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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Sometimes I don't like how I feel after a conversation.

I'm here tonight because I need to talk to myself. If you're not me, feel free to leave the conversation at any time.

I left a chat with Tolkien Boy tonight feeling deeply disturbed and sad. I need to figure this out.

A while ago TB told me that I was part of his life. He's said it before, but in my head it doesn't compute.

I need background here:

When I first met TB, I had no problem with spontaneously chatting with him at any time and about any thing. In my mind it didn't matter because, while I liked him a great deal, I knew that four years from then he might think of me occasionally, or phone me every couple or years, or send me a post card when he went to Great Britain, but I wouldn't really be in his life anymore so what I did while I WAS in his life had little significance.

But then four years went by and at some point he said something about "best friends", and continued our endless conversation, and visited me, and called me sometimes, and suddenly I had no frame of reference for what was happening because I don't do long-term relationships unless they're contractual.

So my response was to become freaked out in a very large way. I began to suspect that my presence was bothersome to him, that he tolerated me, but didn't really want to talk to me unless he was bored at work. And that feeling began to increase exponentially. I thought it was PTSD. I blamed it on PTSD. But maybe it was something else.

I talked with TB about what was happening. Because he's lovely and sweet, he reassured me again and again and again that he cares about me and enjoys spending time with me. It didn't help. I blamed PTSD. I don't think it was PTSD. I think it was something else.

Recently we talked about "being" in another person's life. I told him how difficult it was for me to understand that sometimes I'm thought of or spoken of by him. While I understand how truly uncomplimentary it is for me to believe TB has no connection with me unless I'm somehow present (because I think of him frequently--especially when I see something that reminds me of time we've spent together or something he cares about or just get the picture), it's still nearly impossible for me to think of myself as a key person in another's life. But I decided I needed to try to think differently and I needed to stop feeling like I was an intruder when I initiated a conversation or phone call, and I needed to be "in" TB's life, just as he is part of mine.

I did a number of things to try to revamp my thought patterns and TB responded in ways that were loving and validating, but my response was to become more and more stressed. I blamed a million other things (because I have a smorgasbord of stressful things to choose from right now), but those weren't what was causing my stress.

So then I tried to talk about it with TB tonight. That was sort of a disaster.

However, in the process of the conversation I recognized a few things:

1. I don't have context. I don't know how to have loving, close relationships with people outside of Darrin and my children. This is because, as a child, closeness and affection were rare, and they ceased completely after I turned seven. But I didn't stop loving my parents. I loved them so much it seemed to consume me--and this included the mother who abused me physically and emotionally. I loved her--deeply and with my whole soul. I remember when I was nine, lying in my bed one night, feeling how very much I loved my parents and wanting desperately to be held and told that I was loved in return. I finally ran downstairs, distraught and weeping, and nearly shouted at my parents, "Mom! Dad! I love you so much!" and then I hugged them. Their response, after the initial shock, was to return my hug rather embarrassedly, then remind me I needed to be in bed.

I wanted them to ask me to sit with them for a few minutes. I wanted them to tell me I was valued and special. I went to bed instead and cried very softly so that I wouldn't disturb anyone. What I learned from this was that my love is uncomfortable and embarrassing--and definitely not desirable. I learned that people will respond if I enthusiastically declare my love, but only because response is expected, not because it is felt. I learned I needed to keep my effusive show of affection under wraps and that I needed to never reveal how deeply I might love another person because they would find it uncomfortable and embarrassing.

2. I have internalized some things without realizing it. As part of my therapy, about four years ago, I was to talk with my mother. I was supposed to ask her how she felt towards me. I think Therapist, because he really does believe I'm awesome, believed my mother would help me understand that she loved me, she just wasn't good at expressing this, and that she was proud to have me as a daughter. However, the conversation took a turn for the bizarre when my mom let me know how glad she was to have me as a friend--she counted me as one of her closest friends--but she never really thought of me as her daughter.

I remember feeling devastated. I think my mom believed she was paying me a compliment. She had no idea how hurt I was. I was cordial and civil through the rest of our visit. After she left, I think I cried for days. I think this experience explains my animosity toward friends and friendship and my antagonism toward the institution, as a whole. Those are undeserved, but I have difficulty being grateful for friendship when I wish to be a daughter. I learned from this experience that my mom is happy to associate with me as long as no one knows I'm her offspring, that she's ashamed of me, somehow, and that she's comfortable with the limitations and boundaries of friendships when it comes to our relationship. I learned that I'm fun to be around, but I don't deserve familial intimacy. I learned that even my mother does not want more than a distant tie to me--so how can anyone else wish for closeness with me?

And so, as TB and I try out the "being in each other's lives" thing, all I can think about is that this is an impossibility. I'm not really loveable. I don't belong in my blood family, so belonging to people outside of that entity is not something I really comprehend. And trying to become something different is causing me a great deal of pain.

I suggested to TB that people like me should probably just be "apart" from other people. He asked me if that means I want to stop being a part of his life. I don't even know how to answer that question. Do I want that? No. If I did, I would never have tried the "being" in his life in the first place. I wouldn't be talking to him nearly every day for the past seven years. I wouldn't ask his opinions and advice. I wouldn't miss him. But I don't have any idea how to feel about this. It makes me hurt inside.

My head is saying, "Sam--this is a good, healthy relationship lots of people wish they had--and you have it. Why are you feeling pain about it?" And my heart answers, "I don't know."

I'm going to bed now. I can't figure this out at all.

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