Life is a development. Continuous being on a road. I doubt that my self-development will end with finishing my therapy, I think my mindset is set on needing to feel that, I am moving somewhere. So this last post of the year is here to celebrate my successes.
I am learning to love myself. Learning to be me and say that it is OK to be me. This statement sounds so corny that I am almost reaching out for an insulin shot. However, it still has more depth than it is usually credited for. A lay person finds it difficult to understand how being yourself can be an achievement. However, everyone who has a history of child abuse can relate. We are thaught to feel ashamed of who we are, to hide, to deny, to please. We are thaught that being someone else tops being oneself.
So here is something- I am becoming me and I am not yet totally fine with it. I am having trouble distinguishing which part of me is just a compensation of my insecurities and which part is….well the authentic me. Is there a difference. How far can we get rid of our insecurities? It is clear that I am not the same person anymore compared to the one who started the therapy, yet I sometimes have trouble deciding how different I am.. Which part to keep and which part to ditch? Which people to keep and which to ditch?
An example. My wall of sarcasm is falling. I am still vastly sarcastic and humorous in my everyday life, but I also notice that I am using it as a defensive mechanism. However, I like being funny. I like playing and teasing. So when does this teasing and playing become the avoidance of intimacy?
It is all about the borders of your new personality? Where are the borders of appropriate behavior? Who do you want to be? How few people ask this question from themselves…..So many of us think who we are is predetermined anyways. However, I feel like I got a second chance and I can really ask- who do I want to be.
I am grateful for my second chance…….
Today I realized something. For years now I have been telling to myself that, I need to develop further. I need to improve myself in order to become a great girlfriend. There was always something that I needed to do better.
My epiphany included the knowledge that, this is how I have survived in my relationships. This is why I have stalled intimacy and this is also the reason why I have held on to critical and judgmental boyfriends. I somehow hoped that if I react to every single criticism of my boyfriends, if I somehow turn myself into perfect……I will finally get the award- a good relationship.
The problem with such a theory is that, well my judgmental boyfriends do not turn overnight to prince charming. They will continue to be unhappy with me and I will continue to seek for their approval and closeness even if this is not coming along.
Behind such thinking is of course my hope to finally win over this distant and critical caretaker- my mother. If I try hard enough, if I only keep checking all the boxes, I will be loved. Loved for real…….I will experience the real closeness and acceptance.
So similarly I imagined that, once I achieve this mystical- ‘I am good enough’ border, I will experience the perfect relationship. I will finally feel happy, protected and cherished.
I think it is time for me to accept that, this might never happen. It is time for me to accept that I have to start believing that, I am good enough and then make appropriate decisions in my life.
For the few last weeks I have been chocked, because I am starting to notice how damn scared I am about someone coming too close to me. This has actually been one of the red threads in my partner choices as well. There is much to write about it, but I will start by describing how I used to choose my partners.
I always prided myself for knowing my partners better than they did me. There was something very safe about it…..Not that it would have been wrong. With my ex I could pretty much guess what he was going to say next. He was uncomplicated or at least he did not want to go to any depths of his identity. It felt nice and cozy staying on the surface. Now this was my stereotypical choice for partner- safe, uncomplicated guy who was as afraid to be vulnerable and drive the relationship to any kind of depth as was I. So there we were…. in the relationship which was mainly based on superficial values…..
On the other hand, I always had good male friends. Plenty of good male friends with whom I could talk about deep subjects. These were the guys to whom I went with all my questions about life and men and we would have very interesting discussions. I never developed a relationship with any of these guys….In my mind they just felt, well…….not attractive. Not that these guys would have not looked at me that way, but I was uninterested.
There was some nice safety in the knowledge that my boyfriends have absolutely no idea what I am thinking about. I regularly imagined how chocked they would be if they actually found out what I thought about them or life. I was a good pretender….. They were either not interested in what was actually going on or were totally convinced by my act. My real persona once in a while leaked out and disturbed these guys though…..all my emotions felt scary for them.
My current relationships is the first exception to this rule. He was my friend and he was someone who I have trusted with pretty dirty secrets. It actually felt good, but also scary. However, I know and I can see how I have also built numerous walls in this relationship. I am too afraid of someone controlling me. My boyfriend is somewhat controlling and dominating……..
This is only the beginning of my story with intimacy. Next time I will go more into why I have been running away from it.
When something gets too good, I start to worry. It must some automatic code, but I get worried when I am happy. Something in the back of my mind tells me- something bad will happen soon. I start to see potential problems with the situation, because I do not trust that something can be good. The same goes about people who appear in my life- I am constantly looking for signs of potential danger. All signs of unreliability or potential aggressiveness make me super concerned.
I guess this is a normal reaction when you have grown up in a household which is highly unpredictable. Naturally I also chose my boyfriend according this experience (he is highly unpredictable and easily angered). As a result when anything in my life starts going too good, I am getting increasingly anxious because I am already anticipating potential downfall. After all, the peace situation at my home never lasted too long. This is also one of the reasons why I cannot relax to any relationship. I am too busy reading all the signs of potential problems.
So what to do about it? Potentially make contact with the parts of you that were so scared and afraid all my childhood. Start to trust myself and my ability to handle any stress that comes to my way. This will be something that I aspire to achieve during next months in my therapy.
I have been in psychotherapy for a while now. I have spent more than four years analyzing my childhood and I am still doing some of the work. For four years I was hardly able to focus on my everyday life at all. I was constantly struggling with very powerful emotions.
Now, even though I am not completely done with my past work, I am starting to see my present again. However, it is not anymore the old me, who sees the present, but it is the new me. Hence, some things just do not add up anymore. They really do not fit.
