Commitment phobia and trust issues

I am starting to understand that my addiction towards unavailable men has two main causes. One has been my feelings of unlovability which have now finally been addressed. The other one, however, is feeling that I cannot trust anyone. This is all evasive feelings which is now coming up strongly.

Finally I understand how I in fact do not want to let anyone close enough. I am afraid. I am afraid that they either become mean and put me down or that they will leave me. It is somehow safer to be in distance, because then at least nobody can hurt me. Then they will not endager my safety. I am at least somewhat in control. But somebody coming in, trying to torn down my wall of safety……this is so damn scary.

I am also starting to understand why physical contact has always been problematic for me. Why I needed to get drunk in order to enjoy physical contact. It is again the same feeling – I am unsafe. Someone is coming inside my bubble. They cannot be trusted.

It is very difficult to describe this feeling to someone who has never experienced it before. It is partially the feeling that you are all alone and partially the feeling that someone is trying to torn down the walls that you have built. You do not understand that in fact these walls to assure that you will be all alone. But you want to protect yourself against other people, not to show that you are so alone and defenseless. You assume that if they would know, they would automatically use it. If they knew you are so helpless they would abuse you. So this is how you never even give people a chance to prove the opposite. They will never get close enough for you to be convinced that they in fact are safe.

So who are the people who are willing to be in a relationship with someone like this? Other people with intimacy issues. No sane person would like to hang around someone who is mortally afraid of intimacy.

Deciding and becoming the person you want to be

One of the most fundamental events in my life was no doubt meeting and breaking up with my ex boyfriend, lets call him here Paul. See Paul was this committed, hard-working, responsible, wise etc etc guy. I idealized him. Among other things Paul was however also very perfectionistic and I never felt that I measured up to his standards. Not really. A familiar feeling which had sent me my whole life with my mother.
Breakup with Paul devastated me. In my mind he was someone the kind I would never find in my life. After Paul I met Greg, my current partner. Greg seemingly at least in the beginning appreciated me the way I was. The problem was, I did not like myself very much at this point. I did not respect myself much.
Now all the self-help books tell us about affirmations and all the other bullshit. In my opinion telling to yourself six times a day that you are lovable does not really change much. And I am going to also make a really harsh statement here – sometimes you have some work to do with yourself in order to be at least more lovable. I know everybody keeps telling how one’s partner needs to accepted them for who they are, but frankly, if you partner is obsessive gambler – would you really want to accept them this way. Or furthermore, would it do them any good if you did? In my case I was irresponsible at the point I dated my ex. I did not take responsibility nor for my life nor my feelings. I just kept believing that a man could solve all my problems. I just shifted all the responsibility to Paul. Now mind me, but this is not a very lovable behavior.
During next years Paul’s words kept haunting me in my self-development. He was my staple for male ideal and I guess partially I wanted to become worthy of him. Now on some level it sounds sick and twisted, but on another level I think it is a good idea. It is similar to having role models in life. Paul to me helped to define who I want to be.
So who do I want to be and how has therapy helped me to reach there? Well, I want to be someone who does not complain about her life, but actually does something to improve this. I want to be someone who dares to show other her real colors. I want to have integrity in all parts of my life. I want to be faithful to my commitments.
I think the previous pretty much describes the most important values for me. So with five years in therapy I have lost quite a bit in my easy-goingness and my lust for life. I am also not the center of parties. I am not this cute, smiley and innocent girl. But instead I have become someone who I think if I met today, could respect.
I will never meet up with Paul again, I think. But I suspect that he as well, would be proud of me today.

Bullying and feeling unsafe in the world

I am currently working on my feelings of unsafety and I am realizing how threatened I have felt my whole life.

I have been bullied, pretty much all through life. Even during my adulthood people have given me shitty treatment. I was constantly scared when going to parties and new social surroundings – what if I will be casted out and bullied again? In my mind I have always been this helpless four year old child.

My bullying started at the age of four when I moved together with my grandparents and had to move to small town. I was the new kid, easy to pick on because my mother had just moved away to another country and I found readjusting really complicated. From there on everything continued like a bad dream. I moved again, to the foreign country to live with my mother. Naturally I was again the new kid. Then I moved again and again. Altogether I moved four times and each time I had to deal with hostile kids. As if this was not enough, I also got a huge scar to my face which made me excellent laughing material even for strangers at the street.

By the age of fifteen I had seen it all. The bullying just continued and continued. I became so scared that it was obvious from my behavior and even strangers could pick it up. This how I also attracted several pedophiles who harassed me (luckily the worst it ever got was dry humping). In addition the whole situation at home with a mother who had moments of rage did not help either.

Needless to say that I have carried this fear with me for years.  For years I avoided passing my old school. Now I avoid going back home. Every time I go there I imagine someone meeting me and starting to bully me again. Even though I feel quite lonely in where I am right now, I am scared to return to my home country. Scared of those people who once bullied me telling me – I told you that you will never amount to anything. Scared of my friends giving me judgmental looks (I unfortunately chose multiple friends who were extremely judgmental of me).

Yes. I am scared of people. This is me in the beginning of solving this issue so I assume there will be more of such posts where I try to understand and reconfigure this fear.

