Thursday, November 01, 2012

Therapizing Oneself

Many years ago a friend said to me, something along the lines of:
You know, I really like you, and I was wondering why I don't consider you a "best friend" type. I think it's because you don't really share yourself in a way, that you don't let people in. I mean you'll talk about anything, and I know I can tell you anything, but I don't feel like I "know" you.
J, if you are reading this, I have replayed that conversation at the Barnes and Noble in Oakland many, many times. You were not the first person to say something like that to me, nor the last but I have held onto that moment all these years as an important talisman in the lesson of living my life. 

I realized quite young that I tell people about me, tell them my life story in snippets or saga length but there is often something missing. It might have been in high school that I realized I was merely reciting, that I was talking about it as if it did not quite happen to me, but around me.  Back then I suppose I thought I was being strong, which granted was something that my life required back then, and since. 

Delving deeper into this habit, I suppose it dates back to being quite young and the lack of skills in my family. It was easier to be quiet, to not call attention to myself. However, don't we all want attention from our parents? That was not something I could count on, which has resulted in me doing a push-pull with attention. This has meant that starting in middle school I would tell my family story - which is a little unusual, with detachment and inwardly feed on the gasps, the raised eyebrows, and "Oh you poor thing!"  However the lack of outward response I think has caused me to seem aloof, to keep people at a distance; which of course if you don't believe people are trustworthy that best thing to do is to hold them at arms length, even as much as I have wanted to be scooped up and let go into someone. 

For the last few years I have been actively working on this "problem". When I was with BC I tried hard to shed the defenses, to be a bit more vulnerable with her - which after the huge betrayal of Her Geekiness was rather ballsy of me to attempt. Yet I did. And in many ways I would say that I succeeded. Given how things went down in a ball of flames, on some level, with BC, not surprisingly I reassessed this plan. It would be easy to blame my openness for the level of hurt I experienced. But on the other hand, the level of hurt I attained was clearly due to older wounds being opened, and could not have happened if I hadn't opened up. So was opening up bad? In retrospect, no I don't think it was. That doesn't mean I now open up willy nilly - just ask my sweetheart, in two years I think actual crying has been witnessed maybe twice. My opening up about my more, well, embarrassing traits, habits have been slow to be verbalized, though I do talk about wanting to be more open, which I suppose is an improvement. 

My ability to reach out to people when I am having a hard has improved, even though recently it resulted in leaving three voicemails. This could sound miserable but for me it's a victory. I called someone, when they were not around I did not curl into a tighter ball on my couch, I did not lose myself in a computer game, I tried another person, and then another. This is huge for someone who has spent at least six months worth of those days, not reaching out to another soul in any form, choosing instead to believe either no one cared, I wouldn't know what to say (as if I had to justify needing support), or some other utter nonsense.

Thank you, J for helping me see how I could take steps to be more myself, and hopefully be a better friend.

No comments: