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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Moving on

The wind woke me this morning with gusts of around 40 miles per hour. I'm still awake because I'm worried about Tabitha and Adam doing their paper route in the windstorm. Tabitha (all seventy pounds of her) assured me that it was a hard wind, but not a cold one, and they'd be fine. I'm waiting for them to come home, hoping that she's right.

I had thought that I'd work on a few things to help my PTSD symptoms over the next few weeks. I realized as I tried to do so that I'm not ready and I may never become ready. I have been successful in learning to reroute my nightmares and as I do so flashbacks also seem to decrease. Occasionally I find myself in a situation that triggers a flashback, but if the situation is not unexpected (like my dentist appointment) I can prepare prior to the visit, which seems to be helpful. I am still lamentably unable to deal with close relationships. I vacillate between wanting to maintain them, knowing they are good for me, responding to the healthy intimacy I find there, and feeling stressed at having people close to me, being unable to interpret tacit inferences that others seem to take for granted, fear that I will lose what I have, desire for everyone to go away.

It is that last aspect of PTSD (which sort of boils down to trust issues) that I thought I would work on. Darrin and I discussed the things I do to keep people at a distance. Darrin says that anyone who doesn't know me well would not notice that these things are happening. Since I, myself, don't even notice most of the time that I'm using these devices, he suggested we make a list:
1. I talk about myself enough to satisfy curiosity, but draw the line at discussing deep feelings or important experiences/ideas. Darrin suggests that in the friendships where I've allowed myself to talk about things that affect me deeply, I am insecure and stressed.
2. I ask questions about the friend, but only to the point where I feel that I understand enough to carry on a conversation. Questions that would allow me to understand his/her roots and background are avoided as are any questions that might have answers that will encourage me to feel tied to that person somehow (childhood/family anecdotes, ideology, personal likes/dislikes, past emotional experiences). Basically, the more I know about a person, the more I care about them. Limiting my knowledge allows me to distance myself at any given opportunity.
3. I take time off. Darrin says I tell my friends that I've very busy (and, indeed, I make certain that I am) so that I can have time to tone down any of my own feelings toward them that have become acute. He believes that I love people intensely, but as long as that intensity is not returned, I feel safe in that level of feeling. As soon as someone begins to care about me in a personal way, I suddenly become very busy and less available.
4. I block friends/family from knowing my personal likes/dislikes and rely on stereotypical things to satisfy their curiosity. For example, on my birthday Darrin asks me what he can give me and I always say, "I'd love some flowers and an evening out with you." This is a truthful statement, but he points out that he and my kids have no idea, other than flowers, what I like. I block even them.

I made a list of people with whom I wanted to maintain an authentic friendship. I made a list of things I thought might make the friendship more genuine on my part. I attempted to carry through with the items on that list. I forgot a couple of things, though. First, sometimes people are comfortable with the status quo. They don't need our friendship to deepen and they're okay if I hide behind my walls. I asked a few well-placed questions and realized that what might be helpful to me, would not necessarily be helpful to them. Second, I can't really work on this because I still firmly believe that when my usefulness or entertainment allure has run its course, there will no longer be a reason to maintain any friendship. I'm not being mercenary about this. I've just realised that sometimes people run out of things to talk about, and regardless of how much they care for each other, when communication becomes strained caring begins to wane. This is not something I've instigated to distance myself from friends, it just happens. I think most everyone has experienced it in some form. As long as I accept that sooner or later all people will become tired of me, it seems pointless to try to strengthen any relationships. It requires incredible effort on my part for something that is destined for demise. In truth, I'm not ready to try. I'm becoming more certain that I never will be.

I was chatting with Tolkien Boy last night. I thought it might be a good time to try something from my friendship authentification (I know--not a word--don't care) list. Last week I mentioned that I might want to do that if it was okay with him. He said, of course. But last night I realized that this is all futile. I don't believe in what I'm doing. I don't want to do it. I don't believe that it's mutually beneficial. It's impossible to accomplish what I'm trying to do unless both parties desire a shift in the relationship--and just how am I supposed to know what my friends really want? I honestly believe that as long as they have access to me, however limited, that's all that's required. And this crap about human intimacy and close friendships is nothing more than someone's way of letting me know that there are things in life that I don't understand. And actually, I've decided I'm okay with that.

Therapist would tell me that I'm spending my life in a bubble I've created to keep me safe emotionally. While that may be true, I don't think anyone in my life is worried about that. People adapt to individual situations. I'm pretty open about my theories of human relationships. I rarely ask people to stay when they wish to go, or to give anything that he/she would not willingly give. I've only had one instance where a friend (Sheila) told me that she noticed I was always careful to keep distance between us. Since I came out to her, she's stopped complaining about that. Nice how life seems to balance everything out.

I suppose what I'm saying is this: I feel that I'm trying to change something that cannot be changed. There is no reason to fix what my friends perceive as whole. I'm not ready to deepen relationships, and probably never will be. It seems much more productive and helpful to simply fortify myself and prepare for the time when life claims my friends and I miss them.

Darrin would tell me I'm wrong--but it takes me about 20 years to believe the things he says.

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