I have been feeling guilty about wanting to stop seeing my therapist, mainly on her account. In this context, she asked me if I am very concerned with how I affect other people. Strangely, this innocuous little question knocked me for a loop.
My first reaction was “that doesn’t resonate with me at all.” We both paused, waiting for me to continue.
Magically, in the best way therapy can, this opened up a new avenue into my psyche, one I would not have discovered on my own. I proceeded slowly at first. I related that I am more concerned with how others affect me…but that didn’t sound right. Did that mean I am obviously self-absorbed? Goddess forbid! I wanted to find a shred of evidence that I did care how I affect others.
When I couldn’t immediately, I defensively explored out loud that it seems useless to be concerned about that because it is just guessing then. If someone doesn’t tell me how I have affected him, how can I know? Why be concerned about that? I felt better, almost smugly proud, after making this arguement. Then I backtracked.
Memories of worrying about my negative effect on people started trickling into my awareness. Once I admitted that I do care about my negative impact, I realized that I rarely or never consider how I positively affect people.
Friends, mostly women, have told me how wonderful I am, how happy they are to know me, but oftentimes I barely believe them. I don’t accept the compliment which means I don’t take it personally. My inner self never receives the message. In my philosophy class, my teacher explained that we are active participants in being offended; someone says words but we have to accept them to be truly affected by them…we stab ourselves with those words and feel offended. If I don’t want to do that, why would I want to refuse the positive words, preferring to stab myself with negative words of my own choosing?
I continued to talk out loud in general, even though I was thinking in specifics, namely, my ex-boyfriends. I was getting choked up, realizing I have no clue if any of them were positively affected by me. How do they even remember me, if they do at all?! Something close to panic began to grow inside me. I kept talking to keep it at bay.
My therapist and I are both Scorpios, so it was easy and natural to seque into the following point. In all the love horoscopes I have read for fun, Scorpio women are highly praised. I have read countless times that you will never forget a Scorpio woman, you should hold onto her if you are lucky enough to find one, she is passionate, loyal and worth the ride! This used to bring me pride and confidence, but after a few “failed” relationships, I cannot help but wonder why no one has thought that about me.
I am not proud of that thought, and I am still exploring who I would actually be compatible with. It is becoming clear that I might be falling for the “wrong” kind of man (subject for a future essay). However, this journey had helped me to see that I hope I did positively affect the men I loved, but I doubt I did without any proof. Only one of my exes is someone I talk to, and I don’t think I affected him much if at all.
Looking at my last relationship, I wondered if there was any evidence I even affected him while we were together. Did he change at all to accomodate me? Was our relationship a dialogue or two one-sided monologues? I haven’t looked hard enough yet, but there is one memorable thing which he did differently after he got to know me better. I was pleasantly shocked when he first did it. After we showered, he would wait for me to wipe all the water from my body before handing me a towel. That made me ridiculously happy. This was a sign that he noticed a preference of mine and was willing to do something differently for me! It seems silly even as I write it. I am having trouble thinking of anything further…something that was for me and not just any woman.
After we broke up, for good, I wanted to complete our relationship (along the lines of: http://www.interchangecounseling.com/blog/6-steps-to-completing-relationships/). I doubted he could do it, but I still asked. When he didn’t respond, I accepted it wouldn’t happen. Then when he did ultimately refuse, I pretended to be ok with that. It is just now I can acknowledge how painful it was. By not needing that for himself, he was demonstrating he didn’t care what I needed. So I will never know how I affected him, for good or ill. His lack of communication on this is, in effect, a denial that I did affect him at all. I feel written out of his story, and that is more hurtful than anything.
I want to believe the best relationships are those between people who are mutually affected by each other in positive ways. Perhaps the men I have loved did not want to be impacted by me and we broke up because of this. Maybe this is a red flag I have never looked for…maybe my lesson here is look for people who know how to be affected, who know how to love in dialogue.
(Although I don’t believe this next statement yet…I want to:) I deserve to be in a relationship in which my partner is happy to be changed by me, through me…and so he must truly see me. I am more than a woman; I am my Self, unique and myriad. I am also fluid, willing to be changed, to be affected…I am not rigid and attached to one “right” shape. And while I have no idea what it feels like to be in a love dialogue, I do know it is what I want for my Self, and choose to deserve.