I have during the last half a year made some shocking discoveries. About myself, my life and the people in there. I have cut out few people and I am afraid that, there is still some change coming in my way. This is all rather challenging, considering that I am still struggling with my intense need for security.
All I can say about this feeling that I currently have is that ‘You wake up in a parallel universe. You notice that you are wearing shoes while you need to be wearing flippers. Your shirt feels too tight for the weird matter that surrounds you now instead of air……’ You are still you and it seems like the surroundings have changed and you have to remind yourself hard that, it is actually you who has changed.
I am slowly waking up to the fact that, in fact, I am not only chasing my romantic partners, but also other people. Former friends….colleagues. This seems to be like a logic conclusion, because why should such a predominant pattern in my life be applicable to only one area of my life.
What I still struggle to understand however is- am I choosing such people, am I emotionally more needy or is something else in me driving people away?
Now, I do think I am emotionally needy. I also think I attach myself easily to people and perhaps give no time for friendships to warm up. I need to become more independent, in fact. However, I feel this is not a full explanation.
I am visiting my homecountry and struggling to make a contact with a friend. She tells me that she is constantly busy (for a whole week). Now the funny thing is that, when she was visiting me in my country of residence, I made my weekend free. I even organized my moving to the day where it did not irrupt with meeting her. Now, I asked instead for a skype meeting and she seems to be even too busy for skype. I think. at this point, I could call this person rather an acquaintance than a friend, or what is your opinion?
What puzzels me, however, is the fact that this keeps happening with different people.
I miss somebody fighting for me. I have missed this since forever. I have this contradictory feeling that on one hand my boyfriends do some favors to me inside the relationship, but they never fight for it as ‘proper’.
I am away at the trip and I miss texting with my boyfriend. I know that when I text him I will have to wait a day or two if I get a response at all. So I have stopped texting him. It is a lonely feeling. A feeling which I have had for a while. I keep telling to myself that, there are other things to care about in the relationship, such as my boyfriend bringing me hot tea in the bed when I am ill. Somehow, this still does not erase the painful feeling of being in non attached relationship.
My boyfriend, as I have discovered, has a great allergy against someone telling him what to do. He can do favors for me, but only when he feels like it. When I ask him for a hug or for bringing me some soda from the shop, he can get angry. The child in him starts to protest- you are not going to tell me what to do.
So why do I feel lonely? Because I feel, he is living his own life. His life does not contain me. Sometimes he includes me, but I feel he does not think in terms of we. He thinks in terms of himself and then when I protest, he adds me to the picture.
I feel hurt and somehow left behind. I see all these couples where partners and husbands are extremely family oriented and want a great life for the family and I feel this pain. I know that my boyfriend is a good person, but will he be a good family member? He likes his independence, he likes to do what he wants and he does not like to take into account anyone. To add, he likes to call me out on doing things differently than he does- not doing them the ‘right way’.
But then again, I have never felt really in the relationship with anyone. Not in a traditional sense. I always felt that there was a wall between me and my partner and that my partners really enjoyed their freedom. Am I creating these situations? I have no idea.
I am slowly coming to the realization that, I have assumed responsibility for other people’s behavior and feelings my whole life. For instance, I assumed that my ex boyfriend’s inability to express his love to me was connected to me not being good enough. Surely, with someone else he would have been open to expressing his love.
It is a very difficult way of living- you constantly assume responsibility and blame for how others treat you. When someone oversteps your borders, you do not think- well I must just inform this other person about my borders. No, you rather think- what is wrong with me that, they feel they can treat me this way? Why do they assume that I am so bad?
Other people become just extensions of you- they do not have their own will. Hence, their behaviors say something about you and not them.
I have always thought that way and I am only now moving away from this way of thinking. This bias is usually a result of an abusive childhood where you do not develop clear borders between you and your caregiver. It is very common with narcissistic parents, who by definition see you as an extension of themselves. So you do learn that, everything you do, is going to impact the wellbeing of your parents. So when mommy is angry, it must be because you messed up. The world centers around you and other beings reflect your value back to you- when they treat you badly, this means you have low value, not that they are assholes.
I have noticed lately an increasing anger towards my boyfriend. Now anger has always been the emotion I have tried to supress. It always induces feelings of guilt in me so I obviously needed to explore what this was about.
You know how people promise you that you will get a certain award when you do something and then once it is the time they back down? Now, maybe they did intend to give you this award or more likely they never actually did, they just wanted to give you some made up reasons as to why they cannot give you the award now. Instead of saying- I actually do not give you the award, they tell you- I will give you this if you do X (expecting that you actually never do X so you come out to be the bad guy and now you are responsible for not having X).
Now this all sounds very abstract, so let me give you one of the main examples from my relationship. I have been wanting to have kids for a while or getting married or something that would take our relationship to the next level. Instead, whenever we have these discussions, my boyfriend finds some sound reasoning as to why he cannot have kids with ME now. Once it was because I am not emotionally stable, then it was because the relationship is not working, then it was because he cannot trust me to take care of administrative stuff, then it was something else. All in all, I am getting doubtful that he ever intends to get more serious about our relationship, and I think for good reasons.
See, this strategy works very well if you want to keep someone in the ‘proving’ mode. First I needed to ‘prove’ that I was emotionally stable, then I needed to prove that the relationship can work out etc etc. It is like a hurdle race with the finish line moving further and further. And it is working fine as well as a tool to shift responsibility away from yourself…..to the other person. I kept buying into his reasoning, because it all sounded very rational and well made. I kept working on myself in order to finally measure up to the situation. Instead of deciding whether I should have kids with him, I was pushed into having to prove that I was worthy enough to have kids with.
This technique is a slightly different version from someone figuring out apologies and explanations as to why they cannot do something which they actually simply do not want to do.