A couple of years ago I noticed that my support base was shrinking. This was not unexpected. Indeed, I saw it coming even before the support base was established. It was one reason I hesitated to accept help from people in the beginning. But then I thought maybe it would be good for me to learn to trust people. Therapist helped me by assigning projects that would cause me to bond with them. I never did learn to trust all the way, but there were days when I felt certain I could trust some of the people in my life. That feeling didn't ever stay, but it was nice when it was there.
When those closest to me became more intricately involved in their own lives, it became necessary for them to stop being with me as often. This was part of the plan. I fully expected that as I continued with therapy my need for support would decrease. The timing of that would, of course, coincide with my support base's need to move their attention away from me. But life rarely follows my plans.
What I didn't know was that I would have a number of hurdles that would impede my therapeutic processes. I didn't know that while I would, indeed, grow stronger, my life would become more unmanageable and stressful. So as expected, the support people grew away from me, but I needed them even more. This is no one's fault. It's just what happened.
I spoke to Therapist about this a year ago. I was feeling desperately alone and there seemed to be no one left to turn to. There was a great deal of silence when I reached out to people. Therapist asked, "Does the silence feel like abandonment?" I thought about it for a moment. "No," I said, "It feels punitive." Therapist said, "Do you think that's the intent of your support people?"
Of course it's not. Certainly, if I asked about it, everyone in my life would simply let me know they got busy or were just not able to talk to me when asked - for many different reasons. And it would all be logical and true. Which does not change the fact that it feels like I'm being punished and I don't know what I did wrong.
In my head I hear people reminding me that I'm allowed to contact them if I need to talk. I weigh that against the silence. Silence speaks louder.
Therapist asked me what my support people might say if I told them the lack of response feels punitive. I waited a moment, pretending to think. I knew what I was supposed to say. Finally, I said it, "No doubt they would feel badly that our timing didn't match. They'd try to make time for me later. They would be reassuring about caring for me."
That was kind of the end of it.
Except not really. Because I don't believe anything I said in that last part. I mean, I believe it would happen, but I also believe that the reassurance would stem from feeling awkward because I asked the forbidden question. You're not supposed to ask why people disappear. You're just supposed to accept that it's happening, stop feeling sorry for yourself, buck up and ignore the PTSD. It's not nice to be intrusive. It's not allowed to ask people where they have gone. Because if they've become scarce, there is a very good reason for it. They'll tell you all the good reasons if you overstep the bounds of propriety and actually ask.
What I hear, though, is this, "Sam, you used to be important to me (or entertaining or somewhat interesting). So we pretended to be close. You told me things about your life, and I shared things about mine. But now my life is changing and I really don't want to share with you anymore. So I'm busy. Really busy. And sometimes I think about you, but then I get busy again. You understand, right?"
I do, yes.
And it feels punitive, I suppose, because somewhere along the line I did something wrong. That's how it worked when I was growing up. If you're "good," the people in charge will be nice and care about you a little bit. And if you're not, probably they don't have time for you anymore. They're busy.
Therapist would tell me the support people in my life are not "in charge." He would say they really aren't in the business of emotional blackmail, and probably the last thing they intend is for me to feel that they're punishing me. But this is a sticking point for me. It's why I've never before cultivated close relationships. I understand that I'm broken. I know that I'm wrong. I also do not know how to stop feeling the way that I do about this situation.
And the weirdest thing is that there is a very large part of me that is really happy that they're busy being in love, and having families, and working, and living their lives. I want that for them. I support that with all my energy. But somewhere in the background is a tiny bit of Samantha who wonders why she's in time out, while at the same time understanding that she's completely wrong about that.
I'm sort of tired of being wrong. I'm really tired of feeling anything. And I have a great deal of work to do before Monday. It's good to be busy.