For years I have been attracted to guys I could never quite figure out. They either sent out conflicting signals or remained unobtainable. I would say that before starting a therapy I was mainly attracted to guys who were never into me, but ever since I started therapy, my attractions have more been towards guys who actually did have some level of interest in me, but they were not quite consistent for various reasons. I think I have finally figured out the reason for this pattern.
See when I was a child, my mother was highly unpredictable. She could be one day in a good mood and be all nice towards me and the other day she could be extremely angry and threaten to kick me out. Such variation is also in fact very characteristic to my ex – Marc. There were days when Marc was the best boyfriend ever, he could give me massages, he would listen to my childhood issues etc. Then there were moment when Marc threatened to leave me or was ranging to the point where I was actually afraid of him. Then there were also period when Marc disappeared as he was visiting his home country.
This all left me very confused. I could never make sense of Marc the same way I could not make sense of my mother. Both had their great moments, so it was unfair to call them evil or what not. In fact during their moments of greatness they were way better human beings than I was. However during their low moments they were also way worse human being than I was.
See the problem with such relationships is that you can never really fully relax. You are constantly alert and unaware of what is coming. When I started dating Marc, I developed a habit, which I never had before with my boyfriends. When he did not call, I would get extremely worried. I thought that maybe it was sign of my neediness and I had just suppressed it with my former boyfriends, but actually it has more to do with me not knowing what was going on. With my consistent partners I could relax even when they did not call, because my first thought was not – oh god maybe they are angry at me, maybe they are going to leave me. However, with Marc I was constantly anxious about having potentially done something that angered him or pushed him to distance himself. It was the exact copy of my childhood environment.
However, it has taken me till now to understand this pattern and fully emphasize with how I have been feeling my whole life. In fact, since this is quite a new discovery, I am sure I will write a bit more about it in the future.
I am currently working on something in my therapy which I for a long time refused to admit I have – namely social anxiety. See, my ex Marc pointed this out on regular instances that I have issues with small talk, networking, being social. I did not want to believe this, because before I actually left for my new country of residence, I had plenty of friends and acquaintances. Hell, even today when I can actually force myself to go out, people like me. I am funny and charming. However, every time I need to go out on an event where I do not know people or where I have not met those people for a while, I first need to have huge fights with myself.
So what are these fights about? I am afraid that people will judge me. There is always something which I think is substandard, so I get myself worked out about this perceived misgiving of mine and there we go. When I actually enter the event, all I can think of is how everybody will now be able to see this misgiving and how soon enough they will laugh and I am forced to hide in the toilet. There are just way too many social events from my childhood that ended exactly like this…
On side of this fear is hence me imagining that other people will always find me weird, out of the place; they will find something wrong about me and will relentlessly bully me because of this. The other side is that I am afraid I will have no possibility to leave. I have tried to avoid the events which tie me to the place my whole life. I need to have the idea that I can actually leave.
Interestingly my social anxiety has really skyrocketed during last years. I am not quite sure why that is, there could be numerous reasons, starting with the fact that I have had very few social events during the last years and ending with the fact that my ex has done quite a bit to increase my social anxiety by pointing out all the ways I misbehave. The explanation that I secretly hope could be used is however that this fear is now finally swimming to the surface and I am able to deal with it. It was not like it was not there before, it was just that I was constantly pressing it down. What I am hoping is that with some work I can finally say in half a year or so, feel that I can enter to the random social occasion and just feel good and not have to worry about what other people think of me.
This blog has based on my radical honesty. So, I am going to continue posting about the issues which seem like washing my dirtiest laundry publicly. So today I am going to say that I knew already several years ago that my relationship is not going to work out. In fact, I was just too embarrassed to admit this both to myself and to other people.
What exactly was I so embarrassed to admit? Mainly how jealous I felt of other people who seemed to have functioning relationships and even have families. I thought, well this might be my last chance, so I better make it work. For long time I felt that way.
I am not going to say that my ex was a monster and I was an angel, because that was not the case. Rather, I was never completely in the relationship and neither was he. Yet, we dragged on this relationship for nearly six years. I cannot speak for his motivations, but I can only be honest about mine. I had a growing feeling of hopelessness three years ago. I had other guys hitting on me…I just never thought they would and could accept me. I assumed, they would all run away if they saw what I was like. I thought, I better be happy if anyone was willing to deal with all my issues and problems and bare it out. I thought, in fact, I should be grateful for him for sticking around.
I never dared to go for guys I was into and who were actually available, because hell, it would never work out. No way could I pretend to be normal and hide my emotional issues for so long that they would commit. I had tried in the past and it always ended with the disaster. Hence, I was tied to someone who was as messed up as I was, in a dysfunctional relationship with little hope for improvement.
Neither of us I think had any illusions when it came to the functionality and a future of this relationship. I think we both knew it lead us nowhere. Yet, fear is a powerful motivator.
