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.
One problem with psychotherapy is that it totally takes away your attention from life planning. For a while you will be happy if you can get daily things done, but you will have no strength nor wish to focus on wider goals.
Well, now I am slowly entering to the phase where I am looking at my wider goals in life again and it freaks me out. You know, I have always considered myself quite helpless to do things like this and thought that life happened to me rather than me leading my life. So all this sudden responsibility and the idea that I now have to take a look at my life again and the things I want from it scares the hell out of me. I feel alone and unsupported and lost. I feel like there have been many areas of my life that have been seriously neglected through all my time in therapy. Needing to tend these areas now just freaks me out, because it looks messy.
As I am becoming more aware of my needs and things I want from my life, I am also made acutely aware of the problems in acquiring those things. Furthermore, it seems like I am some ten years late with thinking about all these things. So suddenly all these life goals overwhelm and confuse me. I am expecting some really big changes in my life and I am scared as hell. Taking responsibility for my life and my decisions has never been my strong suit. Sustaining the momentum and then complaining about it is something which I have developed above average skills in. So obviously this new idea that I need to go, alone and take responsibility and there is no one to guide me terrifies me.
So this is it. I am still on the scared phase, but I am hoping that the fact itself that I now start to recognize my agency is a development.
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.
Well, this is my record, two post a day, but I have just noticed something amazing about myself. Namely as intriguingas it may sound, after years of being attracted to unavailable guys, I am finally starting to develop a certain tiredness about them. The mind games, the chasing, all this seems like a bad copy of the real thing. The really deep relationship. I mean how much depth can you really have if one or both sides keep disappearing and taking their distance? So yeah, guys who are inconsistent start to tire me. Or rather even kind of bore me, because eventually even they become predictable in their ways.
Here is the thing. Unfortunately that also includes my partner, who has always harbored a habit of disappearing when he is visiting his home country. He is a caring man, who once in a while needs to demonstrate to me that I do not have a complete hold of him. It is like he is protesting against something by becoming unavailable. Telling me, you do not own me.
Well, to me the messages is finally coming across, loud and clear. I really do not own him. I really do not even have him or if I do, then only temporarily until the next exit. But what is the point of this insecurity? Really why do I need someone who is in and then he is out. Sure he can be the most caring person ever when he is in, but seriously? How much can I really enjoy this feeling knowing that he will be out soon again.
But my tiredness of such guys and my wish to distance myself from taking responsibility for their behavior is actually a good sign. I used to be confident that there was something I did that would drive my boyfriend and all the other unavailable guys away. Like it was my fault when they were distancing themselves.
Finally I am starting to see these guys for what they are – Guys trying to avoid closeness because they are too afraid of being controlled. Guys who will see the attempt to control even where there is genuine concern. Guys who will probably never become consistent and guys who will never provide me for what I want.
I grew up with the feeling that I was doing everything wrong. After all, when something happened at home, I was the first one to point a finger at. If my mother was in a bad mood, I was the first one to be blamed for it. Inside of me, there grew a feeling that I could never get it right.
So this is how I become people pleaser. I wanted to get it right. I really tried hard. When I got negative feedback, I tried harder. I worked longer. I went out of my way to achieve whatever I thought would bring me my mother approval.
It was not only that I grew sad because of constant blaming. No, I also felt afraid. Afraid that again, I might have done something wrong and this would entirely ruin my safety. After all, my mother angry was a horrible view. She did not control her actions at all. For a small child it felt life threatening.
So, in order to avoid dealing with this anger, I internalized her messages. I developed a strong critic that was always able to see potentially pitfalls in my actions. I started to see myself as always wrong. Soon she did not even have to say anything, I already blamed myself to the degree that what she said was completely irrelevant.
So when my inner critic got stronger, I started feeling more and more wrong. Inside of me there has always been this sadness. Feeling of being devalued and unregonized. I, in fact, have devalued myself the most. I have no idea how to solve this yet, but I am trying to move slowly towards banishing this inner critic so that I could stop blaming myself for all the things in my life that I have not achieved.
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?