire with me, basked in the glow for 3 – 4 months, and then self-immolated. She simply could not handle any more heat. It was a good heat, it was fun heat, and she burst into flames and ran away.

“You’re just too big,” she said. “I don’t feel like I’m being seen when I’m around you.” We had a conversation about six months after the burnout.

And she was right. It dawned on me recently, that I cannot wait around for someone to “get” me. I can’t base my joy and happiness on someone else’s ability to contain it, or even bask in it with me. It scares some people. It’s overwhelming to others. And some people are just annoyed and turned off by the enthusiastic me. I get it. I’m an acquired taste. And if I’m not your type, please let me know and move along.

So, as I go forward in my plans for building an empire of my writing, my singing, my dancing, my exuberant self, I’ve got to learn to spread it around. I’ve got to continue to focus on my inner satisfaction at completing another book, or song, or article. I can share it with others as they are available, but when they are not available, I’ve got to be able to self-celebrate. Just like self-soothing but for GREAT STUFF rather than sad stuff.

Is There Enough Light In the World?

I must be seeking the spotlight. In many ways this blogging thing, even blogging about sensitive and personal things, has become a natural expression of my life. Should I stop writing about dating because I am not dating? Will I be disappointed when the world does not embrace my new band and album of material? Am I seeking fame just to see if I can fill up some empty part of myself?

I think the answer is no. If my TV show is a go or a no-go, I’m going to be fine. I do think my positive message is reaching people via my writing, so why not open up the reach a little bit and get a PODCAST going and a TV SHOW, if it happens. But can I be happy just being me and sharing about 50% – 70% of my enthusiasm with others? Yep. I’m not looking to be famous, really. I am looking to expand my empire a bit so that I can generate an income stream from my parenting writing and coaching work. But if I never get to tell my tale on the big screen or the little screen, I’m going to be fine. And if I can’t find a partner big enough to contain me, EVER, that’s going to have to be fine too.

I am too big to wait around for someone else to get it. My joy is being released on a daily basis. And I can choose to filter, moderate, and modulate, my energy based on the people I am with. If you don’t have the bandwidth, it’s fine, I can take the happy circus somewhere else.

“You need a huge amount of attention,” the firewoman also said over a year ago. “I don’t how anyone can need that much attention.” She was on to something.

“The happy circus will continue and your participation is optional.


John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
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How I Can Help

I am a relationship coach and a dating coach. I coach women in 1 x 1 zoom or facetime calls. I work in monthly blocks (4 sessions). We establish a relationship. I become your wingman in navigating and sorting through the bullshit of dating and relationships. If you are here, you’ve probably already read some of my opinions. If we’re a fit, we will both know on our first call. For SEPT-OCT I’m offering a 1 HR introductory call rather than my usual 30-minutes.

I am also launching two coaching groups about dating and relationships in the coming weeks. One for men and one for women, facilitated with a dear friend and wellness/aging coach. Both groups will be limited to 8 participants. So join the FB groups and watch for the opening announcements. THANK YOU.

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