I am doing a lot of rethinking about my life these days, hence so many posts.
I have been anxious lately. Perhaps it is about my ex moving out soon. Perhaps it is my work stress. Perhaps it is my financial struggles. Perhaps it is some of my addictions. Perhaps it is my love interest blocking me. However, as I zoomed in to the anxiety, something really different started to uncover.
Namely, I am used to living my life, being controlled by someone unstable. Being dependent on someone who was not really dependable. I am used to feeling at least some level of anxiety all the time. I mean I had to constantly watch my steps. I developed a certain self-regulation mechanism where even when my mother was not a round, I was mortally afraid of her judgement. I still am. Only these days I rationalize it as me objectively screwing up.
So what do I do? I recreate this early childhood feeling of being dependent on someone non reliable. I choose either guys who constantly judge me. Or guys who are unreliable and unpredictable. Or maybe both in one person. Anything to recreate this early feeling of not being safe in the world. Hell, I even chose an unstable career which is based on me constantly getting scrutinized. Little did I know about how many of my choice in this life were defined by this constant feeling of insecurity and constant feeling of being unsafe.
Obviously it is not really something you fix with one day, but I think me understanding this already takes me closer to perhaps solving it. Perhaps being able to create a more secure life for myself. I feel that so far I have sabotaged all the kind of security there potentially was in my life. I feel that me realizing that I have been sabotaging it is a breakthrough. I am looking forward to being able to create a more secure future for myself.
When I was fifteen my father reappeared and wanted to establish some kind of contact with me. Mind me he had earlier occasionally shown up and met with me for one evening and then disappeared again. My very skeptical reading as to why he wanted to connect with me at the age of fifteen would be that, he assumed that most of the work of child-raising would be done by this point and he could reap some rewards of having a child.
However connecting with me did not exactly go as planned. Namely I was distant and mistrustful. I had trouble opening up and talking to him which was obviously not something he expected. In his mind he was hoping for a daughter who would embrace him warmly and give him some of the love he was missing in his life. The idea of having to rebuild the trust at this point was not part of his plan.
So it did not take long for him to disappear again. Even if it seems obvious that it was my fault, subconsciously, I think I have always held myself accountable for his disappearances. I mean how else would I explain that when my ex disappeared, somehow I believed him when he explained to me how I had made him disappear. How relationship with me was so draining that he had no choice but to vanish for months. I looked at other happy couples and felt myself like a total failure, because I somehow made my boyfriend want to run away from me and not even keep in contact with me.
Interestingly enough when my ex reappeared, it was not him who had to work with regaining my trust. No, instead it was me who somehow had to fight for not having him abandon me completely. This sounds perverse as I write this here but I think even today there is a part of me that keeps asking – why don’t they want me? Why does no one want me enough for them to invest and fight for their relationship with me? Why do I have to fight for the right to have them in my life instead?
It is apparently these types of men I keep looking for. The kind of men for whose presence I have to fight for. The kind who disappear and reappear or make me work for their attention and love never giving me enough security about the relationship.
It has taken me for years to understand that on some level I have taken responsibility for my father’s assholish behavior. That on some level I thought his disappearances spoke more about me than about him. I also understand that just because I now understand rationally that these disappearances should not speak of me, emotional understanding might take a while, still.
Today I am feeling dysfunctional. Becoming and being dysfunctional has been my darkest and worst secret over the years. Even the feeling of being unlovable does not compare to that one. I have yet no idea how I got into believing that I was dysfunctional and later also to a degree behaving like I was. Or maybe I do.
I look at my mum and for years I did not like to visit her. The place was a mess. She was a mess. There is more to say here, but I am not really going to. And you know there are things which you can easily overcome, like you learn to wash yourself more often. Or you learn to actually comb your hair. Or you learn to cook. But then there are things which you really cannot overcome.
You work until you are so tired you cannot work anymore. You keep irregular hours. You do not follow your spending. You are a slave to your emotions. You get into relationship with people who challenge your functionality further. You ignore your pain, both emotional and physical. You ignore your needs. Where would you have learned that you have needs to begin with?
And all this talk and thinking about dysfunctionality seems rather fuzzy. I do not yet understand why I feel so dysfunctional. Why this has always been my dark painful and ugly secret which I tried to hide from others. But since these feelings are starting to come up, I assume that I will find out soon enough.
Today I am going to tell you about this perverse habit of mine to get security from imaginary relationships. So lets put it like this – I am anxious person. Future insecurities scare me. We are talking about me thinking at least two three years in advance and worrying about things that might happen. I am a neurotic person. So what do I do?
I escape into imaginary relationships. I just imagine my new love interest to be this pillar of security. Mind me this new love interest might be a person I have only talked once or twice, but somehow imagined that there was some connection. Thinking that there might be something between us, oddly makes me feel secure. Like there is some kind of support – even though lets face it, there really is not.
That is how I get attached to guys who might have long ago forgotten about my existence. I get attached to them and I hardly evaluate whether they are into me, whether they are secure enough etc., because to a degree what they are like does not matter. It matters what role I ascribe to them in my head. Often times when the reality does not conform to my imagination, I really desperately keep hanging on to my imagination.
