I am currently working through what I believe to be the last part of my therapy – trust issues. As I am going through this, I am also starting to notice an interesting pattern in my past relationships. Largely my relationships can be divided into two. An important note here is that I am talking about the relationships that actually existed and not the one’s I was having in my mind with all these unavailable guys. Anyways the two types can be described as follows: the relationships with somewhat emotionally available guy who was clearly more interested in me than I was in him and the relationships with guys who for some reason were not very emotionally available or interested in getting to know me.
This revelation seems currently big and transforming to me so let me continue by describing those two types of relationships in further detail.
Lets start with relationships with guys who were emotionally available, but not really completely down to my alley. So I have two guys in particular in mind when thinking about this category. Both in a way are sweet guys who showed affection towards me. Approaching them was easy, because I could see that they were interested in me. Naturally I had some anxiety, but still I ended up dominating these relationships big time, because I was the less interested side. I could flat out disrespect these guys, because sometimes their emotional availability seemed like a weakness to me. Furthermore their keen and loving interest towards me made them ‘low’ in my eyes. I always connected it with approval seeking and to a degree, I think it also was. Both guys must have sensed that my interest towards them is somewhat smaller than their interest towards me and tried to compensate it with some forms of approval seeking. Naturally, at the time I had no idea what was going on. Oh no, I went around and lamented about some perceived betrayals that these guys had brought about also describing all the moments that they hurt me. Little did I know that I probably hurt them much more.
So lets now focus on the other group. See these guys were safer, because they actually did not seek for deep emotional connection. Instead, they somehow felt also safe in a more superficial relationship. They were not interested in what I felt or even to some degree who I was. Rather they were negatively surprised that there was more to me than the nice and shiny exterior which I presented to the world. It became to annoy them because it meant work. All the feelings, all the layers of meaning – that was not what they signed up for. I was left confused and frustrated, not acknowledging that this was exactly what I signed up for. Their unwillingness to go and explore made me feel safe. They could never find out about real me, because they did not have skills nor interest to do so. Instead, I would know everything about them and again, dominate the relationship.
In both cases I was in control. In the first example because I did not have equally strong feelings towards the guys and in the second case, because the guys never knew the real me. The topic itself is wide enough so I will probably need to eloborate in further posts about some underlying issues related to those two types of relationships. However, for some reason I suspect that these two types are not only characteristic to me, but also to some other people that struggle with letting go of control.
I have been exploring a little bit more on my recent demotivation. Nothing seemed to be quite worthwhile pursuing. I have not been disinterested or low on motivation for quite a while, ever since basic school I would say, so there was a definite need to explore further these feelings.
So what I have discovered is that my core issue (because I believe everyone has one core trauma) might be that I felt I never mattered. I was not important. My thoughts were not important, my feelings were not important. I am still exploring this, so I cannot provide very elaborate discussions on as to why I felt that way.
However I can talk about compensation strategies which I have used over the years in order to escape this feeling. Mostly I have tried to compensate through achievements and through making myself socially more acceptable, more desirable. I have sought attention and desiring eyes. I have sought after people who would care about me, extensively. At the level which is probably over the top for any grownup relationship.
My feelings of insignificance have on the other hand also led other people to disregard me. To abuse and use me both in private and work situations. Let me tell you, if you do not believe you matter, others pick up on that pretty quickly as well. So this will be one of my major challenges still ahead.
So, this is the topic that I am still exploring about myself, hence my thoughts might not be completely clear at this point.
Lets start by saying that I find myself disconnected from a lot of my earlier friends. Why? Because I am starting suspect that there was never an authentic connection there. There was a connection built on me playing the role of achiever and successful person and never actually showing everything that was behind this mask. Unfortunately once people who mostly hanged out with an achiever type of personality find out how broken you are, there is very little common left.
I have tried to force relationships based on false grounds my whole life. I never thought my real self (whatever that is) was good enough. I am still exploring where this feeling came from, but it probably had a lot to do with my mother’s constant criticism and bullying. The fact is, I never dared to tell anyone how afraid of social crowds I was, or how I was depressed on a regular basis wondering why no one loved me. I thought – who would like such a person?
I still struggle showing my face to the world. Most of the time I do not. I cover it up, I try to look more successful etc. What would I say? Hey, I feel like I have faked my whole life, but here is the secret truth about how I am really feeling about myself and my life? This is a real challenge for me. See I know I cannot continue pretending and hope that I will bond with people I actually like and who I actually care about me, but I also do not want to degrade myself.
Here comes another unfortunate aspect of my rejection issues. People, who actually do know me and like me seem to not be the kind of people I want to associate myself with. All I can see is their low self-esteem and their issues and my own reflection in them scares me to the core. See the problem, I guess is, I do not want to be me. My long standing rejection from both my parents and the world has led me to want to be someone else. Which I was for many years. But it hardly led anywhere but this feeling of disconnect and misery, as I was not really accepted nor loved for who I was.
