I was very proud of myself for how I handled Saturday night–that’s the next post. Sunday was tough, though.
It started with me misinterpreting something M said. My Halloween costume is purposely not at all sexy (which feels like an act of rebellion), and he said something about it being foxy. I thought he was being sarcastic, and I sort of unleashed of a flood of insecurity and neediness that didn’t go over well.
Any time I date or like a guy, the biggest challenge is containing/intellectualizing myself through insecurity and neediness. It repels most people, and I understand why people wouldn’t like me if they had to deal with it. A little bit of that burden was relieved by usually having a “backup” guy to validate me in case I was rejected by someone I really liked. Getting “better” at dating over the last year meant getting more and more skilled at hiding my vulnerability from whoever I like. (My friends know that I’m an anxious, ruminating disaster). I always felt proudest in dating when I feel I’d successfully pulled off fooling the guy into thinking I had decent self esteem.
Yes, this is something I’m working on in therapy, but there’s no quick fix for this. In the meantime, I need to figure out how to navigate relationships as I am without eroding them.
In August, in the aftermath of the “cheating” drama (which was my fault) with M, I looked back and saw that the nature of my relationship with him was very different than mine with anyone else in the last year. (That’s why my usual dating m.o. just didn’t fit with him–we were closer and in more contact, so I had to lie or be uncomfortably upfront about any other dates. I picked the wuss option, and now I’m not sure he’ll ever trust me). I always showed him more of me–but I still protected myself in some ways. After it happened, and he found out how strongly I felt about it, I didn’t see the point of hiding it anymore. In a way, I felt like I deserved to be completely vulnerable with him, because I deserved to get hurt.
But also, I’ve tried since then to be more brave with him (and overall). Maybe I just want him to really know me so he can reject the real me as opposed to a false me, but it feels better and more authentic to have my heart on my sleeve. The constant vigilance that’s required to hide my anxiety (even from one person, if he’s constantly on my mind) and keep in the works a safety net for the inevitable abandonment ran me into the ground.
Lately, I’ve also sometimes controlled my ruminating out loud to friends–either because they are overburdened, or because I can sense it’s putting them off. That sometimes leaves me with nothing to do with my anxiety but to talk to the person about whom I’m perseverating.
Here are some of the things I’ve done:
- I talked to my ex (in person) about a concern I had. That’ll be post #1. He often wells up when we talk about certain things, so I usually email him so he doesn’t have to deal with the discomfort in person. I didn’t want it to be in writing because I’m extra self-conscious about what he says about me to his fiancee. I had rather concrete proof of their affair, and the worst thing of it were the lies he told her about me. They were embarrassing. Anyway, I wanted an actual conversation, and I got one (although it was short, because we had to be discreet with our daughter in the next room).
- I’m self-soothing without any inherently self-destructive or self-defeating coping mechanisms. That’ll be post #2. That’s maybe part of why I’m so neurotic/insecure/needy right now. I have to figure out how to navigate life and relationships without those (unhealthy) coping mechanisms, and it’s forcing me to find ones that are better. I’m obviously not doing that great with this–that’s the whole point of this post.
- It took me weeks to work up the courage, but I did ask him how he felt about me last week. He said he likes me, but he can promise me even less than he could when we met. Also, even if he still liked me and finally was healthy and able to focus on anything other than the physical, it seems to be less and less likely that he’ll ever not hate me for the things in August.
- I used to be very phone phobic, and he respected my desire to mainly text. A lot of that had to do with my last relationship, and I’ve worked through it. I’m not really phone phobic anymore. I’ve suggested talking by phone a few times. I guess I’ve given up on it with him for now. I’m so raw right now, it’s hard to not feel rejected, and I can’t sort out “don’t want to” from “want to but can’t” unless it’s spelled out for me. However, it’s happening with a couple girlfriends, which is a huge improvement.
I’m not putting this on the list, because I thought at the time I was being brave and authentic, but it blew up on me and upset both of us. On Sunday, was feeling very insecure, and I looked to him for reassurance for the millionth time.
