For the past weeks I have been working with my trust issues regarding other people. Namely, I had the type of controlling mother that used ‘the take away’ tactic a lot, meaning she just threatened to take away her support, my home whatever that there was to take away when I did not do as she pleased.
I can use a good recent example of this as I am currently visiting. So my mum wanted me to clean the attic which for her is a bit more uncomfortable for various reasons. However she asked me five days before me leaving. Since she still needs to be next to me and supervise, I did my best to find a common time. I then quickly realized that my mum had four days of my staying already reserved and in fact there was only one particular day she could have done the cleaning. When I told her that no can do, I have plans for this day already, she threw a hissy fit and then promised to cancel one trip which we have planned together for the summer.
Each time she does these things I am thinking whether I should stop the contact altogether. I have mixed feelings in relation to that, partially because stopping all contact seems quite extreme and I think I would miss the occasional keeping in touch, on the other hand also because she being in my home country and offering me a place to stay comes in handy. But I understand that she has always been manipulating me with taking away these very benefits like the accommodation, but also her presence and connection. It somehow feels a bit like keeping in touch with her makes me weak and vulnerable and still susceptible to such threats.
It is exactly the same pattern which existed with my ex as well. My ex would give me his support until he thought I had done something that displeased him and then resorted to threats – threats of leaving me, verbal assaults, silent treatment etc. I was constantly being punished for disobeying.
There is a lot to discuss on this matter still and I am in the process of ruminating over the matter.
So lately I am starting to feel as if I am reentering to my life. No, do not get me wrong, plenty of more challenges to grapple, but I at least have a feeling like I can participate in my life again.
It is difficult to explain to someone who has never been in psychotherapy how therapy feels. Lets put it like this, you know the feeling that you get when you are really ill and in bed – well therapy creates such a feeling, but psychologically. So coming out of therapy is like going out after a long illness, you feel weird walking, but you also enjoy the freshness of the air on your skin. I now have this sense of freshness and some relief. This relief is still mixed with weakness and occasional signs from the illness, but at least I can go out.
However, I am thinking back to my twenties. Twenties for many people are the carefree time of enjoyment, partying – you now feeling less responsibilities on your shoulders than any time else. My twenties were mostly spent either on being really dysfunctional and unhealthy before therapy or being completely disengaged and barely ‘alive’ during the therapy. So now I feel like I somehow missed this little rest that most people have, before they get to the life with mortgages, kids, taking care of your ageing parents etc. And you know, as I am facing these future responsibilities, I still feel tired of my intense psychotherapy and I still feel I am learning how to be functional.
So, I guess I am scared. I am scared that there will never be too much enjoyment in my life. That I will always struggle, it is just different kinds of struggles. I am even afraid that maybe I will burnout at some moment. There have been so many struggles during the past ten years that I am not sure how long I can keep up with this kind of life. The only hope that I have is that, maybe therapy has prepared me to cope with many of these challenges in an effortless way.
So recently I have been reading the book called “Don’t call it love: Breaking the cycle of relationship dependency”. As the title indicates, the book has gotten me thinking about my own dependency.
To be honest, I am not sure where I stand in my recovery. I know that before therapy I was a hardcore relationship dependent, going from one relationship to another, delegating responsibility for my life to other people etc. Now for the first time in my life I seem to be OK with the idea of being single. Well, part of me seems to be OK with it. So I assume progress has been made. However….
The truth be told, I have my other addictions which I use in order to cope with my sense of helplessness. I still do not feel quite in control of my life and the idea of having to accept full responsibility for it overwhelms and exhausts me. It seems altogether too much. Going from believing that the only way you can exist is through someone else taking care of you to well, I need to take care of myself. Suddenly you discover all these areas of your life which you hope some future partner will take care of.
In my case I hoped my future partner will take care of my financial situation, my accommodation, my lacking friends circle, my past time activities, my emotional stability….I guess these are the main things. Having to accept responsibility for all this myself seems too much too soon.
I have been ill already twice during this spring. I assume that my illnesses have something to do with this feeling of overwhelm which is accompanied by my acknowledgement that I will need to take care of all these areas myself. My body is reacting to the stress. I wish there was an easy way to get used to accepting this responsibility. Others usually get to mature and take these responsibilities step by step. I feel with me it is all hitting me at once. It is extremely tiring and my body just wants to shut down, I guess…
I have never dated….Here you have it. Dating has never attracted me and with the kind of trust issues which I have, web platforms were the last place where I would look for someone…Seriously.
