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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

So this is what it feels like.

I called Therapist today in a panic.

I've been noticing a change inside of me. It started about three months ago. I was a little alarmed when I noticed it, but then it went away and everything was normal again. But over the past six weeks the change has taken root, grown, and today it feels like a normal part of me.

It's difficult to explain, but I'll reference the millions of posts I've written about relationships. I've always known I feel differently about people than others do. When I meet someone I care deeply about, I'm thrown into a vortex of whirling emotions--insecurity, because I'm fairly certain I shouldn't love anyone; guilt, because I'm pretty sure if that person knew me well, he/she would be insulted that I care enough to desire friendship or love from them; delight, because it feels incredibly joyful to love someone with one's entire soul; sadness, because I know, in time, the person will outgrow me; and helplessness, because I understand there is nothing I can do to change the normal cycle of friendships.

Naturally, all this makes me a bit angry and more than a bit frustrated. Most of my friends have talked with me about it. They assure me that they have no plans to abandon our friendship, but life does happen and they must live it, and, let's be honest, friends are nice. The end. They aren't family. They aren't employment. They aren't romance. They're just nice to have around.

I have felt differently. Those people I have allowed close to me (a very rare thing) are not "just friends". They somehow become a large part of my life, and I feel a great deal of animosity when they refer to our "friendship"--because I know what that means. It means all this love and time and joy is a temporary investment, and a cheap one, at that. It's one which can be lost and forgotten for years on end, then dusted off and remembered occasionally. It's one that is easily replaced by another friend who will be replaced by another, and another, and another... In my mind, it is the embodiment of how I have always viewed my role in the lives of other people: someone who brings laughter and humor, but while diverting, is quickly forgotten and rarely a topic of conversation or a fleeting memory. I know I shouldn't want it, but I have always wished for more, something lasting and beautiful and meaningful.

Therapist has been telling me for four years that I have that with my spouse. He's correct, of course, but I suppose I'm greedy, for I wished that I might have deep friendships, nonsexual relationships, which were maintained and desired by both parties. It's not that I want to take anything from my relationship with Darrin, it's just that I missed that part of nurturing when I was growing up. The human intimacy one has with a parent, sibling, or best friend. I could never have those things because I was too afraid, too hurt, and I had no idea how to develop those relationships because one learns how in the home, as a child--except, I didn't. I wanted, even as an adult, to have what I saw others receiving, and I felt guilty for desiring it.

The first time I experienced REAL nonsexual touch, intimate closeness which had no sexual overtones either from me or the person I was with, happened four years ago. And for the first time in my memory, every part of me relaxed--I knew I was safe. The person touching me wanted nothing from me. It felt miraculous, impossible, and amazing. I had never, ever, felt that before.

I suppose, partly because of that experience, and partly because I was learning to connect with people, build relationships based on who I really was and not on who I assumed the other person wanted me to be, I felt a consuming need to cling to every person who entered my life, which in turn made me feel guilty. So I tried to sort everything out here, in my blog, as well as in conversations with Therapist, Darrin, and those friends who were close to me. I ended up solving nothing.

And so, now I find myself here. For about six weeks I've felt my anxiety about my friendships easing. I've found myself accepting the fact that in time, most of those people will move out of my life for many different reasons and that doesn't mean they no longer care about me, just that the need for my presence and company has waned. And I'm not panicking, or feeling sick, or wanting to scream because I can't change things. I'm just feeling like this is part of life--not my favorite part, for sure--but still, it happens and no one seems to die or anything like that because it happens.

I was surprised, I suppose, because I didn't expect I would ever be able to calmly accept what used to make me feel incredibly sad. Which is why I called Therapist. I needed to see what he would tell me.

Therapist said this means my emotions are swinging back into a normal range, and I should expect my levels of anxiety to calm down along with this. Also, I'm learning how to navigate normal relationships and all this is a good thing. I'm not running from people, or trying to force them to go away. I'm not being clingy or needy. I'm just allowing everything to run its course. Oh, and he's proud of me.

My heart wonders how it can be good to lose a desire which used to feel normal, and beautiful, and and integral part of who I am. My head reminds my heart that this same desire also brought with it enormous amounts of insecurity and fear. Heart reminds Head that the closeness and care I received in my relationships are not things I wish to lose. Head reminds Heart that it takes two...sigh...

Therapist says I'll find a new way to relate to my friends, one that's comfortable for us both. He says he believes this emotional shift will help me feel more free to express myself and to not feel tied to people...except I don't believe I've ever felt I couldn't express myself and feeling ties of love has not been a burden at all.

But maybe, with time, I'll stop feeling sad about what feels like losing an essential part of me and I'll figure out how everyone else manages this part of their lives. And maybe someday I'll feel happy about finally getting what I wanted--understanding and acceptance of how friendships work--just like everyone else.

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