So as you can see, I am still struggling.
I am starting to realize how I have spent my life running away from rejection. Yes, I have also pushed myself to ignore my rejection issues by going to social events which really scared me. However, I have also kept myself and invested in self-development as if finally becoming good enough would take away my fear. If only I became more beautiful, more sociable etc., I would not have this incapacitating fear anymore.
I have kid myself many years that me living abroad is a problem. Yes, it is indeed a problem, but this also allowed me to ignore the fact that even when I lived in my home country, I lived in constant fear. I felt constantly pushed to impress everybody and to perform, so that nobody could potentially point a finger to me. I hoped that once my life was perfect or at least once I will land a perfect boyfriend, this fear will go away. The truth is, no boyfriend and no amount of success could ever take the fear away.
As I started peeling off the layers (in therapy), I stopped performing, but the fear was and still is there. So instead of meeting people and performing perfection to them, I am currently at the phase of avoiding them, in the fear of becoming a subject of criticism. I am sincerely hoping that I can soon leave behind my fear of rejection. However it has been shocking to discover how big of a role it has played for me so far.
I have had to breakup with a guy for whom I moved to another country. With whom I planned kids together. With whom we talked about which house we could live in. Long story short, we both struggled with certain commitment issues at this time which resulted in me feeling less and less secure about the future and in the end deciding that I could not live in a half relationship anymore. It was too insecure and painful.
There were several years where I questioned my choice. It took me two years to get over of him. His shadow still follows me when I am thinking of a potential life partner. However, if I had to do everything over again, I would do the same. I would let go of someone who is ambivalent and cannot make up their mind about their feelings towards me.
There is a certain positive aspect about letting go of someone you love which I am only starting to understand now, years later. Namely, the knowledge that you can do this. It seems like a stupid one, but once you internalize it, it is actually a very powerful message. See, I was in a foreign country with few if any friends and yet, I let go of my ex. To me that says – no matter how much I love you, I am going to let you go if you cannot decide if you want me or not. If you were to consistently treat me disrespectfully and not work on the relationship, I would let you go. I know I can leave you behind even if you are the love of my life.
As I deal with my own commitment issues, I have found the idea of dependency vs independency in relationships to be very useful. Dependency indicates to your need for care-taking, support and wish to rely on someone; whereas independency refers to the wish to define your own being and identity.
In the past I have struggled with my need for independency. Before my therapy and even during the first years of my therapy, I had the idea that I will have to submit myself totally to what other person wants me to be. I was keen on fulfilling their every expectation, but also never understood why the idea of living together with someone made me crawl inside. Now, of course, it is understandable that if living together equals you never being able to say no or having the will of your own it will become captivating pretty quickly.
As I worked through my issues with independency and setting borders, for some time I became the opposite. As much as I had avoided enforcing my borders earlier, I now started saying no to everything. This was a necessary step and I think I am slowly coming out of this phase as well.
Now the other issue is dependency needs. I started of being extremely dependent on my boyfriend. I really struggled with individual emotional management and always relied on him to take care for my emotional needs. Him leaving for trips or whatnot was always extremely hard for me, because suddenly there was no one to take care for me.
So now, interestingly, I think I have moved to the other extreme with my dependency needs as well. Namely, I am trying to cut them down radically, distancing myself from my partner. It suddenly feels unsafe for me to rely on someone else, because they might go away. I am starting to understand how I have always found it troubling to rely on someone else, but previously was just so unable to take care for my own needs that, I felt I had no choice. I am still working on get a grip on my dependency needs and finding a healthy balance there.
I think I am not exaggerating much when I say that women are taught to be obsessed about male approval. I mean, look at the journals – seven ways to cook delicious dinner for your boyfriend, sex tricks to keep him hooked etc etc. I wonder when we will see the day that one male magazine will start talking about how to impress women with seven course dinner or at least recommendations on which kind of restaurant to take the wife. One could argue that men impress women differently, through making money etc etc, but I would still assert that there is so much stress around will he like me and nearly not enough stress on will she like me.
I read relationship blogs for fun. I like to analyze people and forums are the perfect place for this. Once in a while you get a woman asking questions like – my man cheated on me with another woman and now he cannot make up his mind as to with whom he wants to be, what can I do to make him stay? Again, at this point alarm bells should start ringing, because the real question should be, what can and should he do. By rewarding his bad behavior – cheating, you are just going to send out the message, that this is a good strategy to get you working harder.
This all is of course very personal, because I have dedicated my life to being liked by guys. My own relationship has not moved much during the last couple of years and we have had many heated discussions on family and kids. All this time I was trying to figure out how to make him commit, but to be honest, that was the wrong question to begin with. The real question is, do I want to commit to him. Is he measuring up to my standards?