Lately, I have pushed myself. What surprises me about online men (mind the term) is the quickness people want to do their business. No, I do not mean some random guys wanting to hook up with me (although even there I am amazed by their lack of flirting skills) but guys who allegedly look for serious partner. After one conversation, somehow guys start sending me good morning messages. They start writing to me after they have returned from a party on Friday night. To me it seems weird.
However, where I am seriously lost is, do only I think it is weird? Is it my distance and trust issues lashing up again? I am sure that part of it is true. However, I think this is not only it. There seems to be some desperation for creating some false intimacy. People seem to long for closeness, but they do not really want to do things that would lead to that closeness. It is like you want to go to the store and say – I would take this package of intimacy, please.
I feel uncomfortable with that. My relationships have always taken some time to develop. I think relationships need time to develop. You cannot just strike a conversation online with someone one evening and then the next day act like this was your partner. I mean where does this come from? Are people not really themselves aware of the problems with that behavior?
It is kind of like one night stand, but for intimacy. One night love, perhaps? You have clear needs that need to be satisfied, but you do not really have the patience to take time to ensure the long-term satisfaction. Instead, you go for something that seems to be more like an instant gratification. But, unlike with one night stand, where people understand that this is temporary and that this is not an OK behavior for relationship, one night lovers seem to be of the idea that this is it. This is how love is supposed to function. You can actually skip perhaps even meeting the other one face to face and just go to the phase of the relationship where you have someone who would emotionally support you and be interested in you and everything you do.
This is just the beginning of my musing on that topic. I will reflect longer about my own emotional issues behind these occurrences.
My default mode is to give responsibility for my life to someone else….Anyone else that agrees to take it. I mean, anyone else would be better qualified to take this responsibility than me, myself. I wonder why?
Of course, add to the equation also the fact that I do not really trust other people to stick around and you get a funny combination. I want someone to prove to me that they can take this responsibility and that I can count on them, but I am never convinced that I actually can.
So I can see two issues here. One is that I keep hoping that someone else will help me with things which any responsible adult should be able to handle themselves. The other problem is though my trust issues. And guess what, as much as I wanted to meet this person who would take responsibility for my life, I ran into two interlinked problems.
The first issue was that no one really wants to be responsible for another adult. I mean this is too much responsibility. I mean, whoever wants to be responsible, you should be suspicious off, because likely there is a significant tradeoff somewhere. The other issue was of course that I also tended to choose guys that were either instable or too immature to stick around once I had serious problems.
I am trying to take the responsibility for my life nowadays, but it is long and difficult process. It has its relapses.
Today I want to talk about some illogical connections which my childhood has created in my head. There is really not a better word I can currently find for that as I am still exploring the issue myself.
So the thing is, my childhood was about somehow finding out a way how to control my mother’s reactions to me. The whole childhood I entertained the idea that if I only tried hard enough, I would find a way to control these reactions and her dysfunctional emotions. So that was one and most primary purpose behind why I did things and also largely defined where I chose to put my efforts to. Mostly my efforts went to studying well and well, not making myself too visible. Just being low key and not driving any attention to myself. Of course I also suffered on constant anxiety – a feeling I could never really make sense of when I was a child. Anyways, I invested to something which my mother held dear – namely schoolwork. The rest, well….obviously was not of much importance or well did not give any significant effect as to whether my mother would be happy or not.
The problem here is that somehow such a focus came to define my life. During the university I focused on my school work. As other people explored social life and other things, I hanged along to a degree, but in my mind this was not important. I had internalized the idea that as long as I do well in school, everything will be fine. Labor market was scary for me, because school provided the safe haven. The only place where I knew how things function.
Such exaggerated focus to schoolwork during my growing up years and treating the success in school as some kind of key to success to all other areas of life has had a termendous effect on how I live my life. I have continuously ignored other areas thinking that if only work hard enough, somehow other areas would fall into place. Somehow I would feel more safe and somehow I would not experience problems in my finances etc. It is kind of magical thinking really – and the kind of thinking which does not help one in life. I have focused so much on my work because that was the only thing where I felt I could excercize some kind of control. School – the only thing that allowed me to somewhat control my mother’s reactions and feel like I am less dependent on her moods.
That is not how life works though…..
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.
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.