When you seem to not get out of the viscous circle of commitment phobes

This post is going to be rather personal. I am dealing currently with my anxieties and issues around the fact that I am soon probably the only one in my close circle that does not have a family. Sometimes I keep asking myself where did I go wrong? Sometimes I also keep asking myself, is it already too late for me?

My commitment issues have pushed me to be together in non-commitmental relationships. Hell, in my first relationships I did not even want to tell to anyone that I was in a relationship. No wonder that the relationships did not take off. My last relationship has had its own non-commitmental quality as my boyfriend has kept telling me that we will discuss family next year. Now that the next year argument does not fly anymore, he conveniently shifted the argument to – we will discuss family if you agree to move to my home country. Note that nothing says that we will actually have a family in this case, it is more that this is a precondition to even start a discussion.

To be honest I am sad and scared. In my heart of hearts I understand that moving to another foreign country for a guy who so far has not made any significant commitment would be another mistake from my side. See this is exactly what happened with my ex. I moved, he did not have to make any significant investment and was even reluctant to promise me anything when I moved. Somehow I keep putting myself to these situations and honestly I am tired of it. It is not always courage that saves the day, some risks are honestly stupid. In hindsight I would say that it was stupid to move to another country for someone who did not make any commitment.

Yes, I keep hanging out in these relationships, even though I also at the same time feel sad. The last phase is to figure out what attracts me to these guys and how to get passed it. One thing I know, I am so exhausted of such non-commitmental relationships that soon I am rather willing to be single than invest my energy into someone who keeps telling me that things will change if only….

Sometimes you just want things to change. You want them to change quicker than they do. I want my life to change. I want to change the kind of relationships I engage in. But I seem to be psychologically tailored towards wishy-washy guys and seem to be struggling to make these changes. To be honest, my belief in my capability to recognize a decent guy has gone down a lot. I am struggling with my dark foresight that the next relationship will just be much the same. The problem is also that it is not like these guys outright tell you that they have commitment issues (or maybe they have those with me). No, they keep telling you something about the nice future. I do know it has worked for some girls. The nice future aspect has never worked for me. SO you never know when to give up. I have been postponing giving up for so long that I am starting to question my ability to move on at all.

 

Controlling through conditional love and problems in decision-making

I have a great fear of doing something wrong. I am literally mortified of making wrong decisions. In my mind there is always one right way to go and god forbid if I do not choose this one.

My fear of decision making or in general disappointing people in my life can be easily explained by the conditional caretaking that I received. Let me explain further. The goal of my life was not to disapprove my mother. As long as I conformed to her desires, I had some little emotional support. However, when my mother was disappointed, she would withdraw her love and support (threats to disown me, silent treatment etc). The knowledge that I was always just a step away from losing all the support made me people pleaser, but it also made me incapable of making my own decisions.

The worst thing that result in such a parenting was constant uncertainty. I could never be sure when I will disappoint my mother again. Furthermore, I could never be sure what the punishment will be. Sometimes my bad grades were just ignored (mother was in a good mood), sometimes they became the reason to kick me out on the street. The worst part about making mistakes was hence not the punishment but not knowing the consequences. Usually when I got a bad mark I was so stressed out the rest of the day that I could hardly focus on anything else. I had to call to my mother immediately once I got home, to just get rid of the feeling of approaching unknown danger.

So today, as well, I am most afraid of not knowing what comes. What if I make the wrong choice, what will it result in? I cannot handle insecurity at all. I am just constantly afraid that something bad is about to happen.

Now at least I can understand better as to why I am so mortally afraid of doing something wrong.

fear of enmeshment

I have been seeing nightmares lately. They are mostly the same – somebody is pushing themselves on me. I am realizing that it has become time to work on my enmeshment issues.

Many people that have had an abusive childhood suffer from both, abandonment fear and enmeshment. The only problem is that abandonment fear is much easier to notice, because well……it somehow makes more sense. It has taken me a while to understand why I cringe when my boyfriend suddenly touches me. Why I enjoy evenings on my own. It is all a consequence of having lived my whole life the way my mother wanted me to.

My childhood was all about meeting my mother’s needs. I did not have needs. Or well, if I did they were not important. In fact I did not have personality either because I was running all my decisions pass my mother. Any kind of act of not complying to her needs was met with either silent treatment, anger or rage. So I learned pretty fast to no take care of myself, but take care of my mother instead.

Unsurprisingly I have done the same in my relationships. I have tried to mold myself to a person my boyfriend wants me to be. Not to anger him. Interestingly, he has been complaining throughout the relationship that I am not in tune with his needs enough. That I am too ignorant of him.

This is probably true and untrue at the same time. I am escaping when his needs are starting to overwhelm me. On the other hand I have spent years trying to be what he wants me to be. So I have had two main strategies to deal with his needs. Unfortunately I have not had the most important strategy – saying no, instituting borders.

This is what I am currently doing and it is met……well, might I say not with the greatest excitement. I am finally becoming more independent and people in my life cannot hold me hostage anymore.

