–Landslide by Fleetwood Mac
It was pointed out to me that everyone I’ve expressed interest in or who has expressed interest in me, relationship/dating-wise, lives about 1,000 miles away. A very astute observation. The same person also pointed out that I’m where I need to be. Another astute observation. However, the latter was actually made before the former, so I’m not sure if that denotes a subtle shift in opinion regarding where he thinks I belong or not.
Yes, the people I actively have feelings for all live 1,000 or so miles away from me. Which is probably for the best. Because right now? Not a good time for me to be a in a relationship. I feel too weak, too damaged, to scared, and honestly too ambivalent (on some days) to be a good partner. My baggage is poorly packed, my heart is making a bloody mess on my sleeve, and I’m not at home in myself anymore. Not a good partner in any shape or form.
My minister, when I first went to see him a few times before I had a therapist, asked me what in me makes me think I deserve to be treated the way I have been. He recommended that I read Legacy of the Heart: The Spiritual Advantages of a Painful Childhood by Wayne Muller. To be frank, while I did plan to give it a look over, I really thought I had healed from the shitty childhood I had and wasn’t expecting much beyond blaming and shaming poor parenting, and really, I’m just done with that. I’d had the requisite years of therapy, some stellar and some sucktastic. I am (mostly) able to write about painful things in my past without breaking down. Talking about horrendous episodes had gotten much easier. I was fine. I AM fine.
Then I started reading the book.
You know what really sucks? When you’re not as fine as you really want to believe you are. Not nearly as fine as you think you should be after all this damn time. That some scars may’ve stopped hurting but that’s not because they’ve healed but because they’re kind of numb.
It also really sucks when you read a book that exposes the coping mechanisms you’ve gotten so good at they almost felt like they were just normal, healthy parts of living, all the empty spots that you’ve tried to fill in various ways unsuccessfully, and those myriad ways you feel inept, unwelcome, and unworthy:
“When we doubt our own belonging, we grow desperate, and we learn to grab almost anything – a job, a sexual partner, a lifestyle – and make that our place of belonging. In our desperation we lose both our serenity and our sensitivity to the needs of others. If I need your company to feel that I belong, then I am more concerned with how I impress you than I am with your particular needs and desires. You become merely a vehicle for my belonging, an agent to my comfort, no longer [someone] with your own hopes and dreams. As I approach you, it is not you that I touch, it is my own desperation.”
And it’s simply amazing how painful things that happened long ago can translate into adult lives:
“When we are convinced how little is a available for us, we feel confused about how much is enough. How much can we ask for, what can we hope for? When we resign ourselves to a life where love and joy will never come in abundance, we reduce the depth and breadth of what is possible for us, making our lives small and sparse. ‘Ask and you shall receive’ rings hollow in the heart that has grown to expect less and less. There will never be enough for us; why bother asking at all?”
These passages both hit me like a hot pink brick truck. I’m too desperate, hungry, and raw to be a good partner. I’ll either wind up giving everything (or simply more than I should) away again, trying frantically to phoenix my way through it, and be left wondering why I’ve been reduced to a smoldering pile of ashes, or I’ll go in selfishly, aggressively trying to get everything I hadn’t gotten in the past, ruthlessly making demands, and being disappointed at the inevitable shortfall and fallout. I have things I need to sort out, one of which is not being afraid to ask for what I want. Yet also finding a balance between my desires and those of a partner. There’s so much that goes into maintaining a relationship that right now, the thought of doing it again exhausts me. Of course, I just have to think about a hug, a look, a tone of voice, a gentle surprise, a touch and I’m reminded of why it’s all worth it…once I get my head and heart back on straight.