If anyone is wondering what I am talking about here, then you can find a better description of these types here (https://jebkinnison.com/bad-boyfriends-the-book/type-anxious-preoccupied/). Anyways, I started my therapy by being fearful-avoidant type. These types often crave intimacy, but find it difficult to accept when offered. This is the most disturbed type out of all the attachment types and is developed as a result of childhood abuse (mostly). There is little written on how one can change their attachment type or how difficult it may be. So I am going to contribute to this obvious lack of literature here.
So throughout my therapy I have peeled off the protective layers in my psyche so that I could finally face my issue without the intense walls. These walls served a good purpose during my childhood and helped me to deal with my life, but nowadays prove to be problematic. At this point I have reached the ‘level’ where I could categorize myself as anxious preoccupied type. The difference is that now I have lost the protective layers, defending me against abuse and just have a high need for intimacy and love. I have somehow managed to resolve the part of my childhood which made me extremely distrusting of others and forced me to carry a mask and have begun to trust others more and more.
Where I however still struggle quite a bit is in trusting myself. Trusting my ability to manage alone. Trusting myself to be attractive enough for others so that they would stick around. I am still anticipating abandonment and I do not trust that others are there for me after I have not communicated with them for a while. I dare to be more of myself around them than ever before, but I still think that they could walk away any moment. Furthermore, I still think that a lot of their behavior is about me and not about them. Someone being a bad mood – surely it is because of something I did and not something to do with some outside hinder. Someone not responding to my facebook message – surely it is because they do not like me.
Theoretically it is interesting how transforming from fearful-avoidant towards secure for me includes first becoming anxious-preoccupied type. I still have some way to go, unlike I thought couple of months ago. In fact there are still some quite big challenges ahead of me, but I believe I am somehow moving to the right direction.
It has been two months since Chase’s death and I feel that perhaps for the first time I can say something about this and about loss. See, I have had to go through a lot of loss in my life, more than most people during their whole life, I dare to say. But for the first time now I am aspiring to seek answers to what loss can actually give to us.
Do not misunderstand me, this is not part of – everything has a meaning in this life and serves us for the greater good. I am still not really finding it in me to fully immerse myself in this philosophy. However, I do feel I can say some words about how I deal with loss.
The way I deal with loss is by changing myself. Loss, by definition, is a change. Your life needs to accommodate to the fact that the person so important for you is not anymore there. This is forced change which many of us are not ready to face. I try to deal with the loss by changing myself to the degree that who I was at the point in met this person becomes part of past. Then I can think, this person was part of my ‘blue’ period. It is a way to categorize the different periods of your life by lessons, by what kind of a person you were back then.
Loss becomes a process that pushes you towards becoming a new person. It always does, for better or worse. I take this push and I use it to change myself, to work with the emotions that come up. I do this relentlessly, so that at some point I do not have to feel as if I lost the love of my life, because I am different today. My needs are different today, I am a better and a more mature version of myself.
This is how I deal with loss…
I have spent a lot of years feeling as if I value people around me more than they value me. It probably started out with my mother often enough threatening to kick me out and telling me how worthless and useless I was. I internalized the message and hereby got into the habit of proving my value to other people.
See when you think of this from the perspective of a child, it is really clear actually. You have two choices, either to accept that no one loves you (your parents) or to hang on to the hope that if you try hard enough, they will love you. Obviously the second option seems a little bit safer and more hopeful.
So you get stuck with the habit of always needing to jump through the hoops and prove to the other people that you are good enough. Other people get used to your people-pleasing habits and treat you accordingly. Furthermore, you are actually prone to choose people, who like your parents, never really approve of you.
I am slowly changing and as I am changing, I am also getting puzzled by the people around me. I am becoming more conscious of their behavior and it confuses me. Take my ex who made me believe that having long conversations with me was his favor to me. That communication was his favor to me. He was obviously so out of touch with his needs that he never even questioned if he could get something out of these interactions. No, it was always me who was the receiver and he was the giver. Why does it puzzle me? Because now my ex is coming to me and admitting how he likes conversing with me. How he misses me. How he misses our conversations.
So apparently people who put you to the inferior role are able to see your relevance for them and your value once you finally stand up for yourself. However, the question is, should you be together with someone who devalues you till you finally stand up and speak for yourself? I know they say that you teach to other people how to treat you, but see, here is the twist, I do not think you should spend eloquent amount of time teaching other people how to treat you. Rather, perhaps, choose someone who you do not have to teach, but who treats you well to begin with.
Sometimes I feel like I have no idea who I am anymore. Why now? Because I was screening my old facebook posts and old me seemed….well happier in a way. More content with her life and well more loved if you wish….In these moments I question my choice to begin therapy. I mean when everything seemed so fine back then, then why, oh why have I invested all these years into therapy?
I might be going through a phase, but I truly can say that I have no idea anymore where I belong and who I am. It seems like everything stable in my life is falling apart. Old friendship and old relationships that worked with who I once was, do not work anymore.
I checked my facebook posts and thought back to the beginning of my relationship. We have been together soon six years. We once got along well. We once had a more loving atmosphere and wanted to talk to each other. What happened?