But lets take a concrete example. I had this internet acquaintanship lately which got really close. We had not met each other in real life, but I really thought that there was a strong connection. Granted he was giving off mixed messages, but well I ignored those. Then suddenly he disappeared. Like literally disappeared. Instead of reevaluating this guy and saying to myself – well this guy is really instable, I kept hanging on to the idea that we might some day have a relationship. I mean does anyone normal really want to have a relationship with someone who has disappeared on them?
So yeah, I am not really sure what to do with this pattern. I hate people who say that being conscious about your patterns is somehow already half way to the finish line. It is not! These patterns are subconscious and it takes a lot more than mere knowledge about your patterns. Furthermore, it feels a bit frustrating that I still struggle so much with building healthy relationships even after all these years.
I have frequently wondered why I am so quick to feel like an outsider and why I take the role of a scapegoat in the big group setting. I suspect that my role is not solely in my head, but I am more likely to be rejected by groups as well. So far I thought that it has been my experience with bullying which has impacted my social behavior. However, today I discovered another layer to this feeling of non-belonging.
When it went back to my happiest memories, memories where I really felt the warmth of home and love, I discovered moments which I had spent at my childhood friend’s home. She has a full family with mother father and a sister. Her mother was this warm and welcoming creature, being able to really create a sense of home. My mum as opposed to that was a workaholic who used work to run away from her emotional problems and came home to unload work stress (well at least mostly). So there was a stark contrast between those two homes.
However, I never really really belonged to my friend’s home. I mean I did belong but in the end of the day I was not at home in this space. I was not at the liberty of deciding when to play or what to wear etc. I was a guest. Interestingly in my coziest memories related to home I am a guest. Hence home was meant for someone else. Someone else got to enjoy the welcoming atmosphere and the only way I could join in was by stealing some rare moments and invading someone else’s home space.
I think this really has been the defining experience of my life. Other people had homes and families. Other people felt welcomed and supported. I did not have a family. I did not have support. Hence when going to visit someone’s family, I feel inconvenient. I have no idea what it feels. I feel like a stranger, like I have no business there.
When I think about my two last relationships and now my short dating experience then there have been three men with whom I never felt secure enough. Surely with one of my exes, lets call him Robert, we even discussed marriage and children. We even discussed child names. However, Robert and me were in a long-distance relationship and he was postponing his move….constantly. He also let me know that he is not going to move unless he finds a good job. Even though we talked about me moving to his country, there was never a conscious effort from his side to help me with that. If I wanted to move, I was supposed to organize everything on my own….
This kind of ambivalence and lack of reciprocity I think characterizes my relationships. I am not talking about emotional closeness and affection here. Some of the guys I have dated with have been rather affectionate and loving, way more than I. What I am however talking about is that I never felt safe that these guys are going to stay. I did not feel as if I was part of their life.
I lived together with my recent ex for four years. Still during these four years, I did not feel like I was part of his life. He had his own little secret life when he was visiting his friends at his home country. I did not belong there. His friends did not accept me with open arms either. Rather they made no effort to include me and somehow he accepted this. Again, I felt unsafe.
I could continue with the list of behaviors here, but I think more worthwhile is still analyzing this feeling of being unsafe and left out. I do not think I am imagining it. I think all three guys were not ready to share their life with someone else to the degree that is needed for a fully blown relationship. There was a lack of commitment and lack of commonality. I always felt like I had to fight for the common future. Like I was the one holding everything afloat.
My last experience with someone is finally starting to make me realize that this is not how one should feel. I have been so invested in trying to figure out how to make these guys commit and love me that I have never asked myself – do I feel good in relationship with these guys? I am going wild here and guess that if a relationship makes you constantly second-guess yourself and induces a lot of anxiety in you, chances are high that your partner is probably not fully ready to be in a relationship. Instead, they keep sending you some kind of contradictory signals about commitment, which you accept, because you are so invested in trying to get their commitment.
I am not sure yet what a good and healthy thought process in this situation would look like. However, what I do know is that I do not want to feel that insecure anymore. I also do not want to be someone who has to convince their partners to make a bigger commitment. This is something that is still a very sensitive topic and which I will devote more time to in the future.
At the age 31 I have no idea what a healthy relationship looks like. I mean there is another drawback for having chased after unavailable guys, besides the obvious ones. See the problem is that I have very little experience in being present in the relationship where we were both open and vulnerable. I mean the whole idea of chasing unavailable guys is that you will not get hurt because the disappointment is kind of coded into the future anyways. So now that I am actually opening myself up to guys who are not obviously unavailable I risk with truly getting hurt. And let me tell you, I have little idea on how to handle these emotions of vulnerability and hurt that come with truly being present with someone.
Since I have no experience I tend to verge between two extremes, either be truly submissive and accepting of shitty behavior or being truly closed off and distant. It is really complicated to hit the middle gear, simply because the whole experience is so new for me.