However, part of becoming independent is also working through my fear of anybody coming close. Right now every person who comes close to me is a potential abuser. I suspect that they want to dominate me and that they want to rob me of my own choices. They want to smother my personality and I would dissolve like I dissolved for 25 years with my mother.

Missing your abusive parent?

I am working deeper with my abandonment fear and it has brought up quite a contradiction – namely you can think that someone is not particularly good and still be scared to death of losing them. I still harbor all the negative feelings towards my mother for putting me through emotional abuse and neglect, but I also have to acknowledge that I was constantly scared of losing her.

I was not only scared when she threatened to leave me, but also when she went for her work trips. I was scared when she came home really late. I had lost three other people – my dad, my grandfather and my grandmother. I spent my childhood worrying that I would also lose my mother.

This fear of loss is something which is extremely difficult for me to acknowledge. For the reasons I brought out earlier. How can you potentially miss and yearn for someone who is not treating you nicely? Does this make you a doormat? Are you still a valuable person or should you be ashamed of this feeling?

Surely, it is easy to answer to these questions when we are talking about a child. For a child loosing their parent is always scary. No matter how abusive this parent is. But what if you carry those feelings to adulthood? What if you are constantly scared of losing people who are not treating you particularly nicely?

Being an adult who is afraid of letting go is somewhat shameful. We have all these concepts like codependent or pushover etc. In my case, feeling like I was a pushover for my whole childhood and finally getting angry at my mother for what she had done, made it impossible for me to explore all the fear that was still related to losing her. Somehow I thought that acknowledging this part would make me weak. It would be the most shameful aspect of my growing-up. The part that I still missed and also loved my mother.

Trying to control by being perfect

I have dedicated my life by trying to handle the chaos by working on myself. I tried to control my ex-boyfriends feeling for me by improving myself. I tried to control my current boyfriend’s moods by perfecting myself. This has been the only reliable thing in my life – my ability to improve and approach perfection.

See the thing is, I grew up in an environment where nothing was secure. My mother’s emotional reactions to me were totally random. Sometimes she would lash out because I had not cleaned floor, sometimes she would ignore the dirty dishes lying around. However, believing that I had no control over her anger outbursts and her infrequent praise, would have been too threatening. So I just believed that if I only work enough with myself, if I am only perfect enough……I will feel safe. The continuing instability at home was just a proof that I was not working hard enough.

I have reached to the point where the part of me who always tries to be perfect is crumbling. I am just too tired. I am realizing that me being perfect does not help me to control my insecure career neither does it salvage my emotionally instable relationship.

It is a scary thought. There was a reason why I was so invested in becoming perfect. Because the alternative was to face my powerlessness and the obviously abusive nature of my mother’s parenting. So I am getting glimpses of this insecurity now. My walls are falling……so does my ideal on achieving security by pleasing and not causing trouble.

Are you attracted to critical people?

I am reframing several of my relationships in my life. I am noticing how my low self-esteem and my tendency to ask others for their opinions has attracted several people in my life who by definition are very critical of me. I look at my old friends and I get surprised by how they think is fine to relate to me and how they often times put me down in their way of relating.

My low self-esteem and the tendency of these people to be critical of me once formed a perfect system. They reinforced the whole continuum. On one hand, I was convinced that I needed these people to tell me how to live my life and that I should be grateful that they are willing to bare me. On the other hand, me asking for constant advice and acting helpless made these people feel important and made sure that their attention was directed away from their own problems. They always had a comparison with me which assured them that they were at least better than me.

I am slowly cutting such people out of my life. I am slowly trying to surround myself with people who are more supportive of me. Who instead of judging me, offer me support when need be and give me space if I need to figure things out on myself. I, myself, try to show up more in these relationships as well, offer my support. Move away from my helplessness to fully participate in reciprocal relationships. I am taking steps from becoming an adult, not someone who needs to be guided and taken care of.

How much should you be ready to change in the relationship?

I have been lately thinking about relationships in a more philosophical level. The main question that bothers me is – how much should you be willing to change yourself for the sake of the relationship. I am going to use my own example in order to illustrate why this question bothers me.

I am someone who wishes to feel secure. I am used to looking for security outside of myself. Now, I am aware that this might not be the wisest thing to do. I am even aware that subsuming to this desire might be the basic problem in my life. Yet, I find it hard to accept that I can never rely on my partner the way I would like to rely on a man.

My therapy based self approaches the matter from the perspective of growth, telling me that, this might just as well be something I need to learn myself. My boyfriend is there in order for me to get rid of this complex. However, to what degree can you really get rid of such an existential fear? Will I ever feel convenient with someone who is quite unpredictable? Should I not just find someone who helps me to manage this fear, by acting responsible and reliable? Would that be just indulging in my complex? Creating a co-dependent relationship?

Psychological literature likes to talk about independence and self-sufficiency. I am a little bit doubtful about all this. My way of thinking goes – if you are aware of your weak spots, why not to find a partner who can compensate for those? I guess, unlike many other people, I have never thought that my partner needs to be very similar to me. Contrary, I like when my partner is different, I like when they add something, when they have different perspective. I like it. Therefore it is very difficult for me to understand my partner, who constantly complains over our differences.