I can only assume that the kind of person I was back then fitted with my boyfriend and fitted with very many friends around me. Who was I then? Well I was a people-pleaser, essentially. Always worried about other people and their opinion on me, always easygoing and not having to direct and strong opinions. Easy to control, submissive. Lovely and sweet in a way. But I was definitely also more loved.
I look at the comments nowadays and wonder what it might feel like to be loved. But not loved for who I used to be, but loved for who I am now. My boyfriend seems to not value the changes. My old friends seem to not value the changes. At times I wonder, what will happen to me? Where will I fit now?
Who am I becoming?
It is funny, because I am finally starting to understand the concept of a therapeatic relationship. The idea of therapist is not to point out your flaws, the idea of therapist is to offer you the kind of support and understanding you never received in your life due to your life circumstances. It is this kind of relationship, for many the first supportive relationship, which is going to make a difference.
This deep understanding came with digesting through my experience with Chase and his death. From what I have now found out about him, Chase cherished me. He put me into pjedestal. I am shocked. Nobody has ever done this.
It feels weird, because this kind of relationship and the existance of it seems unreal to me. I am starting to understand that what I have experienced with my current boyfriend and thought was a supportive relationship, was nothing more than my boyfriend pointing out my mistakes and then holding me hostage for those mistakes. All these years, I have been so grateful for him being so accepting and sticking with me despite my various shortcomings. I really thought that well, actually I did not deserve to be loved and cherished.
My shock about Chase shows that, I do not fully believe this yet. However, I am starting to see that my boyfriends behavior is not right. One should not feel in the relationship as if one is just being mercifully tolerated. I have spent years trying to address my various misgivings in therapy with my boyfriend coming up with new and new ones. I was even grateful for him for seeing all my issues and helping me to find those. However, now I see, that a truly supportive partner would have perhaps helped me finding these issues, but also never made me feel as if I was somehow defective and unlovable.
The experience with Chase has shown me how there is a different kind of love. The kind of love that is not merely grudingly accepting, but rather supportive and forgiving. This is the kind of love I want to experience in my life.
This post will be highly personal and me rewriting my life story to a degree. But I think it has been perhaps the most vital discovery I have made throughout these years, so here it comes.
I moved to where I live because of my ex (lets call him Tim). Tim, at this point was the love of my life. I really admired him as a man and a person. However, I could slowly and clearly see that what Tim felt for me was not in an equal level to what I felt for him. It never was. In the end I confronted Tim and he admitted that he had never been in love with me. Even though on some level I knew this, hearing this was still a shock. It to a degree destroyed me and no matter how hard I tried, I was never able to hate Tim. I loved him, to a degree I still do.
At the same time that things were going sour with Tim, I met my current boyfriend (Alex). Alex loved me. This feeling was new to me. Alex was so caring and attentive and I felt genuinely seen. The only problem was that I did not love Alex. I loved Tim. However I understood the problems in loving someone who does not love you back and I thought well, if I work long and hard in therapy, perhaps I can start loving Alex. No, did not happen. I loved Alex for what he did to me.
About half a year ago I met a guy (Chase) with whom I quickly developed emotional connection. We both were involved so it did not develop any further. That did not stop me from hoping. Chase is now dead. But I am happy to say that he showed me the possibility of meeting someone who you love as a person and who loves you as a person. It is possible. This long sought after state is possible.
As I am healing from Chase’s sudden death, I am also seeing the errors of my ways. I am seeing the difference between two kinds of love so strongly – loving someone for what they do for you and loving someone as a person. I think I also owe it to Alex to breakup with him so that we both could find this bliss. Chase showed me the light and even though it hurts like hell to know that he is not here anymore, I am so grateful for him. His life and death have developed me in ways that would have not been possible otherwise.
The weirdest idea about my relationship with my ex-boyfriend just struck me. Namely, throughout the whole relationship I felt this sense of duty and responsibility from him, but not really big emotions towards me. After years from our break-up I think I can finally make sense of this feeling.
You know people that make lists with all the character traits that they want from their partner? You know your friend who is just looking for a man for the sake of having a man? Or thousands of women who date a man who they do not quite like, but they hope that they can change him so that he would eventually fit the bill. Let me explain further, by looking someone who would fill a specific spot in your life, you are assuming that the other person should fulfill a certain role. It is like an audition for the lead character in the movie – the script is already written and it is your job to fit to the role.
This is how I felt with my ex. I felt like his future plans and his life had very little to do with me or about who I was. He felt like at a certain stage in his life he could do with a girlfriend so he showed me some kindness and affection in return and there we went. The problem was – I never really felt loved for who I was. I rather felt that there were certain things expected from me and it was my job to somehow mold myself around these expectations.
Interestingly one can make a good connection with my childhood and my mother. I think I spent my childhood as well feeling like who I was did not matter. In fact, what my mother had envisioned for me mattered much more. I was not good in chemistry – well I better work really hard on it so that I become good. My real abilities in chemistry did not matter – my mother had a certain image of how her child should be and there we went. So no wonder that I felt unseen my whole childhood and that I felt what I wanted and who I was, was insignificant.
That being said, I am guilty of the same crime and this is something I will elaborate further on next post.