Now this is a question which presumes that you do not have strong abandonment issues. My abandonment issues made it impossible for me to ask this sooner. They also made sure that my boyfriend felt like he was in total control because I would never leave him. I am currently working on my abandonment issues and to be honest as a result I understand how tired I am. I am so tired of guys who cannot make up their mind and drag the relationship on and on. I am so tired of guys who assume that of course it is woman’s dream to have a family and marriage and hence it is the woman who needs to impress him and sell him this idea. I guess I am in general tired of convincing someone of anything. In the end if the commitment is so difficult to make for one side, what is the value or the point?
Can I talk to you? Can I trust you. To be honest I just feel so scared. Everything scares me. The world, the knowledge that I have to be brave enough to go outside and face it, it scares me.
It is easier when I am anonymous. It has always felt safer for me to be anonymous. I like living in big, unrevealing block buildings. Thousands of other people like me. More weirdness. More others to judge. Nobody notices. People not knowing and noticing feels safe to me.
I like to run away when I notice a familiar face. I have taken parallel streets just to avoid facing familiar people. I have literally escaped. What is so scary about those that know me?
Maybe it is the expectations. Disappointing them. Knowing that they judge me. Knowing that they can see me. I am suddenly not part of cityscape anymore. I have been noticed, spotted out.
When you are anonymous, you have the invisibility coat. Nobody can hurt you because nobody cares. But suddenly you have become a person. They have noticed you and singled you out.
Thousands of eyes on you. Everybody agreeing that you deserve to be picked on. That you should be casted out. That you do not belong.
As long as you are invisible, then maybe you can still enjoy the warm feeling of being surrounded with people, imagining that you are not alone. But suddenly you are put on a spotlight and your aloneness becomes apparent not only for you, but also for those around you. It is like a signal – she will have nobody to protect her. It is safe to attack.
This is going to be an akward post, because it is going to contain a lot more shameful disclosure than I am used to. However, I think it is needed in order to illustrate how many of us are escaping from our pain.
Throughout the years I have used different things to ‘feel normal’. No my addiction were never the ‘typical addictions’ such as drugs or alcohol, even though I have resorted at times to drinking vine every evening. But as follows I will give examples of my addictions if for no other reasons, than for illustrating the wide variety of things that can become tools for us in avoiding to face our issues.
Before the therapy I had numerous coping tools. One could even say that the whole image and lifestyle that I was trying to sell was a coping tool. I was trying to advertise myself as a successful globetrotter. Then there was my eating disorder. I had a problematic relationship with food, sometimes I would indulge myself and then ended up running ten miles in order to be sure that I was not getting fat. See, my mother had a reverse relationship with food….she was really overweight. In my mind I absolutely did not want to become my mother.
Then there self-development. All these books about how to become a better person, how to become a better catch. Ultimately they served to satisfy my love addiction (my belief that another man would fix my problems). I believed that if I could only get this next man, everything would be fine and the pain would disappear.
Throughout therapy years there have been many other addictions. There was a shopping spree whereby I would end up buying a lot of new clothes. Remaking my style…..Then there was an addiction to online psychics. Then there were still constant guy obsessions. And then there was drama in my current somewhat dysfunctional relationship.
The problem with all these addictions is that they distract you. They make the pain a bit better but soon you are in for another dosage. The effect is never long-term and it can dull the pain for a very limited period. You get addicted to the temporal high….The period where you cannot feel the pain. You want it to last…
Yes, I have decided to give up all my addictions to certain period of time and face my emotions as they come. To deal with them hands on. But, it has taken me five years in therapy to be able to make this decision.
I am realizing that part of my addiction towards unavailable men or men who blow hot and cold is, that I finally want someone to come for me. Instead of chasing my unavailable parents, I want them to chase me. I want to prove to myself that people do care and are willing to go extra mile for me.
Never before have I realized how much it hurt that my mother was willing to threaten me with abandonment during our fights. I felt like I was a commodity that could be easily cast away. Just as long as I am useful and compliant I am worth keeping, but as soon as I am not useful anymore, well – bye bye.
So I want to reverse the pattern. I want someone to care about whether they are losing me or not, instead of me constantly fighting for their love and care. I want for the first time in my life feel that I am in control, instead of constantly worrying about others abandoning me.
Quite ridiculously though, I am seeking this feeling of control, appreciation and loyalty from all the wrong sources. I am seeking this for people who are unavailable or used to being in command themselves. I am repeating the old patterns of chasing someone’s love and loyalty. No, not only in love relationships, but also in friendships. My desire to have someone fighting for me has lead me to people similar to my parents (yes also my unavailable father who kept showing up once in a while, wanting me to convince him to visit me more often). Somewhere there is a hope that once I get these people to chase me, all the evils of my childhood will be undone.