Here’s the thing: I can hear something positive over and over–even cognitively/intellectually believe it to be true–but still not *feel* that it’s true. I can rationalize it, talk about it objectively, but *feel* like I’m just trying to talk myself into something, because I still have an ache in my chest and butterflies in my stomach. I’ll also actually hear what is almost a voice of anxiety relentlessly reminding me of any possible holes in the story.
We talked about this quite a bit in the eating disorder group I was in for years. I am an intellectualizer, so I tended to try to talk myself into being objective and rational as I spoke in group. The leaders would then ask me how I *felt,* what IRrational me thought, or just how I “felt” regardless of whether or not my feelings made logical sense.
This is a perfect example of that. If you asked me if M finds me attractive, I’d say yes. But there was a tiny piece of the fallout from the drama in August that happened to hit directly on a bad wound from my childhood that had to do with my appearance, and it was enough for the anxious voice to grab onto and make me *feel* like he doesn’t find me attractive.
His feelings toward me are the same way. He says he likes me, and I believe him. However, he has said that he can promise me even less now (which I understand–that’s not personal at ALL, it has to do with his own situation), and even if he was feeling better, he can’t give me any hope that he’d want anything to do with me, because he hasn’t really been able to process the nuttiness in August. So, basically, I could be waiting for and getting more attached to him only to get my heart broken later on because he doesn’t trust me. So it doesn’t always *feel* like he likes me, and it’s frightening.
I read back through our conversation this morning–because I remembered he suggest that I did–and, of course, it made me very sad.
I think I can see his side, and there’s my side, which I feel is both valid and irrational. We don’t understand each other at all.
He thinks he’s been very clear about how he feels about me, and that me not internalizing it makes him feel that he’ll never be doing enough for me.
I want to shut off the anxiety that tells me that him liking me is too good to be true, and I feel like he turned his back on me when I asked for help.
He’s hurt that I don’t apparently *believe* him when he has never lied to me. (The same isn’t true of me–I lied to him about going out with another guy in August). I believe him intellectually, but I sometimes have overwhelming thoughts/feelings that directly contradict it. The most direct way to combat that is to get reassurance from him, but now I’m afraid to do that, because his reaction felt a huge rejection, and it hurts so badly.
He thinks I’m searching for excuses to start dating again or look for attention from other guys (based on August and probably past blog posts).
I have no interest in seeing anyone else or reconnecting with anyone I used to see. I’m looking for a sign that he’s not going to break my heart. I don’t bother arguing with him on it, because I don’t think I can convince him with words. I’m just doing what I’m doing and hoping, even as time goes on and the chances of it happening are less and less, that he sees it and eventually trusts me.
He is burdened with serious health issues that are at the forefront every moment of every day, and I’m annoying him with my neediness.
I understand that at least.
I don’t know how to proceed now. I removed “looking to other guys for validation” as a quick fix, and going directly to him ended up making me feel worse and more frightened. So what now? I’m writing about it. That’s a start. I’m obviously showing him too much of me. I don’t have to be dishonest about anything, but I can be less dependent on him, maybe keep my worries to myself. My attitude of “fuck it, just show him all your ugly, and maybe he’ll be one who likes you even with all your faults right in his face” is making me too much of a pain in the ass.
I wanted so badly to at least sort of resolve this. The last thing we said at all related to it was him telling me that I came off in my “how to contact me” post like I want guys to contact me. And it’s my fault, because I told him to catch up on my blog. (I honestly expected a reaction to the miscarriage post, though. The cell phone post was just kind of a sanctimonious “I hate everyone, you’re all terrible, learn some fucking manners, boys” post). But I’m afraid to. Everything I said just made it worse.
I was going to email him maybe, to try to tie things up just a little bit–or at least to explain that I’m not dating, talking to any male in any way resembling the way people talk before and after they go out on a date, and I’m not hoping to reconnect with any men. But, then he was busy yesterday, and I’ve already been enough of a nuisance lately.
It’s hard to hold back from him, though. He is so sweet, and I feel so warm when I’m talking to him or with him. I end up letting down what little guard I have and blurting. Even after Sunday, even with how much of a takeway “deal with your shit and leave me alone” was, I know that on some good day, I’ll temporarily forget the fear of feeling how I do right now, and I’ll end up sharing too much. At best, I’ll feel stupid and embarrassed. At worst, he’ll be hurt and angry.