I am also noticing that I am dealing with the emotions of yearning and longing for someone and I have no good idea on how to manage this either. I mean, I know one should not act needy etc., but I have no idea on when is one acting needy and when is one just vulnerable and open. How should you respond when your love interest is withdrawing – did you somehow act overly distant and drove them away with your wish not to appear needy or are they just in need of space? Am I being needy when I go after them and tell them that I miss them or am I just showing natural vulnerability and interest? Is my judgement on them being less invested than me fair or is my fear of being vulnerable clouding my judgement? I mean there are tons of questions which I now seem to have in connection to this fine line between neediness and vulnerability. I have no idea what is right and wrong and it is not like someone has enough patience to start educating me from the ground up at my age. So I know I need to somehow learn this, but how……well this remains to be seen.
Who is afraid of going to massage because it might divert her from her daily routine? Yes…you guessed right – it is me. I am starting to understand, however, that this kind of anxiety which I feel if I have to even tiny bit do something out my regular routines is not really normal nor healthy.
It is weird, had you asked me five years ago if I was a person who was stuck with her routines and really loved predictability, I would have protested loudly. I did not see myself as someone who is micromanaging things. I laughed over my friends’ attempts to control things. Little did I know that I had purposefully chosen such friends so that I would not have to take responsibility nor control anything. I mean it is easy to not be upset or anxious if you perceive yourself having little control and are willing to give it to someone else.
Things have changed. I have given up my controlling friends. I have begun to give up the idea of ever meeting some boyfriend/father figure who would take control over my life, protect and manage everything for me. As long as I had this hope, I really did not need to worry about the future, because I could always comfort myself with the knowledge that, maybe I did not have to. I have let many things just stand without wanting to even take a look at these. My finances is for instance one thing. I just did not even want to go over of my spending because I was too afraid of what I will find.
How does this all relate back to me feeling anxious about massage? Well, now I know that I am expected to show up on time. There will be consequences if I do not. I also know that I have thousands of other responsibilities, so going to massage on a work day was aversion from these activities, but was something I perceived necessary because I was collapsing under these other responsibilities. Quite honestly, it comes down to managing my life and my responsibilities on my own and boy is that anxiety inducing. I think this is just a beginning of me exploring this issue though, because there is a lot more to dwell on here.
Dating world for emotionally damaged is less than ideal to say the most. I have described plenty in this blog about my experiences with unavailable guys. Emotionally completely unavailable guys seem to have been replaced by hot and cold guys almost entirely. I think it is a development, but well, not exactly what I had in mind when it comes to the end result. The number of hot and cold guys that I have been lately attracted to is becoming a bit too big for me to pin it on bad luck, so I will try to analyze as follows what might be behind it.
So, my hypothesis is that my attraction to unavailable or uninterested guys was mainly related to me feeling unloved and feeling I needed to chase someone’s love. The fact that I do not do this anymore shows that I have greatly dealt with my unlovability issues which in itself is worth a whole celebration. However, hot and cold guys – well my hypothesis here is that this one is related to me having felt out of control my whole childhood. Let me elaborate.
Essentially my childhood was about my mother’s moods (and criticisms). And boy was she unpredictable. But not only in terms of moods, but also in terms of attachment. She could be nice one day and distant the other day. She could go on a work trip and be gone without any contact for a week or two (and yes first time she did this I was only 4). When I was younger I was with my grandparents, but at the age of 9 I was home alone.
So hot and cold guys? Well they take me back to this time. I can never guess their reactions and most of the time is spent by trying to figure out what they feel and how they feel (if they feel at all). Meetings, if at all, seem to be random and entirely on their control. I simply have no control in the matter. This feeling of lack of control is something which I think I keep repeating because it is so familiar. To me, in some perverse manner, this lack of control and emotional ups and down have come to signify love.
I guess the only thing here really is to work with these feelings of lack of control in therapy and hopefully leave the whole experience behind me.
So that title might sound funny for someone who has never been into therapy. Might even sound funny for someone who has never struggled with false identity and people pleasing. What I am, however, discovering is that, a lot of the behaviors and hobbies of mine were adopted either to make other people happy or to run away from certain emotions which I did not want to feel. So now I am at the point where I ask – what is it that I like to do in my free time?
So lets look at what I did in my free time before my big move and my therapy. Well, I took some pictures. I still like photography, but I suspect that part of my photography habit back then was to deal with the lack of social contacts as well as to impress other people with my pictures. I did camping. Again, it is not that I dislike camping these days, it is more that I question the motives as to why I took it up to begin with. I went to cinema at the time of the film festival every year. Now, when I actually do end up in the cinema, I find it enjoyable, but I hardly go there. I visited a song festival every year, I have been there couple of times still, but somehow I do not get a kick out of it. I went to some parties, and I have to admit that these parties seem somewhat unsatisfactory today. I travelled and again, even travelling can get me excited these days. It just seem like work.
For couple of last years my life has been pretty much my work and therapy. It is difficult to come out of this routine, because you really discover that you have no idea anymore what to do with your free time. You have no clue what interest you these days, because the person who did all the previous things seems like a distant memory. Like you can remember that you once were this person, but well, not anymore.
So there you go, I have no idea how I can be so confused about what I enjoy, but apparently it is possible. All I know at this stage is that I like my job. What my hobbies are remains to be seen, somehow.